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Ariel's face was sprinkled with sweat as she sat in her seat, feeling the rumblings from below. She squinted as the sun blared into her eyes through the double-plated window. Her hands clenched the cold, metal armrests as she stiffened herself against the chair with the seatbelt buckled tight and her feet planted into the floor.
Ariel twisted her head to her right.
"Would you like anything to drink?" the flight attendant asked, standing with the food and drink cart in the aisle.
Ariel cleared her throat. "No... thank you. I'm good."
"Sir?" The flight attendant brought her attention to the old, gray-haired man sitting next to Ariel.
He lowered his newspaper to peer up and smile at the flight attendant. He replied, "A coke will do just fine."
The old man set the newspaper down and pulled out his tray as the flight attendant prepared his coke. Leaning her head back on the seat, Ariel released a deep exhale. The flight attendant placed the can of coke and a plastic cup filled with chopped up ice down on the old man's tray.
"Thank you very much," said the old man.
"You're welcome, sir," The flight attendant leaned over to Ariel. "Are you sure you don't want—"
"I'm fine. Thank you."
The flight attendant's head twitched back from Ariel's reaction, but then nodded and smiled. She returned to the cart and moved forward to the next row. Ariel closed her eyes for a moment, letting her head fall back against the seat. She then opened her right eye, seeing that the old man was staring at her with the cup full of coke in his hand.
"Are you all right?" The old man took a sip of his drink.
"Is it that obvious?"
The old man chuckled and stated, "Just a bit."
He took another sip of his soda and set it down. He then reached for his newspaper and turned to the second page, which allowed Ariel to see the front page. She observed that the big story was about an airplane that went missing in-flight a few days ago. The picture with the article was of the plane parked at the airport. Ariel tried to look away from the article but couldn't help noticing.
"Um... sir?" Ariel asked. "Could you hide the front page for me?"
The old man flipped to the front page and laughed. "I guess this is the last thing you would like to see. No problem." He folded the newspaper to hide the front page. "Is that better?"
"Yes, thank you," Ariel tried to relax by taking a breath.
The old man reached his hand towards Ariel. "I'm Walter."
Ariel grabbed his hand, maintaining her stiff position, and they shook. "Ariel. Nice to meet you."
"It is quite a mystery if you ask me; a plane that goes missing over land. Over the water, one would just suspect that it sunk deep down. So of course it is going to be hard to find. But over land, it has to be on the surface somewhere."
"I would rather not talk about it, please," claimed Ariel.
"Oh, of course. Sorry," Walter apologized.
Walter returned to reading the paper, adjusting his suit jacket. Ariel's breathing became heavier as beads of sweat rolled down her face, causing her hair to stick to her skin. She then ripped off her gray blazer and threw it to the floor and sat back but fidgeted in her seat and tossed her head around as the sun continued to blind her. With one hand clenching on for dear life, she pulled down the veil over the window and sat back again.
"You should've asked for that drink. And I mean a real drink," Walter stated. "So. Business or pleasure?"
"Business. I wouldn't call this pleasure."
"I'm business as well. Heading to a conference. You?"
"Oh, um... I'm meeting up with a colleague to scout some land."
"What's the land for?" Walter set down his newspaper.
"My department is looking for a location to construct a facility for science experiments."
"In California?" Walter leaned in toward Ariel.
"Your department, huh? You work in government?"
"The federal government to be exact."
Walter rubbed his chin. "What are the experiments for?"
Walter's eyes widened. "Classified?"
Ariel nodded and faced forward, shutting her eyes.
Walter reclined back and returned to his paper, but a few seconds later, he folded it and stared in the distance, puzzled. "It's interesting that you mention Nevada."
Ariel turned to him with a firm look. "What do you mean?"
"Well, it's just... the missing plane," Walter leaned in again. "The last time it was detected on the radar was in Nevada. And now a few days later, the federal government wants to set up a science project in the same area. I just find that intriguing."
