Author's Note: I had to write a sci-fi story (not my best area) for writing class this year, and though it was hard coming up with an idea, I actually ended up really liking this story! I wanted to share it with you guys so please tell me what you think :) Just spent some time reading old reviews... Made me so happy.
My desk shook a little as the fifth small earthquake of the week hit our San Francisco neighborhood. This happens every couple of months so no one panics very much. The first one that occurs usually scares us all out of our seats, that moment when we feel the first tremor. But then we all realize that the earthquake is nothing serious and go about our business. That's pretty much what I'm doing right now since I'm right in the middle of a French quiz and need to focus. I keep seeing the water in my water bottle shake with the vibrations of the building, so I grab it and put it in my backpack.
It took me about another ten minutes to finish. No one had got up to give in their quiz yet and I hated being the first one to do so. But I didn't want to triple or quadruple check it again so I just sucked it up and got out of my seat.
That's when it hit.
It was a tremor unlike any other we had ever experienced until now. I fell hard onto the floor, my head slamming into my best guy friend's desk. For a moment, I couldn't see anything in front of me. It was as if the world had gone all fuzzy but I could feel a pair of arms pulling me close to their body.
"Julie, you okay?" I looked toward the concerned voice and my vision finally comes back into focus. Marcus, the friend I mentioned earlier, had pulled me tight against him underneath his desk so that we were both covered.
"W-what's going on?" I managed to say, noticing my head was throbbing majorly.
"I think we're experiencing a major earthquake right now. That was a strong vibration that hit before," He said certainly, his voice showing no fear. I realized now that I was pressed up pretty tightly against him underneath this desk. Did I mention that I've secretly been in love with Marcus for years? Not a bad predicament, if I do say so myself.
"Everybody, stay calm!" My French professor commanded from behind his desk. "No one gets out from underneath their desks, understood?" We all nodded our heads in agreement.
Just then, another strong tremor hit and this time, it caused parts of the ceiling to come down with it. It was as if that was a signal, because soon after, the whole building began to shake consistently. Marcus and I hugged each other even closer if that was possible because we wanted no body part to be outside of the desk. Also, I think we were both a little scared and the hug was super comforting. Well, at least it was for me; I'm so evil that way, using a bad circumstance for my own personal gain. Any who, debris continued to fall over top of us and the ground shook below us for a few more minutes before everything just unexpectedly stopped. No one came out from beneath their desks. What if the earthquake wasn't over yet?
But suddenly, a loud alarm rang through the air. I looked at Marcus, confused, because we both knew that that wasn't our university's alarm. I looked over to my professor and he had the same look on his face.
"Attention, earthlings, attention," a raspy and thick voice said, engulfing my head with sound. It was as if someone had placed headphones right against my ears, that's how loud the sound was. "If you all could vacate the premises of your current location and proceed to your town square, that'd be lovely. If you should decide to try to run away, we will not hesitate to incinerate you. You have been warned."
And just like that, the voice was gone. I could hear people screaming from other classes and from outside. We all knew that the voice was real, even without seeing where it came from. This wasn't a joke or a drill or a game. There was something terrible going on here.
"Well, I guess we should start walking," Marcus stated simply, as he got out from beneath the desk and pulled me along with him. All my classmates were standing now, looking at one another. Without a word, we all started walking gravely to the door, knowing we had no other choice.
I could hear everyone whispering about different insane theories they had as to who was talking and what they wanted from us. One person said that we were all going to die. I wasn't going to argue with him on that one. I heard another girl say that aliens had come to make us their slaves. I didn't know what to think about that one. I didn't know what to think about any of it.
I looked up at Marcus (he's only two inches taller, calm down!) and could see the worry in his eyes. Seeing that made me wonder where our parents could be and if they were okay. Marcus and I both moved from LA to go to school here so our parents are a couple hours away from us. If I'm going to die, I want to see them before it happens, at least! I could tell Marcus was probably thinking about the same thing but I gave him a reassuring smile. Marcus is an amazing listener but he always tends to take others' problems and make them his own. For example, if I tell him about a friend who has been treating me badly, he can't sleep until he figures out a solution to make it better. So you can see why I didn't want him to know that I was excessively worrying about our parents.
