Are You Okay?

The knocking on the front door was heavy and relentless, like the pounding in Jim Argyle’s head. His mouth was dry with lips on the verge of cracking as he pushed himself off the floor. Jim rubbed his forehead trying to remember how he ended up on the kitchen floor in the first place.

“Come on, Jim, open up!” a voice yelled from the front door.

His tongue itched.

He noticed the small kitchen table and two chairs were overturned. Dishes were strewn, some broken, throughout the room and the fridge was wide open with its contents spilled out across the floor. The back door was slightly ajar.

What the fuck happened?

The front doorknob rattled as the pounding continued.

“Are you in there, Jim? Open the door!”

Jim stood up and staggered towards the front entrance smacking his lips, trying to moisten them. He fumbled with the latch until it unlocked and the door pulled open.

Tom Chesterfield was standing on the front porch, and his jaw dropped slightly when he saw Jim.

“Jesus,” Tom said. “What happened to you? Are you okay?”

The last thing Jim wanted to do was to try and give his brother-in-law an explanation.

“Yeah… just a little hung over.”

“A little hung over? I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Every time I called, you didn’t answer.”

Jim glanced over to where his phone sat, wondering why he wouldn’t have answered, then turned back to Tom. “I’m alright.”

“What happened?”

“I told you.” His tongue still itched.

“No, that’s bullshit. The last time we talked you claimed that something happened in your backyard.”

Jim frowned, trying to recollect the events of the last three days.

Tom placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t you remember?”

Jim shrugged but offered no further explanation, wishing his sister’s husband would leave him alone. Tom looked over Jim’s shoulder into the house, saw the overturned furniture then walked past him.

Reluctantly, Jim followed.

Squatting down, Tom picked up a milk carton and placed it back in the fridge. He glanced at the furniture, the broken dishes, then looked at Jim who lowered his head and let his shoulders sag.

“I don’t remember a thing about the last three days. The last thing I vaguely recall doing was talking to you on the phone.”

The itch on his tongue grew worse.

“So why’d you try to pass it off as being hung over?”

“It feels like a hangover. My head is aching like a son of a bitch and I’m parched. Toss in the memory loss and it sounds like one.” Jim bent down and flipped the table back onto its feet. “I do appreciate you looking in on me, though.”

Tom offered a slight smile but when he looked out the small kitchen window into the backyard, it disappeared from his face.

“What happened to your lawn?” Tom asked leaning forward for a better look.

Jim’s tongue began to twitch, making speaking difficult. “I do appreciate this, Tom, but as you can see I’m fine. You can leave now.”

“There’s a large patch of lawn torn up or something.”

Wishing Tom would go away, Jim began rocking on his feet as his tongue flapped uncontrollably inside his mouth.

“What happened out there?”

Tom slipped through the open backdoor.

As Jim stood alone in the kitchen, a ripple of calm washed through his body and his tongue stopped moving. He rubbed the back of his head, near the base of his skull then followed his brother-in-law outside, no longer feeling in control of his own body.

Tom was standing a few feet away from the house looking down at a large hole that had opened up in the ground.

“Do you think it could be an old mine shaft that they failed to fill in properly?”

Jim replied with words and a voice that were not his own. “No, Tom, that’s not what it is.” His recollection of the previous three days now clear in his mind. “The ground caved in with a slight shudder the other day while we were speaking on the phone.”

Tom pulled his eyes from the sinkhole and gave Jim a wary look. “I thought you didn’t remember?”

Jim continued almost mechanically, “There’s a colony of small, parasitic creatures living down there that have been around for a long time. For decades they remain below until it’s time to reproduce. That’s when they venture up to the surface to find hosts. One of them made its way up through the sinkhole, entering the house as I was getting ready to go out.” He could see vivid images of the worm-like shape wriggling quickly across the kitchen floor and up the front of his body, going for his mouth. “I struggled with it to no avail.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

With a quick swipe of his hand, Jim gripped the back of Tom’s head and brought it to his, locking lips. Within seconds, Jim’s tongue secreted a toxin that relaxed Tom’s jaw, keeping his mouth open. Jim began to heave, his mouth pressed against Tom’s until he regurgitated a thin eyeless worm with small hooks on the end of its tail. Using his own tongue, he guided it until it was in Tom’s mouth where it quickly found its way into the back of the other man’s throat.

When the deed was done, Jim pulled his tongue out and released his grip. Tom slumped to the ground gagging.

“What… did… you…?” Tom gasped.

“It’s how they breed,” Jim said. “It’ll grow quickly and take control of your body. Within three days it will have reached adult size and will then lay its eggs. Once they hatch, the young will feed on you, gaining what nourishment they need. At maturation, they will exit your body and travel to their underground home while I serve as the carrier to find more hosts.”

Tom struggled to speak but quickly fell unconscious.

“It’s not so bad,” Jim said. “They allow us to carry on with our lives as long as we don’t put them at risk. If we do something they don’t want us to do, they simply take control and don’t allow it.”

As if to reinforce his words, a tear formed, but before it could trickle down his cheek, it was absorbed back into his eye.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2016 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

4:09

The elevator lurches to a stop on the fifth floor and the orderly leads me out as the doors swish open. It’s always quiet up here. The carpeted floors, potted plants and framed paintings on the walls almost make you forget that you’re in a mental institution.

Dr. Quill’s office is the last door on the left at the far end of the hall. Harold guides me down; his hand gently gripping my elbow. In the five-plus years I’ve been here, the orderly has always been decent to me.

We stop in front of Dr. Quill’s door.

There are nice, stained-wood doors up here, while we’re stuck with steel ones painted a sterilizing grey.

Harold checks his watch and at precisely 4:00pm, he knocks.

“Come in, please.” Dr. Quill’s voice is faint and gentle.

