Fire Tower Blues


It’d been a good day off for Ken. He sat down back at his radio at the Headquarters of the Montana Parks Department, in order to get the twice a day reports from those at the Fire Lookout Towers.

He was looking forward to talking with a certain person, maybe talking about being able to meet her in person in three days when she got off her station. So he waited. Around ten, when she normally called in, he was anxious for her to call.

But she didn’t.

Not even at four, the other time she normally called in.

That’s not good, he thought. Someone not calling in at their designated times meant something had happened.

He grabbed the phone that sat near him in case of emergencies and dialed the Park Ranger number.

Two days earlier…

It was a brisk morning during May when Jasmine, a young woman of 25 years, had gotten up in her night clothes, let out an obscenely loud yawn, looked out her fire tower at the surrounding mountains of Montana, with their pine forests and snow capped peaks, and decided she was to have sausages for breakfast.

She had brought them along for only special occasions during her two week stay at the Fire Tower, but now, five days into her stay, no special occasions seemed to be imminent. So why not eat them now, with her craving for those sausages instead of the cereals she’d brought along.

The fire tower was about 30 feet off the ground, with a staircase not for the weak stomached. It was grated, so one could see all the way to the ground. Back on the East Coast, up the Hudson River, where Jasmine was from, she’d climbed an 80-foot fire tower with the same type of grating. Her father had thrown up trying to go down.

She got dressed and then walked over to her mini-fridge, situated by the small kitchen. Inside was a half-empty milk bottle, some cheese, and the sausages. She took them out and grabbed a knife to cut the plastic covering. She then put them in a pan and began cooking them and then some eggs.

She sat down with her coffee and breakfast and grabbed her current book. It was a small western by Louis L’amour. As she read and ate, the sun came up and illuminated the green landscape around her.

Once she finished with her breakfast and the section of the book she read, she went out for a walk,taking in the nature surrounding her. On the forest floor, there was underbrush. Red squirrels scampered along the ground and up trees. She always smiled when she saw them. She also noticed some imported species: Eastern Grey Squirrels. Home.

The path winded downhill through the woods and made a sharp left turn, where it passed adjacent to a small lake. She went to a boulder and sat down on it, looking at the lake. It was quite serene. She saw a trout jump to catch some mayflies, sending a ripple through the glass-like surface. She smiled and watched for more. If she were with her friends, she would’ve pointed and said, “There’s one.” But, as the only person for several miles, she just smiled and watched.

The sense of quietness in the area was unreal, especially for someone who grew not far from New York City. There was sometimes the sound of planes, flying so far overhead they couldn’t be seen, or an off-roader traveling to one of the other fire lookouts.

After she watched the lake, she made her way down the path, which took a loop uphill. She heard something rustling in the bushes. Something large. She put her hand down to her can of bear spray, but when nothing appeared, she sighed and kept walking on, keeping a diligent watch.

Through the trees, she saw something large floating, with tendrils flowing down from it, practically touching the forest floor. “What the…”

She blinked and it was gone. Or maybe disappeared beyond a tree. She looked again, and it still was gone. She furrowed her eyebrows and walked back to her lookout tower.

At about 10, she grabbed her microphone and tuned her radio to the frequency in which the HQ was on. “Hello.” A male’s voice came over the radio.

“Hi, this is Jasmine Sanchez, at lookout tower 24.”

“Hiya Jasmine. How is it there?”

“Not too shabby. No fires. The weather’s about…” She looked at her thermometer “65 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s sunny, with a few scattered clouds.”

“Mhm. And how are you?”

“I’m fine. I saw something floating with tendrils in the forest, but it may have been a hallucination.”

“That’s some real The Shining, like the novel, stuff going on there. Isolation does that.”

“I know. It’s weird though, ’cause that never happens to me. I’ve been doing this for three seasons, and I’ve never had a hallucination.”

“Sometimes it takes a bit for someone to break. Not saying you’re weak, of course.”

“Of course. I get it.”

“When do you expect to check in again?”

“‘Bout four.”

“Alright. I’ll be here. See ya.”

“See you.”

She turned off the radio and sighed. The isolation, which she normally loved, was getting to her. It paid well, though. Otherwise she’d have to find a job where she’d have to interact with people, and that wasn’t good, either. Maybe a job as part of the usual park personnel, where she could go home at the end of the day with her cat. Sometimes she felt that her cat spent more time with Patricia than her during the season.

