Posting mini-short stories is fun for me even though I have the sense when I do post a story, everyone runs out of town. Insecurity? Lack of confidence? Meh.
I will return to posting them in October 2017.
Eerie, Scary & Leery
The Bark of Ethel
Three Point Turn
to be announced
All three parts are posted together below
"You pull me." Mary-Ella instructs Eejan, "You're more solid than I am."
The two stand there using each other to see what's behind them. Afraid to move, they're reviewing their options as Dex and Ruby stroll down the hill.
"Ah, I'm guessing one of you almost faded." Ruby smiles. "Don't worry, we know how to pull you back if it happens again. The others are waiting for us in the parking lot. We are the couple that drew the short straw to retrieve you two."
Carefully following Dex and Ruby's lead, they make it to the parking lot as the last of the sun is fades. Ike asks everyone to meet at his studio. Doc thinks they should stay and try the second option. Despite the waxing Moon, the lack of light isn't bright enough to be in those woods, especially with the cold front clouds. Doc insists there may be elements that only appear at night. The majority agree if Doc is correct, then those elements will be there tomorrow.
"I was a medic. Am a medic. I don't go out on calls unless there is a disaster." Dodge says as he checks everyone out.
Mary-Ella listens to what the others say. Ike asks questions. Adler chuckles. Yvonne stares at Liam. John sips his herb tea. Cleo pulls on her shawl nearly every breath anyone takes. Haven and Cody share their candy stash.
"Look." Mary-Ella says as she goes up to the drawing easel with a thick marker, "I speculate heat rising up from a magma chamber causes, along with the rock material, an anomaly that morphs the molecular structure of specific organic matter that has specific mineral and moisture content. That explains why only humans, not animals, fade, and in some cases disappear. No theory on why clothes fade as well."
"A decent theory from our experiences. I myself felt as if I was moving through a fun house of air mirrors." Liam smiles.
"Ha! You really do talk like that. Sorry, I thought you were making fun of me." Yvonne tells Liam as she releases her intense stare.
"Like you're the only one in the world with a beautiful and textured deep voice." Liam blushes.
"Well, I owe you a nice dinner. Home cooked." Yvonne blushes back.
"Candy anyone!" Cody laughs and holds up the bag, after taking out the last two licorice jellies.
"One thing bothers me though." Ike walks up to Mary-Ella's drawing, "Why did we return? Learn so quickly how to pull each other back, and the others didn't?"
"Oh! Because they moved too much!" Eejan shouts, "Sorry. I forgot to share that I saw Mary-Ella fading the more she moved. The disappeared folks were alone, single person walking. How far did they go before noticing? I only knew about pulling a person back because I found Mary-Ella. The disappeared were hiking with probably no thought other than to observe their surroundings, and enjoy the scenery. Unless they used a hand to wipe their nose, they wouldn't notice how faded their hand is."
"Okay. So if there are thermals of some sort, then a heat signature will show up on this device. It didn't. So lets set this up in Adler's cupola, pointed towards those woods. Leave it up all night and meet back her to check it in the morning." Ruby suggests.
"Its fine with me." Adler says, "Let's put a trail cam up at the parking lot as well. John, Cleo and I can take care of that. We'll call in when we get back home to be sure the problem hasn't grabbed us."
"No." Dex says."Set up just the trail cam. Ruby said nothing recorded. That tells me a magma chamber may be the furnace, but it isn't a radiator."
"Maybe we mentally can no longer process seeing them?" Cleo asks, "Where is the stuff we saw on the ground and hanging on branches? We left them there. But, they weren't there when we walked out of the woods. I looked back. All of it was gone. Whatever it is, it takes all of us, clothes, jewelry, hip replacements, dental implants. Frankly, I think we all died and nobody told us. And when we leave where we died, it all disappears. We get buried without knowing about it."
"I feel that way sometimes." Cody sighs. "Nobody is bringing up another dimension. That surprises me being the majority of us are science fiction fans. I've heard the word portal maybe half a dozen times. Door to outer space, not at all. As it is, there may never be a reason that we will discover. There are things that have no human explanation."
"Oh no!" Ike groans, "I know what it is! Years ago there was chatter about a satellite system testing out travel from one place to another in seconds. The program became mothballed when the satellites, five as I recall, were hit with space debris. One satellite's carcass disappeared when it hit the atmosphere, and another all the way to the biosphere. I think the broken device on those satellites is buried along Shirttail Trail. All the other devices were picked up in space, and brought back to the lab."
"Along with the rock material in the area," Mary-Ella adds, "The device is limping back to being fully functional because they are fixing the other devices at the lab!"
"Yes!" Doc screams louder than the room expects.
"The people that disappeared are back in the lab?" Cleo smiles, "Alive in a lab?"
"If there is a receiving platform, yes. If not," Ike sighs, "then no, they are out there waiting if that is possible, for a platform. Given the secrecy of the project, they may never return to the life they knew."
