I had just sat down to lunch at a little café on Martin Luther King Boulevard when the Krellian came around the corner. It was attempting to look inconspicuous; which is practically impossible for a twelve foot tall slug. I slouched down in the booth and pulled my menu up higher hoping that the damned thing would pass me by. A ridiculous charade as the menu was no larger than a 3x6 index card.
Naturally he saw me.
I say he of course because all the Krellians left on earth are males. The females left some time ago for the artificial moon Calypso that’s orbited the planet for the last five years.
“Sir,” he said using his most authoritative voice, “you are required to appear before the magistrate at 0923. You will be required to”
Get out of my head, slug, I said as I cut my eyes at him. You know that I don’t like it when you use telepathy, and you know what happens when you piss me off.
“Sorry sir,” he said with his naturally gurgling voice, “but city ordinance 1-2.45K/7c requires that all missives of a security clearance H or higher be provided to their recipients through telepathic means.”
And what did I tell you about that?
“You said that for the last four years you had been buying salt by the truckload and that if put to the task no one would ever find my shriveled corpse.”
And yet you decided to test me today, I asked as I took a sip of my tea. Seems rather bold don’t you think.
“No sir, well, yes, sir. But you see it wasn’t my decision. Sgt. Tompkins instructed me to proceed in this manner even though I told him that it would only make you mad and that you’d threaten me. And he said, ‘Don’t worry about it Slug’ – which is highly offensive to me and I wish both of you would stop using that slur!”
He was visibly shaking now and the slimy mucus that covered his body was flowing so freely he was having trouble staying put. If not slug, I asked, then what would you prefer I call you?
“My name, sir.”
Your name? I didn’t think Krellians had names.
“We don’t, normally. But after discovering that the term ‘slug’ was not an endearment the Krellians at Station A16/b567 have determined that we shall adopt individual names.”
Is that so?
What’s your name?
“Oh! My name is Kr178-3a.”
I stared at him for a moment trying to figure out if this was one of their ‘exceptionally funny’ jokes. It’s hard to read a Krellian. Their massive mouths seem to run from one side of their face to the other and while they display frowns, smiles and the like it’s rarely at the same time as a human being would use them. Don’t even get me started on trying to look them in those eyes that extend a good two feet over their body. I finally decided that I had to ask, Is that a joke?
“Of course not sir,” it said. “Why? Is it not a good name?”
I’ll be damned if it didn’t sound like he was going to cry. No, no, it’s a fine name. Very, I searched for the words, Krellian. He seemed to be satisfied with that and my promise to come directly to the station after I finished eating breakfast; so he slithered off, leaving a slime trail in his wake.
I paid for the tea and left as soon as Kr178-3a was out of sight.
Walking up Montpellier St. I found myself going over last night’s terrorist attack – of course that’s not how the news was reporting it. The official statement was that the Devon Chemicals refinery had sprung a leak beneath one of their reservoir tanks and that it had made its way to the city’s water supply.
If only it were that simple.
The truth was that a splinter group from the Mauz Liberation Movement had released a biological weapon in the sewers beneath Orphius Circle and we weren’t real sure what it did yet. Seventeen patrolmen and women had been down there when the bomb went off and there wasn’t enough of them left to figure out who was who. Hell, there wasn’t even enough biological residue to perform a DNA test.
In the six hours since the attack we had already arrested three cells of the Orphius Circle in Low Town. All of them were caught unawares which has led to the overwhelming opinion that what we have on our hands is a massive cluster-fuck where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.
And then there was the tape.
He called himself Man-one and said that this wasn’t just a single incident but a clarion call for all the good people of the world that Judgment Day was coming. He was a relic from the days when people had more in common with the monkey than with each other.
My ex-wife used to say that we were better off when we believed in the Old Gods and whispered our sins to them at night. I suppose she would know as she spent her nights on her knees and would confess her sins when she thought I was asleep.
I haven’t slept in ten years.
Strange, I haven't thought about her in three years, not since the day she left me. I had come home after working a double shift, found the letter on the door, and my empty home. Oh, she had left me a folding chair and two warm beers – she had taken the fridge.
Fuck her, I grumbled as I came to a stop in front of the statue of Marian Kraft and a couple of tourist from New Nevada crossed to the other side of the street whispering about my foul language. And fuck you too, I yelled! You damned, self-righteous, new age, tree-hugging sons of –