Monday, August 11, 2014
The Battle of Schitt Creek
“Here he comes,” Turkle said calmly. “I got this.”
He could afford to be calm, Cochrane thought enviously. Turkle had the grenade launcher. It had been agreed he’d take the first shot at the monster mammoth. If the grenades didn’t bring it down, he and Cochrane would attack with their elephant guns. This, Dante had theorized, would buy time for other, stronger Peakies to arrive, with some of those spacey weapons they were said to possess. He and Turkle were expected to provide no more than a delaying action.
Cochrane sneered. Dante was just a werewolf. He didn’t know squat about what a real hunter could do.
Turkle walked placidly down the road toward the charging Hellephant. He knelt and settled the grenade launcher on his shoulder. “Welcome to the Peak,” Cochrane heard him say, just before he fired.
They all heard the boom and the whistle, then the second boom when the missile hit the monster on its hairy shoulder. Smoke and a bit of fire bloomed in its fur. The mammoth reared back with a screech of obvious surprise that its would-be victims could hurt it.
“And now that we got the range,” Turkle went on, “we finish the job. Sorry you got pulled out of bed for this,” he called back to Dante. “Lunch is on me.” He loaded another grenade and took careful aim at the mammoth’s skull.
The former Atcheson stood firm and waited, glaring at them from his scarily human eyes. Turkle fired his killing round.
Atcheson eyed the approaching grenade like a batter at the plate. An apt analogy, Cochrane realized seconds later when the mammoth-thing raised his trunk and swatted the grenade aside. It exploded harmlessly far out over the open meadow. The mammoth trumpeted what sounded like triumphant laughter.
“Scat,” Turkle said. “Wasn’t expecting that.”
Nor was anyone expecting the beast to lunge forward in a high-speed charge. Turkle dove for the safety of the high weeds at the side of the road, too late. Atcheson caught him up in his trunk. He sniffed at his captive, then thrust Turkle into his mouth.
“No!” Cochrane screamed. The old bird was a shapeshifter, inhuman, the kind of thing Cochrane had come here to kill in the first place, but over the last couple of days they’d found enough common ground to become fast friends. Nobody was going to make a turkey dinner of him while Cochrane had air in his lungs and a gun in his hand.
He raced toward Mammoth Atcheson, heedless of his own safety. When he figured he was in range, he started firing. It took only seconds for Cochrane to realize an elephant gun wasn’t going to do squat on a creature three times the size of an elephant and protected by a thick mat of hair. Not unless he got right up close and personal.
He was hastily reloading when he heard a series of muffled pops. The mammoth stopped and shook his head violently. The pops paused, then picked up again.
Cochrane grinned fiercely. The wily old bird. He must’ve had a pistol on him, and was now shooting directly inside the monster’s mouth. “Chew on that,” Cochrane snarled.
Instead of chewing, the mammoth spit. Turkle tumbled out of his mouth. Before he could hit the ground he shifted. The wild turkey streaked for safety, trailing ripped ribbons of camo. Atcheson snaked his trunk hungrily after him. Cochrane raised his gun.
The roar of Dante’s motorcycle warned him just barely in time to jump out of the way. The alpha wolf sped toward the monster, his pockets stuffed with grenades. Rafe, the golden eagle shifter, also soared mammothward, a grenade clutched in each taloned foot for an aerial assault.
Cochrane nodded. It might just work. They’d proven the grenades could hurt it. If they could knock out its legs, that would give Cochrane his chance. He hung back and let the shifters take their best shot.
For a while it looked like they had him. Dante lobbed his grenades at Atcheson’s legs, aiming for the vulnerable knees. When the mammoth went for Dante, the eagle tore a pin loose with his beak and dropped a pineapple as close to the monster’s skull as he could aim. The explosions probably caused the mutant beast’s wolf-sensitive ears more pain than the actual grenade. He certainly had a lot of roars and headshakes going on, and vigorous trunk-swipes at the circling eagle, but nothing seemed to be doing him any real damage.
Unfortunately, Rafe could only tote two grenades at a time. The eagle swept back toward Turkle’s pickup truck to reload. Free of that distraction, Atcheson turned on Dante. Cochrane had to admit Wolf Boy could work some serious maneuvers on that hog of his, but sooner or later either his skill or his luck was going to run dry, and then—
And then the Hellephant’s trunk dealt a glancing blow to the rear of the bike. Dante went skidding onto the berm and was thrown into the grass. The mammoth lifted one enormous foot and scanned the ground for his victim.
“Hey!” Cochrane shouted. He ran out into the center of the road and waved his gun over his head. “Atcheson! Yeah, I’m talking to you, you psycho shit! You remember me? You want a piece of me? Well, come and get me, motherfucker! You’re no hunter and you never were! You’re just one more friggin’ monster.”
The mammoth turned. His little eyes squinted at Cochrane. It took a full minute for recognition to set in. The monster loosed a roar full of hatred and charged him.
Cochrane got off two shots before the trunk wrapped around him like a huge hairy python and lifted him into the air. The hunter’s arms, along with the gun, were pinned to his sides. No matter. Cochrane was counting on all that insane hatred in the mammoth’s blue eyes and the rumble in his empty mutant tummy. “Go ahead, fuzzball. Do it,” he taunted. After the monster swallowed him, he figured he’d have just enough time to do some serious internal damage with the elephant gun before he suffocated. Maybe he’d even be lucky enough to hit a vital organ or two. It was how all hunters dreamed of cashing it in—in action, guns blazing. Who the hell wanted to die in bed like a pansy boy anyway?
“Come on!” Cochrane shouted as well as he was able with the trunk squeezing all the air out of him. “What are you waiting for?”
Atcheson glared at him, long and hard. Then he swung his trunk and hurled Cochrane up and away, at a high and no doubt fatal terminal velocity. The hunter didn’t even have a chance to get off a shot.
Cochrane had time to reflect that when he landed he was probably going to make the biggest, messiest splat Talbot’s Peak had ever seen.
TO BE CONTINUED…