Cold Eyes in the Storm: Act II

Cold Eyes in the Storm: Act II

A Story by PWyates
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The story continues where we left off. An unnatural baying through the storm has left all of the men in starkly different mindsets.

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The first to act after the baited pause was Kilgore.  Mechanically shooting to his feet, moving towards the middle of the room where the majority of the seemingly endless supply of bags was situated.  Everyone in the room, including Peaches all stared at him, frozen in terror and confusion.  The Colonel began to assemble a gargantuan assault rifle, “Peaches, grab my belt in front of the chair, and fill it with some flares and grenades.”

The Private still remained silent, just moved fluidly toward the artillery belt hanging in front of the fire.  He carried them over to his superior.  Unzipping one of the assorted bags; Peaches retrieved a handful of flares, and several tiny black orbs, loading them into the belt as he’d been ordered.

Billy finally snapped out of the daze incited by the unnatural shriek in the storm.  “Am I seriously the only one here who’s completely confused, and about to crap their pants?  What are you doing Colonel?  We nearly died out there.  And that was before the blizzard.  Once it kicked in, we didn’t even know which way was up.  It’s complete chaos out there, and whatever that thing was…it cut through the wind like butter.”

Kilgore paused for the first time since assembling his equipment.  He looked over at Billy with a surprising level of warmth.  “Like I told you kid, this is why we make the big bucks.  Whatever that was, whatever goes bump in the night; driving everyone under the sheets in their cozy beds.  That’s where we come in.  Just like you boys; can’t shine if you’re pissin’ your pants in the corner, afraid to make a move.”  He punched the magazine into the gun with the butt of his hand, and cocked his weapon as if to punctuate his statement.

Billy was blown away by the Colonel’s cavalier response toward such mortal and immediate peril.  He looked over at Peaches who looked more than a little hesitant, and hadn’t made a move since handing over the belt full of flares and grenades.  Still holding up his wall of silence, which seemed as if it were about to crumble at any second. 

Kilgore was staring straight at him, expectantly.  “Well, Peaches you gonna get some gear, or want me to get it.   Sorry you didn’t pick up on it yet, but you’re not my type Private.  And I’ll only pack for anyone who ain’t puttin’ out.”  Peaches still stood silently, staring straight back into the eyes of Kilgore.  Not flinching, but also seeming less resolute than he had a moment before.  “We don’t have much time here; I’m geared up and ready to go.  Speak up, Groucho!  You coming or is all that money gonna be mine?” 

Blown away again by such a swift change in the Colonel’s demeanor, Billy cowered more than even Peaches did.  But this was the final nail in the coffin, his long lasted silence was finally broken “I’m not going out there, sir.  Weather’s gotten exponentially worse since we got here five hours ago, and you can’t deny or change that.  You not remember how close we came to not making before the storm?  You forget the whole reason we hunkered down here in the first place?  Sorry sir, we’ve had some wild encounters; but this one is fixed.  There’s no way we can prepare for whatever that is when we won’t even be able to see further than five feet in front of ourselves.  No matter what we do, we can’t win Colonel.”

“You just said a lot, I understood it’s still gibberish to me.  Only bit I can make out is is ‘gee, Kill we got the most dangerous; lucrative job on Earth.  I’m more scared this time though, so how ‘bout you just go out and take care of business while I warm my a*s by the fire.”  His voice rose and was a near scream by the end of his response, and Peaches still seemed relatively un-phased.

“Sir, no amount of yelling is going to get me back out there with you.  All the money and all the ego jabs in the world will not change my mind.”

 Kilgore stared at him for a moment with a peculiar mix of admiration and fury.  “I can see you’re set in your decision.  Have fun staying in getting cozy with the channel six action news team, cooking s’mores or whatever.  Well, here’s what’s about to actually get done.  I’m gonna go out there and make our nut, and you won’t see a thin cent.” 

He stood up and silently, walked towards the door and started tapping it from the bottom.  Working his way up, tapping the whole while until he stopped; his hand was about thirty inches above the floor.  “Welp, snow’s packed up to the knob; so that’s a firm ‘no’ on the door.  Won’t be able to close it again after we open it; don’t want you poor boys to catch a cold.” 

Kilgore smirked and strode back to the fireplace and again took a poker outlining the edges of the same window.  Just like before it worked flawlessly, and he popped the window open like nothing.  And with a little mock salute, he rolled out the window.  Just like that he was gone, vanishing into the endless white haze that surrounded them. 

“Jesus,” croaked Chuck; who had not spoken since the argument had broken out.  He was barely audible over the wind that was penetrating the room.  “And I thought that I was a junkyard dog.  How do you deal with that?”

