THE INVADERS

Tonight's Episode – Spillage

The two men hauled the net up. Once again they were to be disappointed. Instead of the net being full of fresh fish it contained some dead fish.

"Gerry, I don't know what the hell is going on." Bob Waite shook his head.

Aboard the 20-foot trawler, Fleetwood, the two fishermen knew that the last few weeks were killing their livelihood. In fact in the small fishing community of Maryport, about 200 miles west of Portland, it was killing every fisherman's livelihood.

"It's the darndest thing for sure." Dejectedly Gerry replied.

They dispensed with the dead catch and Gerry piloted his vessel back home. For the past few weeks each fishing vessel had returned empty handed. Some had brought dead fish back with them. The sheriff had organised some environmental health agents to come down to investigate. The conclusion was the fish had died of natural causes. This didn't sit well with some of the fishermen but if a government agency had been on the case well maybe.

Back at the tiny port, Gerry and Bob made their way to Denny's Bar to have some beers and shoot the breeze with the 5 or 6 other regulars in there.

Tom Bilton had seen them come back and return again without any fish. Aged 60 he had lived in Maryport for the past 5 years. He ran the local drug store and liked the peaceful life that this sleepy fishing village afforded him. A naturally inquisitive man, he was convinced that something fishy was going on! Inside his store he made a telephone call.

"Hello, David?"

"Yes." The voice replied.

"This is Tom Bilton speaking. We met a while back if you remember at Phoenix Golf Club.

Edgar Scoville was an old friend of Tom Bilton's and in the past had played a lot of golf together.

"I remember Tom, what can I do for you?" David enquired.

"Can you come see me?" Tom asked. "Something is going on up here and it might be in your field."

"Architecturally?" David enquired.

"Not really David, more like alien." Tom announced.


ACT I

"A small fishing community in danger of its livelihood being wiped out. By natural causes or is their something more sinister? A phone call to a friend of a friend asking for help. For David Vincent the presence of The Invader threatens every single community on planet Earth. The Invader intends to wipe out humanity and is very much a sinister force. If there is even a small chance that the aliens are active, when David Vincent gets a call he always answers it."

David pulled up outside Maryport Drugstore and parked his blue 1967 Ford Mustang. Getting out his eyes surveyed the scene. Not big enough for a town yet not small enough for a village, Maryport was somewhere in between. The time was 11 am and the day was quite warm with some sun and patches of cloud. He peered in through the store window his right hand level with his eyes to shield the glare on the window. Inside Tom Bilton recognised the face looking in and came to unlock the door and let his visitor in.

"Tom." David said shaking the man by the hand.

"Thanks for coming David, we can go in the back to talk." Replied Tom.

Both made their way through the smallish, yet well stocked store into the back room that was a cross between an office, a kitchen and a lounge.

"Can I get you a drink?" Tom asked.

"I'll have a coffee please." Answered David.

Tom boiled the kettle on the little stove, added some coffee granules into a cup, 1 sugar and milk. Stirred in the hot water and handed the drink over to David. Both men were seated at a desk.

"I'm glad you managed to come at short notice." Tom began.

"Well when the 'A' word is mentioned, that usually gets me going pretty quick." David replied.

"I've lived here just over 5 years. It used to be quite a thriving community for the fisherman. Last few months they not been catching much, recently they been catching dead fish." Tom stated.

David listened, sipping his coffee. "Ok go on."

"Some of them seemed to think that the sea was polluted, no fish or dead fish, is really strange round here. It got so bad that now only two guys are left trying to make a living."

David nodded and lit a cigarette.

"Some people from the City Environmental Health came down and did some tests. They claim they found nothing to suggest any evidence of pollution and the tests they did on some dead fish and sea birds also show nothing untoward. Natural causes. It's too neat."

David stroked his chin as he listened. "What do you mean too neat?"

"Maryport is a small place. Those agency guys sure came quickly and after 3 days declared nothing further everything is ok. Seems too neatly packaged and slick." Tom said his tone suggesting a cover up.

"On the phone you said something alien." David responded.

"I have always kept an open mind about what you and Edgar are into. About 3 miles out of here and up the coast there is a disused factory and warehouse facility. I was doing a spot of walking up there recently and I saw some trucks unloading. The place has not been in use since 1956." Tom continued.

"Did you see what they were unloading?" David asked.

"Not really. Whatever it was it was in containers and packaging." Tom replied.

Outside the drugstore Sheriff Kincade was looking at the blue Ford Mustang and it was not a car he recognised. Out of town plates also. As well as being the sheriff for Maryport, his duties covered five other mini towns similar in size to Maryport. Due to them being spread out and all with small populations the job was relatively an easy one, a job he had been doing for about 9 months. The nearest big town was Rossall, 100 miles east. Maryport itself had a population of about 150 with an average age of 55. Fishing had been the main line of business but that was in jeopardy of total collapse.

