Farmer Jenkins stood on the porch, sleeves rolled after a hard day working the fields, smoking his pipe and feeling the cool breeze against his face as the storm rumbled closer and closer to his homestead. A premature darkness had befallen the farm; the normally spectacular sunset blanketed by the ominous black clouds moving in from the east. The storm season weather often ate into their daylight, but this year had been particularly gloomy. The darkness seemed more intense, more menacing than usual.
A powerful bolt of lightning crashed down from the heavens, briefly illuminating the plains with an ethereal glow. The cool breeze froze into a deathly chill, and Farmer Jenkins recoiled. He rubbed his eyes, dazed. Some distant object had revealed itself in the brief flash of the lightning bolt; massive, looming against the encroaching darkness. What it was, he could not say for sure. Unsettled by this remote encounter, Farmer Jenkins dumped his pipe and returned to the safety of his house. Perhaps, he thought, his tired eyes had been playing tricks.
That night he suffered from terrible dreams. He dreamt he was a beautiful bald eagle soaring majestically over the plains. The euphoria of flight filled his soul with wonder and freedom. But then he was struck, cut down by some sort of massive blade. He screeched out in unfathomable agony as the mysterious blade spun, his shattered wings tangled within its cruel gravity. Eventually the blade completed its orbit, flinging his limp bird body towards the earth, and he awoke from this horrible sequence just as he was about to slam into the ground.
His wife, Susie Jenkins, was not in the bed with him. Confused, he rolled over and caught glimpse of her staring intensely at something through their bedroom window.
“The hell you lookin at woman?” he grunted.
Susie Jenkins said nothing.
“Well? Did them fuckin cows git out again or sumthin?”
His wife remained silent.
Annoyed, Farmer Jenkins climbed out of the bed and made his way over to the window. Susie did not move. She did not flinch, nor did she appear to acknowledge his presence at all. Farmer Jenkins touched her arm, then gave her shoulder a gentle shake.
“Woman?” There was uncertainty in his voice now.
Suddenly, as if released from a trance, Susie Jenkins collapsed onto the floor, shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. A deep, guttural howl emitted from the pit of her soul, and when Farmer Jenkins looked into her eyes, he could see himself clearly reflected into the black voids of her supersized pupils. She reached upwards, arms flailing desperately.
Farmer Jenkins turned towards the window she had been looking through. Outside, his fields of corn and wheat stretched endlessly, the morning sun casting its gentle light across the crops. A rooster crowed and one of the horses nickered. Peaceful, as always. Whatever had so thoroughly spooked his wife, it was not there now. At least not that he could see.
“The hell you goin on bout woman?” he demanded, helping Susie back to her feet. “Ain’t nothin out there cept’ corn an wheat an shit.”
“I… I… I saw it…” she stammered.
His wife began sobbing again. Frustrated, Farmer Jenkins waved her off and started on down the stairs. He didn’t have time for such nonsense – today would be another tough day working the fields, and he would need to roll up his sleeves soon.
He made his own breakfast – cereal, toast, a banana – and then set out for the barn, eager to start his morning rounds tending to the livestock. It was warm when he stepped outside, and the sunlight felt good against his skin. He took a deep breath and smiled. There was nothing quite like a long day of back-breaking labor. It was all he had ever known, and as far as he was concerned, all he should ever know.
Something fell from the sky as he moved towards the big, red barn, landing in the dirt a few feet in front of him. Startled, Farmer Jenkins stared uneasily at the object – a mangled tuft of feathers – confused. It was a dead bird. He glanced upward, and the sky above him was a tranquil blue.
“Musta been sick or sumthin,” he grunted, stepping over the tiny corpse. The dogs would find it soon enough.
He was almost to the barn doors when another lifeless bird body plummeted down from the sky. Then another. And another. Farmer Jenkins froze as more and more of the beaked corpses began to crash down around him, smacking into the dirt or bouncing off the sloped roof of the barn. Eventually the deluge became so great that the sky was blackened by the ghastly downpour. It was raining dead birds.
Terrified, Farmer Jenkins raced to the barn, throwing open the doors and then hurriedly latching them back shut once he was safely inside. Above him, the sound of the cursed rain pattering against the roof filled him with dread. The goats and pigs and glanced amongst each other, seemingly oblivious to the bleak chaos outside.
After several long minutes the rain finally stopped. Farmer Jenkins waited a bit to be sure, then cautiously opened the barn doors to peek outside. The sun had returned and the sky was back to that peaceful blue. There was not a single dead bird in sight.
Alarmed, Farmer Jenkins rubbed his eyes and then slapped himself across the face for good measure. How could this be? He checked behind the barn; combed through the corn fields, but still there was nothing. No little bird bodies anywhere. The dread intensified. He had seen them, felt their lifeless bodies colliding with his own. Feverish thoughts began to permeate the channels of his mind. Was he going crazy? Or was something more sinister afoot?
His deliberations were interrupted by his wife yelling to him from the porch that there was a phone call. Farmer Jenkins shook his head, gave himself another, firmer slap across the face, and then hurried inside.
“Hello?” he grunted into the phone receiver.
“Farmer Jenkins?” asked the voice on the other end.
“Ya. Who is this?”
“This is Carlos Korte with Bank of America. I’m calling in regards to the second mortgage you had inquired about.”
“Ah, yes.” Though he would never admit it, Susie and him had been struggling of late. Profits were down, and keeping the farm operational was starting to eat into their savings. After careful consideration, Farmer Jenkins had determined that debt consolidation via a new loan would help keep them afloat until their fortunes turned.
“I’m afraid we had to reject your application,” said the banker.
“Well, we ran an appraisal and it seems the value of your property has declined by almost seventy-five percent. Given this development, we are unable to offer you the loan as previously discussed.”
