WE WERE SICK of it all; the exploding cattle, the late night visits, and in light of the recent drought, the damage to our crops.
Farmers have a way of making things happen. We gathered in the spacious and downright boastful barn of the Mueller’s, big enough to park four combine harvesters, and have enough room left for eight tractors and a Model-T restoration project. It was more central than the town hall. And the Mueller’s promised food and drink.
I left my truck on the packed patch of land just outside the barn, crammed between tractors, quad bikes and other dirt covered 4x4s certain I’d be missing paint on my return from an errant door.
I saw the Robinson’s; the Miller’s; Merryweather’s; the Kutcher’s; the Ferguson’s; LeSalle’s, every face I saw I knew. It took me a half hour just to get inside the barn, fresh out of hello’s and greetings, my patience run down. After a day adding sweat to the band of my cowboy hat, I wanted food and drink. I was irritable, and no matter where I looked someone wanted to talk. I took a pew on the seats that had been set up, flanked by red harvesters, nearly a million a piece, their time indoors short-lived, soon they’d be out cutting grain – what was left of it.
“Good evening!” Jerry Tanner had entered through the back door, and he waved a pile of papers. “Let’s not waste any time…” Jerry looked at the groups of farmers and their wives and teenagers still talking, dead eyeing them to shut it and sit. That balding head was already turning red, the man couldn’t keep his tempter in check worth a lick. But he got things done.
After a game of musical chairs without the music, everyone arranged themselves, those left out stood leaning against the combines, idly picking dried strands of barley, wheat or oats from the reel and tines.
“Well?” Jerry stood behind a rickety waist high table, eyes to the congregation, scanning every face. “I am about sick, of those god damned extra terrestrials -”
“Extra terrorists more like..” someone murmured. A brief wave of chuckles ensued.
“Yes! Who said that! Who said that? That is god damned right. You sir? You are right on. Extra terrorists…” Jerry lingered on the expression, handling the new toy in his mind. “Like we need any more of those! When will the government take us seriously? Is it because we live in the country? You’re abso-lutely dead on it is. If this was happening in Chicago, New York..or..or..Los Angeles, there would be no problem. It would have been dealt with. The government looks after its city people. But here we are my friends, my relatives, my neighbours…nobody cares about us.”
Loud whooping and hollering broke out mixed with whistles.
Someone had to ask. “What about the food?” “Yeah…” murmurs of dissent broke out, mainly in the back section.
Jerry pretended not to hear, concentrating on his notes. “Well, truth be told, My darling wife…had a mix up with the freezer. For some god damned reason she unplugged it by mistake last week to get her curlers heated…in the basement… So there’s no barbecue, the meat spoiled. But there will be coffee and juice.”
“Will it be frozen?” quipped someone.
“Back to task people, back to task. How are we going to deal with the chaos? I tell you one way. We keep records of every single occurence. Anecdotal ain’t enough. We need spreadsheets, video and audio and pictorial evidence. And apart from that we need to look in to insurance policies that cover our assets. Let’s more closely define ‘an act of god’. If I see another god damned crop circle – I don’t care how beautiful and intricate they are, and yes indeed they make a great picture – I will do something crazy, I’ll hold the govnor hostage, I’ll, I’ll…go to Washington and squat in the White House…
Jerry was on the tail end of his ramble, I was looking up along with every other person except Jerry, it sounded like the roof was about to cave in, wood squealing. Then a piercing blue light filtered down as bits of barn began to peel away, debris falling on us.
In a mad scramble people squeezed passed the harvesters. Jerry was rooted to his spot when I turned around waiting to escape. With an almighty roar, I witnessed the sound of twisting splintering wood, and then – then the whole roof was taken clean off as if by a tin opener. The structure went crashing to the ground on the outside.
A blinding blue light appeared unobstructed, it felt warm and enticing. There were at least twenty of us still inside gawping at the triangle of blue utterly transfixed.
A second later the light shifted and two harvesters began to ascend as if they were weightless, plucked by invisible force up and up, until above the remains of the barn roof.
“Jerry!” I yelled, unable to take my eyes off the light, the harvesters rising still. Despite the brightness, the feeling I was lit up in every cell of my body, it wasn’t blinding. “JERRRRYYY!? JERRRY!”
“I think they heard you…”