Lights in the Night

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Chapter 26: At a Town Meeting

About the time Cuff, Link, and the refugees in the shop were screaming. Sheriff Rodriguez, his few deputies, Big Jim and several of Big Jim’s men rolled into town. All moving towards the Town Hall. Hauling ten incarcerated, animal rights vandals zip-tied in several different vehicles. Coming upon the blocked center of town with the impromptu bandstand was quite a shock for all involved. Even more compelling to the seriousness of the problem was the fifteen to twenty thousand people milling about the streets, all converging on the center of town.

“I should’ve never left San Antonio. Gangbangers were easier than this,” Sheriff Rodriguez muttered as he exited his patrol car. “You three stay put, I’ll not be in a mood to deal with any bullshit when I come back,” glancing at the three suspects detained in the back of his car.

“What the hell is going on here. You have got to fix this Sheriff! This is going to ruin our town!” Big Jim was hyperventilating.

“I don’t think our two-room jail is going to handle them all, Jim. What do you suggest I do, shoot them?”

Jim took him literally, “Think we can? We could call it a riot!” Jim headed back to his mini-convoy, disappearing quickly into a sea of much taller heads.

“Little prick,” under the Sheriff’s breath.

Standing there watching the scene evolve, the Sheriff felt flaccid, impotent, and uncertain on how to handle a group of peaceful partiers of this size.

Approaching from the south, Big Jim had met up with a group of angry locals. Swelling his small squad of henchmen to a group of fifty civilians, armed with farm tools, flashlights, and an extensive assortment of firearms. This was Texas after all. Looking like an updated angry villager scene from a black and white Frankenstein movie, Big Jim led the mob towards the Sheriff’s location.

The lights from the mob are what attracted the Sheriff’s attention. The music from the current band, which sounded like cats fighting to the locals, drowned out most background noise. Turning around to meet Big Jim, followed by Butch, Casey, and a goodly portion of the adult population of the town. Most everyone still living in the town between the ages of ten to twenty-five were enjoying the party.

Shocked at the mob approaching him the Sheriff blurted out, “What the hell are you doing here?

A chorus of voices sang out at once, all singing different words, but to the same tune. Would’ve made a beautiful effect had this been a Greek drama. “Sheriff, you have to...” “Sheriff, they crushed...” “Sheriff, look what they are doing to my...” “They are killing my lawn...” “...they dented...” “...craped...” “...stole...” and in one grand crescendo, “SHERIFF, YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING!”

Before the Sheriff could properly formulate a plan, he needed to act. Not sure how long the bullets would remain in the resident’s clips. He knew scared angry people with guns could be a disaster. Last thing he wanted was a massacre on his watch.

“Casey, Butch: You two are the least pissed. Keep the others here. I will try to clear this out. Jim... just keep your mouth shut. We don’t need violence tonight.”

Heading off towards the epicenter of the crowd, he noted the TV crews imbedded in the masses of people. Doing his best to steer clear of the reporters, last thing he wanted was to go on the record about this situation.

Things inside the shop could be called tense as well. The standoff in the loading dock, was longer because Cuff and Link showed an almost superhuman restraint. Not because they had been affected by the malaise attacking many of the people connected to the story, but just because they legitimately were laid back.

The scene might be called comical if not for the seriousness of alien invasion.

Once the screaming had stopped, lights switched on. Cuff and Link, arms full of toilet paper locked eyes with four demented people. Each holding a broom, stapler, tape gun and the lone twenty-four-inch spanner, faces ready for havoc. Rather than fight their friends, they dropped the toilet paper as they raised their hands in surrender.

What followed was a one-sided interrogation, with hand signals, nods, and the occasional grunt. After a spell the group was convinced, the alien influence did not control the two strong men. Trevor was still not sure if their loyalties lay with him or Barney but at least the both of them were human, he accepted that. The entire scene accompanied by the background thumping of the band, which still sounded like cats in heat.

About this time, the Sheriff made it through the mosh pit. Having no clue how to handle the situation, he formulated his plan walking up the steps to the stage. Smart enough to let the band finish their song, he strolled out on the stage to face the reveling crowd, approaching the microphone.

The population of the audience was mostly law-abiding citizens. However, there is something about the anonymity of a mob. Allows people to lose control, and come in touch with their viler instincts.

Speaking into the mic, “I hope you all are having a great time...” this was met with a roar of acceptance from the crowd.

Bolstered from the positive response, he continued, “We are... going to have to ask you all... to disperse and head out of town... The town is not set... up to handle this kind of concert.”

The last bit was drowned out by the horde of rowdy partiers.

In the shop, the lack of background thumping was discovered immediately. The intrepid group scrambled to the front of the building, cracking the door open so they might all see the events in the center of town. Observing the Sheriff approaching the mic.

“What is that fool doing?”

“I hope he don’t get hurt.”

“Somebody should help him.”

“That crowd is going to eat him for a late-night snack.”

Nod.

Shake.

They opened the door, stepping out onto the sidewalk just enough so all could witness the bloodshed about to happen.

Facing a growing hostile crowd, the Sheriff tried to continue.

