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Science Fiction Thriller Horror

This story contains sensitive content

Trigger warning: Swearing. Descriptions of violence, death, mention of suicide and the end of the world.


I hadn’t even finished my breakfast at the diner when my whole life, the whole world, changed. Sometimes I wonder if I did actually die that day and the past twelve months have been my own personal hell. Especially on days like this. When the screaming goes silent and there’s just that clicking. That incessant, aggravating clicking. I’m not gonna miss that.

Man, I would give everything, every last thing I have, to relive one single moment of my life before. Even a boring one, like eating at that diner. Sipping my coffee after a long night shift. Thinking my bullshit thoughts about stuff I thought was important. Stuff I thought was scary. Like being behind on my mortgage payment. I remember I was shitting my pants about that. I could laugh now, if it wasn’t all so damn pointless. I had no idea what being really scared was. What true terror was. Do now though.


The news was on, I remember. The waitress… what was her name? Karen? Kelly? I can’t believe I don’t remember her name. I was working up to asking her out for months before it happened. I don’t know if she made it past that day. Probably not. I always presume people are dead. Haven’t been wrong so far. Anyway, she was sneaking me extra coffee for free and smiling her beautiful smile when she looked up over my shoulder. The sky outside got real dark and I thought a cloud had covered the sun. Then I saw her face. 

There was this God awful crash, I mean like an explosion, outside and the ground shook. Spilled hot coffee all over my pants. Meanwhile Kelly starts screaming and runs out the back. The rest of us just stared out the window.


They called them pods at first. Because they looked like giant seed pods. Just, as big as a house. Oval, with sharp points at both ends. So sharp. And black. Like the deepest black you’ve ever seen. Nothing on earth could be this dark. It ate the light. 

They rained down, billions of them, all around the world. One had landed right there in the car park across the street from the diner. Went right through a couple of cars and the concrete below, no problem. The sharp points at the end helped pearce the earth like it was butter. Some fell in soil or sand and got completely buried. It didn’t matter, the effect was still the same. 


They couldn’t be moved, not that you’d want to touch one. Although some did. They were the first to go. Bit of natural selection there. A giant hunk of metal falls out of the sky and lands in your backyard and you go out and touch it? Fucking idiots. Didn't deserve what it got them though. The radiation these things let out…we call it radiation, but that’s just a human word. No one knows what comes off those things. Anyway, it burns the skin off anything that touches it. We saw a guy in the car park across from the diner start screaming like he was on fire, then drop dead. Someone called an ambulance (that wasn't coming). I just ran.


The pods were just the beginning. The radiation killed all the mammals. Just the mammals. (Humans are mammals.) Everything else they wanted to keep as food. It also made it easier for them to breathe in our atmosphere. They arrived three months later, in big… ships isn't the right word. You would think we’d come up with a name for them, but we didn’t have time. So we just call them whatever. Aliens, things, motherfuckers. Whatever. They don’t much care what we call them, they just want us gone, eradicated, so they can take our world. 

It's hard to describe them with human words. We just don’t have the language. Something between an insect and a fish maybe? Some people think they look like birds. Big though, twice the size of us. And ugly. So fucking ugly. With long throats that make those incessant clicking noises at each other. Can’t stand that clicking.


When the pods arrived I was one of the lucky ones. It wasn’t safe to go back to my apartment block. Turned out one of those pods had landed on the roof, drilled down three floors. I can still see the people, my neighbors, hanging out the windows, screaming. I ran with the others and eventually ended up at the store where I worked security. Sure, there was looting going on, lots of it, but when they were gone I set up in the cleaning closet at the back. Best move I made. There are these areas, Goldilocks Zones I call them, that are kind of in between two pods but far enough away from each of them so you don’t get killed by the radiation. My store’s in one of those zones. It used to be a fancy designer boutique. You know, that had things we thought were important, valuable. With purses that cost the same as a house ‘cause they're made of alligators or whatever. Again, I could laugh. I’ve seen a man punch through the glass of my store just to see if he could eat the leather on the bags. Food’s pretty scarce now. Don’t know if it worked out for him. I had other problems at the time. 


The aliens don't like coming into Goldilocks Zones because they can’t breathe properly. Except to kill us. They turn up in teams of two to track us down and exterminate us. Like rats. This morning two of them came down my street, clicking at each other, their weapons floating behind them. That fucking clicking woke me up. I don’t think I’ve slept more than two hours at a time since the beginning. That’s something else I miss. I opened my closet door just a crack and saw them through the broken glass of my store. They stopped and looked real intently in my direction. I froze. This was it.