"So we should go take a look." David suggested to Tom.

"Yeah, we will go in my car David if that's okay?" Tom answered.

"Good morning Tom." Said the sheriff as the two men exited the drug store.

"Oh hello there sheriff." Tom replied.

"Sheriff." David nodded to him.

"David here is an old friend of mine, come to visit for a few days." Tom said to the sheriff his hand indicating towards David.

"Well mister, it's a nice quiet place we have up here." Mused the sheriff to David.

"Catch you later." Tom said back as they both got into his car and headed off. The sheriff waved to them, Tom saw in his rear-view mirror.

As they drove David filled in Tom with information about the aliens, how they don't bleed, have no pulse or heartbeat, the mutated fourth finger and how they die. David told him how long Edgar and he had been involved with stopping the aliens. Tom listened to what was being said, words that sounded too far fetched. Then again he was open minded and ready to find out or try to find out for himself.

"Tom, in my experience it is often best to be suspicious of everyone and everything!" David continued.

"Yes I see what you mean." Tom replied.

"The aliens can infiltrate almost anywhere. Bogus cops, taxi drivers, workmen, lawyers, I've seen it all before. If what you saw adds up to be aliens, you can bet they are also within the community." David said seriously.

"We better be careful then when we get up there. I will park up in a quiet spot so we can be as inconspicuous as possible." Tom stated.

The green 1968 Ford LTD driven by Tom Bilton closed in on their destination. Off the dusty main road, the car pulled up under some trees. This should afford them some reasonable cover should anything turn sour.

"It's just over that way." Tom said, pointing. "About 500 yards."

"Okay let's go." Answered David.

The two men made their way through the overgrown grassy area keeping low and trying to keep out of sight as best they could. They moved as silently as they could and soon they could see the disused warehouses. Moving towards a safe spot both men scanned the scene looking for any sign of movement.

"Looks quiet out there." Tom said.

"It does but you should always expect the unexpected." Said David cautiously.

A wire fence surrounded the whole area. David observed the disused factory and he counted 5 warehouses. It did look very much deserted and the buildings looked in a dilapidated condition, paint flaking off, broken windows, boarded up windows. Further along the fence he could see the entrance gates complete with an old looking sign warning people to keep out. The large metal gates had seen better days, covered with rust. To all intents and purposes the whole place looked ready to fall down and was indeed disused and rotting. However, outside the entrance gates he could clearly see tyre tracks, not car tracks but obviously truck tracks. Looking back up at the gates he could see they were fastened together with a chain and large padlock. Neither of these looked old and rusty, in fact they looked new and shiny.

ACT II

A disused factory showing signs that it is in fact very much in use may not add up to the work of The Invader but David Vincent needs to be certain either way.

"Let's look a bit further this way." Suggested David.

Both made their way along the fence perimeter through the overgrown grass. They could see the fence extended right to the shoreline where it ended along a cliff edge. The cliff edge was not very steep and it led down to a sandy and rocky beach. David shook part of the wire fence. It rattled and did not look very strong, in fact it could be bent just enough to allow a man to crawl underneath.

"Are we going under to have a look around?" Tom asked.

"We can do." David replied. "First though I think we should take a look down there." David pointed down the cliff slope.

Carefully they made their way down. The slope was gentle although a bit loose underfoot as the soil crumbled and a few stones fell to the bottom. Once on the beach they scanned the scene just to make sure nobody else was in the area. Ahead of them they could see what looked like a waste pipe that seemingly extended from somewhere in the factory. It was covered in rust, moss and bits of seaweed dried hard that the tide must have brought in over the years.

"Look over there." Tom exclaimed.

David peered to where Tom was pointing and on the beach next to some rocks was a dead fish. They walked over to investigate.

"This is what some of the fishermen have been catching." Tom stated. "They have not bothered bringing any back, they just throw them overboard."

"Looks like the tide has washed this one up." David replied.

"I think we should take it back with us." Tom suggested.

"I don't really fancy having this for tea!" Joked David.

"Neither do I." Tom answered. "I was actually thinking we could do a sort of fish autopsy on it."

"You can do that?" asked David.

"Not like a coroner but I can test it and we can see what it died of." Tom told him.

"Well, it smells real bad, let's see if there is anything lying around we can put it in. I don't fancy touching it at this stage." David responded.

Amongst the bits of flotsam on the beach was some cargo netting.

"This would be perfect." David announced. "Wrap it in this."

