I wrote this for the 2016 Crack Fiction Contest.
The title I chose was by thedeadlymoose, and came with the requirement that I include my own, original character in the tale. Bonus points would be awarded based on how much of a Mary Sue that character was.
The moon was black with clouds.
The 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 drove down the dark country road. It wasn’t 1970 though, it was the present. Agent Troy Lament sat in the passenger seat, thinking, while his partner and best friend, Agent Herc Leroc, drove at 20 miles over the speed limit (which was his average driving speed).
At 17 years old, Herc was the youngest agent in Foundation history – not that he let it get to his head, though. He was dressed simply, with a t-shirt and some skinny jeans. Troy knew that these clothes were against regulations, since agents were required to wear black suits, but he knew that telling this to Herc was a waste of time – you may as well be telling an alpha timberwolf not to howl under the moon after a righteous kill. Herc also wore a fedora, tucked low over his eyes, which were a mysterious indescribable shade of gunmetal blue that people found both magnetic with also an undertone of scary, because of how intense they were.
“So what do you think about this case, Herc?” Troy asked, looking over at his best friend.
Herc said nothing for a while, watching the road. “Something’s not right,” he said at last. “A whole town goes missing inside of a few weeks, and no leads? I think it’s a trap.”
Troy sat up in his seat. “Then we have to turn back, and tell the Foundation so they can send more agents!”
Herc shook his head, his fedora casting mysterious shadows over his gleaming eyes, and chuckled. “And let those guys have all the fun?” He stepped down on the accelerator so they were going 130 mph at least, and cranked up the radio, making System of a Down's B.Y.O.B. blare from all the speakers.
You crazy son of a bitch, Troy laughed inwardly, as the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 roared along the cracked asphalt.
Now it was five hours later, and still at night.
Troy and Herc had reached the small town of ██████, where they moved down a desolate Main Street, the weak light of the streetlights glinting off the chassis of the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302. There was no one anywhere – the place was more deserted than a bra store on Mardi Gras. On a hunch, Herc took them away from the center of town, toward the outskirts; he eventually turned onto a narrow lane among the cornfields, the farmhouses going by one by one, all dark and empty-looking.
Without warning, a huge shadow jumped in the middle of the road.
“Herc, watch out!” Troy screamed.
But Herc had already seen the danger - he stepped on the brakes, the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 skidding to a halt, the glow of the headlights revealing a gigantic beast, all fur and teeth, at least six feet tall, standing on its hind legs.
“Is that…a giant ferret?” Troy said, squinting at the shadowy shape.
“We have to get out of here,” Herc said, his sixth sense, honed by his grueling training as a U.S. Marine, warning him of impending danger. He put the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 in reverse, but before he could turn the car around more of the creatures emerged from the cornfield around them, surrounding the car on all sides, their red eyes burning like ninjitsu shurikens.
“What do we do?” Troy asked, starting to panic as the beasts moved closer to the car.
Out of nowhere a Molotov cocktail struck the windshield, the bottle shattering, enveloping the car in flames.
“Aw shiiiit!” Troy shrieked.
“Look in the back under the floor mats, hurry!” Herc said, maintaining his calm somehow.
Troy obeyed, looking behind their seats and pulling back the floor mats to reveal a hidden compartment with two fully-loaded AK-47s inside. He felt a glimmer of hope. “How did you know we’d need those?” he asked.
Herc turned toward him, the glow of the flames revealing a long jagged scar that ran across his left eye – a memento from his troubled past.
“I just had a feeling.”
Troy and Herc ran into the cornfield for cover, leaving the flaming wreckage of the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 on the road behind them, the giant ferrets hot in pursuit.
AK-47s at the ready, the two best friends struggled to see in the darkness, the cornstalks around them full of shadows that shifted menacingly, the air alive with eerie animal screeches. Out of nowhere, a giant ferret jumped in front of Troy and swung at him with his claws. Troy wasn’t quick enough to react, busy as he was having another one of his SCP-106 flashbacks, but Herc had him covered – he shot the beast through the eye, and it collapsed to the ground.
