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Charlie MacDuff and the Test of Time
by I. MacPenn

Chapter 34:
Aphon

Larry continued, "Numb with horror, Thera and the militants jumped back from the door, staring in disbelief. As the door swung fully open, a tangle of giant tarantula-like beings rushed at Thera and the other humans. Although the tarantula-like beings were friendly, Thera fainted, and when her head hit the concrete floor, it made a deep, ringing sound. Her human friends were too shocked to help her.

"One of the tarantula-beings stroked her hair, sobbing. It was Aphon, and he said, 'Thera, darling, I could have gotten used to your looks. At least I think I could.'

"The spider-being next to him tried to push him aside, saying, 'She's dead, let's eat.'

"'No,' said Aphon, 'the Earthlings don't do that. They bury their dead.'

"The other spider-being insisted, 'Well yes, this pale, bony, two-legged beast would probably taste better after being aged underground for a while, but I feel like having a snack now. Breakfast was an hour ago. Move over or I'll eat you.'

"'No,' repeated Aphon in a loud, harsh voice, 'She must be buried properly like other Earthlings.'

"The other spider-being shouted at him, 'And let the worms get to her first? Never. It's a sin to waste nourishment, even if it is from repulsive beings like these.'

"The guard had sounded a silent alarm, and a security team burst into the room at this moment. The spider-beings were killed instantly by the team, who assumed that the spider-beings had hurt Thera and were about to attack the other humans.

"Well, that was the end of the aliens. A few years later, we received another message from the spider-beings, but they were told that their friends had died when their spacecraft landed, and that they shouldn't land. They seemed to understand that there was some big problem, and they never came anywhere near Earth again.

"As for Thera, she recovered physically, but she never spoke a word to another human being for the rest of her life. She lived out the rest of her years in a nursing home and kept to herself. Sometimes, people saw her talking quietly to a little box that she kept with her at all times. When she died, they found that she had been keeping a spider in her little box.

"And that's the story of First Contact. You really should stay awake in history class - it's interesting stuff. Then when you grow up, you can take the Test of Time just like me."

Before Charlie, George or Alice could say a word, the receptionist called out, "Larry Schnozzle, Mr. Grandours will see you now." Larry jumped up, waved goodbye, and swaggered proudly through the red door on the other side of the room.

Charlie shook his head and said, "He'll never make it."

"I bet the crocodiles get him," added Alice.

George replied, "I thought that things were supposed to be almost perfect in the future."

"Apparently not," said Charlie, thinking of Larry.

The receptionist called to them, "Charlie MacDuff, Alice Wright and George Garcia -- Mr. Grandours will see you now."

"This is all too weird," replied Alice.

"This, as opposed to everything else we've been through in the last few days?" Charlie asked sarcastically.

Alice laughed and said, "I was referring to Larry," and the three of them laughed as they headed for the red door.


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