Stone Cold | By: Dallas Releford | | Category: Short Story - Mystery Bookmark and Share

Stone Cold

STONE COLD Mystery/Thriller Dallas Releford It sparkled! It vibrated. And, it burned his hands when he tried to pick it up from the frozen ground where it had fallen from a clear January sky filled with twinkling stars. And yet, Pete Mooney stood where he had been standing gazing down at it for the last twenty minutes trying to figure out what it was and what he should do about it. It pulsated as if it were alive. Pete stepped back. When the pulsations ceased he stooped down and watched it. Maybe this was something NASA had sent up, he thought, and it had come down. Greed overcame him when he began wondering what they would be willing to pay to get it back. Maybe they would give a hundred dollars? A thousand or a million, he reasoned. Visions of instant riches, spontaneous wealth and absolute power swept through his mind like a blazing forest fire. He sighed and stared at it some more still unable to comprehend what it was and what it was worth. “I got it,” he screamed as both hands clasped his face in utter astonishment. “Its not NASA at all, it’s an alien.” Feeling sorry for the little creature that was only about the size of a football—lying there in the snow probably freezing its butt off, if it had one—he leaned forward and patted it gently. This time he didn’t feel intolerable heat like he had before, except he did feel tingling in his hand like electricity was running through it and his arm. Before he fully understood what was happening his entire body felt as if current were rushing through it. And, he couldn’t let the damned thing go. It stuck to him like glue. It’s an alien, he screamed again. “Damned if it ain’t.” He was attached to the little creature. Or, the bastard was attached to him like a porcupine stuck to a thorn bush. Either way, they were totally connected. From the beginning of their association, it was an unhappy marriage. Even Pete Mooney didn’t want to walk around with a mate stuck under his arm, or attached to it. Realizing the implication of his grave situation, knowing he didn’t want a relationship with a wife that went everywhere he did, Pete frantically attempted to free himself from the object, to no avail. He was stuck. Remembering that his mother had told him he was a slow learner, he wished he had never seen the thing plunge from the sky in the first place. Desperate, Pete slammed the thing against a tree stump, put his foot on it and tried to pull his hand free except no matter what he did the thing continued to grow on him. Then, exhausted, he sat on the old stump with his left arm hanging down and the mass of quivering Protoplasm—still clinging to his hand—resting on the ground beside him. Was it protoplasm, or something else? Silicon? Flesh? Or, or was it some kind of carbon-based life form like he’d seen on Star Trek? In the light from a full moon that shone brightly from above and with the assistance of his able right hand, he managed to hold the blob up in front of his face where he could see it clearly. It was developing eyes, three of them. He knew what to do. Why hadn’t he thought of it before now? The thing—perhaps reading his mind—opened a long slit revealing dangerous long teeth, sharp and razor thin. Pete yelled—just as the mouth sneered at him—and moved the mouth away from his face a few more inches. Pete swore, something else his mother told him not to do, when he realized that the ball of, whatever it was, begun to take shape quickly forming a weird face. Now, it had two black orbs that he thought were eyes and a long mouth hiding sharp teeth that glistened in the moonlight. Two knobs on each side of its head suspiciously resembled ears. Pete had gone to college and became a biologist disproving his mother’s theory that he was a slow learner and a bumpkin. His education told him this thing was animate rather than inanimate. He also was fairly certain that it wasn’t a biological entity even though it was attaching itself to his body, like a leech. Except, it wasn’t merely attaching itself to his body, the damn thing was consuming it as if he was a prime steak and it was a hungry wolf. It was nothing more than cancer growing on the outside. Pete grew even more alarmed when he saw that the head had consumed—the word now had an ominous meaning—his hand and had claimed his arm all the way up to his elbow. When it reached his left shoulder, he supposed that he would resemble something from a freak circus with two heads. Pete inspected the vibrant mass that was now a head with ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Each vibration caused his arm to throb and he felt as if the current flowing through his body was stronger now than it had been before. “What is this thing, a generator?” he asked and then remembered that he had to kill it before it totally took over his body. How do you kill a stone? Except stones aren’t alive, are they? A squeaky voice answered from somewhere deep inside his mind. They are alive if they come from a world where silicon is the basic life form. How do I kill it? How? He looked up at the stars as if seeking an answer. The heavens were as silent as the monster hanging on his arm. Drown it? That thought had some merit, he thought. With that last thought casting a glimmer of hope into his mind, he jumped up from the stump heading for a pond dragging the big lump along with him. Several times he nearly lost his balance and fell, except he somehow managed to maintain his equilibrium and struggled on. The fact the pond was behind the barn surrounded by a barbwire fence didn’t appease the fear he had of sharp objects. Things didn’t get much sharper than barbwire. Except fear of being consumed by a monster was even sharper and more painful than barbs on steel wire. If he had a choice, he would rather face his mother, and that was saying a lot, except she was dead and somewhere else. He was here wishing he were somewhere else. Finding a gate he forgot was there, Pete rushed through it, knelt by the pond and plunged the head that was now part of his arm into icy waters. And, screamed until he was hoarse. He couldn’t hurt the damned thing without hurting himself. That thought made his mind pulsate like the creature. His mind, numbed by jolts of electricity that passed through his brain like electric eels, he pulled the head out of the water and