Author: Jolie Lindholm

Broque’s earthly ensemble fit like a glove, so comfortable, in fact, that he decided to leave it on for the entirety of our rendezvous. I followed suit. Feeling green and anticipating my first report, I’d already begun peeling at the pale flesh covering my left index finger. I hoped he didn’t notice.

My eyes settled on cheaply painted black bedposts as he spoke, chosen in lieu of real wood.

“Aza? Are you listening?” Broque said.

The aroma of a potted palm tree crept like a vine from behind him. “Yes — yes, I heard you,” I said. “Have you brought it?”

He slid an oversized, tanned appendage into the pocket of his loose powder blue slacks. His greased bangs sprang forward as he leaned in – his right arm outstretched.

There it was. A tiny, unassuming vial that glowed violet from within its glass. It was the Extinction as it became known to us.

Its chill shocked me. I secured it under the elastic of my platinum bouffant wig. I sipped Scotch Whiskey and winced, glad it affected me the same as it would the natives, dulling the blow of what came next.

“You’re on your own now,” Broque said. “I’ve been ordered home. You’re to do this singularly.” The aluminum chair frame bent and creaked under his weight.

“You what?” I said. “This was to be a dual mission. I was promised a partner to help see it through.” The bottom of my khaki bell-bottom caught on the leg of the patio table for a moment.

He squirmed and loosened the galaxy-patterned fat noose around his neck. The white blazer he chose may as well have read “Dr. Broque”, but his bedside manner was terrible. “This wasn’t my choice, but you’ve been prepared for this.”

“I simply refuse to do this alone,” I said.

“Mrs. Beauregard will be the wick,” he said. “Her next office joe will come with a dash of death. Let her gabbing start the spread.”

The scratchy, pink and pottery bedspread was strangely inviting.

“You left for a moment,” he said, tapping his fingers rapidly on the tabletop. “Do you think you can handle this?”

“I—this wasn’t part of the program,” I said. I could feel the words exiting slower than intended. The second glass made things easier to swallow, but I didn’t like my options.

“It’ll have to do. Guard ‘The Extinction’ with your life,” he said. “You have just one chance to lay waste. Think of our kind and what we can build here. Shirley is the perfect host.”

Broque stood abruptly to leave, and I joined him, but my beverage caused the watercolor clouds to shift. He caught my arm as I felt something slippery hit my cheek. We watched in slow motion and gasped in unison as it crashed against the concrete, spilling my one shot at this.

My aqua, saucer-shaped eyes met his, void as night, as I uttered my favorite human expletive, “fuck!”

The sun instantly went out. An alarm blared. My skipping heart was dunked in bile.

“Aza, next time make sure the elastic is tight enough to hold,” Xam said, reduced to a brassy voice in my earpiece. “We may need a smaller wig for that tiny head of yours. Solid, Broque, but more confidence for the next one. There won’t be second chances for the real thing.”

I tore the skin from my natural form and yanked the itchy locks, tossing them aside. I downed the rest of the foreign amber liquid, stars circling, hoping it would help me dream. Tomorrow’s dry run would have to be just that.

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