Crater: Part 6

“And at that point the holographic imager is supposed to kick in automatically.  It didn’t. I don’t know what to say.  This never happens.  Ever.  Luckily, we have redundancies built into our process that safeguard against any older residents learning about what’s going on.”  At that moment, a small light blinked on the white-haired man’s wrist.

“Oh, they’re here.  Would you like to meet your new prospective neighbors?

“Why not,” Joe laughed heartily.  “I always like meeting new people.”

At that point, there was a knock at the door.  Joanna opened it to two lovely looking young people, one in a suit and the other in a pink blouse and skirt.  They obviously had just walked over from the crater next door, for their shoes were covered in red, muddy dirt.  The young man was gushing.

“Your lot….is, like….fantastic.” he said.

“Don!  Dora!  Welcome to Terra-3!” Zorbitron said.  “I like to introduce you to the first couple to move into this neighborhood, Joe and Joanna.  They’re urban pioneers, you know.  People like them and that wonderful garden in the front lawn are what makes these classic neighborhoods feel more like home”

“Pleasure” Joanna said as she and her husband shook hands with the new arrivals.

“We are so excited” Dora in her pink dress replied.  “This place is wonderful.  I love what you did with the drapes”

“Ikea” Joanna said.  “Learn that name.  It will save your life when you’re first starting out.”

“I was telling Don that everything is so perfect here, we can’t stand it.” Dora continued.

“Can you believe there used to be a BBQ place and a Latin nightclub two streets over?’ Joanna exclaimed.  “Not anymore.  And having a yoga studio and and Starbucks virtually next-door now is soooo wonderful.  This is a perfect place to raise a family”

“By the way, now that we’re inside, would it be alright if we turned off our personal holo-disguises?” the young man said.  “My battery is running low and we left our charger at our apartment.

“By all means,” Joe said. “Make yourself at home.  We do.”  At this, Joe tapped a little dial on his watch and smiled as he melted into pixels.  He rematerialized into the exact same alien Kyle had seen on all those episode of The X-Files.  Except this time, Kyle knew this wasn’t a man in a rubber suit.  As everyone did the same, the room was filled with a floating, green-glowing, ghostly figure, another X-files figure (this with a slimy egg incubating on her stomach) and two creatures that looked like walking, purple tigers with the sharpest of claws.

“Of course, we had some questions.” the one with Don’s voice continued.  “Will this neighborhood continue to evolve and change to suit our needs and make us feel home as you claim?  How did you start moving outsiders in without the locals realizing?  How many other are already here?  Etc, etc.”

“Naturally.  We have plenty of time to discuss those things this afternoon.” Zorbitron answered in soothing tones.  “Our firm is always accommodating.  For example,  Crylothians are specific types of carnivores am I right?” At this point, the glowing ghost motioned to Kyle, squirming and gnashing on the dinner table as Joanna  places the two plates and forks and the large knife next to Kyle’s head.  Zorbitron smiled and continued talking:

“Let’s discuss your concerns over our firm’s complimentary meal, shall we?” he said as everyone confidently approached the dinner table.


Crater: Part 5

When Kyle woke up, he was tied up and gagged.

And naked on Joe and Joanna’s dining room table.

The doorbell rang.  Joanna ran and opened it and a gentle looking man with white hair and a bow tie smiled from the doorway.  He was carrying a small briefcase and looked at Kyle.  Wait, looked is the wrong word.


“Zorbitron, thank goodness.  I was beginning to think you’d never get here.”

When the white haired man spoke, it sounded like digital calm. “Well, you weren’t just next door.  This system isn’t necessarily next to the freeway, is it?”

Joe walked into the room and rushed out to shake the white-haired man’s hand.  “Zorbitron, are you a sight for sore eyes. We’ve been losing our minds here.  You’ll never believe the hassle we’ve had this afternoon.  If any other officer other than one of your clients came in response to my Kyle’s report, I don’t know what we would have done.”

“Please, Joe.  You know my firm never misses anything.  We wouldn’t even start showing lots in this area unless we first moved our clients into the local police department.  Causes too much trouble doing it any other way.  Not to change the subject but…is that…is that (at this point the white haired man began sniffing the air)…is that gluten-free peanut squares I smell?”

