Written for sfswap.org
STORY NUMBER: 27
PROMPT PROVIDER: @wobbington
AUTHOR: Rachel Tonks Hill
TITLE: Daily Visitation
Every day for the last eight years I’ve woken up with a metallic grey sphere watching me. At least, I assume it’s watching me in some sense. It doesn’t actually have eyes. It’s just a sphere.
The sphere is approximately half a meter in diameter and as perfectly smooth as its possible for an object to be. It is made of some kind of alloy that humanity hasn’t discovered yet. No one knows what it is or what it wants. Every morning it just floats there, at the end of my bed, three feet above the ground. It follows me around the house for about an hour before disappearing back to who knows where.
I call it Dave.
Figured after the first six months or so that I might as well give it a name. Especially when you consider that’s the longest anyone or anything has ever spent in my bedroom. Technically, whatever it is that Dave keeps doing in my bedroom is the longest relationship I’ve ever had. Sad, but true. He’s certainly ruined my chances at a relationship with an actual human being.
No one wants to wake up to a surprise metal orb at the foot of the bed (I should know). And no one wants to go home with the guy who does. So, for that last eight years it’s just been me and Dave.
We’re pretty happy together.
One morning I awake to a gentle nudging by my knees. It’s Dave. At first I’m overjoyed that my strange spherical companion has returned, and then I’m puzzled; in eight years he’s never moved from his position at the foot of the bed, let alone touched me. Something’s wrong.
I’d long ago gotten into the habit of talking to Dave as I went about my business. He’s never replied, but it’s comforting to acknowledge his presence.
“What’s wrong?” I ask gently. “What’s the matter.”
“Trouble, John,” says Dave. I nearly fall out of bed in shock. “Need help.”
As he spoke a thin sliver of blue lit up on his surface, just below what you might call the equator. It almost looked like a mouth.
“You can talk?” I splutter before realising how inane that sounded. Point one to me. This is why I need several cups of tea before I talk to anyone.
“Yes,” Dave says simply, his voice electronic and obviously synthetic. “Need help John. Come with.”
My brain isn’t nearly awake enough to process all the questions that explode in my mind like fireworks. I manage to pull one from the maelstrom at random and ask it: “where?”
“Home,” says Dave as though that answered the question.
“Where the hell is home?”
Dave rattles off a string of digits that sound like they could be coordinated. Since he doesn’t reply with something simple like “Belgium” I assume these coordinates are off planet.
“So you are an alien,” I say, more to myself than anything else.
The nudging gets more insistent. Dave looks heavy enough to break my kneecap so I drag my carcass out from under the covers. It all feels very surreal and dreamlike.
“Now what,” I ask, stifling a yawn once I’m properly upright.
“Hold on,” he says, and a red patch in the shape of a hand print lights up on his surface. It’s pretty neat.
As I place my hand on Dave’s surface everything lurches upwards; I feel like I’m on a roller-coaster and I’m glad I haven’t had anything to eat yet. As it is, last night’s curry is liable to make a reappearance.
When the g-force settles down I am very definitely not in my bedroom any more. I’m in what appears to be a hangar bay surrounded by advanced technology I don’t recognise and people that look like Star Trek extras. At least now I know where Dave is when he’s not in my bedroom.
It’s all a little too much to deal with before I’ve had any toast.
“Okay Dave, explanation time. The fuck is going on?”
“Need help. Was sent to recruit suitable candidate: you. Come John. This way.”
He floats off, skirting between a blue dustbin person and a strange mass of glowing tentacles. I follow, giving them as wide a berth as possible. Dave leads me to some sort of control room and introduces me to his boss, a humanoid with a purple face and a name I can’t comprehend.
“Forgive this unit’s limitations,” says Purple. At least he seems to speak English. “It is only meant for observation and pick-up. It’s not equipped for extensive conversation.”
I feel offended on Dave’s behalf. “I like him just fine.” Purple gives me a thin-lipped smile I assume is disapproval. “Now, what has Dave been doing in my bedroom for eight years and what am I doing here?”
I get the full marketing speech about some intergalactic confederation that’s in a massive war with an alien neighbour and they’re running out of pilots; they’ve been recruiting from Earth for a few years now even though we’re not really advanced enough to join the club. Dave’s job was to check I was a suitable candidate.
It all sounds a bit Last Starfighter.
“Why me?” I ask when Purple paused to inflate the bulbous pocket on his forehead. “I mean, I’m from Croyden.”
Purple shrugs. “You spend a lot of time playing those veedeeoo-games you humans are so fond of. Perfect training.”
I consider my options; maybe dying in someone else’s war sounds pretty good when you get to fly a goddamn spaceship. Certainly better than banging my head against that presentation I’m supposed to do today. It’s a no-brainer.
“Okay, I’m in. One question: do I get to keep Dave?”
“Yeah. He’s kind of become my best friend.” Dave beeps in what I think is joy.
Purple sighs in a very put upon manner. “Fine. You may keep the drone.”
Dave beeps again and I grin.
“Great. Now where do I sign?”