Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Them There

I ain’t never had much interest in technology stuff. I got more than my fill back in Nam and after coming home I didn’t have nothing to do with it. Yeah, after them hippies got finished spitting on me and damning me to Hell and calling me baby killer, I headed for the hills. It was quiet up here with just me, my guns and food on the hoof. Truth to tell, it lasted longer than I figured it would and took a stupid ass little ant to ruin it all.

Seeing as how I don’t have a TV or radio or telephone, the first I heard ‘bout them there ants was when I got me some neighbors. Neighbors! Here I lived on this mountain all by myself for nigh on 40 years, never seeing nobody less’n I hoofed the 30 miles into town to pick up some supplies. And suddenly I got people moving in less than a mile away! Loud people they was, too. Hell, the first day I heard one of them coming over to my place 15 minutes ‘fore he got here. Looked like I was gonna have to go a ways out to find some game tomorrow. Noisy boy finally came into view and he looked pretty harmless.

I was afraid he’d turn out to be one of them hippie types what just got old, but he didn’t look like it. Course you can’t tell just to look at them any more. And they ain’t called hippies no more, neither. Found out ‘bout that a few years back when I walked into town for some stuff. I come walking into town leading my mule and some city boy “getting away from it all” in the mountains comes up to me and says I’m a “green inspiration” and how I was “getting back to nature” and all. Then he tried to tell me ‘bout how green his pree us was but the mule crapped on his shoe, which pissed him off something fierce. He got even more pissed when I slapped him on the back and told him how he was getting back to nature, too. Moron. Down at the store they laughed and told me ‘bout being “green” and that’s when I figured out that hippies had learned ‘bout camo.

Anyway, noisy boy came up and introduced himself. Said his name was Henry and he and his family was moving up here to get away from the collapse of civilization. I ain’t got no idea what the Hell he was talking ‘bout and told him so. That’s when I first heard ‘bout them there ants what eat electronics and ruin technology and ain’t easy to kill. Seems them there ants showed up in Texas a while back, eating up fire ants – which ain’t no loss – but eating up all sorts of tech stuff, too. At first I didn’t care none ‘bout the tech stuff, neither, till this Henry started telling me what was happening out in the world.

Seems them there ants was everywhere. They got into the U.S. through the ports. Houston first but all them others got hit, too. Same thing in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, the whole dang world. And the first thing them there ants marched on was space places. All the NASA places in the U.S. and all them foreign space places. They was all taken down first. After that, them there ants just took off and ate whatever tech stuff they could get to. Henry told ‘bout phones, TVs, radios and computers what just stopped working. Power plants were going down. Them cars with all their fancy electronic gizmos wouldn’t start. I bet that moron with the pree us was more pissed then he was when the mule crapped on his shoe!

Anyway, ol’ Henry says he saw the writing on the wall, bought some guns, lots of food and headed up here for the hills. He told me he figured it’d be a lot safer up here in the mountains living without any fancy tech stuff then it would to be in the city when the riots and looting started. I couldn’t argue none with him on that score. Then he said something that kinda made me warm up to him a bit. He said he didn’t know nothing ‘bout living off the land, hunting, growing food, things like that. Now, I knowed that boy didn’t know shit ‘bout living off the land, but at least Henry knew it, too. I seen enough high educated idiots in my life what confuse knowing a lot ‘bout a little with knowing a little ‘bout a lot. Then Henry offered to trade food and whatever else he could offer to me for hunting lessons.

Damn. So much for that warm feeling!

But, I taught Henry and his boys ‘bout hunting. That ain’t quite true. I taught Henry’s boys ‘bout hunting. They picked things up real quick like. Henry, not so much. Oh, he tried. Lord, did he try. But he was useless. Giving him a gun was like tossing ammo in the trash. He couldn’t shoot worth a damn and couldn’t move quiet like in the woods to save his life. The only way he was gonna kill game was if it died laughing watching him trying to hunt. So me and his boys told him to pull weeds in the vegetable patch and that sort of thing. Henry muttered something ‘bout hating yard work, but he did what he was told and hunting got a lot better after that.

He did okay with the vegetables, but maybe that’s ‘cause his wife was out there showing him how to do it. Fine looking woman, his wife. Almost made me think hiding up here in the hills for so long was a mistake. She didn’t get all upset ‘bout skinning and gutting what me and the boys brung in from hunting, neither. All said, he did right for himself with that woman of his.

