He sat stolidly in the one chair allotted. The room was dark and smelled faintly of pine oil and old curtains. He'd put it off long enough; the moment was nigh.
The image formed in his mind, tentatively, delicate as gossamer, then slowly coalesced, its contours sharpening, turning vivid and pronounced. Still, at first, as though fearful, its five eyes dared to glance about at the space of its making, furtively, amazed and curious. Breath expanded its massive thorax. Exhaling smoothly as though tasting, its frame shrank back to a gnarled carapace, black as coal. Surrounded by shards of fluctuating photons, it breathed in again, taking the illumination with it. With that, the image faded into shadow, dimly sparkled like a distant nebula, then shone brighter than before, stronger. Its circular mouth opened showing jagged serrated teeth. Its eyes glared with malevolence. Confidence building but nonetheless newborn and unsure, it moved, cautiously, flexing its jointed scale-encrusted tentacles, each ending in a razor sharp pincer. Opening its mouth, it ambled forward, though direction had no meaning in this universe of pure thought.
The man held firm to his emotions, determination to carry through uppermost in his mind. Previously, when experiencing this apparition he'd been afraid. Fear overwhelmed him and the image quickly dissolved into black emptiness. But not this time. He had resolved to bring it forth into reality as he'd been taught when a child on Baraxus, his home world, now far away in time and space. He'd been instructed by the elders and knew of his power. However, after coming here to planet Earth, taking on human form, he'd been influenced by its people and made uncertain. But not anymore. He knew what he must do; they had given him this mission; and he would not fail. The creature he was about to bring into the world was only the beginning. An entire legion of the same and others far more terrible would he create. Now was the time of completion.
Creatures of thought, they were nonetheless able to constitute physically at will, a 3-D hologram projection of a network of engrams. They could therefore move through all force fields as though they simply did not exist, while yet maintaining their original shape, altering mass piecemeal throughout their bodies as needed. They could not be harmed except by counter-thought, a force of nature the humans had not yet discovered. Essentially, they were invincible. They came from the depths of the psyche of those who dwelt therein. A failsafe did exist however, lest they might st some time turn on their creators. A backdoor, so to speak, which not everyone knew.
He closed his eyes to focus all his energies. The end of humanity would commence in this pitch black room at the edge of a small town whose name he could never remember. It didn't matter. Soon, his kind would arrive in their countless ships and the dominant species on this planet would be gone, a new home to replace the devastation of his own. He had but to say the words, the incantation, and the abomination would project from his mind into the room. Small though it be, it was still sufficient to contain it.
As he was about to utter the final pronouncement, there was a knock on the door.
*************In his present state of concentration, it sounded like thunder. The image wavered, waiting. Annoyed, he hesitated. Another knock, this one harder, persistent. Who could it be? he wondered. He had made a point of avoiding friends and company. He knew no one in this boarding house, refused to acquant himself, preferring solitude and privacy. The others respected that, seeing him as a loner, a thinker, or perhaps a dangerous drifter, some thought.
A believer in omens from when he was a child, he took this as a reason to forestall the projection. After all, he knew that once he committed himself to that course of action, he would reveal his true nature and the consequences would not be good. It was therefore necessary for him to proceed rapidly once begun. Nonetheless, he held the image tight and stood to answer the knock. He flicked the overhead light on as he opened the door. Before him stood Jeneveve, the waitress from the corner cafe where he took breakfast. She smiled showing perfect teeth, her hazel eyes sparkled, her long red hair curled down her soft round shoulders. What could he do? What could any man do? He smiled back, nervously.
"Jenny," he said, his voice dry. "What's up?" Curious and pleased in spite of himself and the gravity of his current undertaking. Not wanting to draw attention more than any stranger receives in a country town, he learned to speak in the idiomatic vernacular of the local community.
"Aren't you going to invite me in, Nomad?" On arrival he quickly noticed that most residents were called by nicknames. Seeing the word Nomad on the side of a trailer, he adopted it, believing it would serve as better cover.
