The invasion was not what we expected.
Everyone had been wrong.
The Outer Limits and Twilight Zone had it wrong. The B movies of the old drive-in theaters were quite wrong. Star Trek and all its generations, wrong. District 9, V, wrong. The X–Files, wrong, wrong, wrong.
The Alien Invasion was so….lovely. They came down gently, slowly, like big fat snowflakes on a windless Christmas Eve. Their vessels were as varied as seashells and opal of hue and luminescence. None were larger than an ice chest. There were no death beams or noxious vapors, not even a whiff of the charred-meat-and-diesel smell that our astronauts have perceived on their spacewalks. The number of alien craft was uncountable. There were at least a baker’s dozen on our acreage and the snowing-down of the vessels seemed even and numerous throughout the village and up and down our forested lane.
Speaking for myself, I was not so much frightened as alert. More alert than I had been in a long time, maybe ever. It’d become painful to be too alert, too aware of the astonishingly brutal acts of individuals, governments, the human species. Egregious acts were committed daily against the fragile ecosystem itself, the populace busying themselves either filling their pockets, turning their heads, or waving their arms ineffectually, all while loud music and reality shows blared. We had all selected some brand of numbification – alcohol or drugs or doomscrolling.
But now I was alert as a doe on a dark path who hears a twig snap. As vessels fell from the sky, I walked outdoors. I didn’t think my house would protect me from whatever it was, so I stood on the back porch and gawked.
One of the things settled a few yards from the bottom step, its descent so slow and gentle that the ivy it landed on did not rustle or crush. An archway no more than a foot high opened in the side, and without any hesitation or preamble, small…visitors appeared.
I cannot describe them easily as no two seemed the same, except each one seemed impossibly delicate and, well, mystifying, beautiful. Some had heads of creatures I could identify ¬– gazelles, fennec foxes, cats, oxen, falcons. Some heads reminded me of the great mask makers of Earth – the Hopi, the Bantu, the Yup’ik. I had a thought, crazy in the moment, who says an art history degree is a useless pursuit?
There were faces as dished as full moons, as eared as jackrabbits, heads prong-horned, or lobed or pointed as dunce-caps. Bodies – well, I could not see actual bodies, only garments. Robes of fiber or fur or fur-ish fiber, shells like tortoise carapace, fleshy spines like cactus arms, no two alike.
Just when I wondered if I should speak first, there came a sound. It was their sound, I saw mouths opening and closing, but the sounds were not voices so much as chimes. Soft and very high, but not alarming and not, as far as I could tell, to me. Have you ever heard an April night when the spring peepers were at their fullest? Back when the world’s amphibians were still teeming plenty? It was that sort of chorus.
The vessels, now apparently empty, cracked open and then cracked some more, just like the cast-off shells of robins’ eggs I used to try to save when I was in my girlhood. Before long they were smithereens, and just like them, the space vessels seemed determined to reduce themselves to particles. Within moments, they slipped between and beneath the blades of grass and leaf mulch and were gone.
And speaking of gone, all these small visitors….dispersed. Some walking with a stately, almost mincing gait, others hovering, wingless though they were. Soon they were dispersed throughout the woods and fields, smaller and smaller and then not to be seen at all.
People rarely speak of the arrival. There is little evidence of it unless you are extremely watchful. There is no profit to be made, no enemy to fight (see the aforementioned profit,) no political or social leverage to be wielded. So it’s almost like it never happened at all.
I do see them sometimes. A watchful shape, at a distance. A chiming laugh or song. I’m not sure, and I even hesitate to mention it, to hope – but the land seems fuller somehow. Livelier, more populated. I’ve seen more bats in the evening, or I think I have, and two mornings ago, the first orioles of my lifetime. I think of my prayers of the last years, that our planet might somehow be saved, and I wonder who was listening. But it is too much to hope, and all I know for sure is…
the invasion was not what we expected.
Flash Fiction piece by Lynda Gene Rymond
Lynda Gene Rymond is a poet, author, and artist who lives on Goblin Farm in Applebachsville, Pa. She has been a runner-up and finalist for Bucks County Poet Laureate. Her poetry has been published in journals and the “Carry Us to the Next Well” anthology (Kelsay Books.)