/064. Fall.

The first time: he looked into her cough-medicine eyes, which scintillated, flashed wild dreams. Fell momentarily into some otherspace where air rushed over his face, the sky around him blue, soaring, soaring. Dropped out of that world in an instant to stand upon the earth, looked at her and was amazed - amazed. Went to bed that night and dreamed vivid, wild. Dreams of flashing movement. Churning worlds.

Four years later Tak fell from space back down to the earth. Plunged right into Dib's yard again, like a thumb dragged through cake frosting. He stood, amazed, thrilled by this godly joke - was this fate, or just irony? He went right away to see what could be salvaged. And so he caught Tak coming out, her legs pulped, dragging herself with her paklegs. A stream of ichor running from her mouth. "Dib," she rasped at the sight of him. "I didn't think I'd..." and she slouched, suddenly unconscious.

He picked her up, amazed at her lightness. Carried her to the labs feeling as if something special had fallen into his hand: a star, a firefly. A phoenix chick, slick and new from the egg.

Two weeks later she awoke - naked, plush green skin exposed and prickling, punctured with needles feeding a glucose solution into her veins. Dib there, skipping school, hair damp and skin white as tallow. "Human," she said. "What have you done?"

Dib looked up from contemplating his clasped hands. "Hi," he said. "Were you aiming for my yard, or was it just freak chance that you landed here? Because, you know, it's not the first time falling alien artifacts have ruined the lawn."

"Mimi," Tak said, heavy with effort. "Did she come from the ship?"

Dib shrugged. He was plumbic, leaden, heavy with exhaustion. "It was too hot to get close. I didn't look for anything. You came out, and that was all."

She fell back down again, supine. Less threatening in her nudity. The coil worming from her skull gleamed coldly. Dib fixed upon it: remembering. Flight. Cold air in his throat. Made himself bold, reached out and touched it. "What it this? You did something to me with it, a long time ago."

"Ahh." Her lips drew away in an instinctive growl. "The hypnosis coil. I remember. So you liked it, human? I'm a little impressed." Leering, now, her voice dark, as awful and conniving as Zim. "Most of your kind can't handle it."

"Do it again," Dib said. His eyes blazing like a zealot's. "Give me another shot."

"Oh?" she grinned. Grimaced. "Come here."

He came closer and she pulled him down by the hair, training her eyes on his: the vast purple fields flashed like fireworks and drew him down into


the sea crinkling below

air rushing on my face, wind running through my hair


He woke sprawled on the floor, stiff, shaking. Eyes moistened. Already he ached to go back. Four years and he had forgotten that feeling. Now remembered and lusted for it, bone-deep.

Tak looked closely at him when he managed to stand. Dib dragged himself up, stared back at her, pulsing sweat and radiant heat. Her eyes a gate to another world.

"What did you see?" she said lowly.

"I have to go," he replied, and went up to the roof to feel the breeze fingering his hair. It wouldn't be long before he went back and asked her again.

Dib had always been prone to obsessive behaviors. Addiction. It was a vice strong in him. Tak was better than a needle in his arm, a bottlemouth kissing his lips. What she gave was more transcendent, and better, and freer, a jolt of stimulus straight to the brain, no worries about blood alcohol content or burnout, or withdrawal.

Life went on. Dib moved out of the house, got a lab job. Took the alien with him.

Two years later, they found him – what remained of him – in his apartment. The cubicle, more like. A Spartan little set of rooms, poorly furnished. He'd spent most of his paycheck outfitting Tak with what she needed to live, and keeping up the expensive machinery that had replaced most of her lower body so that she could be a kept creature and comfort.

Firemen broke down the door. They were mankind's first acknowledged contact with an alien race. They found Tak, lying, punched full of needle-holes and grinning down at what was left of her captor. The withered Dib, who'd taken a shot from the coil, staggered and fallen and in a stupor breathed his last. But far away from his body, dreaming, wild, the vision of the ocean, air screaming strongly over his skin.

/end fall

August 16, 2008.