It is with so much joy that I write these words down: I am not alone. I have found other survivors.
It took three days of experimentation, but I managed to get the Martian walker functioning and learn how to control it. Once I had the machine up and running it was a simple matter to locate other survivors. As it happens, the Martians did indeed have technology to track our whereabouts. While that does bring up potentially disturbing questions about their intentions and the reasons behind their behavior, the Martians are no longer a threat to us.
One of the women I found was a doctor of some sort in Trenton. She examined the martian corpse I had found and determined the cause of death was what we know as the common cold. Viruses and bacteria are everywhere, inescapable on Earth, but we think that the Martians, in colonizing Mars, created a perfectly sterile environment. Without any viruses or bacteria of their own to worry about, we suspect that they simply overlooked the possibility on Earth, and were unprepared for them.
It seems like an incredible oversight, especially given how many medical advertisements they must have overheard, and how much of our wireless information they must have had access to. I don’t understand how they could have made such a mistake, but I am grateful that they did.
It will be a long process to rebuild our world out of these ashes, but I believe that we are up to the challenge, that we can build our world into something better than it was.
I have been on the road for three days now, and until today I had seen no signs of the Martians. I did manage to find food in the few houses I passed by, and plenty to eat in the city once I reached it. My journey has been completely free of Martians, and for that I am thankful, though without another human, the trip has been eerie and unsettlingly quiet.
What drew my attention was a flock of birds. Crows. Did you know that a flock of crows is called a murder? That was the only thing I could think of as I crept closer to the feathered cloud. When I saw the walker, I knew that I had reached the end. But it didn’t attack me. Indeed, the walker had fallen to the ground, its body cracked open like an egg.
There was something laying nearby, half eaten by the crows and hardly recognizable as the creature that I had first seen emerging from the capsule at Grover’s Mill. Or perhaps another of its kind; I have no way of knowing if it is the very same Martian. This one was obviously dead. Its body was bloated and covered in sores where the crows hadn’t yet pecked away at it. It was dried out and withered, its tentacles curled in on themselves.
I examined the walker, hoping that I could use it to move around faster or locate other survivors. Martian physiology is much different from out own, however, and the controls are not only a mystery to me, but likely designed for appendages that I do not possess. Nevertheless, there is food nearby and with a few days time it is possible that I might decipher the workings of this machine.
I woke up this morning to the warmth of sunlight on my face. After a week of nothing but darkness, the experience was… indescribable. An ascension from the abyss. But it raises questions. Why have the Martians stopped spreading the black fog? What are they planning next?
Out of the corner of my eye, through the kitchen window, I saw movement. I spun and froze, terrified a walker had snuck up on the house and was preparing to incinerate me where I stood. But it was not a walker. A small, red squirrel had likewise frozen, clinging perfectly still to a branch of the tree outside. I stared at him in wonder, as he stared back at me. I believe at that moment the animal and I shared the same emotion: the joy at finding another living being.
I ventured outside, briefly. The freshness of the air and the touch of the wind was intoxicating, and I became reckless. I ran around the house, I shouted with joy, jumping up and down and waving my arms wildly. Not a single Martian walker appeared over the horizon or from behind the house to kill me.
In looking back, I find I have no recollection of hearing them lumber by for several days. Could it be that they have actually gone? Retreated back to their Martian home? There is no sign of the fog, and I have run through everything of use in this house. This could be a trap to lure me into the open, but at this point I would rather risk death by heat ray than force myself to eat another package of those damnable noodles.
It is dark now. The black fog has spread and thickened. This house is completely covered. I haven’t seen the sun in what feels like weeks. My phone tells me it’s only been three days, but in the darkness, I cannot tell. I have hidden myself in the basement, making only occasional trips up the stairs to check on the fog.
In the dark I have time to think. Think about the rest of the world. I remember seeing a handful of those capsules crashing toward the ground on the first night. Surely, if they have enough to send ten of them to New Jersey, there must be thousands of them across the planet. The entire world is probably covered in walkers and black fog.
I’ve thought more about what they mean to do to us, and I do not like where my mind has brought me. It seems more and more likely that the Martians intend to gather up the survivors and use us for some debauched purpose. Perhaps some experiment, the way that we have experimented on mice and rats. Perhaps they mean to pit us against each other, like dog fights, or that Hunger Games movie from last year. I did not like the concept then, but much less now that I could be living it.
