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Death in the Desert

Short story By: Lumberjak
Mystery and crime

...Brandon, who was breathing heavily to the point of hyperventilating and exhausted from running in his bulky space suit, noticed a cave in another rock formation and decided to hide in it until help arrived. The astronaut made his way into the small but dark cave; he clumsily made his way to the back of the cave as his space boots stumbled over the rocks on the cave floor. There was no other entrance or exit to the cave which made Brandon feel safe and he began to calm down.

Brandon hid at the back of the cave and he looked towards the mouth of the cave. He decided to remove his space helmet so he could breath easier and he began to relax. But little to Brandon’s knowledge, Anthony was rapidly approaching the cave tracking his boot prints in the sand. Just as Brandon’s hear rate and breathing rate had calmed down, Brandon observed the muscular killer enter the cave...

Submitted:Jul 31, 2013    Reads: 148    Comments: 12    Likes: 5   

In November of 1977 NASA signed off on the decision to launch another mission to the moon and mission training began. In December of that same year, four astronauts (Mike Norston, Tommy Kandler, Jennifer Reno and Brandon Jones) were doing some training, alone, in a remote simulation area in the northern Arizona desert designated as training area "SM5." The intent of the training was to simulate the lunar surface and the astronauts were suited and booted in their white Apollo A7L space suits, minus the oxygen packs. The team of astronauts were instructed to practice maneuvering around the rugged terrain in their bulky lunar spacesuits in order to get accustomed to working in them.

This lunar mission was different from the other lunar missions in that four astronauts would walk on the moon, not just the usual two. NASA concluded that more could be done with four crew members on the lunar surface. Additionally, the team of astronauts were young and relatively inexperienced compared to other NASA astronauts but they were to be the new face of NASA.

A silver NASA van drove the astronauts to SM5; a separate truck delivered a moon buggy. What the ill-informed astronauts weren't told was that NASA didn't really own SM5; it hadn't even been officially made known to the owner of the land that the astronauts were going to be training there. It was just assumed that the land was open land and that nobody would care that they were there, using it for training. After-all, who would care that the government was on their land?

The NASA van left the training area, along with the truck that dropped off the moon buggy and the four astronauts were left there by themselves- there was nobody with them to secure the area while they trained and they had no means of communication. As NASA had it figured, the area was safe for training and the van was to be back at the location in three hours. Additionally, the desert heat was not an issue in December and the astronauts had no concerns.

A muscular man in the distance lowered his binoculars, smiled and said "that's interesting" to his brother who was standing next to him. They were both wearing black t-shirts, desert camo pants and black boots. The two brothers, Roger and Anthony Zalk, both had extensive military training and martial arts experience and were the owners of the land- they didn't much care for the government, let alone having government employees on their property. Through their binoculars, they continued to observe the astronauts who stood out vibrantly in their white suits against the red-tan terrain.

Roger and Anthony were sovereign citizens and had owned the property for nine years. They knew every hill, rock, cave and cliff on their one hundred and ten acre plot and they intended to use that knowledge, combined with their training, to hunt the unsuspecting astronauts. Roger and Anthony were from Africa where they competed in body building and marital arts competitions; when they were teenagers they moved to the United States and they both went into the Army together when they turned 18. The brothers completed special operations and survival training- the crew of astronauts which they now stalked through the desert didn't have a chance. The brother's patrolled their land often and they hated the US government for betraying them after returning back from combat; they planned to relentlessly assault the helpless astronauts who were trespassing on their property.

Tommy and Mike climbed into the lunar rover and drove to the north while Jennifer and Brandon walked towards an interesting rock formation on the southern edge of the training area. Jennifer and Brandon, despite struggling in her bulky white spacesuits on the uneven terrain, began exploring the rock formation which was rich in crevices and small caves. As a geologist Jennifer could see how the rugged seemingly lifeless terrain would be similar to the terrain on the moon. It was hard for the astronauts to see everything around them due to the restricted field of view of the helmets and they had to be careful not to tear their fragile suits on the jagged rocks.

