Still not EMO, despite being locked in basement by evil clone. I hate it when that happens. Discouraged the EMOs briefly by singing carols.
This is by our old friend, Gertrude, to finish off the guest author series.
“Are you an alien?” Patrick asked, as bluntly as he could.
The man gazed at him calmly. He seemed to be considering his answer.
“Yes, Patrick,” he finally said. “Everyone on this ship is an alien.”
Patrick tried not to show it, but, even after all that he had seen, this admission still chilled him to the bone.
He looked closely at the man seated across from him.
He perfectly resembled the stereotypical psychiatrist, with his neatly clipped beard, receding hairline and big, unblinking eyes.
There was something vaguely unsettling about him, but he was still by far the most human thing that Patrick had seen in the hours since he had woken to find himself in this small white cube of a room. He still had to fight his feelings of claustrophobia as he looked at the smooth featureless walls, unbroken by any visible means of entry or exit.
This strange man had finally entered by somehow stepping through the walls themselves.
“Then why don’t you look like the others?” Patrick asked.
The man extended an arm. It slowly dissolved into the fleshy, writhing tentacles that his captors seemed to consist of.
“We are natural shapeshifters, Patrick. I thought I would make you feel more comfortable. You seemed to find our natural appearance… disturbing”
The tentacles changed back into an arm.
“Why are you here?” Patrick asked, trying to keep the hysteria out of his voice.
“I just want to talk to you” the man replied.
“No, I mean here on this planet.” He paused to gather strength to ask the ridiculous, terrifying question that had haunted him for hours.
“Are you going to invade?” he asked.
The man stared at him levelly. “Would it make you uncomfortable if were to say yes?” he asked.
“YES!” Patrick shouted.
The other just sat there calmly.
“You’ll fail,” Patrick growled, struggling to sound convincing even to himself. “We’ll fight back! We’re stronger than you think!”
“No, Patrick,” the man said quietly. “Our agents have already infiltrated all levels of Earth society. When the time comes, the battle will be over long before any human knows that it has even begun.”
Patrick wasn’t sure if he was more horrified by the words or the total tranquillity with which they were spoken.
The man suddenly opened his mouth and a series of hissing, liquid sounds spilled out.
Patrick flinched. He was about to ask what it meant when he noticed that the man’s huge, dark eyes were no longer quite pointed at him.
He spun around.
One of the aliens had entered silently and was standing directly behind him.
He leapt up and pressed his back firmly against the wall. “What’s happening?” he demanded, his voice shaking. “Who is this?”
The man made a soothing noise. “I was hoping that you might let my friend sit in on our little chat.”
Patrick forced himself to look over at it. It was hideous – like a man-sized bush made from hundreds of writhing, throbbing tentacles. He noticed that this one had an unusually long, pale tentacle, no thicker than a walking stick, growing from where its head should have been. It was thrashing back and forth wildly, and its excitement increased even more the moment that he looked at it.
Patrick shook his head furiously. “No! I don’t even want you here. I certainly don’t want that.”
The man seemed somehow disappointed. He said something more in that strange, flowing language.
The monster stood there for a moment, suddenly going still everywhere except for its excited head tentacle. It slowly turned to leave, the wall rippling as it crawled through it.
Patrick had the strange feeling that he had upset it.
“Well, if we can continue…” the man said smoothly. “What can you tell me about your mother?”
Patrick blinked in disbelief. He refused to believe that he was being held captive by the alien Sigmund Freud.
The man was as serene as always. “Would you prefer to discuss your childhood?” he asked.
Patrick put back his head and laughed hysterically.
The man seemed totally unfazed. “What would you like to discuss?” he asked.
Patrick looked at him, a million obscene responses buzzing in his head, but then he remembered the one thing that he actually did want to talk about.
“How about how you kidnapped me? How about that? How about how you killed my friends? Why don’t we have a nice ‘chat’ about that?” he glared.
