In the Name of Safety. Short Story.

Brandon looked out the window again, where was she? Curfew started in ten minutes and there was still no sign of Alice. Sure, she could be late sometimes, but she’d never been this late before. He checked his phone again, still nothing from her. She still had time, she’d make it.

Lights filled the window, Brandon felt himself relax a little as he went to the door, she was cutting it close, very close. Alice grabbed her things from the car and quickly jogged into the house, Brandon closed the door behind her and a few seconds later the auto locks engaged. She gave Brandon a hug, “Sorry, I got held up at the office, I didn’t notice the time. I flew back, thank god there was no traffic.” She gave him a quick kiss, “I’m sorry, I know how much you hate it when I cut it close. I’ve already set an alarm on my phone so it won’t happen again.”
Brandon shook his head, “Its ok, I’m just glad you’re safe.”
Outside the sirens started, it was a low, steady sound, one that always filled Brandon with dread. “C’mon, lets get a start on dinner.”

“I was thinking we could get the shutters installed too.”
“I don’t know, seems like a bit of a waste of money, besides I like being able to look out at night.”
“I don’t like the idea of those things looking in at us.”
“They don’t, they’re just animals, they just go about their business. Once we keep the doors and windows locked we’re safe. Besides, we can’t even open them after curfew, even if we wanted to.”
“I know, I just worry. I mean they haven’t started breaking windows yet, but it’s only a matter of time isn’t it? Once they realise they can get in.”
“They haven’t realised yet. They’re not the brightest things in the world if you haven’t noticed.”
Brandon ate another forkful of his spaghetti, “I know, but there’s no harm in having the extra layer of security.”
Alice sighed, “I think it’s too much really. I hate the locks on the doors and windows as is. I think I’d go insane if we had the shutters too. If it makes you feel better we can keep all the downstairs curtains closed at night.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Alice glanced at the window, “how much longer do you think this’ll go on?”
“Well, they said it would only last a few months.”
“Yeah, but that was over a year ago. The numbers don’t seem to be dwindling at all, if anything I think there’s more of them.”
“Well, the government are trying to exterminate them, they had the safety squads doing rounds at night and going into nests during the day.”
“I know, it just seems like it’s all for show though. Kill one every now and then and parade it around, they keep things under control but that seems to be all they’re willing to do.”
Brandon shrugged, “they’re hard to kill, remember the first night they appeared? How many people died?”
Alice looked down at her food, “Yeah, I remember.”
“They’re doing their best.”
“Well their best isn’t good enough. God I hate being trapped inside my own home, I want to be able to go out and just go for a walk or look at the stars. Remember that? Driving out to the middle of nowhere, laying out a blanket and lying underneath the stars? Do you think our kids will be able to do that someday? Or is it just gone forever.”
“Well, they said they hope to have all the Outsiders exterminated by next year.”
Alice winced, “Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, it just sort of slipped out.”
“No, it’s ok. I have to get used to it sooner or later. It’s just, naming them seems wrong, like it makes them more real, like they’re always going to be a problem or a worry.”
“It’s only for another few months, that’s all.”
“That’s what they said about the curfew, that it would only be for a few weeks, that was five months ago. Who exactly does it benefit if I’m locked out of my house because I was ten seconds late getting home?”
Brandon sighed, “I know honey, it’s ridiculous but we have to put up with it for a little while. It’s the law.”
Alice shook her head, “Its an unjust law. Installing all their automatic deadbolts in peoples homes. It’s criminal is what it is. They need to be held accountable for it.”
“People are just frightened. After this ends it’ll go back to normal. You’ll see.”
Alice shook her head, “That’s the thing. If it isn’t the outsiders it’ll be something else. There’s always something else.”
“Not this again. We know how the Outsiders got here, it wasn’t planned.”
“They might not have planned it but they certainly took advantage of it, didn’t they? We’re all locked up like prisoners in our own homes and we all just stood around and let it happen.”
Brandon took a deep breath, “Can we not have this fight again? Please.”
“I’m sorry. It gets me so worked up, I just hate what they’re doing in the name of safety.”
“I know but once the outsiders are dealt with they won’t have any reason to keep this going, people wouldn’t stand for it. They only do now because they’re terrified.”

Alice looked out the window, there were a lot of those things out there, skulking around in the dark, she couldn’t see them clearly though occasionally she would catch a glimpse of the white, pale flesh of a human face, staring out from its dark bulging flesh, Alice shuddered whenever she saw that. The outsiders like to steal the faces of humans, no one had figured out why yet. After a few minutes she turned from the window, feeling faintly nauseous. They were extremely difficult to kill but not the brightest. Maybe Brandon was right, maybe things would go back to normal once they were gone, though she couldn’t see how, after all they knew alien life existed, how could everything just go back to normal after that?

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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