Unknown to Jennifer and Brandon at that time, Anthony and Roger had been stalking them through the rugged terrain. Anthony told Roger to go follow the other two astronauts and that he was going to hide in the rock formation for the opportune time. Roger then snuck off, almost snake like the way he slithered down the rocks, and headed towards the other astronauts.

Mike and Tommy were enjoying their ride on the lunar rover, but not for long. Tommy, who was driving, got the buggy stuck on a boulder. Tommy continued to throttle the vehicle, forwards and backwards, in an attempt to free the vehicle but the vehicle's tires dug into the sand and were just spinning. They didn't realize the danger they were in.

This was the perfect opportunity for Roger, who was poised nearby behind a small cluster of rocks watching the helpless astronauts.

Tommy told Mike he was going to remove his helmet while they figured out a solution but Mike advised him to keep his helmet on because they had to continue the training as if they were really on the moon. Tommy was a skilled pilot and it was a surprise to him that he got the lunar vehicle stuck so easily; he was a little frustrated and worried about the situation. Tommy and Mike were experiencing the same restricted field of view from their helmets as the other astronauts were and Roger took advantage of this.

Roger slithered under the lunar rover and hid. Mike got out of the rover to look for a solution as Roger was watching and listening from underneath the vehicle. Roger saw Mike's white space boots approaching the tire that was hung on the rock and he crawled towards that tire. Roger couldn't believe how easy this was going to be and he could already hear the panic in the voices of the unsuspecting astronauts as they talked to each other about their situation. After-all, they were stuck in the desert- in the middle of nowhere, with no radio communications for help. Roger could only imagine the terror in their voices when he grabbed one of them!

As Mike was looking at the tire, Roger was looking at Mike's spacesuit. He could see that it was made out of a white fabric and he was amazed at how "puffy" the suit was. Roger wondered what good that would be when you are trying to run on the moon, as he could tell they were struggling in the suits already. But then again, Roger was a combat vet and not an astronaut.

Back at the south corner of the training area, Jennifer and Brandon were rounding the corner of the rock formation into a shady area where the sun was blocked by the formation. The weight of the spacesuits was beginning to get to them and they were breathing laboriously as they stepped over and around the rocks. Jennifer began to approach a crevice that Anthony was hiding in. Anthony knew that the crevice lead to a small cave and he planned to drag Jennifer into the cave through the crevice. You could barely see his dark, muscular body in the shadows, combined with his camouflaged attire, but Anthony had a perfect view of Jennifer and Brandon.

Jennifer looked into the crevice and suddenly saw two chiseled arms launch towards here like a snake snatching a rat. Anthony grabbed Jennifer's soft suit, which provided an outstanding grip, lifted Jennifer off of the ground and began pulling her into the crevice. Jennifer screamed and her space boots were kicking wildly but nobody other than Brandon and Anthony were able to hear her. Brandon desperately tried to grab onto Jennifer's suit but his space gloves provided an inadequate grip and Anthony was much too powerful. "NOOO!" Brandon screamed as Jennifer slipped out of his hands, quickly disappearing into the dark crevice. Brandon could only hear Jennifer's screams for help and Anthony's evil laughter resonating from the crevice.

Jennifer was new to being an astronaut and the lunar mission was to be her fist mission into space. She was an attractive female, was very intelligent and was considered an asset to the team because of her master's degree in geology. Jennifer was to be the new face of NASA and had been looking forward to the mission but it was now obviously questionable to her if there was going to be a mission.

Anthony had a perfect grip on Jennifer's space suit and it was no problem pulling her into the crevice. Jennifer was desperately trying to grab a hold of the rock but her space gloves kept slipping and Anthony was much too powerful. Anthony knew how to use her strength from all of his training. Unlike Jennifer, he was battle hardened from many years of fighting and he was chiseled just like the rugged rock formations. Anthony continued pulling his helpless victim deeper and deeper into the rock until they reached the cave.

Tired of Jennifer's screaming, Anthony delivered a powerful kick to Jennifer's stomach which sent Jennifer sailing back into the cave. She landed, on her back, with the wind knocked out of her. Anthony approached her laughing and knelt down over her. He ripped the American flag patch off of Jennifer's suit; Anthony spit on the flag, which still had some white fabric attached to it, and tossed it into the cave. He had all the time in the world to empty his hatred of the government onto the astronaut.

