Updated: Jan 31, 2022
The sun was setting yet again as Bryan Glantz drove his dirty Dodge pickup out of the parking lot of DNC L.L.C., the factory he worked at. His unbuttoned blue foreman shirt, stained with grease, laid on the empty passenger’s seat next to him, covering up his Ruger pistol and holster. Having had a concealed weapons permit for years, Bryan carried the gun with him “Just in case”.
He glanced up at the sky through his windshield, the once-bright sun now beginning to sink into the depths of the approaching cloudy darkness. The familiar crushing loneliness began to emerge from within his chest. Not another damn Friday night alone, he thought as he drove out of the factory lot.
Bryan picked up his cellphone from the center console in his truck and scrolled to his recent calls, settling on Diane Brewer. The ringing started as Bryan tapped on the speakerphone. One ring, two rings, three rings…
Two more rings, and then Diane’s voice: “Hi you’ve reached Diane’s phone! I’m not free right now but if you can leave a message I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”
Bryan’s face sunk as he gripped the steering wheel. It had been at least three or four weeks since he was able to speak to Diane. He’d left dozens of messages lately, and there hadn’t been a single call back. Last time they spoke on the phone, she thanked him for the nice date they had the weekend prior, but she was going to be really busy with work and wouldn’t be able to see him again soon. She still hadn’t told him which bar she worked at, a detail she seemed to keep under lock and key. Online dating, or dating in general, was not something that came easy for Bryan, as this was roughly his umpteenth attempt at finding a partner throughout the past decade.
Driving slightly under the speed limit, Bryan slowed his truck to a roll at the stoplight just before the last stretch of road leading to home. At the corner to his right stood a familiar sight: the brightly lit brick building with a large yellow sign reading “PJ’S LIQUOR STORE”. Bryan thought about his options. If he kept driving when the light turned green, he’d eventually end up on the one lane road leading to his empty, quiet home. On the other hand…
The yellow glow of PJ’s beckoned from the corner of his eyes. When the light turned green, Bryan flicked on the right turn signal, the blinking orange light reflecting against his weary eyes.
* * *
Bryan pulled into his driveway, the dark sky above his home shrouding him in shadows. He opened the driver’s side door, and looked up at the moon peeking from behind a pocket of clouds. It cast a glow on the glass bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag, which Bryan had tucked under his arm. His other arm carried the Ruger pistol, wrapped up in his work shirt.
As Bryan walked up to his front door, keys dangling from his fingers, he noticed a thick piece of paper sticking out of the crack between the door and the frame. Bryan eyed the paper curiously, snatched it and held it up to his face, then rolled his eyes. It was yet another advertisement for Bethel Baptist Church, which happened to have been built directly across the street from his house years ago. Just because we’re neighbors doesn’t mean you can stick your damn papers in my door, he grumbled to himself. He turned around, and looked across the street at the giant silver dome-shaped roof of Bethel Baptist Church, and threw the pamphlet in the air. The wind swept it into the street, fluttering in the direction of the church. Keep your damn papers. He then stuck his keys in the front door and made his way inside.
* * *
The clock above Bryan’s television set glowed 9:32 PM in bright red digits. Bryan sat reclined in his La-Z-Boy chair, cradling a tall can of Miller Light, some of which he had already spilled onto his stretched-out white t-shirt, which didn’t quite fit over his round gut. His television blared, at a high enough volume to fill every square inch of the house.
“Reptilian shapeshifters are a real thing and among us. From the bowels of Hollywood, these reptile aliens have been known to disguise themselves as famous humans, and when interviewed will give cryptic messages indicating their global takeover,” said the voice of a serious-sounding man, juxtaposed over a montage of images of various famous people, their faces appearing distorted and misshapen.
Bryan stared at the screen, his eyes glazed. He moved his right leg over and knocked over a stack of empty Miller Light cans, which spilled the remaining contents on the floor, next to his crumpled work shirt and empty glass bottle of Sailor Jerry. Bryan slowly glanced down, looking at the mess of cans, pizza boxes, and crumbs. Fuck it, he thought. No one here to impress now anyways.
