‘Tabitha’ novel: the aliens

A filthy woman dug for food in the rubble of Earth. A city lay in ruins all around her; a concrete graveyard, a grey desolation. She thought herself well-hidden but the shapes stalked her from fallen walls and blown-out windows, silent as death, crawling close. Steel flashed and jutted, and a spidery silver plant punched one sudden, silent stab in her leg. The woman kicked and ran; looking back with shaking vision and jarring panicked thoughts as the pack of chittering killer things chased her down, leapt upon her limbs and weighed her down onto the road. She struggled soundlessly as they wrestled and stabbed. She slumped and gargled as they injected her. Alien fluid coursed through her, liquefying living muscle and bone. The spiders drank her contents out, left her empty skin blowing down the road in the wind.

Across the world on a sun-bleached plain, a man spied a black shape in the distance. An alien predator. He knew there was no running from it; no one could ever run from it. A dust cloud rose behind it as it galloped towards him. He took up his gun and let rip, rattling every round into it. They punched through its rubbery metal skin, but did nothing to slow the monster down. Within seconds it was on him; pulled his head apart to lick out the gold fillings in his teeth. It bit the buckle off his belt and crushed the gun down into its red-hot mouth. Then it dropped the body, and kicking up another dust cloud, it was gone.

In the established alien hives of North America, the lanky black lurkers walked out from the Potomac River. There were few of them; they were the upper order. Scuttling silver spiders paused and backed away; hulking predators ground to a halt and bowed as their masters stalked by. They had come to the humans’ white palace, where their leader had been closed away in his room of command. The predator guarding the man-leader’s door let its masters through. The lurkers looked around constantly at such alien surroundings, wondering how such a race could ever function. There were no solar cells on the walls, no wind turbines on the roof. Nothing in these human hives created energy; they only sapped it away.

The human leader himself was weak and afraid, unable to strengthen himself with sunlight, water or wind. It was reported that the humans had to digest other organisms to survive, like the lower orders of life on their homeworld. Such inefficiency sickened the lurkers; this was a planet so much larger and more plentiful than anything they’d ever dreamt of. It was a paradise, and it was diseased by humans. Here their race could flourish, and explore other distant worlds. The humans’ leader was making pleading sounds. It was a vocal communication, much like their own, but like the humans’ bodies their speech was flimsy and inefficient. The lurkers gathered around him, and wondered why they’d ever asked for him to be left alive. There was no great secret to the hairless apes, no higher knowledge that they possessed. They were intelligent and aggressive, like themselves; but the humans were the poorer player, and they would lose. They even fought amongst themselves, destroying one another. They were redundant, a failed mutation, adept at reproducing but completely unsustainable. It was best for them to be removed from the ecosystem. The animals they’d bred to consume would be freed; the crops they’d farmed would grow wild again. The lurkers would preside over a world of peace, where no living thing died before its time. There was much to learn from a planet that enjoyed such long days; such strong sunlight. Their own race was stronger here than on their homeworld; happier and more productive, breeding in half the time. Earth was a paradise. The lurkers had nothing to gain from prolonging the life of the human leader. The tallest amongst them came forward, lifted the human into the air by its neck, and blew it apart with a bolt of light.

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