Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 16: Calm Before The Storm

There is a lull before every battle. A calm that almost makes you believe that there won’t be one. It is almost unnerving.

It can fool you into making mistakes. Or into becoming impatient. It can be a source of false hope.

We had entered that short period of time. And yet, none of us seemed to be fooled by it. None of us let down our guard.

We knew our enemy was building up their forces to the east. We knew they had forces to the west. But would they use them all? Where would they strike first?

I had my bets on a united attack, one that hit both sides simultaneously. But were they really that coordinated? Could they pull that off?

I was unwilling to discount any possible move. Their intelligence relied solely on the intelligence of their hosts. Though sentient, they could not be expected to do anything more intelligent than what their hosts could comprehend.

Thus, with those now infected from Earth, The European slaves would be intelligent enough to coordinate an attack while those that had taken our own president and politicians would possibly not be so inclined. After all, they had been less than unified before their infection. Why would they change?

Still, I knew that Yah and Yam were more intelligent and would possibly be in the lead. Had there been a Yah and Yam in charge of the Euro set? What of the Asian set? Or the African set?

Which aliens would be commanding? Which would hide behind the soldiers and allow their puppets to be slaughtered? Would they even care?

And just how sentient were these parasites? The questions seemed to have no end. And no answers. Yet.

My only hope was that the scientists would find some secret weapon we could shoot into the ships and wipe out these abominations. But they would have to make more than one. But how many?

I figured that there was one ship per capital. Maybe one per large city. Byond that, I had no clue.

Did the scientists know? If so, were they developing something they could easily duplicate? Or were they just as in the dark as I was?

***

“What’s bothering you, son?” The general saw that I was puzzled.

“How many ships landed?” I returned.

“From initial accounts,” he began, “one per capital. Perhaps the parasite believed, and not exactly or fully wrongly, that all would flock to the capitals when called upon to do so.”

“So,” I grimaced, “approximately 195 ships. That means 195 dirty bombs.”

“Yes,” he nodded, “and all sent out as a simultaneous attack.”

“A clean sweep,” I mused, “providing we don’t have any spies in our midst.”

“There’s always a risk of that,” he admitted, “even in the most coordinated and tight knit armies.”

“So What’s the plan?” I asked.

“We release commands every hour on the hour until the first wave,” he stated, “the, when they attack, we begin sending orders as needed. No daily routine. Just every hour.”

“And once the enemy is engaged,” I filled in the blanks, “we allow the field commanders to do what they have been trained to do.”

“Pretty much,” he averred, “but under advisement.”

“With the main orders being simply to defend and hold their ground,” I nodded.

“For as long as they can,” he acquiesced, “then they are to retreat only far enough to regroup. There is a ‘do not surrender’ order included.”

“I doubt they will ever surrender, sir,” I shook my head, “most are determined to either defeat this enemy or die trying. There is no surrender in them.”

“Good,” He praised, “let’s hope it stays that way until the very end.”

“I believe most have the impression that this will not be a brief battle,” I opined, “but an extremely long war. Maybe centuries rather than decades.”

“And they still stand shoulder to shoulder?” He was incredulous.

“Yes, sir,” I nodded in affirmation, “they do.”

“Well,” he breathed, shocked, “I’ll be damned.”

“It surprised me too, at first,” I stated, “but like them, I am not willing to allow some parasite destroy my planet. Not after what some of us have been trying to do to fix the damage we have already caused.”

“I really can’t blame you,” He allowed, “besides. You’ve faced worse foes than these in the form of some of your own fellow humans.”

“Very true, sir,” I smiled, “but hopefully, after this, that will be a thing of the past.”

***

Our objective was to keep our enemy blind to our plans. There were no written plans. No maps. No clue to what we were up to.

Only those at the core of our command knew anything of what we were planning beyond the day at hand. We sent out hourly rounds of commands to our frontlines. Nothing past the hour.

And since the enemy had yet to attack, the front was only concerned with setting up and readying for the eminent attack yet to come. They had been ordered to stand at the ready, but not to attack. Should the attack start, they were to defend,

At noon, the first wave hit. Our casualties were light. Theirs were not.

