Disaster had struck in Mrs. Reddington's class that afternoon. Jamie had finally had enough of the constant pencil poking and prodding he received from Adam behind him, so grabbing his spiral notebook, Jamie turned around and full-force smacked Adam in the face with it, the slap resonating across the room and into future schoolyard legends.
Even though he was on the other side of the classroom, Rupert thought it was the most beautiful slap he'd ever seen. Adam reeled so hard he fell out of his chair, spilling his box of pencils on the way down. Jamie didn't even have to look at Mrs. Reddington. He just got up and walked himself down to the principal's office, Mrs. Reddington shuffling closely behind.
Adam, meanwhile, lay moaning on the ground and cursing the living hell out of the no-longer-present Jamie. Nobody really went over to help him, unsurprisingly enough. But the class was bedlam, with no teacher and the most wicked fight these kids had ever seen having just taken place. Chaos reigned supreme.
But Rupert didn't have much interest in what was going on inside the classroom, because in the middle of the fracas he noticed a fiery streak outside the window and something smash into the bushes just outside the classroom. A small trail of smoke rose up from singed leaves.
Quietly, Rupert gathered his things into his book bag and snuck out of the room. He was sure no one noticed. Then he high-tailed it out the back door and around the side of the building to where he'd seen the crash.
Kneeling down beside the bushes, he spotted what looked like a rock, maybe the size of his head, sitting in a small, smoldering crater. Looking around, he saw no one, which wasn't that odd, since this particular part of the school grounds was relatively hidden from view, just a small unintended courtyard really. But still, could he have been the only one to see what had happened?
Gingerly, Rupert reached out to touch the rock. He thought it would be hot, but instead it was ice cold. It didn't feel like a rock either. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands. Kind of blackish-grey, smooth like a river rock, streaked with what looked like silver or some other metal. It was super heavy.
Whatever it was, it definitely came from the sky, and that made it wicked cool, so he stuck it in his backpack and made his way back to Mrs. Reddington's room, where he re-entered clearly not having been missed.
The rest of the day was a blur. Adam's parents had come to get him and the remaining two hours were basically a wash, nobody being able to concentrate and Mrs. Reddington much too tired to do anything about it.
When Rupert got home, he raced to his room and threw his book bag onto his bed. But before he could open it, his mother Amy knocked on the open door.
"Hey mister, you okay?"
"Huh? Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"
"You just ran right to your room without saying hi."
"Oh, sorry. Just a weird day at school. Adam and Jamie got into a fight."
"A fight? Oh my god. Are you okay?"
"I mean, I didn't get into a fight."
"Good. Stay out of that kids' stuff, you know? Okay, I'll leave you alone."
Amy left the room and Rupert shut the door. He went to pull the rock out of his bag, but it was gone. Frantically he looked around the room. He was sure it had been in the bag when he came in. It was so heavy there was no way he would have missed it.
But now it was gone. He ripped off his covers. Nothing. He flung open his closet. Nothing. Nothing under the bed, in his dresser, and all the windows were closed. Where the hell was it?
Then he heard a hiss and a clicking sound coming from above him. Looking up, the rock had stuck itself to the ceiling. It seemed to be coming apart at the metal seams. A few more clicks and the rock opened like a coffin, releasing a foul-smelling gas. Rupert coughed and squinted, noticing a small capsule float down toward the ground. The rock, however, remained firmly affixed to the ceiling.
Bending down, Rupert picked up the capsule, which felt like a cross between glass and steel. The capsule was maybe six inches long, coated in some sort of dust. He grabbed a sock from the ground and gave the capsule a few quick strokes. There must have been a small crack in the capsule because his sock got snagged on one of the edges. He pulled it loose and polished the top face a bit more.
Suddenly, staring back at him from inside the capsule was some sort of creature. It looked kind of like a hot dog, but it was slightly blue and had what looked like a small eye at the top. Rupert jumped and the capsule flew out of his hand, but it didn't fall to the ground. It just...hovered.
Walking slowly around it, Rupert eyed the capsule closely. It didn't seem to follow him, though he could see the thing inside shift slightly as he moved. He decided that it was probably safe, so he plucked it out of the air.
"No time." A voice rang in his ears. It sounded like his own voice, but weak and kind of like a cat, if a cat could talk. Except there was no cat. Was the creature talking to him? It seemed impossible. It had no mouth and besides, he hadn't really "heard" the voice like you did when someone was talking. It was more like...like the voice was already in his head.
Again, it sounded like Rupert's voice in his head. But Rupert wasn't asking himself the question. It must have somehow been the creature.
"Roo...per. Rooper. Hello Rooper. Kaz Pur."
"Casper? Like the ghost?"
