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06.14.02 4:18 p.m.

Just once, I wish we would encounter an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets

 -Brigader Lethbridge-Stewart, in "Dr. Who"  

Previously in Xenology: We saw a UFO in Pine Bush.

Nomads, You Know. Smell Like Cabbage
A few days ago, after an arduous day of deal with confused, misguided and/or racist patrons at the library (we had a woman come in professing to having used to have been a teacher in the school system, lecturing loudly to a group of African Americans about how "in [her] day, they didn't call your people African Americans. Now you people get offended if we call you Black. In my day, we didn't call you Black, we called you... something else." I was biting my lip to keep from making a further scene. Had she informed them what she thinks they should be called, I would have likely lost my job by pointing out to this woman what she should be called), Emily, Evan, Conor, Zack, and I went to Pine Bush.
it was vicious  
Emily holding the fierce alien while I poke it with a drinking straw. (There were curiously few twigs)
I informed both Conor and Zack that we were going these to hunt for space aliens and play at a carnival, so they were thoroughly briefed as to the mission. As I was picking Zack up, his mother informed me that I was not to let him get abducted. After a small discussion, we decided that it would be okay if he got probed, however.
When everyone was in the car, I further explained the mythology of Pine Bush. I believe it was explained it thusly, "There are these underground tunnel full of aliens or ships or government experiments, and the entrances to these caves are guarded by lemurs, mothmen, and bigfoots. You can hear machinery in the night or feel hot air being vented. Aliens mine tungsten underground because... just because. And Pine Bush is an exact replica of the Cydonia region on Mars. Only with none of the pyramids or that face. And laser beams shoot out from the Jewish Cemetery and follow passing planes. There might be dimensional portals, too. And then there is the angel hair..." Given that the last time M and I hung out with Conor, we were discussing M's poltergeist and planning on contacted the dead as a source of amusement, it is possible that he thinks we are very weird people. But I somehow feel he is okay with that. At least we are fully aware that this is strange and that 98% of the myths about Pine Bush are ridiculous.
We arrived in Pine Bush with Evan navigating the way. I have not been there enough that I could really find me way there. We didn't know the actual location of the carnival, only that there was one based upon the poster we saw on the way here. At the other edge of Pine Bush, we spotted about poster and forced Conor out of the car to retrieve it or pertinent information from it. There was stumbling between traffic, but he finally ascertained that we had twenty minutes to find the Pine Bush High School and enjoy the carnival goodness.
Surprisingly, given our general lack of direction, we found the high school in a matter of minutes. Only, we didn't see and light or hear any music that would be indicative of such festivities. In fact, having trained our eyes to pick up tiny lights, we barely made out the top of a ride hidden in a field that was almost entirely obscured by the building. Pine Bush has a thing or two to learn about carnivals and hiding things, depending on their goal.
It stole M's face!  
The alien steals M's face!
We proceeded into the carnival, which was rather spare. There was a fun slide and two of the nauseating rides that abuse centripetal force. As there didn't seem to be a concept of individual tickets, only $10 wristbands, and we were quickly approaching the end of the carnival, we decided against the rides. Also, we are not stupid.
The Pine Bush residents didn't seem at all like normal people. Their hair was different, bigger. More evil. Also, their teenagers seemed more brain-dead than normal teens. They seemed to excrete a clear viscous fluid from their oral cavities when they spoke. And they laughed in inhuman ways at the concept that humans on other continents suffered pain and denigration. Our teens are absolutely nothing like that. Then there were the faces that peeled off to reveal... similar faces. No, all the people we saw were clearly alien hybrids. There is no other solution. I am excepting the carnies, of course. The Pine Bush aliens would not engineer them, obviously. They are sasquatch hybrids.
