03 October 2008

"Ghosts of Earth"

GHOSTS OF EARTH
By Curtis C. Chen

The first crystal fell on Los Angeles in the middle of rush hour, killing thirty-two people. Caltrans spent an hour trying to move the enormous mass before it drilled itself into the ground and disappeared.

Two hours later, another crystal splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. The Navy sent a submarine to track it, but they couldn't go deep enough. Three hours after that, another one hit the Pacific. Then a fourth crystal struck the ocean south of Japan, flooding the coast.

Someone noticed that all four impacts had occurred on the same line of latitude, proceeding west. Governments evacuated cities while the bombardment continued, every three hours, like clockwork: China, Iraq, Algeria, the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina. Then the tenth crystal impacted off the coast of Mexico. They were moving south.

NASA triangulated the origin of the crystals to a point outside the Moon's orbit. Observatories all over the planet turned their lenses that way, but saw nothing. The ship was too small to be visible at that range.

We had no vessels that could travel that far. All we could do was evacuate the cities in the line of fire and attempt to study the crystals, which we were unable to halt or slow as they burrowed deep underground.

Five days later, the last crystal fell into the Pacific, west of central Peru. There were now one hundred and eight alien objects embedded deep in the Earth, arranged in a precise grid circling the equatorial region of our planet. The invaders had parked their ship in space and let Earth itself rotate each target into position for them.

Eight different research teams had crawled down the crystal tunnels. Two teams were broadcasting live video when the crystals started burning. Again, we could only watch, helpless.

The world burned for nearly a year. Most of the plant and animal life died within the first day. The crystals weren't just raising the temperature and fouling the air–-they were also causing chemical changes, using our planet as raw material to terraform itself.

The aliens waited a full decade before landing, to let their new vegetation and prey animals grow. The few humans who had managed to survive, in Antarctica and other frozen places, were slowly suffocated by the toxic atmosphere. We mourned them, but only briefly. We still have work to do.

The crystal fire had killed our bodies, but freed our minds–-some say souls, or spirits. We don't entirely understand it, but we know that we're still here. We can see everything. And we can do things.

We watched the aliens land, and sent scouts to verify that they couldn't sense us. Creating six billion angry ghosts had not been part of their invasion plan.

They use electronics, just as we did, and we've found that our incorporeal forms can directly affect electrical systems. A million scientists, no longer restrained by language barriers, are devising a plan to sabotage whatever the aliens do next.

We're betting that they won't want to live on a haunted planet.

EOF

3 comments:

Chris Roat said...

Yay, stories! Had to comment to register my demand.

I recall having seen an early version of this one somewhere before.

Chris Roat said...

PS. You may want to move the bookmarks gadget/badge/watchamathingie. When viewing the blog via the main page (i.e. not the permapage for individual posts), as I mouse over it, the pop-up menu hides the comment button. :-/ To leave a comment, you have to mouse in from the bottom. (This occurs unless it is position near the bottom of the browser window, in which case, it pops upward.)

CKL said...

Chris: Sorry about the bad widget placement. I've moved it to the other side and below the standard blogger links.

Next week's story will be Brand New[TM], and I'll have the "Ghosts of Earth" audio up Real Soon Now.

Thanks for reading!