Aphelion Issue 263, Volume 25
July 2021
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Forum
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
Dan's Promo Page
   

From the Very Face of the Earth...

by J. B. Hogan


Dora Pearcy wore curlers in her thinning red hair not to improve her looks -- which they no longer could and definitely did not -- but for the quality of the radio reception they provided. The curlers helped bring in the signals Dora heard with near daily regularity. Signals that were directed to her and nobody else. Signals from very far away.

Sometimes when she was hanging her unmentionables on the makeshift clothesline she had rigged between her trailer and a nearby light pole there in Shady Acres Trailer Park where she had lived for the better part of ten years -- always, of course, keeping on guard for that nasty, bald-headed old Mr. Chase from two trailers down -- on some of those times Dora could hear the transmissions perfectly. They were nice transmissions mostly, but occasionally became a little naughty, particularly when they proposed very personal contact -- something about probes. This latter type reception, both titillating and terrifying, had begun to occur more often than Dora really liked to acknowledge.

She remembered when the strange, far-off sounding voices had begun. Everett, her third husband, had just passed away from some sort of gastro-intestinal problem -- oddly enough, her first two husbands had passed from the same cause -- and the police had come to the trailer repeatedly, talking very rudely to her, suggesting bad things, not treating her properly.

One hot afternoon, after the last visit from the police about Everett and after she had put her curlers on in preparation for going out to the Bingo parlor down the block -- oh, Dora loved her Bingo and kind-hearted, boring Everett had left her plenty of money for playing her favorite game -- that hot afternoon, she received her first transmission.

At first it wasn't very clear and she wasn't sure what was happening. The voices had been hard to understand through the static. They were high-pitched, almost childish voices. Dora had just given her curlers a good tap with her thumb and forefinger and went on about her business. For a few days the voices stopped. But after a visit by a not very nice man from the district attorney's office, the transmissions came back loud and clear, and regularly.

When she finally got used to them, Dora found the voices to be rather comforting, mostly. They told her not to worry, that things would be okay. That she was alright. They always came to her after some troubling person or event had bothered her and Dora thought that was kind of them. Right away she noticed the connection between her curlers and the signals coming in and so the former were now seldom, if ever, out of her hair. She knew it was her link to out there, to beyond, to the mostly good stuff.

Sometimes, though, Dora reluctantly had to admit to herself, her contacts insisted she do certain things that were not always so good. For one thing, they suggested she invite nasty old Mr. Chase from two trailers down for dinner and cook him the same beef stew -- with her special spices in it -- that she had fed her late husband Everett, but Dora didn't cotton much to that idea. She shook her head and mumbled "no" to the voices.

The voices had gone quiet then for several days and Dora began to worry they had left her for good. She apologized to them, begged their forgiveness, promised to think about feeding Mr. Chase her special stew. To Dora's joy, the voices started up again. Louder, more excited, more demanding. They insisted on the dinner date.

Mr. Chase, of course, was thrilled to get the invitation. Dora sniffed to think how readily he did so. Mr. Chase would try to touch her somewhere bad, she was sure of that. He had a bad reputation in the trailer park. He whistled at all the women, leered at the young girls, winked at them all. Dora shuddered to think of what a "sicko" Mr. Chase was. But the voices insisted. Even promised they would come to her, show themselves, explain who they were. Dora shivered to think of how wonderful that would be, how thrilling.

The voices gave her some hints about themselves. They were not of this world, they told her, but had traveled millions of light years for the sole purpose of contacting Dora. Although it was obvious that they were vastly superior to earthlings, they assured her that all they wanted to do was introduce her to their customs, to give her knowledge of their world. They promised to take her up to their spacecraft. To show her around, maybe give her a few tests to see how earth people differed from them.

On the night of the dinner date with repulsive old Mr. Chase, the voices were so loud in Dora's head they nearly made her forget to add the special spice to the stew.

"Quiet down," she warned the voices, as she liberally sprinkled the special spice over the stew and then stirred it into the thick meaty mixture, "you almost made me mess up dinner."

"What's that?" Mr. Chase called out from the small space off the kitchen that Dora called the dining area of her old, cluttered single-wide trailer.

"Nothing," Dora replied, poking her head around the corner of the narrow doorway separating the tiny kitchen from the rest of the trailer. "Nothing at all."

"Oh," Mr. Chase said, giving Dora an oily, unwanted leer.

"Disgusting," Dora muttered under her breath as she turned back to the stew.

