Tony passed the Subway sandwich shop on his way to the General’s office, corner office, Pentagon, cup and saucer in hand. So far, the General had punched him twice in the face, berated him in front of other officer’s and threatened his life. For a highly decorated Green Beret, that sucked. But, (and it’s a big But) the things he has seen in these almost three years have made it all worth it. He has seen things not even the President knows about--- the UFO parts, actual alien specimens, the moon’s live cams, those rooms that are way underground and what they found in them and how they’re cooled. To make it easier for the General, he had been granted access to Classified and Top Secret memos. He know knows who actually killed JFK and why it had to be done.
The General’s office had rich, thick blue carpet. A picture of the President adorned his wall, which was a dark oak in color. The General’s cell phone had the names of dead people in it, but when he called, they answered. As the entered the room he heard, “And where the hell is my coffee?” He set it down in front of the General as the General finished his phone call. “Well, you can tell those towel-headed sons of bitches they have ten minutes to live.” He picked up a radio and pushed the button. “Do it.”
According to a governmental watchdog report in 2018, over 21 trillion dollars of taxpayer money is unaccounted for at a rate of 6.5 trillion dollars a year. This has been going on since 1958, with adjustments for inflation. The last president to have first-hand knowledge of this spending and these programs was President Dwight Eisenhower, who left office in 1960. They had pushed him out so forcefully and threatened his family so badly that he had no choice but to keep his mouth shut.
These programs go by many different names: Illegal Secrecy, Black Budget, Skunk Works, and all designed to stop people in Congress from following them. There are no checks and balances, they answer to no one:
AFOSI Nellis Division
Red Flag MOC
Dart East MOC
Dart South MOC
Pahute Mesa MOC
Sally Corridor MOC
Croom Lake MOC
Ground Star MOC
Black Jack Team
Aqua Tach SOG
Sea Spray SOG
The General had bright white hair, in his seventies. A small man, there were four stars on his shoulder, he wore a green uniform. Tony wasn’t sure of his name, he thinks it might be Michael. With a budget of $80 billion, the General was in charge of Black Jack Team. He might treat Tony like dirt most of the time, but three times attempts were made on the General’s life. Those three attempts were met with death, the deaths of those who attempted to kill the General. No one comes near the General, no matter what.
It is Monday morning. A secretary poked her head in the room, “Line 2 General, CDC”. She wore red and had blond hair. The General liked blonds. Tony took his place behind the General, slightly to his right as the General picked up the phone, “What?”
He listened to the General’s replies. “Possible biological weapon?” He waited. “I-94 from Minneapolis to Fargo?” The General took the phone and put it on his chest, closing his eyes. Tony had seen this many times, knowing the General was working out the pro’s and con’s and figuring the best course of action. The General sat this way for almost a minute, then turned to Tony and said, “I need a map of Melrose, Minnesota.” Tony took out his cell phone, the General preferred Bing to Google, (Bing had almost found out who he was, he respected that), and pulled up a map.
Although Tony had no idea what the General was talking about his next words gave him the chills. He pointed at the map on Tony’s phone, “Rope it off here, right above I-94. If possible, we want to prevent a detour.” He turned to Tony, “If possible, that is, a detour would attract attention. Run down to the CDC offices and get the ball rolling; get those most infected in examination rooms. I want to see this for myself. Cut ALL communication, in and out. Then get me to Melrose.” Once outside the General’s office in the hall, Tony started to run.
Dr. Wong turned in his swivel chair to face Gregory Brown, “And when did it start?”
“A couple of days ago, I found a plant I’ve never seen and I picked it to show dad.”
Jason Black nodded in agreement. The Doctor reached into his pocket and flashed a red sucker in front of Jason; he nodded slightly. Greg took it and opened it immediately.
Dr. Wong, “I’ve seen this now almost 20 times in the last week. My blood work from the other people has been late in arriving. I’ll take a blood sample and send it off, but I think it’s the same thing, same reaction. Does it itch anymore?”
Greg nodded no.
The Doctor stood up and looked in his white cupboards. Not seeing the sample tubes, he wondered where he had put the last shipment. It wasn’t in the lower cupboards either. His cell phone began to ring. It was his former roommate from back in college who now worked in the labs, he answered in front of Jason and Greg.
“Hello”, they heard mumbling, but what the other side said was:
“Wong, what did you send us?”
Dr. Wong was perplexed, “What do you mean, what did the results say?”
“The blood you sent us turned green1 The CDC busted in here and grabbed all of it I suggest you get out of town immediately. If you want I’ll call your wife and tell her to take your son and stay in St. Cloud. You’ll know it’s too late if the phones are cut.”
Dr. Wong asked, “Too late for what?” His phone beeped. He looked down to see it now said, ‘NO SERVICE’.
