The click that he heard was the sound of a French gold promise ring tapping the side of the composite stock of an M89—an Israeli sniper rifle. That tap was clumsy, not on purpose at all. He could feel the immediate stillness that followed it. The sniper was overcompensating for this small misstep.
The quiet was deafening, but noticeable. There were children playing stickball in the street. The bumper of Mr. Toni’s old Impala was third base. One block over, Dan Patterson was trying to get his old John Deere started. He never thought to hit the choke. Four streets away, the ice cream truck’s ragtime song was warped due to the distance. The kids that weren’t involved in the stickball game heard this and all rushed inside to beg their parents for ice cream money.
That click, from the rifle, was about 500 meters away—about half of the maximum distance.
He could pull that trigger right now and it all would be over. There would be a pop and the pink spray. He’d hit the ground before anyone knew what had happened. Of course, if anyone was looking when it happened, they’d see the spray before they heard the pop, especially today. It was perfect conditions, too. The wind was still. So still...
But that wouldn’t happen now. Because he’d heard the click. He knew now. He was waiting for the pop now. That wasn’t how these things played out. He tried to figure out how he’d avoid the hit if this rookie decided to take the shot. He could try to create a projectile himself from the odds and ends in his pocket—a paperclip, the cap of a pen, a gum wrapper. He’d done so much more with so much less in the past. The easiest thing, though, would be to shield himself with Mary Underwood, age 11, from Paris Avenue. She was the closest to him, as she’d just made a run for second base, which was his mailbox...
* * *
She spread the sticker sheets across the kitchen table in this order from left to right: dinosaurs, fairies, butterflies. Before the evening was done they would each be applied in exacting order to the pink five-subject notebook she had picked out for her creative writing class.
The other women in her class talked behind her back. They talked about her affinity for pigtails and high-heeled patent leather. They were not fans of her bright colors and kid-show-themed t-shirts. She wore lipstick the shade of original Bubblicious. They were nice to her when the situation called for it, but behind her back they were like shrews, like badgers, like bitches.
Deep inside she knew, but she didn’t let it bother her often. She enjoyed being “a girl” and couldn’t be bothered with what so called “women” thought about how she was supposed to dress and act. She was happy with the way she was, and her husband certainly didn’t have a problem with her—especially in the bedroom, where she could be described with no other word but “nasty.”
After all, she didn’t work. She didn’t have to.
Anything she wanted could simply be conjured up with witchcraft. Her husband warned her against overuse of these powers, so she used them sparingly, but sometimes she really had no choice. For instance, last week when she overheard Amanda Richards making fun of the ribbons in her hair she had no choice but to give Amanda a flesh-eating bacteria on her inner thighs.
* * *
Dan knew that it was a bad idea, but it was what the kids wanted. When the thing crashed down in the clearing behind their house, his first thought was, of course, to call the authorities.
There could be no doubt to what this was—an alien spacecraft. But as he and his family investigated the crash site, they discovered the body of a small, fur-covered life-form. He knew he should have called the police or the FBI or the Air Force, but the kids begged him not to. They wanted to protect the thing. It seemed to know English, but all it ever did was insult him and make sarcastic remarks. He thought that, at least, he could take this opportunity to learn about an alien species that was advanced enough to achieve interstellar travel, but the thing’s stories about its home world all had the ring of a terrible old vaudeville story. Every story seemed like the set-up for a terrible joke.
Dan started to suspect that even though they’d all agreed that the thing would never leave the house, the thing was sneaking out at night. There began to be numerous reports of missing neighborhood cats. He asked if the thing was guilty, and it said no.
It was lying.
Dan tried to install security measures, but the reports continued. Cats were disappearing. Dan knew that the thing was eating the cats. He told himself that he should just beat the abomination to death with a shovel, but his family would never forgive him. They’d fallen in love with the thing.
Soon, though, there were reports of missing children. Soon there was a strange infection...
* * *
The seven of them were stuck on that island for so long—they had no choice but to eat the dead to survive...
J’Mel Davidson shares the products of his imagination with the lucky readers of Birmingham Weekly. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.