originally published March 16, 2013
We are under aerial attack. Again.
My shoulders shudder at each impact.
Wham. Whamp. Wham.
Body jerks. I fight instincts. Instincts that bid me dive under the coffee table in the centre of the room. Or better, turn over the couch and lie on the plush carpet beneath cushions that would form a V overhead. Shelter until morning brings safety once more.
Sprong. A direct hit to the window screen.
My gut shouts, ‘flee’, while my brain argues that I am safe.
Each night, they come. Hurling themselves with wild abandon at our homes, targeting the windows of rooms where we sit, relaxing in the security of our homes.
They ram our barriers, weaken our defenses, rattle our safety zones.
They are reckless. Senseless. Sneer at death. Yesterday morning, I ventured out at dawn, to find their carcasses strewn around the periphery of my house.
How can we fight them? What logic would work against mindless determination? Perfect devotion to whatever it is engages them?
What do they want of us? Have we wronged them? Damaged, insulted, maligned, brought pestilence or otherwise pissed them off? Or are we merely bystanders? Casualties of a war we can’t comprehend?
I shutter, pull my collar up around my ears and sip deeply of my evening scotch.
All right guys.
We rise together from the lawn. Glinting copper brown, reflecting shards of light from the street lamps. The first maneuver, a sloppy back flip through the air, shakes off the evening dew collected as we crawled from the grass.
Side by side, we zip a window length. Feels good. Like the weight of the world is off our feet. Now we’re aerodynamic. Ready to fly and have some fun.
I shoot straight up, my casing chattering in the air. Screech to a hover when I hear Stevo call, ‘Hey dude, wait for us’. The others join me. From this height, the grass looks grainy and grey. It’s a good night for air. Thick as a mud puddle and clear, all the way to the stars.
We goof around for a while. Play chicken. Fly straight at each other, then veer off at the last microsecond. The guys assume a close parallel formation but don’t take it seriously. Everybody hip-checks the next guy to try to set him off-course and create a mid-air traffic jam.
“Hey, there’s Dave and his buddies across the field,” Andreo says. “As usual, Tyler and the gang aren’t too far away.”
We buzz over.
“Hey, man. You hurtin’ from last night?” Dave asks.
“Naw. I didn’t hit that hard.”
“What about you? I thought you were a goner when you hit that window. I heard the ‘whap‘.”
“I’ve done this before. You gotta ease up just before you hit. That’s how you get good bounce.”
We all lived for It. For good bounce. We weren’t sure who really got It. Some guys faked It. Some guys tried and never got up again. Or maybe the ones who never got up again just Finished. We knew we would Finish after mating. But once our duty was done, eggs fertilized, we were free to enjoy ourselves for a short time. The reward at the end of the tunnel. A few weeks of pure, unadulterated Woo-hooo. Could life get any better?
I head-butt Dave. He bounces back a foot. A couple of his lads hone in on me and dive bomb from either side. I drop three feet, laughing, as they collide.
Andreo calls, “Hey Tyler, what was with the sprong I heard last night when you went in?”
One of Tyler’s buddies laughs. “He’s got screen face.”
“Can’t get good bounce off a screen.”
“Too much damping.”
“Gotta go for glass.”
A rectangle of light pops into the night below us. The old farmhouse.
All banter ceases, as though we each catch our breath at the same time. Then it starts again in a clamour.
“I am gonna bounce tonight.”
Buzzz. Whirr. Twenty seven of us drop and zoom at the window. Hurtling towards it as fast as wind resistance will allow. Mid-air, Andreo starts to free fall. Tumbles off on a current of air. Guess he Finished. It was his time.
My head collides with the glass. It’s shoved back into my thorax. I feel massive deceleration, like I’ve flown into a giant balloon. The ‘Dong‘ resounds through my body, setting up vibrations that stimulate a weird combination of nerves and make my brain and everything else jitter. It’s very pleasant. Woo-hooo.
I lie on my side in the slick grass. And laugh. Ok, I’m giggling. How did I get here? More giggles.
Good bounce. I got IT.
Darkness descends over my eyes. Woo-hoo… Darkness. I… Finish.
Sometime in late June, just when you think you will cross the boundary over to insanity at the next wham that shatters the quietude while you sit in your cushy chair, feet up and sipping scotch, it stops. The nightly barrage of projectiles on glass finishes. No more pelleting of windows the moment a light is switched on.
You wonder where the June bugs have gone. And hope they’re ok.