Professor Stephen Ersinghaus
Creative Writing W 6:30 – 9:20
March 1, 2011
Word Count: 8,411
Although I‟ve never been the type of man to keep a journal, I feel the need to write one
now. I lay in wait for the slow death crawling up the mountainside, what comes to destroy not
only me, but also the three hundred frightened men and women I am surrounded by. We came
here to hide in the crumbling ruins of an abandoned silver mine tracing a depleted vein in the
northern Colorado Rockies. We hide despite the fact that, worldwide, all who have encountered
the creatures I see in the distance have been killed. We hide because it is our only choice. The
creatures are coming from all possible directions, destroying whatever lies in their paths. They
move slowly as they pound their way across the countryside, but their gargantuan size makes up
for their deliberate unhurriedness, making their methodical approach wincingly rapid. My mouth
is dry, my hands tremble as I write, and there is no hope for any of us holed up in this
treacherous old mine, no hope for anybody on Earth, so why do I bother? The answer is painfully
simple: Writing will pass the time until I am dead. It‟s why I brought this notebook up here with
me in the first place.
The creatures, now known as Terrana, arrived on our planet three days ago. I was sitting
in a barbershop on Blakeslee Street in Lander‟s Point – a smallish Coloradoan burg built in a
little valley nestled between two stunted branches of the Rocky Mountains several miles north of
my own hometown of Boulder. Lander‟s Point was a modestly prosperous silver and gold
mining town named after Ephraim Lander when he discovered the cache of minerals buried
within the nearby mountains there in 1864. It was a balmy Saturday morning, mid April dazzled
brightly through the front windows, and a radio was playing at a barely audible volume. Led
Zeppelin‟s Black Dog rolled lowly from the barber‟s dusty boom box while the mixed scents of
aftershave and hair tonic danced in the shop‟s warm air. The barber, a longtime client of mine
named Dan, was clipping the mousy-brown locks that had curled down over my ears since my
last visit. He was talking to me, the type of rambling chatter only barbers and dentists seem to
have an endless well of, but I could not make out all of his words over the snip-snipping of his
steel shears. I had fallen into a series of polite nods and disconnected “uh-huhs” while my mind
turned over the afternoon workload I had ahead of me over at his place. (If you wish to remain a
moderately successful landscaper, there is no such thing as Saturday afternoons off.) Being
immersed in thoughts of overgrown lawns and untrimmed hedges, I did not notice when the rest
of the men in the shop suddenly fell quiet – but I did become aware of the abrupt silence once
Dan stop his cutting. The only sound to be heard was the smallish voice of the radio disc jockey,
excitedly telling us the first bits of what turned out to be the most terrifying three days to follow.
The DJ‟s usually cool radio persona had been cast aside to reveal a nervous man full of an
uncomfortably manic animation, and he flubbed his improvised words as a result. The guy only
talked for another minute, and became increasingly shriller with every word.
“-synchronized reports from around the globe. It seems there is something happening
over the, um, in at, in the space just beyond our moon. Astronomers around the world, beginning
amateurs and expense - exPERTS - alike have been claiming that a massive asteroid roughly the
size of, uh, they’re saying an asteroid the size of Africa, has suddenly appeared from seemingly
out of nowhere and is on a direct collision course with the Earth. It’s moving at a rate of speed
that makes impact supposedly within the next six hours. As hard as this is the believe, ladies and
gentlemen, you’d better freaking believe it because it’s apparently true and can be confirmed by
numerous pictures splashed across the internet, or if you’re still skeptical, the use of a mere
common telescope, the cheap kind we all had as kids – Jesus! We’re going to FUCKING DIE!”
The radio fell nearly silent just then, save for the sounds of slamming doors, muffled screams,
and the low rumble of contiguous chaos as the station‟s workers fled.
And as quick as that, it began.
Those of us in Dan‟s Barbershop simply stared at one another. Six men, plus Dan
himself, and nobody spoke for better than thirty seconds. Then absolute panic, and all the death
and destruction that goes with it, broke out in the streets of the world.
Planet wide, numerous peoples of every type fell to their knees and prayed. Two of the
men in Dan‟s shop did just that. I didn‟t, and neither did Dan. He just simply left the place
without a word, breaking into a run once out on the sidewalk. I haven‟t seen him since.
Those who did not pray instead sprang into actions of all sorts. For every soul I‟ve met
that survived the first few hours after the initial news of the asteroid spread, I‟ve heard another
wild story. There were people that simply ran around crazily, screaming in an uncontrollable
terror that had overridden all their other senses. Many died as a result by blindly leaping from
high places, in front of moving vehicles, or even, in at least one case, out a window and onto city
power lines. Millions of others committed suicide deliberately, with guns, knives, poisons, or
methods far more creative than any of those. Some carried out their deepest fantasies without any
further thought to the crushing death that certainly lay ahead – everything from running naked in
the streets to shooting their spouse through the face – and of these folks only a few later admitted
regret to me for whatever it was they had done. And then there were a number of people, those
more like myself I suppose, who put their brains to work at trying to stay calm until our time of
dying arrived. I didn‟t want to die at all, but I‟d rather it be at the very last moment, the exact
instant the asteroid hit the Earth, than from any other needless source. I wanted every single
second, but from where I now sit, I almost wish I had just cut loose and drugged myself to death.
