Jack yawned. He knew the time and knew that he should’ve been fast asleep two hours ago but instead he flipped to the next page of the new Kyle Wissmiller novel: Mass Appeal.
I sit on the couch. Lights out. Only the flicker of a streetlight a few houses down illuminates the block. I look at my watch. 2:13 am. I glance out the window. Nothing yet. Seven more minutes. I am hoping he doesn't show. But strangely, there is a part of me that does. It's been three nights now. The first two, it was the knocking that woke me. Last night, it was the anticipation. Sure enough, right on the minute. Three knocks at the door. I check my watch again. 2:20am.
Jack looked at the alarm clock situated diagonally on the nightstand. Its large green numbers indicated that in the reality it was also 2:20am.
“Coincidence,” Jack said and shrugged his shoulders.
He continued reading.
I slowly pull the curtain back once again. There he is. Standing there. Silhouetted out in the street. Just beyond the end of the driveway. Does he know I see him?
The apartment shook violently, the windows rattled and the lone alarm clock leapt off the nightstand.
He heard car alarms squealing, horns honking, lights probably flashing.
Stepping out of his bedroom he saw the blue glow of the television in the living room and the silhouette of his often-stoned roommate Christopher.
“Did you feel that?”
“Huh?” He gnarled. He moved his leg off the armrest and turned to face Jack.
“There was like an explosion or something.”
“Naw, I didn’t hear anything, man, but I’m so baked I probably wouldn’t feel a gorilla-bear Revenant me, ya know?”
The man on the television screeched, “I think she’s flooded!” and the electricity cut out.
Draped in the darkness of night, Jack started feeling the odd rumblings of the earth but didn’t quite sense this was an earthquake.
“Dude!” Christopher shouted. “I was watching that. What happened?”
“The power’s out.”
“It was Beavers from Outer Space!”
Jack inched toward the window and pulled back the curtain. His eyes grew to the size of saucers as he saw half of the apartment complex across the street had been destroyed, a massive rock-like formation in the center. Jack had never seen a palm tree snap in two. Bend in a hurricane, sure, but never break. A man on the sidewalk was pissed off; he ignored the phenomenon behind him and instead looked at the snapped tree on top of his car.
Hurricanes didn’t hit Los Angeles and the Santa Ana winds never sliced a palm tree like the one lying atop the Chrysler Town & Country. Giant rocks didn’t crash into apartment complexes either.
Sirens wailed in the distance.
Jack made a snap decision: Get the hell out.
He ran into his room, tossed on a pair of jeans, t-shirt and snatched his wallet, keys and phone.
“I’m getting out of here,” he told Christopher.
“Dude? The lights will be back on, man. Smoke up and mellow.”
“Hell no, something’s going on and I don’t want to be here when it comes to fruition.”
Christopher finally lifted himself off the couch and moseyed to the window as Jack put on his shoes.
“It looks like a magical bidet!” He breathily chuckled.
Jack motioned back to the window for a second glance.
A giant rock, yes. A frightening meteor that traveled a billion miles to find itself parked in the apartments across Sepulveda Boulevard, sure.
But the twinkling blue lights and disconnected fire hydrant shooting up behind it could have someone believe it was a twenty-foot high magical bidet.
“It’s a meteor, man!”
A meteor this size doesn’t just land, it impacts. It embeds itself deep into the earth and sends up a million tons of dirt and debris and particles causing nuclear winters and widespread damage.
Jack knew better.
Two pats on Christopher’s back and Jack was back near the apartment door.
“You coming with me?”
“Nah, I’m gonna take a nap.”
Christopher shuffled back to the couch and collapsed.
They weren’t friends, just roommates and Jack was often frustrated with Christopher’s behavior, his inability to keep the living room and his own bedroom somewhat clean and to pay his half of the rent on time.
“Forget this”, Jack told himself as he exited. “I have no responsibility to this character.”