With the dead fish wrapped safely in the cargo netting they made their back up the slope to the top of the cliff. At the top they placed the dead fish on the grass and turned their attention to getting through the wire fence. David managed to pull it loose and Tom on hands and knees went underneath. Tom held it back whilst David followed suit. Crouching low they ran towards one of the warehouses, backs to the walls when they got there keeping alert for any signs of people. David rubbed some dirt of a window and peered through. It was dark inside but there was enough daylight for him to see that it appeared to be empty.

"Nothing in there I think." Said David.

"Shall we search each one?" Enquired Tom.

"We can have a quick look. I think inside the factory is our best bet. Be alert just in case somebody is about." David replied.

They moved along to the next warehouse. The main doors were half open mainly due to the fact that they looked ready to fall apart. Inside there was nothing much of interest. A few broken crates, empty cola bottles, lots of dust and cobwebs and a couple of spiders scooting along the floor was all that they saw inside this warehouse. A search of the rest of the warehouses drew the same results. It would seem nothing out of the ordinary so far but the factory might hold something more exciting than dust and empty cola bottles.

The disused factory was a dull grey looking building made from steel and concrete that from the outside certainly had seen better days. The main entrance was bolted and boarded up with heavy-duty timber nailed shut tight. Any windows appeared to be impenetrable due to having vertical metal bars keeping people out. Standing on tiptoe David tried to look through a window. Unlike the warehouses, no daylight penetrated inside and he couldn't see a thing.

"Ok I think we split up and go around the building perimeter, see if we can find a way in. Meet back here in about 5 minutes." David stated to Tom.

Tom nodded in agreement, glancing at his watch to note the time. He took the clockwise route around the building while David went anti clockwise. Tom carefully walked along the edge of the factory. He noted a side door that again was boarded up and so continued his search. On the other side David had found a door that also seemed to be saying 'no way in.' However something about it intrigued him. Fresh shoe prints in the dusty path, leading in and away from the door. There were also small wheel tracks, the kind that a sack truck would make. The footprints went off in the direction of the rear of the building. David approached the door and grabbed the wooden plank across it. The door began to loosen and open slightly. This was a way in and also a clever disguise to make it look boarded up too he thought.

A noise to his left made him spin round quickly. He had heard a car engine approaching in the distance and the crunch of gravel under the car tyres as it neared. Tom had also heard the approaching car and made his way back to the agreed meeting point. David had reacted quickly to the sound and was waiting for Tom. Using the building as cover they tried to spy who was in the approaching vehicle.

"Can you see who it is?" Tom asked in a low tone.

"It looks like a cop car?" David answered. "We need to keep out of sight just in case."

The police car had now reached what used to be the car park forecourt. The white lines marking each designated space had nearly faded out completely.

"Is it the sheriff?" Asked Tom.

"I can't tell from here, it doesn't say sheriff on the side but I can't see who the driver is." David replied.

The driver of the police car was scanning the factory for any signs of life. He clicked on the CB radio transceiver "I am checking the factory. Nothing to report yet."

The police car drove past the far side of the factory and did another circuit before stopping again outside the front entrance. David and Tom kept hidden, peeping round the wall to see what was happening. The cop just sat in his car debating whether to get out and have a look on foot or not.

"Factory looks all clear. Will return to base." He said into the transceiver.

Driving slowly with one last glance the police car made its way off and out of sight. David and Tom waited until they could no longer hear the sound of the engine before they decided on their next move.

"I have found a way inside." David told Tom. "Down this side there is a door we can get in."

"Ok." Tom nodded.

Now facing the disguised boarded up door David pulled on the cross beam until it was open far enough for them to go in. Carefully and silently they both squeezed through the door and were in a corridor. It was dark and smelled musty and damp. Along the corridor they walked until they came to what would have been a staff room back when the factory was in full operation.

"Have you any idea what this factory used to make?" David asked Tom.

"I don't know David." He answered.

David paused, he strained his ears. He was sure he could some sort of noise. It sounded like a low humming sound.

"Can you hear that sound?" He asked Tom.

"Yeah, kinda like a humming noise." He replied.

"Sounds like it is coming from down that way." David pointed towards one of the old workshops further along another corridor.

The blue paint was peeling off the walls of the corridor. A couple of notice boards were still fixed on the walls containing faded out clippings and memos. The floor was littered with paper and dust. The two men reached the workshop where the humming noise was coming from, stopped at the doors and peered in through the window. Inside they could just about make out that this part of the factory was far from being disused.

"Looks like a laboratory." David stated pushing the doors open.

Once inside they could see a whole range of equipment. There was a control desk of dials, gauges and computer consoles. They also saw chemical processing machines, various chemical and gas bottles and lots of test tubes on a chemist's bench.

