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 scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the links below.
I hit the floor, expecting a barrage of bullets to riddle our cabin hideout. Berkenkotter had just run out the door, blasting away at the monsters, People in Black (PIB), and Blackwood mercenaries who'd materialized out of the forest. He'd gone that way to try and save his wife Jan. We're screwed, I thought. There are too many of them. I clenched my pistol
Everything was quiet. I crawled towards the open door and tried to peek outside. A murder of Fliers flapped into the cabin and fell on me. I fired two shots, but the sheer weight and strength of the little bastards held me down. A fluttering sheet of black and gray blinded me. Struggling did nothing. Dozens of clawed hands and feet dug into my skin and yanked me upward into the air.
The Fliers had thinned out enough so that I could see between them. As they carried me out the door, I saw that two of them had fallen into heaps on the cabin's plank floor. Pools of green blood spread beneath the crumpled aliens. I felt their fluids dripping from my back.
"Just make it quick you bastards," I said as the Fliers carried me through the air. "Figures. Three tours of duty, and I get killed by some flying monkeys. What the..."
The Fliers dropped me on the stone walk in front of the cabin. I hopped to my feet, but three PIBs and twelve mercenaries were pointing their weapons at me. I raised my hands. Berkenkotter was standing to my right. His shins and wrists were bound with zip ties. A PIB came forward and tied me up. I didn't bother to resist.
The man with the Brigadeer General's star stepped in front of us. Beside him was the hulking monster, around which many Fliers hovered. The big creature had Berkenkotter's wife by the hair. Jan's eyes were glazed-over. She followed the skeletal monster without complaint.
The towering ceature had gray, wrinkled skin. Its muscles, bones, and popping veins were angular and twisted. Ending in a feline snout-of-sorts, the monster's face was long, but human-like. When I tried to look at it, my vision grew dark and I felt like a bunch of knives were pointing at my back. The creature smiled at me, revealing a row of rotting, jagged teeth. I heard its voice in my head: None of this is real, but I can kill you all the same. You never made it out of Iraq. You've gone mad. An out-of-body image of me lying alone in the desert flashed across my vision.
Then the monster focused on Berkenkotter. His eyes were locked on his wife.
The General said, "I am General Ian..."
"...Thompson," Berkenkotter said. "But I shouldn't remember that, should I?"
"Oh no," Thompson said. "You're following your programming quite well. But the need for your program has come to an end. Do you realize that?"
"I am not a machine," Berkenkotter said. "I fix them. You don't control me."
"Ah, but we have controlled you," Thompson said. "You and your buddies helped us create the field generators." The General had a Maine accent. He reminded me of an aged John Kennedy. "Do you remember?" He asked.
Berkenkotter struggled with his memory for a minute and said, "It doesn't matter. Let my wife go." His words had no force. He bit his lip and looked down.
Sounding perfectly reasonable, Thompson said, "You know that can't happen now. If you'd just killed yourself the way you were supposed to, none of this would've happened. We know Jan didn't do a good enough job of convincing you that your life was over, so now she has to die too." Thompson looked over at his big monster friend. "Go ahead Wendigo."
"No..." Berkenkotter said too late. The creature bent Jan back and bit out her throat. The blood from her neck gushed onto the paving stones. "Oh God," Berkenkotter cried, falling to his knees. The creature looked up at him and smiled. "That's it," the creature hissed. "Cling to her ebbing life. Follow it into the darkness. Give up. Everything you hold dear will die this way. But there's a place you can go in your head. A place where nothing needs to make sense. You'll find me waiting there..."
"Not yet," Thompson said to Wendigo "His wife is enough. You can feed on his shock, but don't drive him mad. His...resolve will prove useful in understanding how we can overcome future psychological resistance."
"The Wendigo do not need to understand," the monster said. "The Wendigo need to feed. Long, we've waited. We are ravenous." Several Fliers screeched and nodded their agreement.
I looked away as Wendigo bit a few more chunks out of Jan. Berkenkotter bawled and fought against his bonds until his wrists and ankle bled. Then, casually, Wendigo tossed Jan's remains aside. The Fliers fought over the rest.
