Appletree Court

Appletree Court by Cora Buhlert1956: Bernie Stetson is a burglar, robbing suburban homes while their owners are not at home.

Bernie’s latest raid takes him to the subdivision of Shady Groves. But things quickly go wrong. First, the house Bernie is robbing turns out to be not as deserted as he thought. And then, a flying saucer from outer space appears in the sky above Shady Groves…

This is a short story of 3600 words or approx. 14 print pages in the The Day the Saucers Came… series, but may be read as a standalone.


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Some background information:

  • Appletree Court is a short story of 3600 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • Appletree Court is part of the series The Day the Saucers Came, which consists of various short stories narrated from a first person POV by eye witnesses to a massive alien invasion (via B-movie style flying saucers) back in 1956. So far, six stories exist, Acacia Crescent, Azalea Avenue, Appletree Court, Lovers’ Lane, Double Feature and Willowbrook Farm.
  • In many ways, Appletree Court is a companion piece to Acacia Crescent and Azalea Avenue, cause all three stories are set in the same suburb, the evocatively named Shady Groves. And indeed early in the story, Bernie drives past the house of Rosemary, narrator of Azalea Avenue, and notices that she is packing up the car. The shots that Bernie hears, while fleeing the saucer, are the shots fired in Acacia Crescent and Azalea Avenue. And towards the end, Bernie runs over the two-toned shoes that are all that’s left of gangster Tony Capaldi from Acacia Crescent.
  • The Jet Age Diner, where Bernie meets his fence Jacky, is also the place where the characters from all the different The Day the Saucers Came… stories meet up. And if you’ve noticed that there are some characters at the diner whose stories have not yet been told, watch this space.
  • Appletree Court is also one of the stories to result from the 2018 July Short Story Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day during the month of July.
  • Like many July challenge stories, Appletree Court was inspired by a piece of artwork, namely this image by Simon Stalenhag of spaceships flying past overhead, while a burglar carries off his loot. I looked at the image and thought, “Make the spaceship a flying saucer and it’s a The Day the Saucers Came…
  • The song that Eugene McGowan a.k.a. the grandfather of the Melville family is playing on the portable record player is “Over there” by George M. Cohan, a popular propaganda song from 1917 that remained popular in WWII. And indeed, lines from the song are interspersed with the story. As for why I chose this song, it’s something that Eugene, who is very likely a WWI veteran, would have listened to. And besides, “Over there” is a really terrible song that makes for suitable listening during an alien invasion. Coincidentally, the song is also mentioned in the Silencer story The Milk Truck Gang, where Richard keeps himself awake by humming various songs by George M. Cohan.
  • “The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant, which was a number 1 hit in the summer of 1956, is also mentioned, but unlike in Azalea Avenue, it’s not heard.
  • The cover is stock art by Phil Cold. The typography is supposed to evoke the posters for 1950s science fiction B-movies.
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