Abigail had painted the back wall of the store manager’s office with his blood and brain matter. 3 minutes before, she’d pulled a gun on him at the cash register, forced him to close the shop and directed him to the back to open his safe. She didn’t mean to shoot him. But it had been almost 12 hours since she’d shot up, and her reflexes weren’t at their best.
He had all the money from the store in his palms when she shot him.
His head snapped back and split open. Hands threw the small stacks of loose bills into the air and through his head’s red mist. She scooped up the crumpled bills, sticky with blood and brain and shoved them into her coat pockets. Her eyes stayed fixed on the managers head, now matted against the wall, a giant dripping splash of blood running down. He was now cross-eyed, and looking at the ceiling. His mouth gaped open, blood and spit oozing onto his work vest. She scurried to his body and scavenged the stray bills stained with redness on his vest and pants.
Abigail had just made it to her feet when she first heard the noise. Startled, she swung the gun around toward the entrance. There was nothing but blackness outside the office door. Her arm shook violently but she managed to keep the gun steady.
She listened intently, trying to hear the noise again. There was none. Everything was silent. With the gun still raised, she slowly started to shuffle toward the darkened entrance. She knew five steps into the darkness and she’d be once again back into the store itself.
She heard the sound again.
This time it was more pronounced. It sounded like someone moving a box. It came from her left. She adjusted her aim, scanning the aisles as he walked forward.
“Come out!” she yelled. “Motherfucker, come out now!” There was a slight delay and then there was that sound again. This time it was louder. It was like something hit the wall. She heard herself yelp this time; the gun almost fumbling out of her grip.
Abby realized it came from outside. She quickly holstered the gun and made sure there weren’t any stray $20 bills hanging out of her long coat. Her clothes were stained with blood spatters, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She used her hands to wipe off whatever she could. When she reached the entrance, she turned to the front counter and looked at the register. The tray was open and there were a few bills hanging over the edge. She quickly scurried over, hopped up partially onto the counter and grabbed the remaining bills. When she climbed back down from the counter, she paused for a moment, expecting that sound to come again.
There was none.
Abigail exited the store and tried not to look unusual. It was just past midnight, so there wasn’t anyone out in that secluded area of South San Francisco. She turned up her collar and headed for the darkened road that she’d normally walk for a couple miles to get home. On the way she’d stop for a big bottle of Jim Bean, which would get her through the night until she can call her dealer and score some more horse.
As she crossed the street, she heard that noise once again. This time it was even louder. She nearly jumped out of her skin; a few bills fell from her pocket. She was going to leave them and make a hasty retreat, but the thought of the police and the crime scene and how CSI can pull fingerprints out of everything made her second guess her course of action. She turned and quickly scurried back and started to gather up the bills the wind was pushing along the ground.
Abby finally scooped up the last bill when the sound came once again. This time if felt more like a physical push. It felt like it hit her in the chest. She was in a kneeling position, but when the hard ‘thump’ came again, it felt like a blow to her chest. She fell on her ass, her coat flying open and even more bills blowing away in the wind.
‘Fuckity fuck fuck!’ Abigail thought to herself.
She frantically clawed for what money she could grab before it flew away into the darkness; anticipating hearing police sirens at any moment. Flashing red and blue lights would circle the area and she’d be arrested for first degree murder.
Any second now.
But so far, there was only the brisk breeze passing her ears. So she kept clawing at the loose bills. Each second she grabbed at just one more bill.
The seconds passed and she had nearly collected all the green notes that hadn’t blown away into the night. One last 20 dollar bill had been caught on a blade of grass a few yards away.
A strong gust of wind blew past her. It caught the bill in it’s gail and it started to wiggle loose and skim along the grass. Abigail crawled on all-fours and managed to leap, arms stretched. Her right fingertips caught the edge of the bill before it could blow away.
And then the thumping blow hit her again.
This time it was like an explosion hit near her right side. She was off her feet, once again her coat flying open and bills lofting off into the wind.
“No!” she cried out. Her head hit the asphalt. Dirt and rocks scraped along her cheek. She could feel the gravel grinding into her skin. Her lips brushed the dirty ground. She coughed and it kicked up a mini dirt storm.
