The fog on this clear spring night was thickening. A wet mist covered the ground. The only light was provided by street lamps and that light was swallowed up in the fog.
Joe Smith walking down the road alongside the cemetery. He held his hat on his head with one hand while the other hand held a cane. He felt the damp wind against his leathery face. He did not see the transparent gel fall to the ground 25 feet ahead of him. The only reason he noticed it later was because it sparkled for an instant in the mist. He became curious. The gel was in the grass against the cemetery fence. At first he thought the sparkle was due to the mist. But then he realized that the sparkling was not random. In fact, as he observed it, he realized that the sparkling was actually short and long periods of illumination. The short periods were about a half second and the long periods were one second. It was deliberate.
He approached it and bent over, looking at it. It was a round gel. Perhaps it was some new device. He picked up a leaf and touched it with the leaf. It flexed. Then he threw the leaf on the ground and reached for it with his hand. He stopped when his hand was a few inches from the gel. The gel was growing. It appeared to be emerging from the soil. He tried to back up, but his foot was stuck. He looked down at his foot and realized it was buried in gel. The gel had quickly spread covering both feet. It was rising.
He grabbed the fence and tried to pull himself over the fence. He figured it would provide leverage to get his feet out of the gel. But it didn’t work. The gel grew rapidly and soon covered him up to his waist. He began yelling for help. The gel was up to his shoulders. It was covering his neck. He was helpless. The gel tightened around his neck and covered his head.
After a few moments, the gel shrunk down to it’s original size. It laid on the ground and then appeared to be absorbed by the dirt.
The night passed and the morning sun burned away the mist as the fog slowly cleared out. Beyond the fence was grass and grave stones. At seven in the morning, a car pulled up to the cemetery entrance. Jerry Holmes got out of the car and removed the chain that blocked the entrance. He got back into his car and drove up to the mausoleum where he parked. At nine o’clock, a funeral procession pulled into the cemetery. All the mourners were quiet as they exited their cars and headed for the grave site. Nobody noticed the small gel on the ground beside one grave stone. That is, no one except the caretaker who had opened the cemetery earlier. He noticed it because he had never see that particular grave stone before. However he did pay attention to the gel. It receded into the dirt.
The caretaker was baffled. That grave stone was not there when he left the night before. Then the gel appeared all around him. His feet were stuck in the gel.
Across the street from the cemetery entrance was a small one family two story house. On the second floor two boys, Jim and Jerry had been playing games. From their bedroom window, they could see the whole cemetery.
“Boys, I’m going to the supermarket.” Their mom yelled from downstairs. “I’ll be back in a half hour.”
“Okay.” Both boys said.
Jim had glanced out the window at just the right moment. “Whoa! Did you see that?” Jim approached the window.
Their mom was in her car backing out of the driveway.
“See what?” asked Jerry.
“A man just disappeared!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. It was strange.”
“How do you mean?”
“Something rose up in front of him and then he was gone.”
“Do you know who it was?”
They continued playing their games for 15 minutes.
“It happened again!” said Jim.
“You’re imagining things!”
“No I’m not.” Jim approached the window again. “Something strange is going on out there.”
“You’re strange.” Jerry watched the mourners leaving the grave site and returning to their cars.
Jim came back to resume the game. After a short time, Jim said, “I’m going to ask the caretaker. Maybe he knows what’s going on.”
“I’ll come with you.” said Jerry.
They ran downstairs and out the front door. They crossed the street and entered the cemetery. They knew the caretaker well. He would often stop and talk to them about baseball. They know he would be in his little office when he wasn’t taking care of the grounds. They walked to the far side of the small cemetery and knocked on his door. No answer.
“What’s that?” asked Jerry pointing to the ground a distance away.
Jim looked at the ground. “I don’t know.” He walked closer and glanced at it.
Jerry came over and looked at it. “What the heck!”
Jim and Jerry backed away.
The gel disappeared into the grass.
“This place gives me the creeps. Let’s get out of here!” said Jerry.
They started walking back toward their house. Jim pointed to the new grave stone. “That’s where the first man disappeared.”
“I’m going home.” said Jerry.
“What should we do?”
“What can we do? No one will believe us.”
