Berkenkotter believed the Air Force and the People in Black (PIB) had conspired with some kind of avian aliens to kill a bunch of Hill Air Force Base mechanics like him. In any other circumstance, he would've sounded like prime psych ward material. Problem was he was right. I'd seen dark green blood stains on Berkenkotter's front porch, where he'd shot a few Fliers. All the mechanic "suicides" had boarded up their windows too. I'd even found scratch marks on my dead brother John's front door. A strange smell--like sulfur, garlic and petunias--hung around the mechanics' homes. This evidence made for patterns too consistent to ignore.
Both men were mechanical geniuses too. The morning after I made us both into fugitives by shooting four PIBs in Berkenkotter's front yard, we had traded my unmarked police cruiser for an old Toyota pickup in Webster, Utah. Thing was a POS, but Berkenkotter hopped under the hood and jiggled some shit around until it ran better than my Crown Vic. Reminded me of John. As we sped northeast into the Rocky Mountain foothills, looking for some place to hid, Berkenkotter told me, "Something about those blackouts...when I was young...stopped me from going to MIT or another engineering school. I got scared, and stayed scared most of my life...I lost my motivation and quit making things. Instead, I just fixed 'em."
All the suicide victims had worked for the airlines too. Alone, any of these coincidences made for weak evidence. Together, they created a plausible story with dire implications. Even now--despite all I've seen--the whole theory sounds crazy. But you can't just dismiss the facts forever. At some point, you have to admit the possibility of the implausible.
Me and Berkenkotter's Bear Lake hideout had been built with fat, rough logs. Whoever owned the place had furnished it with stained wood furniture, canned food, a stove, electricity, plumbing, and cots. Mounted fish and buck heads stared into the room from every wall. The dust on the counters and tables had become like felt. The smell of pine trees and meadows lived in everything. Beams of sunlight streamed between the boughs of the big, old trees which nearly surrounded the place. The wind sifted through the pine needles at night. The sound reminded me of the Minnehaha falls, where me and John played as kids.
Two tire trails made a mile-long driveway to the cabin. The driveway connected to a dirt road with no name. We'd have missed the way to the cabin if Berkenkotter hadn't stopped the Toyota to take a piss. We thought we'd found the perfect place to hide.
A trail through the woods surrounding the cabin led to an old rowboat, tied to an old dock, on Bear Lake. We rowed the boat over to Fish Haven when we needed provisions. No one in that tiny tourist trap seemed to care who we were, but we wore our ball caps low and grew out our beards anyway. We'd bought logo-less t-shirts, flannels, and jeans to keep a low profile. It worked too. No one looked at us for more than a second or two. Their apathy was a miracle, considering the color of my skin. From my experience, white people from small towns were usually racist.
A few days into our stay, Berkenkotter told me, "I heard some kind of buzzing last night." He was cooking us a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon over the stove. He paused for a couple seconds and stared out the window. As he used a big, silver spoon to dish the steaming food onto our plates, he continued: "I used to hear that noise around my house too--like electricity or cicadas or something."
I nodded. "Things have changed since we first came here..."
"Even when the sun's in the sky. It looks like twilight."
"I haven't noticed that," I said. "But the waters on the lake are choppy, like a storm's coming. The air's more moist too."
"I aint seen any storm clouds," Berkenkotter said, sitting down. He handed me my plate.
I grabbed it and said, "Right. I thought maybe I was just shaken because we're running...or maybe because we've both been thinking about those things you claim you saw."
"They're not a claim. They're real damnit."
"Easy," I said. "I believe you...for the most part. I didn't see 'em, but those stains on your steps... Speaking of which: last night, the cabin didn't smell like pine anymore. Instead, I kept getting a whiff of that same scent that hung around you and the other mechanic's houses."
Berkenkotter's eyes widened. "They found us?"
I shook my head and finished chewing a mouthful of eggs. "No. They'd have taken us by now. It's like...the world's transforming. Maybe Hill Air Force Base and the mechanic deaths are just the start of something bigger. You and John were a part of this all along..."
"I know," Berkenkotter said. "I just can't remember how or why. Huge chunks of my memory are walled-off. I think my memory 'll tell us what the hell's going on."
"We should turn on the radio," I said, reaching for the dial radio on the kitchen table.
"No use," Berkenkotter said. "The feds are gonna keep looking for us. We might as well get used to hiding. This cabin is our world now. Besides, the news'll just depress me."
Ignoring him, I turned on the radio. The public AM station we usually listened to was all static. "Signal must be bad," I said. "Let's try another." None of the other AM stations worked either, so I switched to FM. Most of those stations were static too. A panicked woman's voice came over the air on 106.5.
