Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Other Roswell Incident



By James W. Allmon

Edgar Jensen, you drunken fool, you’d better not forget the dang tree again this year!” The shrill harpy-like voice of his wife Madge shot through his head like fingernails on a chalkboard. He winced as he pulled himself up onto the bony swayback of Ol’ Bess, his long in the tooth, but still reliable mule.

“Yes dear.” he said noncommittally. Edgar heard her, but his mind was on the frosty beer the boys down at the Lazy A Bar over in Roswell had lined up. It was time for their annual Christmas Hootenanny and chili cook off and he couldn’t wait to get his taste buds seared to perfection with Cookie’s Horned Toad Chili then cooled down with several frosty mugs of Blatz. It was as close to heaven as he supposed he’d ever get.

“I mean it, you old coot! If you don’t get that tree, you and that walking jerky factory had better not show yourselves back here. The grand kids are comin’ and they need something to put presents under!”

Edgar sighed and gently nudged his mule in the direction of town. It was a long way, so he’d better get to it.

* * *

“Zisnak! Are you listening to me? We need to hurry up and get to that place where your stupid brother and his drunken friends crashed so we can set up the beacon! Zisnak? Do you hear me?” Zisnak Hlpsnk shuddered as the shrieking voice of his nagging wife cut into his reverie of the good times he and his buddies were going to have on their R&R next week. Without wives!

“Yes dear.” he said cautiously as he rubbed his nearly shattered eardrum. She wasn’t a bad woman. Just a little intense. Yeah, that’s it. Intense.

“Good. We have to find the exact spot or the sub-ether transponder won’t allow the wormhole to open and allow our battle fleet to come through so we can take over this world! Remember, you fool, it must be within a three meter radius or the fleet will be shunted to who knows where!”

Okay, maybe more than intense. Borderline nagging, perhaps, but she was the commander of this mission after all.

“Is it ready to deploy, Cholnak?”

“Of course it is! Do you think I’m incompetent, my dear husband?” Her derisive tone was a bit much. Oh well. Next week is coming and the pristine beaches of Sagitarian IV were calling. Zisnak sighed wistfully. It can’t get here soon enough.

* * * 

The boys at the Lazy A Bar were in rare form. They murdered several old favorite Christmas carols with a wanton display of off key blaring while belching and farting their way through several kegs of Blatz and gallons of the meanest chili that ever oozed up from the fiery pits of hell. The air was an evil shade of blue and it was a good thing there were no open flames within a three-mile radius.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Especially when Stu Whitman fell into the two holer out back and they had to lasso his legs to haul him out. Even after they tossed him in the watering trough he was too ripe to allow back inside so they passed his mugs through the window to him. You can’t allow even a stinking man to go without libation. That would be downright uncivilized!

The hooting and hollering continued unabated well into the night and even the coyotes and crickets joined the chorus. It was certainly a night to remember, that December 23, 1947 local Earth time. Interestingly, no one but a lone scraggly prairie dog noticed a small star that was headed over toward Edgar’s ranch.

* * *

“Prepare landing sequence and put some fresh batteries into one of the little gray drones. We can’t have a repeat of the last time when one fell over and was taken by their military. I still say your brother should have paid for that one!” screeched Cholnak.

Zisnak winced, but only said, “Yes dear.”

“Yes dear! Yes dear! Is that all you can say?”

“Ummm…”

“Never mind. Just get busy!”

Zisnak opened the bulbous gray head of a drone and slipped two cylindrical batteries into the sockets inside. The batteries were DurableCells, the only kind Intergalactic Hyper Scouts ever used! After snapping shut he switched the creepy little droid on. The thing turned its large black eyes on him and simply stared. Zisnak shuddered. He never liked this model. He much preferred the more voluptuous MK XII that came complete with Seduction Pack 8. He thought it was much better for abduction purposes. Oh well, it wasn’t his call. Bureaucrats and back room deals ruled the galaxy after all.

“The drone is ready.”

“Good. Give him the beacon and have him mount it to that indigenous plant right over there.” Cholnak pointed to a scrubby little tree sheltered by a large rock. “It should be safe there until morning when the invasion begins! Hail to the conquerors!” She punched the sky and hooted with unbridled glee.

Zisnak looked sideways at his wife and commander and wisely kept his mouth firmly shut.

* * *

The revelry, like all good things, finally came to a close. Cookie swept out the last of the drunken ranchers and began to muck out the overflowing spittoons. He smiled and hummed Jingle Bells and chalked up another great time with the boys.

Edgar crawled up onto the back of Ol’ Bess and weaved uncertainly back and forth until he grasped the saddle horn to stabilize the rough seas his mule was sailing through. At least that’s what it felt like to him. Ol’ Bess took it in stride like she always did. Nothing fazed her.