As if this thought was heard, a loud pounding sounded at the front door. Bryan sighed, figuring it must be the neighbors telling him to turn the TV down again. Bryan growled and pulled the lever to put his chair back in the upright position, and turned the volume down with his remote in the other hand. He sluggishly got up from his chair, stood and wobbled toward the front door. Just then, the pounding was heard at his front door again.
“Alright, hold your damn horses!” he bellowed, stumbling up to the door and grabbing the handle. He turned it and yanked the door open.
A clean-shaven man in a stylish black suit stood smiling beyond the front door, holding a black briefcase with his right arm.
“Hello sir!” the smiling man said, staring at Bryan, who was raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah, what the hell are you doing at my door?” said Bryan, scratching his stomach.
The smiling man paused, staring at Bryan.
“I’m here to tell you a bit about Bethel Baptist Church. I think you might be interested to hear what I have to say!” said the man. Bryan let out a grunt and reached out to shut the front door, when he hesitated. Not another damn Friday night alone... The man looked friendly enough, and Bryan was ready to have some company. Even if his house wasn’t.
“Please come in,” said Bryan. “Pardon the mess. I uh, had my nephews over and they forgot to clean up.” The man, still smiling and gripping the briefcase like an accessory, stepped into Bryan’s house.
“Oh, how lovely! Nephews. What are their names?” said the man. Bryan half-stumbled back over to his living room chair, reaching over to pick up the pizza box and beer cans.
“Oh uhm, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.” said Bryan, quickly making his way over to the kitchen to get rid of his mess. He glanced over at the man now standing in his living room and told him to have a seat on his sofa.
“Boy, I would love to!” said the man. He smiled and looked at Bryan, paused, then slowly sat down on the couch. The man continued to stare at Bryan as he finished throwing his cans into the kitchen trash can.
“So, have any family, Bryan?” the man asked, opening the briefcase over his lap. Bryan’s ears perked up. Did I introduce myself already…?
The man pulled out some thick papers, which had a dark grey, almost metallic look to them. Bryan wobbled over to his La-Z-Boy chair and sat opposite to the man.
“What’s your name anyways?” said Bryan. The man smiled, producing more of the same papers from his folder.
“You can call me Pastor Robert. Or, less formally, Pastor Rob!” he said, his voice loud and overly cheerful.
Bryan pulled down his shirt to hide his gut, then laid his hands over his stomach.
“So, you’re here to tell me about your church, right?” said Bryan. The smiling Pastor Rob gathered his documents together, shifting them around, looking at Bryan.
“Why yes! So I’m sure you’re aware of where Bethel Baptist Church is located, correct?” said Pastor Rob. Bryan scrunched his face, staring at the man, then looked at the window to their right, out of which the large domed roof of Bethel Baptist Church could clearly be seen.
“I’d be a damned fool if I didn’t notice your building right outside my front door the past five years,” said Bryan, only half-joking. Pastor Rob simply sat still looking at Bryan for a brief moment, then spoke.
“So since you’re aware of our location, I’ll state my purpose. I’m here to recruit you, as part of our ministry. We’re aware of you, Bryan.”
Shaking his head, Bryan was starting to sober up, but hardly. He asked the man how he knew what his name was, and that he didn’t recall mentioning it. Pastor Rob just sat on the sofa, smiling, his bleach white teeth showing.
“Like I just mentioned to you, we’re aware of you, Bryan.”
Bryan’s eyes opened wide, and he stared at Pastor Rob from across the room. Could this be...?
“We know that you live alone. We know that you don’t have any family, or friends,” said Pastor Rob, his tone cheerful but devoid of emotion. Bryan tensed up and gripped the sides of his chair.
“What the hell are you talking about, you don’t know shit about me!” Bryan said, getting up from his La-Z-Boy. He was starting to feel angry, embarrassed. Pastor Rob continued to sit and smile, shuffling and folding over the grey papers into a round tube shape.
“It’s no use Bryan. We know that you know about us. And soon you’ll join us,” Pastor Rob said, his tone unchanging. He twisted the grey tube in his hands, which made a clicking sound. Strange symbols adorning the sides of the tube started to glow, illuminating green lights on the walls of the living room.
Bryan stared wide-eyed at the device in the man’s hand, then down at his work shirt, on the floor next to the La-Z-Boy. Pastor Rob continued smiling, his face devoid of any other sort of emotion, and stood up from the sofa, inching his way over to Bryan.
