By Emmylou Hawthorne
Deep in the remote wastelands of Nevada, a lone Buick Skylark appears on the horizon, speeding through the swirling dust and desert scrub and smashing through the main gates of the top-secret army base. A siren wails, and a dozen MPs scramble into their jeeps and give chase. The crackle of automatic gunfire erupts from the nearest guard tower, scoring holes along the flank of the speeding sedan and shredding two of its tires. Still it manages to screech along on its rims, bathing the asphalt in a shower of sparks.
Through his binoculars, the base commander watches with dread as the Skylark approaches Building 41, the hulking airplane hanger that contains the military's greatest secret, something not even the president knows about: an alien time machine! Never mind how the information was leaked, the commander says to himself. The only thing that matters now is stopping the occupants of that vehicle before they reach the time machine ― and quite possibly and irrevocably change the course of history.
The car somehow manages to evade the withering fusillade of bullets and grenades, and it parks in the handicapped space outside Building 41. Four elderly women pile out of the Skylark and race inside the building, and now the commander's worst nightmare begins to take shape. The time machine roars to life, shaking the ground like a small earthquake. There is a burst of preternatural green light and then, silence.
The commander rushes down to Building 41 and finds only an empty platform where the time machine had stood moments earlier. No sooner does he start contemplating the bottle of bourbon tucked in his coat pocket, however, when the ground suddenly starts to tremble again, knocking him and his men off their feet. Then the building explodes in a blinding emerald glow, and the time machine reappears on the platform, a thick rime of frost covering its silver exterior. The hatch opens with a pneumatic hiss, and the four mysterious seniors step out, each pushing a heavily laden shopping cart.
The commander scrambles to his feet and levels his revolver at the women, demanding to know who they are and what they did on their journey through time.
"Well," says Gladys, with a twinkle in her eye, "we've just come from the supermarket, where we were able to use all our expired coupons!" Then Myrtle asks the commander if they might use the time machine once more that afternoon, seeing as how their little adventure had made them miss "Wheel of Fortune."
(Reno-area author and homemaker Emmylou Hawthorne was inspired to write this tale after a Mr. Clean-induced vision quest.)
Monday, February 19, 2007
By Emmylou Hawthorne