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     Freddie Graham twisted the cap off of his ice cold beer and peered at the setting sun. He was nearly finished with his day's work on the crop, but sudden problems with the combine were currently hindering his progress.

     "When are you going to finally give up and buy a new one of those damn things, Fred?" he heard from behind him. He turned to find his wife, Nora, wearing her angelic smile.

     "I suppose when I can afford it, he replied"

     "You've been saying that for years."

     "This year's gonna be great, Nora. I can feel it in the soil."

     "You've been saying that for years too," Nora repeated.

     It was true, the farm hadn't had a good year for quite some time now.

     "Why don't you put away the gear, and I'll set dinner on the table," Nora suggested.

     Alright, I'll be there in a few," Freddie replied and headed for the barn.

     As he approached the barn, he heard Nora calling for the kids to go wash up for dinner. It was a long day and he was ready for a hot meal and some sleep before he would be up again with the sun. The door to the shed creaked as he opened it and stepped inside.

     Freddie switched on one of the hanging lamps. The wooden shed was filled with miscellaneous parts from old tractors. Retired equipment and metal tools lined the walls. The summer's heat and humidity made it almost difficult to breathe and filled the shed with the odor of rotting wood. Tonight, it smelled a little different to Freddie, though. There was something in the air that was not familiar to him.

     Something stirred in the loft above him. Freddie quickly looked upward and inspected the second story of the small barn. The loft hung against the far wall and was used for equipment storage during the colder months. 

     Freddie was certain that he heard something move in the darkness. He again caught movement out of the corner of his eye. This time it was not in the loft, it was close. Very close.

     "Who's there," Freddie sniped. "Damn cats."

     Another movement. This time it was across the shed, under the table-saw. An empty oil can tipped over, sending a chilling, metallic ring into the air, causing Freddie to flinch, and confirming that he was not alone.

     Something snarled in the darkness. As he started to slowly back away, his head hit the hanging light, causing it to sway. The lamp filled the interior of the shed with dancing shadows. Freddie suddenly had the feeling that he was being toyed with. He backed into the nearest corner in order to get a good look at his unwelcome visitor. He had initially assumed that it was the cats that periodically wander over from the neighboring farm, but he couldn't shake the eerie feeling that there was a higher level of intelligence at work here.

     The hairs began to prick up on the back of Freddie's neck. nervous beads of sweat dripped into his eyes. The suspended lamp, still swinging, cast an orange glow then darkness. Orange, then darkness. Orange, then darkness.

     Something emerged from the shadows directly in front of Freddie. His eyes widened in disbelief, not sure if what he was seeing was real.

     "What the fu..."

     His voice was cut short as he felt a hot, searing pain shoot through his throat. Something from behind had pierced through the back of his neck. He reached down to feel what appeared to be a razor sharp claw protruding out of his esophagus, dripping with warmth. The talon slowly retracted from his neck. The pain was unbearable. he fell to his knees, clutching his throat, coughing and sputtering blood. His vision was quickly fading, but he could hear the savage snarling begin, as he finally succumbed to his fatal wound.

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