Where The Birds Go
Date: Sometime in the last 1980s
He stared at the piece of metal in front of him. White markings were stenciled into it. His mind traced back to the last 48 hours…
“McCroy, wake up man! We’re in a briefing!” the familiar voice snapped McCroy out of a deep sleep on board a private plane. He sat in one of the eight captain’s chairs in the lounge area of the small jet. His long time friend Robert “Divs” Divanson was poking him awake.
McCroy, like his other mercenary comrades in arms, was tired. The last mission for the Assembly was a rough one. Nicaragua was too hot in too many ways and none of them good. Communist fuckers!
Frank “Doc” McCroy shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Something really cold hit his hand – a beer. “Wakes you up better then coffee” they both said in unison. Divs always said that in the morning. McCroy took a deep sip, refreshed.
“Gentlemen, we all apologize for the screw up back there – ” a French accent broke through McCroy’s haze. I hate this guy ” – but we didn’t know about the new shipment of Hind A’s. We’ll send in Bundvolli’s crew in with you next time…”
“Next time! Shit, man! ….” the tall bulky African American demolitions man stood up. Steven “Likes” Lykonston was a hardened veteran of the US Army, retired. He was not about to go through the same cluster-fuck twice. “I’m still pullin’ shrapnel out of my ass …” He punched the seat in front of him. “I can’t believe this motherfu…” his voice fell to inaudible grumbling.
“Sergeant, some respect!” said Major Daniel Ferrell. The Major was always the one to step in when Likes explodes. Likes was sometimes worse than thermite.
The Frenchman – Adrien Girault, District Commander for Central American Operations for Assembly – resumed after a short stare at Likes. “I know there was some major action down there. We screwed up. I get it. However, you are going to hate me even more for this next part … you will not get any downtime between missions. All leave is cancelled. ” He waited for all the growns and vulgarity to die out. “I realize you were promised but we have a major situation that needs to be dealt with by the best we have. It involves the Americans and the Russians …”
“With all due respect, sir, you can tell this major situation to fuck off. We were promised leave and we need it…” the Hispanic female said in the front of the plane. Sam Cortez was the heavy weapons specialist and had the build to back it up.
“I am sorry. I can’t change things. This comes down from the top.” The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders. “The Soviets are moving into….”
The plane suddenly shifted nose-down quickly. Girault was thrown back into the cockpit. Sam, who hardly ever sits in one seat too long, also was thrown into a wall.
McCroy and the rest of his team held tight on their seats, some desperately trying to fasten their seat belts. The plan was nearly vertical, nose diving into the sea below. McCroy could hear vulgarity from all areas of the plane, while the Major was barking orders to everyone, trying to gain some control. It was then that McCroy (and everyone else) blacked out.
Waking up, McCroy found himself laying in a dense jungle, no sign of the plane. Am I back in Nicaragua? he thought as he surveyed his situation. His back was wet from the ground and his forehead was wet with blood. His head throbbed. Maybe a concussion. The air smelled different, like nothing he had experienced before. In addition, his equilibrium and body weight felt off.
“It’s about time you woke up, Doc!” He heard Sam say.
“Yea, well, it was one hell of a party last night. Can anyone tell me what the hell happened?” McCroy said. “And is everyone OK?”
“No, I don’t think so. The plan is back there in some trees. The others are getting the rest of our stuff from it.” She was cleaning her machine gun. “I am glad they brought me Baby first.” She kissed it Separation Anxiety? McCroy thought/
“They left me to watch over you. How’s your head? That beer bottle knew right where to hit you.”
Beer bottle? Of course. McCroy laughed. “What is the situation?”
The big lady peered up into the strange trees. “Well, from last the pilot remembers , we were above the Florida Keys heading to Bermuda with a heading of north-east east. We should have washed up on the shore of Fort Lauderdale but I can promise you this… this isn’t Florida and we have not seen an ocean or shoreline.
