THE SQUATCHES OF MADISON COUNTY

 

Here’s proof that I actually finish what I start.  An awesome Facebook writer’s group that I am lucky enough to be in, holds a weekly Short Story Sunday event. About a week ago, I began working on THE SQUATCHES OF MADISON COUNTY. Today. it is done! It is my ‘tribute’ that is half syfy channel movie and half satire of what I consider the WORST novel ever written. Don’t take it too seriously.

Given it is 17 pages long, I have both posted it in full on this post AND will share it via PDF for people who don’t want to stare at a black and white blogpost to read.  Get the PDF HERE.

Also, for those of you unfamiliar with my work – this story is considered R rated for language, graphic violence, and brief silly nudity.

Thanks for reading.

 

THE SQUATCHES OF MADISON COUNTY

1.

He didn’t look like the rest of the men that worked at the power plant. There was a solid warmth to his silence – the smallest glimmer of cheer in his blue eyes. Sure, she had seen hundreds of red flannel shirts and brown beards stop in the shop for a thermos of Columbian dark roast before they started their 6 a.m. shift. Maybe it was the black camera bag he had slung around his shoulder or the way it he ordered a triple shot of Ethiopian espresso. He had done this before.
He didn’t watch sports.
He had a well-learned vocabulary.
Linda pressed the roast and waited for the filtered well water to run through the strainer, but her eyes were on the early morning stranger. He sat at one of the hand-carved wooden tables, looking over a VISIT MADISON COUNTY brochure.
Her curiosity broke the silence.
“Passing through?”
“More of a short stay.” He answered, “Depends on what I find.”
“And just what are you looking for?” Linda didn’t know where the words were coming from.
“Wildlife.” He said, making his way to the counter. “
“You with game and parks?”
“No.” He chuckled. “Nothing that official. I just have a hobby for it.”
Linda carefully poured the steaming brew into the waiting cup. Good thing she could do this in her sleep. Her attention was stuck on the stranger. He should’ve been cutting logs with an axe or living off the land, not bird watching.
“Well, make sure you come back in the morning for the best coffee in Iowa.” She chimed, almost worried that she’d never see him again. Silly thoughts.
“Will do.” He took a sip of fresh espresso. “That’s just good enough to come back for.”
With that he left, camera bag and all.
At that moment, Linda didn’t know that her life would never be the same but she hoped it wouldn’t be.

2.
“Goddamnit!”
Sheriff Trevor Banks wasn’t looking for trouble.
But it had found him.
Right on the tip of his pecker. After a long night of chasing meth heads out of the woods, he had stopped next to the first wide oak tree to take a piss. And there he saw it – lying in the blood soaked bush at his feet.
Carl Henderson – or, more accurately, Carl Henderson’s head – just there, looking up at his balls with a terrible scream frozen to its face.
Banks no longer had the urge to pee.
He radioed for back up, knowing damn well it would be at least twenty minutes before anybody showed up.
Banks zipped up, and walked the newly-discovered crime scene. A few steps away he found an arm, a leg, and a mess of guts tossed around the vegetation. It was Carl, alright. Banks spotted the man’s DENVER BRONCOS ball cap nearby.
Carl Henderson was a shady dude. He was familiar to Banks due to his love of driving his truck after a night of drinking, and exposing himself to the teenagers that frequented the woods. But nobody deserved to die like this. He had been shredded. Still, there was plenty of Carl Henderson still missing – a good sixty percent of him.
Then, a sound – footsteps crunching dead leaves behind him.
He drew his pistol, aiming it into the darkness.
“Sheriff! Stop right there or I’ll shoot.”
The crunching stopped. A deep voice answered.
“Deric McDowell – freelance photographer. I’m not armed.”
“Come closer. SLOWLY!” The portly Sheriff ordered.
Deric appeared with his bright red flannel shirt and fancy camera in hand. In that second, he saw the gore.
“Jesus Christ!” He was surprised to find such a sight in the peaceful Iowa woods. “What the hell happened here?”
“Don’t know.” Banks lowered his gun. “Maybe I should ask YOU?”
“Seriously?” Deric was appalled at the situation. “I was just taking some pictures. Been down around the creek all day. Making my way back out to my truck when I found you here.”
“Did you hear anything?” Banks asked, not sure about anything.
“Honestly, no.” Deric. “You’d think something like this would’ve been noisy as hell, but I didn’t hear anything but the owls.”
“Well, wait here.” Banks barked. “I got backup coming. We’ll need an official statement.”
Banks carefully nudged Henderson’s screaming head with his boot. It certainly wasn’t a clean cut. The flesh hung jagged around the reddish black tree stump wound.
“Goddamn tweakers!” He scowled. “I just chased a group of ‘em off not an hour ago. Should’ve busted ‘em while I had the chance.”
“No.” Deric squatted over the arm, snapping a picture. “This wasn’t done by a human.”
“You think a critter done Carl Henderson in?” Banks spat. “We haven’t had a mountain lion sighting in over a decade?”
“This wasn’t a mountain lion.” Deric replied. “But, I’ve got an idea of what did.”

