It was the most gorgeous early summers day, the kind of day you think back to at the cold end of November, one Monday morning as you shudder to the bathroom and dread the end of the shower. The sun was bright but with just enough of the last of springs breath on the gentle breeze, you could almost smell the flowers as you brushed by. As he walked to the pub for lunch and the football he pondered about this summer coming, if today was anything to go by it might just be a stunner, World Cup year, as well. He imagined BBQ’s and football, beer and disappointment, and he allowed himself a little chuckle, more so when he thought this was the only time of year that it was good to be German.
John, however, was not German or had any affiliation to the German state. He mused that if you were to cut him in to slices it would say ‘English’ on every slice. World cups always brought every emotion, hope, joy, excitement and the inevitable disappointment and shame. He was in a perfect frame of mind to get absolutely hammered today, this childlike excitement gripped his entire being, today he thought……
“I fucking love life, fucking love my life, happy fucking days”
John entered the pub, that familiar smell, yeasty beers, high octane spirits and the unmistakable twaty laugh of his mate Pete.
As he dragged himself out of bed on a gloomy Sunday morning, John remembered just enough to note that he had indeed got hammered the day before, no clear memories and a banging headache were a good indicator as well. The first slug of super charged coffee set the world slightly straighter, he felt a pang of shame about the whiskey in his coffee, he was single, lived alone and made up his own rules, so why a pang of shame was always a mystery to him, no one knew, no one would have cared, but still its there. It’s lunch time somewhere in the world, and poured him self a generous chaser to go with his coffee, with a “fuck it” thrown in for good measure.
He settled down in front of sky sports and relaxed in to his hangover. Sometime later he was woken by the kick off of the first live game of the day, he had drifted off for a while, and now felt almost human. The coffee and chaser had fixed him, now all he had to do was keep it topped up. While he waited for his coffee to brew, he stepped out on to his 8th floor apartments balcony, and gazed across the river Thames towards the City of London. The breeze from yesterdays was a sharp wind and the first shards of rain splashed against his forehead like icicles, rolling down to his brows in a cold stream, the clouds were as black as he had ever seen, almost as if he were viewing real black for the very first time, ultra high definition black, the electricity rolled and crackled behind its dark mass, and John noticed every single hair on his body stood to attention and seemed to spark and crackle with static. Part in fear and part to keep the weather out John came inside, closing and locking the french doors, as if locking them will keep him safe. Now, John likes thunderstorms as much as the next man, but there was something sinister about this one. He shook that daft idea out of his head, sunk the remainder of his chaser, and poured another, he was getting a good buzz on now, he thought.
Through the rolling thunder and flashes of lightening, John watched the two live games on sky with an ever worsening picture, static images and electrical snow. The usual comforting smell of brimstone brought about by the storm was now so pungent it was starting to sting his eyes. In spite of this, during one prolonged bout of static picture, he ventured nervously out on to his balcony again, the city now shrouded from view by the heaviest mist or fog he had ever seen, anywhere. The air was more acidic, he noticed as he instinctively tried to grasp a breath of fresh air. He reached in to the pocket of his shabby dressing gown for his mobile, see if any of his mates knew what was going on, this was not normal weather. Then the scream of modern life “No bloody signal” not even an internet signal to be found, cant even message them, he plopped the mobile back in his pocket with all the anger he dared so as not to damage the phone. He felt an unease at just how isolated he now felt, this time yesterday he had the world at his finger tips, today, even Sky telly had deserted him.
In all his years he had never known a storm to rage on so long, and as the darkness descended he could see various fires in the mist and some a little closer, he guessed at about 1000 meters before for visibility’s was closed off. Sundays were normally quiet, but there did not seem to be a soul on the streets below, there were various sirens breaking the silence, a few more than was normal for a Sunday evening. He closed the french doors again, the air inside was still a little fresher than that outside. He settled back down in his comfy chair, cold with damp sweat, and he flicked on his wireless speaker and played a soothing playlist. He must have dropped off at some point and was awoken abruptly by shouting and urgent hammering on his front door. Grabbing the biggest knife from the rack he approached his front door, totally weirded out by now his mind was racing with a million different ways he may end up dead following opening the door, he adjusted his grip on the knife over and over again, reaching for the door latch the predominant voice in his head was screaming “RUN”, and a little voice saying hide under the bed, then milliseconds before he touched the latch, he heard the unmistakable laugh of Pete. Upon opening the door the gang were all there, just as bemused as John, but they had all got together as communications were down, and they were all carrying booze and a Chinese takeaway.
During the impromptu meal, Richard had said he couldn’t even get his car started, no sign of life when he turned the ignition, another story from Dave was that he had no power all day, or signal on his phone and Pete told of the fire in the tower block next to his after it took a direct hit from a bolt of lightening, he said the strike had shaken the surrounding area and blown a number of windows in his block. Pete was the first to seek out the company of a friends, and he and David had organised the get together. The phrase “it’s the end of the fucking world” was chucked in to the melting pot of ideas, as well as global warming, judgement day (that from the groups atheist), but none would even utter this as a joke what the weather was all about. They cleared away the empty food debris and retired to the balcony, John had an idea that this was the reason for the get together had reached the final destination at his door, it was as good as ringside seats on his balcony. He never complained about it, he didn’t want the next few hours to be the target of the level of abuse a gang of mates can lay on you, plenty of booze, and he could put up with it. The next few hours just got darker, street lamps flickered on and off at will, and now there was just the thunder as the only sound, all four were mesmerised, there was the occasional out burst of conversation, but this was due more to the booze and fine cannabis, than being lost for anything to talk about. In a moment of silence, the kind of silence you feel just cannot be broken, almost like being covered in a soundless blanket, all of a sudden as opposed to the deepest black of night, the light suddenly “switched” on, the brightest white light that had ever been seen, you could smell the burning of exposed skin and corneas alike. Tables, chairs and drinks flew in all directions as blind and drunk bodies scramble for the safety of the flat. Doors slammed shut and blinds pulled down, they tried to find the words to explain what had just happened, nothing spewed forth except for extreme heavy breathing.
This seemed to go on endlessly, and john felt his vocabulary was not extensive enough to find the adequate words to fully convey the events in any justice. After what had seemed a lifetime, in truth just a few minutes, Dave broke the silence, with a simple “Fuck my arse with a twelve inch rubber cock”, this brought forth hysterical laughter from the assembled group. It had broken the tension, and brought them all down to reality. Vision was returning slowly to the ensemble, though partially covered by the balcony above, seemed to have offered a from of protection from this light, there were one or two small but angry burns to each of them, Pete, who was in the open to a certain extent had been saved by his new found love of a Kangol flat cap, the hat was crusty and singed, but apart from a long thin burn to the side of his face, he was unscathed, Dave had burned the back of his hand which had been in the open resting on the rail, Johns ear had seen better days and Richard brow was medium rare. John had a well stocked medicine cabinet, a throw back to his mothers kit from his childhood, then the next cabinet to be raided was the liquor cabinet, which John always kept well stocked as also.
