The Meteorite

From The Meteorite and other fables by Adam Acidophilus

In a far and distant — quite unknown — deep shadow of hinter-space two vast and tumbling boulders chanced to collide. Both of them were big as moons with cores of molten metal, and fragments broke from their surfaces like giant crumbs.

The crumbs then passed through outer space at speeds we cannot guess, through distances we dare imagine, in periods of time beyond the reach of our humble apology for mathematics, until one of them, one tiny alien rock, chanced to pierce the earthly sky.

Warmed by its fall, hotter than a coal, no bigger than an apple or a cricket ball, it finally came to rest upon the ground. And though the surface of our world is of water, ice, desert, mountain and forest — as bad luck would have it, this meteorite had hit a man and killed him.

“Is this the workplace of Mr Henry Nibbins?” a policeman asked at the reception.

“What’s he done now?” said the receptionist. “Have you arrested him?”

“Alas no,” the policeman replied. “For Mr Nibbins has been killed by a meteorite.”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” said the receptionist. “Sounds just like him.”

“We’ve had no end of trouble from Nibbins,” his boss told the policeman. “If it isn’t one thing it’s the other. I’m not surprised he’s in trouble with the law.”

“He’s not in trouble,” said the policeman. “He’s dead.”

“Of course he is,” agreed the boss. “Serves him bloody right.”

His workmates were unmoved by the news.

“Trust Henry!” they chuckled. “Remember that time he was seriously ill? Remember that time he had that road accident and ended up in hospital? What an idiot!”

“He was merely walking down the street,” said the policeman.

“Yeah, looking for a meteorite to hit him!” they quipped.

“I wouldn’t be surprised … ” said one — who was something of a wag — “if he didn’t get that meteorite from a catalogue and then, like, throw it up in the air and deliberately run under it so it would kill him!”

And everybody fell about laughing.

“That seems unlikely,” the policeman told them — once the laughter had died down — “the meteorite was travelling faster than a bullet from a gun.”

They laughed at this as well. “He must have got somebody else to help him. Did he know any astronauts? I bet he did! What a skiver!”

The policeman sought out the family of the man.

“Well, this is all too predictable,” said his mother. “Is there no limit to what he will do to try to annoy me?”

“If he wasn’t dead, I’d kill him for this,” his angry brother fumed.

“Oh yes, that’s right, die when we need you,” steamed his children.

“There’s no real evidence,” the policemen pointed out, “that this was anything other than a random event.”

“You mean planned!” growled the brother — who had never really mastered the art of the pun.

The dead man’s wife was kinder. “I never normally kiss him before he goes to work,” she sobbed. “But this time I did. And this is how he repays me.”

“Listen,” said the policeman, “will you all stop being so horrible about somebody who was the victim of a tragic and terrible event — with a probability beyond the reach of our humble apology for mathematics?”

“Now you say that,” said his mother in law. “But you didn’t know him. Selfish little so and so. Only ever thought of himself.”

The man’s obituary, and his wake, and his funeral, continued in much the same spirit. “NIT DEAD,” ran the newspaper headline.

“Though I have buried many men,” the priest remarked at the graveside. “Sinners, philanderers, criminals. I have never had to sully my hands with anybody half as noxious as this attention seeking bastard ’ere, what got himself killed by a meteorite.”

The people at the graveside cheered; then they all went away and got drunk.

Meanwhile, in a different far and distant — quite unknown — deep shadow of hinter-space another two vast boulders chanced to collide; and a second, somewhat larger, crumb of rock span off in the same direction.

Moral: Whatever it is, you had it coming.

© Adam Acidophilus 2014