Wash down a fistful of Xanax with a pint of Goldschläger. It would have been quicker than this
wait, even if it meant choking on my own cinnamon-hot vomit.
But I didn‟t kill myself. I, and millions of others, endured; temporarily, anyway. We lived
through humanity‟s final breath of chaos long enough to discover that the asteroid wasn‟t all it
was cracked up to be. Or maybe it was, depending on how you looked at it.
After the two prayerful men on their knees in Dan‟s shop had finished their mutterings to
their Gods, they both fled from the building, the latter of the two joining in with the mindless,
panicked screamers already flooding the street outside. Of the other three patrons in the room,
another two left without speaking. I stayed put, and so did an elderly gentleman I had seen in this
barbershop once or twice before. I thought his name was Earl, and I asked him so now, but the
old fellow never even looked in my direction. He was sitting back in one of the waiting seats
lined up against a mirrored wall with his eyes closed, as if in deep thought. I stood from the
barber chair and took off the thin bib covering Dan had strapped around my neck. Despite the
fact that my delicate motions made noise in the still of the shop, Earl still didn‟t look at me, or
even stir at my approach. I went to him and waved my hand before his face to create a light
breeze. His eyes did not move. Naively hoping he had perhaps fainted, I put a hand on his
shoulder to shake him, but Earl simply slumped low and then slid from the red faux-leather seat.
His white-haired head made a dull thud when it hit the tiled floor and his black horn-rimmed
glasses twisted askew on his expressionless wrinkled face. I knew for sure then that Earl was
dead. Likely, his heart had stopped due to the sudden rush of excitement. Or perhaps it had been
the strain of unadulterated terror. However it happened, I did not care. I checked his pulse to be
certain, then took the apron still clutched in my other hand and covered the old-timer with it.
When this was done, I went back to my chair to safely wait fate out.
About three hours later, I noticed the streets outside had gradually fallen unnaturally
quiet, quite the contrast after the rampantly insane noise that had just been filling the sunny air.
Noon had come and gone seventy minutes before. I gave it another hour before bidding poor Earl
– if that was his name – a farewell and venturing out of Dan‟s Barbershop.
From within those walls, I had been afforded a small glimpse of the destruction the
residents of Lander‟s Point had wrought upon their town by means of the plate glass windows at
the front of Dan‟s shop, but what I had seen from my limited view was nothing compared to the
ruins I found waiting for me outside.
The first thing I noticed was the fires; from where I stood, seven of the buildings along
Blakeslee Street were burning, including St. Thomas‟ Catholic Church five blocks down. Black
smoke billowed wildly across the otherwise empty sky, almost masking the heavens from sight.
The streets were a tattered ruin. Garbage and debris of all sorts littered the tar and sidewalks.
There seemed to be bits of shattered glass everywhere. There were more than two-dozen dead
bodies strewn about in various crumpled positions; most were bleeding, some were broken open.
Numerous vehicles had been smashed in and turned over. My own truck, with a topless trailer
full of landscaping equipment, was nowhere to be seen at first, but a second or two later, I
spotted it up the road. The forest green pickup had been rammed through the front doors of a
small grocery market several blocks to the north, one block before the burning church. Only my
red trailer was visible, the vehicle itself had been buried in rubble when it crashed through the
wooden front of the building. Most of my tools and mower machines lay askew in the street,
creating a short path back to where I had parked it curbside before going into Dan‟s Barbershop
that morning. Somewhere off in the distance there was an awful explosion strong enough to
tremble the ground beneath my feet. I dropped to my knees for a moment in an automatic,
reflexive reaction at the sound of the thunderclap-like boom that ricocheted off the stone
buildings of downtown Lander‟s Point. There came a second explosion, this one close enough to
shatter windows up and down the road and leave my ears ringing. Deciding to flee in the
opposite direction of the wretched sounds, I quickly took to my feet, and headed down the ruined
road. I hooked my first right onto Hunter‟s Court and was surprised to see a group of people
actively collecting in front of Murray‟s Electronics Emporium. Murray‟s had not escaped the last
few hours unscathed; like the market, the front of this building - from top to bottom - had been
smashed in by a massive yellow garbage hauler. The can-lifting mechanism on the passenger
side of the hauler‟s huge box had been torn from the rest of the vehicle during impact and a large
section of riveted paneling had gone with it. Sopping trash collected that morning had spilled out
into the ruins of the storefront and the hot stench in the air was wetly choking. I had to force my
stomach to hold in my breakfast. Many of the folks in the crowd had pulled their shirts up over
their noses in a futile attempt at blocking out the horrific odor, but I did not. Instead, I
approached the group to discover they were all staring deep into the ruined storefront at a bank
of big screen televisions playing loudly within. What I at first had taken to be a crowd of fifty
turned out to be over triple that including those actually standing inside Murray‟s. The parking
lot spanning before the partially crushed building was littered with destroyed vehicles - windows
had been smashed in, doors torn off, cars turned over – but I suddenly realized that more and
more people had started filing in behind me, weaving between the wreckage as the crowd grew.
