For Wikus Van Der Merwe, it was the longest three years. His life, the human part, was a mere second compared to waiting for Christopher. Now, as a prawn, he saw how hard life was for them. And they shouldn't be called prawns, for they were the Poleepkwa. Just shows that racism didn't die with apartheid. All the things he used to take for granted, like food, what a big mistake.
Life in District 10 was just like District 9. It may be new, but it had quickly become a slum once again. It was all the MNU could do to prevent a revolution. Like it would make a difference, he thought, returning to the chess game he was having with the Poleepkwa known as Guy. It wasn't real chess, but rather, it was some interesting Poleepkwa variant where two players had to fight for each square using dice to see who won that particular square. Guy seemed like an expert, and Wikus was struggling with his last row with only five pieces left.
"You're dead, Wikus," Guy clicked, removing his opponent's king. The dice had rolled twelve against two.
"Damn, Guy, you're fokkin' unbeatable," Wikus muttered. "What am I giving you now?"
"I like that pack of cards you picked up in the trash pile yesterday." Wikus grudgingly handed over the box.
"One more game."
Five minutes later, it was Guy who was now on the losing side. All he had now was a knight. Wikus placed a pawn beside it and scooped up his black dice. It stopped at seven. Guy's dice landed on six.
"Amazing, Wikus," Guy muttered. "For a rookie, beating a Grand Master in just your second game of Fredonay is something rarely seen."
"Grand Master?" The information didn't register on Wikus' mind.
"As the humans say, it's a long story. Name your prize."
"That cylinder thingy you have there."
"It's a syringe. Why in the worlds would you want it?"
"I like it, Guy. Hand it over."
There was some writing on the syringe. It read "The Genographic Project – South Africa." Wikus remembered the project very well. After the cheek swab, it was determined that he was a direct descendant of Lucy the Australopithecus. Amazing how something you looked at with awe was actually your mother of sorts. But is didn't matter now, all he wanted was become human again; reverse the conversion, as Christopher had so eloquently put it. Well, the needle would come in handy for that metal flower he had been making for Tania ever since he became fully Poleepkwa. Ah, Tania and the good old days, her hesitant yet strong kisses still crystal clear in his mind. She had given such a kiss on that fateful day, which was odd, considering she reserved it only for the night.
"Wikus, you look like you have a lot on your mind," Guy interrupted. "Are you fine?"
"Don't worry, man, I'm fine."
"All right. Good night."
"Night." Wikus returned to his white shack in the Tenth District. The interior had long since been tarnished with the sandy soil that he had stirred up whenever he lost his grip on reality. It wasn't a pleasant thing, because once that happened, he would wave his arms around and click in a way equivalent to a human shouting. It was a miracle that the MNU agents hadn't come barging into his place. Anyway, it wasn't his concern now.
His left arm began to itch. The last time it had done that, it was that fateful day. He brought up his claws and began rubbing the spot before lying down for the night.
The next day came quickly, and Wikus was still trying to ignore the sunlight. His arm was still itching, and the more he rubbed it, the more it intensified. He didn't even notice that the pain had vanished, so intent was he on scratching it out. Finally, he took a look.
A human arm was attached where the alien appendage had been yesterday.
He squeezed the thumb with his right set of claws. He screamed in pain, loud enough to attract the attention of an unusually sensitive MNU agent.
"Okay, Wikus, you're not dreaming." The pain in his thumb—it had to be his thumb, because if it wasn't, he shouldn't have felt it—was proof to that. On the ground beside him, his alien arm lay flaky, damaged. He wouldn't be able to reattach it now.
There was also a smell he had never smelled before, something he only caught a whiff off near the MNU personnel. It came from his human arm. Wikus suddenly had visions of Poleepkwa running away in fright, much as people ran away from him three years earlier. Three years of trying to integrate into Poleepkwa society, and then it would all vanish with his arm. Christopher said that it would take three years to reverse the conversion, but Wikus always thought that he needed his help. Now, it was clear to him: the alien DNA would integrate with the host's own DNA, and then after three years, it would revert dominance back to the host. He began laughing in the odd way that the Poleepkwa did it, a combination of clicks and grunts.
"Wikus, what happened to you? You didn't come at noon."
"Sorry, Guy, but I felt sick earlier. Didn't have the strength to get up."
"Looks like you have recovered."
"Shut up, Grand Master. Let's get it on."
