This is my Friday Frights story for DarkMedia City this week: a rather shadowy tale. Our prompt this week was aliens. Watch the dark and what might be lurking in the fringes . . .
Panic In The Bluffs
Pine Bluffs, Wyoming: a small town in the eastern part of the state, home to around 1,000 residents. There is a strong Native American background here, much as there is with most of the towns in the state where the bluffs exist, and hence the stories of them driving the buffalo off the top and onto the land below where they would supply many a warrior and his family with meat, skins, and all the rest that came with the great animal.
Of course, once the white man came, that was all changed. The Indians were shoved out, and the area became home to many cattle ranches. Farming was not an easy thing to do here because of poor soil and a lack of sufficient water, but cattle could roam the prairies, and so they did.
Even today, seemingly not a lot happens here. You have your local bars-shit, there are always those-an A&W, a couple of gas stations, and not much more. But up on the bluffs, you have the big statue of the Virgin Mary, seemingly watching over the sleepy community.
All is not what it seems. The Virgin is slacking off.
The night is dark, no moon at all, and a strange fog settles in among the pines nestled around the large ranch house. This is one of the better located spreads, sitting on top of the bluffs and to the south of town a ways. Whereas not much vegetation is present elsewhere, there is in this area. A few hill top springs nourish this section, and so the ranch has done well over the years.
Shadows move within the mists, attached to their physical components by only the loosest of ties, reaching, searching, not leaving an inch unexplored. Upon reaching the ranch house, the two dimensional shapes move easily under the doors and follow the scents and tastes of their surroundings until they find their prey, sleeping peacefully in their beds without a care in the world. The shadows rise over the beds, and one by one, they invade the the prone bodies of the residents, kicking out their hosts' shadows which wander aimlessly about until the three dimensional beings waiting for them accept them one by one.
Replication has occurred, except for the master of the house who wakes just as a shadow attempts to enter his body. He fights it off and almost escapes, but other shadows enter his room and together they work as a team to take him over. The battle is too much for the man, however, and he keels over, holding on to his chest as blood pours from his mouth.
The shadows leave, upset at not having acquired this man to be a host, but happy knowing he will not be warning anyone about their presence.
* * * *
I pull in to town, dog tired, wanting to make it to Cheyenne, but knowing the thirty five mile drive is an impossible task. Rest: I need it, and it can't wait. As cheap as I am, not wanting to spend money on a room for the night, I find a flea-bag motel, pay in cash, and flop onto the bed, not even taking the time to remove my clothes. I'm out in seconds.
It's still dark when the screams invade my head, causing me to wake with a start. What the hell! Was that a dream? No. It can't be: I never forget my dreams; they come at me in full, blazing technicolor and lead me on a merry chase. No chase, and they stop as soon as they started.
No way am I ready to get off the bed: shit, I'm still wiped out, but what if someone's hurt and needs my help? "Okay, Mike. Check it out."
A search of the street from my window shows nothing. Yeah, like I really expected it to. "Outside, Mike. Get your ass out there."
Absolute silence. Nothing, not even the sound of a car from the interstate hits my ears. It's as if I'm in a vacuum. Oh, the joys of small town living. But yet, there were screams just moments ago.
Probably because I'm still in a grand funk from being exhausted, and perhaps because the knight in white, shining, armor wants to make an appearance, I venture out in search of what's happening. Nothing: I find absolutely nothing.
"Fucking idiot! Get back to bed," I think.
Sensations of something invade my mind. Shit, my skin is crawling from vibrations permeating the very air around me. There's something here: what, I don't know, but I don't need a fucking picture map to point out the obvious. I should just get back in my car and leave this shit hole.
Yet . . .
Shadows, weird damn shadows are everywhere, but there's nothing around to cast them. Up the walls of the buildings, along the ground, and peering out from under cars, they are seemingly everywhere, almost as if they have some sort of a function of intelligence.
Damn it! They do! How and why doesn't matter. They exist; their intelligence exists; and a motive exists.
I duck into the all night convenience store to see if I can find any sort of explanation for what is running through my mind. Perhaps a second opinion, another observation, maybe something I'm overlooking in my sleep deprived state. Anything.
Two people are working here, one behind the cash register and one roaming around the aisles. Neither of them says a word to me, but their eyes . . .their hollow eyes stare at me, or are they staring through me? Something is wrong; something is very wrong!
Shadows come from their bodies, advancing towards me, making no effort to hide the fact that I am their target. I run from them, out onto the streets, where I am met by even more of the sinister shapes, all of them intent on getting to me, doing what, I don't know, but it's not good. That much I do know.
Bodies join the shadows, uniting in a relentless pursuit to track me down, to stop me from escaping. I realize now I am the only one left in town who is not one of THEM.
Rushing across the Interstate, weirdly devoid of any traffic, I run in the direction of the bluffs, not knowing what else to do, but when I reach the statue of the Virgin, the shadows emanating from it send their spirals of alarm into the air, letting my pursuers know I'm here. What the . . .
Exhaustion sets in, but I can't stop now. If I do, I'm dead, or whatever it is that will happen to me. Maybe that's worse than being dead. It appears that way to me at least. These mindless beings that were once humans: what are they now. Who, or what, has taken them over?
I back track across the highway, trying to confuse the entities chasing me, getting on the other side, when it lands; an immense vehicle of huge height and width comes down from the sky and settles in the middle of Interstate 80, completely covering the eastbound and the westbound lanes. Flashing lights reveal beings much the same as humans walking down the lowered walkways.
Shadows emanate from everywhere, being part of, but yet separate from the totality of what appears before me.
I understand now. Damn! How do I separate what is shadow from what is the actuality of the being? There is something more here as well, something that goes beyond the two and three dimensional world we live in. I sense a fourth dimension, a more powerful extension of self extending far beyond mere mortal comprehension.
The existensial world of shadows focuses in on the great ship long enough for me to get back to my motel and grab the keys to my car. This will be my only chance to escape. Destiny brought me here. I have a job to do. Nothing else matters.
I roar on to the Interstate below the great ship and drive for all I'm worth.
Maybe I can convince others that our planet is in peril.
The shadows must be stopped . . .