A Halloween Thriller by Sherry Allred
Copyright October 2017 by Sherry Allred
Monday, October 9
Post 7: Dates and Schemes
Dayne sat in physics class listening to Mr. Bronson explain how to resolve a two-dimensional vector into its components, yet his mind was on Chandra.
Dayne dreamily smiled as he recalled the night before, talking about their families and laughing as they exchanged funny child-hood stories, all while eating ice cream blizzards and a basket of fries. Afterwards, he took Chandra home and walked her to the door. He had wanted to kiss her, but it was their first date and they had just met that day. He didn’t want to give her the impression that he was only interested in her physically and that their relationship was solely impelled by hormones. Although he couldn’t deny that he was physically attracted to her, he was especially fond of how candid and sincere she was. He loved her sense of confidence, and was especially impressed by her moral standards. He folded his arms onto the desk then rested his head on his arms, deciding how and when he would ask her out again. Suddenly, he noticed something unusual. The seat where Herman sat was empty.
By two in the afternoon, Case was still wearing the sweats he slept in the night before. He threw a frozen burrito in the microwave to cook and found a Pepsi in the fridge. All morning, he had been watching YouTube videos of Alex Jones, Joe Rogan, and Shane Dawson who were all notorious for discussing conspiracy theories. The videos all addressed various issues that were national news stories, but the plane crash was not amongst them. Apparently the story had not received enough media attention prior to its removal to interest anyone in making it a topic of discussion.
Case removed the burrito from the microwave and placed it on a plate and onto the small round table in his modest kitchen. He opened his Pepsi and took a sip, poking at his burrito with his fork. A text came in on his phone.
“Hey, I heard you were on leave for a couple of days. Want to meet for dinner tonight?”
It was his friend Linda. She must have tried to see him at work today and discovered he was taking time off. He had met her at a convention in Salt Lake a couple of months earlier and asked her out a few times. Once in a while she would come into the news station at noon bringing lunch, but it had been a couple of weeks because she was out of town. He really wanted to see her but tonight was not necessarily convenient. He texted her back, “I can’t tonight, how about tomorrow night?”
“Sure. Is everything alright? Howard said you were a little under the weather?”
“I’m fine, I’m just working on a project.”
“Glad to hear. See you tomorrow night.”
“I’ll pick you up at 6 for dinner.”
“Looking forward to it <3 ”
Case smiled and took a bite of his burrito, then his thoughts switched to the plans he had tonight. He was going to do a little investigating of the fire site on his own, which would require a little strategy to get around the government investigators.
Tuesday, October 10
Post 8: Undercover
After school, on his way to the gym, Dayne approached the office where a woman and a police officer were talking to the principal. He stopped at the door and listened for a minute.
“He never came home last night,” a woman explained, her voice trembling. “He said he was going somewhere to write. He likes to write poetry.”
“Where does he usually go to write?” the officer asked.
“Usually the mountains, he likes to hike the trails. He’s always come home in the past so I’ve never worried and I’ve never bothered to ask exactly where he’s going.” The woman broke down crying. “I’m a single mother, but I’m a good mother,” she sobbed. “I take good care of my children.”
“Yes, Mrs. Wagner, I’m sure you do.” The principal put his arm around Mrs. Wagner.
Dayne realized who they were talking about and stepped into the office. “Um . . . hi . . . are you talking about Herman?”
Everyone turned to look at Dayne.
“Do you know what happened to him?” the officer asked, stepping towards Dayne.
“No, but I saw him last night around seven . . . seven-thirty. Something like that. I was with a date and we hiked up to the V and he was there . . . with his writing notebook. We talked for a little while then me and my date left for Dairy Queen.”
“Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?” the officer asked.
“I need to tell my coach first . . . we’re conditioning for wrestling.”
The officer nodded. “Sure. Is there any way we could also question your date?”
“I can text her and see if she’s left school yet.”
“We can meet back in my office,” the principal offered.
“Alright.” Dayne texted Chandra then quickly headed to the gym to talk to the coach.
Case wandered around the men’s department at Walmart looking for some black clothing. He found a hoodie, but as far as pants or sweats were concerned, he could only find light gray or white in his size.
“Can I help you find something?”
Case turned around to see a middle-aged woman dressed in tan pants and a dark blue shirt with a Walmart logo on the top left. “Uh, no . . .” he awkwardly answered. Then he looked at the options for sweats. “Wait, yes . . . do you have these in black?”
The woman pulled down her glasses from off the top of her head and squinted through them. “Well, let’s see. Hmmm. Yes, I think we have a few things in clearance. Follow me.”
Case followed the woman through the men’s underwear aisle with slight uneasiness.
“Usually we have tons of dark sport pants in the summer, but being fall and all, they’re all on clearance.” The woman arrived at a rack that had a huge yellow clearance sign on top. She pulled out a few options. “Do you want shorts or capris or full length?”
“Okay, that eliminates these two.” She placed them back on the rack. “Now here’s a pair that even has a little opening in the front for . . .”
“Um, I need outerwear,” Case quickly interrupted. “How about those.” He took the Adidas running pants from her hands. “My size and everything,” he added with relief.
“Are you using it for a Halloween costume? That’s what most people are coming in for, with Halloween only a couple of weeks away. They’re especially looking for black clothing.”
Case threw the pants over his arm. “I guess you could say I’m using them to dress up.”
“I thought so,” the woman stated, proudly. “What are you going to be? A vampire? A pirate? Batman?”
“A secret agent,” Case answered, nonchalantly. “Thanks for your help.” He quickly whisked towards the cash registers.
Dayne and Chandra left the principal’s office an hour after speaking with the police officer and just looked at each other in awe.
“What do you think happened to Herman?” Chandra asked, a little spooked. “I mean, we heard that scream just as we got to the car and then you never found him after that.”
