Christmas 1957, Washington D.C...
He stared at walls for that was all he could do and that was all he chose to do for the most part. The man had been in detention in grade school, so this was nothing new.
"You could have a better life then this, Mr. Mansley." A heavily-accented voice accosted him from the barred window. The forty-year-old man did not acknowledge him, he only continued to stare bitterly forward. "You have knowledge that is essential to us. "
Still, he stared forward.
"I know of the robotic entity you encountered a couple of months ago."
Kent glanced over at the man behind the barred door.
"That accent," he muttered, suspicious. "Could you be a communist?"
"You are so quick to assume, I happen to be many things."
"What do you want?"
"Firstly, let me introduce myself. I am Sergey Dimelo."
April 28th 1964, Rockwell Maine...
A gentle golden light settled over the ocean view all the way into the harbor of the relatively unsung historic fishing town. People went about their lives normally, contently, it had been seven years since the 'unknown invader' had given his life for their existence.
It was a debt that could not be re-paid except for moving forward with life. The new rays of the beginning sun stretched down to a craggy ledge, and intertwined with the dew-glistened grass to reveal a rust free yet burnt screw that lay against a large rock.
The screw just stayed there undisturbed for the last six spring times. It laid there with no hint of significance as it peered out patiently from behind a tuft of summer tall grass.
Suddenly, it gave a small jolt – then another and another. The screw then beeped.
A small girl with a long, black braid and blue eyes made her way along after her father from the local town grocery store. She looked up toward a tall cliff aligned with trees before turning to her father.
"Hmm?" the man with dark hair and casual work-wear vaguely answered her as he placed his brown bags in a compartment, he then picked up the crutch-aided little girl to place her near him as he drove.
"Ever think anything weird is going to happen?"
The man moved his tinted glasses onto his head and smiled down at her, a small spark of imagination flashed in his eyes. "Anything's possible, Julianne," he answered before starting the engine, the man then said musingly to himself, "anything at all."
She kept her eyes to the forest high above as they pulled away in entrancement.
A large vessel approached from behind a small isle of ice, it came coming near the triangular shape of a whale's fin arching above an iceberg. The men aboard worked to steer the ship around and prep a huge harpoon.
"Ready it, now!" Someone called loudly.
The frigid waters moved against them as they attempted circling in the direction of the fin, they managed to get a good position so that the barbed head would aim directly for the fin's mid-dorsal.
As they drew closer a few men noticed something peculiar about it, the water-washed fin looked to have bolts running around the right side of it. Gasps escaped as the gray skin appeared metal.
It was obvious there had been a ship wreck, they removed their hats for a moment of prayer when a deep, heart thumping shift in the iced-over ground made them look back up. A looming silhouette formed from the fog.
All of a sudden, a hand of mass proportions reached for the even larger object fixated into the little island of ice and the medium-sized glacier. The whale hunters gaped as a being with big, white eyes dislodged it's arm.
"Mother of pearl, the reports are true! It's the robot who hides in the glaciers and attacks ships. It has come to devour ours, men"
They watched in befuddlement as the giant reattached it's own metal limb, while one man aggressively knocked another aside to get to the harpoon and direct it right where the chest area was.
"Over my dead body will I let this creature do me in." He declared between yellow grit teeth.
The Giant's eyes fell to illuminate him and he instantly saw the intelligence that lay behind the calm, ivory beams. It was then that he looked over to the split of glacier and then back at the robot, who almost seemed to wear an acknowledging look. Beyond a doubt, the man saw that the Giant had purposely placed his arm there.
He had immodestly baited them as he probably had done many previous times before. A gurgling noise broke the awed daze and the Giant reached his hand down to where the guy fell to his back in surprise that such a creature could be sentient; fear had avoided him entirely.
"Sir!" One of his men called. "The creature is reaching down for meh, no ,no, Ahh!"
The sound of something hard squelched, it sounded like bones being ground together.
When the captain looked up the harpoon was ripped from the floor boards and plopped into the Giant's mouth. That's when he saw that a screw was missing from the jaw line, left the mandible askew.
Yet, the harpoon was eaten nevertheless.
They watched incredulously as he spat out the end of the harpoon and pegged the makeshift securer into the lower jaw's hole while using it's other hand to push up the limp jaw, it then gave what appeared to be a satisfied smile after working out the kinks in it.
The captain felt like he was ready to fall through the remaining planks.
With no more business there, the Giant turned around to head back into the snow and mist when an antenna slid from his head and sent a barely visible ultraviolet wave out. It was there for only a moment before vanishing all together.
