Friday, December 13, 2013

The Fields Chapter 2: Check Engine

Never before have I seen a highway assume the position of a dog taking a shit, because that's what it did when the heart stopping shockwave of an earthquake rumbled through me and the car, launching it two feet in the air and smashing back to Earth. After a long string of expletives and a moment to make sure I'd stopped pressing on the gas pedal, I took some time to appreciate how hard the crown of my skull had smacked the roof of the car's interior. I fished out that bottle of Aspirin and patted around the floor for some fluids I could use to wash the pills down with. I think I took 3 tablets, I'm not exactly sure if that was a safe dose but there were more pressing matters at the time.

The sky had grown sullen and had a thick blanket of smoky clouds hovering above me. The wind shield of the car kept annoyingly fogging up from the bitter chill outside combined with the tiny heater vent that has kept me sane for hours up until then. I swore once more when I saw that my wind shield had a crack in its glass, curving up and around the passenger side. I reached over and hit the latch on my glove box, retrieving some maps. After deciding, yes, the scenery does vaguely match this one map, I spread it across my lap and looked back down the road. Oh, boy.

Bits of the guard rail to the left had snapped and buckled in direct connection to the massive splits horizontally across the road. I certainly wasn't about to just sit here and fall through the Earth's crust, and there was an overpass up ahead. I may have seen too many movies that include crumbling bridges and sweet jumps during disasters, but I was confident I could make it if I was careful, even with my Subaru. As I sped up and made my way across the overpass, I heard car alarms go off in the distance, the number growing by the second. This was more irritating than creepy, really. I did some deep breathing exercises, the kind you learn about when you or someone you know is about to have a baby. It didn't really help, but I remembered where I was headed and I became determined once more.

I slowed down yet again once I entered a place named Fields Landing, a small part of the city of Eureka, California. Yes, I realize the coincidence. I've seen it a hundred times, but not quite this desolate and run down. While I was pretty low on gas, the bunker usually has some and I wasn't far from it. I'd been dodging and driving through road blocks all day and the lukewarm iced tea from 7-11 was starting to finally get to me. Digging around in the glove box proved yet again to be my best friend, still housing the camping knife I got for my 11th birthday, complete with a belt-attachable carrying case. As impressive as it looked all black and professional looking, it was only about 2 2/3" long. Single edge. I strapped it to my waist as fast as a man who was about to piss himself possibly could and headed out, slamming the door.

I skulked around empty offices, abandoned and flipped cars, weeds lining the fences of the houses that were probably built over 60 years ago. Even for a neighborhood, the lack of life was a bit disconcerting. Although there was still tons of shrubbery to be found, all green-brown-red leafy mounds of plant. I'm not good with botany. At this point, the front of my jeans were facing impending flooding. I needed to act. I awkwardly hobbled up the lawn of one of these houses, eggshell colored side paneling with a mostly chain link fence. I knocked with two knuckles a few times, asking if anyone happened to live in this depressing place. To my complete shock, someone did answer.

This man, bow legged, in his robe - probably not wearing anything underneath - and with a paunch that could rival my high school bus driver, stood before me. He's got this 8  'o clock shadow look to him, like he thought about getting up for work once but just said 'fuck it,' and this probably wasn't the first time. He said nothing, just stared at me with these glazed over eyes that looked as if he may be freezing over from the inside out, or maybe he's still recovering from a food coma.

A few things ran through my mind, now processing about as fast as an Armadillo can run. My first idea was to start asking him if he had a moment to talk about the book of Mormon, but I shook that thought, that's only if I want him to close the door. My second idea formed and I ran with that one. "I'm from the Energy Conservation Department of FEMA and the president has asked that I inspect your home - among others, don't worry, we're not targeting you specifically or anything - for potential gas leaks resulting from the unfortunate earth tremors going through the state." Wow, I thought, that was a bunch of shit. Every member of the Fields family is good at something, usually just about everything actually, but that obviously excludes me. Better than finding out you're a total sociopath, I guess. The man just nodded slowly, as if he was concentrating at moving every little strand of muscle smoothly. Alright, then. I shrugged that off and stepped inside, explaining how I forgot my clipboard but that I'm great at taking mental notes. Another lie. I kept having to step over torn newspaper and puddles of this very pungent substance that I'd rather not try to describe, just that it looked organic. I covered my mouth and the bottom of my nose, asking through muffled words if I could use the bathroom and he didn't move. This sludge he was neglecting made me feel as if I was growing cancer cells in my lungs, dozens by the second. I searched for the bathroom, feeling my headache remind me that it never left and fuzzy dots hovered in my eye. Finally! The toilet was even clean.