I had been correct in assuming that the alien parasite army would try a multi prong attack. They hit us from all sides. North. South. East. West.

Their tactics were weak. Their attack, uncoordinated. Without cohesive leadership.

They were using the human slaves as the coordinators of the battles. Bad choice, but apparently the only one they felt would win the war for them. Distrust among their puppets, though, caused dischord and the inability to make a single cohesive strike.

It seemed that the old rivalries, the old political differences, caused the most problem. None of the human hosts could agree on the most direct way of attacking our front lines. Nor could they agree on which weapons to use.

The resulting chaos was both entertaining and a warning. We had to remain cohesive. We had to continue in our trust of each other. No matter what.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 15: The Moment Of Truth

War came on swift wings. Like a swarm of hellish locusts, the armies controlled by the parasites swept across the no man’s land that separated us from them. War was upon us.

Though empty, we had been scavenging those deserted cities between us and them for food. Those closest to their territory had been picked clean as had those between the Mississippi and the eastern hills. Those closest to us still held enough provisions to keep us fed for a good ten years while those east of the Missouri were almost depleted.

The loss of land to the east left us with everything west of our mountain haven. But there wasn’t much to the west. Just deserted farms and ranches that held cattle and rotting vegetables.

We reclaimed these abandoned sources of resources and place garrisons of resistance fighters near them to defend them. these, we would guard from both mountain ranges. To the west, along the western coast, in the mountains, we stationed garrisons of alien allies. Here, they would coordinate the western defenses of our territory.

I admit that we were trusting our allies more than we possibly should have, but we had no choice. There just wasn’t enough of us humans to put up a mostly human defense on both borders of our territory. We were forced to give more trust than normal.

But they had not given us any reason to not trust them. They had trained us to use their weapons. They had inoculated us with their vaccines in hopes of preventing us from becoming infected. most of all, they were helping us develop the weapon we would use to wipe them out completely.

After all, they were fighting to free their planets as well as ours. This was not just Earth’s fight. It was for the good of the universe.

If we succeeded, a parasite would be wiped out. If we failed, well, we would be wiped out. And if we were wiped out, the parasite might evolve to the point where it could perceive advanced and evolved races and become a menace to all, not just those unwilling to evolve.

And most parasites tended to evolve at some point, just as most viruses did. It was how they remained able to resist any vaccines or medicines created to prevent them. It was nature’s way.

But had this parasite been intended to be sentient? Had it been intended to become so complex that it could mimic another race’s expectations? Had it been intended to mutate to the point where it intentionally infected races it was never intended to encounter?

I doubted it. I had a feeling that what had been a natural occurrence had become an unnatural threat. This negated all attachment to the natural balance of things.

Thus, it was a threat that needed to be removed from the universe. Something that did not deserve to exist. Like hate, fear, ignorance, and greed. Among other things.

***

“We should expect attacks from both the east and the west,” the general began, briefing us on the current position of the alien parasite armies, “we will have to remember that any ‘human’ soldiers we meet are no longer human. They are infected with the parasite and no longer able to control their own bodies. Just as those who will meet soldiers of their own races will have to remember that they are no longer their comrades.

“It will be difficult to fire upon people you once knew. That is to be expected. But you must view every one that you kill as a mercy killing. You are ending their misery.

“Do not allow them to touch you. I have been told that allowing them to touch will put you at risk of becoming infected. And though you will be wearing body armor, it may not prevent such from happening.

“Remember that you are trying to prevent them from reaching our command center. We cannot afford to allow them to discover what we are developing or planning. Godspeed and God bless.”

“Sir,” an alien ally began, “should we carpet bomb their front lines as an initial contact? Or as a last resort?”

“Carpet bomb to enforce a distance between,” he responded, “in other words do so as an initial attack. Distance between our ground troops and theirs is a must. We cannot allow them to get close enough to spread their infections.”

“So,” One of our own began, “if they can infect just by touch, why did none of us become infected from the soldiers we captured early on?”

