Joshua sat on the ridge of ground, hidden behind some green foliage, hugged his rifle to his body and watched the view before him.
The ridge he had chosen was one of the lower slopes of the hills that overlooked his parents’ farm. He had been returning home, after the fall of Alleyn Vale, but he had stopped there. For the few moments he’d been sat there he’d seen no movement in the farmhouse. All the transport vehicles, including his land-skimmer, were still parked outside the farmhouse’s complex of buildings, but there was no sign of movement. None of the farming droids were hurrying around and the farmhouse itself seemed closed up and empty. Hopefully his parents had fled and left the farmhouse alone. Hopefully, he told himself, hopefully…
They had destroyed those first three Daleks, when they had landed in Rankin fields, weeks ago now. A mob of people, armed with every kind of weapon available to them, had turned upon those three Daleks and by sheer force of numbers and anger had destroyed them. When, days and days ago now, the full invasion force of Daleks landed on Karbala Minor they were not as easily stopped. Those Daleks had simply ploughed through all of the defences that were put up before them.
He was one of the large group of people who tried to defend Alleyn Vale. The Military had all been withdrawn to defend Millennium City, leaving them to their own devices. They had a long, quiet and nervous wait to finally face the Daleks. All of them defending the barricade, across Alleyn Vale’s main street, had been tense and agitated. People were walking back and forth; others were incessantly talking nonsense, while others repeatedly rushed off to urinate. He had gripped his gun tightly, aiming down the street, his body as tight as a piano wire, unmoving, behind the barricade.
When the Daleks finally swept into Alleyn Vale it was fast and unstoppable. With a rush of noise and movement one of the Daleks’ saucer ships landed at the head of the road. Everyone on the barricade had ducked for cover, as the rush of air pushed over the top of the barricade, the Daleks must have swept out of their ship then. When he pulled himself back up the barricade, only a few moments later, Joshua saw an army of Daleks bearing down upon them.
Suddenly the air around him was crackling with energy as the Daleks fired upon them, in a solid rain of energy bolts down upon the barricade.
In only a few moments both people, on either side of him, people he had only known for a matter of hours, were dead.
Then the whole barricade exploded.
One moment he was desperately firing at those Daleks; the next moment he was bodily thrown into the air by a deafening explosion, his body hit by pieces of metal and wood; then he was unconscious, a dark nothingness swallowing him up.
When he awoke, his body pressed down by a weight of what must have been left of the barricade, he seemed to be aching all over, a head throbbing, but no great pain anywhere else. Slowly and carefully, so as not to make any noise, he pulled himself through the rubble, dragging his body over dirt and wreckage. As his head cleared the wood and metal, he saw that it was dusk. The town was strangely quiet.
Once he was finally clear of the wreckage he was able to survey the destruction all around him. Buildings were burning, or had collapsed in upon themselves. The barricade had been completely destroyed, blown apart and then the remaining wreckage just swept aside. Everywhere he looked were bodies, those who had been defending the barricade with him, broken and discarded bodies. Some were burnt, some were crushed, some were broken, but all were simply lying there discarded. Quickly he stopped looking at them; he didn’t want to see anyone he really knew.
The town was eerily quiet; the only sounds that of the crackle and snapping from the burning buildings. Still being disorientated from being knocked unconscious it took him a long moment to realise that the town was so quiet because the Daleks had already left. They had swept through the town, destroying and killing all before them and then just swept out of the town. They were gone now, leaving only destruction behind.
For several hours he wandered through the ruins of Alleyn Vale looking for survivors. At first he had combed through the wreckage of the barricade but all he found were dead and broken bodies, no one living. When he moved on to searching the ruins of the town he was far less careful. He simply wandered the few streets, again and again, looking around himself for signs of survivors. He’d tried looking inside two buildings, but the fire he found inside the second building had pushed him back so after that he simply wandered through the streets.
Undercover of darkness he left Alleyn Vale, when his fatigue grew greater than his desire to find any survivors. He only managed to walk a few kilometres out of Alleyn Vale until fatigue sapped all of his energy. He spent the night sleeping at the back of a small barn, housing two harvesting droids, he had stumbled across.
