Roger Sikes was slowly emerging from the fog of a late afternoon nap when he thought he heard a whistling sound. It sounded a lot like a falling bomb.
All at once, the windows along the front of Roger’s house imploded with a deafening boom, showering Roger and the couch on which he slept in glass and debris. He was suddenly on his feet, ears ringing, trying to make sense of the smoky rubble-strewn landscape that used to be his living room. He checked himself quickly: A little bleeding, but nothing too bad. He crunched his way across the glass to the window. The yard and street looked fine, but the porch was a mess.
Outside he discovered, adjacent to the porch and in a spot that had previously been occupied by a fine rose bush, a black thing: A cylindrical thing, maybe a foot across and four feet tall, sticking up out of a crater. Roger could feel the heat of the thing on his face from 12 feet away. Around him, fragments of what may have once been a rose bush lay smoldering. The object was a mere two feet from the exterior wall of the house.
Roger gingerly stepped a little closer to it. It was hot as hell. He continued to eye the smoldering object warily as he pulled his ringing smartphone from his back pocket.
“Roger? Where the fuck are you?”
“Can you speak up? My ears are kind of ringing here.”
“I said where the fuck are you?”
“Um … home—”
“You were supposed to pick me up for dinner an hour ago! Jesus Roger, you get out of your house like twice a year: I would think you could remember when you have a date. Did you — why are your ears ringing?”
With a sharp click, a small rectangular window opened in the cylinder. Roger startled a little, but stepped cautiously closer. The heat prevented him from getting closer than about four feet. He stared at the little rectangular opening. There was a sharp sound, like a little electric motor briefly spinning to life, and suddenly the cylinder was staring back at him from a small camera-like lens that appeared in the little compartment.
“Roger? Are you there? Why are your ears ringing?”
Roger stepped a little to his right. Whirrr! The camera followed him.
“Julie … can you come over?”