3.
Linda was well aware of the gruesome death of Carl Henderson long before the stranger showed up at sunrise. Something was bothering him. His calm smile had been replaced with a clouded brow. Had she not been the only one who didn’t get any sleep last night? His camera was gone, replaced with a large stuffed backpack.
“How about I add another shot for free.” She said, as he swiped his debit card. “You look like you could use it.”
“Do I look that bad?” Deric forced a smile. “Guess you head about the murder last night?”
She nodded.
“Figures. I know how small towns work.” He almost sounded upset. “I came across it last night. Now, Sheriff Banks wants a bunch of us to head out into the woods. A ‘search and capture’ operation, he calls it.”
“That’s awful nice of you to offer your assistance.” Linda started his order.
“Didn’t really have a choice. Sheriff Banks needs all the help he can get when it comes to intelligence. I’m no Jane Goodall, but I have a good idea how creatures work.”
Deric stopped. He wanted to tell her all about his theory – explain his reason for coming to Madison County in the first place, but he’d only come off as crazy. Still, there was something about her that led him to think she’d actually believe him – an intelligence hidden in her, dare he say, pretty angular face and I-really-spend-an-hour-to-make-my-auburn-hair-look-like-I-just-threw-it-in-a-ponytail look. Intelligent women like her stuck in small towns like these weren’t pouring coffee because they wanted to. She had ended up here and was making the best of it. She probably spent her evenings with the words of Steinbeck and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Still, as liberated as she seemed, he didn’t want to let her into his world of cryptid theories and alternative history.
Shit, he was staring again.
Just then, a group of burly locals lead by Sheriff Banks busted in the door with their thermos’ swinging. It was as if an episode of Duck Dynasty came to life. Deric backed away, he could smell the Coors Lite and Tea Party politics thick in the air.
“Mornin’ Linda.” Banks yelled. “Give us your strongest stuff. We’re heading off into the woods to catch us a killer.”
His cronies mumbled half-awake behind him.
“I see you’ve met our new expert.” Banks giggled. “Bastard thinks we’ve got a bigfoot running around Madison County,”
Deric shriveled. So much for coming off as sane.
But Linda ignored the old bulldog fart in the khaki uniform. She was in no mood for such colorful conversation.
“Sad that Carl Henderson got killed.” She spoke softly over the buzz of the espresso machine.
“Yeah, we haven’t had a murder in this town in over ten years and I tend to keep it that way.” Banks did take his job seriously.
“Wasn’t that Brad Carlson?” One of the bearded brigade asked.
The place snapped silent. Sheriff Banks made an attempt to swat the inquiring goon.
“Sorry, Linda.” The man replied. “Brad was a good man.”
Linda said nothing, clenching her jaw as she poured Deric’s order.

4.

