You know, there’s nothing like a good, strong cup of tea. Each cup gets its own bag in the pot, water is double boiled, then simmered, and it’s served hot, but not too hot. If we’re druthering here, I like mine a nice medium tan colour, sweetened with one and a half sugars, out of a BIG mug. Not one of those delicate ones we save for company of a more distinguished nature.
With my big mug of sweet, hot, beige tea, I saunter over to my back door, as one would when deciding what clothes would be weather-appropriate on a day like today. It’s sunny, so sunny it hurts the back of my eyes to look outside for too long, but the grass has that tell-tale matte-white cloak that lets you know that the brightness of the sun is just an illusion. It’s cold. Bloody cold.
I sip my tea.
Leaning on the door, I look out into the field of dried corn stalks and husks that stretch out for acres beyond the limits of our yard. Our house sits higher than the fields, so we have a good view of the whole farm. If you have the eyesight for it, you can see nearly the whole stretch, all 114 acres. My eyes are terrible, but with my glasses and a squint, I can see pretty well.
I haven’t once looked out there and NOT expected to see the preacher Isaac emerge from the grim looking rows. But, oddly and morbidly enough, in a good way. It’s how I laugh away being stuck in this place – “Where do you live?” “Among the Children Of The Corn.” I get weird looks, but whatever. I think it’s cool.
Today, though, the corn looks … different. All muffed up in the far east corner like God reached down from the heavens and gave the field a good noogie. I’ve always wanted to wake up to find one of those crop circles, just to break up the monotony of it all, but this wasn’t nearly as mysterious. Just an area, sort of messed up.
I sip my tea.
From here it looks tiny, a shiny, metallic sort of thing in the middle of the broken and disheveled stalks. But what I know about perspective tells me that this thing ain’t tiny. I’m not sure how big it is, but it’s at least the size of the shed that sits about 20 feet from the thing. Now, I’m not one to sit back and just let big ol’ metal boxes crush my already-dead corn and not investigate the situation further, so I throw my wellies and a coat over my pajamas and my rumbling adrenaline. I grab my walking stick, in case there’s anything that needs poking. You never know these things until it’s too late, whether you should have brought a poking stick or not.
Walking through the field, my mind is aflutter with the possibilities. Obviously, it’s probably just something some of the townies dumped back there. An old ice fishing hut or one of them big garbage bins from out back of the A&P. Those damn kids. This isn’t the first time they’ve been back here. Usually I just find piles of empty beer bottles and used prophylactics. Disgusting, yes, but not nearly as interesting as whatever this might be.
When I happen upon the clearing, I’m jolted to an abrupt stand still. This ain’t no ice fishing hut and it sure as heck ain’t no garbage bin. Mostly because there is a door with a handle and a window taking up most of the one side and also because it smells less like garbage and more like burnt hair. It’s made of singed wood and ashen metal of a bronze colour and there’s some kind of plaque on the door, just below the window.
Manufactured by H. George Wells, 1899
I sip my tea.
I really don’t know what this is, but it doesn’t belong here. Not in my corn field and not now. I’m not sure about what to do other than there’s nothing I can do standing here with this mug of tea and a walking stick. After one last big long sigh, I muster up the courage to get a closer look at this thing that seemingly isn’t going to move itself off my field. Wiping the dust and dirt and ash off the window, I press my face against the glass to see if I can source the burnt hair smell. The inside is too dark to make out much, but a sunbeam illuminates what looks like something that used to be a person of unknown origin. What’s left of his suit looks to be old timey and expensive. Like the ones from the movies or those sepia toned portraits of very unhappy people you see in old houses. I don’t want to look any further, in case I see something that will stick with me for longer than I would hope.
Well. Now what.
I sip my tea.
I turn to go back to the house, under-utilized poking stick in one hand, empty tea mug in the other. But … now what? I take one last peek over my shoulder at the burned up thing that landed in my field and wonder about what now. All the way back to my house I think about it and think about it and really, there is no good answer because nothing I do will uncrush my dead corn or unburn that poor man.
I open my back door to find Lou sitting at the kitchen table, sipping his tea, reading his funny papers.
“You weren’t here. This tea is crap ’cause I can’t make it like you can, honey.”
“I’ll show you the right way some time, Lou.”
I walk back over to the tea pot and fill my mug back up. I forgot to take off my muddy boots, but seeing as that happens all the time, the mess don’t bother neither of us.
“We got something in our field last night. Don’t know what it is or what we should do about it, but it’s there and it ain’t going nowhere.”
“What’s it look like?”
“Oh, I couldn’t say for sure. Like some kind of pod or something.” Sip. “With a man inside.”
Lou looks up from his funny papers and stares at me for a while. “A man, you say?”
“A man. And I can’t be sure, but I don’t think he’s from around here. Don’t think he’s from now neither.”
“Do you need to go lay down or something? You’re not making one lick of sense.”
I walk over to the door and point down toward the east. Lou comes over and squints through the sun.
“It’s over there, Lou. You yourself go have a look. Once you’re done with your funnies, go take a look up close and tell me you don’t see a man in that thing. Tell me you don’t think it’s even one bit funny that that thing is sitting in our field like it landed there from someplace else. That’s what I’m telling you, Lou. I don’t know what it is, but it don’t belong there and I can’t for the life of me figure out what we should do with it.”
“Well, imagine that. Should we call the paper or something? The sheriff? Do you think old Martin up the road would know what to do with it? He’s seen pret-near everything in his time.”
“I don’t know. I’m tired from hiking through that mud. I’m gonna finish this here tea and then we’ll think about it more once my head is clear and I can think right.”
Lou’s standing there with his fists on his hips, shaking his head without even thinking so much about what he’s doing. A big grin is stretched across his face and then he lets out a long, wet whistle.
“Ain’t no Children of the Corn, Tess, but this sure is something, ain’t it?”
“Sure as bloody hell is.”
A time machine lands in your backyard ~ what do you do? Who do you tell?