"Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for coming out on this miserable wet morning to the final meeting this year of the Louisiana Defence Force," said Gretta Winchette, the aging widow of founding member Hank Winchette. She spoke at a podium on the stage at the front of Leonville Town Hall to the congregated members. She seemed pleased by the turn out of twelve, and had dismissed Trent's comment that they were only here for Gretta's famous fried breakfast and the hooch that he had brought.
The old girl cleared her throat. "Well, I'll keep things short and tell you all that there have been no incidences of concern reported to our office. Does anyone have anything to report or any announcements?"
'Crop circles....' A tall bearded man muttered from one the back seats of the very empty hall. Cigarette smoke billowed around his hunkered form. He slowly raised his head and looked around at who he knew were either wastrels or freeloaders with disdain. 'Another crop circle has appeared on Sawgrass Down.' He drew on the last of his cigarette and stubbed it out on the back of his heel as he stood up. 'That's the second circle in so many weeks'.
Trey's six foot 4 frame shuffled and manoeuvred around the mostly deserted chairs that had been placed out for the meeting. 'Not to mention the three reported last month'. He batted the cigarette ash off the arms of his leather jacket and rubbed his hand through his long beard.
Lighting another cigarette he finally made his way to stand by Gretta. 'I believe that they are messages. Messages created by some aerial reconnaissance craft to elements of a sleeper cell here in the State'. He stated in a gravelly voice. 'Who the sleeper cell is allied to, I don't know. Yet.'
His grey eyes narrowed in irritation by the silence that followed. 'Trent, help me out here please' he barked.
Suddenly, from the side of the room a voice sounded. A tall woman in a tan overcoat and scarf stood up to address the room. Her blond hair fell in a perfect imitation of Farrah Fawcet, her red lipstick seemed to glow in the artificial lighting. "I'm sorry, but you say these crop circles are happening at a more regular frequency? And that they are made by reconnaissance aircraft. I assume they are in the air. So, how do they make these crop circles from the air?" The woman, who me all recognised as Susie Taylor the Lafyette Gazette held her notepad and pencil at the ready.
Trent stood sheepishly, "Uh, sorry Miss Taylor but they ain't made in the air, that's how we've seen them. With photos of them." "Ah Trent, there you are" she smiled, like a predator would smile at it's prey. "I heard about your little... 'crash landing' the other day. Tell me, how is Tyler?" Tyler was a member of the local high school AV club, and the photographer hired by Trent to take photos of the crop circles as he did a fly by. Gretta interjected quickly on Trent's behalf. "He's just fine, missy. His momma said he'll be able to get back to band practice one his casts come off. Oh, and Trent dear? His momma also says if she catches you taking up Tyler in that contraption of yours again she's going to take her sledgehammer to it. And then to you!" Gretta sat down again.
Trent waited for the old lady to sit down before addressing the reporter again. "As soon as I c'n fix the landing gear on m'plane we'll get up and take some more photos. See if there's any pattern to these different markings. Maybe the commies are using them as markers.. or summit"
"Markers for what now?" she asked.
"Um... I guess maybe like, high value targets or some such" he mumbled.
Trent was tall, muscular and handsome, but still had trouble talking to women, and Susie was quite a woman. He felt a hot flush in his cheeks as he quickly sat down again.
The repairs to the plane weren't complicated, but would require a welding torch to secure the landing props back in place with enough strength to survive another rough landing.
He recalled how he came upon the plane.
It belonged to a retired US Navy pilot named Randy, who lived about 100 miles from Leonville near Lake Charles. Randy taught the pilots, and upon retiring the Navy presented him with the plane he had used to train the pilots; a Boeing-Stearman.
Randy supplimented his pension by modifying his plan to distribute pesticides, and dusted crops for local farmers. During his time in the Navy the plane was meticulously maintained, but post-retirement the maintenance schedule had become a little relaxed.
Trent responded to an advert in the Louisiana Tribune asking for a reliable, cheap mechanic to service the plane and none came cheaper than Trent! His payment turned out to be flying lessons given by Randy in lieu of actual wages, which was fine by Trent.
He would spend hours of a weekend tinkering, cleaning, fixing and flying that plane. When Randy's health declined he sold the plane to Trent for a measly sum of $300. Randy said he would rather the plane go to a good home than be sold at the list price.
By the time he took over ownership Trent knew every inch of the plane... all except for one warning light on the instrument cluster which constantly blinked on and off. The decals had long since worn away, and tracing the cables proved fruitless as they disappeared into a knotted mass of similar coloured cables.
"What's that light for?" Trent asked Randy one day.
"That" said Randy, "Is the old girls pulse. As long as that light is blinking she's alive, and will look after you. It's when it stops blinking you need to worry!"
From that day they both named the plane Blinky.
'One our other theories, or should I say ma theory is that some kind of flying object is markin' the ground with some sort of air jets or sumsutch'. He paused to take a pull in his cigarette ''an maybe that a satellite passing in orbit logs the points that are made for tactical purposes'.
Trey paused again for dramatic effect. 'We have mapped where all of these circles have occurred with a mind to try and 'triangilate' a pattern within a pattern. Once we have assessed this information we will deliver at findings to the public at large'.
'It could be preparations for a pre-emptive strike by enemies of the USA'.
