Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

It sat there, yellow feline eyes glowing gently in a face that reminded me of the top of a burned rice pudding. Short, bald, muscular – if what moved under the garment was muscle – and completely at ease.

“Can you understand me, Evan?”

The voice was husky, comforting: grandfather telling a funny tale on an autumn eve comforting.

I nodded.

“Good. Now, are you ready to depart?”

I looked beyond it to where Alicia, the kids and the cat hung in the lounge air without visible reason. They seemed to be sleeping peacefully.

Licking my lips, I coughed to bring up a voice: “But what about our folks? The police? Government?”

The cat-gremlin-pudding shook its head: “This invitation is for you, and it has been extended to your immediate domestic unit as a courtesy. There is no time for you to include anyone or anything else, and your time is swiftly running out.”

“No. I mean warning the people. So they can prepare.”

The spines that lined his paw/claw nipped my chin: “One more time for the hard of believing: your planet has contained a dormant entity that was trapped during the creation of this solar system. That entity has now healed to a point where it is able to continue journeying. Which requires it to climb out of confinement, an act that will sunder this planet into at least two pieces. The resulting devastation will be inimical to every order of life above single-cell organisms. For most of them, it will be a quick end. For the unlucky ones, it will be a lingering death. Your species is predicted to be the seventy-fourth to expire. I am part of an evacuation initiative. We cannot rescue everything, so we have selected at random. You are now one of the few with the option to flee.”

I shook my head. Something was wrong. Something beyond the alien in my dining room…

“But –”

The paw/claw squeezed and tears ran down my cheeks.

“No ‘but’. You may accept this offer or face the end of your world, race and life.”

“We must be able to do –”

It dropped me. I wasn’t even aware it had lifted me. I heard my family hit the carpet.

Yellow eyes blinked and faded. The wide maw remained: “A brave decision. I do not understand it, but it was yours to make. Die gently.” The teeth faded out and Alicia screamed.

We were huddled on the lounge floor sobbing and shaking when events on the television caught our attention.

“We interrupt this program to go live to Yellowstone National Park.”

“This is Anton Fielder. I am coming to you live from the K-News 24 chopper, high above Yellowstone. As you can see, a massive disturbance is occurring. We are not sure what that object is, possibly some kind of superdense tornado effect, but it extends from the heart of the Yellowstone caldera up into the storm clouds. To give you an idea of its size, the peak between us and the phenomenon is Mount Washburn!”

I looked at the picture and saw the gargantuan tentacle that had erupted into the skies. As I watched, Mount Washburn seemed to leap toward the camera. The screen went black.

We hugged and cried as the room started to shake. I sobbed apologies and Alicia told me I had nothing to apologise for. I couldn’t articulate why.

That wrong feeling had not been the alien. It was like when birds sensed they needed to flee a cataclysm.

I had been too civilised to recognise my survival instinct.

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