The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells
This isn't a war. It never was a war, any more than
there's war between man and ants. There's the ants builds their cities,
live their lives, have wars, revolutions, until the men want them out of
the way, and then they go out of the way. That's what we are now--just ants.
After Weybridge I went south--thinking. I saw what was up. Here's intelligent
things, and it seems they want us for food. First, they'll smash us up--ships,
machines, guns, cities, all the order and organisation. All that will go.
At present we're caught as we're wanted. A Martian has only to go a few
miles to get a crowd on the run. And I saw one, one day, out by Wandsworth,
picking houses to pieces and routing among the wreckage. But they won't
keep on doing that. So soon as they've settled all our guns and ships, and
smashed our railways, and done all the things they are doing over there,
they will begin catching us systematic, picking the best and storing us
in cages and things. That's what they will start doing in a bit. Lord! They
haven't begun on us yet. Don't you see that? Cities, nations, civilisation,
progress--it's all over. That game's up. We're beat. There won't be any
more blessed concerts for a million years or so; there won't be any Royal
Academy of Arts, and no nice little feeds at restaurants. They ain't no
further use. Those who mean to escape their catching must get ready. I'm
getting ready. I'm going on, under their feet. I've been thinking about
the drains. Of course those who don't know drains think horrible things;
but under this London are miles and miles--hundreds of miles--and a few
days rain and London empty will leave them sweet and clean. The main drains
are big enough and airy enough for anyone. Then there's cellars, vaults,
stores, from which bolting passages may be made to the drains. And the railway
tunnels and subways. Eh? You begin to see? And we form a band--able-bodied,
clean-minded men. We're not going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in.
All these--the sort of people that lived in these houses, and all those
damn little clerks that used to live down that way--they'd be no good. They
haven't any spirit in them. I've seen them skedaddle off to work--hundreds
of 'em, bit of breakfast in hand, running wild and shining to catch their
little season-ticket train, for fear they'd get dismissed if they didn't;
skedaddling back for fear they wouldn't be in time for dinner. Lives insured
and a bit invested for fear of accidents. And on Sundays--fear of the hereafter.
As if hell was built for rabbits! Well, the Martians will just be a godsend
to these. Nice roomy cages, fattening food, careful breeding, no worry.
After a week or so chasing about the fields and lands on empty stomachs,
they'll come and be caught cheerful. They'll be quite glad after a bit.
They'll wonder what people did before there were Martians to take care of
them. And the bar loafers, and mashers, and singers--I can imagine them.
Very likely these Martians will make pets of some of them; train them to
do tricks--who knows?--get sentimental over the pet boy who grew up and
had to be killed. And some, maybe, they will train to hunt us. No, we have
to invent a sort of life where men can live and breed, and be sufficiently
secure to bring the children up. We don't know enough. We've got to learn
before we've got a chance. And we've got to live and keep independent while
we learn. See! That's what has to be done. And when we do learn--Just imagine
this: four or five of their fighting machines suddenly starting off--Heat-Rays
right and left, and not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, but men--men
who have learned the way how. It may be in my time, even--those men. Fancy
having one of them lovely things, with its Heat-Ray wide and free! Fancy
having it in control! What would it matter if you smashed to smithereens
at the end of the run, after a bust like that? I reckon the Martians'll
open their beautiful eyes! Can't you see them, man? Can't you see them hurrying,
hurrying--puffing and blowing and hooting to their other mechanical affairs?
Something out of gear in every case. And swish, bang, rattle, swish! Just
as they are fumbling over it, SWISH comes the Heat-Ray, and, behold! man
has come back to his own.
Credits: Reprinted from The War of the Worlds. H.G. Wells. London: