There was something special about the town she grew up in, it might’ve been the history. It was a stopgap town, only enough people for an informal dialect, so really it had to be the history. At least that's what Noelle thought, after all she was the type to read the library archives out of boredom.
Which was why she knew everything there was to know about the rinky dink little hometown she was apt to leave fully. One day she’d only need to come back for her kids, if adoption panned out.
The adoption part had been in her life plan ever since she read problem child, she knew she could do better.
Aside from her family who moved there for the at the time affordable housing, there was a long history of animal attacks, and while everyone liked to joke about werewolves and serial killers, Noelle knew a bit about what it really was.
But less about that, there was actually another reason she was going back home this season, of course it was spring break, and she wasn’t gonna pass up the HomeWasher discount. But it was bigger than that.
Kinda dorky even.
It was called the Spring Fling, and she was going with her girlfriend, Emilia. She’d decided to move out from the mountains for a higher education, in her case she’s trying to become a Coroner.
That wasn’t how Noelle met her though, they were both going to an adult speech therapy group, Noelle for an untreated impediment, and Emilia for her inability to say Oil. Well, that was how Emilia put it.
Noelle wanted to deal with her issue for herself so she could really feel free to speak. Emilia didn't have trouble at first going so far from home, but she’d started having issues when she realized how people treated her for how she sounded. She’d originally lived in a smaller community, and she’d never really experienced the pressure that came along with people's perception of professionalism.
Which sucked. Noelle didn’t like that Emilia was ever made to feel like that, but a part of her, the part that was still too scared to talk to anyone, was thankful. Emilia would’ve been too far away otherwise.
But other than the fact that her mom was supportive of them, and the default Laundry discount, she wanted to take Emilia to the Spring Fling.
The Spring Fling was something, it was their town's version of a Spring Festival, and it was one of those local holidays that started one place, then crowded out everything for almost a week. Noelle was proud to have ever experienced something like that, and managing to have participated for almost twenty-three consecutive years? Priceless.
And this year she was going with someone. Her favorite someone.
Noelle was buzzing with it.
Emilia was just amused, as she set her hand on Noelle’s overactive knee.
“You doing alright?”
“Of course,” Noelle went to hold Emilia’s hand, “It’s just so much. You know?”
Emilia just laughed at her, and kissed her.
“Hey Em, how do you feel about culture diving?”, Noelle asked,
“Is this about the corn social?”
“Yes, it’s about the Spring Fling.”
“Didn’t I already say I was going?”
“Yeah,” Noelle said, “just wanted to hear it again.”
Noelle was a deeply silly person, but Emilia seemed to think it was a good look, so that was fine.
They were mostly quiet until their stop, they were picked up by Noelle’s younger brother, who only just got his driving permits. between that and the eclectic variety of trash in the car, it was a tight fit.
“Hey I’m Nick,” said Nicolas, who was surprised at Emilia’s grip. “So you're the new honey right?”
“Old honey actually, still good though.”
“I’ll buy it.”
Nicolas had been tasked with grocery shopping on top of chauffeuring, so they at least knew his papers were being put to use.
“So, you going to the spring fling?”
“You mean the corn social.”
“No, I mean Super Senior Prom, it comes with twice the STDs”
“Oh Shush, it’s not as if you go to these things with the unfamiliar,” Noelle popped off, “if you get tested after, you probably caught it in January.”
“Good to know.”
Noelle just looked at her, they’d been at it for a while so it wasn’t quite a worry, but it almost sent Nick off the road. Poor Nick.
“what’s that?”, Emilia said looking out the window, it was a glowing light in the sky
“Now I’m certain it’s just the moon.”
“No it ain’t, wrong day, it’s probably just the recycling plant.”
“But we’re nowhere near the recycling plant.”
As the lights moved past them they realized it was pretty unlikely that it was either stationary object, “a Copter?”
The glow blinked, and as close as it was, they could see by its outline that it wasn’t a normal aircraft.
“Oh, so its a-”
“Don’t say it.”
They somehow made it home after the small scare, though they were missing some time.
They had apparently gotten lost, Emilia was frazzled but wouldn’t say so. She was considerate like that.
Noelle was happy to be home at first, ready to settle in, and do laundry with the sweet discount, but she was more fatigued by taking the long way than she’d thought.
She did some laundry anyway, tried to look away from the lights. She could’ve asked her mom about it, but it didn’t seem bragworthy.
Later when she went to bed, she found Emilia, who had apparently settled in first, deciding to attend to her journal. Knowing Emilia to be a meticulous sort, she was probably logging the entire thing while it was still fresh. “Are you worried?”
