Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: LIFE WILL BE DIFFERENT NOW
By Dee Yoder
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We laughed at our family jokes and told our campfire tales in the hours gone before while we waited for the sun to give over its bright rule of the earth to the evening night-lights. Now we are content to rest quietly; to listen and let the end of the day wrap around us like a warm comforter. We lean together, shoulders touching, near slumber in our peace with one another and the midnight world around us.
A streak of mean fire suddenly shoots over our heads. A vibrating, bone-shattering hum shakes our bodies as a metallic machine roars through the innocent white stars. As suddenly as that, a war takes form in the heavens directly above our hilly retreat.
Another silver machine hovers up and out from the horizon right before us. The engines of the great machines whine and grind and scream as they chase and dip toward each other in fascinating, terrifying battle. Before we can run, before we can begin to form a plan of escape, the heavens are exploding with violence and smoke. Debris rains down from the injured beasts, and fire drops singe the sweet grass all around us. More and more metallic birds join the battle and the war intensifies.
We know we are in imminent danger, yet we remain frozen at the celestial horror we’re watching. I finally regain my senses and grab the hands of my children.
I yell above the earth-shaking noise into my husband’s ear, “We’ve got to find shelter! We’ve got to run! Come on!”
He looks back at me as though in a trance. I grab at his shirt and tug him along with all my might. He comes to life and orders, “Stay down, don’t let them see us!”
We run like forest animals before a wildfire; hunkered over, helter-skelter and in no logical manner. We stumble and pant as we maneuver the dark hillside in panic. We slide down into a ravine, not more than five feet across and only as deep. There we stop and lay still.
“What’s happening?” I finally whisper. My breath hurts in my chests, the fear is causing me to hyperventilate; spots flicker my vision.
“I don’t know” James whispers back. His voice is filled with uncertainty.
“Is it an attack? Is it terrorists?” I continue.
I become aware of my little son’s body trembling from head to toe. He whimpers when I wrap my arms tighter about him. My daughter is stretched the length of me on the right. My husband is pressed against me on the left. We form a human lump; tightly we grip one another.
“Mommy, is it Armageddon?” asks the small voice of my daughter.
My husband looks at me in surprise. Questions are forming, but he keeps them to himself.
“No, of course not, Sara.” he assures.
Suddenly, I hear sounds that freeze my blood. Footsteps! Stealthy, sneaking steps trying not to disturb the whispering grasses. I immediately put my fingers to my lips. The children grow tense, their eyes wide with fright.
I fight the desperate urge to jump out of hiding to run as fast and as far as I can, with my children in tow. I begin to pray as the unknown stalker comes closer. I hear the silent soldier stop at the edge of our hiding place, directly over us. I raise only my eyes. A menacing figure looks back at me.
“Are you all right?” asks a deep male voice.
The form is human, but the eyes are not. As I stare, I realize it’s a man wearing night vision goggles.
“Are you American?” asks James.
“Yes. I need to get you out of here, right now, sir.” the soldier replies.
“What’s happening?” I ask urgently.
“An attack. Unknown enemy. From…” he shrugs. We three adults lock eyes, but our questions can’t be answered.
He hurries us before him toward the dark side of the hill. We’re led to an armored vehicle, told nothing as we climb inside. As he walks away, he turns.
“Life will be different now,” he says.
I shudder. War has come at last.
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