"Sir? Walter?" Ariel cleared her throat. "I would suggest not digging any further."
Walter moved away as Ariel glared at him. Both of them faced forward. He picked back up his newspaper. Only dead silence lingered in the air between the two of them. The flight attendant passed by.
Ariel lifted her arm. "Uh... miss!"
The flight attendant came over to Ariel. "Yes?"
"I think I would like that drink now," Ariel stated.
"Absolutely. We have soda, water--"
"Have any liquor?"
"Yes, we have beer—"
"Um... yes. Uh... we have one tiny bottle though."
"I'll take it!" exclaimed Ariel.
The flight attendant left Ariel as she headed towards the back. Ariel watched until she was out of sight. While turning her head back, she noticed Walter was looking at her over his paper, trying hard not to crack a smile. She ignored him. The flight attendant returned with a bottle of vodka no bigger than a full, grown mouse. Before the flight attendant could even say anything, Ariel snatched the vodka out of her hand. She twisted off the cap and began to chug it down. She then handed the empty bottle to the flight attendant and sighed into a restful position. The flight attendant and Walter looked at Ariel and then at each other. Walter shrugged, causing the flight attendant to cover her mouth in attempting not to laugh. She then left him and Ariel.
"Feeling better?" Walter asked Ariel.
Ariel nodded and muttered, "A bit."
Walter chuckled until both he and Ariel, along with everyone else on the plane, bounced off their seats and back down. The plane started to quake to the point of making everyone scream. Ariel and Walter clenched their hands on the armrests. The passengers rushed to buckle up.
The pilot spoke over the intercom. "Everyone fasten your seat belts and remain calm! We are hitting momentary turb—"
The plane spiraled straight down and dived toward the ground, causing everyone to whip forward and then to be pressed against their seats. The flight attendant fell through the air screaming and crashed into the front of the plane. All the men and women screamed and the children and babies cried. Alarms shrieked in short sequences through the plane, drowning out the passengers' cries. Luggage, overstuffed wheelies, duffel bags, and purses, fell out of the compartments, bouncing around, causing people to duck and knocking out some of the passengers. The oxygen masks popped out and everyone rushed to put on the masks, reaching out as the masks dangled away from them. Walter put his on and saw that Ariel was struggling with hers. Her eyes were full of tears and her breathing was uneven. He grabbed Ariel's oxygen mask and helped her to put it on. Now both of them placed one hand on their mask and the other on the seat.
The plane then diverted from going down to whirling all the way up, slamming the passengers backwards, almost sliding off the seats. The flight attendant's body fell again through the air but made no sound. Then the plane went back into a linear position, whiplashing the passengers around. The quaking transitioned into vibrations. Ariel's and Walter's bodies and seats shook in a spastic motion. The vibrations became more frequent as a deep and low hum emerged, forcing everyone to cover their ears.
Ariel muffled through her mask, "This can't be happening! It can't be happening!"
The sunlight beaming through the window changed into a translucent green. People hid their eyes with their hands and arms as the green light filled up the plane. It consumed everything, starting in the front and towards the back, heading for Ariel and Walter.
"What is that? What is that!" Walter cried.
The light then swallowed up all the passengers, including Ariel and Walter. There was nothing but green inside the plane, and then the light imploded, bringing darkness.
Vrooming down the highway in a beat-up, orange pick-up truck was Bret, a young, blue-collar looking man. All around him was the vast landscape of farmland, crops growing all up and down the road. Bret blasted country music on the radio as he sang along, tapping his fingers to the beat. While singing at a high note, he closed his eyes for his a few seconds. He opened them and then swerved, making his car veer off the road. It came to a sudden halt on the dirt, unharmed. He jumped out of his car and peered back at the direction he was coming from. Standing on the road was a young woman with long, brown hair in a gray pantsuit. Bret ran up to her.
