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The Tel Aviv Dossier by Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv (FREE EXCERPT 5/5)

All this week, SF Signal is running an excerpt from The Tel Aviv Dossier by Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv.

Previous excerpts: one, two, three, four.


Chairwoman: Shalom everyone. Thanks for coming. First, I want to say thanks to Gilly for letting us use her house again- Gilly S.: No problem, you’re always welcome-

Chairwoman: and to Gilly’s husband for the lovely cookies- Danny M.: I brought the drinks!

Chairwoman: And to Danny for bringing the Diet Coke and the orange juice. Right. Let’s start. I’d like to welcome everyone who came-

Misha B.: Aharon asked me to apologize on his behalf, but he couldn’t make it today.

Danny M.: Abducted by the Greys again?

Misha B.: He has an appointment with the doctor.

Misha B.: Why are you laughing?

Chairwoman: Order, please! OK, moving on. First item: the annual payment is almost due. We now have eleven registered members- Mike L.: Ten.

Chairwoman: Ten?

Mike L.: Gideon’s got a job in New York, he’s leaving in two weeks. Chairwoman: Nice of him to tell us.

Mike L.: What do you want from the guy?

Chairwoman: Me? Why? I just think it’s basic decency to let your colleagues know if-

Mike L.: I heard you were more than colleagues.

Misha B.: Why are they laughing?

Chairwoman: Order! Order! Mike, I want an apology from you right now!

Mike L.: I’m sorry.

Chairwoman: Right. OK. I want to remind all members to bring the membership fee for the next meeting, cash or cheque. Next week we have a lecture from Dr. Amos Oliani, who is an astrophysicist and has done a lot of research on the Fermi Paradox- Dganit S.: How?

Chairwoman: What do you mean, how?

Dganit S.: How could he do a lot of research on the Fermi Paradox? The whole point of it is that, though statistically there should be thousands of technological civilizations out there, we can’t see any of them, so where are they? That’s the paradox.

Chairwoman: So?

Dganit S.: So how can you research something that you can’t see? Danny M.: By watching The X- Files?

Mike L.: Roswell. It’s the only way to know for sure.

Dganit S.: Oh, shut up already with Roswell.

Mike L.: Shut up? Don’t you tell me to shut up. That’s exactly what they want, that people like me would shut up.

Dganit S.: They?

Mike L.: You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Dganit S.: I don’t think even you know what you’re talking about. Misha B.: I agree with Mike. The only way to prove it once and for all is for the American military to release the Roswell files-

Dganit S.: You’re even worse than he is-

Mike L.: Sceptic! Doubter! Why are you here? Did they put you here to spy?

Chairwoman: Order! Order!

Mike L.: And besides, we all know the Israeli air force shot down a UFO during the Six Day War, and that’s what we should be focusing on!

Gilly S.: I have to agree. We need to step up the campaign to have the government release the files of the Tel Aviv Report- Misha B.: I concur.

Mike L.: Thank you. At least some of us have sense.

Dganit S.: What Tel Aviv Report?

Mike L.: You call yourself a UFO researcher? Did you fall off the ignorant tree hitting every branch on the way down?

Chairwoman: Order! Mike, apologize to Dganit.

Mike L.: I’m sorry.

Dganit S.: It’s okay. I’m not bothered by retarded little morons with attention-deficit disorder-

Mike L.: How dare you?

Chairwoman: I said order!

Misha B.: I concur.

Danny M.: The Tel Aviv Report, Dganit, is the top secret document prepared by the special investigative committee after the shooting down of an unidentified flying object over Tel Aviv during the Six Day War.

Dganit S.: If it’s top secret, how come you know about it? Mike L.: I really pity you, you know that?

Danny M.: Let’s just say the UFO community has means of obtaining information. Some high-up people in power are sympathetic to our aims, you know?

Misha B.: Really?

Mike L.: Of course. You think Aharon is the only abductee in the country? The military takes the threat of alien infiltration very seriously.

