When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.
So does the murder rate.
Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.
The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.
He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:
“Jahd and Dahl did well,” Senz said. He laid beside Ren, naked and filthy from head to toe. “This place is bountiful. Almost like home, but without the screaming and the imminent death.” He chuckled. “Yet.”
“We told you to put clothes on, Senz. It is how things are done here.”
“If a man cannot be naked in his own home, then what has the world come to?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Seriously, you have to wear clothes. We do not want to draw attention. So far, they have accepted us here. If someone starts complaining to the authorities about us, perhaps saying we are exhibitionists or perverts, they will force us to move on, or worse, they will notice you have a couple of noticeably inhuman parts and we will have to escalate the plan. Dahl would be displeased should that happen. We may even have to return home.”
“So? It would be nice to go home once in a century; do you not think so?”
“We cannot move on until we have done what we came here to do. It would be selfish of us to leave them to their misguided ways when we know how much better their lives could be.”
Senz sighed. He picked up the pants he’d discarded with his shirt on the ground beside him and sat up. As he put his legs into the coarse material of the pants, he nodded at the cooler tucked into Ren’s tent. “Did you eat it all, or will you share?”
“Sure. Help yourself.”
“I only received the entrails last night. Not very filling and they taste terrible.” “A meal is a meal.”
“Meh,” Senz zipped his pants and then reached for the cooler. “Little too rich for me.”
He laughed at his own joke.
Ren shook his head. “There is no such thing as too rich.”
“Unless you are one of them.”
“We will be heading out again tonight, so do not eat too much. Dahl has put you on the list.”
“Praise the human lord.” Senz removed a long, tubular package wrapped in brown butcher’s paper. He opened it. “I gave up hope on getting the first taste.”
“We said we would rotate so everyone gets to enjoy a fresh kill. Dahl has prepared a schedule. It should be smooth sailing from here.”
“There are lots of them here, eh? It will take a while to do them all.”
“It will,” Ren said. “But we have time. The second wave arrives soon. Dahl says the General’s unit is docking in a place called California. I heard there are even more of them there. Must be nice to have rank so you can pluck the juiciest fruit.”
“You will get there. Dahl likes you.” Senz winked.
“Do not be a… dick.”
“Is that a new insult?”
“Yes. It means you are being mean and annoying.”
“Huh.” Senz bit off a piece of meat, chewed, and then swallowed. “I like it. I hope I have the opportunity to use it soon.”
“Just do not call Dahl or Jahd a dick. They are not in the mood for humor these days.”
“Always like that in the early stages of a renovation.”
“Yes, it means restoring or repairing something. Making it new or upgrading.
Is that not what we are doing?”
“It is. Renovation… so many words in this language that mean the same thing.”
“Gopher is teaching me the ins and outs of it. They also like words that are not words.”
“Slang. I know.” Ren scowled. “Do not become fond of Gopher.”
“I find that impossible. He is thoroughly entertaining.”
Ren sometimes wished he’d been put on the General’s fleet, where they weren’t allowed fraternizing and all that mattered was the mission. “By the way,” he said. “A disturbingly hairy man at the church said California has wealthy morsels on every corner. He said they bleed money out there. Tehn thinks he knows something. I did not allow him to kill the man, though. As he is not wealthy, I figured Dahl should approve it first.”
“He was not being literal,” Senz said. “Another ‘figure of speech’ in this language. Makes my head hurt, which is why I am grateful for the education
Gopher is providing.”
“I suppose he is useful.”
“And I, too, heard the General’s city is wealthier than this one. This is a good start, though.” He bit into the meat nestled in the brown paper again. “Look who is back.”
Ren looked to where he pointed. A short man with a hook in place of his right hand, and a good year’s growth of facial hair matted around his chin walked toward them, cup in hand: Gopher. “You must remember he is not one of us. Put some distance between yourself and him. If the mission goes wrong, he will not survive.”
“Jahd says we will need liaisons. They will trust what other humans say or something.”
