The Harvesters - Chapter Five: The Town Hall Incident

(An alien invasion story)

by Zapped!

   The alien invasion force overtakes the town hall in Rossville, in an effort to control the local government.

[You can read Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, Chapter 3 here, and Chapter 4 here.]

 

7:45 am, April 23rd:

   In the heart of “down town” Rossville, there’s a quaint little place called Rhonda’s. It’s your typical small-town dinner with that quirky “retro” look. There’s the laminated green counter that is immediately on the left, just as you walk in. A dozen well-worn bar stools line the counter’s L-shaped parameter. The walls are covered with a mish-mash of decorations that attempt to humor the patrons, such as the sign that says “No whining allowed!” or another that states, “Eat here and the gas is free!” …There are yellowing newspaper clippings of local milestones, along with Polaroid’s of a few regulars from over the years. Just behind the register is a framed black and white print of a much younger version of Rhonda. Judging by her smooth complexion and coiffed hairdo, the picture dates back to the early sixties.

   It’s just another Friday morning, and the early birds have already gathered inside for their daily breakfast and coffee. The true regulars have even taken up their rightful spots along the counter. There’s Jerry Smith on the left, having his cheese omelet and purple jam on rye. Right beside him, Hank the truck driver is finishing up the last of his pancakes and sausage. Next is Reverend O’Shea, whom scans the local paper with Danish in one hand, and a cup of tea in the other. And then down at the furthest end of the counter and seated all alone, is none other than Crumb Petrie - the town philosopher and well-known skeptic. The disgruntled vet alternates sips off his coffee with deep drags from his cigarette.

   The bells above the entrance door suddenly jingle, as an elderly couple walk in. The pair slowly creep across the floor towards their favorite booth, which overlooks Main Street. Behind the service counter is a perky-breasted waitress with a pretty face and a friendly demeanor. The nineteen-year-old is applying her ruby-red lipstick in a hand-held compact.

   Rhonda lightly whistles at her niece in an effort to get her attention. When the young woman looks up from her mirror, the proprietor nods her head in the elderly couple’s direction. The owner is quick to scold, “Time to get to work, Cassie.  …You can make yourself pretty on yer own watch!”

   The pony-tailed Cassandra quickly gathers herself up, before walking at a fast pace towards the couple’s table. She greets them with a notepad in hand and sports a brilliant and ready smile…

   From behind the counter, Rhonda scowls a comment at her male customers. “She might be my only niece, but I still got me a business to run!”

   With the exception of the reverend, all of those at the counter look up from their plates. They casually turn their heads to catch a glimpse of Cassie’s swaying backside, as she walks on by. Her trim young frame and sculpted curves always bring an appreciative smile from Rhonda’s male customers…

   Back in the kitchen, Rhonda’s third husband by the name of “Mel” is cooking up some sausage on the grill. In the background, the early morning news has just come on the television, and the local anchor is reporting the first of the day’s headlines. The burly cook butts-out his cigarette and reaches for the remote. He aims the controller up at the TV above the dining area and orders, “Tone it down for a minute! …I’d sorta like to hear this…”

   One by one, the diners turn their heads away from Cassie’s figure, to focus their attention on the morning news…

   A male news anchor reports, “State police officials have announced that they’ve yet to find any evidence of the two missing college students that disappeared back on April 4th. We now take you live to Olivia Munson, who’s reporting from the state police barracks in Shawnee County.   …Olivia?”

   A beautifully made-up reporter that is dressed in a sharp red suit, suddenly appears on the television screen. The chipper brunette takes her cue and flashes her brilliant smile at the camera…

   “Yes Ted, I’m over here at the state police barracks, where Police Chief Rupert Mount has just reported for duty!”

   The determined reporter walks forward at a brisk pace, with her healed pumps clacking away noisily across the concrete. (The view on the screen jostles around a bit, as Olivia’s cameraman and sound crew hustle to keep up). The correspondent steps directly in front of the police chief, effectively blocking him from opening the door to the station…

   With her microphone practically jammed in the officer’s face, the resolute reporter questions, “Chief Mount, are there any new leads into the disappearances of Brett Johnson and Pamela Andrews?”

   The police chief turns to the reporter with a confused look. The odd-looking ear pieces on his head suddenly blink red and emit a low-frequency beep. The chief immediately pauses in place. His eyes begin to glaze over, as his shoulders drop slack. The man’s confused expression  slowly transforms into one of confidence…

   As if he were reading his response from an unseen cue-card, the chief goes on to explain in a rather unusual and deadpan voice, “We have stepped up our efforts in the Johnson/Andrews case. We have several leads that we are following, but I must remind you that this is an open case. If we have any new information, we will be sure to let you folks know…”

   The chief turns to reach for the door, but the reporter continues to inquire, “What is your response to those saying that the Kansas State Police are merely dragging their feet with this case?”

   The chief politely responds, “Again - we are doing the best that we can.”

   Once again, the persistent reporter questions, “Is there any truth to the rumor that they ran off to Mexico?”

   “That is just one of the many possibilities that we are currently looking into.  …Now if you’ll please excuse me, Miss - I do have a job to do.”

   The reporter presses one last time, “Is there any possible connection to the recent and unaccountable disappearances of the two security guards?”

   The chief’s earpieces flash red and beep once again. His body seems to tense up, just as he’s reaching for the door. The cute reporter grabs hold his wrist, and a sharp jolt of energy immediately bolts through her body. Olivia lets out a brief “gasp” as the powerful current locks her body in place. With her eyes now locked onto his, the intrusive woman suddenly has no will to move…

   Chief Mount flashes a fake smile and pierces the woman with an invasive stare. “Like I told you before, miss - I have a job to do.”

   Olivia doesn’t offer a reply. She simply remains frozen in place, staring dazedly into the police chief’s eyes. When the man forcefully removes her grip from his wrist, her arm remains outstretched - her hand seemingly reaching for air.

   The police chief tips his hat in courtesy, before brushing past the bedazzled woman. A moment later, he’s locked the station door behind him…

   One of the nearby sound men quickly rushes to the woman’s aide. He grabs the reporter by the arm and gives it a good shake...

   “Olivia, are you ok?”

…The reporter doesn’t respond. For her, everything is blue skies and puffy clouds.

   The soundman repeatedly waves a hand through the woman’s line of sight, but she remains silent...

   “Olivia, can you hear me?”

. . . Olivia eventually blinks and seems to come around. She shakes off the strange after effects and attempts to gather herself together. It was as if she had suddenly awakened from the most pleasant of dreams, and whatever she was thinking of before hand, had suddenly been swept away.

   “Uh…yeah… um… (Now blinking her eyes repeatedly)…I think … I think I’m fine… I - I - What just happened?”

   One of the soundmen explains, “For a minute there, you sort of tensed up in place and just stood there in a daze!  …I tried to snap you out of it, but you were completely unresponsive.”

   “W-w-well the last thing I remember, I-I-I was…Well gosh - I don’t even remember what I was doing!”

. . . The camera lingers on the confused reporter for just a moment longer, before a wise technician decides to cut back to the news anchor at the studio…

   “Ah, well it appears that Olivia is experiencing some technical difficulties . . . In other news, President Obama warns that if-”

   Back at Rhonda’s, a confused group of diners turn their attention away from the television up in the corner…

   Hank the trucker blurts, “What in the hell -Err excuse me reverend - In the heck was that all about?”

   Jerry Smith swallows the last of his cheese omelet and replies, “What were those weird looking caps on the sides of the chief’s ears?”

   The reverend ads, “That man had the look of the devil in his eyes!”

   From down at the corner of the counter, Crumb Petrie lights up another cigarette and takes a deep drag. With smoke still rolling off of his lips, the Vietnam Vet goes on to offer, “I’ll tell you what it is, folks.  …It’s goddamned mind control!”

   The others at the counter give the vet a series of doubtful looks. Even Rhonda herself gets in on the absurd conversation.

   “You’re not going to go off on another one of your rants about mind control, aliens and the Bermuda Triangle, are you?”

…The rest of the group sneer at the mere thought of it.

   “Sure, just go ahead and laugh at me,” retorts the former soldier. “But think back to that ship that I saw creeping over the courthouse back in February.”

   A doubtful “sheesh” is followed by several “oh brothers!” as the rest of the diners shake their heads and return to finishing up their meals.

   “You’ll see,” warns the seasoned veteran. “When you wake up in the middle of the night, and there’s some four foot alien trying to stick a metal probe where the sun don’t shine, then you’ll know!”

   Rhonda cautions, “Now reverend, I hope you’ll forgive me for what I’m about to say.” The woman then turns in the direction of Crumb Petrie down on the end and confesses, “Now I’ve been with six different men in my fifty two years. Aint none of them been in my most holiest of private places, and I pity the little bug-eyed space-man that tries to stick somethin' up there!”

   As the reverend cringes, Mel is heard to mumble, “Aint that the honest truth…”

   Rhonda continues, “…And they’ll have to pry my loaded .38 from my cold dead hands, before they’ll be able to drag me off into their little spaceship!”

   Just then, the spirited conversation is interrupted by the jingling bells on the entrance door. In walks a lovely blonde in her crisp, navy blue police uniform. It was Officer Kelly Ripper, who was out on her early-morning patrol.

   The woman is met with a big hug and a “Hi there Kell!” from Rhonda herself. The greeting is followed by a series of masculine “hellos” and “good mornings” from the rest of the seated diners.

   The vibrant blonde emit’s a cheerful, “How ya'll doin' this mornin' guys!”  …Just a second later, she’s removing her hat and taking her regular seat at the counter.

   Seated just beside her, the reverend looks over and says, “She’s got some fresh Danish this morning.” … (The preacher holds up what’s left of his own pastry for an example, before wolfing it down).

   “That’s ok, reverend,” the woman replies as she pats a hand against her flat tummy. There’s a muffled sound of a firm “thud” before the officer announces, “I’ve been tryin' to watch my figure.”

   Rhonda pokes her nose in with a, “Like there aint enough men keepin' an eye on it already!”  …The proprietor gives her a playful nudge and asks, “So hun, what’ll it be this mornin'?”

