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“There was a dead body on Sandie’s back porch, and it was trying to get in.”
But this is no zombie; something stranger is hiding inside the rotting shell. What do you do when you meet an injured alien spirit that feeds on emotion and can play human feelings like a violin? Name it John Doe, give it a guitar, and move heaven and earth to help it get home, if Sandie has her way. She didn’t realize that babysitting an alien could result in such a weird collision of music, emotion, and faith.
And Sandie must tread with care, because this thing has the power to manipulate minds, and even the creature itself doesn’t know what will happen when it finally heals.
The Siren – John Doe
An enigma, quasi-human, bereft of emotion, but with a peculiar talent for inspiring it in others. He has no real sex, but the name assigned to him came with a masculine identity. His true form is suspected to be noncorporeal, and he prefers tonal communication – music. His “communication,” however, can have a startling effect on those who hear it.
Sandie works as a barista at a locally-owned coffee shop in San Antonio, Texas, and occasionally submits poetry and short prose to small magazines – a meager living, at best. She looks after her parents’ home while they’re away on juvenile global adventures, and she is totally unprepared for babysitting a musical sentiovore. Fortunately, she has a few special talents of her own, hidden up her sleeve.
Michael Malecki is a first-generation Polish American. He was captain of his high school football team and wanted to be a coach. He decided to go into the priesthood, however, partly because athletics did not give him the fulfillment he needed, and partly to prove that “people like him” weren’t doomed to forever be has-been jocks. He considers himself open-minded, but musical metahumans test even the strongest of constitutions.
There was a dead body on Sandie’s back porch, and it was trying to get in.
She wrung the coffee out of the front of her shirt, made damn sure that all of her doors and windows were locked, and called Mike.
“Yeah? Sandie? That you?”
“You don’t know anything about this, do you?”
“Mike, there’s a zombie on my back porch. It’s leaving smears on the glass door. Is it yours?”
“I… Could you repeat that?”
“Zombie, Mike. It’s a dead body in a puddle of nasty, and it’s leaving more nasty on my door. God, I can even smell it. This is one thorough job, man.”
She edged away from the door, keeping an eye on the intruder beyond the glass. It was bloated and purple with decay, green and black fungus speckling its face. There was fluid coming out of its mouth and dripping from its nose. It had no eyes, and all indication of sex or age had rotted away.
“Robotic, maybe? One of its legs is about to fall off. You didn’t sic one of your Cyber Derby friends on me, did you?”
There was a long moment of silence on the other end, then the sound of a slamming door and an engine revving.
“I don’t know anything about it. But hey, are you going to be at home for a while? Can I come see it?”
“I sure as hell am not going out the back door. If it smells that bad inside… I’ll put another pot of coffee on for you, okay? Come through the garage when you get here. Bring a shotgun or something just in case.”
Sandie hung up and stuck her phone into the back pocket of her jeans, moving into the kitchen to refresh her cup. She went upstairs to change shirts, threw the stained one into the laundry, and washed her hands in the bathroom. The thumping and scratching from the back door was audible throughout the house, and it did not stop. She wondered whether she should be scared, but it all felt too much like a low-budget horror flick to be real.
A careful peek out of the hall revealed that the unwelcome guest was beginning to flag. The thumps were a bit further apart than they had been at first. Sandie cupped her hand over her nose and approached the door, with the reasoning that if it was going to get in, it would have gotten in already. The stink was nauseating.
“So,” she said around her hand. “Are you here for my brains or what?”
The body clawed at the glass.
“You want a cup of coffee? Kudos on the makeup job, by the way, or whatever that is. It looks pro. Is that pig blood or something? You know you’re going to be scrubbing my porch down later, right?”
The body hummed. It smacked a defleshed hand against the door, and the view distorted as the glass rippled with powerful bass vibrations.
Sandie fell back on her ass with a yelp, ruining another shirt with coffee.
“What the hell was that?” she demanded as the vibrations slowed and died. She picked herself up and crouched in front of the glass, staring into the creature’s empty eye sockets. She received the unnerving impression that it was staring back. A dribble of black spilled from its mouth and splattered on the cement outside. There was half a grasshopper in it.
“Oh,” Sandie said. “You’re real, aren’t you? Oh, God, you’re real.” That panic started to well up, along with the bagel she had eaten for breakfast. “Oh, God, oh my God.”
She reached back and pulled the phone from her pocket, hit redial as fast as she could. Mike’s phone began to ring. The body outside stared through the glass, its swollen tongue hanging down to its chin. It slumped sideways, pressing its shoulder against the glass.
Sandie gasped into the receiver, and there was a click.
“Sandie? You okay?”
“Right. No. Cops. Hurry.”
She hung up and punched in 9-1-1.
The body hummed. It resonated, a clear, bell-like tone. Dust sifted down from the ceiling. The glass warped and undulated like a sheet of water, then burst inward with a pop. Sparkling fragments rained down amid a shockwave of sound.
The phone beeped, sparked and died, and Sandie was on her knees, feeling oddly mellow in the moments before she passed out.
The Siren © 2011 MR Graham