by Marshall Neal
They came while I was asleep. I turned on my computer to check the morning news, and it was the only thing on the page. "UFO'S IN SKIES, Every Major City Visited." "EARTH INVADED," and so on. Pic after pic of these black oblong-shaped monoliths, hovering silently above every great skyline. No contact made yet, cities shut down in panic. . . The president to address the nation and appealing for calm. . . There were riots in a few places, and so on; the usual pandemonium and fear that all the sci-fi novels predicted. Very cliché. You could tell the newsfolk were excited, for the headlines on the printed papers were larger than the ones I saw as a kid after 9-11.
For two days, the entire world held its breath. Attempts at contact did nothing, and nobody wanted to antagonize our new "friends." Experts guessed at what they looked like and what they were doing here. Nobody worked, so cities and services began to shut down. The president was about to order people back to work, but nobody felt comfortable working in the shadow of those ships.
Then it happened. The news showed it time and again, from the belly of each ship, a cloud of machines spewed forth. A veritable rain of glassy black spheres, each one about seven feet in diameter. They glided down and descended on the crowds, and as people ran the spheres came along behind them. Rapidly, they fell over, one after another, apparently paralyzed. You could never see what hit them; they just fell and lay there. After the spheres came the Takers; little oblong ships--miniature copies of the monoliths, if you could call a sixty-yard ship miniature, scooping people inside with tentacles from their bellies.
At this, the entire world retreated indoors. From every window and doorway, gunfire and sometimes high explosives were fired and hurled at the spheres, but nothing ever worked. By the second day someone had devised giant nets, but the spheres sliced through them. We never saw how, it was always something very quick or probably invisible. One ship got nuked, over Israel. It did nothing to the ship and instead fallout rained on the streets of Tel Aviv. By the third day, they were coming into houses. Always right through the walls. Many houses collapsed and people were sure to have died within or got buried alive, but still the harvest was rich for the Takers.
Tearing people out of their homes took a very long time. Sometimes people foolishly gathered in churches, which attracted them, or they tried driving or walking out of the cities and were scooped up in turn. At least the thugs were too scared to make it worse by coming out to rape and riot anymore. No matter who they were, or how fast they drove or ran, they were always taken. Finally, the news stopped, electricity and water went off, and humanity was headed back to the Stone Age, but those were the least of our anxieties.
As for myself, I simply waited at home. Going outside would get me captured sooner, and I hoped instead they would get their fill and go home before they got to me.