The Alignment

By rubbrsome
published November 19, 2013
4482 words
Summary

A returning passenger begins to uncover the startling truth of a worldwide invasion.

Adam Miller’s head was pounding. He had woken up suddenly and then it felt as if the most massive headache come crashing down on his skull. He tried to roll over but something caught him. It felt like something was holding him down. He fumbled at his waste, grabbed something that felt like a strap and was instantly confused. Looking down, he was instantly confused as he realized that there was a seat belt strapped around his waist. Then he looked around and realized that he was sitting in the first class cabin of a 747 jetliner.

Another massive throb pounded at the side of his head. But he pushed the pain aside as he tried to get his bearings. Looking around, he realized that there was no doubt. He was definitely on a plane. He could feel the steady vibration of the jet’s turbine engines, and the sporadic jolts as the aircraft encountered turbulence. It was a feeling that somehow comforted him because he practically lived above international airspace.

Adam was the executive public relations officer of Lair Industries, a newly formed technology firm that specialized in quantum and spacial mapping. In all honesty, he hadn’t quite grasped the finer details of what Lair Industries did; the technology was far beyond his understanding. But from what Adam was able to understand, it had something to do with mapping (what the company’s engineers had said) “both the known and unknown universe.”

So since Lair was a relative start-up, it had been Adam’s job to seek out new funding to keep the company going. And this meant going anywhere and everywhere to find those investors to keep the company afloat. Lately, it had been hard to keep track of where he had been. Adam leaned back into his seat and rubbed the sides of his temples with the heels of his hands. His head throbbed with a slight headache. It made it even more difficult in remembering where he was coming from.

But several things weren’t making sense. First of all, Lair was a new company and he travelled a lot to get them funding. But he always traveled coach and stayed in seedy little dives of a hotel. But looking around him, he was taking in the luxurious surroundings of the first class cabin. He had never travelled in such style. He didn’t remember getting a first class ticket, nor actually getting on this plane.

This brought him to his second problem: where was he exactly? Where had he come from, and where was he going. He had lost all sense of what had happened to him. Then a thought occurred to him. Reaching under his seat, he located a satchel. He had to open several pockets until he finally located his airline ticket. He was again surprised when he discovered that he had originally departed Hong Kong and was now making his way home to Los Angeles.

Adam breathed out a sigh of relief. He was going home. This was a good thing. But as he studied his flight itinerary more, his brows furrowed. No. This is bad. This was very very bad. He began to study his flight itinerary, checking when he had left China, was supposed to have his layover in Honolulu, and when he was supposed to finally arrive at LAX. But as he checked and rechecked the times, nothing was adding up. His mind swam with confusion and panic. This just didn’t make sense. According to his Seiko, it was now 11:47 pm PST. He reread the airline itinerary and rechecked his watch several times before calling for a nearby flight attendant.

“Sorry to bother you, but was our flight delayed or something?”

The attendant gave a sympathetic smile and explained that a bad combination of mechanical problems, weather and overbooking had a domino effect and put Adam nearly fifteen hours behind schedule. Adam tried to act unconcerned about the whole affair, but when the attendant finally went about her usual duties, he privately began to swear under his breath.

By the time the plane began its final approach into LAX, he was practically ready to explode from impatience. And when the plane taxied, docked and the door mated with the gangway, Adam was the first passenger out the door and running down the ramp. But it was only then that he realized that he didn’t quite know what to do next. Had he checked luggage? Well … he had been in China. So he must’ve checked luggage. But how much? And had he left his car in airport’s parking lot? Or had a company car dropped him off at the airport? He was unsure about all of these things.

Adam stood there in the international terminal, not knowing on what he should do next. He tried to think. Again, he rubbed his temples; the fucking headache just wouldn’t go away. But after a brief moment, a thought occurred to him. He began to search his carry-on satchel again. After opening every pocket, he couldn’t find his car keys. So he must’ve been dropped off. But one thing he did find was his passport. And this reminded him that he would have to check-in through customs. Inwardly, he groaned. Because he had practically lived on international flights, he knew this was one thing he wasn’t looking forward to.

