‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book III, Chapter Seven

The following week, the carriers and sympathizers had their next meeting in the basement of the gym, chaired by their new leader, George Villiers-Joseph. His close friend and associate, Karol Sargent, sat by him as he stood at the podium.

George’s bodyguards were double the number that Lenny Van der Meer had had, for obvious reasons. Though George tried to keep everyone’s spirits as raised as possible, there was an undeniable energy of paranoia spread throughout the room.

“Comrades, brothers, and sisters,” he began with a big smile under that moustache. “Now that we have mourned our fallen from last week, and have determined that, beyond a reasonable doubt, Karen Finley acted alone in perpetrating the tragedy last week…”

Peter and Michelle took a quick glance at Tory, who sat to their left, to see his reaction to George’s words. He seemed unaffected, paying close attention to every syllable that came out of George’s mouth.

“…we can finally turn the page of that sad chapter in our community’s history, and look ahead with cautious optimism to our future,” George went on. “First, I’ll discuss our progress, then, our challenges. Not only have we made significant reversals in rising sea levels and flooding here in South America, but also in the City-States of Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Wildfires around the world have been fewer, too, thanks to Bolshivarian efforts. The ruling classes of the Earth have actually stopped interfering with us in these areas: not out of a spirit of goodwill or compassion, but because they plan that, once the whole Earth has been rejuvenated, their big business/governments can resume raping the Earth and profiting from such ravaging to the maximum.”

Tory leaned over to Peter’s ear. “This is part of where I must criticize George,” he said. “As soon as the healing of the Earth is finished, the capitalists will start destroying it again. I believe we should crush the capitalists first, all of them, then repair the Earth, when there won’t be anyone else to harm her again.”

“What was that?” Michelle asked.

“He was just saying he doesn’t like how George is managing things,” Peter told her.

“Why?” she asked. “Don’t all Bolshivarians have the same agenda, no matter who the leader is, Tory?”

“The Bolshivarian consciousness merges with the human brain of the carrier,” Tory said. “Just as the limitations of the human mind affect the Bolshivarians’ judgement, so do the biases of the human personality affect it. I think George’s personality might not be suited to lead our cause.”

Frowning, the three of them resumed listening to George.

“So we have done a good job of cooling the planet and eliminating pollution, too,” George said. “We’ve also made considerable progress in teaching South Americans about our advances in medical technology, healing the sick here, educating the people in general, providing housing and employment, and replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind energy.”

“All wastes of time and energy,” Tory whispered. “Revolution first.”

Peter turned his head slightly towards Tory when he heard that.

“So, that was the good news,” George said. “Now for the challenges we face. We have begun training and preparing the people, carrier and non-carrier alike, for the imminent invasion by UCSA and NATO forces, all the military divisions of their multinational corporations.”

“Now, that’s more like it, George,” Tory said. “Keep the revolution unending ’til we win.”

Peter and Michelle smiled at those words.

“We have plans to protect ourselves and survive a nuclear attack if it comes to that,” George went on. “We have been largely successful in the war in Africa, despite heavy Bolshivarian losses, repelling the fighter jets and bug spray attacks from drones, so we should have similar successes here in South America if they try attacking us that way.”

The energy of the room was improving.

“Finally, as you can see here, I have doubled my security in case of another treasonous attack,” George said. “The Bolshivarian lights you all see floating over your heads are monitoring the thoughts of everyone in the audience, as I speak. Have no fear: if your intentions are good, you’ll be perfectly safe.”

I don’t like the sou– Peter began to think, then, looking up, thought, Shut up, brain.

“And in the event of my death,” George went on, “my good friend, Comrade Karol Sargent, will take my place as leader.”

Tory’s eyes lit up at the sound of those words.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book III, Chapter Six

Peter and Michelle went with Tory Lee to his home right after the meeting in the gym that night. His home was across the road from the gym, but on the side opposite to that of Peter’s and Michelle’s apartment. That he needed human company was obvious after what had happened to Karen only an hour before.

“Thank you for taking me home and being here with me,” Tory said, in a state of emotional exhaustion. “It’s gonna be rough, being all alone now. It’s good to have friends.”

“It’s also good no longer to be probed by Bolshivarians,” Peter said, with more than a hint of annoyance, as the three of them went through the front door. “Oh, those little lights passing into our brains like that, monitoring our every thought and feeling, searching for signs of treasonous ideas in our heads! It felt like being strip-searched, standing naked before the Bolshivarians, only it was our minds instead of our bodies. That was awful! They have no respect for our privacy.” They passed through the kitchen.

“I had only grief in my thoughts,” Tory said. “I couldn’t think of anything else if I tried. The Bolshivarians wouldn’t have found any treasonous thoughts in my mind, even if I’d actually had them hiding in the deepest shadows of my unconscious. They’d never have found them even if they’d tried their damnedest, and if they were actually there. Still, that was a horrible ordeal, especially after…Karen’s…” He began to sob.

“I’ll admit that that was the worst thirty minutes I’ve been through since my mom was killed,” Michelle said as they came into the living room. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Tory, especially after…what happened to Karen. Still, as hard as it was, I can understand why the Bolshivarians wanted to test our loyalty. They’re grieving over their losses just as we’re grieving over Karen. The pain of losing Cameron must have been too much for her.”

“It drove her mad, I hate to say,” Tory said as all three of them stood before shelves on a wall with a number of photos of him, Karen, and Cameron at various ages on them. “I knew she found Cameron’s loss overwhelmingly painful, but I’d never have guessed she’d had revenge on her mind. It wasn’t in her nature–isn’t in mine.”

As they walked through his living room, Peter noticed Tory’s desktop computer. Peter bumped his hip against the desk, and the monitor lit up, showing video editing software.

Next to the computer desk was a bookshelf. Peter gave it a quick scan, seeing these titles: The Revolution Betrayed, Animal Farm, Brave New World, The New Class, Nineteen Eighty-Four, In Defence of Marxism, Conversations With Stalin, The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, Down and Out in Paris and London, and Island.

“It was tough losing Cameron those two years ago,” Tory said. “But I always understood that getting rid of the corrupt, capitalist governments of the world was necessary. Nobody, and I mean nobody in the Western world has any revolutionary potential, and that’s where the revolution has to come from. Nobody here in the Third World has the wherewithal to make revolution happen. It has to come from the richer parts of the world…and the people in our parts of the world–New York City for Karen and me–are too damn comfortable, too complacent, with our computers and cellphones, to rise up.”

“I agree,” Peter said. “Michelle and I are from the Toronto and Mississauga Districts, and we’re far too comfortable, too smug and self-satisfied, to do anything about the corruption in the world.”

“Though I lost my son, I’m still grateful that the Bolshivarians came. They are providing the revolutions we need to keep happening, to save the world. They merge with the minds of the people, and when the people accept the new way, the Bolshivarians can give them the impetus to become revolutionaries. Cameron should have seen the light–he wouldn’t, so the lights sawed him…to pieces.” He broke down and cried again.

Now they’ve sawn Karen to pieces, Michelle thought. Still, that’s what you get for turning traitor, not that I’d ever say that to poor Tory. “Again, I’m so sorry, Tory.” She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.

Tory regained control and said, “Now, I’m not without my criticisms of the Bolshivarians. I’d watch what George is about to do, if I were you, now that he’s the new leader. I wish he’d focus on causing more and more uprisings around the world, which he seems less inclined to do, as I’ve learned from conversations with him over the months. I disagree with his direction for us. We can rebuild the world after tearing down the old system. We don’t have time for rebuilding right now.”

“I have my share of criticisms of the Bolshivarians, too,” Peter said. “But they won’t kill us for that.”

“They never kill us,” Michelle said. “We let ourselves die for not accepting the new way.”

Peter sighed in annoyance at these words.

“It’s true,” Tory said. “Karen wouldn’t accept the new way. If only she’d been able to control her grief.”

“I know,” Michelle said with a sigh. “It was hard for Peter and me to accept the new way, too, after the deaths of his parents and my dad, and my mom killed by a government agent in Canada; but there are greater issues to deal with than just our personal problems and our families.”

“That’s right,” Tory said. “We mustn’t lose sight of that. We must all pull together, or else man is going to destroy the planet with war, global warming, and the kind of poverty we see all around us in this city, with its beggars on the streets and its slums and barrios. We can’t afford to be selfish, the way the oligarchs are, caring only about their families and not about the families of the rest of the world. If only Karen…could have understood better…” He broke down again and wept.

“And the Bolshivarians psychically grilled him, as if he were a Nazi war criminal or something,” Peter said.

“They had to, Peter!” Michelle said.

“Right at the height of Tory’s trauma and grief?”

“They’re grieving for their own, too!” she said.

“She’s right,” Tory sobbed. “As hard as it was, they were justified in their suspicions. She was my wife; they had to make sure I’m not a traitor, too. For all they knew, I could have been plotting assassinations with her. I wasn’t, of course, but they didn’t know.”

Peter sighed. “Well, I guess so.”

“Anyway, I’m pretty exhausted,” Tory said. “The only thing I can do now is sleep off this sadness. You both can go home now. I’ll bet you’re really tired, too.”

“Yeah, we are, but will you be OK?” Peter asked.

“Oh, yes, I’ll be fine. I just need some time.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure. Don’t worry about me. You’ve already done a lot for me by coming here. Good night, and thanks again.”

“OK, Tory, good night,” she said as she and Peter left the living room and approached the front door. “If you need anything, just call us.”

“OK,” Tory said. “Good night.”

“Bye,” Peter said, and he and Michelle left.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book III, Chapter Five

The night of the next day, Lenny Van der Meer chaired another meeting in the gym basement. George Villiers-Joseph sat by him while he stood at the podium.

Peter and Michelle sat with Tory, who came alone.

“Where’s Karen?” Michelle asked.

“Oh, she decided to stay home tonight,” Tory said with a frown. “She told me she wasn’t feeling well.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Michelle said. “I hope she gets better soon.”

“Thanks,” he said. “She’s been acting funny the last couple of days. Moping, depressed, angry.”

“Why’s that?” Michelle asked. “Is it frustration with the growing military threat here?”

“She wouldn’t say,” he said with a sigh. “I asked her, and she remained all quiet and morose. I imagine it’s the fear of another war, like in Africa, but if so, she surely would have just told me. She seems to be burying her feelings so deep down, even I can’t figure out what’s bothering her. She still grieves over our boy Cameron, but so do I, and I’m carrying on OK, as you can see.”

“Doesn’t she get any comfort from communing with his psychic energy?” Michelle asked. “I get that every night from the spirits of my mom and dad.”

“You’d think she’d get such comfort, but I suspect she doubts that the apparitions of Cameron, his energy, is real,” Tory said. “I don’t doubt its reality; she’s never said she doubts it, but I suspect she does. In any case, I really don’t know.”

“Lenny’s about to start,” Peter whispered.

“Friends, brothers, and sisters,” Van der Meer began, “recently, there has been an alarming set of developments. The United City-States of America and their NATO allies are growing more and more aware of our activities here. Not only do they know of our attempts to reverse the flooding in the Rio de Janeiro area–you may have seen the video of the Bolshivarian confrontation with Lloyd’s army division yesterday, which the UCSA doctored to make it look as if we were worsening the flooding.”

“Oh, yes, that,” Tory said. “That was despicable propaganda.”

“Yes,” Peter said, “I saw the original video online.”

“Me, too,” Tory said.

“Guys, let’s listen,” Michelle said.

“Also, our enemies learned that we’ve infiltrated the Exxon-Mobile army base here in Puerto Ayacucho. They discovered the mutilated remains of Sergeant Dan Miller, who refused to join us as Captain Finch and Sergeant West had. Both Finch and West were discovered…and killed. All the Bolshivarians housed in their bodies were slain with the toxins in the bug spray.”

A mournful energy permeated the basement during the next several seconds. Lenny and George appeared on the verge of tears.

“But none of this, as regretful as it is, is the worst,” Lenny went on. “Just as we’ve had to endure a year of war in Africa, so will we have to prepare for it here. Recall also the thinly-veiled nuclear threat. We must be steeled and ready.”

In a corner of the basement, about two o’clock from where Lenny was standing, were stacks of chairs and tables piled high enough to create a shadow large enough to hide someone. From that shadow, a hand holding a pistol emerged.

No one was paying attention to it.

Least of all, Lenny’s bodyguards.

All eyes were on him.

“We must continue watching out for any danger,” Lenny said. “The UCSA and NATO have spies everywhere. Someone informed them of our hideout in Angola, recall–that warehouse.”

And our hotel in Luanda, Peter and Michelle remembered.

“Now, we assume that the spies in Angola weren’t among us during our meetings,” Lenny cautioned. “But however unlikely it may be, it isn’t impossible for one of our people here, a non-carrier who pretends to be a sympathizer, even consciously thinks like one, to evade Bolshivarian detection, by burying their feelings deep down–“

Just as the shooter of that pistol was burying her feelings.

The bullet shot through Lenny’s left side diagonally from the back and into his heart. He fell to the floor to the right of the podium. The balls of light left his body as quickly as his blood began to flow.

A sea of screams flooded the basement. Everyone stood up to get a look where the shot had come from. The lights leaving Lenny’s body flew right over to that corner to get their revenge.

“You killed my son!” the assassin screamed as she emerged from the shadows spraying bug spray at the lights.

“Oh, my God!” Tory screamed as he looked over to that shady corner. “Karen…NOOO!!!

Michelle put her arms around him, saying, “Tory, don’t look.”

Indeed, he wouldn’t be able to bear seeing his wife’s body torn to pieces, so he closed his eyes tight and let the tears roll down his cheeks.

Karen resisted the Bolshivarians as best she could at first, aiming her shaking pistol arm at George, but firing two bullets into the ceiling before dropping it. The hand holding the bug spray was more successful, hitting the first dozen of Lenny’s dots of light and dropping them to bounce lifeless on the stage.

Other Bolshivarians managed to evade the toxins and enter her. Michelle and Peter watched in horror as Karen’s body ripped through her dress and explode in a huge splash of blood. Michelle held Tory’s shaking body tight as he wept.

Was she the one who told the UCSA army where our hotel in Luanda was? Peter wondered. We told her about it.

George stepped up to the podium as Lenny’s bodyguards picked up his body and carried it away.

“We must have order!” George said, his eyes wet with tears. It was difficult for him to keep from sobbing. “We will bury…our comrades, Lenny and the Bolshivarians…who inhabited his body, and we will honour them all. But this act of treason…instead of distracting us from our cause, must keep us focused on it. We must prepare for war, and immediately.”

“What of our other projects?” a carrier standing at the front of the audience asked. “The quenching of wildfires, the reversing of flooding, the providing of healthcare to the poor?”

