The first meteor hits in the middle of the day. I look up from my desk just in time to see something streaking across the sky. It disappears from my view, and a second later the whole building rattles. There's a crash of breaking porcelain as a mug topples from someone's desk, assorted curses, one short and surprised yelp. The next moment every light, every computer, every printer and piece of hardware in sight abruptly goes dead.
Briefly, for a fraction of a heartbeat, there is utter silence. Nobody speaking. Nobody moving. Not even the hum of our machines to keep us company. Then the spell breaks and everyone starts talking at once.
I'm on my feet. I don't even remember standing up. My heart is beating like crazy. What the hell did I just see?
Around me, everyone is forming into little groups, muttering darkly about power cuts. "Bloody nuisance," I hear someone say. "What's the number for maintenance?"
Quickly, stiffly, I walk to the window. Just to check, I tell myself, just to make sure everything's fine.
But everything's not fine. As I approach the window it comes into view: not a mile away, a great black tower of smoke and dust is rearing from the city, looking like a tornado in slow motion. The sight of it hits me like a fist, and for a moment it's all I can do to stand there and stare. I've never seen anything so utterly strange and terrifying in my entire life.
"David?" someone says from behind me. "David, are you okay?" I recognise the voice as one of the receptionists. She comes up behind me and puts a hand on my shoulder, but then she sees it too and I hear her gasp in horror.
And then, very quickly, I'm surrounded by people. Everyone is crowding over to the window to see, pressing themselves against the glass. I see one woman push her way back through the crowd, hand over mouth, looking like she's about to cry. A couple of the guys are trying to make calls on their mobiles, jabbing helplessly at buttons, tapping dead screens.
I take a step back, then another. I feel almost sick. This can't be real.
And then I think of Sharon. I wonder if she can see this where she is, if she's doing the same thing, gazing out through the window of her studio at the destruction. Even though I know it will be useless, I pull my mobile out of my pocket and try to switch it on. Nothing. Not even a flicker.
"Look!" cries someone. And I do look, expecting them to be pointing to some new feature of the devastation across town. But they're pointing up, up into the sky. And I move forward to the window again and follow their pointing finger and I see it. I see the shape in the sky, the moving speck growing larger and larger and larger. Not just one speck, in fact, but a dozen, a hundred. The sky is scattered with them, like dark stars.
And one of them is getting bigger, is getting huge. And then it's not just a speck anymore, but a thing, a huge mass plummeting from the sky so fast it's almost impossible to follow, coming straight down towards us. Coming so fast that it's falling, that there's fire all around it as it falls. As one everyone recoils from the window, and there is screaming, and I turn and start to run, not knowing where I'm going, not knowing if there's any escape, but running all the same. And everyone around me is running too. And I swear the thing is so close I can hear the scream of it tearing through the air like a firework. And...
And the second meteor hits, and everything goes to hell.