At Bat The Super Sluggers About Kevin Home More Stuff

It was the top of the third inning, no outs, a fair breeze blowing straight in from center. Our pitcher, Slingshot Slocum, stood on the mound protecting a slim two-to-one lead. A St. Joe runner bounced on his toes at second base.

Crouched behind home plate, Tugboat Tooley surveyed the diamond. Nothing gets past Tugboat. Not balls, not base runners, not even the hot dog man out in the bleachers making change for a five spot. Has eyes like an eagle, Tugboat does. He's our field general and we rely on him.

A real general would have been nice. He would've had an army at his command. As we were about to learn, we could've used an army. Maybe the Air Force, too. Send in the Marines just to be safe.

Tugboat flashed a sign. One finger. Slingshot kicked and fired a fastball. The St. Joe batter started his swing.

That's when Tugboat sprang from behind the plate.

"Time out!" He called, flinging away his mask.

He bounced up so quickly, I thought a bee had stung him.

Tugboat's sudden leap knocked the ump for a loop, toppling him onto his backside behind home plate. I don't know what the ump thought. Probably how much he was going to enjoy tossing Tugboat out of the game. While all this was happening, the batter lunged at the pitch and sent the ball dribbling toward short.

"You can't call time in the middle of a pitch!" the ump barked from the dirt.

Tugboat didn't say a word. As the hitter took off for first, he just pointed to centerfield. We whipped our heads around to see what was bothering him. What I witnessed made my knees quake.

A huge, shimmering cloud filled the sky. Shaped sort of like an ice-cream cone lying on its side, it stretched all the way to the horizon. Whatever it was, it was moving.

Fast.

Straight towards us.