They sat around in the lounge, occasionally casting a glance back to the shuttered window, and all in turn thought to themselves that it was getting dimmer, but all thought this to be a trick of the mind, and all knew that there was a little damage to their optics. Richard spoke first, but not in the strong confident way they had all come to know him, he put on the table that he could still see a spot in his vision in each eye, and almost a liquidness to his vision as if he were looking through a window in a rain storm, and asked if anyone had an idea of what had happened. Each in turn, indicated similar effect to their vision to a greater or lesser degree, John had been wearing sunglasses all day, due to the hammering of his hangover, life just needed to be a shade or two darker. His was almost unaffected, hence his ability to patch up his crew, Pete had his back to it but had instinctively glanced around and had just the black spot on each eye, while Dave had the same as Richard, no one ventured forth an explanation, the TV did nothing when switched on, just a black screen, the radio was just static and the mobile phones showed no internet or signal. For an evening that had ended super bright, they were all in the dark as to what was happening. All were in agreement that a glance through the blinds was a particularly bad idea, and no one was willing to risk it.
All at once there was a hum, at first it was the kind of hum that you strain your ears trying to hear, then the reverberation like a thousand wasp in a jar, then as it grew louder you could swear it was rattling your teeth, and still you wondered if your ears were just imagining a sound to fit the vibrations you could feel, you could hear the bricks rattling free of their cement binding, you could see the wall paper undulating with the wall beneath. Terrified that this vibration would shake this building to dust, they through to decamp down to the basement car park, using the stairs, obviously, the lift was never mentioned. John led the way, the only one with near perfect vision, he led the others down the stairs like a primary school teacher leading her charges across the road. It was the only time that John had wished he live on a lower floor, tumbling down stairs, unable in the gloom with poor sight to see each step, less haste more speed he could hear his mother saying to him on many occasions during his life. They had been sitting by candle light in the flat and this was Johns only illumination for his task, trying to go quick enough to calm his urgency, but slow enough to keep the candle alight, he guessed no one had grabbed the lighter, but would not add that to the trepidation that they all felt, he could sense they were just one small hitch from total hysteria.
“When will these fucking stairs ever come to an end, its like running a pissing marathon” Shouted a voice from the back of the crocodile, Richard though it was Dave, and a nervous giggle was let out by all. Eventually the smell of combustible fuels, rubber, exhaust fumes and urine came wafting on a gentle breeze, John thought that it had be the most wonderful thing he had smelt all day, coming down stairs he could swear he could feel the grains of aerosolised plaster and cements tickling past his Adam’s apple.
Once on to the first floor of the car park, Pete looked towards the exit ramp, to see super bright white light reflecting of the wall. The next thing to discuss was on everyone’s lips, if the block comes down where is the safest place to shelter. Outside was out of the question as Pete explained to them, they could all make out the light “at the end of the tunnel” which cause a girly giggle. Richard was the next to chirp up,
“Hey Pete, hows your skinning up these days?”
“Prefect for this situation” he retorted with a laugh.
He had never been able to skin up like Richard, it was an art form, just to watch his mixing and rolling, Pete had always been confused as how he managed to find so much cardboard to make a roach with, yet never carried a torn up packet of Rizla. Peters rolling skills were like a game of Russian roulette, never knowing who was going to be the victim to be showered in burning embers when it finally fell apart. Trust Richard to grab the drug utensils and bud before running for his life, and just to calm his nerve he asks………..
“You got a lighter?”
“What kinda prick would pick up everything needed for a joint, except something to light it with, its like being in a public bog with no paper for you to do the paperwork, knobhead” Richard cracked back at him laced with his lovely turn of phrase and pet name, and Peters mind goes back to the day for some reason or another that Richard had told him he was as much use as a cock flavoured lollipop, and he let out a laugh he only just managed to suppress to a snort. He shared the memory with his mates and the fell about, in the middle of all this chaos there they all were laughing until the tears stung their eyes, and Pete was sure there was a snot bubble or two in there as well for good measure.
Pete picked up the drug paraphernalia, and noticed that both Richard and John had two bottles of spirits in their pockets, and he just could not fathom when they had the time to be so prepared. Pete did his best to roll four strong and well constructed spliffs, but only time would tell if he had been successful in this endeavour. They sat an allowed themselves five minutes to let the stone take hold, and then began brain storming, totally unaware of the approaching footsteps. Half a dozen of Johns neighbours had come down stairs for a little safety, it took the boys by surprise, and out of habit hid the joints and wafted at the smoke as if to make its odour disappear. John knew some of them by sight, none by name. What had come from the haze fuelled brain storming was to go down a floor, for a little more protection, until the light had died down and the incessant reverberation had stopped, each of the six mew members had stories, a young blonde, who was a regular withdrawal from Johns wank bank, called Jane, she had just missed the closing lift doors before the power died, there were, she said, at a guess 12-15 people now stuck between floors. John came over all clammy at the though of that many people in such a small lift, 4 people is enough to make John weighing up between the lift or stairs. One woman had run after witnessing two other blocks of flats fall in on themselves, she spoke of the heavy black net curtains that no one she knew ever like, had given her enough protection from the light to allow her to gaze out beyond her four walls.
This news hit the atmosphere like someone shitting in the pool at a pool party, and silence once more fell on this group. Richard broke the silence with a tremble to his voice that John had never heard before,
“Thank fuck I have just picked this ounce up, my dealer lived in one of those blocks” he quipped. All this did was hammer home that some of the group may have lost friends at some point while they were hiding underground, no one called him on it for being in bad taste, they all felt the mental wellbeing of the group wavered on a knife edge. They had no clue to the passing of time, no phones or watches worked and the passing of night in to day was no longer a concept they had available to them. The incessant humming vibration was only noticeable when some one mentioned it and then it faded from notice once more.
All of a sudden there was a massive quake, they all felt its power in a flurry of eeks and squeaks of surprise from the collection of modern world refugees. Lost in that moment was the sudden fall of silence, the hum had stopped when they felt the tremor, almost like wacking the side of an old radio to get the speakers to sort them selves out. Pete went for a wander up to ground level, feeling his way in the darkness, he turner the corner and looked towards the out ramp, where the bright white light had now been replaced by a yellower light that intermittently hit the wall in slashes of light. Fear, and the need to urinate stopped him dead in his tracks, unable to move forward, even after pissing in to the darkness. The argument that went on in his head was, “you cant go back, not having investigated further” “I am not going any further on my own” “I cant go back telling them I was scared”. This seemed to ring around his head for hours, but it was only a few minutes. He decided to return and report back on what he had seen, he would leave out the bit when he relieved himself, like so many others before him, no need to mention it, and then a though just threw him in to hysterics, thinking about curling a turd back there and one of the other were to step in it and brought back the old joke of a man slipping on a turd going in to a pub, later on another guy walks through the door and does the same, the first man pipes up,”I did that!” And the second man grabbed him a rubbed his nose in it, it always made Pete chuckle. This was disturbed by John yelling out……
“You ok Pete?” , How did he know I was coming back? Thought Pete,
“Hey, how did you know I was coming back?”
