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Alien Invasion Theory

Chapter Text

One fateful day, aliens invaded Earth.

Scientists were first to welcome the spaceships that landed, eager to study their inhabitants. The FBI were second in line, just as eager to keep tabs on the incident- and cover it up, should things go wrong.

But as the planet's landscape began to change, and researchers contacted a strange disease that morphed their bodies, casual interest turned to fear. People began to panic when the epidemic was formally announced on television. The smart ones gathered supplies in anticipation, but they were as desperate as the everyman to survive. And the scientists could not invent a cure fast enough.

Time passed. By the time medicine was created to combat the airborne virus, half of the world was infected. Aliens walked among humans, but did not cause any more trouble. Perhaps they knew they'd already won.

Too late did the people of Earth learn that the invaders were from Mars.

-

The following excerpts were taken from news reports that aired in Osaka, Japan in 2004. Communication ceased during the summer months.

"Breaking news! A spaceship has been found. Will contact be made with extraterrestrial life?"

"This is a crisis. The virus has reached Eurasia and shows no signs of stopping."

"There is a one in a million chance that humanity will make a comeback. Thousands have already succumbed to the infection."

Chapter Text

Shitai-san.

That was the first thing that came into Madoka's head when she saw the corpse. This was not a man she had known, but the greenish pallor of his crumpled frame gave her an idea of how he had ended up in a pool of blood on the road.

She looked up. On some level, she hoped she wasn't right.

Buildings towered like skyscrapers overhead, reaching what seemed like hundreds of floors. Claustrophobia gripped her as she strained to catch the tops, squinting in the reflection of the midday sun. It was a maze of concrete and glass. Overtime, it had been mutilated by strange, colorful growths akin to vines that choked greenery and withered trees. Every structure seemed a monolith built to honor some forsaken god- and now, used as a resting place. She felt dizzy, overwhelmed. Like she was abandoned within it.

Nearby, a stoplight changed to red. Madoka closed her eyes.

"Madoka-chan!"

She turned. Her parents had parked their van near the sidewalk, and now, they were calling her name. Her father reached out from the driver's window, beckoning with an outstretched hand. His face, normally stern, was beset with worry- if he could not touch his only daughter, to him that meant he'd lose her.

It was so easy to get lost here.

Madoka forced herself to turn away from the man on the road. She hurried toward the vehicle and practically jumped inside, already muttering apologies. It didn't matter. Her father would be angry no matter what she did.

"I've told you once. I've told you a thousand times not to go off on your own," he chided. His voice had taken on a familiar tone that she knew too well.

The van didn't start. Madoka stared at the ground.

"What were you thinking?! Your mother and I have been worried sick! If we weren't able to find you..."

I was thinking of aliens. Of different worlds. Skyscrapers and dead men, Madoka thought. A sudden compulsion overtook her. She hated being told what to do, and that annoyance settled like sludge in her stomach, turning her mindset rebellious. Honestly, what was so bad about exploring? That was all there was to do, with the city's electricity failing and school being closed for the month. Staying at home was so boring.

I wanted to see one for myself.

She risked a glance. Her father was watching her anxiously from the front seat. He looked as angry as he sounded. Angry, but relieved.

Her mother watched from the passenger's seat, saying nothing. A weary smile graced her tired features.

The discomfort faded. Regret, slow and mournful, filled Madoka's chest. She let her head drop and focused on her sweater, tugging at the pink cotton.

"I'm sorry, papa," she said.

She felt awful. And yet, at the same time, she hated saying sorry. The girls at school always called her a goody-goody because she did what her teachers ordered. Honestly, she was sick of it.

But seeing her parents get like this was worse. She never wanted them to worry.

"I won't do it again." Madoka's hands moved to her braids. "I promise."

"Sure you won't. Hell, you'll probably run off the second we take our eyes off-"

"Dear, please. You're being too hard on her."

Her mother's voice. It was one of soothing reason, and as always, it brought her father around.

She dared to peek again. They'd turned to face the front, and were talking amongst themselves.

"Madoka apologized. She is safe. That's all that matters," her mother reassured. "You want to give her the medicine. Let's get going... we can do it at the apartment."

They were rescue workers, and could afford daily shipments of the one antibiotic that seemed to work. Madoka remembered how hesitant she was when she first received the pills. But she’d shown no signs of changing after taking them, and now downed them regularly. They had a definite influence on the lucidity of her dreams, but that was the only side effect.

Not a bad thing at all. She clasped her hands together, and found herself smiling a little. Really, she was just relieved that her mother would intervene.