Their mom, Mrs Stevens, was at the grocery store a few blocks away. She was in the cereal isle when she heard loud gun shots. She looked down the isle to see the cashier fall to the ground. She ran to the back of the store and into the stock room. She hid behind the pallet of soda and listened for foot steps. She heard the robber opening the cash register. She stayed there, afraid to move and prayed fervently as she saw the shadow of a man in the stock room doorway. She held her breath as the robber, Sam, peered into the stockroom. Mrs Stevens held her breath.
“I know you are in here.” Said Sam, “Come out with your hands up.”
Mrs. Stevens did not move.
Sam slowly entered the stock room. The first row of pallets contained canned goods. He slowly and cautiously walked the length of the length of the first row of pallets, looking between the pallets when ever he could. Then he proceeded to the second row of pallets. This row contained boxed goods. As he peered between the pallets in the second row, he saw the pallets of soda. He walked the length of the second row and then slowly approached the pallets of canned soda.
She was behind one of the pallets. She was shaking. She looked around for a way to escape. The truck dock doors had pad locks. There were no other doors. Then she saw the gun pointed at her. She closed her eyes and pleaded with him not to kill her. She waited, expecting death at any moment. She was too scared to open her eyes.
It seemed like forever. She heard sirens. Then she heard a loud gun shot and felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder. She opened her eyes and saw Sam struggling to free himself from the gel that had covered him up to his shoulders. His arms were up above the gel. He had the gun pointed at her, As the gel tightened around his throat, he dropped the gun. The gun fired when it hit the cement floor. His hands dug into the gel around his throat, but his efforts were worthless.
The police and the ambulance crew entered the store. The ambulance crew tended to the cashier while the police cautiously went down the isles. Finally they reached the stock room. Like Sam, they cautiously searched each isle of pallets until they came to the pallets of canned soda. They saw Sam standing there with his arms up in the air. The gel was gone. The cops grabbed Sam’s arms and read him his rights while putting the hand cuffs on.
Mrs. Stevens told the police about the gel. They said they had received several similar reports in the past few days. All previous incidents had happened at the cemetery across the street from her house.
The ambulance crew came and put her on a stretcher. They brought her out to the ambulance.
The boys had not exited from the cemetery. They were examining the new grave stone. It was different from all the others. They didn’t know how or why, but they sensed that this grave stone held the answer to all their questions . The grave stone sparkled for an instant.
Jim and Jerry Stevens were fascinated by the sparkling grave stone.
“Why is it doing that?” asked Jim.
“I don’t know. I think someone is trying to communicate with us.”
“Not maybe. Remember when Dad picked up the ham radio set?”
“He couldn’t speak to others over it at first because he was a beginner.”
“So what did he do?”
“He used something called Morse Code.”
“You think that is Morse Code.”
“I’m not sure. Dad has a book on it in his den.”
“Dad’s den is locked.”
“It doesn’t make sense. What is the gel? And how do people just disappear?” Jim paused, “Unless … “
“They didn’t just disappear.” Said Jerry.
Jim looked at Jerry and then at something on the ground that Jerry was looking at. It was about a hundred feet away. They cautiously approached it. As they came nearer, its shape became more defined. Both boys stopped and backed away in horror from the partially disintegrated body of Joe Smith.
“Uh oh” said Jerry as he turned around.
Jim looked back. A wall of gel five feet tall was behind them. It was growing. The boys started running as fast as they could.
Mr Stevens exited the plane and walked through the tunnel to the airport. There he waited for his luggage then went out to the parking lot and started his car. He picked up his cell phone and phoned home. No answer. He was tired and failed to check for messages. Had he checked for messages, he would have found out that Mrs. Stevens was in the hospital with a bullet wound in her right shoulder. Instead he started driving home.
A half hour later he arrived at his home and pulled into the driveway. He glanced across the road at the cemetery before entering the house. “Honey. I’m home!” There was no response. He opened the refrigerator door and took out a loaf of bread, cold cuts and a jar of mustard. After making himself some coffee and a sandwich, he sat down to eat.
He went into the living room and turned on the TV set. He left his cell phone on the kitchen table. He fell asleep on the couch. The cell phone rang, but he did not hear it.
