Scott lived in a small house on a county road. That county had put up a street light without his permission a couple of years prior. He’d shot two of them down, then the county had presented him with a bill, and so Scott had learned to live with the sodium light flooding his bedroom each night. There wasn’t much of the room you couldn’t see clearly, even after the sun went down.
But the light he saw come through his windows that night was a sight to behold. Scott knew what the lights were, yet still found himself somewhat stunned at the brilliance. When it subsided, his entire room was imprinted like a negative image onto the sodium light, which seemed utterly dim.
When he saw the thing walk right through his back door, which was located in his bedroom, Scott reached over, trying to be quiet, and picked up the .12 gauge riot shotgun. He was up and on the thing before it knew any better.
“Whoa,” the thing said.
“There’s a chair to your left and behind you,” Scott said. “Have a seat.”
The thing looked behind him. Cat hair. “I think I won’t.”
Scott chambered a round. “I’d rethink it.”
The thing sat down.
Scott walked over to his bed and pulled the chain, turning on the lights on the ceiling fan. He looked over. Another damned alien, Scott thought to himself. He took the pack of cigarettes from his nightstand, removed one, lit it, and took several puffs. He turned the pack toward the alien.
“Why the hell not,” the alien said. Scott took the alien his cigarette, already lit. He tried not to laugh. Watching it smoke was more than peculiar.
He sat down again on his bed and lit another. He took several drags, then looked at the alien.
“Your head looks like a melon. You’re aware of this, right?”
Scott watched as the gray man looked, despite limited facial features, positively insulted.
“You’re not terrified,” it asked. The question was sincere.
Scott laughed. Took several drags from his cigarette.
“One sec’.” Scott went to his fridge and removed two Yuengling Lagers.
“Excellent,” the gray man said.
“Your kind have been exploiting the Midwest and the Deep South for a long time.”
The gray man sipped the beer, then answered, “My, you speak whole words and everything. But yes, you’re correct.”
Scott again tried not to laugh as the gray man smoked. “Then I’m probably sure that you know the math; the odds of you eventually running into one of us crazy enough to know precisely how you work were not in your favor.”
Scott chuckled, then took a sip of his beer.
“You’re not joking.”
The gray man took a sip of its beer.
Scott took a chair from the other side of the bedroom and sat in it, about ten feet from the gray man. Emotions were tough to make out on the thing’s odd face, but he was certain he noted surprise.
“I really, if I had my best interest at heart, ought to kill you now,” the gray man said. “But this is fascinating somehow.”
Scott shrugged. “You’re not allowed, anyway.”
“You good? Need another beer?”
“Thank you, I’m quite fine.”
“Not intergalactic. You can’t be. Not in that form. You look weak as a kitten.”
“You know that I can move things with my mind, right?”
“It’s not your mind,” Scott said, “it’s your dimensionality. Somehow, you can manipulate this world by mucking around with things in yours.”
The gray man smoked the last of his cigarette. “May I trouble you for another?”
Scott lit the cigarette and handed it to the gray man.
“Like I said, I ought to kill you. You’re closer than you think.” Scott watched the smoke surround the alien’s head. He wondered if it weren’t subconsciously purposed; the fallen thing showing a familiarity with the humanity it hated: the need to hide the true self, if being discovered.
Scott went to his fridge and got two more beers. He opened both and put one next to the gray man.
The gray man paused before speaking. “People like you are trouble. The question for you is never whether or not we’ve been here, or are here. The question for you is, where are we when you don’t see us.”
Scott merely smiled and drank from his beer.
“Yes. All right? Are you happy now?”
“And you’re a jerk.”
“You’re awfully sensitive for a thing with the ability to move things with its mind.”
The two beings continued to drink and smoke and Scott continued to ask questions. When he put the gray man’s eighth beer in front of the alien, Scott ran his thumb around the rim of the bottle twice.
“I c… can’t believe I’m asking this,” Scott said, feigning a slur. “But… Take me to your leader!”
The gray man laughed, a sound so out of place that if Scott had been drunk, he knew, at that klaxon of madness, he’d have been rendered instantly stone-sober. He hoped to never have to hear that horrid noise again, but he was going to have to.
“Y…Yeah! I wanna see, I wanna see… your ship!”
“My God, you’re serious!” the gray man blurted out.
“Damn. Damn skippy, brother!”
The gray man tilted its head, then downed the last of its beer, none the wiser. “Well,” it said, the slur being no imitation, “why not! The boss’ll kill me, but… Yeah! Le’s’ go!”
The gray man stood and walked through the back door of the small house. To play the game up, Scott walked into the door, hitting it with his hand. He heard the horrible laugh again. He opened the door and stumbled out his own back door, into the night.
The two stumbled along for what felt like hours to Scott. The gray man constantly talked, some of it gibberish, some of it not, but he didn’t listen. He was focused to the point he was having to concentrate to feign his drunkenness. Scott merely hoped the alien would last.
Finally, the gray man turned and said, “Th… This is nifty.”
A ship appeared, gleaming in the moonlight, from nowhere. Scott didn’t have to pretend to be astounded. A door appeared from nowhere. Inside, it was a marvel of technology. The entire thing was an interface, constantly reading every motion, every gesture, monitoring every word (most of which he couldn’t understand) into what looked like thoughts. The entire inside of the ship erupted with some kind of electrical waves, criss-crossing everything, appearing to think, right along with the odd crew.
Then, everything stopped. The entire crew vanished, all save for a very large creature, and the gray man fell dead beside Scott. The thing in the ship was ten feet tall and all-but bulletproof. A low-ranking, fallen angel. Scott had something for just such emergencies.
He pulled a pistol from the back of his belt, which he’d tucked just before running into his own door, and put four, explosive-tipped rounds into the fallen angel. He swiped his hand left, ejected the clip, and popped in a new one. These rounds detected the first rounds and detonated them.
Scott fired one shot, right at the heart of the charging angel.
The thing blew into bits. Those bits turned to crystal dust before his eyes. Scott walked outside. He took out his phone and dialed a number.
“It’s me. I got it. A representative of the crew probably already popped in, while I am talking to you. But when it sees the fallen dead, the mission will be aborted. I know; they’ll come after us soon. Get the truck, the team, and get down here fast.”
A reader emailed and asked, “Why is the alien afraid of the shotgun if it can walk through a door?” For the sheer hell of it, I reckoned I’d answer:
Shot from the muzzle of a shotgun is traveling at, roughly, 800 miles per hour. The door is not. The presumption is made that while to us these things might seem to instantly disappear, that time frame is much different when dealing with projectiles traveling that fast. If it bleeds, the line goes, we can kill it.