The men assembled in the Hickok’s barn. Several gathered around the small pot belly stove while others lounged along the edges or sat at the benches. The teenage boys leaned against the animal pens. An air of tension filled the room.
This had been the makeshift school that was used in the winter months. Hector Overton strode up to the chalk board at the front of the room, cleared his throat and began. “Gentlemen, I’ve called for a meeting so that we could piece together some of the rumors that have been circulating of late.” He drew a shape that resembled their town and began:
Making a small circle in the corner he brought to mind the corn crops from the Hickok’s farm that had been ripped off their stalks, then made another little circle in the middle of the area and stated how the Abbott’s had found half a dozen of their sheep mutilated at the end of their pasture.
“Couldn’t be no Injuns! They only kill what they need to eat!” Oscar chimed in. “Maybe it’s them wolves. I keep hearin’ them howl at night, esp. when there’s a full moon.”
Hector looked around the room dramatically. Matilda says during a big thunderstorm she heard a loud humming noise and saw a bright object hover in the sky near the woods over by the Taylor’s place. Have any of you seen or heard of strange things happening? As some nodded, he asked “What have you to report?”
Nathan stood. “When me and my boy was huntin’ we come across a huge hole in the ground wat nev’r been there afore!” There was murmuring around the room. Jake and Aaron exchanged glances and Aaron kicked Jake in the ankle with a warning look not to say anything.
Oscar spoke up, “Aaw, cain’t be no UFO, I hear tell there is someone livin’ in them thar woods. . . Probably a deserter! I say we all go in at night with our lanterns and rout ‘em out. “
“Let’s not be hasty. We don’t know what we’re dealing with here.” Abbott spoke up. “Why, I read a metallic silver disc was seen hovering above the Himalayas. They observed the disc through their ‘looking glasses’ for some time until it disappeared behind the peaks.” Abbot continued “and there were reports of an alleged UFO crash and a burial of its alien pilot in the local cemetery.
“Aww, You don’t know wat you’re talking about!”
“But I red it, maybe ifen’ you could read you’d have a better feel for it.”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen!” Hector interrupted. “Let’s not be fighting amongst ourselves! We’ve got a bigger worry to concern ourselves with. What is going on in the woods!! We need to work together. What plan of attack should we make?” The room became silent as they tried to take in all that had been said.
. . . . . . .
Elizabeth leaned forward as she studied her reflection. “God must not love me. Look at the way he made me!”
“What’s the matter?” Danielle was by her side. She’d always admired her big sister.
“Humph, you’re a liar! I’m ugly. No boy is ever going to want me. Look at my hair! It’s long and straggly and my eyes look like they are too close to my nose.” She brushed her hair hard as if that would make it thicker. She was so absorbed in herself she didn’t realize Danielle had run from the room.
“An, besides that we can’t even get any larning. Only the boys! We have to learn how to sew and clean and bake. We’re supposed to be waitin’ on them boys like we was some kind of servant. It just ain’t fair!” “I want to be a lawyer. Do you think I’ll ever get a chance? No! never!” she pouted.
After complaining and muttering to herself repeatedly, she finally realized she was alone. She went to their parents room calling for Danielle. There was no response so she went to their brother’s room and then down to the kitchen.
“Ma, have you seen Danielle?”
“No, child. Is she outside?”
Elizabeth went everywhere she could think her sister might have gone. Soon she came back up the stairs to their room all the while calling “Dan-IE-lle!” She felt annoyed that she could have just disappeared so quickly. Suddenly she saw the tip of Danielle’s shoes in the corner between the wall and their bureau. Her legs were pulled up and her head buried on her knees. There was a faint sob coming from deep within her.
“Oh THERE you are!!. Why didn’t you come when I called you?”
“You aren’t Maw! I don’t have to answer to you!” came the rebellious response.
“What IS YOUR PROBLEM?” Elizabeth asked in an annoyed voice?
“You said I was a liar, but I’m NOT ’cause God hates liars. He even said so! I love God and I wouldn’t want to make him mad; and besides you ARRE beautiful. I wish I looked half as good as you!” With that her head went down and she cried again.
Feeling sorry for her impulsive words Elizabeth sank down beside her and tried to hug her “I’m sorry.” Danielle pulled away.
“Go away! You don’t care about me. You’re just saying it cause you’re afraid you’ll get in trouble with Maw if I tell her what you said” With that she jumped up and headed for the stairs. As she clamored down the stairs, Elizabeth was close behind. She was glad the stairs had a bend in them because it slowed Danielle down.
Mrs. Taylor spun around to see them tumble into the room. “What on earth?”
“’Lizabeth is sayin’ things about me that aren’t true”
“No, I Didn‘t!”
Girls, stop that right now!” “Elizabeth, I want you to go out into the garden and pick all the squash that is ripe, and Danielle, I want you to help me in the kitchen. Hurry, it’s nearly supper time!”
As Danielle set the table she was secretly glad that she didn’t have to be the one that had to work outside. Her little smile did not escape the watchful eyes of her mother.
Question to Readers:
What do YOU think is happening in the woods??