Harold turns the knob and pushes the door open.

Dr. Quill’s windowless office appears smaller than it actually is thanks to four large book shelves that dominate the far wall. Each shelf is lined with expensive looking medical encyclopedias and I wonder if he’s even read one of them. There are two fake potted plants in the corners to my left and right.

The good doctor is standing behind his desk, smiling.

“Good afternoon, Xavier,” he says.

“Hello.”

Dr. Quill nods to Harold who turns and leaves, shutting the door behind him.

“Have a seat,” Dr. Quill says, gesturing to the single chair in front of his desk.

I take him up on his offer and sit. The chair has always been surprisingly comfortable.

“How are you feeling today, Xavier?” he asks, pulling his chair closer by the arm rests. A yellow pad of lined paper sits on his desk with his expensive pens. He takes the cap off one of them and holds the pen in his hand, ready to write.

I smile. “Fantastic.”

“And why is that?”

“Today is the day that all of this ends.”

He begins scrawling his notes on the pad. “All of what ends, Xavier? Our sessions?”

“Everything.”

More scrawls. “What time will this occur?”

“4:09.”

Dr. Quill stops writing and looks at his watch, then back up at me. His glasses are resting on the end of his nose and he has to tilt his head down  to look over them at me. “That’s a precise time… and so soon.”

“He’s waited long enough and sees no point in delaying his arrival any longer.”

“You are referring to…”

Sredna.”

“So Sredna is coming at 4:09?”

I nod. “I’ve told you all about him week in and week out for the last five years. I’ve been his conduit and you still don’t believe that he exists, do you?”

“He’s real to you.”

I giggle. “Very soon he will be real to you too, Doc.”

“What will happen when he gets here?”

“He will eat our reality.”

“You say it so matter-of-fact.”

“It’s what he does.”

Dr. Quill writes some more in his notes and is about to speak when he hears it.

A low hum that’s very faint but we both register it. My fillings begin to tingle and my heart beats faster.

He is coming.

A high-pitched shriek cuts through the air and all of the light bulbs explode in a shower of sparks. Dr. Quill jumps back, letting out a cry of surprise as the entire room is thrown into blackness.

It’s 4:09.

“Don’t worry, Xavier. The emergency lights will kick in any minute.”

His voice is muffled and seems far away. I cannot see him anymore in this blackness.

The blackness is moving, almost wriggling with no distinct shape.

Sredna.

I notice my skin is burning. The pain is excruciating yet I don’t scream as Sredna fills my mouth, rendering it useless. My skin dissolves, exposing muscle tissue and it too is quickly eaten away.

In what I can only guess to be a matter of seconds, the burning subsides and then…

…there is nothing.

Just Sredna.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

In the Clearing

George Sutherland followed Francine McKenna farther into the forest. His interest in Sasquatch had led him to join the Nova Scotia Bigfoot Hunters Society. When he met the group’s leader Francine, however, his priority instantly became to get into her pants. When she asked him to go with her on a short overnight expedition, he saw it as good a chance as any.

Only one tent for the two of them.

“Come on,” Francine said, looking over her shoulder. “Pick up the pace back there.”

Her red hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and although her cheeks were red from the excursion through the woods, George could still see her freckles. He couldn’t help but smile.

“Easy for you to say,” George said adjusting his backpack straps. “I’m the one carrying all of the heavy shit.”

“I can give you the lighter one if that one is too heavy for you. I bet the rest of the group would love to hear about that.”

George made a face but increased his speed, trying to catch up to her.

Clouds were slowly overtaking the blue sky that had been present earlier in the morning when they parked on the side of the logging road and ventured into the woods. Some blue jays chirping in the trees suddenly darted out, catching George’s attention. He didn’t see his boot catch the exposed root and fell forward with the weight of the backpack forcing him to the ground.

Francine laughed. “Are you okay?”

“Fuck sakes,” George said, pushing himself off the ground. “Where is the rest of the team anyways?”

“Matt and Ryder had to work and Beverly’s out of town visiting family. They’re going to regret not coming out on this one.”

“So exactly why are we out here? Why this particular area?”

Francine looked at him. “You mean besides living up to the NSBHS’s name?” She took out her cellphone, opened some files and handed it to George. “An old friend of mine, Bryan who works as a harvester for Triple L Lumber, sent me these photographs.”

The first few photos George flipped through consisted of large footprints in the ground and at the end were shots of reddish-brown fur snagged on tree branches.

“Those pictures were taken by different employees all within this eighty hectare plot,” Francine said. “They all reported experiencing a strong, foul odor like a combination of a skunk and wet dog as well as hearing loud grunts and sticks banging against trees. All classic evidence of Bigfoot.”

George frowned. “I know that I’m still relatively new to the group but we get dozens of emails from people with pictures like this, claiming to have seen Bigfoot. What makes these more special or significant?”

“There’s also been some other strange things going on up here. If you scroll to the end of the photos, you’ll see one that’s not related to Sasquatch at all.”

George found the photo she was referring to and looked at it.

There were four impressions in all, with two distinct prints. The first set was the smaller of the two with what looked like three knuckles side by side. The larger ones also had three knuckles and were further out to the sides. They also had small indentations that resembled bear claws.

“It kind of looks like whatever made these was running,” George said. He handed the phone back to Francine. “The way they are laid out reminds me of the way a gorilla runs.”

“Show me.”

George undid his backpack straps and slid them off his shoulders.

“Like this.”

He squatted down and then pushed off with his knuckles, landing on his feet and repeated for a few feet so Francine could see what he meant. She looked at the pictures, then at the slight impressions George had made in the ground and back to her phone.

“I can see it,” she said. “If we can find more evidence of this we may have something new for the cryptozoology books.”

***

It was sore from the struggle its previous prey had put up.

