Car 23

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Prepare for a journey trapped in a conspiracy, within a Greek myth.

Submitted: August 10, 2018

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Submitted: August 10, 2018

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The pen drops on the floor as my ribs flare like a bonfire on an autumn night. I swear each time the heat rises, frying my nerves with ruthless heat, it feels as if it will last for an eternity. But as the pain fades, the grim thoughts endure. Have to stay focused. I’m chronicling the events that diverted my life on a route I can no longer change. After, I’ll send this report to the authorities. When my family reads this, I hope they can forgive me.

Growing up, my father often lectured my brothers and me about responsibility. Whenever he spoke, he'd tend to quote pioneers. Since his life was the railroad, you can imagine most of his adages involved trains. I can’t remember half of them. Still, I do recollect when he pontificated, “a railroad is like a lie; you have to keep building to it to make it stand.” I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time. I’d come to realize he was quoting the great Mark Twain. In hindsight, I can appreciate his words as I transcribe my thoughts.

It all started with a late call to my father. It had been a year since I’d graduated college and my prospects were barren. Employers didn’t care for my Bachelor's Degree, which came to the surprise of no one, including my father. If I’m being honest with myself, I suspect, I always knew he wouldn’t agree with my career choices. Failing my dad was a bitter pill to swallow. Growing up, I couldn’t help but look up to the man. He had worked as a Train Engineer for 40 years and provided our family with a beautiful home.

Our family wanted for nothing. He bought me a sports car the day after graduation. Which compounded my guilt in not following in the family business. I decided at a young age that I'd try to find my own route in life, in an attempt to follow his example. But here I was, jobless and at my lowest point. After some pleasantries, my father faked coughed and floated an idea. “You want to try rail coordination? You’d be making me proud while putting that degree to good use.” And a week later I was rail coordinator. You gotta love nepitisom. You really don't.

I suspect most people would have found my profession boring. It was 40 hours a week at a desk, staring at a screen, but I always found it fulfilling. I assisted clients through the tracking of supplies. This aided hospitals by making sure they remained stocked with life-saving medications. We also shipped chemicals for experimental facilities.

Though it wasn’t all about being altruistic. The job paid well if you knew how to keep the cars running without delay. I saved the company millions by finding cost-effective routes. It was egotistical, but I thought myself a Rail Maestro.  The Trainmasters where my orchestra, the trains the instruments. Daily I'd construct beautiful music across the county. Though I never actually communicated with Trainmasters, though I held them in the highest regards. If they didn’t do their job, I couldn’t do mine. This relationship was the foundation of rail coordination.


Five minutes until the end of the day and people are clearing the office when a blue alert pops up on my screen. It notified me of a few trains off route in Florida. I fixed them without much effort. But when I began cleaning my desk, a flashing red alert appeared. The system identified a deviation related to a local high priority shipment. This was atypical since I had been monitoring high priority shipments. This car had deviated off course to Adler, Delaware. A repair yard four miles from my office. At the time I brushed it off as a system error. My blood boiled because I knew I was better than this. The client was a big freaking deal; with deep pockets. But they were looking at a shutdown situation. Which meant the plant would shut down by Monday for lack of product. They'd lose millions for being shut down for only a day. This could cost me my job.

Contacting the trimester was my best chance to get the train moving. I dialed the listed number for the yard and someone answered immediately.

 

“Travis, how can I be of service? Anything you need I can provide”

 

He had the gruff voice of a seasoned operator and his relaxed attitude gave me hope that he could resolve this.

 

“Hey Travis, I’ve noticed we’ve got a record destined for Buffalo, but still in Delaware. The Buffalo customer is in a shutdown situation. What can we do to remedy the situation?”

 

Travis remained silent for a few seconds.

 

He responded with a calm “That depends. What are you willing to do for these people?”

 

The question was a peculiar one. Did he mean extra payment? I’d heard rumors of under the table dealings, but I didn’t want to have to do anything questionable. I run a clean ship.

 

“I don’t know man. What’s the issue?” I exclaimed, trying to gauge her meaning.


