"Hunting Season" |
The Recording Script
SCENE I: Narration
| Written and directed by Christopher Bahn. Copyright 1996. |
Episode 23 (1997 Edition) of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose
Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM April 1995.
Engineered by Christopher Bahn
Hank Hartwood: Tony Pagel
John Romanovitch: Dan Grothe
Archie Havenbrook: Christopher Bahn
The only non-comedy script I wrote for the series; most of the chillers & thrillers were written by Tony.
John: My name iswasJohn Romanovitch. If you are listening to this tape, stop right now and get out of the woods. Get back to the city or somewhere out of the open. You're not safe here. The rest of my hunting party is already dead. When you find this I'll be dead too. By the time you hear this, they will have found me and eaten me just like the others. I am writing this note as a warning to anyone who finds it, and to explain our disappearances. I don't think our bodies will be found. I won't last long here. I have no food, my rifle is useless without shells, and they have cut off all means of escape. I am done for. Tell our families that we are deadArchie Havenbrook and his four sons, Jerome Treacher, Wilbur and Harold Mitchellson, Hank Hartwood, and me. But I had better explain what has happened hereit is too bizarre and horrible to believe. I only hope our killers will not have destroyed the evidence that they were here, so that my story can be proven, and the danger to humanity can be defended against. Five days ago was the opening of the deer season. The ten of us had driven to the north woods, to a spot near the Minnesota/Canada border, a place miles away from any road, any house, any sign of human habitation. Deep in the North Woods the hills rise wild, and there are trees in the forest no axe has ever cut. For two days, all was normal, but then...
SCENE II: Minnesota north woods
John: Hey Hank!
Hank: Hey, John. Seen any game?
John: No, nothing. Have you seen Wilbur?
Hank: Not since this morning. He went down by the lake today, didn't he?
John: That's where he said he was going. But he was supposed to come back to camp four hours ago, and nobody's seen him.
Hank: He's supposed to cook tonight's meal, isn't he? That lazy son of a
John: That's not all. Archie's son Jim hasn't been around all day. He wasn't in the tent when we woke up this morning.
John: So isn't it weird that nobody's seen him for ten hours?
Hank: (laughs) This is your first deer hunt, ain't it?
John: What does that have to do with anything?
Hank: Just that it's pretty normal for people to stay in the deep woods longer than they thought. It's especially normal for Wilbur Mitchellson to lose track of the time when he's got a job to do at camp that he don't want to do. And Jim likes to get up an hour or so before dawn to see if any twelve-point bucks are straggling home from a wild night out. They're not stupid, they can find their way back. Nothing sinister.
John: If you say so...
Hank: I do.
John: Why do you always have to be so sure of yourself? I've never met anybody so determined to be right about everything.
Hank: Ah, c'mon, college boy. Just 'cause you got yourself a little more education after we got outta high school don't mean that you're smarter than me.
John: I don't want to argue with you, Hank.
Hank: Ah, whatever. Anyways, it's good to see you again. I'm glad you accepted my invite to go hunting with us.
John: Well, I'd never tried it before, I figured why not? I was a bit surprised that you called me, though.
Hank: How come?
John: (laughs) Because it's been ten years since we got out of high school, Hank! I haven't even been back in town since then.
Hank: Well, you know, old times' sake and all that. What, Mister Big-Shot Ecologist can't hang out with his high school buddies any more?
John: Oh, Hank, you know it's got nothing to do with that. But I remember that fight we had when I was going off to college, and you wanted us to both join up in the Army.
Hank: Yeah, well, bygones to bygones and all that. The Army didn't work out for me anyhow, 'cause of my bad back. But I got a good-paying job at the chicken processing plant, things turned out OK.
John: (unconvinced) Sounds good, Hank.
Hank: You got a great job right out of college, I hear.
John: For an ecology major, it was like a dream. Forty thou a year to take care of the animals in Kitteridge State Park, make sure nobody's poaching on our lands, even try to see if we can help the endangered species breed enough to get off the list. Last year, we had fourteen hatchlings in our flock of purple-crested finches. It was great.