What the hell? McCroy tried to stand, but fell back.
“Easy big fella. Momma Cortez is hear to take care of you. Just sit and wait until everyone gets here.” Sam said, brandishing her M60.
A gut-wrenching scream interrupted their moment. It sounded like the pilot – Joe … something. “Help me!!”
Fueled by a new injection of adrenaline, the Doc launched himself up with the gun-wielding Sam following. They found Girault, Divs, Likes and the Major with their M-16s assault rifles poised. They were all looking in different directions – up, down, all around. Divs had to snap out of the battle readiness before he shot his friend or Sam as they both appeared out of the underbrush.
In the middle of them were several supply boxes. Attached to one was what McCroy could only assume was the severed arm of the pilot.
” What happened, Sergeant!?” McCroy said to Divs.
They all looked confused, scared and angry at the same time. Likes spoke first. “All I saw was some big ass bird lizard thing. It had huge bat wings and fangs and claws everywhere. It got Joe… all but his arm, I guess. “
There was no sign of struggle and no indication that the big man was hallucinating. Likes was known to take a few hits in his time, so it would have been far from believable that he was seeing things. What the hell?
“It… it… moved so quick.” Divs muttered. ” We couldn’t get a shot off…”
The night was even more strange, with strange animal calls echoing throughout the valley they were in. They camped out on a ridge overlooking a vast valley of jungle. More bird-like things could be seen flying in the distance. Doc and Divs were sent out on a hunting mission as they were short on rations.
Divs was a recon sniper and game hunter on his days off. Doc has had some sniper experience as well, and they have always worked well together. Doc also had a better chance of finding something edible considering his medical experience. The Major expected them to return with something.
What they brought back was something that looked like a cross between a iguana and a sloth. From what Doc could tell, it was editable. The meat was chewy and had the texture of a marshmallow. It had the effect of drinking a full six pack, however, and it was not long before everyone was knocked out, with no watch set.
McCroy was awakened by the strange feeling that something was licking his face. He did not open it’s eyes right away, as to not cause whatever it was to attack. As it stood, it was only tasting him. Slowing feeling around to find his .45 pistol he realized that he was bound by something. It slowly shifted just enough to pull his sidearm from the side holster. He then opened his eyes.
First he saw the horrid twitching insectoid eyes – massive fly-like eyes sitting above a maw that was sacreting some kind of resin. He was being cocooned and he could only assume everyone was too because he heard nothing. He was able to adjust his position enough to get a line on the creature on top of him and pulled the trigger. A horrid screech erupted from it as did a gusher of black-green blood. McCroy could hear more skittering away from the loud retort from his pistol.
His other hand had already reached the combat knife on his left hip and was cutting his way out of the thick cocoon. His suspicions were correct as he found everyone else covered in a gray-white mesh of organic goo. Some cocoons were moving and he could hear the muffled screams of their contents.
Reaching for his rifle, he fired his pistol several more times at the brave creatures that stayed behind to investigate the loud noise. They were strangely humanoid but short, perhaps the size of a child. They had three legs that skittered awkwardly, and a large fly-like head with three bulbous eyes. They had three speider-leg-like mandibles arms with claws on the end. More were rising out of the shadows as McCroy raised his rifle and lit the morning haze up with bright muzzle flares. A group of them gathered on the high-ground above him preparing to pounce when he fied the M203 grenade launcher at the group- scattering them into pieces.
Godammit! He landed a new clip into the smoke rifle. He then wiped the blood on his face and moved to cut his companions out.
The Major must have been the first to be incased – the slime had time to harden. It took a bit of time to cut through it. Groaning and swearing as he climbed out of the alien coffin “What they hall…” he looked at the mauled bodies of the insectoids “… I heard the gunshots but couldn’t get out…. Good job, Doc.? The Major brandished his hunting knife to free the next victim.
Doc moved to Likes cocoon. Through the translucent encasement, McCroy could see there was something else moving inside the cocoon – something was wriggling and squirming near his chest. He franically hacked at the cocoon to free the man.
