- SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Downtown San Francisco sat under a haze in the mid-afternoon. It was fairly warm here, being the western coast of the U.S. A mild breeze was picking up off the ocean, bringing in the warm coastal air with it. Way out in the bay, almost past where it met the ocean, a yacht was floating. It was brand-new, in fact being on its maiden voyage, going down the coast. The boat had been a joined effort between two men, Paul Davis and Randy Shubein, and now the two were sitting on deck, sipping cold beers while talking in the shade.
"Lovely day out," Randy said, sighing as the beer flowed into his stomach.
"You bet," said Paul, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, sparkling in the sunlight. "No better day to break in the new yacht!"
"I knew I could rely on you to make the best choice," said Randy, closing his eyes and stretching out on his deck chair. "This boat's a real beauty!"
"Straight from London's shipyards," Paul said proudly. "With my job, we'll pay it off in no time!"
Suddenly, they heard a strange, low rumble far below. "What the heck is that?" Randy asked, getting up. "Sounded like an earthquake!"
"Dad-blast it," Paul said angrily. "Just got this thing, and now we'll have a nice big tsunami to wreck it!"
"Hold it," Randy said, listening closely. The sound came again. "That's not an earthquake. Sounds more like something swimming along the bottom of the bay!"
Suddenly, there was a grinding sound, and then the boat lurched. "What the crap???" Randy swore, running over to the deck. "Something brushed the boat!"
"Could be a shark," Paul said.
"Yeah right," Randy mocked. "A shark the size of Godzilla? There's something big down there!"
The grinding sound came again, this time much louder. The boat nearly spun as something scraped the bottom hard. Suddenly, there were shouts from down below. "Must be a submarine," Paul said, running down the stairs to the main floor. "Might be terrorists!"
Randy followed him, finding workers running screaming along the main deck. Paul stopped one of them. "Joe?" he asked urgently. "What's goin' on?"
"Water's gushing into the hold!" Joe shouted, pointing down. "Something scratched through the hull!"
"What was it? Did you see?" Randy demanded.
"Not very well, but I thought it looked like a couple of metal spines! Y'know, like the kind on the front of those Roman war ships!"
Suddenly the boat rocked, sending chairs and people flying toward the sides. Paul hit his head on the railing lining the deck, and went limp. Randy shouted as he grabbed his friend. "Get off the boat!" he shouted. "Off! Now! Whatever it is, it's after the yacht!"
He didn't have to say that twice. Men and women were running pel-mel to reach the life rafts, located on the top deck. Randy looked down the stairway into the hold and saw that the floor was covered with water.
Suddenly, there was a loud roar and then, for an instant, the boat was lifted out of the water. Then, whatever it was submerged again, and the boat splashed back down. Then suddenly, it began to tilt. "She's going to capsize!" Randy exclaimed, running up the stairs. "Everyone off!"
He ran for the nearest life raft, which was almost full. "Is everyone down?" he asked Joe, who was getting ready to throw it overboard.
"Yeah, most of 'em," Joe answered. Then the boat's side hit the water, and the two went flying in. Randy struggled for breath and he fought to get away from the doomed vessel. He swam as far as he could, then came up and watched the yacht.
Suddenly, something brushed against him; something wet and slippery. "Oh my word," he said, looking down. He could see a dark shape move in the water. "That thing's huge!"
He continued watching the yacht for a minute, as it filled with water, and then began to sink. Then suddenly he saw a life raft heading toward him. "Randy! Get in!" shouted Joe, who was rowing. "There's something in the water!"
Suddenly, there was a loud groan, and then the boat began to break up. But this was no natural event; something was ripping at it from underneath. The two men watched as it began to sink rapidly. "This needs to be reported," Randy said. "I think this is terrorist activity!"
Joe snorted. "How come they're not dive-bombing the city??" he asked, watching the boat disappear beneath the waves. "Why would they just attack a little yacht? Come on!"
"That's the only explanation I could think of," Randy replied.
But deep down, below the surface, something even worse than any terrorist technology could think up was moving. And it was moving rapidly into the bay, generating a current as it swam.
Meanwhile, the traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge was increasing by the minute. Rush hour was approaching, and many workers were on their way home. None of them noticed a large ripple that was rapidly approaching the bridge from the west. Not even when one of the beams shuddered from the impact with something huge.
Suddenly, there was a terrifying scream and a gigantic, snakelike creature with legs slithered up the side of the beam, sending a bus careening off the edge as it reached the road. Cars skidded to a stop in front of the beast, as it leaped onto the bridge and crushed a cyclist with its claw. It let out a bloodcurdling scream and knocked two more cars off the road. Others were knocked down in the ensuing chaos.
In the meantime, the people along the shoreline were enjoying the warm day, splashing and swimming in the water. It was only when they heard the roars and the screeches of vehicles did they bother to look up at the bridge and see the terrible demon and the hundreds of cars careening into the bay. "What the heck?" said a policeman, who was passing the beach in his cruiser. "What the crap is that thing?" He stopped his car and looked closely. Then he grabbed his radio.
"Officer Jennings!" he shouted into the radio. "There's something big on the bridge! Get out here, and notify the military!"
"What??" came the incredulous voice of Officer Jennings, who was at this moment sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying a doughnut and a cup of coffee. "Come on, Williams! What are you talkin' about?"
