Monday, November 07, 2005

Chapter 4: I’d left right after that. And, regretted having taken a drink from the new glass of water they’d offered me during our conversation. They didn’t interfere with my departure, except for Chris warning me, “We’ll see you again, Polly. You’ve got too many questions not to want some answers.”

Spooked, I spent the next several days looking over my shoulder. Then one day, the darndest thing happened: I realized that I wanted to see them peeking around a corner, or over a low wall. I wanted to see them. Period. They were the only ones offering answers, though outlandish. And, the thing was, something rung true for me as they’d spoken—a sense of genuine care, hope, expectation on their parts.

It had been one of those beautiful summer days, the sun painting everything a shade of yellow. Even the burnt orange bricks felt warm against my fingertips as I’d idly glided them along the wall’s bumpy surface. The alleyway smelled worse than the first time I’d visited; the warmth stimulating the growth of things I didn’t want to think about. I’d stood in front of the door for a while, despite the stench. When I’d finished resigning myself to my fate, I raised my fist and my antenna, knocking on the door with the former. I’d wondered if I’d ever find out what aphrodisiac they’d put in that drink.

They’d welcomed me without a word, and had even picked up right where they’d left off those many days ago:

Death, the disease, was not ever meant to become a part of our existence. There was a time when life was abundant. But, then came the Volers—a foreign race of creatures so full of death that they were voracious for anything that would dull their pain. Our world wasn’t the first, or the last to be attacked; our lives stolen.

However, the thieves were not so uncivilized as to take every scrap of resource, leaving nothing to replenish itself. Instead, life was seeped out little by little. And, as this hungry race grew, grasping for more of what they did not have, our lifespans shrunk. And, would continue doing so until the inevitable end.

“The human lifespan has decreased by over one hundred years in the past few centuries,” Lukas had said. He’d been surprisingly civil throughout the story.

The sudden quiet prompted me to fill it. “But, how do you explain the shorter life spans that are documented decades, even centuries before now? I was never very good at history, but I remember that even royalty back in, like, the Victorian age rarely made it past middle age.”

“Volers are able to exhibit restraint when it suits their longterm plans. In our case, we know that they’d not had much success with finding other viable worlds; meaning a population with eternal life spans. They’d had to cut back.”

“Okay, so what about murders? Accidental deaths? If things were as you say they’re supposed to be, would these people be walking around with gun shot holes, with broken necks?”

They looked at one another. “We don’t know,” Chris answered.

Well, I hadn’t expected that response.

He continued with a shrug. “We don’t have all the answers, Polly. We just have the answers we need to do what needs to be done. I know that’s frustrating. Believe me, I know. But, it’s the truth. All of this is the truth.”

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