Fiction: “Southern Nevada, October 1958”

Screenshot (72)
Still from “The Giant Gila Monster”

Originally published at Chicago Literati, October 18, 2016.

Dispatch.Yes ma’am. Yes, we… Ma’am, please slow down. Uh-huh. Strange glow. Humming sound. Mm-hm. And how far is your house from the testing grounds? Oh, that far? Well, it’s probably nothing to be alarmed about but we’ll certainly look into it. Ma’am, can you please hold?

Say, Kellogg, you and Gordon out near Highway 5? Yeah, got some reports of some kind of disturbance. Weird noises, lights, that kind of thing. Just keep your eyes open, OK?

Dispatch. OK, sir, calm yourself. Forced you off the road, you say? You sure this wasn’t a deer? It is mating season, and they can get pretty- OK, sir? Sir! I’m gonna ask you not to raise your voice at me. Yes sir, if you say a lizard, I believe you. Mm-hm. Yes, I’ll have a couple of our men investigate.

Dispatch. Oh, hello again, ma’am. No, I didn’t forget about you. A cloud? Well, ma’am, I’m not sure that’s a police matter. Maybe try the meteorology department over at the college in the morning. Oh, a cloud in your kitchen? Yes ma’am, that is unusual. I’m still not certain what we can do, but- You think it’s what? “Sentient?” I’m sorry ma’am, I’m not familiar with that term. Uh-huh. Oh, I see. And you’re certain the water wasn’t boiling before this “cloud” arrived? OK, we’ll send a couple of men over. Just keep calm and, uh, maybe stay out of the kitchen for the time being.

Kellogg, Gordon, change of plans. Head over to 1549 White Sands Road. We’ve got a… well, possible home invasion, I suppose? It’s hard to describe, but- Good lord, Kellogg! What was that noise? What? Come on, that didn’t sound like any lizard I ever heard. How big? Oh golly, y’know, that might just line up with what that other fellow was calling about. No one’s hurt, though? Right, you follow up on the big lizard. I’ll send some other officers over to White Sands.

Arnold? Yeah, you and Douglas available to investigate a disturbance over at 1549 White Sands? Woman reports an uninvited cloud in her kitchen. That’s right, I said “cloud.” Thinks it might be senda… sendy… uh, thinks it might be alive. Yeah, yeah, I know, just check it out, all right? And look, if this thing turns out to be anything, your first instinct is probably gonna be to empty your revolver into it while backing away slowly. Do not do that, understand me? You remember what happened to Francis a couple summers ago? Right. Right, so be careful out there, got it?

Dispatch. Oh, Professor, long time no hear! Oh yeah? Wait, again? Didn’t you just lose a swarm of radioactive bees last month? Oh, beetles. Yeah, I guess that is different, technically speaking. What was that? Flesh? You mean like, human flesh? Well now, why in the heck would you be breeding beetles that eat- You know what, never mind. And there are how many of them? Oh, come on now, Professor, you swore you were going to be more careful after last time. You know the chief put his neck out for you, don’t you? Those army guys were ready to leave you right there in that abandoned mineshaft! All right, all right, don’t get emotional. I’ll let the officers know. Uh-huh. Yeah, we should. Maybe Sunday after church? I hear good things about that new Italian place over by the high school.

Hey, Kellogg, any luck with that lizard? Need you to run over to the college and talk to the Professor about some beetles. Oh yeah? Well, that doesn’t sound good, but there are lots of things out in the desert that could do that to a cow. Oh, a whole herd? Golly, that’s different. Think I should call over to the base, have them send some troops? OK, just let me… Hey, what was that noise? Was that Gordon? Are you men OK? Kellogg? Kellogg? Hm. That’s odd.

Dispatch. Oh, General Rebane, I was just about to call you. Two of our men are on the trail of this giant liz- Whoa, whoa whoa. Take it easy, General. Now, how exactly did someone manage to wander into the blast zone? Oh, three people? Hold on, let me write this down. Uh-huh, leading nuclear physicist… Mm-hm… Girl reporter? Not that sweet gal from the Herald, was it? Oh no, now that’s a real shame! Mm-hm. Mm-hm. And an escaped convict? Well now, how would you even know he was… Oh. Oh, I see. Yeah, that actually makes sense when you put it that way. OK, and do you know the whereabouts of any of these three? Uh-huh. Well, you know better than I do how unlikely that is, but we always try to think positive. I’ll put the word out.

