Bob sat behind the counter gazing out the window of his little store, not thinking about anything and not really looking at anything in particular, just staring through the mist and drizzle at the dark shadows in the dense cedars across the road. He didn’t get many visitors and this business didn’t provide an income that he could survive on but he didn’t need an income from the store. It was actually just something he needed to fill the empty space in his life, something to give him purpose, something for him to do. He owned a successful hardware store in the twin cities years before the big box, one stop shopping stores pushed the “mom and pops” out of business. He was a single guy with no family and, although he was sociable enough, preferred his privacy and solitude. With the profits from the sale of his store in the city, he purchased the business, property and inventory of small declining general store in a remote rural area near Duluth. He had enough left over to cover his daily living expenses for the rest of his life. The store was also his residence to which Bob made a few improvements. He also expanded the store’s inventory, adding some hunting and fishing supplies, mostly ammo and tackle, and stocked up on groceries to sell. Largely, the place was in pretty good condition. He installed a couple new, larger fuel tanks for diesel and gasoline to replace the rusted and leaking fuel oil tank that was there when he moved in. Bob built a wood fired smoker out of the old tank, which he used to smoke fish and other wild game for sale in his store.
His daydream of nothing was interrupted by the sight of the sheriff’s car rolling into his parking lot followed by a black Chevy Tahoe. The first visitors he’d had since Fred left his store yesterday morning. The sheriff walled though the door with two other men following close behind. The sheriff was a no nonsense kind of guy who didn’t waste a lot of time chatting, but Bob knew him to be a dependable sort. The other men were dressed neatly, one was younger and the other appeared to be about Bob’s age. The younger of the two emitted the impression of authority, while the other looked intelligent but not too assertive. “Hello Bob” said the sheriff, “seen Gus lately, I’m here about the calls”. Bob looked at the sheriff then the other two men, “Nope”. Apologetically the sheriff said “Sorry, Bob, this is Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, they are from the federal government”, the tone of sheriffs voice altered slightly on the words “federal government”. “They know about the call Gus made, and the one you made, and would like to hear the story from you.” Bob shrugged his shoulders, “Me? Well sure I guess so” Bob proceeded to repeat the story he heard from Gus. Both men listened intently but with not much expression, kind of like they’d heard it before and were just waiting for him to finish talking. That was until Bob told them this “I thought, ya know, ole Gus was just seein’ things, maybe he just saw an animal not usual to these parts, until he told me about the thing holdin’ on to some sorta silver container” The two men looked at each other and with concern in his voice the younger one said, “What did this “animal” do with the container?”. Starting to wonder what was up Bob replied “nothing, why?”
The younger man looked at his companion, Mr. Jones, then the sheriff. The sheriff gave him a nod. “We’ve been tracking this thing for a couple of weeks now, it’s dangerous, seems to leave a trail of bodies. It’s imperative that we apprehend….or kill…. this thing”. Bob was really starting to feel like he was getting involved in something he didn’t want to be involved in. He shook his head expressing his confusion. “Professor, maybe you should explain” the younger man said to his older companion, nodding towards Bob. “Ah, yes, well…” the professor cleared his throat. “You see, there were two of them at first, my friend here managed to capture…well, kill… one of them. We’ve ascertained that they do not originate from anyplace remotely familiar to us. To us humans, that is” Bob shook his head again “huh?” “Aliens Bob” the younger man stated. The professor continued “We fear the silver tube your friend described may contain the same virulent material we’ve initially analyzed, and are continuing to analyze, that was in the tube carried by our captured specimen. It contained ovules or spores which are extraordinarily hygroscopic in nature with an ability to propagate rapidly and exponentially. Propagation is not the single concern, it’s the specific reactive properties combined with an exponential propagation that would lead to a chain reaction having potential global implications. “
“Huh?” Bob shook his head again, becoming very confused. “Some bad shit” said Mr. Smith. The sheriff spoke up, “Unless you got anything else to tell us Bob, were going to go talk to Gus.” “Nope” Bob said, “Ah, by the way I told this story to Fred”. “Where was it again that he lives?” the sheriff asked. Bob told them and the three were quickly on their way to Gus’s place, leaving him dumbfounded.
