That night, Audrey was suddenly awakened by a sound. It seemed to be coming from Grandma Harper's kitchen. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and walked slowly to the door and took a small peek out. To her horror, she discovered a dark, humanoid shape moving toward her door. In the moonlight streaming in through the front window, she could make out a thick beard on the person's face. She quickly shut the door and crouched behind the bed, and shook as the doorknob began to move.
The figure came in, dressed in a black coat and hat and wearing black gloves. He began to search the room, as if looking for her. In fact, she was sure that was what he was doing. He lifted the covers of the bed, then grunted in disgust as he saw nothing there. Then, he peered around the bedpost.
Audrey screamed. She jumped up and bolted for the door, but the man caught her by the arm. She delivered a ferocious karate chop, but the man didn't seem to notice it. Suddenly, lights came on all over the house, and a commotion arose.
Dr. Harper was the first to hear the scream. He jumped up out of bed and ran for the room where his daughter was. He saw the man in the coat wrestling her to the ground, and jumped on his back. "GET OFF HER!" he shouted, pulling the man off. But he found himself flying into the wall. Something burst inside him, and he leaped back, clawing at the man's face ferociously. The stranger wailed as James' fingers raked across his eyes, then he grabbed the doctor's arm and twisted it.
James screamed (a rather catlike scream) and pulled at the man's coat, ripping it. He pulled at it harder, and finally it came off. There, in the room, as if from the darkest corners of James' imagination, stood the man he had hoped to never again see: Deman Shimmings.
"Sh-Shimmings??" James stammered. "Y-you're alive?"
Shimmings cackled. "Of course," he mocked. "Did you actually think I was dead?"
"You fell off the cliff!" Harper said, shocked. "How did you survive?"
"I landed on a ledge a short way down," Shimmings said with an evil grin. "Several members of my little organization found me there and rescued me. They advised me to keep under cover, but I couldn't let you go! I had to get my revenge."
"By attacking my daughter?!" James yelled. "You monster! You're worse than all the were-creatures put together! You're a demon!"
"No, I'm Deman," Shimmings corrected, still grinning. "And I'm going to end this now." He pulled something metal out of his torn coat: a revolver.
"Don't do this, Shimmings," James said, backing away. "You don't want to do this."
"Oh I'm not going to kill you," Deman said, aiming it at Audrey. "Just your daughter. I only have one bullet."
"NO!" James said, leaping on his former boss. Deman knocked him aside, and cocked the gun. "Consider this your reward for being such a good employee," Deman said. "Good enough to stand in my way! But not anymore."
Brian and Margaret suddenly appeared in the doorway. When they saw the maniacal former doctor, they froze. James looked at his son, then made a head motion towards Shimmings. Brian nodded, then the two leaped at the same time. Shimmings saw it coming, however, and leaped aside as the two hit the wall. Then there was a gunshot.
James could hardly believe his ears. Was she dead? Had this madman killed his own daughter? He almost felt tears coming when suddenly, he felt someone grab his arm. Audrey. He wrapped his arms around her tightly.
"You'll pay for this!" Shimmings screamed. "I'll get her yet!" But as he was about to attack, Brian dealt him a ferocious blow to the back of the head. The man fell over forward, senseless.
For a moment, time seemed to stand still. Then, suddenly, James noticed something. Shimmings was moving slightly, but in the strangest way for someone who had just been knocked out. He moved the former doctor over with his foot, then saw something happening to the man's face. At first he didn't know quite what it was, but then he remembered what had happened at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark; a man's face had melted off. That was what was happening now.
"Good grief!" Brian said in shock. "What's happening to him?" The answer came quite soon. As Shimmings' features slid from his face, they saw something different underneath; rather than bone or some organ, they saw another face; an incredibly hideous face. At first they couldn't make out what it was, but then they saw what looked like several tentacles dangling from the mouth, which consisted merely of four teeth and a small opening. There were two eyes, which seemed to be embedded in tentacles which dangled from the center of the face. At the top of the head, four more tentacles branched out.
