Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 9: Back Into Hell

I was flown to the abandoned airport near Washington, DC again. This time, I was armed with the crossbow and two wireless bugs and several relays. The bugs were to be planted in the air ducts of the alien ship. The relays were meant to be attached to the now idle cell towers that dotted the landscape in between.

I knew that my return to base would be slow, but I didn’t care. perhaps I could glom onto a semi, trailer and all, and abscond with the food that was now sitting abandoned in the stores that lay on my path home. I kind of wished that I had been allowed an assistant so he could glom onto a fuel truck, but I understood why they refused to take the chance.

We knew absolutely nothing about the aliens. How they gained control of their human supplicants. How they detected their victims.

All we knew was that they could not sense me. I did not exist to them. I could slip in on them without warning and leave behind whatever I was asked to leave.

It made me the perfect spy. The perfect thief. And the perfect assassin.

I took aim at the guard the aliens had left to deter me from doing my job. rather than use a large bolt, I opted for the small dart gun on my arm.

the dart hit its target and injected the virus, then disappeared. Perfect hit. The alien guard slapped the back of its neck.

I wondered how the malaria parasite would affect the alien. How quick would it take? What symptoms would be the first to develop, if any? Would it spread through the collective as it did with humans? Or would it ride their psionic connection?

I watched as the alien suddenly collapsed without warning. Interesting. I had not seen that coming.

I slipped into the ductwork of the ship unseen. Unsensed. Unhampered.

It would take time for them to discover their comrade. By then, I would be gone and the bugs would be planted. Hell. I would probably be to my next destination.

I quietly made my way to the conference room. I had but one mission here. I didn’t need any weapons. I only had to plant the bugs.

I was soundless as I went. No need to alert them to my presence. No need to set off alarms.

I smiled. So far, so good. I corrected myself. No need to get cocky. Being cocky caused mistakes. Big mistakes.

***

I slid out of the ductwork on the other side of the ship. Both bugs were now in place and two aliens had succumbed to two different illnesses. I had been very effective.

I had successfully completed another mission. The aliens would never know that I had been there. Not unless they looked at the backs of their soldiers’ necks.

Did they have necks? What did they actually look like? would our cameras catch them as they were? Or as they appeared?

I would have to wait for those answers. Now, I had to make it to the first tower and attach the relay transponder. To do that, I would have to find a car or some automobile.

I was also getting hungry. I hadn’t eaten since I left the base. That had been ten hours ago.

As I slipped from shadow to shadow, I wondered how long it would take for the aliens to program a human to betray me. To help them see me. So far, I had been lucky and they suspected nothing.

But that would come to an end once they realized that I could assassinate them without being detected. I hoped they wouldn’t even try. I hoped that they refused to believe that their comrades had been killed by a human agent.

I hoped that they would believe that their soldiers had accidentally uncovered an old human weapon, some canister of gas, and had loosed whatever had been inside trying to discover what it was. Still, I knew better. Perhaps they might initially come to that conclusion, but they would figure it out at some point.

Then I would be a sitting duck. I would have to hide. I would no longer be able to spy for my own.

It could possibly spur them into finding a cure or vaccine compatible with their physiologies. Or maybe to create a better armor. One I would not be able to find the weakness of.

For now, The mission had been a success. I had proven that they were susceptible to human diseases. I had planted the bugs.

***

I arrived at the last tower and climbed to the top. It was after dark and I wanted to be done. I had spent six days on the road in a truck with two trailers. One was filled with diesel, the other was filled with food.

I had done well. Rather than use the fuel in the tanker, I stopped regularly and siphoned off gas from abandoned tanks at stations. Perhaps I would make more trips to gather more fuel. I didn’t know.

That was up to my superiors. All missions were. As long as I didn’t have to lead, I was happy following orders.

The road headed toward base was a lonely one. Empty. I could remember when the interstate was packed with cars and trucks.

But here we were. A third of the population had fallen into darkness. We were what was left.

We outnumbered them, sure. But we were still without weapons that could kill them outright. Bioweapons didn’t count.

They were dirty. Dangerous. Potentially lethal to us as well.

Their use had to be limited. We could never use them wholesale. It was too dangerous.

BUt what about nukes? We had precision nukes. One that could hit a predesignated target with a 90% accuracy. We also had ‘dirty’ bombs. But how effective would they be?

I placed the relay at the top of the tower, then climbed down. This part of my mission was now complete as well. I went to the truck and climbed in.

Time to head for base. Time to head for bed. And safety.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 8: Stolen Gems

I had been fortunate enough to steal ten sets of the alien armor as well as a dozen guns and assorted other weapons. The warcraft I had also stolen would offer an opportunity for the scientists to study and replicate alien technology. The video and audio gave us plenty to observe, but only the audio gave us anything definitive.

For instance, we knew that they planned to make us outlaws. Enemies of the state. And they believed we were dumb enough to fall for their trap.

They wanted us to give in without a fight. Become their slaves willingly. Something that was never going to happen.

“You did good, Jeff,” the head of our intel division asserted, “you got us audio of what they are planning.”

“I felt it was necessary,” I averred, “important. Something just told me to hit record at that point in time.”

“And well you did,” She nodded, “You’ve saved us all.”

“All in a day’s work,” I smiled.

“Now,” she admonished, “don’t get cocky. We don’t want you making a mistake and getting caught.”

“So,” I began, “What’s next?”

“First,” she started, “we allow the science and technology department to study the weapons and armor you brought us to see if they can replicate them. Same with the warcraft you stole. Once they are able to, we wait until they can build you both. Then, we send you out on more recon missions since you are the only one thay seem to not see.”

“And the video of that poor man?” I inquired.

“we will study it to see what is happening,” she sat back, “then, we will run over it with you. We may need you to-plant a few bugs for us.”

“Not hard to do,” I shrugged, “as long as I don’t have to go and blend in.”

“No,” she smiled, “nothing like that. more….ductwork, though.”

“I see,” I nodded, “stealth work.”

“pretty much,” she giggled, “but no theft.”

“See if Tech can design a sniper rifle using the alien guns,” I suggested, “when I have to take on out, I don’t want them to see it coming.”

“Will do,” she promised, “but for now, you will have a crossbow with special bolts.”

“Intriguing,” I uttered, “able to penetrate their armor?”