“Fear not, Karol,” George said. “Our preparations for war will not retard our progress in those areas by the slightest bit.”

“And who are the friends or family of the traitor?” Karol asked, looking back at the audience. “She was one of the non-carrier ‘sympathizers,’ was she not?”

“Yes,” George said, also looking out at the audience and frowning. “We will investigate the matter immediately.”

A swarm of dots of light flew right at Peter, Michelle, and Tory.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book III, Chapter Three

The afternoon of the next day, Peter and Michelle were in their apartment across the road from the gym in the basement of which they’d attended the meeting with Lenny and George.

They went into the living room. “Let’s see what’s on the news,” Michelle said, reaching for the remote and sitting next to Peter on the sofa. “After what Lenny said about heightened military presences in South America, I’m a little worried. They might know about the carriers in the military base on the other side of town.”

She turned on the TV and switched it to CNN. President Price was in the middle of another press conference.

“So, the status in Africa has still shown no signs of improvement?” a reporter asked her.

“I wish I could say we have seen such signs, but sadly, no,” Price said. “Our attempts to wipe out the alien menace in Africa have been, to be perfectly blunt, frustrating. We manage to kill so many of them, yet thousands of those little lights rise up to take their places.”

“Making friends with them, of course, is out of the question,” Peter said.

Michelle frowned at him, wishing he’d remain quiet during the press conference.

“What’s worse, there are more and more reports that the aliens are being spotted taking over populations in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Just yesterday afternoon, an administrative clerk in a base in Venezuela suddenly went missing, though he was known to have arrived for work that morning. There was no reason for him to disappear, so already there are suspicions that that base has been compromised. We may have to send troops there to confront the alien menace.”

“Oh, my God,” Michelle said. “Could that be the same base here, the one Lenny was talking about last night?”

“Could be,” Peter said.

“If our suspicions about all these reports are true,” Price said, “I must stress that the international community will not and cannot tolerate this growing threat to our interests.”

“Of course not,” Peter said. “If the Bolshivarians keep on taking control of everything, the ‘international community’ can no longer make money from all the oil it sucks out of Venezuela.”

“Shh!” Michelle said. “We’ve gotta listen.”

“Defeating this menace, I’m afraid, will require more radical, sweeping action than what we’ve used up to this point,” Price said.

“You’ve said ‘radical’ and ‘sweeping’ a number of times over the past year, Madame President,” another reporter said. “But you never elaborate on that. What exactly might these ‘radical’ and ‘sweeping’ measures entail? How much longer are we going to hear that they are classified?”

“Well,” Price began with a sigh and a pause, “I’m not saying we’re going to use nuclear weapons…”

“Oh, my God!” Michelle gasped.

“…but that option is not being ruled out any more,” the president went on. “If, and I do mean if, it is ever considered, I assure the world that it will be only as a last resort…and an extremely last resort at that…”

“It’s extreme, all right,” Peter said with a sneer.

“…one I’d be loathe to have to use,” Price went on, “but one we can no longer dismiss as a possible solution.”

“You bitch,” Peter hissed.

“Could we dismiss you as a possible solution, Madame President?” Michelle said.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book III, Chapter Two

“Friends, brothers, and sisters, thanks for attending tonight’s meeting,” Lenny Van der Meer said to all the carriers and sympathizers sitting in attendance, including Peter, Michelle, Tory, and Karen. They were in the spacious basement of a gym on the opposite side of town from that military base, on the night of the same day as the incident with Miller. “Before I begin our discussion of our recent progress, I’d like to introduce my second-in-command.” Lenny gestured to a large man with short brown hair and a moustache. “This is George Villiers-Joseph, who in the event of my death will be your new leader. Trust him as you would trust me.”

George stood up, and everyone clapped for him. Michelle clapped enthusiastically with the carriers and most of the non-carrying sympathizers in attendance; Peter, Tory, and Karen clapped politely, but not so enthusiastically. George sat down.

“Now, let’s begin,” Lenny said. “As you know, our plan has been to take control of South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, but far more surreptitiously than had been the case with Africa, which was taken almost in a panic, upon the world learning of our presence as extraterrestrials rather than as a virus. If only we hadn’t taken Africa in such a rushed, clumsy way, we might have avoided the war that’s been going on there for the past year, and prevented so many deaths on our side.”

At one point, Michelle’s eyes drifted over to Karen, who seemed distracted. Instead of listening to Lenny, she was watching his bodyguards. Michelle furrowed her brow, then turned her eyes back to him.

“Much progress has been made,” Lenny continued. “We’ve made inroads in controlling the Exxon-Mobil base on the other side of this city earlier today. We’ve become better able to stop and reverse flooding in many parts of South America. We’re controlling the wildfires at the edges of the rainforest and on the savannahs without arousing suspicion among the UCSA and NATO militaries. But mistakes have been made elsewhere on the continent. A heightened military presence in Quito, in the form of the Chiquita Brands International armed forces, in Santiago’s Codelco military branch, the military division in Buenos Aires’s British American Tobacco, and Tesla’s military in La Paz, have all been provoked by sloppy attempts by our comrades to pass on our Bolshivarian light to those in the city-state governments/corporations, and among some in their corporate militaries.”

Michelle looked over at Karen again. She still seemed to be interested more in Lenny’s bodyguards than in his words.

“This clumsiness, I’m sorry to say, has been the inevitable result of our Bolshivarian consciousness being merged with, no offence to our non-carrying sympathizers, the limitations of the human mind.”

“Oh, no offence taken,” Peter snorted. “Arrogant little glowing bastards. They’re so superior to us.”

“Well, aren’t they?” Michelle whispered. “If it weren’t for their medical superiority, we’d be dead in Luanda, wouldn’t we?”

Peter’s only reply was a scowl that acknowledged her point.

She then took a third look over at Karen, who was still watching the bodyguards while Tory was listening to Lenny with a grin of contentment. “Karen? What is it? Why are you always watching Lenny’s bodyguards?”

“Hmm?” Karen said in confused surprise at Michelle’s question. “Oh, I’m just worried that Lenny’s security might not be tight enough. He needs more men, I’d say.” She let out a little giggle.

“Oh,” Michelle said, then resumed listening to Lenny.

“Still, it would be unfair to blame all our flaws on the human brain; much of the fault of our mistakes is our own,” Lenny said. “We’re not perfect. We’re only Bolshivarian, after all.”

This got a few chuckles from the non-carrier listeners.

“Anyway,” Lenny went on, “we must keep aware of any new developments. Watch the news, as biased against us as the media is, and find online videos showing what we’re doing to help the people, where we’re succeeding and failing. We must be prepared to react to any new problems and challenges as they arise.”

Yes, Michelle thought. We need to know what that bitch Price is planning against us.

I really want to believe the Bolshivarians are sincere when they say they are working to help people here, Peter thought. Over the next few days, I’ll be looking for those online videos on my phone…if they exist.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book III, Chapter One

2032, Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas, Venezuela

Sergeant Dan Miller, of the United City States Army, Exxon-Mobil Division, saluted Captain Finch as both of them were about to enter their office in their nine-year-old military installation. Both men had coffees in their hands, and they’d just finished lunch.

“Did you have a good lunch, sir?” Miller asked as his saluting hand came down.

“Yes, I did, Dan,” Finch said as his came down and they entered. “How about you?”

