Author: Alberic of Krufton PM
A stranger appears from nowhere, found by a lowly criminal, aided by a tall vagabond. The goal: to find his way back home. However, he's found himself in a strange land... Ours. AURated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Drama - Chapters: 4 - Words: 19,158 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-02-13 - Published: 01-24-12 - id: 2991535
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Lunch rolled around, and Terry made tuna fish sandwiches. Ilam apparently approved, since he ventured a foot or two into the kitchen almost as soon as Terry opened one of the cans. He tolerated the slices of tomato well enough, and didn't complain about a lack of green onions in it. (The damn things were cheap and easy to grow in a can of dirt, but for some reason they never survived for long in the kitchen or anywhere else. There was no point in buying any more, even if it went well with tuna.)
Ilam seemed slightly confused about the bread, so he didn't eat the sandwich part of his sandwich. Marc finished it off for him, though.
Now that lunch was taken care of, Terence could think about how to go about making dinner. That is, until Marc made other plans.
"Rick's coming back eventually."
Shit, that's right. Terry had been doing such a good job of keeping himself from freaking out over that fact that he'd let it slip his mind entirely.
"So what, we hope 'e doesn't come back until th' alien is gone? Sounds like a great plan," Terry sneered. "How we gonna hide 'im?"
Marc played with Ilam's warm, unopened beer can. "What, you're okay with not telling him?"
Terry snorted, started pacing. "Hell, I'd prefer not knowin', but it's a little late for that now, izzinit? Ilam don't seem like th' type to give us any trouble."
"Aside from the fact that he's some sort of extraterrestrial," Marc said with a shrug, and opened the tab on his can. Ilam, sitting at the foot of one of the shelves, looked up from the book he was looking at.
Terry was pretty sure he couldn't read it, even though he didn't see any pictures that might interest him otherwise. He couldn't tell which one it was, either. Well, it kept him occupied.
"So if Jaime comes back, what'll we do?"
Now it was Terry's turn to shrug. "Doubt he will, but ya got a point. Maybe get 'im moved upstairs somewhere, where no one lives? We got a spare with boxes 'n stuff."
"Seems like the kind of thing we should run by our friend, here," Marc said. "And, how will we feed him from up there?"
"Shit, yer right," Terry said, and stopped pacing to think. "Rick don't let us bring food upstairs, says it'll get crumbs 'n shit all over. He lives upstairs so we usually r'spect that."
Marc laid back into the couch and laughed. "Ha! Maybe we should just invite Ilam down to dinner one night, see how that goes."
Terry's stomach actually turned a little at the thought. He could see Adrianna's face in his mind, and the shriek she'd make…
"Outta the question," he finally replied, grimacing. "Prob'ly not a good idea to let 'im go a few days without eatin', either."
Marc nodded sagely. "Probably not a good idea."
Yeah, with teeth like Ilam had, Terry hated to think of what he'd do when he got really hungry.
Just then Ilam stood from where he was sitting, back arched and too-long arms up over his head. Terry heard a few pops. The alien turned, wobbled briefly, and shook off whatever was bothering him. He caught Terry's eye.
"Ban-yo," he explained, and made his stiff-legged walk down the hall. After a moment they heard the door shut.
"Prob'ly has ta take a shit or somethin'," Terry muttered.
"Everybody poops," Marc said, laconic. "So, we've decided he's staying—"
"Decidin' implies control," Terence countered.
Marc's eyebrows shot up for a second, but he continued. "So he's staying, at least until he gets himself back home."
"Now, what I can't understand is how he even got here in th' first place," Terry said, mostly to himself. It'd been bothering him whenever he let himself think about it. He hadn't seen any flying saucers or bright lights or dense fog or any of the usual heralds of extraterrestrial or paranormal activity, and he'd been in the neighborhood for most of the morning.
So how does a dog-horse-cat monster with pointy ears and pointier teeth find itself in an abandoned warehouse lying on a pile of old debris, with a busted-open head to boot?
Did it use some sort of tool or artifact to get it here? Would it have to go back out to that warehouse again in order to get back home?
Terry started pacing again. Had it parked a UFO somewhere in town? Jesus. They couldn't assume that Ilam would stay cooped up in the house until he left.
They heard the water turn on down the hall, pipes in the walls shaking with the change in pressure. Terry glanced at the ceiling, half expecting something to burst and for a wet spot to appear.
"Better not make a mess in there," he muttered.
