The giant blades of the turbines cut through the air almost silently despite their looming, ominous presence. Katarina stared out the window at them as she drove along Highway 402. This stretch of the road seemed to be littered with futuristic-looking windmills. Kat could swear they had doubled in number since the last time she’d driven on this road. Then again, it had been nearly four years since she’d last traveled across the Blue Water Bridge to see her sister.
The weekend together had been lovely, with the weather being nice enough to enjoy the beach on Saturday, Kat reminisced as she drove. Suddenly, she remembered she’d seen a plethora of turbines in the distance from the beach where there hadn’t been any before. She’d thought it odd at the time but hadn’t given it further thought as a delightful black Labrador puppy came bounding along the sand to sniff and lick her toes. Once the adorable doggy had snatched her attention, she’d forgotten all about the wind farm across the lake.
But now Kat couldn’t stop thinking about these massive structures. She could swear she heard them speaking in low tones. While it was nonsense, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were watching her. She rolled down her window and peered out at one closer to the road. The sky grew dark, and the wind turbine bent over till it was face to face with Katarina. Its accusing eyes seemed to bore holes into her as it demanded that she mind her own business. Its blades whirled around faster until Kat felt she couldn’t breathe. They penetrated her car with a loud banging noise and twirled it around as everything went black.
“She’s awake,” the large steel and fiberglass pole hissed.
Kat shivered with fright. “Where am I? Who are you?”
Looking around, she noticed she was sitting in a field surrounded by nothing but wind turbines. Something was wrong, but before she could speak again, she felt one of the blades wrap around her and hoist her into the air until she was far above the ground. She wondered why the blades weren’t cutting into her skin. But before she could ask, a face appeared in the middle of the nacelle and reprimanded her.
“Listen here, miss! You’ve caused enough trouble already. We were standing in the field, minding our own business, until you came along and nearly exposed us to the public. We’ve been hiding in plain sight for years, and now our way of life is threatened. All because of a little red-haired busybody!”
Katarina was stunned and completely speechless, which was probably for the best as the talking turbine seemed quite cross. She’d be intrigued by their numbers, that’s all. She hadn’t done anything but look and wonder.
The turbine replied as if it could hear her thoughts. “Yes, first you look and wonder, then you start talking about why there are so many more of us than the last time you drove by our fields. Others will poke around, and we will be forced to leave our majestic, steel bodies behind and find another inanimate object to serve as our hosts!”
Kat inhaled sharply and found her voice. “You’re alive? How? Why?”
The turbine with large gray eyes looked intently into Kat’s blue ones and tilted its head. Speaking to the others, it said, “This one’s just curious, that’s all. She poses no threat; we should let her go.”
The others disagreed. “How can we trust that she won’t go to the authorities and give us away?”
“We could tell her how we infiltrated her world. If she repeats it to anyone, they will surely think she’s mad in the head.”
“That’s a clever idea. Yes, let’s tell our origin story to the human. We can always send one of us to watch her afterward to ensure she doesn’t speak of us.”
“There are no turbines where she lives; we’d have to send one of us who can invade a different host.”
“We’ve been changing hosts for centuries. That shouldn’t be a problem.”
Katarina ached everywhere. She just wanted to lie down and sleep, but the turbines were adamant now that she should learn their story.
“Open your eyes and listen!” the leader of the turbines shouted. “Then you will know our story and won’t need to look and wonder any longer.”
Kat nodded nervously. Although it was difficult to keep her eyes open, she silently ordered herself to pay attention.
“Thousands of years ago, our planet began to die. No one could explain why; we just knew that we needed to find somewhere else in the universe to live, or we’d all cease to exist. We sent many explorers to different worlds, hoping one of us would return with news of our alternate home.”
Kat wriggled around to get comfortable, but the metal monster only tightened its grip on her.
“Be still! I can’t help you if you struggle!”
Kat was confused. Help her? How was any of this going to help her? But she did as she was told. She didn’t relish being sliced into shreds by the monster’s wicked blades.
“We aren’t monsters!” he corrected her, reading her thoughts again. “We are shapeshifters from another world, extraterrestrial beings, or aliens. But we truly did not intend to be of any harm to your people. Unfortunately, the first of us who traveled to the planet you call Earth took on forms detrimental to humans.”
Another turbine with a kinder voice spoke up. “It's true; we haven’t always chosen our hosts wisely. In fact, there is a faction of rogue shapeshifters who remain embedded in weaponry such as guns and knives. But the majority of us chose to find a way to be useful to our new world. That’s why we became wind turbines. We help generate electricity for your world, and doing so keeps us alive.”
