by Hugh Wesley
Stand there just a few moments more ...
|“Alright, now, ma’am.” Sheriff Roy Bivens scratched his scruffy chin. “You’ve caused quite a ruckus here in our little town.”
Shelly was hyperventilating. It was easy to do — she’d had enough practice.
“I’m … sorry … Sheriff,” she huffed out between gasps.
Bivens put a hand on the young lady’s forearm. Even standing there under the noon sun, and even through her linen sleeve, the girl radiated cold like an ice block.
“Give her some room!” Bivens bellowed to the crowd gathered around them. It felt like all of Fortune Gulch was standing right there in the middle of town, all at once.
“Alright now, miss,” he said. “Take a deep breath, and calm down.”
Shelly tried to smile. Took a deep breath. It felt like nothing. Never did.
“Alright, then,” Bivens said, “why don’t you start at the beginning?”
Shelly nodded again.
“My husband and me camped just over that ridge last night,” she pointed to the east. “Headed in from Indianapolis.”
“Indianapolis!” Bivens exclaimed. “That’s a long journey, missy. I suppose you came for the gold.”
Shelly dropped her eyes, face flushed. “Well, yes, Sheriff.”
The townspeople had closed in again. They were all there for gold. The bait always worked, Shelly thought.
“Uh-huh,” Bivens said, less friendly. “Then what?”
“Well, when I got up early this mornin’, Allen was gone and a big bright light was zipping all over the sky — then it just disappeared.”
The crowd hissed in derision, and Bivens let out an exasperated sigh.
“So, you think whatever made this light … took your husband?”
Shelly’s hair tingled, and she knew the ship was just above them. She had only to keep her eyes down, not give it away, keep the townspeople gathered for a few moments more.
It was going to be another successful harvest.