How Did The Robot Get Into The Basement?
Usually, when retelling a story, one is likely to add embellishments and exaggerations; the purpose being to give the listener the full experience of having ‘been there’: much like a fisherman adding a few pounds to his only catch of the day. I fear that those who venture on over these pages will inevitably believe I am ‘adding on’ to the story to make it more exciting or entertaining; but, as you will see as you read on, exaggerations would not only hinder the telling of this story but are completely unnecessary given the extreme circumstances that make up the ‘plot’ (?) of this as-of-now untold tale. The only point I will concede to is that, since I am retelling from memory alone, exact circumstances will not be told in exactly the way they occurred: because, like I said, I am reporting facts stored solely within my memory; basically I’m saying that human error plays a part in every venture pursued by humans and, seeing as though I am human (unlike some of those in the story I am about to recite), some errors in time, action, dialogue and what-have-you will inevitably occur: although I feel they will not in any way interfere with a just and accurate written reproduction of the series of events that happened just a few short days ago…and so, with this, what some would consider unnecessary, introduction, we begin the journey together as writer and reader: I being the former, you being the latter.
First and foremost should be a description of the church in which this story takes place. Wooden floorboards meet brick walls which lead up to a high vaulted wooden ceiling. In the large space of the main room are rows of benches on either side, an aisle between them from the front door to the altar (if that’s what they call the stage with the podium-type thing on it…I guess it would just be called a podium and not a podium-type thing). On either side of the stage stands statues of religious personalities; I’m sure you can guess who. The building was old, having been built a long time ago, and the floorboards were somewhat warped, causing spaces to form between them and causing loud creak and pop sounds to emit when you walked on them. The benches were hard, wood, and built at a sharp ninety degree angle, making it uncomfortable for any human not possessing perfect posture. The stained glass windows were definitely the highlight of the humbly antiquated worship-spot, filling the walls with images of heroic and tragic scenes and coating the ground with hued-light…does that make sense? The church, as I have briefly described it, is no longer standing in its original form (you will find out why in the telling of this story); but I am happy to report that reconstruction has begun and within a few short months a church even more beautiful, and with non-warped floors, will stand where the destroyed church sits.
What was I doing in the church? It’s funny that you ask. First off, I am not a religious man; I belong to that group of disillusioned, untrusting, cynical people who too freely state that they are ‘spiritual’: what they, and I, mean by this, is that, although no preacher will ever be believed, a sense of being ‘just’ human is too sad a notion and gives life a sort of emptiness that can only be filled by becoming ‘spiritual’ (it’s like Ahab believing his struggle against the white whale had greater importance than it actually did, after all, the man was simply fishing: I did not read Ishmael’s tale, but I have read some criticisms of it). The second point I would like to make is that, although I had in the past gone to the church in question to smoke marihuana, I was not engaged in that activity on the day in which the church was destroyed due to the events of the story I am about to relate. So what was I doing there? I’ll tell you what I was doing there but I don’t know if you will believe me. I was doing (are you ready for this?) nothing. Do you believe it? Someone in this day and age simply doing nothing is almost unheard of; but believe me when I say that, other than sitting and staring, I was doing nada, bupkis, and zilch. And as I was doing those nothings just mentioned, the first of the horrible occurrences that make up this story began.
Normally I, like others, am not surprised when I hear beeps, buzzes, or any other mechanically produced noise. This is the future we live in, and one can hardly go somewhere that is not electrically charged. Most people carry on their person a mechanical device (phone-cameras usually; as a side note I should mention that the only phone I posses is in my apartment attached to a wall), so it’s not unexpected to hear ringing or vibrations or musical tones coming from passer-by on the street. So as I sat in the last row of the church and heard a soft beep…beep…beep...coming from beneath the floorboards under my feet, I was not surprised, shocked, or stunned. My guess was that someone in the basement of the church had left a microwave unattended, leading it to announce when it had finished its heating cycle (I have since discovered there was no microwave in the basement; just a side-note to help paint a greater picture). The main room of the church, where I was sitting, was usually, except on Sunday mornings, empty. The minister or priest or pastor or whatever you want to call him, would often appear from one of the doors on either side of the stage (that led to the hallways and back offices of the church), only to look around briefly and then turn and go back through the door; what he seemed to be looking for I could never figure out, and in his visual sweep of the room it often appeared as though he did not notice my presence: no offence was taken at his (hopefully) unintended snubbing. There was another man who would occasionally appear; by his actions (sweeping, dusting, scrubbing, etc., etc…) I guessed him to be the custodian. He, unlike the previously mentioned man, would acknowledge my presence with a smile and nod of the head, to which I would respond in kind. Neither of these men had made their presence known as I quietly sat pondering the mysteries of life on that destined-to-be-remembered day. The beeping beneath my feet grew in volume and soon enough the consistent tinny-tone annoyingly filled the echo-inducing room in which I was seated. The bench creaked loudly as I removed my weight and the floorboard creaked even louder as I kneeled down onto it. Through one of the larger splits that separated the floorboards, I placed my eye and looked down into the lighted basement. All that could be seen from the vantage point I was positioned in was the side of a plain brown table, and two folding chairs placed side by side. The beeping continued its regulated pulse and a frustration, caused by this unknown disturbance, filled me and cast a damper over the nothingness that I had been so rudely torn away from. I stayed kneeling in this position for I don’t know how long, when a pair of feet appeared inch’s from where I rested my face against the ground. I was surprised that my concentration had been so intent as to not hear the loud creaking that must have accompanied the footsteps’ approach. I looked up and saw the backside of the custodian. He stood looking at a stained glass depicting a boy throwing seeds to the ground; apparently the custodian was unaware of my kneeling-postured-presence. I decided against making myself known; the custodian finished studying the stained glass and then began walking towards the door to the left of the stage. As he passed through the door, leaving me undiscovered and still on the floor, I heard him mutter “What the hell is that beeping?” I returned to my seat on the uncomfortable back-row-bench, content with the fact that the custodian would discover and turn off whatever was causing the beep…beep…beep. In the distant corridors of the church could be heard doors opening and closing as the custodian searched for the source of the sound. I though it was fairly obvious that the sound was coming from the basement, and didn’t know why the custodian was bothering to check every closet, office, and closed door between where I was and the basement. Figuring he was right to be thorough (the church was always in tip-top shape, I assume due to his thoroughness), I waited patiently to hear him enter the basement and then terminate the noise; instead what occurred was he entered the basement and added to the noise: he screamed, screamed loudly. I was off the bench and back on the floor looking through the split at the two folding chairs and the side of the table. I suppose, looking back, that I should have run to his aid without questioning what caused his shout of fear; but, being the type of person that I am (the type of person who has smoked marihuana in a church…only once, truthfully), I stayed fixed with my eye to the floor, hoping to see something exciting, yet expecting to see something as mundane as spilt coffee, which, like milk, is no use crying over. The beeping continued, steadily marking off the time that seemed to be standing still. The custodian’s shout was followed by a silence that I felt was strange; no footsteps or any movement at all could be heard. My eye stayed fixed, anxiously anticipating some answer to either the beeping or the custodian’s shout. I figured both were connected but I couldn’t figure how. Heavy footsteps began crossing the basement floor below me, coming from the opposite direction in which I knew the custodian had entered and was, by my assessment, still standing. The footsteps were crossing the room to where the custodian was and I heard, with their passing, that the beep…beep…beep was attached to whatever was causing the footsteps. I dared not blink as I saw, lumbering slowly below me in the basement, the grey metallic form of what can only be described as a robot.