We finally make it to San Francisco's hub (about a ten minute walk from the university) and I am so shocked as to what's right in front of me, I stop moving for a moment.
"Holy shit," I hear Marcus say from beside me as he forces me to start walking again.
Because before us, sitting mightily over the bank that it crushed, is a huge, daunting spaceship.
You heard me, spaceship. A screen emerges on to the front of the spaceship and an alien pops up, staring straight us. It looks pretty much like the aliens I've seen in movies with some differences; it has a huge head which is for its huge brain, I suppose. It has two beady eyes and one large eye in the middle of its head. Its lips look as if they've been through extensive botox and its green skin reminds me of a murky ocean. It's wearing white, metallic robes and that's pretty much all I can see as it's sitting down.
"Earthlings," it begins and I recognize it as the voice that spoke to us earlier. "You are keen listeners, I applaud you. Most of you were not foolish enough to try to escape but we did encounter a few odd ones who did. Don't worry, they have been destroyed." It laughs at this statement as if it made a joke. This disgusts me. I suddenly notice that without even realizing, I've inched closer to Marcus, yearning for his warmth and support. Soundlessly, as if he can read my mind, he slips his arm around me and holds me tighter against him. I don't know what this close predicament of ours means but I put it out of my mind; it's not what's important right now. I can feel my entire body shivering in fear and anticipation as to what's coming next.
"You are all probably wondering who we are and why we have invaded your planet. Let me introduce myself. I am Gargachuwan, leader of the Gargans. Our planet is hundreds of millions of miles away from yours but our all-knowing master has led us to believe that what we need belongs here." He pauses for a dramatic moment, probably to let us wonder what exactly belongs on Earth.
"Our species is dying out," Gargachuwan begins, "We are slowly dwindling into an abyss of no return. Our all-knowing master relayed the thought that Earth is where we will find our solution. We researched time and time again, wondering why he would pick a planet of imbeciles to save our race, rather than a neighboring one filled with familiar aliens. And then we realized. If we pick the correct humans, ones with intelligence, strength, and/or attractiveness, not only would you be helping us to procreate more Gargans but we would also become stronger, smarter, and more deathly and powerful than ever before."
His image suddenly changes quickly from state to state, country to country as he shows his disciples giving the same speech in other places. In some of the clips, I see fire and buildings destroyed. That could only mean one thing.
"Now, it is obvious that not all of you fit the criteria. Due to your many fast food restaurants, game consoles, and boring TV shows, a lot of you are either obese, weak, dumb, or all three. Those who fit these criteria will be blown up." At this, I hear screams and crying. I feel like screaming myself but I know that this is not the right time.
"If you feel that you fit the category of an undesirable, please relinquish your freedom immediately and proceed to the right of the town square where my Garganians will destroy you. Desirables, please proceed to the front of the spaceship. If you should choose to run, you will be destroyed. If you resist, you will be destroyed. It is in the end, your choice. Have a good day." And with that, the screen goes black and slides back into the spaceship.
It's silent for a moment before chaos breaks out.
I lose hold of Marcus as I'm pushed and shoved in other people's efforts to run away. Someone hits me so hard I fall to the floor again. I try to get up but no one gives me enough time. I'm so scared of getting trampled, I have no idea what to do. I feel a foot kick me in the ribs and as I gasp in air, Marcus grabs me and lifts me up.
"Come on, we need to go now!" His tone is so urgent and commanding, I don't question it. I grab his hand so I don't lose him again and we start running. I can see people being literally blown up and I can see some people actually giving in and going towards the spaceship. This one girl I see at school who everyone tells me really gets around but is gorgeous is walking up the ramp. Wow.
Everywhere I look people are running. But I see the Garganians everywhere too. They've surrounded the square, locking us in, forcing us to make a choice.
"This way!" Marcus starts running towards an old, abandoned building a block away. There are no Garganians anywhere near it so I follow fast after him. We burst through the door but then close it gently between us.
"There must be some sort of cellar in this place. Or some sort of safe room underneath," Marcus says, mostly to himself.
