(Chapter 3 of Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard)
Day 2. Over-the-hill rock star and gravely injured alien interloper on life support.
I was up at the crack of dawn, to see my guest looking intently at me with her large octopus eyes. She had survived the night, surprise surprise. She looked alert, yet inert. Just lying there, kind of deflated looking, but her eyes on the eyestalks were wide open and looking all over. What did she most need? For me in the morning, it’s take a pee, get some coffee, and avoid looking in the mirror.
She chirped and squeaked a little ditty, waving two tentacles in harmony with her speech. One tentacle in a little corkscrew, then straightened it out pointing it at something. Against one side was a gadget that looked like a coiled hose with a complicated valve on the end. She wanted that. I pulled it over. She pointed to a place in her metal can midriff, and I surmised she wanted me to plug this thing in there. I could hear a slight sound from the device, like it was beginning to operate. Amazing to me that there were systems on this vessel that were still able to function after its horrific crash. And it was upside down. You’d think, how could it work upside down. But as I thought about it, it struck me that space vessels operate mostly in zero-gravity situations. Up and down are not constants. So things did work somewhat.
Presumably this was breakfast. Automatically dispensed food. After I plugged it into her side, she got visibly “reflated” looking in a short time.
Even before the sun came up over the east ridge, I heard my compatriots returning. Clay’s unmistakable old Dodge pickup, and a second one. Deep, throaty, powerful sound. Could only be Sheriff Jim’s gargantuan pick up. Yep, there was wife Meg’s piercing voice. “Here’s her jeep. She must have stayed here all night!” Then a third I couldn’t identify. Doc’s van?
They all tromped down past the poison oak and piled in through the gap in the side of the vessel, trying to get in simultaneously, all flashlights and clumping boots. They spotted me and my “patient,” and all started talking at once.
Sheriff Jim spoke loudest, voicing his concerns. “I’m really nervous about concealing this vessel, and these aliens. I don’t know if we can avoid calling in the authorities on this. We can’t have something like this here, on my watch.”
“Jim, you are our authority here,” asserted Clay. “So we’ve got that covered. And if I’m not mistaken, if something from outer space falls on your property—unless it belongs to some government—it belongs to the property owner. So this whole thing is rightfully Selena’s.”
Jim was puffing up his chest to rebut this claim, but the others kind of shushed him down, and he stood there fidgeting and humphing, caught between close friends and more distant professional demands.
Meg is the most excitable one, but she’d apparently been clued in by hubby Jim—Mr. Laconic. I think she viewed our visitor more as a wounded wild animal.
“Why don’t you have it restrained?” she asked.
Looking at the poor thing, I saw it trembling and vibrating its tentacles. Trying to move away from us. “She’s terrified!” I cried. “We’re worried about what it might do to us, but we’ve got it outnumbered.”
Doc said, “C’mon, help me carry stuff down.” Jim and Clay went up to his van with him, and Meg started tidying things up, which were of course in an impossible jumble. The guys brought a van load of stuff back down. They rolled a gurney down the bumpy path, the kind that they rescue people who’ve been in an accident. They haul them off to the ambulance—or hearse. Along with it was an IV set, and a bunch of blankets. Then on a second trip, they brought down a propane heater. The third trip, they wheeled down a diesel generator.
Everyone bustled around, helping set things up so that Breadbox could be comfortable. Just like practiced paramedics, we lifted Breadbox up on to the gurney.
Doc was really getting into this. We’d soon have a makeshift ICU set up here under my big oak tree.
Meg had been asking nervously if this was wise. “Shouldn’t we get her to a hospital? Even if just Doc’s veterinary hospital?”
I pointed out the tube connecting her to her vessel. “I think she needs to be connected to this, for now. Don’t see how we could transport this. Do you?”
“Maybe the whole thing could be moved,” said Meg.
“They’d screw it up,” Doc cut in. “They’d be more interested in others things than saving her. To them, she’s as valuable dead as alive.”
“So who’s ‘they’”? asked Jim.
Doc looked him right in the eye. “We all dang well know who ‘they’ are, now don’t we, Jim?” In these parts, “they” refers to “heartless intrusive pushy government authorities.” “You’re all the government we need, Jim.”
Clay jumped in. “This means a lot to Selena. If we bring in government experts, she’ll get pushed aside. For right now, we’ve got to do what we can. Later, after things get stabilized, that’s the time to bring in others.”
“So are we now going to devote our lives to caring for this creature?” asked Meg. “I for one, can’t do that.”
Silence. Then me. “I can be the point person on this. After all, it happened on my property.”
“I’m on board,” proclaimed Doc.
“Quite an interesting veterinary challenge, eh?” said Clay. “Don’t you want to bring in a real doc?”
Doc glowered at him. “Just kidding, Doc,” added Clay quickly. “Why would a medical doctor be any better than you?”
Doc nodded, tight-lipped. “You mean those doctors who can only treat a single species? I’m used to looking at cross-species challenges. This just makes me expand my vision a bit more.”
“What say you, Jim?” asked Clay.
Jim shook his head in resignation and said, “Well, I won’t say anything for now. Let’s give it twenty-four hours, then we’ll see.”
Twenty-four hours turned into two days, then a week, then a month and more, and Jim never did rat us out. We developed elaborate tales of how we’d cover for him if we were found out.
This didn’t immediately become clear to me, but here’s what I ended up telling my co-conspirators: “Here’s what I want to do. I want to nurse her…it back to health, help her repair her vessel, so she can get back home, and take her crew’s remains.” Seemed like an impossible task. Why the hell was I wanting to take this on? Hmmm. Well, why do we do anything?
That morning, after the others left, I pretty much decided to stick around and see what I could do to help our poor alien. I took several trips back up to my house and kept bringing more stuff down. Begin to wonder whether I was going to move in there or not. I saw that I was going to have to dig a latrine for myself, so I brought a shovel back down.
One trip, I brought my guitar. My old Gibson. I call it Gibb, and it’s a “he.” I sat, strummed and played. Breadbox loved this and sang along in a little trilly, twittery voice. It seems like music is the universal—make that interstellar—language.
Let’s try doing some words with each other. Sign language, pointing, speaking slowly. Breadbox squeaked and pipped back at me. Were these words? Probably, but I didn’t get any connection to what I was saying.
After doing this for awhile, I got a call on my cell, asking me to do a gig at the state college near Santa Rosa. They’d just had a performer cancel. Nice venue, decent money, normally I’d jump at it. But I heard myself say no. What does this signify? Am I going to be a full time babysitter here?
Keep reading. Chapter 4 “Sing Language”