Author : Russell Bert Waters

Road-weary we pulled in and parked outside the motel office.
This was our first time in the North East, and we weren’t even sure exactly where we were.
Somewhere outside Maine, I think.
I looked out at the horizon, and it lit up twice, briefly. Maybe the Aurora Borealis, maybe just some reflection off of something. Hell, maybe a plane.
My wife was asleep beside me, and the word I could come up with for the town, the sky, the clear night, was “charming”.
It was welcoming us with the cool crisp air.
It was inviting us with the starry skies.
It was charming us with the quaint surroundings.
We were to feel at home.
We were to feel safe.
For some reason I wasn’t buying it.
My hackles stood up, as my wife lay in the passenger seat, in a bit of a ball.
She was breathing gently, sound asleep, safe.
Yet, for some reason, I still felt like maybe we could just stand to go another few miles before we hung it up for the night.
My world was content, dreaming her dreams, but I was restless.
I felt like escaping.
In the direction of the flashes I had seen, I now heard something like a dull thud, followed shortly by another.
I climbed back into the car, something was amiss, I wasn’t sure what yet, but we weren’t going to sleep here tonight.
Well, at least I wasn’t going to.
The second thud took longer than the first, but something in me felt that it would come.
I heard a familiar crackle.
I had heard the same or similar when I fought fires a lifetime ago in California.
I knew it was moving too fast, and I instinctively knew there would be no clear exit.
I closed the door, placed my hand on the warm back of my everything as it raised and lowered with her breathing.
She settled into my hand, safe, assured.
If she only knew.
I could see the horizon begin to glow, now, and my eyes began to water with the incoming smoke.
Lights began to come up in the windows of the scattered bungalows.
Confused tourists, and the occasional year round resident, began to mill around, murmuring speculatively in their pajamas and robes.
We just sat, as you could now hear distant thuds.
The footfalls of some giant being.
Her sleep was still restful, her breathing calm.
We would ride this out together; in this charming little parking lot, of this charming little motel.
But we would not be charmed.