Abby rolled onto her back, grasping her chest. That last blow made her heart skip a beat. She tried to will herself to get up.
“Fuck the money.”
All she need to do was push herself up and and make a dash down the road. She was quick. Whatever it was, it was slow and lumbering. She had outran the cops on numerous occasions, so outrunning.. whatever it is shouldn’t be a problem.
‘Move, Abby!!’ she screamed inside her head. ‘FUCKING MOVE!’
She rolled onto her stomach and managed to get to her feet. All she cared out was the highway ten yards away from her. If she could make to the highway, she’d be safe.. or at least on her way to being safe. Abby took off running. Her coat flinging open in the wind, she had no regard for what money notes were left in her pockets. All she cared out was a few paces in front of her.
And as her final step started to the edge of the asphalt highway, she felt the air around her being sucked away, as if someone had turned off the wind. When the next blow hit, it felt like the voice of God. This time she screamed with the invisible wall of power struck her from behind. She was tossed from the ground like a trampoline. The asphalt highway ahead of her literally contracted and then expanded, leaving any dust and dirt that was on it’s surface appearing to be frozen in midair.
She spun end-over-end 6 feet off the ground and slammed face-first onto the asphalt highway. She knew she lost teeth when she landed. The salty taste of blood filled her mouth like vomit. Her body tumbled a half dozen times along the ground until she rolled into the dirt on the opposite side of the road.
Abby sobbed uncontrollably; coughing up blood onto the now-muddy dirt. Her arms and legs burned with red hotness from the asphalt scrapes as she sit up.
That’s when she heard the footsteps coming. But they were too heavy to be normal footsteps. They were loud, and course and abrasive.. like rock rubbing against rock.
She had to move. Abby willed herself to start crawling along the ground. She still had one goal. She had to get up and retreat down the highway. It was her only chance. On all-fours, she started to crawl along the side of the road, trying to keep her stride a little faster than the approaching invisible steps. She tried not to think of her approaching hunter. She focused on the darkness that the road disappeared into.
And then she heard something far off in the distance.
The rumble of a motor coming up the road behind her. Rolled on her ass to see behind herself. Dimly in the distance, she could see the glare of two headlights slowly brightening over the horizon. Her mouth stretched open to reveal empty, bloody gums and blood drizzling down her chin. If she had teeth, you’d see a huge smile behind her gaping lips.
Abby gathered herself. She steadied her shaky legs under her. With everything she had, she pushed herself up and into a standing position. Stumbling into the middle of the road she started to wave her arms in the air and yell at the approaching vehicle.
And then she caught it out of the corner of her eye.
Abigail realized she had almost gotten away. Almost.
Officer Everett James knew he shouldn’t be on the road. After pulling a double shift at the precinct, he pulled another 5 hour stint as a bouncer at a friends club for extra money. He was planning on taking Emma on a trip to the Napa Valley. The French Laundry, a highly-rated restaurant in Napa was a dream place for her to eat. Unfortunately, it took him several months to get a reservation and two paychecks saved to support the weekend.
He could feel his self nodding off. He currently had Public Enemy’s ‘It’s Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’ blasting in the speakers. He was hoping the sound of Flavor Flav’s screeching voice would be enough to keep him awake.
He was wrong.
After his third time drifting into the wrong lane, he realized he wasn’t going to make it home. He still had a 45 minute drive to get to his tiny apartment in Pacific Heights. There had to be a motel along the way. He figured he stop and crash in a room for a few hours, and then take off with enough time to weave through traffic and make it to the precinct by roll-call.
He pressed and held the home button on his iPhone.
It beeped twice.
“Find me a motel.”
It beeped again. and the ‘processing’ icon rotated for a few seconds.
Then it responded.
‘I’M SORRY. BUT I CAN’T PERFORM YOUR REQUEST RIGHT NOW. PLEASE TRY AGAIN IN A FEW MINUTES.’
Everett looked more closely at the phone screen. He saw he only had one bar of reception.
“Fucking AT&T..” he mumbled under his breath.
He reached down the press the home button again, when something in the middle of the road caught his peripheral vision. His muscles tightened as he looked up into the view of his headlights.
It was a person.
