I swear I didn’t roll the apocalypse on purpose…
I took a deep breath before I stepped outside. Amy was sitting on the shallow edge of the empty swimming pool, bouncing a rubber ball off the bottom, the far side and back to her with such precision that she threw then held her hand up waiting for the ball’s return. Thump, thump, thwak. I wasn’t sure if she could control the ball, or if she involuntarily calculated the angles.
My eyes drifted to the windows of their own accord, and repressed a shiver when I saw the force field, made of the water from the pool, holding out droves of hungry, angry, frightened people. Most had some sort of weapon. In another hour or two, when the figured out they couldn’t get through the field, they would turn on one another.
Just like the last two mobs.
Or had it been three?
I stopped a few feet away from Amy, and cleared my throat.
“What is it, Brad?” she asked in a voice that held none of her old kindness.
“The people here in the hotel are running out of food and water.”
The ball hit Amy’s palm with a smack, and I braced myself as her head turned.
Gone were the blue eyes and blonde hair. Now her eyes glowed silver, and her hair had turned jet black. Her skin looked like yellow parchment. I could see the blood running through her veins, and it wasn’t red. Or blue.
I swallowed again, and had to remind myself that this was no longer my wife.
“You said they had another week,” used-to-be-Amy said in a flat voice.
“You, uh, used some of the water to expand the shield.”
Those alien, silver eyes stared at me. It cocked her head to the side—just like Amy always did when she was about to tease me—and smiled. Only the smile made me want to run and hide. “My bad.” It returned its attention to the pool and threw the ball.
I wasn’t sure how powerful this…thing inside my wife was. Could it hear the people up in their rooms planning to kill her? Did it know that over half of the population of the world had died in the past month after it had taken most of the drinking water to bond itself to my wife?
Did it care?
The only reason it had kept those of us in the hotel alive was because we amused it.
Well, it probably wouldn’t be very amused when a mass of people came to chop it to pieces.
Which is why I was really here. My heartbeat sped up, and sweat formed on my brow as I closed the gap and squat down beside used-to-be-Amy.
Thump, thump, thwak. The ball smacked her hand again, and she held it. Her head turned and she gazed right into my eyes.
For a moment I couldn’t breathe, let alone talk.
I’d seen predators in the wild—big cats, wolves and such—and they had looked at me with a sliver of respect overshadowed by an interest in how I would taste.
These eyes held exactly no interest in me. As if I were an insect in its path that didn’t even need acknowledging.
I screwed up my courage and spoke in a shaking voice. “I was wondering, is my Amy still in there?”
It blinked. “You mean the soul who inhabited this body?”
I nodded, afraid words would fail me.
It thought for a moment. “I have no destroyed her. She is still…there.”
“Can I talk to her?”
She cocked her head to the side again. “Why?”
“To—” My voice caught, and I swallowed again. “To say goodbye.”
“Why? She is still there.”
“Will you let her out again?”
She shook her head. “She is safe.” Then she returned her attention to the ball and the empty pool.
I had one job today, and that was to find out if this thing could be hurt. Now I knew my wife was alive, my mission had changed. I licked my lips. “There are people here who want to kill you.”
“I am aware.”
“I came to warn you.”
“You came hurt me,” she said. The thump, thump, thwak cadence of the ball didn’t falter.
I slowly rose.
“Go ahead. Try to stab me with the screwdriver in your pocket.”
Sweat suddenly coated Brad’s palms. “What will happen?”
Thump, thump, thwak. “Nothing.”
“I don’t want to hurt my wife.”
“I told you, she is safe. Now try to harm me, or the people here won’t trust you anymore.”
“Why do you care about that?”
“It would bring my amusement to an end.”
I took a step back. Then another. “What are you?”
“Does it matter?”
Anger boiled up inside of me. I drew the screwdriver, yelled and drove it into the thing’s temple.
Only even with all of my weight it didn’t penetrate. The screwdriver bounced off as if the head had been diamond. I stood with my mouth open. The screwdriver landed on the cement with a ting.
Thump, thump, thwak. “No go. Come up with a better plan. You know where to find me.”