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Zoomorphosis
***

DEC. 1, 2025 - Henderson, Nevada

It was a week before that one moron stole military equipment and launched lone-wolf attacks on Areas 23 and 14 in southeastern Nevada. Supposedly it was because the nut thought they were hiding alien technology in the far more infamous 'Area 51,' or so Richard had come to understand.

Before that incident, of course, Richard thought the guy was completely and tee-totally insane. Not a shred of reason remained in the dude's noggin.

That is, until the outbreak.


Richard was a recovering alcoholic. His wife had left him, Grace. And his family - including his nursing home-ridden father, Eustace - would not even talk to him.

So far he'd met some interesting folk in the halfway house, and his new medications were superb.

Amelia spit out her coffee. "This milk's spoiled," she rasped.

"There's a drink machine out back," said Bill.

The Doctor seemed shocked, and immediately stood up. "That's... not good, I'll let someone know," she said as she exited the smoking section.

Stanley shook his head. "Too much coffee."

Richard held up a hand. "I know some jokes, know how to make people laugh if it'll make you feel any better?"

Amelia was clearly not having a good day. She'd been in a bad mood since she woke up, and the sun was already going down. She simply shrugged.

"So, here's a funny story," said Richard after pondering for a moment.

"So, I got blackout drunk one night and decided, 'Hey, I'm gonna go trim the hedges.'" Stanley chuckled a little bit.

"I heard this one, heh heh."

"It was 3 o'clock in the morning," this got a smile out of Amelia.

"So, I trim the hedges. Next day, I get up and come to find out I didn't just trim the hedges, but I cut them all the way down - ALL the way."

Amelia was snickering a little bit, and Stanley was caterwauling.

"And it wasn't just MY hedges, but - apparently - I'd crossed the property line and cut down the neighbors's, TOO!"

Amelia laughed. Stanley laughed harder.

"So, I went over and confessed, and the guy looks out his door, nods, and says 'looks good.'"

Stanley was howling, and the counselor he'd been talking with about his ex-wife was now hollering as well. All of them were laughing their guts out. It was one of Richard's strengths in life - he always knew, somehow, the way to always bring a smile to someone's face.

***

DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson, Nevada

Richard got out the next day, and - as expected - went back to his usual civilian job at the local Air Force base in Mercury. The next week went by as usual; he'd get up, have coffee, drive to work, deal with the fix of the day, and go home.

He repeated this process as was expected until the attack, on Dec. 7, 2025. Even that day was usual - he went in, proceeded in lockdown protocols, attended the briefing, and went home.

Easy peasy.

It was the next morning that spelled a rude awakening.

He was awoken ten minutes before his alarm by an incoming call. Richard rolled over, groggily answered, listened to his supervisor, acknowledged, and hung up the phone.

As he lie there in bed, it began to dawn on him what an eventful day he was going to have.

Richard skipped coffee that morning, and went straight to the whiskey, pouring himself a glass. During his first drink, Richard ruminated on the words that had exited the phone earlier. His supervisor had told him that the attack wasn't the real issue, and that several hours earlier they had documented an incident within the Groom Lake sub-structure.

John didn't explain further, and over Richard's second glass, he raked his brain over what it could be.

He'd mentioned a 'black project,' something way above his security clearance, and climate change. Richard made the logical connection and suggested that it must have been something to do with attempting to reverse the process.

Something had gone wrong.

Richard downed his third and fourth glasses quickly, but still felt the anxiety gripping at him from all angles. He had been nearly four years sober, but today was different. John had told him to pack his things and get out of town, spend a night in Vegas, and then leave the state.

He'd moved to Hendersonville to get away from his gambling, and other, addictions. Richard had even managed to quit smoking, but the one that had followed him here in the end was - of course - the spirits.