"I see," Susie Taylor said with an overly exaggerated nod of her head. "So in your opinion, there is a very real threat here? Would you suggest that I ask my readers to be especially vigilant over this holiday period and report any such occurrences direct to you?"
DeanTrey mimics the reporters nod with his own. 'Yes Ma"am, yes. Yes I do'. He grins. 'Constant vigilance' he flips out a thumbs up to the audience.
"that's, er, well that's why we're going t'investigate!" Blurts Trent before his cheeks flush once more. "by car though, cos y'know.. the plane an' all". He sits again.
'S'right' Trey nods emphatically. 'Any other questions?' he asks.
Susie Taylor flicked her hair back over her shoulder and gave a slight shrug. "No, no more questions," she said then took her seat, scribling away in her notebook.
"Dang straight, let's eat!" croaked Hobson Hobbs, from the opposite corner to Taylor. Hobbs had straggly hair, thinning badly on top, and an equally unkempt beard. He was sitting alone, the other eleven people in the audiance having unconsiously chosen to avoid the local vagrant.
"Err, yes, well I s'pose we don't want it going cold n' all. So I guess dig in and a Happy New year everybody," Gretta waved her walking stick in the direction of the table where the large pot of broth and bottle of grog were placed.
Hobson was out of his seat before Gretta had finished talking.
A general hubub of folks talking amongst themselves ensued as they milled around or queued for either Gretta's broth or waited for her young granddaughter to bring them a plate of breakfast from the kitchenette where Gretta was frantically frying up!
As Trent and Trey stood to one side quietly observibg the throng Miss Taylor sidled up between th two. "So, you two loons really thing we've got commies sending messages back to the Motherland, huh?" she aksed quietly. "I know a lot of people will think you're mad conspiracy theorists. Folks like to feel safe in their beds and that means believeing that the Government would know about Commies and take them down. After all, how could some dumb hick southern boys know about this when the US Government doesn't? Rediculous, right? But..." she paused. "What is you boys are right? So I'll be keeping tabs on your investigation. If you find anyhting solid, come to me first. I'll make sure you get the credit and I'll get the scoop of the decade!"
She smiled pleasantly. "With that in mind, you may find page four of this interesting." She handed them a crumpled copy of an obviously poorly produced newspaper named 'Amongst Us!'. Anyway guys I gotta go. See ya round! She leaned in a kissed Trent on the cheek leaving a lipstick mark before sauntering out of the hall.
Trent blushed again, feeling the blood rush to his cheeks and 'other' regions! "uh, guess I'd better fuel up if we're heading out on a reccy" he said to Trey before remembering the paper and opening to page four.
IS HISTORY REPEATING?
By Brian C Glazewetter.
Crop circles! You just hold that in your mind while you read this!
Have you ever heard of Loup Ridge, Nebraska? Nope? Didn't think so. The whole place is deserted, like a ghost town. This little one-road town has lain empty since Christmas of 1963. There are signs on the two ways into the town warning of natural underground gasses leaking from the ground that are harmful to the humans.
Naturally, I ignored these signs and went in to take a look. Well, okay, I didn't completely ignore them, I wore my trusty old Hazmat suit.
What I saw in town, could well have been the result of a sudden eruption of flammable gas from nearby to a building not far from the centre of town – the town church of all things!
There is a crater and the church and neighbouring buildings show signs of flash burns and heavy scorching.
The skeletal remains of folks that were in the church are still sitting in the pews mostly, with some near the door like they was trying to escape, or perhaps seeking cover within the church. That proved to be a folly as the inside of the church has heavy scorching too.
My first impression was, man, these poor unfortunate souls.
Unfortunate, my ass!
As I first approached the town, which was made up of some thirty odd homes and stores and a workshop with an ancient gas pump outside, the blackened area of the crater had immediately caught my attention and I'd headed straight there.
But on walking away I passed homes where the remains of adults and children still lay in whatever spot they had fallen. These homes were untouched by the flames that had licked at the church. So whatever had killed these people here it wasn't fire.
At this point I thanked God I had my suit on! I wanted to know what gas could be leaking from the earth that could kill so quickly that the folks here in Loup Ridge didn't have a chance to react? I took soil samples and morbid as it was, some samples of the dead in the hope my friend over at the University of Kentucky might be able to shed some light on it.
Want to know what he found? All normal except for traces of one thing – Phosgene!
Phosgene was used extensively during World War One as a choking agent. Among the chemicals used in the war, phosgene was responsible for the large majority of deaths. It is not found naturally in the environment.
So what the hell was phosgene doing in the soil around Loup Ridge? Well, I know the answer to that too; The Russians.
Loup Ridge was a testing ground for a Communist chemical attack, probably a single gas bomb dropped by airplane.
How do I know? Go back to my first words! Crop circles, as we call them these days, were reported by numerous farmers over a period of about six months prior to the events at Loup Ridge. All of them at a radius of about a hunnerd miles of the small town.
It is my theory that these were markers for the damned commies to use to identify their target, each circle photographed by their spy satellites until they had their mark.
And now I hear tell of more of these down near the Louisiana and Texas border.
Is another attack imminent? I've sent this report with my evidence to the CIA. Will they listen? They Goddam ought to.
My advice if you live there or know anyone that does – wear your gas masks or get the hell out!