Fiction by Tom Koperwas

“Redemption 1”

By Tom Koperwas

Frank Chambers was making scientific observations of storm phenomena over North America through a port in the International Space Station's cupola when it happened: an immense alien ship materialized in the upper atmosphere, a dense cloud of bright, crimson pellets flowing in its wake like a contrail of blood droplets. Frank cried out in dismay as the craft wavered and blurred like an object in water, then faded away into nothingness.

“You won't believe it,” sputtered Frank as his fellow astronauts, Russian Boris Semenov and Frenchman Louis Lavesque, rushed into the cupola, their eyes filled with concern. “A huge ship just dropped into normal space above the earth, seeding the atmosphere with something. Then it disappeared!”

“Perhaps it entered stealth mode,” Boris suggested sarcastically. Louis shrugged as he examined the ship’s cameras for images. “Nothing,” he said quietly.

Frustrated, Frank called Houston on the VHF space-to-ground radio network. “No unusual sightings reported from any Earth-based radar stations,” was the reply. “I don't like it,” Frank muttered grimly to his partners.

Ten days later, all communications from Earth fell silent.

Frank, Boris, and Louis stared silently out the forward window of the Advanced Crew Return Vehicle as it descended through the clouds toward Cape Canaveral, their minds engrossed in thoughts of the abandoned space station, and the fates of their families, friends, and countrymen. Frank’s hand gripped the coin the three had tossed to determine their Earthside destination. Boris squeezed a small picture of his young wife and daughter. Louis gently rubbed a small cross.

The astronauts emitted a collective groan when they broke through the low-hanging clouds, and approached the iconic space center filled with alien spacecraft and massive round prefab buildings.

“Look at all the people!” exclaimed Frank, as the wheels of the ACRV touched down on the landing strip’s hot tarmac. An endless sea of humanity, downcast and disheveled, shuffled slowly toward the entrances of the prefab buildings, driven on by cracking bullwhips in the hands of towering beast-men. The astronauts called out to the listless people to resist or run away, but to no avail. The lifeless people simply dropped their heads and wept as they marched inexorably into the round structures.

Stunned by the nightmarish sight, the astronauts stumbled uncomprehendingly toward a large dais in the middle of the crowd, where a twenty-foot-tall beast-man with a pig’s head stood.

“You who have slaughtered and consumed our animal brethren are the most violent, genocidal beings in the universe!” it squealed at the silent crowds. “We despise and denounce you with every fiber of our beings! We have sown the seeds of weakness in your atmosphere. Now it is our turn to be the butchers!”

“They even brought their own slaughterhouses,” cried Boris, pointing at the sheep-headed beast-men dragging stragglers and the old into the dark, smoky entrances.

“But we are not completely without pity!” continued the piggish speaker, a broad smile on its fleshy snout. Pointing at a large tanker ship, it proclaimed, “Your bodies will be reduced to fertilizer inside these transports. Then you’ll be flown to the garden world we call Redemption 1, where you’ll be given a chance to redeem yourselves as food for our crops.”

“Madness!” screamed Frank as he ran from the dais, through the wide-eyed crowds, toward an abandoned control tower. Inside the shady building, he found an office with a bed. Exhausted, he dropped down on the mattress and fell into a deep sleep.

Frank opened his eyes, and gazed at his wife preparing dinner in the kitchen. He’d fallen asleep in his easy chair again. These long hours were wearing him out.

“What in the world were you dreaming about, dear?” she asked. “You kept repeating the words seventeen days, over and over again.”

“That's how long it took for the aliens in my dream to slaughter everyone on Earth, matching the pace at which our industries slaughter animals, Vivian,” replied Frank.

“My goodness. What nasty aliens,” laughed Vivian, her eyes sparkling with mirth. “Dinner is ready. Come on, dear victim.”

Frank jumped up and went to the kitchen table. Looking out the window at his crimson- colored Butchers On Wheels truck, he put a piece of meat on his fork, raised it, and made a toast: “Here’s to putting pork on your fork.”

“Cheers,” said Vivian gleefully, as the red rain began to fall.

- Thomas Koperwas is a retired teacher living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada who aspires to write short stories of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in: Jakob’s Horror Box; Literally Stories; The Literary Hatchet; Blood Moon Rising.

 Copyright©2020 by Thomas Koperwas. All Rights Reserved.