Mock Bug’s Escape: The Incident of the Alien Child
Apr 10, 2009
It was the resounding thump of an alien child falling from the sky that woke Farmer Welton from his lazy slumber. He had wandered out of his farmhouse around noon, carrying a jug of his special home brewed root beer and some Oreos. Sitting there in the backyard, at an old beechwood table, he had gorged himself until he had finally fallen asleep. Did he dream? We’ll never know, but we do know that he drooled.
When the sound of the loud thump reached deep into the cobwebs of his brain, he grunted and snorted and sat upright so quickly that he fell off his chair. Glaring and growling, he stood, wiping the spittle from his beard. He didn’t see anything unusual at first, but after rubbing his eyes a bit, he saw that the source of the thump was a small skinny child curled up under his clothesline.
Farmer Welton was not ordinarily a curious man. In fact, many of his neighbors had often wondered if he had much of a brain at all, although they did allow that he knew how to plant a row of corn. On this particular afternoon, he found himself impelled to lean over and nudge the child with the toe of his boot.
“Hey! You!” he asked. “What are you doin’ in my yard?”
The child didn’t move. In fact, as Farmer Welton leaned over him, he couldn’t quite tell if the child was even breathing. The child was a very pale boy, with extraordinary green hair that was sticking straight up from his head. Welton nudged him again, and put his ear on the boy’s chest to listen for a heartbeat. He had seen that done on one of those police shows, and felt a twinge of pride that he had remembered such a thing. He couldn’t hear a heartbeat, so he stood up and put his hands on his hips and spat. Much to his surprise, the child immediately sat up.
“Eeeeuuuu!” said the boy. “What is that awful smell!”
Welton jumped back slightly. “What smell?” he asked.
The boy stood up and brushed himself off. His face was more than pale, it was a solid white, like the side of Farmer Welton’s chicken coop before the chickens had done a job on the paint. He had a large blue circle on his forehead, and earrings dangling from his ears. One ear was blue and the other was red. All in all, he presented such a bizarre appearance that Farmer Welton didn’t know what to say. Opening and closing his mouth a few times, he let out a nervous hiss, and said the only thing he could think of.
“Are you from New York City?”
The boy glared at Welton with the utter scorn that some children are masters of, and said, “I am not! My name is Mock Bug, and I am from the planet Nocks in the Chukbok system.”
“Oh.” It wasn’t much of an answer, but Welton really couldn’t think of much else. He stared at the boy and Mock Bug stared back, until a dog barked down by the barn. The sound made the boy jump and run behind a bush.
“You’ve got to save me! He’s after me!” he wailed.
Farmer Welton shook his head. “That’s just old Rat, my dog. He won’t hurt you.”
“No, not him!” Mock Bug put his arms over his head. “Ik Monk is after me. He’s mean and nasty and horrible! He’s been chasing me for days and days!”
Farmer Welton wrinkled his brow and tried to understand. The weird names were giving him indigestion. Rubbing his stomach, he did what any man in his position would do. He strode manfully over to the table and picked up the jug and took a very large swig. He knew he had done the right thing, because he felt better right away. Holding out the package of Oreos, he asked, “You want some?”
Mock Bug peered out from under his arms and nodded. Without so much as a by your leave, there was a faint pop in the air, and the boy was standing right in front of Welton. The farmer jumped slightly and took another swig from his jug.
“How the heck did you do that?” he asked.
“Do what?” Mock Bug asked, reaching for a cookie.
“That!” Welton said. “That moving over here without walking thing.”
Mock Bug didn’t answer for a moment, as he was busy shoving Oreos into his mouth. “That’s how we move around on our planet. Don’t you do that too?”
“No!” said Welton. “We walk with our legs, the way the Good Lord made us.”
Mock Bug reached for the jug, but Farmer Welton held it away from him. “That’s not for you, my boy.”
With a pop and a pop and a pop, Mock Bug was in the tree, and then on top of the shed, and then in front of the farmer again, who rubbed his eyes and took another swig from his jug.
Mock Bug stamped his foot angrily. “Are you going to help protect me or not!”
Farmer Welton sat down and thought for a moment. “Seems like you don’t need much help with all your popping here and popping there.”
The boy looked around fearfully. “Ik Monk is much faster than me. He’s chased me all over your world. I got away from him at Disney World. I’m trying to get to the Air and Space Museum, but he’s coming, I can feel it!”