"What do you make of this Tom?" David asked.

"I am not sure." He replied. "Obviously somebody is doing some work or experiments here."

David continued to explore the workshop. Even though they had discovered something, it didn't necessarily mean that aliens were responsible. In his mind he knew they would need to obtain tangible proof before taking things further. Searching the workshop he found some double doors at the far side. Through the door he found his tangible proof. In the next room were several alien regeneration tubes.

ACT III

The police offer looked around the car. It was unoccupied and he had not seen or heard anybody in the vicinity. He stood staring at the vehicle for a moment then opened the driver's door and the glove box. Pulling out some papers he noted an opened envelope. Flipping it round in his gloved hand he noted the name and address of the recipient. Ducking his head back out of the car he thoughtfully chewed his gum and closed the car door.

Inside the factory David and Tom studied the regeneration tubes.

"What are they?" asked Tom.

"I've seen these before, they are regeneration tubes. The aliens need to use them to keep their humanlike form on Earth." David replied.

"This is the proof we need then." Tom stated.

"Have you got a camera back at your place?" David enquired.

"Yeah and we can also develop photographs there too." Tom answered.

"We should go back and get it and then return here and get some pictures." Responded David.

The two men carefully made their way out of the factory moving with caution just in case anybody else was around. The coast was clear. They went through the opening they had made in the wire fence and collected the dead fish that Tom Bilton planned to do some tests on. Safely back at the car Tom headed back for home. The dead fish was placed in the trunk as the smell of it was quite overpowering.

Hidden in some bushes a few yards off the main road back to town the policeman saw Tom Bilton drive past.

"Target is en-route." He spoke into his radio.

"What is the plan when we go back and take some pictures?" Tom asked David as he drove.

"We would need to alert the authorities somehow. Thing is I don't know who we can trust out here." David answered. "The sheriff is most likely but we don't know if he is one of them or not."

"You think he could be an alien?" Tom asked slightly surprised.

"Maybe, they can infiltrate almost anywhere. We can call Edgar once we have photographic evidence." David stated sombrely.

As they went round a corner they were confronted by a middle aged man waving his arms at them. His car appeared to have broken down, the hood was open and steam was coming out. Tom Bilton slowed his own car down.

"Looks like some guy in trouble." Tom said bringing his car to a halt.

"Stay alert." David replied as the man approached them. Tom Bilton leaned slightly to his left sticking his head out the window.

"Howdy gentlemen." The man said. "I think my car has overheated, damn thing always causing me trouble."

"Can you not get it started?" Tom asked.

"Been trying a while, think the radiator has finally given up the ghost." Answered the man resignedly.

David had got out of the passenger side and came round to look at the stricken car. Steam whistled and hissed out from the engine. On the floor he could see a pool of water which had spilled out of the radiator.

"Sorry mister." David began. "I'm no mechanic but it looks like your radiator has indeed given up the ghost."

"You live locally? Tom asked, he did not recognise the man as being from Maryport.

"I'm visiting friends." The man replied.

As they conversed they could hear the sound of engine approaching. Into view came a police car that pulled up alongside them. The car had come from the direction of the factory.

"Having a spot of trouble?" asked the policeman.

The middle aged man answered. "My car broke down, these gentlemen kindly stopped to help."

"Hey officer, I think a tow truck is needed. He thinks the radiator is broken." David hollered.

"I was going to ask for a lift into town." The man asked David.

"Officer, my friend and I are not going straight back to town, could you give this gentleman a ride in?" David asked.

The officer batted away a bee that was buzzing round his car, his arm waving hard as the bee circled round his open car window. His arm waving was annoying the bee who took great umbrage to it and promptly stung him on his neck. The officer squashed the bee with his gloved hand and threw it to the floor.

"That should be okay." The officer replied getting out of his car.

"The nearest garage is in Alsager by the way." Tom said helpfully.

The policeman started to stagger. This caused the three other men to stare at him wondering what was happening to him. Slowly his skin started to glow.

"Kill them!" He gasped to the middle aged man.

The middle aged man went for his pocket. David was on high alert and leapt at the man as his hand reached for his pocket. The policeman was now fully glowing red and moments away from turning into ashes. David grappled with his foe who raised both his hands above his head fingers interlocked into a one giant fist and thumped David on the back of his head. This caused David to let go of the man and fall away. Tom Bilton as soon as this had started quickly got out of his car. The policeman disintegrating and David's fight had all begun as quick as a flash.

