Dad told me to wait in the car. He left me his blazer in case I got cold. I thought it was a war - the shouting, people running past. I thought he was going off to die and all I could think was, how am I going to get home? I pressed myself into the upholstery and waited for the gunshots that never came. I was very young. Years later he laughed at me for thinking it was war - it was only a conference, with demonstrators outside.
Years later. The council meeting was in a shop whose owner had refused to take the precautions our group had suggested. Now, panicking about the sun, he was up a ladder taping tinfoil across the windows. We watched him without comment, knowing it would not work. I picked up a lovely translucent blue candle and tried to rationalize buying it, but knew it wouldn't be approved. I was just glad they'd let me come to the meeting.
I tried to explain what little I knew about it to Robin. She was younger and more afraid. We both knew fear was a reasonable response.
Years later. I was about twelve. I had been assigned to the younger children. I stepped into their sleeping quarters and hollered for them to go to bed. They didn't appear to pay attention but I knew it wasn't necessary to say it twice. At least I don't have to cook for them this week.
Ann came in and told the kids that Steve was sick. She did not say "cancer." One 8-year-old girl was especially worried and I promised to be truthful with her about it.
Years later. Climbing up the hill from the station wagon to the house with armloads of styrofoam packing material. We had to recycle it as contained insulation or it would release nastiness into the atmosphere. Probably the last time I would ever use a car, I realized, looking back at it.
The air was burning hot and the guy up at the house (was it Steve before I knew I would work for him?) shouted over the wind that he'd just finished the calculations, and over the next few years the temperature would go up hundreds of degrees, and we must be ready. He was handsome against the pale burning sky.
Trying on tinted glasses. Red offered the most protection but made it so hard to see. How will I ever be able to drive in these? I thought, then laughed at myself.
I was among the few who survived, because I believed Steve when he told us what was coming. How could I not - he'd always known how to look at me with level truth. He'd been expecting the invasions for years, and as the heat had gotten worse, he'd made plans for that too, for a whole new scheme of existence. He hated being in charge.
"Two minutes to zog!" That was Steve on the loudspeaker. I shouldn't have been on the runway in the first place; he was going to yell at me. First I had to get behind the barrier to avoid being fried. I scooped up the stupid black cat and ran for the stairwell. No time to wait for the stupid slow elevator, I'd be cooked by then, the next ship was coming. Cat scratched me as I ran past the girders, into the hangar, past where Cree thought it was funny to write "POOP" on the wall (and it was). Inside and slammed the heavy insulated access door, just barely in time to shield myself from the engine blast, again. Steve would be pissed. Cat yowled and I dropped it. I went up the stairs slowly.
Later I looked out over the runway from the thick windows in the upper level. Two old-style airplanes planted nose-first in the far edge of the concrete, like Cadillac Ranch. Steve's idea of irony in art.
I watched the transport arrive. This one was full of hulking green beasts like Gamorran guards. Horrible tusky warthog faces. Sometimes I was sorry for what we were doing but these just looked cruel. Their meanness converted to sullen silence, they marched like machines down the ramp into the conversion bay, where we would turn them into energy and spare atoms.
What else could we do? We needed fuel and food, and they were invading us. In the beginning, before the invasions, Steve had experimented with a beacon to attract foreingers to Earth. The first one he sent was an appeal to half-breeds who were without a country. That's how we got Cree. After that Steve felt terrible for almost killing someone who was almost like us. How is that any differnet from killing the ones who look more like monsters? We fought about it a lot.
Another zog alert. At this rate we might have enough to rebuild a city soon. Good, but we were all so weary.
Cree had made a holo for the workers and sprang it on us without warning. We were out repairing the tarmac when it flickered into life, revolving in the air above us. All the guys in charge were dressed as superhero freedom fighters, cape, tights, the codpieces were a nice touch. Fists on hips, feet spread apart, manly solid clenched jaws. Cree saved his own holo for last and it beamed and took a bow. We all cheered; Steve thought it was wonderful and hugged me for no reason; it was the first moment of laughter in what seemed like weeks.