But the more he thought about what could possibly spark an evacuation of such magnitude, a state of over three million, continued to send goosebumps rippling across his skin. There were no kids in the streets, and an eerie silence hung over the housing development. Regardless of the implications of the present set of circumstances, he wanted to check on his friends William and Vikki, who lived on the opposite end of the development.

Richard packed food for a week, clothes, some items of value, toiletries, and a shotgun he kept under his bed. He put that last item in the trunk.

Richard came to find out over the radio as he cruised through the neighborhood in his Audi, that just a few hours ago the United Nations and NATO had declared a nation-wide blackout in North Africa, and now this.

Whatever this was...

***

2 hours later, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson, Nevada

Will had just begun to dig into his porkchop when he noticed something odd about it. He'd taken one bite, and meanwhile Vikki was tearing into hers with ardent fervor.

He did a double-take between his own and her's, and immediately spat out his contents on the floor. Vikki reacted with disgust and horror.

"What the HELL is your problem, William?"

"I-it's moving!"

She looked down at her own half-eaten meal and immediately saw the same thing. Vikki began to gag and vomit the contents across the table uncontrollably. Within the regurgitation, she saw hundreds of squirming wormlike organisms, and the steaks immediately came to a form of horrific life of their own. As William stood rigid beside the table in stupefied terror, he realized that his wife of twelve years was dead.

The parasites began to burst from her throat, stomach, ears and nostrils. They writhed into harmony with one another, and her features began to contort as the worms fused together to form a new layer of tissue around her face and torso. Her screams became distorted into squeals and whines, and her face became elongated. Vikki's screeches and wails were soon joined by other inhuman sounds, and Will found himself no longer surrounded by normal every-day human beings dining out... but pig-people.

***

30 minutes earlier, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson, Nevada

Richard drove for over an hour after finding them not home, and tried asking around, but nobody was home. Those that were home, refused to answer the door.

Then he remembered, it was their anniversay today. They were completely unaware of the attack when he called them last night, and sounded incredibly inebriated. He deduced that they probably had no idea on earth that something was wrong.

He was on his way back, when he heard that a quarantine was being put into effect early.

"Why, John? Why won't you tell me what the precise fuck is going on here?"

John told him that Ricky's BBQ had become ground zero for a potential bioterrorist attack on U.S. soil, and that the whole town and surrounding area - including the Nevada Test Site, and his job in Mercury - was being shut down.

"Shut down? What the hell do you mean 'shut down,' are you saying I'm out of a job now, too?!"

"I'll explain everything when you get home?"

But Richard was furiously turning the corner onto his street as he said this.

"What?! When I get h-?"

He dropped the phone into the floorboard when his eyes saw a convoy of military vehicles and black SUVs spilling out of the driveway of a house that was being ardently searched.

The driveway was Richard's.

***

12:49 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson, Nevada

"That's about all we know," John finished. It took a good twenty minutes to calm Richard down, and explain the procedure. But, John only had about ten minutes of expose to go over.

"So, you don't know 'anything' about what happened at the BBQ place, and what killed my friends?"

John exchanged an uncomfortable glance with the CIA agent to his right. He spoke, "We're still not entirely sure, but... we have a theory."

Richard spread his hands.

"It certainly seems to me like we haven't got all day," he said with a sardonic chuckle.

"First of all, rest assured you still have a job - so long as we all get out of this alive. Second, we think the chemicals we've been putting into the atmosphere to counteract the effects of climate change upon the biosphere may have glitched out. With the data we have collected, we believe within the next 100 years whatever animal and plant life is left will have adapted to be completely hostile to any and all forms of human civilization and humanity itself."

"A reactive adaptation," said the Agent.

Richard pointed at the man. "Who is this?"

"Pete," said a man behind him, another Agent. Pete turned and glared at him, and the younger man appeared fearful.

"And who the fuck is that, Re-Pete?"

John stammered, visibly perturbed.

"You're about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle, you know that?"

