My mommy told me that there were no monsters--no real ones. --Newt, "Aliens"


by Ray Dangel © 2001

She knew she might not survive the journey but there was no other way. Her old home had vanished in a huge explosion while she watched from a safe distance. Fatigue nagged at every muscle, yet she had to travel long and far before relaxing. She pressed the button and drifted into the artificial sleep that would sustain her.

* * *

Much, much later a small object landed in Colorado, noticed only by one radar operator at Denver International Airport. The object hadn't endangered any aircraft and didn't appear again, so the operator recorded it in her log as a probable meteor. Her shift supervisor reported the event to his friend at the Chamberlin Observatory. Neither the operator nor her supervisor gave the matter any further thought.

* * *

Two months later in a Denver subdivision, Ethan Edwards, age 5, watched three workers unload tools, sections of pipe and a powerful-looking machine from their truck. When they started digging in his front lawn, he asked what they were doing.

"We're going to replace the phone cable," one worker answered.

"Will you work in my back yard?" Ethan asked.

"Yep, and in the yard behind you. The cable is really long. It runs way down there."

Ethan looked where the worker was pointing. He told the man, "It won't be good if you work in that corner of our yard."

"What's your name, son?"


"Well, Ethan," the worker said, "I'm Mark. He's Brian and that's Ron. We have to work in the corner. That's where the cable runs and the phone company has hired us to replace it. It's causing lots of problems."

"You shouldn't dig there, Mister."

"Why not, Ethan? Don't worry, we'll put everything back like it was before we leave."

"Something bad lives there."

Mark glanced at the corner and said, "Does your dog bite?"

"We don't have a dog."

"I guess we can handle it if something bothers us, Ethan."

"You shouldn't dig there. Don't do it."

"Thanks for warning us, but we have to work there. You just stay out of our way so you don't get hurt, okay?"

Ethan gave up and retreated to his living room window. When the workers moved into the back yard, he went out onto the raised back deck.

The men were using a tool about 18 inches long that squirted out water and mud in a powerful stream. It drilled along underground so they didn't have to dig in the hard ground with shovels.

When they came near the shrubbery in the bad corner, Ethan went inside and watched through the sliding glass door. He wished his Mom would come back from the grocery. He knew how to dial 911 if there was trouble and she wasn't there. Digging in that corner would be trouble, but the men didn't believe him.

Ethan was shaking from not knowing what to do. He dialed 9-1- but hung up before pushing the last number. His Mom said 911 was only for really bad emergencies. Maybe the animal wouldn't hurt the men and his Mom would scold him for bothering the 911 people. Tears welled up as he resumed watching the men.

He saw Mark signal for the drilling to stop. Mark and Brian used their shovels to dig a hole in the bad corner.

"Hey, Brian, look at this," Mark said. "That tool rips through concrete and tree roots like they were butter, but it must have hit something really weird. It's all chewed up. We'll have to replace it."

"Boss won't like it," Brian commented. "That tool cost $5,000. We'd better dig down and find out what wrecked it."

"Let's do it."

"Sure wish folks wouldn't plant stuff in the right of way," Brian said with a sigh.

"They always do."

As the two began digging up the first shrub Ethan opened the sliding door and hollered, "Don't dig there!"

Mark replied, "Sorry, Ethan."

"Is there a problem?" Brian asked.

"The boy keeps saying we shouldn't dig in this corner. Kids have a big imagination."

Brian rubbed his hands together and stared under the shrubbery. "I dunno, Mark. Sometimes kids know stuff."

"What are you saying, Brian? We're digging, and that's that."

Mark started scooping up the heavy clay soil. "Brian, can you get me one of those big plastic sheets from the truck so we can put this dirt on it? Ask Ron to come and help."

In the house, Ethan started to dial 911, then hung up again.

Brian headed for the truck. He didn't see the scaly tentacle snake up out of the ground and wrap itself around Mark's ankle.

Mark got out only a small yelp as the creature dragged him to the shrub, then tugged until the soil gave way and the man disappeared into the hole.