Gilly S.: They say Gideon personally worked with the committee as an advisor-

Dganit S.: Maybe that’s why he’s leaving the country-

Misha B.: Why are they laughing?

Chairwoman: Order, please.

Misha B.: What’s that?

Mike L.: What’s what?

Danny M.: I felt that too!

Dganit S.: Me too.

Chairwoman: Dear God.

Misha B.: What?

Danny M.: What?

Chairwoman: The window-look out the window!

Danny M.: I can’t see!

Mike L.: Don’t push me!

Danny M.: Move out of the way!

Gilly S.: Will you two please shut up?

Misha B.: Is that a UFO?

Mike L.: It’s not your standard saucer or cigar-shaped vehicle- Danny M.: My God! At last! It’s true! It’s all true!

Dganit S.: It’s a fucking car, you idiot-

Mike L.: Oh, yeah-

Dganit S.: Suspended in mid-air by what seems to be a sort of invisible force field-

Gilly S.: And it’s moving! But-

Mike L.: It’s hostile! All those years, and when we finally make contact-

Misha B.: I think I’m going to be sick.

Gilly S.: We have to stay together. We have to-

Misha B.: Mike! Mike!

Chairwoman: Oh my God. I’m-

Misha B.: Mike!

Danny M.: This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. This isn’t real. Dganit S.: So now it isn’t real? All of a sudden it’s not real, Danny? Chairwoman: Misha, get away from the window!

Danny M.: Misha! Somebody do something! Grab her!

Dganit S.: This thing is amazing! And there’s another one! They look just like localized tornadoes, but clearly intelligent-I wonder how they communicate-

Danny M.: You bitch! You heartless bitch! Misha! Misha, I’m coming!

Chairwoman: Bet she heard that one before-

Dganit S.: I’m going out there. I want to try to talk to these creatures.

Chairwoman: What? Dganit-Dganit-come back!

Chairwoman: Shit!

Chairwoman: Gilly, do you have a basement?

Chairwoman: Gilly?

Chairwoman: Oh my God, Gilly-

Chairwoman: The blood-the blood-everywhere- Chairwoman: I’m going to be sick again- Chairwoman: Is this thing on?

— End Transcript —


Shimshon sits behind the counter of the bookstore when the first quake shakes the shelves. His rare first edition of Groteska, a heavy hardcover by the so-called “Israeli Lovecraft” falls down and he has to get up from his chair to catch it. Shimshon curses and strokes the book’s spine. He puts the book behind the counter and sits himself back down and lights another cigarette. What the hell? Earthquakes?

Shimshon returns to his computer screen. The letters dance on the monitor in pretty black on white. He’d written four books so far, and published them himself. Why let someone else handle his babies? Burroughs did the same thing, and for Shimshon, Burroughs is the closest thing to a god. This, his latest book, is going to be the best one yet. Conch is about a boy in Tel Aviv discovering a large shell that had come out of the sea. When he blows into it strange things happen. Ancient entities that wear no discernible form rise from the sea and converge on Tel Aviv. The army is helpless against them, and it is left to a small band of survivors to try to escape through the desolate ruins of the city. The hero, named, naturally, after his creator, is called Samson. It is a good biblical name.

There is another tremor and the sound of an explosion outside and Shimshon jumps and the cigarette falls into his coffee and he hardly even notices. A terrorist attack? Another one? This is so bad for business. And rent is so high here on Dizengoff Street. They should never have built so many coffee shops here. It’s like an invitation to the goddamned Palestinians to bomb. He doesn’t advocate killing them all like some of the extremists do, but really! In the old books in his shop Tarzan had fought the murderous Arabs numerous times. They are like animals. They have no honour. He gets up cautiously and goes to the door. There are no customers in the shop. He hates it when they complain about the smoke. His shop, his rules. Like Tarzan, he is the king of his domain.

