Tuesday, January 09, 2007


We're in Columbia, South Carolina, throwing a large dinner party. It's in a very big house, like my parent's house but bigger and unfamiliar. Some of the guests have arrived, and it's nice time as we wait for the rest to arrive. It's getting later and later and the last guests have not arrived.

I walk down to a central shopping area like 5 Points to see where our guests are. The streets are empty of the shoppers, strolling couples, and teenagers that usually pack this place. Instead, in some of the windows are people who look off. They are in the shape of people, the right bits, but they are lumpy or lopsided, like straw dolls. They are distorted like poorly made puppets and they stare out of the windows with skewed eyes that don't blink or look around.

I am too scared to investigate or go into the shops, and I return home to tell my people what I've seen and to protect them.

When I get home, we figure out that there are aliens among us, that they have begun infiltrating. They begin as appliances and small home electronics. These aliens understand the general shapes of things, but not their purpose or uses. Their larval forms are crude approximations. So one might begin as a television, but not understand that the screen should be smooth and square, not wavy or slanty. A toaster might have too many slots or the slots might be too small. Things might have too many knobs or other suspicious features. When the appliance has grown large enough, it can shape itself as a person.

Given that I've seen a large pedestrian area already taken over, it stands to reason that these must grow quickly and that they must be harmful to people.

We find a cable box sitting on top of a television that has no LED's on the front and isn't plugged in. When I move towards it, the cable box skitters away, dragging its power-cord tail behind it. It scuttles towards a couch and I leap towards it, bashing it with a poker or baseball bat. Smashed, it is full of tightly compacted meaty muscle and guts. My guests and I begin searching the house for other aliens.

A man who looks like Robert Stack is at the party, a hard-bitten WWII veteran who tells us that we are all going to die. We aren't organized enough. If this had happened during his generation, the party would have split up into organized squads and scoured the house top to bottom, starting at the attic and sterilizing it. Then they would have secured it militarily and made sorties out to find other people and begin killing every alien.

Instead, we are going to eventually try to negotiate with them, or understand them. This is going to get us killed. Understanding is for when you've already won and are dealing with harmless remnants.

This Robert Stack guy is a bastard, but he feels right and we feel doomed.