Alien Nightmare
by 80sarcades

The epilogue. Have a nice day!

May 13th, 1945
London, England

Life is funny, isn't it?

For a moment, the man amused himself by tipping his glass back and forth. The amber liquid inside sloshed against the clear walls; he wondered just how easy it would be to drown in it.

To forget.

I'm going home.

He remembered when those very words would have filled him with joy; the one time he had been ordered home - was it only two years ago? - he could have sworn he could fly.

I'm going home, he repeated. And for some reason, I don't want to.

How's that for irony?

Major General Robert Hogan downed the rest of his drink before setting the used glass aside. He then flicked his weary eyes toward a nearby window. To his surprise, the street that lay beyond was drenched in cheerful sunshine; the rain that had been a part of London's atmosphere for the last few days was now gone.

There's another bit of irony, he noted sarcastically. The first week I was here it rained. Now that I'm leaving it turns perfect!

I wonder what Carter is doing right now? he wondered. An image of the happy-go-lucky Sergeant popped into memory; he smiled slightly. He'll make a great pharmacist someday, Hogan thought, thinking of the former prisoner's postwar ambition. That is, if he doesn't blow someone up!

A dry chuckle escaped the former Senior POW's lips before his mind moved onward. Kinch is probably still enjoying his leave. A glimmer of hope suddenly dawned in his thoughts. Maybe he'll take me up on my offer; it'd be nice to have him around again. Jobs back home are going to be hard to come by now that the war's over. And I really don't want to see someone that smart go to waste.

LeBeau, on the other hand, already knows what he wants to do: open his own restaurant. Hogan smiled once more; this time the gesture was less forced. He could make anything look good. Considering the crap the Krauts passed off as food - and I'm not so sure it was food, sometimes - that was a hell of a challenge! Thank God he was there. Especially for that last winter; he could really make those Red Cross packages last...

And then, there's Newkirk. A worried expression suddenly entered the General's eyes as he thought of the talented con artist. The former Corporal now held two jobs as a barkeep and entertainer. As far as Hogan could tell, he seemed to be doing fine in both endeavors. However, the American officer knew that it wouldn't take too much nudging for him to return to his prewar career path.

Please, God, he prayed. Look after Peter and make sure he does all right. Hogan let out a slow, almost raspy breath. And for everyone else too. Lord knows, we all need a little help.

Hogan was suddenly jolted from his melancholy thoughts as a stranger bumped into him. "Excuse me," the man apologized before looking up. "I—" A sudden flash of recognition brightened his lined face. "Robert Hogan," the stranger breathed. "God. Last I heard you were in a prison camp."

The General blinked several times as he tried to recall the man's name. That's Buddy Carmichael, he thought lamely. Someone else I haven't seen in a long time.

"I was," he said, extending his hand after a moment's pause. "Stalag 13. Good to see you, Buddy." A silver star on the man's left shoulder glistened dully as he sat down on a nearby barstool; Hogan quirked a eyebrow in surprise. "They finally made you a General," he observed before shaking his head. "Can't believe this was the same guy they almost threw out of the Point for having more demerits than Ulysses S. Grant."

"Probably the only way I'd get famous, anyway," General Carmichael quipped before his expression turned serious. "You doing all right?" he asked. Hogan noted the genuine concern in his friend's eyes and immediately bit back the sarcastic retort that came to his tongue.

"Yeah," he nodded. "I'm okay. Just tired, that's all." He smiled, the gesture not quite touching his eyes. "I'm going home tomorrow."

General Carmichael snorted. "Lucky you," he said. "I'm going to some flyspeck of an island named Tinian, in the Pacific. Unfortunately for me, I'm flying the other way. The long way," he added dryly before throwing a grin in the other man's direction. "Maybe the war will be over before I get there."

Hogan merely smiled. My war is over, he thought. No more Kommandants to deal with, Majors to be annoyed by, or tunnels to go through. No more having to worry about my men going outside the wire.

A sudden pang of sadness tore at the General's heart. I miss them. All of them. Kinda hard not to, with how long I've known them.

