Lower, down in the ravine, there is a small rustic shack with a light on, someone’s old hunting camp revived. From where I’m perched I can still hear the sweet sound of Bing Crosby’s Christmas playing out of the salvaged tape cassette deck. It is Christmas.
There are flakes of snow filtering through the pine trees. The air is crisp and stings the inside of my nose and I am imagining Christmas with my family again, in the backyard where my brother, standing on a sled, slides off the deck and down the snow packed stairs of our youth and away down the hill. It is Christmas.
There are a dozen of us hunkered down in scant pegged tree stands that orbit the shack. Inside, in a bag hangs the guts of a whitetail deer, bait for the gene stealers, the chupacabras.
A twig snaps and my heart thunders in the pitch-black of my chest. It is only a chipmunk, a small and cursed thing. They’re always tripping over the needles, the astillas. They are always increasing the chupacabra’s numbers. The tiny rodent moves again and rustles the frigid ground. In a moment my heart settles and I am back to Christmas again, Christmas and my parents with their endless borage of presents below our tree. I am there again warm and we are safe in the company and joy of our home. A tear burns down my frozen cheek and then I see them. They are silent, silent as the falling snow, silent as they move in and around the shack. There are at least a hundred. They howl and their needled backs flare.
I sit waiting for the signal, a shiver of cold and fear coursing through me. Shake it off Adam Douglas, I tell myself, you can’t miss this. We have all practiced the shot two-hundred times and it has replayed in my dreams so often it feels it has come to pass, that this now is the memory in some chilling reanimation.
I ease my finger onto the trigger of my rifle. I place the detonator of the liquid nitrogen canister in my site. I wish them all a Merry Flipping Christmas as the beeping sounds in my ear piece. The trigger squeezes back. There is the simultaneous ring of twelve rifles, twelve disciples of a new order firing in union, firing to resurrect mankind. There is a flash, a chemical cloud that shimmers in the strange darkness and then the silence falls again.
When the fog settles I descend from the tree and stand quietly, my breath pluming from my mouth and the chipmunk chattering, its tiny claws clicking on the cold bark of the pine tree. Flakes of snow filter down from the blue black sky and land on the crystalline figures, the shimmering gray chupacabras all frozen in their grim mannerisms, their spines jutting from their backs like smoke filled needles of glass, their claws like sickles. Some of the men are laughing and smoking while others are silent, their eyes fixed on a solitary star in the sky. It is Christmas.