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You have been summoned.

By Brandon HoyPublished 2 years ago 9 min read
Photo by Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

“I hate museums.” I understand I’m the reason we’re here, but I’m dying to express my ennui. I’m not the philosophical sorts who can analyze someone’s representation of art. The colors are pretty and the basket of fruit is well crafted, but after a few seconds I grow tiresome of searching for the hidden meaning.

“We can always leave.”

Her tone had about the same hospitality as a server working a double and seeing a table of eight with only two adults sit in their section. Yet, the sarcastic eye roll is the reason I had proposed.

That, and because if I had waited much longer she would have fled to LA and married Zac Efron.

I sighed. “You know that’s not an option.”

“Brett—” Oh, here it comes. “Promise me after this tour, you’ll forget about whatever you think you saw that night.”

“Why don’t you believe me? What benefits do I reap by continuing this charade? I literally wish I was anywhere else.” A slight thumping resonated in my forehead as my shoulders began tensing. I glanced down the opposing hallway, trying to simmer before she responded. These conversations have only been increasing the past few weeks.

“Then why are we here?”

The fierceness in her voice caused me to stare directly into her irises. I rip my buttons on my sleeve apart and yank down the fabric. With my arm before me, I put my forearm on display. Reaching the base of my palm, thick scar-like lines reach about midway to my elbow. The fleshy stripes connect in horizontal and vertical lines, similar to the circuits of a network.

“You know damn well why. A flaming, iridescent green object lit up the night like an explosion. It was as if the Northern Lights were passing our city—but everyone and their mothers seemed to have missed the phenomenon. My only proof is this amateur tattoo embroidered on my arm and now this exhibit.”

The gentle touch of her delicate fingers trace the calculated markings. “My love, these have been here for years. How could you forget the fire? It almost took you from me.” A sullen countenance softened her expression.

I allow the moment to linger before withdrawing my hand and running it through my caramel locks. My anxiety was already building, but talking about this apparent disaster makes me wish I was crawling under the covers to scream. I’ve never been in this alleged fire. I don’t understand how Sarah and my friends can recall this trauma, yet I wasn’t even present. I gingerly cover my branding, being sure to replace the top button of my cuff.

I deliberately ignore her question. “It cannot be a coincidence I saw that green light—that meteor—and now there’s one on show. I know it’s the same one I saw.” God, I hope it is. I need to rationalize why no one saw that unreal display. Evidence to prove I’m not falling prey to old age.

“For the price we paid for admission, it better be worth it. Otherwise, you’re on yard duty all next week.”

The levity in her words only solidifies I’m on my own. She agreed to join me to appease this “itch” she calls it and to bargain my way of forgetting.

I’ll never forget. The spectacle was beyond words; beautiful, majestic, and truly a wonder. Disturbing and terrifying. As if the world was ending . . . I’m lucky to be the only witness—even if I’m considered mental.

Finally, the docent came forth and corralled the lot of us. We huddled close together with other families, a group of teens, and a few loners. It figures I would be stuck with these girls; it’s the only way to make this dreadful hour worse. As long as they keep their gossiping to a low hum, I may actually retain a bit of sanity.

We follow the steps of the lady who was past her prime. Her uniform’s dirty, loose clumps of hair dangling beneath the bun, and the aroma of nicotine is strong despite her attempt of masking it with perfume. Even if her odor cover-up was successful, the scratchy voice was a dead giveaway.

I want to ditch the group of exasperating teenagers and inquisitive tourists with matching shirts, but it’s against policy. I ask when we will see the meteor and she replies “soon.” Sarah nudges me to be patient, but I’m becoming more apprehensive and fidgety. She doesn’t understand. I suppose no one does. My intuition is compelling me to reach the space debris, an inner voice droning in the background to touch it. That’s prohibited, too, but I’m more afraid of the consequences from my inner self if I refuse to listen.

There’s tightening around my wrist. I ignore the annoyance, but it’s beckoning for my attention as we mosey along. I hide behind Sarah and gradually reveal the damage, but all appears normal. I rub the area, slowly at first and then faster to get a reaction. Nothing. The restrictive feeling persists.

I cover my deformity and return to the group. Sarah has her typical surly pout. Most likely wondering what I was doing. I’ve become accustomed to her upset scowls.

“Through these final doors, we’ll reach the pinnacle. A fragment of space itself.”

Finally. I’m impatient as the flood of people filter through the narrow frame. I shift between feet to keep myself from throwing elbows and shoving past the crowd. Sarah’s at the front, securing a VIP seat for the unveiling.

I raise my hand to wave and wince. The intensity of the strangling on my limb has magnified. A burning numbness engulfing it in its entirety. Perhaps I was caught in the flaming building?

Trudging ahead, each step makes my symptoms worsen. There’s something more happening. Is it a reaction to the rock? I’m now beside Sarah, who’s as impatient as I and has even less desire to be here. Which means she believes we’ll leave in the next five minutes and put this itch behind us. Unfortunately for her, the pain in my arm is definitely the calling card for events yet to come.