“of course,” she winked, “and some will carry certain viruses and infectious bacteria in tranq-dart configuration.”

“Chemical warfare,” I mused.

“Yes,” She admitted, “everything from sarin and anthrax to the plague and typhoid.”

“That’s quite a wide range of infectious diseases,” I remarked.

“Perhaps they will spread it through their own community. And their slaves,” she suggested, “though there is a slight risk of it spreading back to us.”

“As always,” I nodded.

***

Cheyenne Mountain became our temporary home. As a bunker, it was somewhat safer than our other options at this point.

We were met by the commander of NORAD.

“You’re trespassing on US military property,” He warned.

“There is no US military,” I responded, “and no nations of the world. There is just us and you. We represent what is left of the world population.”

“What the fuck happened out there?” He demanded.

“Our governments were taken over by the aliens,” I informed him, “there is no longer a president, VP, or Congress. Even the Supreme Court is gone. All are now under the control of the aliens.”

“And the military?” He was hesitant.

“Those who were near the ship are either prisoners or enslaved,” I answered, “Those still on the bases retreated to our location in Iowa and regrouped. It was upon their suggestion that we headed here for safety.”

“Damn,” he breathed, “I was wondering why there had been no word from Washington.”

“The religious leaders of the world gave up without a fight,” I stated, almost as if I had read his thoughts, “and they bowed in reverence to the illusion cast by the invaders.”

“Fucking idiots,” he scowled.

“We have intel that they will be passing laws,” our intel chief began, joining us, “to coax all resistance in peaceably. They will be outlawing resistance.”

“The hell they will,” he seethed, “who collected the intel?”

“I did, sir,” I responded, “since I don’t exist to them, I can slip aboard their ship. I also stole some of their weapons and armor. And a warcraft.”

“Then,” he smiled, “I see no reason why you shouldn’t remain our chief spy.”

“It’ll be an honor, sir,” I saluted.

“For Christsakes!” He exclaimed, slurring Christ and sakes into a single word. “At ease, soldier.”

“We’ll be sending him back in as soon as Tech is finished examining and replicating the alien technologies, adapting them for human use.”

“Good, good,” he nodded, “and what will his mission be?”

“To plant a video and audio bug above both the meeting room he recorded the discussions on trying to coax us in over and above the lan he brought video feed from.”

“The purpose?” He was curious.

“We want to get a closer look at the headbands on the leaders,” She averred, “for one. And for another, we wish to learn exactly what was going on in that laboratory.”

“Very good,” he nodded, “we need to collect all the intel data we can.”

“I suggest that you put out a coded message for all military still out to collect here,” I advised.

“I agree,” he smiled, “and will do so immediately. We’ll try to connect up with Ghost Lake, Groom Lake, and a few other unmarked bases.”

He ushered us inside.

“Unfortunately,” he began, “we aren’t designed to house so many people. We’re only capable of handling 800. Not…” He gestured to our group.

“We understand that,” our intel chief averred, “but, perhaps, we can…expand the facility. Eventually.”

“We were thinking,” he nodded, “that we should go deeper and run tunnels and even, perhaps, creating a city under the mountain.”

“We might even be able to hide the city under the mountain range itself,” one of the men in our group stepped forward, “a few of us are former miners, mudjackers, and sandhogs. I think some of us could even secret the equipment west from the coast.”

“Once enough of a military presence is here,” the general looked at him, “we will see to that mission. You will need cover.”

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 7: I Spy With My Eye

I was transported to an abandoned airport near the alien craft. There, I disembarked the helicopter and began recon activity. Though I had never been a spy, or even a military scout, I was had the advantage. I did not exist to the aliens.

From the airport, I took to the shadows and headed for the alien craft. The city was empty. Dead.

Not a soul moved in the houses, apartments, or shops. Food sat, untouched, upon store shelves. Guns and ammo sat in the sporting goods department of some. It was almost as if they were waiting for someone to come and pick them up.

I figured that most of the population was now slave labor. Some may have joined me long ago, but most were probably enslaved. I had no hopes of finding any free souls here. Not in the capital. Not here on the east coast.

I approached the alien craft warily. It looked nothing like the saucers that Hollywood had taken from urban legend and made mythical. Nor was it the supposed orb-shaped or cigar-shaped ships often described by supposed abductees.

Instead, it looked like a city on a saucer, but with a jagged spike on the bottom that served as the entry and exit from the craft. Had I been a betting man, I would have bet that the craft had been built around sections, cities, from their home planet. their appearance seemed to be such that such thought were easy to arrive at.

I chuckled to myself. Flat Earthers would have been in Heaven with this craft. It epitomized their ideas where Earth was concerned.

I pulled myself out of my thoughts and began searching for an alternate way into the craft. Some port. Some vent.

I found an air duct just above the main entrance and crawled in. I narrowly escaped discovery as an alien soldier emerged from the main entry shortly after I replaced the vent grate. I began to follow the ducting, believing it would take me where I wanted to go.

It would, but I would also witness things I would have nightmares from for days to come. I would also hear things that caused the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place.

I heard voices ahead of me. The president. The Vice President. Several congressmen and women. The new alien masters.

Though I could not make out what was being said, I knew I had to listen in once I arrived to where they were. I hit the record button on my recorder and hoped I had enough tape to ensure a capture of all that was said.

***

I halted above the conference room. Below, what had been the president and his cabinet stood, mind control bands around their heads. Though they had been no more than useful idiots in life, I now felt a tinge of pity for them. Now, they no longer functioned freely.

Resistance to our coming has been rather,,,surprising, considering the primitiveness of your race, I heard the mental voice of one of the alien leaders state, those who resist have apparently taken one of my soldiers captive. No matter. It will be easy to destroy them.”

“They will fall to your will, oh master,” I heard the empty voice of the president state.

Of course they will, hissed the one that had claimed to be Jesus, or they will die.

“They will see reason,” the Vice President said, mindlessly agreeing with the president.

And if they do not? Yah demanded.

“Then they are doomed,” stated one of the now enslaved senators.

You will pass laws commanding them to surrender and come in, Yam commanded, You will command them to lay down their weapons.

“As you wish, master,” Came the unified response.

The president will urge them to come in as you begin making it illegal to resist us, Yam demanded.

“Your wish is my command,” the president replied.

