Tuesday, March 20, 2012

332/365 --Playlist Story-- inspired by "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" by Andrew Bird

This is a history of the invasion and of those of us who survived. The ships came from the sky and no one knew much more detail about their origins than that. Movies and TV and science fiction writers and Carl Sagan had all informed us that aliens were out there, somewhere among the stars, with either indifference to us, or malice or keen interest in our development as a fledgling civilization. It's hard to determine which of these intents the ships came to us with, out of the sky, but they appeared, with little fanfare, and began spraying the entire surface of the planet with a fine mist. Everything that happened after--

"You have to say more about the mist. That's too vague."

"I will."

"Well, you just introduced it. You should describe it."

"I'm getting to it. Leave me alone, will you?"

"You have to get this right. No one will want read it--"

"Of course they will want to read it. We're the witnesses to the single most important event in--"

"Oh come on. You always, you know, trump stuff up. Just describe the mist. The mist is important."


The mist coated everything and had a gluey consistency when it had a chance to dry a bit. It got in people's lungs and they started coughing like they had the flu--

"But they didn't have the flu--"

It got in people's lungs and they started coughing violently.


"Go on. Keep going."

The mist floated on water and tainted the water supply. Everyone had to boil water before drinking it.

"Even then it smelled really bad."

"I'm not putting that in."

"Well it's true."

"I'm not putting it in. Give me some room okay? You're making my hand cramp. You can't even read so I don't know why you have to watch."

"I'm trying to learn."

"Learn some other time."

"You're mean."

"You're annoying."

"I'm getting food."


Lots of people died from the mist in their lungs. More people decided they'd eat it and called it manna, but they died too. The TV stations had to warn people not to eat it because people are stupid. The ships took ten days to completely spray the entire planet and then they left and none of the scientists could determine where they left too. They said that they just disappeared.

"How come you write so slowly?"

"Go away. Because I'm writing with an old pen and it makes my hand hurt."

"Would a new pen help?"

"It's not the age of the pen, it's the fact that it is a pen and I'm not used to writing that way. Besides, there aren't any new pens."

"They can't be that hard to make, can they?"

"I guess not. Look weren't you getting food?"

"I had three cookies while you were writing."

"Go have three more."

"That was all the cookies there were."

"Make more."

"No. I want to watch you write."

"Fine. Sit over there."

"Come on, I can't see--"

"Sit over there!"

It took a couple of weeks before the mist 'seeped into the ecosystem'. That was the phrase the scientists on TV kept using.

"They kept saying that until I didn't understand what they were saying."

"It means that it affected the whole food chain."

"You should write that to explain it to people."

"Most people understand what that means."

"Well I didn't. There's probably a lot of people like me."

"I don't think there are a lot of people like you."

The seeped-in mist made certain things grow out of control. First it was mold. There were black splotches on everything, and you couldn't scrub or wash it away. That got into people's lungs too and made them die. Then there were insects like cockroaches, moths, mosquitos, and grasshoppers. They were everywhere, swarming in the air, dying on the ground, and you couldn't keep them out of the house. Next were the frogs and mice. They ate a lot of the insects, but then they too grew out of control. You couldn't walk across the lawn without squishing some little animal. They got into machines and cars and you had to walk everywhere.

"And the supermarket ran out of food! Put that in there too."

The supermarkets ran out of food. The farms were still making food but there was no way to get it to the factory or the supermarket. Lots of people lost a lot of weight and some started starving, and that's when we lost contact with most of the rest of the world too.

"That's when mom and dad left us."

"I'm not putting that in. This is supposed to be a history for everybody."

"I didn't say to. I just made a note of it, you know? I always wonder why they left when they did."

"They saw us starving I guess."

"Yeah, but, then we decided to eat mice and frogs because there was nothing else to eat. They could have stayed and eaten mice and frogs with us."

"Maybe they ate mice and frogs somewhere else."

"Do you think they are still alive? You know, somewhere else?"

"I dunno. Maybe. They left us. I don't care about them anymore."

"How can you say that?"

"How can they love us if they left us like that?"

