Heads Up
by S Shane Thomas

Their new home world was similar to Earth in size, temperature, biological diversity, and landscape. The colonial starship settled itself into a gorge carved out at the base of a mountain stream. A lush jungle crept right up to the baseball field Ramsey Vanderbilt and his friends claimed from the new frontier. Despite being born and raised in an egg shaped city traversing through space, Ramsey and his peers developed an instant fondness for the outdoors.

Jimmy Schmidt hit the foul ball that led to Ramsey’s amazing discovery. Ramsey rooted through dense growth looking for the stray ball. What he found at first was a yellow creature the size of his thumb. It scuttled upright on two stick legs and held a smaller creature in one of its pincers, a meal produced from a successful hunt. Its head looked like an ant save for eyes that revealed intelligence unlike the insects he knew from afternoons spent in the colony’s Earth Habitat areas.

“Hurry up Vanderbilt!”

“You guys, look at this little thing!” Ramsey replied.

The little yellow hunter took an equal fascination to its big observers. It emitted a strange high pitched noise and soon a small yellow crowd gathered about to look at their human boy observers. Ramsey, Jimmy, and the gang felt they hand stumbled upon a truly remarkable species. The better part of an hour was spent in admiration of the yellow creatures.

Ramsey’s communicator chirped and the boys dispersed to their homes for supper without a second thought for the whiffle ball which had become the object of the yellow tribe’s attention.

The following afternoon Ramsey and the gang searched the brush near the field for their mislaid ball. What they found was the home of their little yellow acquaintances. Small huts were formed from the skulls of animals the size of an orange.  Bits of thatch and mud mortared roofs and corridors as needed. Among the skeletal metropolis their whiffle ball formed a new addition.  One of the little hunters indicated the domicile and gestured what Ramsey understood to be gratitude. Then it indicated a small sun bleached skull off to one side.

“Those little guys want to trade the ball for the little skull” Jimmy said.

“I guess I could put it on my book shelf” Ramsey replied.

The boys made a routine of procuring cups, hollow spheres, and the like to provide exotic construction materials for the strange little companions. Soon all the boys sported a collection of skulls on their dressers and bookshelves. Since their supply of hollow whiffle balls had long been exhausted the gang now played with solid baseballs and aluminum bats. Ramsey set his helmet, glove, bat, and ball aside to spend a couple minutes with his strange yellow companions.

“Where have you left all your new baseball gear?” the boy’s mother asked when he returned home.

“Oh by the little pincher men, I’ll go get it right now” Ramsey replied.

“It can wait until tomorrow mister. Dinner time is family time and I made a casserole.”

The next afternoon Ramsey pushed back into the brush and huffed as he saw that his helmet had become the biggest house on the little block. The boy wondered how much allowance he would need to replace it, mother would not let him play without one. He saw the handle of his bat behind a patch of grass and trotted over to collect the remainder of his gear.

The boy stood stock still, frozen by shock and stared at the empty sockets of a human skull amid his bat, gloves, and ball.

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