To pay Mr. Chase back for his leer and his general bad attitude, Dora tossed in another good pinch of the special spice crying out "bam" like she'd seen that cooking man do on TV.

Mr. Chase had a hearty appetite. He ate one big plate full of stew, with a large piece of buttered cornbread and then another. Dora could barely watch him without getting nauseous. Bits of food flew out of the corners of his mouth and when he smiled his leering smile at her she had to look away to keep from gagging at the sight of little pieces of meat between his yellow, crooked teeth.

As soon as he finished his third, tall glass of iced tea, Dora hustled the bloated Mr. Chase out of the trailer. Just as she knew he would, Mr. Chase tried to grab her by the door, putting his big, smelly body next to hers in a repellent attempt to hug and kiss her. Dora nearly had to put a knee into his unthinkables to keep him back and she almost caused him to fall down the rusted steps of her trailer as she pushed him down and away from her.

Dora closed the door on his final words but she heard enough to know Mr. Chase had high hopes of repeating the evening's event and that next time perhaps their "relationship" could move to the next level -- whatever that meant. Shaking her shoulders as if a cold wind had just brushed across her bare neck and head, Dora snorted and pushing the door tightly closed, carefully secured and locked it.

####

Sergeant Ralph Hanson munched happily, with no visible sense of irony at the police stereotype he presented to those in the restaurant around him, on a large, powdered-sugar covered donut. He and his partner Corporal Tom Atkins had stopped for coffee and a sweet treat at Jimmy's Diner, a local greasy spoon with the reputation of having the best cakes, pies, donuts, and coffee in town.

"Another cup, Corporal?" Lou Ann, one of the mainstays in Jimmy's waiting corps and its most veteran member, asked.

"Not for me," Atkins declined, covering the top of his mug with his left hand.

Sgt. Hanson, smiling a powdered-sugar smile, held his cup out and wagged it up and down for Lou Ann to refill.

"You're gonna get fat as a pig," Cpl. Atkins warned his partner. "Slammin' those greasy sugar bombs all day."

"You fret too much," Sgt. Hanson countered, but he did pull in his growing stomach and give it a loud swat with his left hand. Cpl. Atkins could see little flakes of white appear on the sergeant's clean khaki uniform.

"I guess so," he allowed.

The corporal checked the front page of the local paper, The Martinsville Monitor.

"Says here, Ralph," he told his partner, who belatedly covered his mouth after a small burp, that there's going to be a big meteor shower tonight. Should be able to see it really well if the weather stays clear."

"What time?" Sgt. Hanson asked.

"From nine to eleven according to this," Cpl. Atkins read.

"We could drive out to the dam and check it out after our shift," Sgt. Hanson suggested.

"Take a couple of brews. Watch the show."

"I don't know," Cpl. Atkins shook his head, "my wife... "

"There might be flying saucers mixed in with the falling stars," Sgt. Hanson proclaimed.

"What?" Cpl. Atkins asked, shutting off an image of his wife reading him the riot act for coming in late after his shift -- once again. "What are you talking about?"

"Some people think that's how they come in all the time to watch us," Sgt. Hanson declared. "They mix in with these meteor showers."

"You should've never gone to Roswell that time," Cpl. Atkins laughed. He gave Lou Ann the waitress, who had continued to hover nearby, a wink. She shook her head and smiled.

"I'm just telling you," Sgt. Hanson said.

"You should go hang out with that old Mrs. Pearcy out at the trailer park, then," Cpl. Atkins ribbed his partner. "They say she talks to the space aliens all the time."

"I'm serious," Sgt. Hanson.

"So is she," Cpl. Atkins again laughed. "Uh, oh."

"What is it?" Sgt. Hanson wondered.

Cpl. Atkins dug into the right pocket of his uniform pants and pulled out a pager. He had put it on vibrate so as not to bother the other diners.

"We got a call," he told Sgt. Hanson.

"Let's go," the sergeant said, rising and tossing a couple of bills on the counter by his coffee cup.

"'Night, Lou Ann," Cpl. Atkins called back as the officers hurried out of the diner.

"'Preciate it."

"Good night, officers," Lou Ann called after the policemen, "don't take any plug nickels from them spacemen."

