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The Star

"I'm tired," Suzie Allstrey whined from the backseat. "Are we their yet?" Her parents gritted their teeth and prayed a motel would turn up soon in the sheets of rain ahead. They wondered if they should cancel the annual family trip, camping in the upper peninsula. It got increasingly strenuous every passing year.

Billy, Suzie's eight year old brother, teasingly nudged Suzie's leg with his own. "Moooom!" she complained.

Their mother spun around in her seat, hair a mess and makeup awry. "That's it! Another word and we're turning this car around!"

"YAY!" the children cheered as the rain relentless drummed on the windshield.

When they finally arrived at the next Super 8, night had already fallen. No stars hung in the sky, for thunderclouds blocked any celestial bodies. They roiled like hungry sharks in the sky.

Billy laid in the bed, the snores of his family filling his ears. He couldn't drift off to sleep. Frankly, the bed's mothball and cabbage smell was too nauseating for him to handle. He got up and silently walked over to the window. Lightning lit up the world with unbelievable brevity and left white after-images dancing in his eyes.

Billy kept his eyed at the road and town outside. For some reason, he couldn't pull away. It was as if vines held him immobile. Could he be dreaming?

The lightning ebbed from its frantic fervor, subsided, and he didn't see any for a minute, two, three, until it stopped altogether. The black, opaque clouds opened up, revealing a small, bright star. Relieved that the storm was finally over, Billy turned to go back to bed. However, he stopped mid-step and turned back. The intensity of the star seemed to grow. And grow.

In mere moments, the "star" was filling up the entire sky, growing exponentially. Billy's relief had long ago changed into panic. This was no star.

He sprung back into bed and yanked the covers over his head, trembling like a leaf. The star produced a roaring sound, not unlike a freight train heading straight towards the motel like it was perched on the railroad tracks, trapped between the gates.

The explosion that ensued could only be described as catastrophic.

"BUT MOM!" Billy shrieked, pulling on his mother's arm as they trudged through inches of filth to the check-out counter."The world blew up! A falling-star crashed and blew it up!"

"Billy, for the love of God, shut up," his mother said wearily. "It was just a bad dream. Now let's get going." Tears poured down the little boy's face as he obediantly followed his family.

They passed no one in the hallway.

"Hmmm..." his father mused after ringing the bell a dozen times. "I guess I'll just leave the key here." He dug in his pocket, pulled out the key, set it down, and smiled at the family, rubbing his unshaven face. "Alrighty! Let's go!" The Allstrey family trooped out.

All there was left outside the motel doors was a barren wasteland.

"I TOLD YOU!!" Billy wailed as he pointed to the desolate world. The motel was the only building left standing among smoke, ashes, and the grey watery light.



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