Hank: Yep, it'd sure be great to be able to fritter away your time on government pay.
John: (offended) You asked, Hank.
Hank: So how come, if you spend your time protecting animals, you're out here with a .22 looking for a kill?
John: Deer aren't endangered, Hank. You know just as well as I do their natural predators can't keep the population in check any more. There aren't enough wolves, with the farmers shooting them all the time. Besides, I like venison.
Hank: I just thought you might have a problem with hunting. Y'know, you bein' one of them eco-terrorist peoples.
John: I'm an ecologist, not a terrorist. If you're trying to make me mad, Hank, it's working.
Hank: Aw, I'm just needlin' you. But it don't say nothin' on your green card against shootin' stuff?
John: (laughs) Would I be here then? Humans have been hunting for thousands of years, why stop now? I tell you what does bother me, are things like all the wolves being shot.
Hank: I always admired wolves. Noble creatures, perfect hunters.
John: It's not just that. We've killed off so many species, poisoned and built over so much wilderness, done so much damage to the natural world, I wonder sometimes if humanity disappeared tomorrow that there wouldn't be enough left for the world to recover.
Hank: Ah, that's commie talk.
John: Stop that, Hank. You know it's true.
Hank: Well, maybe, but you're exaggerating maybe a wee tiny little bit.
John: I know, I know. But I wonder sometimes if deer hunters are thinning the right herd.
Hank: (laughs) You think we should shoot each other? If Wilbur don't get back soon to make dinner, I might shoot him, but you've got an ... extreme point of view.
John: Well, call me a cynic, but I just don't have that much faith that humanity will stop treating the world like an enormous garbage can.
Hank: (laughs) Faithyou better not start talkin' like that around Archie.
Hank: Oh, nothin'. You'll see. Let's go back to camp.
SCENE III: The campsite
[Music: Country music is playing softly on somebody's old radio.]
Archie: Afternoon, Hank, John.
John: Hi, Archie.
Hank: Hey Arch, did Wilbur start making dinner?
Archie: Nah, he ain't been back since the morning.
Hank: That lazy, good-for-nothing...
Archie: Leave the man alone, Hank. I swear, you don't get yer meal at precisely 6 o'clock and you act like the world itself is against you.
Hank: Oh, for Christ's sake, Archie
Archie: Don't you take the Lord's name in vain!
Hank: Don't you start that. You know why I'm angry. Wilbur never does his share of the work in camp. This is just another example of it.
Archie: He's just supposed to make hamburgers, Hank. If you're that set on eating now, just cook up a couple yourself.
Hank: I will, but that's not the point.
Archie: I made some coffee. Just pour yourself a cup, make yer burgers, and shut up.
[pause. Hank grumbles audibly, but there is the sound of pouring and slurping. He fires up the grill, and the sound of sizzling meat is heard in the background. The sounds of sizzling and occasional slurping continue until it becomes uncomfortable that there's no dialogue.]
John: So! How's the hunting been going, Archie?
Archie: It's awful.
John: Oh. Sorry to hear that.
Archie: It's the worst I ever seen in twenty-seven years of hunting deer. There's no game! None of us has even seen one deer.
John: That's strange.
Hank: Ah, that's just bad luck. Tomorrow we'll get some deer.
Archie: I don't know about that. The freshest deer trails I've found are about a week old.
Hank: You worry too much about that. Every year, you start carping about how we've come to the wrong part of the woods, then you bag yourself a nice buck and shut up for the rest of the trip.
John: Hank, I don't think that's fair.
Archie: Listen to yer buddy, Hank.
Hank: John, I don't need you
John: No, listen. Haven't you noticed how quiet the woods are?
Hank: Well... well, now that you mention it, yeah. So?
John: I haven't heard any birds.
Hank: It's fall. They've all migrated.
John: They have not. There should still be a lot of birds this far north.
Hank: Well, like I said, so what?
