“Love Me Forever” by Mary Beth Asaro

I watched her life slip away from me like melting ice dripping down the drain in the secluded cabin. Her grey eyes glazed over and her head fell back as I held her in my arms, bleeding. My concentration flickered from Sarah to Jason's cold snare. A moment later, I was laying her lifeless body gently on the light brown rug and brushed back a strain of blonde hair from her lips. Then I slowly got to my feet and glared at him.

"Don't fuck with me, Shawn." Jason waved the pistol in front of me.

"She was never yours."

My hands balled up into two tight fists.

"She was playing us."

"She was playing you."

Jason stood there for a moment, baffled at my response. Then he slowly aimed the metallic pistol right between my eyes.

"I love you. You know that, right?" Sarah once asked me over coffee at one of those out of town restaurants. She was wearing that light blue tank top and short shorts that always drove me wild with the peeping sun shinning through her dangling hair. She smiled as if she had told a joke.

I sipped my cup of coffee and leaned back in the chair.

"Does Jason know?"

Her smile faded and the glow from her face darkened.

"I'm just waiting for the right time to tell him."

"He's my friend."

"You have my heart."

I shook my head in disbelief of the situation.

"Look, I'll tell him tonight at the cabin. You have nothing to worry about." She smiled as if my worries were childish.

"I'll come with you."

She caressed my fingers in acceptance.

"You son of a bitch! You knew the whole time!" Jason spat out.

I just stood there for a moment taking it all in. There was nothing more for me to say. Not only was Sarah betraying him, but I was betraying him as well. But I loved her more than he ever did. After a regretful "Yeah," I couldn't look him in the eye. I didn't want to. Jason began to pull the trigger while I closed my eyes. The shot beamed out as an echo in the wind. Within the darkness, I could feel no pain. Is this normal for a person to feel no pain before they die? I opened my eyes. Jason was laying face down on the floor. Dark blood stained the back of his black leather jacket.

"What the..."

My wife stood there over the railing of the wooden staircase with a small hand laser in the palm of her hand aimed at my chest, her finger hovered over the red button of the laser. She was in her everyday pink tee and faded blue jeans with her hair bound together in a rough ponytail.

"How did you..?"

"I followed," her face filled with a nonchalant facade, but her eyes were saying something else; something that wanted me to explain my behavior.

I stared at the laser gripped firmly in her hand.

"The mission, Zara. What about..?

"Don't! You are more important than these... things," She eyes Jason's lifeless body on the floor with a snare.

"Sorry," I murmured. It was the only excuse I could manage to get out of my dry, tense throat.

"Don't be."

She lowered her laser and smiled an unearthly gleam. We stood there for a moment just staring at one another from a distance. I realized then that we didn't know each other anymore. Ever since we came to this water mixture of a planet, we'd grown apart. She was always busy observing and carefully planning how to dominate the species from a watery cave beside the ocean while I was stuck with the delightful task of trying to find a weak spot in the inhabitants, but slowly, some how, I started to change. I was tired of it all. I wanted to feel alive again. That's when Sarah came into the picture. Sarah caught me at a very fragile state.

"Hi, are you waiting for someone?" Sarah's eyes squinted at me because of the fire ball rays out on the animal crowded beach.

"Not really." I smiled at her alien beauty that shined within the shadows of her face.

"Do you mind if I sit here with you for a while? Everywhere else is crowded." She looked back at the ocean of people basking in the hot sun.

"No-no, go ahead," I blushingly urged.

"Thanks." She threw a bright colorful beach towel out on the dessert sand and laid down on it, looking up at the mass of blue liquid that has begun to reach out to us.

"You must be new around here?"

"What makes you say that?" The question startled me enough to look around to see if anything was showing out of my skin suit.

"I haven't seen you around."

She looked at me for a moment in a peculiar way. Then she hands me a grey plastic bottle.

"What's this?"

I held the foreign object as if it had thorns all over the sides.

She giggles. "Very funny. Isn't it what you were looking for?"

"What does it do?"

"You don't know what sun lotion is?"

She looked at me for a puzzling moment; her grey eyes sparkling at me with a hidden life behind them.

"No," I mumbled.

Sarah took hold of the bottle and squirted some of the white liquid cream onto her palm. Then she began to rub it into my arm.

"What are you..?"

I cringed for a moment, expecting a burning sensation. Instead, there was a cool relaxation that I had never experienced before.

"It protects you skin from the sun," she grinned at me with those pale pink lips. "So... where are you from where they haven't heard of sun lotion?"

"Way up north," I smiled back at her, enjoying the cool sensation on my arm.

"You should come with me. I'll show you around."

"I'll be honored," I replied.

"I was starting to think that you were growing attached to them." Zara's expression was hard as concrete, but her eyes pleaded for a good excuse as I thought of the only explanation.

"Only as a pet. Nothing more."

The explanation brought a smile to her face.

"Come. We have much to discuss."

As I began to make my way up the stairs to her, all I could think about was our first night together on Earth.

We'd tear each others' earthly skins off just for our transparent jelly bodies to cling to each other under the August moon on the cool grains of sand. Our long tentacles caressing each other while our crystal red stomachs heaved into each others whirlwind of passion. A moment later, the feeling expired and we went back to our usual way of pasting our skins back on each other by using a misty glue called fint from a plant called finus that is grown from our home planet, Benstral. Afterwards, Zara stared at me with those dark crystal eyes as if I'd taken something from her.

"Will you love me forever?"

I looked at her in those crystal eyes and said, "I will." Then I brushed the strain of ash brown hair from her cheek. She smiled; comforted by the answer. Our tentacles connected with each other through our peachy cream skins and we were one, thinking the same thoughts and sharing each other's emotions.

Her white, smooth tentacles wiggled out beneath the fingernails. They grabbed a hold to mine in an affectionate embrace. "I have great things planned for us," she smirked.

I glanced back at Sarah lying below us in a small puddle of her life's elixir. One of Zara's tentacles turned my face towards hers. "No regrets?"

My tentacles touched the moist, distant smile on her beautiful face. "None," I murmured.

She dragged me to the bed room with a human hand.

"Don't worry. It will be painless... and you won't have any lasting impressions of them when I get through with you."

Zara clenched my wrist unexpectedly. Her cold eyes were focused on mine. "There will be no distractions next time."

"I understand," I replied. My eyes pleaded for mercy.

"You will," her crystal eyes cackled, "when I insert part of myself in you."

She pulled me in the room and slammed the wooden door with a heavy bang. It's one thing to betray them and it's another thing when you betray your own kind.