“Poppa, come look!” yelled Manolito, my six year old son,. He was playing in the backyard of my sister-laws’ house inMexico. She lived outside of Las Dos Palmas, about half way between Tijuana and Rosarito Beach. We were vacationing there for a couple of weeks to escape our hectic life inLos Angeles.
“What is it miho, I’m busy in the kitchen.” He sounded excited, more so than he normally would have.
“The sky is on fire, poppa. It’s burning up!” ‘Lito always did have an overactive imagination. I sighed and washed my hands from peeling yucca for dinner. “Coming ‘Lito,” I said, “don’t get burned if the sky is on fire!” I dried my hands on a dish towel and headed outside to see what was up. ‘Lito was jumping up and down and pointing up.
“Look, look, poppa! See, just like I told you!”
I look up and saw the most incredible sight. The sky was on fire. Not the whole sky, just the northern part; the part over theUnited States. There were soft streams of yellow and red light interspersed across the sky, along with flashes of brilliant white light. Meteors seemed to streak down, only to be met by streaks from the ground. Where they met, again there were brilliant white flashes. There was a rumble of thunder rolling down. I stood transfixed as the light show became brighter and the thunder louder. I felt my son wrap his arms around me.
“Poppa, I’m getting scared. Make it stop!” He was shaking.
My wife Eva called from the back door. “Tony, what’s going on?”
“I have no idea,” I said, “but let’s see if there’s anything on the TV or radio.” I pried Manolito from my leg and said, “Come on, miho. We’ll be safe in the house.” We went inside to the living room, where my wife and her sister Olivia were standing in front of the TV. Olivia’s boyfriend, Roberto, was behind the TV messing with an old set of rabbit ear antenna. “What happened to the satellite dish?” I asked.
“We lost the signal a couple of minutes ago. I’m trying to see if I can pick up any local stations over the air.” he said. He kept fiddling with the antenna and after another minute or so a grainy picture appeared on the screen. There was a lot of static coming from the speakers. The announcer looked frightened and spoke very fast.
“…hour ago. Reports are coming in from all over the world. These creatures just started dropping out of the sky. They are landing in small ships and suits of armor, and are converging on all major populated areas. We repeat we are under attack from space. We have reports that this invasion has come from behind the moon. There was no warning or provocation. TheUnited States,Great Britain, Europe,Russia,ChinaandJapanappear to be the heaviest points of invasion. Some attempts to shoot down the invaders have been successful, but if they manage to land they rampage through the cities. Our government is urging everyone to stay at home. There are no reports as of yet of any of these invaders landing inMexico, but it is too soon to be sure. I repeat this invasion started a little over an hour ago.” The announcer started to repeat what we had just heard. Roberto turned the sound down.
“They must have knocked out all of the satellites.” He said.
I felt a chill come over me. Aliens, real outer space aliens were invading our planet. Why couldn’t they be friendly? I loved reading science fiction, even tried to write it, but I wasn’t very good at it. My favorite stories were the ones where mysterious beings came down to earth to help mankind. These guys sounded nasty. What could we do? Most of my family lived inLos Angeles. All of my wife’s were down here inMexico. I felt so helpless. We were at least a hundred miles from the border, but I had no idea how long that would protect us. If these invaders crossed light years, a few more miles won’t deter them.
Eva looked at me and asked in a worried voice, “What should we do?”
“Not panic, for one thing.” I said. “The fighting is up in El Norte, so we should be safe for a while.” I turned to my brother-in-law and asked “Do you have any guns and ammunition?” I’ve never been a big fan of guns, but there were times when they come in handy. Like right now.
“Yes,” Roberto responded. “I have two pistols, one rifle and a shotgun, along with several hundred rounds for each of them.”
“Good”, I said. “Let’s get them loaded and ready in case something hits near us.” God must have heard me, because at that moment a clap of thunder and flash of light seemed to come from right over head.
The women screamed and Manolito started crying. “Make it stop, poppa! Make it stop!”
“Stay inside!” I yelled as I ran out into the yard. Looking up, I saw a bright star wobbling across the sky. It plummeted to earth about five miles north of us in the foothills of the mountains. I ran back into the house. “Roberto, get the guns. Something crashed nearby and I want to see what it was.”