“You noticed!”  Joanna squealed.  “How did you get that right on the first try?”

“Well, just because I was born on a small, farm planet doesn’t mean I haven’t worked on developing a sophisticated palate.  Nothing engenders more unity and cross-cultural understanding than a good meal.  Oh, that reminds me.  The clients I have coming today are…sad to say…carnivores.  But they’re really nice people.  A wonderful couple.  The male is an accountant for one of those mega-successful aquifer corporations and the female makes quartz jewelry.  It’s radiant. She even took a bit of initiative and put some of her items on Pinterest.  Quite confident these two are in their chances of landing such a high-end, in-demand neighborhood as Terra-3.”

“Terra-3?” Joe queried. “Your realty firm doesn’t call it Earth?”

“We were going to use local identifiers at first, but our market research department felt calling it ‘Terra-3’ was much more upscale.  And they were right.  Ever since we changed the name on the listing, we’ve been getting a higher class of interested buyers looking into our properties” the white-haired man responded.

At this point, Joanna returned from the kitchen with two plates.  She place them on the table next to Kyle’s head.

“Oh thank you for that, by the way” Zorbitron said to Joanna.  “I was going to arrive earlier today and set up, but there was so much traffic getting through the Asteroid Belt today.  It was a nightmare. I don’t know what that was all about.”

Kyle started making loud noises underneath his gag.  The white-haired man just looked at him with glee.

“Oh shut up, silly.” Zorbitron smugly replied.  “We’re talking.  Nice save, by the way, Joe.  Crylothians are more picky than I remember, and this is actually a much preferable option than what I prepped for.  They’ll love it.  I guess I went to the market on the way here for nothing.  Oh well, dinner is waiting for me in the car for when I get home.”

“Zorbitron, what happened.  What went wrong?” Joe asked.

“Well, as far as I can tell, the holographic imager malfunctioned and our camera went down.  So we didn’t see….what was his name?”

“Kyle,” Joanna said, coming back out of the kitchen with a couple of forks and a very large knife.

“Kyle…yes.  We didn’t know that Kyle had left his house when we initiated the deatomizer ray.  Normally, it’s invisible and silent and everyone inside is killed instantly with no one the wiser….”

Kyle heard this and let out a whimper of despair.

Crater: Part 4

He awoke to find himself on Joseph’s couch, with his neighbors talking calmly to the same ginger-haired moron who obviously need glasses.

Kyle was still in a bad mood.

Upon, noticing Kyle was regaining consciousness, Joseph stopped whispering to the officer and walked over to him.  “Hey, buddy.  You had us scared there for a second.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but you obviously were without control of your senses there for a second.  You should be fine.” said the red-haired, Irish Stevie Wonder with a badge (who was incredulously sipping coffee that Joanna had made him.  Kyle knew the scent of fresh brewed fair-trade Hazelnut anywhere.)

“You’re neighbors have already filled me in on the details about your family, and we’re going to put an APB out for them and start searching immediately.  We did a through search of your home, looking in the garage, looking in all the rooms and closets.  Nice marble showers, by the way.  Did you do that yourself with the help of The Home Depot or did you call a contractor?  Sorry, question for another time.   As you know, the first 48 hours are critical in any missing persons search, so the quicker I get back to the station and file this report, the quicker we can begin this search.  You or your family don’t have any enemies, or relatives who might have some reason to kidnap them, do you?  You have a nice house, but I don’t think you’re the kind of person who would be the target of a ransom scenario.”

Kyle shook his head slowly; the pounding in his skull that hit him every time he moved was like a hammer on an anvil.

“You’re sure your wife and daughter wouldn’t have left the house for any reason and just haven’t come back yet?  It’s strange for you to report them missing after only a half an hour after you last saw them.”

“Oh God. You still don’t see-” Kyle began.

“Officer, I think he’s still upset.” Joanna interrupted. “I can vouch that I was here the whole time and I never saw Amanda leave the house with Katy at all.  If Kyle says they’re missing, he must be telling the truth.”