What the-? He can’t believe it. There’s a tank, a goddamned tank driving down Dizengoff Street. They’ve really done it this time! They should all be killed like vermin! Bloody Arabs! What the hell happened?

There’s a voice coming out of the tank on some sort of amplifier. The voice says: “Stay inside! Lock your doors! Do not panic! The army is dealing with the situation!”

What situation? He runs back to his desk and switches on the radio, but there is nothing but static. It’s Iran! he thinks. The bomb! “I repeat, do not panic!”

Shimshon begins to hyperventilate. Save the book! he thinks. Must . . . make . . . copy. Must . . . backup. There is the sound of another explosion outside and he feels panic rising and his heart is going fast-too fast-and he falls to the floor. What is happening? The book-no, must look first-he crawls towards the door and, through the glass windows he sees the tank, but it is impossible, the tank is rising in the air and-somehow-it’s torn, as if it were made of papier-mâché, the cannon coming apart, the tract wheels falling off and the armoured plates crumbling to the floor-it is like watching a butterfly being played with by a child, the way he used to do it, the way-

There are screams outside now. Somehow, they sound to him like the cry of Tarzan, a modulating, loud, piercing sound. He clutches his chest. He can’t breathe. Through dimming eyes he sees something impossible-a soldier in the olive-green uniforms of the IDF flying through the air, away from the tank, like Tarzan swinging on the jungle vines, coming straight-

There is the sound of breaking glass, and a hundred small, sharp pains flower in him but he is strangely calm now, detached and very far away. His last thought is of the Jane he never had.



The architecture of the south part of the city was wild-at least the parts of it I could see, jumping over the tarmac like crazed kids at an unpopular classmate’s birthday party. The fire on the Hawk’s tail was growing larger. It seemed an unnatural sort of fire to me. There wasn’t so much stuff to burn in the Hawk, it being what it is, and the remains of the yacht should have been cinders by now. But that was logic, which seemed, today, to be on the losing side.

The fire looked wrong, smelled wrong. In fact, it smelled of nothing at all. For a moment I thought that maybe the speed of my driving was pushing the smell away, but I had to slow down several times to cross all sorts of obstacles, and still there was nothing.

I recognized my surroundings as the area of the old central bus station, but only barely. The place had literally been overturned. The ground was covered with smashed vegetables, fruit, fish, ripped T-shirts, broken plastic jewellery and other sorts of cheap merchandise. There were also other things, which, it took me some time to understand, were probably the remains of people. I drove through it all. The vertical cloud was right above me. The air had a funny colour to it, and it was glinting. From somewhere in front of me, an unnatural woosh-woosh-woosh sound was coming, like the wing-flap of an overfed duck.

It was, in fact, a chopper.

It came out of the smoke, rather slowly, not too high above street level. I saw the pilot. He noticed me too. I gave him the thumbs-up, and I think he smiled, though I couldn’t see, really, with his helmet on and all. Then his head turned abruptly, looking at turbulence in the smoke to his right. He tried to turn and pull up-I saw his hands moving in the cockpit-but the chopper responded lazily. The turbulence grew and grew, and there was some kind of metallic screech, and suddenly the chopper was covered in shadows. Then something huge came out of the smoke, almost right above it.

It was nothing more unnatural than a flying Merkavah Mark IV tank. I served in the artillery corps, before I was thrown out of the army, so I know. That thing’s weight had to be at least sixty tonnes, but it flew gracefully, gun pointing skywards, not hurrying anywhere. Its course was a perfect parabola, which wasn’t disturbed in the slightest by smashing into the chopper, which burned, exploded, melted and turned into shrapnel, all in fast-forward. The tank, taking its time, landed on the ground, breaking the tarmac and making the Hawk dance in its place, then sinking into the ground, only the gun remaining above it like a flagpole.

What a wonderful sight! Give me some more of these, and I’d be willing to forgive the army for not letting me drive those tanks myself.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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