FICTION: ALIEN NATIONS
It’s the flares... They are driving us crazy.
I’ll let my wife explain.
”That’s what I started calling them. The flares. Those fucking...!”
No, wait, sorry... she’s upset, it’s the kids. Sorry... No, leave it hon. Go to the kids.
We’re all on edge now. No one says what’s going on, they’ve no explanation. It’s bugging us.
This is not good for us. On top of everything else.
Look, I’ve got to get out... I need to.
Now I’m in the bar down the street. I don’t come in here. I don’t know any of the people here. This feels strange. I used to have good friends. We could tell each other anything. But this doesn’t feel the same. They look strange. I don’t feel right here. But I don’t want to go back. Things don’t feel right at home now.
I get a drink. It tastes sour. I’m listening to three guys further down the bar.
It’s the government behind it. They’re experimenting with something. I don’t know what but it has to be something like that. Or it’s the Chinese, or Russians or Koreans, I don’t know.
I heard it might be a weather thing, some change in the ozone. Fluctuations. Something we’ve done that can’t be undone. It might be. Strange things have been happening with the weather lately...
Maybe. It could be either. Who knows? That’s the worst thing, no one knows. Nobody can say. They havn’t a fucking clue...
I wasn’t feeling any better. A dread was creeping up inside me. There was no bonhomie here. I felt maybe I was having a panic attack. I'd never had one, I’d only ever heard about them. But I felt strange. I tried to think of something that might cheer me up. I took another sip and thought about leaving.
He’s not the same anymore. Nothing is. He’s like a stranger. It’s horrible. I hate it. But I can’t change it somehow. Somehow I need him to change it. I can’t explain. I have to think of the children. I can’t think of everything. I can't solve everything.
And with these damn flares, I can hardly think at all...
I left. It was beginning to rain. The dark street outside the bar made me feel even worse. I wanted to cry. Maybe that would give me some relief. But tears wouldn’t come. It made me feel closed in, hurting...
Just then, up above, one burst. It lit up a good portion of the sky between the blocks, green-yellow, misty in parts, thicker here and there. I ran for home.
The kids plagued my mind. It was as if they weren’t really mine anymore. I couldn’t relate to their needs somehow. I should be playing with them, I should be creative, happy, making them laugh... I couldn’t do it.
Look at him. He’s a complete stranger. He gives me the creeps. My skin crawls away from him in bed now. It’s horrible. I wish we could fight and then he’d sleep on the couch or leave altogether. But no, I don’t want that. For the kids...
I headed for the kitchen, my refuge apart from our toilet. I felt safer there than anywhere else. In the toilet was the best as I could lock the door. Safe... for a while. I could breathe again.
Ugly adults. I hate them! No fun!
High up above the apartment block a black stain was sweeping across the night. High dark clouds were motionless, rain swirled as gusts took it down. There was ice in it. Higher, the stars were passionless observers. Drifting in a pale aura of its own the Moon, a silvered ghost’s eyeball hung menacingly.
Rain splattered. Cars, taxis. Shadows that were men and women. Motion slowing, ending then stopping. Silence.
Where will this end? No one tells us what’s happening. We need some reassurance. What do we pay these people for?
He used to go to work. He had some people there he liked and who liked him. Now almost everyone worked at home.
Almost no one went out now. Home was safer.
He tried to sleep but had too many thoughts. And the flares were constant now. Endlessly swirling from one horizon to the other. Reddish. Golden-Green. Yellow. Everything between.
It was like when there was lightning in the distance lighting the clouds... but no thunder. The flares never made a sound. That made it worse somehow...
I don’t want to feel like this.
Will she come to bed soon?
She’s probably putting the kids to bed. Should I be there too? No. Too much danger of some upset when I do something she doesn’t like. Some expression. Not enough smiling. Hatred rises.
He can’t even be bothered to say goodnight to the kids. That’s shameful. Why did I ever let this happen? Why him? He’s horrible, I can’t stand him anymore. I want out.
The lights were going out in the neighbourhood. The streets were darkening. Above, flarelights played... Endless. Silent.
Shining, singing spires, pink glow suffused. Rainbow auras in the air flowing. The soft sound of fire flying.
Worlds at war across deep space. No meeting of minds. Mistrust. Malignant. Hatred.