Drones at Dusk

in #fiction4 years ago

Presenting a scifi 9 pager I concocted after being followed by a drone. It was hovering above me as I handcycled up my neighborhood’s main avenue. It felt invasive, and I thought about invasion. Here’s what I came up with, and I hope you dig it. Please comment, share, etc. Love you Steemians! Thanks to @thesimpson for your advice. Another set of eyes is helpful, and yours were keen to find little spots that needed some tweaking.

Drones at Dusk

drone1.jpg

At the purpling before dusk, the drone was heard before it was spotted, emitting a noise that reminded me of an 11 year old trying to mimic the sound of a motorcycle engine revving. The flying machine sounded like the flapping wings of an enormous moth stuck between two sheets of wrapping paper. There was a yellow light--did that mean it was recording? A few inches above the power lines, it was floating steadily along the horizon.

“Well that’s right out of a futuristic dystopian novel,” I noted.

“More like a post apocalyptic B-movie,” Jason said.

“Eh, maybe a low budget one, but I see it,” I agreed.

We raised our beers in a toast as it disappeared behind the banyan tree. On its second pass, I noticed something strange. There seemed to be a distortion in the air behind it.

“What’s that?” I pointed.

“Chemtrails,” Jason mused.

“Seriously. That things battery operated, so it’s not supposed to be spewing out any fumes. It shouldn’t be. Did you see that canister on it? Maybe it was chemtrails.”

“No, that was a camera, not a canister. Dude, it’s just the sky. It’s sunset, and the clouds are changing colors. It’s beautiful.”

“But you saw that cloud thing behind the drone, yeah?”

“I don’t know what I saw,” Jason sipped his beer. “We’re so lucky to live here.”

“Totally,” I agreed, accepting the change of topic. “That’s why I don’t see why you keep talking about moving. Don’t be a sell out. Keep your lot.”

“Maybe the grass isn’t greener, but I’m betting on it. Opihikao is where my heart's at,” Jason said.

“I thought you said the lava. Weren’t you going get a lot out in Kaimu on the lava flow?”

“Yeah, but that’s only as an investment. I’m gonna flip the lava lot. I’m going to put in a septic tank and then boom. Flip it like a pancake.” Jason finished his beer and reached for another. He sighed as he found the box contained nothing but beer husks.

“Dude, let’s do a Kaimu beer run,” he said. He swirled the butt end of a joint around in the dregs of a can before dumping it off the deck.

“I’m pau,” I said. “Three beers--I’m good.”

“You tired?” Jason asked, incredulous. He gathered the cans and dumped them into the recycling tote.

“No, but haven’t you found that the only thing a beer leads to is another beer?”

“That’s what I’m saying,” Jason said, as if I were being redundant. “Let’s go to Kaimu.”

“Can’t,” I said, “I’m worried the bruise on my butt will turn into a pressure sore.”

“Come on, Jasper. Going to the store won’t kill you.”

“Not worth the risk. I’m not arguing, but if you’re going, I got five bucks on two Sierra Nevada’s.”

“Cans?”

“Yeah, the sixteen ounce Pale Ales. Two.”

“I thought you were all pau,” Jason said.

“Well, if you’re already going… Besides, it might be one of our last beers if you’re really going to bounce out.”

“I’m just bouncing to the store and back.”

“No, I’m talking about you trying to bounce out of Seaview,” I said. “This is the most perfect place on the planet. I can’t believe you’re going to trade in your lot for some black slab of lava. Start over, you’re crazy!”

“For you, Seaview might be cool, but me and my lady need some space. You might need pavement for handcycling, but we need space. The way the lots have been going, we’re gonna be out of elbow room. As you know, me and Cynthia do a lot of fighting and fucking, and we don’t want to hear about neighbors bitching. We’re sick of it. Everyone has screen walls, but on Opihikao, she can scream without me having to shove a pillow over her face.”

“I thought you liked that--the pillow thing,” I said.

“I do, but I don’t want to have to stifle my girlfriend. I feel like I’m obligated here. It’s getting so gentrified.”

“Don’t stifle her. Let her do her thing.”

“And let all the creepers gather around and whack off in the bushes? Fuck that. She’s my woman. Opihikao is what we need. Three acres. No one will call the cops or come around lurking in the bushes, and if they do, I’ll set booby traps.”

“Damn Jason, are you really scared of people spying in the bushes? That’s tweaker talk.”

“I don’t know, man. Tweakers will be showing up soon enough, just wait and see.”

“No they won’t.”

