Lying back in the grass, I watched as the star streaked down, a trail of light against the dark sky.
“Make a wish,” I murmured to myself, even though no one else was around to hear.
Just great, I thought to myself with a twinge of amusement. I had come all the way out here, to the almost literal middle of nowhere, to get away from everyone else. And now, on my first night out, here I was, already talking to myself.
My eyes tracked the glowing star as it plummeted down. It wasn’t a star, of course, I knew. A meteorite, burning up as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. But it twinkled and spun as it dropped, looking quite like a real star.
I watched it, feeling a little sleepy, full, and content. The night’s meal had been a fairly tasty freeze-dried stew that tasted especially good when supplemented with the fresh meat of the rabbit I’d managed to bag. The burning meteorite hadn’t winked out yet, curiously enough.
And it seemed to be getting bigger…
It took far too long before the thoughts finally managed to click into place inside my head. My expression turned from drowsy contentment to sudden horror. I flung my hands across the dirt for a moment, almost comically scrambling, before I managed to pull myself up to my hands and knees.
Yes, it was definitely still falling towards me! Half-panicking, I threw myself to the side, and heard something hit the dirt and grass where I’d been laying only seconds earlier.
It didn’t sound like an explosion, however. It was more of a soft “paff” noise.
Once I’d confirmed that I still had all my limbs, I glanced over cautiously at where I’d been reclining a moment previously.
There was something sitting there in the dirt, sure enough. It was smoking a little, but it didn’t seem t be doing anything else. I scooted closer, my eyes widening.
It was a star.
And no, I don’t mean that it was a giant, burning ball of fire. That’s what the real stars are, I know.
This, on the other hand, was about a foot across, and shaped like the five-pointed stars that children draw and adorn the tops of Christmas trees in December. It was still glowing a little, but the glow was pale and slightly blue tinged.
I reached out, unsure of what I was doing. I couldn’t feel heat coming off of the object, the “star.” When one of my fingers pressed hesitantly against the object’s surface, it felt slightly warm, a bit like plastic.
Slowly, my eyes tracked upward.
Could the thing have fallen from an airplane or something? But I hadn’t seen any planes in the sky – and indeed, there shouldn’t be any of them going overhead. Not out here, in the wilderness, miles from any city or airport.
It had fallen from up there, between that crack in the branches of the nearby trees…
My eyes roamed up, across the sky. And then I spotted it, up amid the other stars still glowing in the sky.
There was a spot, there, where the sky was black. Not the normal blackness of night, of the rest of the heavens above me. No, in this spot, the night seemed absolutely black, a little hole that swallowed up all light.
It appeared, I thought to myself as I squinted at it, to be shaped a bit like a five-pointed star.
My eyes dropped back down to the cooling star beside me, and then back up to the hole. Yes, if I squinted a little bit and ignored the mind-boggling shift in perspective, the star would fit up there.
I felt as though my head was packed full of cotton wool. What in the world was going on? I turned my attention back to the sky, wondering if this was all a dream.
And then, in the blackness of that hole in the sky, I saw movement.
It was tough to make out, a shifting of black on black that revealed no detail. But staring up, I saw a roiling, a twisting swirl that put me in mind of the tightening coils of some monstrous python, its scales made of midnight.
The shifting kept on moving for another second, and then stopped. There was a thin line, now, barely perceptible against the equally deep blackness that surrounded it.
I held my breath, staring up at that line. I couldn’t pull my eyes away, couldn’t even bring myself to move.
And then it blinked.
I still don’t know what mysterious force seized me, throwing me into screaming, panicked action. Maybe it was some throwback instinct, back from when my ape ancestors still had to make use of their fight-or-flight instinct on a daily basis. Whatever it was, I’m pretty sure it saved my life.
My fingers scrabbled on the ground. They closed on something, something warm and tapering to a point.
In a swift movement, I heaved the thing upwards, up towards that baleful, monstrous eye in the sky. The star flew up, rising higher than it should have traveled, but I didn’t wait to see if it connected with its target.
I was already scrambling away, running for where my car was parked, half a mile down the trail.
I jumped in, managed to get the trembling keys into the ignition slot on the fourth try, and drove. At some point, the world outside the car began to light up as the sun crept up, but I kept on driving.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone. Somehow, I just knew that this event, whatever had just happened, would never make sense. I’d never understand, never could understand.
But I knew one thing was for certain.
No more camping trips for me. In fact, I don’t think I want to see another star again.