Author : Gray Blix, Featured Writer [ bio ]
“I remember when there were forests and farms right up to the border. I’d shout hello from my dad’s tractor and Americans would shout back. We crossed the border to shop. Before the DPA.”
“There you go again, old man. You could have retired years ago,” meaning he should have. “Why keep working?”
“Who can live on a pension nowadays?”
“Hey, pay attention, look at your display.” Pointing, “Right there.”
Only an expert controller could glance at another’s screen and make out two indistinct thermal signatures against rocks still warm from the Sun. The kid was good.
Below, having rested as long as they dared, two intruders put on hoods and walked by starlight on the dry bed of Belly River, now a trail, an escape route for desperate refugees from a parched, hungry, violent homeland. Even if they had heard the quadcopter buzzing above, these two wouldn’t be worried, having paid thousands to make themselves undetectable.
The older pilot activated his mike, “Four-zed, crank up your sensitivity and look for two partially cloaked illegals to come around the bend in few minutes.”
From a truck on the bank, looking upriver through his thermal scope, “Will do.”
Mutual Assured Destruction kept the US from invading. As the situation in the states had deteriorated, the Canadians had secretly positioned nuclear tipped missiles. When they had enough to obliterate their neighbor to the south, Parliament simultaneously passed the Dominion Preservation Act, sealed the border, and offered a non-aggression treaty.
“That’s it,” she said, pointing to a stack of rocks. The two figures, their cloaking gear looking like bulky hazmat outfits, headed up the creek.
“Four-zed, do you see them yet?”
“Nope. Are you sure of what you think you saw, old man?” He laughed and nudged the other officer. “Better crank up the sensitivity on your bifocals.”
“They must have deked up a creek, four-zed, heading for the campground or Highway 6. Check it out.”
Neither officer moved. They had hoped to sit in the dark until sunup, when they would be safe from the triangles. Drawn to lights like huge moths, the craft had been seen sucking out the contents of homes and swallowing up vehicles whole.
Finally, a reluctant, “OK.”
The heat and moisture inside the cloaking gear was becoming unbearable.
Checking his watch, “They’re supposed to pick us up in about 15 minutes.”
They removed headgear and sat on a picnic table. Hearing what sounded like the buzz of an insect, she swatted the air, nearly slapping him. He laughed and playfully swatted back.
Zooming the drone’s camera, “Four-zed, they’re in the campground, end of the road.”
The driver flicked headlights on, and the Americans froze.
Watching his display, “We’ve got ’em,” said the old man. But he cringed, knowing the two intruders faced death sentences.
A shaft of light fell towards the truck, engulfing it. The old man later described it as “a bright waterfall.” He pushed the video record button.
All four at the scene fought to make sense of what was happening, but their mental processes were labored, as if they had been drugged.
Suddenly, the man behind the wheel slammed the shift into reverse. The truck spun its rear wheels but didn’t move an inch before the light fell upward, taking the vehicle and occupants with it. A dark triangle silently floated away.
The video’s sale funded retirement on a New Zealand hobby farm, where the old man spent endless hours driving his tractor and chatting up neighbors. His new island home was like a lifeboat in a worldwide sea of misery. Until the triangles arrived.