Twenty years later
I waited on the tarmac with hundreds of other men and women staring up at the violet sky.
Today was the day.
“How many you got coming?” Mr. Nye asked next to me.
I almost didn’t hear him from the thoughts buzzing through my head. “Three. I have three.”
“Good for you,” Mr. Nye said. “I’ve got two.”
I turned my attention back to the tarmac and stuffed my hands into my pockets to keep them from shaking. I tried counting all 33 of the moons in the sky. Or tried to predict what colors the hills beyond the runway would switch to next. But none of it could calm my nerves. It had been too long. The impossible had happened and I couldn’t focus on anything else.
“It’s unbelievable,” Mr. Nye said. “How far are we from the moon now?”
“217 lightyears,” I replied automatically. That number had become my obsession these past twenty years. That and 13—the number of black holes Nefarious had opened up on the moon. And 632—the number of people one of those black holes had dropped onto this planet, 217 lightyears away. And now 20—the number of years it had taken Earth’s technology to advance enough to create wormholes.
I looked at the tarmac again and it suddenly occurred to me that this runway was probably unnecessary. They were going to be coming in at faster than the speed of light. Just as I was thinking that, there was a blaze of light in the sky and a silver ship appeared, covering three of the moons.
It slowly descended and landed on the tarmac.
The crowd murmured then people started moving closer. I pushed my way through, my heart banging in my chest and my breath caught in my throat. I made it to the front just as the hatch of the ship opened and lowered to the tarmac, revealing blinding white light inside. And little by little, men, women, and children walked out, surveying the waiting crowd. I searched the faces as they came out, my heart accelerating with each person I scanned. And then I saw them. My heart stopped for a brief second and I couldn’t breathe until I heard a word I’d been waiting to hear for 20 years.