A Day in the Cornfield
by Glenn Gray
One day, Karl and Stew discover strange “turd”-like things appearing in their cornfield. The things have a strange power of mimicry, and their intentions are far from clear. Karl and Stew elicit the help of Sheriff Maynard and his daughter Roxy. Consternation ensues, and the once quiet farm becomes the epicenter of national attention.
“Put your hands in the air!”
All hands went up, reaching high, except for Stew, who carefully cradled the gel in his farm-roughened palm.
“Sir,” Stew said. “I ’pologize. Can’t raise ’em, sir. Got this stuff right here.”
“Everyone else, back away.” Polowski stepped closer. Two serious looking officers rushed over and ushered Karl, Ida and the Sheriff off to the side. Ida hooked her hand through Sheriff’s arm and smiled up at him.
Stew stayed put, holding out a trembling hand. He hesitated. “Sir, this here stuff is the turd stuff been causing all the problems.”
“Quiet.” Polowski approached, his bulk throwing a long shadow along the farm dirt. “Where’s that flying monster got everybody in a tizzy?”
“Right there.” Stew ticked his head. “Went underground there, sir.”
Polowski squinted, hint of a sardonic smile. “Don’t be smart, boy.”
“Let me explain.” Sheriff broke away from Ida, shuffled over, cut in. “I’m in local law enforcement here, the Sheriff I am, and I was called on over here to the farm earlier to investigate these happenings. What Stew says there is true, didn’t believe it none myself at first. Turns out, my little girl Roxy, she’s po-lice like me; she ended up there underground too with that turd stuff. We gotta get her. Like now, sir.”
Polowski shook his head, looking impatient. “You say underground?”
“You better go ahead and tell me the whole story here, Sheriff. And quick.”
The Sheriff and Karl, with some help from Ida, told Polowski and a few other officials everything they saw up till then and gave their thoughts regarding some other things too.
Karl started, told of the first guy in the field, how he looked like Stew, how he ran and they chased him and him disappearing and then seeing the pile of clothes and then the turds and then collecting the turds in the wheelbarrow and them disappearing and then all the little short guys in the pool and then the big bird thing and it flying away and then coming back and melting.
Sheriff told how he came and saw the group of little short men and how those little guys came after them and then them turning into the bird thing and the gunshots and the smashed cruiser and how they saw a turd thing turn into Roxy and how he shot it and later how Roxy got sucked underground there and how they knew she was okay because they heard her yelling for help.
Ida gave her side of the story too, about the big ole turd in her yard and her banged-up Cross Bones and the guns, and then the turd thing sucking her in and turning into the bird thing, grabbing her and flying away, dropping her here smack in the middle of Nebraska, messing up her whole day.
Polowski, along with several of his team, listened, then whispered in a huddle and then some other official looking people came over. Someone in what looked like a modified space suit strolled up and carefully transferred the gel blob from Stew’s hand into a clear container, and that person rushed off, getting into an official looking vehicle and barreling away.
Stew asked, “Where’s he takin’ that turd, sir?”
“The University. Special lab,” Polowski said. “To get your turd stuff there evaluated by some real fancy-pants scientists.”
* * *
Pierre Fultone floored the accelerator, feeling quite important, yessiree, finally on what felt like a real mission. Get this stuff to the lab, he was told. And fast.
He didn’t know what was in that little clear container but oh boy it seemed to be very important and causing a lot of trouble. He looked down at the passenger seat and saw the little black blob of gel in the sealed container, wiggling about from the car’s vibrations.
Get this to the lab, and fast.
Pierre thought that after a year of doing this errand-boy stuff it was about time he got involved in some of the real important scientific excursions. Something serious where he could demonstrate some of his true research talents. Real experimentation, real analysis.
He had only been living in the U.S. for one year now, a graduate student from Paris, studying biochemistry and microbiology as part of a Homeland Security program. Bioweapons, terror microbes and the like. Mostly lab work but he hoped to get in the field more often. And then enter a good medical school here in the U.S. next year.
Pierre sailed down the dusty rural roads, zipping alongside farms that reminded him of his native French countryside. Except there were no vineyards. Turning and turning again, occasionally resting his hand on the container so that it did not whip off the seat. He made it out to the main road and then really picked up speed. Another couple of miles and he’d be at the entrance to the University.
He barely slowed at the security gates, waving to Henry who knew him well and recognized the vehicle.
Pierre peeled around to the rear of the lab quad, toward the back entrance to the Microbiology labs.
He looked down at the seat and gasped. He spun the steering wheel a little too sharp and the car swung round, fishtailing, then swung the other way and smashed into the low brick wall by the lab entrance, right along the driver’s side door.
He looked down again and there it was. He lurched back in the seat, up against the window.
In the container, there was a little man, banging both fists against the clear wall from the inside.
Get this to the lab and fast.
The man was the size of a little baby bird. Pierre groped with his hand, not taking his eyes off the little guy, found the switch and lowered the window. He couldn’t help but notice that the little man looked like the guy in overalls and plaid shirt at the farm. The one he took the blob from.
Reluctantly, he slowly reached down and lifted the container with his fingertips, held it at arm’s length. The little man banging away.
Pierre shimmied his way backward out the car window, one leg at a time, and then bolted up the stairs to the door. He elbowed the door wide and ran down the hall, not realizing for a moment that he was shrieking.
Dr. Kristine Taylor darted from the lab and met Pierre in the hall, looking startled.
Pierre held out the container. “Taaaaake it!”
Dr. Taylor grabbed the container from Pierre, reflexively turned to the lab. Pierre followed, yammering away.
She rushed into the lab, placed the container on the black counter and turned to Pierre, said, “What is it?”
Pierre said, “A little man. A little maaaan!”
Dr. Taylor leaned, got close to the container. She studied the little black blob of gel, turned to Pierre and said, “Huh?”
To be continued...
Copyright © 2009 by Glenn Gray