Dayne sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know. But it sounds like the police are going to investigate. Still, there’s something about those spiders that I just can’t get out of my head. I want to . . .” he stopped himself. “I don’t know.”
“What?” Chandra asked, curiously.
Dayne looked around to make sure nobody was around to hear and spoke quietly. “I want to go back up there and check those spiders out a little more closely, but the Feds are investigating so I’ll have to do it when it’s dark . . . I’m going tonight.”
“You’re going up there?” Chandra’s eyes widened. “What if you get caught?” She spoke softly.
Dayne shrugged. “I’m a kid. I’ll tell them I was going for an evening run . . . I’m a wrestler.”
“Well, be careful.”
Dayne smiled. He liked Chandra being concerned about him. “When can you go out again?”
Chandra tilted her head, and grinned flirtatiously, exposing her dimples. “Seeing that you’re busy playing secret investigator tonight, how about tomorrow night?”
“Alright. Dinner at 6?”
“Sure.” She paused, gazing into his eyes. “I guess I better be going.”
“Yeah, me too,” Dayne whispered, mesmerized. “. . .before coach thinks I totally bailed on him.”
“Text me when you get back tonight from checking out those spiders so that I know you got home okay.”
Dayne nodded, slightly lightheaded.
Chandra waved and left in the opposite direction. Dayne quickly turned and nearly ran into the wall. He shook off his trance and headed for the gym.
Case had just changed into his black pants and was slipping off his light-colored shirt when the doorbell rang. “Just a minute,” he hollered.
The door opened. It was Linda, holding a bag labeled Olive Garden.
Linda stared blankly at Case’s buff, bare chest. “Case?” she chuckled. “What are you doing?”
“Dressing.” Blushing, Case quickly slipped a dark t-shirt on.
“Did you say come in? Because that’s what I thought you said.”
Case sighed. “Not exactly . . .”
“Well, at least you had your pants on. You should lock your door when you’re dressing.”
“And you shouldn’t just walk in to someone’s apartment.” Case scowled.
“From now on, I won’t.” She laughed again.
“What are you doing here anyway?” Case was a little agitated with her unannounced visit. He really didn’t want her to know anything about his plans.
“I couldn’t help but think you weren’t feeling well. Remember, Howard said you were under the weather.”
“And I said I was working on a project.”
Linda frowned. “I brought dinner.”
Case softened. “Hey, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a jerk.” He stepped towards her and pulled her close. He looked into her eyes. “I’m just a little under pressure, with work and all.” He placed his hands around her face. He really had missed her and he had been so caught up in his own problems, he was overlooking everything else.
Linda stretched her arm down and let the bag gently fall to the floor. She placed her arms around his back and he kissed her.
The world seemed to disappear while they kissed. Afterwards, as Case leaned back and gazed into her eyes, he forgot where he was and what he had been previously doing. To be honest, he didn’t care anymore. He kissed her again, longer this time. Afterwards, he gently brushed his nose and lips against hers.
Linda smiled. “What’s the project you’re working on?” she whispered.
“I don’t remember.” He smiled, still entranced.
She picked up the bag again and sighed, dreamily. “Let’s have dinner.” She headed for the table and picked up the black hoodie that was lying across it. “Catch.” She tossed it to Case.
He caught the hoodie and was suddenly brought back to his initial mission he had planned that night. “Um, yeah . . . let’s eat, but I have to go somewhere in about thirty minutes.”
Linda cast a curious look. “Where?”
Case drew in a deep breath. “It’s an assignment . . . for work.”
“I thought you weren’t working.”
“I mean it isn’t exactly for work.” He threw the hoodie on the couch. “It’s work for a project . . . that’s not work-related. An extra-curricular activity, so-to-speak.”
Linda scrunched her brow, suspiciously. “Do you have a date tonight?”
“No. No, Linda. That’s not it at all.” He rubbed his hand across his mouth, nervously.
Linda placed the bag on the table, still looking at Case. “I don’t believe you. You have a date, and you don’t want to hurt my feelings. That’s why you’re not being honest.” She turned away. “I understand if you’re seeing someone else. I mean, I can’t expect that you were only seeing me. . .”
“Linda, that really isn’t it. You have to believe me.” He bit his lip and sighed. “I don’t know if I can tell you right now what I’m getting involved in. It’s not bad, and it’s not another woman . . . I promise. Nobody knows about it, only me.”
Linda turned to Case. “Now I’m worried. Are you in trouble?”
“Not yet,” Case chuckled, uneasy. “I’ll tell you when the time is right. Please don’t say anything to Howard or anyone else at the station. It will make things rough for me.”
“I won’t.” She studied his black attire and glanced at the hoodie. “Does it have something to do with the way you’re dressing?”
“Okay. I guess I will just wait until you can tell me about it.” She gave him a worried look. “Are you sure you aren’t in any danger.”
Case cocked a half smile. “Let’s not think about it right now. Let’s eat dinner.”
He stepped towards her and kissed her again before helping to set the table.
Wednesday, October 11
Post 9: Captured
After dinner, Dayne changed into some black sweats and a black hoodie. He wanted to remain as obscure as possible while checking out the strange spider tunnels. The longer he was out of site from the Feds, the more he could discover about this unusual species and maybe find a clue as to where Herman went.
“I’m going running, Mom,” Dayne announced, entering the living room. His mom and his eleven-year-old sister, Rian, were sitting at the kitchen table tackling a math assignment.
Monica looked up from the table. “Where are you heading?”
“Around the neighborhood . . . maybe take a trail.”
Monica raised her brow. “I don’t like you taking the trails in the dark. Some of the paths are pretty narrow, and it’s a long fall down the mountain.”
“I’m running, mom, so the narrow paths would slow me down anyway. I’ll only take the flat trails and the firebreak road . . . and I have a flashlight.” He pulled a small black flashlight from his pocket and turned it on and then off.