Now, I have no idea how long this piss could take, nor have I ever timed a one-handed-pants-around-your-thighs-knife-versus-bony-claws-of-hellish-fatman-creature but after I've done both at once, I can safely say it lasted about a minute forty-one seconds. The goddamn fatman's chest split vertically, widening to show his impressive collection of human heads, bone spears, dripping slobbery acidic venom and masses of muscle that flopped out of his belly and onto the floor. Don't ask me why I know that's venom, because all I know is that it is nothing any snake or spider can spit in this world.

I managed to pull up my pants with one hand and dismember one of the bastard's meaty pendulums before booking it. Did I mention that the things that fell from his belly were attached by rope-y intestines that he swung around like an organic ball and chain which ended up wrapping around my neck? Yeah, it sucked. All I could think of was wiping this fatman red sauce off of my hands with a warm, wet rag. I'd lean against the cool tile wall in a pristine granite and steel shower that'd erase the grease from my hair and face and de-knot my back. I'd curl up in a soapy bath that smells of mint and mango. Alas, I still had to sprint through ice cold grass, hop over twenty-five thousand year old fences and oh shit, now the whole neighborhood is whooping and gurgling loudly at me. I could not turn at a single unfamiliar corner without a thing with claws, sometimes multiple limbs and tendrils, dark eyes and nervous systems that glowed through their flesh. Made them easy to spot in the dark I suppose. I think they were saying things like "YOOOUUU!" and "NEVER FORGIVE..." but I wasn't really paying attention.

I jumped backwards into my Subaru and pulled my pants up all the way in the back, simultaneously slammed the door towards me and sinking my foot into the gas pedal as hard as possible. I shivered, but I pressed on. Only about twenty minutes until I was in the warm embrace of my strange, possibly insane family. Out of nowhere, some dick swerves in front of me, cutting me off and crushing my right headlight to bits. I made a mental note to kick this guy's ass later and get a new car. That was, until I realized the 50 other cars sitting idly in front of me. They kept honking their horns, like that'll fix anything, aggressively bumping into each other for no reason. Up ahead, against the dull sickly sky and first signs of daybreak, S.W.A.T. vans sat crookedly behind a bunch of sand bags and very serious and very military-looking riot control officers. Alternating flood lights hooked up to portable generators and flashing red lights on three-legged stands blinked.

A man on top of a Humvee smoothly took a megaphone and put it up to his lips. "We are aware that we have a crisis on our hands, we are also aware that you are all eager to escape and see your loved ones. We do not care. Any person, civilian, police officer or otherwise may not pass beyond this point. Anyone seen trespassing will be shot. If you do not move your vehicles from this specifically designated spot in the next ten seconds, you will be shot. All of you must leave at this very instant and head to your local shelters, we cannot help you, but we can destroy your vehicles. Make your decision." With that, he walked away. How did he expect us to get our cars out in ten seconds anyway? I think he just wanted to see people get riddled with bullets. "OH SHIT," I exclaimed as I hit the floor of my car, 5.56 mm bullets washing every car and person very systematically, while .50 caliber bullets rained down on us from the less graceful firings of machine guns. I was struck at the top of my shoulder, just a graze though, even if it did hurt and bleed something awful. I could see casings roll off the side of the road into a dirt ditch like gold coins, illuminated by the flood lights. I tried reversing, but my car was acting all retarded now. Sure enough, the "CHECK ENGINE" light blinked on. Then the temperature warning. Then the brake failure warning. Oil pressure. Battery. Open doors. That last one was me.