“Oh, fine, sir. I must say, I like the food here much better than I did in the Samsung base in Seoul, where I was posted a couple years ago. I hate kimchi, but the corn, rice, and beans here are a lot better. I’m so glad we kicked all the commies out of this place, that old Maduro government, and that Exxon-Mobil is running things in Caracas.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Finch said, looking away and his smile fading. “This whole continent is our backyard. We have far better use for the locals’ oil reserves than they do. Anyway, have those reports on my desk by 1400J.”

“Yes, sir,” Miller said, and went over to the filing cabinet, which was on the wall opposite to Finch’s office, where Finch went in and closed the door.

A minute later, Sergeant Judy West, of the Shell Oil Company’s air force, entered the office. “Good afternoon, Sergeant,” she said.

“Hi, Sergeant,” he said, looking away from his files. “How can I help you today?”

“Oh, I was just wondering if you were aware of any reports of alien activity here in Amazonas.”

“Not much of anything,” he said. “How’s things going in Africa, with the airstrikes and the drones spraying those glowing little bastards?”

“Well, after a year of it, we’ve killed many of them, but they’ve killed many more of ours,” she said. “At best, it’s been a stalemate; at worst, it could become Vietnam and Afghanistan, all over again.”

“Fuck,” he grunted. “Why can’t the good guys win, for a change?”

“I know how you feel,” she said, looking away and frowning. “Anyway, do you know of any rumours that there could be carriers of the aliens among us? Not necessarily here in this base, but maybe in other bases in South America, American soldiers who could be possessed by those little balls of light?”

“I’ve heard a rumour or two, a few suspicions, but nothing more than that.”

“Can you name any names of suspected military people?” she asked. “Even the vaguest lead could help.”

“No, no names, sorry. I wish I knew some, I really wish I did. I’d love to have an opportunity or two to fuck them up. I hate those sons o’ bitches.”

“Oh, I know the feeling,” she said with a sigh and a scowl. “If you learn of anything, just let me know. Here’s my name card.” She gave it to him.

“Thanks,” he said, taking it and putting it in his pocket. “In the meantime, though, I have my trusty can of bug spray here.” He gestured to it, fastened to his belt, as was standard for all military uniforms. “The very second I see any of them, my first reaction won’t be to call you, understand. Instead, I’ll zap the shiny little cocksuckers. Watch ’em die like the little cockroaches they are.”

“Well, you may encounter them pretty soon in the future,” she said. “We have intelligence that they’re infiltrating the whole Global South: not only here and Africa, but also Southeast Asia.”

“I’d enjoy a chance to kill some of ’em,” he said, with his back to her and looking at his files again. “Bring ’em on.”

“You may get that chance sooner than you think.”

“Oh?”

He looked behind.

His eyes and mouth widened.

Those glowing little bastards were flying from her fingers.

He got out his can of bug spray as quick as lightning and sprayed the half dozen of them that flew out in front. They all fell, tapping and bouncing on the wooden floor beside him.

“You little whore!” he shouted, reaching for a pistol he had hidden in the filing cabinet, in case of alien carrier emergency. He pointed it at her. “Now it’s time for you to die, you alien carrier bitch.”

But before he could pull the trigger, Bolshivarian balls of light were entering him in his back. Shaking and grunting in pain, he pointed the gun up to the ceiling and pulled the trigger.

Click.

He still had the safety on.

Still shaking and grunting, he dropped the gun and fell to the floor. The familiar red cracks were showing all over his face and hands.

Luckily for his assailants, his grunts of pain weren’t loud enough to attract the attention of anyone outside. West and Finch approached Miller, looked down with blank expressions at him from either side of his fidgeting body, and watched him begin to rip apart, tearing holes in his uniform.

“Open the window,” Finch told her. “We need to get the toxins out of the room.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, walking around Miller and the sprayed area to get to the window.

Finch watched as Miller’s flesh was ripping open, exposing his brain, trachea, stomach, bladder, and leg muscles. His ribcage was broken out wide open, like two doors to a welcoming entrance, to expose his heart and lungs. His uniform shirt and pants were in shreds.

The torn-open innards had mouth-like holes formed in them, grunting, “No. No. No. No. Get out. Get out of me.”

“It’s a good thing most of everyone else is still at lunch,” Finch said. “We can’t have anyone seeing this.”

Miller’s body exploded, spraying his blood everywhere. Finch and West dodged the red spray in time, getting only a minimal amount of tiny dots of blood on their uniforms.

“I’ll go outside and use our energy to influence everyone to stay away from this office,” Finch said, heading for the door outside. “Our Bolshivarian technology fortunately can clean up this mess far quicker than human hands. Then we can honour our fallen ones lying there among his body parts.”

“Yes, sir,” she said in a choked-up voice, watching him go out the door.

The remaining balls of light came out of her, careful to keep their distance from the bug spray toxins still in the air. The lights pushed the toxins out the window; then they made the blood disappear off the walls, Miller’s desk, her uniform, and the floor. It was a slow fading away of red, but it was ultimately faster than rags, a bucket of water, and mops would have been.

Once Miller’s body parts were picked up and disposed of, she had time to look at the marble-like balls on the floor, those that used to glow with life.

Before picking them up for burial, she needed a moment to weep for them.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book II, Chapter Twelve

Back in their hotel in Luanda that night, Peter, Michelle, and Bob slept much better than the night before. The Bolshivarian lights in Bob’s body gave him a psychic connection with Phil that soothed him to sleep; some of those lights also flew into Peter’s and Michelle’s room to soothe them to sleep with the energy of their parents.

Michelle especially slept like a baby. Her connection with her parents felt so comforting, it was almost as if they’d never died. She felt the Bolshivarians to be the surest of friends.

Peter enjoyed no less restful a sleep, hearing the loving words of his parents’ energy calming him. Still, though he enjoyed his sleep and woke up the next morning thoroughly refreshed, he wasn’t sure if it was his parents that had lulled him into such a perfect sleep, or just the skillful, yet deceptive, charm of the Bolshivarians.

The next morning, after breakfast, Bob apprised Peter and Michelle of the situation regarding the American response to the Bolshivarian takeover of Africa.

“The first of the airstrikes is coming today,” he told them. “The Bolshivarians informed me of their plan to engage the fighter planes and drones, which will hit us not only with missiles and gunfire from the planes, but also with bug spray from the drones.”

“How will the Bolshivarians be able to counterattack with bug spray shooting at them?” Peter asked.

“They didn’t tell me exactly how they were going to avoid the bug spray, but they’re aware of the danger and planning a way to evade it,” Bob said. “Don’t worry: the Bolshivarians are clever enough not to let themselves be exposed to the drones’ spray guns, which our intelligence tells us will all spray only forward. We can sneak up from behind and their radar won’t pick us up. The American and NATO forces are the ones who need to be cleverer, not our side.”

“How will the Bolshivarians fight them?” Peter asked.

“They’ll fly into the planes’ cockpits and into the bodies of the pilots,” Bob said. “You know what happens next.”

“What if the pilots wear those protective suits?” Michelle asked.

“Oh, everybody knows by now that those suits never worked,” Bob said. “Bolshivarians can fly through them with ease.”

“If so, then why did they let people think they were safe in the suits last year?” Michelle asked.

“For several reasons,” Bob explained. “First of all, we wanted humans to have some sense of hope, so they wouldn’t feel all hopeless and despairing. Secondly, we came to Earth right when you humans were so worried about all those coronavirus variants. We wanted you, for the time being, to think our presence was just another disease, to distract you until enough of us had settled in and established enough carriers around the world so we could move around among you and blend in with you, so you wouldn’t be able to tell which ones were carriers and which ones weren’t.”

