Blink and You Miss It

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The dirt and grit flew hard at the window of the delivery truck as it plowed through a dust-storm. These days, dust storms were a blessing. It wasn't this way twenty years ago. Back then, a dust storm was a bitch at the worst, and a minor annoyance at the least. Dust storms used to obscure, but ever since those bastards showed up, a man would pray for a good coating of dust.

No paint. No dye. Just wind and dirt. It was the easiest way to spot the things without wasting any resources. A good layer of earth would give them shape. Enough of a shape to shoot at, at least. The thing about Blinkers is that you can't see them. That's it. They're living things. They're not invincible. They eat, drink, breed, and bleed like any other animal that is left on Earth. Nobody really knows how it works. Something about them being predators from another dimension that have skin that does not reflect light properly or something along those lines. Something about a different "spectrum."

The truck pulled up to the broadcast tower and began the arduous task of braking. The pads had been worn down at least a year now, and it wasn't deemed prudent enough to scavenge other pads from the other truck. James had to run it to the broadcast tower almost daily.

James let the engine idle. Sure, it was a waste of gas, but on the off chance the tower was swarmed by blinkers a warm engine was the best solution to be swarmed by thousands of invisible needle-teeth. Dust coated the window, but James was able to see just enough - the tower was still locked up. Good.

He knocked at the back of the cab twice - the all clear. In a moment, two knocks came back. The team was ready.

He looked over at the passenger seat and lightly stroked the tank of the flamethrower. Sure, he could have let someone from the team ride up front, but that would have left his weapon out of reach. That would not do. Besides, it was his truck, therefor, he made the rules.

Bundled in a thick, hooded jacket and goggles on, James finished strapping on the flamethrower as he lumbered to the back of the truck. He knocked again, twice, and waited until a few seconds later when two knocks came back from inside. He unlocked the truck and rolled up the door. Necessary task done, he turned his back to the truck bed to scan the horizon. There were no signs of wake from the Blinkers.

Kevin, one of the team of three stepped up next to James, bundled up and draped in a ridiculous, orange poncho he had scavenged at the border.

He lightly punched James on the arm. "Ready to get to it?"

James fidgeted slightly. He was normally only a driver, and he was good at it, but today...

"Not really. Do you need four guys?"

Kevin looked over at James and made a sweeping gesture at the apocalyptic landscape. He then pointed at the sand-blasted remains of a car that had several deep dents and gouges.

The gesture was enough. All hands on deck.

James rolled his shoulders to better carry the weight of the flamethrower and followed the three to the broadcast tower.

. . .

The inside of broadcast tower was nearly as dusty as the terrain outside. It was still, quiet, and it made James nervous. Close quarters were, for lack of a better word, a killbox, and he had gotten out of one too many for his comfort in his life already. That's why he was a driver.

Maggie, one of the communications team, sat at the radio and threw down a pad of paper on the desk. She looked up at Kevin.

"Kevin, can you start the generator?"

Kevin sighed, having just taken off his poncho. "Can't James do it?"

"I'm the driver. I am now a guard. I am not taking on a third job."

Kevin smirked at James. He put his poncho back on and pulled his goggles down over his eyes. He rested his shotgun on his shoulder.

"Can you at least watch me at the door?"

"It falls under job two, so yes."

. . .

The generator was in a shack outside of the radio broadcast tower. James propped open the door of the station and watched Kevin dart over and enter the shack. There were no wakes from the Blinkers. Maybe they were dying out?

"KEVIN!"

There was no response, but that wasn't surprising. The sound of the dust storm made it hard to hear. James called for Kevin again. After a minute he began to worry. He made his way to the shack.

Inside Kevin was still at work and at least safe.

"Miss me?" he laughed.

James flipped him off.

. . .

James shouldn't have left the door propped open when he went to check on Kevin. The pair returned to the tower's door and saw, in the fine coating of dust on the floor of the entrance, dozens of small tracks.

James felt his knees give out from under him. He steadied himself on the frame and rolled his shoulders to adjust the fuel tank on his back. He primed the flamethrower and began to move deeper into the station, but he felt Kevin's hand grab his coat. James whirled around and saw Kevin's wordless expression.

The rest of the team was as good as gone. The screams that echoed from within the station confirmed that. He looked into the station until the cries ended and then began to follow Kevin back to the truck.

James sighed.

"I'm the driver. That was my job." 

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