These Two Imposters by Patricia Stoner

The exercise of the month was to write a short story on the theme “They or We have landed”


For nine months we have waged this weary war. We shall overcome. The monsters who haunt our nightmares will be defeated and we shall triumph. Our chieftain tells us so, and he has looked the enemy in the face and walked away. Not unscathed, no – he bears the scars of the encounter – but he has survived and emerged stronger.

The monsters, the faceless ones, would tear down civilisation as we know it. If they prevail, our precarious peace with the tribes that surround us on all sides, long fought-for, will be smashed. Chaos and strife will rule where once there was harmony. When we trudge into the dark unknown, bearing our hopeful offerings of shells and skins, the roads will be barred before us, the dwelling doors shut, the children hushed away. No wampum from beyond the great waters will reach our land and we shall starve.

Ever closer they come. Soon we will face the day of destiny. We pray to the White God that we will never have to see them, to look upon these two-headed fiends whose fangs drip gore, whose multiple arms reach out to crush the very life out of us. We will prevail. The chieftain says so. The oracles say so. We whisper it before we sleep, we cry it out as we awake. We will prevail.

But still they come. The day of reckoning is upon us. We will prevail. We will prevail.

They’ve landed!

Our hopes and dreams lie beaten into the dust. Our chieftain has hidden his face in grief and shame. His enemies exult. As our tattered yellow flag sinks in defeat, as their blue banner rises triumphant, as we bow our heads in surrender, they stride towards us out of the smoke and detritus of a bitter war.

How extraordinary: they look just like us. Perhaps things won’t be so bad after all.


About Rosemary Noble

Writer, author, amateur historian and traveller
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