Invasion

For 2022, I’ve been wanting to write more ‘creature features’ and generally improve my short story writing. My partner got me a Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual for my birthday so I came up with the idea of writing a story every week based on a different creature from that – All There in the (Monster) Manual. Hope you enjoy!

This Week’s Inspiration: Cloaker

After a meteor shower, Phil Tullman wakes up in an interrogation room with handcuffs on his wrists and a head full of strange memories.

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“Mr Tullman? Mr Tullman, can you hear me?”

“What? Where am I? What’s happened?”

“Mr Tullman, can you hear me? Do you know where you are?”

“Of course I can hear you. I don’t know where I am, no.”

“How is your vision? Can you see how many fingers I’m holding up?”

“Are there-, are these handcuffs? Why am I wearing handcuffs?”

“Mr Tullman, our time is short, please answer my questions.”

“Two, you’re holding up two fingers. Have I been in some kind of accident? My family, are my family okay? My wife’s name is Kamala, and I have two little girls.”

“As far as we know they’re alive, Mr Tullman, but they are not in this facility.”

“What happened? Was it an accident?”

“Let’s go with that for now, Mr Tullman-,”

“You can call me Phil.”

“Fine, Phil.”

“I didn’t get your name?”

“My name is Special Agent Alison Mathers.”

“Wow, special.”

“Mr Tullman, Phil-,”

“Can I get these handcuffs taken off, please?”

“We need to leave those on for the moment.”

“Am I in trouble?”

“No, not exactly. But we need to leave them on until you’ve answered some of our questions.”

“Who’s he? In the corner?”

“That’s Special Agent Thornton. Phil, I need to ask you some questions and then we can remove the handcuffs. Maybe we can see about getting you something to eat and track down anything we know about your family.”

“Okay, yeah, okay, I am kind of hungry now that you mention it. But I don’t understand-,”

“Mr Tullman, Phil, you’ve just woken up from a long sleep. It is important you tell me the last thing you remember.”

“Jesus, it’s all kind of a blur? We were driving somewhere. We were all together, and we were driving somewhere. Me, my wife, and the girls. Is that what happened? Were we in a car accident?”

“Do you remember where you were driving?”

“That’s right, the meteor shower! We were going to watch the meteor shower. We got there and parked, and we were looking for a place to put the blanket down? There were way more people than I was expecting. It was supposed to be pretty spectacular, that’s what they said on the TV, right?”

“That’s good, actually, that is really good. Do you remember anything after that?”

“After that? Was there something after that? I don’t-, maybe? It’s weird. It’s kind of like remembering something when I was really drunk.”

“Phil, can you close your eyes for me for a moment?”

“Close my eyes?”

“Close your eyes, and Phil, I want you to imagine a light all around you. Imagine it’s almost like your skin is glowing.”

“A light?”

“Some of the other survivors have described it like that. A light, and it’s kind of hot and cold at the same time. First it’s on your skin but then it’s inside you. Imagine it making its way inside you.”

“Oh, oh, I-, I remember, something?”

“That sounds familiar?”

“Yeah, it’s like, it hurt but it was a good kind of hurt. Like in your muscles after a big workout? What-, what happened? It came from the meteor shower, didn’t it? I remember the lights in the sky, and then the lights were falling and it’s like they were-, touching us?”

“Phil, keep your eyes closed. Hold onto that feeling, okay? Remember that light, inside you. You are doing really well.”

“Oh, oh, God. I remember, the light was inside my head. It’s like it was pushing me out, like there wasn’t enough room for the both of us. It was pushing down on my bones, my stomach, my brain? I felt heavy and-, weightless, and like I wasn’t in control.”

“Other people have described it like that too. You are doing well, what do you remember next?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Phil, please, we don’t have a lot of time. If you want to help your family, I need you to remember.”

“Kamala, the girls, they were there but it’s like it didn’t matter anymore? Like they weren’t any more important than anyone else, I guess? Everyone, everyone in the park, we were all moving in the same direction. We were all-, the light was inside them too. Oh, oh God.”

“What is it, Phil?”

“I hurt someone! I’m so sorry, oh my God, is that why I’m in these cuffs? I had my, oh, I had my hands around his throat and it-, wasn’t me! I wasn’t in control, you have to believe me! It’s like I couldn’t hold onto anything, my mind kept bouncing through time and I couldn’t hold on? Was this some kind of drug? Some kind of-, biological attack?”

