Agatha looked fondly at the remains of her garden. Reminiscing, seeing it in full bloom. The dried browns and grays of reality could wait another day. The scorching sun threatened her safety as it made its way through the clouds to midday. She only had a few minutes before she’d have to retreat to the safety of her tinted glass covered porch.

 Goodbar sprang to life barking at some unseen disturbance. He scratched at the door frame trying to break free. Maybe one of those beavers that kept digging up her yard.

           “Have at it!” She moved closer to the house and twisted the door handle to set him free. She noticed a new liver spot in the fold of her hand as she released it.

 “Time to kick the SPF up to 240 I guess.” The barks ceased as Goodbar rounded the corner of the old house. He then did something he’d never done. Retreat.

“Goodbar,” she called “What’s that boy?” He turned his head toward her, staring in a way that stopped her from taking another step in his direction.

A branch snapped around the side of the house. She grabbed the door handle, swinging it wide open so the knob clashed against the enclosed porch. Goodbar took the cue to run for cover but wouldn’t enter until she did. She hurried inside, reaching behind her to pull the door closed. She expected to feel his fur brush against her pants leg. Instead she heard the faintest yelp as her only remaining companion was being dragged away.

Something, some force was pulling him away from the house as his chocolate brown paws clawed at the dehydrated lawn. His eyes begged her for an answer as the sun continued to climb, threatening to burn her where she stood. She reached behind the wicker bench, grabbing her sun hat and shot gun at once. She charged out into the yard spraying bullets a few feet above Goodbar, hoping they didn’t rain down upon his furry mane.

The being appeared from nowhere. Materialized out of ever thinning air. It looked almost human, but slightly off as though created from a bad description. Arms slightly longer than the average human, skin a muddled mix of beige and gray. Lips an unnatural purplish hue. It wore no clothing, yet revealed no gender.

Goodbar’s claws caught onto the dirt as the being’s arms stretched in the direction of Agatha’s gun. The weapon escaped her grip, contorted and crumbled in midair. Goodbar flipped around to defend his master, leapt onto the seven-and-a-half-foot being with bared teeth and widened eyes. His jaws clamped down in the vicinity of the being’s torso only to have the fleshy piece he tore away immediately regenerate.

Switching gears as he hit the ground, Goodbar ran full speed toward the house with Agatha close at his heels. Her arthritic knees suddenly spurred on by an adrenaline surge. The porch door slammed shut behind them. She bolted it while struggling to catch her breath. Goodbar nudged her forward into the house, while she continued looking over her shoulder for the unidentified entity that had invaded their space. She saw the crumbled remains of her shot gun and bullets, but no sign of the being.

She shuffled around the living room, pulling the gates across the tinted household windows and locking them for fear the being would try to invade the house. The wooden floor creaked beneath her as she made her way from room to room, searching for signs of it, bolting the back door as she passed by. Goodbar followed a few feet behind, ears perked scanning the room as he walked.

She entered her bedroom, opened the drawer of her nightstand and pulled out her phaser gun. The one Paul had nicknamed ‘the machete’. Its laser beam pierced and sliced through targets upon impact but only allowed for a few shots per charge.

 She surveyed the room for other memorabilia that could be used as weapons should the need arise. She paused when her eyes landed on the wedding picture on her nightstand. She put her pointer and middle fingers to her lips and planted them gently on Paul’s smiling face. Not a day went by when she didn’t miss his presence or thank God he’d taught her to protect herself before he left this Earth. Somehow, he knew she’d need the training even when she tried to refuse.

She was jerked from her reverie as a shadow briefly blanketed the room. Goodbar ran to the window, growling as the being passed by. Agatha sidled up next to him, making herself as small as possible, to track the being’s path without being seen. The tempered glass casing of the phaser pressed against her skin. As the being slipped from her sight line she wondered if she should call and warn Monte and Anna down the street. Goodbar took off toward the kitchen, teeth bared, barking ferociously, as she heard the clanking of the metallic latches on the back door.