“Okay. Be careful,” she warned. “And don’t stay out too long.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll probably be back before Rian gets done with her homework.” He put the flashlight back into his pocket.
“Have fun, Dayne,” Rian brushed her long, light-brown hair back behind her ears. “And watch out for snakes and cougars,” she added.
Dayne chuckled. “I will, Rian. Have fun with your math.” He winked and headed out the door.
Case parked his car a couple of blocks north of the site and headed towards the firebreak road. If he could get above the investigators, he could survey the area to see where they were all situated. The backpack on his back contained a few things including an empty plastic peanut butter jar to capture a few of the odd looking spiders. He intended on taking them home to observe them.
After about fifteen minutes, Case arrived just above the cement V. About fifty yard away was a couple of bright construction lights where two men were talking. Case quietly crept in the darkness, as close as he could without being seen so he could hear their conversation.
The first man was dressed in suit pants and a white oxford with the sleeves rolled up. His tie was still on but loosened greatly. He had dark brown hair cut in an executive style and was an average height and build. The second man was almost a foot taller and slightly heavier. He wore casual clothing, almost as if he was on vacation. He was balding, with tufts of reddish hair on the sides and back of his head.
“Tomorrow night, Chief wants us to blast them all with pesticide,” the shorter man instructed.
The taller man rubbed his bald head. “I thought we were waiting, in case they led us to the mother ship.”
“The thermal and infrared imaging revealed that the tunnels don’t connect and they don’t lead to anywhere. As far as we know, these are just regular mountain spiders, and regular spiders aren’t going to take us to the mother ship,” the shorter man explained.
“If they’re just regular spiders, then why are we exterminating them all? Why not just leave them alone?” the taller man questioned.
“Because Chief doesn’t want to take any chances. If we discover that the ones we have collected for observation are indeed from the small scout ship that crashed, we’ll have a lot of trouble on our hands if we’ve left them to wander.”
“You don’t want to collect any more?”
“We already took a couple hundred. We figure that’s enough. Besides, we’re full to capacity as far as specimen containers are concerned.” The shorter man removed his tie. “Let’s take these lights down and close things up for the night.”
The two men began taking down the lights while Case remained motionless, hiding in the darkness and waiting for the men to leave.
Using the light of the waning moon, Dayne ran along the firebreak road until he got within fifty feet of the V. Cautiously he approached. Nobody seemed to be around so he headed towards the nearest spider tunnel.
Dayne knelt down by the web and pulled out his flashlight. He turned it on, shining the beam into the hole while cupping his hand around the light so it wasn’t easily seen. There was no trace of the spider. He looked around for a bug to throw on the web to lure the spider out of the hole. There didn’t seem to be any insect life around since the ground was burned from the fire. He got up and headed in the dark towards grass and brush that had not been burned. He knelt down on the ground and turned on his flashlight. He spotted a beetle and quickly grabbed it. He quietly headed back towards the web when he heard a noise. He crouched down and waited.
Someone in dark clothing was coming towards him. He didn’t dare move, and barely breathed. The person was getting closer until he was only a couple of feet away. The person was headed straight for Dayne. Three steps, two steps, one . . . he stumbled right into Dayne and fell over him.
“Ow!” Dayne exclaimed.
“Ugh! Who’s there?” It was Case. He had tripped over Dayne and now was lying on his back.
“Who are you?” Dayne asked, turning his flashlight on and shining it into Case’s face.
Case squinted. “I asked first. Hey, turn that off, or they’ll see us up here.” Case rolled over and sat up. “Well?”
“My name’s Dayne. I’m a wrestler. I’m just running for training. I always run up here during wrestling season.”
Case rubbed his chin. “A wrestler, huh? No wonder you felt like a rock when I bumped into you. He rubbed his shoulder that hit the ground first. “I just have one question for you? If you’re out here running, why were you crouching down on the ground and why are you dressed in black?”
“That’s two questions. And you haven’t told me who you are yet.” Dayne answered.
“Fair enough. I’m Case Andrews, a reporter from Fox 13 news. Now tell me what you’re really doing up here.”
Dayne sighed. “I’m not trying to cause trouble. I just wanted to check those spiders out. Those tunnels are not normal around here and there’s something strange about them showing up right after the plane crashed. I dressed in black so the Feds wouldn’t catch me snooping around. I promise I’m not trying to break into any houses or anything.”
“How did you know there were agents up here?”
“I was here last night and they told me they were closing the area off to investigate and that I needed to leave. There was another kid here also, but he never came down.”
“What do you mean?”
“A kid from school. I came with a date and he was already here . . . writing poetry and other stuff in his notebook. His name is Herman and he likes to write up here where it’s quiet. Me and my date left before he did, and when we got down to my car we heard a scream. I came back up to see what had happened and he was gone. Matter of fact, he didn’t show up for school today, which is another reason I wanted to come up here . . . see if there were any clues he left before he disappeared.”
“That’s strange.” Case rubbed his forehead.
“So, why are you here?” Dayne asked.
“I can’t tell you.”
Dayne gasped. “Oh, sure! I just spilled everything I know and you won’t tell me anything?”
“I’m a reporter. Besides, I know too much. I just heard two of the agents talking and I heard enough classified information to put a bounty on my head. They’d shut me up real good if they knew that I knew.”
“How do you know I didn’t hear the guys talking too?”
Case strained to see Dayne’s expression in the dim light of the moon in hopes to detect whether he was telling the truth or not, but was unsuccessful. He drew in a deep breath. “You’re bluffing.”
“Maybe. Maybe not,” Dayne answered intelligently.
“Whether you are or not, I’m still not telling you anything . . . except that I came to check out the spiders too. If you want, we can give it a go together.”
They both got up off the ground and crept towards the closest spider tunnel.
