Robots from Outer Space
Dave rushes into Louís Cafť and screams: ďRobots from outer space have kidnapped Susie.Ē
This draws a nod or two, but mostly yawns.
Iím interested only because of all the outlandish tales that Dave has come up with over the years this was the most outlandish.
Minx and his clutch of high school thugs also pay attention, if only to howl with mocking laughter.
I feel sorry for Dave.
I know heís been seeing too many sci fi flicks on Million Dollar Movie lately, and has let his imagination go crazy, mixing these futurist nightmares with his usual obsession: Susie Brett.
He canít get her out of his head, and over the last few years has landed him in a huge amount of trouble, especially this year in junior high where she claims he has been stalking her.
Which is probably true.
I would laugh the way Minx does except I know every time Dave gets in trouble, I get dragged into it.
Already, I envision Dave insisting I go up to Garret Mountain with him to rescue Sue from certain death.
This is a particularly cold night and Iím in no mood to go wandering in the remote woods on a wild goose chase when all I really want is to stay in Louís Cafť and listen to the Dave Clark Five on the jukebox.
As Minx and his minions howl their way out of the cafť to go get drunk or make trouble at the mall, I wonder if Daveís tale may be true.
I keep thinking of the story about the boy who cried wolf, and how that one time there really were wolves.
After all, Iíve seen a lot of sci fi movies, too.
While I donít particularly like Susie Ė sheís one of those spoiled girls who whine all the time about everything Ė I wouldnít want to see her melted by Martians.
I figure I would get blamed.
Down deep, I want to believe in Dave and his robots from outer space. And for this reason, I canít resist going with him to see if the tales are true.
Dave, I know, would go with or without me.
If he got hurt, Iíd get blamed for that, too.
Besides, I know the mountain better than he does.
He wonít get lost if Iím with him.
Maybe Iím even thinking about the robots from outer space and how it would be better if I found them rather than waiting for them to find me.
If there is anything I hate is waking up to find my house zapped by an alien death ray Ė especially when Iím inside it.
I regret my benevolent gesture the moment we step outside.
The wind howls with a chilled fury I can only imagine getting worse the closer we get to the mountain.
But Dave is already pressing ahead and I know I canít turn back, not without Minx and his cronies calling me chicken later.
The thought that all this might be a plot by Sue to get even with me for all that we have done to her over the years starts percolating in the back of my brain.
Maybe, I figure, she rented the robots from some used robot dealer somewhere.
Then, it occurs to me that if the robots are real, me and Dave might well wind up as warm puddles of melted flesh when we finally catch up with them.
This dread and my hurry to catch up with Dave drives the chill out of me.
Still I argue with Dave as we climb, saying our trek to the mountain is foolish when we ought to call the police or at least, alert Sueís parents that she is missing.
What can we do if there really are robots at the end of all this?
I have already convinced myself that this is too elaborate a plot for anyone so scatter-brained as Sue to come up with.
Iím also desperately trying to convince myself that there really arenít any robots and that the only thing ahead of us is the lonely mountain, remote, cold, but no death ray.
We are half way up the mountain when we hear the wail.
It is a sound so incredibly weird is sets dogs howling through that whole half of the valley.
And it only serves to remind me that we are very alone: just me, Dave and the robots from outer space.
Dave looks so scared he might melt even without being struck by a death ray.
Iím so scared that I believe his tale is true. The wolf has finally come after so many years of Daveís faking it.
Iím also thinking of poor Susie Ė out there on her own, the lone captive of those Robots.
God only knows what they might be doing to her.
God only knows people will blame me for whatever they do.
So now, I am the one pushing a reluctant Dave to get up the mountain quickly.
Iím thinking weíre the only ones who can rescue her.
Iím thinking that if we do rescue her, she might stop hating us, and maybe even want us to hang around.
Iím sweating as I climb, despite the cold.
All right, I admit, Iím as scared as Dave is.
But Iím drawn ahead by some force I cannot resist, some urge to explore, to discover the unknown.
Thatís when we hear the girlís voice that sounds like Susieís echoing down to us from just over the lip of the mountain where the cityís observatory is.
Lights shine through the trunks of trees.
When I look around, I canít find Dave.
But I hear the thud of his heavy footsteps running back the way weíve come.
And for all my yelling, he wonít come back.
Iím alone and scared.
All these years, all the trouble, weíve been in, it has always been the two of us together, never me alone.
We always shared disaster.
Now I have to face it by myself.
My next step is perhaps the bravest act of my life.
As I climb, the lights grow bright between the trees, and I see them as death rays sweeping the woods to get me.
But I also think that I am the only person between the robots from outer space and civilized society in the village down below.
While Iím not comic book hero like Doc Savage, I know at times like this a person needs to take a side.
I decide to see what the robots are up to, then rush back to report what I uncover.
So I creep ahead as quietly as I can.
Sure, my mind is racing with tomorrowís newspaper headlines reporting on how I saved the human race, and how the mayor is scheduled to give me a medal.
After all, Iím only human.
Finally, I reach the summit where I can look down at the parking lot where I see Minx and his gang hooting into a carís public address system, while waving flashlights in the air.
They are all drunk.
So are the giggling and whining Susie-sound-alike girls they brought with them.
All of them are hooting and laughing about how scared me and Dave got, and how weíre probably racing back to the village at that very moment to report the fact that Susieís been abducted when sheís really home and asleep in her own bed.
Iím so angry I want to throw rocks down on their heads.
But I donít.
I figure Iíll catch up with Dave and swear him to silence.
We wonít say another word about any of this Ė which I know will frustrate Minx to no end.
So I sneak away.
Half way down the hell, I hear their laughter turn to screams.
I think it is one more trick until I turn around and see the trees behind me on fire.
The robots from outer space have arrived.