Sunday, November 25, 2012

August 29

Just when I think life can’t suck any worse than it does, it proves to me it can.  With great delight.

Two nights ago, we got hit with what had to have been a tropical storm.  Maybe even a Category One hurricane.  It turns out a garage is not a good place to ride out a storm.  I’ll be damned if half the roof didn’t get peeled back over us, sending buckets of water down.  I made Mom get under the desk in the waiting room so she could stay somewhat dry, along with a few of our belongings (including this handheld).  Lucky me, there was nowhere I could go to escape the constant pour and wind.   I can’t believe I didn’t get killed by the flying debris, but it somehow missed me. 

I still feel soaked to the bone though the last of the storm finally left a good ten hours ago.  We may never dry out.  There’s a lake in the middle of the garage itself.  The carpet here in the waiting room is still squishing, and Mom is sleeping on top of the desk now.

Okay, so I seriously screwed up by bringing us here.  But how was I supposed to know we’d have a hurricane tearing off the roof?  It’s not like I can call up a weather report anymore.  Damn it, we can’t stay here.  We’re nearly out of food too.  I’ve got a serious case of the chills on top of everything else and a nasty cough.  I can’t get sick.  I don’t have time to be sick.

So I’m going out now, hoping to find another shelter to hide in and some food.  Not to mention avoiding marauding aliens.  I guess we really did elude that Dramok, considering no one came to our rescue during the storm.  So if I’m careful, I should be okay.

August 29 (later)

I wasn’t able to get far.  Kalquorian ships everywhere overhead, like they’re on patrol or something.  I saw a couple of likely houses a few blocks away.  I was also able to break into two and scavenged some canned food and a nice, dry sleeping bag.  Going to curl into it now.  So damned cold though an outdoor thermometer insists it’s 85 degrees.  The thing must be broken.

August 29 late or August 30 too fucking early

God, is this night ever going to end?  I wake up shivering because I can’t get warm even in this sleeping bag.  Look on top of the desk, and Mom is missing.  I nearly had a heart attack.  I went running outside without even looking first to see if anyone bad was lurking around.  Mom was standing in the middle of the parking lot, standing dead center of the cracked pavement, looking up at the shuttles zooming overhead.  She was wearing just her underwear and bra to boot.  Damn it, how the Kalquorians didn’t see her and swoop down to do whatever they’d do to a barely clothed elderly lady, I don’t know. 

I didn’t even try to coerce her to come into the garage with me.  I just grabbed her and dragged, shoved, carried, whatever it took to get her back inside.  That set off a round of coughing from me that you would swear should have brought up a lung.  When I finally caught my breath and asked Mom with my voice all high and screechy and freaked out, “What were you doing out there?” you know what she said?  Do you know what my deranged mother said?

“It’s too hot in here.  I wanted to stand in the breeze.”

Fuck me.  Here I am, doing my best to keep her hidden and safe, and she goes parading around in her drawers, inviting everyone to have a look.  Adding insult to injury, I’m also busy doing my impression of Frosty the Snowman, feeling like a huge block of ice, and she’s hot.  She’s sweating.  Matter of fact, so am I.  Sweating and cold all at once.  I guess I am getting sick, though I’m going to have to fight through it.  We cannot afford for me to be down with a cold or flu or whatever I’m getting. 

Now I’m crying.  And shivering.  And coughing.  And choking on an ocean of phlegm. I swear, sometimes I wish we’d been in D.C. when the bombs went off.  Being dead has got to be better than living through this constant hell of pain and fear.

Monday, November 19, 2012

August 26

So it’s been a couple days.  Miss me, dear diary?  I feel like a goofy teenager pouring out all my thoughts and feelings to a piece of electronic technology.  But with no one to talk to besides the Duchess of Dementia, you’re all I have.  I’ll try not to gush about the boys that I thought were cute back in high school.  Insert big eye roll here. 

I am definitely feeling better despite all that’s happened and where we are now.  We moved.  I know that Kalquorian Dramok Dusa was keeping an eye on us.  Why else would he have been right there when I stumbled across that Tragoom?  Okay, so it was a good thing he was spying, what with me almost ending up in the belly of that nasty thing.  I am grateful the big, strong Kalquorian came to my rescue.  But being stalked is just too creepy.  I do not want an alien of any sort watching me all the time, especially since I don’t know what his intentions are.  So me and Mom packed a couple of backpacks with all the food and water we could carry and snuck out of the house two nights ago.  I was worried -- okay, terrified -- that the Kalquorian was going to appear at any moment with some cohorts and march us to the Academy.  In fact, I was more surprised that we got to where we were going than I would have been had we been captured. 

