They explained: the Hok was trained, its attack was part of the amusement park’s entertainments. Like a rollercoaster. The Wommow were quite impressed that he had dared stand up to it, not knowing: they gave him a lifetime park pass. Later they showed him video of a real Hok attack and its usual gory result, and he lost his lunch.
The Commander flipped a few switches, and then pulled the launch lever again, one more time, just to be sure. The MEM’s ascent engine again stayed silent. “Sorry.”
Gladmann offered, “Not your fault.”
They unbuckled from their launch seats. Everything there was to say to the orbiter overhead had already been said.
The Commander peered out the tiny window. A trio of flags stood, wire-fluttered, incongruous against the red dust. “I might take a walk.”
“Probably I’ll stay here.” Gladmann said, conversationally.
They shook hands. Gladmann closed the hatch behind the Commander before biting on his capsule.
There was a full moon that night, but it was only a coincidence: he didn’t need it to change. That’s an old wives’ tale, like garlic for vampires.
He was a dog at first so as not to attract attention. When he was in the thick forest away from the houses, he became a black panther; lithe, sleek, fast, it was his favorite form. He’d only seen them in books of course, never in life, but he liked to think he made a good panther.
The white rabbits he caught, killed and ate as a panther probably agreed, if grudgingly.
Things change. There was a first Catholic president. There was a first Black president. There were a first female, hispanic, Jewish presidents. There was a first gay president. No, not that one, the other one, the one nobody knew about.
The first alien President is a big deal. K’Plithik, his first hundred days were a heady time. Interstellar emigration reform passed by a wide margin, as did the cloning bill. The baby-eating scandal almost derailed the rest of his legislative agenda, but hey, ever since old man Rove that’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from the GOP.
By the time they get this far north they’re so slow, listless, blind and deaf that you can walk up and slap them in the face.
I don’t recommend it, though, their faces are pretty gross. The cold and the virus both slow down the decay, but they’re still made of dead flesh.
My grandfather came to Canada to get out of going to Vietnam. My father stayed because he liked hockey and good beer. Personally I like not having to worry about zombies. The mounties tell us we may have to move further north soon. I think they’re crazy.
It takes forever, making a golem. You have to build the body first: clay, stone, dirt, ice, whatever. I used clay because it’s easy to work with. Ten feet tall, took a lot of clay. Chicken wire to hold it together while I worked.
I had to cast the spells myself, otherwise it wouldn’t follow me. When it woke up, it sat up and ripped off the chicken wire, and then just stared at me. It’s waiting for orders, I guess. I’m making a list. Can’t decide what to have it do first.
This time tomorrow, I’ll own this town.
It’s sitting in the driveway right now. Cold fusion power plant, vertical take off and landing, full radar suite. Seats four comfortably, with six point crash harnesses. Cost eight months salary, and I’ll be paying it off for years, but I have to say: I like the way it looks out there all shiny and candy apple red.
I’m the first one on the block. The neighbors can’t help but stare. I can’t wait till Kominsky sees it. All summer he’s been rubbing my face in that ‘smart’ lawnmower he bought. Yeah, your lawn looks great from five hundred feet, Kominsky.
I’m sinking fast. I can’t hear them yelling from the boat anymore. Her long hair is a slow swirl of flaxen gold below me, just out of reach. The light’s fading, I can barely see her in the murk below.
Now her eyes are flashing, beckoning to me. A strong, cold hand grabs mine, and my downward progress quickens. I don’t know what’s down there. Probably nothing. I don’t know what I expected to happen. I just looked into her eyes and knew that I wanted her, at any cost.
I’m never going to get back to the surface again.