This is how the world will end: with a quiet bit of news on the BBC.
I got home from work last night to find out, incredibly, that “[h]undreds of people in Peru have needed treatment after an object from space – said to be a meteorite – plummeted to Earth in a remote area.”
[Image: A spectacular glimpse of the Leonid meteor shower, circa 1999; photo by Wally Pacholka].
The object “left a deep crater” that immediately began “spewing fetid gases,” and everyone who has “visited the scene” has since “been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea.”
A local villager, worried for himself and for his neighbors, says: “We don’t know what is going on at the moment, that is what we are worried about.”
It’s a virus from space!
So I half-seriously expected to wake up this morning and read that the entire population of Peru has been wiped out by clouds of alien zombie-dust; that militaries have been mobilized; that families are now scrambling in all possible directions to find a safety that will no longer come; and that the catastrophe continues to spread… In eight days’ time it reaches the streets of San Francisco, where I’ll be live-blogging the outbreak from behind a plywood barricade.
But it turns out that we don’t need to worry after all: the scientists quoted in the original article are right.
It wasn’t an object from space at all but “a fireball,” the appearance of which led people to hike out into the wild and find “a lake of sedimentary deposit, which may be full of smelly, methane rich organic matter.”
This “rich organic matter” made everyone ill – infected by rot and vegetation. It’s a kind of petro-illness.