The afternoon of the next day, Peter and Michelle were walking in a Toronto shopping mall.
“I can’t believe those things in your mom went ahead and revealed themselves to you like that,” he said.
“Her identity has been fused with that of the…aliens,…it seems,” Michelle said, whispering aliens. “She trusts me as her daughter, but they needed to gain my trust.”
“OK, but she’s aware…and they are aware…of the danger of these government assassins, right?” he asked.
“If there even are government assassins. But yeah, she says she has armed security patrolling the newspaper, just in case you’re right. I saw them there. She should be OK, for now, at least. I’ll wanna be with her when she goes home tonight, though.”
“And what if an assassin tries to shoot her, but you get caught in the crossfire and he hits you instead? I don’t wanna lose you any more than you want to lose her.”
“If she gets shot, I don’t wanna learn about it on the news. I wanna be there with her.” Michelle began to sob.
“Hey, c’mon. Don’t start crying.” Peter put his arm around her. “Look, I know it isn’t easy talking about this, but…how much of her do you think is her, and how much do you think is…alien?” He whispered the last word.
“All of her is my mom!” Michelle shouted, then covered her mouth in embarrassment at all the faces in the mall looking at her. “The…alien part” [whispered] “…is so fully spread around in her, there’s no distinguishing the one from the other. It’s like…syrup on pancakes, you know? You can’t separate them once the one is poured on the other. What’s more to the point, though, is that, maybe, just maybe, I really am beginning to sympathize with…those things, despite what they did to my dad.”
“That’s your attachment to your mom speaking, I’m afraid.”
“It’s more than that!” Again, Michelle caught herself after shouting. “She’s made genuine changes to the paper, and to the governance of Mississauga District, changes she’d never have made before those things got inside her. Pay raises to all her employees, new health benefits for them, cleaning up the air, new regulations about garbage disposal that won’t hurt the environment, better welfare, lots of things like that, obviously the influence of the…aliens.” That last word was whispered again.
“Wayne Grey’s been doing all that in MedicinaTech, too,” Peter said. “When he talks about not caring about profits, he seems to mean it, as do all those on the Board of Directors, who by now have all been compromised by the…aliens.” [whispered] “…Since they won’t come inside me, I can go back there and talk with the staff in all civility. The things fly out of everyone, but they don’t enter me. They just hover in front of me, you know, the way they always do to us. But I’ll bet there’s another reason these people with those things in them are being assassinated: the capitalist governments of the world want to stop these good reforms. I really think those things only kill the bad guys…”
Michelle scowled at him for that last remark, remembering her dad.
“…O-or change the bad into the good, as they did your mom,” Peter said in an awkward attempt at self-correction. “Hey, I include my own mom and dad among the bad guys.”
Michelle continued scowling at him. “My mom may have been misguided in her running of the newspaper and the city, as were your late parents in MedicinaTech, but my mom was never a bad person, Peter. And you shouldn’t talk that way about your parents, as flawed as they were.”
“OK, bad choice of words. I’m sorry, but you know what I was trying to say.”
“Yeah, but still, I’m not so sure if these changes for the good really are well-intentioned,” Michelle said. “I mean, what if those things are really just trying to win our sympathy and support, to gain our help, then when they’ve totally taken over, they start to do really evil things, and it’s too late for us to stop them?”
“I’ve thought of that, too,” Peter said. “Believe me.”
They were approaching a public washroom. “Wait a sec,” she said. “I gotta pee.”
“So do I,” he said.
She went in the ladies’ room followed by three other women. She and one of them immediately went into stalls while the other two were checking themselves in the mirror.
A few seconds after the first tinkling of piss could be heard, the woman at the mirror to the left released the dots of light from her right hand. As soon as the lights entered the woman to the right, she dropped her tube of lipstick and fell to the floor.
Michelle and the other woman in a stall could hear grunts of pain over the sound of their pissing, but felt powerless to help until emptying their bladders, so full were they. They pressed and tried to go as fast as they could to be ready to help, but by the time Michelle had pulled her pants up and opened her stall door, the grunting woman was up on her feet again and grinning one of those creepy grins at the carrier woman, then at Michelle.
“Are you OK?” Michelle asked her. “I heard grunts of pain.”
“Oh, I’m fine,” the still-smiling woman said, then gave a fake-sounding laugh. “I just had a sudden pang of pain in my stomach. It happens to me once in a while. I took a pill, and it kicked in immediately.”
Michelle stared in her eyes for a few seconds. “Really?”
“Oh, yes,” the woman said with another fake laugh and that grin never leaving her face. “Don’t worry, I’m OK.” Her grin wavered a bit as she saw that Michelle clearly wasn’t buying her story.
“Really, Miss,” the first carrier said, also with a fake smile. “It happened just as she said it did.”
“I don’t believe either of you,” Michelle said, now looking at the first carrier hard in the eyes. “I know what really happened, and I know what you are. And you know exactly what I mean by that.”
The woman in the other stall stayed quiet, but was watching everything through the crack in the door.
“Really?” the old and new carriers said together, then released the lights on Michelle. They, of course, just hovered in front of her as usual. “Oh, you’re an ally,” the carriers also said together, seeming to possess only one mind between them.
“An ally?” Michelle said with a sneer. “I don’t see myself as an ally of yours. Believe me.”
“You will one day,” the first carrier said. “So will your boyfriend, when all is revealed. But not now. You still aren’t ready to understand what has to be done.”
“Ready?” Michelle asked. “How do you know about my boyfriend? What do you want from us?” She came out of her stall. The dots of light retreated, returned to, and reentered their carriers.
“You’re not ready to be told everything,” the new carrier said. “Nor is your boyfriend ready for the burden.”
“You’ll know soon enough, though,” the first carrier said.
“How do you know about my boyfriend?” Michelle asked. “Did you see us together out there?”
“We didn’t need to see you together,” the first carrier said. “We know a lot of things you don’t need eyes, ears, or the sense of touch to learn of. But you will like what we will–“
Suddenly, a gun with a silencer went off, the bullets hitting both carriers in the heart and killing them. Michelle screamed and jumped, then looked back.
“They needed their eyes and ears to know I was coming,” the woman in the stall said. She came out with the pistol in her right hand and a small can of bug spray in her left. “They’re nowhere near omniscient.”
The lights flew out of the dead women’s bodies and at their assassin. She sprayed the first half-dozen or so. They all lost their glow, then fell to the floor, hitting it with a sound like dropped marbles.
“And now, it’s your turn…,” she said, but Michelle had already run out of the washroom. “Oh, shit. Can’t go after her. Gotta dispose of these two.” She walked over to the bodies.
As soon as Michelle had thrown open the washroom door, she saw Peter walking past it. She grabbed his hand and pulled him along.
“Hey, Michelle!” he said. “What is it? Where are we going?”
“To Mississauga!” she said, still with her hand tightly holding his and making him run with her.
“Yes,” she said as they were approaching an exit. “To the newspaper. Those assassins you were telling me about are real!”