Is it just me or is the road bumpier than usual. Jack Grieves thought as he bounced in his seat when his truck hit another pot hole.
Driving down the poorly constructed dirt road at 5:30 in the morning wasn’t exactly he wanted his morning to go. He had hoped the county had done at least some repair work after he and several others complained about the road’s condition a couple months ago but didn’t hold his breath. From how much his truck was bouncing he was certain they hadn’t even touched the road; no surprise there. Thankfully, the four-wheel drive option of his Tacoma made the drive a lot smoother than it could’ve been; even though that didn’t help much with the potholes that were hard to see at night. Even with his powerful headlights he found himself hitting more than a few pot holes. It took all his driving skills, and going less fifteen miles an hour, to avoid smacking his head on the ceiling with each pot hole he hit.
“And yet, this road is still smoother than my divorce.” Jack muttered to himself making him chuckle for an instant before the thought of Mary made his blood boil.
Jack tightly gripped the steering wheel trying to push the thought of his ex-wife out of his mind as quickly as possible. It was too early for him to have thoughts of the woman he considered the bane of his existence and cause of most of his recent suffering. The thought of Mary with that older gentleman, if he could be called that, in their own bed, quickly took his mind off the bumpy road. He found meals gripping the steering wheel so tight that his fingers were beginning to leave indents. A deep, slow breath was enough for the moment to get him to release his grip and concentrate on the road to see his surroundings.
Fortunately, his mood experienced a major shift when his headlights illuminated a tall stick driven into the ground by the side of the road with a bright, yellow rope tied and wrapped around the top half. A normal person would’ve looked at it with confusion as to why there was a stick with a yellow rope on the side of the road and driven right past; but Jack was certainly not a normal person in more than one sense. He knew his postings to his stand locations and left them by the road so he could find them even in the worst visibility conditions. It made him happier to see there was no one else around, given how cold it was he wasn’t surprised; even in the truck with the heater on it was still chilly.
Pushing the thoughts of his ex-wife aside Jack parked his truck near the stick, trying to stay out of the mud as much as possible but not succeeding. He could feel his truck tilting to the left as he shut the truck off, no doubt leaving deep tire track imprints. It didn’t bother Jack in the slightest, he had faith in his truck to get out of the muddiest situations, or at least he would if his mind would stop drifting back to Mary screwing him over.
“Maybe shooting something will get my mind off of that bi. . . no Jack, don’t go there.” Jack muttered as he shut off the truck, grabbed the Winchester lever action 30-30 from the back seat, and a box of his preferred hunting ammo, frangible bullets.
The freezing air hit Jack the moment he stepped out of his truck but he gritted his teeth and bore it, taking a deep breath of the forest air before quietly shutting the door. It seemed to calm his aggression and put him in a mental state of alertness and determination that he needed to be in. It brought a slight smile to his face knowing that he was away from all the drama, headaches, and heartbreaks of his recent life for a chance to enjoy himself. With a pleasing sigh, he swung the rifle over his shoulder, adjusted his gloves and coat, and then began the long trek into the thick as with little care for recent events that he could muster.
The only light Jack had to illuminate his path was a small red flashlight, and the moonlight, which it barely did anything. However, Jack had walked the path so many times over the past few months that even in the dark he instinctually knew the way, despite the thick underbrush and deep mud. His flashlight helped to keep him from tripping and getting stuck in the mud. Moving at a snail’s pace made it easier but not by much as going at that walking speed was difficult for him since he wanted to get to the tree stand as quickly as possible. To avoid making as little noise as he could he had to progress slowly and watch every step and took so he didn’t accidently step on a stick or make any unnecessary noise. Thanks to his experience it wasn’t too difficult for him to progress and hardly make any noise. Jack was so quiet and slow that he managed to sneak past a group of squirrels and birds without alerting them.
After a twenty minute walk, normally a five minute trek at Jack’s normal walking pace, the field he was looking for came into view. Though it was still nearly pitch black he could make out the outline of the small open area surrounded trees and slight knolls on two sides leading to a creek bed. To most people the area would seem pretty unassuming but an experienced hunter like Jack would know better and see the signs. He knew from previous scouting trips the area was a common trail for deer in the early morning, often right through the middle of the field. The area had proven fruitful for him so far, though only sightings but no successful kills, and that morning he had a good feeling he’d get lucky.
To avoid leaving as little of his scent as possible in the area Jack progressed around the field to the right towards a thick, oak tree a short distance away that overlooked the area. At the base of the tree was a camouflaged ladder that led up to a tree stand attached to the trunk positioned nearly twenty feet up. He took the climb slowly, making sure to be quiet, barely making a sound. Once up in the stand he quietly sat into the cushioned seat and adjusted into a comfortable but alert position overlooking the area before him. From his elevated stand he could see nearly everything around him, or would be able to once the sun rose, even through the thick woods. Jack had positioned the stand at that location not just due to the overlooking view it gave him of the area but because it also was positioned so that he didn’t have to progress through the field from his truck. He could just walk straight to it without worrying about leaving his scent in the area.
