Encounter

Adam Wilson is on a motorcycle tour in Europe when a strange object ruins his trip.

Encounter is part 1 of 3 short stories, they are the prequel to my science fiction novel 'Splinter'.

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2. Encounter

After removing his gear from the still smouldering tent, he looked over to other side of the bay, there was a large smoking hole in the ground which was filling with water, it must have been 30 meters across by 100 long. It could only have been a meteor or something similar, it looked like it had come in at an angle from the east, hitting the edge of the shore and piling up the ground in front of it for about 100 meters. Adam wondered how far underground it had gone, there was steam pouring from the gash in the ground as the water flowed in behind it. Pulling a 4 cell Maglite from the pannier on the side of the bike, Adam started walking around towards the other side of the bay, his legs still felt a bit wobbly but his hearing was starting to return, he was wondering what a meteor that size might be worth!

There were small fires everywhere, he stamped them out as he passed, he could not put them all out but thought it might help, it took him 20 minutes to get halfway to the crater, Adam was now sweating and had run out of energy, damn I should have taken the bike he thought, I'm getting far too old for this. Sitting down on a fallen tree he heard a grinding noise, his hearing had seemed to have returned to normal but he could not work out what the sound was. He stared over at the massive hole in the ground, it was getting darker now as the sun dropped behind the hills and the hole was still a good half mile or so away making it difficult to see , there was no indication as to what was causing the noise. Pulling out what was left of the joint, he lit it and pulled heavily, the smoke easing his fatigue, he sat listening to the weird sound, when suddenly it stopped. Standing up he tried to see but it was now far too dark, then some lights appeared, coming down from the other side of the hill, it looked like two men with torches. They were calling out in Portuguese and Adam had no idea what they were saying, they moved closer to the hole in the ground, shining their lights down into the hole and calling out. Adam wondered whether to shout across, hang on they might be police, he took one last toke on the joint and then crushed it out under his foot, then as he started walking on down, one of the lights went out and a man screamed, a terrifying sound in the fading light, the other man started running back up the hill, he too was shouting and screaming, then his torch was flying through the air and went out, silence reigned.

Panic filled his heart, his chest started heaving and he really wished he had not smoked that last joint. Turning off his torch and dropping down behind a fallen tree Adam looked out from underneath it, laying flat on the ground he could see nothing, it was now far too dark, but there were still noises coming from near the hole, it sounded like something moving about. Adam forced the feeling of panic down and thought quickly, he needed to get out of here, now! But he was scared to move, after half a bottle of wine and a joint he was in no fit state to run or figure this out, he decided to move as quietly as possible back towards his bike. He had gone about 200 meters when he heard the sound, dropping to the floor he pulled out the torch and held it like a weapon, it was nearly two foot long and quite heavy, this partly reassured him, holding his breath he waited. Some way off to his left he heard a faint sound, strangely there was no animal sounds at all, no birds, nothing. Whatever it was, it was getting closer, there seemed to be no pattern to its path though, Adam could hear it sweeping back and forth not more than 100 meters away, fighting down the urge to shine the torch out there, he slipped it back into its belt loop and then jumped up and started running back to his camp, fear driving him as fast as he could move through the woods.

Something landed on his back, he tried to scream but something else pricked his neck and he fell helpless, all his senses were working but he could move, his head was fine, but everything below where his neck was pricked would not obey his thoughts. He could still breath and his heart was working so he knew he would not die, then his body was rolled over, he could not quite see what had done it though, he got a glimpse of what looked like a brushed aluminium arm then felt himself being dragged along. Adam was glad he had not had time to remove his armoured riding clothes, he felt rocks and stones batter his body as it was dragged along, experimenting he found he could move his  head slightly, and some feeling was returning to his limbs, but not much.

The dragging felt like it was going on forever, then he was released and left alone, waiting for a while until there was no sound or movement, he turned his head, it responded slowly but he managed to look to his right, there on the ground were the other two men he had seen earlier, he could see the face of one, he was crying and Adam saw the fear in his eyes. It was obvious that they could not move either. Then the thing appeared and fear raced across his heart, Adam had always had this irrational fear of spiders and here right in front of him was a gigantic metal one, ok it had 6 legs and not 8, but it still looked like a spider. The long legs held a coffin shaped body about a meter off the ground, there were no other features at all and it looked like it was made of polished silver, Adam tried to work out exactly what it was, struggling to make his brain focus properly, the shock of what was happening not helping at all. The obvious thought was that it was alien, he could not really believe that, but could think of no other explanation and he had seen nothing like this before. Watching the spider suddenly turn and disappear into the woods, a thought struck him, how long would he be stuck here? He could feel his legs again and could just move his toes, whatever it was was slowly wearing off, he called out quietly to the other men, “Do you speak English? Can you hear me?” The crying man opened his mouth but nothing came out, he was absolutely terrified, Adam felt quite calm and wondered if it was the dope or the adrenaline, more movement was appearing in his limbs now and he could now move his left hand, he would have to play a waiting game, he could do nothing until his body would obey him.

