|“What am I supposed to do with this light?” Billy Bob asked. “And why does it have a red lens on it?”
“You point it over their heads, like I told ya’,” Bubba responded sternly. “I swear if I hadn’t promised Pappy I’d take care of you before he passed, I’d be slappin’ you a’side the head all day long.”
“So, the light...?”
“You shine it just above their heads, like I said,” Bubba repeated. “Gives them a halo. Don’t shine it directly in their eyes or they’ll bug out. The white light intimidates them but the red light don’t bother them none.”
“Ok,” Billy Bob responded.
“And don’t be doin’ any shootin’ tonight,” Bubba ordered. “If you can show that you can identify the critter, you can do some shootin’ next time. I’ve had deer and dogs and house cats and even a cow come at me when I make the calls. If we blow the head off old Mrs. Wilson’s cat, they’re be hell to pay with the Sheriff. We’re only after predators, got it? Sheriff don’t care if we deal out some misery to the local varmint population.”
“Got it,” Billy Bob said. Both brothers wore camouflaged hunting suits from head to toe, including their hats with flaps that covered their ears to keep them warm in the dark morning hours. They laid on top of a mat they put down on the brush and fallen branches, and hid behind the downed trunk of a coniferous tree facing east. The darkness surrounded them like a fog. The dim moonbeams that somehow penetrated the canopy of the forest cast eerie shadows around the trees and their drooping branches.
Billy Bob nearly jumped out of his skin when Bubby made a mouth call. Nothing stirred in the woods at all. He followed it up with a smooch, and finally a lip squeak. Squeaking usually attracted them into range, but for some reason the predators of the night seemed unnaturally absent. The brothers laid perfectly still for nearly three hours before they heard the familiar sound of breaking twigs.
Bubba looked at his brother intensely. Billy Bob knew what to do. He tightly grasped the handle of the oversized light, its cables winding down to a 12-volt truck battery they hauled with them in a blue plastic milk crate. When the sounds of the breaking branches came within a hundred yards, he pointed the million candlepower light up over the critter’s head and pulled back on the trigger, giving it a halo. The shape of the eyes that reflected the light back wasn’t what either of the brothers expected. Instead of small round eyes close set together, the eyes that looked back at them were huge. The flare of the red light also revealed the shape and stature of the critter; it had a large head and a skinny body, and it was standing upright.
The creature squealed unlike anything they had ever heard. The eyebrows around the large eyes furled as a bright yellow light flashed near the creature.
“The critter has a flashlight, too,” Billy Bob stupidly remarked, a moment before a beam of light sliced through the large light he was holding, smashing it to bits and knocking it out of his hands. He ducked down behind the log as more bits of yellow light screeched at them striking the fallen tree, instantly converting the water inside the log into steam. The log cracked and split as the steam expanded and escaped.
“I don’t think that’s a flashlight,” Bubba responded as more streaks of light zipped over the heads, lighting up the tree trunks like yellow flickers of lightning. A bolt crashed into a branch above them. They looked up as it cracked and snapped and then fell on top of them with a thud.
The older brother cursed as more bolts of energy slammed into the log between them and the creature. He plunged the end of his old Marlin model 795 .22 caliber rifle underneath the tree and fired back. The booms of three shots echoing throughout the forest. The creature squealed and fled.
“Damn right! Damn right!” Bubba shouted as he stood up, emptying the remaining rounds into the night. Billy Bob jumped up, sweeping a harsh white beam from a long barreled flashlight across the floor of the woods. The creature was gone.
“What the hell was that?” Billy Bob shouted.
“Don’t rightly know,” Bubba barked. He ejected the 10-shot nickel-plated magazine out of the rifle and snapped a new one in its place. He looked over at his brother who was pointing the flashlight between a cluster of tree trunks. He looked downrange to see what had completely transfixed Billy Bob. The bright white light of the flashlight reflected off something shiny in the distance.
Bubba silently gestured towards it with his chin as Billy Bob held the flashlight and a long-barreled hunting pistol in his other hand. They cautiously moved between the trees to take a closer look. They both tilted their heads sideways when they found it. A silvery disc-shaped object the size of a small truck had carved out a trench into the ground and was leaning up against a tree that had stopped its path through the woods. The lid of a canopy hung open.
“Is that a...? Billy Bob asked.
“Yeup,” was Bubba’s only response.
“Then that thing was a...?”
“Yeup,” Bubba repeated. He looked at his brother awkwardly. “A gray,” he said. “They’re from Zeta Reticuli. Read that on the Internets.”
“What are we going to do?” Billy Bob asked. “Call the Sheriff? Call the Air Force?”
“We hunt it.”
“Cuz it’s an extra-tuh-restrial varmint,” Bubba explained. “Those bastards mutilate our cows and steal our women and abduct good folks and do God knows what with their anal probes. We need to kill it for ‘merica.”
“For ‘merica!!!” Billy Bob chanted in agreement, waving his gun in the air.