Danny and Daisy are driving to their campsite, a week into their camping trip, somewhere out west in Utah. Danny glances sideways to drink in the lanky body of Daisy in her shorts and halter top. Taking off for a camping trip, where he can have her near him around the clock, should make him forget the unease he has felt since that day talking to Professor Isaac, and the anger he still feels at having his story cut. Daisy, for her part, is also looking forward to two weeks alone with Danny. No phone. No editor. No assignments. Most of their friends are married, and many with small children in arms or on the way, and she rarely has opportunity to pry him away from his enthusiasms. Danny is still upset in part as he is still angry about his story being canned, being silenced and feeling there is something to it. It is pouring rain, the windshield wipers flapping furiously and the car steamy. Daisy says,
Honey, you've got to let that go. It's all just theory anyway. This is your vacation, and all you've done is fume about it. We've been on the road almost a week already, and between you moaning about that damn planet and Maya quashing your article and this damn rain, it feels more like Hell than a vacation. How can it be raining so much! Dry as a bone in New Jersey and washing away in the rest of the country.
But Danny is still seething.
It's just that all those things Professor Isaac was relaying, that stuff really happened. No one can explain it, there's nothing that fits except the passage of this rogue planet. Even a friend of Einstein's, guy named Hapgood, figured this out. Said the sliding crust theory is the only explanation, and Einstein agreed! And then they stop it at the gate, block the story from getting past editors. And that observatory guy!
Danny is almost gritting his teeth in his rage, his anger at being blocked at all fronts palpable. As a young man, he is running into the reality of life in the grown up world, and not liking what he is finding. How dare the truth be buried, a cover-up occur in front of his eyes! Daisy would just as soon put it aside, as she has other things on her mind.
All that stuff gets my stomach in a knot. There's nothing you can do about it, so forget it, honey.
Danny is ignoring her but reaches over to pat her thigh with a glance and a smile so she does not pout. Seeing that he is not going to comment, Daisy switches on the radio.
.. seem to have completely disappeared from most wetlands. Naturalists theorize that the damaged ozone layer may be a factor, allowing harmful sun rays to kill the frog eggs, but the disappearance of frogs is not just occurring in areas affected by the ozone holes. For those traveling on I-15, we have a flash flood warning near Fishlake National Forest. Drivers should take alternate routes, or drive with extreme caution. . .
Daisy quickly switches off the radio, not wanting bad news to spoil the mood. Daisy turns and looks out of the car window. It's still raining. She says,
Are we on I-15?
Danny's battered blue Toyota is beset by a downpour, moving slowly. Up ahead beyond some hills the highway is flooded, traffic stopped on either side of the washout.
Danny and Daisy sit around their camp site sharing a beer with some campers from the site next to them. Introductions have already been done, tents are setup, dinner dishes washed and put away, a fire roaring in front of them as Danny and Daisy and the couple camping next to them prepare to relax at the end of the day. It has stopped raining, but occasionally some water splashes off the rain drenched trees above them, causing the group to raise their hands to block the drops when this happens, or shake the drops off their shirts afterwards. Danny is perched on a convenient rock. Danny says,
Pull up a rock . . you wanna beer?
Jane is from California and a health nut. She quips back.
Do you happen to have any fresh squeezed orange juice?
We have some fresh squeezed Coors.
Danny leans forward, putting his elbows on his knees, and gets a serious look on his face.
I'm in the newspaper business, and ordinarily we chase a story down and if it has any appeal at all, rush it to press. Well, I had a real live wire, a local professor who had a theory about crop circles. Gave a talk at a local club and someone in the audience was so impressed they sent me the flyer. Then he called the paper wanting to get some coverage. What the heck, we print everybody else's theories about crop circles - its math, it DNA, whatever. His theory was that we've got another planet in the Solar System, comes orbiting around only once every 3,600 years or something, and these crop circles show up just ahead of another visit, like a warning!
Danny holds up two fingers, counting off on them.
Two things are bothering me here. One, he had a damn good argument, and two, my editor wouldn't let me print the story.
Jane's husband, Frank, is pleased that the campground has at least one party he can talk to, beyond the usual chatter about mosquitoes and barbecue sauce.
You're talking about Sitchin's theory. He claimed some ancient records showed that this planet exists. And that number - 3,600 years - these ancients had a term for it.
Danny sits up, back ramrod straight, suddenly energized.
