Andy reached down to his computer mouse and clicked on another page of the same website: www.theycamefromthemoon.com. At the leftmost side of the screen, a video began downloading. He looked over at the block of text that ran down alongside it.
THEY’RE HERE! Continuous updates about extraterrestrial beings. For those of you out there who crave the truth, and for all of you out there with IQs much beyond our comprehension who are about to question their own existence . . . We finally have video evidence of the celestials in the sky, the aliens that have boggled much of us since the beginning of time. UFOs AND ALIENS DO EXIST. WARNING: WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS 100% REAL. There is no excuse for those who doubt their existence . . . NOW, YOU WILL JOIN US.
“This is it,” Andy said, biting his shirt.
“And this is the point where I start reenacting the federal state agency and say: ‘Those be famous last words, B,’” Gecko said. They were calling on Discord for the third time that day. “Bro, there was some funky-ass alligator walkin down the street about an hour ago.”
“Yeah,” Andy said. “It really do be like that. Orlando is hot this time of year.”
Andy was lying back on his bed with his mouse pressed on his laptop. He looked around for a moment. The room was all in shadow, lit only by the glow of his screen. From the corners of his eyes he could make out the navy drapes and torn-up posters that stood firmly against the bright purple walls. On the opposite side of his room, what seemed to be only a body’s stretch away, his games console was sitting comfortably on a nightstand. Above it, there was a powerless forty-inch plasma screen TV.
“Well, this is probably fake,” Andy said, his voice still muffled under his shirt.
“Hm,” Gecko said. “You may think that at first.”
The video began loading. Then, a triangular play icon popped up in the centre of his screen. The thumbnail: a poor-quality image of a dark house. Or maybe it was a factory. Perhaps even NASA after the economic downfall.
The picture was grainy and unfocused, but Andy recognised the setting immediately as the walls of The Spire, the glass panes that nestled against the sky. Though this time there was no blue gleam; there was only darkness. Andy hit play. The greyish-hued images unfolded, at first soundless, to a distorted soundtrack of harsh coughing. The first thing he could see was a man in a white hazmat suit tearing a black overcoat off of a body on an operation table; a blurred flash of a lizard’s tail; a stolen glimpse of the creature’s face, eyes bulging from the sides of its green head, popping open in the shadows of the room – before the man in white grabbed a scalpel from a tray and said, “Operation X. December, thirty-two. Subject appears to be lifeless, without form.”
Andy saw enough sci-fi movies to know what a fake alien looked like. This looked real. It had the features of a lizard that he knew, all along, were real.
“Holy shit!” Andy said. “You have got to be fuckin kiddin me!”
“Bro,” Gecko said, “they really be out here, huh? Like they out here uploadin images on Instagram about how they been in the sky and in space and they been on Earth the whole time. That’s some real shit. And imagine once the FBI finds out this been leaked and the government start locking down streets and Obama rises from the dead to save the day. You better hope that they don’t catch me hittin them with my special move, Fatman’s Embrace. They go flyin.”
“What are you even saying?” Andy laughed ruefully.
“Everything. Hol’ up, ya boy gonna get some frosted flakes, be right back.”
With the man in white slicing his scalpel through the thick, green layers of the creature’s skin, he coughed and said, “Subject is missing vital organs. What appears to be . . . empty.”
Now Andy could understand the significance of the helicopters in the night, and the reason NASA went to such lengths to make sure nobody knew. Very little – if anything – surprised him in his life, even less impressed him – but the idea of extraterrestrial life existing surged through his thoughts in the same way that electricity would fire up an old death-row convict.
A couple more minutes passed, and nothing significant caught his eye.
Beyond the operation table, which was wrapped devilishly in a black overcoat, the glass walls began brightening a little. Then there was blackness; the video had ended.
“Bro!” Andy yelled, looking outside his window and over towards the pane of glass in the centre of Violetwall. “What are the chances?!”
“What are the chances of what?” Gecko asked, stuffing his face full of frosted flakes.
Andy stared a little longer, perhaps for five seconds, before saying, “Nothing. I thought I recognised the place.”
“Hm,” Gecko said. “You tryna get on right now?”
“Yeah, which game?”
“Bruh, you already know. My mans already knows.”
In the gloom of his darkening bedroom, Andy could see the blue lights of The Spire rise above the skyline, tossing its magnificent glow across the cityscape. And on that evening, Andy knew, once and for all, that the creatures which he had admired since an early age had always existed.
