Jonathan sat perfectly still in his cubicle, staring at the computer screen but not seeing the numbers as they scrolled by. He was trying to maintain a façade of normality in the face of an enormity. His reputation for being a little odd generally kept his co-workers from stopping in to chat, and he was glad of it now.
Jonathan knew – firsthand – that extraterrestrials were making plans to conquer the Earth.
His late Uncle Fred had always told him that those strange lights in the sky were alien spacecraft. He had even seen one land once, and the hatch had opened. But Fred’s coon dog barked more than ever it had in its life, and the ship left again soon. Fred had had a terrible headache the next day; Aunt Mazie said it was a hangover, but Fred said it was due to radiation from the spaceship.
Jonathan believed his uncle more than ever. Twice, he had been taken from the bedroom in his apartment as he slept. He had been awakened in a laboratory on a spaceship. His captors opened Jonathan’s skin to observe the workings of his body. Even now, he broke into a sweat and nearly screamed as he remembered the excruciating pain. He had not been allowed to pass out, nor had he been allowed to die. He was held in place while hideous creatures prodded his internal organs and took samples and placed small devices inside him.
Finally – finally – they closed him up again, and they did such a neat job no doctor on Earth would be able to tell he had ever been cut open. No x-ray or MRI would be able to detect the alien implants. He had been made to understand that if they were tampered with or jostled too much they would explode, destroying everything and everyone for nearly a mile around.
He was also made to understand – it must have been telepathy, as he couldn’t make sense of their spoken words – that humans were to become both slaves and food for their new masters. Grandma Maude had told Jonathan as a boy that if he died and went to hell, the devil would make him toil pitilessly and would eat him alive time and again. Now there were alien devils come to Earth to make a prophet of her.
Jonathan knew all these things, but he sat in his cubicle and pretended as best he could that nothing was wrong. He had no proof to offer, even if he told someone. At best, he could start a panic. At worst, the aliens might detonate the implants and begin the slaughter. He tried as hard as he could to appear unconcerned about the fate of the world, but a slight tremor had taken up in his left hand, and he fought to keep it from becoming a general seizure as his mind tightened down on itself.
In the next cubicle to the left, Maria sighed and stood up.
“Gotta go again, Jonathan,” she said. “Back in a minute.”
She heard a small sound that might have been an acknowledgment. Jonathan had been acting so strangely of late – even for him – that it was hard to tell, but she didn’t have time to worry about him as she headed to the restroom for the fourth time that morning. She needed diapers almost as much as the baby pressing on her bladder would when he was finally born. “Three more weeks,” Maria repeated quietly to herself.
As soon as she entered the restroom, she vanished.
Several minutes later, the building exploded; everything and everyone for nearly a mile around was destroyed.
Maria would live to regret not having been there.