Here are the first entries from the prologue of one of my upcoming novels “Darker Homes than These” – Please enjoy!
In the first hours of the morning, I could see over the horizon the little specks of their ships glinting green in the orange light. There were, at first, just enough to give the impression that they might be something else. Balloons maybe or a trick of light playing on the backs of birds, but soon there were so many and they were moving so straight and too fast. I can remember the freezing feeling in my stomach. The ice water that came up my back and into my brain. The thought – they’re coming for us all – this is the end.
I was right. It was the end.
When I think back on it now, it hardly seems real. It seems like there was another Jardin Kin and in the other Jardin’s dreams there was a place called Aratea where she lived with her pretty mother and kind father in the small, black building by Hart Seaport. There was another Jardin who dreamed that fishermen, skittered over the green waters in silver crafts and hauled in tarpers and rie and feasers by the hundreds for quietly smiling shop keepers to cook and plate for tourists. It had been just a dream.
I moved the little flap open to peek into the valley again. The sky was different now, not as bright, not as open, and not as friendly. The flickers of light that marked the invasion nine years ago had evolved into what looked like hanging black and green icicles of machinery. These were their ships, out beyond the atmosphere, always pointed toward earth, like someone had shattered the teeth of a gangrenous dragon and scattered them among the stars. Inside these mechanized teeth, lived the Yi.
My father and I encountered one the very first day of the invasion. It had eaten Homer, our dog, and was busy tearing into my dad’s retro trans. I think he’d only flown it twice. I can still hear the sound that Homer made just before we got to the garage. Sometimes, I can drink enough to forget it for a few hours and sometimes I can forget it for a few days if I am scared or distracted enough.
When you see one, you’ll do what the rest of us did, freeze with fear. You can’t help it. Someone can describe one to you or you might see one on a video clip or in a photo. It doesn’t matter. You will freeze just for a moment… or longer. After that, the thought of their “faces” will then never be far from you – even though you will not be able to describe exactly what you’ve seen. We just don’t have anything like that on Aratea. We don’t have anything that has more than one face inside its face. Further, the only beings we have that are as cold and cruel as the Yi are our insects, but insects don’t even come close to the pure disregard and empty urge that the things have glittering in their too many eyes. They are thinking. All the eyes are thinking. That’s the worst of it. You can tell they are regarding you, all of the “faces” thinking about you – none of its thoughts could you ever understand.
My dad died that day too. He was consumed into the backend of the creature, like everything else it eats, sucked in and pulled apart into layers. Yiologists call the absorbing end the loom. What happens to a living creature when it gets subsumed up in loom? “The Yi-loom absorbs and uses the biomass of its prey to build a sheath.” Dad became a sheath, another layer inside, stretched out, alive, probably conscious…this is why so many people believe that these creatures are demons and not aliens. And why so many believe that the Meta Yi is the devil.
Mom and I stayed above the city in a cave in the side of Mount Mur for nearly a year before the Yi started to get interested in the flora and fauna of the foot hills. We didn’t know why they were coming our way. Maybe they’d run out of terrified people to eat. We weren’t sure that was the case. We still saw lights on in the city, Hart’s buildings weren’t all demolished. We saw trans coming and going – quickly, moving at escaping speeds and odd, off-grid angles into the clouds.
We weren’t so lucky as to have grabbed a trans, and with dad’s being smashed to bits, we’d had to use our legs. We think that’s what saved us in those early days of the invasion. We’d not been packed up in a herd, we weren’t clambering over anyone or out from underneath anyone.
I turned immediately from what was happening to Dad and ran inside for Mom. She was drunk at the window staring at one of the Yi ships that had come too close to the water, it was reflecting the sun like a mirror, so that when she said, “Look, Jardin, there are two suns” and shrugged her wine-slow shoulders, she was right. I grabbed her hand.
“Mom, we have to go now!”
I knew a way through the winding back platforms, down the side of the dock, through the torn fisher’s ship that Darnell was building (so slowly) into a restaurant, and then, into the field that ran parallel to the river. We disappeared there in the apler trees that bent this way and twisted that way and whose long, worried vines brushed our faces. Behind us screams mixing with pops of explosions, gushing and slurping sounds, crashing trans, and always the low, whispering echo of the Yi’s calling to each other, like hideous locust in a demonic painting.
Hush- hush, hush-hush. Hush-hush, hush-hush.