Nonprofit Chronowar by Michael D. Smith
“Don’t worry! He doesn’t know we’re here! We’re not in his zone!”
“It’s--it’s--oh my God! Oh my God!”
Urside stood up dizzily. “For God’s sake, Mandy, don’t panic! He can’t see us!”
“HELLO HELLO HELLO WARE AMM I?” croaked from--from the--
“Oh my God!” Urside screamed. “Jesus God almighty!”
“HELLO FRENNLEE HUUMANNS! WARE AMM I? HOWWW DIDD I GETT HEERE? WHAZZ GOING ONNN?”
Urside fell back on the carpet. “Jesus, Mandy! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! We must’ve opened up--some interdimensional hole--or--or--oh my God!”
A creature five feet high! Like a giant fish! Huge unlidded eyes! A pink fin protruding from a golden robe!
“Oh my God!” Mandy gasped, backing towards a bookcase.
“Jesus Christ! We have to get out of here!”
“No--wait! We need our clothes!”
“Just--just grab them--he doesn’t know we’re here!”
The being scampered into the room--it was sickening to watch its little legs slap on the wooden floor and then scuff into the loose carpet. Then it was standing right on their pile of clothes. “HELLO, HELLO, HOWW DID I GETT HERE? WHOOO ARE YOOO GUYZZ?”
“He does know we’re here!” Mandy screamed.
“His voice--it’s in my mind!”
“DOO NOTT PANIKKK MY FRENNS! DOO YOOOO NOTT KNOWW TO REED PROPPURRLEE THEE THOUGHTS OF A MARRSHUN?”
“No! Jesus God, no!” As Urside met those unlidded eyes his mind burst into hyperventilating insanity.
“THE GRAVITTEEE HEERE ISS TERRIBULL! TERRIBULL!”
“I’m crazy! Crazy!”
“No, Urside, wait!” Mandy cried. “I don’t know how--but I’m aligning with--with his thoughts! They’re making sense! They come together if you just relax!”
“You--God! Mandy, I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!”
“YOU ARE--URSIDE?” came the voice in his mind. Then, uncannily, something did relax inside Urside, and the voice in his mind now exuded nothing but--calmness! “You are Urside, and she is Mandy? And we must be on Planet Marble because of the gravity? And yet the air is not polluted nor are we dying of radiation poisoning? So by definition we are in the Alaskan Earth Terraforming Project Zone? And you have never seen a Martian before? Have I got that all correct?”
“Planet--planet--” Urside gasped. “You--”
“Yes, Planet Marble is--Earth!” Mandy said. “Yes, that’s right, we’re on Earth! And you’re--Dar, Emperor of the Martians! How the hell can I know that?”
“I have radiated that, friend Mandy. You have never seen a Martian nor ever received the outradiance? How is that possible? Unless--”
“God, are you from the future?” Urside cried.
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