The man now had a laser gun in his hand and fired. The shot missed David by inches but took out the police car which glowed red then vanished. David grabbed some dirt off the road and tossed it in the air towards the man which temporarily blinded him. The precious seconds gave David enough time to launch another attack. He wrestled the man's arm trying to dislodge the laser gun from his grasp. The man brought his right knee up into David's groin which made him gasp and recoil in pain. As he was about to shoot at David a knife embedded itself in his chest. He fell backwards glowing and fizzing red before disintegrating into a pile of ash.

"You okay David?" Tom asked helping him to his feet.

"Just winded thanks." David winced. "Where did you learn to throw like that?"

"I'm a D Day veteran David still remember a thing or two from those days." Tom informed him.

David had composed himself now and got his breath back. He took a cigarette out of its packet and lit up.

"I take it these two guys were aliens David." Tom said.

"Yes. Thing is they somehow know about us now which changes everything." David answered.

"What are we going to do now?" Tom asked in a concerned manner.

"We should go back to your place and telephone Edgar and work out what our plan should be from now on." David stated. "At some point these two are going to be missed by the aliens. We don't know how many others there are or who they are if they are back in town already."

The two men got back into Tom Bilton's car and headed back for home. They pulled up outside and quickly hurried inside.

"Tom, we need to get that fish out of your car." David reminded him once inside. "I think you should cover it in a sack or a blanket so nobody sees what it is."

"I have one in the trunk David." Tom replied. "I will bring it in. You can use the telephone in the back to call Edgar."

David sat down and lit a cigarette. He picked up the receiver and dialled the number.

"Edgar, this is David."

"Hello David, how are you getting on?" Edgar asked.

"We've run into a bit of trouble." David answered.

"Ok David go on."

"Tom and I went to investigate the place where he thinks the aliens are using it for the activities. We found a disused factory and a whole load of equipment and regeneration stations."

In his office Edgar was making notes of his conversation.

"On our way back we encountered two aliens who tried to attack us. They are dead but it means of course they are alert to our presence."

"Are you two alright?" Edgar asked concern in his voice.

"Yeah we are fine. Tom is going to conduct an autopsy on a dead fish we found. We believe the aliens are polluting the sea around here and it's killing the fish and any other marine life."

"Hmm, a fish autopsy! That sort of thing is right up Tom's street, he always was interested in that sort of thing." Edgar replied.

"It might show it died from deliberate pollution or not. We had planned to go back and take photographs of the place so that we had hard evidence of the alien's presence." David continued.

"It might be too dangerous now David, they know you are there and the two you killed are going to be missed soon." Edgar responded with urgency and real concern now in his voice.

"There is a sheriff in town but I don't know if he his human or is one of them." David answered.

"It is too risky to go back to take photographs David. I am going to make some calls and get some help to you. I will call you back within a half hour." Edgar stated.

"Okay Edgar, I will wait for your call." David replied and then hung up.

Tom Bilton was busying himself with his dead fish and was ready to perform an autopsy. This was not a common procedure but Tom knew the basics of what he was looking for and what tests he could carry out. At a basic level of course, but he was confident he could discover the nature of its demise.

He cut the fish open and took a sample from inside. Tom placed it onto a slide and put it underneath his microscope. Peering through he studied it and scribbled a few notes onto a pad. He bent down closer to the slide and smelt it. Stroking his chin in a thoughtful way he nodded his head.

"Any ideas doctor?" David asked in jest.

"Pass me that book please David." Tom replied pointing in the direction of a large leather bound book. He flipped through a few pages and studied a couple with a furrowed brow.

"I think it is Diethyl Ether." He announced.

David looked puzzled and shrugged.

"That smell in the air. It is very characteristic of it, a sweet smell. Although it is many years ago, I went to med school and I remember studying this."

"What is it?" asked David.

"It once was used as an anaesthetic and also is used in cocaine and some fuels. It is also highly flammable and interestingly tends to float on water." Tom stated.

"Hmmm." David murmured tapping his fingers on the table.

"This stuff could I guess in theory kill the fish as they may be put to sleep and drown. That factory had chemical cylinders in it and other stuff so I think it is reasonable to suggest it all links in." Tom suggested.

"That could explain why all the fishermen caught was dead fish or they caught no fish at all." David replied.

"David you are more familiar with what these aliens want and how they operate." Tom said.

David looked at his wrist watch. "Edgar said he would call back in 30 minutes. It's been 45 minutes, I'm gonna call him."

David picked up the receiver and placed it to his ear. He heard no dial tone. Pressing rapidly on the phone he heard nothing. "Hello, hello, operator." Still nothing.

"The line is dead." He told Tony.

ACT IV

"Yes operator that's right. I want 547820 Maryport." Edgar told the operator with urgency in his voice.

