The alien girl emerged from the water in silence, gliding out as if she were a part of it, leaving little evidence in her wake that she had been there at all. She didn’t notice Zach at first. He stood staring at her, at the sheer impossibility of her, unable to speak.
He’d been wrong. Through the haze of the pain exploding in his mind, he’d thought the figure that emerged from the crashed aircraft was wearing a purple suit, but he’d been wrong. So very wrong.
It wasn’t that she was wearing purple, she was purple.
Now that he was closer, that he had reached her, the pain in his mind had subsided somewhat and his vision cleared. With sharp focus he stared at the figure before him.
Her torso was skinny, and she touched her temples with elongated fingers. She was strangely human, and yet completely and utterly not.
Her skin was a translucent, pastel purple colour that was smooth and hairless. Zach could see her veins, a bright blue beneath the purple, and wondered what colour her blood was. Her mouth had no visible discolouration from the rest of her skin, and her nose, though raised, was flatter than a human nose.
The biggest difference, though, were her ears, and Zach stared at them in open curiosity.
There were two large, curving indents on either side of her head. A thin layer of what appeared to be webbing flexed along the outside of the holes, acting as a shield from the water dripping off her. The ear holes themselves curved along the ridges on either side of the crown of her head. The ridges started out small, then grew wider until they came out of her head into ears that looked more like tails. They were long, thick and smooth.
She was the strangest, most fascinating beautiful thing Zach had ever seen.
So of course, he gaped at her like some gormless high school student at the zoo. He shook his head, opened his mouth, and said the first thing that came to mind.
She jumped, silvery eyes snapping up to his in alarm, and she tensed as if to dive straight back into the water.
‘No, no, no! It’s okay!’ said Zach, throwing his hands up to show her he was harmless, internally cursing his sudden onset of stupidity. ‘I won’t hurt you, I swear!’
Her ear twitched, and she tilted her head toward him, studying him with no small amount of wariness.
‘I don’t suppose you speak English?’ he asked.
She shifted, staring at Zach with wide eyes as she stood dripping on the bank. The strange fabric of the clothes she wore was already drying, shifting from the colour of her skin to a lighter hue, then to a darker shade. The fabric had been as translucent as her skin, but appeared to become more solid as it dried. It was a full body suit, thin and clinging like a flight suit straight out of a science fiction movie.
The whir of a siren jolted through Zach, and he looked about again, nervous of how exposed they were.
He shook his head. They didn’t have time for this. A sharp hitch of adrenaline shot through his chest.
The urge to be closer to her spiked and he reached for the alien girl, stretching out his hand in the least threatening way he could manage. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, why he felt such a persistent need to be with her and help her, but it was something he would have to think about later.
‘Come on,’ he said, his heart picking up pace as he tried not to focus on the sound of the sirens. They were getting closer. ‘It’s not safe here. I have a car.’
She tilted her head at him and one of her ears twitched again. Her pupils dilated, blotting out almost all the silver, and the air grew charged around them. Everything become muffled and a light pressure encircled his head, almost like the earlier headache but not quite so painful.
Zach took a hasty step back, and the world snapped back into focus. He shook his head to clear the sudden disorientation and stared at the alien girl.
What had she done to him?
She took a cautious step forward, the silver returning to her eyes, and in a slow, stilted voice said,
‘I am look-look …’ she took a deep breath and tried again. ‘Looking for some-someone.’
Zach straightened, a tingle of excitement shooting up through his spine.
‘You do speak English,’ he said, then rolled his eyes at himself for stating the obvious. ‘Have you been here before? When? Where did you go, and why did you come to Australia of all places? Wait, sorry. You said you were looking for someone?’
She nodded, her long fingers curling into the fabric of her clothes.
‘A g-girl,’ she said. ‘Her name is-is … Genie.’
Zach raised his eyebrows.
‘What’s her last name?’
She shook her head. ‘I’m not … I don’t … not sure.’
Zach grimaced and tapped his fingers along his book bag. At least she shouldn’t be hard to find. After all, how many girls could there be with the name Genie?
He shook his head.
‘What about where she lives? Do you know that?’
She turned and pointed across the river.
‘In the city?’
She shook her head again, ears twitching and hairless brows creasing. Zach was struck by the fact that she didn’t have eyebrows.
‘North,’ she said. ‘M-much farther n-north.’
Zach glanced back up the hill toward the museum and wondered how long they had before the bank would be crawling with people. He turned back to the alien girl.
‘I can help you,’ he held his hand out to her again.
She hesitated, eyes going distant in thought. One of her ears twitched, and her gaze refocused on him.
‘You-you will h-help me f-find her?’
That same urge, the nag at the back of his mind, pulled at him. The thought of leaving her alone to whatever dangers awaited made Zach feel sick.
He shook his head again, trying to clear the unusual emotion clouding his judgement. There was something else going on. He knew that. Felt it now that he’d felt her presence around his mind. Telepathy? Zach wasn’t sure.
‘Sure,’ Zach shrugged. ‘Shouldn’t be too hard, so long as she doesn’t live in a lamp.’
The alien girl tilted her head, brows furrowing in confusion. ‘A l-lamp?’
His fingers drummed against the book bag again and he attempted a laugh. ‘Earth joke. Never mind.’
‘Her n-name,’ she said, still not moving toward him. ‘I-it’s Genie Hart.’
‘Heart?’ Zach asked. Something about the name nagged at him, but the sirens were getting closer.
‘Alright,’ he said, ‘let’s get out of here then.’
She looked back up at the bridge, and Zach followed her gaze. There were people all over it, crowding into the strange aircraft above. Some of them leaned over the edge of the railing to stare down below.
The shadow of the bridge and the garden path beneath them shielded them somewhat, but it would only be a matter of time before they were noticed.
A small current of electricity ran along the ridges on the alien girl’s head. She turned back to Zach, took a step forward and finally grasped his hand. Her touch was cool and smooth—almost rubbery and he recalled petting a dolphin when he was younger.
His eyes met hers, blue into silver, and a grin erupted over his face.
‘Alright,’ he said again. ‘Let’s go find your girl.’