Harry's Long Day
Chapter 5: Dissonance
Where and When: Unknown
The world was opaque and blurry to Erin as she jerked awake without warning. Her head throbbed and it was all she could do not to groan. Her thoughts were muzzy and scrambled and she felt like she'd been hit with a rock or a bat. It took several minutes before her head began to clear enough for her to think about her situation. Erin tried to raise her hand to her head and discovered she could not really move.
Lying still for the moment, Erin closed her eyes, waiting for the throbbing to ease off while trying to remember what, if anything, of the past several hours. It took her a little while but it came back, a vague sense of dread with the sound of the front door being opened with no warning. There had been an acrid smell, like metal burning, she thought. And Rogue started barking like crazy out in the backyard, almost frantic to get into the house. Erin had headed for the front door, phone already in hand. There was a flash of bright light then nothing. Her memory just cut out, like that.
Erin swallowed against the nausea rising in her throat.
She tried again to sit up, trying to take stock of her situation. The substance she lay on was springy, slightly tacky and cool against her skin. It allowed her to move, if slowly, but it felt a bit like spider webbing. The substance over her, holding her down, turned out to be stretchy when she pushed a hand into it. Trying to sit up proved to be impossible, as the stuff had a limit she soon discovered.
Purposely breathing slowly to quell her rising panic, Erin lay back down and tried to take stock of the situation, tried to figure out where she was.
After a moment, she found she could move her head, sort of see out of the opaque substance which held her down. She could see shadowy figures moving around, tall and thin or short and thin, all seemed to move with purpose and all had surprisingly large heads. Hmmm, as Harry would say. Deep inside, however, the panic which she had somewhat successfully smashed down began to rise again. All the alien abduction stories she'd ever read or watched on TV began to crowd into her head. She swallowed with some effort now, even as her breath began to stutter in her chest. As a she watched, a vague, long fingered hand presented itself into her vision, reaching for the substance around her head. Erin gasped.
Albuquerque 2:30 PM
Harry pulled himself out of his car with a tired sigh. Driving round-trip to from Chaco in the same day was exhausting. Getting up at 4:30 in the morning did not help either. Hopefully, Erin would be ready for lunch. The burrito had been filling, but he could do with something light between now and dinner, he thought. He was distracted enough that he did not notice right away that something was really wrong.
First clue was Rogue, Erin's Border collie, who was currently running around in the front yard, tail flat against his back legs, nose to the ground. He greeted Harry with a worried look and whining, nosing Harry's hand gently.
Harry frowned. "What's wrong boy?" His nose was nowhere as sensitive as Rogue's, but he could definitely smell something sharp and acrid. It made him wrinkle his nose now. Looking around, Harry finally began to really worry along with the dog. "Where's Erin?" Rogue just looked up at him with sad eyes before trotting to the front door. Harry followed the dog, stopping when he caught sight of the gate at the front door. The part where the door latched and locked into the metal frame was completely melted away and the wooden inner door was hanging open, though undamaged.
Rogue trotted into the house in front of Harry and whined again, watching Harry carefully.
"OK, boy. It's alright. I'll find Erin for you." Anger began beating through his head at this point and a nasty suspicion had begun to form at the back of his mind. Going back out front, Harry studied the grass in the yard, stooping when he found the first of four symmetrical burn marks. The grass crackled under his hand when he touched it, turning to ash. "Damn."
It looked like his day had just gotten longer.