“Try to ignore it.”
“In dress uniform? This thing is wool!”
“It’s not wool. You only think it’s wool. It’s artificial. It’s a polymer or something.”
“Anyhow, it feels like wool.”
There was a commotion across the square. “Here they come. Remember, the Prime Minister is the one with the gray hair and the bushy tail.”
“Are we bowing?”
“No, not this time. Apparently it’s a grievous insult.”
“Of course it is. It’s always something.”
“Yep. Okay, straighten up now. And remember to smile.”
“God, I hate first contact.”
The thing growing inside of Ross doesn’t seem to be hurting her; it probably evolved to keep the host alive, a symbiotic relationship. She’s remarkably calm. I probably wouldn’t be handling it as well.
Now she says it’s talking to her. Maybe it’s communicating telepathically, I’m not sure. We can’t hear anything, and the sensors aren’t picking anything up, subvocal or otherwise. She won’t go into detail about what it’s saying, only that it promises to ‘take care of her.’ Whatever that means.
We asked Ross if it had made any promises about the rest of us. She wouldn’t answer.
Inside, with the door close, he tore the brown paper off and dug into the cardboard with his fingernails. He pulled newspaper out and tossed it over his shoulder like salt for luck…
…and there it was. A large dish covered with plastic, and in it a beautiful multicolored egg. There were no instructions, but he knew what to do: one small drop of water would begin its long-dormant life cycle.
It’s amazing how much ritual accumulates over the centuries: the robes, the candles, the drawings on the floor and ceiling, the interminable prayers and invocations. The virgin and the knife were the only things that were really necessary. She didn’t even need to be pretty. In truth, she needn’t even be a girl. Even the bowl was extra; after all, he could lap the blood off the stone floor just as easily.
Perhaps he would institute some reforms now that he had descended to this plane of existence. Couldn’t hurt. One really can’t let these things get out of hand.
“Sure. I figure, why waste your ammo? Arrows grow on trees,” she laughed.
“So, let’s get a couple things straight: I’m not interested in repopulating the species, and I’m not letting you into my hideout. But you can stay in town if you want.”
“I appreciate that.” It was a shame, too: she was young and pretty. “Just passing through. Seen many people?”
“Not live ones. Not for a couple weeks anyway.”
When the rest were fighting, or running, I hid. I was paralyzed with fear. George, Wendy, the mailman, the kids from next door: I heard them all die, ripped apart by those things. I heard Mr. Singh empty his shotgun before they got into his place and finished him off.
I hid, and I listened, and I’m not sorry. I’m not. If I’d have come out, if I’d have tried to help, if I’d even made a sound, I’d be dead too. Anyway, there’s no one left to judge me.
Sooner or later, rescue will come, and they’ll never know.
So, Steve: how about we try this again, from the beginning, okay? Great.