But as Adam neared the area for International Customs, he was pleasantly surprised on how empty it was. He reminded himself and looked at his watch. It was now after one in the morning, and figured the early morning hour was the reason for no traffic. But there were still several lines, and each line was manned by a customs officer. Adam quickly got in queue. Well aware of the procedure, he retrieved his passport and any documents the officer may need.

As he stood in line, he couldn’t help but overhear a man’s angry voice coming from one line over from where he stood waiting. Glancing over to the next line, Adam quickly found the source of the voice and his mouth instantly fell open. Adam blinked several times because he wasn’t exactly sure what he was seeing. Standing at the head of next line, it looked like there were two men. One of the men was obviously some sort of business fellow. He was holding his passport out and a carry-on was in his other hand. This was the source of the angry voice, because this business man was directing his anger towards the custom’s officer.

But it was this officer that captivated both Adam’s attention and confusion. The officer (or what was supposed to be the officer) appeared to be a living shadow. The man was entirely black, from head to toe; he didn’t even have a face. He looked like he was wearing one of those motion capture bodysuits. But somehow, Adam knew it wasn’t a bodysuit. There was something about the blackness of his body. It radiated off him like some kind of dark energy field. Adam’s mind grasped for a word to describe the dark cloud that surrounded the figure, and he quickly grasped at the word “aura.” It was a dark aura that pulsed outward and around this man as if it were vapor.

Adam stared. He continued to watch the exchange between the returning business man and the living shadow. There seemed to be some kind of argument occurring between the two. But it was so odd. Well … other than the fact that there was a man standing in a black-glowing bodysuit, Adam realized the second odd thing about the scene: the shadowy man wasn’t talking. The exchange between business man and shadow was completely one-sided. The man was holding out his passport, seeming to argue with the strange custom’s officer. But the shadowed figure stood perfectly still and stared silently at the irate passenger.

There was a sudden nudge. Adam’s turned around and saw another a passenger behind him. “It’s your turn.”

Adam had been so involved with watching the business man and the shadowed officer, he hadn’t noticed it was now his turn to grow through customs. He walked up, presented his passport and felt a massive relief that his custom’s officer appeared completely normal. As his officer questioned him, he kept stealing glances at the line next to him.

“No!” shouted the business man in the next lane. “You have everything you need. It’s right there! And I’m already late!”

Adam couldn’t help but turn again when he heard the man raise his voice. But as he turned, he was shocked to see the shadowed figure move for the first time. As the figure moved his arm, it seemed leave a contrail of dark energy behind him. Adam would have paid more attention to the misty contrail left by his arm but he quickly focused on what the figure did. The shadowed man withdrew a small device, about the size of a thin cell phone, held it up directly in front of the business man’s face and activated it. The device immediately began to flash brilliantly in all directions. At first, it reminded Adam of a police siren and shone light in all directions. But as the device flashed it dazzling beacon of light, the light quickly narrowed its focus and concentrated its beam straight ahead. The business man’s face immediately relaxed, his eyes widened and his mouth went slack. The figure continued to hold the flashing device at eye level and focusing it on the man. The beam of light continued to both narrow and intensify. Within seconds, the light had become so focused and narrow, it seemed perfectly concentrated on the man’s eyes. At this point, the man dropped his passport. He didn’t seem to notice. He stood there; his body shook and spasmed. Adam could see a small trickle of drool beginning to spill out of the corner of the man’s mouth.

“You’re clear, Sir” someone said.

“Huh?” Adam jumped. He spun around and completely forgot that he was in the process of going through customs. He looked at his own custom’s officer. “What?”

The officer smiled. “I said you’re clear. Welcome home.” The man was holding Adam’s passport out to him. Adam took it and fumbled it for a second. He wanted more than anything to look back at was happening in the line next to him. But suddenly, he was wondering why nobody else was staring? Why wasn’t anyone noticing the strange thing that had just happened?

