MARCH 18, 2004: THURSDAY - 2:10PM. The man with the gray beard and white coat said there was no reason for any alarm. He forgot to add one last word: "yet."
Eva Luca's eyes felt leaden, like they had when she drifted out of sleep earlier that morning. She had fallen back to sleep instantly, but she had a habit of glancing over at her digital clock to see what time it was that she had woken up. A second before she had closed her eyes, the last number in the strand of eerie green characters had turned from a two to a three. The first two numbers had matched up perfectly with the final number. Then, as suddenly as Eva had woken up, she had fallen back to sleep.
Thank god it's spring break.
The annual spring break had arrived a little earlier than usual this year, but that was what happened with holidays every year: their dates always seemed to alter slightly. Either way, it worked out swell for Eva. She liked her sleep. To her amazement, her parents had not tried to snap her awake earlier this afternoon, when usually her mother, Fai, would come storming into the room and shake Eva's body to wake her up, along with shouting at her in some belligerent Chinese phrases.
Perhaps they had tried to rouse her, but she had fallen in too deep of a slumber to be disturbed. Well, now she was awake and ready to start the day.
Eva smoothed out her shiny thick and long ebony hair with the most durable brush her money could buy. She washed and dried her face and got ready to face the day, even though a good chunk of the day had already passed.
She wondered if her boyfriend, Cyrus, had called. He usually called her early in the day. Eva was the one who called much later on in the evening. Before she even walked into the kitchen, she heard the sounds of that female news reporter on the TV screen. There was some mention of some meteor that was sighted last night.
A meteor? That's kind of interesting, Eva pondered as she reached in for the milk gallon. She checked the expiration date: "March twentieth," she read aloud. "I have some time." She flexed her biceps as she poured what was left of the gallon into her cereal bowl. She had the strangest habit of putting in her Waffle Crisp cereal after she had poured the milk into the bowl. Her parents always used to yell at her for doing that. It was "not the natural order of things" they always seemed to frown at her. Well screw the natural order of things. I could care less. Cyrus had taught her that.
She plunged her spoon into the honeyed miniature waffles and crushed them under the weight of her strong molars, the chomping tones preventing her eardrums from catching the words of that Lia girl on the KASI10 news. The words "breaking update" were stark red, capitalized, and bolded-as if the word "breaking" wasn't enough, they have to make it look all urgent, Eva commented, the corners of her mouth lifting as she found humor in what her biology teacher had called her "cutting wit."
Eva caught the full view of her parents sitting on the dining room table facing the TV, engorged by the frames flashing on the screen so much so that they hardly said a word when she made her presence known.
"What's this all about?" she asked impatiently-as if I couldn't just sit down and find out for myself. She carried on with her cereal munching.
"Now, Daniel, you said the most recent sighting of Axel Meteor occurred at eleven o' five?" Lia inquired astutely.
The reporter, Daniel, who shared a slashed screen with Ms. Evangeline replied, "Yes, that is correct."
"How close is Axel Meteor to the Earth?"
Daniel touched his ear as if he hadn't heard Lia's last question. A moment later, he answered, "C.R.D.T. has made an approximate measurement of four hundred twenty-two thousand, four hundred feet, basically about eighty miles. Now, Lia, because the meteor is approaching the Earth at a steady rate of seven thousand, eight hundred twenty-two feet per hour, Axel Meteor will most likely be closest to the Earth on March twentieth, at about six p.m."
Eva occasionally spared the TV a brief glance but for the most part, she focused on her Waffle Crisps, which became soggier the longer they bathed in the milk.
"When you say 'closest to the Earth,' what precisely do you mean, Daniel?"
"C.R.D.T. has estimated that if they cannot divert Axel Meteor's path somehow or destroy it, then six p.m. on Saturday will be when the meteor collides with the Earth-"
Eva dropped her spoon in her bowl.
It took her half a second to register what the reporter had just declared to the world, and when Eva did feel the full weight of his words beginning to press heavily down on her fragile heart, her body forgot how to breathe.
"What!?" Fai exclaimed. She looked at her husband. Her English was not extraordinarily great. "What does that mean, Abraham?"
Abraham, a tall, overbearing middle-aged man with thin hair, could not even remove his eyes from the screen when he answered his wife. Abraham was not Chinese; he spoke perfect English because he was born and raised in America as a normal "white" teen. "It means that if those people, the smart scientist people, can't find a way to stop the meteor, it's going to hit the Earth."
"Does that mean we die?"
Before Abraham could respond, Eva hushed them up when the breaking update continued. "Ssh!" Eva had to listen.
Her parents grew still and watched with as much awe as Eva, as did the rest of the world. Soon enough, Axel Meteor was all the world could talk about it.

"Tell Mr. Nansen that I'll have the article in by six, sharp," magazine journalist Sara Finn declared in her cell phone as she stalked down Times Square, which was overcrowded as usual with its normal batch of hurrying pedestrians. "No, I can't have it in by five." Don't these people understand that when I say six, I mean six? -Not an hour earlier? "Look, Robert, I have to redo an interview because my computer didn't save-"
Sara nearly dropped her phone when she crashed into the back of someone in front of her. "Um, excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be." No one heard her. That was when she realized that Times Square had grown still. All eyes were on the jumbo-sized television. "What's going on?" Sara asked no one in particular; no one answered her. She followed their fearful gazes to the TV.
A man who could have passed as the older version of Carson Daly spoke to New York: "Axel Meteor has come within close proximity to the Earth. C.R.D.T. and the top researchers, scientists, and mathematicians from all around the world are working around the clock to find a way to either stop or destroy the meteor. They have not yet been able to."
"Umm, Robert? Tell Mr. Nansen that he won't be getting the article today. I have something more important to do." Before Robert could protest, she hung up the phone and stared, transfixed like the rest of the world's population, at the TV screen.

TV screens around the world announced the emergence of Earth's latest threat. Every country spoke the same language that day: fear and panic.