Such a clever thing you are, he thought with approval. You won the arms race on your planet. I guess ours just went on a little longer, pushed us just that little bit ahead of you.
He tried to sleep, and found that he could not.
Twenty four hours later Clinton reported to the medical lab. Technician Zeke was once again on duty, and Technician Zeke was once again unimpressed.
“Well, you managed to catch this one a little earlier, it seems,” he commented, disdain clear on his face. “But I must wonder once again how you managed to go an entire day without noticing what should have been as plain as the nose on your face.”
Clinton, one hand pulling down the collar of his shirt, shrugged. “Like my professor said, the Screener uses up resources. At first it was just a bump. I didn’t want to report for a burn till he sprouted, to make sure.”
Zeke stared at him skeptically for a moment, then shrugged. “All right. Get in the cube.”
Clinton stood once again in the centre of the cube. He took his shirt off and held it beside him; he wanted a clear view. It looked up at him, like the last one had. This one was younger, however; the eyes were milky white, not yet developed.
Zeke raised his hand, indicating he was about to turn on the Screener.
“So long, buddy, Clinton said. Light flooded the chamber. The thing on his chest did not react.
It took Clinton a few seconds to register what had just happened. The thing looked up sightlessly, alive and unmarred by the radiation.
“Uh…” Clinton could not think of anything to say, but Zeke must have caught the alarm in his voice. He wheeled around, looked into the cube, incredulous.
“Did the emitter go off?” he asked. Clinton nodded, noticing for the first time how the black and yellow filter made Zeke look a little unwell. A little sick.
“Don’t worry, I’ll dial up the power. This must be a glitch,” he said, turning back to the controls. Clinton did not say anything.
Again the flash went off, brighter this time. Clinton shut his eyes against the sudden glare. When he opened them again the thing was still there. And as Zeke ran to the emergency phone to summon the doctors, the milky white sheen left the thing’s eyes, and they stared into Clinton’s with their horrid yellow intensity. Clinton once again imagined the millions upon millions of virus particles that were now travelling through his blood. Imagined a million million tiny little parasites eating him alive all at once.
And Clinton felt a twinge of fear.
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