John: So it's not normal. No deer, no birds, and you know what else, I don't think I've seen any animals besides insects since we got here. Not even squirrels.
Archie: The boy's right.
Hank: You're both dreaming.
John: I know what I'm talking about.
Hank: (laughs, much louder than his joke deserves) Maybe they all went on vacation! Ha ha ha ha!
John: (offended, and trying to get Hank to listen) Hank, I'm a naturalist. I spend most of my time in places like this. You come up here for a week every fall, then go home and work inside in a fish-gutting factory or someplace.
Hank: It's a chicken processing plant, you longhaired freak!
Archie: Calm down, Hank.
John: Listen to me, you oafish clodif I say there aren't any animals in these woods, then there aren't! It's my goddamn job
Archie: Wash yer mouth out, boy!
John: (wasn't expecting that) What?
Archie: Don't be taking the Lord's name in vain. Hank's got you riled up now, but you let him push you to sinful speech, and you'll be burning in the afterlife.
John: Now I know why I've never gone hunting before...
Hank: Archie, the goddamn burgers are goddamn done. Do goddamn either of goddamn you want a goddamn burger?
John: (sullen) Yeah.
Archie: Praise be to God in Heaven. (clears throat) May the good Lord bless this food, and our expedition to these woods
Hank: Do you have to launch into that sermon every time we eat? I swear, your food goes cold before you're done jabbering.
Archie: I am giving thanks to Christ Jesus for the blessing he has offered us.
Hank: I cooked the thing. Why don't you thank me that loud?
Archie: Because you, Hank Hartwood, are about the least holy thing I know of.
Hank: Why can't you just think the prayers? Did it ever occur to you that some of us don't believe in that nonsense?
Archie: Your immortal soul is your own business. I swear, only Satan himself, Jesus save us, is more contrary than you are.
John: Maybe I should go back into the woods...
Hank: No, you stay here and keep God's Chosen Hunter company. I'm gonna see if I can find Wilbur. [SFX: walking through leaves]
John: Has Hank ever considered switching to decaffeinated?
Archie: That boy's got the Devil in him, I swear.
John: Cooks a mean burger, though.
Archie: One of these days, God is going to take his revenge on Hank and his type.
John: (pause) That's nice, Archie.
Archie: Are you a churchgoing man, Johnnie?
John: John. No, I'm not.
Archie: Hmmph. Well, are you familiar with the Revelation of John?
John: Passing acquaintance. I stayed awake in church most of the time when I was a kid.
Archie: There's a storm comin' from heaven, Johnnie. A righteous wind, gonna clear out this sinful, depraved world. It's coming soon, very soon.
John: So I've heard.
Archie: I seen it.
John: Have you.
Archie: I seen it in a dream. Very soon indeed.
John: Sure thing.
Archie: Don't you eat that burger yet! I ain't blessed it.
John: ...Sure. Sure thing.
Archie: Hank, he don't know nothin'. The Lord knows I have tried to make him see the error of his ways, but some people just refuse to listen. The hammer of God is gonna fall, and it's gonna be lightning-fast and silent and you won't know it's hit you until it's too late. The sinners are going to be pleading for mercy, but it's gonna be too late.
John: That's very interesting, Archie, but...
Archie: Ask yourself this: Will you be on the side of the righteous? Where will you spend eternity?
John: (firmly) I'm going to look for Hank now.
Archie: If you don't want to listen, that's your business. But I been told. There will be demons on the earth, and demons below, and demons above. And it will be given unto the demons above to torment the men of the earth, and to bring the unrighteous to the end they deserve.
John: Well, I'll see you later tonight, Arch. I'm going to the woods now.
Archie: (fades out slowly, as does Garth Brooks, as John moves off) They're comin'! Comin' for the sinful! The Lord revealed it to me in a dream! If you wanna live, you get on your knees and beg to be accepted into the Army of Righteousness! Come back here, I'm not done talking!
[SFX: walking through leaves.]
John: Hank! Wait up!
John: Listen, I'm sorry about that scene back there.
