Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
It was cold the night it happened. The air was heavy with a thick fog, the likes of what I’ve never seen before. It felt unfamiliar and foreign and it burned my lungs a little. I took a deep breath, new smells I had never experienced before wafting into my nose across the breeze. The word “alien” came to mind and I gave a little involuntary shiver. I turned around in the doorway to find my two little ones staring at me with eyes as big as the stars in the sky, their faces filled with fear. No doubt all of the commotion and noise had roused them from their beds. I managed a little smile.
“Don’t worry, my loves. I’m sure everything is fine. Go on and fetch your mother.”
I watched them scurry further inside. As soon as they left my field of vision, my frown returned. What was that out there?
Across the wide field that stretched in front of me, through the fog, I could see lights where there hadn’t been any moments before. I couldn’t say that I really believed in the supernatural, but even I had to admit that lights didn’t just appear in the middle of a field at night out of thin air.
“Darling?” a soft voice warbled from behind me. I turned to find my wife clutching the hands of our children, worry etched onto her face.
I reached for her and stroked her head reassuringly.
“Nothing to worry about,” I said with a toothy grin at the three of them. “I’ll just go and check it out in the morning.”
As I was closing the door, Rocket, our beloved family pet, dashed in-between my legs and shot outside.
“Rocket!” my children cried.
“Damn creature!” I cursed. “Rocket, get back here!” But he didn’t heed my yells.
“Daddy, you have to go get him!” my youngest wailed.
I knew I couldn’t leave him to fend for himself out there. He was such a stupid little thing. He wouldn’t last 10 minutes on his own. But he was just as fast as he was dumb. I already couldn’t see him through the tall crops in the field.
Cursing mentally, I grabbed my jacket and a light. I hoped Rocket could telepathically hear me saying how sorry he was going to be when I got a hold of him.
I was about to step outside when my wife’s arm shot out and grabbed mine.
“Don’t you think you should take your gun?”
“My gun?” I replied. “Really, my dear, what do you expect me to find out there?” If only I had known then what horrors lay in the dark, I would have heeded her suggestion.
With another deep breath I stepped out into the night. After just a few feet I could no longer see my family in the doorway, nor the lights across the field. I walked forward in a straight line, pausing every few steps to see if I could hear Rocket making any noise.
I was startled by a sudden rustling behind me. I whipped around and lifted my light towards the noise. “Rocket?” I whispered.
I exhaled loudly when the face of my eldest child poked through the stalks. I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding my breath.
“What are you doing out here?” I demanded angrily.
He looked up at me sheepishly. “I just wanted to help you find Rocket.”
My anger flared briefly, but subsided when I looked down into his face. He looked genuinely sorry. I could see that his worry for his pet was overcoming his fear of what was out in this field. “Ok,” I said, reaching down to take his hand. “But you stick right by me. Don’t run off, or I may lose you, too.”
We walked for another few minutes, calling out for Rocket every once in awhile, but we neither saw nor heard him. I was about to call it quits when we heard a loud bang and then Rocket’s distinct howl come from far to our right.
“That didn’t sound right, Daddy,” my son said, worriedly. And he was right. It didn’t. Rocket sounded like he was terrified and in pain. I hoisted my son up into my arms and started to run towards where we had heard his cry come from.
After running for a few minutes, we burst into a wide section of field that had been cleared. It struck me for one second how it was strange that just this section of field was cleared, but that thought was quickly erased when I saw Rocket. He lay in the middle of the clearing, whimpering. We rushed to him, but as soon as we got there, I could see it was too late. Poor Rocket had been hit with something. I had no idea what, but he was covered in tons of deep wounds. I pushed my son, who was now sobbing, away from the scene. I couldn’t have him see this.
I lifted Rocket into my arms, his blood spilling down my front. He gave me a little cry and that was it. I saw the life leave his eyes. I gently laid him back down and stood up, suddenly very aware that it was clearly not a good idea for my son and I to be out here in the dark.
“We need to go back,” I said in a harsh whisper, still looking down at Rocket. But my son didn’t respond. I looked up to find him staring off into the crops, wide-eyed and terrified. I turned my attention to where he was staring and felt my heart leap out of my throat.
Standing at the edge of the clearing, not even 20 feet from us, were three of the most hideous creatures I have ever seen. They were tall, thin, and so pale I swear I could almost see their insides. Almost entirely hairless, they were the very embodiment of the extraterrestrials I had seen in cartoons as a child. They wore odd garments and carried long weapons, the likes of which I had never seen before. The longer I stared at the hate and malice in their eyes, the harder it became to breathe. None of us moved for a minute, the tension mounting by the second. Finally, I reached forward to grab my son, but he was frozen, just out of reach. I stepped forward to pull him back to my side but when I moved, the tallest of the three shouted loudly at me.
“I-I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I don’t understand.”
At the sound of my voice, the tallest raised his weapon over his head and screamed. His screams riled up the other two until all three were making a racket louder than I could have thought possible from three beings.
I had no idea what to do. They were yelling at us in a language I had never heard before and couldn’t understand. And then, before I could even comprehend what was happening, they had leveled their weapons at my son and fired. He was thrown backwards with an insane amount of force. I cried out and rushed to his side. Much like Rocket, he had been shot through. Sobbing, I scooped him up and ran as fast as I could back into the field. I could hear whatever their weapons were firing whizzing past my head as I ran. Tears clouded my vision as I raced back towards my wife and youngest child. It felt like I was taking too long to get back to them. Panic pushed me to run even faster.
When I finally got back, the door was wide open. I staggered inside, yelling for my wife. I started to tend to my son, still calling for her and my other child. I raced into the room where we kept the medical supplies but when I got there, I could only fall to my knees in disbelief. There lay my beautiful mate in a pool of blood, with my now headless child clutched in her arms. They had been slaughtered. There was no other word for it. I wailed in an anguish I have never felt before. How had this night gone so wrong so quickly?
Suddenly remembering my other child, barely clinging to life in the other room, I lept up to go back to his aid. But just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did.
Turning the corner, I saw the aliens from the field standing in my doorway, plus two others who must have been lurking inside. They were gripping my son by his neck, dangling him in front of me. One of them raised a blade and slid it straight into his chest. He let out one last gurgle and then went limp. The alien holding him dropped him and turned to me. He pointed the blade at me, and at that moment, I didn’t need to speak his language. I knew that he meant that I was next. For one single moment, I welcomed death. How could I keep living without my family? In slow motion, I watched the five of them come at me. Saw their cruel, twisted, ugly features advancing. Heard the blades whooshing through the air as they came down. Felt their cold stings as they sliced into my flesh. But then I realized, I couldn’t just give up without warning others of these beings. These murderous creatures who felt no compassion for anyone or anything. I had to alert the rest of the population of what existed out there in deep space.
I felt a surge of strength as I lept up. I struck the creature closest to the door and somehow made it outside. I ran as far as I possibly could before my lungs gave out and I succumbed to the blood loss. I managed to make it out of the field into a wooded area.
So here I lay. It has been two days that I’ve been here, awaiting death. Making this, what will be my final transmission, to send back to my home planet of Sonaruk. On the 100th day of Gleebar, year 5,060, my ship’s engines began to fail. I thought I might be able to make it to the next galaxy, but it soon became clear that I would have to make an emergency landing. I chose Earth. And I chose wrong. The stories of Earth are all true, my fellow countrymen. There are aliens here, and they are hostile. Do not attempt to stop here for any reason. Send out my transmission to as many planets as possible. These creatures are better left alone, and in dark about any other life forms out there. We must never attempt to make further contact with them. In my short interaction with them here, I have seen that no good can come of it.
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