Puff by Phil Temples

A pair of farm yokels is disturbed by an unidentified flying object hovering around their cattle barn; by Phil Temples.

It's 9:30 in the evening. I put Sally to bed over an hour ago, and now I'm standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes. Harold is in the study foolin' around with his model airplanes or talkin' on his ham radio or some such.

I look out the window and admire the pasture, and the stars. It's a moonless night. The Milky Way appears as a brilliant vertical swath painted across the canvas sky. Suddenly, my attention is drawn to a bright light that appears out near the barn.

It's another damn yufo.

This one is about fifty feet tall and ten feet across, mostly dark green, with pulsating pink and yellow triangles that radiate off the side like a dragon's spine. I'm calling this yufo "Puff." I give names to all the yufos that I see. I name all of our farm animals, too. I can't help it.

Puff is hovering over the stalls. No doubt he's looking for more livestock to suck up. Good thing we put the cows in the barn earlier. We lost my favorite heifer last month to a yufo. That one resembled a big Rubik's cube, with alternating square patterns that shifted as though some invisible giant twisted and turned it in midair. I called it "Rubie." I know what Rubie wanted with Betsey. You'd a thought the aliens would have mammalian physiology all figured out by now, what with all the reports of mutilated animal carcasses deposited across the county. But I reckon not.

"'Nuther one?" Harold has crept silently into the kitchen; he's standing behind me.

"Yep. Hope the Holsteins'll be okay."

Harold wraps his big farm paws around my waist. He lets out a sigh. "A-yup."

Yufos usually tend to stay out of enclosed areas. I say usually but not always. The other night, Jeremiah Winston set a trap for one in his barn. He left the barn door open, and tied up a young ewe in one corner. Then he rigged a shotgun to a couple of trip wires in hopes of blasting the yufo to smithereens. But the thing was too clever for ole' Jeremy. It kinda slid in sideways, in betwixt and between the wires. It sucked up that poor little sheep quicker than you could spit, and then it blasted off for parts unknown. Jeremy was so mad he was cussin' up a blue streak. It was actually funny the way he told it, but I didn't let on. It wouldn't a been polite. I know what it's like to lose an animal.

As Harold and I watch Puff hover, we hear a car pulling up our gravel driveway. Then, we hear a second car. Then, another. And another.


Yufo tourists. They're mostly city folk. Been here all summer. Most of em's been staying at the Sunset Motel, but the university kids have a makeshift campground on the Rogers farm ten miles down the road. They have their hi-tech yufo-detectin' equipment set up there. Harold says they sniff at the ether with their fancy rotating parabolic antennas until they find a yufo. Then they hightail it to the last known coordinates. Harold understands that radio stuff; I don't. Anyway, they got a bead on this particular yufo and now they're here.

We both run to the front door, but Harold wins the race. He goes out on the porch and yells at them, "Hey! You're trespassin' on private property!"

The closest one, a twenty-something kid with a scraggly beard and long hair, pays no attention to Harold.


The kid is gesturing to his fellow passenger - an older, plump fellow - and at Puff. I make the plump fellow out to be a professor type.

Big deal, I think to myself. Like you never seen a yufo before?

Scraggly Kid's friends pile out of the car. They open trunk lids and remove boxes of equipment. It looks like they've dragged half their camp with them. Scraggly Kid charges up the driveway toward the barn and Puff, followed in hot pursuit by Professor Guy and eight other folk, each lugging big containers.

"Not good 't all," remarks Harold.

"A-yup," I agree. We both step off the porch and watch the spectacle from a safe distance.

Puff indulges the group by stayin' put while they set up their tape recorders and video recorders and parabolic antennas and such. Then, as if on cue, Puff starts flashing different lights off his spine: first red, then violet, then lemon meringue, followed by chartreuse. I think Puff is trying to talk to them. After a minute, Professor Guy must be thinkin' the same thing, cause he tells a girl student to start recording the different colors and duration of the flashing patterns to see if it's some kind of "code."

Professor Guy plugs some sort of fancy, multi-colored light into a laptop computer. He points the light at Puff, and then he pushes a button on the computer.

Suddenly, all sorts of flashy lights start goin' off in both directions.

Clearly, Professor Guy is sayin' somethin' to Puff, and Puff is sayin' somethin' to Professor Guy. They're talkin' up a storm. From the look on his face, I'd say Professor Guy hasn't the foggiest clue as to what they're sayin' though.

After a few minutes, Puff stops communicating. Professor Guy turns off his light. He turns to Scraggly Kid. Scraggly Kid sports a huge grin. Suddenly, everyone is hugging one another - like they've won the World Series or somethin'.

I got a bad feeling about this.

"Uh-oh," I say to Harold.

"A-yup," he replies.

Puff darts out from behind the barn and parks himself directly above the assembled crowd of folk. Then Puff makes a loud farting sound.

"Uh-oh," I say again, because I know what's coming next.

"A-yup," Harold replies.

In the blink of an eye, Puff sucks up the city folk. Then he blasts off for parts unknown.

As we walk up the driveway to the scene of the crime, I say to Harold, "Guess we better call the Sheriff."

Harold nods his head in agreement. But I know what he's thinkin'. He's eyeing the folks' hardware that's still lying on the ground.

"See, this here's an Alienware model with Intel® Core™ i7 processors and dynamic overclocking. Looks like it's runnin' the latest Debian Linux OS, too. Mighty fine computer. Shame to see it go to waste."



  1. Phil has a keen imagination coupled with a delightfully dark sense of humor.

  2. a nice slice of low key, small town humour

    Mike McC

  3. An intriguing tale - there's nowt as queer as folk? Thanks for an entertaining read,

  4. Reminiscent of the 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The story is true to the folklore about space aliens wanting to kidnap people (and in this case farm animals too) to study them. Nice touch with the wife coming up with names for the unwelcome space craft.

  5. This was a wonderful and short read that didn't need to be any longer. The ability to tie a story up like this in such a short length of prose is a skill I am still working on.

    Very good and, if I may, I couldn't tell if the narrator was a woman or a gay man. Didn't matter, both made for wonderful mental imagery.

  6. I wouldn't have thought that bumpkins would be so technically knowledgeable. I suspect that the sheriff will make an attempt to find the missing whether called or not.

  7. Good fun. Love to see this side of sci-fi. Great characters, laid back country bumpkins who end up being smarter than those city "folk" who think they are so clever. Wasn't sure how it would end but was pleasantly surprised.