Another short story from our collection. Again, not zombie related but I think you’ll enjoy it.
August 24th, 10:00 p.m.
Somewhere in Washington State
“Come on, it’ll be fun,” Gwen begged her boyfriend, Scott, who scrolled though the TV menu.
“Let’s go get abducted!”
Scott settled on a Simpsons rerun, propped his smelly feet on the coffee table, and laughed at Homer’s gargle of pleasure while the rotund cartoon character downed a chocolate donut and milk.
Gwen ripped the remote from his hand and pushed the power button.
“Hey, I was watching that!”
“That’s all we ever do—watch TV and eat! I want to go do this abduction thing tonight!”
He rolled his eyes and rubbed his face. “Okay, okay, so what is it again?”
She huffed. “Geez, we had a conversation about this yesterday. You never listen. Sometimes I’d swear you’ve already been abducted.”
“Ha, ha, very funny. I’m listening now. Refresh my memory.”
“I bought this smart phone application called “Abduct Me” and I want to try it out.” Gwen tapped the screen on her cell phone. “See, it has a data compilation of all the places and times people claim to have been abducted by aliens all over the world. It tells you the most likely places you can go to get abducted. There’s one site just 45 minutes from here.”
“That’s a bunch of crap in so many ways! I mean, the idea of alien abductions is absurd enough. Now you can use your cell phone to help you get taken?” Scott chuckled. “Whoever wrote that program probably laughed their asses off thinking about the suckers who’d buy it!”
Gwen laughed too, planting a lighthearted slap on Scott’s arm. “Look, it’s a short drive into the mountains and it’s a beautiful night anyway. It’ll be something different to do. But we need to get a move on since the best abduction time is around 11:00.”
“Oh, yes, we must!”
Scott forced himself off the cozy couch and reached for his polar fleece jacket. “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
August 24th, 9:30 p.m.
Somewhere Else in Washington State
“I don’t know. My ass is so grounded already,” said Anna to her boyfriend, Trevor, on the phone. “If I don’t make it back before my mom gets off work, I’m toast.”
She paced her bedroom, kicking at the clothes that blanketed the floor.
“Well, her shift is supposed to get over at 2:00, but she usually ends up picking up an extra hour if the ER is busy. Either way, it’s cutting it close.”
Trevor’s voice grew more animated.
“I am not lame,” Anna protested. “I just don’t want to get grounded for another month for some stupid alien abduction thing you got off your phone. I mean, if I’m gonna get busted again, I’d at least like to do something worth taking the risk for!”
Anna rolled her eyes while listening to his argument.
“Okay, okay,” Anna finally agreed. “Just you, me, Mabel, and Dawn, right?”
She slipped on a red Converse shoe and laced it.
“Yeah, alright, I’ll be ready in ten. Come pick me up.”
August 24th, 10:45 p.m.
Somewhere in the Eastern Washington Desert
“This is the place,” said A.J., slowing his Honda Element to a full stop. “Dang, made it in two hours thirty-three minutes flat. Exactly what Google Maps said.”
“Who the hell cares?” Phillip said, pushing his way from the backseat. “Just let me out of this car before I puke. You drive like a flippin’ maniac!”
Kevin and Greg laughed, opening doors for Phillip’s quick exodus. “Whatever,” said A.J. “I’ve been driving for ten years and have never even gotten a ticket. “That’s more than I can say for you.”
Phillip paced outside the car. He took in deep breaths through his nose and blew them out slowly through his mouth.
Kevin and Greg gathered items from the car and shoved them in backpacks. “Damn, it’s pitch black out here without any city lights,” said Kevin. “I can’t see anything.”
“Here,” said Greg, offering up his iPod as a make-shift flashlight.
Kevin grabbed the device. “Nice, buddy!”
A.J. popped open the trunk and riffled through a box in the back. “Hey, what does everyone want?”
“Starbucks Frappacino, vanilla, if you have it.”
A.J. tossed the beverages.
“You got any Gatorade?” asked Phillip.
“Of course I have Gatorade. You know, to replenish my electrolytes from all that physical activity I get as a computer programmer.”