   “Um, how 'bout a small coffee with two sugars and one cream, please.”

   Rhonda fires, “You got it, sweetie!”

   Kelly turns and greets the other diners by name. When she finally gets to Crumb Petrie, (now choking on his cigarette smoke), the deputy says, “Those things are going to kill ya' someday, Mr. Petrie.”

   In his smoke-tinged raspy voice, Petrie returns, “I’ll tell ya' what’s gonna kill me… these goddamned aliens!”

   Officer Ripper tries to hold back a smile. “You been seeing aliens again, Mr. Petrie?”

   Ole Crum Petrie shifts within his seat and spouts, “I’ll tell you this: you got two missin' kids on your hands, the security guards, a VPS delivery driver, and to top it all off; you have a bunch a state police that don’t seem ta' give a damn!”

   “So you think some aliens came down to lil' ole Shawnee County, just to abduct those folks?”

   “Well it seems like quite a coincidence, doesn’t it?”

   “Hmm, I don’t think that the sheriff ever considered the possibility, but I’ll certainly pass it by him.”

   “…And what’s with those silver things that were covering the Police Chief’s ears?”

   “Mmm - yeah, I’ve actually seen them on quite a few of the state troopers. It must be some new, high-tech communications device that their trying out. The big departments always get the latest toys, while we end up with all the hand-me-downs.”

   Rhonda returns to the counter and serves Kelly with a small coffee and complimentary Danish. The officer attempts to refuse the pastry, but the owner insists she eat it. “I have some fresh apple-pie baking in the oven too, dear…”

   Officer Ripper expresses a grateful, “Well thank you!”  …The woman smiles at the unexpected surprise before her. Unfortunately, she only manages to take a single bite from her Danish, when the radio goes off at her side…

*ssskrsh* - “Officer Ripper, do you read me?”

…The startled woman quickly chews her pastry in an attempt to clear her throat. She barely unlatches her radio when it crackles to life a second time.

*ssskrsh* - “Officer Ripper, do you copy me? This is an emergency!”

…Kelly raises her radio to her ear with a noted sense of urgency.

*SSSKRSH* - “This is Ripper reading you loud and clear, sheriff!”

*ssskrsh* - “It appears that there’s been another abduction!”

- A series of gasps quickly erupt from the surrounding diners, as Officer Ripper’s delighted expression turns serious.

*SSSKRSH* - “Another abduction?  …WHO? WHERE?”

*ssskrsh* - “Just meet me over at city hall on the double!”

*SSSKRSH* - “I’ll be right there sheriff! - Ripper out!”

   The officer jumps up from stool, tugs her police cap over her blonde hair and bolts for the exit. As she swings the jingling door open she yells, “I’ll catch-up with you later on that apple-pie, Rhonda!”

   By the time the proprietor responds, “I’ll be sure to save you a slice!” - Officer Ripper is already slamming the door on her police cruiser. With a twist of the ignition key, she guns the Ford and tears out of the parking lot - sending loose gravel flying every where. With its siren now wailing, the black and white sedan disappears into a cloud of dust just seconds later…

   Rhonda turns to her patrons and says, “My goodness!  …Another abduction? What is this world coming too?”

   From down on the end, Crumb Petrie blows a smoke cloud off into the air and offers, “The world is getting overrun by goddamned aliens, that’s what it’s coming to!” 

________________

 

Just twenty minutes ago:

   Sheriff Franklin jogs up the steps of town hall, enters the building, and then rushes his way up to the second floor. The mayor hadn’t mentioned what the emergency was all about, but then again - it wasn’t often that he made a distress call directly to the sheriff. Nearly out of breath, the two-hundred-ninety-pound man expels a loud gasp when finally reaching the last step.  The overweight constable shoulders the glass doors open and rushes inside…

   Once Sheriff Franklin enters the government wing, he’s greeted by an older lady that’s seated at her desk. The woman is attired in a rather plain-looking skirt and a frilly white blouse. The sixty-ish widow is the head receptionist, and has been a town hall staple for over three decades…

   “Well good mornin' sheriff!” greets the usually reserved woman. She quickly primps her graying hair before asking, “What brings such a fine man to my neck of the woods?”

   Now completely out of breath, Sheriff Franklin gulps for air. His sizeable belly  expands and contracts, as the man quickly surveys the busy office. There are a few town council members milling about the room, while the regular staff of attractive secretaries are all seated at their desks. A stern-faced security guard stands in the far corner and tries his best to look awake.

   An exhausted Franklin leans forward to brace his arms against his knees. After taking several deep breaths the sheriff finally manages to return, “Uh…hey there Martha. …(panting)…Is…everythin' ok with the mayor?”

   Martha replies, “As far as I know, sheriff…He came in fifteen minutes early this morning, just like he always does!  …Why do you ask?”

   The exhausted sheriff waves off her question as he continues to struggle for air. “Cause I…I jest got a call from him . . . Thought maybe…maybe thar was some sort of trouble, thasss all.”

   The woman shows a look of slight confusion and confesses, “Mmm, not that I’m particularly aware of, sheriff.”

   Franklin is quick to apologize. “Well in that case, I’m so sorry fer tha' bother, ma'am.” The sheriff then tips his hat and says, “Ya’ll have a good day now.”

   As the man walks off towards the mayor’s office, the woman adoringly replies, “Oh, it’s no problem, sheriff . . . No problem at all!”

. . . But Martha’s comment falls on deaf ears. Seated just a dozen feet behind the older woman, is a chesty young female in a white-and-flower-print dress. Jennifer Harper is the mayor’s personal assistant, who’s easy on the eyes and quick with a wise-crack. She spends her workdays advising the mayor on what to wear, along with making his personal appointments and occasionally running his errands. Jennifer’s friendly demeanor and good looks ensure that she’s well-paid for her efforts…

   Sheriff Franklin approaches Jennifer’s desk with rosy cheeks. He quickly removes his hat to wipe the sweat from his brow, while also trying to look calm…

   “Err…well hello thar, Miss Jennifer.” 

. . . The twenty-something assistant doesn’t need to look up from painting her nails to notice that the man is short of breath.

   “Now how are ya' supposed to catch a crook, if ya'll are out o' breath after two flights of stairs?”

   Now totally embarrassed, the sheriff flashes an awkward smile, before parking himself on the end of Jennifer’s desk. It’s a sly move that not only gives his tired body a rest, but offers him a better view of the assistant’s curves—which up until now, had been mostly hidden behind her desk.

   Just down the isle, Martha glances up momentarily from her work. The older woman looks over her shoulder with a bothered expression, as she already knows just what the sheriff is up to…

- Damned pervert!

   Sheriff Franklin flirts, “So I see ya'll got yer hair all done up nice n' purdy today, Miss Jennifer.”

   Jennifer flashes her perfect smile and replies in her thick Kansan drawl, “Well thank yeew sheriff!  …What a nice thang ta' say to a gal.”   …The woman playfully brushes back one of the ringlets that hangs down from her stacked hair, before returning her focus to her nails.

   Sheriff Franklin admires Jennifer’s adorable face and swan-like neck. A moment later, the man smiles to himself, as his eyes wander even further downward to blatantly stare at the young woman’s cleavage. The lawman compliments, “That sure is a mighty fine dress ya'll is wearin' today.”

      “Why thank yeew again, sheriff.”  …Jennifer can’t help but crack a knowing smile, as she knows she’s still being stared at.

   “Did ya'll find ya'self a good man yet?”

   Jennifer’s expression quickly turns sour. What goes on in her private life is surely none of the sheriff’s business, and the woman isn’t shy about getting the point across. The assistant sharply answers, “We’ll in fact I haven’t, sheriff . . . But if you ever do come across such a man in this here town, ya'll be sure to let me know.”

   The sheriff gets a dejected look. He tries to come up with a good comeback, but the mayor opens the door to his office to save the day…

   “Everett - Get your ass in here!”

   Once again the sheriff tips his hat and starts to mumble, “I guess we’ll jest have ta' continue this conversation at another time, Miss Jennifer…”

   That’s when the mayor orders, “On the double!”

   The bumbling sheriff grunts his way off the secretary’s desk and hobbles inside the mayor’s office. The hardwood door slams loudly behind him.

   “I got a colossal family emergency on my hands, and you’re out there flirting with my damned assistant!”

   “Well I wasn’t sure what the reason-”

   The mayor interrupts, “I didn’t have time to give a fucking reason!”

   “I’m sorry, J.D.”

   “You’re sorry? - How about I’m sorry for hiring your incompetent ass!”

…There’s a moment of awkward silence, before the mayor begins to break down. He turns and hands the sheriff a blackberry and explains, “I got home last night and nobody was there. I got this message shortly thereafter…”

   The sheriff holds the blackberry within his hand and watches the viewing screen. A brief moment later, a white-haired male with notably green skin slowly appears…

   The startled sheriff mumbles, “What in the hell…?”

   The alien-looking creature greets, “Mayor Goldstein, how are you this very fine evening? …I wouldn’t bother paging your wife, as it is her communications device that I’m using. We have her, along with your lovely daughter and the baby sitter. There’s no need to worry, as they’re here at our facility and are in great hands. I can assure you that we mean them no harm. All that we require from you is your total cooperation. We will be contacting you soon, with further instructions.   …And don’t do anything foolish, like calling in the state police or the National Guard - they are already within our control. If you should choose to contact the F.B.I., I can personally ensure you that you’ll never see your loved ones again.  …Enjoy your evening, Mr. Goldstein.”

   “Holy shit, J.D. - did you see that thing? . . . He looked like he was straight outta' Mars or something!”

   More concerned about his loved ones whereabouts than the creature’s skin color, the mayor flatly answers, “Yes, he did look rather peculiar…”

   “Well I’ll be a possum-on-a-gum-bush! If they done got Grace, lil' Hanna n' the baby sitter, then we best be puttin' in a call to the F.B.I. before-”

   The mayor immediately cuts the man off by shoving him against a nearby wall. He grumbles, “That’s exactly what we aren’t going to do, ya' damned fool! Didn’t you hear that freak?…We make one false move and I’ll never see them again!”

