Jimmy stared out the window at the city. Or, what was left of it. There was a sinkhole in the street below him. The building a couple blocks over was knocked down, leaning on the one next to it. Even six stories up and through heavy glass he could hear the screams of the people running down the street. Above it all, the ship sat in the air. Parked. Obviously huge. Immense. Heavy. And unmoving, sitting in the middle of the sky as though it were pressed into land. Occasional lasers blast from it, destroying something else. So far, it hadn’t been pointed at Jimmy’s building. Given he lived on the top floor of an apartment building that already looked like it had been attacked at some point, he had an idea he was probably safe.
“Jimmy!” his roommate Ralph called from behind him. “Less staring, more packing, buddy! AIS in twenty minutes and we are blowing this hellscape.”
Their other roommate, Lizzy, had a family cabin upstate in the middle of the woods. The aliens were attacking major cities. It would at least give them time to figure out what the hell was happening, and what on earth they should do next.
He already grabbed his most important stuff shoved into a duffle. Underpants. Clothes. The Switch and his gaming laptop. Ralph had carefully packaged up the PS4 Pro back into its box and it was ready to go. Food. Should they bring food?
A couple minutes later he was standing in the pantry, pushing all the non-perishables into a backpack and wondering about grabbing a cooler for the Coors Banquets in the fridge when his ass started vibrating.
EMS message, probably.
But the vibrating didn’t stop, and he realized it wasn’t an alert. It was a call.
His veins froze and a twitch developed over his eye. The display on his phone didn’t show a picture of his mom. It showed a picture of a donkey’s ass.
Don’t answer it, he thought. But the niggling doubt wouldn’t stop. What if he’s in trouble?
“Yeah?” He put the phone to his ear and held it there with his shoulder as he pulled the half-full bags of Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of their boxes and shoved them on top of the soup cans.
“Don’t ‘yeah’ me,” Paul said from the other end of the line. “Where the hell are you?”
Jimmy glanced out the kitchen window to make sure he hadn’t been hallucinating the whole thing. The ship fired at some point in the city, and new smoke rose up.
“Uh…is this a trick question?”
“Your shift started half an hour ago!” Paul screamed loud enough to make Jimmy wince.
“I…um…have you looked outside lately?”
“I know what’s going on,” Paul said in such a way that Jimmy could see the handwave. “I’m looking at it right now. So what?”
“So…are you kidding me? We’re evacuating the city, man. We’re not sticking around.”
“Oh, no, you’re not. You are scheduled for an eight shift today and you are working it. Do you know how swamped we are right now?”
Jimmy let loose a laugh. “Swamped? How the fuck-”
“Everybody wants gas! Everybody wants food! We’ve got a line out the door and it’s all because you’re not here!”
“Oh, shit!” Jimmy put the phone down and glanced around the apartment until he found Lizzy, trying to shove both her cat and Ralph’s cat into the same carrier with unpleasant results. “Lizzy, you got gas in the tank?”
“Filled up last night, thank fuck,” she said, not looking up from the cats.
“Okay, phew.” He realized the phone in his hand was still squawking, something about leaving us in a lurch and third write-up and unacceptable.
“Yeah, man, I quit. You’re insane,” Jimmy said over the bird noises. He glanced out the window in time to see another huge green laser fire out of the ship, this time landing close to the apartment building.
The squawking on the other end of the phone stopped mid-word.
Jimmy stared at the phone for a few seconds.
“Jimmy!” Ralph called from the front door. “What the fuck, man, let’s go!”
“I think the aliens just destroyed the convenience store,” he said. “I think my boss is dead.”
Ralph shrugged. “Silver lining! Let’s go.”
Halfway down the stairs to the garage, huffing and puffing as he carried everything he owned worth a damn on his shoulders and arms, Jimmy came to an important decision:
He was happy his boss was dead, and was going to allow himself to have that. Imagining Paul vaporized in an instant while running his mouth kept him sane all the way up the freeway.