"Okay - enough, look we know you're angry. But we've gotta get the h-"

John was interrupted by a loud crash and what sounded like an Olympic athlete running full-sprint. Richard heard someone yell and say something about a 'contact,' but caught only a brief glimpse of what looked like a velociraptor.

"What the fuck," was all he could muster before gunfire erupted outside followed by screams. The first volley of gunfire was interrupted by another. Then there were screams as the armored military vehicles and SUVs began to peel out.

Someone yelled, "there's a whole pack!"

Richard's eyes darted around. "Pack? Of wh-"

Before he could finish, John grabbed him and pulled him to the ground as the window and walling around it caved in and a gigantic 7-foot baboon-lizard creature tackled and pounced upon Pete, grabbing Re-Pete and slinging him into pieces like a ragdoll caught in a lawnmower, showering the room with his innards and blood.

Richard wrenched free of John and darted out the front door to see a trio of the abominations feasting upon the soldiers that remained. A fourth lie dead, surrounded by human bodies. Richard yanked John to a crouching position behind an APC, so that they would be out of sight.

"Rick, what the HELL are you doing?"

"I've got a shotgun in my trunk."

He looked over at his Audi, which was three vehicles away. "If we can use these vehicles for cover and as armor, we can make it, but we have to go-," he was interrupted again.

The Raboon leaped atop one of the vehicles, staring straight down at him, its talons tearing into the bulletproof kevlar like tissue paper. He was face-to-face with a creature that should not exist for at least another millennium.

The noises that bellowed forth from its gut sounded like a cross between a horse and a jackal, slinging thick ropes of drool and saliva across the pavement.

"NOW!"

They took off without a second to waste, but John fell behind.

"No... wait.... NO!"

It grabbed him by his ankle and threw him across the yard, followed by a blood-curdling scream. It looked like John had broken several bones. Others descended upon him. He was dead.

Richard raced over to his car and slammed the trunk open, grabbing his shotgun just in time to blast half of a beast's face off. Another one was immobilized by a shotgun shell to the legs.

As he was about to get into his car, the remaining one slammed into it like a semi, flipping the vehicle on its side. It leapt atop the Audi, screaming. Before it could pounce, it was taken out by a hail of gunfire.

Some of the Airmen had returned with an auto-cannon fixated atop an AFV. The door slid open, and Richard was beckoned to get in.

He did so without a moment's hesitation.

As the armored vehicle sped away, the cannon tore into the remaining creatures, but they were soon joined by what looked like a swarm - no a wave.

"This cannot be happening," one of the soldiers screamed.

Richard was too shaken up to try to lighten the situation, all he could do was hold his knees close to him and try not to hyperventilate.

After roughly twenty minutes of driving, one of the soldiers checked up on him.

"I'm Captain Horn, James Horn," he said as Richard looked warily up at him. "How you holdin' up?"

Richard sighed and raised his eyebrows, nodding his head. "To be completely fucking honest, I haven't had this bad of a Monday since last Monday."

Horn chuckled a little bit. "Heh, that's pretty funny. You good at jokes?"

Richard gave him an incredibly irritable stare.

"Sorry, I didn't mean - me and the boys have had a bad one, too."

"I heard that, asswipe," said a woman's voice manning the gun up top. She descended into the bay briefly to give him the finger. "Oh, hi. I'm Angela."

She then gave him two middle fingers before returning up top.

"I'll let that one slide, Corporal, since today is today. But next time, IT'S CAPTAIN ASSWIPE!"

Richard sighed, and said, "So two fish are in a tank, and one turns to the other one and says, 'how do you drive this thing,'" and the Airmen laughed their butts off. He could hear the pain in them though, and could tell that they really needed the laugh.

***

2:31 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

It had been overcast all day, but over the past forty-five minutes or so the sky had begun to change to a greenish-yellow hue, giving the illusion of it being later than it really was. On top of that, thick orange clouds began to hover on the horizon, and the sun was nowhere to be found amongst them.