Her father was quiet for a time, as if considering it. Then he nodded, and started the van.

As they drove through the warped streets of Osaka, Madoka wanted to say something, but couldn't bring herself to do it. Seeing how much the city had been affected by the virus made her worry. And her parents-

Madoka looked at the passenger’s seat. She could see the bandages wrapped around her mother’s hands. Odd lumps protruding beneath the gauze. The blue hint of an eyeball where it shouldn’t have been, followed by more. Then, her eyes fell upon her father’s head. Wrapped in the same brand of bandage, seemingly hiding nothing but a wound. Less conspicuous, except to those who knew better.

She looked away, and hoped the medicine would be enough.

Chapter Text

The owners of the apartment complex had all but disappeared by the time the virus took hold. Only a few workers remained to uphold the place. Tenants who had not gone the same way stayed in their rooms, petrified of things they did not understand.

Madoka followed her parents up to the seventh floor, carrying a supply box. It was heavy in her arms and weighed her down greatly, but she managed in spite of consequence. They all had to do this. The back of their van was filled with boxes of the same brand. Packages that should have been shipped out, yet were meant to end up in their apartment. This was a definite departure from their work schedule, and Madoka didn’t understand why.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“Be patient. We’re almost finished bringing these up,” was her father’s gruff response.

For some people, such a numerous amount of floors might seem impossible to reach. But Madoka was used to climbing flights of stairs, and the monotony of it, as well as the physical extortion it took to accomplish, was not as cumbersome as it used to be. This time, though, the lack of ambience got to her. Normally, she could hear the staff moving around different floors, and residents holding muffled conversations in the lobby. There was nothing now but an eerie silence broken only by the clipped sound of footsteps on concrete. It was unnerving.

Madoka had noticed it earlier, but thought nothing of it. At the time, it was morning, and her parents were out. She’d been so focused on going outside that she hadn’t noticed the horror within, made worse with imagination.

But she didn’t think everyone was dead.

Some didn’t make it. There was Shitai-san, and the people who seemingly existed only in stories on the news. Some took their lives to escape the infection, if they didn’t perish of natural causes first. It was hard to survive, in a metropolis running out of basic resources. Food now had to be sought out through exhausting treks across the country, water threatened the dehydrated with contamination, and machines slowed to a crawl, with noone to fix them.

There was nowhere left to go, and on some level, they knew it. So they took matters into their broken hands, and closed their eyes. No matter how warped their bodies became, humans still remained inside, lost and afraid. And she never blamed them.

All the same, Madoka owned something they didn't. Hope.

During hard times, she always tried to remain optimistic. This was one of the hardest she had ever experienced. Hope was the one thing that kept her going, and one of the only comforts she could provide, though she never offered it to strangers. Still, Madoka chose to believe in faith of the survivors. Immune to the virus, living in good health. Maybe some of them were in this very building. Of course, it wasn’t the truth, but such things let her sleep at night. She would live in constant denial if she had to.

Her parents weren’t nearly as positive. They hid it from her, prioritizing her well-being above all else, but Madoka knew better. Occasionally, she’d caught glimpses of their troubled expressions, and overheard private conversations where they talked about things like money and food and electricity. Factors that had once been a mere liability were now becoming part of an increasingly frightening reality. Images cropped up in her mind, and she recalled these with grim solemnity. Her father questioning how they could afford any of it at this point. Expressing frustration. Fear. Her mother timidly offering quiet condolences. Worries of her own, subtle gloom blossoming across her features. Madoka spent many nights mulling over these conversations, wondering if there was more she could have done. Desperately praying that she wasn’t the cause of their troubles.

Focus, she thought. You’re almost there.

A numbered panel told her they were on the fifth floor. Somehow, she had not fallen behind or tripped on the stairs. This offered little comfort, and she wobbled a bit, trying to steady herself. Her arms ached a bit thanks to the weight of the package, but she only gripped it tighter. Madoka's guardians had gotten further ahead, seemingly unburdened by such things. Panicking, she quickened her pace, intending to bridge the gap.

-

Their home was sparse, with bare walls and a minimal amount of furniture. Madoka's bedroom served as a comparable exception. It connected to the balcony, and she often stood out there on tiptoe, leaning upon the railing to get a birds-eye view of the city. Of course, that wasn’t the only feature. A bookshelf, television set, and patterned rug held the teen's interest, but it was the famicom that kept her shut inside for days. She wasn't playing video games now, though. Doing so would have been foolish when the atmosphere was grim as the stairwell, backed by the same eerie silence, the only difference being safety within a closed area. Madoka stood near her bed, observing her parents as they worked. Anxiously waiting for someone to break it.

