A Day in the Cornfield
by Glenn Gray
One day, Karl and Stew discover strange “turd”-like things appearing in their cornfield. The things have a strange power of mimicry, and their intentions are far from clear. Karl and Stew elicit the help of Sheriff Maynard and his daughter Roxy. Consternation ensues, and the once quiet farm becomes the epicenter of national attention.
Polowski had just finished updating Gunny Sergeant Monica Charles and her team when the rumbling started. He knew what that meant. Trouble. He shouted for everyone to get back. People kicked into motion with saluting, nervous chattering and running about.
Then an eerie calm. Bodies froze. Eyes gazed ahead with anticipation.
The mountain of gel vibrated and shifted colors rapidly. The great shadow cast on the ground now shimmering. Stew and Roxy’s voices squeaked faintly in the wind.
The mountain bubbled in and out, surged up and down, shook and curved.
The transformation was fast. The central portion shot skyward and then there was a head and arms, legs and wings. It stood, a confused look about it, as if it was trying to figure out where it was.
It looked like no one in particular. Not Stew or Bongo or Ida or Karl. It seemed the DNA components had mixed enough so that the end result was some hideous conglomeration. A twisted human face with dog ears and bird beak, patches of skin, feathers and fur covered its torso and limbs. The arms were winged, grayish patches of skin and feathers billowing out from the edges, human-like hands at the ends. One hand clutched Roxy, the other, Stew.
The legs were ugly combinations of human, dog and bird. Knobby human knees with clawed veiny feet. A humungous dog tail hung off its rear, like a giant tentacle, ending in a distorted human foot-like structure.
* * *
Dr. Kristine Taylor busied herself at the shiny black lab counter, the jug of toilet water sloshing at her chest. Pierre gathered small glass beakers, carried them over. Taylor pinched the remaining blob of gel in metallic tweezers, placed it on the counter and cut it in half. She dropped the other half back in the original container and covered it.
Pierre clanked the beakers, arranging them in a line, moving quickly but trying to be careful. He found a few more in an overhead cabinet, glass tinkling as he set them in a row. Taylor pulled small containers of solution from various cabinets and shelves. She lined them up.
Pierre stood by, counting twenty beakers out loud, stabbing at each one as his hand moved down the line. “Here they are. What’re we doing?”
“Need to find out exactly what dissolved the gel. It just disappeared in that toilet. Gone. I want to know what did it.”
“A way to fight it?”
Taylor began pouring small amounts of liquid into each beaker; one with hydrochloric acid, another with hydrogen peroxide, another with ammonia, pure water, even some coffee, soda and various other chemicals.
She cut the blob on the counter in half once more, grabbed the small piece with the tweezers and dropped it in the first beaker with the hydrochloric acid. Nothing. Floated right to the bottom. She fished it out, plopped it in the next beaker with the hydrogen peroxide. Nothing. She went down the line, dropping it in nineteen beakers. Nothing happened. She held it over the last beaker, which contained a small amount of the toilet water. She looked at Pierre and opened the tweezers, dropped it in. PFFFT. Gone. Dissolved.
“Wow,” Pierre said.
“Yeah, wow.” Taylor said. “We already know that pure water didn’t dissolve it, so the only difference is urine.”
“Yup. Pee. Crazy, right? I’ll be right back.” She left with an empty beaker and returned a short time later, the beaker now containing a small amount of her own urine. She sliced off another tiny piece of gel, dropped it into the beaker. PFFFT.
“Bingo,” she said.
Gunny stared up at the towering blob beast, looked at Polowski, then back at the beast.
Polowski said, “Told ya!”
“Fall back, all!” Gunny said.
Taking shelter behind a truck, Gunny got on her radio. “Get ready, boys!”
“Wait!” Polowski said. “That thing’s got two people in its hands.”
“One’s my daughter!” the Sheriff said.
“Have you tried any artillery on this thing?” Gunny said. “Anything at all?”
“Just a few bullets from my pistol,” Sheriff said. “Ain’t done a thing. Was like mosquito bites!”
“We didn’t get a chance to use anything,” Polowski said. “Been too risky. We got it cornered and it just turned back to gel. Then it seeped underground.”
Gunny spoke to the radio again, “Get a chopper in the sky. Just in case. I want some heavy ammo fired at one of its legs. See what we’re dealing with here. See if we can slow it down.”
“Sergeant,” Polowski said, hoping she’d reconsider, given Roxy and Stew, then changed his mind. “Nothing.”
Gunny yelled a command into the radio, and one of the tanks rumbled forward menacingly. The large-caliber cannon angled up then down, rotated, taking aim. Ida put her hands over her ears. A pause that felt like eternity, then a thunderous boom and a cloud of fiery smoke. The ground shook.