"I can't explain it!" screamed Williams, looking on as the huge beast suddenly began slithering up the north tower of the bridge. "It's like a—well, like a giant lizard! It was throwing the cars into the water! We gotta stop it!"
Jennings sighed, got up and walked to the door of the shop overlooking the bay. Then he was convinced. "Son of my mom!" he exclaimed. "What the blue blazes is that thing??" Soon other people were at the window with him, eyes locked onto the giant reptile. "Look at that!" someone shouted. "It's on top of the tower!"
Officer Jennings took his walkie-talkie and radioed the local military base, about a half a mile away. "Colonel Jameson!" he shouted. "We've got trouble!"
"What sort of trouble?" asked the colonel. "Come on, Jennings. I'm extremely busy right now!"
"Come out here and see for yourself!" Jennings exclaimed. "There's some kind of monster on the Golden Gate Bridge!"
"There's always monsters on the bridge!" Jameson replied. "Now I've gotta get—"
"Colonel, you need to get some jets out here right now!" Jennings yelled. "That thing looks like...oh my word! He's just dived back onto the street! He's gonna break it in half!"
"Look, Jennings," the colonel answered, "You need to stop watching those crazy sci-fi films and concentrate on your job. Now I'm..." He was suddenly interrupted by some loud shouting. For a few minutes he yelled back and forth with another officer, then he came back on. "All right Jennings, you win," he said. "We're on our way!"
The monster was climbing back up to the tower when suddenly the sound of roaring jets was heard. "It's the military!" shouted several voices down below as three F-14's came roaring down at the bridge. The monster roared when it saw them, and then stood on its back legs and showed a terrifying display of two spiny flaps on the side of its head. Then it spit some brownish liquid at the jet nearest it.
"I'm hit!" shouted the pilot to Colonel Jameson as he went careening out of control. "HELP! I can't see...AAAUUUUGGH!!!" The plane crashed into one of the bridge's supports and exploded. Suddenly the beam cracked, and the bridge began to tip. There were screams of terror as several people went flying into the bay.
"Davis," Jameson shouted on the radio to the other pilot, "Focus on its mouth. Don't let him spit any more. Gall, where the dickens did he come from!"
The other F-14 fired two missiles, which flew directly toward the lizard's mouth. However, the monster saw them and quickly dove off the bridge, into the bay. The missiles struck the tower instead, throwing fragments everywhere and causing the rest to topple.
"Sir, he's gone!" Davis exclaimed. "He's in the water!"
"I can see that, you diphead!" Jameson shouted. "Fire into the water then! Kill it!"
Two missiles were fired, but Davis had aimed too low. Instead of going directly into the water, they struck the middle of the bridge instead. There was a terrible explosion, and then the bridge broke in half and began to sink into the water.
"Davis, you idiot!" Jameson shouted. "You've blown up the bridge!!!!"
"S-sorry, sir," Davis stuttered. "I lost control for a minute!"
The people on shore had seen everything. "Everyone off the beach!" shouted Williams, running down onto the sand. "Get off the beach! That thing's going to...oh my" The last word was obscene. He saw a large ripple rapidly approaching the beach. Then, a moment later, the head of the creature appeared, followed by the rest of the body. There were screams of horror as people ran screaming to get away from the water. However, it was too late for some of them, who were rapidly overtaken and devoured by the reptile.
Williams watched in horror as the monster came onto the beach. By this time most of the swimmers were gone, but the lizard still managed to grab a fleeing sunbather in its jaws. Finally, the officer grabbed his gun and began to fire. The creature roared as the bullets struck, and then turned its attention to Williams. Williams tried to fire at the eyes, but suddenly his vision was blackened. His eyes burned; he screamed in pain as the monster leaped on him and snapped him up like a gecko with a cricket.
Chapter Three: A LeadEdit
General Stuart sat in the chopper, smoke rising from his hair, which had half burned off. "Murphy!" he shouted to the pilot. "Hurry before that dadgum eagle comes back!"
The giant bird had strangely disappeared from sight. Even the scanners on the helicopter couldn't detect it anymore. "That's the darn weirdest thing I ever did see!" Murphy exclaimed. "What do we got here, Rodan or something? Perhaps he went into hibernation!"
"Whatever it is, we can't let it return!" Stuart said as they approached the base. "I hope Captain Marone can get here okay."
"I'll bet right now Tokyo's getting attacked by a giant, fire-breathing dinosaur," Murphy joked as he prepared to land the chopper. "Or perhaps it's a giant pteradon!"
"This is no time for jokes!" Stuart growled. "These creatures are real, and they're posing a real threat! These aren't men in rubber suits and model cities here."
Murphy flew the chopper into the hanger, and then let it float gently to the ground. Suddenly, there was a rush of wind outside, and then a giant shadow obscured the sunlight. "It's back!" Stuart shouted. Then he grabbed his radio. "All fighter pilots, get to your jets! Our giant hawk is back!" Within a few minutes, the hanger came alive as men were rushing across the floor and climbing into their fighter jets, and strapping on their helmets.
"Don't let that thing fly over you," Stuart yelled. "If it does, there's a good chance you'll crash. Try to keep away from those wings. Okay, off you go!"
When Chaleen Bright gained consciousness, she found herself in Penmount Community Hospital. Now even more bandaged up than before, she just managed to sit up and see Henry and Joey next to her.
"Are you okay, Miss Bright?" a nurse asked her.
"Yeah," Chaleen said in a daze. "I just had the most horrible experience of my life. Even after all I've been through and everything I've seen, I've never felt so incredibly hopeless! Joey, did you get it on film?"
