Earth went dark on a Tuesday.
Roy Potter was in his car. Headed from one meeting to another. An hour prior, he’d performed a rather splendid act of obfuscation and deflection. In another hour, he’d repeat it. An expert sniveller was Mr Potter.
When the lights went out, many people crashed. Especially those in vehicles. Many of the humans on planet Earth perished within those first few seconds. Balls of flames erupted, here and there. Screams pierced the airwaves, silenced moments later.
Not Roy, though. He travelled at a solid 15 mph beneath the speed limit. And even at that, he considered himself a boy racer. He often made noises as he drove. The rev of an engine. The squeal of a tire. That sort of thing. Never mind the trail of cars behind him. Let them honk their horns and gesture at him out of their windows.
When the Sun’s rays flicked off — as if God himself had hit the celestial light switch — Roy eased off the accelerator. His Fiat Panda trickled to a halt. In front and behind, cars smashed into each other. Glass shattered. Metal squealed. Bodywork crumpled. Humans shrieked.
A small fireball whumped into the sky. Even at his distance, Roy flinched from the white-hot light.
Something that sounded like an insect buzzed past before it smashed to a violent halt a few metres ahead. Roy couldn’t see what it was — or what it hit. But, if he had to guess, the former was a motorcycle and the latter was a car.
With hands that shook, Roy flicked his headlights on.
Carnage. Utter carnage.
He glanced over his shoulder. Everything appeared to have come to a stop. Nothing moved except for the flicker of flames and the twitches of in-shock humans. Roy nodded to himself.
And then got out of the Panda.
He’d been right about the motorcycle. The rider lay on the floor. Several feet ahead, the bike and the van with which he’d collided had merged to become one. Someone tried to open the passenger door, but the metal had crunched up and the hinges wouldn’t work.
“Are you all right, buddy?” asked Roy. He walked over to the man in the riding gear. He had a helmet on, so that was a good thing. It meant he obeyed the rules of the road. It also meant he might be alive.
The biker groaned and extended a gloved hand in his direction.
“Yes, yes, I’ll be calling an ambulance post-haste. But first, would you mind telling me how fast you were going?” Roy licked his lips. “See, I work for a government agency, and we’re collecting data on how speed affects the tendency to crash. Some people say that speed cameras are a pain in the behind, but I say they save lives.” Roy raised his eyebrows at the man on the ground. “Speed kills, y’know.”
The man on the floor gasped. It came out in a shudder.
“Yes, I know, you don’t want to hear it. You want to race around with no consequences, but let me tell y—“
Roy’s phone rang.
“Oh, hang on, let me get this.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Oh, this is work. Will you excuse me just a moment? Thank you.”
The biker collapsed back onto the ground with a groan.
“Hm? Yes? Oh? Really? Why, yes, of course! I’ll be there as soon as I can. No, of course, I won’t speed. Yes, yes, you’re absolutely right. Speed kills. Rightio, see you soon. Ish.” Roy hung up the phone. He waggled it at the rider. “Work calls, I’m afraid! I trust you can clean up your own mess?” Roy glanced around at the fragments of metal and glass, illuminated in the beam of his headlights. “Can’t leave all this around for just about anyone to hurt themselves with, gosh no!”
Roy turned and headed back to his car. He threw the biker — motionless — a wave.
“Best of luck!”
Walter Simon paced back and forth behind his desk.
His index finger was in his right nostril. It wiggled around. It had been in there for the past — Roy checked his watch — half an hour.
“How long until—“ he started to ask.
Walter cut him off before he’d finished speaking. “They should have received it by now.”
On the desk between the two men, pictures lay scattered. A large structure. Bits of orange and red peeked through the cracks between the different sections. A Dyson sphere is what the scientists called it. A megastructure that encompasses a star to capture its power output. Walter didn’t understand why they called it a ‘Dyson sphere’. It all made sense to Roy.
The aliens were hoovering up the Sun.
“So, why haven’t they—“
“I don’t know!” said Walter. He pried a juicy one out of his nose, examined it, then ate it. Roy grimaced. “Maybe they didn’t like what we had to say?”
“B-but we were perfectly presentable! We flagellated and debased ourselves in all the right spots.” Roy himself had a vested interest in how this went. He’d been in charge of the communique sent to the E.T.s. The science dorks wanted to be the ones to make contact, but the government soon put an end to that notion. What did experts know?
“I know, I know! The thing is—“
A great, mechanical roar rent the air in half. The ground shuddered.
“What on Earth—“ began Walter.
And that was when all the windows imploded.
Both men screamed and dived for cover beneath the desk. Fragments of glass rained over them. Walter swore. Roy — more in control of his emotions — said, “Jiminy Cricket!”
A disco ball of lights blinked through the disintegrated glass. A high-pitched whine settled down into a subsonic hum.
“I think they’re here!” whispered Roy.
“Oh, shut up!”
A steady beep-boop, beep-boop grew louder and louder.
“Ahh yoo thehh hoomanz?”
