Canto Fifty-Three – The Morrells’ Assigned Sleeping Nest
Alden was bone weary as he and Gracie finally found the nest that Sizzahl had assigned to the two of them. It was a weird little alcove made of artificial stone, with what appeared at first glance to be a huge pile of sticks and leaves in the middle of the central depression of the floor. The bedding materials were also artificial, however, made from some sort of foamy material and quite comfortable to recline on.
“Oh, Gracie,” said Alden, “I am so relieved to be able to wear clothes again. I really couldn’t stand being naked around the children all the time.”
“I actually liked being naked, Alden. It made me feel nice and so very free.”
“It’s like being totally vulnerable, like someone or something could take a bite out of you at any moment.”
Gracie looked suddenly concerned. “Do you think our poor Brekka is safe with that awful man-eating plant thing?”
“Yes, I do. It actually seems to take care of her. I worry more about Sizzahl being safe with this uncle of hers. Makkhain doesn’t seem very trustworthy to me.”
“You are such an old poop sometimes.” Gracie looked a little put out. “He’s her uncle. He’s family. Surely we can trust Sizzahl in his care.”
“But what about the rest of us? Are we safe from Makkhain? To him, we are the invading aliens. And it’s no secret that the Galtorrian lizard-people will gladly eat human and Telleron flesh.”
“Well… yeah. I don’t completely trust him either. His weird, snaky eyes are creepy. He’s not quite as human-like as dear little Sizzahl.”
“Gracie, I kinda like Sizzahl too, but you have to remember that she has no regrets about using us for her own purposes. As soon as she learned we were Earth humans, she wanted to use us for her little Galtorrian/Human crock-pot experiment. She’s cooking up ten children already, made from our… I mean, my DNA.”
“But when you stop and think about it, Alden, those ten little test-tube babies are your sons and daughters… your actual flesh and blood. Doesn’t it excite you, at least a little bit, that you are finally going to be someone’s Daddy?”
The thought actually hadn’t hit Alden quite as hard as it did at that moment. He almost swooned as he lay down on the soft nest-bedding. “They are half mine and half Sizzahl’s,” He said. “And they are going to be born from glass jars!”
“Cloning vats for warm-blooded children,” said Gracie. “And since they are your children, doesn’t that make them mine too?”
Alden knew that back on Earth, not being able to have children had practically killed Gracie. It was the reason she had been so anxious to adopt Davalon when they found him on that country highway, alone and left behind by his space ship and his people.
“Gracie, how do we do this? We are living on an alien world now, possibly permanently. We are two grown-up people from Earth trapped in the bodies of children. You can never grow up. And if I grow up without you, I… Well, I simply can’t do that. So how do we raise ten children all the same age? And not just any children, half-lizard children!”
“They’re your children, Alden. And I will love them as my own until the day I die.”
“The day you die may never come. And I may have to keep making myself younger every year by Telleron technology to stay even with you. I may be alive forever too.”
Gracie smiled as she crawled on top of Alden in the middle of the Galtorrian nest. “Love me tonight. You haven’t loved me since we became like this.”
“Gracie, you have the body of a little girl.”
“But I am an adult, no matter how young my flesh is. And I love you. We have a family now. Don’t you feel young and alive again too? Like I do? Love me.”
There was no arguing with Gracie. How could he do anything but love her?