No sign of the being from the window, but the door was bowing outward as if it were being pulled. About a foot from the back door, Goodbar’s steel water bowl rattled and shook, splashing its contents on the tiled floor.

“What do you want!” she shrieked. “Leave us alone!” The being materialized again near the back fence. Long slender arms outstretched as though beckoning the door in its direction. The scorching sunlight formed a silhouette around its body and caused Agatha to squint her eyes against her will. She gripped the phaser tighter. It was her last resort. Shooting through the window would eliminate their protection from the sun. Besides, there was no guarantee that even the machete would have an impact on the being.

Frantic, she turned and eyed the hefty wooden buffet stand. She stood beside it, squared her shoulders and pushed it closer to the door attempting to block it. She beckoned Goodbar to her side and removed the metal accented collar from his neck. She could feel his body trembling slightly as he leaned against her. She was certain he could feel her fear as well.

The rattling of the door slowed a bit. Agatha peered over the top of the buffet stand through the back window. The being was still standing near the back fence, but now its head was tilted upward as though investigating the roof.

“Oh hell no!” She sidled closer to the window to see if she could get a good shot at the thing without alerting it. Slice it in half before it bore an entry through her roof. Heat emanated in waves from the outer window sill. She would only have one shot before she’d have to slam the window shut again. She looked down at Goodbar, her palms becoming clammy with sweat.

“You ready for this? We may have to make a run for it again boy.” She inhaled deeply and grasped the gate covering the window. She yanked it back quickly hoping to avoid any squeaking. The rattling from the back door had ceased. The being inched closer to the house, still focused on the roof.

“Yeah you bastard, keep coming. I’ve got something for you.” She placed the phaser on the window sill, grasped the edge of the window and lifted it three inches. A blast of heat gusted through the small opening nearly singeing the hair on her forearms. With a snap, the being’s head turned to the window. She grabbed the phaser, already hot to the touch, pointed it at the being’s midsection and depressed the trigger with all her might.

 Its body convulsed. It emitted a wolf-like howl as the laser beam sliced upward toward its throat. Its extremities disappeared and reappeared as though it were trying to cloak itself again. Its hollow eyes found hers in the window as the beam sliced through the space between them and its body split into separate heaps in the dehydrated yard. She slammed the window shut and watched a pale blue fluid leak from the halves of its body into the soil beneath it.

 She slid to the floor next to Goodbar finally able to exhale. “Now who do we call to clean up this mess?” She bristled at the thought of strangers in boots and hazmat suits trouncing through her yard and home. Even more frightening though was the fact that there could be more beings out there lurking, waiting to attack. She reached for her air pad and commanded it to search for whatever agency was dealing with unidentified alien bastards these days.

By the time the purples and oranges of sun set began to paint the sky, a crew from Safe-T-Clean was landing in front of the house. They dismounted their cream oyster shaped vehicle hauling equipment and zipping into protective gear. She waited for them to take a couple of steps toward the house, taking note of the remnants of her gun and bullets before tentatively opening the porch door to introduce herself.

“What was it you saw ma’am?” The agent who’d introduced himself as Captain Loring inquired.

“Some gangly gray thing that appeared out of thin air and tried to drag my dog off to wherever it came from.”

“Could it have been a neighbor?” His eyes took in the mess of gray curls falling around her face and shoulders. The baggy t-shirt and pants she’d thrown on when her only plan for the day had been trying to salvage her garden.

“Take a look at what’s left of it in the backyard and tell me how neighborly it looks.” She rolled her eyes at the Captain, turned and let the door close in his face. She sat down in her wicker chair and watched as he walked to join his team in the back yard.

She’d prepared herself for the interrogation she would face. That they’d pretend not to believe her. Pretend this was an isolated incident. Pretend she was hallucinating or out of her mind. The pretending had a limit this time though. This was far more than seeing a flash of something unfamiliar, there was a bona fide body in her backyard.

