Asher Moore walked outside the morning after the attack. His parents would never see him again.
All communications were down so there were still no answers. The last image the Moore household witnessed on television before all went black was the footage shown over and over of the mysterious metallic cylinders falling from the sky.
There was no mother ship, or any kind of vessel for that matter, visible via microscopes, lenses, or satellites, so the origin of the cylinders was unknown.
The Moores did hear about an hour of news on the radio before that media source went dead as well. First-hand accounts of the opening of some of the cylinders. Nothing was alive inside according to these news flashes. They merely discharged either a noxious gas within a pale green mist, or thick green gelatinous ooze.
That was all they knew.
Greg Moore tried to convince his family to stay inside. They had seen other people and some animals walking outside apparently unharmed by the cylinders’ emissions.
“Maybe it takes a while to harm us,” he pleaded with his wife, Rhonda.
His fifteen year old son Asher responded. “Come on, Dad. It’s not like this house is hermetically sealed or anything. If that gas is toxic, it’s in here too.”
“He has a point, Greg,” Rhonda said.
“Rhonda, what if you go out there and everyone wigs out or something. I forbid it.”
The next few hours passed with incredible boredom. Rhonda thumbed through magazines and Greg paced the length of the house mumbling incoherent theories of what action should be taken. Asher sat and stewed with nervous energy. Without cable television, his Wii, or a working DVD player, he had no options left. He was a child of the Twenty First Century—all his stimulation came from electronic devices. Gadgets run by batteries did not work either this morning. So, no iPod, no Kindle either. Whatever else these aliens were up to, they had taken communications back more than a hundred years.
This profound ennui led Asher to sneak out as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Mom was in the bathroom and Dad was fiddling with the radio in one of the bedrooms and Asher was gone.
Nobody was around as he walked down the street to his best friend Jack’s house. He wondered if Jack and his family were okay. Jack would certainly want to venture out into the world after the attack to see what was going on.
The first thing Asher noticed upon reaching Jack’s house was the front door was open. This was a decent neighborhood but nobody was comfortable enough with its security to leave their door open. Peering inside as he slowly approached, he could see the place was ruined. Furniture was strewn about and debris littered the floors.
This does not look good at all, he thought as he reached the doorway.
Pale green mist wisped through the living room. Asher retched at the stench of the gas the mist carried. Like sulfur mixed with piss, he gagged. In the middle of the floor was a gaping pit, covering the expanse of the living room, kitchen and dining room. The hole looked like it was formed from beneath the house upwards. It seemed to have ripped through walls and furniture with little effort.
Ten large tentacles slithered out from the pit as though searching for prey. Asher gasped as he took a few steps forward to look down inside the pit.
“Jack?” He called out. “Mister and Missis Fenster?” There was no human response, but his voice increased the intensity of movement among the tentacles.
“Shit!” Asher was unsure whether to look further for his friend or just get the Hell out of there.
He did not have a second longer to ponder that decision. One of the tentacles wrapped around him and drew him down into the pit with incredible speed.
Thoughts raced through his mind. How could this thing have formed from gas and that disgusting gelatin over night? Or did this monster descend on the world after the cylinders? When the world was dark and silent. Pain racked his body as the tentacle squeezed with tremendous power. Beneath the floor he saw an endless mass of slimy flesh and more of the gelatin which carried the same rancid odor as the mist above. The tentacle thrust Asher into a small opening in the body of the creature. He was stuffed in so tightly he became one with the monster.
Asher cried out to his family and Jack’s in vain. No answer at all.
At least my death will be quick down here. Who knows what’s in store up above now.
But Asher would soon learn the naiveté of that assertion.
Centuries passed in the belly of the beast as it stretched out and grew, adding many more humans and fellow creatures to its hideous construction. Asher would feel his life draining out, certain his death was imminent, and then feel inexplicably re-energized through some osmosis from the alien flesh surrounding him. This process continued without end.
It’s like I’m a rechargeable battery. An energy source for this vile thing.
Pain came in waves as did the constant torture of the extraordinary cycle of exhaustion and rejuvenation. Apparently this was his eternity now, to meld with this beast. His flesh was slowly dissolving and being replaced by a skin more like that of his captor. How long will it be before I am not even recognizable as “human”?
Though he never saw his family or Jack again, many humans were stuck into this festering Hell around him. They cried for their loved ones but this monster did not seem to know pity or remorse.
It merely used them to survive.
© George Wilhite
George Wilhite is the author of the fiction collection On the Verge of Madness. He has published numerous stories in magazines, anthologies and online and serves as editor for Static Movement anthologies. You can learn more about Wilhite at www.authorsden.com/georgewilhite.
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