I can appreciate a good meteor shower. I mean, who can’t? It’s pretty. I’m not obsessed with them though, not like my dad. I remember being a little kid and being woken up at like two AM so he could carry my tiny butt to the car and drive us to the best place to view it. Sometimes he packed me in the car at like seven PM so we could get to the best place by the time it started.
I remember falling asleep a lot during class because of all that.
This weekend I decided, hey, I miss my dad. I haven’t seen him in a few weeks. And I’m already going to be spending the holidays with my husband’s family. So what the hell, let’s go see Dad.
He was overjoyed, of course. He talked my ear off for hours about how I timed my visit just right as there was going to be a great shower the night I arrive. It would even be visible from the house. Inwardly I groaned, I knew I’d be tired from driving up there, but my dad was so excited I couldn’t bare to tell him that I wasn’t interested.
When I got there, he’d already prepped the back porch for a good night. The fake fireplace was crackling with familiar faded stockings hanging above it, there was a few beers in the cooler, and Dad had a bunch of stories prepped about his meteor chasing adventures with his buddies. The ones that were still alive, anyway. Apparently Paul had passed away last year, his heart attacks finally took him out.
It was nice to hang out with my dad, despite our different interests. I’d missed him, I’d only moved a few hours away but a few hours is a long ways away when you work full time and have car troubles whenever it drives more than thirty miles.
Around one AM I’d long nodded off but was woken up by my dad smacking my arm.
“Wake up! Wake up, I think one touched down in the woods!”
I snorted and managed to shake myself awake, wiping a lil drool off my chin as my dad grabbed his flashlight and was practically out the door without even his shoes on. I convinced him to wait up as I grabbed my coat and my phone, flicking its ever so trusty flashlight on as I stumbled out of the porch.
“One touched down, Chris, I’m sure of it!” He insisted as he flicked on his light and made his way through the backyard.
I sighed and shook my head as I followed behind him. “Sure it did, dad. Can we go find it in the morning? It’s dark out.”
“And let someone else find it first?” Dad laughed as he kicked over a rotten log, sending its splinters everywhere. “No way! I bet I’ll find it first!”
I rolled my eyes but didn’t protest any more.
We had a quite expansive wooded patch behind the house, technically it wasn’t on our property, but really it was no one’s property. No houses, no one had bought the patch of land probably because they didn’t want to deal with the trees, it was one of my favorite places to play when I was little. I knew it better than most.
I soon lost track of dad, which was probably for the best. He could go his own pace and I could go mine, the woods weren’t large to the point where it would be impossible not to hear each other shouting.
My light beamed bright as I swept it back and forth, searching for anything that could possibly be a meteorite, when I spotted it.
I thought it was a firefly at first, a firefly that hadn’t gotten the memo it was winter yet. But when I realized it wasn’t blinking I stepped over to investigate.
It was about the right green yellow for a firefly, but the best way to describe what it was was… snot. Yeah. Slime with a snot like consistency, dripped across some dead leaves. I almost reached to touch it when I heard a stick snap. My head shot up and I saw a deer.
Deer were pretty common to the area, I’d gotten close to a fawn at least twice in the past, but this deer… didn’t look good. Its snout was covered in the same slime that was covering the leaves, along with a few drops on its neck and ears. It stumbled through the brush, barely able to keep standing on its feet. It nearly crashed into a tree and I realized something was wrong with its eyes.
Instinctively, I tried to walk over to it, but the moment my feet crunched down on the leaves, the poor thing bolted in the opposite direction. Even if it was daylight I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with it.
The meteorite completely forgotten, I started heading for where I’d seen the deer come from. If someone was dumping their garbage out here where animals could get into it, I was going to lose my fucking shit. Dad’s passionate about stars, I’m passionate about animals.
The deer had left quite a trail behind where it had collided with trees and tripped over dead leaves, so it wasn’t hard to track. My phone battery was probably crying to me at this point, but I didn’t really care.
It helped my target was also glowing. After a few minutes walk I saw it, and I bolted in its direction, determined to figure out what it was and see if I could move it.
I came to a dead halt when I saw it was a rock.
It wasn’t very big. Maybe the size of a soccer ball. The actual stone pieces itself were dark rusty orange, but what had my attention was the crack.
It was dripping the slime that had gotten on the deer and that I’d found on the leaves.
It was even brighter than before, I didn’t even need my phone’s flashlight any more. I flicked it off as I approached.
Was this the meteorite? I thought dimly as I knelt beside it. It was honestly more beautiful than I’d thought they’d be. I hadn’t heard of them dripping slime before. Or singing.
Sort of singing, anyway. It was making this soft melodic sound, the closer I leaned it, the louder it was. My whole body relaxed. The slime was giving off this flowery scent, like a garden on a warm summer day. It even gave off some warmth. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the melody though. I leaned in closer, trying to hear it better. I was so close to the meteorite, my cheek almost brushing the slime…
Something crashed through the brush that jerked me out of my trance and I jumped backward as the situation crashed into me. What the shit was this thing?
It was the deer again, but it didn’t notice me. It weaved over to the stone, snorting loudly as its sides rapidly rose and fell. Now in the light, I could see what was wrong with its eyes.
They were gone. The empty sockets were crusted over with the dried slime. It stopped once it reached the stone, its body swaying back and forth as it struggled to keep its balance. Its slime coated nose twitched once before it slammed its head against the meteorite.
I swear the song got louder for a split second as the deer’s skull cracked in half.
I screamed and crawled away backwards, unable to look away from the deer’s bleeding head and exposed, pulsing brain. The slime seemed to crawl into its head, and when it touched its brain the tissue began to turn black. The deer quivered in place for a while longer before it collapsed to the ground and ceased to move.
I scrambled to my feet and spun around, I was getting the fuck out of there. I crashed through the brush and nearly ran right into my dad.
“Chris! I heard you scream, what happened, did you find it-”
I grabbed my dad by the arm and dragged him behind me, refusing to look back. I didn’t want to look back there. I didn’t want to see that damn thing ever again.
I got back into the house and realized I’d lost my cellphone out there. There was no way in hell I was going to go get it.
My dad tried to ask what had happened, but I couldn’t tell him. I just couldn’t. I told him that tomorrow morning he was going to call poison control or something to take care of whatever the hell was out there and that he was not going to search for that meteorite under any circumstances.
I should’ve known better when my dad dropped his gaze when he said he would. I blame it on being tired and still freaked out of my mind.
I woke up this morning and he was gone. He’d left a note on the counter:
Went out at 6. Had to see it for myself. I’ll be back soon. I love you.
It was already nine. I ran outside and smelled it.
The whole place reeked of death. I didn’t hear any birds or see any squirrels. The whole place was silent.
But under all that death, I could still smell that floral lure, just like a summer day in a garden.
My only hope I have is to hike out of here. Stupid car’s not turning on. Still can’t find my phone, dad probably took his with him. The landline isn’t working, I don’t know why. But I can’t stay here. The longer I stay, the more it’ll tempt me to go back into the woods.
Just for one more look.