by Wallace Dorian
The war could have been prevented. The aliens didn't make official contact until 2013. Both sides had three years of intense negotiations before talks broke down. It wasn't an all out world war. Little skirmishes broke out in various parts of the world like the war in Iraq that humbled the American military machine when the new President finally called back the troops in 2010 and a new regime took it's place. Little did they know the world would all be uniting in a common front against a hostile alien force from Lazos, a planet many light years from earth.
The Lazotians at first seemed like a very gentle race. Although humanoid in appearance, their intelligence far exceeded human beings and they had another side to their nature that was duplicitous and even vicious. They talked about love and peace, even a Supreme Being that guided all creatures in the universe but it was all a trick, an illusion for domination of planet earth.
When they first made contact on that hot July evening at Lake Groom, Nevada, no one could have imagined that contact would come so fast, or at all. The UFO investigators had been saying for decades that extraterrestrial activity and abductions of United States citizens were taking place at alarming rates, especially in the latter part of the 20th Century. They had also revealed their warning to other alien races by using crop circle communication that had dumbfounded so many scientists and investigators wondering what they meant. Needless to say, there was almost worldwide panic when the President finally made an official announcement that an alien race known as Lazotians would be contacting us at a preordained time and place in the American Southwest. It was the event of a lifetime. That was six years ago.
Now the war was over. The fighting had been intense. The discovery of new laser technology, which had been in place after the Nibos Space Station was completed, proved victorious over the Lazotians when America, Russia, China and Africa decided to combine their forces to militarize space with effective satellite weaponry, and this, after Pakistan had dropped a nuclear bomb near Uttar Pradesh, India in 2009 sending the world into the fear of a worldwide holocaust. Fortunately, Muslim extremists assassinated the Pakistani tyrant, Omar Rutar, who instigated the hostilities much to the chagrin of India's Prime Minister Hubarra Sonayak. Tensions in that part of the world were held together by quick diplomacy from the U.N. and world leaders condemning the atrocity. However, with the sudden appearance of the Lazotians, that disaster was dwarfed in the face of a new conflict from beyond the stars. Lazotians proved to be a very aggressive and formidable enemy.
In the wake of all these events, centers for spiritual renewal by activists and fanatic doomsayers sprouted up like weeds and fear continued to grip the people like a spreading virus as it did in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. There was also constant fear of radiation poisoning from the nuclear event and even thousands of Californians who remained downwind perished many months afterward. The fear of a dreaded radiation cloud spread across the Midwest as well.
But I was gripped with another kind of fear. Fear of sudden death by laser or bullet or bomb.
Marine Major Brian Cox wasn't the kind of man you would want to fool around with. He was a no-nonsense decorated Gulf War vet and when he gave an order you carried it out. He had stationed me in the New Mexico Zone when I received news of some renegade Lazotians still remaining behind in the United States, primarily in the Southwest, hiding in caves near the Grand Canyon.
This also presented me with a new kind of challenge because even though the Lazotians were a defeated race, the indigenous Native American Zuni, Navajo and Hopi tribes identified with their space brothers and felt that despite their hostile intents, they were like gods from heaven coming to liberate the masses with a new, higher consciousness despite American "imperialist" military might to uphold the status quo and this, due to their own persecution by the white man 150 years ago.
I wasn't a sentimentalist. I knew my country made a lot of mistakes, it wasn't perfect, but I was an American and so I had a strong allegiance to the land of my birth and to my unit. My father, General Frank Williams served in the Vietnam War that now seemed like another lifetime ago. He told me I could be anything I wanted to be but I always wanted to be a military man like him. Vietnam was another time and place.
Now here I was, Marine Captain Jesse Williams embarking on a mission with a small group of skilled, seasoned soldiers to find a very different kind of enemy from beyond the stars. I thought this ironic since as a child I would look up at the heavens at night with all those infinite stars and wonder what the purpose of it was. Who was I and where did I come from? More importantly, where would I go after I died?
It wasn't that I was obsessed with death. I had lived close to death in the desert and streets of Iraq, looking into the forgotten lonely faces of men, women and children whose future at the time was bleak and uncertain. It was the children though, hungry and innocent, haunted by the specter of their ancestors so long ago. A culture lost but never found again. When I think of that war I remember the frozen, empty eyes of the dead staring back at me. This made me ponder my own death. Would it come suddenly? Or would I die of natural causes in my old age like my Uncle Joe? I always thought it would be better to know when we were going to die. Better to know you had terminal cancer with only a few months to live. That way you could prepare yourself psychologically.