"No," Joey said immediately.
"Great," Chaleen said. "Now no one will believe my story and it would have been such a good story too! I'm someone they know and can trust to go out into the world to bring them the truth. People love that. I've even been to Iraq."
"Well, you're not going to Iraq or anywhere else for quite sometime," the nurse told her. "You've been so severely injured that we'll just have to keep you here."
"What?!" Chaleen asked in outrage. "You can't do that! I'm a reporter and this is the story of a lifetime. You don't understand, my future's out there right now and it won't wait!"
"Well, if you go out there now, your future will probably be death," a doctor told her. Looking pouty, Chaleen fell back onto her bed.
"The Channel 11 Corporation will not allow this!" she told them. "I swear to you, they'll get me out of here!"
"Well, if you really want to die you could just jump out the window," another nurse said sardonically.
"Very funny," Chaleen replied sulkily.
The chopper containing the Harpers, their friends and Captain Marone flew low over the military base, watching the actions of the gigantic bird. "Holy cow pies!" one of the pilots said. "Where in the name of Nike did that thing come from??"
"Same place our 'allosaurus' came from," Marone replied. "We don't know."
"Did you see it at all?" Samantha asked. "I never got a good look at it."
"No, but we know it didn't follow you," Marone said. "It's very strange. I guess it must've seen a deer or something and gone after it. Whoa, LOOK OUT! Go down!" he shouted as the bird flew near them. The helicopter shook with the impact of the wind that rushed past.
"Get inside the hanger! Hurry before that thing comes back!" Marone ordered. The chopper flew lower, and then finally came to the entrance of the hanger, which was nearly empty now that the jets were gone.
Suddenly, there was a massive explosion in the air overhead. Marone jumped out and ran over to one of the large windows to see. "I think they got it!" he shouted excitedly. But his enthusiasm soon faded. "It was one of our jets," he said gloomily. "That thing's too fast!"
Up in the air, co-pilots Jeff Nordstrom and John Wynstra were in their F-14 Tomcat, preparing to lock onto their target. "We've just lost Wynchell," Nordstrom said into his speaker. "I can't imagine how we're going to get this thing!"
"Keep your distance," came Stuart's voice from the radio. "Don't let it get near you!"
"It wasn't the bird that got him. It was one of our own missiles!" Wynstra reported. "It missed!"
"Get closer," Stuart said. "But stay as far away as you can while being able to lock." Nordstrom flew the plane in closer to the bird, and tried to get alongside its head. The head was about half the size of an average Toyota Camery, but was as deformed as Frankenstein's monster. It looked as if it had been severely burned, yet the feathers were still intact. One of its eyes was half shut, yet still was able to lock with Wynstra's.
"Okay Nordstrom," said Wynstra, "Lock!"
Nordstrom pressed the button, and after a few seconds his screen reported "Target Locked". Then he fired.
The missiles flew through the air, chasing their target. The feathered beast showed surprising intelligence, however, as it began to spin, causing the missiles to twirl together and exploded on each other. Nordstrom cursed and fired again, this time only a single missle.
The bird flew downwards toward one of the tallest buildings in the downtown area, the Renaissance Center. Then it flew up abruptly, and the missile struck the building. There was a loud explosion as glass and metal shattered, and then the building began to collapse.
"Stop firing before you destroy the rest of the city!" Wynstra shouted through his speaker. But Nordstrom didn't listen.
"I'm gonna blast that thing to feathers!" he shouted, speeding over the burning ruin and towards the dark object in the sky. "I'm gonna kill it!"
"NO!" shouted Wynstra. "We gotta go back! It's too fast!"
Suddenly Stuart's voice cracked on the radio. "You two beanheads get back here right now! Stop wasting your ammo!"
Nordstrom took one more look at the bird, then answered, "Yes sir."
- LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
- DECEMBER 25, 2006
The streets were filled with screams and cries of terror as the riotous parties and Christmas celebrations were interrupted by the thing from the desert. One moment ago, the city had been noisy with shouts and hoots of enthusiasm as the parades went through downtown Las Vegas. Now, people were running left and right, trying to get away from the monstrous legs that were now crushing cars, signs and citizens.
As the beast walked out of an alley into the open street, it could be plainly seen: a fifteen-foot tall tarantula, covered with short, stubby hairs. A taxi cab skidded to a stop in front of the beast, and found itself flying into a nearby pizza parlor for its efforts. The demon gave a high-pitched shriek and grabbed a fleeing pedestrian with its huge pedipalps, and injected him with its fangs. The man fell limp, and then was quickly sucked dry.
Suddenly, sirens could be heard as police cars flew into the street. They surrounded the creature, and the officers got out and aimed their guns. "Hold on," shouted an Officer Marley, who was holding a shotgun. "Wait till he...ok, fire!!" The air was filled with loud bangs as bullets flew through the air and imbedded themselves in the ghastly flesh. The spider screamed in rage and knocked several cruisers aside. Marley aimed for one of the eyes, and fired his shotgun. A slug flew through he air and found its mark, resulting in an explosion of a horrid black liquid. The creature gave a ghastly howl and leaped into the air, aiming to crush him with its foot.
Marley dashed out of the way and whacked the leg with the butt of the gun. The bottom of the appendage came off, resulting in a horrible screech. Marley aimed his gun again, this time at the creature's mouth. However, before he could fire a pedipalp flew at him and knocked him to the ground, then blackness overtook him.