But what can we do? What can I do? I am trapped in a house-shaped cage, unable to flee, unable to fight back. I am running out of food as well. The icebox has thawed completely, which will at least provide me with water until what’s left of the food starts growing mold, and then I will be left with nothing but this crate of ramen to stave off starvation.
If the Martians are here to hunt us, that could explain the last few days. I have seen more and more walkers gathering in the area. They appear to be circling this house, perhaps to goad me into fleeing. I might even have done so, save for that black gas they delight in spreading.
It has been almost two weeks since they arrived and started spraying that gas over everything. Whatever it is, it should definitely be having a dramatic impact on the ecosystem. And, while I have not seen any living animal in the past two weeks, the plant life seems entirely unaffected. There should be some impact on the flora: regardless of what the gas is composed of, just having that much of it in the air would interfere with their ability to intake energy from sunlight. And yet, nothing.
It could be that the Martians are using it as the initial stage of terraforming: the removal of competing life forms. This is assuming that they want Earth for themselves. If all they wanted was to remove humanity, there are certainly other ways. More efficient, more destructive ways. This method leaves room for survival, a loophole the lucky can exploit. Surely, the Martians would not leave us the option if they did not want us to take advantage it. Which begs the question: why? Why do the Martians want to leave some of us alive?
I cannot imagine anything we humans could offer to a species advanced enough to accomplish what they have done. Our global infrastructure has been completely dismantled. Food, that precious commodity we take for granted, must be grown and harvested, processed and cooked. Grocery stores are no longer a viable option, the survivors will need to grow their food personally. With the Martians looming everywhere, I don’t see how we can do that without them knowing and stopping us. Unless… could the Martians want to keep the remaining humans as pets or in a zoo? Souvenirs of their conquest? What a disturbing thought.
Eight days now. I think I may finally have found a safe place to hide from the Martians. And none too soon. I spent most of yesterday narrowly avoiding a walker. I am somewhat surprised that they don’t have better tracking equipment. Or perhaps they do, and they have decided to keep me alive for some reason. Perhaps for sport.
I saw, briefly, another person yesterday. Then a walker appeared and chased him down. The walkers are surprisingly graceful and swift for only having three legs. I do not suspect I could outrun one if I were fortunate enough to find a functioning car. The man screamed and ran, while I hid. If the Martians are looking for sport, I will not comply. But that does not shield me from the horrors of watching other men be devoured by the walkers or asphyxiate in that infernal fog.
I found an abandoned house, two floors and a basement. Must be almost twenty miles It seems secure, but there is no way to test how tightly the windows close before they are confronted with the black fog. Still, the second floor will provide both altitude and cover, protection enough for an indirect assault. The house lost power when the Martians destroyed the power plant a few days ago, but there is a freezer in the basement that hasn’t completely thawed yet.
It has been five days since the aliens landed, and they have been the longest five days of my life. For myself, I do not have much to report. My days have been spent searching for food, and my nights for warmth. My journey started toward civilization, but the cities have suffered the most from this Martian invasion. After filling a backpack with as much food as I could, I left the city and sought shelter in outlying farmhouses.
In the few moments I have not been focused on finding food or shelter, I have tried to determine where our visitors have come from and why they have made the trip. Looking back on the events preceding their arrival, it is obvious that the invasion was launched from Mars. That makes all of my protestations and assurances that such a thing was impossible ring mockingly in my mind. Although, it makes no difference now. Given Mars as a starting point, I could understand a number of motivations for an invasion. Envy of our abundant resources, perhaps, or anger at our constant bombardment of their planet with our probes and our media.
However, according to all of our research, Mars has never hosted life. Or at least the surface of Mars has never been inhabited by any form of life we recognized. It lacks the protection of an atmosphere against the radiation of our sun, leaving the surface uninhabitable. It is possible that an alien species arrived and colonized the interior of the planet. For this to happen without our noticing, either they possess advanced stealth technology, which seems unlikely, given their behavior this week, or the trip was made before we had a constant gaze on the stars. I don’t know what the implications would be in either scenario, but I am certain it would make no difference for humanity.