"I'm angry," said Mrs. Moon as I asked her to sit down. We were in my office in the police department.
"Would you like coffee or anything?" I asked.
"No," she said. "I'd like to have a smoke."
"There's no smoking in the building Mrs. Moon."
"That's fine," she said, "but you have a window. I'm going to open it, and I'm going to have a smoke."
I didn't want to fight her. She'd just been through a trauma and I needed to get her statement. I got up and opened the window for her. She thanked me then pulled out a joint and lit it up.
"It's medicinal," she barked at me. "I'm sorry. I'm angry. I'm so angry."
I let her take a few drags and made myself unnecessarily busy straightening some of the paper piles on my desk before I started.
"Why don't you tell me how you know the victims."
"I'm their neighbor," she said glaring at me. "I would think that would be obvious."
"Of course. But why don't you--"
"I couldn't believe it when they moved in. Don't interrupt me, because you need to know the whole story. David just got back from his envoy mission. He wanted out, wanted to retire, and his family owned the house next to mine, so that's where they moved. Now I was really uncomfortable with, her, it--I keep thinking of it as a her now but it's not--I thought at first they were just roommates. They were very careful in public and never showed any sort of special affection towards each other, which of course you can't. Maybe in the future people will be different, but there's no way now. You understand. But I did see things, hear things, it happens when you are neighbors, and of course, I was particularly curious because it is strange and unusual for one of them to live among us, and I knew, I knew they were a couple, and that's when I became really uncomfortable."
She rattled off the words then paused and looked out the window, taking another long drag from the joint before dropping the butt out the window and into the bushes below.
"I said don't interrupt." She glared at me again, then adjusted her cardigan more tightly around her shoulders. "I was appalled. It was shocking. I was at a loss for words. What do you even call it when a human and an alien become lovers? How can they be equal? It was like Catherine the Great and her horse. They can't have children together, and how can they possibly be attracted to one another? I think they look hideously ugly and they must think the same of us. They're not even from this planet and don't have quite the same chemistry. It was an abomination. Unnatural. I didn't want to think about what they did together. I teach school children. I can't live next to something like that."
She turned to face me fully and put her hands on my desk. She leaned forward.
"I went over there one day, when I was completely fed up. David answered the door. He was nice. I slapped him. I was so, so, very angry. He didn't do anything to me, he didn't ask me why I did it, he just looked at me sadly because he knew exactly why. I didn't have words for that. I couldn't get anything out. So I slapped him again, and then I went home.
"I thought about what I'd done and felt sick about it. Here I am teaching kids to be kind to each other and to share and all that stuff, and I couldn't do it myself. Sure, I was sickened by their behavior and just the strangeness of it all, but I couldn't figure out how it actually affected me in any way.
"A couple of months later I saw David in the grocery store alone. She--it couldn't come along because the grocery store, and a lot of places won't let them in. They have signs now, have you seen them?"
"Well I saw him and I went up to him and I apologized. I walked away quickly. I sort of didn't believe that I'd done it, and I didn't want to be seen doing it, but it just sort of happened.
"The next day, which was a Saturday, he knocked on my door. I opened it and there he was smiling. And he said 'thank you'. And he had an apple pie with him and he wanted to give it to me. I felt guilty. I'd been shitty to him and all I did was give a crappy apology and he wanted to reward me with a homemade pie. I invited him in and we ate the pie together. I asked him about his mission, because I was curious of course. At the time he'd left he was one of about five hundred people who'd made the trip out of the solar system. And he told me about what it was like on the ship and what it was like to travel been spatial dimensions and how he felt sick most of the way, and then he talked about seeing their planet for the first time."
Mrs. Moon stopped abruptly, swallowed hard, and began to tear up.
"He said...he said it was the most dazzling thing he'd ever seen. They approached in their final landing from the night side. The lights of hundreds of thousands of ships could be seen. The cities were laid out in patterns, and he later found out, he said, that they in every endeavor they incorporated art and mathematics. And he said he knew right then, that we had so much to learn from them, not that we weren't inherently equal to them--and they didn't see us as lower then them, lucky for us--but they were more advanced. I wish I could have seen that. I mean I've seen the photographs and the videos like everyone else, but to be there to see it yourself...well."
