The thing with living next to train tracks is that the house shakes sometimes. After dealing with it for many years, it often went unnoticed by the residents. The problem, Melanie realized, was there were no trains this time.
It was a normal morning – the house was quiet and everyone one had left for the day. It was the perfect time for Melanie to slink out of her room and start her own. She sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee in order to function like a normal human being. Melanie wasn’t an early bird or a night owl – more of a mid-afternoon insert-bird-name-here. Mornings typically lended themselves to lots of grunting and slow-growth alertness.
With a sniffle and an eye rub Melanie took a second look at her coffee. A moment ago it shook – a few little ripples that mirrored the shake beneath the floorboards. Her hands had been cupped around it – she must have moved. That was definitely it. Perplexed, she removed her hands from the warm mug and tucked them in her sleeves. Bending closer to the coffee mug, she stared. It happened again.
No, it was definitely moving on its own.
But it wasn’t the only thing. The table started to shake too… and the rest of kitchen. There was a rhythm to it, like footsteps. It was odd, she thought, trains usually made some noise. And didn’t shake the house so…violently.
Lucas, the dog, started barking as he ran through the house and up to the back door. Not out the ordinary but considering the circumstances Melanie determined maybe she should get off her butt and check it out. She got up and shuffled over to the window, mug in hand.
Beyond the trees that lined the property, a huge figure was emerging through the trees. Melanie could feel each heavy step until one knocked her off balance, her coffee mug flying out of her hand and across the kitchen. She scurried to get back on her feet and brushed the hair out her eyes. The figure was at her door and she was peering at its body on the other side of the glass. She could almost touch it.
Finally fully awake, Melanie leaned down and grabbed Lucas, all fifty black and white pounds of him. Despite the new position he did not squirm, yet continued barking at the intruder. She thrust open the door as the entire house lifted. She shut her eyes and held on tight, one arm around the dog, one hand on the sliding glass door, and toes gripping the edge through her socks, miraculously having good balance for the first time in her life. With a sigh of relief, Melanie opened her eyes and found herself starring the hideous creature in the face almost thirty feet in the air.
Tiny green human eyes and large gunk-filled giant eyes locked. They examined each other, the wheels turning in both of their heads – though slightly faster in the smaller of the two.
The house dropped with a thud, sending Melanie’s stomach into her throat. She landed painfully on her back, with a finally silent and befuddled Lucas still clutched tightly in her arms. The pair rolled over with a groan and looked around. The giant was looking around for them from its point thirty feet above and they had to move fast.
Lucas had an affinity for running through the trees that lined the yard, taking a page out of his book and disregarding the likelihood of spiders, Melanie ran into the trees.
Approaching the fence she ran at it at top speed, dog somehow still in her arms, until she was able to grab hold of the top with her free hand and launch herself over it. The tops of the green spruces lining the next yard were all Melanie saw before she hit the ground and blacked out.
She woke to the sky above, dancing with whisps of clouds. It was morning, and like every morning Melanie felt groggy. The difference was this time she was also sore and laying in dirt with Lucas licking her face. She sat up slowly, remembering what had happened.
“Was that real, Lucas?” She asked the dog who just cocked his head to the side in response. It had been a whole day! Crap, she thought, Lucas must be hungry. Melanie got up and followed a happily trotting Lucas around the property to the gate.
Beyond the gate lay the remainder of the house. It was torn like a tornado had hit with debris scattered everywhere. Looking across to the neighboring yards, it would be impossible to say that a tornado did NOT hit. The path was clear and destruction more than identifiable, the news would report it as such, Melanie realized. The world was not as it seemed, or they had been told.
Melanie reached into her pocket and felt around. It was there, at the very bottom, the smoothness and warmth made contact with her fingers. She pulled it out and looked at it in her hand. The bean was so small and insignificant looking, just as it had when she found after the lightening struck the beach, right behind the dunes. The only thing odd about it was its color. It was a translucent orange and it glowed warmly around the edges, lighting up Lucas’ nose as he sniffed it eagerly. “No you silly dog, this isn’t breakfast,” She smiled at him. How did dogs have such power, to put a smile on your face in the most unlikely of times?
After eating something small from the remnants of the kitchen, they drove down to the beach. Once on the bridge, they could see it. The other magic bean, the one her surprise date had skipped along the water under the full moon. They had just met that day at the beach with friends, and decided to stay afterwards. Little did they know what they had gotten into. It had all seemed like a good idea at the time.
It was right after the last strike of lightening and crack of thunder that they came out from under the beach hut that the sky cleared and saw the blue glow of the beans emanating from nearby. He was teaching her to skip rocks, the water was perfectly calm for it, only there was a shortage of rocks on the south shore of the island. There just so happened to be two little beans with smooth sides and the one looked beautiful skipping across the ocean in the moonlight. With each touch the water mirrored the sky for a just a moment. It was almost a month ago now.
The first bean had grown into a large beanstalk from the water to the sky where it sank, like a frozen version of the lightening bolt from which it came. It twisted this way and that, with the same eery glow that belonged to the bean in Melanie’s pocket.
There was something happening to the stalk, it was starting to shake. Melanie just had to see, so she got out and grabbed the dog, who came along eagerly, though she could sense his caution. She should’ve trusted that instinct, the one she felt too, but she couldn’t.
With each step she took she felt a disturbance in the sand.
A foot emerged from the cloud above the stalk. Then, a leg. Soon, a whole figure was shambling down the stalk, then another, and another.
A car came up behind her, followed by familiar footsteps and the jingle of another dog. Lucas ran to greet them, though Melanie stayed put. She hadn’t seen him since that day, things had been too crazy at home with her mother’s sickness.
Today was a hospital day, quite far away where her parents should be okay from all this, Melanie thought to herself. She doubted this had made its way too far, for now at least.
“What do we do, Gene?” Melanie asked him, still facing the sea, and he wrapped his arms around her from behind. The warmth was comforting, she had missed him.
“We go up,” Gene said.