THE IDIOT STONE
written and illustrated by Douglas A. Roberts


“There,” said the seventeen year old in the lead, pointing to a clearing in the brush.

Mindful of the loose, fist-sized stones that covered the field behind the school, Jacob Albrecht stepped forward and placed a hand on the 'nose' of Bronson Point's own 'megalith.' It did look sort of like a person--and not only from the side which, at a glance, passed for a grossly exaggerated human face in profile--with a clear nose--the bulbous projection his hand now rested on--a sloping forehead and apish brow, and most convincing, the big, blubbery lips that Albrecht assumed lent the six foot tall rock its name: the Idiot Stone.

Albrecht frowned.

Rocks and ledges are like clouds: stare at one long enough and you’ll soon see a dog, or a ship, or more typically a face. Albrecht recalled the local sphinx outside his home town--or rather, former home town in New Mexico, before he and his parents had relocated to Bronson Point in the summer. It was a big, sandstone ledge overlooking a valley and from one side it bore a remarkable likeness to its namesake in Egypt. But only from one side.

But not this.

Albrecht finished examining the side and then circled to the front again under the watchful eyes of the boy who had brought him here and the loose knit handful of hangers-on that formed a circle Albrecht was very much interested in joining. The likeness held--even intensified. From this angle, he thought he could even make out the faint outline of pointed teeth under the enormous lips. It lent the face a perfectly maniacal expression--even monstrous.

The newcomer's frown deepened; he couldn’t be sure if the features were natural or carved. If it was carved, it would have been a very long time ago. There were no visible chisel marks or scratches that he could see.

“Looks more terrifying that anything else,” he said, and immediately regretted the words. Behind him, Alba would be watching, along with the others. It wasn’t the first word that came to mind to impress a girl he planned on asking to go with him to Homecoming that Saturday night.

'Terrifying?'

Really?

He turned to rejoin the others standing at the edge of the clearing and nearly fell as his foot slipped on one of the many stones surrounding the megalith. Albrecht looked down. This one was smoother and larger than the rest and stuck out; it was lighter in color--almost white.

Distracted, Albrecht asked: “Why do you call it the Idiot Stone?”

The first rock hit Albrecht just above his left temple, knocking his glasses from his face and his knees out from under him. He fell to all fours. Missing, a second bounced off the teeth of the Idiot Stone, but a third connected with his left shoulder with a crack and an intense pain that sent him nose-diving into the ground. That was my collar bone, he thought, and managed to roll over onto his back, fighting back a scream. The Idiot Stone rolled into his view, foreshortened, and oddly indistinct without his glasses; a mass of cold gray that filled his vision and seemed for a moment to eclipse the world. A stone struck the top of his head. Another glanced off his right knee cap. He looked up. They were closing in now, circling, hedging for a better shot. Upside down and through a veil of blood it looked like it might all have been some silly initiation--or dance, he thought: the kids circling, singing, gyrating wildly, Alba in front,

--coming for me.




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Doug Roberts loves the same things as the readership of Planetary Stories and Wonderlust—but discovered them all out of order—stumbling first in his early teens upon the works of Lovecraft, Howard, and Smith, Burroughs at the age of 20, and serials and the children’s science-fiction television of the 1950s almost a decade later when episodes became widely available on VHS and DVD. He is grateful for the opportunity to share his work and hopes readers enjoy the stories and art as much as he enjoys creating them.


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CONTENTS


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