Nights crawl by on the night shift for a rookie patrol officer and his partner. One night however, his shift will go from a boring night of counting the minutes and sudoku, to his life and job description taking a drastic turn.
I hadn't been on the force for hardly a month, that night had begun like many of them had before; sitting in the patrol car with my partner, counting the minutes.
That call would end up being the weirdest of my life and I hope that it doesn't get any weirder than that night. I have to say unless I transfer out, I'm probably wrong about that, and even then I have my sincere doubts.
My partner was a rough and gruff guy by the name of Steven. He wasn't the most personable in the world, though if the shit hit the fan he was definitely one who you wanted on your side. He was my training officer whose main method of training was having me take the lead on anything that happened, and if I happened to fuck up he would fix it.
Though the thing was there wasn't much to do or for me to fuck up. The thing was night patrols in Aberdeen are as you maybe can imagine, nothing happens. So this led to not many instances of just practice on the most basic of SOPs or standard operating procedures.
As typical we parked along the highway outside the town, which was just a branch off town a few miles away from the famous Route 66. Calling it a town was even generous. I believe the census fluctuated so much between labeling it a town or a village that the township got tired of switching it, and just kept it labeled a “town.”
It was one of those places with just a sole stop light that you might drive through and not know you did.
We would sit there waiting for any possible drunk drivers, or speeders. If the cops in town needed any assistance we would be the ones to respond; but more often than not we sat in silence with the occasional radio chatter. Since Steven wasn't much for talking I usually sat on my phone, or did sudoku puzzles while I waited for my shift to get over.
This night was like that, we had just finished eating and I was doomscrolling through all the socials.
When the radio crackled to life it made me jump out of my seat just about. It had been so long since it made any noise that I forgot about it. I couldn't believe that happened but here I was half startled to death over our radio. Though that's how quiet it could get out here. Quiet and boring.
Steven picked up the call, and I heard the dispatch say something about us needing to deal with some kind of animal on the side of the road.
Steven sighed, as if bothered by doing anything 4 hours into our shift was killing him. “What kind of animal?”
This kind of wasn't our job, though if it was a big deer or something blocking the middle of the road we should clear it up so no one got hurt.
Dispatch answered: “We don't know. The caller just said it was large and they were too freaked out to stay around.”
Steven stayed silent, a look I couldn't really read came over his face as he held the receiver in his hand.
“What do they mean freaked out?” I asked.
The two-way radio clicked, “Alright I guess we’ll deal with it,” Steven said ignoring me.
“Roger that car 54, it's around mile marker 32.”
Steven put the car into drive and started towards the highway.
“Wouldn't this be under the jurisdiction of animal control?” I asked.
“Kid, do you want to just swipe on your phone all night or what?” Steven answered, sort of perturbed.
“Okay then. Besides, animal control probably gets more calls than we do around here anyways.”
Steven got onto the highway going West towards Route 66.
After driving into the nothingness for some time we came upon the spot, which was easy enough to find. It was one of the rare areas along Route 66 that had woodland around it, eventually turning from paved road to dirt, evident with the crunching and sediment peppering our cruiser.
As the road led us deeper into the forest I couldn't fight the feeling that we were in a tunnel or being swallowed by a whale.
Steven was more quiet than normal which made me feel even more on edge. I figured though if there was anything important to mention my partner would. We passed dark oak, maple, and dogwoods. The brief flash of our lights cast shadows over the road like skeletal fingers in a last dying grasp. It was just us on this road tonight.
We stopped a few feet in front of the dead animal. Steven cut on the flashing lights but not the siren.
The silent view of the outside forest glowing in the blue and red light gave me a shiver.
Steven put the high beams on it and I stepped outside the vehicle to get a closer look.
It looked long and pale, with some brown hair in patches.
Bloody spots on the road showed where it had got hit first, with one long red smear where it must have got dragged on the road.
Long pale limbs were strewn along the road, it looked like about six of them which confused me at first, but I chalked it up to mean that it didn't come from just one animal.
The problem was, I didn't know what the hell kind of animal I was looking at.
