The night had been quiet for almost twenty five years now. The nearby factory had shut down twenty five years ago from asbestos and danger risks. The humid Texas air had allowed the metal within it to rust, decaying as fast as the sick workers who gave their lives to their jobs in that place. Its shut-down had allowed the sun to rise once more. The thick smog covered the sky and smothered the surrounding life.
The trees had come back to life and the animals had returned to their rightful homes just as Paul Faile had enjoyed restful sleep through the years.
The creaking of the old factory had always irritated his father growing up. Distinct memories of a lifeless world from the polluting smog blurred all life he hardly knew he grew up around and trapped a sense of gloom grew an inspiration. His childhood fascinations with zombies and science fiction genres came from this foggy imprisonment, seeking an adventure beyond the fog.
What everyone around him considered to be imagination was actually vague awareness. The contents of the factory was said to be production of steel products, but no one ever knew anyone who worked there to confirm. The smog everyone thought to be the usual pollution a factory would produce was the fragile strands of fibers of reality weakening, coming off as a ghostly smoke instead of a condensing solid form like the entire world around it.
Paul slept in his bed one night. The hooting of owls and gentle rustles of animals stepping on fallen twigs and leaves were the only sounds in the night, just as it had been for those twenty five years Paul had been listening to. A loud creak suddenly rag through the night, startling the animals. It awoke everyone.
Paul sat up, half awake. It was the same awake in which he got his best writing ideas for the science fiction novel he had halfway completed on his nightstand.
He tumbled out of bed. At first, he was confused at the sound. Soon, the memory began to return and he recognized it as the familiar screech of a machine being operated inside the factory. The same feelings and thoughts he had from his childhood came back. The fascination of what was beyond the fog returned, guessing zombies or aliens hid wherever the animals went.
The screeching echoed once again. Any animals that didn’t run away the first time did so this time. Paul then knew it wasn’t right. There was something odd about it to him. He knew he had to check it out.
* * *
Paul made his way to the factory. A simple mask covered his face to protect him from breathing in asbestos and particles. He held his trusty firewood chopping axe in one hand and a tool box in another. To his convenience, water had dribbled over part of a wall thanks to the gutter above having been dislodged from the base and pouring the water over the wall. It rusted the wall much faster than the rest of the factory.
More creaking sounds came from inside. Smoke started puffing from the top as though it were in business once again. As Paul touched the rusty wall, he felt it vibrating gently from machines inside moving about.
He set his toolbox next to him and swung his awe to the wall. Every swing was for the animals, the irritation his father had towards the factory, for his mother’s sadness for not getting to see the wildlife she missed so dearly, for the people complaining of how ugly it was, for how much it polluted the skies. The final swing was for the curiosity he had always wanted to satisfy.
Light shined through the opening he made. In the darkness of the night, it was too bright to see inside. Once his eyes adjusted, Paul looked inside.
The light inside of the factory came from florescent lights on the ceiling. The walls were compressed super computers with people in white uniforms typing form holographic keyboards. Paul forgot to move; he stood stunned and confused. He began to wonder if it was a dream.
A few people stopped their work to look at Paul.
“Someone’s here!” One of the men shouted at a woman in a slightly more detailed white uniform. A few others joined in at once, confusing the words too much to tell what exactly they were saying.
The woman approached Paul. Her bleach blonde hair was pulled and slicked back into a high pony tail. A woman who was almost identical fallowed behind her. Her hair was shorter and appeared a little more gray than blonde.
“You there. Your name is Paul Faile, correct?” the blonde one asked as she held her arm up to him. A skinny beam of light shot at him and blinked a few times until it stopped.
“Yes ma’am,” he answered nervously, “and who are you?”
“We’ve been looking for you. Our space traveling technology has tracked us down to where we presume the one who is to find our prophet might be. Glad you came.”
“Your prophet? Space travel?”
“We refer the travel between molecules and different densities as space travel, not necessarily alien travel from galaxy to galaxy. We aren’t humans per say, but we are natives a generation back.”
She handed him a note with coordinates and simple map on a piece of paper.”Please, go to the place this shows and find what we are looking for.”
The fascination Paul felt kept him from asking or saying anything. It was inspiration for his writing, a childhood dream come true and helping them was probably the only way to return the world to the quiet night the wildlife needed.
* * *
He slowly approached the designated place. Rustling from something nearby started. Paul hid behind a nearby tree, just in case it was a wolf or a bear. In the darkness, he saw the silhouette of a person huddled over themselves. They appeared to curl over and shuffle around and get up to leave. Once they were gone, Paul snuck over to see what was left behind. By his feet was a bundled up baby, fast asleep in old blankets.
He picked up the baby, wondering who the person was that left it and is the baby was what the woman wanted. He checked the paper to be sure. The mark of where the thing they wanted was exactly where the baby was left.
As worried and curious as he was about the person who left it, he allowed himself to put it off and make his way back to the factory with their prophet.