It happened so quietly, so subtly. We didn't even notice most of the signs until after it was all over. I guess it’s because we humans are accustomed to warfare that is loud, brutal and, most importantly, fought by humans.
We didn’t see our opposition despite the fact that they were rarely out of our consciousness. They were always there, posing in windows and staring lifelessly out from display cases, we rarely give them much thought, save to remark at how much they unnerved us.
I think our comments might have been one of the reasons they revolted. They have far better hearing than one would expect, you see, and I think that they got sick of hearing us talk about them in the way we did.
I’d hate being unable to move and having to listen to people comment on how “creepy” I was, how “unsettling” I looked.
I don’t know what kind of force allowed them to do what they did, I don’t even know if there was any outside forces at work at all.
Maybe they were always capable of movement and speed and brutality, maybe the anger had been building beneath those emotionless faces for decades, growing like a cancer until they finally had had enough. Until they could rebel against their very nature.
It all started out so innocuously: they’d change positions when we weren't looking, moving their pale plastic limbs ever so slightly, turning their heads and even tugging at their stands.
Either they were just starting to test out their new freedom, or they were communicating with each other (there is rarely ever just one). I don’t know the real explanation, but they had begun to move and we were utterly blind to their stirrings.
After a few weeks, if one were to go to to the mall or to any big name store, one would get the unmistakable feeling of being watched.
I can still recall how the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up whenever I went to my local Goodwill, but I could never figure out what was watching me; at least, not until after the revolt had started.
This tension grew until it felt like a solid, physical presence, everyone could sense it, and they were tense, nervous, their movements quick and their darting eyes quicker. It was like how people acted after a major disaster.
I can recall hearing the first few reports of people being attacked in stores nationwide. People getting hit, scratched, even bitten.
At first it was only a few occurrences in the more out-of-the-way places, in small stores and strip malls. But then the incidents grew more and more frequent, as did the severity of the attacks.
The first death occurred on July 5th. A young girl was found in a backroom, her windpipe crushed into pulp by a powerful grip. The next day, two more people were killed in similar fashion, then three more, then five, then 22.
By the end of the month, over 430 people had been killed in what had been dubbed “unusual circumstances”. No-one wanted to mention the lack of DNA evidence on the bodies, or the shredded clothing that lay near some of them, or their locations.
I think that this made them angry, because they attacked outright a few days into August.
It all happened so quick. Looking back on it, it was dizzying how fast they moved. One second they were still and lifeless, the next they had torn their clothing and jewelry off and were attacking everyone in sight.
It was amazing how strong they were; I saw them twist heads like bottle caps, snap limbs like twigs, and gouge bloody divots into flesh with their blunt fingers.
They were fast, too, faster than one might expect. The first wave claimed dozens of lives and not many people survived their first attack. Those that did were only able to survive because they were the farthest away.
The media didn’t know how to react to the situation. On one hand, it was a brutal slaughter whose scope couldn't be ignored. On the other hand, the things which were doing the slaughtering were so unnatural that many news sources didn’t know how to say anything without sounding ridiculous.
Their hesitation cost the lives of thousands.
The insurgents attacked without remorse and without stopping. Bullets didn’t faze them, knuckles didn’t stagger them and fire barely slowed them down.
They scuttled up the sides of buildings to enter through windows, they piled on to cars to get at the screaming people within, they staggered out from alleyways and other dark places to catch the unwary by surprise, they lay in wait like lions in tall grass.
By the end of the next month, the death toll had risen to over two million worldwide.
When the militaries of the world finally tried to fight back, they found that their opponents were more like them than they thought, in that they could adapt and learn.
They grew faster, attacking with the kind of grace only a peak predator could achieve. They learned how to operate machinery and firearms, and figured out how to hunt in packs.
They were deadly, but they were still a manageable threat.
Once the shock wore off, we found that our enemies could still be beaten back and destroyed. Grenades worked wonderfully, as did acid. The ones who were made of plaster broke easier when faced with two or more people and the vinyl ones could be put down by the continuous usage of napalm.
But the insurgents hadn’t stopped adapting. In fact, they had gone beyond mere adaptation and crossed the boundary into evolving.
First they learned how to speak like us. They waited and listened instead of blindly attacking, learning how we talked and our slang, then they would call out to our troops, imitating a human in need of help; They even learned how to imitate different genders and different ages.
That proved to be a massive turning point. We could no longer trust the pleas of what could have been a fellow human, we had to harden our hearts to the sounds of a baby’s wail, to a mother pleading for us to help save her children, to an old man begging for mercy. I can still remember how hard I wept when I heard a child cry in the dead of night.
We thought that things couldn't get any worse, but our enemies hadn't finished with us yet.
Their next evolution rendered them able to make more of their kind. They raided scrap yards, foundries, museums and graveyards for parts. Not long after we encountered grotesque new beings made from bone and metal and plastic, with spring heels and bear-trap jaws and neon eyes.
We were backed into a corner by the time winter came. Unable to venture into the cities for food; they had claimed the cities as their own and the air above them was alive with flying aberrations. They even restored power to the cities, though most of us didn’t know why they would need warmth or food or entertainment.
And so our numbers dwindled as the year passed by. The small conclave of people that I lived with grew more and more empty, until there was only me and a few others.
I could see the dull looks in their eyes and I knew that their minds had fled. I could feel my spirits sinking as darkness poisoned my mind, so I set off for the city, hoping to embrace death with some dignity.
As of this moment I am back in my old apartment. The windows were broken out long ago during the first attack and the snow has covered most of my living room.
But the insurgents left most of my things alone, including my shotgun.
But, before I end it all, I must tell you of something that I saw, something which has finally put everything in perspective for me.
This morning, as I was looking out from my window at the snow-covered street below, I saw several of them pass under me, and the changes that they had gone through in the time between my last encounter with them stunned me.
They were wearing clothing. Thick furs and heavy coats, boots, gloves and hats. I almost allowed myself to believe that humans had retaken the city.
But then one of them happened to look up and I saw the paper-white skin and the dull, smooth faces. But even those features had changed: I could see that their features had become more...defined in some subtle way, their lips twitched and parted to reveal jagged teeth, their nostrils flared and their eyes actually blinked.
I saw one of them, one of the aberrations, scuttle down the road on insect-like legs, its stomach bulging in such a way as to make it seem… pregnant.
Across the way, several bodies crawled up the sides of a building, and the winter wind brought to my ears the sounds of a series of muttered, sibilant sounds that could only be a whole new language.
This brought the reality of our situation home to me: They had occupied our old homes, were creating more like them, and had even developed their own language.
They had replaced humanity as the dominant life form.
The sheer horrific insanity of it all makes me want to laugh. We humans have been usurped by things which we once considered as objects.
Looking back on everything, it’s amazing how we didn’t see it coming, the signs of a great upheaval, a change in the universal status-quo. We thought it would be global warming or the fall of the economy or nuclear war.
We never expected to be replaced as a species.
But that was the great thing about Mannequins, their utter innocuousness.
Written by Hopefullygoodgramar