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Writing during the pandemic…

Call Me Adam

“Earlier today, the governor announced that the stay at home order has been extended until…”

Click.

He grunted as the screen went black, setting the remote on the small table beside his chair.

That’ll get them all stirred up, he thought, damned fools can’t even manage to get along in their own homes, fer Chrissake.

He’d been retired for a year before the world changed and worked from his home for six years before that. Stay at home order? He was a Goddam stay at home Ninja.

What bothered him, though, were the reports he’d been reading online, the ones that Lester Holt never mentioned on his broadcast. The ones about people sometimes dropping dead right where they stood.

That ain’t no Goddam flu bug,” he muttered.

He remembered a movie he’d seen about a hundred years ago now, an old black-and-white picture from England. There was a small town where everybody just dropped in place, all at the same time. In that one, they just slept for a few hours, to give the aliens time to do their dirty work. Aliens, demons, whatever the hell it was. Point is, they all woke up.

People here don’t.

Hell, even old Lester mentioned places with refrigerator trucks parked out back, bodies stacked up inside like cereal boxes on a grocer’s shelf. Thing was, he never went on and detailed just how many trucks, and how many bodies there were nationwide.

They all called it a biological virus… well, except the ones that swore they had indisputable evidence that it came from eating bats or the emanating waves from 5G cell towers, that is. Course those folks don’t like the social distancing thing either. He guessed that they probably believed doing that would force some of them off the edge, since the Earth was obviously flat, right?

But, morons aside, how the hell could a biological virus mutate so quickly? It began as a respiratory ailment, pure and simple, a flu on steroids, just weeks ago. Now they’re talking about blood clotting so badly that amputation is required? And little kids developing heart attacks? Little kids, dammit!

Nope, this ain’t what they’re saying it is, and there’s just no reliable source for the truth.

The networks are broadcasting what they’re told to, the idiot in Washington is babbling incoherently as usual, his dementia having clearly moved in with all its baggage, the rags at the checkout counters still talking UFO invasions… you just can’t trust anything you hear anymore.

Except the body count. That shit’s as real as real gets, same as it was in Nam.

He got up from the chair, knees cracking like kindling and hobbled to the window. The sky was full, as it was most days now. Gray clouds sliding slowly to the East, dark sentinels on patrol to ensure the warm sun didn’t dare make an appearance and lure people outside.

All the neighbor’s cars were parked in their usual places, no one out walking a dog, no kids riding bikes or playing B Ball at the hoop the folks near the corner had set up for their three boys.

Nobody.

Even the windows on the houses he could see all seemed to have shades or curtains closed, as though this thing could invade their homes simply by being seen from within.

He shuffled to his bathroom, wondering yet again why age made it impossible for a man to pee in one go, why it seemed to require numerous return visits, like chapters in a book.

That was the downside of an old man enjoying a few cold ones in his own backyard. He’d become a frequent flier in his own bathroom afterward.

He was drying his hands with the wash towel that hung beside the sink when he heard the knocking at his front door.

“What the fuck?” he wondered aloud as he walked to the door, the silhouette of a tall man visible through the frosted glass insert.

He flipped the lock lever and yanked the door open to confront no one.

He stepped outside, looking up and down the street. Nobody walking, no car door closing, nothing at all anywhere.

“Where the hell’d he go to?” he grumbled as he moved back inside, shaking his head. He closed and locked the door and turned to face a stranger sitting on the couch in his living room.

He grabbed the baseball bat he kept beside the door, but the man held his hands up, remaining perfectly calm.

“You won’t need that, Mr. Sanders, I assure you. I mean you no harm.”

“How the hell did you get inside my house?”

“I just walked in. You didn’t see me because I didn’t want to startle you outside.”

“Yeah, outside… where there’d be witnesses!”

The man glanced out the window and smiled.

“Well, not at the moment, but that is not the point. If you’d please just relax and sit down, I only want to talk to you.”

Bill Sanders set the bat down and sat in his recliner. If he wanted to mug me, he had the drop on me when I shut the door, he thought. What the hell’s he selling?

“Why me? What do you need to say to a guy like me? And who the hell are you, anyway?”

“Well, you wouldn’t be able to pronounce my name, so why don’t you call me Adam. And may I call you Bill?”

“Sure, why not? So, what the hell is this all about, anyway? Are you FBI or does CIA no longer worry about domestic borders these days?”

“Oh, I have no affiliation with your government whatsoever, I can assure you. But we do find you interesting in that you’re somewhat unique.”

“Unique? Are you kidding me? I’m retired, diabetic, and have no patience for bullshit, so if you don’t mind, Adam… what the hell do you want?”

“Bill, your unique qualities, particularly your independent judgement, might be the perfect fit for an advisory position with the people I represent.”

“I already told you, I’m retired, and I like it that way. Besides, what or who are these people you’re talking about?”

Your people, Bill, have a history of rampant greed and adversarial behavior. Your people show little or no respect for the lives of others, an aspect that hasn’t changed despite the situation you’re faced with right now. But then, your entire history is filled with those behaviors. One would think that surviving disaster would change even the most jaded, most callous individuals, but that hasn’t been the case at all.”

“Oh, and these people of yours, they’re different?”

“Completely. We’ve been observing your kind for a very long time now, and your theory of ‘natural selection’ is playing out right before your eyes, yet you seem unwilling to acknowledge or try to change that.”

“Well, I’ve gotta give you that, there’re more idiots than ever out there. The inmates are running the asylum these days. But history shows…”

Adam calmly held up one finger, and Bill paused.

“The history you’ve always been taught shows.”

“Well, history is history. Ain’t never changed, not since I was a kid.”

 “May I share a different version of history with you, Bill?”

“Knock yourself out.”

“Bear with me, and suspend your doubt for just a moment, please. Suppose there were a colony of renegades that were cast out from another galaxy, very similar to this one. The worst of the worst, narcissistic, greedy, and loyal to no principles at all but their own personal gain and pleasure. Then suppose they were given just enough resources to either find a new home for themselves, or expire and float aimlessly through the galaxy for eternity. How might that serve as an alternate history?”

“Ha,” Bill barked laughter in spite of himself, “Adam my man, I don’t know what kind of whacky weed you’re into, but boy… you are out there! Let me guess, OK? Next, you’re gonna tell me that these people of yours actually are those renegade outcasts, and you want to take over the Earth with my help. How’m I doing so far?”

Adam’s calm smile never wavered during Bill’s tirade. He answered softly.

“No, Bill, that’s not it at all. You see, your people were the renegades that banished us so long ago, when you found us. And now, before you completely destroy our planet, our home… we want it back.”

THE END

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