Author’s Note: I went back to another one of those prompts that I gave someone else, this time the line from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “You left just when you were getting interesting.”
This was not what I was planning on doing for this prompt, either.
I swear, that alien was just supposed to be in one unrelated snippet, but he keeps stealing all my prompts. This goes with “Acceptance” and “A Strange Whimsy.”
I’m not sure I ever want to have a curious alien as a character again. They wander too much.
He had adopted the habit of drifting in his earlier explorations, and it seemed to help manage the hunger. He had not fed it in some time, not by deliberate measure or by accident, and he thought that was in part because he did not linger anywhere for long. Staying out of the humans’ structures as much as he could made was another step he’d taken, though there were signs that tempted him. If the structure was condemned or scheduled for demolition, no one would care if he helped it to disappear.
Except, the hunger, once given into, was almost impossible to ignore. The hunger would not stop with the one building that would not be missed. The block would follow, all structures and their inhabitants, and nothing would be left. He had seen it—caused it—too many times to allow the hunger even that small portion.
He would walk the streets instead, finding strange people always selling their wares, and these people confused him. He did not understand their need to sell, but commerce meant nothing to someone who could consume everything. Money, no matter what the currency, had no value at all, perhaps less than anything else. All that was around him could disappear within seconds, given to feed the hunger, and so he could find no purpose in buying or selling.
Not all who crowded the streets and public areas were vendors, though. Some wandered, some walked with a purpose, and others lingered with one. He stopped to watch one of them, a woman this time, with a strange sort of shirt that rested on her in a haphazard manner that should have interfered with her activity. He did not believe she knew that her hair had somehow fallen into a blue paint, leaving it tipped in that shade while the rest of it was more of a straw color. She must believe her attempt to keep it back from her face had been successful at keeping it clean as well.
Strange. He did not see any blue on the canvas. Her work was nothing more than dark lines, all black and stark against the background of the canvas.
“That is an odd styling.”
She looked up, a slight smile grazing her lips. “So I have been told. I am just a humble painter, though, so if you know better, do tell me. What should I have done?”
His head turned to the side as he studied the painting. “I confess I find no flaws, but I have no idea what it is, either. Such is my limited experience with art. You must be the expert as you have created this. The lines, here, they are… sharp. There, soft. This is… intentional?”
“Do you have any idea what the subject of the painting is?”
His eyes searched their surroundings, seeing nothing that could have inspired her to create this, not if it was an imitation of some kind. “Do all paintings have subjects?”
“Why paint here when you do not seek to replicate your environment?”
“Maybe I don’t have enough skill to put a landscape on there. Maybe I tried, got angry, and painted it over with a few black lines.”
He considered that, his hand moving toward it as if to test her words, but he caught himself and backed away. “Perhaps you need more black lines, then.”
She laughed, and he did not know how to react to that. Humor still eluded him, just as it had with the cab driver who had left him in this part of the city. She turned back to the painting, and he saw her frown as she reached toward where his hand had gone. He knew what she would find, and he turned away rather than watch her make the discovery.
“Hey! Where are you going? That was just getting interesting.”
He halted at the corner, frowning at her words. No, he had learned enough here. He knew that he must keep moving. His actions would have destroyed her painting, consumed it in a vain effort to understand it, and he did not need to give the hunger that. She would have been next, and he could not let the hunger have a living being. Ever.