As he spoke, the president looked up where I was hidden. Did he sense my presence? Or had the action been reactionary?

I would not, I decided, stick around long enough to find out. I muffled the sound of me turning off the recorder and swiftly moved past the vent I had been watching through. after I rounded a bend and was out of view, I heard an alien lift the grate where I had been

Bah! I heard Yah’s muffled voice exclaim. There must be a small glitch in the mindbender halo that causes them to look up.

Nothing, then? I heard Jesu inquire.

Not a whisper of a scent, Yah informed his fellow leader.

***

I stopped at a grate above what looked like a laboratory. Below, I could see a human with wires coming out of every conceivable pore and hole. The alien ‘doctors’ were performing something, but I could not tell what it was. Turning on my video feed, I allowed the data to collect.

They could analyze what was taking place once I got safely back to base. The poor man’s screams did not take long to affect me. No one deserved to suffer like that. No one.

Yet, I could do nothing to end his misery. Not if I wished to remain unseen. Thus, I moved on.

The third port overlooked the lab where the ‘monitor’ slaves were made. I watched as human scientists removed the front of a “devotee’s” skull, face and all. one of the scientists glanced up and saw me, though did not give a visible sign for fear of giving me away. But I had seen his look of recognition, though as brief as it was, before he quickly looked back at what he was doing.

he had given me a sign, but not the aliens. He had been pleading. Begging.

And yet, he knew that I could do nothing. Nor could he give away the fact that I was aboard and spying. He could only return to what he was doing, no matter how horrifying.

I moved on and found the armory. here, I finally dropped into the room. I scouted the armory and made sure I was alone. Undetected.

Then, I began gathering weapons. As I did so, I wondered if the aliens would miss one of their attack vessels. Or if I could even fly it.

I decided I would try. We needed something to help us design our own defensive warships. Something that would give us an edge.

I loaded my ill gotten gains into one of the flying vessels, then sought the cockpit. I started the engine. It was so quiet! As I shot out of the bay opening, several alien soldiers flooded the armory and began shooting at my escaping ship.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 6: A Stroke Of Luck

Though war was not yet upon us, we needed more information on how the aliens converted their slaves. We did not yet know whether all were transformed into the mech slaves we had just encountered, or whether there were different levels of slavery. But this was just the tip of what we did not know.

Did they use telepathy? Could they sense us near? What did they look like behind the illusion? Exactly what could kill them, if anything?

If they were telepathic, could tinfoil shield our thoughts from them? Or was that ineffective? What about military helmets?

Our opportunity came when one of the alien soldiers strayed into our territory and became so entangles within our nets that he/it could not free itself.

Free me, it tried to command one of the soldiers in my patrol, free me, slave.

“I am not your slave,” he responded, “I take orders only from Jeff and he has not commanded me to release you.”

Release me and your reward will be great, it promised in a lie.

“Nothing doing,” the soldier returned.

Show me this Jeff, it demanded, perhaps it will see the need to release me.

“I doubt that, alien,” I smirked, “I am Jeff.”

I see nothing where the voice came from, it was now in a panic, what trickery is this?

It suddenly dawned on us that I did not exist to the aliens. I smiled.

“No trickery,” I began, taunting, “I am God of this world. And I lead these men in their mission to clear your kind from Earth.”

But how can you not be seen? It begged.

“Cage it,” I commanded my patrol, ignoring the alien’s frantic question, “we’ll take it to base. radio ahead and tell the doctors to have a manually operated restraint table ready. we’re going to interrogate this alien and take vitals to see if we can defeat them easily.”

I knew that my decision was likely declaring war upon the aliens, but I didn’t care as long as we could gather vital information from them. Their weaknesses. Their physiology. The makeup of their armor. Why some of us existed to them while others did not.

I watched as three of my soldiers wrapped the alien so that it could no longer beg or plead for its release. I got the feeling that they were also trying to ensure that it could not attempt to use any mental powers against them as we transported it back to base. I couldn’t blame them.

On took a syringe and loaded it with a tranquilizer. Surprisingly, he found a weak spot in the alien’s armor and sedated the pittiful being. This made it easier for the other two soldiers to bind the limp alien to a makeshift stretcher so that it could be transported.

After untangling it from the netting-once it was sedated and unable to attack-and securing it to the stretcher, we began our patrol again. This time, we headed back to camp. The sooner we got the captive back to the docs, the sooner we could pry answers from it.

***

“Ask it why it cannot see me,” I instructed.

“Why can’t you see Jeff?” The doctor demanded.

You humans, it began, or most of you, are easy for us to see. Mentally, you are bright beacons to us. And though some are dim, most are bright lights. It depends on your level of intelligence. That is how we see you. your psy-waves.

As with all races, there are also some who do not appear to us. Some races have learned to block us from seeing them. Others are naturally endowed with such an ability. While we can hear them, physically, we cannot see them. This makes them deadly to us since they do not psychically exist to us.

“How do we kill your kind?” I asked.

Find the weaknesses in our armor, it began, or find a disease that you are immune to that we are not.

“Can we see through your illusions?” I pressed.

Yes,” it nodded, with this...though a null-that’s what we call those we cannot see-might also be able to see us as we truly are.

It handed the doctor a a visor of sorts.

“Then,” I nodded, “I could possibly see your leaders as they truly are without the visor?”

Yes, it averred, you are a threat to all of us. Unseen. A voice without an origin. The perfect assassin.

“Will your own weapons work against you?” I pushed.

Yes, it weakly nodded, if you are successful enough to steal samples. it paused. May I inquire what you injected into me?

“A tranquilizer,” I began, “we sedated you so we could safely transport you. Why?”

It is slowly killing me, it replied, its chemical makeup is unknown to my race. Please, I beg you, end my misery. I can no longer detect any of you because of the poison.

I nodded to the scientist, who euthanized the alien.

“Study what you can of his anatomy before he decomposes too much,” I instructed, “then disassemble his armor and study it in hopes of creating something similar for us.” I looked around at all present. “we know two things. First, viruses and other diseases will kill them as will earthly medicinal chemicals. These natural weapons we can use to our advantage.

“Secondly, their own weapons will kill them. Which gives us hope.”

“Sir,” a soldier interrupted, “we also know that they cannot see you or others.”

“Good,” I smiled, “you were listening.”

