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Men In Black

I was driving from Idaho to California when I entered Nevada. It was a sunny August day on the I-15, and I was making good time. As I crossed the Nevada state line, something triggered in me to start focusing on this stretch of interstate’s more eerie qualities. This realization came over me like a creeping sense of dread. Little by little, mile after mile, it consumed my thoughts.

The once wide open and beautiful desert fast became a vast wasteland of soul-crushing isolation. A sudden wave of panic hit me so hard, I thought I was blindsided by a vehicle. I white-knuckled the steering wheel and stomped the brakes.

Sweat trickled down my forehead as I sat frozen in fear. I felt like something was chasing me, but there was absolutely nothing, just empty road ahead and behind me. I took a few moments to collect myself. After a couple minutes of controlled breathing, the panic dissipated enough for me to tentatively step on the gas.

Not long after I got rolling another internal conflicted started to stir inside me.  My internal chatter began debating if I should continue driving to California, or at least Las Vegas (which by now was less than an hour away), or pull over and wait till these feelings passed. From every logical perspective pulling over was an asinine idea. However, I could not shake the feeling of despair and near panic. Soon I caught myself imagining…and vividly, ways someone might commit suicide in the desert. The urge to wallow in these dangerous thoughts was so persistent, I found it difficult to remember where I was even going.

A chill goes through me. I wasn’t moving, but instead idling on the side of the road. How long had a been there? I did not know, but I knew something was terribly wrong. Was I going to die here? My immediate answer was no. For reasons born out of pure survival instinct, a white-hot flash of anger exploded in my brain, and I gunned it. Pedal to the metal I tore down the road, fully determined to get out of this nightmare and back to California.

The feeling of making forward progress was exhilarating, and I started to breathe sighs of relief. I was in the process of filing away the ordeal when flashing blue lights grabbed my attention. A real “what the fuck” moment, as a black sedan with its visor lights on full blast, now dominated my rearview mirror. All prior psychodrama completely vanished at the arrival of one all-encompassing thought, “where the fuck did that pig come from?!”. In disbelief, I eased off the gas and veered to the side of the road. I pandered to the vain hope that the vehicle might pass me by, maybe it was en route to an actual emergency. All that evaporated when the black sedan slowly crept in behind me.

In addition to my license and registration, I readied myself to provide one-worded answers to the crafted questions from an asshole with a badge and a quota. Minutes passed, but the black sedan just sat there. I recognized the mind games, and I would not be rattled. Waiting for an officer to exit afforded me the chance to make two notable observations concerning the vehicle. First, it was minus a front license plate, and second, the windshield was tinted. I did not appreciate the implications implied by either.

When the driver’s side door finally did open, for all intents and purposes, a mythical creature appeared. At 6’6 or 6’7, he was both lanky, and a bit gangly. He resembled a Dick Tracy villain in his black trench coat and fedora, but also familiar. I flashed back to my childhood and the very tall awkward kid I pulverized with a baseball bat, rescuing a cat he was setting fire to. For a brief moment, I mused it was him seeking revenge. I smiled at the idea of hurting him again. No matter how cartoonish this skinny ogre looked, the violence he carried in his face was no laughing matter.

He didn’t walk so much as he marched towards me. Abruptly stopping a foot or so away from my driver side door and leaning in to be eye level with me. We eyed each other, but neither of us spoke. His eyes were harsh and albinism pink. In my heart, I knew. Whatever he was, he wasn’t a cop or an FBI agent, nothing “official” anyway.

His unblinking glare, as vicious as it was, possessed a fascination quality. Intuitively I knew I ran the risk of becoming fixated by it. I kept breaking eye contact with him to check my rearview mirror. He noticed this as well.

“Just what the fuck do you think you are going to see back there?”, he said, breaking the silence,  in an odd, maybe purposely distorted and high pitched voice.

“Well, there is usually two of you clowns, isn’t there?”, I replied, toggling my attention between his stare and my rearview mirror.

His eyes flared, and I finally noticed he had no eyebrows or eyelashes. In fact, his face reminded me of a burn victim’s, just not patchy. Instead a solid waxy-yellow, but still hairless, with ultra-thin lips, and stretched skin lacking detail.

The pitchiness of his voice grew sterner, “What do you mean there is usually two of us clowns?!”, he questioned, breaking his fixed gaze on me and looking back to the black sedan.

“I am not exactly sure what type of clown you are, or who else might come piling out of your clown car, but I know you are no cop, and I am under no legal obligation to stay here,” I replied, matching his sterner tone and reaching for my keys.

“You are not sure of anything are you Kevin? And not for a while now. You don’t know how you feel, you don’t know what you are doing in that shit show you call your life, and certainly, you don’t know where you are going, not now or in general”, he retorted, emphasizing my name and widening his eyes as he re-trained his stare at me.

Likely he sensed mild distress in me after dropping my name and eluding to the circumstance of high strangeness I so recently experienced.  

“You are not going anywhere. Your erratic and unsafe driving will probably get you killed. But what will definitely get you killed is the “crazy person” shit you post online. You sound like a real goddamn fucking lunatic on your website. That is some real loony bin material you are cranking out. Aliens and UFOs, that is crazy talk! Someone ought to have you committed somewhere, you need some fucking help, Kevin.”, he growled and showed his teeth, stretching his already thin lips thinner to reveal tiny buy sharp looking teeth, like a piranha’s.