Hey Arnold, how’re things looking out at White Sands? General Rebane needs- Oh, hello, Douglas. Where’s Arnold? Oh, for the love of… Did he really? After I specifically warned him not to? That thick-headed birdbrain. So where is Arnold now? Ugh, are you pulling my leg? And the lady too? Now. when you say a puddle, you mean like a puddle of water, or is it more of a paste? I don’t know, just curious, I suppose. All right, don’t bite my head off. Yeah, you’re right, probably doesn’t matter in the long run. But the cloud’s out of the kitchen? OK then, Douglas, I need you to head on over to the base and talk to the General about some missing persons.

Dispatch. Oh, Kellogg it’s you. How goes the lizard hunt? Wait, back up. You’re saying the lizard is 20 feet tall? Wow, that’s bigger than I anticipated. Oh no, wait, you’re saying Gordon is 20 feet tall? Well now, how in the heck did he manage that? Boy, between Gordon and Arnold, you guys are gonna turn my hair gray before the night’s out. Tell me his uniform at least grew along with him. Uh-uh. Oh, golly, that’s not good. OK, well, I guess see if there’s some way you can, I don’t know, de-biggen him? And don’t forget to keep an eye out for that lizard! And keep Gordon away from town! The last thing we need is to get the Catholic League up in arms.

Dispatch. Yes ma’am. Uh-huh. Oh, yes ma’am! No, no, I believe you. Just tell me this: is one of the heads a pretty brunette, got a little mole on her left cheek? Ah-hah, I thought we might be dealing with something like this. No, ma’am, nothing to worry about, they’re probably more frightened than you are. Right. Well, if they do approach you, be aware that one of the heads is a convicted felon, but the other two are level-headed enough – sorry, no pun intended – reasonable enough that they should be able to keep him in check.

Hello, Douglas? I have a lead on those missing persons. Oh, sorry to interrupt. Say hello to the General for me. Actually, he’ll want to hear this too. Say, what’s that noise? Oh, right, the beetles! I forgot all about the beetles. Uh, Douglas, are you indoors right now? No? OK, I’m gonna advise that the two of you get indoors immedia- Oh heck, that better not be what it sounds like. Douglas? Douglas? General Rebane? Ah, shoot…

Dispatch. Whoa, whoa, whoa, sir. I’m going to need you to lower your voice. OK, that’s still a little loud. Wait, Gordon? Is that you? How in the heck are you operating a radio unit in your condition? Right, right, never mind that. Come again? Oh, you got the lizard? Why, that’s great news! Oh, but the lizard got Kellogg? Well, that’s, uh, less great. But you’re sure it’s dead? Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Yeah, I’d have to say that sounds dead to me. Well, listen, Gordon, you just stay put. We’re a little short-handed right now, but as soon as Kowalski and the day shift get in, I’ll have them send out a unit for you. Plus some really big pants.

Hi, Professor. Just wanted to update you on those beetles. Seems they made their way out to the base, and- Oh, really? “Ultraviolet sensitivity.” So you’re saying we need to trap them in a purple blanket or some such? Oh, sunlight! Yeah, yeah, of course. Well, that’s good, I guess all we have to do is hold out a couple more hours. Doesn’t do much good for Douglas and the General, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. Still on for Sunday? Great, looking forward to trying that stromboli.

Dispatch. Oh, yes, ma’am. Are they still out there? They are? Well, that’s one less thing to wor- Oh. Oh, I see. That’s awful. Well ma’am, I’m very sorry to hear about your dog, but I’m going to advise you to stay indoors until that cloud is gone. Mm-hm. Well, if it’s like any other puddle I’ve seen, it’ll evaporate when the sun comes out. Ma’am, please… Ma’am, I’m just trying to offer a solution. Wait, you say they’re approaching the cloud? Oh, they mustn’t do that! Quick, call out and warn them to- What? She is? And… and you think it’s listening? Son of a gun, maybe the thing is sediment after all. And the other heads, are they saying anything? No? It is? She did? It’s leaving? Hot dog, I knew there was something special about that gal! Listen, once you’re sure that cloud is gone, you tell those heads to come on over to the station house. I’ll get my friend the professor over here and see if we can’t work something out for them. You have a lovely morning, ma’am.

Dispatch. Oh, hey there, Kowalski, how’s tricks? Uh-huh. Well, just how late are you gonna be? Uh-huh. Need a little extra time to sleep one off, eh? Heh, no, no, I’m just fooling. Sure, I can cover for you for an hour or so. Lord knows I could use the overtime. No, no, don’t mention it. Happy to oblige. It’s been kind of a slow night here anyway.

Dispatch. Ah, hello, Mr. Randel. Don’t tell me, they’re walking around again? Boy, seems like we just got ‘em back in the ground. Maybe you should start renting those plots out by the hour, huh? Yep, you know the drill. Just try to keep them on the grounds and we’ll get someone over there as quick as we can. So hey, you been getting out to the golf course much these days?

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