By Richard Fescue
When the Civil War reenactors arrived shortly after dawn, they were surprised to find the park's grassy meadow already occupied by other costumed individuals.
The strangers wore shimmering metallic unitards and bulbous helmets the color of candy apples, each crowned by a pair of quivering antennae. They were congregated around several picnic tables, drinking coffee and talking excitedly with one another, and only gradually did they become aware of the two dozen Union and Confederate soldiers staring at them from across the gravel parking lot. There was some whispering and a few worried glances, and then one of the strangers cautiously approached the reenactors and introduced himself.
“My name," he announced in a high-pitched whine, "is sub-commander Meklon. I and my fellow Xylenoids have traveled many light years from our home planet to participate in the preenactment of the Battle of Sector Zeta, which will take place at these precise coordinates in the year 2750, according to your Earth calendar.”
From a distance, the other Xylenoids nodded their heads ― heads painted purple and festooned with gold glitter.
"But today is the anniversary of the Battle of Possum Ridge," replied a man in a handsome blue Union frock coat. "And by God, we're here to reenact it."
Meklon frowned and readjusted his glasses, his antennae now bobbing with nervous energy. "Our most sincere apologies, noble humanoid,” he chirped. “Our orders from the Supreme Galactic Council are quite clear! You must find another location for your theatrical production."
This did not sit well at all with the reenactors, who began to curse Meklon and make light of his costume. Someone grabbed a beer bottle from a nearby trash can and threw it at the other Xylenoids, who began contemplating a strategic withdrawal. And then, much to their relief, the rest of the preenactors emerged from the restrooms.
"Impudent Earth slugs!" one of the insectoid creatures cried as he zipped up his fly. “You dare interfere with our plans? I am the mighty Zorgon Glorth, leader of the Voltarians!
"And by the moons of Pflaxos," Glorth exclaimed, beating his claw-laden arms against the thick rubber exoskeleton of his thorax, "I shall feast upon your craniums if you do not leave this place immediately!”
One of the reenactors took a piece of paper from his rucksack. "We have a permit," he said, handing it to the towering Voltarian. Glorth snatched the document from the man's hands and tore it to shreds with his mighty claws.
"Bah!" he snorted, to the delight of the other preenactors. "The parks and recreation department will not save you from enslavement in the dilithium mines of Quebulon Six!” For good measure, Glorth knocked the man's slouch hat to the ground and stomped it flat, eliciting lusty cheers from Voltarian and Xylenoid alike.
No one knew who fired the first shot, but it was the sharp and unmistakable report of an Enfield musket that suddenly echoed across the meadow. A great Rebel Yell arose from the ranks of the 65th Virginia Volunteers, and the men began to charge across the parking lot toward the preenactors, bugles tooting, canteens clanking wildly against ammunition belts. Soon they were joined by the rest of the Confederates, and as they rushed by the Union reenactors, their erstwhile enemies fell in behind them, pistols and sabers in hand.
Meklon and Glorth were knocked to the ground, where they were beaten by a handful of vengeful Confederates, led by the man whose hat had been ruined. Meanwhile, the rest of the preenactors hastily prepared for combat. The snarling Voltarians un-holstered their particle-inverter cannons and molecular-destabilizer rifles, while the Xylenoids ― those that had not locked themselves inside a nearby minivan ― wheeled their plasma catapult into position. And as the first wave of reenactors drew near, guns roaring, swords flashing in the early-morning sun, both sides knew that history was about to be rewritten.
(Richard Fescue is a professor at Cyprus City Community College and a frequent contributor to Electric Storytime.)
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
By Richard Fescue