Dave Meltzer, former office worker, finds himself working from a remote location in a regional sanitarium. It’s an occupational hazard.
Every day is the same. No sense of time. Same white walls, same white clothes, same white shoes.
Every day at six o’clock, an orderly comes to my room. He wakes me.
“Time for your meds, Mr. Meltzer.” He tries to affect a caring tone, but I know better. He doesn’t care.
“Yeah, okay.” Is the same reply I have used for years now.
He walks out the room, I shiver convulsively. I wait for the shaking to stop. The medication actually helps. I feel more calm. More in control. Less about to break out in a fit of terrified screaming.
I take a shower. The water is more cold than warm, but I am used to it now. It has a stink of metal and tastes like pennies when I brush my teeth. My skin is always dry and itchy when I’m done. I put on a new change of clothing left during the night while I sleep; a pair of scrubs, white, of course.
I slip into my string-less shoes. Comfortable deck shoes, I think. I hated them when I first arrived but they grew on me. Like so many things here.
My door unlocks at eight. The click fills the air in the room and lingers. As it fades away, a brief squelching tone followed by the faux happy Voice of My Captivity: “Breakfast time. Please make your way to the galley for breakfast, everyone. It is a bright and sunny day here at Happy Acres. It will be in the low seventies this afternoon so everyone who can get outside should. Everyone should congratulate Mister Franklin, who has recently crossed over and will be joining the staff. Congratulations! See the rest of you at breakfast!”
I have never met the Voice Of My Captivity in the hall or at a meeting or in a group. Whoever she is, she does not do any of the work with the patients.
My choices for the primary section of my breakfast are 5 Minute Grits, Cream of Wheat, Malto Meal or Oatmeal. If I can stomach it, there is a soft-boiled egg, and a piece of less than ideal fruit. Same thing, every day. I have been doing this for ten years now and it doesn’t look things will be changing.
I bet you are wondering if I am crazy. No, not a bit. The drugs they give me calm me down, but they haven’t done a thing to erase what I see every day.
Every human being I see is covered in these slimy, green and luminescent parasites.
I’ll let you digest that for a moment. Ready? The Reader’s Digest version….
I woke up one morning twelve years ago and drove my car to work. My wife and I were divorced but civil, I got to see my kids on the weekend. I was firmly driven into my rut. Same thing every day, wanting for something, anything to be different.
When I got in my car that morning little did I know it was the last normal day I would ever have. Turning on the radio, I got nothing but static on every channel. I assumed it was just my car slowly fading into obsolescence. I was forced to entertain myself by watching other drivers. And that is when I saw one. It was sitting on a woman’s face as I sat at the light.
She was putting on her makeup at the red. She seemed completely oblivious to the fist sized blob of green goo on her forehead. I rolled my window down and tried to get her attention.
“Sod off!” was her prompt and very rude reply. I thought maybe I was imagining what I saw until I saw a second on a completely different fellow. The blob was slowly disappearing into his ear, while he picked his nose at a toll gate queue. Once the blob was completely in his ear, another one appeared from the back of his chair and slid to a comfortable spot on the top of his head.
I looked around in the general toll area and could see at least fifteen of the creatures all around me. I began to doubt my sanity. By the time I got to work, I had seen hundreds of them. Nearly every car in San Francisco had at least one.
I tried not to stare. It was hard because the blobs could be seen doing any number of terrible things while they dangled, dripped, oozed, into and out of any and all visible human orifices. No one seemed to notice or care.
I tried to pay no attention to them because I assumed it was my problem. Until I met Darren the security guard in the building after work. Normally, I see him, he sees me. We nod and go on about our business. Today, he stuck out. He didn’t have a green blob on him. He noticed I didn’t either.
“Nice day, isn’t it?”
“Hell no it isn’t, sir. I have to ask can you see them?”
“Between you and I? Yes. But I am having a hard time complaining. My coworkers have never been as cooperative, efficient and dedicated as they were today. They accomplished more work today than they have all month.”
“Yes sir. I noticed it too. Everyone was doing work they never did before. The security teams walked the entire perimeter of the building without a smoke break and without a complaint. Everyone showed up for work on time and offered to stay late if we needed them to.”
“Darren, I have to wonder should we be complaining or just happy everything is running so well?”
“No idea. I will let you know tomorrow. Good night, sir.”
Darren never came back to work, though. And by the next day, everyone I saw had their own personal blob or two or three or nine. Except for me. There were none in my apartment. None on my pillows. Nothing on my car. It was as if they simply didn’t seem to care for me. Then I thought about my wife and kids and drove hell bent for leather to Antioch to see if they were okay, since no one answered my phone calls.