Hank: Oh, it ain't your fault. I shoulda warned you about Archie. He's always been pretty strict in his beliefs, but his wife died last year, and he don't see his kids but a week a year, when we go hunting. He's just a lonely old man, although he does get on my nerves pretty damn quick.
Archie: Take not the name of the Lord
Hank: Jesus! Where the hell did you learn to walk so quiet, Archie?
Archie: (laughs mockingly) Hee hee hee... When you been hunting as long as I have, you pick up something. I'm gonna need the skills of Nimrod himself in the battle that's coming.
Hank: Will you shut up about Armageddon for just one minute? I don't believe in all that. There's no higher power up above waiting to swoop down and kill me, Archie. That's a bunch of bull.
Archie: I seen it.
Hank: Yeah, well I seen a whole bunch of stuff on the TV, but I don't believe it all.
Archie: I was inspired by the Lord
John: (placatingly) Archie! Why don't you show us some of your tracking skills. I'd love to learn a bit of what you've picked up over the years.
Archie: (pause) Alllllllright. Well, ferinstance, take a look down there. See them bootprints?
Archie: Them's made by my eldest boy, Harold. I recognize the soles, 'cause I bought him them boots two Christmases back.
John: Looks like he was heading north.
Archie: Yup. If we follow them tracks, we can maybe catch up with him. [SFX: Walking, about 10 seconds. The sound continues over Archie's speech] Jes' over this ridge, andthere, they go on down past that tree, and around heresee the way the branches are bent? He's a big boy, Harold is. He had to force his way through these brambles, and he broke off some of 'em. Now, we just walk down this way
Hank: What is that awful smell?
Archie: See, this is a deer trail, but it ain't been used by the deer in a week or so. I told you that, I think.
John: Yes, back in camp.
Hank: Smells like rotten eggs or something.
Archie: And now, wewhat in God's name?
John: What's wrong?
Archie: Well, the tracks just stop! His last tracks go down real deep, like somethin' heavy fell on him, and then there aren't no more tracks.
Hank: How could that be?
John: I have a bad feeling about this.
Hank: Don't you get superstitious too, John. You're supposed to be the rational scientist.
John: That's three of us disappeared, Hank! And what about this smell? It's... sulfuric. This is not a normal woods odor.
Hank: There's a very simple explanation for this. Don't start cooking up stupid theories.
John: I don't have a theory. It just doesn't feel ... right.
Archie: That stenchit's so strong!
Hank: Maybe Harold's playing a joke on you, Archie. He knows how good you are at tracking, maybe he wanted to throw you off just for fun.
Archie: That'd be like Harold.
Hank: You see, John?
Archie: But I seen it in a dream!
Archie: Harold's flesh of my flesh, but he gone down the wrong path years ago. He's one of them prodigious sons. That smell, of sulfur and brimstone. It's like the first sign to me that ... that ...
Hank: That what?
Archie: Well, it might be nothin'.
Hank: Of course it's nothing!
Archie: The righteous have to have faith, but it wouldn't be proper to think the last days had come when they hadn't yet.
Hank: Of course the Last Days haven't come, Archie. That's foolishness!
Archie: But I saw it, I tell you! Only last night Jehovah cast aside the veil fer me once more.
Hank: Uh-huh. What did you see this time? Giant bunnies with fangs?
John: Hank, don't rile the old man?
Hank: Me rile him? What are you, blind?
John: Why don't you just shut up?
Archie: The Lord revealed to me the dreadful aspect of the demons above. They are the lords of the outer darkness. They watch us from their cold, silent wasteland, jealous of heat an' light an' the good things of the Earth. They are red as a pool of drying blood, and silent as the vengeance of the devil. And from their great gaping maws comes the stench of evil souls in torment!
Hank: Dangit, Archie, why you got to sound like some kind of a Southerner every time you start that cockamamie preaching shtick? You're from New Ulm!
Archie: Repent now, unbeliever!
Hank: (mad as heck) Stop that talk, Archie, or I swear I'll
Archie: You'll what?