“I had a bug, until you knocked it out of my hand when you stumbled into me. I can find another one.” Dayne stood up and flipped his flashlight on, searching on the ground until he found one. He picked it up and brought it back to the web.
Case turned his flashlight on, cupping his hands around the light so it wouldn’t be seen by anyone else.
“Here it goes.” Dayne tossed it onto the web and they waited.
“Oh, I almost forgot. I have a jar to catch some and take them home.” He handed the flashlight to Dayne and then took off his back pack. He had just barely unzipped the zipper, when an olive-green colored spider leg appeared.
“It’s coming out!” Dayne exclaimed. “Where’s the jar.”
“I’m getting it.” Case pulled the jar out when he heard a sound.
“There’s someone up there!” a man hollered from a distance.
“We gotta go!” Case threw the jar back into the backpack and flung the strap over his shoulder. “Come on, kid!” He grabbed Dayne’s arm and pulled him in the direction he started running.
It sounded as though three or four men were chasing them.
“Stop where you are!” Someone commanded.
Case and Dayne kept running, flying uphill and north towards bushes and trees.
“This way!” Dayne uttered. He knew the area, and there was a hidden gully just on the other side of the thicket where they could hide in. They slid down the edge of it, five feet down to the bottom. They crouched down, breathing hard, yet trying to suppress their breathing so they wouldn’t be heard. The men chasing them passed them, but Case and Dayne remained quiet and motionless for at least fifteen minutes afterwards to assure they were no longer being pursued.
“Do you think it’s safe to . . .” Dayne began when something grabbed his neck from behind. He screamed out as he was being pulled backward by someone, or something. The arm that had wrapped around his neck and was choking him, felt strange, unlike any human skin he had felt before. The arm was plump and squishy, yet powerful enough to take a champion wrestler down. Dayne struggled to breathe as the arm’s grip tightened around his neck. He could hear Case running after him and felt him grab hold of his foot, attempting to pull him away from his attacker. Case held onto Dayne’s foot but was dragged on the ground behind him. The weight of Case’s body pulling Dayne against the captor’s arm, made it harder for him to breathe. He continued to pull with his strong arms against the arm choking him, gasping for air as he was whisked away to an unknown destination.
Finally, Dayne’s captor dropped him on the ground. Dayne gasped and coughed, attempting to sit up.
Case had held onto Dayne’s foot the entire time and was battered and scratched up from branches and rocks he had slid across along the way. He pushed himself up off the ground and looked up to see what it was that had latched itself around Dayne’s neck, and gasped.
“Dayne . . . we need to run!” He stammered, his face reflecting terror.
Dayne rolled over and looked at what Case was seeing. His face turned white as he was staring back into the eight eyes of a gigantic spider. He could see in the dim moonlight that the body was shaped like a human skull and its legs were smooth yet tough like the skin of a dolphin or an octopus.
“Come on, Dayne!” Case took hold of Dayne’s arm just as the spider extended its fangs and bore down on Dayne.
Dayne screamed out as the fangs pierced into his chest. Case looked around for a large branch and found one about two feet away from him. He grabbed it and thrust it towards the body of the large spider, attempting to impale it. But the spider swung one of its legs across Case’s forehead, slicing him with its sharp spines attached to the inner edge of its foot. Case flew onto his back, his head bleeding.
Dayne had felt pain at first as the spider’s sharp fangs sliced into his chest. Then his chest felt numb and the numbness moved up his neck and to his lips and face. He went limp and heard gunfire just as he blacked out.
Thursday, October 12
Post 10: A Venomous Deal
When Dayne awoke, he was groggy and didn’t know where he was in the slightest. As he became more conscious, he grew more aware of his surroundings, realizing he was in a hospital. Tubes were coming from his right arm, his nose and his throat, and he was hooked to a heart monitor. He tried to remember how he got there but he couldn’t. He attempted to sit up, but his body felt numb . . . paralyzed.
There were other people in the room, a man and a woman, and they were talking to each other. The woman turned and glanced at Dayne. “He’s awake.”
“Let’s see how he’s doing,” the man said. They approached Dayne.
“Hello,” the man greeted. I’m Dr. Robert Landing and this is Dr. Patricia Tarbanks. Can you move any part of your body?”
Dayne just stared, somewhat glossy-eyed.
“Try moving your arms,” Robert encouraged.
Dayne tried to lift his arms but they didn’t respond. He began to panic, causing him to gag on the tube down his throat.
“Just relax,” Robert calmly advised. “Believe it or not, you are improving and your feeling will eventually return. The intravenous fluid entering your body contains anti-venom to counter the venom that the spider injected into you. It also contains a steroid and antibiotics.”
Suddenly, Dayne remembered, with horror, getting bit by a giant spider the size of a monster truck. Tensing up, he gagged on the tube again.
“Please relax, like Dr. Landing admonished,” Patricia urged, “then you won’t gag. We have to put oxygen directly into your lungs through that tube until you are no longer paralyzed and you can breathe on your own,” the woman explained. “Keep trying to move your body, just stay calm when you do.”
Dayne tried to relax as he attempted to lift his arms again but his body still didn’t respond. He started to feel anxiety, wondering if he would ever be able to wrestle again. He shut his eyes and forced himself to be calm, imagining he was in his own bed and in his own room. After a few minutes, he fell asleep.
Dayne awoke an hour later. His fingers and toes felt tingly, as well as the rest of his body. He still had the tube down his throat, but he remembered what the doctors had said and tried to stay calm. He tried to lift his arms. It was slow and arduous, nevertheless he was successful. He focused on closing his hands into fists and then opening them again. He lowered his arms back down, relieved he was getting feeling back.
He noticed Case was slouched in a chair near his bedside, sound asleep. He had a bandage on his head above his right brow as well as a few small cuts and bruises on his face.