One of the thing’s legs went wobbly, turned to gel, then liquified and the beast went down on one knee. Just as fast, the liquid turned back to gel and the leg reformed and the thing stood and let out a guttural, deep crying wail that stopped everyone for a moment. It was followed by a mournful, drawn-out low growl.
It took some more steps, half-galloping, as if working out a cramp. The winged arms flapped but didn’t do much; it couldn’t get off the ground. It took long, bouncy steps.
A chopper swung into view, a long, black ladder dangling from its open side door, swaying in the wind.
Polowski’s phone buzzed and vibrated.
* * *
Taylor and Pierre bolted from the lab. Upon opening the door to the outside, it was immediately evident that they couldn’t use Pierre’s car; it was crunched up alongside the low brick wall.
“Come on,” Taylor said, “let’s take mine!” She turned and ran across the parking lot. Pierre followed.
Taylor tossed Pierre the keys. “You drive. I need to call the Captain.”
They hopped in the car and Pierre gunned the engine and sped away.
Taylor got out her mobile, punched numbers. “Captain? Yes. Yes. Listen. I got it. I figured out what dissolves the gel stuff. You’re not going to believe it. Yup. Ready? Urine. What? Yes. Urine! Pee, yes! Something related to the urea compound I think. No time for that much detail. I’ll work on that next. Talk to your people. See where you can get gallons and gallons of urine. Fast! I’m on my way!”
Stew was scared pretty much for the first time all day. He could hardly breathe, being squeezed by the turd thing’s huge hairy fist. And this thing had the ugliest face he’d seen on it yet.
He was whipping up and down in wide fast arcs, as if he were on some ride at a carnival, like the “Whipper Snapper” or some such thing. He could catch a glimpse of Roxy every now and then as the thing swung its arms. She looked okay, squished too, but okay, and one time he screamed out to her but he couldn’t be sure if she heard.
He could make out a helicopter whizzing around now, maybe two. And a minute ago he thought he was going to die for sure. He heard a boom and saw the puff of smoke in front of one of the big tanks, and the turd thing halted and jilted off to the side and almost fell. He hoped they weren’t going to start shooting higher. Stew thought the thing was going to fall, and he’d get mushed on the ground, but now the thing was back up and slowly hopping along.
It was moving away from his cornfield, heading in the direction of old Corlett’s farm. In the distance he could make out a regular old car speeding along the dirt road toward his farm, kicking up a fluffy cloud of road dust.
* * *
Taylor and Pierre tore into the farm entrance, almost crashing into the corral fence, spun around behind the wall of military vehicles, toward the large group of official looking military personnel. Pierre recognized his team of fellow scientists and Captain Polowski and pointed, “There!”
They glimpsed the monster stomping away through the cornfield.
“Holy cow,” Taylor said. “That thing is huge!”
Pierre skidded to a halt and they jumped from the car, heading straight towards Polowski.
Polowski noticed them briskly approaching, turned to face Taylor. He tapped Gunny’s arm. She turned, a slightly annoyed look on her face, then noticed the harried young lady.
“Sergeant,” Polowski said, “this here’s the scientist with some answers. Wait’ll you hear it.”
Taylor told them everything she knew. About the ribosomes, the DNA, protein synthesis, the little man, cutting up the gel, the little girls, then the toilet and her experiments and the urine.
“Pee?” Gunny said.
“Pee,” Polowski said.
“Uh-huh,” Karl said, listening from the rear of the group. “Funny, huh? How it takes some pee to dissolve a turd thing? Ain’t that a hoot.”
Stew was getting dizzy. Being thrashed up and down like that. One time he was able to see Roxy passing up when he was swinging down and she had one arm out and waved it and Stew thought he heard her yell to him. That made him feel better.
He could also see now that the thing had crossed over to Corlett’s farm and was headed towards his cornfield. What is with these cornfields anyway?
The thing was squashing everything in its path. Big footprints and crushed corn. Two helicopters buzzed around the things head, keeping a safe distance.
And then the thing started to fall.
Stew saw the ground approaching fast and then the thing’s hand hit the dirt and opened, and he tumbled head over butt a few times and came to rest sitting up amongst the stalks. He climbed to his feet, a little dazed, and called out, “Roxy!”
* * *
Karl, Sheriff and Ida jumped onto one of the military jeeps that was part of the convoy following the thing over to the next farm.
Gunny was already on her way after hearing Taylor’s presentation about the pee. Tanks and vehicles loaded with soldiers followed as well.
Polowski sent some of his men forward. He stayed behind, frantically making calls, trying to locate the nearest sewage plant.
Copyright © 2014 by Glenn Gray