Kick the Bucket

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Chapter Seventeen

After almost two hours of non-stop talking, Colonel Forrest deeply regrets not bringing along some water. Fortunately, there are only a few pages left:

Federal authorities were contacted in regards to a possible crime scene and kidnapping involving multiple persons on April 12th, 1990. Local police of Beaver, an unincorporated community in Clallam County, Washington State on April 11th, had called for assistance subsequent to their investigation of wild gunfire reports coming from a nearby cottage on the Northern shore of Lake Pleasant.

Two police cruisers dispatched from the town of Forks arrived shortly before midnight. When responding officers entered the open front door, they discovered it to be vacant. There was no sign of the two adults, and their two young children, who had moved into the rented cottage only hours earlier that afternoon.

They discovered an empty semi-automatic hunting rifle outside the front door, and almost every wall pockmarked with bullet holes. Nothing else seemed to be missing or damaged, and several still-packed suitcases, along with a cardboard boxes filled groceries and toys, were found in the center of the living room.

Nearby hospitals reported no gunshot victims visiting their emergency rooms, and a forensic team sent from the state capital, Olympia, the next morning detected no blood splatter or evidence of tampering inside the cottage. However, they did recover several small melted metal fragments of a California license plate registered to the missing adults inside the open garage.

Their identities confirmed by fingerprint evidence, all relevant law enforcement agencies have been contacted. If they are located, and not evaluated to be the innocent victims of assault and kidnapping, the couple will be changed with destruction of private property, child endangerment, the discharge of a weapon in a residential area, and cruelty to animals.

Within a few feet of the license plate fragments, the partial remains of a large male German Sheppard belonging to the family were recovered. It had been bisected while alive by means unknown. The head and both front legs of the animal were never found. Nothing else of note was logged into evidence, and the missing family’s relatives and friends claim no contact since the incident.

Subsequent examination of the site by Building Three personnel determined all evidence to be consistent with a DNA Disruptive Entity of the Non-Chaotic type. All efforts to discover the DE’s current whereabouts have proven inconclusive. As of this date, monitoring personnel operating under the guise of retired homeowners remain on-site.

Colonel Forrest returns the pages to the appropriate folder, and drops it back into the open briefcase with all the rest. Coughing lightly to clear his throat, he turns and stares directly at an alien entity hiding behind the image of a man it had murdered, “That’s it. Everything there is to know. From the first time the activities of a DE ... an emissary ... were officially recognized until today.

And considering just how many strange disappearances occur in this country every year, and how long DE’s have been theorized to have been active on Earth, what I’ve presented is likely a grossly inadequate count of the death and destruction ... things ... like you have caused in my lifetime, let alone far back into recorded history and beyond. Do you understand what I’ve told you?”

Clearly aware of the multiple personality nature of the entity he’s trying to communicate with, Colonel Forrest isn’t surprised in the slightest when, with a few seconds pause between, it nods twice.

“Very well, now let me explain my current situation. I have no authority to demand anything of you. Nor do I possess any means to force your compliance. But I can’t stress this enough, normal DE’s, whether Chaotic or not, are a threat powerful countries around the world will not tolerate.

For this reason, we ... I ... have done things I’m not proud of. Yet, I did them, repeatedly and to the best of my abilities, because the alternative was too horrible to contemplate. The leadership of this country ... and people like me, who’ve vowed to protect it ... had just begun to divulge what we know about the existence of DE’s when ah ... you appeared.

It was bad enough when DE’s ... emissaries ... were nothing more than mindless monsters that we had to hunt down and contain to protect ourselves. Now it’s immeasurably worse. Why one of you chose to manifest sentience now, and exhibit this specific human’s personality and memories, is of little importance.

You’ve already experienced what lengths my superiors will go to defend this nation. If proof of your existence and location is exposed ... as a human-consuming alien with an unknown agenda that can shrug off a nuclear weapon, and possibly able to communicate with more of your kind ... my country’s enemies, and even our friends, will undoubtedly not hesitate to attack with far stronger weapons hoping to overwhelm you. And we will be forced to respond.

Will you return with me before it’s too late?”