As I stated at the beginning of this narrative, I am going to do my best to suppress the urge that grabs most while telling a story, the urge to exaggerate. Yes, there was a robot. I state this as a fact and add none of my imagination to it. What did it look like? I’m glad you asked. It looked like a robot you would expect to find unexpectedly. It walked like a robot would walk: stiff and purposeful; what it’s purpose was I had yet to discover (to this day I’m still caught up in the psychological dispute as to whether or not a robot can have a purpose; quite the conundrum when you think of the whole programmed aspect of it). As the robot passed through and then out of my line of vision, I heard the custodian make his scrambled exit from the basement room he had ignorantly entered. A door slammed shut and the beep…beep…beep stopped its forward movement and maintained a stationary position. Another door in the distance opened and slammed shut; the custodian’s frantic footsteps could be heard approaching in a nearby hall. The door to the right of the stage opened and the custodian entered like a bull being released from its cage. I sat on the bench, leaving the two folding chairs, the side of the table, and the unseen robot in the basement, shifting my gaze instead to the custodian, who was now half way up the aisle heading for the front door. I’ve often considered myself to be fast-enough: my legs are long, my gait is wide; but this custodian was quicker than I could have ever hoped to be, and his legs were at least one-third shorter than mine. (Another quick description of the construction of the church is necessary for this next bit of the story; so here it is: when you enter the front door of the church you find yourself in a small room that has a table lined with different announcements and religious pamphlets and what-have-you; through another door you enter the large main-room in which I was sitting…) The custodian reached the door leading to the small room leading to the outside; he entered the small room and was no longer in my range of sight. I expected him to be out the second door and onto the street with the same quickosity with which he passed from basement, to hallway, to stairway, to hallway, and then through the main-room to the small room; but something caused him to pause and stay within the interior of the church. The scream the custodian had produced when entering the basement and finding the mysterious robot was unsettling, to say the least; but I must admit that the silence the custodian produced while standing solitarily in the small room was much more unsettling: the silence went from awkwardly uncomfortable to downright disturbing. I could not take the suspense any longer, I had to know what the custodian was doing or staring at or thinking about or something as to the cause of the dreary mystery induced silence that I was being subjected to. I slid down the bench towards the center aisle. The bench creaked, cricked, and cracked under my weight. The door from the main room to the small room was left ajar (when is a door not a door? When it’s ajar) and I could see the back of the custodian. The front door of the church was glass and, although the custodian’s frame covered most of my view of it, through it I could see nothing: it appeared not clear like glass, but dark grey like smoke. One by one the shining stained glass pieces were dimmed and robbed of their radiance as what appeared to be a heavy fog swept over the church. The interior of the church was darkened significantly, the sunny day being replaced by a candle filled night. I hadn’t noticed all the candles lit on the back of the ‘stage’ area; I wondered then what I still wonder today: who lit the candles? The custodian? The fog passed and the reverse effect of what I just explained occurred; one by one, the stained glass were lit up and the bright colored lights filled the church as though the sun itself had taken a seat on one of the uncomfortable benches.
This is when the story gets what some might call ‘far fetched’: but I will report only what I saw and what I know to be true having been present when said events took place. A banging, desperate and consistent, began on the glass front door (in front of which the custodian was still standing). I looked to the small room and, for the first time that day, made eye contact with the custodian. He looked back over his shoulder as he held shut the door that was trying to be pulled open by the crowd forming on the side walk in front of the church. His eyes had a pleading appeal in them and I could tell he wanted my help in keeping the door shut against the group that was struggling to enter this place of worship. Not wanting to get involved in other people’s business, I stayed seated on the last-row-bench and watched the diligently heroic efforts of the custodian. I couldn’t get a good enough glimpse of those outside to understand why the custodian was trying as hard as he was to keep them out; but by his effort I guessed that they must present some sort of danger that would warrant their being denied access to a building that would normally not deny entrance to even the most deplorable of citizens. The custodian grunted and groan under the force needed to keep the door shut; I could see he was trying to lock the door, but was unable to, due to not being able to remove one of his hands from the handle for, if he did, the momentary lapse of strength would allow those outside to pull open the door and force themselves in. My way of offering help would have been to go and turn the lock while the custodian kept both his hands gripped tight keeping the door closed. Again: I didn’t want to get involved. If whoever was outside was destined to enter the church, there was nothing I could do to prevent it from happening. The custodian shouted something along the lines of “come help me”, which must have took more energy than he had to spare because, while he was in mid cry-out, the door was pulled open and he was roughly grabbed and pulled outside by arms that looked cut, burned, and infected. The glass door swung shut and through it I could see the custodian being attacked by a group of wild-eyed, frothy mouthed, flesh devouring zombies.
The term zombie can mean many different things. The actual definition I do not know and, to tell you the truth, I am too lazy to look up. I guess zombies are zombies because they are the ‘living dead’; which is itself a paradox. I once saw a movie (starring Bela), where a plantation owner made living humans into brain-dead servants through the use of…I can’t remember if he did it chemically or with some kind Hungarian mind-trick; either way, the movie called them zombies. My question is: if they never actually die, are they actually a zombie? The answer that I answer myself with whenever I confront myself with this quandary is: kind of. They are ‘kind of’ living dead because the chances of them returning to a normal life are slim; they are forced to live a half-life; a life ‘between’ living and death, thereby making them the ‘living dead’…kind of. In the Italian movies (Lucio, Dario, etc…) a zombie will rise from out of the grave and start chasing after you; this is a cut-and-dry case of obvious zombie-ism: the dead rise and live – ‘living dead’ equals zombie…simple. I go through all this in order to explain my use of a term that might be interpreted in several different ways. Were these flesh-eaters outside the door of the church ‘officially’ living dead zombies? I don’t know; but if you had seen them you would agree that the term, although vague, could definitely apply to the fiends who were eating the flesh of the unfortunate custodian.
