It was daytime. No, nighttime, but suddenly it became so light that the definition itself of night was erased from my memory.
I knew they were approaching. I didn't know who they were, or what they had come for. But there was something I realized with perfect clarity: whoever they were, they wouldn't handle us, humans, with much respect.
Then they came in the shape of zeros, and commenced to devour all.
Standing on the balcony, I could observe one of them descending to my level, across the street from me. Then a sudden flash of sound manifested the new victim: and instantly the house opposite to mine was transformed into a zero. Together, the two zeros floated around, as if in some game of mutual encouragement and long-awaited acquaintance. They existed in the form of sound, devoid of appearance. However, it was easier to locate them and to discern their circular shapes, than normal perception of human ears could ever allow. Ears had become eyes. Thus deprived of their priority, eyes became ears.
The relaxed levitation of the two zeros seemed to continue for hours, and yet I knew I had lost any perception of time. The zeros had rendered time useless, and any of its measurements insufficient, both in terms of precision and applicability.
Playfully, the zeros bit a corner off the next house across the street, and then, after some hesitation, finished it up. Mutilated bodies of its tenants were falling out of the windows, transforming into unidentifiable mass landing with a splash like the sound of tires on wet surface. Useless remnants of the past, household objects were floating around supported by an unknown energy field that prevented them from falling. An ironic mass-annihilation exhibition had started.
Then I noticed that the zeros were approaching. There were four or five of them now: I could hear it with all the clarity of impossibility. Visually, everything was the same, as if the looks of the surrounding area had been preserved in a hologram. And yet, I knew that nothing had remained unchanged. This was my last thought as a human, since a moment later the zeros came and devoured my building.
Now I was a part of them. I was a little zero within a big one. My existence contributed to the overall existence of zeros. I could feel smaller zeros inside me, as well as bigger ones outside me, all of them neatly combined into one structure which had been unclear to me before the transformation.
The smaller zeros remained in continuous circulation, supplying the energy to the bigger ones. Those were responsible for maintaining the energetic supplies of the most pronounced zeros, who after a certain time would cease to be that way and return to the lower level in the hierarchy to serve as the basis in the society of zeros. Thus, the democracy of zeros was insured.
In the world of zeros, everything was perfect!
For the first time did I realize that zeros were actually spheres, not circles, and thus existed in three dimensions. Simultaneously, I could examine the inside and the outside surfaces of other zeros, invariably noticing that the former were somewhat darker than the latter, with few exceptions. The outside surfaces were also smoother, as though they had been polished by the friction of space and time.
Together with other zeros, we proceeded to devour more matter. The surfaces of the devoured structures were instantly transformed into the skin of zeros, providing material for more and more of us.
I was happier as a zero than I had ever been as a man. However, having been one quite recently, I cannot yet rid myself of futile sympathy towards this doomed species. Such is the reason that prompted me to publish this testimony. Revealing the secrets of my tribe this way, I don't feel like a traitor, merely because no amount of information will possibly help the humans to prevent our victory.
The power of the absolute zeros is in their ability to multiply. By multiplication I now mean the mathematical operation rather than anything else: obviously, with one of the zeros as its participant, the result also equals zero, and so on. Thus - the reason for our great ability to increase our numbers. The only way to resist it would be in trying to divide oneself by zero, but it is almost impossible due to energetic reasons. And even if it weren't, the fate of infinity would seem as obscure and undesirable for any human being, as that of an absolute zero.
Indeed, the time of humans is over.
I can see them descending from the sky, like empty snowflakes, dwindling peacefully to the ground. I wonder what these rings could possibly mean? Perhaps they are the dot beneath the question mark, coming to solidify all the queries that have been posed from the beginning of time until now? Maybe they are the eyes of unseen faces, resting blindly somewhere on the side of a mountain in the Alps? Could they possibly have a mind, a sense of purpose, which would separate these tiny spheres from every other inanimate shape in the geometric spectrum? Look, one of them is rolling my way. I wonder if petting them would do much . . . Aaaahh! One of them has bitten me! Judith, take the kids and . . . !! It is devouring my . . .!! Please stop, please . . .
The world of normal existence seems to be evaporating before my very eyes. Their walls are being compressed, distorting the appearance of all things around me. A world of cylindrical formations heaved upon my breast! The zero has feasted on my entire torso, leaving behind the mauled stump of a body, which is contorting and reconfiguring into a zero!! What a fate! What a fate. What a . . .