He wanted to ask this more than anything. Instead, he tried to say “thank you” but only some unintelligible mumble came out. As he passed through the gate, he glanced back at what was happening. The shadowed figure was no longer beaming a light into the passenger’s face. Instead, he was now touching the business man. Specifically, he was inserting the tip of his blackened finger into the man’s ear. For several seconds, the finger remained inserted into the ear; several small tendrils of black energy trailed around the man’s head and face. But Adam could have sworn, that before the finger actually entered the ear, he had seen one of the misty tendrils shoot out from the finger and enter the ear before the finger did. The action sent a small shiver down Adam’s spine. There was something horrific about what he was witnessing. It was like some nightmare that reminded Adam of something. Like it was from a horror movie he had once seen long ago.

Then something began to happen. The business man, who had been slouching suddenly stood up straight and proper. His posture suddenly mirrored the shadowed custom’s officer. His slack mouth closed like a catch door being shut, completely ignoring the trail of spittle that had flowed down his chin. The man gave no protest, didn’t even make a sound as the shadowed figure gripped him by the elbow and led him away. The two men approached a door that said “RESTRICTED AREA” and disappeared beyond it.

Adam’s mind suddenly snapped back like it was a rubber band. Part of him refused to believe what he had seen. “What that real? I mean … did that really just fucking happen?” He asked himself this over and over. Part of him knew that it had just happen. And yet, it seemed like such a forgotten nightmare that he began to immediately dismiss it.

He turned and began to walk. He began to reason to himself. First of all, if it really had been real, wouldn’t other people had seen it? So what did that mean? Did he just hallucinate the whole thing? Or … was this some kind of dream? Was he sleeping?

He approached the automatic doors to the outside of the airport. As the doors opened, the welcome gust of the cold night air hit him. He breathed in the fresh smell of ocean air and closed his eyes. He reassured himself: “It wasn’t real. Nobody else saw. It wasn’t real. Couldn’t have been real.”

And then he opened his eyes and stared in horror. If he was perplexed between what happened between the passenger and the custom’s officer, he was infinitely and irreconcilably at a loss to what he was seeing now. Directly across from, standing pressed up against one of those glass kiosks, where two more of those shadowed men. But this time, the two featureless men where blatantly and obviously fucking. One of the men was bent over, his black hands resting flat against the glass pane of the kiosk. The other man, whose hands gripped his partner at the hips, was rocking his hips back and forth: obviously thrusting his cock in and out. As the two figures fucked, the shadowy aura that surrounded their bodies seemed to pulse and make them glow with a radiating darkness. All around them, people and passengers walked and milled about completely oblivious to what was happening.

Adam stood speechless. He was so shocked that he actually dropped his satchel. The leather bag fell and his the cement with a definite thump. Without ceasing the thrusting of his hips, the figure that was doing the fucking turned his head and looked directly at Adam. The man nodded his head toward Adam. Then, it turned back and resumed its focus on fucking.

Adam took several steps backwards. The figure’s gesture had horrified him. It seemed so normal: almost friendly, in fact. But there was something else that had also horrified him. Adam had seen something that (strange and bizarre as it sounds) was even more disturbing than the two figures fucking in public. Because the two men were fucking next to a glass kiosk, their reflections were perfectly visible. Adam had gotten a clear and perfect view of the reflection. But he hadn’t seen the reflection of two black figures having sex. As unimaginable as it sounds, Adam had instead seen the reflection of two uniformed police officers standing at the ready and observing the passing crowd.

“This is real. I don’t know how or why, but this is actually real!” His mind raced. He tried to make sense of what was happening. But nothing was making sense. He couldn’t understand and justify what he was seeing. And more important, why was he the only one that was seeing it?!

