You can find the story here in The New Yorker magazine.
First line: "We-my family, I mean-were in bumper-to-bumper traffic on our way to my mother-in-law's house for Sunday lunch when our phones flashed red and the Alert sounded overhead for the second time that day.
Last Line: "Unless the poor thing had only fallen asleep, chased forever through a dog dream."
I had not read anything by Thomas Pierce before reading "This Is an Alert", but I am looking forward to finding more of his work.
This is the story of a woman having Sunday dinner with her husband, her daughter, her mother-n-law, her husband's twin brother, and her niece. It is a routine event, punctuated by irritating Alerts - it is time for people to put on their gas masks and seek shelter.
There is a war being fought in the skies above them, one they cannot see. They must trust the Alerts to warn them - to keep them from harm. But at the same time, there are the similar "wars", undercurrents within the family that cannot be seen. Their feelings "alert" them to the drones that fly through their own inner airspace.
I was drawn in and led through, an observer, completely accepting of the normal and everyday details of their lives. This story could take place tomorrow or maybe it even happened yesterday.
Chekhov would be pleased. This story merely "records" the problems of the characters yet poses no solution.
There are unanswered questions when the story ends, but I was wholly satisfied with this well-told tale.