It reminded me of one of those mystery animals that you see online that washed on the shore somewhere. Maybe it was deformed after being run over by a few cars, or semis I reasoned to myself. Regardless I couldn't bring myself to picture how it looked before it turned into roadside mush.
I nudged one of the limbs with my boot, despite how seemingly gaunt it was it had a real mass to it.
Steven startled me when he spoke, “Don't touch that yet. Let's grab the arms first.”
“Arms?” I asked. The only answer I received in return was Steven shoving a pair of gloves into my chest.
I followed his lead, stepping over some sort of entrails, in the dark blood I could see my reflection looking up at me.
Steven stopped over an arm, there was another one within several feet of this one. The only way they were so close to each other was because of how long they were. They were each maybe five feet in length I estimated, I guess they could have got stretched out somehow by the vehicle dragging it. I couldn't stop myself from asking, “What the hell was this ? I don't know of any animals with arms er… limbs this long. ”
Steven grunted as he lowered himself to the arm, he placed his hands firmly along what might have been its forearm, he looked as though he were preparing to do a deadlift. “Just grab the other end, it's heavier than it looks, trust me. Plus we need to do this quickly, so best we lift the bigger pieces together.”
Before I could say anything else he was starting to count down. “3…..2…..1”
He was right, despite how long and skinny the arm was; it was like moving a flimsy four-by-four of wood. We both grunted, carrying it over to the side of the road, tossing it towards the distant brush and dark of the forest. “Just some animal parts kid, don't get squeamish on me, and watch for cars.”
As we walked over to grab the other one I couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed. Steven didn't talk much at all, but I felt like he was treating this whole situation weirdly. He wasn't the type to mess around with someone either. As I bent over to pick up the next arm, I froze above it, above the outstretched hand. What the fuck? The hand was not animalistic looking in the least,it had fingers. It was just maybe the biggest hand I'd ever seen before, the fingers were grotesque in their bony length. I let out an involuntary whimper. “Woah.” I stepped back as naturally this freaked me the hell out, not expecting a dead body.
“Come on kid, we got to get this off the road.”
“What the fuck Steven? This isn't an animal, this is a person!” I yelled, gesturing to the bloody pulp of limbs and guts beneath us.
“We gotta call this in, we got a hit and run on our hands.” In any other moment I might have thought that pun was sort of funny but my heart was racing and despite the cool of the night I was sweating bullets due to the situation.
I turned away from it, I wasn't about to let myself barf all over the crime scene now. I clicked on my walkie. “Dispatch come in.”
I jumped at the sound of another wet thud as Steven threw some clump of body parts into the grass.
“We don't have an animal down here, we got a person. Get a hold of the coroner, and CSI.” I didn't even know for sure if they needed CSI for a hit and run.
“Say again? You have a hit and run?”
“Yes, I repeat we have-”
Stevens' large hand wrapped around mine over my walkie with a quiet slap. I looked up into his hazel eyes. He didn't say anything but he didn't need to.
He then clicked on his walkie. “Dispatch this is Clemons over.”
“What's going on Clemons?”
“Yeah, sorry kid got a little jumpy is all. Definitely not a body from a hit and run over, not a hit and run.” He said the last sentence with emphasis.
I tossed his wrist off my talkie and out of habit went into the “interview stance.” He stepped back from me with his hands up apologetically. “It's time you told me the hell is going on Clemons.”
He sighed before waving his arm over what remained of the corpse. “Take a goddamn look kid. Does this really look like a person to you? I mean really.” His head turned to the side, considering a thought, “Or for that matter any animal you can think of? Anything natural?”
I stared dumbly, my mouth started to open but literally nothing came to mind.
“Nothin?” Stevens eyebrows raised
The silence was deafening, it was as if the woods, bugs, and Earth itself stopped to listen to us.
“That's right, now listen to me as I outrank you, finish cleaning up this thing so we can get out of here.”
I stood watching him toss several more pieces of the creature. Each limb made a wet sound as it landed in the dry grass. His words forced me to stop and think. This wasn't the first time Steven had dealt with something like this. He was cleaning this up so no one else from the road would see it. Hopefully he would explain then.
