Hollow Moon Part 15
- Hollow Moon Part 1
- Hollow Moon Part 2
- Hollow Moon Part 3
- Hollow Moon Part 4
- Hollow Moon Part 5
- Hollow Moon Part 6
- Hollow Moon Part 7
- Hollow Moon Part 8
- Hollow Moon Part 9
- Hollow Moon Part 10
- Hollow Moon Part 11
- Hollow Moon Part 12
- Hollow Moon Part 13
- Hollow Moon Part 14
- Hollow Moon Part 15
- Hollow Moon Part 16
- Hollow Moon Part 17
- Hollow Moon Part 18
- Hollow Moon Part 19
- Hollow Moon Part 20
- Hollow Moon Part 21
- Hollow Moon Part 22
- Hollow Moon Part 23
- Hollow Moon Part 24
- Hollow Moon Part 25
- Hollow Moon Part 26
- Hollow Moon Part 27
- Hollow Moon Part 28
- Hollow Moon Part 29
- Hollow Moon Part 30
- Hollow Moon Part 31
- Hollow Moon Part 32
- Hollow Moon Part 33
- Hollow Moon Part 34
- Hollow Moon Part 35
When Esk began to drift off to sleep that night, he heard Sam speaking in low tones. He was in the kitchen. Esk was not aware that they had company, and he snuck over to peek around the wall. Who could be there at that hour?
“An’ Lawd, I pray that Ya’ would heal Esk a’ that green goo he’s been throwin’ up. I dunno what it is, but I don’t want my buddy ta’ die on me. He’s a good fella an’ I’m glad Ya’ brought ‘im inta’ my life, Lawd. He’s my good friend. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen,” Sam said.
After Sam was finished speaking, he continued to sit at the table with his hands folded in front of him, seeming to be deep in thought with his head bowed. Esk’s eyes scoured the room for other entities or individuals that Sam might be talking to but found none. I wonder if we have an undercover agent named Lod working this mission? Perhaps the Council will tell me. I will ask them at next report. Esk tip-toed back to his recliner. Sam was soon in his own recliner sawing logs. Esk could not sleep. He could not wait and translated himself to the moon.
“Esk, it is not yet time for your next official report. What matter do you bring before the collective consciousness?”
“Council, I respectfully wish to address you concerning a potential confound in my experiments.”
“Oh? Is the mission compromised?” asked a worried Council.
“No, Council. The mission has not been compromised. I do, however, have a question.”
“Ask and we will answer.”
“Is there an undercover agent working this mission with me? One named ‘Lod’, by chance?”
Much murmuring exploded between wavelengths of the Council’s synapses and Esk could not decode the signals. They were encrypted. Only the highest-clearance visitors were allowed to decrypt that kind of communication from the Council.
“Esk, you are loyal to the Eskerektul Council. You have been honest, trustworthy, and found to have the highest level of integrity. The Council hereby grants you Supreme Clearance Status. Ingest this organism. It will open your mind to the Council’s most secret communications and allow you to understand.”
A small blue dried-up mushroom appeared on the chamber floor at Esk’s feet. He picked it up and placed it in his oral cavity, making the mistake of chewing it. He coughed and sputtered and spat at the bitterness of the chemical menagerie but managed to swallow it. Esk could not maintain his armor. He felt woozy and sick—almost groggy.
“The effects will pass soon,” the Council assured him, “but you should rest for a while in the nucleotide bath.”
Esk slithered past the glucose puddles of the chamber and flopped into the nucleotide pool, sinking to the bottom. His DNA completely rebuilt itself over the course of a few hours and the ability to decrypt the Council’s every thought was encoded within his new DNA. Esk would now always know the collective consciousness’ deepest thoughts whether he wanted to or not. The Council would know his, too.
Lod. Who was Lod? Esk would find out. In the meantime, Esk made it back to his recliner before same woke up the next morning. Sam cooked Esk dippin’ eggs and toast, which Esk fully appreciated after a night of getting his DNA rearranged. Esk’s shoulders were hunched and his head hung down as he shuffled into the food preparation area and took a seat.
“Ya’ feelin’ okay, Esk? Ya’ look ter’ble, buddy. Didn’t ‘cha sleep last night?” asked Sam.
“No, Sam, I did not sleep last night.”
“Somethin’ botherin’ ya’?”
“Many things bother me, Sam—things that I fear asking about.”
“Well, ya’ can always ask me. I don’t bite and I won’t make fun a’ ya’ fer askin’. Ask away.”
Sam sat down at the table and rubbed a piece of sourdough toast in the yolk of his dippin’ egg until it was soggy. He waited for Esk to speak, maintaining eye contact with him. Esk dug into his own dippin’ eggs and finally decided to ask a question. Assumptions just would not do any longer and Sam was ready to answer any question he was able to. This was Esk’s chance.
“Sam, who is Lod?”
“Lod. Who is he? I heard you speaking with him last night.”
“I guess I dunno any ‘Lod’, and we didn’t have anybody over last night. What kind of a name’s ‘Lod’, anyway? That short fer somethin’?” Sam half thought to himself as he spoke.
Esk was crushed. Did his best friend on Earth just lie to him outright about knowing Lod? Did Sam not understand who he was talking about? Maybe that was the problem.
“Sam, are you certain that you do not know Lod? His name is spelled L-O-D.”