Flight 204 was on its way into the Detroit Airport. Messages had been sent out ordering all flights coming into the area to stop, and the city had even been evacuated. However, Flight 204's radio had been intercepted by a strange signal, and they had not recieved the orders.
The giant bird apparently had failed to see the large jet until it was too late. It was taking a dive toward the ground, only to discover that the plane was directly under it. Its beak went directly through the roof of the plane, and the two giants crashed down towards the ground.
"Holy mackeral!" shouted Stuart. "They're going down right over the interstate!"
The plane and its assailant struck the top level of Interstate 54, then crashed through the other levels toward the bottom. Finally, they struck the ground.
At first nothing could be seen, then suddenly a giant ball of flame rose slowly into the air, followed by an earsplitting explosion. Everyone at the base watched in horror as most of the interstate collapsed into a heap of rubble.
"Well, they got the bird," Captain Marone said. "Though at the expense of at least two hundred innocent lives."
"Crap it all," Stuart growled. "We got the bird, and now a mess to clean up too!"
"Detroit's never going to be the same," said Samantha Bright, standing next to Dr. Harper. "But where on earth did that thing come from?"
"Sir!" shouted a voice from the entrance to the hanger. General Stuart turned to see Murphy running toward him, waving a paper. "We just got this report! Something's attacked both San Francisco and Las Vegas!" He came to the general and handed him the paper. Stuart looked it over and cursed, almost ripping it in half.
"Another nation-wide crisis," he sighed. "I have no clue where these monsters are coming from. They just seem to pop out of nowhere!"
"Did the Alliance make them?" Margaret asked. "We thought they might have done it."
"Are you kidding?" Marone exclaimed. "They've pretty much dissolved!"
"I'll say," Blake Jones agreed.
"But where DID they come from?" Samantha insisted. "Does anyone know?"
General Stuart scanned the paper for a moment, then suddenly let loose with a yell of frustration. "I don't even have any leads," he said angrily. "Probably not even the president knows!"
"Maybe they're further mutated were-creatures," Audrey suggested.
"Very unlikely," Marone said, leaning against the chopper. "They all bore at least some resemblence to their original human hosts. These are nothing but animals."
"Very smart ones too, I might add," Dr. Harper said. "That giant dinosaur or whatever it was that attacked us last night went to the pantry instead of the basement, where we were hiding!"
"I don't think that was intelligence," Monty said. "It just had a highly enhanced sense of smell."
General Stuart sighed and headed toward the door that led inside the building. "Well, we're not going to do much good just standing out here jabbing," he said. "We might as well go inside. I'm going to need all of the information on that reptile you people have. I need a lead, something that'll help me find these monsters' origins."
Just after he said that, he suddenly stopped in his tracks and snapped his fingers. "Why that's it!" he shouted excitedly. "I think I may have a lead after all!"
"What?" asked Brian, incredulously. "What is it?"
"The Dark Island!" Stuart exclaimed. "It was on a paper I found in my junk pile this morning. Come on, let's get this show on the road!"
"Whoa, whoa," said Dr. Harper. "What the heck is the 'Dark Island'? Sounds like something out of a cheesy science fiction or horror film."
"You'll find out soon enough," Stuart said gruffly. "Now come on, let's stop crowding up this hanger and do something useful!"
Chapter Four: A Surprising DiscoveryEdit
The reddish light of the evening sun shone down on the cabin's remains. Food, canned and fresh, lay strewn about in the snow. Pieces of wood, large and small, lay burning on the ground. The air was filled with smoke from the fire, which had caught the cabin as it caved in. But what stood out most to the hunter was the monstrous set of footprints, big as an allosaur's.
"Yes, I believe I have my quarry," he said. "It can't go anywhere without leaving tracks!" He slung his shotgun over his shoulder as he strode through the clearing and into the woods, following the footprints.
Higher up in the mountains, a group of young hunters was just finishing pitching their tent. Two of them had prepareda fire, and one was getting ready to cook their dinner. They were planning on going hunting later that night.
Just as they were getting settled down to eat, there came a sudden noise. It sounded rather like a large thump, and several of them could even feel a tremor in the ground. "What the heck is that?" asked one of them. "An earthquake?"
"In Michigan? You've gotta be kidding!" another replied. "Could be a bear!"
"Well, I wouldn't worry about it," another said. "We've got our guns!"
Suddenly, the thump came again, this time much closer and louder. "Didn't I hear something on the radio about some kind of monster in Los Angeles?" one asked.
"That was probably just a—" Suddenly a loud roar sounded throughout the forest, sending a blast of air which nearly put their fire out. "All right, get your ammo," the oldest one said. The young men all jumped for their weapons, when it appeared.
Out of the darkness came a horrific demon that would fill even the heart of the hero Theseus with fear. Standing about fifteen feet off the ground, it might have been a lizard of some kind, yet this was unlike any they'd ever seen. One of its eyes bulged out, while the other looked like it was swollen partially shut. It was warted and scaley, and its mouth was covered with blood.
For a moment, the hunters stared at it in frozen shock, when one of them finally managed to work his finger around the trigger of his shotgun. There was a loud BANG! that exploded on the monster's face, but didn't seem to do anything. Several more shots came, but nothing happened. The beast leaped forward suddenly, knocking several boys aside with its head. Then it grabbed at the tent with its jaws, ripping a section off.