“Who else has a laugh like an epileptic donkey hooked on crack cocaine”
Everyone had heard Pete laugh, and those who didn’t know him had not realised what it was, they all laughed now, some mocking, but most from relief. Pete reported back on what he had seen, and admitted he didn’t want to go investigate alone, which was met with a chorus of approval and a spattering of fair play mate, rose from the ensemble. Everybody was in full agreement that if they had the choice they would rather remain for as long as possible hiding in the dark, but acknowledged that was not a feasible plan. This was England, weapons for protection where not at the forefront of anyone’s mind, and in the situation they now found themselves in, the only weapon anybody could come up with were tire irons. Cars were broken in to, rumaged and robbed of anything that was better than the tire iron, but all agreed this to be the best of a bad bunch, now “armed”, they returned to the ground floor, in a kind of silent conga, each person holding on to the person in front, all being led by a sporadically chuckling Pete groping along the wall.
Reaching the top of the ramp leading to the last floor, the huddled around each other, seeing these more mellow “torchlights” dancing across the wall the thoughts of some turned to it being the rescue services looking for survivors, but none felt comfortable enough with that idea to run to see if they were right. They edged slowly towards the exit ramp, John pulled them to a halt a hundred yards from their destination. Almost as though he had a sudden input of courage, he volunteered him self to go and get a better look, if he were to get “caught” then only one person would suffer the fate rather than all of them, Dave stepped forward to go with him, wing man, just in case. John told the rest of them to go back to the ramp and hide behind the wall. There stood John and Dave,
“Finally I have got you alone, John, take me at your will” Dave said in a silly seductive voice, and wrapped himself John. This broke the tension of the moment, and it seemed perfectly sensible to re-light the tail ends of their joints, and began to stroll forward, almost like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in “Independence day”… but not quite. Few drags later and they were burning the cardboard of the roaches, they edged ever closer. Dave asked John if he had a mirror…..
“Mirror? Why the fuck would I have a pissing mirror” replied John quizzically.
“Well I thought there would be one in your make-up compact” added Dave in a snot filled snort. They stood and laughed hard, barely able to stand, they supported them selves on damp concrete columns. The last of the THC blowing through their minds or the fear of the situation, neither could be sure what had bought on this hysteria. Back to the hand at task they both agreed after what seemed ages laughing until it hurt, no more than ten feet away from discovering what was going on. They reached the edge of their cover, taking it in turns to take a quick glimpse, plucking up the nerve to take a longer and more complete look of what was causing all this panic.
“Fuck it” muttered john and he stepped out from behind the wall. He felt Dave grasping at the back of his jacket to stop him, but never quite managed to get his fingers to work together well enough. There he was, a humble office worker, the most excitement he had would be a fortnight long bender on some sunny island with all his pals, never one to take a brave choice, standing brazenly out in the open. He froze as his eyes fell upon the cause all this kerfuffle, he could not take a breath, blink an eye or move a muscle, and became aware of a warm trickle running down his leg, even the realisation of him urinating down his leg could not snap him out of it. Dave gazed at his life long friend for what seemed a endless time, and realised that in all the years they had know each other, he had never really stared at this mans face in detail. Dave finally broke from this hypnotic state, to slowly edge around to take a look for himself. Dave too was shocked by the view with which he was presented, Dave was never like John, John spoke only when he needed to, he was the quiet type, Dave was vocal, and a loud booming voice had got him in to more trouble than he ever intended.
“Well fry my shit on toast…..” he began
This broke the mesmerised stare of John, just in time to get one last look at his best mate before his head vaporised in a mist of blood, John watched his body remain up right momentarily until the error message had been conveyed to all his remaining cells, ligaments and muscles, it was at this point John completed his return to infancy by shitting his pants. He ran, as fast as he could, all the time feeling the excremental slide from side to side in a sort of zig zag down his leg, he screamed as hard as he could, but only silence issued forth. By the time he had arrived back with his band of refugees, he was sobbing like a baby, unable to catch his breath long enough to explain. Richard grabbed him by the arm and led him away. John started to calm down as he heard Richard unzipping something out of his view in the gloom, next he felt Richard removing his shoes, then socks and then the rest of his soiled clothes. He felt the ecstasy of a damp wipe being rubbed across his goose-bumped flesh, and then having dry clothing being thrust in to his hand. He dressed in to the fresh clothing as richard started to explain….
“I found this suitcase when I was searching for a weapon, I noticed the smell and guessed the rest, here is your belt, if you need”
The trousers were a little generous around the waist, and he was glad of the belt, his shoes were virtually unscathed, but a wipe over with another baby wipe sorted that, Richard then handed him a towel to dry his face and then he handed his the bottle of Jack Daniels from his flat, his memory scrambled for events of the day he bought that bottle, trying to picture a normal day, a time that he may never see again. He took the most enormous drag on the bottle, and the burning of the alcohol never even made him flinch, he then felt a spliff forced in to his other hand, four massive drags and one delayed exhale and he was starting to feel more relaxed….
“Right” said Richard….
“What the SP?” He finished.
John took him by the arm and led him back to the group…
“I don’t think I have it in me to explain twice mate” John murmured as he drew closer to the group.
He stood there, holding the bottle of Jack by the neck, lifting it once more and hammered another tsunami bourbon. He began to speak re-lighting his joint, taking a deep drag and theatrical exhale. He did his best to explain to the confused faces huddled around the candlelight. The sobbing paralysed his entire body as he tried to be strong and re-tell the last thirty minutes, the words would hitch just behind his Adam’s apple, and no matter how hard he coughed he could only swallow the words back down and try again. He tried his best but it was such a difficult thing to put into word, he just didn’t feel he had the vocabulary to do it, or Dave, justice. He relived the moment in his mind to get everything right, another swig of Jack, and a drag on Bob Marleys blend, and off he went to try again. He had pushed himself in to full view of Sunday night/Monday morning and gazed in absolute wonder, he had seen a giant ovoid shape hovering silently above the rubble that was block three and four, this giant silver object was seamless with a dull Matt sheen, a dozen, maybe more, well, men? Figures? Dressed in black, erm, you know, well, spacesuits walked around the craft, collecting what he though were dead bodies from the rubble, carrying them to within a few feet of the craft, and then walking away leaving the body to just hover there for a few seconds before it exploded in a red mist, which was then absorbed by the ovoid mass. They seemed like ants wandering around aimlessly, but with purpose, their suits were proper black, frictionless they made no sound of moving fabric, a glossy black face plate on their helmets showed nothing of the beast below, and mellow yellow light came from torches mounted on each shoulder, the only light out there, no moon, no stars. He went on to explain that they had not even glanced up from their duties as he watched, but snap upright with frighteningly fast reflexes when Dave spoke, and from no where came the brightest, hottest white light straight towards Dave. It was this light which had just vaporised his head, John could feel the intense heat from it as it came closer to the pair, silent all the way, no hum of the light sabre about it, just silent.
