Joe Winston was watching the news about the alien invasion on one of the several TVs in a packed bar with dozens of other people, trying hard not to give in to his terror, hoping against hope it was all some sort of weird collective nightmare.
An alien invasion! Who would have thought? With spaceships and laser beams, no less. What he saw on TV looked like scenes from a sci-fi movie. The difference was Earth’s defenders were getting slaughtered for real, and he could do nothing but helplessly wait and see how the chips would fall. The army was gearing up to defend against a ground invasion, and all around the planet, militia forces were being hastily organized, preparing for the same thing. He worried about his parents and his pregnant sister. He should call them. His hand reached for his pocket.
Winston’s eyes suddenly rolled back into his skull, and he fell from his stool. He was dead before he hit the floor, blood coming out of his ears.
The TV broadcast stopped. The other people in the bar, in silence and showing no emotions, picked up Winston’s body and carried it outside along with a few other corpses. The bar owner gave them a couple of shovels. They carried the bodies to a small park nearby where they were joined by hundreds of other people carrying the corpses of men, women, and children. Together, they dug a big hole, unceremoniously dumped the dead inside, covered the massive grave, and went their separate ways, forgetting what they’d just done. The dead were not missed. Joe Winston’s parents remembered only one child. His sister listened to the voice in her head that erased all her concerns about the future, and her recent terror. Her child would grow up blessed in the service of the gods.
In Zheng’s operation room, the general helped carry out the corpses. He wasn’t good at it; he hadn’t done any menial labor since his teens. But nothing like that mattered. A few soldiers dug a big hole and threw in the bodies, superior officers and comrades alike.
In The Harem, the Bratava goons didn’t bother to dig holes. They already had a secret underground room they used to dispose of bodies. They’d normally use a tub full of acid to do this, but there was no need for it today. They threw in the corpses of a few young women, as well as a couple of clients and two of their own, locked the door and walked away.
Some of the biggest mass graves in history were dug in China, where there were too many dead bodies to be handled by individual citizens. Government officials got involved and ordered the army to use excavators to prepare designated trenches in various locations, to be filled by thousands of corpses. In their minds, they were beautifying the country by removing unsightly animal carcasses whose provenance they didn’t remember.
The same macabre scenes were being played all around the planet. People buried their neighbors, their friends, and their relatives wherever it was most convenient and then completely forgot about them. Brothers buried their brothers. Mothers buried their children. A five-year-old child spent a couple of hours in their backyard trying to dig a hole to put her mother in until some neighbors saw him and came to his help. An eighty-year-old man had a heart attack while digging a grave for his wife of sixty years and died right next to her. Their son buried both of them later. A newlywed young woman on her honeymoon dug a grave in the sand with her bare hands, threw her husband in it and then wondered what she was doing alone on a beach. By some cruel twist of fate, four out of five members of the same family died together. The father buried his wife and three children and mercifully forgot all about them. Millions of people disappeared into haphazardly dug holes, never to be seen, heard of, or remembered ever again.
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