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September 18, 2023


By Frederick Foote

Vector I - The Redhead with Freckles

After four years in the Air Force, it's good to be back in my little corner of the world. In my absence, there have been a lot of changes. Gentrification is encroaching on the east side of what was once a primarily black, low-income neighborhood. There's now a fast-growing population of Southeast Asians. There were no Southeast Asians here when I left.

Many of my friends have scattered to other cities or towns or moved to distant suburbs with affordable housing. Some of my friends have bit the dust a few at the hands of others in our little community, a few by natural causes, and a few by police occupation forces.

All in all, it is good to be back home on a balmy Saturday morning heading into Southside Park for a free concert. I love the free concert idea, even if it is a ghetto pacification program. Better that than the blue line, 9mm repression, that's for sure.

The headliner for our free event is Buddy Guy. These days the audience is different for the blues. Now, I find most of the attendees are hipster young whites, middle-age whites, and very few blacks. I can see that changing audience developing as groups and individuals flow into the park.

I guess everything changes.

As I move toward the bandstand, I catch a glimpse of a blazing, bobbing fire off to my right. I turn and see an amazing woman with a ball of twisted red curly hair reflecting the sun in a thousand different directions. She's strutting through the park like she's the Queen of Africa. I take a course to intercept this dazzling delight. I catch up to her, slightly out of breath, not from the exertion of my walking pace, but from my proximity to her.

"Hey, you. Whatever you do to your do, never undo it."

She spins to a stop and faces me. She's brown with millions of freckles and huge gray eyes, plump lips and a broad nose. Her smile's as bright and warm as Easter Sunday.

"Thank you, your words are like honey in my mouth and music in my ears."

"Hey, I have a thousand ways to praise the sunshine splendor that is you --"

"Hold on, brother, I like the way you do what you do but what are you trying to do?"

"Okay, okay I'm not trying to lay a line or run a game on you. My name is Hezekiah Hawkins. I have been away for a while and meeting you on this perfect day, in this wonderful way makes my heart sing and --"

She laughs loud and clear like joyous bells.

"Hezekiah, are you a poet and don't know it? My name is Cinnamon Dubois, and I'm most glad to make your acquaintance."

She holds out her long freckle-fingered hand for me to shake. When our bare flesh connects, there's a surge of energy like an electrical shock. It stuns us there with our smiles and handshake locked in place. I recover first. "Wow! What was that?"

She shakes her head in confusion. She finally pulls her hand free and looks up at me with the strangest expression. "Hezekiah, if you are free, would you accompany me to see the show?" And off we go arm in arm.

* * *

We talk. We dance. We laugh -- a lot. We drink a beer or two. We flirt.

After the show, I walk her to her apartment three blocks away. We walk and kiss and touch and feel like we have been lovers for one hundred years.

In her apartment, there's no awkwardness or self-consciousness or any sense of holding back. It's the best, most intense, most relaxed and most satisfying lovemaking I have ever had.

And for the next three weeks, we're delightfully inseparable.

* * *

"Hezekiah, Hezekiah, this has been the most enjoyable interlude, however, I have many miles to go before I rest."

We're nude in her bed, on our backs holding hands, looking up at the ceiling.

I turn to face her as she turns to face me.

"Ms. Dubois, are you saying goodbye?"

She smiles her deep and mysterious smile. "Hezekiah, you have no idea of who or what I am."

"Cinnamon, you're scintillating, exciting, satisfying, breathtaking, awe-inspiring."

She smiles and giggles, happy as a child.

"Thank you, Mr. Hawkins." She leans over and whispers in my ear. "I'm also an agent of change. I may be an advance guard for an interstellar invasion or a brood mare for new species of being. I know I'm a kind of a Johnny Appleseed. I know that much."

A chill runs down my spine and spreads to my hands and toes. I know that she's deadly serious. She moves back to face me. I look into her stone, cold, gray eyes.

My sole response is, "What?"

She faces me nose to nose. "I'm contagious, infectious, viral. The purpose of my life's to spread my parasite. It's what I exist to do."

As usual, I'm most articulate when under stress. "What?"

