A spaceship arrives about a suburban neighborhood, trains a beam on six square blocks, and then flies off... and the neighborhood is gone, leaving only a crater.
The next morning on Midgard Drive, Rhea Cashman comes out on her porch and looks at the fog surrounding her neighborhood. Andrea also hears an odd noise in the distance. She goes back inside and asks her husband Ralph if fog is like rain. Ralph isn't concerned and leaves for the office on Sunday. He goes outside and sees the same fog, hears the same noise. The sun is barely visible high above. Ralph goes over to his neighbor, Dr. Simon Holm, who says that there's something wrong with his car and it won't start. As Ralph takes a look at it, Simon's wife Andrea comes out and tells him that she'll be gone when he gets back. She goes back inside as Simon stares at her, and Ralph offers to drop Simon off.
As Ralph and Simon get into Ralph's car, Rhea comes over and he asks her to take a look at Simon's car. She goes over and pops the hood, and discovers that the engine is gone. Irritated, she glares at Ralph figuring that it's a joke... and when she turns back, the engine is there.
Ralph points out to Simon that their neighbors but not friends, and he wonders what's breaking Simon up. Simon assumes that he means that his marriage is breaking up, and says that he and Andrea made an honest mistake. Andrea thinks their marriage is the beginning of her mental and spiritual deterioration, and they arrive at the church where Simon is going. Ralph drops him off and drives on into town. The fog becomes thicker and there's an unearthly static on the radio. Ralph is finally forced to pull over and chokes on the "fog". He trips and discovers that he's on a rocky landscape, and shadowy mutated humanoids advance on him. Ralph runs and another figure blocks his path.
At home, Andrea tries to call out but gets nothing but a strange static on the line. Simon comes in and Andrea explains that she hasn't been able to get a taxi. Simon tries and gets the same static, and asks Andrea to stay. She wonders how he'd live with someone he doesn't love, and Simon insists that he's angry and disappointed but still loves her. Andrea says that he doesn't if he won't give her some part of her life to live, and insists that marriage to him is a kind of slavery.
Ralph crawls through the mist, moaning.
Andrea starts the car, and Simon tells her that he doesn't want her wandering around the world when he needs her at home. She says that their marriage is a dead-end world where she's trapped, and she doesn't want to just have a child. As they talk, Rhea screams as Ralph stumbles up to his house. He collapses on the front walk and tells Simon not to tell him. Andrea goes inside to call the hospital but the line is dead except for the static. Rhea joins Simon and they see that Ralph is covered in metallic silvery blisters. Ralph mutters that they're not on Earth, and a beam shines down from the sky and Ralph disappears in a flash of light.
Simon has gone inside to check the phone, and tells Andrea to check the other neighbors. She goes out and Rhea says that Ralph disappeared. Simon joins them and Rhea says that Ralph disappeared into thin air. Andrea sees a shadowy inhuman figure watching them from the nearby tool shed, and the figure hastily closes the door. Rhea assumes that it's Ralph, but Andrea tells her that it wasn't her husband or a man.
While Andrea goes to get the car, Simon goes to the shed. The figure yells at him not to come in, and says that he'll go away if Simon does. Simon talks through the door, asking if the figure is hurt. The figure says that he is and isn't, and being afraid hurts. He explains that he came through and will be punished if he spoils the "experiment". Simon goes in and the figure tells him that he wouldn't understand. The doctor realizes that the figure is a teenager, and the teenager says that he's almost an old friend. He says that Simon's kind are inferior except physically, and says that he'll go back where he came from but can't let them see him. Simon tells Rhea to go inside and Andrea to drive down the street but keep the motor running.
Once the women leave, the Teenager opens the door using a cloth so he doesn't touch the knob. He runs out and all three neighbors see that he's covered in the same silver blisters as Ralph. The Teenager jumps into the car with Andrea and orders her to take him back or he'll touch her. She drives into the fog and Simon runs after the car. He stumbles and realizes that he's now standing on a rocky landscape. Simon walks through the alien setting trying to find Andrea, and sees a different planet stretching away.
