The Ridge

The Ridge

A Story by Michael Raymond Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

The breeze whipped through Carol’s long black hair.  Her eyes watered as the cold wintry air slapped her face.  She turned away from the wind, inhaling the crisp cold, but sweet air.  She shuddered slightly as the gusts raged forcibly through the trees.  Snow lined the trail as she walked through the forest, snow and rain pounding her thick Ranger jacket.  Her head was getting quickly drenched in the swiftly brewing onslaught of weather, which the weather station did not predict.

She also noted that it was abnormally quiet on the hill, just the wind, but it still sounded odd.  Off some how, Carol could not quite grasp where.  As the air ripped through the trees above her and stirred the ground below, she heard no branches giving, no dead leaves rustling.  It just was the howl of the wind, and it alone was enough to make her shiver, the biting cold withstanding.

Another oddity and high on her concern was the lack of wildlife.  Nothing scampered or skittered away as she drudge, or rather pushed, up the path.  Actually, status of the wildlife called Carol Arndt up this path as it were.  It was archery season in western Pennsylvania, and many of archers were in their stands patiently waiting for that big buck to pass nonchalantly by them.  Then from out of hiding, their arrows would fly piercing the hide of these beautiful creatures.

She was not against hunting, she realized that the white-deer population needed control, but it was the slaughter, the mass free-for-all it seemed, that bothered her.  Idiots every year that could shoot headed out for the wilderness to get the “one” that belonged to them.  Archery season, this time of year, always settled easier with her.  Carol understood the talent and control that using the bow required, she herself an amateur target archer.  However, she never used those large multi-pulley compound bows, again, giving the hunter the advantage, slightly, by shear forcible killing power.

Hunting aside, her office at the Fish and Game Commission received many of comments about this ridge.  There was no wild life running alive, and what those discovered was a disgusting display of over indulgence and told to be like a scene from a horror movie.  At first, the Commission just took the report, but soon many more flooded her office, all describing the same bloody scenario along the same ridge, strange creature sightings and unusual early morning lights. The phone has been ringing of the hook since sunrise.  Something was going on, something serious. Carol has been doing this job for damn near fifteen years and she has nearly seen it all.

She has investigated supposed werewolf attacks, big foot sightings, to alien landings and abductions.  All turned up to be either a hoax, misinformation, to normal rational events.  Did something happen up here on this ridge, more than likely so, was it supernatural - probably not. She volunteered herself to check this one out, since the reports were odder than most.  She climbed the wooded hill with her trusty .50-caliber dart air rifle, with scope, capable of putting down a large black bear at 40 yards.   For those just in case areas, she carried her .50-caliber Desert Eagle on her hip.  The handgun made her feel safe, against anything.  Many men would say that the pistol was too big for her, but she only admitted to being an amateur at archery, not firearms.

“Come in Carol,” her radio crackled in a dull echo.

She keying the microphone clipped to her shoulder, “go ‘head Gary.”

“How goes it?” he asked.

“Wet and cold,” she said with a roll of her eyes.  She keyed the mic again, “Must be nice in the warm and dry.”

“Ah, should I feel sorry for you sis?” he poked.

“Of course.”

“Nah, you volunteered for this one?”

“Had too, just too damn weird.”

“Yep, you may find sasquatch on this one,” he laughed.

“Oh, how I freakin’ hate that damn myth.”  She released the switch, drew a breath.  Again, the sweet air invigorated her.  She heard some noises behind her, heavy thuds.  Something about the forest was still not as it should be.  She could not place it.  Was it the sounds or the scent?  Carol looked, saw nothing, so she continued, “Every year we get a bunch of woodsmen wannabes who get f****n’ spooked at every damn shadow.”

“I know sis, I know.”

He truly did too.  Gary and Carol Arndt grew up in these hills together and the day they got out of college, both of them joined the Fish and Game Commission and asked to work together in their old stomping grounds.  The twins, not identical, knew damn near every square foot of this forest in Venango.

“Where ya at?” he asked.