He looked at the other people that walked by. There must have been more than a hundred people standing near the loading curb, and many more coming and going, and none of them seemed to notice two featureless shadowy men fucking each other right in front of them.

Adam reached down and picked up his satchel. He was vaguely aware that an empty cab had pulled up to the curb nearby. He made a dash for it. He needed to get away. More than anything, he just needed to get the fuck out of here. He jumped into the cab, closed the door and shouted: “Hollywood Hills. Just go!” All the while, he kept staring back out at what must’ve been two policemen fucking less than fifteen feet from him.

He expected there to be a lunge as the taxi accelerated. His body should have been thrust back into the seat. But there was no sudden movement. No sudden take off. It took Adam a moment before he realized this. He kept staring at the two men fucking. But when he did realize the cab wasn’t moving, he finally turned toward the driver for the first time.

Sitting behind the wheel, one of the shadowed men sat quietly. Adam made a sharp intake of breath. His fist suddenly clenched and his heart plummeted. He could only see the back of the man’s head, but there was no doubt in his mind. The black, featureless head appeared bald as black ribbons of darkness trailed and misted outward. Adam then looked up at the review mirror. The shadowy man was staring back at him; his reflection appearing to be that of a young Hispanic man.

“I … I … I’m sorry,” Adam mumbled as he grabbed for the door’s handle. “I … d-don’t need a ride. Car … go … I … um …” His mind just couldn’t form a rational sentence. He fumbled the door open and practically fell back out on the curb.

An African American fellow, who happened to be nearby, laughed with amusement as he watched Adam fall out of the cab. Then noticing that the cab was suddenly available, he stepped over Adam’s body and got inside. Before the door closed, the man spoke to the driver: “Marina del Rey, driver.”

From where Adam sat, he had a clear view of what happened next. It was like what had happened in the custom’s line but only slightly different on a few details. This time, the shadowy driver turned around to face his passenger. As he turned, he placed a device directly in front of his passenger’s face. The passenger must’ve been alarmed by the sudden movement because he seemed to make a dash for the door. But Adam heard the sudden click as the door’s locks engaged. Then there was the unmistakable sound as the passenger struggled in vain as he pulled the door’s handles.

Meanwhile, the driver leaned over, focused the device on his passenger and activated it. Like before, it began with a sudden a brilliant light that shone in all directions. The light was so brilliant that it burst out all the taxi’s windows. The light was so bright that it was impossible for Adam to see what was happening inside the cab. But then, after a few moments, the light seemed to focus and narrow. Instead of the light shooting out in all directions, it narrowed down into a tight, focused beam. The beam was being directly aimed into the passenger’s eyes. The captive passenger no longer pulled on the door’s lever or banged on the window. Instead, he was now slouched in his seat, his mouth open and his eyes staring wide-eyed into the beam. As he stared, the cab driver leaned in and extended his finger out towards the man’s ear. Adam definitely saw it this time. The driver’s hand had that dark aura. But he could clearly see a thin stream of dark energy drift out from the tip of the index finger and enter the passenger’s open ear. And then the finger, itself, followed and inserted itself. The passenger began to twitch and jerk in his seat.

This time, Adam saw a little more than what he saw at customs. As the passenger twitched, he could see black misty tendrils erupting out of the man’s nostrils and mouth. Even the man’s eyes, which seemed to grow even wider, seemed to mist over with a shadowy blackness.

Adam wanted to scream. But before he could, he felt a strong hand grip him by the elbow and pull him upward. For a split second, he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the inside of the cab. But then, his eye caught quick glimpse of a dark hand on his arm. He turned around and suddenly realized that had been pulled to his feet by one of shadowed men that had been fucking.

Adam knew it was the shadowed cops because of the way he suddenly felt. As the hand grabbed him, the dark energy flowed over him. He was over him as if dumping cold water on him: shocking him and yet relaxing him at the same time. Adam turned and his fears were confirmed: he stared directly into the featureless face of a shadowed police officer.

