Author: Rick Tobin

Officer Timothy Jeffreys flicked a puffy, trembling hand over his holstered pistol, while staring into and then away from Edward Andrews’ glare. Timothy had rookie bloating from devouring Sheriff’s station sweets. Donut dust still mingled with dripping sweat on his emerging, scraggly mustache. In contrast, Andrews was a generation older, still favoring full black hair while looming a head above his unwanted visitor and his companion, a squirrel-faced public health manager squeezing his lips tight like a beaver preparing to gnaw tough timber.

“Tim, you bring this medical misfit into my home by force, without a warrant, and threaten us if we don’t submit to an untested vaccine that is probably dangerous?” Andrews held his hands on his hips in an aggressive pose toward his trespassers.

“Look,” Jeffreys replied, meekly. “Mr. Andrews, I have to enforce this order from the Governor, for the common good. This outbreak is serious business.”

Andrews drew back, relaxing his hands, his frown melting into calm.

“You’ve invaded my privacy with this incompetent fraud, under my roof–someone who barely graduated medical school and was licensed because of his influential father.” Andrews paused as the medical officer’s face reddened. “You’ve ignored all the gifts we gave your community, for your good. Would your grandmother be alive today without the herbal remedies we gave your mother, without cost or question? Would your dog be hunting today without our aid? Remember the children we treated when this plague started, when this poisoner’s pills failed after he foisted them on local physicians? Meanwhile, this fakir took pharma kickbacks to build his slush fund in Ecuador.” Andrews pointed his finger into the troll-like official’s growing bluster.

“Arrest them all, officer,” demanded the official. “Drag them out in handcuffs if you have to. I’ll vaccinate them outside.”

“That won’t be necessary, Tim,” Andrews interrupted. “We’ve watched over your race for eons, hoping the release of technology and medicine would help you evolve, but you have disappointed, once again.”

“You what?” Tim blurted, as the health officer hid behind him, waiting for a scuffle.

“We watch. That is what we do. However, when your kind turns away from our gifts, and against us, though we stay distant, outside your towns and cities…then we withdraw…withdraw all.”

“Look, Mr. Andrews, I hate to do this, but you gave me no choice.” Tim pulled black zip ties from the back of his belt and moved towards Andrews’ hands, but not fast enough. His target hopped backward. Andrews raised his hands as his eyes glowed golden.

“We will return again, in time, to bring such wonders as might have protected your race in times of disease and disruption, but for now, all is recalled.” Andrews circled his hands, producing a pulse rolling through all matter around him in waves, rippling flesh of his attackers, the floor and walls of the house and beyond, through everything across the horizon. The county health officer’s mouth opened, without sound, as his body began to fade out of sight.

“What is happening?” Tim asked, in shock.

“Your gifts are reclaimed by those who watch. All is renewed on the timeline. That dark soul secretly took our compounds, while prohibiting it from others. He did not survive, just as your mother, grandmother, dog and so many others who are now adjusted. Unfortunately, your mother secretly put the compounds in your sandwiches, without you knowing. Goodbye, Tim.”

With that, Timothy Jeffreys noiselessly vaporized.

“And so it is, dear Tim,” Andrews whispered. “We must protect the common good.”