Damian Karras is a sci-fi/fantasy/horror writer from Davenport, Iowa. He has two short story collections available on Amazon, with a debut novel coming very soon. While his reading preferences are eclectic, he enjoys writing the about the most twisted, out there, messed up ideas he can possibly think of. To paraphrase the brilliant Chuck Palahniuk, he is not writing to be liked, he is writing to be remembered. Please check out his website at damiankarras.com.

And please, ye gods, for the love of all that’s holy, keep reading…


by Damian Karras


Even from a quarter mile away, the sight of him makes me grind my teeth. Behind panes of bulletproof glass, he sits at a desk clicking away at a keyboard. His eyes are wide and sharp, his forehead covered in the flop sweat often associated with office jobs that come with crushing pressure. Who knows what he’s typing? Death warrants? State secrets? Emails to the extraterrestrial overlords, begging their mercy and pledging our allegiance?

Guess I’ll never know.

Guess it doesn’t matter.

My eyes are sore from the night-vision binoculars. Not the inside parts that I actually see out of, but the parts around—the parts made of bone and cartilage—scream for rest and relief. Two hours I’ve been up on this ridge, posted between a large growth of scrub brush and a massive fucking cactus. Two hours I’ve lain here, watching and waiting; observing the same behavior from the same specimen I’ve had under surveillance for twenty straight days. He’s like a machine, a high functioning mental patient, or a strictly trained animal.

As I watch, he sips at a water bottle while staring at his screen. In ten minutes, maybe twenty, he’ll get up and travel to what I can only assume is a posh, executive style bathroom. Lots of chrome. Squeaky clean porcelain. Triple ply paper. Based on how he walks, I’m guessing he’ll wipe his ass no less than twelve times before collecting his things and trudging out to the parking lot to his car. This is his pathetic schedule, and I know it by heart.

General Louis A. Banks, ex fighter pilot, decorated military veteran, vehement UFO denier, gets up from his office chair slowly and I can almost hear his joints creak from here. A grimace of pain flashes on his face as he rises and walks away from his workstation. He waddles like a pregnant woman, hands covering his abdomen, bladder obviously full to bursting.

He rushes off, and I drop my binoculars.

Outside, the sand coats everything, including my teeth and my vehicle. Looking off towards the horizon, I watch the moon and try to calculate the approximate number of minutes it will take for the good General to arrive home. As I rise, I attempt to account for variables and discrepancies that may change his route or alter his course. As I trudge towards my car with the desert crunching under my boots, I estimate his ETA at around forty-five minutes to an hour from this current second.

Walking slowly, I look up to the stars.

Countless and infinite, their secrets are still lost to humanity.

This man. This hero. This liar.

He knows something.

He just doesn’t know that I know he knows.


The door creaks as I pull it open and dirt puffs up as I fall into the seat. The steering wheel is covered in grime. The passenger seat is full of garbage. The check engine light has the audacity to blink at me, right now, even at this most pivotal moment. I tell it to fuck itself, turn the key in the ignition, and shift the car violently into gear.

Driving with my knees, I plug in my phone and switch the stereo to Aux. Over the speakers, his voice begins to drone. Downloaded off the internet, this is some kind of recorded interview or lecture, a mass gathering of glassy eyed sheep, denying everything despite the evidence.

“You have to look at, not only the science, but also the math.” The good General says. “Taking into account the size of the universe and the probability of life therein, it is incredibly unlikely we’ve ever been visited by anything in the distant past or our current present.”

My grip tightens on the wheel, turning my knuckles the color of marble. Running a high-level Air Force base for over twenty years, he’s seen. I know he’s seen. The things that’ve been dragged behind those barbed wire fences could melt the public's mind, break down the religious structure, destroy the economy, and bring the world to a grinding halt.

And yet, good ole’ Louis A. Banks denies all, and has for years.

“The odds are astronomical,” he continues, “And if anything did invade the airspace of the United States of America, we would’ve blown it out of the sky. That’s my job, and the job of everyone serving underneath me.”

Ah yes, the threats and vulgar displays of power.

I didn’t buy their macho bullshit from the start, and I’m not buying it now.

On the highway, going 85mph, the lights high above the concrete blur together and I barely notice the other motorists streaking by. I crack the window, letting the cool desert air slip in. Deep breath. Exhale. Allow the scenery to pass. Follow the road to your ultimate destiny. It really is just as easy as that.

General Banks continues to blab in his even, infuriating voice.