"Miss?!" He stood in front of the woman, who was Ariel. "What do you think you're doing?!"
Ariel didn't even look at him. Her eyes wandered all around.
"Miss?" Bret leaned in closer. "You all right?"
Ariel still didn't respond.
"Miss?!" He snapped his finger at Ariel.
She jumped and stared in his direction, but not at him. She didn't blink.
"What are you doing out here?"
Ariel tilted her head to the side. Her mouth cracked open to say something but nothing came out. Her lower jaw dangled.
"Okay, let me... just get you off... the road now, huh?"
Bret grabbed Ariel by her shoulders and assisted her off the road. He led her to the passenger side of his truck and helped her in. Once seated, Ariel beamed ahead into space, still not blinking. He shut her door and climbed up back into the driver's seat. He buckled himself up and Ariel as well. "Miss? Can you hear me?"
Ariel sat paused and stiff.
"Hello?" Bret sighed and then looked up. "God forgive me."
He sighed once again and then took his hand and slapped her face.
"Ow!" Ariel placed her hand where Bret smacked her and glared at him.
"Who are you?! What... what am I doing here?!"
"Calm down, miss! It's OK! My name is Bret and I'm here to help."
"What's going on?!"
"I found you standing in the middle of the road. I'm gonna take you to the nearest hospital."
"What do you mean?! Am I injured?!" Ariel patted and searched her body.
"Nothing like that! You were just acting weird. It seemed like you went bonkers or something."
"Oh," Ariel ceased her body search. "Where am I?"
"On the highway," he stated.
"No! I mean... what state?"
Bret cocked his eyebrow. "What is the last thing you remember?"
"Uh... I think I was on a plane," she replied.
Bret stroked his chin. "A plane? Were you in a plane crash or something?"
"I don't know, maybe."
"But..." Bret looked all around the area. "There should be some wreckage around here." He faced Ariel.
She watched him, waiting for him to do something.
"Have you eaten anything? Are you hungry?" he asked.
"Okay, I know a good diner here."
Bret turned the ignition. The engine roared and transitioned into a purr. The car backed up onto the road and moved forward. He drove as Ariel gazed out the window. He switched his eyes back and forth between the road and Ariel. Every time he brought his awareness to her, his eyebrows furrowed down and his lips tightened. Once they were out of the fields of crop, just up ahead sat an old, dumpy gas station with a little diner. Bret pulled into the lot and parked his truck near the doors of the diner. He jumped out of the truck and headed toward the doors, but stopped when he noticed that Ariel wasn't with him. He turned around and saw her, sitting in the passenger seat.
"Come on," Bret waved her over.
She didn't budge.
"What the...." Bret dashed to the passenger side and opened the door. "You coming or what?"
Ariel didn't respond. She was back in her strange trance.
"Hello?" Bret then reached in and took hold of Ariel by the hands. "What's going on?"
He led her out of the truck and into the diner, walking along side her as he held her wrist and the back of her arm. Once inside, Bret seated her at the counter. A few people sat in the small diner. Most were men like Bret except for one elderly couple in a corner booth. The diner consisted of white and red trimming all around. The wood tables wobbled when someone shifted. And in a corner was a stand for on-the-go materials, including newspapers.
"Hey Bret!" A middle-aged waitress with too much makeup approached them from the other side of the counter.
Bret half smiled. "Hey Anne. Two cups of coffee please."
"Sure." Anne tilted her head at Ariel. "What's up with her?"
"Um..." Bret tilted his head at Ariel too and faced Anne. "I don't know. I found her standing in the middle of the road."
"Is she a zombie or something?"
"I found her this way and then she seemed to snap back. It's like she resets. Maybe you should make your special cup of coffee for her."
Anne tapped the counter and gave Bret a wink. "Coming right up." Anne then left Bret and Ariel for the kitchen.
"Okay, miss," said Bret, "I'm gonna be right back. Don't go anywhere."
