As I quickly hop in the taxi, panting heavily, I can’t help but think if my husband has already turned into one of ... them.
What if it’s too late? What if he already has the virus?
“Keep calm, you can fool them” says the taxi driver.
I look up at him through the rear view mirror with confusion. I reply saying “What?” “Keep calm, you can fool them. They’ll never know you’re still human if you don’t blink or breathe. The aliens don’t do that.” He repeats
As we pull over in an alley way, I listen eagerly while I try to calm myself down, yet remaining cautious, unaware of what the man’s intentions are.
He parks the car and then continues “The only way to remain unnoticed is to pretend to be them.”
“How do you know this?” I say.
“They got my wife. Two days ago, as I laid in bed with her, she cuddled next to me and I realized that I didn’t feel her heart beat. When I glanced down at her, I saw her just staring into space, as if she wasn’t mentally there. Just then, I understood, she had become one of them. I ran out of the house immediately, hopped in my taxi and have been driving around ever since.”
“What if I can’t fool them? What if they can tell?” I ask.
“They won’t be able to if you remain calm and maintain your composer”
“Here.” He says, as he passes me some eye drops. “These will allow your eyes to stay moist, to avoid the urge to blink.”
Before he pulls out of the alley way, he asks me “Are you ready?”
“I think so.”
“Here we go. Prepare yourself.”
It’s the year 2120. NASA has discovered new ways to travel to other planets in order to explore new life and energy forms to enhance Earth in new superior ways. When the astronauts returned to Earth, they brought back with them an unknown, alien life form virus that infects people through a spit- like substance that becomes contagious upon contact. The virus begins to take over once the victim has consumed the substance. Once it reaches the human’s immune system, their body goes into an “out of body” trans, causing their brains to become unconscious and their hearts to stop while they have the appearance of being awake. Over half of the U.S population has already been infected. As for the other half of the population ... Well the only thing they can do is try to escape before the whole world becomes infected. Here’s the unbelievable story of how the whole world got infected.
“Thanks.” I say in a humble tone. “Sorry about your wife too.” I add.
“If only we could find someway to cure this but how can you cure something that you don’t fully understand?”
He drives out of the alley and hits the main roads, leaving that last statement lingering in my mind. How can you cure something you don’t understand?
We continue to drive in silence, until the car’s gas meter goes off.
“Shit” he says.
A few minutes later, we pull into what looks like a deserted gas station.
“Wait here and remember what I told you.”
I stay put and agree attentively.
Already paranoid, I wait for what seems like forever. Just then, I see him. A feeling of relief comes over me. As he walks over to the car, he begins mouthing something. I don’t quite understand what he’s trying to say. As he gets closer and closer to the car, still maintaining his alien- like stage, in the faded background, a group of people emerge. Then I understand, he’s mouthing “run!” I try to hope out of the back seat but I the door gets jammed.
“I can’t get out! I’m trapped!”
The man runs towards the car, opens the driver’s side door, unlocks all of the doors and reaches over on the passenger side for his shotgun.
“Go! Go!” he says
He moves inches away from the car, while the aliens begin running towards us. Shots are fired, while I struggle to get my head together on what my next move is. I hop in the front seat and start the engine.
“Get in!” I yell.
“Go without me!”
“Are you crazy?!”
“Go, there’s not enough time!”
“You can’t hold them all off by yourself! Get in!”
I speed off with only uncertainty as my passenger.
Okay, Okay keep it together. This is the statement I repeat over and over in my mind. I reach about a mile up the road before I pull over, cut off the engine off and try to collect myself in the silence of the car as the engine begins to slow down. I place my head on my hands, which lean against the top of the steering wheel as the silence allows me to interact more with my thoughts. I replay the moment that the taxi driver told me about his wife and how I was able to fool them. I reach in my pocket and pull out the eye drops. Looking in the mirror, I apply 1 drop to each eye. Straight ahead, I can see the west side of Chicago which the main road leads to. Back to civilization I go.
Once I reached the west side, the car’s gas meter goes off once more, forcing me to walk the rest of the way. I never felt more afraid in my life.
“Helen, stop. You need a plan first” I say to myself before getting out of the car.
My thoughts become my only companion.
“How can you reach Jeff’s job without getting caught? And if he is already one of them, what are you going to do next?”
Even though I didn’t realize it yet, I had already answered my own question. There was no way of me knowing but I sure as hell was going to die trying out. If Jeff’s still alive, I know he’s either waiting for me to come find him or he’s trying to find me. I reach for my phone and replay the last message Jeff sent me. “Helen, where are you? Please come find me. I’m at work and something isn’t right. I think my boss and the executives are all infected. They’re trying to infect all the employers by the hour. I’m hiding in the storage closet in the basement. Please, help me Helen, before it’s too late.”
I straighten up my posture, give myself a little shake and ease on down the road.
As I look around at all of the people, I can easily see the deadness in their walk and the blank stares that they maintain.
So far so good. I got this. They walk pass me as if I’m one them.
“They’ll never know you’re still human if you don’t blink or breathe. The aliens don’t do that.”
I constantly remind myself of the words that the taxi driver told, along with other thoughts in order to keep my mind occupied. An occupied mind, leaves an expressionless face.
Before I reach the Sears tower, a group of men surround the building.
“Keep calm” Remembering the taxi driver’s words once more.
The biggest guard walks over. Even though he looks expressionless, he still has a look of intimidation.
“How may we assist you ma’am?” he says.
Wow, they even sound out the norm.
Trying to sound just the way they do, in a robotic, scripted tone of voice.
“Yes, I need to enter the building to see my husband, Jeff.”
I don’t know if I should have said his name but too late now.
He stares at me for a few seconds before saying “right this way”
All I want to do is sigh with relief but I know I can’t. So instead I just say “Thank you” and proceed to follow him.
By the time we reached the elevator, I felt like I was seconds from passing out from holding my breathe so long. I have never been more anxious for these elevator doors to open.
“Here you are Ms, do you need further assistance?” he says.
“No, thank you for your help” I reply.
I walk in the elevator and desperately wait for the doors to close. Once they closed, I exhale the biggest breathe I have ever taken, panting as if I just ran a mile or two. I press the button that leads to the basement and all that’s running through my mind is Jeff. Doubt and uncertainty get the best of me but I try to maintain a positive mind set and pray that he’s safe.
The stop of the elevator sends my nerves through the roof.
“NO!NO!NO!” I say as the doors open.
I can’t believe it. When the doors, hey reveal my worse nightmare. I see Jeff standing there with the other aliens.
“But how!” I say.
“Sorry sweetie, I knew you wouldn’t come if I tried to convince you so I had to sound in distress. It was the only way.” He says in that familiar robotic, scripted type voice.
“You tricked me? I can’t believe it.”
They move in towards me. This can’t be happening is all I can think. I know there’s noting I can do so I close my eyes as I hear there foot steps get closer and closer.