“The fact that we did not eat them should be enough to make them grateful.”
Senz shrugged. “These creatures are strange. They do not behave in a way that is logical.”
“True. Still, I think Dahl’s original plan was better. Tell them how it will be and kill anyone who does not fall in line. Seems a faster way to get things done.”
“I disagree. We must cultivate relationships. Make them see we mean to help them, instead of bullying them into doing things our way. If they like and respect us, then they will work with us. The renovation will be successful, and we can go home sooner.” Senz put the last of the meat in his mouth and swallowed it without chewing. “What do I know, though? I am only a soldier who is fond of a human that smokes plants and scratches his genitals with unseemly regularity. I am not a great and powerful leader who knows all because of my rank.”
Ren picked a speck of dust from his pants. “Are you speaking of Dahl?”
“Never,” Senz said. “I was merely voicing an opinion. I would not mind keeping one, though. Perhaps I will be permitted to bring Gopher back. It has been done before. The bums at the shelter are hilarious as well, and they do not judge.”
“All humans judge.”
“You are wrong. I told them I eat the rich when times are tough, and they asked for recipes.” Senz laughed. “If they knew the truth, I imagine they would… what is the phrase? Shit in their pants, I think.”
Ren didn’t bother telling Senz they weren’t supposed to reveal themselves or how they survived. He’d been told enough times. Dahl would have to know about the security breach. Senz might not get a chance at fresh meat after all.
“Hey,” Gopher waved at Ren. “Your buddy Judd said to tell you soup’s on.” He shook the can.
Ren smiled. He waited until Gopher knelt and then pulled a dollar bill from the can. Senz did the same and they both inhaled the scent of the money. Ren saw the donor clearly in his mind. He looked at Senz. “Care to do some reconnaissance with me?”
“Do we get to eat this reconnaissance?”
“All right. Let’s go.”
“You guys are fucking odd,” Gopher said.
Ren smiled. “I found you a new dog.”
“Is that right?”
“Yes,” Ren said. “You were so upset about the old one that got crushed by the bus, I thought you might like a new one.”
“Well thanks. I do miss ol’ Goober, so I ain’t gonna say no to a new friend.
Where is he?”
“Dahl has him. We did not know if you wanted him skinned or not, so we have left him alive for now.”
“Skinned? For fuck’s sake, don’t skin the poor thing. What good is a dead dog?”
“He is alive…” Ren was confused. He’d seen animals in the homes of others and wondered at the way they treated them like family. “I thought your kind ate animals.”
“Christ, not dogs.”
“Do you not breed cattle and pigs and other animals for the purpose of eating?”
“Why not dogs? They too have meat that is edible.”
“Because we’re not savages.”
“And you think we are odd?”
(review request submitted by the publisher for an honest critique)
Renee prayed on the fear some people have (alien invasion) but also gave us something new to consider. It’s not what we see coming that we should worry about… it’s what we don’t see, what could be lurking out there, we should fear.
Many folks believe in aliens. They also believe one day aliens will invade us. However, I don’t imagine most individuals envision the otherworldly beings integrating themselves so seamlessly into our society. Unfortunately, a vast number of people turn a blind eye to the homeless so posing as of them was one helluva, brilliant disguise.
I liked many points in this story. No, I don’t mean I like aliens eating us Earth dwellers. What I mean is… I enjoyed how Renee wrote the scenes were the aliens learned about our society, the inventiveness on how to blend in, and the reason why the aliens felt the need to bring us Earthlings back to basics.
Yes, they were disgusting beings doing horrific things but this story was more than just a planet take-over.
Of course, some humans revolted and this is where my score dropped a point. The ending…. I didn’t quite grasp it.
What will become of Ed? What’s the ‘visitors’ next course of action? The end didn’t feel like an end but a set-up for another installment.
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Renee Miller has published stories in the crime/suspense, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy/horror/comedy, and erotic horror genres. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or on her blog.