“And then I just fuck pegged it back here, hahaha, after shitting and pissing my pants, haha” he finished with a small giggle, this seemed to break the trance of his group, and there was a minimal chuckle from all. It was not, after all, a funny situation to be in. Everyone hates Monday mornings, but all to a man wished to be home in front of the telly, cup of tea and ironing tomorrows work clothes. After a few moments the questions started…..
“Look, I don’t mean to rude, but I have told you everything I saw, I don’t know any more than you do.” John replied as politely as he could muster, and to be honest he though, “I have a pretty good buzz on now”. The booze and drugs had taken affect quite nicely, thank you.
“They are going to be finished out there eventually, so lets see if we can survive to sunrise, at least” Richard said in his most commanding office manager tone. The murmurings stopped, and they look toward him for further prophetic teachings, as if he had all the answers, he was a logistics manager, not the second coming, even though it appeared as if it were judgement day.
“Look, I am not putting my hand up to be your leader, I am more Reggie Perrin, than Han Solo, I am just trying to look at our predicament logically” he said as he threw his tire iron in to a distant corner and responded to the shocked looks on the faces before him, and said….
“Well, a tire iron seems to be as much use to me as back pocket on a shirt, we are up against vaporising ray guns, people” and threw his hand up in bewilderment like and England football fan would at the idea of a penalty shoot out in a World Cup knock out game…. “We need to come up with a plan to get away, and not stand and fight, there has been no attempt to limit casualty’s during their arrival, lets not hope for a little mercy and chance to get back to normal” he continued, almost like addressing a class full of naughty children, and he half felt like saying “its your time your wasting, not mine” but refrained from that, he might need that little gem later. They passed the collected bottles of spirit around, and a calmness descended on them all. They discussed all manner of things, go deeper into the car park, search the gloom for another exit, a well titled emergency exit. No one suggested going back to hide in their flats, now they were on the ground level or almost, the thought of trapping themselves upstairs was not mentioned, but all thought of it, their “safe or happy places” depending on which branch of therapy you have had. They all agreed to see if they could find another exit, and all agreed it would be quicker to split in to smaller groups, but to a man decided to stick together. The two twenty somethings that shared a flat a few doors down from John both stood up first, one, Mandy, as John found out later, stumbled and shuffled slowly towards the corner where Richard had tossed his tire iron. The metallic ding sounded out as she caught it with her right foot, she picked it up and brought it back. She wandered over to Richard, took his hand and placed it gently back in to his palm….
“Never know, it might just come in handy” she whispered softly in to his ear, making the hair on the back of his neck stand to attention at the feeling of soft warm air, and the glancing brush of her body against his, he blushed to himself in the gloom at the lazy lob he had developed, like a teenage boy getting the girl of his wet dreams. John looked on with a little envy, Richard, he felt, was always the better looking of the gang and cool as fuck. Then it was Johns turn for a little female attention, as her flat mate Jane, just walked up to him, kissed him on the cheek, took his hand in hers. John raised his eyes to heaven and cursed the god who had waited until possibly his last few hours on this earth, to make one of his dreams come true, he had dreamed of Jane constantly since the day she moved in six months ago, but didn’t make a move in case she fell for Mr Cool over there, long story, he thought to himself. He had an image of being the spare prick at a threesome once the girls had met Richard, and giggled out loud. He gazed at her, and the Luther Vandross number popped in to his head, as her face always did when he heard “If only for one night” an wished he could sing, like he would be able to do at this point in a Hollywood summer blockbuster, but he sang like a cat with its nuts in a vice.
They all followed the foursome up the ramp, back to the ground floor, edging slowly as the reached the top, John peered round, and saw the yellow light bounce of the walls, and the headless corpse of his mate still lay where it fell. John drew back to the group and told them Davies body had not been moved so it was a good chance that they had not entered the car park, yet. They took the right, away from the exit ramp, John noticed as he ushered them away that they all look toward Davies body as if they had not believed him, rubbernecking, he thought with a slightest of smiles, once everyone had passed, John brought up the rear of the group with Jane still firmly holding his hand, which made him feel like Superman. The most logical place to start to look for an emergency exit, they had all agreed, was as far from the exit exit as possible. Hence the turn right, with the exit ramp disappearing in to the darkness behind them. They shuffled down one wall, then the opposite wall, then the wall at the end of the car park level, nothing. They walked slowly back to the stairwell that led back up to the flats, there was an emergency door here, but unfortunately they guess it would lead them out in to the thick of the action amongst the rubble. They huddled in to the overhang of the concrete stairs that led up to the flats above, out of sight, just in case. They spoke in hushed whispers, ideas of where to go from here, did they have emergency exits on each floor of the car park? Has anyone seen exits before? And how come they had managed to find a group of people who didn’t own cars? This was east London, with an Oyster card, London was your, well, oyster, who needed the expense of a car? And no way you could get away with drink driving in this part of London. So what was the point of it?
“Right then, do we investigate lower floors? If we find an emergency exit, will it just lead us in to the thick of it?” Asked John, murmur murmur came the answer from the group.
“Well, in a nut shell, we are between a rock and a hard place” chirped up Pete. John went to say “shut up with the bullshit Pete” but just caught himself before it escaped in to the world, this was no time to vent his helplessness on Pete. So he just laughed appropriately. They were in fact pretty much fucked, John though, but he was sure they could maybe wait it out.
“It’s not a time to be making rash decisions” John broke the silence with a strong unwavering voice,
“I think we should assess the situation as it unfolds, we may decide to run for it, only to find they move off without checking the flats out” he continued, “We may be able to over power the odd one or two of them at a time, we know where they are, they don’t know where we are, we have, to a certain extent, the element of surprise”
Again came the murmur, murmur from the group in return…….
“This is not a dictatorship, I am not your leader and have no information on the situation that you don’t have, please, if you have anything to say, just chip in, eventually we may be able to formulate a plan as a group”
This time silence was the only thing to come back at this comment. It felt like an uncomfortable silence to John, he walked over to Richard and Pete the two girls hugged, and the image of the spare prick at a threesome came back to his mind. Pete looked at Johns smirk, and twitched his head as if to ask John what had made him snigger, John shook his head as he could not tell anyone his vision, not yet any way, it was a funny story for a sunny day in a pub garden years from now. The three lads discussed the situation, none of them, or their two new female acquaintances, had been able to formulate any kind of plan, they all just discussed what was going on. There was still silence from the rest of the group as well, and most of them had glanced across at John to see if they were planning their escape. After what had felt like an eternity standing in the gloom of the stairwell, John called them all around…..
