Mari looked up suddenly, as the sky lit up with a sickly green light. The meteorite streaked through the sky and crashed with a titanic boom. Mari turned to Adrian and saw her partner still hunched over the steering wheel, mouth agape, looking up at the sky.
“Vamos!” She jabbed Adrian in the arm. “That came down right over by Gristle Lake. Let’s go, it might start a fire.”
Adrian adjusted his glasses. “Yeah. You’re right.”
“Come on, man, start the jeep!” Mari punched Adrian’s arm again, repeatedly this time.
“Shit. Yeah, sorry.” Adrian turned the key in the ignition and the Forest Service vehicle roared to life.
“Let’s goooo!” Mari grabbed the radio from the dash and called in their destination as Adrian shifted into drive.
As the jeep wove and jostled down the unpaved service road, Adrian rolled down the window and sniffed deeply. The scent of evening air in the forest filled his nostrils. “I don’t smell any smoke yet.” He gave Mari a quick raise of hiseyebrows and a smile before turning back to the road.
“Good sign,” Mari agreed. With the recent years of drought plaguing the globe, the last thing they needed was a catastrophic fire raging through the park. Mark shifted in her seat and glanced back. They had a fire extinguisher in the back, which would be fine for a small fire, but if it had ignited a brush fire, the situation could get bad, really quickly.
Adrian maneuvered them through the dusky woods, then started to slow as the clearing opened up into the lake’s parking lot. It was relatively empty considering the summer season, and it looked as if everyone who was by the lake was all huddle together – the meteorite had drawn a crowd. Adrian sped up and drove the jeep out onto the dirt shore.
As he turned off the engine, Mari was already out of her seat belt and half out of the door. She snagged the fire extinguisher and was off running towards the crowd.
“Mari, wait a second!” Adrian sighed. He pocketed the keys and got out. There was obviously no raging fire, thankfully, and judging from the crowd, the impact was on the shoreline and close to the lake.
Adrian got out of the car and started walking on the rocky dirt towards the group of bystanders.
A young girl screamed. Adrian broke into a run.
“What happened? Are you okay?” Mari had arrived at the crowd and pushed her way through. “Park ranger! Step aside!”
“It’s moving!” The same little girl who had shrieked earlier was jumping up and down and pointing. “Ohmygoditsaliiiiiiive!”
Mari gasped as she she stepped into the center of the crowd. The girl was swaying back and forth while gripping onto her mother’s
jacket while pointing, flailing, and screaming with excitement all at the same time. Mari’s vision tracked towards the smoldering crater.
Some bug-like thing was curled into a ball, and was beginning to unwind. It was still on fire and burned with a strange, bright green
flame. Mari felt herself gasp along with the crowd as the segmented, shrimp-like tail of the alien slowly unwound itself, revealing a head the
size of its body with rows of crab-like legs.
The crustacean-like creature let out a shrill, chittering noise as its huge, teeth-filled mouth opened vertically across its stubby head. The alien began to grind itself into the dirt, trying to extinguish the flames on its body.
Mari gripped the fire extinguisher as she weighed her options. Should she put out the fire on the creature? Would the fire extinguisher
even work on such weird flames – that had to be some sort of chemical fire, right? Is this thing going to become an invasive species? Should
she try and catch it alive – it could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch a real alien. Is it dangerous?
With the flames dying down on its body, the creature began its chittering cry again. The crowd stepped closer, now more familiar with the beast and wanting to see it up close and personal. The crab-shrimp-insectoid thing suddenly curled its tail beneath it’s body. Mari saw its many eyes open and roll towards the small, excited girl, who was inching closer than the rest of the crowd.
“Stay back!” Adrian shouted, grabbing the little girl and pulling her back. The creatures eyes fixed on this new person joining the fray and hissed. “Back up, everyone, we don’t know what this thing can do.” The crowd, startled, shuffled backwards, leaving Mari the closest person to the alien.
The chittering began again, and the creature’s many eyes spun in their sockets towards Mari. It crouched down then flung itself towards
her, its tail acting like a springboard. Mari screamed.
