by Alex A. Kecskes
Emilio saw something.
On this exceptionally clear Peruvian night, an explosion of stars filled the sky. A meteor arced toward the horizon. Even when the earth rumbled violently, as it had so often on the desolate pampa, Emilo gave it little concern. But when a streak of blinding light shot, ruler-straight, into the stratosphere, he froze. It was unlike anything he’d seen in his 26 years maintaining the NAZCA observation tower. This was not lightening. For it continued for several minutes as the colors of the rainbow moved through it. And when the light finally disappeared, there was no sizzle or crack of thunder, no smell of ozone. He scrubbed a hand across his face, made the sign of the cross, and slowly descended the tower. Scanning the heavens, he let out a ragged breath. “Madre de Dios,” he muttered. Perhaps the rumors were true.
Jonathan McDaniels stares at the framed photo. It’s still in the study of his New York apartment. Sarah is smiling that 'I know what you're thinking' smile, her eyes blue as a cloudless sky, her hair, like honey in sunlight. Life was very good with her. Before she was diagnosed. His eyes move across the room to his life today. A box with a half-eaten pizza; beer cans stacked into a tower on the floor; an ashtray overflowing with cigarettes. He'd started smoking again. He watches a fly disappear into an air vent. Mornings like this make him want to disappear—somewhere.
He opens his laptop and plugs in a thumb drive.