Aphelion Issue 296, Volume 28
July 2024 --
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The Day the Elves Came

by Tyler R. Lee

I remember the day the elves came. The day those bastards walked right out of a twisted Tolkien novel and threw our world into chaos. I remember the day everything fell apart. The beginning of the end of humans dominating the planet. That day...four years ago.

It may sound cliche, but, honestly, it seemed like every other day. It was late fall. I was in my junior year at university. It was late in the semester, and my buddy Adam and I were talking about how much we were looking forward to Christmas break, and how much we were looking forward to our double date that night with my girlfriend, Jenny, and his girl...April...yeah, I think that was her name. God, it seems like a lifetime ago. It was a different life, for sure.

I remember it being a bit cold that day. Colder than usual in this part of the country at that time of year. I remember the leaves getting blown all over the yards and lots and through the streets as we walked back to our apartment after our last class before the three week break, surrounded by other college students doing the same, by citizens going about their business, by cars passing us on the streets. Adam and I were just chatting, joking, planning. Hell, it was just out of shear luck that I happened to look over in the direction of the military base a couple miles outside of our little college town and noticed the smoke rising into the sky. Even then, we never saw it coming. We wrote it off as some kind of military exercise or something. We didn’t know shit about the military. He was studying business and graphic design, and I was working towards a career in engineering. How could we have known it had already begun?

It was mere heartbeats after noticing the smoke that our whole world fell apart. Like something from the worst corners of science fiction, they stepped out of dozens of swirling masses of blue and purple right onto our small streets, into our neighborhoods, into our homes. They were tall and lanky, with sallow looking skin tones that could have resembled humans under less alien circumstances. Funny enough, for quite a while, that was the conclusion most people came to: aliens. It certainly seemed that way. They were lightly armored in white and blue, with gauntlets, boots, breastplates, faulds, and a helmet that looked to have two horns protruding from the sides. A weird mixture of a medieval knight and a space marine. In there hands, gripped by their wickedly long fingers were what looked like crossbows or long, metallic staves that matched their armor..

I remember there being a brief moment or two of utter shock. It was completely silent. I think the wind even stopped for those few heartbeats. I mean, what were we all supposed to think? It didn’t matter. There was nothing we could have done. Not with what they brought, which we all saw and felt in the next moments. When time started again, the ones with the staves held them out in front of them, vertically, then pulled back with their free hand, like pulling the string on a bow back where there was no string. However, when they pulled back, a bolt of shimmering blue appeared, shaped like an arrow. Then, dozens of blue shimmering bolts were loosed on the still shocked groups of onlookers.

It only took a single volley for us all to panic and run for our lives. We only had to see the ground errupt where the arrows hit to know they were powerful. We only had to see the cars explode that were struck to know that they were more than they seemed. We only had to look to the unfortunate people who were struck, their dead eyes forever frozen in terror, cauterized holes in their body or where pieces of their body had once been to know that these invaders were out for our blood.

Honestly, I don’t remember much about what happened over the next few minutes. It’s all a blur. That tends to happen in times of panic where everything seems to be happening all at once. I remember explosions. I remember dust, dirt, grass, and other debris getting thrown into the air. I remember Adam and myself pushing each other to go, running as fast as we could back to our apartment, watching people fall to those deadly bolts of blue energy. People we knew, people we never would know. It was so loud, with all the explosions and the screams. God, the screams. I can still hear them in the dark, still dream about it almost every night.

Anyway, Adam and I somehow made it back to our apartment. We nearly tripped all the way up the stairs to our second floor home, panic undoubtedly painted on our faces. We slammed the door, locked it, and pushed one of our two couches up against it. Then, we both fell down, breathing heavily, trying to talk to each other, but mostly just muttering or sobbing incoherently. Things like, “what the hell was that,” or “who the hell are they?” Adam was the first to ask, “where those aliens?” I just shook my head. I didn’t know who or what they hell they were, but from what I had seen, they fit that description.

The next few minutes went by really fast. After we finished muttering and trying to figure out just what the hell was happening, we argued about what we should do. Adam wanted to pack up and make a run for it. “Gotta get out of town,” he had said. “We head into the city and tell the authorities.” I was skeptical. I was sure that going anywhere out in the open, especially after seeing what had just gone down, would end with us having our heads roasted by their magical bows and arrows. We wasted a good amount of time arguing before Adam headed to his room to grab a few essentials before he headed out. I saw that I wasn’t going to talk him out of going, so I decided we would be better as two than out there or in here alone.

However, before we could stuff anything into a duffle bag, we heard the banging on our front door. We both panicked, not having the faintest idea of what to do. It was an apartment on the second floor. It wasn’t like we had a back door or anything. We ran into the living room to try and formulate a plan from our panic. You don’t have the clearest head in those situations. We decided to push up against the couch, make it harder for them to get in. It worked...for a moment.

From outside, in between the violent knocking, we heard them speaking, yelling at us in some language we had never heard before. It was melodic, almost pleasant, if not for the violent and hateful manner it was being directed at us in. Whoever they were, it was clear that they held no love for us. When we didn’t respond, they started trying to break open the door. After a few attempts, the door actually pushed open a bit from the impact. Adam and I quickly shoved the couch back into the door, shutting it. But, again, they forced it open. We continued to hold them out, pushing the couch with everything we had, yelling at them to stop, to go away, yelling at each other to “just keep pushing!” I don’t know about Adam, but everytime the door came open a bit, and I saw a gauntleted hand come through and try to force the door further open, my mind kept racing back to the slaughter we had seen earlier. I saw the people falling, death etched on their face if they hadn’t had their heads blown off. I was terrified that was going to happen to us. So, I kept pushing. Through tear filled eyes, I kept pushing. But, it wasn’t enough.