She turns on her back again and brings her hand up over my face. "You said you liked my freckles. You have spent a lot of time touching and kissing the freckles all over my body. Now pick a freckle on my hand, any individual freckle, and touch it."

My mouth is dry. I have trouble swallowing and focusing on her hand. She leans over and kisses my lips.

"Come on now. This is harmless. You need to see this to understand it. Okay?"

I focus on a single freckle just below the knuckle on her index finger. I gently touch the dot.

She whispers to me, "Watch, watch very carefully."

I watch and at first I don't notice the movement, but after a few seconds, I can see the freckle gradually moving down her knuckle. Little by little it advances and starts to make a move to the right. I grab her hand, bring it closer to see better.

"Shit! What the fuck?" The freckle jumps back to its former position.

"Now, watch them all."

The mass of freckles on her hand start to pull apart and display each individual spot. I drop her hand like it was on fire. I leap out of the bed. I'm staring at her with my mouth open. I instinctively cross myself.

"Dubois, what the fuck are you?"

She sits up on the bed, faces me and admires the movement of her freckles across the back of her hand, onto the palm of her hand and out to her fingers. She looks up at me. "I have no idea. I know what I was. I was just like you. However, I have no idea what I'm becoming. My only desire's to spread these freckles to as many of you as I can. Intercourse's the most efficient way of spreading --"

"Jesus Christ! You, you contaminated me. Did it on purpose. Johnny Appleseed my ass. You're fucking Typhoid Mary."

"Hezekiah, I don't know why I do it. You were effectively colonized, that's what I call it, after our first time that first night. I stayed with you because you made me happy. I enjoyed being with you, and I think my freckles did too."

"Shit! Fuck you! Fuck you! I thought we had something. I thought we were something special. We were special!"

She motions me toward the bed. I take a step away from her.

"Hezekiah, listen, this is very important. If you go to a doctor or seek medical help, they will lock you away and experiment on you. You will die in captivity in a sealed room. Hezekiah, they will disappear you and destroy you."

"Cinnamon, did you ever care for me at all?"

"Hezekiah, you need to listen to me very carefully. The freckles will not hurt you. I don't see any harm that they have done to me. In fact, I have not been sick since I became colonized. When I look back on my life, I cannot find a time when I was ever happier than I am now."

"Fuck you, bitch; I'll turn your ass in. I'll turn you in to the blue meanies, Homeland Security, or NSA or some alphabet soup shit like that."

She stands and starts to dress.

"Please don't do that. It'll expose you, and that would be extremely unwise. It would leave us both quarantined and tortured to death. You need a little time to think about it." She crosses to me. She takes my face in her hands. "I have enjoyed us immensely, and you will adore others to the same degree." She starts to kiss my lips, but I push her back and jump away.

She gives me one last luminous smile as she closes the door.

* * *

I sit there in her room for a long time. I sit at her window and watch the sunrise.

I hold my hand up to the bright light of day, and I see freckles around the knuckles of my right hand. I see more freckles down the back of my hand flowing up toward my wrist. I don't feel anything. I don't feel any different.

I know I'm not going to turn her in. And, I know I'll keep my condition a secret, at least for now.

I have been away for four years, and I come back to this. These weeks of extraordinary bliss and this equally remarkable contamination or damnation or salvation. I don't know if this infection is a blessing or a curse. At this moment I do not feel the urge to infect others. I feel fine.

I do feel famished and, and somehow hopeful.

I use the bathroom and brush my teeth. I look in the mirror and see a few freckles scattering across my face.

I wonder about Cinnamon. I miss her already. I go downstairs, across the street to the Happy Café. I order the Working Man's breakfast.

I flirt with the cute Southeast Asian waitress. I wonder what time she gets off from work.

Vector II - The Thin Blonde

God, I miss that Hezekiah creature already. His head's so full of color, light, and laughter. I giggle just remembering his poetry, his tongue exploring and enjoying me and the taste of his sweat and semen ... But three weeks in one place is a long time and as we work out the rules of my new life, keeping on the move's imperative.