“Certainly,” the man replied. He seemed almost pleased. “But first, please come and sit back down.”
Patrick was about to refuse when his interrogator suddenly continued. “Remember that that’s not just a wall, it’s also a door.”
Patrick had an abrupt vision of one of the creatures unexpectedly pressing through behind him.
He sat back down.
“Tell me, what do you remember about last night?” the man asked.
Patrick snarled. The memory was hazy, but the relevant details were all there.
He could remember walking with his friends, Steve and Harry, talking and laughing. They were in the middle of nowhere, walking towards the car that would take them back to civilisation. He remembered that there was someone waiting for them in the car, sitting behind the wheel. He couldn’t remember who.
They were almost there when it happened.
He remembered the sudden noise.
He remembered turning.
He remembered seeing the ship.
He remembered running.
He remembered the blind terror.
The memory was fragmented, vague. He couldn’t recall…
And then one final nightmare image came to him.
He remembered Steve, lying on his back. His glassy eyes were staring blindly off into space. Most of his head had been blown away. A constant geyser of blood was spewing from his mouth…
Patrick passed out.
The man was leaning over him.
“You fainted,” he observed casually.
Patrick tried desperately to lift himself from where he was sprawled across the floor. He eventually managed to half-sit, panting and nauseous with the exertion.
“Do you wish to discuss your recollections?” the man asked.
Patrick stared up at him with searing hate. “No, I don’t,” he hissed. “You know what happened; you were there. All of you murdering monsters were there.”
He tried to sit up more, never shifting his gaze from his captor’s face.
“What is the point of all this? Why don’t you just kill me too and get it over with?”
The man’s face was as rigid and expressionless as a mask.
Patrick finally managed to fight his way to his feet, leaning heavily against one wall.
“I don’t know what you want from me, but you’re not going to get it. So you can just go now, because I’m not going to say another thing.”
He stood there unsteadily, trying to look much stronger than he felt.
The man continued to give him his calm, blank stare. Patrick did his best to return it, his anger for the moment overruling his terror.
The man finally gave a little nod. “I see that we will have to try a different approach,” he said, then turned and melted his way through the wall and out of the room.
Patrick collapsed heavily. He felt that he had won a victory of some sort, but couldn’t help feeling that it would likely be short lived.
Hours passed as he laid there.
He tried to come to terms with his imminent death. He knew about the aliens, about their plans, there was no way that they could let him go now.
Sobbing quietly, he thought once again of his wife.
They were just about to have a baby.
Before he had left he had promised her that he would stay safe, that he would return to her, no matter what.
Patrick glanced up.
Something was happening to the opposite wall.
A section of it was opening up like a flower, its centre slowly growing more and more transparent. It was becoming a window.
Patrick looked through it in disbelief.
On the other side was the creature that had wanted to listen in on the earlier conversation. The weird little tentacle on its head had begun to writhe with excitement the moment that he had become visible.
Patrick stared at the monstrosity on the other side of the glass, hating it.
How dare it take him away from his wife and child.
What was its bizarre fascination with him? He sat for a long time, imagining all of the things that he would like to do to it if he only got the chance.
Finally, just as he was dozing off, the man returned.
This time he wasn’t alone.
Walking in behind him were two heavily built companions. All three stopped and stared at him with identical expressions on their bland faces.
Patrick quickly realised that these new arrivals were aliens also.
All of his attempts at struggle were unsuccessful. Soon, each of his arms was being securely held by one of the beefy aliens and, at his interrogator’s orders, he was bundled out through the wall and into the body of the ship.
Patrick found passing through the walls a profoundly unpleasant experience. He could feel their warm, pulsing substance pressing itself thickly against him as he somehow slipped through to the other side. He always emerged gasping for breath.
The ship’s interior was a profound disappointment. It seemed to consist purely of featureless white rooms and corridors of varying sizes. As he was forced down a particularly long corridor, he was suddenly struck by a strange sense of familiarity – then he realised that he had most likely been taken to his cell via the same route. He still had no recollection of it, though.
