Tales of the Missing Travelers Part 3 “ETHAN”

9E178CE8-60C0-4410-BDAF-93FF5D9F5C0E

“Ethan”

I drove up the isolated road to the woods that surrounded the giant cellular tower just off the edge of the Cuyahoga. There was a code to the gate around the fencing to it.  

I should have been in bed sleeping off a hangover, but I got the call an hour ago to ensure that a new device was installed on the tower. I had the truck and the hope that maybe this would be a quick job, and I could go back to bed by noon.  

As I pulled into the empty lot and entered the code to the gate, I was awestruck by what I found. Two of the tower poles were in horrible disarray. How was I going to climb a five hundred foot tower and attach a device to the very top of the tower that was unstable?

“Shit,” I muttered to myself as I looked upwards towards the top. At least it was a bright sunny morning; I thought to myself as I began unloading my equipment from my truck. I approached the tower, hoping that something could still be done. I didn’t have a crane ladder tall enough to get to the top. It appeared I was going to need help.

I called the dispatcher Christine as soon as I realized this was a job for more than one person.  

“Hello, Ethan, how is it going?” Christine asked me cheerfully.

“Not good, I’m afraid. I am going to need help repairing the tower poles.

“That is impossible.”Christine sighed.  

“Why?” I asked irritated.

“There was a bad storm last night in Dublin, Ohio, and they had to send a bunch of men to repair some of the satellites on other towers. If you can try to attach at least that device, it is crucial right now that it is done today.”

“Do I need to call the safety regulation board? I could get seriously injured or worse, trying to get up there. Where’s Jim?”

“Oh, he is out of the office today,” Christine said, talking away from the phone.

“I know better than that. Tell that bastard he needs to get his lazy ass down here to help me today, or this is going to be the last job I do for you all.” By now, I was angry, and I knew Jim was there. He was the type of guy that when it came to real work, he’d instead leave it up to someone else.  

I heard Christine sigh again. “Ethan, please, it is imperative you put that device on to that tower any way you can. It has to be done by sundown.”

“Why? Who is paying for this tower anyway?”

“The phone company.”

“Which one?” I asked angrily.

“It is a private company out of New Mexico. That is all I know.”

“Put Jim on the phone.”

“He isn’t here.”

“Put Jim on the phone, Christine.”

I heard her in the background. 

“Listen here; don’t be a prick. Just get the damn job done, Ethan.” Jim gruffly said into the phone.

“I knew your fat ass was there. Do you have any idea how much of a lawsuit you are going to have on your hands if I fall off this tower?”

“We are all going to be out of a job if this isn’t done today, Ethan. Just do me a favor and do as much as you can to repair the poles, and I will send Steve out there when he finishes the job in Lake.”  

It was the first time Jim had ever compromised with me. It wasn’t like him. I had made that lawsuit threat hundreds of times. He always knew I was blowing smoke up his ass to get my way, so why was Jim so agreeable now?  

“Fine,” I sighed “What time will that be exactly?”

“He should be done by one. I’ll let him know.” 

I hung up the phone and looked up at the tower. I walked towards it and assessed the damage. Two of the poles looked like they had been bitten by something. They were bent toward the bottom on the left two sides. I inspected the damage and took out my phone, snapping a photo. I logged the picture in my surface pro and then wrote up a description of the damage for later. I took a deep breath and groaned as I pulled out my safety gear.

The tower itself was small in comparison to others I had worked on. Some of the towers in downtown Cleveland were as tall as the empire state building. Being at the top of a tower and see fifty or sixty miles in every direction was exhilarating. I thought of the things I had seen in my life were nothing compared to having the vision of an eagle in those moments working in the sky.  

I assessed the damage at the bottom of the two poles that seemed to be a bit crooked and from the naked eye appeared to have been bitten into them.

As I was trying to figure out what tool I was going to need, a vehicle pulled in behind me. I stopped rummaging through my bag of tools and turned to see a young, long-haired young man in a truck with the National Park symbol on the side of the truck.

I stopped and looked at him almost irritated. Then he smiled at me and waved.

“Hi, how is it going this morning?”

“Okay, is something wrong?”

“Not exactly, by any chance, did you see anything strange this morning?”

I was curious about his questioning. “Depends on what you mean.”

“I saw something this morning, an animal. I was called in to respond to it, and I figured maybe you had seen it.”

“Oh, no, but something tore into the poles here. It looks like something bit right into them, bending them.”

“You aren’t from around here, are you?” the kid asked me from nowhere. I felt like I was being interrogated, and I had work to do.  

“Not if I can help it, next question,” I joked sarcastically.

He laughed, “I’m Butch. I work for the National Park.”

