It was one of the darkest nights out
on old Route 85 in quite some time. Barely
illuminating at all, the waning moon sat in the
sky like a disposed fingernail from the gods.
Patrol officer Percy Ellis looked down at the
digital clock on his cruiser’s dashboard. It
He heard the crackling of the police radio
and the mumbling between dispatch and the other
units. As he looked out into the night through
his cruiser window, he could see across
outstretched desert for miles.
The lights from distant towns in the
atmosphere emitted brownish hues that lit up the
rock walls and cliffs of plateaus bordering the
arid landscape. Between him and those rocks,
only sand and aimlessly wandering tumbleweeds
I can’t believe they stuck me with this
damn desolate route again, Percy thought.
Third week in a row since I got transferred.
Racist-ass townie sheriff thinks he can
treat me like shit because I’m black,
-----What the hell?
Percy was somewhat startled by something
that caught his eye on the side of the road as
his cruiser rode by. He thought to himself…Was
that an unmarked in the ditch?
He hadn’t seen anything on this road in
days, or maybe even a couple of weeks, but then
again it was hard to remember as most of the
nights out here seemed to run together. A
majority of the locals had forgotten by now that
old 85 existed, nonetheless knew it once served
as an original pathway for the railroads during
Pushing his resentful
emotions about the force and the sheriff aside,
Percy decided to whip around and investigate the
As he inched the nose of
his cruiser closer to the car, he started to
make out that it was indeed an unmarked police
“Oh, son of a bitch!” He
yelled out loud as he haphazardly grabbed for
his radio and signaled the station.
“Dispatch, there’s another unit out on my
route. A maroon unmarked interceptor, does
anyone care to explain?”
There were a few moments
of silence as the dispatcher on the other end
cleared her throat.
“Umm.., sorry Officer
Ellis,” the voice crackled. “We don’t have
anyone else on Old 85 tonight. That unmarked
isn’t on our schedule. Did you get a license
plate or unit number?”
“Yeah, it says unit 13,
license plate VST-661,” he replied. “I’m gonna
hop out real quick and see what’s going on.”
He put the vehicle into
drive and slowly pulled into the ditch, sending
flecks of golden sand into the air in a floating
wave. The radio crackled again as he unbuckled
“Officer Ellis,” she
said. “That unmarked belongs to Bernadine PD.”
“What? That town is
fifteen miles from here and in Evans County.
What the hell are they doing out here?” Percy
“I don’t know” Dispatch
continued, “but that car was assigned to Sgt.
“The same cop that
Captain said went missing last week?” Percy
“Seems to be,” the
“Holy shit. Will keep
radio contact” Percy muttered quickly then
thought to himself, This could be it, a
chance to show those assholes back at the
precinct how a real man does it.
As he stepped out of the
vehicle, he swiftly clicked on his flashlight
and directed its beam towards back window. They
were tinted so darkly that he could barely see
Just then, the car began to violently sway
from side to side, the suspension emitting
terrible shrieks as if some enraged beast was
caged up inside. Percy jumped back
instinctively, but gathered himself and sprang
“We have serious movement
here!” he yelled out to his radio, unable to
tell if his message had been received.
He continued, “We might have a rabid animal
on our hands here, I’ll check back in.”
Percy stepped away from
his still running cruiser and crept slowly over
to the front of the other cruiser, gun in one
hand and flashlight in the other.
He slowed his movement to a tiptoe as he
came around the corner of the front end. What he
saw there seemed like a nightmare, almost like a
horror movie he’d seen as a child.
Percy blinked his eyes quickly and then
adjusted them to the sight. A bloated body lay
in a crumpled pile, police uniform intact except
for the shirt which was unbuttoned and flapping
in the warm desert breeze.
He approached the corpse
whose sallow skin had sunk deeply into the bones
like he’d been drained. Ellis reached over him
to check his id tag, but it was missing.
He didn’t need the tag for a positive
identification though; he knew through the
misshapen body and bony face who it was.
His picture was all over the news and hung
in every police station for 200 hundred miles.
Shit, they’d even had a special meeting about
Matthew Moranis, and there he was, deader than
anything Percy had ever seen.
Pretty damn smelly too, he thought.
Just as Percy was beginning to relax,
movement again began to erupt from the car, this
time from the other side of the abandoned
Percy snapped back into a standing position,
gun raised and ready.
“Come out with your hands
Percy waited for someone
or something to present itself or respond, but
after a minute passed he realized he’d have to
make his way towards the trunk.
He could feel his heart beat in his chest
and throat as he inched closer to his fate,
unable to imagine what may be waiting for him.
The suspension of the car kicked up and two
dark figures took off, running down the
embankment into the desert
to Percy’s left.
Barely able to react, he
aimed the muzzle of his gun into the darkness
and shot several times. None of his rounds made
“Shit, Shit, Shit!”
Percy ran back toward his
cruiser and ripped the radio from the dash.
“Dispatch, I got two
suspects on foot heading north towards Red
Mountain Indian Reserve, one dead body at the
unmarked, I think it’s Moranis.”
He took a deep breath before continuing.
“I’m on the 46th mile marker of Route 85, and I
need back up now!”
Throwing the radio down
to the floor, he slammed the cruiser into drive
and let his tires squeal as he launched down the
ditch and went after the two mysterious figures.
