There were two of us, and children
in an abandoned mansion.
They were too young to know
But we could never forget
Because an advanced race had come to war with us
domed heads and gray slime
pacing in the distance: tall, graceful.
And the humans had prevailed
They had left
But now we were alone.
I was the first to see one, in the entrance hall.
The light flickered, and it was there
Its head nearly touched the ceiling, plated in slime-coated shell
standing hunch-shouldered and silent:
And then took a step forward.
I ran--and it was gone.
When I found Bev I think I explained.
It must have been gibberish.
But it was that night in the kitchen, we argued.
She wouldn’t believe me
And it was just inside the doorway from the hall.
She screamed and threw a chair.
It ricocheted from the wall, unharming and unharmed.
I hid behind her
And saw little Andrew
shuffle in from the dormitory
And it was gone
Until we found we were low on food.
The way to the storage room had been destroyed in the war
So that we’d needed to find a route through the walls, the year before
And I stayed with the children
So that Bev could go alone.
She told me later that it had appeared like a phantom
and run at her
crashing against the low walls and ceiling.
Bev came back like she had been beaten
having been reckless in her fright
and run as desperately as her legs would allow.
And I hated them.
We discussed it in the hall above the balcony
having put the children to bed that night already
surrounded by broken stone and boarded windows
statues and great works of art
In low tones
holding each other’s arms for bravery
And turned to see the terrific face in the window
The rough dome
And yelled wordlessly.
The balcony, together—
Shuddering and wide-eyed
Prayed to God for help
And knew that they were all dead
That they had always been dead
That we had been terrified in vain
And our fear had plagued us
A most fatal affliction.