Somewhere Over the Freaking Rainbow - By L.L. Muir


“You’re such an idiot.” Jamison shook his head.

Ray grinned as he watched his paper airplane glide out the glassless window and into the darkness. “You love me.”

Jamison didn’t know whether it was the glow of white paper or his imagination that his eyes followed, arching off to the right, then lodging in a corn stalk twenty feet below the old tree house. He itched to turn on the flashlight, to see if it had landed where he thought, but that would screw up their little stake-out.

The tree was enormous, nearly five feet in diameter, and the ancient clubhouse was so insanely high people forgot it was there. Built thirty or forty years ago, before people knew better than to pound railroad stakes into living trees, a dozen three-foot boards were nailed to the side of the trunk, creating a ladder. Not realizing it had been mortally wounded, the tree hung on to those boards like a dutiful soldier. The gaps between the rungs stretched with each year and little kids could no longer use them.

Not that they would want to; even Jamison hated being up so high.

Another page was loudly ripped from a dusty tabloid.

“Dude!” Jamison groped for the magazine in the dark and pulled it away from the childhood friend whom he’d barely recognized two days before when Jamison had returned to his grandpa’s farm. “I didn’t freeze my butt off ‘til three o’clock in the morning just so you could give us away.”

“Oh yeah. Okay.”

Behind them, Burke began to snore.

“Hey. Hey, wake up. It’s almost time.” Ray thumped on the guy until he stopped snoring and dragged himself over to join the party.

“This better be good, man.” Burke rubbed his eyes and set his chin on the two-by-four window frame. There was no moon, but in the eerie blue light from the stars, the skater beanie hanging off the back of his head made his profile look like an alien’s.

Space was tight, with all three of them looking out the rectangle opening, but at least Jamison was warmer. Colorado in the fall was like Siberia to a guy who’d spent the last five years in Texas.

A door spring creaked from the left, then creaked again, as if the neighbor’s old porch screen had slowly opened and then shut even slower.

“Holy crap,” Ray whispered. His legs started bouncing.

“Relax.” Jamison tried not to get too excited. So someone was up at three a.m. just like Ray had promised. They still had no clue what was planned, only that it was a secret, and maybe a cult thing.

“It’s not that. I have to piss.” Ray’s legs still shook.

“You’ll have to hold it,” Jamison ordered.

“No way, bro. My Dew just hit.” Ray stood up. “I’m going down.”

“Me too.” Burke stood up. “I gotta go too.”

A chill shot up and down Jamison’s spine. If he got busted spying on the neighbors, his mom would kill him. Heck, he’d die of embarrassment all by himself if that hot girl heard about it; either way, he’d be dead. When he started school tomorrow, he wanted to be able to look her in the eye again, not hide from her.

“Just find a bottle,” he pleaded.

“No way. It would overflow.” Ray shuffled toward the exit in the corner of the floor. “I’d arc it out the window, but I might hit my skateboard.”

Burke snorted.

“Okay. But if you’re going down, be quiet. And hurry.”

A few seconds later Jamison was alone. He pulled his hoodie over his head but held it out from his ears, listening for Ray to make too much noise.

A breeze disturbed the field below.

At first, he worried it was his friends, peeing over the fence. Why else would the tree leaves not be moving too? But the rustling came from the ground and grew louder, as if tons of people were walking through the dense drying field.

Jamison turned back to the window.

Tons of people. Holy crap.

Suddenly he’d have given anything to be tucked in bed, completely oblivious to what his grandpa’s freakish neighbors did in the middle of the night. Maybe if he, too, would have needed to pee, he could’ve snuck back into the house instead of sitting in the front row of what he hoped wouldn’t be some sort of ritual sacrifice.

They made movies out of this stuff. A boy witnesses a murder. Boy reports the murder. There is no body. Soon...there is no boy.

Not daring to sit front and center in case the moon suddenly showed up, he stood and moved back,