Meanwhile, Henry kept up with all the goings on in the rest of the world. Seems he sealed up a bunch of radio equipment and brought it with him. He had one that ran off sunlight, one you cranked to power up and even a ham radio he kept sealed up. Said he was only gonna take that one out if he really had to contact someone. Say what you will ‘bout Henry’s hunting, he knew what he was talking ‘bout when it came to cities and tech stuff that ain’t working no more.

Most folks what lived in cities and towns never worried ‘bout all the tech stuff that kept things going. Least wise, not till it was gone. Can’t feed cities if you got no way to move food. Can’t make food if you got no way to plow and harvest big ass fields. Can’t stay warm in the winter if the heat don’t work. Can’t stay cool in the summer if the air conditioner don’t work. You get the idea. Cities was just big messes filled with people waiting around for someone, probably the government, to step in and take care of everybody. Henry said something ‘bout it being like War of the Worlds with civilization brought down by something tiny and beneath our notice. Maybe so, but I ain’t never read that book. Guess I’ll just have to take his word for it.

One day, me and the boys came back from hunting and found Henry all excited ‘bout something. He said something ‘bout finding a message that was being sent to earth. To earth? Hell, that’d mean little green men or something, right? Henry laughed and said that little green men drove a pree us and lived in San Francisco. Nope, he was talking ‘bout aliens. I asked why he cared if Mexicans was sending us messages. Took me a while to get it all straight, but when Henry said “aliens” it weren’t no different than when I said “little green men.” Never did figure out what Henry meant ‘bout San Francisco and “little green men.” Anyway, once he picked up the message from the little green men on his short wave, he pulled out that ham radio he brung and radioed to them. He got hold of them and said they was coming down to meet us. Henry said they could help us fix the problem with them there ants.

Now me, I wasn’t so happy as Henry was to hear ‘bout them aliens. But if it might mean getting my mountain back to myself, I was willing to listen. If there really was little green men.

Well, there was little green men. But they wasn’t little or green or men, least wise not like us humans mean when we say it. They was sort of blue looking, ‘bout our size and had two arms and two legs. That’s ‘bout all that was the same, but I ain’t gonna bother describing something most people seen on the news by now. The main bit was they knew ‘bout them there ants and figured they could help. Turns out these blue guys were like, I don’t know, like Orkin out there in the rest of the galaxy. Claimed they ain’t never found a bug they couldn’t kill, if the price was right. Ol’ Henry just grinned at that and asked them all sorts of questions ‘bout, lemme see if I can get it right, “carbon based life forms” and “metabolic processes.” After that, he offered the blue boys a drink. It weren’t till after it was all over that I found out he got water for us and some of my corn licker for them.

I didn’t follow half the stuff he said to them after that but I figured out his plan. He got them blue boys all lickered up and learned all sorts of stuff. Like the blue boys dumped them there ants on the earth so’s they could show up and save our bacon. Orkin from the stars and all. Henry told me he figured that might be the case ‘cause of them showing up so soon after them there ants did. He found out them blue boys did that when they found worlds like ours what ain’t had “first contact” yet. Seems they broke ‘bout a hundred of their laws doing it but they made lots of money and figured they wouldn’t get caught, no how. Henry got all that recorded on some little doohickey – guess he kept that sealed till now, too – and even got the aliens to show him how to call what he said was like the “galactic equivalent of 911.”

Next thing I know, we got space cops all over the place and the earth is declared a galactic disaster area. Them galactic people – not just blue but red, yellow, orange, you name it, even green – brung in all sorts of stuff to help feed us humans and rebuild the earth. They got a real good legal system out there in space ‘cause they made the Orkin blue boys pay for it. Pretty much ran them boys out of business, not that I give a damn. ‘Course, this made us to be like heroes and suddenly my mountain was crawling with reporters all trying to get the story. I got tired of that real fast and probably would a shot a few of them if Henry or one of his boys weren’t always keeping an eye on me.

Then Henry told me ‘bout the rest of his deal. While them blue boys was drunk, he got them to give us the earth franchise for their bug killing stuff. Seeing as how the rest of company went under, suddenly me and him was the sole owners of the best bug killing stuff in the galaxy. Ain’t my area, but Henry told me we was licensing the stuff to them in the galaxy what wanted to pay for it. Next thing you know, we’re rich as all get out. Henry and his family headed back out to civilization again. They stop by regular like to visit but seem right happy to be back in the city.

Me? I build an electric fence round my mountain. I smile every time I hear one of them reporters get zapped.