Chapter one of Unknown North, a novel that will be published chapter-by-chapter until it’s done (aiming for two chapters a week). All chapters: Unknown North.
No one really paid any attention to the stars that appeared one morning, where no stars had been previously. Which is to say, only the mystics and stargazers noticed and found it odd, even disturbing, and they created web pages and spent hours dialing into radio talk shows, searching for an explanation. Dr. Angelo Moore finally emerged, three days after the first appearance of the stars, and told the public that there was nothing to worry about. That if any “new” stars had suddenly appeared, he or one of his colleagues would certainly have noticed, and none of them saw anything amiss. That was exactly what the media wanted to hear, and that’s exactly what was fed to the public, and—it turns out—that was exactly what the public wanted to hear, so they could go to work and to the mall and to soccer practice and to sleep without having to consider that their world was no longer what it used to be.
Three days after Dr. Moore’s assessment, the stars—which had hung as bright as planets in an arc near the moon—disappeared as suddenly as they had arrived. Perfectly average America was left intact, its shiny surface freshly buffed and polished with a new coat of whitewash: Kids continued to play soccer, moms continued to sprint through malls, and dads continued to go to work, just like the commercials and sitcoms taught them. But the scientists who knew—the ones whose names never appeared in the papers and whose voices never spouted facts on talk radio—toiled far below the blinding white surface of reality, scouring thousands of images captured by telescopes and satellites in the days before, during, and after what became known to them as the Star Event. And they, like the mystics, were unnerved. Because the one thing Dr. Moore had got absolutely correct was that the stars were not asteroids heading for an Earth impact.
No, they weren’t that at all.