   “So what 'er we gonna do, chief?”

   “We’re going to just sit here and wait, and follow their instructions - whatever those instructions may be,” advises the mayor. “And while we’re at it, call that cute lil' deputy of yours and get her over here. The last thing I need is some Nancy Drew-wanna-be out there snooping around and causing even more trouble!”

   “You got it boss!”  …The sheriff retrieves his radio from his side and immediately presses the speak button.

*SSSKRSH* - “Officer Ripper, do you read me?”

…There’s an abnormally long pause of silence. Officer Ripper was one of the most thorough, by-the-book and no-nonsense deputies that he’d ever had under his command. Therefore, it was uncharacteristic of Ripper not to answer on the first call.

*SSSKRSH* - “Officer Ripper, do you copy me? This is an emergency!”

…Still more silence. The sheriff mumbles a “dammit!” just before his hand-held radio crackles to life.

*ssskrsh*  - “This is Ripper reading you loud and clear, sheriff!”

*SSSKRSH* - “It appears that there’s been another abduction!”

*ssskrsh* - “Another abduction?…WHO? WHERE?”

*SSSKRSH* - “Just meet me over at city hall on the double!”

*ssskrsh* - “I’ll be right there sheriff! - Ripper out!”

   The mayor complains, “I hope she knew enough to turn her damned radio down so nobody could overhear you!”

   Before the sheriff even gets a chance to respond, a set of tires screech to a halt just outside. The pair rush to the window to see a brown van with the familiar gold VPS livery, now stopped on Main Street below. A second delivery van that’s solid black in color, screeches to a halt right beside the first. The cargo doors swing open, and a group of green-skinned beings attired in stretchy jumpsuits, quickly spring from the back. The first of them, begin charging up the front steps of city hall with some sort of weapons within their hands!

   “Oh shit, J.D. - They’re headed right this way!”

   “Well don’t just stand there, you idiot! You’re the damned sheriff - do something!”

   Outside, a third truck has already pulled along side the others. This one is larger than the first two, with a large “cube-style” box on the back and with ‘Ryder’ down the sides. The boxy vehicle makes a wide left turn - effectively blocking Main Street - before it starts making a loud beeping noise in reverse. As the vehicle maneuvers itself into position in front of town hall, the remaining troopers begin to form two lines behind it…

   Inside town hall, Orion shock troopers quickly spread through the various rooms on the first floor. Explosions of brilliant light can be seen flashing intermittently from one room to the next. When the bottom floor is secured, the aliens charge up the stairs to the second floor in search of the mayor’s office. Once troopers reach the top of the steps, they turn to the glass doors at the right and storm the room…

   Martha Stewmen is the first to confront the unexpected intruders. “Hey!  …You can’t just barge in here like-”

CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE!

- A throbbing surge of energy freezes poor Martha just as she’s getting up from her desk!

   A lead shock trooper projects - Release the flash grenades!

   Several metallic grenades get tossed across the office floor. There’s a brief pause, allowing a few of the nearby secretaries just enough time to notice the rolling grenades. Their terrified screams are instantly cut short by several blinding explosions of light!

KA-CHOOF! . . . KA-CHOOF! . . . KA-CHOOF! . . . KA-CHOOF!

- The four exploding grenades leave their intended targets frozen instantly in their tracks!

   Several of the shock troopers jog from desk to desk, quickly checking each time-suspended victim. Some are still seated at their work stations, while others were simply milling about the office when the unforgiving flash grenades detonated. One of the soldier’s even steps in front of the immobilized security guard, who was frozen while reaching for his holstered weapon. The alien pushes the defenseless guard and laughs, as the man falls helplessly backward to the floor with a loud THUD!  …The shock trooper sneers down at the man and taunts, “Foolish human!  …You’re so worthless and weak!”

   Meanwhile, Sheriff Franklin is inside the mayor’s office and frantically shouting into his radio, “MAY-DAY, MAY-DAY! . . . Terrorists are attacking the town hall in Rossville!”  

…What the sheriff doesn’t know is that his transmission is actually being jammed by a signal from within one of the vans out front. His radio, along with any other phone within the building, (be it cell or landline), are now completely useless!

   Just outside the mayor’s office, the lead shock trooper is jiggling the exterior door handle.  It’s locked, he mentally observes before projecting out the order - Bring forth the ram!

   Several more fighters move forward from the back of the pack. They begin swinging a heavy battering ram in unison. The aliens build up their momentum with several well-timed swings, before they finally bash into the door before them.  …Within three good strikes, the thick wooden door gives way from its hinges…

   As the Orion troopers make their way through the door frame, a shot rings out from within the room. A bullet strikes the door frame, and then another pierces the wall. The lead trooper drops to the ground and then barrel-rolls in dramatic fashion. The lieutenant looks up to see that his intended target is already aligning him within his own sights! The alien warrior takes aim and manages to pull his trigger first!

CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE!

   Sheriff Franklin is immediately submerged in a brilliant explosion of light. When that light finally clears, his .38 special is still raised in front of him. The sheriff would never get the chance to fire off a third round…

   One of the other troopers points out the mayor, who now hides in a crouched position beneath his desk. She projects - There he is!

   Shock troopers quickly surround the cowering man below them. Mayor Goldstein looks up at them with a look of terror…

   “What do you want from me? . . . Who are you people?”

   The lead trooper approaches the mayor and gives the human the once over. The alien then shakes his head in disgust, before lowering his weapon. With a noted sneer, the warrior criticizes, “And you call yourself a leader?  …Pssht! - Get him out of there!”

   One of the burly troopers bends down and grabs the mayor by the collar, before roughly yanking him from beneath the desk…

   Just then, the crowd of gathered troopers part down the middle. A silver-haired man with skin just as green as the others, soon steps forward…

   Captain Kiyar takes in his immediate surroundings as he approaches. The Orion leader stops just long enough to pick up a framed family portrait from the mayor’s desk. The alien studies the picture for a moment and observes, “This picture must be dated, Mr. Mayor. Your wife’s hairstyle has changed since then. Grace looks so much more - how would you humans put it? …Oh yes - conservative.  …And look at your little Hanna, she must be what?…Only twelve in this photo?  …My, how much she’s grown-up since then…”

   “What have you done to my family?  …So help me God, if you’ve done anything to harm them, I’ll do everything within my power- .”

   “Tut-tut!” the leader rudely interrupts before going on to advise, “You’ll be doing absolutely nothing!  …I’ve already seen just how “worthy” your security force is!”  …The alien nods in the direction of Sheriff Franklin, who remains immobilized nearby. The creature makes some sort of snorting noise through his nose, as if to further castigate the incompetent human. “Now I can assure you that your family is in the best of care, Mr. Mayor.  …In fact, you might even consider them rather “at ease” if you will.”

   “What is it that you want from me?”

   “I’m sure we’ll go over all the details, once you’re back at our base.”

   “To hell with that!… I’m not going anywhere with you freaks!”

   “Oh, on the contrary,” assures the alien, “You’ll not only go back to the base, but you’ll tell us everything that we need to know, and do everything that is asked of you.”

   The commanding officer then turns to his first lieutenant and mentally advises; Have them bring in the conversion chamber so that we may process the humans at once. We must act quickly if we are to remain undetected.

   The first lieutenant nods his head and projects an affirmative - Aye, captain!

________________

Officer Ripper to the rescue?

   A Crown Vic sedan flies down Rossville’s main drag at a high rate of speed. With its heavy-duty suspension package, the black and white police cruiser almost seems to float over each-and-every bump and dip in the road. As the siren wails down Main Street, various shop owners and customers alike, all look up from whatever they are doing, just to see what the commotion is all about…

   Behind the wheel of the speeding police cruiser, is a brave female officer. And even though she works in a field that is predominantly male, Officer Ripper can be just as tuff and determined as any other…

   Tired of living a hectic life in the big city, (and the violent crime that came with it), Kelly Ripper had put in for a transfer out of L.A., just over a year ago. The thirty-nine-year-old eventually wound up in Rossville Kansas, and life has surely been relaxing ever since. Nothing much ever happens in this pleasant little town, and this California girl sort of likes it that way. And yet the proud officer is always ready for action whenever duty calls. Times like now; after receiving the strange call from Sheriff Franklin. She thought it was rather odd for the sheriff to put out an emergency call for the town hall, and not even bother to mention why…

- Hmmm.

   As Officer Ripper continues to speed down Main Street, she can see a big yellow moving truck that’s backed up to the town hall’s steps. There are a group of movers lowering a Plexiglas booth on a hydraulic ramp at the back. A brown VPS delivery truck, and a black van without markings, are both double parked at the curb beside it.

   The Ford sedan comes to a tire-squealing halt, just beside the black Econoline van. (The patrol car has barely come to a complete stop, when Officer Ripper abruptly slams the gearshift into park!) …The woman jumps from her vehicle and jogs off, leaving the driver side door to bounce open behind her. Placing her fingers between her parted lips, Kelly whistles loudly to get the driver’s attention…

   “Hey buddy!” the officer shouts in her best “authoritative” voice, “…You got this thing double parked.  …Let’s move it outta' here - pronto!”

   Now taking a closer look at the culprits, Kelly’s eyes begin to narrow when she notices the wrap-around shades and the silver ear-pods that the two men are wearing. - Now the delivery guys have them too? …And just what in the hell are these guys up to, anyway?

   Former security guard Vincent Trillo looks over at the cute policewoman who’s now standing at his window. The alien convert briefly sizes the cop up through his shades, before looking at the man seated beside him. That man was Bruce Miller; his old partner at the security firm. Alien technology and the silver pods over their ears, allow the two men to communicate without speaking…

Vincent: - What should we do now?

Bruce: - She looks quite attractive. She might be worth assimilating for the collective.

Vincent: - You think so?

Bruce: - Sure, just look at the mug on her. Looks like she’s got a pretty decent body, too!

   The former security guard turns in his seat to face the attractive policewoman. Although he’s smirking, the officer can’t tell that Vincent’s staring directly at her chest through his overly-dark shades…

   “I said let’s move it, guys!”

