He stayed on the feeder road until he saw a side road braced by a big brick sign reading Noddingwood Estates. The houses in that subdivision looked to be large and well-kept. Driving through the winding streets, he finally decided on one two-story home where the driveway looped around to the back of the garage so that the car wouldn’t be seen from the road. He couldn’t explain why he felt the need to hide from view, but taking the precaution made him feel better. And safer.

            The back door was locked, but several well-placed kicks knocked it out of its frame. Going inside, he found himself in a laundry room, which then led to a kitchen.

Over in the corner, by a bay window that looked out into the backyard, sat a small dinette table. He eyeballed it, figured it would fit, and proceeded to move the table from the kitchen into the laundry room. There he jammed it against the door, piling the chairs on top of it so the weight would prevent anyone from entering.

            Stepping back, he examined the results. “If anyone tries to get in, they’ll make enough noise to wake me…I hope.”

            The kitchen was stocked with food. Apparently whoever had lived there had just been to the grocery store. However, most of it was frozen or needed to be cooked. “That will be the first to consume,” he told himself. “While I still can make use of the appliances.”

            There was a pile of clothing in the living room. It was evident their past occupant had been sitting in a recliner. The big screen TV was on, but nothing was showing. With no one to program the satellite or station, or wherever the hell the shows and movies originated, once the original programming expired, there was nothing left but dead air.

            He did a quick examination of the rest of the house but found no other evidence that someone had been there. The garage contained one car with a blank space for another vehicle.

            Aldyn went upstairs into the master bedroom. On the walls were pictures of people, young and old. It was impossible to tell who belonged here. It didn’t matter anyway.

He found a set of clean clothes in the closet he could make do with for the time being. “I need to stop at a department store sometime and stock up on stuff I can wear.” He snorted as he thought of the number of places where he could find jeans and t-shirts. “Guess I’ll never have to worry anymore about washing clothes. I’ll die before I run out of stuff to wear.”

            It felt too eerie being in the master bath. Instead, he went into the second bathroom and locked the door before stripping and climbing into the shower.

            As the warm water poured over him, he bowed his head and tried to clear his mind. Instead, the full weight of what he was going through slugged him in the heart, the belly, and the brain with equal, devastating force. Unable to cope, he collapsed inside the tub and let it out.

            He had no idea how long he screamed and sobbed in despair. The tile walls reverberated with the sound of his anger and pain. He yelled until his voice was hoarse, and the water turned cold. When he couldn’t cope any longer, he turned off the water and curled into a ball.

            At some point he either fell asleep, or passed out. Whichever it was, he woke up with a pounding headache and aching muscles. Crawling stiffly out of the tub, he popped a couple of pain killers he found in the medicine cabinet over the sink, then went to the bedroom to pull on the sweatpants and plain white t-shirt he’d found.

            He didn’t feel like hitting the sack just yet. He was still too wound up. Too upset and fighting to keep his sanity. Instead, he made his way downstairs to the kitchen where he indulged in drinking milk straight from the carton. Better enjoy it while I can. Won’t be long before it’ll all be past its expiration date, and all I’ll be able to get my hands on is that nasty powdered shit.

            He walked into the living room again and perused the shelves of DVDs on display. If he couldn’t go to sleep, maybe he could wind down watching a flick.

            A movement outside the double glass doors nearly sent him into a panic. Aldyn froze, his heart going a mile a minute as he waited for the movement to happen again. When it did, he blinked in surprise.

            Unlocking the doors, he stepped out onto a deck. Something was happening to the stars.

            As he stared up at sky, a star suddenly plummeted downward, dropping straight down and leaving a bright, glowing tail so that it appeared to be suspended by a string. Before he could make sense of what was going on, another star took the plunge.

            “What the…” Stars didn’t do that. If they fell, they arched overhead. They didn’t take nosedives like…like… “Shining raindrops.” What if this is a result of that nebula? What if it’s some sort of previously unknown phenomenon?

            He wondered if he was seeing something for the first time that no other man had witnessed since creation. “God knows what I’m experiencing now is right up there with it.”

            One particular star caught his attention. It hung right at the edge of the crescent moon as thought it was affixed there.

            He remained on the deck, unaware of the passing of time, as he waited for that star to fall. When it got to the point where he could barely keep his eyes open, he finally retired inside and got his first real sleep in a real bed in over six months.