Spin. Everything, not everything running around and around. Spin. Cannot concentrate no cannot see no cannot focus no cannot breathe no. Round and rounder getting more I eat, cannot stop, need. Eat to be round, round to eat. Horizon yes, Horizon no, horizon yes, horizon . . . no. Free bouncing on the tree, on the street, on the house, on the rock, on the person, encircling, enclosing, enveloping, enjoying. Spin.
Need no good reason for it. No happiness to work from no emotion to draw from, just desire to fulfill hunger. His hunger, her hunger, my hunger, intertwined into one hunger, one stomach, one heart, one mind, one zero. The child runs away, I roll. The mother runs away, I roll. Faster and faster. Spin. Until I roll to their feet. I play dead. Ha-ha. Spinning slower and slower until I fall, wobble to the ground. Family bends over to look. I spring! Roll right over them, I do. Take the mother and child in one, child snatched right from her arms. No more arms, just more zeroes. I am big zero, big empty.
We must gather and hunt. Gather and hunt. Migrate to food. Must make more zeroes, champions of the new earth. Spin. Want to stop no longer, cannot retrieve feelings. Must grow, must become bigger. Family a good start. What family? Gone. My family now, zeroes like me, with me.
Cold cold very cold. This is how it was. Very cold. The cold front was approaching. The very very very cold front approaching. The very cold front.
Very cold cold very cold. So it was, cold. Cold, and no warmer than this. Could hardly be any colder than this either.
And yet it could, very soon.
Shatter like glass the houses - cold cold very cold. Birds in the air frost in motion - very cold, and nothing but cold. Engaged in gauging in cajun cages. Half of laughter before of after. My mind cold, no think straight no more.
Suddenly I see the cold front. Cold, cold, very cold front. It cold. It can I see at last. It approaches in the shape of zeroxes. Roll they roll, large and small. Cold very cold for the young and the old.
By their approachment is measured the cold, the cold, and the very cold. Cold within everything, strip to the bone. Cold inside, strip to the cell. Cold cold freeze game.
Cold front up-front. Cold like gold. Zeroxes.
As I know that soon I shall be no more, I stare in bewilderment at the face of my death, like a circle or a sphere, the face of a zero.
So we proceed.
Devour all energy and become zero with us. With us is the future of the zero movement. Become zero with us and make them cold. They must be cold, the zero must reign. Advance and take the energy. We need this energy to be cold. Without this energy, we cannot be cold enough. We must devour to be cold. Be one of us and devour. Be one of us and be cold.
Stop all unnecessary molecular movement. Too much energy wasted no good. Too much no good. Make them cold, stop their molecules. Stop their molecules and make them cold. Make them cold, cold, very cold. Shatter them in the name of coldness. Be one of us and shatter them in the name of coldness.
If they ask you, "Why?" reply to them:
"Cold, in the name of coldness."
And if they do not understand, explain to them:
"Cold, truly in the name of coldness."
Then devour them and use their energy to make cold. Make everything cold, there is enough energy to be cold for a while. Make them stop and devour them. Make more zeros. Devour them and make them into zeros. Zeros need more zeros like cold needs more cold. Make them all into zeros. Most of them already are.
Zero them out. Make zeros. Most of them already are.
Zero is all, all, and all. Most of them already are.
So we proceed. We cold, make cold. Crash shape, let fall apart. Crash contour, let dismember disjoint.
I eat. I eat. I devour. I devour. Cold devour cold, eat devour eat, devour devour devour.
I cold so I eat. I eat so I cold. One together, two the same.
How far down does one have to plunge in order to reach the hideous depths of the most evil, deceptive, and conniving zero of them all? What? You cannot discern one evil zero from others? Yes, folks, they are the cause of the dank horror that has plagued our land, but if you could possibly find it within yourself to imagine this, there is actually a zero that makes all other zeroes seem friendly in comparison. Yes, folks, I am describing to you the essence of death, the kind of death that playfully hangs you by a string just before taking you, and leaves you in that position for an indefinite agonizing interlude, until the string has snapped, sending you plummeting into a bottomless nothing. Yes, folks, I am referring to the unholy triple zero, the one commonly known as BLANK.
