As the small group of hikers approached the summit, one of them pointed to a huge boulder at the top of the hill that seemed to be out of place. “What is that?” he asked.
“Whoa!” Andy said. “I’ve hiked this trail dozens of times and I’ve never seen that before.” At that, Andy started running toward the strange bolder. The three other hikers followed suit.
Andy stood next next to the boulder, which towered over the six-foot tall man. When the rest of the group arrived, Andy tentatively reached out and touched the boulder. He pulled his hand back quickly, letting out a little shriek. “That thing is burning hot!” He then held up his hand for the others to see the red singe marks on the tips of his fingers.
“How did it get here? Where did it come from?” Susan asked.
“Maybe it was spewed out by a volcanic eruption,” Barry said.
“There are no volcanoes anywhere near this place,” Andy responded.
“Could it be from space? Maybe it broke off from a passing asteroid or something,” Eileen speculated.
“Damn,” Andy said, staring at his smartphone. “I have no service. I was going to see if anyone had reported a sighting of something big crashing onto the hill. Any of you have cell reception?”
“Not me,” Barry said.
“Me neither,” said Susan.
“Uh uh,” replied Eileen.
“Maybe we should head back down into the valley,” Barry suggested. “We passed a park ranger station about halfway up.” Barry picked up his backpack and started to head back in the direction from which they had come, but as he got around 20 feet from the boulder, he seemed to walk into some sort of invisible force field. Sparks started flying all around his body until he fell to the ground. He didn’t move.
“Jesus Christ!” Eileen shouted, running towards Barry’s limp body.
“Don’t touch him!” Andy shouted. He and Susan walked over to where Eileen was standing. They noticed the pungent aroma of charred flesh.
Eileen was crying hysterically. “He’s dead, isn’t he?” she asked.
Andy found a small branch on the ground, picked it up, and made a move to poke Barry’s body with it. But when it came in contact, there was a crackling sound and the tip of the branch burst into flames.
Andy dropped the branch, turned around, and stared at the boulder. “Do you hear that?” he asked. “It’s like an electronic humming sound that you might hear if you’re standing beneath high-tension wires.”
“It’s coming from the boulder,” Susan said.
The three walked slowly back towards the large stone and the sound got louder. As they approached the rock, they heard a rumbling noise. Two parallel, hairline cracks about ten feet high and four feet apart appeared on the surface of the stone. A green-tinged light peeked through the cracks. More rumbling and then the hairline cracks got wider and what appeared to be a large door slid upward into the boulder, bathing the three of them in the green glow.
As if mesmerized, all three stood perfectly still. It was Andy who finally broke the silence when, pointing toward the source of the light coming from the inside of the giant boulder, he said, “What in the hell is that?”
Written for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.