Unable to see, it relied on its sharp sense of smell that was still filled with the skunk-like smell of its previous meal. It was about to move on when it picked up on something else.

The smell was faint but recognizable.

Humans.

***

They trudged on, venturing deeper into the forest. The air was cool, yet humid, as summer was refusing to hand its reigns over to autumn.

“I’ve always enjoyed the smells of the woods,” Francine said. “It smells alive.”

“The bugs have always kept me away from walking amongst the trees,” George said. “Fucking things.”

“They don’t seem to be too bad now.”

George realized that he hadn’t heard the high-pitched buzzing in his ear for a while. He also noticed that the birds didn’t seem to be chirping either.

“Why is it so quiet?” George asked.

Francine looked at him, listened and shrugged with little concern for the silence.

They walked on and in the pit of his stomach, George thought it felt wrong. He opened his mouth to mention it but didn’t want to ruin his chances.

The trees started to thin out, which George was thankful for as it made walking easier. Eventually, they entered a clearing and were immediately hit by a strong stink.

“Holy shit, what the hell is that…?” George said covering his nose with his hand.

Francine gagged.

“It kind of smells like a skunk,” George said.

He looked at Francine and even though the smell was bothering her, she seemed to get excited.

“Sasquatch is reported to have a skunk-like smell,” she said.

“Or it could just be a skunk.”

“No, this is different. It’s really thick and… it does seem to have a wet dog scent to it.”

Although he smelled it too, George shook his head. “To me it still smells like a skunk, possibly a dead one, but a skunk nonetheless.”

“Let’s go find the source,” Francine said.

The clearing was roughly the size of a football field. An assortment of bushes had sprung up sporadically with a few small spruce trees here and there amongst the tall grass.

George started after her and immediately felt his body break out in goose bumps. He stopped and looked around. Something about the clearing made him feel very uneasy.

“Maybe we should…”

He was cut off by Francine yelling with excitement in her voice.

“Oh my God! George, get your ass over here! Hurry!”

She was standing near the far tree line, waving her arms frantically.

“Did you find the skunk?” George asked as he got closer.

Near the edge of the clearing was a body lying on its back, its arms jutting straight out to the side. It was covered in reddish-brown fur that fluttered in a gentle breeze except for the face, which was clean shaven. The eyelids were open slightly but the eyes had rolled back into its head with a wide, flat nose sitting just below them. Its mouth was slightly agape, showing yellowed teeth.

The body of a Sasquatch.

***

It could tell it was getting closer; the human scent was everywhere.  Very faintly, it could hear their voices.

Its pace quickened.

***

“I don’t fucking believe it,” George said.

“Do you know what this means?” Francine asked. “Get the camera out.”

“I still don’t believe what I’m seeing.”

“You can don’t believe all you want later.” Francine slipped the backpack off her shoulders. “Get the camera out and start shooting!”

George’s eyes, and brain, were still trying to comprehend exactly what they had stumbled across. He removed his backpack and let it fall to the ground hard.

“Hey, come on. Pay attention to what you’re doing.” She took her cellphone out of her backpack and began dialing.

“I’m going to give the rest of the team a call.”

George squatted down and began unzipping his backpack, but didn’t take his eyes off of the body. It was well over nine feet and the beast’s frame looked powerful.

His hands found the camera and he pulled it out. He turned it on, shifted his eyes from the body to the LCD screen and began taking pictures.

“Damn it,” Francine said. “I can’t get a signal out here.”

As he walked closer to the body, George zoomed in on the Sasquatch’s arms and noticed a puncture wound on each one. The fur and skin seemed to have been pushed to the sides. A hole, roughly the diameter of a pencil, penetrated through the tissue underneath.

“I really can’t believe that this is lying right in front of us,” Francine said. She knelt down beside the Sasquatch and held her hand out, hesitating to touch it. “This is incredible.”

As he took a few more pictures, George noticed the ground around the body was beaten down. A lot of the tall grass had been broken, as if it buckled underneath something heavy. Scattered around the ground were clumps of the Sasquatch’s fur.

To him, it looked like a fight had taken place.

George lowered the camera and looked at her. “It doesn’t look like it died from natural causes.”

Francine met his gaze for a moment then looked around at the surroundings. “I think you might be right.”

“So what killed it?”

***

It could tell it was near the clearing due to the trees’ smells fading into nothing more than background scents. The other odor was still there.

There were two human scents, a male and female, both of them nearby.

Despite its previous meal not too long ago, it was ravenous.

It entered the clearing.

***

George frowned.

“Does Bigfoot have any natural predators?”

“I’m not really sure,” Francine replied. “But, if I had to give an answer, I would say no.”

“So, I’ll ask again. What killed it?”

They both thought back to the strange tracks in the picture on Francine’s phone.

“Do you think those tracks are part of it?” Francine asked.

George opened his mouth to answer but saw Francine’s eyes open wide in fear.

Something slammed into him and tackled him to the ground, landing on his stomach. George struggled to turn over but he felt a sting in his back; within seconds a toxin entered his bloodstream, paralyzing him.  Although he could not move, George’s head remained facing Francine’s direction.

The thing that tackled him was already making its way towards her. It was hairless and running just as he had acted out earlier: running on its knuckles with its fingers curled underneath, like a gorilla.

Francine screamed and ran. The creature, however, was too fast and tackled her to the ground. Two stingers shot out of its palms into her back, just beneath her shoulder blades.

When she stopped moving, it turned its head to George.

There were no eyes; only nostrils constantly flaring and a mouth running vertically up its face. A large plate-like feature jutted out along its back, protecting most of the torso.

The creature began dragging her back to where George was lying. It released her and using the claws on its hands, cut into her forearm. George watched as it dug its hook-like teeth into her flesh and then the mouth opened, tearing tissue away from the bone. A penetrating sheath shot out of its mouth into the bone and it began to ingest Francine’s marrow.