The hunters scattered in all directions, now that the beast obviously was not going to be stopped by their weapons. However, the creature, finding nothing edible in the tent, followed the nearest one, and grabbed him in its jaws and swallowed him whole.
Officer McPherson's radio buzzed. He picked it up. "John McPherson here," he said. "Who's this?"
"Chief? This is John Ferguson," came an urgent voice at the other end.
"YES!" Ferguson shouted. "Listen up! I need you up here as soon as possible. There's some big—thing attacking the Penmount High School! We don't know what the heck it is, but we need all our police force concentrated there immediately!"
McPherson's eyes bulged. "It must be that reptile!" he whispered to the others. Then he said, "All right, I'll be there as soon as possible." He hung up and turned to the others.
"Well, what is it??" demanded Stuart, sitting behind his desk. "Come on, we're on the verge of a discovery here and you've got to leave?"
"They've got our monster!" McPherson exclaimed. "And I've got my job. I'm gonna have to get back up to the UP tonight. If we can capture it, we can get it back here and perhaps study it to see what it is!!"
Stuart raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you can get it, then by all means go!" He picked up his radio. "Murphy?" he said into it. "Murphy, I need you to take Officer McPherson back up to Penmount. They've got their dinosaur located, so you need to hurry!!"
Then he picked up his radio. "Murphy," he said, "I need you to get Officer McPherson here up to the Porkies as fast as you can take that thing. And," he added, "Bring a large net along."
"A net??" Murphy's shocked voice came from the radio. "Whatever for??"
"Just do it!" Stuart shouted. "C'mon, this is urgent!"
"Yes sir," Murphy said.
"All right, get on down there," Stuart aimed at the door. "And make sure for pete's sake you don't kill the thing! We need some tissue samples to study."
McPherson nodded and headed for the door. Fred Montgomery followed.
"Where do you think you're goin'??" Stuart asked, surprised.
"Sir," Montgomery said, "I'm a park ranger and they may need my advice. We have tracked and trapped many large animals on my job, and I don't see how this would be any different."
"This isn't a bear!" Stuart exclaimed. "What we've got here is a dinosaur-like thing! You think you can trap a miniature Godzilla??"
"Sir," McPherson cut in, "I've known this man since college, and I know how good a hunter he is. I trust his abilities."
Stuart sighed and put up his hands. "Very well," he said. "But you two be careful!"
Suddenly Blake Jones joined them. Stuart shrugged.
"Fine, Mr. Jones, I'm sure they could use your knowledge of animal biology. Anyone else want to join?"
Brian stepped in. "I wouldn't want to miss the show," he said. "Besides, I've hunted a few times and I know the school like the back of my hand." Stuart nodded toward the door.
"All right then," he said. "Now hurry up before that thing gets away!!" He picked up his radio again. "Lt. Brady?" he said. "I want you to take a squadron of your men and accompany chopper number four to the Upper Peninsula. This is urgent."
"Yes sir," answered the deep voice on the other end.
Back in Penmount, the police were having a very rough time. The creature had been cornered in the gym, but several officers had been badly injured in the effort to put it out and Officer Joe Benson, who was second-in-command to McPherson, didn't know how much longer they could keep the animal contained. He had several boxes of knockout darts in his cruiser, but the creature had shown alarming resiliance to them. It had taken about seven just to calm it down, and now they were working on getting about seven more in.
When he heard the sound of the military chopper overhead, he was overjoyed. "Officer McPherson!" he shouted joyfully as the police chief stepped out of the helicopter, accompanied by four soldiers, complete with uniform and M-16 machine guns.
"Have you got this thing trapped?" McPherson asked. "It's not dead, is it?"
"Dead? Ha!" Benson scoffed. "Our bullets can barely penetrate! Its hide is as tough as the steaks my brother grills!"
"Where is it?" asked one of the privates. "The general wants it back alive!"
"In the gym," Benson said, pointing toward the large building. "But how do you think you're going to transport it?? It'll rip through any net!"
The soldier produced a large dart, about three feet long. The point was so sharp it could barely be seen. "This is a knockout dart, one that's just been recently designed," he said. "The point is made of cast iron, and we've sharpened it to about zero-point-nine millimeters and covered it in a thick layer of grease. It shouldn't have much trouble penetrating."
Benson looked at the dart in amazement. "Well, by all means take him out!" he said. "But be careful. He could..."
At that moment, there was a loud crash that shook the parking lot. Everyone looked in the direction it had come from, and saw a huge, gaping hole that had just been formed in the wall of the gym. Standing directly outside was the monster.
"Stand back everyone," said a rough-looking drill seargent, stepping out of the cab. He carried the launcher for the dart. Taking the dart from the soldier who had been carrying it, he placed it on the gun and aimed. The beast looked toward him, and roared, showing its horrible, blood-stained teeth in the process.
BANG! The gun fired, and the dart flew toward its target. The creature roared loudly as it found its mark on its neck. "All right," said the seargent, "Get back! This'll only take about a minute."
The monster began thrashing around, trying to loose the dart. However, it was imbedded deeply, and the scales had closed in around it, so it wouldn't move. The gigantic reptile banged itself against a tree, knocking it over. Then it smashed through a fence and crushed one of the police cruisers.
"HEY!" shouted Benson. "That's my brand new Mazda!"
"The military'll compensate you," the seargent replied. "We've got what we need."
