The blank page flickered on the screen before me, a solid black line blinking a steady rhythm against the grainy whiteness. I poked at the keys.
It was a dark and stormy night.
I was reaching for the backspace button when something crashed against the back door. I froze, wishing desperately that I could see past my own reflection in the dark window.
A low moan stopped my heart. “H-hel-p me. Please.”
I gripped my cell phone hard. My legs were reluctant to work as I shuffled toward the door. I twisted the lock and then the handle.
A woman hunched against the house, the siding seeming to be the only thing keeping her on her feet. I glanced around for an accomplice, a man with a gun or a ski mask. I saw only the shifting shadows under the trees.
The woman looked up, the porch light hitting a face that was surprisingly young. Surprisingly beautiful. “Help me. Please! They’ve taken my son.”
Any remaining warmth in my body drained out my open mouth. “Who?” The word was only a squeak.
She looked at me, her eyes like burning lasers. “Them.” She turned and disappeared into the darkness. I slammed the door shut and locked it.
Then the inevitable happened. Curiosity bit.
I succumbed to it in little increments, keeping my common sense at bay as I crept to the back fence. The light from the moon seemed oddly bright and orange, illuminating the empty field behind the house and two men struggling with a small child at the far end, moving toward a hulking, mechanical sort of a shadow.
My visitor was running across the field, but just as she drew near them they reached the dark box and it lifted, showing black against the sky before fading into the night.
A sob drifted on the evening breeze and I came to my senses, rushing across the stubble of the field.
“They’ve taken him back.” She wiped her tears and straightened her shoulders, stepping toward some bushes on our left. I followed hesitantly toward a hollow in the brambles. The dark spot seemed almost alive, breathing and shifting in an unintelligible way.
The darkness swallowed us.
When it spit us out into sudden brightness the first thing I noticed was how decidedly out of place I was, and how perfectly in place my escort was. Everything, even the trees and plants around me, seemed to have a sort of wispiness about it, as though it were made of pastel-colored gauze. In the soft green light, I could see the lady’s dress, drifting in the breeze and catching a million colors of sparking light.
“There it is!” The woman’s pointing finger found a tiny dark spot in the teal sky, tiny as a gnat. “Hurry, we must get help before they land.”
“Get help from whom? Where are we?”
“Oh, right.” She sighed. “First things first. I’m Tizia and this is Spanzah.” The first syllable was a short burst of sound, her mouth closing hard on the n, then flying open for a free ahhh, like a firecracker bursting with an explosion of sparking lights. “The men are from Earth and I believe they are experimenting with travel and needed a Spanzanian guide.” She spat. “The cowards kidnapped my child to force him to cooperate.”
In the short time she’d spoken the spaceship had grown alarmingly large. Tizia sprinted away. “Come! My father and husband will help us.”
Help us? Even in my panicked run, I marveled at what I’d become involved in. What I’d been accepted into.
“Hon, I’m home!”
The new voice was out of place. I hesitated, turning back to find the source. In the distance I could see the faint outline of the flickering computer screen. I looked at Tizia.
“You must help me!” Her eyes were churning with light and colors, desperate, yet fading, fading into the distance.
“What’s for dinner?”
The other voice snatched the last bit of Spanzah away and sucked me right down into my computer chair with a plop of reality. I looked into my husband’s very normal brown eyes, then snuck a glance at the word processor, filled with pages of text.
“Dinner.” The numbers on the clock woke me. “I’ll find us something right away.”
I snuck one last glance toward the computer as I hurried for the pantry. Don’t worry Tizia, I’ll help you get your son back tomorrow. We’ll do it together, you and I.
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