Chapter 15: The Battle of Marsdon Hill
Grandma Nesbitt stomped her foot.
“Well, I haven’t lost,” she said vehemently, “neither has Peter if I know him. Whatever is going on here, we must do something. We must take a stand.”
The rest agreed but without the Beautiful Woman All Dressed in White to guide them, they didn’t know where to begin.
“We can’t get into the building; they’ve blocked it up. What a disappointment it will be for them to find out it only has day old cupcakes and cold coffee in the rec room,” said Bert.
Clement looked at Bucky and offered up an idea.
“We could find a way in, you know, underground and such. Maybe if we go into the sewer, we can come up through the air vents and protect what is in there.”
Bucky didn’t mean to be rude but she shot down that idea rather quick. “There is nothing in there. The Chamber of Commerce is not a ‘chamber’ at all. It is a group of people who--”
She was cut off rather tersely. Mrs. Nesbitt had found her own sprinkler key at the flower shop across the street. The flower pots had all fallen when the antigravity phenomenon had stopped, so there were broken shards of pots and spilled dirt everywhere, and the proprietor didn’t notice her taking it.
“I’ll return this when I’m done,” she said as she tossed a twenty dollar bill onto the upturned table in front of the shop, directly across the street from where the kukyz had covered 301 A.
“Now I’m going to do something or I’m in for it!” So she stomped off toward Ewart Street School.
“Where are you going?” asked Bucky’s mom.
“To the well where my grandson is! This place was a distraction. The real battle will happen at one of those portals, or my name isn’t Nora Nesbitt!”
They all followed, determined to do something, anything, to thwart a hostile takeover, even if it was a magical one that they didn’t understand.
“If it is a doorway in, then it is a doorway out,” said Bucky.
This made sense to everybody and they all agreed to go. Next to the building known as 301 A, there was another shop, a thrift store of sorts, and there were a few TV sets in the street window that had somehow managed to not tip or fall during the antigravity effect and were currently on.
Grandma Nesbitt wanted to go have a look and see if they could figure out what they were up against. The group walked up to the thrift shop and stood, staring at the largest TV screen, where the Spectacular News was playing loud and clear.
“And so Angela, there was another strange robbery in Hollywood again. Seems some big fan of special effects stole a whole lot of gelatin used in making artificial lava, and also a certain amount of floor heaters and smoke machines. They promptly sold it on that popular auction site, I-Lagoon, and the lucky auction winner is now wanted by the police. But here’s something interesting about all those strange critters we’ve been seeing, it seems these cute little guys have been covering up buildings all along the East Coast as well. Strangely enough, they seem to mostly be churches, synagogues, temples, meeting halls, that kind of thing. They have been avoiding, however, fast food restaurants and banks.”
“Well, they certainly are cute, Ted.”
“I’ve decided from now on to call you Ted.”
“Cute,” yelled Bucky, “they’re simply hideous!”
Phil on the TV continued on, “Angela, some folks have been calling in saying these little guys are terrifying, so we’ve asked a scientific expert to come on our show and give us the low down on these entertaining and informative creatures.”
The camera panned to the right of Phil to show a small man with very little hair on the top of his head, but a lot on his chin and upper lip. He also had tiny rimmed glasses that shone too much in the studio light.
“What we have here,” said the little man, “is an entirely new species of either primate, reptile or rodent. Certainly an unlikely evolution of all three.”
“So a new species? It just appeared?” asked Phil.
“No, Phil,” said the little scientist, but he was interrupted.
“Ted,” said Phil.
“I thought your name was Phil.”
“It is, but Angela wants to call me Ted and...”
“Anyway,” continued the scientist, “nothing is ever ‘new.’ I guess I could call it, ‘newly discovered.’ These creatures have probably been here for a long time.”
“Since the stone age?” Phil asked, trying to look bright. “I mean, since they can turn to stone. You know? What other animal has evolution provided us that can turn to stone?”
“We don’t know yet. That’s the beauty of science. Some of us can make it up as we go.”
The TV turned immediately to a commercial and Bucky got very frustrated.
“Science on news programs is no science at all. Who is that idiot anyway?”
“Phil,” said Clement. Bucky meant the scientist, who really had no training in serious science at all but wrote a lot about how color can change the future and a series of science fiction stories that started a whole religion. He also denied the existence of China, citing he had never been there, and even though he had seen pictures and had reliable witnesses to tell him otherwise, he was going to refuse to believe it until he actually got there.
Bucky started walking faster. “I don’t know about how the rest of you feel, but if our TV shows are trusting the words of lower intelligent life like that guy, we’re already in the war.”
The rest agreed and picked up their pace.
Within a few minutes they were on the grounds of Ewart Street School and marching straight toward the squeaky metal gate. Clement looked a bit worried, because this was where it all began, and it made him uncomfortable.
“I’m such a dolt. Why did I do it? Do you think Peter could ever forgive me?”
“No time to worry about that now, Clement. We have bigger problems.”
Bucky was right. Above Marsdon Hill, where the well was, loomed a dark and ominous mist. In it were several flashing lights, like lightning balls or arcs of electricity. Every now and then a bolt would strike the well. The bolts increased in frequency as Bucky and the others made their way up the hill.
“I don’t like the look of that,” said Bert.
“Careful Bev, you’re going too fast,’ said her mother, but Bucky didn’t listen. She climbed the hill and stood at the edge of the well, looking up into the dark cloud formation. Clement had run right up behind her.
“What can you see?”
“Nothing. It is too dark.”
A lightning bolt flashed and hit the ground near the well. There was a loud clapping sound and the children fell back, their skin tingling with electricity.
“It’s too dangerous!” yelled Grandma Nesbitt.
Suddenly from out of the well they heard a cry.
“Grandma?” said the voice from the well.
“Peter!” yelled Grandma Nesbitt and she ran as fast as her plump body could move and got to the well despite all the lightning.
“Are you all right down there?”
Clement looked at Bucky. “Did he say he’s cold?”
A loud horn sounded, coming from the clouds. Mrs. Nesbitt, who was a religious woman, thought this indeed was the final apocalypse. She looked up and started to sing a hymn when out of the sky and through the little roof and into the well drove a small ford convertible, the driver and passenger laughing and yelling, “Hello, Mom!” then disappearing into the gloom.