The Earth wobbled that year. Right in the middle of pandemic, firestorm, hurricanes, and ongoing racial injustices.
Most everybody felt the Wobble more as a bob than a jolt, looked into the next person’s eyes—which were all that were visible above their face masks anyway—and said, “Did you feel that?” knowing it was not normal, and certainly nothing that could be explained easily by something that would lend reassurance, like an earthquake. It was instead a stretching of time, a subtle distortion that smeared the Now in a not unpleasant manner before everything caught up to itself again.
“I felt thinner,” said one man afterwards.
“I felt smarter,” said another, “and not in a bad way, either.”
Some were not so lucky, suffered nausea, even vomiting. Displayed psychotic behavior. Shot random people for no reason at all.
The internet took exactly 42 minutes to crash, not from the Wobble itself, but from people’s desire to share their reactions. By the third day of a darkened Web, people resorted to sending mail, but the post office had already slowed to sludge, and a letter could take two weeks to get across town because it had to go through Chicago first.
Humanity, which had previously descended into madness, now teetered on the brink of berserk. Politicians pointed at one other, the faithful blamed God, preachers blamed the faithful’s unfaithful behavior, and everyone else blamed the Russians. The trouble was, with scrambled communication waves, people lost track of who was blaming whom, so everyone assumed the Wobble caused the turmoil.
When several weeks passed without another Wobble, various authorities declared Problem Over. Conspiracy theories faded, scientists again scrambled for virus research dollars, and pretty much everyone moved on to the next crisis—that is, until someone noticed that the earth had veered slightly off course from its usual orbit and was now on a trajectory that flung it farther and farther from the sun.
“See what I did?” said one politician who happened to be up for re-election. “I told you not to worry about Global Warming.”
an escaped tech writer, now finds truth in fiction round and about the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has been published, performed, and yes, rejected by some excellent literary venues. She is sheltering in place, fending off the next crisis one word at a time.