Abdul, a wiry boy of 13, aimed his toe at the pink chunk of quartz on the ground and let fly with his right foot. The pebble took flight, clearing the gravel road, the adjacent ditch, and a line of scraggly bushes before landing somewhere out of sight beyond a small hill. Abdul glanced to his right at Chumley, also 13, for some sign of approval, but Chumley was still droning on …
“You’re a lucky one, Abdul, because you have a real father. You don’t have a stepfather who gets drunk all the time and hits you,” Chumley said, his eyes never leaving the gravel road.
Abdul, tiring of this never-ending complaining by his chunky friend, glanced over his shoulder at the two boys who were trailing them: Mugwump and Theodore. Lost in their own conversation, those two had also missed his NFL-caliber rock punt.
“You get to go home and everything’s normal for you,” Chumley went on. “You just watch TV and read your brother’s Playboys … and you don’t have to always worry that you might say the wrong thing. Or say anything.”
There was a brief cry from behind, and Abdul turned to see Mugwump and Theodore engaged in a tussle. This would not end well for Theodore, Abdul thought; Mugwump had a good 20 pounds and two inches on the smaller boy.
Abdul thought he heard a faint whirring sound, possibly from the other side of the small hill. He looked back at Chumley and decided to change the subject, get his fat friend’s mind off this depressing stepfather subject.
“Want to come over and look at Playboys? Klumil got the new one.”
“Oh, yeah?” Chumley’s eyes lit up: The diversionary tactic seemed to be working. “Maybe I can later, after we eat. What time is it, anyway?”
Abdul was about to answer when he heard the whirring sound again. Now it was coming from above them. He looked up and saw the UFO, a bus-sized mass of shiny metal, glowing orange and shaped like a gigantic Frisbee. It was hovering no more than 15 feet above their heads. As he watched, mouth agape and eyes wide, a pendulum-thing lowered from the belly of the ship and drew even with Chumley’s head.
Chumley’s head, severed neatly at the neck by the pendulum-thing, sailed silently through the air, off in the direction of the quartz pebble. Abdul watched it land with a soft thud on the hillside, then roll gently down to the bottom of the hill, where it came to rest near a rosebush.
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