“Look, we cant just stand around hoping to wake from a nightmare, face facts, were in the shit, no two ways about it, but we need to get serious, or we may as well step out and meet our inevitable doom” he was amazed just how strong and steady his voice was……
“We need to come up with a viable plan, good or bad only time will tell, we may all be dead by sunrise, don’t matter how fast you run or how well you hide, if its your time, its your time, for fucks sake, lets go out like Bertie big bollocks rather than cowering in a stairwell, lets go out with a fucking roar, not a gutless whisper”
This seem to put a bit of steel in their spines, they took their places on the stairs and sat, not long after the solutions to their predicament started to flow, some good, some bad and some that would suit a role for big Arnie. The main point of agreement seem to be to somehow, fine details were sketchy, somehow grab hold of one of the aliens, and see just what they were up against. The power of the mob and blitz attack seemed to be one of the plus points and the element of surprise. John pointed out that Daves body was still where it fell, maybe they would send someone to collect it when they had finished their current duties at hand. How long that would be was not known, the waiting was tedious, Pete got so fidgety he returned to Johns flat to “gather” some much needed supplies.
Pete entered the flat, silence hit him like a cool breeze on a hot day. First stop was to get John’s gym bag from his closet, and grab a fresh change of clothes for john, so he could feel human again. Next he laid on the bed, took a few deep breaths and just centred himself, flicked on his Headspace app on his phone, and took five minutes for himself. Feeling a little bit better he then stopped off in to the kitchen and grabbed non alcoholic drinks, bottles of wine and spirits, snacks and lastly Knives from the knife block. Had he been in his own flat, he would have grabbed proper knives and swords from his collection, but he supposed someone will end up ill equipped with a pairing knife, and he chuckled and stuffed the ten inch cooks knife through his belt at the back…
“Ain’t gonna be me” he told the empty flat with a chuckle. He looked out of the french doors leading to the balcony, but he couldn’t see much, he quietly opened the doors and stepped cautiously out on to the balcony, and froze as he gazed at the ovoid mass, even in the torrential rain it appeared dry, on closer inspection he could see the rain drops landing and sliding off at speed like it was covered in super smooth Teflon. He watched the beings below going about their task and saw what John had meant when he said the ship was absorbing the corpses it was brought. He was fascinated, he could not pull his eyes away, never had he seen anything like this before. Eventually he pulled his shit together, and moved back inside, he scanned around the flat..
“BATHROOM!” he exclaimed to the empty flat
“First aid kit, twat” he rebuked himself, and while he was in the bathroom he used the facility’s,
“Is this the last toilet I will ever use?’ he joked, but he was in no doubt that this was not a toilet he we be using again. The cracks in the walls had been all too evident on his way up the stairs, and the flat was covered in a fine layer of concrete dust and the walls were long passed Polyfiller repair. He would have been surprised if it were still standing this time next week. He pulled his phone from his pocket to add pictures of this to go with those he took of the stairwell. It would be easier to show them pictures rather than explaining, he was no wordsmith. He had gathered everything he was intending too, but that bed looked inviting again, but resisted the temptation, he felt too alone to remain any longer, the silence had started to get far too oppressive. He began the long trudge downstairs, checking the odd crack with the pictures he had taken, he was positive they were getting bigger, so took more photos on his way back down.
There was a beleaguered cheer on his safe return to the group, he handed around the refreshments, and the discussions began. Pete showed the collection of knives he had grabbed from upstairs, and just like Richard and his dodgy sense of timing asked
“I will have the potato peeler” he laughed, and the tension briefly lifted from this motley crew. Pete explained he thought something was better than nothing, and not being in America the choice of “weapons” was limited to say the least. John took charge and agreed with Pete, and they were a lot better than the tire irons the had found initially…
“Right then, so, err, any suggestions on our next move?” He asked the group, knowing full well that a shrug of the shoulders would be the answer that came back. His assumption was correct, these faces before him were blank, part shock, part fatigue and mostly fear, so strong you almost smell it.
“Ok, I am the only one here who has seen them, and their lightening fast speed, but unfortunately all I keep coming back to is the fact we are going to need a lightening fast hare to attract the greyhounds” he began, once more the look of confusion was all that greeted him…..
“What I mean to say is, it’s a bit like the dog racing, the only reason the greyhounds fly around the track is they are chasing a hare, a mechanical hare, before any vegetarians start to worry” he continued, still waiting for the collective penny to drop, one woman at the back spoke for the first time this evening..
“Where are we going to get a mechanical hare from?” She asked with a perfectly straight face, John was convinced she had to be joking, but she never cracked a smile.
“Ok, in layman’s terms, one of us needs to be the hare in this situation, to get some attention, bring them to us, because I am not convinced we will last too long trying to get to them” he explained with out trying to ridicule anyone’s lack of ability to grasp the way he was thinking.
“Dam, I should have grabbed a pot and spoon from the kitchen, we could have banged it, get them investigating what the ruckus was” Pete added to the conversation. Then the collective penny dropped.
“Now we are getting the idea, not sure if it was Dave’s voice that they heard, or just the movement, but we are getting the idea” John finished, grabbed the bottle of Jack and took another big gulp.
He was not sure if it was the Adrenalin or just one of those days but the bourbon was not touching the sides today, and he still felt sober, but, just maybe, a little more courageous than normal. Now the discussion heated up, people throwing in ideas, but all skirting around the idea of a human sacrifice, the old issue of who ever smelt it dealt it, no one wanted to be the lure to attract these alien beings so no one suggested it. John knew it was possibly the only way, he didn’t want to believe who ever became the hare would end up like Dave, but it was just one more unknown to this situation. Someone stepped out from the dark of the stairwell, john had noticed this gaunt figure, almost like taught skin stretched over a fragile frame, and in the candle light he was convinced there was a grey hue to this skin.
“Hi, I am Eric, I live in, or should I say lived in flat 23” he croaked in a voice as fragile as his visage,
“I am not long for this world, cirrhosis, beyond repair, I knew my poison, loved it, had fun, no regrets, so stop looking at me with those sympathetic eyes, for me it was a cowards suicide” his voice never got any bigger than the initial croak and he too took a large hit from the dwindling bottle of Jack……..
“Look, what I am trying to say is I will be the hare, like that analogy John, if I die tonight, tomorrow or next month, I know I am on the grim reapers to do list, some days I can feel his cold breath on the back of my neck, but if I am going to go, I cant ask for more than for it to be on my terms” he said, and to a man, or woman, they all viewed him with admiration.
