Jerry journeys to Mars to negotiate with Tlalocs and is contacted by a strange creature
“Of course, it’s a trick,” he blurted out. “Have they ever been truthful?”
Berenib simply looked down at the metal grating. It had been days now, and the isolation was taking its toll. “Kurum will be there to help you.”
“And who the hell is Kurum anyway? Nobody seems to know.” He stood and walked to the window.
“When did you last receive downloads?” she asked.
Moving his hands to his forehead, he rubbed his temples as if the rubbing would take away the frustration.
“Yesterday? I don’t know. It seems like every day,” Jerry barked.
“You are behaving strangely. Have you been sleeping?”
He could hardly think. Looking at her as if she were speaking an unknown language, he drew his brows together.
“I am going to take a look,” she offered.
He brought his palm out, gesturing for her to stop. But it was too late. She was inside his mind.
He felt disembodied, having no hands or feet, no head. All he could see is what she showed him from his memories. Images from the last few days, like a film, feelings, conversations, dreams. The same image, a man’s face, brown skin, short hair, thick eyebrows, hairy. Hair grew from this bare shoulders, his teeth uneven and yellow, eyes black and bristling with intelligence. And the same question. The questions he heard over and over, every night, in his sleep, “Why are you here?”
She withdrew and he could see again.
Her eyebrows were raised, her mouth open in surprise.
“The same dream every night?” she asked.
“Have you answered him?”
He shook his head negatively.
“Answer him tonight,” she instructed.
“It’s just a dream,” he responded.
“No, it’s not,” she said standing, walking to a display on the wall. “Dreams do not have that quality. He is communicating with you telepathically.”
“What?” Jerry asked.
“Tell him who you are, and why you are here,” she offered.
“Ask him where he is.” she told him.
She pressed a control on the display. “Mr. Means will require a sedative, cognitive stimulation,” she instructed the replicator.
She turned around to Jerry, “You will dream, but you will be aware and you will remember what I am telling you.”
“Who is that person? What is he?”
“That is what you will find out,” she responded, “tonight.” She walked over to him and took his hand. “Look at the replicator.”
Looking at the console against the wall, he saw a cup of steaming liquid.
He hesitated, holding her hand. He looked back into her face. She was excited.
“Drink it now,” she ordered him.
Doing as he was told, he took the cup and sipped it.
“Drink it all, immediately. I must go tell the Elders,” she commanded.
Dutifully, he drank it all. It burned his throat.
“You asked me earlier, who is Kurum,” she continued.
He is from a collective on the other side of the galaxy, the Egigi. We have heard of but never encountered them. He is what you might call a shape-shifter, but with us, taking human form. You will see.”
He began to feel sleepy.
“They are a deeply spiritual people,” she said. “Lie down.”
He stumbled, hardly able to remain standing. Walking over to the floating pad, he fell onto it and drifted to sleep.
He saw the ship from the outside, as it sped towards Mars, the markings, corrosion of fittings, loosened rivets. He saw Berenib sitting at a console, the pilot going over readings on a display, and he saw himself, sleeping.
Then he heard the voice, “Why are you here?”
Slowly, the image of the man’s face appeared again, the same as it had night after night.
“Mars,” Jerry groaned.
“Why are you here?” he asked again.
“We’re going to Mars.”
“You are human,” the man smiled. Then he repeated the question, “Why are you here?”
“Negotiate,” Jerry answered.
“There is no one at Mars,” the man responded.
“Who are they?” the man asked.
The man’s smile disappeared.
“They come to meet us at Mars,” Jerry continued.
The man had been seated. Now, he stood. Jerry could see that he wore a type of kilt wrapped around his hips. “You are Tayamni and human,” he said. “More Tayamni than human.”
Jerry remembered, “Who are you?” he asked the man.
“We are you,” he responded.
If Jerry could have seen his own face as he slept, he would have seen his face wrinkle in confusion. “What?”
“We are you, without them,” the man continued. “Without the Tayamni, we are you without them.
Jerry sat up with a start, panting, sweating, muscles tight. He realized the man was speaking English.