Our house used to sit up on a hill. It was the only hill for miles around. From our house, you could see farmland stretching to the horizon. There was a whole lot of nothing to be seen from our front porch.
My older brother dug tunnels into the hill. It was something to do, I guess. I wasn’t into that. I wasn’t claustrophobic, but I did get a little queasy in some of his smaller tunnels. I mostly played with the farm dogs and tended to the animals. It was a quiet and uneventful life, until the day my brother turned into a straight A student overnight.
His grades made my mix of A’s and B’s appear mediocre. He had also developed this faraway look in his eyes and always seemed distracted. I asked him about it one day and, in an unusual moment of brotherly camaraderie, he said he wanted to show me something.
He took me to a wooden door at the entrance to one of his tunnels. He told me he didn’t want to be surprised by some animal that might have decided to move in. He swung open the door, revealing the earthen mouth. I swallowed hard and followed him inside. We both turned on our headlamps. He led silently as we stooped over in the small tunnel. We reached a fork and he got down on all fours to crawl into the smaller of the two tunnels. This is where I got a bit queasy, but we didn’t have to crawl very far before the tunnel widened. A piece of jagged metal jutted from the side. My brother went past this and stepped down into a room.
He waved his hand in the air, and made some kind of gesture. The room lit up with waves of color emanating from one wall. I looked back to where we came from. There was a gaping hole where earth breached the wall of the metal room. My brother’s tunnel had punched through in the lower left side of the gash. Unidentifiable pieces of equipment were scattered around the room.
“What is this place?” I asked.
“A what?” Our voices echoed eerily.
My brother walked over and stood in front of a room enclosed in what looked like glass. The color came from a wall within. “This room is like a telescope for thoughts.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know how a telescope works with light? It concentrates it so that you can see a thousand times further. This works that way with thoughts. It concentrates my thoughts so I can see things a thousand times more clearly.”
“That’s why you’re getting straight A’s all of the sudden?”
“It’s teaching me a lot of things.”
“We have to tell somebody about this.”
“No. We can’t tell anybody.” He stared at me with steely eyes.
“This is an unmanned scout ship,” he said. “It crashed and never returned. The fleet now senses danger in this area. If they see something as a threat, they will attack. If our government got hold of this ship, they would tear it apart piece by piece and destroy it. We would definitely be seen as dangerous, and they’d annihilate us. We can’t tell anybody about this.”
I was entranced by the fluctuating light. “Can it teach me things?”
“I don’t know if it’s safe.”
“But you’ve been doing it.”
“Right, but I can’t let you try it. Come on, let’s go.”
He waved his hand and the lights turned off.
“You can’t come back here,” he said.
“Seriously. Don’t come back here, and don’t tell anybody about this.”
“All right.” I didn’t really want to crawl through that dumb tunnel again anyway.
My brother began to spend more and more time in his tunnels. One evening, my mother sent me to fetch him. Supper was almost ready, and my brother was usually back by now. I donned my headlamp and went in search of him. I had a pretty good idea where to find him. My brother had told me not to go back, but Mom’s orders superseded his.
He was where I expected him to be, but not in the space ship. He was sitting in the tunnel staring at a solid metal wall where the breach had been.
“Time for supper,” I said. “What happened to the hole in the wall?”
“There was a maintenance droid. It was damaged in the crash, but they taught me how to repair it. Once I got the droid working, it repaired itself, and then it repaired the ship. I hope I did the right thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I helped them. Maybe they’ll see that as a sign of friendship. The fleet has been looking for this ship, and they’re not happy. Now that it’s fixed, the ship will leave, and it can lead the fleet right to us. Our only chance was to appease the fleet, but it might backfire.”
“How long will it take them to get here?”
“A few weeks, if they come.”
We knelt there for a full minute.
“Well, supper,” I said.
“Yeah, let’s go eat some supper.”
The next day, our house went from being on top of a hundred foot hill, to being in a twenty-foot deep saucer-shaped depression. The experts showed up and declared it a seismic anomaly — a sudden gentle seismic anomaly. All of the water and gas lines were still intact. We didn’t feel anything when it happened. The house was undamaged, but I do miss the view. The experts didn’t stay around long. Other than the seismic anomaly, there was a whole lot of nothing around here.
After that, I asked my brother about the ship and the fleet. He looked at me like I was crazy and said I had an overactive imagination. His grades had gone back to B’s and C’s. It was as if what we experienced had never happened at all.
It’s been nearly a month, and we haven’t been destroyed. I have an overactive imagination. There’s a whole lot of nothing here. Don’t worry. It was just a seismic anomaly. That’s what the experts said.
If you liked this, check out some of my other stories.