By Richard Manly Heiman
“What’cha buildin’, bud?” the old guy hollered from the road 25 yards below.
“Bunker,” I shouted, setting down the second to last cinder block. It squished a fat black stink bug who assumed an absurd defensive posture against thirty pounds of concrete. I ambled downhill, smiling, brushing red Sierra dirt off my pants.
He laughed. His rusted Ford was idling rough. His hair had long since parted ways with his scalp. More chrome on him than left on that 150, I thought. Machine parts, hay, wire, and other flotsam filled the truck bed. More rust. Looked like a tetanus risk for sure.
He stared up at the low mound of the roof. “What fer? Expectin’ terrists?” He spat tobacco juice, a long thin stream that hit the runner on his truck and drizzled down.
“No, not terrorists. Aliens. Big ones, nasty attitudes. Lightly armored, though. They’re from a heavier planet.” I patted the Ruger Blackhawk on my hip. Open carry was legal here. Unincorporated land. Of course, that wouldn’t matter much real soon.
His mouth flopped open. Closed and opened like a landed bass. Finally, “How you know all that?” he asked. “You some science man?”
“Nope. Just a feeling. And some dreams I’ve had. Eleven weeks now, in a row. Vivid. Not much time left.”
His eyes flickered.
“It’s okay.” I chuckled. “Everybody says I’m—”
“Well,” he interrupted, feigning a watch check as he revved the engine, “gotta go. The wife’s got supper ready. Good luck, partner!” The clutch popped and he lurched on down the road, dust clouds and blue smoke trailing.
I worked into dusk. Next day, I got the sod down over the roof, threw odd rocks and sticks and pine cones on. Thought about adding poison oak—the lot was festooned with it. Didn’t want it on me, though.
From inside, thin slit ports gave a clear sightline to the road. I finished loading in, then sat down. Cramped, sure, but room for cot and camp chair, cans and freeze-dried stuff and jerky, stacks of Ramen, ammo, first aid kit, one book, flashlights, batteries, 60-70 days of bottled water. Deep hole in the corner, peat moss.
Tonight the first drop ships uncloaked and broke high orbit. One came close, probably heading to Reno. Cell phone died right after. I just hunkered. In the dark, cradling my Henry Big Boy. “Bring it on,” I muttered. “Bring it on.”