For the past 24 hours the drone ships have been hounding our steps. They scan and patrol without rest, sometimes vaporizing people on the spot, sometimes engaging in pointless skirmishes with the military.
Now that the mothership had settled in over downtown, the drones have retreated to her and circle her bulk like orbiting moons. For the moment we can breathe.
The brave have ventured outside to see the spectacle with their own eyes rather than through the lens of a news camera. I guess we should be thankful. Our power is still on and our water still runs clear. Lines of communication are open, though bogged down by the sheer volume of traffic. It seems no one is sleeping.
Grandpa Jack and I remained indoors, inside the same house he lived in all his life, the same house in which he raised me. Many days we’ve walked out onto the deck together to look down on the converging rivers and the steel island that sprung up between them. From the mountainside we can see the river valley stretching out below us in all directions. Now the giant airship draws our attention. We share the view with others seeking refuge from the drones.
A young white couple in their early thirties and a little Hispanic girl, about five years old. I don’t think they’re related. Since the aliens arrived, those questions don’t matter much anymore. We’ve all become family.
We watch in silence as the airship and its clones hover over our beloved city. The couple thanks us and say they’re going to try to get back home before the drones come back. They’re taking the girl with them. I’m happy to hear that. I’ve got enough to handle here just watching out for myself and Grandpa Jack.
As they scurry down the street, a new development causes the news crews to speak in rapid voices and excited tones. A flurry of activity appears as a swarm of gnats around the drone ships. Gray dots speckle the blue sky.
They’re moving. Fast.
A news copter zooms in on the action. What appear to be suits of armor begin falling out of one end of each drone ship. Hundreds of them. Each freefalls a moment and then takes flight, their means of propulsion unknown.
The people downtown have gathered in the streets and on the rooftops, for what purpose I don’t know. Now the majority of them scatter. Some of the armored suits land amongst them. A camera pans on the action. Though it’s shaky, Grandpa Jack and I can make them out. They seem to stand about 8 to 10 feet tall. Their knees bend the wrong way. Their armor is made of that same gray, shimmering haze.
A few citizens open fire on the alien soldiers, accompanied by rogue military members. The rounds bounce off, harmlessly. Most of the armored soldiers hover a few feet off of the ground, merely wading through the crowds as if they were in search of something. Some of them fire a strange looking blaster on their forearm. Anyone caught in its light is vaporized. Now the panic really starts.
There are screams from outside our door. The alien soldiers have spread throughout the city. They scan the streets and houses, vaporizing some and ignoring others. The couple that had taken refuge in our home made it only a block or two away before the soldiers appeared. The man was vaporized before my eyes. The woman screams in incomprehensible agony.
An armored solider lands on its feet in front of the little girl. It looks down upon her with towering menace. The girl is frozen. The woman is screaming. I can only watch.
Grandpa Jack pushes me aside and wheels himself through the door way.
“Fight me, you bastards!” he screams, ratcheting his wheels as fast he can down the wooden ramp. The alien soldier looks from the little girl to the old man. Its face is featureless and smooth, but I get the sense that it gives the wheelchair bound veteran an inquisitive look. Then it bends its unnatural knees and scoops up the little girl, rocketing off towards the mothership before any of us can react.
Grandpa Jack had reached the end of the ramp before I could catch up to him and drag him back. By the time I reach his chair, it’s too late. Another alien solider appears from above, hooks him under the arms and hauls him off into the clear blue sky. I stand there a moment and watch their ascent, just one pair among many.
All around me my neighbors are being vaporized or culled like cattle. They are choosing those with specific qualities. They are harvesting us. For what I don’t know.
Grandpa Jack’s wheelchair lays toppled over in the grass, its free wheel still spinning. I’m left alone with chaos unfolding all around me. The only parent I’ve ever known is gone now. The only life I’ve ever lived has ended.
Today, I begin to find a way to fight back.