I was muttering as we bounced along the trail. Mandy looked over at me and smiled. I couldn’t help smiling back. I just was expecting to have a ride together, not have to bring my little brother along. He was such a pain – he was so different from me that I couldn’t believe we had the same parents. Where I took auto shop, he took calculus. Where I played football he played World of Warcraft. Where I wanted to spend time with my girlfriend he wanted to spend time on the net. But my mom had insisted we take him with. To get some fresh air, she said.
So he sat in the back of the Jeep not particularly happy with being away from his computer. Mandy had done her best to make him feel welcome. I knew he had kind of a crush on her, so did she I guess, but she smiled at him every few minutes and he finally seemed happy enough. You had to yell to be heard with all the canvas off, so we didn’t do too much talking.
I’d found this trail through the far edge of a dry lake, and it looked interesting. It headed up into some low hills I’d never been through before. Mandy had a topo map spread out and was looking for any points of interest. She was good with maps, better than I was. She’d warn me ahead of time when we were heading into steep country or places where I’d need 4 wheel drive. She could just tell.
After a few hours we were well into the hills. As we crested a ridge I saw a thin vein of smoke coming from a valley a ways off – at least I thought it was smoke. I stopped to talk things over.
“If that really is a fire we need to make sure and then call in so they can send someone out”
Mandy nodded at me.
“Whatever” came from the back seat. Adventurous my little bro wasn’t
“On the other hand if somebody’s hurt we should help them out”
That got about the same level of agreement, so I started up. We had some tough climbing and the brush was starting to close off the trail as we got closer. Finally we were as close as we were going to get in the Jeep – we’d have to walk the rest – it was just too steep. It was just over a steep ridge. We started hiking.
Danny bitched a lot about all the walking – finally I got tired of it and told him if he wanted to go back to go ahead, but to stop complaining. I told him he was being outpaced by a girl, but I don’t think it affected him much. But he finally did try harder to keep up.
We climbed to the top of the ridge and looked down at the source of the smoke. It was a pile of black wreckage – it looked like one of those fast Air Force planes. There was no evidence of life – we all called, even Danny – to no avail. Danny started talking, half thinking to himself
“That almost looks like an SR71, but its not big enough and besides they don’t fly them in this area I don’t think…”
While he was talking he was sliding down the hill. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
“… can’t be a stealth either – there wouldn’t be this much left”
“Danny what are you talking about?”
I started to slide down after him.
He grabbed some brush to stop himself.
“I don’t think that’s one of ours”
I looked at him. Well, he should know – his room had been full of models and pictures of every airplane ever built since he was little. It was one of the things he was proudest of.
“What – you mean it belongs to another country? What’s it doing here?”
He turned. I could tell he was serious. It was the first time I ever saw him so totally confident.
“You two stay up there until I check it out. This might not be from here at all”
I started to ask a question, but he was lost in thought as he slid down to the bottom of the valley and slowly approached the wreck.
“Well just be careful. Mom will kill me if anything happens to you”
He picked up a stick and began to prod the edges, levering a piece of the metal up. It was loose, and I watched him pick it up. He hefted it in his hand, finally ran his fingers over it, tried to bend it with both hands.
“Jack this isn’t anything from here. This skin is lighter than composites, thinner than anything I know of, and so strong I can’t even bend it. I..”
“I don’t think it’s from earth.”
That was creepy
“We better call someone”
I had forgotten about Mandy. I turned to look as she popped her cell out of her jeans. It happened so fast. Danny called out to wait as she flipped it open and hit the keys. I turned back to look down and saw a bright flash from the wreckage reach out to Danny. He dropped like a stone, and as I turned back I saw the look of horror on Mandy’s face. She dropped the phone.
I ran down the hill trying not to lose my balance. His eyes were closed as I picked him up and dragged him up back up the hill. It was hard moving dead weight up the steep slope but finally I got him to the edge. Several times he had made quiet moaning sounds, so I knew he was alive. I caught my breath for a minute before I started carrying him down to the Jeep. Mandy ran ahead to get out a blanket and some water. He started to come around about half way down, but he wasn’t really coherent. Finally we made it and I laid him down on the blanket. He opened his eyes.
“There’s two of them in there, I think”
“Two of what” I asked.
“Two of whoever flies that … thing. Two pilots or extraterrestrials or whatever they are. I’m not sure if they’re alive or not, but I’m pretty sure I saw one move.”
I reached in to pull the thirty ought six off the gunrack.
“Well I’ll make damn sure they’re not alive”
He reached up to grab my arm.
“Don’t. They probably had a defensive thing and the radio waves from the cell phone triggered it. I don’t think they were trying to hurt me. It was probably automatic. I’m OK now. Honest”
He stopped for breath.
“I want to go back there and see if they’re OK.”
“Absolutely not. Are you crazy?”
“Probably. But do you realize what a day this is? If they’re really extraterrestrials that would be a first. For the whole planet, not just for us. Think about more than yourself”
He stood up – shaky at first but more steady and determined as he headed up the hill. I was proud of him, in a funny kind of way. He was really leading the way in more ways than one.
“Are you coming with?”
Mandy and I hurried to catch up with him…
This was originally written for an MfM, but clearly at over 1200 words it isn't even close to micro. It was driven by Ang's theme, and was what I wrote first - although not what was submitted. Still, I kind of liked the way it came out so I thought I'd share it with Y'all. I'd love any comments you have on this one.