I wasn't sucking on the barrel of my Model 870 Remington. Understand that right now. You don't have to give a shotgun a blow job to do yourself in. You can tooth the metal, or let it hang there as your saliva slowly fills one cheek and slips out the side of your mouth. I busted and swallowed a molar filling as I tried to slip my toe into the shotgun's trigger guard.
Shit, I thought to myself. What does it matter? An old saying came mind as I did everything I could to avoid wrapping my lips around the barrel: “It's all over but the crying,” I said out loud. The phrase sounded like this: “wi wah wover wat wa wyin.” My wife Jan wasn't there to shed tears for me anymore, and I wasn't about to do so myself. My life was just over. It had to be.
I watched the movement of the creatures' shadows through the curtains in my living room. They disappeared in and out of the air between the streetlight and the windows of my empty house. The taste of gunpowder and oil filled my mouth. I remembered the first night my friend John had talked about seeing those monsters. I thought he was joking.
A short time after that evening, I started to see and hear the creatures flying like sting rays on the air. They didn't pay me any mind at first. It was like they figured themselves invisible. But they eventually found me out. Every evening since then, they'd scratched at the windows and jiggled the doorknobs until dawn. Night after night, I stayed up, waiting for them to force their way inside. Somehow they never made it in.
I think they wanted to wear me down. After Jan left me, and my boss put me on psychiatric leave, it was only a matter of time until I broke. Sitting there, with the shotgun between my teeth, I thought about me and John's talk on my deck. He'd killed himself about a month after that. Now I'd run through the same cycle as him.
My wife Jan and I were fitting into the conspiracy pretty good. Of course, at the time, we didn't think of our circumstances that way. I had spiraled down on the same jetliner of destiny as John and the other mechanics who'd committed suicide. The town of Layton's newspaper, The Standard-Examiner, had recorded each man's death. The paper's journalists began to notice a pattern too.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I yelled at the ghostly shadows floating outside my window. The shotgun in my mouth garbled my words again. I removed it and said to the creatures, “This has to do with the Air Force, doesn't it? You and the government are killing us one by one?”
None of the creatures answered my question, but several more shadows came into view as I shouted. They scratched the glass, taunting me.
I'd tried to shoot at those flying things a couple weeks before, but none of them fell. Who knows if I'd hit any of them. They could fade in and out of reality, like cockroaches slipping between cracks in the air. I'd blasted out my own sliding glass door and a few windows while firing at them. The next day, I nailed up OSB boards to seal the holes.
None of my neighbors called the cops, and, hell, they had to of heard me shooting. Those folks wouldn't even let a dandelion peek its head above ground without reporting it to the HOA. I didn't understand how or why they'd ignored my shot gun blasts and watched me board-up my windows without a complaint.
I had a lot of time to ruminate on things like that after Jan left. When all you have to do is sit on cardboard boxes—because your wife took all the furniture—and think about whether you're crazy or not, the whole world goes askew. It thins and wavers to the point that words like “dream” and “reality” mean nothing.
This little waking nightmare had become my reality. Still reluctant to put my mouth over the shotgun barrel and toe the trigger back again, I thought of how John, me, and all the other suicidal mechanics at Hill Air Force Base were connected.
Just like John, I'd been a whiz kid when it came to fixing things. Lockheat Honeygood, The Air Force, Uniter, and North Country Airlines all came sniffing around, offering to recruit me before I'd even left Jo Byrns High School. Then all my prospects just up and disappeared, but I kept waking up in weird places with grease stains and cuts on my hands.
I'd lose days or weeks sometimes. My parents accused me of doing drugs, and I didn't know what to tell them. I just drank with my buddies sometimes. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me. My girlfriend Sharice thought aliens were abducting me. Eventually, I just accepted these blank spots in my life. It helped me forget them.
My blackouts stopped when I was halfway through my senior year. I ended up paying my own way through plane mechanic school, meeting Jan, and working on private jets in several states until I landed a job at North Country Airlines in Minneapolis.
North Country and a few other airlines went belly up because of fat, lazy unions and greedy executives. Me, John, and a bunch of other mechanics jumped ship before the North Country went bankrupt. We found ourselves working for Hill Air Force Base. One by one, our wives left us, we lost everything, and we killed ourselves.
I started making these connections while I was still working at the base. My bosses were watching me, waiting for me to screw up—just like John—so I made sure I did everything right.
My bosses started giving me “random” drug tests every week. By then, the creatures were keeping me up all night. I double-bolted my doors and windows, waiting for the monsters to make their move. Meanwhile, Jan was coming in later at night, smelling of beer, smoke and cologne. She had never been a bar hopper, and I couldn't believe she was cheating on me. I accused her of conspiring with the Air Force against me. She never fessed-up to adultery or conspiracy, but she left me and took everything we had anyhow.
