Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
A quiet Thursday night, working away on the laptop. Actually doing nothing of any substance. Too many opinions to agree with, laugh at, or marvel over. So many people being misguided. So many of them seemingly wanting to be, as an alternative to having to face the realities of their assorted situations.
The music fills the lack of companionship, a mix of Mendelssohn’s works reminding me of summers at home before my parents separated, and of long evenings studying with friends who’d been so close for such a short time.
A movement catches my attention. It’s not the first I’ve seen in my peripheral vision today, but this is the one where I have no doubt: something did actually move.
With that thought comes the waving of insectile limbs and something like a freakishly large spider climbs into view over the furthest arm of my sofa.
“Prepare to die.”
It launches itself at me! I throw myself from the chair and scrabble frantically across the floor. It hits the chair back, swings for a moment making curiously cheerful noises, then backflips to land on my laptop.
“Your suicide note will be a literary masterpiece.”
Suicide? Not likely.
I start to reach under the bed, then glance into the shadows there. Did something move?
The multi-legged maniac springs my way. Without thinking I pick up a copy of Gersten’s ‘An Initial Study of the Chreeskakt’ and swat the threat away. For good measure, I throw the book after it. It pancakes the creature. There’s a screech, and what sounds like swearing.
Springing up, I grab kitchen knife and cutting board. Wish I had a sword and shield, but residential permits for actual weapons are impossible to get without good reason or bribery.
“Ha! Now we’ll see who gets an obituary.”
The creature drags itself from under the bound volume, apparently taking a moment to read the spine.
“Flattened by a treatise on my people. Not sure if that’s apt or ironic.”
The voice has changed. Become familiar.
It waves a foreleg at me and chuckles!
“Before we demolish more of your home, shall we move to the dojo, or can we call it quits and go to Servalan’s for steak and sorbet?”
Spawn of a…
“Ralbatmakt? Thanks for the fright! When did you complete renewal, and why chose that arachnid horror as a new form?”
“While we soldiered on Sarvis, you told me about your Doctor Anonymous and the Eight Legs from Three. Something about them fascinated me. So, for this cycle, I’ve chosen to be one – or as near as my research in human archives allows. I didn’t know you had intergalactic guardians who had such amazing adventures. Are there any left? I’d like to meet one.”
I slide down the wall to sit on the floor.
“Do you remember the conversation we had about the human imagining form called ‘fiction’?”
I’ve never seen a proto-spider wilt in disappointment before.
“The universe is a much more interesting place in your collective imaginations, Gan. What we have is positively mundane.”
“Says the talking dinosaur who chose to come back as a giant spider for his next lifecycle. How many more of them do you get?”
Ralbatmakt picks itself up and wanders over to me, eight-legged gait occasionally uneven.
“Extra limbs always confuse me for a while.”
It places a foreleg on my thigh.
“This is the last, Gan. My millennium is up. But for this cycle I can hitch a ride on your back. We can have adventures, yes?”
How can I resist?
“That we can.”