A sharp screeching feedback forced my head to jerk back from the phone. Fuck, tinnitus would be camping in my head this evening. When I brought the phone back to my head. Travis hadn’t skipped a beat “Well, we ran into some issues with one of the cars. Sorry, my man. We’ve shopped your record until Monday, the train will move Saturday” I cursed my luck. “So, there’s nothing you can do? Silence for a good 10 seconds, but it felt like an eternity

 

He finally answered. “I tell you what, you come down here and check the car and I’ll get the train moving” I pondered this. Though this task had never been mine, I didn’t want to let down the Buffalo plant. But in the back of my mind, there were selfish motives. I thought taking initiative and showing effort could get me a raise “Fuck it”. I’ll see you in 15. Keep the train warm.” I could hear a low chuckle and he said “Terrific.” That chuckle rubbed me the wrong way, I suppose I should have felt insulted. But instead, I felt a little shaken. "What's funny?" Click... Dial tone. I brushed it off. I sent a text to my supervisor letting him know I was working overtime and going to meet Travis at the Adler Yard. I’d call him afterward to confirm the train move. Then I departed like so many trains I’ve guided throughout my short career.

 

My drive consisted of heavy congestion until I hit a secluded dirt road. The road leads to tracks outside an enclosed rail yard. Gray clouds danced with the moon, which illuminated portions of Adler yard. A decent sized yard with a chain fence that connects to the entrance gate. Exiting the driver’s side, I could observe the gate ajar. A low vibration radiated from my pocket. My supervisor had sent a typo-filled message. “I asked Rey if your after-hours trip could get approved for overtime. It’s a no. It’s the customer's fault for poor planning on the shipment and Rey was a real dick about it too. Better head home.” Fuck. Rey was the Vice President of Logistics, with enough pull to make my life difficult. Pride overrode fear and I rationalized that finishing the job was worth the heat I’d get from Rey. I texted back “I’m already here”. Rey could yell at me on Monday. Tell him I care more about the customers than some big wig's insecurities.” I pocketed my phone as I ambled through the gate.


Immediately my eyes averted to the large pilot car leading the train. A bulky flat black metal below the dark windshield, which protruded like a Rhino’s horn. An efficient design created to destroy obstacles that threatened the trains with derailment. Black and yellow paint covered the exterior. Past the pilot car attached rail cars which seemed to stretch on forever. Darkness surrounded the train and seemed as if it devoured the light. If other trains resided in this yard, I couldn’t see them. The thick aroma of motor oil was rich in the air and it brought back memories of repairing the car with my father. They weren’t the best memories. I’d preferred reading comics over trains. Endearing myself to my father was a challenge growing up. But to my indignation, he found creative ways of getting me to help him in any project he was working on. Like naming the tools after Justice League characters. Though I didn’t enjoy thinking about Batman as a screwdriver. Sigh.

 

The yard looked abandoned, save for yellow light gleaming from the office. The yellow light created the illusion of a giant jack-o-lantern, smiling in the dark. Suffocating silence filled the air. Complete stillness, like time, had stopped. I did my best to shake the feeling and in an effort, attempted a bee-line to the office. But as I took a step, a sudden pressure clutched my shoulder.

 

My heart froze and with a quick jerk jumped back, yelling “fuck!” as I turned to my assailant, falling back against the gate. A tall, lanky middle-aged man, wearing a russet duster coat and a cowboy hat stood before me. “Fuck me, Are you Travis? Silence for a few seconds as he appeared to consider me. “Yes, sir, “he said. Was he always so freaking calm? It was like he had ice water running through his veins. “Jesus man, I need a minute. You can’t be sneaking up on people!” He didn’t respond. He nodded and shrugged. I started wondering if all Trainmasters resembled old spaghetti western rejects.

 


With an exasperated tone I asked, where’s the car? Travis turned his head and pointed at the pitch black path leading towards the back end of the rail cars.” It’s the 23rd car down. You’ll notice some tasteful graffiti on the carriage, a small smile appeared on his face. This wasn’t amusing and as I squeezed the bridge of my nose and sighed. Of course, it does. I’d have to report that. “It’s some racist bullshit”. Travis, ignoring my comment, continued, “make sure to stay left of the tracks, you can’t miss it.” His smile collapse into a melancholic frown. “You sure you want to do this? Is it that important? You should go home. Your people would understand.” In hindsight, this should have raised red flags, but at the time I wasn’t having any of it.

