Short Story | Science Fiction
Imagine being tucked in bed, warm with the fan gently caressing your skin. Then your dog throws up on you. That’s what happened this morning—3 a.m. Bad start to my day, but I took advantage of the time. Since I couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to write.
The sky cracked open February 16, 2027. Everyone gathered downtown, in front of the new library built a few weeks prior. We stood in awe, face toward the sky as it split in half. Darkness. That’s all that could be seen. But we watched, patiently waiting. For what? We weren’t sure.
The media arrived. Cameras pointed toward the sky, begging for the perfect shot. Chatter crashed against the traffic from the highway. Eventually, the roaring of engines and beeping horns came to a stand-still as passengers and pedestrians merged on the open road, exiting their cars, and following everyone else’s lead.
Then it happened. An orb floated out of the crack, drifting toward an open field, safely landing. The ground shook. A puff of dust lifted.
A few people ran toward it, hoping to get a better glimpse. Members of the press shuffled through the madness, microphones ready, cameras focused. I grabbed hold of my sister’s arm as she stepped forward, pulling her away from the crowd and motioning for her to follow behind me.
I’ve never been one to go with the flow. Saw danger before it happened. Some called me a pessimist. Others, a morbid freak. My grandmother called it the ‘sky’s eye’. Said I was gifted with the ability to see what others couldn’t. She helped hone my skills, testing me every once in a while to see if I could find the hidden message–the one thing everyone else missed or refused to acknowledge.
I never believed I was anything special, but obliged her. Mother always said ‘respect your elders’. So I did, allowing her to delve deeper into her fantasy. We did share a common belief though–surviving, and I knew that if we were going to do that, we’d have to separate ourselves from curious eyes.
We made our way home. Mom and dad huddled in front of the television, watching the scene unfold. We joined them as my brother busted through the front door, leaving it wide open as if he was inviting the rest of the neighborhood in.
“Close the damn door!” My father–the voice of reason. He turned his attention back to the news report, shaking his head every few minutes.
“We were down there,” my sister said as she plopped down on the couch.
“Well, I’m glad you guys had enough sense to come home. Just look at them, huddled around that thing. They don’t even know what it is.”
“Don’t get your blood pressure up, Kevin. I’m sure the proper authorities are on their way.” My mother–the optimist. We’ve bumped heads since I was born. She always looked at the bright side of things. I preferred to linger in darkness, or what I liked to call reality.
I took a seat next to my sister on the couch as my brother sent text messages to his girlfriend. Our eyes remained fixated on the television. None of us were aware of the danger we were in, but we knew this was only the beginning.
“The authorities have blocked off all access to the crash site. Besides the media, no one else is allowed within 200 feet of the scene.”
I rubbed my eyes and looked around the living room. My sister slept at the other end of the couch. My mother laid on the chaise. The recliner housed my father. And my brother was nestled on the floor in front of the television.
Yesterday’s madness continued into the morning as my eyes darted over to the television. The large bluish-green egg rested in an open field not far from the highway. A pulsating light beamed throughout, reminiscent of a heartbeat, holding its own rhythm. Cameras flashed as the military patrolled the area.
I sat up on the couch, pulling the pillow close to my chest, and watched as everyone scurried around the field, trying to figure out what happened.
My father woke up, stretching his arms over his head as he glanced over at me. He offered a smile before turning his attention to the news broadcast. Eventually, he had enough and made his way into the bathroom.
The rest of the family rose a few minutes later. My mother pulled back the curtains as our neighbors gathered outside on their lawns, pointing toward the sky. One of them screamed as the house shook.
I shot up from the couch as my mother backed away from the window. My brother and father ran to the front door, yanking it open. We gathered in the doorway, eyes focused on the object laying in the middle of the road.
My eyes widened as another fell. Three more followed. As the last one crashed against the land, a loud boom radiated throughout the neighborhood. The pulsating light halted as the egg hatched.
