NINETY-SIX, 2.0

We gave it everything. I even killed one of the Gennies, but you probably won’t believe me. That’s why I’m putting this down now, in case you don’t want to believe. Or maybe I’m just trying to remind myself.

No one can take the truth away from us. But they’ll try, oh yes, they always do. First, like a disease that’s taken over, they pretend it never happened. They downplay the fact that the Gennies ever came to earth. Headlines across all newspapers, and chyrons scanning at the bottom of nightly news programs, will tell about massive devastation from natural disasters, and occasional bombings that stress international peace laws.

Higher-ups give interviews, and aggressive pundits argue about these same attacks, but will never talk as though the Gennies never existed. As though we can forget the first arrivals, the masses of creatures that began to roam our planet, countries, cities, neighborhoods. But you should not forget them.

I never did.

Forgetting would mean denying their existence entirely, and that would be a slap in the face of time, a break of general reality. And truth. But because of the denials, and the lies, our children probably won’t even know who the Gennies were. And kids are just as confused about the Battle on the Sands.

That’s indicative of something else that “they” do to take away our memories, our appreciations of the past. They confuse us, and push back on what we’ve already done as though the trends of war were mistakes made by befuddled soldiers who were trigger happy and wanted souvenirs.

The Gennies weren’t superior to us, they just fought better, and thought better, and, frankly, acknowledged us. That’s all it takes, really. Look at your foe, direct your anger and your weapons when you have them in your sights, and fire. That’s it, that’s the nasty truth that they’re trying to hide from you, that we killed some of them because they killed a lot of us.

But we gave it all we had, and that’s my point, I think. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.

The Sahara desert is a desolate chunk of land that’s hot, dry, and useless. My sisters imagine it as a place with lizards and cacti and a hell of a nice view. But what they don’t see, because truth is often hidden from you, like bones in a sand storm, is that the Sahara is where the Gennies lived.

Some of them are still be there, I promise you. It’s the place they grew up after they landed, and before the violence started. It took years for us to figure out what they were, why they were here. I don’t think we’ll ever truly figure it out, to be honest. There’s just too many questions that will remain if we keep fighting the way we have been.

I play the initial video for my nephews often, the one of the Gennies who were first to reveal themselves.  It’s a dark video, and my kids are skeptical about how real it is. But it was the beginning, and soon after that video came the invasion as the Gennies swarmed the Ivory Coast, sparsely positioned, but still threatening.

They brought a fury with them, a sandstorm with particles off their ships, as a gift. It came as a storm, a cloud of dust and destruction that left 10,000 dead and hundreds injured. The decades of ill-health afterward were staggering, too much to bear for many. But that “attack” lead to millions of dollars, perhaps billions, spent on research towards new breathing apparatuses, weather resistant clothing and gear. We created more after that first battle than the ten years prior.

Factories started up again, citizens motivated to take part in the war efforts. The nightly news featured story after story of small victories — Gennies blown to bits, heroes in action, regular average citizens putting forth the effort to stay safe, stay alive.

For me, that meant signing up again with the Army. I’m older than most cadets, but after I showed them my skills with an M-4 and bow-and-arrow, no one questioned if I should be there, only the why. But the beauty of it was, you could say whatever you wanted, whatever reason you could think of for being there was loudly accepted.

One woman had told the recruiters that her father died in the Sahara Battles, which was a lie since her father had brought her to the camp himself. Grayson, my closest-in-age fellow recruit, complained he had nowhere to live, and no one to live for, but secretly showed me pictures of his kids. The paychecks were phenomenal.

After two years of training in the new gear, with fresh weapons and uniforms, we were ready. So they said. The battles we faced were tough and few and far between, and only I managed to kill a Genny, at first proud, then, eventually, frightened.

They’re not too difficult to spot, when they actually come out in the open. They walk on two legs, like us.But they have four arms instead of two, and five fingers on each hand, or what you  might call a hand. And maybe they’re not fingers, more like tentacles, spread out and six or eight inches long apiece. Their eyes are eerie, located on the sides of their narrow heads.

One night, before I killed the Genny, I was on watch when a pair of them walked right through camp. My memory of that night is sketchy, but Grayson swears it’s all true. Their footsteps sound wet and sludgy, as though they’re always walking through mud. Grayson was across the dusty path through the camp’s trailers. When the first Genny passed, I watched Grayson raise his rifle, aiming steadily in the darkness.

Then he lowered it.

Strange, I thought. And just as I was about to whisper, catch his attention, three more Gennies stepped  between us. They stopped, looking left and right — at us — then continued onward. As their ten-foot-tall bodies lumbered down the street, I felt a sense of calm.

Next thing I know, I’m being dragged by the back of my shirt to an empty, windowless room, my Sergeant pulling me along, carrying my rifle in his other hand. “Every damn on of ya, always hesitating when they come by. Just pull the damn trigger!!”

The next day, an explosion rocked the trailer, knocking it sideways, placing the door where the ceiling had been. So I climbed out, and watched as the Gennies grew in size, devouring the trailers whole. It was an awful sight, and one that taught me that, yes, all the rumors and stories about the Gennies were true.

I grabbed my rifle and shot one of them. It was still very large, but I’m a decent shot — it’s why the Army brought me back. Once it was hit, the beast shrunk in size until it was about ten feet long again. By then, his partners in crime had run into the desert. They’re not afraid to “leave a man behind”, but that’s the difference between them and us.

When I finally reached the Genny, Grayson was also limping over, bleeding. He said we should look for the squad, which had taken cover and may still be alive, but I wanted to touch the Genny. This Genny was still breathing, and I didn’t see any harm in it.

Seconds later, Grayson cut off my hand for me. It had started sprouting tiny arms and hands of its own after touching the Genny, within seconds, and I started to understand the root of the name we’d given their species.

It’s amazing what the government decides not to tell us, about aliens, about genetics, and about particles from space. They don’t even admit what the “ship” really was, or when it crashed here, how it was dug up, etc.

But meteorites are usually seen as hokey collector’s items these days. And I’d buy one, too, if they weren’t illegal.

I digress, where was I?

Oh, yeah, the Sahara. So, the equipment works and I could traverse the dunes for days without replenishing my food supply. In terms of being prepared, we’re in good shape, as long as people stop with their conspiracy theories about the war and the aliens and such nonsense.

I mean, couldn’t they come up with a better name than “Gennies”? Nonsense, all of it.

Why would the government lie? It’s like these people will stop at nothing to push back on the truth.

They always do.

 

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