Edgar blearily focused on a pair of Cookies until they merged into one. He hiccuped, belched and said, “Merry Christmas Cookie! ‘Mon muh way home now. Gotta git a tree or the old hen’ll skin me alive!”

Cookie smiled and said, “Good night Edgar. It’s a dang good thing Ol’ Bess knows where the barn is! Now don’t go falling off and getting lost out there.”

“Won’t”, Edgar said under his breath. As his mule carried him past the watering trough he noticed Stu sprawled out beside it with a pair of skunks curled into his armpits, snoozing like smelly little babies.

* * *

Zisnak handed the drone a bright five-pointed golden object and a string of bright green, yellow and red lights and instructed it to attach them to the vegetation. The drone looked blankly at him and didn’t move.

“Kritslak!” he cursed and kicked the drone between its lower appendages in order to restart its motor functions. The drone gave an audible sound like someone sucking on a lemon and moved toward the airlock to complete it’s assigned task. It was limping noticeably.

“The drone is deployed, my darling commander wife.” he said.

“It’s about time!”

They watched through the glass dome of their saucer shaped ship as the drone shuffled to the scruffy tree and began to attach the signaling apparatus. When the last orb was attached the drone plugged the end of the light string into the side of the tree. The lights began to glow and the five-pointed beacon was satisfyingly golden in the night.

“The biometric power of the shrubbery should produce enough energy to guide the fleet straight here. At last we will overcome another planet to build a new hyper mall! The shopping will be amazing!” Cholnak’s eyes gleamed with what could only be called maniacal glee. Zisnak privately mourned the fate of his Galactic Express card. He was glad he left home without it.

“When the drone is back on board we’ll rejoin our glorious forces for the attack to come!”

Zisnak rolled his eyes, but only after his wife and commander turned her attention to the flight preparations. “Yes dear.” he said.

* * *

The miles went by very slowly for Edgar’s bladder and finally he couldn’t take it anymore. “Whoa, old girl. I have to take a moment or you won’t like me much.” The bowlegged mule stopped beside a large boulder and Edgar slid unceremoniously to the ground wile giggling like a drunken cowboy. Which was perfectly in order, given the state and employment he was in.

After he finished his necessities he stood swaying like a sapling in a stiff breeze. He noticed it was a bit bright on the other side of the boulder and staggered around to see if someone was camping out for the night.

Instead of a campsite he saw a forlorn looking tree bent under the weight of some lights and a beautiful golden star. “Well, I’ll be dipped in… Bess! Come over here you old mule! Look at this! It’s a Christmas tree right here in the middle of the dang scrub!”

The mule poked her head around the boulder and gazed without a hint of interest in what had gotten Edgar all riled up. The barely sober cowboy tried to dance a jig, but managed to trip over himself and fell flat on his nose.

After several moments of writhing and cursing, Edgar pulled himself to his feet with a Herculean effort and glared at the mule. “You’d better not laugh!” She didn’t.

“Well, one thing’s for sure. I don’t need an axe or anything, This thing is scrawny enough to pull up by the roots.” Without further ado, he proceeded to do just that. It was a smallish thing, but kind of cute, he thought.

“I think the wife’ll like it just fine. What do you think, Ol’ Bess?” The mule silently approved. “Good! Let’s get ‘er home then.”

Neither Edgar nor Ol’ Bess considered it strange that the lights on the tree continued to glow even after it was strapped to the bedroll on the back of the saddle as they moseyed the last few miles across the scrub toward home.

* * *

“Commander, the fleet is preparing to drop out of the wormhole and begin our attack on the planet Earth!”

The Supreme Commander, resplendent in his black and purple Battle Toga smiled at his second in command. “Thank you. You may proceed with the attack.” He took another sip of his steaming cup of gluh. “Mmmm, it’s good to the last sip!” he muttered.

A hideous alarm blasted his reverie into oblivion and the navigator screamed fearfully that the beacon wasn’t where it should be! “Wha..” was all he managed to articulate before the wormhole collapsed and the entire fleet was ricocheted like a well hit billiard ball into the left pocket of the universe.

* * *

Edgar nursed an epic hangover as he and Madge sat back in their favorite chairs sipping coffee. Their grandchildren put brightly wrapped presents under the odd little tree with the strangely glowing lights. Tomorrow was Christmas and it would be a nice one this year. Their new Victrola was playing the best holiday music and it was a beautiful day, without a doubt. 

Suddenly there was a burst of static on the radio and a faint voice could be heard screaming. 

“Zisnak, if we ever find our way home again, I’m going back to my mother!”

“What in the world was that?” Madge asked as the music suddenly resumed.

“I have no idea.” Edgar said, shaking his head and immediately regretting it.

Yes, it was a beautiful life!


Art and story by James W. Allmon ©2009