The F-16s roared through the air while a procession of tanks and Jeeps crawled up Interstate 95 below them. One plane dipped low over the interstate and Boomer’s voice came over the radio.
“Got your ears on, Hoss? How about we wake up the ground pounders?”
“Roger that, Boomer.” Hoss dropped down behind him. They pushed the planes up to Mach I and smiled while they imagined people jumping from the sonic boom.
“HQ’ll have your ass for that,” Shag said.
“Now tell me again,” Hoss cut in. “Why can’t they get a tank into Manhattan?”
“Communication breakdown,” Shag replied. “They get to the Hudson River and then no one seems to be able to function anymore.”
“Wrong,” Hoss said. “They can’t get a tank into Manhattan because New York decided they had enough pansies on the ground already.”
“Nice,” Boomer said.
“Breaker breaker,” the squad commander interjected. “Real cute, boys. Now quit grab-assing around out there.”
“Roger that,” Boomer said laughing. “No grab-assing here, sir.
“Official word from the Pentagon is this thing emits some kind of frequency that interferes with communication,” the squad commander said. “You’ll likely be flying dark.”
“But I like it with the lights on,” Hoss said.
“So does your boyfriend,” Boomer said.
The squad commander ignored them. “Go in hot and hit it hard.”
“That’s what she said.”
“Civilians?” Shag asked.
“Collateral damage is expected and justifiable.”
“Lima Charlie,” they replied. “Roger Wilco.”
The spires of New York were now visible and they could already see the thing, black and hulking on top of the Empire State Building.
“What in the hell?” Boomer asked.
“This just in,” Hoss said, “Boomer’s mother vacationing in New York. And it looks like she got into a fight with the Statue of Liberty.”
“Looks like she kicked its ass too.”
They banked right over Jamaica Bay and circled the city.
“That thing is three hundred feet tall,” Shag said. “Gotta be.”
“Let’s see if it likes Sidewinders,” Hoss said. They shot out over Newark and made a wide right turn, crossing the Hudson River again and coming in low over Yankee Stadium.
Boomer wanted to say something funny about catching a ballgame but found himself unable. He wanted to fire the missiles and blast the creature from its perch, but his hands wouldn’t comply. It seemed as though the creature was the entire world now. It was in his head, not because it wanted to be, but because it was the only thing that mattered anymore. He felt the same sort of horror that someone who is completely paralyzed might feel if a giant spider were crawling up their legs toward their face. His hands fell from the controls and he slumped in his seat, overcome by terrible alien visions.
The F-16s screamed over Central Park, low enough to rustle the trees now. Boomer watched mindlessly as Shag slammed into a hotel and Hoss flew into Trump Tower so hard that his jet blew out the other side in ball of fire and glass. The upper half of the tower buckled and fell down onto the Crown Building, crushing it like a crystal hammer.
He was tearing down 5th Avenue now just feet above the cars and trucks that littered the street like toys abandoned by a child called off to dinner. His head rolled back and he could see the thing directly above him, crouching still like some monstrous statue save for the writhing tentacles, and then he collided with the Flatiron Building at five hundred miles an hour.
Neither the thing nor the chanting worshipers paid the screaming jets or fiery explosions any mind.
“ia! ia! Cthulhu!” they chanted. “ia! ia! Cthulhu!”
The thing turned its tentacled head westward. It bleated its terrible call once more and crouched down, crushing glass and concrete with its clawed fingers before leaping from the summit. The force of its legs destroyed the upper floors and sent them raining down where they obliterated the worshipers chanting below. The thing circled the city once, blasting the air with its horrific cry, and then flapped west over the Hudson River.