“Soon enough we’ll have em moving next door, buying lots. Even if it isn’t happening at this very minute, it will, eventually. There’s just not enough space.”

“The tweakers are coming,” I said, and smiled. “That’s a B-movie, them coming over the hill like zombies.”

“More like moving into the neighborhood, stealing you power tools. That’s what happens when neighborhoods fill up.”

“I suppose I’ll cross that bridge, or whatever, when it’s time. As far as the noise, did someone say something about Cynthia screaming?” I asked.

“No, and they don’t need to. It’s the way people look at us. Auntie Corella--you know the chick from Portugal--the older one with with blind poodle?”

“Oh yeah. The fire ants got into her dog’s food.”

“Yeah, that’s her. She gives me mad stink eye all the time.”

“Doesn’t she look at everyone funny?” I asked.

“Well, all’s I know is that she got real twitchy after the last time we made love. We were both drunk and Cynthia got real loud, and I was like, ‘fuck it’. I let Cynthia holler, and I swear, everyone within a mile must have heard her.”

“No pillow?”

“Nope, and the next morning, I waved to Corella, and she about jumped a foot in the air, then scowled like I was waving my dick in her face.”

“Maybe she has Parkinson's.”

“No, she was looking at me like I was the biggest pervert in the whole--oh, look there it goes again!” Jason pointed beyond the telephone poles to the floating yellow light. “Sounds like a swarm of bees!”

“Okay, see? See the fumes? What is that?” There was definitely some colored gas-like emission in the wake of the drone--gray, like smoke, but not. Nor was it like any exhaust I’d seen. It looked like a thin scarf or gausmer, gray and wavery.

“I don’t know what that shit is, dude,” Jason admitted. “Should I moon it?” Jason stood up and was about to slip down his boardshorts.

“No, don’t draw any heat. But speaking of, what is that stuff? That’s some weird shit, isn’t it? Looks almost like some sort of smog, but more similar to particles. What could it be?”

“Maybe a bunch of mosquitoes are following it. Imagine that? A bunch of mosquitoes drawn to a drone like it’s their mother. It could lead them off a cliff like lemmings.”

“Well no,” I countered. “Mosquitoes can fly, so if they were led off a cliff, then--”

“You know what I mean,” Jason scoffed, elbowing my arm. “If it comes back, I’m going to moon it.”

“Please don’t.”

“Why dude? We’re like a mile from a nude beach, and this is your property.”

“What if the drone belongs to a neighbor and they post the video on Facebook?”

“So?”

“Alright, not the best detractor I could have come up with. You know what, Jason? Moon it. Don’t let me stop you.”

“I wasn’t gonna let you stop me. Where’s your pellet gun?”

“No, dude. Mooning it is one thing, but don’t shoot at it. Besides, you know I don’t have a pellet gun. You keep calling it that, but it’s a twenty dollar piece of crap from Walmart.”

“We should still shoot it down if it comes back.”

“Not a chance,” I argued. “The BB gun might look like a real gun, and then on video, they could say--”

“What are you talking about?” Jason interjected. “It’s videoing you, on your fucking land!”

“We don’t know that it’s recording any of this.”

“Dude?” Jason said, and raised an eyebrow.

“Alright, it’s probably videoing us,” I admitted, “But even if it is, it’s recording from above a public street.”

“Seriously? That’s your stance? It’s “okay” because it’s using a public space to invade your privacy?”

“It’s not okay, but what if it’s Green Harvest? You know, the DEA looking for pot plants.”

“What are you worried about? You don’t have pot plants. Besides, Green Harvest uses helicopters, not cheap drones like that chintzy little hunk of plastic.”

“Well, now that Trump is in office, Green Harvest most likely got its funding cut, so--”

“Hey, I thought you said no more Trump talk,” Jason said.

“My bad,” I conceded.

“Where’s your BB gun?”

“No, dude. Leave it alone.”

“Come on, Jasper. Grow a pair.” I watched him walk into my house and retrieve the gun from behind the front door.

“This is not cool,” I said, but I didn’t care. Not really. “Just moon it.”

“Did it go by?” Jason asked, and walked down my ramp.

“No but--” and suddenly, there it was. The drone seemed even brighter, the color of a harvest moon. I looked for the trail of vapor. The sky was much darker now, but I thought I could make out wavers, like comic book stink lines behind it. The trail extended a full body length, tapering off like a comet’s tail after a couple yards.

I heard a punchy click as Jason fired a BB.