“They were not able to infect,” one of our scientists interjected, “The parasite has been evolving and adapting to human hosts. While their first victims had to be intravenously infected while being subjected to electroshock, the first hosts allowed them to begin the adaptation process. This process has made them a contagion that can be passed through touch.”

“Well,” the man breathed, “fuck me runnin’.”

“Can they contaminate the soil?” Another human soldier queried.

“That is not yet known,” the scientist admitted, “so we will have to treat it as if they will.”

“That is why our team of scientists are trying to come up with a poison or a cure for this,” the general answered, “that will wipe out the parasite altogether.”

“Why don’t we just nuke the bastards?” Another human soldier insisted.

“Because they aren’t affected by radiation the way humans are,” an alien scientist answered, “we tried radiation therapies in our first attempts to eradicate their threat on our planets. none of those therapies worked. Instead, the parasite adapted.”

“So,” the first soldier sighed, “it is basically unkillable.”

“not at all,” I stood, “I killed it with anthrax, malaria, and several other earthbound viruses and parasites. It can die from indigenous diseases which it has no immunity to. But it may be able to adapt to and gain immunities eventually. Especially if we overuse the viruses and bacteria. Besides. We also run the risk of succumbing to those viruses and infectious bacteria as well, so it is not safe to use them in mass quantities.”

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 14: Training Day

The moments before a war are the bleakest. Darkness seems to settle over everything as uncertainty begins to eat away at resolve and courage. This war was no different.

In a way, it was training day. That long stretch where training took up most of our days, where preparedness met uncertainty. Were we going to be ready when the war knocked at our door? Or would we be too weak to win?

Humanity hung in the balance. Earth hung in the balance. Failure was not an option.

We had no real choice. We had to win or we would cease to be. The Earth was the prize.

I knew I would die trying to save the Earth from being overrun by this infection. I had already decided that. I would not surrender.

I had no clue how the others felt. Only the general seemed to be determined to win or die. The rest, well, most had never fought a war.

Most had never had to face much of anything but a pandemic. Correction. Two pandemics.

The first had been a pandemic of hate that had begun the moment the president had been elected. This one was due to a lack of education. A rash of willful, religiously driven, ignorance.

It swept through the religious community like a wildfire, causing the institutions to fall from favor with the vast majority of the people. Arrogance and greed had made them all bloated, yet empty. Devoid of a soul.

This had made them the perfect target of the alien parasites now invading. Their arrogance. Their hate. Their greed. Their lust for power.

It all made them willing to accept a new master, one that offered to make them all powerful. All knowing. And all seeing. None of which, they would really receive, but they had believed it.

The second pandemic had been a viral one. Those who had bowed to the alien parasites had refused to use common sense and common courtesy. They had seen mask mandates as an infringement on their ‘freedoms’. But then, weak minds spawn weak wills. And weak wills generally lead races to their doom.

And humanity was now being led to its doom. Or part of it was. If it survived, it would not remain the same. No, it would be forever be altered.

But would we survive? If so, how many of us would remain? One hundred? One million?

***

“We’re not sending you out as a spy anymore,” the general stated, looking at me, “your last trips have gained us all the information we need. Our team is busy deciphering much of the video and audio that floods in on a daily basis. We know roughly what the parasite looks like, how it reacts to different physiologies, and roughly how it controls its victim.”

“So what is my position now?” I inquired.

“You will be training others how to disappear and become nonexistent to the se parasites,” he responded, “with the help of our alien allies, of course.”

“In other words,” I smirked, “you’re telling me to train ninjas. Assassins. Shadows.”

“Never thought of it like that,” he scratched his head, “but yes. That is exactly what I am instructing you to do.”

“My only question is how many of our current recruits will be willing to drop all animosity and become invisible?” I queried.

“Hopefully, all,” He acquiesced, “otherwise, we’re FUBAR.”

“Not exactly,” I smiled, “even one man with a stick can win the day.”

“Using my own sayings against me, are you?” He snickered.

“Nah,” I chuckled, “just an old line out of a movie.”

“Still,” he turned away, “I hope that all do learn from you and change. It will push the odds of winning more in our favor.”