 

I’m good, but I appreciate the concern. A disappointed expression appeared on his face and he turned towards the office. “You better get going.” I was a little thrown back by this response. I thought we were both going to do this. He anticipated my question and said “I have to deal with the office. Clean up some things and get the paperwork in order. Check the coupler and if it looks stable I’ll sign off on departure.” Here’s a fun fact about me. Not a big fan of dark. My phobia became multiplied in the creepy ass rail yard. “Do you at least have a flashlight?” I whined. The lanky trimester seemed to consider this as he walked to the office door. Pushing the door ajar, he said, “I got you” and a flashlight appeared from the doorway. Travis tossed it over to me. I pocketed it and when I looked back at Travis and he gave a half salute. An empty ominous feeling would be my final warning. With a vexed mind, I turn and walked towards rail car 23 with a cold breeze at my back.

 

The burning and ripping of flesh is a staccato of sweet agony. I can still hear the screams. I know it’s going to keep revisiting me until the earth burns and I suffer a million deaths. But as quickly as the pain comes it vanishes into the night. Now, where was I?

 

Clouds had engulfed the moonlight which forced me to turn on the flashlight. The air became frigid in the blink of an eye. The puffs of white steam my only companion. Regret for certain life choices began to spread through my mind. That old internship at the airport didn’t seem like the worst idea ever anymore. I had been surveying the railcar styles as they changed from the front office garage to this point. Modern rail cars, carrying freights made way to obsolete wagons with boxed cargo. With each passing railcar, It was like traveling back in time. When I reached car 15, the wagons seemed built from the industrial revolution. This was absurd, and something wasn’t adding up. A faulty coupler was the least of the issues that I could see. A swishing noise broke my inquiring thoughts. It was coming from across the rail tracks. A spray can?

 

Tiptoeing I sandwiched in-between the cars, near the sound. I stepped over the coupler on the 16th car. Before I could peek a large screech exploded my senses and seemed to shake the earth. My hands covered my ears as I knelt in pain. When I was sure my ears would explode silence crept back into existence. “What the hell was that?” I leaned over and saw no one. Whoever had been there bolted during the shriek. Two spray cans lay in the dirt. As I advanced on the cans, my flashlight illuminated the unfinished tag. German words I couldn’t comprehend at the time “Welkom terug,” but my assumption was racism.

 

The scene added up. One sneaker by a spray can and two hats on a bush near the fence. With righteous indignation, I yelled “cowards!” and chucked the sneaker over the fence into the brush. I’d squandered enough my time. I turned back towards car 23 and felt an icy shiver run down my spine. In my peripheral, I swore that I could see a large shadow, darting behind the rail car ahead of me. I took a deep breath and rationalized it. It must be a tarp or a deer. It's fine. “Get your shit together” I hissed underneath my breath as I crept towards car 17. The light from my flashlight illuminated the suspected area, revealing nothing strange. No tarp, a lone tank on a black and blue railcar, filled to the brim with sulfuric acid, a common product I tracked. Cursing my nerves, I refocused myself and picked up my pace towards car 23. My self-imposed chore was coming to an end.

 

As I sit in my cubicle, my stitches scorch my body as though somehow sentient. Somehow capable of comprehending the appending horror. It was like I was reliving the dark journey into the abyss. I pause my thoughts and realize I’m alone. This wasn’t so unusual. I tended to be the last one out. But it felt different this time. Most of my co-workers left at 4:30pm but when they had, not a one looked my way. They knew it was my last day. Not a single acknowledgment. My supervisor didn’t email me. I suppose my actions had come to light. In a sense, I’d become a proverbial leper. That was fine by me.

 

Moonlight cut through the darkness as I approached Car 23. This was not a typical container. A large dark purple blanket covered the front end of the car. I could recall seeing a similar sight at the circus when I was a child. My father had brought me to the show so I could see my favorite animal. The majestic tiger. The tag Travis had noted, decorated the far end corner of the car written in dark illegible red letters. A sudden dose of adrenaline makes my neck hair stand up, I can feel eyes watching me from the darkness. As I fought this irrational fear I peered over at the all-important coupler. Something told me to keep my flashlight off and I can’t explain why. But I didn’t want to bring unsolicited attention to myself. The darkness obscured my view as I moved between the cars. For all intended purposes the coupler linked to car 24 appeared untouched and intact. I jumped out my skin when my pocket vibrated.

 


As I read the message from my supervisor, I lost my breath and my heart fell to my stomach. “WTF? Travis? That’s not the Trainmaster. The Trainmaster is Randall. He left an hour ago! I spoke with Randall and he doesn’t know a Travis! I felt sick. Who the fuck is Travis? I thought. This is insane. A second text arrived: “The police are on the way! Get out of there!” My hands began to shake and froze when I heard a large thud in front of me.

