The Event

Nobody had heard from Leonid since he’d sent a progress report back from Taishet on the Trans-Siberian railroad.  That was two months and six hundred miles in the past.  Since then, he’d been on sled, horseback, and foot as he and his assistant made their way through the palearctic boreal forests and bogs, still frozen over but fast-approaching the spring melt.  It was imperative that Leonid found what he was looking for before the melt; if not, the floods and mosquitos would make travel impossible and he doubted he could ever find the funding again.

He was sick, malnourished, and exhausted.  But in his heart, he knew he was close, and this is what drove him on.  His Evenki guides, Potapovich and Okhchen, didn’t share his drive however.  They’d agreed to take him where he wanted partly out of their natural friendliness toward strangers and partly out of a curiosity to see if they’re old trapping grounds could be used again.  Even then, they made sure to see their shaman for a blessing before they left.  After two days of trekking through rugged terrain, Leonid noticed that the two had grown unusually quiet and they only answered his questions in hesitant speech and made no eye contact.
And then, on April 25th, 1927, Potapovich and Okhchen stopped and pointed.

“There is only death here,” Potapovich said solemnly.  “Ogdy, god of storms, cursed this land…”

Leonid walked forward a few steps along the Makirta River and his heart shot up to his throat.  As far as he could see, trees were toppled like toothpicks, their bark and limbs stripped away.  Some nineteen years after the event, Leonid Kulik became the first scientist to visit the site of the Tunguska meteoroid impact, though the airburst epicenter was still forty barren miles away.

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