It seemed to be picking something up...
This time it was the Giant's turn to look incredulous at such an unlikely occurrence.
"Ho-garth..." The strange name echoed like a memory waiting to come to the forefront, and then, a long-debated decision was made.
The men turned terrified in their fascination when he looked back down to them, gave their hull a small push with his finger tip to send them floating back and pointed at the place where the whale hunting harpoon had been on the splintered floor. The dumbfounded captain and his crew nodded automatically when he shook a finger at them as a friendly reminder. The Giant then gave a quick, affirmative nod to himself when he saw them a good distance away from the iceberg.
They all watched as the metal being bent his knees and gave a launch into the air, his enormous body enveloped their light in shadow and they feared they would be belly-flopped to death but a moment later the Giant had vanished totally.
More ultraviolet rays had shielded his body in a wide but thin cloaked spectral.
Flames rippled furiously like rocket fuel being churned out of it's combustion chamber over the gawking observers and, before any person could get out a single word, the fire trails had vanished.
"Where do you think it be goin'? "Someone found their voice to ask the obvious.
No one had an answer.
May 1st, 1964: Rockwell, Maine...
A large, red motorcycle raced down the main road with a smaller green one right at it's end, the tail pipes glowed as if they were about to send out jets of flame. Both cycles slowed upon reaching the local diner.
People glanced up from what they were doing momentarily while both riders maneuvered their way into the parking lot. The crimson paint of the bigger motorcycle gleamed freshly as the person removed a matching helmet.
"Your old man and lady did you one right, Garth Hughes."
The sixteen-year-old gave a side grin over at his friend before adjusting the mirror on his handle bar. "I'll say," he replied as he examined his lingering baby face. "Dean and Mom don't disappoint." The roundness seemed as though it would never leave.
"We'd have been here sooner if you hadn't stopped to work on that tractor."
"What can I say? John needed a hand. Sides, when I finally get my own body shop they'll be plenty of green to go around."
A small spot of stubble was growing on his chin and he fingered it a bit worriedly, shaving was always a pain. Hogarth put the kick stand down and checked his wallet for several coins.
"Hey, bro." Billy slapped a hand on his padded shoulder. "Think you can bum a twenty-five cent piece? I'm a little low on dough."
"You're up to three bone, man."
"Aw, c'mon, be a pal. How about I write an 'I Owe You' ?"
He gradually reached over to give him a quarter when the sight of a hippie gathering caught his attention. Hogarth was ready to disregard them when one girl in particular made him drop most of his change. She sat behind a tan folding table with a book under the shade of a live oak.
"Who?" Billy asked in distraction as he scrambled for the fallen coins.
"Her." Hogarth felt a lump in his throat as he pointed her out.
"That hippie chick? I think her name's Taylor Evans from English class."
"Is it okay if I see you around...?"
"Wait." he caught his friend's shoulder and whispered. "Are you really gonna go after that free-lovin' female?"
Hogarth glared at him.
"What? Girls like that only want to go with you for the-"
"I get it."
Despite his friend's warning, Hogarth felt himself gravitated toward the girl where several other hippie teens were braiding hair or tie-dying shirts while some were doing balloon animals, they had I Want To Hold Your Hand playing at a medium volume from inside a psychedelic patterned VW.
'Not my choice of coat, but I can dig it.' Hogarth thought.
Taylor was a petite girl of around sixteen with almost china doll-like features, she had hazel-ish eyes, a small bow-shaped mouth and a tiny, slightly upturned nose set in a perfect oval face while framed by straight, honey-blonde hair with a tie-dye bandana.
Hogarth swiped a thick-toothed comb from his back pocket and ran it through his tousled auburn hair once before approaching her.
"So," He rested an arm on the counter and motioned. "What is all this?"
Taylor raised an eyebrow. "Ways for raising money for the vet clinic. Fifty cents per item." she added to him as she moved a tin can down between her knees.
A boy wearing John Lennon sunglasses paused from dipping a shirt. "Fifty cents? But it's-Oof!"
It was apparent his foot had been stomped on.
"Fifty cents?" Hogarth reached into his pocket. "Kind of steep, isn't it? Well, I would go on ahead but it looks like I only have one quarter." he flipped it up into the air expertly.
"Sorry about that."
"No problem." She snatched it up in mid-flip.
"Hey." he tried getting it back but faltered, "You can't just-"
"Here." Taylor placed a partially made balloon animal in his hand. "It's half off."
