September 12, 2019 by thewashingteenian
By Bossman Owusu
Sunday evening, late fall.
A girl on a bike was making her way under a blanket of trees, her trek kept hidden by the shade given by the leaves above her. It was quiet here, though not silent – the chatter of the animals of the forest made it so. The chirps and coos of the woodland creatures sang by her ears. It was quiet enough for her, however, and she enjoyed coming here, as often as she could.
The chill of the breeze made her tighten her teeth. Even her rather thick sweatshirt she had on couldn’t prevent her from experiencing the biting feeling of the wind slithering past her. Regardless, though, she rode on, her legs pushing her bike forward, carrying her body onwards down the trail.
Her eyes traced down to her fingers where they grasped her bike handles. They were growing terribly numb as the wind berated her thin digits. Should have brought gloves, she noted. She had this same realization on the last ride she was on, and had experienced the same pain as the wind pressed against them, and had even made the same mental promise to remember gloves for next time. This was the third time she had forgotten.
And yet, she carried on. She had to push extra hard as she neared the beginning of a hill, the gradient of the road increasing. Her breath grew sharp and quick, her calves burned. She pressed on anyway. If she gave up now and lost her momentum, there was no way she would be able to start again. Then she would have to walk her bicycle up the hill – a cruel way of facing defeat, especially since she would have still been physically drained from attempting the climb. She had done that every time she had attempted this hill…but this time would be different.
At the top, she was finally able to come to a stop. Her lungs felt like they were on fire, and now each breath grew hoarser than the last. She didn’t care, however, as a sense of pride was trickling up her body. It brought a smile to her lips, and filled her with a warmth that negated the cold of the wind. She’d done it. And not even the fatigue that plagued her poor legs could take away from that accomplishment.
She allowed her breathing to calm and admired the view. Up here, the trees grew away from the road, and the leaves spread out to allow her to see the sky up above. As it drew closer to night, the sun continued to sink into the horizon. The soft blue of the sky was riddled with wisps of fluffy white clouds which were highlighted shades of orange and yellow from the sun’s glow. It was undoubtedly beautiful, and she was more than glad she had timed her bike trip just in time to catch it.
Her eyes caught something in the faded blue sky – something white and bright, radiating off the background of dying blue. Surely enough, it was moving. From where she stood, it looked like it was gently gliding across the sky, although from the object’s position it must have been racing fast. Light streaks of purple and blue tailed by the white sphere, which the girl realized was because it was burning up as it flew. There was no doubt: it was a meteor, descending quickly upon the earth.
Her face softened as she watched it. She had never seen anything like it, at least not this close. It was bigger than most comets or meteors that flew in the sky, and a part of her felt as if it was growing in size as it continued. She would have dismissed that part of her altogether, but what happened next did not allow her to do so.
For a moment, the forest went silent. The silence sent a chill down her spine, and her momentary solitude cast an uneasy feeling upon her. Something wasn’t right. Before her thoughts could come together, the trees shook as the flapping of wings filled the air. The sight of the sky was now clouded by flocks of birds driving through the air heading west in a flurry. In front of her, the road was briefly filled with a small parade of tiny animals – rabbits, squirrels, foxes, all hurrying across to the other side. Even a few deer pranced by before disappearing into the woods again.
They were fleeing.
When the birds passed, she looked back up towards the sky. The meteor was definitely larger than since she had last looked. She could make out much more detail on it – the flames that devoured the entire thing, licking off the sides; the bronze metallic hull that encompassed the entire thing, holes emitting jets of white smoke. By now, she wasn’t entirely sure if it was a meteor, though she did know it was coming in fast and hard.
She had to leave – she knew that much. The size and speed of the mass was enough to plunge her into fear, especially when she realized it was rocketing right towards her! The sheer force of its trajectory made the trees near her sway, the strength of the winds increasing. She held tighter onto her bike handles, still watching it as it drew even closer. The light of the sun around her seemed to be blotted out, now replaced by the reflection of the meteor’s blues and purples painting everything around her. She knew she had to leave…but here she stood, frozen, entranced by the view.
CAROOOM! The meteor sliced through the air right above her as it passed, shaking everything around her with a deafening boom. She was knocked right off her feet, collapsing to the ground. She held her hands to her ears, her eyes held shut as she flew down. In the next moment it was gone, disappearing out of sight. She ripped her eyes open as the warmth from the meteor hit her, showering her entire body. Her heart was beating loudly in her chest, which seemed to almost drown out everything else…almost everything.
The ground was shaken by an unbearable force. At first, the girl had thought it was an earthquake, but she knew better. The meteor had landed, hitting the ground with thunderous might. Then, everything was quiet again as it had been, and the forest returned to its slumber.
The girl brought herself to her feet, unsteady as she stood. She couldn’t believe what she had seen. The wonder of what had just happened kept the realization miles away from her mind that she easily could have died a few moments ago.
Her eyes turned to the direction that the meteor had gone. The smell of smoke filled her nose, and she could make out remnants of cinders rising into the air. From what she could see, the meteor had ripped through the trees as it made its landing, demolishing everything in its path. She could see the path it made, a trench of dirt and mud leading deeper into the forest.
Her curiosity tingled. A part of her knew that she should have left immediately, going somewhere safe and allowing the proper authorities to deal with the meteorite. However, another part of her wanted to get a closer look – she knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and would regret it if she didn’t investigate whatever had just landed.
The latter part of her won.