####

Lighting at the Shady Acres Trailer Park was not very good and Dora Pearcy had complained about it to the management numerous times. Tonight, however, that poor lighting was a benefit. By walking around to the back of her trailer and then past a couple of big trees, Dora was able to see the night's meteor shower in all its glory. Dora watched the streaking meteors with something like the awe she had felt when seeing a shooting star as an innocent girl, one safe from the concupiscent longings of degenerate men and the no doubt painful probings of strange off-world beings.

About forty-five minutes into the shower, just as Dora was beginning to think about going back inside to have a snack and maybe a small something to drink, she saw it -- an especially bright meteor. It was different than the others, not just because it was much brighter, which it was, but because it was not whitish, but green, foggy green, huge, and oh so scary close.

This meteor, fuzzy and greenish, came in slower than the others, larger, slower, apparently hitting down in a place that looked to be only a few miles outside of town. Dora expected a loud noise, an explosion, fire, something, but there was nothing. All was quiet. She wondered if others had seen the meteor, if that was what it was, and she considered calling the authorities but her recent experiences with the police negated that option right away.

Although she was feeling a little unsettled after the big meteor came down, Dora stayed outside for a few minutes more, watching the sky and occasionally lifting her eyes to the horizon -- like her father had taught her when she was a little girl -- in order to see if there was anything moving out that way. Holding her left hand above her eyes to shield them from what little light the trailer park gave off, Dora watched the base of a line of trees maybe a quarter mile away.

"Oh, heavens," she squeaked.

There was movement by the trees. She checked again. Nothing at first, but then there it was again. Definite movement.

"Dear Lord," she cried.

Flinging up her arms in terror, Dora hurried for the safety of her trailer. Stumbling breathlessly up the front stairs, she fumbled at the door before finally getting it open and rushing inside. She quickly locked and bolted the door and slid the chain on. Working feverishly, she pushed a thick chair in front of the door and piled a big trashcan on top of that.

For several minutes she stood before the door, afraid to breath, hoping against hope that she had barricaded herself in enough to stop whoever or whatever was outside. Finally, she began to relax a bit, to calm down. She exhaled slowly and backed away from the door. Just as she did there was a scratching on the window screen directly behind her in the living room. Turning slowly towards the noise, Dora held her arms tightly against her body as if that would protect her from any shock that might be awaiting. It didn't.

"Oh, my God," she shrieked, flinging her arms up protectively in front of her face. "Help. Help. Get away. Get away from there."

Outside, through the living room window, Dora could see them. Them. The ones with big, black eyes. The ones with skinny little bodies, huge heads, long spider-like arms. The ones on the covers of the tabloids down at the grocery store. The ones that were always photographed walking with whoever was the sitting president. It was them, those, the ones.

"Please, please," Dora moaned, her mind racing with visions of light beams taking her up into a spacecraft, of strange beings in strange settings, of unspeakable examinations on and in her body, of abductions to places far, far from the familiar world of Shady Acres Trailer Park.

"Help," Dora moaned again, just before her eyes glazed over and she fell face first onto the couch beneath the living room window, face first onto the scratchy, cloth surface of the couch, face first -- completely unconscious.

####

"Whoa," Cpl. Atkins exclaimed, looking out the rider's window of the police cruiser, "did you see that?"

"What, what?" Sgt. Hanson asked, breaking the cruiser. "What is it?"

"An unbelievable meteor," Cpl. Atkins said, "didn't you see it?"

"No," Sgt. Hanson answered. "I'm driving."

"It was really bright and really close," Cpl. Atkins explained. "I swear it must've hit just a couple of miles over there to the east, or less. In the direction of Shady Acres."

"Convenient," Sgt. Hanson commented.

"Yeah," Cpl. Atkins replied. "Convenient."

When the two policemen pulled up to Dora Pearcy's trailer a few minutes later, there was no light on inside.

"Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson called, after knocking several times on the door of the old woman's trailer. "Mrs. Pearcy, it's the police. Open up, please."

"Maybe she's not home," Cpl. Atkins suggested.

"Where in the world would she go?" Sgt. Hanson shrugged off the idea.

"I don't know," Cpl. Atkins said, scrunching up his shoulders.

"Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson repeated several more times.

"Let's go," Cpl. Atkins said, fidgeting around. The place was beginning to give him the creeps. No sign of the old lady, the bright meteor.

"Shh," Sgt. Hanson hissed. "Listen."

The policemen heard some shuffling around from inside the trailer, some low mumbling, and then a light came on.

"Thank God you're here, oh, thank God," Dora Pearcy exclaimed, throwing open her narrow front door. "They were coming in."

