Saturday, February 3, 2024


Al Bruno III

Every night, she waited out in a clearing with her camera and binoculars to catch sight of something from beyond; she didn't care what it was- a UFO, a shimmering wisp of ghost, or even a forest spirit. Just so long as it could prove there was more than her job, her apartment, and her emptiness.

This night was cool with the early days of fall, and the winter stars were beginning to shine; she was wearing her windbreaker and stocking cap, and there was a thermos of soup between her feet should she need it. It had all the makings of a perfect night.

"Marcie, where do you go at night?" her roommate would ask, "You should come out with us, come out and meet someone."

Both women knew the invitation was a lie, Julie would have been humiliated to be seen clubbing with her scrawny, virginal roommate, and Marcie had no interest in wasting a night by going out whoring. After all, even if it wasn't a clear night, she still had things to keep her occupied; there were books of urban and ancient legends to read through, websites to be visited, and notes to be taken. The invisible and the impossible were old friends to her- she knew them all by Bigfoot, Aliens, the Jersey Devil, Chupacabra, the Loch Ness monster, and all the rest.

She would read eyewitness accounts with the same kind of envy Julie expressed when flipping through fashion magazines and bridal catalogs; it was the same kind of longing that Marcie's mother had used when speaking about the bible and the afterlife. Neither of them understood Marcie's obsession, and if they had asked, she would have told them that this was what she believed in, her faith, her religion.

Something flickered at the edge of Marcie's vision. She put the binoculars to her eyes with almost bruising force, but it was nothing more than a meteor, a bit of rock falling from nowhere to the Earth. But just in case, Marcie kept watching that part of the sky for almost ten minutes in case some great mystery had sent the shooting star ahead of itself.

But there was nothing but cold dark sky.

Sighing, she let the binoculars hang down around her neck again and returned to searching the horizon for a while. She had come here to Horne's quarry after almost a year of traipsing around Brown Mountain trying to catch a glimpse of the legendary lights; all she had ever seen were fireflies. A search of her online resources had led her here to this abandoned quarry. The official story was that it would no longer be abandoned once a number of inheritance and tax problems were resolved, but there were other stories as well, stories about strange lights, half-seen shapes, and missing persons.

Marcie shivered a little at the thought of becoming a missing person herself, but it was worth the risk; it was worth anything.

Because once she saw, once she knew, she could rub it in the nose of everyone who had laughed at her. She would go on the news, be interviewed, and praised because She was the girl who knew.

She was the girl that had always known.

A little while later, Marcie treated herself to a swig from her thermos; the soup was warm but tasted like it had been hastily made from a can. Which, of course, it had.

Once she had closed the lid again, she set the thermos back down and began scanning the sky again.

And suddenly, there it was, a bloated gossamer form swirling down out of the darkness like a skydiver with a damaged chute.

But this was no parachute, no weather balloon or other illusion. Camera and binoculars forgotten, Marcie watched it undulate and twist. Despite the dark, she could see every detail clearly; the translucent flesh, the three clumsy wings that somehow kept the shapeless body aloft, and the cluster of insect-like eyes. She thought it was the most terrible and beautiful thing she had ever seen.

It touched down with a wet smack. Marcie could hear its rasping breaths; it reminded her of her mother's death rattle, only thicker, meatier.

Using the three wings as legs, the creature from the sky began to drag itself across the stony ground. Suddenly, Marcie began to wonder if it was somehow hurt or if the gravity of Earth was too much for it. She drew closer, wondering what she should say and do.

"Hello?" She said. Her voice was almost a whisper, "Are you… are you all right?"

Its head swiveled bonelessly. Its eyes were the color of moonlight, shifting this way and that, studying her.

"Can you speak?" She asked, "I'm Marcie… Mar-cie."

It spoke with a mouth that puffed open and out like a fish yanked from the water, "OiD eC"

"Is that your name?” It drew closer, half dragging, half rolling.

"OiD eC nOrOvAf”

I was right! Tears welled up in her eyes. I knew I was.

“OiD eC nOrOvAf SiVoRt Iv RaC uMiT eN"

And it could talk! What secrets would it have to tell her? It was close enough now for Marcie to see through the lucid flesh to the twisted organs that made up the creature’s insides. The lower half was a mass of tiny squirming spheres.

Marcie was breathless, "I've waited so long for you."

Suddenly, it coiled up and sprung at her. She was so surprised she didn't even have time to scream, and the next thing she knew, it was morning. Marcie woke shivering on the hard ground of the abandoned quarry. Her clothes were in tatters, and red welts covered her skin as though she had been lashed.

She drew herself up to her knees and was sick, throwing up again and again until nothing was left, and she was clutching her hands over her aching, swollen stomach.


Yes, her belly was swollen, and when she ran her hands over it, she felt things squirm and kick.

But she wasn't afraid; after all, this had been an answer to her prayers.

And what religion didn't have a miraculous birth or two to its name?

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