Bobby was walking deep in the woods now. He had been walking for a while and was not sure how far he had gone. What had started as a curiosity had become a personal mission, a mission to find whatever had fallen from the sky.
Only a few hours ago Bobby had been sitting on the back porch of his home playing with fireworks and his new Sparkr lighter outside of Whitehall Michigan. He laughed at how the electric current lit the fuses so quickly and he threw the M80s on the ground and watched them explode loudly. He had gotten into his dad’s workbench and filled a sandwich bag with Pyrodex gunpowder and was going to blow it soon with the lighter, but did not know how it would go. Another boom as he threw another M80 to the back yard and Bobby laughed. Bobby wasn’t worried about people. His house backed up to the Huron Manistee Forest and the park was more than a little large. He remembered walking in the park in the daylight and how easy it was to get lost, but at night, well, it may well be a fool’s errand, so he doubted anyone was behind him.
As Bobby sat and watched the breeze, enjoyed the twilight, and of course threw fireworks occasionally, he had seen the streak in the sky. It descended rapidly and plunged behind the trees somewhere in the park. Moments later he heard the “foom” of a landing somewhere and knew a meteor had hit. Bobby knew that the first to find it might well get some cash, or at least a story in the Grand Rapids paper. Standing he brushed off his cargo jeans, picked up two flashlights on the porch and set off into the woods. Bobby was ready to seek a fortune and maybe a little adventure. He checked the batteries so he would not get stuck in the darkness and grabbed a compass that he had been playing with earlier in the day.
Now hours into his adventure the biggest thing he had discovered is that it was much darker in the woods than he had remembered. At 18, Bobby had gone through these woods on his quad, his cycle, and on foot, but never really past twilight. After all, it would not be out of the question to see a bear in the woods, and some places the ways out were tough to find. Bobby’s denim jeans and denim jacket let him walk without having to worry about the weeds and wild thorns that would have cut him if he were unaware.
Bobby thought he should run into Silver Creek Road, or at least a house already and considered he may be turned around. Pulling out a compass he verified he was still heading north towards the sound and the streak, and wondered if his adventure and his fortune was lost or worse, someone else got to it first.
Bobby turned off the flashlight for a second and looked up at the stars. His eyes adjusted and the light of the stars was enough to see a little, then more as the sky above him slowly lit with the canopy that many people don’t ever get to see. Bobby loved looking at the stars in the country, it made him feel large and small at the same time. He looked out and was again amazed at just how many stars he could see, and for a moment wondered if anything out there was looking up at him, as a point of light in their sky. As he looked back down through the trees he saw the glow.
It was there in front of him, not far, maybe 25 yards. The glow was weak, and his flashlight probably kept him from seeing the dim golden hue. Bobby squinted and struggled trying to see a little further, but could only see the dim golden glow. The brush seemed thicker as Bobby worked his way forward. His leather work boots were perfect for pressing through the thick undergrowth but he had failed to bring gloves so he paid careful attention to his hands as he pressed on.
Suddenly he was in a clearing. A natural dune rose a few feet in front of him, and there, in the middle of a patch of brush was the glowing rock he had been seeking. Bobby considered he had now found his prize and it was time to cash in.
The meteor was small, only about the size of a cantaloupe, and Bobby looked on in fascination as it seemed to pulse and glow in the night. Looking up he saw the light was too bright for him to see any but the brightest stars, and he suddenly came to the realization, he had brought no gloves, nor shovel nor anything that would make it remotely possible to carry a glowing blob of hot rock back to the house.
He surveyed the area. It was obviously hot, he saw the glass around the crater and knew the dune had melted as the meteor slammed into it, but there was no gaping hole, which was a little confusing. He looked around, and saw no burnt branches, or trees knocked down, only the crater with the glowing rocks on top. Bobby looked back at the mount and saw a series of dandelions forming as he watched, a perfect circle of them around the crater. He knew the plants well as he had played with the weed all his life.