James felt sick. He could barely stand. "So," he said finally, "That's what he was, all along."
"No, I don't think so," Brian said. "I noticed his eyes were different. They were yellow. Didn't you see?"
"No," said James. "I was too busy trying to protect Audrey."
"His eyes were never yellow before," Brian said. "That thing must've taken over his body after he died. It's some kind of monstrous parasite."
Audrey couldn't take the site, and threw up on the spot. James held her steady. "You shouldn't look at this," he said softly, taking a sheet off the bed. "I think we'd better show this to General Stuart," he said. "I've got a feeling he should know what happened."
General Stuart was awakened by his radio buzzing. He groaned, sat up in his chair and picked up his radio. "Hello?" he mumbled into it.
"Sir, this is Captain Marone," the voice from the radio said. "The Harpers are here, and they just brought something with them you might want to see."
"What?!" Stuart growled. "In the middle of the night? Is it another monster?"
"You might say that," Marone said. "But this is human-sized."
"Where is it?"
"In my office," Marone said. "You'd better see it."
"All right," Stuart huffed. "I'll be right down.
When he arrived at the office, he found the Harper family and Captain Bill Marone gathered around something that was covered with a white sheet. As he walked in, Marone saluted, and then grabbed the sheet. "James said that Dr. Shimmings attacked them last night."
"SHIMMINGS! What?!" Stuart yelled. "He was supposed to be dead!"
Marone lifted the sheet to reveal the nauseating creature. The general stared at it, first in surprise and then, suddenly, annoyance. "I thought it was Shimmings!"
"That's what it looked like," said Brian. "But when I knocked him out his whole skin peeled off. What do you make of it?"
Stuart knelt and examined the creature. Its body was divided into three segments, like an insect, but it looked nothing like one. The whole creature looked rather serpentine, save for its squid-like head. "Most interesting," said Stuart. "Get Mr. Ross in here. I want to know what he thinks."
James looked rather disturbed. "Is anything wrong? I mean, besides with this thing?" asked Marone.
"It's just that, well, I don't know if he should see it," said Dr. Harper. Stuart glared at him. "Why not? He seems an expert on these things."
"Oh I know," said Dr. Harper, "But I get a funny feeling around him. Something seems to go off inside of me. And you know what? I got that same feeling around Shimmings! I just knew there was something that just wasn't human about him."
"Are you saying you think that Ross is another one of these?" Stuart asked, surprised and rather angry.
"I don't want to jump to conclusions," said James. "All I think is that you should be careful."
"We'll at least have him examine the creature. Maybe he can find something."
Chapter Six: Trustworthy?Edit
"So, how are you feeling?" Samantha asked, with something smug in her face. Deep inside, however, she was genuinely concerned. Chaleen was not amused. She glared up at her mother, but then she decided she wouldn't let her own wits be beaten.
"Oh, I'm perfectly fine," Chaleen suddenly smiled. "There really is nothing wrong. Nothing more, that is."
"I bet you're thinking what a great story could come out of this, aren't you?" Samantha wondered sarcastically.
"More to add to my book! I've already begun it," Chaleen said. "Not without help, of course," she said, nodding to Andrews and Jeoy in the beds beside her. "They've all proven wonderful co-authors."
"So they get to share the profit?" Samantha asked.
"Oh, yes," said Chaleen. "I mean, I need some great rescue stories! How I rescued everyone from the house as the Deadly Mantis was attacking." Samantha snorted and nearly choked. "Something funny?" Chaleen asked, somewhat offended.
"I suppose you didn't have help," Samantha laughed. "Joey and Andrews were both rescued in the most heroic manner by the world's bravest reporter! My my!"
"Okay, so Joey helped some," Chaleen admitted.
Suddenly Andrews sat up. He rubbed his head, which was bandaged, and turned toward the two. "Let's not forget who got in the way of the lamp," he said nonchalantly. "My head's still pounding."
