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Being a manuscript of the final transmission to the Zygon refugee fleet from the survivors of the exploration vessel Hiskarasa; the final testament of Grotton, bound squire to Commander Broton. Found on Earth in 2357 and verified authentic by the cultural council of New Zygor, 51 Pegasi.

here was a human.

It clumsily descended the bank where I sat watching the loch. I heard its apelike grunts cease as it registered my presence. It merited no attention, no interruption of my meditations. Per my custom, I would ignore it if greeted. If pressed, I would answer noncommittally and assume the demeanor of a taciturn local. The human, thus assured I promised no diversion, would continue its insipid pursuits elsewhere and leave me alone. This maneuver had a high success rate; should the unwanted familiarity continue, I had further solutions of a less benign nature. From habit, I patted my jacket pocket. The device was there.

I was displeased when the creature brazenly sat at my right flank. Unused to this level of unwanted familiarity, I was at a momentary loss. The size of the body I wore generally discouraged such violations. I wanted to roar and bruise its flesh, or call that which waits below, but these just actions, given the circumstances, were untenable. I must suppress my warrior blood, I knew, lest I draw attention to myself. There was too much at stake.

I stared ahead and said nothing. I sensed it looking at me, then away, perhaps summoning the courage to break the silence. It exhaled and produced a cellular phone, tilted that I may see the pictures moving on the screen. I ignored them, and it, and studied the water. Beneath its placid surface, I knew, strong currents flowed.

The human grunted in its throat, rudely demanding my attention.

‘So, tell me. Have you seen any monsters out there?’ it asked, gesturing to the loch.

I turned to regard it. It was a male, the physically larger but subordinate human gender. He was large for his type and wore a long yellow raincoat. A camera and sound recorder were slung on his neck. His backpack, I imagined, contained a portable computing device. I deduced from these accoutrements that he was a 'reporter', which is a particularly vile species of Earth researcher. His features were difficult to distinguish; like me, he wore a long beard. I saw my impassive reflection twinned in his tinted eye-wear.

I shook my head once, meaning 'no', and returned to the loch.

He produced a cigarette (a poisonous tube of dried vegetable matter), struggled to light it in the crisp breeze, succeeded and coughed. He offered one to me. Among humans, this gesture is either an expression of goodwill or a wish for the death of the recipient; I remain unsure. I waved it away; the smoke was foul.

He offered his name. I cared not for these ape's individual designations and disregarded it. Then the creature leaned forward and spoke in a conspiratorial voice, ‘You're obviously a very busy 'man'.’

I noted the deliberate emphasis.

‘I'm terribly sorry to impose on you like this, but I rather thought we could have a conversation. It's rather awkward to sit here without saying anything, don't you think?’

After failing to intrigue, amuse or befriend, he would now turn to threats.

‘It'll be bad for you if you keep ignoring me. I know people who'd really like to know what I know about you, you know?’

Yes. Finally, the meat. I looked down at him, eyes narrowed, not speaking. I was given to understand this body had an intimidating visage; I decided to amuse myself.

‘Shove off,’ I said.

‘Well, that's terribly rude. “Shove off”, indeed! But you've decided to speak, at least. Will you answer me a few questions?’

‘You may ask.’

‘Splendid! To begin, your name is Dub... Dubgl...’

‘Dubhhlas MacRuiseal.’

‘Yes, that's it. You're the one they call the 'Caber'. You were the Duke of Forgill's gillie back in the seventies?’

‘I served the Duke.’

He pondered. I waited.

‘According to public records, that makes you eighty-seven years old.’

‘And?’

‘Well, you look fantastic for your age.’

‘I maintain this body well. Is this why you bother me? Do you seek to profit from my health regimen, learn my secrets?’

‘I think you know better than that. I bet you aren't even surprised that I'm here, are you, Caber? You didn't hide your trail very well. You begin to irritate me,’ I said, ‘Cease your tiresome circumlocution and explain this intrusion.’

 


artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
 
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