FULL STORY | "The Colliding Worlds of Meghan Lake" by Chinyere Onyekwere

Illustrations by Tyler Berd; Read More in  Planet Scumm Issue #3

Illustrations by Tyler Berd; Read More in Planet Scumm Issue #3

Somewhere in rural America, mother and child enjoyed great outdoor scenery–ravishing rolling grasslands nestling a sparkling clean river. Mother laid down her giggling infant, wandered off barefoot to explore the soothing caresses of the river’s cool waters, blissfully unaware of unfamiliar things lurking behind her, inexorably honing in on her child.

Unworldly hands, with deft mysterious swipes, implanted a queer tracking device in the child’s elbow, activating hieroglyphic-like data inscriptions to glow intermittently within the flesh.

The infant metamorphosed into 6-year-old, merry Meghan Lake, an adorable compassionate soul whose love of nature found her sneaking out of her quaint little cottage on balmy nights to gaze upon the sheer expanse of inky black skies with joyful abandon‚ mad for the heavenly bodies that glowed like twinkling diamonds set in black velvety folds.

During a nighttime escapade that profoundly astounded Meghan, a star cluster, without warning, shot across the firmament before coalescing in dazzlingly mystifying formations, including slow-rotating, gigantic elliptical-shaped hoops.

She stood transfixed, mesmerized by amazing sights before her. Adrenaline kicked in, pumped, sent her hurtling back inside the cottage, yelling to her mother the magical things seen‚ but she was scolded, silenced for telling tall silly tales. 

“I saw something wonderful!” screamed Meghan, running to her daddy, with girlish giddiness.

“You always do honey,” slurred her father with a lopsided grin that tugged at her heartstrings.

Debilitating bouts of stroke bound Meghan’s father to a wheelchair, bonded father and daughter in a history of deep love-trust dynamics.

But the irritating, fertile imagination of the child’s has no place in the world of harsh realities, the world of Meghan’s long-suffering mother.

Retreating to her room in a state of heightened alert, Meghan instinctively knew something momentous was about to go down, the nature of which her young mind could not begin to comprehend.

She fought gallantly to keep awake, but sleep, with the stealth of a night thief, plunged her into the abyss of nothingness.

Her eyes snapped open to an aberration of sights‚ blue, not black skies, above a roofless room. Time stood still in deafening silence as life-sized sparkling orbs cascaded down from impossible heights above, into Meghan’s seemingly expanded quarters.

When a weird-looking, resplendently robed androgynous humanoid being emerged from the floating sphere closest to Meghan, charged air particles from its aura stood her ponytails on end.

Employing an advanced form of telepathy, the being conveyed a message, synchronizing unfathomable language and thought patterns in English, directly to her mind.

Earth-shattering revelations terrified the 6-year-old, sending her careening into Daddy’s cold lifeless body whose sightless eyes would never reward her with warm tender smiles‚ ever.

Meghan’s world, ripped asunder, hurled her into horrific depths of unspeakable anguish, the interminable kind relentlessly haunting the now 34-year-old woman who excelled to become a forerunner in Bonhamm‚ America’s trailblazing biotech conglomerate in the Big Apple. Time and trauma buried otherworldly childhood encounters deep beneath recesses of her bruised and broken mind, as if nothing of the sort ever transpired.

Magnificent Meghan is a workaholic, devoted to reducing reliance on petrochemicals, a loner who shuns relationships, commitments, distractions. It seems no one can hold a candle to Daddy, except (probably) Pete Bonhamm, Meghan’s sweet, devoted colleague and confidant.

Fate came calling on a chilly Autumn afternoon when puzzling circumstances railroad Meghan to open a lone door in Bonhamm’s subterranean level, a labyrinth of unnerving, dark, dank corridors crisscrossing its terrain.

Bizarre sights electrified. She opens up an inter-dimensional portal to another realm.

An array of striking towers, spires, and architectural masterpieces left her spellbound. The grandiose, pristine, vertical city stretched high and wide as far as the eyes can see. Spherical crafts hovered, whizzing with lightning speed across strange,  pastoral landscapes of lush foliage mysteriously parting for Meghan as if receiving aristocracy.

A being, vaguely familiar, alit from a hovering craft, approaching Meghan who cowered in great fear despite the soothing power its spiritual aura exudes. It held a book in its hands.

“Who are you?” she asked with trepidation.

“Your mind buried something the soul longs to unearth,” came the ambiguous, riddled response in her head.

With an urgency bordering on desperation, the entity revealed to Meghan it belonged to the highest echelons of a technologically advanced, spiritually evolved race of lightspeed travel masters emanating from Xanix constellation, a star system of great distances, incomprehensible to the human mind.

A cosmic maelstrom upheaved their galaxy, causing them to extract and transport their cities to alternative home worlds. A gargantuan interstellar citycraft in their exploratory fleet inexplicably malfunctioned in deep space and drifted off course, on track for a cataclysmic collision with planet Earth. Fleet-to-fleet transfers had been employed for the mothership’s passengers.

Repulsed by man’s obsession with war, his extermination of the species in a quest for world domination, the travel masters had to contact an untainted earthling, a kindred soul (who, for reasons unknown, had yet to give the world’s inhabitants this crucial message). Life hung in the balance! Time was of the essence! Apparently it ran different speeds in different parts of space‚ a truly baffling contradiction that had seen Meghan become a full-fledged being in a short durations for their world.