"I'll send you a postcard from Miami Beach," Hogan joked, trying to lighten the mood. "Let you know how short the swimsuits are this year." A cocky grin then appeared on his now-cheerful face. "Maybe I'll even send pictures—"

"You're okay, all right," Carmichael grumbled sourly. "Now that's a lousy way to kick a man when he's down."

The General grinned broadly. "What are friends for?" he cheekily asked.

And thanks for being nice, too, Hogan thought gratefully; he didn't need any more looks of pity from those who thought he was just another returned POW. Maybe one day I'll tell you about my second career. But not today.

"Well, I'd better be going," General Carmichael said before he stood up. "The Army might be transferring me out, but paperwork waits for no man." He smiled warmly as he shook Hogan's hand once more. "I dont know about you, but I'm looking forward to when this whole shebang is over. It'd be nice to command something without having to worry about casualties." He started to walk away, then paused; an odd look flittered across his features for a long moment before he glanced at his colleague. "This sure was one hell of a strange war, wasn't it?" he calmly, if not sadly, observed. Without waiting for an answer he turned and started to make his way toward the front exit.

Hogan eyed the departing General with a jaundiced eye. You're right about that, he decided. In more ways than one. In his mind's eye he recalled the strange light that he and his men had encountered back in 1943. Outside of his men and Schultz, no one else knew about it. Even now it seemed fantastic. A Flash Gordon fantasy dreamed up by idle prisoners of war.

As far as his men were concerned, the odd light was just that: a light. Something to tell the grandchildren about. General Hogan knew better. Even more, he would have cheerfully traded what he remembered for their ignorance; to forget…

…waking up in a sterile gray room, unable to move a muscle save for his eyes. Somehow, he was able to push away the surging panic that threatened to overwhelm his senses and instead concentrated on the decidedly antiseptic environment. Suddenly, odd chittering noises came from somewhere to his left. With supreme effort he managed to inch his head in that direction.

Immediately, he wished he hadn't.

Two things – he would have almost described them as lizards, except these were at least five feet tall – stood over a table containing an unconscious Sergeant Schultz. They seemed to be playing with the buttons on his greatcoat; as he watched, long and slender claws carefully undid the top two buttons of the jacket. As they did so, the Colonel's eyes flicked around; his men, seemingly unconscious, lay on nearby tables. Beyond the lizard people were more tables containing several women. For some odd reason, the only one he could clearly see looked familiar somehow.

Suddenly, a sharp sound repeatedly filled the alien air. One of the creatures turned toward his table and studied something for a moment before walking towards him. The other thing, whatever it was, took no notice as it finished undoing the blue uniform.

Frantically, as the creature came closer, Hogan tried to move. However, despite his best efforts, he remained totally paralyzed. Helpless, all he could really do was to watch the red-eyed thing approach his frozen body. As the lizard raised the sharp claws on its right hand, the Colonel silently screamed—

With a start, General Hogan jerked himself back to reality. His hands shook slightly; a film of perspiration covered his brow. Quickly, he wiped the evidence away as his heart rate returned to normal. It's 1945, he told himself. It's over.

But it would never be over. At least, not in his dreams. None of his men knew about it, and it would stay that way. Hogan had had the occasional nightmare - and sometimes, a flashback - since late 1944; he supposed, for lack of a better explanation, that the antiseptic smell from his hospital visit had triggered the unpleasant memory.

General Hogan eyed the front exit; for a moment, he thought of his friend and of his departing words.

This sure was one hell of a strange war, wasn't it? He snorted in dark amusement.

Buddy, you really have no idea.


A/N: Originally, I was going to end this here...but leaving Hogan in pain just doesn't seem right. Besides, I'd rather not have ColHogan beat me up:-) ::hears the sound of knuckles cracking in the distance:: At any rate, I had an idea for a Hogan-centric story (with a spot of Kinch) involving the aliens and 1947 Roswell; would anyone like to see a sequel?

Thanks for reading!