Hello 27

A Sci-Fi Short Story written by T.J. Matthews

Hello 27

by T.J. Matthews

 

T.J Matthews’ stories have appeared in Aphelion Webzine and Alien Dimensions.

 

The car slowly crawled along that narrow country lane. It was a grief-black night where the only illumination came from the floating half-circles created by the car’s glowing headlights. There were no trees or bushes on either side of the road. There were no stars in the sky.

There were two men inside the car. Conor was in the driving seat. He was in his early sixties with short, silver-grey hair and two baggy, bloodhound eyes. He liked to give the impression that he had seen and done it all. He was wrong.

Dermot who in his late twenties, was sitting in the passenger seat. His lips twitched nervously. He had only recently joined the service. He was extremely zealous and passionately committed to the cause.

On the dashboard, there was a small red light flashing and beeping constantly.

I hate the countryside,” Dermot said.

Really,” Conor replied quietly.

Beep, beep.

I mean it’s pretty enough in the day-time, I suppose,” Dermot continued. “But at night it’s just acres and acres of nothingness. And emptiness. Which are kinda the same things I know, but you know what I mean.”

It’s not a complete wilderness, friend. There are rumours of real-life human beings living in these here parts.”

Beep, beep.

I know,” Dermot replied, “but they’re all asleep, aren’t they? Nobody’s out wandering the roads like us.”

Beep, beep.

Dermot stared out at the darkness beyond the car’s light.

Come out, come out wherever you are,” he said quietly.

There was a pause, before he continued “When this is all over, there’s going to have to be an investigation.”

Beep, beep

There will be,” Conor said. “Didn’t you hear the Director saying…?”

A real investigation,” Dermot interrupted. “Not an official one. Didn’t I bloody warn him this was going to happen?”

You did. Ad nauseum. Ad infinitum.”

Did they listen?”

Beep, beep.

No, they did not.”

Beep, beep.

I told them that one of these days, if you opened a pod too quickly, one of them would leap out and skedaddle.”

Beep, beep.

Yes, you did,” Conor said dryly. “It’s a scandal of epic proportions.”

Beep, beep.

Suddenly, Dermot raised his voice and violently pointed in the direction of the dashboard “And that bloody light’s driving me nuts”

Conor could not help but laugh as he replied, “My God, you really love your job, don’t you?”

Beep, beep.

Dermot smiled slightly.

Oh, I do. It’s great gas, altogether,” replied with a quiet sarcasm.

Suddenly, the light on the dashboard turned green.

It’s turned green,” Dermot said.

Conor glanced at it and replied “So, it has.”

The beep suddenly changed into a low, harsh buzz.

It’s buzzing, now.”

I concur.”

Is that supposed to do that? Please tell me it’s supposed to do that. I’ve had enough bloody surprises for the night.”

Buzz, buzz.

Conor nodded and said “It’s supposed to do that. It’s one of the new features our crazy brainiacs installed. It’s good news, actually.”

How?”

It means we’re catching up with our escapee. We’ll be making visual contact, soon.”

So, let’s keep our eyes opened.”

Buzz, buzz.

They both stared ahead, as Dermot added “New features, eh? They haven’t put in an ejector seat, have they?”

Not yet.”

Suddenly, Dermot saw the very distinct and unusual figure of the escapee appearing in the illuminated space in front of them.

Buzz, buzz.

There he is,” Dermot said. “Slow down and in the name of all that’s decent in the world, can we please turn off that bloody buzzer?”

Conor pressed a button on his steering wheel and the buzz finally ended.

Thank you,” said Dermot.

They both then directed their attentions to the figure standing in the headlights glow.

The figure was nearly seven feet tall and was dressed in a one-piece orange overall. The head was shaped somewhat like an inverted triangle. The skin was pale green and leathery. There were two large, protruding eyes at the top two angles. At the bottom there appeared to be an unnaturally wide, thin-lipped mouth.

There were two yellow antlers rising from each side of the head.

The fingers on both of its hands were all equally eight inches long. They were wriggling, as the creature stood panting and wheezing.

Conor looked over to Dermot and said, “We have a loudspeaker built into the car.”

Dermot looked at the dashboard and asked, “Where is it?”

Conor leaned and opened the glove compartment. He took out a small microphone. He handed it to Dermot.

Press the little button on the side.”

Dermot took the microphone, pressed the button, and raised it up to his mouth.

Hello?”, he said.

There was a sudden, almost deafening scream of feedback. The escapee put his hands over his ears as his features contorted.

Conor winced and looking at Dermot said “Jesus. Will you keep it down? There are people in Cork trying to sleep.”

Sorry about that, chief,” Dermot said before he looked out again at the figure.

Hello 27. Short time no see. Are you enjoying your little midnight stroll? My colleague and I are really fascinated to see where exactly you think you were going to go. Did you really think you could just walk into some local town and not freak everybody out? Did you really think you could escape from us?”

The creature just stood there and stared at the car.

Come home,” Dermot continued. “Come back to your comrades. They’re missing you. They need to see you again. Or rather we need them to see you again.”

Slowly, the creature started to walk closer to the car.

What’s he doing?” Conor whispered.

Speaking into the microphone, Dermot asked “Did you hear that, 27? My colleague wants to know what you’re doing.”

The creature stopped and renewed his wide-eyed stare.

I hope you’re going to be reasonable,” Dermot continued. “I hope you’re not to try anything stupid. Don’t forget we’ve been studying you for weeks. You have no more surprises for…”

Suddenly, the creature ran to the front of the car and placed his hands under the bumper. With no apparent effort whatsoever, he lifted the car up with such force that it flew up into the night sky like a toy. Tumbling backwards with the headlights flashing on and off, the only sound was Dermot shouting the word “us” like an almost comically extended question.

The creature looked up at the car.

Feckin’ eejits”, he said quietly.

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