My general thoughts, when confronted with an alien invasion story usually involves anal probes, destruction on a grand scale, or maybe some wrinkly, loveable, creature devouring econo-sized bags of peanut butter flavored candies. TW Brown’s take on aliens coming to Earth is like nothing I’ve ever imagined before. Gone are the floating Simon game boards, freaking Richard Dreyfus out until he’s sculpting with his mashed potatoes. And forget the absurd thought of taking down a militant race by uploading a computer virus into the aliens’ network.
“Faces On the Milk Carton” chronicles the establishment of an alien race on Earth. They’re virtually invisible to the human eye and eat the essence of our children until their bodies dissolve. They’re carnivores with heart. Despite the fact that they eat our innocents, they make sure to peg the disappearances on those that prey on our kids, and they aim to take the children that need mercy from suffering. The story is a fascinating and original take on unexplained missing children cases, giving so many tragic tales, an almost, happy ending. It also takes on the reasons for dust motes, intuition, and paranoia.
Brown’s story is somewhat of a sunny spot in this collection. I know, aliens eating children totally sounds like an upper. But the narrator is a family man just making sure he and his can survive. In doing so, he’s trying to put a positive spin on some, otherwise, awful facts of life that we as people have yet to figure out how to put to an end. Children disappear sometimes. It happens. They runaway or they get taken. It’s all pretty horrible. “Faces On the Milk Carton,” does its best to make all of these things a little bit more palatable.
Fun Fact: Mister Brown also has an affinity for zombie stories. Inspect any food he gives you, it may be yourself.