A nurse walked in. “Hello young man. I’m trusting you’re doing much better than you were when you first came in.” She smiled. “Let’s see if we can remove that oxygen tube yet. Can you inhale deeply for me?”
Dayne drew in a slow deep breath. His lungs pricked and tingled as air forced them more fully open. He blew out steadily.
“How does that feel?” the nurse asked.
“I think we can take the tube out.” She gently pulled on the tube and it came out.
Dayne gagged and then coughed a few times. Then he gasped, feeling like he couldn’t get enough air.
“Just breathe in steady,” the nurse instructed, placing an oxygen mask on his face. “Keep your breaths slow, deep and steady. In and out.”
Dayne did as she instructed.
“There you go. That’s the way.”
“Hey, partner.” Case had woken up and was attentively watching Dayne.
“How’re you feeling?”
“Terr-ble,” Dayne uttered, arduously; his voice extremely hoarse.
“Well, I’m glad you’re alive.” Case forced a subtle smile. “Hey, I don’t mean to change the subject, but are your folks going to be worried?”
Dayne began to panic again and started to hyperventilate.
“Slow and steady,” the nurse reminded.
Dayne nodded and went back to slow and steady breaths, trying not to think about how upset his mom might be. He looked around for a clock but couldn’t find one. He glanced at Case. “Wh-whut time . . . is it?” he slowly breathed out.
Case pulled out his phone. “Almost one in the morning.”
“My mom . . . she is . . . prob-bly worreed,”
Case nodded. Can you give me her phone number? I will call her and explain that you. . .” he stopped himself and shut his eyes, grimacing. How was he going to explain that her son didn’t come home because he got bit by a giant alien spider?
Two policemen sat in Monica’s living room as she tearfully explained the details of her son leaving for an evening run and not returning. He hadn’t taken his phone with him so she wasn’t able to contact him.
“Maybe he did take the narrow trails even though he promised me he wouldn’t,” Monica suggested through tears, clutching Dayne’s cell phone. “I mean, he’s pretty fearless, and he could’ve. Then maybe he fell down one of the mountain sides.”
“We’ll get a search party going first thing in the morning, Mrs. Hudson. In the meantime, we do have a couple of officers looking around the area tonight. We’ll be in touch with you. Let us know if he turns up and we’ll do the same.”
Monica nodded and walked them to the door. “Thank you.”
The officers left and Monica glanced at her son’s phone in her hands. She wondered if there might be anything in his notes that would give her a clue as to where exactly he might be. Sometimes his coach required them to record their home workouts. She swiped across the screen which unlocked the phone. Then she opened his notes file. On the top it said, “Date with Chandra on Friday night at 6.” There were a few notes about upcoming quizzes and homework assignments, but nothing more. She returned to the main screen and saw several texts from Chandra. She trusted her son. He hadn’t ever given her any reason not to in all of his seventeen years, and so she never snooped. But now she had a reason to look at his texts. She opened the first one and read, “Hey, are you back yet?” She continued reading each one, becoming more frightened as she learned new information.
“Hey, super investigator, I’m waiting to hear what you discovered.”
“It’s been a while. Are you okay?”
“I hope a spider didn’t get you. Lol.”
“Did you forget to text me when you got home? It’s getting late . . .”
“I’m getting worried. I hope nothing happened to you.”
“I hope you didn’t get caught. That would put a damper on our date tomorrow night. Lol.”
“Hey, I’m seriously getting scared. I hope you’re home and safe and just forgot to text me.”
“You better not have disappeared like Herman did.”
“Please text me. You’re making me crazy.”
“Good night. I’m going to bed. It’s super late.”
Monica’s hands trembled as she read the final text. She was anxious to call Chandra and ask what was going on but it was nearly two a.m. She would have to wait until later in the morning. She sat on the couch, unable to sleep, feeling her stomach tie in knots. After an hour, sleep finally overtook her.
Case studied Dayne as he drifted in and out of sleep. He seemed like a good kid and Case was impressed that he cared about how his mother felt. He still hadn’t called her; he wasn’t sure how to handle this entire predicament. Besides, he wasn’t feeling so well himself. Short headaches started emerging every few minutes or so. They only lasted about ten or fifteen seconds, but they were intense.
Dayne awoke again and groggily looked at Case. “Hey, did you call my mom?”
“Um, not yet. I’m still trying to figure out how to tell her without completely freaking her out.”
Dayne chuckled, wearily. “Yeah, I guess this is a little unusual to explain.” He glanced at Case’s bandage. “Did the spider get you too?”
Case huffed out a soft laugh. “Yeah, he didn’t like me meddling with his prey so he backhanded me with his foot.” He scrunched his brow remembering. “It had these thick, long, hair-like things like spines on the ends of its feet. They were not razor sharp but they could slice if they hit you hard enough. It earned me a dozen stitches.” Suddenly, a powerful pain shot through Case’s head and he leaned over groaning. It was more intense than the last headaches and lasted about thirty seconds. Afterwards, Case remained bent over, his head in his hands.
“Are you alright?” Dayne asked, concerned.
Case nodded. “Just a headache. Probably from the slice on my head. He sat up and blinked a few times to focus again. He looked towards Dayne. “So, you’re a wrestler?”
“You any good?”
“State champion for my weight last year. I guess I’m descent,” he grinned.
Case chuckled. “Yeah, sounds like your coach wants to keep you around.”
Dayne suddenly cast a curious look. “How come you’re still here? I mean, don’t you want to go home?”
Case’s expression turned somber. “Yeah, I do. He swallowed hard. But they kind have us locked up here in this handy dandy make-shift hospital. As soon as we’re both stabilized, we get to see what an interrogation by the government is like. Then, hopefully, they’ll let us go home.” Another painful headache occurred and Case doubled over, groaning again. It was twice as long as the last one and left him extremely exhausted.