John: Why don't we all split up for a while.
Hank: Suits me.
Archie: Feh. I'll keep going north. You just go a different way from me, and I'll be satisfied.
Hank: Suits me. (SFX: Walking)
SCENE IV: Narration
John: We went our separate ways for about an hour or so. Archie was really bad off. I've known Arch since I was a kid, and he'd never been that bad that I've ever known. The thought of him walking around with a loaded gun and thoughts of the Last Days... well, it made me pretty uneasy. And as much as I didn't want to think about it, something pretty strange was happening in the woods. People say it's a great place for peace and quiet, but there should be some noise, some animals running around. But I didn't see anything. Didn't hear anything. So strange, that feeling was so strange. I felt like the forest was hiding from me. I started running, as fast as I could, yelling, trying to scare somethinga deer, a squirrel, a damn grizzlyanything into making some noise. That sense of complete stillness was the most frightening thing that's ever happened to me... because in my bones and the hair on the back of my neck, I could feel something behind the quiet. I knew it was crazy, I knew I was stupid for thinking it, but I knew Something was out there, watching us, biding its time like a spider in a web, quiet and patient and purely predatory. But I didn't hear anything until[SFX: Shotgun blast] The shot came from southwest of me. I ran to where it came from, fast as I could. When I saw what was there, it took every ounce of courage I had not to run back to camp screaming. Instead I leaned against a tree and lost the hamburger I'd just had for lunch. It wasn't very good anyway. Hank found me a few minutes later.
SCENE V: The woods
Hank: John! Did you get one?
John: (shaken) Get one?! One what?
Hank: A deer, stupid? I heard the shotyou bag a deer?
John: No. I didn't get one at all. Smell that?
Hank: (coughs) Yeah... same thing as before. Archie's brimstone smell.
John: Yeah. Look over there.
Hank: I don't see anything.
John: Look up.
Hank: Where...? Hey, in those branchesit's Wilbur's rifle. But how the hell did it get up there? [coughs] Jesus, this place reeks!
John: You think that's weird, look below the tree.
Hank: Holy Christ.
John: It's a blood spatter.
Hank: (puzzled) But shotguns don't leave a mark like that.
John: No, they don't. This is circular. And there's a lot of blood, too.
Hank: Deer must have spilled a few pints or more to leave a mark like this. Then where is it? An animal loses that much blood that fast, it's gotta collapse before it can run too far away.
John: HankI don't think this is deer blood.
Hank: Dammit, I don't want to hear this!
John: You said yourself this wasn't left by a shotgun. What did make it?
Hank: I don't know, but
John: It's as if a bear trap fell on Wilbur from above
Hank: This ain't Wilbur! Stop it with these theories of yours. I'm not a believer.
John: That's his gun up there! Who is it then? This makes four of us gone, vanished into thin air. This is the first trace we've found.
Hank: You think Archie's finally snapped?
John: I didn't say that.
Hank: (derisively) And I suppose one of his demons came down from the sky and did this.
John: I didn't say that either! But the way the evidence is, it does look like whatever it is came from above.
Hank: Stop this crazy talk, damn it! It's bad enough with Archie.
Hank: Listen, you with your talk about thinning out the human herdhow do I know you ain't killing us off?
John: So you admit that something is hunting us?
Hank: No! [SFX: Cocks rifle] But I'll be damned if I'm gonna let either you or Archie bag me.
John: Yeah, well, according to Archie, you're damned either way.
Hank: (near breaking point) Shut up.
[SFX: Loud thud. Something falls on the ground near them.]
Hank: (shocked) What is that?
John: Oh, hell.
Hank: John, what the hell is that?
John: It's a human leg. It's Wilbur's leg.
Hank: Well, where the hell did it come from?
Hank: What do you mean, up?
John: I mean, up. It came from above us. Something's chasing us, Hank. Hunting us. You know what I think happened to Wilbur? I think Wilbur managed to fire off a shot, and spooked whatever grabbed him, or maybe even grazed it. It got sloppy, left his rifle up in the tree, and maybe lost its hold on him long enough that all this blood spilled.
