When Thorg laughed, a ripple of color made its way from its cap to its broog or from its head to its tail to put it in terms a human could understand. It seemed to be laughing a great deal ever since putting down in the muddy field next to a large red building in Everett, Massachusetts. From the moment Thorg landed, it was one comic scene after another.
Thorg expected a reaction to his presence. Natives always demonstrated intense curiosity whenever he made contact on a new world, but this, this was completely unexpected.
The first thing Thorg saw was a native exiting a large wooden structure pushing a wheeled conveyance filled to brimming with animal waste. The creature noticed Thorg’s craft immediately. Thorg liked to land close to native structures if he could find them. This saved a lot of time searching for the dominant intelligence. This rubber booted, dung pushing, creature, Thorg assumed, must represent the dominant species, although the look on its face was one of righteous indignation rather than wonder.
Zebulon Brown exited his barn pushing a wheel barrow load of cow manure having just mucked out the barn. He was intent on navigating the muddy barnyard when he noticed a strange object. At first glance he thought someone had dumped an old pizza oven there and his initial reaction was righteous annoyance. He left his barrow and came over for a closer look at the thing.
The alien craft was black, squarish and a bit worn around the edges. It stood on four spindly legs which supported it some four feet above the barnyard mud. There was a transparent slit a little below eye level and farmer Brown stooped down to peer inside. What he saw was a pair of faintly glowing alien eyes looking back at him. The eyes were an odd shade of red and attached to a head that looked more like something in a jar at the county fair than anything he’d ever seen. Zeb Brown jumped back, startled by what he’d seen, and tripped over his manure wagon. He emerged covered in cow shit and ran to the house yelling for Hilda, his wife of 33 years, to call 911. Thorg was already rippling.
Chief Darnette was the first to arrive. Arnold Darnette, pronounced his name the way it was spelled but everyone in town called him Chief Darn-it just to annoy him. Chief Darn-it was the overweight head of Everett’s five man police force. He met the Browns out in front of the old farmhouse. Zeb and Hilda were there with anxious looks on their faces. They were a good, god-fearing couple who worked the old farm alone, their children all having found better things to do with their lives than dairy farming. “Hiya Zeb, Hilda, what’s all this about aliens in your yard?”
The Browns led the police chief around back to the barnyard with it’s mysterious visitor. An old dairy farmer himself, Chief Darnette stepped into the mud without hesitation even though it mucked him right up to his ankles. He walked around the spacecraft and peeked in the glass slit. He saw Thorg rippling inside and stepped back startled. “What the heck is that?’ he asked no one in particular.
“What did I tell ya?” Zeb Brown said. “It’s a UFO and that’s an alien life form inside. We come in peace,” the farmer yelled at the craft. Zeb Brown had been reading science fiction ever since he was a kid and phrases like “UFO” and “alien life form” came easily to him.
“Well it may very well be,” Chief Darnette agreed. “Looks like we got us a gen-u-ine situation. We’ll have to cordon off the area. Best you and Hilda keep away from that thing until we know what its intentions are. We’re going to need more help. What’s this pile of shit doing here, Zeb? Place stinks to high heaven, why don’t you get rid of it while I call for backup?”
“Well which the hell is it? You want me to stay away or get my shovel, Darn-it?”
“It’s Darn-ette as you very well know, Zeb. I guess just leave the manure there for now. Maybe go inside and clean yourself up, you stink.”
The chief trudged through the sticky mud back to his car and radioed in for a few deputies and ordered Sylvia Dench, who manned the switchboard back at the station, to put in a call to the State Police and another to the Massachusetts National Guard.
“What am I supposed to tell them? Sylvia asked.
“Tell them we have us a alien invasion. No can that. Tell ‘em we have a national security threat on our hands. That ought to light a fire under their butts.”
He no sooner hung up the radio when two Everett deputies pulled in to the driveway sirens wailing and lights flashing. Chief Darnette gave them the cut sign and the farm fell silent. The two deputies emerged from their cars. One was Bert Fine, a gangly six footer, skinny as a rail. The other was Martin Glower a short, tubby, young man who looked like a computer geek.
“What have we got, Chief? Terrorists? Dirty bomb?”
“Looks like a UFO. Better bring the crime scene tape. We can cordon off the barnyard. Either of you jokers think to bring a roll of tape?”
“I think I got some in the trunk, Chief,” said Deputy Fine heading over to his cruiser’s trunk.
“That’s my car, you big galoot,” called his stubby partner.
By the time they sorted things out, the first TV trucks were just coming down the road. “Oh shit,” Chief Darnette mumbled under his breath. The big satellite truck from WNRK rumbled to a stop and Roberta Renfrew hopped out. She was a perky midwesterner who did live stand-ups for the local news. “Hiya, Chief, I hear we got an alien invasion on our hands.”
“I never used that word. You trying to start a panic?”
“Well, can we see it? I’m going live in ten minutes.”
