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Contemporary Science Fiction

News of the alien invasion had dominated the news around here for several days, but Oscar and Nicole saw no option but at least to try.

Nicole already had lost two cousins to the inhumans’ violence in their town two states away, and there was little reason to believe there would be much mercy or humanity when they reached their destination. They controlled the water and food supplies, battling and battering the resistance. They apparently had been bred to hate the humans who ventured into their appropriated territory, and had no hesitation in taking babies and children to emphasize the totality of their conquest. Their ability to saturate both river and desert, and their indifferent savagery toward their prey, filled Oscar with a dread he dared not share with his wife, who was carrying something far more valuable than her mother’s Bible and the supplies she required to safeguard the incubating life inside her.

Beyond the good people who at considerable risk had stashed provisions along the way, there were the profiteers, the opportunists, who preyed on the reported invasion, on the desperation of innocents. Oscar had resisted the temptation to throw in with these jackals, whom, he’d heard, would as easily take their money and hand them directly to the monsters who hid in the shadows beyond what Nicole called The Gauntlet. Safety was neither in numbers nor the care of strangers, not any more.

And so Oscar and Nicole huddled under a mercifully deep overhang, sharing the last yellowing apple they’d secured two days earlier. The best shot at survival was roughly three more miles off, by Oscar’s calculations, but his bride and daughter (dare he hope?) required more immediate sustenance and hydration. He’d located a bottle of dollar store water the resistance had stowed under a thorny shrub yesterday, but even rationing the meager refreshment and secretly withholding his own needs, there was a mere half-inch remaining. Nicole was not looking well, and he could not discern the sweat and sun from fever and flush. Oscar was concerned what might happen should the inhuman horde intercept them before they made the “safe zone.”

just the night before, they’d seen the lights in the starry sky so far beyond the urban smog and city lights. No wishing star to guide them on their path, no helicopters sweeping the night, not here and not so unnaturally fast and multidirectional. The creatures in whatever ship or beam or wormhole no doubt were reconnoitering their own route, like lost tourists seeking the last gallon of gas or an intergalactic meeting point, or perhaps they might even have been scouting new real estate.

“I’m sorry, but we must move on,” Oscar told Nicole.

**

Nicole caught the glint, under a rare and surprisingly hardy outcropping. There was the possibility she’d spotted the debris of a previous traveler or even a hapless hiker, but Oscar was beyond hope, clutching at survival without emotion. He sprinted toward the glistening and, promisingly, refracting light in the vegetation.

And that’s when the inhumans were on them. They appeared huge, all hairless skulls and black, reflecting eyes, green shapes lunging and brandishing weapons, the musculature of beings shaped by a compulsion to conquer and a viciousness of single-minded purpose. They grunted and jabbered in a tongue alien to the former farmer, but there was no error in interpreting the hunger and anticipation on what was visible of their faces.

Their leader, smaller but somehow more compact than the group, made a harsh sound that crackled with client. Oscar watched miserably as the tall bottle was plucked from the brush and upended, its life-giving contents drained at his feet.

“Please,” he howled, displaying his palms and hoping these inhumans might have the capacity to understand. “My wife is pregnant!”

The leader glanced over his shoulder. A female, it would appear, uttered a single phrase in their language, something perhaps cosmically maternal flashing across her face. The leader nodded and turned back, poking Oscar face-first into the ground. The others seized a shrieking Nicole, shoved her as well onto her swelling belly, and secured the couples’ wrists.

They cackled and sneered as they regarded their catch of the day. Oscar absurdly was relieved they had only now begun their family. The children who had disappeared in the night, the babies taken with no hope of their eventual return.

Suddenly, the braying cries of victory and cruelty to come just…ceased. A new, pungent smell filled Oscar’s nostrils. A smell familiar from glorious moments with friends and family – no, the odor that had caused Oscar to gag at the roadside ditch where he’d so recently cradled Nicole as she wailed over the cartel-charred remains of her Primo Tio. 

More strange chatter, this time lower, calmer, in a timbre Oscar had never before heard, even in the hokey old monster movies his ancient abuelo loved so. He yelled for Nicole to keep her head down, and averted his eyes from the shadows that loomed over them, from the glimpses of these new invaders. Something too long, too wide, with too many joints and a cool feel, rested on his shoulder. And, it would seem, patted him with a rhythmic cooing. His wrists sprung free, and he finally looked up at the one freeing his Nicole.

