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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?"
© 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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