Strange days

     If only the daylight found its way to watch over us, we might not be in such a tight spot–not so tight at least. What I wouldn’t do for proper lighting,or have a proper plan. Abandoned compounds tend to be the trickiest location for a well set trap. Too many hiding spots. Too many ambush points. Too many shadows–this may be the day that ends us.Nerves are on fire. Sweat stinging my eyes, likely giving away my position. I’m okay though right? I’ve done this a million times. Catching a screamer is tricky, yes, but not impossible. We just need to get close enough to take its head off–before it can bring the reinforcements–before we are brutally ripped apart–before it notices us. That last one is the trickiest.

   You see, screamers have insanely capable sight at all times of the day.Their hearing is better than any mutt, and above all else, they can smell you from a literal mile away. Those that it would draw the attention of can hear the call from even further. Those are the terrors. And we, well, we’re the prey.It’s just me and Brodie left. There were six of us, but I’m only certain of the fates of two of our friends. It wasn’t pretty, but not unexpected. We warned them that the inexperienced would cause trouble. Not of their own volition, but because they just don’t “Know” the ways. One mistake–one twig broken, was all it took to get Richard’s killed. I’ll spare you the details, suffice to say, it’s not often I see someone die the way he did. Idiot. Stupid, cheerful, always kind to everyone–idiot. Well, I’d better set the journal down, it’s time for focus. We may not make it back from this one.

I could feel his stare as if they drilled the holes I knew he wanted me to suffer. It wasn’t my fault.

“What?” I say half casually, not giving any emotion away. It’s all I can do not to break.

“You know what, don’t pull the calm Commander bull shit.You slipped up, and now two of our prospects are dead, the other two are missing. Most likely dead. You shouldn’t have let come along!”

“Do not forget yourself soldier!” I boom, pulling rank on the best of my friends for the first time in a very long while. “It was a sound decision based on concrete information. They needed true field experience, and death is a very large part of this job! If it’s a conscience you want, then find someone else,because rarely can a commander afford one for long. And i know you understand that.”

Even through the healing wound on his face, I could see the conflicting emotions. We’ve been through a lot, me and Brodie. If anyone can read me it’s him, it is, and he knows it too.I try to follow-up more softly, but he cuts me short.

Determined, he lowers his voice and tries a different tactic.
“Not this time, you don’t get to flip me like you always do. This is different and you know it. Two of the new recruits are dead, the others…Who knows. Fuck, who knows! It doesn’t matter, we both know you made the call for us to split up, and that’s why they–”
As my heart beat hit its peak I snapped. As much as you can when you’re trying to be quiet. Because you know, monsters.

” What! Got flanked, and ripped apart?! Yes I did, but that is not on me damn it! How could I know that would happen? Whatever that was! The intel was solid, no creeps whatsoever. This was supposed to be a god damned training exercise for Christs sake! I mean come on, what the hell were those lights? A trap? As far as I know, it could be god damned aliens!”

Looking agitated and scared at the same time, He gave me a shut the fuck up you immense ass! stare that I knew too well. They were here. Now we’re the ones being hunted. Heh, it almost gets you excited. Almost.

“This is fucked man!” Brodie beams at me as we’re hurtling through the abandoned supply depot.
Who the hell really needs this much space? A booming business of course, but i didn’t have time to debate the importance of an excess amount of storage area for a two-bit online retail conglomerate. Fucking dot-coms. Good people probably.

Shaking the confusing blur of thoughts that always race through my head during times of stress, I grab Brodie roughly by the arm and pull him between some pallets in an old repair station for fork-lifts and the like.

As we duck down he takes a moment to continue my verbal shit kicking–quieter this time. Damn it Brodie, your ex-boyfriend really rubbed off on you. Figuratively. Sort of. Damn thoughts.
“Two hundred thousand square feet of holy shit we are fucked, and you think we should stop? We need to keep moving. maybe get the hell out of here?”

Catching my breath, I’m trying to figure out a way to tell him. We aren’t stopping, he’s going and I’ll be leading the pack away. Laboriously I begin this nightmare of a conversation.

“We aren’t both making it out. I’m going to lead them–”

“No fucking way man. We both get out, or not at all. Besides i still owe your ass and you aren’t adding to that tab and then sacrifice yourself so I can’t balance the fucking scales!”