When I was in Iraq, my biggest fear was dying a slow death and getting a bullet in the stomach or leg. Better to get a bullet in the head I thought, it's quicker. That way I would never know what hit me. But I was lucky. God spared me. I came home alive just like my dad. God spared him also but at least he died peacefully in his sleep.
My mission this time wasn't in the sweltering desert heat of Iraq. I was in Arizona. I looked up at the glory of huge red monoliths known as the "mittens" in America's famed Monument Valley. I thought of all the blood that must have spilled here when Indians were fighting with white settlers a long time ago and the U.S. Calvary marched into the southwest like a giant wave in the name of manifest destiny. I smiled at the thought of reincarnation, that maybe I was a soldier in that army as well fighting alongside General Custer at the Little Big Horn and now, by some strange quirk of fate, pursuing a different kind of enemy.
"Captain?" Sgt. Slovak's voice came up behind me.
"My GPS says they should be in the rocky area about two miles from here." He pointed east. "In that direction."
"Okay. Let's head out," I said.
Slovak looked tired and tense. He was a dedicated soldier and was wounded in Iraq while saving some of his company pinned down by Sunni militants. He received the Purple Heart from the President of the United States but was never one to brag about it. Sgt. Slovak reminded me of the kind of soldier the late General Douglas McArthur talked about. Soldiers that never die, they just fade away.
It was night now. The desert air was cold after the sun had seared itself into my soul. I saw a hawk flutter about overhead and then out of sight. The appearance of a hawk was supposed to be a good omen in Native American lore. My only concern was that we would not be outnumbered by the Lazotians.
My men had just set up camp for the night when Slovak came over to me and sat down.
"How are the men?" I said. "Is everything all right?"
"Yes, sir." I sensed his apprehension. He looked at me with worried eyes.
"You seem like you have something on your mind."
Slovak looked off into the black desert night where huge cactus stood like sentinels guarding their desert domain for centuries.
"We really don't know much about these Lazotians," He said with trepidation. "I mean, what we do know may not be enough."
I tried to reassure him.
"Well we know they can die."
"That may be, sir," He said. "But how can we be absolutely sure about these renegades? They're very clever. They have these strange powers."
"How do you mean?" Slovak looked at me more intensely now.
"I heard a rumor somewhere that some of these aliens use something called a mirror." I let him continue. "You know, like when you confront them, they have the ability to appear and talk like you, as though you were looking into a mirror. It's spooky as hell, sir."
"It sounds like it. So what's your point, Sergeant?"
"I don't know. I guess I'm fatigued."
"Get some sleep. We're up at 0500."
"Yes sir. Good night." Slovak went back to his tent. What he said about the mirror got me to thinking. The whole thing began to confuse me. I wanted to have an answer for him but didn't. Maybe in the morning things would seem much clearer.
I could make out a star or two as the faint light of morning came up over the arid wasteland. The crescent moon, vulnerable and alone would soon disappear with the morning's first rays. I had trouble sleeping thinking about what Slovak told me about the aliens and mirrors.
I stood up to stretch my tired body when suddenly I saw Slovak coming at me carrying his M50 laser weapon at the ready. There was panic in his voice.
"They're gone!" He shouted.
"Who?" I said buttoning up my shirt.
I hesitated a moment taking this in. I quickly looked around and walked swiftly to the two tents and looked inside.
"What happened to my men, Slovak? How could they just disappear?"
Slovak looked around.
"The aliens I think. There's no doubt in my mind." He locked and loaded his weapon and gritted his teeth. "What do we do now, Captain?"
I thought a moment feeling an intense sense of trepidation coming over my whole body. "I don't know. I've just lost fifteen men." I looked around again trying to get a psychic sense of what had taken place during the night. A coyote howling in the distance created an eerie atmosphere as the suns hot rays started rising in the east.
"We have to find the aliens," I told him. "We're past the point of no return."
Slovak agreed and pointed north. "The caves are that way, sir."
We both got our gear and began walking through the desert feeling a sense of ennui. How could my men just disappear like that without a sound I thought? Maybe it was some new kind of magic, a secret weapon the aliens had been hiding in one last, desperate measure to insure their well-being and their self-preservation. I had seen aliens die before, just like humans. It was just as pathetic. They usually made a terrifying high-pitched sound that almost pierced your ears. Whether alien or human you'd have to be made of stone to not have compassion for your enemy in the throes of death.
I turned to Slovak who had just stopped to drink some water.
"I think we're almost there," I said.
