It was another beautiful night. The stars looked almost close enough to touch. Ralph Wade smiled as he gazed upward from his back porch. He wondered if there was a merit badge for astronomy. His Scoutmaster had noticed his potential leadership qualities and had begun to assign more duties to him. Ralph gazed upward at the sky and thought about that. But his thoughts were interrupted by a shooting star that was very close and very bright. Funny, he thought to himself, it went out right over the ridge behind his house.
What Ralph didn’t know was that the shooting star had just turned off the light it used to misdirect the attention of anyone watching. The craft then abruptly changed direction for a few seconds and landed. Ralph’s dog, Fafnir, howled and took off running toward the ridge. Ralph shouted out his name to call him back but to no avail. He got a flashlight and went after him. He ran toward the ridge where Fafnir had disappeared.
The ridge was a large hill covered with grasses and a few bushes here and there. Ralph walked quickly toward the sound of the baying hound. The dog had approached a dimly lit object lying openly on the ground just up ahead. He was strangely quiet but the hair on the back of his neck stood straight up. As he sniffed the object, Ralph approached it too. A small portal opened and what appeared to be insects buzzed out and stung the dog seven or eight times. Ralph shone the light on the object and that seemed to anger the insects. They stung him four times before they re-entered their craft. The object lifted into the air and disappeared like a shooting star in reverse, leaving a blazing trail in the sky. He didn’t know what to think.
Ralph examined the dog by the light of the flashlight. Fafnir was starting to swell up. Ralph had no problem convincing him to return home. His own stings were beginning to hurt too. When he got to the house he went to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and swabbed the stings with antiseptic. He brought the bottle with him to put some on his dog’s stings too, but Fafnir couldn’t be found. After searching for him for a while, he decided that, since it was very late, he’d look for him in the morning. He went to bed worried about the dog.
He woke up early to find that both his parents had gone to work. His Mom had made breakfast for him and left a note saying that it was in the oven. Ralph wasn’t hungry. The stings had stopped hurting last night but were causing some kind of change in him. They were causing bruises of different colors to appear on his chest and face. He shrugged it off and went to look for his dog.
Ralph found what he thought was his dog when he stepped out of the back porch. But the thing he was looking at was unlike anything he’d seen before. It was a wet-looking leathery pod-shaped object about the size of his dog. It wriggled a little when he touched the side of it. There were murmurs of muted sound that stopped when he took his hand away. He stood and looked with disbelief at the thing that was his dog in the pod. As he watched, a hole appeared as the thing chewed a hole in the pod. After several minutes, the wet-looking creature crawled out of the pod and lay still in front of the boy. Ralph could see that it was his dog, Fafnir, but it had changed dramatically overnight. It’s skull had elongated and had a hump in the back of it. Fafnir now had wings that sprang from his elongated front legs, and his tail now had a flat patch of hide at the end. He looked almost like a prehistoric Pteradactyl. As the ex-dog stood up and waddled over to Ralph, he nuzzled him with a long snout filled with sharp teeth. Ralph couldn’t turn away from his own dog, so he petted him on the head and told him to lie down for awhile. The dog complied as Ralph went back inside to think about what had happened.
Ralph’s mind was clouded with many conflicting thoughts as his blood chemistry changed. He found himself getting very sleepy but wouldn’t sleep until he got to his room. He went in and instead of going to the bed, he moved to an empty corner of his room. Only dimly aware of what he was doing, he began to exude a chemical compound through his skin that hardened after a few minutes into a pod-shaped cocoon.
Almost everyone enjoys looking at the stars.