Hank: You're crazy. You're crazy! You think somethingsome outer-space thinghas been hunting us?
John: Outer space, I don't know, I never said that. But what kind of predator leaves signs like this? And what is that awful stench? That sulfur smell? That's not natural, Hank. We're not in Yellowstone, there's no hot springs here. That's not supposed to happen here. Let's go back to camp. Let's get in the trucks and get out of here!
Hank: Don't get no closer, Romanovitch. Get yer hands up.
John: For god's sake, Hank, put your gun away. Stop pointing it at me.
Hank: How do I know you ain't the one killing everybody?
John: Don't be stupid.
Hank: Don't call me stupid. You expect me to believe that crazy story about flying monsters?
John: It's the only thing that fits the evidence, Hank! Look at the tracks that stopped in midstep, the way the blood spatters fell
Hank: Keep your hands up!
John: That rifle was hanging from the top branch of a tree, Hank! And Wilbur's leg fell! Fell from above!
Hank: Don't come no closer! You've been the first person twice now to arrive at the site of a killing.
John: That's not true!
Hank: (Ignores him) ...And you were talking before about how you thought humanity oughtta be thinned out. How do I know you ain't killing us one by one? I ain't putting my rifle down.
John: Hank, all I meant was humans are destroying the ecosystem! I wasn't arguing for genocide, and I'm not the one killing people!
Hank: Keep your hands up! I ain't telling you again.
John: They're up, they're up! Hank, this is the last time I go hunting with you.
[SFX: Something very heavy and metal crashes into ground, then explodes]
Hank: What in the hell?
John: Come on.
[SFX: Running through woods. Sound of large fire fades up, grows louder, continues through rest of scene. Running stops.]
Hank: My truck! It's been... It's been... My truck!
John: Do you believe me now? Smell the air? Sulfur! And strong! They were just here. Somethingmaybe several strong somethingspicked up your truck and threw it. Your truck did not just wander off into the woods and have an accident. This was deliberate.
Hank: But why?
John: To cut off our escape. They're not stupid, whatever they are. They know we're trapped here without our vehicles. And look at where your truck is now compared to where you parked it. They were trying to hit Archie's truck with yours, get them both at once. They missed. We can still get out of here. Archie left his keys in the truck.
Hank: What about the others?
John: We'll have to wait here, we can't go look for them. We've got to hope they can make it back here. If we separate, they'll get us, and we can't leave Archie's truck unguarded.
[SFX: Two shotgun blasts.]
John: (shouts) Hey! If you can hear me, come back to camp! We're in terrible danger! (normal voice) Hank, give me a couple of shells. I'm out.
Hank: (pause) John...
John: (pause) Oh. Oh, dammit. The rest of your ammo...
Hank: Was in my truck.
John: Oh, damn. Oh damn it.
Hank: There's nothin' we can do about that now. Keep your head.
John: OK, OK... Keep a watch on the sky. That's where they are. They flyand they must be fast, too, demonically fast, because twice now we've missed them by no more than a minute and they're gone. Long gone.
Hank: How can they do that?
John: Maybe that's the sulfur smell.
Hank: What do you mean?
John: Maybe it's like exhaust from a jet engine.
John: Look, these things, if they're what I think they are, they must be like blimps or hot-air balloons. When they drop on their victims, all they have to do is release or exhale whatever gas is keeping them afloat. Totally silent, and gravity does it all. But to get back up that fast, they must do some quick chemical reaction that fills up their gasbags again. That's the smell.
Hank: Y'know, John... maybe we shouldn't wait for the others.
John: We can't just leave them here!
Hank: We ain't seen nobody but Archie since this morning. First of us to go missing was last night.
Hank: So maybe those things got ever'one already. We know at least four are dead. These are big woods. Maybe there ain't nobody to wait for anymore.
John: (aghast) And maybe we're not the last ones, Hank! We've got to wait! What about Archie! We know he's alive!
