Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge. A story, an interpretation of the famous “Nighthawks” painting by Edward Hopper, begins after Hopper’s painting.
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Mitzy wasn’t so sure about Trevor anymore. Sure, he was a looker and all, but what attracted her at first was his apparent intelligence. More and more, it became clear to her that it was just talk. Hours and hours of pointless talk. He talked to everybody, especially attractive women. Too much for her tastes. It was embarrassing sometimes. He behaved like he knew things he actually didn’t. She wondered what the older guy, sitting around the corner of the diner, thought about Trevor interrupting his meal.
“That’s interesting, George,” said Trevor. “What kind of scientist?”
“Physics,” said George, looking over the Times crossword puzzle. “I work with rare elements like uranium.”
Mitzy gazed at the gray-suited man, suddenly curious.
“Never heard of it,” said Trevor. “You know, I been meaning to talk with one of youse guys.”
“Yeah. Were you here when that War of the Worlds broadcast happened last year? The one with that Welles guy?”
“Yeah, sure. A lot of folks got upset about it,” said George, lighting a cigarette. “Stupid, if you ask me.”
Mitzy noticed Pete, the soda-jerk, casting furtive looks her way as he cleaned glasses in the sink. His eyes seemed too dark for an orange-haired kid. His attention disturbed her in a way she couldn’t explain. Mitzy’s flame red hair regularly gathered more admirers than she liked. She was used to it, sort of. She hoped a flinty-eyed look at the kid would give him a hint, but Pete’s black eyes were merciless.
Trevor sat his Fedora down and ran his fingers through his hair. He continued interrogating George. “But they said it was really convincing. Just like a real news program.”
“They also said several times it was fictional,” countered George.
“You know what else I heard? They said the government was just passing it off like it was fake, but it still happened.”
George scowled and pushed his glasses up. “Poppycock! It couldn’t happen anyway. In the story, the aliens died because they had no defense against the germs. That’s why it would never happen. Aliens can’t survive here.”
“Oh I hate the Germans. Causing a ruckus and all,” offered Pete. He grinned sidelong at Mitzy.
Mitzy gave him a warning eyebrow.
“Forget Hitler and his German Nazis.” Trevor waved the notion away. “He’s Europe’s problem. Anyways, George means germs. Those little things that make folks sick. So, this guy tells me the alien invasion failed, but they didn’t all die. Instead they figured out how to combine their genes with ours.”
“So they wear Levis now?” asked Pete.
“No, not jeans. Little things again but these are good ones. Anyways, the aliens mixed genes with us and are walking among us, looking like us, but they ain’t US!”
There he goes. Talking too much again. Where did he get this?
Mitzy squeezed Trevor’s arm. “Sweetie?”
George leaned forward and stubbed his cigarette out. “I’ll give you credit for knowing about genes, Mr. Smith. Only a few scientists are working on that, but I think you’ve been reading ‘Astounding Science Fiction’ too much. THAT is nothing but a load of hooey!”
“Sweetie,” insisted Mitzy, pulling on his arm. She tried to ignore the feel of Pete’s gaze wandering over her. “I’m tired. I wanna go.”
“Okay, doll.” Trevor patted her hand. He tipped his hat to George and Pete and escorted Mitzy outside.
As they walked back to the car, a brand new 1939 Packard, Mitzy said, “Trev, you gotta stop talking about that stuff. It bothers people.”
“What stuff?” said Trevor. His wingtip shoes clacked loudly in the alleyway.
“Like about the aliens combining DNA. People might think that’s real or something.”
“It is real! This guy told me about it. And what’s ‘DNA’ anyways?”
Mitzy stopped Trevor and looked him hard in the eye. “Really? You know a guy who knows about it?”
“Yeah. He’s kinda a looney but he knows a lot. Always usin’ his noggin.”
Mitzy turned and led him further into the alley. As they walked, a thorny protuberance slipped out of its sheath at the base of her skull. It snaked through her red hair, down her back, twisting and turning like a malevolent vine. Trevor couldn’t see it curling behind his shoulder as he prattled on. In one swift motion, the thorn speared into the soft tissue at the base of his skull, narrowly avoiding his spine before it sliced up to his medulla oblongata. Trevor fell limp, twitching slightly in seizure as Mitzy’s alien appendage held him aloft. Fine tendrils erupted from the tip and wormed through the tissues of his brain, searching.
“Sorry to break up like this,” soothed Mitzy. “But I need to know what you’ve learned about us.”
She sighed, thinking about the superior brain of George the scientist. He’d possess better genetic material. She smiled wanly at Trevor. “It wasn’t going to work out anyway.”
The War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles (at a time when folks got ALL information via radio) caused a real panic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio_drama)
Astounding Scientific Fiction and Fact magazine later became Analog Magazine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_Science_Fiction_and_Fact
Though scientists attempted to understand genetics for many years, DNA wasn’t truly pinned down until 1952: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA#History_of_DNA_research
Look here for more stories answering the challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/find-a-muse-in-the-masters/
Find a Muse in the Masters