Crop Circles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mark, Frankie and Helen want to come up with an idea to put Ryston on the map.

Submitted: July 06, 2016

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Submitted: July 06, 2016

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Crop Circles.

It was Helen's idea originally. Mark and Frankie were trying to come up with something to get the place noticed, to put the area on the map. So far they had come up with nothing that was at all viable.

“We could go with a haunted house,” suggested Mark.

“And whose house could we use for that? There's not exactly an abundance of old gothic houses here, in case you haven't noticed.” Frankie was pretty scornful of that idea.

“We could go with a haunted barn, I suppose, but I don't think that will be so appealing,” laughed Helen.

“Okay, then. Let's hear a better idea from both of you. Come on, Frankie. Spit it out.” Mark didn't like the thought that he was being laughed at.

“How about some sort of fun fair. Perhaps with some sort of theme to it?”

“Frankie, do you have a brain in that head of yours? Where would we come up with the money for that?” Mark enjoyed pouring scorn on that idea. “And a funfair is not exactly something unique. There's hundreds of them, every single year. The whole point was to come up with something.....different.”

Both Mark and Frankie had turned towards Helen. “I'm thinking, okay. Just give me a minute.”

Helen walked off by herself and scanned the horizon, then turned round and walked back.

“Well,” she said. “There's not an awful lot here to work with but how about this....?”

Mark waited. Frankie waited for five seconds. “Come on, Helen. What's this genius idea of yours then?”

“I never said anything about it being genius, but how about....crop circles?”

“Crop circles?” Frankie asked in amazement. “What the hell sort of idea is that?”

“Well, I know it's not totally original but it's not something there's been a lot of lately. And none around here.” Helen felt a need to defend her idea from Frankie's scorn.

“Crop circles,” Mark said, thoughtfully. “You might be on to something there, Helen. Something that could well just work.”

* * * * * * * * * *

The three friends met up again later in the evening. Helen had put more thought into her idea and was bursting to share her thoughts with the others. Mark, it seemed, had been convincing Frankie that it was one worth going into, because they were both now enthusiastic.

“I could try and borrow my Dad's tractor, if that would be any help,” Frankie suggested. “We could put on the mini plough, make a few circles with that?”

“I don't know. Wouldn't that be a bit obvious?” Helen had already thought of that and dismissed the idea but didn't want to put a dent in Frankie's new found interest.

“The tyre tracks would be impossible to cover up. It would be called a stunt, a stupid prank and no one would take any interest at all.” Mark had always seemed to be the leader of the group, the one that always made the final decisions, so Frankie knew the tractor idea had been rejected.

“How big would these circles have to be, Helen?”

“I don't know. They can't be massive, like some of them reported in the past. That would be totally impossible for us to do. But they need to be visible from the sky
otherwise it could be weeks before anyone notices them.”

“Yeah, they'd have probably vanished before anyone even noticed them. Perhaps we should just think of something else,” Frankie commented, hopefully.

Both Helen and Mark turned to glare at Frankie. Helen spoke. “You give up too easily, Frankie. There's nothing we can do that won't require a bit of thought, otherwise some dumb kid would have already done it.”

“Weed Killer!” Mark said. “We could do it with weed killer!”

“Well, yes....” said Helen.

“But I thought we couldn't use the tractor,” said Frankie.

“The sprayers. You know, the big ones you wear on your back. And the best thing is we've all got them just sitting there somewhere at home.” Mark's enthusiasm was really starting to build. “What about the weed killer itself?”

“My dad's just bought a ton of that stuff. He won't notice if some of it goes missing. And, if he does, I'll think of some sort of explanation.” With something definite to contribute Frankie was a lot happier.

“That could work, you know. The only problem is how are we going to be able to walk around and spray in a perfect circle. That's always been part of the mystery. If the circle is not perfect everyone will quickly realise that it's nothing more than a hoax.”

Mark and Frankie both looked thoughtful but before either of them came up with anything, Helen spoke again.

“Tethering! If we put a nail or something in the ground, attach a rope to it and the other end around our waists that could work.”

 “Sort of like a compass you mean,” commented Frankie.

“We'd have to keep the rope at the same tension for the full rotation but it seems like a plausible plan. It will have to be on a very calm night or the wind will blow the spray everywhere.”