“That’s the sixteenth time you save my life,” Troy, who felt better now, said over the ferret screams as the two of them resumed running.
“Actually, it’s the seventeenth,” Herc replied with a foolhardy smirk. “Not that I’m counting.”
Just then, three ferrets leaped out from the cornstalks, hissing insanely. Herc and Troy each shot one, then took down the last one together, execution style. Blood and gore exploded from the beast’s body and it fell backward, gurgling its dying breath.
“Is that all you gut?” Herc said with his trademark cockiness, reloading his AK-47.
“Herc what’s going on here?” Troy said as he tried catching his breath. “Why are these things attacking us?”
“I don’t know yet,” Herc said, his eyes glazing over mysteriously as they did every time he thought about his tormented past, “but there’s something…familiar about this whole thing.”
Troy and Herc had managed to lose the ferrets, but now they were stuck in the middle of nowhere, behind enemy lines, with no cellphone reception and no way of contacting the Foundation. After an hour of walking, they spotted a light in the distance and moved toward it, arriving at a farmhouse at the edge of a cornfield.
“Look,” Troy said, “there’s people behind that barn.”
Keeping to the field for cover, the two agents (and best friends) made their way to the other side of the barn, and watched from among the cornstalks, with mounting horror, the scene unfolding there: dozens of cultists in black robes with hoods were standing around a huge bonfire, chanting evil incantations. At the center of the circle they formed, in front of the fire, was a large cage containing dozens of terrified-looking, normal-sized ferrets. As Troy and Herc watched, an immense ferret, at least eight feet tall, its fur mottled with black and white, walked out of the barn on its hind legs. It was wearing a large, glowing amulet on a chain around its neck. The giant ferret reached inside the cage and took out one of the regular-sized ferrets.
“What is it doing?” Troy whispered.
As the chanting reached its crescendo, the big ferret took hold of the amulet around its neck, causing the barn behind him to pulse with a red light, and touched it to the normal ferret. Red lightning shot out of the amulet at the small animal, coursing through its body, making it to squeal with pain. Herc stiffened, his jaw tightening with rage.
“Are you okay?” Troy asked worriedly.
“Yes,” Herc said, a deadly look in his eyes. “I just can’t stand to see innocent animals being tortured. As you know, I’m a strict vegan.”
Lightning stopped shooting from the amulet, and the barn became dark once more. The giant ferret dropped the regular-sized ferret to the ground, where it began to jerk and convulse and screech in agony.
“Look,” Troy breathed. “It’s growing bigger!”
He was right. As the two agents watched, the ferret began to bulge and swell in size, so that within a minute it was as big as a person. At last it stopped growing and fell silent, still breathing but twitching feebly on the ground. The cultist nearest the ferret stepped up to it and removed his robe, revealing his fully-nude body; two large cultists approached with bottles of oil and began greasing up the man with their hands until his skin was slick and shiny with reflected firelight.
Next, the two cultists knelt down by the ferret on the ground and pulled its mouth open; with their help, the naked man began forcing himself, feet first, into the ferret’s mouth. The process took several minutes, the naked man slowly disappearing, inch by inch, inside the ferret, their two bodies combining, becoming one. When it was over, the man/ferret slowly got to its feet and let out a chilling roar of triumph, while the remaining cultists continued to chant.
“My God,” Troy said, stunned. “We had it all wrong. They’re not ferrets, they’re…”
“Furries,” Herc finished for him. His eyes took on a faraway haunted look. “Now it all makes sense, why I thought this looked so familiar.”
“You mean…you’ve dealt with them before?”
Herc nodded grimly. “They’re called the Fur Clan. They’re furries, dedicated to making the most realistic fursuits ever. Living fursuits. And it looks like they finally succeeded.”
“How come I’ve never heard of them before?”
“You probably don’t have the clearance. They were my last assignment before I asked to be transferred to Site-19.”
“So they’re dangerous?”