A woman with blood all over her clothes standing the middle of the road. She waved her arms violently in the air. Everett could hear her screams faintly through his rolled up windows.
“Shit fuck!!!” he cried out. He gripped the steering wheel and pumped the breaks, just hard enough for the wheels not to lock up.
On instinct, he swerved left, just missing her in the middle of the road. The right side of his patrol car passed closeeee enough to see that the blood on her clothes was pouring from her gaping mouth. Her screams whisked passed him like Dolby® Surround Sound.
The patrol car drove onto the side of the road. He missed the girl but he was heading directly into the steep hill which lead down toward the forest’s edge.
His defensive driving training took over. With a fluid motion, he pulled the steering wheel to the right, trying to change direction back on the road, while not pulling the car into a skid. His shoulder slammed hard into the door. His head bounced off of the door window, which disoriented him for a moment. If he didn’t have on his seatbelt, things would’ve been a lot worse.
Even though the slow steering was bringing him very close to the edge, he couldn’t bring the car around any faster, for fear of flipping it during the turn. The patrol car just missed the edge of the drop. He skidded back onto the road and brought the car into an almost complete 180 degree fish-tale.
Everett rocked back into his seat. Dust and smoke crept up around the car from where the 4 Wheel-Drive tires scraped dirt on the side and the pavement.
His heart was pounding. Everett was definitely awake now.
The Officer wanted to take a moment to catch his breath, but then he heard the woman in the road’s screams again.
“HELP MEEEEEE!” She screamed out from beyond the dust and smoke.
As he leaned in toward the passenger seat and unlocked the glove compartment, he felt the lines of blood dripping from the left side of his head. He must’ve cut himself when he head-butted the door window. He would have to worry about that later. He reached into the glove compartment and grabbed his standard police issued Glock .22 handgun.
“PLEASE HELP MEEEEE!” she cried out again.
As he sat back up, he realized he could now see through the thinning dust and smoke. Through the dissipating haze, he saw the woman once again. He could tell she was dragging herself along the road toward him. Blood and spit were dripping from her mouth. There was a trail of redness 4 yards behind her.
Everett climbed out of the car and made sure he still had his faculties. He holstered his gun but kept his hand on the grip handle like he’d been taught.
“Stay there, Ma’am!” he said approaching the injured woman, yet keeping his eyes open. He reached for his radio handset, which normally was in a cradle above the right side of his chest. His nervous hand found nothing. The receiver was dangling by a cord against his thigh. He grabbed it and pressed the transmit button.
“HQ, this is Officer Everett, I have a 10-52 on Highway 84, off of La Handa Creed Road. I need an ambulance. I have an injured White female in need of medical assistance.”
“Additional units and medical assistance en route.” came back over his Walkie.
The Officer holstered the handset and focused back on the woman.
He was about ten yards away from her by now.
By this time, the smoke and dust was pretty much gone, and Everett had a clear view of the woman. She was no longer screaming for help. She was sitting on her butt, facing away from him. She was scooting towards him, staring out in front of them.
And that’s when he saw It. He didn’t actually see it at first. It was too dark. There was no detail for his eyes to cling to. The only thing he could see as the silhouette of the large hulking figure backlit by the lights coming from the gas station.
His eyes had to be deceiving him. Maybe he indeed had a concussion from the blow to the head. But judging by the distance between himself and the store, the shadowy figure had to be at least 8 feet tall. It was wide— VERY wide; dimensions of The Incredible Hulk wide.
It had something in it’s humungous right hand. It had a firm grip, yet the weapon was so big that it must’ve been dragging along the ground.
“Oh God!” the woman’s trembling words snapped him back to reality.
Everett pulled his gun.
The figure stood silent.
“My name is Officer Everett James with the San Francisco Police Department. I’m ordering you to drop your weapon and put your hands behind your head!”
The figure didn’t move. Everett couldn’t see It’s face. But judging by the position of it’s head, he could see that it was staring at the injured woman. She, on the other hand was splitting her focus between the officer and the monster. Her head swung back and forth– she was trapped between two warriors.
“I SAID DROP THE WEAPON!” he said again, this time with more authority.
Still, there was no response from the shadow giant.
