01 Feb New Emergency Alert System Message Part 3
Entry: August 20, Saturday, 2016
The grief was nearer than I thought. I posted the last update and everything swept over me. It’s hard to convey but the sheer terror of knowing that this has happened paired with the apparent death of my mother overwhelmed me. The thought of going back to Glenwood was exciting but that feeling disappeared quickly. I wanted to get out of Redstone. I needed to fill the space in my head with something other than worry and grief. I roughly, very roughly, pushed this down and covered it until it was a dull throb in the background of my mind.
By Friday I was in motion. I thankfully had my mom’s credit cards as she had left her purse in the car, so I bought a single tent, backpack, change of clothes, a battery source for my laptop, and some other supplies. I finished prepping around 3:00 pm.
At 3:10 the power went out in Redstone. I checked outside my motel room door and saw quizzical faces appearing in windows. Small clusters of people gathered outside. There was a sense of general confusion and annoyance.
Returning to my room, I took a shower quickly to savor what I could of the hot water and eventually left town by foot around 4:00 pm. The power outage was bizarre and ominous and I half expected to have my phone go off with that terrible emergency message but nothing happened. The answer would be in Glenwood.
It took me about ten and a half hours to get there with some small breaks in between. Along the way I saw roadblocks with heavy traffic being directed through detours. The EDD must have set up some sort of quarantine in order to keep others out and Glenwood residents in. I kept my distance and continued along. Foot traffic through the wilderness didn’t seem to be a top concern for them.
I admit that when I finally got there, what I found in the late hours of the night chilled me. As I approached I felt a hum in my chest similar to the one I felt on August 16. It wasn’t followed by any explosion but it grew as I got closer to town. Once I was close enough I saw why. Spaced in intervals of about 120 feet apart were semi sized truck flatbeds. On each one rested a tower, four sided and slightly triangular in shape, 40 feet high, topped with a globe that was ringed with a flat band around its circumference. Dozens of these flatbeds ringed the town. They went as far as I could see, shrinking in the distance until I could cover them with my thumb. Countless cords as thick as my thigh ran from each. Suddenly, the power outage made sense. This much energy had to come from somewhere. (Did the EDD release some false statement blaming a mechanical failure at the power plant?) The humming was emanating from them and a fine haze, non-unlike heat rising from a hot road, hung in the space between each tower.
I couldn’t help but gasp, “It’s a goddamn containment field.” The implications of this were frightening.
In the distance I could hear yelling. Laughter. Crying. It all sounded off. The laughter slightly too hysterical, the yelling persistently furious and full of red anger, the crying of a mourner at the edge of a freshly dug grave. It was overwhelming. I suddenly didn’t want to try to get in. The events of the past few days were so fresh, the pain so new, I wasn’t sure I had the strength.
So I sat down and unpacked to busy my hands. With my tent set up I went inside and zipped the flap shut. The humming in my chest remained. I set an alarm on my watch and dozed for a while. I slept fitfully and when the alarm went off at 3:00 am I was happy to be awake. Eating a granola bar, I contemplated turning around. But what was there to go back to?
Grabbing my backpack, I zipped my tent shut behind me and took off. I could see personnel carrying those strange devices in the distance, blue-green eyes alight. As I walked, I thought over what Eldridge told me. My eyes had been closed when both my mom and Lynn were supplanted. The shadows felt like gusts of cold air and I could still hear them. But could I have seen them? Maybe the strange eyes were some sort of defense against supplantation. Ocular implants though? Were these people keeping watch even human?
These questions whirled like a dry wind in my mind and before I knew it I was within town limits. It was dark so I wasn’t terribly worried about being seen but I crouched anyway. I made my way up the west side of the Roaring Fork River, and I would have to cross before it connected to the Colorado. The sentries, I guess I can call them that now, were weaving in and out of the tower-generated haze, untouched as they patrolled. I reasoned that I should be alright too. There wasn’t much activity but the horrible noises continued, growing louder as I approached.