He and Olivia went into their bedroom and came out a couple of minutes later with all of the firearms. In the meantime, we had turned up the volume on the TV and been listening to the announcer. In an excited voice he said that the armored aliens were almost impossible to kill. The few that had been stopped look like a gorilla with scales and sharp claws, not to mention a short tail. Their armor was proof against anything less that a bazooka and they had pistols that shot either beams or blobs of light that destroyed anything they hit.
I took a look at the weapons that Roberto brought out. The pistols were both .45; his rifle was a sweet .30-06 Remington that looked like it might do some damage, along with a double-barreled .20 gauge shotgun. He and I loaded all four. I took one of the pistols and the .30-06, along with extra clips and ammunition. I left one pistol and the shotgun with Roberto.
“Protect everybody in case something comes this way.” I told him. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. You still have your CB rig in your truck?”
“Yes.” He turned to his wife and said, “Olivia, get the base station warmed up.” He handed me the keys to his truck. “Via Con Dios, Anthony; be careful out there. El Diablo walks this night.”
“I know, my friend. But we need to know what we’re up against. Get my SUV loaded with supplies and get ready for a quick getaway south. I’ll warn you if it looks like anything is headed your way.” I turned to my wife and hugged her tightly. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. If anything happens, don’t wait for me. Just get out of here.” I kissed her hard, not knowing when, or if, I’d see her again.
“Manolito,” I said to my son who was softly crying, “Look after your mother, she needs you now.” I ruffled his hair, got a hug from Olivia and shook Roberto’s hand. “I’ll be back in six hours. If I’m not, head out and go as far south as you can; head for a wilderness area. These invaders seem to like cities. Maybe the pickings are easier for them, for whatever the hell they want.”
I grabbed the guns and a bag Olivia had put together for my. She told me it had water bottle, some homemade tamales and a big bowl of menudo. I took one last look at everyone and left the house.
The light show was till going on when I left. If anything, it was getting brighter and noisier. As I drove through the streets, I saw people running, screaming and crying like it was the end of the world. Maybe it was. I felt like joining them. I drove north out of town and headed for where I had seen the invader crash. It took about an hour for me to get there, because of the traffic. There had been looting and shootings all along the road I was on. When I reached the outskirts of town, things seemed to quiet down a bit. Most people had run as far from the foothills as possible after seeing the crash. I started asking myself if I really wanted to do this. The site where the alien crashed was still glowing, and the brush was on fire. I stopped about a hundred yards away from the crash site. I parked the truck and got the guns and my bag. I started toward the crash site, hiding behind trees and boulders as I made my way closer. When I got about twenty yards away, I was behind a large boulder. I stopped to catch my breath. My heart was pounding, and my stomach was doing a dance. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, I thought. All of a sudden, I heard this harsh breathing and a guttural exclamation. I also heard the sound of metal grinding.
Looking over the boulder, I saw a small ship crumpled into the ground. I readied my rifle. A creature in a suit of armor was trying to get out of it. His helmet was off, and Madre de Dios! He did look like a gorilla with scales; purple scales. He was trapped in the cockpit of his craft, which didn’t seem much larger than he was.
I must have made a sound, because he turned toward me and tried harder to pull himself out of the wreck. He finally succeeded in falling out. He struggled to sit up and grabbed his gun.
I took no chances. From twenty yards away, I put a .30-06 bullet into his right eye. The creature fell forward and lay still.
Warily, I left the rifle by the boulder and walked up to him with my pistol drawn. I looked over him and his ship. The ship really wasn’t much more than an engine and a glassed-over cockpit; it was about eight feet long in total. The creature was a different story. He was armored from the neck down, his helmet lying by his side. The armor was all gleaming silver where it wasn’t scorched and dented. The helmet was solid metal, with a huge fin on top. There appeared to be no way to see out. On the back of the armor, there appeared to be vents of some kind. I rolled him over to get a good look at him. If he was this ugly when peacefully dead, I hated to see what he looked like alive and in full froth.
I went back to the boulder and got the rifle. I took it back to the truck and called Roberto. “Is anybody there? Hello? Roberto, Olivia?”
“Si,” Roberto responded. “Are you alright, Anthony?”
“Yes. But I need you to come up here.”
“The creature is dead and I want to bring it back to the house.”
“Chinga! Are you loco? Why would we want to bring a dead alien back here? Leave him for the buzzards.”
“’Berto, I’m an electronics engineer. I want to see what makes this thing tick. If you can trust your cousins, bring them along with a flatbed truck and a big diesel engine hoist. I want to bring the ship back too.”
“You really are loco, you know? This is muy malo. Let the government handle this.”