“Okay. Well, the forecast is good for the weekend. If we each can sort out the sprayers, some rope and something to fix it to the ground with....And if you can get plenty of the weed killer, Frankie, Helen and I can bring water to dilute it with.”

“One more thing, though. Wear sneakers. We don't want to give the game away by leaving footprints everywhere,” Helen pointed out.

* * * * * * * * * *

They had already selected the perfect site of their crop circles to appear in. It was a large open field which was taking a bit of a risk, but was also essential. You just wouldn't get crop circles appearing on slopes or rocky ground. The aliens were supposed to have superior intelligence, not be bumbling idiots.

It would be possible for them to be spotted from a passing vehicle, if someone happened to look their way, but the road that ran past the field was rarely used and nobody lived anywhere near it.

Mark, Frankie and Helen met up by the hedge they had selected to stow their equipment. It had been hard going getting the water and the weed killer there. None of them realised quite how heavy these things were to carry in any quantity. It had not been possible for them to carry the sprayers at the same time, at least not without risking one of them being discovered missing. Empty, they wouldn't slow down the nights journey so they would be brought then.

Helen flopped down onto the ground, rubbing her arms. “Me and my big ideas,” she muttered.

“Never mind, Hel. Your book bag will seem light as a feather from now on.”

“Thanks for that, Frankie,” she replied.

“So we're definitely on for tonight, then?” Mark asked.

“Yep.” Frankie's initial reluctance had vanished now.

Helen nodded. “It will have to be very late though. Say we meet here at 2am, that should make sure we're not seen.”

Frankie and Mark nodded.

“And, don't forget to wear your sneakers!”

* * * * * * * * * *

The conditions turned out to be perfect. There was no breeze and it was neither too hot nor cold. There was light cloud, enough to dim the light from the moon. Helen, Mark and Frankie each picked a spot far enough away from each other, after filling their sprayers with a strong mixture of the weed killer.

“Okay, we need to work quickly but carefully. And try not to breathe any of this stuff in. At the strength we're using it might floor you.” Mark stood, rolled his shoulders, then hoisted the large container onto his back. He turned to help Helen get hers into position.

“Don't forget, you two, keep that tether tight or you'll lose the circle.”

They moved off in separate directions to begin their creation, each working steadily and in silence.

It was quite a time-consuming task, one that could not be hurried. One missed bit of ground would ruin the whole effect so concentration was essential. They were all committed to this succeeding now.

By the time Helen, Mark and Frankie were completing their circles it was just starting to get light. They were going to have to hurry to get back before they were either seen or missed at home. The job done, there was almost a sense of disappointment that their part was now over.

At the edge of the field the three friends paused and looked back. There was no sign that anyone had been walking through the field, no tell-tale footprints or tracks.

“Do you think it will work?” Frankie asked.

“Sure it will,” Mark sounded really confident.

“I hope so,” Helen said. “It won't take long to find out will it, not at that strength.”

“Early next week we should hear something. Keep your ears open. Any news we let each other know. See you, Monday.”

And the three friends went their separate ways to try to get just a bit of sleep before they had to act like it had just been another normal night. They had to try to push the whole thing out of their minds for now.

* * * * * * * * * *

Monday morning and the school was buzzing with talk of the crop circles. Mark, Frankie and Helen tried to act interested, like it was news to them. They didn't want to draw attention to themselves. Suspicions could be so easily aroused.

Mark approached his friend, Paul, and asked what all the chat was about. “Crop circles! Four of them apparently. Someone spotted them from a helicopter and phoned it in.”

Mark tried to keep his expression neutral until Paul had walked off. “Four circles?” That can't be right, he thought.

Helen already had her mobile out and was frantically scanning websites. “That's what it says here too. 'Four unexplained circles have appeared in a field in Ryston.'

Frankie went to leave the building. “We're going to have to check this out!”

“Are you crazy? We can't just go wandering over there now. Or are you planning on making a press announcement, 'We did three of them!' You might as well stand up in assembly with a placard.” Mark, obviously agitated, stood between Frankie and the door.

“You are right, Frankie. We do need to check it out, but Mark's right too. The whole place will be buzzing with people today. We're just going to have to act normal, be cool, and go out there late tonight. There must be some explanation.” Helen was thoughtful, rather than agitated.