It was the third game of the day, and the two had drawn a small crowd. No doubt MNU cameras were watching too, and the human operators were taking a laugh at how they were playing chess the wrong way. Wikus and Guy had won one game apiece, and this was their deciding match. Both had equal amounts of pieces left, and it was a knight versus a knight. The two scooped their dice and rolled. Nine-all. Wikus went to pick up his dice again when Guy called his name.
"What is it, man? Trying to intimidate me?"
"What's that red liquid coming out of your mouth?"
Wikus reached up with his left arm, inadvertently showing the human appendage. Those nearest to him backed down one step. His mouthparts felt metallic to his human touch. But it was the next observation that blew his mind.
It was blood. Human blood.
"What the hell?!"
"It's okay, Wikus. We can continue the game tomorrow."
"I don't think so, Guy." But the reply came as a series of unintelligible clicks. And then Wikus Van Der Merwe bolted away from the chess set. Reaching the safety of his shack, he began scratching his legs, which had been restless throughout the game earlier.
Wikus jolted awake. He had been dreaming his worst nightmare, being chased by both the MNU and the Nigerians. He groaned in pain, and looked down at his feet. They were pink, soft, fleshy, quite unlike what they had been the night before, scaly and a mix and insectoid and reptilian. And his crotch was a human's crotch too.
This process went on for days, with more and more of his scaly skin being replaced by human flesh. It had spread up from his legs to his torso, and peeling of the scales was a disgusting job, considering they didn't come away in a logical pattern.
It had been 72 hours since he first saw his arm. Wikus was mostly human now, with only the head left, making him look like someone that got lost on Halloween. His face felt rough and itchy, but when he touched it, it crumbled to dust.
Wikus reached up and touched his face. It was soft flesh. Reaching for the top of his head, he felt the smallest growths of hair. So he was bald for the time being, but it didn't matter now. He was human again.
He spent the day walking around District 10, taking in his old form in stride. But as he walked towards Guy's chess table, the problems began to start. He tapped Guy's shoulder—
--and came face to face with an alien rifle.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Guy, it's me! Wikus! Don't you remember me?"
Guy lowered the weapon. "Wikus? Is it really you? Why are you human?"
Wikus decided to lie a little. "I don't know, man. But I'm happy! I've always wanted to become human!"
Their conversation was interrupted by the loud whine of helicopter engines. "You! The naked human! Why are you here?" someone inside the chopper said.
The pilot did a double take. "Holy shit, that's Wikus Van Der Merwe!"
"Who?" asked his copilot.
"Long story, man. Send the word!" Soon, the skies above District 10 were swarming with both MNU and television helicopters.
"What you are seeing is the fugitive Wikus Van Der Merwe," said the newscaster. "He was last seen three years ago, when the alien mothership left Earth, in the slums of District 9. A ton of theories had risen in his disappearance, chief of them that he was a mutated human with alien DNA who had been captured by the South African government and the Multinational Union, which had been responsible for the eviction of the aliens from District 9. Hopefully, with his reappearance, he will be able to put all controversies to rest with his story."
The heavens shook once again, as a great shadow fell on Johannesburg. Eyes turned to the skies, searching for the source of the shadow. And then the public's collective mouth fell open.
The mothership of District 9 was back.
The alien craft went for District 10, settling dead center of the community. A smaller craft dropped from the ship's belly and headed near Wikus' position. He gasped as he recognized the ship. Only one Poleepkwa can fly that ship. "Christopher?" he shouted. "Oliver?"
A door on the shuttle opened, and out stepped Christopher Johnson, all official-looking with his back, formfitting uniform. "What did I tell you, Wikus van der Merwe? Three years is all it takes, and you will become human again!"
"I thought that I still needed your help!"
"No, Wikus, it is a natural process. The host accepts Poleepkwa liquid, and then in three Earth years, host returns to original form."
"So it was just that simple?"
The man strode towards the alien. "Welcome back, Christopher," said Wikus.
"Hello, and welcome to 'Good Morning, South Africa!' I am Jones Mwotabenga, you host, and our guest for today is Wikus van der Merwe. As we all know, Mr. van der Merwe was on the run from the South African government, or, more specifically, the MNU, during the evacuation of District 9. We all have made theories about his fate, but now, we will know his story. Say hi to the audience, Wikus."
Wikus waved nervously. Although the cameras didn't pick it up, he was sweating profusely in his suit, a powder blue shirt and cream slacks. He coughed and then said, "Thank you, Jones. You know, I know an alien that's your namesake."
"Is that true, Wikus? But that's not why you're here. Tell us, what happened to you for the past three years?"
Wikus smiled, no longer nervous. He cleared his throat and began to speak.
A/N: Watch District 9 for the whole story behind this - GR
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