Nightmare at the Ranch: A Splitgate Story
Henry sat down with dinner in his living room chair, like he did every Sunday night. He always looked forward to these nights. Every Sunday, he and Trudy took time away from the farm to sit down and watch their nephew’s Splitgate team compete. They never had children of their own, so their nephew was the closest thing that they had to a son.
Henry and Trudy had been living on their farm for decades. They got married right out of school, bought a piece of land and jumped into farming, much like Henry’s father had. It was all Henry ever wanted, really. He had a place to call his own, he had Trudy, his dog and they were never bothered by people. Their little life was miles away from the nearest sign of civilization. They had everything that they needed right at home.
Tonight’s Splitgate match would be played in the Takedown format. The competitors on both teams would compete in round-based combat with the objective of making a clean, efficient elimination of the opposing team. The idea is that if you take too long to wipe all of your opponents, they will respawn and they’re right back in the match. While the Takedown ruleset can be intense, it wasn’t their nephew’s favorite. His aim was true, but he was still struggling to portal with the speed and fluidity that the best Splitgate players utilized to hunt down the final member of a team on the edge of elimination, which frustrated him. The randomly generated maps probably didn’t help with that.
Right after the third round of match had completed and the game was still very much either team’s to be won, Henry noticed a bright green flashing from outside. It looked like a series of lightning flashes, but the light was a sickly green color. “Did you see that,” Henry asked Trudy. “How could I not,” Trudy replied. “I’m going to check it out. Hope I don’t miss anything.”
Henry walked outside onto the front porch which was dimly lit at this time of night. The wind had picked up and it felt like it was going to storm. He could hear that the sheep were unsettled, which wasn’t uncommon when a storm was coming. The sound of bells, the breeze and “bahhhhh” from the sheep filled the air waves around the farm. He stood on the porch for several minutes, scanning the landscape for a sign of the strange green light source that he and Trudy had seen moments ago. He had just started to turn around to go back into the house when the green flash caught the side of the house. The strange momentary glow was accompanied by a familiar sound that seemed out of place. “God damn it,” Henry said out loud. He wanted to get back to the match but when your property is your livelihood, you can’t walk away.
He took a few steps off of the porch and stood in the open, letting the wind hit him. Normally, standing out in the open on the farm was a relaxing endeavor but he was on a mission this time. He could hear the sheep shuffling around in the barn as they seemed to be getting more rambunctious. Another green flash, paired with another weird sound occurred. This time, he could tell it came from the north side of the property, near the tree line.
Henry started walking toward the forest. He knew the property and surrounding area like the back of his hand. Livestock would often break loose and he had tracked rogue sheep down, hundreds of times. He had done it at night, in the snow, fog and whatever else nature threw at him. He made it about half way to the tree line when he heard a rustling sound to his right, in the corn field. Visibility in corn fields wasn’t usually the greatest. He stopped walking and turned toward the corn field, watching for motion. He must have stood there for a solid minute before he saw several stalks of corn shift, indicating that something was in there. Henry took a couple steps forward before more corn stalks shifted. A few seconds later, he saw another green flash accompanied by the same sound that he heard before. “OK, what the hell is going on,” Henry pondered. Henry took a cautious step toward the corn field when Trudy’s voice burst out behind him, making him jump. “Henry, get in here! Trevor just aced the round and took out EVERYONE on the other team! It’s all tied up!”
“Something is out here,” he replied. ”It’s probably a raccoon! Do you really want to miss this?” Henry stared into the corn field in silence and hesitated. He dismissed the irregularity with a wave of his arms and headed back toward the house. “If one of the sheep is out there, it can eat all the corn it wants. I’ll get it in the morning.” Sheep were docile creatures that never drifted very far.
Henry got out of bed at sunrise. All of the signs of thestorm were now gone, as the sun shone bright across the farm, as it had many mornings before. Henry put on jeans, boots and a jacket before heading outside. He didn’t sleep much given the excitement of the Splitgate match, which ended with Trevor’s team pulling out a win in the final round. It was the strange feeling that the green flashes had given him that really kept him awake, however. He laid for most of the night watching the windows for another flash but hadn’t seen one. Now he had to go outside, see if all of his sheep were accounted for and investigate.
Henry ventured over to the sheep and took inventory. As he suspected, he was missing one. “Here we go again,” he complained to himself. He could check all of the usual places, but given the events of the night before, he decided to head toward the tree line where he had left off the night before. He slowly made his way toward the north side of the property, whistling as he walked. As he approached where he had stopped the night before, he smelled something. It was a sickly smell, like something had burned. He didn’t have to go far to discover the source of it.
