On June 30, 1908, magical jaguars in a decaying orbit around the Earth use their powers to detonate a world-smashing asteroid before it hits Tunguska.
“I miss breathing,” mourns Michael.
“It was nice,” Candace says.
On October 28, 1962, they work their jaguar magic to avert the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“Curse the Mayan sorcerer-sages who shot us into space,” Michael curses.
“We wouldn’t have to intervene like this if we could just eat everyone now!”
On December 18, 2004, falling jaguars prevent the formation of a stable strangelet at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.
“It’s my plan,” says Michael, “when we hit the atmosphere, to catch fire.”
“Ooh,” says Candace. “Flaming jaguar.”
“I will burn with holy righteousness and plummet right onto the back of a suitable human target. Then he will scream, ‘help! A fiery orbital jaguar is using my mass to decelerate!’ But it will do him no good. The authorities will have no contingency plans for such events.”
“Excellent,” Candace says.
On the morning of June 7, 2005, a seraph stands in space above the Earth. He holds a trumpet. It is his plan to sound it, to trigger with that blast the Rapture and Last Days.
The seraph had not reckoned on the airlessness and soundlessness of space. He hesitates. Then he plunges into the atmosphere and draws a deep breath. He rises again. He sets the trumpet to his lips.
It is June 8, 2005. The world lives yet.
“I’m not going to catch fire,” says Candace. “I’m going to roll into a ball to minimize my surface area and think cold thoughts.”
“That should work,” agrees Michael.
The jaguars fall, as they have fallen for thousands of years, cold and blue and alone.
Life is fragile. It is protected by little more than a thin coat of air and warmth in the endless dark of space. The odds are constantly working against us, striving to unravel everything we are.
But as long as there are magical jaguars, catapulted skyward by Mayan sages, in a decaying orbit around the Earth, we shall not come to harm.
This is the Mayans’ gift.