Seventh-grader Dustin Cotter dreams of being the first human to make contact with an alien species from outer space. So when he discovers that the meteorite he watched crash-landing is really a miniature spacecraft, he’s determined to capture it.
But first a dog grabs it. A dog that happens to be owned by Randie, the cutest girl at his new school. Then it gets stolen by another kid on horseback: Max, the school comedian/magician/cowboy. Dustin finally manages to get it back, and his dream of making contact comes true when he meets Bok, the tiny alien astronaut.
However, a dangerous motorcyclist saw the crash-landing, too. He wants the spaceship and will stop at nothing until it’s in his possession. And then one dark night, the man catches Dustin alone out in the desert - and Dustin’s dream turns into a life-threatening nightmare.
Sitting on my bed, I propped myself against the wall. For a while, I just sat there, wondering about the ship. Where had it come from? Why was it here? What was going on inside of it? Was the alien in it alone? Was I right in letting Randie talk me into keeping it here overnight? Was I safe having it here in my room?
Thinking about Randie got me thinking about school, and I remembered I had to read a chapter in my history book for homework, so I got it off my desk and opened it on my lap.
I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew the hologram was back in the center of the room. This time the alien was sitting in some kind of strange chair shaped to the form of his body. It looked like a cross between a recliner and a dentist’s chair. He had his feet up and sat there staring at me. I sat up straight and stared back.
“Greetings,” I said.
He saluted me. “GREETINGS.”
I saluted him back. “Are you the same astronaut I saw before?”
“You’re by yourself?”
I felt like I was playing twenty questions. Having a conversation with him was like having one with my mom when she’s really mad at me.
“What is your name?”
Now we were getting somewhere. “Hello, Bok. I’m Dustin.”
“DUSTIN. KEEP. BOK. SAFE.”
My immediate thought was of Randie and my promise to her. “Yes, I’ll keep you safe.” Safe for tonight, at least. I had no idea what would happen tomorrow.
“WHAT. IN. HAND.”
What in hand? I looked down at my hands and saw my history book. I held it up. “This?”
“It’s a schoolbook. Homework. From. School.” Oh great. Now I’m beginning to talk like him.
Bok was silent again for some time. Was he trying to figure out what I’d just said? He seemed to have trouble with the English language. I wondered what he spoke on his own planet.
“HOMEWORK. BOK. HERE.”
Now what did he mean by that? He was here to help me with my homework? No, that didn’t make any sense. Bok was here to do homework? I blinked. Could that be it? Coming to earth was some sort of homework assignment?
“Earth is your homework?”
“You’re here to study the earth?”
“AFFIRMATIVE. NOT. LAND. MISTAKE.”
Now I thought I was beginning to understand. He had come to our solar system to study the earth, but he wasn’t supposed to land. Maybe all the meteors had caused him to crash.
“Is your homework complete?”
I wondered what he’d learned about us. That this would be a good planet to take over and live on? That it was already populated with giants? Was he in communication with his own planet? Had he already sent back all the information he had about earth?
“When do you go back?”
“How long will your repairs take?”
That answer didn’t help me much. I didn’t know if the ship would be fixed tonight, tomorrow, or next year.
“Can you fix it?”
“TAKE. TIME. DUSTIN. KEEP. SAFE.”
“Right, Dustin keep you safe.” What else could I say?
The hologram disappeared, the antenna slipped back down into the ship, and the porthole slid shut. And, just like last time, the faint humming stopped.
I stared at the ship for a few minutes, but it was hard keeping my eyes open. Shutting off the light, I snuggled under my covers. Although my eyelids were heavy, my mind was still racing. I needed to tell someone about the alien. Not Mom; she’d just freak out. But who else was there?
Maybe the newspaper would be the best place. Telling them I’d made contact with an alien was certain to make me famous! And once they made the news public, the government couldn’t keep it a secret.
I was picturing myself posing for a newspaper photographer when I fell asleep.