I coaxed the party over to the carnie games. They began their high-praise sales pitch about how I looked like a winner. Without looking up at them, I silenced them with a dismissive wave of my hand. This seemed to be something they understood. They did not stock what I sought. I went from booth to booth, checking for the alien corruption. Finally, a woman (if we may be liberal enough to presume carnies have genders like we do) informed me that she had run out of her aliens wearing diapers hours ago. I grumbled to myself about how they had clearly gotten here first. I did not bother clarifying to any curious party or myself whether I meant the aliens, the FBI, or Dr. Bruce Cornet and his crew. Seeing that I could understand her carnie language given having colored many an autographed circus coloring book in my formative years, she informed me that there were still aliens that could be procured at another booth.
I led the party in the direction she signaled. Toward the kiddy pool filled with plastic ducks. Insidious. I asked the younger, male carnie what I needed to do to procure the requisite alien. He said I needed to give him two dollars and pick up a duck. I said forcefully, "And I will get the alien?" He grunted the affirmative. I repeated "And... I... get... the... alien?" He was baffled by my insistence, but finally said, "Yeah, you get an alien." I glared at him. "I promise you will get the alien." I didn't trust him, obviously. Carnies are known for their deceptive ways. I know their tribe well. I demanded he show me the alien. He stood, terrified. He tried to reel my in with his carnie spiel and I again asked to see the evidence. He wouldn't budge. Emily nudged me and told me to give him the money. I handed him a ten, watched as he counted out eight dollars and hold it in his hand away from me. I shot him daggers and grabbed my money from him. Damned carnies. Emily suggested that I choose the one blue duck that was lying on its side. She always had a fondness for the underdog, or underduck, if you will. I choose the cerulean mallard and thrust it at the carnie boy proclaiming, "It says five! Or possibly 'S'! GIVE ME THE ALIEN!" He walked me over to a basket full of alien head where I chose the most supple alien head available.
Then, to make sure the decapitation had taken, I poked it thrice, on camera, with a plastic drinking straw. Satisfied that my specimen was inert, I placed it in my breast pocket.
The truth is out there  
Oooh, UFOs! Not carnival rides at all. How silly.
We wandered a bit more, trying to discover something else to do. There were psychics desperate for business and offering immensely suggestive "private, special readings." Of course, were they worth their sacred sea salt, you would think they would have figured out a carnival in Pine Bush would not bring in the dollars. Or if they had a lick of common sense.
Zack ended up winning a green snake to protect us, should the alien head regenerate its body. Conor decided that a bag of cotton candy needed to be procured, as this was a carnival. We all partook, to varying degrees. Once Emily discovered that there was only 55 calories in each bag of cotton candy, she declared that this would be all she would eat henceforth. Then it occurred to her that she would die of a hypoglycemic, diabetic, malnourished coma as cotton candy provides exactly 0% of your daily recommended dosage of actual food.
Before the Pine Bush residents, if that is actually who were at the carnival and not genetically created government clones, could catch on that we were not of their kith, we beat a hasty retreat. Not too hasty, however, as it gave me time to note that this event was being sponsored by the Pine Bush fire department, whose logo was a few houses immersed in flames. Not a Dalmatian, a hydrant, a fire truck, a hose. No, houses consumed in flame with no visible source of help. Not terribly reassuring. Though I suppose the Pine Bush residents don't care much, as the government will just remake them the next day anyway. Come to think of it, I've never heard of a major fire in Pine Bush. I bet you haven't either. A little suspicious, don't you think?
Evan said he knew the way to West Searsville or Drexel, so we trusted his sense of direction. He had more seniority in Pine Bush than the rest of us combined. However, as we placed our trust in someone who thought they knew where we were going, we got horribly lost. We did, however, find the only bar in Pine Bush hidden away in the exact middle of nowhere, next to a dead end. We fantasized about dressing a midget up as an alien and sending him in when we had all been sitting there for half an hour. Then we would react like he was a regular and offer to buy him a drink. However, I am not sure a drunken Pine Bushian is one I want to particularly fuck with. Very likely some government official with a uniform, badge, and gun would feel that this was a bad idea and that all of us should come in his secret government vehicle back to a place only known as "The Station." I saw Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, I know what Station is. An alien.