“This is Mexico, right? What good will the government do?”
“You got a point there, compadre’. Ok. Give me an hour to get everything ready and we’ll be out there.”
“Thanks. Kiss Eva and ‘Lito for me.”
I walked back to the ship and sat on a rock, still shaken by my encounter. I rummaged through the bag Olivia had given me. I opened a bottle of water, drank half and poured the rest over my head. I found the tamales and ate a couple of them. Still hungry, I pulled out the bowl of menudo and opened it. I dug further into the bag looking for a spoon and found some small containers. One had chopped onions, another had fresh cilantro and the third had a couple of wedges of lemon. Olivia makes great menudo; it’s a shame Roberto can’t stand it! My wife keeps trying, but she can’t make it quite as good as her sister.
After I finished eating I felt a lot better. I packed up and went back to look over the ship. The cover on the cockpit was smashed and bits of it were covering the ground. I picked a piece up that was about the size of my open hand. It felt almost weightless. It also felt very slick, like it was covered in oil, but it didn’t feel wet. The cockpit was toward the back of the ship, which appeared to be a silver-gray in the light remaining from the burning brush nearby; the occupant sat on a flat pad with its legs sticking into the front part of the ship. There were controls all over the walls of the cockpit, and what looked like a joystick with handles set where it would come up between the pilots’ thighs. There were small fins toward the front of the ship (about a foot long) and slightly larger ones (about eighteen inches long) in the rear of the craft. The overall shape of the craft reminded me of a bobsled; I always enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics when they were in session.
The controls in the cockpit were flickering and buzzing; I didn’t get to close to the inside, as I had no idea if anything would explode. Come to think of it, I had no idea what powered the craft. If there was anything radioactive in it, I was probably exposed. I pulled back from the craft. I found the alien’s helmet and took it back to the rock I had hidden behind.
The helmet was silver and shiny. There wasn’t much light left, since the brush set fire from the crash was burning down. The faceplate was a solid piece of metal, completely opaque. There was some sort of illumination on the inside. I stuck my face in the neck opening and gave a tentative sniff. Ugh! Who ever they are, they smelled like road kill left in the sun too long. I couldn’t help myself; I took a deep breath and put the helmet on.
There was a sight buzzing in my ears and the helmet started to mold itself around my head. I was startled and tried to pull it off. For few seconds, I thought I was going to be stuck in it. But the helmet slowly unmolded it self and I was able to pick it up off of my head. I looked at the helmet for a few seconds and then placed it back on my head. Again, it molded itself to me. I couldn’t see anything outside of it, but I could see little displays within the helmet. I assume there were telling me the status of what was going on around me. I also heard a series of grunts and growls that must have been the speech of the invaders.
After a few more seconds, I started to see something in front of my face. I turned my head and looked at the ship; it was plainly visible like it was full daylight, but the coloring was greenish, like a pair of night-vision goggles. The helmet had some kind of vision system and was obviously equipped to see in very low light conditions. I walked over to the body of the alien. My earlier suspicions were confirmed; he was ugly. I discovered he still had his weapon in his hand; I pried it loose from his fingers. It was heavy, at least nine or ten pounds. I could barely hold it up at arms length. The handle was wide and cold. The invader had big hands. There was a trigger guard, but instead of a lever there were two buttons, one above the other. One of them was glowing blue and the other orange. The body of the weapon was a bladder-like affair that hung below the barrel, which was about one inch in diameter. At the end of the barrel was what looked like a radar dish about two inches across. In the center was a slim, pointed rod with a ball on the end of it. I gripped the weapon as if I were about to use it. It started to flow around my hand, in a manner similar to what happened with the helmet. It extended itself up my wrist to my elbow. I discovered that the weapon was no longer so heavy. Just to see what would happen, I pointed it at the boulder where the rest of my dinner was, braced myself, and squeezed the blue button.
A streak of light blasted out of the weapon. The boulder, along with my food, exploded into tiny fragments as. There was absolutely no recoil. I heard a voice yell out from behind where the boulder had stood.
“Chinga, you pinche’ bastard! What the hell are you doing, trying to kill us? And why the hell are you wearing that helmet?”
It was Roberto and fifteen of his cousins. Some of them were in the big truck I asked for, the rest were in a couple of pickups. They had parked a few yards on the back side of the boulder. “Sorry!” I yelled back. “I was just trying to test the ray gun.”