Noone did. Her mother and father had deposited most of the van’s inventory in the kitchen, but some boxes were brought into her room and stacked haphazardly near the sliding doors. She couldn’t help but wonder what reasoning brought them to make these trips. Why would a family of three need so much food in a short period of time? Why bring it here, when other survivors needed it more?

Finally, they stopped. Straightened up, and stretched, as if they were left sore by all the heavy-lifting. Madoka took the incentive to question their actions, and fulfill her curiosity.

She spoke up. “Have you been working today?" Twisting the fabric of her sweater with both hands, fidgeting nervously in place. Her voice was filled with trepidation, but she could not bare to hide it for much longer.

Fearing the answer.

Instead of responding, her mother moved closer. Stooping down, she wrapped her arms around her daughter’s thin frame, pulling her close. It took Madoka a moment to realize she was being hugged from behind. She froze, and stared forward in shock.

Her father stood before her, mouth a firm line, looking more emotional than she had ever seen him. Sorrow was present in that telling expression, usually tainted by stress and the effects of age. Anger seemed to mingle with regret. Yet, he regarded her sternly, gripping her shoulder tight as he pulled something out of his pocket. A bottle of pills.

“Madoka-chan. We’re going away for awhile.” He held out the antibiotic, and she took it before she knew what she was doing. That unfaltering gaze held throughout every flat statement. “Not you. Your mom and I.” His voice trembled. “...You have to stay here.”

She was used to them delivering shipments around the world. Normally, this would not be cause for concern, but the way they acted now… it scared her. This wasn’t a normal errand. She knew this, just as she knew they were keeping secrets. An undeniable fact, brought to light by the quick turn of events. Now, everything seemed to be out in the open. The sludge of despair settled in her stomach once again, and she struggled to keep still as she realized what they were planning.

“There’s been another disaster in the next city over. People need resources in Kyoto, and it’s too dangerous for someone so young to accompany us.” Her father said it more firmly this time. “You could easily become infected, Madoka. You must stay in the apartment.” He removed his hand, and turned to exit the room. Her mother slipped away, and followed suit, glancing at Madoka as she passed. Her expression was nothing but apologetic.

“No!”

Madoka practically screamed it. The bottle dropped, clattering on the carpet. She flung herself at the door, reaching for her parents as they disappeared into the hallway. As if he’d anticipated this, her father moved to block the exit. He pressed against the other side, using his weight to keep her from leaving. Frantically, she tried to push back, but her best efforts proved to be futile. The door began to close.

“Don’t!” he ordered. “It’s not safe!”

It slammed shut.

Madoka pounded on the wooden surface with shaking fists. “Mom! Dad!” she yelled. If they were still in the hallway, they didn’t respond, but she kept going, even when tears came to her eyes and she’d dropped to her knees, crumpling under the weight of the sudden emotion that ravaged her. “Don’t go! I won’t be able to survive without you! Please!”

There was no answer. She slid down as her hand movements slowed.

“Please…”

Eventually, they ceased entirely. She was bent double, unable to speak, for her cries had turned to sobbing. Her braids hung over her shoulders like weights, loose strands of hair slipping from the bands. She didn't care.

Her mother and father were gone. She didn’t know whether they were going to come back or not. All she could think was that they might have abandoned her, and if they did, she had no idea what to do.

Madoka stayed there for a long time. Eventually, she managed to calm down enough to think clearly. There was no use in admitting defeat. Yes, she had almost no experience, but it was foolish to say that she couldn’t survive on her own. The food they’d left behind would provide sustenance, at least, until it ran out. How long that would take, she couldn’t imagine. Rapidly, her head filled with ominous predictions of the future that had been forced upon her in minutes. She couldn’t help but question it. What would happen if she needed to get supplies? Osaka's stores had most likely been broken into and looted by now. What if the plumbing stopped working? How would she get water? What if-

I'm going to die...

She couldn’t think that way. Thoughts like that were frightening, and realistically, it wouldn’t happen anytime soon. Madoka forced herself to take some death breaths. Wiping her eyes, she picked herself up the moment she’d regained her composure.

“If that’s going to happen,” she muttered. “Then I should do something about it.”

She turned, and looked at her desk. It was designated for homework and reading, but she sometimes used it to write in journals, preserving memories with short paragraphs and doodles. Her handwriting was admittedly messy, but if she played her cards right, it would convey the messages she intended to put on paper. Madoka walked over to the bookcase. Quietly, she removed a spiral notebook from the shelves, and placed it on the desk. She sat down, and thumbed through its pages. They were mostly blank.

