Shooting Star

Midnight. A shooting star falls across the sky. Moments later, a distant crash is heard. A soft glow is seen on the horizon before slowly fading. There is no one around to see the light disappear.

It's 3am, and Arick is seen walking home alone. He's coming home from a party he hardly remembers, needing to walk due to the alcohol. He passes by an Eleventy-Seven, and notices it's empty.

I guess a quick snack couldn't hurt.

He walks in. The door tone rings, and the cashier slightly shifts his gaze towards Arick before quickly returning it to his phone. Arick frequents this store after his late night escapades, so he recognizes the cashier. He also knows where his favorite snack aisle is, and walks straight to it.

Before he can get to the aisle, he notices something a bit off. He sees a pair of antennae barely sticking up from the aisle. He thought the store was empty, but apparently there was someone else here. When he reaches the aisle, he sees what looks like a child squinting at the snacks. She seems confused and has likely been staring at the same snack bag for a while.

Wait, what's a kid doing here? It's way too late out, and where are the parents? He scans the store, but there's no sign of anyone else except the cashier. Confused, Arick walks up to the front desk to ask the cashier about the random kid.

"I dunno", he says, not looking up from his phone, "She's been here for hours just staring at the snacks. Try getting her to leave, would you?"

Arick didn't really feel like helping, but he remembered that this cashier had covered for him before, and he owed him a favor or two.

"Uh, yeah sure." He wasn't sure what he was going to try, but he was going to try something. He returns to the aisle and walks up to the kid. She looks up at him.

"Hey kid, if you want something, I'd try these," he points to a bag of sour gummy worms. "They're my favorite. But you might not be able to handle 'em, so maybe try the plain ones instead." He then points to a bag of normal gummy worms.

She smiles, and eagerly takes the second bag before scurrying to a different aisle. I guess she's satisfied now. Arick doesn't think too much longer about it and picks up some sour gummy worms for himself.

He heads for the counter and the kid is nowhere to be seen. He puts his bag on the counter and the cashier starts to ring him up. "You paying for that too?" He asks.

Confused, Arick looks down at the counter to see the kid suddenly next to him and slowly sliding the bag of candy onto the counter that she can barely reach. When did she get here? Does she not have her own money? Where are her parents!?

"Sorry, one sec" He crouches down to her level. "Hey, do you have money?" He shows her a dollar, but she just tilts her head in confusion. "Where are your parents?" She still seems confused. I don't think she understands me. I guess I have a bit of extra cash on me. But no more random stranger favors for the rest of the year.

He sighs and gets back up. "Yeah, this too." The cashier adds it up. "Your total is $4.89." Arick hands him the cash then takes his bag of candy. He hands the other bag of candy to the kid. They both walk out of the store.

The child stares at Arick, and he awkwardly stares back. "Well, you should go find your parents, they're probably around here somewhere. I gotta get going. Take care." He hesitantly turns around and starts to walk away. She watches him disappear into the night.

As he's walking home, Arick notices subtle rustling around him. He looks around, but nobody is there. Ugh, I'm really not in the mood to be mugged. He continues, walking slightly faster.

A few minutes pass. Again, he hears rustling, this time followed by quiet footsteps. He quickly turns around, brandishing his trusty (yet extremely dull) pocket knife.

"Hey, I don't want any trouble. I'm just trying to get home."

He looks around, and again it seems nobody is around. Until he spots a pair of softly glowing lights peeking up from behind a street bench. Are those eyes? No- He looks closer. Antennae?

"Oh, it's you." Arick says, hiding his pocket knife. "Hey kid, are you following me?"

She peeks her head out from her hiding spot, the ends of her antennas glowing brighter. She says nothing and just stares at Arick.

"You should really find your parents. It's not safe out here, especially this late at night."

She walks out from behind the bench, still holding her now opened bag of gummy worms. She then approaches him.

"Hey, woah. You can't come home with me. I don't want to go to jail for kidnapping or something. Plus I wouldn't even be able to take care of you. Do you know where your home is?"

Her antennae glow brighter at his question, and she excitedly points to the sky.

Huh? She's from space or something? Man, what did they give me at that party?

"Uh, that's a bit too far for me to help. Sorry, kid, but I have to get home. I hope you can find your family soon." He slowly starts walking away.