I don’t care because I’ve heard it all before.

Drifting onto an exit, I let my mind wander. I go over the research, the reading, and the countless hours of observation. I’ve watched the man live. Drift to and fro, in and out of the sunbaked city. I know his addictions. His routines. The round-trip travels that constitute what the man considers his life.

I also know how much damage he’s done to my community of believers, and how much disinformation he’s pumped into the media, making me and my colleagues look like asylum escapees just one Adderall overdose away from a tin foil hat.

Deny, deny, deny. Make us all look like fucking fools.

Even though he knows.


Sitting at a red light, I mentally go over my plan. Count my tools, review the odds, check the time, and pray to any gods that may exist. Please, please, please. Dear God. Dear Allah. Dear Buddha and Odin and Anubis. Give me time enough to get in and strength enough to go through with what must be done.

He has answers, and I will hear them.

The cul-de-sac greets me silently, the same way it always has. I pull my car into the neighborhood and park on the curb, killing the engine. Many more deep breaths are taken before I’m able to step out of the vehicle and travel to the trunk. Once it’s popped, I pull out my bag and sling it over my shoulder. Metal clanks against metal as I slam it shut and begin walking down the sidewalk.

Dark windows installed in dim houses pass by as I stalk forward. Streetlights glare down, casting shadows. Dogs with names I’ll never know howl from backyards I’ll never see. The air smells sweet, despite the hanging sand. The temperature has dropped significantly since the sun fell, and I can almost feel the sweat evaporating off my skin. I walk with purpose, hopefully looking to anyone with eyes like a card-carrying member of the local community. Just Johnny Every-Man over here, walking home to conserve gas and save the planet.

I consider the people behind their locked doors. Do they know? Have they ever considered? Do the stars fascinate them, or do they live in denial? How many have experienced missing time or been picked up physically? Probed? Studied? How many are walking, talking experiments? How could they not see? How could they not care?

After a short walk, I come upon the good General’s house, a two-story brick behemoth that somehow looks both haunted and regal. Roman style columns hold up a two-ton awning above the porch. Fancy shutters border its large windows. He lives in this monstrosity alone with no wives, girlfriends, or children to be seen. All the lights are off, and there is no fence.

I pass by it quietly and make my way around the corner. After cutting through multiple backyards belonging to the man's oblivious neighbors, I approach his back door at a trot. This is the part of the plan I could only conceive of and never practice. There are no dry runs at breaking and entering. Research can be done, but that’s all.

My heartbeat spikes, adrenaline courses, and sweat slicks my palms as I drop my bag and kneel down to rummage inside. Lock picking sounds like an incredibly illegal activity, but it’s actually a popular hobby in America. They call it locksport. Professional kits and instructional courses can be purchased over the internet for a surprisingly low fee.

Thankfully, the good General didn’t splurge for any fancy tech when it came to home protection. The lock on his back door is cheap, set in the knob, and there is no deadbolt. I take a rake pick out of my kit and force it into the key slot. Half a minute later, the knob turns silently, and I’m in.

The door clicks as I push it closed behind me. As an extra precaution, I relock it. It wouldn't be good to leave any clues for a veteran military professional. Getting my face broken is most definitely not part of the plan. He must not know I am here. The element of surprise is my only friend in this situation.

I turn around and try to take in what I see. A blank, unremarkable hallway stretches before me. No family pictures, no posters, no tools hanging from hooks. Just beige walls and nothingness. My footsteps echo off the cold tile floor, but no one is there to hear them.

Fucking weirdo doesn’t even have a pet. No dog or cat, no ferret or fish, not even a goddamn potted plant. The house reeks of intentional loneliness, and I don’t feel a single iota of pity for this monster. He thrives in solitude and spews forth denial, which sounds like a genuine mental illness to me.

I travel from the hallway into a large, spacious kitchen. A billion stars glow through the skylight, glinting off polished chrome and sharpened steel. The sink is empty, and the countertops are clean enough to lick whipped cream off of. No lights glow on the face of the dishwasher, indicating it is either empty or clean. An expensive but unused coffee maker sits alone on the counter.

I walk over the tile and onto plush carpet into the middle of the living room. A wide flatscreen is attached to the wall with a mount, making it look like it’s floating. The coffee table is devoid of anything but an ashtray, filled to the brim with cigarette butts. A half empty bottle of vodka sits on the floor, next to the couch. The walls remain blank; I have yet to see a picture.

This is minimalism to an extreme.

