Chapter 21

I had just gotten off the expressway and was headed downtown back toward home when the police officer pulled me over.

There was a brilliant flash in the rearview mirror, followed by a whooping siren, and then the rapidly spinning red and white lights.

I considered my options. Trying to outrun the cop was the first thing that came to mind. But then I remembered I had done nothing wrong. If anything, a cop was exactly what I needed right now.

Besides, the traffic light at the upcoming intersection was turning red so I had no choice but to stop anyway.

It was as I pulled the truck over to the curb — the truck that was completely beat to hell, no wonder the cop was pulling me over — that I remembered the shotgun on the passenger seat.

I looked at it quickly, opened my mouth, and muttered, “Oh shit.”

Shut off the engine and slowly step out of the vehicle.” Apparently the officer wasn’t taking any chances after seeing the condition of the truck. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”

I considered my options again. Understood very quickly that I had only one.

I shut the truck off, opened my door, and with my hands raised stepped out onto the pavement.

Now place your hands on the hood and do not move.”

I stepped to the front of the truck, noticing that the hood was quite mangled. I guess in my haste I hadn’t realized just what kind of target it was going to make me.

But this was okay, I thought as I placed my hands on the warm metal. The cop would come and I would tell my story and he would get me into protection.

Except my story would be a problem. You know, what with all the aliens and shape shifters and everything.

The cop had stepped out of his car, was now slowly approaching me. The radio on his belt squawked.

Not moving from my position, I said, “What seems to be the problem, officer?”

The cop didn’t answer. He kept walking, and from the corner of my eye I could see he had his hand on the holster of his gun. When he came within just a few feet, looked inside and saw the shotgun, the beads of shattered glass, he cursed and quickly drew the gun.

“Get down on the ground.”

“What?”

“Down on the ground!” he shouted. “Do it now!”

I pushed away from the truck, keeping my hands raised as I turned toward him. “Officer, please, you have to — ”

“Get down on the motherfucking ground, asshole.”

I wondered briefly how long he’d waited to say that phrase.

“Okay, okay,” I said, and started to lower myself to the pavement, first one knee, then the other. “But please, will you just listen to me?”

The cop wouldn’t. While he kept his weapon aimed at me, he turned his head to speak into the mike Velcroed to his uniform, and that was when I felt the sudden pinprick on my finger.

I looked at the ring that was now glowing, looked back up at the officer who was speaking into his radio but suddenly stopped when he turned his attention back to me.

I was invisible again. I knew it by the way the cop’s eyes widened, by the way his body suddenly tensed. And he wasn’t looking at me like he had before with those cold, hard trained eyes; now he was looking through me.

The radio squawked again, the dispatcher asking the cop to repeat what he’d just said.

The cop stood there, his eyes still wide, his mouth now opened.

I got back to my feet, watching the cop carefully. He didn’t notice a thing.

How much longer the ring would keep me invisible, I didn’t know. All I knew was that right now I was less than two miles away from home.

Turning my back on the speechless cop, his radio still squawking, I started running.

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