Starfall

Lying on my back, looking up into the night sky, I could feel the most curious sensation of being pulled up into the night sky, being pulled away from they very Earth on which I lay. I reached out with arms and bare feet, grabbing onto the soil with fingers and toes, determined to remain firmly grounded, firmly of this Earth. The attraction grew, I could feel my body lifting away, pulling against my four firm points of contact, fighting against myself for what little hold I still had.

I felt the stars and the moon beckoning, reaching tiny tendrils of light out across the eons that separated us. I thought about how those photons had traveled such a mind boggling long way, how they had first left those their parent stars longer ago than the entirety of human civilization in many cases. The set out on the journey, through the cold, dark void between the stars, not knowing if they would ever again interact with another bit of matter. By some miraculous chance, they journeyed through the cosmos, all of the way to the vicinity of the Earth. All of the way to the fall on my skin, thus ending a journey more epic than any man will ever know.

Then, as quickly as the moment had come, it had passed. The illusion was gone. The night sky was every bit as impressive as it had always been out here in the country, but no longer was it trying to pull me away from Earth, no longer trying to steal me for its own.

ZING

A high pitched whistling sound came from nowhere–growing, spiking, and fading before I even realized what had happened. It came and went so fast that there wasn’t enough enough time to determine where it had been, much less what.

ZING

ZING

This time, I thought I saw something moving in the corner of my eye. I spun in place, trying desperately to find out what was going on, but I just wasn’t fast enough. When I’d turned, the night was as calm as it had ever been.

ZING

Directly behind me this time–I turned just in time to see a faint cloud of dust settling back into the ground no more than half a dozen feet from where I stood. I stepped over towards the patch of ground, keen to see if there was something there that could possibly explain the …

ZING

Directly in front of me, I saw a streak of light in a deep shade of red. On the ground right in front of me, there was a brief puff of smoke. As quickly as it had come, it immediately began began to fade. I couldn’t see anything unusual there, but that didn’t necessary mean anything. There was only the light of the moon after all.

I blinked. For a moment, I thought that I’d seen another red streak, but, no. It was still the first streak, so bright I could still see an after image in my field of vision. I blinked several more times in quick succession, trying to clear my vision.

*ZING* TINK

This time, the high pitched whine was followed by a metallic sound, almost as if someone had dropped a penny into a metal pitcher. But there wasn’t anything made out of metal in the area, was there? The only thing I could think of was my bike, but that was a good portion of the way back across the field where I’d left it. I’d justified it think that there wasn’t much point in leaving tire grooves all across the field on such a nice night, but now I really wished that I’d brought it along.

ZING

I opened by eyes again. The faint image of the red streak was still there, but it was manageable now. A little more time and it would likely fade entirely. I still didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on, but it was time to find out. I fell to my knees on the ground right in front of where I had been standing–right where the brilliant streak had ended.

Unfortunately, there was nothing obviously out of the usual on the ground. There was a faint indentation in the Earth, but for all I knew that could have been there since before time began–it certainty looked natural enough. Other than that there was nothing. No glowing lights, no damaged soil, nothing that could make such a metallic sounding clang. Nothing.

ZING

I put my hands on the soil and jerked them back just as quickly. The ground was hot–hot enough that I could feel before my hand even reached the ground. I carefully turned my hand on the its side and used the rough part on the outside of my hand to scrape away a bit of the soil.

It was still hot, but I was right in that the heat was dissipating quickly. Before much longer, there wouldn’t even be a chance to use the heat of the ground as any indicator that something had happened. So it was now or never. Whatever was going on, I knew that it wouldn’t last forever, almost as strongly as I knew that if I didn’t do anything about it–without some way to record the event, that no-one would ever believe me. Although, come to think of it, no one ever wanted to believe me anyways.

ZING

I felt a burning sensation on one arm and slapped myself with the other hand, more out of habit than anything else. It felt like a mosquito byte on steroids, or perhaps something even as bad as the string of a stinging insect–a wasp or bee or the like. The pain wasn’t bad, but when I slapped my hand down, it came down on a warm sticky mass. I looked down at my arm in panic. I was bleeding. How could that have happened?

ZING

For the first time, I caught site of whatever was making the sound the instant after it had hit the ground. Long enough that my vision wasn’t burned with another red streak, but soon enough that I still had a chance at the details. I bet down and patted the dirt, right where I had seen the impact. There had been something black and shiny just under the surface, only moments ago.