“I’m Ethan, trying to work,” I said, smirking at this smart ass kid. I liked him; he reminded me of myself at that age-long hair, shitty attitude, and annoyed at the world. 

“We had some sightings of a strange dog or something. I just saw if you had seen anything run through here in case it was rabid.”

Butch was lying to me about why he was asking. I didn’t care about rabid dogs because I needed to get this device hung up today.

“I haven’t seen anything,” I said. ” I have to get to the top of that tower to work, but something did some damage to the poles. Like someone took a saw to them.” I said truthfully.

Butch walked over to the tower poles that I pointed out and eyed them. He was a young guy, and when I saw the back of his shirt, it said MAINTENANCE. I knew then he was lying about being a park ranger.  

“I see the marks. Do you mind if I take some photos and look at the markings?”

I shook my head and watched him go to work with his cellphone, and he took that tape out you see on one of those shows like CSI and seemed to be collecting evidence. I looked at him, puzzled while he went to work.

When he was done, he walked back over to me and smiled. “You were telling me you got to get up that tower by yourself? Do you need me to wait here while you go up there just to make sure that if you fall, there is someone to call for help?”

Butch was dead serious, and I smiled at him. “No, thanks. I have some help coming in an hour or so.” I knew it was a damn lie. I just needed to get what I could do in case my so-called help never came, and I worked better alone.

“Okay, if you need anything, call this number. It’s my cell number, and I will be at the Helltown Cafe just around the corner if you need anything. It is almost my lunchtime, and I go there every day around this time.” Butch said, handing a card with his name.

I took it and watched him drive away. I don’t know why he wanted to take those photos of the damage. It was as though he had his suspicions of what made those markings. Maybe I was a damn fool for not taking him up on his offer to help me.  

I grabbed the rest of my safety gear and looked up at the tower as I hooked the equipment and the bag to my waist. It hung behind me so that I wouldn’t lose my balance. I grabbed a ladder, and then I remembered the device I had to hook to the tower.

I went back to my truck and pulled out a small black cube from a cardboard box that said CHELSEA ONE. On all six sides, it had a round yellow circle. It looked like a Bluetooth speaker and was relatively light in weight. It only had a remote with several screws and no directions as to what it was going to be used for once I placed it at the top of the tower.  

I finished preparing myself to get up the tower as the time was getting later by the second. I was no longer hopeful that Jim was even sending Steve. I was sure he was telling me that to shut me up. I should have gotten a text from Steve by now to let me know he had been dispatched.

As I got onto the ladder to get on top of the base of the tower, I felt it vibrate. At first, I didn’t think much of it. I just figured that it was the sound of my boots echoing as they stomped up the bottom of the tower poles. When I got about twenty feet into the air, I felt the vibration again.  

This time it felt like something was moving me from side to side. I looked down at the two poles that had been damaged, and they were not swaying, so I knew the tower was not swaying. There was plenty of support to keep the tower and me from toppling over. The vibration seemed to get worse the closer to the top I got. At roughly thirty feet of the five hundred feet, I had to climb it got worse. I had no choice but to look upwards. That is when I saw something strange. I looked around to see a perfectly sunny sky, but when I looked above the Cell Tower, there was a circular black cloud that seemed to hover over me like bad luck.  

The breeze blew, and I heard birds in the distance. I ignored the cloud and continued to climb. That is when I felt the water drops.

You had to be joking. I looked up at the top of the tower, and the cloud now expanded into what looked like a thunderstorm. There were hints of lightning flashing, and at that moment, I felt the sting of something sharp hitting the pole I was attached.

It was a jolt of electricity in the air, and it caused me to slip, but luckily I was hooked onto the pole above me. I looked around, and there was something wrong suddenly, it was as though the sun was blocked out every mile the eyes could see. I knew there was an urgency to the CHELSEA ONE device, so I kept going until I got closer to the top of the tower. I climbed as close as I could get to the tower unclicking my safety gear one clip at a time to the pole legs that acted as both a stepping ladder and a safety measure for our clips to hold the wires connected to our bodies to keep us in place. When I got to the top, there was a buzzing noise coming from the device in my bag. I pulled out the CHELSEA ONE device and hooked it up against the antennae at the top of the cell tower. I drilled it into place and then turned it using a remote control that was provided with it. It began to get hot to the touch, and given the fact no real instructions provided to me, I let it go and made sure it was secure on all sides. I heard thunder again, and now it seemed to have lightning zeroing in on the tall tower I was now hanging.  

I prepared myself to go back down the tower. I shimmied myself in place and began the descent. As I moved down one step at a time, which seemed to take forever, I slowly began to realize that something was causing a buzzing in my ears. I looked upward toward the top of the tower. I was a hundred feet or so down from the top, and that is when I saw a yellow beacon pulsating from the top of the tower. As I did, I tried not to stop and stare from where I was. Those black clouds seemed to be nearing the pole and getting darker by the second.   

