When the first ones crawled out of the bog, they looked more like miniature lizards than dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. No one was sure what was the catalyst that pushed all the microbes together and gave them life but they were cute and made you laugh with their antics, like colorful chickens.
Conservative media made a big deal out of finding a new species. Climate change was for losers. Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin the water table was rising and the crops were tending more towards rice than corn. We take what God gives us around these parts and we’re grateful.
So we kept right on pumping hydrocarbons into the atmosphere and then evolution did a fast break and the next new thing to leave its birdlike footprints in the muck was not so cute. They had wings, leathery and shiny like something out of a night terror that makes you pee your sheets. And teeth. Sweet Mother of God, rows of vicious, flesh ripping teeth. Where the small ones were adorable goofs, the big ones were sleek with an air of menace.
The bigger ones hunted down the little guys with terrifying pack mentality. Strewn guts covered the roads, blood soaking into the wet soil. The smell of rot clung to the ground, carrying a thick cloud of putrification everywhere. We started wearing little white masks, like they do in Japan.
They didn’t seem to much notice humans, at first but as the smaller dinosaurs learned to duck and cover whenever a shadow touched them, people began to find their dogs and cats missing. As the flyers ran out of easy prey, their black shiny eyes started looking at us. Really looking.
Everyone found a reason to stay inside around that time and hoped the military would get off its big old behind and save us. And they tried. You had to give ‘em that. But once they realized we were trying to kill them they decided to kill us right back. And they were better at it than we were by a long ways. They slaughtered the army of conventional warfare like it was choir practice. Soon, our military was battered and scattered like wheat chaff on the wind.
Just when things looked like we ought to be kissing our collective sweet hinnies goodbye, we got the word through the church calling tree. The Colonel wanted everyone in a pew on Sunday. There’s only one service here and you better be there or they go right on saving souls without you.
The Colonel grew up here, out in eastern Wisconsin, shooting and trapping and generally honing his sites on anything to kill the boredom.
On that bright sunny Sunday, the First Lutheran Church of God was packed with people in urgent need of saving. Even the Jewish guys who had an art store in town came. For the homily, the Colonel and the pastor stood up. After a moment the pastor sat as the Colonel stared him down and took the pulpit.
He looked out over us and he waited. Fans stopped waving, babies stopped fussing, until there was a hole of silence we waited for him to fill.
“These abominations have to be stopped. They threaten to take over our world, make it their own. I’ve word that a new, larger species has been discovered. Or maybe it’s better to say they’ve discovered us and are spreading rapidly. My sources say this emerging threat will be here in two weeks at the most. Now, I don’t know about you, neighbor, but I’ve never fancied being part of someone else’s food chain. No one’s taking my land from me and I’m not much on running, neither.“ There was scattered laughter at the very thought.
“What’s left of our troops is in retreat as we speak. Our military doesn’t train soldiers to shoot, it trains them to pull the trigger and hopes for the best. Most soldiers not only can’t hit the broadside of a cow at ten paces but are too petrified in actual combat to even pull the trigger.
“These creatures can be taken out by a headshot. A direct hit on something the size of a baseball.” He let that sink in for a spell.
“I spent my youth here in plinking squirrels at 25 yards or tapping a rabbit on the run. I know many of you share my enthusiasm. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that some of the best shots in Wisconsin are right here in these pews.” People’s heads bobbed because it was true.
“Now I personally think it was a mistake when our country asked us to turn in our guns when they passed the No Death on Our Streets law, couple of years ago. I also know that like me, you’ve all got one good gun you’ve designated as a family heirloom to keep at home for protection. Well, I for one, hope you kept plenty of ammo for that firearm.
“I’m saying now’s the time to clean that gun. We survived the Holy Trump Wars and by God, we’ll survive these things.” He slammed both hands on the sides of the pulpit and leaned in toward us and no one even breathed.
“Maybe we can’t defeat them. Maybe there’re too many of them and too few of us, but we’ll damn sure show the world how to make those things think twice before they set a claw in Wisconsin.
“We take care of our own problems. Why? Because that’s what we do. And I say, we take care of this mess before it gets any worse.”
And he walked out down the center aisle. And people rose and followed just like the ushers had dismissed them, row by row. And I marched right out with them and I’ll be there tomorrow, by God I will, shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors and kin. So, if you find this, you’ll know either how it started or how it ended.