Deaths Hand: Chapter 1
Darkness descended on the city fast. It was almost otherworldly. One by one lights, either gas or electric (for those who had electricity), flickered to life.
Soldiers patrolled the streets, mounted on HUMVEE trucks, or patrolling by foot. Their vehicles belching out black smoke as they passed by side streets. Foot patrol radio’s crackled with life, beeps alerting the radio operators of an incoming transmission. The only audible sound from feet away.
The rifle men had eyes peeled, waiting for movement, their fingers on the triggers of their M-4 carbine rifles, ready to end any trouble that may arise.
They walked toward a vehicular checkpoint operated by an airborne platoon, private John Weaver the first they saw. Beside John stood Specialist jack Avery. They were the security force watching the roadblock set up, which was manned by Sergeant Bill Watson, Private Stewart Burch, and Private Timothy Bell.
John’s M-4, loaded, scanned the buildings and streets. He secured the vehicle inspection point from gunfire, or any other attacks.
The patrol passed, and the soldiers exchanged waves, and a couple small words. Finally the foot soldiers disappeared around a corner continuing their rounds.
Off in the distance gun shots rang out. Automatic fire still in celebration of the coalition forces freeing the city. The tracer of the rounds visible as it streaked into the night sky, and disappeared as the tracer burned out.
John fought the encroaching boredom. During the day, children and adults choked around the checkpoint. Screams of joy, the occasional “Praise Bush” and yells of “Water Mister” came regularly. Without electricity, water, or money, many people were forced to beg for handouts, whatever and from whomever they could.
Headlights turned a corner, and approached the checkpoint. It was a white and orange taxi which came to a halt in front of Sergeant Watson. He had the driver exit the vehicle, and open the trunk and hood. Private Bell had him step away so that the sergeant could inspect the contents of the car, looking for explosives, illegal weapons or contraband.
John’s attention was pulled to his left, toward a dark alley. He was unsure what he just saw. Man? Animal? It was unclear, but it moved again.
“Sergeant Watson, there’s something in the alley over there.” John said.
“What is it Weaver?” The question came from under a seat where sergeant Watson was currently inspecting.
“Dunno, it’s hard to tell, it’s too dark”
“Put on your night vision goggles, idiot!”
He had forgotten he had them attached to his helmet. He rotated them down and turn them on. When he finally got them focused on the alley, whatever was there was gone.
“Aint shit there, guess I was seeing things” John said to no one in particular.
The driver was starting to mumble something in Arabic.
“Shut him up!” the sergeant said.
John continued to scan the alley, as Jack pulled security to the rear. He manned a M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, it uses the same size ammunition as the M-4, but it is a fully automatic machine gun. He had a night vision scope attached to it, and was scanning left and right, covering the street to the squads rear.
The sergeant moved to the engine of the car, and was shining a flashlight in the compartment. He had placed the hood between him and Bell, who was guarding the driver.
Off to the sergeants right stood the guard shack that John and Jack occupied. To the sergeants front stood private Burch.
“Uh Sarge…” Burch said.
The driver continued to mumble something, but it was now almost inaudible.
“Bell, I said shut him up!” The sergeant moved his head and flashlight closer to the engine, “What is it Burch?”
“Bigger Problems Sarge” Bell said.
The sergeant lifted up from the engine, and shined the light toward Bell and the driver, blinding them momentarily. Their focus was on something above the guard shack to the sergeants rear.
The sergeant spun, the flashlight streaking a stream of light through the dust filled night sky, and aimed it at the top of the guard shack.
A pair of red eyes, almost human, yet definitely animalistic turned and glowed brightly when they made contact with the light.
The figure on the shack was human, or formerly human. It seemed to be dressed in all black. It was crouched down, left knee and right hand both resting on the sandbags that made up the roof of the shack. It’s hair was long, partially covering it’s face, resting on it’s back and hanging down to it’s chest.
It smiled, teeth sharp, as if they were filed to an almost razor point, yet they were almost an inch long. Saliva dripped from the longest of the teeth.
It then leaped. It was then the sergeant noticed its fingers. Claws tipped each one. They looked sharp, and they were almost as long as the fingers themselves. It flew through the air and drew its hand back as if it was fanning its wings to slow it’s fall, exposing it’s feet forward as it approached the sergeant. Referring to them as feet was the only thing the Sergeant could describe them as.
They were nothing like human feet, rather they were almost like hands in their own right. They too were tipped with massive claws, which as it approached him through the air, were yellowed with dark encrustations on them, like barnacles on the side of a ship, only much longer.
Contact came. It’s feet dug into the sergeants arms as he threw them up to repel the attack. The claws on it’s feet dug into the arms, breaking the skin, causing blood to flow. Blood, sand and desert uniform filled the wounds as the pain flashed into his head. The claws did not stop penetrating until they hit and chipped bone.
More flashes of pain shot thorough the sergeant as the force of the beast propelled him backward, toward the hard asphalt.
His back made contact first, causing his head to shoot backward. His helmet impacted with such force that his chinstrap ripped, launching the helmet off of his head. It skittered to a stop, after bouncing off a curb fifteen feet to his rear.
All the sergeant saw was black and white splotches in front of his eyes, as his brain impacted the inside of his cranial cavity. He forced himself to keep from blacking out from the hit and pain. Images of his family shot through his head. Young Peter’s first birthday. He could still taste the air, filled with the sweetness of cake, candle smoke and his wife’s perfume. He shook his head and regained consciousness around his second heartbeat.
He saw the beast draw back one of it’s clawed hands, then rake it across his chest. He thanked God that the Kevlar vest was mandatory to wear in his unit. The hand retracted after contacting only Kevlar and fabric, some of which dangled from it’s fingers.
The flashlight, which rested on the street within arms reach, revealed the face of the attacker. Definitely human. It’s mouth, and nose were slightly elongated, he thought, to facilitate its enormous teeth.
It turned it’s head and examined it’s claws. Craning it like a dog contemplating a new noise. It returned it’s gaze to the sergeants chest, and smiled. It’s grip on his arms intensified, shattering his left arm. New jolts of pain and adrenalin shot through the sergeants head. He tightly shut his eyes as it happened.
John turned his night vision goggles up just in time to witness the carnage.
“WHAT THE FUCK?” screamed privates Bell and Burch almost in unison.
Jack was just staring, while John was positioning himself to get better aim at it with his rifle.
“It’s fucking the sarge up, Shoot the bastard!” John yelled.
(To Be Continued…)