I decided the time had come to act on behalf of my own self-preservation. The custodian had been right to want to keep these once-human creatures out; unfortunately he wasn’t strong enough to achieve his aim. I got off the bench and slowly walked to the door and flicked the dead-bolt closed. The gruesome group paid little attention to me as they greedily devoured the custodian carcass. They were only a few feet from the glass door, making me feel as though I was standing before the glass of some strange exhibit in an Unnatural Museum of Fantasy. There were eight fiends in total: their cloths were torn; exposing rotted skin covered in boils, abrasions, burns, rashes, and scale-dry patches of flakiness. Their eyes were pure black and their movements sudden and jerky. Blood quickly covered their hands and faces as they torn into the custodian with primordial hunger. When I could no longer stand the sight of the feeding frenzy, I shifted my eyes to the road and for a tense few seconds (in which a loneliness the likes of which I had never felt before washed over me) saw no one and nothing. Finally I saw signs of human life as a small green car sped past (ignoring a red light) at a high rate of speed. I couldn’t remember how long I had been sitting doing nothing in the church, but it was apparent to me that while I was sitting and doing this nothing that I am so found of, something had happened in the outside world; something very strange indeed. Could these events have any possible relation to the robot in the basement? This was my first thought as I walked out of the small room and back into the large main-room of the church. I thought maybe I should explore the church in hopes of finding a radio, which might inform me of what was happening, but I had never ventured out of the main-room and through either of the doors at either side of the stage, which led to the offices and to the staircase, which led down into the basement. I had never gone exploring because it wasn’t my place to do so: I feared being caught snooping, not that I would have been ‘snooping’, just exploring (…maybe a little snooping, to be honest). I figured ‘no better time than the present’ as I approached the door to the left of the ‘stage’. Behind me I heard the front-glass-door shatter: the zombies entered in a disorderly fashion. “Yup,” I said to myself as I opened the door and exited the main-room, “no better time than the present.”
I wish to impart at this point that the callousness and seemingly indifferent attitude, which I’ve applied to the telling of the untimely passing of the custodian, is a result of being a few days removed from these occurrences; I can assure you that on witnessing the passing of this poor individual, I experienced in my heart a despair, a ‘longing’, if you will, owing to the tragic fate that had befallen so thorough a man, as the custodian had, to me, proved himself to be. I must also say that a few short days is all that is needed to make anything shocking seem, in hindsight, normal and natural; because, having been through these events, I’ve gone through the psychological process of accepting these occurrences as proven-realities. As you, the reader, are probably hearing this proof of fantastical truths for the first time, you will most likely be surprised with the cool and casual way in which I am reporting these happenings; my only answer would be for you to return to this story a few days after having read it: you will most likely say “yes, it is a good story, but no, not as shocking as the first time I read it, because now I’m informed to the fact that these events can and did happen. What was once a truth-revealing, eye-opening, thought-provoking tale is now simply another piece of history to be categorized and labeled under: Normal Occurrence.”
The hallway was apart of an addition added onto the church about twenty years prior. Like I said before, I have never left the main-room of the church to explore what lies behind it. The carpet was a speckled mix of purple, grey, and orange, and it met the pristine-white walls perfectly. Above my head were rectangular-shaped halogen lights which ran flush with the white-plaster-board (does that make sense?) ceiling…basically it was an office hallway; the kind you would expect to find in an office building; get it? Framed pictures (bigger than eight-by-tens, yet smaller than posters) were placed in even intervals down the hallway on either side; there were two pictures between each plain-brown-and-windowless doorway. The pictures were inspirational sayings or sunsets or boats with wind in their sails…it doesn’t matter, really; I’m just trying to add atmosphere in order to immerse you in the setting: a hallway, which could be in an office building, is where we are…remember? The first door on my right opened into a closet containing a bucket, a mop, a broom , a vacuum, rags, bottles (some with spray nozzles), a chair with a jacket draped across its back (the custodian’s, I assumed and, to this day, still assume), and a paperback novel lying on the chair; it occurred to me that this was probably where the custodian took his breaks: a pretty dreary relaxation spot if you ask me, but, to each his own. The paperback was of a genre I am not interested in so I left it where it lie…never to be read again. I closed the door and continued on down the hall. By the sounds coming from behind me, I knew the fiend-zombies had made their way through the main-room of the church and were know trying to enter the hallway I was strolling in. Of course I had locked the door and, given what I know about zombies, what we all know, I had no fear in them formulating a plan of how to break the barrier I had presented. Eventually their untiring, unrelenting, undead effort would allow them passage by means of breaking down the door, but until the door buckled and broke I knew I was safe…for a few minutes…at least; right? The next door I opened revealed an office: desk, computer, reclining-swivel-chair, desk lamp with the green class covering, bookshelves containing volumes, a window overlooking the back courtyard of the church (a very nice courtyard that unfortunately plays no role in the telling of this story. A quick description: a stone walkway lined with flowers of purple and red; a fine marble fountain that was large enough to be admired yet small enough so as not to come across as too gaudy within the humble and quaint atmosphere that the courtyard exuded), and a radio. I went to the radio and turned it on: static. For a moment I thought ‘This is it!’, but after tuning to a different station I saw that life (human-kind) had not if fact gone kaput. A deep and radio-ready voice was reporting of the explosions that had taken place, he said: “…still unknown. Reports are coming in, but so far only speculation can be made as to what is causing these seemingly random explosions to occur in the town of ------. The town has been successfully evacuated and…” Successfully evacuated? What about the people in the church; namely: the custodian and me! How could we have missed the rumblings of these mystery explosions? How could an evacuation have taken place without my knowledge? I figured sirens would accompany a complete and thorough (like the custodian) evacuation. The door at the end of the hallway buckled and, to my distress, the zombies entered the hallway.