Adam awoke with a start, totally disoriented he nearly screamed in panic and fear, keeping himself as still as possible he looked around, he must have slept for some hours as the sun was now coming up in the east, just starting to clear the hill tops across the Baragem. Turning slowly he saw that the two other men had not moved, both appeared to be asleep, he tried to move his arms and found that he could, his legs seemed fine as well, but all of his limbs ached and he felt like he had been beaten rather badly, steeling himself he sat up as slowly as he could, he did not know why he did it so slow, maybe an instinct of some kind. The spider was nowhere to be seen, slowly Adam crept across to the first man and touched him, his eyes opened and his mouth gaped, but no sound came out, obviously he still could not move. As he leaned closer, he felt something touch his neck, something sharp, leaning back Adam peeled off his armoured bike jacket, there in the collar was a thing that looked like a dart, feeling the back of his neck, he realised that the needle had only just touched his skin. Looking at the other two men he found needles in their backs, they were both lodged deep into the muscle, Adam had been lucky, he pulled out the needles and examined the men, both were alive but paralysed, he did not know what to do, should he try to help them or get away?

A noise behind him made him throw himself back to where he had been laid down by the spider, keeping himself still he watched it appear through the trees and stop a few meters away, Adam could see no eyes, but he felt it was watching him. It seemed to study him for a few minutes then turned away to examine the others, suddenly it grabbed one of the men and dragged him off towards the hole in the ground. The spider cared not for the fact it was leaving bits of him snagged on rocks and branches, it dragged him through the bushes at the edge of the hole and Adam could only imagine the pain as the man grunted at every impact. He had felt everything, even though he could not move, when he was drugged. There was nothing he could do for that man, at least he might be able to help the other. As the spider disappeared over the edge he moved quickly over to the other man, his eyes were glazed with terror, but he was starting to move slightly, Adam tried to help the man up and struggled, the man was a dead weight, he started to say something and Adam silenced him by putting his hand across his mouth. He held his finger to his lips to get the man to stay quiet, he was showing more signs of movement now, then man started to struggle and tried to help Adam in his attempts to lift him, he started gabbling in Portuguese and nothing Adam could do would quieten him down. Then a scream rendered the air, it came from the hole and was cut very short, this spurred Adam into a titanic effort, “Come on you, move!!” He managed to heave the man upright and supporting him got him moving away from the hole.

Sweat was pouring down his back, Adam was still wearing his armoured motorcycle gear, it had protected him when being dragged, but now was just slowing him down, he did not have time to remove it though, the thing might be back at any second. Removing the needle had helped, the man was getting more and more able to support his own weight. Adam kept glancing back, he knew they would not be able to outrun the spider thing, the configuration of its legs and body made it the idea all terrain vehicle. In the back of his mind he was remembering reading a book with something like this in, but could not remember the end, he thought they had encased it in concrete or frozen it, but he was not sure how it had ended. Whatever they had done in the book it was no help here in the middle of nowhere. The man was now gasping something in Portuguese and waving Adam to stop, they had covered about 300 meters up hill and Adam was glad to rest, they both sat down tried to slow down their breathing, when the spider appeared on the edge of the hole, it appeared to be looking at where they had been laying, The man went to jump up, but something made Adam hold him back, “Keep still and do not move.” He whispered at the man who stared back at him, then kept quiet and still.

The Spider moved in a quick circle around where they had lain, it looked like it was searching outwards around that spot. They must have been in plain sight but it appeared not to see them, Adam waited until he thought it was facing away from them and grabbed a rock, he then hurled it as far as he could into some bushes about 30 meters away, the spider reacted instantly, moving at an incredible speed towards the bushes, it disappeared into them and Adam quickly hustled the man in the opposite direction. Pulling him down behind a fallen tree they dropped out of sight, Adam peered around the edge of the tree and watched as the spider headed back to the same spot on the ground and started its search pattern again. This time slowly spiralling outwards. Each time it faced away from them they managed to get a little further away using available cover. Adam had now realised its vision or whatever was based on movement, if it got too close he threw a rock and it would scuttle off after it, then return to its starting point. This tactic allowed them to get some distance from the hole, around 1000 meters, then the spider stopped chasing the rocks, it had worked 10 times, but now the spider did not run off to investigate, it ignored the noise and carried on with its search pattern. It was learning.

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