“Jack, what’s going on?” A neighbor inquired, he was a bulky man with a beard.
Jack noticed heads were poking out of doors and folks in pajamas were looking skyward or heading to the outside of the complex.
The neighbor continued, “We kept getting errors trying to stream Captain America: Winter Soldier, and it was seriously ruining my night. Now the power’s out? This sucks!”
“I’m leaving, Gary. Something messed up is going on and I have no interest in waiting it out.”
“Yeah?” Gary took out his smartphone. “There’s nothing on Twitter about it.”
“Just look out there, Gary…” Jack pointed toward the exit.
Gary’s eyebrow raised and he switched his phone to camera mode.
“Let’s go investigate.”
They both exited the apartment and Gary got his first glance at the meteor across the way. He started laughing as he pointed his phone toward the massive rock across the street like it was all a SyFy movie being played out.
“Half that building is gone!”
People were congregating on the sidewalks as the remaining residents of the destroyed apartment were wandering out.
"I thought it would never happen!" A man screamed. Gary tilted the camera toward the middle-aged man in a green bathrobe with Christmas trees and lights patterned on it and ten-gallon hat plopped on his head. “I mean, this is how it happens.”
“What are you talking about?” Jack asked.
“Welcome to the Alien Indian Reservation Casino: Jackpot Jack's Galactic Gambling where the tables are hot, the drinks are cold and payouts come faster than the speed of light.”
Jack could smell the whiskey on the man’s breath.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“This is the invasion. They’re here!”
Jack turned his attention back to the meteor that he knew was anything but. It could have been many things but the nut job to his left was probably right. The twinkling colors, the controlled destruction – it didn’t crash, it just landed.
“With that water shooting up it looks like some sort of bidet,” Gary commented. “Like the Bellagio fountains shooting up out of a toilet bowl. A magical bidet, if you will.”
“Ha!” The cowboy clapped his hands. “A magical bidet, I love it!”
The meteor, the magical bidet, whatever it was started vibrating again. The ground shook ferociously causing many to lose their balance.
Thirty seconds later it ceased and a spotlight from the center shot skyward.
All heads turned to the stars to see the never-ending beam.
“Is it going back up?” Gary wondered.
“Why be down when you can be up?” The cowboy responded.
Jack slowly backed away from the two. His eyes couldn’t move away from the alien…thing.
He rushed away toward his car and hauled-ass out of the gated lot. He turned away from the action and sped down the backstreet.
He didn’t know where he was going but instinctively knew better than to stay put.
Jack turned on the radio and heard the remainder of an 80’s love ballad.
“You could hardly tell by the synthesizers that what you just heard was a song dating back to 1985. Anyway, welcome to February 14th. Do you know what today is, terrestrial radio listeners?”
Jack answered, "It’s the day I walked away, is what it is."
Speeding past Jack, were a series of first responders unaware of the storm they were about to confront.
-We kept getting errors trying to stream Captain America: Winter Soldier, and it was seriously ruining my night.
-Beavers from outer space or I think she's flooded! I thought it would never happen or the day I walked away
-Alien Indian reservation casino: Jackpot Jack's Galactic Gambling, "where the tables are hot, the drinks are cold and payouts come faster than the speed of light"
-"I sit on the couch. Lights out. Only the flicker of a streetlight a few houses down illuminates the block. I look at my watch. 2:13 am. I glance out the window. Nothing yet. Seven more minutes. I am hoping he doesn't show. But strangely, there is a part of me that does. It's been three nights now. The first two, it was the knocking that woke me. Last night, it was the anticipation. Sure enough, right on the minute. Three knocks at the door. I check my watch again. 2:20am. I slowly pull the curtain back once again. There he is. Standing there. Silhouetted out in the street. Just beyond the end of the driveway. Does he know I see him?..."
-Jack had never seen a palm tree snap in two. Bend in a hurricane, sure, but never break
-The Magical Bidet
-Why be down when you can be up?