It didn’t take long, although it seemed like an age. Two green-suited paramedics, a man and a woman, came in, carrying equipment. “Nothing to worry about, madam,” the man said to Sandra after a quick examination. The paramedics exchanged concerned glances before the man came to me, speaking quietly and out of Sandra’s earshot. “It looks like some kind of parasite. They can freeze the area and get it out with a laser. It’s painless but her eye might be a bit sore for a few days. She’ll be given some special eye drops. Just go to work normally, sir, we’ll be in touch to let you know how she’s doing.”
And that was that. Once at work I was sucked into a department-wide panic at parts not being ready for a machine we were supposed to be marketing the following week. Heads were about to roll and I wasn’t sure if mine wouldn’t be one of them. At lunchtime there was a call for me from nearby St. Margaret’s hospital.
“It’s Doctor Menzies from Ophthalmology. Just to let you know your wife’s fine and that she’s been discharged. We’re running her home in a hospital vehicle. She’ll feel a little ‘woozy’ for an hour or two due to the anaesthetic, so she’s been told to rest.”
Now, I regained consciousness and the room blurred into focus. It seemed to be some type of hospital ward and I was lying on a bed. I got up and unsteadily made my way to a washbasin where I splashed my face with cold water. I looked at my watch. That was odd. It was two o’clock in the afternoon. I must have been given something to make me sleep, a whole day had gone by.
I felt in my jacket pockets and found my son’s phone. I was surprised it hadn’t been taken, but my wallet and other bits were there too. I took it out and looked at the messages. He hadn’t set a password. They were the usual teenage nonsense, nothing untoward. But on the phone log, the last number dialled was 999. That was timed at 3.43 p.m. the previous day.
I clicked on Photos and, after pictures of Jack fooling around and pulling silly faces with equally silly friends, I noticed the last item was a video. I clicked it to play. It showed Sandra in the kitchen. Her left eye was covered with a gauze pad. “Jack, what are you doing?”
“Just filming the ‘grand unveiling’!
“I’m only taking it off for a minute. I’ve got to put these eye drops in.” She pulled on the tape holding the pad in place.”
I could hear Jack gasp.
“Jack, what’s the matter? Jack?!”
I gazed in horror. Her eye was completely red and bulging outwards. As I watched, it pulsed three times, slowly, then suddenly exploded, covering the phone’s lens with blood and tiny, wriggling red creatures. I recoiled at her shrill screams, feeling sick to my stomach. Through the blood spatters on the lens, I could see a gaping, empty eye socket. Oh …my … God.
“Yes, it was rather nasty wasn’t it?”
I looked up in surprise. A man in a white coat had come into the room whilst I’d been absorbed with the horrific video.
“Unfortunately, the laser didn’t do the trick. Those little buggers were more resilient than expected. Let me ask you, where did that rock come from, exactly?”
“I found it on a beach, Theddlethorpe St. Botolph’s.”
“Hmm. Well the boffins have had a good look at it. Seems it wasn’t your ordinary volcanic lava rock after all. It’s a meteorite.”
“What?! Then that … thing that was in it was … alien?”
“That’s our presumption.”
“Don’t worry, all those little critters were flushed out and your wife will be given an artificial eye. It’ll be connected to her brain, so she’ll be able to see, … well, sort of. Jack’s more problematic.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, this has got to be kept under wraps. A condition of us fitting the artificial eye is that you keep this … ah, affair, to yourselves. We can’t have the plebs, er, sorry, I mean the public, panicked by this. We’re worried about Jack blabbing.”
“Well, what’ll happen to him then?”
“Oh, he’s been packed off to a young offenders’ institution for a year. We think the regime there should help him forget about it. No one there’s going to believe him either, they’ve got … other stuff on their minds.”
“But, that … that’s horrible!”
“Look, you can say he’s gone abroad for a year’s study. We’ll make it up to him when he comes out, OK?” He smiled. “Anyway, let’s get you something to eat. You must be hungry?”
I was. I was starving. So hungry, in fact, I forgot to mention that when I’d picked up the rock, it had promptly broken in two. I’d donated the other half to a local charity shop.