***

I had opted to go on this first scouting mission alone. No need to jeopardize anyone else. After all, the aliens could not see me. I did not exist to them.

We all knew that war was inevitable. Once the alien soldier did not return, its superiors would search for it. when it could not be found, they would realize that it had been taken hostage. This would cause them to declare war.

I hoped that I could steal some of the alien weapons before that happened. We needed to be prepared. Hell. We needed all the help we could get.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 5: Changes

We began finding the bodies not long after Earth’s remnants had collected in the Midwest and western US. The aliens held only the east coast at that point, and we held everything west of the Mississippi River. But the western US was all that they did not possess.

They had all of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia. They avoided Antarctica and the arctic regions since they could not survive the extreme cold. Beyond their intolerance of the cold, we knew nothing about them.

As I stated, we began finding the bodies shortly after those left had collected and begun to train to take back Earth. The discoveries started with the arrival of what I now realize was a slave sent to spy on us. The man looked somewhat normal, though he seemed to have a visor-like cover over his face that seemed to make his face seem pixelated but in HD.

You could see the line where the visor ended, along the cheeks. Oddly enough, the sides of his face, where the jaw was, did not move when his mouth in front did. I found this odd, as all normal humans’ mouths moved as a single unit, not separately.

“Pin him down,” I instructed one of the soldiers nearest me, “something about him is not right.”

“Right, boss,” he nodded and did as he had been instructed.

“I am going to try and remove this thing from his face,” I stated, grabbing what I thought to be a face shield, “and try to free him from his slavery.”

I gave the shield a sudden tug and the slave gave a loud, mortal shriek. There was the sudden sound of suction, then a loud pop. The unit I had taken hold of came loose without warning and I pulled the poor slave’s face off, along with his brain. His head was now completely hollow.

I stood staring, shocked, at the hollowed out cavity that had been the poor man’s head. his brain had been encased in a metal casing that had sheered it off at the base of the spine when I yanked on the unit covering his face.

I had never seen such a thing. The aliens had made humans into permanent slaves, surgically, by removing their facial structure and encasing the brain in a sort of tank where drugs kept them mindles. Their facial structure was then replaced by a sort of monitor where their original face was projected as if it were real.

They were kept fed through a system of intravenous tubes that carried food from some hidden packs within their torsos where a life support system also lay hidden. In reality, they were no longer human.

Of course, we would not discover the hidden life support or IV feeder source until our doctors dissected the poor man’s remains. Such a horrible way to die, made into a techno-zombie. Neither alive nor dead.

Our tech people disassembled the slave’s face to discover how it was constructed. They found that it was no mere television monitor, but a complex mechanism that also housed a small bomb big enough to blow just the unit and the attached brain. It kept the life support going. It kept the brain drugged.

I found the whole thing sickening. The slaves were not alive, at least not by nature’s standards. They were walking dead people.

No mind. No will of their own. No future.

This had been the aliens’ intent for all humanity. It had been the fate intended for all. Not just the handful who had suffered it.

Had the captured scientists suffered this fate? Or had they been the ones force to do this horrendously nightmarish deed? I hated to imagine either way.

***

The first body turned up shortly after I had destroyed the slave-spy. Like the slave that had entered our camp, its head was hollowed out, but the monitor was gone. Unlike the infiltrator, they had not been attacked by any within our sanctuary lands. Nor could anyone recollect seeing any other slaves. Or hearing explosions.

Had these slaves found a self-destruct switch? Had they committed suicide rather than continue living a meaningless life? Or had they been sacrificed?

I found it odd that there was no mess. The head, or the hollow portion, was still intact. And though the brain and the monitor were missing. Almost as if they had been pulled out as I had done to the spy.

The sight was horrible. I would have nightmares for months after. Had this been the fate the aliens had intended for all? To use, then kill?

I was sure that it had been. Slaves, after all, were only good until they were used up. Had these slaves been destroyed because they could no longer function as they should? Or had they been damaged?

We would find out that it was far less conspicuous. It was not any of those. It was a virus within the system, something planted by the human scientists as a way of causing the self-euthanasia of certain slaves who had been made against their will.

I would even witness such an event not too long after the fifth such body was found. I would be out on patrol with Billy and one of the Russian refugees when it would happen. It would change us forever.

***

“Jeff, look!” Billy had spotted it first and pointed to the struggling slave.

“Ho-ly shit!” I exclaimed, looking where he was pointing and spotting it. “What the hell is it doing?”

“Not sure,” He returned, “but whatever it is, it ain’t good.

“it’s trying to pull its face off,” Uri stated, looking through his binoculars, his thick Russian accent somewhat screwing with the words,”let me see if I can discover what he, er it, is saying.” He held up the parabolic listening device he had been attentive enough to bring along. “No promises.”

He had been smart enough to attach the device to a sound recorder as well. Billy quickly attached his video camera to the setup and we got both video and audio of the horrendous scene we were now watching.

Get out of my head!” He was screaming in digital. “I don’t want you there!”

“It’s almost as if he has a battle going on inside his head,” Billy whispered, “he is the first sentient, the first we have encountered who is aware that something is wrong anyway, we have seen. the other seemed to speak only what it was preprogrammed to say.”

I said get out!!” The poor man screamed.

We continued to watch as he tugged and pulled at the monitor, both sickened and entranced. He seemed to know that the monitor was the answer to his dilemma.

One more tug and I should be free of you…” he grunted. Never wanted to be your slave! I was on to you from the very beginning. Now, out!”

We watched in horror as he pulled the monitor free. The pop was loud enough for us to hear and pick up on the video. The monitor went flying, landing a few yards away. There was a pop when it exploded, and then, nothing.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 3: We Come In Peace

Snapping Larry and Mac out of their shock proved more difficult than we thought. Neither wanted to believe what they had just seen, not that I blamed them. I couldn’t.

Hell. I didn’t even want to believe it. Yet, there it was.

I knew that the problem was bigger than the four of us. It was probably bigger than all those we might find to ally ourselves to. This was because none of us had been in the military.

I had grown up in one of those religions that now flocked to the aliens in the belief that they were God returning to reclaim what was his. They had taught, until I had long since left, that we were to be pacifists. We were not to fight the “world’s” wars. We were to be witness to them and against the world itself.

