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A Little Invasion
by Russel D. McLean
The little man in the glass jar said, "Really, I'm not kidding." He spoke with his head buried into chest, like maybe there was some microphone down there. For such a tiny man, his voice was clear, so it was safe to assume maybe there was something buried in the folds of his black overalls that made his voice travel so well.
Susan Meyers laughed. Her husband had always thought she was at her most beautiful when she was laughing and allowed himself a moment to contemplate upon that most familiar - and pleasant - of thoughts before returning to the business at hand. "Kinda cool, ain't he?" said Kenny.
Susan kissed him on the lips. "Oh, he's amazing."
"Excuse me," the little man said. "I'm still here. If you would stop with the - the thing there with the lips - and just listen to me. I'm no kidding. I'm only the advance guard."
Susan picked up the jar. The little man - he had introduced himself as Len - fell onto his rump, his face twisting into an uncomfortable expression. "How did you get so small?"
"How did you get so big? Its bloody evolution, madam! Add to that we're kind of from a different dimension and all that, which brings me back to my original point."
"Look," said Kenny, in what he thought was a reasonable tone. "Len - if that's your real name - its just that the concept of an invasionary force only five inches high is a little, well, ridiculous."
"It's like I heard her say to you earlier - when I was scouting your house - 'size doesn't matter.'"
Kenny blushed a little and began to pace the room.
"In matter like this I think it might. I mean, we could just go into a room and you wouldn't be able to come in. You lack the height to reach the doorhandle and you lack the mass to smash the door down. Hell, look, we've captured you in a bloody jam jar!"
"Hmm," said Len. "You know something: you might have a point." Susan had placed the jar back onto the table now. Len sat down, cross-legged on the base of the jar. "Although the soldiers are far more resourceful than I. I mean, I'm nothing compared to them. I only left university a year ago. I didn't want to get involved in the military effort, you know. But my knowledge of your culture..."
"How long have your people been studying our culture?" asked Susan. "Is it so vastly different to your own?" She had studied sociology at college and was interested in such matters.
"Oh yes," said Len. "My name isn't Len, for example. But to give you my real name would only result in confusion. You'd ask me if that was really how you pronounced it and I'd say yes and you'd try and you'd just get it wrong and I'd have to say it again, and so the cycle would go on." Len paused for breath, there, over-dramatising - in Kenny's opinion, at least - the gesture. "In any event, our cultures are quite different. Yours, for example, seem content to create universes that do not exist."
Len screwed up his face, thinking hard. "Tee-Vee," he said. "And books and radio and comics and..."
"Story-telling,' said Susan. "Don't you have stories?"
"Our people deal only in fact. Lies are a sign of a fat, over-fed society. You are decadent. You must be in order that you can create so many stories, so many lies."
Susan smiled, genuinely amused by the little man's odd-sounding philosophy. She turned to her husband. "Who do we do with him, Kenny?"
Kenny pondered this a moment. "Seems to me we have a few options."
"You could kill me."
They both looked at the little man. Len shrugged his soldiers. "I'm an expert in your culture. I am, in your parlance, a prisoner of war and there is always the possibility of killing prisoners of war."
"But there has to exist a state of war, surely," said Kenny.
"That's what I've been trying to tell you," said Len, patiently. "A state of war exists between our people! I am the latest in a long series of invasory scouts to try and map out the territory we have selected for invasion."
Susan laughed. "If it did, I would have heard about it. We would have heard about it on the news."
"The news," said Len, screwing his face up once more. "You get that on the Tee-Vee boxes, don't you? Yeah, and printed on paper as well. Some of you have the paper prints delivered through the entrance to your house before you awaken by underpaid and undernourished youngsters of your species. Sure, I know about news. But the news doesn't tell you everything. Your leaders, for example, continually neglect to tell you that a state of war exists between our peoples."
"Our leaders don't know your people exist!" Kenny shouted, finally frustrated with the tiny man who seemed to live in his own fantastic little universe. Tiny man or not, he seemed delusional. After all, if their country was at war - hell, if the world was at war - with a race of inter-dimensional, five inch high warriors who called themselves Len, then surely someone would have told the public. Surely, at least, there would have been signs of such a war!
There was a knock at the door.
Susan went to answer it.
"You know who that is, don't you?" Len asked Kenny.
"The men the your leaders employ to keep this war so hush-hush. For..." His face screwed again. "The public good." He shrugged. "Don't shoot the messenger. We've intercepted their communications. That's what they say."
Susan entered the room flanked by two serious looking white men. Both the men were dressed in sober suits. One of them wore glasses, but in every other respect was indistinguishable from his companion.
"Mister Meyers," said Glasses. "I understand you have a Visitor."
"We have a little man..." said Kenny. The two men unnerved him with their unblinking seriousness.
"Yes," said Glasses. "A Visitor. That is what we call them since they seem to have no use for names themselves."
"Except," said Len, "To make communication between our races easier." He winked at Kenny. "Now watch and learn, because these guys know what to do with a prisoner of war!"