"If he can use a faucet," Marc said, standing with the beer can now crushed in one hand, "then Ilam should be able to figure out how to get water from going everywhere, or at least have the decency to mop it up if he does. You guys recycle?"
"Big blue bucket past the kitchen."
"Oh, good, that's where I've been putting them. I mean, Ilam seems like the tidy sort."
Terry thought back to the stack of plates on the table, and glanced over where the alien had set himself down earlier. The book he'd been reading or whatever wasn't on the floor; he must have put it up before running off to the bathroom.
He heard the aluminum can clatter off the rest of the pile, and Marc reappeared in the kitchen.
"So what, we let him do the house cleaning? Don't think that'll help put Rick at ease."
"He might know enough to keep hidden," Marc said, pacing a circuit around the living area. "Remember, he wasn't too keen on meeting us at first."
"Right," Terry said. He had a point, but Ilam seemed pretty damned friendly now.
Suddenly, they heard humming from down the hall.
Marc bust out laughing. "Is he really singing in the shower?"
Terry shook his head, half in disbelief, half in embarrassment.
He remembered a time when his life was less ridiculous.
"So," Marc said from behind the couch, "There isn't any other way to get in contact with Rick besides the house phone?"
Terry shook his head, this time in the negative. "No, he doesn't keep a cell, says people can track you with them. And it's too much money."
"There are disposable cell phones, though."
A shrug. "Wasteful."
"Alright, fair enough; Rick doesn't believe in cell phones, but he does believe in stealing—er, re-appropriating—thrown-out food, and bringing in strays for free. What a guy."
"Yeah, you'll probably like 'im when you finally get to meet 'im," Terry said, even as he felt a stone appear in his stomach and start to weigh down his guts. Hopefully, they wouldn't have to worry about Rick until things settled down.
"I still like the idea of clearing out that room upstairs," Marc continued. "We can make it look like nothing's in there, have a space in the back for Ilam. Keep everything in the front. No one goes in there much anyway, right?"
"Nah, it's mostly jus' boxes of old crap Rick's salvaged. Broken shit."
"Perfect," and Marc, now standing in front of the blank television, waved Terry up. "We may as well get crackin', huh?"
Terry thought about it a second, decided, Why the hell not? It'd give him something to do. He dragged himself off the couch.
Ilam was still singing when they walked past the bathroom door, steam curling around its edges. No one had any idea what the words were, if they were even words, but he sounded happy enough.
Glad someone's having a good time, Terry thought as he led Marc up the narrow staircase to the second floor. He'd only looked at it once or twice since he'd been here, but he knew where to find it. Two doors on the left, and there it was.
"Yeah," he said, opening up the door. "This's gonna take a while."
Marc cracked his knuckles.
"Better get started, then."
Sometime around one in the afternoon, the front door opened. Luckily, it was never locked, so people could come and go as they pleased.
Today, Adrianna had decided it was time to visit her home-away-from-home.
The house was quiet, except for the clopping of her pumps as she made her way past the kitchen. It sort of smelled like food; Terry must be around.
"Hello, anyone home?"
Nothing. Maybe he'd stepped out.
She made her way down the hall to her usual room, and realized that someone was using the bathroom. Maybe it was Terry. She pouted. They didn't really get along well, and she preferred it whenever he was out roaming the streets for whatever it was he scavenged for cash.
She dropped her shopping bags down on the bed, turned around and opened some drawers. Mostly empty; good, no one else had moved in.
Adrianna began unpacking.
She hadn't bothered bringing any of her photos or stuff, just her clothes. Her face began to crinkle, and she hastily daubed at her eyes, trying to protect her make-up. No, she didn't want to bring any pictures of him back. Fuck Jonathan. She could find herself a better guy any day of the week. In fact, she'd probably start tomorrow. Today ought to be her day.
And a day to herself needed a long, warm soak in the tub.
Most everything had been emptied from her bags by now. She turned to go back out into the hall, and realized that whoever was in the bathroom seemed to be done doing whatever it was they had been doing. Good. She hoped that there was some hot water left; just like some guy to use it all up for himself.
There was some humming coming from the bathroom.
Maybe Jaime was back? Whatever, he could lounge around in the tub some other time—it was Adrianna's turn, now.
She stomped over to the warm, perspiring door and threw it open.
Terence was halfway through moving a giant box of old radios and wires when a familiar voice struck him to the core.
"Terry! Are you here? Getchour ass downstairs!"
The box hit the floor with a clunk!
"Oh, shit." He felt sick, suddenly drenched in a cold sweat.