Hank: Archie'd do it to us. He'd say God's will was for us to die.
John: We're not leaving.
Hank: I say we are. Because my rifle is loaded, and yours ain't.
John: Hank, don't do this.
Hank: Move! Get in Archie's truck.
John: Damn you, Hank, we can't leave Archie to die!
Hank: Get in that truck or you die, friend. It's time to cut and run, whether you realize it or not. You get in the driver's seat, and I'll keep an eye out the passenger window for them. If they come for us, one barrel of the shotgun oughtta scare 'em off.
John: I'm not going without
Hank: You have no choice! To hell with Archie!
[SFX: Multiple shotgun blasts, large explosion]
Archie: You ain't got no choice either now, Hank.
Hank: Archie, you senile old fool, why did you shoot your own truck?
Archie: You said it yourself, Hank. The Lord is coming again. He will come to lift this world out of its depravity and sin! But before he comes, the heathen must be destroyed. And heathen means you. Drop yer rifle. I said drop it, I got the drop on you so drop it.
Hank: OK, OK.
John: Butbutbut now you're stuck here too!
Archie: The good shepherd looks after his true flock, Johnnie.
Hank: What the hell does that mean?
Archie: That means in the great war against the unholy, all I got to fear is the agents of the devil. The Lord would not harm me, nor would the angel of death. For it is written in the Book of Exodus that the angel of death did passeth over the Israelites, who were marked with the sign of the Lord.
John: Whatever's hunting us is not the angel of death, Archie.
Archie: And how do you know, longhair? I read the Bible every day of my life! I know the prophecy! I know what kills come from the sky, bringing blood and fire and death! It comes for you! For you!
[SFX: Weird quiet whistling noise, then muffled scream, then hissing sound, screams from Hank and John, and a weird shrieking noise]
SCENE VI: Narration.
John: (diary) It happened just like Archie said it would, except that whatever dropped out of the sky killed him and not us. I guess being part of God's Army only goes so far sometimes. But that thing that killed himIt was horrible. It was unnatural. There is no creature that I know of like it on planet Earth. It was about eight feet high, colored a dark, muddy red. Shaped like a squid, with long black tentacles it wrapped around Archie to subdue him. Its mouth was huge, round; it took up the whole bottom part of the thing's body, and it could fit Archie in its mouth up to his shoulders. I wish I could say that Archie died instantly, but I don't think it happened that way. I think Archie had just enough time to realize that the Angel of Death had ignored the lamb's blood above his door. For his sake, I hope the next life works out more the way he thought it would. Once the creature had Archie in its jaws, some kind of huge bladder or air sac on its top inflated, and with a hiss and a rush of brimstone air it was gone. The whole thing, the murder, took only about ten seconds. To protect it from the elements, I have placed this message in the glove compartment of Hank Hartwood's burned-out pickup truck. Since they've already destroyed it, maybe they'll leave it alone now. I found a hiding spot in a hollowed-out tree. Hank, he wandered off into the woods a few hours ago, when it was dark and the things probably couldn't see us. He took his rifle and only one of his shells. I knew what he was up to, but there was nothing I could say to talk him out of it. When I heard that single shotgun report, I knew that if nothing else, the creatures hadn't killed him.. The flying things know I'm the only one left, and they've been getting bolder in trying to flush me out. Four hours ago, I saw three of them swoop past at treetop level, and they were shrieking. Awful, terrible noise, like metal grinding in a train wreck, like no animal that can exist or ever should. They must have been trying to scare me out of hiding. It almost worked. I'm about ready to give up. I haven't had food or water in almost two days, and I can't figure out how I could get out of these woods alive. It's forty miles at least to the nearest town, and they'd see me before I got five hundred yards. My only chance is to wait here for a rescue party, but I don't know if I can hold out that long. God only knows what happens next. But if you have this tape, if you're listening right now, I warn youwatch the skies! They might not stay in the woods next time. There's no limit to how many humans they can bag. And they've declared that hunting season is now officially open.