“It will also make men like you and me obsolete once we win,” I warned.

“True,” he nodded, “but I would rather be obsolete than dead.”

“Same here,” I averred, “I would rather see mankind rise above all that has kept him divided than to die because he resisted change.”

“Change is inevitable,” he shrugged, “I believe you told me that. And that which does not embrace change tends to go extinct. This is our extinction scenario.”

“And here we were so worried about global warming,” I joked.

“We’ll have to discuss that when we emerge from this,” he admitted.

“That is,” I mused, “if we do not learn from our alien allies and adapt their technologies to our needs.”

“We would be wise,” He began, “if we did learn and adapt.”

“When has man ever been willing to learn over his billion or so years of existence?” I tested. “We rise to a certain point, then regress back to the savage we began as.”

***

“Do we know their planet of origin?” I asked one of the aliens sitting in the meeting.

“They originated on a desolate planet in the Sentaire quadrant,” the purple colored alien announced, “we were sending out our science teams to explore and map nearby quadrants. Some had landed on a desolate planet and had returned infected.”

“So,” I began thoughtfully, “your race was the original host?”

“Not the original, no,” it responded, “but the original hosts to spread it from planet to planet. We were the first to study it and try to put an end to it. We almost succeeded when it jumped from our race to another nearby race.”

“And where, exactly, is this Sentaire quadrant?” I asked.

The alien pulled up a holographic digimap and pointed to a remote region of space on the edge of the known universe that had a very old star at its center.

“That is the Sentaire quadrant,” it replied, “why do you ask?”

“So I know where, in relation to my own system, their origin is,” I remarked, “and also so we might combat them at their source through sterilizing the planet to destroy all remaining parasites there. I have a hunch that they use a sort of collective consciousness to both communicate and thrive. Perhaps there is a queen of sorts that keeps them all alive.”

“You mean,” another alien began apprehensively, “like make the planet barren of all life?”

“No,” I shook my head, “simply to put an end to the parasite. I realize that life, or nature, is a balancing act. Everything exists for a reason. Even these parasites. But there comes a time when even that must end.

“My proposition is to find an inoculation of sorts, something that kills the parasite only, then release it in massive doses over their planet of origin,” I explained, “thus ending the threat. No race deserves to be erased from the universe in this manner.”

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 12: Last Days Of Peace

over the successive days, we learned that we would never see the aliens as they truly were. Without a host body, they were defenseless. Without a host, they died quickly.

the soldiers were not their true image either. Rather, these poor sots were infected members of other races…most from the race that had originally created the armor. Most, when ensnared in our netting, would beg for death rather than suffer at the mercy of the being within them. The general soon ordered that we observe their wishes.

The order only came after we extracted vital information from the last live capture we made.

“What do these aliens thrive on?” The general demanded.

“Hate, greed, all the negative aspects of a civilization,” the captive responded, “they appeal to the religions, the purists, and politically corrupt. Anyone who has not been corrupted does not exist to them. Those who are less evil will seem as ghosts or shadows to them and go largely unnoticed.

“Empty your hearts, I implore you, of hate and greed. Embrace knowledge and wisdom, ridding yourselves of the ignorance that breeds the negative traits. It is the only way to defeat them.”

“Even our hate for them?” He pressed.

“Yes,” it gasped, “rid yourself even of the hate you hold for the invader. Love is the answer.”

“That’s a tall order,” he sighed, “but it is not impossible.”

“Please,” it gasped, “kill me. See it not as killing an enemy, but as having mercy upon a penitent being.”

“Where might we find the being within you?” He asked. “We wish to see what the true alien looks like.”

“It has been growing inside me for centuries,” It whispered, “and is wrapped around my spinal chord. It has complete control of my body, but not my mind.”

“Consider your wish granted,” the general replied, then nodded to a scientist.

“Thank you,” it whispered, a tear in its alien eye.

“It is the least we can do for you,” he averred, then turned and issued the order to the scientist, “make it quick and painless. And when you dissect to find the alien within, be sure to place the corpse in a glass containment pod and do the dissection remotely.”