Sweating profusely now, Bryan heaved his drunk self down to the ground, rolled over, grabbed his pistol from underneath the shirt, and took the safety off.
“Alright you weird sonofabitch, get the hell out of my house,” Bryan threatened, standing and pointing his gun straight at Pastor Rob. Finally, the smile vanished from the man’s face, which turned into a wide-eyed open mouth grin. An unearthly sound came growling out between Pastor Rob’s lips, his eyes emanating bright blue lights. “Resistance is useless, you will join us!” the man’s voice howled, a sound which caused Bryan’s ears to ring.
Bryan, confused and bewildered, let out a yell and began firing his pistol at the intruder, which caused it to shriek and leap across the living room like a grasshopper. Bryan fell back to the floor at the sight of this.
With all the strength and courage he could manage in his drunken stupor, Bryan got back up, pistol in hand, and started to chase this, thing, out of his living room.
“Get the fuck out of here, E.T.!” Bryan screamed, firing his pistol once more, causing the crazed blue-eye being to leap and bust through the front door, almost knocking it right off its hinges. Bryan lunged over to the front door, suddenly heaving and losing a good amount of his earlier pizza and beer, which dripped over his shoes and front porch. Wiping his chin, Bryan glanced up just in time to see the blue-eyed creature leaping across the street, heading right over to where Bethel Baptist Church’s large dome-shaped room stood.
“Hey! Get away from that church!” yelled Bryan, half-running, half-stumbling across the road, breathing hard. What in the X-Files shit…
The blue-eyed creature stood, grinning at Bryan, at the side of the church right in front of a large stained-glass window. The creature’s teeth were now long, jagged fangs which seemed too big for its mouth, and its black suit was tattered, revealing scaly green skin. It opened its mouth wide again, letting out an ungodly shriek, which filled Bryan with unshakeable fear. Bryan fired two more rounds from his pistol, which the creature dodged lightning-fast. The bullets hit the stained-glass window, shattering it into a thousand pieces.
“Please, just get away from the church!” Bryan pleaded with the thing, unsure of what he would do if he ran out of ammo.
“Don’t worry Bryan, we’ll be back for you,” the creature spewed out, its words like acid. The creature’s knees suddenly jerked backward, tearing the black dress pants with a loud rip, and before Bryan could blink, the creature leapt high into the air, toward the round dome of the church roof, which was now appearing to spin at a slow pace, blue lights pulsating from the windows.
The roof continued spinning as Bryan fell backwards on the church grass, staring up at the roof in awe, inching back, pistol in hand. Oh my God…
The domed roof continued spinning faster and faster, and as Bryan’s eyes adjusted, he could see that in the windows of the spinning roof, were dozens of other glowing blue eyes.
The spinning dome continued to spin, faster and faster each second. Even though he was dizzy and on the verge of vomiting again, Bryan couldn’t look away as the rotating silver dome lifted off the top of the church and rose up into the sky, scaling higher each time that Bryan blinked his eyes.
Out of sheer terror, he stood and fired his pistol up in the air a few more times, a couple rounds striking the side of the church building instead. The pistol clicked empty and Bryan dropped back down to his knees. He could only look up at the spinning, glowing dome which at that moment pulsated and took off, shooting up into the stratosphere like a flash of lightning. And then it was gone.
* * *
Moments later, Bryan lied on the grass in front of the church building, his white t-shirt sweated completed through, his clothing torn and covered with dirt and grass stains, pistol still stuck firmly hand. Red and blue lights flashed behind him, but he was too much in shock with what just happened to notice the four police officers, guns blazing, running up to Bryan, yelling and shouting at him not to move, and that he had the right to remain silent.
* * *
Bryan, now handcuffed, sat in the back of a police car, the front of his shirt and shoes caked with vomit. Outside the car, various officers, investigators, and a trio of reporters all talked amongst themselves, trying to make sense of the situation in a flurry of noise and confusion.
Bryan stared, bewildered, out the window of the police car into the approaching morning sky. All he could manage to do in that moment was mutter to himself:
“Aliens… In the spaceship church… I took care of it.”