"Oh, my God, you're right! This building had to be built around a time when they didn't have earthquake proof buildings. That would mean there should be a latch somewhere around…" I barely have to look before I see a floorboard not completely in place on the other side of the room. I run towards and take it off, along with a few more floorboards. A rusted latch stares back at me.
"Here!" I whisper/yell to Marcus. I open it and he ushers for me to go in first. He replaces the floorboards over top of us and then closes the door. All the sounds are drowned out.
We're in complete darkness.
I search for a light switch and my hand catches on a chain. I pull on it and the room is ignited with light. It's not very spacious but I see a small cot in the corner and a chair right in front of me. That's pretty much it.
"We need to figure out a plan. We have to do something."
"I know," I say, "I feel bad hiding out in here. Who knows what's going on out there right now or how many people are dying." Marcus gives me the strangest look when I say this, and for a moment, it looks as if he's thinking deeply about something. Before I know it, he's got his hands entangled in my hair and his lips on my mouth.
His lips. On my mouth.
I can't believe this right now. It's exactly what I've wanted for so long, exactly what I've dreamed about for so long. And let me tell you, it's a lot better than in my dreams. We stood there for what felt like the longest time, kissing each other in a way that I had never been kissed before. Reluctantly, I broke apart from him, but only far enough so that I could speak; my forehead rested against his.
"You have no idea how long I've been waiting for you to do that," I say, ecstatic even though I should be anything but.
"Are you kidding? I've wanted to kiss you ever since the first day I met you. I just always thought you liked me as a friend!" I'm so shocked at this statement that I just kiss him again. I was probably going to die by the end of the day. I wanted to enjoy the moment I've been dreaming about for the past five years properly.
"We can't hide in here," Marcus says after another long moment of kissing. I rest my head against his shoulder and sigh, "I know." He gives me one last lingering kiss before he walks over to the trapdoor and opens it. We both get up and close it behind us only to turn around and find a Garganian at the door.
And it's pointing its gun straight at us.
"No, please, don't shoot us!" I automatically scream.
"Why should I listen to you? You tried to hide?" The Garganian responds in a thick voice.
"Because… because we'll come with you. You can take us to your planet." As Marcus says this, I look up at him, alarmed. He stares back at me with determined eyes. He obviously has a plan.
"Alright, let's move it then." We start to walk towards the Garganian, but before we even take more than a few steps, Marcus has taken out a knife and whipped it at the Garganian's head. It hits him square in the forehead and he falls back instantly. It's obvious that like me, the Garganian had no idea Marcus was going to do something like that. He runs toward it and tears the gun away from him.
"Now, from what I saw, there were ten Garganians around the square, plus the leader in the space—What? You're staring at me."
"You just simply never cease to amaze me," I state. "Nevermind that, carry on."
"If we can sneak up behind them all and somehow sneak into the ship, we can kill the leader and then call off the rest of the Garganians around the world.
"Do you know how hard that's going to be? How do you propose to do that?"
"Do you trust me?"
"With my life," I say without even thinking about it.
"Then listen to me and do everything I say."
It seems that while I was cowering in fear in Marcus' arms, he was observing the entire area, raking in clues and facts. He noticed that the only exit on the spaceship is the ramp at the front. He also saw that most of the Garganians were situated far away from the ship, excluding the two who were standing right in front of it. His plan is to go through the sewers, travel down until he reaches the pothole behind the spaceship, and then crawl underneath it around to the ramp to get inside. I am the distraction. At first, Marcus was going to give me a rather menial task as he didn't want to put me in danger, but I wouldn't have it. I am to distract the Garganians at the front, by surrendering myself. But I'm not going to make it easy. I obviously won't resist since that would get me killed, but I am going to act a little crazy.
I kiss Marcus one more time for luck, and just in case, for goodbye. He squeezes my hand, and then he's off. I wait until he is down in the pothole before I set off for the spaceship. I walk up to the ship and stand in line. Apparently, many of the San Francisco citizens thought it fit to surrender. This is actually good because I need to wait until I can see him from under the ship anyway. A few minutes passes and he's nowhere to be found. People are being blown up around me or saying good-bye to their loved ones as they know they won't fit the "Desirable" category. My heart breaks at the site of a little kid being pulled away from his mom by a Garganian to be lead to his ultimate demise. I look back towards the spaceship and I see a brown head, hiding deep underneath it.