Luck was with us.  No Kalquorian attacks.  No Tragooms looking for dinner.  Mom stayed quiet and did everything I told her to do.  Now here we are camped out in a garage that fixes pluggers -- electric cars -- that most of the middle class drive.  Oops, used to drive.  I still haven’t gotten used to everyday life being in the past tense. 

I don’t think anyone would expect us to hide out in such a place, which is why I picked it for our new digs.  We’re only a mile from the Academy now, which gives me a sense of security.  Surely the gangs and Tragooms won’t venture this close to the Kalquorians. And the Kalquorians would never suspect Earthers would get this close.  Living right under their noses is still the best option, in my opinion.

The waiting room of the garage isn’t too bad as far as living goes.  There’s a couch for Mom to sleep on along with some chairs, a desk, and a table.  The floor isn’t that comfortable, but I’m making do.  I schlepped back to the house twice last night and snagged some blankets, along with more of our food and water.  Fortunately ... or unfortunately, depending on my mood ... there wasn’t much left to bring here.  Mom ignored all my orders to ration and went through Dusa’s offerings pretty quick when I wasn’t looking.  Looks like hungry times ahead for the Monroe women.

So far there has been no sign of Dusa or his pals lurking around since we got here.  No evidence anyone knows we’ve changed our address.  I feel like I can finally relax.  I’m even shrugging off Mom’s frequent complaints that she doesn’t want to live in a garage and why can’t we take up that nice Kalquorian’s offer of food and shelter at the Academy? 

I’m so glad we got away.  I feel like I’m going to get a decent night’s sleep finally.  Tomorrow I’ll worry about the food issue, but for now, I’m going to rest.

Monday, November 12, 2012

August 24

I can’t stop crying, except when I’m around Mom.  I manage to barely hold it together for her, but I do.  I have to.  She can’t be upset, because I can’t control her when she’s upset.

I went out last night to find us a new place to hide.  I was so scared, but there was nothing else I could do, right?  Except give myself up to the Kalquorians.  I’ll admit, I seriously thought about it.  I mean, the one who brought us the food could have taken us prisoner at any time.  It doesn’t make sense to try to convince us to walk in on our own if the aliens mean to make us slaves.  But I don’t know how alien minds think.  I don’t know what they have planned for us.

So as much as I’d like to swallow the sweet bedtime story of food, shelter, and being sent to one of the colonies, I just can’t.  Not until I’m sure we won’t trade a lifeless planet for something worse.

So I crept out with only moonlight to illuminate my surroundings.  I never knew what dark really was until there were no more streetlights to drive back all that black.  Even after my eyes adjusted, it was a real feat not to walk into trees and stuff.  I had a flashlight with me, but no way was I going to turn it on.  Who knew what was out there, looking for a woman wandering around with only a kitchen knife as defense?

I found out.  Oh God, I found out.

I’d gone two miles, moving closer to the Academy, still believing the proximity would keep unwanted gangs from venturing near.  I figured at least I’d only have to worry about Kalquorians that way.  Cut my enemies in half.  It turned out I had more enemies than I imagined.

I walked along a stand of trees skirting the highway.  The moon kept the road easy to see, like a quicksilver river running straight and true.  The trees were good cover.  I listened carefully too, and any time a Kalquorian shuttle hummed overhead or I heard anything besides the peepers and whippoorwills doing their nighttime concert, I froze.  I held onto that knife with a death grip, ready to do whatever it took to fight off anything that came at me.  I’ve never killed anyone, and I wasn’t sure I could even if my life was at stake.  But it’s not just me I have to take care of.  Mom needs me.  I’m not much of a caretaker, but I’m all she’s got.  Boy, I was feeling that responsibility last night as I snuck through the trees, keeping the road in sight.