"I'm sorry sir the line is unavailable." She informed him. "There could be a technical problem. I would try again later."

Edgar rubbed the back of his neck and let out a sigh of exasperation. There could be a fault on the line but given the circumstance of what was happening in Maryport Edgar knew it was too much of a coincidence.

He leaned over his desk and pressed the talk button on his intercom.

"Julie, can you call to get my plane ready to leave immediately and have my car brought to the front." Edgar ordered.

"Of course Mr Scoville." she confirmed.

David carefully peered out of the window looking up and down the street. Nothing out of the ordinary caught his eye. Tony had tried the telephone again but the line was still dead.

"We need to try another telephone." David suggested. "See if theirs is working."

Tom considered this. "We can try the one over at Denny's Bar."

Inside Denny's Bar a few locals were enjoying a beer. Denny waved at Tom and David as they walked in. Gerry and Bob were sat at the bar. They had decided not to bother going out in their fishing boat that day.

"Hi Denny." Tom said to the bar owner. "Is your phone working, mine is not?"

"Erm I've not tried to be honest Tom, you can try the one in the back next to the restroom." Denny replied.

Tom and David went through the doors to the corridor out back which had a telephone near to the men's and ladies toilets. David lifted the receiver and shook his head.

"A dead line." He said.

Back out through the doors they asked Denny if his telephone behind the bar was working. Denny threw his beer towel over his shoulder and leaned over and picked up the handset. A shake of his head confirmed that his phone was also out of action.

"Let's go back to yours." David said to Tony.

As they passed through the bar door and stepped outside, Sheriff Kincade was hurrying towards them.

"Ah Tom, glad I caught up with you. We have had a message come through the wires for your friend here Mr Vincent."

"Who is it from?" David asked.

"Do you two gentlemen want to come with me to my office?" he enquired.

David thought about it for a moment. He did not know if the sheriff was an alien and whether this was some sort of trap.

"Yeah ok." He answered cautiously.

The three men headed over to the sheriff's office and went inside. The sheriff closed the door and checked up and down the street then motioned for them to take a seat. The sheriff sat down in his chair behind his desk and rummaged in his tray for a piece of paper.

"You said there was a message for me." David said impatiently.

"Yes I have received a message for you Mr Vincent and that is why I asked you to come over here, it's more private." He replied.

"Mr Vincent your message came from a Mr Scoville who says he is coming here urgently."

David's ears and senses were alert but he was also on his guard as he was unsure whether or not the sheriff could be a potential ally or was he one of them.

"I understand the telephones in the area are down but that is just one of a few strange things that are going."

"What do you mean sheriff?" David enquired.

"Well we don't get many out of town visitors here these days and I did some checking on you and the results were interesting." Continued the sheriff.

David was on high alert now and was unsure how this was going to progress.

"I have two eyes and a brain but I know when to keep my mouth shut." The sheriff said.

Tom looked at David slightly concerned. The sheriff could see his two guests were becoming agitated.

"Mr Vincent, I understand you claim that we are in danger of being attacked by beings from outer space?" he queried.

"That is what the police files say I guess." David answered.

"Tom, is something going on here in Maryport, is that way your friend has come and his friend on his way?" the sheriff spoke to Tom Bilton.

"What do you think?" Tom responded.

"I don't know, that's why I am asking you now. Something funny is going on. I can feel it, call it a hunch. Seems hard to believe to be honest, like farfetched."

David stood up from his chair and lit a cigarette.

"Sheriff, I could tell you a number of things, things you would find impossible to believe." David said.

"Try me." The sheriff replied also getting up from out of his seat and walking over to where David was standing.

"Can I feel your pulse?" David asked.

"Can you what?" the sheriff asked in a surprised tone.

"Can I feel your pulse?" David persisted.

A puzzled look was on the face of Sheriff Kincade.

"If you let me feel your pulse I will explain why." David continued.

The sheriff thought this was a bizarre request but pulled up his shirt sleeve on his right arm and held his wrist out turning it to the right to reveal the inner wrist. David placed his finger on the sheriff's wrist and waited. Through his fingers David felt the steady beat of blood flowing through veins.

"Happy?" asked the sheriff in a bemused manner.

"Have you got a pin?" David now asked.

"A pin? What for?" the sheriff asked totally bewildered.

"Have you got one?" David repeated.

The sheriff opened a draw in his desk and passed a pin to David. As soon as he had passed it to David he jabbed the pin into the sheriff's finger and it began to bleed.

"What the hell are you doing!" roared the sheriff.

"I'm sorry sheriff I had to be sure." David said.

The sheriff sucked his bleeding finger. "Be sure, the only thing I will be sure of is you behind bars."

