The Extraterrestrial Plot: Part 1
The importance wasn’t seen until two years later. Maureen had indeed moved out of state to be closer to her college, and we were both coping relatively well, but life was nowhere nearly as exciting anymore. Many of my friends were still in the area, and I was meeting all sorts of interesting people in college, but none of them could ever be Maureen. She had always been my right-hand man as it were, ready to assist me with any wild scheme I might concoct and always on hand to slap me in the face with cold, stark reality if I needed it.
I mused over these things and more as I drove home from classes one afternoon. Being so lost in thought distracted me from my driving, and I almost hit a girl who was crossing the street. Instantaneously I slammed on the brakes, but she didn’t seem to see me and continued on her way. Noticing how she favored her left leg, I pulled over, got out, and asked, “Are you all right?”
She was dressed oddly–all wrapped in a black cloak with the hood thrown over her face so that I couldn’t see whom I was addressing. In a strained voice she answered, “I’m fine. There’s no need to worry about me.” Her voice was unusual, too–she sounded like a foreigner, but I couldn’t place her accent. Further ignoring me, she continued to limp into the woods that were on the other side of the road.
“Are you sure you don’t need anything?” I checked, following her. “That leg looks bad.”
“I’ve had worse,” came the gruff reply. She stepped wrong on her bad leg, and I saw her start to go down.
I hurried over to catch her and balanced her against me. “At least let me take you to the hospital; there’s one about five minutes away–”
“You’re a persistent one, aren’t you?” she interrupted, pushing me away.
“I’m just trying to help you,” I protested, beginning to lose my temper. I didn’t care if she was hurt or not; there was simply no excuse for being that rude.
“If I needed help, I’d ask for it. Now go!” she snapped. When I showed no signs of budging, she curled herself into a ball (despite her injured leg) and rolled straight towards me. I leapt out of the way but still managed to trip and fall.
As I rolled to my stomach to push myself up, I saw the girl watching me warily…and my breath caught in my throat. At first glance, she appeared absolutely normal, but a closer examination revealed something more…unexpected.
“Who?” I choked. “Who are you?” I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say because her eyes, to risk sounding cliché, weren’t human. They were green like mine, but my eyes still had pupils and whites. Hers were completely green, pupil, iris, sclera, and all.
In response she picked up a heavy branch and lobbed it in my direction. At that point my self-preservation instincts kicked in full force, and I ran for all I was worth. When I reached my car, I turned back to see if she was following me, but I appeared to be alone.
Shaking from shock and adrenaline, I sat in my car and waited until I was calm enough to continue driving home–a bit difficult since my mind kept whirling over what had just happened. Who was that girl? Why had her eyes looked like that? It immediately came into my mind that perhaps–as crazy and completely, thoroughly impossible as it seemed–she wasn’t…human. As I said, it was crazy and completely, thoroughly impossible–it made for a great story, but reality is seldom like what we read in books or see in the movies.
My small delay only put me a few minutes behind schedule; I stopped by the Turfs’ house to tend to Coffee before continuing home to take care of Zorro. Even as I performed these enjoyable chores, however, my mind still whirled over what had happened.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” I remarked to Zorro as we took our afternoon ride. “Heck, I didn’t even think it was possible. Or maybe I’m just going crazy.” I sighed heavily. “I wish Maureen was here.”
A low growl sounded in the distance. Zorro snorted and looked in the direction of the noise.
“Easy, Zorro,” I soothed, leaning down to rub his neck. “It’s just the Sasquatch. It sounds like he’s found some supper for his family. Should we go say hello?” I squinted at the sky. “Eh, it’s getting late. We should be heading home; we can say hello another time.”
I reined him around and set him for home, my mind now occupied with the details of the adventure that had led to Maureen’s and my discovering a family of Sasquatches living in the woods that extended behind our houses. That had been one of our more memorable adventures in the series of madcap outings that had been my life since I adopted Zorro. I smiled to myself as I remembered some of the more outrageous shenanigans we’d pulled, going all the way back to the first show we’d entered together.
As I touched upon that fond memory, I also reflected on our last show together two years . . . and I straightened as I remembered something from that show–specifically meeting Karla and Megan. I remembered Megan’s remark about rumors of alien activity and Karla’s giving us her cards. She said to keep her in mind if we ever found something she thought would make an interesting story, and if she was interested in aliens…but it all hinged on whether or not I still had her card.
