At first the U.S. Army—what was left of it—thought it was battling a communist invasion. The truth was much, much worse. It wasn't until Jeff Mallory awoke one morning to find that all his fellow townsfolk had become sleepwalking zombies, and that a tower had been erected in the center of town, a tower that seemed to stretch to the stars, that the horrible truth began to unravel. Earth had been invaded—not by a race of alien conquerors, but by a disease.
A disease with a brain...
"It will be necessary to give you pain."
The figure stopped ten feet away in a curiously lifeless stance, body poised at an awkward angle. At this distance the doughy texture of skin and garments was obvious: the face was a mask, painted on porous rubber.
"Mother of God," Strang whispered.
"Why are you not at your benches?" the simulacrum inquired in the unctuous tones of a tv pitchman.
The colonel took a step back, set the butt of his rifle against his hip. The shot was a deafening blam! accompanied by a spurt of pale flame. The impact half spun the creature around. It regained its balance and resumed its advance, a pit gaping high in its chest.
"It will be necessary to give you pain," it said.