Finally, they passed through one last wall and into the sunlight.
Patrick gasped in disbelief.
The ship had returned to the exact spot where it had picked him up.
He was lead down the ramp and onto the ground. Patrick wanted to throw himself to his knees and kiss it, but he was still being heavily restrained.
Then they all stopped.
After a few long moments, Patrick glanced over at his former interrogator, vainly hoping to read some faint trace of intention on his face.
He just stared back, blank as ever.
And then Patrick realised why they had brought him here.
They were going to kill him.
His disappearance must have been noticed. But it would no longer be a mystery when his body was eventually found lying not far from here, showing the signs, no doubt, of some perfectly ordinary demise.
The three all slowly turned to face him. They seemed to be expecting something from him.
Patrick tried to return their stares unafraid. He wasn’t entirely successful.
But then, over to their left, there came a sudden, sharp sound.
With lightning speed, the three turned towards it. Worried, evidently, that someone else had seen their craft land and was hiding nearby.
Patrick was unimpressed. He knew that it was most likely a rabbit or something similar, and besides, he was just about to die.
His two guards stretched their necks out to get a better look at the place where the sound had come from.
They seemed awfully distracted.
Realising his chance, Patrick wrenched himself free of their grasp. With the superhuman strength borne of pure adrenalin, he shoved one and sent him stumbling back against the other.
And then he ran.
He heard the sudden cry of “Stop him! Bring him back!” from behind him, but his attention was only on what lay in front of him.
He had never run that fast before, his legs moved in a way that he wouldn’t have believed humanly possible. He felt himself cut through the air, his flight powered by pure, liquid terror.
Just like last night.
His feet pounding against the ground, not knowing how close his pursuers were behind him, he ran, desperately, madly dashing for safety, for his wife…
He felt a sudden cold stab in the pit of his stomach and knew that he had just passed the spot where Steve and Harry had died. Looking ahead, he could see exactly where the car had been parked, and just over there was that thick, dark bush where…
Suddenly it all came back to him.
He remembered how he had been walking along, Steve and Harry by his side. He’d been mid-sentence when he’d heard that loud, fear-crazed shout.
The first volley had immediately killed the driver of the car and blown the windows into thousands of glistening fragments of glass.
They had barely had time to react before they came under fire.
Harry had been closest and had died immediately.
Steve had tried to run, but had only been able to take two sprinting steps before he too was cut down.
And he remembered, suddenly remembered, how their attacker had leapt out from behind the bush, screaming, machine gun blazing.
He remembered how, in that one indescribably horrible second before half of his head had exploded into burning oblivion, how he had desperately, madly, tried to throw himself ahead, to safety, into the ship…
Patrick skidded to a stop.
For just a brief moment, he stood there, staring off into the horizon.
Then, slowly, he lifted his forearm to his eyes and, watching carefully, felt the familiar sting as he dissolved it back into its component tentacles.
He remembered his years of undercover work on Earth, imitating the natives so closely, so carefully, that he’d almost managed to convince even himself that he was…
He suddenly realised how beautiful his wife had looked when she had interrupted his conversation with the ship’s doctor.
And his son! He had grown so much! Soon he would be able to detach from her and begin his own life.
He had been so excited – Patrick hoped that he would understand why he hadn’t recognised him.
The heavy footsteps came to a halt behind him.
For a moment there was silence, then the doctor’s voice began. “We don’t know how the human got word of our rendezvous point,” he said. “But his attack was more effective than we would have expected. By the time the ship’s emitters could be brought to bear…”
Patrick suddenly noticed a large burn mark on the ground.
The doctor paused sorrowfully. “We were too late for your companions, but we did manage to restore you.”
Patrick nodded slightly, still staring off into the horizon.
Then – after taking one long last look at the beautiful world that would soon be theirs – he turned and began walking back towards his ship.