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Harold Calvin: Imagineer

By Lawrence Kinden All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure

Steele and the Bugger Invasion

Sergeant Steele, last survivor of the Fearless Falcon Company, perhaps the last survivor on planet Earth, crept carefully around the piled debris of what was once a skyscraper in the most populated city in the world, now a tumbled wreck.

On the far side, crouched in a shadowed corner, chittering away to itself, was one of them, the disgusting, slug-like buggers, the aliens who had destroyed his home in a matter of weeks. The Army had been no match for the slimy buggers and their ray gun technology. Though he and his men had fought valiantly, as had the whole planet, the buggers had won.

But Harry knew their weakness. Though their bodies were covered in a chitinous exoskeleton and their six limbs were equipped with diamond hard stingers and the slime that coated their bodies was like acid, there was an orifice on the side of their heads, much like an ear. A well placed shout would take out one of the buggers in an instant.

He didn’t have enough bullets for all of them, but he was damn sure going to take out as many as he could before they got him. He’d go to his silk-cocoon death knowing he’d been a thorn in the side of the allies.

The lone bugger never saw him coming. Harry took careful aim and…

The report of the handgun echoed through the ruins of the building. His aim was true. The monster squealed like a little girl.

“Mom!!”

Hannah clapped a hand over her ear, eyes screwed shut with the pain of a pressurized stream of water in the ear.

“Mom! He did it again!”

Sergeant Steele sprinted for cover while the disgusting creature squealed and squirmed in its death throes. He knew others were coming. For all their disgustingness, the buggers were unfalteringly loyal. If he was lucky, he’d get the chance to take out a few more before retreating to his makeshift lair in the abandoned subway tunnels.

From a safe place, he lingered, ready to bolt if the buggers came en mass. But he was in luck, just one of the slimy bug creatures came slithering into the ruins to watch the shrill death of its fellow. Sergeant Steele took aim and fired. But his aim was off and he caught the creature on the back of the head rather than the ear.

Dinah squeaked and spun around searching for her little brother. She heard his telltale giggle and stamped her foot. “Mom! Harold’s being a pest!”

Sergeant Steele sped through the clogged alleys and rubble-strewn ruins. He was nearly to the stairwell that would take him underground and to safety but came up short, his breath catching and his heart hammering.

The biggest bugger he’d ever seen blocked the stairwell, peering into it like it might find him. It was the queen mother of the buggers, the biggest, baddest of them all. This was it, this was his chance to take them out for good. Before they’d all been killed, the scientists had guessed that the buggers were like a hive mind and that to destroy the queen was to destroy them all.

Fortunately, he had prepared for just such an occasion.

Hidden under a pile of bricks that looked like they’d just fallen that way was a thermal detonator, the most destructive grenade the army had created in their attempt to beat back the buggers. It would be enough, it had to be enough. If he could finish them here, perhaps other survivors could rebuild.

Grenade in hand, he approached as quietly as he could. He knew the blast would likely take him too, but it would be worth it. With a shout of triumph, he initiated the thermal detonator and slammed it into the grotesque bugger queen’s back.

Cynthia Calvin, mother of four and avid gardener, gasped and stood from her gardening box in the backyard. The icy cold during the height of summer might have been nice had it not been all at once, had she had some warning. Instead, the shock of it brought tears to her eyes. She spun around to find Harold Calvin, her youngest and only boy, with a wide if sheepish grin.

“Um… hi, mom.”

Sergeant Steele was thrown back by the blast. He coughed and groaned but was still breathing. It was a miracle. He squinted through the dust and haze. All around him he could hear the squealing pain of buggers. All over the city he knew they were squirming and writhing and shuddering. He had won. He had done it.

But then, through the smoke, loomed the queen mother of the buggers.

“Damn,” he muttered.

“Harold Jonathan Calvin!”

He tried to get up, to get away, but the queen mother’s stare was paralyzing. She advanced upon him slowly her death glare pinning him to the spot. Sergeant Steele knew he was doomed. All he could do was stare his death in her multifaceted eyes and wait.

Cynthia snagged her son by the wrist before he could dash away. She knelt upon the lawn and dragged him over her knee and spanked him quickly, three hard smacks to impress upon him that she was serious.

“Ha! That’s what you get!” Hannah shouted.

Cynthia looked up at her daughters who’d gathered to watch. “You three, go on.”

“Mom! Harold shot me with his stupid water gun again,” Dinah complained.

“He got me in the ear!” Hannah squealed.

Rachel, who hadn’t been shot at all, just grinned widely.

“I’m dealing with it,” Cynthia said. “Now, go on.”

“But they won’t play with me,” Harold said, blinking away the alien ravaged dystopia of his mindscape as he mother hauled him inside and up the stairs.

Cynthia sat her son on his bed and knelt in front of him. She sighed. Four children, only the youngest of whom was a boy, was handful enough, but that the boy was such a rambunctious, energetic, mischievous boy was even more so.

“Perhaps you should try playing a game that doesn’t including shooting water at them.”

Harold sighed and flopped back on his bed. “How long do I have to stay here?”

“Half an hour. Then we’ll talk about it.”

Sergeant Steele winced as his cell door slammed shut. He hadn’t known the buggers took prisoners. He’d only ever seen their victims eaten alive, struggling inside the buggers’ stomachs as they were slowly digested. Did that mean there were more intelligent aliens controlling the buggers or that they were more intelligent than he’d thought? Not that it mattered. The queen mother bugger had survived his thermal detonator. He was captured and if he wasn’t digested to death, he’d starve instead.

The window was open, letting in the summer breeze and playful giggles of his sisters. Harold stood at the window and looked at the backyard where his mother gardened and his sisters cavorted. He smiled. In his underwear drawer was a sack of water balloons his mother hadn’t found. It was his emergency reserve stash.

Sergeant Steele couldn’t believe his luck. The cell the buggers had put him in was actually a supply closet in an old army surplus store. And it was filled with thermal detonators. With the shout of a man reborn, he kicked down the door and enacted explosive revenge.

“Harold!”

His sisters fled futilely from his expertly lobbed water balloons. They squealed and shouted and cried as they were soaked from above. But it wasn’t long before his mother burst into his room, soaked through.

“That’s it!”

Harold was yanked from the alien ravaged dystopia of his mindscape. His mother sat on his bed and dragged him over her knee. She pulled his shorts and underwear to his knees and spanked his bare bottom while he kicked and cried and shouted. She spanked him so that he sobbed uncontrollably. She spanked him so that he was sure he’d never sit again.

“You’re grounded until dinner,” his mother said while he howled with pain. Her callous, uncaring tone convinced him he was the saddest, most unfairly treated boy in the whole town. He cried as loudly as he could, even after the sting of the spanking faded a few minutes later. When he became bored of that, his attention drifted back to…

Sergeant Steele stood among the guts and ichor of the broken, burned buggers, triumphant. It had cost him. He’d endured pain unlike any other. But he’d won. The mother queen bugger (not to mention several other buggers) was blasted to bits. But this was just one city. The scientists had thought there were more mother queens buggers, perhaps one per city.

He knew their weakness. He knew how to beat them. He knew what he had to do.

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