   “I’m sorry ma‘am, but you’re just going to have to wait a minute…”

   Officer Ripper gets a sour look and warns, “Look buddy, I don’t have time for this and I’m already cutting you a break as it is. Either you move it now, or you’re going to get a damned ticket!”

. . . At that very moment, Kelly just happens to glance through the van’s windshield. To her surprise, she sees a group of people in jumpsuits and helmets, now emerging from town hall. As the group marches down the concrete steps, the policewoman can’t believe her eyes…

- What the hell?

The officer removes her “aviator style” sunglasses for a closer look.

   The group, (numbering a dozen or so), are attired in shimmering white; the males in coveralls and the females in skin tight cat suits. Some of them wore helmets over their heads with darkly-tinted face shields. Still others had taken their helmets off to reveal their hair, which was shoe-polish black. All of them had a unique skin coloration, which appeared to be olive green in color. Most of them carried some rather odd, but high-tech looking weapons.

- What the fuck is going on here?

   The group that had just emerged from the building, met up with the second group that was now pulling the Plexiglas booth along on a hydraulic hand-truck. A curious Officer Ripper yells, “Hey you over there…Where do you think you’re going with that booth?”

. . . Several of the unusual-looking creatures are stunned to see the police officer. One of them even points in Kelly’s direction and raises its weapon. That’s when Officer Ripper decides to reach for her own. “Ok, just hold it right -”

CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE!

 - She’s too late. The driver within the black van had stuck his suspender gun out the window and shot his target at point blank range. Now Officer Ripper stood frozen in her tracks, right there on Main Street.  …The poor gal never even saw it coming…

   Vincent and Bruce exit the delivery van. As Vincent waves a hand in front of the officer’s stilled features, his partner comes around from the other side. He too looks directly into the woman’s frozen visage and mocks, “It appears that you’ve got the time to wait around after all, officer…”

. . . Officer Ripper fails to respond, of course.

   Vincent keys through the touch screen on his weapon to trigger the scanner. Once activated, the former security guard begins scanning the suspended deputy from head to toe. He makes a few passes over the female’s athletic frame, but the scanner’s sensors begin to emit a high-pitched noise, as if it were straining to pick up a reading. The man cocks his head in wonder, before repeatedly shaking the weapon.

   Bruce inquires, “Battery pack gettin' low?”

   Vincent briefly studies the weapon with a confused look and replies, “Must be.”

   “I got a quick fix for that.”

   Bruce rotates Officer Ripper around at the waist so that she’s facing him directly. He then relieves her tie clip, before forcefully ripping her navy blue shirt wide open. (The aggressive act immediately reveals a set of perky breasts that are clutched within the lacey confines of a lavender bra!)   …Not actually caring enough to unhook the garment, the former guard simply peels the bra cups downward and a set of pert breasts pop into view.

As his partner begins scanning Kelly’s bust line, Bruce continues his assistance by removing the policewoman’s holster and unlatching her belt buckle. A short moment later, Officer Ripper’s slacks drop to her ankles to reveal a matching G-string with delicate lace trimming.

   As Vincent continues to pass the wand over the front of the policewoman’s frame, the scanner discharges a familiar static-like sound. Once Kelly’s evaluation is complete, the device emit’s a beeping tone and the security guard reviews the female’s stats…

   “0.7060 on this one,” reports the former security guard. He then cruelly adds, “Her moderate breasts must have set her back…”

   That’s when Bruce suggests, “Try the ass.”

   Vincent makes a couple of quick passes over Kelly’s sculpted derriŹre, and the scanner goes wild. The alien convert looks down at the viewing window within the handle of his weapon and reveals, “0.8095 now . . . It looks like she’s a keeper.”

   That’s when Bruce suggests, “Then lets get her loaded up, before she attracts some unneeded attention…”

________________

A change of attitude…

   Back up on the second floor of the town hall, Mayor Goldstein continues to plea for the safe return of his family…

   “Just let me know that my family is safe!” begs the mayor before promising, “I swear that I’ll do anything you ask of me!”

   “But of course you will,” says Kiyar with a contemptuous chuckle. “I told you before; your family is in the best of care . . . But in order for them to remain that way, we’re going to need your full cooperation.”

   “I-I- Is it possible that I could see them?”

   Kiyar replies, “Well I don’t see any good reason not to.”   … (The alien captain casts a knowing glance at his lead lieutenant, and the soldier returns a wicked smile).

   For a brief moment, there’s the slightest glimmer of hope that begins to show within the mayor’s worried expression…

   “Why don’t you come and take a little ride with us, Mr. Mayor.”

   At this point, the lead lieutenant grabs the mayor’s hand and gives him a good yank to pull him up off the floor. The alien then roughly shoves the defenseless human along, as the surrounding guards lead him out of his office. When the group enters the reception area and the office space just beyond, Mayor Goldstein is totally shocked by what he sees…

   Mrs. Stewmen - the Town Hall’s longtime receptionist - was now being guided into some type of Plexiglas booth. Several more of the mayor’s colleagues were being placed in a waiting line, just beside it. Those that aren’t in that line, continue to stand frozen around the office, just like the living statues that they are…

   Upon witnessing the scene before him, the mayor immediately questions, “What in heaven’s name is going on here?”

   Kiyar stops the mayor short before advising, “Just shut up for a minute and watch…”

   One of the invaders is aligning Mrs. Stewmen’s feet on some plates at the bottom of the booth, while another straps her legs down. A third is adjusting a knob on the back of some sort of crown, so that it will fit around the receptionist’s head. Once the final adjustments are made, the technicians stand back and the Plexiglas door hisses into a closed position.

   At once, a spark of energy flashes through Mrs. Stewmen’s body. She breaks from her frozen trance, as the pleasurable wave unlocks long hidden and possibly even forgotten desires. As a faint smile appears on her lips, the sixty one-year-old softens within her restraints - but only momentarily. A second, much more powerful wave comes crashing through her entire being. The woman twists her frame within her restraints, desperately trying to fend off the alien’s mind-manipulating technology…

- The third wave would be even worse.

   Martha arches her back hard within the confinement of the plastic tube. Her aged pelvis thrusts outward, as straining hands frantically search for something to grab hold of. The receptionist finally grasps at the pleats in her skirt and clutches on desperately, as her mouth expels an unheard scream. Then at once, Mrs. Stewmen stiffens at attention within her Plexiglas enclosure. The woman would remain in this compliant pose for the remainder of her “reconditioning.”

   Mayor Goldstein observes the proceedings with a mixed expression of awe and horror. He turns to his captor beside him, whom looks on with an air of pride…

   “What are you doing to her?”

   “Stage one reprogramming.”

   “Stage one reprogramming?  …What in the hell is that?”

   Kiyar doesn’t offer an answer. Instead, the alien raises his hand in a motion to remain silent.

   “I said tell me what that is, god-dammit!”

   “Silence!”

. . . The mayor returns his focus to his helpless co-worker, who seems to be relaxing her frame inside the tube once again. That’s when two robotic arms unexpectedly swung out from behind her head and clamped themselves over her ears!

   Mayor Goldstein blurts out, “What the hell…?”

   The Plexiglas door hisses open, and Mrs. Stewmen steps out of her booth just a short moment later. As another office worker is quickly ushered inside, the elderly receptionist makes a sharp right turn and walks in the direction of the mayor and his captor. The silver ear pods on her head lead the way…

   Mayor Goldstein watches the older receptionist cross the room. Each step the woman takes is precise and with confidence. Martha stares straight ahead, eyes unblinking, and with her purpose unwavering. Even the humming sound of the conversion tube behind her wasn’t a distraction. She loved the sound of working equipment - her earpieces had told her so. When Mrs. Stewmen finally reaches the mayor, it is only then that he gets a closer look at the mysterious earpieces. The odd instruments were metallic silver in color and sleek in design. They were also compact, with the diameter of each pod being slightly larger than a golf ball. There were small LED lights on either side. Currently, they were green in color. The woman stops dead in her tracks before swiftly turning to face her co-worker.

   Mayor Goldstein looks into the receptionist’s blank stare. Mrs. Stewmen’s eyes are noticeably glazed over, while her expression holds a certain calmness…

   “Martha . . . Martha can you hear me?”

- The woman remains silent.

   “Martha . . . What have they done to you?”

   The mayor leans in closer to block the receptionist’s line of vision. Despite his close proximity, Mrs. Stewmen’s expression remains unchanged, she simply stares forward in a dream-like state. It doesn’t take long for the man to surmise, Whatever these goons have done to her seems to be affecting her ability to function!

- And then the woman’s earpieces flashed red.

…Mrs. Stewmen’s eyes go wide and her body stiffens even more. One of her lips quirks slightly, before the woman expels a gasp in apparent delight. Martha stands there for a prolonged moment, slightly wavering from side to side, until her ear pods eventually flash green. And then, without any rhyme or reason, the office worker hunches over to cinch-up the sides of her skirt. Steadily, she lowers herself to her knees. Martha looks up at the green-skinned intruder before her and flashes a gentle smile. With a newfound love shining brightly in her eyes, the sixty one-year-old casually greets, “Good morning, my master.”

   “…And a good morning to you, my new slave.”

   Without any suggestion, the once reserved female reaches out and cups the alien’s genitalia. With his balls now nestled within the palm of her hand, Martha began to gently massage them through his uniform. And even though the creature is fully clothed, the woman can immediately feel that this activity excites her master.

- Mayor Goldstein’s jaw nearly drops to the floor.

   “Martha, what is wrong with you?  …For Christ’s sake, say something!”

   But the office worker couldn’t hear her boss. She was too enamored with the swelling alien cock that was pressing beneath the material that’s before her…

   “May I service you, master?”

   Kiyar looks down at the woman and smiles with a sinister slyness. The alien commander drops a hand, before enticingly tracing a finger along the curve of the woman’s jaw line. “All in due time, my dear. But for now, I need you to send out that important message that we’ve implanted in your little head.”

   “…And then may I service you?”

