Amber was still shaking from what she had seen on the monitor; afraid it would give her nightmares. She held her badge out to the keypad at the hatch door. It beeped and the door began to swing. She squeezed through before it was fully open.
She followed the blue line down the corridor, determined to be with her family. She wasn’t sure what was going on outside the bunker, but she hoped that they would be safe under the hundreds of meters of dirt, rock, and concrete. She rounded the corner and turned into the bunk chamber. She looked for Lawrence and Riker at their assigned bunk beds but she didn’t see them.
Turning, she nearly sprinted down the isle between the bunks. The air in the corridor was cold and heavy, but she was sweating. The balls of light she had seen on the screen moments earlier wouldn’t leaver her mind. It was impossible that what had streamed out of the rogue star, was friendly.
A scream erupted from someone behind her. Amber slowed and turned. Her eyes peeled wide with what she saw. About twenty paces away a young woman was standing next to one of the bunk beds. The chamber was bright, too bright. Amber had just passed by that spot a moment ago, and it hadn’t been illuminated any more than the rest.
Instinctively Amber backed up trying to get away from the brilliant glow. The light swelled brighter for a second accompanied by a crackling. It sounded like the arc of electricity. A punctuated flash ignited the air, and suddenly there was some substance; a figure.
Like an inverse silhouette made of pure light, the shape of a creature appeared. She squinted at its brilliance. Her heart pounded. She felt like she could vomit. It moved deliberately toward a nearby bunkbed. It’s motion was like a bullet. She could hardly see the path the ball of light had taken, but when it paused her eyes were able to catch up. Over the suspended cont where a sleeping man lay, the creature became still for a fraction of a second.
The woman who had first seen the light was screaming and falling over another bed to get away from the illuminated character. Amber ducked behind a set of large pipes to watch. Her eyes had not been able to make it out before, but now she could see the creature was stretching out something like arms, or tentacles. It all happened so fast, Amber could hardly understand.
In an instant the man sleeping in the bunk bed awoke, sat up, and looked at the creature. He hardly had time to react. The burning ball pounced on the man, wrapping his appendages of fire around him. Another punctuated flash, and the chamber went dark; or at least returned to normal illumination, which seemed like near darkness to Amber’s eyes.
She stepped out from behind the pipes to get a closer look. The woman nearby was still screaming. Amber saw what she needed to. The bunk bed where the man had been laying was empty. The creature from the rogue star had abducted him. Other shouts and screams echoed down the corridor from other places where this same horror was apparently being repeated.
Amber turned and ran, she had to get to Riker. As she sprinted, she wondered if there was any way to fight off this raiding party. Her sub conscience worked to understand the images that she had just taken in. There was no doubt that these fiery creatures were what she had seen pouring out of the star. Millions of these beings had spread out over the entire planet. How could they fight such an impossible enemy?
Amber reached out for the wall to steady herself as she sped around the corner. Down one more straight away and she was in the main chamber. This was the place where most of the civilians gathered during the day. She could already see the carnage taking place ahead. Pulses of light flashed against the rigid walls of the cave. The metal pipes and wires made creepy shadows as other light beings flashed into existence, wrapped their arms around individuals, and vanished, taking their abductees with them.
She scanned the room hoping to get sight of her son and husband. She pushed through the crowd, much of which was shouting and full of confusion. The air was hot and seemed to stick to her in the crowded space. She pushed past a group of four who were huddled together. She thought she heard some of them crying.
Another fiery creature burst into existence in front of her. She knew this was it. She was certain this would be the moment of her death, but then it wasn’t. The creature reached past her, touching a child who stood mortified. Amber didn’t recognize the kid; a little girl of about seven years old. The molten villain flashed and took the girl with him. Amber thought she could smell the scent of ozone, as if lightning had stuck.
The immediate area had spread out from the arrival. Through the gap Amber could see a face she recognized. She stepped forward and focused. Lawrence, stood strong and brave in front of a group of strangers. She looked around for Riker.
As she tried to move forward a uniformed man stepped into her way. Her body slammed into him in the confusion. With the impact, she felt something hard strike her in the stomach. She glanced down quickly to see that the uniformed man, had a pistol holstered at his side. There would probably be a bruise where it hit her. She shoved the man out of her way trying to reach her husband and son.
“Mom!” Riker shouted. Her eyes found him as he stepped out from behind his father. She bolted toward them.
Before she could reach her family, a pulse of light split the air between. Amber gasped, thinking she would move around the burning alien. She wasn’t quick enough, the blazing creature reached for Lawrence. She was surprised to see that he didn’t fight the intruder. She watched Lawrence’s expression as he looked into the face of the glowing destroyer. It wasn’t fear that he expressed, but relief. Is he bewitched, she thought.
“Lawrence!” She shouted, trying to break him out of his daze. She was sure she noticed a hint of a smile pull at the corner of his mouth. What was wrong with him? “Run!”
In the time it took her to say the word, the glowing villain flashed away. The place where Lawrence had been standing was now empty space. Tears were streaming now, but it didn’t matter. She had to get Riker. She jolted forward, intending to put her arms around him. She didn’t know what protection she could provide, but she would die trying.
Before she could reach her boy another flash of light lit up the chamber. This time a fiery being stood behind her son. She looked into the spot that would have been the face of the creature, trying to understand. The skin, if it could be called that, was so bright that the features were obscured. However, she thought she saw the slightest hint of eyes; eyes that were now looking down to her son Riker.
It was as if her body knew what to do, even though her mind was trying to catch up. Amber turned, looking for the uniformed man she had run into. Two paces away, she closed the gap and reached for his pistol. He was surprised, but she didn’t care. With the gun in hand, Amber pulled the hammer back and turned to the alien enemy. The blazing intruder had his hands on Riker’s shoulders now.
Amber raised the gun and squeezed the trigger. It spit a hot blast of lead toward the enemy. Her aim had been true, but what she saw was impossible. The bullet had passed right through the glowing alien having no affect. Riker had been directly in the line of fire. A spot of crimson began to stretch across her son’s white shirt. She dropped the gun immediately, realizing that she had shot him instead of the enemy.
Amber drove forward with all her speed and strength. She was three steps away. Riker’s bloody wound expanded quickly, but he didn’t seem to notice. He glanced up at the brilliant stranger. A smile stretched across Riker’s innocent face. She leapt. The creature flashed. The light died and left only empty space. Her son had been removed from the world. She screamed in terror, and flew through the empty air where her son had been.
She hit hard against the concrete floor. The momentum slammed her head against a steel post that was sticking out of the ground. She turned, not quite believing what had just happened. She felt the warm wet drench of blood running down her face. The metallic smell filled her nostrils as she squeezed her mind, trying to convince herself it was a dream. She joined the hundred other victims of terror with her screams.
“Riker, No!” She howled. “No!”