We watched the spaceships from our backyards. It was night, but the underlights of the ships made everything glow all fuzzy-like, like a garden party. The kids watched with us, I know we should’ve told ‘em to go back inside or something; to hide under their bed covers, or under their beds. But I’m not sure that really would’ve helped with anything.
Sooner or later, they’re going to know the truth, that the planet earth had been invaded by aliens (extra-terrestrials Shaun calls ‘em as if there’s any difference) and it weren’t no invasion we were equipped to fight back against.
By all accounts the invasion was over before it began.
First, we saw the lights. Like so many stars coming home. Except they weren’t the same colour as stars, which mainly look so cold sittin’ out there in the distant dark. Yellow and red and orange were mostly the hues and they filled up the night sky something fierce!
Experts on the TV news said that it was some sort of astrological event, involving the diffusion of particles from a disintegrated meteor being scattered by the earth’s atmosphere and refracting the light or some such nonsense. Shaun believed ‘em of course, he always believes the experts on the TV news.
But that explanation didn’t hold for long. Because those meteorite particles just kept on gettin’ closer and closer til we was sure that humankind was about to go extinct like those big ol’ lizards did way back before Mary ‘n’ Joseph.
Down they came, lower and lower and they brought their shadows with ‘em until finally shapes began to form around the lights, indistinct at first but now…
My god… now.
I ain’t never seen anything so grand or so terrifying. But let me tell you these spaceships aren’t like nothin’ I seen in one of them sci-fi picture shows. Those spaceships always look so sleek and perfect. Like tin cans jiggling on the end of fishing wire. Orbs and spheres and flying saucers, oh my.
No sir, these spaceships look like nothing more than factories in the sky, and my Pa worked at Atwell Manufacturing so this gal knows what a factory looks like, if you please. And these spaceships are all girders and chimney stacks and pipes and metal grates and corrugated walls and vents and flashing blinkin’ lights all yellow and orange and red all lighting up the neighbourhood like a gosh-darn garden party.
And here we all are just starin’ up at ‘em like slack-jawed fools as they slide across the sky, you can hear ‘em vibrating there in the sky. You can hear them rattling and shaking like an old car does when you’re driving it one last time to the wrecker’s yard.
We can’t see the sky no more. And we ain’t seen no aliens yet. And the TV news isn’t working anymore, it just shows static and Shaun keeps trying to adjust the aerial like that’s going to help. There’s a radio on the kitchen table that is still working, but the folks on there don’t know what to say any better’n the rest of us know what to think.
Crackle… fuzz… have you ever seen anything like it? Are these—aliens—or a more human menace?
Darlin’ I thinks to myself as Jeremy’s little hand reaches up at clasps mine, his tiny little hand. I don’t know if he’s afraid or not. I don’t know if I’m afraid or not. But I do know that those ships-in-the-sky sure as hell ain’t no Communists.
Next door’s son is a teenage lout and he’s up on the roof throwing trash up at the sky and callin’ out to ‘em like they can hear him. Somewhere else somebody is settin’ off firecrackers in a trash can. There’s a siren wailin’ somewhere in the distance. The closeness of the spaceships has squashed all the sounds of the neighbourhood together. Everything sounds like a muffled hub-bub. I can hear voices from three streets over, but I can’t tell what they’re sayin’.
Shaun has gone to the garage, I can hear him rifling around in there for who-knows-what, that man always has to be doin’ somethin’ he ain’t never been content to just wait and see what comes next, but this time I don’t think we have much say in the matter—if we ever did.
“Momma,” says Jeremy, squeezin’ my hand. “What’s gonna happen?”
“Momma doesn’t know,” I tell him.