He winced as he stood with more body parts in his hands, his face turned to me filled with annoyance. It gave the vibe that dealing with this dead thing would be better than disobeying him.
“Wha-what is it then?” I managed to stammer out.
His eyebrows raised, his face twisted from irritation to a sort of calm. “You don't wanna know, trust me. The less you know, and the less questions you ask the better, you understand?” He held a firm stare waiting for me to nod.
My knees popped as I lowered myself to scoop a handful of what was left of some piece of a leg, like the arm it was long, nearly hairless and pale as the moon.
He sighed, “Good come on, let's get this over with before—” He stopped abruptly, his eyes widened with terror.
“Before what?” I watched his eyes scan around us in search of something. “What are you look-”
“Shh!” His hand shot up as if telling a car in traffic to halt. “Quiet.” I obeyed his order and stopped to listen with him.
“Too quiet,” he whispered. We sat listening to nothing, I wished he was joking with me but his face was pale, and dead serious.
It was then I felt it, a rhythmic stomp, coming from behind us. Boom, silence, boom, silence,boom. It grew stronger with each second in between. “What the fuck?” I rasped to myself.
I turned toward the source of where the noise should be coming from. The booms thundered closer and closer.
The treetops began to part, branches moved from the force as if they too were running. It dawned on me that despite the power behind the thunderous movements, it was deathly quiet. I didn't hear the actual noise from the footsteps, I was just feeling the vibrations from them. Where I should have heard trees moaning and creaking, it was nothing but silence. Silence and the thundering drums that was my pulse banging in my ears.
I simply watched as the leaves fell to the ground from the growing darkness.
My heart leapt from my chest when I felt two burly hands grab each shoulder twisting me away from the parting trees. “Don't look at it. Whatever you do, don't look,” Steven said in a hushed whisper.
I opened my mouth to start to ask questions, but when I saw the look on his face I realized it was best to wait and listen.
Steven was at least fifteen years my senior, but he was a barrel chested man who could wrestle down a bear if needed. If whatever this was frightened him, then I knew I should be scared, very scared.
Swallowing hard, dread filling me I nodded. We stood still, staring across the road.
My hands trembled as I waited, I wanted to get as far away as possible from this place, that body, and whatever was lumbering toward us. The first noise I did hear was of a branch or twig cracking, it sounded like a giant bone had snapped in two.
It had to be large, larger than anything I could think of. The way it moved those trees, the height, and the heavy steps. It was close now, so close I could smell it. Swamp gas and death was the only thing that came to mind as my nostrils were filled by some putrid smell.
A puff of hot air blew my trooper hat from my head. My body shuttered, I wondered if I might piss myself and if this is where I would die. I stood, grimacing, and closed my eyes. The thought of turning around and shooting it with my side arm crossed my mind and gave me a brief comfort.
Though if that was something we could do, I figured Steven would have done it already.
It was then I felt something pull my left shoulder, as if trying to get me to look its way. I forced my shoulder forward, a tear rolled down my cheek.
I felt something tug me back now, my entire body, it wasn't a hand though, or a monstrous claw it was like air pulling me toward it. It forced me to take two steps backwards.
I heard Steven inhale a breath of worry. I stood firm, fighting the gravitational pull with all my might, my eyes still closed.
It suddenly stopped, I sensed the attention of whatever was behind me was focused elsewhere. I heard another branch crack making me wince again.
The sound was followed by a disgusting slurping noise, and a series of violent wet crunches. It was then I realized it wasn't trees I heard snapping, whatever was behind us was eating the roadkill creature, and eating it joyfully from the sounds of it. It continued for a few minutes guzzling down every bit, before a final loud gulp.
Silence again, but I could feel it there still. I squinted my eyes open. I gasped as I saw a long, gangly pale arm reach several feet above me, it reached across the front of my face. I stopped myself from running and breathing for that matter when I saw it was picking something up from the road. A blood covered claw emerged, dangling my trooper hat in front of my face like a black fish hook luring me to my fate.
