Long ago (350 million years ago, but who is counting?), there was a grave distress signal sent from a dying star, a star so endlessly far it could only be energy from that initial universal explosion, that big, big Big Bang, and, as far as our organization has observed, is breaking right about now through the milk of the Milky Way Galaxy.
The strange rays of this strange communication have split and are breaking in as would a meteorite splitting in sporadic strikes down to earth.
Our organization has observed various results as split pieces collide in various situations on earth. The results of some combinations have exhibited as follows:
EXHIBIT A: One Harold A. Eric of Des Moines, Iowa on Friday, at 7:30pm. Alias: THE GREEN MAN
Harold was sitting on a green plastic chair on his back deck when he stood up at once and exclaimed.
He had been trying to, as the woman on channel thirteen had suggested he ought, “Seize the appropriate opportunity by adopting the appropriate attitude, and make the poor rabbit explode.” He acquired the appropriate concentration to his mind, his forehead reddening, his eyebrows arching, arching, arching–
He did not see the stone fall from the sky, but sensed it in the top of his eyes as one would an eyelash.
It was only as loud as a car crash an intersection away–a kick of dust so fast and sudden a small cloud bloomed from the ground.
Harold spilled his lemonade and kicked over his beer. His chair fell backwards without him.
It is strange how an animal always predicts each disaster. Moments before impact the rabbit had run straight for the explosion.
“Bucky?” Harold had said, as he inched toward the plume of red dust.
(The rabbit he had both christened condemned to combust.)
“Give a name to your object,” the channel-thirteen woman had said. “Repeat so that your mind may listen. Only then may you explode something with your mind.” A smart woman, the woman from channel thirteen, thought Harold.
The red plume of dust was now just a pale imitation, like the ghost of a tree, seeing itself in a puddle and drifting away out of fright. Bucky was nowhere to be found. Harold held his forearm above his eyes and walked into the haze of the dust.
Harold came to the crater and tapped its edge with his toe. The small crater was about the size and shape of a cheap satellite dish. Inside it was a small piece of glass.
“Mirror, mirror,” said Harold. He coughed in one hand and compulsively jingled the keys in his pocket with the other.
“Well,” he said, and picked up the mirror. It was not a flat mirror but a silvery stone and only its topside was flat and reflective. He removed his hat and scratched the hairs of his forehead with the same idle fingers and brim. Would he look into it or would it look into him? HAHAHA!
Something about his own reflection in this small piece of glass made him nervous. He wiped his mouth because a feeling like hunger had filled it with spit.
“Where on earth did you come from?” Harold said to the silvery stone. He tossed it up and down in his hand. He looked into the sky.
He looked at the stone. Two black eyes he didn’t know grinned up at Harold. He dropped the stone and it tumbled away. He tripped in the crater and fell. Harold looked in every direction, but there was no one around. The stone, like a thing so much larger than he was, sat staring him down.
After a heavy night’s sleep, Harold climbed into his truck.
He had put the stone in a box and set it beside him in the passenger seat. “Put your destiny into your hands,” the channel-thirteen woman had said. He was going back to the channel-thirteen woman. He had to explain to her that Bucky had run away in the wind.
Harold pulled into the parking lot where the channel-thirteen woman’s sons sold rabbits. As he pulled in between the two white lines which would hold his truck, he adjusted his rearview mirror. He saw the black eyes once more and drove over the curb.
Harold took the silvery stone from the box and slipped it in his pocket. A bell above the door chimed as he entered. The channel-thirteen woman was still not around. Again, it was only her youngest son, Ranger, whom Harold had known as a boy. Ranger was picking flies from an electrical lamp when he looked up at Harold.
A general principle he had learned throughout life, Harold did not make eye contact with Ranger.
“The rabbit–,” Harold said.
“Well, well,” said Ranger. “If it isn’t Harold Eric Ericson.” (If it wasn’t “Harold Eric Ericson” it was “Old Eric Harold Harrison.”)
“The rabbit,” said Harold.
“The rabbit?” said Ranger.