“¡Por favor!,” he pleaded again, weakly. “¡Mi esposa está embarazada!”

**

“Some people call it an ‘invasion,' it’s like an invasion. They have violently overrun the Mexican border,” the TV over the counter blared. The voice was simultaneously venomous and childishly confident, like many of the preening national politicians back home who sounded somewhat like they were impaired in the brain. The speaker, El Jefe himself, was orange – not simply his thick, bizarrely piled hair, but his skin as well.

Oscar might have giggled, and he could have without danger, possibly for the first time in days. The diner across the highway from the packed Walmart was populated entirely with the Ruizes’ predecessors across the border, those with papers and U.S.-born grandchildren who still nearly daily were detained by ICE, by the border patrol, by flushed and spitting Norteamericanos to whom Spanish was an invitation to warfare. Primo Tomas, still in his Brownsville Sanitation Department uniform, had seized the both of them, too jubilant to ask questions Oscar did not want to answer (chiefly at their sudden, early materialization safe and astoundingly sound near the cotton fields just north of town), and rushed them immediately to Daniela’s Cantino to revive their bodies and spirits with platter after platter of meat the newly arrived father-to-be willed himself to devour until will no longer was necessary.

“They’ve overrun the Mexican police, and they’ve overrun and hurt badly Mexican soldiers,” the bloated man – like, who, Jabba from the Star Wars movie? -- added. Tomas uttered a single curse; Nicole laughed his apology away, studying the closed captioning en Espanol. The title “Invasión Alienígena” half-covered the banner “Alien Invasion At The Border: A Fox Special Report.”

El Hombre Naranja paused for hoots and arm-waving. “So this isn’t an innocent group of people. It’s a large number of people that are tough. They’ve injured, they’ve attacked, and the Mexican police and military has actually suffered.”

“Fucking imbecil,” Tomas grunted, impaling a wad of carnitas. He looked again to Nicole, and then to Oscar, who shook his head with a grin and gulped at his second piquant Michelada. Then he sobered for a moment as the 51-inch Samsung translated The Orange Man’s words.

They’d soon go looking for the Border Patrol team – the inhuman squad willing, what, to leave them to die in the desert, or to haul them in for deportation back into the cartels’ Hell? The ongoing diatribe about the “aliens,” the illegals, this invasion of waiters and dishwashers and landscapers and conserjes -- would rise to a shrill and murderous pitch when or more likely if they found anything of the ICE team. Oscar could ID little of their tormentors’ remains beyond the leader's twisted mirrored black sunglasses. The logical assumption would be that the incinerated mounds Oscar’d witnessed following their liberation were the product of cartel retaliation. But for what? They weren’t the ones fighting for their escape, for a new life where Arcilla – they’d fixed on the “Altar of Heaven” after being conveyed across the swinging gates of Hell – might just have a chance of a future among humans.

No matter, Oscar realized – logic seemingly had no place here. They simply would point to the brutal savagery of the “aliens.” And it was quite savage. As a devout Catholic, he’d silently recited La Senal De La Cruz for those Nicole’s saviors had dispatched. He had not forgotten that brief flash of compassion the female agent had betrayed, nor how quickly it vanished.

As for the rest, Oscar pondered briefly why these visitantes celestial, these visitors from the heavens, had intervened. And why there had seemed something unfathomably familiar about them. It hadn’t been until they’d been deposited on the rural road that he’d remembered watching some ridiculous old, grainy American show with his dying abuelo -- this one with Mr. Spock going on in his mismatched dubbed tones about monsters and ghosts and ancient Gods. And outer space aliens. Oscar was more absorbed by the legendary Vulcan – Star Trek was a universal language -- but now, recalling the petroglyphs Senor Nimoy presented as evidence, he realized what great artists his Aztec ancestors truly were.

Spock in his turtleneck suggested the Aztec pyramids were built by giant gods at the end of one of the destructions of the world, by ice, fire, or water. The City of the Gods, Teotihuacan, was built at the beginning of one of the four worlds, his abuelo had related before sending him for another illicit cerveza. How this one ends, who knows, Oscar mused.

