CRATERS OF THE MOON

A brassy koh-hoh carried over the marshland in the still air. Sitting on an army blanket in front of our tent, Linda and I watched and listened as the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge woke up around us with the coming dawn. The stars were beginning to fade as the sky lightened, but the brighter, familiar ones always visible from Detroit were still easy to see. Suddenly a flicker out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.

“Steve, did you see that?” Linda asked.

“I think so.”

“Was it a shooting star?”

“Yeah, it must have been—oh look! There’s another.”

“I see it,” Linda said, “and that one!” She exclaimed, pointing to the northeast.

“It must be a meteor shower,” I said. “We’d never see it in Detroit.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Linda said. “These are really bright!”

They were bright, and growing more numerous by the minute.

“This is strange, Snapper,” I said.

“Yeah, I think we’re really lucky to see this.”

“No, that’s not what I mean.” The shooting stars were now streaking halfway across the sky. “This isn’t an ordinary meteor shower.”

“You’re right!” Linda agreed enthusiastically. “This is better than the Fourth of July. Look at that one!” Linda excitedly pointed to the northeast. “The way it’s getting brighter it’s almost as if it’s coming towards us.”

“Umm…I think it is coming right towards us,” I said, standing up.

Linda joined me on her feet. The bright point of light grew bigger and brighter as it appeared to come closer.

“This isn’t good, Snapper.”

“What is it, Steve?”

“I think it’s going to hit.”

“What!”

“It’s not racing across the sky like the others. I think it’s going to hit the Earth.”

As we clung to each other, the meteor seemed to rush up on us, glowing brighter and brighter. The whole Centennial Valley lit up, although dawn was still some time away. It grew so bright we had to turn our heads away, so we didn’t see it as it passed almost directly overhead, but we heard the sonic boom moments later—an overpowering explosion of sound that knocked us to the ground.

“Are you alright?” I asked Linda, a few moments later as I tried to sit up. Nothing seemed to be broken, but my right leg was scratched pretty badly.

“Yeah, I think so,” she said. “What was that, Steve?”

“It had to be a meteor. I think we…wait—do you feel that?”

“Feel what?”

“I thought I felt the ground shake,” I said.

“No, I don’t…wait—oh my God!”

The ground started to tremble. Only then did I realize that the sky was filled with birds—thousands of them, all crying cacophonously. The earth started shaking violently.

“Steve!” Linda screamed.

“Just stay still! It will stop soon!” I shouted to be heard over the birds and the sound of the earth quaking.

But the earthquake didn’t stop. Rocks started flying everywhere. A flaming boulder fell from the sky maybe a hundred yards away. I looked up, and around. Firebombs were falling everywhere.

“Run to the Jeep!” I screamed. “Run to the Jeep!”

But running was almost impossible with the earth shaking so violently. I grabbed Linda’s arm and together we ran awkwardly, dodging firebombs and dead birds falling all around us. Linda screamed and raised her hands to her face as a pure-white trumpeter swan fell to the ground in front of us.

“Let’s go!” I screamed, grabbing one of her hands but she pulled it away.

“Steve!” Linda cried. “Look!”

The trumpeter awkwardly flapped one gigantic wing, its jet black beak slowly opened and closed. “It’s still alive!” Linda shouted, kneeling down besides the injured swan.

“Linda, there’s no time!” I screamed as I looked up and saw a firebomb coming straight for us.

“We can’t leave it!” Linda pleaded.

Without thinking I knelt down and scooped the swan in my arms. “C’mon, let’s go!” I screamed. I turned and started running.

“Ahhhh!” Linda screamed.

I turned around and saw Linda kneeling on the ground, covering her head with her arms, right before the firebomb hit her.
“Noooooooo!” I screamed. “Linda! No!”