"Who was coming in?" Sgt. Hanson asked, reflexively reaching down for his handgun, a 9mm Glock.

He peered past Mrs. Pearcy but could see no one else in the trailer. Cpl. Atkins, hand on weapon as well, checked the area around and behind the officers outside the trailer.

"Them," Dora croaked, pointing towards the back wall of her trailer and the small window there.

"Keep me covered," Sgt. Hanson told his partner, "and watch for movement out here."

"Affirmative," Cpl. Atkins responded.

"Come on in, Tom," Sgt. Hanson called out from the doorway just a few moments later. "False alarm."

"False alarm?" Cpl. Atkins asked, stepping up into the trailer. Despite the all clear, he kept one hand near his pistol. "What's up?"

"Would you like to tell Cpl. Atkins what you told me, Mrs. Pearcy?" Sgt. Hanson asked the old lady, with a roll of the eyes for his partner. Cpl. Atkins scrunched his shoulders again. He didn't quite get it yet.

"They were coming in after me," Dora explained. "Spacemen. Just like on the covers of those magazines at the grocery store. I saw them. They were right there in the window, just as plain as the nose on your face. They want me. They want to give me tests." The police officers exchanged knowing glances.

"What kind of tests, ma'am?" Cpl. Atkins asked, repressing a smile.

"I don't want to talk about it," Dora answered, not looking at either policeman.

"Oh, no?" Sgt. Hanson picked up the thread. "Why not?"

"Because they're bad, and they give bad tests. They check you in places they shouldn't. It hurts."

"Can you describe these, uh, spacemen to us, Mrs. Pearcy?" Sgt. Hanson inquired politely.

"Everyone's seen them," Dora told the officers. "They're on the cover of those magazines like I told you."

"Tall? Skinny? Fat?" Sgt. Hanson said, winking at Cpl. Atkins. The corporal smiled.

"You don't believe me," Dora blurted out. "You think I made this up. Well, they're out there, I tell you. They're just waiting."

"Waiting for what, Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson asked soberly.

"Waiting to take me to their ship, of course," Dora said. "What did you think?"

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson said calmly.

"Have they been here before?" Cpl. Atkins interjected.

"I told you they give me tests," Dora sniffed.

"Sorry, ma'am," the corporal apologized.

"When were they here before, Mrs. Pearcy?" Sgt. Hanson picked up the questioning again.

"Right after my late husband, Everett, my third husband, passed away," Dora reflected. "Yes... that was when they came."

"He died rather sudden like, didn't he?" Sgt. Hanson reminded Dora.

The old woman looked down at her feet and muttered something.

"What was that, ma'am?" Sgt. Hanson asked.

"I said," Dora answered in a little bit of a screech that caught both policemen slightly off guard, "he had a weak stomach."

"That's interesting, Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson said, "because Cpl. Atkins and I were just driving over to see you about another gentleman with a weak stomach."

"What?" Dora grunted. "What's that?"

"Did you make dinner for your neighbor, Mr. Chase, earlier tonight, Mrs. Pearcy?" Cpl. Atkins threw in.

"Mr. Chase?" Dora said, looking confused.

"Your neighbor, Mr. Chase." Cpl. Atkins repeated. "Earlier tonight. Dinner."

"I don't... I, uh... " Dora began.

"Mr. Chase apparently ate something that didn't agree with him tonight," Sgt. Hanson explained to the old woman. "He had to go to the Emergency Room at the hospital. Had his stomach pumped. The doctors ran some tests to see what might have caused the problem. They won't be ready until the morning but since Mr. Chase told us he had eaten here with you tonight, we thought we should check and see if you knew what might have caused him to get sick."

"Me?" Dora wondered, looking from one policeman to the other. "How would I? Oh... my. But what about the spacemen? What about them?"

"Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson said gently, "we need you to stay here on Planet Earth with us right now. Poor Mr. Chase is very sick."

"Poor Mr. Chase," Dora parroted.

"Can you think of anything you made Mr. Chase tonight that might have made him sick, Mrs. Pearcy?" Cpl. Atkins asked.

"Made him?" Dora said, eyes glazed over. "Made him."

"Never mind, ma'am," Cpl. Atkins said. "We'll come back to see you in the morning after the tests are in. We'll have a better idea then."

"A better idea," Dora repeated.

"Ma'am," Sgt. Hanson said, "please try to understand this. Do not go anywhere tonight, all right? Stay here. We'll be back early in the morning to see you. Okay?"