After I untacked Zorro, groomed him, and turned him out into his pasture, I dashed into the house and up the stairs to see if I still had Karla’s card. I couldn’t be sure if I had kept it or not, and there was also the possibility I had lost it when I transferred all of my stuff into Abby’s room when my older sister moved out of the house. My search was somewhat frenzied, and I shuddered at the amount of cleaning I’d have to do afterwards.
“Whoa. What did you lose?” queried a voice from the doorway.
I blew a strand of hair out of my face and looked up to see Chrissy, my sixteen-year-old sister, surveying my personal disaster zone with her typical expression of mild disdain. We had never quite gotten along; those years when I had to share a room with her had been nothing short of teeth-grittingly irritating, but we shared a mutual joy and glee when Abby’s post-college relocation meant I could claim her room as mine. Moving out put less strain on our frequently volatile relationship, but there were many things we still couldn’t stand about each other, hence my determination to say as little as possible to her about what had happened that afternoon.
“Business card for a journalist,” I answered, resuming my search.
“Why?” Chrissy pressed.
“I think I’ve found a story she might like–” I paused to look Chrissy in the eye “–and that’s all I’m telling you.”
Chrissy huffed and stalked away–she must not have been in an argumentative mood. She was soon replaced by Dave, my twenty-two-year-old brother and favorite sibling.
“Clashing with Chrissy again?” he inquired lightly.
“Sort of,” I grunted as I continued plowing through the mess I had unleashed.
“That look on her face suggested otherwise,” he shrugged. “What are you doing, anyway?”
“Embarking on a quest that is certainly stupid and quite probably–aha!” I leapt up, holding the card aloft like a trophy. “I did not lose it!”
“Lose what?” Dave wanted to know. He squinted as he tried to read what was on the card.
I turned to face him, looking as impressive as I could muster. “Don’t laugh, Dave, but I am about to proceed n another of my infamous adventures, one that is quite possibly the most impossible escapade yet.”
“Good,” Dave nodded. “You haven’t had an adventure since Maureen left; life’s been much too quiet around here ever since.”
“Well, it’s not as much fun without Maureen,” I told him. “This one probably won’t be as exciting since she’s not here, but it beats this boring stagnation.”
“I’m sure, but your adventure will have to wait till after dinner. Mom sent me to tell you to get downstairs and help get everything together.”
Sighing, I placed the card in a prominent place on my desk so I wouldn’t have to repeat my frantic search and followed Dave downstairs.
Dinner was unimportant in the grand scheme of this adventure. Chrissy and I helped Mom with cooking the potatoes and vegetables, and the meatloaf was very delicious. Regardless of the deliciousness, however, I ate as quickly as was healthy because I could feel the old restlessness of adventure calling to me, and a call like that demanded that attention normally reserved for eating be directed at its beckoning beacon.
As soon as all post-dinner chores were completed, I grabbed the phone and scooted back up to my room so I could call Karla without being disturbed.
“Hello?” ventured a voice on the other end of the line, a voice that sounded much like Karla’s.
“Is this Karla Bennett?” I checked.
“What if I am?” the voice countered.
As I considered what answer to make, I heard an irate shout.
“Ann! How many times do I have to tell you to not answer my phone!? Give it here. Give it!”
After whiny protests I recognized all too well as the injured defense of a younger sister who considered herself falsely accused, a much more cheerful voice came to my ear. “Sorry about that; my sister is…” she trailed off in a disgusted snort. “Anyway, this is Karla.”
“Hi, Karla. This is Ashley Mackee. You may not remember me, but–”
“Of course I remember you!” Karla interrupted excitedly. “The editor said that was my best story to date! What can I do for you?”
“Remember how you gave me your card and asked me to let you know if I ever found an interesting story?”
“Yep. You’ve found one?”
“Yeah–if you’re still interested in covering aliens.”
There was dead silence on her end for a minute before she replied, “You’re not trying to make a fool of me, are you? ‘Cause Megan spoke out of turn that time, and–”
“I’m not trying to do anything,” I told her earnestly. “It’s just that–look, can you meet me tomorrow afternoon by the route 55 junction?”
“Let me see what I have scheduled for tomorrow; I’ll call back and let you know.”
We hung up, and I reflected that there was no going back now.
(Read more of Emerald’s works at My Turn to Talk)