“I don’t get it.” Deric said, as the group of searchers stopped at the famous brick red Roseman bridge.
“The bridges?” Banks caught his breath. They were about to head into the swallowing grove of trees.
“I mean, they’re just bridges.” Deric pulled out his camera, snapping a few shots of the covered bridge, now standing sadly over a pidly stream next to the oval parking lot.
“Yeah well, without these bridges we’d just be another Iowa town.” Banks rounded up the men. “Writing that book put us on the map, by the time Clint Eastwood finished that film we were able to pay for a new Sheriff’s office.”
“The book was shit.” Deric poked. “I’ve read Hallmark cards with more depth.”
“Honestly, I never read it.” Banks replied. “Did see the movie though. Man, what I wouldn’t give to soak in a bathtub with Meryl Streep.”
The men entered the bridge. Although, it would’ve been easier just to walk around the thing. The sun disappeared briefly as they moved under its signature roof. Deric could smell the old wood and dirt that held it together. He noticed scratches all along the frail walls.
Bill Loves Emily
Seniors 2010 Rule
Hail Satan 666!!!
Suck my DICK JANICE
Then, he saw other incoherent signs – triangles and spirals scribbled up the white trusses.
“It is sad.” Banks continued. “There used to be 19 of ‘em. Then the world changed. Highways were built and these babies were useless. We had to move the bridges just to preserve them. We’re down to 6. Fuckin vandals and arsonists. They’ve killed ‘em. It cost over a hundred grand just to restore this one right here. Now, we’ve got video cameras monitoring them at all times, just in case.”
The privately-owned gift shop clumped to the side added a tacky charm.
“You say you got security cameras?” Deric asked. “Ever think of watching the footage to see if our killer is on tape?”
“Sure.” Banks huffed. “None of them work. Just for show.”
Of course.
The men had reached the trees.
“We’re spreading out from here.” Banks commanded the rag and tag party. “Three groups of two. Camera Man and I will lead. If you come across ANYTHING give a holler. Now, you’ve all been deputized, but I don’t want no dumbass shooting’ until I give the order. Understand?”
There was a grunt of agreement among the men.
And with that, they headed into the woods to find whatever had ripped Carl Henderson to shreds.

Deric scanned the woods for clues.
Banks tried to not trip over the underlying brush.
Deric was in his zone. An associates degree in ecology, and six years working for the Game and Parks Agency of the greater Rapid City area had made him well-versed in the ways of tracking. Honestly, he felt more comfortable out here in these woods than he did behind a desk.
But, Deric was on a greater quest for knowledge. He had spent the last fifteen years of his life studying the ways of the mysterious. He read books on cryptozoology, attended lectures held in Holiday Inn conference rooms, and studied the great cryptid trackers that went before him. Something had happened to him fifteen years ago. Something that he dare not discuss with this Bumpkin Sheriff. A tragedy that drove him all the way down to Iowa.
He stopped. There, in a patch of mud next to a moss-covered oak, was his first clue – a giant footprint. It was classic sasquatch at least 36 inches long and 12 inches wide complete with toe impressions.
He snapped a picture.
“You still convinced we’re looking for some tweakers?” He snapped at Banks, pointing at the print.
“Fuck me.” Banks shook his head. “You’re still set on that bigfoot nonsense?”
“It’s NOT human.”
“Probably bear.” Banks said. “I’d believe that.”
“When’s the last time you saw a bear in Madison County?”
“Probably long before I ever seen a bigfoot. Which is exactly never.” Banks pushed the wide brim of his hat with the tip of his revolver. “Why the hell would a bigfoot be all the way down here in Iowa?”
That was the million dollar question. That’s why Deric was here.
The sightings posted on obscure internet forums…
The killings…
Something squatchy had been going down in Madison County for the past ten years.
“Global warming, drawing them out of their natural habitat?”
Deric knew that sounded ridiculous as soon as it came out of his mouth.
“You are a liberal sonofabitch ain’t ya.” Banks laughed, squashing his boot into the middle of the print. “Now, let’s find some evidence I can use.”

