Christopher walked onward towards the infamous District 9 on a day so hot the sun blazed through the smoky haze, turning the jagged landscape into an oven. He had managed to find some meat near the human dwellings, but it was unlikely to last for long. He slipped through the well-hidden hole in the fence. The most dangerous part was done and he could relax a little. But still he felt uneasy. It was too easy to get sloppy, make mistakes, and get caught. Then, like so many of his friends, hauled away to detention or be hunted down and killed by MNU’s mercenaries or by the blood-thirsty gangs who lives among them in the slums of District 9.
His shack was bigger than most of the others in the District, but not big enough to gather attention from MNU. They tried to keep it as clean as possible, but because of the dry land and the usual piles of waste and rubbish lying around, it was hard to maintain for long.
Stepping into the hovel, he found his mate, Thomas, where he had left him: guarding the egg. As he was reaching out to give Thomas his share of the meat, Thomas viciously snatched it from him as though he were afraid someone else would get it first. At times like these, it wasn’t a farfetched occurrence.
His fellow Poleepkwas were acting more and more like what humans expected them to be: animals. It worried him. The youngest knew very little of their history, culture, or their language. They treated the waste the humans made like it was worth glancing at. They were only interested in their own peoples’ weapons, how those worked, and for how many cat-food cans you could sell them for to the Nigerians. If—when--they would have enough fuel to awaken the mother ship and start the journey home, the young ones would have a hard time fitting in. At best, the long journey home was years away; at worst, it was nothing more than a faraway dream.
He gently touched the shell of the moist, warm egg. If everything went well, it would hatch within the week. The piece of a cow the egg was taking nutrients from was on its last legs, but it should last the week.
Thomas walked out of the shed to collect more of the important fuel. He had become quiet after he had laid the egg, but it wasn’t the sort of thing that worried Christopher. Thomas had always been a quiet sort. Kids in the district were in a continuous danger, was it by MNU, starvation, or even their fellow Poleepkwas who had gone rabid and would often times eat their own. Most of their people chose not to breed, but sometimes even that happened. The child in the egg was an accident. Their heat cycles had come early. It was unpreventable. Now they had to make sure that the kid would be safe, their love, vigilance, and their meager rations were all they had to give. It would have to be enough.
Christopher rose and walked silently to the door, opening it an inch when he heard commotion outside. Thomas was there, as was a handful of MNU guards. They forced him to his knees and one of them slammed the butt of his weapon into Thomas’ head. Without saying anything, Christopher pushed through the doorway, looking as menacing as possible. Shocked, the guards pointed their guns at him as he towered above them, but did nothing more than sneer and mutter obscenities. The tense situation lasted for several agonizing seconds, until a voice inside a nearby car shouted for the men to “get in”. They apparently had more important jobs to do than act like macho men with small penises. He swallowed hard against the urge to laugh at their foolishness then looked to Thomas who, with the twitching of his shoulder, was fighting back his own amusement.
The men shouted empty threats just before speeding away. Christopher helped Thomas to his feet. Then both of them staggered into the hovel. When they were in, they started cackling, delighted. The situation hadn’t been dire, nor had it been funny. But it was good to laugh. Christopher couldn’t remember a last time he felt as free as he felt now, laughing with his mate.
When their chuckling had died down, Thomas left to finish the job he originally set out to do. It was his turn to guard the egg. There were, of course, neighbors and friends around them. But neither felt comfortable enough to leave, if even for just a moment, such a precious treasure.
Hours passed, and when Thomas didn’t return, Christopher began to worry. Aaron, a neighbor, came to inform him that there had been a gunfight between Nigerians around the Big Pile. He knew Thomas was there.
He asked for Aaron to guard the egg then headed towards the Big Pile. It was over a half mile away, so he knew he would reach it quickly.
When he arrived, the Nigerians had already left. Bodies broken and tossed about: a dozen or so human corpses, three of them whores, the rest were what they called “Musclemen”, four Poleepkwans, two unknown, one acquaintance called “Simson”, and Thomas.
It was useless to take the body back with him. He couldn’t give him a proper funeral and the thought of burying him in the ground made Christopher physically ill. At least this way, animals could find his body and feed on him, giving the animal Thomas’ nutrients so anyone or anything that would eat it could be energized and fattened up in a way that could only ever come from eating one of their own.
The walk back to the shed felt longer than the years he had spent on this planet.
Christopher shuffled into the shack. Aaron tossed him a questioning looked before leaving, shaking his head at the sound of Christopher’s gentle, telling sigh of resignation.
Christopher sat in front of the egg and touched it. It was moist and warm and it should hatch soon.