Zon picked up on
another sound. Hoofsteps. Footsteps. The tread of some unimaginable creature.
He spun, confused
by the acoustics. As he swung back, he distinctly heard the approach from his
right. Wrenching the utility beacon off his belt, he retreated a step towards
the whirling shadows in the grove of trees.
crested the hill, it’s blue beak the first thing visible.
“Oh!” It cried,
lifting its head and freezing.
his legs paralyzed between flight and fight.
“You scared me,”
a soft voice claimed. “I’ll just–go–”
The blue beak
pivoted, although now he recognized it wasn’t a beak at all. It was a headpiece
of some sort. The word eluded him, but he remembered seeing one before.
“Wait,” he called.
halted, but did not look back.
“You speak–” he
hesitated, assessing the slight profile, “—English?”
The hat snapped
back and brown eyes narrowed under the shade of the brim.
Baseball hat! That’s what his mother called it.
The figure cocked
He was pretty
sure it was a female, but the slim figure was cloaked in oversized garments,
and the long hair was pulled back by a twine, which was something the males on
The brown eyes
slid down his body.
“Your pants are
moving,” she observed with a slight blush.
A nagging thump
against his thigh alerted him that JOH was trying to get out. Zon slapped his
hand down to still the motion.
“It’s just my
droid.” He shrugged uncomfortably.
“Droid? Oh, your
drone? Were you flying it?”
Her head tipped
back and he saw a pale throat.
“Good day for
it,” she murmured, and stared curiously at him.
She was talking
to him in English.
And she looked mecaw–human.
Zon took another
glance around, hoping that his body eclipsed the swirling portal behind him.
“Is this Earth?”
he asked, searching the trees, but not seeing any buildings.
The girl’s eyes
flared in alarm. She stumbled backwards.
Inside his pants
pocket, JOH demanded attention, his incessant vibration driving Zon crazy. He
pulled open his pocket to give the droid a stern look. JOH’s animated face was
replaced with a string of text.
This IS Earth!
registered in Zon’s mind. The last time he came to this planet he was quite
young. But he remembered his mother’s caution.
Don’t say you’re from another planet.
Most of the people on Earth don’t know much about intergalactic
travel. They don’t know about life in other galaxies. And what they don’t
Remember, you are half Earthling.
On Earth your name is Jon. It is for your protection.
All that it meant
was he was a Gorzot…again.
the female hesitated in her flight, he tried for a more reasonable approach.
kidding,” he fumbled. “I’m not from here.” Where’s
here? “I’m visiting.”
glimpse over her shoulder, and the woman–girl–she looked young–more like his
age–finally turned back to face him.
“I can tell.”
He felt awkward
under her probing gaze, but he always felt awkward when anyone looked at him
for too long.
“How can you