George could only watch and wait, knowing that once it finished with her it would come for him.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Son of Fenrir

His left arm hung from its socket, the blood running from deep gashes down its length, dripping off his fingers in a steady stream and collecting in a pool on the ground next to his foot. Hunched over, tired, with labored breathing, he still held his axe tightly in his right hand. Blonde hair, caked in dirt, sweat and blood, hung in front of his hardened face covering blue eyes that had yet to concede defeat.

With a Viking’s defiance, Anders Randalson looked into the eyes of his opponent.

Wolf like and taller than the average man, the creature was made in the very image of Fenrir.

The beast was not without its own battle scars. A deep cut ran from its right ear down the face, narrowly missing its right eye and ending at the snout; its torso decorated with lacerations and contusions.

“You have fought bravely, Norseman,” the beast hissed, foam dripping from its parched and thirsty lips. “It is over, though. Accept your fate and I will make it quick.” It swallowed hard before continuing. “The Valkyries are here to take you to Valhalla.”

Anders let his eyes depart from the beast to take in his surroundings. Bodies littered the coastal plains, with the earth itself a crimson brown thanks to the liters of spilled blood. The trees that sporadically grew from the ground were bare and void of any vegetation, almost serving as markers of the fallen.

A caw caught Anders’ attention and he looked up to see two ravens land on top of one of the dead trees.

Odin’s ravens.

“They aren’t here,” Anders said, returning his gaze to the Son of Fenrir. “Not yet.” He grinned as he readied his axe, preparing for another clash.

The beast hesitated briefly, sighed, and quickly regained its composure. It smiled, baring dozens of razor sharp teeth. A guttural sound rumbled from deep inside its throat, erupting into an ear-splitting howl of rage as the two combatants charged towards one another with death on the line.

Anders raised his axe and swung it towards the beast’s head but his opponent was quicker. It dodged the axe’s blade and raked its claws along the side of Anders’ chain mail, slicing his skin underneath. The beast snapped at Anders’ face with its enormous mouth, its breath hot and foul on Anders’ skin, just missing him by inches.

Seizing an opportunity, Anders head butted the beast between its eyes and managed to strike it in the jaw with the blunt edge of his axe.

The Son of Fenrir roared in pain and anger, jumping out of the way at the last second as Anders tried to split its skull.

Wincing as the fresh cuts on his side burned, Anders could feel his strength draining with each labored breath.

“Look around you, Norseman,” the Son of Fenrir taunted, slowly circling him. “I can bring the end about quick and painless. You have earned your spot in the Great Hall.”

The ravens flapped their wings and cawed again.

“Almost,” Anders replied.

In a sudden burst of power and quickness that caught Anders off guard, the beast charged, throwing its shoulder into Anders’ chest. The blow sent the wounded Viking sprawling onto his back. Before he could push himself up, the beast was upon him. It tore through his chainmail, driving its claws deep into his gut. Anders screamed as the beast maneuvered its hand around until it was able to grip the bottom of his ribcage.

“I gave you two chances for a quick death,” the Son of Fenrir snarled. In a motion that sent agony rippling through Anders’ body, the beast lifted the Viking into the air. “Now I will make you beg for death in such a manner that the All Father himself will be ashamed of you.” It lifted him higher and Anders rolled his head back as he screamed.

In one final surge of strength, Anders swung the axe with all he had, surprising the beast. It tried to dodge it but was too slow as the blade cut into the skull, lodging itself inside the beast’s head.

Howling, it ripped its hand, along with shreds of entrails, out from Anders’ stomach, dropping the Viking onto the ground.

The Son of Fenrir tried to grab the axe’s handle and pull it out, but the blade had been buried too deep. It staggered a few steps to the left then limped to the right. The beast’s breathing became shallow as it dropped to its knees. It turned its head and looked into Anders’ eyes one last time, then fell forward.

It did not move again.

Anders turned his attention to the grey sky and saw the ravens flying overhead. With a final caw, they acknowledged the fallen warrior as the Valkyries flew down to carry Anders home to Valhalla.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Helplessly Above It All

I’m fourteen days, three hours and twenty seconds into the mission. So far the spacecraft has performed flawlessly, surpassing all expectations. It’s been rather comfortable as the capsule was designed with more room for the occupant than previous spacecraft.

When I was selected to be the commander of this mission, my wife got the biggest kick out of watching me jump around our little apartment with a big shit eating grin on my face. She said that…

…she said… why am I even bothering to mention her?

She’s dead.

So is everybody else.

I should never have taken this assignment. Prior to the launch, the administrators had told me to say a proper goodbye to her as tensions were high with our rivals across the pond. The risk of nuclear exchange was at its greatest, even more so than during the Cuban crisis.

I didn’t take it seriously.

The officials were still going ahead with the launch and I treated it as business as usual. I cringe remembering my last words to her.

“Keep the steaks warm.”

I watched helplessly above it all as hundreds of nuclear missiles launched from their silos. Had it been a simulation, I would have described the mushroom clouds sprouting up from the impacts as mesmerizing; however, knowing each one signaled the eradication of civilization, I felt numb. My radio had gone silent after a partial scream was obliterated in a roar of static.

That all happened on the second day of the mission.

Through each window, I can see the planetoid carcass that was once Earth. It used to be a beautiful sight with shades of white, blue, green and brown; a source of wonder and full of life. Now it’s an inhospitable cancer, smothered with the unnatural, burning clouds.

I left my radio on over those twelve days but only empty static and the ghosts of my memories kept me company. I would have loved to hear another human voice – even if it had been the enemy.

Not anymore.

