The Ranch (Part 7)
Updated: Sep 24
Don had allowed Colm to invest time into the prehistoric plants. They had collected three live specimens, but no toxin was identified that could cause hallucinations yet. While Colm focused on the biochemistry of the plants, Don directed other sections of the team to look for intense electromagnetic fields, or very low or ultra-high frequencies. Don also coupled a small section to look for fault lines on the property, looking specifically for a situation of mild tectonic or seismic stress which were known to cause light anomalies.
The results of all these other tests were a resounding no. Yet, despite this, the following week for the COSMOS team was uneventful. Don was thrilled to have the plants as a discovery, but he was beginning to doubt the Green family’s claims. He had secretly been wondering if the local law enforcement was right regarding the cattle.
Don had taken to attending a night observation. Sherman Green had retired for the night and was off the property with his family. Don wanted to take charge for a single night to see the normal occurrences. On the Southwest corner, Don sat on a small field stool as two of his technicians monitored a large green device with a monocular eye facing out. It was like a comically large camera, known as an LRAS by the US Military, it was a Long-Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System. State-of-the art for recon work in the military, it offered night vision, thermal imaging, and the ability to tag terrain in a GPS system. Radios squawked as guards completed their routes around the permitter fence. A small radio FM radio nearby was running through newscasts as the men sat in the dark.
“Reports indicate another pandemic may be emerging from China, warns the WHO. But both Chinese and American officials indicate there is no basis for these claims. However, the CCP has begun sealing their borders and restricting reporters. There are also reports of…” The voice reeled on the international stage as one of the men turned the radio down.
“Patrol 2, you have a heat signature just ahead of you.” The LRAS operator signaled via radio to the guard.
Don stood from his stool. “Trespassers?”
“No, it’s a pretty large signature. Let me switch to night vision.” The operator flipped a switch. “Nothing, I can’t see it with the vegetation in the way.”
“Is it Patrol 1?” Don asked spurring the operator to shift the device further to the west.
“No, I can see Patrol 1.” The operator brought the device back to the where he saw the heat signature.
“Where is this source?” Patrol 2 came across the radio.
“To your right, about a hundred feet.” The operator instructed.
Don waited patiently, hoping their guard had finally stumbled upon a perpetrator.
“It’s moving—it’s fast.” The operator called out. “Oh, my god!”
“What is it?!” Don demanded.
“Patrol 1 get to Patrol 2!” The operator called into the radio.
Distantly, two rapid gunshots rang out. Don felt his palms go slick. Another shot rang out. “What is going on?”
“Patrol 2 is being attacked.” The operator stated, staring through the device.
“Move!” Don pushed aside the operator and pressed his eyes to the device. A blurry green image of foliage disoriented Don. Everything was flat, the image had to be contextualized, and a moving low image near the top of the screen assisted Don with the situation. He could see a man, on his back. A pistol raised. Something moved rapidly away, out towards the north. The other patrol was moving rapidly on foot.
“Get a truck out there!” Don demanded.
In the observation trailer, the guard was laid on a table. His left forearm was being cleaned where something had torn into him. Their veterinarian, Travis Doshi, worked to bandage the injury.
“I count 36 teeth marks.” Travis stated. “They look almost human like.”
“It damn sure wasn’t a man who attacked me.” The guard stated.
“I believe it, these teeth marks are too large, and people generally have 32 teeth.” Travis returned.
“What did you see?” Don asked with his arms crossed as the rest of the team in the observation trailer gathered to listen. The guard adjusted himself more comfortably. He had several other bruises and lacerations from the attack, making his position uncomfortable.
“I heard the movement. I called out to it, thinking it was someone hiding in the brush. Then it charged me. I had just gotten my light to it. I thought it was a bull at first, somehow having escaped the pen. It was on all four. Then it reared up, like a gorilla, and just tossed me. I scrambled to get my handgun up as I rose. The thing sank its teeth into me. It was a large, hairy beast. I fired two shots into it and it let me go. It ran off again on all four, using its front hands on its knuckles, like a gorilla would. I fired another shot at it, but I can’t tell if I hit it.”
“How large would you say it was?” Travis asked.
“When it reared up, it stood a whole head and shoulders above me.”
“So probably around seven feet.” Travis said, nodding.
“That LRAS, does it record?” Don asked back to the operator who had gathered with the team.
“No, it’s an observational unit only.”
“I want to erect towers on each corner of the ranch. We’ll get dogs and deploy them as a type of biosensor. I want recording devices at each tower as well.”
The towers were simple, and were fully erected at each corner by the end of the next day. The day was closing in and darkness was setting in again. Sherman had come to stay after he learned of the attack the previous night. Inside of the observation trailer, they watched monitors that gave displays of different areas from each of the corners. Don explained to Sherman about the towers and the nighttime cameras that they housed. They had not been able to get the dogs yet, which was fine given they had yet to arrange proper pens to house the animals in.
“Do you have anyone else outside?” Sherman asked.
“The patrols, and one additional observation unit, just like the one I was at yesterday.” Don could see the play of Sherman’s countenance which said he felt that was ill advised. “What’s wrong?”
“I just don’t know if I would put more people in the way of danger.” Sherman stated. Don had to hang his head down to clear his own mask of worry and come back with a logical and hardened face.
“I understand. But this risk is necessary for science.”
“This is Patrol 3, I see a light at the center of the field by the cattle.” A radio squawked.
“This is Patrol 2, I see it as well.”
“This is Patrol 1, confirm visual contact.”
“This is Patrol 4, confirm visual contact as well.”
The men within the observation unit stared at the screens, but their own monitors showed no such activity. Don picked up the radio and called out to the observation unit.
“Observation, do you have visual of the phenomenon?”
“Standby.” The voice responded. The men all collectively gulped. “I confirm three yellow spheres gyrating in place.” There was a long pause. “The three spheres have combined into a single blue sphere now.” The voice came back.
“Does anyone else see through the sphere?” Came an unknown caller.
“Last calling station, identify yourself.” Don commanded over the radio.
“This is Patrol 1, I can see into the sphere.”
Before Don could respond, the observation unit responded. “Command, I can see into the sphere as well… It’s not a sphere, it’s a tunnel. There’s something moving in it.”
The radio went silent. Then the trailer bumped. The lights flickered. The bump came back, again and again. The rhythmic thumping caused the entire trailer to bounce. Their power shut off. The men inside the trailer tried various switches, panels, the radio, none of it responded.
“Outside!” Don commanded. The men inside the trailer scrambled to the only exit. Sherman began to sweat profusely. The hot night air was lit with a dark hue. The cattle left on the farm mooed in hysterics. Above the center of the corral, an infinite tunnel swayed in the air.
In disbelief, the men watched as a black, featureless figure began to crawl through on its elbows through the tunnel. A massively long arm stretched down. A six fingered hand, the size of a small car, planted itself into the soil. The long fingers stretched out with multiple knuckles, the tips ending in long serrated points. The mouthless and eyeless face let out a groan that shook the depths of their human souls. The sinister alchemy happening the sky left the souls below in feeble attempts to comprehend the visage. The shocking blue hue of the sky began to resonate, and as the void of madness began to grip the men, the featureless face began to pull back. The strange abomination began to be dragged back, by some even greater, ungodly source.
The light faded, and the creature was gone. The men stood in the darkness. Only light now was from the moon and far galaxies. The unnamable thing lurking only their minds and the evil of the stars. And then, the shooting started.