Rose left the supermarket hoping, just hoping, that something might have changed. No, it was still a bleak rainy day. The pavements seemed to reflect the bitter aftertaste of what had happened: grey and paralyzed. The same emptiness, no movement and above all no human traces. They were still all suspended in a stoneless view on the world since the invasion. Rose was one of the lucky ones today, she had permission to go out. She thought she might meet someone sharing the freedom. Perhaps there were some others, but not in her segment of the town (or perhaps even world).
There was a particular odour still hanging in the air, but she did not recognise it. She searched for a recognition of the smell, but she failed and then a thought hit her, leaving her with bleaker feelings than she already had. There was no smell, everything was odourless, no trace of anything animal or even vegetable. The world had been reduced to a mineral desert. The same houses, same objects, even the banners, but it was all so lifeless. No wind moved the sheets of white advertising material suspended on their poles, inviting all to join in the shopping experience.
Then she spotted out of the corner of her eye a movement. A quick hurried movement. Was there someone else here? She gathered hope that her loneliness was just temporary. She moved onto the concrete, out from the protective roof sheltering her from the monotonous fall of raindrops.
“Hello” she called. “Is anyone there?”.
As if to answer her call, she heard a scratching sound and the movement came nearer. Then she saw it. A dark brown furry something, with pointed twitching nose, hurrying across the void spaces of the empty car park, sniffing constantly: a rat, a large brown rat. As it disappeared over the edge of the parking lot she saw another rat running in the same direction. “Probably following the scent of its partner” she thought, but no, there was no scent any more since they arrived. Who knew where the rats were going? They were supposed to be the last survivors on earth according to the scientists.
She felt tired but still had to walk home. The cars that still existed had no petrol. Another problem after the invasion. Her shopping bag was filled with food: as tasteless as everything else. They had no pity. They had taken everything they could. It was heavy and she now had just tins of food: meat, vegetable, fruit, all swimming in the same tasteless liquid. At least Rose still had memories of how it used to be, but the babies would never know it.
“Are there any babies left?” she thought. She remembered the invaders packing their ships with children and infants after they arrived and taking them to their own planet.
Rose felt vibrations around her. The flags started to move. “How comes? There is no longer wind on our planet”. And then it landed at the edge of the car park, causing sprays of rain to drench her. A door slid open at the side of the ship and a stairway descended. One of the captured children came towards her, an invader holding her hand.
The invader looked at Rose with piercing red eyes. She felt them burning into her face. Rose looked down at the child.
“You have to come with us” said the child “we need a mother”.
Rose climbed the stairs to the ship, the door closed and the ship departed