by Holly V. Troupe
No man has ever loved me, and I always used to feel really sorry about that. Jex isn’t a man, because a man is human, but he’s male, and I’m female, and he loved me, so who am I to be picky?
I’d known Jex for about 10 years. I didn’t really know him for most of it, but he was always around. He was like a Keplarian IT guy for the Eastern grid, and he didn’t talk to anyone as far as I could tell. The first time he said anything to me was when he told me – out of nowhere – I should use a trichlorohydrex glycine-based deodorant. The kind that has to be prescribed. He said it right in front of a group of obnoxious kids who made fun of me for years after that, like I had some uncontrollable stink that the Keplarians picked up on, even though their station was two hundred miles above Earth. They never let up, either, until I moved to the Delta quadrant after graduation. I don’t think that they let up even then, actually. I just wasn’t around to hear it.
Later, Jex told me that he felt bad about that. He said that he was supposed to do a bunch of things that would get me ridiculed, so the Keplarians could measure my productivity and ability to learn and retain information after being ostracized. Stress hormones and depression and all that. They would do that kind of thing all the time, not just with me. Still, I think it’s probably why I never amounted to much.
Jex was an outsider, too. I guess, in human terms, he’d be considered “cognitively impaired.” He doesn’t really understand how the Keplarians do what they do, and he can’t learn as fast as the rest of them. The Keplarians learned every human language in just a few minutes, along with all of the regional dialect variations and everything, but Jex only knows English, and that was after nearly two weeks of intense language immersion. He’s kind of like the slow kid who sweeps up the corner store.
I didn’t know how Jex managed to take me out of the division, but he did it. Maybe I was dumb to run away like that, but nobody else ever cared about what I did, so I figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Jex and I stayed on Floyd Masterson’s property for about eight months, just outside of the Keref district near the Eastern grid. Floyd was a big pack rat; a survivalist to the bone. Nobody could tell him that his 117 televisions, 47 washing machines, 24 dead cars, 3 full shipping crates and one tour bus wouldn’t mean the difference between life and death after the apocalypse. Four years after he kicked his family off of his land for good came the Keplarian occupation, so in a way… he was right.
I picked Floyd’s place because it was remote and so messed up that none of the observers would take much notice. Jex made the tour bus look really nice, just like one of those railroad cars that rich people used to turn into guest houses and things like that. It was easier than trying to fix up the main house; Floyd was inside, dead. He’d been dead for years, all wedged up in his hoard. Jex didn’t see the point in disinterring him – he was fine where he was. The Keplarians aren’t very sentimental.
It was pretty good living in our remodeled tour bus. Jex did nice things for me all the time, like once he got me cinnamon rolls from an unregulated place in the sanctuary because I said that I liked them. It was one of those little gestures that seems like every woman’s birthright, but no one had ever done that for me, and it made me feel so good that I wanted to make love to him right then, even though I guess maybe it kind of makes me a pervert. But he was sort of a pervert too, so it was OK.
I was afraid for Jex, though. Can you imagine if the authorities found out that some lab attendant took one of the monkeys home with him and was having sex with it? He sure couldn’t keep his job. And that wouldn’t be the worst thing that would happen.
When I got pregnant, I thought it would be a huge problem but Jex was really happy about it. He spent more time with me, and got me lots of treats and things. I had been by myself most of the time, but after I got pregnant he was always around, doting on me, bringing me my cinnamon rolls and stuff. It was the most fun I’d ever had, even though I was pregnant and super gross.
I was about seven months along when the Keplarians found our bus. I figured Jex must have screwed up at work, being distracted and late and all that. Before I knew what was happening, I just collapsed onto the floor. The Keplarians can paralyze you by remote. I thought Jex would do something – help me – but he didn’t.
The next thing I remember, I woke up in this dormitory. I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I guess I went into labor, or the Keplarians just took the baby. There are about 20 women here who got pregnant by Jex, and they told me that the Keplarians never let them see their children. They’re all kind of like me – losers who thought they had a shot at love. Now, we’re being studied around the clock – our emotions and all that. I guess they want to know what kind of human would procreate with an alien. I don’t know what they’re doing with the babies.
Jex brought me a cinnamon roll the other day. I’m ashamed that the gesture made me feel almost good.