Together they walked back through the barn to the mud soaked field beyond. They all sunk up to their ankles in the stinky ooze. “Oh my shoes,” cried Roberta Renfrew, “they’re ruined. Three hundred dollar Manolos.” Deputy Glower stopped at the barn door. He was reluctant to step into the yard being rather fastidious about his shoes and uniform.
“C’mon you big sissy,” called his tall partner, “It’s just mud.”
Deputy Glower took a hesitant step into the muck losing his shoe in the sticky ooze. He tried hopping around but soon lost his balance and went down on his ass in the slime. He blushed scarlet when he saw that the camera was on him and his humiliating flop was being recorded.
“I’d like a copy of that,” quipped Deputy Fine and everyone laughed including the visitor from the stars.
“What have you got there Darn-it, a pizza oven?” It was Lt. Bascomb of the Massachusetts State Police and two troopers chuckling to themselves.
“Ain’t no oven, smarty pants. Come over here and take a look and tell me what the heck it is.”
“What’s that stink? That the alien I’m smellin’ or the Everett police force?”
“Very funny. You city boys don’t know squat about farm life. Well you coming?”
Bascomb had stopped at the top of the concrete ramp leading to the barnyard. He had big shiny black boots that he spent every Sunday afternoon polishing. Their mirror-like shine was his pride and joy. The last thing he wanted to do was traipse through that quagmire. Then again he wasn’t about to be showed up by a small town, no account sheriff. He graciously told his two troopers to remain on the concrete and he squished through the mud to look into the space craft’s window. Lt. Bascomb noticed that the tv camera was on him the whole time so he acted braver than he felt and looked inside the glass slit. Thorg’s red eyes stared back unblinking.
“What is this Darn-it, some kind of practical joke? What have you got in there a stuffed animal?” Lt. Bascomb was playing to an unseen public. “Tell you what, you fellas bring me a pry bar and I’ll have this hoax exposed in a few minutes.” Here he put his hand down on the top of the space ship with a thump.
He thought an aggressive posture would play well on tv. He never expected what happened next. The instant his hand touched the surface of the ship, an unseen force lifted Bascomb into the air about four feet and slowly but deliberately turned his body horizontal and launched it like you would a paper airplane. Lt. bascomb did not fly nearly as well, however, landing on his face and sliding a good ten yards before his head hit the barn with a thump. The two state troopers ran to their comrade’s side. Lt. bascomb was dazed but unharmed. They propped up his head and offered him a drink of water provided by Hilda Brown who was watching all the activity from the top of the ramp. Together they gathered Bascomb up and carried him to the house where Hilda insisted on having the trooper hosed off before coming inside.
Now it was the Everett cops turn to laugh. “Score one for the home team,” cried Chief Darnette. He’d have hurled a few more snarky barbs at the troopers, but he was distracted by a tugging on the back of his shirt. Turning around he saw Zeb Brown trying to get his attention. “What is it Zeb?”
“It’s milking time. I have to be lettin’ the cows into the barn. They’re expectin’ it. You know how cows get when you screw up their schedule.”
Chief Darnette did know. He’d been a dairy farmer himself before he’d gotten into the policing business. “Right. Well, give me a few minutes to get this crowd under control and secure the scene.”
The next people to arrive were neighbors and strangers who had somehow managed to get word of the alien invasion through their cell phones and social media thanks to Sylvia Dench who knew a good piece of gossip when she heard one. Dozens of onlookers were parked along the road. They greeted each other and gave the quiet farm a festive air, something the Browns hadn’t seen in years. The neighbors walked through the barn expecting to see the flying saucer or ET. They craned their necks to get a look at mankind’s historic first contact and were to a man disappointed. Most avoided the mud but some of the more adventurous dropped their fussiness and waded into the mire. They all took photos of the alien craft and sent them over the internet to distant friends and family.
“Keep back folks. We don’t want anyone getting hurt,” Darnette called over his bull horn.
The deputies and state troopers kept the crowd away from the space craft. A second television truck arrived and then a third. They began reporting immediately upon arrival, adding their strange energy to the already slightly hysterical atmosphere. In a desperate attempt to get the best story, the reporters began interviewing random people and whoever else would speak with them. Not to be outdone by the big boys, Roberta Renfrew scooped them by getting Hilda Brown to speak with her on camera.
Minutes later, Chief Darnette, grabbed the spotlight by offering to answer questions. The eager press corps thrust their microphones in his face. He called for calm and assured the public that he had cordoned off the alien craft and that everything was under control. “So far the aliens have shown no signs of hostility with the possible exception of launching Lt. Bascomb across the yard.”
“Don’t you think tossing a policeman is a hostile act?”
"No. Lt. Bascomb clearly provoked the aliens,” Darnette opined.
“I notice you used the plural, aliens, how many do you think there are?”
“I...er..I only saw one.”
“What did it look like?”
“Have you had any contact with the aliens?” a reporter shouted. The questions were coming thick and fast.
“I have seen the alien, but it has not tried to communicate with us to the best of my knowledge.”
