When They Came
by Kody Boye
Genre: YA SciFi, Horror
Now They're in our skies, on our streets, always watching, forever waiting.
At seventeen, I'm just about to graduate from the Juvenile Education System and declare my career of choice. The Midnight Guard—who protect our community from the vicious things that lie outside our walls—calls to me.
It’s hard, dangerous work, with grueling hours that offer little sleep, but it’s the one thing I know will help make a difference in our ever-changing world.
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It wasn’t long before I began to see Them—appearing on the horizon like fireflies. Winking into existence from seemingly nowhere, Their countenances were almost hidden but for Their silhouettes made visible by the moon. They walked limp-wristed, Their sickly claws poised like knives and Their gazes set on the people They couldn’t see.
They knew we were there. That much I was sure of. But what They were waiting for I couldn’t be sure.
I wanted desperately to ask Xio if she knew—for a moment of clarity to be shone upon an utmost spell of darkness—but knew I couldn’t.
Instead, I watched.
Minutes passed by slowly, the first hour like a ticking bomb waiting to go off at any moment. I heard an owl cry out in the distance and watched as the Coyotes tilted Their heads simultaneously to acknowledge the sound, then did the same to return Their focus to the walled apartment complex.
I didn’t know much about Them, why They did what They did or what Their true purpose was beyond scouting the world for potential Harvests. Rarely had They engaged with humanity, and so far as I knew, They’d never hurt anyone. But just because They hadn’t didn’t mean They couldn’t. And judging by the size of Their claws, They could do much more than just hurt.
I reached forward and pressed a hand to Xio’s shoulder as I caught sight of one of the creatures making its way toward the walls, unsure what to do or how to respond beyond warning her with a simple touch. She nodded and lifted a finger to her lips, raising a hand to sign toward one of our companions down the line.
A gun was raised.
A bullet was fired.
The creature fell a moment later.
The others—standing sentinel in the darkness—careened Their heads to face the source of the gunshot, but did not move. Rather, They stared with unwavering eyes, as if daring the rest of the Guard to open fire.
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Texas is beautiful. Its scale is enormous. Its topography is breathtaking. In some places there are rolling hills. In others there are swaths of land covered in wildflowers. Some lands have forests extending forever. Others have flat grasslands in which there are nothing but tall weeds. Anywhere you go in Texas, you are bound to find something unique.
Though born and raised in Southeastern Idaho, I moved to Texas to escape the rampant fundamentalism that existed in my area—and because of that, found my homeland. My decision to write the When They Came novels in the state I now live in primarily came as a result of that.
When They Came begins in Fredericksburg, which is a small town that stands in the Texas Hill Country about an hour-and-a-half away from the capital of Austin. Set in this area, the novel begins within a small, walled-in apartment complex community, and tells the story of one young girl’s desperate attempts to adapt to life six years after an alien invasion.
When I visited Fredericksburg several years ago, I was immediately struck with its beauty. Set atop the hills of Texas Hill Country, the road there is long and paved with bluebonnet wildflowers, along with woodlands that extend for as far as the eye can see. Several of my novels have drawn inspiration from the Texas Hill Country because of the absolute beauty they hold. However—all roses have their thorns, and when faced with an alien invasion, the Texas Hill Country—and the scale of the state itself—proves to be nightmarish for Ana Mia Berrios, the young woman whose story I tell in the novel.
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