Continuing on, Simon is unaware of a robed figure behind him, covered in the silver growths. More creatures emerge, following Simon, and he turns to see them. Another creature cuts off his escape, and Simon screams in horror.
In a vast pit, Andrea stands unconscious. The Teenager looks at her while on the walls of the pit, the creatures--Luminoids--watch. The other Luminoids bring Simon in and lead him to where the three Elders sit. The leading Elder, the Authority, tells Simon that he is on Luminos and it sweats outside of Earth's galaxy. The Luminoids teleported the neighborhood there, and didn't intend the humans to know of their experiment until they were completed. The Authority explains that they become immobile because the hot organism is in their genes, and the silvery eruptions begin. The Luminoids then spend the rest of their lives in Contemplative Energy Plants like the pit they're in. All that they can do is think, dedicating all of their life energies to contemplation.
When Simon objects, the Authorities say that their youngsters rebel and there is work for them to do it. If the human test group survives then they will use them as slave labor. They tried to stop Ralph, but contagion occurred when they touched one of them. Soon the Luminoids will abduct all humans for their slaves. Sam says that they can rebel, but the Authority figures that they will obey rather than risk Luminoid touch and lose their bodies. He assures Simon that their lives will be secure, and they can worship and love and think as haphazardly as usual. If they become infected without a Luminoid touch, then the project will be considered infeasible. The Authority tells Simon to return to his neighborhood and tell the others not to fear or dream of escape. As for Andrea, the Authority says that she will be returned. Guards advance and Simon leaves rather than risk their touch.
Back at home, Simon finds Andrea... surrounded in a glowing field. She says that it's a sterilizing gas, and she and the Teenager breathed the same air. The gas fades and Andrea breaks into tears as she and Simon realize that they will never bring children onto Earth. Simon explains the Luminoid plan, but figures that there's nothing they can do to stop the aliens. Andrea suggests that all of them together might think of some way that they can resist. Simon asks Andrea to forgive him for trying to extinguish her spirit, and says that he didn't understand. They hug and Simon puts Andrea to bed. He warns that there's no way that they can fight the Luminoids, and says that he loves her. Andrea says that she didn't want to leave him, and he says that he didn't give her a choice. He figures that it would be better to die trying to get "choice" back than live without it. Simon says that he'll go from door to door explaining, and they'll all meet and try to come up with a plan. As Andrea goes to get dressed, she realizes that there's a nodule on her shoulder. She quickly hides it from Simon before he can see, and she avoids touching Simon and tells him to gather the neighbors at the church. Once he leaves, Andrea looks at herself in the mirror and realizes that the contagion is spreading.
The infected Ralph staggers through the mist, calling to Rhea. He hears the church bells and follows them.
The neighbors gather at the church and as Andrea goes there, Ralph grabs her and asks where Rhea is. Meanwhile, Father Fontana assures Simon that Andrea will be there.
Andrea tells Ralph what's happening, but he doesn't believe her. He pulls free and goes to the church looking for his wife.
Simon tells the others what the Luminoids want. As Fontana leads the congregation in prayer, there's a knock at the doors. The priest tells the ushers to open the doors, and they reluctantly step aside to let Fontana do so. It's Ralph, and Simon holds Fontana back from touching him. Ralph breaks into tears, and Fontana tells the congregation that Ralph is their neighbor. Rhea calls to her husband and goes to him, but he backs away and tells her not to touch him.
Andrea comes in and shows Simon that she's infected. She tells her husband to tell the others not to go through the fog like she and Ralph did. Simon says that they will need her help and says that they can help the rest of humanity. He approaches the congregation and says that there is no escape. They can stay in their neighborhood and remain safe, but they will never go back to Earth. Eventually they will live in labor camps and die in controlled areas. Some will be infected but enough will survive. However, they have human choice and can choose to make the enslavement of Earth infeasible... by deliberately infecting themselves.
Simon tells them that Andrea is infected and that he will take her hand. He asks if anyone will take his hand, and then goes to Andrea. After a moment she takes his hand, and Rhea takes Simon's hand. First Fontana and then the others take each other's' hands.
On Earth, the crater where the neighborhood rested is cordoned off.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 15, 2018