To Whomever Finds This,

        I watched a man disappear today. It was not at all how I imagined it would be. He was not vaporized or disintegrated. He just vanished. There was no sound or flash of light either. One moment he was there and the next he was gone. That’s the funny thing about imagining the impossible. It’s never quite what you expect when it becomes a reality.  I expect we will be seeing many more impossible things before this is all over.

        My name is Charles Fincher and I am a freelance reporter based out of Austin, Texas. I am not a religious man, but what I have witnessed over the past few days has caused me to question our place in the cosmic order. As I write this I am sitting under a large tent with about fifty other reporters all typing away on typewriters, like myself, or scribbling furiously in notepads. Our tent has been dubbed “The News Room” and it is where all the reporters live when they are not walking around trying to get interviews to send back to their homes. So far no one has sent anything back since nothing has really happened and no one wants to risk missing anything important by making the hike to the nearest satellite outpost a few miles away. Everything that runs on electricity in the camp has not worked since we arrived. We do not say it out loud as if allowing the words to hit the air would break some unseen spell but we all know it has something to do with the Crystal. We know it is not sentient but we maintain a humble reverence before it as if it were an angry god whose name we are not worthy to speak. So as I sit here with my colleagues gathering information in hushed tones, the world waits with baited breath for what will happen next.

        All of this started almost a month ago on May 21st, 2016. It started out as a normal day in Austin. I sat at home in my office avoiding the heat, working on an article, listening to the kids outside enjoying the weekend. That is when it happened. That is when everything changed. One minute the sun was shining through my window and the next everything went dark. Then the power went out. I ran outside to see what happened. That is when the sky went completely dark. It was an eclipse. I turned to run to my neighbors’ house to see if they were all right when I realized the power was out everywhere. Streetlights stood like darkened sentinels staring ominously down at us with dead eyes. My neighbors banged flashlights on their hands in an attempt to make them work. They remained as dark as the streetlights. Cars stalled in the middle of the street, headlights dead. Our neighborhood was totally black for about five minutes. Everyone stepped out of their houses and called out in a futile attempt to offer assistance to everyone else lost in the dark. That moment bound us together in lost futility in a way years of living together with television and Internet never did. Finally the sun’s rays hit the Earth again and everyone saw the cause of the eclipse. A giant meteor, silhouetted against the sun, moved across the sky.

        Everyone is told to not stare at an eclipse or it will blind you. In that moment no one cared. Everything they had been taught was forgotten. Everyone knew in that moment that this thing was bigger than the past. We all felt psychically linked and knew the same thing. This meteor would change everything. I became aware in that moment that even though the power slowly returned to cars and houses, everyone stood completely still and stared at the sky, and we all felt afraid. It felt as if the entire world went silent in that brief moment. It was the longest moment of my life.

        After that everything began moving very quickly. All the details poured over the Internet in a blur. I posted an account of what I saw to my blog and discovered everyone was already doing that. It seemed that everyone on Earth witnessed this meteor but no one knew where it came from or where it was going to land. Our answer came the next morning at 12:00am exactly on May 22nd, 2016. That was when the meteor hit. The significance of the day has not been confirmed by any religious leaders and astronomers claim that the crystal seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Everyone is delving into ancient texts, star charts, and old research to see if May 22nd holds any significance. Other than being my neighbor’s son’s birthday, it does not. I spent an entire day scouring the Internet for a connection. I found a few sales on hiking equipment and a flurry of talking heads, arguments, and opinion pieces. Needless to say, I found nothing substantial.

        First responders went to the crash site and began reporting back via a satellite camp a few miles away from the Crystal. While the rest of the world already regained power, and people returned to their television and computer screens, nothing running on electricity near the Crystal worked. The meteor appeared to be a giant crystal. It was semi-translucent and purple. It landed in Africa right on the border of Algeria and Mali. No one knew anything for sure and speculation ruled the day. Most people thought it was an alien spacecraft and prepared themselves for an invasion. Others called it the “Tear of God” and thought it was a divine sign of the coming apocalypse. Scientists were still undecided and every country sent teams of experts to investigate. Everyone had an opinion and teams of people from across the globe fought for ways to get to the crystal. I joined a team of journalists and was able to squeeze myself onto a flight. And now, here I am, at the base of this crystal and no one knows what it is or why it is here. I have interviewed countless travelers in this “New Mecca” at the base of the crystal. Regardless of whether it is aliens or a sign from the divine, everyone from atheists, to Christians, to Muslims have built their tents together to discover what mysteries the Crystal holds.