Everett knew he was in trouble. He didn’t understand the situation, or who/what the figure in the darkness was. But he knew that he was outmatched in strength and firepower.
He had choices. He could hear the faint sounds of sirens on the wind, which meant help was on the way. He could try and keep the situation at a standoff until reinforcements arrived. But instincts told him that his adversary wouldn’t wait that long. He could just start shooting and hope that a headshot will put it down. He could fabricate a story that the assailant was attacking. But he didn’t think he could live with instigating a firefight. He had one other play, and it was his best chance. He had to get the injured woman to the patrol car and retreat from the area.
He took deep breaths to try and control his fear. He was an officer of the law. He was trained for these situations. He was the authority, and he’d save this citizen by any means– even if he had to put the assailant down.
He firmed his grip on his Glock and started to slowly approach the woman, while keeping his eyes and his aim firmly glued to the shadowy giant.
As he grew closer to the woman, the shadow figure stirred!
Everett boasted. “Do not move! If you make any sudden movement, I will shoot! I’m not bullshittin’! I’ll empty my clip into..”
Before he could finish his order, the creature sent back a reply.
It spoke one word– one force of nature that enveloped Everett and forced the air from his lungs..
“JUDGEMENT!” The Thing unleashed into the wind, and it made Everett’s knees buckle.
His gun-sites fell as he tried to regain his composure. That’s when Abigail started to scream hysterically again. Officer James was overwhelmed, but the screaming got him refocused. He raised his gun just in time to see that the giant shadowy creature was on the move. He started to slowly walk toward the woman. His weapon, which Everett now saw was some sort of giant hammer, was dragging behind him. Incredibly large sparks flown into the air and lit up the scene as the metal hit the pavement. The orangish flames revealed more of this figure.
It was not a man, that he knew now. It was a Thing.
It’s skin was a grayish white– almost the color and texture of limestone. It was naked. It didn’t have any genitalia. It was a giant, textured, wide figure, as if it was carved out of stone. Brief flashes from the weapons friction sparks revealed that it had giant oil-black orbs for eyes. They were shiny, and glassy, like giant opals. It had no nose, and it’s mouth was a wide slit that seemed to cross its entire face. It’s footsteps sounded like rock on metal– each seemed to make an imprint and buckle the pavement.
Everett cocked his gun and set his sights on head and chest.
Abigail was frozen with fear. She now saw what Everett saw, and she wasn’t handling it as well.
“Stop!” Everett commanded.
The thing didn’t listen. Effortlessly it swung it’s hammer over it’s head, focusing on the woman.
That’s when Everett started to shoot.
The cracks of gunshots bellowed. Abigail covered her ears and rolled into the fetal position. His aim was spot-on, but he couldn’t tell if he was hitting the creature. It didn’t phase him. There were no jolts from impacts– No bullet wounds– the creature just kept focusing on Abigail.
Everett counted his shots. As soon as he emptied all 15 rounds into the giant stranger, he hit the clip release and reached for his spare. But he didn’t have time to reload.
The giant hammer came thundering down onto the ground. The blow buckled the pavement– it literally embedded itself into the hard asphalt nearly a foot deep. Everett watched the ground around it break up and the shockwave of rock and dirt balloon outward like ripples from a tsunami. He witnessed only a fraction of a second before the shockwave hit him. There was three ripples of earth expanding, growing exponentially.
He watched it hit Abigail first.
She was tossed as if someone yanked her into the air on a wire. At that moment, her screams were silenced. His first instinct was to chase her and retrieve her where she landed. But that was just an instance of thought. He didn’t have time to do anything.
When he was rocked by the shockwave, it wasn’t the oncoming rockwaves that hit him. There was an invisible barrier that seem to precede the wave that struck him. He hadn’t felt anything so powerful since he was hit by a semi truck as a kid, leaving him with a concussion, two cracked ribs and a right leg broken in three places.
The wind with instantly gone from his lungs. Everett didn’t realize he was off of his feet until the patrol car came into his sights. He was in the air, upside down, maybe four feet off the ground. He watched as the rock-wave reached his patrol car. He expected the vehicle to be lifted of the ground instantly. Instead, the ground end buckled upward and folded the car in half. Then it toppled down the road like a crushed soda can.