The next day, shortly after dawn, he left the small barn and carried on walking home.
There were no signs of any Daleks, as he trudged through the countryside, but there were many over signs that the Daleks had been there already. He passed burnt or smouldering buildings, droids that had been melted and set into bizarre shaped, the remains of hurriedly built barricades and defences burnt and blown apart; and with them were so often dead and broken bodies. He saw no Daleks on his long walk; neither did he see any living humans.
He had lost the contents of his stomach, vomiting green and acid bile, into a narrow drainage ditch. Moments before, lying abandoned at the side of the road, he found the burnt and broken body of someone he knew from school. Alistair Moore was his name, they were not friends, but he remembered him all the same.
He reached his parents’ farm, shortly before midday, after cutting across country. Though tired and hungry he had still stopped on that ridge, overlooking the farm, and waited while he watched the farm.
When he left the farm, over a day ago, to defend Alleyn Vale, it had been after a very violent argument with his mother. She demanded that he stay at the farm, with her and his father, and wait for the Military to defeat the Daleks. His reply was to scream back that she was a coward and that it was everyone’s duty to fight the Daleks. He had stormed out of the building with two of his father’s guns – one of which he’d lost when the barricade was destroyed. Now, he felt reluctant to return to the farm. When she would hear of the destruction of Alleyn Vale she would only crow that he should have stayed at the farm, in the first place.
He had been waiting there a handful of minutes when he saw movement from the farm. He saw the building’s front door slowly swing open and three of his mother’s dogs rushed out into the yard, in front of the house. A long moment later they were followed by his mother, her hands dug deep into her trouser pockets – she was still wearing the same clothes she had worn the day before.
She stood on the building’s freshold, simply staring down the farm’s driveway, as the dogs ran around her legs.
Then, with a sudden spurt of movement, she seemed to cry out, then turned around and ran back into the building, tightly closing the door behind her. She left behind one of the dogs running around the yard in a very agitated state.
He glanced down the farm’s driveway; in the direction his mother had been staring – carefully keeping himself hidden behind the foliage. To his horror he easily saw what his mother had seen. A small column of Daleks was heading up the driveway. At the head of the column was a type of Dalek he’d never seen before. The bottom half of it was the same as the other Daleks but the top half of it was vastly different. The top half was just one, large weapon; a large and dirty gun turret, with a squat gun barrel pointing out of it. It sent a chill through him. It was the most chilling horror out of all the horrors he had seen in the previous days.
He heard the Daleks barking orders at the farm building. He couldn’t discern what they were saying, but he heard the harsh noise of their electronic voices.
Then, causing him to blink in a reflex action, the weapon Dalek opened fire on his home with a blinding flash of energy. As his eyelids opened he saw the destruction unleashed upon his home. The front of the building was destroyed, a burning mass replacing the neat structure it had been. Then the weapon Dalek fired another blinding flash of energy at the remainder of the building.
As he opened his eyes again, moments later, he saw that the weapon Dalek had blasted right through the building, destruction smashing most of his home into mere wreckage in only a few seconds. All that was left now of his large home was one wall on the east side and on the west side the recent extension that housed his mother’s new kitchen. A path of destruction had been cut right through the building, north to south, levelling the housing from front to back.
As the Daleks retreated back up the driveway a fireball exploded in the heart of what was left of his home, rapidly setting light to the remaining wreckage. The Daleks paid no heed and simply glided away.
He sat there, on that ridge, for long uncounted hours until fire in the wreckage died. At no point did he see any movement from the wreckage. He did not see his mother pushing his father out of the wreckage nor his mother alone climbing out of the wreckage, no one left the wreckage. No one was left alive.
He sat there, misery and horror paralysing his every muscle, a burning cramp in all his made him start to stand up. Instead, he fell over sideways on the ground, letting go of his gun. Lying there, on the dry ground, he started to weep with grief and frustration…
Story © 2005 Drew Payne.
Layout © 2005 Visagraph Films International.
Thanks to Andrew Panero for the editing on the story.