We were taught a lot of bull shit. Including a running to a ‘place of safety’. A sort of religious hiding place where we would wait out the war of ‘Armageddon’–the war to end all wars. Looking back, it was all a bunch of lies based on misinterpretations meant to make a description of an internal battle into a physical event.

Now, man had lost that war. Both inwardly and outwardly. They had accepted an illusion for the truth and were about to pay for it.

Still, those of us fighting to free humanity would have need of just such a place. Some place the aliens could not find. Some place they could not survive.

But we would have to invent a way for us to survive. After all, even I knew that we would not be able to survive anything the aliens could not survive without some sort of personal life support. Yet, none of us were scientifically or imaginatively persuaded enough to dream up anything that elaborate.

“Lar,” I stated, “can you check the local university to see if the professors in the science department are still free?”

“Sh-sure, man,” He nodded, “why?”

“We need a system to get messages through to all within the science community who have still not been rounded up by the aliens,” I began, “we need to gahter them together into our own group.”

“Why?” He inquired, still clueless as to what we were really doing.

“we sure as hell can’t make personal life support systems ourselves,” I gave him a sideways look, “we need science for that. technology is a part of science.”

“Oh,” he replied dumbly, “I see.”

“Git started, man,” I implored him, “we don’t have time to waste!”

he scrambled to his feet shakily and went to complete the task I had sent him to do.

“Mac,” I shook my other friend out of his stupor, “Your cousin still in the service?”

“Yup,” he nodded.

“Go call him,” I responded, “tell him to gather all the military he can. We’ll need all we can get.”

“Right away,” he jumped up and disappeared.

“Now what?” Billy inquired.

“Now,” I smiled grimly, “we wait.”

***

“How would we get an S.O.S message out without the aliens picking up on it?” I inquired, looking at the astronomer who sat across from me.

“We don’t,” he shook his head, “at least, not with our current technology. It was, after all, a message that brought them. they will likely pick up anything we send from this point on.”

“Can we encrypt in such a way that it would sound like gibberish or somethin’?” I pressed.

“Sure,” he averred, “but it might seem that way to any we might want help from as well.”

“Is there any way to make the alien communication ship go down just long enough to get a single message through?” I asked.

“Possibly,” he nodded, “if someone could get close enough to it for a short time, just long enough to slip one message through, without getting caught.”

“True,” I frowned, “that is a problem. getting close enough without being discovered and captured.”

“Would an EMP work?” Mac inquired.

“It might,” he nodded, “if we had one.”

“We have the remnants of the military headed our way with vehicles and weapons,” Mac responded, “not sure how well our weapons will work on the aliens, though.”

“bullets might wound them,” he admitted, “and even kill them, but that is still unknown.”

“Do they have any kind of body armor?” I queried.

“The soldiers seem to have a light armor,” he stated, “though how effective it is is not known.”

“So,” Larry sat back presumptuously, “Jeff’s theory about finding a place where they cannot survive as a sort of place of safety is the only sure fire way of defeating them.”

“yes,” he replied, “and no. As far as a base is concerned, it is the only true way to stay safe, the idea of finding some place inhospitable. The only problem is that it would also be the end of us as well–unless we were to design a cross between armor and individual life support to counter the effect of our eventual base.”

“Pressure suits with oxygen filtration,” I smirked, “combined with impervious armor.”

“Precisely,” he grinned, “but we neither have the materials nor the manpower to design, let along build, such a thing.”

“So,” I looked away, “we return to the question of getting an S.O.S. out.”

“Yes,” he admitted, “we return to that question.” He paused for a few minutes, as if in thought. “We’ll attempt the EMP idea first. If it fails, we will search for another way.”

“you think they are immune to Earth’s viruses?” I looked up, an idea forming in my mind.

“There’s no telling what kind of viruses they have been exposed to,” he began, “but I am quite sure that they have not been exposed to those of our planet. We can always try a viral attack at some point. Good thinking.” He slapped my back. “I’ll make a scientist out of you yet.”

“One step at a time, Doc,” I grinned sheepishly, “one step at a time.”

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 2: It Came Out Of The Sky

It was dawn when the team from SETI and those from NASA witnessed the ship’s entry into the atmosphere and began settling upon the coordinates that had been sent to them by the visitors. The president, politicians from both parties, every religious leader in the country, and those who believed the visitors to be God returning to claim his ‘kingdom were also present. Millions more watched in awed horror as humanity’s fate came silently from the sky.

the scene was very much the same elsewhere in the world. Europe. Asia. Africa. The Middle East. Australia and the south Pacific.

“Yam,” the lead visitor stated without moving his humanoid lips, “That I am.”

“Yah,” Another began, “that I am. Weh be my title.”

“Jesu,” another moved to the front of the group that appeared as most envisioned Christ to be, white, long haired, bearded, thin, and very American in appearance, “That I am.”

“The end of time has arrived!” The murmur began coursing its way through the religious leaders and rapture-hopefuls. “They are here to rapture us away from this cesspool of evil!”

“We come in peace,” The one who had addressed himself as Jesu began, “and to bring peace. We come to bring you Heaven on Earth. An end to your sorrows.”

“Come,” Yam interjected, “and learn war no more. learn to serve your fellows as you serve the Lord you God.”

“become princes of men,” Yah seemed to smile at the phrase as he spoke it, “under us.”

“Let us bow and give thanks,” One of the religious leaders urged, “for the Lord has returned to put to death this world!”

A cheer rose above the religious collective present. a horrible, ignorant, blind cheer. As if they relished in an end they could not possibly know awaited them.

“We should learn from each other,” one of the scientists offered, “you could teach us of new technologies. New methods of farming. New medicines.”

“all in due time,” Yam urged, “Now, we must meet with your leaders.”

“I am leader here,” the president rudely pushed his way to the front with his cabal of criminals and the congress members who supported his corruption, “I rule this land.”

“Then,” Yam grinned darkly, “I shall start with you. Then, I will meet with those who would pray to us.”

“Shall we go to the White House?” The president demanded. “Or shall we meet on your ship?”

“We shall go to your abode,” Yah stated emotionless, “for now. Future meetings will take place upon our ships.”

“As you wish,” came the response.

The alien visitors were ushered into limos and sped away to the White House. The religious leaders, praising the lord, took their leave with their respective flocks. All who had gathered scattered until only the scientists remained.