A slight slur in her voice and the smell of alcohol on her breath put him on guard. He raced through his storage of information trying to ascertain the appropriate response. From overhearing men at the cafe, he was sure that to refuse this beauty would be a story told all over town and posssibly the cause of much questioning as to his sense, perhaps bringing far too much attention and therefore jeopardizing his mission. Moreover, it would make it difficult to ever enter that cafe again, hampering his quest to procure details on the characteristics, habits and propensities of the population. An important and integral part of the overall endeavor. Besides manifesting an army, he was also a spy and had to play the role.
But aren't they meaningless points, considering I am prepared to launch the invasion now? he questioned himself. His people are waiting for him; an armada sits just outside the solar system anticipating the word. It would take him less than a few hours to create hundreds of creatures, enough to cause chaos and hinder defenses. Others like him had taken up residence in scattered corners of the world, strategically positioned, awaiting the news that most assuredly would fill the airways. It was to be a staggered offensive, disorienting and intended to instill terror into the worldwide populace. But it all hinged on him; he was the point man; he had to initiate. It was long overdue, but, despite calls for action from a few, they waited, nevertheless, spending time gathering critical information concerning defenses and the tone of the people.
He felt confused as to the proper course, a problem he'd been having more often since his arrival some months ago. He attributed it to the human atmosphere. Taking their form included perceiving as a human, essential features of which had not been part of his education. It seemed he might put the whole project on hold once again, facing the danger of repercussions from his leaders, not known for their patience or mercy.
"Well, of course, Jenny. Come in."
As she entered she covered her eyes and asked, "What's with the overhead, you performing surgery in here? Lose something?"
"Sorry," he replied. Then turned on a lamp by the side of the bed and flicked off the bare bulb in the center of the ceiling. His flustering amused her, a smile showed the dimple in her chin, the sharpness of her facial features accentuating the fullness of her mouth. One straight-backed wooden chair was all he had so she plopped down on the edge of the bed. Where was this going? he thought. What am I to do? He couldn't help but ask, "Why are you here, Jenny?"
She laughed. "I've been thinking of you. I never see you with anyone, another woman, I mean. Don't you like women, Nomad?"
He savaged his mind searching for the implications of her remark. To no avail. However, he was certain the proper response was simply, "Why, yes, of course," acting a little offended. "I've only been here a short time and haven't done much socializing. I don't know any women, here, in this town. Except for you."
She reached out to grab his arm and pulled him over. Patting the bed beside her, he caught on. He sat.
"Got anything to drink?" she asked.
"No. I don't drink,..., all that much. I have,..., a liver condition, so, I have to refrain from alcohol."
She laughed again, a high trilling. "The way you talk. You a teacher? Used to teach in the big city but robbed a bank and now you're on the lam? The words you use sometimes. Makes me wonder. You're a mystery, mister Nomad." She paused to wet her lips, making a show of it. "What's your last name? You have one, don't ya'?"
It'd been so long ago, he had trouble remembering the one he gave to rent the room. That's all the lady wanted, a name. "Jennings," he said, unsure sounding. "Jennings," he repeated more strongly. "Nomad Jennings."
"Nomad can't be your real name," she teased. "What is it? Jim, Bob, Tom? Most people with ordnary first names choose tags that make them look romantic or dangerous. What's yours?"
He searched again, then said, "Alex." He'd heard that on the radio once and it impressed him, the sound so authoritative and smart.
"Alex," she said, pleased in a peculiar way. "I once knew an Alex. He was a writer. No, an architect. Designed houses for rich people. Didn't stay long. Not many rich people in Harvey."
Harvey, he thought. That's it, the name of the town. Strange how these humans give their towns personal names. He wanted to ask how it managed to be named that when she laid back on the bed and stretched her arms above her head.