"Please, sit back down sheriff; I had to make certain that you were not one of them." David said calmly.

"Them? You referring to these spacemen? The sheriff asked sitting himself back down and dabbing his finger now with a tissue.

"Sheriff they exist and they are here. Here on Earth and right here in Maryport." David informed him. "It may sound crazy but look at the facts. The fishermen have had their livelihood wiped out. The phone lines are down. Tom knows they are here. He is not a crack pot, you know him."

"It is true sheriff we saw some of them today. They are using the abandoned factory outside of town." Tom stated.

"You said yourself something strange is going on. Edgar Scoville is an associate of mine. It will take him hours to get here." Said David.

"Ok listen." The sheriff began. "You said you would explain."

"The reason I wanted to check your pulse and stabbed your finger is because the aliens have no pulse or heart beat and they don't bleed when they are cut. I had to make sure you were not one of them." David explained.

"I must admit the thing that has been happening to the fishermen is mighty strange and I've got you two sane gentlemen telling me insane stories." The sheriff puffed out his cheeks.

"The phone lines are not just down. I think the aliens have tampered with them. On our way back earlier two of them tried to kill us." David said seriously.

"Sheriff, what David is saying is true. This is why I asked him to come and see the factory. He is an expert in these matters." Tom interjected.

"They know that we have discovered their presence. This means we are in danger. Edgar may not arrive in time to help. Can you radio for some assistance?" David asked.

"The radio is not working either." The sheriff confessed worryingly. "I tried it again before I found you in Denny's Bar. Just get a load of static."

"Do you have a deputy in town?" David enquired.

"He is out somewhere, cannot get hold of him and he should have been back by now." The sheriff admitted with growing concern.

One by one they realised that if they were to tackle the alien invaders then they would have to do it together and that they had no way of communicating with the outside world.

"What do you suggest we do now Mr Vincent?" the sheriff asked.

"Tom and I had planned to go back to the factory and take some photographs so we had hard evidence of their presence." David replied.

"What are they doing up there?"

"It looks like they producing chemicals and dumping them in the ocean. That is why the fish have died or have moved away." David informed him. "Trouble is now they know we have found them, it kind of changes the rules of the game."

The sheriff rubbed his eyes, this was a lot to take in.

"They usually keep their operations low key to avoid the spotlight. Usually they will either eliminate those that discover them or close down and vanish leaving no trace that they ever existed." David said.

"I think we should get ourselves up to the factory and take a look. I need to see these things you have spoken about myself." the sheriff announced.

"We better go armed in that case." David replied.

"Don't worry about that Mr Vincent. I've got plenty of fire power, shotguns and ammo." the sheriff responded.

The sheriff unlocked his weapons store and passed a shotgun each to David and Tom and also a couple of boxes of shotgun shells.

"We will go in my car." he informed them.

There was no traffic on the road as they made their way towards the old factory. David sat up front and loaded some shells into the chamber of the shotgun. Tom Bilton was sat in the back and did likewise.

"Pull up over here sheriff." David suggested. This was the spot Tom and David had parked up when they had been earlier to the factory.

"Sure thing." the sheriff replied. He eased his police car underneath the cover of the trees and killed the engine.

The three men got out of the car and looked over in the distance at the factory. From where they stood it looked as it was supposed to, disused and abandoned.

"We need to move carefully just in case they are on the look out." David told the others.

Keeping low they made their way towards the factory ducking between the trees until they had reached the part of the fence David and Tom had squeezed through previously.

"We can get through this gap." David said.

Pulling the fence back slightly, the sheriff then Tom went through and David followed.

"Tom, will you carry the camera?" David asked.

"Yeah." he replied putting the strap over his head and the camera nestled safely at his side.

Again keeping low the three men ran quickly to take cover alongside one of the warehouses. Inching slowly along David peeped his head around the corner to take a look. He could see 3 trucks parked near to the factory entrance. He could not see or hear any aliens.

"They have got some trucks parked outside." he informed the others.

"Can you see anyone there?" the sheriff asked.

David shook his head.

Inside the factory the alien leader was directing operations. He was unsure if the intruders had been able to alert any of the authorities. As soon as he had gotten wind of a problem he had the telephone lines cut and radio transmissions blocked as a precaution. Their experiments in polluting the oceans without detection had been a success. Although the experiments had only so far killed fish and marine birds, they had successfully proven their ideas. Now that there was a risk of them being discovered the leader was planning for them to pull out. All the equipment was now loaded up in the wagons and they were nearly ready to leave. He was checking over the final details as they needed to leave no trace of them ever having been there. Anyone else that came snooping would only find evidence that the factory was long disused and they would be none the wiser of the aliens presence.