After what seemed like hours of holding them back, but what couldn’t have been more than a minute or two, they finally worked their way in between the door and the doorway, forcing it open as they cried out in their alien language. I bolted away from the couch and grabbed Adam, hoping he would come with me, but he just froze as they aggressively pushed past the door and couch. I don’t really know where I thought I was going, but I turned right and headed into the kitchen. I made for the silverware drawer, hoping to grab a knife or two, but one of them was already behind me, grabbing me and pulling me backwards. I anchored myself to the nearest thing I could, the stove, and held on, but these things were much stronger than they appeared, and he ripped me from it as I pulled the stove from the wall and heard the gas line break as the gas began whistling its way out.

My captor dragged me into the living room, where I saw three more of them, one of which had Adam, who, like me, was looking terrified. Adam tried begging. Why wouldn’t he? What else were we going to do in this situation? They were armed, they were stronger and faster than us. Hell, we didn’t even know what they were. They said something to Adam in their tongue that must have been something along the lines of “shut up,” because when he didn’t, one of them took their crossbow and belted him across the face with it.

I can’t explain why I did what I did next. You know how some war veterans will talk about doing crazy things when they see their buddies or their team in danger. Well, I guess that can happen to anyone. When I saw one of them hit Adam, and then kick him a few times while he was on the ground, I forgot I was afraid. All I wanted to do was kick that particular invader’s ass. I felt the one behind me step closer, urging me forward, and I jumped at the opportunity. I threw my head back hard, slamming into his. I felt an explosion on the back of my head as part of it made contact with the helmet he was wearing, but he still fell backwards, shocked and hurt at the same time, I assume. Then, I bolted for the one hurting my friend. I tackled him to the ground with all the force I could muster, and we tumbled through the sliding glass door onto the balcony.

I heard the glass shatter as we went through, heard the others start yelling in their language as I attempted to roll onto my opponent and pummel him with my fists. It worked for a couple of hits, but then he used his superior fighting skills to roll me off of him. We both stood at the same time, and I saw the others go for their crossbows. Thinking faster than I ever had, I grabbed the one I had tackled by the armor and jerked him around in front of me so as not to take a shimmering bolt to the gut or head.

I don’t remember much about what happened next, but I’ll do my best with what I do. Apparently, the gas linking from when the stove was pulled from the wall ended up going unnoticed by these guys. Maybe they don’t use gas. Maybe they had no idea that when they fired their bolts, the energy, or magic, or whatever lightsaber tech was running through would ignite the gas and cause an explosion throughout the apartment. But, that’s exactly what it did. The only thing I remember next was seeing flames, then the guy I was holding in front of me slamming into me with what I imagine was the force of a semi truck cruising down the highway.

The next thing I remember was opening my eyes and seeing smoke mixing with the blue sky above me. There was a loud ringing in my ears, so I couldn’t hear a thing, and my body ached with sharp pains when I tried to move. After I don’t know how long, I willed myself to turn my head, and I saw flames raging from what I assumed was our apartment, as well as the one next to ours, and the one below. I still couldn’t hear the flames, but I let my eyes fall to the ground where I saw five scorched bodies littering the ground around me, flames dancing from the bodies to the grass. The four things that had busted in to our apartment, and Adam. I layed back down on the grass, still in pain, still not hearing, and felt tears fall down the sides of my face. I didn’t need to go over to him to know that Adam’s charred and mangled body had no life left in it. I tried to take solace in the fact that the other four bastards were dead as well, but it didn’t help.

I think I blacked out again. I’m not sure for how long, but when I woke up, I was still on the ground outside the burning apartment. The ringing had stopped, but my body still ached. As I looked up, I saw that a few more of those creatures had found me. They were examining the bodies of their falling comrades, looking from them, to me, then back to them. When they saw I was awake, they didn’t pay me any mind. I assumed from the looks of me, they knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

“Well, aren’t you lucky?” I heard a voice say. It was melodic and pleasant, like the voices of the creatures, but it spoke English. I jerked my head in the direction of the voice, and had to cringe to keep from crying out in pain. The explosion, the fall, had really done a number on me.

“Oh, you may want to take it easy for a bit,” the voice said in a clearly mocking tone. “We don’t want you to die of your injuries before we can ask you questions, put you to work and what not.”

“Who are you?” I asked through gritted teeth, partially from pain, partially from rage. “Who are all of you? Why are you doing this?”

“Who are we?” he mocked. I didn’t have to look at him to know he was smiling. “Why, you know who we are. You’ve no doubt read about us. In your fantasy books, your stories, your fairytales.” As he said this, he walked over to me and crouched down so I could plainly see him. Then, still grinning, he said, “However, we should have been in your history books.”

“What?” was all I could stutter out from confusion and pain shooting through my body as the shock started to wear off.

Then, as he said his next phrase, he removed his helmet, and I saw what he meant. I did recognize him. Not because I knew him, but I had, indeed, read about his kind, saw them depicted in movies. His eyes were a bright green that seemed to almost glow. Long, dirty blond air fell down upon his shoulders. But, most striking of all were his ears. The horn like protrusions on the helmets were not horns, they were for their ears. Their pointed ears that stuck up a good inch or two above their head.

“We are the Aelfran. Better known to your filthy humans as Elves.”

I sat their, mouth hanging open, not sure what to say. Then, he added the phrase that answered my question of why they were here.

“And we have come to take back our home.”


2018 Tyler R. Lee

Bio: Tyler R. Lee (born 1989) a short story author and novelist from Wetumka, OK living in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He has a published fantasy novel titled An Unlikely Company, hosts a storytelling podcast named Tales from the Fireside found here, and does some voice work on the side.

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