It's my time to shine.
I push through everyone in line and edge my way to the front.
"Julie Shaw, desirable at your service!" The Garganians look at me as if I've gone insane. Which in a way, I probably have as none of the people before have probably been so upfront to them. "As you can see, I'm quite beautiful. Don't you want your future descendants to have luscious hair like mine? I mean feel it! It's so soft and shiny. Seriously, blonde will work with your skin tone so well, don't even worry!"
From the corner of my eye, I see Marcus edging towards the ramp. He has to be quick because if someone points him out, we're both done for.
I carry on. "Oh, and my eyes! Who doesn't want sky blue eyes like mine? I've had guys just stare at me for hours because they get lost in these bad boys. Let's not mention my body. I haven't seen any of your girl Gargans around but I bet they're not as skinny as me." I can tell the Garganians are intrigued by me. They're staring me over like I'm a trophy though which is slightly disturbing. I risk a look towards the ramp and all I see is Marcus' shoe as he rounds the corner.
"I have an IQ of 160, you know. I pretty much taught my classes back in university, I was so smart. Can you believe it? I'm gorgeous and smart! Wow, what a duo!" Not true, I don't have an IQ of 160.
"Alright, alright, I don't know what your tactic is here, but get on the ship before I get tired of hearing your voice and decide to blow you up instead." I know he's not kidding so I bounce on to the ramp, though I can tell they're giving me a look-over as I'm walking away.
Not too shabby of an act, if I do say so myself.
I'm walking towards the sound of crying and talking when I hear it. An explosion so loud, it's as if it was a nuclear bomb exploding overtop of us. A Garganian runs into the ship and past me. Suddenly, all the Garganians that were outside do the same. They're all going towards where the sound came from, probably where Marcus is right now! With a feeling of dread, I run after them. I burst into the main room and find Marcus held up by two of the Garganians, his face already bleeding from being punched multiple times.
"You can… Hit me all you want," Marcus says with trouble. It's obvious he'd been hit in other places as well. "But you're all going to be gone in a matter of minutes."
"What are you talking about?!" One Garganian demands, his voice filled with power but terror as well.
"Oh, did your powerful leader not tell you? If your leader dies… You all die."
"You're lying!" The Garganian who spoke before yells and punches Marcus in the face again. I involuntarily yell.
"Stop! Stop hurting him!"
"Julie! Get out of here!" Marcus yells angrily at me, his eyes narrowed. One Garganian grabs me as another points its gun towards me.
"Well, well. Guess it will be more fun to kill her first right now, and then wait to see if we die, too."
"NO! Don't touch her!" Marcus tries to get out of the Garganians grasp but it's no use. He's no match for the both of them. I can see the Garganian place his finger over the trigger and I close my eyes and cringe, not ready for what's coming next. I hear Marcus yelling my name, his voice almost to tears. I hear the Garganians laughing and I know I'm done for. I only hope that after they kill me, they truly will disappear so that Marcus can live. He can live and carry on his life, becoming a teacher like I know he wants to be and helping his students become as smart and kind as him.
But then, it's suddenly as if the ground is ripped out from underneath me and I fall hard against the gravel.
I'm not dead.
I open my eyes and see that the spaceship is gone and so are the Garganians. All the people who had surrendered have all fallen on top of each other as the spaceship disappeared. If not for the people dead and the destruction on the city, there's no evidence to show that the Gargans were ever here. I look over and I see Marcus trying to get up to get to me. In a flash I'm beside him, hugging him so hard, I can barely breathe.
"You're alive," he whispers as he brings me down to lie beside him and holds me close.
"So are you," I giggle sheepishly as I kiss his cheeks, his forehead, his mouth.
"I love you," he says as he looks at me with his green eyes. I'm suddenly overcome with happiness, sadness, fatigue, and anger. But for right now, I choose happiness and tell him I love him back.
For now, happiness is okay with me.