<<This excerpt from Fearkiller happens about a third of the way into the story. The protagonist killed his old boss early on, but the ghost of Egan reappears as an apparition at different points to haunt the killer. This is one of those points. Part of the protagonist’s drive is to make sense of the years 2000 through 2010. In doing so, he looks back at historical events from the decade.
To Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Rick D. Husband, William McCool and Ilan Ramon: thank you for your sacrifice. Sooner or later, us humans are going travel the stars freely, and we will owe the seven of you, along with every other astronaut and cosmonaut who died in the line of duty, a debt of gratitude.>>
… With the business, capitalizing on fear and that evolving brand of fear our consumers felt during that decade, I keep wondering if living in fear makes time go by quicker or slower. There was just something on about the Space Shuttle. That one exploded more than seven years now. Yeah, right?
2003. Flipping on the TV that Saturday morning, I first thought those were fireworks.
She doesn’t speak to me any more. Many don’t speak to me any more. Where was I going, the Space Shuttle, I remember thinking that living in fear was the norm. Anthrax, snipers, now this.
You live in fear. It was just a thought. Boom. Showed up in my head, matter-of-factlike.
After a visceral day that altered history forever, weeks turned into months then into years of dull misery, economic panic and uncertainty about both the macro and the micro, doubting politicians and ourselves, choosing ignorance over discovery. Living in fear.
The Space Shuttle exploding drove that point home.
The months since the layoff were miserable. Going in all day Sunday because management kept panicking, changing direction, avoiding logic, reminding…us…of…layoffs…I fought for that Saturday, though.
Got extra things done during the week, just be away for a full day in mind as well as body. Lounge with a cool chick, have a day before going in again on Sunday.
Plus, talk of a small layoff. This Saturday, let’s not think about that.
It wasn’t the amount of work, I loved working hard. It was the panic, doubt, fear, misery, uncertainty, and ignorance all disguised as work. Wait…Be…thankful…
WOW you all ratcheted up the fear. All you knew how to do was lead through fear. Leading by example is dead, isn’t it?
That girl doesn’t speak to me anymore.
White fireworks. Maybe the government saw the stress and threw a surprise Saturday morning fireworks show for the American worker. A fireworks display, like a surprise holiday for us. Our stress and overtime and no raise and picking up the slack, the government noticed and wanted to give us a quick escape. Fireworks.
To those that were stressing overtime and not getting paid for it because they didn’t survive the layoff, this fireworks show is for you as well.
The TV sound was off because this bass-heavy club track was playing, volume low, must have been left in the CD player. Those fireworks mixing with the beat, the camera is unsteady and jumpy. Maybe shooting white comets, or some jets high up.
Cool fireworks, thanks Unpaid Overtimers. Wait—
Egan, it was like the decade said,“Guess what, fuck-knocker? Here’s some negative news about the space shuttle. You don’t think about NASA a lot, but now even that train of thought is infused with fear. AND…Working tomorrow…is there a problem…”
My cousin out in Nebraska got laid off the week before. Me and the girl going into work that weekend. All three of us, Unpaid Overtimers.
Shut up. Those astronauts. Unpaid Overtimer: fuck your job shut the fuck up.
They cut to a shot of two of the astronauts’ wives. That set the girl into tears.
A few weeks later, she told me how amazing I was that day. I can’t remember what made me amazing, Egan.
We went for a walk, ate in silence at a place that served Bloody Marys. She cried about those astronauts’ kids.
Reading positive news is like cheating on the negative news.
I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. Early on, it was a bird. Then, a pterodactyl (dinosaur phase). Then, astronaut.
I bet those astronauts died without fear. Way more than possible, them being stronger than fear.