Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Short Story: The Corruption

The Corruption

The town was surrounded, cut off by the enemy. They had laid siege for weeks. The wear and tear was showing up on beleaguered faces more everyday. A feeling of foreboding prevailed, it felt like a thick blanket over your senses, blurring the thoughts, feelings and vision.

It messed with everyone. Everyone reacted to it differently. Mostly with bad consequences. Being even on the same plane of existence with these creatures was enough to drive most humans insane. Now they were here in the flesh, even if we had no confirmed sightings.

On the first day people felt giddy, excited and didn't know why. Sometimes an individual's whole personality changed on a dime. Mr. Earl Erstweiler, 70, had been the type to yell “Get off my lawn!” to children, the mailman or even birds. On that day he skipped through town whistling and singing before happily traipsing into the woods that surrounded the town. He never came back.

He was not alone, either. Gordon Reilly, the town IT expert and sci-fi nut had announced he was finally going to go and meet aliens. He wore his old novelty Space Patrol uniform and entered the woods yelling “I come in peace!”

At least a dozen or more that I know of had walked or run to their doom in the woods that day, the rest of us had just looked at each other in horror or confusion. When darkness fell that first night, we gathered in churches and other places because we all felt it. We all needed to seek out other humans so that we knew we were not alone.

Maggie Foster didn't gather. She simply drowned her two small children and ate a bullet.

Little Ricardo cried and screamed and fought with his parents through midnight mass before being locked into his room. His parents prayed at his door for hours before falling asleep. When they woke up they rushed into the room to find the window open and the family cat on the small bed in pieces.

Their very presence in our community was driving people insane.

Marcus Spencer killed himself after raping and strangling his daughter. His wife couldn't stop him because she had removed the racks from the oven and baked herself.

They knew what they were doing. They knew what affect this was having on us. It affected our minds, dampening our reason and moral senses. Those of us who are left support each other, we talk reason and common sense, keep those parts of the brain working.

Samuel Watkins decided that maybe the aliens did not mean to harm us. Maybe they just did not understand, that it was all a mistake. He went to talk to the aliens and never returned.

It was no mistake. Even without a direct physical assault on our town they had managed to reduce our numbers by more than half in a matter of weeks. They were attacking us, no doubt, without even so much as letting us see them doing it.

Mary Steuben, schoolteacher, broke next. “Humans are always the problem. We're the bad ones. We've destroyed the environment, enslaved people with capitalism. There is no way that these aliens can be as bad as we are.”

She didn't return either.

Then one day, the pastors and priest for our town had gathered and discussed the situation with what was left of the town council. It was decided that we would gather as many survivors as we could in the field near the forest on the south side of town. We would loudly make our defiance known, we would tell these things, whatever they were, that they were not welcome here.

That was my first day at my new job as the town police officer. I wondered if there would be a second day. I replaced Doug Maguire who had gutted himself with a chainsaw. Sort of like the ritual suicide of old Japan without the sword.

“Okay, no matter what happens, stay together!” I told the crowd. There were only hundreds of us left out of the five thousand there had been. “Nobody strays from the pack! You hear me?

The acting mayor gave a little speech before the First Baptist pastor led the group in the singing of a couple of hymns. Night was falling. I felt something dark and cold growing in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of being numbed to the senses came over me, again. I fought it. I took a step closer to the crowd because I felt invaded.

Suddenly there were blue and purple lights dancing among the trees. The crowd gasped and there was sobbing. Gray lights flashed here and then there, like truck headlights but veiled in deep fog.

There was no fog, of course.

“Stand firm!” The acting mayor ordered, “Show them our resolve!”

I looked to see the reaction of the townspeople, so I missed something. They all gave shouts and little screams. They started moving back away from the field, a few people in the back got trampled. I turned to see what had caused this and I see a small form exiting the woods.

The lights behind it kept its front in shadow. It was walking toward us. No, it was not walking, it was more like gliding. I pulled out my flashlight and shined it on the figure.

The crowd behind me gave shouts and screams.

It was a little boy. Suspended in the air with a long pole protruding from his back and into the forest. His dangling feet never touching the ground, simply skimming the tops of the grass. The child's eyes were open and he was looking at me as I moved forward a ways.

When I saw the child closer I had no doubt the boy was dead. The pallor of the skin, the darkness around the eyes were those of a cadaver. The aliens or whatever they were simply used the child as a puppet, an avatar.

“What do you want?” I asked.

Everything.” The boy said. “We feed.”

I cocked my head and thought for a moment.

You feed on our fear?” I asked.

Your souls.” Came the reply.

These were no aliens. They were demons, I no longer had any doubt of that.

We will continue to fight you!” I shouted.

You will continue to lose.” the voice from the dead boy told me. “But your numbers dwindle as ours expands. Soon we will seek larger sources of... energy.”

What larger sources?” I asked.

The world.”

We will resist!” I said. The body started moving backward toward the forest, it was drooping and partially being dragged now that there was no pretense of life there. “We won't surrender to you.”

The body stopped moving at the edge of the forest. “Yes, you will. Humans are weak like that.”

Then it was gone. The lights stopped. I fell to the ground, sobbing. I don't know why, I felt totally exhausted. I crawled back toward the crowd to find them all sitting in the grass, sobbing. We had come too close to pure evil and it had more affect than we knew. The acting mayor was shaking like a leaf and unable to say anything.

Pastor Myles, he collapsed and died.” Someone told me. “He said something before he died. He told us not to let the corruption have him.”

We all stayed like that until the sun came up. Somehow the veil had been lifted, we all felt our senses no longer dulled. For the first time in a month we all felt normal. The sounds of birds and crickets had returned, the siege of the town seemed to have been lifted. I knew, though, that the whole planet would be under siege.

Sure, it might be more subtle and less intense but it is there. The Corruption is only waiting for us to let down our guard as it feeds on all our souls.


Reward: Stolen Planet is free

New Arrivals is 99 cents (novel)
The Fourth is 99 cents (for now)(novel)
Oasis is 99 cents (novella)

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