Part One: Gary Pidcock remembered the day, the hour, the moment it had all began. He had stood up in the bar, walked over to the bathroom, found the door locked, and while he was waiting he watched one of the widescreens on the wall. The sports channels had reached a saturation point, Gary remembered that thought coming to him, because they were showing a woman who was six months pregnant doing tricks on water skis. She was the granddaughter of some woman who had done tricks on water skis in some park in Florida and her mother had done the same thing. Martha Minnow was her name, the same name her mother and grandmother had used, and Gary wondered what it was like to be born into something like that. Somewhere in the back of his mind the idea that his father’s name had been Gary wandered around, but Gary was high. He had just been promoted to General Sales Manager for the entire city of San Francisco. His salary had doubled overnight. He could pay off his car this year and Martha Minnow exploded. Gary didn’t flinch because he thought it was part of the show. There was a bright flash of light then there was a column of thick black smoke rising out of the water. The announcers clearly thought it was also part of the show and it wasn’t until the rescue boats started heading towards the smoke everyone realized that something had gone horribly wrong. Gary watched as the tow boat circled around, passed through the smoke, and one of the men in the boat fell overboard. The scene changed to some man in a suit talking about the upcoming baseball season and Gary went back to the party. In the back of his mind, Gary wondered what in the hell had happened to that woman.
The next day everyone in the office was talking about it. Gary was super hungover and happy no one wanted to talk about work but he wanted to make a good impression his first day. He shooed everyone out of the office and onto their routes. He spent the next thirty minutes looking at the news on his cellphone. Ten people had died after getting too close to the black smoke and the fire hadn’t gone out yet. It kept billowing and billowing out of the water with no visible source. Underwater, it seemed if the source of the fire was floating, just below the surface but there was nothing there, but fire and smoke. The sandy bottom of the lake around the explosion was littered with iridescent scales. Gary wondered what it meant. The woman from District was coming by later to help him hire a new assistant and Gary wondered how young and how cute he could get away with.
The next day there was a press conference and the president announced that there were three more of the explosions, one of them in the middle of the Pacific, one of them in Mexico City, and one of them had hit the moon. Hundreds of people in Mexico City were dead, hundreds of thousands more were panicking and fleeing. But no one knew what the explosions were or why they were where they were. A satellite had captured the smoke on the moon, where fire was supposed to be impossible. It rose in a solid column, straight up, and then curved away as gravity spun it. The smoke in Florida had not slowed down a bit.
A week went by with more of the explosions happening each day. There were three each day, with no set time or reason, and none of the fires seemed to feel like slowing down or going out. One of them set off in the White House lawn and that caused the military to be called out. Gary was watching his world crumble. No one was buying anything but survival stuff. He had an odd feeling that whatever was happening, however, was a lot worse than losing his job.
On the eight day there were no new explosions, even if the fires still burned. The first one, the one in Florida, had been attacked with every substance and device known to mankind and still burned darkly in the water. The body count in Mexico was mounting. A revolution was starting in Brazil where one of the explosions had landed in the middle of a slum, and the poor blamed the government. The White House was abandoned, not that it made that big of a difference.
On the tenth day there were no new explosions. Everything seemed normal again. The eleventh day arrived and Gary was standing in the street when they began. There was no smoke, no fire, no poisonous gases to try to escape, oh no, nothing like that. Gary was watching as a car exploded, he dropped his latte, and a creature emerged from the wreckage of the car. It was the shape of a horse, four legged and the head looked like a horse head, sort of, but it was twice was big. The body was covered in iridescent scales, each of them beautiful and multicolored but silvery at the same time. Gary couldn’t move. The creature charged out of the explosion and ran on legs that bent the wrong way, the knees were backwards from a horse’s legs, and they ended in points, like silver spikes. Gary was standing twenty feet from the creature when it grabbed a man that was just standing there staring. The creature’s head was much larger than the head of any horse and its mouth was filled with teeth, long, needle-like, silver teeth. The creature tore the man’s head off with one bite, reared up on its hind legs and screamed, Gary thought, with delight.
Gary ran like hell.
end part one.