Author : Art Klein

I know there are more of them than before. Why have they stayed so long and why have even more of them arrived?

“What’s going through your head now, Jack?”

I looked at Tom across the table in a bar we frequent, and realized that I had once again fallen into that mood I had been trying to shake for…I don’t remember how long.

“Just thinking, Tom.”

“Those same thoughts about ‘Them,’ Jack?”

“’fraid so. I can’t seem to get them out of my head. And I do mean ‘Them’.”

“How much do you remember? Do you still have those vague spots you’ve told me about?”

“Yeah. They’re still there. And I don’t know how to fill them in,” I replied. “Maybe I’m getting worse. There are more signs in their language than in ours. Or am I just imagining that, too?”

“No, Tom. What you’re seeing is there: ‘Them’ and lots of signs in their language. How far back can you remember?”

“I remember the war. Not all of it, but more than enough of it to make my skin crawl. The radioactive, chemical, and biological sprays in building heating and air conditioning ducts, subways, sports arenas; any enclosed place where there were lots of people. Later on, crops shriveling and dying as they started attacking outdoor targets. The water turning that foul-smelling milky white.”

“Can you remember where you were when the war ended?”

I tried to answer Tom’s question, but the only thing I could come up with was one of those vague spots he had asked me about.

“Sorry, Tom. But I’m drawing another blank.”

Tom considered what I had recalled, and said, “That’s pretty much what happened. Do you remember when the UnifiedTerror teams broke into the big stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons here and in Russia and China?”

I had to dig for that one. “I think I remember some of it,” I replied.

“Do you remember when we received the first message about help being on the way?”

“Yes. That transmission was said to come from some planet located above the plane of our solar system. If I remember correctly, they, whoever ‘they’ are, said they were on the way to help us. Are ‘they’ my ‘Them’?”

Tom nodded his head slowly and said, “Not any more, Jack. They did help us. It didn’t take them long to finish off the UnifiedTerror movement. But even as quickly as that was accomplished, too much damage had been done for us to survive there. You were still unconscious when the wars ended. They took our side’s survivors home with them.

“Jack, here on their planet, we’re ‘Them.’ ”


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