“Yes, sir,” the scientist nodded.

the alien died quickly and painlessly, an injection of poison administered so as not to destroy the alien within. At least, they hoped that the poison wouldn’t destroy the alien within. There was no telling.

***

“Careful,” the lead scientist advised, “careful. We don’t need this thing loose in here. The containment pod must remain our safety buffer.”

the incision was made carefully and the outer alien stripped slowly from the invader. I observed from a safe distance. It was hard to imagine that there was a world where viruses and bacteria had advanced to a multicellular semi sentient level, but here was one such evolutionary predator.

The host had lost all nervous structure, the parasitic alien replacing it. The revelation was sickening. No spine. No Nerve branches. Just a brain kept alive so that the host could remain living.

This was what the aliens had in store for most of their acolytes. A living death. Zombification without losing their own consciousness. Loss of control over their own bodies but not their minds.

Horrible. Maddening. Unimaginably sad and painful.

I wondered what happened should the host refuse to follow commands. were they injected with some sort of chemical to put them in a haze? Or could they even fight it?

I didn’t want to really know. I could not imagine living with one of these parasites inside me. And yet, I wanted to know just how sentient these parasites really were.

Had they grown in intelligence with each successive race preyed upon? Or was the sentience an illusion? Something used as a ploy to gain trust?

The more we learned about our new foe, the more we found that we didn’t know or understand. The more we realized just how primitive we really were. And the least civilized.

***

“Have we had any answer from our SOS?” I asked.

“Not yet,” the general shook his head, “but we’re not giving up yet. We do know that it got through. We also know that it did not call any more of these things. Apparently, this is all there is.”

“That we know of,” I grimaced.

“If we could discover their origin,” he sighed, “we could bomb the planet with whatever vaccine we discover and kill them out.”

“Always worth hoping, sir,” I averred, “but not likely. Not unless the race originally infected comes to our aid.”

“True,” he nodded, “and there ain’t no telling whether any of those survived.”

“Precisely,” I smiled sadly.

“We can hope, though,” He suggested.

“nothing wrong with that,” I shrugged, “rebellions are based on hope.”

“Is that what you are calling this?” He was amused. “A rebellion?”

“Yes,” I admitted, “sort of. They have usurped control. We are revolting to return control to us.”

“Never looked at it that way,” He raised an eyebrow, “but now that you mention it, you’re right.”

“We have a revolution to win, sir,” I smiled.

“I agree,” He chuckled.

“Afterwards,” I continued, “we will have to address the problems that made this all too possible.”

“The science or what?” He was unsure.

“No,” I corrected, “the spirituality, or lack thereof, within our religious institutions.”

“Pretty sure this has been the death of those,” He opined.

“you could be right,” I agreed, “but in case it isn’t, we will need to address the problems within those institutions.”

“After this,” He snorted, “I’d be for shutting them down completely.”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” I offered, “and go from whatever is left.”

“True,” he grinned, “may not be anything left at all.”

“My thoughts exactly,” I smiled sadly, “but I will reserve final judgment until the end.”

“Good idea,” he agreed.

We grew silent as the dissection of the alien parasite began. We both knew that this was likely one of the last peaceful days we would have. War was inevitable.

Charnel House Earth: The Death Of Humanity, Chapter 10: Storm On The Horizon

“See these links here?” The scientist who had done the video analysis pointed at the enlarged frame to a couple thin silver lines running from the halo-like headband into the president’s head. “I believe this is how the aliens control their non transformed slaves, the ones that are still living and breathing in the conventional sense.”

“What would happen if we clipped those links?” The general inquired.

“There’s no telling,” the scientist admitted, “perhaps nothing. Or maybe death. We have no clue what preventative measures have been taken to keep removal of the halo from taking place. There may not be any. Or…there may be such an intricate preventative measure that we would risk detonating some hidden explosive that would destroy everything within a fifty foot perimeter.”

“Then,” the general understood the scientist’s meaning, “death is the most merciful measure should we have a chance to save these poor souls.”

“Affirmative,” The scientist nodded.

