Jeremy’s legs grew sore as he sprinted down the familiar path between his home and the elementary school. He could see the flag pole, empty on the weekends, and he slowed down. His eyes scanned the sky, seeking some sort of sign that the thing that had stolen his brother. Even though he knew – he just knew – it would be in the hills behind the school, the empty sky made him doubt himself.
He drew closer to the school, looked around at the empty streets, and then headed down a small alleyway that separated the school from the rest of the neighborhood. A chain link fence surrounded the perimeter of the school. Jeremy followed it to the back playground, where he had spent so much time just yesterday chasing Leslie during recess.
Jeremy made it to the open field behind the school, where the ground started to climb into the hills that looked so brown and deserted, not like during the spring when everything was green and blossoming. It was autumn and the trees were already bare, the grass already browned.
Glancing over his shoulder, Jeremy felt a chill in his spine at the sight of the empty playground. A breeze sent the swings creaking on their chains. He wrapped his arms around his body, shivering slightly as the temperature seemed to drop immediately.
A mechanical whirring caused him to turn back towards the hills, away from the playground. It was then he saw the odd cube-like object hovering beneath a tree only a few yards away. Jeremy stood where he was, suddenly wondering if his brother was somehow alive in the thing that was hardly larger than his head.
A whisper of his name drifted to him in the wind. He knew it was his brother, calling out to him. Telling him not to be afraid. Telling him to come closer.
Jeremy puffed out his small chest and took a step forward. The red light emitting from the red object started to pulsate, slowly. As he drew within ten feet of the hovering object, the mechanical whirring grew louder and he saw a small panel start to open.