I don’t know if you’ve talked to my aunt or even if she was abducted by you Yanks, but Antigen was in the Chimera War. I don’t remember her from before the war, not really, but mom says she didn’t used to be such a beeyotch. She says Antigen is disturbed by PTSD and other acceptable mental problems brought on from being a drone soldier, but Antigen’s been mean since the day we went and got her from Fayetteville. Off and on they sent her to a hospital where she was supposed to get better, but it never really helped.
Once, she had to stay with me and my family when Gramma got a hip replacement and Grampa didn’t have the chops anymore to take care of both her needs and Antigen’s. So Antigen sat on our couch in the den all day with the lights off. She closed the blinds and pulled the curtains, then taped scads of aluminum foil around the edges. If I’d done that, Mom would’ve whooped my butt for putting tape directly on the walls!
I didn’t know if mom wanted me to say hi to Antigen or not. It was always a risk to do too much or too little. After I got home from practice, I peeked into her room and knocked on the wall where I’d entered. “Antigen?” I asked.
Her eyes opened, the whites visible in the darkness whereas her face was not. That scared me, you know, since we’re white – our faces are easy to see in mild darkness. What had she done? Anyway, I was weak, so I screamed and jumped back.
“You scared?” Antigen asked. I saw the shadows in her room change, and she jumped up from where she sat. “Why should you be scared? I know your secrets. They don’t believe me, but I know what you’re hiding.”
“What?” I asked. My voice wavered more than I wish it would’ve.
Antigen crawled on all fours across the couch and peered over the arm. “I saw you with her yesterday. Your friend. The doctors won’t believe me, but what do they know? They think I’m crazy. But you know I’m not crazy, don’t you?”
“Are you talking about Dani?”
“The spider,” Antigen said. “The Chimera we created. You know it’s real? Right? Right? I’ve seen you with her. You can tell me the truth.”
The air in the room smelled weird, so I pulled away from the door. “You’re scaring me, Antigen. Are you ok?”
“I’ve never been so alive,” Antigen said. “I know what we need to do. I need your help, kid – the war isn’t over, you see? It’s just a trick. It’s just a trick, and the damn Gooks are out there, infiltrating us. We’ve got to kill her, see.”
I shook my head. “No, you’re in America. America! The war is over!”
Antigen leapt from the couch and grabbed me by the collar. “The war is never over! Don’t you see what they’re doing?! The fiendish Dr. Kim has got to you, has she?!” She shoved me into the far wall in the hallway where light from the door shone on her face. Dried blood cracked from her face, her pupils were different sizes.
“I don’t know a Dr. Kim! Stop, Auntie! Please, stop! You’re high or something!”
“I’m the only one who understands, kid. There’s a Chimera out there, and we’ve got to kill it. Kill it before it can kill us all.” She pulled a shiv made from a sharpened toothbrush out from a pocket. “You know what you have to do.”
I shook my head. “Dani’s my friend.”
“It has to end.” She shoved the toothbrush into my hand, releasing my collar where a smattering of blood – both of the wet and dry variety – stained it. “Take it. You’re the only one who can stop this.”
I nodded and grabbed the toothbrush tight. “Ok, Auntie. I’ve got the…thing. Is that all you want?”
“Bring me her head when you’re done. Damn Gooks.” Antigen stood up, breathing beleaguredly. She stumbled back to the living room and the couch where she lay down on it.
With her gone, I was able to tell that my heart was beating a million miles an hour. I took the toothbrush – also bloody all around the handle, carved with God knows what to a pointed end – and fuhhh, er freaking ran out the front door. I called Mom, not knowing what I should do otherwise, to get help.
Cops came in about 15 minutes, and an ambulance arrived a little later.