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A Day in the Cornfield

by Glenn Gray

part 19

One day, Karl and Stew discover strange “turd”-like things appearing in their cornfield. The things have a strange power of mimicry, and their intentions are far from clear. Karl and Stew elicit the help of Sheriff Maynard and his daughter Roxy. Consternation ensues, and the once quiet farm becomes the epicenter of national attention.

Back in the lab, Dr. Kristine Taylor had finally calmed Pierre down, convinced him to sit in the lounge, have a coffee. She called Captain Polowski and told him what had happened. He said not to worry and just get the stuff analyzed.

She was excited to take a look at this mysterious specimen. After what Pierre had said, and then the tone in Polowski’s voice, she knew that this stuff was somehow really, really important.

Taylor proceeded to take a small sample of the gel blob in the container using a swab. She prepared some basic slides, with the standard stains and preps. She figured she could get to the more advanced procedures when needed.

Low magnification was unremarkable, demonstrating sheets of nonspecific cells. She couldn’t be sure if there was some artifact or not. She increased the intensity of the light, helping a bit, then flipped to medium power.

Again, sheets and sheets of interlacing cells. Separated by clear material. She flipped to high power.

Interesting. She twisted the lens into focus and the cells became clear, sharp. Each seemed to have a cell wall. Every cell was packed with what appeared to be millions of tiny rounded structures. The cells seemed to be swollen. No other organelles were evident.

Kristine took a breath, wondered. If these were human cells, she would have to say that the tiny structures packing the cells looked like ribosomes. But instead of hundreds, there were millions in each cell.

Ribosomes were responsible for protein synthesis. Constructed the twenty amino acids into proteins. The proteins made the being. She remembered a basic biological tenet: DNA makes RNA makes protein.

With so many ribosomes, these cells were supercharged protein-making factories, rhe building blocks of every living organism.

She let the slide sit for a minute, readjusted the focus, watched. She inhaled, shook her head.

Given a genetic code, these cells could produce zillions of proteins, basically a whole being, in a matter of seconds.

Her head was spinning. She had never heard of or seen or read about anything of this nature. Where the heck did this stuff come from?

She looked through the eyepiece again. She could see the cell moving, throbbing really, ever so gently. She figured she’d have to prepare a slide for the electron microscope.

Some motion in her peripheral vision caught her attention. She looked over at the open specimen dish on the counter.

She froze.

There was a tiny little man standing in the center of the dish, frantically waving his arms.

* * *

Sheriff Maynard, Ida and a nervous-looking Karl stood with Polowski and a number of other military personnel near the edge of the crater and watched the huge crane start to gouge out mounds of dirt.

Poles with red flags were sunk into the ground around the cornfield, jutting above the corn stalks, framing the estimated border of the meteor, forming a rough circle which was nearly the size of the entire cornfield.

Karl watched in horror as rows of his beloved corn were crushed and mangled and scooped up with towering chunks of earth.

After the crane was down about ten feet, there was a loud CLUNK. The metal of the crane came down again and there was some scraping and scratching.

A few more small scoops and a space was cleared down onto the source of the scraping. It was the site where Stew and Roxy had disappeared. They could now easily make out the open slit on the rocky surface, like a mocking, grinning mouth.

Polowski, Karl, Ida, Sheriff and others came over to the clearing. They looked down at a gnarled rocky surface with the open mouth. It had a subtle glow and some bubbling gel was evident down below.

There were many other small holes and a few cracks scattered along the bumpy surface.

The crane came down one more time with a hard THUD. And then the massive rock structure started to vibrate. A mist emanated from its surface, and some thick smoke shot from the holes.

The crane operator stared down for a moment, frozen, considering his options, then jumped from the cab and ran.

Polowski waved his hands in the air, yelled, “Everyone back!”

To be continued...

Copyright © 2009 by Glenn Gray

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