It was completely crazy for me to have escaped then, totally uncalled for, although I felt a little better after one of the adjacent bystander's car exploded into a mini mushroom cloud of flame. My mom is going to be so worried. I wondered then if my sisters worried too, or if they're just mad because the meeting can't start until all Fields are accounted for. Damn. I peeked around the other side of my poor car, its tail lights still blinking, but even that chokes and dies as the horrible SWAT team destroys it. This wasn't so bad once I took a better look at some of these people.

Maybe it's not my place to judge from a distance, but I had a guttural feeling at least half of these people weren't people at all. Maybe something different from fatman too. The other horrible thing is that a few of them were, in fact, regular people. Grandma visiting grandkids. Dad coming home from work. A young couple doing whatever it is they do. Children. It was probably just the adrenaline, but I could've sworn I was mentally picking apart the anatomy of these things. Absorbing information, or possibly recalling something I already knew. No, that's too obtuse. Either way, these things seemed to emanate something that wasn't pure, something that didn't work with me. They seemed to ungracefully mutilate the air itself around them, and their statures were like a reanimated skeleton imitating an orangutan. Fissures around the sockets and joints of their bodies glowed like ember, I could feel myself drifting into their minds-
I rocked to the ground, my arms falling limp and my legs struggling to push me further behind my car. Salty, copper, warm blood filled in my mouth and down the corners of my laps and rivulets of the thick red juice started trickling down the side of my cheek and chin. My tongue had a hot paper cut sting to it, and a scratch in the gums of my lower teeth tasted raw. I turned my head to the asphalt, my body seeking a way to reject its own motor oil. I wanted to vomit, but I needed to get past officer Prick first. I steadied on my elbow first, then with a throw of all of my energy and weight I was back up at the trunk, hunched over, peering around.

They say when you're about to die your brain goes into overload, it processes information in such a large quantity that your final moments can feel like hours. It's supposed to help you figure out how to survive.

Hunched over dying, my perspective is staring directly east at some trees and just a bunch of tail lights of cars. Shredded Corvette, two cars in front of me, green Jeep in front of it, white Mercedes next to that, RV behind that one, short bus with a few dead people two cars to the east of mine, three Cooper Minis on the far East of the grid of stuck cars, a Buggy pulling a trailer near the north side, one motorcycle on the west. These are the vehicles which are both used in transportation for these foreign hellish creatures and are the hellish creatures that, most likely planning to commit mass murder here or someplace else before they were stopped, are carrying semi-automatic weapons and some of them have fully automatic ones or possibly explosives. Modern weaponry, inhuman things, these things must all have some kind of collective knowledge to be able to obtain those, or at least something like that. My Subaru deflected the bullet at such an angle that it entered my left cheek, pointed down slightly, grazed the edge of my tongue, scratched half an inch of gums, then torn through my lower lip somewhere. It's not a fatal wound, if I can get it mended quickly I won't even have trouble speaking in a couple months. In a couple minutes though, I will be dead.

Wow, I'm glad I never did drugs in high school. I now had a plan painted in crimson imprinted in my head. I knew how to do it, I just wasn't sure if I would survive. What the hell, I thought, I know what happens if I don't do anything. I snatched my bags. Yeah, yeah, they weigh me down, but how else would I do this without The Eye of the Tiger playing on my MP3 player?

Now crouched and pumping my little calves along with my body's adrenaline drip, I swiftly sneak behind the short bus. Seems like the SWAT guys are reloading or whatever. I rip open the emergency hatch. The seatbelt and harness for the wheelchair thing is torn up, like someone fought for their life by clinging onto it, but something stronger ripped them away. A few feet away from me, two students of some local middle school are eviscerated. Their wounds are stuffed with a glowing, silvery damp cotton type of material. It was disgusting, and I didn't look at it very long. I sat in the seat behind the driver, who was still creepily sitting there in the uniform. I remember that he still wore his stupid little beanie and uniform, the radio hanging uselessly from its velcro holster. I was looking at an angry, lost, bitter, disgusting, sad, dreadful thing. That's the word, thing. I still haven't found a good word for it.