No, I did not lock myself in the office; because, if I had, the zombies would have eventually broken through that door and then I would have been trapped and turned into a meal. Why didn’t you jump out the window and into the courtyard, which you described so beautifully? I will tell you, bold reader, that I did not exit said window because it would have been impossible: instead of a normal, two piece slide-it-up-it’s-open type of window, the church had installed these slatted, sectional-opening, metal framed, post-industrial, make-it-hard-for-someone(me!)-to-crawl-through windows…get it? I couldn’t fit through the openings provided, and the metal would have been hard to break...simple. It was a risky move to exit the office, seeing as though I didn’t know the lay out of the church and therefore might find myself trapped either way I went, but I followed my gut instinct and ran as fast as I could out of the office and into the hall going (obviously) in the direction opposite of those gurgling and gross zombie-fiends. My sudden appearance in the hallway caused a great arousal of excitement to occur within the deceased and diseased destroyers who threatened my very existence. They picked up their pace as fast as their unsteady legs would (could) allow, but I, being fast-enough (as I mentioned earlier) did not fear they would catch me before I reached the door at the end of the hallway; behind which I planned on safely locking myself while looking for the hopefully available exit. Yes, I was fast-enough, barely, and beyond that door at the end of the hall, which I just passed through and locked, and which was now being beaten upon by the withered and withering hands of the woefully-unaware-they-are-zombies fiends, I found not another office-hallway as I expected, but a carpeted staircase that led, curving, down and down and down. No other option was available, so I had to go wherever the stairs brought me, which unfortunately was the direction in which the robot was maintaining his position beneath the main-room of the church. I knew that I would have to travel beneath the hallway I had just traversed down before reaching the room housing the robot, and my only hope was that there would be some exit between here and there. I proceeded down the stairs and was met at the bottom by a plain-brown-door similar to those in the office-hallway. I listened for a moment to the echo that was produced within the spiral staircase by the incessant beating on the door above; the echo was louder than I though a carpeted space could produce. I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised by the strength of the echo, seeing as though what was causing it was much more interesting; namely: zombies. I turned the handle, opened the door, walked off the carpet on which I stood, through the open doorway, onto the concrete floor of the downstairs hallway, closed the door behind me, and then walked forward along the cement, windowless hallway, which led to a plain-brown-wooden door that I guessed (correctly) to be the entrance of the room containing the robot.
The lights (three of’em that there were) in the cement hallway were nothing more than bare bulbs hanging from a foot-long and frayed grey cord. The cords ran along the whole length of the ceiling and were fastened on by once glossy, now faded, pieces of red tape. After walking through the nicely lit, air-conditioned, carpeted normalcy of the office hallway, and then the soft carpeted coziness of the descending twirling staircase, this cement enclosure I found myself in seemed completely out-of-place. Why the flow and feel had been rudely interrupted in this lower hallway I do not know: if there is another way to enter the basement room (in which were the table, at least two folding chairs, and robot) I was unaware of it; my point being: if the basement is ever used for church purposes (as the sight of the table and folding chairs led me to believe it was), why would the priest or minister or pastor or whatever-his-title-is allow this tomb-like passage to remain as dreary and unwelcoming as it was. Non-carpeted stairs would have made more sense if this is what follows them.
I went to the door of the room containing the robot and put my ear to it. Beep…beep…beep. If the door had a keyhole I would have looked through it, but the door didn’t, so I didn’t, because I didn’t have the choice to make…the option wasn’t there…understand: what I’m saying is this: there was no keyhole to look through, if there had been I certainly would have used its minute passage to stealthily sneak a gaze at whatever could be seen. This door was the first I’d seen in the church to not have a locking mechanism. A thought suddenly occurred to me: Had I locked the door at the bottom of the carpeted-staircase? As if in response to my question, a large cracking noise was heard not to far off. My guess was that the zombies had breached the obstacle that was keeping them from getting one step closer to me; the obstacle being the door at the top of the stairs. I was correct in my assumption (of course) and the next sound I heard was the rumble and tumble of eight crazed undead savages falling, as one, head-over-heels down the carpeted stairway; only to stop with a thud at the closed door, which I hoped I had remembered to lock. I sprinted across the cement hallway/tomb and stopped a few feet from the door. Groaning and struggling could be heard as the zombies tried to right themselves from the tangled mess they were in. I wanted to reach out and check the lock but, for some strange reason, I felt a stronger urge to see the zombies piled helplessly; defenseless as kittens snagged in a ball of yarn. I couldn’t resist myself and, without giving it as much thought I as most definitely should have, I pulled open the door. Well, we all make mistakes in life; some are more easily definable than others; call someone you haven’t seen in a long time by the wrong name: mistake, but not that bad; open a door, behind which are zombies desirous of eating you: mistake, and potentially life threatening. I expected to find a tangled, disordered mass of broken and incompetent undead fiends (I thought they would be injured from the fall; why would I think that?), instead I found the same frothy-mouthed viciousness that had come after me upstairs. Sure, they were lying one-on-top-of-the-other in a somewhat comedic pile, but in no way were they suffering any injuries that would cause them to abandon their pursuit of me. I tried to close the door on them but, seeing as though there was little room for them at the bottom of the stairs, this proved impossible. Legs and arms fell towards me the moment I had opened the door. If I had left the door shut, they would have needed a few minutes to arrange themselves and begin their battery on the door; my opening the door gave them ample room to spread their limbs and quickly push themselves, and each other, to an upright position. It was at this time that I decided to find out what the robot was up to. (Side Note: the zombie fiends ran down that cement hallway faster than I thought possible; luckily it did take them a moment or two to get on their feet, which gave me a few seconds head start down the hallway – but let me tell you that an anger, because of, or due to, their fall down the stairs, seemed to pour over them and encourage them to put all their strength into the action of coming after me and me alone!)
The plain-brown-door opened into the basement-room. Yes, the robot was there, but I’ll get to that in a second. I closed the door and, because there was no locking mechanism, leaned my back against it in the futile effort of trying to keep out the marauding fiends who would soon be charging full-speed-ahead into the door I was uselessly positioned against. The running tread in the hallway was increasing in volume due to the sound’s source’s approach…does that make sense? What I’m trying to say is the that the sound of the fiend’s feet against the cement hallway got louder as they got closer…simple, right? Anyway, I did a quick visual sweep of the basement: tan-tiled floors, cement walls like in the hall way, thick boards lined the ceiling (which is the floor of the main room, where I was peeking through the floorboards…remember?), the plain-brown table was where I expected it to be, as were the two grey-folding chairs, there were two other chairs that I had not been able to see earlier, no windows, a single bare bulb, exactly like the three in the hallway, hung in the center of the room. That is a basic description of the basement room, I could see know that the cement hallway was probably unfinished and not purposefully made to be so dreary, because, seeing the humble set-up that was the basement, I saw that the basement was probably never used; instead, I imagined, all meetings could take place above ground in one of the offices that lined the carpeted office-hallway. The fact that they carpeted the staircase only goes to show that they had full intentions of finishing off the cement-hallway and basement room. One last feature of the room that I should mention, because it plays a great role in the telling of this story, is of the cement staircase, which led up four steps and then stopped flat against the wall; at first glance it appeared to go nowhere; at second glance it appeared as though it should go somewhere (like to a doorway or magic-portal or something); at third glance it was apparent that it did, in fact, lead somewhere: directly above the last step one of the thick ceiling/floorboards was equipped with a trap door. I had never sat in all the rows of all the benches, so I was not too surprised to see this old-school passage for coming-and-going.