“Major, there is something else in this one…” He said as he hacked at the cocoon. “It laid something inside…” This one was even harder than the Major’s. The major grabbed an axe salvaged from the plane and shattered the hardened cocoon.
They both stared into the lifeless eyes of Likes, a strange irregularly shaped larvae thing eating into his chest. It had already gotten past Like’s heart and lungs.
“Shit-fuck!” McCroy turned swiftly away, angrily. The Major could not tear himself away from it. He was in total shock. Sam stood behind Doc, covered in alien goo and a dead larvae on the end of her knife.
“Damn tough little fuckers!” She said.
Divs! Doc McCroy dove towards his friends bedroll. Cutting him free from a much fresher cocoon, McCroy found his friend fine and with no larvae to keep him company. “What the hell!? This shit is nasty. Doc, you stink!” was all Divs said.
Sam moved to the Frenchman’s bedroll to find him missing. “Frenchy! Frenchy!!” She called out.
They found his blood spattered M-16 in some brush nearest the area designated for the latrine. He must have gone to relieve himself and something got him.
“Where in the hell are we?” McCroy said.
The remaining survivors gathered up what they could carry, and decided to head out in a random direction in hopes fo finding something else other than endless jungle. Their compasses didn’t work. They had no way of knowing which was best. By their watch it should be 1300 hours but it was still morning. We’re not in Kansas anymore…
By what they could tell was midday, they stopped near a small brook at a waterfall for a break and to try and get their bearings. They ate more marshmallow meat (as it became to be known). Fortunately, it’s mind altering effects on them seemed to have diminished.
“I can’t believe you have never heard of the Bermuda Triangle, Major. You need to get out more.” Same said, as she took a bite.
“Yea well, I spent more time in studies of real life things over ghosts and goblin stories.” The Major said, somewhat jilted at Sam’s tone.
“Flight 19, the Mary Celeste, the Ellen Austin, or USS Cyclops? None of those ring a bell?” McCroy was also somewhat surprised that the man had never heard of it. The Major shook his head, indicating they had not.
“It’s the only explanation. It’s a real thing! Some kind of gateway … to this place. I can’t imagine why …” A snap of a twig and a ruffle of leaves stopped her short and she grabbed Baby and quickly stood. “OK, you spider-shits, I am ready for you this time. There’ll be no cocooning me….”
A blasts of some kind of energy erupted from the jungle across the brook, kicking up fiery dirt in small explosions arounds them. One winged Sam in the left arm as she dove behind some rocks. Another kicked dirt and fire up into the Major’s face, binding him. Doc dragged him to cover while Sam and Divs opened fire.
Alien screams and yelps could be heard as they opened fire on their assailants. Caught up in her own battle rage, Sam stood up firing the M60 wildly. Brass casings flew everywhere. A blast from the other side hid her directly in the midsection, dividing her in half. The M^ fell to the ground still in her grasp, silent.
Another blast came from a new direction as they alien assassins seemed to be flanking them, taking on the Major’s leg and then head. Divs grabbed the M60 from the upper half of Sam and laid down concentrated fire on the new flank, waiving to McCroy to fall behind in retreat. Doc took off running deep into the woods, looking back only to see Divs take a barrage of energy blasts, falling to the ground with holes burned clean through his upper torso.
Doc never felt more lonely.
He had found cave hidden deep along the hillside. It is there he found this large piece of metal from the fuselage of an aircraft. Stenciled on the metal was Lt. Taylor, US Navy.
Pieces of the aircraft were littered in this cave all over, scavenged for various purposes to turn the cave into a long term shelter – fire place, tables, chairs and a radio connected to batteries. The Engine was even here, apparently used on occasion to charge the batteries or used for some other purpose. The remains of a human male sat in a makeshift chair nearby. This was the flight commander of Flight 19. Lieutenant Charles Carroll Taylor.