The Nightmare

by David Danzig

This is a nightmare I really had a while ago. It was one of the most frightening and convincing and cinematic dreams I've ever had.

I'm a reporter or a cop or a private detective or some other kind of investigator. I'm visiting a small town in Middle America to investigate reports of a missing little boy. As I near the town, my car breaks down, and my radio stops working. I enter the town on foot.

I walk down the main street of the town. Children ranging in age from about 3 to about 16 are playing in the street, even though it's late morning on a school day. There are no cars driving by, though there are several very old cars parked on the side of the road, and they look like they've been abandoned. I can't see any sign of anything electrical that works. There are no adults around, and the children appear to be unsupervised. I ask one of the children, a young but very tall African American of about 13 or 14, where all the adults are. He points me toward a large, old, yellow, wooden building about a block down. As I get closer, I see that there is a sign out front, and it is called "The Cabaret". I walk inside.

In the Cabaret, I see men and women ranging in age from their late fifties to their mid eighties. They are all drunk and rowdy and dirty and grungy. There is a burlesque stage show featuring a woman in her fifties peeling off a small, but loose fitting dress. Men are leering at her and grabbing at her. She seems drugged and oblivious to her surroundings. People are climbing on the rafters, throwing drinks around, and loudly shouting off-color remarks and laughing. Everyone is completely out of control. I ask questions of one of the men at the bar. He's about 60 or so. He has dirty blonde hair, with a touch of dark grey. He's missing a few teeth, and he hasn't shaved for at least a week. I question him. Does he know about the missing boy I'm looking for? Why is there no one in the town between the ages of 16 and 57? He tells me that I should just relax, and enjoy the show. I tell him I'm not interested in the show. He says that he can't answer any of my questions, and that no one else in town will talk to me either. He wishes me luck and I go on my way.

I poke around the town more, but, in waking, I can no longer remember the details of my investigation. But I do remember what I learned. In 1939, a ship piloted by space aliens landed in the town. Human hormones and some human tissue are an incredible drug for these aliens, who wish to both consume and trade human flesh and secretions. They tell the townspeople of their intentions, show a display of their superior technology, and demand and receive the immediate surrender of the town. Using the town as a base, they begin to deploy weapons and troops to use in their invasion of Earth. With both the aliens and the townspeople realizing that resistance from Earth will be fierce, but that the Earth's defeat is inevitable, the townspeople and the aliens come to an agreement. The townspeople will let the aliens use them to breed humans, and in exchange the aliens will call off their invasion. The townspeople promise never to tell anyone about the aliens, and the aliens promise never to hurt anyone who isn't from the town.

Over the years, as the residents got older, and infertility and death loomed, the aliens developed asexual methods of breeding humans. In the course of my investigations I discover a room full of thousands of "pods" containing fetuses in various stages of development.

This arrangement between the town and the aliens is the reason there's no adult in the town under 57. That's the age of the youngest people in the town at the time of the alien invasion. It's also the reason there are no children over 16. That's the age at which the children are slaughtered and consumed or sold on alien worlds. It's also the reason the adults relegate themselves to the Cabaret. They think they did the right thing in making this deal with the aliens, but they are not sure. Unable to fully grasp the morality of the Faustian pact they have made, they have abandoned the concept of morality entirely, and now just spend their days in a drunken stupor, segregating themselves from the children outside who they can't bear to face.

I come to realize that over the last 57 years, the technology of the Earth has improved so significantly that we could probably repel the aliens, most notably because of the development of the atomic bomb in the 1940s. I go back to the Cabaret to try to get the townspeople to realize that what's happening is wrong, and that we need to fight the aliens. They are unable to accept even the possibility that they've made a mistake in not fighting the aliens sooner, since it would implicate them in the death of millions of people over the years. Eventually, I lose their attention, and they drown my voice out with their revelry.

I then go outside to talk to the children instead and try to warn them. I meet several of them in a high school gymnasium playing basketball, including the one I spoke to earlier. Let's call him "Charlie". The children are skeptical that an invasion ever occurred or that they'll be killed soon after they turn 16. They think that 16 is just about as old as people get, and that all their friends died naturally at 16. I bring a few of them, including Charlie, to the room with the fetus-filled pods. At this point the children are starting to believe my story. We are confronted by one of the aliens. He or she looks like an "alien grey" with big black eyes and a long, triangular face, that people who claim to have seen an alien always draw pictures of. The alien looks much more sinister, however, than those pictures. Its skin is scaly and greenish. It's eyes are more narrow and slanted. It has long, yellow, jagged teeth.

I know that the alien can't hurt me, since the aliens are not permitted to harm anyone from outside the town. The children are not frightened either. They have seen the aliens before roaming about town, and they don't think there's anything odd about it. The alien admits to the children that what I have told them is true. Charlie says something rousing about how they're not going to just sit like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. He swears he'll alert the world and fight the aliens.

The alien pulls out a long machete. With one swift motion, he slices off both of Charlie's feet. Charlie falls forward onto his face. Then the alien draws another machete and bears one in each hand. With incredible precision and lightening speed it begins to cut paper thin slices from each of Charlie's leg stumps in a furious display of gleaming, scraping metal, spraying the air with huge amounts of blood. The alien quickly works its way almost to the top of each leg. It then uses its hands to sear the wounds, cooking the last inch of Charlie's legs. They look like cooked steak. The other children have quietly slipped out of the room while this has been happening.

"Go," says the alien to Charlie, "and show the others what happens when you defy us." Charlie crawls away, dragging himself using just his arms. He goes a few yards when the alien asks me, "Now which do you think will make him suffer more: if you bring him back here for me to kill him, or if I drag him back with this?" At this last word, the alien pulls out a meat hook.

"What?" I ask incredulously. "Look, I'm not going to bring him back here. this doesn't have anything to do with me. I'm not going to assist you in killing him."

"Fine," answers the alien. It swiftly walks to Charlie, who is about halfway down the block by now. It takes the meat hook and sticks it into the center of Charlie's spine. It drags Charlie back by the hook, as though he weighed nothing, scraping his face and arms on the sidewalk, and tugging the meet hook further down Charlie's back as it goes.

Right then, I woke up.

I'm sorry I can't tell you how it ends. I hope that it wouldn't have had a typical Hollywood ending, but I kind of bet that it would. Still, even assuming that the aliens ultimately get repelled or destroyed, what happens to the people at the Cabaret? How do the children, who've never known any other life, become integrated into society? What happens to the thousands of fetuses sitting in the pods?

I'm sorry, but I don't have any of these answers. If you have any suggestions, let me know and I'll publish them here. All submissions will become the intellectual property of David Danzig, in exchange for publication as well as credit online and credit in any future media in which this story appears and your suggestions are included. If you want to send in your suggestion for publication here, email me at

Hey, do you have a production company? Want to produce this story as a movie of the week? Write me at

For Elizabeth Chanpong's idea of how this dream should end, click here.

For Dan LeFree's idea of how this dream should end, click here.

For Karen's idea of how this dream should end, click here.

For M. E.'s idea of how this dream should end, click here.


Copyright (c) 1996 David Danzig. Distribute unaltered copies freely with this notice.

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