I’ve just initiated my reentry procedure. Within minutes, my ship will fire its rockets one final time, propelling me back towards the nuclear polluted earth. When the moment comes to deploy the parachutes, I will simply sit back and enjoy the ride. I’d rather die in an impact crater on the earth’s surface than orbiting above it.

They fire right on cue and I feel the ship slowly descending into the atmosphere.

“Can anybody… me?” The voice crackles through my headset. “My name is…” A burst of static hisses then fades. “If anyone can hear me, please acknowledge…”

I lean forward to reply then stop. There’s no way I can interrupt the reentry procedure. Even if I could, what would be the point? As the flames begin to engulf the outside of my ship, I turn the radio off and lean back into my seat. There’s no reason to give him a false sense of hope.

Sorry buddy. You’re on your own.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Annual Hunt

Ed Rutledge hugged his rifle under his right arm as he adjusted his toque with his left. The early morning hours were always cold this time of year and the fact that it was the Annual Hunt just made it that much worse.

He was glad that he wasn’t facing the task alone, though. John Glasgow and Christian Stevenson were on either side of him as they made their way through the empty streets of Emmettsville.

“What time is it?”

John looked at his watch. “It’s almost four. We still have three and a half hours to go before dawn.”

“Good,” Christian said. “Three and a half hours to kill this fucker.”

Ed nodded.

It was his eighth time participating in the hunt and the forty-nine year old welder had become something of a legend around Emmettsville when just five years earlier he had successfully killed the first werewolf, Terry Indigo. He should’ve felt proud of the accomplishment, but he knew the feeling would be short lived as there would be a new werewolf to hunt the following year.

“There’s something that never ceases to amaze me,” Ed said. “Even though everyone in town is told to go to the church hall to wait out the hunt, the werewolf always manages to kill a few every year.”

“I wish a lot more people would leave their lights on,” John said. “These old street lamps create more shadows than they cut through.”

“There are two things I hate about the hunt,” Christian said. “The fact we’re not allowed to shoot the werewolf in human form or while it’s changing and that the werewolf has to bite someone every year.”

“The bite guarantees that there will be a hunt the following year if the hunters are successful,” Ed said. “Plus you never know what can happen between hunts. You two are aware that Brendon Jenkins has been the wolf for the last five years, correct?”

Both men nodded.

“Shortly after the hunt last year, Brendon got diagnosed with cancer and they only gave him six to eight months to live. He’s lasted twelve. I would say either way that this will be his last hunt.”

“Who was it last year?” John asked. “I mean, who got bit?”

“Carly Fortner,” Ed replied. “She was only fourteen.”

Christian shook his head in disgust. “I can’t believe he chose to bite a fourteen year old girl.”

The three hunters walked in silence as they remembered how Carly had been found crying with a large bite in her shoulder, knowing her fate had been sealed.

“That doesn’t mean that she’ll be the next one though,” John said. “Remember, Todd Charleston had been bitten in the second year of the hunt. He still hasn’t assumed his role. Strange how the disease or whatever it is only allows one person to change in a given area at one time. Why do you think that is?”

Christian shrugged and was about to say something when Ed held his arms out, stopping them. All three immediately brought their rifles up to the shoulders and looked about.

“What is it?” John whispered.

“There’s blood on the road.”

Ed walked up to the small accumulation of blood, knelt down and stuck two fingers into it. As he turned his hand over to look at his fingertips, he cringed. Even though he had seen his fair share of bodies over the years during the hunt, feeling someone else’s blood on his skin never got easy.

“It’s still warm,” he said, wiping his fingers on his pants.

“Is it a trail?” John asked.

“No. It’s a small pool but, it was left here deliberately. He’s close so keep your eyes open.”

Christian let his rifle drift down from his shoulder a bit as he looked at Ed. “Did you say it was deliberate?”

Ed nodded.

“Why would it…”

The attack happened incredibly fast. It leapt out of the shadows with a snarl and tackled Christian onto the pavement. Even in the shitty streetlight, the werewolf was an impressive and horrifying sight. Underneath the dark brown coat of fur was a six and a half foot muscular frame built to hunt man.

It easily bit through Christian’s shirt into his flesh.

John fired off a shot but not surprisingly missed. The werewolf howled as it sprung off Christian and disappeared into the shadows on the other side of the street. Within seconds, they heard it crash through branches into the woods.

Christian screamed, clutching his torn shoulder. “It fucking bit me!”

Ed and John both knelt down beside their injured friend but he turned away their assistance.

“I know how to take care of myself. Go kill that fucking thing!”

Without hesitating, Ed was on his feet and running. On the way by, he grabbed John by the back of his shirt, yanking him along towards the dark tree line.

***

Somewhere in the distance, the werewolf howled.

It felt like they had been going in circles for a couple of hours. John was breathing heavy and Ed knew that his friend was tired. The adrenalin from the attack had worn off long ago, and now they were barely able to keep on the werewolf’s trail.

“Ed,” John said between breaths. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said earlier… about Brendon being sick.”

“What about it?”

“Well, what do you think a disease such as that would do to a werewolf?”

Another howl pierced the night.

“Have you been listening to the howls?” John asked, looking around. “They don’t sound as strong or vocal as they did earlier in the night.” The werewolf cried out again. “Ed, to me the howls sound weak… almost as if the werewolf is sick.”

Ed thought for a moment. What his friend was saying sounded plausible – if the cancer did transfer over, how would it affect it?

“You might be on to something. What do you say we end this one?”

John sighed, nodded and pushed off from the tree.

They pressed on but had only walked another twenty minutes when they heard another howl that was quickly cut off by a high-pitched whine intertwined with pain.

The sounds were close by.

John looked over at Ed, clearly unnerved.

“What the hell is that?” John asked.

“I don’t know,” Ed replied.

The whining continued as they moved forward with their rifles repositioned for firing at a moment’s notice. Within a few minutes, the trees thinned out as they approached the area where the sound originated. They stepped into a small clearing and stopped with their mouths agape.

