None of the three of them slept well that night. Bob could feel, through the energy of the alien balls of light in his body, the psychic presence of Phil trying to console him, though it wasn’t enough to stop Bob’s sobbing or to help him sleep.
All Michelle could think about was the impending air strikes. Actually, she was trying to think only about that looming danger, because it was taking her mind off of something far more painful. She was trying not to think about her dead mother, though the killing of Phil, and how it reminded her of her mother’s killing, was making it difficult to forget. Only her worries about the American air force and drones bombing where they were could approach helping to take her mind off the loss of her mother…and those worries did nothing to help her sleep.
Peter, who held Michelle’s trembling body in his arms in bed, and stroked her hair–to soothe her–still found himself unsure if he could trust Bob and the aliens. He wanted to trust them…needed to trust them, for Michelle’s sake…but he couldn’t completely. The only way he could reconcile himself to them was to know he trusted the American empire far less.
The next day, Bob drove them east out of Luanda in a rented car to the hideout where Lenny Van der Meer and his army of human carriers–of the tiny, white balls of light–were. They arrived at about 2:55 pm.
The place was a huge warehouse in the middle of nowhere: it was surrounded by a flat, empty landscape of pebbly ground dotted with occasional tufts of grass and even more occasional, isolated trees. Two people were standing at the entrance to the building. A parking lot was filled with cars. Bob parked there, and he, Peter, and Michelle got out of the car.
Bob was the first of the three to approach the two at the large doors in the front centre of the building. He let out the balls of light to assure the two that he, Peter, and Michelle were friends. They were let in.
Inside were aisles of pallet racks filled with stored goods in boxes throughout. No employees were anywhere to be seen, though.
“Where is everybody?” Peter asked.
“Downstairs,” one of the two at the door said, gesturing with his outstretched arm at a stairway to the basement at the far left of the warehouse. “Go that way.”
“Thanks,” Michelle said, and she, Peter, and Bob walked over to the stairs.
As they approached the stairs, they could hear a crescendo of buzzing voices speaking indistinctly as a group. Obviously there was a large group of people down there.
They went down to the bottom of the stairs, where they pushed two large red doors forward to lead them into a huge basement filled with people. The glowing dots of light were floating above the heads of everyone, illuminating the entire basement so well that the electric lights had been left off the whole time.
Peter, Michelle, and Bob walked through the sea of people with no resistance from anyone. In fact, every face that looked at them greeted them with a smile.
“I’ve almost forgotten the days when those lights actually used to scare me,” Peter said loudly in Michelle’s ear.
“Me, too,” she said in his with equal loudness, as if in revenge for his hurting her eardrum.
“We know the feeling, too,” a middle-aged man Peter was passing by said to him.
“What?” Peter asked him.
“You aren’t a carrier of the alien lights, are you?” the man asked, to which Peter and Michelle shook their heads. “Neither are we,” he said, gesturing to a woman standing with him. He shook Peter’s hand, and the woman shook Michelle’s. With greying hair, they were twice Peter’s and Michelle’s ages.
“I’m Peter Cobb-Hopkin. This is my girlfriend, Michelle Buchanan.”
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Tory Lee, and this is my wife, Karen Finley.”
“You kept your surname,” Michelle noted with a smile.
“Yes,” Karen said, grinning back. “It’s the feminist in me.” She gave a little chuckle.
“My dad was the Cobb, my mom the Hopkin,” Peter said. “She thought similarly. So, the lights never go inside you two either, eh? They know you’re sympathetic to their cause?”
“We were sympathetic right from the beginning,” Tory said. “We took note of who the victims of ‘The Splits’ were right away–either wealthy, powerful people, or their bootlickers.” He then frowned slightly.
“And we never bought that story that ‘The Splits’ was a new virus,” Karen said, who also frowned slightly at Tory’s last words. “We caught on early that it was an alien intervention.”
“I didn’t know about aliens, but I’d been skeptical that The Splits was a virus from Day One,” Peter said. “That’s because I’d been skeptical of all those ‘coronavirus variants’ that had come before.”
“Oh, yeah,” Tory said. “Those were all obvious government psy-ops.”
The dots of light were humming a soothing middle C, getting everyone’s attention and stopping the talking. They then lessened their glow, dimming the room and making everyone look towards a podium with a spotlight.
Lenny Van der Meer stepped onto the podium.
“There he is,” Tory whispered.
“Who?” Peter asked, not recognizing Lenny’s face from far off.
“Lenny Van der Meer,” Karen whispered. “Our leader.”
“Friends, brothers and sisters,” Lenny said into a microphone. “Let us all remember why we’re here; and for those humans who haven’t been altered by us from the planet Bolshivaria, those honorary humans with no need of a purging, we Bolshivarians will allow you to receive our communication as we would communicate with each other, for ease and clarity of understanding, without the limitations of human speech.”
“That sounds a bit arrogant,” Peter said.
“Shh!” Michelle said, frowning at him.
“Let’s all close our eyes, clear our minds, and listen,” Lenny said. “Relax, take deep breaths, and let us come inside you humans. We won’t hurt you; don’t be afraid. Remember, we’re your friends.”
I want to believe you, Peter thought. But I’m still not sure. Well, I’ll open my mind and give you a chance.
He, Michelle, Tory, and Karen, as well as all the other non-carriers in the basement, felt the lights enter their bodies. They felt no pain at all; in fact, the gentle vibrations felt from head to toe were quite soothing.
