WE ARE NOT ALONE…
MORE'S THE PITY.
Three poignant, sometimes blackly comic accounts, where unlikely heroes – kids, screw-ups, survivors – stumble their way through protecting Earth from faintly baffling alien invasions.
It's one of the oldest devices in science fiction, from Wells' The War of the Worlds to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing. Why do so many aliens want to invade the Earth anyway? Who's going to stop them? Is this going to take long?
"First night at Friday Club," Etty says. "You have to fight."
Alone except for a low stack of wooden crates, piled four high, the top draped with ruffled green fabric. The lettering on the wooden slats is Spanish. I think. Portuguese? Whatever they speak in Brazil. I tilt my head back and consider the gaudy petals of flowers peeking out from the topmost crate. Orchids. Ultra-rare orchids from the remote highlands of distant Amazonian rainforests.
"This can't be legal," I say.
"Bit late for that, squire, ain't it?"
That's Jost talking. He's got an unmistakable too-many-cigarettes-and-started-far-too-young rasp to his voice. Also a no-nonsense spit-and-polish manner. He did something in the Army. He doesn't talk about it.
"You just concentrate on the job in hand."
I keep looking—best I can—towards the crates.
My palms are slick with sweat, and I can feel a chill dancing down my back, like something crawling along my spine...
Think of something else. Something bright and—
"It's the smaller ones you got to worry about, isn't it?" Chas again. Ever helpful.
He leans across the barricade and drags the green cloth cover off the topmost crate.
"The larger creatures have got size to back off predators. It's the little scamps that have to kill things that threaten them, yeah? Big ones aren't so much trouble. I saw that on Discovery."
A massive black blob of something slides over the top of the open crate and marches down the vertical and onto the floor.
"Unless it's one of those," says Chas.
It's got fur, and lots of legs, and too many eyes, and—
"Fangs like bananas, that one, serious poisonous."
"Venomous." That's Laura Kelvin; precision is always important. "Poisonous would mean—"
"Piss off, Kelvin," says Chas. "Point is, right, it's in the fucking murder business, yeah?"
This thing is the size of my shaking hand and it's starting to move my way.
"Kill it," says Chas.
The spider rears up on its several back legs to show me it plays for keeps.
"Before it kills you."