Copyright (c) 2016 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Jeff and Tracy both turned and ran toward the GTO headlights still glowing on the side of the gravel road a hundred yards away. A distorted reflection of the hitchhiker they’d dumped in Vegas, swinging upside down and naked over a fire, flickered across the GTO’s burnished coachwork. Their feet moved in sluggish slow motion. An insectile buzzing came from inside the transparent dome partially buried in the forest floor behind, and the breathtakingly beautiful girls, all of them identical enough to be Sorcha’s fraternal twins, were closing fast. Long fingernails tore at the boy’s legs, feet and hair. “This is your home now, this is where you were meant to be,” a dozen sultry voices insisted. From behind came the screams of Bluecat as he once again passed through the flames. The headlamps of the GTO were very close now but it was too late. The smell of damp loam covered them as a dozen grasping hands caught and pulled them to the forest floor.
“Wake up!” Tracy reached across and jerked the steering wheel just as a semi-tractor trailer roared past the careening GTO. The angry truck driver had obviously been trying to blow them off his oncoming lane with an air horn.
“What the Hell?” Jeff gripped the wheel, jammed his foot on the brake and skidded to a stop his heart still pumping from … a dream? The stereo was blasting the Who’s song Going Mobile …when I'm drivin' free, the world's my home.
“You’re wasted!” Tracy’s eyes showed white all around as he opened his door. “You better let me spell you off.”
Jeff staggered out of the car and lumbered to the other side, shaking his head and trying to come awake. His feet moved like they were still in the nightmare, slow and sluggish. “It was a horrible dream,” he told Tracy. “Sorcha and a bunch of girls who looked just like her were going to eat us.”
“We all have to die sometime!” Tracy grinned as he started the car. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”
The thick forest rushing past on both sides of the road seemed to be crowding the two lane highway. Jeff felt exhausted, but way too scared to close his eyes. He didn’t want the strange visions to come again. He slid out the rolled-up plastic sandwich bag filled with weed they had hidden under the shifting console and rolled a lopsided joint with shaking fingers. The back of his neck throbbed where the fork shaped mark had appeared the day before. Jeff pushed in the cigarette lighter and then ejected Who’s Next and put in The Rolling Stone’s Sticky Fingers while he waited for the dash lighter to pop out. His ears were begging for something softer. Jeff lit the joint, inhaling deeply as he pressed the track button and cycled through the four songs playing at the same time. He blew a cloud of smoke toward Tracy just as the highway left the forest and rounded a rocky cliff-side showing the moonlit Pacific Ocean to the left … things are not what they seem Please, Sister Morphine, turn my nightmares into dreams.
Tracy pulled onto a gravel road that led to a secluded beach area. “I think it’s better if we sleep on the sand rather than in a morgue,” he said referring to their near miss with the truck.
“People don’t sleep in morgues,” Jeff yawned. “They just act like they are dead.”
“And every performance worthy of an Oscar,” Tracy told him as he stopped the car.
A large wave rolled onto the rocky beach about every minute; Tracy and Jeff placed their sleeping bags a safe distance above the wet sand and receding foam.
“Ever wonder if there is any intelligent life out there in the vastness of space?” Tracy asked as he folded a jacket to make a pillow.
“If there is, it didn’t come from Earth,” Jeff said turning the dial on a transistor radio. “Think of all the politically retarded people who are voting for a crook like Nixon.”
“If I ever saw a UFO, I’d walk right up to it.” Tracy told him.
The rock group America was singing A Horse with no Name.
“There has to be at least a million other planets out there with intelligent life on them …” Jeff mused. And then he laughed. “Tracy Gold the other white meat! With that many life-forms, they can’t all be vegetarians.”
And the story it told of a river that flowed … made me sad to think it was dead …
They talked for almost an hour and then the conversation slowed. A full moon rose over the Pacific during a long silence and chased away all the lingering stars to the east. A gentle breeze tried to coax another laugh from the two almost men … but they were gone away to another world. The ocean is a desert with its life underground … and a perfect disguise above …
Long scissor-like appendages pulled Tracy from the sleeping bag and lifted him high into the air. He tried to scream but his voice-box was unplugged. A creature resembling a ten foot tall praying mantis, and moving with a lurching insectile gait, dragged him along the beach. Another hideous apparition carried Jeff as they traveled across the wet sand toward a house-sized blue-green glowing sphere just under the water a dozen yards out from a rocky cliff-side in the distance. There were others, many of them coming from all directions. Tracy heard a muffled scream and grinding metal as another of the monsters ripped away both sides from an overturned Chevelle Malibu next to the highway and pulled out two people. A door banged open and an elderly man sprinted from a beach bungalow, dressed only in striped pajamas, pursued by at least three of the creatures.
