The Visitors

"The hardest are the children," she whispered, her eyes fluttering nervously around the room as if they could crack open her head like an eggshell and watch her thoughts as they popped into her mind. "They ask so many questions, and the Visitors hate questions."

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1. The Visitors

 

It was the nobodies who got it first, they say. You know - the orphans, the homeless, the elderly, all the people that society mocked and ridiculed and wouldn't be missed if they happened to disappear one night out of the blue. It was big for a while - journalists and news anchors had a field day reporting the sudden disappearance of the American populace - but it soon faded from the limelight to be replaced by something brighter and more interesting, just like everything inevitably is. People were noticing the odd street-rat and pensioner going missing, but without some sort of authority telling them it was relevant nobody really bothered to do anything. Oh, if only somebody had turned tail on their herd mentality and said something back when things were still delicate and uncertain! 

 

Next, they came for the troublemakers. Prisons began emptying, problem students disappearing, entire gangs vanishing overnight - and everyone was glad for it. They were glad that the streets were 'safe' to walk again and glad that it wasn't them, that they were too pure and righteous to be purged from the great country of America. This time, though, the aftermath was astounding. Websites, forums, cults and conspirators sprang to life like clockwork toys that had been wound up and left to play, chattering almost reverently about this mysterious force clearing out the despised and unwanted. People wondered where they had taken everyone, what they'd done with the bodies - after all, it's simple physics; matter cannot just be destroyed with the snap of somebody's fingers. It must manifest into something, but that was a question nobody really wanted an answer to. Nobody wanted to know why some invisible, omnipotent force needed so many lives and what it would do with them once it was satisfied. 

 

People said a lot of things about the disappearances, but nobody denied that living conditions began to improve. Say what you will about it but fear is a rather large motivator, and crime rates plummeted faster than anyone could have anticipated in the following months. Since humans have a strange, compulsive need to blame their problems on someone other than themselves, they began to call whatever had been abducting people the 'Visitors', splashing theories and misinformation across the Internet like their lives depended on it. Still, nobody did anything about it, and everyone refused to acknowledge the fact that something was wrong. 

 

The Visitors seemed to have a twisted sense of morals and maybe an even more crooked sense of humour, however, as they began abducting people who seemed perfectly ordinary next. Businessmen, parents, teachers, grandfathers, brothers and sons all vanished in a matter of days, and that was when the public decided to get angry about it. Suddenly, now that they were taking people society deemed acceptable, the Visitors weren't so harmless and chaotic-good anymore. People took to the streets, protesting to anyone who would listen about how 'it had gotten out of hand' and that 'they wanted everyone returned home, safely and immediately,'. It did seem a little hypocrytical, however, that there had been little to no public outcry when the so-called 'scum of society' had gone missing. However, one by one, each missing person was outed as having done something very dastardly indeed - cheaters, abusers, pedophiles, rapists and underground drug lords were just a few titles paraded around by the newspapers as the people of America decided they didn't want their loved ones back anymore. People began to finally accept that the Visitors would take whoever they liked despite what anyone had to say about it, and they definitely weren't going away any time soon.

 

Now, it's different. Only the old crones can remember how it used to be back when the Visitors were nothing but a fanatical idea, and by old obviously I mean still young enough to work and be a good, productive member of society like the rest of us. Parents drum rules into their kids and remind them to toe the line more often than they say, 'I love you', teaching them about the Visitors and the consequences of misbehaving. Everything is controlled and superficially peaceful without the Government even having to monitor a thing, for the ever-watchful gaze of the Visitors ensures nobody does anything wrong. If they do they will disappear in the blink of an eye, and everyone would carry on with their lives just thankful that it wasn't them. 

 

I like to think I'm different, see; a rugged hero of sorts, like the kind I used to read about in story books before my mother burnt them in a trash can one night with an odd smile on her face. Rationally, I know there is nothing remarkable about me at all - after all, there are thousands, maybe millions stuck here, just like me - but daydreaming is one of the only things I can do to pass the time. 

 

You see, I know what it's like to Leave. I was taken over something so silly, in retrospect - graffiti, it might have been, or arson - but either way, the Visitors came to me while I was sleeping and took me away in the night, so carefully and quietly that nobody would have ever been able to stop them. They told me to close my eyes while we Left in those voices that sounded like a million other things I couldn't quite remember, like sand against stone and glass bubbling against fire and wind tearing through hair, but I got scared at the very last moment and opened my eyes, just a little, to catch a glimpse of my kidnappers. Once I saw their faces, however, I was terrified they'd punish me, but they just smiled in that unusual manner so different to ours and told me that I shouldn't be afraid since I was safe from the real monsters now. 

 

The Visitors tell us a lot how we're all special, burning brighter than the monsters back home ever will, and we all just listen like the foolish sheep we are. I can never decide if the Visitors are demons or just very twisted angels, but either way they tell us so confidently that they'll purge the world of everyone eventually and even if I wanted to stop them and save the last remaining hope we have, I know nobody ever could.

 

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