 

My mind tried to imagine a large animal capable of creating this kind of sound. A large bear? Would movement get me thrashed? I held my breath and managed to move my flashlight and turned it on. Something small and black slipped behind the tire. It was quick and I wasn’t sure I’d seen anything. But I must have because there's a dark red puddle in the dirt.

 

I jumped back, tripping over my feet and when I crashed to the ground their world went black for a second. When the world returned I scrambled to my feet, doing my best to keep watch of my surroundings. Something was out there and I needed to get the fuck out of here. But my attention returned to the strange railcar, realizing it didn’t look like any car I’d ever seen. It wasn’t the make or model that baffled me, but the cargo. It wasn't a tank or a freight. This rail car was hauling a large cage and how I didn’t notice this right away, I can't say. Iron bars made up the exterior and hay padded the floor. The cage door was gone. What the hell had they been hauling?

 

A was a metal placard; read “Property of Olimpo Co.” I wasn’t familiar with the customer, which was no surprise we served hundreds of carriers. As I evaluated the cage the red graffiti tag became clear and a cold sensation crawled its way to my spine. That wasn't painted, it looked like blood. It reads “Witness” and the bottom of the final “s” smeared to lead to a man who sat motionless, his back towards me.

 

There's something wrong with him. It took me a few seconds to see it. His back was being propped up by the front tire and he was leaning to his right. I could see dry blood soaked in his dark green sweater. The man was missing most of his neck and his head dangled down like a leaf connected to a thin twig. I gagged but prevented myself from vomiting my guts. I tried to gather my faculties, but my mind remained devoid of reality. I’d never seen a dead body in my life. Not even a funeral. But a shining thought appeared among the chaos of my mind. “Run!” As I turned to leave the body twisted to the ground, and jerked behind the tire. A crimson trail remained in its wake.

 

I broke into a sprint back the way I came. I didn’t want to see what the hell that was and after a minute of running back towards the office I heard a heavy rustling. Something was clanking and banging the richer parallel across the tracks! “I’m fucked! It’s chasing me!” Then a thunderous boom filled the air and a powerful gust of wind knocked me off balance. The rail car rocked forward and fell on its side with such a rumble that it knocked me on my ass. It felt like my heart would explode and then I realized the downed car was blocking my path. In a panic, I started looking everywhere for the unseen pursuer. What I found was a dark figure standing in the shadows by the fence. I turned to run when darkness took me.

 

As my eyes opened a cutting pain spread throughout my neck and back. I'm on the ground and rail car 21 is becoming smaller. I can feel rope constraining my wrists on my back. Somebody was dragging me with great effort. I thought “What the hell is going on?” The breathing of the man stopped as the darkness dissipated, replaced by amber light. A smoldering scent attacked my nostrils and I coughed. My assailant spoke with a deep, gravelly voice. “Oh, I see you’re awake. Well, welcome back. We are so happy you were able to make it to our little shindig. You’re the guest of honor.”

 

The man grabbed my shoulders and turned me over allowing me to survey my surroundings. Ten masked figures stood in two rows leading to railcar 23. Each person brandished a Tiki torch and wore dark red hooded robes. Their faces looked inhuman in the dark. But when they moved you could see the animal masks that concealed the upper halves of their faces. So many questions ran through my mind. “What the fuck was I doing at this sadistic masquerade ball?”

 

I could see two shirtless men with their arms, legs bound with metal chains, connected to the cage. The man to my left looked middle-aged, 35ish, had short black hair and had a broken nose. Dry blood covered his mouth and jaw. The man on my right was bald with piercings on his ears and nose. His eyes were so wide. Like a someone who had chugged ten red bulls. I could see the terror in their faces. The bald man was crying and another guy was speaking to himself. It sounded like a prayer. Did I call them? I want to think that I did. I don't know.

 

Two large men lifted me off the ground and carried me within spitting distance of the two men in chains. They propped me up on my knees. A hooded figure, with a mask resembling a demonic eagle, sauntered over to the crying man. He reached into his cloak and revealed a curved dagger that seemed to have dry blood on the edge. I tried to yell “Please, no! Let him go!” but all I could manage was a weak whisper “no”. The hooded eagle man thrust the blade into the man’s calf. Blood seeped from the wound as the man yelled in pure agony. The eagle cultist spoke some words that I couldn’t understand. It sounded Greek.