Ah, this is why we’re friends. Both suicidal, and neither willing to leave the other behind. Not even under orders. The tables turned on that one. Hell, he’d kill himself before he left me. I’d do the same just to piss him off.

“Now i understand why Charlie left your ass. You don’t listen for shit.”

“Well private, you knew that long before  he did. Good riddance anyways, the bastard never was good in bed on top of the constant nagging.” Reverting so casually back to his days as my Captain. Sometimes I still wish he was, but the burden of command doesn’t sit well with everyone. Brodie leads better behind the scenes anyways.

“Alright, listen up, because we likely only have one shot at this. We passed a treasure trove of flammable stock about fifty yards back, that’s the trap. I’ll lead them into the ambush, while you light the fuse. Your timing better be perfect, or else you won’t see another plate of my fucking amazing wings ever again.” Oddly enough, this bothers him a great deal. This is another thing we share, although personally…I’m not trying to get ripped apart and eaten. And only if luck would give me death in that order.

Not entirely on board,Brodie looks around kind of confused. “What the hell are you going to make a fuse out of?”

My turn for a surprise. I pull out the two liters of moonshine my old mentor made for my promotion to Captain. Old bastard knows how to party, what can I say. All of the sudden i miss the coot too.

Grinning from ear to ear, just a name and a curse leading the way escapes. “Mother fucking Colby.” Barely stifling his laughter by now. “Man, he told me once he’d  die making that awful shite. One question before we die though.”

Honestly enjoying our potentially last exchange, I bite. “Anything brother, you know that.”

Still grinning like a mad cat, short and to the point–Brodie. “Did he?”

My turn to nearly get us killed laughing. It’s truly the best remedy. “Man hell no, he died in the retreat being oh so gently handled by the lovely staff. Now look sharp, we might be dead real soon.”

Dead calm eyes, grin like the devil himself. It’s time to pay a visit to deaths doorstep.
I run as fast as a man trying to pour his liquor out his back pocket can will himself. Slowly as hell.
“Holy shit, they were waiting!” I drop the moonshine and turn for Brodie, catching something out of the corner of my eye. Something large. And then I notice the flame is a lot closer than I’d have wanted for my escape.
Ducking beneath hyper sharp claws and twisting just in time to avoid having my midsection rearranged into something that will truly cause problems sitting. Or anything ever again.

Boom, that god damned moonshine nearly blew me forward, with Brodie laughing like a fucking hyena all the live long day.
He thought it prudent to light the trail halfway to the mark, it worked perfect, if he had waited I wouldn’t have been able to pull back as quickly and I’d be a leg short–Among other things. Good call asshole, laugh it up. I’ve never seen him smile so hard. Must be the combination of near death experience, and being an asshole. But that isn’t what I need to be thinking about. Just before pulled back through the bay entrance, I turned and saw…something. I’ve got nothing to compare it too except maybe a gorilla?

“For fucks sake, Brodie, that was kind of close, no?”

Still cracked up he just smiles. “Yeah, well I had faith you’d clear out before it caught up. Can’t help it if I was right! Haha!”

Asshole. Now we’re racing towards the rear fire entrance, easily fifty yards away, and guess what appears to be guarding the exit. The unknown gorilla thing. Oh joy.

“Brodie, change of plans!” Pulling to a full stop and ducking behind some pallets, now we can get a better look.

“There it is. The gorilla. Thing.”

“Whoa, you’ve seen that before? It has some might big fucking features. Gorillas don’t stand ten feet tall though, and I’ve never seen one holding a weapon–fuck, watch out!”

The day you were born Brodie, god wanted a walking talking miracle moving about us mere mortals. Whatever the hell that massive blue globe was, it completely obliterated everything it hit.

“For all the is holy and naughty, did you see that shit? You were a goner man! Lucky you have at least one friend watching out for ya. Now whats the plan, that thing is gone, for now at least, we should be too.”

