Day 1: The Attack (Krista)
Night fell over the neighborhood, bringing an unnatural silence. It had been hours since the last attack, but Krista couldn’t stop watching the treehouse. Periodically, an outline passed in front of the window, but Krista’s angle didn’t let her see who it was. She thought Abby walked by a few times, and with each appearance, her heart would take a new tumble in her chest.
She spent the day online, devouring information, trying to gather facts, but no one knew anything. The news was all wild theories and countries throwing accusations. ISIS claimed responsibility for the global attack, to mocking dismissal. Scientists fell over themselves to explain the split in the sky, the violent rip that started everything. It was a collapsing star; no, it was an event horizon from a drifting black hole; no, it was a gateway.
She hadn’t seen much of Martin through this whole thing. He didn’t seem to know what to do with himself. He paced the house, unable to sit for even a moment, talking on the phone with his daughter.
At least she knew where her family was. Trapped and inaccessible, but safe. It didn’t seem possible, but her kids would sleep outside in the treehouse. Paul tried to reassure her, saying they’d slept outside dozens of times, but she couldn’t believe it. They didn’t know anything about these ships. What if this was a pause in their attack? Everyone seemed to think they’d be safe indoors, but what did they know?
Maybe the ships couldn’t see people in the dark? It was possible. She could be with her kids right now. Abby would be glad. Matty was a wonderful older brother, but a little girl needed her mommy. What did an eighteen-year-old boy know of comfort?
She went to the front door and placed her hand on the knob, giving serious consideration to running across the street. It was dark out, the only light coming from the street lamps that provided minimal visibility. She could no longer see the shapes above, their exteriors blended too well with the night sky. There was no chance they could see her.
“What are you doing?” She jumped and spun around, bringing her hand to her mouth to muffle a yelp. Martin stood behind her.
“Thinking,” she said, aware of how silly that response sounded.
“You can’t go outside,” he said. “I’ve been watching the news all day. It’s the only thing people agree on. You’ll be killed.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know enough to listen to what thousands of people are saying.”
“Really? Thousands of people think the world is flat.”
He flushed and stepped toward the door, and for a moment she thought he was going to grab her. Instead, he reached around her and cracked open the door.
“Out you go then.”
The challenge hung between them. He crossed his arms, and she put her hand on the doorknob. In a few steps, she could be on the lawn. Closer to her kids.
Her heart thumped so hard it pulsed in her skull. She pulled the door shut with a curse, hating herself for her cowardice. Her shoulders sagged. She didn’t want to turn around to look at Martin.
“Why don’t we try to sleep?” he said. His voice filled with syrupy condescension. “Maybe we can take our minds off everything. Together.”
“Together?” She turned and put her back against the door. “Are you hitting on me? Now?”
“No, that’s not what I meant.” He waved his hands and shook his head, but he was lying. She could tell. “You’re twisting everything up. Come away from the door, you’ll be killed if you go outside. The kids will be safe for the night, I spoke with Heather. You can use the spare bedroom, but I’m not sure where Sharon keeps the fresh linens. Maybe the closet upstairs.”
He rambled on, and she allowed herself to be guided upstairs, although she trailed at a safe distance. She wasn’t thinking, that was the problem. This whole situation had her out of her comfort zone. Since when did Krista Cutler vacillate?
The spare room appeared sparse and functional, with a small single bed and a nightstand. Based on the layer of dust that covered everything, they didn’t get many visitors.
“You make yourself comfortable,” said Martin.
“How can you even think about sleeping right now?”
“There’s nothing else we can do.” It seemed as if he would continue, but instead, he turned and left the room.
Krista sighed and sat down on the corner of the bed and concentrated on not crying. She didn’t want to be here, she wanted to be with her husband and kids. They would be afraid by themselves. But Martin was right. There was nothing she could do.
She took out her phone, checking it for the 500th time today. Matty had set up a group chat for all the survivors. Liz and Alexandra Stocking had also survived, which, combined with Paul and everyone next door, meant ten. Ten people out of the whole street. She didn’t have an exact count but figured there were fifty people from their neighborhood missing or dead. Matty’s last message said he was turning off the phone for the night, try to conserve power. Smart kid.
For some reason, she was hardly getting any service, the phone only showing a single bar. In fact, her whole connection had been spotty all day. What if these things were screwing with the phones, too?
She heard the heavy sounds of Martin’s footsteps coming up the stairs, and he came back into the room with a bottle of scotch and a single glass.
“For sleep,” he said. He placed both items on the nightstand and stared at her a moment. He opened his mouth to say something when a loud siren pierced the air. The sound blotted out any thought. It came from everywhere, and she screamed while covering her ears. She curled up in pain. The siren continued for seconds before stopping with an audible pop.
“What the fuck was that?” she whispered. “Did those black shapes do that? It was so loud.”
Martin wiped his mouth. “Don’t know.”
She reached over and poured herself a large glass of scotch, her hands shaking enough that some sloshed over the side. She downed the whole amount and coughed.
“Sleep will help,” Martin said. His voice had no inflection. He left the room and shut the door behind him. Krista eyed the bottle of scotch and wondered how much she could get through.