Now, what do I do? he wondered in haste, almost panicked. He thought to make up an excuse to get her to leave. He was busy working on a project or a job or something, something important that needed to be done right away. It struck him how close that'd be to the truth. He wanted to feel anger, to tell her to get out so he could get on with it, the job at hand. But looking at her lying on the bed, her hair spread out, her tight jeans and tea shirt emphasizing her body, he felt urges coursing through his human form he'd not experienced before. Strong, powerful, unexplainable emotions and physical feelings unknown even on his own world. Uncontrollable with the promise of pleasure. Excitment forced his blood to race, his heart to beat faster, his hands to grow moist with anticipation. But of what? he couldn't imagine. He didn't know what to do.
"Nomad," she cooed, almost inaudibly. "I have a feeling it's been a long time for you. Such a loner, you are. What am I to do with you?" She grabbed his shirt with two fingers and gently pulled him down, bringing his face to within inches of hers. Her warm, salty breath sent shivers through his body. She parted her lips ever so slightly, and with her hand on the back of his head, curling into his hair, pulled him to her. A deep, moist, devouring kiss. Nomad almost went through the roof, literally. He'd never felt anything like it. The indoctrination program preparing him for this mission never covered a contingency of this type. It had not been anticipated or even known about, no doubt.
He rolled on top of her, instinctively, it seemed to him as he tried to keep some mental distance from the experience. She fussed with his belt causing him to sit up abruptly. Smiling ravenously, she removed her shirt and undid her pants. He copied her actions, then laid on top of her once again. The sight of her full breasts and the smell and uncanny smoothness of her skin tripped him into another dimension, one he had been completely unfamiliar with and unprepared for. She finished undoing his belt and then pulled her own pants all the way down to her ankles; her feet had been bare when first entering, so now she simply kicked her jeans away.
They kissed deeply, hungrily; he for the first time; she with experience and know-how. He surrendered totally to the moment, passion overwhelming his senses, pleasure filling his human form, exaggerating nerve impulses, activating sweat glands, accelerating blood flow, especially to a certain part of his body he previously thought had only practical use for releasing waste fluids.
She deftly turned him onto his back, a practiced move that surprised and pleased him with its ease. Removing his sandles with a flick, she pulled his pants all the way down and off, tossing them on the floor. She murmured praise at the size of his member, a compliment for which he had no reference or understanding, then straddled his legs, smiling broadly at their situation. He had no idea what to expect next, but with all his heart, welcomed it.
An ironic and unfortunate desire.
In the soft light of the lamp he stared in disbelief as extra arms appeared to grow from her sides. Four to be exact. At their ends were not hands but long two-fingered claws. He lay there, helpless and frozen with shock and fear. She leaned down close to his face, the smile suddenly replaced by a menacing hatred. "We know of you, vermin of Baraxus. We have known of you for some time. My species has been on this planet for generations, slowly infiltrating the humans, positioning ourselves all over the world. The others of your kind scattered across the globe have already been neutralized or are in the process of being so. Your ships detroyed to the very last. Your invasion is a failure. We, of Xulcatur, were here first. It is ours, this world called Earth. It has been ours and will remain so."
She placed a strong hand over his mouth as she forced her claw-hands into his sides, ripping his organs, rending his flesh. Blood squirted and surged, covering the sheeted bed, pooling on the floor at his feet. The horrid image in his mind, already seriously compromised by recent events, faded to utter blackness, the strength and the will to project it, gone.
Sadness was the last feeling he knew. But curiously, its source wasn't failure to complete his mission or the defeat of the invasion force; it was because he was losing his humanity, a new-found wonder that had beguiled and seduced him; a different way of being from his own he hadn't expected to grow to love and care for. It had vied with his real self from the beginning, as though it was meant to be, as though he had some connection through a past life. For duty, honor, and loyalty to his people he had been about to launch an invasion, reticently and with severe misgivings, to be sure, but a terrifying invasion nevertheless that would certainly, or very likely, have devastated most of the world population. But now, with his end so near, his true feelings could surface freely; a great load lifted from his chest.
However, relief mixed with sorrow for the humans, for the residents of planet Earth. The invaders of Xulcatur were worming their way into dominance, but he had come to know the spirit and character of humanity, at least this tiny corner of it. And he knew they would fight to the bitter end, and that nothing was certain. With a dying breath, he wished them well.
What would become of them, he wondered, of us?