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the beast began to slow up. It turned to look at the group, then began to breath heavily. It shook itself a couple of times, then began to sway. "Quick!" shouted the drill seargent. "Get the net under it!" Several privates dragged the net from inside the helicopter, then ran as fast as they could toward the tiring beast.
- SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
Downtown San Antonio was usually a bustling place. There were businesses on most every street corner, and there were some famous attractions here too, such as the Tower of the Americas, and the Alamo. But today, there was none of the usual slow-moving crowds. Today, there were shouts and screams of terror as people crowded the streets. And for good reason, too, for something was coming out of the San Antonio River. Something big.
As the terrified citizens went screaming past, to huge jaws lunged out of the river and grabbed one of them. It shook the terrified woman violently and was about to toss her up in the air, when suddenly several shots rang out. The police had been patrolling the area when they heard the screams, and now they were shooting at the monster. It forgot all about the woman, dropping her onto the bank as its head reared its ugly, warty head out of the water. For a moment, several people stopped to look at it. It had a somewhat elongated snout, and remotely resembled a horned toad. In fact, that was what it was, save for the fact that it was about fifteen times as big as a normal horned toad. Its head was about seven feet long, and its gaping maw was filled with nine-inch long, razor-sharp teeth.
"Move out of the way," an officer shouted. "Get the heck out of here everyone!" The huge reptile moved out of the river, its huge claws grabbing the cement walkway that bordered the river. It let loose with a roar, which sent a blast of air that nearly blew a nearby car over and sent a fleeing man straight into a tree. Then it turned its attention to the police officers. BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Several more shots rang out, and small beads of dark blood appeared on the lizard's face. It roared again, then grabbed one of the officers around the waist and popped him into its gaping mouth.
Finally, the police force could see that fighting the demon would do no good, and the head of the Lackland Air Force Base, General Henry Lars, was called.
"Yes?" Lars said gruffly (but not as gruffly as General Stuart). "Who is this?"
"General Lars?" came a desperate voice on the other end of the phone. "This is Officer Lund of the San Antonio police force. We need some of your men out here right now."
"Officer Lund," Lars said rather jokingly, "Surely there's no problem that you alone can't handle?"
"General!" the police chief growled. "It just so happens we might need your help. If I told you we were being attacked, would that convince you?"
"Attacked? By what?" General Lars said incredulously. "The Mexican Army?"
"Something a lot worse than that!" Lund said, exasperated. Suddenly, the general could hear a bizarre sound on the other end of the line, followed by a scream. "General!" the officer screamed. "Please! If you don't help, we're goners!"
"What in Ghandi's name was that noise?" Lars exclaimed. "It sounded like a cat hacking up a hairball!"
"Something like that!" Officer Lund shouted. "Only a lot bigger!"
"All right, I'll send out a squadron of soldiers," Lars said grouchily. "But you'd better not be playing the Big Bad Wolf with me!"
"There's no wolf!" shouted Lund. "It's more like...well, I'm sure you'll see for yourself."
Chapter Five: The VisitorEdit
General Stuart ran through all his computer's files. He couldn't find "Dark Island" anywhere. "Very weird," he said, annoyed. "It should be here. Of course, if it's bad enough it could be hidden even from the likes of me."
"Where could it be then?" wondered Samantha aloud. "You're one of the most powerful military men in the U.S.! Why shouldn't you know?"
"Because," said Stuart, "It may have been erased from the files!"
Suddenly Audrey saw something. "What's that?" she asked. The general examined the small file she was pointing to.
"What the blazes?" he exclaimed. "I've never seen that before." He clicked on it. It was just about to load, when suddenly the screen went blank. Stuart pounded the table and swore. "It must've had a bug," he said angrily. "I think someone's been hacking!"
Suddenly the screen came on again, showing the file had loaded completely. Stuart was taken aback. "Well I'll be! What on earth could've happened?? It goes blank, and then..."
Words appeared on the screen, which were not discernable. "Now that's the darn strangest thing I've ever seen..." Stuart said, when the words suddenly began to disappear. Soon, the screen was empty.
Stuart hunched over, glaring at the screen. "Someone's hacking the files!" he shouted finally, and swore. Then he grabbed his radio. "Kruegel?" he shouted into it. "Inspector Kruegel? Go check the main motherboard. I think we have a hacker stealing our files."
Suddenly, another file began to appear on screen, and then the words of this one began to disappear too. "HEY!" he shouted. "That's the were-virus information! What the **** is going on here!!!"
Soon, every file on Stuart's computer was disappearing, one after the other. He cursed several times, then grabbed the power cord out of the wall. He expected the screen to go black, but it didn't. The files just kept on going.
Stuart grabbed the phone on his desk, dialed several numbers and waited. Then he began to shout into it.
"This is General Harold Stuart from the Detroit Air Force Base," he said. "I need to speak to the President!"
"I'm sorry sir," came the voice on the other end. "President Harrison is busy right now. He cannot be bothered."
"****it, get him on the phone! This is important!" Stuart yelled, beads of sweat popping out on his face. "Get him on the blasted phone right now!"
"Sir, he can't..." Stuart pressed a button, and then the phone began to ring again. He looked at the three standing behind him and a faint smile formed on his lips. "That's one good thing about being a general, you get special buttons to get past the secretary."
"Yes, who on the green earth is this?" came a rather cranky voice on the other end.
"This is General Harold Stuart," Stuart replied. "I need to speak to you urgently, Mr. President. Our computers at the Detroit Air Force Base are being hacked."
