Last Flight of the Sinister Drone
March 26, 2014
Max, our half-grown German Shepherd, put up a howl.
Unusual for him.
Especially at this time of night – midway through the ten o’clock news.
He usually had had his late-evening run about the back yard, circling it three or four times at full speed.
Then calming down beside me, ready to be petted.
Followed by his evening feeding.
And back into his fenced dog run, where he would settle into his large, wooden dog house for a long night’s sleep.
Oh, now and then, a possum or a raccoon or an armadillo would drift up from the creek that runs through the back of our property and Max would sense it and bark for a while until the varmint moved on.
But Max’s response to whatever was out there – edging into and violating his space, his territory – was different this night.
Max was especially upset.
His bark was more intense, more pronounced.
We went to check on Max.
His barking grew louder.
We opened the gate to his dog run.
Max raced out, like a scared calf out of a chute at a rodeo.
But he did not chase after some varmint, as he sometimes had done in the past.
He ran to the middle of the back yard, abruptly stopped, looked up, whining and whimpering.
Max stood and stretched on his hind legs, pawed at the sky with his front legs, as if desperately trying to grab something.
We stood behind Max, tracking his line of sight upward.
What did Max see?
Thanks to the backyard guard light, we caught sight of what had sent Max into a frenzy.
Couldn’t believe what was there.
A miniature drone.
Looked like a toy helicopter.
Hovering, maybe 25 or 30 feet above.
We had read about such drones. Heard about them. Seen television and computer videos of them.
Read, heard, watched videos of their growing use.
First, in war.
Then their domestic use by governments.
Including our own municipal government.
Then by businesses.
And then by individuals.
More recently by brainy high school kids, college students.
Those who compete for cherished prizes at science fairs.
We looked at the drone.
It seemed to be staring – maybe glaring — back at us.
Intently watching us.
Sizing us up.
We wanted to get a rope, lasso it, pull it down.
Easier said than done.
No experience in lassoing.
There has to be a way to bring the drone down.
Then came an a-ha moment.
The little wife has a backyard rock garden.
Surely she could spare a few small stones from that rock garden.
And in grade school we were a fairly accurate skipper of stones.
Could skip stones across ponds with the best of them.
Thinking back to my military artillery training, we zipped one stone above the drone.
Zipped a second stone below the drone.
With those two “readings” to help establish accuracy, we now were ready to set our sights on, zero in on the middle – where the drone was.
Our third stone was uncannily accurate.
Smacked the drone right in its mid section.
Disabled, it drifted to the ground.
Max circled it, barking, barking, barking with ever-increasing intensity.
The intrusive drone was ours.
But why was the drone there?
Had it just gone astray?
Drifted into our yard?
Or was it sent there for some sinister purpose?
Intentionally, evilly spying on us?
Monitoring our computer, our telephone?
Eavesdropping – NSA-like — on our computer postings, telephone conversations?
A high-tech, stealthy Peeping Tom?
Would some government secret agent or some armed, Black Hawk Down-type military man quickly come to arrest us, haul us away, imprison us for capturing, damaging, stealing government property?
Or, would some young, science fair hopeful just come looking for his prized, experimental invention, hoping to get it back?
We picked up the now lifeless drone, rushed it to the back yard storage house, put it inside, locked the door.
Max looked perplexedly at us, his eyes telling us we had taken away his new-found toy and he wanted it back. Now.
We returned Max to his dog run, closed the gate behind him.
We went to bed. Tried to sleep. No luck.
The drone had robbed us of our slumber.
Stolen our feeling of well being.
Then . . .
We bolted up in bed.
Realized we had been sleeping this whole time.
So we were now wide, wide awake.
The result of this scary dream about a drone.
Guess we had been reading, hearing too much lately about drones.
Those initially used by the military.
Those now edging into domestic use.
Not to worry.
Ours was only a nightmarish dream.
Surely such drones come only in the name of peace, if they come at all.
Small drones would not really come to invade our space, spy on us, listen to our most private of communications, fetch information that would allow for stealing of our identities, rob us of our comfortable feelings of well being.
Cause our Max to kick up a fuss.
No, no, never.
Now would they?
So we can relax.
Just turn over and go back to sleep.
Soundly, blissfully back to restorative, reassuring sleep.
Secure in the knowledge that ours was only a nightmarish dream.
That such drone invasions would not, could not happen in real life.
So we are safe – safe as houses – and free to drone on and on and on.
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please click the book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.