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Chapter 5:
The Ride

The road was just as dusty going out as it was coming in. The periodic lumps of basalt spaced randomly in our path echoed throughout the truck. Greg was riding in the back with our space lizard trio. Mike drove and I navigated.

We hugged the back roads, and headed south. Surfacing briefly out of the Cascade wilderness, we discretely took on fuel and supplies at an AM/PM Mini-Market. It was now almost 10:00, and the Sunday drivers had all headed home. Consequently, there weren't any gawkers to worry about.

Our visitors remained below window level in the back as I ran into the store. Since the huckleberries apparently had no adverse effect on the Capthraw, I decided to stick with some fruit juice and berry pies. I got $4.00 worth of "2-FOR-A-DOLLAR" hot dogs, and three large Coke Classics for us humans.

After handing Greg and Mike the goodies, I went over to the pay phone and gave Deke a call. "You have reached West Coast Llama Research . . ." Deke's recorded voice informed me. The strains of Peruvian pan pipe music in the background added that Andean touch.

Before I had time to compose a suitable reply, Deke's voice split in two, with the real time component saying,". . . hello? hello? stay on the line until the message is over . . ."". . . after the beep . . ." BEEEEEEEEP!

"Deke, we have a sick critter, mainly burns and shock." "What kind of critter are we talking about?" Deke replied. Good question!, I thought to myself. "These are SPECIAL critters . . ." I answered, "Can you get a hold of Bob? We're on our way someplace; you got room at Llama Land for three space lizards?"

"What? SPACE LIZARDS??" "I can't go into details now, but once you see what we've got, you'll understand! We'll be there in an hour or so . . ." I answered. ". . . yah sure. see you in a bit. What the hell is go in' on?" He calmly asked. "Remember that fireball last Thursday night? Well it wasn't a chunk of rock!!!"

With that I hung up. I could just picture Deke standing next to his phone with several large question marks hanging above his head like some comic book illustration.

With a full tank and filling stomachs, we headed back into the wilderness. Armed with our "Metzger County Maps" we were able to weave our way south along the western slopes of the Cascades. We popped out again in Jefferson, thriving metropolis of 17 hundred.

The remaining six miles to Llama Land passed quickly, and we pulled up to the front gate a little after midnight. I got out, unhitched the clasp, and swung the large aluminum gate to the side. Mike drove on through and stopped with just enough room for me to swing it closed.

"Llama Land" was the pet project of a retired merchant marine. The guy had built up the largest single herd of Llamas in North America. Deke has served as his chief assistant, as well as concurrently running his own "West Coast Llama Research," developing a comprehensive data base on as many aspects of Llama raising and breeding as possible.

We motored on down the dark drive another quarter mile to Deke's house. Every now and then, the dimly lit figure of a Llama peered at us over the wire fence as we drove on by. The big house was dark, but Deke's mobile home showed the unmistakable sign of life.

I had Mike back the truck up to Deke's covered porch, and hopped out. The door opened, out popped Deke. He was a wiry sort of guy with a medium height and neatly trimmed beard. In a way, he sort of looked like a Llama.

"Check this out . . ." I said as we both approached the rear of the Toyota. I turned the handle, and Greg pulled down the tailgate. "She's still out cold." Greg said. Deke peered in and loudly proclaimed:". . . You weren't kidding! They are space lizards!! You say they were on that meteor that crashed?"

"It wasn't a meteor! It was their car!" I said as FB and Scrawny gingerly jumped out of the car. They were looking around, not knowing what to think. Greg and Scrawny had the translators on, so he explained what was happening. Scrawny relayed the message to FB, who was now eyeing Deke.

"Deke, meet Feather Butt and Scrawny." I said, "They're OK but, Scrawny's sister, got a few burns during their trip to Earth. Her name is Nuzzle Muzzle. Have you got a hold of Bob yet?"

"Yah, he should be here any time." He answered, "Boy is he going to freak! I just told him his services were required, and he said he was on his way. But I think we are going to need more than Bob for this. I have a friend in the veterinarian program at ASU . . ."

"We've got to be very discreet" I said. "Don't worry, this person is just right for the job, believe me!" Just about then, we noticed a pair of headlights snaking towards us, accompanied by the soft crunching of gravel. Bob was here.

He looked just like Deke, only in the next size up. He was carrying his EMT "tool box." "So somebody get hurt?" he casually asked. "You might say that . . ." I started to say as Bob saw the two dudes standing on the porch looking at him. With a sudden "YELP!" he dropped the box and stopped dead in his tracks. "WHAT THE HELL IS THA . . ." he started to say. "SPACE LIZARDS" Deke and I said in unison. "We got another one in the back of the truck." I added, "She's the one who needs your help." Bob picked up his kit and walked around to the back of the truck, all the time eyeing the two dudes.

"I'm going to see if I can get a hold of Dr. Huan." Deke said as went into the house. "You guys want a beer or something?" he asked over his shoulder. Mike and Greg replied in the positive and followed him in.

"Here, hold this . . ." Bob said as he handed me his flashlight. I shined it up onto the roof of the canopy, as Bob climbed in to look at NM's burns. He gently pulled back her left eyelid at the same time pulling out a small penlight. He shined it into her eye, and flashed it on and off several times.

"Yup, looks like shock all right. How did this happen anyway?" He said. Greg came out with a couple of beers. He handed me one and I motioned for the translator. "Here, put this on and ask them." I told Bob as I handed him the headset.

He put it on, and I motioned Scrawny over and pointed to Bob. "How does this thing work?" Bob asked, Scrawny screeched out his reply, which only Bob could understand. "Well, what happened to this one?" He asked the blue clad space lizard, who began to relay to Bob the story of their abrupt departure from "Home".

"Well, the Doc said she'd meet us in her lab in two hours." Deke said walking back out onto the porch, "Why don't you guys come in and tell me what the hell is happening?"

So Greg, FB and I went back into Deke's house to fill him in. Scrawny stayed out and assisted Bob, who was now in the process of dressing the burns with gauze. © 1996 by R. D. Frederick Green Line

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