"Is this a joke or something?" President Harrison replied.
"Sir, the day I call you for fun is the day the sky falls in!"
"All right, all right," the president replied, exasperated. "How do you know you're being hacked? Are your files missing?"
"My files are leaving, right before my eyes!!" Stuart said huffily. "They're dissappearing right from my screen! I can't figure out what's happening!"
"What are you missing so far?" the president asked.
"All the information on the were-virus was stolen, and now so is the files on Area 52! Sir, if this information gets into the wrong hands..."
"Right, I'll check our files," replied the president. "I'll have the Secretary of Defense look into it right away."
"You have to hurry!" Stuart said urgently. "It might be someone from the Al-Queda!"
The phone clicked. Stuart set it down with a bang and then rushed for the fire extinguisher in the office. "Stand back, everyone," he yelled, and then ran forward and smashed through the motherboard with it. The machine exploded in a shower of sparks, and the screen finally went blank.
Stuart sat down, breathing heavily. Suddenly, his radio began to sqwawk. "Yes?" he demanded.
"This is Captain Marone," came the voice off the speaker.
"Do you have the creature?" asked Stuart impatiently.
"Yes, and we're almost at the base. There's someone else who joined us."
"What? Don't tell me you're picking up stragglers!!" Stuart yelled. "Come on, it's bad enough that we have to drag the Harpers around everywhere!"
"But sir, this man claims to know all about the creature. He said he'd even captured and studied it."
Stuart's eyes widened at that. "Who is he?"
"He won't tell me his name," said Marone.
"Well, tell him he won't be coming in here without a name!" Stuart huffed.
There was a brief silence and muffled conversation in the background. Finally, Marone said, "He says his name is Kevin Ross. Is that name familiar?"
"Not that I recall," said Stuart. "Oh well, send him up. Maybe he has some useful information."
- LOCH NESS, SCOTLAND
Loch Ness was closed off to the public today, due to several purported dissappearances and mutilations that had occured in—and near—the water. A unit of the Royal Regiment had the lake surrounded, while a sub had been dispatched to go down into the water. The head of the investigation, Dr. Trevor Morris, was securing the guard on the lake.
"Make sure no one is anywhere inside thirty feet from the water's edge," he told the commander in charge of the troops. "From what I hear, something may have crawled out that far in order to grab several locals and drag them back in."
"Could this be Nessie?" the commander wondered aloud.
"Don't get involved in that," Dr. Morris said. "It was probably a freshwater shark. We've had incidents with them before."
"And I suppose that a shark could climb thirty feet out of the water to grab people?" the commander said incredulously. "It would have to be pretty fast, and a good land traveller nonetheless!"
"I don't know what it is, but it's killing people and whatever it is, we're going to capture it. Here we go!" The sub began moving through the water. It had been equipped with special lights for searching through the murky, dark waters of the lake, as well as two harpoons, located on each side.
The submarine submerged beneath the surface, and the search was on. "Ten feet," said a technician. "Twenty feet. Thirty..." Suddenly, something bumped against the side of the machine. "What the crap was that?" Morris exclaimed.
Suddenly, the side was viciously dented. Then, a spray of water came rushing in as something sharp poked through the hull. "LOOK OUT!" a soldier shouted. "Evacuate the sub!" There was a scramble as men rushed to get to the top of the submarine. However, it was too late; the sides of the machine began to cave in, as the animal outside was crushing it.
A large, serpentine creature finished tearing the sub apart, finding several meals in the process. Its shiny black eyes pierced the darkness of the loch, searching for more food. Having grown at an exponential rate, the creature had a voracious apetite. It looked up, and then swam toward the surface.
"Good evening, General," said a black-haired, bearded man who looked to be in his mid-forties. "I'm Kevin Ross, and I'm pleased to see that you've caught the creature."
"Never mind about all that," Stuart snapped. "You're supposed to know about it. Tell me, how long have you studied it?"
"Oh, for several months now," Ross replied. "You see, I found him wandering in the woods last summer, eating the remains of a wild deer. He was a good deal smaller then. I'm not exactly sure where he came from, but over the past several weeks I made some important discoveries."
"Like?" Stuart prodded.
"Like the fact that it grows at a rate of about an inch a week! Of course, after finding that out I had to know why. So I took several blood tests, and found that its DNA was contaminated with some kind of hormone. Normal blood has small amounts of this chemical, but this one was flooded with it! Not only that," he went on, "But I also found signs of radiation. It got to be where I had to wear protective clothing while studying its DNA. However, I got so preoccupied that I forgot to feed it after a while. It got so hungry, that it was able to tear open the cell I had it in. I've been tracking it ever since."
"Well, that was smart!" Stuart snorted. "Forget to feed an animal that an inch a week, and of course it's going to get vicious!"
"Sir," said Ross, "Sometimes science gets a little absorbing."
"A little!" Stuart sniffed. "But, Mr. Ross, as we have this creature now, tell me about this growth hormone. If this reptile can grow an inch a week, there's got to be something behind it!"
"I already told you, it bore signs of radioactivity," Ross said. "My theory is that this animal had the hormone artifically implanted. Then radiation over-excited the hormone, and it went wild and caused uncontrolled cell growth all over its body. That's how it grows so fast."
"Like a tumor," Audrey remarked.
"That's right, but this wasn't confined," Ross replied. "This was widespread."