A fire burned inside a circle of fallen boulders. Dozens of buzzing colossal sized monsters hunched in the surrounding gravel roasting fresh-caught meat on long metal forks over the flames. The goddess Sorcha stood on top a mountain-sized rock; apparently she was the only human not being prepared for a meal. “This really is the most amazing place in the world,” she told Tracy with a look of remorse, “but our food must always be clean.” Her voice became an insect like hum a buzzing sound that grew louder.
The two people from the demolished car were already being thrust into the water and scrubbed with needle-like appendages.
The cold water activated his vocal cords and Tracy managed a half bubbling scream through chattering teeth.
Jeff was laughing as he unzipped and crawled out of his wet sleeping bag. The wave of salt water that had rolled over them was receding leaving foam and clots of seaweed on the shore. “Being from Montana, we don’t think about things like high tide!” He lifted Tracy’s wet bag by the foot end and dumped him onto the sand. “Next time, I pick where we camp out!”
Tracy gathered his bag and the jacket he’d used for a pillow into a wet bundle and picked up the now buzzing radio. He shook his head as they stumbled toward higher ground trying to shake out the nightmare. A second wave washed over their ankles and sucked the sand between their toes as it receded. “Without that wet dream we might have slept forever!” It was mid-morning the sun was climbing the sky. The beach was empty there was no glowing sphere, no feast … and no fires.
The turnoff sign read: Woodland 3 miles. “You think Sorcha is going to be waiting with the keys to the city?”
“Who cares?” Jeff told him. “I hope her home town at least has a Laundromat where we can wash and dry our sleeping bags.”
“With four-hundred nineteen people, they’ll be lucky to have a cop!” Tracy pointed to the welcome to Woodland sign that appeared around a last curve. A single main street lined with two-story brick buildings obviously built in the twenties and thirties loomed before them. Traffic was light but the first car to pass going in the opposite direction was filled with girls. At least four eager faces turned and stared, most were smiling; several hands waved “You’re going the wrong way!” Jeff joked trying to grab the steering wheel.
Tracy swerved into the parking lot of a used car lot and was turning around when a convertible MG pulled beside them. Both girls inside the tiny sports car were smiling. “Is it true what they say about boys from Montana?” A girl with a gleaming Goldie Hawn Laugh In grin and short shaggy-cut hair asked.
“You can torture me all day and all night, but I’ll never talk,” Jeff told her with a laugh.
“What is it they say about us?” Tracy demanded.
Both girls were giggling. “That men are men … and the sheep are scared,” the other girl blurted.
“That hurts,” Tracy said, dramatically clutching his heart. “I thought angels were supposed to be kind!”
“So you think we’re angels?” The first one asked, smiling and fussing with her hair.
“Is there a Laundromat in this town?” Jeff asked thinking about the wet sleeping bags.
“Follow us,” the girls said.
The Wash and Dry stood across the street from Woody’s Drive-In. They decided to get something to eat while their clothes were being laundered. “Two double cheeseburgers, two large fries, Woody’s special all-meat burrito, a large Coke, a strawberry milkshake and two apple pies,” Tracy told the girl who roller-skated out to wait on them. He glanced at Jeff. “You want anything?” The girl giggled. “No I guess my friend ain’t hungry,” Tracy told her.
The two boys watched as the girl skated back to the building. There were several other cars in the lot, all of them full of females. “You notice anything weird about this town?” Tracy asked as he lit a cigarette.
“All the girls look like they could be Sorcha’s sisters and there seems to be a serious shortage of guys in town,” Jeff told him.
“Not that I’m complaining,” Tracy said. “It just seems a little off.”
“There’s a whole universe beyond Cloverdale,” Jeff said. “Sometimes you really do find what you’re looking for.”
The girl on skates was back. “Sorcha decided to give you your food for free if you’ll roll us a couple of numbers,” she said. Tracy looked toward Woody’s building. A half dozen smiling and waving girls had their faces pressed against the large glass windows. Both boys recognized the hitchhiker they’d picked up in southern Utah by her smile.