Our hoary leader’s explaining the monumental significance of their findings. None of this matters to me. Her words are not soothing the throbbing. The only possible solution—

The cloth is removed and the meteor’s in full view. The chunk had jagged lines and the texture is grainier than a fresh layer of sand. Peculiar shards embed its surface. Deep within its crust, I notice channels of liquid like veins carrying a sludge. They run shallow and deep and . . . are pulsing. An emerald hue highlights their passages, glowing and fading at intermittent times.

For a moment, I forgot how to breathe. Before my eyes was undisputable evidence. My hands whacked Sarah like a child who discovered the most amazing thing.

“Sar-Sarah, see the flashing? It’s the same I had seen the night it had fallen. I-it’s the same—that’s the meteor I saw.”

She didn’t acknowledge my sentence. I was ready to repeat myself, but it was not necessary. “Brett, my love, the rock isn’t glowing.”

Her words were esoteric and I was foreign. In disbelief, I made sure we were viewing the same display. She must have seen my confusion because she said, “That asteroid or whatever is dull and black . . . Sh-should we go see an expert? I’m getting worried.”

My tongue lay flat as I process the situation. There’s not a chance this is my imagination. How is that possible? In a world with cause and effect, actions and consequences, there has to be an explanation. This space pebble is the reason my arm resembles circuits, not due to a flaming building collapsing on me. I would definitely—

My thoughts vanish as the agony reached a new level. Without a care, I tear my sleeve below my elbow and cradle it. Unbelievable. The raised marks were emanating the same color.

I met my wife’s eyes, which were filled with fear and frustration. Before she had a chance to question, the energy of the crowd shifted behind me. I turned, following their gasps, and found a boy reaching his hand past the velvet rope. Identical scars were drawn on his arm and were as verdant as mine.

A grimace twisted his face as I watched his arm tremble. People from the group pulled at his clothing, trying to keep him at bay. In the background of the commotion, a girl was sneaking through. The rope brushed across her forehead. I watched as she beheld the monstrous thing, her left eye twitching as her hand reach into her pocket. In a swift motion that I was unable to track, a miniature hammer smacked the glass and the casing shattered.

Yes! She was going to do what the policy asked us to refrain from. I intensely stared as her fingers drew closer. The pointer made contact and a blinding flare burst from its surface. I clenched my eyes, my cheek bones rising to help occlude the glare. A piercing whistle rumbled my eardrums. My palms clamped onto the side of my temples, but it wasn’t enough. With no sight or sound, I lowered to the floor and placed my head between my knees.

Almost an eternity later, the collar of my dress shirt was pulling me upward. I turned to find Sarah’s hand grabbing the fabric. Her mouth was moving, but I could hear nothing. Am I deaf? I slowly examined the audience and their attention was split between myself and the girl and boy who were also recovering.

No one else seemed affected by whatever just happened. Why me? Why us? Are we truly going insane?

The children began making their way toward a window with the sunshine flickering—dwindling. I drifted over to them. If they were noticing something, there was definitely a chance I’d be able to see it, too. And there it was, a mass of menacing clouds thickening in the sky.

This is truly the sign of the apocalypse.

“The forecast called for sunshine all week,” spoke the girl.

Another feminine voice answered. Most likely her friend. “The sun is literally on your face, Kylie.”

Suddenly, the “itch” is clawing at my head. A new, different type of pulsing. The others feel it, too, as I see them clutching their temples and wincing. I’m being summoned again. The urgency of this is more intense than when I knew I had to come to this museum.

I follow my orders and abandon my wife. I hurry down the stairwell, the humidity splashing my face. Slaps of feet echo around me. It might be Sarah—I wish it would be Sarah. But she doesn’t understand. It’s likely those kids. If my ability to communicate wasn’t hindered, I would ask them about that night.

We travel under the darkness of the storm brewing by the tips of sky scrapers. The destination was unclear, but I knew the path I was to follow. Trees quickly replace buildings and pavement turns into grass. The Grand Park was about to become the stage where this mystery finally revealed itself.

The green au borealis weaved amongst the gloomy cloud. No other bystanders seemed to notice the warning sign of the end of days overhead. My tongue was still useless as the “itch” made my entire being jittery.

I heard more pattering of feet. An additional eight heads hustled toward us, their visions glued to the demonstration. The same design lay upon their wrists—illuminating to the dance above.

“D-do you all see that, too?”

A few of them spoke, but their answers were redundant. Of course they did, that’s why we came together. Why? Why did this mystical force choose the eleven of us?

Even surrounded by strangers beneath this bizarre spectacle, this is the most sane I’ve felt in weeks.

Short Story

About the Creator

Brandon Hoy

I'm an author near Philly. I want to create a new world for readers to lose themselves in.

I love anime, video games, and most Netflix series, but I probably haven't seen the movie you're talking about.


Insta: @a_hoy_there

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