The sonic boom of something entering the atmosphere at hyper speeds woke the entire community. Jake Park pulled off his headphones and ran to the window; whatever just happened was much more interesting than his online game.
“Did you hear that?” Jake’s door flew open as his older sister, Marie, rushed to join him at the window.
“Well duh, why else do you think I’m staring out the window?”
Jake and Marie were fraternal twins but a stranger never would have guessed that they were related at all. Where Marie was tall, willowy and a budding beauty, Jake was squat, dark and prone to severe acne. Marie was a social butterfly, popular with boys and girls alike and a favorite of her teachers while Jake was a loner who preferred the company of computer simulations.
Jake threw open the sash and leaned out. He craned his neck to see the sky and after a second he pointed westward.
“Look, there’s something in the sky.”
High above, the pair could see streaks of light racing downward from the heavens. It was the most meteorites either teenager had ever seen. The streaks seemed to originate from a small area of sky and as they watched the blazing trails spread out like a shotgun blast extending to all points on the horizon.
Jake had to agree although he would never say it; the fiery rocks formed a spectacle like Fourth of July fireworks in reverse as they raced toward the ground leaving colorful trails of fire. The trails continued to fragment and split until there were thousands of individual streaks of light heading toward Earth.
“I think one of them is going to hit nearby,” Jake said and indicated a trail of red fire which was growing larger.
The fireball streaked downward and dropped below the roof line of the neighbor’s house. A bright light erupted in the distance and several seconds later a roaring boom reached the youngsters. Hot on the heels of the explosion a rumble shook the house, rattling the knick-knacks on Jake’s desk.
“We should go see,” he said.
“Are you nuts? It’s probably radioactive or something.”
Jake was already stripping off his pajama bottoms and pulling jeans over his hips.
“The odds of that are astronomical. Get it? Astronomical?”
Jake’s sense of humor always annoyed Marie and she rolled her eyes at her brother.
He tugged a shirt over his head and stared pointedly at his sister’s long nightgown.
“Are you going to come or not?”
Marie huffed but deep down she was intrigued. She also didn’t want to allow her brother to discover something cool without her and be able to hold it over her head forever.
“Fine, let me get dressed and I’ll come.”
Minutes later the pair was rocketing through the streets on their mopeds. Lights were on in houses throughout the neighborhood and pajama clad citizens congregated in small coffee klatch groups in corners discussing what had happened. Jake and Marie seemed to be the only ones in motion and this brought a grin to Jake’s face, he would be the one to locate the meteorite. He’d get his picture in the paper and be the talk of the town; he’d finally have something to lord over the jocks and popular jerks at school.
Jake had a finely tuned sense of direction and navigated toward where the meteorite had struck. To him it looked like it had hit near the old train depot on the west side of town. As the pair neared their target lingering smoke and dust in the air convinced him that he was correct. The smell of ozone and burnt material greeted them as they pulled into the abandoned train yard. This had once been the center of commerce in their town but when the steel mill closed down the trains stopped coming and the depot became a graveyard of steel rails and rusting boxcars. They stopped at the edge of the depot; where once there had been snaking railroad tracks with the occasional graffiti encrusted boxcar there was now an enormous, shallow crater. Small rocks and dirt covered everything around the pit, ejected by the impact. Jake could feel warmth radiating from the pit as he killed his engine and began to walk toward the lip of the crater.
“Too cool,” he muttered.
“Be careful Jake, it might be dangerous.”
Jake waved off his sister’s concern and peered over the edge of the crater. He expected a pit filled with smoking rock and dirt but instead was greeted by a landscape covered in twisting vines and white bulbous nodules twice the size of a basketball.
“What the hell?” He beckoned his sister forward and together they peered at the strange, plant covered landscape of the crater.
“Shouldn’t there be a meteor and like fire in there?”
“Meteorite,” Jake corrected without thought. “This should just be bare dirt. Where did these plants come from?”
“They look like white eggplants.”
Jake looked up and behind them; he could hear sirens in the distance growing closer. Police and the fire department would be arriving soon and he’d lose his chance to investigate this anomaly. Ignoring his sister’s shouted warning, he stepped over the edge of the crater and slid down the slope until he was surrounded by the strange plants.
“Get out of there,” Marie yelled.
Jake waved her concerns away and walked further into the crater. The weird plants covered every inch of ground and he swore that they were growing as he watched. The low rustle of leaves surrounded him and the white nodules pulsed gently as they stretched and grew.
Jake squatted next to one especially large plant and reached out to the white fruit. The pulsing white surface was hard, like an eggshell. It didn’t feel like any plant he had ever touched before.
“It’s like an egg,” he shouted to Marie.
The sirens were close when another sonic boom rang out. Jake and Marie looked skyward to see more flaming meteorites streaking through the sky. Thousands of points of light ripped into the atmosphere and began fragmenting exactly as the first one had. A sound at his feet drew Jake’s attention downward. The white surface of the plant nodule was cracking, exactly like an eggshell. The cracks radiated out from a central point and soon covered the entire surface.
He stood up and began to back away from the cracking nodule. All around him the same spectacle was repeating on the hundreds of other plants.
The plant he had been squatting over shattered into a thousand pieces. The stem fell to the ground and began to turn brown almost instantly. From the shattered pieces of the egg plant rose a gray creature. It was half Jake’s height and stood on two, back bent legs. It’s body was bulbous, much like the egg plant from which it had emerged, and a trio of long tentacles extended from each side of its body. Atop this strange, wrinkled creature was a head which was a cross between a dinosaur and a movie alien. It had a huge rounded cranium with almond shaped black eyes. Flared nostrils sat just below the eyes and its mouth was enormous and filled with serrated teeth like a T-Rex.
The creature shook itself and looked around, others of its kind were emerging from their own egg plants and shaking themselves off. The creature spotted Jake and bellowed a sound that was half roar and half scream. Every creature in the crater took up the call and the mass surged forward toward Jake.
Jake turned to run only to find himself surrounded on all sides. The invaders swarmed over the boy, ripping at him with their teeth and battering him with their tentacles. Before his screams had stopped the pack was already surging up the crater toward Marie who screamed and ran.
All through the town and around the world screams rose into the air as the invaders came forth to conquer.
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