The sci-fi B Movie story that came true


Based on this testimony of a Victorian journalist:

No one would have believed in last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space.  No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinised as a gentleman’s tailor might estimate the collar size of a new customer.  Few office workers considered the possibility of identification cards existing on other planets yet, across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded our necks with envious eyes and slowly and surely manufactured millions of yards of synthetic fabric of various colours.

At one minute past midnight on the thirteenth of August an interminable serpent of sewing sped towards Earth.  Across eighty million miles of void came the first of the garments of imprisonment that were to bring such camouflaged calamity to our tiny planet.  As I watched, string after string seared across the sky making me fear for the whole of humankind.

And that’s how it was for the next ninety nights.  Due to the alignment of the planets it seemed that they were spurting from the surface of Mars but Ogilvy the astronomer assured me that could not be the case. He was convinced there could be no living thing on that remote forbidding planet.

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, “he said.

But still they came.

“See for yourself,” I said, standing to one side and inviting him to take the eyepiece of the observatory telescope.

He peered briefly.  “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one,” he repeated.

“He’s right,” said Wendy Tyrell, the physics professor.

“How can you be sure?” I asked.

“Because I’ve measured the trajectory, and they’re not coming from Mars.”

“Then where are they coming from?”

Wendy re-positioned the telescope and invited me to look through it.  “From Saturn,” she said. “The planet with the largest lanyard.”

That was how the invasion began.  At first we thought we would be safe.  As the string neared Earth we could see that it consisted of very short strands and experts reassured us that whatever they were, they would burn up as they entered the atmosphere, but we underestimated the durability of the alien fabric. The invaders proved impervious to the heat of our gaseous carapace and they fell to earth not only unscathed but displaying a venomous, predatory desire.

Invasion of the Lanyards panic run 2At eleven a.m. on Monday 18th February a torrent of curious neck ties came shooting to the streets on top of unsuspecting Londoners.  We now know this happened all around the world.  Some large, some small, some green, some red, some blue, some gold, some with strange patterns, some with clips, some with transparent envelopes, and some with cards bearing indecipherable hieroglyphs.  They wriggled and writhed through the air, across the ground and around the necks of the terrified fleeing folk.

Some  giant ones fastened themselves to buildings and pulled those structures over. Some tied themselves to bridges and dislodged them from their pillars.  Some wrapped around sea-going vessels like tentacles of marine monsters and dragged them to watery depths.

Thunderchild lan 1Smaller samples tightened about the throats of those who resisted, strangling their unfortunate victims and leaving the streets littered with corporate corpses all dispatched by what came to be known as ‘neckxit’.

Those that didn’t resist stood rigid with fear as rabid accessories looped over their heads and hung from their shoulders uniting them all in appearance and acute apprehension.

Panic set in across the country as the populace realised that Britain was no longer an island, but was instead, a bridgehead bounded and integrated by alien immigration. Those not yet bridled hid and plotted, planning resistance and sabotage.  And thus matters both proceeded and stagnated for three days whilst fear paralysed the captured and prevented the actions of the proactive.

What should we do?

Nobody knew.

Then someone realised nothing else was going to happen.

Invasion of the Lanyards birds 4No more lanyards arrived and those that were here had become completely passive. Dogs ran off bearing them to bewildered owners in the belief that they were leads. Birds began to take them away to line their nests.

Realisation dawned that the danger had passed. First one, then another, then everyone simply took them off and threw them to the floor, or into a drawer, a cupboard or a waste bin.  And there they remained.


But I leave you this warning:

I do not believe that the invasion is over.  One day I know, those apparently inanimate lanyards will move again and I fear they will rise against the whole of humankind.  I suspect they are breeding, multiplying and evolving into new colours, with new patterns and even more shrewd camouflages.  They will embrace every neck, they will make you feel safe, but do not trust them I implore you.  They are the perfect disguise.

Don’t let the person next to you fool you.

He might simply have stolen a lanyard.

Or the lanyard might have stolen him.

He might be from Saturn.

Or even from Mars.

The chances are a million to one.

You might think one in a million is not worth worrying about.

But count the lanyards.




(With apologies to H.G Wells, Jeff Wayne (music producer), and Geoff Taylor(illustrator))



More sci-fi:

Ice & Lemon LR

Ice & Lemon

Dystopian fiction set mostly in northern England in 2005/06.

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