Authors: Greg Curtis
Tags: #agents, #space opera, #aliens, #visitors, #visitation, #alien arrival
This book is
dedicated to my mother Ruth Curtis and my sister Lucille Curtis, my
biggest supporters, harshest critics and all round cheer team, and
without whom this book would not have been written. It’s also
dedicated to my father Allen Curtis, gone too soon but not
It was the
silence that woke him. The nervous silence that usually meant a
predator was in the area. A wild cat or a dog. But this was no
ordinary predator. He felt it in his bones. He couldn’t really have
said exactly what was different about this silence from any other,
except for its scale. He knew it extended for miles, which was
wrong in itself. Even in the furthest distance he couldn’t hear a
bird call, a bush rustle or a cricket chirp. But it was more than
that. Much more. Somewhere, deep in his very marrow he knew the
silence just wasn’t natural. Nor was whatever was causing it.
He also knew it
was heading his way. That was why the silence had grown.
first thought was that Dimock had finally escaped from whatever
high tech prison he’d been locked up in for the last six years.
That was always his first thought, even though it had never been
the case. So far. Still it could be. His blood chilled accordingly
as he thought of what that monster would do to him and so many
others. And how lucky he’d be to survive even with all the
precautions he’d taken. But he quickly rejected it. Dimock was
never silent, and he didn’t creep. If it had been him, his opening
move would have been a rocket attack if not a nuclear missile
strike. He wouldn’t lower himself to skulk around David’s yard like
a wary thief in the dark. But that didn’t mean he was safe either.
There were plenty of others out there who would wish him harm if
they knew who he was or where he lived.
That was the
problem with having been an agent for so many years. The work
sucked, the pay was lousy and then if you were lucky enough to make
it to retirement you had to spend the rest of your life in
out from under the thick duvet, padded across the floor as silently
as he could in bare feet on bare wooden boards, and reached for the
shotgun he always kept behind the door. It was best to be ready.
You never knew when one of the local so called mountain men would
turn up drunk and start shooting up the place. There were still a
few of them around in these northern climes, and they lived up to
their alcohol soaked reputations. It wasn’t that they couldn’t
handle the booze. It was that on those few days each year when they
did make it in to town for a drink, they didn’t want to.
But even as he
grabbed it, he knew it wasn’t the silence caused by a local. The
local wildlife knew them all and they would seldom be silent for
more than a few seconds. Besides, a drunk usually made a heap of
noise. This was something different. It was the absolute silence of
the wildlife as something new and strange passed them by; like a
hunter. Something they didn’t recognize. No more did he and the
shotgun felt strangely inadequate in his hands.
he padded his way to the lounge in the dark. Despite his best
efforts his feet made slapping noises on the wooden floor and he
cursed them, hoping they couldn’t be heard outside the house. Not
that any animal would care. Once again he thought about getting
some carpet soon. Carpet muffled noise and besides, while polished
wooden floors were pretty they weren’t that warm in winter.
He reached the
front veranda and checked the sliding door, making sure it was
securely locked. Too often he’d enjoyed the peace so much out here
that he’d left it unlocked and even open at night, an invitation to
trouble even here in this wilderness paradise, though the enemy was
more likely to be raccoons then assassins. It was a serious lapse
in judgement for someone from his world, but one he hadn’t been too
hard on himself about these last few years. Maybe he should have
been. But for once the bolt was safely home. The windows were
locked and the back door was latched. He tapped the bolt softly
with relief. No one at least was inside the house and thanks to his
years of paranoia, no one was getting in either. Not without a
tank. Or super strength.
armour plated reinforced glass doors he could see the surrounding
bush and lake, and he carefully studied it, looking for any sign of
something unusual. There was nothing. But then he wasn’t sure that
there should have been. Not if whatever was coming was a true
predator. And deep down in the marrow of his bones he felt that it
looked calm. Too calm. Years of undercover work in the army, more
in the various government agencies, and still further years spent
living in the wilderness told him it was all wrong. Very wrong.
There was someone out there. Someone or something. Worse it was
someone or something he didn’t know. It was not one of his long
list of enemies who was finally coming to kill him. Nor was it any
animal he knew of. It was something else. He felt the bristles
standing up on the back of his neck.
something was out there, and the lord only knew what it was doing
while he hunkered down in his cottage bunker waiting for it to make
the first move, and that was wrong. He should have gone out and
faced it, taken it head on, even if he didn’t stand a chance if it
truly was Dimock. Still that was just his nature, and he couldn’t
give in to it. Now was the time to be smart. He waited, knowing it
was the clever thing to do. He waited and he watched, and then he
waited some more.
Ten minutes, a
half an hour passed and he saw nothing. There was nothing to see,
but he still knew it was out there. And he understood that it was
watching him even as he looked for it. He knew it even if he had no
way of explaining how he could know. He trusted his feelings. After
so many years of relying on them and of having them save his skin
repeatedly, he knew that he could.
