The Hunted

They hired her to ask questions. They aren't going to like the answers.

The Hunted

In “Alien Invasion”, Flametree Publishing (2018)

historical SF (short story)


Mallaig was not much more than a row of white houses facing a broad bay tucked into a curve of green hills. Late afternoon sunlight glinted on the gray sea and gilded the low islands offshore.

To the north of the harbor lay a military camp, with regular lines of long khaki tents drawn up between barbed wire fences. A pair of fighting machines towered over the camp, monstrous insects straddling the fence line.

“Those are ours,” Rachel’s escort said. He pointed to the Union Jacks dangling from flagstaffs attached to the hull of each machine. “See?”

Rachel liked the look of them no better for that. She suppressed a shudder at the sight of the black funnels hanging from the machines, the projectors of the terrible heat-ray. Domesticated they might be, but they were still killers.

At the edge of the camp stood a long building of new red brick, roofed with gleaming sheets of tin. It was built right on the shore with a ramp at one end sloping down to the water’s edge. A tall chimney puffed smoke into the clear summer sky.

“That’s the laboratory,” the soldier told her, answering her unspoken question. “That’s where they keep the creatures.”

“Creatures,” Rachel said. “Do you mean —”

“Yes,” he said. “Martians. Three of them. Alive, alive-oh.”