Aaron realizes she has never known her husband, the brief span of time in which she thought she knew him, turned out to be an illusion. While hiking along the Appalachian Trail with a group of friends, she met the rugged and woodsy man. He shared a pot of coffee with them while putting them back on track (they had managed to loose themselves a little). During the coffee and realignment break, a friendship was formed and Justin, the helpful hermit, offered to guide them back to their camp.

Aaron and Justin connected almost instantly and began spending the majority of the next few days in each others company. A few shared excursions were all it took for Aaron to fall deeply in love with his woodsy ways and dashing good looks. When her trip ended a tearful goodbye tore them apart and Justin was 'the one who got away', for a few months. Atlanta and the real world waited for her in the dirty south and she didn't stop crying the entire plane ride back.

As an office manager she was soon back amidst the hustle and bustle of city life and two months after her steamy camping trip, Aaron was almost completely over Justin. That was when she began to notice a swelling of her belly and her monthly cycle sputtered out. Two more weeks went by and she became certain. With tears of fear and joy mixed together and served on the rocks, Aaron made her way back to Virginia. The pregnancy test was really just a formality, Aaron knew she was pregnant long before the blue line told her so.

Justin was a doll, he immediately packed up his few possessions and moved to Atlanta with her. They were married in a flash and the over-anxious father quickly took work with a lawn care company. Justin took his wife's name and even admitted that his identity was phony having left home as a runaway and with no records. He claimed to have purchased his identity for twelve hundred dollars, which he saved up while working as a whitewater rapids guide.

A few months later Justin Jr. arrived and the two males became inseparable. Aaron began to realize how little she truly knew about her husband as she noticed him spending less and less time in her presence. Him and his son were always talking in their own made up language, which sounded like beeps and clicks. She tried it with Jr. one night while putting him to bed but her son only stared at her in puzzlement.

The look her son gave her that night was troublesome and a bit frightening. Justin Jr. was about six months old at the time and when she began beeping and clicking his face went blank. Jr's little blue eyes took on a look of slight confusion and then clouded over with what looked like pity. No smile showed on his chubby little lips and no attempt to talk back was made. She never again tried to bond with her son in that way, however, it didn't matter how she tried, Aaron could never bond with her son in any way.

Justin became more and more distant as he began taking long hiking trips with their son and often leaving only a note, briefly explaining the latest excuse for his camping excursion. By the time Justin Jr. was five she made up her mind, Justin Sr. had to go. While the Justin duo was camping, Aaron would be at the library, doing research. Hurt and feeling alone in the family she had made, Aaron decided to kill Justin.

She was smart enough to do the research there at the library, rather than check out the books and leave a paper trail of evidence. She finally settled on poison and one that would target the heart and look natural. When the exact type of poison was carefully memorized she then drove three states over to purchase it and was home with dinner on the table long before her husband and son returned. Carefully preparing Justin Sr.'s favorite meal she waited for her men to come home.

Headlights splashed through the front window, signaling their arrival and she greeted them at the door. Neither of them seemed to even notice her but head straight upstairs to unpack. Lovingly dishing out the food, she checked to make sure the coast was clear before pouring a little of the powder into Justin Sr.'s wine. Throughout the meal she refilled his wine, adding poison only once more, watching from the corner of her eyes every time he took a sip.

The process was repeated several consecutive nights before she was confident the end was near. On the fourth night, Aaron gave him the last of the doses and smiled with satisfaction. Two more nights went by before she began to worry and on the third night she gave him a lethal dose in one sitting. When two weeks and forty-five hundred lethal doses had not done a thing, she driove back to the 'Bunk-State' and bought more but no matter how much poison she gave him or what form she used, her husband was up at six am each morning, full of energy.

With bottled-up rage and frustration Aaron is forced to go back to the 'drawing-board'. If the mysterious Justin is immune to poison, surely something more barbaric will suffice. Aaron comes up with a plan to end all plans, stage a robbery gone bad! Just to be on the safe side she travels three states over but visits a different state than before. Using a phony ID she purchases the .38 special from a gun show and drives home. When her men come home Aaron is once again ignored.

The thing that works in Aaron's favor the most is the fact that Justin Sr. (and Jr. for that matter) sleeps like the dead. From ten pm. until six am. Justin sleeps and not even an earthquake could wake him. Aaron has shouted, shaken, kicked and even poked her husband with a sewing needle in an attempt to wake him from sleep, none of those things worked. As Aaron heads outside she smiles in confidence, certain this plan will work.

