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Lights in the Woods
Corny sighed as he and his brother pushed through yet ANOTHER bush, with still no signs of civilization. Devin ALWAYS got them into trouble, looking for weird things in the woods. Not necessarily even in the woods. Devin was always dragging him on his wild goose chases, insisting on bringing their dog, Bartholomew, every time.
This time it was some sort of Will-o-Wisp, probably swamp gas, or some older kids messing around. Neither himself or Devin were in high school yet, so everybody out of the eight grade was “older”. On Devin's last chase, Corny had ended up stumbling on a bunch of them drinking something out of a paper bag.
That's the sort of thing Devin always thought would end up being something supernatural. “Oh, a party of hill fairies! Oh, it's an Alien inscription on this rock!” Never was.
So, now Corny's brand new Nike's were covered in a squelchy slime he didn't even WANT to identify. Devin was his younger brother by one year, just going into seventh grade; he couldn't go out in the middle of the night all alone. That's what brothers were for, right?
“Come on Corny!” Devin hissed under his breath, not even turning his head. His eyes were affixed to the dancing light not so far ahead. Devin had been the one to think up the name Corny, short for Cornelius. Now that's what everybody called him. Devin spoke agani, shattering Corny's flashback.
“Come on, we're real close now!”
Corny just grumbled, following his brother. “Dev, we need to go back, mom's gonna figure out we're gone!”
Devin put a finger to his lips. “Sssssh!”
Poor timing to hush me, because, as we got closer, Bartholomew yelped and ran towards home, howling like the devil himself had come calling.
“Bartholomew!” Corny hissed, but the dog was long gone. “Dev, we need to go back, NOW.” The dog had been spooked before when he gut pulled on these chasses, but this...this was different. Corny got s strange feeling in his gut, more like maggots then butterflies. “I don't feel right; we should leave.”
Devin just shook his head, a dazed smile plastered on his face, turning back to the path ahead. There were some vines and branches in the way.
“Just a little farther, we can't give up now.” he reached his hand up to part the growth, the glow of the light just piercing the darkness...
“No!” Corny yelled, but it was too late. His brother tore into the wall of the clearing, revealing a column of light. Not the dancing orb from before, it had spread, towering into the sky like a spotlight. Or maybe, it was towering down. Corny looked up for the source of the light, and saw something, something ENORMOUS, spinning, spinning hundreds of feet up in the air.
The two boys just stood and stared, two very different expressions hanging on their faces. Devin's, of course, was pure bliss and understanding. Everything he believed in, or at least some of it, was actually true. Corny couldn't help but be filled with dread. It washed over him, and he wished the swampy ground beneath his shoes could rise and swallow him up, anything to stay away from that light. The light flashed, expanded, and disappeared. The only sounds were the chittering insects.
Corny blinked a few times. He couldn't see much, only some moving lights and shapes. He heard some strange beeping noises, and tried to move. He couldn't. What was going on? Then he heard something, emanating from two figures just ut of sight.
“Subjects 5039 and 4786Z acquired.”
“Will they be missed?”
“Two parents, a smattering of friends.”
“Wipe the parents and friends, then program coordinated for our next destination.”
“5039 is awake now, sir.”
And that's all Corny heard before slipping back into a deep, warm slumber.
Two adults, a man and a woman, stand behind a basic suburban home, looking up at the stars. They each wear wedding rings. The woman turns to look at the house.
“You know, I don't know why we keep this house, it's far too big. There are too many bedrooms for just the two of us.”
The man shrugged. “Let's wait till the market gets better.”
A dog bursts from the woods, tackling the man.
“Woah boy! Who are you?” The man smiles. He'd always liked dogs, but they had never gotten one. He checks the tags.
“Honey, look at this,” he motions to his wife, and showed her the tags. “Isn't that odd?”
The woman nodded. “The tags read our address. But we don't have a dog.”
“I know! Well, maybe they just got printed wrong. We'll take him to the pound tomorrow, see if he's got one of those newfangled whatchamacallits.”
“The computer implants?”
“Yeah, those. Somebody's gotta be looking for him,”
They nod, and the man brings the dog into the warm light of the house. The woman looks up at the stars one more time. For a second there, she felt...it was probably nothing. She follows her husband into the house, and the stars wink down in the dark night.