Gravity is such a weak force. Anyone could defy it with the least effort, pulling bodies free with every step. Yes, we sent rockets pummelling out of the atmosphere on columns of concentrated fire, but a child could break the bond with a leap. It’s the smallest thing, and it took almost nothing for it to fail.
In a way, it was a beautiful moment. In another, more significant, way it was terrible in the old sense – the terror of the moment was felt across the world, everyone alive was wrenched from their familiar existence as the planet gave up, stopped, flung everything from its surface in a fit of pique. For some, perhaps, this was release. Relief. Patients in terminal wards found themselves drifting, meeting Heaven half way, smiling as the deafening scream of humanity rose across the globe.
For others, a narrow escape – a motorcycle trapped in the path of a train, its rider snagged on a kickstand, levitated safely out of the way. The relief was short-lived, of course. Everything was that day. It was, simply put, the end of the world. No one could explain what happened, no one saw it coming. We thought of ourselves as an advanced species, smart monkeys who were in control of our own environment. This was a horrible, final shock. All our achievements, our civilisation, every one of us became an expanding, glittering cloud around a bare, still planet.