By Mike Resnick
I don’t know which bothers me more, my lumbago or my arthritis. One day it’s one, one day it’s the other. They can cure cancer and transplant every damned organ in your body; you’d think they could find some way to get rid of aches and pains. Let me tell you, growing old isn’t for sissies.
I remember that I was having a typical dream. Well, typical for me, anyway. I was climbing the four steps to my front porch, only when I got to the third step there were six more, so I climbed them and then there were ten more, and it went on and on. I’d probably still be climbing them if the creature hadn’t woke me up.
It stood next to my bed, staring down at me. I blinked a couple of times, trying to focus my eyes, and stared back, sure this was just an extension of my dream.
It was maybe six feet tall, its skin a glistening, almost metallic silver, with multi-faceted bright red eyes like an insect. Its ears were pointed and batlike, and moved independently of its head and each other. Its mouth jutted out a couple of inches like some kind of tube, and looked like it was only good for sucking fluids. Its arms were slender, with no hint of the muscles required to move them, and its fingers were thin and incredibly elongated. It was as weird a nightmare figure as I’d dreamed up in years.
Finally it spoke, in a voice that sounded more like a set of chimes than anything else.
“Hello, Dad,” it said.
That’s when I knew I was awake.