Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

They came from heaven, or hell, or outer space, or under the sea. Earth has been invaded in every way imaginable, thanks to the imaginations of authors over the last three centuries. You would have thought, with such a rich base from which to draw inspirational tactics, that mankind would have done better when it finally happened.

“Commander! They’re reinforcing on the left flank!”

“Captain Yaeger, abandon the dugouts and trenches. Return to the bastion with everyone you have, bringing everything you can.”

They came from a long way away, arriving without warning. It was midday on a beautiful summer day. By three minutes past, most of our continents were in the shadow of spaceships of every imaginable shape and size. Their bombardment was swift, devastating and surprisingly inaccurate. They missed military bases and levelled universities. Warships were ignored while schools and libraries vanished in waves of searing energy. Hospitals were reduced to craters while missile silos stood untouched.

“Commander! They’ve brought up snipers! We’re getting murdered here!”

“Captain Durov, abandon your positions. Withdraw to the bastion with as much gear as your people can carry.”

It took us a few days to realise that they had obliterated ninety percent of humanity between the ages of four and seventeen. They had removed generations of prospective resistance fighters along with our advanced medical capabilities. The strategic analyses turned from bleak to grim.

The raids to take infants and babies were something the analysts didn’t predict. Caught by surprise, our hopes for the future were whisked away. It was a devastating blow. Suicides peaked during the subsequent week.

“Commander! Looks like they’re massing for something!”

“Captain Sung, abandon your positions. Retire to the bastion with your troops and as much gear as they can manage.”

Then the invasion started. They used no area-effect weapons. They came without mercy, solely for the surviving humans. Professor Grey of Roehampton produced and circulated a document after the first week that may as well have been humanity’s epitaph. I remember the final paragraph so well:

‘Our stolen children will be vassals, without history

or knowledge. Our civilisation may form part of the

mythology that they tell each other around the cooking

fires of their simple culture. Apart from that, the

works of man will be forgotten.’

They stalk through this world, killing everyone who remains. You can see how careful they are with the environment, and how uncaring they are of anything created by us.

“Commander. Everyone is here.”

I turn from the bar and drop my cigarette end into the empty shot glass. The last of the Lagavulin is inside me. The Captains of every group are here: the finest, and the last, soldiers in the world.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Eight months ago they came to take our planet. It swiftly became inevitable. We have been fighting desperate battles and saving nothing. So, I propose an all-out attack. Simply because my dear, departed grandfather would be gutted if his bonny lad didn’t go out moving forward with a whiskey inside him, a smoke between his lips and a blazing automatic in his hand. Who’s with me?”

They looked at each other.

Captain Brewster stepped forward: “My dad always said that when it all goes to Hell, you want a Tommy at your side. While everyone else is getting weepy, he’ll be the one having a brew, checking his weapon and lighting a smoke, before asking when we’re going to stop pussyfooting about and get stuck in.”

There were nods and grins. Hands started to rise.

Pour me a shot, grandpa. I’ll be there soon.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows