written by: TM Arko
Aliens inhabited human bodies and snuck around the world causing havoc and fear in 1967. There were a few humans who knew the secret and frantically tried to convince the yet to be inhabited ones. No one believed it until a seemingly human body became an ashy silhouette on the cold ground. If you shot, stabbed or even choked an invaded human body then poof ashes to ashes dust to dust right there before your eyes. This was the premise of a 1967 television show called ‘The Invaders’ and it scared the hell out of every red-blooded kid in America. Everyone was suspect. That mean 5th grade teacher or the kid who never talked but always stared even your parents. It was a freaky time and every one was on edge. Who knows maybe aliens in human bodies were responsible for shooting JFK.
To make matters worse they showed War of The Worlds in the gymnasium of Annunciation Catholic School for the Saturday monthly movie. The reel to reel clicked and clacked while projecting creepy alien hands with suction cups to suck out your soul. Then those terrifying death rays that burnt everybody and left the same ashy figures like the dead Invaders. I choked on my red vine licorice whip. Not more than a week later, I had a nightmare about aliens coming for me. I was out on my street at night. The full harvest moon was like a giant glowing Sunkist orange with a face. It was shining behind the huge dark walnut tree at the end of the street. The dark walnut tree had dropped all of its nuts and leaves. Now it looked like a headless giant with a bunch of wicked arms and a ghoulish face in the middle of the trunk. That tree scared me on many occasions in reality when I would be riding my bike home at dusk. It would call my name in the darkness and threaten to swallow me into its massive dark roots. I could never peddle fast enough to get by it and I would sing Beatle songs as I went by to calm my fright.
“Good day sunshine, good day sunshine”…
In my nightmare, I saw something round with glowing lights flying across the moon and over the scary walnut tree. I immediately knew it was the Invaders and they were coming for me. I yelled for my dad and my mom, my brothers and my sisters. They all were gone. The neighbors were gone, the dogs and cats were gone. It was just the ghostly spaceship and me. In the midnight hour, it buzzed and whined as it came towards me. I tried to run with all of my might but my legs felt like mountains of lead. I tried to scream but it was silent like someone under water. I broke loose from the mountain legs and started moving. Running with all of my might through backyards and vacant lots. Looking for bushes to hide in, but there were none. I ran down Peck Road all the way to the Mayflower Market. Everything was dark, everything closed and everything was dead. Then came the whining and flashing of the space ship above me. Then it released a War of The Worlds death ray right over me. Just before I was about to disintegrate I woke sitting up. I was covered in sweat and panting as if I had just run a marathon. I wet my bed that night because I was too scared to get up and go to the bathroom.
Wax teeth dreams and candy laced visions of Halloween started to snap me out of my Invader paranoia. Soon, there was nothing but thoughts of trick or treat and a loaded giant grocery bag of goodies. The old widow around the corner would be giving out popcorn balls. The egg man would give out quarters and the nuns at the convent gave out little fruit pies. Costumes were easy back then. I would be the Wolf man. I went to the variety store and I bought a plastic mask with a rubber band to hold it on. Then, I just took old clothes and put red food coloring all over them for blood. Cool, creepy and yeah I was going to score lots of candy.
The night was finally here. Halloween night. Dark and dry the winds blew softly as leaves and candy wrappers scuttled through the feet of kids in search of the treasures. Treasures behind suburban doorways. The air was singing with the sounds of doorbells and loud knocks and shouts of “Trick or Treat”. The cardinal rule of my parents, I had to stay within sight of my older sister and whatever she said was law. My older sister Linda was cool. She would let us run out of her sight as long as we met up with her at the corner to check in.
It was my best friend David and me running the streets for sugared loot. My plastic mask was wet on the inside from my hot young breath. The impervious plastic sent toxic chemical smells up my nose. We knocked, rang and yelled at every house in the area. It was time to check in at the corner.
As I ran back to the corner, I saw that orange moon rising against the darkness of the trees. My nightmare briefly flashed in my head. I squinted my eyes behind the two holes punched in my ninety-nine cent mask. There was Linda at the corner with her best friend Chris. They were boringly dressed as ghost in sheets. David and I sat on the corner and began to look over the riches in our paper bags. We sprawled out on the grass like a couple of pirates from the days of old. I looked up across the street and there was the big old walnut tree creaking in the wind.
Then a glass breaking scream from Chris. My sister grabbed my hand and pulled me up. Someone’s bag of candy hit the street and chocolates and Jujubes scattered to the ends of the earth. I pulled my hand away and looked at my sister’s face. Horror! Her trembling hand pointed towards Mount Wilson. It looked like a giant shadow puppet against the moonlit sky. Something was rising from behind the mountain. Something with flashing lights that were spinning at the speed of light. It hovered and moved closer to our little valley. It was a flying saucer and it was coming for us. I knew for sure it was the Invaders. My nightmare had been a prophecy and this was going to be the end of the world right here, right now.
My hand yanked and I ran to keep up with my sister. David was long gone, probably already abducted by the Invaders. We were moving past that old nasty walnut tree. For once, I was not scared of it. There was something bigger to scare me. It was an alien ship with the soul sucking hands that could send a death ray to kill us all. Across our front lawn like the Flash. Crash. I burst through our front door like a human earthquake. My dad jumped from the easy chair. “What the hell”, was all he said.
I just kept saying, “They’re coming for us, they’re coming for us.” Bang through the house and under my bed. It was dark and I was covered. I was safe. Even from my safe spot, I could feel the house vibrating and wind swirl around. They are taking the house up into their ship. I could hear chopping noises and my dad shouting. Then two rough hands grabbed me and pulled me out from under my safe spot. It was my dad.
Oh no! They’ve already invaded his body. No dad, no please.
He carried me through the house quickly and out to the front lawn. The blare of lights pierced my eyes the chopping swirling sound was deafening.
“Look up Mike, look up.” My dad took my chin gently and pushed my head upward.
The flying saucer was right above us. Only it was not a flying saucer at all.
Now the sound became more familiar. It was the sound of a helicopter.
There were lights spinning around the helicopter. The lights were words.
My dad put his hand on my shoulder. “You see son, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
I looked at the helicopter hovering above and read the words.
The words spinning around the helicopter read Eat at Joe’s.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
This is based on a real event that actually happened to the author. Happy Halloween!