Short Story – Overconfidence

Have you ever thought about how big, how friggin’ humongous, this universe is? I mean, think about it, there are gazillions of planets, hundreds of gazillions for all you and I know. One of those probably has alien life, right? It’s gotta. And, since we a couple of logic using sons-of-bitches here, we probably think one that has alien life probably has a few curious souls, eh? Let’s say a few of them souls, them curious alien souls, on one of them many planets we were just discussing, let’s say one of them uniquely curious aliens got in a spaceship and decided to go exploring. Now, this alien, why don’t we call him Barry?

I know, I know, I know. Aliens should have alien names. My wife’s always tells me, “Kevin, aliens wouldn’t have human names. That’s stupid.” So I ask her, “What then, Rosie, should they have futuristic bizarre sounding names that are all consonant and no vowels? Something like “Gtc’herwfz” or “Knnn?” At this point, she usually shakes her head and walks out of the room. Being a smart man, myself, I realize the flaw in her logic.

Where was I…

Barry. Now, Barry has been to quite a few galaxies. Hell, he thinks of himself as a pretty well travelled alien. What’s that? He wouldn’t think of himself as an alien? Gosh darn! You’re right as rain there, friend. So anyways; Barry, Galaxy Traveller, taking his spaceship for a cruise. Barry loves this ship. He’s named it and everything. So Barry is flying along, well, not flying since he is in space. Do you fly in space? What do you do in space…controlled drifting? I didn’t go to school for this, so bear with me. I didn’t go to school for much. I always say “If my pops didn’t need it, I don’t neither.” I mean kids these days, you know? They think they’ve got the whole world figured out just because they spent some time going to some faaaaaanncyy college getting a faaaannnccyy degree.

You’re right, you’re right, I got distracted. We were talking about Barry with his Controlled Drifting Spaceship. Barry, who decided “Hey, I’ve never been to the Milky Way” and controlled the drifting of his spaceship and ended up in our small corner of the galaxy. So he flies here and looks at our planets and, sitting there looking out of his spaceship window, decides that the blue one looks awfully pretty.

Now, what if there was a farmer, you know, just minding his own gosh darn business. He’s out on his tractor, a really nice John Deere 4052R. Have you seen the specs on the 4052R? Now I’m a Christian man and I don’t mean any harm by this, but if God made a tractor…whoa boy, it might look an awful like a 4052R. So this farmer is cruising along, topping his field and maybe enjoying a beer or two. I don’t condone that sort of thing, of course, drinking beers and driving tractors, but let’s say maybe this farmer was doing that. This farmer, after working all darn day, finally makes it to the furthest field on his property, which just happens to be the field that you can’t see from the house. Now, since this field couldn’t be seen from the house, I don’t think you could blame the farmer if he parked his 4052R and relaxed for a bit with a third or fourth beer. He’s been working all darn day, he deserves it!

So we’ve got this farmer minding his own business in this field that can’t be seen from the house, and we’ve got Barry the Galaxy explorer checking out that pretty blue planet. You following?

Who’s to say that Barry isn’t flying along, he’s flying now that he is on Earth, and sees that farmer sitting out in his really nice John Deere, and doesn’t decide to get a little closer? Surely he would see that JD 4052R and have to get a closer look at such fine machinery. Maybe, you know, Barry thinks to himself how he has never actually MET a human, maybe he thinks it would make for a great story? Barry has travelled though, he’s travelled far more than someone who spent his life growing up on a farm and working for his dad. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I’m just saying that Barry has had adventures, he has stories, he’s done things.

So Barry flips a couple switches, pushes a couple buttons, dingles a couple dongles, and all the sudden that farmer is no longer sitting in his tractor. All of the sudden, the farmer who was just minding his own business having five or six beers after a hard day of work, he is sitting in a room filled with lots of weird equipment that, as far as he is concerned, should be left in the imagination. The farmer starts to look around in earnest, trying to figure out a way out, and that’s when a door opens and in strolls Barry. The two of them get to talking and it turns out Barry and the farmer have quite a lot more in common than they would have believed. Turns out Barry has some beer on board and maybe he and the farmer split a couple space 6-packs and pass out. Who can say for certain?

Which brings us to the here and now.

Here I am, sitting in the middle of my cornfield in the middle of the night. I honestly have no idea how I got here, though I would like to think an alien named Barry had something to do with it. It is pitch black, must be cloudy, since I can’t even see the darn moon and stars. I have no idea which way the house is, since even though this is MY cornfield, I gotta admit I’m usually not out here on foot. No matter which way the house is, however, I am certain Rosie isn’t going to be very happy with me – I am very, very late for dinner.

