's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Alternate Universe

Submitted by Lycandelphinid

Gilbert crashed through the woods, not bothering with finding a path, making a beeline for the impact site.

He had seen the meteor streaking across the sky, gawked as it grew larger, panicked as it approached even closer, then let out a sigh of relief as it sailed right above his head and plunged into the woods behind his house.

He had stood staring for almost a whole minute before his senses had come flooding back.

A meteorite! Right here, practically in his own yard!

He had hurriedly pulled on his jacket and just plunged into the woods running. He soon realized that he had forgotten his phone, but he didn't need a light anyway; the moon was almost full, and provided sufficient illumination.

He had vague ideas of claiming the meteor as his own, selling it for thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands.

Now, as he ran through the trees, he calmed down a bit, and started to realize a few things.

One, he had no idea how big the thing was. He might not be able to carry it back.

Two, he had no idea whether the government had any claim over things that had fallen from space. If he carted it away, they might try to confiscate it from him, maybe even arrest him.

Three, it might be burning hot. He might not be able to touch or even approach it.

Sobered by these thoughts, he slowed to a light trot, then a brisk walk.

He probably had a good head start. It was past midnight, and although there was a loud boom, it was pretty far from town, and in all likelihood, people would think it was a tire exploding, or even thunder. Dark clouds had been gathering at the horizon for the past few days, and thunderstorms at night were not unheard of.

He saw broken and fallen trees ahead, smoke or steam billowing from the ground. A strong scent of burning. And... ammonia?

He approached cautiously.

If it was too big, then that's that, and he'd have to turn back empty-handed.

But if it was small enough, he was going to carry it back, wrapped up in his jacket if it was too hot, and hide it before he authorities came. Maybe bury it in the floor of his basement, lie low for a while until it was safe.

He finally laid eyes on it. It lay at the end of an elongated crater.

To his utter dismay, it was indeed too big.

It was roughly spherical, and came up to about his waist

Dejected, he approached for a closer look. Maybe a piece had broken off that he could take?

It looked nothing like the common depiction of meteors, a rock with craters and marks.

In fact, it was shaped vaguely like a squat pear or fig, and the surface was shiny brown, and looked almost crusty, like a flaky pie crust.

The stench was even worse up close.; an eye-watering ammonia stink of rotten fish and a salty, marine undertone.

He felt the heat radiating from the meteorite. It wasn't too bad, toasty like a fireplace, but he knew better than to touch.

Suddenly, there was a loud piercing whistle, then a hiss as steam shot out of the object.

He stumbled backwards, startled.

A split had opened up in the meteorite. The slit slowly widened, revealing something pale, glistening and cream-colored within.

The meteorite opened up, two halves sagging apart. The pale stuff spilled outwards.

The stench increased tenfold. As he gagged, he realized the pale stuff wasn't fluid, but something more solid, like soggy flesh. He noticed there were various peach-colored, gray and brown parts that slid out as well.

What was this thing?

As the fleshstuff oozed out and settled around the thing in its crater, another object spilled out.

Something bright white, gleaming in the moonlight, so shiny it was almost iridescent.

It looked like a misshapen blob and was much smaller than the meteorite, maybe just up to his knees.

It looked firm and solid, and held its shape as the flesh slid off.

He approached hopefully. Now this was something he could carry. The core? It looked valuable, at any rate.

He hoped it wasn't heavy. He stretched out a hand, trying to gauge its temperature without actually touching it or the soft ooze around it.

It moved.

He jerked back with a shriek. Too late, he had realized the possible implications.

In his panic he tripped and fell.

The white object stretched upwards and elongated, grew taller. It shed whatever flesh that still clung to it.

He stared transfixed as tried to get to his feet, but he legs didn't seem to work properly.

It was now as tall as he was, maybe even taller.

Its base split into two. Two side branches emerged from each side.

All these changes were accompanied by a chalky, crumbling sound.

The shape's apex started to swell. To his horror he realized it was forming a humanoid shape.

The head elongated forward into a beak-like shape while two ovals formed, one on each side. Joints appeared in the arms and legs. A torso of sorts was delineated.

The tips of the arms formed long, pale fingers.

The being still retained the beautiful white luster of its previous form. It gleamed like a polished porcelain doll.

It took a step forward, then another.

It approached him. It looked down at him.

The beak, he realized, was a pointed nose. There was a thin slit of a mouth beneath it.

It spoke, in English and in a surprisingly pleasant voice:

"Where is Rose Quartz?"