   “I’m afraid we’re in a bit of a hurry, for that. Now carry out your instructions as you were told.”

   Although she appears somewhat disappointed, Martha knows she has a more important task to take care of. She immediately answers, “I’ll get right to it, sir.”

   The woman bolts upright, straightens her skirt, and then pivots on her heels. She stiffly marches off in the direction of her desk, intent on carrying out her orders…

   The mayor starts to make a spiteful comment at the sight, but notices something just as disturbing over the alien’s shoulder…

   Two more aliens - one male, the other a female - are running a scanner over his personal assistant’s frame!

   “Jennifer!”

   Mayor Goldstein attempts to lunge forward, but Kiyar’s quick reaction and firm grip keep the human in place. The man looks on helplessly, as the male shock trooper scans his wand over his assistant’s bust line. A short moment later, the female trooper rudely lifts the hem of Jennifer’s skirt, allowing a full view of her flower-print panties. The male obliges with a nod, before making several passes over Jen’s behind. After a moment, he switches to the front, making several more passes over her pubic region. Once thoroughly examined, the scanner registers its data and emits an audible “beep” in finality.

…Throughout the entire process, Jennifer stares forward dazedly with noted indifference. Even her nailbrush is still raised between her freshly painted fingertips!

   The female shock trooper releases the hem of Jennifer’s sundress, allowing it to float to a stop at mid-thigh. The male raises the handle of his scanner and reviews the data…

   - Captain, we have a positive reading of 0.9060 on this one, the male shock trooper mentally reports. Shall we load her up and take her back?

   Kiyar quickly measures up the young secretary with a trained eye. The leader then nods his head and telepathically replies, Yes, but just this one!  …We need to leave enough workers behind so that it appears to be business as usual. Load her up in the van for the return trip…

   Two more shock troopers quickly appear to carry out the order. The first steps in behind Jennifer and leans her rigid body back against his chest. The second grabs hold of the assistant’s ankles and lifts her in the air by her stiffened legs. All the while, the young woman manages to retain her “frozen while painting my nails” pose…

   Mayor Goldstein looks on in quiet desperation. The whole disheartening scene reminds him of one of those hypnosis stage shows, where some innocent spectator is slowly entranced and placed on top of two folding chairs. A moment later, the mayor mouths the words, “you sick bastards!” as the alien invaders carry the suspended woman off rather unceremoniously…

   Kiyar turns to the mayor and advises, “The sooner we can finish-up our business here, the less chance that more innocent passer-bys might get involved. These guards will see you out the door…”

   Two awaiting shock troopers grab hold of Mayor Goldstein by the arms. That’s when the captain advises, “If he starts to yell for help once you get him outside, put him down!”

   One of the troopers nods his head in understanding.

   Mayor Goldstein is then forcibly pushed along. He’s marched down the steps of town hall and then led outside to the awaiting transportation. A side door slides open on the track of a black delivery van, and a human male is waiting for him on the other side. The stranger quickly yanks the mayor inside just as he starts to yell out, “Hey wait a minute! You can’t just haul me off like th-”

Ka-thump!

- The mayor immediately slumps forward, falling face first into a pair of unconscious bodies…

   One guard turns to the other and grumbles, “All right, let’s get him out of here…”


The most important call of her life…

   As two of her former coworkers are being loaded up outside the town hall, Martha Stewman holds a reciever to her ear. Below her glazed eyes, she cracks a gentle smile, as a feminine voice picks up on the other end of the line...

“Hello?”

“Yes, is this the Channel 12 Action News Hotline?”

“Yes, this is…”

“Could I please speak to Olivia Munson?”

“This is her.”

“Hello, Olivia. This is Martha Stewman, over at the town hall in Rossville. I would like to report a developing story.”

“Yes, go on.”

“It seems that we had a bit of a hostage situation on the second floor.”

“Oh my goodness!…Is everybody alright?”

“Yes, the sheriff’s department has control of the situation.”

“Well thank heavens for that!  …But why didn’t we hear anything on the scanner?”

“Well, the mayor didn’t want to cause any panic. But now that the situation is under control, I thought that you should be the first to know.  …You’ve always been my favorite reporter, Olivia.”

“Well that’s very kind of you to say.  …Um…Er… (Scrambling noises can be heard in the background).  …My crew and I are headed back from the jail, but we can be there in a few minutes! …Thanks for the call, Mrs. Stewman!”

“No, thank you, my lovely darling!”    

   As Mrs. Stewman hangs up the phone, she can’t help but beam. Her master will be so proud of her for completing her task. She has no idea that her one little phone call will seal the fates of so many others…

 


   Waking up in the custody of the alien invasion force, Mayor Goldstein is the first human to actually witness the fate of some of those who’ve mysteriously disappeared…

 

9:30 am, April 23rd:

   Mayor Goldstein slowly opens his eyes to the surrounding darkness. Unknowingly roused by the stiff ride of a delivery van’s suspension, he can’t help but feel as if he were somehow awakening from a very bad dream. The man remembers blinking red lights, and the many blank expressions of his endlessly staring co-workers. Then he briefly recalls being shoved along by some sort of green-skinned beings…

- (Chuckles to himself) …What in the hell did I eat last night?

…The mayor feels the warmth of a body lying just beside him, and he starts to roll over. As he does so, the man attempts to wrap his arm around his wife’s waistline, but finds that his hands are bound together!

- (Confused expression)…What did we get into last night?

   The mayor clears his throat and taps his fingers against the shapely behind that’s facing him. He’s a bit taken-aback by the firmness…

- Has she taken up Pilates again, without telling me?

   After several unsuccessful attempts to awaken his wife, the man raises his bound hands and tugs at the woman’s elbow.

   “Honey, wake up!”

…The woman doesn’t budge.

   Once again the mayor whispers “Come on Gracie - wake up!  …I have to tell you about this crazy dream I just had!”

…Still no reply.

   That’s when the delivery van that the mayor’s in, rolls to a squeaky stop. There’s a sound of grinding gears, followed by the whine of a transmission backing up in reverse.

- What in the hell is going on?  …Why would I be in an enclosed vehicle?

   The van comes to an abrupt stop, causing the body beside the mayor to bump back against him.  …First there’s a sound of two doors slowly creaking open. Then there’s a shift in the van’s balance, as those doors slam shut.

   “Grace!  …Gracie, wake up quick!  …Come on honey, there’s something weird going on!”

   Someone begins fumbling with a set of keys. A latch is pulled upward and the sound of a sliding door brings forth the daylight…

   Mayor Goldstein winces at the sudden brightness. There’s a figure standing in the doorway, but his eyes can’t seem to focus on who it is. Once again the mayor urges, “Gracie wake up! What in the world is wrong with you?”

…The stranger in the doorway expels a sinister, “Heh-heh-heh!”

   The mayor turns over enough to see that Grace is facing away from him and lying on her side. With his hands still bound as one, he somehow manages to tip his wife’s unconscious body over. As her stiffened frame falls to a stop, her head lolls over lifelessly in his direction.

- Mayor Goldstein instantly recoils in shock.

   “Officer Ripper?”

…It was undoubtedly true. Here was Officer Kelly Ripper; staring through the man with her unseeing blue eyes. There was a noticeable expression of surprise still imprinted on her attractive face.

   “Kelly, wake up!  …There’s something inexplicable going on!”

   The stranger in the doorframe taunts, “She can’t hear you, fool!”

   A second, much taller figure then steps into the doorframe and orders, “It’s time, worthless human!”

   The stranger leans forward and grabs hold of his captive’s ankle, before dragging him harshly across the van floor. A frantic Goldstein desperately scrabbles at the metal flooring, and at one point, even grasps at a pair of hosiery-sheathed legs!

   The mayor looks up to see that they’re the curvaceous legs of his lovely assistant - Jennifer Harper - who stares forward glassily, with her back propped up against an interior wall of the van!

   Goldstein yells, “Jennifer!…Oh thank goodness!”

   One of the thugs cuts the reunion short when he orders in his gruff voice, “Come on, you!”  …He gives the mayor’s legs one swift yank, nearly dropping him from the edge of the van to the ground below.  

   Mayor Goldstein desperately pleas, “Wait!  …Where are you taking me?  …What are you going to do with me?  …You can’t do this - I’m the goddamned mayor!”

   The first security guard looks at the other and suggests, “Maybe we should just zap him and get it over with.”

   The second replies, “Might shut him up and make our job a whole lot easier, Vince.”

   The first security guard raises his wand-like stasis weapon and pulls the trigger.

CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE!  

   A pulsating discharge of brilliant white light suddenly illuminates the cargo area of the van. Within seconds, the imposing force of energy completely suspends the mayor in time!

   Satisfied with the results, Vincent goes on to instruct his partner, “I’ll take care of this one. You carry the cop and the assistant over to processing.”

   Bruce Miller nods his head in understanding. The former security guard leans into the van and grasps the police woman by the ankle, before pulling her across the floorboard. He then grabs the blonde by the wrist, pulls her to her feet, and slings her unconscious body over his shoulder. A brief moment later, Bruce marches off with Kelly’s arms swaying lifelessly behind him…

________________

Trapped like a mouse beneath the cat’s claw…

   Mayor Goldstein awakens in a darkened room. Even as his perception slowly returns, he only manages to find himself that much more disoriented and confused. There’s a small circle of light shining down from above, illuminating just the immediate area around him. Slowly pulling himself up from his lying position, the man swings his feet out over the edge of his bunk. He peers out into the darkness to size up the situation…

   The mayor briefly recalls an incident at the town hall. There are intermittent memories of men and women attired in coveralls and clingy cat suits.  …The blank expressions and glassy stares of those all around him.  …A brilliant flash…

- And then nothing.

   Mayor Goldstein pulls himself up off of his cot and steps out into the darkness. Reaching out and touching the walls, he can tell that the room is fairly small - possibly eight by ten at best.

   On the opposite side of one of those walls, a small group of Orion officers watch through the one-way viewing panel. A behavioral specialist has also been observing the mayor’s actions, and he eventually turns to Captain Kiyar with a professional appraisal.