She breaks the sliding glass door from the outside using one of the wrought-iron patio chairs and storms upstairs, pulling the weapon and crossing the short distance to the bed like a wraith. As Justin sighs heavily in his sleep she places the short snub of the revolver to his temple and fires three shots. Aaron zips into action, wiping the gun clean and stowing it in a hidden location under the floorboards. Bracing herself for the next step, Aaron heaves the fire-proof lock box over her head and brings it down with a blow that sends stars through her vision as the lights go out.

When she wakes up, expecting to see police on the scene, it is Justin's eyes she is looking into. He explains that someone tried to rob them and asks her what happened. In a confused state she explains that a very tall man forced his way inside and tried to take the lock-box. "I put up a fight but the last thing I remember was hearing a gun go off. I thought they shot you, I thought you were dead!" Her phony sobs bring a smile to Justin's face and she wants to shoot him again.

He is completely unharmed and seems to be taking pleasure in her distress. She starts to feel like she is loosing her mind and after repeating the story to the officers that arrive and finishing with the paramedics that follow, Aaron goes to bed to try and come up with a new plan. The act of killing her husband becomes an obsession and her highly intelligent mind goes to work at once. The only flaw in the last plan seemed to be the ammunition. Somehow she must have purchased blanks!

This time she will do something that absolutely cannot fail; she will run him over! This one will require the most planning and the result will most likely be a long court battle. She curses her husband silently for forcing her down this avenue but the obsession is bigger than life and Justin WILL DIE! It has to look like an accident and when Aaron is well enough, she begins to work it out.

On the designated night, Aaron sets the stage carefully in the garage. Pulling in, presumably after work, she parks right on top of the outside trashcan. Listening to the pops of plastic and squelch of metal she stops and waits for her men to get home. When they arrive, she quickly explains the situation with phony tears streaming down her beautifully rosy cheeks. She tells her husband to watch the front bumper while she backs off of the trashcan because, "I don't want the whole front end coming off on me! Just yell if it looks like it is messing anything up."

Justin gives her an annoyed look but complies, standing directly between the front of the car and the rear cinder-block wall. He motions for her to back up and looks down, that is when she does it. Already working up a story in her mind she slams the car into drive and floors it, not only pinning Justin to the hood but into the wall as well. The icing on the cake is bursting through the block wall and watching Justin's mangled body fly across the back lawn to land crumpled against the little dogwood tree.

As he stands up and brushes himself off, she faints.

Justin is looking down at her and surveying the damage, all the while laughing at her stupidity. "You have to be the dumbest woman on this entire planet! Even I know the difference between reverse and drive."

"How did you…." But Aaron trails off as her husband continues.

"I'm just lucky I jumped out of the way in time! Good grief woman, what are you trying to do, kill me?" He laughs as he says it but Aaron freezes over with panic.

"Uh, what….I…..UH…NO….Oh honey…I…..Uh!" She mumbles and mutters as the tears begin to well up and out of her eyes like a tropical rainstorm.

"Oh Aaron!" He swoops down and scoops her up, "I was only joking. You must be shaken up tremendously, please come inside!"

The wretched man's display of love towards her is almost more than she can bear and she silently seethes while plotting the next attempt. He must have jumped out of the way and she only imagined the rest. Killing her husband has become as vital to her survival as breathing! Aaron is through playing games, she is no longer concerned with making it look like an accident; Aaron heads to her father's house for a few 'supplies'.

Aaron's father is a developer and a very successful one at that. More times than she can count, her dad has been cursing and shouting about boulders. "God loves to put those damned things right in the way of my septic lines!" or "Not one but three of the damned things and the backhoe wouldn't budge any of them!"

Daddy keeps a loving store of TNT for just such occasions and it is in front of these crates that Aaron now stands. Her eyes are wide and filled with a maddened glee that would be more appropriate on a serial killer's face. Her beautiful face is drawn up in a snarl of ecstasy as she grabs dozens of the sticks and carefully packs them in a duffel. This time there will be no mistakes and hours later at the foot of her bed, she stares at Justin with sticks of dynamite in hand.

A thin trail of drool trickles out of her once luscious lips and rains down her chin to wet the blouse below. Hair a nest of tangles and giggling like a loon, Aaron carefully wraps each stick with duct-tape and secures them to every inch of his sleeping form. The final touch is the one she inserts in his back door, just to be certain. When her meticulously murderous work is complete she steps back with the common wick in one hand and a flaming lighter in the other.

