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Contact of One Sort or Another

“That locomotive come rushin’ at me quick as a snake finds your boot on a cold night.” Hungry McBride held his breath and looked at each face around the campfire, each in turn. After a few seconds, he let out a thick column of smoke that climbed into the starry desert sky.

“Just when I thought I was done for … whoosh! The headlamp lifted right up into the air and got real bright. Turned all sorts ‘a colors, too.”

“Hogwash,” Marty Carpenter said.

“Hush, Marty,” Sam Stevens said.

Hungry nodded in satisfaction. “And you know what? There weren’t no train attached at all. It was just that funny light, and as soon as it got so bright I could hardly stand to look at it … well, it shot straight up and disappeared into the stars.”

Hungry took another puff from his pipe, and this time when he let it out, the smoke swirled around the campfire and hung in a low blue haze.

“Hungry, the only thing you seen that night was the back end of some bad peyote,” Marty said.

“No sir.” Hungry shook his head. “I was pure as the driven snow. Didn’t even smoke my first pipe ’til later that night, you know, to calm my nerves.”

“Hogwash,” Carpenter repeated. “You was born with a pipe in your mouth!”

“Uh, Marty,” Sam sputtered. His face looked pale in the firelight. “Does peyote work the same if you’re not the one smokin’ it?” He pointed toward the sky behind Marty’s head.

Carpenter turned just in time to see a huge, hovering orb flash from red to white, brighter than the sun, and then shoot straight up into the darkness.

“Can I interest you a bit of nerve medicine?” Hungry asked, holding his pipe out toward his companions.

Published inFlash Fiction

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