Becky Dunsworth could not believe her eyes when she and her boyfriend, Thomas Woods, emerged through the thick wall of spruce trees. Just as news agencies around the world had broadcast, Becky saw for herself that the town of Hume, Nova Scotia was dead. Some buildings remained intact; some were just shells surrounded by piles of rubble, and others had been completely demolished. She looked down at her feet and saw the paved street that they now stood on was badly damaged and showed years of neglect.
“I told you it was still here,” Thomas said, smiling.
“So that means their explanation all those years ago was just…” she trailed away.
“It was just a cover story to hide the truth.”
Thomas slid his backpack down off his shoulder, unzipped it and began rummaging around until he found what he was looking for – a digital camera. He took the lens cap off and turned it on, the LCD screen illuminating his face. It was only three o’clock in the afternoon but the sky was so overcast and grey that it made it seem closer to dusk.
“This is going to be great, Becky. We can finally prove that what’s his name, that Douglas guy, wasn’t off his rockers when he submitted his manuscript about what really happened here.”
Becky grinned, feeling excitement brewing inside of her but at the same time feeling a sense of dread. It was a small feeling and she quickly put it on the backburner so they could get down to business.
They started walking down what was once the main street in Hume – Williams Avenue. Every few steps, Thomas stopped and snapped off some pictures of the buildings. There were a few burnt-out cars scattered along the street but other than that, there was nothing obstructing their path. A Canada Post mailbox lay face down on the street, its slot wide open; a few yellow and weathered envelopes stuck out.
“Thomas, do you think what Michael Douglas wrote about was true?” Becky asked.
He lowered the camera and looked at her. “What, that strange creatures came out of doorways in our so-called reality that were made by flying discs?” He raised the camera again and took a picture of her. “I can tell you that I don’t believe that this place was destroyed by a tsunami, like the official reports said.”
They continued to walking with their footsteps echoing throughout the ruins. They soon came to the only junction on Williams Avenue and knew that they had reached the center of the town. Hume only had a population of three hundred when it was suddenly wiped off the map.
Only it wasn’t wiped off, Becky thought. Something had happened that the government felt the need to cover up.
A rustling of paper caught her attention and she looked toward the origin of the noise. In another fallen mailbox to her left, an old newspaper lay inside. She walked over to it, reached inside and pulled it out.
It was an issue of the Hume Daily News, dated July 3rd, 1990. The main headline was about Hume’s mayor stepping down, but the bottom right of the paper displayed a small story about reported UFO sightings.
“Hey Thomas, check this out.” She walked over to him. “It’s a paper from the day Hume was destroyed! I can’t believe it survived over twenty years inside that mailbox.”
Excitedly, Thomas took it from her and pulled a file folder from his backpack. “We have to keep this and put it somewhere in our book exposing the cover up.”
The wind had picked up and as they were about to continue on, a loud flapping noise made them both look around.
It sounded like heavy curtains molested by a strong wind through an open window. Puzzled, they started looking around for the source of the flapping.
“Up there,” Thomas said. He pointed up a street from the junction. He could barely make out the words Ferguson Road on the street sign. “Come on, let’s go check it out.”
Becky’s feeling of dread returned, stronger than before, but she again dismissed it as the excitement in Thomas’ eyes was infectious. They started up Ferguson Road but then stopped, mouths agape.
The sound originated from the edges of a large tear flapping in the wind. A fence encircled the tear, the base of which was roughly eight feet tall and made of solid concrete. Large steel rods poked straight out, reaching the top of the tear. Chain-linked fencing, as well razor and barbed wire, were strung up from pole to pole, coming together at the very top like a roof. The fence looked well maintained, which worried Becky.
“Holy shit, can you believe it?” Thomas said. “It’s just like he said it was.” A grin was starting to poke at the corners of his mouth. “The tears were… are real.” He raised the camera and started taking pictures. “Help me find something that I can climb to actually get a look inside that hole.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Thomas,” Becky said.
“Not a good idea? Are you crazy? I need to photograph it to get the evidence we need.” He looked around and saw a bench a few yards away. “Help me move that over.”
Before she could protest, Thomas was already sprinting over to the bench. She sighed and followed. The bench, at one time, had been bolted into the sidewalk but the bolts had long since rusted out. They each grabbed an end and began to carry it towards the fence. Becky glanced down and saw the initials “I.R. + L.E” carved into one of the boards, wondering who they were and what had happened to them.
“Set it here,” Thomas said. The bench was placed against the concrete base. “Pass me the camera once I climb up there.”
Becky nodded but her eyes protested. “I don’t like this.”
“I’m just going to snap a few pictures and then we can be on our way out of here. Okay?”
She nodded again.
Thomas stood on top of the bench and with a grunt, pulled himself up onto the top of the concrete base, careful not to cut himself on the barb or razor wire. He found a section of chain-link fencing and grabbed a hold, peering through it. His face gave an expression of utter disbelief.
“What is it?” Becky asked.
“Just like he had written in the manuscript,” Thomas replied. “It’s making my fillings tingle! There’s a bluish-grey light coming through this rip. I can almost make out some features on the other side!”
“Here, just take the camera and hurry up!” Becky thrust the camera towards Thomas and he squatted down to reach it. His fingers clasped around the camera’s body and pulled it up. Using one hand to keep his balance, Thomas stood, raising the camera to his face.
He got off two pictures before it happened.