Are there any parties going on in town,” he asked as he pulled the baggy from under the shifting console and began to roll the joints.
“There’s always a party,” the girl said. “We get off at eleven.”
The order was doubled when they got it. There was no way they could eat that much. They stored the rest in a cooler filled with ice and promised to be back when Woody’s closed. Two girls in a flat-bed farm truck pulled up next to them at the only stop-light. “You guys old enough to buy booze?” a pretty red-head asked.
“Of course we are,” Tracy lied.
They followed the girls to a California State Liquor Dispensary just outside of town. “That crappy fake ID you use in Cloverdale probably won’t work in California,” Jeff told him.
“I bet they don’t even ask for it, Mate!” Tracy tucked in his shirt and combed his hair back and under an Andy Capp hat he pulled from under the seat, before he went in the store. “My exquisite British accent gets them every time!”
“Are you two chicks going to the big party the girls at Woody’s told us about?” Jeff asked as they waited for Tracy. He was taking an extra-long time.
“Of course. We’re going with you,” the redhead said. “They were climbing into the GTO’s backseat when Tracy came out of the store smiling broadly. He looked at Jeff. “I told you I was born with overflowing charm,” he beamed as he passed the paper bag to the girls.
Just then a woman walking past who looked old enough to be a great grandmother stopped and hugged Tracy seductively as he tried to open the car door. “Next time you want me to buy you boys some booze … or anything else, just come right out and say so,’ she cooed.
Jeff’s face was in his hands trying to hold back a laugh as Tracy slid into the passenger seat. “Didn’t I tell you this town was full of women?” Tracy blurted.
Tracy was filling his pressurized can with water when Jeff Bland, leaning out the passenger side of a Plymouth station wagon, careened across the Conoco parking lot and soaked him with an APW fire extinguisher. Girls from both cars opened fire and the service station asphalt was turning into a lake.
“Haven’t you girls got anything better to do than try to drown two boys from the Big Sky State?” Tracy looked like he’d just climbed out of a swimming pool. He was obviously having the time of his life.
“The real fun doesn’t start until it gets dark,” a pretty brunette in the car said. She looked at a red and golden glow sinking on the western horizon. “We have a band and three kegs. Everything starts in about an hour.”
“Tracy and I need to shower and change our clothes before the party,” Jeff said as he climbed into the GTO. “We’ll meet you gals at Woody’s in about forty five minutes.”
“Need any help?” a female voice from the back of the station wagon asked followed by a chorus of laughter.
“You girls are going to give me a heart attack!” Tracy moaned. “But what the hell? We all have to die sometime!”
Six girls climbed from the Pontiac leaving the boys alone for the first time since they arrived in the small town.
“I’ve dreamed about this town all my life,” Jeff said as they unlocked room 419 at the forty-five-dollar-a-night Woodland Motel. He threw a suitcase onto one of the twin beds.
“I’ve only had one dream since we crossed the border into California,” Jeff said pushing the mattress to one side looking for cockroaches. His face looked uncertain as he remembered the nightmare where a screaming hitchhiker named Bluecat swung naked over a cooking fire.
“I think that’s all I’ve had!” A smile slid off from Tracy’s face, the first time he’d looked solemn in hours. A vision of a glowing green globe just under the Pacific Ocean surface made him shiver. “I don’t think we’ve met one real guy since we’ve been in this town!”
“There was that grease monkey at the service station who let us use his air compressor.” Jeff suggested.
“Oh please,” Tracy told him. “He had the longest eyelashes and hadn’t shaved since … never and I swear I could spot a pair of boobs swinging under those baggy coveralls.”
“But why the act? What could they possibly want?”
“A good time?” Neither boy laughed.
“This is a lot of room for just a shower,” Jeff shook his head trying to change the subject. “I doubt if we’ll be sleeping here tonight!”
“It’s time we grew up and put our fears behind us,” Tracy ordered as he held up a pair of tie dyed shirts. “Jimi Hendrix or Jerry Garcia?” he asked with a real laugh.
Jeff was driving. Tracy rummaged through the box of eight track tapes. He stared at the cover featuring the band members wearing orange make-up and body stockings on the label to appear as if they were posing in the nude, then put Three Dog Night’s It Ain’t Easy into the player. Widow carry on 'til the band is gone …Widow carry on 'til the band is gone … blasted from the speakers.
