It had been a quiet day in the village. People working in the fields and farms. Children playing or helping the grown up’s with chores. Nothing out of the ordinary, a normal Sunday. People had worked hard as they did every day to try and ensure the survival of their families.
Since the great invasion of Europe life had changed dramatically for everyone living in the group of islands off the north west coast of Europe. The government was trying to maintain services and order. It was difficult though as most travel and communications links with the continent had been severed.
The UK and Ireland had effectively taken a backwards step of tens if not hundreds of years. The economy was almost entirely agricultural . The cities were decimated, industry and commerce were back to what they had been three hundred years previously.
There were vestiges of modernity and the army and air force were being maintained. The first to keep order and maintain the coastal defences. The second to operate the remaining early warning radar installations around the country and fly what aircraft the country still had. The navy had been sacrificed a few years back when it became clear that the only threat to the islands was to come from the east and would be airborne.
As usual, the first that anyone in the village new of impending trouble was the noise. Any form of electronic or communication device that still worked would spark into life. Email, text messages, pagers, landline telephone. They all began pinging, ringing and beeping the same time. The government had established an early warning system using the radar it had installed around the country decades before. It had originally been used in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Now you simply subscribed with your email address or phone number.
The North Sea coast is around 60 miles from our village. Given that the creatures are travelling at supersonic speed when they cross the coastline, we have around seven minutes. In that time we usually do two things. The first is to warn people who haven’t got the message. Our neighbours or anyone without a communications device. The second thing is to hide and stay completely silent.
What are they? Well know one really knows. There is talk that the planet has been invaded by creatures from space. There are reports of swarms of them across central Europe, with the continent in ruins. The visits to our islands seem to be feeding forays. Did I mention that they eat us, well devour is a better description. Not just humans, any adult animal seems to be fair game. We find nothing left where a person has been, some blood, bits of flesh or discarded clothing, nothing else.
It is only adults, children seem to be spared even if they make a noise. I’d like to tell you what they look like but I can’t. The only people who ever see them are taken soon afterwards. This is why we hide, anywhere will do. Under beds, in cupboards, under cars. It seems the can only see you in plain sight or hear. They have very good hearing. This is why you must be totally silent as they approach, almost stop breathing if you can. This is why the cities fair so badly, people there just don’t seem to be able to stay quiet for long enough. I’ve heard too that the creatures perch on the high buildings for hours on just sitting and listening.
You know they are coming, it’s terrible. Enough to kill you with fear alone. They scream as they fly. A high pitched, incessant and terribly loud scream. All of them and there could be hundreds of them, all at the same time, all the time they fly. If they stop screaming you know they’ve stopped and will be hunting around nearby. The sound we all lay there in our hiding holes and wait for are the sonic booms. One after the other as the creatures fly West across our island. Only then will it be safe to come out and take a head count of people, pets and livestock in our little community. Oh my, they’ve stopped screaming.