“Alright,” the general sat back, “continue with the next bit analyzed.”

“We also analyzed the video of the laboratory,” the scientist continued, “and though we were relieved to find that this was not the lab where the mindless slaves are made, we found that something much more horrible takes place in that lab. Something that transforms, twists, the individual subjected to the tortures they put captives through into something far more dangerous.

“As we watched, a captive human was hooked to wires and tubes and energies run through him. as these energies were run through him, something else was being done. Upon closer inspection, we realized that one of the aliens was being spliced into the captive. These aliens are a kind of cosmic parasite that feeds upon other races of beings. We, in essence, were intended as their food.

“But while the alien feasts upon its host,” he started the enlarged video so that we were now watching what he was describing, “it uses its host as a way to travel and fight. They are, after all, fairly defenseless when not feeding. And they are far from human in appearance.”

“Can they infect a human without the aid of the energies?” The general pressed.

“If what we witnessed was accurate, they have to be introduced through the tubing,” the scientist responded, shaking his head, “perhaps at a larval stage. Sort of how a mosquito infects us with malaria.”

“So,” the general surmised, “they are nothing more than a giant germ.”

“Yes,” the scientist nodded, “for the most part…though they are far more intelligent than your run of the mill virus or bacteria. or even your average nematode.”

“Can we find a vaccine or cure for them?” The general insisted.

“we are working on that,” the scientist confirmed, “using the dead alien we captured.”

“What is your time table on such a thing?” The general asked.

“Weeks,” the scientist affirmed, “maybe a couple months.”

“Make it your number one priority,” the general commanded.

“Yes sir,” the scientist nodded.

“How are the weapons coming?” He asked.

“We have successfully replicated their rifles,” a weapons tech confirmed.

“And the warcraft?” He pressed.

“It’s proving to be a bit more complex,” the tech admitted.

“any idea on when a replicated one will be ready for testing?” He was not happy.

“Two to three weeks,” the tech nervously replied.

“make it in two,” he ordered, “we can perfect after the first tests are complete.” He turned to me. “I need you to go back in and plant more bugs. Find other vents. See where they all lead. See if you can find the lab where the techno-zombies are created. We need to know how they do it. And how to stop them.”

“Yes, sir,” I saluted, “when do you want this done?”

“Immediately,” he frowned.

“Consider it done,” I saluted again.

“How is the armor coming?” He turned his attention to other issues and away from me.

“Jeff’s armor is ready to be tested,” The weapons tech averred, “as soon as he wishes to test it.”

“I will test it out this round of recon,” I offered, “I am also willing to test the other weapons as well.”

“Good,” the general smiled, “if the weapons work well, and without much difficulty, we’ll expect enough to be made to equip all who are currently here in camp.”

***

I suited up. The armor was tight, but surprisingly light. though tight, it allowed for a great range of motion. The alien rifle snapped into place on the back as if by magnets and yet, was easily accessed when needed. the pistol snapped on the hip for quick access.

Something told me that the technology had not originated with our new invaders, but had been adopted by them when they had destroyed the original owners. Just seemed like a thing an intelligent parasite would do. Steal alien technologies.

After all, man was sometimes just as parasitic. We tended to steal things from others and call it our own as well. And we were a race of beings. Not a walking bacteria.

Once I was all suited up, I boarded the plane. I was ready to go in. I was ready to do what I had been asked to do.

But this time, I was armed with their weapons and was protected by their armor. This time, I was testing their technologies against them if I needed to. And I hoped I did.

“What’s our destination?” I asked the pilot.

“The aliens have expanded their zone,” she began, “so I cannot drop you at the airport where we dropped you the last two times. I can’t get you anywhere near the ship now.”

“What does this mean?” I queried.

“I have to drop you at the abandoned airport in Canton,” She responded, “and you will have to journey the rest of the way either on foot or by stolen automobile.”

“Ah,” I smiled at her, “I get to hotwire a ride. Hope someone left their Harley so I can travel in style.”

“Meet me back at the Canton airport in four days’ time,” she admonished, “and we’ll head back to HQ.”

“Will do,” I replied.

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.