They continued on, reaching the point where the trees choked out the afternoon sunlight. Deric slipped on a headlamp while Banks charged through the darkness. They had found nothing. Deric could hear the other men growing restless, telling dirty jokes and farting.
Then came the sound.
The hollow thunk of wood against wood echoing through the woods.
The famous ‘knock’.
The men stopped. Deric picked up a rather long branch and smacked it against a tree.
“What are you doing?” Banks was not amused. “You’ll give us up.”
“I’m communicating.” Deric explained. “You ever hear a bear knocking on trees?”
The time passed in silence.
Then, another knock – closer than the last. It was probably ten feet to their left.
Banks readied his pistol. Deric peed a little. Whatever was out there, it would soon show itself. Banks ordered his men to remain steady over the radio.
In future tellings of the story, nobody was clear on what came first – the screaming or the roaring, but together they were a terrible sound never to be forgotten. Deric and Banks bolted to their left to get a clear shot of what was happening. There was no way they could save the others.
They broke through a clearing, only to be greeted by flying body parts. Deric was smacked in the head by an arm that wasn’t his. There, not five feet in front of him, stood the beast. It was at least nine feet tall hunched over what was left of Buddy Carson – the town’s only used car salesman. Covered in black fur and matted with blood, the creature was busy ripping out all the squishy insides of Carson’s still screaming corpse.
The rest of the men circled around the scene. Frank Graham lay paralyzed in terror as the monster devoured his second cousin.
“What the fuck are you waiting for?!” Banks yelled. “FIRE”
And just like that, the air filled with the smoke of flying lead. Deric hit the dirt, not wanting to be clipped by a wayward shot. The beast stopped, merely irritated. It turned towards Deric giving him a clear look at its horrible face. It was a squashed thumb of purple brown flesh covered in teeth and flashing black eyes.
It was coming for him.
Closer, Deric could smell it – sulfur and fresh blood.
A thunderous boom rocked the earth. The roaring stopped. The creature fell to the gut-soaked ground. Randall Bevins (Madison County, Iowa’s best-known car mechanic) stood on the other side of the fallen creature. A rather large rifle sticking out from his side, still smoking.
“My daddy used this rifle to kill Buffalo back in the day.” He grinned.
The beast was dead.
The men cheered.
Deric slowly approached the sasquatch with a mixture of intrigue and sadness. Here it was, a rare specimen indeed – a lifetime of study – gunned down by a handful of rednecks in the middle of Iowa. It just laid there, its face stuck in a grimace of pain and surprise – a nine foot six hundred pound furry pile of loss.
He carefully clipped a hair sample and slipped it into a Ziploc bag. The stupid proud hunters rambled on about what they were going to do with it.
“Sheeyit, we’re gonna stuff this sonofabitch and stick him in the center of town!” Banks howled to the party’s agreement. Deric wasn’t so sure. This creature needed to be studied. He wasn’t going to let a handful of morons ruin scientific progress.
The men took turns standing in front of the sasquatch, posing for pictures with their trophy. The whole thing made Deric sick.
Their celebration would be cut short.
The shadows twitched behind the men. The air broke with the horrid cry of a wounded elephant. First it was Randall, then Frank – a line of men exploding one after the other, spraying the chilled outside with their insides. Revenge. Deric could see one beast, then another, then another…
“RUN!” He bellowed, but the remaining others were already ahead of him.
He took off, darting blindly through the darkness. Broken branches and bones scraping against his skin. That smell. That sound. The creatures were right behind him. He could feel their hot stinking breath against the sweat of his neck. The woods were nothing but a spiraling collection of howls and nightmares. The trees transformed into living things, set on keeping him from making it out.
What was it? Ten? Twenty? Thirty minutes forward? It could’ve been twelve hours. Deric ran with one thing on his mind – survival. Finally, he saw a break in the trees. A maroon lego structure in the distance – the Roseman bridge!
Somehow, that fat fucker Banks had pulled ahead of him. The two men pushed onward, until they were safely inside the bridge, then collapsed. Deric hit the boards, his lungs torn and his muscles on fire.
“How many of those things are out there?” Banks choked, rolling next to him.
“Three or four.” Deric replied, trying to catch his breath. “A hundred.”
They were foolish to think this silly wooden bridge would save them.
He felt something else. His head pulsed. It felt as if his brain was shaking inside his skull. His vision bubbled around the edges, slipping under purple water. A hum vibrated through his ears. He looked over at Banks, who was oblivious to the pressure change.
Deric dug his hands into the boards, chunks of black rock filled his hands. He was overheating.
At that moment, he saw the creature -a single sasquatch stomping out of the trees. The men were sure at that moment that they were dead. The mountain of fur and wrinkled flesh stopped at the other end of the bridge.
Banks fired a number of shots in its direction.
Then, as quick and clear as it appeared, the creature was gone.
Broken, Deric crawled towards the entrance of the bridge. His truck was out there somewhere. He had to get to that damn truck. It meant survival.
On hands and knees, he pushed out onto the concrete. The world filled with a blinding white light. This meant two things: either he was dead or about to get ran over by a car.
Deric passed out.

