Carmina Wolf was an entomologist, specialized in bees and wasps. She had travelled the world tracing this little creatures and now headed off to her final destination: a UN summit in Geneva where she would be able to present her findings to a panel of experts put together by the FAO.
On the plane from Seoul to Geneva, she just kept thinking of the potential of her discoveries. It was terrible, of course, but it also meant something could be done. Nothing is definite when you realize it on time, or she thought.
The flight was really long but she couldn't sleep so she forced herself to watch some movies, none of which ere very interesting. She took her blanket and tried to sleep with some music on but then people started making noises. It was really annoying to get to Switzerland with no sleep and now people weren't helping. She heard them open their window shades, so she pulled the blanket over her head.
She stopped ignoring them when they started to scream and gasp and talk fast and loud. Suddenly all shades were being pulled up, so Carmina took a look through the window. She certainly wasn't expecting that...
High above the clouds and higher than the plane, a fire ball appeared to be falling down. The plane was very far but the ball could be seen easily as it's light was blinding, all white and powerful. It certainly was a scary moment but, for some reason, people were generally calm.
Short after, the pilot announcing all flights were asked to change course and go south. They haven't been asked to land anywhere close but there was still a possibility to do so.
An hour later, the ball of fire looked smaller but equally as bright. Carmina thought of the people below, and how scared they must have been. She checked her on board computer and realized they were flying over Russia, a country frequently hit by meteorites. A scientist she had met in a conference had told her so. But this meteorite looked massive or maybe that was because she had never seen one.
Suddenly the pilot spoke again and, this time, he said authorities of all the countries in the vicinity had decided to ground the planes. Carmina's one had to land in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. The pilot did not know for how long they would have to stay there but authorities were trying to keep the planes down for the minimum amount of time.
It was shortly before landing that the explosion occurred. It felt and sounded awful. The plane was hit by the sound wave and turbulence was really bad. People were screaming, babies crying, food trays hitting the ground and even bags falling from the overhead compartments. Everyone was a nervous wreck so, when the plane landed in Astana, it was not a surprise when everyone applauded and cheered the moment. They were all grateful to be alive.
They were evacuated through the inflatable slides on each door, to make it faster. Then, the pilot stayed with the airport authorities to assess any damage to the plane as the rest of the crew helped the passengers to a bus, which took them to the terminal.
Carmina was tired, from all that had happened and because she hadn't slept for a single minute but when they entered the building she realized it would take even more time to rest. The place was filled with people, both incoming passengers and people who had not been able to board their flights. Her group stayed in a corner, to have better control over everyone according to a stewardess.
Everyone fell silent when every single TV set on the terminal started broadcasting images of the meteorite and how it had it the ground with violence. Although the news station was in Russian, every passenger could understand that the meteorite was big but, thankfully, not the kind of fire balls that cause extinction. However, it had fallen near Omsk, a fairly large city in Russia. Imaged of destroyed windows, trees on fire and a houses destroyed was broadcasted for the remaining hours and, against all odds, Carmina was finally able to get some sleep.
When she woke up, it was dark outside. She went to the bathroom where she met a woman crying with her daughter sitting by the sink. The woman tried to clean her tears fast so Carmina wouldn't see her but it was to no use. In her stall, the entomologist heard the woman speak in Russian to her daughter, again crying unconsolably. It was heart breaking, even without having a clue about what was going on.
When Carmina came out of her stall, the woman was not there. She washed her hands, her face and tried to comb her hair with her fingers but the result was not very good. She came out of the bathroom and walked around, watching hundreds, maybe thousands sleeping on the floor. All the screen were turned off and only security agents roamed the place, gently smiling when she stumbled upon any of them.
She arrived at the food court and realized how hungry she was. But every store was closed, which was obvious because of the time of day and the current situation. The tables and chairs that were normally for eating were now occupied by people trying to get some sleep.
Carmina decided to step outside, to a little balcony the terminal had for plane enthusiasts. It was very cold but that didn't bother her. She looked and counted the planes on the tarmac. There were at least twenty and suspected there were more on other places of the airport. Suddenly the door of the balcony opened and an older woman came out. She looked at Carmina and smiled and contemplated the place.
After some time, the woman spoke:
- It will keep happening, you know?
Carmina did not understand.
- It will keep happening, more and more frequently.
- The meteorites, you mean?
She nodded. Carmina started to feel colder but was mesmerized by the odd look and mysterious attitude of the older woman.
- This world... We just live here. It isn't ours and it certainly isn't living forever.
- You think were all going to...?
- Die?... Maybe. Not necessarily but it's no secret we are heading in that direction.
It was so strange. It was if... She knew more. As if she knew the same thing Carmina had suspected months before.
- Sorry... Are you an expert of sorts?
The woman laughed and looked at her.
- Not really, child. I'm just aware of things around me.
The woman looked one last time towards the tarmac, smiled at Carmina and entered the building. The young woman did the same, as she was feeling too cold. The words of that woman were all around her mind but it was silly to worry now. She had to sleep as the following day was a hard one.
All planes were allowed to take off so she got to Geneva in time for her speech. She wasn't able to change clothes and excused herself for her looks but told the audience it was worth the speech. Everyone laughed of course. Then the presentation began.
Carmina had been working on this for five years now, since she had finished her studies. And the findings of her research could not be contested. She announced to the audience that the bee population around the world was decreasing due to various reasons, primarily climate change but also human interference. She declared that the decline was so representative, that in some places many flowers and plants that were abundant were now almost extinct. And she announced the same was happening with crops, although no one realized it because of the amount of cereals being planted.
In short, Carmina had discovered that food, was going to be more and more scarce due the disappearance of certain insects. Without them, hunger could strike anywhere. She closed her presentation by saying that recent events had made her realize how fragile the world was but that we had time to make things right, to find our true place in the universe. And she did believe it, more than ever before.