turning around, collapsed on the bank of the pond in six inches of cold, fluffy snow. The dark eyes watched him. He stared back resenting the attention it was giving him. The eyes were scornful and the face was emotionless. “Bad idea, huh?” The alien, insensitive face still showed no emotion. It was a blank sheet of paper. Glancing at his arm, he saw that the silicon-based life form was all the way up to his shoulder. The head was getting larger and drawing itself closer to his head like a rubber band that could expand and contract, at will. Elastic silicon? As he lay there, Pete regretted coming up here to the Colorado foothills alone leaving Kathy and his two kinds back in Tulsa. Except, he needed time alone in the cabin they bought two years ago to write a book on the important research work he was doing on the vanishing honeybees. It was important that he finish the book before the bees were finished. The discoveries he had made were world-shaking and would probably earn him the Pulitzer Prize or at least publication in Scientific American Magazine. Now, he had to live in order to make his dream come true. The lives of every person on the planet depended on him making other scientists aware of what was happening to the environment and the honeybees. First though, he had to rid himself of a threat that was quickly taking over his body and his mind. With pain surging up his arm where the creature had claimed part of his body as its own, he stumbled back through the gate and headed toward the cabin where he hoped he might find an answer to his problem on the Internet. As he walked toward the cabin, he asked himself several questions? How much longer would he be in control? Where did this thing get its energy, from him? He knew he was getting weaker. His body felt drained of energy already. Because humans had disrupted the life cycle of the honeybees, they had lost their willingness to exist. Was he suffering the same fate? Except, it had taken a creature from deep space to interrupt his life and it did it in a few short hours. Now, he felt as if the only reason he had to live was to serve the being he reluctantly carried on his throbbing shoulder and arm. Exhausted, he walked upon the porch of his shabby house and dropped down into a snow-covered, squeaky, metal chair. Moonlight turned the landscape into a blanket of white. A gentle wind shook powdery snow from evergreen trees where it had collected in large pools of frozen water. He glanced at the creature and saw immediately that its features were more defined than they had previously been. His left leg and the left side of his body was now part of the creature. He could feel it. Another hour and the gruesome head would consume his head and it would all be over. He had to do something. Time was running out. In a similar situation, what had the bees done? They had committed mass suicide. Genocide, or at least most of them had. The creature seemed to be resisting his thoughts as Mooney attempted to devise a way to effectively kill himself, and the creature. He knew he was done for anyway. It was only a matter of hours until the creature would have possession of his mind and body. He needed a drink to clear his mind so he could think, and then, he would end his miserable existence. Struggling, he finally managed to get through the front door. His left arm and leg were almost useless. Hobbling along toward the real reason he had come up here to the old cabin leaving his family at home, he realized just how thirsty he was. It wasn’t to write a book so much as it was to enjoy a few drinks without his wife fussing at him. Thinking of his wife and kids only enhanced his thirst for a shot or two of Jack Daniels. Able to use only his right hand, he managed to get a glass and a bottle of whiskey from the cabinet over the sink. Holding the bottle under his left arm where the head had once been, he nervously removed the cap. Pouring the glass almost full he lifted it up in front of the alien face and grinned. “I bet you’d like a glass of this, wouldn’t you?” Dark, glassy eyes stared back at him. He wondered how silicon could have life in it until he remembered that computer chips were made using the material: sand. “Maybe it might be possible,” he admitted taking his first drink. After he finished the glass, he took the bottle to the living room where he sat down in his favorite chair. Using the remote control, he turned on the television. “I bet you like moonshine,” he said. “Don’t you? That’s what gives you energy. So, if we sit here all night, you’ll just go away, won’t you?” The blank eyes seemed to show a little concern and maybe horror could be seen in them. “I know I’m right,” he teased holding the bottle up and sipping freely from it. “I see it in those beautiful black eyes.” Mooney had already drained half the bottle into his gullet. With dizziness overcoming him, he slowly drifted off into darkness passing over treetops and the occasional roof of a farmhouse. Before he could figure out what was happening, total darkness surrounded him and he became part of it. When he woke, his head felt as if it might explode and he just knew he had not eaten in days. Bright sunlight reflected from snow outside and nearly blinded him when he looked out the window. Remembering his strange nightmare, he promised himself that he would never drink again. The bottle next to him on the coffee table was empty. “Just a dream,” he assured himself, except he made his way—with great effort—to the bathroom to prove himself right. His face was still human. However, his eyeballs were red as two small balls of fire and he looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. Even his left hand passed his self-conducted examination. Everything seemed normal. When he walked back to the living room, he felt something gritty under his feet. Looking carefully at the carpeted floor, getting down on his hands and knees, he rubbed the palm of his hand across the carpet. Sand. Arising, Pete walked to the front door and opened it. Gazing across a blanket of fresh snow on the front lawn his blood ran as cold as the fresh morning air. Something had crawled from the house, had gone across the lawn to the woods beyond leaving a brown trail of sand in the snow. “You didn’t really like that alcohol,” he said smiling. “You didn’t like it at all, did you?” The End
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