Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

I woke up with pain in my head and a shrieking in my ears. All I could hear was this horrible sound ringing around in my head. It was like car tires and screeching baboons and fire alarms all mixed together. A migraine pounded through my skull.

I stood up and I nearly passed out. The pain eased when I took a step south. I kept walking in that direction. When I got to the wall of my apartment, I screamed because I knew that meant I had to double back to go to the front door and make it outside. With a deep breath, I cried and walked backwards, grasping behind me for the doorknob while I sobbed and whimpered.

I found the doorknob. I yanked it open and dove outside. I ran in the direction that eased the pain, my pajamas flapping in the early-morning August. The direction took me away from the city. Luckily I lived on the outskirts of town and there weren’t many cars on the roads at this time of day. The pain was too great to have me worry about traffic lights or looking both ways. There was no way I could have driven a car. It was all I do to put one foot in front of the other.

All that mattered was stopping the sound and the pain.

I walked and ran for eight days. I didn’t stop to go to the bathroom. I didn’t stop to eat. I tipped my head back when it rained to drink.

Luckily, I haven’t been arrested. Luckily, I haven’t been beaten up. Luckily, I haven’t been hit by a car or bitten by a snake.

I have been walking a straight line.

I first saw the first person like me two days ago. Just a dot on the horizon of the desert I was walking through when I crossed into Arizona. I have seen twenty-seven others since. I can see them off to my right and left, getting slowly larger, one step at a time. We are all converging on the same point.

This is good news. I can feel the pain in my head being slowly replaced with pleasure.

We are being called. I don’t know how many of us have been killed or hurt during our blind migration towards the end of the pain. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for someone who got the call in a prison or a hospital. The pain would have driven me insane if I’d been constrained.

I can see the other walkers more clearly now. They are all stained, stinking, shambling messes with smiles on their faces, smiling wider as they get closer to the place of no pain and no shrieking sound in their ears.

There are helicopters over the horizon, over the patch of earth where all of the walkers’ paths meet.

There is something underneath the helicopters. A bright blue flying saucer. A floating, glowing alien ship that has no place in the middle of the desert. It’s hard to see details because the sun is setting near it. There is a hole in the clouds above it.

We walkers are all stumbling towards it, powerless to stop ourselves and not knowing what we’re walking towards or why we’ve been chosen.

I’m scared of the helicopters. I don’t know if they are there to monitor us or kill us. They look out of place.

I keep walking towards the blue ship with the other walkers into the dying sunset with a smile on my face.

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