This piece was written specifically for submission to the Piker Press for the Alien-themed issue on August 24th. As usual, this is the rough draft exactly as it flowed from my brain so expect some, well, roughness. The ending especially. I am going on record right now saying that a re-write of the ending is more than a little likely. Suggestions are welcome! Other than that, a pretty fun piece.
Hello. My name is Karl, and I’m an alcoholic. I have been dry for three weeks now, though I did have a close call the other day with a half-empty I found under my bed. Thank heaven I made it to the bathroom and dumped it in the toilet before I lost the strength. I decided to come up here tonight and tell you all how I finally gave up the bottle.
It’s hard for me to say, because a lot of people laugh at me when I tell ‘em this story but I have come to love you guys like the family I ain’t never had, and I feel like I can tell you guys.
See, I was down by the creek watchin’ the fish jump... and I was spending some quality time with my buddy Mogen David (if y’all know what I mean...) I liked watchin’ the fish jump. It makes me feel good knowin’ that they are still alive after that horrible spill at the plant. Also, the cops hardly ever come down there for the smell. So I could sit there and get bombed out of my skull, and nobody would hassle me about public drunkenness or nudity or anything. (I did tell you guys about how being drunk also made my skin real sensitive?)
Well, I was well into my third bottle of Mad Dog when the lake got real quiet. The fish stopped jumpin’ and everything. I felt a little chill, which was weird cause I was still wearing my shirt at this point, and I was wearing my good boxers which are made of real heavy cotton so they normally keep me warm. I looked out over the creek, and even the water in the creek seemed to have stopped. I know it’s kinda hard to tell whether it’s flowin or not under that foamy stuff, but I couldn’t hear the normal gurgles and splashes of the creek sliding over the old car bodies anymore.
The sudden quiet and chill made me so nervous that I killed that bottle right then and there, and realized that it was my last. I was normally pretty good at timing my drinking so that I passed out before the booze was gone, but here I was conscious and nothing more to drink. And it was three more days before food stamp day, at least two of which I had planned to sleep through here by the creek. I started thinking of who I could bum some money off of to get just one more bottle and I stood up and started walking back up the trail towards the road. Before I got far, I heard the sound.
Now, before I go any further, I need to warn you – this next part get’s kind of bizarre. I know y’all have been here before and you will understand. But even so, in all my years of being a drunk, I never had anything like this happen to me. It was just so real! Most of the hallucinations I had while drunk were the normal kind, six-foot rabbits in bikinis trying to seduce me, the fire hydrant outside the bar telling my fortune. The kind of thing you laugh about when you sober up you know? But there ain’t nothing funny about what happened that night. I am getting some goose bumps just thinking about it.
Someone got a smoke I can bum? I just need something to calm my nerves enough to finish my story. Thanks brother, I will get you back next week when I get my paycheck.
That’s much better. I know, I’m just transferrin’ my addiction, but a man’s gotta have a crutch while his broken bone is mending right? There’s no way I can go back to drinking now anyway. Not after what happened after I stood up and started heading back to town.
That’s when I heard the sound. It was kindly like a cross between a whine and a rattle, like a car with squeaky brakes and worn out shocks going over the railroad tracks. Only it kept rising and falling, getting louder then quieter. I stopped to listen, and whether I was paralyzed by fear or hypnotized by the rhythm I can’t tell you now. All I know was that I froze like a statue. My back was to the creek, and I was about ten feet from the treeline. It was long past sundown, and the moon wasn’t up yet so it was pretty dark. But all of a sudden, I could make out every leaf on every tree. It was a strange light, just like the sound. You know how a spotlight looks? Like you can tell where it’s coming from? Even if you are scrunched way down on the floorboards of your car you know the light is coming from the cop car? This wasn’t like that at all. Everything was light as day, but there were no shadows, no way of telling where the source of the light was. And it had an odd purple tint to it, not enough to paint everything purple, just enough to be noticeable. Then the sound got real loud, like it was real close. I realized that it was coming from right behind me and I got the strength to turn around and look.
Give me a second brothers and sisters. I got to take a minute. This is the worst part. My hands are shaking so bad right now I can barely drink my coffee. Did they replace the coffee with espresso or something? Huh? Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood a bit. This next bit is the hardest to remember, let alone tell. Bear with me. I got to tell it, cause it’s been eatin’ me up inside and if I don’t get it out it’s gonna drive me back to drink.
So I turn around to look, and I see it. I know lots of folks call ‘em flying saucers, but this thing didn’t look like no saucer to me. Mebbe a hubcap off of some fancy car with all the chrome spokes and spinny things like kids have nowadays, but with some other weird stuff hanging off all over it. Whatever you want to call it, it was just hoverin’ there over the creek. Makin’ it’s weird noise and that weird light kind of, what you call it? Emanatin’ from it. Like I said, there dint seem to be any one source for the light, it just kind of... yeah, emanated from it. I wanted to run, wanted to run bad but my legs was paralyzed again. I just stood there, watchin it rotate slowly and kind of bobble up and down a bit.
I ain’t ashamed to tell you folks right now, that the only thing on my mind at that moment was another bottle of Mad Dog. I mean, I needed something to calm my nerves quick, and I wasn’t even really sure that my buddy Mogen had what I needed right then, mebbe something stronger even. Some of that expensive stuff that I don’t normally get to drink. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any scareder, just when I thought I was going to pass out from holdin’ my breath while my heart was poundin’ a thousand beats a minute, a door opened in the side of the thing.