“Yeah, well test it somewhere else. We need to get out of here muy pronto. We got word the Federales are on the way here.”
“Ok,” I said as I pulled off the helmet. “Let’s get the ship loaded first, and then the invader.” They drove the truck up to the ship and maneuvered it so the engine hoist could get to it. I grasped the gun barrel and pulled on it; it flowed back into its original shape and weight. I placed it on the passenger front seat of the truck along with the helmet and went over to where ‘Berto and about a dozen of his cousin’s were starting to wrap chains around the ship. I was hoping they wouldn’t hurt themselves. They had spotlights set up to make it bright enough to see, and I was able to get a better look at the ship. Thinking again about what this ship had been able to do impressed the hell out of me. Just to be able to build a reentry vehicle like this, let alone something that flew under its own power, was way beyond what any nation on Earth could do. I couldn’t even think how far ahead of us they were; they had to be from another star. No place in our solar system had another planet like Earth, and the invader didn’t seem to have any trouble breathing our air.
I watched as they hoisted the ship onto the bed of the truck; it fit without hanging over the back. Next, they loaded the body of the invader onto the truck bed. It was a big truck; that made it easier to disguise. They had a bunch of canvas tarps to cover the ship and body. It was short work to camouflage it. We got out of there as fast as we could. The only thing left behind was the scar of the crash site and the shards of the cockpit cover. I rode back in the big truck with ‘Berto and his cousin Chuy.
“Where are we going to hide this stuff?” I asked. “I need someplace big enough and private enough so we don’t get discovered.”
Chuy answered, “My tio’ has a garage where he works on big rigs. This is his truck. We can use his place, no problem. You want some beers? There’s a cooler ofMexicalibehind the seat, iced down and ready.”
“Thanks. I could use a cold one. You want one Roberto?”
“Si; I’m still a little shook up from you almost blasting us.”
I reached back and got two cold ones out; handing one to Roberto. Chuy already had one and was chugging it while he drove. I opened the bottle and took a deep drink. It felt so good going down; my nerves started to settle.
We got back to town in short order, and Chuy drove us to the garage. It was huge; we’d have no trouble working on the ship. We closed all the doors and covered the windows, and then we hauled the alien off the truck bed and onto a big worktable. God, he as so heavy! It took eight of us to move him. While everybody else was wrestling the ship off the truck, Roberto and I started checking the invader out.
“There’s got to be some way to get him out of this armor.” I said.
“Yeah, but how?” Roberto asked.
“Well,” I said, “If you could open it from the outside, wouldn’t that make it kind of useless?”
“Let’s look into the suit from the open top. Grab me a flashlight.”
He went brought one back from a wall rack nearby. I turned it on and shined it into the neck of the suit, moving the invaders’ head around to get a good look. There was a recessed area on the front of the neck ring. I worked my finger into it and pressed. There was a click and the suit opened up along the center of the front.
With the suit open, we started to notice how badly the alien stunk. We were able to wrestle the invader out of the suit and let him drop to the floor.
Looking inside the chest cavity, there was a lot of padding. It was a pink jelly-like substance like those insoles you can get for your feet.
At that moment I heard a yell and then a crash. We both turned toward the truck, and saw that the ship had slipped out of the chains that they were using to lift it from the truck bed onto a large engine dolly.
“Is everybody all right?” I asked. “What happened?”
Chuy said “It just slipped out of the chains. I don’t thing it got broke any worse.”
“Just don’t touch anything inside. I don’t want it to turn on.” I shook my head and went back to the alien suit.
Someone started banging on the back door of the garage. Everybody stood still, waiting to see who it was. I voice called out “Chuy, open up. We brought food.”
Chuy called out “Madre de Dios! You scared the crap out of me, Tina!” He walked over and opened the back door.
In walked his wife Tina and about ten other women, laden with covered dishes and bags of stuff. Eva and Manolito were with them, as was Olivia. I hugged my wife and tussled my sons’ hair.
“Are you all right? What happened out there?”
“Everything’s fine. I killed one of the invaders and we brought him and his ship back.”
“You killed…?” Just then Manolito jumped in.
“Poppa! Did you beat him up? Was he tough?”
“Yes,” I told him, “the creature was very tough. But I had to shoot him. He was much stronger than me.”
“I’m glad you’re ok, Poppa. Can I see him?”
“Maybe later, ‘Lito” I said “I have to get back to work on what we brought back.”
“Eva, keep him with you; don’t let him run around. It could be dangerous.”
