“Interesting choice of shows, Martha. Do you like aliens?”
“Dunno, whatofit?” Her voice was raspy, as if she’d smoked a 100 cigarettes a day for her 45 years of life. At least the days she was able to reach her mouth with her hand in a coordinated way, that is, beyond infancy and early childhood. She’d had a rough life, and didn’t expect to live beyond 65 or so. She wasn’t planning on retirement. Her husband Jack was around, but in a wheelchair over at the Asylum. He’d seen things in the dark, heard rumors. So, yeah, she was interested in aliens. She was *studying* them. Must keep deflecting Agent 47 or whatever the f-ck they’re up to down at the station. “Want some pieee?” Pie was code for sexy good times in town. Some of these smart looking ones liked her type. In fact she had a website; must make ends meet *somehow*. Plus she had to have money for her cigarettes. Where were her cigarettes?
The agent was staring unblinkingly at her. She hated when they did that; maybe did something to their eyes in childhood. And she’s heard they need very little sleep. They stay up and read manga most of the night, analyzing it to pieces. Or so she’s heard. “Sooooooo. Taking that for a no?”
“Martha,” he starts firmly. “You know us agents accumulate knowledge on the residents of this town. It’s like coral; my brain is like coral, *our* brain. We are a hive.”
He stared at the tv screen again. He stared a very long time, then: “How many minutes for the information I need?”