As the three men approached the front door to Gus’s cabin they could see several places on the door where splinters of wood surrounded small holes. Bullet holes. The sheriff drew his revolver and the younger man pulled a semi-automatic pistol from underneath his jacket. “Stand back professor” the sheriff urged. Both men entered the cabin slowly and after a few minutes the professor heard a voice form within shout “All clear, come on in doc “ Gus was laying flat on his back in the middle of the floor, with a rifle clutched in his left hand. Spent shell casings were scattered about. No obvious blood could be seen but it was obvious that Gus was deceased. His cadaverous face appeared extremely emaciated and waxy, with a gruesome tan tone. “well professor, he has nothing to say” the younger man exclaimed as he holstered his pistol. The sound of the sheriff on his radio calling in a 187 – homicide was in the background. “My deputy will be here soon with the coroner, let’s go check out Fred’s place” said the sheriff to the two feds already heading towards their Tahoe.
They could see the door on Fred’s cabin was ajar and hanging by one hinge while still seated in their vehicles when they arrived. “Oh no, not again” said the sheriff to the younger man as they emerged from their vehicles with weapons drawn. “You wait here, doc” the younger man told the professor. Inside the cabin they found what they feared. Fred was dead, in a large pool of blood lying on his back on the floor near the back wall. The sheriff looked around the cabin while the other man examined Fred’s body. “This stove is still warm” said the sheriff. “He’s been shot, looks like three entry wounds here in his chest” explained Mr. Smith, “and a hand print in the blood over there, not this guys, too small with fingers that are way too long. It’s that little bastard we’ve been chasing, for sure. There’s a blood smear on the edge of this table too. These fellas didn’t go down without a fight, I bet this big fella did some damage.” The professor stepped into the cabin shaking his head and covering his mouth, muttering something in German. “We got another one, Joe” the sheriff was on his radio to his deputy. “It’s big ole Fred, yeah, out on the old lumber camp road.” The three stood looking at one another for a few seconds, not speaking, but each knew what the other was thinking. They fought off panic and feelings of helplessness.
They found no other clues in the debris scattered about in the cabin. Following good police procedure they began to explore the area outside and around the cabin for clues. They soon found a trail of tiny foot prints heading off into the field. The sheriff got out his flashlight since it was now twilight and all three men began to follow the trail. Within a few steps of the cabin they found a large revolver on the ground. About mid-way into the field they saw a bright flash and what looked like a thin exhaust trail behind a small bright orb accelerating towards the sky. Too late they all thought as they looked in despair toward the sky. “We can only pray that the ovules were not deposited anywhere” said the professor. The sheriff stayed at Fred’s cabin waiting for his deputy while the other two men drove away.
Fred had suffered from a form of Acromegaly, or gigantism, which was caused by a tumor on his pituitary gland that developed while he was young. Little known his parents and the doctor Fred saw on occasion, the tumor was caused by a blood borne virus Fred carried since birth. The virus had no affects on Fred other than causing this tumor to grow. The being that tried to sow the seeds of destruction on earth had now contracted the virus and was heading toward the craft that would carry it back to its own world. It was content in the fiendish belief it had completed its mission to begin the process of re-forming the environment and atmosphere of this planet to make it compatible for his type to inhabit in the not too distant future. Once aboard the main craft the being would enter a hibernation pod to allow it to survive the 3 year journey back to his world. The specialized atmosphere of the pod, and in fact the atmosphere of the planet from which it came, and the biochemistry of his species, would cause this virus to propagate at an exponential rate and prove immediately lethal to its entire world shortly after exposure. It was now the seed of destruction.
- Seeds of Destruction: A Fatal Encounter
Chapter 4 of the short story "Seeds of Destruction"