5.

He came to surrounded by the pleasant warm softness of down pillows. His eyes opened to a dimly lit world that smelled of cinnamon and apple. He had died and gone to old fashioned heaven.
“Deric?” A woman’s voice flowed through the amber atmosphere. “Deric? You’re awake.”
He instantly recognized the comforting face that swam over him.
Linda, from the coffee shop.
“I think so?” Words struggled to form.
She had found him unconscious at the bridge, taken him home, and nursed him back to life. He could feel the tightness of bandages crisscrossing his chest. His forehead burned with antibiotic ointment.
“Sheriff Banks? The others? Where are they?” He asked.
“Banks was able to drive himself home.” Her face clouded. “The others weren’t so lucky.”
The terrible incident crashed back behind his eyes. The roar of the beast pounded his eardrums.
“I’ve got to get back to the bridge.” He snapped, trying to lift himself up.
His legs were nothing but aching jello.
“Just lay here, you’re safe.” Linda reassured him.
He wasn’t so sure.
“I need my bag. I have to make some phone calls.” Deric was still in fight mode.
“You don’t have to do anything but just stay here and get better.” She smiled, rolling down the covers to get a complete picture of the damage.
Oh Jesus, he realized he was naked except for his boxers.
He grabbed her arm.
“Stop it.” She giggled. “Nothing I haven’t seen before. Besides, who do you think undressed you and put you to bed.”
He hated being so vulnerable. First, he was chased by a group of man-killing sasquatches, now he was exposed to a rather beautiful woman. He didn’t know which was worse.
She had to admit, it was more than a tending to his wounds, that drove her to strip the mystery man. The slightest twitch of excitement sparked behind her ribs. He was quite the specimen, not like the beer bellied simpletons that she served every morning. He was broad, toned like a man who made his living outdoors. Yet he felt safe. There was a comfort to his smile and bright blue eyes.
She ran her hands carefully down his chest covered in black curls. There was strength to him – security. Linda made it all the way down to where things got interesting before he stopped her.
“Linda.” He sighed. “I don’t think this is very….”
She quieted him with a gentle kiss against his forehead.
“…scientific.”
“Shut up.” She ordered. Her face directly in front of his. “It’s the best medicine.”
He surrendered, kissing her full on the lips.
Yes, Deric was well aware of an animal’s need for physical pleasure.
Of course, the two of them made love. They made love like two middle-aged people that haven’t made love in over ten years do. They stumbled, fumbled, and felt the discomfort of cracking joints. They laughed as they tried and failed to recover their teenage acrobatics. There was the pain of Deric’s injuries and all the unpleasant odors of biological preparedness. But, Linda offered him a loving touch he had not felt in decades and he gave her all the measured carefulness a widow could ask for.
They carried on right there in Linda’s bedroom well into the night, oblivious to the glowing eyes that watched them from outside the window.

The entire universe consisted only of the two new lovers cradled together in the bathtub. Linda cuddled the adventurer between her legs as he rested his head against her soapy breasts. The water tinted pink underneath the soap bubbles due to his slight blood loss. Two glasses of YellowTail Pinot Grigio rested on the side of the tub.
It was story time – time for Linda to finally open up. She owed him that much.

“My husband.” She started.
“Brad Carlson?” He asked.
“Bradley Franklin Carlson.” She nodded. “I loved that man. The town loved him more. He came from a long line of money, but he sure as hell didn’t act like it.”
Linda sipped the wine. Deric could sense a drop in her body temperature.
“We met Junior year at Iowa State. He was an engineering student…smarter than any man I ever knew. So, we got hitched and moved out here to be close to his family. He put all of his engineering skills and even more money into this town, restoring the bridges, building the new jail etc….”
“He bought that coffee shop for me -fifth anniversary present. He knew how bored I was out here and he wanted me to have a ‘hobby’.” She giggled. “Don’t get me wrong, he was a good man, just busy all the time. He truly loved me, even after we found out I couldn’t have kids. That didn’t bother him. He just went out and remodeled the town square.”
“He was the town’s number one boy.” Her voice trailed with memory. “But, I saw a side of him nobody else did. I knew there was trouble.”
“Trouble?” Deric was trying to stay interested as his lover spoke highly of her husband.
“He had problems. Depression, I guess you could call it. Really bad. He wasn’t violent or angry. He’d just lock himself in his office for days and not speak a word to me. He’d go for long walks in the woods.”
She sighed. Deric felt a tear roll hot down the back of his neck.
“Then one day he didn’t come home. I knew immediately that something was wrong, but his parents said just give him a little more time. I didn’t. I sent Banks out looking for him. They found his car abandoned next to the Roseman bridge. Then…nothing.”
“It took six months – six whole months of not knowing anything – six months of living with a hole inside my stomach. Two hunters found ‘him’, although there wasn’t much left of him, just some bones half buried in the mud.”
“Did they ever figure out what exactly happened to him?” Deric asked.
“Nope.” She shook her head. “But since they only found half of him I assume it wasn’t anything natural.”
Of course, Deric was drawing parallels between Brad’s weird demise and the events earlier that evening.
“Well, after what happened to us out there I believe anything is possible.” He said.
“Call it strange.” Linda sighed. “But, I think you showing up here happened for a reason. We have to figure out what’s going on out there in those woods.”
Deric finished his glass in one swallow.
Did they have the strength to handle the answer?

6.
Deric was up before the sun. He didn’t want to bother Linda with his research. There was no way he was just going to stay in bed with his new lover when all this chaos was going on around him. He needed answers.
First things first, he had taken a picture of those rocks he had kept from the bridge and emailed it to a colleague who knew more about mystery rocks than he did. The rocks resembled small chunks of polished obsidian lined with green emerald veins. Now, in the faded hue of dawn, the veins almost seemed to glow.
He had also tried his best to draw out the symbols that covered the tresses. There was no way these cryptic markings were just the careless vandalism of some punks.
Despite Linda’s insistence, it was no act of chance that led him to this stupid town. It was a calculated journey of 15 years. Every single shred of data had brought him here. Back then he was a simple ranger for the South Dakota Game and Parks. He was content with spending his days tracking brown bears and his nights chasing local girls at the casinos.
Then, the bears started disappearing.
At first, he was certain it was just a case of asshole hunters sneaking onto the reservations. His investigation had made him plenty of enemies on both sides. Even after cracking the skulls of a handful of drug running poachers, he still hadn’t found any answers.
Then, IT happened.
Deric had spent the entire week camped out in the wilderness keeping tabs on a single brown bear. He waited for said band of hunters to show. And he waited. Nothing. Finally, on the eighth night, he got his answer. After it all went down, he wished it had been poachers. No, it was far more bizarre. It had been storming fierce that night. The sky was full of electricity and the ground was nothing more than liquid mud soaked under hours of constant rain.
A crack of lightning had struck his tent pole, sending him running out into the open. There, he saw the monster – the towering hairy beast that now chased him through the bridges of Madison County. It just stood there, looking at him. Deric froze, his rifle still back in the tent. Another flash of lightning lit up the sky and the creature was gone. That was it. The next morning, he drove back out to the spot only to find a half-digested bear and a trail of huge footprints that disappeared half a mile back into the woods. And those symbols – spirals and triangles burned into the grass where his tent once sat. He took pictures and video of everything and turned them all into headquarters along with his account of what happened that night.
Nobody believed him. They accused him of hoaxing the entire thing. Already on their bad side with his constant prying, he was fired. All of his evidence had been destroyed by the government.
So, he spent the last decade or so traveling the country, working odd jobs, and posting his findings on internet forums. South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and now Iowa – they had all experienced similar phenomenon. But Deric always found himself a day late and a buck short. Now, he was tits deep in the middle of it.
There was a frantic knock at the door. Something important.
“Deric! Deric! I know you’re in there! Put on your pants and open this door right now!”
It was Sheriff Banks.
He opened the door to find the lowly lawman shaking in his boots, a bandage wrapped around his head.
“You gotta come see this!” He hollered.
“See what?”
“The bridges. They’re gone!”
It all made sense now, at least to Deric.

7.

“Got the call this morning.” Banks spoke while he guided the speeding Bronco through the streets. “Security company that’s been watching the bridges called the station…said some crazy shit was going down at the bridges – said they were shootin’ straight up into the sky. First Hogback, then Holliwell, and Cedar. I made it out to Imes bridge just in time to see it with my own eyes. The whole ground shook, and then…then… the bridge blasted fire out of the bottom just like a goddamn rocket! BOOM it flew right off. Believe me or not, I don’t rightly care. I know what I saw.”
Soon, the buildings of the town disappeared behind the truck, as Banks hit the highway.
“There’s only one left, far as I know.” He cried.
Roseman, it’s where they were heading now.
“I knew it.” Deric mumbled to himself.
“You KNEW it?!” Banks struggled to keep the vehicle upright. “Then perhaps you should start explaining it to me, ‘cuz we got five whole minutes before we get there.”
“Well, I figured it out just this morning.” Deric explained. “I found some rocks when we were at Roseman. I was going to get them analyzed but looks like I ran out of time. These rocks, they were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’m pretty sure they were an unknown element from…from outer space.”
“Outer SPACE?!” Banks squealed. “Like aliens and shit?”
Deric ignored the terrified Sheriff.
“There were also these weird markings. I’ve seen them before in South Dakota. I figure they’re some sort of ‘cosmic code’…”
“And what about all them sasquatches.” Banks asked, taking the last exit before the bridge.
“Well, they tend to show up in places that have a lot of recorded ‘ufo’ phenomenon. A connection CAN be made.” Deric couldn’t believe how easily he was having this conversation.
“Fuck me, we got bigfoots from outer space.” Banks slowed the truck. The Roseman bridge was just ahead, still on the ground. “That’s great. How do we kill ‘em?”
“Not sure we can.” Deric replied. “You saw what happened last night. Who knows how many we got running around in these woods.”
“Wrong answer.” Banks stopped the engine.
The air was soaked with electricity. Greenish grey clouds slowly swirled around the bridge. Deric could feel the currents tickling his body as soon as he stepped out of the Bronco. Banks pulled a couple of shotguns out of the back and handed one to Deric. Deric felt naked without his bag full of gear.
The two men made there way to the bridge, not sure of what was going to happen next.
But Deric had a pretty good idea.
It wasn’t good at all.
The trees were shaking, rolling with an unseen force. Then, he saw the creatures breaking through the brush. One, two…ten…an entire army of Sasquatches heading right towards them.

Linda was ten minutes behind them.
Banks knocking at the door had stirred her awake. By the time she made it into the living room the two men were already gone. Deric’s laptop was open on her coffee table. His bag of gear sitting neglected on the floor.
The police scanner she had kept running on her kitchen counter since the day Brad disappeared, cracked with urgent voices.
“Banks….all available units….Roseman bridge. Bring all weapons…..fuck…call the National Guard!”
She threw on some clothes and blew a kiss to the picture of Brad that hung over the front door.
It was time to solve this mystery.

8.

By the time she arrived at the Roseman bridge, the apocalypse had already begun. Patrol cars were strewn about like children’s toys. Gunfire rang out from every direction. There were men off in the distance, screaming as they were being disemboweled.
What the hell was happening in Madison County?
Then, she saw Deric. He was hiding behind Sheriff Banks’ Bronco not ten yards away from her reloading a shotgun. He spotted her.
“Get away from here!” He screamed. “It’s not safe!”
But it was too late. A blur of black fur and blood smashed against the windshield of her Subaru before she even had time to think. The shattered glass sprayed across her shocked face. She was now inches away from the monster – a howling hairy giant right out of her camping nightmares.
Something pulled her from the car. She was on the concrete and looking up at…Deric.
He fired a round into the sasquatch’s chest, knocking it back at least five feet.
“You’ve got to go, now.” He ordered, firing at another monster, then another. The world was full of those horrible things.
“These things killed my husband.” She replied, getting to her feet. “I need to be here.”
“Fine.” He gave up, tossing her a Glock pistol. “Then you might as well be armed.”
There were so many of them. Linda didn’t want to admit that they were surrounded, but the odds were stacked against them. She shot wildly into the air.
“We have to get to the bridge.” Deric yelled over the carnage. “It’s our best shot at surviving.”
He wasn’t about to admit to her that he had absolutely no proof in the truth of that statement. Still, he pulled her against him and the two backed their way towards the last remaining covered bridge in Madison County, shooting every step of the way.