I would have to go through some residential and shopping areas to get to the heart of town and the thought scared me. I didn’t have a weapon and didn’t even know what kind I would need. Obviously, you’re reading this so I’m currently safe for the most part, but at the time my mind was moving from one awful scenario to the next. I never mentioned details of my fight with Lynn and I don’t intend to, with the exception that she fought with a strength I didn’t know she had. I was terrified to encounter that. Not only for the potential of an altercation, but it would also alert people to my presence.
Moving softly, I crept the edge of a flatbed. I looked up and the enormity of the device struck me. It was tall and alien. I skirted around the right side of it and saw the retreating back of a guard moving away to my left. I took off running and stopped under the awning of a small hardware shop. Passing through the haze and hum I realized that I felt nothing—no resistance or push back. Even stranger was the fact that once I passed through the humming in my chest stopped. I kept close to the wall and rounded the corner. I was going to have to cross the Colorado and head way west to get to my house. It would take a while but the shadows would help.
The sounds continued in the background but as I moved through the streets I heard something else. A low, muffled moaning slid down the empty streets. I heard it coming from two different ends of the road I was on. I tried to ignore it but I heard it again as I advanced. On the corner of 7th and Grand, I saw it. A cube made of what looked like Plexiglas, 10 feet by 10 feet. Emanating from what appeared to be the Plexiglas itself was a light blue hue. Inside were about 15 people crammed in together. Their clothes were dirty and their skin had a yellowish blue hue to it. Their eyes were sunken and afraid, some looked angry but worn out, others’ eyes were just closed, heads leaning against the glass, almost dead. The moaning was coming from those inside.
I recognized a face. Marshall Levie, an old high school classmate. We had gone on a date once, but dramatic episode involving spilled soda on my pants and a serious lack of chemistry ensured it was our only date. He looked terrible but his face seemed different. There was something in the way his lip was pulled up into a leer. There was dried spit and mucus around his mouth, caked and cracked. His eyes found mine but there was no recognition there. I realized I was just a few feet from the glass now. Looking down at the road behind me a loud thud made jump. Marshall has pushed others aside and slammed himself against the wall. He was yelling inarticulately, scratching at the glass. My heart instantly began pounding and I stood frozen watching him in his frenzy. Voices, human voices, echoed in the distance and I heard footsteps. Sparing a glance for Marshall I ran across the street to the footbridge and sprinted away hard.
When I reached the end, I had slowed to an out-of-breath walk. I had to follow 6 until I hit the outer edge of town to find my house but I needed a break. From my position slightly above the main road, I could now see the dull glow of blue spotted sporadically along the east, west, and south of town. The were dozens of them.
The people in those cubes, they were residents. All of them were residents. All of them looked gaunt and exhausted. Were they all supplanted? I couldn’t even fathom a situation where literally no one had escaped, but then I remembered Eldridge and the small but firm shake of his head when I asked if others had gotten away. No.
If that was the case, then it would mean that the EDD was rounding up these people, many of whom had probably been supplanted but others who may just be terrified and in hiding. It was sick. But Eldridge hadn’t given any indication that a method was known to un-supplant (is that even a word?) someone. Assuming the intruding manifestation could be pushed out, would the body die? Were all of these people simply lost causes? It was cruel and cold. Then a sudden thought struck me. My mom. Was her body dying in a cube somewhere, my father trapped inside?
I connected with the main road and followed it to the street that crawled along the foothills of the mountains. Along the way I saw more personnel in black, but also other individuals in grey and red uniforms, carrying firearms, eyes glowing. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of that so I ignored them. I followed the road slowly and it took me until 4:30 to get to my house. Cubes studded the road as I went. The faces I saw were dead-looking in appearance, but filled with raw emotion, some showed nothing at all. I wondered if some of the bodies simply died after being supplanted or if suicides were simply thrown in with the rest while the situation was taken under control.