All right, are you ready? I hope you are, because this is where the story, in my opinion, really starts popping with excitement, action, and entertainment. I’ve explained the church to the best of my abilities; I’ve explained the zombie-fiend flesh-eaters; I’ve explained how I can so calmly, and with fine mental-reasoning, explain these awesome events; I’ve done all I can to supply some sort of style to the prose (a somewhat suave style, if you were to ask me) you are holding in your hands. (Yes, I speak of entertainment; I realize that if this is not executed accordingly, it will be tossed aside and ignored; whereas if there is some enjoyment involved in the reading of this, the facts and the education taken will be that much more retained by the reader. I am first and foremost reporting the truth of the events that took place; do not mistake my task: an obligation to share the truth is what I feel I must do, which is what I am doing…you’re welcome.
All right, here is where the story kicks into high gear:
The robot (shiny, eight-feet-tall if it was an inch, appearing as though it had been recently waxed) raised its hand, from the joint at its shoulder, and pointed a sleek gun (laser) at my chest. This action was what most-definitely caused the custodian to scream in the way that he did; I felt that would probably have been my response if I was the custodian: but I, unlike him, the custodian, knew what was waiting for me and therefore was not warranted to let out a shout of surprised-terror. The robot took its first lumbered step towards me. The zombies crashed into the door with a force that caused me to be pitched forward onto my knees, and caused the door to buckle in violently, jamming itself into the doorframe; they would be through this door quicker than they had made it through any of the previous ones. Through the split in the door, which their charge had caused, came flailing arms searching for your’s truly. The robot took another step and then another and, before I could get to my feet, was just a foot-or-so in front of me. His arm came down (I was still on my knees) and pointed the gun (laser) at me. You, the reader, might be shocked by what I have to tell you next; but for reasons known only to me, the writer, I have chosen to omit, until now, the last person we will meet in the church; a person who had been sitting in the basement, I suppose, for the whole duration of the story I have told thus far; chances are he was in there when the custodian entered, and chances are he was in there when the mysterious fog-cloud momentarily covered the church…chances are he had been there for who-knows-how-long. I’ll give you one guess as to who it was, because I don’t think you’ll need more than that…beep…beep…beep…did you guess? If you guessed it was the minister or priest or preacher (which I guessed you would): You’re right! It was that man of which I apply so many titles.
The titled man sat on the tile floor, with his back against the wall furthest from me. He rested his head on his knees; when he looked up at me I saw his eyes were red and puffy as though he had been crying. The gun (laser) was pointed at my face, the door (and only protection against being eaten alive) was seconds from no longer being a door, and I, on my knees, could think of only one thing to do; namely: to shout at the titled man. I can’t remember my exact words, but I’ll do my best in paraphrasing. I said: “----! The trapdoor, man! ------’ ----, man; what are you doing here? Does it open? Is this ------’ robot gonna’ shoot me? They’re almost through the door! Who’s program is this ----?” I pointed at the robot. “Your’s? Is he going to sho…the door! ----! Get up, we’re getting; does this open?” The robot was smooth in its movements; I felt it follow me with its (hopefully not) trigger ready titanium fingers, which held the gun (laser) pointed fixedly on my head and/or chest area. I ran up the cement steps and tried my hardest to unlatch the trapdoor and push it up so I could escape the basement-room and again be within the (now empty; again: hopefully) main-room of the church. Rust covered the latch and made it hard to undue; I eventually slid it to the open/unlocked position. The trapdoor was heavy but with a good amount of pressure I was able to get it to budge up and open slightly: a good solid push was needed to open it all the way, I would have liked the help of the titled man: but he did not move, nor did he answer any of the shouting that I directed in his direction. With a grunting and groaning that would have made any zombie fiend proud, I pushed up with all my strength and got the trapdoor to go up and fall away from me and land open on the floor of the main room (get it? I opened the trapped door: simple). I was in the posture and position necessary to pull myself up through the trap door, out of the basement room, and into the main room; but I paused, not wanting to leave the sullenly morose titled man to an eminent destruction: I had already, possibly, done too little in helping prevent one man’s (the custodian) passing at the hands of these fiends, if I could prevent another death (that of the titled man’s), possibly I could feel some atonement for not doing more to prevent the thorough existence’s passing. I shouted something along the line of: “Get off the floor! ----; the door, man, the door! Look at the -------- door!” The titled man did look at the door, but he was unfazed by the arms and heads and shoulders of the zombie fiends who were just seconds from spilling into the basement room. The titled man shouted: “He won’t let me go!” The titled man pointed to the robot; he then continued, saying: “He won’t let anything happen to me either.” His voice broke into sobs: the door cracked open and the zombies charged in.
Zombies are not picky when it comes to food. They entered the room and instantly were drawn to the titled man, leaving me free pull myself up through the trap door and out of the basement. The trap door was in the third-to-the-last row, just two rows in front of where I was sitting at the beginning of this narrative. The main room was drafty, due to the zombies having smashed through the glass-front-door; but other than that (and the smashed-down door to the left of the stage; again, caused by zombie perseverance), the main room appeared as it normally did. The sounds that came from the basement were savage, futuristic, and sickeningly real. I got on my hands and knees and lowered my head through the trap door to see what strange events were causing these fascinating sounds. The titled man was silent as the zombie-fiends tried to attack and devour him: I say ‘try’ because their efforts were being thwarted by the gun (laser) that the robot held in his hand and fired with fierce accuracy. The robot’s movements, while still appearing slow, were smooth and steady enough to fire upon any zombie fiend who got within grabbing distance of the titled man. The gun shot not bullets, but blasts of bright yellow light (lasers). The light (laser) connected with the zombies and caused them to reel back and lose their footing. Where the light (laser) hit them, a smoking burn was left on the scabby skin and shoddy cloths of the zombie attackers. The zombies paid little attention to the robot; instead they just kept getting up and running towards the titled man. Again and again they were shot back by the…by the…by the laser gun: there, I said it: the robot had a Laser Gun! The titled man kept his head rested on his drawn up knees; the robot had things under control so I shouted to the titled man (from where I hung down through the trapdoor): “Come on! The robot’s got you covered!” The titled man looked at me and this time there were definite tears in his eyes; he shouted back at me: “He won’t let me leave, he was sent to keep me safe.” To which I shouted: “It’s not safe down there.” To which he replied: “It’s not safe up there either, son; it’s not safe up there either.”