Thinking ’Tough crowd!, Colonel Forrest stares several minutes at the utterly still figure only a few paces away, and finishes his examination with another thought, ‘I should’ve become an auto mechanic like Pop wanted!’

Without the slightest hesitation, he takes two steps and closes the gap between them, “You ... at least one of you ... asked me a question a short time ago. If you’d let me, I would like to answer it now. I do love life more than death. I always have, and it’s the reason I put on this uniform every day and would gladly lay down my life for those I’ve sworn to protect.

I ask again ... will you return with me before it’s too late?”

Colonel Forrest lifts his right arm and extends his open hand.

A work-hardened hand, feeling neither warm nor cold, or of anything else, grasps his firmly and gives it a friendly shake.

Sticking his head just high enough above the backhoe’s loader bucket to be seen, Corporal Samuel yells, “TELLY!! THE COLONEL’S COMING BACK!! AND THE DE’S WITH HIM!!” and drops out of sight again.

In no particular hurry, Colonel Forrest approaches the car and guides the DE into the passenger seat. Turning around, he tosses the briefcase into Telly’s hands, “Here! Take this back to my office. And tell the incompetent idiots piloting that thing this isn’t some backwater war zone. How often do you think helicopters the size of a bus fly around here?”

Lieutenant Lopez chimes in, “I already told him that, sir.”

“Good. Half the county is probably wondering what’s going on. Why are you here anyway, Telly?”

“There’s two more behind the backhoe, Colonel.”

“I’m not in the mood to play hide n’ seek! EVERYBODY . . . FRONT AND CENTER!!”

Giving real world reality to the humorous phrase, ‘dragging their feet’, Corporals Edwards and Samuel slowly near-stumble around the backhoe. Only moments later they stop, looking almost embarrassed to have weapons in their hands, in front of their frowning commanding officer, “What’s all the hardware for?”

The only reply he receives is a duo of mumbled ahh’s and oohs, and desperate glances in Corporal Telly’s direction, “Spit it out! I don’t have all damned day. LOPEZ!!”

“They’re under orders to bring back your briefcase, sir. And there are a couple body bags with our names on them in the copter if we raise a fuss about handing it over ... or refuse to return with them.”

After a moment of silent thought, Colonel Forrest looks down at the two-way radio and coil wired microphone clipped to Corporal Telly’s vest, “That’s it then. Our joyride is over. Pass me that microphone, please.”

Almost yanking Corporal Yancy off his feet, Colonel Forrest pulls forcefully on the microphone handed to him and shouts, “THIS IS COLONEL FORREST, SIX FOR IMMEDIATE EVAC!!”

An equally loud voice replies, “WHERE’S CORPORAL TELLY AND HIS SQUAD!?

“They’re right here ... pointing weapons at us. Who are you? And are you coming to pick us up or what?”

“This is Captain Indaco. What do you mean six?

Well, there’s Corporals Telly, Edwards, and Samuel. And then there’s Lieutenant Lopez and me.”

Sounding puzzled, the voice on the radio asks, “That’s only five. Who else is with you?”

“Sorry, Captain Indaco ... and whatever other color of the rainbow is sitting beside you ... I forgot to mention the DE is right here. If you like, we’ll all climb aboard your pretty little whirlybird like a big happy family for the trip back to Building Three. How’s that sound?”

After nearly a minute of static-filled silence, “What do you propose, Colonel?”

“It’s simple. I’m sending Telly back with the briefcase and keeping his radio. He’s also going to have the map I used to get here, and it’s already marked with my return route. You should have more than enough time to order the highway patrol out of my way before I get off these rural roads. Once I hit solid concrete, you have my word I’ll have my hungry little friend back home in no time.”

“What guarantee do we have you won’t break that word, Colonel?”

Colonel Forrest looks almost straight up before replying, “None really. But go ahead and drop whatever that fighter is hauling around up there. You might get lucky. Heaven knows a nuke wasn’t enough to tick it off.”

After several more minutes of static-filled silence, “Agreed. We’ll give you the go-ahead when Corporal Telly and his men return … OUT!!”