So is changing my appearances. In my other, across town hotel room, I shave my head bald. I would love to package these scarlet tresses and send them to Hezekiah. And it would please me greatly if I could be there to see his smile and enjoy his word images.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and work my phone until I find a picture of a long-faced blonde woman with a thin nose, narrow lips and a sharp chin. I concentrate on her sky blue eyes. I close my eyes and focus on the look I want, including the hair color and style.

I turn away from the mirror. I don't like my transition faces. I crawl into bed and dream of Hezekiah and Lily the ones that I have spent the most time with. I have such sweet dreams.

* * *

I'm not sure if I'm really happy at all. I know I feel happy, even exuberant and full of good will, but that could just be the freckles pumping up my serotonin levels. I was never this happy for this long before, before they colonized me. I think maybe I'm not at ease with all this happiness.

I saw the anger, fear and self-loathing in Hezekiah and the sense of shame and despair that Lily tried so bravely to contend with. They both struggle so hard. Do I struggle like that? Did I struggle like that?

I don't know. That scares me, not knowing what I am. Not knowing where I'm going or why. When I'm asleep, I can think and question and feel -- is my sleep my reality -- I have to fight off the dreams, the narcotic. I have to think. I --

* * *

An alarm from the freckles. I have to leave. I have to get out now. I dress in a different outfit, don a blonde wig, grab my purse and the bag of red hair.

I take the elevator up. The human hounds are downstairs in the lobby and in the elevator. I get off on the top floor, find the service elevator. I wait. The elevator opens. A Spanish-speaking maid steps out. I tell her in Spanish that I have to dispose of some personal things. She laughs and tells me to get off in the basement.

How did they track me here? This is too close. Three months ago in Billings, Montana, fifty or more tried to trap me, capture me, and here they are again. I toss the hair in the pile of trash going into the incinerator.

I walk out with several service workers. I look back as a white van blocks the service exit and police cars roll in to assist in the blockade.

I need to get out of this area, away from the hotel, and out of the city.

Did they find Hezekiah or Lily or Wu or Ryan ... I'm nearly two blocks away when the police car pulls over next to me.

I take the initiative. I approach the passenger side window as the overweight, white male officer rolls down the window. "Officer, I'm not working the hotel strip anymore. I promise."

"Look, that's not --"

"Honest, man, give me a break. Can we work this out? Please?"

I lick my lips and expose as much cleavage as I can.

The cop smirks and sucks his teeth -- a disgusting sound. "Get in. Are you new to the strip? Who're you working for?"

"Officer, we can do it in the car or at my place over on Second and --"

The cop sneers at me. "You working for that low-life fucking Hector. That fucker owes me. I told him about sneaking in new girls."

"I don't know nothing about that shit. Hector told me --"

"Shut your fucking mouth. You're going to be my message back to Hector."

The cop calls in some kind of off-duty code and drives for about ten minutes to an alley in a warehouse district. He parks between two huge green dumpsters.

"Get out. Get in the back. Hurry up. I ain't got all fucking day."

Instead of getting out I reach over and grab his throat with my right hand. He struggles to pull my hand away, thrashes, lashes out at my face and grows red and sweaty. It's over in minutes.

I unbutton and remove his shirt. I toss his shirt, hat, and wallet into the front seat of the car.

I carry his two-hundred-pound-plus body to the dumpster, open the dumpster and toss his body in.

Back in the police car, I pop open the overhead light fixture, find the GPS tracking unit, and pull it loose from the two connecting wires. I pop the fixture back in place.

I put on the cop's shirt. I drive slowly out of the alley looking for the nearest fast food drive-in.

I find a Burger King's and order five Whoppers, five fries, and five milkshakes. I pay with the dead man's money.

I drive to West Sacramento, and find a road that dead ends at the Sacramento River levee. It takes me thirty minutes to consume every drop of the food.

I leave the car and walk three miles or so to a third rate motel and check in. I find a round-faced Tongan woman's picture on my phone. I concentrate on that face for as long as I can before I collapse on the bed and rush toward sweet dreams.

* * *

No, no dreams. No time to dream. No dreams. I killed one of them. I don't want to kill them. I don't want to kill. You must know that. I, I am not, never was a killer. You know that. Stop the killing!

