Chapter 1: An Unexpected Visitor

It's funny how things can happen

In the blink of an eye

And how something you never wished for

Becomes reality.

It was the night of my 18th birthday. I had just got home from a small party with my two best friends, and even though it was barely 9:00, I was tired. All day my friends and family had been telling me, "Make a wish! Make a wish!" I never did. To tell the truth, I don't believe in wishes. I always say that anything you want you can achieve by hard work and effort. In my experience, luck is nonexistent and wishes are fruitless. So I acted like I was being thoughtful, and blew out the candles on my overly iced cake. To make them happy.

That night, I laid awake in my bed, staring at the stars out my window like I often did. Their soft unwavering glow always seemed to calm me. Ever since I was a kid, I had always been fascinated by the heavens. I had star charts plastered around my room and could spend hours sitting by my window, staring at the world above. It was a way of escape for me. My life wasn't the most exciting one, but I was happy with what I had. I wasn't sick, and I wasn't poor. My parents loved me very much...I just felt like I was missing out on something my whole life. I couldn't help but think there was something bigger out there, waiting to be discovered. I'd stare out my window every night, out at those beautiful stars, wishing I could be up there. Wishing I could be with them. Surely there was something more to the mundane life I lived. There had to be. And I couldn't help thinking that the answer lie floating above my head, up in those magical heavens I adored so much. As I stared out my window, I couldn't help but notice a star I hadn't seen before. It was larger than all of the other stars were and very distinct in the sky. "Hmm," I mumbled softly, shifting a bit to get a better look. I looked at it closer, and found that it seemed to be pulsating with an odd red glow. How odd... And even...was it moving? No, of course not. I reminded myself. Probably just a plane. I shook my head, trying to clear away the confusing thoughts. Nevertheless, as I lay there struggling with sleep, the strange red star haunted me. There was something...different about it. But what could it be! That's why before I went to sleep, I sat up, stared straight at the star, and whispered a wish.

I was awoken in the middle of the night by a huge crashing sound. It sounded as violent as if a meteor had struck the yard or a devastating earthquake had just taken place. The room shuddered and quaked, causing several books to plummet from their usual resting place on my bookshelf. A old trophy toppled from a wall shelf, causing a loud clang! as it hit the floor. What the heck was going on?! Earthquake? It couldn't be. I sat up straight in the bed, sweat beading on my forehead, and heard a yell from downstairs. My mom! I tripped out of bed, grabbing my glasses as I stumbled to the stairwell. I rushed downstairs, thinking that she had been hurt. She was sitting awake in her bedroom, dressed scantily in pajamas. Her eyes were wild. She got up and went over to her closet, reaching for the gun she stored for emergencies. "No, Mom, stop!" I yelled at her.

She whirled around, her eyes growing even wider. "What are you doing up?"

"The same reason as you, I heard the world collapse in our backyard!"

"Elena, stop this," she said firmly. "There's nothing to be worried about and nothing you need to be involved with. Everything is fine. Now, listen to me and go back to bed." I gritted my teeth and had the strong urge to fight back.

"Well, go back to bed. You'll be fine; I'll deal with it," She said in her condescending tone, shooing me away.

I didn't know how I knew, but suddenly, I had an overpowering urge to head outside and see what had happened. "I think know what to do..." I whispered.

"How can you know what to do? You have no idea what's out there. It could be very dangerous!" My mother stared me down, willing me to comply.

The urge to leave was getting stronger and stronger. There was something almost...calling me out there. I had to go. "I'm sorry." I whispered to her, and without another thought, I walked out into the cold.

Rain was falling steadily outside, trickling slowly and dripping into lonely puddles from the barren branches of the trees. The moon shone weakly through the turbulent clouds, and lone stars twinkled through the dim cold. Freshly fallen leaves rained down from the torrent in a storm of vibrant orange and fierce red. I looked up into a sky for a split second; the strange red star was nowhere in sight. Strange... I wondered what had happened to it.

I had little time to appreciate my surroundings as a huge smoking mass of metal dominated the yard. My heart caught in my chest, beating furiously against my t-shirt. I started to cough. What was in the air? The grass was singed; I could smell the putrid scent. I squinted through the darkness, eyes burning. I wanted to turn back, but I knew I had to press on. Suddenly I could see a glint of red out of the corner of my eye. The star?! I whipped my head around, straining my eyes to the left. A small red glow emanated from the demolished fence. Or was it on top of the demolished fence? I stepped closer. The heat coming off the burning metal teased my bare skin; I feared to get closer. I had to admit though, I was intrigued. This was almost a fantasy of mine. I had spent so many nights staring at the blank sky, wishing something would fall from the heavens and rescue me, and here it was! The ethereal glow was coming from my own backyard!

I stepped one cautious step further, crinkling the scorched leaves underfoot. The heat was becoming unbearable, but I couldn't take my eyes off the red glowing metal. Somehow, I felt connected to it. This feeling scared me. I wondered for a split second if I was being possessed by a maleficent spirit or dastardly force. Then I remembered I don't believe in those sorts of things. Logic. I whispered to myself. Logic.

A loud hissing sound came from the red mass, and steam seared my face. I screamed as it blistered my skin. My mom yelled from inside and burst out the door, gun in hand, but stopped short as if held back by a force field or something of the sort. She smacked into it as if she had ran into a glass door, flattened against it, and crumpled to the ground. I screamed now in fear for my mother. I ran back to her, peering closely through the dim red light now illuminating the yard. She seemed unharmed. I could not detect any signs of blood, but she might have been bruised. I couldn't tell. It was dark. My face still burning, I glanced back at the hissing metal. A brighter slant of light became visible, opening wider and wider until it was a gaping hole. My eyes were consumed with red light. I screamed. When I opened them again, I couldn't believe what I saw.

The red light was nowhere in sight, although I could see clearly now the mangled metal of what may have been some type of ship. It hissed and steamed, with bits of metal dangling at random points from the destroyed frame. It certainly wasn't a ship anymore. Horror struck me and my breath came in short gasps. What in the world was going on? What was this strange ship-thing doing here? Some bizarre experiment from NASA?

No. I told myself. This is all a dream. I looked behind me. A dream... My mother was nowhere in sight. Where did she go?! I looked around frantically. She was just there! It's just a dream. I tried to calm myself. Just don't worry, you'll wake up soon enough and everything will be fine. I put a hand to my forehead, wiping away cool sweat.

When I turned back around, I saw a figure lying in the rubble. I gasped, my heart speeding up again. Poor man! At least I assumed it was a man. The person shifted a bit, and then struggled to get up. He sat up with great effort, shaking blackened metal from his dark copper-colored hair. He looked around at the charred mass, and hung his head, an audible sigh escaping from his lips. What could this be? I didn't know whether to move toward him or run away. No...I have to know... With careful, cautious steps, I moved toward him, no longer feeling the excruciating heat. The man finally stood up after much effort, trying to gauge his surroundings. Then he saw me, his bright blue eyes locking with mine.

He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.