Sliver moon hangs above the predawn horizon, civil twilight in the repetitious struggle of light and dark, a languid eye to greet the rising sun and watch over the crepuscular world.
I’ve neglected the backyard again. Some new species of foliage moved in and set up a defensive perimeter around the gate in the privet hedge along the back row. Invasive is putting it lightly. This thing grows a couple meters a day, spines and thorns along the entire length, and it has the nasty habit of killing every other plant it touches. Nasty burn from touching it too. Not at all a nice plant. I swear it’s watching me anytime I’m out back. Now if I can just get around it to the shed where I foolishly left the trimmers.
“It’s a shame, really.” He continued wrapping the crystal goblets with newspaper.
“What is?” she asked as she removed the paintings and photographs from the foyer.
“Oh you know. All this packing. We’ve lived here for generations and one vote by the city council and suddenly our home is too big.”
She frowned. “You know it’s not right that we should have so much while others have so little. As I recall, you even voted in favor of the ordinance.”
“Well, all the same, it’s just a shame that this old house will be demolished. She’s got good bone, she does.” He sighed. “I’ll miss the old girl.”
“We all will, but you know how it goes. All for the greater good. Now come here and help me get this portrait down. I can’t reach high enough.”
So the DNA results came back. Like I thought, mostly British and Western European. Like 82%. A bit of border hoping adds another 11% Eastern European. Scandinavian region adds another 5%. Everything else is low confidence, 1% or less. Low confidence. Like the DNA traces might or might not actually indicate country or ethnicity. Even that less than 1% unknown. A birthday present my sister gave me. Spit in a bottle and send it in. Find out who you really are.
I’d heard some of the stories, whispered by the older relatives when they thought no one could hear them at family gatherings, after Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing until we’re all too stuffed for our own good. Dishes rattling in the kitchen, denture rattling in their geriatric gums. Knowing smiles on some, knowing frowns on others. Stories of a visitor, an honest-to-god illegal alien. Like a Martian, but that couldn’t be, so it had to be from another star. How DNA from another species could even be passed on in the first place is astronomically unbelievable. Low confidence, to put it another way.
But there it was on the results. Unknown, less than 1%. Maybe they don’t know, but the old folks in the family, the ones who remember the old stories, they seem to know. They think they do, anyway.
I woke up this morning without my right arm. Again. Not literally, just that I had no feeling in my right arm like I’d slept on it wrong and cut off circulation to it. Perfectly rational explanation.
Except that doesn’t fit.
See, after I go up I rubbed my arm with my working hand to get the feeling back into it. There wasn’t any tingling like there should have been; what there was was a tiredness, a soreness, like I’d chopped enough wood to last through winter or pushed a loy plough through a potato field.
That and the calluses. My right hand was tough as leather. Some form of extreme sleepwalking? I think not. The rest of me remained as it was when I fell asleep.
And the smell. Not a normal smell, not of this world at any rate. No, this smacked of something from the other side, darkness, like mold, but not like any mushroom I’ve ever seen or tasted. Someone, or something, used my arm while I slumbered. If it used it twice in two nights already, what I needed now was to devise some way to catch it or them or whatever it is.
I’ll be damned if I’ll give my right arm up so easily.