“So, just act normal. Is that it?” Frankie looked sceptical. “I'll try, okay!”

“We'll meet up there at, I don't know......Say midnight,” suggested Helen.

“1 am would be safer. There's not likely to be anybody hanging around there then.”

“Okay, Mark. 1am it is then.” Frankie turned and headed off to class, followed more slowly by Helen.

* * * * * * * * * *

The three friends met up by the spot in the hedge where they had hidden their equipment before. It was a clearer night and they could see that the whole area was taped off. That wouldn't stop them from investigating though. Nobody seemed to be there apart from themselves.

Mark and Frankie climbed over the tape, Helen preferred ducking underneath. There were indeed four, identical to the eye, circles on the ground in front of them.

“Do you each know which is your own?” Mark asked.

“I think so,” Helen replied, before walking forward to the one she believed to be hers. “It is kind of hard to be certain when you don't know which one wasn't put here by us.”

“Were we watched the whole time? Do you reckon someone just came out after we'd gone home and just did exactly the same as us? Because,” said Frankie, “if they did, they'd have had to have brought their own sprayer and stuff. We took ours home with us, remember!”

“How else could this other circle have got here? Unless.....” Mark looked up into the sky, and Helen and Frankie found themselves copying him. There was nothing to be seen.

“Okay.” Helen said. “This one is mine, I'm positive. How about you two? Have you found your own yet.”

Mark and Frankie each walked over to what they decided were their own circles. All three turned to look at the other, the one that had so mysteriously appeared. It didn't look in anyway different.

Mark walked over and looked closer at the ground. The grass seemed to be burnt in exactly the same way as that that they had sprayed. He walked further and stood still in roughly the centre of the circle.

The ground seemed to suddenly tilt, to lurch sideways. There was a loud grinding sound. They all looked upwards again, half expecting to see some sort of space ship above them, only to be confronted by nothing more than sky.

“What's going on?” Frankie yelled.

Get back here, Mark. Quickly!” Helen found herself shaking, almost in tears.

Mark turned towards them and started to run. The circle he was standing in was now spinning, rotating rapidly. He dropped to the ground no longer able to keep standing.

The circle began to shift, not upwards as they had half expected, but down. It began sinking and once the movement commenced the drop picked up speed. By the time Helen and Frankie had managed to crawl forward there was nothing to be seen but a deep dark pit. There was no sign of Mark at all.

And then it was back. The circle of ground fitted perfectly leaving no sign of burnt grass or of any other imperfection. It was as though the fourth crop circle had never been there at all.

And there was no sign of Mark. It was as though the ground had swallowed him, burying him somewhere way underground. Helen and Frankie fell to the grassy surface, hitting it, kicking it. Helen placed her ear to the ground listening for any sound. But there was none. The circle had vanished taking Mark with it.

“What's happened? Where the hell is Mark?” Frankie couldn't take in what he had just watched with his own eyes. It wasn't possible but had to be some kind of a dream. Or maybe it was someone's idea of a more elaborate hoax. That had to be it.

“He's gone,” sobbed Helen. “Mark's gone. Something has swallowed him alive!”

* * * * * * * * * *

When they eventually made their way back to Helen's house, the police were called along with Frankie's and Mark's parents.

Nobody could believe the accounts they were hearing. The ground didn't just do that! The police ordered toxicology tests to be carried out on both Frankie and Helen, both of whom were incoherent.

“You don't believe us do you? You think we killed him or something?” Frankie shouted. “Well, go on and find the body then. We've told you exactly where we were.
You go and dig him up and I'll confess to anything.”

Helen could not say anything at all.

* * * * * * * * * *

So many people went out to search for Mark. So many police officers searched for a grave. They all returned disappointed and empty-handed.

Frankie and Helen confessed to making the circles along with Mark. They hadn't meant any harm but were just trying to put Ryston on the map. They were adamant that they had had nothing to do with the fourth circle that had appeared and then vanished.

Experts were called in to try to come up with some explanation for both the sudden appearance and disappearance of the circle. There was irrefutable proof of its existence after all. It was really clear in both photographic and video footage.

Frankie and Helen continue to wait. They are both hoping for Mark to return. The crop circles that they made are still as clearly visible. Not one blade of grass has regrown.

 

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