 

I had been doing my best to loosen my restraints. Whoever tied me up hadn’t done a great job and I was eyeing an escape route when I heard a monstrous shriek. All the hooded figures drop to their knees and tilt their heads. The torches extinguished instantly, ushering in a dead silence. There's a faint rustling of trees breaks it. The crying man's eyes rolled to the back and his head hung motionless and the other man’s face twisted in horror. I could sense its presence close by. Its breath is strong and hits my bare neck like a hot iron. The stench of rotting meat and makes me light headed.

 

The deathly presence slithered past me, towards the two men. It’s back showed black scales which covered by a black cloak. The figure was at least 15 feet tall, though it lurched. I couldn’t see the neck or head from my perspective. Its arms were long even for its body. As it passed me, I could view the creature had no feet. It had a snakelike lower body, but a torso like a large old man. A hunchback snake is the best way I know how to describe it.

 

The creature slithered with murderous intent to the still conscious prisoner. This movement blocked my view of him. But I could hear the man’ screams. A tear of flesh accompanied by what sounded like a large branch breaking. A blood puddle formed below by the railcar. The screams stopped, but the creature was still tearing and chewing on what remains. This awoke the poor soul who had fainted.

 

He screamed with a pitch I didn’t think a man could reach. He struggled against the unforgiving iron. With a small pop, his shoulder showed a black and blue discoloration. The creature turns its head, revealing a largely extended jaw with sharp jagged teeth. Blood dripped from its maw. The monster jumped against the cage, Its hands gripping the bars and shaking the railcar. I heard a large spine tingling crunch. This brought me back to the real world. With a few tugs, I'm able to squeeze out the restraints.

 

One of the hood figures spotted me. He rose and walked towards me but froze a few feet away. The creature had gone quiet. The man tried to get back to his knees but didn't even get halfway down before a black claw pierced his clavicle. The creature had only needed to move its arm in his direction to nab his prey. He was still alive but looked paralyzed. With a small tug, the creature began dragging the still twitching cultist toward it. I was loose but frozen by the spectacle. The cultist's eyes were still locked onto me. He mouthed the words “Help me.” as he's yanked into the air. A familiar voice shouted, “Run, you idiot!” The creature seemed confused and looked away from its meal. I sprinted like a man on fire, towards the darkness. No one attempted to stop me.

 

As I ran the torchlight faded into darkness. I had trouble navigating as my eyes had not adjusted yet making me almost blind. I knew I had to keep pushing forward and stay on the path. When I reached the impasse I peered at the broken fence. For a split second, I contemplated running into the darkness.


Scattered rummage made it difficult to cross over. The torn metal made climbing a gamble. A misstep and I could break my neck. So I decided to crawl under would be best. As I crouched I could a sick feeling in my stomach. I should have run to the Forrest. But this isn't about what I should have done. I lowered myself to crawl below the train and nudged over inch by inch. As I got closer to the other side a broken pipe came into view. It looked like a good leverage point to pull myself up from. When grabbed it something grabbed me and the pipe pulling me up into the air like a rag-doll. It stared into my eyes.

 

The eye sockets were empty and glowed a faint glow of yellow. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the yellow trying to devour my soul like a lonely siren at sea. I tried to scream, but no sound escaped, stolen by the deep piercing of my flesh. Blood streamed from my abdomen as the machete like claw impaled me. I couldn't breathe and it seemed as though it was happening in slow motion. My skin ripped towards my chest, causing me to find my voice. Though screams seemed to only encourage the beast.


Detergent-like fluids secreted from its mouth. It raised me up to its eyes, causing me to lose all feeling in my legs. The hot air of its rancid breath threatened to suffocate me. Its mouth moved with blinding speed, snapping and skewering the same area the claw had opened. It dug into my upper abdomen and wrapped its jaws onto something inside, and with a wet rip dislodged it. The creature took out its mouth and slurped in a black piece of flesh. The entire time I couldn’t force my attention away from the eerie yellow glow of its eyes. I was sure it would be the last thing I’d see before I left this world.


Through my obscured vision white light becomes visible. As it approached the dark ghoul-like creature screeched. With my last ounce of strength, I jam my hand into its left eye socket. I had expected my hand to meet bone, but I only felt a fleshy substance that resembled pig fat. The monster reared its skull back and a giant hand moved at a rapid pace towards my face.


