Another short story this week? Here it is.
THE DAY THE SUN DEFECATED
He did a double take. Had the early afternoon sun really defecated? Was that a small, glaucous piece of crap floating to earth?
Ridiculous, of course. A parachute? Maybe, but he saw no evidence of an aircraft. Yes, there was something, but it was at such an altitude as to make it unidentifiable. His eyes returned to the shimmering piece of ethereal flotsam and realized it, too, was still high in the sky. His heart raced. Was this some alien falling to earth?
Even as he threw his old Jeep into gear, he shook his head. Naw. Nothing so outstanding. Things like that didn’t happen to Marshall Goodson. He marked the position of the distant speck relative to Dead Horse Butte before easing forward over the rough mountain track.
As soon as he reentered the forest, he lost track of the object, but he knew of two places a few miles ahead of him that would make appropriate landing spots for parachutes… or UFOs. He glanced at the rough, unimproved road. No fresh tracks ahead of him. If that was a parachutist, no one had come to pick him up. Not by this route, at least. There was a back way, but anyone familiar with the area knew that was a very rough drive. His curiosity pegged at maximum, Marshall pushed the doughy little vehicle harder… and took the punishment that maneuver occasioned.
After splashing through the thin trickle of Ria La Placita, he emerged from the evergreens and started down the long, sloping road that dropped into the canyon. He forded the deeper waters of Hooligan’s Creek and started up the rough, narrow track that took him up onto the plateau. He judged about thirty minutes had passed before he reached the first likely spot.
Nothing stirred in the mountain meadow other than a lone doe that stood her ground and returned his stare. Her fawn was probably hidden close by. His tense muscles relaxed, making him understand he’d been half hoping for a little excitement.
Marshall revved the motor again and headed deeper into the forest. Another fifteen minutes lapsed by the time he reached the more likely spot, a broad, circular meadow. Empty. Disappointment roiled his stomach. No alien craft wreckage. No parachute crumpled on the grass. Crap! Nothing extraordinary ever happened in his drab life.
He was about back out onto the road when a man walked out from the cover of the trees. Startled, Marshall’s hand tightened on the gearshift. Ordinary looking Joe, if a little taller than most men. Wearing camo gear that wasn’t quite military, but could have been. No pack of any sort, just a carrier—probably plastic—that vaguely resembled a violin case.
“Looking for a lift,” he called.
The man walked forward, inspecting him closely. An athlete from the way he moved. “Yes, I could use one.” The heavy voice hid a slight accent of some sort. “Dr. Smith said to tell you hello.”
There it was again, that elusive foreign sound. Smith almost started with a Z. And the first syllable of hello was a shade too strong. A shiver of unease flowed over Marshall's shoulders.
“Don’t believe I know a Dr. Smith,” he answered carefully.
The man did not react, but his eyes did. Just slightly. A mere tightening of the flesh around them.”
“Ah, well, goodbye then. I am not yet ready to return to town.”
“Sure? It’s pretty deserted around here.”
As if to make a liar out of him, Marshall caught the distinct growl of a laboring engine. A vehicle coming in from the north… the back way. The sound of that motor momentarily froze the world. Nothing moved over the meadow until a dark green Land Rover turned off the road about a hundred yards in front of them and headed through the tall grass directly for the Jeep.
The Rover halted ten yards in front of Marshall’s vehicle, and a short dumpy man with a distinctly foreign air hopped out.
“Dr. Smith said to say hello,” his camoed companion called out.
“Ah, how is the old man. Well, I hope.”
Camo man smiled, but it wasn’t a nice thing to see. Marshall threw the jeep into gear once again and started to back up.
“Just a minute,” Camo took a step toward him. “I did not thank you properly for your offer of help.”
“That’s okay. I….” Marshal’s voice died as a small, black, efficient-looking pistol appeared in the man’s hand.
“Is there really a need for this?” Dumpy man asked, alarm making his voice thin. Then he spoke a few words in a language Marshall did not understand.
Camo halted beside the Jeep’s front tire. Marshall had previously removed the canvas top and laid his windshield flat, so they stared directly into one another’s eyes.
“Please turn off your engine,” Camo said to Marshall.
“I don’t think so.”
Camo raised the pistol and pointed it right between his eyes. “I insist.”
Before Marshall could obey, Stocky spoke again in that strange tongue. Marshall shivered in sudden fear. His armpits grew wet. Slavic, he decided. “Russian?”
He hadn’t realized he spoke aloud until the two men turned to face him. Then he understood. The President of the United States—his president—was in town. Or at least the presidential party was at a compound in the mountains, meeting with counterparts from around the world to discuss trade issues. That wasn’t a violin Camo carried. It was a rifle broken down and waiting to be reassembled. Waiting to kill. This was an assassin… no, what did they call them? This was a mechanic coming to assassinate the American president.
“I see you have figured it out,” Camo said in a voice devoid of feeling. “That is too bad.”
Marshall went momentarily dead on the inside. His trembling ceased. Even his fear evaporated before a rising anger. He was surprised to realize the Jeep’s motor was still idling. In a single sudden motion, he threw the vehicle in low gear, cut the wheel sharply to the left, and gunned the motor. The sound of his own voice shouting “Take that, you piece of shit,” startled him.
Caught by surprise, Camo attempted to lurch backward, but the fender hit him solidly. When he tried to recover, the driver’s side mirror caught him in the back and sent him reeling.
Marshall made straight for the forest. For a moment he thought he would make it. Then he heard gunfire. From two weapons. Camo was hurt but not out of it. But maybe he was hurt enough….
Two bullets struck the Jeep’s frame before something hammered into his back.
That's what I like about blogs... I don't have to obey rules. I can publish what I want. How do you kill the guy who's telling the story? It just stops, right? Leaving us to wonder if Marshall, who was merely looking to pick up a stranded stranger to bring a little variety into his dull life, accomplished something useful after all. Had he injured Camo man enough to prevent the assassin from accomplishing his murderous assignment? Unfortunately, Marshall will never know. But then we won't either.
Give me your guesses at email@example.com.
New posts publisher at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.