I created this image, and wrote this corresponding story in 2015. I’m almost certain I published it here, but can’t find record of it anywhere, aside from the uploaded image. Regardless, here it is now.
Certainly not always, but sometimes I look back at past creations and wonder how they came out of me. I wouldn’t be able to pull this concept out of me today. I’m grateful my creativity changes and grows, but I’m interested in these old sparks, a different me persued, all the same.
The destruction of the day could be seen in his words. His typically cheerful smile turned sour. He tried to be strong, but there was a tremor in his voice. He said he was fine, but I could see the darkness behind his eyes. This was no longer the boy I once knew. This person in front of me was a man, and he was terrified.
It all started a few weeks ago. Those creatures with their lanky appendages filled the city. One by one, each household was joined by a new grey faced member with no interest in being a part of the family.
My house was spared. We lived on a hill at the edge of the city and could remain fairly unaware of the events of the day. It was a Sunday and I slept and slept under the warmth of my favorite quilt. I dreamt of fields of tall flowers, of the wind in my hair. While I lived within my mind, he, from what I can tell, experienced the worst of it all.
His baby sister was selected to be moved to the government building. No matter how much he pleaded and fought, he was no match for the five new civilians that came to deliver her to her new home. His mother, as was her normal defense, went along with it all. She stared blankly ahead, murmuring ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and cracking half smiles at the grunts and grins she assumed were meant humorously.
He dragged his feet through the town, ignoring the pounding behind his new black eye. It had been made clear that everyone should stay inside, but he couldn’t stand to watch his zombified mother, and he was determined to find his baby sister.
The government building was just a few blocks away. What did they want with a baby there? He didn’t even try to hide. Their eyes were everywhere, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Each of the creatures that saw him in the street let him pass. It was clear he was broken and was of little threat. His heart was just barely red. The grey had taken over, and that was the ultimate goal.
Little did they know, this boy was different.
That red he still held was full of determination. Yes, bodily he was broken. They had succeeded there. But he had a purpose and wasn’t done yet. Night soon fell, and he stood outside the government building- watching, plotting. But after such little time, it appeared he was too late. She was there, not ten feet in front of him, being loaded into some sort of vehicle. She had always had a glow, a cheerfulness that was evident miles away, but something had changed. She was immobile, her eyes completely black. She didn’t struggle. She was still and at peace. This was not his sister, simply some other vessel.
He spun around, panicked. The grey in him spread. He looked down the path of which he had come. The dark empty streets were now filled. A massive hoard of once neighbors and friends stepped toward him. Their eyes black like his sisters. Their souls emptied from them. They made their way to the government building to be loaded in vehicles one by one. The younger, the more valuable. But the creatures would find use for the old. Each person filled with grey was malleable.
He hadn’t noticed her at first. But there was his mother. She led the crowd. Her eyes stared straight ahead, but they were unchanged from their normal blue. One of the oldest in the city. Maybe she wasn’t worth much to them. Then he saw others. Just a few in the crowd as they passed him. Each following out of duty rather than transformation. But their time was even less than those who were grey. The creatures knew of them and were ready. Any potential rebellion, no matter by those of what age, was unacceptable. The town people were loaded one by one into over 50 vehicle-like objects.
Those whose eyes still saw we’re moved aside and hurdled into one group.
Before he realized it, the ground opened up under said group and they were swallowed whole by the earth.
The vehicles then flashed into a beam of light and disappeared.
He had failed. He had watched and failed. His entire town was gone, and all he had done was watched. He was spared, but to what loss? To what guilt?
To be truthful, there’s nothing he could have done. He was left on purpose. Immobilized, though he didn’t know it, to watch and spread the story of the creatures. While, yes, they would use up the once town people until they expired, all of this had been coming for a long time. It’s not typically considered polite to build your town on top of someone. That of course is why my ancestors built our house on the edge of town. We listened to the mystic history while others waved it aside. In any case, my family had been half filled with grey for a long time. And maybe it was us who led them here.
Here I was. And here was this emptied man shaking in front of me telling the story he was meant to tell. He had a purpose, and thus a pinpoint dot of red remained in his heart. I laughed and hugged him and told him it wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. Because that’s what we were told to say. I gave him a backstory that he would eventually learn to tentatively accept, and yet he never stopped telling his story.
In this way, he would keep his eyes the next time they arrived, but not enough of his heart to keep from getting swallowed whole.