Nobody spoke, not the television watchers, or any of the others approaching, myself included.
When I got close enough, the images on the screens came into view and I could hear the
telecaster‟s voice carry over the heads of the silent masses around me. The televisions showed
footage of the imminent asteroid, now visible to the naked eye in the evening skies over some
part of the world I later found out to be all of Europe, and most of Africa.
“-what we know. What we don’t know is why. Astronomers are baffled at this new
development. As you can see, there has been no motion from the asteroid, now known around the
globe as Terra, in over an hour. Government reports worldwide have offered neither explanation
nor theory as to what is -“
I felt gray and lost, not quite understanding what the reporter‟s voice was trying to tell us.
I decided to get closer to the front of the mob to see if anybody that had been here longer had
heard the beginning of the report. Focusing on the tallest person before me, a balding middle
aged man in a navy blue wind breaker bearing the emblem of the Lander‟s Point B.P.O.E. on the
back, I moved in. Weaving in between the others to make my way forward was easy; most were
in a mild trance, unwilling to take their eyes from the ghostly image of the massive rock
hovering in the sky long enough to care that I was cutting in front of them. Some even politely
stepped aside to let me through, an unconscious move on their part, as though I were casually
passing by them in a store. Which I technically was, I guess.
Getting a little further into the Emporium, I noticed how loud the televisions had been
turned up to, and realized that when I actually reached the tall man in the blue coat I likely
wouldn‟t hear a word of what he said over the noise of the broadcast. I stopped where I was and
tapped a short, heavyset young woman who stood before me without much thought to selection.
She turned an impatient face to mine; her chubby cheeks were flushed red, lips quivering, eyes
mistrustful and angry.
“What?” she asked, rather snootily.
“What‟s going on here?” I asked, not realizing the broad scope of my question.
“What are you, stupid? A freaking asteroid bigger than a continent is about to-“
“No,” I said, putting up my hand. I pointed to the televisions. “Them! What the hell are
they talking about?”
“Oh!” she said, seeming somewhat surprised that that was what I was asking about. Her
hostility subsided, but only a bare smidge. She answered my question. “The asteroid stopped
moving, all at once. It hasn‟t come any closer in over an hour.”
“What do you mean, „stopped‟?”
“Just what I said!” she flashed, the anger returning to her eyes all at once. “Jesus, maybe
you are stupid!” The woman turned her back to me and resumed staring at the images of the
mysteriously halted asteroid playing on the televisions. The newscaster droned on. I didn‟t
bother to listen any further just then. My head was still spinning with gray fear and confusion
and I needed to get out of this crowd, fast. I turned to go, but instead found myself face to face
with a younger man, about twenty-five or so. The guy was wearing a Slayer t-shirt, a foot‟s
length of sandy blond hair, and a frown.
“Hey mister, forget that bitch,” he said in a strangely relaxed tone. “She‟s been that way
since high school,” He suddenly stuck his hand out to me. “Name‟s Jeff.” It seemed an odd
thing, a gesture so common as a casual introduction in the midst of such dire circumstances, but I
took his hand nonetheless.
“Sean,” I said.
“Well, Sean,” he said, “What do you make of this?”
“I don‟t know,” I replied honestly. “I‟m not sure I even fully understand what‟s
happening on the television right now.”
“It‟s simple,” replied Jeff, without condescension. His calm eyes settled on mine. “That
asteroid ain‟t an asteroid at all. At least, not a regular one.”
“Because it suddenly stopped? Is that what it did?”
“Yeah, deliberately, like it was being controlled.” He paused here for a moment, leaned
in close enough for me to smell the wad of spearmint gum lurking somewhere in his mouth, and
then whispered in a barely audible voice, “You know what that means, right?” I said I didn‟t.
Now, impatience flashed across his face, but it was mild and without direct anger - unlike the
woman. “It means there‟s probably something alive aboard that asteroid they keep calling Terra.
I think it means invasion!”
I meant to scoff at him, even hitched in breath to do so, but swiftly thought better of it. As
impossible as the cliché idea of a science-fiction-style alien invasion may have been when I had
awakened that morning, the suggestion was not nearly as absurd as I would have thought before
now. After all, a massive asteroid should be burning its way through our atmosphere at this
moment, yet it was obviously holding itself back, maintaining a steady orbit for over an hour. As
I heard or read somewhere once, “control denotes intelligence.” This flashed through my mind
quickly, and before my snicker of dismissal had slipped from my lips, a question got in its way.
“Have they been saying this on the television?” I asked. “That it‟s an invasion?” Jeff
shook his head solemnly, his gaze never leaving mine.
“Nope, but that don‟t mean I‟m wrong. Think about it –“
“I have,” I interrupted. “And I don‟t know what it means.”
