The eraser room. In here waiting for Liz. This room accommodates two classes of activities: cleaning erasers, and making out or fucking, and the thought of the latter seems suddenly grotesque and i wonder if i am a closet puritan or will grow up to be one.
Liz is right on time. She comes in and says, So. This is the famous eraser room. I’ve never been here before.
I just thought we needed to be private, i say.
Right, she says and turns and locks the door.
You were right about Topolsky. She isnt what she seems to be. She’s trouble.
Oh, she says quietly.
I turn and remove a section of wall that had been placed to close a vent into an office room.
She’s been using this office, i say. I thought we might find out why she’s really here.
Yeah, Liz says and comes over next to me and looks thru the vent. The office is empty now but for a desk. Liz is close enough that i can smell her skin and i feel my body getting out of control and it makes me angry at myself.
I say, She has 6th and 7th periods off so we may be here awhile.
We sit down to wait and Liz says, Okay, i’m still confused. If you crash landed in 1947 RU like a 70 year old in a 16 year old body? Or do you guys just age differently? Is one alien year equal to several human years?
I cock my head at her and say, You’ve given this much thought, havent you?
Kind of, she says and grins selfconsciously.
Well, we know we came out of the maturation chambers in 2003. We dont know how long we were there. When we came out we looked like three year olds.
So, were you um…like, green?
Before you took human form were you three feet tall and green and slimy? You know, i’m sorry about asking this. It’s Maria’s question.
I look at her without saying anything for just long enough to make her uncomfortable. Then i say, No, we just always looked like this. And i can tell you now because it doesnt matter anymore. It’s too late for it to make any difference. You earthlings are so stupid and arrogant. And vulnerable. It started when i healed you. I placed the seed in you then and by now it’s worked its way around your spinal cord and into the brain ventricles…
Liz’s face goes from confused to disturbed to…
…around the cranial nerves. And when you touched the next person you infected them and so on. It’s been spreading exponentially. Oh, sure, you feel fine now, but not for long. An armada of ships is on its way. Soon all of you earthlings will be feeding us for a long, long time.
I give her an evil leer. When i see by her face she’s starting to believe it i stop and let the laughter bust out of me and i see how pissed Liz can get when she knows she’s been had.
You…you actually believed me Oh, that’s the funniest part of all. Oh, you earthlings…
UR such a dick, she says, laughing. When she stops laughing she says, Dont ever do that to me again.
I wont. One of those in a lifetime is enough. I’m sorry. Things are so intense and i just couldnt resist.
So you dont really know what planet you’re from or who your people are other than Michael and Isabel.
No idea, i say. Not a one.
That must be liberating, in a way.
Indeed? How is that?
Um, well, with me you know like my parents own the Crashdown so everybody in town knows who i am. If i so much as get a haircut everybody knows about it and feels entitled to tell me their opinion of it. It makes life claustrophobic. How am i ever supposed to become whoever it is i’m supposed to become when everyone’s a voyeur and they’re all studying me? Sometimes i wish i could be invisible.
I bury my face in my hands and say, Dushka, sometimes i wish i didnt have to be .so invisible.
She says, You know, Michael and Isabel have such beautiful, soulful eyes. Like nothing i’ve ever seen on earth.
Then i presume by implication that i do not.
No, Max. Your eyes are all too human. You have these gray eyes that look kind of dead. When i look into your eyes it’s like looking into the eyes of an assassin.
Thank you, i guess. Maybe it goes with being boss alien. IDK how it came to be like that. It just always has been. But it seems almost a pointless formality because i really have very little control over Isabel and almost none over Michael. I always have to be careful how i handle Michael.
Liz looks at me intently for a moment and says, You dont think Michael and Isabel respect you, do you?
This catches me completely by surprise. I say woodenly, I never thought about it but no. I dont think they do. I dont think they love me much either. I’m more of a nuisance to them than anything else. I mean, i’m not bleeding over it but…
Max, give yourself and them more credit. They respect you far more than you think. And i know you feel guilty about saving me and all the shitstorm it’s caused but that’s all the more reason you have to be strong. Dont go to pieces now. You’re too important. We all need you.
Well i guess…when i saved you i undermined my credibility. I cant tell them not to do something i’ve done myself. It shows me as a hypocrite.
Then just say, Do it cause i said so.
This is getting tiresome, Liz. Dont try to talk me up like this. Save it for your other friends. You dont know anything about it…
I shut up immediately when we hear the door to the office open and close. We crowd closer to see and hear. Topolsky is in there with a guy in a suit. She says, Okay, i’ve looked thru all of them and this is where i want to get started.
Michael Guerin, the suit says. Have you interviewed him yet?
No, she says. He hasnt set foot in school since i’ve been here. But if Mohammed wont come to the mountain…
You want me to go talk to him?
No. I’ll do it. Just check to make sure the address is correct.
You got it, he says.
Liz and i just look at each other. It’s not immediately clear what to do but it is clear this could be big, big trouble. For Michael and maybe for all of us.