Ethan saw it all. He was too scared to move. "I told you not to dig there," he whispered.

Brian returned and looked around. "Mark? Yo, Mark, where'd you go? I got the plastic." There was no reply.

The tentacle appeared again and dragged Brian into the hole.

Ethan recovered enough to run out the front door and warn the other worker. "The thing took 'em in its hole!"

"What are you talking about, son?"

"I told you not to dig there. An awful animal lives there."

Ron snatched up a long-handled shovel and dashed into the back yard. He spotted the hole beneath the shrubbery and approached it, holding the shovel out as a weapon.

Ethan screamed between sobs, "Watch out!"

Ron inched closer. He peered into the hole, dropped his shovel and reached down into the darkness. He had dragged Brian halfway out of the hole when the tentacle circled his wrist.

"My god!" Ron cried. He whacked the tentacle with the shovel. The sharp blade sliced through it and goo spurted out. The tentacle released him and he pulled Brian to safety.

Ron shined his flashlight into the hole and hollered, "Mark's there but I can't reach him. Call 911, Ethan!"

This time Ethan let the number ring. The dispatcher sent a paramedic team and alerted the sheriff. When the red truck pulled up, Ethan ran out to the paramedics and shouted, "They're in the back!"

Ron was standing guard to make sure the creature didn't take his co-worker farther into its lair. "Over here," he said, pointing to the hole.

The rescuers got Mark out safely and gave him and Brian oxygen to revive them. Both were in shock. They were loaded into the truck and taken to the emergency room.

Sheriff McNaughton arrived and ordered everyone to stay away from the hole. "I don't want anyone killed," he said. "A backhoe operator from the County Shops will be here soon to dig up whatever's down there."

By now Ethan's Mom was home. She was in tears when she learned what happened in the brief time she was away. She hugged her son and promised, "Ethan, I'll never leave you alone again."

"I'm just glad you're home, Mom."

The sheriff said the backhoe would really tear up the yard.

"Dig away," Ethan's Mom said. "We don't want it living there."

"It was there all summer, Mom," Ethan said.

"What? Ethan, why didn't you tell me?"

"I tried to, remember? You said there are no monsters."

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize ..." She hugged him again.

Jake's excavation revealed the animal's lair was about two feet in diameter. Bones of squirrels and birds came up as the backhoe followed the tunnel around the yard. Finally it headed straight down into the blackness.

"Boy, Sheriff, it smells like a skunk convention!" Jake said, pinching his nose shut and turning his head away.

Sheriff McNaughton took a whiff and agreed. He dropped a rock into the deep part. It took three seconds to hit bottom.

"This must be a couple hundred feet deep," Jake speculated. "I can't go any deeper. Shall I fill it in again?"

The sheriff peered carefully into the hole and decided, "Yeah, put the dirt back. By the time you need it I'll have a concrete truck here so you can seal it off."

Ethan's Mom pleaded. "You can't leave that thing down there."

"All we can do is discourage it," the sheriff said. "We'll seal up this hole and hopefully that thing won't trouble you again. He praised Ethan for dialing 911. "You're a real hero, son."

When the hole was closed to his satisfaction the sheriff said he wanted the incident kept quiet. "There's something down there but we really don't know what it is, right? I'll talk to the cable workers so they don't stir up the newspapers till I finish investigating. The paramedics won't say anything."

While driving back to his office, the sheriff punched in a number on his cell phone. "McNaughton here. You were right. That creature turned up again, about a mile west of those other two holes. This time it went after some workers instead of a couple of deer. I'm hushing it up like you asked."

* * *

Two hundred feet beneath the hardening concrete in Ethan's back yard, the creature was tenderly squeezing out the last of a dozen slimy eggs. Her babies would need to eat soon after they hatched, but food was everywhere. She had found her new home.


Ray Dangel is a former newspaper editor living in Colorado whose stories have been published in the U.S. and Canada. He loves to receive comments from readers at radangel(at)

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