“Maybe one day I’ll be an astronaut… maybe.”
As I sat there on my son’s bed late that night, I heard in him the kind of limitless ambition that I wish I could have held onto just a few years longer in my adult life. Tucked in his bed as tight as humanly possible, he stared unblinkingly at the glow-in-the-dark plastic stars that enveloped the ceiling above him. I tussled his hair while setting the book we had started reading on his nightstand.
“And maybe one day we’ll get through a chapter in this book!”
He shifted his head in my direction giving me a look that indicated he was about to lay down some hard facts.
“Astronauts never read, Papa. They’re too busy flying through space.”
“You don’t think they need something to do while flying through space?”
He shook his head vigorously while readjusting his gaze back towards the ceiling.
“They fly really big spaceships. If they don’t pay attention, they’ll hit an asteroid and blow up.”
I couldn’t argue with his logic so I retreated into a soft chuckle as I stood up beside his bed.
“You win this round.”
Those moments were always special for me as a father. On a normal day, Kevin would rarely speak.
Granted he was six and probably a little shy, I think a lot of it was he was too busy running around the house at full speed to stop and talk. It was as if God realized he made me too much of a conversationalist and wanted to see what the inverse would be like.
When it came to the topic of space exploration, though, everything was flipped. He could sit perfectly still and talk for hours about the various planets in our solar system and how each one was “super cool” in their own special way. If you didn’t know, Neptune only has aquatic life in the form of giant turtles, Mars has an alien species that comes to visit Earth unnoticed all the time, and Jupiter’s red spot is actually made out of spaghetti sauce. Imagination was never short in supply with him so it was always a treat just letting him ramble on about the universe and all of its secrets.
Turning off the lamp beside his bed, Kevin was immediately bathed in the sharp green hue of the stars above. Maybe it was the fact that his room was unusually dark being partially underground, but those stars illuminated his entire being with the intensity of a ton of minuscule green flashlights. It was a sight I had gotten used to seeing ever since we put the stars up a couple years back and one that didn’t bother him any; still, it slightly unsettled me.
On this particular night, I decided to spend my remaining hours awake catching up on some work. I was a recruiter at the time for an outreach program that focused on troubled teens, which on my end basically equated to a ton of paperwork and lots of phone calls. Sure, I went to school to be an astronomer, and Kevin always liked hearing what I could contribute to our space conversations, but this recruiter job allowed me to be a stay at home dad after his mom left us so I tried not to complain.
It had started to rain outside with the rumble of distant thunder gently rattling the frame of our old country house. From a single glance I could tell a pretty significant storm was heading our way, and despite the fact we lived in tornado alley, Kevin’s room provided an appropriate amount of shelter so I never spent much time panicking in the face of Mother Nature.
I was prepared to head into his room to hunker down for the storm anyway when he called out:
“Papa, a shooting star!”
Oh brother, I must’ve thought. That was probably the third shooting star he had seen in the last week alone. Kevin had always been the type to do everything in his power to stay awake a little longer than his bedtime and calling out shooting stars was his go-to move. I had never taken the bait before, but because I needed to go into his room anyway, this was the night I finally decided to acknowledge his sighting.
I opened the door and immediately began looking for a good spot to camp out for the night.
“Buddy, I’m sure it was just the lightning playing tricks on you. Try and go to sleep, okay? I need to be in here to work until the storm blows over.”
“No, not out there, in here!”
His clarification was of a lesser importance to the plug-in I had just found to charge my laptop.
“What do you mean, buddy?”
“That star over there is a shooting star!”
He was pointing at one of the bigger stars on his ceiling. It was glowing as bright as ever, but sitting completely still. I sighed and gave him that classic parenting look that said I see what you’re doing.
“Stop playing around, Kev. Go to sleep and tomorr—“
“No, really, Papa! Just watch.”
That time, I must’ve sighed at an audible level because Kevin immediately transitioned into begging mode. I put my laptop on the floor beside me and looked up at the star. As it was before, the star stayed in place casting its green glow directly below it. I kept my gaze affixed on it for what felt like minutes, though it never seemed to bu–
Something moved out of the corner of my eye.
“More shooting stars, Papa! I told you!”
In the opposite quadrant of the room, one of the other stars had begun to slowly move towards the center of the ceiling. It never changed its speed or direction; it was as if the star knew exactly where it wanted to be.
Once it reached its destination, the room returned to the stillness from before as I stared in total disbelief at the plastic universe above me.
“I… what… “
I hadn’t finished my thought before another star started sliding in its own set direction.
And then another.
And then another.
The rain continued to rhythmically fall, the thunder rumbled far off in the distance, but the stars moved in total silence.
“Oh look, Papa! The big dipper! I think that’s the big dipper!”
I couldn’t look away from the ceiling as if another star decided to move I would know why it happened. All of the hairs on the back of my neck were standing at attention, yet… fascination had also taken a hold of me.
“Sc…scoot over, Kev.”
He moved over eagerly to the far side of his bed as I climbed in beside him. I was too large to fit in the bed comfortably and too old to believe that being under the covers protected me from the outside world; nevertheless, here I was. Kevin was pointing towards one of the clusters of stars.