"What in God's name is going on," inquired Angela as they unloaded their gear into the facility.

"Carnopapio vulgaris," said Captain Horn as he sat what looked like a trailer jack and an arm-full of sheet metal on the ground, before moving over to a cluster of steel beams. "That is what we just got done dealing with - Johnson, would you grab that sheet metal and bring it over to the south lock?"

"Carnoooo-what," asked Richard.

"Raboons, or raptor baboons. Makes sense, yeah?"

Richard shook his head. "No. None of this makes any damn sense," he said as he proceeded to gather an arm of equipment to carry over.

"Well, Dougal Dixon," he began again, as he followed Richard over to the base, "was a Scottish geologist and speculative geologist who was active in the 1980's and 1990's, and whatever the hell the government was getting up to in Area 51 has proved him largely correct."

"So you don't know what the hell's going on either, do you? That's what you're saying," asked a winded Richard as he sat down the transmitter kit.

"What I'm saying is, this guy knew his shit. Not me," he replied as he turned back to the others and ushered them onward. "Hurry the fuck up, I don't want to see another one of those things for as long as I live."

***

3:57 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

"What I'm saying is, this guy knew his shit. Not me," the words echoed in his head as Richard followed the motley crew into the bowels of the unlit dilapidated base.

"This emergency lighting has GOT to GO," said Johnson.

"Yeah, we just spent two-and-a-half hours setting up the defenses so that only we - us - humans, could get in, only to get into a fucking dark dreary asshole of a place."

"Secure that shit, Romero," barked Horn. "I need to be able to think clearly." He turned to Angela.

"Field, Johnson, you two go down to the sub-levels and get the breaker box working. Romero, Nixon, you two are on me. You might wanna go keep them two company with your shotgun, Richard."

Before he could reply, the Captain and his duo had disappeared down the hall at a brisk pace. Obviously they were counting on company.

***

4:26 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

After about twenty minutes of searching the catacombs, they found the power center. Richard was close enough to hear the voice among the static emanating from Fields's walkee. He heard him say that they needed the power from the interior to fuel the exterior systems so that they could detect incoming life forms and radio for evacuation.

"Yessir," she said. Another silence as he spoke inaudibly.

"Yep, Captain, I see it," she said as her flashlight beam danced over several switches - one red and one green.

"I see them," she replied, as her beam revealed two buttons of corresponding colors beneath the switches.

He heard him say to flip the green switch, and she did.

The breaker box flew open.

"Yessir," she said, and flipped a few breakers. The power to the room flipped on.

Richard then heard the Captain say that in order to flip the other breakers, she would need to flip the remaining switch and push the buttons in the correct order.

"Red switch, red button, green button," she inquired.

Horn corrected her.

"Green button, red switch, red button, got it." She looked back to the others, nodded, and went to work. A moment of hestitation followed her throwing the red switch, and she hovered over the button.

"Push the red button."

She did.

The entire floor was illuminated, including the lengthy corridor behind them.

They found it was not empty.

An ant the size of a large dog stood almost halfway down its length, its antennae fidgeting and twitching.

"What, the-"

"Shh," hissed Field. "Its sensory organs are based on vibrations in the air density."

Johnson looked around nervously.

"It means we can't move?"

"No, we have to be quiet," she rasped.

Its mandibles quivered, and it looked it Johnson's direction, their faces reflected in its large, wet, black lids for eyes.

"This... sucks," whispered Johnson.

"If Monday had a face, I would punch it," Richard replied.

Meanwhile, in operations, the trio were hard at work trying to find an optional source of power.

"If we don't find a way to get this base online ASAP, and get evac, we're FUCKED," yelled Nixon.

"Tell me something I don't know," replied Romero.

"Hopefully we'll get a signal and contact someone over at Groom Lake when we get power."

"Hopefully?"

"Look, Nixon, I'm Captain Horn, not Captain America!"

"Captain Asshat?"