I quickly connected and unconnected my clips to get down the tower, and soon I was nearly ten feet from the bottom when lightning struck the pole, causing me to jump down from where I was in place. Part of the safety gear was still connected to the tower, and I unhooked from myself as I ran from the tower. It began to hail and hard. The pieces seemed to get bigger by the second, and I moved quickly towards my truck.

My worst thought was that I would get stuck on the tower during a tornado. It had to be something like that, why else had it gotten so dark so quickly. I had not even thought about looking at the weather this morning. Jack Daniels will do that to you. 

I felt another vibration, this time from the cell phone in my back pocket.

I promptly answered it and went to my truck as the wind was picking up.

I didn’t recognize the caller, but I answered, thinking it may be Jim or Steve calling.

“Ethan here.” 

“Ethan?”

“YES THIS IS ETHAN,” I said in a tone that indicated to the person on the other end of the phone I was quickly losing patience and that they better speak up now.

There was the sound of a man’s voice.

“Ethan, it’s Steve! I am stuck in traffic. There is some flooding, but I will be there as soon as I can.”

I was about to respond to Steve when a giant ball of hail fell on top of my truck’s windshield.

It took me by surprise, and then I quickly realized that I needed to get the hell out of there. I went to start my car, and I turned on the headlights when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.

A little girl was standing in front of my car.

There was so much rain; I couldn’t make out who it was. What on earth was a child doing out here? I looked behind the little girl, and there was that same yellow light from the CHELSEA ONE at the top of the tower. It was odd as if the CHELSEA ONE device was controlling everything around me. Maybe I was crazy.  

Then I had a thought.  I can’t see the little girl if I could only get a good look at her. 

The storm seemed to swirl around her, and all at once, I could see her.  

My mouth dropped open as I looked at her in her white nightgown and stringy dark blonde hair. She lifted her hand holding it out to me. Tears streamed from my eyes.  How was this possible? The ghost of my baby girl stood in front of my truck.

She had lost her life to leukemia seven years ago at only eight years old. I could see her cherub cheeks now rosy as they were then. Her face was pale still, and her lips looked almost purple as the black clouds swirled behind her.  

Tree branches flew past my truck and swirled around her, never touching her.   

I opened the door to my truck, and as I did, the door to my truck nearly hit me in the face. I had to hold my arms over my face to keep debris from hitting my face and eyes.

I slowly walked towards her, and when I approached her, I heard her mouth something. 

“What is it?” I asked her.

“It’s all your fault,” Janey whispered.

“No,” I said, reaching out to grab her by the arm, but as I did, lightning struck the ground where I stood. In a blink of an eye, she disappeared.

Then I looked up at the top of the tower, and I could see the yellow beacon shoot it’s rays towards the sky. In the distance appeared a green, circular luminescent light above the tower. It merged with the yellow light from the CHELSEA ONE, and then one large flash of light appeared like a beam shooting down from the heavens. 

It was as if the CHELSEA ONE was being given a charge, in the same way, you have to plug in your cell phone when you get it to charge it up. Then I collapsed to the ground from the surge of the light hitting the ground.

Then the light went out, and the debris settled as the sky was no longer black from the storm; instead, it was now back to bright blue and not a cloud in the sky. I looked around and had to blink a few times to assess what had just happened. 

There were no longer tree branches scattered, and the glass on my windshield wasn’t cracked anymore. Then I looked at the top of the tower. There was no longer any bright yellow beacon coming from it.  

I thought about the device that had to be attached in such a rush, according to Jim. I ran back to my truck and pulled out the box it came in. The box had a warning on the side of it in fine print that you nearly needed a magnifying glass to read it. 

HANDLE WITH GLOVES INCLUDED INSIDE. MAY CAUSE HALLUCINATIONS, NAUSEA, HEADACHES, OR ACUTE STOMACH PAIN. QUESTIONS CALL DULCE LABORATORIES AT 1-555-888-3000.

What the hell was this thing? I looked at the box, pulling out white gloves that appeared to be made of some sort of odd screen material.

I was pissed now, realizing that whatever this thing was, it caused hallucinations. Janey was not there, and neither was the storm. It occurred to me these were fears I had inside me that only seemed to grow with time and given life by that CHELSEA ONE thing.

I got into my truck and pulled away. I went down the long road, and when I got to the end of the drive, something jumped out in front of me.

Before I got a good look at it, it was already gone into the woods.  

I pulled out that card and looked at it. I saw Butch’s name and phone number on it, but then I decided I had had enough of the weird shit for the day and drove home, leaving Helltown behind.

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