Marc glanced toward him over his own stack of taped-up boxes. "What was—?"
But Terry was already leaping over the smaller piles of crap, racing for the door. "Shit, shit, shit!"
Marc had decided by now it might not be a bad idea to follow him downstairs. As he tore out of the room, he called after the scrawny teen, "Who is that?"
He managed to catch up almost right away, nearly running Terry over where he stood at the foot of the stairs.
Terry swallowed, and stared down the hall at the young blonde woman in pumps standing right outside the bathroom.
By now she had caught sight of the pair, and stomped her feet with an exaggerated harrumph. "There you are, now—"
"Wait, Adri, I can explain—"
Actually Terry was pretty sure he couldn't satisfactorily explain anything at the moment but that wouldn't keep him from trying. She beat him to the punch, though.
"Why didn't you tell me you'd found such a nice piece of man and invited him to stay?"
Terence was floored.
It took a moment to pick his jaw up off the floor. "W-what?"
Adrianna nodded toward the door. "Your guest. Uhm, at least that's what he is, right? Is Jaime around? I hope he's not the one who brought him home."
"Speaking of home," Marc said from over Terry's shoulder, "I was under the impression you weren't staying here anymore."
Adrianna squinted at the tall, sandy-haired giant not even half-hidden behind her usual house-mate, as though noticing him for the first time.
"Uh, who are you again?"
"Marc Tully. Nice t' meetcha." He waved.
Terry slapped his hand down, having decided that he'd gotten over his shock. "Marc, meet Adrianna. And yeah," he said, now turning his attention to the bitch in the pumps, "Why are you here? You moved out months ago."
Adrianna feigned a sniffle. "Me and Jonathan broke up. I came back to stay for a while, until I get back on my feet."
Terry snorted. "More like find some new way to get on her back," he murmured quietly enough that only Marc heard.
Adrianna crossed her arms. "So who's your other friend, in the bathroom? Is he staying too?"
Terry froze up again. How could he try to play this off?
And "piece of man?" What the hell.
Thankfully, Marc was the quicker of the two.
"Oh, that's a friend of mine, uh, Will," he said, managing to not make it sound like the bullshit it was. "He's only staying for a couple of days."
Her face actually fell. "Oh. Well, in that case, can you tell him to finish up in there? I wanna take a bath."
Marc walked stiff-legged toward the door. "Sure. Uhm… Hey, uh, William," he called through the door, "¿Tiene su ropa? Adrianna quisiera usar el baño."
That got an eyebrow raise from Adrianna. "He's foreign?"
Marc paused for the barest second. "Yes. Yeah, he's foreign."
Terry decided that he didn't like that predatory smile that suddenly appeared on Adrianna's face.
"He's off-limits, Adri," Terry said, striding closer. "He has, uh, he has a girlfriend back home."
Hell, for all he knew, maybe Ilam did.
This seemed to put Adrianna off enough for now, but they'd have to be careful. And did she seriously not realize that there was an alien in the bathroom? There was no way she was dumb enough to mistake an actual alien for an illegal one.
"Hey, uh, Adri," he began, "Could you make sure we have enough towels? I was gonna take a shower after you're done."
Her face was the picture of distain. "Why don't you? I'm waiting on my bath."
Then Marc came to the rescue.
"Actually, if you can wait like an hour or something, I really gotta take a shit."
Terry and Adrianna stared for a good long moment, and Marc started shifting around uncomfortably. He actually started turning red.
"I mean, when nature calls, you gotta answer."
Adrianna threw up her arms and stomped away, muttering about guys and how gross they were. Luckily, she made it all the way to her room and slammed the door.
Terry was still staring at Marc. "That was ballsy."
He shrugged. "I kind of actually have to go, but it can wait. Let's see how Ilam's doin' first."
They turned to the bathroom door, still shutting in its steamy air. Marc glanced over his shoulder to make sure Adrianna hadn't popped out of her room, and grabbed the knob.
Terry thought he was getting used to surprises, but, maybe to his relief, he still had the capacity for bewilderment.
The bathroom was empty.
Marc ducked his head in, took a few steps inside. Thankfully he had enough sense not to say anything, in case Adri was listening. Terry met his gaze and shrugged.
There was no way Ilam had just left from right in front of their noses. They'd been standing in front of the goddamned door the whole time, and hadn't Adrianna seen him, too?
What the fuck was going on?
Marc turned the lights off, left the door ajar to air out. "This is bad, Ter," he whispered.
