"Under Cover of Darkness" by Christopher Golden
This story comes from the collection "Tell My Sorrows To The Stones" written by Christopher Golden.
This story started out following a national guardsman, Carl Weston, waiting in a trench. We aren't sure what he is waiting for yet, but we find out he is "babysitting" one of the new guardsman, Brooksy. Soon we find out the National Guard is working with Border Patrol on the Mexican Border.
The Border Patrol had intel that there was a cartel running illegals across the borders and making them smuggle cocaine at the same time. A double bonus for the cartel. The Border Patrol setup an operation to stop this shipment of drugs and illegals crossing the border with the National Guard backing them up.
Soon illegals crossed the border from Mexico into the United States carrying backpacks full of drugs. Weston and Brooksy, along with the rest of the National Guard are just waiting for the go ahead on the radio to start their part of the operation.
Only something different happened. As the illegals crossed the borders, running right by the National Guardsmen in the trenches, screaming started to be heard all over the place. Weston wasn't sure what was going on. Still not sure what to do and not having received the go ahead on the radio he just sat waiting, listening to the blood-curdling screams.
Finally they get the go ahead over the radio. They take off out of the trenches. What they find is a cluster-fuck of people scared out of their minds. The illegals aren't sure what is going on, but they do know that they are being attacked by something and dropping like flies. They decided to turn around and try to flee back to Mexico. Only problem with that are the guards guarding the drugs. They start shooting people that are turning back towards Mexico.
More screams could be heard. Things are getting crazy and no one is really sure what is going on. While following one of the drugs guards Weston catches a glimpse of something unnatural. He couldn't be sure of what he saw, but it scared the hell out of him if what he saw was correct.
What follows is Weston and Brooksy trying to corral the illegals and drug guards while finding out what is lurking in the shadows at the Mexican Border. Will they make it out alive, or will they be the next victim?
This was a pretty good story. I liked using the setting at the Mexican border for the setting of this story. It added a depth of desolation to the story that would have been hard to accomplish using a different type of setting, or even another desert somewhere else.
The use of National Guardsmen to back up the DEA was a believable plot. That added to the realism of this story. The characters were well developed for the amount of time we had with them. You could really get a sense of Weston's and Brooksy's personalities.
About halfway through this story though it hit what the story was about. That is a way ruined the ending for me. I thought I already knew how it ended, so everything else I read up to the point of the end of the story was with me believing I knew the ending already. The sad truth for me on this story is that the story was exactly what I thought it to be.