   - This one can be broken down, just like the others, projects the shrink. However, the great queen is growing restless.  …Before long, Theramea will be under pressure to show some results.

   Kiyar returns, - And if Theramea is under pressure, then we’ll all be under pressure. How long will the conversion take, doctor?

   - It could be a couple of hours, in human time. Then again, it could take several days.

   “Dammit!” the alien curses out loud. “We don’t have several days!”

   There’s a momentary pause, as Kiyar paces back and forth beyond the viewing panel. His head is dropped in thought, as if looking for a rational answer…

   That’s when one of the other officers suggests aloud, “What if just we show him his wife and daughter?”

   The behavioral specialist is quick to object, “That might be too traumatic at this point.”

   “Yes, but they can be used as excellent bargaining tools,” counters the officer.

   Kiyar briefly pauses in place, as if considering his options. Then at once he says, “I don’t see where we have much of a choice.  …Take him down to the storage area and see how he reacts. We can always convert him like those two security guards.”

   On the other side of the wall, Mayor Goldstein continues to feel his way around the room. An unseen door handle starts to turn on his left. A door swings open just a second later, and the room is suddenly awash with light. Two unknown figures appear in the doorway and approach their captive…

   An unfamiliar voice that sounds digitized and alien quickly orders, “Let’s go Mr. Goldstein, it’s your turn.”

   Still blinded by the abrupt light, the mayor is dragged from his room and forcibly led down a narrow corridor. It takes him nearly a whole minute to regain his sight and recognize his captors…

   Mayor Goldstein looks to his right to see a green-skinned brute that’s attired in a dark gray jumpsuit. A quick turn to the left reveals a nearly identical goon in similar attire. In his hands is a wand-like weapon of alien nature…

- The mayor panics.

   “You!  …You were the ones that attacked the town hall!”

   “Let’s go!” orders the first goon, before roughly shoving his captive forward.

   Mayor Goldstein attempts to struggle against the grip of his captors, but his efforts are futile; the alien thugs clearly outsize the man. Like an annoyed mother trying to gain control of her child, one of the troopers yanks the mayor off of his feet and forces his prisoner to walk forward in a more normal fashion.

   “You can’t treat me like this!  …I’m the damned mayor!  …I was elected for the people, by the people!  …And I’m warning you creeps - my wife is a lawyer!  …We’ll sue your sorry asses!”

…The mayor’s tirade only falls on deaf ears. The Orion guards continue to march forward, forcibly escorting (and sometimes dragging) the mayor right along with them. Eventually they come to a thick set of double-hung doors at the end of a corridor. Riveted upon them is a reflective sign that says, “Refrigerated Area - Keep Doors Closed.”

   As one of the green-skinned goons reaches out to turn the handle, the other reveals in a rather ambiguous manner, “We have somebody here that would like to see you.”

   The other guard teases, “Yeah, just don’t be surprised if she doesn’t actually recognize you!  …He-he-he-he!” 

   In a worried voice the mayor questions, “Wh-wha-what are you going to do with me now?”

   As the first guard pulls the stainless steel doors open, a rush of cold air sweeps over the immediate area. With a misty fog now rolling out around his legs, the alien steps forward and orders, “This way…”

   The second guard quickly prods the mayor, and with a terrible sense of foreboding, he reluctantly steps forward…

________________

A reunion of sorts…

   The area beyond the heavy steel doors opens up into a very large room. They appear to be in some sort of abandoned warehouse, or possibly an old factory. The floor of the span is entirely empty, save for the dozens of cocoon-like enclosures that line one of the interior walls. Some of those enclosures are under lit with an unnatural greenish glow, while others are simply dark.

   Mayor Goldstein winces his eyes and quickly scans the room for more clues…

   The surroundings are unmistakably industrial, judging by the galvanized wall panels and the outdated fluorescent lighting. There was a chain-driven track system that hung from supports on the ceiling, and ran the entire length of the room. Hanging intermittently from said track system, are various iron hooks - implying that the place was formerly a meatpacking plant. All that’s missing are the hanging carcasses and blood stains on the walls.

…The mayor shakes off an involuntary chill. 

   Assuming that this was an actual meatpacking plant, the area was still surprisingly clean. From the freshly laid conduit and polished steel fittings, to the recently buffed tiles that cover the floor, somebody obviously put some time into the place. In fact, there are green-skinned laborers currently on the floor. The small group work with haste, as they sort through numerous shipping crates full of various parts and pieces. From the looks of it, they appear to be erecting even more of the odd-looking enclosures.

   As Mayor Goldstein is escorted across the factory floor, he observes that the area is noticeably chilled, and that he can see his own breath in the air. He’s aware of a distinct odor too, like a sanitary smell of cleaning ammonia or even chlorine, as opposed to the anticipated stench of raw meat. 

   “W-wha-what is this place?”

   In an authoritative tone, the nearest guard quickly orders, “Move it!”

   As the mayor is pushed along, it becomes apparent that his nightmare is only beginning. The frightened man has no idea what these goons are about to do to him, and his trembling hands only confirm the fact.

   The trio are coming nearer to some of the plastic enclosures. Each one is seven feet high, by three feet deep, and gradually tapers off in width towards its bottom. There’s a series of metal struts that arch over the top of each capsule, and hook into little metal ringlets along the sides. Each of the four struts are engineered to give the enclosure its girth, as well as to support its weight. Numerous membrane-like vessels surround each of the womb-like sacks, making them look even more eerie than they already were…

- For some unexplainable reason, just the mere sight of their emptiness brings even more concern to the mayor.

   “W-w-what are these plastic sacks for?”

   “You’ll soon find out,” assures one of the sneering guards.

…This last statement was quite true. Within a few more steps, the trio comes upon one of the first of the under-lit enclosures. At first glance, Goldstein isn’t quite sure of what he’s even looking at. The silhouette of whatever is held inside, is somewhat distorted by the thickness of the clear plastic, and the light coating of frost that covers its surface. Now turning his head at different angles, the mayor can see that the form inside is decidedly human in shape - quite possibly a display mannequin.

   Mayor Goldstein leans forward to get a closer look, and soon realizes that this isn’t any mannequin. The man takes in a measured breath and quietly murmurs, “Oh my god…”

   Standing inside the opaque capsule is the figure of a young woman. The mayor assumes right away that she’s of Asian descent, due to her high cheekbones and almond shaped eyes. Upon her head of long black hair is a banded crown of silver. It’s attached to a harness that holds a series of cables and wires that disappear into the area of the pod above her. A pair of sleek looking caps cover the woman’s ears. She stares out from the gloomy confines of her cocoon, but with seemingly visionless eyes. The expression on her pretty face is decidedly neutral, if it can be considered an expression at all…

   “Wh-who is she?”

…The guard doesn’t answer the question.

   “Wh-wh-what are you doing to her?”

- Still no answer.

   The mayor glances down through the plastic to notice the woman’s suggestive attire, which is a revealing satin teddy in shimmering red. The vibrant color of the garment sharply contrasts with the owner’s pale blue lips and ashen white skin.  …And although seemingly dead, this poor creature somehow manages to retain her feminine beauty.

   The alien guard gives his prisoner a harsh yank, jolting him from his brief reverie. The insistent beast pulls the confused man along, indicating that there’s still more to see…

   The trio pass another membranous capsule; this one containing a rather plain-looking woman with ginger-colored hair that’s rolled up in plastic curlers. She’s not wearing any make-up and she’s dressed in a rather frumpy-looking bath robe. Like her neighbor beside her, the assumed housewife also sports a banded crown upon her head. Her natural facial features hold the same neutral expression.

   Mayor Goldstein has even less time to study this homely-looking victim. As he’s yanked forward once again, the man questions… “What is all of this?  …What is going on in here?”

   “Keep moving,” growls one of the guards.  

   As he’s continually pulled along, the mayor glances into each of the translucent capsules. There was a rather gaunt-looking woman in one, and judging by her unkempt hair and disheveled clothing, she might have been a homeless person.   …The capsule right beside her contains a dark-skinned woman in fishnet stockings and a short leather skirt. She has heavy make-up and ghetto-fabulous hair that appears to be a burgundy wig. Her garish attire is topped off by a leopard print tank top that shows off her spilling cleavage. Mayor Goldstein is quick to consider, was that a hooker?

   The next cocoon almost seems to verify the fact, as another scantily clad female stares outward; this one in a lacey red cat suit. She has stringy blonde hair that grows darker at the roots, while her face is lined with age. Her overall appearance is decidedly sloppy, in comparison to her next door neighbor’s.    

…Beyond the suspected prostitutes are a half dozen more females. Unlike some of those before them, most of these women have a more “chiseled” appearance. Their posture is stiff and their demeanor is stern, and from the looks of their physical condition, they’re no strangers to discipline. Those few that didn’t share an “athletically-toned physique” look even more rugged and butch than the others. Some are attired in drab-brown t-shirts and boxers, while others wear olive-green tank tops and rather dull-looking briefs. All of them have Government Issue dog tags hanging at their chests.

- Soldiers?

   As Goldstein continues to stumble along, his deep sense of dread continues to build. At some point, the steel entrance doors click shut once again, and the sound of approaching footsteps can be heard from behind. An echoing voice calls out in the distance, “Ahhh! …So there you are!” 

   The guards stop the mayor short, indicating that they would wait for the newcomer...

   Mayor Goldstein had been stopped in front of yet another cocoon; this one containing a young female with ghostly pale skin and a pierced nostril. Her raven hair is streaked with bright pink highlights, while her parted lips are painted black. Heavy eyeliner frames her dark glassy eyes, which stare sightlessly through the man before her. The mayor’s roving eyes briefly scan the female’s boyish attire, noticing the baggy cargo pants that hung low on her hips, and the ‘Ramones’ t-shirt that hung from her frame.

   Goldstein begins to wonder, Was she one of those Goth kids, or maybe a skater that was constantly kicked off the steps at town hall?  …Or could she just be some teenaged runaway, that simply had the sad misfortune of crossing the invaders path on the wrong night?

The mayor frowns at the last thought.  …She’s only a couple of years older than my Hanna, for god sakes.