My house was as I left it except that front door was wide open. The garage stood open and empty, the blackness within uninviting. I heard scuffling feet in the distance and inched closer to the house. Despite the effort of getting here, I was afraid to approach my home now. It was that feeling of visiting a place where memories seemed to be held for you for safekeeping, the smells and look of things once familiar pulling you back with irresistible force. Sometimes those are good experiences, re-living those memories. But in that moment I was afraid of what it would do to me.
The scuffling got louder and I looked over my shoulder down the street. There seemed to be movements in the shadow but I wasn’t sure. My eyes were swimming with tears. I steeled myself and marched through the front door and directly into the living room. It was dark and cool. The undeniable fragrance of home invaded my nostrils and I felt myself relax. It was still creepy but it was familiar.
Lynn was gone. She must’ve run through the front door and left it open. I looked at the mug of tea I had been nursing that night, spilled on its side on the floor. Going through the kitchen, the kettle sat cold and silent on a burner on the stove, my mom’s charging cord dangling against a cabinet. Standing there with my hand resting on the counter, I heard a gravelly intake of breath somewhere in the house. I froze and felt icy fear ripple down my arms and into my stomach. I quietly crept to a drawer in the kitchen and took out the large Mag-Lite my dad bought years ago. Testing that it still worked, I snapped it off again and moved into the back of the house.
The carpet muffled my footsteps as I walked, listening to the small noises coming from my mom’s bedroom. All thoughts of collecting small things I had made a note to retrieve from my room and the rest of the house were lost. I rounded the corner of my parent’s bedroom and looked in.
On the bed was a figure, back facing me. The saw the chest expand and shrink, the small wheezing cut through the air. My hands were sweaty and shaking. I lifted the flashlight and turned it on. The circle of light was dazzling in the darkness, reflecting off the second porch door that was connected to room. The figure, in navy capris and a red and white-stripped top, froze.
“Mom?” It was what she had been wearing that night. I inched closer. The figure remained frozen.
“Mom?” I asked again, my voice cracking.
In the light she slowly turned her head to look over her shoulder at me. I gasped and almost dropped the light as I saw her hollowed out face and watery, red-rimmed eyes.
A dry breath and then, “Mel?” It was the same voice I heard that night.
This realization helped me move more confidently over to the figure. Stepping to the other side of the bed, I saw clutched in her hands an old family photo of the three of us that my mom had framed.
“Daddy?” My eyes were dry but emotion was in my voice.
“Mel. Oh Mel.” A hand reached weakly out to mine. It was my mom’s voice but my dad was evident inside of it. I knew it was him.
“Have you been here this whole time?” I wanted to sit on the bed next to him but I couldn’t. Not just yet.
“This is no way to be, Bub. No way at all. Your mother…” I could see a small tear leak from his right eye. “We’re both gone now. Only, somehow I’m here. I’m so confused, so scared.” His hand gripped the photograph more tightly. “But it sure is good to see you again, kiddo.” He smiled a dry smile and I sat on the bed next to him.
The suddenness of my father’s passing six years ago was completely upending. For months my mom and I struggled to get through our daily lives. We managed well enough financially but the small life we were building lost one of its three primary pillars of support. I’ve since made peace with it but still had dreams about him coming to see me, asking about my life. In those dreams he was always proud of me and I’d wake up missing him so much I almost couldn’t catch my breath. I’d wished to see him again, to *really” talk to him. But looking at this pitiful figure, the true shadow of the man I knew, feeling the hard loss of my mother, I couldn’t help but take that wish back.
“Dad. Oh, god. I just…is it really you?”
“Yes. I don’t know how this happened. Everything is so sharp and hard-edged now, the sounds are so loud and the lights are so bright. I’m confused,” He repeated quietly to himself. “Something happened then I felt some magnetic pull.” He took a deep, rattling breath. “Then I was here, in this house. Your mother… Then I found this picture after you’d gone. Look how little you were.” His fingers touched the glass of the frame. “So little.”