“Well, a rabbit. I need a new rabbit,” said Harold. Harold had replaced the habit of jingling keys in his pocket with worrying the stone.
“Hey, come here,” said Ranger. “Let me get a look at you.”
There was the sound of another person coming in through the shadowy door behind the counter. “Hey Darrelson!” Ranger said over his shoulder. “Come on out here. Old Eric Harold Haroldson has returned.”
“To return is to come back into oneself more fully and to do again what one once intended with now more will than before,” the channel-thirteen woman had said.
Darrelson stepped out from the shadowy door. He was like a man made of clay molded over a boiler. He emerged from the shadowy door as do shadows cast from a locomotive exiting the tunnel. “Harold,” he said. He held his hand out to Harold. Darrelson’s hand had a distinct look to it, like it always had just done with strangling a bird. “Nice to see you.”
“Nice to see you too,” said Harold, who did not make eye contact with Darrelson either.
Darold had been a chump in high school. Ranger reminded him: “Do you remember, Darrelson, when Harold lost his pants and ran through the cafeteria looking for help?”
Darrelson smiled and filled the room with a thoughtful light air. “I do,” said Darrelson. “I do.”
“And do you remember,” said Ranger, “when Harold was voted most likely to succeed?”
“I do,” he said. “I do.” Darrelson grimaced and tightened two fists.
Ranger slowly made his way behind Harold as if he were a dangerous gunman. “You sure you want to risk another rabbit?” he said.
The channel-thirteen woman had said also that, “To be one’s self was to never lose sight of one’s self, even when trapped in the eyes of the other. To do anything with any reality was to do it with certainty.”
“I am certain that I am here to buy one more rabbit,” said Harrold with certainty.
Ranger shoved his hands under Harold’s pits. Harold’s arms hung there like a dog’s. He had held onto his stone so now the two brothers saw it as it came out of his pocket.
Ranger spoke first. “What the hell is that?” he said.
And then they two popped like balloons.
Harold had “seized the appropriate opportunity by adopting the appropriate attitude” with perhaps a bit more certainty than even before.
Ranger and Darrelson were now two side-by-side piles of what Harold remembered as ‘gak’ from his elementary school science fair project.
Harold stepped over Ranger and Darrelson and made his way behind the counter for a rabbit. There was only one rabbit. It was white and as fluffy as a basketball, with a little brown tuft on its head shaped like a heart. Its cute black-button eyes stared up at Harold. “I will name you Buckman,” he said. “But I will never have an explosive attitude in my exchanges with you for I have suffered too much losing, losing–” But he could not bring himself to say ‘Bucky.’
As Harold walked forward away from his solution to his two earlier problems, Darrelson and Ranger by name, he granted that this was indeed the power he had all along been praying for, the power he could share with almost anyone in the world.
Harold pulled a green Lone Ranger mask with sparkly stickers from a carousel stand by the exit of The Rabbits of Ranger and tied it over his eyes.
With his rabbit in one hand and his mirror in the other, Harold bid the two piles adieu: “I am not ‘Old Eric Harold Haroldson’ or ‘Harold Eric Ericson.’ Nor even am I ‘Harold A. Eric.’ No.” He paused and held his masked head high. “I am the Green Man. Evildoers beware. Everybody look out. The Green Man. I am The Green Man.”
Harold left The Rabbits of Ranger and again the bell chimed above him.
Evildoers beware. Everybody look out. When you see the Green Man, just remember to shout.
EXHIBIT B: One Kaydell Bradshaw of Salt Lake City, Utah three Thursdays ago, at around 10:30pm. Alias: THE NIGHT LIGHT
The Night Light took on the characteristics of the moon after discovering a strange glowing/growing rock in his backyard. For the full story, listen to the DO Fiction Podcast’s special two part series: “Masks!”
E.T. Starmann is a pulp fanatic. Although he may not be a professional bookseller or librarian, he is a long-time Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, AllStory collector. A Portland native, E.T. has spent countless hours in the Gold Room nook at Powell’s, pouring through the latest pulp rack covers. E.T.’s work is heavily inspired by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Robert E Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.