Published Fri Jan 26, 2018 | Posted in Stories | By Linda Jenkinson |
Author's note: I have always been a fan of Science Fiction. Written in 1999, this short story is my first venture into that world. It's the story of mis-communication between two travelers: One in need of a substance, the other who would be better off without it.
The old Ford gave one final cough, then shuddered and died. “Oh that’s just great,” Jerry thought, “Ten miles out in the Arizona desert at 2:00 a.m. Like somebody’s gonna stop out here and lend a hand. Be lucky if I don’t freeze to death before morning!”
He reached into his pocket for the tin foil that held his stash, the little blue pills that would make everything better. Minutes later, he had a buzz. He began to get the itch to move, to try to walk the ten miles into town. “Might as well try it,” he reasoned. “Better than freezing out here tonight or frying out here tomorrow.”
It was December 21, the winter solstice. The moon was brighter than it had been for 130 years. The white lines of the deserted highway shone luminous under its glow, giving the desert an eerie, unearthly feeling. Jerry shrugged his body deep into the Nike windbreaker and began the trek into town.
Three quarters of a mile down the road, about 100 yards off to the right side; another traveler had stalled his vehicle, and like Jerry was disembarking to search for help. Moru’s large eyes readily adjusted to the darkness of the moonlit desert. The luminescent white line that had been his guide as he landed his craft was now like a beacon that pointed to help.
“Much warmer here than at home,” he thought. “Hope I can find some help before too long.” The short hairs on his wings bristled as they sucked in the air he would need for take off. His sensors picked up a presence not too far away.
“ Ah,lifeform! Help.” Moru just hoped that the help would be friendly. The slight desert breeze added buoyancy to the Uranian’s body as he lifted in flight.
“Man, this rocket fuel is really something else!” Jerry thought as he loped down the highway. “I'm even getting an audio buzz! Crank it up!” The buzz became louder and louder with each step Jerry took, until he felt that the buzz, the desert and his body had connected into one being.
Moru flew round and around the jogging figure, his wings humming through the silent desert air. He sensed that something wasn’t quite right with this human, but he didn’t know what. As far as he could tell, all Earthlings might be like this one, but there was something odd about this one’s brain pattern; something too fast that created a clicking sensation that was very unsettling to Moru. He decided not to reveal himself until he was certain this human, as they called themselves, would offer the help he needed with no threat to his own safety.
With every step the buzzing grew louder and louder. With every step it grew more annoying. “What is this trash?” Jerry wondered, thinking the tiny twister he had taken caused the buzz. He had only picked up the meth this afternoon and was on his way to Tucson to sell it. In fact, at the price he was going to ask for it, he never would have taken any if he hadn’t become stranded. “This is worse than acid!”
Jerry picked up the pace, trying to leave the incessant buzzing behind him. Moru circled the human, going faster and faster, his body hairs sucking in the desert air and becoming the erect spears that he would use for his defense if worse came to worse. Finally, satisfied that he was inflated to equal the girth of the human, Moru flew quickly to a spot about one hundred feet ahead of the now galloping human.
The buzzing had grown quieter, but it seemed to be coming from some spot ahead of Jerry. He slowed, trying to think. “What to do? If I go back, I might go right back into it. But it’s like it’s settled ahead of me somehow.”
His drug clouded eyes started to pick up some kind of image.“What the hell? This has to be a hallucination! Has to be!”
Moru hovered a foot over the pavement. His fluctuating wings still drumming the air. “Hum. Hum. Hmmmmmm. ” The sound becoming a Mantra, filling the stillness of the desert night.
Jerry couldn’t believe what he was beginning to see. The buzzing was louder again. The intensity grew until it filled every cell in Jerry’s body and now Jerry could see where it originated. The rhythmic pulsations of wings sliced the air as the porcupine-like creature took shape before Jerry’s eyes.
Moru’s golden quills glowed in the moonlight like a thousand-point star. He called out, “Stop human. Listen to me! I’m stranded. I need your help!”
First the buzzing and then the vision. Now the creature opened its mouth and emitted a high pitched screech. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” The sound pierced the night like fingernails on a slate chalkboard.
The sound intensified as the creature desperately pleaded for help. Jerry’s heart began to beat wildly, already over-exerted from the combination of the drug and the running. His ears filled with a sound louder than the highest volume of any boom box. “Too much! ” he thought. “Too much!” The sensations were over powering. His mind and body could no longer withstand the strain and he collapsed to the pavement. His chest pounding, he knew his only chance for help was to somehow make this creature understand that he was overdosing on methamphetamines. "Meth," Jerry gasped, "help, meth."
Now that he had heard the human speak, Moru put the sounds into his translator. He was pleasantly surprised. It appeared that the human did want to help him find fuel. "Yes," he replied. "Meth. meth."
"Help." The word was Jerry's final whisper.
"Yes. You can help," answered the Uranian, but then he noticed the human had gone limp. He had no idea how to revive him, if revival was even an option. He looked around the area, but there was no sign of the rocket fuel – the methane – Moru needed for his ship.
Moru fluttered over the fallen human for a few seconds, slowly deflating to his normal, everyday size. He wondered exactly what had happened. There had been something – not right – about him, but the human had tried to help. Moru was sorry that he had been unable to help the human. He decided that the human may have been running toward a store of meth. Gaining altitude he flew quickly away in the direction that Jerry had been headed. His hairy wings hummed through the stillness of the desert.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
This thread has been closed from taking new comments.