Dr. Wong turned to Jason, who was also checking his phone, he asked, “Jason, where is your wife?”
“She’s in North Dakota with the other kids. She was picking them up from Boy Scout Camp. It’s just me and Greg today.”
Dr. Wong said, pointing at Greg’s hands, “I believe it’s a plant of some kind. I haven’t seen it myself, but I think you should destroy it.” He told Greg to pull his pants down and rubbed antiseptic on Greg’s upper thigh. Greg held his dad’s hand when the shot was administered. He told Greg to go out into the lobby, then whispered to Jason, “I gave him the strongest antibiotic I have but, if it doesn’t work and the CDC cuts us off, I don’t know what we could do next if the problem persists. I’m not sure what’s going on but good luck to you.” Jason picked his son up and they left. As he walked out of the lobby he said to Dr. Wong, “To you as well.”
Once home, Jason stepped out of his car and kicked the green garbage can over, Greg walked up behind him and asked, “What are you doing, dad?” Jason hated plastic and recycled everything he could, which made it easier for the plant sample Greg had brought home to spread throughout the garbage. It’s red tint and green apendages grew eagerly throughout the trash. As Greg approached, Jason yelled, “Stay back”. Greg stopped in his tracks. He saw his father rummaging through the open garage door. His father liked to barbecue with charcoal, so he had plenty of lighter fluid. Greg heard the crinkle as his dad squeezed the metal can, then a match.
The screaming noise the plant made as it burned scared them so badly that both father and son took a step backward. Jason emptied the metal can, then went back into the garage to get another, he didn’t stop until the garbage can was a large lump of melted burning plastic. The black smoke rose. Greg heard them before he saw them, Black Hawk helicopters flew above, headed towards Melrose. They both looked up.
Two days before Jason and Greg saw the helicopters Heather had awakened at about 6:30 a.m. The guy with the handle-bar mustache she had picked up marveled at how much she had drunk, not just alcohol either. She drank maybe eleven bottles of beer, nine shots of tequila and eight bottles of water. When they got to Heather’s house, she had turned on the faucet in her kitchen and drank right from the running water. She turned on the light and it was the first time he saw her in light that wasn’t neon. She was very pale.
He has been working for his long-haul trucking company for six years. His wife and children were waiting at home for him. He missed them,but he also wanted action and this pretty thing had been very eager. The morning light dimly lit her bedroom, there were clothes on the floor, it was messy. He had a smile on his face. She might have looked sick last night, but, man, was she good in bed. He thought it odd the number of water bottles on the floor.
He turned on his side, hoping she might be up for another go at it. He pulled her hair back from her sleeping forehead and stared at her, surprised to see that her cheeks were twitching. He frowned. Under the blanket, he saw she was moving to get more comfortable. He felt her reaching out to touch him. Sinking his hand underneath the covers, he felt something twirl around his fingers. It wasn’t her.
Spooked he jumped and fell out of bed, dragging the covers with him. He landed in a pile of blankets. Rushing to stand up, he threw the pile to the floor and saw attached to his fingers a long line of a plant of some kind with green leaves stretching from a whole bunch of cuts on her legs like a clothing line. He asked while ripping his fingers loose, “They’re growing inside you?” Heather awoke and quickly covered her legs. “I have to pull them out every day. It’s no big deal.”
The sound of her ripping the plants from her body was like a sloppy slurping of some kind, there were splatters of blood on the sheets. He raced from her front door in his boxers, clothes in hand, attempting to remember where he parked his semi. He actually patted his ears thinking that would get the sound out.
(Five days later in Philadelphia, handlebar mustache man sat on a table in an examination room. His skin was very pale and he was so thirsty he could hardly stand it. He could feel it wriggle inside him. The Doctor, an old man with gray hair, was about to step back into the room with him when two men wearing black suits and black sunglasses pointed their guns at the Doctor and ordered him into the examination room. He backed in with his hands up, a clipboard in one of his hands. They had to stay in the room until men wearing yellow hazmat suits arrived. The two FBI men were visibly scared.)
Bill had two glorious days in which his vitality was revived. He cut and raked the grass, he repainted part of the garage, he washed and waxed his car, fixed the basement step, got the furnace ready for next year. But that was done now. He had slept on the front porch last night. He was so weak he could hardly open his eyes. When he blinked, he could hear it. He knew he was sick and he knew his wife was sick.
Way back in his drinking days, he would freeze sandwich baggies full of water, then use an ice pick to break it apart on the counter. Over the years he’d gathered quite a large collection of ice picks, some of them worth a pretty penny. One year his wife had spent an unknown amount and bought him a solid silver one with his initials engraved on it. He was very grateful and he did use it, but he preferred the one with the wooden handle.