Well no shit.
"Did you see him leave?" Terry asked, equally quiet. More than likely they were just making themselves more suspicious, if Adrianna was bothering to listen at that moment.
Marc shook his head.
Where does a man-sized alien thing hide?
Actually, there might be an answer to that question.
Terry motioned for Marc to follow him. They went the seven or eight feet down the hall back to Jaime's old room. Marc's face lit up with understanding.
If Ilam had used it before, why not now?
This time Terry took the worn knob in his hand and turned it, slowly. There was no long, creeping hiss this time, so he took that as permission to open the door wide enough to walk in.
And there stood Ilam, wearing one of the nice towels wrapped around his waist, and another of the even nicer towels keeping his hair and ears from falling everywhere. Terry couldn't quite manage an actual sigh of relief, but Marc did. Ilam just looked relieved.
"There you are!" Marc said, moving Terry inside and closing the door quietly. "How did you get past us?"
Ilam stood there, not really doing anything. Even in the dim light of the room, Terry couldn't help but notice why Adrianna was drooling over him; he wasn't supermodel quality goods, but he wasn't ugly, either. He had pecs, at least, and he frowned at the pair of nipples staring back at him.
Aliens had no business having nipples, dammit.
"Maybe we weren't guarding the door that well?" Marc ventured.
"No, no way, that door stayed shut, Marc," Terry said, feeling irritated over more than Ilam's bare abs and chest. "Ask him how he got out."
There was a moment of thought, and Marc said something in Spanish. Ilam cocked his head and replied.
"Wassat mean?" Terry asked.
Now it was Marc's turn to shrug. "I dunno, it wasn't Spanish." He turned back to the alien, still dripping a little onto the carpet. "Yo no comprendo."
Ilam frowned now, looking for all the world like some kind of giant dog with the far corners of his mouth drooping down like his were. He took the towel off his head and roughed his hair up, dropped the damp thing on the floor.
Terry would have to remember to tell him where the hamper was.
"Ieh, ¿yo mobear? No se hablar."
Now Marc was scratching his head. Ilam took that moment to set himself down on the edge of the bed.
"You moved through the door? You couldn't have, we didn't see you."
Ilam did a fair imitation of a shrug.
"This is useless," Terry finally cut in. "Doesn't matter now how 'e got in 'ere, what matters is Adri didn't get a good look at 'im, somehow. Now, we jus' gotta get 'im upstairs."
Marc then had a brief conversation with Ilam, who eventually nodded. "He's okay with hiding out upstairs, as long as there's a bathroom nearby."
"Oh? Okay, I guess." That was easy. "There's one more up there no one uses much, right next door to the spare room. Rick uses it sometimes if we're downstairs."
"Excellent! Then, let's get to distracting Adrianna so we can do some smuggling."
Adrianna took care of that problem herself at around that same moment by turning on the faucet. She was getting her shower after all.
Everyone in the room exchanged glances. Well, it was time to get to work.
Besides the clothes Ilam showed up in, which he had apparently taken with him whenever he left the bathroom, there wasn't all that much to bring besides the alien himself. Itself. Whatever.
The door opened with nary a sound, and all three stepped into the open hallway. Thankfully no other part-time residents had showed up in the meantime, and Adrianna was safely preoccupied with her post break-up soak.
Terry opened the door once everyone was safely on top of the stairs.
He'd never seen a creature drop its mouth in shock or wonderment or anything like that, but Ilam schooled him on that as soon as he took a good look inside. He stepped inside like he was sneaking into a dragon's den; very quiet, looking around in amazement at the miscellaneous boxes of crap like they were some sort of weird, precious hoard.
Marc showed him through the small maze of cardboard and old wires to the back of the room, which they'd gotten mostly cleared.
Ilam was the happiest alien thing Terry had ever seen, as soon as he stalked over to the shuttered window. It didn't look out over much, but he must've missed the sun. He chattered a little to himself, then turned to face Marc and Terry, now looking expectant.
Marc said, "We forget anything?"
Terry jumped on it almost immediately. "Well, yeah. Where's he gonna sleep?"
That question had a quick answer, in the form of an old spare mattress from one of the other rooms of crap. With as many people came around, having even a thin piece of shit foam thing to lie down on at night could feel like the greatest blessing God in heaven could bestow upon a weary urchin. Terry couldn't remember the last time they'd run out of beds, but apparently it'd happened before.
With the sleeping situation dealt with and Ilam settling into his new room like a cat in a new house for the first time, the two humans in the party found themselves at a loss for what to do next. Their stomachs had an opinion, though.