As they studied the ship, the scientists seemed to suddenly realize that these visitors were not what they claimed. They were not gods. They weren’t saviors.

“Dear God,” One of the scientists muttered, “what have we done? What horror have we brought upon humanity?”

More aliens flooded from the ship and surrounded the scientists. A select few were lucky enough to escape, but the majority were taken captive. The subjugation of Earth had begun.

***

I watched the broadcast. I could see past the illusion being cast. I could see the aliens for what they were. Predators. Slavers.

I could not believe my eyes as I watched the scene. Though I could believe that the religious community was suddenly willing to give all in order to follow these aliens, and that our government (as corrupt as it was) was willing to meet peaceably with these monsters, I could not believe the initial response of the science community. Sure, these beings represented a chance to learn advanced technologies, but that was not why they came.

Though we had sought them out in friendship, they had come to enslave and to slaughter us. to eradicate us. Make us extinct.

Billy MOnroe, Mac Stephens, and Larry White sat on the couch watching the telecast with me. Mac was so deep in shock that he couldn’t utter a single word. Larry’s mouth had dropped open at the precise moment the scientists had been taken.

“Can you believe that shit?” Came out of Billy’s mouth every time something happened.

“Billy,” I stated grimly, “I haven’t believed much since the current administration got into office. This was something I have always feared might happen, but hoped I would never see.”

“Whadya mean?” He whipped his gaze to me, his face whits as a ghost.

“Humanity is just not as intelligent as it believes itself to be,” I sighed, rubbing my eyes, “even the scientific community isn’t as smart as it wants to believe.” I looked over at him. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re a hella smarter than most of us, just not smart enough to know better than to call out to the rest of the universe at this time. Not smart enough to realize that the other races out there might not be all that goddamn friendly.”

“so I see,” he muttered, still trying to grasp what I had just said, “whadda we do now?”

“Well,” I took a deep breath as I began, “we begin looking for others like ourselves. Military. Civilian. Medical personnel. The scientists who escaped…as well as those who were not there for whatever reason.

“Then we begin looking for allies beyond this planet. Anything that can combat these fuckers. Anything that can destroy them.

“Then we try to convince the rest of the world that these visitors are not our saviors. They ain’t ‘God’ or ‘Christ’. We hafta convince people that these aliens are only wanting to enslave humanity.”

“Aright,” he nodded, coming out of his shock, “how do we do that?”

“I dunno,” I shrugged, “I ain’t never done the hero thing before. Never really wanted to.”

“Guess we’ll wing it,” he stated.

“First thing we hafta do is snap Larry and Mac outta their shock,” I admitted, “we’ll need all four of us on this.”

“Let’s get started then,” He averred, “it’s gonna be a long affair.”

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 7

7.

 

“We are very pleased with you, Billy,” the head elder praised, “you have restored water to our planet of origin and possibly life.”

“Sirs,” he fidgeted uncomfortably, “if I may be permitted to speak.”

“Go ahead,” the elder nodded.

“I hesitate to agree with your desire to recolonize the planet,” he responded, “as the risk of there being a repeat of all that came to pass there is too great.”

“Oh?” The elder was now intrigued. “Is there evidence of the incident not being unique?”

“In many ways,” he nodded, “yes. Not that I have definite proof, but…”

“But you saw something that made you believe,” the elder finished for him.

“Yes,” he nodded again, “there is a massive wall like structure, something that looks man made, that stretches the length of the ocean basin we were first in.”

“An interesting anomaly,” the elder agreed, “one that makes me inclined to agree that mass resettlement may not be a viable option.” the elder peered at him. “So what is your solution?”

“We make Earth an animal sanctuary where wildlife can roam free,” he voiced, “and place a small scientific crew to oversee the sanctuary.”

“Interesting idea,” the elder smiled, “and is there more to this?”

“Yes,” he admitted, “we can clean up the lunar colony, tear down the original as it would be…unusable….then build a hostel or resort in its place where visitors who go to view animals in the wild can stay while there.”

“This is your project, Billy,” the elder announced, “we grant you permission to do all that you have suggested. But you must wait for at least eight days.”

“That is eighty Earth years,” he beamed, “correct?”

“Well,” the elder chuckled, “close enough to. It is about 400 Earth years. Long enough for the forests you planted to grow. Long enough for the climate to return to as close to normal as possible.”

“Thank you, sirs,” he bowed.

“You’re welcome, Billy,” the elder answered, then bent closer, “and you will be placed as management of this new sanctuary.”

***

“So what did they say?” His mother asked.

“They loved the sanctuary suggestion,” he bubbled happily, “and I am to be manager!”

“I am proud of you, son,” she smiled, “you have finally become an adult. Being given a charge is a sign that the elders see you as an adult. I believe the mission you were given was their test for you.”

“So I am to pick the science team?” He looked at her.

“Yes, son,” she nodded, a tear coming to her eye, “choose well.”

“What about those who have been caring for the animals in the preservation zoo?” He inquired.

“You will have to ask them if they would be interested,” she suggested, “but they would do as a starting point.”

“And you?” He pressed.

“I can only offer technical support,” she responded, “nothing more.”

“But we work so well together,” he objected.

“Yes,” she nodded, “but you need to find others you can work with. Others not of family.”

“Very well,” he was disappointed, “I shall. Wish you could go.”

“Son,” she began, “I have had my fill of Earth. It was a beautiful planet, but I do not want to live there. This is your destiny. Your opportunity to shine. Go. take hold of it and do not let go.”

“I will miss you,” he sniffed.

“And I, you,” she smiled sadly, “but I always knew that this day would come.”

“You always knew that I would leave?” He was surprised.

“We all must leave at some time,” she nodded, “and I knew that you were marked for greatness. Greatness that would not include me.”

“But,” he objected, “this was never the way I intended it to be!”

“It never is,” she shrugged, “especially when fate takes a hand in things.” She looked at him. “You were always destined to go back. From the first trip we took, that was to be your path. There was nothing I could do to stop it.”

“Couldn’t you have said something?” He inquired.

“No,” she confirmed, “it would have made you want it more. You would have pushed harder. And it would have driven you away from me more violently.

“I had to allow you to do as your destiny demanded. It was more natural. This is what is meant to be. Embrace it.”