Herc’s mysterious eyes grew dark with remembered pain. “They took out my whole task force, I was the only survivor. I…never forgave myself for that, for letting my friends down. The nightmares still wake me up at night. Sometimes I think I’m cursed, that I attract death.”
“Then we have to stop them,” Troy said sympathetically, “so you can finally put your demons to rest.”
Herc looked up at him with a determined expression. “No. This is something I have to do myself. You see the ferret with the glowing amulet? That’s their high priest, HuskyLove MuttShadow. I didn’t recognize him at first with his new fursuit, but he’s the one who gave me this,” he said, pointing to the jagged scar across his eye. “You could say we have…Unfinished Business.”
“You’re my best friend, Herc,” Troy said, “I’m not letting you face them alone!”
“You have to. I need you to get outside the city limits and warn the O5, tell them they have to firebomb this whole town. We can’t let this thing spread any further.”
“What about you?” Troy asked, his throat tightening with emotion.
“I’m going to make sure they never hurt another ferret again.”
The chanting around him louder than ever, High Priest HuskyLove MuttShadow was about to reach inside the cage by the fire to grab another one of the small ferrets, when suddenly all hell broke loose.
Without warning, gunfire erupted from the cornfield, killing the cultists around him with deadly, sniper-like precision; the shots seemed to be coming from every direction at once – HuskyLove estimated at least twenty shooters. The ceremonial circle broke apart as the remaining cultists fled the scene - only then did the shooter reveal himself, stepping out from among the cornstalks, starkly lit in the glow of the bonfire’s flames: firing two AK-47s at the same time, he began to effortlessly pick off the fleeing cultists from a distance. HuskyLove felt his ferret jaw drop – how could a single man have done all this? Then he saw the man’s face, recognized the fedora, the scar across his eye…
Of course, he thought. Who else could be behind this?
One of his AK-47s clicking empty, Herc tossed it to the ground and walked up to the high priest, aiming his remaining weapon at the man/ferret's large, fur-covered head. “Sorry to break up your little party,” Herc said.
“Agent Herc Leroc,” HuskyLove said, his long mouth stretching into a toothy smile. “I see you got my invitation.”
“So this was a trap, then. Why?”
“I wanted you to see how far along we’d come since the last time we faced each other. I knew that if I turned an entire town into giant ferrets, I’d catch the Foundation’s attention, and that they’d have to send their best agent to investigate. Though I admit I still hadn't decided whether I was going to kill you… or turn you into one of us.”
“It’s over, HuskyLove. I just killed most of your followers, and the Foundation will be here in a few hours to carpet-bomb this place back to the Stone Age.”
HuskyLove's whiskers twitched with amusement. “Well, I’ll admit you fared better than I’d anticipated, but you haven't beaten me, Leroc. You think this puny little town was the end game?" The high priest chuckled. "This was just a test run. I'll start over elsewhere, in a metropolis this time, maybe New York, or Tokyo. From there I'll have a whole country in no time, and then… the world."
“Not on my watch,” Herc said as he pressed the trigger of his AK-47 – but the weapon clicked empty. He tossed it aside, his eyes narrowing. “I guess we’ll have to do this old-school style, then.”
The two opponents faced each other, their silhouettes outlined by the gigantic fire behind them. HuskyLove cracked his neck and knuckles menacingly, while Herc assumed an imposing martial arts stance belonging to the unique style of muay-thai/krav-maga/kung-fu he had developed during his street-fighting days in Bangkok.
Then HuskyLove rushed at Herc, and the final fight was underway.
Troy was almost at the city limits – he should be coming within cellphone range any time, now.
He’d heard the gunshots, watched Herc take down the cultists; now, looking back from the top of the hill where he stood, Troy could see his friend fighting for his life against the high priest of the man/ferrets, his movements graceful, lightning-quick, Bruce Lee-like in the glow of the bonfire.
And yet it wasn't enough.