What Henry found in the corn field were the remains of what he assumed, used to be one of his sheep. This wasn’t the first time that this had happened. Feral animals like wolves and coyotes were known to attack and consume livestock. It was an unfortunate part of the business. This wasn’t that. The former sheep looked like it had been surgically dissected, but the cuts were unbelievably clean. It almost looked like each cut had been cauterized. There was no blood spatter, no pools of blood and no gore. Henry pondered what he had just seen and how he was going to explain it to Trudy. It wasn’t until he finished pondering what could have done such a thing that he wondered, “What if this happens again?”
Henry looked at the clock from bed. It was after 2:30am and he was still awake. He hadn’t been able to shake the lingering thoughts of green flashes and his dismembered sheep. He’d been living this lifestyle for decades and he had never seen anything like this. Trudy was convinced that all of this was some type of freak occurrence of nature, but nature couldn’t have left that sheep in the shape that it was in. The whole ordeal was driving him crazy. Trudy didn’t seem as concerned, as she slept normally beside him.
He rolled over and looked at his wife. They had been through thick and thin together. They had overcome droughts, hard economic times, even a plague. He had no idea what he would do without her. They were partners for life, even if he sometimes struggled to express it to her. Henry stared fondly at her peaceful face and smiled. His smile faded as her face caught a flash of green light spilling in from the window.
Henry jumped out of bed and glared out of the window. “God damn it,” he exclaimed. He didn’t see anything but he immediately thought about the livestock. “What’s wrong,” Trudy asked, sitting up in bed. “The sheep,” Henry said and ran downstairs. Bursting onto the porch, Henry looked in the direction of the barn that housed the sheep. There wasn’t any noise coming from the barn, which seemed like a good sign. Henry jogged toward the barn as rain and wind blew in his face. He wanted to get a head count on the sheep. When he walked in, he witnessed something that he couldn’t possibly prepare for.
Every single sheep that Henry and Trudy had was standing and facing the back of the barn, looking in the same direction. Henry stood in the entry way of the barn, in disbelief. He walked closer to the nearest sheep on his left to inspect it. The animal had what looked like thick, black muscle or tendons protruding from its body. It seemed to be covered in a wet, black, substance as well. He touched the substance with his hand, finding it sticky to the touch. It was most definitely not blood.
Henry inspected each of the livestock and found that they were all in the same situation. Strangely, none of them reacted to his presence or touch. They seemed to be in a state of shock or trance. They all just continued to stare at the back of the barn, totally immobile. He wasn’t sure which part of the situation was more unsettling. Henry’s head was spinning. These sheep were his way of life and he had no idea what was happening. “What the hell is doing this,” he thought? Then he heard Trudy scream.
Henry sprinted out of the barn back toward the house. The rain was pounding down across the property and the green flashes we’re happening again. This time, they were happening one right after another. Despite the circumstances, he was relieved to see Trudy standing on the front porch. At least she was safe.
Henry bolted onto the porch, put his hands on his wife’s shoulders and yelled “What’s wrong?” Between the rain, wind and crashing sounds, he could hardly hear himself. “There’s something out there,” Trudy exclaimed. “I didn’t get a good look at it but I swear that it was flying.” “What do you mean, flying,” Henry replied in confusion. “I mean there’s someone or something out in the corn field that is flying. Its not walking on the ground, its floating. Or flying. And its big”
Henry hadn’t had time to make any sense of what was happening on their ranch but whatever Trudy saw must have been responsible for the grotesque state of the sheep. “Get in the house,” Henry finally replied as he ushered her in and shut the door behind him. “There’s something wrong with the sheep. They’ve all got these black things poking through their coats and they’re all just standing there, fixated on thin air. It’s like they don’t even know that I’m there,” Henry said.
“But they’re alive,” Trudy asked? “I guess,” Henry said. “But I don’t know if they’re really sheep anymore. Trudy, I don’t know what’s out there, but we have to make a stand. We’ve been through a lot on this ranch and I don’t know what’s going on but we have to fight back. This is all that we have.”
Trudy looked back at Henry, eyes wide and said “Henry, fight back against what? I’m with you but we don’t even know what’s going on.” “It’s time to find out,” Henry said as he sifted through his keys until he found the one that unlocked the gun cabinet. Henry and Trudy had both used their guns plenty of times throughout the years but it was mostly to scare off wild animals that wandered into their space. Henry had a feeling that this time would be different.
The weapons that they owned were pretty simplistic compared to what was out there these days. They were more function over form kind of people. Henry took a pair of pump shotguns out of the cabinet and handed one to Trudy. They both took a handful of shells and started feeding them into the chamber of their weapons in silence. After a couple of minutes had passed, Trudy cocked her shotgun and looked at Henry. “Are we going to do this or what?”