I saw them standing at the door as if they knew I was coming.
“Don’t come back,” was all my wife had to say to me. She closed the door and my daughters acted as if they didn’t recognize me.
I sat up all night looking for something on television, on the radio, or trying to make phone calls to everyone I knew. No one answered. No television shows, no cable, no internet connection. The world was silent in every way that mattered.
The next morning I got up to go to work and there were half the number of cars on the road. Traffic was fast and I was never below sixty five on the freeway. Got to work in record time. Only half the office staff was available. Everyone looked busy and focused on the tasks of the morning.
Until I noticed one thing in particular. No one spoke. As a matter of fact, no one got up from their desks once they sat down. They shuffled papers, moved files, interacted with Internet services. I realized the internet wasn’t down, only my connection at home was offline. But the office network was highly restricted now. Only resources directly related to work were allowed.
I got up to go to the bathroom. I had the place to myself, since my new co-workers didn’t seem to need to go any longer. I took out my cell phone and dialed 911. I don’t know why I waited so long. Maybe I simply hadn’t made the connection to what I was seeing. This was not my imagination. This had gone horribly wrong.
“What is the nature of your emergency, sir?” Got straight through and picked up on the first ring.
What do you say? “I think the world is being invaded by aliens…” was what I got out in a strained and hushed voice.
“Please return to your desk Mr. Meltzer. Someone will be there to tend to your needs in just a few minutes.”
The phone disconnected and soon after started beeping for a few minutes before I realized what happened. I got up and went back to my desk. My office mates were standing around my desk and were packing it up.
I already knew what was next. I lost my job. They were polite but insistent. What they said was even stranger. “Mr. Meltzer, you will continue to be paid for the next two years. We want you to go out and tell everyone what you saw happen here in San Francisco. You will be provided with a vehicle, a credit card, and the resources and connections to talk to anyone and everyone you want to. We will call you and tell you what city we will visit next. You go there and pave the way with interviews and anything else you think will ease the transition to our new way of life.”
And so without further ado, I was given a brand new Mercedes, the best suits money could buy, a credit card I never had to worry about and the job of going out to talk to the masses about the quiet invasion taking place all over the world.
Yes, they arrest me frequently and put me into an asylum until someone makes a call and gets me released. Same dance, different cities, different states one after another.
The young doctor who has been taking care of my case, called me into her office and let me know I am being released. My gear and equipment will be brought out front. She was a nice lady before they got to her. Now that she has her own blob, she is a model of efficiency. Her once messy desk, a trademark look is now a tidy and organized sign of her complete domination by an alien consciousness.
I have been at this facility in Texas for three months now. My last stop was Houston. My next stop is Dallas. As I get dressed, I consider the way I will preach the gospel before I find myself in my next resting facility between cities.
The blobs don’t seem to be in any particular hurry. They estimate it will take another twelve years give or take. They ask me if I like my work. My response is always pretty much the same. “It’s a living.”
My business card pretty much says it all. People give me the weirdest look when they read it. Dan Metzler, Harbinger.
It’s sad. Most don’t even know what the word means. By the time they understand it, they don’t exist anymore.
Harbinger © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved
Thaddeus Howze is a California-based technologist and author who has worked with computer technology since the 1980's doing graphic design, computer science, programming, network administration and IT leadership.
His non-fiction work has appeared in numerous magazines: Black Enterprise, the Good Men Project, Examiner.com, and Astronaut.com. He maintains a diverse collection of non-fiction at his blog, A Matter of Scale. He is a contributor at The Enemy, a nonfiction literary publication out of Los Angeles.
He is a contributor to the Scifi.Stackexchange.com with over a thousand articles in a three year period. He is now an author and contributor at Scifiideas.com. His science fiction and fantasy has appeared in blogs such as Medium.com, the Magill Review, ScifiIdeas.com, and the Au Courant Press Journal. He has a wide collection of his work on his website, Hub City Blues. His recently published works can be found here. He also maintains a wide collection of his writing and editing work on Medium.com.
His speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies: Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short (2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (2012), and Possibilities (2012).
He has written two books: a collection called Hayward’s Reach (2011) and an e-book novella called Broken Glass (2013). In 2015 he will be releasing Visiting Hours and A Millennium of Madness, two collections of short stories.
If you have enjoyed this publication or any of the other writing he does, consider becoming a Patron. For what you spend on one cup of coffee per month, you can assist him in creating new stories, new graphics, new articles and new novels. Creating the new takes a little support: http://patreon.com/ebonstorm.