Sheriff Tom Ramache had seen a lot of things happening on Parker Beach, but this one was new. He began the long walk from the coast road to the site.
The cairn stood nearly five-feet tall. The man assembling it stood over seven-feet tall. His strangely elongated face appeared calm. He worked industriously, placing a flat stone, bits of various powders, then three small stones on the powders. Another flat stone went on top of the three and so on.
“Rock Balancing” went against park rules. Despite the beautiful workmanship Ramache had to tell the fellow to stop.
He arrived at the cairn where the man paid him no attention. On the sand beside the cairn he saw a partially dismantled straight jacket, on which various ground minerals lay in powder form. Beside that, rested an old radio. Ramache cleared his throat. “Howdy,” he said.
“Good day,” said the man. He sprinkled ground quartz and placed a small rock on top of it.
This was very different from what Rock Balancers usually did. His curiosity was piqued. “I’m Tom Ramache, Sheriff’s Office. You?”
“Oh, my name is quite unpronounceable. Just call me Pin.”
“Okay, Pin. Whatcha’ doing here?”
“Just making a phone call.”
Curiouser and curiouser. “With stones? Hardly, digital quality eh? I don’t suppose you’re calling San Diego.”
Pin chuckled. “No sir. A lot further than that. About 2,000 light years from here.”
Okay. That explained the straight jacket. Pin seemed mighty calm and reasonable for an asylum patient. Ramache wondered if he could reason with the man. “I’ve read a bit of science fiction. Learned some things from it.”
“Wouldn’t it take 2,000 years, because you’re calling someplace 2,000 light years away, to get a reply from your ‘phone call?'”
“Absolutely correct,” grinned Pin. “If I were using radio signals. This will be an FTL call.”
“Faster Than Light communications? With stones?”
The cairn had grown to seven feet. Pin shrugged. “The math is arguably complex. Are you familiar with Hueroplyctic Subplasmic Interactions?”
“Ah, no.” Ramache noted the printing on the straight jacket. “How long were you in Marigold Asylum?”
Pin paused a moment, looking askance. “Six months.”
“What happened, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Not at all,” smiled Pin. “I foolishly admitted my true purpose here.”
“Did you harm someone or threaten anyone?” This part was critical in Ramache’s thinking.
“Absolutely not! I’m here to study your indigenous peoples, not interfere.”
“You mean Native Americans?”
“Not just them. All Humans.” Pin smiled up at the nine-foot cairn and began attaching wires from the old radio to it. “I’m no harm to anyone Sheriff. I just want to get home.”
Ramache kicked at the sand unhappily. “Well Pin, we all want things. I dream about a yellow DeTomaso Pantera. It’s a beautiful car, but so rare I’ll never afford one.”
“It’s too bad you never studied Hueroplyctics.” Pin smiled wanly. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Ramache hid a smirk. Why couldn’t all crazies be this nice? “Can I trust you to stay where you are, Pin?”
“For now, yes.”
Ramache stepped out of earshot and was soon discussing the case with Deputy Callahan. “They can’t hold him for more than three months if he hasn’t proven to be a threat. They violated this guys rights, I don’t care if he’s homeless. Now that’s an offense I will prosecute. Did you tell them that? Okay, I’ll wait.”
Behind the Sheriff, another call got through.
Operations Control. Please explain your emergency.
“This is Research Agent FWY23785B-1, Requesting immediate extraction. ”
Copy that, FWY23785B-1. Do you request Total Planetary Sterilization for hostile species?
“Ah, negative, control.” Pin gazed at Ramache. “Some are quite evolved. Recommend revisiting at a later century.”
Copy that, FWY23785B-1. Stand by for pickup.
Pin smiled towards Ramache. “I have one more request, Control…”
Ramache roared into his mic, “Oh now they say he’s dangerous? I’ve seen more hostile Gerbils! Yeah…well I can see somebody has psychotic fantasies. You tell them to get their shit together before I get there, and…”
Ramache turned back to look for Pin, and dropped his mic.
The cairn was gone, as if it never existed. Pin had disappeared too, nowhere to be seen in miles of open beach. In his place stood a shining, yellow, DeTomaso Pantera.
Ramache picked his mic back up. “Callahan. How long is the drive to Marigold Asylum? Thirty minutes, right?” He grinned at the low, lean muscle car. “Tell Marigold I’ll be there, and I’ll want answers, in fifteen minutes.”
Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-71/
Rock Balancing (art): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_balancing