- Oh my god - Hanna!

   Caught up in the inexplicable horror that surrounds him, Mayor Goldstein had momentarily forgotten about his recently abducted loved ones. With a newfound level of concern, the anxious man immediately blurts out, “My wife and daughter - I must see them at once!”

   Again the mayor struggles against the hold of his captors. The alien guards still manage to keep him in place, even as they bow forward to their approaching captain.

   Kiyar gives the guards a respectful nod in return, before greeting their latest captive…

   “Ah, Mr. Mayor!  …I see that you’ve been shown the hard-earned fruits of our labors.”

   “These women - who are they?  ….What is being done to them?”

   “I was fairly certain that you’d ask that question,” replies the captain with a crooked grin. He then goes on to reveal, “All of these women have been harvested in and around Shawnee County.”

   The mayor briefly glances back to the nearby skateboarder, who continues to stare out numbly from her cocoon. Her exposed skin looks ghostly and waxen, and she hadn’t so much as blinked the entire time they’d been standing there. He couldn’t help but consider, was she just barely conscious, or God forbid - even alive at all?

…With a note of hesitation in his voice, they mayor musters up the courage to ask, “…Are they dead?”

   Kiyar nearly snorts at the foolish question. With a condescending tone in his voice, the alien leader informs, “No my friend, they are in fact un-dead.  …Their metabolism has been slowed to a near stand still.  …And although their bodies are frozen, they can be revived in a matter of hours. Their minds are being assimilated into the collective right as we speak.”

  With an even more baffled expression than before, Goldstein questions, “Just what in the hell are you talking about?”

   Kiyar approaches the very same cocoon that the mayor had been staring at. The alien leader stands there in silence for a moment, simply studying the suspended female within. The captain cracks an evil smile, as if reveling in his own ingenious handiwork. He finally reveals, “It is their pre-chosen destiny.   …In due time, all will serve our almighty queen.”

   “Serve the queen?  …Wh-wh-what queen?”

   “The supreme ruler of the Orion Nation.”

   The mayor furrows his eyebrows at the ridiculous comment. He then shakes his head and mumbles to himself, “What the fuck is going on here?”

…That’s when the captain advises, “There’s something else I’d like to show you.”

   Hesitant to proceed at first, Mayor Goldstein braces his legs and stands firm on his feet.

   Kiyar encourages, “Please Mr. Mayor, come this way…”

   One of the guards jabs his weapon into the mayor’s back, easily convincing him to move forward…

   The Orion’s progress along the row of cocoons in total silence, forcing their captive along with them. Inside each of those passing enclosures are the shadowy forms of even more human females. Some of them are still dressed in their normal street clothes, while others are attired in nothing more than their sleepwear. All stood silent within their cells.

   The mayor becomes more and more anxious with every passing cocoon. It isn’t long before he nervously asks, “Wh-wh-what is it that you wanted to show me?”

   Kiyar decries, “What, and spoil the surprise?”

…The two guards glance over the head of their captive and give each other a knowing smirk.

   Kiyar finally breaks the silence when he announces, “I believe this should be the one.” The leader takes a moment to rub away the slight build-up of frost that has formed on the front surface of the cocoon. He then proclaims, “Ah yes, there we are!” The leader then steps back and waves a hand through the air, indicating that the mayor should have a look for himself.

   With the guards still at his sides, Mayor Goldstein nervously steps up to the flexible structure. The shadowy form inside is indiscernible at first, so he tilts his head forward.   …With his head placed so close to the plastic, the mayor’s breath actually fogs up a small spot in the middle of the enclosure. One of the guards wipes that condensation away, and then nudges the man in the back.

…That’s when a familiar face comes into view.

- A sudden chill runs up the mayor’s spine. The horrified man gasps at the appalling discovery and reels back on his feet…

“NOOOOOOO!”

- Held within her very own protective cocoon, is none other than Mrs. Goldstein. She merely stands inside, with her hands on her thighs and with her fingers splayed out over her business skirt. She appears to be in a comatose state, just like the others…

   “My god!  …Wh-what on earth have you done to my wife?”

   Kiyar only responds, “Grace is now in a place where she will be forever cherished. With our deep neuro-conditioning, she will gain strength in both body and mind.”

- The cryptic answer only raises more questions…

“Neuro - what?  …Why you sons-a-bitches!”

   Now frantic, the defiant man twists and turns against his captors’ grip with desperate hopes of breaking free. The cruel guards simply laugh at his worthless efforts…

   The alien leader remains indifferent to Mayor Goldstein’s aggressive behavior, and casually slips his hands into the hip pockets on his jumpsuit. He goes on to advise, “There’s no need for insubordination, Mr. Mayor.  …All we ask is for your full cooperation, and your lovely wife might be freed…”

“Cooperate with you? - NOT EVER!  …Now let me go, you - you… fucking bastards!”   

   Goldstein’s heart is pounding so hard now, that his pulse is ringing in his ears. At once the mayor’s breathing becomes labored. He suddenly feels nauseous and dizzy, and for an intense moment - it appears that he might even topple over. The two guards react quickly and steady the man back on his feet…

   Mayor Goldstein attempts to catch his breath, as a myriad of unanswered questions dart about his head. He soon begins to question, “Why was she abducted?  …Taken away and stored like this with all of the others?”

   Kiyar responds, “As I mentioned before; they will all serve our great queen.”

   “Serve her how?”

   The captain explains, “Some of them, will work in the mines to harvest our planet’s greatest resource: dilithium crystals.”

   Goldstein turns and asks, “Dilith- what?”

   “Dilithium crystals,” repeats the leader. “We sell them as fuel to other species across the galaxy. The crystals fuel their ships.  …It’s our planet’s biggest source of revenue.”

   Mayor Goldstein looks back at his wife. The mere emptiness of Gracie’s stare unnerves him. Considering the current circumstances, he would almost expect to see a sense of fear in her expression.  …And yet, she somehow looks oddly at peace…

- Maybe even complacent.

   The mayor looks away from his wife’s vacuous gaze, as he no longer can cope with the unblinking eyes that stare through him and beyond.   …Glancing downward, he can see that Gracie is still attired in a charcoal-gray business suit and skirt, her favorite angora sweater, and a pair of smart black business pumps. Still hanging above her ample chest, is the genuine pearl necklace that he had given her this last Christmas.  …These were all items the mayor had watched her put on just yesterday morning, as she got ready for her day at work…

- And now here she was: stored away like some side of beef, with numerous others.

   After a pensive moment, the mayor finds the courage to ask, “You said only some of them would work in these so-called mines…”

   Kiyar tries to explain, “Dilithium is just one of our resources…”

   Goldstein cuts in, “…And the other?”

   The alien clears his throat and carefully chooses his words… “Human females -whether they be white, black, red or yellow - will always be a hot commodity on Orion.”

   Mayor Goldstein fires, “Wait a minute . . . A what?”

   The leader raises a hand for silence. The guards enforce his request by increasing their grip and jabbing their weapons into the mayor’s back…

   Kiyar goes on to reveal, “We’ve been studying the form of the human female for many generations now. In 1587, the raid on the lost colony at Roanoke Island was the very first of its kind.   …Our great leader Enruka thought up the very idea of carving “Croatoan” into that infamous tree, therefore passing the blame of the missing settlers onto the nearby native Indians.   …Over three centuries later, we were quite surprised to see that mankind had managed to discover flight. We soon returned to retrieve some young lady by the name of Amelia Earhart for further studies.   …Years later, and as human technology advanced, we began to focus on the area that would soon become known as the Bermuda Triangle.”

   “That was you guys?”

   “Yes indeed,” divulges the proud alien leader. “Then in more recent years, we set up operations in the desert outside of Ciudad Juarez, which is just over the Mexican border.”

   The mayor interjects, “I thought Juarez had to do with Mexican gangs and prostitution?”

   “So we would have you believe, Mr. Mayor.” Kiyar then continues to explain, “Luckily for us, popular human culture has attributed such disappearances to paranormal activity, extraterrestrials, and as you mentioned - even gang involvement. It is only because of mankind’s gullible nature, and his lackadaisical attitude towards investigating such incidents, that we’ve managed to carry on such research without so-much-as being detected!”

   The mayor swallows hard in his throat before theorizing, “Abducting earth women? …My god!  …This could turn out to be the biggest travesty since the holocaust!”

   “You may think of it as a travesty, Mr. Mayor, but we think of it as good business. Human females have been in particularly high demand as concubines and adult entertainment, ever since our very first harvest at Roanoke. It was only a matter of time before we returned for-”

   Goldstein interrupts, “What does any of this have to do with me?”…He then points to Grace’s cocoon and further questions, “…or my wife, for that matter?”

   “We need your help at - Mmm, how shall I put this?  …Getting our message out to the masses.

   “Absolutely not!” rejects the mayor. “I refuse to be a pawn to you slimy snakes!”

   The alien argues, “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

   “FUCK YOU!   . . . TO HELL WITH YOU ALL!”

   Kiyar furrows one of his bushy eyebrows in disappointment. “I shall remind you, Mr. Mayor, that the very fate of your loved ones depends solely on your full cooperation.”

   One of the guards gives the mayor a swift jerk, just to stress the point. The goon smiles at his captive, giving the human a good close look at his moldy green teeth…

   From just behind, the alien leader asks, “Perhaps you’d like to see your little pumpkin?”

…The captive immediately stiffens at the mention of his daughter’s nickname. Kiyar starts to crack his evil smile, as he knows he’s struck a nerve. He had deliberately chosen the girl’s nickname for maximum impact.

…Mayor Goldstein slowly turns, his eyes darkening with a growing hatred.