I think I can just make out the shimmer of light in the distance, a smidge on the horizon that must be our house. I better start walking that way since I have no idea where the tractor is, I’ll have to come back and get it in the morning…I hope I didn’t leave the keys in it again. I mean, even if I did, who is going to steal it way out here, Barry? Ha!

I finally arrive at the house. The lights downstairs are off, which isn’t a good sign since it means Rosie gave up on waiting for me in the kitchen. Whoops. Or maybe she is sitting like my old man used to, waiting in the dark deep past curfew, creaking in that old chair smoking his pipe. I don’t think Rosie smokes a pipe though, so it wouldn’t quite have the same effect. I enter as quietly as I can, but of course the floorboards in the kitchen creak. Have you ever considered that maybe all houses are haunted, and the way the ghosts get their giddies is by creaking floorboards under sneaking spouses? Yes, it might be a bit far fetched. I’ll have to bring it up to Rosie, see what she thinks.

The lights kick on and scare me half to death. I express my fear verbally and I apologize to the Lord Above for taking his name in vain.

Rosie looks at me, her face a mask of sadness and disappointment. I try to keep my eyes focused on her but it turns out all of that beer hasn’t quite worn off. Whoops.

“Kevin,” she sighs, “you reek like beer. Where have you been?”

“Rosie!” I blurt, “I think our floorboards are haunted.”

“Kevin…what? No. Nevermind. I don’t care. Dinner’s in the fridge. I’m going to bed.”

I, of course, follow her. I haven’t even had a chance to tell her about Barry.

“Spacebeer, Rosie. I had some with my new friend Barry.”

At this point I’m just talking to the back of her head as she walks up the stairs, well, usually the back of her head. Sometimes I’m talking to the step directly in front of my face, because these stairs must be haunted too and they keep tripping me up. “Barry, he’s an alien I met from planet…not important.” I carry on, telling her all about the ship, the weird instruments, and the way Earth looks from way up high.

Rosie has somehow already made it to our bedroom. It doesn’t seem fair that the house is only interested in haunting me, and it definitely isn’t fair that the rug in the hallway joined the conspiracy. She pulls the blankets back from her side of the bed and climbs in. “Get some water, Kev.” She reaches over and switches off her lamp and laughs to herself. “And aliens wouldn’t have human names, that’s stupid.”

I finally make my way over to the bed, somewhat gracefully remove my shoes, and tumble into the covers. I think about Barry and wonder what space blankets are like. I need to ask him about space blankets the next time I see him. OH! I should also ask him about ghosts. I bet he will know.

As my head hits the pillow I remember that I didn’t get any water and half laugh/half whimper because future me is going to be so screwed.

It isn’t until I wake up, extremely parched, that I realize just how screwed future me is. Since now Future Me has become Present Me, and I have a few choice words for Past Me. I fear that opening my eyes will cause my head to explode so I decide I can do without seeing. It would be such a mess for Rosie if my head exploded, especially in bed. Sometimes I wonder if she realizes how considerate I am, it’s the little things I do, like not exploding my head in bed. I would at least have the courtesy to explode my head outside.

Eyes closed can’t be that hard; if blind people can do it, so can I! That’s what my Pops always told me. “Son, if blind people can do it, so can you!” This may be paraphrasing, and he may not have been talking about blind people, but that isn’t the point. I don’t remember the point.

I swing my legs to get out of bed and they hit…corn? Now you’re telling me this house is haunting me by surrounding my bed with corn? What an absurd thing to do. What sort of inconsiderate over achieving ghost decided to put in overtime?

I reach over to nudge Rosie awake, she has to see this. Corn! In the bedroom!

My hand collides with more corn where Rosie should be. Corn! In the bed! This is absurd!

I finally open my eyes, surprised my head is still in one piece, and realize that I am actually not in bed. I’m still in the far field that cannot be seen from the house and the sky is working hard to get rid of darkness. At this point I’m actually wishing there had been corn in the bed…because at least then I’d be in bed too.

Did I really just wish for corn in bed? I’m an idiot.

I stumble to my feet and take the Lord’s Name in vain a few more times. Forgive me, Jesus, but sometimes it just slips out.

I check my watch. 3:49 AM.

Rosie is not going to be happy.

 

By Zak Killermann

 

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