“Hey,” came a new voice from my right. A slender woman, about thirty or so, was
leaning in to hear what we said. She was so close, in fact, that she had almost poked her head
right in between Jeff and me. Her green eyes were touched heavily by fear, and they carried the
puffy redness of many panicked tears loosed in the last few hours. Her words trembled slightly
when she spoke. “You think it‟s something alive up there?”
“I do,” said Jeff and turned his attentions to her. Immediate acceptance rolled across the
young woman‟s face as he quickly and coolly laid out his reasoning. By the time he was done,
three more people around had begun listening intently, and from there the conversation spread
until it was the talk of the small circle forming around Jeff, in which I was smack dab in the
center of. Their words melted together into incompressible rabble babble, but here and there I
was able to make out some of what they were saying – everything from the absurd to the
“-don’t care about that. If it’s intelligent, what does it want?”
“-couldn’t be that bad then, maybe they want to make friends, maybe-”
“ -enslaved and we’ll be forced to mine our own planet-”
“-army of little flying gunships with lasers will round us-”
“-probably not humanoid, could be-”
“-alien technology could save humanity if-”
After a minute or two of this, during which I fell into that confused grayness again, Jeff
suddenly quieted everyone in our circle by raising his hand up. Since he was the first one to
suggest aliens, most of the crowd around us stopped and listened to what he had to say, as if he
had some sudden authority on the subject.
“I don‟t know if it‟s really aliens up there, or some other kind of unexplained natural
force holding the asteroid back, but if it is an invasion, well….” He trailed off to see if anybody
would catch on to where he was trying to lead them. Nobody said a word. He nodded his head,
like he was counting to ten, and then continued. “If it‟s what we think it is, maybe we could
survive if we fought them off. My dad‟s a bit of a gun enthusiast and keeps a somewhat large
arsenal out at his farm on High Ridge Road, off Highway Six. I propose we get out of the stink
of this garbage and head there. The more people we get to come, the better off we‟ll be.”
“But how will we know what‟s going on?” asked that first woman who had jumped in
between Jeff and I. “What if Terra starts moving again? How will we know?” Jeff, I think
unintentionally rolled his eyes and sighed. A strange, tired whiff of confidence had landed on his
face in the last few moments, and he was doing his best to be patient with people I think he
assumed would just simply understand everything all at once.
“We‟re in the twenty-first century, lady. We do have televisions on the farm, even a bank
of generators to run „em if the power is down when we get there.” The woman lowered her eyes,
a little embarrassed at having not figured that out for herself. She mumbled something that I
think I only heard, since she was standing so close to me.
“Don‟t call me „lady‟. My name‟s Donna,” she said sulkily. If Jeff heard this, he ignored
her. Another man spoke up just then, and Donna stayed quiet.
“Why should we just follow you out to some farm?” It came from a burly red-haired man
with a thick booming voice. His country twang was thick and slow from beneath his mustache,
but his face said he was far quicker than he sounded.
“You‟re not following me,” countered Jeff swiftly. “You‟d be following him. Right,
Sean?” He suddenly pointed at me. Everyone turned curiously in my direction, most of them as
puzzled as I.
“What?” I asked, one eye drawn warily down.
“It‟s simple. You and I were the first two people to put together the idea of invasion. You
seem like a smart and honest fellow. If you come along, we could work together and keep one
“But nothing,” he interrupted. Jeff began to look from side to side, still somewhat
addressing me, but now talking to everybody. “If you‟ve got family, go get them. When you
come, bring batteries and flashlights and food. Bring clothes and soap. If you‟ve got your own
weapons, bring them. Bring whatever the hell you need, but come. If there‟s no invasion, and the
asteroid moves on, we all die anyway. At least we‟ll all die together. If it is an invasion, we‟re
safer armed, supplied, and in numbers.” By the time he had finished his spiel, nearly every head
in the group was nodding in agreement. Some were already breaking away to get about the
business of gathering supplies, happy to have a task – any task – to focus their attentions on.
Many more lingered about, passing the idea and plan off to others still staring at the televisions
inside Murray‟s. Jeff only waited a moment, then firmly grabbed my elbow and quickly led me
from the spot where he had sparked all these people into action. When we were clear of the store
and through the parking lot crowd, he let my arm go and turned to look directly at me.
“I‟m sorry if I put you on the spot back there, but if I stood alone, I‟m not sure anybody
would have followed me.” He spoke fast and nervously, although that strong confidence still
lingered deeply in his eyes. Jeff was also sweating so much his faded black Slayer t-shirt was
dark with moisture. “You don‟t have to come if you don‟t want to. I mean, if you‟ve got family-“
“I don‟t, at least not anywhere I could reach in the next few hours. I‟m not married or
anything.” Jeff smiled, lightly, as he realized I did not intend to argue his logical notion of
staying together until the object in the heavens revealed its intentions. “Besides,” I continued, “I
live two towns over from here and my truck got smashed into a building.
“No problem,” said Jeff. “My Grand Am is right over there, you can ride with me.” I
nodded gently as I turned it over in my head. He gave me only two seconds to think, and then
asked, “So, are you coming along?”