The gravitas of my situation was not unclear to me. The idea of being “disappeared” by this entity, or any other for that matter, did not and does not compute in my heart or my mind. A secondary and even greater flash of white-hot defiance exploded in my brain.

“I make you two promises you aberrant fish faced mutant piece of shit! One, I am going nowhere with you, and two, I am posting this online!”, I growled back and went to fire up my truck.

“Looks like we are about to have another missing person,” he snapped and lunged at me.

His speed was surprising, but the force with which he slammed his elongated body into the side of my truck really startled me. His long and slender left hand swatted my right away from the keys still in the ignition and clamping down on my wrist with unexpected authority.  His own tentacle-like right seeking and seizing for my throat. He was astonishingly strong, and I was just barely able to prevent being outmatched by him. He wanted the keys. We both knew that if he got them, my chances of escape plummeted from slim to none.

Those years of crushing closed heavy hand grippers till blood dribbled out from underneath my fingernails, ripping giant monster-class kettlebells off the ground to overhead till the skin on my hands tore open, and swinging large clubs and maces till my forearm muscles swelled so much I couldn’t make a fist, where paying dividends.

I shifted my body best I could to better square up with him. I snaked my right hand under and over his left wrist and cleverly outwrestled his wrist grab, now pinning his left side against steering wheel with my right, securing it with as much of my strength and body weight as I could marshal. Reaching up with my free hand I grasped his right thumb and curtly peeled it back and away from my throat, feeling his thumb either brake or dislocate in my grip.

This cleared away his right arm enough so I could pepper his fishy mutant face with a few short-range jabs. However, they lacked the sting I felt he deserved, so I forced fed his mouth and nose elbows instead, those seemed like they hurt. Unfortunately for me, he was just getting warmed up and answered back by raining down a barrage of retaliatory rights, with scary force. I brought my thickly muscled forearm and shoulder together clasping the back of my head and forming a meat shield to bear the brunt of his assault. Even now I shudder when I think on the fate which would’ve awaited me had a punch got through and knocked me unconscious.

My only chance of survival lay in keeping his left hand pinned against the wheel. This simple maneuver prevented him from grabbing my keys, re-establishing distance, achieving better positioning, pulling a weapon, and a plethora of other possibilities which could very quickly spell out my doom.

He had me like a cornered animal, but that animal was a lion. I knew I could not keep his hand pinned forever. I the cornered lion and him the tiger I had by its tail. Being inside the truck limited his actions against me, but also restricted my own options. I was painfully pinched between a rock and a hard place. Having reached this cruel stalemate, we continued to tear at each other. If not for self-preservation then sheer frustration.

He was absolutely tenderizing my left arm with his punches. My shoulder and tricep were starting to cramp and very soon my meat shield would be breached. I had to make a move. I transformed my left thumb into a vengeful spike and drove it hard and deep into his earhole. That redirected his focus, and I quicked latched on to his ear with a vice-tight pinch grip. I sacrificed the pin I had over his left hand for a wrist grab, and by his ear and wrist, I yanked him into the truck.

In this new position, he was near face to face with me but so close and off-balance, he couldn’t muster the strength to harm me. Bent over sideways, his lower body dangled out the window. His hip supported his lower body weight across a sharp and biting window with its glass “mostly” rolled down.

Now I would make my play. I attempted to serpentine my left arm, under his left arm, around the back of his neck into the right armpit, barring, and securing it. During our grapple, I notice a screwdriver tucked into a utility pouch behind the passenger’s seat. Much easier than done. He immediately clawed for my eyes, and knowing how strong he was I had no choice but to defend. However, he had a play of his own as in that moment he twisted onto his belly and very nearly slithered back out the window.

Him establishing distance meant almost certain death for me. Again I brought my years of hoisting heavy iron and club swinging to bear against him. With my left, exceedingly sore arm, I lassoed him in a side headlock and inch by agonizing inch ratcheted him back in. Once more I high centered him across the truck window and reached for the screwdriver. Me grabbing that screwdriver was as if I pulled Excalibur from the stone, and he knew it. Handling the screwdriver like an ice pick, I savagely perforated his face and top of his head like swiss cheese. His blood was red…I was not necessarily expecting that.

Had I thought he was strong before I really hadn’t seen anything yet. He must have had a white-hot explosion of his own (inspired in the way only a screwdriver tip to the face can). He thrashed around with such rage, I lost control of him, and he launched himself back out the window on to the asphalt. He was hurt and momentarily not directly focused on me. For a hot second, I almost got out of the truck to finish him off and take a piece of him with me. However, survival tactics prevailed over trophy hunting, and I fired up my truck instead. I peeled out something fierce and left him, and whoever else may or may not have been in the black sedan in the dust.

The rest of the trip is its own story. I will admit that my paranoia didn’t fully subside until I got to Los Angeles and it would be days later before I wasn’t routinely checking over my shoulder, more than my usual. If by chance my special M.I.B friend should ever read this, you know I keep my promises, and I am ready to finish it.

That is a promise.

-Kevin Wikse

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