“Yeah, that’s funny. So, do you have any or not?”
“Nope, caffeinated beverages only in my car!”
“Great. Just great. We’re out here in the middle of the eastern Washington desert without any electrolyte-replenishing fluids. We’re going to die! Tell me why we’re here again?”
A.J. tossed Phillip a bottle of Dasani. “Because, dear Phillip, we are geeks, and as geeks it is our solemn duty to test out fine smart phone applications like Abduct Me.”
“Yeah,” said Kevin, “if we’re going to get rich writing these programs, then we need to do lots and lots of research.”
“And,” said Greg, “what else are we going to do on a Friday night without girlfriends?”
“Sad, but true,” said A.J. “So, let’s do this thing!”
The four friends removed cell phones from their pockets and tapped at screens that cast bluish glows on their faces. Kevin was the first to hold his phone toward the sky. “GPS says the coordinates are that way, about a hundred feet or so.”
They walked toward their destination. Fortunate for the explorers, the ground was flat and free of any major obstacles. Arriving at their target, they sat down on the dry, grassy field and checked their phones once again.
A.J. glanced at the time. “We’ve got like 15 minutes.”
“Should we build a fire?” asked Phillip.
“What? Why would we build a fire?”
“I don’t know. To protect ourselves from wild animals or something?”
Kevin swallowed a big gulp of his Red Bull. “No, man, fires attract wild things!”
Greg tossed his empty Starbucks bottle on the ground, shook his head, and laughed. “What about the aliens? Would they be attracted to our fire or repulsed by it?”
A.J. pondered the question. “Hmm…attracted, I think. Sort of like a beacon.”
“Good point. Anyone have any matches?”
No one did.
“What about the cigarette lighter in my car?”
“What about it?”
“Couldn’t we use it to light some dry grass or something and then make a fire?”
“You’ve been watching those survivor shows again, haven’t you?” teased Greg. “With our luck we’d just start a brush fire and burn down half the state.”
Kevin broke his silence. “You’re all idiots! Aliens would not be interested in fire at all. It’s totally primitive technology.”
“Hmm,” said Greg, “then maybe it would repulse them because it’s such primitive technology.”
Just then, a pair of headlights came into view, interrupting the theoretical discussion. “Damn, it’s the cops!” said Phillip.
“Sh,” said Greg, “it’s not cops. Besides, we’re not doing anything illegal.”
The four friends quietly waited as the car came to a stop next to theirs.
“Shit, what if it’s an axe murderer or something?” Phillip whispered.
“Would you shut up?” demanded A.J.
Two car doors slammed in the distance and a flashlight beam swept over them.
“They’re coming this way,” said Kevin.
“Can you see them?”
“No, but …but they’re holding cell phones in the air. I can see the lights!”
A.J. laughed. “More Abduct Me-ites!”
The four then stood up, raising their lit cell phones to the sky.
“Hey,” called out A.J. “are you here to get abducted?”
A female voice called back, “Yeah, you too?”
The geeks’ interests were piqued by the feminine voice, but their hopes were dashed by the man’s voice that followed. “Mind if we hang with you?”
“I’m Gwen, and this is my boyfriend, Scott.”
A.J. spoke. “Nice to meet you. We didn’t expect to run into anyone else out here.”
“Us either,” said Scott. “No offense, but I think this whole thing is stupid. I’m only along for the ride so Gwen will stop yappin’ about it.”
“No offense taken. That’s as good a reason to be here as any.”
Amidst the laughter that followed, the group heard another car approaching.
“You gotta be kidding me!” said Scott.
The erratic driving, loud muffler, and ear-piercing music suggested the car was full of teenagers. It screeched to a halt, kicking up a cloud of dust. “Yeah, bitches!” shouted the driver from his open window. The car idled for another half minute before the engine cut. The music, however, continued.
“Oh goodie, drunken teenagers,” complained Scott. “Thanks again for dragging me here, Gwen.”
“At least they’re not axe murders,” said Phillip.
Scott raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t mind him,” said A.J. “He’s our worst-case-scenario friend. Everyone’s gotta have one, right?”