Ominous; that is the way it felt standing in the main room of the church: empty; a chill inducing draft; the sun’s light waning with the creeping approach of dusk; the muting of stained-glass; silence; the whistle of the wind; silence; silence; silence. The titled man’s breathing was white noise that could only be distinguished if one was purposefully trying to recognize it. The beep…beep…beep was eerily absent. No inarticulate utterances or jerky gesticulations were heard from the undead-zombie-fiends; my guess (correct) being that the consistent blast of the Laser Gun had finally destroyed enough of the zombies as to render them dead amongst the undead: they were now a useless pile of slightly twitching, terribly odorous, severed, singed, and charred remains (I confirmed my hypothesis by, again, leaning down through the trap door; the titled man still sat against the wall, and when the robot heard me look into the room, the Laser Gun was soon pointed at my person: I was glad the robot had the programmed foresight to not destroy those who were in no way trying to harm the tilted man. The pile of zombies was actually several smaller piles; as opposed to the one large mess I expected to find; why did I think there would only be one pile? It was obvious that the zombies would be running to-and-fro trying to get at the titled man, so obviously the robot would be shooting lasers in every direction necessary).
At the broken-glass-front-door I stood, looking out over the desolate solitude of the abandoned town. No cars sped by, nor did I expect them to: this was an evacuated town; evacuated except for two (at least). As I stared out at the clouds that were gathering in the deep-getting-darker blue sky, I realized that just outside the door, on the top step of the church, were the remains of the most thorough of souls: the custodian. I kept my eyes elevated, purposefully; I did not want to look down at what was left of the man I hadn’t really known outside of pleasantly pleasing passing phrases uttered to one another in the hush-hush environment that is the main room of the church, I did not want to see what had been done by the fiends to this noble man; a man who read paperback books while sitting in a broom closet; the books may have been of a genre I am not particularly interested in, but that does not belittle the simple pleasure this man must have received from having read them. As the billowy-white forms filled the sky, a thought occurred to me, making it possible for me to look at the custodian with a greater respect placed on his life. He seemed to say: “Yes, I am dead, why would you avert your eyes? Do not weep for me, for I weep not for you.” A smile formed on my lips as I spoke aloud to the battered remnants, I said: “What a fool I have been in judging you. You didn’t take your breaks in the broom closet; why would I think that you did? You spent your time in the beautiful back-courtyard, I bet, reading your book and enjoying the quaint setting as thoroughly as any man could hope to.”
If this is where the story was to end, I would be a happy man. Bittersweet? Maybe. Do some questions remain unanswered? Yes, which is something I (like all readers) hate. But I must say if this were the end of my story, I would be happy; because what happens next involves the destruction of the church, an action I stated would happen (at the begging of this narrative…remember?), but to this moment still wish that I didn’t have to report. I liked the church; in fact, you might even say I loved that church. I spent a lot of time within those walls silently contemplating life’s great tragedies; if it were up to me the church would have remained as it was till the end of time. As you will soon read, nothing in my powers could have prevented the circumstances that brought about its end.
A rumbling shook me to my core; a strange rumbling that appeared not to be shaking the ground below my feet, but instead shaking the very air itself. The vibration resounded louder within my human-skeletal-form: something was approaching. A searing light shot down through a cloud that was on the not-too-distant horizon. The laser-light was a brilliant neon-green and came from a source that could not be seen, due to the fact that it was hidden above, or within, a cloud. The laser struck ground roughly six or seven streets away from where I stood in the entryway of the church. The explosion that the laser-beam caused was heard but not seen, due to the fact that many buildings lie in the visual path between me and the point at which the laser touched down, but the cloud of smoke that rose, in just a second or two, showed the enormity of destruction that had just been wrought by whatever was floating hidden within the clouds. In the cloud of smoke that formed (due to the explosion) could be seen car parts and other random debris that were sent flying a good thirty or forty-feet into the air. Because of dusk’s settling, I at first (ignorantly) assumed the explosion-smoke was of a natural earth-type-explosion color: grey and white wisps; as the smoke cloud spread from its initial contact point and rolled closer and closer to where I stood, I noticed the smoke was of a light-pink hue that faded to a deep purple deeper within…does that make sense: the smoke that was closest to me appeared light-pink, the smoke a few streets behind that appeared dark-purple (it was all the same color, but the heavier consistency made it look…never mind, lets get back to the story). As the purple smoke got closer I realized this must be what cloaked the church earlier in momentary darkness; another thought quickly occurred to me: after that smoke had passed over the church is when the zombie-fiends appeared: possibly this purple smoke, caused by the laser-beam’s destruction, is what caused the few non-evacuated people, who were heading for the safety of the church (I presume), to turn into the zombie-creatures. It was a lot for my mind to handle, but I was able to deduce it all down to this: if the smoke had possibly caused those once-normal people to become the zombie-fiends they know are (in small piles on the basement floor), then obviously the purple-smoke would have the same effect on me!
The broken-glass-front-door of the church would do nothing to prevent this zombie-transforming smoke from passing over me; thereby turning me into…I shudder at the thought. I ran faster than I had in my whole life (very, I repeat: very fast) through the main room of the church, through the smashed-through door at the side of the stage, halfway down the office-hallway, and then back into the office I had been in earlier. I quickly closed the windows (I explained them earlier) and then sat down on the swivel chair behind the desk. The door was closed and the windows too; it was all I could do, the rest was left up to chance. I didn’t know how large of a dose of the purple-smoke was needed to cause the transformation, but I felt secure in my closed-room position. “What’s his name!” I shouted as the first curling pink smoke tendrils appeared outside the window. By ‘what’s his name’ I was of course referring to the titled man who was in the exposed basement. Exposed meaning: the smoke would have no trouble flowing smoothly through the warped floorboards and open trapdoor, and then into the titled man’s nostrils; causing him to transform into…again, I shudder at the thought of that cruel fate befalling anyone. My only hope was that the robot who was, apparently, programmed to protect the titled man, had some adequate and tactical response to the occurrence that was now happening: for example, maybe the robot had oxygen tanks the titled man could use, or maybe the robot had an antidote to prevent the zombie reaction form occurring; ether way, I hoped that the robot had some means of assisting the titled man in this time of emergency. I walked to the window and watched as the serene setting of the courtyard was blocked from my view as the smoke became thicker and darker, until what appeared to be purple velvet covered the outside of the window. The office was much darker with the sunlight blocked out. The lamp with the green-glass-covering shone dimly on the desk. To my great relief I saw no purple/pink smoke pass through either the window frame or doorframe: my plan had worked! Slowly, like the first time the church was blanketed with sorrow-inducing darkness, the dark-purple faded to light pink and then was gone, leaving in its presence the last rays of the setting sun. I waited a few moments and then, when I felt the air had cleared and I was safe to do so, opened the door of the office and stepped into the hallway.