She took a step back to brace herself and swung the fire extinguisher. It collided with the alien with a crack and fell to the ground. The people around it broke off into a run, nearly tripping on each other. Mari stumbled, and took a few steps to control her momentum and right herself.
Adrian was suddenly there next to her, and she noticed he had drawn his Glock 22. “Everybody clear the lake!”
The creature was already coiled again for the next strike when Adrian began firing. One of the beast’s joints popped, but its shell deflected most of the shots.
“What is that shell made of?” Adrian wondered aloud, as the crowd broke off into a panic, retreating at full-speed towards the parking lot.
The creature hissed again, coiled, and jumped again, but Mari was prepared this time, swinging upward with the fire extinguisher, knocking the creature down onto its back. The alien writhed, and was about to right itself when Mari closed in, pinning the beast to the ground with the extinguisher. As
she leaned into the metal canister, she could feel the strength of the creature pushing back against her with all of its might.
“Kill it, Adrian! Kill it!” Even with all of her strength, Mari could feel the alien would soon overpower her. It’s pointed feet scratched ribbons of red paint off of the steel canister. Mari turned quickly to see where Adrian was but she just saw car lights turning on as the hikers and families fled. “Shit, Adrian, I need help here!”
Mari could feel her strength waning and the unearthly claws starting to cut deeper into the steel of the extinguisher. It might explode at any moment. She gritted her teeth as she struggled to keep the monster at bay.
“Sorry I’m late!” Adrian was now in front of her, with two handfuls of road flares in hand. Adrian slammed the flares on the ground to ignite them, then
jabbed the flares into the gnashing mouth of the beast.
The monster made a screeching sound as the flare burned it’s innards. The fierce thrashing was so great Mari lost her grip on the fire extinguisher, but it
was too late for the dying alien. Mari and Adrian stepped back and watched as the creature crawled away, the extinguished flares dropping out of its charred mouth one by one. The smell of sulfur and rotting flesh filled the air as a trail of bloody viscera seeped out of the alien’s mouth.
The alien pulled its body forward, dragging it through the dirt, then lurched to a stop. Its legs twitched and spasmed, then went still. All was quiet.
“Is it dead?” Mari drew her own firearm and cautiously approached the alien corpse.
“Bullets didn’t seem to work last time – I’d be careful.” Adrian followed her, another unlit flare in hand. Mari took a few steps closer, then hesitated.
Adrian watched as Mari took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. One of the creature’s larger eyes exploded in a splash of ichor. The creature writhed and screamed a gurgled cry. Mari took aim again and fired once more. Another eye erupted. This time, the alien creature was silent and still. Mari holstered her gun.
“It seems pretty dead now.” Adrian gave Mari a gentle high-five.
“Are you okay?”
“I think I might have broken a finger swinging around that fire extinguisher, but considering we just killed an alien, I’m doing okay.” Mari eased herself to the ground. “I could definitely use a quick break though.”
“Copy that.” Adrian looked around. The shore had cleared out for the most part. Some people had their heads out their car windows, looking back at them.
“Did you get it?” someone shouted.
“It’s safe now! It’s dead!” Adrian called back while waving. The bystanders gave him a crowd of thumbs-up and celebratory fist pumps. Adrian turned back towards his partner. “You know, Mari, I am really am glad that there was two of us, and only one of that alien.”
‘Yeah, me too. This thing was one tough SOB.” Mari rubbed her temples and slowly got to her feet. “I guess we had better call it in. Some scientist is going to have a field day.”
A huge explosion echoed from the lake. Mari and Adrian spun around to see a thirty-foot-tall eruption of water.
“What the-” Mari’s hand dropped back to her handgun. Adrian scanned the shoreline. No one was around.
It was then the neon green glow of the sky became more apparent as uncountable meteorites flew overhead. Mari and Adrian looked on as alien invaders crashed all around them, a cacophony high-speed impacts. As the dust began to settle and smoke began to fill the air, a high-pitched chittering resounded throughout the park. It was shortly after that the screaming began.