"Think I'm gonna cook us up something," Terry said, Marc nodding whole-heartedly. "Ask him what he wants."
"Don't think he knows what a burger is," Marc said, and to Ilam, "¿Qué quisiera comer?"
Ilam looked up from his intense staring contest with an old toaster. He was still wrapped in that last towel.
"Fish," Marc translated.
There was some more tilapia Terry could work with. Sure.
"You gonna be okay up here?" he asked Ilam. There was no way of knowing if he understood or not, but Marc was quick to provide a translation. Ilam nodded, ears angled to the ceiling and curling the edges of his mouth up, sort've like the opposite of his frown from earlier. Maybe that was how aliens like him smiled.
Terry was glad he didn't see any teeth.
Now, to Marc. "Wanna stay up here while I cook, or d'ya wanna come down?"
Marc shrugged. "I think we can leave our friend alone up here for a bit," he said. "Seems like he likes all this junk up here."
Ilam had gone back to gingerly pulling a tangle of red and black cords out of a box next to the head of the bed. Sure enough, he was totally engrossed.
He sure was interested, all right. Terry wondered if this would have any repercussions for humanity somewhere down the line.
With the door carefully shut behind them, Marc and Terry made their way down to the kitchen. Adrianna still seemed to be taking her bath; there were no sounds of running water, but, like Ilam, she was humming some kind of pop song or something. Whatever, what mattered was that she was preoccupied.
Four frozen filets out of the fridge to thaw, and carrots and onions to chop. Marc was a shitty cook, but he knew his way around a knife, at least. Terry dragged the large rice cooker out from under the counter, grabbed a few scoops from the half-full fifty pound bag the cooker was stored next to. Rice was cheap and filling, so why not?
Having two "whites" wasn't generally a good idea, but the carrots made up for. After a moment's thought over the bowl of veggies Marc passed over to him, he remembered that there were bell peppers in the fridge. He set Marc back to work on those while he got the pan ready.
Twenty minutes later, and dinner was ready.
Almost on cue, Adrianna stepped into the living room, still damp and smelling like some kind of flowery shit, but wearing a different outfit from before. She still looked like a wannabe teenage hooker.
"Ooh, you cooked tonight?" she asked.
They hated each other, sure, but at least she respected having someone else with half-decent culinary skills do the cooking.
"No, Marc here whipped this up," Terry said, rolling his eyes dramatically. Marc protested a little at the insult, but not much.
"Whatever. Dish it up, squirt."
Terry set one of his plates on the table without much aplomb, trying not to make it clatter around too much. He nodded at Marc, suddenly struck with an idea.
"C'mon, let's go eat," he said, started towards the stairs.
"What? Where the hell do you think you're going?" Adrianna called from the table. She'd already seated herself.
"Upstairs," Terry said. Marc was giving him a look.
"You can't eat up there," Adrianna said, more distain than usual crossing her face. "Rick's gonna kill you."
"Maybe if we make a mess, which we won't." He started down the hall. "Besides, do you really wanna eat with us?"
"Why three plates, though?"
"You kidding? Have you seen this guy eat?" he asked, pointing toward Marc, who finally caught on and grinned hungrily at her.
She made an ugly sound, but didn't say anything else. Good.
They made it upstairs without any further complaints.
When they made it around all the boxes, they found Ilam sitting on the bed, dressed in his clothes now, the corpse of a car radio spread out in front of him. Marc set his second plate next to him, fork and all. The alien noticed after a second, and picked the whole thing up.
"Think we should find a place for us to eat?" Marc asked.
"I dunno," Terry said. "You mind if we eat here, Ilam?"
Ilam looked up, fork halfway to his mouth. Bastard must've been starving. He blinked a few times, looked around. Then, with one leg, he cleared some of the crap off of the bed with a long swipe.
"I guess that answers that," Marc said, and found a spot under the window to sit. Terry stood for a minute, but sat down at Marc's other side, glad to have the giant between him and whatever Ilam was.
Dinner was mostly quiet, seeing as communication was a little tricky. Ilam seemed more interested in eating for the moment, anyway. Again, Terry was glad he didn't have a front row seat for that event.
Dusk was fast approaching, and the boxes starting casting some pretty deep shadows.
"This room have a light?" Marc asked. Terry could barely see him sitting next to him; the plate glowed a little in the dim light coming in through the window. Looked like Marc was done eating already.
