I have solved some pretty tough brain teasers and riddles in my time (my twin brother didn’t get all the smarts to himself), but the enigma he and I discovered while investigating this space rock thing I found a few days ago is perplexing beyond measure. Here we are in the woods standing in a meteor crater, the sun sitting not too high above the tree tops, and neither the trees nor Corin or I have shadows.
“Dude……..” is all I’m able to let out. There are simply no words. By now, we have forgotten all about the foreign space objects we were investigating in the first place. Our eyes are showing us things, but we cannot believe them. Even Corin’s scientific, logic mind has all but completely shut down, and all he does is marvels. He then hollers abruptly next, and because of the manner in which he does it, I get a little startled thinking he’s seen a ghost or something.
“Oh snap! Maddie, check it out!” He holds his mouth and starts pointing, shifting my attention to…..well to everywhere around us. I then start asking myself if it has always been so and I never noticed, or if it changed while we were absorbed by our shadow-less selves. It’s mid-autumn, and while the rest of the wood is golden, bronze and brown, all the trees around the crater are teaming with life, boasting plush green leaves. Furthermore, after a closer inspection, Corin notes that the trees that had their tops clipped when the meteor, or whatever it was, was crashing, all seem to be doing just fine. Three days after they were heavily pruned, they are showing no traces of ever being harmed. But that’s only half the story: the branches that fell to the ground are not only growing now, they are almost half the size of the other trees, and there are no dead leaves on the ground.
To say that weird things were happening would have been a gross understatement. We came on this quest to find answers to our questions, but needless to say, all we got was more questions. But in spite of all that’s going on, I am not being weirded out by this. I am drenched with a sense of peace that I can’t quite explain, and from Corin’s body language and the expression he has on his face, I suspect he’s got the same feeling too. I am completely awestruck, and I would have stayed here forever had it not been for Corin reminding me that we have a schedule to keep.
“Dude, the parents. I think we should start heading back,” he says. Right. I lost all track of time; it feels like we have been standing, doing nothing but marveling at our surroundings for hours. I look at the sun and it’s still practically in the same place, so we’ve still got time. I suggest that we take pictures, but none of our phones seem to be working right, as if there’s some sort of interference. Regardless, Corin goes over to take one of the meteor rocks while I take the other, and after putting them in his backpack, we set off for home.
I’m thinking I’ve seen enough paranormal activity for a day – a lifetime even, but the strange occurrences, aren’t quite done yet.
The further away we go from the crater, the darker the sky and our surroundings become, at an incredible rate. After five minutes, it goes from approaching sunset to immensurable darkness. I look at my watch and it still says 5:05 pm. The sky says 7:30.
This alone has our pace doubling each second. We more than got carried away at the crater. I know we spent a lot of time there, but every time I’d look at my watch, it would show 5:00 pm, and I was so perplexed by what was going on that I didn’t notice that my watch wasn’t moving. I don’t know how to say it, but it appears time, wasn’t moving. Now that I think about it, the sun wasn’t moving either. It simply remained where it was the whole time we were there, just above the treetops. Now, I can only hope we don’t find our parents when we get back, or it’s going to be the doghouse until we’re 21.
It’s a race against time the whole way home. I may be an easy going person, but when I give my word, I give my word. I can’t let Corin get into any more trouble on top of the trouble I have already got him in. Even though he gets tired, I just have to keep on pushing him so that we at least have a chance of beating the parents home. My Dad is a contractor, so he’ll often work late, and my mom runs a cafe at a mall in the suburbs. It’s a pretty long drive getting back to the outskirts where we live, so there’s a good chance we could still make it. We soon start approaching the house, and I’m able to see that the back porch lights are on. No stress; it could just be our worker Portia who turned them on. No reason for panic. No reason for panic, until my phone starts ringing. It’s clearly not malfunctioning as it was before. And it gets worse.
My mom is on the line.
From past experience, I know it isn’t a good idea to answer the call so I just let it ring. She may hear Forest or something else in the woods that will sell us out. Maybe she isn’t even home yet and she just wants to find out what she needs to bring for the house. But all my questions about her location are dismissed when she sends me a text.
‘Hope you are enjoying the woods, because that’s the last you’ll see of them.’
The jig is up.