When he woke up, he looked at the clock on the wall. It was 7:00. He saw something on the floor. Curiously he bent over and looked at it. It was sparkling. It took him several minutes to realize that it was some sort of code. By then it was too late. When he looked behind him, he saw a wall of gel extending from the floor to the ceiling. He ran for the kitchen but another wall of gel appeared and blocked his way. He ran for the front door only to encounter a third wall of jel. He picked up a chair and smashed a window and climbed out.
The surgery took three hours, but the surgeon successfully removed the bullet from Mrs. Stevens right shoulder. They transported her to the recovery room. The nurses visited Mrs. Stevens every half hour. At 4:00 A.M. the nurse entered the room.
Mrs. Stevens was missing.
Back at the cemetery, Mike Thorpe was walking down the sidewalk holding a bag containing a bottle of liquor. For an instant he saw the grave stone that Jim and Jerry Stevens had been looking at. Then it sparkled. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. He slipped under the chain and entered the cemetery. The stone no longer sparkled. He looked at the bottle of liquor, and flung the bag containing the bottle through the air and exited the cemetery. He saw two boys running toward the entrance. Their faces were pale. They ran across the street and tried the front door of their home. It was locked. They banged on the door. No answer. He looked back into the cemetery to see the silhouette of a man approaching the entrance. As the silhouette came close, he tried to make out the details of the face. But there was not enough street light.
The boys glanced at the silhouette and ran around the back of the house. The silhouette started to cross the street. Mike knew the boys were in trouble. He searched the ground and found a stone about the size of a base ball. He picked up the stone and threw it hitting the silhouette in the back. It collapsed in the street, but it no longer looked like a man. It was one big pile of jel.
He looked up and saw 100 silhouettes approaching the street from the cemetery.
Mr Stevens saw his boys in the neighbor’s back yard. He approached them and hugged them.
“Where’s mom?” they asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Dad, what are we going to do?” Asked Jerry, “That gel will eventually kill us all.”
“The jel is not alive. It is being controlled by something. And whatever the controlling source is, it’s in that graveyard.”
“Your dad’s right.” Said Mike as he approached them. He turned to Mr. Stevens, “But before we go after the source, we need to find a way to defend ourselves against the gel.”
“The jel expands too rapidly.”
“I think that sparkling stone has something to do with it.”
“It’s not just sparkling. It’s trying to communicate. Seems like Morse Code.”
“Let’s destroy the stone without entering the cemetery.”
“Dynamite.” Said Mike, “The stone is close enough to the road to throw the dynamite over the fence.”
“Let’s do it.” Said Mr. Stevens, “The sooner the better.”
Mike went home and came back later with dynamite. The fuses were tied together. They walked back out into the street. The boys remained in the backyard. They lit the dynamite and waited for the fuse to burn short, then they threw it over the gate and ran to the side of the house. The dynamite landed beside the grave stone. The gel immediately started to cover it, but the dynamite still exploded sending small pieces of stone into the air. Pieces of gel were all over the street.
Then the ground in the cemetery started shaking violently. The soil, where the stone once stood, started breaking up. A small round space ship emerged slowly from the ground. It hovered about ten feet above the ground.
A mile down the road, people were panicking. The gel had been covering and killing people. The police had been helpless against it.
The last surviving policeman ran into the precinct and took out his cell phone.
“Hello? Hello? This is an emergency. Hello?”
Then the gel expanded and covered him.
A voice could vaguely be heard coming from the cell phone. But no one was there to respond.
Back at the cemetery, the space ship was slowly rising into the sky. The aliens were quickly losing control of their major weapon, the gel. The stone was a vital part of the system controlling the gel. The gel was the one weapon that the earthlings had no defense against. It was not flammable. The earthlings had nothing that could destroy it. The aliens had incorrectly assumed that the stone would go unnoticed among other stones like it. That wasn’t the only error. The stone sparkled when it manufactured more gel. Soon the gel would become a harmless material in the earth’s soil.
Their mission to destroy life on earth and make earth their new home had failed. They needed a better plan or another planet.
Mr. Stevens thanked Mike for his help and then loaded the boys into the car. He had finally listened to the messages on his cell phone. They drove to the hospital. Mrs. Stevens had been found in another room a half hour after she disappeared. She had narrowly escaped being killed by the gel — with the help of a visitor.