Most people, at sometime in their life, have witnessed, either on television or in person, a fireworks display. Several displays are made each year during a particular summer month in which a day is dedicated to our independence from…from someone (I’m not a history major; in fact, I’m not a major in anything): the reason I bring up these pyrotechnic pleasantries is to bring to your mind what happens at the end of said events; namely: The Grand Finale. The grand finale of any fireworks display (as I’m sure you already know), is when several fireworks are sent flaring through the air at once; creating a multicolored, overlapping madness that dwarfs the singular or double-shot fireworks that preceded it. All that occurred before is seen in hindsight as just a build up to this awe-provoking climax. Ladies and Gentlemen, Valiant Readers who have braved their way through the dreary ambience of the preceding pages, I give you now, as a reward for your pursuit of the truth, the Grand Finale…
I stepped into the hallway and listened to the silence. Beep…beep…beep. The robot caught my attention with its renewal of beeping activities. I passed the length of hallway that led back to the main room: darkness had now made its claim; night had won its daily battle over day; the candles cast soft, wavering light that was just strong enough to fill the main room and allow vision to be possible. I stepped slowly, with a caution for I know not what, towards the open trap door in order to see if the titled man was alive, well, and not zombie-fied as I feared he might be. The floorboards creaked loudly under my feet, they seemed to groan under the weight I placed on them; a cold gale passed through the smashed-glass-front-door, its moaning entrance blended perfectly with the floorboards creaks and cracks: the sounds blended until they sounded in a unified lament for the life I was leaving behind: the life that didn’t include such horrific memories as I will undoubtedly have for the remainder of my days. I reached the open trapdoor, got on my hands and knees, and dropped my head down through the passage to see the fate of that oh-so-morose titled man. I found him sitting in the same position that he had maintained throughout the entire telling of this story; only now he wore a clear mask over his face that was attached to a tube that was attached to the robot; my guess had been correct (again), it appeared as though the robot had anticipated the pink/purple smoke, and therefore had been equipped with an oxygen producing system. The titled man removed his mask and let it fall to the ground at his feet (the robot effortlessly reeled in the slack until the tube and mask were sucked into a small panel that opened and closed in as little time as was needed to return the oxygen mask to its place of containment/concealment. Side Note: the Laser Gun was pointed at me). “The sun has set.” The titled man said, faintly and seemingly to himself. “They will be here momentarily.” “Who will be here?” I said as blood rushed to my head (due to my upside down positioning). “I thought they were…” The titled man’s voice caught in his throat; he composed himself and spoke with a conviction that I suppose I would have heard him use had I ever been to the church on a Sunday morning: “I doubted them at first, but I pushed my doubts aside. I wanted to believe! I wanted it to be truth! Now I have the truth; but it won’t quench my beliefs. I’ll continue on in my mission; whether here or…or…elsewhere.” I responded with a simple question: “What the ---- are you talking about?” To which he replied: “They came from above; I thought their presence was a blessing; but they do not come from the spiritual ‘above’ like I thought; they come from the endlessly-empty above that surrounds us all.” I was about to repeat my simple question, but I was interrupted by the shake of the floorboards, walls, benches, stained-glass…the church was alive for a moment: alive with a pulsating intensity. It was brought to life by the vibrations caused by what was floating above it. I remember the Laser Beam that had descend from above, or within, the clouds; the destruction I had seen it cause, and the purple/pink smoke that followed it: whatever was within that far off cloud was now directly above the church; I bit my lip and expected to be instantly annihilated by the neon-green Laser; I hoped my death would be quick and painless: in no way did I want to be left half-dead and deserted (or injured and zombied). The hovering craft above the church was not interested in putting the titled man’s life in danger (for reasons that will, to the best of my reasoning, be disclosed), so, to my great relief, I was not put in the path of the destruction-creating Laser; my life was spared in that regard.
The great arch of the ceiling cracked, causing wooden splinters to fall like autumn leaves to the ground around me. The crack became larger and soon shingles began dropping and hitting the floor with a force that would have caused me some sort of injury had I been hit by them. The heavy vibrations continued as the roof was ripped into (by what, I did not know), causing the stained glass to shimmy, shake, and eventually, in an irregular order, shatter inwards, sending multi-colored glass-fragments to shower over the floor, benches, and me: the sound the glass made when hitting the floor was like that of a sudden torrent of rain. My arm was bleeding from where a piece of highly velocitied red glass had torn into it. As the crack/split in the ceiling grew larger and larger, more debris of greater volume and weight began to fall. I ran this way and that, avoiding the large chunks of plaster, wood, and brick that were now crashing down all around me. The split in the ceiling was now a large hole: the wind whipped through all the available openings, causing the smaller pieces of debris to be caught up in the gusts and breezes the howling wind produced. Looking up through the hole in the roof, I saw stars: thousands upon thousands of glittering, glinting points of light set against the blackness that is the unknown region we call: Space. The stars were soon eclipsed by what I, at first, thought was a cloud; I rubbed at my eyes to make sure my vision was sound and not hindered by the dust the wind was blowing to-and-fro. No, my eyes were not deceiving me: floating above the church was a shiny, circular, grey-metal ship (flying saucer, for lack of a better term). Attached to the bottom of the ship were two elongated protrusions, which I assumed to be the source of the neon-green laser beam that caused so much destruction, and the tool used to tear apart the top of the church without causing as much damage. I stood in awe; silently I stared at the hovering craft above me: the craft that I now knew to be the cause of all the day’s tragic occurrences. The church continued to buckle and break without assistance from the ship: bricks fell and crashed hard against the floorboards; stained-glass shards continued to break free and fall unhampered to the floor; shingles and large pieces of ceiling fell down and through the heavy dust that had filled the large main room. The candles were almost all blown out, except for those that had glass coverings protecting them from the wind, and darkness stole over the battered interior. With the dust mixing with the low-light emissions of the few candles, I felt as though I was in an old, grainy, silent movie-reel.
Due to the sounds of destruction, I did not hear the titled man come up through the trap door and approach where I stood gazing up. I felt his hand on my shoulder (the surprise of which caused me to jump). He wore a weak smile on his face and spoke loudly in order to be heard above the wind, wreckage, and flying saucer vibrations, he said: “I wanted to believe they were something other than what, in my heart, I knew them to be. They seemed to understand my prayers, but in the end they took it all too literality. They demanded I come with them, in order to spread the word to others; they claimed good faith and declared they would help me here before taking me elsewhere. That’s why they destroyed the town; do you understand? They think this is what I want! They think this is what I teach!” My thoughts tried to make sense of his raving: from what I could gather, he assumed these extra-terrestrial to be Angels of some sort, which were sent to him for…for…for I don’t know what; but evidently they misinterpreted his message and set in motion the events which I have just described. The titled man shouted: “I was given permission to bring along someone for human companionship; I intended on asking the custodian to join me, but he is now…” he chocked up, and then continued: “if you would like to join me you can, although I must say I have no idea what will occur.”
