Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Alton One: Chapter 13

A warm satisfying breeze whistled through the turning maple and oak leaves that filled in the gaps between the row of houses lining Columbia Avenue in the east, and James Street in the North. The sun glittered respectfully of the rusty, chrome fender on Lance’s light blue 1976 Dodge Ram, which sat well off the curb on Columbia. The audible hum of the truck’s engine muffled the sounds of nature.

Looking out beyond the intersection, where both Columbia and James met an end, two brown squirrels scampered from the edge of the road and up the tall oak tree Jim Carpenter, Lance Goodman and Mike Rove spent hours climbing as kids. Jim’s dad supposedly broke his arm falling out of a tree as a kid, so he enforced a no climbing in trees clause. But Jim’s mom would say, “Oh, they’re just kids having fun!” When Mr. Carpenter wasn’t around, Mrs. Carpenter permitted free climbing.

The voice of Brian Johnson sounded, and Mike looked at Lance’s iPhone. The text was from Mrs. Goodman. It read: “ten minutes out.” He looked back toward the woods, and a memory of he and Lance playing catch on the road danced through his mind.

There was no texting back then, and the Internet was an adult tool. If iPods and iPads and Kindle’s and Nooks existed back then, maybe things would have been different. If those things existed, perhaps he’d have spent his time indoors texting instead of hanging from trees. Then again, there was Nintendo, and then the Nintendo Wii, and they still climbed trees. So it’s just natural for kids to play outdoors, he figured.

Peering over the trees he sees a beautiful blue skyline, with only one white cotton ball cloud. If Tsatso and Lance are out there, they’re behind that cloud. What are the odds of that? He asks himself. “Not very good,” he answers. And now I’m insane because I’m answering myself. But the clouds moving slowly to the south, so if I wait long enough…

“Mike!” It was Sarah, pulling him back to reality. “We gotta get going. Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Mike said, continuing his gaze at the white cloud a moment, then he turned. The door slammed. Sarah was back inside. Lance’s text popped into his mind: “They’re coming! Get out! Go to Lookout Mountain.” The assumption was – “and you know what it means to ASSUME,” Mr. Textler said once. “It means that you make an ASS out of U and ME.” The class laughed. – that “they” meant the bad aliens.

But what did he mean by “Lookout Mountain.” There are no mountains in Scottville, or Ludington, or Manistee, or Michigan for that matter. The only thing he could think of was…

“Mike! Mike! Wake up!” It was Donna this time. “Come to earth! Come to earth!”

“Earth ta Mike! Earth ta Mike!” Jim said, rummaging his way through the doorway, and holding the door open for Sarah, who was prepped with her backpack and a large brown paper bag full of sandwiches. “Yo man, we gotta go.”

“I’m here.” Mike said. “And I’d like to wait for Mr. and Mrs. Goodman. They’re only a few minutes out.”

“We can’t,” Sarah said. “Lance sent another text. We gotta go, right now! Come on! Come on!” She grabbed Mike’s sleeve and started down the steps. Mike didn’t budge, and she lost her grip, and stumbled down the steps.

“Sorry, Sarah,” he said, “but I can’t leave without them.” He looked up at the cotton ball cloud, and took a step back as he saw something poking from behind the northern side of the cloud. “Look!” he said, pointing.

“It’s a cloud, you stupid mor… HOLY SHIT!” he dropped the iphone he was holdling, and it bounced off the edge of the top step and bounced onto the cement. “Holy-Mary-Mother-of-God, it is true what you say.” His jaw dropped.

“Okay, guys, come on,” said Sarah. She was now in the truck. “Come on! COME ON!” Donna was sitting next to her, on the passenger side, with a look of fright on her face similar to the look of fright on Sarah’s. Mike thought they could be sisters.

“Come on, Mike!” Jim said, jogging toward the truck, and jumping into the driver’s spot. “Come on!”

“No! I’m not going without Mr. and Mrs. Goodman.”

“Mike. Listen. Mr. and Mrs. Goodman are on their way to Manistee. They’ll meet us there, okay. Now let’s get going.”

As Mike started to the car, a scream, like an animal caught in the jaws of a predator, reverberated through the warm air. A naked boy was running down the street.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Alton One: Chapter 12

"You, dudes, you look like crap," said Jim Stone, looking like he just got out of bed.  His red hair was a messy wad, his chest bare, and Detroit Lions pajama pants covered the rest of him. He was lying back in his recliner, his big feet spread out for all to see.  On the television Miguel Cabrerra was stepping up to the plate.

"Jim, you need to pack your bags.  You're coming with us," Mike said, wheezing. He slammed the door, and rushed to the couch so he could lean over the back of it.  He reached into his pocket for his inhaler.

"What?  Why? You guys been smoking some doobies?" He made a cock-eyed smile, and made a circular motion with his pointer finger around his ear.

"We're being chased by aliens, Jim," Sarah said.