Bret headed towards the bathroom, leaving Ariel by herself. She placed both hands flat on the counter and creaked her head to both sides of the diner, looking around. She set her eyes on a fellow sitting at the other end of the counter, drinking his coffee. He then realized that Ariel was eyeing him. He put down his coffee and studied Ariel. She then directed her eyes to the sugar and cream right next to him. He brought his attention to the sugar and cream. Both items began to shake. The fellow observed the phenomenon. In a split second, the sugar and cream slid down the counter towards Ariel by themselves. They halted right next to Ariel upright. No spillage appeared on the counter. The fellow, without taking his eyes off Ariel, stumbled out of the diner. She didn't take her gaze off him until he exited the building.
Moments later, Bret ambled out of the bathroom. He stopped as he passed the newspapers. He picked one up and read the front page. He saw that the top story was about many different planes going missing in-flight all over the world. The number for America had risen to twelve missing planes. After scanning through the story, Bret eyed Ariel. She continued to sit at the counter in a trance. Anne returned with the cups of coffee and set one down in front of Ariel. Bret put the newspaper back and went back to the counter to sit next to Ariel.
Anne bended down to eye level with Ariel and asked, "Are you okay, sweetheart?"
There was no reaction from Ariel.
Anne asked Bret, "You said she acted normal before?"
"Yeah, for a bit."
"What made her snap out of it?"
"Um," Bret looked around the diner and leaned in toward Anne and whispered, "I slapped her."
"Ah, I see." Anne bit her lip, nodding her head.
Bret settled into his seat and sipped from his coffee. Anne studied Ariel for a few minutes. She glanced around the room and then smacked Ariel on the face. The smack had no impact on Ariel. She continued to give a dead gaze. Bret and Anne both stared at Ariel with wide eyes.
Bret exclaimed, "I didn't see that coming!"
Ariel then brought her dead gaze to Bret. She took her hand and shoved it into Bret's face, covering his mouth. He tried to remove her hand but she didn't even budge.
Anne yelled, "What are you doing?!!"
Escaping through the cracks of Ariel's cupped hand was a green light as it entered through Bret's mouth. He screamed as the light beamed through his eyes. Ariel released Bret, allowing him to collapse on the floor. Anne screamed at the top of her lungs. She reached under the counter to pull out a shotgun and aimed it at Ariel. She cried, "What are you?!"
Everyone in the diner noticed what was going on. Some dashed for the door while some stood up from their tables, stepping closer to Ariel. Ariel directed her gaze at the shotgun and squinted her eyes as the same green light began to tint them. The shotgun in Anne's hand started to heat up as steam rose from the weapon, causing her to drop it. On the floor, the shotgun melted. Ariel reached over the counter and did the same thing she did to Bret with her hand. Anne collapsed to the floor as the green light faded into her body. Ariel, in good posture and with an emotionless face, turned around and faced the rest of the diner. The remaining customers, all gruff men, ganged up around and aimed their guns at her. Some of the guns shook, as some were steady.
"I wouldn't do anything if I were you," said a big man.
As the big man held his gun, Bret stood up, in the same posture as Ariel. He grabbed the big man's gun by the barrel and bended it without struggle. All the men in the diner waved their guns back and forth between Ariel and Bret.
"What the hell are you?!" asked a skinny man.
Rising up from behind the counter was Anne. She marched out into the dining area and stood next to Bret and Ariel. The three lined up next to each other, facing the armed customers with their dead gazes. The skinny man pulled the trigger of his revolver. The bullet went into Bret's chest but the wound disappeared. Bret moved his jaw as if there was something in his mouth. He laid his hand out flat in front and spat the bullet out, flicking it to the side. All the armed men looked at each other then ran for the door. But before any could leave, the green light streamed out of the chests of Ariel, Bret, and Anne, filling up the diner. The place exploded, the green light beaming in all directions. What remained were ashes of the building, but no bodies.