I couldn’t hear him. That weapon just became the most destructive force i have ever, ever encountered. Makes my sidearm look like some light flirtation. At least a six-foot diameter kill zone, it fired a liquid neon blue ball that bled a trail of molten everything. Now I really owe him a delicious meal. But I wonder if we were even the targets. I mean, it utterly decimated the small horde that was on our trail, but it was precise, so maybe our new visitor saw us as an opportunity to line it’s annoyances up. Were we among his count I wonder?

“Alright now we bug out. Our new acquaintance just gave us our exit.” It turns out the plasma-round was also set on a timer to detonate at a set distance, in doing so it took half the building away with it. Coincidence is usually scoffed at in the books I read. Holmes would have immediately picked the problem out, or had some witty comment to throw in at least. All i can think is–We should be fucking dead. but maybe the creature didn’t want to endanger itself…or a still hidden group of allies. Could it have been assisting us? Not now, I’ll think on this later, see what B thinks.

Stepping through the wreckage we’re in awe of the destruction.We would have countless applications for technology like that. Creep defense alone would save more lives than most of our efforts. You see, the creeps tend to mesh into a horde the longer they survive, they become nomadic, and they eventually find a settlement. So many screamers, sniffers, and trackers it’s a wonder they don’t find us sooner. We could obliterate entire mobs of them before we ever sent a single person in. But they adapt, fast too. I wonder if they could adapt their physiology to a weapon of that magnitude.

“You think it could have wiped us out too? I mean look at that hole! No way we’re just two lucky bastards, not today. Not withh the bad karma we’ve got coming.”

Speak for yourself, lieutenant, I’m a verified angel. Your ex thought so at least.” I say, not a serious muscle in my face.

“He just wanted in your pants Cap, and he would have succeeded if your memory is true.” Laughing like a fucking hyena, he brings that back up. Of all times!

“Yeah yeah, lets get moving. We’ve got a search party to organize.” Dreading every second of it, but it has to be done. Ill be lucky if i’m simply crucified.”

Coming back to earth, Brodie knows what we’re looking at. He shares my fate after all.

Chapter Two–Do you feel lucky

“Jake! Where the hell are my soldering tools? You better not have lent them out again, and don’t try to deny it, i know it was you. She told me! Honestly I don’t see the attraction, but that’s fine, it’s none of my business. But my equipment? You might has well just do my job for me! Oh wait, you can’t because you’re too damned busy wooing a wall.”

Looking flustered and completely confused, Jake almost blurts out a response hoping I might calm down. It always works, but i egg him on anyways. He gets so nervous when I snap at him. Which is probably why i do it. It’s cute.

“Geez I’m sorry Mara, I could have sworn you weren’t going to be on call today, let alone at home to work in your free time. Rida just needed them to repair a repulse-board by the east gate. I’d have done it myself but the twice damned overseer decided i’d be better help hauling supplies in from the convoy.”  I don’t blame him. Jake is good at a lot of things so it’s a regular sight to see him everywhere, even if it’s just as labor.

Hiding my amusement, I let him off the hook before he goes nuclear with apologies. “Just, leave a note or something, you know I’m on call day or night. Thompson would have my head if I were to let the power couplings for the turret system burn out, and doing my job is the only thing that keeps that giant oaf of a man from speaking to me more often than he does.”

Looking like he just narrowly avoided falling face first off a cliff, Jake relaxes.
“Thanks Mara, I’ll keep that in mind. I actually may have some replacement parts soon so i could make her a set of her own. If you need anything fixed you know where I’ll be!”

“Sure thing Jake, and thanks, try not to change too much.” I say not helping the grin on my face. “And, i will be taking you up on those repairs.” Did i just blush?  Probably not.

Jake’s sweet. He knows about Thompson. In fact I would bet my last credit that he hates the guy. Nice rarely enjoys the company of bad, and that’s what I like about Jake. The world went to shit and still guys like him make it easier to walk down a hallway. Ones like Thompson attempting to squeeze in a quick fuck literally in the hallway still exist though. They have their uses too I suppose, although in the bedroom they are as useless as a motion sensor alarm in bed. But unfortunately for woman-kind everywhere, Washington Keller Thompson is actually a bonafide savant when it comes to anything with moving parts! He’s the geek that grew up, filled out, and turned rotten. I guess he’s kind of good with kids too–Bastard.

Continued draft–5


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