I said I was, and I did.
For the next fourteen hours, as more and more people in Lander‟s Point heard about the
camp forming an armed perimeter around Jeff‟s gun-nut father‟s farm, the entire world went on
pause, holding its collective breath as it stared nervously to the sky. Terra did not move.
I wasn‟t the only one to climb into Jeff‟s car. Three of the other folks from Murray‟s
parking lot climbed into the back seat: Donna, another woman I had never met named Sherry,
and the burly deep voiced fellow with the red hair whose name turned out to be Rob. When we
arrived at the farm, Jeff‟s father was not there, nor did we ever see him, but Jeff showed no sign
of concern. Over the rest of the afternoon, men, women, and children showed up on High Ridge
Road from all directions. Some walked, some drove, some rode. Tents went up all over the
fields, fires were made, and with people concentrating their energies on something constructive,
appetites flared and meals were prepared. Almost everyone brought items of essential usefulness
(food and weapons mostly, and more than a few folks donated various medical supplies), but
many arrived with nothing at all. Others brought things nobody could possibly need in a situation
like this, such as a dirty bag of feathers or a can of lilac scented Glade Air Freshener, but Jeff and
I simply shrugged good-naturedly whenever somebody would try to offer something worthless to
the community chest. We shrugged and accepted whatever was presented thankfully; nobody
needs to be made to feel like a fool on the outside, especially during such tense and terrifying
times. Jeff said those words to me when he and I first began welcoming his horde of “guests”.
Another thing many people brought were telecommunication devices - cell-phones,
radios, laptops, and televisions. One smart fellow had arrived with several fifty gallon barrels of
gasoline lashed to the bed of his pickup truck. The power had indeed been down when we started
setting up camp, but as Jeff promised, there were generators. We had two large televisions
plugged in to them; volumes were set to high, and screens pointed out the window so everyone
could see. On one played NBC, and the other was tuned in to CBS. On neither station were any
of the newscasters I had been familiar with for the last few years, but instead, a handful of no-
name reporters in street clothes dutifully tolled off the events (or lengthy lack of) over the hours
that passed. Every account was the same - no change in Terra‟s position or status. There was,
however, a change in the Earth‟s. As the day lolled on, the Earth had turned. Now, almost
fourteen hours after I first met Jeff, the asteroid was visible in the early morning sky over the
eastern American coast. All night long, folks from Maine to Florida had been posting their own
footage online in droves. Our hour of midnight came and went. About three a.m., I was standing
with Jeff and a few others in the kitchen watching an early morning NBC broadcast from atop
the GE building at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The majority of the lights in the city‟s
buildings were dark, signifying numerous power outages since the first news of the asteroid‟s
abrupt arrival. I had just begun to wonder what it would be like to see something as massive as
that dark brown cloud of rock hanging over us in the open Coloradoan sky when the first new
development came without warning and Terra suddenly exploded. The abrupt blast lit the pre-
dawn sky as though day had magically arrived all at once. The flare was bright white-blue, and
looked very hot through the screen. I winced and waited for the aftershock that would certainly
tear our planet apart to knock out the camera feeding us the footage, but it did not come. Instead,
the brightness dulled a smidge and we saw that Terra had completely broken up into thousands
of equally sized chunks. The pieces themselves were still incredibly large and quite terrifying as
they immediately began to fall into our atmosphere. Some appeared to deliberately streak across
the upper sky, headed for different locations around the globe instead of simply dropping to the
surface. The cameraman, through whose digital eye we were breathlessly watching, was
screaming “oh-my-god” over and over again, but bravely kept his camera trained. From where he
was standing on the roof of his station‟s headquarters in Manhattan, and mostly because of the
reflected light from the falling fireballs, the morning ocean could be clearly seen off in the near
distance. Dozens of the immense asteroid fragments were obviously bound to smash into it, and
they were definitely large enough to create monstrous tidal waves. Many more of the other
chunks were nearing the cameraman‟s location. The first to come close, instead of impacting as a
great ball, unexpectedly unfolded into a colossal humanoid shape (bearing a head, two arms and
two legs) no less than twelve hundred feet tall. The giant geological monstrosity landed perfectly
on its rock feet atop two identical twenty-story apartment complexes in an area near the end of
the island. Both buildings were instantly flattened beneath the creature‟s weight, reduced to
rubble in a great plume of dust and shattered glass, and every person that might have been inside
them was surely destroyed. Without hesitation, the alien monster turned to its left and smashed in
the small skyscraper standing there, and then moved in that direction punching and stomping his
way through Manhattan. Its movements were slow and methodical as it was thoroughly
destroying all that lay in its path, but the rock creature made fast progress because of its size.
Within moments, others began to land all around the reporter‟s view of the doomed city.
