This is the introduction to a new story I've been working on. I have more coming, so let me know what you think.
When he was young, the man saw a shooting star streak across the night sky. He had been driving down an empty stretch of highway, carrying his girlfriend home. Tired and distracted, the young man stared into a patch of space above the horizon. The spot of light coalesced into existence and streaked across the unmarred navy heavens, disappearing without trail or trace. Years later, the man remembered what he felt at that sudden coincidence. Things were normal then. But he remembered the feeling, seeing that flying bulb. A sudden heaviness on his heart. An unconscious clutch of fear, unbearable dread that his rational mind soon replaced with the appropriate awe and wonder. Looking at his girlfriend, he realized that she saw the light too, and felt comforted by the shared gasp and surprised laughter.
Things are different now. When he goes outside at night into the vast indigo waste there is no upward stare. He does not hope for a flash and a streak of white. And when he looks up at long last, he sees the falling shards of heaven and can only remember when they meant just a gasp and a wish.
The first cases were barely noticed. They happened too far apart to be considered unusual. They sometimes happened around cities, but most of the cases occurred over oceans, empty fields, frozen wastes. A few scientists spoke up, but only to note a small rise in reported sightings in the past five, ten years. When someone happened to actually see one, they reacted normally. They told their friends and families the next day, and went on with their lives.
It wasn't until twenty years after the first cases that people began to notice the difference. Within a month's time, sightings increased a hundredfold. More were happening above cities, and more people began to wonder. When it became clear that something was happening, people started talking. They talked at first like they weren't afraid, with feigned scientific interest. Soon though, voices became hushed, and the cases became the default topic when people ran out of distractions. They talked about their own sightings, and how afraid they had been. They talked and admitted their fear because if everyone feared it then it was alright to be afraid.
Still, few people took the cases seriously. The impacts, when they actually happened, didn’t seem to have any effect on the land or the people living nearby. The objects were rarely found, and when they were, they were so small that it seemed impossible that they could be dangerous.
The world changes every day. On July 12, 2036, the world changed again. It began in the dusk hours around the globe, just as the light from the sun faded to a deep violet and the stars began to shimmer. Among the stationary points of light streaked small white lines that fell between the stars like raindrops between leaves. At first there were just a few, appearing every few minutes, then every ten seconds. By midnight, the news stations were reporting a surprise meteor shower, more intense than any other on record. As darkness moved across the planet, the meteors continued to fall, cascading over the unsuspecting Earth as onlookers watched in awe and mounting fear. Scientists had no explanation; it was later discovered that the meteors had been mostly concealed in the shadow of the moon. Strangest of all, however, was that the objects did not seem to make contact with Earth as a few of the early cases had. Scientists assumed that they simply burned off in the atmosphere, like any other asteroid would. That day is known as Cataclysm Zero. No physical consequences were observed, but the event became the topic of concern for the media worldwide. Scientists were disturbed by their inability to anticipate an event of such magnitude. People were scared for a while, but eventually forgot their fear and went on with their lives.
That was two years ago. The world has changed.