Brandon was still standing outside of the crevice in shock and in horror; he had just witnessed one of his crew members get dragged into a rock formation by an evil muscular villain who he had only caught a glimpse of as he attempted to save Jennifer's life. The astronaut panicked and ran for his life as fast as he possibly could in his bulky space suit- there was nothing more that he could do for Jennifer other than run for help he rationalized.

Roger was still under the moon buggy waiting for the perfect moment, which he was about to receive. He was poised on his stomach breathing calmly as Mike was breathing heavy from trying to free the wheel while wearing a spacesuit. Tommy was still seated in the driver's seat, turning the steering controls to the left and right. He was strapped into the driver's seat by a harness, similar to a five-point racing harness.

The steering controls that Tommy was turning were connected to the front wheels electrically and motors assisted in turning the large vehicle tires. Roger noticed some cables above his head; he grabbed them and ripped them down. The tires stopped turning and Tommy was unable to turn the wheel; the panic in Tommy's voice increased, which brought a smile to Roger's delighted face.

Still unaware that Roger was under the buggy, Mike stepped a little closer to him. Roger grabbed onto Mike's legs; he had a firm grip on the spacesuit and he rapidly pulled Mike towards him, ripping the astronaut's feet out from under him. Mike screamed as he fell backwards onto his back. He slammed to the ground so hard that it knocked the wind out of him.

Roger quickly and violently pulled Mike underneath the buggy; Mike squirmed and screamed "help!" but it was no use. Tommy watched helplessly as Mike disappeared under the rover. The buggy actually had plenty of ground clearance and Roger, who was a large muscular mountain of a man, was able to crawl on top of Mike. Roger peered through the glass of Mike's helmet and looked into Mike's eyes. These were two very different men.

Mike was a younger man and was not anywhere near as tough as Roger. Mike was a career astronaut and had lived his whole life just to walk on the moon. Roger could see the fear in Mike's eyes. He could also hear Tommy screaming for Mike, not having any idea of what was going on. Roger knew something was wrong, well great for him but incredibly terrible for the astronauts, because Tommy was still in the seat.

The harness that secured Tommy in the seat was doing a great job, too great of a job in fact because Tommy could not get it unlatched. Perhaps Tommy was in too much of a panic or maybe it was jammed. Either way, Roger didn't care because it just bought him even more time with Mike as the horrified astronaut continued to struggle with the harness.

Roger delivered some powerful blows to Mike which, despite the thickness of suit, were still very painful and effective. Mike began slipping in and out of consciousness; there was nothing that he could do for Roger was well trained and easily overpowered him.

Jennifer was fearfully looking up at Anthony, who was still laughing and having fun. Jennifer screamed "somebody help me!" But nobody could hear her, not even Brandon who was still running away from the cave. Jennifer was trying to get up but it was impossible with her bulky suit and Anthony's relentless kicks. Anthony, getting bored, sat on top of Jennifer's chest and began pulling on her helmet, violently. In an effort to keep her helmet on, Jennifer put her hands on top of it but it was of no use. Anthony was much too strong and smart. Anthony twisted the helmet and it came off, revealing Jennifer's blonde hair and fearful face. Anthony threw the helmet across the cave and Jennifer could hear the visor glass shatter against the cave wall.

Anthony then combat-rolled onto his back and wrapped his powerful-muscular legs around Jennifer's neck. He began to squeeze and Jennifer desperately grabbed Anthony's legs but he was too committed. Jennifer continued to squirm and kick her feet but Anthony only squeezed tighter. After a few moments, Jennifer was no longer breathing and Anthony, satisfied with the results, loosed his grip.

Anthony emerged from the crevice and began looking around for Brandon. Looking down at the desert ground Anthony observed Brandon's space boot prints in the sand; "Coward" Anthony yelled. If there was one thing that Anthony hated it was a coward and he quickly began tracking the astronauts boot prints in the sand. He decided that when he found the astronaut that he was going to torture him for running away like a coward.

