Villagers in southern Peru were plagued by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a thunderous crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said.
Last Saturday, a fireball blazing through the midday sky startled residents of the tiny Peruvian village of Peapod. Many witnesses were originally convinced that it was an airplane crashing near their ominously remote village, located high in the Andes in the Desolatedero region near the border of Bolivia. The area is often avoided because a vast Incan burial ground honeycombs through the region and curses claim hundreds of lives every year.
But, the villagers, full of the gumption that most small towns exhibit, were attracted by the sound of the explosion, like sharks to the thrashing of struggling fish. They rushed to the impact site without heed for their own safety.
"It was really loud," said Paulo, a local semi-nerdy teenager who dreams of things greater than just Peapod and doing more than just inheriting his family's goat farm. "We all rushed over. There was this big crater with an almost completely intact glowing meteorite at the center. I'm no astronomer, but I had an instantaneous feeling something wasn't right."
Paulo added that the meteorite had a sickly, almost "radioactive" aura to it.
At first, the villagers were awestruck by the sight. It was almost "magical" said several eyewitnesses. Then, what looked like black boiling water started bubbling up out of the crater and coldly luminous particles of rock and cinders started pulsing. Then Raulo, the village's ne'er do-well, reached out and placed his palm against the seemingly wet, dimpled surface of the glowing meteorite.
"There was a flash of light, and Raulo let out an awful scream, like his soul was being tortured or stripped away from him," recounted Jorge, a 1,000-yard stare glassing over his eyes. "And then he was held there - it was like the meteorite was alive, reaching out to him. Stroking him like the village's penny whore. A mysterious wind blew and whipped around us, but just as quickly it died down. When the dust settled, Raulo was fine, looking at us all with a strange, almost sinister smile on his face."
That was when things started "getting weird," said Jorge.
Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odor" and midnight attacks by their neighbors, local health department official Pedro Lopez told Peruvian radio. Loitering escalated 900% to nigh zombie-like levels. Wives started complaining that their husbands weren't "acting like themselves," pointing out that they had started hanging out in large, shuffling groups that menacingly wandered the village at night.
"My Renaldo was not my Renaldo," said Lupe Gonzales. "He no longer talked. He no longer ate. He no longer blinked. He started to stink. He just walked around with his arms held straight out in front of him, moaning quietly every once and a while. At first, I didn't think nothing of it since so many people in the village were acting that way. I figured it was just some new fad. I'm not very in-tune with mainstream culture."
The number of roving clusters quickly grew to swarm-like levels. In less than a day, almost the entire population of Peapod had started acting strangely, and seemed to target those that were not part of the new "hive" mindset.
"It was really creepy," said Paulo, his arm draped around the shoulders of his new girlfriend, the village beauty Electra, who had never noticed him before the madness had began. "It was like something had snatched their bodies and taken them over. If only popular culture could have prepped us for such an encounter, we might not be in this situation."
Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the area, but officials have lost all contact with them.
Paulo, Electra, and a ragtag group of residents escaped disaster by fleeing the town on Paulo's father's prized donkey. They said they were forced to set afire and bludgeon the other villagers because they were "out to get them" and that the population of Peapod's only verbal communiqué was that they keep chanting "One of us. One of us." as they had surrounded the spunky clique of misfits.
"I thought it was a new Ricky Martin single," said Electra. "Then I realized that it wasn't. He doesn't have that sort of broad appeal."
Paulo and his crew are currently in police custody, possibly facing several hundred counts of homicide. Government officials have voiced their skepticism of Paulo's claims that the villagers of Peapod were the victims of some sort of "alien invasion."
"That's just preposterous," said local judge Umberto Puno. "If aliens were going to invade, they would go to the United States or some other Anglo country first. South America is definitely not on the minds of extra-terrestrials, everyone knows that."
But all the ends haven't yet been tied, as there is growing trepidation over seven policemen who went to Peapod to check on the initial meteor and strange behavior reports. These seven also became ill, but were quickly evacuated to a hospital in Lima. Since then, those policemen have apparently escaped the facility and their whereabouts are unknown.
Loitering, and what local officials have dubbed "spontaneous and aimless parade marching" are rapidly escalating on the streets of Lima. But local officials are not concerned.
"We are a very celebratory people," said local governor Marco Limache. "This is nothing like those 'Resident Evil' movies. There is nothing to fear. I can assure you, there is no alien force 'snatching' the bodies of citizens in Peru and using them toward the goal of world domination and enslavement of the entire human race. Again, this is not the United States."