“Guys, come look at this!” Gareth peeked down into the crater, looking at the smoke dancing around whatever just created it.
“What is it?” Chelle asked before reaching Gareth and dropping her jaw. There was a meteorite resting in the middle of the crater, emitting a green light that was illuminated by the steam around it. They both stood there in silence, in awe of the sight in front of them.
“Can you two learn to wait up?” A boy appeared behind them.
“Geez, you’re the one who’s always slow,” Chelle scoffed, rolling her eyes at him.
“Sorry sis, I’m not prepared to run off into the middle of the forest towards a flash of light. What kind of idea is that anyways?” He glanced down at the meteorite, watching the air manipulate itself around the meteor as if it was trying to rush away. “We should totally check it out,” He said, contradicting his own statement. Chelle and Gareth exchanged the same ridiculed look, shaking their heads.
“Yes Seth, let us touch the space rock. Not like it’s extremely hot from travelling through the atmosphere or anything,” Gareth’s tone was dripping with sarcasm, a stoic look plastered on his face.
“Don’t be rude! I just want to get closer and make a wish.” Seth already made his way closer, sliding down the small mudslide of the crater.
“Does that stuff actually work?” Chelle followed close behind, slightly tilting her head.
“No clue.” Seth shrugged, pondering what he’d wish for. Gareth made it to where they were standing, almost bumping into them on the way down.
“So what are we wishing fo-” Gareth was cut off by a sizzling noise, stealing everyone’s attention. Chelle started to back away for a second, averting her attention to her twin brother, who continued to look at the meteorite in wonder.
All of a sudden, the meteorite exploded, and the teens were shrouded in light. The last thing any of them felt was a burning sensation spreading against their skin, and then they blacked out.
The first one to regain conscious was Seth, feeling a pulsing in his head. He rubbed his forehead with the palm of his hand as he sat up, hoping to help his headache fade. Looking around, he no longer saw the same terrain he was in before the explosion. He noticed Gareth in front of him, looking away into the distance.
“What happened?” He got up, a bit worried by the complete lack of response from his friend. Seth leaned over to face him, in shock the second he saw his face. Gareth’s eyes had turned pitch black, an eerie setting to his otherwise normal complexion. There was no sign of life in his eyes and, while he looked perfectly fine otherwise, the dark eyes seemed to be focused on everything in sight, rapidly moving.
Seth screamed at the top of his lungs, falling backwards as he tried to scramble away. In response, Gareth closed his eyes and shook his head, eventually waking up with his normal blue irises in a panicked manner.
“What? What is it?” Gareth looked at Seth with bewilderment, brushing his blond bangs out of his face.
“Your- your eyes. They were just... nevermind.” Seth took a deep breath, trying to calm himself, when suddenly he remembered they weren’t the only two here. “Where’s Chelle?”
“The better question is: where are we?” Gareth looked around. This was definitely not the area they discovered the meteorite in. The trees looked a bit familiar, and then it struck him.
“This is where we practiced archery, not too far from our tent,” Seth responded, almost reading his mind. He was looking at the tree they used, imprints from their arrows scattered across the tough bark. Gareth stood up, brushing the dirt off of his pants.
“Chelle!” Seth yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth. Gareth dragged his arm down, covering his mouth with his other hand.
“Are you insane? Sure, just scream into the forest. This is how people die in horror movies!”
“We aren’t in a horror movie and my sister is somewhere out there!” Seth shouted straight into his face.
“Just wait until morning. The sun is about to go down any second now.” Gareth observed the sky, unnerved by the idea of going deeper into the forest during the night.
“It is morning. The sun rises to the east. We’ve been passed out all night.” Seth pointed to the sky, where the sun was starting to turn the sky into a blue from its nighttime gray. He ran a hand through his hair, stressed.
“Oh.” Gareth stood there, staring at the clouds above them until his thoughts were disrupted.
“Seth!” The boys’ attention snapped to a calling from close by, easily recognized as Chelle. They both started running towards her, ignoring the pain radiating from their legs. They eventually found her leaning against a tree, looking worse than they'd ever seen her.
“Chelle, are you alright? What’s wrong?” Seth helped her regain her balance, supporting her as she tried to stand.
“I feel sick. Really sick. I need to lay down.” Chelle tried to speak through ragged breaths, attempting to stay standing.