"Maybe they loved us so much they didn't want to see us die."

"That's stupid. I'm getting back to writing."

The TV went out and there were brownouts. The rumor was that there wasn't enough people left to run the electrical stations.

"I don't think that's what they're called."

"Close enough."

Everything got quiet, except for the night which was loud because of the frogs. The trees started dying because they were covered in mushrooms and fungus. The weather changed and it got hot. It was summer even in winter. More people died because of the heat and a lack of water.

"That's when we hid in the basement because of the neighbors."

"They weren't nice people. But I don't want to put that in either. People in the future shouldn't think that people can be that bad."

"I think they'll figure it out on their own anyway."

"Exactly. They don't need us to tell them that. Besides. It's depressing."

Those who survived had to work together to get water and food, so people kind of became friendlier than normal.

"That's not really true. They weren't friends necessarily. There was a lot of fighting."

"All the really violent people got executed by the military and then we had to work together."

"But it was forced."

"We still worked together. It's a sort of friendship."

"Anyway, that's not an important bit."

The ships came back a year later and everyone watched them above in terror. But they came down and landed and did nothing for a few days. Some people went nearer and the ships at the time looked completely dormant.

"They took pictures of themselves in front of the ships."

"Yeah, and then those idiots died of radiation exposure. I'm not putting that in."

After those few days the bottom of the ships opened and inserted drills into the ground. They made big holes, then lifted up and set themselves down again and again, making holes everywhere. The dirt and rocks and stuff they dug up were fused together and made into columns that they placed between the holes. After a few weeks there was no place left for humans to go because all the land was covered in holes and columns. People had to go live in the holes for awhile, and there was even less food.

"I got a sunburn."

"Shut up."

Then the ships scooped up seawater and mixed it with the dirt and somehow made a clear plasticky material that they stretched over the columns in layers like tape. The material dried and then we had some shelter again. Then the aliens came out of their ships.

"They were surprisingly short."

The aliens were surprisingly short.

"You added that?"

"I thought it was good to note."

The aliens nestled in the holes that weren't occupied by humans and then they began to burrow into the ground.

"They laid a lot of eggs. You should write about the eggs."

"I'm getting to it."

The aliens ignored us. People poked them with sticks and other debris and stuff, and some tried to kill them, but they had tough hides and basically ignored us even though we tried to do them harm. We started gardening again. The aliens left a really rich fertilizer--

"That did not smell good either. Why didn't you just call it 'shit'?"

"Because when it's used in farming, you call it fertilizer, not 'shit', that's why."

The aliens left a really rich fertilizer which made stuff grow really well. This was good because it stopped us from starving and people got fat again.

"That's boring. Get to the part with the eggs."

The aliens in their burrows began to go dormant. People went to their abandoned ships and started to dismantle them because there was no more electricity left inside them and we couldn't use them. People turned the ship parts into machines we could use, like refrigerators and motocycles. We outfitted our holes into reasonably nice homes again.

"Ugh. So not the same as our old house."

"Of course not, but future generations shouldn't feel like they are missing out on anything."

"They are. Get to the eggs."

When the aliens went dormant, they started to automatically lay eggs and then when they were done they died. They must not have understood humans very well, or they would have totally exterminated us.

"I don't think they knew what they were dealing with."

"Clearly. They probably thought they were changing the whole ecosystem. They didn't see the important parts of it."

People started harvesting the eggs. The eggs were black and dull looking, soft, and about three feet long and a foot wide and sort of flat.

"You could open them easily if you gave them a good punch in the middle."

The eggs were easy to open and people found that we could cook and eat them, or use them for fertilizer. Within a few weeks all the eggs were harvested and destroyed, except for a few that were studied by some remaining scientists.

"That's just a rumor."

"I think it has to be true. Who doesn't want to see how they develop?"

"I don't care how they develop."

"I do."

So that's how people survived, and now people are working to rebuild civilization.

"You have to write 'The End'."

"You don't write that in a history."

"Why not?"

"Because it doesn't end. It keeps going."

"So will we."

"Yeah. So will we."

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