Invasive in Minnesota

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Chapter 7

His son was in a hideout a mile away. He was sleeping more and more. Jason was sure he was now infected with it. Also, his own skin itched. He could see it moving under his son’s skin. It infuriated him.

He was hiding under leaves. When they walked past his position. They were talking about him. “Never seen that style of fightin’ before.” The other guy agreed, “It’s like a cross from Taekwondo and something else.”

Twenty-something years earlier Jason had stood before his father, a fire between them. The moon was out and, when the exhaled, you could see their breath. Jason’s arms were crossed. He was in his white karate uniform. Eagle’s Claw was perplexed. His son usually did not cross him. “I want you to get into the truck. You have martial arts practice tonight.” He had been training his son all day and his son he had fought well.

For the third time, Jason made his point. “What’s the reason? I don’t have Ojibwe blood in me. There’s no reason for me to continue to learn.”

Eagle’s Claw sighed, “It’s what is in your heart that is important. Not having mine or Blue Heart’s blood in you is irrelevant.”

Jason stood firm. “It is relevant to me. I am dirtying the water of your lessons with my non-Ojibwe blood….” Jason’s father was old, but he moved so fast around the fire that it scared him. He slammed Jason’s hand down to a tree stump, forced the palm up and cut a long line, he let go. Jason cradled his newly cut hand to his chest. Confused, he bled on his white karate uniform. His father used the same knife and cut his own hand.

He had been angry with his father, but to see him cut himself hurt in a way he would never forget, nor would he ever forgive himself. Eagle’s Claw turned and grabbed Jason’s hand, joining the two cuts together. His father squeezed hard; blood dripped down to the pine needles and the dark earth below them. After a minute, he let go and told Jason to get the bandages. As Jason ran off, Eagle’s Claw told him he now had Ojibwe blood running through his veins. That thought sent a big smile across Jason’s face as his hand pulsed with pain.

The Green Berets passed him, missing Jason completely, like he knew they would. His mind raced as he lay there. Try as he might, he could not figure out how to solve this problem. His son was dying and he was sure to follow. Every once in a great while, he would hear his father’s words in his head, sometimes his mother. But for now, he didn’t hear anything. When he decided to marry his wife, his father, though dead, still gave him his blessing, as did his mother. He almost spoke out loud, “What do I do? How do I fix this?

Sure the soldiers were gone, he headed back to his son. He had to hide. Sooner or later, the soldiers would be getting their heat-seeking equipment out and he didn’t know how to fight that. He heard more gunshots, had been hearing them all day. They were killing all the livestock and all the animals, squirrels, deer. It made sense. Couldn’t have this plant sickness spreading everywhere.

Ed was on beer number four. The people in the hotel bar were already rolling their eyes at him. When he was around, you had better put on your boots, because the shit got deep. He worked for the city of Sauk Centre and had knocked off work early that day after doing a bunch of nothing and getting paid for it. His five o’clock shadow was extra dark because he forgot to shave the night before. The hotel itself was supposedly haunted. Author Sinclair Lewis had worked there as a busboy many years ago, not surprisingly located on what was now Sinclair Lewis Avenue.

He was deep into a story about his Navy days, next to him a big jar of pickled eggs and next to that a box for pull tabs. The bartender stayed as far from Ed as he could. When Ed started with the eggs, he started to stink. As Ed talked about the ship he was on, the USS-Kitty Hawk, and how great it was, his phone started emitting quiet little beeps.

His timing could not have been better. He made a claim that was near unbelievable. He heard someone scoff and he stopped, “You don’t believe me? The things I’ve seen, that’s unbelievable, Top Secret stuff. The kind of stuff they kill you for. Like what’s going on in Melrose, I know all about it.” He stopped talking.

