“Reaction” (Part 3)

The new Marn stretched. It felt constrained in ways it couldn’t explain.

The new body was a restriction. But it was necessary for its purpose. It ran its hand along the spires, looking for the connection it had lost.

The response was distant. It was no longer part of itself, though it had expected this consequence. The caravaneer’s lantern still sat in the clearing, illuminating the space with an electric white glare.

It did not need to see. It could feel. But the others would expect it to take the light, so it leaned over it. The new body was clumsy. Two tries later, it had grasped the handle and hooked the device to its belt.

It felt the travelers adjust their packs. They prepared to leave their stray comrade behind. Its second abandonment in quick succession stung, though it couldn’t explain why.

It walked toward the beacon, feeling the soles of the man’s boots and trying to walk like he had walked.

“Took you long enough, Marn.”

“Thought I saw something in the dark.”

“What was it this time?”

It shrugged. “Who knows?”

The woman returned its shrug. “Just about to leave you.”

The humans were a mystery it would have to solve in time. Maybe in its reunion it could tell itself more.

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