“It’s always difficult to predict just how these things end, unless, of course, the hours leading up to the ending suggest something non-too happy. As the pen that drives this narrative, I have a duty to you all. I also have responsibility to be true (whatever that means) to the basic logical, narrative, and credible drives of the universe.”
Extract from The End of Everything Interview: The Programmer.
The bottom line was that things did not look so rosy. Okay, the skies were alight with what could possibly pass as festive celebrations. Santas were buzzing the air in their attempts to track down al those people who had escaped their Christmas surprises. The President was tweeting to the world how he was going to kick the ass of the fat-faced Korean whose name he could not quite remember. Oh, and the melange of Santaristas, militias, and sadists who called themselves bureaucrats in the public service; they were waking up to the fact that the recently fulfilled containment camps were now completely empty. The goose had flown.
The geese had indeed flown. There were geese all over the skies and along the secret highways. Some of the geese had even managed to divert air-surveillance away from any fleeing convoys. Between the geese and the cigar, the chances of finding any alien refugees were minimal, but a number of the pursuing pack had managed to keep on the tail of the escapees.
Noel directed Duke and his convoy through the unmarked lanes and tracks. The guy who looked like he could be the father held the mother who was certainly in the last stages of journey. The little mule had been given passage in one of the recreational vehicles belonging to another member of their group. A little mule in an RV was something Duke thought he would never see, but that was some lesser thing that he had seen in recent weeks. Duke was about to see a whole lot more.
Overhead, the blue light from the star, which they had been following, became stronger. It was forming a strong shaft of light, palpably strong, on a part of the mountain that was now getting closer and closer. Behind them, another strong light was searching out its quarry. The helicopters were flying on the instincts of the Captain who sat perched behind his mounted machine gun just waiting for the chance to bag some game. The geese were flying, but they were not yet free. With luck, soon they would be cooked.
Duke’s pickup was almost to the light. The light formed a concentrated circle and they were heading straight for it.
“You sure about this, Noel?”
“Just keep going. Some more speed. Hit it…”
A strafe of gunfire raked the ground behind the RV. The mule-shaped donkey let out an unbelievably loud bray and kicked out in exasperation. Duke caught the sight of the gunfire and the lights of the helicopter in his rear-view mirror and realised the peril of their predicament. The woman who was heavily pregnant let out an alrighty scream and the guy who looked like her husband spoke softly to her.
To make matters worse, Duke looked towards the heavens and saw what looked like a cigar, a huge cigar with ridiculously blue light emanating from its undercarriage. No, not undercarriage, it was way too grand for that.