The three wives tell Vicky about the dark ones. The description makes the dark ones sound very human. They tell Vicky about her part. Maybe she should run away.
The three wives had everything broken down and put away in short order. As a matter of fact, Vicky had no more idea where everything went after the farmers’ market than where any of it came from before then. This time, Red got in front.
“Let’s go to your house,” Red instructed. “There is too much danger if you take us back to the farm.”
“After finding myself at the business end of a loaded weapon a little while ago, I’ll go along with that. I get the impression that whatever one of you knows the other two know as well.”
“That’s not entirely the case, but close enough for the moment.”
The way the day had gone, Vicky supposed she shouldn’t have been so surprised when the three wives immediately took over her house when they arrived. She shouldn’t have been surprised but was both amazed and horrified. Two of the wives took over the kitchen. At the same time, Raven sat down on the couch with Vicky. This little performance was clearly their show.
“You need to have some grasp of the dark ones,” Raven began. It was unnerving to have part of a conversation with one of them, encounter multiple interruptions, and then have another of them continue the conversation exactly where it stopped.
“To partially confirm your suspicions, we did not start out as humans. We are human now, at least in every way that matters. The reason that few of us became human was to help your race survive the challenges which are before you. While we retain some aspects of our nativity, by taking on human form, we necessarily also partake of the human condition. In short, we become homo sapiens because being on this planet forces that kind of change.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll put that on the side for the moment.”
Raven nodded as though she understood Vicky’s position. After a moment, she continued, “Life is nearly universal. Consider the problems trying to get groups of humans to agree about anything. Now consider trying to get any understanding between species from alien environments. As we understand the dark ones’ position, they studied your race briefly and decided other species on your planet needed assistance while yours needed to die out. From what we know of the dark ones, they saw too much of themselves in your race. That boils down to the dark ones not wanting competition. Of course, that supposes both of your races would want the same goal in the first place.”
“That kind of thinking has a familiar ring. How does that connect to the incident at the farmers’ market?”
“The dark ones know we are trying to help humanity and they want to get in the way of that effort at every opportunity. They are at a disadvantage, however. There is no way that any of their kind would consider taking on human form. If a dark one did that, their chances of blending in with the general population would be much easier than what we face. Any of them would simply be considered batshit crazy and allowed to do whatever they want. A dark one might even run for public office.”
Vicky snorted. “From your description, I’d say they’d have every chance of being elected. How do you know they haven’t done that?”
“Whenever they do something, it leaves evidence. What we do also leaves a trace. That is how the dark ones knew about us. They used the humans in the area as sensing devices. In the case of the policeman who attacked you, it was the same thing as an armed drone. There would be no concern about police brutality. As far as the dark ones have any interest, hate and discontent generated between humans promotes the program of extinction.”
“What about my part in this? You gave me the impression that I have some importance. I don’t get it.”
Raven patted Vicky’s hand. “That is the impression we wanted to give. That is because you are the critical link in all of this. Part of Paul taking on human characteristics included the emotional and biochemical areas. When he walked into the bank, he bonded to you, even if you didn’t realize it.”
The conversation just turned in the direction of emotional blackmail. “You make it sound like Paul was a newly hatched duckling, accepting the first thing it sees as a mother figure.”
“That Is a good comparison.”
“Julie was the first female he saw.”
“She was not compatible.”
“In other words, Julie was too old for him.”
Raven nodded. “You imprinted on him. No other woman can ever take your place in his life.”
Vicky sputtered, “All of this ignores the elephant in the room. That would be the three of you, also known as his wives.”
Raven giggled. “Paul refers to us in many ways. At the same time, he never said we were his three wives. It is true that we are all married. Each of us is the spouse of a different human. Our purpose is to make Paul able to fit in with the people around here. We also help with the farm.”
In the short time they had talked, the other two already put a meal together. It was a meal for two.
“We will help you get to the farm without raising alarms. Would you please help Paul? At least consider the possibility.”
“What about these dark ones?”
“If you stay here by yourself, it will not be long before they begin sending more people after you. Paul can protect you to some extent. Still, with the two of you so far apart, he cannot guarantee your safety.”
“What happens if I go?”
“Everyone in the area will think of you as Mrs. Vicky Fortek. The accepted story will be that you two married several years ago. You work at the bank to help get the farm and vineyard going.”
After the disaster with Tom, Vicky had decided not to bother with men again. Then again, Paul was not exactly a man. At least, he wasn’t merely a man. Vicky took a deep breath. She was about to agree to it but suddenly had a thought. “This is all coming in a rush. Why?”
“Until we know your answer, we cannot leave. If we go now, the dark ones will come with a full load of fear and death. They will target you. More than that, they will go after everyone connected with you. The pastor might survive, but he has another situation. When the dark ones finish, Alma will no longer resemble what it is now. Holdrege will be a disaster area.”
Vicky got up and looked out the window where the last rays of daylight rapidly faded. Her hopes appeared to be disappearing with the light and the warmth of the day.
“What happens to Paul if I don’t go?”
“The dark ones can’t do anything to him. But without you, the crops will reverse and shrivel, as will Paul. Eventually, his human form will disappear, and he will return to his original form.”
Vicky sighed, turned around and looked at the three. “Okay.”