Rain pounded down on Walter as he dragged his feet, walking along the side of a road. Trees stood tall, blocking any nearby civilizations. Walter's eyes wandered and his jaw dangled. Coming up over a hill from behind was a car with the headlights flashing on Walter's back. The car pulled to the side of the road and a man in a denim jacket with red hair popped out of the driver's seat. "Sir?!"
Walter stopped but didn't turn to look at the man. The man reached into his car and pulled out an umbrella, bringing it over to Walter.
"Sir? Are you alright?!" the man asked.
Walter didn't answer him but continued to stare into space.
"Sir! I'm going to take you to the hospital, okay?!" the man consulted Walter.
He then took Walter by the arm and led him over to his car, holding the umbrella up above their heads. He helped Walter into the front seat and hurried over to the wheel. As the man sat down, he wiped the water off his face. After settling into his seat, the man scavenged through the car, pulling out an old, tattered rag from the backseat. He handed it to Walter. "Here you go. You can dry yourself off with this."
Walter didn't take notice.
"I'm sorry. It's the only thing I have... it's here if you need it," The man placed the rag down. "I'm Jeff by the way."
Walter continued with his dead gaze forward. Jeff squinted his eyes at Walter and scratched behind his ear as he studied Walter. "Well, okay then." Jeff took the steering wheel and moved the car back onto the road and went forward. As he drove, Jeff kept looked over at Walter. His mouth opened but closed, returning his eyes to the road. Jeff cleared his throat and said, "Crazy weather we're having, huh?"
Walter didn't react.
"Something must have happened for you to be out walking in this monsoon. Probably some sort of blow to the head. A car crash, maybe," Jeff frowned. "Then I should have seen a car back there, considering the direction you were walking in." He scratched the back of his head and peered at Walter. As he brought his attention back to the road, Jeff muttered, "Where did you come from?"
The rest of the drive was spent in complete silence, until they reached a hospital. The hospital, being a single, three-story building, was out in the middle of nowhere amongst the trees. Jeff parked the car and killed the engine.
"Okay, sir," said Jeff, "let's get you inside, huh?" Jeff unlocked the doors, making the locks pop up. Before he could even open the door, the locks went back down. He unlocked the doors again but the locks went back down. He glared over at Walter. "Are you doing that?"
Walter faced Jeff for the first time but still with the blank, emotionless expression. Walter clasped his hand over Jeff's mouth and the green light entered. After Walter released his grip, Jeff slumped into his seat, lying there. Walter returned to his previous position of staring in the distance. He sat there for a few minutes, waiting. Jeff opened his eyes, which had tints of green. The green faded and Jeff sat back up. He too now had the dead gaze. Both men acknowledged each other and exited the car. They walked towards the hospital, through the rain, carrying themselves in an inhuman-like manner. They entered through the hospital's sliding doors.
The single room of the cabin was dim. The windows were boarded up. The only light in the room was that from a lantern where Lester and two other men, Harry and Greg, sat around. The three men wore clothes that look dirty and tattered as if they haven't been washed in ages. Each one of them had thick beards and each was in desperate need of a haircut.
Lester stated, "How are we on food, Harry?"
"It's looking grim. We only have enough left for a week. Maybe even less. I was looking for some the other day but I didn't get far. A nester showed up," Harry replied.
"More seem to be moving into the area," said Greg. "I don't know why they would be interested out here."
Harry's eyes widened. "Maybe they know we're out here!"
"I don't think nesters have such capabilities to know our location," replied Lester.
"How do you know?" asked Harry. "Are you an alien expert all of a sudden?!"
"I'm just saying—"
"Whatever, Lester," said Harry.
The two men fell quiet.
Greg stated, "Should we all head out to find food?"
"I only think one of us should go. The more of us makes it harder to sneak by them," answered Lester.
"Okay, who then?" asked Greg.
The three glanced at each other, waiting for someone to volunteer.
