Prompt Day #264: Discover an alien ear
The Alien in the Alfalfa
I pulled into the driveway I hadn’t been in for three months. Max had his paws up on the window and tail wagging.
“Ok, Ok Boy. Just wait til I get the car stopped.” I said laughing. I had to agree with him; it was good to be home. I parked the car and let Max out. He bounded off to the field behind the house. I watched him sniffing all over the trampled grass, tail wagging away. I could only image all the smells he was taking in. The yellow do not cross tape had broken off the stakes bordering the field.
I was over the anger now. When it first happened and they told me I would have to evacuate until they could investigate and collect debris from the crash, I was pissed. This was my home and my land. Not my fault their super-secret Airforce jet crashed in the middle of my alfalfa crop, in fact, were they going to reimburse me for my loss? You can guess the answer to that.
I mean, I could have been killed. I was home, getting ready for bed when I heard it. At first, it sounded like the usual training flights they did over the house once or twice a month, but as it came closer, I knew something was wrong. I saw the flash and felt the earthquake before the sound of the crash. The light of the explosion lit the sky and all of a sudden, it was noon instead of eleven at night.
Max was a maniac, barking, clawing at the door to get out. By the time the police and firemen arrived, he’d settled to a constant low growling in the back of his throat. It was certainly a strange behavior but then again, it isn’t everyday a military jet crashes in your back yard.
The rescue crews had been there for only an hour or so before the military showed up, followed by government cars filled with FBI and CIA and people wearing acronyms I’d never heard of and google knew nothing of. I was still awake at three when the men came to my door and told me the area was being quarantined and sent me packing. They were kind enough to foot all my bills while I was gone with the instructions of speaking to no one, and staying where I’d been put.
Now here we were back home. And I supposed I would walk out to the field, find Max, see what, if any, of the alfalfa could be salvaged. I started out to the wreckage site, calling for Max. He didn’t come.
“Max! Come on, Boy, where are you?” I yelled, clapping my hands. The ground where the jet hit was no longer black and charred, but I found it slightly odd that nothing had started to grow back up. No grass, no weeds, nothing. I bent down to look at the ground when I heard Max’s deep guttural growl.
“Max!” I called again. I headed in the direction the sound which was more like a vibration than a sound seemed to come from. The bare ground began to scatter out, a negative image, a reverse topography of the wreck itself. Soon, I was back into the lush green alfalfa, scenting the air with the perfume of a midsummer’s day. I followed the growls now intermingled with a yip the likes of which I was not aware my St. Bernard was able to vocalize.
“Ma..” I started to call again when my foot kicked something I first mistook for a snake. I will admit that I have a fear of snakes and it does tend to be the first thing come to mind when my foot hits anything in the deep growth of vegetation.
The thing was not a snake. I didn’t know what it was. I kicked it, It was saucer shaped with an irregular spiral ridge running towards the center where there appeared to be a small hole. I suspected a mushroom cap but it was too thin and firm to be a ground fungus and too circumferential to be a shelf or tree fungus. I picked it up. Grey and dry, it had a firm texture that reminded me of the pig’s ears I bought for Max. I turned it over strips of sinew hung from the back side. It certainly appeared to have come from some animal, but not from any I was familiar with.
Max’s whine was a slap to the face. That was a pained sound. One that said, come find me because I need help. One that said I’m in far too deep and can’t get out of this situation on my own. I ran towards the woods that bordered the far side of the field, absently sticking the fleshy disc in my pocket. I kept calling out to him and followed the hopeless sighs he called out in return. My heart pounded more from adrenaline than from physical strain. But I was running as if my life depended on it. Max was my life, my child in fact and if anything happened to him. I couldn’t think of it. Instead, I ran.
The woods are wild. They grow on land that has been in my family for generations, the soil so thick and rich we’ve always let it be. No one ever tried to conquer it or explore it. Instead, we used it as a natural border and fertilizer. The thicket was practically impenetrable. It clung to my jeans, ripping them first and then my flesh as I forced my way through to Max. How he had gotten in here, I didn’t know.
I heard him, now just a whisper of worry; canine in origin. He was close, very close. I kicked and trampled at the vines and picker bushes when I caught a flash of white on the other side of the bush.
“Max!” I shouted and I saw a wriggle of movement in the white. I dove into the brush, pulling at the vegetation bloodying my hands. I didn’t feel it though, all I felt was the urgent need to help Max.
I saw it then, the white, sticky webbing. It lay like a shroud over a small thin body. I feared it might be a child, but that would wait. Because beyond that was Max whose body struggled and pulled but whose head was coated in the white webbing growing up off the body and smothering my dog. I grabbed at it. It felt like silly string, the stuff that comes out of a can and stinks like acetone? It felt like that. Cold, sticky, wet and foamy. But it was strong. I pulled but it wouldn’t break. I managed to get my fingers under its edge wrapped around Max’s neck. I couldn’t budge it. My fingers slipped off and I saw Max’s blood on them. Whatever this stuff was, it was burrowing into my dog.
I used both hands this time and I pulled and yelled at Max to pull. He yelped fiercely but finally, he freed himself, leaving behind chunks of scalped fur. Blood ran down his face, but he would be ok. While I still had the momentum, I continued to pull on the stuff, ripping it off or rather from the body lying beneath it. Once I exposed the thing, several facts were evident: 1. The body was not a child, at least not a human child. It had large eyes and a grey skin, from which the white foam tendrils had erupted like fungal spores. 2. It had multiple healing injuries and burns—injuries that seemed to me consistent with being thrown from an exploding air ship and 3. The spore tendrils had grown from the dead or dying body and like parasitic vines, sought out other living organisms like Max from which it was siphoning life-giving blood and nutrients. And lastly, its right ear was rounded like a satellite with an irregular spiral running to the hole in its center. Its left ear was missing, presumably torn off in the explosion and perhaps thrown into a sea of alfalfa.