My father slammed the door shut and clicked the deadbolt. He turned, eyes widened, heavy breath, and stared at us. “Dean, go get my gun.” Dean bolted up the steps as my mother and I joined my sister in the living room.
“Multiple orbs have fallen now in various parts of town. Mayor Thompson has called for a mandatory curfew. If you have to leave your homes to go grocery shopping or for medical reasons, he’s asking everyone to use caution and to stay clear of certain areas. He’s urging everyone else to remain in their homes. The curfew is set for six p.m. Anyone seen outside after six will be arrested.”
Dean handed my father the gun. “What did I miss?”
“They called a curfew,” my dad said as he loaded his gun. “No one leaves the house.”
We exchanged no words during breakfast. Afternoon came and went. We rotated in and out of the living room, tied to the television, as the story continued to blast on every channel.
I pulled back the curtain, peeking out the window as our neighbors stood on their porches, staring at the egg. The visible crack seeped an unrecognizable odor. Every once in a while, a puff of smoke would escape.
“Darlene said that a group of people are having a meeting in her neighborhood. They want to destroy the eggs.” Dean scrolled through his messages as we gathered around him.
“Is that a good idea?” My mother asked.
“Not until we know what we’re dealing with. It could make things worse.”
Night fell. My mom and siblings drifted off to sleep as my father and I moved into the kitchen. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” I’ve always been a fighter. Came out of the womb ready for battle. Fist balled. Intense look on my face. A part of me always expected the world to collapse, so I was ready to do what I had to. “I’m worried about sis, though.”
“She’s not as strong as you.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Dean’s a little reckless. Your mom’s going to hold it together as long as everyone’s alright. You and I are going to have to protect this family.”
Even though I knew he was telling the truth, I hoped Dean would step up for once. At least for mom’s sake. My father and I made plans in case everything went to shit. He taught me how to shoot when I was ten. Taught me how to use knives when I was eleven. And threw in a couple of boxing classes when I was fourteen, after Dean refused to go.
Aware that this was all going to be on the two of us, I listened as he gave detailed instructions on what needed to be done to make sure everyone was safe.
We stayed up for a few more hours before calling it a night. I sunk into the couch. A wave of peace ran over me as the neighbors returned to their homes and streetlights came on. But the silence didn’t last long.
I jumped up from the couch as an unrecognizable wail came from outside the living room window. My feet traipsed across the carpet as I rubbed my hands together. I pulled back the curtain. The top of the egg laid on the concrete in the middle of the road. My eyes traveled over to the orb–it was empty.
I woke my father. He ran to the window, eyes widened, hand clutching onto his gun. One neighbor exited his house and stood on the front porch. My father waved to him, trying to get him to go back inside, but the message didn’t connect.
We stood in front of the window as my sister and brother woke up, asking us what we were staring at. My lips parted, but no words fell out as the creature darted toward the neighbor, wrapping its long arms around his body and lifting him from the porch.
They crashed to the ground. He managed to release himself enough to crawl away, but the creature grabbed hold of his leg, pulling him back. Its enormous head shot backward as a long tongue protruded from its mouth. Razor-sharp teeth reflected off of the moonlight as its mouth widened, stretching the width of our neighbor’s head.
My body jerked as his jaw slammed shut. My neighbor’s body collapsed to the ground as the creature snapped off his head, blood running down its mouth as it looked in our direction.
My father closed the curtain as I grabbed his gun and ran toward the front door. I swung it open, pointing the gun into the night as the creature sprinted across the street. Its feet connected with the first step. A blast radiated throughout the night sky.
The rest of our neighbors ran out of their homes as my father and I made our way onto the porch. The creature’s lifeless body laid in the front yard, arms sprawled out to its side, eyes opened, staring at the sky it fell from.
My attention drifted over to the neighbor’s headless body. Blood speckled the green grass as his wife darted out of the house, collapsing on the front porch as she saw his body.
Coarse hands brushed against mine as my father removed the gun from my hand. “Are you alright?”
“Good, because it’s time to fight.”
© 2023 Rena Aliston. All rights reserved.
Nefarious Tales is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.