“I’m sure you have seen aliens who turn red before,” I muttered.
“We have.” Timok put down a scanner on the table. He turned to Garjah. “You didn’t tell him?”
I scowled. “Tell me what?”
“Your eyes. Did you even notice how dim it has gotten in here?”
Not really. I had notice the bright light when the door opened, but… “Are you saying my eyes changed color?”
“And the pupils have elongated. If you’re seeing in this lower light, they’re clearly more effective than human levels. I’ve had to raise the lights in my lab far more than is comfortable in the past.”
Was he expecting me to apologize for that? I huffed, clenching my jaw. I wanted to cross my arms over my chest, but the signals as I thought about it went haywire and I got my hands tangled up. Damn it! “Just how much of me is going to change because of what you did?” I snapped.
“You mean saving your life?”
“By taking away my choices, changing me into this…. This….” I growled, waving one hand at myself.
“You regret choosing me?” Garjah asked quietly. “You think it was forced on you?” He took a step back, paused, then shook his head. “I thought… I didn’t want that.” His shoulders slumped.
“Garjah, that’s not what I—”
“That’s what you said.” Timok raised an eyebrow.
“Shut up!” I shouted. “Better yet, get out! We don’t need you here.”
“Really?” He managed to cross his arms gracefully over his chest, giving me a haughty look.
“With new genetic changes happening, you want me—your doctor—to just leave and not scan you, not check to see what else might be changing?”
I was about to rip his face off, that was what was about to happen. “Yes!”
“No,” Garjah said at the same time.
“What?” I gaped at him. He wouldn’t look at me.
“Essell, we need to know what is happening with your body. Four arms, denser bone structure, and now your eye color has changed and your pupils are elongated like ours. What else is going to happen? Your hair fall out?”
I clapped my hands over my head. “Oh no, no, no. I don’t look good bald.”
Timok lifted one shoulder. “The pigment change could extend to his skin instead. Did you notice any textural differences?”
“No, he was still smooth and soft. The hair on his body was still there too.”
I looked at them both, horrified. This was my body they were discussing like it was no big deal. I looked down at my bare chest, at the extra pair of arms coming off my ribcage. Was it really my body? Why hadn’t I freaked out more? Why didn’t I want Timok to run every test imaginable now?
All I wanted was him gone. Far away from Garjah and out of our space. His scent was wrong, and I… My breath caught, and I stopped in the middle of a deep breath in, my nose wrinkled. Where had that thought come from?
Garjah and Timok’s words had faded into the background as I tackled those very important questions. Now I began to back away.
“Essell?” Garjah said.
“I can’t do this.” I whirled and fled… right into the bathing chamber. The door slid shut behind me, but there was nowhere to go. I smacked my hand over the sensor, stopping anyone from opening the door at least.
My chest heaved, and my eyes watered. The lights were too bright. I dimmed them, then sank against the wall to sit on my ass, pulling my knees to my chest. The others rested on the floor. The humming vibration was almost soothing. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes.
I’d avoided looking at them. What color were they now? Like Garjah’s? A mix? Were they even the same size or shape other than the pupil changing?
“Why are you here?”
I jerked my head up ready to shout. No, the door was still shut. Garjah wasn’t talking to me. I could hear him through the wall? Stars! What else was going to change on me?
That question was subsumed by my need to know the answer to Garjah’s.
“—all the signs of it. I needed to verify the test results. This is something that has to be reported right away.”
“When do we leave?”
“As soon as I can guarantee transferring to space won’t damage him.”
“The change in gravity is miniscule, and the window is brief.”
“But it’s there. The other option is to put him in stasis—”
I was pushing up and out the door before he even finished the next word, snarling and jabbing a finger toward Timok. “Don’t you even dare. You will not put me in stasis again.”
Timok blinked at my finger then focused past it to look at me. He cocked his head, his wide eyes even wider. “You heard that?”
“You weren’t whispering.” They were probably talking loud to make sure I heard it so I’d come out. Stars! Why didn’t I think of that before I ran out of there? Manipulating aliens.
“A human wouldn’t be able to hear through the ship walls.”
Garjah slowly stepped forward. “We aren’t saying you aren’t human, Essell,” he said carefully, “but parts of you are changing. My hearing and vision is better than most, and you are doing things only I can do.”
“You are reacting more and more like one of us. Your animosity toward me? That has grown, hasn’t it?” That irritating smirk was back. “If you had less control, I’d be either bleeding or out of here.”
I deflated, dropping onto the edge of the bunk. The strong scent of our mixed pleasure surrounded me, and I wanted to curl up and pull the blanket over my head. “I’m scared.”Want more flash?