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Science Fiction Speculative Suspense

Ed Benjamin

6418 Ryan Ray

Bulverde, TX 78163



The Copse


Ed Benjamin

                                   A mountain home in Northwest Arkansas

           The man stood in the copse of pine trees at the edge of the mountain. He looked down into the valley, watching the road snaking up the hill and savored the tart scent. The recent rain sharpened the smell of the pine trees. It had been the first rain of the Fall season, cooling the Indian Summer. As he watched the few remaining drops of water shimmer on the pine needles, he could feel the soothing effect as the rain coaxed the musky, tangy smell from the branches of the trees. The dampness somehow enhanced the feeling as the musty, turpentine-like odor flowed through his nostrils opening them up. 

           He began to realize how the smell seemed different depending on the season. He remembered how the scent reminded him of cut grass in the spring and how it had a more earthy flavor in the summer months.

A glint of light caught his eye, interrupting his memories. He looked up. It was near dusk, and he saw the flash as sunlight bounced off an object in the eastern sky.

           There was something strange about it; too low and bright to be a plane and moving oddly. The object hovered in the air like a helicopter but without noise, floating near the ridge one thousand yards away. Surely, he should have been able to hear and feel its presence?

           He concentrated and strained his ears. The wind blew from the east. Since he was west of the object, he heard a slight hum. The woods were quiet with no other sounds, only the humming sound.

           The craft's movements diverted his attention from the lack of sound as it descended. It moved erratically reminding him of a leaf falling. The object dropped about fifty feet, rose about thirty feet, then dropped again.

           Was it a balloon or blimp? Yet, it’s moving up and down. What can it be?

           He could now see it clearly; it was nothing he recognized. The vehicle had clean, well-defined lines and seemed to be constructed from ceramic material, though it glinted in the sun like burnished metal. He was unable to discern any seams in the object.

           Then there was the light.

           The sun was sinking towards the west. The nether world of dusk, presaging nightfall, began to engulf the mountain. The object remained bright. It possessed an iridescent, self-contained, slightly pulsating light, simply glowing.

           The man continued to watch the object from the shadows beneath the trees as it jigged up and sideways and then headed for the clearing. He saw where it was headed. Alarmed, he began to step out from the cover of the woods and waved his arms as if to warn the craft against landing in that spot.

His feet slipped on the wet forest floor. The man reached out his hand to grab onto a trunk to steady himself. The movement gave him pause.

Then, intuition, maybe, prevented him from exposing himself to the craft. He thought better of it, wiped his damp hand against the cloth of his jeans, and backed into the undergrowth so he could continue watching unobserved.

           After a few maneuvers, the oval-shaped craft settled onto the surface. Moments later, he watched as three small beings came around from the far side of the vehicle and walked to the edge of the clearing. From his vantage point, he was unable to see how they had exited the craft.

           Why didn't I bring my binoculars?

           He strained his eyes to see the creatures silhouetted against the brightness of the craft. They were small, humanoid, and seemed to move strangely with a gliding motion.

           Are they not touching the ground at all? It's muddy down there.

           Two more beings appeared from the side of the craft. They also began to explore the area outside of the disc.

           They're not human, more child-like. If only I were closer.

           The craft began to move slightly. First, the left side dipped a little, about three feet, as far as the man could tell; the right side soon caught up. The craft began to sink deeper into the ground. The man chortled. 

           They've landed in Anderson's Bog. That stuff is like quicksand, even more so after the rain.

           The occupants of the craft had also realized something was amiss and began to glide toward the other side of the sinking craft. Then they disappeared. The vehicle began to glow brilliantly, becoming brighter and brighter as the craft shuddered.

           Then the light dimmed, and the vehicle settled back into the bog. 

They’re really stuck.

He suppressed a laugh.

Again, the light glowed, becoming brighter than it had before and the ship began to vibrate, shaking the earth around it.

           If this thing escapes it is going to create a mess, for sure. It's funny, yes, funny.

           With a sudden motion, the craft freed itself from the bog and hovered fifty feet in the air. The man didn't hear any sound; he was too busy laughing. 

           The irony was too much for him. Here it was. It was a spaceship, some sort of extraterrestrial craft, a UFO, as others called it. Here they were, light-years from home, after traveling billions or even trillions of miles to arrive here on earth and they get lodged in the mud.

           He continued to laugh. He laughed so hard his sides hurt. He crossed his arms, holding his hands against his sides to calm the raging ache.  Tears streamed down his face. 

           This was too much. Wait till I tell others what I’ve seen! 

           They probably wouldn't believe him, but he wasn’t concerned now. He was too busy laughing.

              As he continued to laugh, he'd closed his eyes, bending over, holding his sides. He paused for a moment and opened his eyes, but the craft wasn't in view. He looked around to find it had moved to the north, about three hundred feet from him. 

           A thought crossed his mind.

           They know I'm here.

           Apprehension rose within. He realized he had stopped laughing. Things no longer seemed so funny. 

           I'm scared.

           As his thoughts turned to flight, he turned in the direction of the path leading him to the safety of his house. He started to run but was unable to move. His own body seemed unable to respond, no matter how hard he tried; his legs felt wooden – they wouldn't operate. 

My legs are dead. 

           Fear overwhelmed him, turning to terror. Then, he heard a voice inside his head.

           Do Not Be Afraid!

The End

September 20, 2021 20:27

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1 comment

John Hanna
01:34 Sep 26, 2021

Ed, I love first contact stories and yours' didn't disappoint! The thing got stuck and the observer laughed! Hah! Could happen that way, that's life. I look forward to your next story.


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