No fucking way, an alien invasion. Here I am on my way to my first day at Jez's new business venture, a comic shop he decided to call Dr Wirtham's. I got that, I got it and it cost me a sit down with some girl I actually sort of liked but whatever it cost me SIX HUNDRED POUNDS to get to Pittsburgh for my copy and I value my cash and my comics more than sex except when it's dark and I didn't pay the internet bill.
Anyway I got an old Zap Comix on my knee on the bus when I hear on my walkman radio the Eiffel Tower has a giant, disc-shaped aircraft hovering on top of it. You remember that lyric from Blonde on Blonde, 'like a mattress balancing on a bottle of wine'? Yeah, that was me and France's national monument. I could see it and suddenly I was sat on the sharpest edge of the world, I couldn't sit down. I immediately stood up and yelled 'STOP THE BUS THE ALIENS ARE HERE' and only one other guy looked at me like I wasn't having a comedown like no other (I've never done drugs, I only want the performance enhancing ones the CIA used in the 60s).
Know how I knew it was an alien invasion? Me and my buddies were talking shit through last week when I got home late from my dishwashing job and maybe it was the fact I'd de-greased the dishwash and inhaled loads of fumes, I felt totally fucked up until I'd had a few pints of Pepsi, or maybe it was the fact that it's 1995, the internet is OPEN FOR BUSINESS and suddenly we're discovering computers are pretty much the greatest creation in humanity, limitless untapped potential that we can do pretty much anything with. And these fuckers knew that we knew, and decided we had definitely got far enough in our journey of self discovery and that it was time to go back to Egypt, back to Anubis who was an alien god himself, and the rest of the suits from Langley Virginia would go live in 16 Cygni (close enough to hit us at warp-speed but far enough that human supplies will never last long enough for us to bring the fight to them) and rule us from afar, as they had been done ever since J Edgar Hoover first made contact after taking a day trip to Roswell in 1953 and seeing for the first time what the rest of the world will now be forced to see.
I pity these people. They don't know a thing about aliens, they all go to work every day and watch soap operas and sit with their kids at home and go and rent Aliens from the video shop at the weekend and scare themselves shitless but you know what's scariest about that? THOSE ALIENS COULDN'T FLY. Didn't even have a spaceship, they just burst out like 'Surprise! Here's my head shaped like your cock and I'm MADE OF BONE AND ACID!' These aliens have a ship, probably a hierachy of command and undoubtedly the co-operation of the US government. We learnt at the weekend that if you type 'bombing' or 'terrorism' or some other shit like that into the internet the CIA AUTOMATICALLY HACKS YOUR LINE and watches your conversation. Jez tried it and his computer flickered a bit. He said 'That happens a lot, it's a shit old monitor and my dad won't get me a new one' but you know what? No such thing as a coincidence. None.
I turn on the driver before I leave the bus. 'Have you heard? France is being invaded by aliens.' The bus driver checks his watch and says 'They'll probably have surrendered by midday then eh?' and a load of people hear and start laughing. Tossers. We're all off to get fucking nuked by a superior race and all they can do is sit on a bus and laugh at the French. Jez isn't stupid. He'll have a shop with a basement and we can sit down there. I get my tape recorder out. 'Memo: Make sure Jez has a bog that works. We'll be living down there for months.' I click and save. The little red light flashes and it already feels like we're up against it. I've come prepared this morning though. Did my daily shit before I left for work for a change and didn't rush my toast and tea. I almost feel like I knew.
Walking down the high street just round the corner from Jez's place, a news bulletin on Radio 4: a massive round aircraft has been positioned above the White House. Aides are rushing to evacuate the President and First Lady.
That's it then. What are you supposed to do when they land a spaceship on the President's house? It's so devastatingly simple I'm surprised it's never been tried before. Of course there are literally hundreds of Stealth bombers patrolling Washington DC but they've probably just cloaked their way in there, that's the first thing you'd invent if you were to mount an airborne attack on a planet. They do it with land vehicles in C&C, I can't believe we don't have any weaponry like that lying around somewhere. I don't wish harm on anyone but really shit would just be better if people actually paid attention to real-time strategy games. We should be up to like Tesla-capable weaponry and Philadelphia Experiment teleportation by now, that's not even the good weaponry either. As it is we still love the M16 and C4, stuff we were basically using on Communists in the Seventies. The Army have just got lazy. I pretty much run down the remainder of the high street and turn the corner, where I knock over this old man by accident. He's so grey, he has this grey jacker past his waist with a sheepskin collar and grey trousers and his hair is thin and grey too. 'He's soylent green, leave him' I think to myself, but I stop anyway and grab him by the elbows. He yells in pain and shouts at me in this husk of a voice 'You stupid boy, I have arthritis! Can't you be a bit more bloody careful?!' He taps at my shins with his walking stick and I think he's testing out the fortitude of my legs sp he can come and nick them when we're all malnourished and living in bomb shelters ('Shit', I realise, 'he's got the edge on me here, he's probably already lived through one war') when I realise he's actually just trying to hit me in frustration. 'I'm trying to help you, do you know there's a spaceship on top of the White House right now?' I say, exasperated. 'Shut up you fat little boy, you'd probably find it easier to slow down if you lost a bit of weight,' he wheezes. 'Oh fuck off,' I say. You're going to be puree for the hybrid homo-alien baby factories!' I grab his walking stick off him and chuck it into the road, where it hits a cyclist in the face. He nearly crashes into a bin and screams 'TWAT!' at me. I scream 'DEADMAN!' back and run to Jez's on the corner. I check my watch and barrel inside.
