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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Guest Post: The Andromedan, Strange

Good evening. Bill here. Amy's husband. Bill.

Amy isn't feeling well today. Mainly it's 'cause of the broken air conditioning unit. Outside it was 96° today. Inside the thermostat read 97°. Before cooking supper. We got blowing fans. We got a window unit to help supplement the coolth in the kitchen. The whole family's sitting around in what amounts to skivvies. And Amy's eyes are glazed and unfocussed.
So here I am, doing my part to keep the flame of literacy alive. By hijacking her blog.

Things – and people – are not always what they seem. Or even what they claim to be.

I had a roommate once, in a city far away. We’ll call him "Larry" because "Brad Pitt" was already taken. I had met him once before I moved in. He was looking for someone to help with the rent, and I was trying to get away to a city far away. We were introduced at a science fiction convention, which was the type of crowd I was running with at the time, and made arrangements.

“Larry?” people said. “He’s harmless enough.” So I showed up on New Year’s Day, with my final paycheck from my old job and an Escort full of my belongings. He was glad to see me, and gracious enough, and I settled in.

At some point in the following week I started noticing the peculiarities. The casual pants that were just a tad too short. The stiff curly hair combed straight out to the side like a sheet caught in a gale. The way his eyes got bigger at random moments, as if he had just had a thought that startled him. The way he stared at his hands as if in disbelief. The little secret smile.

Finally, I had to say something. He had been picking at the back of his hand and muttering under his breath. “You OK?” I asked.

He looked up, and I’d swear he was delighted I asked.

“I’ve got psoriasis!”

“Ah!” I said. “I hear that’s painful.”

“No, you don’t understand! It means something’s wrong!”

“They have medications now….”

“But it’s not supposed to happen!” Larry began waving his arms. “Something’s wrong with my shield!”

I struggled with myself. I could just walk away from him. I wanted to walk away. But the question forced its way out. “Shield?”

“The shield that’s supposed to protect me from harm,” he said, and his eyes lit up.

He wasn’t human at all, he explained, but a Star Being from Andromeda. He had been on Earth for twenty thousand years, and this was his first illness.

“I thought you were from Tennessee,” I pointed out.

“Well of course I have to change bodies occasionally. That’s where my last incarnation was. Oak Ridge.”

“Where the nuclear lab is? Do your parents know?”

Over the next few months I learned more about his special powers. His shield was impervious to bullets and knives, although he was worried that they may be failing. He could levitate whenever he wanted; he just saw no real need to right now. And it had been years since he had made himself invisible.

I was constantly astounded. Here I was, sharing an apartment with a Star Being! And to think that he disguised the fact from the world by posing as a shoe salesman at the local mall. I had to break him. Because I couldn’t afford to move out quite yet.

I looked for chinks in his logic. I challenged him to prove his assertions. I talked to friends who had known him for years. “Don’t fight it,” they said. “He’s taken down smarter men than you.”

Thanks, I thought. And I persisted. I just couldn’t help myself.

“So why are you here? On Earth, I mean?”

“We were each assigned a world to monitor. You guys just got lucky and got me.”

“And you report back to Andromeda?”

“That’s a problem,” he said as his face clouded. “I haven’t been able to make contact for years. My powers seem to be fading.”

“Like your shield.”

“Exactly! You do understand!”

One day, about three months into my ordeal, he got a twinkle in his eye and said, “You don’t really think I believe I’m an alien, do you?”

I sat back and stared at him, mildly stunned buy this turn of conversation.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Do you?”

“Of course not! It’s all a game, a big joke.”

The next day I came home to find him standing rigid in the middle of the living room floor, arms out from his sides, eyes rolled back in his head. He didn’t seem to be breathing.

“Yo, Larry,” I said. “What’s up?”

He took a moment to come out of his trance. He looked crestfallen. “Oh, nothing. I was just trying to see if I could levitate again. Sometimes,” he went on with a sigh, “I think I can feel it coming back. I guess I’ll just have to be patient.”

My own patience was nearing the end. I quietly let it be known I was ready to move, and I wasn’t too concerned about having to share an apartment again.

I still haven’t made up my mind about Larry. I figure there are three possibilities.

It may have been an elaborate hoax, a character he played for at least fifteen years, that nobody was able to break, but that nobody else believed. If so, nobody thought it was terribly funny, either.

He may have really believed, which makes him one of the saddest cases of delusion I’ve ever heard of.

Or, perhaps, he really was a twenty-thousand-year-old Star Being from Andromeda. It is a possibility. Given a big enough universe, anything could have happened. In fact, stranger things have happened.

But not around here.

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Copyright © 2008 by Bill Mullis. Used by permission


colbymarshall said...

Hope you feel better soon, Amy!

Carolyn Erickson said...

Bill, in that kind of heat, YOU guys will start believing you're aliens.

Sending some prayers for miraculous healing of the air conditioning unit. Or, you know, the Sears guy to show up on your doorstep.

Janna Qualman said...

Great guest post, Bill! And send well-wishes to Amy from her readers. :)