“Ok, Tony. Just you be vey careful. ‘Lito will help us set up the food.”
I kissed her and went back to the worktable.
Meanwhile, Chuy went out side and carried another big cooler of beer inside. He called to a couple of his cousins to help. They went out back to a shed and pulled out a big BBQ smoker on a cart.
I ran over to him and asked “Aren’t people going to see us and wonder what the hell we’re doing?”
“Nope” he said “We do this almost every weekend. We’re just starting a little early. I normally don’t fire up the pit until Saturday morning around six in the morning. We’ll start eating smoked turkey legs in about three hours and the ribs four hours later. Let’s get back to work jefe’.”
I guess I’m not used to this lifestyle; the world is ending and we’re having a cookout. I went back to the armor. Roberto was poking around the inside. “You find anything?” I asked him.
“Not much, just this pink stuff inside. There was a panel on the left side of the suit, but I can’t get it open.”
“Let’s try something.” I said “Let’s stand the suit up and prop it against the table.” We slid the suit off the table and up on its’ feet. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do this, but it seemed the only way. I found my heart racing, wondering what would happen.
I stepped into it backwards, the way an astronaut would his space suit. I put my left foot in first ad grabbed the sides of the suit opening to steady myself. I pulled my right foot in and worked my arms in. When I leaned back it felt squishy. I tried to move my arms forward and got a surprise. ‘Berto yelped and jumped out of the way; the suit had closed up on me; it formed itself around my body.
“Hey man, the suit is shrinking!” ‘Berto didn’t seem to steady at this point.
“Don’t worry” I said “the same thing happened when I used the helmet and gun. Give a new meaning to one size fits all, I guess.” I felt the jelly lining squeeze tightly, but not uncomfortably, around my body. After a few seconds, the suit seemed to have finished molding itself.
“Give me the helmet.” I said. He brought it over and I put it on my head. It formed around my head and sealed itself to the suit. I got scared for a second; what if I couldn’t get it off my head? The last time I put it on, I wasn’t wearing the suit. I took the helmet in both hands and pushed it up from the neck. Nothing happened, and I started to panic. I kept trying to force it up; after thirty seconds, the helmet came off.
‘Berto said “What happened? Couldn’t you breathe?”
“Yeah” I said “but I wasn’t sure if I could get the helmet off.” I put it back on and tried to walk around. The suit wasn’t heavy. In fact, it didn’t feel like anything at all. I walked over and picked up the gun; it molded itself to me. I wandered around the garage for a couple of minutes, just getting the feel of the suit. Walking toward the ship, I noticed everybody was staring at me. Some of the women made the Sign of the Cross.
I went back to ‘Berto and took off the helmet. I reached inside the neck ring and found the switch to open the suit. I almost fell over when it opened, but ‘Berto caught me.
“How did it feel?” he asked.
“Not like very much. It wasn’t heavy and it wasn’t stuffy inside. Let’s get me out of this, I want to go look at the ship.”
He helped me out and we left the armor standing against the table. We went over to the ship, which was now safely on the ground. I pushed through the milling throng of Roberto’s relatives and took my first really close look at the inside of the cockpit.
The pilot’s seat and backrest was made of the same pink gel as inside the armor. I told everybody to go to the other side of the garage; when they were as far away as they could be, I climbed into the cockpit.
I felt the seat and back adjust to my form. Some lights changed color from blue to yellow and from orange to tan. The ship also started emitting a thrumming sound. There were touch pads all over the cockpit, along with the displays. Thinking about the layout of a human-built aircraft, I tried to see which controls I could reach the easiest. My stomach was full of butterflies and I had a sour taste in my mouth; what if I blew myself end everybody else up? I sighed. The way these invaders were acting it might not make any real difference if I blew us up or they killed us.
I took a deep breath and grasped the pilots’ stick tightly. The thrumming increased in volume and tempo. The ship started to levitate; I let go and it settled back down; and the sounds subsided.
I grasped it again, and when the ship lifted, I moved the stick. The ship moved in the direction I moved the stick. After a couple of minutes of testing, I was able to make the ship fly around the garage. I found the stick also allowed the ship to change altitude; pushing it forward brought the ship closer to the floor and pulling it back brought it rising toward the ceiling.
I turned the ship toward the crowed and settled it down in front of them. Everybody was clapping and cheering. I parked the ship where I took off from, climbed out and got out of the armor. I felt relieved that we could figure out how this stuff worked, at least a little bit. Maybe the human race had a chance.
