I was just leaving the steak house when my cell phone rang.
I balanced a Styrofoam container of leftovers in one hand and flipped open my phone with the other.“It’s Ray,” came the breathless voice in my ear. “We’ve got an emergency at the observatory. I need you here – and fast.”I agreed to come right away. I set the container with half a baked potato and the remainder of a New York strip carefully on the seat next to me as I got in my car and revved the engine. The tires screeched as I shot out into the dwindling traffic of a sultry summer night and headed for the freeway.By the time I reached the observatory, Ray was already standing outside the door of the white, domed building.
He had a glass of iced tea in his hand, the condensation dripping onto the rough pavers of the pathway leading up the hill.I hailed Ray as I hurried along the path, the leftovers in my grasp. “Some emergency, huh? You’ve got time to enjoy a cool beverage while the world gets blown up? I brought you some food to go with it.” I inclined my head at the container in my hand.He laughed in response. “Thanks.
What took you so long, anyway?”“I was just finishing dinner, Ray. I got here as fast as I could.” A strong gust of wind blew up from the valley below and lifted the hem of my skirt.
I impatiently smoothed it down and kept my palm against my thigh as I regarded Ray in the soft moonlight filtering through the trees. “So what was the emergency?”“False alarm. Sorry,” he said, taking a long sip of his beverage.It was then I noticed the strange color of the ice cubes in his iced tea glass – a glowing, neon green. A speck of foam glittered at the corner of Ray’s mouth and I stepped back in alarm, nearly tripping over my long skirt. A strange, worm-like creature emerged from the foam on Ray’s chin and I watched in fascination it grew to enormous proportions. It squirmed and wriggled and suddenly shot forward, pinning me to the ground.The last thing I remembered was seeing Ray’s face melting away like wax and the huge pincers of the worm greedily attacking the steak and potatoes in my to-go container.