“We never use a living thing as a host, but we cannot claim not to be responsible for the death of many living organisms. We’ve been fire and ice, wind and rain, but we realized we needed something more stable to use as our hosts. We discovered that metal is the best choice, but earlier options put us at risk of being discovered. Household metals gave us no option to be ourselves when humans weren’t looking. That made us feel isolated and led to rage, hence that rogue faction I spoke of earlier. We needed to choose hosts that would be both sturdy and give us all the room we needed to go unnoticed.”
Weirdly, this made sense to Kat, but she kept quiet and merely nodded.
“Wind turbines are the perfect choice for us. That’s why there are so many of us! We can stand in the fields, produce electricity, and be pretty much left alone. Most people drive by and glance up at us without too much thought. But you heard us, somehow, and we couldn’t risk you telling others, so we had to capture you.”
A loud whoosh caused Kat to tremble. She worried about her fate.
“Yes, human, you should worry. We have to decide the best solution to the problem you have caused. Some of us think we should keep you as our pet and hide you from your kind. You could tell us stories and entertain us. Others think we should slice you into smithereens and feed your remains to the land. Still, others think we should simply allow you to go on your way unharmed and hope you say nothing for fear of being thought of as crazy by your peers.”
“What if you simply put me back in my car? I could drive away, and we can all pretend this never happened,” Katarina pleaded.
The leader of the turbines spoke in a grave voice. “It’s too late! The others know not of what they speak. There is no allowing you to leave. Putting you back in your car will mean certain death for you. Your car was smashed, and your human body is near death. You won’t survive the crash, despite the best efforts of the humans sent to save you.”
“I crashed?” she asked quietly.
“Yes, you were so busy looking at us that you stopped paying attention to the road and slammed into the speed limit sign,” the one who held her said.
“No, that’s not true!” Katarina shouted. “You did this! Your blades sliced into my car and destroyed it. You’re just monsters!”
The turbines looked awkwardly at each other as the human leaked water from her eyes and made horrible wailing sounds.
“What is the human doing?”
“She is crying. And she’s right. You should have left her alone. She would have driven off and thought her imagination was causing her to hear things. But you were impetuous and became the monster you told her you were not. You killed her human form,” the leader explained.
“Then I will finish the job and kill her spirit as well!”
Katarina felt the blades squeeze tightly around her, but to her surprise, they could not cut her.
The leader spoke sharply. “Enough! You will give the human to me.”
Begrudgingly, the cross turbine released his grip on the red-haired girl and handed her to the elder leader.
“How is it that the blades do not cut her?” several turbines asked.
The leader nodded wisely. “Because she is meant to be one of us.”
Sighing, the leader brought Kat closer to the ground to view her human self that had been mangled along with her car.
“Try as they might; these other humans cannot revive you.”
“But maybe it’s because my spirit needs to be in my body!” Kat protested.
“No,” the turbine leader shook his head. “I could put you back in your body and let you die forever. Or I can keep you as one of us.”
“How is that even possible?” Kat sniffled.
“One of the shapeshifters caused you mortal harm under my leadership. Therefore, it is my duty to merge with your spirit and become one with you.”
“I’ll be a shapeshifter?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes, and you’ll be in charge of all the others. Well, we will be, as you and I will become one. You will be known as the leader of the shapeshifters and Queen of the Turbines.”
Kat inhaled sharply and nodded her agreement. She was angry but clearly had no other choice. If she wanted to survive, she'd have to become the very thing that had destroyed her.
“You need to say the words. Tell me who you are now.”
“I am Katarina, Queen of the Turbines.”
“Indeed, you are.”
“I’m so sorry; we did everything we could to revive her,” the paramedic told the woman’s husband.
“Did she say anything before she died?” he asked, his eyes swimming with misery and sorrow.
The paramedic thought for a moment. He put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “She said to tell her husband that she loved him.”
The man cried silent tears and thanked the paramedic for all he’d done.
When the paramedic returned to his ambulance, his partner looked at him oddly. “Why didn’t you tell the man what his wife really said?”
The paramedic shrugged and said, “Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him she said she was Katarina, Queen of the Turbines. What kind of monster does that when the man’s wife was killed by a fallen turbine?”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But how the hell did the damn thing fall?”
“I don’t know. But let’s get out of here. I feel like all the turbines are looking at me, and it’s creeping me out.”
Katarina stood tall inside her steel pole with her fiberglass blades waving and spoke to the paramedic’s mind.