“Ow!” I cried out in pain as something bit into my finger. I shoved the finger into my mouth, trying to suck away the pain, all the while brushing at the spot with my other hand. I was careful to avoid actually poking at the ground–look where that had gotten me the first time–but I was still more curious than hurt.

Finally I uncovered it. Not that I had the slightest idea what ‘it’ actually was. The closest comparison I could make was that it appeared to be a thin shard of black glass, roughly triangular in shape, perhaps an inch wide at the base and at least twice as long. It wasn’t transparent–as glass would normally have been–but I couldn’t shake the idea of it from my head.

The shard was black and reflective, catching the light of the moon and the stars and reflecting it back to my in a wide variety of fantastic patterns. The reflections were by no means perfect, I couldn’t even begin to have tried to trace the way they bent and folded the light as I tiled the glass point from side to side. The edges seemed to taper inwards, as if this perhaps had once been part of a larger sheet, broken at an angle. A faint sheen glimmered on the rough edge near the point–a faint red sheen. My blood. I made sure not to touch that point again, I’d already learned just how sharp it was.

ZING

ZING

Two more impacts, even as I was inspecting the piece. Now that I knew what I was looking for, I could see flashes of the glossy black material as it fell or as it was buried in the tiny craters they created.

*ZING* TINK

What *where* they hitting? I still couldn’t see anything metal for a good distance around and couldn’t quite catch one in the act of hitting right when it made the sound. Partially that was because I couldn’t actually watch them as they fell without burning those same red streaks into my eyes again. Partially, they just vanished too quickly.

*ZING* TINK

Although I could see two or three in the air at any given moment throughout the field, I couldn’t at the moment see any on the ground around me. Even the ones I’d seen earlier were gone. Only the one in my hand was still left.

ZING

And whatever they were, they were coming faster. And even yet, I could make out no more than one, maybe two, points in the field around me that could actually have been the shapes. The rest had all vanished like the first one that I’d looked for.

ZING

A sudden dark thought came to me. The first of those things had barely grazed my arm and left a nice gash even so. The second had left a nice point in my finger and that was from barely a touch. What would happen if one of those things struck me directly on? At the rate they were going, I had a feeling nothing so feeble as a skull would be enough to stop them.

*ZING* TINK

*ZING* TINK

They were coming down fast and thick now, whatever they were, a constant stream of brilliant red flashes, almost vertical. I had yet to be hit a second time, but I figured it was only a matter of time.

So I ran. I vaguely remembered reading that if you ran in the rain, you would stay dryer than if you walked, even though you were increasing the surface area they were likely to strike by moving into them. Hopefully the same principal would apply here. Although…

ZING

Was that really the way it had gone? Or was it safer to walk? Too late now. I was committed. Before long, I could see my bike, standing upright and chained to one of the fence posts that ran between the field and the nearest road. I doubted that anyone would be around, let alone someone that would decide to take my bike, but better safe than sorry.

*ZING* TINK

This one sounded right behind me, close enough that I felt the breeze on the back of one arm as it whizzed by. I couldn’t believe that I still hadn’t managed to get hit more than the once by the things.

Even more strangely, they seemed to be less of them, the closer I got to my bike. At first, it had seemed like a light drizzle–granted, a brilliant-red-flashing, deadly-until-proven-otherwise drizzle–but now there was only one or two in front of me at a time.

Part of me considered turning back, but the more self-preserving part prevailed. I had to get out of here while my luck still held.

ZING

One last sound as I grabbed onto one of the fence posts and managed to vault myself over the fence without even coming close. It was a good thing too, I didn’t particularly want to get caught on the barbed wire again. It had been hard enough to explain that to my mother the first time.

Finally at my bike, it seemed the worst of the storm was over–and what a storm it had been. I finally took the chance to turn back and look at the field as a whole.

Nothing.

Not one single red streak over the entire almost panoramic field of view.

Not one.

What was worse, the points had all faded into the ground, much as the first ones I’d seen had done. As far as I could tell now, nothing unusual had happened at all.

What in the…

It was only when a warm liquid feeling went running from my hand down my wrist that I realized that the fist I was making had closed over the one point that I’d actually managed to grab. My one bit of proof that the whole thing hadn’t been a dream.

I still didn’t have the slightest idea what it had been… but at least I knew it hadn’t been a dream.

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