They’ve Come (Flash Fiction)

He doesn’t know it yet, but they’ve come.

For him.

For you.

For us all.

His was simply the first, as it must be in such events. There’s always the initial casualty. There’s always the nameless, unknown, never-recognized victim that is buried by the tragic history of catastrophe. No book will record his name. No tenacious documentarian will capture his story for the world to see. It’s unfortunate.

And irrelevant.

There was nothing unusual about the night. American Football and four beers. It would have been three, but the fourth helps when it comes time to wash down defeat. Last second field goals can be real heart breakers. But he was a reasonable fellow, a fan but not fanatic. You win some; you lose some. He knows he isn’t getting a check from the team. His role is less than substantial when coming from the couch in his living room. He wore his jersey though. He’s not without team pride even if he watches the game alone.

Besides, there’s work in the morning. The start of another week. So it’s a quick shower and probably a shave so that he can sleep in a little later on Monday morning. He didn’t even bother making a lunch. He’ll go out instead. Consider it a little treat to help get over that defeat. After all, it was a divisional game.

Anyway.

Lights out. Get in bed. The beer is working its magic, but the neighbor’s dog is barking again. There’s something not right about that mutt. And how the hell can the owners put up with it? If he can hear that noise from three houses down, why can’t they?

He closes his eyes. The room is dark and still and interrupted (by barking) quiet. His body soaks into the mattress like wet sand sinks into the coastline. Already, his mind is detaching and relenting to the unconscious state. Nonsensical thoughts flicker in hopes of creating a dream. Just give it a little more time.

That’s when there’s a flash in his room. A bright one.

He’s almost alseep but he knows he saw something and he knows it was bright because whatever it was he saw it through his drowsy state and closed eyelids. There was a flash out there in that dark and still and interrupted (by barking) quiet.

So he opens his eyes.

And there they are. They’ve come.

His reaction is one you’d expect: a startled yell, but it’s not allowed. The moment his lips part and his airways push oxygen two large knuckles are in his mouth and down his throat and his yell is quite literally held prisoner in his chest.

He’s surprised now. Of course. I said before he’s a reasonable fellow. If you could ask him, and if he could somehow answer, he’d say they seemed angry, but it’s hard to imagine why. They’ve come and they’ve captured him, and with that they’ve found another chance at studying humanoids. Any practicing scientist would rejoice at the opportunity for more study. Maybe their job is remedial. Maybe what they do, while somewhat glamorous in our eyes, is something on the order of community service where they come from.

Hard to say.

But now there’s another light. It’s not a flash. It’s a sustained flickering, and it’s design is fairly simple. It bombards the brain with stimulation. Even when his eyes close, the signal taken in by the retina remains. It can’t be stopped.

He forgets about the scream still captured in his chest and the two long fingers that hold it there. He forgets about the bitter-salt taste on his tongue from alien flesh. He forgets the tooth broken by alien knuckles and his jaw forced open. Forgets the blood in his mouth. He forgets shame as he soils himself. He forgets horror.

He forgets his name.

He forgets all of these things while his brain is reduced to a flickering signal of bombarding light.

They’ve come. And now they’re taking him away.

They always come in the same way, in the darkness, in that odd state that forms just before sleep takes its place when your eyes are closed and you’re drifting off to some random place.

They’ve come.

Sleep tight.

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