At about the time David and Susan were drifting off to sleep, Rusty Smythe, boulevardier of Rosedale, Mississippi, pulled his teenager jalopy into an abandoned farm drive and eased down behind the deserted barn and some tumble down outbuildings. It was one of his favorite trysting spots. During warmer weather he sometimes took a date to the top of the green knoll that thrust up from the old pasture, and spread a blanket there. Tonight it was too cool for that, and Rusty decided to make his pitch in the cramped confines of the car.
Rusty left the motor running and the sounds of the car heater and radio competed with his and his date’s muffled debate over the pros and cons of removing her brassiere.
“Okay!” Rusty said at length in mock disgust, disengaging himself and slouching behind the wheel. He fiddled with the radio, feigning complete loss of interest in his companion. It was a stratagem that had occasionally worked in the past. His date buttoned her blouse tentatively, studying him uncertainly.
Suddenly there was a low rumble and the earth beneath the car trembled and swayed. The girl’s hands froze on the buttons of her blouse. Rusty jerked erect behind the steering wheel. The incident passed in seconds.
“What was that?” she whispered with round eyes.
“Geez! An earthquake?” Rusty wondered aloud. “I never felt one before. Geez!”
Rusty decided to get back to town. It was 3 in the morning, but maybe some of the guys were still hanging around. This was a major event!
As his hand reached for the ignition, the rumbling returned much more severely. The car jumped and bounced wildly.
“Rusty!” his date screamed in terror. “Rusty!”
“Cripes!” Rusty yelled, his hand frozen on the key. Should they move or stay put? Was this it? Was he going to die?
“Rusty, look!” his date shrieked. Rusty looked up through the windshield. The pupils of his eyes dilated in wonder. The green mound in the pasture was splitting apart! Great clods of turf and rocks levitated into the air, only to arc back downward and land with a staccato drum roll of smacks and thuds in a large circle fifty or more yards from the mound’s base. Was it a volcano being born? It had to be! Son of a bitch, they had to get out of there! Rusty frantically cranked the car’s starter motor, nearly twisting the key off in the switch!
“Start, start!” he pleaded to the engine.
Anxiously he glanced up again, expecting to see fire explode any second from the yawning hole where the hill’s crown had been seconds before. Instead Rusty beheld a monstrous sphere, dripping with muck and filth, rising majestically out of the hill. His first thought was that it was some new kind of weapon. Of course! All of the old, abandoned farms around there had been secretly bought up by the government!
“War!” he thought. “Nuclear war!”
Slowly the sphere ascended in the moonlight.
“Rusty, let’s go!” his date pleaded tearfully, her nails biting into his forearm.
“Ow!” he complained, grasping her wrist and pushing her away.
“Goddamn!” he swore, contemplating his arm. It was bleeding!
“Let’s get out of here!” she growled menacingly.
“All right, all right!” he agreed, again reaching for the ignition.
Before Rusty was able to turn the key, a feeling of immense heaviness seized both of them. The car creaked and crouched to the ground, compressing its springs and shock absorbers to the limit. Rusty and the girl sank into the seat, grunting, trying to draw breath. His hand lay pinned to the floor beneath the ignition switch. Certain that the end was at hand, Rusty took curious note of the scattered trees that surrounded the remnants of the mound. Smaller branches lay pinned to their trunks; larger ones broke off with sharp reports. Behind the car the old barn creaked and groaned. A shed off to the side --- an old hen house or something --- cracked and collapsed in a cloud of dust, which itself immediately wafted down with a hissing sound.
Rusty and his date watched through sagging eyes as the great sphere rose higher into the sky. Suddenly there was a sizzling, and all of the muck and filth clinging to the craft exploded away from it like fleas jumping off a hot stove. A second later the car was pelted with a hailstorm of small stones and dirt. Rusty blinked, and when he looked again the craft had been transformed from a sodden ball to a monstrous, metallic sphere, gleaming brilliantly in the light of the full moon. As the thing gained altitude, the crushing weight began to lift from their bodies. They could breathe again! Less than a minute later the craft stopped climbing and began to move slowly to the west. In the moonlight Rusty noted the branches of trees in the woodland beyond the pasture thrash downward as the ship passed overhead.
“What was it, Rusty? What was it?” his date cried.
“A spaceship,” he blurted decisively. “It’s a goddamned spaceship! And we saw it first!”
A halt in the music drew their eyes to the illuminated radio dial.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” an excited voice announced. “We interrupt this broadcast with the following news bulletin: A mild earthquake has been felt in the Mississippi River Valley near Greenville! Do not be alarmed! Officials have tentatively located the epicenter north of Greenville. Again, a mild earthquake has been felt in the Mississippi River Valley near Greenville, Mississippi! Please stay tuned! Further information will be broadcast on this station as it becomes available.”
The music came back on as suddenly as it had stopped. Rusty and his date looked at each other in disbelief.
“Earthquake my ass!” Rusty yelled, twisting the key and roaring out of the barnyard.