Veronica sat in the first row and watched the men in the front argue. It was the strangest argument she’d ever seen. The man on the right was tall and his hair was receding toward the back of his head, there was a strange mark in the middle of his brow. Next to him stood a middle-aged man who obviously had enjoyed one too many cheeseburgers. Oddly, he had the same mark on his brow.
The mark looked like an inverted V.
The town council had gathered for its monthly session when the two men burst in already arguing. The argument was about where they’d been and what they’d seen.
“I tell you the town is in trouble, I was in some sort of space ship and they’re after everyone,” the tall man spoke in a deep voice, concern evident on his face.
“Bah, you’re imagining things. I was in my car and I saw a bright flash, but a spaceship that’s all in your head.” The chunky fourty-some year old looked around the room. “No one has anything to fear.”
Little balls of anxiety rolled around Veronica’s stomach. Could it be possible there really was a spaceship in the sky above Coaldale? What about the strange marks on their heads? They both had different memories of what happened.
“I am not making anything up; I was in my car when the strange light appeared. The next thing I knew I was no longer in the driver’s seat. I was staring into a light and strange figures were hovering in front of me. They floated across the room and made a clicking noise to each other. I swear on my mother’s grave I’m not lying. The last thing I remember was one of the figures pushed something against the front of my head.” The tall guy shuddered and sobbed. “I’m not crazy….”
“As the mayor of this town, I need to protect its people – but aliens? I don’t know…” The elderly gentleman sat behind a desk at the front of the room and looked at the two men. “I’d rather believe you imagined it.”
“He imagined it all right. I saw a bright light and then smacked my head on the dash, that’s how I got this mark. I don’t remember anything but I know there ain’t no such thing as aliens.” Veronica could tell the big guy was not entirely convinced by the way he looked around and stared at the ceiling.
“How did we get the same mark then? They are coming for us, you watch. We need to call the feds, or maybe NASA!” Agitation surged from the voice of the tall man; he looked up, his eyes filled with fear.
“You must have hit your head the same as I did, only you had some delusional dream.” the big guy turned to leave.
Just then the door to the hall burst open.
A teenage boy came running in. He looked like someone who’d seen a ghost, or was it an alien? Veronica stared in shock as the teen held what looked like a seat belt in his hands.
“My mom, they took my mom!” His voice cracked and he swung the seat belt. “I tried to save her and she was ripped out of my hands.”
“Slow down, boy. What are you talking about? Who took your mom?” The mayor’s calm voice pierced the chaos.
“I don’t know who, or what. I was in the back seat when there was a bright light. Then I saw mom get pulled out of the side of the car. It was impossible… I grabbed her seat belt and held on tight… the next thing I knew I was on the floor and the seat belt was still in my hands. It was cut right off her” The boy sobbed and collapsed in a chair, dismay covered his face.
“See, I told you I wasn’t crazy,” the tall guy looked around the room and stared at the big guy beside him, “well?”
“I see your point, but I still don’t remember anything beyond hitting my head.”
In an instant, the town hall filled with confused voices.
“Order, order!” The mayor’s voice burst through the din. “Let’s start with what we know. There have been three instances of supposed abductions. One says he was taken, the other denies it and now we have an eyewitness. He turned to the man beside him, “George, you call the feds, Marjorie, you call the sheriff and see if anyone else is missing, quietly though. Let’s not panic people.”
“Panic!” The tall man’s voice rose above the ensuing din, “of course, we should panic, they’re here.”
It all happened in slow motion. One minute the man named George opened the door, the next a bright light burst into the room.
George was gone.
Veronica looked around and watched as one by one people were inexplicably pulled out the door. That’s when it all came back to her in a wave. She felt her forehead. There it was, the mark hidden under her bangs. The Elders, the aliens called themselves. Those with the mark would be spared, the others… She shuddered as she heard someone scream.
The town hall was half empty, the two men stood frozen. The boy sat shaking, the seat belt still in his hands.
“Don’t worry son, your mom will be fine.” The Mayor’s voice filled the room, “those of us with the mark will be spared.” He took off his hat, on and his forehead was an inverted V. “Teachers, local politicians, and other people deemed necessary will be left to start over. There will be no more criminals, and no more lawyers, I’m not sure, but I don’t think insurance agents made it either.”
Veronica shuddered at the thought of it. What would her classroom look like on Monday, how could she go back?
It would be known as the great purge and the world would never be the same again.