What seemed most strange in the moments that followed was that everything around me appeared completely normal. Nothing was changed. There was no gaping crater, no flaming trees, no evidence at all that anything unusual had just happened. The sheets of rain were quickly thinning and the highway laid wet and unbroken as it stretched out into the night toward the urban lights. The beating of my heart continued to hammer in my chest and with tremulous fingers I wiped a dripping lock of hair from my face. I was still too rattled to try and make sense of things. It was like my mind was only just starting to slowly work properly again and for the moment I could only focus on the fact that I was lying in the middle of the road.

Finally I moved to get up and despite the flimsy feeling in my legs I was able to stand. The storm grumbled once more in the distant sky over D.C. but was rapidly clearing out at last. I exhaled in broken sighs, still so shaken that I could barely breathe. Was I dead after all, I wondered? Was this death? Was I a ghost only tarrying by the road before taking the first paces of an endless wandering?

But the air came into my lungs and went out as it always had. My jeans had a new tear in them and there were a few scrapes and bruises that blotched my skin with black ink, such was my blood in the dark smearing with the tapering rain. I truly was alive.

Slowly and with uncertain balance I turned back around to where the little black sedan sat off to one side of the highway. As my eyes fell on the car my legs nearly gave out from under me all over again. Disbelief seized me and I squinted through the vaporous cold at the vehicle and at something that seemed impossible yet was right there in front of me. I wiped at my eyes with the sleeve of my coat and stared for a moment if only to make sure it really was there.

And it was. Or rather, she was.

The ground was littered with tiny pebbles of busted glass on all sides of the car. The airbags had deployed and deflated and the roof was a tangle of bent metal slanting up from something that had fallen into its center. The object that had come from the sky. It had landed directly on top of the car crushing it right into itself so that it almost looked as though the sedan were halfway through the process of turning inside-out. And nesting there in the twisted black plate that had once been the car's top was a girl.

I saw her lying perfectly still. She was white as the moon. All about her hung a pale aura gleaming in the shrapnel and along each crooked fold of the crumpled roof. Particles of light drifted like glowing dust sparkling softly before each one faded and went out like little stray embers. From where I stood I couldn't quite see her face, but there were slender legs and a lithe, white hand laid gently against the black metal.