I walked a bit more slowly now as I approached the entrance to the huge cave. I gripped my weapon tightly, feeling tense and cautious. When I turned, Slovak was gone, nowhere to be seen.
"Slovak?" I looked around nervously and shouted loudly again. "Slovak! Slovak!" I turned again and saw a figure standing at the mouth of the cave. He was holding a huge torch, which burned brightly. As I came closer I could see it was a man, a Native American man, very big. His face was weathered by the elements but is eyes were intense and knowing. He motioned with the wave of his hand to follow him into the cave. I hesitated a moment and then followed him in. He appeared to be wearing traditional "clan" clothing which I thought was strange.
Blackness quickly enveloped me as I followed him into the cave. Hundreds of bats quickly made their way to the top in a loud flurry of wings. The cave was cool compared to the hot desert air and it felt unusually soothing, like a balm that wrapped itself around me. I pulled out my own moonbeam as the Indian man walked assuredly into the hollow abyss. There was a faint smell of smoke in the air. Just ahead of him I could make out the slight glimmer of light. It was firelight.
"Where are we going?" I asked. The Indian man didn't turn or speak. He just kept walking. As we moved closer and closer to the fire, my heart pounded faster and faster. I suddenly stopped when I saw what appeared to be all my men who had disappeared along with Slovak, who sat to the side. They all seemed unusually calm and looked at me as I approached. The Indian man turned and walked out of the cave. I moved closer to Slovak. He was eating an apple and seemed almost oblivious to my presence.
"Slovak?" I said softly. He slowly looked up at me and gave me a half-smile.
"Hi, Captain." He seemed spaced-out. I looked over at my men.
"Where did you men go?"
No one spoke a word. They looked at me with blank stares, some gazing into the fire. I heard a rock fall and quickly turned to see someone else. He was holding a small child. My blood froze. The man walked closer.
It was me.
I looked at Slovak. "Slovak, you were right. About the mirror I mean. Is that what this is?"
Slovak just looked at me. "I guess so, Captain." He seemed almost comatose, sedated.
I heard the sound of my voice as though distant and primordial.
"Welcome home, Jesse." It was my mirror. No one had called me by my first name and certainly not while I was in uniform unless they were close friends.
"Who are you?" I said realizing my weapon had been trained on my own men all this time. I slowly put it down as not to seem hostile. I was outnumbered and somehow I knew the men before me were not who I thought they were.
"Don't you know us?" My mirror said matter-of-factly.
"This must be some kind of dream, an illusion." I turned to Slovak. "Slovak, tell them this isn't you. Who are you?"
"I'm me, Captain."
I turned to my mirror. Suddenly, the mirror of myself had transformed into my father but he looked younger, like before I was born.
"Who is the child?" I said.
"It's you." He said. It was disconcerting to hear the sound of my father's voice.
"How can that be?" I said.
The mirror walked over to Slovak and handed him the child. Suddenly Slovak was my mother, the way I remembered her before she died. She looked so young and fair. I wanted to go to her and have her hold me and tell me everything was okay and that this was all a horrible dream, a nightmare.
My mother opened her blouse and exposed her breast, nursing the child whom I recognized to be me from an old baby picture. I dropped my weapon that echoed throughout the cave with a metallic clang. I couldn't stand anymore. I was feeling light-headed, disoriented. Everything was spinning and then I fell to the ground. Everything went dark.
Corporal Frank Williams had just returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam, his last one. He was excited to be going home to be reunited with his wife Linda again. She had just given birth to their son, Jesse Williams, almost a year ago.
She had sent him photos while overseas and he looked just like him. It was 1970 and the anti-war protesters were still having demonstrations as Williams taxi made its way home from the train station in Peoria. Frank felt blessed to be alive especially when so many of his friends had died in the jungles of what would one day be a forgotten war.
He looked out of his window now at the miles of farmland, the cornstalks tall and green that he thought he would never see again. He thought about his son Jesse and what the future would hold for him. He was proud to have served his country even in an unpopular war and decided he would make his career in the army. He also thought that if his son wanted a career in the military when he grew up that would be okay too. He didn't know what the future would hold. Who did?
© 2008 Wallace Dorian
Bio: Wallace Dorian (Writer) is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has written several original screenplays and many stage plays. His most recent original screenplays are, "Desert Rain" a romantic drama about a woman documentary filmmaker's plight, "Village of the Dead", a ghost-supernatural epic, and "Army Ants", a futuristic military adventure-fantasy about terrorism and miniaturization. His new stage adaptation "The Women of the Mahabharata" is getting its world premiere in New York City October 9th-26th.
E-mail: Wallace Dorian
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