Have you ever seen the drawing of a young child? You know how they draw shadowmen, or humanoid figures before they know how to or before they actually know what it's like to be a human? Or maybe they just wanted to draw a villain for their heroic fantasies because their minds haven't been tainted by hollywood and real bad people who are waiting to show them real fear. They draw them like harsh, unrefined, archaic scribbles. They have sharp hands and legs, but at the same time they aren't hands and legs, because they're only lines that aren't actually put together to form anything. All those lines represent are the force of the pencil, made by the energy of a wild young child. Dark. They smudge if you even lightly touch them, you could probably get a criminal's fingerprint made from that graphite.

It's like that. Maybe a little more organic. Their eyeballs are like stars, not the cartoonish 5-point kind, the ones that our eyeballs obscure because they aren't strong enough to endure the true nature of a star. This is a being that isn't meant to be in front of my eyes. The only reason I haven't died yet, or shocked so much that I feel I can never be normal again and want to jump off a cliff is because I can also still see the sullen physical body of the human it was trying to be. Mid-forties, clean shaven, used to enjoy his job but is getting fed up with life and loves pastries too much to try and extend his lifespan. Endures quite a lot of noise every single day, used to be married and loves comfortable pants. One of us. Not a monster, depending on your personal definition. I shakily raise my hand, he moves his face at me which leaves trails of after images burned into my sight like overlaying film into one little picture."WHOOOOO?" It says to me. I slash the knife wildly at its throat, tears staining my face.
Family stories and seeing it for yourself are two different things.

I wake up, flames erupting everywhere, monsters leaving their cars and dodging bullets like ballet dancers, but a little jankier. They pull out their pieces; pistols, sub-machine guns, canisters of explosives or gas, one with a shotgun. I must have only passed out for a few minutes, but it was probably the stench that woke me. I sprinted out of the bus and dry heaved. A lot. I could hear them saying stuff. Nothing that makes any sense, but it seems directed at me. "EYE FOR EYE..." "WHO ARE YOOOU?" "GET HIIIIM DOWN HERE!" "WHY DID? WHY ME?" It was kind of obvious that they realized we're a little too different from each other for them to speak traditionally, I guess they learned bits and pieces of English.

I haven't mentioned this yet, but these things, they sound horrible. It's like when you get water in your ears and only half of it drains. Then, their voices seem to pierce your brain like a hand trying to manipulate it, only it physically hurts like that and they don't know what buttons to push in your brain to get it going. It also just sounds like general garbage, think a VHS tape played on half speed and through a walkie talkie. Well, you get the point I think.

In a fit of rage and desperation, I decided to go full Rambo on their asses. I hid behind the massive cover the bus's front grants me and shoot. And I shoot. And I slam the grip into the yellow scratched paint when I miss, causing a dent, then I cough and spit more blood and continue shooting. The nice divorced possessed man had an extra clip stuck in his belt. Then there was one he had pinched between his thighs. Next to his crotch.

My shots were meticulous, but hasty. These things could come at me at any time, I needed the preemptive. With a stockpile of 45 bullets minus the ones I waste, I wasn't too worried. Aside from the few people trying to drive away and getting blown up for it, no one has moved. I wasn't even sure if the SWAT team was going to hunt me down, and I wasn't sure where Mr. Dickhead McMurder Your Families was. I wasn't sure what happened to my family, and I was regretting leaving home again today. In fact, I believe every innocent here is dead. I'm excluding myself from that list on purpose.

