Monday, December 1, 2014

Bad Luck

Finished NaNoWriMo.  Now I need to finish the novel, probably another 10k words or so.  Should be Thursday if I can keep the NaNo pace up.  Also ran a 5k with my family.  It’s been 17 years since I ran in an organized race and this one was very crowded.  It was a little frustrating at first but after about ½ a mile the pack sort of settled and then we spent the rest of the time passing people.  That felt pretty good.

Thought I’d try something different for today’s story.

Bad Luck
by Jon Stark
December, 2014; about 700 words

The Squids came about five years ago, best we can figure.  Bounced off Mars and smashed into the moon.  Broke it and their ship.  Of course at the time we thought they did it on purpose and all those smaller ships descending on us were attack craft.

It didn’t help that they took out a U.S. carrier group somewhere in the North Atlantic.  Or that one of them burned into Beijing.  Sort of galvanized our resistance, global cooperation kind of thing.  It took two years and five billion people to beat them.  Worst luck we ever had.  As a race.  Squids killed clean.

Thing we didn’t know in time was that the Squids weren’t invading – those little ships were lifeboats and they were running.  Didn’t know that until the Cha’ah showed up.  We were trying to put things back together, one hand on the wall and the other on our extraterrestrial blast rifles so to speak, always with an eye overhead.  Wondering when round two was going to start.

We didn’t know there wouldn’t be a round two, that we’d destroyed the last of the Squids.  Ironic.  The Cha’ah pulled Pluto into Neptune’s orbit and then recycled it into a forward operating base.  They put an Illuminator in orbit around Jupiter and focused the ten jiggawatt beam on earth.  You want night?  Go underground.  There’s not a dark place left on our planet.  Seasons were messed up, clocks were already fried, we sort of lost track of when we were.

The Squids were NBA sized -- tall aliens with tentacles and beaks – but they had faces and spoke.  They wore suits and carried their weapons.  And we could kill them.  The Cha’ah are bugs.  Big, nasty, spidery things -- all legs and hair and eyeballs.  They’ve got these antennae things that sort of flop around and they chatter.  Clicks and whirs all the time.  They sound like tap dancers or drill sergeants when they walk on our ruined streets, clattering on claws and they swarm everywhere and I’ll tell you, doesn’t matter how you feel about spiders, they are terrifying.

Our weapons didn’t seem to touch them.  Worse, the best weapons we had were captured from the Squids and they had been beaten soundly by the Cha’ah.  You know how in the movies when the zombies or vampires or aliens showed up there was a guy, either one of the heroes or somebody they found, that knew how to kill the evil?  The guy who would say, “Garlic doesn’t work on them.  But Holy water does.”  Well, that guy hasn’t shown up.  Not here.

And if there’s a secret base somewhere with a captured Cha’ah ship that we’re reverse engineering, nobody has told me.  Nukes can’t stop them.  The President of the United States leading a fighter attack can’t stop them.  The unbreakable human spirit can’t stop them.  Even the common cold seems to be powerless against them.

They just march over us.  They suck the life out of you if they touch you.  They call down fire from orbital systems if you run from them.  We’re out of food.  There’s disease we can’t cure.  The oceans have nearly boiled away.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to make it even if we beat them back.

Not that there’s any chance of that.  We’ve been running and hiding and they just keep coming like a line of tanks advancing through the desert.  We run from hole to hole but none of them are deep enough.  There was one place -- might have been Colorado but who knows – where we hooked up with a military unit for a few days.  They had a Colonel who told us that he’d heard about somebody standing against the Cha’ah.  Somewhere in Europe.  Albania or Romania or something.  A group came out of the mountains and when the aliens attacked they were beaten by a man who used their own power against them.  Sounds too good to be true.

Sounds like a dying man grasping at straws to keep up the morale of his troops.  They fought well, when the bugs dropped in on us.  Left us wandering again.  But now we’re wandering east.  It’s a long walk to Moldova but that’s good.  A man needs direction, some sort of purpose, to keep going.  To get up in the morning and not quit.  To fight.

And who knows?  Maybe there is a secret base somewhere.  Or a man that has power against the scourge destroying the world.

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