Due largely to my appearance—an over-sized head, large black liquid eyes, thin lips and tiny nose—people often assign to me extraterrestrial origins. Far from being offended, I’m amused, and continue to be amused when people make that assignation. I was born on this planet, rest be assured, and inherited my looks directly from human parents. My mother had a large bulbous skull, despite being very petite. She also had an enormous brain and a PhD in molecular biology. My father, a statistician, had the big, lambent eyes. He was Hungarian. My mother often said he hypnotized her with those eyes. And I’ve found, in my strange walk through life, that I can also hypnotize women. That is to say, I’ve never lacked for dates, lovers and long-term squeezes. I’ve had a normal—perhaps even robust—sex life, despite my odd looks.
I like my looks. The capacious skull speaks of my intelligence. And my bottomless eyes absorb every detail of the world like black holes absorb matter and energy. My curiosity for the world is boundless. And my thin lips and tiny nose convey to all the delicacy of my physical and moral constitutions. I speak quietly but precisely. I never sneer at others, for I cannot sneer. I walk around my city with an open mind and open heart. If some choose to mock my appearance, I pity them, for they must surely hate themselves and their own flawed humanity in order to point the finger at me and suggest I come from another planet. And were that true, would you not be curious to know what life is like up there? Would you not wish to know why I am visiting? Would you not wish to know about my technologies?
Humans are silly creatures, when all is said and done. Our pettiness, our primitivism would likely put off any visiting aliens. Perhaps they’d incinerate us. When a group of lads standing at a corner accost me with references to E.T. and The Thing, I am not offended in the least. I face the lads and tell them this: Do you think that if I was a real alien I would hesitate for one second blasting you off the face of the earth, you pusillanimous little scumbags? They are surprised by my outburst, taken aback by my confidence, and alarmed by the long thin finger I point at them.
The crimson-robed Marquis stood outside the singularity—throbbing like a giant sapphire in the distance. It encompassed almost the totality of humanity, but no longer resembled anything human.
“Obsolescence or annihilation,” his consigliere had stated, when it was too late to change course. “Take your pick.”
“But it was meant to improve us. To hasten our transcendence.”
“You’ll be unable to isolate my individual cognitive module,” the consigliere reminded him. “Therefore, I bid you farewell. And forgive me for saying it has been a mixed blessing serving you.”
“I have always endeavored to be benevolent,” the Marquis said, but the consigliere, hastening toward the singularity, did not look back.
No no no. It had all been a terrible mistake. The Marquis was willing to admit that now. And it gave him little comfort to know that the last human gesture would be stretching toward the singularity like the hand of Adam.
A fly flew into Diego’s mouth. One hundred Fahrenheit in the shade and flies still buzzed around. They were tough. He rolled down the car window and spat. Must have been a dead body nearby. Flies like dead bodies. It wasn’t even funny, what with the maggots and so forth. He had an hour to kill before his grandmother finished with her hair appointment. She was getting a perm. That took time. He had agreed to take her this one occasion. His sister, who normally took her, was sick. She had gout. She looked awful. Gout was an awful thing. She got it from eating too many peanuts or something, Diego wasn’t sure. Flies buzzed around his head. He swatted at them but without much effect. He rolled up his window. He recalled reading how flies lived in a slowed down time frame. From their perspective, humans moved like giant sloths. Still, you could catch a fly now and then using misdirection. That was true of many things. Misdirection worked. Time seemed to pass as slowly as was possible. Diego shut his eyes briefly and listened to the ambient street noise, soothing save for the dogged flies, humming away. He switched on the radio and tried to find a station that wasn’t playing hip hop or annoying female pop singers. They all sounded the same. One fly in particular persisted, repeatedly landing on his cheek. After several of these contacts, Diego slapped at the fly but caught himself with a percussive wallop. His cheek smarted from the blow. All these flies. Must have been a dead body in the vicinity. He checked his watch and started. Geez, two hours had passed? He checked his watch again. He must have fallen asleep. Two fucking hours? Where was his grandmother? An ambulance pulled up to the beauty parlor, lights and sirens not engaged. Not a good sign. The flies swarmed around his car. There were so many of them. They blackened his windshield. He couldn’t see out. He could hear them massing. They covered his car like a writhing black sheet.
Joseph had told Ali the wall was too high.
“You will fall,” he cried to his friend, attempting to scale the immense structure.
Ali continued working his fingers and toes in the cracks and seams of the concrete, slowly pulling himself up. But the wall was far too high.
“Ali!” Joseph cried. “Please come down!”
But Ali continued climbing.
A whirring in the distance made Joseph start. He looked up, momentarily blinded by the bright sun.
Later they identified Joseph by his battered red Nikes. The boy found on the other side of the wall had no shoes.
Salvatore Difalco is the author of two story collections, Black Rabbit (Anvil) and The Mountie At Niagara Falls (Anvil). He lives in Toronto.