The woods were getting a little sparse as I went along, and I began to look ahead to see the best route that would keep me hidden.  It was mostly thin pines, with the occasional oak here and there.  I kept low as I moved among the pine trees, practically crawling and straining to hear the least little sound.  I got to one of the oaks, a big, massive thing, almost prehistoric in size.  Another stretch of pines lay before me, which would put me in danger of exposure once more.  On the other side of those waited a big boulder that I could hide behind and catch my breath.  After that, the cover would thicken again. 
I was halfway to the boulder when something putrid began to stink up the place.  It smelled like a dumpster filled with rotting food.  The farther I crept, the worst the stench got.  I thought that once I got behind that rock, I’d have to puke my guts up.  It smelled that horrible.
My eyes were absolutely watering only a few feet from my boulder.  My stomach was twisting, getting ready to heave.  I could even taste that noxious poison on my tongue.  My thought was there was a dead animal up ahead, something bloated and decomposing in the hot, muggy Georgia summer.  I kept my eyes open for it, because if I stumbled and landed on it, I would be projectile vomiting.
Then the fucking boulder I was heading for and was only an arm’s length away from -- it moved.  It straightened up and stood on two thick legs, about seven feet of monster looming over me.  Its chipped tusks gleamed in the moonlight, surrounding a rounded snout.  A fucking Tragoom.  A motherfucking, Shalia-killing Tragoom.
It’s no wonder the damned thing looked like a rock, crouching there at the edge of the trees.  Tragooms look like the bastard children of a pig, a rhinoceros, and Mount Everest.  That was where the stink was coming from.  Those massive, nasty creatures will eat anything -- or anyone -- they can catch.  And I had walked right up to it.
It lunged for me, and I didn’t even have to think.  My arm was jackhammering the knife I held, trying to stab the thing in its massive chest.  Rough, treebark hands -- paws -- hooves -- whatever it uses to grab, wrapped around my upper arms.  The blade bounced harmlessly off its hide, and it jerked me close to its rancid body.  Its mouth opened wide, sending carrion stench boiling out, and I thought, I’m going to die and the last thing I’ll know is this smell of other dead things it’s eaten.
Then something hit the Tragoom with the force of a runaway train.  The Tragoom let go of me and squealed a shriek.  Something roared just like a lion, and I thought maybe something had gotten loose from a zoo.  Except the closest zoo I know of was in Atlanta, and that’s just a crater now.

So thinking these stupid thoughts, I fell to the ground as the Tragoom and something not quite as big fought.  They rolled out of the trees towards the road.  In the moonlight, I could see a human form struggling with the monster.  Then the shwoop sound of a percussion blaster went off, and the Tragoom collapsed to the ground. It didn’t move any more. 

The other figure that looked human stood up, its silhouette tall and muscled.  He looked towards me and said, “Are you all right, Matara?”

I knew that deep, smooth voice even though it was a little out of breath.  It was Dramok Dusa, the Kalquorian who’d left food for me and Mom, along with a promise he’d see us in a few days.  The very reason I was out here tempting Tragooms to snack on me.

I didn’t answer.  I turned and ran all the way back home, expecting the Kalquorian to grab me at any moment.  I made it without being captured.  And though my lungs were burning like fire and I did finally puke, I pushed furniture against the front and back doors, to try and keep Dusa out.  To keep us safe from all the things running around out there in the dark.

When I was a kid, I thought the bogeyman was a real thing, something that could pounce on me at any moment after the lights went out.  That monsters roamed the night.  Turned out I was right.

Monday, November 5, 2012

August 23

I am so freaked out.  The Kalquorians know we’re here.  I just can’t figure out why they haven’t forced me to go with them since I’m childbearing age.

Mom and I woke this morning to find a container full of food and a vid message recorder on the dining room table.  I nearly shit myself when I saw that stuff.  I didn’t want to touch any of it.  Someone had found us.  Someone had come in the house while we were asleep. 

So I’m standing there, shaking all over, staring at this stuff like it’s a sack full of rattlesnakes.  Mom was herself for a change, which meant she was pissy.  “Stop being such a baby, Shalia.  We need to know what’s going on.”  So she marched over and switched the recorder to play.

A vid appeared in front of us, a full size recording of that Kalquorian I’d thought of as the squad leader who was roaming the street yesterday.  The one with the straight hair in the ponytail?  Yep, there he suddenly stood, freaking looming over me and Mom.  Damn, that bastard is big.  I only come up about chest high to him.  Most shocking of all, his image wore a gentle smile.  He was actually handsome with that expression on his face.  His face was smooth, looking like he was in his early to mid 20’s.  From what I understand, Kalquorians live past the two-century mark.  I have no idea how old he actually might be.  He even had an innocence about him, like life hadn’t had the opportunity to mark him yet.

We won’t even discuss how his body looked.  Seeing him from a distance in that skintight bodysuit hadn’t prepared me for what he looked like up close.  Muscles, muscles, muscles.  And his groin was even more impressive than I’d initially thought.  Despite not having the best of experiences with men and sex, I couldn’t help but wonder what he looked like naked.  Maybe it was that boyish expression on his face.  The lack of guile.  I’m not sure.  I don’t even know why I’m writing all this down.

Anyway, the recording plays.  Mr. Alien says, “Greetings, Mataras.  I am Dramok Dusa, a scout with the Kalquorian rescue mission based out of your law training facility.  We have established a rescue and aid center within the boundaries of the training academy.”