The creatures, the Air Force base, and all the mechanics who'd passed away had something to do with each other. I knew I was prime looney bin material, but I wasn't crazy. Something was going on. I just couldn't fit all the parts together. The only thing I could tell for sure was why Jan had left me. The Air Force or the things outside my window, maybe both, wanted me to kill myself. They'd put Jan up to pretending adultery so I'd lose hope.
The other mechanics' women had cheated on them. John's wife Darcy, for instance, had run off with some fly boy who was temporarily stationed on the base. Darcy flaunted her affair until the day she and the fly boy drained all of John's joint accounts and took off for Colorado. When Darcy left, John called it quits. He slit his throat and passed the conspiracy on to me.
“This is what you want, isn't it?” I asked the shapes rap-rap-raping against my living room window. "You want me to think no one, not even my kids, loves me?" When one flying silhouette dissolved, another took its place. “Well, I know love is rare in this day and age, but you done screwed up on that note. You and your black ops buddies over at the Air Force tried to make it look like Jan cheated on me, but I knew she didn't. I could see it in her eyes.” (My daughter Felicity had also texted me a single word: "Sorry.")
Those two instances had kept me alive up to that point. Still, loneliness and despair had nearly smothered my hope.
I thought back to when I'd asked Jan about her late nights and the cologne smell. She tried to act cold and distant, but I knew her better than that. Her eyes were watery, dark, and wide. Her lip quivered a bit, and her head began to shake. I'd only seen her act like that once before, when my daughter Trixie told us she was deploying to Afghanistan with the Marines.
Someone or something was threatening Jan, forcing her to push me away and destroy our home. She'd left me because it seemed like the best thing to do. She couldn't say anything because then she'd have blown the ruse. Jan and I loved each other very much. The alternative to giving up our love must've been too horrible for Jan to consider. Maybe the Air Force had said they'd torture Jan or the kids. I needed to believe this story, whether it was true or not.
“Ha,” I said, pointing the shotgun at the window. “I still got hope. You bastards aint got me yet.” I laughed. It was a strange sound, coming from some deep, animal part of myself. I walked up to the window and swept the curtains aside with the gun barrel. This was the first time I'd dared look at the creatures for a while.
Some of the flying monsters backed away. Others tried to darken themselves and blend in with the night. They reached for me with long, skinny talons. Their yellow irises surrounded big, black pupils. Their mouths were shaped like snapping turtle beaks. Each monster had a different pattern of gray and black lines on its skin. Their wings wriggled like a cross between fins and bat wings. Each creature was about three feet tall.
“You guys ever hear of hunting?” I asked. One of the creatures let out a high-pitched scream, and some of the others flew into little black slits in the air. “Oh no you don't,” I said, running for my front door. “It's time for a reckoning.” I cursed the extra dead bolts and chains I'd installed as I fumbled with them. Then I swung the door open and ran out into the night.
Everything was silent. All the creatures had disappeared for the moment. A drop of rain hit my nose. The neighborhood looked safe and suburban. A big Ford Crown Victoria down the street sped off. I heard footsteps on the roof above me, and I gasped.
A deafening screech sounded from the sky. Flinching, I swung my shotgun upward. Five, maybe six, creatures dived down on me. I shot one, pumped again, shot again. A carcass flopped on my shoulder and threw off my aim. Then they were all on me, clawing away. I managed to hold onto the shotgun, and I kept firing, despite the fact my eyes were closed. When I ran out of rounds, I swung my gun like a club.
The creatures were small and weak, but fast. Sweat and blood soaked my tattered clothes. My smoker's lungs wouldn't hold much air. I began to pant. My arms got weak, and I collapsed onto one of the fallen monsters. I wanted to see my fate, so I opened my eyes.
All the creatures had left. Two dead ones lay limp on the doorstep. One lay beside me. I'd fallen on the other one. Just about that time, a cop car came rolling up to my house with sirens blaring.
This story is both a stand-alone narrative, and part of a blog novel. To read the other chapters in this book, click on the links below. The Mechanic 2 and all other stories on Tim's blog are written and copyrighted by Tim Miller. Please contact him regarding publishing or redistribution at firstname.lastname@example.org. All the chapters in this novel will inevitably change as I create and edit more chapters. Thanks for reading The Mechanic 2.
Illustration by Andy Petersen
Chaper One: The Mechanic
Chapter Two: The Walker
Chapter Four: The Walker 2
Chapter Five: The Hunter
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 Thirteen: The General
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: barefoot running worlds other creatures monsters shotgun remington mechanic northcountry airline air force base suicide conspiracy
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