Frej Wasastjerna




Close the windows and bar the doors!

Is everybody inside?

All humans inside, check.

Woofy inside, check.

Where's Fluffy? Is she still outside? Oh hell, then she has to take her chances, we can't go out and look for her.

All lights on.

Flashlights, candles and matches in case of a blackout, check.

Rifle ready and loaded, one round chambered, safety on, check.

Okay, you others go to sleep, it's my turn to stand guard with Woofy.



Waiting as the hours creep by. Reading to help me stay awake.

Getting drowsy. Standing up. Still drowsy.


Woofy barks! That special bark that makes all my hairs stand on end, suddenly I'm wide awake and grab the rifle.

Quiet, heavy steps outside--and a meow at the door. Rush to the door, open it, Fluffy streaks inside. Close the door, fast.

The steps come closer. I accidentally glance in the direction of the window--no, don't!

I jerk my face away, facing the inner wall, but even the glimpse I got of what's out there makes my legs give way and my dinner come up.

Supporting myself on the rifle and ignoring the puddle of vomit, I raise myself up on shaky legs and make my way into a room on the other side of the house. I close the curtains, carefully not looking out in case there's another of the aliens on this side.


No one knows where they came from. They were just there one night.

Nobody can tell what they really look like, because nobody has seen one and remained sane.

Even photographs, taken by automatic cameras, force people to look away. With enough processing to blur the picture, you can look, but then all you see is a black blot.

What I barely glimpsed was emptiness. Absolute, utter emptiness.

Not a vacuum. A vacuum is still a thing of this universe, nice and comfortable.


Something from outside this universe. Not just complete darkness but a denial of the possibility of light. Not a mere absence of matter, a refutation of the concept of matter.

And something that pulled at my soul, trying to tear it from my body, to yank it into a universe beyond our comprehension.

And something beyond that. Something that my mind refuses to face, that no human language could describe.

Let's call it distilled essence of nightmare, knowing that that description is like calling the sun a blob of something warm out there.


What good is a rifle against something like that? I don't know.

I can't aim at one of those aliens, only point the rifle in the direction where I think the alien is and then fire.

If I hit it, what then? Does a bullet have any effect on them? Nobody knows.

The rifle is really only a safety blanket.


Yes, Gertrude, I'm all right. Did I scream? I didn't notice.

Just tell the kids that everything's all right now, even Fluffy is in here, safe and sound.

But we'll need curtains at every window.


Eventually the sun rises.

The aliens never appear in daylight, so it's off to work, doing as much work as I can after having spent the night awake--and after having been scared out of my wits.

And then, after work, off to buy more curtains.