Arlene and Jenny
Arlene and Jenny were sitting in the lounge area of their thirty-foot Flying Cloud 30RB Twin Airstream camper, in spot number fifteen, at the Lone Fir Resort, in Cougar Washington. The resort was a ten-minute drive from their jobs as Recreation Technicians at the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State. They had just finished their shift and were enjoying a cold beverage. It had been a busy day with record high temperatures. They were exhausted.
Arlene was asking Jenny if she had remembered to fill up the chainsaws with gas when she stopped in mid-sentence.
“Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” asked Jenny.
She put her finger to her mouth. “Shhh.”
“That!” Arlene swiveled her head around, trying to locate the sound.
“What? I can’t hear anything.”
“Listen. I swear I heard something.”
“You’re hearing things. It’s probably the chainsaws still ringing in your ears.”
Arlene gave Jenny a “shut up you moron” face and said, “I think I know the difference between chainsaws and what I heard. This was like a beep or a beep, beep.”
They both stopped moving and just sat there, staring at each other, waiting.
There it was again. A soft beep, beep. It was coming from somewhere in the kitchen.
“See, I told you I heard something!”
“It’s coming from the kitchen!”, said Jenny standing up.
“Why do I know that sound?” Arlene took a second to search her brain. Her eyes suddenly grew wide as she realized where she had heard it before.
“Them?…. Them who? Then it dawned on Jenny as well, “Ohhhhh, Them!” She looked at Arlene, her mouth dropping open, “No way!”
They both sat there staring and smiling at each other in disbelief. “It’s Them!” they shouted in unison, throwing their hands in the air.
They jumped up and moved toward the kitchen. They stopped in front of the sink, not sure exactly where the beeping had come from. They waited to hear it again.
“Where’s it coming from? Where’s the button?” shouted Arlene. “Where did you put it? Hurry before it stops”
Arlene was throwing open drawers and cabinets frantically trying to find it.
“Me? Why should I know where it is? You’re the one that always changes the batteries in the stupid thing. Where did YOU put it?
“We’ve got to get to it before it stops beeping or we’re going to miss the message! WHERE THE HECK IS IT?” she yelled. She yanked open the locker above the stove.
“It’s in here!”
She reached in with both hands, pushing the contents of the locker aside. Plastic bowls and lids spilled onto the floor. She stopped when she felt something different at the very back. She grabbed hold of it and gently pulled out a shoe box with both hands.
“Is that it?” asked Jenny excitedly.
Arlene paused, showing Jenny the box, tilting it slightly so she could see the top. Written, in Jenny’s handwriting were the words BUTTON’S IN HERE.
“Really?” sighed Arlene.
“Oh, yeah, oops. I forgot I put it in there. My bad.”
Arlene gave her the same degrading look as before, ripped the lid off and pulled out a little gray box. It was a small plastic box about two inches by two inches by a half inch thick. It had a small squiggly wire antenna sticking out of the top. It had a red light, which was blinking in unison with the beeping, in the center. On the right-hand side was a red button.
They both stood there for a second staring at the box.
Jenny whispered, “I can’t believe they contacted us after all this time.”
“I know.” whispered Arlene back.
“Hurry! Do you remember what to do with it”, asked Jenny.
“Yeah, I think so.” She turned around and pointed the box in the direction of the TV and pushed the red button.
“Maybe we need to be closer.”
They both moved over to stand directly in front of the TV.
She pushed the button again, harder this time.
“I thought you remembered how to do it?” said Jenny sarcastically.
Arlene did the face again.
She tried banging it against her hand.
She pressed the button.
Jenny said, “The TV. Maybe it needs to be on! Where’s the remote!?
“In the couch cushions! Try between the couch cushions!”
Jenny ran over and slid her hands down between the cushions. “Yes!”
She pointed it at the TV, hit the “On” button and it instantly came to life. The channel 6 weather man’s face popped into view. He was standing in front of a map showing the record high temperatures the area was currently experiencing.
“Try it now!”
Arlene pushed it again.
“OH – MY – GOD!” she yelled.
“Channel three!” yelled Jenny as she pointed the remote at the TV again and stabbed the number three. “Maybe it has to be on channel three!”
The weather man disappeared, and the screen went fuzzy.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP
Arlene tried pushing the button again.
The TV stayed fuzzy.
She yelled, “What the heck is wrong with this thing? She kept hitting the button.
Then, in mid-smack, the light went out and the beeping stopped.
They looked at each other in disbelief when suddenly a loud piercing noise came out of the TV.
“Turn it down! Turn it down!” yelled Arlene.
Jenny frantically searched for the volume button on the remote, found it, and pushed it until the noise became tolerable.
Suddenly, a face flashed onto the screen.
This was no weather man.