I spent the next several hours going back and forth between the ship and the armor, trying to figure more of it out. I was working on a set of controls that might be the weapons system of the ship when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Startled, I looked up and saw Eva with a big plate of food for me.
“Tony, you’ve been at this for six hours. Take a break and eat something.” she said.
I got out of the ship and realized how tired and sore I was. I kissed her and said “Thanks, honey! I’m starving.” I took the plate; it was loaded with barbacoa, black beans, rice, a smoked turkey leg and fresh flour tortillas. We went over to some tables where everybody else was eating.
I dove in. The barbacoa was so good! The meat was juicy and tender, and covered with a sprinkling of cilantro and onions. I got a beer and started to feel human again.
Chuy asked me, “So, jefe’, what do you think? Can you use this stuff?”
“I’m not sure if it’s a good idea” I said “I just want to find out as much as I can. We should get it to the government.”
Roberto shook his head and said “Let’s keep it under wraps for a little while. We may need protection if the invaders start coming down south.”
I sighed. “One gun and some armor won’t do much if they attack.” I thought for a few seconds and added “I just had an idea. Let’s see how strong their metal is.” I reluctantly left my food and went back to the ship. “Chuy,” I called, “get me a pistola; a big caliber.” He got one from a cabinet and brought it over. It was a .44 Magnum; it would make a nice big hole in anything it hit. I made everyone move back behind heavy stuff in case of a ricochet. I was standing ten feet from the ship, and sighted on the tail fin. I kept wondering if this was such a good idea. I was nervous and my stomach was roiling from the greasy barbacoa I just ate. I angled my aim so I could see where the bullet would go if it bounced and squeezed off a shot. The bullet spanged off the metal and buried itself in a nearby cinder block wall.
I walked over to the ship and found a smear where the bullet hit. I rubbed it and lead came off on my finger. The metal underneath was undamaged. “Damn, that’s some tough stuff!” I said. I gotta figure the armor is at least as tough, if not tougher.”
I gave Chuy back the gun and went over to the armor. “’Berto,” I called “let’s get me back in. I want to try something else.” I climbed back in with his help. I put the helmet on. After the armor molded itself to me, I picked up the alien blaster. “Chuy, let move the ship into the back yard. I don’t want to shot this thing off in here.”
“You got that right, jefe’, you almost killed me out there!” He walked over to a forklift and fired it up. A couple of his cousins opened up the big back garage door. Chuy backed the forklift up to the engine dolly and ‘Berto connected the dolly to the back of the forklift. Chuy drove it out back into the acres of dead cars and trucks his ‘tio have collected over the years. I followed him out.
It was light enough to see outside. Chuy found a spot about midway into the lot. There was enough room for him to turn around and set the ship sideway to the path. He unhooked the dolly and drove the forklift back to the garage.
I walked up to the ship and stopped twenty feet away. I aimed at the same spot as I did with the Magnum and squeezed the orange button. A beam of bright white light shot out from the gun, and drilled a perfect hole in the fin. Everybody started cheering and clapping. At least we could the aliens’ weapons against themselves. I though about trying the energy blob, but I figured it would probably destroy the ship. That I didn’t want to do! “Chuy” I said “let’s get this thing back inside. I’m done with it for a while.”
He said “I got a better idea, jefe’, let be bury it under some junkers out here. That way even if someone comes snooping around they’ll never find it.”
“Do you think that will work?” I asked.
“Sure” he answered laughingly “where do you think I have my still set up?”
I just shook my head and went back in to get the armor off and get some rest.
I woke to a hand gently shaking my shoulder and a soft voice talking to me. It was my wife, Eva.
“Tony, wake up; it’s late afternoon.”
“Ugh…” I said. I sat up and realized I was drooling on myself. I rubbed my eyes and sat up on the cot I was laying on. “Thanks honey. I was wiped out.” I realized I was hungry and said so.
“There’s fresh menudo and they’re taking more ribs off the smoker now.” She said.
She helped me off the cot; I was stiff as a board. She sat me down at a table and brought me a bowl of the menudo and a big plate of ribs. She also brought me the onions, lemon and cilantro she knows I loved.
As I was eating, my son came running over. “Poppa! How are you? Are we ready to fight the aliens?”
I finished chewing a mouthful of food and said to him. “No, ‘Lito, we’re not ready to fight anybody. We’re still figuring out how all this stuff works.” I gave him a hug.