Dayne’s eyes widened. “Do you want me to push the button for the doctor?”
Case shook his head, still bent over and recovering. He was breathing harder and his hands were trembling. He closed his eyes for a moment and rested. Then he sat up.
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah . . . I’m fine.”
Dayne thought for a minute. “What if that spider had some kind of venom in its spines that it could inject . . . like sea urchins do? Maybe it’s affecting you. They’ve been checking my blood for venom levels. Haven’t they checked yours?”
“No, I guess we all figured it was just a cut from a sharp part of its body, like a claw. I never thought of it being venomous like a sea urchin.”
Just then, Doctor Landing walked into the room followed by a nurse, and a man wearing a dark suit and tie. The nurse proceeded to take Dayne’s blood for another check.
“Hello, Dayne. How are you feeling?” Doctor Landing asked.
Dayne glanced at the nurse’s vial that was filling up with his blood from the port in his arm. “Relatively speaking?” he asked, with a slight jest.
The doctor chuckled. “Yes. Compared to what you felt like when you first awoke.”
“A lot better. And I can move my arms and hands a little.” He demonstrated.
“Good. You should continue to progress more rapidly from this point on.” The doctor turned to the man in the suit. “This is Agent Alex Porter and he is going to speak to you both for a moment. I will be back, shortly.” He turned to leave.
The nurse labeled the vial of blood from Dayne and followed Dr. Landing out of the room.
Agent Porter stepped forward. “Hello, Dayne.” He turned to Case. “And Mr. Andrews.” He shook both their hands. “Obviously, last night was a life-changing event for not just you two, but the entire world. Unfortunately, things are going to be a lot different for you both in the future because you were directly involved in an intergalactic crisis. We have been following activity from this species of extraterrestrial beings for the last decade and now we have finally come face to face with them. Unfortunately, we had to kill the first adult of their kind that we confronted, to save your lives. You have Agent Kelly to thank for that. He was the first to respond. You’re really lucky they were already looking for you guys when you trespassed.” He drew in a deep breath. “The good news is that we can now correctly identify the spiders that appeared at the crash site as colonies of young Hexatheloidea Galacticadea specimens.”
Dayne and Case both looked blankly at Agent Porter.
“In English . . ?” Case asked.
Agent Porter chuckled. “Of course. It refers to the classification of funnel weaving web creatures that live within another galaxy. Or, in other words, alien spider beings.”
“Yep, that’s exactly what I thought. I just wanted to make sure.” He cast a quirky look at Agent Porter, expressing his disbelief of it all. “Um, when can I go? I kind of want to get out of here before my date tomorrow night.”
“You won’t be leaving for a while. I would suggest you cancel your date before we confiscate your phone.”
“What?” Case stared at Agent Porter as though he had told an indecent joke.
“You have fifteen minutes, so I suggest you do it right away . . . I assume you will text her since she is probably asleep at three in the morning.”
Case stood up and stepped towards the agent, furious. “What is this? You have no right to keep me here locked up and confiscate my phone! What do you think I’m going to do? Post it all over facebook? And what if I did? Just because everything you see, hear, and speak is classified doesn’t mean the rest of us are bound by your restrictions of . . .” Case suddenly stopped, and grabbed his head. He cried out and collapsed onto the floor, convulsing.
Agent Porter rushed to the door and yelled out. “Robert! You’re needed in here!” He then knelt down next to Case.
“He’s been having severe headaches during the last hour and I’m thinking it was from that spider alien dude,” Dayne informed.
Doctor Landing dashed in and knelt down on the other side of Case.
“He’s been having headaches,” Agent Porter reiterated. “That’s what the kid says.”
“They seemed to be getting worse with each one,” Dayne added. “I was thinking that maybe the spider’s spines might have had venom in them, like sea urchins.”
Doctor Landing looked up at Dayne thoughtfully. “How did we miss this? We assumed that since there were no evident secretion glands, then there wasn’t any venom to be released.”
Several nurses and Doctor Patricia Tarbanks soon entered the room. Everything was instantly in chaos. Doctor Landing was calling out orders to the nurses. “Take a blood sample so I can see what he’s got flowing through his veins, and get an IV started now!” He looked at Doctor Tarbanks. “I need a sample of the spines on that alien’s foot. Have them sever one of them and take it to the lab to check for venom. We need anti-venom immediately! I just hope it’s not too late!”
Patricia quickly left the room to follow Robert’s instructions.
Case’s seizure stopped and he lay limp on the floor. An oxygen mask was placed on Case’s face and he was lifted up on a gurney then taken to another room, hooked to an IV.
Dayne was left to wonder if it really was too late for Case . . . and if they were ever going to let him go home.
Friday, October 13
Post 11: Texts Revealed
Chandra was getting ready for school when her phone rang. She picked up the phone from her night stand where it was charging. It was nearly 7 a.m. She saw the call was coming from Dayne and anxiously answered it.
“It’s about time! You never texted me last night. You had me worried!”
“Chandra,” a woman’s voice sounded. “This is Monica Hudson. I’m Dayne’s mother.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were Dayne . . .”
“I know; I’m calling on his phone. I need to talk to you.” Monica’s voice shook.
“Is everything okay?” Chandra felt a surge of anxiety rush through her.
“Dayne didn’t come home last night.”
The phone went silent for a moment and Chandra could hear sniffs and sobs from Monica. Chandra’s heart sunk and fear seemed to overcome her.
“I know you have school in half an hour, but I really need to talk to you right now. Is there any way we can arrange that?” Monica asked.
“Um . . . yes. This is more important. I can have my mom check me into school later. Would you like me to come to your house or do you want to come to mine?”
“I can come to your home. I am not sure how you feel about including your parents in our conversation, but I think it might be a good idea, if you’re comfortable with that,” Monica suggested.
“Sure. My dad’s at work, but my mom’s home.”
