No Parking. Anytime
Copyright © 2016 Val Day-Sanchez
All rights reserved.
Josué pushes down on the gas, careful not to exceed fifteen miles per hour. There is a convergence of slow paced vehicles maneuvering throughout the parking lot. A few feet outside our Pontiac Sunfire there are hunters on foot, walking their dogs, faces fully engrossed in their phones.
"What did you get? What did you get?" Josué whispers under his breath. Our eyes alter between the patterns of the cars and the map.
"It's gotta be right here."
"Let's just get out."
"No. Parking. Anytime." Nina informs us dryly from the backseat. Her amount of disinterest is only matched with our obsession.
"What! He's battling me."
"Hurry up, we're going to lose it." I warn, reaching for my door handle.
"No Parking. Anytime."
The guy in the white Volkswagen, business casual dad-type slows beside us and I roll down my window.
He's smiling even though he's trying to contain his excitement that only comes from catching one. "Charmander? It's in the field."
"Thank you." I smile and Josué waves thanks and the guy nods, driving off. He throws the Sunfire into park and we are pulling open the doors, our phones guiding us. "Split up!" I demand as I take off running down the field. We spotted it seven minutes ago.
"Ness! Over here!" Josué is screaming and even in the dark, because of the light emanating from his phone, I can see his finger begin the aggressive swiping. I dig my feet into the ground, pushing off like I am one of the Olympians everyone's at home watching. I'm so close to evolving my Charmeleon into a Charizard I can taste it. I feel myself flying. I’ve been blown backwards. My feet and hands are in front of me, like I was thrown a giant medicine ball in an animated version of my life. I feel my hair flying wildly around me. Suddenly time speeds up once more and I am thrown violently to ground. The world goes cloudy and I fight to stay conscious. There’s someone crying. I can hear it even though it seems far away. It’s a baby.
What else do I know?
My name is Vanessa Duke.
Where are you?
The park by Josué's house.
Are you alone?
As the thought enters my mind a panic abruptly follows. I force myself to stand which is a mixture of both bad and painfully so. My knee doesn't seem to straighten and my wrist is refusing to function. My head is pounding in unison to my heartbeat which is racing as I step forward. Josué was in front of me, I was only a couple of feet away from him when it happened.
I open my mouth to call for him but a low groan interrupts me. I swing my head around to see but there are only shadows. I strain to focus. There is a steady body of movement a dozen feet away. Coming over the grassy mound. Towards me. I drop down to my good knee. It's a human figure, moving like it's dragging something. I crawl backwards, back to where I last saw Josué, keeping my eyes on the man moving towards me.
His groan remains steady, so I can gage wherehe is. Without my phone's flashlight I realize how dark the field is. "Josué?" I whisper. "Josué?" I look around, straining to see.
"Hello?" Hello, is someone out there?"
I freeze. It's the groaning man. He has realized I'm out here. Realized I am less than a few feet away.
"Can you please help me?" He sounds familiar, I stand up and walk towards him. Even in the dark I can see that something is not right. I see his face first, as my eyes adjust. He is the man from the Volkswagen. His face hangs almost sideways, the skin loosely adhering to his skull. I gasp and back away. His body is hunched over and using a cane. Upon closer examination I realize it is not a piece of wood that is helping to hold him up but an arm. A human arm.
Screaming wildly I run full force away from him putting every ounce of wait on my twisted knee. I don't stop until I feel myself colliding with another force.
"Ness?" A set of arms push me away, I see Josué examining my face. "Ness." He pulls me back towards him. "Let's get back to the car."
"There's a thing out there." I manage to squeak.
"There's lots of things." Josué looked back behind my shoulder before taking my hand. We begin to walk forward and my knee demands we stop with each step.
"You saw him?"
"I’ve been seeing flashing lights and then nothing. Like the light cleans everything up. Is that what you saw?"
"Wait, what? No. What?"
"Duck!" Josué pushes me down and I feel heat expand over us. "Roll." Josué yells and we take off down the mound. With our momentum slowing, I sit up and look at the singed grass that surrounds us. We were burned out, whoever caused the explosion is herding us.Dressed in an all-black wetsuit is a man walking towards us. It seemed like he was gliding through midair. As if appearing out of nowhere there is entire fleet behind him.