Jack leaned back into the tree stand letting the cool, morning breeze blow over him. Despite it being in the low twenties, no doubt near the single digits with the wind chill, he didn’t feel cold in the slightest. His thick, camouflage coat kept him warm and it helped that he had gotten used to the cold through spending so much time out in the woods during hunting seasons Instead, he felt comfortable seated high in the trees observing the area around him, gripping the stock of his rifle. Since Jack knew it’d be a good amount of time before the area settle down he relaxed and rested the barrel on the edge of the tree stand’s bar but kept him alert enough in case something came into view.
With it still being dark, sunrise was twenty minutes away, Jack clouding see much of anything. The only light he had was the moonlight and that wasn’t doing much with the tree tops blocking most of it. He relied on his sense of hearing for the time being detecting mostly birds and squirrels, which to him was a good sign. Though he was after deer, just hearing the birds and other small animals made him more at ease than he’d felt in the past few months.
As time ticked on by to sunrise, quite slowly, Jack became more and more awake and alert, at every sound he heard. Every rustling of the leaves and cracking of branches got his attention with the hopes of it being a deer, despite knowing the chances were slim. Each moment brought him closer to the magic hour, the time when the deer mostly moved around, making it hard for him to remain calm, despite having more than three decades of hunting experience. Something deep in his being told him to be on the alert as if by instinct, making him even more anxious.
However, that morning, Jack could something was off when he saw the sun crest over the mountains in the distance. It was as if suddenly the area around him became eerie silent to the point he couldn’t even hear birds chirping. The sudden silence sent a chill down Jack’s spine that made him want to get up and leave. That instinctual feeling quickly elevated to when he heard a strange sound break the silence. To him it sounded similar to a rocket engine firing only there was no space rocket anywhere nearby and it was quickly getting louder as if it was coming towards him but he saw nothing.
What the heck is that sound? Jack thought as he looked around him but saw nothing but trees.
Jack looked up at the sky and let out a silent gasp at what he saw quickly falling from the sky. Thanks to the sun just starting to rise it was still dark enough for him to clearly see what was causing all the commotion; a large, fiery ball crashing towards earth. It took everything Jack head to shake his head, literally and metaphorically, and focus on the situation in front of him. At first Jack thought it was a comet or an asteroid till he squinted and quickly realized that was not the case. Through the flames he could make out a very distinct shape that clearly wasn’t a rock. Though it was moving at incredible speeds he could still make out the shape of the object which appeared to be rectangle with large circular objects at the rear. It didn’t take him any time at all to realize it was not a rock or anything natural as lines that smooth did not exist in nature, even in space.
As the object got closer the area around Jack began to shake, even his tree stand, informing him that it was headed in his direction. Though he was certainly it wouldn’t hit him an object of that size would devastate the area and the impact would kill him if it landed anywhere in the field he was hunting. But, at the speed it was moving at he knew it would impact the ground before he had the chance to clear the area. He hated to admit to himself but he knew all he could was just stand there and wait for it to slam into the ground and hope he survived.
Jack shrugged as he looked down at his rifle. At least I get to die with an amazing view.
Jack slowly looked back up towards the object with a smile, expecting to see it right above him about to crush the area into oblivion, but could only stare blankly in shock when instead it was much further back and seemed to be slowing down. He was in such a state of surprise that he couldn’t begin to try to figure out how an object crashing at that speed was somehow slowing down. The object slowed significantly at each passing moment, something that should’ve been impossible for a natural object. He would’ve questioned it if he wasn’t in a state of shock, finding that all he could was stare and hoped it slowed down enough to where it didn’t destroy the area and him along with it.
It wasn’t till the object was nearly on too that it suddenly made a sharp, almost ninety degree turn an incredible speeds as if it was drifting through the air. The action was so sudden, quick, and close that Jack could feel the heat from the object burn his eyebrows and the breeze coming from it pushing him back against his tree stand. The whole area shook as the object changed course but Jack didn’t let out a sigh of relief to, he couldn’t what his attention fully on it to the point he was borderline hypnotized.
As the object successfully turned, though still headed towards the surface at a less step angle, most of the flames surrounding it were extinguished, allowing Jack to clearly see what it was. What he saw left him in shock, causing him to almost drop his rifle. The object was clearly small starship, he could easily see the cockpit and make out the engines at the end, though one of the two engines appeared to be damaged. The main body was long and rectangular with a cockpit resting on top and two large engines behind it. He could make out what appeared to be large canons on the underside but not much else give the speed it was flying, more like crashing, at, beyond that besides the cockpit the starship was almost all black.
“Is that . . . a starship? A Zordon starship?” Jack exclaimed as his jaw dropped. “Whoever’s piloting that is one hell of a pilot to make a sudden turn like that with damaged engines.”