“Oh stop that shit with your eyes, I did this to myself, if I were healthy like you lot I would still be skulking in the shadows, it is not a pleasant way to go, no matter how much fun it was getting there, forever the coward” Eric finished. John was relieved he had now got a willing candidate for the start of his plan. John spoke up again after a few seconds and explained what he had in mind.
“Ok, so, this is what I think, please feel free to agree, disagree or add some finer points to it, I am just an office worker, no special forces training, no experience of situations like this, and its not a dictatorship” he said in with confidence, a confidence he wanted to instil in the group, if he possibly could. There was a nervous giggle that spread around these few refugees, and John thought it better to have a nervous giggle than hysterical crying.
“I think we all gather by the wall along the exit ramp, Eric will venture out in to view, maybe smash a few bottles, empty of course, lets not waste good booze. Hopefully we can get him back behind the wall before he gets zapped, encourage one of them to come down to see what is going on” he continued in his best middle management tone.
“Then, once its close enough, we all jump it at the same moment, over powering it, and try to get some answers or see what we are dealing with, its bound to be armed with some sort of laser doohickey thing going on, like we say in cricket, one brings two and so on” not really believing himself but it was more of a plan than they had an hour ago. He neither knew if they could be over powered, or if they were armed, but it was a start.
The group mulled it over, murmuring with those people who they knew, while John wandered down to the wall to have a look at what was going on outside, he needed a bit of me time to gather himself for what was coming and get a lay of the land in what used to be his estate. The blackness outside still seemed to have a super black, the blackest of the blacks tone to it, not quite a dark night black but almost a pure black, if that was even such a thing, he chided himself. As he lingered behind the wall, feeling the cold almost damp concrete against his back, he prayed, for the first time since he was a child. He begged the powers that created this earth for the invaders to be gone, when he finally plucked up the courage to peer around the wall. As he did, his eyes were first drawn to the headless corpse of his childhood friend and whispered
“Told you your vulgar terminology would get you in trouble one day mate” he felt the pang of loss hit him squarely in the chest with the force of a ten pound sledgehammer, and he let out an involuntary sob, and quickly ducked back as he began to lose his grip on the sadness,
“Pull yourself together you twat” he rebuked himself with the level of scorn we only keep in reserve for ourselves. He cried in to his hands for what seemed to him an endless time. He raised his bottle to his lips once more, and just before gravity delivered it burning contents of bourbon he whispered in to the neck of the bottle, “here’s to you Dave, me old mucker” and drained the last of the bottle in a few big gulps, winced, let out a little cough, and he was ready again to look beyond the wall. Nothing had changed, they were still gathering corpses and they still seemed to vaporise and be absorbed in to the craft, all that had change was it had seemed to stop raining he thought. The sky was black still, but totally devoid of any stars, or moon, which he felt was odd, but he guessed they were blotted out by the clouds. He placed the empty bottle down, no point carrying it back only to bring it back here again, and he stood it at the end of the wall. He returned to the stairwell slowly, to give himself time to paint on the confident face again, he wiped his eyes so not to show any weakness to a group who would possibly all drop dead from a sudden bang, such was the stress levels amongst them. He decided it was time to put some steel in their back bones, a rousing speech of some sort, a Gettysburg address of sorts, short, strong and motivating. He stood by the double doors with wire reinforced glass windows, and composed himself before he entered the stairwell.
“Right, everyone” he began in a steady confident voice,
“Nothing has changed out there, they are still collecting bodies, Dave still lays where he fell, and its as black out there as a coal miners arsehole” he paused for a moment, then began,
“We have the element of surprise, we have a plan, and I need you all to help to bring this plan to fruition, have no fear, if we do nothing we lose, we may even lose if we do something, but let us go with a bang and not just a whimper, lets show them some London grit” it seemed to instil a certain amount of collective confidence, he was sure that some may wimp out when push came to shove, some people are just born to be cannon fodder, and to be honest with himself he could not guarantee that would not be him. He liked the easy life, no commitments, no drive to be the big boss, just earn enough to keep a roof over his head, and pay his bills with enough left over to party all weekend. His only fight for survival was getting on the tube before the doors closed. The muttering had subsided when he said,
“It’s now or never people, how many empties do we have, and who needs my help to empty a bottle” no sooner had he finished saying this than Pete shoved a bottle of Bacardi in to his hand, not his favourite tipple straight, but beggars can not be choosers, and he hit it hard, it took two attempts, but he drained it, and now he started to feel a bit of a wobble, that nice kind of drunk, where all the stress leaves you, like wrapping yourself in a warm soft blanket on frosty day, but before you were a dribbling slurring goon. They had another two empty bottles by the time John led them down to the wall.
There they were, his thrown together crew, not exactly the “Inglorious Bastards” but they will have to do, and with no sign of any military presence like they always seem to have in the movies, it was better than a poke in the eye with a blunt doo-dar. John led Eric away, and as he took his arm he felt how little flesh this man had left on him,
“Right Eric, here are three empty bottles, just lob them on to the hardest surface you can, smash them good an proper, and lets see if we can get their attention, ideally get you back in one piece, giving them reason to come down a find out what’s going on” Eric nodded at Johns words, he seemed to have got some steel about him John thought to himself,
“Take your time, go when ever you are ready, ok” John told him, and Eric cracked a smile
“No worries John, how about giving it about twenty years” he joked back, and they both collapsed in to snot bubble kind of laughter.
“Well” John said desperately trying to get hold of himself……………… “Not sure if we can wait that long, I mean, I would if I could, but I am not sure if we can swing it” he laughed, and with that, they wandered back. While John had been investigating the lay of the land the rest of them had cobbled together jackets and jumpers in to a makeshift rope, John had seen this and was confused, until one of the women tied an arm of a jumper through the belt on Erics jeans, and he saw their idea behind this, Richard saw his brief confusion and said,
“It’s a kind of rope to pull him back with, you know what I mean?” John nodded, he could see the idea, but did think the force of pulling Eric back might just snap him in two,
“Right then, Eric, go when your ready, as soon as we see you lob the last bottle get moving back to us and be ready to be yanked on this make shift jumble of clothes rope, you feel me mate” his middle management tone was now verging on upper management, he felt proud.
“Right, but if you don’t mind waiting until later to yank me off and letting me feel you John, it’s not you, it’s me” now the laughter spread through the group like wild fire, only stoked up when John replied,
“Eric, darling, you can afford me, and I don’t give freebies” John slapped him on the back and stepped away,
“So, when your ready mate, its all about you” Eric stood for a moment took a couple of peeks around the wall,
“Let the dog see the rabbit” he said as he did so, John watched his face a he took in the horror of the out side world during his brief glances and saw his lips mouth the words “fuck me”. John could feel his horror, knew what he was seeing, and to a certain extent, what he was feeling, fuck me was about right John thought. It was not a sight you would ever see in Peckham, or anywhere else for that matter.