Horn threw his walkee at Romero, and then sighed.

"I need that back, thank you..."

***

4:42 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

Everyone stood motionless, scanning the room. There were stains on the walls, and moss grew aplenty. Among the pipes and machinery, they saw no way out - until Field spied a small metal door about six feet high in the far wall.

Right as she was about to point, her radio buzzed to life.

"Corporal? This is Captain-"

Before any further words could be heard, the ant opened its maw revealing rows upon rows of razor-sharp fangs, and a deafening noise akin to scraping and circular saws replaced all sound in the room. The trio covered their ears in agony, before looking up to see the creature joined by dozens of his breathren spilling forth from every nook and cranny and swarming towards them in a living wave of red and black.

"MOVE!"

They ran to the door as Richard blew two of them away with his shotgun. It was too heavy for two people to move alone, so he had to join them and, together, the trio put all their weight into prying the door from its threshold.

One of the ants leaped upon Johnson, tearing his leg off, and the other two were thrown into it. The door swung open, the opposite direction, while Field and Richard were sent hurtling through into the stairwell.

"UP THE STAIRS, NOW!"

"JOHNSON!"

But there was no time, they hurried up those stairs so fast that they were halfway up in a matter of seconds, but it was still too slow. One of the mandibles caught Richard's ankle, digging into it. He screamed and fired his last round into the creature's face, and limped the rest of the way up.

As they struggled to close the door up top, the giant bugs managed to slam into it, their antennae sticking through the crack and the smashing of mandibles and drool so powerful it sounded like construction equipment, which even after they got the door closed continued to leave sledgehammer-sized dents in the metal.

Field sighed, but knew there was no time to waste as the Captain buzzed them.

***

4:48 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

"What the hell was that, you didn't lead them up here, did you?"

"JOHNSON'S DEAD," screamed Field, getting in his face, and then shoving past him to sit behind the desk and bury her head in her hands.

"We still don't have power, not all the breaker switches were thrown," said Richard.

"We have this," said Nixon, bringing up a portable laptop.

It displayed a three-dimensional layout of the base.

"Looks like there was an ant colony beneath us before the outbreak," he explained. "They grew in size, and burrowed beneath us up into the lower floors."

There were sighs and grunts of exasperation and disapproval. "But," he continued, "here's the good news. You got all the breakers we needed, but the final switch and button is somewhere in here, looks like..." he trailed off as his eyes settled upon the chair upon which Field sat in. She looked up at him from her hands.

"What?"

"Look under your chair, feel under it," said Romero.

She shrugged and did so.

"Oh," and a few seconds later the room was illuminated in light. The small green glow of the computer screen was replaced with a large display dominating the back wall. On it was a layout of the base, and the ant colony beneath it.

However, in the center of it all, was a large elongated signature several floors beneath the power center.

"What... the fuck..."

"The people at Area 51 had a network of tunnels connecting to all bases within a 150 square mile radius, they were studying marine life for their use in the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, such as with bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions... they wanted to add the giant squid to the roster."

For the longest time nobody spoke a word.

"We are so fucked," stated Romero.

"We won't survive if we don't find a way to secure the sub-levels," said Field. "Do we have any napalm or nerve gas?"

Nixon reached for his stun grenades. "I have these."

"And the armory has a whole supply of napalm, nerve gas and militarize quikrete if we can get down there," Captain Horn explained, scanning the blueprints.

"It's on the same level as where we just were, looks like," said Richard.

"With a swarm of ants, which your pet squid project just let in," yelled Nixon.

"Don't blame this on me, I still don't know what the fuck is going on any more than any of us," replied Horn.

"That's too big to be a fucking squid," said Richard.

"You got your shotgun," asked Field, standing up.

"Yeah, why?"

"Because it's me, you, and the Captain... sir," she said.

Horn sighed, pursed his lips and nodded vehemently.

"Let's get this over and fucking done with."

Richard cocked his shotgun.