“Okay . . . can you give me your address?”
“I’ll text it to you . . . to Dayne’s phone.”
“That will be fine. I will be there as soon as I get my daughter up and going.” Monica only needed to wake Rian up and get her started for the day. Rian would make her own breakfast and get ready, then walk to the elementary school which was only two blocks away.
“Okay, see you.” Chandra ended the call and placed the phone on her night stand. She sat down on her bed, finding it hard to breathe. She had just met Dayne and was finding it easy to become very fond of him so fast. In addition to being handsome, and strong, he was kind, funny, candid, and valiant. Never did she think it was possible for something bad to happen to him, especially right after they were just getting started. She couldn’t help it but she could only think of the worst. She stood up and headed towards her mom’s room to let her know Monica was coming.
Dr. Landing studied the clipboard in his hand. He had been closely monitoring Case, who had remained unconscious since his seizure. The levels of venom in his blood were dangerously high. They were running through his IV the anti-venom that they used on Dayne as well as some hefty steroids, hoping that it would be effective. It had been several hours but Case still wasn’t responding to their attempts to stir or awaken him and they had determined that he was in a coma.
Dr. Tarbanks entered the room. “Here’s the report on their progress with the anti-venom.” She handed Dr. Landing a sheet of paper from the lab.
“Any luck?” he asked, nervously scanning the data on the sheet.
She shook her head. “Not yet, but they’re really close.”
“Let’s check his blood again and hook him up to life support . . . just in case.”
Dr. Tarbanks gave a startled look. “Life support? Is he improving at all?”
Dr. Landing shook his head. “It’s hard to tell. His vital signs are mostly unstable, but then once in a while they will read normal. It’s like he’s fighting hard. But I’d hate to outguess this thing.” He cast a distraught look. “It won’t look good if we lose him . . . a reporter from Fox 13! They will be all over this and the media will unveil us quicker than we can blink our eyes, no matter how hard the CIA tries to conceal this project. Then we can expect complete mayhem throughout the entire world.”
“I know.” Dr. Tarbanks sighed. “I’ll get on that blood draw and life support.” She left the room, leaving Dr. Landing very stressed.
Chandra heard the doorbell and headed towards the front entry to let Monica in. She introduced her to her mother, Lydia, and they sat down in the visiting room.
“I apologize for the short notice and the interruption to your morning, but I didn’t know what else to do.”
Lydia smiled, compassionately. “We understand and hope we can be of help. What exactly is going on?”
“Dayne went running last night and didn’t return. I saw some of the texts from Chandra and realized that his intent last night was more than just training for wrestling.”
Lydia looked at her daughter, surprised. “Chandra, are you a part of this?”
“No.” Chandra’s eyes filled with panic. “I had nothing to do with it. I’m as clueless as to where he went as you are. I was worried all night when he didn’t text me that he’d returned home from his run.”
“I’m sorry,” Monica began. “I didn’t mean to give you the impression that I thought you were to blame. I was just wondering about some of the unusual messages you sent him last night.” She pulled Dayne’s phone out of her purse and displayed the texts. “You mention something about him being an investigator . . . and then you warn him about a spider and hoping he didn’t get caught by someone . . . and then something about Herman disappearing.”
Lydia looked at her daughter. “Chandra, that’s all strange. It sounds like you know more than you admit.”
“And that Dayne was getting into some kind of trouble,” Monica added.
“I can explain everything,” Chandra said, distressed. “When we went out that first night, we hiked up to the V. There was a bunch of funnel spider webs and I don’t like spiders, so I was creeped out. There was also a boy up there. His name was . . . is Herman. He liked to write so he would go up to the V for inspiration. But he disappeared and didn’t show up for school the next day, so Dayne was determined to go back up to the V and investigate . . . look around. Maybe he could figure out where Herman went.”
Monica seemed a little relieved that it wasn’t worse than she thought, yet Chandra’s explanation still didn’t solve everything. “What did you mean when you said you hope he didn’t get caught? By who?”
“The CIA. They were investigating the plane crash and the fire that happened a few days ago.” She grimaced. “I think this is the only thing he did that was bad about it all. The investigators closed the place off and he was going to sneak up there anyway and snoop around.”
Monica’s eyes widened. “Do you think he did get caught and they have him in their custody?”
“It’s certainly possible,” Lydia answered.
“Well, it does sound better than him breaking his neck down a mountain,” Monica remarked, her fears somewhat allayed. “I guess I need to contact the police and let them know what I’ve found out.”
SURPRISE BONUS: I am posting Saturday’s chapter early! Enjoy!
Saturday, October 14
Post 12: A New Power
The anti-venom had finally been devised and Dr. Landing quickly added it to Case’s IV with the assistance of one of the nurses.
Agent Porter entered the room just as they were finishing up. “How’s he doing?”
“Barely hanging on,” Dr. Landing huffed out. “His blood pressure is at a dangerously low level and he’s stopped breathing on his own. I’m glad I had him on the ventilator. This anti-venom is our last resort. We’ll soon know in the next hour which way it turns but as far as him coming out of a coma, it could be days or even weeks.” He took off his latex gloves and wearily slid into the chair near the bed. He had been awake all night and was starting to exhibit exhaustion.
“You’ve done the best anyone could have done, doctor.” Agent Porter patted his shoulder. “Here’s the update on the kid. The police have been searching for him all morning and apparently they received information that he was meddling around our site last night. We’ll need to deliver him up soon with a good story.”
“Is the hypnotist here yet?” Dr. Landing asked.
“He’s on his way.” Agent Porter rubbed his chin. “We also have one of our doctors on staff at Lakeview Hospital that we can put the kid under his care so nobody gets suspicious about his condition.”
Dr. Landing chuckled. “Yeah, I admit it would turn a few medical heads for anyone to test his blood or inspect the wounds on his chest from the fangs of a gigantic spider.”
