The Farmer and the Falling Star
The lights of the old tractor were just bright enough to see about fifteen feet or so in front and a light on the back lit up the disc harrow he was using; outside of that realm it was pitch black. Jim was a little spooked by the darkness, being alone in the field. He was thinking about eerie things he had been told about down through his short twenty-three years on earth. Even at his age, he was vulnerable to get spooked now and then. There were more stories from the past coming to recall, than nerve right now but, he even thought it a bit silly at times that he could be influenced by folklore still.
The stars were out but, there was no moon though. An occasional car passing on the highway which was about three eighths of a mile or so away was the only interruption of the darkness; as far as Jim was concerned, it might as well have been two thousand miles away. It had been dark for about an hour and a half and Jim, casually thinking, wondered to himself, why he had to be out at night plowing anyway but, he already knew the answer to that. His dad and uncle who owned the farm they had bought from their grandfather, worked full time jobs, as did Jim, a welder by trade, and needed it plowed so they could start planting the next day while they were off from work. He shared in the profits and got to live on the farm for free. Besides, he was a lot younger than them.
Jim lived alone on the farm, in the old clap board house, weathered grey by time and the fact that paint had probably never touched the wood. The old sheet tin roof was rusted in a few places. Off the right side and behind the house, about a hundred feet down a little foot trail worn in the grass, was a barn, and to its right was a chicken coop and a little farther was a pole shed with a tin roof, where the tractor and other equipment where kept. To the left of the barn was another building about forty feet long, of which half was a wire enclosed chicken roost and the other half was used for storage.
Every now and then he would catch a shadowy movement out of the corner of his eye, which was probably whitetail deer running in the field, or an owl would fly into the light of the tractor, chasing a mouse and scare the crap out of him.
Jim didn’t really mind working on the farm, especially running the tractor, because it gave him time to think about things that he might someday do. He was fairly content for the most part with his life as a country boy. The farm had been a big part of his life since he was a small boy. He had always liked machinery and such and was quick to learn. He was driving his dad’s pick-up and the tractor by the time he was ten. He had even taken a stab at plowing with a mule before his great grandfather died.
He thought quite often of his granddaddy, as he referred to him; he was a quite man without much to say most of the time but, when he did say something, you could take it to the bank. Jim remembered sitting in granddaddies room as he called it or the sitting room as granny called it. If it happened to be winter time, when you opened the door and stepped into the room, the heat would almost stop you in your tracks and take your breath away. You always had the reaction of “damn, its hot in here, you ain’t to hot are you granddaddy”? Of course he would say it was alright to him but, we could leave the door open and cool it off a little, if it was to hot for us, we would. Then we made small talk a few minutes and the conversation would fall silent for a while and the only sound that could be heard was the steady tick tock of the old pendulum clock sitting on the mantle. We would sit, occasionally glancing out the window, listening to the steady rhythm, quite content with the silence, and the company.
Every now and then you could get him to talk about things that happened in the old days. It was hard for Jim to fathom at times but, his grandfather had been born in the time of the horse and buggy, back in eighteen-eighty six, almost a hundred years ago at that time. A farmer all his life, he had only worked with the mule and plow. He had never in all those years learned to drive a car or use the tractor; well, Jim’s dad had said he could drive a little but, just never wanted to.
He had seen a lot of history in his time; when he was born, Grover Cleveland was president, the Indian wars out west had not ended yet, and he lived trough the great depression. During his lifetime, the U.S. had been to war several times. Jim remembered him telling how, when he was a young boy, they would only make one trip a month into town with the horse and wagon to get supplies for the month, being it was about fifteen miles from the farm where he grew up. They would go one day, spend the night in town and go back home the next.
Jim had missed three years of his grandfather’s life when he was in the army. Because he had gotten a little antsy in his relationship with his father and wanted to do his own thing, he joined when he was seventeen. Jim got out of service when he was twenty and soon after his grandfather died and within a year, his grandmother. Jim missed them both and thought of them often, especially when he sat alone at night in the sitting room listening to the clock.
It was about eleven o’clock when he finished plowing the field and made the short trip through the field back to the shed where the tractor was kept. Jim had been in the field since he got off work that afternoon and was tired and a little hungry, so he fixed himself a late dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread, with a glass of iced sweet tea. He put on a small pot of coffee to be brewing while he ate and watched the tube. He watched the news for most of the evening broadcast, till the weather forecaster was done, then got a cup of coffee and started flipping through the channels trying to find something interesting to watch. He finally settled on an old John Wayne western ‘Rio Bravo’ that was about to start. He was plenty tired but, not sleepy; the noise of the tractor was still ringing slightly in his ears.
