Any comments or questions about this site, please contact Bob Zolnerzak at





Chapter XIII

            Somehow, somewhere, the news leaked out. The scientists had hoped to keep the awful secret until they were positive, beyond a doubt, that the problem at hand would have its inevitable end in the perishing of the human race. But the news got out. The leading newspaper in the country, throwing caution to the wind, printed huge scarehead banners across the top of the extras that started rushing to the newsstands. False interviews were "secured" from the leading mentors of the country, "verifying the news." Actually, no such interviews were to be had; the scientists had pledged each other to the strictest secrecy until the president of the Science Institute of the Americas gave them permission to speak.
            Never were there such demands for biologists and chemist at lectures to assemblies. The subject on everyone's lips was the one of loss of oxygen. Skeptics didn't take heed in the "death scare" that swept the country, once so strong and disbelieving, now so willing to believe any statement the newspapers printed to be the gospel truth. As a matter of fact, it was the truth; nevertheless, there was no necessity of having the country thrown into a panic about something that might not have a chance of happening for maybe a century or more. All this while, the leading "brains" of the world pondered, figured, calculated. For months the conservative group of the hemisphere awaited the coming announcement; was it final; was it the end of the world? These questions were asked by some---others cared little about any announcement, as evidenced by the throngs that packed the churches.
            September 15, 2011. A worldwide hookup was secured for a special bulletin. The television channels were black for a moment as the appointed hour drew near. The bells in the church steeples tolled mournfully, prematurely. "We now take you to Assembly Hall, Moscow." The world hushed expectant. The miners ascended their shafts to listen, wait. Nursing babies seemed quiet, expectant. The news presses whirred to a stop. Busses, trains, cars, planes, rockets, ships, submarines, stopped, turned on radios, listened, tense. The smoke cleared for a moment from the factories' chimneys; no one was running them. Telephones and teletypes were silent---waiting. Scheduled broadcasts were shoved, or bowed off themselves, from the airwaves. The huge spire surmounting Assembly Hall bristled with antennae, sending devices, and transmitters. The first program beamed to Mars from the Earth was hastened to accommodate the broadcast. Shopping centers slowed to a standstill as public address systems blared out the news. Translators from one hundred and eighty-nine colonies were on hand to relay the message to their respective countries. Even the timber-cutters and sawyers were silent, a strange thing, they had been running for months, stopping only for oiling. Everyone, everything, everywhere, was quiet tense, expectant. Ministers stood in the midst of their congregations with megaphones, praying. 6:00PM arrived, the loudspeakers blared forth---tele-ceivers cleared, focused. "Mommy, look, there's Premier Egglestein."
            "Shhh, Jimmy, he's going to speak."
            "Ladies and Gentlemen of the System. Tonight a huge load will be lifted from the minds of the great men and women that you can see gathered together here in Assembly Hall, so graciously loaned to us by Mister Smith of this country. They will no longer bear the burden of this knowledge alone---they will have companionship with everyone on Earth, Mars, the Moon. The initial calculations of Professor Sinto were found to be correct. If nothing changes for the better or for the worse on this and the other planets, there will be no oxygen left to breathe by the year 2025, just fourteen years from now." The crowd that had gathered outside the great edifice fell back into the street at the announcement. Within three minutes the whole solar system had a chance of hear the ultimatum. Just fourteen short years to go. Some of the adults had hoped that the final downfall would not occur for generations, so they themselves or their children or even their children's children would not have to experience the final day. The day of doom. THE DAY OF DOOM.