Well, dang! My editor went ballistic when I presented the story. I've never seen him like that. So now I'm wondering, if there's nothing to it, why did he react like that? So I went out to see this guy, the professor, and he told me the media is being silenced. He told me the government knows about this, has the dang thing in its sights and is watching it barrel towards us, and is saying nothing to the rest of us!
Danny starts demonstrating what's going to happen with his hands, relaxing now that he can talk about his worries and has an intelligent ear.
Mountains pushing up, tidal waves rolling across the coastlines, howling winds, and of all things, red dust. Red dust.
A slight flicker of a smile plays over Frank 's mouth, seeing Danny's consternation. Having lived with the legends, and with a wife well into New Age prognostications, Frank had come to find these theories almost stale.
Oh, there's something to it all right, at least all the prophecies point to it in one way or another.
Finding an opening, Jane leaps in.
The Hopi speak of the Purification Day, when the whole world will shake and turn red. And White Buffalo calves are being born, that's another Indian prophecy coming true.
Loath to let his wife take the center stage completely, a constant battle between them, Frank joins in again.
There was an obscure channeled work by an Ohio dentist, about a hundred years ago. Oashpe, I think it's called. Talks about a Red Star that travels and causes a lot of death. Says that souls are harvested at that time. That's the term used - harvested.
Glancing at her husband, and seeing an opening, Jane jumps in.
Edgar Cayce saw California covered with water.
But Frank has the prize prophecy.
And then there's Mother Shipton, several hundred years back, who pretty much predicted the same thing back in merry 'ol England. She had a good track record on predicting our technology, too.
Frank stands up and quotes Mother Shipton.
For seven days and seven nights
man will watch this awesome sight.
The tides will rise beyond their ken
to bite away the shores and then
the mountains will begin to roar
and earthquakes split the plain to shore.
Still emotionally unwilling to accept the situation, even if his intellect is telling him otherwise, Danny interrupts.
Aw, come on! You can't be serious! Do you really think that's going to happen?
Jane comes to the rescue, as she always does when opinions differ.
Let's see what the cards say.
Jane pulls out her Tarot Cards and shuffles them, spreading them out in a fan like fashion, face down on the blanket below which has been spread out over the pine needles. She turns the top cards over, one by one. The first card is the card of Death. Danny, eager for some reassurance at this point, raises his eyebrows. Danny says,
Colonel Cage is talking to a Zeta from the Zeta Reticuli star system. The room is dark, lights off, as a private conversation is going on. Standing
in the shadows is a middle-aged man, fit with no signs of middle-aged spread or slack muscles. A military man, Colonel Cage considers being fit
the first bastion of discipline. Tightly disciplined, he lives by rules both military and personal, which often are at war with each other.
The colonel is talking to a figure taller than he, bone thin, with an enormous head seemingly too heavy for the stick thin body. But there is grace in the motions made by the long lanky arms, and the colonel seems not to notice or be alarmed by the shape of his companion. He has long been accustomed to conversing with this visitor from Zeta Reticuli. Where a conversation is going on, only the voice of the colonel can be heard. Yet the intensity of his words shows that an interchange of ideas is clearly going on.
We can't tell them. Don't think I don't want to. It's orders, and orders are orders
Colonel Cage breaks down a bit, moving his hands in front of him in an emotional way, as though groping for an answer, a resolution that will not come.
My God, don't you think I want my neighbor's children safe? They practically live at my house. But if I say anything I'll disappear. What will my Mary and the kids do then, for God's sake.
Back at the campground, the foursome has been camping together for a few days, hitting it off. During this time the days seemed inordinately dim, as though overcast to the point of not being able to see the Sun. Due to the cloud cover, they took this to be an extremely cloudy day, but Frank has been nervous. Danny as he is leaning into his car, retrieving some item with the car door open. Frank comes up behind Danny. He says,
It's so damn dim I can hardly make you out! I've never seen it this overcast, it's eerie. We've not seen the sun for the past few days.
Danny ducks out of the car, looking around him to ensure that Daisy and Jane are not in earshot, before replying in a low voice.
Did those prophecies you were quoting the other night say anything about something like this? This gloom?
Frank raises his eyebrows, suddenly realizing something he'd forgotten. He raises his hand.
Be right back.
Frank dashes off into his tent, rummaging around, coming out with a book he is flipping through frantically. Finally, after pausing, he quotes.
Here it is. The Biblical three days of darkness predicted. And in the Book of Amos 'I will cause the Sun to go down at noon and I will darken the Earth in the midst of daytime.' And the Greeks, in the Phaethon, 'One whole day went without the sun. But the burning world gave light.'