Corin doesn’t know it yet though, so I’ll just let him think we’re rushing for a purpose, even though we are without a doubt walking into a butt-whopping when we get home. Yeah, we’re gonna get in bucket loads of trouble, but you know what? It was worth it.
So we get home and walk into the living room, only to find my mom sitting there in the dark with a lamp by her side like she’s the Godfather or something. She doesn’t shout, but she gives us the ‘wait till your father gets home’ speech and sends us up to our rooms. I have to walk up the stairs in awkward silence because what I told Corin wouldn’t happen, just happened. I can’t even look him in the face, but if I could see him right now, he’d probably look like a livid goblin. On fire. With arrows all pointing toward me.
My dad comes not too long after and we both get called back downstairs. Though he doesn’t shout either (they really aren’t shouting people, our parents), he does let us know how serious disobeying a direct order is. But just before he can bring on the retribution, I jump on the grenade in an attempt to save the rest of the battalion (of one).
“Dad, none of this is Corin’s fault: I take full responsibility for what happened. I’m the one who dragged him out there, so I’m the one you should punish. But before you do, maybe you should see what we found.” Before I can be given permission, I dash upstairs and get Corin’s bag, then bring it down and remove the rocks. They aren’t glowing like they were before, but their weird shape alone must count for something.
“I don’t see how this is supposed to validate leaving the house, even when you knew you were grounded,” my mom says.
“But it’s not just that. The sun was shining, and they were glowing…….we had no shadows; the grass, and the trees, they were incredibly green…..and the branches that fell on the ground – they became full-size trees!” They look at me like I am a mad person; my words aren’t making any sense because there’s so much that happened and I want to tell them everything at once. It’s clearly not working. “Ummm…….my watch! My watch wasn’t working until we left! Look! It’s still two hours behind!”
“This isn’t a curfew issue, young lady, you know-”
“I know, but you have to believe me!” I interject my dad, which I never do. But what we found was so huge, they can’t just wave it off and go ahead and punish us-I mean me. “Corin, tell them; it literally shatters everything we know about science!”
“She’s right dad. I mean, I could finally get on the cover of The Graphite Scientist with these findings.” My dad looks at my mom, contemplating on what to do next. They know that I always have something up my sleeves, but Corin’s is more of a reputable word. All the same, they still don’t seem to be buying it.
“Maybe you should come with us to the crater. You just have to see it,” I say.
My dad bites his lip like the way he always does when he is deep in thought. We may be getting a break.
“This better not be a trick,” Dad says. I am elated, because if it works out, and Corin does score The Graphite Scientist, it could be what he finally needs to prove to them that he isn’t just wasting his, and their time with science. I am being shredded with anxiety as we drive to the crater in my dad’s pickup truck.
Just like we were the first time we got to the landing, we, or at least Corin and I, are perplexed. Beyond measure. I literally have to push my mouth closed, and after that, I do the same for Corin.
There is nothing there.
No crater, no broken trees, no plush green leaves.
While I’m walking around the area dumbfounded, Corin goes to his phone and double checks the coordinates, but nothing is amiss. There’s just decaying autumn slapping us in the face.
“Well, knowing you, I guess I should have seen this coming,” Dad says to me.
“Wait, there must be some mistake. Corin, send the Swift up, maybe we’re missing something,” I blurt out.
“You will do no such thing,” my mom says. “Get in the truck; we’ll figure out what to do with you when we get home.”
“No buts, Madison Brooks. I’m really disappointed in you, going this low,” my dad enforces. “Get in the truck, now, because if she doesn’t get to spanking you right away, I will.” Damn. And I thought I had out grown that bull. I can do nothing else but listen to them for once, and wonder what crazy punishment they will come up with.
The ride back home is a sucky one. My parents don’t say a single word to us, and I don’t get anything from Corin either, apart from one fleeting, indecipherable glance. As I stare at one of the rocks I have in my hand, I can only think back to what he and I saw. What we know we saw. We have to find a way to show that these interstellar objects are special. They are the only connection we have to everything else. It’s not about getting out of trouble now. It’s about getting the world to know. And of course, getting Corin on that cover. But we just have to find a way to prove what we saw and prove that we’re not crazy. And if he won’t stay mad at me forever, with Corin on the team, it’s more than possible. But as for now, I guess I should find a way to make it up to him. Again. Without getting him in trouble this time. Because we are going to be seeing a lot of each other.
(Photo by Ms. Six Wetherby)