Part Three: Once back in his apartment Gary put it all out of his mind. Whatever Franks said couldn’t be trusted. He was nuts. Gary heard the tic-tic-tic of one of the monsters and then a shot, and then another. Gary didn’t look out of the window for the rest of the day. The next day, Gary pushed the curtains out far enough to see the monsters were milling around, as if they were waiting for something. Then they all took off running. Gary waited but they didn’t return. The internet told him that the monsters were being stopped cold but they were being stopped cold only in grainy videos that lasted a few seconds. Meanwhile, reports said, in downtown San Francisco the creatures were slowly herding everyone into the middle of town. Gary was already there so he was safer than most, he hoped.
On the morning of the first month of the invasion, Gary was looking at his kitchen in horror. There was no more food. The water was still running but he didn’t understand why. The power was still on but again, Gary couldn’t understand that. The news had stopped pretending that humans were winning and instead urged people to hide. But he had to go out. There was no denying the fact that if he was going to live he had to leave his apartment. No one answered the knocks on doors and Gary was afraid he’s be shot if he tried to force his way in. Gary took the elevator which was running smoothly. It seemed obscene that the lights were on and the music was playing while the world was ending. The doors slid open and the lobby was empty yet lighted and cheerful looking as always. The street was a mess. There were smashed cars and overturned trucks everywhere. Pieces of bodies littered the sidewalks. Gary heard the sound, the unmistakable, tic-tic-tic-tic noise and turned around. One of the creatures stood over him with its mouth half open, rows and rows of needle teeth glittered in the morning sun.
Gary ran. He ran down the street, thankfully it was downhill, and Gary ran faster than he had ever ran in his life. For a moment, for the briefest moment in time that existed, Gary felt good about how fast he was running, but the tic-tic-tickity-tic-tic sound was right behind him. Another thirty seconds of running at full speed and Gary realized, with very certain horror, he was being toyed with. Gary ran until he couldn’t run another step and after that he keep walking. He turned and it was still behind him.
Gary looked around. There was no one there but the monster.
Gary realized he hadn’t heard the sound of a voice but he felt it, sensed it. He ran. He ran for another thirty seconds but there was nothing at all left. When he stopped the monster picked Gary up by the cuff of his jeans on his left leg and carried him away. Gary screamed and kicked and yelled and hit the creature with his fists but it was like hitting something made out of metal. Gary finally looked around and there were dozens of the creatures and each of them carried a human in its mouth. They formed a circle in the park and each of the monsters dropped their human and waited. One of the people was a woman with an infant. Her monster knocked her down, and picked the baby up in its jaws. The woman screamed and tried to take the baby back but the monster backed away from her, making her chase it, and staying just out of reach. A man tried to grab the monster, reached for the baby, and as if on cue, two of them leapt out at him, and they tore him apart and ate him. No one else tried to help. The monster threw the baby down in front of the humans and impaled it as the woman desperately tried to free her screaming child. She finally sank down and begged the creature to release the baby. The monster ate them both. No one moved. The monsters all sat behind the people, as if guarding them, and no one moved and no one spoke. One man finally got up and approached one of the monsters, “Look, I need my meds, see, if I don’t got my meds…” The nearest monster picked him up and threw him high into the air and the man screamed. The monster let the man hit the ground then ate him. No one else stood up or spoke.
“Stand up” one of the monsters said and Gary was one of the first to stand. The monster head butted Gary and knocked him down. He peed in his pants and knew the last sensation he would have was a warm fluid invading his pants. The creature put its head very close to Gary’s face and Gary could almost see a mirror image of himself reflected in the scales. The creature’s eyes were the size of saucers. Gary could see inside of the eye, as if it were filled with a clear fluid, and there seemed to be three pupils floating in it, each rotating in the same direction. His face was clearly visible in the reflection of that eye, and Gary waited. The mouth opened and he saw pieces of flesh caught between the teeth, bits of cloth and hair. The mouth closed and when it opened again there was nothing but rows and rows of silver teeth, each the size of an ice pick.
One of the creatures had spoken to a man he had pinned down in the same fashion that Gary was pinned. The man tried to speak but he stuttered and fumbled words out of his mouth as if he were about to throw up. The monster picked the man up by the waist and the man screamed. Slowly but steadily, the monster shook the man back and forth, like a dog shaking a rat in slow motion. The man screamed in agony but the monster shook him. The man pleaded for help but the monster shook him. The man tried to grab the creature’s head, tried to kick it, and actually landed a few good kicks, but the monster shook him. Gary noticed the shaking was getting faster and faster and the man’s screams were louder. The people in the circle looked away but nearly all of them had to look back. All of them had the same question; is this how I am going to die? Finally the creature shook the man so violently the man was torn in half. It ate the remains slowly and a woman threw up.
Gary heard the word in his mind and knew that he better say something. He stood up, stepped forward and noticed that one of the monsters was drooling.
“I know you’re all wondering why I asked to you to attend this meeting on such short notice,” Gary began, and the monsters all kicked up their legs and rolled around on the ground in delight.
“But let’s all remember we have a common customer service goal in mind” and for the first time in his life, a canned speech that he had memorized years ago, actually worked in his favor.