Run For The Hills

“I don’t care if you think it was only a dream. It felt real to me,” Aiden Hemse pointed aggressively to the black alien blob monster decal on his lime t-shirt. He reached down to the space between his bed and nightstand and pulled out his charcoal gray backpack. “I have to do this. I know there is something in those hills and I won’t come back until I find it!”

“Like what? Aliens? Come on, you know they’re not real. You can’t exactly just start walking around and expect to be taken or something,” his friend, Rodney, said as he sat with his feet dangling over the side of Aiden’s neatly made bed. The bed itself was covered by a thick comforter blanketed with an image of the Milky Way.

Aiden hoisted his backpack over his shoulder and stood from the bluish-gray pebbled carpet. A bandana made from his old G.I. Joe t-shirt was fashioned tightly around his forehead, one of its tales caught momentarily by the pull of his backpack straps. He jerked his neck, pulling the bandana slack away.

“I’ll know it when I see it. It’s… it’s just something I have to do,” Aiden explained to his friend.

Rodney’s legs bounced nervously against the metal bed frame. “You’re nine. Can’t you just worry about our next ballgame like a normal kid?” he pleaded.

Aiden shook his head, his short dirty blond hair flopping out over the bandana. “Nope. So if my mom calls I’m—“

“With your dad. If your dad calls, you’re with your grandma Joy. I got it, I got it. When will you be back? I really don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up,” Rodney asked as he rested his thick dark cheek on his balled up fist.

Aiden shrugged. “A week, maybe two. I’m not sure. Depends on how fast I find what I’m looking for. It’s not like they’ll notice anyway,” he mentioned.

“So you might never return?” Rodney mentioned. “Well, you don’t know what it is you’re looking for. Someone had to say it.”

Aiden rolled his emerald eyes. “I’ll text you once I’ve made it to the foothills, okay?”

Rodney turned his eyes from Aiden to hide his frustration. “Fine. Just don’t get hurt. I don’t want to get grounded over this,” he warned.

Aiden slid open his window and peeked outside. The coast was clear. Just below the window was his bike, strategically placed there with anticipation of his departure.  He dropped the backpack out the window than with the help of a small blue monster stool he climbed out.

Inside, Rodney watched his friend jump onto his bike, having issues with the weight of the backpack and maintaining his balance. Within a flash, Aiden had ridden so far down the street he could no longer see him.

“He’s gonna’ get himself killed. I just know it,” Rodney huffed. He stepped up onto the stool and climbed out the window after Aiden.

Aiden didn’t bother to look back at his house. He had seen in a billion times before. He knew what it looked like. Why did he need to see it again? His only thought was to reach the foothills before sundown. He glanced to the sun, then glanced down at his phone. His phone read 2:08. According to his math, it would take him approximately two and a quarter hours to reach the foothills on his bike, which was plenty of time before the sun went down.

Somewhere between mile marker twelve and Cedar Valley road, Aiden’s eyes turned to his phone mounted on the front handlebars. A dark shadowy image floated above, casting a rainbow of light onto the glass of his phone. The bike skidded to a stop. The force of his stop caused his backpack to pound against his back, nearly knocking the wind from his lungs. He slowly turned his eyes to the sky.

Hovering a mile above was a flat, completely translucent triangular image about the size of six large city blocks. It was cruising by at a steady clip of ten miles an hour. It was only because of the angle of the sun did Aiden even notice it. He dropped his bike by the side of the road and dashed for the safety of the bushes. With panic, yet curiosity-filled eyes he continued to watch as the ship drifted towards his hometown.

“What is that?” he asked himself in gasping words. He reached for his phone in his backpack, realizing it was still attached to his bike. “Great!” he huffed.

The ship suddenly shot down a beam of light, engulfing the ground around his elementary school. The ship continued to shoot, sending waves of fire through the town and up into the sky.

Aiden slowly stood from the bushes, his hands covering his head as he watched the town burn. From overhead came the loud chop-chop-chop of military helicopters followed by the booming of missiles being launched.  He dropped to the safety of the bushes again, holding his head beneath his arms. The ground rumbled and quaked beneath him. Without warning, something smacked the back of his head, sending him face-first to the ground.

The air grew eerily still. Only the crackling and snapping of a distant fire could be heard. Aiden slowly opened his left eye followed by his right to see two sets of black boots standing above him. His eyes followed the boots to two pant legs, to a set of knees to… nothing.

He jumped back, seeing a set of legs standing before him with no owner. Icy chills engulfed his entire body as he scurried back to his bike. The road was now covered in pieces of helicopter debris and dismembered body parts.  He picked up his pack, jumping onto the seat but as he started to ride he realized the front wheel was bent out of shape.

“Aiden, over here!” Rodney called from some distance away.

Aiden searched the road, unable to see more than a few yards from all the smoke. “Where are you?” he called back.