The winter of 2015–2016 was dry for California. We spent all last summer hearing water-shortage warnings, the city dipped into hidden, secret reservoirs of water to make sure we all had enough to drink, and we were encouraged to report our neighbors if we saw them applying water to any concrete surfaces or overwatering. It was very apocalyptic-prep sort of weather.
When spring hit, it brought out the crane flies. In droves. You might remember the tales of my heroic bravery in dealing with their invasion.
This winter we had RAIN. Meteorologists threw around terms like “atmospheric rivers,” the creek near our house rose to near-record levels, and we battled (minor) backyard flooding and dug trenches and cleaned gutters in the pouring rain (and in the dark) more than once.
This spring, I waited for another resurgence of crane flies. It never came.
Instead, we got aliens.
One morning, after having the windows open all night, a tiny moth no longer than a centimeter (but much larger than the mesh of my screen) got in. Best guess: It teleported through the screen. This tiny alien settled in the sink and sat there while I brushed my teeth that morning.
I read while I brush my teeth. I know where the sink is; I don’t need to look. So when I spat out the toothpaste, I wasn’t watching for innocent bystanders I might hit. The tiny moth died in a tidal wave of minty spit.
That’s a terrible way to go. Death by drowning in (or from the impact of) the scented, foamy saliva of a creature 20 times your size is insulting, demoralizing, and plain horrific. As far as first contact goes, that’s grounds for an epic intergalactic war.
In response, they sent clones. The next morning, ten identical tiny moths clung to the stalks of the bathroom plant, trying to disguise themselves in its foliage—no doubt plotting my demise. I tried to make amends for killing off the first emissary by sparing their lives, but when I carried the plant outside and shook them off, they dropped to the ground as if lifeless. (This could have been a tactical ploy to make themselves look weaker than they actually were.)
The next day, more moths were back in the bathroom AND the kitchen. I brought out the vacuum. I tried to be peaceful (first murder notwithstanding), but I wouldn’t sit idle while they executed an all-out takeover of my territory.
The death of dozens of their soldiers hasn’t stopped them. Every day for the last week, we’ve had handfuls of moth-clones popping into the house, circumnavigating the screens with their mysterious technology. They flock to the rooms we’re occupying and spy on us. Who knows what information they take back to their home world.
Fortunately, they have very short lifespans. Unfortunately, I’ve been cleaning up a lot of clone carcasses. They almost always die with their legs in the air. It’s weird. They’ve taken to depositing their dead on my front doorstep, all their petrified, belly-up corpses darkening the silver sill.
Hey, maybe they’ve decided I’m a god and they’re making sacrifices to me. Or maybe they’re building for some mega invasion.
Either way, I kind of miss the crane flies.