   “So help me god, if I find out that any of you so much as laid a hand on her-”

   Kiyar is quick to interject, “As I mentioned before; your daughter is in the greatest of care.”   …With that said, the alien nods his head towards an adjacent cocoon and suggests, “Why don’t you just see for yourself…”

   Mayor Goldstein glances at the plastic shell and the hazy figure within. Despite the distorted view, it’s quite easy to see that the dark shadow inside is nearly a foot shorter than the others.   …Goldstein’s angry expression slowly morphs into one of uncertainty. With mounting dread, the man silently questions, Was this unearthly creature actually suggesting that…

- No, it couldn’t be…

   The mayor steps closer and peers into the misty confines of the cocoon. He finds himself looking down at the docile visage of a young female; her features are delicate and soft. She has burnished gold locks that are tied into pigtails, while her light green eyes stare doll-like from beneath overgrown bangs. She stands in pajamas; her fluorescent pink pants reaching down to mid-calf, with her favorite plush slippers still on her feet. Her shoulders are slack, along with her posture - both are telling signs of the state of mind that she’s sunken into…

   Mayor Goldstein shifts back and forth on his feet, showing a sense of unease. He silently critiques, There’s even a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose. The silent form certainly resembles my daughter, but this just couldn’t be!

…From behind, Kiyar offers a cryptic compliment. “Hanna is quite lovely, isn’t she?”

   The mayor’s heart immediately softens with the confirmation. The father just stares - his very sense of reason now clashing with what his own eyes are clearly seeing…  

   Kiyar continues, “…'Our' Hanna’s pretty little mind is in an “altered state” right now. But I can promise you that someday soon, she will know the privilege of marching in stride amongst her fellow sisters…”

   The mayor continues to study his daughter, tears welling up in his fluttering eyes. The mere sight of his Hanna- somehow ensnared in this catatonic state- was enough to push him over the edge. Goldstein suddenly breaks down. He staggers to the left and then to the right, before dropping to the floor upon his knees. Now weeping loudly, the man cries out, “Why?  …Oh dear God, why?”

   A hellish voice expels from Kiyar’s throat, immediately blasting his sobbing captive. “Get a hold of yourself, fool!  …You’ve been given the opportunity to save them, now use it!”

   The guards begin to drag the man across the factory floor for a few feet. They slowly draw the trembling human up to the tips of his shoes, but he wavers forward and bumps into the next cocoon. The plastic enclosure wobbles about on its framework, along with the victim inside…

   The mayor glances up just in time to see his missing babysitter - April Summers - wavering about and staring back at him from inside.

   “Oh God noooo!  …Not you too!” 

   Growing impatient with all the sobbing, Kiyar goes on to order, “Take him back to his cell so he can digest what he’s just seen!”

   The goons nod their heads and violently yank the man up beneath his armpits. They drag him off - kicking and screaming- in the opposite direction.

   Kiyar reaches out to grasp two of the lanyards and carefully steadies the swaying cocoon. Once it comes to a complete stop, he gently releases the enclosure. The captain casually looks inside at the cute brunette who stares back at him in a trance-like state.

   The alien pauses in thought, trying to recall a saying that he once read in one of the human dialog manuals. After a moment, the expression finally dawns on him, and he cracks an immoral smile…

- Oh yes: …So many women, so little time…

   As Kiyar turns to walk back to his quarters, his earpieces beep to indicate incoming information. The mental telepathy of Professor Vilani - the Orion’s head of processing, soon resonates within the captain’s ears…

   - Captain, I’m afraid I have some bad news.

   - What is it, professor?

   - We were draining the memory banks of this latest batch of captives. - There was this police woman that was captured at the scene. After deep conditioning, she revealed that she had spoken to the sheriff on her radio, in the middle of some local dinner.  …There may have been witnesses…

   Kiyar’s expression quickly morphs into one of concern. The captain then mentally projects  - Cripes, this is all I need!  …Did she say how many?

   - She described a young waitress and the restaurant owners in vivid detail. There were also some local regulars.

   Kiyar’s eyes dart back and forth in panic. He had some damage control to take care of and fast! - Alright professor, I’ll send two of my human converts over at once. Give them the details and they’ll return to the scene to “tie-up any loose ends.”  …We can’t afford to risk even the slightest possibility of exposure!

   - Aye, captain!

 ________________

An after-hours visit to the diner…

   It’s just past 10 pm, and it’s been a very long day for the staff at Rhonda’s. Friday evenings are the only night throughout the entire week that the diner remains open past three. And although they mostly cater to the breakfast crowd, its Rhonda’s homemade coleslaw and Mel’s legendary battered fish that always brings the locals in from miles around. In the little ole town of Rossville, the “Friday night fish fry” was nearly as important a social event, as meeting at the church on Sunday morning.

   Even Rhonda’s niece Cassandra ended up working a double. The nineteen-year-old found her Friday night plans thwarted, when her second shift relief called in sick for work. Now exhausted and sweaty, the young woman wants nothing more than to go home and take a long hot bath…

   “Ok you guys, I guess I’ll see you Monday morning.”

   The sore young woman politely smiles at yet another “thank you honey!” from her appreciative aunt, before pulling the door closed behind her.

   Cassie cautiously scans the gravel parking lot as she walks towards her car. She had always been just a little nervous when walking out at night by herself.

- Isn’t it funny how the parking lot seems just a little bit darker at this late an hour?

   The young woman laughs at herself for thinking up such a foolish thought. - Parking lots empty, girl . . . Aint nobody out here but you!

   As Cassie digs through her purse for her keys, she thinks about the weekend ahead. She has the next two days off and is planning to enjoy it.  - The summer is drawing to a close, so maybe I should lie out in my bikini for one last time this season. Or maybe I could go to the mall to get some shopping done.  …Gosh, there’s sooo many possibilities!

   As the waitress reaches for the lock on her door, she thinks she hears a rustling sound from within the nearby overgrowth. The startled woman looks up with alarm.

“Is somebody there?”

   Cassandra’s eyes scan the darkness near the brush, but she sees nothing. After a pensive moment, the young woman reverts her attention back to the door lock.

- I could’ve sworn I’d heard something. Must’ve been the wind.

   Cassie finally manages to open her car door and gets inside. The waitress tosses her purse carelessly at the passenger seat, before inserting the ignition key. Just as her car fires to life, the young woman does a quick double take on the passenger seat. She cautiously pulls her purse away from the seatback to find an egg-like object lying beneath. The curious item is metallic silver in color and slightly larger than a golf ball in size. At the top of the object is a latch mechanism with a small blinking light. That light is currently blinking green…

   The waitress immediately questions, “What in the heck?”

…Cassandra reaches for the mysterious item out of pure curiosity and then-

* KA-CHOOF!

- A brilliant explosion of light suddenly fills the car’s interior!

   Cassandra’s instant reaction is to scream, but her jaw immediately tightens. There’s a sudden feeling of paralysis that’s overtaking her body. The sensation tightens every muscle and nerve ending that she has - shutting them down like a janitor flips off the overhead lights at the end of a work day. The young woman’s mind begins to swirl in an unfamiliar pattern, and her senses turn to mush. And as her white-washed vision turns to darkness, she hears an unfamiliar voice speak out in the distance…

- “This one is completely fried.  …Let’s go take care of the others.”

…The car door closes a second later, and two sets of feet walk off across the gravel parking lot. Cassandra is left behind; all alone in the dark and still frozen in place within her car seat.

 

Unexpected guests…

   Inside Rhonda’s dinner, the owner and her husband are closing up. It’s been an awfully long day for the couple, and they’re both looking forward to calling it a night.

   Rhonda has already closed out the register, and is recounting the bills in her office in the back.

   Mel is out front and cleaning up the dinning area. He’s in the process of dipping his mop into a soap-filled slop bucket, when the front door swings open behind him. The familiar jingle of the overhead bells indicates an unexpected customer. The startled cook turns around to see two strange men with wrap around shades and wearing ‘Trademark’ security uniforms…

   “I’m sorry guys, but we’re closed for the evening.”

   One of the men inquires in a rather unusual sounding voice, “Is there a Rhonda Simpleton in here?”

   Mel furrows an eyebrow in curiosity, but continues with his mopping. “Yeah, sure she is. Why do you ask?”  

…The cook fails to notice the second man withdrawing a weapon from behind his back.

CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE!

   Back in the office, Rhonda notices several brilliant flashes in her peripheral vision. She looks up from the fanned out bills within her hands and thinks - What in the hell was that?

   “Mel, is everything ok out there?”

…Her husband doesn’t answer.

   “Was that a bulb that just burst or what?”

…Still no response.

   The quick thinking owner swipes the remaining bills off of her desk and forces everything into a leather bank pouch. She slides the bottom door of her desk open and deposit’s the pouch inside. That drawer slams closed and the one above it is immediately yanked open. A loaded .38 pistol is withdrawn from inside...

   Rhonda questions once again, “Honey, are you alright?”

…The worried owner gets up from her desk and cocks the trigger on her weapon. With her back pressed to the wall and her pistol raised just above her shoulder, Rhonda quietly sneaks through the kitchen area. When she reaches the dining area, she’s quite surprised to find her husband standing above his slop bucket, with his mop still gripped within his hands…

   Rhonda expels a sigh of relief and lowers her weapon. “Jesus H. Christ, Mel!  …I thought we were getting robbed!”

   The woman barely manages to get out the statement, when a second series of bursts illuminate the room!

CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE - CHOOVE! 

   This sudden explosion of radiant light not only manages to brighten the entire dining area, but soon blinds the business owner as well. Within just seconds, the constant stream of light-energy suspends Rhonda in place!

   The two attackers slowly approach their suspended target. It isn’t until one of them waves a hand through the woman’s locked line of vision, that the other lowers his weapon…

    “She’s done,” confirms one of the security guards.

   “Excellent!” exclaims the other. “Let’s get these two loaded up in the van and send them in for conditioning. We need to have them back in place before they are to open up in the morning.”

   The other guard questions, “And the cute one out in the parking lot?”

   “Yes, she’s going too. But I believe they’ll have other plans for her. Now let’s get them all loaded up…”

   The pair work quickly together, and have all three of their victims loaded up in their van within minutes. With the lights turned off and the business now closed, no passer-by’s would be suspicious of any wrong doing. And in the morning, when Rhonda and Mel would eventually be returned, they would reopen their business with a brand-new mindset…  

* * * * * *

 

To be CONTINUED… during A Visit with the Queen


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