Frank pauses, looking at Danny.
At NASA in Houston the darkened skyline can be seen on a video, as though stalled at the pre-dawn hour when the sky is light but no sun can be seen. Rows of
gray metal tables are placed to look forward at this wall, which has several video screens, all currently meshed together to show the same scene, an enlarged
skyline. This is one of those high tech video screens that can show individual shots, or can mesh together to show a large single shot. Monitors and keyboards and
various other electronic equipment are on the tables, computer chairs that can scoot about with wheels, and some papers and folders here and there. This is a work
room, a war room, and it is filled with men and women in business attire, ties pulled open, shirt collars unbuttoned, some hair frazzled as hands have gone to heads
now and then, the situation, not appearance, the only concern.
A NASA employee, his hair up in the air on one side, his hair grease holding it there, stands numbly staring at the screen, saying not a word to anyone as though frozen in stance and speech. A second employee walks through the room hurriedly, brushing past others as he passes, intent on talking to another whom he stops to engage in animated conversation. Others in the room are on the phone, shuffling papers, talking with each other, or sitting with their heads in their hands. Yet a third employee has a mobile cell phone in his ear, is gesturing with strong forward thrusts of his hand, an angry look on his face. He says,
.. time to go to the bunker!
Leaning over a table and bringing his fist down now on the table, in anger, easing himself into his chair as he is trembling with rage.
You told me when this started to happen we'd leave. Now I want to know where the God damn bunker is! Now!
At the McGregor ranch Martha is normally up before dawn preparing breakfast for her hard working husband. Big Tom wolfs down his breakfast, slurping coffee and shoveling in eggs and fried potatoes like there is no tomorrow, talking between swallows about the chores he has lined up for the day.
. . found a broken fence yesterday, better get that fixed before the cattle discover the break.
Big Tom glances up to gesture in the direction of the broken fence, and stops mid-sentence as it is stone dark out and the dawn should have painted the horizon with orange streaks by now. He is silent for a moment, his arm out-stretched in mid-gesture. Then he falls back to eating, but keeps glancing out the window, nervously, a puzzled look on his face. He checks his watch, glances to the clock on the wall, and asks his wife what her stove clock says.
. . Martha, what time do you have?
He holds up his watch and she stares at her clock and then they both stare at each other. When he discovers they are all in sync, he shakes his head and goes back to wolfing his breakfast down.
Martha has gone into her garden behind the house, but is too upset to be tending to the garden. She has her basket with her, to collect the produce, her hair tied back with a bandana to keep it out of the way as she would normally be bending over a lot, but is just standing there between the lettuce and onions and tomato plants, a worried look on her face. Suddenly she jerks her face up, though not a sound has been made to alert her to the presence of a Zeta beside her. She comes close to tears seeing a friend, her face showing relief at being able to seek counsel.
My God, what's happening!
A tall Zeta comes up to her and puts his right hand on her left shoulder, lowering his head to touch his forehead to hers. Martha rises her right hand and puts it on the Zeta's left shoulder at this, and they stand there briefly for a moment.
They pull back from each other, now gazing into each other's faces. Martha's face now reflects calm. She is no longer frantic and afraid.
Danny's eyes pop open in the darkened tent, though no sound or motion has awakened him. He shines a flashlight on his watch and a puzzled look comes over his face, as it shows 10:12 in the morning. Yet it is still dark. Feeling him stirring, Daisy wakens. She says,
Can't you sleep either?
Normally I sleep like a log on camping trips. Odd that we're both having trouble sleeping. I know what'll fix that.
Danny reaches for Daisy, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close, nuzzling her neck. The couple assumes they are having insomnia, the watch broken, and Danny is just settling into snuggling with Daisy when they hear voices from the New Age couple next door. Danny says,
They're awake too? Something's not right here.
Danny pulls on his pants and goes out to investigate.
The campers all meet by the smoldering camp fire, now out, and look around and at their watches. Daisy says,
Our watches seem to be fast.
A bit stunned and confused, the campers stand around the remnants of their campfire, looking first at their watches and then at each other. Frank and Danny compare times, then stare at each other. Danny says,
And Frank's concurs.
Danny goes to check the clock in his car, which also reads 10:16. He says,
Whatever it is, it's made all the clocks fast. We'll probably hear about it later on the news. Weird!
