It is morning in a sunny cul-de-sac dotted with McMansions and a poorly placed park where the kids play, but is impossible to get to without crossing a street.
Inside, Mink’s mother Mary Morris is having a work-at-home Saturday. She gets a call on her futuristic (in 1992) 27-inch picture-phone from her husband — a great technology allowing people on opposite sides of the earth to communicate visually in real-time. He is calling her from the kitchen, though, so not really a great use of the tech. He too has to work, and goes to his office.
The kids huddle around a spot in the park. All at once, they scatter to their homes and begin collecting a seemingly random pile of items — spoons, colanders, camera tripods, cheese graters, pliers, etc. Mink’s mom asks what kind of game these items are for and Mink says, “Invasion!” as she runs out.
The kids reassemble in the park and Mink takes the lead in putting the parts together. A couple of older boys, maybe 13, start to be dicks in the way only 13 year old boys can be. And 13 year old girls. Also older boys and girls. And most grown-ups , too, for that matter. Mink tells them they are too big to understand and they should beat it.
MInk’s mother has the TV on and the big news is that no country now has possession of any nuclear weapons. They are all being held by an organization called Earth Mutual Defense. Meanwhile her daughter is outside telepathically receiving instructions, words and formulas that she doesn’t comprehend.
Mink is called in for lunch. She runs in, grabs a hexagon cookie cutter, and runs out again. She says it is for her new friend Drill. Her mother is impressed at all the big words Drill seems to know. Mink, not exactly tight-lipped tells her mother that Drill has a plan to use kids to invade earth because adults are too busy to notice.
Mary gets another call on the picture phone, from her sister on the other coast. Her little boy is also looking for a hexagon and mentions his friend Drill. Mary hears a scream and goes outside to check on the kids. Apparently one of the girls has gotten to old for the game during lunch, and starts crying as she realizes what is happening.
Mink starts a gyroscope spinning on her hand, and in a few seconds, it just disappears. After seeing that, Mary starts to worry and runs back inside. When her husband gets home, she frantically drags him up to the attic and locks the door. He naturally thinks his wife is crazy — and not just from the insane hair-do she has had the whole episode — until he hears a lot of footsteps downstairs.
Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic lock melted. The door opened. Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her. “Peekaboo,” said Mink.
It worked much better for me this time around as I absorbed the entire story and not just the last three words. The episode follows the short story almost exactly, a rarity with no padding and nothing significant left out. One of RBT’s best.
- First published in Planet Stories, Fall 1947.