“Fuck you, Amazon!” Jason cried. “We didn’t order anything Prime. This is a no-drone-delivery-zone.” He’d missed the shot.

At first, there was no reaction, but then the drone slowed and hovered in place. It hadn’t been going more than a mile an hour, but watching it suspended in space like that made my heart drop to my stomach. I guessed someone with an iPad was observing us. Was it a tourist, a neighbor, or some covert branch of the government? Was it a twelve year old with a GoPro, or some guy with a satellite phone in a white paneled van recording us?

“Got you now, you fucker. That’s right, just stay still,” Jason encouraged, and cocked the Daisy. He brought the small rifle to his shoulder. I was sure he couldn’t make the shot as we were set back fifty feet from the road. The BB’s arc would be impossible to gauge.

The ping, as the BB hit the drone, seemed abnormally loud followed by a twangy buzz. I thought the BB must have ricocheted off the propeller blades, but then there was another sound. An angry sound, like a swarm of locusts ramping up into a froth.

“Fuck you motherfucker!” Jason shouted, and pumped the airgun. “Get!” He waved the drone away with an upward flick of the back of his wrist, and then brought the rifle back up, taking aim. Again, there was a metallic ting, but this time, the unimaginable happened.

The drone fragmented, breaking apart. It fractured into what looked like hundreds of candle flames or fireflies. But they didn’t fall.

“The fuck?” Jason asked, lowering the barrel, this time absent minded as he ratcheted another pump.

“Jason, I knew something wasn’t right,” I said. The buzzing escalated into a frightening whir. And then it charged. They charged. How can I put this? The swarm attacked Jason? Sped at him? They shot at him like an angry legion of demons?

Lying prone on my couch, twenty feet from Jason, there was nothing I could do but hold my breath and freeze. I would have yelled--would have done something, but it was all too startling. Too fantastical to process or react in any meaningful way. It took less than a second for the lights to close the distance. He flung himself off the ramp, but they followed. They were all over him. He was scrambling, flailing his arms, running through the Lahala trees, tripping over roots, yelling.

And then he was gone. I couldn’t make him out through the foliage. I thought he made it to the road, hoped, but it was all silent. Maybe he’d ran and hadn’t stopped. He could be running through the forest reserve to Kalani. It was all too surreal, my heart pounding like a sledgehammer against my ribcage. I dared not move a muscle.

It was a few minutes before I risked transferring from the couch to my wheelchair. There was only the sound of coqui frogs. Jason had screamed bloody murder, but surely my neighbors had grown accustomed to his occasional unrestrained and brash ways of communicating. Jason was 90% laughs. Even if the neighbors thought something might have sounded off, Jason hadn’t screamed for very long.

I rolled inside my house, muttering ‘fuck’ over and over, wheeling in circles. My smartphone. I grabbed it from the pocket under the wheelchair seat, logged onto Facebook, and clicked on Cynthia’s profile. I clicked in the message box, my thumbs ready, hands shaking, but what could I text her? Your boyfriend got attacked by a mob of nanobots? Glow in the dark bees? It sounded beyond farcical. But I saw that she was logged into Messenger so I rang her over my WiFi.

“Hey, Jasper,” Cynthia said, chipper. “Jason over there?”

“Cynthia, you’re not going to believe me, but you need to drive down here.”

“Why? Just tell me.”

“No, it’s Jason,” I said. “Hurry.”

“What about Jason,” she said, a hint of panic in her voice.

“He’s…” I trailed off, frowning. “Just get down here.” Less than a minute later, Cynthia was slamming the truck door and running up the ramp.

“Jasper, you’re freaking me out. Where’s Jason?”

“I don’t… ” I said, my mouth opening and closing in a wordless stammer.

“He’s not here? Do I need to call an ambulance? Did he crash? His moped is out front. What happened? Talk to me.” I looked at her with a crease of bewilderment folding my eyebrows together.

“Jasper, answer me. Where’s Jason?”

And so I told her. At first she squinted, as if she weren’t hearing me right. She could tell by my tone that I was serious, but when I got to part about the drone splitting apart, she rolled her eyes.

“Cynthia, you asked me what happened, and that’s what fucking happened.”

“Bullshit,” she dismissed. “You got me, Jasper. I’ll give you that much. So where’s Jason?” All the alarm was out of her voice, I was joking, she was sure.

“Cynthia, I swear on the life of… my betta fish. Or to God, but I’m not making any of this up.”

“Jasper, someone wrote the word ‘gullible’ on your ceiling,” she teased.

