When the aliens invaded, we never noticed. They plummeted from orbit too small to register. The size of ladybugs, originally. There was no Space Invaders-style blast-’em-on-the-way-down. There was no War of the Worlds mass panic. Just little pebble-people dropping down like hail.
By then, they knew everything about us. Where we lived. How we lived. They stayed close. We wondered if it was a joke, what they did. Crawling into our homes and hiding in our closets while they grew in the darkness.
A generation if kids raised on video games, blasting aliens to pieces every day. They still weren’t prepared.
The aliens grew in our closet-wombs, gestating, until they emerged. All in the same night. I hate thinking about it. I still remember lying there, hearing the chittering. It sounded so much like the sounds of a settling house. But I was scared anyway. I was thirteen and I would have called myself a “man” back then, but I was scared of the noises in my closet. All I could think about was that one time a grasshopper flew into my ear. The flitting, fluttering noise. That’s what they sounded like, right before they peeled open the closet doors and sought nourishment to fill out their hollow frames.
If only we knew. If only we could have possibly known that the emergence point of the aliens was their weakest. Even weaker than their ladybug stage. They grew on nothing, and once they reached their full size, they were more like a blown-up balloon than anything. Fragile. But once they got to feasting, they would fill out and harden and there would be no stopping them then.
I got lucky. I used to play this game, EarthBound, where you play a thirteen-year-old kid with a baseball bat who fights aliens. I kept my bat next to my bed in case of overnight alien invasions. I swear to god, I thought I was dreaming. I had these lucid dreams of my games. They always felt real, and this felt real, but I used to have this mantra: “If you have to wonder if you’re dreaming, you are.” I must have been. It was a goddamned alien.
So I played the video game hero, taking up my baseball bat and swinging away. The creature crumbled to brittle pieces well before it could get its claws or its mandibles in me. What a dream!
Except I could still hear the chittering, like millions of grasshoppers surrounded my house. They were in other closets. My parents’, my brother’s. My neighbours.
The war took a long time. A long damn time. It’s why nobody builds closets anymore. I just can’t help thinking that we could have ended it all that first night, if only more people played EarthBound.
Today’s three prompt categories were, “Alien race,” “The monster in the closet,” and, “Game design.”
The moral of the story is EarthBound is the best game ever made.