Without meaning to, Adam grabbed the man’s shoulder to help balance himself. When his hand touched the man, he was suddenly aware that he wasn’t touching a human being. The shadowy figure felt alien. His flesh felt like slick and solid rubber. All around him, the black aura radiated outward from the man’s body. It seemed to pulse outward, and with it, Adam could feel a distinct coldness.

Then the air seemed to get colder. Adam hadn’t seen where the second police officer had gone. But as more coldness enveloped him, he was acutely aware that there was another presence, and brought with it another dark energy field. The second shadow cop must’ve sneaked up behind him, because he suddenly rested his rubbery hand on Adam’s shoulder. The two officers sandwiched him on both sides.

IDENTIFY

IDENTIFY

IDENTIFY

IDENTIFY

The voice was loud. And worse, the voice seemed to be speaking directly into Adam’s mind. It repeated itself over and over, like a loudspeaker that penetrated into Adam’s brain and wouldn’t shut off. It demanded an answer.

IDENTIFY

IDENTIFY

IDENTIFY

Adam tried to speak. But his mouth wouldn’t move. His brain barely seemed able to think his own name. The invasion into his thoughts was crippling him mentally. He tried to focus but he still was unable to muster a coherent thought.

Then there he felt the cold, rubbery hand seize him around the throat. The shadowy police officer fingers wrapped around his chin and held him still. Adam stared in horror as the other shadowy police officer stepped in closer, pressing the front of his body against his own. He watched as the man raised a finger and aimed it directly towards his head. It all happened in slow motion. So slow. A very thin trail, almost like a wisp of black energy suddenly shot out from the man’s fingers and began to drift towards him.

For a split second, Adam glanced at the all the people that just kept on walking by. Didn’t anyone see this? There must be almost a hundred people here. And they were all walking on by, completely oblivious to what was happening. He didn’t understand why.

A coldness settled over him. And he actually felt something slide into his ear as slick as water. And very quickly, he felt the man’s finger follow. His mind exploded. He was fully aware of what was happening. They were reading everything. They knew who he was; his name, his memories, his soul. Everything that was Adam was made suddenly naked and laid bare before these men.

The second shadow cop’s hand tightened on his shoulder. And like his partner, he also pointed his finger at Adam’s remaining ear. Adam stood frozen and unable to resist as a second stream of dark energy burst from the cop’s finger and entered. Adam shuddered again as the finger quickly inserted itself.

The invaders continued to probe his mind, collecting everything. Adam’s body and mind relaxed. He offered no resistance. He felt their grip on him tighten to keep him from collapsing onto the cement ground. It felt strange, but he was actually comforted by the thought that they were holding him up.

Adam felt every essence of him probed and analyzed. As they opened up every door in Adam’s mind, things that Adam had forgotten suddenly surfaced and he remembered. It was just as the old saying goes: “My life flashed before my eyes.” And Adam saw everything that the shadow cops saw. And he suddenly understood.

Then he heard the cops again. They both spoke in unison.

HE WILL BE REALIGNED

HE WILL BE ESCORTED

PROCEED TO REALIGNMENT

Their hands tightened on him. He felt them pivot his body and direct him toward the nearby squad car. Adam offered no resistance. His whole body felt numb. He felt like some kind of putty in their hands, ready to be shaped and molded.

But contrary to his numb body, Adam’s mind felt surprisingly alert and active. As if it had been woken for the first time in a long time. Because of their invasion, the shadowed cops had helped him realize the truth of his reality.

As they proceeded to the squad car, the three men passed by one of the glass kiosks for curb side check-in. Adam turned and glanced at the glass. Before he saw the reflection, he already knew what he would see. The reflection revealed two uniform officers escorting a man between them. The man, who the cops had apprehended, appeared to be a dark, featureless figure. But there was no dark aura of energy radiating off this man’s body. Instead, he appeared to have been dipped in thick, black oil.

Adam stared at his reflection. He knew it was him. And that it was also true. He was already one of them.

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