We Never Saw Them Coming
We never saw them coming.
We all woke up that morning, filled our heads with the inevitable minutia of the day to come, and dreamt of the moment we went back to the cocoon-warmth of our beds. This would repeat the next day, and the next, and the next. Ad nauseum; ad infinitum.
What would have happened if I’d just stayed in bed? It wouldn’t have mattered.
I stood on the back deck, sipping the pure joy that was my fresh cup of coffee. Zelda, my black lab, lackadaisically romped in the cool grass, finding smells I’m sure she could only describe as groundbreaking, revolutionary, or possibly avant-garde.
Suddenly, Zelda’s ears pricked up, and she drew her gaze to the sky.
The sky was dark and foreboding. A storm threatened another dreary day of me passing the time inside. Toward the northwest, where the sky was darkest, the clouds parted, roiling like the vapor from a smoker’s exhalation. Emerging from the darkness came their ship; a horizontal floating skyscraper, lined with pulsating amber lights, devoid of any human engineering.
An aberration to our natural world.
Civilizations, when met with another considerably more advanced, only have one response: fear. Fear of their perceived control over the world slipping helplessly through their fingers, and the briefest of moments, I felt that fear rip through me. I was helpless.
The noises of nature were drowned out by the screams of those unfortunate enough to look to the heavens. Birds frantically flew in undiscernible patterns. The dog growled, baring its teeth at the unknown enemy. My heart pounded, but it was the only thing I could physically feel. No longer could I register my corporeal form. I was nothing but a mind floating in the black abyss of terror.
Shimmering golden light, as solid as a Corinthian column, belched from the belly of the ship and struck the ground far beyond the horizon of trees. There was no sound, only light. I didn’t know what was more concerning, the apparent death-ray of the ship, or not knowing where it landed or what it did.
But then, I heard its roaring violence and I felt its earth-shattering quake. I grabbed at my ears to protect them as I fell to the ground, but it was too late. Searing pain erupted within my head and everything abruptly went dead silent. My world now reeked of fire and brimstone.
Every war, every technological advancement, every hope, and every fear we’ve had as a people, have become meaningless. Every moment in our lives that led up to this singular moment were now rendered moot. Surely, we would have blown ourselves up with nuclear war, or destroyed our own atmosphere. Maybe an errant particle accelerator would open up a black-hole that swallowed our planet into its gaping maw. In truth, we spent so much time looking inward, we never looked out into the ominous void of space.
I don’t know if they ever bothered to communicate with us. Maybe they did and, in our arrogance, we called their bluff. Maybe we aren’t even worthy of a warning. Maybe they have watched Earth for years and finally we went too far. Maybe we were close to discovering a technology that would destroy the entire universe and whoever these beings are, and they needed to stop us. But who cares; we’re all about to die. Some already have.
I watch as the light vaporizes the neighbor’s house. It reaches my fence. Zelda can’t escape and is consumed; her black silhouette snuffed out with fire. I don’t have time to mourn her as my skin begins to bubble and peel away, but now there is no pain. The last thing I think as the raging wall of fire comes burning towards me:
We never saw this coming.