The Horror Zine
Space Craft
Christian Riley

The March "Second" Selected Writer is Christian Riley

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Christian Riley

by Christian Riley

They say a person's whole life passes through their mind's eye just before they die.  I'm not so certain that's the truth, because I've lived a whole lot of life in my forty-seven years, and very soon now, I will definitely be dead. 

They came and got me a few hours ago, but it's been two weeks past, since they started their meticulous sport upon humanity.  In the blink of an eye, their ships appeared in our sky, casting dark shadows upon the land like great thunder clouds.  Naturally, we panicked.  People took to the streets in large masses, some preaching the end of the world, others with hopes to rally unity for all of mankind, and a few who simply stood with open arms, welcoming our new visitors.  And of course, there were those who just looted.  One could always count on the looters.

But to all of our surprise, the massive ships did nothing.  They were huge structures, miles wide, shaped like eggs with smooth, flat bottoms, and they just sat there in the sky, for days, watching as we tried to figure it all out.  There were hundreds of them, hovering over most of our major cities across the world, waiting as it seemed.  At first we sent fighter-jets up to them, but for reasons I couldn't tell you, the planes were unable to get within a few miles from the crafts, as if some invisible barrier stood between them. 

It wasn't long before we grew anxious though, before we viewed their monolithic stares as some sort of mockery.  After a brief attempt to communicate with them, using radio-waves, sonar, and a few other technical instruments, someone just decided it was in our best interest to attack them.  Just attack.  The horror of that proposal had always struck me as absolute insanity, yet they told me that it was what they had expected.  That eventually, regardless of the complete stupidity in our provocation, we were a self-serving species, and would act accordingly.

And they were right.  We attacked them with our fighter-jets, with our missiles, with our ground-to-air lasers none of us even knew we had, save for the top-brass of our militaries.  They revealed to me that even our space-station was outfitted with a rudimentary, first-alert laser-defense system.  But none of any of that made the slightest difference to them.  Seconds after we commenced our feeble assault, it was all over.  Every fighter-jet, missile, and laser simply disintegrated into thin air.  Nothing.  Nothing but a chill silence as we stood there, in complete awe.

So then it was their turn.

They told me they had numerous ways to evoke our extinction.  They had a weapon that could detect our thought-waves, hone in on the source, and then rupture that source with a deadly wave of its own.  They had armies of horrid creatures, tall as second-story buildings, with the agility of a panther and razor-sharp instruments that they could unleash upon our populations.  Their ships could send waves upon endless waves of multi-nuclear missiles down on us.  They even had a weapon that, with the press of a single button, could incinerate our entire planet, wiping it clean of all life.  But they also had time.  And beyond all their options of  "entertainment" available to them, what they really wanted to do was give us a message.  They wanted to give every single one of us that message.

They began with just one person.  Mia Candy was a popular anchorwoman.  She was right out there on the frontlines, reporting the latest events regarding our interstellar visitors, often from a tall sky-scraper in one city, or another.  But she happened to be standing on the White House lawn when they took her.  On live-television, during her daily report she dubbed the "Morning Midriff," Mia simply disappeared.  Thirty minutes later, amidst panic and harrowing screams, the camera jerked upwards and caught the last few seconds of the anchorwoman's life, as she came hurtling down into a revolting splatter upon the street below.

It seemed no one really knew how to process the horrific event.  Our visitors waited a few days afterwards, giving us time to brood with our fear, before they commenced their all-out assault on our human race.  By the droves, people from all walks of life were plucked from the earth, and held captive in those uncomfortably cold, metal chairs for the duration of their "message."  And then, without so much as a single sound, (save for that made by the captive), a large door would swing open from below, and the metal chair would then drop downward, like a massive hinge, depositing its occupant into a great fall through the vastness of our planet's atmosphere.

They did this day and night, and I remember asking myself which of those options would be the preferable one: knowing when your fall would end, or having it kept as some terrifying surprise.  Sometimes our bodies would hit hard surfaces such as concrete, and explode into a pink mist.  Other times they would land on marshes, or mudflats, and bounce a bit, like sacks of jello.  Their favorite, they told me--and this was when I first heard them shriek that cat-like laughter of theirs--was when we would detonate upon the surface of the ocean; fish-food dumped into gigantic aquariums.  Often times, several of their ships would come together over a largely populated area, and simultaneously rain thousands of people upon the ground.  The sky would grow dark from the falling bodies.

They communicated to us, or to me at least, telepathically.  Their words were spoken in my language, within my own mind.  They told me that although they could have easily eliminated all of our telecommunications, our satellites, our entire technology for that matter, they chose not to.  They eluded that such devices were harmless to them, yet would aid in delivering to us the intent of their message.  The message we would all eventually hear and see quite clearly, when they took us.

Of course we fell into wide-spread panic.  We fought amongst ourselves, gathered up food and water, and went into hiding wherever we could.  Some people fled into caves, but they didn't care.  They had a device that could probe seven miles into the earth's crust, and pick out the single heart-beat of any living creature. 

Our world leaders, what was left of them, took their refuge into those military bunkers built deep into the base of large mountains.  They told me, once again under the echo of that cat-like chuckle, that they were saving those persons for last; that they had a..."special message" for them.

