Bliss ran from hilltop to valley, and through fields and woods. When she finally lingered near a stream to catch her breath and sip a drink, she cursed the Martians.
Well, the aliens weren’t really from Mars, but many people called them that.
The name game started when some busybodies suggested that calling them aliens was, well, alienating. But after the attacks began, they got referred to in lots of other epithets. Folks less inclined to swearing than Bliss was usually refrained from such monikers, but while she kneeled near the stream, she pretty much labeled them everything but Martians.
Wishing she had a light jacket to throw over her tee shirt, she surveyed the currently quiet forest around her. Patches of smaller brush, guilty of lashing her bare arms and slapping against her jeans, were scattered throughout taller trees still sporting yellow and crimson leaves.
A sneeze from only thirty yards away prompted her to snatch the .45 pistol tucked into her belt at the small of her back.
Bliss swore under her breath as she aimed at the area the sound must have come from. She had only five shots left, and these *#@%ing Martians were capable of splintering into eight components….
“Don’t shoot!” The man who walked out from behind a tree swollen enough to conceal him held his hands up in the air.
Bliss lowered the pistol enough to keep him out of direct aim. “Keep your distance!”
“I have been this whole time.” His button-down shirt and khaki slacks looked as smudged as her own clothing, and he appeared to be wearing a daypack.
“You mean you’ve been following me?”
“Well, yes, there’s safety in numbers, you know.”
“I’m not so sure about that.” At least imitating humans was not a feature of these fiends, but she couldn’t assume his motives were entirely altruistic. “The Martians seem to like swooping in on groups to maximize their harvest.”
“Just two people don’t make a group. My name’s Brandon, by the way.”
Bliss wasn’t in the mood to introduce herself. “Unless you’re loaded for bear, I don’t need your help.”
“I was thinking more along the lines we could combine our resources.” He began to slowly lower his hands. “For one thing, I’ve got a little food.”
That was one of the oldest tricks in the book. “I doubt you have enough for both of us.”
“It’s no banquet, but it could stretch berries and roots.” He reached for his back pocket, so she raised the pistol. “Easy there, I just need to wipe my nose before it drips. Bad first impression.”
He pulled a white handkerchief from behind his hip. It made her think of a surrender flag, and wasn’t sure if that should make her feel relieved or worried.
She waited for him to finish blowing his nose. “How did you wind up bringing food?”
“I was in a pharmacy hoping to find some marbles that were out of stock in the other store when the Martians attacked the town. Grabbed some bean dip and granola bars before making my break.”
She lowered the pistol again. “Why were you following me?”
“I saw you take off after you gunned down an arm and a leg. I know shooting them only slows them down, but creating an alliance with somebody who’s armed seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“Why did you wait until now to make your presence known?”
A small smirk twisted his lips. “I had trouble keeping up with you. Did you run track in high school?”
Bliss shrugged as she returned the pistol to her belt, but still berated herself for never checking her rear flank. “At least it seems we outran them. Too bad you didn’t grab any ammo while you were at it.”
Brandon sneezed again, and wiped his nose with the hanky before replying. “Ammo is probably even harder to find than marbles these days.”
“Just allergies. They’re always worse in the fall. So, shall we form our own militia?”
“I suppose.” She shrugged again while nodding for him to step closer. “I just wish the scatter-brained politicians hadn’t pulled our troops out prematurely. They could’ve at least slowed down a lot more Martians.”
“Well, if you like conspiracy theories, I heard a story they escaped from a lab.” He strolled toward her. “Being visited by aliens was supposed to distract us from the supply chain disruption, inflation, and spending bills.”
“Or it’s another crisis to take advantage of.”
Brandon tilted his head as he halted a few feet from her. “Hey, you got a point there–”
A snap came from behind the tree.
Bleep, he didn’t check his rear flank, either. Too drained to sprint away at the pace she’d held earlier, Bliss yanked the pistol back out.
The Martian darted into view, and for a second it was reminiscent of a child’s incorrect drawing of a spider. It had a head and a torso and two legs, but sported four arms. And then it did that creepy thing.
The body parts disjointed, and a head, a torso, two legs and four arms dispersed into a jagged line and scrambled toward them.
Bliss hesitated, wanting to be sure she got off an accurate shot. Her new comrade grabbed a nearby limb and gripped it near his head.
“I shoot a part, and then we run for it!” she hissed.
“Oh no, I think this branch triggered my allergies–”
The head was at the front of the charge, and closer to Brandon. Afraid she might hit him, she didn’t fire as it launched into the air and toward his face.
He should have been able to bat it away like a baseball, but instead, he sneezed. His swing completely missed the head.
It bounced off his chest and rolled back on the ground. And then Bliss couldn’t believe what she saw next.
As the head moaned in a high pitch, it and all the other parts ceased their advance and started writhing. In the next few seconds the color of its skin darkened from a pale pink to a septic green. The eyes of the head rolled back, the cheeks sunk in, and then everything became still.
They stared at the remains for a few seconds before he murmured, “What happened?”
Laughter rippled in her chest but didn’t break to the surface. “Wow! That was like War of the Worlds on steroids!”
His brow furrowed. “Maybe I’m asymptomatic.”
“I don’t care.” Bliss grabbed his hand. “Let’s go Brandon! We’ve got to let everybody know we might have a way to make these aliens something to sneeze at!”
So here is my contribution to #BlogBattle this month, and the word this time is Scattered. As you can see, I decided to just have some fun with it….
Have some fun checking out all the other submissions!