“Half-way up the ridge overlooking where South Sandy Creek and Sandy Creek merge,” she paused, “I” – pausing again, looking around to make sure of her bearings.  The wind flung her hair everywhere as she turned.  Suddenly she felt disoriented; she did not know where she was.  She watched the bare trees swaying above her, bowing down as to slice her, threatening her.  Carol peered into the sky; dark thick clouds swirled in strange patterns, menacing tendrils flung out into the gray sky.

Panicking she started running up the hill, spinning back and forth, as she moved upward.  Something was coming up on her she could sense it.  Carol sensed the world around her; it was overwhelming, only a few minutes ago the forest seemed dead, dull.  Now, she could hear, see, feel as vividly as some one had tuned her senses.  Some one or something was behind her, lower on the hill and coming fast.

Again, turning up the hill toward the ridge she started a dead run.  Before she could react though a branch reached out and grabbed her, it hung onto the coiled radio wire that ran up her coat, she continued forward, but for only a moment.  The branch pulled on the cable, the heavy wire tugged at her, causing the radio itself to dig into her hip.  Then everything went tight, there was no more give, except for her feet on the slippery wet ground.

She hit the forest floor with a thud, the air in her lungs quickly forced out.  For a moment she could not breathe, she inhaled with a sickly scream.  What in the hell was going on, her mind was racing, she could not think.  Now she felt the earth beneath her shake as something large or heavy was rapidly making its way to her.  She rolled over, taking the air rifle off her back.  She took a few deep breaths to slow herself down and allowing her better control.

Carol lay on the ground, propping the rifle up with her left hand, her right barely touching the trigger, her eye looking through the scope as her left kept its attention on the area near her.  She blinked several times as snow, rain, wet dead leaves, and debris splattered onto her face.  Her heart was racing, her body, which should be cold, was sweating.  Her hand that held up the rifle pulsed; she removed it, stretched out the fingers and rewrapped her fingers around the guns wooden grip.

She nearly jumped as she seen it round a tree.  It was hideous.  It held patches of a dark green fur all over its uncovered upper body, where fur was missing, yellowish scale skin revealed itself.  The lower portion held armored pants with boots to the knee.  Its face was grotesque, appearing to be a cross between a lizard and a monkey.  The creature held some sort of blue energy weapon in its right clawed hand.  It hissed at her, a forked tongue protruded from behind yellowish razor sharp teeth.  It lifted the weapon she instinctively fired the dart.

Bark from the tree next her sliced at her unprotected face as a bolt slammed into the tree.  She did not care to waste time inspecting the alien weapon and quickly stood.  The dart hit the creature, but seemed to have no affect.  Carol tossed the rifle aside and removed her pistol.  She held the weapon with both hands, focused on the target that was slowly moving toward her, again lifting its strange weapon.

Before it could unleash another deadly bolt, she squeezed the trigger.  The .50-caliber round was accurate piercing the forehead, the creature’s head exploded from the rear as the bullet scrambled its brains.  Green and gray blood and ooze splattered the trees nearby.  She lowered the pistol, steadying both hands as she waited.  The creature fell to its knees, and then its nearly headless body fell forward, landing with a plop on the wet leave covered ground.

A screaming howl from behind it alerted her of another.  All she saw as a clawed hand flash around a large tree, the weapon in held gleamed in the dim light of the early morning.  A blue flash emerged from the front of it, followed by a loud crack.  Carol started to turn as the blue flash streamed toward her. She was not fast enough as she felt a burn across her right check.

The impact forced her to the ground with another thud.  She felt her face, the shot just clipped her, and Carol assumed she was all right.  She stood quickly, glancing back to see another creature, this more like a cross between a wolf and a lizard, was advancing on her.  She swung her right arm around a fired blindly.  The recoil nearly put her on the ground again as a popping sound emanating from her shoulder, sent pain throughout upper back and neck.

She missed, she knew that, she did not have time to look, and her shoulder could not fire again.  Carol holstered her weapon, dropped her right arm at her side, holding it with her left and ran as fast as she could through the thickening forest.  Her bearings were now complete gone.  She knew she was not truly lost, but at this point, she had no idea where she was.  To be truthful, she did not care where she was, only that she needed to run, and fast, to get away from that creature, or alien.