"Oh man," Chaleen said as if she hadn't heard, "I can just see the millions of dollars I'll be raking in soon! I mean, we'll be raking in. We'll be rich! No that we aren't already," she added with a giggle. "Just more than we are."
Samantha rolled her eyes. "I just wonder where that insect-thing is right now," she wondered. "It could be anywhere!"
"It's too bad I can't be following it and giving another exciting live report," Chaleen sighed. "I'm telling you, it was huge!"
"I'll say," said Joey suddenly. "No cheesy monster film would ever do it justice. Especially the ones done with stop-motion or guys in suits!"
Suddenly a nurse hurried in. "It sounds like they've got your attacker cornered," she said, holding up a small radio. "The police caught up to it!"
"What?" Chaleen said, trying to sit up. "Where?"
"Near Ionia County," the nurse said breathlessly. "Some little town called Saranac."
The little town of Saranac, Michigan had overnight become the ultimate scene of horror and disaster. Several of the larger buildings lay crumbled as the six-legged giant battled the police force. Several cruisers had blocked off the area and gunshots were constantly heard, followed by horrible gurgles and shrieks of pain.
The creature had been weakened, however. Finally, after about thirty minutes if finally settled on the ground and rolled over. The officers backed away, unsure of whether it was really dead or just playing.
"I think it's unconcious," said Chief Officer O'Rielly. "We'd better let the military know. It might prove quite interesting."
"Don't let it survive!" shouted Officer Paul Davis. "It's a menace!" He aimed his automatic revolver at the beast's gigantic eye. The eye was about as big as a bicycle tire, and it glowed like a red-hot iron.
"We can't just kill it!" said another officer. "Did you notice its regenerative abilites? We could use its DNA to study possible healing medicines for humans!"
Just then, a helicopter flew overhead and lowered itself onto the street, which was now covered with broken glass and bits of concrete. The chopper was an HH-60G Pave Hawk, one of the military's search-and-rescue aircraft. The Pave Hawk landed, and several soldiers jumped out and ran toward the creature, now seeminly catatonic.
One of the soldiers ran up to Officer O'Rielly. "Are you the leader of this attack?" he asked, flashing his Captain's badge to the police officer.
"Yes, sir," O'Rielly replied. "Uh, Captain Ford. We were just trying to put it out."
"We'll take care of the rest," Captain Ford said. "The Detroit Military wants all the creatures in the area taken to the base immediately. They're being studied and we're taking DNA samples."
"What have you found so far?" O'Rielly asked.
"I'm sorry, sir, but that's classified," the captain replied. "But we think we may have found a connection. Now come on, men, let's get this beast tied up!"
Kevin Ross knelt by the comatose creature's "thorax" region, took its long, segmented arm and felt around its hand. "Very unusual," he said. "I'm getting vibrations of some kind, but they're not coming from any central cardiac organ! This thing doesn't have a heart." Everyone was surprised.
"How can it live if it doesn't have something to pump its blood around?" Stuart demanded. "There's no way!"
"This is most fascinating," said Ross. But as he spoke, Brian noticed that the scientist seemed rather nervous. He continued to rub his hands together, as if eager to leave the room. "I'd better take a sample of this creature's internal tissues. I don't believe anything like this has ever been seen before!"
Dr. Harper studied the man's eyes. His suspicions were soothed somewhat when he saw that they were colored normally, but he kept noticing that his left eye seemed somewhat sunken, whereas the other one looked normal. He wasn't entirely sure, but he thought he had noticed something similar in this creature's disguise.
"Sir," James asked finally, "Do you suppose there might be more of these parasitic creatures around? I mean, if there was one there could be others."
"It's possible," said Ross, now suddenly somewhat agitated. "But I wouldn't worry too much about it. Tell me, though, did you notice anything abnormal about this fake Dr. Shimmings, before his disguise came off?"
"Nothing overt," said James, trying to hide the yellow eyes he had seen. If Ross was indeed another one of them, he would certainly try to disguise it. "However, I think his eyes were somewhat different. Different than what I had seen when I worked for him. I thought that they shifted colors once or twice."