Heidi had gotten into another fight with the owner of Elite Cuts, also located on Sinclair Lewis Avenue. She had forgotten her hair clippers at home and had simply borrowed her co-worker’s, a co-worker who wasn’t even at work when she borrowed it. “But”, the owner told her, “the rules state that you are to bring your own clippers for your own clients. You have failed to do so repeatedly.”

She was pissed off, and she was in no mood to hear Ed’s bullshit. She wasn’t even listening to half of it, but she kept making little noises to piss him off. When he started talking about how he had seen Top Secret stuff, she had had enough. She stood up from her barstool, steadied herself, (she had been taking shots of Grey Goose) and crossed the bar to cuss him out. About halfway there she stopped. Two soldiers dressed to the nines, their rifles drawn, came through the front door. The third soldier she thought was the one in charge had a small computer. No one spoke. He pointed at Ed. Four more soldiers entered through the back of the bar. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The soldiers rounded the bar. They grabbed him and led him out the door. He wasn’t in handcuffs, but it was clear he didn’t have a choice. As the last soldier left, he backed out like they were about to attack. Once they were gone, no one spoke for a while. Maybe they had been wrong about ’Ol Ed.

He was shoved into the front seat of an Army truck; they made him sit in the middle. He was shaking. His dirty work shirt made him embarrassed. The guy with the computer flipped through a bunch of stuff before he said, “Your name is Ed, correct?”

Ed answered a little shakily, “Yes sir. Listen, about that Top Secret stuff I’ve seen, I didn’t mean it. I was making it up.”

The soldier continued, “We need you to show us how to shut the river down.”

Ed asked, “Shut the Sauk River down?”

Soldier, “Yes, this needs to be done immediately.”

Ed had been hearing about things going on in the next town over. People were reluctant to talk about it. Some people were getting sick or something. All the roads were closed. He had seen big clouds of black smoke coming from there, “Does this have to do with what’s going on in Melrose?” The soldier behind him cocked his gun and Ed decided he didn’t want to know. He hung his head.

The Sauk Lake Dam had two giant cement pillars. When the Army arrived in the truck Ed was in, six other trucks joined them. The bridge overhead was cordoned off, traffic rerouted. Ed climbed below. He had all the right keys that fit all the right locks and doors. In the dimly lit room, surrounded by turns and cranks, he started the process. The guy with the computer stopped him and said, “I have to do it. We need to know how to undo it, when necessary.”

Ed said, “Okay, I’m not going anywhere, I don’t see why I just can’t…..”

The soldier stopped him by holding up his hand, “The man who ordered me to find out how to turn it off works directly under a very important man, who, when disobeyed, can make you disappear.”

Ed caught on immediately. “So, you start here. You have to prep the valve, takes a few times, press it, pass it, turn clockwise.” The soldier learned quickly and took thorough notes.

When the water was off, Ed and the soldier stepped outside and climbed up ladders. There were hundreds of people lining the drying river. Not looking at the Army trucks, nor at the Army soldiers, they were looking at the bottom of the dam. Thousands and thousands of fish were flipping and flapping in the mud, suffocating.

Both painted and snapping turtles made their way onshore, ignoring the people whose legs they crawled around. With the road blocked off, they had no trouble navigating their way to Sauk Lake. Green and black shells disappeared one by one as they plopped into the dark water.

Special green painted Army four-wheelers were lowered to the ground, they had big fat tires that wouldn’t get stuck in the mud. Soldiers made their way to the creek bed and began downstream on the machines with big packs on their back. They hooted and hollered as they rode away. The river had dried up quicker than expected.

As Ed watched them head downriver, he scratched his head. Standing on the bridge, looking down, he wondered how long before the fish would start to stink. The soldier with the computer took a step up to get into his truck. Before he closed the door, Ed asked, “What do I do now?” The soldier looked down at him and said, “I’d make myself scarce for a few days, ’til this all blows over.” As Ed made his way home, all but one truck drove off and two soldiers stood with their guns drawn, on guard watching the river bed. To Ed’s knowledge, no one spoke to them. For the rest of his life he would experience a level of popularity he had never seen before. The less he said, the more his popularity grew. He loved it.

