I registered late for the A-to-Z blogging challenge this year, so I have no real theme. In past years, I have done flash fiction inspired by readers' comments, and I'm happy to do that again, but this month the fiction will be peppered in amongst other random topics of my choosing. So suggest a story idea in a comment if you have one, otherwise I hope you will find my mental meanderings amusing!
I found myself falling upwards through the air out of a hole in the sandy ground - a totally unfamiliar terrain to me! At the last minute, I grabbed hold of a root sticking out near the surface and held on for dear life as I felt my legs flail behind me for a minute before they reacquainted themselves with gravity.
My knees landed with a thud behind me. Feeling stable, I finally let go of the root - finger by finger, keeping contact until the last minute.
What the heck had happened?
One second I'm digging a hole to bury my daughter's hedgehog behind our house in Argentina, the next I'm - where? A desert somewhere. Can someone turn off the sun?
As I looked around, I saw jeeps and military personnel skidding to abrupt stops around me. Three men were standing nearby, clearly the first on the scene. "Stop where you are!" I heard before I got any kind of look at anyone behind their riot gear. I've seen movies. Already on my knees, I held up my hands while keeping my head down.
What was going on?
My husband never agreed with the idea of burying dead pets. Was it a cultural thing? Back when I was growing up in Idaho, my mom buried all of our pets as they died. Or maybe he'd read Stephen King's Pet Semetary too often? But, since I was the one who relocated so he could be near his family, he allowed me this indulgence in my past memories - creating a tradition with our kids.
Now, here I was, but where was here?
A black hood had been pulled down over my head, and after a bumpy ride in what I assume was jeep, I was now in an enclosed, concrete block walled, industrially blank room. The hood was now removed, and I sat on a hard plastic chair facing two men in military fatigues. "How did you get here?" the seated man asked. He was the "good cop", I guessed.
"I was hoping you could tell me..." I said. I tried to smile, but I doubt it convinced them of my innocence.
"Where did you come from?" the same man asked. The other guy was pacing behind him like a panther in a cage.
"San Luis, Argentina. Where am I now?" Hopefully, giving them information would help them be forthcoming with information for me.
"Hey! We'll be asking the questions here!" came the voice from the silent stalker in the back.
"I'm just -"
He lunged toward me. "You're just nothing! What do you know?"
"Kai, calm down!" My savior the good cop chimed in. To me he said, "Excuse him. He gets sensitive when civilians make their way into his territory."
"So I'm in a territory." I was no spring chicken. Their accents screamed USA but territories are different than states. At least I had the gratifying experience of seeing these two men exchange a glance of recrimination - both blaming the other, if I was reading them right. I took their moment of silence to push my point. "Look, I was digging a hole in my backyard in San Luis, and as I reached in to clear some rocks I was pulled through to here. I don't know where this is, but my family will be looking for me."
As the pacing panther nodded toward a camera in the corner, the more easy-going one leaned in to say, "We'll check on all that." Of course someone was watching this interview. Was my family going to be okay?
Something must have showed on my face. Concern for my family or something, because he shrugged the responsibility over to stalker panther-man, who spun a chair around from a corner of the room and sat on it backwards. Leaning over the back of the chair, he squinted at me.
He said nothing for a long minute, then whispered. "You ever been abducted by aliens, Genevieve?"
How did they know my name? "uh..." I hadn't, but things were starting to click into place. I was in a desert. These were American military personnel. Now, ALIENS? "...no, I haven't." I said.
But I knew. I was in Area 51. The question was, would I ever get out?
This short Flash Fiction story was inspired by the prompt "an ordinary ritual in which something goes terribly wrong" offered by Barbie of Crackerberries, in a comment on my Q post. You're welcome to suggest any prompt in a comment and I'll get to it during A to Z or shortly thereafter.