art by Melissa Mead
by Brian K Lowe
My grandfather died the day the aliens landed.
They pulled Dan Rather out of retirement just to cover the news; I thought it was pretty unfair at the time, since Dan Rather was older than Grinpa, and it was Grinpa who was dying.
I called him "Grinpa" when I was little because he was always smiling, and pretty soon everybody called him that. Then he got sick and he stopped smiling all the time, but we still called him that because it made him happy.
We were all at the hospital when the news came on, after the doctor called Mom to tell her it wasn't going to be much longer. She came by the school to pull Keith and me out. My teacher, Miss Willauer, got a note from the principal. After she read it, she told me to go to his office.
Mom was waiting there with Keith. He was already there because he was only in the first grade and their room was closer to the principal's office than the sixth-graders', where I was. I knew why Mom was there as soon as I saw her. Her face was sad like she was going to cry, but she didn't cry, because Grinpa had been sick for a long time.
While we were driving to the hospital, the aliens were orbiting the earth about fifty miles above the ground. The Air Force was going crazy and the president was being taken to an underground bunker. Nobody else knew what was happening yet.