Father Zimmerman knelt in the warehouse. The last woman with her two kids had been escorted out hours ago. He was praying for the men who’d been gunned down and burned. He understood it wasn’t their fault they’d been killed. He also knew the soldiers had their orders. Even God gives orders. There was no mass hysteria. The people of Melrose had long been infected with Minnesota Nice. There were a few complainers, but nothing major.

With him not reporting into the Bishop in St. Cloud, he wondered if the Vatican would reign down holy hell on the US Army? Probably not. It would be cool though.

There was a meeting room in the turkey warehouses. The General sat at the head of the table. There was a green tint to the room. It was dark. Tony stood behind the General, slightly to his right. There were lieutenants and majors. A black girl wearing Army fatigue’s stood at a chalkboard. She was frustrated. She had prepared an entire presentation on her computer, but no. “The General wanted it to be “old fashioned.” She had done all that stinking work for nothing.

He looked up at her, he had an old spiral notebook in front of him. Tony kept stealing looks at the notebook. The General turned to him and asked, “You’re sure you asked me if I wanted anything?”

Tony whispered, “You were on the phone, I said, “I’m going for pizza. Do you want anything?” You just waved me off.”

The General turned back to the table, “Dammit.”

He asked her what she was waiting for.

“Sorry, General. Okay, we’ve broken it down to a spectrum.” She picked up her piece of chalk. “One through 10. Ten being the fastest, one being the slowest.”

The General interrupted her, “Fastest for what?”

She answered, “No matter what, it will kill you. Number 10, it will kill you fastest-- one, maybe two days. Five, you have a week or two. Its cells multiply until it completely takes over your body, it eats everything, including bone, it starts in the marrow first.”

The General asked, “Do we have any idea where this comes from?”

She scratched her head, “We think South America. We found a diary of a priest from a 170 years ago mentions it, southern Brazil.”

He asked, “What did the priest say?”

She replied, ”A carnivorous plant that moves on its own. He wrote it in Latin, Sir.”

The General asked, “And how is it able to speak?”

She ruffled through a few pages. “The red fibers, it moves them back and forth, the whole plant works in unison, kind of like the fibers on the legs of a cricket. It doesn’t speak, Sir. It can only mimic what it’s heard.”

He turned to one of the major’s sitting at the table, “How many people do we need to discharge yet?”

He shuffled through some papers, “Maybe 10. We’re almost done.”

He turned to another, “Did we eliminate all the plants from under the city?”

“We’ve chased it to the river. What is left of the water is being boiled down, all plant life is being torched. It didn’t grow upstream, the progress it made downstream was halted. We will be going door to door….”
The General halted him, “Why hasn’t that been done already?”

“Sir, we lost 14 men under the roads.”

The General said, “That doesn’t explain what you’re waiting for? You have the entire US Army at your disposal and you haven’t gotten around to it yet?”

“Sir, I…..”

The General turned to Tony, “Get his replacement in here.” The General pointed the major to the door. The major left with his head lowered. “Tony, let’s go get something to eat.”

The General stood up, Tony close behind him. Making their way around the table, the General said with his hands up in the air, “Dammit, Tony, there was a time we would just kill everyone and burn it all to the ground but, noooo, Tony has a kid and we gotta play nice.”

They made their way out of the conference room. Stepping downstairs, they walked past a long line of male and female soldiers sitting at computers, both to the left and right. Most were tasked with keeping Melrose out of the limelight. There were a few mentions on Google and Bing, but those were quickly squashed. A few people had uploaded videos online, but those were found immediately.

The General knew he was partly to blame. He had pulled out his phone to look for local pizza places and it caught on his pocket. He dropped it and said, “Could you?” pointing to the phone on the floor. When Tony bent to pick it up, one of the female soldiers attacked.

