It’s right hand raked across my left pectoral, shredding my t shirr and my flesh. Simultaneously, my right fist hammered it to the left temple. My left came across, hitting it in the mouth and knocking some teeth out. It’s left talons sliced me across my face. I spat blood. But I could feel the electric tingle of the nannites going to work. My right foot smashed into its groin and then swept the left leg. The combination of these brought it to its knees. I yanked my trench knife free from its sheath, back handing its blade deep across the monster’s throat and then back. Now it’s blood flew. The blade wasn’t silver so it wouldn’t kill it. But it would hurt it.
It swung it’s right arm unbelievably fast, smashing into me, and sending me flying. I crashed in to and imbedded in the grill of the bus. My head spun, seeing stars feeling nausea. I’d forgotten what a concussion feels like. I fell forward on to my hands and knees, puking up breakfast and blood. I looked over. The thing was still on its knees, holding its hands over its throat. He was waiting to regenerate some before attacking again. Unfortunately, so was I. I just hoped mine would be quicker.
Slowly, painfully, both of us regained our feet. Our eyes met. Time for round two. It brought both fists down, trying to plant me like a tent peg. I dodged left, spun, and slashed the tendons in its right arm. It grabbed me by the head and slammed me face down onto the road. I rolled right, avoiding his foot stomp. I lashed out, cutting off it’s big toe. The beast screamed, hopping about on one foot. I launched myself into a crack back block, taking it’s good leg out from under it. The creature landed hard on its back. I hoisted myself up and took a few seconds. I was still hurting from being slammed into the street. Blood was dripping from my face. My nose was broken. Oh well, it’s not like it can make me uglier.
The creature held onto its bleeding foot. That should take a bit, I thought. That’s not healing it, that’s regrowing it. Suddenly, it sat up and punched me, knocking me off my feet. That hurt. My jaw was aching and clicking, possibly broken. It was clearly going too slow trying to wear it out in a brawl. It was time to cheat. I rushed him and began slashing its torso with the knife It grabbed me in both hands, drawing me close as if to bite off my head. I pulled my flash bang grenades out of my vest. They were all on a common line, so if I pulled the line, all the pins get pulled. I shoved them into its mouth, and pulled the line free. Then I held its mouth closed desperately.
All the grenades detonated all at once. The infrasonic thump, the bang part in flash bang, making it deaf. The flash part of all those grenades was bright enough to illuminate and make visible everything inside it’s skull. Which meant I’d just burned out it’s optic nerves. It was blind. It lay on its back, screaming and writhing. I walked over to the boulder and lifted. I carried it over to the thing, lifted it high, and dropped it on its chest. The satisfying crunch of broken ribs joined an ungodly scream. It stopped writhing and just laid there, breathing shallow, with blood coming out of its ears, nose, and mouth.
The cops began arriving, lights and sirens. So did the local press. Grover must have alerted them. I could hear the clack clacks of their AR15’s. Looks like they get to see some of the show after all. I rolled the boulder off it. The beast was pulped. Even still, it’s regeneration was fighting to heal the damage. I pulled the antler off my belt, positioned it right, and then rammed it into its heart. The monster released the air left in its lungs in one loud whoosh. Then it stopped breathing and lay still. I stood there, watching it, waiting for it to move. But it didn’t. I watched some more, expecting it to transform back into a man, like a werebeast. But he didn’t. I guess the Wendigo curse is that it brings out the Wendigo that person really is. This was his true face. I thought for a bit. I remember hearing about idiots that pulled the stake out of a vampire only to have it resurrect itself. I couldn’t risk someone doing that with this guy. I drew my gun and emptied its silver bullets into its brain. When I was done, it’s head was gone.
I was exhausted. Nothing had really pushed me like this before. At least my bleeding had stopped. I looked around. Grover was hugging his boys, who were on the bus. I was glad his boys got to see him regain his courage and hold off the monster with his shotgun. Kids should be able to look up to their dad. Some of the cops were having their pictures taken with the monster’s corpse by the news photographers. I rolled the boulder off the road.
More cars were coming. Including the MIB’s car. I dragged the carcass off the south side of the road, into a pasture. Plenty of room for the spooks to land a transport copter, a nice big Chinook. Did I mention my job description also includes janitor?
The cops gave me a lift to my rental. I drove back to the scene of the battle, aching all over. The Sheriff and the State Police commander were back, as well as the one TV crew that stayed in town. The kids were taken to school.
The Sheriff began the statement to the press.
“At 8:15 this morning, the creature we were searching for, identified as a Wechuge or Wendigo, came out of hiding, attempting to attack a school bus and the children aboard. Constable Glenn Grover was on scene, and used his shotgun to hold the creature at bay until help arrived. Shortly thereafter, private detective Jim Garrett arrived on scene and engaged the creature. Mister Garrett killed the creature, which poses no further threat. My office is working with State and Federal authorities to dispose of the creature’s corpse, and return normalcy to the area.”
A reporter asked if the creature’s human identity was discovered. The State Commander spoke.
“Yes, he has been identified as Travis Arthur Howard, originally of Lake Okanagan, British Columbia, and off late Spokane Washington. Mister Howard was a lumber worker by trade.”.
I didn’t much feel like talking to the press. I’d let the men with badges try and field the “how did he become a Wendigo” questions. This was a bad one. People being eaten, it’s upsetting. Werewolves don’t eat their victims, they’re just driven to kill, it’s part of the curse. Most vampires these days either have a little harem of willing donors, or take a little from this guy, a little from that guy. And they don’t sparkle. Ghouls eat people but they aren’t very intimidating. The average guy with a baseball bat can clean out a nest of ’em. And zombies don’t eat people like on TV. Zombies are made by voodoo, not viruses. No, this thing was something else. Something truly terrible to see and horrible to consider.
