Beware of Them
Shinacook Creek, New Mexico
Shinacook Creek... a small quiet town just West of Alamogordo. Population was about 150 people. Emphasis on the WAS. For almost all 150 of them were now missing... and the town itself was torn apart. It reminded Doctor Alexander Valiant of his time spent in Europe back during the War. As one could imagine, they weren't exactly pleasant memories.
New Mexico State Police Sergeant Whitmore was there waiting for him at the hastily built headquarters set up near the center of the town. The big man couldn't help but notice some of the stares he got from the officers, like the kind you saw on folks when they bumped into a movie star, sports celebrity... or in his case... a war hero. Doc tried though, to keep his mind on the business at hand.
The Police Sergeant looked tired and disheveled. He looked like a man overwhelmed. Doc really hoped he could help.
"Thank you for getting here on such short notice Doctor Valiant." stated Sgt. Whitmore shaking the superscientist's hand. Doc merely nodded "Pleasure to meet you Sarge," he replied looking back out on the destroyed homes and businesses. "Looks like you got quite the situation here."
The Sarge chuckled, a nervous... anxious... kind of chuckle, "You don't know the half of it." he said, a twitch in his eye. Compared to the man before him, Whitmore looked as though he were on the edge of a mental breakdown. "The reports said you had some... survivors???" asked Doc, looking absolutely calm, wanting to get to work ASAP.
Whitmore sighed "Yes... two children. They were found hidden in a cupboard." he replied. Valiant could sense there was more to it. "BUT... ?" he asked expectantly. The Sarge sat down at his desk, visibly shaken.
"BUT they're in shock." answered the policeman. "Lord knows what they saw... what they heard... even if they came out of it..." gasped Whitmore, "wouldn't wish their nightmares on ANYONE." Doc sighed, closing his eyes, getting lost in deep thought.
"Is there ANYTHING that can give us a clue?? Remains??" he asked, to which the Sarge shook his head no. "Aside from blood, no... at least not that we could find." he replied.
"Then I'm going to need to inspect the town." said Doc.
If you were to ask Doc what the scene looked like, up close, he'd probably answer 'natural disaster'. It looked as if something had physically plowed through this town with a great amount of strength. Valiant ruled out superhumans, a superpowered human would leave remains. If it was an individual with the needed strength or power to level this town, there'd be the tell-tales signs such carnage would leave behind. On top of that there'd be more than two survivors. This looked like it was done with an amazing amount of speed.
BUT Doc also ruled out what people called 'magic'... this is far too sloppy for magic. Or at least as far as he knew about that field. There just seemed to be a distinct lack of humanity behind this destruction. Just about everything in this town was taken. GONE. No sign of man nor beast.
He ruled out bombs, because these structures were torn down, bit by bit from the looks of things... not shattered by an explosive. No fiery or charred pieces... no it was not a bomb. It was almost as if the walls were... pulled down...?
Followed by some guards, Doc went over and inspected one of the more solid wooden structural beams. It was largely intact... save for the middle, which had two deep gashes in it... that looked like someone had chopped into it. But from both sides?!?! Something in the back of Valiant's mind suddenly clicked. And with that he began coming up with a hypothesis, one that he hoped was wrong.
But he still needed to verify this dire hypothesis. "Let's see the roads." he said, turning towards one of his escorts.
The roads were primarily of the gravel variety, making it hard to pick out anything that wasn't particularly obvious, such as the dried blood pools. The clay-like dirt and rocks made finding something like complete footprints hard. So Doc concentrated on the more available clues.
As he inspected the blood, which there was a decent amount of, Doc made note of the 'splatter patterns'. A large number of them seemed to be from a certain angle... or direction along the gravel road. His incredible mind began to calculate and visualize a possible reason why. The big man began to follow the trail of these 'patterns'. They led him near the outskirts of the town, on one of the few entry-roads.
"It started here." he said aloud, taking mental notes. Pointing to a very dry bloodstain, "I'm guessing someone must've heard something... or saw something... and was soon joined by a group of people." he stated. "Whatever attacked this person right here... must've sent the others scattering." he muttered. Rummaging through his pouches Valiant pulled out a cotton swab and ran it over some of the bloodstains.
He then looked to the nearby houses and structures. As he walked over to a pile of debris, Doc noticed something in the soil he hadn't spotted till now... a series of holes. It looked as though someone tried to drive poles into the dirt. The superstrong scientist went once more into his belt pouches, producing a tape measure. Using this tool he took careful measurements of each of these 'post holes'. The average measurement was between 9 and 10 inches wide.
"I need something." he said, looking up at one of the guards. "Any plaster available??" he asked. The soldier turned to one of his squadmates and sent the man out back towards the tent. Within minutes they came back with the desired plaster.
Doc poured some of the plaster into one of these "post holes", filling it up to the top. Letting it dry, Valiant went back to his investigation, posting one of the escorts at that spot.
The holes made it a bit more easier to create a better mental picture. And what said mental picture showed greatly alarmed the big man. But he needed more evidence if he were to present this to the authorities. As he waited for the plaster to dry, Valiant walked into the remains of what was once a house. Sighing as he walked past the family photos, broken toys and well-worn furniture, trying not to let those images sink in, he studied the carpet and floorboards.
Having superstrength came with some benefits, and one was being able to clear debris by yourself. Following the path of destruction through the once cozy home, he came upon a door leading to (what he figured was) the basement. More blood was present, sprayed along the wallpaper like some twisted macabre abstract painting. And something else... was dotting the floorboards. It looked like burns.
Acid burns. Doc's eyes widened.
Rummaging through his equipment pouches, Doc brought out a compact camera. After taking a few snaps from various angles, he returned the object back to his belt.
The more that was revealed to him, the more Valiant's face turned grim. Sighing, he headed back towards the plaster hole. After a few seconds, he removed the cast mold. To the soldiers gathered around him, the plaster mold looked almost like a rather large shark tooth. It was a deep hole... or more specifically... footprint.
"What is it Doctor Valiant??" asked a nearby guard.
"Bad news. Very bad news." replied the Doctor in question as he looked out into the distance, his mind now making a more solid recreation of the incident. And it didn't look good.
For Doc Valiant now knew what had befallen this quiet little town, something without pity or mercy, with a cruel driving ambition to conquer and spread the likes of which the world had never seen. Something that, if left unchecked, could quickly spread to the four corners of the world within months... and bring humanity close to extinction.
But he was more worried with how he'd explain it all, it sounded so fantastic. How could you get someone to believe you? How could you convince people that what they were dealing with... were Ants... Giant Ants?
To Be Continued...