July 2

World UFO Day

 

The house was quiet. Cory heard the engine of a car along the road outside…turning the corner…its headlights weaving through half-open curtains… throwing shadows across the room, rippling across the wall above his bed.

It was unusual that someone would be driving this time of night. And was this the same pattern that passing headlights typically followed?

As the car drove closer to the front of their house, a strange pulse vibrated with the rumble of the engine. It sounded less like an automobile…more like…

…an imperfect imitation of a car’s engine. A pulsing sound throbbed beneath…some strange combination of a breath and wave-squeal, a heartbeat and radio static…

At this point, the soft glow of headlights should have disappeared at the edge of the window frame, while the car continued down the road.

Instead the lights froze in place. Next, shadows shifted and stretched in another direction. The driver had decided to make a U-turn.

The headlights rose higher in the window frame, as if the car had lifted off the ground.

The engine clicked off, but the lights continued to hover outside the window…more lights than a single car would have. They blinked and flashed in a strange Morse code that was both frightening and hypnotic.

Cory felt a sudden wave of exhaustion, his eyes heavy. Perhaps he was already dreaming. He could pinch himself. Close his eyes, reopen them…and the lights would be gone.

The horizontal row of lights bent and tilted like a carnival ride…they paused in a vertical line.

Large white lights blinked into a purple glow…then red…then the orange of a blazing fire.

Cory closed his eyes tight. Behind his lids, more flashes of color…the blink and pulse of a muted light show.

He put his hands over his face. The bedroom felt warm…

Those lights were not intended to illuminate the path ahead, he realized…they were part of some alien weapon…warming up through pulses and a sequence of colors…then burning a laser beam through the window glass and into his bedroom.

He removed his hands from his face, opened his cowering eyes. The outside lights had disappeared…

If they were ever there to begin with.

The room seemed warm, yes…but that was a flush of shame. He felt like a fool.

The window framed darkness. No engine rumbles or otherworldly pulsations thrummed outside the house.

Breathe. Calm down. Try to get back to sleep.

Cory closed his eyes again, let his head press into his pillow.

He attempted counting sheep. Testing…one…two… The sheep were covered with golden scales, and had tentacles instead of legs. Instead of jumping, they hovered over the fence…

This night would never end…

The bed creaked beneath him as he tossed and turned.

Not the bed…the door to the room, slowly creaking open.

Mom or Dad had heard him cry out, and they were coming to check on him. He turned his head to the doorway, rehearsing a drowsy apology. Must have had a bad dream. I didn’t realize I’d been so loud.

A shadowy figure stood in the hallway. It wasn’t Mom or Dad.

The vaguely humanoid shape stepped into the room. Its arms and legs wiggled as if they had extra joints in them. The head had strange crags and protrusions…like the surface of a rock, and yet…shiny.

Shadowy arms waved limber on strange joints…reaching forward as the shape lumbered closer to Cory. The room was almost completely dark, but small peaks of light flashed off the otherworldly face…like shimmers of sunlight on an agitated lake.

The sunken eyes had a large almond shape…dark and soulless.

In a burst of strength, the alien leapt across the room, arms raised. It crashed against the side of Cory’s bed, then scrambled up and over him.

Shadowy knees hemmed him in on either side. The alien face sparkled. Stiff padded hands gripped his shoulders, pinning him down.

It was too dark. Cory wasn’t able to count the number of fingers on the alien’s hand. In his mind, if the visitor had four fingers and a thumb, it would be closer to human…as if that would make it more likely to be friendly…or able to respond to reason. Cory tried to catch his breath…tried to speak…

One of the alien’s hands immediately clamped over his mouth. The skin had a coarse, rubbery texture…like the dry scales of a dead fish. The alien’s face moved closer to his own…The almond eyes flashed wide…blinking beneath a thready webbing.

The boy lost consciousness…and in other homes across the world, the UFO invasion continued.

 

[Author’s Note:  Today’s entry is a modified excerpt from The Space Visitor, a 9,000 word novelette that’s available for only 99 cents, and which ties into the world of my latest full-length novel, Life in a Haunted House.]