“I’ve never said ‘no’ to him.  Until now that is, figured it would’ve been worse to be completely honest.”  Peaches spoke more to himself, and the invading storm than Chuck specifically.  “What in the Christ am I gonna do now?  This was my meal ticket, only hope for survival.  But what good is my life when I’m frozen solid like Jack Torrance.”  He was now pacing the room manically, subconsciously rubbing both his hands rigorously against his biceps.  Avoiding the perplexed stares he was getting from Billy (who had just returned from slamming the window shut again) and Chuck as well as the dark, blank ones from the two Sherpas.    

“Too late to change my mind now, couldn’t even find my own pecker in that mess.  Let alone some freakishly dangerous predator on its home turf.  Stupid old blowhard, all we had to do was wait out the storm.  It’s not like the damn thing’s going on vacation to Aruba tomorrow.  You stupid, stupid old man; you’re dead.  Always trying to chew me out over the importance of patience, where’s all that now? Oh, that’s right; it went out the window.  If the storm doesn’t kill you, it’ll keep you from killing whatever that thing.”  His pacing quickened with each word that left his mouth. 

Billy now knew why Peaches had to remain so silent.  The man was a nervous wreck, falling apart at the seams in front of them.  His anxiety seemed to be contagious from the look on Chuck’s face.  Had he, himself not been so distraught, Billy would have jeered at the idea.  More disconcerting was the even placidity of the Sherpas, despite the tempest of emotions which had just exploded in front of them.  Not to mention their odds of survival seemed less and less likely with each second that passed. 

The baying Kilgore had chased after was an elephant in the room; all the men knew that they were clearly not alone in this storm.  Still though through all of this the two Sherpas seemed as stressed as two men at a day spa.  The only noticeable change was in their breathing, each inhale was as audible as a blood hound.

“Do you know how to finish the rabbit stew?”  Billy asked Peaches, who was muttering to himself and almost instantly halted. 

“What?  The stew, the god damned stew?  That’s your main concern right now?  That gross a*s soup you and Kill were making before he went all John Rambo?  Even a professional jerk off like you could finish that junk.  Just give me some space, guy.”

Billy was honestly shocked by the hostility.  Even the Colonel had not even come close to being that sharp with him.  However, he brushed it off, and took the more than obvious hint.  Walked over toward the fire to finish the meal he and Kilgore had started.  Chuck surprisingly followed behind him, Billy guessed because Peaches also intimidated him.  “You interested in some stew now Chuck?”  Billy asked, chuckling.  It was almost made all of this worth living through, just to act stupid in order to watch his boss squirm.

“Hell no, I just want to get as far away from that lunatic as possible.”  Chuck was speaking in a low hushed tone that was almost a whisper.  “And what’s going on with the Shirt Pals?  They’re sniffing now…starting to sound like those truffle hunting pigs.”

Billy snorted with laughter at this, “you mean the Sherpas?  I love how you had no trouble with the concept of truffle hunting pigs though.”

“Whatever, smartass they’re acting weird.  Don’t tell me you don’t agree Bobby.”  He dropped down into the chair by the fire, while Billy took the position the Colonel was in earlier.

“No, no I agree.  This situation we put ourselves in is big though, chief.  Like bigger, than any single weird thing going on.”  He began to boil the snow, which had already mostly melted into slush since sitting by the fire.  “As scary as this assignment sounded when you first told me.  As strange as it was at first being led around by Cheech and Chong’s marble mouthed offspring.  I never could’ve imagined anything like this.  All of this we’ve just stumbled into.  It’s not just absurd it’s almost like manufactured chaos.  Like somebody lit a flame, and is somehow able to control it from a distance.”

“Me neither and I took fire embedded in Desert Storm.  Almost the exact same thing, the action was like a set of dominos tumbling.  I’ll never forget those days.”

“Alright Dan Rather, we’re still stuck in a big room that smells like old horseshit.  You don’t have to keep talking to me like one of those interns you use that so often incorrect silver tongue that got you so far.”

Chuck was taken aback by such a blatant backhanded remark.  So much that he looked as if Billy had just physically backhanded him clean across in the face.  “We might be stuck out here Bobby, but I’m still your boss.  You can’t just talk to me like that…”

“Newsflash, my name is and always has been Billy.  And you are no Kilgore, we aren’t at the studio.  We aren’t home; we’re here making stew.  If you can’t get with that, boss then you can sit in the corner with your mute pigs.”

Peaches was looking over at Billy admiringly, “That’s the spirit Bill.  You tell him.”  He said half-heartedly, then yawned and turned back over on his bunk.

Chuck was beat red with embarrassment.  Quickly he began to finish slicing the rabbit meat that Kilgore had yet to dice.  He did not like being mocked by his superiors, and had never even dreamed of an underling having the gall.  This situation was more than he could cope with.  The assignment was bad enough, but this; stuck in here with dick in hand.  Sitting here like he was everyone’s court jester.  Chuck had no trump card here, and apparently no one to do as he said.  Absolutely zero possibility of being useful.   So what point was there in saying anything at all? 

