Scene: In the dark of night, a tiny object plummets invisibly to Earth. Glowing with the searing heat of the Earth’s atmosphere, it arrives on the planet as a tiny fireball before slamming into the ground in a suburban backyard. It’s flames immediately extinguished by the tiny impact, it’s arrival goes undetected by the slumbering people in the house. Not even the dog notices the crash and therefore no one sees an amorphous form emerge from the object. It has no defined shape or manner. It is an almost imperceptible orange gelatinous blob that oozes its way over to the nearest shrub, attaches to a branch and waits.
“What the heck is this?” I said to my husband the next morning as I took a break from weeding the front garden.
The two of us peered at the small orange blob on the juniper bush. It looked like some slime that my kids would play with that would stick to the furniture. Or maybe something the dog would throw up on the rug.
I poked at it and quickly withdrew my finger in revulsion at the feel of the spongy, jelly-like substance.
“Ick. It’s icky.”
“It’s probably just a bug larva or something," declared my husband. "Bring it to the garden center and see what they say.”
I went inside to get scissors to cut off the branch and when I got back, I noticed that there were now two blobs.
“I think it’s reproducing,” I said alarmingly.
He shrugged with disinterest. I guess orange blobs were not high on his list of priorities.
When I looked back down at the bush, there were three blobs.
“Honey, these blobs are multiplying!” I cried. “If we don’t stop them they are going to take over the whole bush. I think they’re ALIVE!”
“Maybe they’re mutant alien blobs from outer space,” he joked. He turned to one of the blobs. “ET, go home.”
“It’s not funny,” I exclaimed. “It will start with this bush, then it will ingest the other bushes, and then the house and us in it!” I had no doubt in my mind that the orange blob was a very, very bad blob. I knew it was like nothing of this Earth, and it definitely did not come in peace. Today my juniper bush. Tomorrow the world.
Careful not to touch the blob again lest it ingest my finger, I cut off a branch with a blob attached and threw it in a plastic container. I wasn’t sure whether to bring it to Area 51 or my local garden center. Ultimately I chose the garden center since it was closer and I had to be home to pick up the kids from school at 3 … assuming the blob hadn’t swallowed my car by then.
Page 2 of 2 - Nervously I carried the container into the garden center and flagged down one of the owners.
“This is classified information,” I whispered to him. “You cannot tell anyone what you saw or who showed it to you, agreed?”
He rolled his eyes and nodded. Apparently I was not the first lunatic customer he’d had to deal with.
I peeled back the lid of the container and then jumped back just in case the alien blob tried to ooze out and swallow my arm.
The garden center owner peered into the container.
“That is cedar apple rust,” he said with little fanfare. “It’s a fungus.
I blinked. “A fungus?”?
“From outer space?” I asked.
“No, from crab apple trees,” he responded.
I blinked again. “It’s not going to swallow my shrubs, eat my house and take over the world?” I wondered.
I thought for a minute.
“And you’re not afraid of it?”
“No,” he said. “But I am a little afraid of you.”
Follow Tracy on Twitter at @TracyinSuburbia.