"Climb up here." Josué is holding out his hand and I accept his help as I hoist myself over the branch. From this vantage point I can see the parking lot, or what's left of it. There is a giant crater and I think about Nina. I study the destroyed cars wondering if she made it out and then doubt my eyes as the ground begins to shift. I clamp onto the tree trunk for more support. My mind arguing with what my eyes are reporting, I close my eyes and chant a silent prayer.
"What in the?" Josué brings me back to our unlikely reality. I follow his gaze back to the defunct parking lot but realize immediately the cause for his alarm. The once crater and destroyed lot has somehow returned to its unscathed state. The Pontiac Sunfire is back in place.
"Nina. We have to get her and go home."
"Climb down carefully, the Wetsuits haven't left." Josué directs and I see that the fleet is still loading onto the field. Marching in perfect lines they remind me of ants.
We maneuver our way out of the tree and through a combination of crawling and walking return to the car. Josué crouches down and pulls open the passenger door without making a sound. I watch as he pulls himself into the driver’s seat, remaining low. I crawl in after him. "Nina?" I whisper. No response. "Nina?" I crawl into the cramped backseat. Sifting through Josué's cleats, jersey, shorts and pushing his packed full gym bag out of the way. "She's not here." I pause running through my thoughts of where my sister could be.
"Think she ran?" I turn back to Josué who is staring, mouth open, at the man in the wetsuit that’s walking down the middle of the street. "What's he--?" I begin, but then I watch him as he stops outside a car. He raises a small device, that seemed to be attached to his wrist, and holds it up to the car window. A bright blueish light flashes and then he moves onto the next. "What did he do?" I whisper so quietly that I may not have uttered it at all. I hear the crying that hadn’t stopped since I had been thrown on my back. The creature, that mimicked a man, came to the minivan. The crying was only exacerbated but now I start to hear hushed tones. Whoever was inside of the van was attempting to sooth the child, to no avail. The device on their wrist was held up, the pale blue light filling the vehicle. The crying ceased.
"What is he doing?" I feel my heart beat speed up once again. Breathing was becoming difficult.
"Calm down. Calm down, he doesn't see us. They already did the cars over here. He's moving away. Calm down, he can't see us."
Josué's words begin to resonate. Calm down, they'd already done these cars. They already took all humans from these cars. "Nina?" I’m fighting to catch my breath. "They took Nina? You're her boyfriend you're supposed to protect her."
The wetsuit wearing man turns in our direction and I see the scales on the side of his face. Josué's fingers quickly cover my mouth. I’m not sure if we’ve already been spotted.
"When I say, run."
I nod and Josué removes his hand from my mouth. I inch slowly back to the passenger door. I push it open slowly, so slowly it almost doesn't seem to be moving. I don't turn around for fear I may make a sound and our fate will be sealed.
"Go." I hear Josué whisper and I run, my head down, my broken knee screaming back at me. I run behind the endless fleet away from the mirage of a parking lot. Away from the last place I saw my sister.Josué's screams, that had often served as accented exclamations of delight whenever we took over a gym, were now horrified bursts of fear. I turn around in time to see the scaled face humanoid flash his blueish light and for a second Josué is gone. I feel my heart tighten in my chest. I close my eyes and when I reopen them, I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
Instead of remaining vanished like the rest however a mutilation of his former self, stands before me. Like the Volkswagen man in the field, Josué is a bundle of discombobulated parts, each of them functioning but not in the way they were intended. Where his right arm once was, he now has a bulky calf muscle. His face is a contortion as if it is only trying to be human. I catch sight of his eyes. They are the same. I wonder if he is aware of what has become of him. Before the scream that is forming in my gut can leave my lips I begin running back to my neighborhood. Terrified and comforted by the possibilities of what could be awaiting me.
About the Author
Valerie Day-Sánchez enjoys reading and writing across genres, although young adult is her favorite at the moment. Threshold is her first attempt at Sci-Fi. Her other work consists of YA Fantasy Trilogy, Harlow Whittaker. She received both her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University. Her love of the desert Southwest keeps her close to home although she loves to travel, especially when she gets a chance to try the local cuisine. Playing with her two sons and the family’s Boston Terrier, Winston, are how she occupies her time when she’ not writing.