A convoy of alien drones hovers over the small country town. They’ve either come out of casual curiosity or arrived with menace, but here they are in hayseed.

     He has no idea how he landed at this place at the outer-edge of civilization, where coyotes howl all night and bad-tempered men who can’t hold their drinks take on bar-fights. Under the humming neon sign at ‘ED’s’, dented pickup trucks, rusted Cherokee Chiefs and junkyard jalopies jam the parking lot. Big-ass dogs poke their muzzles through open windows snarling at late arrivals like coyotes gone crazy.

     The drones follow him wherever he goes, swarms of them like flies on a carcass. Sometimes they hover at the edges of his sight, oily black scrawls Etch-a-Sketching his retinas. He hears them buzzing through the silent air. The sound is like his own heart, relentlessly pumping blood through his carotid arteries and organs. He imagines a deadly alien cargo. He imagines they have come for his life.

     Skittering shadows over shotgun shacks and acid-washed cabins, it’s an extraterrestrial occupation, and about time too, before the townspeople kill one another out of sheer boredom. It must be an experiment (let’s scare the mice) to spook the terrestrial underclass, the hunter-gatherers on the ground floor, just simple folk really, but complicated by news cycles and poverty.

     South Dam Road is a dusty trail, a place for raucous fistfights and fucking, the ground covered with blood and condoms. He discovers it one night, a fair distance from his seedy motel room that smells of mold and disinfectant. The reservoir bluffs are just beyond, a knockout view of the hills.

     “There’s been another accident at that curve on the 54.” Red and blue flashes from County cherry tops bounce against the oaks and pines, a nasty backup of at least a half a mile. Cars done the tragic tango.

     Sharp-eyed grandmas and roving bandits report Unidentified Flying Objects. They’re like specks on the windshield seen from down here, mere floaters in the line of vision. From their perspective, he imagines the townies must look like insects and matter no more than crawling things ever do. He’s one of them now, a dung beetle rolling his own ball of shit up a hill.   

     Main Street is an artery for travelers heading to other places. Normally, there’s nothing to see here, just a shortcut between two highways. Today there’s a parade. Patriotic floats and a local marching band Host a trio of white-booted majorettes twirling like lipstick dervishes. A fat boy’s face buried in pink cotton candy is thinking of his mother’s soft breasts or the breasts of a princess. A rowdy pack of motorcyclists smolder at the edges, shouting profanities at the Orange Queen in her party dress. The merry torchlight cavalcade parties moves into the late side of night, setting fire to the orchards.

     Ashes are falling like gloomy snow. In the darkness, the buzzing hovercraft traces the sentinel streetlights and mark their halos for a return engagement. Alien eyes study the habits of parole-patrols Jonesing for cigarettes and fast food, throwing haymakers in the strip clubs and hamburger joints.

     Left behind, he watches all the action from the grimy motel window. Lights fill the sky as unsuspecting souls go about their business. He watches his companions retreat toward the backlit horizon, back-lots collapsing behind them. The neon ‘D’ in ‘ED’s flickers and then goes out.

     The headlines tomorrow: “Drones Buzz Parade. Panic on Main Street.”