"Kill me," Berkenkotter said, still kneeling. He put his forehead on the ground. "You've taken everything: All my hope and love."
"He's deliciously close to insanity," Wendigo said, licking the air with its long tongue.
Thompson said, "Nonsense Berkenkotter. Your daughters are still alive, and we may have more than one use for you yet. You've got the right idea though, groveling like that."
"Get on your feet," I told Berkenkotter. "Have some dignity." I don't know why, but I noticed our surroundings just then. The sky had a golden tinge to it. Alien plants sprouted among the trees. Many were as tall as the pines surrounding our cabin. Purple pineapple-like barbs lined the bark of these extraterrestrial trees. Bunches of swollen, fat leaves sprouted from their tops. Unworldly vines of strange colors snaked across the ground around us. Odd, spicy scents filled the air.
A sighing bellow came from somewhere on Bear Lake. The sound shook the ground. A shriek echoed among the pine tops too.
Wendigo looked at Thompson. "Those sounds are not of our worlds."
Thompson said, "The field generators had a ninety-eight percent success rate. The rest, for one reason or another, had the wrong vectors dialed-in at first..."
"The Wendigo are not prepared for others," Wendigo said.
Thompson shrugged. "Nothing is perfect. The problem has been corrected."
"Idiot," Wendigo said. "You cannot unbind universes. How many..."
Berkenkotter jumped at Thompson and wrapped his arms around the General's neck. I never thought the chubby old man could move so quick. Berkenkotter wrenched Thompson's head around, trying to pop it off. The General's neck cracked. He went limp. Berkenkotter kept jerking Thompson's head around until his zip ties had slit the General's throat open. Same as Jan's, the General's blood soaked the ground.
The PIBs and mercenaries opened fire on Berkenkotter. The Fliers flew into the sky to avoid the barrage. Wendigo disappeared. I hit the ground and began rolling toward the cabin, expecting someone to grab or shoot me. The ground shook. A roar echoed through the wood. My shoulder bumped the cabin's porch stair. I sat up and pushed myself up on the step. Berkenkotter lay, gut shot and bleeding, next to Thompson, who's head was twisted backwards and nearly broken off. Wendigo had disappeared, but some of the Fliers, PIBs, and mercenaries were still kneeling or laying in the clearing.
A huge, brown creature, with dozens of tiny legs, crawled up the path from the dock on Bear Lake. It roared, blasting the clearing with its rotten breath. My stomach turned. The monster's maw was long and full of teeth. Its head was the shape of a dull arrow. Its scales reflected the off-colored sun light.
The gigantic serpent-thing stood up on several rows of hind legs. It impaled two PIBs with its pincers. Government backed up into the trees and opened fire. Their rounds penetrated the creature's skin like pin pricks. The monster started catching Fliers out of the air and swallowing them whole. Another group of aliens swooped down to the clearing
These new creatures circled above the cabin like vultures. They were roughly the size of Wendigo, but stronger, and their faces looked human. Deer antlers jutted from their heads, but their feline bodies were covered in dark feathers. Their paws ended in bird talons, which they used to swipe Fliers from the sky. Some of these flying monsters landed among the pine trees, sniffing the air for humans. A couple of these hunters approached Berkenkotter and Thompson. One tore chunks from the General's stomach.
Piasaaaaaa, Wendigo's voice hissed in my head. We'll feed on you tonight. I looked around, but I couldn't see Wendigo. The creature laughed. None of this is real, it sang. Strawberry fields. You're dying in the desert. I looked around, and saw nothing but sand, sky, and desolation, The heat of the noonday sun burned into the gaping wound in my abdomen.
"No," I said. "This is wrong."
Wendigo laughed again, and I was back in the forest, on the cabin's porch, watching alien beasts eat men alive.
Before walking into a pine tree portal, one mercenary hurled a grenade at the gigantic creature that had crawled out of Bear Lake. The weapon detonated, taking a huge chunk out of the bug's flank. It screamed and began retreating down the path toward the water.
I hopped into the cabin and dug a hunting knife out of a kitchen drawer. I cut the ties around my feet and hands. I went to the duffel bag next to my cot and took out my backup handguns: A Colt Frontier six shooter and a Beretta Px4 Storm. Berkenkotter's other shotguns and rifles were still in the cabin too. I grabbed his bag and made for the door.