A lot of customers are in there. The place is genuinely pretty busy, and Jez has a big smile on his face chatting away with these two pretty girls with pink and red hair respectively about Harvey Pekar. Won't be any customers in about four hours Jez, time to man the fucking barricades. I rush round the counter and grab the collar of his Amazing X-Men t-shirt. His girlfriend Ellie bought him that when they went to Los Angeles with her mum and dad. Jez said he'd never been happier, so I killed Ellie's guinea pig and said Jez overfed it. To be honest, they weren't getting married so what was the problem? Plus she did get a lot of looks from other guys, she would've dumped him eventually. Jez never found out it was me.
'Jez, turn the radio on. It's happening.'
Jez looks a bit unnerved and smiles uncomfortably. 'What are you talking about?'
'Get the radio on. What have you got? Transistor? Anything will do.' I look on the shelves for his base for music.
'It's a CD player Will, I haven't got a radio in the shop. What's going on?'
I look at the customers. A few of them have stopped looking at the shelves and are now looking at us.
'Alien invasion Jez. Aliens in France. Aliens in D.C. They'll get the Prez, it's a matter of time.'
'D.C? The Prez?' Jez chuckles at me. 'You're not American Will, your dad's from Mansfield. Are you ready to start work?' He looks at me hopefully. Oh God Jez. I'm sorry, this is one of those 'corrective measures' that we all joke about whilst talking about US international policy in the 1960s. I brush my hair out of my face and breathe deeply.
'Jez. Close the fucking shop. We're going to be nuked.' I turn to the customers. They're all looking at me now. Some of them look geninely alarmed. A heavy shadow falls across my heart as I realise that almost all of these people will be dead in hours.
'All right! All of you fuck off! We're closed! Get out!' I start herding people towards the door. There's a few loud mutters of discontent and someone shouts 'Go and have a shower you fat sweaty bastard'. You'll be having a shower mate, of the nuclear variety I think as I haul people out of the door one by one.
'STOP!' I turn around and so do a few customers and we all look at Jez, who looks pretty pissed off actually.
'Will, what the HELL do you think you're doing?'
I tap my Walkman. 'Alien invasion. France and America have already fallen. It's only a matter of time before they come for Britain. We have to get inside! Have you got a basement?'
Jez shakes his head. 'No, Only a storage room upstairs.'
I don't believe this. I've played through so many FPSs with Jez that I would've PRESUMED that he knew when the shit hits the fan, the basement is the best and easiest place to defend precisely because of its underground position. I throw my hands up in exasperation and catch a whiff of myself. Maybe that guy was right.
'Jez, we need to turn this place into a fucking fortress. Have you got supplies? A kitchen? A toilet? Pulldown bed or sofa or something? Because you will need ALL OF THIS in about three hours time and I'm giving you the heads-up now.' This guy would be dead without me, I think as I wrestle someone away from the door. They've left their purse apparently.
Jez comes round the counter and I can see by the look in his eye that we're finally on the same wavelength. Best friends since we met in high school. Since I met him. Didn't see his friends much after that really. 'Will,' he begins. I raise an eyebrow. The plan is on.
'You're a fucking twat. This is Milton Keynes. Why would an alien invasion come here? I don't have a toilet, I go to the Crown round the corner where I get my lunch and use theirs. They're fine with it. Let these customers back in and fuck off.'
I'm stunned. I'm honestly lost for words, and a haze sort of descends over me. As I stand in silence in the early morning heat, treetops swaying and a helicopter buzzing overhead, I think about my next move. Is there a basement at the library? Bad idea I realise; it's round the corner from a petrol station. Massive explosions. I can see Jez's lips moving but it's almost as if the nukes have already gone off. My hearing is drowned out by a tinny whistling sound. Then it all comes back in a flood.
'-seeing Ellie tonight so don't bother calling round. And don't bother coming back for work tomorrow. You're sacked.'