Chaos in Corollary
By A.M. Stickel, Editor
“Oh, what tangled webs we
…Never believe anyone who says
alien probes don’t hurt like hell. They’re lying through whatever teeth the
aliens haven’t harvested. Abduction is no picnic… [Excerpt, Mercia’s diary]
The final day at
Camp Corollary had not been easy for Tent Counselor Miss Emmy. Finding out that
one of the 11-year-olds in her tent was pregnant was a bad beginning. Being the
‘adult’ figure responsible for said mini-mama, she was looking for clues in the
camper’s diary, stuffed in the usual place: under her hammock blankets. The diarist,
Mercia, was with the nurse, who was busy dealing with a crisis of her own.
Emmy knew that invading
a camper’s personal space was a big no-no—a betrayal of the unspoken trust
between a counselor and ‘her girls’ strictly forbidden by the official Camp
Handbook, not to mention being politically incorrect. But her foremost thought
was: What am I going to tell the mother
when she comes for the Closing Ceremonies and Awards Campfire?
Her reading light
via the tent-house entryway was interrupted. Startled, Emmy looked up, right
into the afternoon sun. My girls should
be across the lake exploring nature with Activity Director Judy. Are they back
“I hope you’ve
darn good explanation for what you’re doing, Counselor!” snarled the Head
Counselor, who’d been on her way to a nice nap in her own tent-house in Haunted
Hollow (so named to keep campers away).
Uh-oh! Miss ‘Stormy’ Gale’s dressings
down were legendary, combining morbid menace with cold, cutting courtesy. Miss
Emmy still remembered how, her second day on the job, Stormy had sniffed at
Emmy’s uniform and stage-whispered, “Go change—handbook rules of hygiene,” in
front of her girls at their assigned cafeteria table.
“According to her
diary, Mercia is p.g.,” confessed Emmy in a quavering voice. The thought of facing
up to Stormy’s glare made her feel faint. “How could I know Mercia’s stomach
aches weren’t the usual ‘homesickness syndrome’ covered in our handbook?”
you—to me—now!” Stormy’s hands moved
from her hips to in-your-face as she sprang from threshold to hammock. “This is
an all-female facility, including Security—and
their dogs—nothing male within a hundred-mile radius. These girls are celibate,
science-loving geeks, veritable clones of their mothers.”
“Well, Miss Gale,
diary says she was abducted and probed by aliens. Maybe they did more than just
probe.” Emmy passed Stormy the evidence, but with gaze averted in deferential
“And I bet she
wrote about Bigfeet leaping the fence, right past Security, and chasing
exactly have eyes in the sky since the Camp Sponsors nixed drone surveillance
in favor of organic food in the cafeteria.” Emmy finally dared a peek to gauge
her superior’s reaction.
to budget info,” Stormy’s eyes narrowed. Booted toes tapped.
“It’s on the
“But not in the
Public Domain. And why would you need
to know, anyway?”
hacker…and I had to be sure of my honorarium before I applied. We’re saving up
for school…and a nice honeymoon.”
Stormy’s voice registered her disgust. “Next, you’ll be telling me you’re
waiting till you’re married to—”
“Oh, we are, we
are.” Emmy winced, more from the truth than if she’d lied.
information overload, when what I do
need to know is exactly how a scrawny little kid like that—”
“Although the test
was positive, the child’s intact, at least according to Nurse Becky,” offered
Emmy. “Maybe the alien impregnation is her vivid imagination making up for
being so undersized for her age.”
“Thank Gawd I’m not in the medical profession,”
I do! Emmy’s silent prayer was
interrupted by the sounds of running feet. One of her girls, Rosalie, came
flying into the tent and caromed off of the Head Counselor (muddying Stormy’s
collared Rosalie in a very non-P.C. manner, and barked, “NO RUNNING!”
choked out the mud-covered girl, eyes stark in her tear-streaked face.
“Which is no
excuse for your filthy state,” finished Stormy.
Rosalie, ignoring the mud, made room for her in the hammock, and quietly asked,
“What’s wrong, Rosy?”
“Our moms have
been turned into zombies! After the buses pulled up and unloaded, the moms knocked
down the fence and went into the woods after any dogs and guards that couldn’t make
it to the infirmary or cafeteria. The guards locked us girls out. They and the
cooks screamed and waved guns and cleavers at us, and closed up the cafeteria
too. If only we hadn’t lied to get out of going with Miss Judy this morning!
“We jumped into
the lake and covered ourselves with mud, so our moms couldn’t detect us. Then Bella
remembered the part about emergencies in the Handbook and volunteered me to
come warn the off-duty counselors…thanks to that stupid Speed Medal I won last
rubbed her chin, deep in thought, and then said, “If this isn’t a practical
joke of some kind, which I’m 99% sure it is, then it stands to reason that
zombies crave the best quality brains, first and foremost. Why would they
settle for dog brains, or even guards’ and cooks’ brains, and not head straight
for me and the other counselors? Listen,
both of you, I bet there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for what you think
you saw...or read. Corollary is,
after all, dedicated to scientific truths. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to
change. Wait for me here.”
“DON’T GO OUT
THERE!” screamed Emmy and Rosalie in unison.
In the next
instant, the screams died in their throats as their eyes bulged in shocked
astonishment. Although night had not yet fallen, from behind dark clouds, a
silvery full moon was visible. Before it rose a terrible figure vaguely
resembling Stormy Gale. She had removed the pendant that kept her from changing
into a werebeastess—hairy, with razor-sharp talons, dripping fangs, and a
deadly stench. The monster fixed her glowing green gaze on them briefly,
turned, and loped off downhill (and, to their relief, downwind).
The silvery moon was
actually a flying saucer! It began raining deadly rays on shuffling zombies as
they tried to climb the hill. The rays also set several of the tent-houses ablaze.
But Stormy Gale was too fast for the alien rays. Bypassing the zombies, she
shattered the barricades blocking the entries to the cafeteria and infirmary,
and, after tossing aside the guard dogs, shredded those traitorous guards and
cooks into beasty-bite size.
werebeastess was too late to save Mercia, who, centered in a beam of light,
floated up into the saucer’s belly hatch. The beam then traveled to the
tent-house where Emmy and Rosalie huddled together, frozen in fear. They felt a
powerful tug on their bodies, and, just as their feet left the floor…
woke up on the floor. What a terrible
nightmare! I’m never counseling
at another science fiction camp again. The napper felt herself all over for
reassurance that she hadn’t been injured in the fall. Everything checked out:
nothing broken—all eight limbs in perfect working condition. Time to get back
to weaving my stories.
Maybe I’ll feature those hideous 4-limbed aliens in the next one.
Except…she felt something
warm trickle down her neck. It wasn’t a mosquito bite because it didn’t itch,
and her hand came away ichorous. Oh no!