The Extraterrestrial Plot, Part 2
Karla did have time in her schedule to meet me the next day, so I made sure I was there in plenty of time. As it turned out, Karla was there early, but another girl was with her as well.
“Hi, Ashley,” she grinned in greeting, pumping my hand.
“Hi, Karla,” I returned.
She gestured to the photographer, a hip-looking girl with long, straight, reddish-brown hair. “Roxy, this is Ashley–she called me last night about the story. Ashley, this is Roxy, my photographer.”
“I thought Megan was your photographer,” I pointed out.
“She is, but…” Karla trailed off, looking flustered.
“I’m filling in today,” Roxy supplied.
Karla shot her friend a grateful glance before returning her attention to me. “Now where did you see the strange girl?”
“She first crossed the road here,” I gestured, “and then I followed her a short way into those woods. She was limping badly; I was trying to help her when she attacked me.”
Karla grunted pensively as she scribbled notes on her notepad. As I had already given her the basics when she returned my call last night and was basically rehashing them, I wondered why she was taking notes now. “And when you ran, you didn’t see where she went?” she ventured.
“No,” I shook my head. “I expected her to chase me back to my car, but she was gone when I turned around.”
“Hm,” Karla mused. “Can you describe her?”
I paused to remember. “She was about my height and had short black hair. Her clothes were black, too, and–oh, yes–her eyes were completely green.”
Karla stopped scribbling and looked at me. There was a sharp directness in her grey eyes that I found slightly unsettling. “When you say ‘completely green’, you mean…”
“There were no whites or pupils or anything,” I clarified.
Karla’s eyebrows shot halfway up her forehead at this piece of news. Roxy had been off on one side taking pictures of evidence–whatever evidence was left after twenty-four hours–and I heard a clatter as she nearly dropped her camera.
Glancing between Karla and Roxy, I ventured, “Do you know her?”
“This way!” Roxy interrupted, pointing to the other side of the road.
“Why that way; she ran this way,” I pointed out but followed her anyway.
“I see where she’s going.” Karla broke into a jog. “If that’s the direction she came from, there might be something that tells us more about who she is.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” I realized, increasing my pace to keep up with them.
The strange girl had left a trail of sorts in her wake, and it was fairly well disguised, but it was apparent where she had blundered–probably due to her injured leg. Every so often we would stop to allow Karla to take notes and Roxy to snap pictures. The more I watched them, the more I began to wonder about them. They seemed far too organized to just be students putting together a school paper.
Suddenly Karla let out a strangled gasp. Roxy saw where she was staring and almost dropped her camera again.
“Oh…my…word,” I heard her breathe.
“Yep. She’s back,” Karla muttered.
At first I didn’t see what they were looking at, and I was much more intrigued by Karla’s statement to care. Then I saw it–an asteroid that was far too large and in far too good condition to be a real asteroid. It looked charred and pitted, and part of it seemed buckled from a rough entry.
“Whoa.” I could feel my eyes widening in shock, amazement, and awe. I wish Maureen were here to see this, I briefly thought.
Stiffly Roxy raised her arms to take a picture; I could tell from her slow movements how surprised she was to see this. Obviously what we had found was not what they had expected.
Karla whirled around and marched up to me until we were nearly standing eye to eye. “How many other people did you tell?” she demanded.
“No one,” I answered, startled by her brusqueness.
“Make sure it stays it way. In fact, it would be better if you forgot everything you’ve seen. As far as you’re concerned, this never happened.”
“What? How can you say that; I remember it!” I protested.
“This is going to get messy; you really don’t want to get involved.” Karla’s eyes hardened stubbornly. “Take my advice and forget you ever saw this. Forget you saw Caitlyn, and–”
“You know who she is, then?” I interrupted.
It was more of a statement than a question, but Karla’s eyes widened in horror as she realized what she had said. Without saying anything else, she stalked past me and called after her, “Let’s go, Roxy!”
Before she left, Roxy paused by me and offered somewhat apologetically, “Do what she says and forget you saw anything. It will really be for the best; trust me. If Caitlyn’s back, there’s no telling what might happen next.”
“So she’s an alien, yes?” I queried.
Roxy bit her lip and looked down, aware she had said too much. As she hurried away, she shouted, “Just forget what you’ve seen!”
I chewed my lip thoughtfully and stared after them. Something was definitely rotten in the state of Denmark, and the fact that they kept trying to push me out made me want to learn what was going on all the more.