“Yes, some kind of attack. Phil, I need you to keep remembering.”

“No, no! What is this? What happened? What happened to my wife and daughters?”

“Mr Tullman-,”

“No! I’m not answering any more questions until you tell me what happened!”

“Phil, you’re right, this was an attack. This was an attack but it wasn’t biological. It wasn’t-, earthly. It came with the meteor shower, it targeted large groups of people who were outside to watch. Some described it like rain, like this pure white rain of light that started falling on people, and it changed them.”

“No, you’re saying-, aliens? Is that what you’re saying? That’s crazy!”

“If you have any other explanation for what you remember, Phil, believe me, we would be only too happy to hear it.”

“This is an invasion?”

“The light changed people, and we have been fighting them. Fighting you. We have brought you out from under the control but we need you to answer our questions before the memories of that time fade out of your head.”

“How long?”

“It has been fifteen days since the meteor shower. Now please, Phil, what do you remember next?”

“It was a police station, that was where we went first. And then a gun store. We, they, wanted weapons? I don’t know, it’s like I was there, and everyone else was there, I could feel them, I could feel their memories, but the light was so much bigger and stronger than all of us. No one was giving orders, we just all decided to do the same thing at the same time. I don’t know how else to describe it but I think it was using our memories to figure out where to get weapons, and vehicles, and where to hide. It’s really been two weeks?”

“You said hiding, where have you been hiding?”

“Uh, underground I think, it’s dark?”

“Do you remember where we picked you up, Phil? We know you, or the light, those being controlled, we know you’ve been using the subway.”

“Right, the subway, that makes sense.”

“Do you remember any signs? Any writing? Anything that might indicate where your main base was?”

“Brighton Street? I remember a lot of warning signs, maybe construction? And, the Museum stop?”

“The controlled have been taking people, we know they are holding them somewhere. Do you remember seeing any big groups of people that were not controlled but were being held?”

“I-, I-, why would they do that? Why would they take people?”

“Phil, please, we don’t have a lot of time here.”

“Why do you keep checking that? Is there a timer? What’s going to happen when the time runs out?”

“I told you, the memories of your time being controlled don’t last very long. Soon you’ll forget everything after the meteor shower. Now tell me what you remember.”

“Museum, the Museum stop, some kind of underground-, I don’t know. I think they were building some stores and parking near there, construction? We were keeping people trapped there.”

“You are doing really well, Phil, better than about ninety percent of the people I’ve talked to. Do you remember anything about how you were getting past the barricades? Past the quarantine?”

“No, no, I don’t-, I don’t think I was part of that. I stayed in the city, in the tunnels.”

“Do you know what they were planning? What their next move was going to be? Remember the light, Phil, remember what it felt like.”

“No, it didn’t-, it didn’t work like that. There were no plans, no thinking about the future. It’s like everyone made a decision at once and you just did it, there was no, you, me, anymore.”

“Agent Mathers.”

“Oh, wow, he speaks! Your friend speaks!”

“Agent Mathers, I’m afraid we’re out of time.”

“Phil, I’m sorry, is there anything else you can remember?”

“It’s all-, two weeks? It’s really been two weeks? It’s all bits and pieces, what’s he talking about though? I can still remember stuff.”

“I’m sorry, Phil. We can bring you out from under their control but it’s only temporary right now. It’s only temporary, and it only works once.”

“Is that a gun? No, no! I told you everything!”

“I know, I’m sorry, Phil. It’s a hive mind, the light, it’s a hive mind. We need all the intel we can get but we can’t let it know where we’ve taken you.”

“Don’t do this, please! My wife, my girls!”

“I promise you, Phil, we have no intel on them. They have not been killed, not been captured so far as we know. If we find some way to remove the hive mind permanently-,”

“You can’t do this!”

“I’m sorry, Agent Thornton? Please.”

“No, ple-,”

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Sean: I was ruminating on the look of the Cloaker when I was inspired for this one. Intellect Devourer might have been a more logical choice (who doesn’t love the look of those guys?) but I could just picture the Cloaker wrapping its leathery body around someone’s brain and taking over. No doubt inspired by the Yeerks of my absolute favourite series as a teenager, Animorphs. Love Animorphs, I actually got into writing when I discovered Animorphs fan fiction as I wasn’t familiar with the idea of fan fiction before then.

As always, keep your eyes on the website for that one and check out what I’m putting down on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit if you’re so inclined. And thanks for reading!

Next Week’s Inspiration: Kenku

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