One by one, the falling asteroid pieces unfolded into giant humanoid beasts of living brown
stone. When each reached the ground, they landed indifferently upon whatever lay below, and
began to smash everything in sight to rubble before pounding the rubble itself into dust. It was
immediate mass destruction without so much as a warning, or even a single word, from the
creatures. We witnessed over three dozen descend upon New York City‟s Manhattan Island
alone, their lumbering heights dwarfing all but the eight or nine tallest skyscrapers across the
cityscape. Although they had arms, their hands appeared to have no fingers, only blunt,
sledgehammer-like fists that served them well as they crushed building after building. The beasts
ferociously sideswiped the middle out of the tallest skyscrapers, dropped their hammer-fists
down upon the rooftops of others, or simply stomped in the shortest structures with their
enormous rock feet. The things tore through New York City very easily, as though it‟s buildings
were made solely of wet paper. Debris dust erupted in grand circles around the bottoms of the
colossal asteroid creatures until all we could see above the thickening clouds on the television
was their featureless rock faces, brown rock torsos, and swinging rock arms of devastation.
The broadcast of New York‟s pulverization only lasted another minute or so after that,
until a woman‟s screeching voice suddenly bawled over the smashing cacophony of crumbling
concrete, the raucous tinkle of shattering glass, and the unnerving metallic dissonance of
“OH MY GOD LEIF! DROP THE FUCKING CAMERA! WE HAVE TO GET INSIDE!
LOOK!” As soon as the shrill voice had come, the unseen cameraman had focused on its source -
a wild-eyed blond girl in a red blouse and blue jeans - and then quickly followed her pointing
finger to a massive tidal wave approaching on the horizon. Its salty white crest, sparkling in the
first light of breaking dawn, was nearly as tall as the alien rock creatures. For all who witnessed
the heart-stopping images on the televisions, we saw New York‟s imminent demise shimmering
in those towering waters.
The cameraman didn‟t exactly drop the video camera, but did stop looking through it. He
ran with the machine shaking crazily in his hands, offering us onlookers a sickly twist of vertigo
as our view swung and spun while Leif followed the red blouse into the darkness of the stairwell
leading down. Several creepily tense moments passed during which we saw only dimly lit gray
walls streak by and heard nothing but low whelps of panicky breath and rapid footfalls, until the
rising rumble from the drowning outside world overwhelmed all and their entire surroundings
were swept into an oceanic oblivion. We saw a flash of water and debris when a wall of the
stairwell caved in, heard a single garbled scream, but then the camera went to black.
It had only been moments since Terra had exploded, and the mob at Jeff‟s farm remained
frozen in shocked silence. I don‟t know how many motionless minutes passed, or how many
more would have, until the silence was broken by a horrible rumbling noise in the starry purple
sky overhead. Jeff, I, and the others watching television from in the house ran outside just in time
to see hundreds of asteroid hunks streaking by, shrouded by thick clouds of black smoke and
orange fire. They moved faster than any man-made machine I had ever heard of, whistling loudly
as they passed. Each asteroid piece left behind thick orange jet streams that soon filled the air
until the view of the stars was completely choked out. Some were still flying much higher than
others, while the lower ones moved slower, obviously descending towards their respective
targets. None landed near us at that time, and after several minutes, the whistling and the deep
rumbling subsided until we were all standing with our necks craned in utter silence. Gradually,
folks began to break the stillness with wailed cries of confusion and terror. During the next few
minutes, our mob came very close to a collective madness. Not me, or Jeff, though. I went gray
again; numbness washed over my brain, but Jeff kept his cool.
“HEY! Calm down everybody!” He had to yell several times to be heard over the rising
din of the panicked. The sweaty Slayer shirt had been exchanged for a clean Iron Maiden one
now, and a zombie-creature crawling forth from a grave rippled and folded on his chest as he
waved his arms over his head. He kept calling out, louder and louder, and eventually the crowd
quieted a little and let him speak.
“Don‟t start going crazy just yet! We‟re still safe for the moment! Let‟s try and figure out
what reports come out of the areas those things are landing at!” People immediately started
nodding in agreement, just like they did for Jeff at Murray‟s. “Anybody got an internet
connection here?” Three hands went up from the group. “Good. You get your laptops and meet
me in my kitchen. As for everyone else, remember, most of you are carrying loaded firearms.
Remain CALM, lest somebody accidentally gets shot!” Without leaving room to argue, he
hurriedly stormed off towards the house again. I followed, but somewhere between the yard and
the farmhouse‟s back door, exhaustion and terror finally overcame my brain, and I fainted.
When I awoke, I found myself in a room of Jeff‟s house I had not yet seen, and lying in a
bed with Donna clinging to me as if we had just spent the night in love‟s embrace. She was
pretty enough now that she was sleeping and her face lacked the tense terror of the last day, and I
found myself mildly aroused by the notion of end-of-the-world sex with this woman, but as soon
as the memory of New York‟s annihilation flooded back into my brain, all thoughts of such
behaviors died. As gently as I could, I slid out from Donna‟s arms and exited the room.
I entered into a hallway on the second floor. There were two stairwells, one to my left
and the other right. I went left and descended into the kitchen. There was a clock in the shape of
an apple above the sink, and it read four o‟clock. I had been asleep for thirteen hours. Jeff was
sitting at the table where we had been watching television, but the small 19” Magnavox was
gone and several laptop computers had taken its place. When I entered the room, one of the
laptop users signaled Jeff that I was awake, and he immediately rose from his chair to greet me.