Carol had now idea neither what she killed nor what was currently following her.  Her first conclusion is alien, but was that rational? Rational?  She did not have time to think rational.  These things were upon her quickly and relentlessly.  Now, her face hurt, her shoulder pounded, her legs were burning as she darted around trees, rocks, and other forest flora and debris.  She dared slowing down to take a glance back.

Crack. . .

            The tree next to her exploded as the creature’s weapon fire had just missed her again.  Carol spun back around and sprinted up the hill, she was on the verge of collapsing.  Her lungs were on fire, her head spinning.  Branches seemed to reach out with the intention of slowing her, slapping her.  Her face was stinging in pain on both checks.  She bounced off several trees, causing intense pain in her shoulder.  She felt nauseated, weak, and hopeless.  The only thing that gave her courage was that she still had five bullets in this clip and two more clips in her belt.  If she could make it to the ridge, there were many of boulders there she could get cover behind.  With cover, she could make her shots count.

            Out of nowhere, another creature, resembling the first came crashing down on her back and shoulders.  A throbbing ache pounded through her right arm as the creature’s weight bore down on the injured shoulder.  She could not support them both and again she fell to the ground.  The thing pounded her back, scream at her in a language she could comprehend.  Carol heard the tell-tale sign of a knife being pulled from it’s home.  She needed to react quickly.

            Using her good left arm, she forcibly twisted to the right.  The alien rode her and moved with her, staying on top.  Her hand instinctively raised and grabbed the forearm that wielded the wicked looking curved blade.  Using it’s own body mass to its advantage, the creature over powered her, driving the blade down.  Carol twisted her shoulders at the right moment and the blade buried itself into the earth.

            She let go of the wrist, gagging from the horrid breath of the fanged beast.  She did not let that slow her; she drove her thumb deep into the creature’s eye socket.  The eye gave way to her thumb, collapsing under the pressure she applied.  The alien screamed, dropping the knife, it brought both hands to his wounded face.

            Removing her thumb from the bleeding socket, she easily got a hold of the knife.  Freeing it from the earth, she brought the blade up and around.  The alien was now trying to stand; she took advantage of the opening and rammed the blade deep into the creature’s chest, hoping that its heart was in the same general location as humans.

            The beast staggered off her and fell backwards, and now was rolling down the hill towards its advancing companion.  She did not have time to waste, though she hoped the dead body sliding toward the armed creature somehow slowed it.  She rolled back to her front, got to her feet and began running again as another crack sounded and soil shot up from near her feet.

            Slipping several times before she made the crest, she emerged from the woods bloody, wet, and covered with matted leaves and mud.  She did not care how she looked; she only cared now how she was going to survive.  She ran to the edge of the ridge, which stood majestically nearly sixty-feet over the forest below.  She needed to get her bearings and do so quickly.  The scene below her buckled her knees and she drop straight down on them.

            Hundreds of bloody carcasses of every type of forest animal found in this region lay at the foot of the ridge below her.  The bodies shredded as if a large wild creature, or alien, had sliced every one of them.  The pile was nearly fifteen feet high and ran nearly a hundred feet along the ridge.  It was a massive burial ground.  She saw deer, bear, beavers, raccoons, bobcats, panthers, elk, dogs, coyotes, foxes, and various others.  Birds of multiple species lay below her too.

            The sight was over whelming; her stomach instantly lifted the morning’s muffin, egg, cheese, and sausage combination onto the ground at the ridge’s edge.  Carol tried for a few deep breathes, but only choked on each.  As she knelt before the carnage, horrified at the massive pile of torn flesh and innards, she realized she had taken far too long to absorb the moment. 

            Her knees wobbled as she stood as quickly as she could, she lifted the pistol with her left hand as she turned.  All she saw was a violet burst, then burning sensation in her upper right chest and white down from her coat filled the snowy air around her.  She felt her shoulder blade splinter, then a painful relief in her back.  She remembered lifting off her feet, then over the edge, falling.  She watched the creature stare at her as she came to a splashing stop, and then sunk into the blood and guts of the animals around her.

