The Martians in our Kitchen
2011 by Steven Hunley
want realism? I’ll give you realism.”
1953 The War of the Worlds movie came out. Later they showed it on TV. It
started way past my bedtime and there was no way on Earth or Mars
that my mother was going to let me watch it. I went to bed at 8:30 as
usual. But I didn’t sleep.
tossed and turned. Then from under my door I heard sounds of screams
and the buzz of the Martian’s death-ray. I heard about
death-rays when watching Flash Gordon. Ming the Merciless had one.
Death-rays were tuff. Death rays were hot. I wanted a death ray.
Every kid on the block wanted a death ray. They were so much cooler
than cap guns.
snuck from my bed to the door and cracked it. I could see the TV
from my angle just over my dad’s stocking feet propped up on a
recliner. There were the Martians with their beady little eyes! Oooh
they looked scary! Little beady-eyed Martian monster fellows! All
squiggly of body they were, and slimy as well. I hated and feared
them. They made quite an impression. Their image was going to haunt
me forever, I just knew it.
two months later I was sleeping in my bunk bed. There was no one in
the top bunk, just me in the bottom. Spoiled rotten, that’s
what I was. Whining would get you anything if you did it enough. Even
a bunk bed. You just had to be careful. In my house too much whining
could get you slapped. The house had just been remodeled. My bedroom
was turned into a kitchen, the house was topsy-turvy. I still wasn’t
use to it, especially at night.
was summer and my parent’s bedroom was upstairs. Now we had an
upstairs. I woke up in the middle of the night. Not from a bad
dream, probably from something I ate.
I turned over and faced the door that opened into the kitchen. I was
ready to drift back off when I noticed something. Something eerie. Two
sets of sparkles across the kitchen were blinking at me like
they were. Maybe they were eyes. They weren’t too far from
floor. Whoever was watching me was short. Short and watching. Then
suddenly it hit me who they could be.
were the beady-eyed Martians! Oh my God! Beady-eyed Martians were
watching me while I slept! So I did what I did best when slimy
beady-eyed Martians were watching me.
began to sweat.
froze and sweat at the same time. This went on for ages. Then I got
up my nerve. I poked my hand from the covers. They kept watching.
Every strange moment aflame with new threats and new thrills. Alien
beady-eyes were blinking out there in the darkness.
having trouble dealing with earth’s atmosphere."
That’s what I
I inched my hand out
farther and onto the wall just below the light switch. It stuck there
at first and didn’t move. I knew if they caught me moving it
would get their attention, so slowly, very slowly, one inch at a
time, I crept up the wall. Kind of like The Beast With Five Fingers
that I’d watched on Shock Theater last week, the one that
strangled Peter Lorre at the end. It was a fear-charged journey into
unknown realms of mystery, that’s what it was.
Up I inched, closer
and closer to the switch. Cold rivulets of sweat trickled down my
Finally I was there
at the switch. Snap, it was on! A rectangle of light poured into the
kitchen from my room to reveal...
Absolutely nothing! Absolutely nothing at all!
they?” I asked myself.
I got up and went in
and looked around. Nothing.
There was nothing
else to do but go back to sleep. I hopped back in bed, turned out the
light and covered myself up and turned towards the wall. Then after
a while, while trying to figure it out I had the strangest sensation.
Someone was watching me. I turned over. Believe it or not the
Martians were back. Clever slimy beady-eyed Martians anyway.
I occurred to me
that anyone who could have a death-ray could probably make themselves
invisible at will. So now I was in trouble. Should I make a mad
dash up the stars to my parents room? What if there were more
Martians up there and they’d taken my parents hostage? What
then? Clever slimy beady-eyed Martians anyway! Always taking over
the world. What could I do? I remembered what they said in the
bombs. They’re like toys against them!”
hearing noises too. But it’s not Martians. It’s my mom
wakened from me mucking about in the kitchen. She’s in her
underwear and this whole thing is getting a little embarrassing.
what’s the matter?”
Martians in the kitchen, Mom, that’s what the matter.”
She gives me a look.
I’d seen it before.
see,” she says, and turns on the kitchen light. We both look
just your imagination,” she tells me. “Now go back to
Ok, so I do, but as
soon as she turns off the light there they are. The little beady
blinking eyes from Mars.
I scream up the stairs, “They’re back.”
She comes back down
but in crossing the kitchen she turns on the light. Nothing there. I
explain my theory about their ability to turn invisible but she’s
having none of it. She’s too practical for that and besides
she’s from Missouri the show me state. She has to be shown.
“OK she says,
She turns off the
light. Nothing from her angle but from mine, there they are.
She scoots down and
sees. She walks into the kitchen. She follows the angles and figures
it out. My Mom was always good at figuring things out.
I come there.
she says, pointing at the pilot lights on the stove. “They
flicker when the wind comes in through the window. You can see them
through the crack between the stove top and the counter.”
I nod my foolish
kid-head up and down. She tucks me back in bed and returns upstairs
and I can barely hear my father trying to muffle his laughter.
The thing is, after
that I had the Martians any time I wanted them. I could turn over and
see them in the kitchen. Little beady-eyed Martians anyway. My little
Martian friends were always watching my back. Sometimes I miss them.
Never let you kids
watch The War of the Worlds. That’s my advice to you.
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