An extract from ‘Alien Humanity’ by S D Anugyan.
She woke to white noise and snow on the television. She watched it a while, remembering that her son had told her it was the background radiation from the Big Bang billions of years ago. How did it happen though? She thought the channels ran all night. She glanced at the time on her phone. It wasn’t that late. Not bothered with the mystery, she went, switched the machine off, and stretched, looking around. Credo was on the couch, stretched out on his back, asleep, paws sticking up in the air. She almost laughed, then a sound compelled her to go to the window. Strangely, the one thought that occupied her mind as she pulled a curtain aside, was that ‘drawing curtains’ was a palindrome in its ambiguity. It described opposite actions.
Where was the sound coming from? She peered upwards, attempting to see through the glass, beyond the dominant streetlights and the Eye of Sauron. It sounded like a giant refrigerator. The window was vibrating. Prescient, that this was more than a brief glimpse, she went to put on her Vejas and smock, automatically pulling the hood up. Immediately she went outside and into the street, light from the hallway behind casting her in shadow, she saw it.
Stationary over the Heath, a circular object with white lights rotating on its rim.
She froze, transfixed, despite assuring herself it had to be a joke. The sky was misty, the object could have been a drone.
Then as it started to move away, she got a sense of the size of the thing. It looked like a double-decker bus would fit inside it.
It was going to move out of sight.
She ran up the steps to slam the front door shut, then down to the basement level where they kept the bikes chained. Swiftly retrieving her keys from the front pocket of her jacket, she unlocked her bike and hauled it up the steps. Once on street level, she leapt on her steed, launching off the kerb.
Glancing over her shoulder to confirm yes, it was still there, moving calmly north-west, she pedalled furiously to the High Street, looking to observers much like a drunken teenager.
A car honked as she swerved into the mild traffic. No lights. She switched on the front lamp but wasn’t going to stop to do the back. If she were right, she had to get to the northern perimeter of the Heath as soon as possible.
Reversing her earlier bus route, she shot past the Gatehouse and down Hampstead Lane. Despite the earthbound lights blitzing the sky, she caught another glimpse of the craft, if that was what it was. Had anyone else seen it? How could people go about their ordinary business when this was happening?
She passed by two discreet entrances to the Heath – one through an orchard, the other by the secret garden of Athlone House – both of which she ignored as being too twisty, dark, enclosed and creepy.
Traffic was minimal and she encountered no obstacles in her desperate attempt to get to the gate before it was too late.
When she reached, grateful for it being always open and spacious, not actually a gate, she was charging deeper into the Heath within seconds. For a moment she thought her prey to have moved further west, but it was the setting Moon shining through cloud.
She met nobody. It was considered necessary to be cautious so late on the Heath, especially as a woman; but she was rarely one to be cautious, particularly when she could see her target ahead, above the trees.
It was altering its trajectory, starting to move north-east.
“No!” she cried out in her mind. “Don’t go! I’m not finished with you yet!”
To her astonishment and terror, it stopped, mist swirling around it like currents in a stream around a rock. What had she done?
She knew this area well in daylight, close as it was to the aristocratic Kenwood House, desire lines fanning out as official routes or natural paths worn into the ground. Now she found herself off the path as her lamp cut out and she was flying across grass and open space. Her wheel twisted and she was thrown, rolling headfirst over the damp earth.
She got to her feet quickly, wet and muddy, shaken but determined.
Where was it?
She caught a glimmer of soft golden light and movement through the trees.
How could it be so low, lurking?
Her hood had fallen back onto her shoulders, and she was feeling the cold compress of the evening on her forehead. She pulled it back up, as if for protection.
A sudden blast of white light through the trees, bathing the landscape.
After the momentary shock, she looked around to see her bicycle collapsed like a mangled insect, and a deserted rural scene as in the middle of a studio-fabricated day.
Still not spying her quarry, she staggered on uncertain legs towards the trees. Why was it hiding? It wasn’t going to get away from her. She needed answers.
Nearing the tree-line, a revelation stopped her in her tracks. There were no shadows from the trees. Looking back, she saw she had no shadow either.
The dizziness that, unbeknownst to her, suppressed by adrenalin, had been increasing since the moment she heard the noise, now took over her body entirely.
As she collapsed, the one thought occupying her mind was, ‘Who was hunting who?’ then that too faded.
Occasionally something moves. In this dead world of noises heard and unheard, vibrations talking nonsense to cells, and poisons entering all orifices, a purgatory of their own making; in the twilight of landscape, neither this nor that, a recrudescence, coesite from quartz, light from maria. The tedious inevitability of one of their stories, as uninteresting and inevitable as their reproductive unions. One spark enters their brains and is fated to go round and round, pinging from one wall to another, never going anywhere. What is interesting here, is what occurs next, it is in the progeny. Let the linearity unfold in this time.
Extracted from ‘Alien Humanity’ by S D Anugyan
by S D Anugyan – sdanugyan.com
Available as paperback and Kindle
ISBN-13 : 979-8393626433
ASIN : B0C47TBMHY
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