“Okay. I’ll put this report in as soon as I get to the station.  That’s all the questions I needed to ask you sir.  No charges will be filed against you for threatening an officer, I understand what you’re going through.”

“Thanks, officer.  We appreciate you coming out” Joe replied.  The door closed behind him as the worst cop on the planet walked back to his cruiser.    Once he was gone, Kyle sat up quickly.  The bulldozer in his brain made him sink back onto the couch cushions.

“Here” Joanna was extending a cup of Hazelnut in Kyle face and he took it, gingerly sipping the nutty brew.

“Joanna, you were here when I left,” Kyle slowly stammered.  “I need you to tell me everything you saw.”

“Kyle-” she began, slowly and with great caution, fearful that her next sentence would trigger another outburst from the neighbor they had gotten to know so well over the past two years. “I was watering the front garden and trimming my magnolias when I saw you leave.  I was spraying the chrysanthemums with organic pesticide when you came back.  I….I never saw anything.”

“But my house….what happened to my house?”

“You keep saying that buddy, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Joe answered.  “There’s nothing wrong with your house.”  He then opened up the curtain on the window facing Kyle’s home and pointed.  “Look, it’s still there…wait…are you talking about the chip in the mortar on the corner” Joe continued, pointing at thin air. “Yeah, I meant to come clean about that.  I was mowing the lawn and I think a nickel fell out of my pocket and it was flung towards your northern wall.  It’s not that bad (I think you can fill that in), but I know how picky you are about not ticking off the new homeowner’s association.  And yeah, these new deed restrictions can be kind of harsh, but-”

“Joe….what are you talking about.  What are you even pointing at?  Don’t you see that giant hole?” Kyle gasped.

“Kyle, there is no giant hole!  You’re house is still there!” Joanna exclaimed.

Kyle sat on the edge of the couch, his hand holding the fair-trade Hazelnut slowly trembling after his third sip of it.  “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!…….Oh God!  Help me, I’m losing my mind.  I should be out there searching for Mandy and Katy.  I should be at my house looking for clues.  How did something make a crater and leave no evidence? If it was a meteor, there would be an asteroid in that hole.  Why is there a hole and no reason for it to be there?  And why did you put ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER IN THIS COFFEE?  YOU NEVER HEARD OF STEVIA?!”

“Hey!” Joe shouted, alarmed at friend shouting at his wife. “Chill out!  We haven’t gone to Costco yet!  Joanna’s been here the whole time and she saw everything.  NOTHING HAPPENED…nothing happened to your house. It’s still there, man.”

At that moment, Joanna began whispering into Joe’s ear while stroking her pregnant stomach.  Joe nodded, then she whispered something else.

This time he shook his and said “No, it fine.  I’m not gonna kick a guy who just lost his wife and kid out of the house.  He’s fine, just a little shaken up that’s all.  Kyle, I don’t know what’s going on with you right now, but you need to relax and take a moment to process everything that’s happening.  The police are looking for Mandy and Katy right now.  I’m sure it’s just a case of them leaving out the back to go somewhere.  They still could show up.  Right now, why don’t you take a rest.  You’re welcome to nap on the couch.  Heck, you can spend the night if you don’t feel up to returning home.  Just….just know we’re here for you and we love you.  It’s all gonna be okay.  Trust me.  We’ll find Mandy and Katy.”

“I gotta go. I can’t stay here. I gotta figure….figure out…what’s happening…to…what happening to me?”   All of a sudden, Kyle felt extremely drowsy.  He dropping his fair-trade Hazelnut and sank into the cushions of Joe’s couch and into blackness.

Crater: Part 3

“Did you see what happened, Joe?!” Kyle asked them, gasping in fear.

“Officer, I’m sorry,” Joseph said.  “My friend here is a good, hard working person.  He’s never had any issue with the law before, I can vouch for him.”

“It’s okay,” the officer said, taking his hand off his head and picking up his pad and pen from his other hand.

“It’s not okay, my house is gone and you’re blind if you can’t see it! Joe, you see that, right!?” Kyle continued, pointing to the hole.

