Sunday, April 13, 2014
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Brad Stark refused to admit that they were lost. He knew they were, but if he uttered that slight admission of guilt, Julie Stark would never let him hear the end of it. She was already giving him an earful about his irrational choice to leave the highway.
It had been thirty minutes since Brad had abandoned the bumper-to-bumper traffic of Route 27, opting for the more scenic Route 25. It was this manic decision that had knocking them off course, and Julie had no intention of letting him forget it.
Julie insisted they stop at the next filling station to grab a road-map or ask for directions, but Brad declined to stop, insisting he knew how to find Braxton from Route 25.
“Just admit we’re lost,” Julie said demandingly.
“We’re not lost,” Brad kept insisting. “We’re going to see signs for Braxton any minute. You just wait and see.”
“I’ve been waiting for over thirty minutes,” Julie said, exasperation in her voice. She brushed back her sandy blonde hair and rolled her green eyes with a look of sheer frustration. “You can never admit when you’re wrong. Just like you and what’s-her-name? Shelia?”
Brad figured it was just a matter of time before she started in with the affair.
“What was it about Shelia that made you want to risk it all?”
“Julie, not now,” he sighed, growing exasperated with the conversation himself.
“Then when, Brad? I want to talk about this. I want to know exactly how you felt about her. What she meant to you.”
“She didn’t mean anything to me.”
“That’s terrible!” she proclaimed.
“Would you have been happier if I said I was madly in love with her?”
“If you said that, at least maybe I could understand on some level. I could understand that she meant something, anything to you. But the way you put it makes it seem like she was nothing more than an object to you. Something you just have your fun with until you wear it out and throw it away, right? Was that it, Brad?”
“Can you just chill, Julie? We’re on our way to my uncle’s funeral, for Christ’s sake.”
“Uncle Ned was more of a man than you ever will be, I can tell you that.” She was getting personal now, trying to see how deep she could get under his skin. She had succeeded in perforating his deceptively weak exterior and was carving her way underneath.
Brad was built like an MMA fighter, and you wouldn’t guess it by looking at him, but he could be quite sensitive. Saying one wrong thing could easily tick him off, and Julie was a master at this. She knew all the right buttons to push.
His palm itched to slap her as his hand reached for the dial on the radio and cranked up the volume, hoping to drown out her relentless nagging. The radio was set to an all classic rock station and Ozzy Osbourne’s voice wailed through the speakers.
Going off the rails on a crazy train? He thought. I’m the fucking conductor. And this whiny little shrew is my one and only passenger. ’Til death do us part. Let’s hope that day comes sooner than later for one of us.
Julie saw it before her husband did. It was an animal neither had ever seen before. One of its legs was badly maimed, likely from the tires of another passing motorist. Its body was similarly structured to a porcupine’s body, its brownish-yellow fur adorned with sharp spines. Only these spines were thicker and shorter in length than that of porcupines, and almost resembled spikes to Brad. Most troubling was that the spikes seemed to pulse, contracting and expanding, as if each individual spike was a living, breathing organism.
Down the road, Brad could make out a sign: Welcome to the Town of Spring Harbor. Evidently, Julie saw it too.
“We’ll see signs for Braxton any minute, huh?” she muttered, kneeled down in the road.
“Shit,” Brad said after a lengthy search of his pockets and his Altima. “I forgot my phone. Do you have your cell?”
“So we can call animal control or something. It’s still alive. They can help it.”
“They probably won’t even know what it is,” she said, almost shouting. “Do you?”
“No,” he shrugged. “But we can’t just leave it in the road for someone else to hit.”
A thick fog had begun to creep in from the bay. Green and ominous, it quickly enveloped their surroundings. So much that Brad was almost clipped by an oncoming police cruiser.
The cruiser had seen Brad at the last second, swerved, and pumped his brakes in a panic, screeching to a dead halt in the center of the road.
“What in the bloody hell are you doing standing out in the middle of the road?” Officer Fleming shouted as he exited his cruiser. “You could’ve gotten yourself killed. Is that what you’re looking to do, pal?”
“I’m sorry, officer. My wife and I saw this thing out in the road. It looked hurt, so I stopped to take a look.”
Fleming didn’t notice it immediately through the dense fog, but soon it became clear. And the sight was enough to make him recoil and draw his service revolver.
“What are you doing?” Brad shouted.
“What needs to be done,” Fleming stated frankly.
“It’s just a helpless animal,” Julie cried.
