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I TRIED to move, but I couldn’t; I was paralyzed and secured on a hard table and. “What’s happening? How did I get here? I remember trying to get away, to run, but I couldn’t move, and the being said I couldn’t get away. He, it, said they would come for me and take me away. Who? Who was going to come for me? Where were they going to take me? What did they want? Then, they came. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Eight-foot-tall creatures that looked like praying mantises. Were they real?” I wondered as I stared at them. “This is just a dream. When am I going to wake up? Then they looked down at me and threw some kind of powder in my face and that’s all I remember.
The Day Before
Thirty-year-old Martin Cole, an astrobiologist, sat in the university cafeteria with a colleague, Joan Case.
“Martin, isn’t it exciting to imagine that there is life out there, and that they might visit Earth? Imagine what we could learn from beings that live somewhere out there,” Joan said.
“Why do you say that, Martin?
“Well, you’re assuming visitors from other worlds will bring us cures for diseases and great scientific wonders.”
“Yes. Don’t we all dream and hope for that?”
“Some in my field, those who theorize about life on other planets, think as you do. They are optimistic, too. But if there are others out there, they might not be bearers of gifts. They might be invaders. Did you ever think of that?
“Well, to be honest, no. I guess you’re right.”
“I agree that there is probably life somewhere out there wherever there is, but we should be skeptical. You know, we can hypothesize from now until the cows come home. As scientists, all we can do is guess.”
“Of course, you’re right. I guess I’m a romantic,” Joan said.
Martin looked at his watch. “I’d better get going. I have some work to do. I’ll see you here for lunch tomorrow,” he said and left.
It was after 7:00 when Martin left his lab and went home. He ate a late supper, watched the 11:00 news, and went to bed. After sleeping soundly for four hours, he became agitated and flailed his arms. After several moments he sat up “What the hell is this? Am I dreaming? There’s a doorway or portal in my room. Where did it come from, and why is it here? The most important question is where does it go? Well, let’s see where my dream goes. I’m a scientist. I have to know so I’ll walk through,” he said and stepped toward it. When he was about two-feet away, he was drawn in “God,” he yelled as he fell head over heels down a long, dark tunnel. Finally, he dropped out of the tunnel and fell to the ground. Dizzy from his fall, he waited a moment and then stood up and looked around. “I don’t believe this. It’s my neighbourhood, and there’s my house. How could this be? How can I have left my house through the portal and end up looking at my house — if that is my house? This is crazy. Well, I have to find out,” he said and went to his house and went in. “It looks like my house. Let’s see what’s in my bedroom,” he mumbled and went up to his bedroom. “The door is closed. I never close my bedroom door. What’s in my bedroom,” he said, slowly turned the doorknob and slowly pushed the door open. “I don’t believe it. I’m lying on my bed.” As Martin stared, his duplicate got out of bed and faced him.
“You can’t be here. You’re in another place waiting. Now, go,” he said, a portal appeared, and like before, he was drawn in and he fell head over heels down a long, dark tunnel. Finally, he dropped out of the tunnel and fell to the ground. Shaken, he looked around at a barren landscape. “What the hell is going on? There’s nothing here, except that . . . that structure that looks like a tent. At least there’s life here,” he said looking at a figure standing in front of the tent. It, the figure, was covered in white, glowing material, and the figure beckoned to him, so Martin followed him into the tent and he looked around at the white, glowing inside. “Who are you?”
“I am the watcher. I watch for others like you and bring them here.”
“OK. Where are the others?”
“Where did they go? Where are they?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“I’m not supposed to tell you where they went.”
“I don’t like it here. I want to go home.”
“You have to stay here until it’s your time.”
“Until it’s my time? What are you talking about?”
“You will find out when they come for you and you go where the others went. “
“OK, that’s it. I’m getting out of here,” he said, tried to go, but couldn’t move. “What’s happening. Why can’t I move? What did you do to me?”
“I can’t let you go. You must stay until they come for you.”
“Who’s coming for me? What’s going on? What’s going to happen to me?” he sobbed and stiffened when he heard chirping behind him. He turned and faced two eight-foot-tall creatures that looked like giant praying mantises. “This really is a nightmare. Now is the time to wake up,” he said as one of the creatures threw a powder-like substance in his face and he fell down unconscious.
When he woke up, he was strapped naked to a table. He tried to move, but he was paralyzed. “I can see and I can hear. I hear chirping, but I don’t see anything. Damn, what’s going to happen to me? Oh, Jeez, there they are. They’re looking down at me. The two, eight-foot-tall creatures that took me, they look like praying mantises. They’re hideous. They’re leaving. Where are they going? I can’t see them.”
“This one looks delicious,” one chirped and Martin could hear them tearing flesh from a body and chewing. “These creatures are delicious,” one chirped to the other. “Delicious and filling. I can’t finish eating this whole meal. I will finish later,” he chirped. “We are fortunate that we have subdued all life on this planet. With a never-ending supply of food, our civilization will thrive here,” he chirped.
“Where are they? I don’t hear them. Oh, God, there they are looking down at me.”
“This one will be for later,” one chirped to the other and they left.
“I’m next. They’re going to eat me next. God help me.”
“Something’s wrong,” Joan Case mumbled as she rang the doorbell. “No answer,” she said and went in. “Martin,” she called, but there was no response. She then ran upstairs and went into Martin’s bedroom. Martin was putting on a shirt.
“Joan, what are you doing here?”
“I came to check on you because I haven’t seen you in two days.”
“Two days? Joan, we had lunch yesterday.”
“Yesterday? We did?”
“Yes, we did,” he said and threw some powder in her face, and she fell down unconscious. Martin opened his bedroom door and two, giant creatures that looked like praying mantises chirped, and Martin chirped, “She’s ready for you, and there are more where she came from.”