Suddenly, a shout cut through the air. The harsh sounds of footsteps broke through the house and I heard enraged screaming. The first one through the bedroom door had cuts all over, with bloodied fingertips and cracked lips. He had a manic grin on his face. One other man and two women charged into the room and stopped. Their breathing was heavy and somehow empty. They saw my mother lying on the bed and they saw me sitting there. There was a moment’s hesitation as something computed behind their eyes, then the sliding glass door behind me exploded. Gunfire lit up the room and a bullet caught the first man in the left cheek. His head pulsed open and he fell.
A man and a woman with glowing eyes advanced through the shattered door, those devices held in front of them. They hummed violently and I saw an adult-height haze shield projected from the front of it. The weapon almost looked like a mini containment tower with a smaller golf-ball sized sphere on the end. My hair stood on end as they passed me.
The remaining three supplanted (I could only assume that’s what they were now) tried to run but they were met by three other personnel in black forcing them towards the first two, devices held aloft. The man with the gun seemed even more hostile with fiery blue-green eyes. He stomped in behind them and grabbed my father’s arm forcefully and shoved him towards the three cornered supplanted on the other side of the bed. The picture fell from his fingers and hit the edge of the nightstand cracking it. I watched my dad get up slowly from the floor.
“Jesus Christ, Ms. Callus?” Eldridge came in from the hallway, eyes glowing.
“That’s my fucking father you piece of shit!” I moved towards the gunslinger. Eldridge caught me by the arm.
“We had been tracking this last band of supplanted for two nights. They seemed to have somehow figured out how to work together and hide from out sentries. We think they’re the ones who killed Preston and Matheson.” This came from one of the woman holding a device.
Eldridge’s eyes swept over the room. He looked at each of their captives in turn, examining them. “A third team is outside waiting to help move them out to a Block. This is the last of the residents. Move.”
They started forward and, carefully keeping the four individuals inside the field of their device’s resistance, walked them outside. I stepped up quickly to stop them. Eldridge pulled me back and zipped tied my hands in front of me.
“You goddamn bastard. All these people—’’
“Are no longer a threat. They are not who they once were. Let’s go.”
I started to speak but he shot me a looking, a knowing look, and I fell silent.
We were taken by truck back to the center of town. We passed the group that included my dad as we went. I saw them being ushered into an already full Block. My dad looked tired and frail as he was pushed in. I looked at my shoes and took deep breaths trying to contain the my raging and conflicting emotions.
As we approached, I saw what looked like a fleet of big rigs lined up diagonally on the main road, their back doors open. I saw Blocks being loaded into their dark cavernous bellies, three to a trailer. The people inside displayed a mix of reactions. I felt sick to my stomach. The writing on the big rigs said “Axiom-Ex”. The name sounded familiar, some kind of company, but it escaped me.
We were led to a grouping of trailers stationed in the mall parking lot. I was ushered inside one of them by Eldridge and a firearm-carrying guard. The guard waited outside and Eldridge shut the door behind the two of us. He produced a pocket-knife and cut the zip tie roughly from my wrists. I saw, sitting on the seats of the trailer’s kitchen table, my backpack and the remains of my tent. My laptop sat closed on the table.
Eldridge looked at me. He looked tired and the bags under his eyes were pronounced.
“You will be taken into custody and moved to a secure facility. You will be given limited access to your cell phone and other devices to maintain the illusion of regularity in your daily life to your friends and relatives. Your computer has yet to be confiscated and replaced with an Axiom-Ex approved device. I suggest you use this time wisely.” That knowing look again.
“Why are you doing this?” I don’t know what ‘this’ was in particular—the rounding up of citizens, the leniency towards me.
He was about to speak, but a squawked voice came through his radio. “Block loading at 75%. Eldridge, we need you down on 8th and Grand.”
He looked at me. “Write.” And he left.
I’m sitting here exhausted and we’re supposedly leaving soon. These are my experiences so far. I don’t know when I’ll be able to write again, if I’ll have access. I don’t even know if they want me alive. This all feels so complex and steeped in years of hidden history. It feels insurmountable. But you are reading my voice and I will keep it strong and loud for as long as I can. I can’t be the only one to bear witness. I hope to update you all soon.