After all that had happened, she was entitled to a little crazy—but claiming to be abducted by aliens?
Allison walked into the kitchen, completely nude, and showed him the dark round mark on her hip where the little green men had inserted their probe.
Flynn put down his coffee and studied the mark, a purplish bruise the approximate size of a thumb. Little green men, she said. Massive foreheads, triangular faces, just like on TV and in all those cheesy tabloids. They had snatched her from the office parking lot and transported her to their mothership on a beam of light.
Flynn covered the bruise with his palm, the heat of her bare skin warming his cold hand.
“Little green men?”
“When they first enter you, it hurts,” she said. “But then suddenly it’s wonderful.”
“A certain level of trauma is to be expected,” the doctor said. “Did you know the family well? ”
“We’d talk in the yard sometimes, or on Back to School nights. Their son is…excuse me, was …a grade behind our daughter.”
“Such brutality is hard to fathom …”
Flynn finished his coffee and browsed the job postings, but no luck. He’d been out of work for almost a year. At least Allison made a sustainable wage, but Flynn felt increasingly useless. Obsolete. He ran errands, cleaned the house, spent hours at the library reading books on building Zen gardens and creating the perfect pastry. The humiliation of being jobless, he handled it well, mostly, always turning up the radio volume whenever he’d sit behind the wheel of his Nissan and cry.
She was late again, hadn’t called, her white blouse rumpled and untucked as she entered the kitchen.
“They’re not here to colonize us,” she said. “But they’re not here to save us, either.”
“Little green men?”
“They feel sorry for us. They’ve been everywhere, but no other planet hurts like we do.”
Flynn never told the doctor what the police had shared. There were fingerprints on their back doorknob, crowbar scrapes against the door jamb. Evidence of an attempted forced entry.
“For some reason, he gave up and went next door,” the detective said. “You’re a very lucky family.”
Katie was on three different medications for anxiety and attention. A ten-year old girl shouldn’t be on pills, Flynn thought, but the doctor assured them it was temporary, and necessary. Like her nightmares.
Processing, the doctor called it.
Three nights out of five she came home late.
“Aren’t they finished yet…with their probing?”
“They don’t speak, but I hear them in my head. They’re experimenting …”
“The little green men?”
“They’ve become very gentle. I don’t even feel them undressing me anymore. The exam table is warm, and the probe…I’m not sure how to describe it. Velvet, maybe?”
“And they’re waiting for you in the parking lot every night?”
“Don’t give me that look… I’m not the only one they’ve ever abducted. Do the research!”
“There’s a beam of light …a flying saucer in an office parking lot, little green men, and no one sees it but you …?”
“Fuck you,” Allison said.
Flynn knew one of the cops from Katie’s softball team.
“The bastard skinned them alive, even the kids. For something like that to happen next door … do you guys ever sleep anymore?”
He’d already seen the hotel room charges on their Visa bill. Apparently the little green men preferred the Marriott on Route 10.
“People react in different ways,” the doctor said. “It’s best not to judge.”
He’d been watching from the driveway the day Crime Scene Clean-Up arrived, surprised that their Hazmat suits were a dark, dull green. They turned on every light in the house and forgot to shut them off. At night the house shimmered and glowed.
Two hundred resumes submitted, not a single response. A milestone, he thought, and drove to the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions. That morning Flynn checked the bedroom mirror, and for a moment there was no reflection, only a floating field of green from the curtains behind him.
“Daddy, I heard something.”
“Go back to sleep, Katie. It’s just a nightmare.”
“Daddy, how can it be a nightmare if I’m still awake?”
Allison had never been shy, the bite mark on her chest visible as she exited the shower.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore. They know what they’re doing.”
“The little green men.”
She turned her back as she slipped into her nightgown. “It’s not personal, Flynn. I’m just a body to them. We both know that some things are much worse.”
He browsed the different websites on alien abduction. Allison was right—the little green men were everywhere, from cornfields to backyards to Walmart parking lots, yet the skeptics insisted it was all just a hoax. A common element among those who’ve been abducted, wrote a professor from NYU, is a strong desire to escape.
He heard his daughter screaming, and rushed upstairs. Allison was already at her bedside, stroking Katie’s hair. “Did you check the windows and the alarm?”
Katie clutched her mother’s side, her face buried in the swell of Allison’s breasts.
“Check them again,” his wife said.
According to the news, the killer had no motive, just voices in his head and a fondness for knives.
The websites agreed: eventually the abductions stop—the little green men return home, and the abductee resumes to her normal life. Consider the visitations one phase in the long arc of a life, one expert wrote. Flynn stared at the screen as Allison climbed into bed, the ghost of his face superimposed over the images of the little green men as he struggled to understand.
“Unfortunately, there is no timetable for healing,” the doctor said.
He lay in bed, wondering what the neighbors had seen in those final moments. Had they seen the knife, or the killer’s face, or perhaps, in the dark, only the unexpected arrival of something vast, menacing, and green?