        It was a true testament to human will how quickly “New Mecca” was constructed. Everyone worked together to construct tents and other shelters. Food was shared across groups and new hybrids of cultural cuisine were invented. It had only been a few days but the Crystal had already inspired a sense of global unity in this place. It was a utopia I hoped would last. Unfortunately the peace did not last long. The disturbance began when an American scientist tried to take a sample of the Crystal. No one up until that point attempted to touch the Crystal. Everyone was either too afraid or too awestruck to approach any closer than the edge of camp. On June 16th, the scientists drew straws to see who would collect a sample of the heavenly object. The American lost. Everyone watched as he approached the glowing purple rock. It was the most intimate, global moment in history. There were no cameras since anything electrical powered down near the crystal. Only the lucky few that inhabited “New Mecca” witnessed this moment. When the scientist touched the crystal he vanished.

        The camp immediately flew into pandemonium. People ran to the spot where the man stood to see if some evidence of what happened was left behind. There was nothing. Papers flew around “The News Room” as reporters wrote stories and ran to the outskirts of camp to send their account of what they witnessed back home. People of all religions began to pray. Their chanting filled the air and mingled with the screams of unbelievers. I sat in front of my typewriter and let it all wash over me like a global tidal wave. Everything slowed and I saw everything with absolute clarity. I do not know if it was the Crystal or my own morbid intuition but in that moment I knew I was going to die.

        Everything slowed again as the world continued to look on in wonder at what was happening here. I knew I would not leave this place and it was with this knowledge that I spent my remaining days. I did not know when my time would be up but I somehow knew that it would be soon, before I could return home. I had no family or friends to speak of, short of a few work associates. I kept no ties so I could always be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. I have no regrets, save for one. I wish I had kissed Becky Sandusky after prom. It may seem petty in light of everything that has happened in the past few weeks but this Crystal has offered me a level of clarity I have never before experienced. I do not know if it is the lack of sleep or something divine about this heavenly object, but I have this feeling that if I had kissed her on that night my life would have been radically different from what it is now. But I did not so I am here maintaining these records in the hope that someone will read them when this is all over and glean something from my experience at the foot of this Crystal from space. The choices I made in life lead me to this moment and, despite my regrets, I choose to move forward and not fall back.

        When I awoke on June 20th, 2016, everything was different. It was the Summer Solstice, more commonly known as the first day of summer. The air was electric with anticipation. Somehow we all knew that something would happen today as if we were all in tune with the Crystal. Some of the hippies in the crowd lit incense and performed ceremonies. Others began morning prayer. No one fought. All religions camped side by side in harmony, each performing their sacred rites to their deities in the hope that inspiration regarding the Crystal would come. Somehow this purple rock from the heavens had brought peace. There was no war, no race, or history around the Crystal. We were all united in this moment and in this place. We were all tethered to the mystery of something greater than ourselves. Regardless of what it was, this was proof of something far greater than the pettiness of race or religion. It was a shame that it was all about to end.

        Around noon on June 20th, while the sun was directly overhead in the sky, the crystal shattered. It was not an explosion. It was far quieter than that. Just like the vanishing man, the crystal simply went from being whole to millions of pieces flying through the air, leaving only a jagged base buried in the ground. It looked like a purple mountain range, which reminded me of that American song. Funny how only a few weeks amongst these people and words like “American” began to sound so foreign and trivial to me. This Crystal marked the beginning of something new. I was saddened when I realized I would not be a part of it.

        Some of the crystal shards flew for miles overhead until they were out of sight. Some hovered above our heads. As I type this I feel my moment approaching. If someone finds my writings I hope they publish them. Not because I am vain but because I believe my experience to be important for those that could not be here. Whatever happens next, people should not forget how it all began. The beginning is important. The sky has just gone black like that night when I stood outside my house surrounded by my neighbors. It feels like a lifetime ago now. I hope the world finds peace in this new age, but I suspect it will just find a way to draw new dividing lines.

Sincerely Yours,

Charles Fincher