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The Gardener



Well, it's not a fairy tale, but it popped into my head almost fully formed. I woke up on Tuesday morning, telling myself the story. I hope you enjoy it.

The Gardener

There's something that watches me from the woods behind my house. I've peered into the dark shadows between the trees, but of course, I've never caught a glimpse of it. I can feel that it's there, though; not threatening, at all, just watching.

I'm out back tending my garden a lot, these days, since I retired. I like being outdoors, even when it's raining. It's quiet and peaceful. If you let yourself, you can hear things growing; you can feel the Earth move in her sleep.

Since I'm out there every day, there really isn't much that needs doing. I'll walk back and forth down the furrows, pulling out a blade of grass that I missed yesterday, or a tiny new tree that has sprouted overnight. I don't move that quickly, any more, and besides, there's nowhere special to go.

I've got a bunch of stuff planted in there, now. Just waiting for something to sprout. I search the dirt every day for any sign, but it's too soon, really. I should try to relax a little more, I guess. Gives me something to look forward to, though.

This morning, a young man came to my front door. I heard him knocking from out back, so I came around the side of the house. He was standing on my stoop in a plain dark suit and sunglasses. I could've told he was from the Bureau a mile away, even if I hadn't worked for them more than thirty years. I wondered for a second if I had looked the same, at his age. They like "same"; they're very good at it. Sorta limiting, though; discourages independent thought.

"Mister ...?", and he read my name out of the little notebook in his hand.

"That's me. What can I do you for?"

"Um, I'm Special Agent Carlson, FBI," he said, flipping an I.D. wallet at me. "Would you mind if we talk inside?" he asked, as if national security were at stake.

"Nope, 'spose not," as I opened the front door. I rarely locked it; that's what I liked about that neighborhood. "Want some coffee? There's still some in the pot from breakfast."

"Well, um, okay, thank you." For an agent, he sure was tentative. Maybe he was still too young to have developed the usual attitude, which was that the world owed them answers.

I figured I'd save him some "ums". "So, what is it that brings you here, Agent Carlson?"

He still wasn't sure. "Well, sir, it's like this ..." He finally let the words go, and launched into it. "We've had reports of some UFO sightings in the area, and as you know, it's our job to investigate. Have you seen anything unusual, by any chance?"

The poor kid; they sure had given him a scut job. Every person he had to interview would either look at him like he was a psycho, or be one themselves. It wasn't hard for me to be different.

"Nah, not really; nothing you'd call unusual." I realized that I had almost slipped: he hadn't told me which night. "When did you say this all happened?"

"Last Saturday night, around two A.M." He relaxed a bit, seeing as I wasn't even smiling. "Governor's wife said she saw something hovering in the sky. It, um, took a little time for us to get the investigation started."

Uh huh, I thought. You mean, it took a little time for the Governor to put enough pressure on some pal in Washington. Poor kid.

"I guess you've checked the usual stuff, meteors, aircraft, government tests?" He nodded glumly.

"And the Governor's wife checks out, no history of mental illness or illegal substances?"

"Yeah. I don't see anything obvious ..."

"How many people have you talked to, so far?" I noticed that the kid and I had switched; now I was interviewing him. I think he noticed right after I did.

"Well, sir, you're the first person I thought I would talk to. You see, I looked up your file, when I was researching the residents of the neighborhood. I thought, perhaps, you might be of some help ..."

"I don't see how, son. There really isn't very much to go on."

"Yeah. Of course. Well, I still got a job to do; I guess I'd better get to it." He stood up and settled the crease in his pants.

I walked him out to the stoop. He murmured his thanks and strode to the sidewalk. He stopped, looking both ways, trying to decide where to start. I watched him cross the street, and go up to the house across the way. I didn't envy him; Ms. Stevens, who lived there, was a mean old bat.

I turned and walked back around the house to my garden. The sun had come out, and it had gotten warmer. I pushed back my hat, and ran the back of my hand over my forehead where the hatband had been. I wiped the sweat off on the leg of my pants, and looked at the way the shadows of each furrow lay against the side of the next one.

I felt the watcher, away somewhere in the woods. I spoke under my breath, not sure whether any sound was needed, at all.

"That poor kid'll never find anything. People see stuff that isn't there, way too often. It's like the Boy Who Cried Wolf; eventually, no one's really paying attention. He'll ask people a few questions. They'll laugh him off. And he'll go back to the office to try to type some kind of report so that he can close the file.

"So, if someone had come to this planet in a ship small enough to avoid detection, with their companions stored safely in a form that would be easy to revive once they were here, I think it's likely that they'd be able to escape detection completely."

There was no response, from the watcher or anyone else. I turned back towards the house for lunch.

"Don't worry; your seeds are safe with me."


Recommended Comments

I don't know; it's hard to say. I think I must've, partly.

Then, as I woke up, I was trying to tell myself the story, in my head.

It stayed pretty much the same, except I decided it would be even better if the old guy was a retired agent, himself, so I added that bit.

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ohhhhhhhhh......so you're like a genius...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


sometimes i make up music in my sleep and the song plays in my head when i wake up but then i forget....

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Yes. :-)

And the part that made you go back and change it.

And the stubborn part, and the sad part, and the grumpy part, and the happy part, and the playful part and the creative part ...

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sorry cant read it, got scared after the first paragraph, sounds too much like my paranoia.

but Im sure its really good - for a HORROR :eek:

dont it scare you dreaming about things watching ya ???

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They could be nice things, who are watching me.

Clearly, the watcher doesn't frighten the old man, and he's the one being watched. :-)

I know it starts out kinda Stephen King-ish, but it's not. At least, I don't think it is. But that's why I warned that it wasn't a fairy tale; you don't have to read it. :-)

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Oh mark I wasnt picking fault with your story hun, just not brave enough to read it right now, guess I was trying to ask ya if it was a horror first.

(remember Im out in the sticks hun, with like loads trees in my garden and like fields behind, what can I say I spook easily)

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I know, Sue. I was trying to describe it as well as I could, so you could decide whether it was too scary. Like I said, it's not a fairy tale. I think the watcher, and the aliens, are friendly, and that's why the old guy's helping. But I deliberately left it up to the reader to decide for themselves, so you might be scared, I don't know.

Off-hand, I'd say it's better for you not to risk reading it, just in case you get worried.

Blossomy tries soooo harrrrrd! Maybe some day! :-)

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WHY CAN'T YA JUST BEEEEEEEEEEE ANNOYYYYYYYYYYED MARRRRRK........................Y?????????????????????????????? WHYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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