Chapter Twenty

Upstate New York

Mike and Jake

Morning came with a hard frost, the fields around Jake Fingerling’s farm reflecting the sun’s light like an ocean of white glass. Mike and Jake had spent the night comfortably buried among the grain in the silo. The grain produced its own heat and if the silo had not been properly vented it could produce enough to self-combust; but in this case the heat produced had kept them alive.

They had supped on preserved apple sauce and peaches the night before, and Jake had found two unbroken eggs this morning. Afraid to cause an explosion by starting a fire in the silo, they had eaten these raw.

“Where are all the animals? …The cows, the chickens?” Mike asked, realizing for the first time that he had not seen a single animal since the event began.

“I don’t know. They were all gone when came outta the silo. I caint even find my dog Rufus. I called him for hours, but he ain’t never come yet. He’s dead, I know, ‘cause he ain’t never not come before. Dead or gone.” Jake replied, dusting himself as he got up and began to put his jacket on.

“What do you suppose happened to them, Jake?”

“They either dead and buried or disappeared from this earth by them things. I cain’t tell for sure. I ain’t even seen a bird fly by. I thought I was in my own hell by myself ‘till you showed up. Now I’m in hell with you.” Jake replied.

The old farmer climbed the shaky ladder up to the loft, beckoning me to join him. I got up and followed him.

“We ain’t gonna survive if we stay here. Certainly not through the winter. We gotta go south. I got a couple of ATVs that’ll travel over the tough terrain, and enough gas stored in an underground tank to get us half-way across the country if we can carry some in containers.” Jake’s eyes were glassy as he spoke. He was only thinking about survival, not giving up, and Mike’s spirits lifted a little with the old man’s will to live.

“Can we get to Washington? If anyone survived there we may be able to get help. I was talking to a group down there that was trying to deal with this issue. We need to reach them if they are alive and tell them that you saw these things before the quakes started.” Mike said, animated.

Jake nodded, but kept quiet, and as they went about finding and getting the ATVs ready, filling gas containers from the underground tank near the silo, and gathering food and supplies for their journey, Mike noticed that Jake was somber, his mind seemingly elsewhere.


They had gathered everything they needed and the ATVs were overflowing with goods, gas, and the ropes that held them all in place. As they took their places on the rides Mike broke the silence.

“What’s wrong Jake? You haven’t said a word in hours.”

Jake glanced sideways at Mike, his hands resting on the handlebars. He stiffened as he turned to face Mike.

“Group? What kinda group?”  Jake asked, stiffening a little more .

“A government group - The President, the military, scientists - They were all working on this with me before all hell broke loose.” Mike responded.

“I ain’t talking to no government people ‘bout nothing. They the ones that are behind this, don’t you know? That’s why they didn’t listen when I tried to tell the police… They were told to not listen. They killed my family too. Just as certain as I stand here… and you one of them?”

 Jake reached behind him and pulled his rifle. He settled it on the crook of his arm, eyes never leaving Mike.

“Jake, Listen… This… All this… Was not done by the government. They have nothing to do with the creatures or the dark space ships. They… We were trying to come up with a solution, but they came too fast. There was nothing we could do, no one we could warn. Why would the government want everyone dead? Come on, use your head,” Mike’s voice broke as he spoke, the gun unnerving him, Jake’s sudden turn taking him by surprise.

Jake did not reply right away. His face was lined with age and dirty, his eyes dim and half lidded.

“We best be going then.” He said finally, and turned the ATV on.

With the turning of the key, a large explosion sounded. Mike could feel heat at his back as he was flung forward into his Handle-bars. Mike was knocked off his vehicle but had immediately rolled back up, pointing his rifle in the direction of the detonation.

Smoke and fire rose from where the silo had stood, and little fireflies of lit grain rained down all around them.

One of the small dark space ships whipped the column of smoke into a mini-tornado as it flew through it and above their heads. Mike shot at the shadow as he rushed towards his ATV.

“Go! Git yer ass in gear!” He yelled, as he reached his vehicle and started it.

Mike needed no further prodding. He turned the accelerator and shot off, immediately bouncing over the wounded terrain. He turned the wheels and tried to drive with the seams on the field, like a surfer riding a wave.  Jake was right behind him. He could not see where the ship had gone and concentrated on not over-turning his ATV. He quickly realized there was nowhere to hide, no tree-lined forests, no buildings, and no mountains within reach.  

Jake pulled up next to him, somehow catching up to his vehicle going full speed.

“Go back!” He yelled.

“Go back where?” Mike yelled back over the rumble of the engines.

“Back to the Silo!” Jake responded, pointing toward the smoking debris.

“Are you crazy?” He yelled back, somewhere in his brain realizing that he asked this man the same question once before, “No way!”

“Get back to the smoke! Now! We don’t have much time.” Jake insisted.

Mike assumed Jake had a plan, though what it could be escaped him, but he had no better ideas. As the space ship appeared once again ahead of them he turned right, trying to time his jumps over the crested mounds of earth. Each time he landed the vehicle bounced and bucked, and Mike fought to maintain control.

As he approached the burning silo, Mike peeked over his shoulder. Jake was no longer there, but the shadow-ship was nearly over his head, the wind picking up as it got nearer. He drove his ATV right under the shadow created by the smoke and came to a sudden stop. He looked up and saw the ship begin to descend as it drew near. He realized Jake had tricked him into driving the sole ship his way, allowing the old man to get away.  

Mike jumped off the ATV and started to run away from the ship, which had landed a dozen yards behind him. Mike’s mouth went dry as the wind began in earnest to drag his body down. Panic coursed through his veins as he realized he was once again in their power. He knew this time no one was there to save him.

This time, however, he would not go without a fight.

This time he had a plan.

Mike turned and began to run with the wind in the direction of the ship.

Just as a dark door opened on the dark ship.

Chapter 21

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