THEY’RE HERE
by Samantha Brooke


‘OH, GOD—THEY’RE here! They’ve come back for us. Marcus—Marcus, wake up!’ She groped for him in the darkness as he lay beside her in the bed, shaking him vigorously by the shoulder. ‘Wake up—’ she hissed frantically. ‘Please... ‘

But he didn’t. His breaths were deep and steady as he slumbered on in spite of her distress—and she recalled with despair how he had downed almost an entire bottle of whiskey earlier, after they had finally made it home that evening. Both of them shaking and terrified...

He had told her that he needed to calm his nerves, or he would never be able to sleep that night. And she could smell the reek of the alcohol as it emanated from him now. Icy cold tears began to trickle down her face—

Always a light sleeper, she had found herself being roused moments earlier from her own uneasy and fitful rest by the sound of the back door creaking open in the kitchen below. And now, she could hear the movement as they made their way through the house. Her heart was galloping in her chest, and she could feel the throb of blood at the pulse points in her throat and temples. She had to do something—She had to succeed in waking up Marcus, and then they both had to get out of there. They could go out of the window—though the drop was a steep and potentially dangerous one. She had to—

Block the bedroom door. Get up and slide some furniture in front of it so that they can’t get in. Quickly!

Through the haze of her terror-fogged thoughts, this voice sounded in her head. She obeyed it in an instant, shoving the duvet aside and scrambling up off the mattress. The bedsprings creaked loudly with the movement and she flinched at the sound. Her own rapid, panting breaths seemed horribly loud, too. She knew—she just knew—that they could hear her. Could sense the state of extreme, excruciating panic that she was in—

Maybe they were enjoying it, too. Relishing the fear and terror that they were causing her. Why else would they have tracked her and Marcus down like this—stalking them all the way here, miles across the countryside, from that quiet little picnic spot they had visited earlier that day? A romantic, peaceful weekend afternoon that had taken a terrifying turn once they had realised that they weren’t alone there...

She whimpered now as she heard one moving at the foot of the stairs. They were getting closer—

She had to hurry if she were to have any hope at all of keeping them out...

Body thrumming with adrenaline and fingers clumsy with panic, she grabbed hold of the small bedside drawers next to her side of the bed and pulled them towards the door—a grunt of exasperation escaping her lips as the legs snagged repeatedly on the carpet. They were a little heavier than she had anticipated, too—further slowing her progress. Meanwhile, on the other side of the door she could hear footsteps climbing up the stairs and onto the landing.

They’re almost here—

Mouth dry with panic, she gave one last shove and managed to get the drawers into position directly behind the door. A lamp which had been resting on the top of it toppled, falling to the floor with a loud crash. She flinched as though the sound had been a gunshot—listening intently to try to hear what was going on in the rest of the house, what they were doing...

Heart pumping fast, she realised that she could no longer hear any signs of them moving around. They must all have reached the landing now. She saw them in her mind’s eye—standing out there on the other side of the door, mere feet away from where she herself stood. They were probably listening to her every slight movement, her every breath...

She backed slowly away from the door, bare feet almost silent upon the carpet. She glanced over her shoulder at the window. Maybe there was still time, maybe she could still make a break for it.

But, no. She couldn’t possibly just leave Marcus, all alone and defenceless, not even knowing that they were under attack. He would have no chance at all to defend himself. She looked over at his prone figure on the bed. A low, rumbling snore issued from his mouth.

Her gaze went from the window, to fix upon the bedroom door. Maybe, if they found that they could not get through it, then they would just give up. Just go away, and leave them alone...

Barely had these thoughts formed in her mind when the door handle began to shake violently—up and down with terrifying, inhuman rapidity. A horrified gasp escaped her lips. But the door did not open. The drawers were enough to keep it firmly closed. For now...

She closed her eyes then. ‘Please, please, go away. Please—go away. Just go away and leave us alone.’ Icy tears dripped down her cheeks and she tasted the saltwater upon her lips.

The door stilled. Silence fell. Her eyes flew open, staring across the darkened room. She couldn’t hear anything now. Couldn’t hear any sounds of them leaving. But surely—

Surely, they must be doing so.

She stood, frozen in place, as the seconds ticked by with agonising slowness.

And then, a strange, poisonous blue light erupted. She saw the glow of it, seeping in through the cracks around the door—so bright that she was unable to look directly at it. A chilling sound had started up at the same moment—a mechanical, humming kind of a sound.

‘Stop—’ she lost all control then, yelling out wildly. ‘Why won’t you stop? Just leave me alone! Leave me alone!’

In answer, the light glowed even more intensely, causing her to lift her hands up to her face in an attempt to shield her eyes. The humming, whining sound grew louder, pressing in painfully on her eardrums. Seconds later, she saw—with a thrill of pure terror coursing through her—the crack that was being cut into the wall from the other side.

