By Melissa L. Webb
Owen sat up as bright beams of light shot through his bedroom window. He wiped at his eyes, trying to decide if he was awake.
The lights hummed as they pulsed, scanning the small room. Toys turned on as the lights touched them, turning the bedroom into a strange rave of flashes and sounds.
The German Shepherd at the foot of the bed raised his head, a deep growl rumbling his throat.
“What is it, Frankie?” the boy asked, fear coating the words.
The dog stood up, his growls drowning out the electronic noise.
Frankie’s reaction scared Owen more than the strange lights and the phantom toys. He was a gentle dog. The boy didn’t think he’d ever heard him growl once in his life.
The boy pushed back the covers and swung his legs over the edge of the bed as the light beams danced around the room. His body trembled as he thought about running for the door. He was too old to cry out for his mommy. Ten-year-olds didn’t do that sort of thing. What would people say about him?
But…something was wrong. Toys didn’t turn on by themselves and lights definitely didn’t appear in the sky. He was in danger. He needed his parents to make it all right.
Frankie jumped off the bed and glared at the door, his growls becoming deeper.
The doorknob rattled as someone turned it.
Owen swung his legs back in bed and wrapped the blankets around himself. Fear swam through his veins as he pictured what might be out there. Maybe it was only his parents, coming to see what the noise was, but he didn’t think so. Not the way Frankie was acting.
The door pushed open and darkness from the hallway loomed like a living thing in the threshold.
Frankie bared his teeth, lowering his head as he readied himself for an attack.
Movement stirred in the darkness and a small shape stepped forward, coming into the room. It was completely grey, devoid of any hair or clothing. Two almond shape eyes stared out of an oversized head. They were like blank TV screens blinking up at the boy.
Owen whimpered as he scooted away from the edge of the bed, drawing the blankets even tighter around him. The creature looked like those things in the Sci-Fi movies his father liked to watch. It was one of those creatures who did strange experiments on humans.
It was a space alien.
Owen tried to scream, but no sounds came out. His fear constricted his throat too tightly.
The alien stepped towards the bed, its arms and legs moving with a fluidity that reminded the child of Olympic swimmers.
Frankie lowered his head even more, letting the creature pass him.
The alien reached a hand out and petted the dog’s head. “Good boy, Frankie,” it spoke, sounding like a human.
The dog turned, following the creature with his eyes, a huge doggy grin on his face. He sniffed the air and then hunched over. The dog whined as his fur split open along his back.
Long spider-like legs sprouted from the opening as the dog’s muzzle grew and spread, turning into a wide slobbery grin.
Frankie scurried over to the bed, his new legs hauling him up as he bounced on the end of it. His long, swollen tongue grazed the bedspread as he panted happily.
Anger replaced fear as Owen stared at Frankie. The alien had turned his best friend into a monster. He threw off the blankets and glared at the small creature standing next to his bed.
“You hurt my dog!” he screamed at it. He would make it pay for that no matter what it cost him.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Owen. Frankie’s fine,” the alien said, chastising the boy for his anger.
Owen blinked, confusion fogging his brain. “Mom?”
“Yes, dear,” the creature said, sitting down on the edge of the bed next to him. “It’s me.”
“I don’t understand,” he said, shaking his head. “What’s going on?”
“We don’t belong here, Owen. Your grandma and grandpa have come to take us home.”
Owen glanced over at the window. “They’re the lights?”
“Yes,” the alien said, placing a gentle hand over his. “Our time here is over.”
He looked down at the small grey hand covering his. He could feel his mother in the touch. “How? How is this possible?”
“Our people sent your father and I here when I was pregnant with you. We brought Frankie with us to watch over you when you were born. We have spent the last ten years studying the human race. In that time, we have learned all we can. There’s nothing more to do.”
“I’m an alien too?” he asked, staring at his human hands.
“We aren’t the aliens, Owen. The people on this planet are. We’re going home to our own kind.”
She got up off the bed and headed for the door. “Your father is helping Grandpa load everything on the ship. You have a few minutes to say goodbye to everything here.”
He looked around the room, feeling a bit teary-eyed. What were they doing to him? Didn’t they know life was hard enough for a ten-year-old? Why did they have to spring this on him as well?
“Do we have to go, Mom?”
She stopped in the doorway. “Yes, Owen. We do. This isn’t our home, it was only an assignment. Don’t worry, we have a lot of friends and family waiting for us. You won’t even miss this place. I’ll be back in ten minutes for you and Frankie. We’ll do your form change before we leave.”
Owen sat there, tears running down his cheeks as he watched the slobbering monster at the foot of his bed. They were a family of monsters. They were what children feared.
“It’ll be okay, sweetheart,” his mom said, taking in the boy’s sadness. “Think of it as an adventure. You love adventures.” She disappeared through the doorway into the darkness.
Owen got out of bed, fending of slobbery kisses from the thing that used to be Frankie. He looked around the room, his heart filling with sadness. What did a boy take with him to a new planet?
© 2015 Melissa L. Webb