Plugs

Kat Beyer

Hailey grabbed the toad by the leg and threw it against the wall. There was an ugly splatter.

“See what you’ve done?” she told the prince which had matterialized half-conscious on the floor. “I’m never going to get those guts off the wall and the cleaning lady will ask all sorts of questions in the morning.”

“I’m sorry,” stuttered the boy. “You freed me, my Princess!”

“Yeah, whatever. That’s what we do in this country. We free people.” Hailey wrinkled her nose at the overwhelming acne on the boy’s face. “I’m soo glad I didn’t kiss you,” she said.

“But you will when we’re married?” he asked. Hailey lifted an eyebrow.

“You are going to marry me, aren’t you?”

Hailey backed off towards the door. She’d planned to spend the morning in bed, but the citric walls and cool posters weren’t as welcoming with slime dripping down to the floor.

“Wait, don’t leave me!” The frog-prince scuffled after her. “I rescued your PSP from that lake.”

Hailey turned towards him viciously.

“Listen to me, you little toad. I don’t owe you anything. Sure you got the PSP back, and I already said thank you for that. Following me home hasn’t been a cool move. And when I threw you? Well, I didn’t plan on freeing you, I was just trying to stop you from jumping into bed with me!”

The boy whimpered and gave her that look: emotional blackmail, pitiful thumb-twisting, a calf going to the slaughterhouse.

“OK, listen. I have to go to class now. Bertzank will go insane if I skip English 101. I can’t not go. You just go back to your lake and I’ll come get you after class.”

The frog prince scuttled obligingly out the door and Hailey closed it behind him with a sigh. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and she had cleaning to do.

About ten percent of the people on the Earth are aliens. That’s not surprising to those in the know. That’s how it’s always been. Daedalus and Churchill were aliens, so was Francis of Assisi but pretty much all the rest of them were here just trying to fit in until the day we get to take over. Half the time you humans think you’re so tolerant, half the time you think you’re so <i>in</i>tolerant. Fact is, everybody in the universe looks pretty much the same, you just don’t have the senses to tell if your friend or co-worker is one of (insert descending crescendo) <i>them</i>.

Does your neighbor smell a bit funny? Are they doing things you don’t understand sometimes? Do they look Muslim?

Those aren’t the ones you have to look out for. They’re just more of  you. It’s the ones that look and act completely normally you need to beware. But you won’t.

We’re good at this.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

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