A panel on the bottom of the vibration-emitting flying saucer slid smoothly aside; a deep blue glow seemed to fill the interior of the room through which you were to enter if you passed through the opening exposed by the smooth sliding panel just mentioned…I’m sure you understand what I mean. Through the opening came a device similar to those fasten at the bottom of the ship: I feared what kind of gun this would prove to be; thankfully, for my sake at least, this new apparatus was not used in destructive purposes (unless you consider abduction a destructive act; which, come to think of it, is a destructive act: destructive to the physical and mental well being of the abductees; namely, in this case: the titled man). I retract my previous statement! Destructive purpose indeed did these new apparatus have! A blue spotlight shone bight from the apparatus that had appeared through the exposed panel on the bottom of the ship. The spotlight fell upon the titled man who stood at my left. The light appeared thick as fog; it was soft on the eyes to look at; yet was bright enough to block out what lay beyond it (you couldn’t ‘look through’ the light). The titled man could barley be seen, immersed in the light as he was, but his hand, clear as can be, reached out from the light and sought my grip. Slowly his body was pulled, guided, up, up into and through the blue haze of foggy radiance. As he left the safety of the floorboards and floated up and away from me, so did the hand he had extended towards me: I did not reach out: I did not want to go. When he passed through the opening on the bottom of the ship, the spotlight ceased to be and the panel slid smoothly back into position with the titled man safely inside. Half the roof of the church was gone (thrown to the wind or scattered at my feet), so my view was unobstructed as the flying saucer lifted higher into the air; it stopped just when I was going to lose sight of it behind the roving packs of clouds that patrolled the dark and unmovable night: the ship stopped and I wondered if they were looking back at the destruction they had caused, I thought maybe it was possible that the titled man was not handling things well, and the extra-terrestrials were deciding if it was worth bringing a crazy person out into the deep recesses of space and beyond: a second or two passed and the ship lit up with twirling bright blues, spinning neon greens, oscillating yellows and reds, pinks, purples: color upon color radiate from the ship, which I thought had no lights on it what-so-ever: now I saw that the ship was all light; what I thought to be metal was obviously some space-age-technology designed to dazzle the eye, amaze the mind, and illuminate the heart with respect to what is possible, hope for what can be accomplished, reverie for what others have done, and a singular sense of being one with all, equal with every ---- out there, and appreciative of being aware that you are unique in the sense that there is one, and only one, you: never to be duplicated, never to be replaced, always to be remembered by the greater mind because you, the avant-garde creation that you are, are as integral to the whole scheme-of-things as anyone else living, dead, undead, or yet to be.
Conclusion: As I stated at the beginning of this narrative, the church is in the process of being rebuilt, as are the town hall, school, houses, businesses: it’s really quite impressive how quickly the town is putting itself back together. It seems that a lot of homes, and a few businesses, remained untouched, but for the most part the destruction was thorough (much like you-know-who). It also amazes me that so many of the town’s folk were uninjured due to the evacuation process that went on unnoticed by me. The church seems to have been the center of the destruction. The initial ‘unknown’ explosion happened on the very outskirts of the town; the zombie-change happened to one person after the initial blast: the zombie-man was shot (repeatedly) and by the time the second and third explosions hit, most of the town’s folk were gone. The lack of sirens was because the evacuations included the police and fire departments too (the police and firemen who remained were heroically trying to evacuate those in the hospital when the fifth ‘mystery’ explosion caused the hospital to no longer be). I told my story (this story) to anyone who would listen, but for some reason I was met with hard glances and accusational stares; even after seeing the robot (which, since its mission was through, had turned itself off, never to be turned on again) they still disbelieved my flying-saucer-abducting-the-titled-man story. I’m not being blamed for the disappearance of the titled man (they assume he was one of the many who had perished in the explosions), or for the death of the custodian (the police understood that the zombies were responsible); I’m not in any trouble for anything because everyone knows I did nothing wrong: but the fact that I am not believed when I say I have the answer to the mysterious explosions bothers me; sure, a few of the weird-o newspapers have interviewed me and plan on doing a story, but people don’t believe those lying gossip rags. That is why I’ve chosen to write this informative piece of literature: people need to know what’s out there, and it’s the responsibility of those informed to share information.
The town had made up some silly story about the explosions (natural causes, or something along that line) and the whole zombie angle has been played down to the point of not being reported at all. I think the town knows there was an unidentified flying object; but they don’t want to expose themselves to whacko researches, unwanted media attention, or sci-fi stargazers; understandably.
I have a feeling that those who read this will inevitably say: “I would have gone with the titled man onto the spaceship. That writer’s an idiot; he should be flying through space right now blah, blah, blah.” When you’re given the choice of whether or not to leave the solar system, then you can talk. Happy traveling, if you do choose to go: as for me, I’m happy here on Earth, for the time being; if given the opportunity again in the future maybe I will respond differently…we’ll have to wait and see.
So that’s it.
A quick review: Aliens made contact with a human (the titled man). The titled man thought they were heaven-sent. The aliens liked his religious spiel and decided to take the titled man with them. As an offering they ‘cleansed’ the town (misinterpreting the tone and text in which the titled man spoke and read), while assigning a robot to protect the man while the destruction took place (I suppose they though the titled man would enjoy seeing the destruction they were executing on his behalf).
That’s it; the end of the story; all I’ve got to report…I must say I don’t want this to end; perhaps I should write one more scene in order to leave you with some atmosphere. This is what happened after the ship was gone from sight and I was left standing alone in the windswept church:
Silence fell heavy; lying over the church like a thick wool blanket. No wind moaned; no beeps beeped; the creaking and cracking of what remained of the church was momentarily stifled: all was calm, dark, and peaceful: three candles burned softly; the stars shone unfettered; the single cloud that remained in my sight appeared to be a cushion, upon which I wished to rest my head…I removed the plastic bag from my pocket; from my other pocket I removed a lighter and glass-pipe. I emptied some of the contents of the plastic bag into the glass-pipe, then put the pipe to my lips and prepared to light and deeply inhale the contents it now held; when I tried to light my lighter a gust of wind tore through the church with screaming vengeance: the flame on my lighter was blown out, as were the three candles that had remained burning; my hair was whipped in all directions as the howling gale resounded loudly in my ears. With an aching moan of surrender, the structure of the church that remained standing buckled, bent, and then fell, one broken wall at a time, crashing to the ground around me. Dust and grime covered me from head-to-toe: I looked at the panoramic view of the destruction in which I was immersed. I was no longer in a church, I was now standing on the warped wooden floorboards, in the open air of the exposed outside, of what used to be, and will be again, a church. The wind stopped. My lighter lit and I inhaled. I walked forward and stopped between the two statutes that stood unharmed on either side of what used to be the stage. Their faces were unmoved by what had occurred around them: I understood why.