Today is my favorite day of the year, a day my dearest love and I spend together. We schedule these well in advance, always planning something truly special. But this is the third centennial anniversary of these outings, which we realized we needed after five hundred-ish years together. Our anniversary dates are extra special, each of us gifting the other with an experience we’ve never had before.
I’m giddy with excitement. What I’ve planned, zie’s never seen before. Neither have I, really. I got close enough once to see the aftermath, but it’s been a long time. Millennia. Well before I came here, to this reality. I’ve been planning this since a little after the second world war, but lately, I’m convinced I’ve timed this beautifully given the direction this species is going. I’ll feel like an artist when it all unfurls.
Zie joins me at an outdoor café in New Orleans where the goth humans love to gather. It’s beautiful, all these dark-clad worshippers of the dark. They will make the perfect backdrop.
“You look incredible,” I tell my lover.
Zir smile, half-hearted and almost sad, curdles inside me.
“Are you okay?”
Zie looks me full in the eye and says, “I didn’t plan anything.”
I’m surprised. We’ve always prioritized these dates, but the last decade, I’ve noticed zir efforts have been less enthusiastic. I’d hoped was saving up the energy and ideas for this special night. But I smile. “That’s fine. I’ve planned enough for the both of us. I think you’re going to love this.”
Zie shakes zir head, a peculiar gesture for one of our species. For a moment, zie looks almost human. “I don’t know. I love this place. I hate making things worse for the people here.”
I recoil. Zie loves this planet? Granted, it was beautiful once, but the human habitats have destroyed so much of what made this home charming. “Why?”
Zir sags a little. “They just need a little help, and they’ll be fine.”
What they need is a pestilence to clear the planet of humans so better species can evolve and the scars of humanity can heal, but I don’t say this. Then I realize, if this is zir sentiment, tonight’s plans aren’t likely to go over very well. “What are you not saying?”
“We’re growing apart. Even maintaining our dates, I don’t feel like I know you anymore. Or at least, what I’ve become is no longer compatible with who you’ve always been,” zie says.
I say nothing. What could I say? “Where will you go, then?”
Zie looks hard at me. “I—I don’t plan to go anywhere.” We only stare at each other for long minutes, maybe an hour. “Perhaps you’d like to look elsewhere? Find something more suited to you? I know you hate it here.”
I laugh. What a fine joke this has become. “I think I should be sad right now, but I’m too delighted by how twisted this is. Can you feel it? The surprise I’d planned for you? It’s coming.”
Zie watches me for a moment with suspicion. Then the recognition hits and understanding slackens zir features. “You haven’t.”
The sense of impending doom that hits very suddenly tells me it’s time, and perfect timing. Despite the sadness of the moment, excitement fills me, and I vibrate with expectation.
The skies darken, too much and too soon for this time of day. The humans around us quiet and look up at the sky in time to see bits of fire jetting from the sun. Through the barest haze of cloud, it looks as if it’s become a craggy mess, pixelating, expanding. Breaking apart. It’s stunning. If we needed to breathe, we’d be breathless right now.
Zie whispers. “You did.”
Humans scream around us, an a capella choir that sends shivers over me. Birds screech as they take off, a few dropping globs of sticky white shit like tainted paint all over the ground. Their terror tastes like the sweetest pleasure. I watch my lover’s—my former lover’s—face molded by the combination of delight and disappointment as horror and sadness overwhelm zir.
Long tendrils of shadow creep closer to the planet, and tremors rock the ground. It almost feels like dropping into another reality, a crescendo before sudden calm.
“I’m sorry,” zie says, standing and turning away.
We can’t stay. It’s no more safe for us than it is for any other lifeform on this rock. But zie walks away, joining the masses of humans running through the street, like they can escape the horror growing larger and closer above us.
Such a shame. I’d have loved to grow a little older with zir. We were so incredibly compatible for a while. We could have created such beauty together on some other planet.
I watch the approach until it’s time to leave.
Where I land, there are several planets, none with sentient life and no sign of its potential evolution. I am alone.
I want to return when it’s over, to see the aftermath of this cosmic pestilence, the start of the planet healing its wounds. But my lover is among the dead, and I cannot fathom finding zir remains.
I make my home in solitude and wait.
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