The scientists and reporters wouldn’t be far behind. Their questions would be unending but their answers vague and inconclusive. Their version of ‘protecting the public’ meant concealing crucial information in their laboratories.

She walked inside with Goodbar close at her heels. Watched through the back window as they evaluated the being’s body and their equipment. Determining the best way to contain it she imagined. Their portable lamps cast an eerie glow in the yard. A few of the neighbors looked on from their porches. The small robotic assistant cordoned off the perimeter of the body then moved in close enough to scoop blue liquid into shot glass sized containers.

The scientists arrived with curious intensity, bypassing the front door and following the glow to the back yard. The leader of their team, tallish with slightly disheveled hair and hunched shoulders approached Captain Loring, while his team honed in on the bisected being. Choreographed distraction. They pointed, argued, jockeyed for jurisdiction then finally came to the logical conclusion of each team taking half of the body to do whatever it was they needed to do. One of the younger scientists looked up from his syringes and scopes and caught Agatha’s eye in the window. He passed his tools to another on the crew and started to make his way around to the front of the house.

“Finally decided to check on the human, huh.” She left the window and made her way to the front door. As she approached it, she saw a reporter and a camera woman making their way through the front lawn getting scenery shots. She noticed the mangled gun and bullets were gone. Probably bagged and tagged as evidence by now. They reached the front door at the same time as the scientist. Agatha opened it but positioned her body to clearly convey that they were not welcome inside.

“How can I help you?” She asked. Her gaze moving back and forth between the scientist and reporter.

“Just a few questions Mrs. Pearson.” The reporter leaned forward to edge out the scientist.

“Uh, I had a couple as well.” The scientist chimed in with a smirk.

“I have a deadline,” the reporter continued, aiming her microphone toward Agatha’s face.

“Lady, Mr., it’s been a long day. I’ll answer a total of three questions from the two of you combined, so figure ‘em out.”

“Are you sure it was an alien you encountered?” The reporter rushed out.

“Yes. That was a dumb one. Next.” Agatha turned to the scientist.

“Can I see the weapon you used to…kill it?”

“That was a smart one. Yes, you can see it but not take it. Last one lady, make it good.” She turned back to the reporter.

“Do you think it was targeting you or was it random?”

“You’re getting better at this.” Agatha nodded in approval. “Can’t say I know what’s in the mind of other worldly beings. Or if they even have a mind for that matter. Al I know is that thing used whatever powers it had and dragged Goodbar here clear across this yard without laying a finger on him. Then it tried to rip the back door off my house. Target or not, we weren’t going to sit around and wait to see what it wanted.”

“Did it –“

“Nope. That was three. I’m done. Give me a sec.” She looked at the scientist. “I’ll be back with the phaser.”

The reporter pouted but waited around to get a look at the weapon that sliced an alien in two to add it to her story. The scientist inspected it in his gloved hands. Ran some sort of wand with red and yellow lights across the length of it and handed it back to her. The reporter and camera woman followed him to the backyard with a barrage of questions.

The voices and equipment noises in the yard continued well into the night. Agatha fell asleep in her clothes, fearing one of the investigators would come banging on the door in the midst of a well-deserved shower. She awoke to silence, beams of sunlight dancing across the tinted window and Goodbar sleeping on the rug beside her bed.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she peeked out the window and saw an empty yard. Goodbar perked up and followed her into the kitchen, ready for his morning ritual. She looked out into the backyard again, then opened the door to set him free. She saw the urgency in his movements as he found his usual spot to relieve himself.

“Geez, you’ve been holding it in all night huh boy.” She muttered to herself while entering the settings for her morning coffee.

           She glanced out the kitchen window again as Goodbar made his way back toward the house. She realized his “spot” was right about where one half of the being’s body lay yesterday. As Goodbar climbed the three back steps to re-enter the house five bulbs sprouted from the gritty soil. They were the same shade of blue as the liquid that seeped from the being’s body.

“Shit.” She whispered. Her coffee mug slipped from her hand and crashed against the porcelain tile.




October 23, 2019 23:42

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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