He didn’t know if he used his head the right way, but Lom Graski didn’t mind battering down doors. The boys back at the station called him “The Ram” or “Ram” if they got even lazier. Coming out of a miserable D3 mountain town college, Lom transitioned quicker from fullback to traffic cop than you could say “First down!”
The city of Springdale didn’t have a crime problem. Hell, Lom wondered why they even had a police force most days. The population of nine hundred and thirty eight seemed more set on tending to backyard gardens and supporting the local football team than causing mischief.
That’s why no one was ready for the fourteenth of October. The day the gate appeared. It stood at the edge of town— in the middle of the single road in and out of town. It was fifteen feet tall and had sprouted from the earth. Ivory carvings decorated the sides of the dark metal structure. And in the middle was a tattered curtain that kept flapping on a phantom wind.
The first person to approach the gate was the old Lutheran minister, Jens Brunell. A dowdy figure at seventy three, Jens had not as much interacted with a Ouija board. As he shuffled towards the gate— he clutched his cherrywood cross that hung around his neck. His daughter, Matilda, had bought it for him years ago on a trip to Denmark. He didn’t want to be brave— but sacrifices go hand in hand with responsibility.
A giant, scarred hand shot out of the gate and snatched Jens in the blink of an eye. It pulled him back into the gate. The crowd that stood back scattered like rats. What dark deed had called such an evil to their town? Who was responsible? Why had it taken Jens? These were all whispered amongst the citizens as they kept as far away from the gate as possible.
Eventually Lom found himself planning in the bunker under the police station. It was really a basement, but the times had necessitated a safer name for their dreary dwelling. Lom and two others, Peter Stauvil and Kenny Sherwood, were the only ones left with any courage after they saw poor Jens stolen away. They knew they had to destroy that gate if anyone in the town had a chance at survival.
“Kenny, your dad still has some blast charges after he had to close the mine up last year, right?” Lom said.
“I bet he has a couple left. Tough bastard hated giving anything back to the drilling company,” Kenny said as he polished a shotgun. Lom looked over at Peter who was reading through a Bible.
“You find anything yet?”
“Nothing about giants. I don’t think we know what it’s gonna be until we see the whole thing,” Peter said.
“I’m not sure we want to.”
“I don’t doubt that. But it sure seems like we’re headed that way. How much longer is that thing going to be satisfied with only grabbing Jens?”
“Hopefully long enough for us to get more firepower,” Kenny said.
The three men stood in the center of Main Street after digging through Kenny’s family farm for explosives. The band of dynamite was slung over Kenny’s shoulder and Peter carried the detonator box. Lom had a shotgun and a pickax with him. Not that he thought it’d do any good to that giant hand.
“Do either of you feel like The Three Musketeers?” Peter asked as he looked between Kenny and Lom with their worn wranglers and dirt caked t-shirts.
“Not even a little bit. I feel fucking terrified there’s a giant hand that stole our priest and we’re standing with dynamite in the middle of our town,” Kenny said.
“And no one else wants to help,” Lom added.
He looked at the once idyllic town— now cast with a dark shadow of fear. “Let’s get after it,” he said and started towards the gate.
They got within fifty feet and the street began to rumble. The asphalt beneath their feet churned as the gate began to grow taller.
The three men shared a terrified look— it was more than a hand that they were going to face.
“Place the sticks! We gotta blow this thing right now!”
Kenny ran towards the gate— he slid to a stop and planted the dynamite before turning back to Lom and Peter. That’s when the hand shot out of the gate again. Just like that, Kenny followed Jens into the breach. Peter looked at Lom and then bolted. He ran towards the opposite end of town leaving Lom by himself.
Lom stared at the fallen pile of dynamite and the disconnected cord to the detonator in his arms. He knew the town only had one shot at getting out of this nightmare. He ran towards the gate— feet flying over the uneven pavement as shades of D3 glory returned to his running form. A long, gangly, grey leg crept out of the gate and the hint of a torso followed as Lom slid to a stop by the dynamite and hurriedly reconnected the wires. He looked up to find a rotten amalgamation of sewn flesh and mismatched bones loom over him. He whispered a prayer and pressed down on the detonator box.