Day 1: The Attack (Krista)
The sky tore, and Krista watched in mute horror as black objects poured from the rip. The air carried the smell of blood and iron, the remains of her neighbors, murdered by the red lasers. Somewhere, to her left, Paul screamed. She turned to watch him stumble toward the house with John Gardner and Sharon Keene.
He wasn’t with the kids.
Hot panic washed away, and her first thought was: Abby. Days later she’d feel sick about that – the terrible, in-moment reaction where she prioritized her daughter. Still, was it any surprise? Matt was Paul’s son, he never felt like hers. Not with their secret jokes and shared interests and weird masculine language that only they seemed to understand.
But now, thoughts of her daughter consumed her, and she panicked, looking for her baby girl. She heard someone scream, “Get in the house” and looked up. Matt leaned out of the tree fort, with Abby clutching his leg. That direction. That’s where she’d run and she’d either find safety or die trying to get to her kids. An even trade.
An arm wrapped around her waist, jerking her off her feet, pulling her down to the manicured lawn. A body blanketed her and pushed her face close against the earth, so close she smelled weed spray, that sickly sweet odor that meant things were dying. She tried to yell, to scream, but the weight crushed her. From above, a man’s voice spoke.
Martin. What was he doing? Trying to stop her from going to her family? She kicked and struggled, now needing to fight against two things, the oppressive and unwanted help from this giant idiot and the black shapes that wanted to kill them all.
“Get the fuck off me, you fat shithead!” Not her finest bon mot, but he really was being a fat shithead, and she really needed him the fuck off her.
“Stay down, Kris.” He rolled off and put his hand on her ass. His touch registered in the part of her brain every woman possessed that paid attention to where men put their hands. If she lived through this, she’d have to tell him to fuck off with more force.
She elbowed him in the side and got to her feet. In front of her house, a black dot swooshed down and blasted at one of the neighbors running toward Paul. Greg, she thought his name was. She screamed and watched as Maybe-Greg fell on top of her husband. Even from this far away, the blood stood out, the vibrant red showing up in perfect contrast to the manicured green of their front lawn.
I’ll never get that blood out of Paul’s shirt, she thought. The fat shithead Martin took his unwanted heroics to the next level and picked her up and threw her over his shoulder.
There was no stopping it. She was 120 pounds, and he was a fair bit stronger and taller than her. He carried her back into his house, yelling the whole while. She kicked and screamed against his back, but he didn’t slow. Ten steps later and she was inside his house and then thrown to the floor. She slid against the cold linoleum, banging her shoulder against the floorboard. He slammed the door shut and turned, breathing hard.
“We have to stay down,” he said, sitting with his back to the door. His eyes were giant headlights, and she realized he was beyond panic.
“I have to get to my kids,” she said, standing up. He blocked the door with his body.
“You can’t go outside. It’s not safe. I read about this.”
“You read about black ships falling from the sky, murdering everyone? What fucking book was that?”
He shook his head. “No, school shootings. Same thing.”
“This is not the same fucking thing as a school shooting.” She was swearing too much, but when her stress got high, her temper came out to play, and she let it consume her. Hot anger was better than the fear that threatened to overwhelm her.
“We need to stay down. Let it pass.” He struggled to get the words out. His cheeks contained mottled patches of red, and his breathing came in gasps. She worried he might be having a heart attack.
“Sit down, Martin. You don’t look good. You’ll black out.”
She looked through the window beside the door to the street outside. One neighbor was running up the road. A black craft descended on him, and those bright red lasers flared. They hit with precision, severing an arm, taking off a leg, blasting through his chest. He died in seconds, reduced to a pile. The black thing floated away, looking for more victims. They dotted the sky. They were everywhere.
“Shit. You’re right. We can’t go out.” With shaking hands, she pulled her phone from her back pocket and texted Matty.
-Are you OK?
Three dots appeared, meaning he was responding. Across from her, Martin had pulled out his phone and was doing the same thing.
-Fine. Talked to Dad. He’s okay. I’m with Abby.
-Stay where you are. Don’t move. Stay away from the windows.
-We’re hiding in back.
-I’ll get you, okay? We’ll figure something out. I love you.
-I love you too, Mom. Be careful. Don’t go outside.
-Once these things leave, we’ll be okay
-DON’T GO OUTSIDE THEY ARE KILLING EVERYTHING!!!
-Okay, I won’t. Stay safe. We’ll figure something out.
Her family was safe. The words alone brought her temper down a notch. She could figure this out, she only needed a bit of time. This didn’t feel like something the police could solve.
She’d fix it.