Sam, about to turn seventy, was a happy retiree. He and Carl had worked together at the paper mill for thirty years. Now both retired, Sam and Carl spent most mornings on Sam’s boat in a secluded bay near Ada, their hometown. They fished mostly for bass, Carl silent while Sam remarked on how time had flown by.
Sam looked back over his shoulder to see if Carl had heard him. Carl was partially deaf in one ear. He had been hit by the boom of a sailboat as a boy and didn’t always catch everything.
Carl had stopped casting; instead he stared at the sky.
“Carl?” Sam turned around and studied his friend. He waved a hand in front of Carl’s ruddy face, but got no response.
“What’s going on, buddy? Talk to me.”
Carl sat unblinking and speechless. He seemed to be in a trance.
Sam looked out in the direction of Carl’s stare. Something was headed straight for them, ripping an ugly hole through the sky.
Sam leapt forward. He started hoisting the anchor with one hand, shaking Carl with the other.
“Carl! Come on! Grab the key and turn!”
Carl was closest to the boat’s controls, but he did move.
Hauling anchor, Sam paused to look back at the sky.
“Damn it! Come on, Carl! I need your help here! We’re not gonna get out of this! We’re not—”
The fireball—as near as Sam could tell, that’s what it was—was coming in fast. Now Sam knew they weren’t going to make it, and cursed again. He looked around, he wasn’t sure why, maybe taking stock, suddenly feeling old and tired. He saw his fishing gear, his boat, and his friend.
“Ah, hell,” Sam said. He dropped the anchor back into the water and sat down next to Carl. He took Carl’s hand and they both looked out at the sky. Neither one took their eyes off the fireball. To Sam, it looked like a perfect, shimmering sun setting over the water.
“Except it’s getting reeeeeal close.” Sam drew out the observation and laughed to himself. “I just paid off this boat.”
He and Carl had picked out the name together—Reel Trouble.
As the meteoroid passed over, Sam and Carl vanished in the fire trail. When it hit land, it burned through Ada and then burrowed into the earth eight miles inland.
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