Mumbling under his breath in white-hot rage …“Damn spooks can even look you in the eyes when they order someone else to shove in the knife! … Colonel Forrest tears the radio off Telly’s vest without bothering to unbuckle the straps. Almost crushing the plastic case in his grasp, he stares straight into the corporal’s pale face, “Don’t ... you ... have ... someplace ... else ... to ... be?”

Lieutenant Lopez hands Corporal Telly the map and leans closer to whisper, “This is where you say, ‘Yes sir’ and leave … Quickly. Don’t forget the briefcase.”

After shouting, “YES SIR!! LET’S GO GUYS!!” Telly salutes and races away with his fellow soldiers close behind.

Knowing full well the value of discretion, Lopez backs away silently several steps before turning around and taking hold of the car’s driver-side door latch. The instant he hears the lock mechanism click open, and receives the reaction he was expecting, “I’m driving.”

“Of course sir, I didn’t want to ‘disturb’ our guest by going in on that side.”

Lieutenant Lopez tilts the driver’s backrest forward, and with more than a little effort, eventually manages to squeeze his six foot two height into a cramped rear seating space barely suitable for a passenger over five foot anything.

No sooner than they’re both seated, Colonel Forrest lifts the radio, “Here, take it.”

Hunched over and doing his best to avoid touching the DE, Lopez grabs the radio and sets it down on the empty seat beside him, “Don’t you want to answer when he calls?”

“You do it. That so-called Captain Indaco is no more an army officer than Yancy! Screw ’im!”

Puzzled by absolute certainty in his commanding officer’s tone, Lieutenant Lopez asks, “How are you so sure, sir?”

“After a few years, I eventually picked up a fair amount of my ex-wife’s lingo ... at least when she wasn’t screaming about stuff involving lawyers and alimony payments. Indaco is Italian for the color purple. Assholes like him just love their bloody mind games!”

“Oh. So he’s ...?”

“Yeah, that’s right. And probably spy-school bunk mates with that prick Hartman.”

“Do you think they’re up to something, sir?”

“Don’t worry about it. If they were going to do something stupid, it would’ve happened already. Covering that many asses takes time.”

Looking for something, anything, to distract his worried mind, Lieutenant Lopez points at the occupied front passenger seat and asks, “Ah ... how did the meeting go?”

“There are still some major points to hash out, but I think I’ve come up with the bare bones of an accommodation that’ll make everyone happy ... or, at the very least, keep the planet from getting blown out of its orbit. I’ll clue you in later, that is, if they don’t put us in front of a firing squad first.”

Twenty minutes later the shrill roar of helicopter blades revving up echoes between tombstones, and the radio crackles to life, “PROCEED!! DO NOT DEVIATE FROM INDICATED ROUTE, OR STOP WITHOUT PERMISSION!! WE’LL BE FOLLOWING . . . OUT!!”

Colonel Forrest starts the engine and drives carefully around the parked backhoe. Once satisfied his car is safely clear of the large machine, he rolls onto the gravel road and picks up speed.

Looking down at the silent radio, Lieutenant Lopez comments, “Someone’s having a bad day.”

“I can’t say that I blame him. There’s no telling what you might hear when you eavesdrop on people. ISN’T THAT RIGHT, CAPTAIN IN ... DA ... CO!!”

Without saying a word, Lieutenant Lopez picks up the radio and closely examines it.

Seeing what he’s doing in the rear-view mirror, Colonel Forrest comments, “If you’re looking for an on-off switch, don’t bother. It won’t work. From how hot it feels, it must’ve been transmitting since they gave it to Telly.”

Lopez drops the radio back onto the vacant seat.

“Is that how you knew . . . The temperature thing?”

“Somewhat, but mostly because I’ve dealt with enough CIA pinheads to know how their little minds work. When I called for EVAC I faked holding down the microphone switch.”

Still miles away, and rapidly increasing in altitude, a heavily armed and armored helicopter jerks violently to one side before continuing a somewhat smooth ascent. Without saying a word, the co-pilot is struggling to maintain a neutral expression while his superior at the controls fills the flight cabin with an extensive repertoire of shouted expletives in several languages.

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