Friday, October 1, 2010

The Harrowers, Part Five

I awoke to a fresh fall of snow. It powdered the farm and the countryside. I hopped off the tire-swing, disappointed by the lack of excitement that evening, but eager to feel the truck's heater again. It didn't occur to me right away that the landscape had changed since I'd first seen it. I was on my way back when a circuit went off in my holy-shit cortex, and I stood letting the snow prick my forehead while summoning the will to turn around. When I finally managed it, I took a few more seconds to assemble the image beyond the darkness and snowfall, and a few more thereafter to assure myself that I wasn't sleep-drunk and hallucinating. The image wouldn't reason itself away, so I kept on staring, awestruck. 

A spindly, many-legged edifice loomed out from within the cornfield, half a kilometer away and maybe ten meters high. No, not an edifice. A craft. The silhouette of it looked like a giant spider shouldering a lighthouse, with a bulbous base tapering up into a faintly luminous rod, the end of which glowed blue. It wasn't moving and it wasn't making noise and I didn't have the faintest fucking clue how it got there, or why I hadn't heard it land. Now your average eight-year-old would've probably left upon seeing such a thing; hell, any average person with a mote of self-preservation and a working pair of legs would've booked it, curiosity be damned. I wasn't any such person. I'd read enough Welles to know better, yes, but I also knew that this would be my only chance at sating my curiosity. So I took it. 

I went to the edge of the cornfield and peered inside. The notion hit me that I might get lost in such a field, it being nighttime, and cold, and with a source of terror therein to strain my sanity; understand, though, that none of these mattered, and that any reasons not to take a risk merely assemble in my mind as reasons to take that risk. I'm akin to the obstinate pawn who sees the board-end closer when bishops block his way. Thus I took a long, deep gulp of air, and went in. 
To explain my journey, let me note that half a mile on an open path equals ten miles in a cornfield. This is due to the drag of stalks on one's clothing as well as the tricks of the scenery that null one's sensibilities, the last of which may be likened to a scuba-diver in the ocean who, being too far from the surface, loses all hope of direction but that which his bubbles provide. Only here I didn't have such an analogue, and could only press on through fold after fold of snapping cornstalks, merely hoping my direction hadn't changed. An itch of panic set in once I'd gotten deep enough. The stalks started looking like arms and legs; the snapping sounded like speech. I wondered how far I was from the farm and whether it could get any colder. 

When the craft became visible again, I steadied my breathing, then ducked down in the naive attempt to not be seen. Ice had already glazed over the metal, but several gaps in the structure emitted a faint blue glow similar to the glow of its apex. After circling the craft to scope it out, I went up to inspect its legs. These bore into the soil, crushing stalks in the process. I counted seven legs in all, each double-jointed and spaced evenly around.

When I got to the base of the craft, I expected to see an aperture open, maybe a cowbeam shoot down to pick me up. Instead, to my greater horror, a nest of wires unfurled from its center and surrounded me. Like silkworms, they sealed me in a bubble of latticed, white-blue energy, then retracted into the alcove while a door in the outer base slid open. I couldn't see beyond the door, as I was trapped below it, but the light within that spilled across the field betrayed a shadow of the Visitor, an eldritch, three-legged thing that trundled out to see who'd come knocking. I was now a prisoner of the Harrowers.