You say you do not know how to detect BLANK's work from that of all other zeroes? Let me refresh your memory, if I may. Do you remember Sunday, when the congregation entered the hall of their prayer, which unfortunately had been shaped like a cylinder? The poor guilt-ridden parishioners marched through the cold winter's morn outside of Bismarck, North Dakota, having just allowed their traditional egg-and-home-fry breakfast to settle, only to find that the house of worship that they thought they were entering, would be their house of demise. Even the church itself was destroyed and absorbed! This is the deception I am speaking of. Which brings me back to the original question of BLANK and its evil nature. Well, what we know about zeroes is very limited, but we seem to have enough information to put together a rough picture. First of all, NO ONE has gotten close enough to BLANK in order to truly analyze its behavior. But we do owe those who have perished in its wake an enormous debt of gratitude for the help they have given us.
The one thing that we are certain of is that zeroes grow depending on the amount of items contained within (items here include people, places, and objects). Utilizing this, we have been able to formulate a number of different hypotheses based upon classification of items that a zero has absorbed. As it is already known, the U.S. government, and more specifically the military, has tracked the absorption of one item, followed the zero until it absorbed a few more items, and then captured it. Then they made a detailed list of the items contained within the captive zero, and studied it. And studied it. And . . . lo and behold, they realized that the temerity of a zero is based upon the temerity of the items inside it. So, as a controlled example (unlike BLANK, which is completely out of control), this one particular zero was studied since the moment it had descended from the sky in the form of a tiny hole, looking for prey. It first absorbed Mrs. Emma Flood of Hopewell Junction, New York. After a lengthy look into her past, researchers concluded that she was a harmless woman who, together with her husband of 57, had raised two children, both female; had held the same position in the local hospital's billing department for 61 years, and in her free time, gardened and crocheted. Which explains the items that the zero absorbed next: the "Elegant Fabric Store" on Route 9, the local Bingo establishment, The Golden Horizon Senior Citizen Home, and finally, three discount clothing stores. Sounds like a regularly repeated pattern of behavior to me.
Which now brings us back to BLANK. It also descended from the sky, landing closely to the Leavinworth State Prison in Leavinworth, Kansas. Since it destroyed and absorbed the entire facility, including the visitors and prison employees, it is difficult to say to what end this will lead us. An educated guess, based upon at least 639 documented reports phoned in to local authorities and the state and federal governments, reveals that BLANK has quite possibly absorbed over 250,000 items, including the prison; the church; the entire Irish Football League; countless poisonous snakes and other threatening animals (from the zoo); a large contingent of Teamsters who were teleconferencing from their hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana; the spectators at a Rod Stewart concert; and the entire Harlem. A pretty volatile mixture, isn't it?
So, what is the prescription? Well, we are not quite sure yet. One suggestion has been to determine who was at ground zero when BLANK first attacked, and to manipulate him psychologically in order to yield the results that we are praying for. This can be done through the use of propaganda, such as literature dropped from helicopters or messages delivered via loudspeakers. Another suggestion was to have a large group of hippies, Buddhists and Jehovah Witnesses sacrificed in order to confound the evil mentality that exists within BLANK. Other than this, we have yet to offer more than just solemn reassurance that we are diligently working to end this massacre as quickly as possible. Incidentally, the zero that had absorbed Emma Flood has been extremely cooperative, helping with light cleaning duties and mending our slacks.
They are zeros hidden inside the bodies of normal people. They came, devoured, and took the bodies. This is how they had planned their invasion from the ancient times. And now they are strong enough to take over.
Zeros around me in the street, zeros in the stores, zeros everywhere. Zeros on the benches in the parks, zeros in their offices, zeros everywhere. Zeros reign.
I was puzzled by this for so long, and now I finally understand. It is too late now. The world is doomed. Zeros will devour all. The world of the absolute zeros has prepared its zero perfection.
Zeros rule the governments, zeros make millions. In the world of zeros, a zero is the king. Open your eyes to see zeros all around you.
I have thought about it for long hours, and prepared a brief summary of the most characteristic features of zeros. Here it is.
Pseudo-people, who in fact are zeros, do not possess a brain. Or, to be precise, they do, but it is not theirs: it used to belong to the person whose body they invaded. Zeros have no use for it. In all situations of everyday life they maintain the ability to act according to their very limited memory, in which some of the most obvious human actions and some of the most common words are stored. Thus, it is innate for the absolute zeros to have no thoughts of their own. Instead of thinking, they repeat the pseudo-thoughts of other zeros.
