Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Elroy, did you hear that?"

Elroy, did you hear that?"

Elroy Jenkins looked up from his laptop. "Yep. Sounded like the Air Force playing agin - whippin' the sound barrier around like a bitch. Now would you leave me alone - these corn futures aren't gonna forecast themselves." Elroy went back to playing "Conqueror of Aldos" with the sound turned off.

"That's what I thought, sure enough. Only - the Air Force closed down that fighter wing used ta fly outta the base local, 'cordin' to Emma down at the bar, and boy-howdy is she pissed about it, too. So who's that flyin at mach plus?"

That's about when the windows lit up with reflected fire, and the whole side of the ranch house rattled.


"Well what in tarnation is that?"

"Looks like a spaceship."

"No spaceship I ever saw Elroy, not even in a skiffy movie."

"Well then, Thomas T. Thomasson, since yer the expert on accounta having seen a bunch of science fictional movies, you tell me what it is."

Thomas Thomas Thomasson, whose father had at least been consistent - if not particularly original - in naming schemes, looked at it for a moment, shifted his grip on the M4gery he'd grabbed out of Elroy's gun safe, and after a moment proclaimed in a voice as solemn and drawled out as he could manage - "Waell, I sure reckon it must be a spaceship, then."

Elroy, shifted his shotgun over to one hand, took the slouch hat off his head, and beaned his partner with it. "Dumbass." Then he pointed at where one section of the... whatever it was... had blown out, flattening a nearby bush. "Lookit that. Some kinda hatch or something, you think?"

"Yeah, I think so. Oughtta go take a look, I suppose?"

"Well, if they was hostile, I figure we'd already be paste - or gettin shot at, anyways. And I'll eat my hat if this was a controlled landing - your cousin Elmer flies bettern this, and he's on Beechcraft's Favored Customer list."

"Now, you oughttn't be talking about Elmer that way. Who flew your sister out to Boise when her appendix was gonna explode?" Thomas picked his way through the ruined trees and debris, to where a light - one that wasn't burning wreckage or smoldering trees, at least apparently - flickered. "Say, you suppose we're gettin dosed with radiation or sumptin, poking around all this junk?

"Shush, I heard something. And it damn near did explode on landing, thanks to Elmer. Near as I can figure, if we got zapped, we got it good and hard when this thing crashed, so how much worse can it get?"

The two of them rounded a piece of debris, and looked in to what was self-evidently the control pod or cockpit of the double-wide road train sized spaceship. Inside, a figure - a smallish, blue skinned figure, equipped with an extra pair of arms, and eyes all out of proportion to its slightly oversized head - was working feverishly to try and get out of a crash harness that Elroy figured was more at home on a NASCAR speedway than a spaceship. Or, at least, a science-fictional one.

The pilot, seemingly noticing them for the first time, gasped, spun as much as was possible in its safety harness, and drew and pointed what Elroy presumed was a weapon. Without thinking, the two ranchers whipped their longarms to their shoulders, but Elroy's quick "Hold it." kept either of them from actually shooting.

The blue-skinned pilot looked at them, sighed, and said, haltingly, in an accent that made it plain that it had learned English from television broadcasts "I... I am not supposed to be here at all, yes?"

Elroy looked at the alien pilot through the red-dot he'd acquired two years ago, and said plainly "ayup."

The alien thought for another moment, lowered his weapon, and said "I believe the cliche is... how does it go... ah, yes. 'Take me to your leader.' is that right?"

"That's the cliche, alright."

Elroy thought another moment, and then slung his shotgun. Walking up to the cockpit, he flicked out a knife, and started sawing on one of the restraint straps. "Let's get you outta there, little blue feller. You hungry?"

"I am famished."

"Well, then, we'll see about rustling up some grub. Thomas, put that damn fool thing down, and help me. Say... you eat chicken?"

The alien watched as the other rancher began working on the other side of the restraint harness that was locking him in, and sighed. "I would love some chicken, please."

As First Contacts go, it was better than most.

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