Thursday, July 21, 2016
Blighters (Invaders From Beyond!) by Tim Major
Release date: July 9, 2016
Sub-genre: Dark Comedy, Alien Invasion
Them Blighters are everywhere.
They fell out of the sky last year, great horrible armour-plated slugs with razor-sharp fangs. But ugly as they are, they give the ultimate high to anyone nearby: a blissful, gleeful contentment that people are willing to kill for.
Not Becky Stone, though. All she wants is to drink beer, listen to her dad’s old vinyl, and get her life back to how it was before everything was all messed up.Blighters? Frankly, she could do without them.
The TV’s on, up in the corner. There’s no sound and the settings are messed up so the reds are like blood smears. Some guy’s talking, acting all superior. His specs look like they’ll slip off his nose even though it’s big as a beer can. The programme’s some Review of the Year on Channel 4, it looks like. The giant words JULY 2018 fade out from behind him and now there’s a video of a Blighter, except all fuzzy because it must have been nicked from YouTube and you can’t see the ridges on its shell or whatever it is they have on their backs. All the fuzziness makes it wiggly around the edges, like a Scooby Doo ghost. Looks like the Blighter’s sat on a beach because the background’s just beige and you can’t even tell how big the thing is. Part of the trouble’s that its head’s low to the ground, maybe pushing down into the sand.
The video goes bright white suddenly and the TV presenter pulls the kind of face he saves for stories where everything seems pretty sad but maybe all for the best. NATO shot first.
A few people are watching the TV, but they turn away once the YouTube clip’s finished. Some guy starts doing an impression, bending over double like the Hunchback of Wherever He Was. He’s lolloping around, groaning and swinging his pretend-heavy head at the guys holding pints around him. He freezes for a second, then bursts up with his arms spread wide, puffing his cheeks and making an explosion sound. One pint hits the carpet and smashes up glass and lager and the guy just laughs, the dick.
I’m at the bar before I remember that I won’t have any cash until tomorrow, when Dad’s money comes through. So I just stand there. This part of the pub’s weirdly quiet, like there’s a bubble around it.
“You got a Blighter back here or something?” I say, waving my hand, pointing out all the people that ain’t here.
Gail’s behind the bar, like always. She laughs at my joke. Last summer, that sort of gag was all the rage. Like, Is that a Blighter in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me? Or, You don’t need a Blighter to work here, but it helps.
Tim Major’s first novel, YOU DON'T BELONG HERE (a time-travel thriller) will be published by Snowbooks in September 2016. His SF novella, BLIGHTERS, was published by Abaddon in July 2016 and his previous novella, CARUS & MITCH, was published by Omnium Gatherum in 2015 and was shortlisted for a This Is Horror Award. His short stories have featured in Interzone, Horizons (the journal of the British Fantasy Society) and numerous anthologies. He is the Editor of the SF magazine, The Singularity, and blogs at www.cosycatastrophes.