His opponent was simply too big, too strong to take down; as Troy watched, Herc performed a devastating kick/punch combination attack, repeatedly striking the giant ferret in the chest and abdomen with his fists, then delivering a perfect roundhouse kick to his head - astonishingly, though, his opponent barely seemed to register the blows: instead, leaping forward, he swung at Herc with his razor-sharp claws, mauling him across the chest; as Herc screamed and stumbled back, the man/ferret grabbed him and threw him several feet through the air, sending him crashing through the side of the barn. He then followed in after him, stepping through the gaping hole in the wall and disappearing from Troy's view.
Troy fought an urge to go back and help Herc - no, he told himself. The mission had to come first. He had to trust that his friend could take care of himself. He turned around - the hardest thing he'd ever had to do - and resumed running for the city limits.
Inside the barn, Herc was in bad shape.
His chest and arms were covered in claw marks, and a deep cut ran along his cheek, bleeding down his face and onto his torn t-shirt. HuskyLove was stronger than he could have imagined - his living fursuit must be giving him superhuman powers.
The high priest swung at him again with his massive claws, and Herc jumped on a nearby ladder to avoid the blow, climbing up to the barn’s second floor. On the ground floor below him, he could see a complex machine that pulsed with an eerie red light. This had to be what was responsible for transforming the ferrets, he thought - the machine must be able to bend reality somehow, and HuskyLove was controlling it with his amulet…
Before Herc could think any further HuskyLove jumped up from the floor below, nearly ripping into him with his claws. Herc fell back, desperate – he knew he would not survive this, but he had to at least try to take the high priest down with him.
He had to end the madness.
A plan formed in his mind, and he moved closer to the edge of the balcony that overlooked the floor below, where the machine was. HuskyLove came after him, smiling savagely, certain he had already won. Faster than lightning, he struck, his claws slicing into the flesh of Herc's arm and shoulder. Herc screamed out in pain, his fedora falling to the floor below, but then, gritting his teeth, he leapt up and caught hold of a wooden beam above his head - taking advantage of HuskyLove’s momentary unbalance, he kicked him in the chest with both feet as hard as he could.
The man/ferret stumbled backward, falling over the railing.
"DAMN YOU HERC LEROOOOOOOOCCCCCCC!" he yelled as he plummeted to his doom. "DAAAAAAAMN YYYYYOOO-"
He crashed into the huge machine below, shattering it under his weight. Red lighting began to arc from the amulet, coursing through the high priest's body, causing him to shriek in agony as he was burned alive from the inside out.
"AAAaaaahhhHHH! aaaAAAAAHHH! AAAaaaaAAAAAHHHHhhh!"
The broken machine began to pulsate with insane light, a horrible metallic screeching emanating from within its depths. As HuskyLove’s fursuit caught fire, the air inside the barn began to distort, and Herc felt time slow down, then move faster, then slow down again.
Then the amulet exploded and a red shockwave of blinding light struck Herc in the chest.
Troy felt the earth rumble under his feet just before an immense flash of red light lit up the night sky – a second later the barn exploded into a million pieces.
His heart stopped.
He fell to his knees.
Three weeks later
Agent Troy Lament watched the people disperse after the ceremony, moving down the graveyard path on their way back to their cars. The Director of Site-19 had been in attendance, as well as all the O5s, and Herc had been posthumously awarded the Foundation Medal of Bravery, First Class (his fourth one) – but what difference did it make, Troy thought. His best friend was still gone.
He stared at the grave, fighting back tears – of course, it wasn’t really a grave, since there was no body. After the town had been contained and carpet-bombed and the remaining cultists killed off, efforts had been made to recover Agent Leroc’s body, but only HuskyLove’s charred, mangled corpse had been found in the debris of the barn.
Sometimes at night, Troy dreamed that his friend was still alive somewhere, that he’d somehow managed to survive the explosion. But he knew that couldn’t be, that it was just make-believe, fantasy. He had to face it, hard as it was: his friend was dead, the best friend he’d ever had, even better than Sandlemyer.
Wiping a tear from his face, he turned around and walked away from the grave.