The monsters aim was off. With the mess, the creature dropped my body like a sack of potatoes. As I fell to the ground I saw a clear liquid shoot out from the railcar tank, showering the beast. White vapor released from its black skin and it let out another scream that chilled me to the bone. The monster turned away and moved from my vision. Oil and blood surrounded me. The clouds had dissipated to reveal hundreds of white eyes. They stared down from a heavenly an abyss. I couldn’t feel most of my body. I suspected that my nerves were dying or I was in shock. My last thought is still crystal clear in my mind today. “So, it can feel pain.” I lay bleeding like a stuck pig, waiting for my journey into the next world to begin. I fade into a red hazed void.


What happened next is still blurry. But when I awoke in the hospital a nurse called a doctor and he explained how I survived. I'd been in surgery for six hours. During hour five, I'd died on the table for a minute and fifteen seconds. They had to remove the remains of my spleen. The doctored tried to assure me I'd endure this. He said he'd seen worse. This horrible event didn't have to define me. I'm sure he thought he was helping. I remained hospitalized for several weeks as I adapted to my new normal. Upon discharge, I Skype with my management representative and gave my two weeks. This was enough time to prepare.

Before returning to work I researched the Olimpo Company with little success. I'd need more than Google. When I returned to work I gained access to the information needed. I tracked each Olimpo Co. rail car and to no surprise, I found those bastards had a fleet of 300 rail cars. The cars traveled on local short railroads. Most destinations being yards in secluded areas. Next, I investigated correlating events with each service repair. This wasn’t easy to find because I had to find data that went back to the creation of electric rail services in the 50’s. Though I suspected these rituals dated back hundreds of years. Call it a hunch. With each repair stop, people would go missing in the local community. Usually three people, and it didn’t seem to matter what age, sex or ethnicity. They remained undiscovered for a week or so after the corresponding repairs. Jesus, it's fucking terrible. Wait. Jesus? Is it possible? Had we gone from crosses to rail cars? I can't go down that rabbit hole.


I’d seen enough. The final step of my plan was the easiest. I cracked my knuckles and entered in over 300 hundred train diversions. Per the protocol; I should have needed supervisor verification. But my supervisor hadn’t cared and had given me the approval code on the first day. A sudden electricity passed through me as the phone rang, demanding my attention. I answered and discerned a familiar voice. The same voice that had saved my life on the night of the rail incident. “You don’t want to do this, son. They will come for you and they will come for the entire family, ” he said with a panic in his voice. But I didn't care. “I’m doing what I do best. Finding the best way to move forward. This feels right. A man once told me that” a railroad is a ravenous destroyer of towns”. He responded with a confused “what?” I typed in the code and I brought down my finger down on the enter key and whispered “No more.”


My eyes focused in on the clock as it struck 5pm on my final day in the rail industry. The office is as silent as a mime at a funeral. Silence means pain is louder and I needed to find something to numb it. In the absence of medication, my favorite drug was the media. So I prop myself up and hobble over to the break room. I switch the small TV on and a Breaking News headline covered most of the screen with loud trumpeting music. You can hear the belabored breathing of the anchor as he struggles to compose himself. He wipes the sweat from his brow and reads off a teleprompter. Another attack is devastating another community tonight. Details are still coming in but our sources can confirm 3 casualties at the scene. This is the 15th attack by an unidentified wild animal this week. Police and animal control are patrolling communities across the country. News stories scroll on the bottom half of the screen. “The 7 pm curfew is still in effect for the following localities." The news feed also notes the National Guard has been able to wound several animals. “Well, will you look at that.”


The phone ringing pierces my thoughts. Despite my better judgment, I answer the phone.” Hello? A cool, calm voice oozes into my ears and chills my spine. “Hello, old friend. Corporate thought it important that you know that we cherish your service. Hence, why I’m here. A groovy cat like yourself merits a magnificent exit and as my papa said every ending is a new beginning. Can you your minuscule mind fathom experiencing infinite beginnings? And yes, that requires a vast amount of effort on our part. But that’s how special you are to us and I’m sure you have questions swirling in your mind. Answers await you. But first, you have to exit the building. Don’t make me wait” His voice had gone from calm and relaxed to a deep animalistic growl. But even more unnerving is that I could hear his voice echoing outside the office. A groan escapes me as I limp to the window and pull up the blinds; I can see a male figure, leaning his back against my car. He’s wearing a stylish black cowboy hat with a dark brown duster. I can’t decipher his face, but I can see the cherry of his cigarette as it illuminates bright red in the night. There’s a smoky yellow glow where his eyes would be.


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