NEW DRAFT IN #3
I know it runs a little long, but I don't want to entirely gut it. Maybe condense down to 800 words from 990. Thanks for your feedback!
ALAN’S memoir begins in L.A. rush hour the day before the BLACK SHIPS arrive. Despite being burnt-out by his career as a photojournalist, he is leaving his wife again for an assignment as a war correspondent. He hopes the time away will heal his broken relationship with his wife. But, the Black Ships will rip that plan apart along with the modern accomplishments of humankind.
The next morning, Alan is on the way to the bar to meet a friend from the Marine artillery unit he is about to be embedded in. His wife goes sailing with her family. Along the store fronts of Oceanside Boulevard, he runs into a young woman handing out pamphlets for a Christian outreach center. LYNN’s father and mother operate the center, and she cajoles him into going to their free breakfast. Alan flirtatiously indulges in her company expecting never to see her again.
Around noon, first reports of an invasion broadcast on the television above the bar Alan and his friend drink in. The news airs footage of beautiful CRYSTAL SHIPS awing crowds of thousands in Mexico. Minutes later sirens blare, and the public announcement system recalls all military personnel back to Camp Pendleton. Alan goes on base with his friend. A Black Ship arrives off the coast of San Diego. The craft hovers above blocking out the sky: it is more than four miles wide, and moves at a walking pace as it methodically pulls everything metallic up into it. Black Ships do the same to metropolises worldwide.
Alan is trapped on base as millions of refugees head northward on foot to escape the destruction. The Artillery unit Alan is with mounts a defense to buy time for the evacuation of Camp Pendleton. When the Black Ship arrives, it is undeterred by the high explosives hurled at it by hundreds of Howitzers. Marines die. Alan is nearly killed.
In the aftermath, he searches through the decimated city for a way north. Instead, Alan finds a camp of refugees led by people in white cloaks. The leader, SAM, says he is bringing people to the Crystal Ships leaving for the safety of another planet. Lynn is with the refugees; Alan finds her in a near catatonic state. In addition to the destruction, she has witnessed the rape and murder of her mother. The perpetrator is hiding among the refugees. Instead of leaving to find his wife, he stays by Lynn’s side on the way to the Crystal Ships.
Along the way, a survivalist militia stops the refugees and kills one of Sam’s followers. Alan negotiates safe passage. Sam asks Alan to join his mission promising a way Alan can find his wife. Alan agrees on the condition that Lynn stays by his side. Once aboard the Crystal Ship, he is taken to a small room. After having a metaphysical experience, he awakens outside the ship wearing the cloak of Sam’s followers.
Alan conducts several rescues with the Crystal Ships bringing in thousands of people from different parts of California. As time passes he notices disturbing changes in himself; he doesn’t thirst or hunger anymore. There are also lapses in his memory. His memories on board the ships are almost entirely blocked, except for one incident he has with Lynn. They witness naked corpses being unloaded from their Crystal Ship at a space dock.
Alan’s next memory is a gathering of Crystal Ships in the Yosemite Valley. The people working for the Crystal Ships praise the Black Ships for ending global warming, wars, industrialization, and returning earth to Eden-like state. They praise the Crystal Ships for choosing them to be the next evolution of mankind. The gathering is an orgy mixed with a cultish motivational seminar where Alan learns the dark truth: the Crystal Ships aren’t saving people, but gathering them like cattle instead. Humanity has brought metal ore to the surface for the Black Ships to harvest. Besides unwittingly laboring for the invaders, Humans are also their food supply.
Lynn escapes the gathering first. Alan tries to follow but is crippled by a resurgence of thirst and hunger. He is captured. Sam tries to convince Alan of the righteousness of their cause: that they are mercifully ending the lives of people who wouldn’t survive the new world anyway. A military airstrike ends the gathering in a rain of fire; the Crystal Ships are unharmed but take flight leaving many injured and dying followers behind.
Alan is picked up by the men sent to observe the damage. They take him to the cabin used as an operations center. Labeled as an enemy collaborator, Alan is interrogated and tortured for weeks. His fogged memory is perceived as deliberate aversion, and someone is reporting that he is giving incomplete answers. Alan discovers that person is Lynn when he is sent for execution…by her hand. She blames him for forcing her to take part in genocide, but, ultimately, extends him mercy.
Instead of execution, Alan is banished with the mark of treason cut into his cheek so that he cannot receive aid from other outposts. They do give him a few rations, a canteen of water, and a revolver with a single bullet.
The power of the Crystal Ships still influences Alan’s thoughts as he travels back to the devastated urban areas; they bring him to a harvest of refugees. Alan follows the crowd until he meets Sam. Before the Crystal Ship can take total control of Alan again, he kills Sam, then escapes.
His memoir ends in Monterey with a small community of survivors. They tell him about a large fleet of sailboats, fishing boats, and yachts that anchored in the Bay a week earlier. The fleet left following a Coast Guard cutter. One of the survivors recognizes the name of the ship Alan’s wife may have been on. Alan flags down a sailboat with the hope of catching up with the fleet and finding his wife.