“I need all of you to pick up your gear and leave town,” again, when he was about halfway through his sentence, the crowd started booing him.

The reporters in the crowd sent it all over the air live. The regularly programmed entertainment was halted. The news needed to be beamed live onto all manner of electronic devices around the state. Being a slow news night a number of twenty-four-hour news channels even started using the streaming feed.

The Sheriff tried three more times to rein-in the hostile crowd. Empty beer cans were the first projectiles to be thrown at the sheriff, he dodged them with ease. Just as he was about to be booed off the stage. One of the roadies wearing a hoodie and bandana to cover his face came from offstage and pushed the Sheriff off the stage and into the crowd.

Big Jim’s posse was torn between whether to wade into the melee for a rescue attempt, or to crack some heads. Of course, they did nothing but watch.

News crews caught the whole incident live. The video would receive millions of hits. It was turned into several gifs and memes flooding the internet with the Sheriff’s face. He became an instant celebrity, for all the wrong reasons.

Dazed, the Sheriff never had a chance to think of this as he was manhandled over the crowd’s head, surfing. He did possess the presence of mind to hold on to his service weapon tightly and to not fight the crowd. For a brief moment, he even enjoyed the sensation of weightlessness as the multitude of hands braced his weight and he floated over the crowd, completely in their control.

On the sidewalk, the six who knew what was genuinely going on stood in shock. Trevor managed a weak, “Never saw that coming.”

With this chaotic scene unfolding, Crystal stepped out onto the stage, carrying her crystal egg. Wearing a flowing robe, manifesting as if an angel. A breeze gathered the cloth of her gossamer gown billowing it, behind her like wings. She approached the mic and whispered, “People listen to me.”

Of course, the crowd ignored her. She tried again louder, “People listen to me.”

Again, the crowd grew unrulier. The third time she spoke with a full voice, greatly amplified beyond what the speakers might normally provide. At the same time, the circuits feeding power to the city couldn’t take the power requirements a moment longer. If she caused the overload or the system failed at a convenient time could be debated for a lifetime.

The outcome was perfectly timed. The mains to the city failed sending a charge down the power lines that blew breakers around town and sent sparks flying about the stage. Thrust into darkness, the audience’s attention was immediately seized.

One lone emergency light backlit Crystal, displaying her nude silhouette through the sheer fabric. Giving her a golden sun-drenched glow. The crystal egg held high over her head, splitting the light from behind, into laser-like beams. Washing the crowd in a golden shower of light. All broadcast to the world.

“Please put the Sheriff down, he has done nothing to you, he is simply doing his job,” the mob enthralled, complied instantly.

“We have disrupted this nice town long enough!” now having the crowds undivided attention, she continued.

“I understand your need to celebrate and to exercise your demons, but we can’t do it at the expense of the people that live here.”

The multitude turned their smartphones towards her, filming. The light they provided gave an otherworldly, surreal effect, enhancing the message she was delivering.

“Just because we can’t ruin these good people’s lives, doesn’t mean we must stop, or go back to our mundane selves tonight... or tomorrow... we can party until we are exhausted if we like.”

Barney strutted up to the front of the stage, “We found a place where the party can go on till we decide to stop!” the crowd cheered.

“If it can’t go on here, it can happen there!” showing them his phone, “I am sharing the coordinates with you so you can use GPS to locate it,” pushing a button on his phone. The dings were heard traveling through the crowd like a wave as the various phones captured the information. Those not quick enough or tech savvy enough took handwritten notes.

Barney stepped back from the edge of the stage, giving center stage to Crystal, “We have one hour to get out of town. The location has been prepped all day. It is ready for you, as soon as you can get there. Please clean up after yourselves. We want to be good neighbors.”

Power workers had shed enough load, allowing them to shift the breakers back on, returning power to the center of town. Just as Crystal finished. The flash of light as power arrived at lights still turned on, timed perfectly with Crystal’s departure from the stage. Leading many to believe she vanished instead of strolled off stage right.

Trevor had to admire the staging of it all. It was the best-choreographed event he had seen in a long time. The audacity of it, it would fit perfectly into any plan Barney might come up with. Only problem was Barney hadn’t come up with it, the whole idea was the thought Trevor had just before his unexpected breakdown at Crystal’s. A New Age Rave in the desert, a la Burning Man. Twenty bucks a head.

“That bloody prick somehow stole my idea,” he muttered to himself as the crowd started milling about smartly. All wanting to be the first to arrive at the new party location. A location they would find was miles away from town, in the middle of nowhere, in the fields behind an abandoned gas station. In front of an immense water tank, it was hard to miss.

The armed citizens of Marysfield were satisfied the mob was leaving town. The Sheriff was happy no one got hurt. The refugees in the shop where happy the aliens were leaving town. The news crews were happy, they knew ratings were going through the roof. Many on the internet were happy. Finding the location of the party quick enough, many headed to what they reckoned would be the party of the decade. Big enough to rival Woodstock.

Everyone was happy but Big Jim. After a bad day, he really wanted to shoot someone legal like. He was not going to let these piss ants ruin his reputation. Someone was going to pay. He motioned his men to follow him back to the Escalades. Jaw clenched. He had a score to settle.

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