“Nope, never heard a’ no L-O-D. Sounds military ta’ me. Your L-O-D might live off-the-grid. Sounds like it since ya’ don’t know who he is, really.”
“Off-the-grid,” Esk repeated, “what does that mean?”
“No contact with the outside world. Prob’ly livin’ on animals he’s killed hisself an’ cookin’ ‘em over one a’ those in-the-ground fire pits that ‘cha can’t see from the air. Eatin’ berries if he can find’em and got a makeshift shelter set up somewhere. Solar power, an’ no ‘lectronics or G-P-S—no nothin’ that anybody’d be able to find ‘im with. Traps set up all over. Could be mentally ill, ya’ know—crazy an’ suspicious an’ off his meds. Yeah, that sounds like somebody who’d be named L-O-D.”
If Lod did live the way Sam had just described, he might be hard to find, reasoned Esk. Where on Earth would one look for an undercover extra-terrestrial? Does Lod have the same directive as I do—the same mission? If I was undercover, I would hide…where, and as who? Not Sam, surely. Hmm…
“You okay, Esk? Yer dippin’ eggs ‘er gettin’ cold.”
“Ah, yes. Everything is fine. I was just thinking.”
“Of another question ya’ wanted ta’ ask?”
“Yes. Where do they keep Jesus Christ?”
“Who?” Sam asked with surprise.
“The Reverend and the Gossips. Where do they keep the poor creature Jesus Christ, on whom they feast?”
“Well, in their hearts, Esk. Where else would they keep ‘im?” came the reply.
Esk stopped chewing and gawked at Sam across the table. Egg yolk dribbled down his chin. The shock was too much. Esk threw his chair back and dashed to the bathroom, slamming the door. From there, he translated himself immediately to the Council’s chambers.
Now that Esk had Supreme Clearance Status (SCS) and was permanently linked to the collective consciousness, the Council already knew why Esk was in their midst. This was very ominous indeed. The Reverend and the Gossips had evidently cut up the poor creature and divided him up amongst themselves so that they could each feast individually. How did they store Jesus Christ in their hearts, though? That was anatomically, as far as Esk and the Council knew, impossible…unless these beings were not entirely human. The Bandersnatches and the Deacon Pritchard had seemed to be anatomically sound as Homo sapiens sapiens, though.
Perhaps Esk had missed something. The clones may have missed something. Someone missed something, it was clear. But what? The Council wanted this further investigated directly. If they were dealing with a different species, they must know. Intergalactic wars started over things much more minor than this.
Esk was baffled. Who is this Lod? An undercover extra-terrestrial…now how would I hide if I was undercover? The best way would be in plain sight. Esk pondered the question and then it came to him. Severius! How did he not notice that Dr. Severius was an extra-terrestrial? In one sense, this new twist to his mission thrilled Esk. On the other hand, it petrified him. Esk did not know what to expect. Was Lod there to sabotage Esk’s mission? He could be friend or foe. Worst of all, Lod could be dangerous…
Esk translated himself back to Sam’s bathroom and finally unlocked the door. Sam had been pounding on it since Esk scurried in there. As Esk emerged, he noticed Sam was weeping.
“What is the matter, Sam?”
“Aw, Esk, I just wish ya’ weren’t so unhappy. I think yer sick and ya’ need ta’ go to the doctor. I know ya’ don’t like the idea a’ bein’ examined, but ya’ really need ta’ go an’ find out what’s a’ matter. I think you’d feel better if ya’ did.”
Sam was genuinely concerned for Esk’s well-being—that much was clear. Esk was not about to submit to a battery of tests designed for humans, though, lest he be found out and the entire mission upended. Esk had an idea.
“Sam, I will go to a doctor. I must go alone, though, and I will return. I know a doctor that can help me. He knows how to examine me properly,” Esk told Sam.
“Will ya’ at least bring the paperwork back so I know ya’ actu’ly went to the doctor?”
“Sam, do you not trust me?”
“I’m just afraid, Esk. I don’t wanna lose ya’. Yer my best friend an’ I’m afraid yer really sick. Yackin’ up them green stringy goo balls all the time an’ that. That’s not normal. That’s like, can-cer or an ulcer or somethin’.”
Esk considered Sam’s request and found it to be reasonable. He assured Sam that he would bring his lab results back with him to prove to Sam that he saw a medical officer. He just did not say what kind of medical officer he was going to see.
Esk prepared to go to the doctor. Per protocol, once he was out of sight, he translated himself to the moon. There, he visited a good friend of his—the Council’s medical officer—who phonied up some paperwork that looked like human blood test results, all marked within the normal ranges. The medical officer did, however, find that Esk had recently picked up a parasite on Earth. Esk named it Eosin and was quite pleased to have acquired a pet. He made sure that he stayed away long enough to lead Sam to think that he was receiving a thorough examination. As Esk understood it, lab results took a lot of time. He then translated himself back to the cabin and walked in the door.
“Well, how’d it go, buddy?” Sam asked with guarded anticipation.
“I have a parasite, Sam.”
“So it’s not can-cer or an ulcer or anything bad like that? Yer not dyin’?”
“No, I am not dying.”
“We gotta celebrate!”
Esk felt Eosin turn in his stomach. Celebration…did that involve beer again?
Image by Chouaib Saoud via Pixabay