It was about one in the morning when the movie ended. He was almost ready to hit the hay now, so he poured another cup of java and went out on the porch and sat down in one of the wooden rockers, lit up a smoke and propped his feet up on an old wooden crate he used for an ottoman. Rocking gently, not thinking to intently about anything, he took another drag off his cigarette and another sip of coffee. The house sat off the highway about a half-mile or so. A semi-truck came along the highway from the left pulling the slight grade and its noise soon fell silent into the distance.
A low hanging moderate fog had moved in and settled in the fields and around the house but, you could see the stars readily enough. He happened to be looking at the North Star when a bright flare of light burst forth suddenly in the sky, causing him to blink both eyes involuntarily when it startled him. He thought at first it was a shooting star but, it wasn’t burning out, in fact it seemed to be getting brighter and larger.
The thought that it might be some kind of aircraft in trouble or possibly a military experiment quickly crossed his mind. That didn’t matter that much at the moment; this thing was getting larger and closer by the second. He could see a flame trail now and the color was different now, it was flaming blue and as it got within a few hundred feet of impact it looked to be the size of a large Cadillac at first glance, and it was heading straight toward Jim. Running, he dove off the porch and landed over near the chinaberry tree about fifteen feet off the end of the porch. When he was making his leap to safety, he could hear the impact and ultimate destruction of his house. Oddly enough he heard the noise of the house going to pieces and the hard crashing thud of the object hitting the ground but, not an actual explosion.
Jim rolled to his side and looking through the fog to where the house once was; saw debris scattered all around. There was the acrid smell of smoke and a few small flames at random but, nothing big. For all the noise and commotion that had recently occurred, it was quite now. Jim stood up and looked down toward the barn area. There was a trench dug out from where the back of the house used to be, down to about parallel with the barn. It took out the chicken roost and storage house but stopped shortly afterwards.
Jim had made his way down to the hole and mound of dirt. It was hot like coals of a bonfire; on the backside of the mound, it had the appearance of mud that had cracked in a dry riverbed, with a dull red glow between the cracks, like half expired charcoal. It was still quite warm and Jim wasn’t going to get any closer till he had a good idea what this was. Under the circumstances of the moment, he thought it was a meteor of some type.
Jim’s heartbeat had just settled down to a half-way normal pace and he was getting used to the idea that it was just a random large meteorite, when he saw what appeared to be a small puff of steam or smoke come from the meteor. Some of the cracked crust was starting to fall away from it, and the rectangle shape of an opening appears with illuminating light from around the edges as it appeared to be opening.
Up until this point, the chain of events had already been unsettling enough, and within reason but, this was starting to scare the shit out of Jim now! His military training was kicking in now, and I don’t mean the part, ‘speak softly and carry a big stick’ but, he was going to seek cover and assess the over all situation…in other words, haul ass and hide.
Jim ran back to where the remains of the house were and surprisingly saw his bed, completely intact, with the sheets and jumped under it and looked back toward the hole. He hadn’t noticed up until this point, the moon had come out and was close to full. Through the smoke and fog which was still hanging close to the ground, he saw that with the exception of a partial wall and the remains of a splintered kitchen he was on the open floor of his house surrounded by debris.
It was at this point that he saw what looked like the top of a door, with light shining up from below. It was aluminum like in color. What he saw next almost made him crap. A predator like creature was coming out of the hole looking around; it paused briefly at the top of the crater. It was big and ugly and menacing in appearance. It moved on and started walking through the debris of the house in a slow, methodical searching manner as if it was looking for something in particular.
Jim was watching him intently from under the bed, hoping the hell he wasn’t looking for him. He would see the creature bend down on occasion, pilfering through the debris, pick up items and throw things down. It was so eerie looking through the smoke and fog watching this alien being move freely at will; and Jim was under the bed with no way to even defend himself. Suddenly the creature was walking toward his location.
Jim’s heartbeat was racing wildly now, he was so afraid the creature would hear his heart thumping against the boards he was laying on, or hear his breath as he tried to control his panicked emotions. The creature seemed to take a particular interest in the bed, maybe because it was one of the few things still intact. He walked around it ever so slowly; Jim could hear him as he walked behind him stepping on small pieces of glass and wood, then Jim saw its feet come into view to his left, continuing around and stop, just inches in front of him. Looking upon the creature’s feet, suddenly a rage exploded in him; 'THE SON OF A BITCH WAS WEARING HIS OSTRICH SKIN COWBOY BOOTS'!
Jim jumped up, throwing the bed high into the air; totally catching the alien off guard. Jim took a martial arts stance, did his best Bruce Lee scream, rammed his hand and forearm deep into the creatures chest and snatched out it’s …. Liver?... or something, he threw that down, rammed his hand and forearm in again and snatched out his heart and thrust it in the face of the creature for him to see, still pulsating. The creature only made a slight grunt and then fell backwards, falling to the ground lifelessly.
Jim reached down and pulled the boots from the creatures feet and said,” the slimy frog legged bastard wasn’t even wearing socks,…some bitch!
Copyright©2009 Mit Kroy
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