Lester said, "How about you Harry?"
"Uh, I think no. I tried yesterday. One of you can go this time," responded Harry.
Lester and Greg looked at each other.
"Greg... how about you?" asked Lester.
"Me?! Go out there by myself with a gun?! You're kidding me!"
Lester replied, "You're getting better with the rifle."
"Not that much. I think you should go Lester."
"But..." Lester switched back and forth between Harry and Greg as they watched him. He sighed and said, "Fine. I'll go." Lester got up on his feet and snatched up a rifle leaning in the corner. He saddled the strap over his shoulder. With his hand on the door, he said, "If I'm not back by nightfall, you know what to do."
He opened the door.
The room brightened as the sun beat down on them. Harry and Greg lifted their arms, blocking the light. Lester stepped out and closed the door.
Harry said, lowering his arm, "I hope it doesn't take him long."
Greg reached into his jacket and pulled out a can of coke. He snapped open the lid and took a sip. Harry saw the coke and said, "Where did you get that?"
"I found it in one of the cabinets," Greg slurped from the can.
"We've been in this heap for months and I've never noticed that."
"Me neither till this morning. It was hidden behind a bunch of cobwebs. You want a sip?" Greg offered the can to Harry.
Lester, after leaving the cabin, hopped onto a beaten up motorcycle, leaning against the wall. Fallen leaves were everywhere. The woods were burning with reds, yellows, and oranges. He roared the engine and biked downhill on a dirt path. The dirt path stopped at the edge of a gravel road, which Lester skidded onto, speeding up. The trees around him became less and less as the gravel road converted to smooth asphalt. Lester stepped on the brake as he came upon the town area. All the buildings, abandoned and broken down, varied in size but the town itself was minuscule. To the left of the road were a total of ten buildings and to the right were nine. The rest were burnt to the ground. The ashes still remained. Lester hopped off the bike, parking it next to a building that had a rusty ATM machine in front. As he walked down the road, he swung the rifle off his shoulder and held it, pointing forward. He crept up the steps to one of the buildings and opened the doors, shoving his gun in first, and leaned his head inside. He aimed to the left and the right of the place before he entered inside. The place itself was almost bare. Many of the shelves were empty and the items that were left were scattered about and broken. Dried stains from spilled drinks and crumbled up packages of moldy food could be found on the floor. Cobwebs filled up most of the emptiness.
Harry clunked down two glasses on a table that he and Greg were sitting at. Greg took his can of coke and poured the same amount in each glass, which was halfway.
Greg tossed the empty can. He stated, "Too bad there isn't more."
"I think I have just the thing to fill them up," Harry pulled out a full bottle of vodka.
Greg laughed and asked, "Where did you get that?"
"I've had it all along," Harry filled up the rest of the glasses with the vodka. "Just been saving it for when the right time comes."
"So this is the right time?"
"No, just tired of waiting."
Both men picked up the drinks and tapped them together.
Harry said, "To the human race."
"And to whatever shall save it," replied Greg.
They took a sip, causing Greg to cough. Harry shook his head at Greg and continued to drink. Outside of the cabin, leaves rustled on the ground. Harry and Greg paused from their drinking and became quiet. Harry lowered down his glass.
Greg asked, "Do you think—"
The two men stayed quiet as the rustling continued. The rustling became crunching, growing louder and louder. The sound became clearer and then it ceased. Harry and Greg sat at the table, making no motion of any kind. Not even to blink. The doorknob jiggled.
Greg whispered, "What do we do?"
The men watched the doorknob twist and turn until it stopped. Greg let out his breath in small sequences. The door burst open. Greg screamed and Harry fell out of his chair as a figure appeared at the door. Stepping into the cabin was Walter, glaring at Harry and Greg with full, blaring green eyes. Greg could do nothing but stare at Walter while Harry was getting himself up from the floor.
"Harry!" cried Greg.