As the wick sizzles to life she cries out like a banshee and dashes from the house with Justin Jr.'s sleeping form in her arms. Finally she can be with her son and comfort him in his loss. Psychotic daydreams of fun-filled picnics and shopping trips dance through her head. She can put the cold and distant marriage out of her mind and begin raising the son she loves while receiving, for the first time, her son's love back! Perhaps now (at the age of eight) her son will stop that stupid baby-squawk talk the Justin duo is so famous for.

As Aaron reaches the street at full sprint, the explosion rocks her quiet and slumbering neighborhood. The entire second-floor erupts with the blast and her bedroom is vaporized, causing the house to fall in around it while debris rain down on the lawn. A loud-laughing scream tears through the night and Aaron stops when she realizes it is coming from her. Laughing and kissing the sleeping boy in her arms she turns to survey the damage.

Justin Sr. is looking up at the house before turning to fix her with a stern look while rubbing his backside; he is completely naked. It doesn't even register at first but slowly a black fog drifts into her vision. How can this be? Justin Jr. falls gracelessly to the street as she begins to murmur nonsense. A goofy look of disbelief stains her once ravishing face and a cat-cackle bubbles out of her in hitching sobs.

Justin explains to the arriving firemen that after taking a shower, he was walking downstairs to get a beer before retiring for bed. The explosion scared him outside where he met his wife and son. It is very clear by the insane babble issuing from Aaron that she is responsible. Two days later she is committed to the Sunnyview Mental Institution over in Midlothian, visited weekly by her loving husband and son. Residents and staff often laugh at her amusing antics, often whispering about the super-humans that are invading the planet.

"They don't die…he-he…nothing….ha! Invincible….I'll show you….he-he…in his bum-bum….he-he…..invincible…" After a few months of this she grows silent and the last thing she says before dying forty-two years later is, "I must be dreaming."

Part Two

The travel agent's desk is a bit messy but Justin overlooks this fact, the man is pleasant enough. "I need a vacation Tom. I just came off a four hundred year construction tour and I need to wind down. What do you have for me?"

"We have a resort on Playtus 5. They have some of the tallest mercury geysers in the Galaxy and night time temperatures dip down to near absolute zero!" Tom begins pulling up breathtaking pictures on the large view-screen when he notices Justin yawn and roll his eyes. "Terribly boring, I know. How about one of our newest features, the Black Hole cruise, oh you are going to love this! The exciting climax comes when you are smashed into the smallest possible concentration, about the size of an atom!"

"Tom, I'm looking for something different. You are throwing out corny family vacations, do I look like I need to entertain my elderly in-laws? I want something out of this world, a one of a kind vacation and make it long." Justin wants to relax for a few decades, maybe even burn up most of his ninety-seven years off. "If I have to skip over to the next galaxy for a better deal I'm going to be pissed."

"Now hold on Justin, you and I go back thousands of years. They don't call me the best for nothing," Tom gets a sly look on his face and opens a drawer, which is jammed to overflowing with files. A few seconds of searching results in a triumphant cry and a thin blue folder is produced.

"My brother had a wonderful thirty-five year vacation a few centuries back." Tom opens the folder and lays it out on the desk as a blue planet comes up on the view-screen. "In one of our galaxy's outer arms sits this primitive star-system with one peculiar planet nestled among a heap of fairly common planets. The system has not been wired for cable television or high-speed galactic-net so you will have to go back to dial up and bunny-ears but I think that might be what you are looking for. The Rattaboun Nation has proposed a galactic park and fusion station but it is still in its infancy and has to go through seven more galactic planning councils before it is approved. They won't see a construction force for at least four centuries, plenty of time for you to work out your kinks."

"I like it so far, tell me more." Justin smiles as he eyes the tiny blue planet spinning on the screen. It is mostly water but that just makes it all the more beautiful, he peers down at the file, thumbing through the information. The planet has grown life forms due to its unimaginably mundane weather conditions and he reads up on some of the more interesting ones: woodchucks, hummingbirds, flu viruses, deer ticks and even funny little bipeds that call themselves humans.

"As you can see, there are perhaps four billion different types of visible life forms. Don't quote me on that number, it is a guess." As Tom continues, several interesting creatures flash on the screen. "The dominant life form is the common cold however, one of the more interesting creatures, according to my brother, are those humans. They have evolved a primitive form of communication but he was able to converse with them fairly well. They burn fossil fuel and still rely heavily on that archaic invention, the wheel."