Clever plan, Peter thought, and devious.

Bob looked at him as if he’d heard Peter say those words out loud. “We’re here to help you, Peter, not to dominate you. Our ways may be strange to you, but that doesn’t mean we have ill intentions.”

Whoa, Peter thought with widened eyes. The Bolshivarians can read my thoughts. I’d better bury my feelings deeper down in my mind from now on.

“We know your doubts, Peter,” Bob said. “But we don’t doubt you. Don’t worry.”

“I don’t doubt you,” Michelle said.

“Even though they killed your dad, my dad, and my mother?” Peter said, glaring at her.

“You know the real reason they died,” Bob said.

“I know your rationalization for it,” Peter said, and then with sarcasm, “‘They rejected the new way, so their deaths were their fault, not yours’.”

“Our parents still exist in spirit, Peter,” Michelle said. “Didn’t you feel them last night?”

“Did we feel their spirits, or did we feel hallucinations?” Peter asked, looking hard at Bob.

“Peter, if we Bolshivarians had wanted to kill all of humanity, we could have done it like that!” Bob said with a snap of his fingers. “If we’d wanted to take control of all of your bodies and enslave you, we could have done it like that!” He snapped his fingers again. “But we didn’t. We could have gotten through every protective suit and either controlled or killed every head of state in your world, every CEO/leader of every city-state government, with none of you able to stop us, in the blink of an eye! But we didn’t…and many, many Bolshivarians have died because of the fluke discovery of bug spray toxins.”

Now Peter looked down at his hands.

“We want to save your planet and your people from destruction, but before we can do that, we need to gain the trust of at least a reasonable number of you, and gain the willful cooperation of enough of you. We’ve given as many of you as we can a chance to choose either to work with us or against us. We’ve allowed many to be non-carriers, because we want your friendship by free will. Even those who’ve died, like your parents, can still communicate with you through our collective psychic energy. Can you please try to trust us, Peter?”

Peter looked at Bob for several seconds.

“They cured the world of the coronaviruses, didn’t they?” Michelle added. “You, Peter, of all people, should be grateful to the Bolshivarians for doing away with the masks and vaccines, right?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Peter said. “Wayne Grey did pull that off. I’ll give him that. I wish I hadn’t punched him.”

“And those were not hallucinations of my mom and dad,” Michelle said in a shaky voice, looking in Peter’s eyes with pain and conviction.

Can you try to trust us, Peter?” Bob asked again.

“OK,” he said. “I’ll try. The governments here on Earth have certainly proved themselves untrustworthy.”

“Good,” Bob said. “Now let’s get ready for those airstrikes.”

************

Four hours later, Bob was in his room, sitting crosslegged on his bed in a meditative position. The balls of light were floating on all sides around his body. He could feel the messages the Bolshivarians from other parts of Angola, including those of the warehouse hideout, were sending him.

Oh, no! he thought.

Peter and Michelle were in their room, too, lying on their bed in each other’s arms and waiting for Bob to tell them what was going on.

From outside their window, they could hear approaching planes.

Just as they got off their bed to look out the window, Bob rushed into their room.

“Hey, Bob!” Michelle shouted in annoyance. “We could have been indecent in here!”

“Sorry,” he said. racing for that window. “I didn’t have time to knock.” All three of them looked out the window.

Four fighter planes were approaching, accompanied by half a dozen small, brown ovoid drones with spray guns on them.

“Just as I feared,” he said. “Not only did they know that Lenny Van der Meer and the other Bolshivarian carriers are hiding out in that warehouse, but they know we’re here, too!”

“Who informed the Americans?” Peter asked. “Were there spies hiding out in that basement? Are there spies here in this hotel?”

“Unlikely, bordering on impossible,” Bob said. “We’d have been able to sense treason among us; it would take an extraordinary ability to bury one’s feelings for us not to sense traitors. Spies must have been hiding out among the trees or bushes outside.”

“There aren’t many trees or bushes to hide behind around here, or near that warehouse,” Peter said. “Years of global warming and wildfires have ensured that.”

“Not many trees or bushes, but enough for, say, one or two spies to hide among,” Bob said. “In any case, somebody from outside, somewhere, found our people there…and here. We’ve gotta get out of here. Move!

The three of them rushed out of the room, down the hall, and down a flight of stairs to the ground floor. Just as they were making a run for the front doors, the striking of the first missile shook the building.

“Oh, shit!” Peter shouted.

“Are these the same fighters and drones that hit the warehouse, do you think?” Michelle asked.

“No,” Bob said. “Lenny and his people took them all out as I described before.”

“So, Lenny’s still alive?” Peter asked.

“As far as I know, yes,” Bob said. “Let’s just hope the Bolshivarians here can be as successful.”

Three more strikes shook the building, causing it to collapse. Peter, Michelle, and Bob screamed before losing consciousness and being buried in rubble by the front door.

Outside, drones were shooting bug spray at swarms of dots of light flying at them; after a dozen or so of lights flying in front were sprayed, all of them lost their light and fell like marbles on the ground, all lifeless. Then, the fighter jets shot at the carriers who’d been sending up the lights. They all lay on the ground in a bloody lake.

These victims, however, were just a sacrificial distraction.

A swarm of Bolshivarian lights far greater in number were flying behind all the jets and drones. None of their radar could detect the approach of the lights, whose advanced alien technology could easily evade being picked up by radio airwaves.

The overconfident pilots had no idea what was coming at them.

The first man to feel the tiny lights entering his body screamed. His jet veered to the right as he fidgeted and struggled in his seat, feeling his body tearing to pieces and ripping out of his uniform.

“James, what’s wrong?” the pilot to his right said; but before he could say any more, James’s plane crashed into his. A huge explosion lit up the sky. Three drones flying nearby also got destroyed in the explosion.

A number of carriers looking up from the ground cheered when they saw the explosion.

“Half of the threat gone, all at once!” one of them shouted.

Sadly, he was gunned down, seconds after, by one of the two remaining fighter jets.

The remaining carriers sent up their balls of light; one of the drones sprayed them, causing them all to drop on the ground, as lightless and lifeless as the other ‘marbles.’ Then the fighter jets shot at the carriers and left them all in a pool of gore.

Meanwhile, the other two drones turned around to face the swarm of lights behind. They sprayed at the leading dozen or two of them, causing them and many more behind to fall on the ground. The third drone turned around to help the other two.

Now, the remaining carriers were free to shoot their lights up at the two fighter jets.

As the pilots screamed, fidgeted in their seats, and felt their splitting bodies rip out of their uniforms, the lights took control of the jets, aimed their guns at the three drones, and shot at them.

The carriers cheered as they saw the drones explode up in the air. Then they dodged out of the way when the two jets fell to the ground, a few feet away on either side of the hotel, and blew up in flames.

The surviving Bolshivarian lights flew over to the rubble of the hotel, soon to be joined by the surviving carriers, who ran over. The lights scanned the rubble for signs of life: only three were found to be still alive, and barely so–Peter, Michelle, and Bob.

The carriers, about a dozen of them, worked fast to pull the pieces of brick off the bodies of the injured three. Bob was unconscious, approaching death; Peter and Michelle lay there, hovering between consciousness and unconsciousness, moaning and sighing.

The lights hovered above and around the three. Their light and warmth touched the three hurt bodies.

Bob, being the closest to death, was the priority. The lights scanned his vital signs: his pulse was extremely weak and rhythmically irregular. He had broken bones all over. He was bathed in his blood; his life was fading fast.

