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Acceptable Losses

G. Allen Wilbanks is a retired police officer living in Northern California. For twenty-five years he wrote collision and crime reports during the day to pay the bills, and he wrote short fiction during his off time to stay sane. He recently retired from real life to devote his full attention to fantasy. He has published two short story collections, and recently released his first novel. For more information on his writing, visit gallenwilbanks.com, or check out his weekly blog at deepdarkthoughts.com.

I killed a man today.
I didn't do it on purpose. It was a mistake. I mean, I meant to kill him--I put my gun to his head and pulled the trigger, there was no mistake there--but when I cut out his heart, I realized that I had killed a human being.
He is not the first human I've killed. He won't be the last. That is the price I have had to pay as an alien hunter.
Acceptable losses.
You see, the aliens can make themselves appear to be just like us. Their disguise is almost flawless. Almost. You have to know what you're looking for to spot them: a slight awkwardness to their gait--they are not used to walking on only two legs--an odd body odor, certain mispronunciations of words.
But the only guaranteed way to identify the aliens without question is to cut them open. The creatures have no heart. When you open them up, the chest is empty.
Unfortunately, it is impractical to go around cutting into people's chests on the street, so I am reduced to watching for the little signs that separate them from us. You must be vigilant to spot the subtle differences. I am vigilant.
I have identified eight potential aliens, so far. They all had hearts when I cut their dead bodies open.
Acceptable losses.
The aliens are dangerous. They are a threat to the very existence of our race. They will not hesitate to wipe us out, so we must destroy them first.
Eight times I have killed. Eight times I have been wrong. I haven't actually found an alien, yet, but I know they are among us. I know they are!
Others don't believe me when I tell them. They don't believe the aliens exist, but I'll prove it to them. I must! To save them! I will continue to hunt the aliens, and if I must kill a thousand human beings before I find the proof I need, so be it. I must persevere, or we are all doomed.
What are a thousand lives when compared to millions if the aliens win?
They are among us. They are the enemy!
I am the alien hunter.
Fear me.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, May 10th, 2018
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