Allan didn’t need the glasses to read but he did need them to survive.
He took a seat in the back of the coffee shop where he had a clear view of everyone coming and going. He had ordered the establishment’s trademark latte more to blend in than because he liked it.
To the world around him, he looked like a middle-aged man, blond, athletic, bronzed from the sun. He could have just finished a game of tennis or golf.
In front of him was a mystery novel by a well-known author whose name was, as they say, a household word. And yet Allan couldn’t have told you any other books the writer had penned. Like the latte, it was camouflage. Even his name was misdirection and subterfuge.
He turned to the first page, but he wasn’t conscious of the words or sentences. He knew how to appear to be reading, but every so many seconds, he would briefly look up to see who was coming in. Then he’d look down, turn the pages regularly, again looking up and continuing the pattern.
The lenses gave the world a slightly yellowish tint, but the people still looked like ordinary people.
He didn’t have anything against them. In fact, Allan was quite neutral about the inhabitants. This was simply the environment chosen as the battlefield. Allan had gathered intelligence last night that said his adversary would be coming here for a refreshment this morning, in a few minutes in fact. He reached into his pocket. The object was small and deadly. This was a war he intended to win.
Look down, pretend to read, look up momentarily, look down, take a sip of the cooling latte, turn the page, look up, look down, pretend to read, look up.
Wait! The adversary. No. He was at the door but something must have tipped him off because he walked away before Allan got a good look.
The glasses let him view the adversary as an aura of yellow and orange light. He’d have to take them off to see the outward appearance.
Maybe he forgot something. Was he wearing glasses too? He shouldn’t have been suspicious. Allan left no clue he had laid a trap. But if the adversary were wearing his glasses, he would recognize Allan for what he was. That would have been enough to scare him away.
Wait or leave? If the adversary were warned off, Allan would have to come up with a new plan to track him. However he decided to stay a little while longer, just in case.
He felt an impact from behind, but it wasn’t an attack. His glasses fell on the table and his half consumed cup of latte spilled on the book’s open pages.
“Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t…Allan! What a surprise. I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”
“Cynthia. Uh, I just stopped off for my morning latte. What are you doing here?”
Cynthia was his informant, not that she knew it of course. After a great deal of research, he discovered that she worked for the adversary as some sort of assistant or scheduler. She was aware of his movements and, feigning romantic interest, Allan had seduced her last night to acquire information. He knew the adversary regularly visited this establishment but Cynthia had failed to mention she also patronized the shop.
“Oh, the Boss was running late so he asked me to pick up his coffee for him.”
“How did you…I mean, I didn’t see you come in.”
“I’m parked in the alley so I came in the back way.”
“The back…” Allan realized his plan had a serious flaw. He had been convinced that there was only one way in or out except for the service entrance available only to employees.
“I’ve really made a mess. Here, let me get you some napkins for this,” she waved a hand at the spilled latte and the stained book pages.
“Really, it’s no…”
But she’d already gone to the counter and was retrieving the items. As she turned back, she reached into her purse.
Allan had set aside the book, separating it from the latte as best he could. He picked up his glasses and put them on. Looking up, he saw Cynthia, only in a way he hadn’t expected. She was the adversary and she was wearing her glasses as well.
“Too late, Allan.” He was reaching into his pocket when she fired. There was no visible or audible discharge, but he knew he was fatally wounded. She returned the glasses and weapon to her purse and then screamed.
“Oh my god, I think he’s having a heart attack.” Several other patrons helped Allan to the floor and one was providing medical assistance. He was aware of someone else calling 911 but it wouldn’t make any difference. His nervous system was compromised terminally. He was completely paralyzed and had less than a minute to live.
His last awareness was of Cynthia slipping out the back again. She had won. Her side had won the war. The consequence for the world losing the war was to consent to their population committing mass suicide. It was the only way to honor their agreement.
Two soldiers land on a neutral world, in this case Earth. They are confined to a single geographic area, a city, and then attempt to discover the other’s identity, and accomplishing that, terminate their adversary.
Allan thought he had been quite clever, but obviously Cynthia was the more cunning. Now her people would survive, and like Allan, his species would perish.
Earlier today, I had participated in a flash fiction writing challenge with these fine folks. The photo prompt was a pair of sunglasses perched on top of a large coffee mug.
One of the writers chose a science fiction theme involving aliens and that made me think of the 1970 made-for-TV movie The Love War starring Lloyd Bridges and Angie Dickinson. It wasn’t a great film. In fact it probably wasn’t even very good, but I was only about 15 or 16 when I saw it for the first time.
Anyway, the idea of two aliens using Earth as a battlefield, hunting each other in human disguise, detectable only by special glasses kind of appealed to me, so I decided to write this wee tale (less than 1,000 words not including this commentary).
I’ve also been hammering away at the next chapter in my time travel series and homage to the works of Andre Norton (Alice Mary Norton), but it’s kind of time consuming (pun not intended).
I rewrote the story to create a different conclusion. If you’re interested, click on I See You: An Alternate Ending and have a read. Don’t forget to comment.