Jane is stirring last night's campfire, adding kindling, and puts some water on for coffee. Having no explanation for why their clocks are wrong, and not wanting to admit to themselves how frightened they are, the campers joke around. Jane says,
Everything looks better after a cup of coffee.
Frank smirks and says,
Yeah, we're all still just dreaming.
Daisy is sitting on a rock, a slight frown on her face, blinking and saying nothing, not willing to let go of her anxiety. Gradually the dawn rises, and the group shows their obvious relief. Daisy brightens like the rising Sun when the light of dawn shows, her face almost estatic.
Oh, there's the Sun!
Back at the Daily News in Newark, New Jersey, Zack Maya, the newspaper editor, is frantic, red in the face with anger, and standing as he phones a friend from his office as he is too agitated to sit. He is looking at his watch and where it appears to be dawn outside, his watch and the clock on the wall say 1:07 pm. He shouts into the phone.
What the hell's going on! You told me there wasn't any danger, you asshole. I did what you asked me to do, now what are you going to do about this!
It becomes apparent that the other party hung up on him. The editor is holding the phone away from his ear, staring at it, then muttering under his breath and hanging it up, looking decidedly despondent. The sound of beeping traffic and hysterical shouting can be heard out the window.
The clock at the New York Stock Exchange reads 1:11 pm. Life goes on, even in the face of the inexplicable. On the trading floor of the Stock Exchange, there are shouts and traders running to and fro with mobile cell phones to their ears, but the floor is uncharacteristically empty and quiet. Traders and dealers are standing around, staring at the big clock which now reads 1:11. There is some trading going on. Some shouts and people running around with mobile cell phones, but a lot of traders and dealers are just standing and staring at the big clock reading 1:11. People talk with each other, gesturing and pointing excitedly. Small groups watch TV monitors hanging from wires on the floor. CNN team talks about the daybreak being hours late.
.. scientists have yet to come up with an explanation for why this day is getting a late start. Most businesses and schools are operating at their normal schedule, but the confusion has ..
Out on the busy street outside, in Times Square, a drug dealer who would normally move through the crowd rapidly, making his contacts and moving to safer streets, stands with his back against a brick wall, eyes scanning the sky, cigarette in hand. A bum comes up to bum a smoke.
Got some smokes, man?
He is absentmindedly handed the entire pack by the dealer, complete with lighter. The dealer pulls out a joint and turns to the bum, asking for a light, apparently forgetting that he just handed the bum the pack and lighter, distracted.
Hey! Gimme a light, would ya?
Cars are stalled and people are looking out their windows at the sky. A group of farm kids get off a bus and look around in a big huddle.
So this is New York? Boy, they sure do have traffic jams! Mom was right!
An executive in a dark gray suit steps out of a cab, smooth black briefcase in hand. He notices a fine red dust powdering the sidewalk, and squats to pick up a pinch between his fingers, rubbing his fingers together. The fine dust is everywhere now - blowing off the tops of moving cars, settling into cracks in the sidewalks, and coming down onto the anxious up-turned faces like a fine mist.
It's now 11:30 am in the Rockies. At the campground, the fine red dust is powdering everything, but this passes notice due to being scattered by the branches overhead. Danny has come back from picking up groceries at the local Stop-n-Shop, and goes to open the trunk, finding that his finger leaves a mark on the trunk lid. He runs a finger through the dust, staring at the tip, puzzled. Frank is returning from the stream, fishing pole in hand but otherwise empty handed.
The stream is turning red, like blood, and the fish are bobbing up one after another, belly up, dying from whatever it is.
Daisy puts her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide open, an anxious look in her eyes. Jane says,
My God, the prophecies are coming true.
Danny is punching the buttons on his mobile cell phone now, listening, then punching another set and listening again. He's getting static, no ringing.
I'm not getting through, nothing's working.
Danny glances up into the sky.
These things work off the satellites . .
Frank is already bringing their camping supplies to their car, breaking camp. Jane is taking down their tent, throwing the poles in a pile as though she were racing against time. Danny is rubbing his forehead, trying to understand.
The campground store didn't have any news either. Their newspapers haven't been delivered, nor any of the regular delivery runs.
Seeing everyone in the campground starting to break camp, as though what others are doing is an imperative, Danny also starts to break camp. He walks to the campfire and starts stacking supplies in a box, silently. Daisy pulls her makeup case close to her as she sits on a log and begins to do her nails with great concentration. She begins a monologue about polish types and broken nails that she or her friends have experienced, though no one is listening.
I just can't get my nails to grow! . .