Instead the claw carefully and almost gently put my trooper hat back on top of my head. I began to hyperventilate. It seemed to stand in one place for a moment. Finally the thuds started again and continued until they were too far to feel anymore.
Once they were gone the sounds of the night returned as if they never left. Crickets resumed their chirping. Somewhere in the distance an owl hooted, the leaves swished gently in the light breeze.
The monster had gone, but the horror it imprinted on me stayed long after.
We left the scene quickly, driving away like a bat out of hell as Steven put it. It felt that way too. We spoke no words, Steven every now and then would just give a nod of approval and say, “You did good kid.”
I wasn't sure what I did good exactly but he was right about one thing, all the questions I had, what we just experienced, I wished it never happened. I didn't want to know what just happened.
We were approaching the turn towards town, when we were blinded by the high beams of a vehicle. We both instinctively held hands in front of our faces and swore.
Steven slowed the vehicle down, his hand hovered over the police siren lights, but he stopped himself from switching them on.
“What now?” I groaned.
As we approached the high beams turned to low beams. I now could see that the vehicle was stationary, as if waiting for us. Extra gravel filled Stevens' voice when he spoke up, “Ah christ.”
We came to a stop maybe ten feet from the car. Both of us sat staring at the old Crown Victoria. As my eyes adjusted, I could see two human shapes leaning on the sides of the cars. They were waiting for us. Steven cut off the engine.
“Sorry kid.” He grunted, as he opened the door open with a creak. I stared at him blankly,
“What's going on now?”
“Step outside this night ain't over yet.” He looked at me with a sort of remorse, but I stood and stepped outside the car with him approaching the two strangers.
Both of us walked towards the front bumper, my hand hovering over my side arm. I glanced at Steven to see if he was taking out his side arm or anything, but he was walking casually.
“That's close enough.” A monotone voice ordered. We stopped abruptly.
Steven scratched his head,“Can you shut off the lights, don't want to give away our position anymore than you already have.”
Another voice, maybe even more monotone and robotic, answered. “You don't think we would have taken the proper precautions sealing off this sector?”
“The kid doesn't know what he saw, he didn't see anything, why are you here?”
The second voice answered again, “Hm, is that right? What do you think rookie? Or should I say Trooper Shaun Olen Emmet, what do you think you saw?”
Words were caught in my throat, how did he know my name? I glanced at Steven who nodded back to me.“I don't know. Some dead animal.”
The first man spoke to me now, “That's what you and Steven will tell people, yes. If you even have to. I would strongly advise against talking about this night to anyone If I were you.”
“Of course.” Steven said, assuring them.
The one on the driver side closest to me stepped away from the door, putting on some sort of fedora hat. “You would say what you saw was not natural though, correct Shaun?” He spoke with a cadence as if he was a recording that someone made. I tried to see his face but it was shrouded in light and shadow from the car.
“I… I don't know, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
I noticed Steven's shoulders slump.
The second voice came closer, walking now in front of the lights of their car. “You see we are going to need to know exactly what you dealt with back there in order to clean up Steven’s mess.” My eyes adjusted to him now, he was in a completely black suit, just a white undershirt, complete with a black tie. Not saying anything more he held up a thick manila folder.
Not satisfied with how long I was taking to grab it, I heard the papers inside it rustle as he shook it. I grabbed it to find that it was still firmly in his grip.
“You see we kind of specialize in the unnatural.” His face became visible to me, it was pale, pale like the creatures. His eyes, oh my god his eyes, they were like looking into something undead. His skin was without wrinkles as if Saran wrapped around his skull, giving the appearance that he was some sort of freakish doll.
He held on to the folder tightly, he gave me the impression that even if I pulled with all my might I would never be able to pry it from his grasp. His mouth formed what may have been a smile, “And you will too, welcome to the program. Welcome to Delta Green.”
“Delta Green?” I glanced at Steven who now had a sort of twinkle in his . “Whats that?”
His blank face hardly moved as the words came from his mouth, “You’re about to find out Shaun; And do your part to make sure no one else does.”