SANTA MIRA, CALIFORNIA—Though he lacks forensic evidence to confirm his suspicions, local man Brock Donavan is fairly certain that his next-door neighbours are soulless body-snatchers.
Donovan, a product manager for an engine lubricant producer, came to believe that Todd and Martha Vanderbilt, the middle-aged couple in the bungalow next door, have become hosts to extra-terrestrial life-forms after he witnessed some extreme changes in their behaviour.
“They used to be the warmest, welcoming couple on our street, but now they’re cold and distant,” said Donovan. “I’m preeeeeeeetty sure they’re pod people.”
Brock Donovan says the Vanderbilts have been acting strange ever since they built their new backyard greenhouse a few weeks ago.
“Todd was the kind of guy who always called me over for a beer, asked about my wife and kids, offered to have my driveway resealed when he was getting his done—he even taught my daughter Swahili,” said Donovan. “These days, you ask the guy how his day went and he’ll say something like, ‘my cell regeneration is at its optimal rate’, then go back into his house and stare at you from the kitchen window.
“It’s unnerving, but I probably shouldn’t bring it up until I’m certain they’re legitimate aliens.”
Todd Vanderbilt’s troubling behaviour is compounded by his wife, Martha, who went from a gracious and good-humoured neighbour to a detached recluse seemingly on the verge of a religious epiphany.
“Martha used to bore me with small talk about her vegetable gardening and her Oma’s cooking,” recalled Donovan, with a touch of warm reminiscence. “Now she bores me with small talk about vegetable gardening and how we will be reborn into an untroubled world on the day when we all break from our vegetative state.”
Said Donovan: “Maybe she’s just become a lot more spiritual than before—I mean, to each her own—or she’s been growing otherworldly replicates of our human forms from fallen space seeds. It’s a thought.”
Further inquiry into the matter of the Vanderbilts has stalled, as Donovan is uncertain as to which channels he should pursue in investigating the strange matter.
“Seriously, I don’t want to look like the paranoid lunatic who tells police that his neighbours are parasitic life-forms from beyond the solar system,” said Donovan. “Maybe I should hire a private investigator?”
Donovan’s wife, Rebecca, has so far been quite vocal that nothing has changed with the Vanderbilts, not everyone can be friendly 24/7, and why don’t you mind your own business, Brock.
“They’re both dealing with middle-age; actually, at this point, Martha could be hitting menopause,” said Rebecca. “In any case, they’ve invited us for dinner tonight, so maybe they’re getting back to their normal selves.”
Even after discovering what looked to be several human-sized pea pods in the Vanderbilts’ greenhouse when he was allowed to borrow the hedgetrimmer, Donovan is still not convinced enough to act on his suspicions—even when his other neighbour and confidante, Jack Driscoll, confirmed the same suspicions.
“Jack came pounding on the door one night, waking up Becky and the kids,” Donovan recounted, “and he was yelling for me to listen to him ‘or else’, he said, ‘the same incredible terror that’s menacing me will strike at you!’ Someone must have called the cops—they hauled him off right quick.”
Even as the Vanderbilts looked on from their porch, exchanging affirming nods with the vacant-eyed police officers as they forced Driscoll into the squad car, who all the while was shouting “Can’t you see? They’re here already! You’re next!”, Donovan still felt he had little to present to authorities besides anecdotal evidence and hearsay.
“Besides, chances are most of the municipal workers already had their bodies snatched, so why poke the bees’ nest?”
M. Scott Caldwell is The Daily Sprat’s resident expert on the paranormal, who recently published Segmented-Fruit People: The Citrus Conspiracy the Government Doesn’t Want You To Know, to wide critical panning. He also runs a party catering business on the side (call 1-800-PRTYDWN).