Story, dialog and Martians

“So in reality, we aren’t walking down this road together,” Rena continued. “In reality, we are in the Martian’s laboratory and they’re just projecting the images we’re seeing.” She had been telling Dawn about the Ray Bradbury story she had just read. They had met up at the clearing in the woods known as “The Place”. They often went there to get away from the prying eyes of adults, to smoke cigarettes and whatever weed they had been able to score, and to tell each other their secrets. Later, they had decided to walk down to the little store for sodas. It was a beautiful Saturday in June and school would be out in a week.
“But I can feel my feet on the road” Dawn said doubtfully.
“Ah, you think you can because they pulled that sensation out of your memory with their telepathic abilities. Actually, we’re walking on the surface of Mars, and it’s like 15 feet lower than we think we are now.”

“So we’re walking in mid-air,” Skeptical now.

“No, we’re walking on Mars, across the Martian desert, but we think we’re walking up this hill on this road in Maryland. We think we see those houses over there, and these trees, and we think we hear those birds, but it’s all an illusion pulled from our memories. In reality, on Mars, it’s completely flat, no hills, and we’re walking across this red plain, but we think we’re on this road going up and down.” Dawn looked around doubtfully.

“But I can feel it,” she said, bending over and touching the pavement. She was high and was a bit wobbly standing back up, grabbing Rena for support and sending the two girls into giggles.

“Pulled from your memories. They perfectly replicated what you would expect to see, feel and hear so you have no reason to suspect that you’re really on Mars.”

“But why?”

“I think it’s an experiment.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They abducted us and now they’re running tests on their pet humans. They lull us into complacency so we think that we’re just living our lives like normal, but the whole time they’re observing us, so act like you don’t know.” Rena was really getting into it now because she could see her friend was starting to get a little freaked out.

“They’re watching us? Well what are they going to do when they’re finished studying us?” Dawn was getting more anxious by the minute.

“In the story they killed them.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They took them back to what they thought were their homes, because it looked just like their homes. The Martians were disguised as their family, people they know, and there was no way to tell.” Dawn had started crying, setting Rena off into another round of giggles.

“Why are you laughing? They’re going to kill us!” It took a herculean effort for Rena to get her giggles down to snickers.

“When we go home we should act like we don’t know. Act like they’re your real family and that everything is normal.”

“We should run,” Dawn whispered. The two girls looked at each other and suddenly sprinted down the rural road, past the disapproving glare of Mrs. Beckerson where she stood in her front yard watering her garden.

“Martian!” Dawn screamed as she ran past the old lady. At that they both burst into laughter, laughing so hard they had to stop outside the store to catch their breath.

They walked into the store under the watchful eyes of Mr. Patel. The friends exchanged glances and smirked. After they paid for their sodas the girls slowly started back. The subject changed to school and their love lives and the girls made plans to meet up again the following day.

“Watch out for Martians!” Rena yelled, walking backwards down the lane. Dawn waved as she headed for home.

 

 

Advertisements

Night

I have always loved being out in the night. I grew up in a very rural area and it was never hard to find a place that was truly dark. Living along the Chesapeake Bay, I’ve spent more nights than I can remember listening to the sound of the waves lapping against the beach, scattering driftwood and debris across the rocky sand as the tide rose. The water is inky black at night, with sparks of light from the docks, or the moon, or simply the stars. There is a sound to the night that I’ve always found hard to describe. It’s like noises echo differently in the darkness, but there is also a sort of low pitched hum that sends waves of yearning through me. I never knew for what, but I think it was just adventure, romance, drama, all those things that make you feel alive like nothing else in your life. All those things that make you feel young and electric, and that so many people discard as they grow older. I can feel this hum quickening my blood, filling me with possibilities and making me drunk with need. It’s a little like delirium, bubbling up through me and making me fey.

My friend used to call me the dangerous type, but these nights were the only time I actually felt dangerous. I felt like I was overflowing with possibilities, with sensuality and a certain kind of violence, and I believed that anything could happen. My impulsivity bubbled up and I would let go of the reins just to see what might happen. I think the cover of darkness allowed me to be my real self, my wild core that most never get to touch. That’s where a feral child of the forest still lives. She knows that the world is full of magic and that magic is often dark and razor-edged. That child has rituals to keep the world in order.

It’s not just the sound of darkness, though. It’s all senses being engaged differently at night. The wind on a summer night carries a promise that the daylight lacks, and the feel of it on my skin is soothing even as all my nerve endings are on alert. It promises so much. I miss the moon.

Camping

They had hiked miles into the forest, deep into the cool dim green of the Blue Ridge mountains. Kayla’s father had set the tent up near a mountain stream and they hadn’t seen other people since leaving the trail that morning. A fire pit was built near the tent, backpacks were strung up in the trees and perishables submerged in the icy cold of the stream. That night as the adults sat around the fire, she heard her father say he was going to put meat out to attract the bears. She had seen bears before. large black lumbering shapes sometimes raiding the trash cans at the picnic areas, but she had never seen one up close. Kayla pictured herself befriending the bear, sinking her fingers into the thick fur to scratch behind its ears. The bear would carry her into the forest on his back and show her secret things. Her new friend would protect her, roaring his disapproval at her father’s dark temper. She wondered what the bear’s name was.

Kayla wiggled into a sleeping back in the tent for sleep. Her mother smoothed Kayla’s fine blonde hair back and kissed her forehead. She thought her mother was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen and was filled with a fierce, helpless love as she looked up at her. Her mother was unhappy sometimes and during those times nothing Kayla did could earn her mother’s smile. Today she had been happy and smiling though, so Kayla relaxed and fell asleep to the sound of night insects, cracking branches and the uneven drip of acorns hitting the tent.

She was pulled out of sleep suddenly. It was pitch black inside the tent and she was alone. Her head was pressed against the back wall of the tent, and she felt something moving on the other side of the orange fabric. There was a low snuffling sound only inches away, and Kayla felt something large outside the tent, pressing against her head. She froze, feeling it slowly slide across the top of her head. It seemed to take forever to pass while Kayla lay perfectly still, trying not to breathe. She heard odd groaning noises, and moving as quietly as she could, she squirmed her way out of the sleeping bag and crawled to the door of the tent. Whatever was out there was big, and she tried to quell the fear gibbering in her mind. She pushed one flap aside and saw her parents standing by the fire in the darkness. They were silent but her mother saw her and beckoned her near. There was a large black bear on the other side of the camp fire, just past the tent where Kayla had been sleeping. Her mother put her arm around her shoulders, and Kayla rested her head against her mother’s hip, watching the bear smelling the leaves. He seemed enormous to Kayla and his eyes mirrored the firelight.