Prompt: A Barn
Approx. 1430 words
It is a nice night tonight.
The air is cooler than it has been; yet warm enough that I can still leave my jacket in the house. I know I will need it in a few weeks when winter again bleaches the fields white, but at this moment, I enjoy that I can still comfortably pass the evening in a tee-shirt and jeans.
I never regretted moving out to what my family considers “The Boondocks.” My work requires discretion and this hundred acre farm in the middle of Upstate New York fits that requirement easily. A small house to live in while I waited for my “customers,” and a large but unassuming barn to do the work in. The place is company owned of course, but it was purchased specifically for me.
I have enjoyed the relative quiet of the place for almost five years now; and when the time comes to move on I know without a doubt I will be looking for another place just like it, only the mortgage will be in my name.
I do regret that I never said goodbye to my family and I admit I probably should have given them at least a day’s heads up before just taking off, but I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable grilling I would get from my sisters, or give my mom a chance to talk me out of it. I never told them the real reason why I was moving. They may be family but there are some secrets that need to stay secrets. All they know is that I took on a caretaker job somewhere upstate , and to be honest that is not too far from the truth.
In the distance, I see a stab of light oscillating between dim and bright. It’s another customer making their way up the twisting and hilly dirt road that leads here. I glance at my watch – twelve fifteen a.m.
This guy is a bit early but not unreasonably so. I head over to the barn to fire up the equipment, it doesn’t take much time and its best not to keep the customer waiting, even if they are early.
I slide open the large barn door which rattles and creaks then fumble for the light switch. Inside it looks just like you would expect the inside of a barn to look like. There are a number of stalls, (all but the back two are empty), farming equipment parked, tools hanging on pegs, that kind of thing.
I keep two horses in the back two stalls, Galaxy, and Saturn. They complain a little about the interruption of their sleep but I just hold my finger to my lips and they quiet. I notice Galaxy nod at me as if he knows what to expect next and I smile.
“Yeah – it’s time for another one,” I say to him.
There is an electrical box mounted on the back wall with a switch labeled sprinklers. I throw it and wait for the sound of machinery whining from below. A few moments later Galaxy’s stall begins to rise and he stamps a hoof looking a bit startled.
“I thought you were expecting this!” I call up to him as he disappears to the second level, leaving a new and empty stall where the occupied one had been.
Back to the electrical box, I throw another switch that is there labeled Freezer. I feel a slight vibration from the floor as the generators below the barn spin up to speed.
I leave things how they are and walk out of the barn to meet the customer. The car is a plain black sedan, unremarkable in appearance. When it stops, the driver exits and moves to the passengers door and opens it.
I small figure emerges, dressed in what can best be described as a black cloak and what appears to be a black beekeepers hood. He isn’t very large either I notice, and estimate him (or her, it’s hard to tell) to be about the size of an adolescent. He is directed by the driver to move away from the vehicle. The driver doesn’t speak, he only points and nods.
“Good Morning Velix,” I say to the driver as he moves to the rear of the car and takes out a couple of travel bags.
Velix pauses to give me a smile and continues the bags towards the barn.
I walk to the customer who raises his arm at my approach and exposes a grey-green wristband.
“Right to business eh?” I ask.
“I’m not here visiting caretaker,” the figure says with irritation, “Now scan me so I can be on my way”
I didn’t expect a conversation really. Most of the customers are some kind of diplomat or another and tended to look at us “support personnel” as a lower class of person. I’ve had the pleasure, however, of some very interesting conversations with a few of the most pleasant travelers.
I retrieved my cell phone from my back pocket and brought it up to the wristband for only a moment. A record was displayed on the phone now with the word Validated displayed in green directly below it.
“It looks like you are cleared Targus,” I said with a smile.
Velix returned from the barn and was heading back to the car. As he passed behind Targus, Velix looked at me and back to Targus, then rolled his eyes. I smile.
“Well?” Targus asked irritably. “If I am cleared then get me to the portal.”
“Right away sir,” I said, still smiling. “
I motion to grumpy to move ahead of me and direct him towards the barn. Hearing the car backing, I turn and throw a wave to Velix, then follow Targus in.
“The elevator down is in the back,” I said.
“Goodness what a disgusting place, Targus complains.
“Your bags are right there.” I point to the back of the elevator where Velix had deposited the luggage.
With a turn of a hidden switch, the elevator descended, moving down about twenty feet. When it stopped I open the doors and we move into a room with about the same perimeter as the barn above us, only this place is as clean as a hospital. At the far end of the room was the portal. A large circular ring that leaned into the wall behind it at a forty-five-degree angle. A clear sheet of some kind of energy rippled there as if a rock was thrown into a crystal clear pond.
To the right of the portal was the control panel. It is a relatively simple thing, having a slot for my phone and a red activation button. I figure the engineers who designed these portals didn’t want to leave too much to chance.
Targus wasted no time, with a travel bag in each hand he stepped into the circle of the portal.
“Well, active the damn thing!” he shouted impatiently.
I don’t know what the hurry was or why he was so unpleasant but did my best to suppress my instinct to snark something back at him. I moved to the control panel and inserted the phone into the slot, waited for the display to indicate the portal was ready and pressed the activation button.
The portal ring began to spin, increasing speed by the second. The energy inside the ring that had looked as calm as a small pond now looked like a whirlpool.
Or a toilet flushing.
Targus was spinning at the same speed, becoming a blur. I know from experience he did not feel this, for him the trip was instant.
Just then the lights over the portal turned red, and an alarm sounded.
There is one truth that is constant among the innumerable intelligent species we share this universe with. Politics, war, and deception are not just human traits.
I do not know who this customer was or what he was sent to do, but it turns out he was not truly who he said he was and got caught in the lie.
While his documents checked out, the system detected some kind of an anomaly that triggered security. Unfortunately for Targus, or whoever it really was, instead of his expected destination he would be redirected to some random location in the universe.
This was usually fatal, considering that most universe consisted of empty space.
It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.