Author: Joshua Daniels
Was how many years Jim and Sally were together before the Global Aeronautical Service called ‘all intrepid adventurers willing to travel to the great unknown!’
Was how many astronauts were finally whittled down for the ‘Voyage of a Lifetime!’ as the papers were calling it.
Jim, the only one from England, was asked how he was feeling by the papers, ‘I’m over the moon!’ he said.
Sally rolled her eyes.
Was how many months it took travelling at light speed to reach the strange nebulous lightning cloud that had first appeared on the G.A.S. radar over a year ago. The last video message Jim had from the fam was of Sally saying how much she missed him, the big doofus, and of little Elena doing her alien babble as they called it. They lost contact after that.
Was how many alien aircraft entered Earth’s atmosphere. Large, sprawling, tentacled ships – partially built of some unknown space rock and partially of viscous spongy membrane.
Was the number of strange alien noises sounded by the invaders. Expert code analysts feverishly worked to understand the message as Earth was being reduced to dust.
Was how many sleeping pills Sally gave Flora as she sang her nursery rhymes. They could barely be heard over all the screaming outside.
Was how many years had passed before The Odyssey finally returned to Earth. They were greeted by a welcome party of debris and human bones.
Was how many years it took Jim to get back home. He walked pretty much the whole way, foraged on whatever vegetation hadn’t been obliterated by cosmic laser rays.
Was how many human skeletons were lying huddled together on Elena’s bed. Jim fell to his knees and felt himself shatter to a million pieces.
Was how many notes Sally had left him just on the off chance he was still alive, and the even unlikelier chance he made it back home.
She told him how she loved him and missed him and how even a whole universe could never keep them apart. Elena had smeared pen ink at the bottom. How much she had grown since he left. From her alien babble to her alien scribble.
Strange symbols that Sally had probably thought nothing of. But Jim knew. He who had travelled through unfathomable dimensions and learnt the tongue of superior beings.
He read the symbols out loud producing the same sounds that had so terrified humankind on their day of reckoning.
A message sent through time and space to the lips of a child.
A warning she had tried to tell him all those years ago, and one he had failed to heed:
Those who shall invade, shall be invaded yet.