Brandon, who was breathing heavily to the point of hyperventilating and exhausted from running in his bulky space suit, noticed a cave in another rock formation and decided to hide in it until help arrived. The astronaut made his way into the small but dark cave; he clumsily made his way to the back of the cave as his space boots stumbled over the rocks on the cave floor. There was no other entrance or exit to the cave which made Brandon feel safe and he began to calm down.

Brandon hid at the back of the cave and he looked towards the mouth of the cave. He decided to remove his space helmet so he could breath easier and he began to relax. But little to Brandon's knowledge, Anthony was rapidly approaching the cave tracking his boot prints in the sand. Just as Brandon's hear rate and breathing rate had calmed down, Brandon observed the beastly killer enter the cave. This time Brandon could clearly see Anthony- he was a large mountain of a man that almost took up the whole entrance to the cave as he walked in. His jaw was clenched and his fists were balled.

Watching in horror as his nightmare became true, Brandon's heart began pounding. The poor astronaut still believed that he could not be seen at the back of the cave in the dark. However, Anthony's keen eyes quickly adjusted to the dark and Brandon's white space suit quickly stood out to him against the dirty cave walls. Anthony announced his discovery with boisterous laughter which echoed off of the cave walls and into the terrified astronaut's ears. Anthony quickly approached Brandon who was screaming for help and Brandon's knees weakened as Anthony stood before him. Brandon knew that there was no escape and Anthony reached for Brandon's space suit. The white fabric wrinkled around Anthony's dark muscular hand as he effortlessly lifted the poor astronaut off of the ground.

As Anthony picked Brandon up off of the ground and his screams could be heard from outside of the cave. The militant tortured the helpless astronaut with his martial arts prowess for a good length of time and Brandon's screams eventually became silent.

Tommy was still struggling with the buckle on the harness. He could not believe that it was stuck; he began to cry and look around in horror. Tommy could hear Roger laughing below him which made him panic even more. It was an evil laugh that seemed to resonate inside of his helmet.

Roger decided that he had enough fun with Mike, who was barley squirming now from all of the blows and torture he received from Roger. Mike wasn't even screaming anymore which deeply dissatisfied Roger. Roger pulled a large black knife from a sheath on his belt and stabbed it though Mike's spacesuit with ease. Roger had fashioned the knife himself, taking great pride in his work. The knife was razor sharp and it was a symbol of survival to Roger. It penetrated the left side of Mike's chest, killing him. After Mike's body became lifeless, Roger paused for a second to inspect Mike's spacesuit. He then heard Tommy screaming for help which snapped Roger out of his almost peaceful pause.

Roger crawled off of Mike and emerged from under the vehicle. He looked up at Tommy and laughed. "Stuck?" Roger asked. Roger slowly climbed up onto the buggy, as if to torture Tommy with anticipation. "Awe, you're shaking in your space boots" Roger said laughing; Tommy continued to scream and struggle with the harness buckle.

Inspecting the harness, Roger began plotting how to kill the helpless trapped astronaut. He could see that there was slack in the straps that could still be tightened down quite a bit. Roger then climbed onto Tommy's lap and looked Tommy in the eyes. Roger then looked down at the straps and wrapped his hands around them. Roger stood up quickly, using Tommy's body to push off of, and tightened the straps with all of his strength.

The gray straps rapidly dug into Tommy's white suit and Tommy's screams became silent. Roger heard Tommy gasping for air as he continued to tighten. At about that time, Anthony arrived and said "creative" to Roger. They both watched as Tommy gasped for air one last time and then his body went limp.

Anthony asked with his African accent "where's the other one." Roger pointed to below the buggy and she looked. Anthony saw the astronaut lying on his back, dead, and smiled. "Where's your's?" asked Roger. "In the caves" said Anthony.

The desert was now quiet and the brothers were satisfied with their hunt. They stealthily made their way back to their hidden bunker. Roger and Anthony were survivalists and they knew how to quickly move through the desert without leaving any tracks- they were never seen again…


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