Chapter 5, "Story Time With Christopher"
I have to admit I was ever so slightly alarmed that Christopher would be so fearful of a bunch of Tallybonkers. I mean, hadn't she, just one year prior, taken a big slew of them out with one gun blast? What was the big deal, here?
"Christopher," I said, beginning my sentence, "what is the big deal, here?"
My friend laughed a little, which is totally not what I expected her to do, considering she'd just gotten done saying how scared she was and everything. "Frig," she mused thoughtfully, "sometimes I forget how little you really know about aliens."
All of my hackles raised simultaneously, like a Rockettes finale, legs flinging straight up in the air, only if all of their legs were made of hackles. "What do you mean, I don't know that much about aliens? I'm freaking dating a dang alien! I think if anyone has a clue about aliens, it's me." I crossed my arms solidly across my chest, indicating that yeah, that's right, I do know a crapload about aliens. So there.
Again, Christopher chuckled merrily. Hector 2.0 sputtered the words "Inaccurate and/or insufficient data," which didn't make any sense to me. I don't speak robot or anything.
"Frig, have I told you much about...my dad?" Chirstopher pried dramatically.
"I know that he doesn't like you very much and that he created an army of robots out of humans and that he's kind of eccentric," I said, listing off on my fingers the attributes of Mr. Haberdash that I knew of.
"Other than that. Like, his life story."
"Oh," I said. "No."
"Well, have a seat! Sit down in a comfortable place, cross your legs Indian style, and prepare for me to tell you..." she waved her hands in the air emphatically, "the strange and intriguing story of..." she pirouetted and arabesqued, which was cool considering I never knew Christopher took ballet, "my father." She bowed deeply, at which point, the lights went out all at once. From somewhere above her, a spotlight whoomped onto Christopher, blocking every other visual input out of view aside from the dust particles floating around her flaxen skin. This was weird.
She rose slowly, wide eyes locked with an audience presumably much greater than just me, but they were an invisible audience, because I was the only one in the room. She then began reciting a likely well-rehearsed monologue, while flinging her body about in an interpretive dance to go with her story.
"The year? Twenty years ago. The place? The town of Spatulas. My father arrives with his well-traveled partners, men who had been working with him for years to learn about the infestation of aliens on our fair planet." She twirled a little, landing in a crouch.
"Aliens, you see, do not come from the planet Earth. They come from other planets. This is what makes them aliens. But the thing is, Earth tends to fascinate all sorts of aliens, because our planet is so rich in resources, many of which we, as human beings, are unaware." Her fingers twitched twitchily. "Resources aliens could use. To some alien species, human beings themselves are valuable resources. To others, well, they just like the beauty of watching planets explode." A leg flung up in the air, and the rest of Christopher's body followed gracefully behind.
"Father loves Earth, as I'm sure you do, too. He did not want to see his planet raped and pillaged by alien species. As it turns out, Spatulas is a veritable epicenter of alien activity. Father and his comrades relocated here to further study the influx of this activity, and discover ways to stop it. Their work began innocently enough, and for the first several years, things went quite well." She began spinning rapidly in place.
"But all was not well for long. In fact, all became quite unwell in a rather abrupt way. For father's partners began dying. At the hands of aliens. Aliens who did not approve of my father's alien hunting shenanigans. One by one they fell in the line of battle, until ultimately...finally...father was the only one left." She fell to the ground, arms outstretched, panting heavily. Very gradually, with great care, she raised her head up.
"So you may understand why my father is the way he is. And why he has trained his children to know as much about aliens as possible. But unfortunately, many of the secrets for alien hunting died with those people my father worked with. And one of those..." she stood up, carefully, carefully...one leg at a time... "is the very secret weapon the Tallybonkers are gearing up to use." She pulled herself into an upright position, head bowed, silence echoing around her like the walls of a cave. Then, sharply, her head raised, and her arm shot from her side out perpendicular, one finger pointed solidly at me. "To use on you, Frig." She held her gaze and the creepy pointing for several eternal seconds.
And then she collapsed.
The lights came back up. Hector 2.0 snapped serenely in approval, the best he could with his robot fingers. I sat rigidly, not really sure where to go from here. To be honest with you, I was all kinds of freaked out. This wasn't exactly how I'd expected my visit with the Haberdashes to go.
Christopher fetched herself a bottle of water from a nearby cooler. "Want one?" she asked me.
"Um. I kind of want to go home," I stated as calmly as I could, considering the circumstances.
"What?" Christopher shrilled.
"I made you a Valentine, Frig," Hector 2.0 clanked, holding a pixelated card out to me.
Christopher shoved his metal arm out of the way. "What do you mean, go home? We have so much to do! We need to plan, strategize, I need to teach you things, ways to protect yourself-"
Everything she said sounded very logical and important. But I couldn't get the image of her wild and crazy monologuing eyes out of my head. And every time I looked into her regular eyes, I saw the crazy eyes, and I felt uneasy and weird.
"I would stay and stuff," I tried to explain, "except that I just don't want to."
She seemed hurt. Hector seemed downtrodden on account of not being able to deliver his Valentine. I felt bad, and crept over to him to take it from his robot claw. When I did, I heard a little whirr, as if this action pleased him somewhere in his binary brain.
Christopher said nothing. Her face told me everything I needed to know, and that was that she felt I was making a mistake and she kind of thought I was a jerk right now and I noticed that she wasn't even wearing her name tag, something I hadn't noticed before, and I wondered why I didn't notice it. Had we moved beyond name tags? I didn't know what this meant. But I knew something in my stomach churned with emotion, and I had to get the heck out of there.
"I'll see you at school," I muttered uncomfortably, and ran out of the house.