Eric seemed to be winding himself up like a matador getting ready to tease a hapless bull, never quite knowing which would come out triumphant, but John thought it might be one occasion the matador came unstuck. After what seemed like hours, but in reality only minutes, Eric step forward yelling like a soldier running in to gun fire, un-discernible in his croaking voice as if it were being played through a badly blown speaker, then quickly followed by three loud smashes of glass on stone, piercing the night air, and then with lightening speed of an uneven match of tug-of-war this motley crew pulled him back with all the effort they could muster, not that it took much to shift this empty shell of a man, back came Eric flying through the air, and as they all fell to the ground they were quickly followed by Eric landing on top of this ruck of people. John approach with a certain amount of dread, half expecting him not to still be in one piece. To his short lived relief, he saw that Eric was indeed complete,
“Right everyone, on your toes, quick, we might be expecting company” John ordered in his best drill sergeants voice. They all jumped up, ready for his next command, Eric was obviously spent after his exertions and he just lay in the heap he fell in, John felt a cold hand of dread as he approached, expecting the worst, and as he reached a hand down to check for some sort of vital signs, he felt Eric grab his hand,
“I ain’t dead yet bruv” with humour in his fragile voice,
“Anyone got any booze left? Need to wet my whistle” he croaked “I am as dry as a nun chuff” laughter filled his voice. Three bottles were offered to him,
“Ini mini miny mo” he said as he touched all three bottles in turn. Grabbing one he showed them all how to take a proper drink from the bottle. He gingerly got to his feet, and slumped on the boot of the nearest car, breathing heavy and laboured, he slowly regained his composure. John organised the troops ready for the next stage of his plan, and leading Eric to a safer spot, he did not feel this man was in any condition to rumble just yet. They hide in the darkness, not knowing if this plan would work, if anyone outside had heard the commotion, or even if they were capable of thinking for themselves enough to act on what they had just heard to come and investigate the noise. They had no idea what they were dealing with, what lay beneath the black suits and helmets. As they waited in the dark, silent parking structure, the dread grew by the second.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps grew louder, closer, step by step, Richard adjusted his grip on the handle of his knife, the nerves were twitching almost audible, as they huddled behind the wall, the shadow on the far wall grew larger second by second, the figure appeared from around the wall, it was almost impossible to keep this silence, but before anyone could act, Eric jumped in to the aliens view from behind the car he was sheltering behind, about six feet from where the rest of the gang cowered in the darkness,
“Lets be fucking ‘aving you, you waste of breath, come…” before he could finish, there was a blinding flash, and Eric fell silent, except for the sound of his lifeless body hitting the floor. As the invader walked past the group John jumped up and screamed……..
“Get him, now!” And he moved forward, alone at first, then followed by Pete and Richard, then just a handful of the rest. Just as this black suited monster turned to see what was going on, he was wrestled to the ground by the bravest of the group, kicking, screaming and slashing knives in a frenzy built up by the pent up fear and anger, they over powered him, four people sitting on his legs, Richard had the right arm, Pete had the left, and John sat astride his chest. It wriggled and tried to get free, but the rest of the group now the situation seemed under control, found their bravery, and helped subdue this monster.
“Give me a tire iron, now” John screamed, as out of the darkness a hand thrust it toward him. He grabbed it in haste, them smashed at the black glass faceplate, after half a dozen psycho shower scene type strikes, the face plate exploded like tempered glass showering all with chunks,
“Candle, give me a mother fucking candle” John said in his commanding tone, the sound of flint striking metal was quickly followed by a flash of light, and the candle was passed along the line, flickering in the draft, John swapped this for the tire iron, and held it close to the open helmet, dreading what horrors he would see once he illuminated their quarry. To his surprise, what greeted him was a human face, he was thrown in to paralysis, not quite believing the information his eye were giving him. No one said a word, not wanting to know what John was seeing, and John could not find the words to tell what he saw……… “Right lets get it to the stairwell” John finally said as his composure started to return, they all grabbed a part, and carried it to their place of safety.
Once back to the stairwell they pushed its arms through the metalwork of the bannister, two people holding each arm, all wishing someone had handcuff, no one admitting to having any. As John stood in front of this creature, still lost for words, a new emotion rose to the surface, anger. It was so strong, it consumed John, from head to toe, and without conscious thought this rage took control, and he started to kick this beast in the midriff, he did not know how many time he kicked it, but felt joy at every groan and moan it let out with each kick. Pete finally grabbed his shoulder and said
“Mate…..enough” Pete voice was strangely grown up, it broke John hypnosis, and his rage subsided. He knelt in front of it, eye to eye and said without thinking
“What the fuck?” He barked at it, and noticed a degree of fear in its eyes, but he guessed he would have been the same in its situation, and to the surprise of the group it answered, in perfect queens english,
“Fuck you!” Silence fell on everyone, only broken by the chuckle of the beast,
“Do what the fuck you want, I don’t care, you all be food by sunrise” It taunted them, and continued to laugh, Johns rage returned, grabbed the biggest knife they had, and thrust it in to the invaders leg, mid thigh, it let out a blood curdling scream, John left the knife in place,
“Who the fuck are you, where do you come from and what the fuck do you want with us?” John screamed in to its face, spittle flying from his quivering lips, and landing on both of its cheeks.
“Fuck you, fuck you and fuck the horse you rode in on” It tried to scream back through the pain, John twisted the knife forty five degrees or so, and loved the power he felt doing it, loved the pain that was audibly shown, and the grimace on its face.
“We may only have until sunrise, but I am happy to spend it making you bleed” John shocked himself as he said said it, never realising he had this in him. It seemed a little less cocky after this, John thought it had realised that unless his friends found him soon, it could be a long night for this particular invader, maybe this realisation may get some questions answered. It bled, it felt pain, and obviously had some level of fear, fear of pain, fear of death, or fear of them. John saw the fear clear as day as he picked up a second blade and pressed the tip in to the midriff enough to pierce the suit and a few millimetres of the flesh beneath. “Now my little alien friend, you can either talk or stay silent and I can go to town on which ever body part takes my fancy, and, without a doubt, its gonna hurt you more than it is going to hurt me, I don’t care if we only have until sunrise, I am going to make the most of it” John said as he tentatively pressed the knife in a few more millimetres, and revelled in the fear creeping deeper across its face.