Twenty-six years earlier, Tracy Lewis was born in Portland, Oregon and abandoned by her mother when she was an infant. She was tossed around in foster care for her first nine years. There was light abuse, sexual and otherwise. In the Portland school system, she tested well above average. In the early 2000’s, she saw her first page of computer programming. In Emmerson Middle School, during library studies, she crashed not only the school’s computer systems, she also hacked the Portland City Police Department and the Wells Fargo ATM systems, causing them to spill cash all over the road.

It took two days and 20 techs to figure out what had happened. When they did, one of them decided she must be adopted, by him.

She was placed in the finest schools and graduated early. She was also told about a very powerful and dangerous man who didn’t have to answer to anyone. Many of the United States’ major incidents involved him.

Slowly she was raised to hate him. He was big government, he was evil. At night, she lay there seething over how much she wanted him dead. In early 2013, spring with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Oregon University, she entered Fort Benning, Georgia for officer’s training. In the military, she excelled; her specialty was computers.

She knew she wouldn’t last long, as she was a martyr for her cause. He was the enemy, he must be stopped. She had seen him coming. When his bodyguard had bent down for something, she opened the sandwich baggie as he passed her. When she stood, her chair flew out behind her, hitting the guy across the aisle. He said, “Hey” while standing up.

As Tony picked up the General’s phone, he looked up to see a blond-haired woman reaching out to his face, vines in her hand.

As she ground the plants as hard as she could into the bastard’s face, his bodyguard grabbed her and she started yelling.

In less than six seconds, Tony broke both of her arms in four places. He then landed a blow to her face, knocking her out and silencing her screams. Taking control, Tony started barking orders as the vines started writhing on the floor. Picking people at random, he said, pointing to a young man and then the plant on the floor, “Contain that now!” Facing another man, Tony said, “You, give me your shirt!” Tony grabbed an anti-bacterial station and ripped it off the wall.

The General had been caught by surprise by that little blond bitch. He had already been irritated, and when he realized what had just happened, he became red-hot, mushroom-cloud angry. Seeing the lady on the floor and that she was now incapacitated, he meant to ask Tony something when Tony gripped him by the front of his shirt and slammed him to the floor.

Tony busted open the anti-bacterial container and poured it on the General’s face. Using the Army guy’s shirt, Tony started to scrub. It was when the stinging liquid got in his eyes that the General started to protest and fight. Tony was much stronger than the General who was quickly overpowered, his white hair promptly doused with anti-bacterial gel. The General coughed as his mouth was filled.

A half-hour later the General sat in a room with an IV hooked up to his arm. Tony and the black Army lady stood looking at him. A moment ago, the General had asked, “Do I have it?”

She was scared when she nodded yes. He asked, “Where am I on the spectrum?”

She said, “You have three days.” He stood up and started cursing. His face itched, his white whiskers were surrounded by rash and red bumps.

In 1965 a very young man entered Army Bootcamp in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. On his Army-issue green camo-shirt, read Smith. On their second day, skin irritated from having their heads shaved, Smith and all his fellow bootcampers were lead into a room lined with desks. They were out of breath after having just run two miles. A man in a white shirt entered the room carrying a big stack of manila envelopes and white test papers. The test papers were the kind where you fill in the bubbles with a # 2 pencil. He spoke to them, “Hello, recruits, I am Dr. Field. You will be taking a test for the next hour.” One of the Army recruits raised his hand, Dr. Field, pointed and said, “Yes son?”

“What is this test for?”

“It’s a brand new type of test. We in the Army have special jobs, and those special jobs need special people who can perform specific jobs. We also need people for the United States’ invasion of the Dominican Republic.” Another guy raised his hand, but was shouted down by a drill instructor who had been standing in the back of the room. The drill instructor yelled, “You little Bastards. No more questions! Take your tests and shut your mouths!.” To emphasize this, he slammed his baton on a desk making a loud slapping noise. As they were handed their papers, Smith kept his head down and tried to not draw attention. Outside they could hear fellow Army bootcampers doing jumping jacks.

