Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Body Snatchers

An old man named Ronnie walks down a quiet road on the outskirts of a small Midwestern town. As he burns through a pack of cigarettes he notices the stench of death in the air. At first he assumes a possum or raccoon’s splattered remains are hidden along the road, the wind blowing the stench to his nose. As he walks the smell grows stronger, maybe it’s a larger animal, a deer perhaps. And then he hears the sound of distant clanking metal, scraping clicking grinding mechanical sounds, somewhere in the dark ahead.

He approaches an old abandoned factory with a large graveyard to the side of it. Distant strange shapes are outlined by the yellow haze of a security light near the middle of the cemetery. The old man considers teenagers digging up bodies as a prank. Maybe it’s some diggers working overtime to move bodies to another site? A normal explanation tries to find its way into Ronnie’s head but nothing can explain those odd shapes and unusual mechanical sounds. The grave is dozens of yards off the road, a few security lights are scattered about, one near the edge of the grave where the old gravel road comes off the main street and weaves its way through the land of the dead. Ronnie decides to investigate and walks into the grave, careful not to trip over the gravestones. He approaches the odd shapes and noises towards the center of the large cemetery. A security light nearby illuminates the scene as Ronnie steps behind a large oak tree to avoid being noticed.

He drops his cigarette in disbelief as he sees what appears to be half a dozen large crab like things the size of cars, their bodies made of metal parts. He watches in horror as several use their mechanical arms to dig up graves in a systematic fashion. One pulls a coffin out of the ground, cracking it open like a giant peanut shell, scraping the body out and lifting the corpse in a suit onto its backside. It slowly and methodically moves down the old gravel road, making that odd clanking clicking grinding noise as its legs pull forward into the dark. Another one places the coffin back into the freshly dug hole, filling the dirt in and packing the earth flat. Others appear out of the dark and begin digging up other graves.

Ronnie carefully and quietly walks back from the dim illumination of the security light, afraid of being seen by these nightmarish devices. He hears one of them clicking and clanking along the gravel path closer to the old abandoned factory. He weaves through the trees and gravestones towards the sound, curious to see where it goes. Ronnie stands near a large stone as he watches the mechanical creature move to the edge of the grave. It climbs down into a stream that separates the graveyard from the factory. Its tall spider like limbs keep its machine body out of the water. After crossing the stream it pulls itself into a large circular opening of a drainage tunnel that leads into the ground, towards the old abandoned factory. He listens as the echoing clicking sound of its legs disappear and all that’s left is the noise of running water pouring out of the tunnel and into the stream.

Terrified, Ronnie gets back to the road, constantly looking behind him in fear of being followed by the mechanical spiders. He races towards the police station, a place he’s spent more than a few nights in lock up for various intoxicated reasons. He tells his story to a deputy who asks old Ronnie how much he’d had to drink that night. Angrily, Ronnie slams his fist on the deputy’s desk. “I’m not drunk goddamn it! Go out to Oak Hill Cemetery right now and you can see for your goddamn self!” Ronnie shouted at the officer.

The result of this outburst gave Ronnie a familiar room to sleep in that night, with metal bars for walls. After being locked up and told to sleep it off, Ronnie sat down on the mattress. He wasn’t entirely upset at being inside a cell tonight, at least it was safe from those things in the cemetery. An inmate nearby ran a cup up and down the bars of his cell, making a familiar clanking sound that old Ronnie went to sleep trying to forget about.

- - To be incorporated into that previously posted story idea.

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