Catch a Falling Star

The sky over head was clear, stars that couldn’t be seen in the suburbs shone clearly in the northern skies.  The ship drifted slowly on the calm sea, the tourists ooing and awing when a meteor flashed past.

“It’s almost as if I could reach out and catch one.”

The crewman eyed the young American couple.  “Aye, lass, but I dinna think ye would wanna hold it fer long.”

“I know,” her laugh drifted back. “But to think that you could catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day,” she half sang the last bit.

Her partner chuckled and wrapped his arms around her.  “You know perfectly well that most meteoroids are barley larger than a grain of sand, and burn up on entry.”

She gently swatted at his arm.  “Actually, they don’t necessarily burn up, many meteorites do reach the ground; they are just too small for us to notice.  The ones that we do notice tend to be the size of a marble up to a meter.  The bigger ones tend to leave big holes in the ground when they hit.”  She stepped away from the warmth and moved to lean over the railing. “I just think it would be neat to catch one.” 

The rest of the party gasp in awe as a bolide flashed over their heads followed shortly by fiery trails flying off in several directions.  A moment later they heard the sound of something breaking in the pilothouse.

The tourists looked around in fear as the ship shuddered for a moment.  The crewman firmly told them to stay where they were and headed for the pilothouse. 

The beauty and mystery of the night was lost as everyone wondered what was happening, looking towards the cabin instead of the sky and sea around them.

Several long minutes later the crewman returned holding a lantern in one hand and a small pail in the other.  He held the pail out to the American couple.  “Lass, ye said ye wanna fallin star, this on’ made a mess o’our board.  Tha pilot is na in good shape either.”

“Oh.”  She slowly took the pail and looked inside.  In the faint light from the lantern she could see a roughly spherical object about four centimeters in width.

“So are we stranded?”  One of the other passengers loudly asked.

“Nay.  The pilot say he can get us back ta tha isle, but it do mean tha night be over.”  Sighs answered his statement, some in relief, some reluctant. 

As the ship began its slow turn to return to the Shetland Islands a large shape loomed into view.  What little could be see against the black sky was the silhouette of an old fashioned 3-mast ship.   No sound or light came from the vessel indicating that they were aware of the small tourist ship.  The pilot sounded off the horn to warn the other vessel and tried to maneuver his damaged ship to avoid a collision.

The silhouette of the 3-master seemed to move with them, swinging as if to come alongside.

Everyone on the tourist ship nervously checked safety vests and looked for something to hold onto.

Instead of the shock of impact a voice came from the dark ship.  “You are damaged?”  He asked in heavily accent English.

“Our navigation equipment has been damaged and our pilot is injured.”

“We can guide you back,” the voice answered after a long pause.

A tow line was secured and the two ships slowly made their way to port, passing through the channel between, Balta and Unst.  The larger shipping vessel released the line when they approached the shallower waters.  A row boat shortly appeared and followed the damaged tourist ship to shore.

The tourist were joined by a tall figure wearing a long coat, a long well kept beard was just visible in the shadows cast by the lights on the pier.  “All ist well?”

“Yes,” various voices answered him, “thank you for helping us.”

“Oh, hey, your space rock,” one of them turned to the American couple.

The woman tipped the pail and let the meteorite roll out.  She’d been loath to try handling it until it had cooled down completely.  The object fell into a puddle of water and cracked with a soft pop.  Her partner leaned down and poked at it with a knife, catching the blade in a seam.  The seam widened and the meteorite split open.  Inside they saw a thin film with what looked like writing.  He picked it up and held the film up to the light.

“It looks like the same thing written in several languages.”  A low sigh came from the back of the group that was ringing him.

“What does it say?”

“It is time, Senta.”

“At last.”

A couple of the tourists turned towards the captain of the sailing vessel in time to see him smile and then fade from view.  At the dock, his crew also began to fade their cheers lingering in the cold night air.

Above them another shooting star streamed across the sky, seeming to fly skywards.


Found a spare prompt from week 49: “When the ship caught the meteorite and they cracked it open, they didn’t expect to find a message from the stars…” that caught my eye. Partner in crime suggested The Flying Dutchman tie in. Knowing my love for the Dutchman, I seized the opportunity.

(adding flavor, I had the opera playing in the background while I wrote.)

Thank you for reading.

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