Everett hit the dirt ground and bounce back up and over the embankment alongside the road. He rolled down the steep hill and into the shallow group of forest trees. He met the nearest tree with his right side. When he hit the tree, it felt like the rest of his body wrapped around its wide trunk. For a few instances, he knew he had to be paralyzed. His lips tasted dirt. He gasped for breath, but kept taking in dirt into his lungs. He cough violently.
And then he heard the woman’s insane screaming again in the echoing distance. His eyes opened wide and he had rolled over on all fours.
Before he realized it, he was crawling up the steep embankment.
“Get to the girl. Get to the girl. Get to the girl…” he kept repeating to his self.
He dug his bloody fingers into the soft, wet dirt and willed himself to climb. His boots dug in deep. He was a good 5 yards away from the top. Quickly scurrying up the side of the hill, he realized how insane the situation was. Once he reached the top of the hill.. what then? He’s had to find his gun, and then find his extra clip, reload and then once again assault that creature. He’d have to find a way to disable it. Maybe shoot at his right arm, disabling his weapon. Maybe that’ll give him enough time get the woman to safety. His ride was totaled, so they wouldn’t be escaping by patrol car. He did notice the extremely tall grass on the other side of the road. Maybe that could hide in there.
Everett nearly reached the top. His thighs, ankles and forearms were burning with fatigue. He could feel the cold breeze rushing from over the edge of the embankment. Two more push-n-pulls and he’d be back on top.
As his left hand cupped the edge of the hilltop, he took a deep breath for one final motion to push himself over the edge.
“JUDGEMENT!” called out from over the edge.
Everett knew he was too late.
The woman whaled one last cried of horror. This time it was more primal– as if her lungs exploded and her vocal chords ripped apart.
The final scream ended with the second blow from the creature’s hammer.
“Shit.” Everett mumbled as he heard the shockwave approaching.
The last thing he remembered was the dirt and rock from the hillside attacking him. Jagged pieces of gravel struck his face like bullets. He was tossed into the air and arced back down toward the forest. His head struck the ground and he once again rolled back into the same tree, but he was unconscious before he made it to the bottom.
His next memory was that of light dancing through his eyelids. There were voices swirling around him, but he was too disoriented to understand what was going on. He moved his head and a sharp pain sprang down his neck and back.
His eyes bursted open.
Everett awoke to a paramedic and a police officer standing over him.
“Hey there.” the female Paramedic said. “Welcome back. Do you know who you are?”
Everett coughed. “Marky Mark, king of the Funky Bunch.”
The paramedic laugh. “I think not. You don’t have the abs.”
He slowly sat up with the help of the paramedics and propped up against the tree.
“Everett James, San Fran Police officer, March 12th, and Barack Obama.” he smiled. “Did I pass?”
The Paramedic turned to the cop. “Is he normally a dick?”
The cop smiled and nodded. “Yeah. That’s EJ in his natural state.”
“Oh.. then yes, you passed.”
After a few more medical checks, Everett made his way up a makeshift ladder back up to the road.
A fire truck, ambulance and three patrol cars were on the scene, but they were parked a good ways down the street. They couldn’t really get any closer due to the condition of the road. The ground in a twenty yard radius looked like a rock quarry. As if someone had taken a giant jackhammer and mixed the rock and soil into a giant mesh. His crushed cruiser was partially visible in the tall grass across the street. The red and blue lights were still flickering through mangled metal and glass.
Apparently he’d been out for close to twenty minutes. Detective Miles Landry was the first person to find Everett while he was canvasing the area. He had finished ‘yellow taping’ the area when he saw the officer unconscious at the bottom of the hill. He initially though Everett was still in the destroyed patrol car.
Detective Landry was a few yards away standing over a hole, surrounded by yellow tape. Everett made his way slowly toward him. When he reached the whole, he immediately knew this was where the injured woman ended up. Inside the whole, was a mangled vision of meat and bone, wrapped around the woman tattered closes. That Thing had crushed her with it’s hammer. The edges of the whole were splashed deeply with redness.
Everett had to turn away. He still didn’t know what he just witnessed. He took in the carnage of the entire area.
“What the f*ck..”