Alien Invasion (Book 1): Invasion
    “If you’d shut up for a second and let me explain, I’d tell you!”  
    “Okay, okay.” There was an odd reversal in the air. Heather was the one with men on her tail, and Heather was the one who’d called in a panic. Meyer was safe, and yet he was the one coming slowly undone. The lack of control was getting under his skin.  
    He breathed. Tried to reset.  
    “Hold it by the grip with your left hand, finger away from the trigger. Then grab the slide — the part on the top — with your other hand and pull it back until it clicks, then let it slide forward. Just like in the movies.”  
    There was a loud racking sound on her end of the line.  
    “There’s a little switch on the side. Above the grip.”  
    “Looks like a little toilet flush lever.”  
    “Yes. Keep your finger off the trigger and flip it.”  
    “Now I see a red dot.”  
    “That means the safety is off.”  
    “And now I blow into the end where the bullet comes from, right, like this?”  
    “Stop it, Heather.”  
    “I’m kidding. Lighten up.”  
    The idea that she was telling him to lighten up, now, was too absurd for a reply.
    “Now what?” she said.  
    “Point it at whatever you want to go away. Then pull the trigger.”  
    “I can’t just …   what’s that beeping?”  
    Meyer heard it too. He looked around, then found the source. It was coming from his phone, blinking with a message that said, LOW BATTERY.
    He grabbed for his phone, then scrambled for the cord. But the phone had been giving him problems for months now, and he didn’t want to send it in to have the battery switched because he needed it. On cold days, it barely worked. More than once on his morning runs as the air had grown chill, he’d slipped the thing inside his shirt to warm the battery enough to keep it alive.  
    “Meyer?” came Heather’s voice, tinny with distance. He could hear her from far away as the speaker left his ear, as he tried to mesh plug with port. “Meyer, they’re shoving me off the road. They’re making me pull over!”  
    “Hang on!”  
    “Meyer, are you there? There’s one in front, and I can’t get around him, and he’s slowing down and—”  
    “Don’t let them pull you over! Don’t let—”  
    The phone’s screen went black as Meyer was still fumbling with the cord and port.  
    The call was broken, and Heather was gone.


    Day Two, Evening
    Bowling Green, Ohio  

    It was late.  
    The roads were quiet, almost deserted. It reminded Piper of her youth, of open skies away from the bright lights of the big city. They’d skirted Toledo to the south and remained on two-lane country roads. The only real signs of activity they’d seen, save the scant illumination inside the living rooms of single houses, was a parking lot’s worth of lights on an artery called I-75. There were a few twinkles coming from the south that seemed to be a berg Piper had never heard of called Bowling Green. But otherwise they could have been anywhere.  
    Piper was still in the left front seat, and Meyer was still in the right. If there was a need to take over manual driving, Meyer would have done it, but so far there hadn’t been, and they’d stayed put. Very little beyond polite, almost hushed requests had been said between the van’s occupants since Meyer’s phone had dropped Heather’s call. The ensuing silence seemed to be an unspoken moratorium, or a period of respect, like a moment of silence to honor the dead.  
    Piper tried to make Meyer feel better. She told him that Heather had a gun. She had it cocked, armed, and ready. Meyer had done that much. Thank God that call had gone through. It was almost too good to be true, as if someone above had made it happen. They hadn’t kept the line open, but Meyer had told Heather what she needed to know. There wasn’t more he could have done, anyway. If the call hadn’t dropped when the phone died, it would have merely given

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