Part Four: Gary wondered if he should think of this as a promotion. He was given a suite at one of the best hotels but he didn’t have a door. The monsters didn’t like doors. Everyone who served them could live inside but all the doors were removed. Gary told people that putting up a door or keeping a door or even so much as closing a door was in invitation to dinner. The monsters roamed through the hallways at will, filling the entire space with their bulk. As solid as they seemed they were nearly snake-like in their ability to get into tight spaces. He had seen them squeeze into manholes, with nothing but their hindquarters sticking in the air, to fish out escaping humans. They went everywhere they wanted but the monsters were living in the parking garage. They had flooded it with seawater and they seemed to like being partially submerged. It was his job to round people up so the monsters could feed. He had enough soldiers left over from what was once the army to help him but they were having to go out further and further to find people. They were putting out signs in the country that pointed in to the city, “Free Food! No Monsters!” and that was at least half true. People trickled in by the hundreds at first but now they were only coming in a dozen or so at a time. It was the same everywhere. The monsters were using people to help bring them more people and it was getting slim everywhere.
Six months had passed. Gary didn’t know how much longer he could find people and he knew what would happen if he ran out. There was an internal population in the city, maybe ten thousand, someone had to keep the place running, but if they started using the natives some would bolt and that would mean fewer still, or worse, some sort of revolt, and the monsters might kill them all. Gary wondered if they were going to simply feed on humans until extinction. He didn’t see anything stopping that from happening.
Gary went down into garage and waded into the water. He had a report of how many people had been rounded up and led into the stadium where the monsters liked to feed. He had their ages and their gender, their names and how they were. The monsters liked the details, but Gary didn’t know why. He knew better than to show fear. They liked fear. They loved playing with a human that was terrified. As long as he was relaxed they wouldn’t bother him at all. One of them stopped in front of him.
And Gary gave the report as calmly and as slowly as he dared. It reminded him of going to speak to the Board of Directors and how there were men in that room who would pick apart any report for any sort of error at all. Was the spacing right? Did the font meet their standards? Gary wondered how much of what the monsters did to him was pulled out of his head. The monster defecated in the water and a wave of revulsion swept over Gary before he could stop it. The monster made him kneel and drink the water. Gary didn’t hesitate.
There were an even one hundred people living in the hotel with Gary and the monsters in the garage. He had set the operation up like a sales team, the only way he knew how, and everyone obeyed him without hesitation. The monsters knew who dissented. The guy from the interstate and his wife had started some action about getting someone to try to talk to the monsters, to replace Gary, and the monsters had eaten them both, very slowly. Gary had posted a job opening on the internet, and it was totally weird that so much still functioned, and he was stunned to find that someone actually wanted it. The reasoning of trying to get closer to the monsters to keep from being eaten had shown itself, very recently, to be flawed. But Gary needed the help. The logistics of trying to get one hundred people week into the feeding bowl was getting to be a bitch. Gary knew if he got fired it was going to get real ugly real quick.