Zeroed: New Friends



Here is an excerpt from Zeroes: New Friends:

Daydreaming instead of doing my homework I noticed a branch of the walnut tree just outside my window. The chemical smell drifted through the open window, made my eyes water, and sent me on an internet search.

“Look,” I said to Frisbee, who climbed on my desk to join me. “The internet says the smell is caused by the nuts ripening.” Frisbee sat politely on the edge of my desk, and moved to settle on my math book while I read to him. He curled up and purred.

“I didn’t know walnuts started out green,” I continued. Frisbee purred his agreement. Stroking Frisbee, I was sleepy. I needed to focus on my math homework, but a strong desire to put my head down overcame me. I raised my head and rubbed my eyes, trying to focus. I squinted at the cluster of nuts in front of me, then at my math book with Frisbee on it. I looked up at the branch in front of me. I saw a light blink.

“What was that?” I whispered to Frisbee. “Maybe I should wash my face. I saw a tiny green door open in the front walnut. Look, a tiny man closed the walnut door.” I continued to study the branch and nuts. “Frisbee, there’re more figures gathered on the limb. Look, their faces are dark like the tree branch. Their clothing is green, and they’re wearing brown hats. They’ve boots. They blend with the leaves and stems around the nuts. Am I losing it? Is this new room sending me into a crazy place?” I dropped my head onto my math book, closed my eyes, hoping when I raised my head they would be gone.

I raised my head and looked at the branch once again focusing on the walnut. The man who first stepped through the door had a full gray beard on his brown face and walked a few steps closer to me. He wore a tiny skullcap. I grabbed Frisbee. “Tell me you see them too!” I whispered. Frisbee was starring at the branch in front of us. He made the sound he makes when he is stalking birds. He flicked his tail. “Braghk.”

“Okay, good,” I said. “You see them, too.” I continued to hold Frisbee who was now straining against my hands. He wanted to move to the window ledge, but I stopped him

“Braghk, Braghk,” Frisbee continued, crouching down leaning forward.

The tiny men stood and looked back at me. A whisper grew among the beings. It started small and became a distinct hiss.

“Fifteen minutes until lights out, Mason,” my mother called from the hall. The beings scattered among the nuts and leaves.