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The girl stands in a cornfield with the tall stalks covering her head from strangers’ eyes on the freeway above her. The sky must be rather enticing because she seems to be incapable of dragging her eyes from it. But this is not only her story as much as it is her and her brother’s, unfortunately he’s dead now, so you’ll just have to hear what happens from now on from me.
“He never spoke,” that’s the first thing she’ll tell you if you ask about her brother. “He watched me, he watched all of us. That’s how he knew so much about us. He knew everything about everybody and nobody knew anything about him.” But she doesn’t talk anymore, so she can’t really tell you.
I think that, in some way he knew he was going to die that day. No one else did. Just him, kind of like how he knew she likes to sit on the ladder that is permanently leaning against the house. Or how their mother likes the way rain looks when all you could see of it is the shadows it leaves on the walls. Their father named her after his sister, who died when he was three. She had drowned. He liked fire, the boy, not the father. And vultures were his favorite animal.
He followed her places. It was strange, but she liked to know he was there because he knew so much. She thought he was indestructible. “Take it,” he had whispered as he died. Two words. The only two words she had ever heard him say. It was strange. His voice was like that of an old man who had smoked too much. She has never spoken since.
She wouldn’t be in the cornfield right now if he hadn’t whispered. But she is there and she will have to live with his decision. Why he thought she could hold his burden is destined to remain a mystery for all time because everyone else will die within the hour. Within ten minutes, actually.
He wanted her to die, though. He wanted to make sure she would not be there when everyone else died. He didn’t know if she would survive even if he demanded that she do so. He trusted her. He wanted her to stay with him. She knew him better than anyone ever had, even though she didn’t even know his name, Tyler was his earth name, but they had named him too, they had given him a name I dare not give away now.
There are only eight minutes left on earth, so I suppose I must hurry and finish my story.
He had never really died and she will never really die; they had just taken his soul and put it in a new body so he could live among his own kind. They would do the same thing with her.
There is something flashing in the distance and she realizes it’s night.
It gets closer and the lights stop flashing.
The driver of a passing car turns his head and sees a haze like that produced by heat.
But she sees it for what it really is; a ship. It looks surprisingly like a jet.
She isn’t afraid. Her brother told her they were coming for her.
No one knows she’s here but her and the dead.
She steps on to the ship.