Earlier his wife, also very pale, came outside and pulled up her shirt and said, “Look, there it is again. It’s moving under my skin.” She took the ice pick and stabbed herself. Blood trickled down to her belly button. The thing under her skin moved, so she tried to stab it again. Bill saw multiple holes all over her torso; she was bleeding from most of them. He lifted his hands to stop her, but she backed away.
“Honey,” his mouth was so dry it was hard to speak, “you need to bring me the phone.” She replied, “In a minute. I’m going to get this thing out and kill it first.” She went back into the house. He kept lightly calling for the phone, but she stopped answering after a while.
Across the street, he saw a man with a handle-bar mustache leaving the slut’s house in his underwear. Using the last of his strength, he raised his arm and tried to yell, but he was so thirsty. The man disappeared around the block trying to dress as he walked and he never looked back. On his porch, Bill saw vines creeping toward him. As they crawled up into his pants, he wept. If he had had enough moisture in him, there would have been tears.
Deputy Primus peeked her head into Chief Schaefer’s office and said, “That’s another call from the turkey plant. They stopped by their house and they’re gone.” Chief Schaefer scratched his head, frustrated, “So you mean to tell me every Mexican is gone, every dog and cat has left?” She nodded her head yes and said, “Officer Peck is on line two.
“Schaefer here.” Officer Peck spoke, “I got a Spanish fella here I caught doing over a hundred trying to get away from Melrose. His wife and daughters abandoned him.” Chief Schaefer asked, “Can you hold him for me?” Officer Peck laughed, “He’s free to go. He doesn’t want to leave. Says it’s, ‘Too late’”.
Chief Schaefer got an idea. Stopping home, his wife was in the bathroom, not wanting him to see her. He grabbed the letter and put it in an evidence bag and headed to Freeport.
Elias looked defeated. He had a yellowing black eye that was well on its way to healing. Chief Schaefer took the letter he had found at the Professor’s house and slid it across the table. “You know what’s going on, don’t you?” Elias nodded yes.
“Why have all the animals in Melrose disappeared? Where did all the Mexican’s go?”
Elias chuckled, “My daughters probably texted them. Mexican’s are suspicious. The white kids they told will be ignored by their parents, always are. The animals are probably acting on instinct.”
Chief Schaefer asked, “What does that say?.” pointing to the letter.
As Elias read it, he chuckled again and said, “There was a dig in South America; a sample was sent to some Professor. I guess that’s how it got here.”
Chief Schaefer asked with a frown, “How what got here?”
Elias said, “The plant that eats people.”
Officer Peck was pulling up when Chief Schaefer exploded out of the police station. Peck asked, “Is everything alright?” The Chief sped away without answering and hit 90 miles an hour as he drove back to Melrose.
Deputy Primus and Deputy Johnson got the call from the Chief, who told them to switch to a secure channel. “I need you to rope off everything with police tape for a three-block radius around the Professor’s house.”
Deputy Johnson, “Chief are you serious?” The Chief’s answer was firm. “Do. It. Now!”
Screeching up to his house, he didn’t bother shutting the door to his cruiser. He ran up the stairs two at a time and started pounding on the bathroom door. She had spoken to him through the door last night, but she’d been in there for three days now. “Honey, you gotta let me in, you gotta.” When he received no reply he kicked the door in.
Outside the house, a middle-aged woman was doing her power walk with weights in her hands. She had on headphones. If she hadn’t been wearing them, she would have heard Chief Schaefer screaming.
As Deputy Johnson pulled up to the Professor’s house, he was perplexed. Everything looked fine. He walked up and down the block as his police cruiser sat and idled. He had thought about turning the lights on. He saw the slut’s house was covered in ivy. He saw Bill had also put ivy on his garage and it had spread to his house up on the roof and on his porch. Bill was sleeping out there. The deputy meant to ask if he was okay, but then he heard the Melrose Fire Department’s siren’s going off. He remembered he’d been told to switch to another channel. When he switched back, he heard the Chief’s house was on fire. He got back in his cruiser and raced across town.
As he arrived, the black smoke from the front porch and the entry way was billowing upwards. A woman was talking to Deputy Primus. She had weights in her hands and headphones around her neck; she was sweaty. “Yeah, he walked from his garage and he was pouring gasoline over his head as he walked in the front door. I asked him if he was okay but he didn’t hear me. Then the smoke started.”
Deputy Primus and Deputy Johnson were in shock. If they had been gambling people, neither would have bet the Chief could off himself. As the Melrose Fire Department worked to extinguish the blaze, the deputies kept traffic and onlookers at bay. Both were speechless. It was late into the night when they were able to finally get the bodies out. As the Coroner accompanied the bodies, his pale skin looked ghoulish in the moonlight.