From beneath the desk, they couldn’t see much of their alien invaders. No feet marched over the broken glass. And that beep-boop noise continued.
Walter gestured for Roy to go and say hello. Roy — hands clasped over his crown — whimpered and shook his head. Walter gave him a kick in the shin, and still, he would not go.
Walter rolled his eyes and sighed. He straightened his tie, smoothed his hair, and swallowed. Roy heard the click at the back of his throat. Walter took a handful of deep breaths.
And then stood up.
“Walter Simon,” said Walter. He flashed a grin and strode towards the aliens. He offered his hand. “Pleased to meet y—“
A flash of light.
The sound of a sizzling steak.
The smell of a sizzling steak.
All that remained of him were his two faux-leather loafers, feet still inside. Wafts of smoke drifted from the charred bones, which stuck up like flagless masts.
“Seek the won yoo corl ‘Roy’.”
Roy shook and shivered.
“Will bl-aah-st thiz plays if yoo don gib uz Roy.”
He whimpered again. The tears flowed down his cheeks. Roy was 90 per cent certain he’d wet himself.
As if in slow motion, Roy stood up from behind the desk. He held his hands high in the air. “D-don’t shoot! Please! Please!”
The lead alien tilted its head at Roy. It looked like a frog — bulbous eyes, green reptilian skin. Their chubby necks bulged and swelled. The bodies were nothing more than a tangle of wires and veins inside a fishbowl. The liquid within was clear-blue. Through the transparent material, organs pulsed and throbbed. Two mechanical arms jutted out, either side of the fishbowls. They hovered six feet above the ground. Beep-boop. The collars around the fishbowls flashed.
All held gunlike objects in their metal claws.
“Ahh yoo ze won they corl ‘Roy’?”
Roy nodded and whimpered, hands still high in the air. “Y-yes. Th-that’s me!”
“Yoo ahh ze won hoo sent uz the messij?”
Roy nodded again. “Yes, I’m sorry about that. Really. Bloody sorry.”
“Yoo dair too quesjun ahh orthoritee?”
Roy shook his head. His cheeks made a noise like Jabba the Hutt. “No, not at all!”
“We clayme ze star fare n skware.”
“Well,” said Roy. “It’s just that, it’s kind of ours.”
“Yors?” The lead alien’s eyes blinked, one after the other. It tilted its head in the other direction. The neck inflated and deflated. “How iz it… yors?”
“Well, we’ve been in revolution around it for the past—“ he hesitated “—thousand years or so!” A rough estimation.
“But yoo did not clayme it. Yoo leaf it dere. We kum—” it gestured to its companions “—and haavest wot yoo haff not haavested.” Its neck bulged. It nodded. “Fare n skware.”
“But we need that sunlight! We require it, it’s ours!”
“Well, zen allow uz to—” it spoke the word slow, to enunciate “—revolutionise ze way yoo stink abowt yore resorzes. We kan offer yoo som lite. But yoo must pay!”
“Wha—? How much?”
The lead alien shrugged. “We kan dezide zis layter. Fore now.” It jabbed a claw at one of the ones at the back. The one it pointed to held up a small black box and garbled some odd noises into it. The lead alien gestured to the window. Eight-and-a-half awkward minutes later, a shaft of sunshine dropped down from the heavens.
No bigger than the radius of a manhole.
“Is th—“ Roy clamped down on his tongue. He was about to ask, Is that it? But given how they’d incinerated his colleague mere moments earlier…
Roy smiled. “Thank you,” he said through gritted teeth.
“Welkum. Now. We go. We will be bak layter. For now, enjoy yore sun. A peas offerin, if yoo will.” The alien pulled a grotesque expression. Roy guessed it was their attempt at a smile. He smiled back. God, how his cheeks ached.
Beep-boop, beep-boop. The aliens hovered out of the shattered window.
Roy remained there for a moment. He watched them go. Watched them board their craft — parked on the lawn, which it had incinerated to charcoal. Watched them zoom off.
Behind him, the charred legs of Walter continued to smoke. And in the distance, the shaft of light pierced the horizon. Like a bolt from Zeus himself. People would fight over access to that shaft very soon. Roy’s stomach churned at the notion of regulating the public’s access to the resource. As was the government’s responsibility.
No. No, this was madness. Madness. It was their sun. Who were these aliens, to come in and steal their natural resources? To sell them back to them, no doubt at an exorbitant rate? Monstrous, that’s what it was.
Something new rose in Roy’s chest. An emotion he’d never felt before in his life. It was a hot, burning sensation. He growled, teeth bared. Roy pulled his tie off and knotted it around his head, like Rambo. He crouched down and picked up a handful of Walt’s ashes. He smeared it beneath his eyes — warpaint.
Roy Potter spoke aloud to the empty office. Empty, that was, save for Walter’s blackened calves. In his eyes sparkled the single beam of light, golden and warm and right.
“We need a revolution.”
5th February 2021
Written for the February 2021 #BlogBattle