Walter pressed his eye against the rubber of the eyepiece for a few seconds, pulled away and wrote a few notes. He sighed and began paging backward though his notebook, the frown on his face growing as the entries grew in size the further back he went.
He had been staring through telescopes on his back porch for almost fifty years, and nothing ever changed. Unlike so many of his peers, he hadn’t been able to spend as much time star gazing as he use to. Work had become more and more scare as he got older, and so had his spare time. Add to that the fact that he was having to go to bed earlier and earlier as the years passed, and he began to seriously consider packing away the telescope or giving it to little Ben as a gift. And idea of that horrified him, as he knew without a doubt the device would have about a three month life span were he to do that.
With an overly dramatic sigh, an action which amused him since he was alone and the drama was completely wasted, he flipped through his charts and notes to find the coordinates of Saturn. It had been his favorite celestial body to gaze at for…. well, forever really. His father had first shown it to him through a telescope when he had been seven and he had instantly fallen in love. The majesty and beauty of the orange rings had grabbed his imagination, and the idea that a planet could even have rings had totally captivated him.
He smiled as he thought about that moment for the first time in many years.
Locating the coordinates he leaned forward and began making adjustments to the dials and knobs on the telescope manually. He had ignored all the comments of others over the years to’ modernize’ the scope and, preferring the feel of making the adjustments himself, his single concession was a computer that connected to the telescope, allowing him to take images and video with the press of a key.
He centered the scope on a tiny, distant, slightly orange, pinprick in the sky and again pressed his eye against the rubber piece and became lost in the grandeur of it all.
Suddenly Walter bolted upright, a look of shock and confusion spreading slowly across his face. He checked his charts, then checked the scope and confirmed that he did indeed have the correct settings. Pressing his eye once again against the rubber eyepiece he took a deep breath.
Not for the first time he wished someone were here with him, though this was the first time he wanted them to verify he wasn’t insane.
He stood up and walked over to the cooler, took out a bottle of water, and downed the entire thing. He reached back into the cooler, cupped his hands and brought a handful of ice cold water up, splashing it against his face.
The shock of it made him gasp, but it woke him up. Once he had his breath back he toweled off and walked back over to the telescope. Taking another deep breath, he once again looked through the metal and glass tube at the distant planet.
Immediately he sucked in a breath and held it. Without taking his eye off the scene, he reached over to his computer behind him and, after a few seconds of groping, found the keyboard, and pressed a key that started taking photos every couple of seconds.
Finally he pulled himself away and sat back, running his hand over his face and turned to look at the monitor.
There, in full color clarity, he saw the planet and rings he had fallen in love with disintegrating as the planet imploded and collapsed on itself.