The group laughed.
Moments later, the music stopped and the sounds of car doors opening and closing carried through the desert air. By the squeak of the hinges and the heavy sound the doors made when closing, it had to be a late model domestic car that probably belonged in a wrecking yard. Some sort of bizarre merrymaking commenced, but it was difficult to tell in the dark what, exactly, was going on.
“I wonder if they’ve seen the other cars here,” said Gwen.
“I doubt they’ve noticed them. They’re probably drunk or on drugs, maybe both,” said Phillip.
“We should let them know we’re here. If they are kids, then we might want to keep an eye out for them,” said A.J.
“Wow, when did you start feeling the need to take care of anyone but yourself?” asked Phillip.
“Hey, I just don’t want to be around when some dumb teenager gets alcohol poisoning and dies,” A.J. said. “Cops might try to implicate us.”
The geeks laughed and Phillip said, “Ah, I knew there had to be a selfish reason in there somewhere.”
The group walked slowly toward the newcomers, Gwen and Scott taking up the rear. Scott directed the beam of his flashlight ahead, revealing four figures circling the Element; they were peering in through its windows.
“Hey!” shouted A.J. “That’s my car!”
Anna, Trevor and their teenage friends looked up, startled.
“Dude, it’s cool!” said Trevor. “We just thought there might be a dead body or something in there.”
“Yeah, sorry sir,” said Anna. The group had quickened its pace toward them and was now within talking distance.
A.J. reached them first. “A dead body, huh? I think you were looking to break in.”
“No, no, really! When we saw your empty cars out here in the middle of nowhere, it just sort of freaked us out. We thought, like, something really bad might have happened to someone.”
“Yeah,” Mabel chimed in. “We’re totally telling the truth, you guys! Dawn here said that bodies get dumped out in this area all the time.” Mabel looked to Dawn, who nodded her head while cowering behind the others.
A.J. gave the teens a long, scrutinizing stare. They were visibly shaken. “Alright then, what are you guys doing out here?”
The friends looked at each other awkwardly before answering. “Uh, would you believe we came here to get abducted by aliens?” asked Anna.
There was a moment of complete silence, followed by a burst of laughter from A.J. and his crew. The teens also laughed.
“Let me guess,” said A.J. “The Abuct Me application?”
“Dude, you too?” said Trevor. “Awesome!”
Crisis averted, the teens quickly introduced themselves. Trevor wanted to take his posse of girls off on their own, but Anna insisted that they join the larger group, finding comfort in the company of the adults, albeit young adults.
Smart phones pointed toward the sky, the ten adventures began the journey back to the abduction coordinates. It was now 11:00 p.m.—prime abduction time. Small talk and raucous laughter filled the air as they walked.
A.J. placed himself strategically next to Anna. “This your first time? I mean, getting yourself abducted and all?”
She giggled, lowered her head, then ran her fingers through her long, blonde hair, gathering it up behind her ear. “Yeah, it’s my first time.”
Trevor’s face reddened.
“Nice,” said A.J. “So, how old are you?”
Phillip rolled his eyes.
“I turn 16 next week.”
“Whoa!” exclaimed A.J. “I thought you were at least 18.”
Trevor could no longer stand the shameless flirting with his girlfriend. “Dude, that’s my girlfriend you’re hitting on! And what are you, like 40? That’s sick, man!”
Phillip, Kevin, and Greg migrated toward their friend, laughing. Kevin gave A.J. a sharp slug in the arm and said to Trevor, “Actually, he may look forty and act twelve, but he’s 25, which is too old to be flirting with you and too young, apparently, to know better. He has a bit of a problem with social boundaries.”
“Yeah, I do.” A.J. laughed.
“And an even bigger problem with cute minors,” said Phillip.
“Hey, no harm, no foul. Right buddy?”
“Whatever,” grumbled Trevor.
Having arrived at the correct GPS coordinates, the would-be abductees sat themselves on the ground, spreading out just enough to allow for adequate personal space.
“Now what?” Scott asked.
“We wait,” said Gwen.
“For how long?”
“I don’t know. What do you guys think?”
