They arrived without warning, late in the year 2020. The media had named it “The Year of Hindsight.” How fitting that I’m now looking back on the arrival after all these long years.
I can still see that day clearly, same as any human who lived through it and still breathes today. That strange ship entering our atmosphere, an image burned into our memories. It was our Hindenburg, our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11.
The strangeness of it! It appeared as a massive silver swarm one moment, shifting rapidly to a smoothness of polished metal and dark glass the next. The way it eased itself through our sky, swelling, shifting, shimmering into view. The world stared in awe for those early moments. Then the disastrous first contact shook us out of our reverie.
The silver behemoth hung in the sky, shimmering in the daylight as if covered in a haze. It had settled over the once-great city of New York, then a bustling metropolis, still populated by millions of us, millions of human lives. The ship hovered there with no observable means of support or propulsion. Every new observation of the ship gave rise to a hundred questions which spawned a million more.
The world itself seemed to stop, waiting for some sign from the alien ship. Most had stopped sleeping out of excitement or out of fear. They chose, instead, to watch the 24 hour news coverage of the newly arrived visitors. The US government had declared a no-fly zone all around the UFO, so news helicopters hovered at the restricted border, landing only to refuel and change pilots. Billions of eyes around the world watched as a solitary army helicopter broke through the invisible barrier and approached the ship. We watched and waited for one side or the other, the humans or the aliens, to blink. We blinked first.
I remember it as if it happened this very morning. Both ships hovering there in relative silence. The human ship was a whirring gnat of gunmetal blades and glistening warheads, the alien vessel a stoic leviathan, pulsing with that strange swarming shimmer. Even the media broadcasters fell silent, waiting for a resolution, for a sign, waiting to breathe.
A section of the alien ship bulged and rippled towards the presumed front of the craft. It broke free from the mothership, a pixilated cloud racing forward in the open air. It slammed into the helicopter.
There was no fireball, no dramatic explosion. The human ship simply…disintegrated.
No, that’s not the right word. Dissociated, is more like it. The helicopter fell apart. Every screw, nut, bolt and rivet failed, falling back to Earth in separate pieces. Even the weapons fell dismantled in midair, the rockets and explosives separating into harmless components. It was as if the ship had never been built, but was rather a floating box of parts now turned upside down.
The pilots, apparently unharmed and still quite whole, fell to Earth along with the dismantled metal bird. Their parachutes opened, blessedly intact and functional. The alien ship remained unresponsive after its momentary show of strength.
As soon as the helicopter’s pilots hit the good earth, all Hell broke loose. All excitement turned to fear, demanded a swift response, a protective reaction. The first shot fired triggered a war, a change of the way we lived our daily lives. Every citizen became a soldier for the army of the Earth. Borders were erased, differences set aside. Their arrival changed the way we viewed our daily lives, changed the very definition of the word ‘tomorrow.’ We began to live each day by the hour, not knowing if we’d survive to see the next sunrise.
I’m writing this journal to provide a record of the invasion. I’m not sure how much of our news archives still exist. Someone needs to know our history. Someone needs to study our struggle. This is a tale of the first invasion between worlds. This is a story of how we humans fought to take back our Earth.
My name is John Rysk, Captain of the Roughnecks, and this is the diary of my death.