“Not really,” Emilia said, “it’s not the worst thing ever.”
“Thinking about calling the M.I.B.?”
“Why? Who's that?”, she paused, then closed her book.”yeah, I’m too tired for this. You, going to bed?”
“Yeah, you brushing?”
Emilia ran off for her night rituals, while Noelle tucked in.
Noelle opened her eyes to the festival in full swing, she felt unprepared, like always.
But the air was fun, flirtatious, and a bit over sweetened.
Noelle felt a twinge in her side, but it abated as she seemed to float from activity, to activity.
Emilia was with her sometimes, sometimes it was an old crush.
Somehow her mind landed on only Emilia, she knew it was a dream.
But she was happy to stay for now.
Emilia said something, but Noelle couldn’t hear her.
She wasn’t happy, Emilia walked away.
And the trance broke, she was awake, with a headache.
The air was aerosol and alcohol, as her eyes regained focus.
A Greying ill proportioned Thing floated above her, dark eyes studying her, unblinking and wrong.
She was trapped beneath its gaze, as the swell of needles became apparent in her skin.
She felt her vision spark and blur as the creature tried to bamboozle her again.
She knew it was again, with how her head felt.
She was done for wasn’t she? Knew a bit? That’s rich, she was a fool, and she was gonna be missing too, wasn’t she? Everything she wanted to do and she wasn’t even gonna-
“What do you think yah doin’?”, Emilia stressed, threatening the Alien with a two-hand axe. She could just about see her, she tried to speak, but she wasn’t even sure she could move her lips.
“Don’t you try me, that won’t work,” she said as the blur started to clear, “now you gonna patch her up, right now, before I hack you and your crew into pieces”
Emilia looked at her a moment, than at the Alien.
It did what it was told.
And they were dropped off Axe and all just outside of town, their phones were busted, something about the ship shorted them out. They ended up in a diner that Noelle had only ever driven past before, they still had a payphone of all things.
The place had literally just opened for business, and they were in their PaJamas.
Lucky for them Emilia had coinage sewn into all her hems, and the stolen wallets of other abducties.
The Aliens, whatever reason they had for it, didn’t seem all that careful with human paraphernalia.
It was morning business so they were stuck with breakfast after their ordeal, Noelle spoke first.
“Hey, when they were doing all that,” she gestured wildly to her head, “Did you feel like they were trying to crush your brain like a grape?”
“No, not really,” Emilia added a little too much cream to her coffee, “it was stunning, but that was it.”
Noelle paused, feeling a bit itchy. She really couldn’t think.
“So, why didn’t you tell me about your skills?”
“I wanna be a Coroner, Noelle, not an Axe murderer.”
“I don’t know, you could probably do both.”
“Yeah, I think I might’ve freaked them out.”, there was a laugh in her voice.
“I think it’s probably a good thing that you're a bit more resistant than me.”, Noelle couldn’t help looking at Emilia’s hands, she’d only ever thought she was strong before. Now she knew it.
“I don’t know about that,” Emilia took a sip of her coffee, “is it wrong that I’m worried?”
“No. of course not, this is the kinda thing that’s supposed to make you worried”
They finished breakfast before calling Noelle’s mom, who’s stricken voice was proof enough of the reality of their disappearance. Nick picked them up of course, every bit as shell shocked by their disappearance, only to become livid at Emilia’s secondhand pickpocketing.
“How did you two manage to make a joyride out of a close encounter?”
“Emilia found an Axe.”
“That makes sense.”
And somehow the week went normally, they reported the incident anonymously, sending in the wallets with their receipt folded in one of them. They were able to go to the Spring fling after all, her brother and mother tailing them all the way.
She wasn’t floating like in the dream, even if the air smelled the same.
Noelle was still stuck with her dream that night, waking to that, she didn’t want to lose anything because of it, Noelle tried to be optimistic most of the time, even if it wasn’t in her nature.
But she ended up asking, “What did you mean by ‘patch her up’?”
“I didn’t know you were that lucid,” Emilia said, Emilia asked, “Did you recognise any of the id’s? That day.”
“I know that people have gone missing before, we’ve even found bodies outside town before. It’s alright if you don’t want to tell me.”
She worried but didn’t want to lose anything or anyone with it. Which was a silly thought, Noelle didn’t feel right having those right now.
“It’s just too much right now.”
“You weren’t okay.”
“I guessed that.”
“I didn’t want to lose you.”
“I’m keeping the Axe.”
“For the fireplace?”