* * *
In my experience, people have followed the adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I, on the other hand, have modified it to, “If you can’t beat them, stalk them to find out what’s going on, and then join them,” and that was my plan of action. I could have just conducted an internet search about whiteless eyes, but I needed something more powerful and comprehensive. I needed Maureen. She was away at college, true, but we also had webcams in order to communicate face-to-face. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing. We usually talked via the internet once a week, but I needed to up that just this once. Maureen was studying detective work, and she already had what would be defined as mad skills. If anyone could find anything out, it was Maureen.
I booted up the program and sent the signal to request Maureen’s presence. I honestly wasn’t sure if she was online or not, but I was on a mission, and nothing would stand in my way.
As it turned out, nothing had to stand in my way–Maureen responded almost immediately. “Ashley!” Her intense blue eyes sparked with pleasure. “To what do I owe this surprise?”
“Something’s brewing here in Denmark, and–” I paused, taking note of the people in the background. There were just two–Maureen’s roommate Michaela (or Mickie as she preferred to be called) and Mickie’s brother Tony (who often visited to check on his sister), both busily playing video games. I’d met them both, and they were solid, down-to-earth people, but in this situation I couldn’t be too careful. “Is it safe to talk with them around?”
“Them?” Maureen twisted in her seat. “Oh, yeah, we’re fine. They’re playing Skyrim; our world has ceased to exist for them. What can I do for you?” Her face suddenly became worried. “It’s not anything about Coffee, is it?”
“No, no, Coffee’s fine–says he misses you.”
That made her smile. “Tell the big lug I miss him, too, the next time you see him. Now what’s going on?”
I inhaled deeply. “I need to borrow your mad detective skills to look something up for me.”
“Ask away.” Maureen stretched her fingers and poised them over the keyboard, ready to begin searching.
Just then the dogs started barking wildly downstairs; I heard their nails clatter on the floor as they rushed to the back door. Then, above all their ruckus, I heard a sound that froze my heart, a sound that indicated something was terribly, terribly wrong outside. I heard Zorro scream, a shrill whistle of terror and defiance that pierced the air and left it quivering.
Maureen overheard it on the webcam, and her face blanched. “Ashley…”
“I have to go,” I excused myself hurriedly. Without bothering to sign out, I leapt from the chair and dashed downstairs, nearly breaking my neck in the process. I found my mom and Chrissy trying to hold back Gladiator and Ada, who kept growling and straining against their collars.
In answer to my questioning glance, my mom informed, “Dave and your dad went out to see what’s causing Zorro act up.”
“Something’s out there; that’s for sure,” Chrissy added. “I’ve never seen Gladiator and Ada get this upset.”
“Upset” was an understatement. “Enraged” probably would have been closer. Gladiator, our chocolate Labrador, was getting old and spent most of his time asleep, but he was wide awake now, fangs bared and hackles raised. Ada, our year-old Dalmatian, kept growling low in her throat, and she looked ready to eat the first stranger to come through the door. Seeing their reaction made me even more afraid for Zorro, and I grabbed a jacket and ran out the door.
The darkness threw me for a minute, but my eyes adjusted quickly. In the distance I could see two flashlight spots scouring the area but coming up with nothing. Since Dad and Dave seemed to be doing just fine without me, I decided to calm Zorro. I would have to be careful since he was still screaming and thrashing.
“Easy, boy!” I called out, hoping the sound of my voice would soothe him. “Easy does it. I’m coming; you don’t have to–”
I paused abruptly as I saw something move on top of his shed. It was black against black, so at first I wasn’t sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me, but soon I became convinced that something was there…and it was moving down.
Breaking into a run, I hurdled towards the shed with more speed than I suspected I had. Right as I getting close, however, the black shape launched itself at me, toppling us both to the ground. Two clawlike hands grasped my wrists and forced my arms down. Slowly I felt my attacker’s weight crushing my chest…but I recognized the eyes.
“You!” I managed to wheeze.
Suddenly my attacker hissed and looked up before blending back into the darkness, scared off by Dad and Dave’s approach. As I sat back up, I looked to where she had fled.
This was ridiculous. It was bad enough that Karla had tried to scare me off, but now this Caitlyn–whoever she was–had just tried to steal my horse. I wasn’t going to take anymore of this nonsense.
(Read more of Emerald’s works at My Turn to Talk)