Summary: When Buster begins hearing strange sounds over Elwood City, he just knows it’s aliens, and soon evidence confirms that this is true. Unfortunately when fiction becomes truth, things rarely go well, and soon all of Earth is involved in an alien war. What happens when the bad guys try to take over? Find out in Invasion. Not yet posted to ff.net.
CHAPTER ONE: SOUNDS OVER THE CITY
It was lunch time at Lakewood Elementary, and students had gathered around their lunch tables to enjoy Taco Tuesday. Arthur sat with Buster, Brain, Francine, and Muffy at a table near the window, but it was clear that something was up just by looking over the trays. As most trays cleared at a steady pace, Buster Baxter’s tray remained mostly full, which told everyone there was a huge problem with their friend.
“Buster, you gonna eat that?” Arthur asked, pointing to Buster’s untouched serving of nachos and salsa.
“Nah, you can have it,” Buster replied, causing a hush to spread over the table. Muffy stopped mid-laugh to give him a confused look as all eyes fell on him. Buster blinked, “What? I’m just not that hungry today.”
“You? Not that hungry? Alright, the world must be ending. Buster Baxter is always hungry, even after he’s eaten half a buffet,” Francine argued.
Arthur nodded, “She’s right, Buster. Are you sick? Do you think you’re coming down with something again?”
“No,” Buster said simply, adding, “I’m just not that hungry today.”
“Forgive me for intruding, but I believe the others are right. Many things can cause a lack of appetite, and if you are not ill, the answer must lie elsewhere. Are you under any excess stress?” Brain questioned.
“Not that I can think of,” Buster said, blushing slightly, “What does that mean exactly?”
“Is something bothering you?” Arthur asked, adding examples, “Like, did your mom tell you to do extra chores but you didn’t do them so you can’t watch the new Bionic Bunny tonight?”
“Or did they get rid of your allowance to pay bills?” Francine offered.
“Or is there a sale and you’re totally missing it because you’re at school?” Muffy asked.
“No, no, none of those things,” Buster said, “but I have been worried about something. Have any of you heard those weird plane noises over the city?”
Francine cracked up, “There are all sorts of planes that go over every day, Buster. The only time they don’t is when the weather gets really bad in winter, and it’s almost May now. No weird planes.”
“No, it sounds like a plane but it’s not. It roars for a while, then stops, then moves again, then roars. Sometimes it sounds like thunder that’s rolling across the sky, but the best way I can describe it is like a plane that starts and stops its engine mid-flight, which they normally don’t do,” Buster explained, looking over the group with a desperate expression, “Come on, one of you has to have heard it.”
“I’m sorry, but a plane’s a plane,” Muffy said firmly, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s probably from some military base. That’s what Daddy always says, and if you ask the police, they say the same thing. My neighbor is always going on and on about that sort of thing. He’s some trust fund baby that is totally weird. I hear he goes through garbage,” she whispered.
Brain held up his hand, “Actually, Buster, I’ve seen reports on a forum I follow about scientific things here in Elwood City. Others have reported the noises and speculated about possible military vehicles. As Muffy suggested, most of the strange aircraft and noises reported are usually from Metropolis’s air force base, but none of the patrons has been able to pinpoint which vehicle they’re testing.”
“How would they even know? I thought most of that stuff was beyond top secret,” Francine inquired.
Brain nodded, “Most are, but civilians have ways of discovering things on the internet, and most of these people are elite scientists in their own right. Most are retired so they’re no longer in the loop, but they all have a theory now that aircraft have been eliminated as a possibility. Other towns in a tri-state area have reported similar noises, and they think they’re coming from the upper atmosphere.”
“English please?” Muffy asked.
Arthur stepped in, “From space?”
“Almost,” Brain nodded. “They believe the sounds are coming from the upper-most areas of the atmosphere, right before you enter space entirely. But if you notice, the sounds only happen on very cloudy days, and they often only last for a few minutes.”
Buster nodded excitedly, “Yeah, it’s like it’s there one minute, gone the next. My mom hasn’t even been able to hear them and I’ve gone to get her like three times already.”
“I’m sorry to be doubtful, especially of you Brain, but this sounds like nonsense,” Muffy said, rolling her eyes as she began to turn to Francine to continue their conversation.
Francine nodded, “I have to agree with Muffy here. That suggests that either the government is up to something, which they’re not, or that they’re aliens, and there are no such thing as aliens.”
“Aliens do exist. We just haven’t met them yet,” Buster replied defiantly.
Francine turned to Brain, who sighed, “Scientifically speaking, the existence of aliens has neither been confirmed or denied. Studies are being done to determine if life ever existed on Mars or the other planets in our solar system, but it’s still difficult to gather data in a timely manner. The current theory is a neutral one. Aliens as we’ve seen in science fiction may or may not exist. There isn’t enough proof for either side to be correct in this argument.”
Francine sighed heavily, “So according to Brain, the smartest kid in the whole state, aliens could actually exist and Buster isn’t making this up. Forgive me here, but I’m starting to have doubts. Arthur, eat his food. We’ll have to go back to class soon.”
Arthur looked down but realized he’d already cleaned out his friend’s nachos by blindly eating them during the conversation. But like Buster, his appetite was beginning to crumble. If his best friend heard the sounds, and Brain knew about them too; and if Brain confirmed aliens could exist, then he had plenty of reasons to be concerned. He needed to gather more evidence, so he would turn to the best people for the job: His parents.
At dinner that night, Arthur was nervous about asking his question. His mother always went along with Buster’s stories, but he could tell she wasn’t really interested in aliens, space ships, UFO’s, or anything else Buster talked about. She just wanted to encourage hobbies, something she often told her friends whenever she put up with DW’s horrible singing or fought to send her to dance classes she wouldn’t go to after two weeks. She was “encouraging hobbies,” and she honestly wished Arthur was more involved.
But Arthur knew he’d have to take his chances if he wanted any real answers. After his father finished an unfunny story from work (which he laughed at for several moments while Jane just smiled), Arthur decided to jump in to ask the Big Question for the day: “Mom, Dad, do you think aliens exist?”
“Honey, I know Buster makes a good argument, but I don’t think he’s looking at good sources, if you know what I mean,” Jane smiled sympathetically before turning to her husband, “David, tell him.”
“Actually I read an article today that there have been some strange things happening out there in that big place known as space, but even NASA can’t explain what’s causing it. Maybe there is something out there. We don’t know for sure, but if you’re worried about aliens, you shouldn’t. All of those invasion stories are just myths. I don’t know why aliens would want to come here anyway,” David said, cutting a piece of meat and popping it into his mouth. After a moment he added, “If they have the technology to get here in ships of their own, we’re not ready to meet them.”
“Why not? I don’t get it,” DW said.
“David, stop,” Jane whispered, sensing where her husband was going. He’d also been watching documentaries about various groups who were enslaved during earlier eras, and she didn’t want him scaring the kids with what happened when one group held power over others.
“Your mother is right that Buster doesn’t always look at the right sources,” David said after a long pause. “Aliens could exist, but they might not. I think you should focus on your lesson of the week instead. What is Mr. Ratburn teaching you right now?”
“The Industrial Revolution. I have to do a report on an invention from the time by Friday,” Arthur muttered.
“Well, I think you should use the den computer to get sources on that tonight. I’ll supervise,” David, effectively ending the discussion for the evening.
Arthur had his answers but he wasn’t convinced. If aliens existed, and if Buster was hearing weird sounds over the city, then something could be out there. They just didn’t know what.