Narrow Escape

A few hundred million miles is not a long way in astronomical terms, so technically we had a narrow escape. Technically. And even though we didn’t know anything about it until after it happened, we all knew that a massive black hole whooshing past the Earth wasn’t something to be taken lightly.

We didn’t detect its movement towards us because information can’t escape a black hole. There were no warning signs of its approach, either here on Earth or further away; no disturbances in our satellite communication systems, for example, or wobbling of other planets in their orbits. Our scientists told us that it was like not knowing about a supersonic jet screaming across the sky until after the sonic boom resonates.

Maybe you know already; time passes slowly near a large mass like a black hole. You’d think that it would seem like an eternity for it to pass us, but the opposite is true. Even though our local time passes slowly, everything else carries on business as usual. In relation, events appear to happen quickly.

Our scientists helped us again to understand. It’s like a bird swooping past a tortoise. By the time the tortoise tucks his head slowly into his shell, the bird is long gone. Same with the whooshing black hole, except us tortoises didn’t have any time to get into any protective shells.

The first thing we noticed was the heat. A Doppler effect, I’m told, of a strong electromagnetic source moving away from us, stretching the wave fronts from high energy to lower energy infrared. A continuous bombardment of thermal heat absorbed by the atmosphere and pushing through to the surface. At least it wasn’t harmful gamma or X-ray radiation.

Scorching strong winds driven by a redistribution of the atmosphere after the outermost layers were stripped away by the black hole’s gravity were relentless. But our biggest problem was one point three billion cubic kilometres of ocean waters responding to the call of the black hole’s mighty gravity.

I was one of the lucky ones living in Europe, but those further west were directly under the peak of the gravitational force. Atlantic waters rushed to the West Pacific as tsunamis of epic proportions, obliterating the States on its way, and drowning East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

We lost our water to those doomed continents, but it returne...

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Paul Sterlini
Apr 29 2022

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Didn't know where this story was going then realised - who knows where the earth is going, where will we end up?
Thought provoking and chilling.

Wanda Sterlini
Apr 30 2022

Really, really cool story idea! I wished the story was longer, with more details.

BIll Dean
Apr 29 2022