Location: Scout Family Farm, 100 acres of farmland high in the Young Mountains on Andil Four – the other side of the Void
“I saw them. Come quick” Newt was out of breath and there was a wild look at his eyes. Peyfo looked up from his book at his youngest son, then over to his wife, Parebant. He stood quickly and walked over to the mantle and removed the long rifle hanging above the fireplace. The smell of fresh baked bread filled the house.
“Remain calm” he said to the rest of the family. “Gather some food and wait near the back door for me.”
“Father, will we go to the caves?” Asked his youngest daughter Servus.
“I don’t know. But while I’m gone, pray.” Servus picked up the Book of Menda and put it in the pocket of her apron.
The Mechs as they were called arrived on Andil Four two days ago. During that time the radio was filled with reports of the large metal machines hovering in the sky and destroying everything on the ground. The first attack was on the capital city, Prophetam. It took less than 20 minutes before the capital and it’s one million inhabitants were annihilated.
Newt walked beside his father to the front door the farmhouse. When they got to the door his father put his hand on his shoulder.
“Wait here” Peyfo said.
“But father” Newt protested. But Peyfo raised his hand to silence him.
“No. You stay. If I’m not back in a few minutes, get the family to the caves.”
Newt did not respond. But his face displayed the anger and contempt he felt towards his father, the man responsible for the bruises on his face. His father pulled up his fist and threatened Newt.
“Okay, okay” Newt said backing away quickly. Peyfo quickly opened the door and was gone.
His mother motioned for him to come to the kitchen. She held a large rough sack, the kind they used for potatoes. It was half full of food. She handed it to Newt.
“Is it too heavy?”
“No mom. I can carry it even when it’s full.”
“You’re a good son. The family is blessed that you are part of us.”
“Mother, can I bring my wedding dress or do you think it will get ruined in the caves?” Asked Pareb. Pareb Scout was planning to get married to Close Bronton after nearly 2 years of courtship.
“Cover it carefully in cloth and put pillows on top of it in the basket. That should keep it safe” replied her mother.
“I’m worried mother. Close didn’t call me on the radio this morning. He calls me first thing every morning so that his voice is the first thing I hear every day. But there was no word from him today. I don’t know what I’ll do if something happens to him. I’ll just want to die.”
“We all know how much you love him dear. But right now I need you filling bottles of water.”
“Yes mother” the woman replied in the voice of trained submission.
When his mother finished filling the sack, Newt carried it to the back door. As he passed through his father’s workshop, he grabbed two boxes of bullets and two pistols and shoved them into the sack.
Meanwhile Peyfo stood at the edge of the trees surrounding the house and looked far off in the distance, past his field of corn ready for harvest, past the barns and chicken coop’s, and past the steep cliff that marked the edge of his property. Several miles away a huge spacecraft larger than the Great Temple in the capital city floated effortlessly in the air. Coming from the under side of the vessel were blinding white-blue lights. Where these lights touched the ground everything was incinerated instantly, nothing but ash remained. There were many explosions from the heat.
Peyfo was scared. He watched the ship as it destroyed four of his neighbors farms and farmhouses systematically and efficiently, the beams moving across the land in the same way Peyfo ploughed his fields. He watched as the Bronton farmhouse was reduced to ash. He turned and ran back toward his house.
Little was known about the Mechs. They appeared in the sky two days ago and the destruction began. They showed no mercy. Or compassion. There was a rumor that came across the radio last night. A mobile radio operator claimed to have found the frequency used by the Mechs. But he said the language was unknown to him and consisted of machine created beeps at high speed. There was no evidence they were human.
Peyfo recalled the history passed down to the Elders. The way their people were held in slavery under the rule of the heathen Bitch McGee, the whore that slaughtered billions of them rather than submit to the truth of their faith. Then the miraculous story of their escape and the way the void welcomed them into its darkness then swallowed up and destroyed the forces of McGee as they entered in murderous pursuit. And after a long time in darkness, they came out on the other side into Paradise.
Now this. Perhaps the Bitch McGee had finally found them. She is immortal because she is the devil.
As he entered the front door, his wife looked at his worried face.
“Did you see them?”
“Only one ship. But that’s all they needed. Destiny has been destroyed.”
“The entire town?”
“Even the temple?”
There was a long silence before he said “yes”.
“But that’s impossible” said Servus. “We’re protected.”
“Until we aren’t and that is now” Peyfo replied.
“But Elder Thompson says…”
“I know what Elder Thompson says” replied Peyfo in an annoyed tone of voice. “Shut up and help your brother with the food. We’re going to the caves and we’re going right now.”
Servus began to cry. Pareb moved over to her quickly and put her arms around her. She did this to soothe the younger sister and to protect her from their father.
“Get moving” their father yelled at them. They separated quickly and ran to the kitchen to their mother.
“You should not be so hard on them” said Parebant as she handed each of them a sack of food and gave them a soft pat.
“Don’t you start with me woman. I’ve got enough to worry about right now without your damned unholy attitude. So you shut the hell up or I will shut you up. Do you understand?”
“Yes my husband dear, I understand you perfectly.”
They were less than 100 m from the opening of the caves when the ship began to destroy the cornfields. A few seconds later the farmhouse that they built with their own hands succumbed to the destructive beams. There was a large explosion as the flammable liquids in the workshop ignited. They all heard it and began running as fast as they could towards the opening of the cave.
Parebant lead the children into the cave. They stopped to light the oil lanterns. Peyfo stood just inside of the cave and watched as his life’s work became nothing but ash and cinders. Every tree that made up their home had been cut down by him. Every acre of crops, vegetables and fruit had been planet by him. And now it was gone. The anger took hold of him again. He hated it. He couldn’t control it and it made him do things he regretted later.
He wasn’t in control. It wasn’t his fault, he told himself as had billions of weak men before him.
“Here father have some water” said Newt. His father slapped the cup from his hand.
“Leave me alone” came the angry bitter words.
Newt bent over to pick up the cup. When he did his father kicked him to the ground.
“Leave me alone. I won’t tell you again.”
“Yes father” said the young boy scared of another beating. He moved back into the cave and towards the light and the voices of his mother and sisters.
Anger is a terrible thing if not kept under control. It reduces the intellect and causes stupid actions. And this time was no different. Peyfo raised the long rifle to his line of sight and aimed it at the ship. Then he took a deep breath, grunted an obscenity under his breath and fired his weapon three times.
Just a moment later the white-blue beam hit the opening of the cave. Peyfo was immediately incinerated. But worse than this, the only opening to the cave collapsed and his family was trapped inside.
They survived nearly 5 weeks before the food and water ran out. Their final meals were the pages from the Book of Menda. They still had hope the it would save them. Instead they all became ill from the ink used on the paper.
On their last day Newt took the pistol from the sack and loaded it. After a long time of thinking, reflection and crying the cave echoed with the first of four loud gunshots.
In the end, all animal life on Andil Four was exterminated. The Mech spaceships moved on.
‘What do you mean that I’m an Improbable? I’m as probable as the next person’
– The First McGee (before she knew)