Across the room near the side door a loud bang begins to shake the walls. Ike and John run out the front door, down the walk and into the side yard. There is nothing on the side door's small porch. The banging stops, and begins again as they walk away. The others are in the yard where they can hear banging on the front porch. The ground shakes, and shakes with each bang.
"I have the feeling," Eejans starts to say, and changes his mind, "We get the hint! Y'all need to be received."
The banging and shaking stops.
Wind. Scratching its way through the town seeking where it will appear. Piercing. Wood. Asphalt. Steel. The relentless growl, with each pass shakes the atmosphere down to the depths of the human soul. Up from the granite gravestones, voices bleed dead red to shove the wind out to sea. The Atlantic swirls it back again and again drowning out the screams of living bile, tissue and bone. The lab found Ratchetborndent. At the old lodge between Gravy Bowl and Aster Breath Mountains the group is now hiding from detection. Tunnels to old shelter rooms are so deep, no scanner penetrates the granite walls above, beside, below. Ike and Doc built a device to zigzag their body signatures through the Shirttail Trail woods, and down to the lodge five miles away without the surveillance satellites locating them.
Unknown to the lab, the LOE79 near Shirttail Trail is neutralized with a machine Mary-Ella, Eejan, John, Ruby and Liam built. It looks like a wire nightmare puked on plastic and solder, but it works. Ike knows from his contract days, anyone aware of the LOE79 will be extracted from the life they know. Half new person while remembering the old. Trapped. Tormented. Unable to formulate the thoughts to explain what they feel, see, know. Desert regions, swamps, jungles, any environment where the danger of becoming dead is very high are the locations they are and will be sent to wait for a snake or mistake.
"It is not easy, Ike, to not think about food." Ruby sighs while stirring the soup. "We are grateful you stocked this place though."
"Working on secret projects causes a person to view life differently." Ike replies as he takes garlic bread out of the oven.
"Aren't you afraid they chipped you?" Dex asks
"I removed those years ago. I'm surprised they didn't come after me to replace them. There's a department who's only task is to insure chips are operational. I know because I began there, and after that designing chips. The dummy chips I created and use seem to be working."
"How long do you think it will be before they locate us?" Ruby walks in the room with a stack of towels. "Found these in the hall closet. Use instead of napkins. Remember keep them washed out."
"There's no deed, no record of this place because it was built in secret, all the builders are dead, and I and one other person knew until now."
"Yes, its me." Yvonne says, "When Ike is gone, I select his replacement. That was the rule. Ike was chosen after he retired. Nobody actively working for the government or any secret program can be chosen."
They all sit at the table for dinner.
"Okay, here it is." Mary-Ella begins, "The estimate is a few weeks, a month at most. Psychics will scour and the entire area to find us, and they will. Until then, we are working on fixing LOE79 as an independent machine. Designed to work together in case of mass usage, we had to locate that element, remove it, and begin again without it because each has a dependency feature to prevent creation of independent machines."
"Can we delay the psychic searchers from finding us?" Cleo asks while passing water to John.
"Yes. Do not crave anything because that concentration sends a strong signal. If you find yourself day dreaming, stop because that can trigger craving level concentration. Keep your mind busy, diverse, and shallow. Don't crave." Eejan explains.
"Can we fade here, all of us in this place fade so far they can't find us, and still survive with life as we know it?" Dex inquires, "I'd like to plan, as much as I can under these conditions. I'd rather fade with y'all than go where they will send me."
"If we can get the machine to work independently, then yes, we can fade to hide from them. It will take them years to find our frequency." Mary-Ella smiles, "We will find those that disappeared, bring those still alive back, and then find a way to live with what we have."
"Does it feel weird to anyone besides me that none of use have family living with us that are missing us?" Liam asks, "Are we sure what we are doing, is something we control?"
"Waiting for the end of life is surreal, a horrid surreal." Cleo sighs, "I thought I'd be married by now."
"I have faith our team will find a way to not be found." John pats her on the shoulder as he enters the room.
"I have faith." Dex repeats, "I have that as well."
The room is silent.
"They are still working on a fix." John looks up.
"Yvonne's chills tell us the psychics are very close." Eejan switches his seat nearer the door, "They might be within miles."
"Is it mid morning or midnight?" Doc inquires, "My watch parts are inside the device."
"Midnight." Ruby replies.
"I'm turning on the outdoors tape. Anyone object?" Cody announces, "Let me know if you want a different environment."
Slowly the night sounds return. As if clouds move away, the simulated moonlight becomes brighter. And then, they are on a screened porch over looking the lake. Moonlight shimmers on the surface as bats dart over the dock. Human shapes appear to be dancing, waving their arms to an unseen rhythm. As the sun begins to rise, they appear clearer and clearer...the man from Milton wearing his new hiking boots, the woman from New York with her bright orange, the college student worried what major to declare, the warehouse florist, dentist from Idaho, artist from Austin, lawyer, chef, and, mechanic. All nine of those who disappeared laughing, dancing, hugging, holding hands.
One by one off the porch and join them.