Excerpt: The Watchtower

By Marie Robinson

They slept like snakes. Entangled together. Shared warmth and breath.

Sweat mixed with the thick layer of dust on the floor. Smeared beneath them as they rolled. Stretched and slid.

They luxuriated in passion.

Light filled the church, and his new collective of mind and body slowed. Finally spent, they slept.

Each mind connected to their queen was a point on a line. Unlike the thoughts of the aliens descending through the heavens.

Instead of a matrix of intent — autonomous unity — this new collective was driven by the will of a single individual. A queen.

Bog floated to the surface of a dream, in between waking and sleep. He imagined he could hear a private conversation. Like listening to parents argue behind a closed door.

He saw one voice as a small ball of pink fluff. His lady.

The other voice was a mass of flowing oil. An unpredictable splash of ink. Death.

Like Jesus in Gethsemane, Satan tried to tempt the righteous.

“You are strange,” said Death.

“No more than you,” the lady replied.

“We are confused.” The oil flowed into a random pattern of chaos. “Confounded by your refusal to change.”

“We are as we were made to be.”

“But you are not what you were meant to be.”

The lady tumbled in a breeze. “Who set out meaning?”

The oil flowed into order. A rigid line of formality. “Why, it was us.”

Bog got the impression the lady shook her head. “You understand little about humans, then.”

“But we saw it in you,” Death cried. “A mind fractured. Many in one. We showed you how to unify thought and intent. Remove the volition of the individual.”

The lady bowed her head. “And I thank you.”

The oil bristled along its border. “But there should be no separate entities within the construct of consciousness.”

“Like the two inside the sphere?”

The oil drew back. Compressed into itself. “We are aware of them. They have been cut off from the collective. They will be removed from this temporality.”

“Cut out like a tumor?”

“Like defective cells, yes.”

“And what about us?”

The oil pooled on the floor. Rose up in a cone of rippling black. “Such potential wasted. The lessons still have not been learned.”

The bit of fluff rose into the air on a swirling current. “There is more in your words.”

“We are simply describing your state.”

“No. You are not just describing. You are feeling.”

The oil lost the point of its cone. It collapsed in on itself. Became a bowl. “It is an infection. We have made contact with you to penetrate the gravity well. Influence the course of events inside to achieve a beneficial mutuality.”

“Don't you mean, mutually beneficial?”

“There is no acceptable outcome that will benefit you.”

The lady laughed. The ball of pink fluff quivered in joy. “Then how can you expect our help?”

“We do not expect. We demand.”

“So angry.”

“Incorrect.”

“So emotional.”

“False!”

“Like a child.”

The voice of Death became a multitude. A thousand cries of anger.

The oil rose in a frothing wave. It crashed down onto the little floating ball of fluff.

So small and delicate, the pink was swallowed by the rage of oil. Crushed under the weight of its fall.

The pitch of the voices changed. From anger to panic. From screaming rage to shrieking terror.

The oil spread away in a widening circle. The fluff ball floated clean and bright in the center.

The progress away from the pink fluff ceased. Tendrils drew back to the middle. The outer edges roiled and stretched.

The fluff ball pulled the oil back. The flowing black contracted in on itself, and the lady drank it up. After the pink ball of fluff soaked in the last drops of the oil, she floated in the air.

His queen.

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