“Feeling any better, Sean?” His tone held a note of genuine concern. I did not know why,
but this man, who until yesterday had never laid eyes upon my face before, was strangely
concerned for me. He had said he needed my help to “lead” these people, but neither of us had
done any leading really, other than collecting goods and watching TV. And some leader I turned
out to be, fainting like I had at the first reports confirming invasion.
“Yeah,” I responded. “My head‟s fuzzy from too much sleep, but I feel alright. What‟s
“Come see for yourself. Elliot, scoot over and let him squeeze in there.” A young man
about Jeff‟s age stood up from his spot before the laptop at the end of the table and moved his
seat. Jeff thrust a chair next to it and I sat down.
While I had been in the throes of exhaustion, Jeff had only slept two hours. The rest of
the time was spent helping the people with the Internet connections root out and save any footage
of the gargantuan creatures that others around the globe had been posting. Jeff had set aside a
particular selection of these for me, and Elliot began to play them, somewhat in order.
Although NBC never came back on the air, CBS had continued broadcasting until one
o‟clock that afternoon even making spotty “official” reports in which certain facts and attempts
at stopping the aliens‟ reign of destruction were revealed, and then all telecommunications went
suddenly dark. It was during this time that some genius somewhere dubbed the invaders Terrana.
Several details had been learned about our unwelcomed assailants in the first couple of
hours. They had fallen in great numbers upon all of Earth‟s major cities, including Boulder, my
own hometown just a few miles over from Lander‟s Point. Hundreds fell into the world‟s oceans,
creating massive tidal waves like the one we saw overtake New York on nearly every coast.
Bullets and missiles, save for the nuclear type (which came a little later), had absolutely no effect
in even slowing a single Terrana down, let alone destroying one. The alien rock monsters
sustained no discernible damage, and in fact completely ignored the scores of planes in the skies
frantically firing their guns. The Terrana showed no outward signs of mechanics or electronics.
Even their joints appeared to be crafted from dark brown stone.
But, as one video clip showed, they did emit a peculiar exhaust army scientists were able
to detect from afar, but were baffled in their attempts to define. Although they were not able to
identify the properties of the gasses, they quickly learned of the radioactive effect it held on the
dust when trying to collect a sample: As the creatures smashed buildings to rubble and rubble to
dust, their exhaust acidified the dirt particles of the clouds of remains, impregnating them with a
dry, caustic alien substance that ate away at everything it touched. The scientists who had vainly
hoped that the gasses would be combustible, therefore making it possible to somehow explode
one of the creatures, were melted alive when the wind brought the first clouds over them. The
deadly dust settled on their skin and ate right through their bodies in mere seconds. The footage
of these screaming, dissolving men almost made me wretch up sour stomach contents, but then
the acidic atmosphere blessedly overcame the camera and the video stopped.
By the time nine a.m. (Coloradoan time) had come, all the major cities had been
destroyed. Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, London, Washington, L.A. – all these, and all the like, were
now either drowned or smashed to nothing but a cloud of poisoned dust. The Terrana began to
leave the urban circles and branch outward. The monsters made sweeping lines in methodical
corn-cobbing patterns, reaping their devastation back and forth across the countryside to ensure
that not even the smallest trace of humanity escaped. I watched a video of a Terrana smashing
the faces of the Presidents carved into Mount Rushmore. There was helicopter footage of rock
creatures walking calmly through forests as though on a Sunday stroll (crushing trees with every
step, but not deliberately destroying them), only to stop at every sign of human life or settlement
and smash the ground until the entire area was coated in acidified dust and nothing remained but
a poisoned ruin. And, there was a rumor mentioned in several reports that rock creatures had
even landed on both polar caps, destroying all research outposts and the scientists that ran them.
These specifics told us it was obvious the Terrana were where here to clean out every last trace
of human existence, like wiping up a fingerprint at a crime scene.
Nothing in the alien rock creatures‟ paths survived - not structure, nor person.