“Gareth, help me take her to the tent,” He ordered, receiving instant help from the friend. They trudged their way through the forest, following the most recent path to their tent. When they got inside, they laid Chelle down and gave her some of the water from the cooler. Both of them did whatever they thought would help, but her condition only seemed to worsen. Much to their dismay, Chelle started to have coughing fits. Neither of them knew what to do, and even with their best efforts, it would take too long to try and contact the nearest hospital or house.
“Argh, I’m trying to think of some way to help!” Seth screamed in frustration. He was useless, couldn’t do anything to help. When he looked over at Gareth, all he received was a feared look. “What?” He snarled, realizing something was wrong the second his voice came out distorted.
“Part of you turned into… something.” Gareth tried to explain, to come up with some kind of rational reasoning, but no words came to mind. All he could do is grab the mirror out of his backpack and show it to Seth. Half of his face had morphed into a substance resembling some kind of black rock. The side of his face was covered in various spines that reflected light in every direction.
“Was this from the explosion?” Seth spoke in a tone so low he barely recognized himself. “We need to go back. We need to see if there’s any way of reversing this. My face, your eyes, Chelle’s condition, there has to be a way.”
The two of them sprinted as fast as they could, trying to find the site where the crater was formed. However, when the two of them stumbled upon where they were sure it was, there was no trace left of the meteorite except for one thing: a key. At least, that’s what it resembled. The key had spikes along the head, with the shaft consisting of intertwining metals. There seemed to be a logo across the top, curved lines struck through with another. The whole thing could have been mistaken as a weird halloween prop except for the small piece of meteorite stuck to the top.
“Do you think this could help?” Gareth asked, grabbing the key and cringing with disgust when he felt how it was covered in a some kind of slime.
“Let’s find out.” Seth stressed, already starting the way back to the tent, not wanting to waste any time. All that mattered to him was Chelle’s safety and, although his face was being taken over, that problem could be solved afterwards. They found their way back without a problem, barely wasting any time.
When they got back to the tent, Chelle was in the middle of another coughing fit. She ended up coughing up blood, but the normal red color had a tint of purple to it, looking unnaturally light.
“Seth, I don’t think… I don’t think I’m going to make it.” Her voice weak, she looked up at him. He instantly tensed up, trying to cover up his shock with a facade.
“That’s it, I’m calling the nearest hospital.” Gareth grabbed his water bottle and started to get up, thinking of the fastest way back to the nearest cabin, which would already take over twenty minutes on foot. He couldn’t let Chelle die. There was no way he ever would.
“Really? What are you going to say? Hello, my friend is coughing up light purple blood and we’re pretty sure it’s caused by a meteorite,” He mocked, a wry smile flashing across his face. “They won’t be able to help us from whatever this is. We need to take matters into our own hands. Give me the key,” Seth sneered, the spiney black texture spreading down his neck and across more of his head. Gareth stepped back out of the tent, wide-eyed from the sudden change in his character.
“It won’t do anything, what are you talking about?” Gareth kept a tighter grip on his pocket where the key lay, worried about Seth.
“Give me the key, Gareth,” He snarled, showing teeth that had become fangs. He lashed out at Gareth, who tried to escape in response.
Seth attacked Gareth and, before he realized what he was doing, Gareth fought back. He jabbed at Seth’s shoulder with his hand, the air around him contorting along with him, following his every movement. The impact made a thump, and Seth was pushed back by the force of it, blood dripping out of the newly-made wound. Seth put his hand up to the wound, pulling back with red covering it, watching as his hand slowly morphed black, making him even more of a monster.
“I don’t know how I did that. How? I- I’m sorry!” Gareth started shaking, looking at his own hand. Without a second thought, he turned and ran without questioning where he was going.
Gareth felt the key in his pocket, hyper-aware of its presence. He grabbed the key and clenched it in his fist, not knowing why he wouldn’t give it up. There was something about it that beckoned and changed him, something strong enough to bring Seth to insanity. He needed to keep it, no matter what. Eventually, his legs started to give out. Gareth stood right at the site of the crater, but the meteorite was there this time. No crater, nothing seeming out of place. The birds were still chirping in the background, and the forest was buzzing with insects. All was normal except for the meteorite. By now, strands of green and purple were spreading out of the stone, looking to consume all around it.
Gareth instinctively held out his hand, unwrapping it to reveal the key to the sky. His mind was taken over with a sense of tranquility, no memories keeping him bound. The meteorite responded, the bright strands flickering closer, wrapping around his hand. A flash of light sprouted through the trees, and the meteorite and Gareth disappeared as if they were never there in the first place.