Sorcha smiled and waved as she came out of Woody’s with a group of girls. “This will be a night you’ll never forget!” she yelled. The lights of the drive in went out the same time the parking lot came to life.
The GTO was the last of nine cars heading into the deep woods. The reverberated rumble of a heavily amplified rock band tuning-up could be heard in the distance. Tracy turned down the stereo and rolled down his window to listen. “Something is not right here,” he said.
“The band sounds excellent,” Jeff said. “They’re live so they are not going to sound exactly like a recording.”
“That’s the problem,” Tracy said. “They sound exactly like the recording.” He turned up the volume on the stereo a new song had just begun to play: Want some whiskey in your water?
Sugar in your tea? The band in the woods was playing the same notes at the same time and singing the exact same lines.
“So we got a band that lip synchs to recordings. These things happen!” Jeff said.
“It’s not lip synching,” Tracy insisted. “He pulled the tape from the stereo and waited for a full twenty seconds. The band in the woods continued to play as he lit a cigarette with shaking fingers. They were close enough to see the stage … see the drummer strike the drums … see the pounding guitars … and the roaring fire. He reinserted the tape and then adjusted the loudness so the band outside and the recording in the car were both playing at equal volume. This is the craziest party that could ever be; don’t turn on the lights 'cause I don't want to see… The band in the woods was playing the same notes at the same time and singing the exact same lines.
“Turn around!” Tracy begged. “Let’s get the Hell out of here!”
“Are you crazy?” Jeff was staring at the girls already moving toward the car. “There must be a hundred beauty queens at this party!”
“Whoever they are, they can’t make males and they don’t know anything about music,” Tracy insisted.
“They? Who are you talking about?’ At least three girls were reaching for the door handle. Jeff smiled as he undid his seat belt.
Tracy reached across the seat and pushed down both his and Jeff’s door locks. “Look at the band … look damn close,” Tracy insisted.
The band was the standard motley group of ragged musicians except for one thing … they were all female!
Jeff started the car as a dozen fists with painted fingernails began to pound at the windows. Sorcha flung herself across the hood of the car, hanging onto the windshield wipers. “You’re not leaving already,” she said. It was not a question.
Her mouth opened wide and a long green tongue, forked at the end, slithered across the windshield dripping yellow foam that hissed a cloud of orange steam when it contacted painted metal. Mama told me not to come! The furious pounding of the drums outside sounded remarkably like an extension speaker. Her eyes grew large and reptilian as she stared through the glass.
With a bang the side window shattered. Jeff jammed the transmission into first gear and spun the car in a circle. The girl playing bass swung her instrument at the skidding car and broke off the radio antenna leaving a foot long gash in the hood just as the stage collapsed.
Exotically beautiful faces were already changing as growing appendages reached in through the broken windows. Youth and innocence were replaced with insect-like shells and dozens of eyes totally lacking the concept of empathy.
“Gaaaaahhhh!” Jeff stomped his foot on the gas pedal as a pair of scissor-like pinchers dug into his throat. The air inside the car smelled like a leaking truck battery. Tracy beat at the monster with his fists. The Pontiac’s heavy bumper bounced off a tree and then picked up speed. The volume on the stereo got jarred up all the way. I think I'm almost chokin' from the smell of stale perfume … Jeff jerked the wheel from side to side as he tore through a patch of wild raspberries and made it back onto the dirt road. The creature made a cry like fingernails dragging across a rusty oil drum as it lost its grip on the driver’s throat and tumbled with a buzzing shriek and a thump under the back wheels.
The crowd of transforming girls was already receding in the distance.
Less than two minutes later they were back on Pacific highway 101 headed north. The ground beneath the car rumbled and shook making the forest vegetation lining the scenic coastal route dance to the music. That ain’t the way to have fun … A glowing green and orange globe rose into the sky behind them. Both boys held their breath. Seconds later, the otherworldly ball of pulsing light flashed brilliant as it streaked across the sky growing smaller until it became one of the stars. The stereo was still playing although Tracy had turned down the volume. “Shut it off!” Jeff’s open mouth was gasping for oxygen as he pointed to the stereo.
Tracy ejected the cartridge and after staring at it for a moment tossed it into the trees flying past. It was beginning to rain. A broken wiper streaked the windshield. The water suddenly came down like a waterfall. “Some nights just aren’t that great,” he said as he rolled up his window.
THE END ???