Pastor Bob Gray is dead. He’s been losing his mind over the course of the last day, if it was ever there at all.

This morning the Martians managed to cave in part of the basement. We backed ourselves up as far away from the cave-in as we could, but it quickly became clear the only real option would be to hide ourselves around the corner, under the remnants of the cellar stairs, where the line of sight from the cylinder’s pit was broken.

That, and we would have to be very quiet.

The Pastor did not understand this last point too well. He started loudly ranting.

“These are the end times!” he shrieked. I shushed him but he continued, waving his hands about wildly. “There is no safety from the flaming sword of Abaddon, angel from the pit! These are his locusts, come to sweep the sinners away! And we have all failed the Lord! There is no mercy!”

I backed away from him on my hands and feet. What was left of our rations had been destroyed when the basement wall caved in. I slowly began to realize that I was stuck with a man who might at any moment give our shrinking location away to the Martians unloading their grisly rations right outside the basement. Martians who were hungry. Martians who were armed with instruments that drew blood in large quantities.

“The black pit is open!” the Pastor continued, howling. “God has forsaken us!”

As I backed away even farther, my hand brushed on a large, loose stone. I thought for a moment about zealotry, about my life and my sister, about conviction. In my head I thanked Penny for her restraint. I snatched up the stone, hurried forward, and brought it down on the Pastor’s head.

He yelped like a dog, an expression of wild exaltation stamped on his face, and then relaxed as he fell to the ground. I must point out here that he was not dead; I saw him breathing to the very last.

Here I have to admit to this next part being a bit of a blur. All I remember is the noise of it; hearing the Martian creep into the basement, stones cascading onto the floor in its wake. I remember this unrelenting feeling of being a trapped animal in its burrow, unable to escape, something truly unknowable coming for me, so above me it wasn’t even bothering to sneak.

I did see the Martian examining the Pastor; I don’t know how it didn’t see me. I imagine I must have scrambled to hide behind something. Maybe I picked up some of the planks from the staircase remnants and put them over most of my body, or maybe I just sat there waiting for death and the Martian overlooked me by a sheer miracle. But instead of being caught, I simply watched as the Martian, that permanent expression of self-assuredness and glee wrapped around its huge hideous face, drew its needle in a smooth motion and jammed it directly into the Pastor’s heart.

It knew, I remember thinking, one solid thought standing out in the rest of my panic and deliriousness. It knew where the human heart was. This isn’t the first time it’s done this. It knew, it knew, it knew…

Suffice to say I waited several hours. I waited until I couldn’t hear the Martians moving around outside anymore. Cautiously I peered around the corner of the stairwell, my view of the pit unimpeded by the wall that had been there previously. Red Weed crept about, and had almost reached me from the other side of the room, but other than that, no sign of the Martians. Their cylinder was gone, evidently disassembled, and a pile of dead Bloodbags were the only trace of the dirty work they’d done.

I scrambled, half-cautious, half-reckless, across the room and peered outside into the sweet, warm afternoon. The sky above me was a sickly purplish-blue, casting a surreal light through the cascade of spores drifting lazily through the alien air. No Martians. I started to make a mad dash away and then heard a pathetic chirp from behind me.

My heart leapt and I swirled around. Still no Martians, but one of the dead Bloodbags, well, wasn’t dead. Its bloated body shuddered, and something overtook me.

So, uh, I grabbed him. I took him with me. I’ve named him Gerald. Sue me, the world’s ended, I think I’m allowed a pet.