Where I've Been

For Carrie’s and Penny’s benefit, I will now post an account of what happened to me over the last three days.

On the evening of the tenth, I did something monumentally stupid. I got so fed up with the state of the roads that I decided to just drive off the road and go across the countryside. If I went in a straight line, I reasoned, toward the coast, then I could get there faster and avoid the traffic. After all, the reason we don’t drive off the road is just a blind adherence to the laws of society, right? And those don’t apply anymore. That was what I was thinking.

Twenty minutes later, at the edge of what I thought was a path through some woods, two of my tires popped completely. I got out of my car and decided to head through the woods. That would provide cover from the war machines, I reasoned, while I looked for another car.

Three hours later my phone was dead, it was dark, and I had not found a car. I’m not sure what I had been expecting to happen. I suppose I just figured it would work out somehow. I was just about to give up and try to make some kind of shelter to spend the night when I felt a sharp pain in the back of my head, worse than any I’ve ever felt. As I lost consciousness, hands gripped me from behind and began dragging me away.

I think that’s all I can write for now. I’m trying to save the battery on this phone and I think the Martians are back at work unloading the cylinder, so we need to be as quiet as we can. I’ll tell you the rest as soon as it’s safe to do so, Care Bear.

Sorry it took me so long to get back to this. I believe/hope that the Martians have returned to their war machines and are currently stomping around elsewhere. Be warned, this next part is about to get pretty unpleasant.

I woke up to the sound of silence, a diluted warmth, and the slow buzzing of flies. There was a gag in my mouth and my hands and feet were tied up. I tried to sit up and my head screamed, forcing me back down. I was in some kind of tent or under some kind of cloth tarp, the light of day filtering through, some strange burnt smell surrounding me.

A groaning noise came from my left and my heart sped up. Painfully, I wrenched my head toward the noise and saw an older man, tied up and gagged like me. His clothes were dirtier than mine and his body was covered in sweat. He was black, which didn’t seem important at the time, but in retrospect, well…

I heard another noise, a shuffling of cloth, to my right, and I whipped around to see a burly white man peering in through a flap in the tent. “He’s awake,” the man shouted, keeping his eyes on me. I noticed a strap around his chest, a rifle at his hip, swaying lazily against his cargo shorts as he turned around and left, letting the tent flap fall back into place.

Two minutes or so passed and then another man entered, also white but considerably less burly and a lot older. He was dressed about as fancy as you can get, but the grass and dirt stains on his dress pants kind of detracted from the effect.

“Woof! It’s hot in here,” he said, a slight but dignified southern drawl in his voice. “Sorry about that. We put up these tents when it was a little nippy, you see, but once the aliens spread that red snow around, it started getting real warm.”

I just stared at him, physically and mentally unable to say anything.

“S’pose I should introduce myself,” he said, squatting down a bit to look me in the eye. “Where are my manners. I’m Jeremiah Montgomery. I’d tell you to call me Jerry, but, well…” He winced, and pointed to his mouth. “That’s for your sake, by the way. Keeps things easier. We didn’t want to have to do that sort of thing, doesn’t feel too great for us either, but the last few got mouthy, and, well, they don’t like it when it’s too mouthy here, you see. Got to keep on good terms or we risk this whole thing we’ve got goin’, and none of us want that.” He smiled, and there was a genuine warmth and sincerity in his grin that made me feel very cold.

“MNNH.” My fellow captive moaned, shifted. Jeremiah rolled his eyes.

“See? This is ‘xactly what I’m talking about. This one here walked right into us. Started rantin’ and ravin’ about demons. Reckon we did him a favor, really. He’d just go get himself killed anyway. Cleaner like this, don’tcha say?”

I shook my head. Not a no, but a fucking seriously, what are you on about? sort of head shake.

“Right. You’re not too happy with us, and I don’t blame you.” Jeremiah rubbed his palms on the knees of his dress pants, leaving little sweat stains. “Don’t take this personal though. We’re just tryin’ to live ‘smuch as anyone else right now. And I reckon we figured out how.

“See,” he continued, “fighting the aliens was never an option. I seen all the movies, I know they got the better of us. That’s why we struck up a deal with them. Or it seems that way. It’s keepin’ us alive, whatever it is they think of us.” He seemed to stare through me, caught up in a thought. “Maybe to them it’s like a farm cat bringin’ home a mouse. Ain’t-that-cute sorta deal. Maybe they just think we’re funny, we’re clowns puttin’ on a show. Flea circus.

“Personally I don’t really care what they think of us. Turns out if we hand ‘em over some folks what can’t squirm and make a fuss, ‘n if we make it clear that’s what we’re doing, they leave us be. There’s a spot they took a shine to, out in a clearing, where their weapon factory landed. They’ve got a big one ‘o those bug eye war machines keeping watch. If we just hand ‘em over one of our guests, like a sort of sacrifice, and then we back off, they just watch us go. Don’t make a move or nothin’. And they been avoidin’ our whole camp in return.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this man implying he and his group had made some kind of pact with the Martians, without even being able to communicate with them? And was he saying he planned to hand me over to them? What use did they even have for people?

“And so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to kill two birds with one stone. If we’re lookin’ to rebuild America in the shadow of these things, we gotta do it right. We’re cleaning up the land, now that we don’t have any opposition.” He chuckled, a good-natured noise, and bile rose up in my throat. “Half the bleedin’ hearts died with Starbucks lattes in their hand when the aliens showed up. Maybe the other half’ll wander in here, by the grace of God!

“Again, and I know you prolly don’t believe me, but this is nothin’ personal. Nothin’ against you or your people. You just don’t belong here, never did. It’ll keep the peace better if it’s just us on American soil, y’know? No race wars, no marchin’… it’s better for everyone. We’re finally gonna fix this thing.” He said this last part excitedly, like I should be on board with him and happy about it too, somehow.

“We already gave ‘em one for today. Tomorrow, we’ll try givin’ ‘em two.” He pointed at the other man and myself, as if he needed to explain what he meant, his face still screwed up in a jolly grin. “Who knows what’ll happen then? Maybe they’ll even give us somethin’.

“So.” He rubbed his palms on his pants again and raised himself back up to full height. “It’s been nice talkin’ to you, but I have to get going. Try and get a good night’s sleep. We’ll bring water for you in the morning, and if you need it sooner just holler. To the besta your ability.” He smirked - the first cruel expression I’d seen through the whole conversation, finally bleeding through his mask of hospitality. “We’ll hand you off to them tomorrow noon sharp.”

And then he retreated, and left me alone with only my thoughts and this whimpering stranger.