ewhightower

Posts Tagged ‘Fireballs’

Skyfire Part IV

In Fiction, Sci-Fi, Skyfire, Writing on May 24, 2015 at 2:12 pm

It’s weird how things happen at the same time. It makes them seem significant. I don’t know if it means anything, but I got the idea to try the number on Maxwell’s tag again, with our area code, 415, as we were running back to camp. I thought we should tell the owner that we had lost him. So while Anselm was telling his mom and dad about the cave, I took my Mom’s cell phone from the solar charger in the main camper and dialed the number I had memorized over those summer months.

Most of you know I tried the number. What I’m going to tell you now is something I only ever told one person: Anselm, after his slip last year, before he died. I told him because I wanted him to live. And I’m telling you now for the same reasons.

I didn’t get an out-of-service message, like I told you guys back then. Someone answered the phone. A … male. On the third ring.

He said, “Hello Marie. I love you. The cave is good. Be in the cave. Sniff out the cave. Stay. Stay. Marie Good Boy Stay.”

I said, “Who is this?”

What I heard was a snuffling, sniffing noise. It sounded like laughter. Then he said, “I love you. I am Good Boy Go. I go. You stay. I love you. I love you. Be safe. Stay.”

You guys remember what it was like when Anselm told them about the cave. The camp was erupting with excitement and discussion, people were running around grabbing things. I didn’t understand – none of us kids understood then – how much danger we were in. There I was, in the middle of all of that movement, frozen to the spot. Because I knew. Sure as I knew the smell of the top of his head, sure as I knew the sound of his snores in our tent at night.

“Maxwell?” I said.

“Marie Good Boy Stay. Be safe.” he said.

“Maxwell, where are you? I’m scared and I want you here,” I said. “Please come back.”

“I love you. I love you. I love you,” he said.

That’s when the line went dead.

A text came in, the last text any of our parents ever received. I stood there with my mom’s phone in my hands, staring at that message. I thought it was from Maxwell, at first. But it was from George Amberson. Our neighbor. The first to leave. It read, simply, “Safe. Come soon. We have room. Use the cave.”

That’s when I remembered, months too late, what I was supposed to tell my mom.

She was nice, she hugged me and thanked me and went to tell the other parents.

It was only later, when she thought I was asleep, that I heard her breathing funny and realized she was sobbing.

[Author’s note: this post was originally the end of Part III, but I moved it to stand alone. Apologies if this skews your experience, but I had to re-structure slightly. Thanks for reading, and I welcome your comments.]

Skyfire Part II

In Fiction, Sci-Fi, Writing on May 22, 2015 at 10:45 am

Local Weathermen were saying that the fireballs were all just debris from a recent meteor shower.

NASA scientists confirmed it: natural phenomena.

Tony’s WeTube video got a million hits in the first day alone, with a lot of people laughing about my mom saying I’d peed my pants, and a lot of other people saying his ‘cinematography’ was too slick, that it looked like Hollywoodland production values. But Tony was an amateur filmmaker, and a brilliant photographer. All anyone had to do was look at his other work, right there on his channel, and they would see how good he was. I got so mad when I read those comments that I stopped feeling embarrassed about peeing my pants. Now I see how funny it was, the way my mom’s voice trailed off.

When a fireball hit the Labs and destroyed a bunch of administrative buildings, everything changed. My mom worked there, her friends worked there. A lot of people died that day. There was a guy who started posting comments on Tony’s page, that day, right after the fireball hit. The comments said that Tony was part of the attack, that the ‘fireballs’ were actually debris of alien spacecraft shot down by the International Space Station. It also said that all of the recent push to colonize Mars was the White House backpedaling as they tried to keep the lid on what was, “ … an all-out alien invasion.”

I think it was those comments that brought the FBI to talk to Tony.

When the neighbors saw the agents coming to our house, they panicked. It was smart panic, quiet panic, but it was panic. Just like those dreams I used to have about an earthquake up 680 into the Bay, flooding all the way down to Dublinton and Altamont, people began packing and leaving.

The Ambersons did it first, and I think they might have actually gotten out before the quarantine. Mr. Amberson was a geologist at the Lab. He was standing there, watering his lawn when the car pulled up. He smiled and waved at the agents, watching them until my mom let them into the house. When the door was closed, he waved me over, and knelt down to talk to me, pointing at a dandelion on the edge of his lawn.

“Marie, honey, do you know those men?” he said.

“Nope, but I heard them say FBI to my mom. They asked for Tony,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. “I think it’s time for a family vacation. You want to come with us, Marie.”

“I have a dance recital,” I said. Ballet was really important to me back then. I was determined not to piss my tutu for a third time.

“I know that, honey, but you should tell you mom, as soon as those men leave, that we’re headed up to the Lakes, in the mountains. She knows the way. Tell her I said, just like we talked about. Can you do that, honey? Say, George says, ‘Just like you talked about.’

George says, ‘Just like you talked about.

“Good. And if they ask, I was telling you about dandelions. And how they spread on the wind. To take root far, far away.”

Mr. Amberson got his family together like they were going on a picnic. In under twenty minutes.

He drove away slow, waving and smiling, but his eyes were serious.

Mrs. Amberson was staring straight ahead, tears streaming down her face.

I forgot to tell my mom.

Skyfire

In Fiction, Sci-Fi, Writing on May 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

The day we saw the fireballs I was seven.

We had found a black dog wandering down the street, and my brother Tony went inside to get his phone to call the number on the dog’s tag. “Hold him, Marie,” he said. I knelt next to the dog and petted him. He kissed me, and he had very stinky breath. The dog was named Maxwell, and he was looking around like he was worried or late. That’s what it seemed like to me. I said, “It’s okay Maxwell, we’ll get you home.”

He turned and looked at me, looking directly into my eyes, and it felt for all the world like he’d heard me. Not just heard, but understood. I had the feeling he was saying something. It’s not like I heard words in my mind. It just seemed like he was saying, I love you, but you will not get me home. I am from this place, but other. I need to get back to the this place that I am from.

I had the image of two identical dogs leaving two identical dog houses, only one of them stepped through a hole in space and the other did not. It was clear, and weird, and made me a little dizzy. There was a pain in the left side of my forehead.

Tony was trying to dial the number on the gold colored tag on Maxwell’s collar when there was a flash in the sky. We looked up, and there was another flash, brighter than the sun. Out of a clear blue sky a fireball was falling toward earth.

Tony said, “Holy shit,” and started taking video with his phone.

I was scared, I remember that very clearly. I had to pee when we saw Maxwell, but now I forgot that I had to pee. Because I peed my pants, and I didn’t even notice.

Our mom came outside to see what we were doing, and she noticed the puddle under my sandals. I don’t know why I used to pee myself when I was little. She said, “Marie, honey, you … you peed …” By then she was staring at the fireball as well.

She was there when the second one came into view.

Its flames were purple.