Eva took him by the hand and said “Let your father eat in peace, Manolito. He’s worked very hard today.” She led him away to a table where other children were eating and playing.
Just then, Roberto and Chuy came over and sat down.
‘Berto said “Chuy and I have been working on the suit of armor and figured out some of the controls.”
“Really?” I asked “What did you find out?”
“Well, the helmet can act like binoculars. You can zoom in really tight. I took the helmet out back and was able to see birds in the trees at the top of the mountains. That’s like 50 kilometers away.”
“That makes sense” I said “especially if they use them in space. Anything else?”
“Yeah, I think we can get the suit to fly. We found some controls on the side of the hips. I pressed a couple of them and gas shot out of the ports on the back of the suit. It built up pressure, but I pressed them again and it shut down.”
I thought about it for a minute. What if I could get it in the air but not land safely? What if I crashed into something? I was getting both scared and frustrated at the same time. Here we had this suit of armor and a working weapon. Could I use it to stop those pinche’ bastards if they attacked us; or was I too scared to try it? Damn it! Why the hell didn’t it come with an instruction manual! I felt like that guy on the old TV show, “The Greatest American Hero”. He got a super suit from an alien but lost the instruction book. He fumbled around trying to figure out his powers.
I said to them “Let’s try something first. Let me get suited up.”
We went back over to the armor and I put it on. “If I take off and crash, I want to make sure I’ll survive.” I said. I climbed up on a table and stood straight. I took a deep breath and let myself fall forward. I figured the suit would protect me, but if not, I didn’t want to fall too far!
I hit with a deafening clang. The suit stiffened up, and the gel cushioned me; I didn’t feel thing. The suit loosened as soon as I stopped moving. I got up, and tried it again; falling from different angles and from different heights (I climbed on some trucks and machinery). I finally decided to fall off the roof and see what happened. The same thing. The suit protected me every time.
“I think I’m ready to try flying.” I told ‘Berto.
“Hang on, Tony. Before you go off anyplace, the alien wasn’t wearing anything underneath. Maybe you should strip?”
I thought about it; I remembered feeling a pressure against my stomach where my belt buckle was. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. I got out of the suit, stripped naked and got back in. I also got the alien’s pistola and placed it in what should have been a holster for it.
I made sure I could feel the controls he and Chuy had used to start the suit motors up. I could feel everything, as if my hand was not in the glove. I pressed the controls ‘Berto showed me. I felt a pressure at my back, and the suit seemed to stiffen a bit. I tried to turn around but the suit resisted like a gyroscope would. That should help! I stood there and waited but nothing else happened. I pressed the controls again, harder this time. Something clicked and all of a sudden I shot up straight into the air. Dios! I was thousands of feet high in just a couple of seconds with no sign of slowing down! I started to hit the controls to kill the jets, but I was too scared to take a chance that the suit would protect me if I fell from this height. I tried to lean forward a bit. The suit started angling toward the horizontal; in a few seconds I was flying like El Super Hombre’!
I noticed something in my hands; it felt like I had a rubber ball in each of them. I squeezed my left hand and I started flying even faster. I released my fingers, but my speed did not diminish. I tried squeezing my right hand and I started to slow down. After a couple of minutes testing, I felt I had a better handle on what the suit could do.
After a few more minute if flying around, I felt something tickle me. I swung around and saw three jet fighters from the Mexican Air Force swooping toward me and firing on me. I waved at them to stop shooting and then realized all they saw was in invader. All I could do was increase my speed and try to get away. One of the fighters, the lead one, fired a missile. I wasn’t sure what it would do to me, so I flew even faster. When I got a good bit ahead of it, I swung around and flew back toward the fighter group. Maybe I could confuse the missile or force the pilot to detonate it before it hit them.
One of the other two planes blossomed in fire and spread apart is glowing debris. The missile was still on its way, so I had no idea what happening. Using my headpiece, I cranked up the distance amplification and found another alien ship coming down from behind the group of jet fighters. The fighters wouldn’t stand a chance. I pulled the alien pistola, lined up on the incoming alien ship and pressed the blue button. The alien ship must have been at least ten kilometers away, but it exploded in a very satisfying fire ball. I waved at the two remaining jet fighters, turned away and flew as fast as I could; I wasn’t going to wait until they thought to shot me down with missiles. I didn’t even know if they saw me shoot down the alien ship, but I wasn’t going to take any chances.