“Some weird shit is going down in Violetwall,” Andy said. “And . . . this isn’t gonna be the last of it. I’m sure of that.”
Gecko sent the same video to Phoenix and Alex, along with the same message: those be some famous last words.
“Hm,” Gecko said. “Agreed.”
Night had already fallen by the time the group met up at the shoreline. The near ocean ebbed away in large washes and shone a hazy reflection of the moon. Above, clouds met neatly, stars aligned, and rain swept over the skyline. And in the blending shadows of the sandy horizon below, the waters were dancing in the wind.
“The sky is mad around this time,” Alex said, pulling her hood up, and then jamming her hands in somewhat cosy pockets. She kicked her bare feet through the sand, feeling the water tickle her arches. “And they say there’s a saucer out there? What the fuck do they want to do with this shithole?”
A rich aroma of seaweed and salt water filled the air.
“Alex vibin,” Phoenix said, smiling. “But seriously though, how we supposed to know? Andy legit found a video of an alien getting dissected and the news ain’t even say anything yet.”
“Well,” Andy said, “Gecko sent it to me. But yeah, it’s weird.” He nuzzled his chin into his chest and raised his shoulders a couple inches. “Jesus, it’s freezing!”
“Man’s cold,” Phoenix said. “Mans wants to go inside, fam.”
“Man, why do you keep doing a London accent for?” Andy asked.
“Because mans got one tooth,” Alex answered in an even thicker English accent.
The water ebbed, bobbed, dove back and forth through the bending swirls of the ocean, and fell away to unveil more sand. The wind whistled until all they could hear was a building storm. The vertical towers beyond them were stark silhouettes on the cold night of December, and the apartment buildings were, too. There had been steady rain for a couple of days, some might have thought that a thunderstorm was inching itself ever closer.
“He’s losin more than just his teeth,” Andy said. “His whole jaw be fallin off.”
The rain drummed on his hood like jazz percussion. It started shooting down so hard it bounced off the shoreline and made it look like one of those empty graveyards that people sometimes visited on the afternoons in spring.
Alex stared out into the night. “I gotta take a picture of this, to be honest.”
She pulled out her phone and opened up the camera. Instead of taking a picture she hit the record button.
“Ain’t nobody tryna see your pictures – oh, you’re recording. Nice one.” Phoenix covered her phone with his palm and Alex laughed.
“What?” She laughed. “I’m just takin a video, chill.”
“Can you just not?” Andy said.
"All you had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!" Phoenix said.
Alex continued laughing as Phoenix reached around her and grabbed the phone.
“Okay, okay, okay!” She kept giggling. “I’ll staaawp!”
“You moron,” Phoenix said. ”Just take the damn picture, CJ! Goddayum!"
He released her from his grasp.
Alex felt something sting her foot. “Fucking jellyfish!” She bounced back a little.
“Christ, you guys are retarded.” Andy secretly found it funny.
Phoenix’s thoughts cleared with a grin. He remembered what he came here for. But in his waking silence, his eyes caught something afar. “Look,” he said, grimacing, pointing at a jagged shape in the sky. A blue outline of some sort. Was it a star?
“The sky, it’s . . . it’s . . .” — moving.
Alex looked up from her feet and saw the shape in the sky. “What is it?”
Andy squinted his eyes and tucked his hands in his pockets. “That’s . . . wait.”
There followed a symphony of wind, and then the shape brightened. It was either that, or it was somehow getting closer at an incredibly fast rate. Phoenix’s heart raced, and Andy’s did, as well.
Phoenix coughed and said, “It’s a . . .”
A deafening hum exploded in the sky, and with it came a magical blue glow that whirled through the clouds. The wind broke overhead with a gigantic bellow. And in that moment Phoenix recoiled in terror – a reaction no different than those made by mimes when they see something moderately frightening.
“What the fuck . . .?” Alex took a few steps away from the shoreline, gazing at what she could only describe as a cyan vortex, raising her arm to block some of the light. “Get inside! NOW!”
“But wait –” Andy said.
“Nah, she right, let’s get back –”
“MOVE, GUYS, COME ON!”
They backed away from the water, snatched their socks and shoes, and receded away into the city, where they would see people exiting their vehicles and staring into the sky like mesmerised children.
The blue mist-haze lengthened into the buildings. And afterwards all they could hear was the low hum of some powerful machine, something so loud even God would have to wear earplugs to make it stop. It echoed throughout the city, and those on the streets would have paused in their seats as they watched the traffic halt. And as far as Phoenix could tell, looking around with confusion and fear, all time had stopped.