At first we started it as a joke. A group of “spies”. What were we going to do? Foil a conspiracy to overthrow the President? Find out that Mitch‘s wife was cheating on him? Discover the underground movement to free the most wanted criminals?
It was a joke. And as a joke we worked. On our free time, all the time I mean. We worked to pretend that our lives weren‘t useless, that they weren‘t over when we turned seventy, that we didn‘t depend on the government to live our lives decently.
We investigated strange happenings in our area. Sightings of unusual objects, house hauntings, strange odor sources, people who were deemed suspicious by other equally useless old people in the neighborhood and quite a few other nonsensical things we thought worthy. Following people was our favorite part, we followed them during the night and watched them from afar. We hid behind parked cars and we hoped for the bizarre. The night made it more exciting. Most of us have trouble seeing in the night are half deaf — completely deaf in the case of Ronny — and this offered an usual challenge. Driving through dark alleys, zooming past street lights as their green and amber colors reflected on our spectacles. Hiding behind industrial trash containers to get a glimpse of the often ordinary activities of our pursued.
That was until the night of September 14, 2031.
Ben came into the room breathing heavily. His skin was pale and sweat trickled down the sides of his face, his eyes as blue as the midnight moon, his right hand clutching the spot in his chest where his heart resided.
”Jim, come quick! Quick before I pass out!”
I tried to sit him down, I tried to dissuade him from telling me his story right there in that moment with his hand above his heart.
”This is bigger than us. Charles is not who he says he is. Not him, not his whole family. He‘s part of a network of agents that keeps surveillance on the people. Our people Jim!”
His voice turned rough and his breathing difficult.
”He‘s not human! There‘s a whole bunch of ’em, I saw them! I managed to avoid detection.”
He paused to catch his breath but I could see desperation in his eyes.
”You must warn the others, warn everyone!”
Ben coughed a few times and grabbed my shirt hard enough to pull me down.
”You must!”, he looked me in the eyes and I saw see him try to formulate another sentence, a sentence that wanted to be heard but that was never spoken. I watched him fade away and felt his hand loosen its grip on my shirt. He tumbled to the floor.
”Ben!”, I screamed an elderly bawl and hurried to the phone to call the emergency line but was surprised to find the phone dead, its tone absent, its purpose lost.
I stood helpless beside the phone. Like an idiot with his friend dead at his feet. Ben‘s last words resonated in my mind as my useless frail body consumed valuable time. Time I could have spent on CPR or reaching for my cell phone. But just when I had decided to take action, a knock echoed through my living room. I moved with the caution of a one eyed dog to the entrance and with a quiver in my voice said ”Who‘s that?”
There was silence. I looked through the peephole on my door and saw something. At first I was confused, I didn’t know what it was. A yellow pebble, green scales, a slit pupil. A reptilian eye tried to focus on me from the other side.
”It‘s the paramedics sir. You called about an emergency”.
And then I knew what Ben had seen.