Chapter 1

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Part One: Melting the Ice

I drove down an old, narrow road, tapping the steering wheel as I screeched along to some country song on the radio. I smiled to myself. "Shut up." I told the radio as I pressed the play button on my phone. I sighed in relief as my new favorite rock song blared over the speakers. Country music was one of the things I just couldn't get into when I'd moved down south. I hummed along to the song as the landscape passed by outside. I turned down a small trail that led farther into the forest. My truck bumped along on the rough trail, the tires grinding loudly through the soil and rocks. I sang along absentmindedly, looking out the window.

The trees stood tall and I rolled down the window to take in the wind and the smell of freshly washed leaves. It had stormed heavily last night but only for a little while. The woods were a lush green and the clay soil shone red in the sun and sparkling water. I took in a deep breath, feeling like everything had been washed clean and the air was a million times fresher than the night before. I drove for a few more minutes, getting close to my favorite spot. I was about two minutes away when I noticed something. I turned the music down and brought the truck to a stop. The forest was dead silent. No birds, no frogs... Nothing. It would always quiet down when I drove through but nothing was ever silent. I narrowed my eyes at the closest tree and decided this was especially suspicious. I could still hear the stream a little ways to my left but it was almost like every animal had just disappeared overnight. Nothing looked amiss... Except the smoke?

"Campfire." I muttered to myself. Or idiot teens again. Sometimes they came out here to party and more than once I had put out the smoldering remains of a fire. They left it sometimes to burn the last of their evidence. Groaning, I cut the engine and leaned over to open the glove compartment. I grabbed my gun, muttering that I really shouldn't feel the need to have this. But the world was crazy and with that recent story of a giant hammer-wielding psycho in New Mexico, I wasn't messing around with weird occurrences.

My sister would look pointedly at me if she was here. "I dunno why you live in the boonies if you want to feel safe." She'd say.

Locking my truck, I shoved my gun in my waistband and crept through the trees. "Yo, anybody out here?" I called. "Don't want any trouble, just checking the smoke." No response. I glanced back to the truck and then turned back. The trees were starting to thin. Some were blown back or cracked, some fallen and burned. I was suddenly very thankful for the weight in the back of my jeans. I swallowed and checked behind me again. "Anybody out here?"

Weird crazy giant claiming he was a god. That's what some articles said. Said he crashed without a ship. Jesus, tell me I wasn't walking into an alien encounter. Tell me the crazy articles my last student's parent was blabbing around weren't true! The woods gave way to a burned crater. I looked around, listening. Nothing. Had there been a meteor last night? Meteors were good. Meteors were normal. I looked down and saw a figure lying unconscious - or dead- beside a rock.

Well there go my hopes for sanity. Normal or not, I couldn't leave him. I slid down the slope, running to him. "Hey!" I called. I slid to a stop beside him and fell to my knees, flipping him over. I winced as I did so, realizing I could have hurt him. Bending down, I put my ear to his chest and sighed as I heard a faint heartbeat. It was quiet but at least steady. I leaned back, frowning slightly as I saw what he was wearing. A long leather coat and some weird green and gold... kind of armor? I shook my head and decided to think about it later. I felt his legs and moved up to his ribs, checking for injury. Nothing I could feel. He had some bad gashes on his face and hands but nothing deep or bleeding heavily.

Scrambling for my phone, I dialed the police.

"911, what's your emergency?" A calm woman answered.

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