            She was stunned, she was sick, but she did not want to pass out, not with that alien beast glaring hungrily down at her.   She rolled painfully over.  The slurping noise she made as she crawled through the mound of gore nearly caused her to go into the dry heaves.  She rolled faster as a bright flash lit from above, followed by a thud and sucking sound next to her.  Eventually she fell off the front side, dragging entrails with her.  Once of the pile of carcasses, she moved back toward it, concealing herself nearly under a torn up black bear.

            Carol lifted the Desert Eagle steadying her left arm on the side of the bear.  There was another flash from above and a thump into the dead bear next to her hand, as she locked onto the creature with the sights of the pistol.  It was an accurate shot into his throat.  The weapon dropped to the top of the pile, followed by the body of the alien.

            She climbed out from under the bear and stood. She staggered back from the pile of animal cadavers and looked around.  Something still was not right, something was odd; the wind picked up and spun at her from different directions.  A whooshing sound filled the air as something covered what little sunlight there was.  She turned and looked up; the alien craft was looming above her, just over the treetops.  It was circular, much like she had seen in the supposed actually pictures.  A row of flashing lights flickered on and off near the bottom of the rotating saucer.  It moved, hovered around her, then over the dead animals.

            Fear was welling up inside her; she slowly walked backwards, trying to use the trees as a cover.  The ship moved toward, a hideous wailing of sound squawked from it as it lunged closer.  She could take no more, she was beaten, and she leaned against a tree in defeat.  One more thing to do, and that was go out with a bang.  Carol then looked up at the alien craft and screamed.

            She pointed the pistol at the craft and open fire.  Once she spent that clip, she quickly released it, loaded a fresh one, and continued the volley.  On the third clip, the craft wobbled and sped of, dropping into the trees of to her left.  “Gotcha,” she yelled.  Four shots left kill them all.

            She ran through the woods toward the crashed vehicle.  She saw it, smoking several yards away.  A hatch opened, something was stirring. Charging it, she lifted the gun and fired the last four rounds into the creature’s chest, adrenaline now pumping through her like a drug; she held the pistol accurate and ignored the painful recoil. The new alien slumped back into the cockpit.  “Yeah Mother F****r, I killed ya,” she said as she ran to the downed craft.

            Once she arrived, she grabbed the door and swung it open, glaring down at the creature.  A dying hand came out of the smoldering helicopter and touched her.  She looked down at Gary; he had four bullet wounds in his chest.  He looked up at her, questions in his eyes, she had no answers for him.  Her brother wheezed has he breathed, his wounds made sucking sounds.  Blood flowed from his mouth.  He held her hand, squeezed it hard as he coughed.  When he finished he gave her a grin then drooped over, the sucking sound stopped as he died.

She dropped the pistol and staggered back.  She was not standing in front of a spacecraft that she had shot down - no it was the Fish and Game’s helicopter.  Tears welled up, she was confused, and this could not be.  She remembered the hideous creatures; they chased her, shot at her.  But, if they were not aliens, then who were they?  Hunters?  Oh God, she thought what had she done, what was going on. . .

            Something pinched her left thigh. Looking down she saw the tranquilizer dart projecting from her leg. She turned and saw men in baggy yellow HAZMAT suits.  “No,” she cried as she dropped to her knees.

“She’s infected,” she heard one of the strangers say as they approached.

 “Oh God, no, this is not happening” she said then dropped face first into the moist ground and slept.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2008 Michael Raymond Robinson


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Michael Raymond Robinson
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Wow, it's been awhile since I read this story. A fascinating piece and I'm curious about what she was infected with. Very nicely written, great job!!!

Heather

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 19, 2008

Author

Michael Raymond Robinson
Michael Raymond Robinson

Robinson, PA



About
I'm returning to the Cafe. I look forward to reading and talking with ya'll within these cyberwalls. I am a lover of fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural thrillers. I was influenced at a yo.. more..

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