Walter stomped towards Greg. Greg snatched his drink and throttled it at Walter. As the drink splashed all over Walter, steam arose from his skin and a horrid cry from his mouth. Walter squirmed as he fell to his knees, covering his face. Harry and Greg observed Walter's reaction to the liquid.
Harry picked up his glass. "Grab him, Greg!"
"Just grab him! Quick!"
Greg dashed over to Walter and took hold of him. Harry approached Walter with his glass in hand. He clutched a handful of Walter's hair, bending his head back. With Walter's mouth wide open as he screamed, Harry poured his drink down Walter's throat. As the coke and vodka mix entered, a greater cry belted out of Walter and the green light escaped, shooting out of Walter and disappearing into the air. He became limp in Greg's arms.
Greg peered up at Harry. "What just happened?"
Harry bent down on his knee, studying Walter. "Sir?" Harry poked Walter's body.
"He's waking up!" exclaimed Greg.
Walter opened his eyes. He looked at the two men with his mouth cracked. "Who are you... where... what's going on?"
Harry and Greg glanced over at one another.
Lester scavenged through the whole store, tossing everything around. He scrambled to the backdoor and kicked it open, revealing a dark room. He started to feel around the right wall inside the room until he came upon a light switch. He flipped it on. The backroom was empty except for a mop and a bucket. Lester sighed and stared at the room, tapping his finger on the rifle. He shut off the light and closed the door. He ambled toward the front but halted at some shelves. He strapped his rifle back on his shoulder and with his hands pushed the shelves over. In frenzy, he started to push all of the other shelves over in the store. Everything clashing and clanging. Once the last of shelves crashed onto the floor, Lester hollered toward the sky. He used the rest of his energy to catch his breath, bending down and panting. He turned his head to peer out the window and went into a ducking position. A few nesters, Bret, Jeff, and Anne, were walking along the road. Lester crawled over to behind the counter, readied his gun, and leaned himself up against the counter. The sound of a bell occurred followed by the door closing. Lester steadied his breathing. Footsteps paced through the store. At every step, Lester's face would cringe. He peeked his head out from behind the counter. The nester was looking in the backroom. Lester's eyes squinted with familiarity. The nester turned around, letting Lester see that it was Ariel in the store.
Lester gasped, "Ariel?"
Ariel directed her attention at the counter. Lester returned to his position. Ariel's footsteps grew louder as she approached where Lester hid. Lester winced as Ariel slammed her hand down on top of the counter. He held his breath. Ariel stood there for a moment and exited the store. Lester started to breathe again. He reached out around his back and pulled out a walkie-talkie. He turned it on and clicked down on the button. "Harry?... Harry?... Greg? Someone?... Guys?" He released the button. The walkie-talkie made static sounds for a few seconds.
"Lester?!" Harry's voice came through.
"Harry! More nesters—"
"Lester! You'd never believe it! We found it!"
"Their weakness! We know how to take them out without hurting the person."
"Slow down! What do you mean?! How?!"
"Coke and vodka!"
"A nester showed up at the cabin while we were drinking coke and vodka. You should have seen it! Greg just threw his drink at the guy and it hurt him. Steam and everything! I poured the drink down the nester's throat and that weird green light came out of him! The dude is completely normal now!"
"Really?!" Lester chuckled, "Completely normal?"
"Yeah! His name is Walter."
"Coke and vodka down the throat?" asked Lester
"You just have to splash them with it first so you can make them drink it. You better gather as much as you can while you're in the town."
"Right, of course. You better watch out though. I just saw three nesters walking by and another entered where I am. Who knows how many more?"
"Well, I guess this is good timing with the weapon for these things. Stay safe," stated Harry.
Lester tucked the walkie-talkie back behind him.
Harry set down his walkie-talkie on the table where Walter was sitting. Walter scratched his head, staring off.
"I can't believe it! I just can't believe it!"