“Because she does.”

The rest of the day was spent taking measurements and watching the landscape, as the sun slowly passed its highest point and began to fall towards the west. Deer sometimes came beneath the tower, sniffing at the metal grated stairs. She smiled at their being there. It was always nice to see.

She had a scare later in the day.

As she sat on the porch of the tower, she noticed something large lumbering out of the forest. It had light cream-colored fur and had a large hump on its back. Its huffing and puffing could be heard quite easily, even from her position.

A bear.

“Oh shoot,” she said. She ran inside and grabbed her bear spray and two pot lids. She ran back out and couldn’t see the bear. “Oh no no no.”

She looked down and saw it sniffing at the stairs. She noticed something odd on its back. A sort of pink-tinted, translucent gelatinous substance covered its hindquarters. “The heck?”

It put its paw on the first step. “That’s not good.” She clanged the pot lids together, very loudly, and yelled. The bear jumped and galloped away, towards the forest. On the gelatinous covered hindquarters, there were signs of burnt, bubbling flesh.

I’m definitely going to have to report that.

At around four, she turned on the radio and switched to the HQ frequency. “Hello.” It was the same guy from earlier.
“Hi, this is Jasmine Sanchez at lookout tower 24.”

“How are you? Any more hallucinations?”

“No, thankfully, but I saw a bear today.”

“One normally does in this area.”

“No, but it had a gelatinous substance that was burning its hindquarters.”

“That’s not good. What was its color, weight and sex?”

“Light cream, could be about 900 pounds. Definitely male.”

“I see. I’ll send a park ranger out there.”

“Thank you. What’s the temperature out there?”

“It’s about 76 degrees Fahrenheit, with not a cloud in the sky.” She looked up at the landscape, with the valleys in between the several mountains that were scattered throughout her view. The pine trees swayed in the slight breeze and golden eagles flew through the sky.

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it. I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

“I have the day off tomorrow.”

“I see. Well, see you soon.”

“See ya, Jasmine.”

She switched off the radio and leaned back in her folding chair, stretching. Then she grabbed her book and began to read.

That night, she was sitting in bed, with her light on, which let off a warm glow. Several bugs flew around the bulb, and at times she looked up to watch them. The darkness outside was oppressive. The moon was the brightest thing, casting a white glow across the land.

The trees seem tinted with white, and underneath them, was darkness.

Something caught her eye, and she turned quickly towards it. It was floating. It was that thing. That thing, from earlier in the day. It’s tendrils dropped below the canopy. It floated over the trees, moving slowly. She saw it clearly now.

It looked like four spheres in a two-by-two formation, and the front two coalesced into a flat face with a large, pudgy mouth and beady eyes, with two cat-fish like tendrils hanging off of its fish.

Jasmine grabbed her camera and took a picture, with the flash on. Stupid.

It turned towards her and revealed its dark pink color. It was also covered with a translucent pink gelatinous substance. Then it began floating towards her.

She jumped out of bed and ran for the bear spray. She turned around, the bear spray in her hand, and then lowered it.

It was so beautiful. The simplicity of it. Like a primordial creature. It was alluring.

She took a step towards it.

Come. Towards. Me.

A voice in her head. Soothing, almost like a whisper. It seemed to struggle to pronounce the words in English. She took another step towards it, tilting her head.

Ghansd. Breasdfflo.

That voice again. The language though, seemed guttural and primeval.

A gurgling sound emitted from it. Like someone gargling water.

It was so beautiful.

She was enamored of it.

Come. Child.

Normally she would be insulted that she was called child. But this seemed so mother-like.

She climbed onto her bed and stepped out the window, near falling flat on her face on the porch.

Yes. Come.

The creature opened its mouth, revealing a pink maw with darkness beyond.

Come. To. Me.

She stood on the railing of the porch. The creature moved towards it, opening its mouth so that it was the same size as her, 5 foot two.


It was so beautiful.

She stepped on its tongue. It was squishy on her bare feet. A smell, like roses, but something different, filled her nose.

Then something putrid. The smell of death.

She realized she was in its mouth, and turned to jump out.

Its mouth came crashing down.

And it consumed her. It floated away from the tower, its insides dissolving her. It was satiated.

For now.