She screamed.

 

Marcus blinked his eyes open and rubbed at them as a groan escaped his lips. His mouth was dry and horribly bitter-tasting. A steady pain throbbed at his temples.

‘That was the craziest fucking dream I’ve ever had,’ he muttered to himself. Then, louder, he said, ‘Babe, do me a favour and go put the kettle on, can you? I’ve got a bitch of a hangover.’

When there was no immediate response, he glanced over at Sophie’s side of the bed. He found it empty. Frowning, he turned his head to squint at the clock.

‘Huh. Quarter past ten already. Guess she must already be up and about, then.’ It was strange that she hadn’t woken him, but still...

He rolled out of bed—hopeful that when he went downstairs she would already have a good, strong, hot coffee waiting for him. And maybe a bacon sandwich to go with it.

‘Soph—’ he called, as he crossed the room and ambled out onto the landing. He began to make his way down the stairs. He was somewhat aggrieved to note that there was no aroma of freshly brewed coffee, or of any cooking having been done. ‘Soph—I’m feeling really rough, Babe. Do me a butty, would you? I’ll need a coffee first, though. And a drop of whiskey in it, perhaps, as a hair of the dog. My head feels as though it’s about to explode—’

He reached the foot of the stairs, and peered in through the open living room door. The room beyond was empty. The entire house seemed unnaturally silent and cold, somehow. More than that, even. It felt... unlived in. Empty. Abandoned.

A frown fell upon his face and he gave himself a little mental shake, telling himself that he was just being silly. Still, it was not a sensation that he had ever had before, and it made his heart beat faster with unease.

The silence seemed to scream in his ears as he turned and headed towards the kitchen. Sophie always listened to the radio in the mornings—humming along to the pop music as she went about her chores. But this morning, all around him was as silent as the grave.

‘Babe?’ he called out—his voice louder now, more urgent. His head throbbed. ‘Where are you, Soph?’

She was not in the kitchen. Nor was she in any of the other rooms. He searched the entire house, from top to bottom. Even opened up the loft hatch to peek into the dusty space beneath the roof. But there was no sign of her at all.

He tried calling her phone, but she had left it behind, sitting in the top drawer of her bedside table where she always kept it overnight. Next, he put in frantic calls to all of her family and friends. None of them had seen her.

Eventually, he called the police.

They never found her, either.

 

Sophie blinked her eyes open, squinting in the dazzlingly bright light which seemed to suffuse the entirety of the room that she was in—glinting off the sleek metallic walls. She felt dazed and groggy, unable to remember where she was, or even how she had come to be there. She tried to move, but found that some kind of a translucent cage enclosed her. She was trapped.

Some kind of a guttural, grunting sound came from nearby—like a strange language that no human had ever encountered before. Then more of the noises—creatures, communicating with one another. She looked around in a panic, turning her head frantically from side to side—

That was when she saw that she was not the only person there. Several other women lay nearby, enclosed in cages of their own. They looked back at her, some tearful, all of them looking afraid.

‘What’s happening—’ she gasped. ‘Where are we? Who’s—’

‘They’re just bringing the babies in.’ One of the women nearest to her responded, her eyes blinking in the bright light which seemed to come from all directions. Her voice was muffled by the walls of their respective cages. Sophie put a hand out. The walls felt strangely pliant, but plastic at the same time. She drew her hand away.

‘Babies? What—’ Sophie’s voice was weak—her body felt even more so. Nearby, a portion of the wall slid aside and some kind of beings stepped through the opening. She almost lost consciousness again at the sight of them—

They were unnaturally tall, with leathery grey skin, tiny heads and six limbs apiece. The strange, guttural sounds were coming from them as they communicated with one another. Each one of them carried a swaddled baby in one of its arms.

Sophie whimpered. The beings began to move around, opening the cages and releasing the women who had been trapped within. That’s when she realised that they were all naked—

She looked down at herself, and saw that she was naked too. And—much to her horror—there was a scar across her abdomen as though someone had performed surgery upon her whilst she had been out of it.

‘No—’ she breathed. ‘Oh, no...’

One of the beings approached her and pressed a button, freeing her from the cage. She wanted to run, to fight—to do something—but her body was heavy and it was like trying to move in a bath full of honey. The being thrust the squirming infant that it carried into her arms—

She looked down at it. The child looked almost human—apart from the strange grey tint in its overly wrinkled skin. And the fact that—like those strange creatures—it did not have any ears that she could see.

The child blinked up at her, cooing with a strange, guttural noise coming from its mouth. And Sophie, beginning to cry, realised that she was holding her own baby.

 


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