“It’s not an animal,” Fleming shook his defiantly. “It’s an abomination. You notice the fog? Has it ever looked this green to you before, this thick? This is a sign. They’re near. And when they come, this is what they’ll be looking for. But they’re not going to find it. Instead they’re going to find a double barreled shotgun and a case of Molotov cocktails waiting for them.”
“Who are they?” Brad asked, looking deep into Fleming’s eye. This was not madness, hysteria. Brad could determine this man, no matter how absurd he sounded, was being genuine. He truly believed this spikey little creature to be a demon from another dimension.
Brad and Julie Stark stood amazed and horrified as Fleming recounted the tale his dad had once told him. A tale he hadn’t believed until he witnessed it firsthand. His father spoke of a rainy night in the mid-eighties, a thick green fog that had slipped in from the bay, and the horrid abominations the fog had brought along with it.
The wounded creature that lay at their feet was nothing more than an infant, their latest spawn. And somehow, Fleming surmised it to be the key to their twisted bloodline.
Kill the newborn, destroy the horde. That was Fleming’s theory.
His father had given these awful creatures a name. He dubbed them The Desecrators. Creatures from beyond this world. Creatures without knowledge of morals or values. Creatures incapable of comprehending sympathy.
“I’m not doubting you,” Brad spoke, “But how do you know all this? And how can you know for sure this thing is just an infant?”
“Because I was there when it was born, and I was there when they came to claim it the first time. Back in 2005, when the fog crept in from the bay and these things emerged, seven people lost their loves. Shelly Coach blacked out. And six weeks later, discovered she was pregnant. She doesn’t know how or why. Shelly and her husband hadn’t had sex in eight months. And she denied allegations of an affair. Shelly Coach died during the delivery.
But that’s a mild way of stating it. She was torn in pieces trying to deliver this atrocity. Then in 2006, the fog came again, and Desecrators came to claim what was theirs. Ten people lost their lives this time. Jump forward to today in the year 2007, the Desecrators are set to return. And I’m ready to do what’s necessary. Please don’t stand in my way. Let me kill it. Let me do what needs to be done.”
“How can you be sure it will work?” Brad questioned.
“There’s only one way to find out.”
“You said it’s just a baby. What harm can it do?”
“It’s not the harm it can do. It’s the harm it will bring when those things come to claim it.”
“What if we help you?” Brad proposed, stunned by the words that had just escaped his mouth. But he continued. “Will you spare its life?”
A terrible shriek echoed in the distance. Seconds later, another shriek. And this one was already much closer than the first.
“If we’re going to do this, we better get a move on. I’ll radio for backup. I know just who to call.”
Fleming put in a call to Jake and Burt Austin, two fishing buddies with an affinity for heavy artillery. He gave the Austin’s their exact location and their ETA was ten minutes.
They arrived in five, locked and loaded.
Fleming had been waiting for this all morning, and along with his double barreled shotgun, a case of twelve Molotov cocktails sat in the backseat of his police cruiser.
As the hideous shrieks drew closer, Fleming instructed Brad and Julie on what to do. “Ever use a gun before?”
“I have,” Brad said. “She hasn’t.”
“I don’t believe in it,” Julie said, defending her choice.
“Well you better start believing,” Fleming suggested. “This is a Beretta. The clip is spring loaded. Press this button to release and pop in a new clip to reload. It holds ten rounds and it’s already loaded. This top part here is the hammer. Cock this back with your finger after every shot. Squeeze the trigger to fire, and don’t fire unless you have one of these suckers in your sight. Don’t waste bullets. Got it?”
“Got it,” she repeated. “Don’t waste bullets. Pull the trigger to make things die.”
“I sense sarcasm.”
“Your senses are overwhelmingly powerful.”
“I’m still sensing it.”
Their sophomoric banter was cut short by the sound of squealing brakes as another car approached in the fog and came to a stop. The door of the Stingray open and out stepped Herman Coach.
“Julie and Brad Stark, meet Herman Coach. He’s a physicist, and husband of the late Shelly Coach. He could explain this better than I ever could. And if you’re a sci-fi geek you’re in for a treat.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Herman started out, and then jumped right in without letting either of them respond. “Back in the 60’s, Spring Harbor was used by the government for experimental purposes. They set up camp just outside of town and nobody really knows for sure what went down. But the rumor going around was that the government was investing money in time travel experiments. They wanted to see if it was possible.
