Day 1: The Attack (Matt)
Matt couldn’t get his breath, Abby was squeezing him so hard. He didn’t remember walking into the treehouse. The past few moments scrambled together. He needed to get his brain working, to figure out what was going on. But between the noise and the tear in the sky, it was difficult to put his thoughts into working order.
Across the street, he tried to pick out his parents through the cacophony of panic. He didn’t see his mom, but there, at the foot of the driveway, his dad picked himself up off the lawn. He looked around and locked eyes with Matt. The rest of the adults focused on the destruction, looking upwards, but his dad was looking at his kids. The same dad that made him laugh, and that everyone joked put a piece of his brain in Matt’s head when he was born. The same dad that loved the same stories he did, read the same books. Especially the ones about monsters, the ones by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Maybe his dad was having the same thought.
Sometimes, monsters are real.
“Dad!” he yelled. He waved his arms and made throwing gestures. “Get everyone in the house!” he screamed, competing with the noise. “Get in the house!”
His dad nodded with understanding. He must feel it, this wrongness that overrode any rational thought. Hide. That’s what Matt’s brain screamed at him, primal instincts taking over. His dad got up and pushed people toward their house – Heather’s parents, old Mr. Gardner, everyone.
By the forest edge, at the top of the street, Matt could see that Pete and his parents hadn’t moved. The dark shapes spread out across the neighborhood, hovering right around the roofline, hundreds of them, perhaps thousands. Matt wasn’t sure what they were doing, what they were waiting for. A group positioned themselves over Pete’s family.
Matt tried to scream, but the noise caught in his throat.
The black monsters opened fire.
A noise like chainsaws accompanied each laser. Mrs. Carter went down first, one arm pointing when a beam from the craft sheared it off at the shoulder. Before she could scream, two more blasts hit her, putting a hole in her chest and taking off the top of her head. A puff of red mist hung in the air where she had stood. His second Mom, dead. The same woman who let him and Pete stay up late to finish their video games and would smile and ruffle his hair. The chainsaw-lasers reduced her to ruin, and his heart hurt so much he thought he was dying. His legs were stiff, rooted to the spot.
Beside her, Mr. Carter screamed. The lasers pumped holes through him, hitting his head, ripping off his leg, blowing out his stomach. In seconds, the black monsters reduced them to clumps of blood and parts, like broken mannequins someone had covered in red paint.
Deidre fell to her knees, screaming, and Matt had time to think, surely they won’t hurt a little kid, before the lasers rained down, killing her. Her screams ended, replaced by Matt’s own. He pushed Abby backward into the treehouse, yelling, “Stay here, Abby, don’t look outside!”
He never saw Pete, either he was dead already or had run back into the forest. The black things circled and shot at everyone. People dropped like grass before a lawnmower blade, caught running back to their houses or scrambling for cover. One lady tried to get into a car parked on the side of the road, but the lasers found her and cut her to pieces. There was no way to survive that. Pete would be dead with the rest of his family. The words bounced in his head, jumbling together. It made no sense for Pete to be dead.
He tried to pick her out of the crowd. Maybe he could wave her into the treehouse, something. His head swung back and forth. There. On the road in front, he spotted her. Her hands covered her head, and she cried by herself, alone. None of the adults were close to her. He yelled at her to run. His feet wouldn’t move; he couldn’t make himself take a step towards her. Beside him, Abby bawled.
Their eyes connected, and the world stopped. The noise faded. Kate’s face filled his vision. She reached out to him. A laser fired from the air above and blew the front of her face from her head, leaving the bone exposed. Her arm remained extended, reaching out to him, and she wept dark red rivulets of blood that poured from the holes where her eyes should be. He whimpered, once, and threw up for the second time that day.
“Come away,” Heather pulled him backward, and they both sat down, practically falling against the gritty floorboards that made the treehouse floor. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve and tried to speak, to put into words the horror from outside, but nothing came out.
His parents were still out there.