Mike Morse was in Kansas and driving late at night which he didn’t like. He was well away from any town in the middle of seemingly endless fields. Some were just showing early sprouts. Most of the farmhouses were empty. The owners having sold out to huge mega-farms and the new owners saw no urgency about tearing them down for the little extra acreage they’d get. Some were visibly well on their way to falling down. So, there was no traffic and nobody to note a strange vehicle passing by. The police didn’t patrol it unless called since almost nobody lived on these county roads now and fuel was too dear to drive around looking at cornfields during the day, much less at night.
Why didn’t they drop his package closer to his destination? Mike wondered irritably. Probably because the coasts were heavily guarded and any small object falling on Kansas corn fields would be assumed harmless. He figured that out for himself.
The GPS told Mike the next intersection was the place he was instructed to pick up his load. He stopped at his yield sign and inspected the road signs. They matched but there was no package visible. He was ten minutes early and a stopped vehicle was more suspicious than a moving one, so he did a sweeping U-turn in the intersection and drove three kilometers back the way he’d come. Reversing in a field access carefully he approached the intersection again and pulled over where the shoulder was wider in front of the yield sign.
He had a powerful spotlight if he needed to hunt for it. If it landed out in the fields it would be a difficult hunt and trespassing. It was still thirty seconds early but he took his light and walked into the crossroads. Nothing showed in the beam either way.
A noise made him turn around. There was a half-meter long black box in the center of the intersection with a gossamer black parachute still collapsing to one side. As he watched the box tipped on its side and a cylinder rolled out. Immediately a mechanism reeled the parachute in and a clear plastic balloon started inflating. It soon lifted the box, still expanding. The wind was slight but it carried the delivery vehicle away over one of the fields.
Mike tracked it with his spotlight until suddenly the box part hanging vanished in an orange flash. The balloon above, unencumbered, rose faster but it also vanished with a blue flame. There was a report from the orange detonation but the balloon was a silent flash.
He walked over and tapped the cylinder tentatively but it wasn’t hot. It was exactly in the middle of both roads. Mike looked at the stars overhead and shouted, “Show off!” before he took the cylinder and headed west to find a cheap motel.