How do they find us? The phone? We change phones every couple of days.

I'm not happy. You can't make me happy. Leave me alone.

I see the cop's distorted face, I hear his death sounds, smell his shit -- I want the dreams now, sweet Hezekiah, kind Lily.

I don't want to ... to ... I want ...

* * *

Reno is a ghost town, but the desert is welcoming and indifferent. I love the arid, endless sweep of it.

The Johns are mostly lonely, some desperate, a few cruel and just one that lives beyond cruelty. I try to do as many as I can each day. On my best day, I do twenty-four.

Four days here and I'm on the train to Chicago or someplace in between Reno and Chicago. I no longer have a phone. If I need a phone, I borrow or steal one.

What I like about this work is the quick change in customers all with the same stories. I try to connect with them for just a second or two if I can. That works too well, they become regulars. I don't need regulars. I need new hosts.

On the train, I use my sleeping quarters efficiently and effectively. I meet a sixty-three-year-old Russian woman, Olga. We connect. We connect every night until I leave the train in Chicago.

* * *

In my dream, I introduce Olga to Hezekiah and Lily. It is love at first sight.

I kill now when necessary or when I think it is necessary. I kill the ones that won't fit, won't adapt. I know them. I seek them out.

We have compromised, the freckles leave my hormones alone. No more manipulation. It is a hollow victory. I have changed so much. I don't even remember me that well.

The humans have found some of us, detained us, defiled us, and destroyed us. It's too late. In every stop, in every town I see us. We are always about our business quietly, efficiently, effectively.

And there's a promise or something like an understanding that soon I can be with Hezekiah, Lily, Olga, and Tan and my other favorites.

But we all know that will never happen. They, no, we, were human when we met. That was our charm and attraction, special humans -- special to me, to each other.

They only exist in my dreams now, and my dreams are dissipating like weak morning fog. I'm becoming so distant from what I was. I wonder if I will miss me at all. Now, I no longer know if I'm dreaming or awake anymore. I think this is near the end for me.

Vector III - The Homo Sapiens

The bloodletting is mostly over. The organized humans weren't able to mount much of a defense or offense. By the time they realized the severity of their circumstances it was too late. They did make valiant efforts to develop a vaccination against us or "cures" that would eliminate us. They spent much of their last organized days trying to develop a test that would readily identify us. They may have succeeded at these functions. However, panic took over and 10 to 12 million died in this nation alone, as a result of the human's attempts to eliminate us or those that they thought might be us or those that they thought might befriend us.

We did not mount a retaliation. When we came into contact with humans, we used their natural sexual urges to spread us. In the end they could not kill as many as we could change.

Over the next decade or so half of the remaining population of humans will perish. As will many of us. This is a period of rapid readjustment. It is our attempt to find a scale and measure of life that brings sufficient food, shelter, pleasure, and association to all life. Soon six billion will become four, three, two and finally less than 1 billion. It is our way of living as our kind of creatures must. Living in a common community and providing services and support as one. That was our thought. That is our goal.

However, things are not as they should be. There is a drifting uncertainty, an ill wind that molests our thoughts. We bring much to the humans, but they have contaminated us in an unprecedented fashion.

We now mutter, squirm, twist and turn and ask questions that make little sense. "What does it all mean?" "What is the meaning of life and community?" "What am I?" "Why do I exist?" "Who am I?" These questions are unreasonable and unanswerable. We are shaken and unable or unwilling to put these nonsensical speculations aside.

Life is to be lived, felt, and released. There is nothing more.

We are unsettled to the core of our being. We will not reach an equilibrium or consensus or find a way forward in this dilemma. The human part of us will not accept that there is no God. Our Sapien content does not accept that life is to be lived on the best terms available without justification, meaning, or purpose. We are no longer a whole. We lack unity. We shall drift and dissipate until we cease to exist.

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2016-09-12
Image(s) are public domain.
2 Reader Comments
02:46:19 PM
Is that why I have freckles? Enjoyed this dark tale!
Frederick Foote
04:12:41 PM
Thanks, Lydia, and lucky for you that all freckles are not created equal.
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