***

5:19 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

Romero and Nixon stayed behind to observe the trio's progress through the surveillance cameras.

Most of the screens were too dark to make out, and if it weren't for the blueprints they'd have no idea what they were looking at - let alone where the cameras were.

Romero jumped slightly when Field shot dead one of the ants with a suppressed handgun, delivering one final round when it decided to twitch before dying.

"You'd think we'd see more types of insects by now," said Nixon.

"I wonder if they're here already and we just haven't seen them," Romero replied.

Nixon gave him a look like he'd just made a dead baby joke.

As if on cue, something lightweight but metal clattered to the floor from somewhere elevated, giving them both a fairly obvious start.

Romero cocked his handgun. "I'm gonna go check that out," he said.

"I'll hang back and watch the mon-" but before he could say anymore, he noticed a ghostly white human face staring back at him from the left-hand row of monitors.

Only it wasn't human, as the damaged lighting flickered behind it, its silhouette was revealed as hairy and hunched over. It had noticeable feline and canine attributes, with some meerkat and rodent traits. It's most striking feature wasn't revealed until it stepped into the light, however.

"Captain, you've got some of those monkey-dog things headed your way," Nixon said through the radio. But before he could say anymore, he was interrupted by Romero screaming and a flood of hundreds of rippling legs. A centipede the size of a large man had dropped from the ceiling, risen from the floor and encircled Nixon like a boa constrictor.

Romero screamed again, firing his gun, but before he managed to shoot the beast dead - Nixon had met the same fate himself.

"Noooo! BOB!"

***

5:37 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

"NIXON!"

Silence.

"Sergeant Robert Nixon, come in - do you read," and nothing replied once more.

"Today needs to chill the fuck out with all this Monday crap," said Richard.

"Everyone keep your guard up, Nix said something about one of the primates being nearby before we lost touch," said Horn. Richard responded with a simple sigh as they moved deeper and deeper into the complex.

As they descended deeper, the trio began to experience disorganized thoughts and delusions.

"What the hell?"

Field turned to Richard as he said this. "What? What's wrong?"

Richard was taken aback by her sudden hysteria and expression.

"What do you mean, I was talking about-"

She brought her gun up, aiming at him.

"WHAT THE F-"

"Get down," she said, before firing right over his shoulder into the wall.

Horn looked terrified.

"What the fuck is going on here?"

Richard explained the voices, telling him his thoughts were not his own, and Field explained what she saw.

"It was there, I SAW IT!"

"A ghost?"

She nodded, but agreed that something was outputting some sort of derangement frequency.

"Like a wavelength, some kind of wavelength put out by some form of organism designed explicitly to target higher cognitive brain function in larger pre-frontal cortex," she explained, her logic kicking on.

"But," she winced. "Its... I can almost FEEL it."

They agreed to report back to Horn, who was seemingly unaffected.

Eventually, they came to a point in the facility where the structure caved into an opening leading underground. A thick stench of decay wafted up from the hole, an eye-watering and pungent fume followed.

"That must be where they're coming from, goes all the way down to the water table. We need to-"

Before Horn could finish, he experienced a PTSD flashback and collapsed on the floor, screaming and convulsing in agony. Field screamed for Richard to help her with him, and he soon began to foam at the mouth, the milky white fluid spilling over his face.

"HURRY," she urged Richard who fumbled with the First Aid Kit, swearing the entire time. But before she could administer the injection, an orange-red tentacle the width of a hallway erupted from the depths of the hole and snapped out at them. Richard was launched against the wall, breaking his leg, and Field was knocked aside.

The convulsing and incapacitated Horn was unable to do anything, he could only move his eyes and look around as the gigantic limb enveloped him and yanked him into the darkness.

The ground below Richard and Angela gave way, and they rolled and fell down a steep hill into a gigantic cavern. Richard finally came to a stop next to a large white boulder after what felt like hours of tumbling, sumersaulting and vaulting by sheer momentum.