"Sounds nice Tom, what would fifty years on that little planet cost me?" Justin sits back with the file in his lap, reading all the fine print.

"For you Justin, two million and I'll throw in a rental ship for free." Tom slides him the keys to a brand new M-class Spinz one of the sports utility models that have become so popular lately. "It has PawnStar Navigation and a receiver that picks up those new HD radio stations."

"You've got yourself a deal."

Justin winces as his modem whines and beeps, cursing this backwoods location for a moment in his annoyance at the stupid and outdated 'dial-up' process. As he skims the net he is cursing again at the granny-like speed of its data transfer. The planet hangs in his windshield getting closer every second. Cracking his neck while stretching, Justin prepares to wind down. This will be a blessed relief and exotic change, he is glad he's here.

The first ten years are spent studying those crazy creatures, the humans. He learns their awful languages and slows his speech so he can be understood while finally settling on a location. The Appalachian Mountains are a nice location to spend a decade or two and he poses as a mountain-hermit for kicks. He builds a rustic cabin and learns to live off the land, often talking with hikers or locals. As the years pass, he begins to wonder about human mating rituals.

While conversing with a rather shapely female human, she offers to demonstrate. He finds the whole affair messy and time consuming but politely thanks her for the experience. When a few months pass, she returns and is with child. Justin is pleasantly surprised, he was unaware of their compatibility and looks forward to having offspring. Before he knows it, they are living in her hometown and he has a son.

They name the boy Justin Jr. and he has never been happier. Now he can vacation on this primitive backwoods planet and have someone to talk to! Justin Jr. starts speaking at two weeks and his wife Aaron is the first to hear it. She rushes in and looks at Justin Sr. frantically. Aaron all but drags Justin into their son's nursery and Justin is smiling as he hears the lovely twinkling of Jr's voice.

"Jr. is beeping!" As they go to their infant, she looks at him for reassurance. "Is that normal? It sounds weird, is he OK?"

"Oh honey, just beep back." Justin can hear his son clearly and looks at Aaron sadly, realizing her vast inferiority. "It's baby-talk, all babies beep and click."

"That doesn't sound like any baby I've ever heard." His wife looks at the baby nervously but seems reassured by her husband's explanation.

"Your mother cannot understand you, she is an inferior life form." Justin explains to his son.

"I can see your mind daddy." Justin Jr. says in awe.

"You are finally able to use your mental tail. You have absorbed my innate mental patterns which have given you speech as well as an extensive knowledge of your body's limitations." He explains to the young boy.

"You sound just like him." Aaron stares at him and the boy while they try desperately not to laugh.

Aaron soon leaves them alone and the two form a mental cloud around her, pushing her away. Justin realizes that she has given him everything she can, these humans seem to be born for one purpose only. Perhaps that is why they die so young, rarely seeing their first century. Justin doesn't hate his wife, he loves her but cannot truly connect with her. Now every time she is around Justin feels pity. The bond with Jr. grows and he doesn't let his wife trouble him much.

He teaches Jr. how to absorb all the elements they need to survive, often tunneling deep into the Appalachian Mountains. Their weekend or week long excursions keep them out of Aaron's hair and allow her to live her short and unimportant life. She grows clumsy and incompetent very quickly, making driving errors in her forties that usually occur in the eighties and nineties. She drives completely through the back wall of the garage, taking Justin along with her and only his fast talking tongue combined with his amazing intellect allow him to hide his true nature.

In a bizarre turn of events, she attempts to initiate foreplay in the HOUSE! Her frail body cannot hope to withstand the intense heat of a Bang and it destroys their residence! He realizes that Aaron has discovered his secret but it must have been more than she could handle. She undergoes something the humans call institutionalization which is what they do to people whose minds break. She wastes away in a building that reeks of urine and pine scented cleaners (although Justin does not think they smell like pine).

When his vacation is over, he takes Jr. back to his old stomping grounds and shows his son the star systems he grew up in. When he finally goes back to work, Jr. goes into the Academy where after three and a half centuries he graduates from the fifth grade. His father is there for the graduation ceremony and little Justin Jr. even makes reference to the wonderful vacation him and his father spent when he was born, finishing his graduation speech with the statement.

"There were many strange and uncommon creatures but my favorite by far was the dominant life form, the common cold."

The End