Even with all the Bolshivarians’ medical knowledge, centuries in advance of that of humanity, they couldn’t save Bob. Since Peter and Michelle also urgently needed help, they switched their focus onto them. They weren’t as near death as Bob had been, but they weren’t much further away from death, either.

A crowd of people, carriers and non-carriers, watched the process of treating Peter and Michelle. Their eyes were locked on the two injured–eyes full of worry. A tense several hours ensued.

Peter’s and Michelle’s broken and fractured bones, their cuts and bruises, were hardly fewer than those on Bob. All onlookers, including the carriers, who knew of the Bolshivarians’ abilities, and even the Bolshivarian lights themselves, were full of doubts as to whether or not they could save the two.

Their pulses, though not as bad as Bob’s, were still weak and irregular. They showed considerable shortness of breath. The struggle to heal them involved a back-and-forth movement between weaker and stronger pulses, more and less irregular pulses, and greater and lesser shortness of breath.

Broken bones were set, fractures were healed millimetre by millimetre, bruises and cuts ever so slowly faded away–the bloody red slashes lengthening, shortening, and lengthening and shortening over and over again, the blotches of black, blue, and purple shrinking, growing, and shrinking again and again.

But finally, the white lights’ healing efforts succeeded here where they hadn’t been able to with Bob. Non-carriers–local Angolans as sympathetic to the Bolshivarians as Peter and Michelle–watched with dropped jaws and agape eyes at the aliens’ ability to bring Peter and Michelle fully back to health, all in only three to four hours.

Peter and Michelle, of course, were no less amazed.

“What?” he said, getting up slowly and awkwardly.

“We’re better?” Michelle said, also getting up and testing her arms and legs by moving them around. “So quickly? How could they do that?”

“To explain to you what Bolshivarian medicine can do,” one of the carriers said, “would be like explaining computers to cavemen.”

Peter and Michelle looked down at Bob’s lifeless body.

“He didn’t make it?” Michelle asked.

They could feel a sad answer in the negative from the floating lights.

Peter moved his body around, to test how well he’d been healed. “Wow,” he said. “The Bolshivarians make our doctors look like…well, witch doctors in comparison.”

Now do you trust them?” she asked with a sneer.

“Yeah, I guess I do,” he said.

“If only their skill could have saved my mom,” she said with a frown. “I guess she was as close to death as Bob here, too close to be saved.”

Peter’s cellphone rang. “Wow,” he said as he pulled it out of his pants pocket. “My phone didn’t get damaged. Hello?”

“Peter?” a woman’s voice said. “This is Karen Finley. It’s a good thing you gave us your cellphone number yesterday. Are you and Michelle OK? We know about the attack on your hotel.”

“Oh, hi, Karen,” he said. “We’re OK now. The Bolshivarians just saved our lives after the fighter jets hit our hotel. They’re the most amazing doctors.”

“I’m glad for that,” she said. “That’s so awful, what happened to you there. I’m so sorry.”

“How did you know the jets attacked us here?” he asked.

“The Bolshivarians told us,” she said. “They can find out anything, you know, if they focus on it. First, we learned about the warehouse being hit, then Tory and I wondered if you two were OK, so we asked them.”

“Thanks for your concern,” he said.

“Wait,” she said. “Tory wants to talk to you.” She gave her phone to her husband.

“OK,” Peter said. “Hello, Tory?”

“Hi,” Tory said. “Lenny says we’re all going to have to get out of Africa. More airstrikes are planned. Now that we’ve seen how badly the Americans and NATO can hit us, how well they can find us, thanks to their spies, the plan is to go to South America, where the Bolshivarians have many contacts who will help us. Lenny and his contacts here have arranged airplanes to take us there. There’s an airbase not far from where the warehouse was. The Bolshivarians can guide you to it. We all have to hurry, though, OK?”

“OK,” Peter said. “Thanks for the call. We’ll get over there right away. Bye.” They hung up.

“What’s the plan?” Michelle asked.

“We’re going to South America.”

“South America?” she asked.

“Yes, and we gotta hurry,” he said, taking her by the hand. “I’ll explain on the way. Let’s go.”

“B-but Peter?…” she said.

Michelle, Bob’s voice said in her mind. Go!

Yes, Michelle, Siobhan’s voice now said. Go with Peter.

Peter and Michelle started running towards a car one of the carriers was gesturing to.

END OF BOOK TWO

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book II, Chapter Eleven

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.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book II, Chapter Ten

Three days later, Peter, Michelle, and the two bodyguards arrived in their hotel rooms in Luanda, Angola. The couples’ rooms were right next door to each other.

“Remember,” one of the bodyguards told Peter and Michelle before putting the key into the door of his room. “If you need us urgently, bang on the wall, and we’ll be right over.”

“OK,” Michelle said as she put the key into the door of her and Peter’s room. “Thanks, Bob.”

“One of us will guard you as you sleep,” the second bodyguard said as Bob opened their door. “Me, tonight. Bob, tomorrow night, and back and forth between us, night after night.”

“Thanks, Phil,” Peter said as she opened their door.

“We’ll put our bags on our beds, then come right over to your room to discuss our plans to meet up with Lenny Van der Meer,” Bob said. “We won’t be long discussing it, as we know how tired you two are.” They went in their rooms and closed the doors.

“I’m amazed at how well they were able to get us out here so fast,” Peter said as he and Michelle put their luggage on their bed. “There really are a lot of carriers out there in so many parts of the world.”

“And they all link together so well,” Michelle said. “Those little balls of light in their bodies seem to be able to feel each other’s presence from miles away.”

“It’s like they’re using the Force, or something,” he said. “I just don’t understand why they chose such a cheap hotel for us. We have money; we could have gotten something much nicer.”

“They said they had a reason for choosing this place,” she said. “We’ll know why soon enough.”

They heard a knock on the door. Peter hurried over to open it.

“Wait, be careful,” she said. “Look through the peephole first. Remember that guy who seemed to be following us all the way from Pearson Airport. Bob and Phil think he’s another assassin waiting to strike.”

Peter looked through the peephole. It was Bob and Phil.

“It’s OK,” he said, and opened the door for them.

“Our contacts tell us we’ll be able to meet with Lenny tomorrow afternoon at about three in their hideout just a mile outside of Luanda,” Phil said as he and Bob walked into the room. Peter took a quick look around the empty hall before closing the door.

“It’s great to have you two to give Lenny and his people assurances that we’re on his side,” Michelle said.

“What about that assassin, though?” Peter asked. “Are you sure he’s an assassin? How do you know he’s not someone who by coincidence was just coming to Luanda on our flight?”

“We know,” Bob said, with a hard look of self-assurance in his eyes. “We knew he was outside your house the night we heard the president’s speech.”

“And you lit up the room with your dots of light, so he’d know who to target?” Peter asked with a sneer.

“He already knew about us,” Phil said. “His people killed Siobhan…”

Michelle shuddered when she heard that.

“…knowing she had us to protect her,” Phil continued, “and now to protect you. We didn’t reveal anything to him that he didn’t already know; we weren’t in any less danger before the lighting up than after it.”

“We were taunting him, if anything,” Bob said. “We were hoping he’d strike that very night, when we were ready for him. All alone in your house, without anybody outside knowing about it.”

“Unfortunately, his stalking us like this is dragging it out,” Michelle said. “I hope he doesn’t strike when we meet Lenny tomorrow.”

“He’ll want to strike in a public place, to expose us,” Phil said.

