IRON MAN

Inspired by the song by Black Sabbath

Earth's upper atmosphere was an invisible battleground. The oblate spheroid's gravitational pull worked with and against that of the solar system's sun and its satellite as it had done so for eons. The result of this never-ending struggle of unseen forces was an orbital ballet of revolutions as the moon orbited its planet while the planet orbited its sun.

It was very rare that anything of any monumental significance was ever pulled into Earth's gravity; Theia, perhaps 4.4 billion years previously, or the Chicxulub event a mere 65.5 million years ago. Neither of those two events is even unanimously accepted in the scientific community, so it could be said that nothing ever came to Earth from outer space that had any sort of impact at all.

If one was to look at the planet from space, however, that opinion would most likely change. A wink of green light appeared somewhere above the planet. It did not fade, and began to move toward the blissfully ignorant planet. To an observer, the green glowing object would appear to be moving slow; almost too slow. If one was to travel alongside the light, he or she might have been surprised to find him or herself flying at hypersonic speeds.

Even more surprising to an onlooker would be the nature of the object that was hurtling through space on a collision course with Earth. It was not a spacecraft of any manufacture, or another kind of craft for that matter. It was a person; a man, to be accurate. The green light that could be faintly seen in space was an ethereal aura that emanated from his body.

As he entered Earth's upper atmosphere, the green glow grew brighter and his speed increased greatly. The man plummeted through the exosphere, the glow becoming brighter still and taking on a bluish tint. In the thermosphere, his green aura peeled away in an explosion of red flame. Traces of green could still be seen flickering from his body, which now tumbled through the sky. The green aura slowly took back its dominance once the man's now-unconscious body entered the mesosphere. It was much dimmer now; not much brighter than a nighttime star. The green light nearly dissipated completely as the man's weakened body plummeted through the stratosphere and, finally, the troposphere.

Smoking and still giving off a faint green glimmer, the man crashed into the soft, loamy soil of planet Earth. His figure dug into the earth, creating an impact trail as his momentum carried him along the ground for several yards. Too deep in the ground to continue moving, his body came to an abrupt halt, showering the area in front of him with a wave of dirt. The green light shimmered for a moment and died. Smoke wafted into the cool air of the summer night. Within moments, the world was back to normal. Sheltered by the dense forests surrounding him, the figure would be safe for the night. The morning would reveal the effects of the person's atmospheric descent and what the green substance did to his body when combined with the invisible forces of the magnetic field. The morning would also bring a search party consisting of curious citizens and eager scientists. Unknowing, they would find him lying in his crater in the same position he landed in. Unassuming, they would remove him from the impact site to study him. Unaware, they would set into motion a most drastic series of events.

Amity Park would be unbelieving . . . that Iron Man was here.