“It is with great sadness that I report that all Earthers must evacuate your planet.  You are no doubt aware of the explosions, known to you as Armageddon.  These were caused by nuclear devices beneath your major cities and triggered by the Kalquorian entrance into your atmosphere through the Bermuda Triangle vortex.  Because of this event, Earth will be uninhabitable in approximately two years.  It is vital we get you onto an Earther colony of your choice or to Kalquor to save your lives.”

“We realize you may be hesitant to accept our offer of rescue.  I will visit you again in five days to discuss any concerns you may have.  In the meantime, please accept the food and clean water I have left for you.  You should not be drinking water from the nearby river as our tests have shown it contains harmful bacteria.   I have made a scan of you as you slept, and you appear to be healthy at this time.”

“Should you prefer to seek shelter and assistance before the five days are up, you are more than welcome to come to the Academy.  There we will register you so that any family members who are looking for you can be reunited.  We will also explain your new home options and schedule a transport to take you where you wish to live.”

“I look forward to seeing you soon.”

Dramok Dusa disappeared, his great big self replaced by the floating words, Play recording again?  He’d used an Earther device to record his message.  I could see ‘Property of Law Enforcement Academy’ stamped on it.  And he’d spoken perfect English, albeit with a kind of slurred accent.

Mom was already pawing through the container, which had fruits and vegetables.  She shoved a peach in her mouth, not noticing as juice ran down her arm to drip off her elbow.  She had already disappeared back behind the veil of dementia.  As angry as she is when she’s herself, at least she could have offered a good sounding board for me to discuss our situation with.  Now she was gone in that little girl mindset, leaving me to figure everything out on my own.  Again.

It was on the tip of my tongue to warn her not to eat the food, which might have been drugged or poisoned.  Then it occurred to me that had the Kalquorian wanted to hurt or kidnap us, he could have easily done so last night.  I sure as hell never heard him come into the house.  Okay, so apparently his kind aren’t in a hurry to harvest vaginas.  That’s something of a relief, I guess.

Still, he’d said he’d done a medical scan.  Even if it was a portable scanner that one just waves over the body, the idea makes me feel a little too vulnerable.  Almost violated, in fact.  The thought of it sends cold through my body despite the oppressive heat and humidity we’re having. 

I shake to realize how helpless Mom and I had been against this Dramok Dusa despite the locked doors and windows (which were, by the way, still locked when I checked).  He must have used a frequency disruptor to break in.  I almost threw up just thinking about it.

He is coming back in five days.  I have that long to find us another place to hide.  At least I know who had been watching me at the river.  The alien’s snide little remark about the water’s drinkability told me that much.

“Are we going to the Academy before he comes back?”  My mother spoke around a mouthful of juicy peach.

“Now why would we do such a thing?” I snapped.  “Didn’t you hear what he said?  They’re registering Earthers.  Getting a head count.  Processing us.  Then we’re off to work in their mines and have their freak alien babies.”

I realized I was repeating the government mantra on the evils of Kalquorians.  I had no idea if they kept slaves for their mines these days, like they had done to Joshadans in the very distant past.  The breeding thing was pretty much a foregone conclusion though.

“He said we could go to one of our own colonies.  We don’t have to go to Kalquor.”

“It’s just a bunch of pretty lies told by the enemy.  They know a good number of us are desperate enough to buy into it too.”  I couldn’t help but poke around the container myself.  Tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, oranges, green beans, carrots, and so much more.   Even two whole chickens, kept fresh in cooling containers.  And water.  Lots and lots of water.

“We can’t stay here.  Earth is dying, he said.  Or is that a lie too?” Mom asked.

No, that’s the truth.  Mike told me if even just a quarter of the warheads went off, we were pretty much looking at extinction.  But Mom’s eyes were filling with tears, and she looked scared.  I don’t like my mother to look that way.

All my life, my mother Eve Monroe has been either suicidally depressed or abusively angry.  She got the short end of the bipolar stick, since most sufferers bounce between depression and manic highs.  Her highs come out mean.  And she has an almost phobic hatred of medication and treatment, so she never got better.  She was never a picnic to be around, but she was tough in her anger mode.  Even depressed, she never came across as scared.

I can’t handle her scared.  So I said, “We only have his word for it, don’t we?  I think we can put off the panic for now.”

“All right,” she said and went back to eating fruit.  She found a bunch of grapes and wandered into the back bedroom.  She’s knitting baby booties in there, of all things.  She must have enough to keep the toes of fifty newborns cozy by now.  But I don’t say anything about it since it keeps her busy and happy.

I’m really scared of going out tonight, now that the Kalquorians are aware of where we’re hiding.  I’m mostly worried about leaving Mom alone.  But we have to go somewhere else.   We can’t stay here anymore, waiting to be collected by our enemies.