It was lying on its side.

The beast was convulsing as if it were suffering a seizure, it wasn’t completely transformed. Its lower extremities resembled a wolf’s hind haunches but the fur on its torso had started to rip, human skin pushing its way through. Partially formed hands twitched uncontrollably at the end of human arms.

“Oh my god, look at its face,” John managed to say before he threw up.

The head was a misshapen mess that reminded Ed of the bizarre animal fetuses he had seen in the freak show of last summer’s carnival – half Brendon, half wolf. Inside its malformed mouth, a tongue rolled and lapped up against its snout.

He cautiously approached and the beast tried to squirm away, but the tremors had eliminated any ability to control its movement. One golden wolf eye, along with Brendon’s own blue eye, stared back as he tried to come to grips with what he was looking at.

With a deep breath, Ed raised his rifle and fired twice into its head. Within seconds, the body lay still.

“Ed, what happened to it?” John asked. He stared long and hard at the misshapen corpse.

“It couldn’t change.”

John looked up to the sky and then at his watch. “It’s still not sunrise, so why would it be changing?”

Ed took his hat off and ran his hand over his balding head. “Maybe it was sick like you said.”

“Do you really think the cancer could interfere with a werewolf changing?”

Ed shrugged. “It’s possible.”

“This is fucked up,” John bent at the waist and placed his hands on his knees preparing for another round of vomiting. “Did you see its eyes?”

“Yes I did.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget those.”

“Neither will I,” Ed said as he watched John look over at the body and then back at him. “The wolf eye wanted me dead but its human eye…” Ed swallowed. “Brendon’s eye was pleading… pleading for me to kill him.”

“Oh my god…” John trailed off.

“You know, when I shot and killed the werewolf a few years ago, I had killed in the course of the hunt. I felt justified and like a hero.” Ed placed his hat back on his head and looked at the body. “This time, I feel like a murderer.”

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Lake Lurkers

Martin Maddox wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand and resumed hacking away at a particularly thick tree branch with his hatchet. He was halfway up his ladder preparing the large black spruce tree in front of his one level home on Lake McCready for the coming storm. There had been a few branches touching the side and roof of his house in need of trimming so they wouldn’t cause any damage during the high winds and rain of the impending hurricane. With a final swing, the hatchet powered through and the branch toppled to the ground.

“Just a few more,” he said. He climbed up two more rungs and began hacking away at another branch.

Hurricane Hazel had stormed its way up the eastern seaboard and was barreling toward Nova Scotia. It was expected to make landfall later that evening as a Category Two hurricane near the town of Westwood, only ten kilometers south of Lake McCready. Unless it made a sudden and drastic turn, Martin knew that he would be hit straight on.

When he finished chopping the last branch, he climbed down and started to pull the ladder away when something caught his eye. The tree’s roots were breaking through the soil. He applied a little pressure to the ladder and the root rose a bit, splitting more ground. Trimming the branches wouldn’t do any good if the root system was weak. The strong winds and rain would no doubt pull them free, causing the tree to fall wherever the elements desired.

He looked at his watch and it seemed time was against him, too. It was nearly five-thirty and he still had to board up the windows. He would have to roll the dice and hope that the roots held. Shaking his head, he placed the ladder aside, grabbed the branches from the ground and tossed them beside his small shed near the edge of the lake.

Martin took out large planks of wood he had purchased earlier in the year and carried them up the slight slope of the backyard to the house. Setting them down, he turned to retrieve his hammer and nails when he found himself staring at the edge of the lake. The calm before the storm triggered a memory he had buried since he was six years old. The threat of the hurricane had him dreaming snippets of it recently, but now it came back in full, leaving him just as terrified as he had been so many years ago.

***

He was in the same house, although it was a cottage back then. From the living room window, he watched the lake’s surface turn violent in the strong winds of Hurricane Gladys, the only other hurricane he had ever experienced. Over the wind and rain he heard barking and saw the neighbor’s German Sheppard, Hank, at the edge of the lake. Martin wondered why the dog had been left outside during the storm, but before he could think of a possible answer, six little creatures emerged from the water.

Initially, Martin thought they were fish until noticing their large hind legs and smaller front arms, all clawed, with mouths salivating at the prospective meal before them. Hank tried to jump away but they were on him quick. High pitched barks and squeals of pain pierced through the thunder and heavy rain – sounds Martin would always remember and never stop trying to forget. Hardly blinking, he watched as the dog was torn apart in mere seconds.

Stumbling from the window in absolute shock, he looked outside but the creatures were gone. The rain already washed away the blood that remained on the ground, leaving nothing to corroborate his story except a silly rhyme the other kids had taught him.

“The creatures lurk beneath the lake,
Leaving carnage in their wake.
Swimming hard and baring teeth,
Ravenous for a piece of meat.
Onto land they stalk their prey,
With deadly precision they strike and slay.
The feeding frenzy is a terrible sight,
No one can escape with all of their might.
It is a nightmare from which one cannot wake,
From those creatures that lurk beneath the lake.”

Not wanting to be accused of making up stories, he chose never to tell a soul.

***

Martin shook his head, pushing the memory back. He was losing precious time and moved quickly to retrieve the hammer and nails from the shed. The job went relatively quick compared to the trimming of the tree.

He looked up and saw that the sky was already overcast. Stealing a quick glance out to the lake, the water turned choppy as the wind picked up. Martin returned his hammer and nails to the shed and secured the door with a large lock. He made his way towards the house and realized that he had left the hatchet out front. Cursing, he went around and picked it up. He didn’t have the key to the lock on him, so he took the hatchet into the house.