I was about to bust through the door and book it out the back when I heard this noise from down the street. The two fuckers looked up. Someone else was making a run for it, knocking over old trash cans or something. They shot off after them, weapons following. I still had to run, I knew they'd come back. 


I made it out the back door and down the alley. Through the breaks in the buildings I could see them chasing some guy on the street. He didn’t have a hope in hell. Kept stumbling over and getting back up. He’d obviously been drinking. Only drink alcohol if you want to die. The aliens love it. It’s like they can smell it in our bodies. Lights you up like a Christmas tree from the inside out. Having said that, I've seen people down a bottle on purpose just to make their time come faster. 

Fair enough. 

This guy must have drowned his sorrows this morning and brought them here, they could smell him. He stumbled over again, falling onto the concrete and lay on the ground, whimpering. The two fuckers stood over him, weapons charging.

“Please!” he yelled.

That’s not gonna help man.

Then, out of nowhere, this guy lifts his head and looks directly down the alley where I’m standing. Straight at me. Like he could sense another set of human eyes on him.

“Help me!” he yelled.

Sorry pal, you signed your own death warrant. I ran. One of the fuckers turned around and saw me.

“Bitch!” I heard the guy screech at me as I sprinted down another alley.

Then he just screamed as the weapons sliced him to pieces.


I ran as fast as I could but one of them was hooked onto my scent. I glanced behind me and saw that it didn’t have its weapon. For one glorious moment I thought that maybe I had a fighting chance. Wrong.

It was just pushing me forward, like a rat in a maze and when I turned the corner into the next alley I ran full force into a long, sharp spike. The other alien had been waiting for me. Impaling me on one of its… arms I guess you could call them. They didn't even bother to slice me up. Just left me where I dropped and went on to the next kill. The one that chased me stepped in my blood as it walked past, splashing my face. 


The pain is gone now. Can’t feel anything. I don't know if I’m gonna get to that nice place the Bible talks about. Not with the things I’ve done to survive. I never hurt a kid though. Or anyone that couldn’t defend themselves. Maybe that’ll help.

Like I said before, the Lord cant send me to hell. He’s already done that. Maybe I can go to that place that’s in the middle, what’s it called? Purgatory. Yeah, purgatory. At least then I might get some peace and quiet.  


Maybe I’ll even get some…sleep.


September 06, 2022 02:57

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11 comments

Susan Catucci
16:03 Sep 15, 2022

Your story felt more and more familiar to me as I read, and it came to me that I have had dreams that had accompanying feelings of dread and doom and being pursued that were difficult to shake off upon awakening. But I was always grateful that it was only a dream. Put it this way, I'm glad this was only a story! (Right?)

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Mel Dingwall
23:05 Sep 15, 2022

Wonderful comment, thanks Susan! I’m so glad the sense of dread and doom came through…

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Graham Kinross
12:56 Sep 15, 2022

The characterisation here is really strong. We know his motivations, even if he doesn't. We can empathise and imagine how intense his life is in that world.

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Mel Dingwall
23:06 Sep 15, 2022

Thanks Graham, I’ve been working on deepening my characters so that’s great feedback!

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Graham Kinross
23:41 Sep 15, 2022

You’re welcome. Great story.

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Michał Przywara
20:57 Sep 13, 2022

I like the differences in his priorities, like what he's afraid of. It used to be mortgages, back when we all lived in our happy little world, but everything changed after the invasion. Civilization and all its stresses vanished, and he experiences more primal fears like being hunted. It sounds like he's been living like this for a while - three months with just the pods, then more time with the aliens. I wonder how he survived all that time in his hiding place? I'm picturing raids for food, probably some nasty encounters with other surviv...

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Mel Dingwall
21:19 Sep 13, 2022

Thanks Michal, you’ve touched on a lot of elements I wanted to come through in the story but I was limited by the word count - so that’s some really useful feedback!

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Marty B
19:00 Sep 13, 2022

Good first line! Made me want to keep reading!

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Mel Dingwall
21:16 Sep 13, 2022

Thanks Marty, I’ve been working on my ‘hooks’ for first lines, so that great feedback!

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Wendy M
20:48 Sep 11, 2022

wow, great story and interesting interpretation of the brief, well done

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Mel Dingwall
01:03 Sep 12, 2022

Thanks Wendy, I really appreciate your feedback!

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