Kilbourn Park

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A scout sniper takes on a dangerous mission to capture an invading alien on Milwaukee's East Side.

Submitted: January 31, 2010

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Submitted: January 31, 2010

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The last time I visited Kilbourn Park was 30 years ago. I was nine, and the only thing I clearly remember was the scream and the flash of the fireball that tore through the sky and crashed into Lake Michigan somewhere over the horizon. Then the blast of hot air hit us and knocked us down. Dad grabbed me and we ran west, toward our car. Behind us, I could hear the wall of water surging toward the East Side, and the shouts and screams of panic of the pedestrians that couldn’t escape.
The southern wind whistled through the leaves of the oaks and the maples as I crawled to the top of the hill in Kilbourn Park. Thirty years later, all of the once familiar haunts were gone, along with the humanity that haunted them, replaced by the wreckage of war. Only Hooligans Super Bar remained like a lone buoy floating in a sea of debris. How it survived that day was one of the mysteries of chaos, like how a tornado can imbed a single stalk of straw into a cinder block wall.
I lay there for hours, watched the wind sweep through the trees, looked over the demolished houses and buildings, and periodically checked my flanks. I had placed sensors to my right and left, but they were known to have problems in windy conditions. Occasionally, I watched a chipmunk or a squirrel scamper through the debris, and I longed for a time when all of the fur-bearing animals were the less intelligent species.
I was watching a chipmunk eating an acorn through my binoculars when a blast of wind blew a red maple leaf across the wreckage of the old Jewel/Osco shopping center. The gust settled and so did the leaf, on a large pile of red bricks, near North Avenue. When it blew away, I saw the black eye and sable fur of the Space Rat. Adrenaline rushed up my spine and crashed into the back of my head like a Tsunami on the shore. My skull was ablaze.
I slowly put the binoculars down and pulled the butt of the rifle to my shoulder. I lowered my eye to the scope and watched him for a while. He moved slowly, but with confidence. Humans abandoned this area years ago, in an awkward attempt at peace. Eventually, he must have thought it was safe. He climbed completely away from the wreckage, and I got a full view of him.
I felt the hatred boil inside of me. I swallowed it down, and it left me feeling a bit nauseous. I wondered why they picked me for this mission. My father died in the war and my mother died of the flu epidemic in the refugee camps. These things, these parasites, these rats, invaded my world! I wanted them all dead.
I asked Captain Walker this. He said, “Jason, you’re the best we have; the only sniper for the mission, and possibly the only man.”
“Why?”
He sighed. “Because, you were there on invasion day, you saw what happened.”
I never quite put it all together. I just saw the streak of smoke and flame and the aura of the flash when they crashed into the lake. Why did that qualify me better than others? I pushed these thoughts out of my mind and lowered my eye to the scope again.
There he was, standing by the side of the road, as if he owned it. He definitely was a scout on patrol. I could tell by his light armor and long-barreled needle gun. I studied him. He had the head, face and body of an otter, with sable fur, black eyes but six legs. All six feet were webbed with six digits each; two opposed the other four. He wore a black harness over his body and the needle gun lay over his back. He held his head up high and sniffed the breeze. I silently thanked God for that southern breeze.
His scouting partner appeared shortly after, and walked to the left, across North Avenue. The first one looked right up at me, but my Ghillie suit concealed me well. He moved ahead, stopping at the corner of Humbolt and North and looked to the South, toward the river.
I shot. The second Space Rat fell to the ground like a dropped garden hose. The wind picked up and covered the sound of me reloading my bolt-action rifle. The first Space Rat must have sensed something. It turned to look at his partner, snapped his head back and crouched down while reaching for his needle gun. I shot again, and he fell too.
Every fiber of me screamed, “flee!” but I ran down from my perch toward the lead scout. In a second, I had him slung into my backpack, like an unwanted child. I set up the auto-anesthetic the lab guys gave me before slinging the pack over my shoulders.
By all rights, I should have killed the other scout, with him lying helpless and asleep. I pulled my pistol out of its holster and pointed it at him. That fireball flashed through my mind, and I lowered the weapon. They crashed that day. Was it deliberate? Did we respond with a helping hand or with a crushing force? Reeling with this revelation, I holstered my pistol and shot him with a second round of tranquilizer pellet before running back up and over Kilbourn Park, toward the West to safety.
What will the future hold? It’s difficult to tell, perhaps this sable Space Rat can help us shed light on why they are here and what they intend. As I moved through remnants of 30 years of warfare, I hoped that my children would know peace.
 It was a two day hike back to base camp. I wondered, “What does this big ball of fur eat?”
A small, fuzzy voice appeared in my head. “Fish”, it said. “We eat fish.”


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