"Never mind." Rupert thought this was really weird. He walked over to his door and opened it a crack, making sure nobody was outside listening. He shut it and sat on his bed.
"Who are you?" Rupert asked.
"Kaz Pur," the voice echoed in his head.
"No, I know that. But like, who are you? Where did you come from?"
"Many far. Wars. Bad people. I escape."
"How do you speak English?"
"No speak English. You speak English. In head."
"You don't speak English, but you're in my head somehow communicating with me using my brain?"
"Too much words. Yes."
Rupert thought this was pretty smart.
"So you're an alien?"
"You are alien."
Rupert chuckled. It was a matter of perspective, he supposed.
"No time," the voice continued. "Die soon. Bad planet. No gas."
"Wait, hang on," Rupert said. "If you're an alien, this is like, a really big deal. Do you know how many people would want to meet you?"
"The world would go nuts. Aw man!" Rupert's mind started spinning out of control. Think what would happen if somehow people figured out that a little kid out in the boonies was the first human to ever speak with an alien!
But then all the images in his head suddenly ceased. The room began to disappear from the center out, like a vignette. It its place he saw flashes of what looked like huge cauldrons of lava. From all over the ground, what looked like giant cannons were firing projectiles into the sky. Then as quickly as the visions came, they ceased. The world returned to normal.
"Was that...was that your home?"
"Yes. Some escape. Many die."
"Same as here. Much war."
"How do you know about Earth?"
"Your mind. I see."
Rupert sighed. "Well that's depressing."
"It's okay. We not fight. Friends."
Rupert looked at the small creature inside the capsule and smiled. "Yeah. Casper and Rupert are cool, for sure."
"Girlfriend? No way. How do you even know what that is?"
"Lie. Emily. Brown hair. Science class."
"She's not my girlfriend."
Rupert took a deep breath. What else did this creature see?
"You have a girlfriend? Back home?" Rupert asked.
"No. Too young."
"Well how old are you?"
"For you, ten years."
"Well I'm only eleven."
The crack in the capsule began to pop, and he heard a slow hiss coming from it.
"Broken. It's okay. Tell more. Earth. Good things."
"Well...I mean, we have pretty nice weather most of the time. People fight a lot and there are all these political things that I don't understand. But one time, I saw a baby deer being born, which was weird but I couldn't stop watching. Maybe you can find that memory in my head."
"Okay. Umm. Well I have a baseball tournament coming up this summer. I'm not the best player, but it's fun. My friend Reid plays on the team. He's a really good pitcher and we like to get pizza after the games. Sometimes we'll play by the creek down the street. It's really quiet and peaceful. It's a good place to forget about all the bad stuff going on."
"You want to go there now?"
"Alright, sure. Uh, hang on." Rupert grabbed the sock and stuffed the capsule inside, putting that inside his backpack.
"Hey Mom, I'll be back."
"Where you going? It's almost time for dinner."
"Down to the creek. Wanted to show Reid something. Just kids' stuff."
"Alright, but be back in an hour, promise?"
"You lie. Mom." The voice echoed in his head as Rupert walked through the woods toward the creek.
"I had to. What am I going to say? Oh, Mom, I'm going to the creek to show this space alien what it looks like."
"No alien. Friend."
Rupert sighed. "Sorry, Casper. Friend."
"What is kids stuff?"
"Oh, it's what adults say when they don't really get what kids are doing, or why it might be important to them. They kind of write us off sometimes."
They got to the creek. Rupert took a cursory glance around then sat down on a big rock overlooking the stream. He pulled the capsule out of the bag and set it down next to him.
"Here we are."
The voice didn't say anything back. It's eye twitched.
"Do you like it?"
"Home," the voice said. "Before fighting. Beautiful."
"Yeah, I know. That sucks about your home. Why were they fighting?"
"No gas. Bad people steal."
"Sounds like here."
"Time...gone." The voice struggled.
"No, please, I can help you, right?"
"No help. Just remember. Kaz Pur. Friend. Home now."
Rupert picked up the capsule, but it quickly started to turn opaque.
"Casper!" he called, trying to see inside. But within seconds, the capsule started to disintegrate, crumbling into a small pile of white ash in his palm.
Rupert sniffled a little, looking at what was left of Casper. The water running below his feet splashed up against the rock, soaking his shoes. He hopped down to the creek side and stooped down and dipped his hand into the stream. The ash floated away, scattering quickly and becoming invisible.
On the walk back to his house, he decided that he wouldn't tell anyone about what happened. First of all, no one would believe him. But second of all, if they did, it would be such a nightmare. People fighting to get a glimpse of an alien, or to contact them. His house would be mobbed and nobody at school would leave him alone.
Maybe it was best to just leave it alone. After all, Rupert would always know the truth. To everyone else, it was just kids' stuff.