Just cleaning this one up before I get working on the sequel to 'Survival'. I've fixed some of the typos and the stuff that would make my English teachers faint- the only other thing I've changed is Rachel's age. It may have been stretching things a bit to have the war last that long...but it was a pretty bad war, all the same. To put it mildly. Heh.


Forgotten

Human beings have short memories.

As soon as they got the newspapers and the Internet up and running again- and it didn't take them long at all- this is what I read and saw: people pushing other people out of the way of the tripods to safety, and people pushing working cars with people still in them over the edges of cliffs. People giving other people shelter in their houses, people throwing their parents or grandparents out to survive on their own. People seeing other people getting killed- all sorts of people, every sort of person who ever walked on the earth. The aliens didn't care who they were killing.

We did.

My family survived intact, for the most part. My uncle and aunt and cousins- they were all dead. So were my other grandparents. And of course there was the baby, who would have been a sister, my younger sister- it died. It didn't stand much of a chance, because there were no real hospitals anymore, and because of all my mother had been through. It wasn't fair- but the rest of us were still alive.

However, half of the world was dead. Including the president, and most other world leaders. All the major governments. There would have to be other people put into power, and quickly.

That was how the other wars started.

Every country blamed every other country for not predicting the Invasion, although nobody could have done- or- well, I know nothing about these things. But it wasn't possible for things to get back to normal just because the aliens were dead- the first bomb was dropped barely a year afterwards.

I was still very young then. I had nightmares about the tripods almost all the time- now I had nightmares about the bombs as well. I thought humankind was trying to wipe itself out on purpose, and maybe I was right.

They- the new leaders of the country- had begun to examine the tripods almost as soon as they started falling down. They left them where they fell, mostly, and began to rebuild around them instead. There might even be a few still there; I wouldn't know. But of course, before long, every warring nation got the same idea: let's be like the aliens, let's kill people in horrible ways.

They had heard- I don't know how or why or when- that my father had managed to bring down a tripod, when they were still active and murdering people. They thought he would be useful to them, for this- and since their country's population had beeen so drastically reduced, useful people were in short supply. They asked for his help; he said no. He told them he'd seen what damage the machines were capable of, how terrible it was, and how in the hands of humans it would almost be worse.

They promised to make him a rich man; he said no.

They promised to make it so he'd never have to work again in his life; he said no.

They promised to make him a millionaire and a leader, with anything he wanted given to him freely; he said no.

So they shot him.

They said at the time that it was an accident- even gave us money to compensate for it. Later, of course, they said that he was a traitor to his country, and deserved what he got. I say only this to them: if he was a traitor to his country- and only from their perspective could he be- he was no traitor to the entire human race, which is what I believe them to be.

My mother lived for longer than he did, althought she never quite recovered from losing the baby. I think guilt ate away at her as well: we had returned to her, after all. She told me as much.

My stepfather was killed when the helicopter he was riding in was shot down, my grandparents were killed when our house was bombed. My brother- the great survivor- was shot for cowardice: he simply couldn't take any more death and destruction and refused to fight. This was the final blow to my mother: she died a year later, and I know she would much rather have lived.

My father was no traitor, my brother no coward, my mother no weakling. War warps the world. I was ten years old the first time I heard a tripod, I was thirteen when I heard it again after they finally got one up and running, I was barely a day older than sixty-six when the war was offically declared over. But people are still mistrustful, people still speak with anger and suspicion, there are still laws in existance which are cruel, thoughtless and stupid. We forgot- we forgot so quickly- how small we all were. How we were all equally insignficant.

But.

A few days after my father died there was a knock on the door: it was a boy who I'd never seen. He'd brought chocolate for me- it was hard to come by at this point. When I asked why, he said "Because they were very, very wrong, and your father was right."

He later became my husband.

And also, in the days that followed, people came in from all over the place- and not only Americans, people from all over the world, some who weren't even supposed to be in the country because they risked getting killed. They stayed in the house with us. A girl who had been orphaned in the Invasion brought us sweets- she was only two years younger than me, I kept in touch with her- and people left flowers, too, so many flowers we had to shift huge piles of them outside of the house.

So.

That is my story, and undoubtably there are many more like it. I know that there is no family anywhere left intact after both the Invasion and the Wars. I know that the people who shot my father and brother are all dead. I know there are people in all the corners and cracks of the earth trying to make it heal again.

I find it satisfying, if not reassuring, that- through tragedies and terrors, through technological advances and alien invasions- humankind, in all its good and its wickedness, remains essentially the same.