From the light behind me, I could tell that I was still flying south, deeper into BajaMexico. There didn’t seem to be anything going on (there isn’t much in South Baja but housing developments made of dead cars), so I angled toward mainlandMexicoand crossed theSeaofCortez.
As I finished the crossing, I saw same streaks coming down from space heading for mainland cities; the invaders had started hittingMexico. There were only a couple of dozen contrails, but most of the cities they seemed to head for where the smaller ones on the coast. I chose one closest to where I heading and followed it in. It was a ship not an invader in armor, so I stayed well back.
When the invader reached the city, it started circling around the outskirts of the city, firing its guns. After a couple of complete circuits, the ship started spiraling in as it fired intermittently. It was trying to drive everyone towards the center of town.
I had no idea what these pinche’ bastards were up to, but I wanted to try to stop them. I took out the alien pistola and lined up to blow the ship out of the sky. I hesitated for a second; I was wondering how many times I could use the gun before it ran out of energy. Maybe I should start collecting a few of them. Instead of just destroying the ship, I accelerated toward it and used the beam setting on the gun to slice off the engines. They exploded nicely, and the front of the ship dropped like a brick.
I followed it down to where it had crashed into a row of stores. I tried to land, but let’s just say it was more of a controlled crash. I gotta figure out this suit before I kill myself, I thought! I struggled up out of the debris of the stores and stared toward the ship.
Before I got more than a few meters, I heard gunshots ring out and felt small thumps on my armor. Scared the crap out of me let me tell you! I turned around and found about eight Policia shooting at me with pistolas. I cried out “Wait! You don’t understand! I’m human!” They just kept shooting. They could hear me through the armor, and I wasn’t about to waste time trying to figure out if there was a loud speaker in the suit. I didn’t want to shoot at them even to scare them away, so I did the only thing I could do. I holstered the alien pistola and held my hands up above my head in surrender.
I had to wait a bit, because they kept shooting until they ran out of bullets. When they realized I wasn’t going to do anything, they got a little braver. What looked to be the leader of the group grabbed one of his men by the collar and shoved him toward me; I swear this kid turned white as a gabacho.
He staggered about two meters in front of the group and asked me if I would surrender peacefully. I reached down and started to take the helmet off. All of them scrambled back about five meters. When the helmet cleared my head, they were stunned.
“Se Hable Espaniol?” one of them asked.
“Hell yes!” I answered. “And I Hable Englais also. I’m an American that captured one of the invaders. I was trying to figure out how all their stuff works when I saw you being attacked. I figured I’d try to stop him.” I was going to go into more detail, but from the rubble where the ship crashed, a blob of energy shot out and destroyed three buildings behind the Policia troops. “Excuse me a minute. Go and hide while I take care of this.” They scampered like cucarachas when you turn on the kitchen light.
I had two choices. Go in after the beast and risk my life or… I took the or… and brought the rest of the building down on him. Three stories of rock, timber and iron girder squashed him like a bug. I know had a clear field of vision to him. I waited a few minutes for something to move, but nothing did. La Policia got brave and came out from where they were hiding. We all started walking slowly where the alien ship was buried under the piles of rubble. The lump of the ship still moved a bit, but I figured it was just the debris settling down. All of a sudden, an orange blob shot out and wasted El Capitain of La Policia. Chinga! These characters are hard to kill. I just blew him apart with my own orange blob. I went over to the pile of purple goo and silver armor to see if I could salvage the gun. It was gruesome, but alright. No singe marks or any other damage I could see. I picked it up and gave it a little test shot. Both buttons worked fine. It felt lighter than the one I was wearing; maybe it got lighter when it used up its fuel. I only new I’d better find out what it uses for an energy source! I turned to what was left of La Policia and asked.
“Is there any college or universidad’ nearby? I need a scientist?”
The shaky one El Capitain had tried to sacrifice answered me. “No, senor. There is only the crazy old druggist over on Avenida Caridad. He is always blowing things up. He thinks he’s a great scientist, but he’s really muy loco.”
“Thanks. Can you take me to him?”
“Si. Come with me. Its’ only a few blocks from here.”
We walked for a few minutes and came to a storefront in the middle of the block. It had a battered and stained sign that said Farmacia hanging in front. I opened the door and a bell rang. I called out and was greeted by a stream of foul language coming from the back of the store. It finally ended when this old man came limping out.
“What do you want? Can’t you see I am a very busy man!