Despite his hasty efforts to get in his car and
chase them, he wasn’t managing to keep up with
He grabbed the radio
“I can’t catch ‘em,” he
said in a frustrated manner.
“What the fuck, I can’t catch ‘em with the
cruiser… I’m going 98.”
Percy realized this
moment that something very strange and very
worrisome was happening. These suspects
couldn’t have been moving that fast could
they? Shaking off his concern, he pegged
the gas pedal, and watched the speedometer rise
“Back up is on their
way,” the dispatcher finally responded after
minutes of delay. “Just stick with them.”
The two, fleeing figures,
reached the base of Red Mountain and took a
sharp and impossible to replicate turn into the
Martian like boulders which lined the mountain
Ellis pulled his cruiser
up to the spot where they had entered. The
engine ticked and sizzled as it tried to cool
itself from the parched surroundings. All he
could see were massive boulders, fitting
together like giant puzzle pieces.
He couldn’t see where they’d disappeared to,
but then, as he leaned into the formation and
looked to his right, there was a very small
Ahh shit, do I wait for backup?
Both the urge to satisfy department protocol
and his own curiosity began to clash in Percy’s
mind. He thought to himself, This could be
my chance though, a chance to get off third
shift, and away from this Podunk station and
It didn’t take long for Percy to decide to
take off his duty belt and radio so he could
wriggle into the tiny crevice.
Shimmying into the tight opening, Percy
found himself in encompassing darkness.
Being careful to not drop his gun, he
shifted the firearm into his right hand, and
illuminated the cave with his flashlight in the
He followed the tunnel in
the only direction the suspects could’ve gone---
After five minutes of traveling down the
smooth, sandy tunnel, there was another opening.
This inlet was the entrance to a grand cave
about a hundred feet tall which looked more like
a cathedral than a rock formation.
The walls here were just as smooth as the
tunnel from before, but it was decorated like an
opera hall; three large chandeliers hung from
the ceiling and ornate furniture was arranged
about the room. Candles were placed everywhere,
emitting flickering flashes of brilliance and
shadows across the cave’s surface.
Percy had a hard time
taking in what he was seeing. He went to an
impossibly tall bookshelf where pictures in
gilded frames sat. He looked at two men,
seemingly from the pioneer age, arms around each
other’s shoulders, smiling and standing in front
a covered wagon.
Picking the picture up, he looked at the
date written in the corner: “1861.”
Refocusing on the task
at hand, he put the antique photo away and
thought to himself, where the hell had
Just then he heard voices from the tunnel,
voices he recognized as his back up.
“Officer Ellis? Officer Ellis, where’d those
suspects run off to?” one of the voices echoed
in a southern drawl.
“I don’t know, there’s no other way out of
here. Percy responded as he sat down dumbfounded
on the cool rock floor.
Three individuals made
their way down into the large cavern that Percy
was in. One of the men walked over to where he
was sitting and began to chat with him.
“Shit man, why don’t you head back out,
Percy. Sounds like you’ve been on one hell of a
goose chase. We’ll take care of it all from
Percy, still trying to catch his breath from
the chase, looked at them slightly puzzled.
“Damn you guys made it here fast as shit.
How’d you find the entrance of the cavern so
fast? It’s dark as hell outside.”
One of the officers grabbed a wax light off
one of the tables and made his way slowly over
to where Percy was sitting.
Percy looked up from his hands to address
the man with the candle face to face, but the
flickering light exposed an image that made him
There, not a foot from his own was the
sickly slender and emaciated face of Officer
Moranis, eyes completely blackened.
Percy tried to slowly
reach down for the holster holding his gun, but
his hands were shaking too furiously to control
“Whaa, whaaa…. what the fuck?” he somehow
managed to mutter.
“I just saw your body by the road, you’re
dead, you’re supposed to be dead.”
The creature that was Officer Moranis let a
cruel smirk come across his face, showing
enormous teeth flanked by decaying flesh, and
began to speak,
“See Officer Ellis, alive, dead, these are
trivial descriptions for someone in…our
The two men who remained in the shadows
before, now moved slowly into the candle light.
Their garb consisted of old cavalry
uniforms, colored in dark union blue with gold
trim. Their skin was also sickly yellow, and
their teeth far larger than those of Moranis.
Percy then felt what must’ve been urine
slowly dampen his slacks.
Moranis laughed, “You see, Officer Ellis,
you’ve been selected to carry on the time
honored tradition of the highwaymen.”
Looking back towards the more ravenous
creatures, Moranis continued.
“You see, they’ve been waiting for someone
just like you Percy. I was just a pawn to get
you here, but you are their real prize.”
“You see, one hundred and fifty years ago,
these men stumbled upon the sacred Indian burial
ground, you and I know as Red Mountain. As
members of the 65th scout cavalry, they too
wanted to impress their commander, and as such,
slaughtered the small tribe of natives whom
lived there. Little did they know that they had
brought upon themselves a terrible curse, which
can only be passed, but never cured.”
The two ungodly creatures, now breathing and
panting heavily, began to circle around behind
where Percy was sitting.
Percy tried to get up and run, but his
entire body remained paralyzed by fear.
Moranis bent in close and whispered,
“Goodbye, Percy, and welcome, Mr. Ellis.”
The hot breaths of the two other men sent
shivers down Percy’s spine, and a pair of
enormous fangs, sank deeply into parallel
portions of his neck.
As his eyes rolled slowly upward into his
head, a strange smile came across his face.