Relativity could see her age suddenly, ravaged with senility, unable to remember her name, let alone the impending calamity about to befall the human race.

Handing her a book, the being enlightened Meghan in grave, hushed tones. A precious tool for jogging her memory, actualizing her grand calling.

Words of protest failed her as the being bowed reverently, took its leave.

The haunting cityscape receded into a cloudy vortex of nothingness, leaving Meghan to gaze in rapturous wonder, shocked at having been enclosed in a super-colossal alien craft moments earlier.

She glanced down in thunderstruck consternation at the book’s cover: The Colliding Worlds, by Meghan Lake. The back cover advertised chronicles of childhood alien encounters and an odyssey with an ill-fated mothership, and bore an image of an older version of herself.

It plunged her into a mental meltdown of confusion, denial and despair. She rebelled and tossed the hardcover into a roadside dumpster without a backward glance.

But fate is determined to find a way.

Meghan soon cracked, confided in Pete who in turn consulted his pal Brian, a top-notch research expert for SETI, a renowned agency for the search of extraterrestrial intelligence.

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Fate saved the day when Brian teamed up with Meghan to retrieve the book from the hands of a homeless man about to burn it for warmth.

The stories within unleashed past memories embedded deep within dark crevices of Meghan’s subconscious. They came back in fragments of intuitive flashes, reminding her of the free-falling mothership still on its now 34-year journey, hurtling towards an unsuspecting world. She even read of their run-in with the homeless man, their timely prevention of the book’s demise.

“Oftentimes, people meet their destiny on the road they take to avoid it,” Brian tells Meghan. They both revisit the destitute with blankets and home-cooked food.

The U.S. government’s slow-churning machinery went into overdrive when Brian called on NASA’s chief astronomer, setting off an explosive chain reaction galvanizing top military brass into high alert.

Then hell broke loose.

The burden of knowing the future threatened to unhinge Meghan, to drive her to the precipice of madness.

“This really can’t be happening,” she lamented.

But it was.

Meghan’s conundrum thrust her on a treacherous collision course with Pentagon’s Air Force General Mathews (a.k.a. Warhead), Chairman Chief of Staff‚ a no-nonsense military genius whose intolerance for unexplained phenomena undid the careers of any uniformed men who dared entertain conspiracies of UFO sightings and alien abductions.

The general thrived on current blistering hot spots, exploits in Syria, North Korea, Iraq and other migraine-inducing mayhem plaguing the planet.

Meghan’s falling-ship fable raised red flags in military circles and the blood pressure of General Mathews, who deemed the unfortunate debacle a lunatic’s ridiculous prank gone far enough.

His withering put-downs, intense grilling, and accusations of masterminding a “fabricated hoax” pushed the boundaries of Meghan’s forbearance. The general intended to shut her down, go ballistic on these fallacies threatening his superb military apparatus. Heaven forbid the US army be turned on its head on his watch!

Meghan paused, dug deep into the core of her being for the power to knock the fire-spitting, sardonic General down a few pegs.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” she asked.

Brian and the military personnel in the room cringed at the effrontery.

“I know who I am,” responded the general, glancing at her psychiatric records dossier. “Just wondering what I’m dealing with.”

That sent Meghan storming from the room, only to be stopped dead in her tracks when he barked, “I’m not finished yet!”

The U.S.-led coalition of NASA, world space research facilities, defense systems, astronomers, and astrophysicists pointed a super-solar gravitational lens telescope to the heavens, to spot the sharp image of a free-falling spherical object whose sheer size was stupendous. It was expected (by NASA calculations) to reach Earth’s stratosphere within eight months.

The world erupted in chaos when wind of the impending disaster spawned venomous, highfalutin conspiracies from a cacophony of voices. Meghan‚ this freaking hybrid species amid humanity‚ how come she knows things the world does not? Skirmishes with an obnoxious, hysterical media exacerbated her torment.

The leaders of the free world, bedeviled by a destroy-deflect dilemma, turned their weary eyes toward their brand new toy, and best kept secret‚ Typhon, an advanced weaponized space system aptly code-named after Greek mythology’s most terrifying monster.

But Typhon was in its testing stages, giving the military nada chance to troubleshoot its capabilities. Nightmarish visions of a space misadventure virtually ruptured General Mathews’ spleen.

The ignoble intentions of military horrified Meghan, inflamed her to become a terrifyingly strong-willed one-woman resistance, forcing military brass to exercise restraint, to extend hands of goodwill rather than commit barbaric acts of destruction against the highly spiritual race.

Like a doomed man in the path of a tsunami, General Mathews capitulated when she astounds him with knowledge of Typhon’s existence‚ divulged (according to Meghan’s book) by Ben Brooks, who would become America’s most hounded whistleblower.

Armed with privileged insights of the sophisticated behemoth of scientific wizardry suspended in outer space, Meghan coerced the military to use Typhon’s unique cutting-edge mechanisms to stall the free-falling ship for a soft landing on U.S. soil.

“They’ll be back for the ship one day.”

As the mothership approached Earth’s orbit eight months later, the scientific and military communities sprung into action, with the world as we know it degenerating into madness.

World politics went into a tailspin and international alignments fractured, with U.S. allies siding with her ship-engagement decisions, while sworn enemies conspired to blast the monstrosity to smithereens out of space.