Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Anyone or anything that enters the blue beams are sucked up into the ships and never seen or heard from again.
The ships populated the sky in one rush of deceleration all around the world. The night side of the planet suddenly gained more stars and the day side of the planet a bunch of tiny suns. Nine hundred and thirty-six of them, visible to the naked eye even after their engines had stopped firing. Dots in the sky in a geometric formation hanging a measured distance apart from each other.
The ships did nothing for weeks. The tension drove people mad. The military went to a state of readiness, sweating fingertips hovering over red buttons in sub-basements. Religious zealots called it the Rapture, spiritualists called it the Age of Aquarius, and others just kept an eye to the sky in fear.
The economy took a major hit as most people cashed in their RRSPs and withdrew their savings. Shy people finally asked that person they’d been crushing on for years out for dinner. Employees who’d been silently disgruntled for years quit their jobs. The end of days felt like it was right around the corner.
Just when the Earth had settled into a hesitant acceptance of the dots in the sky, blue beams of light from each ship stabbed down to earth.
The result was instantaneous. Nuclear missiles fired up at the alien ships from the expected countries. The missiles didn’t even explode. They were quietly stopped, disarmed, turned inert, and left to fall back to Earth. That didn’t stop us from firing every single missile we had at them. It was like some sort of death orgasm and we didn’t stop until we were spent.
We would have done ourselves more damage than them if they’d actually exploded.
The blue beams stayed on. Some of them are pointed at the ocean. Some are in remote areas of the planet where hardly anyone lives. Some of them are in metropolitan cities. They are all exactly 204.8 kilometers from each other.
It’s popular to go into the beams and ascend. Some believe it’s a portal to heaven. Some believe that it leads to a gateway to the rest of the universe. Some believe it’s death.
People have tried going up with video cameras and audio equipment but it all stops working the minute they leave the ground. Scientists are still trying to figure out how the beams work.
There are guards and fences around the perimeters of the beams in the major cities but out in the countryside they are left alone, silent blue ladders to alien mysteries. Pillars that glimmer in the daytime and seem to stab up from the earth like a searchlight during the night.
Some lovers have gone in hand in hand. Some notable celebrities have even made the trip. It’s become a tradition in some countries to throw letters to dead ancestors into the streams. Some countries have decided to start using the beams to help with their garbage problem.
They never shut off and the ships remain mute. It’s been seventeen years now. There are teenagers alive now who have never known a world without the beams.
Myself, I come down here to the park and stare at my city’s beam on the weekend. I feed the pigeons and stare at the column of light.
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