I creep past a mahogany end table and begin ascending the staircase to the second floor. The handrail is custom and polished. The carpeted stairs refuse to creak. After reaching the top, I turn left and stroll casually into what I know is the good General’s bedroom. All the doors on this level are open, and a large part of me doesn’t even feel like an intruder.

Surveying the barely furnished bedroom, I begin to feel sad but squash the emotion immediately. The man is a liar. A deceiver. If you think about it, even a traitor.

Keeping life changing information from the American people should be a crime punishable by death. He should face a firing squad, complete with a blindfold. He should face the gallows, complete with a black hood. He should face the electric chair, complete with the public emptying of his bowels.         

Asshole doesn’t even deserve an obituary.

I maneuver myself past the bed, which is covered in a single sheet and adorned with a single pillow. I pass my eyes over the empty walls, approach the closet door, and let my fingers tighten around the knob. It clicks as I twist, and slides open easily.

His clothes somehow smell like both dust and detergent.

I close the door behind me, squeeze between his various suit jackets, and sit down.

I wait.

Darkness envelops me, and I try to breathe steadily. Hyperventilating is the last thing I want to do. My bag sits at my hip, and after a moment of contemplation, I zip it open and rummage around inside. A tight spool of zip ties goes into one pocket. An old cigarette lighter goes into the other.  A thick plastic rectangle is traded to my left hand, while a heavy metal bar is grasped by my right. Hopefully, I’ll need nothing else.

The watch constricting my wrist says I have around ten minutes, give or take whatever random errands or unexpected traffic holdups the good General might encounter. I honestly don’t care. I know he’ll come home, and I know because I’ve seen. Weeks of surveillance easily flushed out his whole life. No hobbies. No mistress. He’s married to the job.

As I sit, I count his transgressions, his disinformation, and his crimes. We are a species after all. We share the planet. We all matter. Everyone should know. The information this man holds behind locked doors must be baffling, terrifying, and mind boggling. 

I can’t tell how much time passes, sitting on my ass in the unfamiliar closet. Long enough to notice multiple boxes, cardboard, plastic and otherwise, stacked floor to ceiling all around me. There are random black containers stored on high shelves that I can only assume are full of pistols and revolvers and rifles.

Just as my legs start falling asleep, I hear a door slam shut downstairs.
Air catches in my throat and I hold my breath as heavy footfalls echo through the house.

Previous surveillance tells me he’s traveling to the living room. Sitting down. Pulling off his plastic looking shoes, shiny to the point of blinding. After a second he’ll sigh, regain his feet, and travel to the kitchen.

More footsteps, bangs, and dampened thumps; a man meandering around a house he believes is empty. I stand up in the closet, attempting to stretch. Blood flows into my cramped muscles. The pins and needles fade. Breathing deep, I grasp my weapons.

Stun gun, 300,000-volts.

Crowbar, extra heavy.

The plan is simple but daunting. Sneak up on him, unawares. Clonk him from behind, if possible. Electrocute him only if things get out of control. Zip tie him to the bed, wait for him to regain consciousness, and then conduct the interrogation. 

I need him alive so he can tell me the truth.

I hear him stomp up the stairs and slam the bathroom door. The time he spends in there varies, but it’s usually between five and seven minutes. I crack the closet door, just enough to spot the target and aim. I hear the toilet flush and draw in the deepest breath I possibly can.

He opens the bathroom door, and suddenly I can see him. Through the tiny sliver of visibility the door gives me, I can see across the bedroom and into the hall. He flicks the light off in the bathroom and walks to the bedroom with his head down. He sits down on the mattress with his back to me and drops his head into his hands. I push the closet door open, and it whisks over the carpet silently.

He hears nothing and makes no movement, so I advance.

Toe to heel, I approach him from behind while raising the heavy metal bar. He removed most of his clothing in the bathroom, allowing me to smell his sweat and see it slicked across his neck and down his back. His breathing is shallow, hushed, and barely audible.

I take a second to collect myself. Seeing him here, like this, is unsettling. He appears so innocent, so burnt out, so joyless. A pang of guilt shoots through me, but I suppress it by once again counting his crimes. The lies. The denial. The misdirection and misinformation. I recall the faces of my comrades, all imprisoned, dead, or insane from their crusade for the truth.

The anger burns fresh in my chest, and I bring the crowbar down in a swift arc; not hard enough to kill him, but I want him knocked out.

