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Canola Field Comet

David Gane
David Gane
4 min read
Rapeseed field
Photo by Denes Kozma / Unsplash

☠ Readers beware: This story is from a writing project I did between May 24 to June 24, 2021. The goal was to write a new story every day. Although I'm happy with them, they are first drafts and many could use some work.

Mike was reading comic books when the sky lit up outside. He shot out of bed and the yard looked like it was midday despite being past midnight. A blazing fireball plummeted somewhere behind the trees past the granaries.

The next morning, before the rest of the house was awake, he was dressed and out the back door.

The undergrowth of the trees was a mess of fallen branches, wild thistles, and an occasional anthill, but Mike forged ahead. On the other side was his dad’s canola field that stretched like a yellow blanket of flowers as far as his eyes could see.

Nothing stood out. No swaths of any burned crop, no smoke. Nothing.

He’d need to scout the far end of the field. He grabbed his bike from the garage and raced for the road.

The sun was still low in the sky and cool, but he could tell it’d be a hot one.

When he almost reached the intersection, he saw Mr. Kentner pulling out of his driveway in his beat-up green Ford truck. He was coming towards Mike.

Mike gave it all he could and zipped towards the small bridge over the ditch. He drove below it, ditching his bike, and tucking himself out of sight.

Mr. Kentner was nice enough, but he always asked too many questions. If he suspected what Mike was up to, he might invite himself along and Mike didn’t want that.

Mr. Kentner’s truck passed over the bridge in a rumble and turned right, heading towards town, leaving a trail of dust behind. Mike waited until he was sure it was a good half-mile away before he pulled his bike back up on the road.

He travelled in the opposite direction, keeping his eyes on the field for any sign of an impact.

Maybe there’d be a giant smouldering hole like he’d seen in the movies where giant asteroids smashed into the earth. But maybe it burned upon entry and there was nothing left of it except for a few pebbles, or worse, he’d have to scour every inch of dirt after they had harvested it.

By the time he reached the next intersection, he was feeling pretty dejected. With each turn of his pedal, the discouragement grew.

He considered turning back home, but turning back after going this far seemed stupid. Besides, he could see the crossing sign where the tracks cut across the road. If he pushed himself forward, he could take a shortcut home.

At the tracks, he hopped off his bike and walked along with them.

The grasshoppers were out, sunning themselves on the warm rocks. Each time he took a step, they flew off in every direction.

He noticed the smell first. Heavy and earthy, but burnt like a campfire, and when he searched for smoke, he saw the glint of sunlight bouncing off something shiny in the field. He rushed down the embankment and pushed his way through the canola.

His excitement grew but as he stepped into a flattened clearing of the field, it quickly fizzled. He didn’t find a glittering meteorite, but a beat-up green Ford truck. However, Mr. Kentner seemed just as surprised to see Mike him.

“Why don’t you head on home, Michael? Nothing to see here.”

He was standing in front of something and Mike took a step closer.

“Now, go on. Why don’t you listen?”

Behind the Ford was a long, narrow tear-dropped shape machine—or at least he thought it was a machine. It was made of metal mesh, except for one side which was a shattered piece of translucent green glass. Hanging out of it was an arm. Not fleshy or hairy like a human, but grey and smooth like a fish.

“Oh, Michael,” said Mr. Kentner, but it was no longer Mr. Kentner, but something grey and slimy. “I really wish you had listened,” it gargled in its very fishy voice, as it raced towards him.

Writing Notes:

This was a very rushed ending because I didn’t really know what it would be. Originally, it was just the spaceship, but I wasn’t sure what happened next. The version I considered was killing Mike (which I hated) or having the ship fly away. I couldn’t simply leave him with it, since it was a freakin’ spaceship.

I brought in Mr. Kentner at the end after I realized I had introduced him earlier. But I wasn’t sure what he’d be doing? Was he an alien? Was he a friend? I did write one version where he and Mike loaded the ship up, and he mentioned aliens were flying around for ages, but it never really felt like the story was closing up.

I’m not happy with alien Kentner, but I don’t know what to do with him.

Again, this is a case of a story that got too big for the limited time I have to write it in. And to be honest, this was the second one I wrote today. There was an entirely different story in a canola field that will never see the light of day.

Fast Fiction

David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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