It appeared overnight.
Over fifty feet tall and jet black, I awoke to discover a water tower in my backyard. I lived in the middle of nowhere. House surrounded by thick forest, my nearest neighbor was miles away. Getting to my house was hard enough, building a structure in the dead of night, without rousing me from my sleep, was near impossible.
A foul-smelling yellow liquid dripped down its side. My lawn was dying, streaks of brown snaking away from the water tower. Various small animals littered the ground, limbs twitching wildly and foaming at the mouth.
I slammed the glass door shut, drawing the curtain tightly. I ran to my old landline, hooked up in the kitchen. Silence greeted me as I put the receiver to my ear: no dial-tone and no way to make a call.
A lump grew in my throat. I’d lived off the grid for a long time, and this was the first time I regretted that decision. Striding to the back of the house, I peeked through a window.
A small pool was forming underneath the water tower. The yellow-liquid was collecting in a viscous puddle. Faint fumes wafted up into the air, visible to the naked eye. Oddly, the dying animals were nowhere in sight. I cocked my eyebrow suspiciously, the backyard devoid of life.
Just as I was about to back in, a slight scratching noise caught my attention. It was coming from below the window. The scratching grew in intensity, tearing away at the wood.
Grabbing a fire poker from the fireplace, I cautiously stepped towards the patio door. Creaking it open slightly, I poked my head out.
From my periphery, a small, furry object flung itself at my throat. Sensing movement, I ducked inside at the last moment. An emaciated squirrel tumbled onto the porch, panting heavily. Swaying back and forth, it struggled to keep its balance. Open sores covered its body, leaking a thick, yellow puss. Another sickly squirrel appeared at its side, and then another. Within twenty seconds, at least ten others were bearing their tiny teeth. In unison, they let out a high-pitched screech and lunged at me, even though I was behind glass.
Skulls shattering on impact, half of the squirrels’ brains exploded against the glass. Those who remained continued flinging themselves against the door until there was nothing left but bloody stumps. A yellow liquid stained the porch, the wood starting to rot.
From the other side of the house, an intense thud reverberated against the glass. A flock of birds were dive-bombing kamikaze style, desperately trying to get at me. Their squawks and whistles were heavily distorted, buzzing like a detuned radio.
A large hawk crashed, beak first, slightly cracking the glass. Its eyes burned yellow. They remained fixated on me until its neck snapped on impact. A colorful bird, the size of an apple, followed suit — but then it stopped.
An ill-kempt gravel driveway, overflowing with weeds, led to a rickety shed on the side of my house. Next to the shed was a beat-up ford truck and my ticket to safety. Scooping my car keys from a wicker basket, I crept to the patio door.
Dozens of rabbits, foxes, and other critters were greedily lapping up the yellow-liquid, which had now expanded into a small pond. The water tower loomed over them, stretching above the leafy trees. Many others were already rolled over on their sides, frothing at the mouth.
A young deer wandered across the yard, covered in blistering sores. Its head snapped to the left, locking eyes with me. Lowering its head, the doe charged the door. Cracks spread like spiderwebs. Blood trickling from its forehead, the deer stumbled like a drunk. A swollen tongue flopped over its lips, breathing heavily.
Another strike would have surely shattered the glass, and I wasn’t about to allow that to happen. I pulled open the door. Fire poker still clenched tightly in my hand, I impaled the deer through the eye. Grunting in terrible agony, the deer collapsed, spasming in a heap before falling limp.
Thinking it was dead, I reached for the fire poker. As I gave it a tug, the deer roared to life. Bucking its back legs, yellow liquid spraying from pulsating boils, the deer smashed through a railing. Writhing on the dying lawn, the deer bellowed loudly. As if responding to its cries, a sudden crashing tore through the surrounding woods. Pine trees shook back and forth as a massive creature passed by, obscured by the thick brush.
A snarling black bear tore through the tree line. Throbbing yellow veins twisted down the bear’s spine, connected to a series of solid bone plates bursting through its skin. Blood stained its jaw, which was curved into a menacing snarl.
Shit, I mumbled to myself.
Foam dripping from its mouth, the bear rushed at me with frightful speed. Leaping into the air, it smashed through the glass pane; shards embedded deeply into its thick hide. Rolling onto the ground, I barely escaped being crushed.
The bear raised onto its hind legs. Enormous claws unsheathed from its paws, extending several feet. I cowered behind my leather couch. Growling with rage, the bear swiped at me, practically splitting the couch in half.
My back was against the wall, literally. Pee trickled down my leg, fear flooding my synapses. Watching the bear raise its claws once more, I closed my eyes and waited for death.
A shrieking, low-pitched wail shook the house. My eyes shot open. The bear was flailing around, destroying every piece of furniture I owned. Stuck in its ribcage was my fire poker, still attached to the deer. Apparently the deer had come after me again, but something had gotten in the way.
Seizing the opportunity, I bolted through the shattered door, dodged yellow-eyed rats snapping at my ankles, and leapt into my truck. Twisting the key into the ignition, I sped off down a desolate country road.
As I rumbled towards the highway, a booming buzzing echoed overhead. Off in the distance, an apache helicopter drifted through the sky. Attached to the helicopter’s frame by thick rope was a black water tower, twisting gently in the breeze.