Martin entered through the front screen door that slammed shut on its spring, then closed and locked the solid oak inner door in the kitchen. The house had been built with an open concept, with no real division between the kitchen and living room. Beige and green tiles covered the floor of both rooms. Two couches were set up to face the unplugged television sitting on the floor. On the walls hung a couple of paintings. One depicted fishing boats tied to a dock; the other, a lonely lighthouse standing guard over an unknown coast.

A table was set up between the couches and Martin placed the hatchet atop it. It also held essentials for the storm: three four liter jugs of water, some cold cut sandwiches he had made up earlier in the day, a first aid kit, a Coleman lantern and a single speaker battery-powered radio.

He could hear the wind gusting outside. The house seemed to shiver as he sat down at the table and turned the radio on. He adjusted the tuner with his thumb until he found the local station WOSK.

“… Hurricane Hazel has made landfall three kilometers outside of Westwood. No reports of extensive damage have been made but emergency crews are standing by and preparing for the worst. The Westwood Police Department, as well as the RCMP, have asked that people remain in their homes and stay off of the roads as well as…”

A loud burst of static cut through just as the power flickered and went out. Martin attempted to find another station but only found more static and white noise.

As night began to fall outside, he could see lightning flash between the boards on the windows, followed by booming claps of thunder. The rain pounded against the siding and roof like golf balls. Martin turned the Coleman lantern on and bit into his sandwich.

He gasped when he heard a high-pitched shriek within the wind. He waited, but didn’t hear it again. He returned to his meal.

After another crash of thunder, Martin started hearing scratching noises. They were quiet at first, and he initially thought they were tree branches scraping against the house. The scratching, however, echoed from different parts of the house and sounded deliberate.

“What the hell is…” he began but stopped when a wet thump sounded at the door.

He stood and took a step when another thump came from one of the windows.

And another.

Then another.

They almost seemed to drown out the symphony of the storm. Martin couldn’t help but think that the carnivorous little bodies were slamming into the house, trying to find a way in.

A shriek from outside the door pumped his heart faster – even more so when it was answered from the back of the house.

There were more shrieks and more thumping knocks. He could almost see their little teeth trying to chew through the wood when a strong gust of wind shook the house violently; he heard a tired moan coming from outside. The knocks and shrieks stopped suddenly.

Oh shit! The tree!

A heavy thud hit the roof, shaking the house and causing Martin to squat lower to the ground. The ceiling gave way; the black spruce crashed through amidst a blizzard of debris.

Martin dove but a branch struck him in the head, knocking him to the floor, severely dazed. The tree landed just a few feet away, crashing through the table and scattering all of the emergency supplies. Rain flooded his house as he stared up through the large hole in his roof. A flash of lightning illuminated not only thick storm clouds but also seven little bodies clambering over the jagged edges and into his house.

Stunned yet nonetheless coherent, Martin rolled between one of his couches and the wall.

No more the size of a small dog, the creatures’ bodies were covered with grey and green scales. They resembled raptors with larger, powerful hind legs; four clawed toes and six clawed fingers on smaller arms. Each had a tail akin to a tadpole and longer than their bodies. Their faces were flat, large mouths full of teeth. They had large black eyes yet all sniffed out his sandwiches, rummaging through what remained.

Martin saw the hatchet laying just a few feet away and stretched out to grasp it. Something warm ran down the side of his face; blood dripped onto the floor. He grabbed the hatchet and pulled it towards him just as one of the creatures began sniffing the air.

It let out a short but deliberate snort. Now all their heads turned toward him and Martin began crawling backwards, trying to put as much distance as possible between him and them.

Suddenly, they shrieked simultaneously. Martin struggled to his feet, keeping the hatchet at a defensive position. His mind replayed the image of Hank getting torn apart as the seven creatures cautiously approached him with mouths agape, white foam collecting at the corners.

One edged closer, braver than the others. Martin focused on that creature; if he could kill it decisively, it just might intimidate the others into backing away. His idea clashed with the images of Hank’s last few seconds when the creature lunged.

Martin let out a loud cry and swung the hatchet as hard and precisely as possible. The blade struck the creature’s ribs and forced its way through its body, severing its spine. It let out a choked cry as it flew and splattered against the wall. Crippled, its mouth snapped at the air. Martin brought the flat edge of the hatchet down, crushing its skull. He quickly turned his attention to its mates.

Maybe it worked. Maybe they –

The remaining creatures leapt into the air. Martin swung the hatchet wildly, connecting once but inflicting no real damage. He felt teeth and claws tear into his skin. Blood rushed out, washed away by the rain as Martin felt his strength fading fast.

One of the creatures bit through his Achilles tendon, sprawling Martin onto the floor. With their prey down, the creatures went berserk and ferociously ripped into his flesh…

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Sightseers

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.”

“I suppose.”

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

Sinus Infection

Ray Rasmussen woke with a start.

He dreamt that he had been having sex with an alien. The act was not sexy but more mechanical, like they were performing the act for procreation. It was pure, unemotional sex.

There was some pressure in his sinuses, but his mind was still focused on his dream.

The dream bothered him.

Did he initiate the interaction? Or did the alien?

Ray frowned.

Why was I fucking an alien in the first place?

The alien could only be remembered in fragmented blurs. It was off-white and humanoid based on the flashes of arms and legs that blinked through his mind. Ray clearly remembered the expressionless face with black reflective eyes and a small mouth.

He couldn’t remember if the alien had any distinctive sex organs.

It must’ve had them… I was fucking it.

Ray looked over at the alarm clock sitting on top of his bedside table: 12:51pm.

He yawned, slowly sitting up.

The pressure in his sinuses had increased and was starting to feel congested.

Don’t tell me I’m getting a cold.

He pulled the blanket back and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. When he stood up, he arched his back and stretched. His ears were plugged, making him feel off-balance and he staggered into the bathroom.