Half an hour was the consensus.
“Should we make a fire or something?” asked Anna.
“Oh, don’t go there!” said Greg. “We’ve already determined that aliens could give a rat’s ass about fire!”
“I meant to scare off wild animals.”
Twenty minutes later, fireless, the group had become well acquainted and was engaged in a lively exchange about aliens—the who, what, when, why and how of abductions. Even Scott, the reluctant participant, added to the conversation.
“I once read about this woman in Florida who claims she was abducted from her trailer while she slept. She said they took her aboard a floating research lab where they did nothing but give her anal probes until they returned her a week later.”
“Ew!” Scott’s audience exclaimed.
“Yeah, what is up with that?” asked Phillip. “I mean, whenever you read abduction stories, there’s always an anal probe involved. What the hell do the aliens find so interesting up there?”
“And what does it say about us that we still want to get abducted?” Gwen mused.
“That we need to get lives,” said A.J., pulverizing a bug that crept up his arm. “Damn, I hate bugs! I bet there are spiders crawling all over us and we don’t even know it.”
“I wonder if aliens have, like, giant pet bugs that they walk on leashes and cuddle with,” said Anna.
“Or ride on,” said Scott, mocking her.
A.J. came down from his energy drink. “Alrighty then, I don’t know about you guys, but I think I’m ready to pack it up.”
General nods of agreement spread through the group, and Anna said, “Yeah, I’ve gotta get back before my mom gets home from work or I’m in big trouble!”
The group gathered their things and stood up, brushing dirt from their backsides. Phillip, leg asleep, hopped on one foot and hollered while pounding on his other leg with his fist.
And that’s when it happened.
A soft, white light appeared overhead, gently illuminating the night sky. Everyone stopped and watched in disbelief as the light grew brighter. No one spoke. No one moved. No one could.
The object grew nearer. The light, once soft and glowing, was now scorching hot and blinding. A deafening static assaulted their ears.
Paralyzed and helpless, the humans watched in horror as the alien ship came into focus. It slowed its descent as it approached them, its vast, multi-colored underbelly now lowering over its prey.
Inside themselves, the group screamed and panicked, trying to will their muscles into action.
The giant underbelly quivered, and the metallic exterior took on a gelatinous form. This bile-yellow jelly shook violently until, all at once, it swept down upon the fated humans and scooped them up. Small droplets of yellow slime fell to the earth.
A.J. was the first to regain consciousness. He found himself naked, strapped to a cold, metal table. He struggled to move through his paralysis. His legs, pelvis, and forehead were bound. Moving his eyes back and forth in rapid motion, he tried desperately to see his surroundings, but it was dark and he could only see what was directly above him and within narrow range of his periphery.
He tried to speak, but what came out was more of a moan. He was unable to use the muscles of his jaw or lips to sculpt an actual word.
A.J. heard the would-be words of others as they, too, awakened and found themselves in the same horrifying predicament. He thought he heard the nasally voice of Phillip nearby but couldn’t be sure. The moans grew louder and louder, with a discernable word emerging every now and then from the disharmony. The abductees sounded much like a sick symphony of amateur ventriloquists.
Gwen’s eyes flickered with panic. Naked and paralyzed, lying flat on her back, head turned to one side, she struggled to free herself from her bindings. No movement. Her hot cheek pressed firmly against the cold, metal table beneath her. Scott, she realized, was on the slab next to her in full view. She tried to yell to him, but nothing coherent emerged. Scott could not see her, as his head was strapped in the other direction.
Gwen felt pressure on her chest—pressure different from the straps that held her legs, pelvis and head. It was a feeling of cold, wet heaviness. She forced her eyes to the far corners of her eye sockets, as far as they would go, but still could not see what rested on her chest.
Phillip came to from the sensation of cold metal pressing painfully against his bare genitals. Head cocked to one side, he started to hyperventilate from his inability to move. In the dim glow of blinking lights, he realized it was A.J. who lay on the table next to him. “Uhhhh, uhhhh, huh, huh, ahhh, aeeee” he moaned, trying to communicate with his motionless friend.