“Where do you think they’re from?” the reporter asked.
“C’mon, Darn-it, give us the scoop.”
“It’s Darnette and I...”
“Why don’t you call in the Guard?” yelled someone in the crowd.
“Already did that,” Darnette brightened, finding an area where he could contribute an answer. “I expect them any minute.”
In fact less than a minute later the rumble of trucks and the thrum of a helicopter could be heard above the din of the crowd.
Lt. Bascomb, with the help of Hilda Brown, had cleaned himself up and had on some of Zeb Brown’s clothes which were much too big for him. He emerged from the farmhouse directly into Darnette’s press conference. “Ah,” said Chief Darnette, “here is my colleague now. I was just telling these folks how you provoked the aliens.”
“I did no such thing,” Lt. Bascomb protested reflexively. He straightened himself up and tried to look dignified. His disheveled appearance made that difficult. The cameras revealed an embarrassed Bascomb who looked more like a homeless person than a public official. He mumbled “No comment,” to the reporter’s questions and excused himself saying he had duties to attend to.
An insistent tapping on his shoulder finally drew Chief Darnette’s attention. The Chief turned to see the anxious face of Zeb Brown who stage whispered in his ear, “The cows, Chief. They’re getting cranky, their bags are full. I don’t think I can hold them much longer. I think you’d better clear these folks out of the barn before someone gets trampled.” Indeed a chorus of mooing could be heard coming from the pasture gate. Looking in that direction, Darnette could see Zeb Brown’s herd of sixty Holsteins pressing against the fence trying to gain access to the barn.
“Right,” said Darnette, “Just give me a couple of minutes.”
Brown walked away shaking his head, brushing off the reporters questions with his sullen demeanor.
Major Geoffrey Glover and a platoon of bewildered guardsmen formed up in front of the barn. They were called to attention by Sergeant Plescwiewz who turned and saluted the major. “Bravo Company second platoon present and accounted for, sir.”
Chief Darnette and Lt. Bascomb introduced themselves to the Major. Both competed to give their version of events. The Major listened patiently to their bickering, conflicting accounts. Lt. Bascomb insisted that the aliens were hostile and Chief Darnette insisted that the area was secure and the UFO was properly cordoned off. Lt. Bascomb advised fixing bayonets and issuing live ammunition and using extreme caution. Chief Darnette dismissed that as nonsense saying that he had been on the scene the longest and that the aliens had done nothing threatening. He thought that the guard would be most useful doing crowd control. Lt. Bascomb said that he outranked the local police and that Chief Darnette didn’t know his ass from his elbow with regards to public safety. Darnette said that at least he still had his uniform and didn’t look like a bag of old clothes. That was too much for Bascomb who shoved Darnette. Darnette shoved back and in no time the two men were on the ground wrestling like school boys. They rolled around on the lawn in front of the cameras until Sgt. Plescwiewz and a couple of guardsmen pulled them apart.
“That’s quite enough, gentlemen. Said Major Glover. I have orders from the governor to take over this operation. This is a matter of national security. From this moment on Operation Dumbwaiter is in effect. Sgt. Plescwiewz, I want you to clear all civilians out of the area.”
“Yes sir Major sir, right away. Platoon, attention. Follow me.” The soldiers followed their sergeant into the barn. Sgt. Plescwiewz sent half his troop to guard the spaceship and the other half to pushing back the crowd of onlookers which now numbered around a hundred with more arriving every minute.
It was at this precise moment that the cows, anxiously pressing against the pasture gate, broke the latch and the gate swung open. The cows, suddenly free and eager to be milked, headed for the barn at a determined trot. Sixty highly motivated and bellowing Holsteins hurried for the barn in an unstoppable wave of cow flesh. Anyone caught in the barnyard, ran for their lives. Chief Darnette’s flimsy cordon of crime scene tape was trampled under a tsunami of bovine hooves. A half a dozen national guardsmen abandoned their posts and ran for cover. The spacecraft, sensing imminent danger to itself, activated its shields for self protection. The wild eyed cows bumped off the shield as though it were an gigantic rubber bubble. It would have been interesting to see, but, unfortunately, no human recording of the incident was made. Thorg, on the other hand, was holo-recording every moment from every conceivable angle.
Inside the barn, a scene of total chaos ensued as an unstoppable tide of milk cows drove the police, soldiers, reporters, deputies and gawkers out of the barn like a hydraulic piston. The fact that no one was seriously injured was a minor miracle. When the panic subsided and order had been restored, when the cows were once again chewing contentedly hooked up to their milking machines, Major Glover and six guardsmen marched through the barn to once again secure the alien ship. Imagine their surprise when they found the barnyard empty. Except for some trampled strips of crime scene tape, there was no sign of the alien craft. Thorg had seen enough. He had laughed himself silly; his bleebs hurt from laughing. He had documented the whole encounter. He thought with a little editing it might become a comedy classic. He rippled all the way home.