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Hope you enjoy Harlan’s story!
Invaders – By Lisa Kessler
They came from beyond the Milky Way. Tiny little creatures with innocent eyes and evil hearts infiltrated the human world with ease. Everyone expected green skinned, mongoloid-headed invaders with long fingers and inhumanly large black eyes.
But these aliens were crafty.
Harlan Kless wasn’t fooled.
It all began a few days ago after he finished feeding his annual pumpkin pie fetish. While he was sitting on his porch waiting for his body to finish digesting the mass of his Thanksgiving feast, he noticed something skitter away out of the corner of his eye. Frowning, he made a slow scan of the area. Dry fall leaves covered the browning grass, foreshadowing the snow that was soon to follow. The only noise was the steady drip from the spigot at the corner of the house.
He waited, holding his breath. Surely the leaves would crackle when the yard varmint moved again. His eyes narrowed, searching every shadow. Patience was one of Harlan’s best virtues. He could wait out ketchup without tapping the bottle, and paint drying on the fence.
Whatever was wiggling in his yard, he’d see it. Eventually.
A gust of wind broke the tense silence, scattering the brittle leaves, swirling them up from the ground. And that’s when he noticed it.
Most people would have mistaken the alien for a squirrel, but Harlan wasn’t fooled. Just as the leaves blew away, he saw the rodent’s eyes flash crimson, and instead of the clicks and chirps of a squirrel, he heard whispers on the wind. Harlan jumped up out of his chair and bolted down the stairs after the creature. The damned furball jumped to the top of the eight-foot high fence, and from there to the tree in the neighbor’s yard. By the time Harlan reached the fence, the would-be squirrel was long gone.
“Goddamn it!” He bent over, struggling to catch his breath. When the wheezing calmed, he straightened up shaking his head. “I know you’re out there. You don’t fool me, you little bastard.”
He waited for an answer, scanning the trees. The wind swirled, mussing his thinning white hair and sending a chill down his spine, but he didn’t move. After half an hour passed, Harlan grumbled and headed back to his house.
That night he turned off his cell phone and wrapped his satellite dish in aluminum foil. He’d miss watching Judge Judy, but there was no way in Hell he was going to sit by and let alien rodents use him for inter-galactic communications. Next he ripped the cords out of the back of his computer severing his last avenue for communication with the outside world.
It was a week before he saw the aliens again.
He’d just finished stashing the last of his groceries, packing the pantry with a few months worth of rations just in case he had to turn his home into a bomb shelter. Every once in a while when the wind blew just right, he could hear them whispering. The language was foreign, but he was pretty sure he understood.
They were infiltrating earth and soon the human race would be an endangered species.
Harlan spent the next week mailing off letters to every news station and television talk show he could find, warning them of the impending invasion. He informed them that the safest method of communication was through the postal service, but he didn’t receive any replies.
He sat on the porch clutching his shotgun the day his nephew drove up.
“Uncle Harlan?” His nephew’s brow furrowed when he glanced at the shotgun. “What’s going on?”
Never taking his eyes off the trees, knowing his adversaries were watching, Harlan tightened his grip on the barrel. “Keeping watch.”
“Watch? Over what?”
“They’re here, Thomas. No one believes me, but I’ve seen them. I can hear them whispering.”
“Who’s whispering?” He pulled open the screen door and winced. “Oh God Uncle Harlan. The house reeks.”
Harlan nodded without looking back. “Course it does. Can’t have them going through my garbage, so it’s inside.”
Thomas knelt down in front of his chair. “I think you should come with me, Uncle Harlan. You can stay at my place and we’ll get you in to see Dr. Halberns right away.”
He frowned, meeting his nephew’s gaze. “I don’t need a doctor. These aliens know I’m onto them. They’re watching me all the time now. They’re worried I’ll expose their plot. They’re crafty little buggers.”
“Uncle Harlan, put down the gun and come with me, all right? You’ve been alone out here too long.” He glanced over at the door and shook his head. “You can’t stay here. We can skip the doctor, but I can’t leave you here.”
Harlan sighed and set his shotgun on the table bedside him. “You don’t believe me either.”
“I got your letter about the squirrels and when your phone was out of service and your cell number was disconnected, I thought I’d better get out here to check on you.”
“I know what I saw, Thomas.”
He nodded. “I’m not saying you didn’t see it, Uncle Harlan. But just because you saw something doesn’t make it real. You’ve been alone for a long time. Your mind can start playing tricks on you.”
Harlan stood up, bumping the shotgun off the table. “Leave me alone, Thomas.”
Thomas dove for the shotgun and pumped a cartridge into the chamber, aiming the barrel at Harlan’s chest. “I can’t do that, Uncle.”
His nephew hissed, whispering foreign words in rapid succession. The alien rodents clustered on the ground, advancing toward Harlan’s house.
“No.” He shook his head, backing away. “They got to you.”
His nephew’s mouth twitched, curling into a sick grin as his eyes flashed crimson. “They’ve gotten everyone, Uncle. Now it’s you they want.”
“No!” Harlan flinched, jarring himself in his chair. He gasped, swiveling his head from side to side. No sign of his nephew or the squirrels. Sitting on the table beside him was an empty pie tin, not the shotgun he was expecting. Gradually his heart rate slowed and he smiled.
“Too much damned pumpkin pie.” He chuckled and picked up the pie tin on his way back into the house. Just a dream. A crazy, too-much-pumpkin-pie dream.
As the door closed behind him, hushed whispers echoed on the evening breeze and crimson eyes glowed in the darkness.