I was in bed when it became my turn.  I had just woken up, looked over at my clock and saw that it was 6:37 a.m., when suddenly I was in their ship, miles above my home, and in that horrible, cold metal chair.  I was strapped down by my waist, as well as by all of my appendages.  Only my head was free to move, of which that it was certainly doing.  I frantically took in my surroundings, and for once I saw what they looked like.  There were five of them.  Tall and wispy, with white translucent skin, staring at me with those black orbs of theirs, full and bug-like.  They had no mouths, but without explanation, I knew they were smiling at me.  To my forefront was a large-screen monitor, showing a photograph of my face, along with various details about my life spelled out in green font.  I had the terrifying sensation that this was my judgment day.

Then they began their chatter.  In my head, I heard them speak amongst themselves.  Their language was as foreign to me as anyone could imagine, sort of click-like in substance, if I had to describe it.  But eventually they began to speak in a language I could comprehend, and this I understood, was the beginning of their "message".  They immediately told me that although the images shown upon the monitor could vary for each human, depending upon certain factors such as age, and cultural diversities, the given message was always no different: that we, like gravity...were one in the same.

I saw things that each of us had seen a thousand times before, through books, or television perhaps.  Images of war, the atrocities we threw at each other, the insidious nature of our race hacking its way through history; the same old dull-drudgery each of us have philosophized over at one point or another.  The burning down of rainforests; spoiling of our oceans; the pock-ridden landscapes of our earth; all in our ruthless quest for energy.  It was all there.

So what. It was nothing new to me.  But then they did something a little more interesting.  They started showing me real video scenes that, for the life of me, I could not ascertain how they acquired them.  Footage such as world leaders gathered around an enormous table, whispering amongst themselves.  I saw an odd video of Adolf Hitler, in his prime, crippled over with laughter, and a smiling Winston Churchill standing next to him.  From the backseat of a white station wagon, I witnessed in the rear-view mirror, the haunting stare of some deranged lunatic, watching those woman walk to their cars, alone in the night.  These were but a sample of the horrors they displayed before me on that enormous monitor.  Clear evidence of our rancid selves, and how we killed things, how we fought to impose our will, our wants upon each other.  We were relentless.  Insatiable.  Just like gravity.

They told me that gravity was the one constant in our universe that never ceased to change.  Always, it was in a perpetual state of hunger.  Day in, day out, millennium after millennium,  gravity was there...craving.  They laughed again, when they told me that that was the one secret our scientists saw, but failed to discover.  It was the final riddle to Quantum Physics; Einstein's missing link.

They drew this correlation between us and gravity before me, quite effectively I might add.  And with an unyielding grace, they also dismissed the arguments.  There never were such things as Democracy, or civilized nations. Capitalism?  Socialism?  It was all a huge farce, engineered by the smart ones, to organize the dumb ones into areas of disorganization.  To my surprise, they actually applauded those examples of Fascism, commenting that at least in those occurrences, there were those of us who acknowledged our true nature.

I tried to fight back.  I did what I'm sure most of us did--I screamed at them, cursing, refuting, shouting down their "message" with my own arguments.  What about love?  Peace?  We know these things!  They just laughed at me.  They heard it all before.

Love, in its truest form, was the unremitting desire to nurture others.  It was void of ego, and cared nothing for its source.  We, as a species, have failed to garner such emotion.  Few, if even any of our greatest spiritual leaders had successfully overcome this charge, because the very act of "serving the needs of others", fed into the needs of our own ego.  We felt good when we were helping people

This was not love.  This was the same feeling that ignited our differences, keeping us at each other's throats as we did.  It was the same feeling that held us intrigued over the tragedies of our fellow man.

Why so many television shows portraying the end of the world? they asked me.  This was because we as a species were quickly growing tired of our role as caregivers.  We were growing tired of our conception of love, and that our ego, like gravity, needed something much more.  It was because there was nothing remotely different from each of us.  That our desires, although varied by its material form, served the same purpose for that of our egos.  More money, more insults...they all came from the same point of origin.

Finally, they told me they had been watching us for thousands of years, and that they had eventually grown tired of our unruly charades.  They were anxious to get rid of us, and that yes, now it truly was the end of our world, as they had "other plans" for this planet.

They figured that since we shared so much of the same characteristics of gravity, it would only be most appropriate for them to feed us to the incessant hunger of that force.  And that during those last few minutes, as we fell to our deaths, we could think about whatever we cared to think about...but that they favored the notion that we would be pondering their message.

The monitor suddenly went black, as did the room I was in.  I realized with great terror that it was time.  I could see their faces, each of them staring at me with those greedy, bug-eyes.  And then, slick as grease, the bottom broke from underneath me, and I was falling.

I've never been so cold in my life.  The wind has shredded my clothes and stretched my skin into a frozen rigidness, making it difficult to take in a single breath.  My body is traveling very fast now, and I can see the landscape quickly materialize from under me.  I can see the shapes of objects, tiny buildings, trees, abandoned cars, all begin to take form with utmost clarity.  I can see all of these things, yet I certainly cannot see my entire life parade before my mind.  No; in fact, it has come to my dreadful attention that the last thing I will see, my final realization on this planet won't be the events of my life, nor the stark images of their message, but that before I head will seemingly clip the rooftop of a third-story parking garage.

Beginning at 5:00 AM, Chris spends the only available lot of solitary time he gets in a day for writing. If he's lucky, he'll get two hours in before "they" wake up, after which, he lives a wonderful life as a family man. For an entire year he wrote a weekly column pertaining to financial advice in a local publication, The Auburn Sentinel, but eventually grew tired of no one reading his work. Now he enjoys writing about the weird and fantastic, and has since had two of his short stories accepted for publishing.