Chapter 16, "Lessons"
This town has seriously misjudged the alien threat in our midst. Everyone's just accepted these creepy, slime-covered dorks as friendly, benign, safe, even. The whole display at the wedding, the entire audience practically crying out for alien rights, was proof of that.
I had to stop it, or else other girls might end up like Frig. Other people might fall for this cult of alien worship, and then be really surprised when they wake up one day and find the Earth blown to bits. Then they'd regret all their affection for aliens.
Well, the truth spreading would start here. With me. Christopher Haberdash. And now, my crew of future converts sat in the study, watching me with rapt attention, for I wield the truth in my hands, and its light is intoxicating, undeniable.
Okay, so maybe Lexington looked bored and kind of mad at me for pulling her away from Hector. And maybe Tabitha seemed kind of distracted by the model of the galaxy made out of jelly beans sitting on my dad's old desk. And maybe Jessica was busy painting her toenails, and not really paying attention. But it was a start.
I rapped my Very Important Meeting Stick on the desk, making Tabitha jump. "You have all been called here for a very important purpose!" I announced, trying to catch all of their eyes and stare meaningfully into them, except nobody was looking at me.
"I know you think the aliens living in this house are our friends. But look what they have done to Frig."
"She's just having a baby," Lexington shrugged. "Why do you have your damn panties in a wad?"
I sighed. I had to tell them. Finally. Let them accept it however they needed to. "Okay. Listen. I'm going to let you guys in on a secret." I appraised their faces, searching for interest and finding only disdain. "My family and I are actually alien hunters. We've been keeping tabs on the Zmeephish-Quains in particular, ever since receiving evidence in the eighties that they planned to blow up Earth. They are dangerous and powerful, and not the sort of crowd you want to be getting involved with."
I waited to see some glint of surprise, anger, any sort of emotion other than the apathy they showered me with now. Tabitha raised her hand.
"Yes, Tabitha," I called on her, aiming my Very Important Meeting Stick in her direction.
"What's a Zmeephish-Quian?" she asked.
I blew a stream of angry breath out from between my tight lips. It would be a very long session indeed, I thought to myself.
"This is just ridiculous, Christopher. If Xlormp really wanted to blow up Earth, why would he bother marrying Frig? What would be the point?" Four hours later and Lexington was just as big a know-it-all as she had always been, even though in this situation I clearly knew more than her.
"I don't know why Xlormp wanted to marry Frig. As I said earlier, the Zmeephish-Quians have been taking female girl-slaves for years, probably to study our culture to learn any important information they can adapt to their ways before the annihilate us. I've never heard of one of them marrying our kind before."
Tabitha scrunched her forehead in thought. "I want to believe you, Christopher, but they have never done anything mean to me." I knew by "they" she really meant "Klaxie."
"Look, they have a whole operation off of Earth's surface, with leaders who gather information from the agents down here. That would be Xlormp, Klaxie, and Schmeertz." I'd said all this already. I felt like I'd been repeating myself forever.
"If they're all about destroying the planet or whatever, why haven't they just done it already?" Jessica asked, not looking up from her toenails, which now sported intricate designs in a multitude of colors.
I sagged. I had no answer for that. The truth is, I had no idea why they hadn't just blown up the planet. Dad had always suspected that they were aware of the league of alien hunters who may be able to retaliate, or that our planet was so complicated that they wanted to learn as much as they could before blowing it up. But it had been almost twenty years, and honestly, I didn't know what the heck they were waiting for anymore.
My silence actually prompted Jessica to raise her head to look at me. I looked back, her grey, stormy eyes boring into me, demanding an answer. And I folded. I had no answers for them. I'd told them everything I knew, and not just about the Zmeephish-Quians, but about other alien races that had planned and carried out attacks on earth over the years. I'd told them about the recent battle with the Tallybonkers. About the entire crew of robots my father had created to fight them, most of which remained dormant in the basement except for Wednesdays when dad and Lou activated them all for the robot dance. All of this, and they still questioned me, they still didn't see the threat, and I realized at that moment that I had been counting on them to see the truth so that I could have just one person on my side. But they wouldn't, and I didn't, so I set down my Very Important Meeting Stick and shrugged.
"I don't know, Jessica." I sat down in my dad's chair, a lingering odor in the upholstery from the cigarettes he smoked before the Tallybonkers took his brain. The aliens who took my father's brain. The ones that no one saw as dangerous.
"Hey, Christopher, it's almost dinner time," Tabitha said gently. "Do you think we could be dismissed so I could start cooking?"
"Yeah, go on." I waved at them absently, ready to be alone again.
Tabitha left, Lexington following her and muttering something under her breath. Probably hateful things about me. Yeah, well, she could just shove it up her nose.
The room fell silent after they left. I waited for Jessica to finish her stupid toes so that she could get out too, but it took her forever. Finally, after almost half an hour, she closed her bottle of nail polish and blew on her toes to dry them. Then she looked up at me, as if remembering I was in the room, too.
"You look like shit, Christopher," she said, waving a hand over her foot to continue the airflow to her masterpieces.
"Oh. Thanks." It was a stupid thing to say. But my brain felt a little broken.
Jessica stood up. "Wanna take a ride with me and get out of here for a little while?"
I mulled over the idea. Get out of here for a little while. It sounded pretty nice. "How about for a long while?"
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