Cannibals Shrink Elvis' Head
Phillip Nolte

It started out as a joke. I mean, we were just going to have a little fun. You know, do something weird. That, and we thought we had them cold this time.

"Them" is the folks that publish those idiotic tabloid newspapers. Every now and then someone will bring one of them in to work. You know the ones, they're right beside the checkout counter in the grocery store. That's right, the ones with headlines like "Vampire Mummies Repel Space Alien Invasion" or "Tammy Faye's New Miracle Diet." The stories are always about odd things that were supposed to've happened. Trouble is, they always happen in foreign countries or in little towns that you never heard of like Slapshot, Wyoming or something. Not this time. This time they'd made a mistake; they'd picked a real town.

It was Raymond who pointed it out. "Hey guys, look at this! There's two brothers in Absaraka, North Dakota who have a space alien ship in their barn!"

I replied to that with something very intelligent; something like: "Huh? Bullshit!"

"I'm not kidding," he said. "Here, read it yourself."

"Bachelor Brothers' Barn Houses Space Alien Ship," I read aloud. "Trygve and Einar Carstenson found the strange craft in an abandoned field near their farm. 'We could barely lift it on to our trailer with the endloader,' says Einar. Well-known Yugoslavian experts say it probably came from Rigel." I could barely keep from laughing as I read it. "Shit!" I said. "Absaraka? That's only 30 miles from here."

It was Neil who had the next thought. "Let's drive out there and see if that farm even exists. What the hell, we could grab a twelve- pack to make the trip go a little faster. It won't take an hour both ways. Come on guys, what d'ya say?" Neil could be very persuasive.

"Yeah, let's do it!" We might have been a chorus. It was kind of a slow day anyway. We left Knutsen to mind the store. He didn't like it much, but it was his turn.

Fifteen minutes later we were in Neil's Caravan out on Interstate 94 and we were all on our second beers. ZZ Top was blaring on the stereo. Draper had brought the newspaper and was reading it out loud to a very appreciative audience: "Milkman Bites Dog. Ninety- year-old Woman Gives Birth to Twins. Love Boat Attacked by 150-Foot Shark." We were all in high spirits when we took the Wheatland exit.

"Absaraka, five miles," announced Neil.

We went to the post office-grocery store to get directions to the fictitious farm. We were surprised to find out that there were two Carstenson brothers who had a farm about four miles out of town. The guy at the post office said they were a couple of bachelors and that they were kind of weird. I didn't say anything but I thought the whole town was kind of strange.

Five minutes later we pulled up to the mailbox at the end of a long winding farm road. "Trygve & Einar Carstenson," it read. You couldn't see the buildings from the road, there were too many trees and too much brush.

"Well, we've come this far," said Neil. "Let's go."

The road was nearly half a mile long. When we got to the farm, we found a ramshackle three-room house and some dilapidated farm buildings. In one corner of the yard was a rust-red Studebaker pickup truck. It was a nineteen forty-something, I wasn't sure. It looked like junk, with a cracked windshield and one staring headlamp.

Draper was the youngest so we made him go to the door. He knocked a couple of times but there was no answer. We were about to call it a day when the old geezers surprised us all by coming up on us from behind the machine shed.

"What the hell do you sumbitches want?" said one of them. I guessed it was Einar.

Old, grizzled, and Norwegian they were, and not in the least bit friendly.

"We came to see the spaceship," I managed to squeak out.

Trygve was holding a double-barreled shotgun!

"Yew ain't from some Gad-damned lib-ral newspaper are ye?" said Trygve.

"No, we're from Fargo!" said Raymond. Brilliant, Raymond, brilliant!

"There ain't no Gad-damned spaceship here and git to hell off our property!"

So much for country hospitality! We took his advice and "got to hell out of there!"

We had finished our twelve-pack and were in need of another. We were also getting hungry, so we stopped in Casselton for a bite. Half an hour later, we were leaving the restaurant. It was Draper who noticed them first.

"Well I'll be go-to-hell!" he said. "Look at this, you guys."

Rattling and smoking down the main street of the little town came an apparition. An honest-to-god, rust-colored, forty-something Studebaker pickup truck. In it were two other apparitions. Or fossils, if you prefer. Sure enough it was old Trygve and Einar (which was which?), come to town. The ever-devious Neil was the first to grasp the significance of the event.

"Wonder who's at the farm?" he mused.

"Shit, probably nobody!" said Raymond.

"What say we go back and have a look around?" said Neil.

I don't know if any one of us really wanted to but no one wanted to be accused of not having any nerve either. I guess I was the most cautious. "Christ!" I said. "That old son-of-a-bitch had a shotgun!"

"Well he can't hardy hit you from Casselton, can he?" Neil replied. That ended the argument. Neil's good at saying the right thing to end an argument. He's brave, too. When we got back to the Carstenson farm he showed his courage by offering to stay in the car with the motor running while the rest of us did the snooping. It was Raymond and I who found the ship! No shit! Believe it or not, Ripley! It was in one of the old buildings that had a big door on one end.

"Jesus, would you look at that!" said Raymond, his voice rising with excitement. "That thing is gorgeous!"

No doubt about it, it was beautiful. Long and slender and smooth, it was sleekly aerodynamic and obviously intended for use in atmosphere. It was much smaller than I would have expected -- it must have been some kind of scout ship. It simply couldn't have come all the way from Rigel. It was only about forty feet long and made of some kind of totally unfamiliar metal or plastic. It was sky-blue and shiny. Raymond and I looked at fun-house reflections of ourselves in the side of it.

Raymond made a funny face. I slapped his shoulder.

"Cut that out!" I said. "This is an alien spacecraft! It should be treated with dignity! Jesus, can't you ever be serious?"

The little craft was beautiful, but it showed the after-effects of one hellacious impact. One of the "wings" was bent and torn and the nose and bottom were covered with dirt, like it had landed in a swamp or something. There was an obvious hatch on one side. From the way the mud was caked on the seams of it, it had not been opened. The way the little ship was damaged we had to assume that its occupant(s) were dead. We were just about to get a closer look when we heard the horn of the Caravan honk and Draper screaming at the top of his lungs. We high-tailed it for the van.

Trygve and Einar had come back from town. Hell hath no fury like a pissed-off Norwegian farmer! Fortunately, all they had was that old Studebaker truck and we had a head start. Neil has a couple of dents and one broken window on the back of his Caravan from the shotgun blast, but it could have been worse.

Within a day there was an Air Force barrier thrown up a mile around the house. No one goes in or out. We don't know what to make of it. Trygve and Einar must have gone into town to call them.

One thing that really irks me is that no one thought to bring a camera. One lousy picture and we all could have been rich and famous!

Well, we won't be caught napping this time. We're on our way to Clear Lake, Iowa to visit a Miss Nellie Rawlings, RR 2. It seems that the large oval rock she was using as a doorstop on her hen house turned out to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex egg. Hatched into a hungry little needle-toothed monster. She says it ate a bunch of chickens and her cat. By God, we're gonna get this one on film!

Phillip Nolte was one of the founding editors of InterText.

InterText stories written by Phillip Nolte: "Direct Connection" (v1n1), "Slice of Mind" (v1n4), "Cannibals Shrink Elvis' Head" (v2n2), "Neuterality" (v2n5).

InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 2, Number 2 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1992 Phillip Nolte.