Greg approached Walter with a glass of water. He handed it to Walter and responded, "I know it's hard, Walter. Can I call you Walt?"
Walter nodded and gulped down the whole glass of water.
Greg continued, "Well, Walt. It's not all completely bad news."
"How?" he asked.
"You're back," stated Harry. "You're not a nester anymore."
"Is that what you call them? Nesters?"
Greg replied, "Nesters, green-eyes, ETs, what have you."
Lester, in the back of the store, was pouring vodka into a half-filled bottle of coke. He tightened the lid and shook it. With the rest of the vodka, he dumped it into a mop bucket that contained the other half of the coke. After he emptied the vodka bottle, he grabbed the bucket and swished it around to mix the drinks. With the coke bottle in one hand and the bucket in another, Lester walked out of the store. He looked in both directions of the main road, seeing none of the nesters. He inched over to the side of the building, setting down the bucket and bottle. He readied his gun and shut off one bullet. The blast echoed through the town and the woods. He strapped his gun and picked up the bucket. He hid at the side, peeking out. A few minutes go by and no nesters stir about.
Lester spoke to himself, "Come on. Where are you?! Come on, Ariel."
A twig snapped. Lester faced toward the back. Standing at the other end of the wall was Ariel, staring straight at him.
Lester raised the bucket. "I'm right here, ET!"
Ariel marched at him. Once she was a few feet away, Lester splashed the mixture from the bucket onto Ariel. She cried and squirmed as steam came off her. Lester snatched the coke bottle and twisted off the cap. He grabbed Ariel and poured the rest of the mixture down her throat. The green light streamed out of Ariel and vanished. She collapsed, but Lester took hold of her with both arms. He lowered down to his knees as he held her.
She didn't move.
"Come on! Ariel! Can you hear me?!"
Ariel's eyes fluttered open and saw Lester. He smiled.
"Lester?" She gazed up at him without blinking. "Lester!"
Lester drew her in closer to him, allowing her sob into his chest. He rubbed her back. "It's okay. Everything is okay."
She lifted her head up from his chest and they looked at each other, pulling into one another with their eyes. They kissed.
Harry stood at the opened door as he peered out into the wilderness. Greg and Walter sat at the table, playing with some cards.
Greg pulled a card from the deck. "So Walt. What were you before all this?"
"I was a doctor. A neurosurgeon. I was on my way to a conference in LA until," Walter cleared his throat and continued, "that green light came into the plane."
"A brain doctor, huh? Me and Harry both worked at this factory. We were out for lunch when a nester came in and blew up the whole place. And our buddy Lester... in fact... I wonder where he is now. Harry?"
Harry responded, "I've tried him on the walkie-talkie."
"Come over and sit down, man. Standing at the door isn't going to speed things up," stated Greg.
Harry shut the door and ambled over to a chair at the table, placing his elbow on the table and leaning his head on a fist.
"So who's Lester?" asked Walter.
Greg replied, "Lester is some government official that we came upon in the heat of it all. He and a bunch of other people were involved in some sort of top secret project about these nesters."
"That's very peculiar," said Walter.
"What do you mean?" asked Harry.
"Something about that sounds familiar."
The door swung open and the men directed their eyes away from the cards. Lester entered the cabin followed by Ariel.
"Guys," said Lester, "I want you to meet Ariel... my fiancé."
The men just stared at Lester and Ariel for a brief moment. Harry piped up, "You had a fiancé?"
Walter squinted his eyes at Ariel and then they widened. "Wait... Ariel?"
Ariel noticed him, "Walter?"
The three men switched their eyes between Ariel and Walter. Lester asked, "You know each other?"
Ariel pointed at Walter. "He was next to me on the plane."
"Wow. What a small world," laughed Greg.
Ariel turned to Lester. "What has happened? How far did the research go?"
"We discovered quite a lot before a nester came. We found everything except a weakness."
Harry stated, "Until now."
Lester nodded, "Until now."