She was going to start another journal. But this one would be a diary.

Chapter Text

Days passed. Madoka was still coping. She found that writing in her journal made it easier, so she did it often, documenting her feelings and thoughts as they were. Hard to describe, but writing really did lessen her burdens.

Eventually, she started keeping a dream journal.

The pills made her sleepy, so the teen rested often. Her dreams were becoming increasingly bizarre: some could be called nightmares, filled with facsimiles of the warped scenery and monstrous creatures outside. Always, Madoka started in a different version of her apartment. Always, the first area held doors which teleported her to different locations whenever she entered them. There was the numbers world, teeming with strings of code and zippered faces which made her panic. A world filled with pitch blackness that was unwise to navigate without a lantern. A shopping mall-like area was guarded by a red monster with a huge, gaping mouth. And so on.

When Madoka got brave enough to try talking to one of the aliens she came across, it ignored her in a pattern that seemed to be followed by the others. She tried different methods of interacting with them, which got easier as time went by, for there were items strewn about in the worlds Madoka's subconscious created. Discarded, rusting and abandoned in darkness, seemingly left for her to find. She dropped them in a hub area for safe keeping, and called them effects, only to discover that they turned into egg-shaped cases when thrown away, much to her surprise.

Few things evoked reactions. Only forcing the aliens to stop in place really worked, and that was when she got the stoplight effect- it turned her whole body into one. A cat effect allowed her to give a mewling call that attracted even the most stubborn of beasts, and they would approach cautiously whenever she used it, as if drawn by magnets. The knife was another effect, but she'd only experimented with it once, and that was when she'd killed one of the aliens solely by accident, panicking and apologizing over and over to the nothing that remained.

For as many nightmares she had, there were good dreams. Fantasies. Madoka could go anywhere she wanted, whenever she wanted. A world of color boasted neon squares that made melodic sounds whenever she rode a bicycle over them. Taking a broom to the mall rooftop meant flying over a city in witch's clothing. One biome was covered in snow, home to an ocean of pink, glimmering water, and it was this world that Madoka loved the most, for it was peaceful. There was someone in it that she knew.

One day, the teen had gone out onto the balcony, bored from playing video games. Reading was far more interesting- she'd learned a great deal about the ancient Paracas culture from the books in her room, to the point where it permeated her nightly imagination with strange-looking deity figures, patterns, and tomes. It wasn't enough to hold her interest that afternoon, however. Holding a steaming cup of ramen, Madoka stared out over the railing, quietly observing the ever-transforming city. It looked different from before. More odd structures and melting architecture.

Across the way, apartment buildings loomed nearby in various states of depilation. One balcony held two girls, both grinning widely, cheeks rosy, still looking human. A girl with blonde hair and a green sweater waved to Madoka ecstatically. Another was holding a flagpole for support, her black hair tied in pigtails, seifuku uniform appallingly gray against the blue sky.

For the first time in a week, she smiled, and waved back. The flag itself was green, and had a cross on it. Perhaps it signified that humanity was making a comeback? The thought cheered her up greatly, even if it might have been impossible.

From then on, she began seeing her neighbors in her dreams, much to her delight. The blonde girl lived on an island far across the pink sea, which could only be accessed by balloon ride or swimming. Pigtails girl was soon joined by an older twin sibling, walking about in a desert filled with white.

-

Madoka was playing NASU, a famicom game about catching falling eggplants, when suddenly someone knocked on her door.

Well, not knocking, exactly. More like dull thumps muffled by the wooden surface. Had her parents finally returned? Excitedly, Madoka dropped her controller and rushed forward. Her hands closed eagerly around the knob, and turned. She couldn't wait to see mama and papa again- they had come home and were waiting to greet her, she just knew it-

Something blocked the entrance. A body made of red, shining coils. Multiple eyes stared at her from a bird-like head.

The alien did nothing as Madoka looked at it, face filled with revulsion and dawning horror. For the sake of protection, she'd begun carrying a butcher knife in the pocket of her sweater. Pulling it out, she plunged the blade into the terrifying being before her, stabbing it over and over, long after it crumpled and shrunk away.

She had been screaming, but didn't realize it. Now, she stood over the thing's quivering form, tears cascading like waterfalls down her cheeks, throat raw and bleeding with pain. Clumsily, she pulled the door shut and sunk to her knees, coughing, desperately trying to keep waves of nausea at bay.

There was no telling what happened to her parents. But one thing was clear. False, perhaps, but an easy falsehood to believe: they weren't coming back.