Above all, the sound surprises me. A deep, thick thwock vibrates my bones up to the shoulder. General Banks crumples immediately, folding at the waist and collapsing to the floor. I assumed a small swing would ensure semi-unconsciousness, but little more. I assumed he would cry out, still half-awake as he fell over. I assumed what I had seen in countless movies would seamlessly transfer to reality.

This is why teachers and parents tell you to never assume.

I creep around the corner of the bed, slightly horrified and trembling from adrenaline. I see his feet first, hairy and bare. His legs are pale and covered in visible veins. His boxer shorts are hiked up around his thighs from the fall, gifting me with a sight I instantly wish to delete from my memory, but know I’ll never be able to.

My hand goes numb, I drop the crowbar, and the next five minutes speed past in a blur. The General is heavier than he looks, but I manage to hoist his dead weight up onto the bed. His skin is colder than it has any right to be, but his breathing is steady and deep. The box spring under the mattress creaks as I climb up next to him, knees deep in the comforter, and yank the zip ties out of my pocket. After affixing his wrists and ankles to the bedframe, I step back and try desperately to regain my composure. 

Louis A. Banks, ex fighter pilot and combat veteran, lays mostly naked and completely unconscious in front of me. His chest rises and falls while his eyes flick side to side underneath their lids. He’s a tough old war dog, I’ll give him that.

I approach from the side, creeping up on his supine body as if he might strike out at me. Searching my memory, I try to come up with some feasible estimate of how long he’ll be out. In some movies, it’s hours. Some TV shows, it’s days. Shit, if we’re talking soap operas, I could be sitting here for months on end, and he’ll have total amnesia when he finally comes to.

I curse under my breath, draw back an open hand, and slap the good General with everything I have. The sound of skin-on-skin cracks through the silent room like thunder, and surprisingly, he doesn’t even flinch. My palm feels like it’s hovering over an open flame, and this dipshit won’t even sniffle. For whatever reason, this fact fills me with rage.

I hit him again, backhanded. His head jerks to the opposite side, but that’s all the reaction I get. Stepping back, I pull in oxygen and attempt to count to ten. This isn’t good. I can’t stand here all night. I can’t allow this to go on any longer than it absolutely has to.

Smelling salts would’ve been a great idea, but hindsight is 20/20.      

Just wake up, I think-scream at the General.

Wake up, you useless waste of oxygen!

Despite my telepathic cries, he remains unconscious. At this point, all I feel is rage, and all I know is contempt.

The bed springs creak as I straddle the General, my hips over his, a knee to each of his sides. My brain is a fog of scarlet. I am beyond furious. I cannot stand this man or anything he represents, and he will pay a high price, at my hands, for his deceptions.

Like a mixed martial artist seeking a brutal knockout, I begin to rain blows down upon the mans smug, conceited, lying face. I feel his nose shift sideways under my knuckles with a sharp pop. I am ecstatic as I notice his teeth begin to give way to the strike of my fists. Like a person possessed, I hammer blindly into the skull of the good General, my eyes closed in wrath, my smile one of vengeance.

It takes no more than three minutes for my arms to give out. I am no athlete.

I drop my aching hands to the bedspread, turn my face to the ceiling, and try to catch my breath. Oh my god, what have I done? I need him alive! I need him to speak, to admit, to confess! Most of all, I need to let him know that I know what he knows. But now that won’t happen.

A murderer is what I am now—no longer a crusader for truth, a disciple of the unknown, or a soldier in the war against oppression. I am a taker of lives. Oblivion incarnate. An accidental assassin with literal blood soaking his fingers and wrists.

Now I am become death, destroyer of old military men.

My eyes open slowly, revealing the pale white ceiling. I can feel splatters of hot liquid cooling on my face and neck. The next logical step is to drop my head and take in the devastation I have wrought, and it takes all the willpower I have left to relax the muscles in my neck and gaze downward.

The General’s skull is open to the air. The skin encasing his scalp and face is split wide, wounded flesh shining in the overhead lights of the bedroom. His eyes are half open with only the whites showing. He does not convulse, shutter, or spasm. He seems very much beyond dead, but this fact does not even register in my brain.

I feel no sympathy, only awe.

I experience no remorse, just terror.

Thick liquid pulses out of the lacerations, dripping down and pooling on the comforter. This liquid is rank, viscous, and a distractingly neon shade of green.

Despite being in a complete state of shock, I manage to wonder what planet, what universe, what star cluster this grotesque thing must have come from.

Guess I’ll never know...guess it doesn’t matter…