"You have to go?" Dora wondered. "Now? What about them?"

"Them?" Cpl. Atkins queried.

"The spacemen," Sgt. Hanson told his partner.

"Oh," Cpl. Atkins said, snapping his fingers.

"Please don't go," Mrs. Pearcy suddenly begged the officers. "Please. They're waiting out there for me. They're going to take me away. And give me bad tests. Probes. Probes they call them."

"We have to go now, ma'am," Sgt. Hanson said, "but we'll do a thorough check around the trailer before we leave. You'll be all right. You'll be fine."

"Please," Dora weakly moaned as the policemen made their way back outside. "Please." She stood in the doorway while the officers made their check of the area around the trailer.

"It's okay, Mrs. Pearcy," Sgt. Hanson called from beside the police car. "No one is in sight. Everything is okay. We'll see you in the morning."

"In the morning," Dora groaned, swaying back and forth in the doorway to her trailer as the policemen drove off into the night. "In the morning... morning."

####

The police officers had been gone less than five minutes when the others came for Dora. She made no effort to resist them. All resistance was, as she had heard someone say, futile. They came out of her closets, from under the trailer, from the stand of trees just beyond Shady Acres. There were so many of them. And the lead one spoke to her.

"Are you ready to go, Mrs. Pearcy?" he asked, his big black eyes dull and expressionless.

"Where?" Dora asked, already knowing the answer and dreading what would go on when they got to their destination. "Where are we going?"

"To a better place," the lead one said, although Dora doubted his truthfulness, "to a far better place."

"Oh, my," Dora sighed, patting the curlers on her head. "Oh my, indeed."

####

The first thing Sgt. Ralph Hanson and Cpl. Tom Atkins did the morning after they had visited Dora Pearcy at her trailer in the Shady Acres Trailer Park was stop by the hospital for the test results on what had made old Mr. Chase so sick. With a photocopy of those results placed between them in the police cruiser they drove straight back to Mrs. Pearcy's mobile home. The lights were on in the trailer but the front door was swung wide open and it didn't look as if anyone was inside.

"Lights are on," Cpl. Atkins joked as the policemen parked their vehicle in front of Dora's trailer, "but it don't look like anybody's home."

"You check around the outside of the trailer," Sgt Hanson said, not laughing. "I'll go inside."

"Got it," Cpl. Hanson said, wiping the smile off his face, "but holler if you see anything. I got your back."

"Right," Sgt. Hanson said, maybe a little doubtfully. "I'll be careful."

Cpl. Atkins, hand resting on his handgun, walked cautiously around the trailer looking for what he wasn't sure. All he saw were some flattened down places in the sparse grass and something that looked like strips of gelatin that had been dropped at odd intervals behind the home. He had bent down to more closely inspect the gelatinous material when Sgt. Hanson called to him.

"Coming," Cpl. Atkins yelled back, scurrying around the side of the trailer to the front door. "What's up?"

"Nothing," Sgt. Hanson said.

"Nothing?" Cpl. Atkins repeated. "What do you mean?"

"Just that," Sgt. Hanson replied. "There's no sign of the old lady. None at all."

"You checked inside?"

"Yeah."

"Everywhere?"

"I said I checked."

"You suppose she knew we were coming back?" Cpl. Atkins asked.

"Let's check everything again," Sgt. Hanson suggested.

The policemen checked Dora Pearcy's trailer again from front to back, side to side, every cabinet, closet, room -- every inch of the place. All they found were some burnt places around two windows, windows that were partially pushed open.

"I got a funny feeling about this," Sgt. Hanson commented as the officers stood again in the doorway of the trailer.

"She must've known we finally had the goods on her," Cpl. Atkins offered. "Still, she couldn't have got far."

"I don't know," Sgt. Hanson said, "I don't know."

"Don't know?" Cpl. Atkins asked. "What? You're not buying into that spacemen thing she was jabberin' on about, are you? Come on."

"Well, she's certainly not here," Sgt. Hanson said.

"Let's take the cruiser and drive around," Cpl. Atkins said. "We'll find her. She's probably only a few blocks from here."

"Yeah, maybe so," Sgt. Hanson agreed. "She's bound to be close by."

But the policemen, after driving all over town and half the county, could find no trace of Dora Pearcy. She was nowhere to be found. There was no sign of her whatsoever.

