Death Day by Keith Kitchen

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If anything happened to the computer or him, things would move faster than originally planned, but nothing ever went exactly as planned. Today, however, he hoped everything would go according to plan. Too much depended on what happened here today.

Walking through the cabin, he was assailed by memories he hadn't experienced in years. Spending the night with his first wife so many years ago. The times he spent here with his second and third wives. They knew he had spent time here with his previous wives but didn't let it bother them. The Pine Creek Valley was too beautiful and they knew being here relaxed their husband.

He looked into the bedrooms, three of them. His daughter from his second marriage and both his sons from his third has spent time here and had loved the place. He recalled fishing in the creek, something he had never done before Death Day and likely never would have done had things been different. His daughter had loved fishing with her father until the day she had died. His sons still loved fishing. He was glad they were as safe as possible.

That was the key phrase: As safe as possible. Anyone with a shred of honesty would admit that living was a risky business to begin with, but since Death Day it was so much more so. All because of the Zhwai. How many times had Hunter laid awake at night wishing that he had never heard that name? He didn't know and probably never would.

Before Death Day, no one had heard of the Zhwai. The majority of Earth had been blundering along, blissfully unaware that we were not alone in the universe. Oh, there had always been those who "knew" there were other civilizations "out there", but it wasn't until after Death Day that the United States government, as well as other governments around the world, like Russia, China and the European Union, admitted there was evidence that not only was there proof we weren't alone, but that they were already here for several years.

Why, then, hadn't these governments admitted that "First Contact" had already occurred? Because there had been no contact per se. The old United States government had discovered the remains of three vehicles, although there was no life as we knew it in any of them. They were vehicles more than ships, yet they were more than probes. The military and other government agencies spent a great deal of time and money to no avail, trying to discover the vehicles power sources and drives.

Reports began to trickle in that other vehicles had landed on every major continent on the Earth, including Antarctica. Hunter snorted. That was the only mistake that the Zhwai made: Antarctica. Again, that didn't become obvious until after Death Day.

Hunter glanced at his watch. It was 15:45 EDT. The Zhwai representative wouldn't be there for another seventy-five minutes. They were nothing if not punctual. When they said they would be somewhere at a specific time, there was no room for error, no variation, no mistakes on their part. The human race had discovered this fact the hard way.

The cabin didn't need cleaning: the crew that installed the computer and the cabin's other new additions had taken care of that.

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