The muddy pouch quivered, as if it breathed.
Hattley turned on her iPhone’s flashlight and moved closer. But she could not tell herself she was safe.
This thing was half as big as her car, and it looked like part raft and part Army weather balloon.
Torn between inspecting it further and getting to the crash of the aircraft, Hattley decided to take a quick video with her phone, while pushing at the pouch with the ice scraper from her car.
As luck would have it, with her vision focused through the video camera, she put all her weight on a deflated, slippery part of the pouch that had been dragging through mud.
After a shriek and a tumble, she landed face-to-face with the twins.
It was like staring at a two-headed monkey. The faces were gray-white, and the eyes didn’t blink. Frightened now, Hattley slowly tried to back away from the pouch. What were these things? Would they run? Did they bite?
Their eyes followed her as she stood. Again, trying for a video, she wiped mud from the phone but unknowingly swiped a news clip instead. It blared a report about the aircraft crashing, and Agnon awoke.
Instinctively protective, he reached his long fingers toward Hattley’s right calf and grabbed it firmly. Hattley felt no pain and found herself focused on the strange silver ring with the orange hypocycloid on his index finger. At that finger, and the others, began to glow orange, Hattley felt like she had drifted to sleep, but she sank into a dream more frightening than any she had ever experienced.
Images of fire and war and death overran her brain, and those dying were gray, like the oval faces from the pouch. All those bodies. All that life. Long, gray, contorted and slaughtered.
Tears ran down her cheeks. When Agnon heard her sob, he released her leg. She collapsed backward, her butt on the ground.
With Jadeion now also awake, the four visitors stared with big unblinking round eyes. Hattley looked away and scooched backward at the same time. No one made a noise. Hattley looked to her phone, hoping for a text, a missed call, a tweet — anything that would keep her from trying to figure out what she was going to actually do next.
The TV news truck pulling up toward her car forced her hand.
Walking without thinking, she moved toward the truck to ensure it had stopped. Standing in its headlights, she hoped the visitors would see this as their cue to flee. Somehow, she was confident the four would not hurt her. She knew they meant no harm to anyone. They were victims.
She traded meaningless bits of scanner chatter with the TV folks as Jadeion and Agnon each scooped up a twin in their long arms. Half-bounding, half-limping, they slipped off into a field of cedar and brush.
Hattley turned to look for them but was relieved they were gone. She barely heard the TV station videographer ask: “What’s that big brown balloon-looking thingy?”