April 11, 1997
The sky lit more brilliant than by the Sun, sharp shadows marched swiftly to a hissing crackle. The bolide, a good ten kilometers across, struck the atmosphere a glancing blow and, much diminished from its brief contact with Earth's gauzy shell, continued on into the void.
Some fled; some were unaware; some though aware continued with their ordinary business of pursuing or being pursued, eating or being eaten.
A continent-long swath of vegetation was leveled. Great fires burned for weeks. But on the whole, the boundary between Cretaceous and Tertiary was not marked by anything worth talking about. Flowering plants came into their own, and birds, and small new mammals continued to scurry about, but Saurians and their fearsomely intelligent descendants remained the lords and masters of creation.
Just how close do things come? One tiny fraction of a minute and everything would have been entirely, utterly different. The Earth shaken on its foundation, the sky darkened for months or years. Food scarce, global temperature falling, whole species wiped out and because of their demise, still others higher on the food chain following close behind. Niches opening and closing with a catastrophic suddenness. One moment, everything was fine, and within seconds, everything wasn't fine and never would be again. It would have been the end of the world as we know it. Nestmates, it was a close call.
David Lance Goines
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