“What of you?” He persisted.

“I will still be here,” she affirmed, “and I shall come and visit. Do not worry. And you may have a brother or sister. It is the way these things go.”

***

Billy selected a team. The conservation team agreed to accompany the animals to Earth and to remain there to study and preserve life in a more natural setting. The conservancy cubes were loaded into the largest ship he had ever seen. 

“What shall we call our ship?” Anders, the bug cat overseer, inquired.

“How about The Ark?” He asked, somewhat jokingly.

The Ark,” the scientist mused, “good enough for me.”

“Let’s get loaded up,” he looked at Anders.

“Yes,” the scientist nodded, “let us.”

Billy entered the ship with the science team. He stopped at the hatch and took one last look around. It would be the last time any of them would see Home.

They lifted off after the last conservancy cube had been loaded. The small loading/offloading crew remained aboard. They would return the ship after all was offloaded. 

That had been how he had set things up. They would load and unload the ship, then return Home with the empty ship. He would remain on Earth with the scientists.

He smiled sadly. In a flash, they would be over Earth. There, they would off load the animals according to their original continent. The Americas. Eurasia. Africa. Australia. 

The islands would receive their animals last. There would be fewer to offload. Fewer to get mixed up.

Behind them. A second ship lifted off. This one was loaded with a cleaning and colonizing crew. The lunar colony would be small, just enough to maintain the hostel. 

Their project would be the most important. It would establish a resort where people could stay while visiting the preserve known as Earth. It would ensure that there was little to no contamination of the preserve.

***

The Ark lifted off from Earth and vanished. Its departure symbolized the last chance of leaving the planet. Billy blinked away the tears.

What had begun as a research project had become his life’s work. He was now fully invested in returning Earth to its former splendor. There was no turning back.

He turned away from where the ship had been and vanished into the primal jungle. He would roam the forests and jungles from this point on.  

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 6

6.

 

He had found the same promise of hope at each capped source. Grass had begun to grow where the water had made a wet spot. The discovery gave him such hope.

It showed him that life could return to the planet. Life would return. That meant that once the caps were destroyed, the atmosphere would return to what it had been before humanity poisoned it.

The rains would return. The plant life would spring back to life. Verdant forests and lush prairies would grow.

He hoped that the elders reconsidered their idea of resettlement. He would rather they return the creatures of Earth back here to roam free. Yes, Earth would be best as an animal sanctuary.

Humanity had its new home. It really did not need to return here. They did not need to risk returning to what they had been.

If they wanted to colonize, they should look outward from where they were now. Not back toward where they had been. No need to revisit the past.

Not permanently, anyway. The animals could have Earth once they were repopulated in their respective regions. Humanity could come back and visit, leaving it as they found it.

Not that it would be hard. They no longer hunted for pleasure or even for food. They no longer had the need.

Perhaps they would have to cull the population in order to keep illness down. Then, again, maybe they wouldn’t perhaps illness was nature’s way of doing just that.

He could only hope that the elders would listen. The planet was going to be pristine. Untouched.

At least once every seed had grown and all animal life returned to its rightful place. And once the oceans were filled and once more teeming with life. Why spoil it?

Humanity had destroyed it once. There was no need in risking it happening again. Not after so much work to restore it.

Perhaps they could replace the colony on the moon and use it as a hostel where they could stay when visiting Earth. They could also clean up Mars and recolonize there.

He would recommend this as more feasible. He would push for the idea of Earth as a nature preserve. A sort of open zoo where the animals roamed free in their own environment.

The only permanent human inhabitants would be those sent to ensure each region’s animals’ full return to wildness. The keepers. They could close down the preservation zoos they had set up on Home permanently.

He smiled. It was a grand plan. He just hoped that the elders would agree.

***

He placed explosives on the last cap. He was finally done setting the charges. It had taken three months, but now they could free the water.

He grinned with satisfaction. Every seed had been planted. Every cap was ready to be blasted. 

“Are we ready, mother?” He asked into his communicator.

“For what?” His mother returned.

“I just set the last explosives,” he responded, “are we ready for mass blasting?”

“Did you remember to place the wireless remote detonators?” She pressed.

“Yes,” he averred, “and made sure that the explosives were just enough to destroy the caps, but not enough to damage anything else.” 

“Then,” she admitted, “we are ready just as soon as you are back in the ship and we are airborne.”

“Then,” he stated, “I am on my way in.”

“Any special requests?” She inquired.

“Turn on the external audio sensors,” he suggested, “I want to hear what it sounds like after the caps are blasted.”

“Very well,” she sighed, “the audio sensors will be on.”

“I’m headed back in,” he concluded, “no time to waste.”

“The hatch is open,” she averred, “just hover right in.”

“Thank you,” he stated, “I will.”

He sped to her location.  He had no time to lose. They had to get to a high enough altitude that the mists of the roaring waters did not dampen their ship and cause contamination. They also had to go above the planet and deploy the relay net so that the simultaneous detonation could take place. 

He hovered into the cargo bay of the ship. Getting out of the rover, he made his way to the bridge.

“We need to release the relay net,” he stated, “so we can finish up.”

“Let us get into high orbit,” his mother responded, “that should do the trick.”

***

The relay net was a remote operated retractable device that expanded to whatever size was needed. They would expand it completely for use, then allow it to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. It would not cause any harm to the planet.

Once it was deployed, they reentered the atmosphere and hovered low enough to capture any sound that might emerge after the detonations. And waited. 

The detonations barely registered as more than a distant pop. A soft, but growing roar followed as the waters were suddenly released. They watched on the monitor as the waters washed over the parched ground, flooding over the newly planted seeds.

It was a beautiful sight. He thrilled at the thunder of the water as it flooded forth. The sound of nature at her most pure. Most violent.

Even his mother was enthralled by the sight and sound. It was the first time he had ever seen her speechless. He smiled.

“So,” she finally gathered enough courage to speak, “this is what the elders wanted you to do?”

“Yes,” he nodded, “though I am not so certain we should recolonize.”

“Is that their intention?” She frowned.

“It was one of the possibilities, yes,” he admitted, “though not the only one.”

“What would you do?” She pressed.

“I would turn Earth into a sanctuary for the animals currently kept in the preservation zoos,” he responded, “with minimal human contact. And almost no human population…just a small number of scientists to oversee the welfare of the preserve. We could…have hover tours to keep contact to a minimum and a hostel on the moon to stay at when visiting.”