John felt a little trepidation as he pushed this monster for information, he was not completely convinced he actually wanted to know, his self preservation side of his mind just kept telling him that ignorance is bliss, the inquisitive side just wanted all the facts, on the off chance it might help them all see another day, what was shaping up to be the worst Monday in the history of the world, ever. He knew the rest of his group wanted answers, their collective minds now just hanging on to sanity by a thread, some sobbed in quiet corners unable to regain their composure, Pete and Richard were consoling those who were unable to deal with the unfolding events, he felt a degree of pride that he was friends with these guys, helping others even with the loss of their friend Dave earlier this evening,
“Right my little friend, its arse kicking time” John said with a frightening amount of joy in his voice. The beast squirmed before, trying to wriggle free, and then letting out an excruciatingly painful scream as one this band of rebels snapped the bones in its forearm,
“Ooohhh shit, I felt that one” said a man who John had come to know this evening as Barry, no sooner than he finished speaking another audible crack and simultaneous scream from the being as Barry’s room mate snapped the other forearm, just for what John could only think was fun, justified he though, but not entirely helpful. He looked back at the beast before him now drifting in an out of consciousness, from shock, pain or fear
John could not tell, he had done a first aid course but it had not come with a supplementary course on torture technique, and subsequent effect of pain on the human body. John searched around the base of the helmet for a release mechanism but in the poor lighting from the candles, all he could do was fumble, eventually out of frustration he cut away the fabric of the suit just below the neck and pulled it off. If this was not a human before him it was a dam close likeness, not the big eyed grey being that had been depicted in his favourite film Paul, or endless episodes of the X Files. He had a vague idea, probably from some Hollywood blood-fest that increased pain would snap this thing back from dreamland, but what did they have for the task? He mind went straight to salt, then the fact it was just like Pete to grab the tequila, but not the salt or lemon, and he laughed to himself. That just left the tequila, ripping a larger hole around the leg wound, but leaving the knife in place, he liberally doused the area with Mexico’s finest. It had the desired effect, as the being snapped back to consciousness with a scream,
“Now, lets talk” John said, trying to muster the confidence of an interrogator, he slapped it across the the face a couple of times, just to keep its attention.
“Lets start with a few basic questions, we will keep it simple. Now for the rules, if you don’t answer, I will administer pain, if I don’t like your answer, I will administer pain, if you laugh or mock us, well you get the idea. So over the next few hour you are going to have to work very hard to return to your people in one piece, are we clear?” John finished by gently slapping the knife embedded in its leg, after it had finished screaming it nodded,
“Ok, ok, enough, I get your point, but you will not like what I have to say, you will not like it at all” it croaked from behind gritted teeth, and laboured breathing. John felt the rage rising and before he knew what he was doing a straight right hand to the nose and it exploded in blood, and the kind of crunch you hear when you squash a large beetle, normally this would have brought on Johns gag reflex, tonight, well he had to admit to himself it felt fantastic. John didn’t need to be a doctor to see the nose was broken, and it seemed that this creature had emotions as it began to sob,
“Stop, stop, enough, I will tell you what you want to know, just stop with the pain, I am human, like you” it said through the tears, blood and snot. John all at once was paralysed with this information momentarily, his brain just shut down.
“My name is Alex, I’m from…” before he could finish John administered a swift kick to its groin area, silencing him before he could finish. John took Pete and Richard of to a quiet corner, to discuss this latest development,
“Well, that’s a bit left field John” Pete began and let out one of his nervous chuckles,
“How can it be human? That ship out there is not like anything that would take us to Ibiza for the summer, thats not human tech, their weapons are not like anything I have ever seen before, you guys?” Richard added, Johns mind was racing, he could not seem to grab hold of one thought and run with it, the phrase “I’m human” interrupted every thought,
“John, John, snap out of it, get a fucking grip mate” Pete said In a stern tone that neither John or Richard had ever heard him use before, the shock of this reset Johns mind, and realised they were looking to him for leadership, not something he had set out to do, but so be it,
“Sorry lads, it threw me for a loop, cant get my mind around it being human, how can it be?” John words fell on silence, none of them had any more idea than the other,
“Right then, I suppose we get back to finding out a little more about them and what’s going on. If they are human they obviously have human frailties and weak spots” John continued, both Richard and Pete were glad to see John had regained his composure, they returned to the group, and their prisoner.
“So, human? How the hell can you be? It’s not possible” John quizzed this man before him,
“I’m from here, south London as you know it, we call it Metropole, it is a walled city, ever since the second Korean War” Alex continued, still gritting his teeth through the pain.
“But south London is south London, there’s no walls, no war, what the fuck are you going on about?” John pushed for more,
“It’s not the place that has changed, it is the time” he continued,
“Your happy in 2018, it will not be nice for long, by 2068 the war will be in full swing, America bomb North Korea, we side with the US, China and Russia side with North Korea, and the world goes to shit” Alex in full swing now, revelled in the confusion etched across his captors faces,
“I am from 3020, food shortages, water rationing, air turning toxic, disease, famine, a proper struggle for most of the survivors, I joined the military, for a better life, they are in charge now, you get the best rations” he continued, John could not find the words to ask any questions, all his group had gathered like nursery children at story time, just to hear this man speak.
“The Ministry have researched the UK’s records, traced back who we could afford to lose in your time to have virtually no effect on the future, the scientists researched wormholes, I don’t know all the ins and outs, I am just a grunt, they created frictionless ships and sent us back to your time and place” Alex paused for the information to sink in with his captors. Silence descend on the crowd around him, he let them be, it was a huge amount of information to be absorbed.
“So why are you here, what are you back for?” John screamed back at Alex. “We are back for food, water, resources anything that will continue our survival, my ship is designated for food, another is designated for water retrieval and so on” He continued, John frantically scoured his mind for the words, the sentence or anything coherent to ask, his mask of master negotiator was slipping fast like the sun slipping beyond the horizon, eventually he broke his silence,
“Why should we believe you, you would say anything to get free of us and the pain…”
“You cant changed what’s is happening, you don’t have the tools to stop us, nothing will stop us harvesting everyone you have ever known, I may not make it back alive, so be it, but others will survive, my wife and children will be looked after due to my sacrifice, live or die, I have guaranteed their future” Alex jumped in during the slightest of Johns pauses
“….but how?..urm…” John struggled to regain his composure,
“Have you seen the ship? Does it look like anything you have seen before? Or the bodies of the dead being absorbed by the ship, the body by the ramp with no head, or your friend from behind the car? How can you not grasp the magnitude of this? How can you deny what I am telling you” Alex’s words hit him like the express train to parts unknown that he saw every week day morning, John felt as though he was trying to stay afloat in a sea of molasses, with less and less success,
“When they have finished out there, they will find you, Soylent Green is people, Soylent Green is people, hahaha” Alex chanted, the line hit home with John, he was a sci-fi nut, but the glee in Alex’s voice brought the rage back, and he plunged the knife further in to their captives leg right up to the first rivet on the handle, the scream echoed and spiralled up the stairs,
“All these years you thought that a spaceship with little green men were going to rape your world, hahaha, all the time it was only ever going to be you that destroyed the planet, it was only ever going to be the human virus that would contaminate this universe, no Martian’s, no superior being to fix your planet, no universal army to help in an intergalactic war, just us, just the destructive human race, we are our own worse enemy, the architects of our own downfall….”
He chuckled mockingly…..
“We have become death, the destroyer of worlds……..”