Mike tried to make a "shhhh" sound, but he couldn't get enough air out to make that sound.  He reached into his other pocket.

"Aliens, right! You guys have been smoking weed.  Just like our buddy Lance." He pretended to hold a joint to his lips, inhaling deep, holding his breath. "Ahhhhhhhhh!"

"Please, Jim, this is no joke.  You've got to believe us," said Sarah. 

"For crying out loud guys," Jim said, scratching his head. "I am trying to watch a ball game... YEAH! GO! GO! GO! GO!"

Mike could hear Mario Impemba giving the play by play of a Detroit Tiger's game, although he couldn't see the game from his viewpoint.  "Can't find inhaler," he said, in one breath.  He heaved in deep, as though through a narrow straw.

"Four to Zero!" Jim Chimed. He held his arms over his head, resting his palms behind it, revealing his armpits.

"I have your inhaler -- oh crap!" Sarah was searching herself for the inhaler. "I swear I grabbed it on the way out."  She took off her backpack. Set it on the couch.  Unzipped it.

"Mike, man, you better have a seat.  You don't look so well.  You're lips look blue."

Mike was on the floor behind the couch now.  His arms were at his side, next to his knees, on the floor, holding his shoulders high.  His chest burned.  He heaved his shoulders up, trying to take in a full breath, yet only a partial breath came in.  He tapped the ground with a fist.  "Oh, I can't stand this."

"Oh, come on! Where is it!" Sarah was rummaging through her backpack, many of the contents now spilled onto the couch and floor.

Jim hopped off his recliner, got down on his knees, and crawled on the ground looking under things: the recliner, the coffee table, the couch.

A strange idea crossed Mikes mind, that Jim looked like a dog searching for water.  He made a weak "Woof!" followed by a weak smile.

"You must be feeling better," mike said, crawling around now on the floor by the door. Then there was an audible CLICK! followed by an "OW!" followed by a "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry!"

A thin brunette slammed the door behind her, got down on her hands and knees, and put her cheek to mikes cheek," Oh, my little Jimmy, are you okay?" He took over rubbing his head for him.

"Oh, I'll survive."  He said.  "It's Mikey who's demanding attention now."

"Oh, Mikey, you look aweful," she crawled over to Mike, and proffered in her hand a little blue inhaler. "Is this what you guys are looking for."

Mike grabbed it from her, stuck the mouthpiece in his mouth.  As he inhaled (a shallow breath, yet a breath indeed) he squirted the inhaler.  He coughed, exhaling the white mist into the room.  He puffed again, and gain, and again, and again.  DEEP BREATH. "Ahhhhhhhh!" 

"Better?" said the young lady hovering over Mike, patting his back.

"Oh, much," he said, inhaling deep. "I love you, Donna."

The tune of Hell's Bells made Mike jump.  He hopped to his knees, reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone, and looked at it. "Shit!"

"What is it?" Sarah, Jim and Donna all chimed.  They were all three hovering around Mike, on the ground, behind the couch.

Mike jumped up, and rushed to the door.  ""It's a text from our buddy Lance," he said, just before slamming the door behind him. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Alton One: Chapter 11

Sarah writhed and squirmed until she made her way out from under the dead weight of Mike, inhaling dust, gagging and coughing as she went.  "Mike! Mike!" She screamed, shaking his body.  "Mike! Mike!"

Mike coughed, and made to sit up.  Sarah assisted him until he was in a sitting postion, brushing dust and splinters of wood and even glass off him as best he could.  No blood, though, she thought, and sighed.  As she signed she inhaled dust. 

He heeved, wheezed, and burst into a serious coughing spasm. He managed to his knees, holding his shoulders up with one hand pressed on the floor, the other on Sarah's knee.  "Inhaler!" he gasped.

"Yes, your inhaler," she said, "Where is it?" He didn't respond.  "

Mike reached into his pocket, pulled out an inhaler, coughed, pulled off the cap, coughed, put the inhaler mouthpiece into his mouth, coughed, inhaled with a squirt and a huff, coughed, inhaled with a squirt again, coughed, inhaled with a squir again and again.

"Oh, my God, that feels better," he said, taking deep easy breaths now.  His breathing was rapid, but Sarah could tell he was breathing easier.  He'd seen him like this before, but never LIKE THIS!  Never THIS bad.

"Holy, Cow!" Mike said, "Look at this place." Sarah was so concerned about Mike she completely forgot what made him so bad.  Looking around she saw pieces of wood and drywall dust and glass over everything in the house.  The front wall was busted open, and the windows shattered.   A couple large pieces of wood busted through the padio door, and were lying askew on the floor.  That could have it us! The idea busted through her mind.  That could have landed on Lance, killing him, and crushing us both.  We could be dead. 

"Sarah!  That old green house across the street blew up!" Mike said. 

Sarah peered out the opening in the front of the room and saw he was right.  The house across the street was barely a shell.  All that remained of it was half a wall on the right.  Otherwise it was almost completely incinerated, taking with it some of both homes on either side.  Flames shot up from what was left, and flames roared from the houses around it. 

