#1: A bump in the night
It was a Saturday night – well, actually very early Sunday. A loud boom from outside brought me jumping from the bed as I sent my headphones flying across the room. I’d fallen asleep listening to podcasts and was lucky I hadn’t choked myself with the wires of the earbuds. My wife stirred at the commotion, but I didn’t know if she had awoke because I was already pounding down the hallway to look out the front windows. I flicked a couple of fingers between the slats of the blinds and pushed them apart, peering out into the darkness.
Laying in the street, shrouded by darkness since all the street lamps were out again, was a lump. It appeared to be moving to my squinting eyes, but I could be mistaken. I saw porch lights starting to flicker on and, in my excitement, raced to the front door, threw it open and raced out with everyone else slowly crowding into the street. We all approached the lump of darkness slowly, a mob of nosey neighbors. Murmurs of conversation rippled through the gathering crowd.
There was no moon. Come to think of it, there were no stars either, yet the sky was clear and cloudless. Glancing back, I could see my wife and son coming down from our porch and approaching the street. Our eyes met long enough for me to shake my head and mouth for her to stay back. That was when I froze to the shrill groan that echoed through the air.
Filled with pain and withering in the street, our adjusted eyes made out the form of a man. Well, I say man, for he was humanoid – two legs, two arms, a head, torso, abdomen. His face, though. In the gloom of night with our eyes dilated to adjust to the low light provided us, it appeared as though he were blue. There also appeared to be some type of bumpy ridges that ran up the bridge of his nose, branched out and arched above both eye sockets, then came back down and curved slightly to recede behind his ears – which were flat against his head and triangular shaped.
Someone called that an ambulance should be enroute, the glow of their cellphone like a firefly flickering amidst the crowd. Someone else commented that they knew first aid, another asking if he’d been struck by a car. Then the comments began to flood. Don’t move him, his neck might be broke. Or his spine. Can he move his legs? Is he bleeding? Is he conscious? Helen’s brother was hit by a car once, he was almost paralyzed, but the lawyer told him there was no money to be had and he could suddenly walk again. Maybe he’s drunk, wandered onto our street by mistake, darn alcoholics!
Everyone was starting to clatter and clang in their two cents on whatever had happened on our quiet street. We all jumped when the figure on the asphalt started to stir and attempt to raise itself up. His/its head moved back and forth, eyes fluttering and rolling when suddenly, he spoke.
“Yoooou,” he wheezed and immediately began hacking.
Roger Baines, the streets official alcoholic, pointed to himself and stepped forward. “Uh, me?” he said with a thick southern drawl with a hint of drunken slur. He glanced around at the rest of us.
The man slumped on the ground extended his palm and made as if to shove Roger. To our shock and awe, Roger went flying back, knocking a few others down to the street with cries of surprise and panic. “NO!” he/it gurgled. The palm curled and what should have been the index finger extended to point directly at me.
Instantly I was alone as everyone else in the crowd took three steps back. My wife, suddenly a few feet away, holding our boy tight, stared at me intensely. I glanced at her, my own eyes wide and my mouth open, breathing quickly and feeling the adrenaline rushing through my body.
And without even moving, I was suddenly right beside the fallen being, his hand on my wrist. That particular wrist burned under the rough touch, and then suddenly everything went white – then black – then blue and glittery.
I wasn’t sure, but I think I may have stopped breathing, died and then came back to life considering the amount of electricity that seemed to pulse through my body two or three times. There may have even been vomit, a bowel movement and a little pee before it was all done. Either way, I eventually lost consciousness.