"...apparently there are sightings of many...different...kinds of..." Her voice faded out. I adjusted the antenna. "...people fleeing and dying by the thousands...find shelter if you can...better yet...an area where the larger ones can't get to you."
"What the hell?" Berkenkotter asked. He gulped down his last spoonful of eggs and wiped his hands on a napkin.
I looked out the kitchen window. A slight wind shook the trees, but the forest and lake looked placid.
I found another fuzzy station. A deep man's voice faded in and out, saying, "Some believe these creatures come straight out of American myth. Sightings of, and killings by, the Wendigos, the Piasa, and other monsters have skyrocketed throughout the world. Other, secret government sources claim that this is an invasion perpetrated by an extra-dimensional race of beings know only as the Fliers..." The commentator's voice cut off there.
Berkenkotter and I looked at each other. "Fliers," I said. "Do you suppose..."
"Uh huh," Berkenkotter said.
We both saw the forest begin to writhe through the kitchen window. It seemed like the trees were coming alive at first. Looking closer, I watched several small, humanoid creatures, with bat-like wings, float out of the pine trees near the cabin.
"Shit," Berkenkotter said. "Fliers."
One tall creature came with the Fliers. Seven feet high and skinny as hell, this monster had a mouth full of knife-like teeth. Its clawed hands were so long that they almost dragged on the ground. The Fliers swarmed around the bigger thing like soldier bees protecting their hive.
Sure, I'll admit it, the monsters coming out of the forest scared me, but the guys materializing out of the trees made me mad. Many of those men were PIBs. Next came soldiers with M4s and full body armor. Their chest pieces sported a silver logo that said "Blackward." I'd seen these guys in Iraq. They were private security contractors. Lastly, a few Air Force officers in blue dress uniforms popped-out of a tall spruce.
Berkenkotter said, "I don't know about you, but I'm getting my guns."
I grabbed Berkenkotter's arm. "Listen," I said. "They've already cut off our escape. There's no way to shoot our way out of here. We don't have enough ammo."
"I don't intend on leaving alive," Berkenkotter said. "Dyin' aint much of a livin' you motherfuckers," he shouted (later on, I learned that was a line from Outlaw, Josey Wales).
"Hey, hey, hey," I said, grabbing his hand. "Shhhh. We might just get some answers. At least we don't have to go looking for who's messing with us anymore." I pointed at the Brigadeer General, who was now standing next to the large, skinny monster. "They're the ones who can tell you what's going on, and I think they'd have killed us right away if they wanted to."
Berkenkotter said, "Bullshit. It won't hurt to have some firepower. Besides, I know that General from somewhere. Looking at him makes my blood turn cold." He jerked his arm out of my hand and went to the cabin corner where his Remington shotgun stood. I drew my Kel Tec PF-9 pistol, thinking, we have no chance. Dozens of Fliers and Blackward mercenaries had surrounded the house by then.
I went to another window over my cot. I watched a middle-aged woman in civilian clothes walk out of a tree trunk. She shimmered like a mirage and solidified. A single Blackward mercenary held this woman by the elbow. I knew her face from a wallet picture, which Berkenkotter had showed me.
"Berkenkotter," I said. "You better come see this."
"Huh?" he said, pumping his shotgun as he came over to the window. I watched his face as he looked into the woods. Tears came to his eyes and his jaw quivered."My God," he said. "It's Jan."
"Don't do anything stupid," I said, reaching for him.
Berkenkotter dodged my grab and ran for the door. "You motherfucking monsters," he screamed. Throwing the door open, he lifted his shotgun to his hip and fired.
The General and all other materials on Tim's Blog are copyrighted by me, Tim Miller. Please contact me via email regarding publishing or redistribution of stories or blogs. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I apologize for any formatting errors. I'm a writer, not a code monkey.
This story can be read as a stand-alone narrative, but it's also a chapter in a blog novel. If you'd like to read the other stories in this growing book, please click on the links below. To leave a comment, please go to the story's page by clicking on the title. Scroll down and type your comment in the Disqus box.Chapter Six: The Cop
Chapter Seven: The Hunted
Chapter Eight: The Escapee
Chapter Nine: The Mercedes Man
Chapter Ten: The Shooter
Chapter Eleven: The Monster
Chapter Twelve: The Yehasuri
Chapter Fourteen: The Wendigo
Chapter Fifteen: The Librarian
Chapter Sixteen: The Suburbanites
Chapter Seventeen: The Paralibrarian
Chapter Eighteen: The Blighted
Chapter Nineteen: The Captive
Tags: scifi horror general berkenkotter lance travis parker air force mib pib mercenaries conspiracy john apocalypse shotgun handgun remington kel-tech aliens extra-dimensional
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