John tinkered with the alarm clock. He didn’t know why he kept it around. It needed to be fixed once a month, it seemed. The thing that came to mind is it had been his father’s before John was born. He only had a few things of his father’s left.
The last step, spinning the spring, took the longest. He half-listened to the television program as he worked. Suddenly his attention was drawn away from the clock. The spring flew out of his hands.
“This is a special report,” the anchor came on. “We have just heard…” The television buzzed with static. “Spaceships reported…” Buzzing. “Invading…” The television went dead.
John stood up and changed the channel. All the other channels were the off the air, too. He ran to his car and turned on the radio. Static came over it. He pulled out his phone. No service. Shrugging, he walked back into the house.
A few minutes later, there came a knock on the door. When he opened, His neighbor, Lance stood there with an ammo belt across his chest, a pistol strapped to his side, and a semi-automatic rifle in his hands. “I don’t know if you heard the news, but the aliens are invading. The townsfolk and I are going to block the main road until it’s over. No alien is going to step foot in my town.” Thirty men followed behind Lance.
“Aren’t we overreacting? It was a garbled report.”
“Then why are all the phones, radios, and television broadcasts being jammed? Even my ham radio isn’t working. They don’t want us to know they’re invading. But we’ve got one step up on them. Get your gun and follow us.”
John didn’t want things to get out of control. He could see Lance shooting up the first car that tried to drive into their small town. He grabbed his pistol and followed them. They set up on a small rise just before the town limits. Each man spread out and dug in. John shook his head and sat there. “What did you hear on the news anyway?”
“I didn’t hear the news. Joey told me about it. I was reloading at the time,” Lance admitted.
“They said them aliens were invading,” Joey piped up.
John leaned over to Lance and whispered, “You’re taking Joey’s word for it?”
“Watch your tongue. He’s my nephew. Besides, other people said they heard spaceships were invading.”
John threw up his hands. “Okay.”
“Here comes someone!” Joey called out.
All guns were pointed at the approaching vehicle. “Relax,” John stood up. “It’s the state patrol.”
“Get down,” Lance demanded. “They could be aliens in disguise. What better way to take over our town than in vehicles that look like police cars?”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake.” John sat back down. “Don’t shoot them at least.”
When the car crested the hill, the men popped up from their hiding places and pointed their guns at it.
The patrol car came to a screeching halt.
“Hands up and step slowly out of the car,” Lance said. The two officers obliged. “Get their guns, Joey.”
“What is the meaning of this?” the taller officer, with sergeant’s stripes, demanded.
“We are trying to see if you’re aliens or not,” Joey replied.
John shook his head. “Lance, give them their guns back. They’re clearly human.”
“Oh, okay.” He handed each officer a gun.
“How do we know them aliens aren’t human, too?” Joey asked.
Even John had to admit to himself, Joey had a good point.
Lance gave the officers a sideways glance. “Who won last year’s World Series?”
The officer shrugged. “I don’t follow baseball.”
The sergeant replied, “Not the White Sox. I stopped watching when they were eliminated.”
“Hmm,” Lance replied.
“Oh, come on.” John put his hands on his hips. “At least they knew it was baseball. What alien knows the White Sox are a baseball team?”
“You have a point. Men, lower your weapons.”
The sergeant walked up to John. “What’s going on?”
“The television report said something about spaceships and invasions. The town thinks we're being attacked by extra-terrestrials.”
“I grant you weird things are happening. Our radio and phones are out. We were driving to the nearest town to see if we could get reception.” He smiled. “Boy did we get a reception.”
“Sorry about that.”
“No, I grew up in a small town, too. I know what they’re like. We’re going to stay here until we can figure out what’s happening. I don’t want to chance another encounter.”
“Park your car down the street,” Lance urged. “We don’t want to give away the element of surprise.”
The sergeant moved the car, then joined the line of men. “Remember, we’re going to do this backward. Ask questions first. Don’t shoot first.”
“You’re spoiling their fun,” John said.
An hour later, the police radio squawked to life. “Sergeant Smith, do you read me?”
“Loud and clear, Sir.”
“Good, it’s finally working. There’s some type of disturbance in Marionville. I need you to check it out.”
“On my way.”
“You didn’t ask him about the aliens,” Lance hissed.
“That’s not a good career move. I suggest you all go back home.”
“I got the news up on my phone,” Joey said. “There ain’t no aliens out there. All they’re talking about is something called a solar flare.”
“Solar flare? What’s a solar flare?” Lance whipped his phone out of his pocket and checked it.
“Well, the good news is, no one was hurt tonight. All of you go home and get some rest.” The sergeant waved goodbye as he and his partner drove away.
Lance hung his shoulders as he trudged back to his house. John breathed a sigh of relief. When he opened the door, he turned the television on. The same news anchor appeared. “As we reported earlier, one of our unmanned spaceships has recorded a solar flare from the sun. This one is so large it will be invading the atmosphere. It has the potential of disrupting communications all over the area.”
John slid his pistol in his safe and went back to fixing his father’s clock. Picking up the spring, he began winding it again.