She looked out the window again and tapped her fingers on the armrest of the chair.
"So we ate the pie, which was amazing, and I thanked him. Then he said that she--it made it. We've really got to get a more appropriate pronoun for them. It turns out that it wanted to know and do everything that humans experienced. I'm sure they could do everything better than us.
"He left, and I felt a little better, I mean, I felt more comfortable and I wasn't thinking so much about how it was all abnormal and unnatural. Not that my feelings matter so much in the end. David and I smiled in passing a lot, but then one day, after walking home from the school and think about things, I just went up to his house and knocked on the door. I didn't know what I was going to say. It was like my feet just made me go there.
"David answered the door and he looked exhausted. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he'd been getting a lot of phone calls, at all hours. There were threats in the mail--who uses the mail for anything anymore? And a lot of hate email.
"Turns out there was an article written up on a site about immigrants from there, not that there are many, I mean, they're mostly scientists here to share their technology with us. There's still that theory that they're all just a first wave trying to suss us out before a full scale invasion. That's nonsense of course. Why would they want our planet? They've got all their problems solved on theirs.
"Anyway, the journalist wanted to get a balanced view on the matter and found David, I mean he did hold a very high up position on the mission, and so she contacted him and asked him about what it was like living with one of them. He didn't say anything about being a couple, but I guess the way he talked about her--it I mean, it was sort of easy to see though.
"David said he regretted ever giving that interview. He had been careful to be quiet, but of course the conspiracy theories are ridiculous and he wanted to help allay people's thoughts about the matter.
"I did read the article a few days later and I really think it did more to foment the whole problem than reduce it. Best to ignore the crazies right? Anyway that day when I went to his house, that's the day that I met her--er, it. I felt like I was intruding, but they were both welcoming. Nobody really talks to them. It turned out that his family disowned him, except for his sister, but she would only talk to him, not to it.
"They communicate by a sort of sign language, as I'm sure you know, and David was really expert in it. I was impressed. I felt strange speaking to it, but it knew what I was saying. It had to sign back over to David and he would tell me what it said. David was upset but it took it more in stride. I guess it was expected, all the hate, but I stopped feeling embarrassed and guilty for myself specifically and started feeling guilty and embarrassed for our whole civilization.
"We ended up having a nice conversation, and I began thinking of it as a person--of course I'll never get over how they look, but I felt like it was a real being with its own personality, and very intelligent, very polite. I can see why David liked it. Can you imagine how much he actually loved it? He knew the risks and he did it anyway. There's something admirable in that.
"It was the next day that they came. Never in my life had I seen an actual mob before, I mean, one that wasn't on the news. They protested outside his house and I was afraid to leave mine. It happened so quickly when they broke in and dragged them out. They beat her--it first and made him watch. And I ran out of my house and tried to say something, but I got punched in the face and knocked down, as you can see. And David was crying. He was looking at me, reaching for me and crying. He looked like a child. And I couldn't help him. They stripped him down and held him down and castrated him. He was bleeding all over the place. And they beat him some more. And that's how he died.
We were silent for a few minutes. She was crying silently.
"I'm angry about it. I'm angry the police took their time."
She glared at me.
"I can't say I'm sorry," I said.
"No. You wouldn't," she said.
"There is right and wrong," I said. "A man has died, and that is wrong. A man lived in sin with an alien creature, and that is wrong. I understand you don't share my view, and that is your right, but I can't help but feel that justice has already been served."
Mrs. Moon stood up. She was clearly livid.
"I hope you have all you need for my statement," she said.
"Don't interrupt me," she said through gritted teeth. "I'm leaving now, and not just this office. I'm going away on the next mission. I don't have it arranged yet, I have just decided this, but I'm determined to go. I'm going to see those great glittering cities. I never in my life thought I would step foot on another planet, but I will do it. I will find its family and I will tell them exactly what happened. I will tell them about David. And they will know that he was one of the best of us. I want them to know exactly who we are and what we are capable of, and heaven help you all. I will not be coming back."
She left then, with a stiff stride. I did not stop her. We don't need her kind.