Night Terror

31 10 2011

Nimron was nervous.  It was his first day on the job and frankly, Natsuj scared him.  Natsuj hadn’t allowed much since he had been assigned as Nimron’s trainer, but his seeming contempt bled through anyway.  Although most of Natsuj’s thoughts were hidden behind a masterfully concealing m-blank, there was a smugness that leaked through around the edges.  Nimron’s self-consciousness about his own startlingly insufficient m-blank no doubt fueled the conception.

The sun was bright over the lunar-scape as their craft ascended from the crater.  Nimron tried to initiate small-talk with his mentor, but everything he thought seemed so banal and inane.  Natsuj didn’t even look at him and the m-blank stayed firmly in place.

Nimron decided to abandon his attempts and turned his attention to the scenery.  The trip to Earth would be short thanks to the shunt drive, but he would use the time to take in the sights.  He had seen the planet on his transfer in to the training facility, but it seemed bigger now, more real.

The craft dropped toward a dark light-pricked continent that Nimron recognized as North America from the training materials.  As they approached closer, he saw several slow moving indigenous aircraft making their way between the brighter cities on the surface.  He mentally went over his notes, trying to ignore the doubtlessly prying mind of his companion.

He was jolted back to reality when their craft stopped suddenly, the inertial dampeners mostly keeping up with the maneuver.  Nimron found the trees he saw below them fascinating.  It was amazing how the fractal patterns of plant-life was so similar between worlds.  Bisecting the woods was a stretch of smooth pavement.  Nimron’s eyes grew a little wider when he saw the two small lights approaching their position from the road.  It was one thing to see trees on an alien world, but quite another to consider all of the ramifications that interaction with intelligent life would hold.  They had been spotted.

Natsuj was all business.  “Prepare the field,” he said.

Nimron jumped a little at the sound of his mentor’s voice, but quickly recovered.  Demonstrating the countless hours of practice, Nimron manipulated the device to the left of him in the cockpit.  The vehicle was about 50 yards from their craft when its lights dimmed and it rolled to a stop.  Natsuj deftly set their craft down on the road in front of it.

Natsuj sent a single thought to Nimron, “Let’s go.”

They exited the craft and walked slowly to the vehicle.  Nimron couldn’t believe how difficult it was to walk on this planet.  The gravity was much greater than he could have imagined, especially after training at the base for three lunar days.  The lunar gravity was less even than that of his home world.  The occupants of the vehicle stared in horror as they approached.  Humans were even more frightening in person that they were in the holo-suites back home.  The eyes were small and the jaw was thick.  Hair grew from the top of their box-like heads and grotesque protuberances on the front and sides of the head hinted at the mucus filled cavities that lay beneath.

Nimron followed his mentor’s lead and pulled the flasher from where it hung at his side.  The series of flashes that emanated from the device would produce a type of m-blank in the mind’s of the human’s that would block their remembrance of the encounter.  Their effectiveness was limited by distance.  It was imperative that they get close enough to do an adequate job.  Nimron felt a spotlight of confidence shine into his mind from Natsuj.  It was the only thing that kept Nimron from fainting as he peered into the passenger compartment of the human vehicle.

Job completed, Natsuj and Nimron returned to their craft, leaving the confused humans blinking.  They would be at their destination before the humans came to their senses.  The craft rose and darted to the proper coordinates, a farmhouse hidden from its neighbors and the road.

“Showtime,” Natsuj said as he activated the bright light and field generator.

Nimron had been dreading this part.  He wished that he wouldn’t have to go in there alone and unabashedly projected this thought into his mentor’s mind.  The sensation he received back was like the slamming of a door.  Natsuj was against the idea.  Someone needed to operate the controls from inside the craft and it was not going to be Nimron.  This method of instruction seemed cruel, but it was effective.  They would both soon know if Nimron was cut out for this job.  If not, his expectation of a faculty position would come to naught.

Exiting the craft, Nimron made his way to the house.  He held a Matter Conduit in his long fingers.  Sliding the adjuster with one finger, he stepped up and through the door and into a narrow room with chest high counters on either side.  A food preparation area.  He wished he could keep the Matter Conduit turned on and float all the way into the bedroom, but his instructions had been clear.  He turned the device off and stepped down.

Splash.  He looked down and realized he had landed in a small water-filled dish with his left foot.  Movement from the edge of his vision stopped his breath short.  A small animal of some kind had been awakened from his slumber on a pillow near the opposite end of the room.  Apparently the field had no effect on the small pet.  Luckily, the animal was more afraid of Nimron than he was of it, barely.  The creature ran yipping from the room while Nimron considered doing the same.  Instead, he steadied himself and continued into the house.

The mock-up at the training facility had been mostly correct about the layout of the house aside from the fact that the first door was not the bedroom he expected, but rather a closet.  He quietly cursed aloud to himself, imagining Natsuj’s patience diminishing with him.

The second door was the bedroom and as he entered, he could see the two human shapes asleep on the bed.  With the field activated, neither would have voluntary muscular control.  He stepped carefully toward the bed, but not carefully enough.  His foot caught on a furry mass and he found himself sprawling onto the bed.

Things got much more complicated with awake subjects even with the field active.  It was something his instructors had drilled into his head and now he was seeing the truth of it first hand.  The humans’ eyes went wide with terror as he scrambled off of the bed.  He looked down to see what he had tripped over and saw another animal.  This one, it looked like, was affected by the field.  It’s fur was standing on end and it was making a low purring sound.

Nimron ignored it and turned his attention back to the bed.  He had been instructed to take the female one, but at that moment his training failed him.  He couldn’t visually tell the difference between these two.  He looked from one to the other and remembered one of the methods taught to him by his Humanities professor.  He reached one slender hand toward the one lying closest to him and ran his hand down the front of the human.  It took all his effort not to blanch at the  feel of human flesh under his hand.

Luckily, he was able to convince himself that the one closest to him was the female.  Relief flowed over his body as he realized that he wouldn’t have to check the other one.  Nimron activated the Matter Conduit, pointed it at the female and pressed the Receive button.  The room lit up and she slowly floated to about eye level and then out and through the wall toward his craft and the waiting Natsuj.

With the female gone, Nimron set the Matter Conduit onto the bed and retrieved his flasher.  The flashing lights relaxed the male enough that he closed his eyes and drifted back into a heavy slumber.  Picking the Matter Conduit up again, he followed the female out of the house.

“The female is stowed, let’s go,” Natsuj thought to Nimron.

Nimron wasted no time getting aboard; he was glad the night was almost over.  It wasn’t until he was sitting next to Natsuj on their way back to the lunar base that he realized how frightening the experience had been.  It might be time for a career change.




2 responses

31 10 2011
David Montgomery

Nicely done.

1 11 2011

Who knew that aliens are scared of us box-headed humans? Nice writing, fun to read.

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