A Year Underfoot


July 7th, 2033

It was three a.m. on the morning of the fourth when they finally struck. I was wide awake, sitting on the edge of my bed, cleaning the .357 Smith & Wesson Magnum I’d picked up a few weeks earlier when a flash of scratchy white light lit up the room and signaled the beginning of the end.

This was it.

The power went dead.

I jumped to the window and gazed outside. The city had already fallen dark. There wasn’t a light to be seen anywhere. I had to get out of Los Angeles, and fast. If the dreams held true, and I knew they would, a firestorm would incinerate the city within the hour. If I were to survive, I’d have to get as close to the ocean as possible.

I grabbed my bug out bag and my mountain bike and shot out of the room. Two quick flights of stairs later and I was standing in the street in front of the cheap hotel looking up at the skies. I couldn’t see the alien fighters, but I could hear them rumbling in the distance.

This was really happening.

I hopped on my bike and hit the road. I ducked down a couple of side streets until I hit Santa Monica Boulevard and headed west. The ocean lay ten miles down the empty boulevard, and once I hit the shore, the plan was to head north to Malibu.

But first, I had to get there.

I lowered my head and pedaled hard. With the bars and nightclubs closed, the city was fast asleep and I had free reign of the quiet streets. I was making good time and I figured to reach the ocean in thirty minutes, forty-five tops.

I raced ahead, my head still bowed, my legs churning, my mind reeling. And, when I had occasion to look up, there they were, a tight line of sleek Threak fighters, – warbirds, as they’re called, – hundreds abreast and streaking toward the coast without an ounce of opposition.

I was right.

Damn it, I was right.

The warbirds were closing in at an incredible rate of speed and would breach the shore in a matter of seconds. I was still a few miles from the ocean, just east of the 405 Freeway overpass, pedaling hard and hoping I had gotten out in time.

I hit the underpass as the warbirds flew overhead and I watched as they broke off into groups of three and the carnage began. The plasma cannons on the bellies of the alien fighters went hot and entire city blocks burst into flames. No one was spared.

The lucky ones never rose from their beds.

And, although I couldn’t see the entire scope of the alien invasion, I knew what was going on just the same. The visions had seen to that. I knew this scene was being played out worldwide, from Moscow to Cairo, New York to London, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, no one was spared.

Despite our racial and religious differences here on Earth, we were all the same in the eyes of the Threak, – pests to be exterminated. We had the misfortune of sitting on resources they coveted. It was as simple as that, and in a matter of a few short hours, billions of people had been killed, – and millions more would wished they’d perished as well.

The fight for survival had begun.

God help us all.

I hit the ocean and kept heading north, cutting through Malibu as quickly as possible. I let out a sigh of relief when I left the retail strip of the PCH, – the Pacific Coast Highway, and ventured out into the unincorporated areas north of the city where I stood a better chance of surviving the attack.

I kept heading north until the sun peeked out over the eastern hills then I dumped the bike and climbed up a small bluff and looked south toward Santa Monica.

My gaze was greeted with fire as far as the eye could see.

From where I stood I watched the city burn, until the winds shifted and I had to pick up stakes and flee. Without the onshore breeze keeping the inferno at bay, it was only a matter of time before the fires raced up the PCH and overran my location, so I kept moving north.

And, here I sit, six hours later, – with my world on fire, wondering what tomorrow may bring.



About paul nevins

Fiction writer, reader and baseball fan.
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