I Am the Queen
by William Saxton
Diane opened the door to her townhouse and led her neighbor in. It was just Bill:
ever-hopeful Bill, and she hated to encourage him because there was just no
chemistry, but she was still bubbling over, wanting to show everyone her new pet.
Her alien pet.
"I have all the manuals," she said, "and I have a translation module for when its
language ability kicks in, and I have dietary supplements, since it's adapted to a
different ecosystem --"
"Where is it?" Bill said. He took off his boots: a requirement, in her house.
She led him into the living room, opened the carrying cage, and picked it up, very
It had feather-like antennas, and too many legs, and a sort of bristly fur: a teddy
bear version of a termite, perhaps. Its heart was going bap-bap-bap -- poor thing.
It was so adorable. She stroked its fur.
"Whoa," Bill said.
It squeaked. "That's its happy squeak," she said. It sounded just like the
recording in the manual.
"Can I hold it?" he said.
She found herself reluctant. Maternal instinct. But she transferred it to him,
carefully. It was so tiny it could fit entirely within his calloused hands.
He started to sit. She stopped him. "Your trousers aren't dusty, are they?"
"I changed after work," he said. "Your white sofa's safe, and your white shag
carpet, and your glass coffee table."
Diane nodded; he sat. The alien snuggled up to him. She found herself jealous.
"Are you sure it's a good idea, having it?" he said. "When you had a puppy, I was
over here every week fixing things. Ain't no telling what a giant bug will do to
"It's not a bug," she said. "And it's not like training a dog; it's intelligent! In a
couple of weeks I'll be able to tell it what to do, and since I'm its queen, it'll do
She felt a little defensive. "It's not like a regular pet," she said. "Early on, I show
it gestures of dominance, and later, it will understand rational statements, although
its thinking can be rigid. It can actually do simple tasks, and it thrives on praise."
"You sound like you read that out of a book," Bill said.
Since she had, she said nothing.
"What's its name?" he said.
"I haven't decided."
He looked it over. "How about 'Cheesecake'? Because of the color of the fur, and
What a sweet name! "Perfect," she said.
"Or maybe 'Corn Bread.'"
Diane imagined telling everyone about her new pet, "Corn Bread." No. She said,
"'Cheesecake' will do just fine."