"So do you think that this hormone is responsible for all these other mutations?" Stuart inquired.
"I wouldn't know," Ross shrugged. "I haven't really had time to study any others. However, that would be my best guess."
"But let's go look at the thing!" Margaret exclaimed. "You can study it all you want once we're down there."
Stuart was both appalled and yet very interested in the beast. It had been placed in a strong wire cage, the bars made of extremely dense steel, and was now surrounded by military men and several scientists.
"That thing continues to grow," Kevin Ross said. "In my estimation, after about twelve years it could be big enough to ravage a whole city!"
"In which case we have to kill it before it can get any bigger," said a soldier. "I don't want to be battling a 200-foot-tall lizard! Even if I am a fan of monster films."
"Yeah," said another one, "You always did like those old horror flicks, didn't you?"
"They were kind of interesting!"
"No, no," Kevin Ross argued. "The scientific knowledge that can be gained from this beast is simply immeasurable! In my experience, this is the greatest find of the millenium!"
"You'll have plenty more of those," Brian said sardonically.
"He's right, unfortunately," said Marone. "I've been hearing reports not only from all over the states, but other countries too! There was one in South Korea, attacking and eating people in the Han River. And what about the one in Iraq? I heard on the radio it was eating soldiers."
"I just heard one from Scotland!" Murphy shouted. "Several people and even a sub disappeared in Loch Ness! Some people think it's the work of the lake monster."
"Haw!" McPherson said, who was standing next to the cage. "That's BS! There's no monster there. It's rock formations. Those pictures were confirmed to be rock formations and floating logs. It's all..."
"Quiet, will you!" Stuart bellowed. "Under normal circumstances I wouldn't be inclined to believe such reports, but a whole sub disappearing? No other explanation makes sense!"
"So what do we do?" asked Montgomery. "I'm assuming the other countries' militaries will take care of them, but we've got more and more in the states! That was two in Michigan so far."
"Three!" McPherson said. "The reporter and her adopted son were attacked last night."
"Chaleen?" Samantha suddenly exclaimed. "How does she manage to get herself attacked so much?"
"It's all part of being a reporter," a soldier said.
While everyone else was talking, Ross took a syringe out of his coat pocket and took a small blood sample from the sleeping reptile. Then he went to Stuart. "Sir," he said, "While it's sleeping I suggest we gather as much information as we can on it. I expect it's changed drastically since I last had time to examine it. Where are your military scientists? They should see this."
Stuart sighed. "But you're right," he said, pressing a button on his radio. A few minutes later, Dr. Smith walked in, saluted to the general and then awed at the monster. "Is that what you just caught?" he asked Marone.
"Smith, I need you and Dr. Ross here to study that animal," Stuart said. "Meanwhile, I've got some other things I have to do." Suddenly, his radio beeped. "Yes, what is it?" he asked gruffly.
"Sir, it's Mark Kruegel," came a voice from the speaker. "All our files were hacked. I can't find a single one. We can't even trace where the potential hacker is!"
Stuart cursed and said, "Are all the files gone?"
"No, not yet, but they're disappearing rapidly," said Kruegel.
"Destroy all the hard drives before they're taken. If that information gets into the wrong hands...well."
"But sir!" Kruegel said, taken aback.
"That's an order!" Stuart barked. "Now get to it!"
"Yes, sir," Kruegel said, hanging up. Stuart put his radio back on his belt and turned to the others. "Well," he said, "We've got some unknown person who's interested in our files. I suggest that we start tracking the EMP waves. Those are the only things capable of taking out information from computers like that."
The Harpers finally left the base, and headed for Mrs. Harper's home in the suburbs of Detroit, and Samantha had gone to the hospital to visit Chaleen, Joey and Andrews, and Officer McPherson along with Fred Montgomery and Blake Jones had headed back to Penmount in a police chopper that McPherson had radioed.
"Boy, I wonder what's the deal with all these new monsters," Brian said, exasperated. "I'm just glad I'm not with the military. I'd never be getting a moment's peace!"
"You know," said Dr. Harper, "There's something about that Kevin Ross that I just don't like. I just got this weird feeling when we first saw him, and it's just been growing."
"I'm sure it's just your imagination," said Margaret. "He seems a very kind soul to me!"
"But don't you remember how I was able to sense that monster outside the cabin?" James objected. "I got a very similar feeling around this guy."
"You don't mean to say you think he's one of the monsters in disguise??" Audrey asked in surprise.
"No," her father answered. "Not that at all. It was just the same feeling that there was danger present. To be frank with you," he said to his mother, "There was something not-so-human about the guy."
Margaret Harper sighed as she pulled onto the residential street where her house was located. "He could be one of the former were-creatures," she suggested. "Mightn't that be it?"
"It was more than that!" James said. "I can sense other were-creatures, but that wasn't what was in Mr. Ross. It was something else. I just can't place my finger on it." At that moment, they arrived in the driveway. Mrs. Harper's house was a typical suburban home, with a large front window and garage overlooking the quiet street, which was lined with streetlights.
"We'll give it more thought in the morning," Brian said, yawning. "I'm pretty tired out. Geez, what a hectic day!"
"You said it," said Audrey. "I can't even remember how many school days I've missed now."
"Yeah, we'll have to try to continue on," said James. "I can't afford to miss too many work days. I'm going to get back tomorrow. But I think I'm going to have to have a little talk with General Stuart first," he said, shaking his head. "I just don't trust Mr. Ross."