Welton rubbed his chin reflectively. “I don’t rightly know what I can do. You think he’ll come here?”
Mock Bug started to answer but stopped when he heard barking. It was the farmer’s dog, Rat, barking furiously, straining against his leash by the edge of the barn. Farmer Welton and the boy stood up and stared at the dog. “What’s got into that dog,” Welton muttered.
“Look!” shrieked Mock Bug. “It’s him!”
Farmer Welton stared where the boy was pointing. Sure enough, there was a dark clothed man coming toward them across the field. The man didn’t seem to be walking as much as appearing, from spot to spot, getting closer and closer. Mock Bug ran to the farmer’s side, and clutched his hand and hid behind him.
“It is Ik Monk! Please don’t let him get me! Please!”
Welton looked back toward the house. “I think I should get my gun.”
Before he could take a step, however, the stranger was in the yard, striding toward Mock Bug.
“Mock Bug!” he shouted. “Stay where you are!” The man leveled a bright red stick at Mock Bug, and a loud humming was heard. Mock Bug suddenly sat down in a heap and started to sob.
Farmer Welton hitched up his trousers and stepped forward pugnaciously. “Now, see here, Mister. I’m not going to let you hurt this boy!”
The man stared at Welton. He was dressed entirely in black, and had jet-black hair that stuck up like a porcupine. His face was white, and he had three bright green stripes on his forehead. His chin was colored blue, and he had round dots across his upper lip where his mustache might have been. He looked young, which puzzled the farmer. Welton was sure he must be a city feller, because his voice and accent were most peculiar. He spoke in a staccato, awkward fashion, but with a singsong whine. He suddenly let out a long, rather maniacal laugh.
“Ha ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha hahhhhh!!!! Hurt Mock Bug! Ha! He must come with me now. Mock Bug, come now!”
With that, he held out his long red stick and pointed it at the boy, who cowered behind the farmer. Welton stood forward with his chest out and shoulders back and said, “Over my dead body!”
Ik Monk sneered at the farmer, and said, “That can be arranged. Nothing will prevent me from taking Mock Bug back with me.” He straightened up and swept his hand toward the sky in a grand, expressive gesture. “I will die, if I have to, to bring Mock Bug back to the people of Nocks.”
Mock Bug whimpered and clutched the farmer’s leg. “I’m not going back! I’m not!”
Ik Monk scowled at Mock Bug. Farmer Welton scowled at Ik Monk. Mock Bug cried. It appeared that they were in a stand off. The dog barked, but no one moved.
In this scene of tension and tribulation, Farmer Welton wondered what would happen next. His gun was far out of reach. He considered tackling Ik Monk, but he wasn’t sure what that contraption of a red stick would do. He yearned for another sip from his jug, or even an Oreo, but he was afraid to move and break the spell.
Just as Farmer Welton’s legs started to tremble from the stress, he heard a long siren like sound. There was a flash of light and a loud bang, and there in the middle of his back yard stood a female alien. She was dressed in a strange boxlike garment with her head coming out of the top. He assumed she was female, because of her face, because her body was completely hidden by her garment. Her hair was piled high on her head, with twigs and branches and sparkly things stuck in her hair. Her face was as white as the others, and she had large blue circles around her eyes and mouth. On the tip of her nose, she had a bright red spot. Both ears were bright green. Farmer Welton forgot all about Ik Monk for a moment as he gazed in astonishment at this most unusual lady. The woman ignored him, and pointed her finger at Ik Monk.
“Ik Monk!” she said. “I am very disappointed in you.”
“My queen!” he replied. “Forgive me!” With that, Ik Monk knelt on the ground and proceeded to bang his head against the ground over and over again.
“Queen?” Farmer Welton felt very confused. He wasn’t sure if he liked the sound of her voice. She spoke in a high, shrill whine that was extremely irritating.
Ik Monk turned his head briefly toward the farmer and hissed, “It is Queen Smirk Bug! You must bow down to her now, or she will be very, very angry.”
“Awww, phooey,” answered Farmer Welton. “I ain’t bowin’ down to nobody, queen or no queen. I’m an American. And what is it with these weirdo names, anyway? What kind of planet do you guys come from?”
Queen Smirk Bug let out a pop and suddenly stood nose to nose with Farmer Welton. She was rather imposing, although she looked far too young to be a queen. He stared back her, as bravely as he could.