The moon was
high but cloud covered its remaining light so that there was not
enough to see much more than the outline of the bush, especially
from inside his cabin. Regardless, he scanned the darkened forest
looking for the slightest indication of who or what might be out
there. Nothing could be seen. But even as he cursed the darkness he
realized it protected him as well. If he couldn’t see out, then
whoever was out there couldn’t see in either. Or at least in theory
not very well. But the theory was little comfort.
The back of his
neck said otherwise. He was being watched, intently.
activate the defences, he wondered? He asked himself the question a
thousand times with every heartbeat, torn between fear of an
imminent attack and the need to always stay hidden. But he stayed
his hand. His defences were for major threats. They weren’t for
whoever or whatever this was. He could handle this with his walls
and his guns. And besides, it was always possible he could end up
killing a local. That he didn’t want. So he kept his peace and
waited for whoever or whatever it was to make the first move.
For the longest
time he just stood there keeping perfectly still behind the glass
slider, trying to find his watcher, and failing. But he had
infinite patience and he wasn’t about to give up. And so it was
that an hour and then surely two hours passed without him moving a
single muscle. Until of course cramp started setting in. First his
arms holding the shotgun, then his neck and so on. He’d been
trained to deal with cramp in the army. He knew how to control his
breathing and keep his muscles limber even when he couldn’t move,
but that training could only help him for so long.
persevered as long as he could. He was determined not to give away
his hand. But in time even he had to yield or be unable to move in
the morning. He decided to make for the armchair, a more
comfortable place to stand watch from. And he knew it was going to
be a long night.
must have been some sort of signal, since it was just as he was
finally turning away that he saw it. The reflection of yellow,
glowing slightly in the weak moonlight. He froze anew, the cramp
David could see
yellow eyes glowing in the weak moonlight down by the boat shed not
more than fifty meters away. Cougar was his immediate thought.
While there hadn’t been one seen in at least thirty years it was
still the logical explanation. But even as he accepted that simple
truth he changed his mind. There was something wrong with the eyes.
It was their shape. They were too round, too small and they faced
him directly. The head, a shadowy mass in which the eyes glowed,
was too round. And it was nowhere near the bush where it should be.
Instead it was out in the open near the water, watching him.
knowing that somehow, even inside a darkened building, the creature
saw him. More than that, it studied him. It was examining him like
a soldier watching his enemies, or a scientist studying his
subjects. There was some terrible intelligence in its eyes.
Predatory. This was more than an animal. He grasped the gun more
tightly and returned the stare.
eyes lifted, as the creature stood up. Going from a four footed
prowl to a two legged stance as it searched the area, and sending
his thoughts into a sudden tailspin.
It couldn’t do
fact just kept running around and around in his brain. No animal
could do that, not even a bear. But it had. There was nothing for
it to put its front feet on, the ground between them was perfectly
flat, and even if there had been something out there it hadn’t
climbed up on anything. It had just stood up. It couldn’t possibly
have done what he had just seen. But it had.
had stood up, like a man. And like a man, those eyes were rock
steady at their new height. The creature was bipedal. He almost
squeezed the trigger in shock. It was a man, crawling around on the
ground like an animal. And yet those eyes weren’t human. They
weren’t animal but they most definitely weren’t human either. He
held his ground and steadied his nerves.
The light began to improve as
the moon finally emerged from behind whatever clouds had hidden it,
and he saw the creature more clearly. He almost wished he hadn’t.
It was like a man - almost
but its shape was wrong. Its legs were bent strangely, as
though they were double jointed. It had body hair everywhere,
glistening in the moonlight, and it had a tail that could move by
itself as it swished back and forwards, angrily, maybe hungrily. So
it wasn’t truly a man. Not even one in costume. Neither was it a
cougar. Not even one trained in a circus. That little he could be
He was given
little more chance to observe as it suddenly decided to move on.
The creature started to search the surrounds, still on two legs. It
moved in fits and starts, but always smoothly, silently and very
fast. It was almost too fast for him to follow. He told himself he
was dreaming but he didn’t dare rub his eyes. It was so quick it
could cover the fifty meters between them in the few seconds before
he opened them again. And while the glass between them was
toughened and bullet proof, it had never been designed to stop
whatever this was.
didn’t approach. Instead it moved around the lake front, stopping
occasionally to smell the air or scan the horizon, but at least
In under a
minute it had disappeared from sight even though it had been out in
the open under the pale moonlight. The distance had concealed it
too easily. He didn’t dare assume it had gone. Instead he held the
gun to him and waited. It was a crazy thing to do. The house was
secure, and no normal animal would willingly come near a human
anyway. But logic didn’t answer his fears. This was no normal
animal. There was nothing normal about it at all.
Fully an hour
passed before he moved, and then it was only to sit down in the
ancient rocker chair with the gun across his knees. It wasn’t a
comfortable position. He’d bought the chair because it seemed in
keeping with his home and then never used it once he discovered how
poorly it fit his oversized frame. Then again, he didn’t really
want to be put at ease. He knew he would get no more sleep that
night. He couldn’t afford to sleep with the creature out there.