His hands took a hold of the sink and he regained his balance. In the mirror, he saw his brown hair was messy from a rough night of sleeping while his eyes were droopy and bloodshot. The skin around his nose and eyes appeared puffy and red, almost swollen.

In other words, he looked like shit.

Ray turned the cold water on and splashed a few handfuls onto his face. While the temperature was cool and refreshing, his sinuses throbbed in pain as the chilly water hit them. It felt like brain freeze and he clutched his sinuses with his thumb and forefinger, trying to massage the pain away.

Cursing, he left the bathroom and headed for the kitchen.

Ray walked to the fridge and yanked it open, causing all of the bottles on the door to shift violently in their place.

For some reason the fridge smelled like furnace oil to Ray. It was beginning to make him nauseous on top of his already painful sinuses, which were now completely plugged. He realized that he was breathing through his mouth. Before closing the door, he grabbed the only appealing item off the top shelf: a can of Red Bull.

Reaching his finger underneath it, Ray pulled back on the can’s tab, releasing a small fine mist along with the familiar audible hiss. He raised the can to his mouth and gulped it down. With his sinuses so plugged, there was almost no taste but at the same time, he found it to be refreshing.

An image of a warm bath suddenly flashed in Ray’s mind.

Soaking in the tub for a bit sounded good and he went back into the bathroom, grimacing as the pain in his sinuses grew worse.

Kneeling down beside the bathtub, he stuck the rubber plug into the drain and turned the water on. The sound of water splashing against the tub was uncomfortable but Ray tolerated it knowing he would soon be relaxing. Once the water was deep enough, he turned the taps off and slipped out of his jogging pants.

He slowly sat down in the water, allowing himself to become submerged up to his chin and was soon deep in thought thinking about the alien.

Once again, the blurred, fragmented images of intercourse flooded his mind and Ray was surprised to see that he was sporting an erection.

Blood began to trickle out of his nostrils. It was thin, at first, and Ray wiped it away with the back of his hand.

Then something moved.

Something was stirring inside his sinuses.

Ray grabbed at his nose, petrified that he could feel something moving underneath his fingertips.

The pain was excruciating.

Whatever was in there was turning itself around. Blood was now running from both nostrils into the water, clouding it crimson.

Breathing quickly became difficult as blood poured down the back of his throat, choking out his attempts to scream.

His back arched and contorted in pain as whatever was inside his sinuses began to slide down.

It reached the opening of his nostril and dangled for a second before it fell into the water.

After it splashed in the water, Ray looked down and saw that the thing looked like the alien he saw in his dream, only smaller. It was no bigger than a hotdog with a distinctive head, arms and legs.

It looked up at Ray.

Blood continued to pour down from Ray’s nose and he felt weak. His body grew numb and his head slid below the water.

Choking as he inhaled the bloody bath water, he managed to open his eyes one final time.

The little creature smiled at him before it leapt over the edge of the tub.

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved

Paratrooper

I hit the ground just like they taught us and immediately go to work separating from the parachute. Echoes of machine gun fire and distant explosions rattle my nerves.

I hope to God they dropped us in the right place. Scanning my surroundings, nothing looks familiar.

Shit.

Waist-high grass provides me with enough cover as long as I remain crouched. I wish I hadn’t lost my equipment satchel during the jump; all I have is my combat knife.

Although it is dark, I see a tree line not too far from my location and bolt for it. Running, while trying to remain as low as I can, I fully expect machine gun fire to open up on me but thankfully it doesn’t.

As soon as I’m in the cover of the tree line, I get down on one knee and try to get my bearings as well as my breath.

Through thick branches on the other side, I see lights.

Edging closer, I see that it is a small German outpost. A small descending trench system leads into a wider dugout with a camouflage canopy over top. Voices are murmuring to one another and I think there are at least two German soldiers in there. I bet I could…

“What are you doing here?” a man asks in German.

I slowly turn my head and make out the distinctive black uniform of an SS officer.

Without hesitating, I pull out my knife and leap onto him, my blade finding its mark in his throat. Blood comes gurgling out from the wound as I cover his mouth with my other hand; he quickly dies.

I hide his body in some bushes along the tree line and begin searching him, removing his Luger P08 pistol. Feeling a little more confident clutching the firearm, I creep toward the outpost.

I slip into the mouth of the trench and slide behind a couple of stacked wooden crates, so close to the enemy that I hear them talking. There are at least two of them.

“When did you see him last?” an SS officer asks.

“Maybe an hour ago,” a woman’s voice replies.

“What was he wearing?” the officer asks.

I raise the Luger, taking aim.

A young soldier suddenly steps in front of me.

“Grandpa’s right here!”

I fire twice into his chest.

“No!” the woman screams.

The SS officer slams into me, taking us both to the ground. He knocks the gun from my hand and forces me onto my stomach, handcuffing me.

“Hang on, Jeffery!” the woman yells. “Hang on!”

The outpost dissolves and suddenly we’re in my kitchen. The woman is my daughter, Trish, and the SS officer with his knee in my back, a police officer.

Trish looks over at me with anger, fear and sadness screaming from her eyes. Another police officer rushes into the kitchen.

“I found Officer Gardiner,” he says. “His throat slashed and hidden in the trees along the property line.”

To my right is my World War Two combat knife, the blade streaked with blood, lying next to Officer Gardiner’s sidearm.

I look back at the young soldier that I just shot.

It’s my grandson Jeffery.

He’s lying on his back, his chest soaked in crimson.

Oh Jesus, I shot my grandson!

Trish is now talking to a third police officer in the living room, crying heavily but coherent enough to speak.

“He hasn’t been the same since he developed Alzheimer’s. It’s been causing all of his war memories to resurface, causing bad flashbacks. We thought we had hidden all of his weapons but we must’ve missed… oh my God… Jeffery!”

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved.