I'm a cop in Nevada for a tiny town of less than a thousand.
Courtney Nevada doesn't have an actual police force, the mayor is usually whoever is the soberest at election time, and it's made up of retirees and people trying not to be noticed. It lies between Austin and Eureka, and the whole town is managed by a single officer, me. I live in Eureka, but three months out of the year I stay in the dingy little Palmer Inn and operate the emergency phone system. It's routed to my cell phone and when I'm not out on a call I can be found in my room watching TV, the Palmer actually gets really satellite TV.
You probably think this sounds like the post from hell, but the crime rate in Courtney is next to nothing. I've been doing this on and off for about three years, and I think I've only had to reach for my gun twice in that time. We do three months on and then swap with another officer for three months, but sometimes I'll just offer to do six months in a row. Courtney is as peaceful as a town full of oldsters and whatever else can be.
After tonight, however, I'm not sure I can look at the place the same again.
I'm trying to write up the paperwork now, but I'm just not sure what to say.
There's no way they'll believe the truth, but I swear it happened.
I'm getting ahead of myself, and I'm hoping that if I write it out here then it might be easier to explain to my supervisors.
I was sitting out on the town line with my radar gun at about ten thirty at night when the quiet town suddenly got less quiet.
So, the only thing to really do in Courtney to justify my being there is to catch speeders on Highway 50. The speed zone changes from sixty-five to about thirty-five in the course of a mile, and the number of drivers that seem to think they can just blow through the little town doing sixty is too damn high. I had a rig of my own invention that held my speed gun up to the window and a good hiding place behind an old billboard, leaving me basically unseen and my hands free to watch whatever on my phone. I had forgone the adventures of Luffy and the crew in favor of a new horror podcast, and I was just getting comfy when something hit the ground hard enough to rock my cruiser on its frame. My phone fell into the floorboard about a second before the speed gun came down to hit me in the head, and I came out of the car rubbing my scalp and cursing like a sailor.
I got out and looked across the street, seeing heat shimmers as something cooled in the desert nearby.
The oldsters who lived here had told me that meteors were sometimes seen falling out in the desert, but this one had damn near taken my cover out. I had never seen a meteor up close, not unless you counted the ones at the museum my school had drug the class to when I was a kid, and I was interested in getting a good look. It was kind of cool to see something that had been cruising through space up until a few minutes ago, and I made my way across the road and toward the crater.
I was still in the road when, to my surprise, I heard the sound of metal grating against itself. I could see the top of something dark as it rose above the lip of the crater, and the top was still glowing from its entry through the atmosphere. The hole wasn’t terribly deep, but this would have still been taller than me by a foot.
It would have been a shame if one of those aforementioned speeders had come blowing through while not paying attention because I would have been roadkill.
I was about sixty feet from it, but it looked like one of those old NASA space suits, except made of silver. When it moved, it was the herky-jerky kind of steps that a sci-fi robot might make in an old 50's movie. It slipped in the sand a little but managed to find its footing as it made its slow way out of the crater. If it had noticed me, it gave no sign, and when it got to the top of the hole it turned and started making its way for town.
I hadn't noticed before it got on solid ground, probably because the sand was running back to quench it, but when it stepped, its footsteps left little fires behind.
It made it easy to follow and as I went back to the cruiser to get my radio, I realized I had no one to call right about the time I keyed up the mic. I was here by myself, I was the law in Courtney, and it was up to me to do something about this. I dropped the handset and climbed in instead, keying the engine as I pulled out and followed the strange creature that had crashed randomly on the outskirts of the little burg.
It wasn't hard to follow him. His feet left little fires behind him, and his pace was slow as he went through the desert and closer to town. Watching him go, I wasn't really sure what to do with him if I did try to stop him. Could he be stopped with anything in my car? I had a shotgun, my sidearm, and a couple of those flash bangs we used to control large groups. None of that seemed like it would do much against this metal man who was slowly making his way through the desert.
Watching him move was like watching a stop-motion short. He was some kind of strange automaton, a metal man whose skin was still slightly red from his fall from space. Instead of pulsing and burning, as his steps had, he seemed to shimmer like a heat reflection. He didn't seem lost, his pilgrimage definitely going in a certain direction, and as the lights of the Kwik Fill broke the darkness with their phosphorescent intrusion, I began to get a little nervous.
The Kwik Fill was a 24/7 gas station that boasted twelve gas pumps and a huge underground holding tank.
God only knew what would happen if this thing set a fire that went down to the reserve tank.
I whipped into the parking lot, popping the trunk and grabbing for my shotgun. It had buckshot in it, a higher caliber than the nine-millimeter slug in my Glock, and when I hefted it, it felt like I had four shells ready and waiting. There was a box of twelve in the trunk, and I put them in my jacket pocket before chambering a round and taking the safety off. I didn't know what this thing was capable of, but I knew I couldn't let it menace my town.
"You, uh, alright, Sheriff?" came a shaky voice from the door to the Kwik Fill, and it startled me enough to almost make me drop my shotgun.
Clyde Haggerdy, the nineteen-year-old kid who ran the register at the Kwik Fill after ten thirty, looked pretty scared. He had probably watched me come screeching in, pop the trunk, and go digging for my shotgun, all the while wondering what the hell was going on. In his mind, it was probably robbers or dopers, but he had no clue what was coming out of the desert for him. I didn't want him to see if this thing suddenly vaporized me with a death ray or something, and when I turned toward him, he jumped back a little as the barrel of the shotgun flagged him.
"Go get somewhere safe, Clyde. Something is heading your way, and I don't want you to get mixed up with it."
Clyde nodded, and I heard the door click as he went back inside and, hopefully, hid in the cooler or something.
I turned back to find the creature lumbering closer, its distance now about fifty feet from me.
The shotgun wouldn't do much at that range, but that would give me enough time to follow protocol and give it a warning before opening fire.
"Stop, I'm an officer of the Eureka Police Department, and I am ordering you to halt and state your intent."
The creature didn't even pause, it just kept its course as it made for the gas station.
"Stop. This is your final order to stop, or I will open fire."
It was well within range now, the fires burning behind it making it hard to miss, and when I squeezed the trigger, the gun bucked as the shot slammed into him.
The metal man never slowed in his pursuit, and as I loaded another round, it was now about twenty feet from me.
"Stop!" I yelled again, squeezing the trigger and pumping a new shell into the barrel as the old one thundered forth. A third shot let fly a second later, but if the creature was even registering them, it didn't show it. It kept coming as I fed new shells into the gun, and as I slid the fourth into the receiver, I felt a sudden and excruciating heat. It was like standing too close to a bonfire, and as I stumbled away from the thing, I looked up to find that it was within about ten feet of me. It appeared that it was still very hot, and its skin radiated an intense heat that the sand had done nothing to quench it.
I yelped again as my fingers blistered, and I realized the gun was soaking up as much heat as I was. I tossed it down, and not a moment too soon either. The bullets in the weapon began to erupt, sending the shotgun flying apart, and I turned away and covered my face just in time. I caught some shrapnel in my arms, and a little in my back, but I was spared the worst of it. As it lumbered past, I tossed the shells out too, lobbing them as far as I could manage before they went off. Even so, I was reminded of a time as a kid when I had to reach for something underneath the radiator while it was on.
Even though I had been careful not to touch it with my face or hands, I could still feel the heat coming off of it as I stretched for the toy I had lost under there.
It was like that now, except this thing was a walking radiator.
It went right past me and towards the gas station, its course unerring.
As it came around the side, I remembered another weapon at my disposal and ran back to the trunk of the cruiser. I had a fire extinguisher in there, one of the big ones that I'd needed to put out a trash fire once, and as the creature came around to the front of the store, I pulled the pin and sprayed it with a stream of foam. It coated the thing, hissing as it hit its superheated skin and sliding off like cheese on those copper pans they're always trying to sell on tv. It was impossible to tell if it was doing anything, but as I played it out, I heard a hellish sound coming from the front of the store.
The thing had reached out and melted the glass on the double doors, walking through the hole as it went right into the Kwik Fill.
There wasn't much I could do besides follow him. I didn't know where Clyde was, but I hoped he was safe. The store looked empty as I followed at a relatively safe distance, and the front counter was vacant. It appeared that Clyde had taken me seriously, and as the creature stumbled into the little shop I found myself spraying at fires left in his passing. He went by the chips, the candy, the snack cakes, all of them curling a little as the heat kissed them. He was making his slow way towards the drink cooler, and he seemed to be looking for something in particular.
As he stood looking in, the floor bowed and sagged beneath his otherwordly warmth, and I was worried that he would go right through the floor at this rate.
When he reached out, slowly and deliberately, his hand melted its way into the cooler and the puff of angry cold air that came out was almost comical. It hissed against the creature's skin as it reached in for something, and when it came out with a bottle of Doctor Pepper, the container was already starting to warp. It tilted it towards its head, spilling the dark liquid all over itself, before reaching for another one. By the third bottle, they had stopped crumpling quite so quickly, and by the seventh, it was clear that it was tossing the liquid into whatever served it for a mouth. It ran through a whole row of them before starting on the Diet Doctor Pepper's, and as it finished that row too, I noticed its skin was less translucent than before. Some of the heat shimmer had left it, and some of the blazing warmth had dissipated. It was cooling down, and as it dropped the last mostly intact bottle to the ground, it released a very human sigh of relief.
Then it fell to pieces on the floor of the Kwik Fill, its body reduced to scrap.
And that was the end of my encounter.
I'm still not sure what to make of it all. The creature landed on earth, tromped through the desert, destroyed my shotgun, wrecked up the front of the Kwik Fill, and then drank soda until he turned into scrap metal (Doctor Pepper, to be exact, but who's counting).
I don't know if my supervisors will accept this or not, but I do have something they can use as proof besides the crater on the outskirts of town.
Every step that he took through the desert left behind a perfect little footprint of pure glass, and the glass had a tread in it. I've saved a few of them, just in case, and Clyde has provided a witness statement as well. Apparently, he was hiding in the cooler when the creature came in and saw it drink all that Doctor Pepper before collapsing.
Hopefully, that will be enough to convince my supervisors I'm not crazy, but I hope to never have another night like that one again.
Something else comes to mind too, and it makes me hesitant to go to the fridge for my favorite midnight drink of choice.
If my fire extinguisher did little more than kick up steam, whats in Doctor Pepper that quenched his heat so well?
About the Creator
Writer, reader, game crafter, screen writer, comedian, playwright, aging hipster, and writer of fine horror.
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