There are three very important things to remember when you’re used to being invulnerable:
1) Stay away from unidentified rocks
2) Stay AWAY from unidentified rocks
3) STAY AWAY FROM UNIDENTIFIED ROCKS!
If I remember you
In everything you’ve said and done
Down to the look in your eyes
Will you remember me?
If I remember you
Through the dark days and the light
Tell me it isn’t a surprise
And please remember me.
If you do remember
Come for me when I am lonely
Give me your hand, help me through
If you remember me.
If you can remember
Realize that these memories live
They are what get me through the day
And just remember me.
It was a large forest, full of trees that blew their dying rusty leaves into the faces of unwary travellers trudging the autumn path. The leaves swirled and danced, collecting into little eddies of burnt umber and mahogany red, before turning skittishly aside and scattering back into the treetrunks.
The remnants of summer flowers faded away into sad little bundles of death, oxidized like everything else left over from a past season, and crisped by the sharp winds belonging to the back end of the year.
But the trees were content to settle their sap down into a congealed glut and wait for spring to resurrect them. They did not complain at the blustering of the north wind. They did not mourn the passing of summer. They stood, tall, proud and bare, beautiful skeletons awaiting the kiss of life.
The rest of us hid under scarves and hats and grumbled about the weather.
“So you’re telling me I can’t join the club?”
The woman on the other side of the desk rolled her eyes heavenward and gave a heartfelt sigh.
I can’t help it. I just have to get everything sorted out down to the last molecular detail. Especially when I’m told I can’t do something. That takes even more investigation. “You’re not legible,” she explained with irritated patience.
“I wasn’t aware my handwriting was part of the criteria,” I muttered.
“I think you mean ‘eligible’ rather than ‘legible’. While I admit, freely, that my writing isn’t the easiest to read, I doubt it affects my application.”
She stared blankly. I’m used to it.
“Shall we start again from the beginning?” I suggested with angelic innocence.
I thought she was going to explode. She looked around wildly for some form of support, and found it in her line manager, who happened to be walking past. Unfortunately for him.
He was a man with greying hair, and I was sure it would be much greyer by the time I’d finished with him.
“What seems to be the problem?”
The woman opened her mouth to explain, thought better of it, and closed her mouth again. “I think I’ll let the customer explain,” she said in a flash of wisdom, and retreated hastily.
I settled down to enjoy the next hour or so.
Well, I want to join that club. I really do.
American summer – hot sun, Arizona Yellow, Indiana Green, New York Shimmer, dust.
European summer – warm sun, bikini, Florence Terracotta, Barcelona White, pineapple.
British summer – London Brown, Atlantic Grey, optimistic sunblock and an umbrella.
When you are terrified half out of your wits and there is no other sound, your heartbeat sounds like a 45 cm bodhrán being battered by an overenthusiastic Irishman with bleeding fingers, and you feel as if it will come through your chest any moment.
Pete wished he hadn’t walked down that alley when he had. He hadn’t been able to stop them anyway, and if he hadn’t blundered into the scene, he wouldn’t be here now, crouching behind a stack of steel girders in an abandoned warehouse.
But Pete had never been what you’d call a fortunate man. His brother now… Michael always fell on his feet whatever he did. But Pete always seemed to get into awkward situations – and this might well be the last, because this time Michael couldn’t bail him out.
The halogen strip light above him flickered and buzzed into dull life, making him jump out of his skin. His heartrate quickened further, vicious panic seeping into his body and seizing him in a cold sweat. That light could mean only one thing. They were here.
He didn’t know who they were. He knew only that they were powerful, devious, and ruthless. You wouldn’t want to meet them up a dark alley, and Pete really wished he hadn’t.
The footsteps started. He shivered.
They came closer. One, two, three, four, echoing on the concrete.
Pete looked up into the barrel of a gun. He swallowed, hard.
“Hello, Pete,” said Michael.
Buckle up, people!
We left our mad tale with the President of Larta and SODA panicking because one lone, no longer immune, soldier, carrying the dreaded virus, was still spacebound, whooshing his way toward the sparkly blue planet known fondly as Earth…
Well, actually, it wasn’t a he at all. The lone Virus Fleet officer was a young and enthusiastic female Lartan called Moth. (That is a transliteration. At least, that’s what the official records call it. I would suggest the dictionary again.)
Moth would have been about nineteen at this time. Approximately. It’s so difficult to tell with aliens. If you had any idea how awkward it is when you meet an alien who wants you to guess their age… But I digress. Sorry, folks. Where was I? Oh, yes, Moth. She was, on Larta, bright and cheerful, soaked up knowledge like a sponge, and was always, always reading. In fact, the reason why she didn’t turn around and go back to Larta with the rest of the Fleet was that she had her small nose stuck in a book. Ok, it was a highly sophisticated alien-technology superinteractive telepathic-link-reader. Still a book. It counts. It does. Shut up.
She had just devoured the 1,197th page (Figuratively! I do wish you’d stop taking everything so literally. For goodness sake. Who’s telling this thing, you or me? If you say ‘Me’, I’ll…) when the call sounded. She said to herself, “I’ll turn round when I’ve finished this sentence…” But just then the hero got injured, so of course Moth got sucked back into the story. It was very gripping. Probably literally.
28 pages later, she yelled in outrage as the hero died.
400 pages after that, she sighed with relief as he was resurrected. (Don’t ask. Do not even… You know what? I’m going. If you don’t stop badgering me, I’m out of here. Ok? Fine.)
2,001 pages after that, she sighed with contented happiness as the hero and the heroine were united in matrimonial bliss.
She put the book down. And gasped. An alien world was before her. A gorgeous orb of blue, white, green, and brown, it shone like a jewel standing out against its setting, the blackness of space, and next to it, its peppermint-white moon, just the perfect size to keep the wayward planet on its slightly skewed ideal track.
Moth couldn’t resist it.
And she forgot all about the recall.
She braced herself for landing.