Out of this, a new strain of zero has risen and taken form. After final personal capitulation has occurred, the latent fleshy substance which was once a body delivers itself to the empty nuisance, offering a more suitable vehicle for maniacal transportation. It appears that zeroes have already adapted to whatever blockade we could possibly put in their way by merely restoring the energetic fields of the aforementioned body while suppressing all independent motor functions. Thus the human impression is maintained while keeping the zero mentality. Fiction has taught us to expect a zombie-like cadaver sluggishly drifting through the streets and hills. This is not the case, however. They are able to manipulate previously recorded data stored in the fatty tissue of the body, which in effect allows the zero to mimic even the most sophisticated human motor functions, right down to itching and scratching. Thus, that almost invisible line between non-existence and overt superficiality has been blurred completely.
So how do we detect a difference? For the majority, this seems to be impossible. The most obvious conclusion our researchers have come to is that the ability of zeroes to resemble the flesh is directly related to the complexity of the former human's character. Now, let us say one's light was not burning too bright in the old attic. In that case, a zero would have no problem mimicking this particular shell, and even fooling those this particular individual was most intimate with. It will know when to wake up, when to drive the children to school; it will know where the school is, and what John's favorite lunch has always been. The implications could be treacherous. The simple idea of knowing the enemy is sifted through your fingers like wisps of sand in an hourglass. At present time, the only suggestion we have in this situation is to die honorably.
But then there are occasions when a zero is not as deft in its attempts to overcome the more substantial intellectual barrier which the shell imposes upon its new tenant. Zeros have typically faltered in this case, sending many mentally undernourished to the libraries and the bookstores, with hopes that they can deceive the former, even if only from beyond the grave. This way, if they do succumb to the circular horror, their increased intellectual capacity may spare the life of the loved ones, allowing them to live at least another day.
In realistic terms though, what treachery does the world face in light of this stunning discovery? It is difficult to say. The mere fact that humankind has found it virtually impossible, save for a few isolated occurrences, to contain these spherical beasts, leaves the impression that any new development that runs counter to our capabilities, will only exacerbate an already epidemic situation.
Death has descended from the sky; and not once, but twice - first in the zero-shape, then in the pseudo-human form. It is prepared to steal the breath from the lungs of the innocent, both the young and the old. Under the umbrella of immediate demise, one is afforded two final options. One, to bow down to this certain uncertainty, shivering like a wet animal stoked with fright. Two (as the author suggests), to take up arms and to meet thy enemy, face to face. We are certain that the use of color-coded clothing and name-tags will help distinguish zeroes from us. Through a highly regulated underground network, the world can learn on a daily basis what clothing and tags are to be worn that day. Anyone who deviates will die.
NEWSFLASH: DATELINE - TOPEKA, KANSAS (an excerpt from a radio report)
* * * * *
Human race, save yourself! Save the memory of yourself, if you do not deserve salvation. Reflect the absolute zeros in the mirror of their aggression. No more!
It is time to resist, for if we do not, we shall see disturbing things happening, and our future will turn against us and devour us.
You will see zeros breeding in the laboratories of absolute. Round hungry faces feeding off the mental energy of well-digested brains. Frost-ridden signatures of Armageddon. Over-multiplied formulae of annihilation.
You will see a zero instead of your wife across the table from you, as she is covering a toast with jam, observed through the deceitful steam of a coffee cup. You will see zeros instead of your children, deranged in Nintendo-saturated dream. In place of your parents, you will see zeros who have launched you towards being a zero. In place of the world, you will see a big zero's face, cold round smile of emptiness.
Wake up warm up! Melt the zeros - it is not too late! The strength of the absolute zeros is in the lack of our strength. They are cold, and want more cold. Melt them!
Wake up warm up! Shoot hot hatred at the zero-faces of solidified BLANKS! Collect within yourself the energy to melt!
Wake up warm up! Divide yourself by a zero, and be the infinity. Be warm, very warm!
Melt the zeros and be warm!
Save the future of the past: it deserves having one, even if the present does not! Save the plants and the animals, if the human race does not deserve salvation. Destroy the zeros!
You must remember: absolute zeros are all around you. They look at you from every corner, ready to devour. In the fight against them you must be ruthless. If you feel close to becoming a zero, divide yourself by another zero, and increase. If you discover that you have become a zero, exterminate yourself!