dontravis.com blog post #573
I hope you enjoyed Hargis’ venture across the land to meet his two friends. At least now he knows which one he treasures most dearly.
Today, I went back to August of 2019 to find a little tory which caught my fancy enough so I’d like to repost it. Bear with me, please.
By Don Travis
I must have been pretty grown up for my folks to leave me alone at home after dark. Alone except for Brute my gray Schnauzer, that is. My parents had gone to a birthday party at Aunt Mitzi’s and Uncle Darrell’s house in town, but I’d begged off. Wouldn’t be any kids there, and the gifts would be grown-up things. The TV in our living room was more interesting than a bunch of people talking about things I didn’t care anything about.
The freak thunderstorm rattling the shutters took a little wind out of my sails until Brute plopped down on the couch beside me with his head in my lap. But just as Marshal Dillon was about to draw down on a sneaky bad guy, the television went black. I hadn’t even had time to recover from that before the lights went out too. My heart lurched as I sat in the dark, watching a dying spot of light on the TV set.
I didn’t panic—maybe scared a little but didn’t panic. Heck, I was ten-years-old and a Cub Scout to boot. In a couple of years, I’d be a Boy Scout, and they were always prepared. I groped my way in the darkness, listening to the rain thump on the roof and rattle against the glass panes, until I reached the kitchen cabinet where dad kept the big tactical flashlight he’d bought for emergencies like this. Long and heavy as a club, it cut a big swath through the darkness when I managed to get it on. I liked to make it strobe, so that’s the way I set it, but the flickering light made walking back to the living room too uncertain. I made it quit.
I no sooner sat down on the couch again than the telephone on the table in the hallway rang. I scooted over, wondering how come the phone worked when nothing else did. It was my mom.
“Are you all right, Tommy?”
“Yes, ma’am. Raining like blue blazes and the lights went off, but me’n Brute are okay.”
“You know where the flashlight—”
“Yes’m. I got it right here.”
“Your father wants to speak to you.”
After a moment he came on the line.
“You okay, sport?”
“There’s been a flash flood at the creek, so your mom and I won’t be able to get back home for quite a while. Maybe not until morning. You all right with that?”
Was that something moving in the corner? I swung the flashlight around. Nothing there.
A big crash followed by a bright light made me just about jump out of my skin. The phone went dead in my hands. Lightning. Close. I stood quietly as chill bumps puckered my skin. I swallowed hard and spoke into the dead phone. “Brute and me’ll be all right, Dad.”
After I crawled onto the couch again and got over that scare, things didn’t seem so bad, even though the old house made noises I’d never noticed before. The rain passed, but the wind that came after it kept my mom’s rose bushes scratching at the front window like they were trying to get in. My heart stopped racing when Brute lifted his head and gave a big yawn. He was asleep before his head hit my lap again. Nothing to worry about.
With nothing else to do, I fiddled with the flashlight, making it strobe, widening the lens so half the room was alight and then narrowing it down so I could pretend a laser was boring a hole in the wall. Eventually, it dawned on me that I’d better save the batteries. When I shut it off, everything was as black as I’d ever seen it before. Long before my usual bedtime, my batteries needed recharging, and I dozed. I must have, because I came awake with a start when the bang came. Bang… it was more of a crash. Or a crash bang. From outside somewhere.
When I turned on the tactical flash, Brute was standing on the couch, looking out the west window. “Yap!” he barked. Then he followed with some yips before hopping off the sofa and going to stand on his hind legs at the window. I was right on his heels, but the glass reflected back in my eyes, so I killed the flashlight. As soon as I recovered my night vision, I saw a bluish glow coming from the potato field my dad left fallow this season.
“What’s that?” I asked.
Brute answered with a bunch of yips and yaps.
Before long, curiosity won out over fright, and I pulled on a jacket against a night colder than it oughta be and took the flashlight outside on the front porch, Brute hard on my heels. The storm had passed but lightning still played in the distance. Peering through the moonless night, I made out something big and indistinct in the far field. The glow came from there. I couldn’t be sure, but there seemed to be shapes moving around in the blue light. Maybe someone needed help. But who? There ought not be anyone in our potato field. The only thing I could think of was an airplane crash.
With a glance at the boiling clouds overhead, I abandoned the porch and walked through a stiff headwind toward the distant glow. I hadn’t even reached the edge of the yard before I came to a dead stop. Something in the windbreak line of elms caught my eye. A shape. Like a man… sort of. My heart went crazy when he moved forward. Brute went down on his forelegs, his rear end in the air, and growled.
The hair on my neck prickled when the thing—it sure wasn’t a man—made a noise like a cricket, except a lot louder.
I managed to get my words out without stuttering. “Who’s there?”
“Who’s there?” came back at me.
“I-I’m Tommy Schmidt. I live here.”
“I-I’m Tommy Schmidt. I live here,” the thing said.
“No, you’re not! I’m Tommy.”
“Stop that!” I yelled. Freaked, I switched on the flashlight, but in my excitement, I set it to strobing, surprising me as much as it did the man… the thing. The flickering light exposed a big head and huge eyes over two holes where a nose should have been. The next blink of light showed the thing’s head wrinkling, like it was collapsing. With a horrible shriek, the creature fell to the ground and lay still.
“Good Lord, Almighty, what happened?” I muttered aloud.
I about jumped out of my boots when another voice came back at me. “Good Lord, Almighty, what happened?”
Brute was halfway back to the house before I had time to swing the strobing light to another big-headed, pale man… creature… thing, who flung hands or claws to his face as his head seemed to collapse too.
Other shapes moved, but they seemed to be retreating. So did I, catching up with Brute on the front steps. We almost tripped one another getting through the door. I slammed it, latched it, and for good measure, lowered the bar that Dad had installed when we had a rash of robberies in the area a year back to hold it fast. Then I locked the back door—wishing it had a bar too—and latched all the windows, closing the curtains as I did so.
After that, I fell on the couch and held a terrified Schnauzer tight against my chest until my heart quit thumping and some of the panic ebbed.
“What were those things?” I asked aloud. Brute didn’t bother to answer, he just burrowed deeper into my armpit.
Fear shrank and curiosity grew. I got off the couch and went to the west window. Pulling the curtain aside enough to peek outside, I saw that blue glow in the distance. Then something blotted out the light, and I made out the faint shape of a creature’s head right outside the glass pane. Except I couldn’t see the big eyes. Something was covering them.
Giving a yelp that matched Brute’s yip, I dropped the curtain and ran back to the couch, curling into a ball and clutching a shivering dog close against me.
Ain’t that a fine kettleof fish… uh, aliens. Not sure how I’d have handled this as a ten-year-old. Let’s see how Tommy does in next week’s post.
Stay safe and stay strong.
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