I thought I was prepared for anything, but as the alien creature advanced on me I still sat in shock. It studied me as it came toward me, carefully stepping around what I supposed were the corpses of people I had known quite well. Its head was slightly elongated and sloping back with what looked to be extra eyes along the edges, a blue stripe connecting them.
Something shifted next to me and I saw that it was Todd, but he didn’t look too well. He perched on his seat with blue glowing things evident on his skin. The being’s attention was on him as well, then a surprise.
“You will not be like him, he is merely a breeding colony. Important but otherwise useless.” Its attention swung back to me. How did it know English? “You on the other hand, will be like me.”
Of course a smart remark right now might save me from a fate worse than death, but nothing came. The creature passed within a couple feet of me and plucked a blue-glowing orb the size of a pea from Todd who seemed unconcerned.
“Hold out your hand.”
As I complied it set the orb in my palm, and then curled my fingers over the object. It felt warm, pulsing slightly.
“This will be painful, but I will offer you the chance to make it less so.” The creature squatted before me, holding my fist closed. The skin felt different, but not completely alien. “Close your eyes. What do you see?”
I should use my voice to curse this creature, to scream and carry on like my passed friends, but I comply, “It looks like a planetary nebula.”
“Very good. I will now remove your worries.” The accretion disk around the protostar vanished. I felt light. “Now what do you think the middle is?”
“That’s me.” Now panic started to form despite the clearing of worries, but I couldn’t open my eyes, couldn’t make this terrible dream stop.
“Yes, but it still such a bother, let me replace it with a much more efficient system.”