Robot Bones

(The following story was written in a single session, and was inspired by an image posted to Facebook. I saw it Friday, and said I was going to write a story that weekend. The following was finished around 1 am Monday morning – close enough, in my opinion.)

“Why do you make so many wind chimes, Grampa Bill?”

 

Bill stopped and looked down at his grandson. Nathan was six years old – going into 1st grade next year! – and growing like a weed. A breeze drifted by and ruffled Nathan’s hair, as well as setting all the wind chimes in the back yard to tinkling and clanging.

 

Bill turned to look squarely at Nathan, adjusting his footing on the ladder to steady himself in the process. “Well,” he began, “it’s something to do to keep me busy. Not much work to do around the farm these days with the fields being rented out. Besides…” He paused to fish a pipe out of his shirt pocket and clenched it between his teeth. He continued: “There’s a secret about them. Do you want to know what it is?”

 

Nathan’s eyes lit up, and he nodded quickly, saying “Yes! I do, I do!”

 

Bill grinned, and stepped down a rung on the ladder. He glanced over at the house, where Nathan’s parents were still saying goodbye to his wife Mary. He nodded and leaned in closer to Nathan. In a hushed voice, he said: “The secret is that these chimes are made from robot bones. I hang ’em up like this to warn them robots not to come around trying to invade the farm again.”

 

Nathan gasped. “Do they work?”

 

Bill shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I haven’t seen any around lately. Maybe they got the hint after the last time.”

 

A look of concern flickered across Nathan’s face. “What if they try to invade our house?”

 

“Ohhhhh, I wouldn’t worry about that.” Bill shook his head. “I’ve only seen them around here. They don’t seem to want to bother with the city – too much noise and traffic, I think.” Nathan smiled and nodded.

 

“But I tell you what. You can have this one just to be sure, okay? Have Dad hang it up in the back yard in the apple tree.” He untied the chime that was attached to the ladder and handed it to Nathan. Nathan shouted out an “Okay! Thank you, Grampa!” and reached up to receive the chime. It rang and clattered as he bundled it up in his arms and ran off to show his parents.

 

 

Bill waved as the car pulled out of the driveway. He could see the chime hanging up in the back seat, with Nathan happily poking at it, as they drove away.

 

He smiled, turned, and began walking back to the house. It was getting late, and supper would be ready soon. As he reached the back door, he heard a familiar noise from behind the barn – a long, hissing “pop” sound – followed by a flash of blue light as a trans-dimensional portal opened.

 

Bill sighed. He opened the door and shouted up the stairs: “Mary! Sounds like more of them! Fetch me my extra box of slugs, I’m almost out!” He then retrieved a double barrel 10 gauge shotgun that sat behind the door, along with a bandolier of shotgun shells that hung on the coat hooks behind it. He closed the door behind him, slung the bandolier over his shoulder, and grabbed an axe that was leaning up against the house. He tucked the axe into his belt as he began making his way towards the barn.

 

As he walked through the yard, he swiped the barrel of the shotgun through one of the wind chimes, setting it to ringing and clattering. He heard a robotic voice call out: “Yes, we hear you, human! Is that sound meant to frighten us?”

 

Bill sighed and opened the break action on the shotgun, checking that it was still loaded. “That was the idea,” he muttered, as he closed it again and continued walking. “Maybe you’ll get the point finally. Fourth time’s the charm, after all.” He ran the barrel through a few more chimes as he walked.

 

 

The sounds of gunfire and shrieking mechanical monsters echoed across the fields as the sun set behind the trees. Dinner would have to wait tonight.