After a few days, Dora officially became a missing person. The lecherous Mr. Chase, his stomach pumped clean, made a full recovery, vowing never to pursue older women again. In time, Sgt. Hanson and Cpl. Atkins made fewer and fewer trips by Dora's trailer in Shady Acres until the case became cool, cooler, then cold.

It was, the policemen had to admit to themselves if not to others, as if Dora Pearcy had disappeared into thin air. She never returned to her trailer in Shady Acres nor to anywhere in the area, as far as anyone ever knew. It seemed that she had, indeed, left this world, that she had vanished from the very face of the earth.

####

Dora woke to blackness and a mild headache. As her eyes adjusted to the dim ambient light, she could see a small porthole off to her left. In the distance, far below and behind her it seemed, she could hear the faint pounding of some kind of machine, perhaps a large engine.

Blinking, she rolled slightly onto her side and peered out the little porthole nearby. The deep black sky beyond was punctuated by myriad, crisply bright stars or other heavenly bodies. Heavenly bodies that were moving, or being moved past, at a rapid rate.

"Oh, my," Dora whispered, fearful of her new surroundings. "My goodness."

A brushing sound close by caused Dora to stop speaking immediately. She could tell she was not alone. She could feel the presence of others there with her, there in the dark. Suppressing an instinct to cry out, Dora squeezed her own body within itself, trying to become as small and inconspicuous as possible. Suddenly, she felt them all move around her, brushing against her, touching her with their long, angly limbs.

"Relax, Mrs. Pearcy," a voice spoke, causing Dora to involuntarily jerk her body upwards, off the metal, bunk-like surface upon which she lay. The voice sounded like someone speaking from the bottom of a well lined with steel. "Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be alright."

"No, no," Dora cried out plaintively, uselessly, as innumerable scrawny arms and bony fingers began touching her, nudging her, probing her -- in places that weren't proper. "Please."

"It will all be over soon," the same strange voice spoke again. "Just lie back and relax. This won't hurt a bit."

"Aaagh!" Dora groaned, surrendering to the unspeakable acts being perpetrated upon her by these heinous beings.

Taking in a huge lung full of air, Dora released it with a mighty scream that commingled equal parts terror and pain. But it was no use. Who was there to hear her cries, who there to save her, who indeed? No one. Not now. Not ever. They had finally come for her just as she had known they would and there was no remedy for it. She would never see her home again, or go to Bingo, or see her little patch of the trailer park with that filthy old Mr. Chase.

"We're going to take your curlers off now," the tinny, echo-like voice spoke close to Dora's ear.

"What?" she fretted, thinking of her messy, thinning hair being seen by so many strange beings all at one time, "what?"

"You won't be needing them anymore," the voice told her.

"No," Dora agreed with a little sob. "No, of course not."

"Just lie back now and let us finish our job."

"Yes," Dora acquiesced, a warm, golden glow of understanding flowing over and through her tired old body.

The worst wasn't so bad when it finally happened to you, she remembered having heard someone say once in a movie or something. She was beyond it all, now, anyway. She had been taken up, beyond her little trailer park, beyond the petty worries and concerns of her day to day life, beyond the blue-green orb of the earth itself.

"Yes," she repeated, as the probes moved in and out and over her body from every conceivable angle. "Yes."

Dora was content, finally, even happy. The probes no longer hurt. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes. She was at peace, fully relaxed. A little smile played along the edges of her dry lips. She could see long, angly limbs and fingers waving akimbo above her, around her, hurrying to their tasks. But the little smile on Dora's lips did not fade. It remained as it was, unchanging, unaltered, eternal.

THE END


© 2008 J. B. Hogan

Bio: J. B. Hogan is a fiction writer and poet living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has a Ph.D. in English (Literature) from Arizona State University (1979) and worked for many years as a technical writer. His writing credits include the four-story fiction chapbook Near Love Stories online at Cervena Barva Press (forthcoming) and short stories, poems, and creative or academic non-fiction in: Istanbul Literary Review, Rumble, The Swallow’s Tail, Poesia, Bewildering Stories, Avatar Review, Copperfield Review, Ascent Aspirations, Megaera, The Pedestal Magazine, Dogwood Journal, Mastodon Dentist, Poets Against War, The Square Table, Raving Dove, Mid-America Folklore Journal, Mobius, Viet Nam Generation, Flashback, The Mark Twain Journal, Arizona Quarterly, and San Francisco Review of Books. Two of his stories have appeared in past editions of Aphelion, the most recent being Coyoacan, May, 2008.

E-mail: J. B. Hogan

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.