I see a couple of you out there are looking a bit skeptical. Henry, if you want to laugh, you ain’t gotta hide it behind your hand. I can hear just fine. That bad batch of moonshine messed with my vision not my hearing. Like you ain’t never had a bad time before you got on the wagon. I heard some stories about you, so you can just knock it off right now. I got to tell this story before it drives me insane, so if you can’t control yourself, just go take a smoke break outside or somethin’. Cause I’m gonna tell my story and I don’t give a hoot who believes it.
I said the door opened up, but that ain’t exactly the way to describe it. You know, in our world doors open up and swing out, or in, or even up or down sometimes like a doggy door. Or they’ll slide off to one side like them automatical doors down to the Krogers. But this door just kindly... umm, well it just kindly opened up. I can’t really describe it too good. One second there was a smooth spot on the side of the... umm... the thing and the next there was big square hole in the side with more of that weird purple light streaming out. That’s when... that’s when...
Whyn’cha just leave Henry! Get out, and take that floozy Tara with you! I thought you guys were my friends, that we could share our stories with each other without judgement and without ridicule. Ain’t that the rules? Marsha? Dint you tell me those was the rules here? We sat here for hours last week listening to Henry whine and whine about how he misses going to the racetrack and I didn’t say a single word. I din’t complain when Tara whined about how she can’t hardly find a date now that she can’t go into the bars anymore. Who wants to date you anyway you used up old...
Sorry Marsha. I just got a bit worked up. You are right. I just been havin a hard time this week. You always say that the third week is the worst, that I jus gotta hang on for one more day. When I decided to tell this story to y’all tonight, while I was dumping that half-empty bottle down the toilet that was what I looked forward to to get me the strength finish. So you can understand if’n I get a bit touchy about that big mouth... no, sorry Henry. I won’t call you anymore names. You been a good friend to me. Until tonight anyway. Mebbe you are having some trouble of your own.
OK Marsha, I will finish my story. Whether Henry and Tara laugh or not, cause I need to get this out and I don’t care what they think about it.
So that’s when it happened. I don’t know for sure how I got on board, I don’t remember moving or walking or anything, but just like the door – one second I’m standing there in the purplish light on the bank of the creek, and the next I’m standin on a smooth floor in a round room. I know how crazy it sounds, but it was just like being in an elevator, only instead of square it was round. I was still paralyzed, whether with fear or with some kind of brain control ray or somethin’ I can’t tell. But I stood there staring at the wall in front of me and feeling that feeling in the pit of my stomach like you get in an elevator. These lights on the wall in front of me even looked like the buttons in an elevator, flashing on and off one at a time from bottom to top.
I just stood there paralyzed and trembling. I had heard stories like this before, but just like you Henry, I laughed them off. I could never believe that little green men in flying saucers came to earth and kidnapped folks. I mean, what for? But here I am, and for all I know it’s happenin’ to me. I tried to remember all of the stories I had heard, about people getting stuff poked into ‘em, having experiments done on ‘em and stuff but pretty soon I realized that was just makin’ me more scared. So I tried to calm myself down. It must have worked pretty good, cause in a minute I could start to move again. I turned in a circle, lookin around me and tryin to figger out what was happenin. Then I saw them.
Henry, I forgive you for being an arrogant arse. No, really. Were I in your seat I would be laughing just as hard as you. Don’t worry about it. I understand.
The little guys were only about three feet tall, and their skin was the same purple color of the light that filled the ship. The were’nt wearin anything as far as I could tell, but mebbe their spacesuits were just really tight or somethin’ like that. Anyway, they was just standin’ there watchin’ me. We stood there like that for what seemed like hours, just starin’ at each other. I must have really been feeling calmer now, cause all of a sudden I got the urge to just stick out my hand to ‘em like Grandma taught me. “Karl” she used to say, “if’n you’re feelin shy, just reach out your hand and say: Howdy” So that’s what I did. I said “Howdy” and stuck out my hand. I must have scared the little buggers though, cause they all jumped and started running around like crazy little ants. Openin’ little doors in the walls and pulling weird lookin’ tools out and wavin’ ‘em at me. Not in a threatenin’ way, but kind of like the bailiff waves the metal detector wand thingy at ya’ when ya’ have to go in the courthouse. Then, while I was watchin’ one aim a camera-lookin thing at me, another one snuck up behind me and poked me with a needle or something. I never did get a look at what he stuck me with, but I’ve had plenty of shots down to the free clinic in town, and I know what it feels like!
After that, I don’t remember anything else. I woke up on the bank of the creek and the sun was shinin’ and the birds were singing and the fish were jumpin again. It was like none of it happened at all.
Now, I know what y’all are thinking. That good ole Karl just had another bender, and that he passed out and slept it off on the banks of the creek and had a bad dream.
And you know, for a few hours, that was what I told myself too. That it was all a dream. That I just needed some “hair of the dog” to make it all disappear again. I thought that so much that I decided that I would wander down to the Krogers and see if I could steal a bottle or two and do just that. I did manage to lift a couple of bottles of Boones, not really as what I needed, but the idea was to get drunk again, and if I slammed them fast enough they just might do it. That was when I discovered what those nasty little purple men had done to me!
Henry, one day you are going to be having a crisis. You will be staring down a bottle of booze and considerin’ whether to stay on the wagon or not. And you are gonna need a friend to call. Well, don’t worry bout callin me, cause I won’t answer. If I do, I’ll go ahead and tell you to drink it. Cause you got no sympathy whatsoever. No Marsha, I ain’t gonna back off this time. Henry has made one too many smartass comments while I been up here bearin my soul to you guys. I ain’t takin it no more. I’m leavin.
You can’t talk me out of it. I’m outta here. I’ll take my chances with the bottle on my own. Y'all can call me when Henry and that wilted flower with him aren’t here and I’ll think about coming back. The rest of you...
© 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved