Pennsylvania Avenue [a short story of horror and suspense on the White House lawn]
“Oh fuck, he’s got a gun!” Somebody screamed, high over the hustle and bustle of the mid-morning commuter traffic. It was a brilliant mid-June morning in the summer of 1976, and nary a complaint could have been made of the day. Until that is, that oddly shaky fellow had arrived, pushed from a long white windowless van into the bright daylight, waving that nine millimeters, and hollering for someone - anyone - to help.
Pennsylvania Avenue has a funny way of blinding a man. Of causing his skin to grow thick with callus, his mind to grow shrewd with impertinent rage - sometimes mislabeled as patriotism. And so those who did see him, either thought little of it or thought someone else would surely think more. And so for a time he just lay there, quivering like the last leaf, until, finally, he was able to bring himself to rise to his feet. He had to, after all, he knew that all too well. He had to - or she’d be dead. That’s what they had said, and by god, he believed him. At this point, how could he not? They had already gone this far, after all. What was one more life to the likes of them?
“It hurts, it hurts! Please, somebody, help me!” Carlos Masterson wailed, his voice deep and brimming with remorse. The heavy weight of the Glock perched foreign on the fingertips of his left hand. His whole body was wracked with tremors, and as he shook, his lungs released great explosions of mucus and breath. “Please, somebody, you need to help me!” As he screamed the words, his left arm shot perpendicular to his body, as if yanked hard but some great ephemeral string. From the end of it jutted the Glock, cocked and ready, primed to release itself upon anyone who was unlucky enough to cross its path that day. “I’m so sorry.” It was all Carlos could bear to say. In his jittering hand, the gun fired once. Then again. Not even knowing where he was aiming at, really. Hell, he didn’t even care. He was just doing what they told him to do. He would do anything, to save her.
And then they were on him. Where they had come from, or how that had arrived so quickly, Carlos would never know. Tall men in black jackets, dark sunglasses in front of their eyes, and malice in every inch of their expression. Carlos screamed, panic overtaking him as the men fell on him one after the next, each of them equipped with these strange yellow guns - held at the ready in their hands. The Glock exploded one more time. Carlos hadn't even meant to fire. One of the long dark men slid glumly to the floor, red and limp, body torn. He fell like that of some great beasts sanguinary afterbirth, forgotten and unused.
“He got Peters! The fucking cunt!” These were the last words Carlos Masterson ever heard as a free man. Electricity exploded throughout Carlos’ body as the agents fired. He fell limp to the ground with a sickening thud, his half unconscious breath rattling and hacking as he heaved his chest too and fro. He lay sickly, gasping at the air like a dog who has been kicked in the ribs one too many times by a baleful master. They had him now he knew it. And he was glad. His final thought before the blackness fully encapsulated his vision was that he had done it, that he had done what they had said. That she would be ok.
Carlos awoke alone. The room was threadbare and gloomy, one dim overhead light it’s only sign of relief. In front of Carlos sat a silver table and two small blue metal chairs. Those and the one-way mirror the Carlos now gazed remorsefully into (and from which he was sure they were staring back hatefully at him) were all that he had to accompany him in this most desperate time of need.
Clutching now at the arms of his own small blue metal chair, within which he was thoroughly bound, Carlos began to cough. Great retching heaves of carbon dioxide, complemented nicely by the long, lime green strings of mucus that now hung delicately from Carlos’ chin. “Help me.” Carlos whimpered, between his thunderous cacophony. “Help me.” He whimpered again. “Please! You have to run!” These final words shook out from Carlos’ flooded and downtrodden lungs. It was like that of a trains final sounding blast, before crashing home into the body of another. One last call for salvation. One last call to make things right, before it was too late. The explosions from deep within Carlos’ chest rang out sharply in the silent room. Steadily growing softer and softer, until they were naught but a sputter, and he was unconscious again.
When next he woke, the room had changed. The light that had been so mercifully dim before, now shone fluorescent and bright. It’s radiance gouged into Carlos like an ice pick to the forehead, blinding and hot. Carlos tried to scream, his air catching in his lungs as he did, causing him to double over as the great cascade of thick, tendrilous sludge spewed forth from his ruined and aching body, like viscera - pulled from the dying gut of some great wretched beast. Green and thick, like before, and now detailed finely with long thin swathes of bright red blood. Carlos moaned. “Help me, please!” It was all he could think to say. And so he said it over and over again, betwixt great heaving lungfuls of blood and snot, until finally, they came.
Space aliens? Carlos wasn’t sure. That didn’t make much sense, but here they were - clad in strange white suits - dark panels covering their cylindrical faces. Carlos tried to reach his limp and powerless arm towards one of the creatures but found he could not. Tied around his wrists and legs were heavy brown belts, pulled tight as to prevent even an inch of leeway. Carlos sagged, unsure of what was happening, only knowing that something was wrong. Suddenly it came flooding back. Sandra, his dear wife. And those men. The van. And that agent, lying dead and bloody before his feet. Tears began to well in Carlos Masterson's eyes. But at least he had done it. At least she would be okay.
The space aliens began to poke and prod at Carlos, their billowing white apparel swaying back and forth in the soft hermetically sealed air. “He’s awake” One of them spoke, it’s voice muffled against the thick material it wore. Carlos was surprised to hear that they spoke English, too. Quick, give him the shot. Carlos’ midsection was suddenly, unceremoniously, jostled to the side. He felt a brief stab in the left buttock, and all at once Carlos began to slip away again. Before his eyes closed for the last time, he heard one of the mysterious creatures say, “Did you hear about Phyllis? They say she might have caught it.” There was a subtle rasp to the things voice as if it was holding back a cough. The other responded carefully from behind its mask, looking down at Carlos’ pale lifeless body - at his thick, red and infected veins. “Oh god, I hope not.” The creature's voice came steadily, but the fear behind it was unmistakable. It let out a brief, stifled cough of its own. Then a moan. “Oh god, I hope not.”
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Image found on Pixabay
Written by @matthewmunseyart