I was dead tired. I wasn't going to make it. I've splattered manifested fear or whatever those things are all over the place. I was keeping the gun, just for a little while. I just need to get to the bunker, I grunted to myself, vomiting blood. I think it's impossible, depending on your injury, to not swallow any blood. So that sucked. "You know what? This is bullshit! I'm done! Mom, Dad, Heather, Sierra, I'm sorry..." I shakily held the pistol with a clear shot at one of the machine gun operators, breathing heavily. "Put down. The weapon!" He had the gall to pretend this was even a civil manner anymore. You kill everyone on sight, but me? I scoffed, which went into a full blown chortle, then slid into a dry sob and back to breathing heavily. "If you just let me through, none of this would happen!" I held out my arms in a defeated manner. "You incompetent. Piece. Of shit." He readjusted the weapon, staring me down. I stood in the mud and dirt and overturned grass, completely torn soil from the hundreds of rounds shot by these guys. Tons and tons of machinery crumpled and melting, over fifty dead. I got it, really. I would do this too if our country was invaded by abominations. However, I have the right, and I always will, to be absolutely astonished at how my life can always get stomped by this shit. Literally, all I needed to do was see my family. Not my fault they're paranoid people with a signal and safehouse and everything. Today was the day I ate pizza, texted a girl until I slept, woke up the next morning for work. "And you know what!" I shouted, externalizing my psychological breakdown apparently, "I'm not," I squeezed the trigger once, "getting," twice, closing my eyes now, "shat," three more times, "ON," I emptied the clip with my eyes closed too, "TODAY!"

I collapsed. I should really think my dad for once for taking me to all that shooting practice, because hot damn did it pay off. I ended up severing the bullet belt that fed the gun set on delivering my demise. The other machine gunner was knocked unconscious while trying to get a hit on me, I think a bullet ricocheted off his thick skull. One bullet went through a dude's hand, the space between the glove and their sleeve is unprotected, which rendered him trigger unhappy. The shot right after that hit a piece of smoldering flesh that splatter into his eyes, since he was trying to help the man with the broken arm. The third shot pretty much punched him in the chest. This all happened in under eight seconds, and the only person left was Mr. Asshole. He sauntered up to his mound of dirt and sand bags and the useless Humvee. This time, no megaphone. He picked up assault rifles from two members of his squad, one in each hand, probably just for some macho display because I don't think that would have really worked. "You little shit. You really think is going to go well for you?" I guessed he didn't hear my earlier monologue. "I am going to detain you, then I will send you to the harshest FBI interrogation facility in existence. You will be thoroughly tested at a lab, no sedatives, then you get to live at Guantanamo." He smirked himself a smug grin that only fantastically horrible human beings from movies where it's considered unrealistic to be this terrible of a human being can grin.

"Rochester. You know what that means. I have the highest possible authority in this situation, and you are dismissed indefinitely. Now leave." A tall, daunting man appeared behind the jerk, shadowy except for the flames flickering light on his face. Rochester is my dad's middle name, he uses it in 'special circumstances' and is a powerful phrase for my family in certain branches of the military. Two grown women came sprinting down the dirt ditch to the side, the only way to walk up the slope of barricades and right now they both seemed to be reduced to something like teenagers after watching the final part of a movie series they love. "Derek!" Heather - my oldest sister - cried, figuratively and literally, and gave me a bear hug that was a bit too tight. Sierra followed after and tackled me into a hug, fat ugly tears drenching her face. "Are you okay?" they both exclaimed at the same time. I thought it'd be better to give them the short version the story. Pausing long enough to give a wide grin, Heather gestured to the top of the hill with morning warming the cheeks of the living and said "Mom's here too!" I looked up and there she was, Mom, in some sort of dress that fluttered in the all too chilly breeze. I'm not good with fashion.

Looks like the family's all here.


  1. It started off great, all the way until the bathroom scene. After that, there was so much going on that I'm not entirely sure what happened. I got the jokes and they were funny, but there was so much going on and so many vague "the man" or "he" type things, I couldn't keep up. But I want to read more and know what those things are and why his dad is such a bad ass.

    1. I was kind of afraid that would happen. I got kind of carried away with the writing and wanted to make it not boring so I probably went overboard. Oops. Well, at least the writing's better than the last chapter, and you liked it, so maybe for the next chapter I'll try to make it more dialogue-y and take place in maybe just one setting. I've got more ideas though, so I'm glad you're willing to stick with it!