By William Markiewicz
(continued from last issue)
This "archival" story was inspired by a few of my dreams which I linked together.
" . . . -- And what good has it done us to hold all those prisoners?" concluded the President during the next meeting. “We have checked the electromagnetic field's effectiveness. But what weapons have we found that we can use against them? Not one. We believe we know who they are; they are soul cannibals, forgive the unscientific expression. They devour something in humans though leaving their faculties intact, with the purpose of mingling with and finally overpowering us. The 'soul' does not last indefinitely and so, they are periodically obliged to change hosts. The hosts, when abandoned, take on the appearance of what they became at the moment the parasite took control over them -- dead ones.
"What can we do? Can we try to control the whole planet and eliminate those who seem suspect? We remark their expressionless eyes and predominant cerebral alpha waves. But forever and everywhere, there have always been people like this and there was no question of them being monsters. As a matter of fact we don't even know if the majority of the human race isn't already under their power. Personally, I don't believe it. Otherwise we wouldn't still be at our posts. Perhaps the flames await the day when the majority of humans are in the work camps. They are surely scattered all over the world and -- for the moment -- we can't do anything."
Somebody interjected vehemently:
-- "Let us control whatever we can. Let's make war! We will make mistakes. Too bad. How could we be more threatened than we already are? Do we fear ruins and devastation like Chateauroux? Is it preferable to live in constant fear of the monsters?"
-- "This war on a planetary scale, I believe, should come only when we feel certain that humanity is really lost. And then it will be us who destroy the towns," answered the President. "We will be city guerrillas wearing electromagnetically protected armour. At the moment since we know so little, let's not be hasty. Let's remain cool and remember that panic and excitement creates fruitful ground for our enemy."
The President scrutinized his questioner, who paled. Another among the small group said, "Let's concentrate on our main point: an antibiotic against them."
-- "An antibiotic," somebody echoed automatically.
-- "And as long as we don't know the nature of the substance that nourishes them, we can't even think about poisoning them!"
As always at the end of a meeting on the subject of the monsters, silence fell, heavy and eloquent. It was one more day lost, one moral defeat more.
* * *
The prisoners were plunged in a sort of torpor. They refused to eat. One would say they were mannequins. Obviously the flames, in their despair, didn't deign to animate the bodies they inhabited. To see if it was possible to 'revive' them and as part of the research, TVs were placed in the cells. On this particular day, the program was abstract; colored balls exploded on the screen and monotonous music, tom-tom like, accompanied the pictures.
The guard who turned on the TV threw a distracted glance at the prisoners and was astounded. They didn't move from their prostrate positions but their eyes were fixed on the screen in fascination.
Seeing their eyes the guard withdrew, frightened because more than ever they showed an emptiness, a terrible absence. Theirs were the vitreous eyes of total dementia or of corpses. In any cases, of beings already ravaged by death. Caught in the lure of colored lights and tom-toms, the prisoners lost all their camouflage.
The guard pushed the alarm signal and those involved in the secret arrived. All looked and realized that they had discovered something extremely important in the outcome of the impending fight for power.
(Continued in the next issue)