"What happened, Mike? You think it was (she paused, as the idea was so scary she could barely make herself say it) the aliens."

"Sarah, shit!  I don't know.  But we gotta get the hell out of here.  We gotta get out quick."

"Where's my backpack?"  She looked around, kicking aside boards as she searched.

"Put your blouse over your mouth and nose, like this," Mike said.  Sarah turned and saw Mike had his blue (well, it used to be blue.  Now it was whitish from drywall dust from the explosion) shirt pulled over his nose and mouth.  She did the same with her blouse. 

"Ah, there it is!" she said, and bent to pick up the back back.  When, all of a sudden (and it was right about here she swears she hears Mike say, "Holy Shit!") a force strikes her from her right side and knocks her right into Mike, and they both fall to the ground with a mighty force. 

Sarah picks her head up, looks toward the opening, and sees a large glass, silvery object coming through the opening.  It was (or so her mind interpreted) floating.  It was hovering over the ground.  It was coming in fast. 

"It's just as Lance, described, Sarah!" Mike yelled. "Man, let's get the hell out of here. Run, Sarah! Run!"

With a single motion Sarah grabbed her back pack, Mike's inhaler (which somehow ended up on the ground) and followed Mike through the kitchen, through the back door, and into the backyard.  She ran, alongside Mike, for her life. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Alton One: Chapter 10

"If I wrote a story of my kidnapping by aliens, I always thought I'd call it Escapes from the Lost," Mike said, still standing with Sarah, peering out at the corner of James Street and Columbia Avenue.  Mike didn't knjow what Sarah was focusing on, but his vision was mainly set on the eastern skyline.  His hope was that he'd see the ship Lance was on. Why not? It's not like it hadn't appeared before.

"That's a good name," she said. "Why that name?"

"Because the aliens who kidnapped me were lost.  They were lost in space, per se.  They had no home, because there home planet was destroyed by crooked people who had no idea how to run a planet...

"Did you see that!" Sara stepped back, and pointed out the window.

"What?" Mike stepped next to her."

"Get down, Mike."  She fell to the ground, tugging his arm as she went.

He fell on top of her, and rolled so that he was lying on his belly, and could still see out the window by peering through the edge of the curtain.  "What did you see?" he whispered.

"I guess it was nothing."  He face suddenly pale.

"What?  Tell me."

"I saw it.  I saw..." tears rushed over her face.

"You saw the alien?" He looked at her, hugging her the best he could in the position they were in.

"Mike, I'm scared."

"Me too."

"We're getting out of here," she said.


A half hour later they were seated at the kitchen table, and Mike watched as Sarah stuffed some beef jerkey into the top of an already stuffed back pack.  "There," she said, "That should be about everything we'll need."

"Or at least everything we think we'll need."

"Or at least everything Lance and his mom stored in this house."

"It's funny, it's like they were looking preparing for this day."

"Are you ready?"

"Well, I was thinking we should take naps first," Mike said, and burst out laughing.

Sarah joined in.  At one point during the fit she knocked the backpack off the edge of the table and she heard something smash.  "Shit!" she laughed.  "We should see what that is."

As stressful as things were this day, laughter seemed to be a major irony.  How do you find laughter among blood, death, aliens and the like, Mike thought.  "This might be the last normal moment until whatever we are going to do today is finished, Sarah."

"What do you mean?"

Mike didn't answer right away, instead he listened to the audible hum of the refrigerator.  He jumped at a CLINK CLUNK" sound that came from behind him, and he and Sarah both turned to look.  "It's just the refrigerator," Mike said.  "It's the ice maker."

"Wow.  It's funny, all the time I've spent in here I never noticed it before."

"It's funny you say that, because I was just thinking of the humming of the refrigerator, a sound you only hear when you're really paying attention to it.  It's neat how life goes on, and we don't hear, or see, what's right in....


Something whizzed over Mike's head as he jumped onto Sarah, dragging her to the ground with him.  He rolled over, on top of Sarah almost, to protect her from flying boards, glass and shrapnel.  He felt objects falling onto him, stinging his left ear.

"TEH HOUSE IS FALLING IN!" Sarah Screamed.

Clambering sounds, like glass breaking, boards falling, continued for several moments.  Mike's eyes were locked shut, and he kept them shit what seemed like 10 minutes, but in reality was only seconds.  He did not budge, even as he felt he was covered completely.  He inhaled, and COUGH! COUGH! COUGH!

"You okay, Sarah," he whispered, motioning to get up, but unable to over the weight of Mike.  She pushed Mike hard, and he made no effort to move.  He was unable to move.  He continued his coughing jag.  He inhaled deep.  A breath came in sharply and painfully with a mouthful of dust.  He exhaled, and when he inhaled the air was thick and hard.  His chest burned.  His ear burned worse.