excerpt from THE NOBLE EXPERIMENT
Jungle Statue (c) 2009 Jason Zampol
I KNOW I’M IN FOR A WHOPPER when Grandpa Avram taps the ashes from his pipe onto the fence rail.
“Sure, I know of that place,” he says as he reaches into his back pocket where he keeps his tobacco pouch. “My best friend in life, Douglas Noble’s family used to live there. But listen to me young Gil.” He pauses to raise an eyebrow. It looks like a fuzzy brown caterpillar crossing his forehead. “I’d stay clear of that place if I was you.”
When he fills the pipe bowl, the rich dark aroma of blended tobacco seeps into the sun-drenched August air where it mingles with the clean tang of cut grass. From the nearby motionless maple heads, cicadas sing. Their song mimics the distant drone of a neighbor’s lawnmower.
I glance back at the gate where I’ve left Blue Thunder lying on his side. His back wheel counts the seconds since I’ve abandoned him. I nibble. “Why not?”
Using a thumb, Grandpa Avram expertly packs the fragrant mixture. Then, taking a match from his breast pocket, he points its red eye at me and says, “You best not let your grandma hear you even know the Noble Place exists.” He shakes his head, the pipe clenched between his teeth. “No, she wouldn’t like that one bit.”
I take a bigger bite. I’m not yet hooked, but I may as well be flopping around in the boat bottom. “For Pete’s sake, Gramps!” I say. “Why not? What happened there? Did somebody get killed?”
A second caterpillar joins the first. “Something worse.”
What is worse than being killed? Kissing a girl? My stomach flutters from disgust and something else. I ask him what’s worse.
“Well,” he says, lighting the match with a thumbnail. “There’s killing and then there’s murder.”
Read the rest of this story in ResAliens #5. Available at Lulu: paperback edition; Ebook edition