“¿En qué estás pensando, primo?” Tomas teased. Oscar grinned foolishly, and looked over to where Tomas’ wife and sisters were dispensing advice to his plump Nicole.

Enough with such thoughts, Oscar scolded. For all that lie ahead, this was a beginning, or as much a beginning as he might have dreamed. 

August 06, 2023 23:05

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25 comments

Michał Przywara
20:32 Aug 15, 2023

That's a neat take on the prompt - a very relevant look. Like others have said, the word "alien" gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but when we label people as aliens it's easy to forget that they *are* people. Maybe, probably, that's by design. This starts very tense, so the ending is quite a relief. A meal to celebrate it is fitting.

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Martin Ross
21:17 Aug 15, 2023

Thanks, Michal. The subject matter’s very clise to my heart — people dehumanize immigrants, ignoring that it makes THEM inhuman.

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Ellen Neuborne
17:08 Aug 14, 2023

Nice interpretation of the prompt. It shines a light on how we've used that word for so long without bothering to consider its implication. Well done.

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Martin Ross
18:33 Aug 14, 2023

Thanks so much, Ellen! It’s an issue close to my heart, plus I’m really not good at intensive sci-fi😊.

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Marty B
03:51 Aug 10, 2023

I liked the comparison between the vicious 'aliens' vs the atrocities of Border Patrol agents! I liked the food refences, first I was vicariously thirsty along with Oscar and Nicole, and then craving a 'wad of carnitas' and a cerveza! The question I had though is 'why' they were braving the aliens in the Gauntlet- what was wrong with where they were two states away' from danger? thanks!

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Martin Ross
05:04 Aug 10, 2023

Thanks! Two Mexican states away. I too am craving a double wad of carnitas and a cerveza.

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Russell Mickler
18:07 Aug 09, 2023

Hey there, Martin! You know, I had hoped hoped hoped you'd take this prompt :) I wanna see Mike Dodge in space! It's Alien Invasion! And Nicole is preggers! Loved your description of the dangerous world brought on by humans, and not the aliens. Nice setting of the scene! I do like the POC angle for your characters and the use of Spanish in the narrative - woot! GASP! You _describe_ an alien! So cool! Ooo this is starting to sound more like real life ... YIKES! It's Trump! (mind blown) But there's a Star Wars and Trek reference, so I forg...

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Martin Ross
19:09 Aug 09, 2023

Thanks! We’re visiting the granddaughter past three days, but I may try for a Dodge story if I get the lawn mowed early enough Thursday. This one was me going full-tilt lib — I was hoping the misdirection would work.😉

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Russell Mickler
20:09 Aug 09, 2023

Ha! Well I was onboard - Trump is far scarier to me than space aliens :)

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Martin Ross
21:28 Aug 09, 2023

True that!

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Martin Ross
19:10 Aug 09, 2023

Oh, BTW, the wad is my official measure of carnitas😋

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Russell Mickler
20:09 Aug 09, 2023

HA!

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Lily Finch
22:38 Aug 08, 2023

Martin, such great description and characters. Wow! So great. Masterfully done. LF6

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Martin Ross
23:23 Aug 08, 2023

Thanks, Lily!

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06:45 Aug 07, 2023

Clever and topical approach to the prompt Martin. Great job.

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Martin Ross
14:17 Aug 07, 2023

Thank, Derrick!

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Mary Bendickson
00:33 Aug 07, 2023

The aliens are here. Thanks for liking my version.

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Martin Ross
00:35 Aug 07, 2023

Mwa-ha-ha!!

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Cassie Finch
09:41 Aug 17, 2023

this is cool.

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Martin Ross
15:18 Aug 17, 2023

Thanks, Cassie!

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Cassie Finch
09:52 Aug 18, 2023

You're welcome, Martin.

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Unknown User
21:57 Aug 08, 2023

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Martin Ross
23:22 Aug 08, 2023

🤣🤣🤣. Reminds me of my mom — when I watched Ironside reruns late at night and she’d wake up, she’d ask me, “So, watching Perry Mason again?” I always wanted to tell her, “Sure — one where he took a header down the courthouse steps…” Thanks, Joe.

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Unknown User
23:46 Aug 08, 2023

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Aoi Yamato
03:56 Aug 23, 2023

great story.

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