Running outside, I saw three of the big flying monsters, which Wendigo had called Piasa, helping each other tear the General's body apart. All the Fliers were gone by then. Wendigo said, Stiiiilllll heeerrrre, in my head. Berkenkotter had lived somehow. Two of the remaining Piasa had landed near him. He was in the process of kicking one in the face to keep it away. "Parker," he begged. "Help me, goddamn it. I'm bleeding gut-shot, but I aint dead."
I dropped our bags on the porch and fished another Winchester 20 gage out of Lance's belongings. I pumped a slug into its chamber and ran toward Berkenkotter. Wendigo winked-into view in front of me. Its long tongue licked the air. Peek-a-boo, it whispered. I fired a shot, but Wendigo disappeared agaub. Madnesssss, its voice echoed in my head. A picture of a burned-out mosque blinked in my head.
Disoriented, I shook Wendigo's thoughts from my mind. One of the Piasa sunk its teeth into Berkenkotter's calf. He screamed. I fired several more rounds, putting three good holes in the lungs and neck of the creature attacking Lance. The monster fell over and let out a death rattle.
The three Piasa who'd made a meal of the General took off into the sky. The one near Berkenkotter wouldn't give up its pray so easily. It looked at me with too-human eyes and turned its head. Our gazes met down the barrel of the 20 gage. I fired. The creatures side-stepped my shot and smiled.
"You're a smart one aren't you," I said. "But we don't have to do this. I just want my friend. There are other, easier things to eat around here."
The Piasa growled, nodded, and took off into the sky. I went to Berkenkotter, who was bitten, scratched, bruised, and shot in more places than I could count. "Good God," I said. "How are you still alive."
He groaned and said. "Get out of here. Help my daughters if you can. Wendigo's been talking in my head. It's still somewhere around here."
"Its stalking us," I said, putting Berkenkotter's shotgun in his hands and hauling him off the ground in a fireman's carry. "And I'm not leaving you." He grunted.
"Wendigo's just like the Fliers," Berkenkotter said. "It gets off on driving people nuts."
Carrying Berkenkotter through the alien wilderness, I said, "I got a feeling Wendigo is a Flier."
Berkenkotter passed out. I thought he was dead until his breath started rattling from his throat again. He'll need medical help ASAP, I thought. I opened up the Toyota and flopped him onto the passenger seat. Running back to the cabin, I felt a cool breeze move through the new landscape.
Strange mosses, bushes, and vines of dark purples, reds and neon greens had already consumed the bloodshed outside the cabin. I could only hope the road was still there. I reached down and grabbed our bags on the porch, wary of the strange sounds coming from the forest. As I turned around to make my way to the truck, Wendigo appeared again.
"You're just a scarecrow," I told the creature.
At that, Wendigo unhinged its jaw, revealing a dark cavern of rotting teeth. It put its claws up like an old movie vampire and ran toward me. Dropping my bags, I drew the Colt from my waste band. I knocked back the revolver's hammer with my free hand, but Wendigo was already on me. Just as the monster's claws nicked my face, it turned sidewards and disappeared. I screamed.
Wendigo's laughter echoed in my head.
I caught my breath. Then I carried me and Berkenkotter's stuff to the truck. We drove through the twilit afternoon, watching strange shadows slink among the trunks of new, unworldly forests along the way. Picked-clean skeletons and half-chewed corpses littered the roads of the nearby town Fish Haven
Berkenkotter's breathing got worse as time went on. I only stopped to stop his bleeding. Wendigo's voice haunted my thoughts along the way. I had no choice but to head back into Utah, where the population was more dense. There, I could find a doctor--or loot a doctor's office, at least.
Our world was gone. Without hope, I drove forward into death.
The Wendigo 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 Thirteen: The General
Chapter Fifteen: The Librarian
Chapter Sixteen: The Suburbanites
Chapter Seventeen: The Paralibrarian
Chapter Eighteen: The Blighted
Chapter Nineteen: The Captive
Tags: wendigo piasa alien extra-dimensional creature monster gun shotgun handgun bear lake air force mib pib
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