Country and The Rock
Genre: Middle Grade Sci-Fi Fantasy
Editor: Tanja Cilia
Line Editor: Susan Davis
Cover Designer: Kaytalin Platt
Twelve-year-old Sean West, also known as Country, sees an explosion of light and finds clues that lead him to Clicker, a young alien, who wants to know what it’s like to be a boy from Earth.
Country and his friends show Clicker all kinds of Earth-boy fun and Clicker teaches them about planet, Sory, in the Whirlpool Galaxy.
They discover keeping Clicker a secret from others isn’t so easy. Not only are the boys thwarted by Country’s sister but by the local sheriff, the FBI, and some thieves from another planet, Venatici.
The creature’s unblinking eyes stared deep into mine. We stood by the Clubhouse for what seemed a lifetime. His hair was combed back, revealing his forehead, a throbbing red area that resembled the inside of a fish’s gill. Strips of skin separating the gill-like areas moved rhythmically.
In every other way the creature appeared human—except that the look in his eyes gave you the same feel-good sensation you get when you hold a baby puppy. He took a step toward me, holding my gaze. Mason rounded the corner of the Clubhouse, coming right behind the creature.
I wanted to shake my head to warn Mason because he could only see the back of the creature. Mason wasn’t one for following rules. But he did follow one rule and made sure everyone else did too, the rule of the Clubhouse: No Outsiders!
The creature stopped. He reached out to me.
I’m not sure what set Mason off, but he tackled the stranger. They tumbled, rolled, and came to a stop with Mason on top, pinning the creature to the ground. Mason’s eyes grew wide. He screamed and did the crab walk backward, belly up, away from the thing on the ground.
The three of us seemed suspended in time.
“Who…what’s that?” Mason screamed still inching backward.
I whispered, “Might be a Spaceman.” My knees were jelly, and my hands were sweating.
Mason grunted and moved even farther away from the creature.
The alien stood up. He made strange noises. Click, Squeal, Click, Squeal. He brushed himself off, squared his shoulders, and said in English with an almost adult voice, “May I go in?” He pointed at the Clubhouse.
Mason didn’t speak.
I nodded my permission. He can talk like us.
As he walked he gathered his hair and pulled it back. The creature stepped around to the front of the Clubhouse. We heard the door creak.
“What do we do now?” Mason asked, getting up.
That’s when we heard the dirt bike approaching.
We raced to the front of the Clubhouse. Mason ran to the bike and grabbed the handlebars while the bike was still in motion. The force of his action nearly tipped Colt over and jerked Mason to the ground.
Colt put the kickstand down, pulled his helmet off, and said, “What’s wrong with you guys?”
“An alien’s in the Clubhouse,” I said.
Mason stood breathing heavily and said, “He means a creature from some other planet. That’s what he means.”
Colt had no time to react because Miguel walked up the path toward the Clubhouse.
Mason motioned for him to hurry.
“What’s the deal? I know you missed me, but I’m coming,” said Miguel.
“No, no—you’re not going to believe this,” Mason said.
“You didn’t miss me? I brought a snack,” Miguel said walking to the Clubhouse door with a plastic grocery bag hanging from his arm.
“Don’t open that door. Country let a space guy go in there.” Mason’s voice shook. The scraping of chairs on the floor brought us all to attention.
“You guys are loco,” Miguel said as he backed away from the door.
“What do you mean space guy? And don’t say someone from outer space,” Colt said, rubbing his hands on his pant legs.
We huddled together, inching farther from the Clubhouse.
“Remember yesterday?” I started, “well, maybe that guy in the Clubhouse has something to do with that.”
We all turned as we heard the door squeak open. I heard gasps and running, but stood my ground.
“Please, come in,” the alien said.
“Get away from there, Country,” Colt hollered.
I turned to see the guys crouched behind bushes at least fifty feet away. They looked scared, really scared. I should have been feeling the fear their eyes showed.Mason was tough, usually I felt like a wimp around him. But I was feeling quite serene about it all.
“There are some questions. Please enter,” the creature said.
Questions—I had a few of my own. He didn’t look or act dangerous.
I went into the Clubhouse.