Phillip could do nothing but panic and listen to the unsettling noises made by his friends and new acquaintances. He tried to gather his thoughts, calm himself down. It occurred to him the moaning didn’t sound any more distressed than his own, so he concluded no one was being tortured.
Not yet, anyway.
Anna let out a high-pitched screech that sent chills down the others’ spines.
A tall, scrawny, brownish-green being with a bulbous head loomed over her. Cold glassy eyes watched her, while its spindly fingers fumbled with a hand-held instrument.
She panted, while her eyes darted back and forth in an attempt to see what the creature was doing. Desperately, she willed herself to thrash against the creature, but to no avail. Her body lay perfectly still.
The being opened an orifice on its face and set free an impossibly long, forked tongue that reached down to Anna’s face. She screeched as the tongue caressed her eye. It snaked its way up her nostril and entered a sinus cavity. She felt only a tickle. The real horror came in knowing what was being done to her. After lingering inside her for a brief time, the tongue retracted and the entity keyed something into its handheld device.
A.J.’s heart pounded at an unprecedented rate after Anna’s unnatural scream. Though the adrenaline coursed through his veins, he remained utterly paralyzed.
What was happening? Who was that? The endless possibilities raced through his mind. He wondered when it would happen to him, what would happen to him.
That’s when he felt something—many things—crawling up his legs.
Phillip saw bugs, hundreds of them, crawling over A.J. They looked much like beetles, but smaller and made of metal. Emerging from a red box at the foot of A.J.’s bed, the robot bugs crawled up A.J.’s feet and legs. They moved slowly at first, their little heads nuzzling into A.J.’s skin like a pig rooting for truffles.
Phillip squealed as the bugs continued their climb up A.J.’s motionless body. He watched helplessly as they passed his knees, traversed his thighs, and then covered his abdomen. There, some of the rooting bugs paused briefly before turning around and heading back toward A.J.s groin, toward his inner thighs.
Phillip had been right. There was always an anal probing.
A.J. screamed as he felt the bugs crawling into the orifices of the lower half of his body, which they did with great speed. They delved deeply, dividing the connective tissue and taking nibbles from his internal organs.
Phillip tried hard to shut his eyes to block the scene (he couldn’t watch this!), but they wouldn’t move. The bugs that hadn’t already entered A.J. were now heading toward A.J.’s face. Picking up speed, they split into several groups and arranged themselves in single-file lines. They filed into both nostrils at once. Another row scurried into his mouth, making A.J. gurgle and gag. More entered through the ears. Phillip also gagged and the contents of his stomach lurched upward.
When the bulbous-headed alien first came up behind Scott, Gwen tried to warn him. Not that a warning would make any difference. The being glided behind him and cocked its head back and forth, as though examining him. Then the tongue came out. It slid down Scott’s back and up again. The forked tip spread out and made tiny punctures along both sides of his spine, from top to bottom. Once it reached the tailbone, the tongue retracted. The creature moved to Scott’s legs and unbound them with one hand. His fingers twisted and contorted like snakes, undoing the bindings at Scott’s waist and head.
Gwen’s heart thudded. She prayed it was over and that Scott would be let go.
The problem with prayers was they often didn’t get answered.
The monster slid to the other side of the gurney, so he was now facing Scott. He pushed Scott’s shoulder to turn him over. The young man slapped against the metal table like a raw slab of meat ready to be butchered.
The alien proceeded to tighten the straps once more.
Scott felt the hot breath of the alien as it lowered its bulbous head closer to his face. He pleaded with the thing as best he could, but only emitted a wavering, high-pitched shriek. The alien’s mouth, a mere slit, now touched Scott’s lips. His breath reeked of cow dung and moth balls.
Gwen nearly passed out when the alien tongue slid down Scott’s throat. He choked until the tongue retracted and, in one quick motion, the alien made an incision from Scott’s sternum to his pelvis. There was blood, a lot of blood. What happened next took Gwen a few moments to fully process. The creature pulled something long and coiled from Scott’s incision, which it threw in a heap on Scott’s chest. Intestines.
Gwen knew this was the same cold heaviness that rested on her own chest.