A week and a half later, Smith was pulled out of the mud by the man in the white shirt. He was told to clean himself up and be ready at the barracks. A green Army jeep pulled up and he was escorted to a white building. Army troops were coming and going. The man in the white shirt set him down in front of his desk. There was a giant fish mounted on his wall. On his desk were photos of him wearing a fishing hat with the hooks in it and he had waterproof waist-high boots. The man in the white shirt sat down and looked at Smith for a while before he spoke, “60,000 troops have come through here. I was starting to lose hope.”

Smith, who would later be known as the General, had a look of confusion on his face. “Hope of what? Did I do something wrong?”

The man said, “No, no, no, no, nothing like that.” He took a round device out and slid it across the desk.

Smith looked up at him and asked, “What is that?”

The man in the white shirt said, “You tell me.”

It took Smith an hour, but he finally figured it out. He asked, “This isn’t human, is it?”

The man in the white shirt stood up and said, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

Although quarantined, the General was still in charge. Pacing back and forth, he wrung his hands together, IV in his left arm. “Tony, that’s it. Firebomb the whole town. Let’s wipe Melrose off the map.”

Tony knew when the General was dead, he’d be in trouble. This scared him. When he was told to wipe Melrose off the map, it pissed him off. The General was his ticket to everything. Tony had meant to replace him, but there was no way that would happen with less than three years training. Who better to take his anger out on than the town itself?

The last known (to Operation Black Jack that is) resident of Melrose, Minnesota, was Father Zimmerman. As he was escorted to a bus with the other’s before him, he saw Army soldiers begin to move quicker. He had signed a Top Secret document forfeiting his life were he to say anything to anyone. He was worried about when he finally sat down with the Bishop and explained what had happened. The Bishop would likely push for information he couldn’t give. As he sat down, he heard the radio of one of the soldiers say, “They’re torching everything, Move it!” He wished he could look at his beautiful church one more time.

An hour later, Jason Black returned to where his son slept. He made no effort to hide, as the soldiers had now exited the woods. His green flannel shirt itched his skin, but he kept it on. He knew both he and his son would be dead by dark. He had heard the orders. Fighter jets would be here soon. Greg sat up and rubbed his eyes. Jason saw the plants moving around under Greg’s skin. It didn’t scare Jason, but it did break his heart. “Dad, do we have any beef jerky left?” Greg coughed and opened another bottle of water.

Jason had been planning on using water from the river and boiling it down because they were low, but the river had dried up. He handed Greg the last of the trail mix. Greg gobbled it up immediately, then he drank another bottle of water.

With a library of knowledge, Jason felt stupid. He kept asking his deceased parents what he should do. He prayed on it. The answer he kept getting was “Sleep”. In his mind out in the woods, he was on his knees. He pictured his father sitting across from him. The fire was hot. “Father, my son is going to die. I am watching it happen. The Army is coming; we will die. What should I do?” His father never looked away. “Sleep and trust in God.”

As the tears fell from Jason’s face, Greg weakly reached out to hug him. Greg said, “It’s okay, dad. I’m here.”

They went for a walk. Jason ended up carrying Greg most of the way through the woods as the sun set. Jason took out a Hershey’s bar and handed it to Greg.

Jason could never end his son’s life. He had put a lot of thought into it. He also didn’t want his son to die in a reign of fire. Jason looked down at his son, Greg was rubbing his eye; when he looked up at his dad, Jason saw little green squiggles moving around in the whites of his son’s eye, which was graying. As Greg raised his hand to rub his eye again, Jason said, “You’ll make it worse. Don’t scratch it.”

Greg said, “Okay dad.”

With tears in his eyes, Jason started a fire and got out the cooking equipment. Greg said, “Won’t that give away our position?” Jason answered, “The Army is gone. I scared them all away.”