Indeed, the Bolshivarians’ intentions were communicated with a clarity and precision that no words, of any verbally expressed language, could ever convey. One didn’t hear or see a language: one felt it.
The Bolshivarians’ mission was to save the Earth from her Earthlings. Not only would they rid humanity of corrupt, warmongering politicians; not only would they eliminate world poverty, homelessness, and inaccessibility to healthcare and education; not only would they purge the world of the greedy rich. They would end the ecological destruction of the planet. The oceans, land, and air would be purged of pollution. No more wildfires. No more rising sea levels. Global warming wouldn’t only be stopped…it would be reversed.
This seems too good to be true, Peter thought.
Tory and Karen had the same doubts, though they wanted to believe it as much as Peter did.
Michelle fell in love with the message vibrated throughout her body.
The Bolshivarians’ message continued to be sent directly into the brains of everyone in the basement: no more city-states, each governed by a corporation. The numbing, apathy-inducing effects of vaccines imposed on world populations would be nullified. No more loneliness. No more alienation, no more mutual hate and anger, but communities of loving people, working and helping each other. We Bolshivarians can transform your world. We are your salvation.
This, from the aliens that killed my parents? Peter wondered.
I watched our 22-year-old son get torn to pieces, Karen thought. He was an ambitious yuppie, but did he deserve to die because of ambition? Did our salvation really necessitate his death?
We’ve had to bury our feelings deep down, just to survive, Tory thought. Just to escape our son’s fate.
Now the message changed from promises of an improved world to a kind of communion with the Bolshivarians, a shared consciousness. Vibrations passed from person to person in waves moving from one side of the basement to the other. A collective empathy washed over all of them in a cool cleansing.
Oh, this feels wonderful! Michelle thought, grinning. Beautiful!
All in attendance experienced a peaceful, oceanic state. Ripples of soothing vibrations flowed back and forth, left and right, among all of them. They were no longer separate entities: they were all one. Even Peter, Tory, and Karen let go of their doubts and began to enjoy the experience.
Not even acid feels this good, Tory thought.
Everyone, always with his or her eyes shut, always breathing in and out slowly and deeply as if meditating, fell into a dreamlike state. They all started seeing familiar faces from their pasts.
Bob saw Phil approaching him. I miss you so much, Bob thought, a tear running down his cheek. It’s as if you’d been gone for years.
Don’t feel with your human body, Phil told him in his thoughts. Feel through the Bolshivarians inside you, and it will be as if I’d never left you. We’re all united through them. You know that.
Tory and Karen saw the face of their son. Cameron! mother and father shouted out to him in their thoughts.
Don’t be angry with the Bolshivarians on my account, he told them mentally. They didn’t kill me. My rejection of their values did. I lived a greedy, selfish, ambitious life. They gave me a chance to rethink my attitude, to reject my greed, and I refused to. It’s that kind of selfishness that’s destroying all life here. Better that a few of us die than everybody. If only I’d had the eyes to see where I was going wrong, while I still had the chance. I failed you both. I’m sorry.
Both parents’ faces were soaked with tears.
Peter saw his mom and dad before him. His heart thumped harder and faster.
You were right, son, his father told him. We should have listened to you instead of chasing money and power.
Yes, Peter, his mother echoed in his thoughts. We are so sorry. The Bolshivarians tried to show us the way, and we wouldn’t open our minds to it. Our deaths were all our fault. Don’t blame them.
Are these really my parents’ spirits? Peter wondered. I’d really like to believe it’s them…I so, so want to believe it’s them!…but is it an illusion the Bolshivarians are pushing on us to make us all side with them? Was President Price right in warning us of their attempts to get us on their side, or was she lying, the way the American government always lies? Again, the only thing making me side with the Bolshivarians is my hate for the political establishment of our world, which has already proven itself the worst that anything could possibly be. But can there be anything worse than that?
Finally, Michelle saw her father.
I’m so sorry for not listening to you, Michelle, he told her psychically. I brought my death onto myself. It was all my fault.
“Oh, Daddy, don’t blame yourself,” she whispered, her closed eyes letting out a few tears. “You didn’t know.”
I refused to allow myself to know, he said in her mind’s ear. Your mother did, and she allowed herself to adapt, as I should have done.
Then Siobhan appeared, standing next to him in Michelle’s vision.
“Mom!” Michelle sobbed audibly. “How are you two here?”
(Peter heard her, turned his head in her direction, then resumed listening to his parents, his eyes kept shut the whole time.)
When the aliens came inside us, they absorbed our energy, her dad said. We are part of the Bolshivarian collective consciousness, even in death. We’ll always be with you, Michelle.
We’ll never leave you, sweetie, Siobhan said. Don’t grieve.
Michelle was sobbing louder.
Just let the balls of light come inside you, and you can commune with us anytime, her father said.
It’ll be as if we never left you, Siobhan said.
“Yes,” Michelle sobbed.
We never really died, sweetie, her mom said. We died only in body.
“I love you,” Michelle sobbed.
We love you, too, her father said. Now, to show us your love, do as the Bolshivarians wish.
“I will,” Michelle said, wiping the tears off her cheeks.
It’s for the good of humanity, Siobhan said.
The apparitions vanished. The dots of light came out of everyone, they rose up above the people’s heads, and everyone opened his eyes. All eyes were now on Lenny again.
“Friends, brothers and sisters,” he said into the microphone. “It is time to band together. Our enemy is about to strike, and we must be ready.”
OK, Peter thought. I just hope that the greater enemy isn’t you.