She passed out.
Earth date August 24th,11:55 p.m.
Somewhere in Outer Space (conversation translated into English)
“Commander Primus, status report on today’s expedition,” ordered the leader of the alien vessel. “The crew is anxious to hear the results.”
Primus nervously glided to the front of the room, where no less than fifty of his esteemed colleagues waited for him to deliver his report.
“Thank you, sir. Beta testing of our smart phone application, Abduct Me, was a phenomenal success. During tonight’s Earth voyage, we managed to acquire ten human test subjects all at once, and I don’t have to tell you what kind of boost that is for our efficiency ratings.”
“Excellent. No more one-off abductions from trailer parks in Florida,” declared one of his colleagues. Laughter filled the room.
Primus continued, “Right, and the best part is the humans are now coming to us. That’s going to further our research on human DNA exponentially, which is critical for our infiltration and assimilation program.”
“Such primitive but effective technology,” another crew member commented.
The captain then asked, “What is Abduct Me doing for us financially?”
“Nothing yet, sir. So far we’ve only made a version available humans can acquire for free. The next phase is to release the paid upgrade. One of our ground operatives is working on that as we speak. This version should generate a significant amount of income for us, the proceeds of which we’ll pipe into our usual Earth investments.”
“What about Hollywood? I hope we’re planning on doubling up our investments there.”
“Yes, sir. Public relations is well aware of the need to improve humans’ attitude towards aliens and remains committed to achieving that through television and blockbuster films. It’s the only way we’ll ever be able to fully colonize.”
“Forgive me, Commander Primus, if I don’t hold my breath. Hollywood was the first place we successfully infiltrated, yet we’ve made next to no progress there in the past thirty Earth years. What we need is another movie like E.T.”
“Or a television series, like the one starring Robin Williams before he became famous,” chimed in a crew member. “What was the name of that character? He really cracked me up.”
“Mork from Ork,” replied Primus dryly.
“Yes!” declared the captain. “We need another Mork from Ork. Make it so!”
Primus cleared his throat to take back the room. “It’s been noted, sir.”
“Excellent. While we’re on the subject of public relations, it certainly would help if our human test subjects didn’t keep having flashbacks. Sure, we’ve been able to return them with no physical evidence of their abductions, but we can’t seem to get a handle on those memory issues.”
“Sir, you didn’t allow me to finish. The brain is, of course, the most complex part of human anatomy, but our technicians believe, with this last group of subjects, they have successfully mapped the mechanisms for human memory.”
Gasps spread throughout the room.
“We are confident this evening’s group of subjects underwent full cognitive and emotional memory eradication.”
The audience clapped, stomped, and cheered with approval.
August 24th, 11:45 p.m.
Eastern Washington Desert
“What a waste of time,” said Scott to Gwen. “I’m sure glad you dragged me out here in the middle of nowhere to not get abducted by aliens.”
A.J. put away his cell phone. “Come on, man. It was fun. I’m a bit disappointed the aliens were a no-show, but we did get to have a few laughs, make some new friends.” He winked at young Anna, who blushed.
Anna’s boyfriend grabbed her hand and gave her tug. “Come on, babe, let’s go. It’s late.”
“Yes, yes, run along now children. It’s past your bedtime,” A.J. mocked.
The group of would-be abductees gathered their belongings and walked back to their cars. Kevin made note of the time as he put his cell phone in his pocket. “Wow, where did the time go? Doesn’t seem like we were out here that long.”
“OMG!” shouted Phillip.
The group stopped.
“What?” demanded A.J.
Engrossed by his phone, Phillip said nothing.
“OMG, OMG, OMG!”
“PHILLIP! What is it?”
“Dude, check it out. Abduct Me just released the upgraded version. New locations, alien jokes, abduction tips of the day…should I buy it?”
“Why not? You buy every other upgrade. You know, whoever writes these crappy applications are friggin’ geniuses. We really need to get on that gravy train!”
The group shared a hearty laugh.
“Hey,” said Anna, “we should all get together and try this again. Better luck next time, right?”
“Totally,” said A.J.