Inside, the bridge almost gave them a sense of security. The sound of pure howling bullet-riddled chaos was gone. There was only the slight hum of an unknown power source. It was coming from the boards below their feet.
The bizarre symbols began to light up one by one, until the entire bridge interior was lit up green and blue.
“What the fuck is happening?” The always calm Linda was losing her shit.
“The bridges – they aren’t bridges.” Deric explained, moving them towards the center. “They’re spaceships. Those sasquatches are…well, these ‘bridges’ are what brought them here to Earth centuries ago. I figure we must’ve spooked ‘em when we killed a couple last night. Now, they’re heading back.”
“So, you’re telling me we’re on one big spaceship, right now?” She screamed over the hum.
“In theory.” He replied. “Now, find a spot to hide. We can pick them off as they come in.”
“What if the spaceship takes off while we’re still on it?” She snapped, jumping against the wall where she was hidden behind a large truss.
“If you got a better idea, I’d like to hear it right now.” Deric growled, and found a spot across from Linda. “Now shut it. I think they’re coming.”
But they weren’t coming. The sounds of giant gears and machines groaned to life behind the walls. Linda’s stomach slipped down around her ankles. She felt as if she was on one humungous elevator racing to an absurdly high penthouse floor.
The bridge was lifting off the ground.
Then, to add to their hopeless predicament, the ends of the bridge started to rise. The doors were closing.
They had to abandon ship pronto. Deric shrugged a giant ‘fuck it’ and hopped out onto the middle of the vibrating structure. Linda followed. They had about five feet of hole to roll out of before they were shut in completely.
They headed for the opening, escape was only a few steps away.
However, they weren’t alone. A single beast leapt from the rafter above, smashing the ground as it landed right between them and the closing door. Deric knew just by looking at the creature that it was some sort of ‘master’ squatch. It rose to over ten feet of grey-white hair. It’s skin underneath was beet red and its eyes burned green.
Deric fired a single shot at the creature’s wide chest. The bullet sparked against the flesh, exposing a shining silver skin underneath. Of course, the alien bastard was a cyborg. The shot barely stunned the super squatch. It erupted in a digitalized roar, flailing its massive arms in the air.
“Run!” Deric howled at Linda. “I’ll distract him.”
Linda bolted for the door, trying to avoid the beast’s electrified mass.
The monster swung a face-sized fist, cracking her squarely against the back of her head. Linda crashed hard against the wall. Her world glitched fuzzy. With her out of the way, it charged towards Deric. Deric kept shooting to little avail. The bullets merely swatted away like flies.
Closer.
Deric crouched to his knees, fishing the last two shells out of his flannel shirt pocket. Now, the beast was standing over him, watching the human squirm with slight amusement. There was nothing Deric could do at this point.
“RUN, BABY!” Were his last words as he jumped on top of the killer giant.
But, Linda couldn’t run. She was still groggy from the hit to her head. It was all she could do to sit there and scream as she watched on with horror. The squatch raised Deric over its head then slammed him over its enormous knee. Deric’s body tore directly in half, covering the walls with all the goodies that once kept him alive.
The second man she had ever slept with was dead.
The doors sealed shut.
She sobbed like she had never sobbed before. This show of emotion seemed to puzzle the sasquatch. Sadness was new to him. He crossed over to the woman.
“Kill me you hairy sonofabitch!” She screamed. “You killed my husband then you killed Deric. You might as well kill me too.”
But he had other ideas.
He picked her up as easily as a bag of groceries and carried her over to the far wall. A glass-like pod rolled out of the wood. He gently placed her inside the pod and just stood there, observing her.
The fight had left her. She was completely broken.
The craft shook as it began its ascent. Soon they would be far far away from the Bridges of Madison County.
Fuck it, she thought, I never liked Iowa anyway.

FINIS

NEXT: LIKE WATER FOR CHUPACABRA!!

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