The Encounter: Part I
Here is something different for this blog. This is a short science fiction story that I wrote about a year ago. Enjoy!
Debbie still dreaded the ride home. Despite having worked the 3:00 to 11:00pm shift at the local hospital for fifteen years Debbie still had trepidations with the twenty minute drive home through the country side. The scenery on the drive between the hospital that straddled the edge of town and the small ranch house in the country she shared with her husband consisted of rolling hills, farmland and forests. Each season during the daylight hours the road was like a tranquil painted landscape for her to enjoy on her way to work. The trip home on the other hand gave Debbie’s sensitive nerves and over active imagination ample opportunity to run away with her. This time of year, late autumn, when all the leaves have been vanquished from the trees and the bare skeletal branches swayed with the rhythms of the chilly November winds was the time that Debbie dreaded the most.
Thanksgiving was just two days away and she was so pleased that she had secured that coveted day off giving her three straight days that she could spend with her family. Her husband also worked the same shift as a manager at a local shopping center. Since he too would have Thanksgiving off Debbie was enthusiastic and more relaxed at the start of tonight’s ride home. The weather had been unseasonably warm for a typical November and although most of the day itself had been sunny the evening hours brought a cold front sweeping through the area with heavy wind driven rain. Although the rain had tapered off to a misty drizzle by the time Debbie pulled her car out of the lot the roads were slippery and the low lying heavy cumulus clouds choked the evening air.
More exhausted than usual from her difficult shift Debbie allowed the car to warm up while she attempted to engage in her usual ritual of calling her husband on her cell phone to tell him she was on her way home. When she dug her cell phone out of her cluttered purse despair and frustration took over her as she swiftly realized that it had gone dead due to her failure once again to make sure it was fully charged before work. Not having her cell phone available for her sojourn home filled Debbie with anxiety. She was a petite woman and this constantly left her feeling vulnerable to anyone that may want to take advantage of her. Since her car was old and not always dependable and with a dead cell phone that had no chance or resuscitation until she got home, her anxiety grew exponentially as her imagination began running unrestrained with all the potential calamities that could happen to her on the winding road home.
To sooth her tattered nerves she turned on her radio and searched the dial for something to listen to. The first station she found was one with conservative talk radio. For a moment she thought about leaving it on because she was so tired she thought that the talk show host’s blathering rants would keep her awake until it dawned on her that his bombastic and irrational tactics would enrage her to the point she would probably snap at her husband as soon as she walked through the door. She settled on a station that plays light classical music and she immediately found that it gave solace to her tired and tattered nerves. She also realized that the music kept in time to the swishing of the windshield wiper blades. She noted that they needed to be replaced as they smeared and stained the windshield with the leaves and streaks from the mist of the rain leaving it more difficult to see the road.
With warmth from the car heater and the soothing strains of “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background Debbie found herself less tense and anxious although this relaxed state made her feel more sleepy. There were not many street lights lining the country road and one of the first sections of the highway that she passed through was a heavily wooded section where the toes of forest nearly crept to the edge of the road. This time of year Debbie also knew to keep a watchful eye on the side of the road because deer were well known to dart across the road without any notice. In order to ensure that she would remain alert she turned down the heat a notch and turned up the radio.
About half-way home, Debbie reached a bend in the road and noticed that coming from around the bend were strange white, green, yellow and red flashing lights. The lights seemed brighter than what she had experienced before whenever a road crew has been working at night. She wondered what could have happened? Had their been an accident, a power line down, a tree fallen across the road?
She didn’t have long to contemplate and although she cautiously slowed down as she rounded the bend she was soon upon a very strange scene. Straddling the shoulder of the road was a rather large vehicle that proved to be the source of the flashing lights. The lights were blinding and seemed to be set all over the vehicle. Because of the brightness of the lights Debbie could not determine the design of the vehicle itself. It could have been anything. She could not tell if it was a repair truck or a fire truck or some other vehicle that either the city or the county owned. Standing in the road near the vehicle were a pair of figures with some type of oddly-shaped flashlights in their hands. She slowed down her car to a snail’s pace and looked around while simultaneously trying to shield her eyes from the assault of the bright lights. She could not detect anything out of the ordinary.
Her heartbeat had quickened when she first saw the lights and her tension began to rise once more. She came to a complete stop and noticed one of the figures began walking toward her. She was about to roll her window down to speak with this person when for no apparent justifiable reason she was gripped with fear. She sat frozen hugging her steering wheel as the figure slowly approached her. It stopped near the hood of her car just left of her headlights. Despite the flashing lights, or because of them, she could not see many details. She noticed this figure was rather short and couldn’t have been more than five feet two inches tall.
…the Conclusion on Wednesday.