“Still, if he strikes in Lenny’s hideout, he’s stupid,” Bob said. “With so many of us to protect Lenny, the assassin will be split up into pieces almost instantly.”

Michelle turned on the TV. “Let’s find out what’s going on in the world,” she said.

“I’m hot,” Peter said, reaching for the hotel phone on the bedside table. “I’m calling room service for some drinks. What d’you want, Michelle?”

“Ginger ale, if they have it,” she said as she went through the channels to find the news.

“You guys want anything?” he asked them.

“I’m OK, thanks,” Bob said.

“Me, too,” Phil said.

Michelle switched the TV to CNN. It was showing a live press conference with President Price, who was listening to a reporter’s question. “BREAKING NEWS” was showing in big letters along the bottom of the screen, with “ALIENS ATTACK AFRICA.”

“What?” Michelle said, wide-eyed and her jaw dropping. She turned up the volume.

“What is the plan for dealing with all the American troops suddenly killed in all of these military bases?” a reporter asked the president.

“Our first plan is to send deployments of our air force to the bases and surrounding areas,” she answered. “Including drones. We will start with airstrikes in the areas most severely hit, places like Burkina Faso, Angola, and Zimbabwe. If the airstrikes are successful, we will do the same to the other, less severely hit areas. If not successful, we’ll have to consider…well, a more sweeping response.”

“Which is…?” the reporter asked.

“That is something I’m not at liberty to talk about at the moment,” the president said, then left the podium and began leaving the room. “We’ll update you as soon as we’ve gotten word on the outcomes of the airstrikes. Thank you.”

“Madame President?!” another reporter shouted, but she had already left the room.

“Holy shit,” Peter said. “We just entered a war zone.”

“The war has begun,” Bob said. “Just as you said it would, Phil.”

Michelle continued following the developing news story; her eyes were glued to the TV.

“Do your connections know about this?” Peter asked. “Have they told you about their plans?”

“We know of a general plan to make carriers of all the people in developing countries,” Phil said. “Not much more detail than that.”

“Certainly nothing about hitting American military bases,” Bob said. “We should have thought twice about coming here, given the planned American response.”

“Oh, that’s OK,” Peter said. “I feel more comfortable being around you than around the powers-that-be back at home.”

“Thank you, Peter,” the bodyguards said in unison.

Wow, Peter thought. Their voices sound like that of one man. Do they lack individuality, as the media claim they do?

The doorbell rang. “Room service!” a male voice with an African accent said.

“Our drinks!” Peter said, rushing to the door. “Good!”

Bob and Phil looked over at the door with frowns.

Peter opened it wide. A black man held, not a tray of drinks, but a pistol.

“Shit!” Peter shouted, then jumped out of the way and fell on the floor.

Michelle looked behind her, her eyes and mouth even more agape.

Bob and Phil pulled out their pistols. Phil ran for the door and let out his dots of light.

“No!” Bob screamed, aiming at the assassin.

But the assassin shot first, hitting Phil in the chest just as he’d reached the doorway. He fell on his back, and the dots of light flew at his killer.

Not missing a beat, the assassin pulled a small can of bug spray from his left pants pocket with his free hand, and he sprayed the first several balls of light coming at him. All the lights dropped like marbles on the floor.

Before he could shoot or spray again, Bob fired a bullet in his forehead. He dropped on his front, right by Phil’s feet, with his own legs still outside the door and in the hallway.

“Peter?” Bob said, bordering on sobbing. “C-could you please pull the killer’s body into the room for me? I can’t risk getting too close to it, with that toxic spray in the air.”

“Sure,” Peter said, then went over and pulled the assassin’s body in, getting his feet past the doorway, and closed the door. Bob pulled Phil’s body further into the centre of the room and away from the assassin’s body. He knelt before Phil’s head and wept.

“Was he your brother, or something?” Michelle asked.

“My lover,” Bob said, tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Oh, sorry,” she said. They have feelings no less than we do, she thought. The aliens inside them don’t diminish human emotion; they may be odd in expressing it, but they don’t feel it any less.

“What about the rest of the people in the hotel?” Peter asked. “They’ll have heard the gunshots.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Bob said. “Everybody in Africa is being made a carrier, or being torn to pieces if they reject us.” He closed Phil’s eyes. “That’s what hitting the US military bases was all about. If we can succeed in taking all of them out, then taking out, or converting, the rest of the African population will be all the easier.”

Suddenly, they heard a man screaming from down the hall.

The three of them ran out into the hall in the direction of the voice. They turned a corner and found the man who’d gone with them on the plane from Toronto.

“We told you he was an assassin,” Bob said after seeing the man’s pistol and can of bug spray lying on either side of him on the floor.

He lay there on his back, shaking and screaming, his body ripping open wide enough to tear holes in his shirt and pants legs. His heart, lungs, and stomach were showing behind his ripped-open ribcage, and his leg muscles were showing. Though he had the red crack marks on his face, since he hadn’t opened up there yet, he was recognizable to Bob, Peter, and Michelle.

A crowd of guests and hotel staff were standing in a circle around him, staring down intently at him. The glowing little white balls were hovering everywhere among and around their carriers.

The man’s head was ripping open now, exposing his brain. After one last scream, his body blew apart, spraying blood everywhere.

“He must have provided our ‘room service’,” Peter said.

“No doubt of that,” Bob said. “And now you understand why we chose this cheap hotel to spend the night. Our people are everywhere in it. Now that he’s out of the way, we should be safe to stay here until we go to meet Lenny Van der Meer.”

“Then we’ll just have to worry about the coming airstrikes,” Michelle added.

‘The Splitting,’ a Sci-Fi Horror Novel, Book II, Chapter Nine

In Michelle’s home that night, she and Peter sat on the side of her parents’ bed. He had his arm around her. Her face flooded with tears, she barely moved, except for a self-soothing, slow and gentle rocking back and forth.

Her eyes would sometimes drift over to the photos on the dresser and bedside table. Photos of her mom and dad at various ages, sometimes with Michelle as a little girl, as a teen, or when she’d graduated from university, this last one with Peter, too, these were all bittersweet memories now.

He looked at the photos, too, having seen her look at them. “Sometimes I go into my parents’ room,” he said. “I’ll stare at their photos and remember when they were alive, thinking about the minority of my memories with them that were good. Then I’ll feel guilty for not thinking of the good memories as a majority.”

Michelle remained silent.

“Michelle! Peter!” a man’s voice shouted from the first floor. “Come down here! You’ll wanna see what’s on the TV now!”

Peter got up, but Michelle was practically frozen sitting on the bed. “Michelle?” he said.

She still wouldn’t say or do anything.

“Well, I wanna know what your late mom’s two bodyguards are watching on TV,” he said, bending down by her. “They may have failed to save her, but they’re here to protect us from any attempt on our lives by anyone who thinks, however mistakenly, that the alien dots of light are inside our bodies. The way you are now, though, I don’t want you left all alone; so you’re coming with me.”

He gently slid his right arm under her legs, put his left arm on her back, and picked her up. He carried her out of her parents’ bedroom, down the stairs, and into the living room. The two security men were watching the new US president making a speech.

“I knew it,” one of the men said. “There’s going to be a war.”

“I want to apologize to you, the American people, and to the world, for not being honest with you about what’s been happening until now,” President Price said at her desk in the Oval Office, looking directly into the camera in a way that reminded Peter of old video from 2003 of Bush looking into the camera and justifying the Iraq invasion. “We didn’t want to cause a worldwide panic; we needed time to plan our response to the alien attack while debates about ‘conspiracy theories’ of aliens softened the shock for all of you. Such planning necessitated keeping our knowledge of the aliens classified information.”