I didn’t look up. “I remember hearing that joke in middle school,” I said. “I know we always fuck with you, but Cynthia, I’m not joking. Not this time.”

“Let me get this straight. According to you, a herd of flying aliens beamed Jason onto their mothership? Really, Jasper?”

“No they--” and then I thought about it. Had they consumed Jason or disappeared him into a parallel universe? Cynthia made me think of Star Trek, beamed up, and then I shook my head.

“I know it sounds crazy,” I said.

“Anyways, Jasper,” Cynthia said, having none of it, “if Jason doesn’t want cold tacos, tell him to be home in a half hour.”

I was almost angry with her, but then realized I was like the boy who had cried wolf too many times. Jason and I had so much fun making Cynthia freak out. We had once faked suicide, laying on the kitchen floor, covered in ketchup mixed with coffee, razors by our sides.

“When he doesn’t come home tomorrow, then what?”

“I highly doubt that will happen. Bye, Jasper. Remember: A half hour if he doesn’t want cold tacos.” Cynthia spun around and walked back down the ramp.

The next morning, when I heard the sound of Cynthia’s truck, I wheeled outside to meet her at the end of the driveway. Jason was driving.

“Did I leave my wallet in your house?” he asked. I looked at him blankly, my draw having dropped, uncomprehending.

“Jasper. Earth to Jasper--my wallet?” I looked over to Cynthia who smiled at me, as if nothing were amiss.

“What… happened to you?” I asked, studying his nonchalance.

“What do you mean ‘what happened?’”

“When you ran away. The attack of those lit up things--the yellow lights? I can’t believe I have to clarify what I’m talking about. What happened yesterday? Where’d you go?”

“The lights? Jasper, how stoned are you?”

“I’ve just had coffee, but don’t act like I’m the one that’s--”

“Are you sure it was just coffee? Attacking lights or was it killer tomatoes you saw? Cynthia told me all about it. You’re stoned, my friend. Anyways, so you have or haven’t seen my wallet?”

“Haven’t, but feel free to look,” I said, my mind spinning around to connect dots that weren’t there. Like the drone? That had been real, hadn’t it?

With a sigh, Jason shut off the truck and walked up the sidewalk. Cynthia was in the passenger seat plucking her eyebrows in the side mirror. I thought about asking her what time Jason had come home, but it was quite apparent that she hadn’t experienced anything extraordinary. So, I wheeled around and followed Jason up to the house.

Inside, he was looking around on surface areas. Tables, the counter, a stack of magazines in the corner. “Where did I leave that thing?”

“Jason, the fuck happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I thought I left it here, but maybe it slipped behind the seat in the truck.”

“Not your wallet, your--” I stopped cold. His eyes. They flashed yellow. It was only a moment, and it was true that the sun was reflecting off the table, but I’d seen it.

“What?” he asked.

“Invasion of the body snatchers,” I said, cautiously. “What do you think about that movie?”

“Cheesy, but I liked it. Is there something in my teeth? You’re looking at me like I’ve got spinach in my teeth.” Jason rubbed an index finger across his front teeth.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Anyways, dude,” Jason shrugged, not having heard me. “If you see my wallet, let me know. I’m on a Hilo mish. We’ll have to use Cynthia’s cash. Later, man.”

I listened to his footsteps thump down the ramp. The truck’s engine roared to life, the door clunked shut, and then there was only the sound of birds, wind, and the buzzing of bees about their flowers, dutifully collecting what they needed to survive.

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Great story. Riveting read. Still not clear though as regards Jasper's version of the story. Did it happen or not?
Well done.

This is Scifi, but I did get followed up the hill by a drone when I was handcycling. I am paralyzed and have a friend very much like Jason.

Congratulations on Curie awarding this story! I found it by the hashtag #science fiction and likely never would have seen it otherwise. Love the drone as inspiration - those things creep me out!

You're very welcome! Mahalo from Seaveiw ;)

WOW!! congratulations on such a successful post bro!! (It's Eddie, in case you don't know.) #WayToGo #Newbie #Pro

I'm writing my introduction and I'm gonna tag you for turning me on to steemit. You're the man Jasper. Thanks a million for sharing your post on Facebook.. I'd still be stuck there if not for you.

Whoa, welcome aboard the Steemit! Destination? Deeper into the holographic universe. Hither and beyond!

woohooo thanks buddy :)

awesome story. i love your style, your dialog, the way you twisted this into something I'll never forget. thanks for publishing this here.

You're very welcome. Dialogue is my jam.

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