posted on Feb, 16 2021 @ 08:29 PM
We woke Tuesday morning – it was an overcast and chilly day, with Tule fog rising – and there across from Haverman Hardware right in the middle of
the street was the Object. It was covered with an ordinary canvas, and appeared to be about 12 foot tall and as much wide and deep. The shape of
it under the canvas was of a cube, or nearly so. The canvas had grommets every foot or so, and heavy sisal rope looped through them to wide metal
stakes driven into the ground.
It was early March and had just rained like hell, so none of us could properly say how long it’d been there. Sherriff Merrill had been to Barstow
for four days along with the prisoner coach, so he was no help. Wasn’t usually much help with anything anyway, far as I could tell; he was good
at jailing drunks and a fair hand at disappearing when there was any noise or trouble.
Elmer and Bess Strakey said they’d seed it as a long shadow inside the fog when the sun had risen. We gathered around it, talking low like we was
afraid it would hear us. I think even then we all knowed more about it than we would admit, even to ourselves. Jimbo Blackadar kicked one of the
stakes and pronounced it to be well set.
Sherriff Merrill rode up and dismounted, walking around the Object with his left forefinger curled under his nose like a meat moustache as he stroked
his chin thoughtfully. His right hand dabbled around the grip of his revolver and I wasn’t sure he knew he was caressing it. A trick of the
waning sunlight, sure, but the damn thing seemed to slowly pulse in and out of focus.
Jimbo pulled out his bone handle knife and said, “well, fellers, lesse what’s under here”, looking around the growing crowd with a swaggering
grin and set to sawing on one of the thick ropes. A giant, blue crackle split the air and landed Jimbo 15 feet back, his flesh wrinkling black and
smoldering. We all cut the Object a fair wide berth after that, alla us, even the Preacher, who wasn’t no braver’n anyone else, but he did help
carry Jimbo away after he stopped smoking.
Sometime later that afternoon, Miss Elsie set to hollerin’ and we came out to see what the fuss was. She was pointing at Elmer and Bess’s little
dog, which had snuggled up next to the Object and gone to sleep. Bess set to calling her little dog, wailing “Madra! Come! Madra! Madra!
Come to Mommy!” the little yellow dog acted like it dint hear her and just kept on sleeping. About an hour later, it rose, stretched, farted,
yawned and padded to its usual place under the Strakey’s porch.
Later that night, most of the town met in the back of the Re Load to drink whiskey and talk about the Object. Preacher French was holding a
sparsely attended meeting in the churchyard. Sherriff Merrill stood and said he’d sent a wire to Sacramento and the U.S. Army at Camp Cady.
“Ah think we should burn the gawdam thing,” said George Jewkes, rising on wobbly legs,
“it ain’t natch’ral, and we all seen what it done to poor Jimbo.” He belched loudly for emphasis, and looked around for support.
“We should blow it UP!” screamed Dan Stokes, “I can get all the nitro you want from my cousin, who works for the C.P. Railroad!!”
“Don’t you dare, Dan!” said Bill Haveman, “my store is right there! Let’s all settle down and talk about this! It’s a damn shame what
happened to Jimbo, but this is too important to jest ride roughshod over. Now let’s sit and talk ‘er over.” Bill had a calming effect on the
mob and Tiny Robinson in the lookout chair breathed a sigh of relief and uncocked the 10 gauge Manton.
Just then, Preacher French came through the batwing doors and bellied up to the bar. “I ain’t a drinkin’ man, usually” he said with his back
to the crowd, “but this ain’t no usual situation.” He took a shot and then another and turned with his elbows on the bar. “Friends, I have
prayed upon this thing, and I am willing to take my chances with it, because I trust in the Lord. Tomorrow morning, I will ask the Object if I can
talk with it and see what it says.” Who could argue with that? It weren’t like anyone was going to fight him for the chance to get kilt like
We were all out bright and early the next morning, and the fog had lifted. The sun slanted through the Fescue and Cottonwoods along the river and
made a man glad to be alive. It was like a crazy social event, with all the women in their fine things, and setting out blankets with food to sit
on. Preacher French was already there before most of us showed up, and he was sitting on the ground bent over his Bible, curled around it like a
daddy with his baby, three feet from the Object. Most of us had the good sense to stay well back from whatever was going to happen, but I moved up
behind Preacher French and said, “you need help, John? I’m here. I’m right here.” He nodded, and I think it gave him comfort I was there.
I heard him praying and then he said, “Heavenly Father, I have before me a traveler that is unknown to me. I want to know what it wants, and I
ask for your gracious guidance. This creature is here for a reason, and we must find out that reason, or our peaceful town will not survive.” I
was a bit shocked myself, because I’d not thought of the Object as a creature, but I could see as how the Preacher might be right. After all, it
had gotten right angry when approached without caution.
Preacher French moved away from me and I could hear him talking softly, “tell us what you want. If you don’t want me to come closer, then say
so, but I want to know what you want.” He was almost lulling me into a soft state, I can tell you.
He moved forward on his hands and knees, and I’ll never forget as long as I live, a faint light of a greenish hue that seemed to wander like
tendrils of smoke between John French’s back and the Object. People I’ve talked to since either don’t want to talk about it or didn’t see
it, or maybe didn’t want to. I don’t blame them. I didn’t either.
He placed his right hand on his head as though he were serving his skull to someone – thank you please – and his left hand on the Object. The
slow thrumming and pulse of it was now unmistakable.
“Henry”, he says to me quietly, “you got to go to Amboy and go up North of the Mormon Trail six miles until you find a creature like this.
They’re trying to dig a well there, and she’s in peril. You gotta do whatever you need to stop it Henry. Right now. Get going. A lot
depends upon it, the least of which is this here town.”