Right as Henry started toward the door, their house started to shake. “What now, an earthquake,” Trudy asked? “No, do you hear that? It sounds like a plane or something,” Henry said. Henry opened the front door and that’s when he saw it for the first time. It stood in front of the corn field and stared directly at their front door. It was dressed like a butcher, but it had a pig’s face. One part of its head appeared metallic or robotic. One of its eyes was missing with the remaining one glowing red like a cyborg from an action film. While its right arm appeared normal and almost human, the left arm was entirely cybernetic. Henry’s mind raced as it tried to accept the blend of man, animal, and machine that stood in front of him.
Henry didn’t have long to process the horrific pig-man because far behind the creature came a space craft of some kind in the distance. It was large and given the circumstances, likely headed their way. As Henry stood there in disbelief, Trudy opened fire at the beast, snapping Henry back to reality. Henry raised his gun and fired as the beast disappeared back into the corn field.
“Did you hit it,” Henry asked? “I think so,” Trudy said. “So did I. But yet, it lives,” Henry said. “Henry, what is that thing,” Trudy asked, expecting some type of logical answer. “I don’t know. But I sure hope that there’s humans on that ship coming toward us or these shotguns probably aren’t going to do us much good,” Henry declared.
“Maybe we should run. We can get in the truck and drive in to town. We can get more people and come back,” Trudy suggested. “That’s probably a good idea, Trudy, but I can’t just leave. This ranch is our home. If you want to go, I understand. But I can’t just walk away. I need to protect this place. Our place,” Henry stoically concluded. “I’m not going alone. Whatever we do, we stay together,” Trudy said. The pair shared a longing look before dropping their heads, cocking their shotguns and stepping outside.
Henry stepped toward the spot where they had fired at the pig-man and saw blood on the ground. At least it bled. That means that it can be killed. Having tracked plenty of animals before, Henry pointed toward the spot and signaled into the corn field to Trudy with his hand. She shouldered her shotgun and placed a hand on his shoulder from behind, alerting him to lead the way. Henry stepped into the field.
They followed the blood trail as the structures on the ranch shook more violently as the massive ship approached overhead. Suddenly, sounds whistled within the corn field. Something was moving around in there and it wasn’t far away. First they heard sound to their left. Then to the right. Henry and Trudy quickly spun around in the ever changing direction of the sound. Henry put his back to Trudy’s and kept the stock of his shotgun tight against his shoulder while Trudy did the same. “We’re going this way,” Henry said. “I thought I saw something near the tree line the other night. That’s where we are going.” The sounds suddenly stopped spinning and came from only one direction. Ahead of them, in the same direction that they were headed.
When Henry and Trudy reached the edge of the crop line, the blood trail continued ahead of them but stopped at a pair of boots, where the pig-man stood. Smeared in blood, the swine-cyborg hybrid held some type of blade laden machine on his back. It had to have been him that cut up their sheep. Had it also been him that turned their livestock in the barn, sickly?
Before Henry and Trudy could react, a flash of green came over the trio of figures. Henry suddenly realized that the ship in the sky was no longer just a ship in the sky. It was right above them. Suddenly, everything clicked. Henry knew why he recognized the sound that had accompanied the green flashes. Right before their eyes, a green portal, just like those in a Splitgate match, opened up before them. Without hesitation, the pig-man ran through it. Henry and Trudy instinctively took steps back toward the corn field, their guns suddenly feeling useless.
Henry glared up to inspect the ship above them. It almost looked like a serpent in the sky. It glowed purple and green, covered by what looked like a metallic spinal cord. Strange runes were emblazoned along the massively lengthy vehicle, which seemed to be struggling to stay in place. Near what Henry assumed was either the rear or the head of the ship, stood several of the pig figures, staring down at them, holding onto the sides of the ship. Henry could see their butcher’s exit portal behind them. The ship slowly lurched away from them, emitting the sound of a machine in pain, shifting directions and heading back toward the sky. Henry and Trudy stood and watched in silence.
Once the ship was out of sight, Henry said “We need to make sure that none of them are still here. We may not be out of the woods yet,” No sooner had he finished speaking when a tall figure made a break for the portal, which still stood in front of them. Henry raised his gun and fired. The straggling pig-man fell to the ground as Henry and Trudy both connected with their opening shots. As the creature fell, the couple continued to fire, closing the distance between themselves and the creature. Round after round hit the brute, which continued to crawl despite the trashing of bullets pelting it. After both Henry and Trudy had emptied their chambers, it stopped moving. Henry approached the dead pig-man, stopping a few feet short of the body. He wanted to get a better look. This one didn’t have any of the cybernetic features of its counterpart, but had one of the same bladed devices on its back. Was it some kind of propulsion device? Splitgate players wore so-called “jet packs” but this had been modified to hold what looked like sharp tools or weapons.
