Today I am sharing part two of The Observer, my serial science fiction story. Two weeks ago, I introduced Taligunge, the alien observer who comes to Earth, and in this second part, she continues on just that journey.
If you haven't read part one, I highly recommend you check it out right here. And, as always, feel free to let me know what suggestions you have for the next installment! Part two commences now.
Bodies upon bodies lined the walls. Taligunge drew close to them – they were encased in a thin film that glistened in the light. Breathing tubes were affixed to their mouths and they respired with shallow inhalations. She shuffled down the corridor, looking into each of the shut-eyed faces as she passed, trying to discern the purpose of this operation. To quell her shock, she imagined that this was just another challenge from her guides, that the humans in these pods were simulations, and nothing more.
Even when she first started out at the homicide department, they gave her the tough assignments. At first she wondered whether her guides manipulated them to give her test assignments to prove she had a sufficient commitment level. But case after case taught her that humans could be just as vicious to one another as foreign planets could be to them. Every nightmare imaginable happened on this planet, eviscerations and cruel displays of flesh. When she transmitted her messages back home, she would shudder violently as it passed from her – the stories were ingrained deep in her viscera.
The sound of metal clattering to the floor broke her thoughtful silence.
She pinpointed its location: further down the corridor and towards the left wall. She flew to it, keeping her swift steps silent.
Taligunge had a standard issue pistol from the department, but she preferred her own weaponry. She did not possess the requisite level of skill to use the foreign firearm – the heft of the instrument and pressure needed to fire it made her blanch. She pulled out a studded handle and tapped one of the setting buttons on the side for a thin cutter, invisible to the human eye. The material crystallized before her and glimmered like a spider’s web in the relative dark. She approached the location of the sound and scanned the area with a sensor on her wrist.
Nothing: no activity, human or otherwise, to report. Taligunge scanned the region with her unsure visual system, but even then there was nothing. She stared at the nearest pods.
The humans inside were markedly drier and paler than the previous ones. Their gaunt appearance accented the woodenness of their features; their typically round features appeared to be shrinking into a boxy impersonation of human life. One man near her was particularly small and wan – his closed eyes bulged against his eyelids and his unclothed body displayed ribs that looked like one long sheet of plastic.
Taligunge turned to exit the way she came. There was nothing she could do here without backup. Her eyes roved over the unfortunate captures as she passed, unsure of whether she should call the police department now or wait until she could report back to her superiors and wait another day. She maneuvered out to the fire escape exit before taking out her civilian cell phone. She dialed the number for their anonymous tip line and gave in the details. She hoped someone would come before morning.
The transmission she sent that night contained disturbing images. She found memories of previous homicides, serial killers, framed suicides, coming back to her in one long sprawl as she panned over the faces of the victims. When the transmission concluded, she sat on her hard mattress and stared at the floor – she was shivering so furiously that it jittered back and forth.
The thin film that encased them perturbed her. She was reminded of the first time she had looked at herself in a human skin. She had held out her hand and the skin formed around it. Her pale violet glow dulled into a muddy brown, her long thin claws retracting into delicate nails, and a pattern of knuckles and veins laced over her where before there had been none. The skin traveled up her arms; she watched in the mirror as it engulfed her leonine shoulders and shortened her long torso. Her body conformed without effort. The fine layer of fur on her extremities thinned and layers of fat developed on her, like fast-growing fruit before it is plucked. All but her head was covered; her bright purple eyes staring out of a too-long face for the body she had appropriated. She put on the mask last, careful to close her eyes so she wouldn't see the change in progress. When she reopened them, she had flat features, thin cheeks, and a long nose that protruded from her face. Her eyes had settled into a deep black color. It was uncomfortable at first and she had been uneasy about the transformation.
But at that time everything was too exciting for much discomfort to set in. She was joining her warrior race in the truest sense of the word; the messages of protecting the weak that had enraptured her were finally coming to fruition. They would monitor her, but this Earth would be her new world.
In the Earth year that she had passed here, the glow of her task had worn off just as her skin color had. She observed most often that humans needed protecting from themselves first and foremost. But she did not believe herself totally discouraged.
The next morning, she woke to her cell phone buzzing on the bedside table and reached an arm over to pick it up.
“Good morning,” she said mechanically.
“You’re up early – you don’t even sound tired.”
It was Eloise, her partner at the police department.
“I rise early.”
“Healthy choice. We’ve got a suspected suicide case that the parents have called in as homicide today. They want us to take a look at the body and do some poking around. The ME said he’d have it ready by 10, but I’m pushing for 9 – are you up for it?”
Taligunge checked the clock timer affixed to her bedside lamp. It was 7:50am. “I’ll be at the office in thirty minutes. Then we can go to the examination room.”
“Great, maybe we’ll grab breakfast on the way if he’s running on his schedule. See you soon.”
They hung up and Taligunge pulled on her uniform.
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