About three hours before telecommunications went down, one hell of a final attempt was
made at damaging or stopping one of the Terrana that had destroyed Las Vegas. The creature had
broken away from the perimeter of the city and was headed for Nellis Air Force Base, where the
Nevada Testing Site stretched out into the desert beyond. Some of America‟s top leaders were
holed up there, at first thinking some of the base‟s bunkers would be safe. However, theyknew
by the time one of the Terrana was headed their way that there was no hope. Although they had
stopped testing nuclear explosions in that patch of desert some time ago, there was still a grand
stockpile of older weapons that were being studied for degradation. The personnel at the base
spent their time arming as many warheads as they could, and when the first Terrana was
smashing the buildings overhead, they managed to launch a single missile into the air and then
simultaneously detonated the rest. There was no video of the explosion. There was only a
reporter explaining that they had heard it broadcast over a radio that the army had been using to
communicate with what little media still functioned. However, they did have footage of that
The nuclear explosion occurred sometime around ten o‟clock that morning, and
consumed many square miles of terrain. Two hours later, a teenager with a wireless Internet
connection was filming the area from which the detonation had occurred and was streaming it
live. From an enormous plume of radioactive dust came forth the creature, intact and unaffected
by the blast save for one awful detail: the nuclear reaction had increased the alien monster‟s
external temperature immeasurably. Its dark brown rock figure glowed bright white now, and it
no longer needed to swing its hammer-like fists to destroy what lay in its path; the incredible
nuclear heat wafting off its irradiated body melted everything – cars, buildings, people, trees -
within a hundred yards of its lumbering body. Our Army‟s last-ditch effort at destroying one of
the alien invaders had only succeeded in making the colossal Terrana far quicker at the task of
obliteration than it had been before. The video ended before the creature‟s heated effect reached
After that, I couldn‟t watch anymore and stood from my chair. There was a pack of
menthol cigarettes on the table, and although I had quit smoking three years ago, I took one and
went outside without speaking to anybody in the kitchen. Jeff followed. Once clear of the house,
he offered me a light. I dragged deeply, and relished the feeling of smoke in my lungs, despite
the light burning it brought with it.
“We‟re all going to die, Jeff,” I said plainly. There was very little emotion in my voice.
“That‟s true,” he agreed. “But what are we going to do until then?”
“I don‟t understand.”
“Well, I don‟t want to just sit here in wait till the Terrana get tired of Boulder and head
our way. I think-“
“But there is no escaping this, man,” I interrupted. “There is no running.”
“There is if you want every last second,” he countered, and my face flushed hot for a
moment as I remembered that was the reason I had opted to stay inside Dan‟s Barbershop in the
beginning. So I could live as long as possible.
“Well then, what do you suggest?” He smiled a smile that said he had been hoping I
“I think we should try hiding in some of the old mines peppering those mountains.” He
cocked his thumb over his shoulder towards the stunted outskirts of the Rockies without looking
in that direction. “I know a few, not too hard to climb to, but it‟s as far as we can get – unless
you‟ve got enough rope and climbing equipment to get all these people up higher.”
I said I didn‟t, agreed we should flee to the mountains, and then asked when he thought
we should leave.
“Tomorrow morning. There are enough vehicles here where I think everyone that wants
to come will get a ride to the point we‟ll have to hike from.”
“Why wouldn‟t anybody want to come?” I asked.
“Some people may not care about that last second, Sean.”
And he was right. That night, after dark, the farmyard outside the house fell very still and
quiet, the silence only interrupted by the occasional gunshots as numerous folks took their own
lives. Many more were found dead by gentler means when dawn rose. I slept, but very little. This
time, I shared a bed with Donna by choice, and while we lay there, she kissed me. I kissed her
back, but did not advance any further. She seemed satisfied anyway and slept with her face
buried in my chest. The woman wept in her sleep, and it forced tears to brim in my own eyes.
In the morning, a small group of men and women circled the grounds and helped move
the bodies of the deceased out of sight and into a moderately populated pile behind Jeff‟s barn. I
noticed without much feeling that fellow Rob, with the red hair and burly voice, was carted off
amongst the dead. When all was said and done, about one hundred suicides had occurred, and
roughly three hundred folks from Lander‟s Point opted for the run to the mines. We knew there
wasn‟t much need for preparations. The Terrana could be smashing their way into the valley at
any time, so we didn‟t really bother with too much packing. We took food and guns, and just
enough of each for what might be necessary, even if futile.
A long caravan of vehicles, led by Jeff‟s Grand Am, left the farm on High Ridge Road
and headed west into the Rockies. I rode in the back seat this time with Donna, holding her for
the entire ride. She had not said a word since waking up, and even now sits silent by my side as I
write. After a half hour of driving up winding mountain roads, we came to a dead end in the way.
Without any pronouncement, Jeff exited the car and began hiking up a hill. I noticed he had a
pistol holstered to his left side.
We reached the abandoned silver mine about an hour later, and simply collected within
its crumbling walls. Jeff, Donna, and I hung by the edge of a small cliff about twenty feet out
from the mouth of the cave. The afternoon passed by, as did the night. Donna stayed silent, and
for once, so did Jeff. There were no more suicides during this time, only the low chatter of
prayers and talk, sobs and confessions. Some people ate, many people slept. Then came dawn of
the third day, and we were afforded our first glimpse of the alien Terrana with our naked eyes.
Jeff killed himself in front of me about an hour before I started writing this account. The
moment the creatures and their anklets of dry poison clouds came into plain view, he wordlessly
slid his pistol from his hip, slipped it between his lips, and pulled the trigger. I never bothered to
wipe his blood off my face or clothes. It has been three hours since then, and the creatures are
now at the foothills of these mountains. Their acidic dust is rising with the wind, and I have only
minutes to decide whether I will brave the air that will melt my lungs just to have that last second
of life, or put a bullet through my face to escape the imminent agony.
I think I‟ll take the bullet.
February 3 – February 28, 2011