After losing track of how long he had been staring at the unidentified corpse in front of him, Henry heard the unmistakable sound of an old diesel motor being pushed to its limit. It was getting closer. “Trudy, come over here,” Henry said. A few seconds later, an old beat up pick up truck came flying out of their corn field, barreling into the portal and instantly disappearing. “Holy shit,” Henry said. “Was that Randy?” “That was his truck,” Trudy said. “No doubt about it.” “And he just drove straight into that portal,” Henry questioned. “What if we aren’t the only ones, Henry? What if these things were going after other farms too,” Trudy hypothesized. “So what,” Henry said. “Randy just went in after them,” Henry said, puzzled. “Oh my God, Trudy. We need to get the police here, now.”
Three weeks later
Henry and Trudy were exhausted. They had told their story to countless police officers, planetary officials and agencies. They had been transported from one place to another for weeks. No one had seen Randy since that night but their story explained his absence. No one could deny the presence of the pig-man’s body so their story checked out. While no one seemed to be able to believe it, they had to. There was evidence to back it all up. While the portal had closed by the time that police arrived on scene to check everything out, the shell ridden, pig creature spoke for itself.
Since that day, no one had been able to give Henry or Trudy any context or understanding of what they had witnessed. While they had shared their story with hundreds of members of law enforcement and the scientific community, no one could make any sense of it. An autopsy had been done of the creature that they had killed which helped scientists conclude what everyone already knew. What they were looking at was not of a species known to man. Today, all of that was supposed to change.
Henry and Trudy had been finally been promised an explanation. They were scheduled to meet in private with an individual known as “G.” No one seemed to know of the man’s credentials, history, interest or authority but the phone call that they received promised answers which Henry and Trudy desperately awaited. The time came as they watched a human craft land outside in the open. Several figures exited the craft. Several soldiers accompanied a man dressed in a suit along with two men in lab coats. The man dressed in a suit lead the way, smiled widely at them and exclaimed “It’s so nice to finally meet you” with his arms held in the air in front of him. “You’ve got yourselves quite a story and I understand that you want answers,” he said.
“It’s not a story, sir. It was an experience,” Trudy said. “A horrible, terrifying and mind bending experience.” “Yes, I understand,” G said. “What if I told you that your experience isn’t unique? What if I told you that your experience is the latest chapter in our hunt for the very things that so rudely visited you and turned your sheep into mutant cannibals?”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel any better,” Henry said. “Yeah, it probably shouldn’t,” G agreed. “Here’s the deal. What you saw was a primitive but advanced alien race that hijacked another alien races’ ship and have been using it to visit human worlds. They seem to be utilizing the same portal technology that we use in Splitgate, which they probably stole from this other alien race as well. This particular race seems like a group of brutal space pirates. They don’t have a whole lot of their own, so they just go around stealing everyone else’s,” G finished.
“Hold on a second,” Henry said. “So you’re telling me that not only do aliens exist, but multiple races of aliens?” “Yes,” G said. “So here is what’s going to happen from here. We’re going to take your farm. You’re going to be paid for it. And we’re going to need that last remaining sheep of yours. The winner of the battle royale. The one that ate the other remaining sheep, has multiple heads and now stands about six feet tall, lost all of its wool, turned black, oozes a black substance and is emitting strange sounds? That one.”
“You can have that monstrosity but why should we give you our home,” Henry said. “Trudy and I have lived here our entire lives. This is everything to us.” “I understand,” G said. “But every time that our porker friends have visited a farm, they always come back. They’ve already been here several times. So do you want to stay here and wait for them to return or will you let us prepare to take them down?” “We’re not going anywhere,” Trudy said. “You can prepare to fight them when they come back. But we’re helping you do it. This is our ranch and no one takes it away,” Trudy said.
G smiled. “Very well. Make room because we have a lot of people and equipment en route. Our first planning session starts at 6:00am tomorrow.” Henry and Trudy watched as G and his cohorts boarded their ship and flew away. Henry put his arm around Trudy as they stood staring up at the sky, which they would never look at the same. Whatever came next, they would face it together, at the ranch. Their ranch.
This story is not official Splitgate lore but is inspired by Splitgate and the universe created by 1047 Games. The Splitgate universe has the potential to yield many great storylines with this one representing an original tale that I spun myself. Feel free to share your thoughts or your own Splitgate short stories!