"Should be a switch on the wall around here," Terry said. "Got a ceiling light in here, don't hafta worry about lamps 'n shit."
Marc climbed to his feet with a "Be right back," and fumbled around the wall. Ilam pulled his knees in to let him pass, still guarding his not quite empty plate.
"On this wall?"
"I dunno, one of 'em. Don't think we stacked boxes in front of it."
"Aha!" Marc said, and then there was light.
Ilam jumped almost completely off the bed, looking around in shock, like someone had just punched him in the face. He floundered around for a second, somehow not upsetting his plate, eyes fixed on the glowing orb half-hidden behind a tall stack of boxes.
"Whoa, what's his problem?" Terry asked, realizing that he can gone into a crouch, too.
Marc peeked from around a cardboard corner. "What happened? You guys okay over there?"
"I dunno, Ilam just freaked out right now!"
Actually, Ilam was just starting to calm down. He broke off staring at the light, glanced around the room. He murmured a few things to himself, then turned to Terry.
"¿Sol?¿Qué es luz?"
"It's just a light, dude," Terry said. The question seemed obvious enough, even if he didn't understand the language. This seemed to calm Ilam down a little more.
"Maybe they don't have electricity where he comes from," Marc ventured, now making his way back to the bed. He stopped a good four or five feet from the Ilam, probably to keep from making him feel crowded.
Now Ilam turned to Marc. "Ee-lec-tri-cid-y?"
"Huh, uh, yeah. Electricity. Like lightning? Damn, how do you say that in Spanish?"
"I got no idea," Terry said. "Uhm, it's energy." Ilam turned in his direction now, still with a wild look in his eye. "We use it to do stuff, make things like that—" he waved toward all the boxes of electronics "—do things."
Ilam stared at the remains of that destroyed radio on the floor. Maybe he was catching on.
"We can show him stuff," Marc said, now leaning against one of the stacks.
"That a good idea?" The last thing they, Rick, or the planet needed was some extraterrestrial stealing Earth tech.
But what kind of alien didn't know what electricity was?
"Come here," Marc said, waving Ilam over. "I wanna show you something."
"Marc, what are you doing?"
Ilam was standing up, already starting over toward the giant.
"If he's gonna be in the room, shouldn't we show him how to use a light switch?"
That was a fair point, but Terry still felt uneasy. Okay, so the thing knew how to turn on a faucet to get water, and hell, he even figured out how to flush a toilet, so really, how different was this?
There was just too much they didn't know about Ilam, though. He'd told them things, sure, but what did any of it mean? Was he even telling the truth?
And if lights were a new, scary invention, what kind of spaceship could he have used to get here in the first place? Was there even one?
Ilam and Marc disappeared into the maze of boxes, and suddenly the lights went out. Then they turned on again. They flickered a few more times, slowly at first, and then very rapidly.
Terry was glad he wasn't an epileptic.
After a minute of playing around, the lights stayed on and the pair walked back to the bed. The look on Ilam's face was what Terry would have called "delighted."
"Okay, so he can turn the lights on and off," Terry said, "But how much should we show off?"
"Honestly, I'd love to show him radios and the TV and stuff, but Adrianna's downstairs now."
Yay, some common sense. Terry felt some tension leave his shoulders and neck.
"I could bring up some batteries or stuff to plug into the wall that he can play with, though."
"We gotta shut the blinds, too," Terry said. "Don't want anyone to get a good look inside. An' we can play around with stuff later, 'kay Marc?"
Marc looked glum for a second, but nodded. Pluggin' shit into and out of wall sockets could wait for another day.
It wasn't like Ilam was going anywhere in a hurry.
"Yeah," Marc said, "We should probably be getting ready for bed anyway." To Ilam, "Vamos a dormir por la noche."
Ilam did something that looked like a shrug and grabbed for the pile of blankets that'd been set off to one side. "Dormir," he repeated, and laid himself out across the mattress.
"That was easy," Terry said, standing so he wouldn't get poked with those freaky feet. "C'mon, let's go."
As they walked around the little maze, Terry had a thought.
"Hey, how d'ya say 'Good night' in Spanish?"
Marc turned around. "Uh, 'Buenas noches.' Why?"
Terry ignored him. He felt like an idiot, but before he turned the corner, he glanced back at the mattress on the floor and the alien sprawled out on it.
"Buenas noches," he said to the lump under the sheets. Ilam was probably already asleep.
As he turned off the light, though, Terry could have sworn he heard a voice coming from inside the room.