“So,” she rubbed her chin, “you’re against recolonization?”

“Yes,” he nodded again, “I am. Why colonize when we can always search elsewhere for suitable planets? What if recolonization sets off the chain of events that originally caused us to leave the planet in the first place? What if we recolonize and end up finally destroying the planet?”

“I see your point,” she averred, “and agree. The risk is too great.”

Ghost In The Ruins, Chapter 5

5.

 

Bones littered the plateau. Shattered remains of buildings, glass stripped by fire and explosions, stood like stark sentries above what had been New York City. A blob of oxidized copper sat where a once grand statue had once stood.

The bridge was still there, but riddled with holes. Crumbling. Unusable.

Empty shells that were once cars sat, littering the streets. Skeletons sat within, sightless and uncaring. Sands had begun to reclaim the streets. 

It was a nightmare landscape. Something out of his nightmares. How he wished he could turn back. 

But he had a mission to complete. In a way, he was breaking the rules at the behest of the elders. He was attempting basic terraforming by reintroducing once native species back into the ecosystem.

The only difference was that he was taking the natural path, not using machines to do the work. All he had to do was find the source of the problem where the rivers were concerned. What was keeping them from flowing? 

Had the source springs dried up? Had they become clogged? Or maybe buried?

Had the same happened to the tributaries? Or had the aquifers been drained? Or had the problem been manmade?

He knew that the aquifers had not gone dry, but too many questions flooded in. He felt somewhat lost. He had admission to complete, but no idea where to begin. 

He sighed. He would begin at the big lakes at what had been the ancient border of Canada and the United States. He would do some scratchings there as well. In each lake bed. 

He hoped that he could turn things around. He hoped he could return waters to this rock somehow. Even a little bit of water flowing could restart the ecosystem. It could get the rains to begin again. 

Yes. He would have to get a little water trickling out of the ground. Just enough to restart the rains. Once the rains started, the rivers, tributaries, lakes and oceans would fill up over time. 

The seeds he was planting would grow. And maybe long dormant seeds hidden beneath the sands. With that growth, the atmosphere would heal more. 

The cycle would continue. Rain, growth, oxygenation…perhaps his actions would bring on more seasons. Perhaps spring and fall would return to separate summer and winter.

He smiled as he thought of what his actions could bring. A renewal. A rebirth.

It could also bring on catastrophe. But that was a remote risk. Something the elders felt necessary to see if Earth could be revived.

***

The scratchings and corings done in the lake beds had yielded moisture. Water had come bubbling up from two holes left after core samples had been taken. Puddles had soon spread, forcing Billy to abandon each lake bed. 

He smiled. Water was to be found. And at this rate, he might be able to return a decent ecosystem to this planet. 

“Water in all four large lake beds,” he reported to home base, “perhaps this planet isn’t as barren as we were led to believe.”

“That’s a positive thing,” his mother began, “isn’t it?”

“A very positive thing,” he confirmed, “has the oozing water a few clicks from you begun to build to anything?”

“So far,” she returned, “not that I can see. But the location is quite a distance from me, so it could have become a bigger stream. In this salt desert, it’ll be hard to see much difference until a lake forms…or a river.”

“True,” he averred, “just keep watching. If it does show signs of change, or the water gets too close, go ahead and move to a plateau.”

“Alright,” she answered, “and I will be sure to relay my new location to you.”

“If I happen upon something manmade and believe it will pose a threat to you,” he continued, “something I have to break, for instance, I will contact you and tell you to move the ship.”

“Alright,” she stated.

Shutting down the communicator, he went back to work. First, he would travel to the north. Check the rivers there.  He would plant the seeds as he went. Forests and grass would grow once more here.

“Moving to the slope,” his mother reported, “for a better view of what is below.”

He switched his communicator back on.

“East? He inquired. “Or west?”

“West,” she replied, “why?”

“Just for reference,” he stated, “the west slope is closest. The east would give me further to travel.”

“Oh,” she responded.

***

Humanity had been stupid. They had capped all the source springs of all the major rivers and tributaries. They had literally stopped the flow of all lifegiving water. All in their greed.

Perhaps they had thought that they were conserving. Or maybe it had been an act of war. Or malice. Or greed.

He believed it had probably been the last. Or maybe a combination of malice, war, and greed. And maybe not in that order.

Whatever their reason, they had killed the Earth. After capping the rivers and tributaries, the rains had stopped. When the rains stopped, crops wouldn’t grow. And starvation set in.

By all appearances, they had forgotten that they had capped these sources. Wouldn’t surprise him. Humanity had not been that smart.

They had always been making war for no reason. Hating for even less. And their greed had been horrible.

They had stopped caring about each other. Only money mattered. Not life. Not equality.

And their politics had reflected that. Their hate. Their greed. Their lack of compassion.

But so had their religions. All of them. None of their religions had taught compassion or love.

Both had been their downfall. Both had brought on their extinction. Their end.

Looking at the cap before him, Billy noticed something. It had begun to deteriorate. Just a little.

Where the water slowly oozed from the cap, a small damp spot had appeared and grass had grown in that spot. A ghost in the ruins. The promise of returned life.

He had enough explosives to blow every cap he found. The problem was, how to handle the simultaneous demolition of every cap on the planet. He turned his communicator back on.

“I have a problem,” he announced.

“What kind of problem?” His mother inquired.

“I have found the source of the problem,” he returned, “but it will take weeks to set up all the explosives for a synchronized demolition.”

“Demolition of what?” she pressed.

“The fools capped all sources going to all rivers and tributaries,” he sighed, “all will have to be blown so that the rivers can all run free.”

“Is that within the parameters of your mission?” She was alarmed at his inference of interference in the natural order of things.

“The caps are all man made,” he responded, “if we destroy them, we return the natural balance and set the rivers free. Is it interference if we return things to their natural order?”

“Well, no,” she allowed, “but…”

“I was told to do whatever it took,” he reassured her, “as long as it restored balance and did not use machines to artificially create anything. Blasting the caps off the source springs successfully fulfills that mandate.

“The problem is that we will likely have to go to every continent and island and set charges…which is time consuming. That means we will be here a while. That is, if we want to do this right.”