Aphelion Issue 218, Volume 21
June 2017
 
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The Green Lights Hurt You

by Andrew Kanago





I like Taco Tuesdays, which is today. Most of folks on the line are hung over from going to the bar last night. Angelino, the floor supervisor, is snapping at everyone to hurry up and pack boxes.

"There's this thing called quotas," Angelino yells at no one in particular. I'm busy packing stuff. Like there's this robot snowman that sings "Deck the Halls" when you press its mitten. It always makes me laugh.

They asked me to go out last night, but I don't drink no more. Instead, I stayed home to do search-a-words.

TV had another special last night on the lights. Red, blue, orange, purple, green ones. The professor-types on the show kept talking about the ways the lights do something to gravity. Or something like that. All I know is that those people on TV don't know squat about what them lights want. No one's been able to talk to them, that's for sure.

I only seen the lights two times. The first time was last April. I went over to my sister's house for dinner. Before the ham was ready, me and my nephew, Jakey, was throwing around the baseball, just having a nice catch. I don't throw too well since the accident, and Jakey's on his high school baseball team, but he's nice about shagging my throws. It used to be that Jakey was little and I was the one having to shag his throws.

Times change, that's the truth.

So we was playing catch and then Jakey looks up and goes pale. "It's one of the lights," he says. I look up and it's a blue light. They're the most common. Three houses down, not too high up. Just floating there.

Jakey runs into the house. A second later, Beth sticks her head out the back door. She whispers at me. "Come inside, Drew," she said. "We need to get to the basement."

I didn't feel much like going.

"It's a blue one," I say, although it sounds like "Hitsnnnnbooun" because of the accident.

Ruth understands the way I talk. She repeats that I need to come inside.

"They don't hurt nobody. They just float there." Donnahurnoddy. Jussflotduh.

"I don't care. Come inside, bro." I love my sister, so I go inside. Nothing happened though. The blue light just floated for a while, then flew away.

The second time was about a month ago on Halloween. I'm sitting with Jakey at their house, handing out candy. Ruth had taken Mikayla out trick-or-treating (my niece was dressed like a "not scary witch").

I was handing out candy to a group of kids when I look up and I see one of them purple ones high up over the middle school. The kids see me looking and look up themselves. A little army soldier boy screams and runs back to his daddy. Soon everyone is running home.

Jakey comes up next to me. "A purple one. Those are rare."

I nod. "Don't nobody know what they do." Donnody nohut dey do.

It's true. The people on television say that the purple lights are the rarest. After the purple lights leave, strange stuff happens. A town in Italy got a purple light, and after almost every woman in town got knocked up. Or another time, a purple light came to this place in Ecuador, and the next year all the villagers got real athletic, a lot of them went to the Olympics. The only weird thing that happened here in Council Bluffs, Iowa was that there wasn't no murders or assaults or anything for three weeks after Halloween.

All the lights do different stuff.

The blue lights just hang around for a while, some of them so low that a person could reach out and touch them. No one does. The videos are all over the web of the people who do.

The orange lights are harmless too, except that a lot of people act like they're drunk when the orange lights do that pulsing thing. It causes lots of accidents, too. So when the orange lights come, people can't drive.

The red lights, those are the good ones. Them's the ones that cure diseases, turn old people young again, drop bars of gold in people's backyards. Everyone hopes to see a red light.

But if you see a green light, run. Green lights hurt people. The green lights change people. I seen the videos. The green light comes and then a beam of green light shoots out. Then there's screaming, a lot of screaming. After, the person is changed. Some people get put into strange shapes, like boxes or triangles.

Sometimes the lights take away a person's legs and give them four arms. Sometimes the person's got different sex parts or their entire body is covered in ears.

Beware the green lights. Those are the ones that hurt you.

It's just before lunch and the line is busy. Christmas orders rushing in and I am packing boxes like there's no tomorrow. This box has that dancing snowman that sings "Deck the Halls," that box has a nativity scene, the next one's got a couple of Iowa Hawkeyes beer glasses (you gotta use a lot of packing for the glasses).

One of the pickers screams. I look up and I see a green light has come inside the building through the open loading docks. It ain't big, up close, maybe five foot across. You can see inside the light, and what's inside looks kinda like the skin of a raisin if a raisin's wrinkles kept moving around.

Everybody drops their stuff and runs. "Go! Go! Go!" yells Angelino. A beam of light hits him. Angelino's engulfed in green light for a few seconds. He makes a sound like he's getting his tongue ripped off. Then the light goes away and he's naked, curled up like a baby.

I realize I'm just standing there. Since the accident, I don't run well. So I hide under the conveyor belt. I crawl underneath the line, kicking a couple of empty boxes out of the way, cut my arm on the sharp part of a tape gun.

When the green light gets overhead, I can hear something like a hum, except that it isn't in my ears. I can't hear it. It is my body that is humming.

Then all I see is green.

It feels like the green light is pulling apart my skull. My arms flex and squeeze. I feel a tickling sensation as the green light starts to pull things out of my brain and put other stuff in.

The light starts on the left side of my brain, near the front. It's the part of my brain that the doctors say got hurt real bad in the accident. Other parts got hurt too. But the part that got hurt worst was the... was the...


* * *

... the frontal lobe. I see Dr. Hu, the neurologist, in my mind's eye. "My miracle Drew," she calls me a few months after the accident. "The one who should have died, and now he's walking."

The tickling sensation lasts a few seconds more, then my entire head explodes in a fireworks display.

After a few moments, the pain begins to subside. I float inside the green light for a time. I recollect aspects of myself. My name: Drew Hill. My condition: permanent brain damage caused by impaling my head on a jagged piece of rebar. I had been drunk and me and my buddies had thought it would be fun to break into a construction site.

A new sensation, softer, in my frontal lobe, near... near...


* * *

... near Broca's area in the inferior frontal gyrus.

"Hello," I whisper to the green light. "Are you there?"

No response. Then the sensation in my mind twists, and I move/sidle/flip myself through the green light's raisin-like membrane. I see a thousand cathedrals and a million libraries and a billion stars.

It is

***

My mind shouts hello but the words resonate with the *** no more than the scent trails of ants do with a small boy holding a magnifying glass.

I lie on the ground. Some time passes before I open my eyes to see faces all around, the faces wear expressions of horror.

My right hand, or what was my right hand, comes into view. The green light has grafted the animatronic snowman onto my wrist. My left hand has been twisted into the shape of a baseball. My finger bones trace around like seams, my nails the stitches.

The snowman starts to dance. It doesn't sing, "Deck the halls with balls of holly," however. Instead, it says in a tinny voice, "Hello? Are you there?" It is my voice that speaks.

I open my mouth and discover the green light has removed my teeth, my lips, my tongue, and my vocal cords. I try to tell the faces that I have seen *** . It is so beautiful.

The only words they hear is the snowman calling, "Hello? Are you there? Hello? Are you there?"


THE END


2017 Andrew Kanago

Bio: Mr. Kanago hails from Omaha, Nebraska, where he spends his daytime hours teaching English at a local high school. He has been a fan of speculative fiction ever since his brother forced him to read The Hobbit. His last Aphelion appearance was It's Awful, Either Way in our September, 2015 issue.

E-mail: Andrew Kanago

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