THE HARVEST by Marshall Neal

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The fear we had was that we were going to be eaten. At least that's the fear everyone shared when the pandemonium started. I had nightmares of humanoid creatures in white lab coats, with black beady eyes and long fingers, stabbing me with a huge needle and stopping my heart, whereupon they would butcher me and feast on strips of my flesh. But I always awoke before they ate me, and I knew these were just my worst fears manifesting themselves as bad dreams. I tried not to think about it. Instead, I thought about immediate survival. I knew my food and water would run out eventually. In fact, water was the first commodity to go. When the taking started, I had filled every container I could with water. The rest of the city probably had the same idea--the water pressure was very low. But eventually, I was reduced to drinking what was in the reservoir of my toilet, and lastly, the bowl itself. I was formulating plans to find more water outside, but those plans were cancelled during the night by a Taker-Sphere. Asleep, in my bed, and probably having a nightmare, I heard the crash. Broken glass and the sounds of crackling plaster, the frame creaking and snapping--all the expected sounds of something forcing its way through. I shot up in the darkness and tried to make for my closet, when it burst through my bedroom wall. I had successfully closed myself inside, and was pressed up against my working suits, when I felt a solid punch to my back. I was hit, right between the shoulder blades; it got me through the door. I went down, paralyzed, resting on a collection of boxes and old shoes. I could feel, but I couldn't move. I waited only a short time, I'm sure, when I felt tentacles snake around my body and constrict. In their grasp, I couldn't breathe nor could I struggle. I passed through the walls of my own house into the still-warm nighttime air. I was pulled into a Taker-Ship and laid in complete darkness on something rubbery and soft, not unlike a waterbed. I still could not move, but even if I could have, it might have been to no avail. I was more or less sandwiched between two layers of something; I could sense the other layer was very close to my face. Next, I felt a large wave pass beneath me, and my face pressed against the top layer of whatever I was in. I felt another body shoved against mine. The closeness was so great that I labored to breathe. I had no more concept of time; I saw nothing. I finally understood what it must have felt like to be buried alive.

To say that I was terrified would have been an understatement. I was vaguely aware of the fact that I had lost control of my bodily functions, and I could no longer tell if it was fear or some drug that paralyzed me. I could sense the body lying next to mine was alive too; each time it touched me, my skin crawled.

After waiting in this condition, I felt a series of waves, as if I were in a stomach about to vomit, which might have been a very accurate perception. I was next squeezed out of some opening into a room so brilliantly white, that I was blinded.

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