Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

We don’t have the technology to make the instruments to understand what they do, let alone resist. Every eleven months or so, grey column descends from space and encloses a city. Twelve hours later it lifts. The population is dissolved and non-organic surfaces are covered in a toxic sludge. All devices are flatlined and erased.
It’s eleven months since the last raid. Cities used to attempt evacuation, but the next grey column would be wide enough to encompass the bulk of the evacuee zones. Thankfully, people are very good at ignoring risks: earthquake, tornado, alien attack, it makes no difference. Shrugs are the response to direct queries. Well, shrugs and the stockpiling of weapons, to be accurate.

Just after dawn, I awoke to a twilit reality rent by screams and sirens. So I looked out the window and started sketching with permanent marker on plastic sheets.
I’ll add an approximate 12-hour count to my notes. For reference, it’s 01:00 and the sketches are done. Time to run.

02:00 The skies are filled – and I mean filled. Like a roiling, three-dimensional traffic jam comprised of vessels like Viking longboats. They are crewed by bare-chested, baton waving proto-gorillas dressed in knee-length black leggings and shiny boots.

03:00 When these raiders grab people, either in passing or by landing and rounding them up, they slap them with a stick. If it flashes red, they kill the victim. Any other colour and the person is flung onto the longship. When a victim arrives over the ship, they float down like they’re unconscious. Even if they were struggling when thrown, and even if they arrived way above the deck. When the longboat is two-dozen deep, stacked like fish frozen in a block of ice, it ascends.

04:00 Staying free takes a lot more effort than I expected. These bastards are very good at this.

05:00 For all the barbarous appearance, this is a ruthlessly efficient operation. The baton wielders are backed by fire teams. There is no hesitation. Any resistance and the baton team are out of there: the fire team razes the site. For tougher targets, the co-ordination with something high above is instantaneous. The response is not visible to me, but it melts everything in the target area.

07:00 Lorraine – a history lecturer – spotted some parallels: these are slave raids; could be out of a medieval European playbook. Pregnant women, young children and elderly or sick people are killed. Only those capable of surviving a long journey in harsh conditions are taken.

10:00 They just pulled out. Every ship rising in a single, co-ordinated pattern. Amazing to behold, for all that I want them all dead.

10:10 The EMP that just hit the ground was massive. I felt sick from the accompanying ULF wave.

10:15 The golden-hued gas turns a vibrant yellow in areas where it is particularly dense. I hear agonised screams that don’t last long.

10:30 The gas is the source of the residue. It’s nasty stuff: I’ve seen people in NBC suits keeling over.

10:40 I’m Kev. Lorraine and I are in taped containment suits inside the flash-sealed chest freezer at the back of the garage. We have oxygen for twenty-eight hours from 11:00. It would be great if you found us before I have to use the grenade as an alternative to suffocation. Of course, if we’re already dead, that damn gas is really insidious.

I don’t think there is a ‘fight’ option. Retaliate: seed every potential target with nukes on a two-hour count from column descent, with no ‘off’ option.
Good luck.

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