One foot, in front of the other. One breath, and then another. Theo closed his eyes, his legs burning from the effort of walking up the steep incline, the spring sun shining high above him. Sweat trickled down his neck, chest heaving slightly, his pulse stuttered rapidly in his chest, body begging for a break. He was not meant, nor was he used, to so much physical exertion. How long had it been since he’d gone hiking? He couldn’t even remember coming out to Highwood Mountains as a kid with his parents, even though they only lived about thirty minutes away.
Pale skin shimmered with sweat, his black hair clinging to his face in places as he continued the strenuous climb up the steep path. To call it a path was really an overstatement. He had long ago wandered off the actual trail going through the mountains. His goal lay somewhere in the middle of the mountains, the map on his phone slowly guiding him to the coordinates he had figured out last night.
Something amazing had happened, and though Theo rarely left his house, what had happened that night was too incredible not to. It was about just about midnight- the best time to see the stars. For just a moment, it was as if the sky had rippled open into an aurora. What looked like a meteor had sped through the night sky, crashing in the mountains just about thirty minutes from his hometown. It was a little town in the middle of nowhere. Crestwood Montana, a little North East of Great Falls, and hardly big enough to be listed on any map worth their money.
Even though he’d never smoked his entire life, after seeing the vivid display of colors, Theo had almost thought he was high and hallucinating. It had been a kaleidoscope of colors- there for a moment or two, and then gone in the next. It was so brief, that if he hadn’t been watching in just the right spot…he would have missed it. But he remembered feeling electricity in the air- chills running down his spine from the glint of an object streaking through the sky.
Really, as the sweat poured down his back, and his shirt clung to his skin, Theo wondered if maybe he hadn’t fallen asleep and dreamed the whole thing. It wasn’t like meteors were an impossible occurrence, but Theo had never seen anything like this. What kind of chemicals had burned off of the meteor to display such colors? And why had it taken so long for the excess to burn off? It had appeared out of nowhere, and left no trail.
There were endless questions, and Theo was determined to find answers. At least some of them. He wasn’t really an expert, but he had a love of rocks- and the thought of finding and owning his own meteorite was thrilling. He doubted he would have any competition for the meteor- in such a small town, there weren’t too many people interested in stuff like this. But that was fine by him, he preferred to do things alone anyways. Not because he had just accepted that no one in his town would ever accept him for what he was. A practical shut in, gay pianist living in Midwest Nowhere. He’d never even come close to winning any popularity contests. It had grown easier over the past few years to just shut all the pain away.
“I’m like…” he puffed out to himself, blinking away the sweat which seared into his eyes. “A big…sweaty potato.” He groaned softly, and grabbed the canteen from his belt. His hands trembled as he unscrewed the cap, spilling a large amount of life-giving nectar down his chin. As the cool water trickled down to his neck and inside his shirt, Theo let out a huff of breathe, slowly catching it.
His heart was hammering like he’d just run three marathons, while hopped up on three cans of monster. Not that he’d ever tried that. The marathon part, anyways. Unfortunately, there was no so-called athletes high. Only suffering, and a slight cramp in both legs. Scratch that- the one in the right leg was becoming a major cramp.
“Oh Jesus H Christ,” he cursed softly, and flopped down to his ass. One thing he’d learned from Senior gym class three years ago was to stretch out the muscles. It was probably the only useful thing he had learned in that class. He really just didn’t eat enough bananas, or something.
“Come on, leg, get it together,” he murmured softly to the disobedient muscles as they continued to twinge and throb with pain. He slapped his pant leg tightly, reflecting that maybe it hadn’t been the brightest idea to wear sweatpants on a hike- in the middle of Spring, no less. Hindsight truly was 20/20. And he was an idiot.
As Theo stretched and wriggled his toes to work the last of the cramp out, he (messily) gulped down another few mouthfuls of water, eyes lifting to the mockingly blue sky above. He squinted up at the bright sky, pristine white clouds, and the happy, yellow sun burning just at the edge of his vision. “You had better be worth it, space stone,” he muttered darkly, pouring some water into his hand, and sliding it through his raven black hair. He massaged the cool liquid against his scalp, sure he looked like some sort of half drowned emo kid.
Shaking his hair, Theo sighed as his long bangs hovered a tad too close to his eyes. His heterochromatic eyes had just been another thing for kids to bully him about, and he’d taken to keeping his bangs long in an effort to hide them as much as he could. Not that he left the house outside of Piano recitals anymore, but old habits seemed to die hard. He blew a sharp breath upward, wishing he had thought to bring the hair tie he used for recitals. Of course, he hadn’t. He was lucky that he had remembered to bring his canteen. Or he might wind up on the missing posters around town. Or not, since no one would notice anyways. Not until he missed his next recital or something.
Scowling up at the bright sun, Theo took in a deep breath, and then slowly let it out. “I must be losing my mind to come out here looking for a space rock,” he murmured softly. He let out a dramatic groan, and then started pushing himself back up to his feet. His muscles protested, and he imagined he could hear them screaming in alarm. “Oof, I missed leg day…and arm day. And cardio.” Honestly what did the inside of a gym look like? One of the great mysteries of the world, which Theo was sure he’d never find out.
Dusting his sweats off, Theo stretched his back a bit, wincing and grimacing at the aching muscles. He lowered his eyes down to the map on his phone, relieved to find he was only about ten more minutes away from the perimeter of where the meteor had likely landed. He swiped a hand over his face, hating the feel of water running down it, and cleaned it of sweat. It had a gross, slimy feel from the sunscreen he had applied earlier. His vampire pale skin needed all the protection he could get- but more than likely he would still wind up turning a bit red, peeling, and then returning to his deathly pallor. All in all not a really attractive prospect-but such was Theo’s life.
“All right,” he murmured, giving a final little stretch, before taking off again, letting his phone guide him onward.
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