Hogarth lifted a clear red stub by the rear legs. "Is this a tail...?"
"Mm-hm." She smiled sweetly. "I made it up to be a donkey."
He forced a smile. "You aren't as funny as you think you are."
She stood up. "And you're not as cool as you think you are."
"Well, maybe I happen to like leather jackets." he pulled on his collar. "And motorcycles."
"And maybe I have a unique sense of humor that goes unappreciated."
"How much was it really?" Hogarth demanded, he would not be taken for a fool. That was something he could do himself.
The two stared each other down a moment before Taylor let out a weary sigh, she slipped back down in her folding chair in defeat.
"Ten cents," she admitted before holding out a dime and nickel to him. "It's hard to believe, but we haven't had many kids by."
"Not that hard. When I was a kid I always had my nose buried in a comic book." He gave her hand a dismissive wave. "Save a pup."
"I didn't mean to con you." She tried giving him his change.
"Yes, you did."
"But not personally."
"But, intentionally." Hogarth pointed out, his index finger wagged in the air for emphasis. "I put up with many things, but lying about lying?" he smiled.
She gave a laugh before ushering him away. "All right, get going. I think we've already gone and made enough of a scene as it is…"
He turned perplexed when she suddenly trailed off and stuck out a hand, his fingers touched a well-muscled chest under a T-shirt and then struck the upper gums of a huge teenager behind him. Hogarth was jerked by the wrist around in time to face Gordon Rhinestien, the bigger teen stood with his shoulders brought back and his body poised in order to confront.
"Gordon," Hogarth greeted him in exaggerated casualness. "Long time no see." he turned to glance over at Taylor and added in a whisper, "or stench."
She rolled her eyes.
"You hittin' on my girl, Hughes?"
"I don't hit girls and I'm pretty sure people don't still own people."
Gordon loomed down closer to his face. "She's my girl." he hissed.
"Guys." Taylor sounded in a struggle to stay level. "Come on."
"I'm handlin' this, babe."
"You're making a scene, Gord." She told him.
"Gord?" Hogarth tried not to inhale the jock's foul breath. "That's that vegetable they use during Halloween, right? With pumpkins."
The acne-prone face turned from suspicion to confusion to anger.
"You're asking' for it, loser face."
"Here." Hogarth coolly pulled out Gordon's jacket pocket and dispensed some white candies inside. "Breath mints." he then released it and gave the pocket a couple of pats. "and plenty of'em."
"Ever wonder what a single pants leg is called? Is it pants or pant?"
He fumbled a bit with the square brass buckle as Gordon kept a towering vantage point over him but Hogarth grinned slightly when he got it.
The bigger boy scrambled to regain a more secure lift for the blue jeans that were failing him. When he got them situated, he thrust a hand out for Hogarth only to find his belt latched onto his wrist.
"Well, you were sort of asking for it."
"Let go! Please, le' go!"
"All righty then." He released the belt.
When Hogarth turned to see Taylor's reaction, she was heading to board the Volkswagen bus while the others loaded the stand inside. The girl gave him an unsure glance before getting on.
Hogarth started to move in her direction. "Taylor..."
The door closed shut and the automobile started. Everything had back-fired.
"Hey, Garth man. Nice one!" Hogarth turned to see one of the members of his on and off again motorcycle gang call out.
"Brother, the guy can talk his way out of anything," Another commented as they entered the diner and went to the far side. "as slick as the gray rabbit himself."
The leader, a stolid eighteen-year-old with a slight scar on his arched brows, gave Hogarth a nod to come join them before going in.
Instead, he took pity on the stumbling bully by undoing the thick belt and tossing it in his hand. Hogarth walked over to his bike before Gordon could stand up and with the hopes his mother hadn't seen.
A quick glance over toward the diner's window showed Billy giving him two thumbs up in mock congratulations with Taylor while he sucked some of the fizz off his cream soda. Hogarth stuck his hand in his pocket and gave him a subtle Bird.
'Yeah,' he thought in annoyance. 'Just keep that smug look pal.'
When his mother turned to wave with a smile at him, he gave a customary wave back and steered the heavy machine out onto the road, stopped to look both ways and started for home. That was when something made Hogarth pause to turn toward the setting sun far out in the distance.
His bike was poised toward home and yet he still stared toward the western sky ablaze in bright oranges and pinks. To avoid remembering, the young man started his destination. Thinking that it could happen would only serve to erode his acceptance of things; what was in the past was in the past.
To be continued...
~ Lavenderpaw ~