Greg said weakly, “Thanks, dad”.

In North America, there are over 250 poisonous mushrooms. Minnesota has almost all of them. The state mushroom is the Yellow Morel (Morella Esculenta). Jason could identify both the Ojibwe name and the technical terms for all of them. He knew which ones made you dizzy. At one time, he had even thought about making a business out of mushrooms. He knew which ones were the best and he could find them easy, but money was not a problem for Jason, so he had no reason to be a drug dealer. On their walk, he picked a few specific mushrooms and put them in his pocket.

As his father had shown him, Jason he simmered water and threw the two mushrooms in. One of them had a bright red cap, the other had a sickly looking yellow. Each on their own was highly poisonous. Together the poisons canceled out when they reached stomach acid. Eagle’s Claw told Jason he didn’t think anyone knew about it anymore, and not to forget.

Jason didn’t want Greg to burn to death and be awake for it. As the ground started to shake, Jason held the cup to his son’s lips and he drank. Jason estimated it would be an hour before the bombs reached this area. He held his son close as he dozed off in his arms and he wept. At least his son would be comfortable.

Jason tried to remember every second of his wonderful life. He really wanted to tell his wife how much he loved her. He hoped she would realize he had done everything he could. He was pretty sure she would know he had kept their son safe as long as he could have. He wondered what she was doing now.

Although Greg should have been deeply asleep, Jason looked down when he said, “Ouch!” and moved his hand to his stomach. The woods were just starting dusk and the air was cooling. Jason saw his son’s pale skin move more as those damn plants started to squirm. He almost doubted himself to have made the mixture correctly, but he had followed all of the steps exactly. Fast asleep, Greg’s body started doing strange things.

Jason laid Greg down in the grass next to the fire. Greg’s pants started to wriggle and squirm; there was a strange high-pitched noise. Pulling down his pants and his son’s underwear, Jason saw the green plants with a reddish hue crawling out of his anus. They squiggled and screamed and stopped moving. He picked his son up and saw little vines crawling out through Greg’s tear ducts. They snaked down his son’s cheeks, leaving light trails of blood and landing in the grass. Then they crawled out of his ears, their exits leaving little drops of blood. Then they exited his nose. The smell was horrible, but Greg’s skin already looked better. All of the plants that crawled out died. Jason kicked most of them into the fire. He picked up his son and started running along the bank of the now dried up Sauk River, heading west towards Sauk Centre, the ground shaking from the explosions behind them.

The two soldiers who had been stationed at the Sauk Lake Dam hadn’t been relieved in two days. One of them was John. He had been told he had done a good job underneath the streets of Melrose, but then they put him here. They heard on their radio about the mass exodus of the neighboring city. When the jets flew overhead they both looked up and saw trails of exhaust in the sky. John looked over at his fellow soldier and said, “Glad I’m not over there.” The other soldier nodded in agreement. “Did they tell you why we’re here?”

John had been told not to talk about it, “Nah”. They hoped they would be gone soon. With the sun beating down all day, the fish were starting to stink, like really, really bad.

As John spent a lot of time looking down at the rotting fish, he hoped he wouldn’t see the vines starting to spread. So far he hadn’t. Their orders were to watch the river bed and report anything unusual and not to let anyone go downstream or come upstream. With traffic having been rerouted outside of town, it was pretty quiet. The sun was setting behind them.

They saw the smoke from the bombs, the ground shook. John was falling asleep on his feet when his partner elbowed him. He had his gun drawn and was pointing. Following his partner’s finger, John looked down from the bridge and saw a man running towards them yelling something.

His partner picked up a bullhorn and yelled, “Sir, I advise you to stop immediately and return to where you came from.” The soldier felt bad when he saw that the man was carrying a little kid. The guy who was running was covered in mud from the waist down Apparently, the river hadn’t dried up completely yet.

