The Object | By: Steven Wood | | Category: Short Story - Science Fiction Bookmark and Share

The Object

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) was initiated for the first time last night, and every hour thereafter. I thought nothing of it initially, as tests for the EAS occur on a monthly basis; but this is the second time in a single week. Something isn’t right. The notice begins with a series of loud beeps and is followed by a muffled voice, which sounds like someone speaking through a handheld radio, being partially drowned out by wind.

“This is not a test—I repeat—this is not a test. The National Guard has initiated a state of emergency for anyone receiving this broadcast. You are advised to remain in your home, do not attempt to flee the area. Further instructions will be given shortly. Again, this is not a test.”

With my heart racing, I pick up the television remote, juggling it in my hands as I anxiously await further information. The current channel shows a black screen, with a scrolling message reading the same as the verbal announcement. Every channel is the same; something must be terribly wrong.

As morning approaches; I decide to peek out of my 10th story apartment window, gazing at the street below. I notice the street is empty; there are no cars or busses driving by, and no people walking on the sidewalk. The EAS starts up again, this time a clear and direct voice:

“The United States government has issued martial law for anyone receiving this broadcast. Please do not attempt to leave your homes; your safety of the United States citizens is our number one priority.”

Frustrated by the lack of information provided by the message, I return to the window; fighter jets are zooming nearby, close enough that the sonic boom shakes my windows. I survey the sky for more action, as this is very uncommon.

That’s when I see it. Something else is in the sky.

Without movement, it floats there, suspended, as if a prop hung in the rafters of a theater. There are no sounds; no visual cues of its purpose. It looks to be metallic, seemingly very large, but almost impossible to determine its scale against the vastness of the sky. The color could best be described as a dull gray, seemingly lifeless, with no glare from the sun. The only point of reference to its distance is that clouds are able to pass in front of it; as soon as they do, the clouds begin to dissipate.

The fighter jets seem to be taking formation off in the distance, and the sound of their engines fade. They’re coming back now; screaming engines and flying directly at the object in the sky. They are so close it looks as if they’re going to collide. The fighter jets fly directly in front of the object, and they immediately begin to descend, as if they all lost power instantaneously. They fall from the sky; plumes of smoke from the wreckage fill the sky while the pilots slowly descend with their parachutes.

Trembling, I turn from the window and focus on the television, which now displays a new scrolling message:

“Remain indoors until further notice.”

What is happening? What is that thing? So many questions, but no answers; does the military or the government know what’s going on? I have no way to answer any of these questions, my mind is flooded with terrible thoughts; I can’t relax.

With night approaching, the object has an orange hue encompassing its entire shape, which appears to be spherical. The hue glows brighter, as the sky falls deeper into darkness. I’ve never seen something so breathtaking, and yet frightening at the same time.

The city has never been so dark; the only vehicles I can see are military; some are stationary, while others patrol the alleyways and streets. My focus returns to the object, as there is now a loud buzzing noise coming from an undetermined source outside. The sound is deafening and my ears immediately begin to ring. The buzzing suddenly ceases as a blast of white light shoots out of the center of the object, completely engulfing a convoy of military vehicles just down the block from my apartment. When the light subsides, the vehicles have vanished; with no evidence they were ever there.

The remaining vehicles scramble, leaving their patrol and head the opposite direction of the smoldering ground where the vehicles were just driving. Fighter jets are once again heard in the distance, but this time they do not attempt to pass in front of the object. When they are close enough, they let loose a flurry of missiles, all of which hit the object directly; the orange hue engulfing the object immediately disappears, as it begins its descent towards the Earth.

The object takes its final resting place mere blocks from my apartment. My view is slightly obstructed as it destroyed multiple buildings before finally resting deep within the rubble of my city. The object lays at least 100ft into the ground, and is in fact spherical; it’s immense, the diameter encompasses an entire block.

As daylight shines across the city skyline, or what’s left of it, an overpowering shadow engulfs the streets behind the object. Hazmat crews are now onsite, along with various military personnel; while the construction crews have worked through the night. The cleanup will take weeks, if not months.

Five days have passed since the incident, the ground in shambles, construction crews still cleaning the debris and occasional body. Only small pieces remain of what was once a haunting reality of knowing that we are not alone in the universe. As I gaze into the sky, the cloud coverage begins to break in multiple areas; more of these objects now suspend themselves over my city. The EAS interrupts the television broadcast.

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