"Shut up!" shouted the second man - the one without glasses - as he picked up Len's jam jar and shook it violently.
"Hey!" shouted Susan. "What're you doing that for?"
"Its necessary," said Glasses. "They're dangerous little fellows."
"They're only five inches tall!" said Kenny, moving now to stand beside his wife.
"Sir," said Glasses, speaking to Kenny now. "Where did you find this Visitor?"
Kenny gave an embarrased cough. "The cat brought him in."
"The cat?" said Glasses.
"Yes, the cat," said Kenny.
"What's the cat's name?" asked Glasses.
"Moriarty," said Kenny. "We called him Moriarty. My wife's a big Sherlock Holmes fan, you see. Anyway, the cat dragged him in the same way that he would a dead bird or rat."
"Vicious bastards," said Len. "Cats, I mean. Real smart and real vicious."
"Where is the cat now?" asked Glasses.
"Probably running out of town," said Glasses. "They're so much smarter than humans. You should have seen how disappointed he was when these two failed to recognise me for what I was."
"What did the cat do with the Visitor?" asked Glasses.
"He dropped him on the mat," said Kenny. "I was naturally curious, so I picked him up." He demonstrated how he had picked up the little man. "Between my thumb and forefinger, like this."
"I see," said Glasses. "What did he say to you?"
"He told me that he was the advance scout for an invasion force and that I'd better be damn careful. If I let him go, he said, then he might be able to persuade the others to spare my life."
"But you didn't let him go?"
"I figured, a race of five-inch people, what harm can they do?"
The two men exchanged serious looks. "A lot," said Glasses. "I wish, Mister Meyers, that you'd contacted the authorities. We could have cleaned up this whole damn mess quickly and efficiently. Could have evacuated the town."
"Got a cover story," said the second man.
"See,' said Len. "Stories are a sign of a decadent..."
"Shut up!" cried the man, shaking the jar again.
"Won't you stop it?" cried Susan. "You don't have to bloody do that! You're hurting him, can't you see?"
"Ma'am," said the second man. "This is nothing compared to what his people will do to you and me and all our families. This is bloody humane in comparison."
"Well," said Len. "Your people don't really feel pain, after all."
Susan looked at the little man with a new curiosity. "I'm sorry?"
"You don't feel pain."
"Tell them why you want to invade our world," said Glasses. His lips were curled in an approximation of a smile.
Len shrugged. "Well," he said. "There's good eating on one of you." He looked at Susan. "You would make an excellent years diet for one of our townships. One of the larger towns, I think."
Susan looked shocked and recoiled away from the little mean in the jar.
Len looked at the agent holding his jar. "I don't understand why you keep the little people - oh, pardon my pun - of your world so much in the dark concerning this situation. Surely the public benefits of knowledge about the truth would far away the negative consequences."
"Oh sure," said the second man. "Now he's telling us how we should run our country!"
Kenny flopped into his armchair. He closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh. "So what do we do now?" He opened his eyes and looked at the two intruders who were staring with beady eyes at Len, who was sitting cross-legged in the base of the jar.
"When is the invasion scheduled?" said Glasses. "Talk, damn you!"
Len laughed. "Well, I arrived here a day ago. I scouted for half a day and now half a day's been wasted inside this little jar. But, I still managed to send a little message back home." He reached into his trouser pockets and brought out what looked like a tiny CB radio. It had one blinking red light on its otherwise black surface. "So, I'd say you might like to have a look out the window."
His jar was placed back onto the table-top. The four humans ran to the window of Kenny and Susan Meyer's living room to look out onto the suburban street.
"My God," said Kenny. Outside, the streets were heaving with a thick carpet of countless five-inch high men. He could not see where they were coming from. They appeared to be multiplying by the second.
Across the street, Mrs Kensington, who was eighty years old and required the use of a cane and hearing aid, opened her door. She stared in stark disbelief at the invaders, before they expanded their ranks towards her and she was consumed by millions of tiny bodies who began to feast on her flesh.
Kenny and Susan turned away from the window. Susan was pale. Her husband wrapped his arms around her shoulders and said, "Everthing's going to be okay, honey. These men, whoever they are, I'm sure they'll be able to get us out of here."
"I have to use the phone," said the second man. "Before its too late."
"See,' said Kenny. "Everything's going to be just fine."
Glasses stood beside them, his face serious. "We'll stop the advance force here," he said. "But as for us, I'm afraid that there's really nothing we can do."
Susan looked at him. "Nothing?"
"Nothing," said Glasses.
Susan began to shudder uncontrollably and fell to the ground. Kenny looked at her, and began to feel his own legs give way beneath him.
Glasses put his hand on Kenny's shoulder. "We will survive."
Glasses coughed. "The human race."
"Oh," said Kenny. "Right."
Len was standing now. He pressed his face against the glass of the jam jar and laughed hysterically at the four humans.
Story © 2003 by Russel D. McLean RusselDM1@aol.com
Illustration © 2003 by Ehrad firstname.lastname@example.org
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