I sat on the hood of the Denali, wondering what would be worse. If I didn’t do anything, if I didn’t come here, the beast would have taken its prey and then moved on, probably gone dormant for a while. There’d be occasional gruesome unsolved crimes, or it’d be blamed on natural predators. People would be none the wiser. But I did come here and kill it. The killings stopped but now all over the country parents have to explain to their kids monsters are real. That is after they explain it to themselves. Mothman and Momo and Bray Road and Mikey could all be passed off as a hoax by those who chose not to believe. But this, well… I felt depressed. The world needed Superman. It got me.
Carla and Connor and the two lesser spooks walked over to me, eyeing up the corpse as they passed it.
“Not a word, Connor. I’m beat up, tired, and not in the mood.” I rumbled.
“No… dude, that had to be… uh, great work’” He stammered. He kept looking back at the hulking corpse.
“Connor, “dude”? Talking like a real person? There’s hope for the world yet.”
Carla cleared her throat. “Agent Connor, have the details photographed and measure the subject’s corpse.” They toddled off.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Carla said “Jesus, Jim. You look like hell.”
“Thank you, Carla. I knew you were coming so I wore my Sunday best.”
“I’m not being mean or sarcastic. You look like you’ve been thru a war.” She continued. “I’ve never seen you this beat up. Walking up here, I saw the look on your face. You looked so sad.”
“Just thinking about things. It’s nothing. I’ll heal.”
“Yeah, but are YOU OK? Not the monster, you.”
“I guess.” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“Because you’re my friend,” she said, taking my right hand in both of hers, “and I don’t have a lot of those.” I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t have a lot of friends either. I looked her in the face. She still had the shades on, but by the way she was biting her lip instead of being robotic, I could tell Carla was telling the truth.
“Here.” She produced a cigar and handed it to me. I ran it under my nose.
“Camacho, American barrel aged Gordo. My brand and my size. How’d you know?”
“It’s my job to know. Besides, I figured you’d trash yours in the fight.”
No joke. The 5 pack I had in my vest pocket was crushed. I pulled out my Zippo and fired it up.
“Thanks, Carla. Really, thanks.”
The spooks brought in that Chinook, and the corpse was boxed and packed and loaded and taken away. Judging by flight times and such, the copter would fly to an Air Force base, and then they’d fly it wherever they take things.
I drove into Corvallis and got a room at the Rodeway Inn. The desk clerk stared at me with his mouth open, but my Visa spoke volumes. I took a decent hot shower, and got dressed in clean clothes. Then I stretched out on the bed and slept a while, allowing the nannites optimal conditions to work. I dreamt of dinner with my family, and drinking Ovaltine for some reason. I woke up at 6 pm. I sat up, rubbing my head. Looking in the mirror, I could see the cuts and scrapes had healed. Most of the bruises were gone. My jaw had stopped hurting. I opened my eyes wide, then opened my mouth to look for missing teeth. I got lucky. They were still there.
Shit! Damn it! The spooks left with the corpse. That shoots down beer at Squirrels. Well, I could still go to Squirrels but… oh well. I dug my IPod out of my duffle bag and put the buds in my ears. A little “From Rusholme With Love” by Mint Royale. You’ve heard the song. It’s from Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. I started doing bad white guy dance because what the hell, I was all alone. I just kept my eyes closed, rocking to the bouzouki music. Then I opened my eyes and turned. The door was open, Carla standing in the doorway. Except it wasn’t the Carla I was used to. The black suit was replaced by jeans and a red knit top. Gone were the pumps, in their place white sneakers. The bun was undone, her black hair long with waves. The shades were gone too. She was wearing makeup and lipstick. I was right. She is pretty. She was smirking. I pulled off the buds.
“I knocked but no one answered.”
“Uh… Hi! Uh, I was just listening to some music. Some Mint Royale, I got Plastic Bertrand…”
“I would have figured you more the Judas Priest or Metallica type of guy.”
“Yeah, I got those too. Hey! Your eyes.”
“Your eyes. You’re not wearing your sunglasses. Your eye are blue. I would have thought they’d be brown. But there blue.”
She smiled. “Yeah, they are. That’s a nice Hawaiian shirt you have on there. I’ve never seen you out of uniform either.”
I nodded. “So, I’m not even going to ask how you knew I was here. Why didn’t you fly back with Connor?”
“Because I never really get to talk to you. I know your life history but I don’t know you.” She said. “Besides, it’s been a long time since I socialized, and I might have a few more beers than two. So, I’ve got a room here, and I’ll catch a ride with you back to Eugene’s airport tomorrow.”
“Well, works for me. So, Squirrels…?”
I closed up shop, and we got into my rental. As I pulled out into traffic I said “So, if we’re going to be besties and all, tell me…?
“Tell you what?”
“Are there really any flying saucers at Area 51?”
And for the first time, I heard Carla laugh.
We had a good time at Squirrels. I signed a few autographs for some of the college kids. Liquor really doesn’t affect me. Carla however got a little tipsy. And…
Whatever happened after that is a story for another time.
We got a last minute flight to Portland, and from there I got a flight to Chicago, and she to wherever she calls home. Hal and Abby were happy to have me back. They introduced me to Hal’s nephew Trevor, who’d be interning with us. Back to the normalcy of following cheating husbands. I had Doctor Goldman check me out all the same.
Gert got her Cubs tickets. She especially enjoyed them this year when the Cubs finally won the World Series. We were all ecstatic. One week later, after the election, we were all less than thrilled.
So, that’s my story. I’ll let you know when anything else like this happens again, oops, there’s the stalker ex-boyfriend I’ve got to run off. Feel free to stick around and watch.
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