Thursday, November 07, 2013

Nora's Ark 01


The voice caused her to jump slightly. She had her earbuds in, and the music was all encompassing. It was how she had performed her work on the farm for years, especially driving the tractor. Plug the music in to here head, and let everything else fade out. The work just got done without her having to be present. But this voice had somehow managed to cut through her musical barrier, as well as the noise of the tractor.

 "Nora, listen."

 She brought the tractor to a stop, letting it idle. She could hear the unhealthy chug of the engine now over Pink Floyd's melodic saxophone. She was curious as to who was addressing her, but she felt a small tinge of fear as well. A sense that whatever they had to say would not be anything good.

She had her hand on the key to the ignition of the tractor, not quite wanting to turn it off. Knowing that if she stopped the engine, it would be a fight to get it going again. The tractor had been on it's last legs for a season and half now - it was unlikely that it would see the end of this harvest, despite the fact that they couldn't afford a replacement for it.

Nora looked around, trying to identify the speaker. She knew it wasn't her husband, Thomas. The voice was too deep, for one thing, and he was still on the roof of the barn, replacing shingles. She didn't think it was her neighbor, Jeremy, either. Truth be told, the voice wasn't one she recognized at all.

"Us and Them" concluded and "Magic Man" by Heart started to play. Nora paused the song and removed her earbuds.

There was nobody around. She was in the middle of her field, with absolutely nobody else around, and yet she had distinctly heard a male voice - an unfamiliar male voice - address her by name.

Wiping the sweat off her brow, Nora croaked, "Hello?", then cleared her throat and asked again, confidently, "Hello? Who's there?"

There was no reply. A gentle breeze blew, and the engine of the tractor shuddered, as if to say, "if we're not gonna move, I'm quitting". Nora leaned out of the tractor in order to get a better view and looked in every direction. "Anyone out here?" she called out over the idle of the tractor. She may have said it loud enough for Thomas to hear - or perhaps he simply noticed she had stopped driving the tractor, because she could see him standing on the barn roof, facing her, one hand shielding his eyes. He gave her a questioning shrug - "Everything okay?". He probably feared that the tractor had finally died. Nora gave a quick wave, looked around one more time, and began driving the tractor again. It stalled - ever so briefly - before picking back up and continuing on it's way. Nora left her earbuds out and completed her chores without music. She didn't hear the voice call her name again. That day.

At lunch, she nearly brought it up to Thomas, but decided to keep it to herself. She had imagined it was all. By dinner, she had completely forgotten about it.

Two days later, the voice woke her up at 2:05am.


Half asleep, and thinking it was Thomas, she muttered a "Mm?" in response.

"Nora, listen."

That same two word phrase got her attention. She opened her eyes, her pulse quickened. She looked over at Thomas, who was sound asleep, snoring lightly.

The bedroom was dark, of course, so it was impossible to tell for certain where the other person was, but it was enough to know that they were in her house. In her bedroom, even.

"Thomas," she whispered urgently. Her husband stopped snoring, mumbled something incoherent, and then started snoring once more. "Thom-" she whispered with more urgency, a little louder.

"Nora, be not afraid," the voice said.

Fat chance.

"Get out of my house!" she yelled. "We have a gun!"

Thomas was startled awake by his wife's screams. "What's the matter?" he asked, as he reached over to the lamp near their bed. Once the light was on, Nora could see that there was nobody in the bedroom but the two of them. She was breathing hard. "There was someone in here!"

Thomas instantly reached into the dresser where he kept his handgun, and drew it. He got out of the bed and headed to the door. "Stay here," he told Nora, and went to check the rest of the house. Nobody was there who shouldn't have been.

Five minutes later, sitting at the dining room table with her slightly shaken husband and three children, Nora declared, "I... must have dreamt it." To her own ears, she sounded like she was trying to convince herself of this statement.

Hank, her oldest, reached out and squeezed her hand. "'sokay, mom. I'm just glad that there wasn't really some guy in our house." The other two, Sean and Jason, followed Hank's lead as the always did, and nodded in agreement. Nora smiled wanly. "Yeah," she said, "me too."

"We have a few hours before we need to wake up," Thomas said, "Why don't we all try and get some more shut-eye?" Everyone agreed that sounded good, and the children and Thomas were all able to fall back asleep within minutes. Nora, however, could not.


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