“Seventy-five percent?” roared Farmer Jenkins. “The fuck you talkin bout? Who told you that? What reasonin do they got?”
“Because they’re out there,” said the banker. “You can see them.” The line went dead.
Farmer Jenkins slammed the phone down. Seventy-five percent! He couldn’t believe it. His land was pristine; rolling hills which gave way to long stretches of fertile soil, and his buildings had all been meticulously maintained. A natural creek cut a winding path across the property, and several pockets of dense forest allowed room for expansion. Over the years, a handful of larger farms had even made lucrative offers on the land, though Farmer Jenkins always turned them down. Seventy-five percent… Surely there must be some sort of mistake. Dismayed, he head back to the front porch to deliver Susie the bad news.
Again, his wife was staring strangely out across the fields. “Do you hear that?” she asked as he approached.
“I don’t know.” She hung her head. “Like a humming of sorts.”
“A hummin? The hell you on bout now?” Farmer Jenkins sighed. “Look Suz, the banker man just called. He says we ain’t gettin that second loan on the farm cause the property value dropped seventy-five percent.”
But Susie Jenkins was not listening. “I don’t feel good,” she said, keeping her head hung low. “I think I’ll go lay down for a bit.”
Farmer Jenkins waved her off. As she vanished inside, he realized that most of the day had already been lost. The storm clouds were forming over the horizon, and the darkness would soon follow. Feeling defeated, he followed his wife inside and poured himself a strong whiskey drink. Tomorrow, he decided, would be better.
Despite all the whiskey, Farmer Jenkins could not sleep. The storm raged something fierce that night, torrential rain and explosive thunder rattling the foundation of the house. Fearing no end to the restlessness, Farmer Jenkins crawled out of bed and walked over to the window overlooking the fields. He wondered what his wife had seen the previous morning, and what she had subsequently heard that afternoon. And what about the dead birds? Were they both going crazy? Farmer Jenkins blinked rapidly, trying to focus his thoughts.
Lightning flashed outside, alleviating the otherwise formidable darkness of the stormy night. Illuminated within the glow was the same mysterious structure Farmer Jenkins had witnessed the night before, though much closer now. The old farmer pressed his face and hands against the glass, hoping that another lightning strike would grant him a better view. Sure enough, a subsequent electrical blast surged down from the heavens, bathing his fields in angelic white.
The tower was even closer now, only a few hundred feet in front of the house. It was unlike anything Farmer Jenkins had ever seen. The obelisk rose from the earth like a cursed oak whose gnarled roots extended down to the bowels of Hell itself. It was smooth and glossy white and covered with strange lettering, perhaps German or even Chinese. At the apex of the sinister spire was an alien device; razor-sharp blades affixed to a gyrating base. They sliced through the air with ruthless efficiency, generating a profound terror within Farmer Jenkins. He tried to look away, but could not.
Lightning flashed a third time and the blast sent the farmer staggering backwards, away from the window. The demonic tower had moved again, and was now positioned directly outside of the house. A terrible, deafening sound filled the air; the persistent rumbling of rickety mechanical operation. All of the lights in the house turned on, as if suddenly powered by some mysterious, reliable force.
Susie Jenkins shot up in the bed, screaming. “Help me!” she cried, clutching at her ass.
Farmer Jenkins raced over to her. The noise from the tower was fluctuating now, periodic oscillations whose vibrations unsettled the molecular composition of his soul. The lights did not flicker at all. He turned his wife over and was horrified to find a huge, tumorous lump growing on her butt. Even more alarmingly, the cancerous growth seemed to increase in size each time the mechanical noise peaked in volume. Susie screamed out in agony, and all Farmer Jenkins could do was stare helplessly at her writhing body and giant, inflamed ass.
“That does it!” he yelled, reaching for the shotgun he kept next to the bed. “This gonna end now!” He chambered a shell, then stomped down the stairs and towards the looming tower.
Outside, the rain had stopped, replaced by tremendous fumes and gases spewing into the atmosphere. The malevolent structure towered above him, blades spinning in a vicious attempt at intimidation. But Farmer Jenkins was not afraid. He pointed the shotgun towards the tower and pulled the trigger, buckshot plinking haplessly off its metal construction. Again and and again he pumped and fired, unloading until the shotgun magazine was expended, but still the blades continued to spin.
“You son of a bitch!” he screamed, throwing the shotgun aside and dropping to his knees. “What do you want from me?”
The tower was silent. Desperate, Farmer Jenkins climbed into his nearby pickup truck and angled the wheels towards his mechanical enemy. Without thinking, he slammed down on the accelerator and rammed the structure at full speed. The impact was violent, enormous. His windshield shattered and airbag deployed as the front of his truck imploded against the base of the tower. Dazed and bleeding, he gasped for breath as the mechanical humming was replaced by the groaning of warped steel.
The tower swayed briefly, unhinged from its foundation, teetering and then crashing through the house. The building collapsed inwards at the point of contact, causing an avalanche of tile and lumber to follow the toppled tower. Farmer Jenkins watched, feeling satisfied with himself until he realized that the tower had crashed right through the bedroom where his sickly wife had been. Horrified, he threw open the truck door and limped towards the wreckage.
“Susie? Susie, where are you?” There was no response. Farmer Jenkins started to sift through the debris, hoisting aside chunks of plaster and wood, but the task was too great for his injured body. With a forlorn sob he pitifully flung a piece of drywall at the downed tower, whose metallic corpse stood out amongst the rubble. His mind wandered with feverish delusions and, when no other course of action presented itself, he staggered over to his now-exposed living room and collapsed on the couch, fumbling with the television remote.
He pressed the power button but the television screen remained dark. There was no wind that morning.