by Danielle L. Parker
|part 4 of 11|
The bed was generous in its width and the sheets cool and smooth against his naked limbs. A fresh night breeze rustled through the open window. Blunt threw back the sheet, rose, stretched, and stepped to the window on bare feet. He leaned on the sill.
Moonlight from a moon slightly smaller than that other moon he remembered illuminated the peace. Scents of a strange, almost-familiar world wafted to his nose. In the planting below his upstairs window, he made out flowers he could almost name, their Earthly genes gently warping under the influence of a foreign soil.
Below, movement: Blunt tensed. He leaned over the sill. A child-sized, mop-headed creature, its wide flat mouth full of vegetation, looked up with a moronic grin. Its jaws chomped with machine-like regularity. Like a rabbit, it crouched in the flowerbed, pulling up plants with its hands and stuffing them into its mouth. Its teeth were flat and broad and frothy with green juice.
Under his feet, Blunt heard a woman’s angry shout: “Arlen! It’s in the flowers again! Run it off!” The screen door banged; a man’s shadow fell over the moonlit patio.
The zook watched the approach without alarm, chewing steadily. A trousered leg swung back for a kick; the zook squealed like a pig on the way to butchering. It fell on its side, its high-pitched squeals continuous and piercing, and scrabbled to evade.
Dr. Arlen Greene bent down and grasped a handful of the thick mop. “I’ll set it outside,” he called to his unseen wife. “I can’t see how this one got in again. Must have figured out how to work the new latch already. I’ll put a brace against the gate for tonight.” He marched across the moonlight-silvered grass. A garden gate creaked then thumped shut. Dr. Greene strode back across the lawn, brushing his hands in victory.
The exiled zook squealed without stop for more than three hours. Blunt, leaning on the sill, listened long into the night to the chorus of high-pitched cries that ascended everywhere in the darkness. Once, a higher-pitched squeal cut off abruptly, and for an instant, all fell quiet. The silence felt oddly breathless.
The captain shut the window thoughtfully, and went back to bed.
Copyright © 2010 by Danielle L. Parker