Only the boulder began to undulate and squirm, and that is when Richard realized how screwed they were.

They were inside of an ant nest, and surrounded by larvae and soldiers. It didn't take Richard long to notice this, for he didn't have to look far to see the queen ant - her swollen abdomen dominated the chamber room, and he could say or do nothing but advise Field to stand and stay still as they fixated upon her.

"We need to be careful," he whispered as quietly as possible. "Just stay perfectly, still, and, quiet," he urged.

"But, the Captain has the detonator," he replied.

"Exactly."


The tentacles enveloped his incapacitated body as they brought Horn closer and closer to the snaping, drooling, hungry beak of the 'land-squid,' he came to call it.

Horn's arms and legs were completely immobilized as the gnashing maw hovered just mere inches away from his head, snapping and gnawing at thin air.

Horn knew it was now or never, and he used the last - mustered the utmost 0f what remained of his strength to press the detonator right as he was raised into the creature's bone-crushing beak. The jagged edges of the mandibles bit down upon his pelvis as he felt his thumb pressing against the button.

Through tears and grinding teeth Horn looked dead into the beast's eyes, each the size of a room, and said, "checkmate."

Horn released the button.


Just as Richard had suspected, the deafening booms from above initiated a cascade of earth, rock and debris. The monstrous insects scurried into a frenzy, gathering their young and injured in their jaws and hurrying out of the way of the falling boulders.

Richard and Field had to act quickly. They made their way with a quick sprint to the collapsing hill, which had begun to fall away into a more even slope. Although it was smooth enough to walk up, they now found themselves dodging minivan-sized rocks hurtling at them at almost blinding speed.

And even though they managed to just barely make it to the top, a platoon of the monkeys and a Raboon were waiting for them. The towering seven-foot monstrosity tore through one of the ants, and then turned their attention on the humans before them.

Then Field did something that turned Richard's blood to ice. She jumped on the Raboon, pulling her weight and the beast down into the ravine below.

"Go! Get out of here! NOW!"

Richard screamed something, but that was about all he could do, because the cat monkeys were upon him. He made it back into the complex, slamming the door behind him.

***

6:41 PM, DEC. 8, 2025 - Henderson City Limits, Nevada

Romero could hear something. He knew what it was. The thing Nixon saw on the feed was getting closer. Each time he saw it, it was peering into a camera a bit closer to his position.

Every ten minutes or so, he saw it closer. And closer.

And now, he could hear it outside. He was trying desperately to reach Horn.

"Captain, come in. I repeat, come in. Over!"

Still, nothing.

He decided, as the scratching and gnawing and growling grew louder and more frantic with each passing second, to try something more drastic.

The Sanford and Sons ringtone reverberated throughout the complex and was immediately followed by a deafening beating, scraping and slamming. They knew where he was, and judging by how the door bowed and bent with each strike, he had about ten minutes before the monsters came cascading into the small room he had previously been hiding in.

And now, he would die in.

He answered the phone.

"What the fuck do you want?"

"Look, I... I don't know. I guess... I just wanted to hear a human voice one more time before I died, because... they found me, too."

Richard sighed, no longer flinching at the raucous thrashing of the beasts outside.

"Well, I guess that's fair, Romero."

He agreed, and another moment of silence passed as they contemplated their respective situations.

"Wanna hear a funny story," he blurted, almost without thinking.

"Yeah," Romero replied.

More beating, screaming and thrashing.

"One day, my boss told me to hit the pavement and go look for another job. Back in the day you could throw down an app and if they needed you they'd hire you on the spot."

Slamming.

Howling.

Scratching.

"Well, one day of the job search I got on the bus and come to find out a woman had pissed on the seat..."

Beating.

"When I told the employer, he said,"

Tearing.

"Well."

The door gave way.

The monsters came.

"At least she didn't shit on it."



Written by D. Compton Ambrose
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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