Invasion Prologue
by Kimberly Raiser
forum: Invasion Prologue
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Invasion Prologue


        A fluorescent sky was still something that after all of these years seemed a challenge not to be surprised by. But at least we had a sky to look up to and admire for its beauty. Not a sky that brought us terror and fear. Though, it was the same sky.

        It had been nearly thirty years since the invasion. At times it seemed so distant. At times it felt like only moments had passed. Their ships stood imbedded like monoliths in the midst of our rebuilt cities, our lakes, and our backyards. Our children played around them and gloried in the triumph of their mothers and fathers, while we who remembered were drug riddled to suppress the nightmares that inflicted our slumber.

        When they came, it was quick and unrelenting. We were unprepared. We were overconfident. We were complacent. At last there was a species that showed less mercy upon us than ourselves. With forethought and an unbridled appetite for destruction they came, they destroyed, they humbled us.

        The age of terrorism took on a new meaning. It was no longer Osama Bin Laden we feared. We feared everything. The night most of all. They had come in the night. They had brought the night, covered the world in a shadow just before the attack.

        I used to be one of those kids that stayed up late on Saturday nights watching every scary movie that I could. "War of the Worlds", "Invaders from Mars", "Body Snatchers", all the old classics. I could hardly sleep at night. Now, those shows don't scare me anymore.

* * *

        "Sweetheart, you're going to be late for work." Ashley was making the kids breakfast. She was always watching the time for me.

        "I know, babe. I'm going now." I kissed her goodbye, pecked my kids on the head, and ran out the door.

        My wife had been born after the initial attack. Even though the thought frightened her, she had no memory of what it was like before. No memory of what true terror is. And it's funny. There are so many of us that have the same dreadful memories, the same nightmares, but still, it is personal. I still feel like, "It happened to me." I have to remind myself I'm not the only one, that I am only one.

        I walked out the front door, looked up at the sky, still amazed by the change. It's hard to look at it and say it is beautiful. In all actuality, it is. It's like multi-faceted diamonds reflecting the northern lights all the time. But when I look up, all it does is remind me why it is there and that the northern lights don't even exist anymore. It reminds me how expendable we all are, how so little we mean in the grand scheme of things. If there really is any meaning.

        I start my little Vectra up with the push of a button. Simple automobiles are what we drive now. Recycled cars from our past, part of the "Clean up". All the automotive plants had been destroyed during the invasion. The quickest things to produce after years and years of rebuilding were these little two-seaters that were really like glorified golf carts. It got you to where you needed to go. There were a few classics on the roads. Cars that hadn't been destroyed. The parts weren't easy to come by. We weren't exactly back to a booming economy like we had been during the turn of the century. It was going to take a long time to rebuild, but we were rebuilding.

        The drive wasn't far. We all tended to live pretty close to the rebuilding factories and medical centers now. Most people home-schooled their children in groups. Those of us with education were left to teach and lead in rebuilding. Basics were valued now, not simply purchased at the local Wal-Mart. There was no Wal-Mart. I always hated Wal-Mart. It never seemed like a place my mom wanted to go. She would avoid it like a vacant building on the outskirts. That is what I have to compare it to anyway. I was only ten the last time I was at a Wal-Mart.

        I pulled into my parking space. If it weren't for the orange sock puppet on my antenna, I don't think I could find my car coming back to the lot. They all looked the same. Except for the antennas. (People used to crave simplicity.) Each car had its own adornment. Green balls, red balls, fluffy balls, even a few SpongeBobs left from decades ago. A ballet in the wind on the top of antennas. Then I thought a minute. There was a time when radios had become satellite intercepted. It's crazy. Now we're lucky to have radio stations at all. But we do. The simple fact that we have overcome potential annihilation as a species, and have several radio stations in one area, is pretty incredible. They did not beat us. We survived, and we broadcast it.

        Technology has always been a primary drive for humans. These days, somewhat like in the past, most technology is focused on global defense. The world is finally a unified front. Although it is hardly considered peaceful. The world is now filled with "Primary Cities". Cities like the one I live in. The rest, unfocused on, were considered the "Outskirts". It is just like we used to imagine or see in movies. Post-apocalyptic societies. Abandoned buildings. People starving and stealing. Groups of fanatics frightened of their return. What else could we do, though? There had to be centralized re-construction. We had to start somewhere.

        I got out of my car and headed for the building. It was pretty basic construction. Logic ruled our lives for the present. Creativity took too long. We didn't need starving artists; there were too many starving doctors. Well, actually, doctors ate pretty well, since there were so few of them.

        The building was four stories tall, only stairs to get up. Kept us healthy, and it was easier to build. I worked on the fourth floor. I am the stair-climber.

        I had a good job. In today's world a good job meant something entirely new. It didn't mean a big salary. Money didn't mean much anymore. It was the quality that a person contributed to society that mattered. The service industry was gone. Being sheltered, fed and clothed was primary. People being healthy was primary. People helping people, that was primary. Survival was the objective.

* * *

        I entered my office and unlocked my locker. I removed the case from inside and replaced it with the one I carried in. I went to the door that led down. After climbing up the four flights of stairs, I was not finished. I then proceeded to take another set of stairs ten floors down. This is why I am called the "Stairclimber". Well, I call myself that, anyway. I finish my descent and walk through a large steel door.

        "Good morning, General."

        "Good morning, Lieutenant," I responded.

        "All is quiet."

        "Just the way we like it," I replied with a smile, and continued on to my actual office.

        I wore no uniform. I bore no resemblance to a military man. I looked as common a working man as anyone. It was necessary. Today's military had been broken into several distinct units. Perimeter Control of the planet, Street Sweepers, and Intelligence. The Street Sweepers kept people feeling safe. Whether we actually were was not at issue. We were never really safe, but we had to maintain an appearance if we wanted civilization to rebuild.

        It was a strange world we lived in. Those that were left to rebuild were not the same as the younger generation. It was obvious even at a mere glance. There was something behind a person's eyes that could identify them as being a survivor. Our new generation, like my wife, had grown up with parents that knew what true terror was. This generation was either shielded from the horror and taught to be strong and vigilant, or they were petrified of everything. In another time it would have been considered child abuse to make one's children fear to go outside, or play in the street, or sleep with one eye literally open. In today's world, it is too common a behavior to view this as abuse. It is one more obstacle for us to overcome. Our own psychosis.

        These groups of the paranoid lived outside the city in the Outskirts. They were pitied, and they were feared.

        I remember my parents talking about nuclear war and terrorist attacks. I remember being shuffled out of class on 911, and how frightened everyone was. That was nothing. I remember watching the new rendition of "War of the Worlds" in the theater, scary as hell. That was nothing. These things that came in the night did not die off after a few days of being exposed to our atmosphere. They were not destroyed by humans. Oh, we fought. We fought with everything we had, and we celebrate our victory every day. But we did not win. People forget. Most don't even realize the truth.

        We did not kill them all. They simply left. They left their fallen ships behind, and their destruction. They were not defeated. That is what was most frightening of all. They pulled together in one mass of force and vanished from our radar.

        I was aware of the truth. Not many people were. I lived with the terror of the memory—and the terror that they would be back.


End of Prologue




copyright 2007 Kimberly Raiser.

Kimberly Raiser has been published several times with Silverthought Press and continues to be a great fan of this endeavor. She is currently working on a compilation of shorts that will be in print in 2007 titled, "Stranded". Currently her work appears in the print magazine "Outercast", "Bewildering Stories",, and the antholigies of "Taj Mahal Review".

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