"Tom, take some pictures of the trucks, we need as much evidence as we can find." David said.

"David look, there are people getting into the trucks!" Tom exclaimed.

David and the sheriff leaned round the corner and saw several men clambering into the cabs of the trucks. They then saw and heard a car reverse from behind one of the trucks and the alien leader climb inside.

"They are trying to get away." the sheriff cried.

From their hiding place the sheriff moved out and was instantly spotted.

"Sir, intruders over there." one of the aliens pointed out.

Three alien guards emerged from the factory entrance and started shooting. The sheriff hit the deck fast. David fired his shotgun towards the aliens.

"They will find nothing." the alien leader said to his driver and nodded his head.

The trucks fired up their engines and began to move away.

"Sheriff stay down we will cover you." David urged as he and Tom blasted away. This was of little effect as their weapons were not suitable for long range shooting.

"David, what is that noise?" Tom asked while letting out a gasp of pain.

The three men could each hear a loud shrill piercing pulsating sound.

"I'm feeling dizzy!" David exclaimed.

Tom had now dropped his shotgun and had his hands clenched against his forehead. Moments later the three of them passed out.

The alien leader looked on as his car drove away to follow the trucks that were now on the move.

David opened his eyes. Fuzzy at first he focused on Tom. Then he turned his head towards the sheriff who was lying prone. All three of them were on the floor.

"Tom, you okay?" David sighed.

"My head." Tom answered.

"Can you move?"

"I feel sick." he replied.

David gradually got to his feet and went to help Tom Bilton up. The sheriff was now coming round and staggered up to his feet.

"They have gone." the sheriff said dejectedly.

The three now noticed that their shotguns and the camera had vanished.

"Lets look inside anyway." David said resigned to the thought they would find no traces.

David and Tom led the sheriff inside to the area of the factory they had explored previously. They stood and looked. A few rusty old barrels and smashed up crates they noted. Inside the room they saw a long siezed up piece of machinery and pipping that led out to the sea. It looked like a typical long abandoned factory with no signs that anyone had been there for years.

David kicked the dirt in frustration. "Nothing."

"No proof of anything i'm afraid David." Tom uttered. "And without the camera we cannot even prove that someone was here at least."

"Back to my office now gentlemen." the sheriff suggested.

They left the building and headed back to the sheriff's car. David gave one last glance back ruefully before getting into the car. The sheriff turned the key and nothing happened. The car spluttered as it tried to start. Again he tried. Still nothing. The three men looked at each other and without saying a word knew they would have to walk back into town.

Epilog

Edgar Scoville was sat in the sheriff's office waiting for them to arrive. He had not long been there when the three walked in.

"David, you alright?" he asked.

David lit a cigarette and exhaled a long plume of smoke out.

"They got away and cleaned the place out. You will never find a trace they were here." he said slamming his fist on the table.

"Sheriff, my name is Edgar Scoville, David is one of my associates and Tom Bilton is an old friend."

"Mr Scoville, these two gentlemen told me about you. As Mr Vincent says there seems to be no trace your aliens were here." the sheriff replied.

"You okay Tom?" Edgar enquired.

"I'm okay thanks Ed." he answered.

The mood in the room was quite sombre. They sadly had no proof that anybody had been at the old factory. David had been down this road so many times. He may have gained some extra witnesses but again was empty handed in terms of an alien item or photographic evidence.

"David, I managed to check out some of those things you asked about. According to the City Enviromental people, they never had any requests or sent anyone down here." Edgar informed.

"Covering the tracks at every step." David replied.

"You said they did this." Tom interjected.

"So what happens now?" the sheriff asked.

"Nothing." David replied. "Even if we make it known, there is no proof. Happened before and you can end up discredited without any tangible proof."

"We just carry on as normal then?"

"That's about the extent of it sheriff." David said his mood easing now. "You and Tom can join our group of witnesses when we get our day in Washington."

The sheriff smiled. "Yes, you can be sure of that."

Edgar stood up. "Tom, I suggest we go over to your place for a catch up then David and I will have to head off."

The sheriff shook hands with each of them and bade them goodbye. When they had gone he sat down in his chair and rubbed his eyes. He had a bad headache coming on and swallowed some pills with a large glug of water.

"As David Vincent and companions made their way home he reflected on a near miss. The residents of this small fishing community would remain unaware of the aliens who had been among them. They would remain unaware of what caused their livelihoods to be on the line. In time the seas would clear and the fish return. They would continue their lives as normality returned. David Vincent was always aware of the alien presence. His life would never return to normality. The Invader had been forced to move on. This was a victory of sorts. A small battle won. The war would continue."