Jason yelled the only thing he could think to yell, “I found the cure for the plants! I found the cure for the plants! I found the cure for the plants!” Seeing the huge pile of stinking fish, he rounded them and started climbing the grass embankment. As he faced the soldiers and continued running, two bullets tore through his left shoulder. Gripping Greg tightly, Jason he fell back. Blood started to pool under him and soak into the grass. His son never left his arms.

John and his partner approached the man in the green shirt. John was cursing his partner. “When you pulled the trigger, you scared me and my finger jumped.”

He replied, “We were told to shoot anyone coming from there. What would you have me do?”

As they crept up to him, they saw a vine wriggle out of the little boy’s mouth and lie still on the grass. It made a weird noise for a moment, then went silent. John picked it up with the barrel of his rifle. It had blood on it. The two men looked at each other.

She was reminded of her childhood. One of her foster parents, one of the ones who hadn’t molested her, had chickens. She hadn’t been there for long, but the time she did spend there was nice enough so that she always flashed back to it. Eggs every day, bacon every day. Her contribution to the little family was to feed the chickens on a tiny hobby farm. As a young girl in her little sun-dress with a little straw hat, she was sent with a bucket of seed. The mesh fencing had a little wooden door, the chickens clucking grew louder when they saw her. White and brown chickens crowded around her when she entered the pen. She fed them, then filled the empty basket with eggs. It was a lovely routine.

It was those mornings she thought of as she opened her eyes. Thoughts of her time at the farm were quickly replaced as she gained consciousness. There was one flickering florescent light still working at 60 percent capacity, giving the room a strobe light effect. As she struggled to find her feet, she cursed the soldier who had broken her arms. She couldn’t even brush her blond hair back. Her Army uniform had been stripped off her; she was in a hospital gown. All around her were cages and cages of turkeys. The birds were going berserk. On the tops of the cages, vines had spread and had been devouring the birds one after the other.

In a yellow hazmat suit, Tony brought the monitor into the General’s room. In the turkey warehouse, there were buttons controlling all of the turkey cage doors. This helped when the cages were empty and they were being sprayed down and cleaned; it was also in case of an emergency or fire. Tony placed the remote control for the cages in front of the General. He had placed the remote in a sandwich baggie so the General wouldn’t infect anyone else. Tony saw for a brief moment a flicker of a smile from the General when he pushed the release button.

As she limped over to the red EXIT sign, all of the turkey doors opened. There were a few infected birds who attacked other birds, but the majority of them wanted her. The turkeys hadn’t been fed for days and it was the insanity of hunger that drove them. They attacked her like piranhas, pecking her skin and breaking it. She was able to kick a few of the 20 pound turkeys away, but she didn’t have shoes on. It was the skin on her legs that broke first. The sight and smell of blood fueled them on in a fury. She had always assumed she would die by a bullet. Being ripped apart by crazy turkeys infected by a carnivorous plant was a surprise. Her broken arms flopped back and forth, the light continued to flicker on and off, it was hard to scream when her mouth was full of feathers. Her last thought was “At least I got the General”, before her world went dark and the turkeys got their fill.

The General half-watched. Tony had thought that would cheer him up for sure. He exited the room and was sanitized. The black Army lady rushed into the room with a radio in her hand. She said, “Here he is.”

Tony asked, “What now?”

“Sir, I think this guy we just shot has the cure for the plants.”

Tony became very serious, his voice deadly. “What is your location? Do not reply to anything other than that. If you say one more word about that, you will be shot, by me. Location, please.” The soldier spoke to him, his voice now trembling.

Tony called four women into the room. They were all were wearing Army uniforms, all had notebooks. He pointed at the first woman and said, “Keep the General happy.” Pointing to another he said, “Get me to Sauk Centre and get a hospital tent set up in the park.” Pointing to the third, “Get the surgeons here now.” When they didn’t move fast enough, he clapped his hands and said, “Let’s go…Lets go” They scuttled out of the room.

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