“Oh, of course, Madame President,” Peter said as he laid still-unmoving Michelle in a chair. “You’ve had nothing but the noblest of intentions, haven’t you?” He sat on the floor by Michelle’s feet.

“But now, of course, we can no longer conceal the truth from you,” Price went on. “I assure you, though, our plans are thoroughly worked out, fortunately in time when all of this was so suddenly revealed.”

“Oh, how fortunate,” Peter said with a sneer.

“Please, Peter,” one of the men said. “We need to pay attention to every detail, to know how to respond ourselves.”

“Sorry,” Peter said.

“All those formerly diagnosed with what was called ‘The Splits’ were and are actually people possessed of those aliens…the surviving carriers, that is. I know it will be hard to hear this, especially for those of you who have family and friends who are carriers, but these people are thoroughly compromised. They may still look human, they may sound like the same people you’ve always known and loved, but the alien in them has completely taken them over. The human soul in them was gone long ago, in spite of how well they may imitate human speech and behaviour. This is hard to hear, but you must steel yourselves to hear this and understand. These carriers are not human.”

“You bitch,” Peter hissed at the TV.

“This is an enemy that hides,” the president went on. “It hides in plain sight, in human form. It can imitate human thought, but it has no real human thoughts. Each and every carrier who is possessed of the aliens is completely given over to their agenda. All that the carriers do is in service of the aliens, not in the service of humanity.”

“Oh, and you serve humanity, Madame President?” Peter said with another sneer.

“Please, Peter,” one of the security men said.

“When the carriers, those in high-ranking government/business positions, claim they are making democratic changes to society, improving the lives of ordinary, working-class people, whatever you do, don’t believe them!” Price warned. “All that talk is just a front, a con game to trick you into thinking they are our friends.”

“Right,” Peter said. “Your hegemony is so much better for us all, isn’t it Madame Pres–“

“Peter, we must hear her!” the other bodyguard said.

“Why?” Peter asked, with a sneer now for him. “Is what she’s saying true? Is it all a con game?”

The bodyguard frowned at him and gave no answer.

“I know that it’s hard,” Price went on, “if one of the carriers happens to be your mother, your father, brother, sister, cousin, or a close friend. What you must try to understand is that that carrier, as soon as he or she became a carrier, was as of that time no longer your mother or–“

“Bullshit!” Michelle shouted, jumping up from her chair and startling the three young men, whose eyes darted away from the TV screen and back up at her. With new tears running down her cheeks, she bawled, “She never stopped being my mother, aliens or no aliens! She was my mother right up until she died, when your people murdered her!”

“Please, Michelle, calm down,” the first of the security men said. “We need to hear all of the president’s speech to know how best to react to their plans.”

Peter got up, put his arms around her, and held her as she sobbed on his shoulder. “They murdered her, Peter! They murdered her!”

“I know, sweetie, I know,” he said, rubbing one hand on her back and stroking her hair with the other. Well, at least she’s finally responsive, he thought.

“Behind the mass deception that they’re improving the lives of humanity is a plan for world domination,” the president continued.

The two security men chuckled at this assertion. Peter looked at them and hoped it was sincere.

“Everyone must be the same as the aliens,” Price said with a hint of sarcasm. “No one is allowed to be different, or think for themselves. Everyone must think the same thoughts, have the same opinions. If you don’t agree with the aliens’ plans, they’ll kill you, tear your body up in that horrible, violent way we all originally thought was a disease called ‘The Splits’.”

“Where did she get that idea?” the second bodyguard whispered.

“It’s a lie,” the first said. “Don’t believe her, Peter. Neither of you agreed with us at first, but we didn’t kill you. Remember that.”

“We have been studying, scrutinizing the carriers we’ve had to detain in order to learn as much about them as we can,” Price said. “Over the months, we’ve even experimented on them to extract whatever knowledge we could. We have learned that the aliens hate individuality, free thought, and ambition to rise high in a freely competitive environment. When the carriers talk to you about the ‘collective good,’ what they’re really talking about is mass conformity. I, as leader of the free world, can’t and won’t allow that to happen.”

“Free world,” Peter scoffed. “What free world?”

“One of the carriers we’d caught and detained, Lenny Van der Meer, escaped a month ago and is hiding, we believe, somewhere in Africa with other carriers,” Price said, with a photo of Van der Meer showing beside her. “Here we’ll show you a brief video of him so you can see the kind of ‘people’ these carriers are. I have to warn you, though, that it will be disturbing to watch.”

“The agitprop thickens,” Peter whispered.

The TV cut to a shaky video showing a dimly-lit room with Van der Meer, a blonde woman in a business suit crouched in a corner, and a few black men and women standing around her. She was in about her mid-thirties, shaking, and in tears.

“You work for the IMF, do you not?” Van der Meer asked her. “Your loans keep poor countries like this one we live in forever in debt, don’t they?”

“Look, if they can’t pay back their loans,” she said in a shaky, sobbing voice, “It’s out of my ha–“

Suddenly, the dots of light flew out of his hands and out of those of the other people in the room. The little lights went inside her body, and red cracks appeared all over her face and hands. She shook and screamed in pain for a few seconds before the video was cut off.

The TV showed President Price again.

“As you can see,” she said, “this is not the kind of man we should be sympathizing with.”

“I beg to differ,” Peter said. “I hate the IMF.”

“Remember that every carrier…every carrier in the whole world, has the exact same agenda as Lenny Van der Meer,” she continued. “Make no mistake. The carriers all think with the same mind. They’ll kill anyone who stands in the way of their alien masters. This is why we must stop them–for the very survival of the human race. So report all known carriers in your area to the local authorities. They’ll do the rest. As we learn more about the latest moves of the aliens and their once-human carriers, we’ll inform you of these latest developments. A full military confrontation is being planned, which will eliminate this menace while ensuring minimal human casualties. For security reasons, I cannot at the moment discuss any of the details of these plans, as it’s classified information.”

“Of course not,” Peter said. “War crimes are best kept as secret as possible.”

“So please have faith in the judgement of this government, as well as the governments of the world cooperating with us, to do the right thing,” she concluded. “God bless America, and God bless our Mother Earth.”

One of the bodyguards turned off the TV.

“So, what do we do now?” the other bodyguard asked.

“Go to Africa,” Michelle said in a monotone, almost trancelike voice. “Find this Lenny Van der Meer.”

“Sounds intriguing,” Peter said. “But how are we going to get there with all this global surveillance and security asking questions about our destination and the purpose of our travels?”

“We still have the private planes of our dead parents,” she said, still in a monotone voice, staring straight ahead in a trance.

“Yes, but people working for the global governments/corporations will still be getting in our way,” Peter said. “After all, they’ll know your mom was a carrier, and they’ll suspect we are carriers, too, as you two men definitely are.”

“Many of those people in the governments/corporations are secretly carriers,” the first bodyguard said. “The two of us can network things so that when you go through customs and checkpoints, you’ll encounter only our people.”

“Well, I guess that settles it,” Peter said with a smile.

“I guess it does,” she said, still looking straight ahead at nothing in particular.

Glowing dots of light floated out of the pores of the bodyguards and lit up the living room. Neither Peter nor Michelle even flinched.

A man in a suit, watching from outside and with a pistol hidden in a holster in his blazer, flinched, though.