My theory is that these experiments tore a hole in our universe and created a rift in the fourth dimension. A rift that allows these creatures, the ones that Fleming here sees fit to call the Desecrators, to gain access to our world. The fog that accompanies them is not of this earth, it comes from their dimension, a place I call Planet X.”
“Planet X,” Julie rolled her eyes. “How original.”
“Do you believe Fleming’s theory that if we kill the newborn we can stop the Desecrators?” Brad asked Coach.
“I’m not certain of that. I am certain that this child is important to them. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t have gone to great lengths to impregnate my life and come back to claim it.”
Julie screamed suddenly and the men all turned their attention to her exclamation of horror.
Three of them stood in the mist. Vile abominations. Retched beasts.
The leader of the pack was nine feet tall. Six arms neatly crossed in three rows along its ample gray chest. Pyramidal head rested upon broad shoulders adorned with jagged spikes.
The second appeared as a woman through the dense green fog, her face distorted and frozen in a state of perpetual agony. But once the fog parted, they realized that horrified façade was not her own, but rather a mask of darkened flesh sewn into her own green-skinned face. Two spiraled horns protruded from her elongated, misshapen skull.
The third had narrow black wings that fluttered effortlessly, cutting through the fog. The wings clearly made up for its lack of legs. As did the claws it possessed, which looked similar to the claws of a wolverine. Even through the dense green fog, Brad could see its eyes were two red beams.
“FIRE!” Fleming shouted, and the shooting commenced.
The shots were deafening, and the fog made it difficult to be on target. But Brad was certain he had fired six straight shots at the nine foot behemoth and it just kept coming.
Jake Austin was the first to go. The face-skinner got him. Sunk her teeth right into his throat and ripped open his jugular. Blood spurted through the mist in quick jets as Jake collapsed to the ground and ceased moving.
“INCOMING!” Burt cried, and the thunderous bang of a grenade sent everyone scattering. Brad narrowly escaped the blast, but was unsure of Julie’s fate.
His hearing had been affected by the blast and he couldn’t even hear his own screams as he called out her name.
“Help! HELP!” The screams were those of Fleming’s, who was being hoisted into the air by the six-armed beast. Two hands gripped him tightly by the waist while two other hands snatched Fleming’s arms and spread them apart. The final pairs of hands had Fleming’s skull in a vise-like grip.
Brad stood in awe as Fleming’s body was pulled and stretched with such force that he tore in half down the center. The tear started at the center of his forehead and continued along the bridge of his nose, bisected his lips, ran down his chest and stomach, and ended at his crotch. He was split in half like a piece of lumber.
Burt was pumping round after round from his shotgun. When that approach failed, he yanked the pin of another grenade with his teeth and hurled it through the air. The grenade struck the ground, rolled across the pavement and stopped under Fleming’s police cruiser.
The blast not only totaled Fleming’s cruiser, but ignited the case of Molotov cocktails in the backseat. A ball of fire shot into the air and Brad saw Herman Coach thrown twenty feet from the explosion.
The winged creature was soaring through the air, shrieking as its back and wings were engulfed in flames. The pyramidal beast was also scorched but showed no signs of pain or defeat. Brad had wrapped the newborn in his coat and had dropped to his knees in a mark of surrender, and presented the child to the beast in the hopes that the carnage would cease.
His eyes were squeezed shut, but he felt the weight of the child leave his hands and he waited for his impending demise. But when he looked up and opened his eyes, the beasts back was turned to him and it was marching away with the child.
When the dust had settled and the fog cleared, those monstrosities had vacated. But their presence was evident in the bloody carnage and wreckage that had been left in their wake.
“Need a lift into town?” Brad asked a morose Burt, as his pickup truck and the police cruiser had been destroyed in the war they had waged. A war Brad or Julie could never speak to another living soul for fear or ridicule or mockery. A story no one would believe no matter how hard they tried to convince them. But the important thing was that they had survived. And somehow, the macabre ordeal had brought them closer together. He knew by the look in her eyes that Shelia had been forgotten about. She was grateful that he was still alive and he was grateful to still have her by his side.
Burt was indifferent to the loss of his pickup truck, focusing more on the loss of his brother, Jake. That day, Burt swore revenge. For Fleming. For Coach. For his brother.
As the three of them rode in silence, Brad’s mind replayed Coach’s theory about Planet X. He wondered how many other parallel worlds and dimensions existed outside of their own. He wondered what other horrors rested on the other side.
To be continued in The Desecrators…