“We’ll admit him to the Hospital after the hypnotist does his thing,” Agent Porter instructed. “Once the boy has fully recovered, he can be released from the hospital, return to school, continue to wrestle . . . and join the ballet for all I care.”
Suddenly, Case opened his eyes, looking very alert.
Dr. Landing stood up and Agent Porter stepped towards the bed, curiously.
Case tried to sit up, but struggled because of the tubing.
“Looks like that anti-venom did the job!” Agent Porter remarked, marveling.
Case tried to pull the tube out of his throat.
“Hold on. Let me help you with that so you don’t hurt yourself.” Dr. Landing pulled the tape off that secured the tube to Case’s cheek, and proceeded to remove the tubing. Afterwards, Case sat up and looked around, appearing confused. “What’s going on? Where am I?” He didn’t recognize the room he was in.
Dr. Landing pulled out his stethoscope. “You’re in a hospital.” He took hold of Case’s arm opposite of the one attached to the IV. He placed the stethoscope on Case’s brachial artery and then wrapped the blood pressure cuff around his arm. “Do you know your name?”
Case looked at the doctor as though he were telling a joke. “Of course. It’s Case Andrews.”
“And what do you do for a living?” The doctor inflated the cuff and listened with the stethoscope to Case’s pulse.
“I’m a reporter for Fox 13 News. Why are you asking me that?” he questioned, sounding annoyed.
“To see how mentally aware you are.” Dr. Landing gave him an odd look. “Do you realize you have been in a coma for the last five hours?” He stepped towards the counter where the clipboard was and recorded the reading. “Your blood pressure is normal . . . it’s even excellent.” He raised his brow in astonishment.
“You can’t be serious. I was really in a coma?”
“And on life support. Why else do you think you were hooked up to all those tubes?” Agent Porter leaned on the counter, matter-of-factly. “You nearly died.”
Case thought for a minute and scowled. “But that’s impossible. I was just talking to you a few minutes ago.”
“That was at three in the morning.” The agent took his phone from his suit pocket and held it up.
Case gasped. “It’s eight o’clock! What’s going on? It seems like nothing happened. Last thing I remember was you threatening to confiscate my phone. Where is my phone, by the way?”
“You’ll get it back when we release you,” Agent Porter assured.
“And when is that?”
Agent Porter shrugged. “We’re not sure. You kind of threw us for a loop when you went into seizures and fell into a coma.”
“Well, if you don’t mind I’m not waiting around for you to figure that out. You don’t have any authority over me anyway. If you’re not willing to release me from the hospital now, I’ll do it myself.” He started to pull the IV out of his arm.
“Stop, Case! You don’t want to take that out.” Dr. Landing grabbed hold of the reporter’s arms to keep him from yanking out the catheter. “That’s what’s keeping you alive!”
Agent Porter called into his earpiece for security and then rushed towards Case to help restrain him.
Case resisted and tried to break free of their tight hold; not because he wanted to take the IV out, having learned how critical it was to keep it in, but somehow the shuffle instinctively made him want to fight to escape their relentless grip. Suddenly he felt his entire body rapidly heat up. He quit struggling to get away, wondering what was going on with his body, while the agent and the doctor still held him securely. His hands, feet, and abdomen burned and his eyes felt dry like on a hot summer’s day in a desert. Case trembled as the heat in his body escalated. Finally, a strange energy exploded from within him, throwing the doctor and the agent several feet back and onto the floor. Agent Porter’s cell phone flew out of his suit jacket and blew up.
Case’s body immediately returned to normal temperature and he sat on the bed gaping at the men on the floor. “What just happened?” He was completely spooked.
Dr. Landing and Agent Porter both sat up, dazed. Two military officers dashed into the room and headed towards Case.
“Don’t touch him!” Agent Porter commanded.
The officers halted and waited.
“He’s lethal.” Agent Porter pushed himself up off the floor and helped the doctor up. He looked at the remains of his cell phone scattered everywhere and approached the reporter, cautiously. “Don’t move. Just stay where you are. And, Mr. Andrews, I would advise that you take me serious. My guys have guns.” He gestured towards the two officers, standing at attention.
“I’m not moving . . . I . . . I don’t know what happened.” Case started shivering from the dramatic temperature change that took place in his body.
Agent Porter nodded. “Well something has apparently transformed inside of you. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, we are yet to discover that. Are you willing to cooperate with us and let us examine you to find out exactly what’s going on?”
“Yes.” Case nodded. Truthfully, he was afraid of himself and wanted them to find out what the strange heat in his body was.
“That means you won’t try to leave again or we’ll be forced to put you in a bomb-proof holding cell, and the cement walls aren’t very comfortable. That’s for your safety as well as everyone around you. If you cooperate, we won’t have to take drastic measures. Do you understand?”
Case nodded again, his trembling becoming more violent. “It’s so cold,” he uttered, his teeth chattering.
Agent Porter stepped out into the hall. “Can you bring this patient some warm blankets?” He entered back into the room.
The doctor sat in a chair, rubbing the stress from his forehead. The agent patted his shoulder. “You should get some rest.”
“I think I will.” The doctor slowly made his way out of the room, looking like he was ready to drop where he was.
A nurse entered with a couple of large blankets that had been heated in the warmers.
“Just set them on the edge of the bed and don’t touch the patient, whatever you do,” Agent Porter instructed.
The nurse did as she was told and left the room.
Case wrapped the blankets around him and shuddered as the warmth started taking effect, calming him. He looked at Agent Porter. “What about my work, and Linda?”
“My date tonight.”
“I’ll take care of everything.”
“Fine.” Case scowled. He didn’t like his predicament, but he felt helpless and decided it was better to cooperate. He lay back on the bed and shut his eyes, breathing deeply as the blankets warmed him.