Ryan sat at his aunt's window in his wheel chair, his broken ankle disabling him for another few days. He looked at Beacon Road and watched as a middle-aged man in a suit appeared and went into the small red house across the street.
Shifting in his wheelchair, Ryan leaned forward and stared at the odd, small red house on the corner across from his aunt's. With a start, he realized that for the last few days he had watched people go into the house. But no one ever came out.
Did people visit the house during the day, and then leave via the back door? Or did they depart at night when he was away from the window? Ryan raised his eyebrows as a young woman came down the street. She went up the walk and without hesitation opened the door and vanished into the red structure. What was going on? Puzzling over the scene, Ryan though to enlist his aunt's delivery boy. Pay him to linger behind the house on the adjacent street to monitor the back door. Ryan's theory was the visitors went in the front and then emerged from the back door. Perhaps a drug thing.
Later that evening, when the boy brought groceries Ryan thought to offer him $20, but he hesitated. The delivery boy would have to loiter on the corner in order to watch the red house back door. Someone might call the police so Ryan concluded not a good idea. A few days later, the cast was off and Ryan was fitted with an ankle brace. He had devised a plan to tackle the riddle across the street.
He was now ambulatory and went out for a stroll, albeit with a limp. Ryan headed south, then crossed at the corner and started back north on Beacon. He spotted a well dressed man coming toward him. Ryan slowed his pace to intercept the man at the front of the red house. Ryan met the man as he turned on the walk to the front door.
"Excuse me," Ryan said politely. "Is this the Morgan residence?" The visitor slowed and swiveled his head, looking at his questioner. To Ryan's shock, the man's face and eyes were utterly blank, no expression at all. The man turned away from Ryan without a reply and marched up the walk and through the front door.
That night Ryan monitored the comings and going to the house across the street. A few comings, but no goings. Eventually, the amateur investigator went to bed, falling into a deep sleep. Ryan had a vivid dream about the red house. He found himself inside the living room, which was a control room with flashing lights and glowing screens. A Roswell-like alien with a large head greeted him, explaining he was the chief engineer and that their scout ship had been marooned on the lot. When Ryan asked for how long, the alien replied they had been there for 70 years. To escape the ship needed human-life energy to propel them back to the mother ship which hovered behind the moon. The engineer reported he now had sufficient fuel and would soon launch. Suddenly, a strange hum began, growing into to a whine and the ship began to vibrate.
Ryan awoke suddenly and sat up. He rubbed his eyes and smiled, then lay back trying to capture the strange dream. The next morning Ryan watched from his window as people continued to drift into the red house. Oddly, there were no more visitors that afternoon. That evening after his aunt had gone to bed, Ryan went out and crossed the street. He went up the walk and approached the door, squaring his shoulders and gathering his courage. He stiffened as he heard a hum that slowly grew in intensity.
And then Ryan entered the red house.
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