He was fascinated to watch the flowers suddenly grow stalks and bloom in mere moments, the yellow flower was mesmerizing and seemed to pulse as it widened and grew. No ordinary dandelion, the flower began to stretch and was soon over 6 inches wide. Bobby was curious, but he had seen that movie where the meteor made some guy into a plant and then he had to kill himself. He was not stupid, not stupid at all.
Bobby smelled the perfumy smell that seemed to entice him. It was musky but sweet, and it seemed to be all around him. He felt as though he should go to the flower, but his mind screamed inside, no, and he began to back away. As he did so his flashlight played across a reflection and he saw a deer walking slowly towards the flowers. The deer saw him, was antsy but seemed to be pulled to the flower. As it got within a foot the yellow flower sprang out like a launched missile, and Bobby jumped as the deer struggled to get away, now impaled on the glowing petals of the flower. The flower seemed to close, and Bobby was horrified to see the deer seem to shrink as the stalk bulged and shrunk, the animal being emptied like a Capri sun bag.
Bobby continued to back away slowly, and saw the deer, now a leathery hush, fall away. The golden glow pulsed just a little brighter and the flower pulled back to the small group of fat dandelions. The once closed flower that had just eaten a deer began to open, instead of the yellow flower stalks Bobby saw thousands of white seeds ready to be launched. Bobby remembered as a child picking dandelions and blowing on similar seedlings and watching them spin off into the air. His father had told him long ago, “don’t blow them away, they’ll spread everywhere.” These seemed far more sinister than his childhood memories, far more sinister and , looking at the deer husk, far more deadly.
Suddenly, as if to shake him from his thoughts, Bobby was filled with a newfound purpose. He saw a raccoon slowly make his way forward to the flowers drawn to the scent still assailing his senses. Bobby knew if the seeds caught the air, well it would be bad.
Against his fear. Bobby walked closer to the plant while reaching into his pocket. He saw a flower turn slowly too him as he opened the baggie and threw the powder inside all over the little mound. It was not thick, but it was in the flowers and made them glisten with black specks. He had played with this powder often, and saw the small piles all over the leaves and flowers, he hoped it would be enough.
He backed away again as the raccoon got closer. Bobby picked up a rock from the ground and threw it at the raccoon but it scowled at him and curiously moved forward. Bobby reached into his pocket for a lighter and his fireworks. He had 5 m80s left in the front pocket of his pants. Bobby quickly twisted the fuses together so they were one big fuse, ready to be lit. He had done 2 at once before and blown up a mailbox. Old man Simmons was furious with him, but he had payed him for a new mailbox and the man had calmed down.
Bobby lit the Sparkr and the fuses danced immediately. He threw them right to the center where the meteor still glowed and started to run. In a flash in his mind he thought about how the pieces might hit him, he thought of his mother, his friends, he even thought about old man Simmons as time seemed to dance around him like a wild dog.
Bobby had not taken three steps when the explosives actually went off. The boom was a series of several, not all at once, but a few at once made it seem massive. He actually seemed to hear a scream and turned to see the flowers on fire with sparks dancing through the air, the gunpowder lit as the flames heated and forced the flames to jump wildly in the air. The white seeds were caught in the heat rising but as they would each begin to rise they burst into flames making small streaks of light like the one bobby had seen cross the sky.
Bobby’s ears rang like a pan had been placed on his head and beaten with a wooden spoon. He rubbed his head, and smiled. Bobby felt good about himself for a moment, he had done something right. To the side of the plants he saw the raccoon shake its head as if trying to clear the ringing in its ears and run away, spared the fate of the deer.
Minutes later old man Simmons and the police arrived, they were dubious of his story until they had seen the deer, and they looked at the burnt leaves. The meteor was still there, but charred and not glowing. Bobby was taken away from the area and watched as it was surrounded with bright yellow police tape. They took Bobby home, and he sat on his porch once more, looking at the stars and knowing that somewhere out there someone was looking up at him.
As people talked some would say the government came and took everything away, some would say it was all just burnt up, some even said it was all a hoax and nothing really happened, but Bobby always knew, if he hadn’t gone in the woods, well, we could have all been in the weeds.