A YEAR UNDERFOOT – entry #18

A Year Underfoot



July 21st, 2033

I made a supply run into Oak View last night and it was almost my last. As I was heading out of town I got caught in the blinding searchlight of a troop transport heading up State Road 33. It found me as I was cutting across a small meadow and, although I hit the deck as soon as it flashed, it was too late. The transport slammed to a halt, its massive tracks grinding into the asphalt road and I quickly crawled down into a dry creek bed bordering the far edge of the pasture and lay flat.

It was more of a shallow depression than a full blown creek, – the banks were only eighteen inches high, – high enough to water cows, and hide me, – if my luck were to hold out.

I slipped off my backpack and lay it flat beside me. I dug my chin into the ground and willed every inch of my being to remain perfectly still.

Had they seen me? How could they have not?

The searchlight danced about the open pasture and I saw that the troopers had not only left their vehicle, but were crossing the meadow and walking toward me. As they came closer, I heard their alien voices for the first time.

Unnerving, to say the least.

They spoke in deep, guttural tones, – falling somewhere between a snarl and a growl and when they spoke their deep resonant voices carried a long way in the still night air.

They continued to talk as they came closer and I forced myself lower into the earth. My heart threatened to pound out of my chest with each emphatic beat and I was sure I had been spotted. How could they not see me? I was right in front of them.

And, if they couldn’t see me, I was certain they could hear my throbbing heartbeat. I held motionless for what seemed like an eternity and my heart sank even lower into my stomach as I heard their voices grow louder still.

I waited for the end, but thankfully, it never came.

Further along the edge of the pasture I heard a cow low in the darkness. As the sound filled the night, the troopers stopped and wheeled around and trained their weapons on the innocent animal. One of the troopers barked an order and an electric crackle soon filled the night.

I dropped my head and lay still. Was I was next? Had they really seen me? Do I make a break for it, or wait it out?

In the end, I held still.

A few moments passed and I heard the troopers snarling and growling once again, but the voices were further away now, and as they continued with the back and forth, their voices became even more distant. They were leaving. I had dodged a bullet.

After a good long while I rose from the creek bed and walked over to where the cow lay dead. A perfect circle, the size of a baseball, had been burned cleanly through its skull.

There but for the Grace of God go I.




About paul nevins

Fiction writer, reader and baseball fan.
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