A call from the wheelhouse: “Where?”
He pretended not to hear. A believable pretense: at the bow the crashing furor of the waves was unrelenting. But the impatient call came again: “Where, man!”
In his mind he was a fish, far from his human body. He broke the churning surface and looked around quickly, spying a distorted speck of ship on the horizon.
Uncomfortably human again, he pointed: “There!”
But they don’t tolerate sedition. Keep putting speeches like that out over the Net and there’ll be Grodon warships in orbit before you know it. Not a hundred light years away at the Sector Outpost: here.
And then he was there, his voice coming through now even before his expression became clear. His soothing, seductive tones were familiar. The girl she did not recognize, but it didn’t matter: she could bear no ill-will, plot no revenge against another of his victims.
She let the image of their superimposed bodies blur and die. Time for the curse.
The kids had been afraid of it, at first. Emily wouldn’t stop crying, and her mother had begged them to do away with the thing. But now: Emily was the boldest of all the children. As the others packed their first snowball, she was winding up to launch her second, right at the zombie’s face
Soon the flames would be extinguished and the room would fall dark and silent, and from keyhole and crevice would emerge the pixies, the sprites, and the Will o’ the Wisps, to perform their aerial dance: the evening’s true entertainment.
They were suddenly all around us, but Urbo — our guide — seemed calm enough, so I left my sword in its sheath. One of the party cautiously came forward and spoke to him at length. As he answered, Urbo pointed back along the path from whence we came, and then forward, presumably towards our destination.
As the two conversed the others filtered closer through the brush into view: stocky and muscular for Elves, primitive, a marked contrast from the Black Coast clans. Beside me, Bougnard whispered, “They look disappointed that they won’t get to eat us.”
“The conversation isn’t over yet.”
I was shaking; the adrenaline released during the chase was still coursing through my veins, causing my heart to hammer away in my chest. The robot stood motionless. I waited with breath held for the beam to reach out and slice me in two. After what seemed an eternity of waiting, I finally wondered if it had shut down: I moved a few steps to the right, and sure enough, it failed to track me.
I considered pausing to sabotage the robot, but thought better of it. This is my chance to escape, this, right now. I turned and ran.