We ended up in Montgomery, which is far from where we should have been. Rather than treading back to Pine Bush and proving to Zack (who offered some absurd theory about airplane flight paths and the mechanics of airplane sound) that Pine Bush was infested with UFOs, Emily decided to take us to Johnny D's (provided I pay for her, as she was much with the being broke).
On the way, Evan felt the call of nature. Nature got me on her other line. We told M to find a private spot for us to fulfill our nephrons' purpose. She almost immediately pulled over to the side of a somewhat populous street. Not a problem, we are men and the farmland before us was adequate for privacy. I took two steps and realized that the ground was a bog that I could not ford. I wisely did my business where I stood and returned to the car, only to see that Evan was obviously searching for something. That sounds very wrong. I mean, he was missing something... you know what I mean, you puerile punks. I went to him and asked what he lacked. He informed me his shoe had gone missing in the marsh. I stifled a laugh and returned to the car to inform the others what had happened and to get my flashlight. They all saw mirth in the situation. Emily directed the cars ineffective high beams on the site and I shone my flashlight randomly on the ground. Evan spotted the tongue of his shoe, and not much more. He pulled with all his might and was rewarded with the release of his footwear by the quagmire. True, it was brimming with mud, but Conor's conveniently saved cotton candy bag took care of that situation.
scribbling is the way to God for idle hands are the playthings of the Devil.  
We get bored.
We were surprisingly awake when we arrived at Johnny D's. However, it should be noted that I have no real sense of time since my watches broke. All of them died of separate maladies on the same day. It's very tragic. Since then, my life consists of "Now," "A Little After Now," "Later," "Dark," "Darker." You can understand how this chronological impairment would affect my social life.
As Emily insisted they would not allow Evan entrance with only one shoe, M forced him to wear one of her sandals. Given that he is a tall man and wears a size 16 shoe and Emily fits conveniently under my chin for storage, you can see how this was a funny sight. We decided that, should the waitresses ask, and I pity them if they did, we would tell them that it was a major fashion statement in Canada, eh?
We discussed random matters at the diner. Diners are conducive to random conversation. We discussed why Melissa wouldn't join us in Pine Bush, and still won't to the best of our knowledge. We discussed aliens, of course. Mostly we discussed the Powerball numbers being shown on the TV screen, betting our invisible money on invisible cards until they shut it off for the night.
We ended up drawing on our placemats to entertain ourselves. It began with my asking M to draw a picture of me for the contest I am holding (basically, draw pictures of people, stories, or situations from this site and send them to me. The winner gets a poem and prestige), and she ended up drawing a picture that looked like Steven Tyler. Then she drew a picture of herself that looked like Steven Tyler with curly hair. Melissa was Steven Tyler on fire, though the flames didn't touch her (much like the houses in Pine Bush). Conor was a stick figure. Clearly her creative fount has its bottom.
Zack ended up drawing Groening-esque creatures. The provided picture shows a vampire. Also stick figure versions of us being sucked up by a UFO. Evan was just doodling, which blew our pictures away. He refused to show us, so I took this picture while he was in the bathroom.
How many time in life to you get to say that in a proper context?

Soon in Xenology: M's belief in fairies. Trying to hang out with Venessa. Being on a diet. Bust a move. French porn. Dave and the graves. Feelings on Summer Scholars. Me being the Zen Messiah. Hatred of BSDO reaching epidemic proportions.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: Psychic Warrior, Myths to Live by
listening: Rent
wanting: to feel prepared.
interesting thought: I could tell you that I was once like you, normal. But then I remember reading books on Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster shortly after having learned to read and of having started a club that got school recognition called "The Supernatural Squad" when I was in the third grade. So, really, unlikely that you can confess the same. Unless you are Emily.
moment of zen: Being told that I was a zen Messiah to someone.
someday I must: have enough time to create as much of this site as I wish.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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