“Kyle, let’s first worry and Amanda and Katy, OK?” Joanna replied reassuringly.  “Officer, I don’t think it would be a good idea for Kyle to go inside his house right now.  He’s obviously distraught, so you’re welcome to continue this interview in our home if you’d like.

“No problem.” the policeman said.

“THERE IS A PROBLEM!  MY HOUSE IS GONE!!  What is wrong with everyone?!”  Kyle voice was getting higher and higher.  The frenzy his mind had been in was growing into terrified hostility.  It was one thing for his family to be missing; it was another for everyone to think he was crazy.


It was at that moment Kyle felt 1200 volts course through his chest as the policeman he called to help him find his family tased him for so long Kyle passed out.

Crater: Part 2

“Age?” the police officer asked Kyle.


“And your daughter?


He was sitting on the hood of his car, one hand on his smartphone looking for numbers of friends and the other on his forehead in despair.  The officer looked at him and said “When did your wife and daughter go missing?”

“Well look at it..”Kyle pointed to the crater in front of them.   “They were inside when I left.  They’re weren’t waiting for me when I came back, so I assumed whatever happened to the house must have happened to them, too.”

“What do you mean sir?” the officer said.

“Well, just look!”  Kyle exclaimed, pointing to where his two-story home had been.

“I don’t understand.  You called to file a missing person’s report.  You didn’t say anything about a burglary or vandalism.”

In Kyle’s panic, he called the police to report his family missing, but he now remembered that he never mentioned the smoking crater where his house once stood.  It never occurred to him that an officer arriving at the scene wouldn’t figure out why he made the call in the first place.

“What else do you think I was calling about?  Look at it!”

The red-haired policeman with a slight pudge looked at the hole in the ground and looked back at Kyle.  He walked over to the edge of the hole and came back.  “Did you see anything on the door that led you to believe that someone broke in? Was there anything missing?

Kyle look at this dumb, idiot ginger for thirty whole seconds.  “Are you joking? You’re joking.  Look at what happened to my house!”

“Okay, calm down sir.  I understand you’re under a lot of stress and you’re having some difficulty.  Maybe if we went inside and sat down in your living room we could figure out what’s going on and what happened to your family,” the officer replied.

Kyle could only grasp his hair and cry out in anguish.  “My house is gone!  Can’t you see that!  There’s nothing there!  What’s wrong with you!”

This made the officer back away and put his hand on the taser hanging on his hip in apprehension.  Kyle’s screaming had attracted the attention of the neighbors and people came out of their houses to see what was causing the commotion.  His immediate neighbors to his left, the Nybors (Joseph and Joanna), looked at Kyle with deep concern.  Joanna was clutching her pregnant belly with fear.  They whispered something to each other and walked towards the policeman and Kyle.

Crater: Part 1

I didn’t ask for lentils on my salad, Kyle thought to himself as he turned the corner onto the street he lived on.  Obviously, the person behind the register at the vegetarian co-op he bought diner for his family from had heard his order wrong.  Naturally, everyone else’s orders were correct.  His wife’s quinoa salad only had raisins and tomatoes and nothing else, and his daughter’s tofu nuggets and fried yuca were all there.  Only he had been screwed.

As he slowly drove towards his house at the end of the block, he wished he had opted for Chipotle  instead.  He suddenly craved Mexican food.  Thankfully, a Chipotle franchise has just opened up in his neighborhood, the lot becoming available when the older taqueria that used to occupy that lot closed down due to not being able to afford the rent anymore.  Kyle wished he could have eaten a big burrito with bean sprouts and carrots and brown rice at that moment.  He just have to take the lentils off his salad when he got home he thought as he began to pull into the driveway.  Except the driveway was now gone.

So was his house.  Instead, he saw a giant, smoking crater.

Kyle got out of his SUV and stared at the giant hole where his house once stood for five full minutes.  It was as if the image was slowly soaking into his brain like spilled water into a sponge and even then he still couldn’t believe it.  Then his mind snapped back into place and he fell to his knees…

His wife and daughter were inside when he left for food.

Blooks, blories, and blarticles!