The Fevered Pitch
It wasn't the same but when you were twelve years old and your Mom said, No, the radio would have to suffice.
Russell West snuggled beneath the scratchy blankets, wiped at his nose with a wadded tissue and turned on his transistor radio. Flu symptoms prevented him from attending the 1961 World Series in person but, via trusty radio waves ...
Swirling the dial to the left and then slightly back to the right, Russell frowned at the crackling static that emitted through the little box. Stifling a cough, he sat up a little straighter as he heard a faint voice.
"Hello, baseball fans and welcome to Yankee Stadium and Opening Day of the World Series!"
Russell attempted to increase the volume but only received more static. Banging the small radio against his bedroom wall, he heard the voice once again:
"...October fourth. The New York Yankees face off with the Cincinnati Reds in what promises to be an exciting game."
Shoving his fingertips through damp blonde hair, he stared at the radio in despair, studying; thinking.
Flipping it over, he removed the batteries, rolled them in the palms of his sweaty hands and shoved them back into their holding place.
Russell shrugged his thin shoulders and sighed loudly.
Swirling the dial again, he tried to find a different station. He just had to listen to this game. Daddy had taken little Edward. It wasn't fair. Darn germs.
Then, Russell heard a faint voice. A different voice. He placed his left ear closely to the black box.
"What?" Russell said aloud. Grabbing his pillow, he propped it up against his back and held his breath.
"Teid Ekoc. Serutan Elcarim."
Was this a different language? French? Spanish? For some reason, Russell didn't think so. The voice was faint and soft. He didn't understand the words but he heard them clearly; distinctly.
Tinny, eerie music began to float through the radio and hung ominously in the air.
The crack of the baseball bat, the smell of hot dogs and the taste of Cracker Jacks on his tongue quickly dissipated. Russell was, now, otherwise occupied and intrigued.
Swirling the dial once more, Russell heard the strange voice again, louder; high-pitched.
Russell had read about something like this in a comic book once. Martians. Martians had come to Earth and contacted humans through the radio. What better way to contact someone from New York than through the radio on the Opening Day of the World Series?
Tugging at the collar on his pajama top, Russell grinned. Martians must be Yankees fans. They had to be friendly, of course.
A scratching sound tapped itself out on the windowpane facing the backyard. Crawling down from his bed, Russell peered out the clear glass to his mother's rosebushes and the red barn beyond.
Rubbing his bloodshot brown eyes, Russell swore he saw a dark figure emerging from the structure. He blinked hard.
Suddenly, a glowing green creature, a large object where its nose and mouth should have been, popped his head into the window. Russell screamed and stumbled backward; terrified. Long slender fingers waved slowly as everything went dark.
Dr. Bruce Howell removed his mask, gloves and green scrubs and walked from the fluorescent-lit room. He spotted Russell's mother slumped in a chair at the end of the long corridor.
"Mrs. West," he said as he shook her delicate, trembling hand. "Russell is going to be just fine. His fever has broken and he's sleeping peacefully. Vital signs look good."
Miriam West cried in relief. "My husband and younger son went to the ball game so our barn-hand brought me and Russ into the hospital," she explained. "I was so scared. He was talking such gibberish."
"I believe he was hallucinating because his fever was so high. He kept calling me 'Marsha'," the doctor said.