The next day, Peter sent a video to Michelle’s phone. He added this message:
Have you seen this on TV, Michelle? I suspect your mom would have made sure you didn’t, for obvious reasons. Otherwise, if you’d watched it and she caught you, it might have been dangerous. The guest on ‘Toronto This Morning’ is named Lisa, also the name of the woman who got that video I sent you yesterday. Judging by what she says in this video, I’m sure it’s the same woman. Watch it and tell me what you think. Love, Peter
Michelle clicked PLAY on the YouTube video, a recording from a local talk show that had been live earlier that day.
HOST: Welcome back to Toronto This Morning. Our next guest says there has been…get this…an alien invasion [sarcastic moaning among the others in the studio]. Remember those tiny white dots of light we used to see giving people The Splits? Well, now they are the aliens our guest wants to warn us about, apparently [tittering among the others]. Our guest says the little lights either kill us, or take control of us. Many of us, she says, are already secretly being controlled by them, mixing in with the public and influencing everything around us. [more sarcastic moaning] Who knows? Maybe I am one of them [more moaning]. Maybe you are [laughing]. Anyway, to tell us herself, here’s our guest, Lisa Merrick.
[Everyone in the studio applauds as Lisa walks in and sits next to the host. The applause ends.]
HOST: Good morning, Lisa. Thanks for joining our show.
LISA: Thanks for having me, Mary.
MARY: So, it is your conviction that The Splits was never a virus, but was aliens infiltrating human bodies. Is that right?
MARY [smirking]: …and where do you think they came from?
LISA [with a furrowed brow]: Where do you think aliens usually come from?
MARY: In this case, Santa Mira, perhaps?
[laughter from the others]
LISA: Hannah Gould, widow of Derek Gould–the former CFO of MedicinaTech, who, you’ll recall was the first to die of The Splits–she became a carrier of the so-called virus. She told a few people, including a Doctor Phil Gordon, who treats patients in Regent Park, that she saw the white dots of light fly down to Earth from the night sky.
MARY: Yes, told a few people–a few conspiracy theorists…
LISA: Oh, yeah, never believe those wackos…
MARY: Some people claim she said that. Here’s video of her from a week ago.
[Cut to video of Hannah, who with a grin reminding Michelle of her mother’s, says, “Oh, nonsense. I never said anything about tiny white dots of light flying down from space. When they hit my husband, they flew out from the trees we were walking by in Queen’s Park. I don’t know where people get these stories from.”]
LISA: She’s one of them. Of course she’ll deny it.
MARY: Then why would she have told anybody before?
LISA: Sometimes they confess who they are to people they think will sympathize with their cause, but never to the general public.
MARY: And what ’cause’ is that? Global enslavement?
LISA: We don’t know, but if some of us, if any of us, sympathizes, I don’t think the agenda is enslavement.
MARY: If that’s not the agenda, then what is it?
LISA: I don’t know what their agenda is, if there even is an agenda, but I do know that there are some people they won’t attack and try to get to assimilate, and the only logical reason for that is that either they know we, those not attacked, sympathize with their secret plans, or they at least think we do. I don’t consider myself sympathetic, but whenever those little glowing things appear, they never enter my body, which is really easy for them to do. They’ll hover before me, like they’re studying me, but they don’t come inside me.
Michelle nodded in total agreement with her.
MARY [exasperated]: Look…do you have any proof of any of this?
LISA: I…used to. I posted a video, from my smartphone, of myself and a guy named Greg Ballantine sneaking into the apartment of a guy I know is a carrier of those aliens. When we confronted him, the things attacked and killed Greg, and this was the second time I’d seen them, and they didn’t enter me. [Weeping] Poor Greg.
[A shot of Mary looking at Lisa with no empathy or emotion. Just that all-too-familiar smile.]
Michelle’s eyebrows rose at the sight of Mary’s facial expression.
LISA [sobbing]: I feel responsible for his death. If I hadn’t made him come with me, he’d still be alive. He had big ambitions. He was going to start a business in smartphone apps, and–
MARY [shaking her head]: What happened to your proof?
LISA: I posted it on YouTube. It had about a thousand views before they took it down.
MARY [sneering]: And your original video? If you have your phone on you, we could show it here.
LISA [hesitating, with a look of embarrassment]: I…was going to show you the video here…but when I got in my car,…the white lights flew in and got at my phone.
MARY [chuckling]: They erased your video?
LISA: Y-yes. [She’s looking down at her shoes.]
MARY [gloating]: Well, you seem to have an excuse for having no proof for your fantasies–isn’t that convenient?
LISA [scowling]: Actually, it’s very inconvenient. I really wanted to show everyone the proof on live TV. Get the message out to millions of people, so by the time it got pulled off the air and deleted by YouTube, it would be too late for the aliens to keep their secret.
MARY: Oops! Tough luck. [laughing]
LISA: Tough luck for me, but very convenient for you, wouldn’t you say, Mary? [Looking deeply into Mary’s eyes, with suspicion in her own.]
MARY: Why are you looking at me like that, Ms. Merrick? Do you think I’m one of the pod people?
[Sarcastic moans from the people in the studio.]
MARY [looking at the others in the studio]: Seriously, I think she’s going to reach at me, tear off my human face and reveal my green reptilian form.
OFF-SCREEN MAN’S VOICE: V for Victory! [Loud laughter from all, except Lisa.]
LISA [glaring}: Seriously, if you were one of them, you’d never show it on TV.
MARY: You know, it’s funny. I heard just last week, from one of you conspiracy theorists, that there’s an easy way to kill the aliens. [Grinning facetiously] Just spray them with bug spray, and they all drop–
LISA: Yes! That’s right! [Jumps up from her chair.]
[An explosion of laughter from all around the studio. She tries to speak loud enough to drown out the laughing.]
LISA [very excited]: Spray any kind of insecticide on them, and the little balls of light lose their glow and fall on the floor like pebbles! That will kill them! Really, believe me! A maid working in the White House was spraying bugs when she saw them flying in a swarm into the Oval Office! I saw it in a video deleted by YouTube! She sprayed bug spray on them and they all di–
The video cut off at that moment. Michelle could barely make out what Lisa said over the overwhelmingly loud laughter, but she got the gist of it.
A few minutes later, Peter called her.
“Hello?” she said.
“I assume by now you’ve finished watching the video,” he said. “What do you think?”
“I think I’d better get my hands on some Raid,” she said.
“I already have mine in hand,” he said. “Do you have any at home?”
“Yeah, of course. Two cans in the kitchen cupboard, below the sink.” Still holding her cellphone, she walked out of her bedroom and down the stairs in the direction of the kitchen.
“You might wanna hurry, Michelle. They may have been thrown out by you-know-who. Are they still there?”
“Good question.” Michelle raced into the kitchen. She swung the cupboard doors open.
“Fuck!” she shouted, slamming the doors shut.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Siobhan asked, entering the kitchen.
“N-nothing, Mom,” Michelle said, trying to hide the tension on her face with an uneasy smile.
Her mom smiled back, in her usual way.