“Do you see the big dipper too?”
Looking back up at the ceiling, I realized I was seeing the world from Kevin’s perspective. To say the least, the green glow from the stars was intimidating; it was if they were all looking right at me to make sure I wouldn’t miss their next migration.
I averted my gaze to look more closely at what Kevin was pointing at. Normally, I took his “knowledge” of the universe with a grain of salt and instead focused on enjoying his imagination.
Only this time, he was right. It was the big dipper.
The stars hadn’t formed a look-alike of the famous constellation, it was identical: the layout, the amount of stars that comprise it, everything. I couldn’t find a way to confirm within myself that its presence was intentional, but that’s what it felt like.
Closer to us, I also noticed another formation: the little dipper. It was also identical to its real self, but also perfectly scaled to match its relation to the big dipper. They not only fit their individual criteria for look and position, but also the direction they face in regards to what season it currently was. I was looking at an accurate replica of the nighttime sky.
But what was moving the stars in place?
Suddenly I was overcome with a feeling of dread. Sweat began to form on my brow and my back as I consciously quieted my breathing despite trying to hide it all from Kevin. The green glow from above started to feel more menacing than mesmerizing.
We were being watched.
“I’ve never seen so many shooting stars at once, Papa!”
Kevin was staring in wonderment at the new arrangement above him. He was thoroughly enjoying himself.
“Hey bud… let’s go stay in my room tonight.”
“But… but the storm is com—“
“I know… I know. But we need to get—“
I had turned to pull the covers off of Kevin when my arm brushed up against a hard invisible object over top of him.
And then, for a brief moment, it was visible.
On all fours, a tall humanoid creature was straddling and looming over Kevin’s blanket-wrapped figure. Its eyes were jet black and its hairless body was covered in bright white skin highlighted only by the neon green of the stars above. Staring intently at Kevin, it let out a sharp hiss that dwarfed any of the ambient sounds from the outside storm.
Then as quickly as it appeared, it vanished from sight.
Kevin didn’t scream or say a word, but he had turned a shade of pale that almost mirrored the creature above him. I didn’t say anything at first either, but I wasted little time aggressively swatting the air over where the creature was to get it off my son.
The thing had already moved.
The last thing I wanted to do was anything other than lay there petrified with Kevin, but I knew that wasn’t an option. Cradling him in my arms, I quickly got us out of the bed and fled the room.
I had been living in that house for a few years by that point, but everything about what just happened made our surroundings feel alien. The rooms felt bigger, the hallways seemed longer, and everything that once made the house feel safe was suddenly oppressive; nevertheless, I pressed on to our storage room. I had a gun safe in there, and at the time, grabbing a gun before fleeing seemed like the best option.
Kevin still hadn’t said a word, but his mouth was open wide as if he was trying to scream. Paralysis had overtaken him.
I set him down behind me as I began to frantically fumble the combination of my gun safe at the back of the storage room. My palms were sweating all over the dial and my hand was trembling to the point that opening the safe was a much more difficult task than I anticipated. I tried several times to open it but to no avail.
I tried once more. The door still wouldn’t budge.
“Piece of shit!”
After giving the safe a final punch, I gave up and turned around to grab Kevin and flee but immediately froze.
Floating a good three feet off the ground, Kevin hung in place by the middle of his shirt. I couldn’t see the creature, but by the height and the way my son was grabbed, it was standing on its two hind feet. Kevin’s helpless body was then rushed out of the room at an inhuman speed causing his body to shake around like a rag doll. Kevin never screamed and the creature moved in complete silence.
I sprinted after it with all of the remaining strength I had within me, but only made it halfway down the hallway to the living room before running into an invisible object.
A large, white hand quickly faded into existence around my face. Before I had time to register that it was another one of those creatures, it lifted me off the ground in its grip and then threw me to the floor with incredible force.
My head took the initial impact and I was knocked unconscious.
A severe headache and some blurry vision were what I awoke to. I probably suffered a concussion, but that was the least of my worries at this point. I didn’t get very far into my panicked search for Kevin before I realized the front door was wide open. If he was screaming, I couldn’t hear it. Kevin and his kidnappers were long gone.
It’s been three years since that night. Three years since I’ve seen my son.
The weeks following the encounter, I spent searching everywhere in the nearby area with the help of the local police as well as the police of neighboring towns. I ended up losing my job and sold my home to move back in with my parents. This has at least allowed me to conduct more independent searches as well as try and find information as to what exactly those things were that took my son.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more out there than just the two that were in our house; perhaps, even a lot more.
You can’t see them or hear them unless you make physical contact. That seems to be the way they like it.
Kevin had seen “shooting stars” for months, which makes me think they were observing him that whole time. Who knows if they would have taken him had I not blown their cover?
As I sit here typing this story out for you all, I am under the light of hundreds of plastic stars. I put them up at my parent’s house on the simple hope that I see one of those stars start to freely move across the ceiling. Something about those stars fascinated them like Kevin. Their ability to correctly position the stars has been something that’s puzzled me deeply. Maybe the creatures aren’t from Earth at all.
Maybe Kevin is an astronaut now…
Credit: The Forgotten Pear