“Our names mean different things in our language,” she said. “Your language is far stranger than ours. Smirk means ‘Most High and Beautiful Exalted One’. Bug is our family name, and means ‘The Most Intelligent and Capable Leaders in the Universe’. Do you have any other questions, silly man?”
Farmer Welton gulped, but forged ahead. “Well, how come you look so young, and that guy Ik Monk, or whatever he’s called, looks so young? You look like teenagers. That’s kinda weird, ain’t it?”
The Queen suddenly smiled and let out a pealing laugh, and popped all over the yard. Hanging upside down from the clothesline bar, she laughed and said, “Young! He has called me young! Oh joy! We must record it for all on our planet to hear!” She let out a laugh and a pop, and was suddenly back in front of the farmer.
“I am seven hundred years old, my good man. Compared to most of my subjects, I look old indeed. Take Ik Monk there. He is at least three hundred. I must thank you for such a compliment.” She let out another raucous laugh. “And we don’t even use plastic surgeons as you do on this planet! Oh, joy, oh joy!”
Farmer Welton was very confused. He walked over to the table, and took a long slug from his jug, until it was empty. Frustrated, he threw the jug away. Turning to Mock Bug, who was sitting in a heap on the ground, he said, “And him? How old is he?”
The Queen held out her hand to Mock Bug, who cowered and shrank away. With a sigh, she said, “My son is going to be forty-five in three days. That’s why we have come for him, to bring him back to Nocks for his coronation and his birthday.”
“I won’t go!! I won’t!” howled Mock Bug.
The Queen frowned and pointed her finger at Ik Monk, who banged his head on the ground again. “Ik Monk! If you hadn’t let him get away from you in Disney Land, I wouldn’t have had to interrupt my sunbathing back on Nocks! My left shoulder was almost tan! I only let you bring him to Earth for a vacation because you said you could take care of him!”
Ik Monk started to cry, and crawled forward and grasped the hem of the Queen’s dress. “I’m so sorry, My Queen! You may take away all my privileges! You can lock me up! You can beat me with the husks of rotten wuuppuu plants! I’m sorry!”
“Oh, get up,” the Queen muttered. Ik Monk snuffled and stood up, hanging his head. The Queen turned to Mock Bug. “My child, you must come back with us now. The whole planet is gathering for your birthday, and your father has prepared a very special gift for you.”
Mock Bug reluctantly stood up, and said “What kind of gift, Mumu? A Nockanese flying car? A blue one, maybe?”
The Queen winked at Farmer Welton. “I won’t say blue, but it looked like it might fly.”
Farmer Welton felt very bewildered indeed, but somehow managed to smile at the Queen as she gathered Mock Bug to her side, and took the hand of the repentant Ik Monk in hers. She winked once again at the farmer, and said, “Of course, my dear sir, no one on Earth will believe a word of it, if you try to tell people about our visit today. I would recommend that you keep it to yourself.”
The farmer nodded, and watched as the three of them raised their hands toward the sky. With a loud pop and a whistle, they were gone. Rat the dog barked once, as if to say good-bye.
Farmer Welton walked slowly to his old beechwood table and sat down heavily. His jug was empty, and the Oreos were eaten. He thought it must have been a dream, perhaps brought on by too much drinking of his home brewed root beer.
“Maybe I should drink milk instead, like my mama told me to,” he muttered. “I’m goin’ nuts.” He stood up and turned to walk into his house. Something on the ground glinted at him in the sunlight. With a grunt, he bent over, and picked up the object. It was one of Mock Bug’s earrings. Holding the earring in his hand, he turned it over and over. With a loud laugh, he clutched it in his hand and raised his fist to the sky and shouted, “I saw you, Mock Bug! I really did! I’m not crazy!”
Then the farmer did something that would have convinced his neighbors that he was crazy after all, if they had seen him. He danced in his yard, round and round, in a clumsy jig, all the while shouting, “Happy Birthday, Mock Bug! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday Mock Bug!”
Mock Bug, who was half way to Nocks, turned to his mother the Queen and said, “Can you hear the funny man, Mumu?”
“Yes, my sweet,” the Queen replied. “You can visit him again next year if you like. Go to sleep now, there’s a good boy.”
With a smile and a sigh, Mock Bug curled up on the sofa of the Royal Spacecraft, and dreamed of blue Nockanese flying cars and a dancing farmer far below.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to one of his favorite mottos: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”