Short Story Continued

An Unlikely Companion

Roger couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  The news was disturbing, and almost far-fetched enough to be made up.  But given the sincerity and tone of Mike, he knew it had to be true.

“This is heavy, man, I mean the implications of what you’re planning to do.  Something like this has never been attempted before; at least not that I know of.”

“I know, Roger.  Believe me when I say I have thought of nothing else for the past twenty four hours.  This is the only way to preserve mankind and hopefully undo any damage I may have already caused.”

“But the lives that have already been lost, Mike.  The innocent people, I mean I just can’t…”

“Nothing can be done for them; it’s already too late.  And don’t forget this has affected me just as much as it has affected the millions who have already been impacted, or will be impacted.  I lost my entire family.”  Tears welled up in the corners of his eyes, ready to roll down his face and cheek.  “My children and wife died at the hands of these barbarians, all because of a mistake I made.  It’s nauseating and I cannot live with myself.”

Roger put his head between his legs and took a deep breath.  “How far away would I need to be to survive?  I mean, do I even have a chance?”

“I don’t know, Roger.  We have never dealt with anything like this.  But if my calculations are accurate, you would need to be as far east as Nebraska, and as far west as Nevada or California.  There just isn’t time for you to get that far away.  If you can’t get away, hopefully the rest of them cannot either.”

Roger shook his head; his face turned a deep shade of white.  He looked like he would be sick.  “I guess I really don’t have a choice, do I?  I can sit back and wait to die, or get off my ass and actually do something to help stop this before it spreads.”

“I’m sorry to lay all of this on you, Roger.  I know it can’t be easy to hear, nor to deal with.  But I know this will work.  It has to work.”  He paused while he considered his next words. “I would really enjoy having someone with me.”

Roger stood up.  “Well, let’s go then, Mike.  No reason to delay what we have to do.”

Mike nodded as he rose to his feet.  “I appreciate this, Roger.  You will never know.  But we have the opportunity to save humanity, and to me that makes it all worthwhile.”  He walked outside.  “Which car is yours?”

Roger walked up behind him.  “It’s that one over there.”  He pointed to a mid-90s sedan.

Mike shook his head.  Of course it would be a piece of crap.  “Well that piece of crap isn’t going to work.  We’ll have to take one of the other ones, and I’m afraid it isn’t going to be appetizing.”  Mike spotted a pickup truck parked at one of the pumps and walked over to it.

The door stood ajar as he approached the truck.  He peeked his head inside as Roger ran up behind him.  The driver’s seat was empty, but a corpse sat in the passenger seat.  The stench was overwhelming.  He ran to the passenger door, but it was locked. “Roger, hit the switch to unlock the doors.”

Roger hit the toggle switch, before peering into the vehicle.  He spotted the dead body in the seat and quickly vomited, releasing everything in his stomach.  Although he had seen bodies littering the ground during the day, he wasn’t prepared for the close-up, gruesome sights and smells.

Mike pulled the corpse from the passenger seat of the truck.  It hit the ground with a disturbing sound. The arm he yanked on separated from the body. He was surprised how quickly the bodies were decomposing.  He knelt down to examine the corpse more closely with his flashlight, and spotted a green liquid surrounding a wound to the arm.  He didn’t know what it was and shrugged it off, returning his focus to the task at hand.

He walked back over to the driver’s side of the truck and told Roger to get in.  He threw the duffle bag onto the middle of the bench seat.  He reached the ignition to start the truck, but the keys were not there.  “Damnit!”

Roger opened the door as Mike cursed.  “What now?”

“The keys aren’t here.  We’re not going anywhere without them.”  Mike looked around the cab of the truck and spotted a purse lying on the floor in front of the passenger seat.  “Toss me that purse.”

Roger threw the purse to Mike and began to climb in. The seat was filled with blood and feces left behind by the corpse that previously occupied the space.  He wanted to throw up again, but was able to keep it down.

While Mike dug through the purse to find keys, Roger ran to his own car and grabbed a couple of t-shirts from his backpack in the trunk.  He ran back to the truck and heard it roar to life; Mike must have found they keys.  He wiped down the seat with one of the t-shirts, using water from one of the bottles they grabbed from the store.  Before sitting down on the seat, he laid down the other t-shirt while Mike urged him to pick up the pace.  He knew he shouldn’t care, but he couldn’t bring himself to sit in another person’s waste if he didn’t have to.

“You ready now? Anything else you would like to grab?” Mike asked the young man; sarcasm filling his voice.

“Easy for you to say.  You’re not sitting in a seat once occupied by a dead person.”  Mike’s jaw fell open. “What?  What’s wrong?”

Mike frantically dug into the duffle bag and pulled out one of the Glocks. “Have you ever shot a gun before?”  He handed him the weapon.  “Because you are about to come face to face with one of the creatures.”

“Of course.  Growing up, I hunted with my father.”   He finally understood what Mike was referring to.  He fearfully turned his head and looked out the window.  He couldn’t see the creature, but he spotted movement in the field to the north.  Whatever it was, it moved quickly.

Mike slammed the truck in reverse and angled it toward the oncoming creature. It was running directly toward them; moving at a speed faster than a moving car. Roger jumped out of the truck and dropped to a knee.  He thumbed the safety, and steadied the gun and tried to control his breathing.

“Aim for the head.  If you shoot it in the body it will keep on coming.”

He could here his father in the back of his head, barking orders at him on how to shoot, but he knew he didn’t have much time.  With the creature in his sights, he took a deep breath and held it, before squeezing the trigger.  He missed the creature who bared down on them.  Upset with himself, he lined up another shot, calmed his nerves through several deep breaths, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger again.  The shot was true and hit the roaring creature above its left eye, or what Roger thought resembled an eye.  The creature had slowed its approach, but still wasn’t dead.  Roger repeated the exercise and put a second shot through its head.

The creature wasn’t like anything he had ever seen before.  The skin was a deep, murky green color and I was shiny, as if it were wet.  The eyes were large and black, in the shape of an oval, with no whites surrounding the pupil; just pure and utter blackness.  Sharp pointy fangs took the place of normal teeth, and a green fluid slowly flowed out if its mouth. Instead of hands, it had long, sharp and serrated fingers that resembled claws.  The arms hung down longer than human arms.  The creature was definitely not human and had to be from another planet.

Roger shook all over.  Adrenaline coursed through his body, and he was unable to comprehend what had happened in the previous thirty seconds.  “Jesus!  Even after your description of what we are up against…I wasn’t prepared for that.”  He dropped the gun on the seat of the truck and began to pace, running his sweaty hands through his thick, dark hair.  He took deep breaths and cussed, trying to get himself under control.

Mike got out of the truck and yelled to Roger.  “Snap out of it, Roger! We gotta go, man.  If there was one out there, more are sure to be around.”

Roger kicked the tire of the truck, before getting in.  “I don’t know if I can do this. It’s just too intense.”

“I understand your fear, but I could really use your help. It’ll get easier.  I promise you that.”

Roger nodded his head and Mike slammed his foot on the gas, screeching the tires, and fish-tailing the rear end of the truck as he left the gas station in their rear-view mirror.

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