A dark road and a book on a tape were Kemp’s two favorite things. When the two items shared time together, he was happy as a pig in mud. He loved that phrase. Good fries at a small diner? He’d enjoy it like a pig loves mud. Half priced gas station coffee? He’d be smiling like a pig in mud. He varied little from that expression. He tried the phrase “happy like a toad on a Tuesday” but no one knew what he was talking about.
Kemp drove a truck. A big Peterbilt he called home for weeks on end. He hauled all sorts of good and wares across the country. One day, much to his delight, he even carried pigs. They were frozen for science classes, which he imagined made the pigs themselves none too happy, but students learning about the body would be happy as pigs in mud about their lab. The truck was his way to see the country. Coast to coast, border to border; he had been everywhere.
When he was not listening to the latest Patterson audio book, he played with HAM radio. His handle was “Dole Man” starting in the mid 90s. He was surprised that the joke lost a lot of weight pretty much as soon as he started using the name and by 1999 he changed his tag to “Kemperture.” Guy loves his puns.
It was Kemp’s use of HAM radio that quite possibly saved his life.
On a winding mountain road that smelled of stale hops and road kill skunks he was guiding his truck terribly close to guard rails. He was busy regaling his listeners about a fishing trip at Lake Placid when his headlights illuminated a sight most peculiar.
“Folks, I’ve got a funky chicken on the path here. I’m going to find out why he’s crossin’ and I’ll be right back,” he said as he set down his microphone. In a most fortunate circumstance, he forgot to click his radio off. The truck crawled to a stop and Kemp took the long step down to the road. Flashlight in hand and head lights still blazing, he took a few steps nearer the curious object.
Slinking across the road was a “blue blob of goop and gunk” as he would later call it. The amorphous lump looked like walking gelatin, pushing itself across the road. It stood no higher than his ankles. It had no eyes, no legs, no visible mouth or hair or feathers or scales or anything typical of a living creature. It was a little more than a heap of liquid propelling itself across the middle of the road.
“What in the name of Hendricks is this?” He said. He watched the glare of his flashlight bounce through the creatures body.
Leaves rustled along the side of the road. More blobs emerged and followed the leader across the road.
“I have to quit the caffeine,” Kemp muttered.
A new sound filled the valley. A soft pattering sound, like clothes in a well balanced dryer load, that quickly grew to a thunderous volume akin to the best sort of heavy metal drum music (which Kemp was an occasional fan of). There was no obvious source to the sound, but it was unmistakable; helicopters.
Kemp’s hair waived wildly in the wind caused by the unseen choppers.
“This better not be some sort of X-Files thing,” he screamed up to the sky.
He heard a loud hiss and was surrounded by a half dozen red dots and bright white lights. From there, Kemp was never exactly sure what happened. Some people shouted at him. He was shoved quite a lot and as he was being taken to a rope that led straight to the pitch black sky he heard one of the armed men say something his radio. At mention of the radio, his progress toward the dangling line was halted. He was turned around and put into his truck.
“Tonight you saw an experiment with over powered magnets. Nothing more,” a soldier said before slamming the truck door closed. The blobs were picked up off the road and placed into what looked like plastic jars. The six soldiers tugged on the ropes and were taken to the sky.
Kemp sat in his truck and did not blink. He did not do anything. He had no idea of what happened or how to make sense of it. Then he saw the flashing red light of his HAM radio and picked up the receiver.
“Folks, I have a story for you now. And let me tell you, when you hear it and say ‘glad that didn’t happen to me,’ well, you’re going to be happy as a pig in mud.”
Thanks for reading!