A creature jumped up through the tear onto the fence. It was the size of a large dog and had what Becky could only describe as four spidery legs. Its head was level with Thomas’ and before he could react, a stinger shot from the creature’s face, piercing his eyeball. The stinger retracted quickly and the creature jumped down.
Thomas screamed and fell back to the ground, just missing the bench.
His face already started to swell; the pressure pushed the remainder of his eye from its socket. Becky put her hands to her mouth and was about to scream when three gunshots rang out. Thomas’ body jerked three times as bullets penetrated his chest, putting him out of his misery.
Becky realized that there were masked men on either side of her.
One held a flamethrower and shot a thick stream of flame onto Thomas’ body. There was a sickening crackling, like logs burning in a campfire, as the flames engulfed his corpse. The swelling along his face burst open and smaller versions of the creature that stung Thomas’ eye came crawling out; in high-pitched squeals, they met their death within the flames.
“Holy shit that was close,” one of the soldiers said.
Becky turned to look at them, counting six soldiers in all. They were all wearing some sort of metal body armor that she had not seen before. The armor completely covered their bodies, appearing bulky yet light enough as to not impede the soldier’s speed or agility. Their helmets connected to the shoulders, the lenses covering their eyes giving off a faint green glow, and their breathing sounded like it was going through a respirator.
All were heavily armed.
Three of them, including the one with the flamethrower, moved towards Thomas’ body to dispose of it while the rest remained with her.
One moved to lift his helmet. There was a hiss of air escaping as he did so.
“Is there anyone else here besides the two of you?” he asked. He had a handsome yet hard stereotypical soldier face.
Sobbing, Becky shook her head no.
He raised a finger to his ear, activating a radio.
“General, the situation has been neutralized,” he said. “Only two of them, one casualty.”
Becky could not hear the reply but she could tell by his expression that he was being told something.
“Understood, sir.” He switched the radio off.
“My name is Corporal Bollea. We’re going to escort you to a safe location and make sure you’re alright before we get you out of here.”
He pulled the helmet back down and started walking. Two soldiers, on either side of her, gave a gentle push to encourage her to follow their presumed leader.
They didn’t walk very far before they stopped in front of one of the buildings that was still intact. A faded and partially burnt sign read Jerome’s Bakery. Corporal Bollea pushed through a boarded up door. Becky stepped through and stopped when she saw what was in front of her.
In the middle of the room was a giant pit and in the bottom were piles of bodies. There were human and animal corpses, and even some that she couldn’t identify. Horror dawned on her as she realized it was a mass grave.
She heard a click behind her as Corporal Bollea held a pistol up to the back of her head and fired a single shot. Her body fell forward and landed on top of the heap of bodies with a heavy thud.
“That’s a shame,” one of the soldiers said in a deep voice. “She was a pretty girl.”
“The general wants us to make alterations to the perimeter so that we won’t be having any more visitors,” Corporal Bollea said. “These fucking kids. Why do they think this town is a playground?”
“They don’t believe the bullshit cover story they were given so they want to find out for themselves,” another soldier said. “Hell, I didn’t believe it when they told me.”
Corporal Bollea ushered the two soldiers out of the way and stepped from the building, pulling the door closed.
“The general wants us from this moment on to neutralize any intruder the minute they step foot in Hume. Is that understood? No more sightseers.”
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved
18 thoughts on “Sightseers”
Curiosity killed the teenager apparently.
Love the sci-fi element Jon
Thanks a lot, Leslie! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Nicely done, Jon. I had echoes of ‘The Mist’ and ‘Chernobyl Diaries’ reading this. Love a little suggestion of cosmic horror. Perhaps one day we could read about the initial fall of Hume, told from the perspectives of its residents?
Thanks a lot for the comments, Thomas! Funny you should ask as I’m working on the second draft of a novella that lays out the fall of Hume. Thanks for reading, sir!
Reblogged this on Monster Lane and commented:
My short story SIGHTSEERS is up this week at Pen of the Damned
Reblogged this on From Bright Minds Come Dark Things and commented:
Sightseers by Jon Olson
Thanks a lot for the reblog, Craig!
great story Jon, really enjoyed it . 🙂
Thanks a lot Magenta! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Super story, Jon! I love horror and I love sci-fi. This story has both done very well and even adds in a few snarky remarks and a cover-up angle. Not that that would ever happen in the real world. 🙂
Thanks a lot Blaze! I love sci-fi/horror and I’m glad you liked it! As we all know there are no cover ups and our elected officials always tell us the truth.
Yes, Jon, the honesty of our elected officials is to be admired greatly. 🙂
Awesome job! I absolutely love stories like this. Did you by any chance see the horror flick Sightseers? Nothing like your tale, but I know you’ll dig it.
Thanks a lot, Hunter! And no, I haven’t seen that movie yet but I will definitely check it out!
Great story, Jon! Loved the mystery and conspiracy, but most of all, the ending. Bravo!
Loved your story, Jon! 🙂 Anything involving a government conspiracy is right up my alley! I liked that you seemed to ‘lift’ your story from a larger piece – whether true or not, what you have does beg for further exploration!! Well done, Jon!! 🙂
Excellent story, Jon. Great yarn, and written very tightly with pointed precision. I love the conspiracy angle, and the tension build was perfect – right up to the point the reader was supposed to figure out Becky was a goner! Really, an excellent piece!
Jon, please forgive me for taking so long to post a comment. It certainly is no reflection on the story. This is a superb tale! The cover-up is delightful and the story line is oh so much fun!