For the next several minutes the room was silent, other than the huffing and puffing of the Sherpas.  After about fifteen minutes of the silence (which seemed so sweet after the tension that had preceded it) the stew was finally finished.  Probably not as good as it would’ve been had the Colonel continued supervising.  But Billy was proud of it nonetheless.  “Peaches, do you guys have any bowls; and possibly something I can use for a ladle?”

The Private lay silent for several seconds, then sighed deeply and finally sat up.  “All that stuff should be in the bag next to the fireplace.  They might be a little dirty though.  Not much unfrozen water in these parts, so cleaning hasn’t exactly been a cake walk since we got here.  Thanks for cooking up the grub.  Despite how miserable I’ve been acting; it really is appreciated.”

Surprised by the kind words, Billy reached over for the bag and found all the necessary accoutrements inside.  He retrieved four bowls and spoons, using the longest to portion the food from inside the pot.  Tentatively, Billy walked two full bowls over to the Sherpas.  Who accepted with curt sniffs, and nods; which he guessed was their form of thanks.  Returning to the fire, Billy brought the third bowl over to Peaches.  Who again thanked him grimly.  Coming back to the leather chair to dig into his own bowl, “sure you don’t want some stew, Chuck?”

“The stew, the stew, the Christ forsaken stew; is that all you can think about…for real?  The damned stew?  We’re stuck here for god knows how long, and you’re prepping soup like it’s a Super Bowl party.  We don’t need to worry about the stew.  We need to worry about how this scenario ends without out rotting corpses making this place stink even worse!”

“Jesus, Chuck you need to relax.  We can’t make any kind of decision on an empty stomach.  And if you didn’t notice we aren’t all quite bosom pals; which you’re making almost impossible with this ridiculous behavior.”

“RIDICULOUS, I’M RIDICULOUS?!  This whole situation is ridiculous, how do you expect me to act.  Who’s to say I’m acting any less ridiculous than you…or any of the rest of you?”  With this he looked wildly around the room at the rest of the men, who were all calmly staring back at him.

Realizing how utterly outnumbered he was, Chuck regrouped himself; speaking calmly now.  “Look, all I’m saying is that I don’t want to eat that garbage water.  Bad enough having to look at it and smell it; I told you, there has been no meat in my stomach since I was twenty-five.  Unless your plan is to farce me to vomit, so you vultures can eat that too!”  Back off the rails his face was beat red, hair dangling in his wild eyes.

Billy was still blown away at this downright fussy tantrum his boss was throwing.  “Okay, forget about the stew.  I just noticed you were running low on those energy bars, and figured beggars can’t be choosers.  But you’ve clearly just proved me wrong.”  

Chuck had no comeback, too defeated to fight for the last word.  He sulked over to his pack and moodily finished the quarter left of his supplement bar.  More silence overtook the room, other than the slurping of the four men finishing the rest of their broth.  The Sherpas finished first, powerfully breathing and walking almost in synch over toward the fire.  They placed their empty stacked bowls in front of it, next was Peaches.  Pushing himself off the cot, the Private walked over and stacked his bowl on top of the two. 

Finally Billy downed the rest of his soup, and placed his on top of the tower of bowls.  Chuck’s eyes followed all of them as they did this, seemingly losing the little composure he’d regained.  “So, you’re all chocked full of stew I’m all powered up, now we can get to work on our grand scheme…”

Suddenly his building momentum was brought to a screeching halt when another, even louder howl broke through the storm.  Again the room was stark silent.  Peaches, Billy and Chuck looking all around them, the outcome would be any different than the last time.  While the Sherpas, both looking straight up at the ceiling.  Breathing so heavily, it was a miracle their lungs didn’t pop.  Their eyes had taken on a strange tinge of blue.    

They became so loud that the other three men finally focused attention on them, “hey, what’s the deal you guys?”  Billy ventured to ask the two silent men, awkwardly at eyelevel with their arched necks.  They remained stark still until a second baying sounded off, this time slightly lower in tone.  Quick as a flash the Sherpas dove out of the window.  The glass smashing too perfectly it into a thousand pieces like a stunt in a lousy action movie.  Wind violently invaded the cabin like a charging bull, chilling the room to its core.

Before anyone had a chance to say “boo” the Sherpas were back in through the broken window.  The flurries of snow cutting through the previously calm atmosphere slightly blocked when the two men leaned out the window.  They had come back up carrying the shaking, bleeding body of Colonel Kilgore. 

He was placed gently on the floor, a gigantic leaking gash on his left ankle.  And almost just as disconcerting was the blue tinge the whites of his eyes had taken.  They were similar, but far less vivid than the glowing orbs of the Sherpas.  Those orbs were now locked directly at the three confused men in front of them.  Their breathing had seemed to normalize during the brief excursion.  Then finally they spoke in unison, “Gentlemen, the Colonel is in urgent need of medical care.”


© 2017 PWyates



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Added on September 27, 2017
Last Updated on September 27, 2017
Tags: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, SciFi, Mountains, Nature, Scary

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PWyates
PWyates

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