WHJC - October 1985
Sounds - Simon
(page 6/9)


by Simon

The trees swayed gently in the cool midsummer night's breeze while the stars slowly blinked as passing clouds floated lazily through the sky. Sheriff Frank Williams drove slowly along the country lane, his glaring warning light shedding an unearthly crimson aura around the car. As he cruised around a bend in the road, the sky exploded into a thousand flashing lights. A dull throbbing filled the car intensifying to an ear-splitting crescendo.

Williams slammed his boot on the brake. The car jerked to a halt and he rocked gently in his seat as the music washed over him. An initial impulse to cover his ears was forgotten and a sense of satisfaction overcame him. Then it began to get warm. He was so tired; he just wanted to sleep; to lie down and sleep.

".... and here is the eight o'clock news."

The voice droned on as Dumarest slowly awoke. He stretched and clicked off the radio alarm clock. Briskly he dressed and breakfasted. As always, he was out of his house one hour after waking. A leisurely drive at a steady fifty miles per hour took him the five miles to Harrisville.

At nine-thirty sharp he opened his grocers store to a knot of customers chatting about the weekend's business. A thin couple passed before him and he caught a snippet of the conversation.

"... and she says they found ole Sheriff Williams' car burnt to a cinder, with not a trace of him anywhere"

"'Scuse me ladies", Dumarest interrupted "did you say the Sheriff had vanished"

"Yes siree", croaked the old woman then, drawing him close, whispered, "If you ask me it's those UFOs we been having"

Dumarest nodded understandingly. He never had and never would believe in such nonsense. The thought of critters from outer space made his skin crawl; but there was no proof of such things. Still, Sheriff Williams, the local police chief, had vanished. There had to be a logical explanation though. It was rumored that he had a mistress down in Baton Rouge and that Susie would never divorce him. He had probably run off with his mistress. Yes, that was it. Satisfied, he set about his work with his usual fervor and cheerfulness.

One by one the tiny lights switched on, and slowly the moon illuminated the lush green countryside. Dumarest closed his book and sat, starring at the fire for long moments. The car bothered him. He imagined its burnt out shell in the flickering tongues. His lids began to grow heavy and his shoulders sagged. A thin howl of wind whipped around the chimney and in an instant, an unseen hand snuffed out the fire, submerging the room into total darkness. Dumarest awoke with a start as the cold crept up his limbs.

Outside he heard the sound of the wind. Nothing wrong with that. As he rose to light the fire he noticed the noise was louder. A rushing sound like water, only softer, filled the air.

"Storm brewing", he mumbled.

The window burst open, shattering the silence. Glass tinkled onto the floor and rolled restlessly over the carpet. Wind rushed around the room buffeting him as he strode towards the window and glared at the damage.

"Damn' loose catch", he grumbled. Instinctively he looked up and the sound hit him like a physical blow, wrenching his breath away in that one split second. By the gate a signpost rattled in its socket, lamps over the porch vibrated violently, and a china figurine fell gently from the mantlepiece. Slowly it spun in the air, striking the mantlepiece with a resounding crack which echoed around the room. Dumarest whirled around moaning bitterly. Out of the corner of his eye he perceived a bright white light but paid no attention to it.

"Something happened last night", croaked Mrs. Jack. "I heard a rushing noise and saw these bright lights - it was one of those UFOs. I swear it".

The crowded store was attentive. Old Ben Tanner, who lived on his own up on Knott Hill, had vanished. Dumarest's delivery boy has found the house empty that morning, the door open and ashes all over the ground outside. Everyone claimed a belief in UFOs now. Dumarest chewed his lower lip nervously. Had he heard a UFO last night? He wasn't sure, but he no longer thought it was nonsense.. Instinctively Dumarest retreated into the back room at the store.

"What're ya doing Mr. Dumarest?"

"Oh," breathed Dumarest. "John. You gave me a real shock".

"Well sir?"

"I want my shotgun."

"You don't believe that talk about UFOs do you?"

He smiled, but toyed uneasily with a handful of cartridges.

Church that Sunday was tedious and Dumarest's disbelief in UFO's was beginning to return. Harrisville was getting back into the day to day routine of life after the two disappearances.

After supper with the Benjamines, Dumarest drove home through the darkening countryside. He noticed it was getting colder and he wound up the car window. A whistling sound, like wind only louder, sprang up. He stopped the car and listened intently.

A shrill scream pierced the dark, then diminshed rapidly. His hands trembled on the steering wheel; he gripped it fiercely, knuckles showing white through the skin. The wind became louder, roaring around the car, which rocked from side to side. Swearing, Dumarest fumbled in the back for his shotgun. Clumsily he fitted the cartridges in place and pushed open the door.

"Come on scum!" he shrieked.

A waterfall of red, white and blue lights fell to the ground ahead of him, and the noise drilled into his ears. His head began to ache and throbbing impulses of pain sliced across his forehead. He screamed, but the sound of his voice was drowned in the crescendo of noise.

Waterstones advert

Then it changed. There was music, pleasant and joyful, a mental rather than physical sensation. He smiled, it was so enjoyable. Suddenly an explosion shattered the spell and Dumarest regained his senses. Fear struck him, and whimpering, he tried to make his way to the car.

Stumbling like a new-born baby, he fell. Crawling forward he felt the heat on his back. Red hot pain sizzling through his clothes, scorching his flesh. A foul stench filled his nostrils as he retched.

The customers waited uneasily outside the grocery store. It had long gone nine-thirty, and Carl Dumarest was never late opening for business.

A little way from an isolated house, on a country lane, a pile of ash stirred lazily in the gentle breeze. The gray dust floated from the road to settle onto the grass, where it sank in the early morning dew.