Chapter 3 There's a prawn on my couch - Part 1
The door swung open and Ana poked her head inside the dark and listened for signs that there was someone home. The place seemed deserted. It was much too early for Syrup to be home yet.
"Ok, come on" she helped the prawn pass through the narrow doorway, which still didn't prevent him from hitting his injured leg against the frame.
"Oh, jeez" she said, picking up a panty from the floor. "Sorry for the mess. My roommate's a pi
Wait, what am I saying? You're a prawn!" She threw the panty back on the ground and resumed carrying her guest.
By the time they had crossed the tiny sitting room in shadows and reached the sofa, the alien seemed ready to faint. She quickly set him down on the old couch. Then she violently pulled him back up again.
"Wait, wait, wait! Lean here for a sec" she patted the sofa's arm to make him understand and he exasperatedly, yet obediently did so while she dashed past a door and then came back with an old bed sheet and laid it over the sofa. Now that it was safe for the prawn to sit on the sofa which he gratefully did she took care of the lights.
The moment she switched the lamps on, and could see the prawn so damn clearly, she was overtaken by an uncomfortable anxiety and regretted doing so. Even in his condition he was pretty breathtaking, though she still wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.
The prawn's eyes blinked at the bright lights. His carapace was a of a general dark bluish color, with some lighter grey splattered here and there, especially around the eyes and in the throat. And that throat
There were those folds of soft tissue that pulsated at the rhythm of his tired breathing, and a couple of chunks of shell on either side of his thorax heaved back and forth agitatedly for air.
And not to mention that pair of stunted little hands that protruded from the base of his chest. In a moment's reasoning among all the astonishment, the rational part of her brain wondered what possible use they could have for them.
The fact that she had just carried that thing's weight on her back without losing herself to panic amazed her. But that strange creature was looking up at her with a couple of huge, intelligent gray eyes in a reverent sort of way, and his expression, exhausted but lively, left no place for doubt that there was any reason to fear him at all.
So, having understood that, she stepped over to the kitchen and soaked a rag in water and handed it to the prawn.
"Here, this is so you can wash. Wasssh" she mimicked the action of wiping oneself.
"<You know, I can understand everything you say>" he clicked, which she took as a thanking as he accepted the wet cloth from her and made to tend to his own leg.
That's when she noticed the striped black and white legwarmers he was wearing on both feet. He was wearing other things as well, like a single trouser leg on his right thigh and some kind of sash covering his waist, thin like a wasp's, though being almost all of it black they sort of blended in with his general appearance. Pieces of cord and strips of fabric with some random metallic objects dangling from them decorated his arms and thighs as well and Ana grinned at this a spike collar on his upper right arm.
The creature bent over itself and started pulling off the bloody legwarmer on his left talon. He gave soft whiny growls as he did so ever so carefully and then left the tattered, stained piece of cloth on the floor.
Ana winced sympathetically.
The exoskeleton was cracked almost from side to side and in one place it was even missing a chunk, exposing a soft, viscous substance inside. The prawn tenderly wiped the area with the wet cloth. He gasped and panted and gave little squeals of anguish until he gave up trying to clean the still bleeding wound and laid back to rest his head on the sofa.
Ana was doubtful.
"How do you take care of an alien?" she muttered to herself, then hastily moved towards the drowsy prawn. "Can I take a look?"
The prawn sat back up and laid out his left leg for her to see. At first she dared not touch the creature again, but looked at the damage from a distance. After a few seconds, though, she gathered all her courage and took the prawn's foot in her hands, gently turning it around and feeling worse for him every time. She looked up at him and saw his eyes full of exhaustion and dried up tears.
"There has to be something around here that can fix that" Ana said more to herself than to him as she got up and started looking around for something to patch up the open wound. "I know I saw it somewhere
" She shuffled around through some drawers and went inside another door, where more racket could be heard.
There was a bang and a smashing sound and Ana cursed loudly before resuming the search. Then with a cry of victory she came out carrying a roll of masking tape, then fetched the alcohol and some gauze and returned by the prawn.
"This is alcohol. Do you know if this will be any good on you?" she asked, holding up the bottle and pointing at the wound, hoping the prawn knew anything about it.
"Za'ih" he nodded resolutely and Ana took it as a good sign, so she got to work, and after a short while of complaining and apologizing, the wound was patched up with strong masking tape.
"There" she said, feeling rather proud of herself. "Let's hope that holds for now. Feel better?"
She hadn't expected him to give a reply, as she hadn't expected him to understand. But then he said weakly "Za'ih" and her mind clicked something together.
"How much of what I say do you actually understand?" she asked, frowning.
The prawn shrugged for lack of a better response.
"All of it?"
He shrugged again.
"Oh" she said trying to sound pleasantly surprised. Obviously she was surprised, just not pleasantly. All the possibly offensive things she had said in front of him started coming back to her.
She cleared her throat.
"You keep saying that. 'Zackee' is it? Does that mean yes?"
Ana blinked at this. He had actually said "yeah", though it had sounded croaky in his prawn voice.
"Right" she said. "Um
So what, you want something to eat, or drink, or
? How do you treat a prawn guest anyway?" she chuckled.
He shook his head, rejecting the offer.
"Zackee, ok. I'll have something to eat, though. Don't move."
She walked over to the fridge and got some cheese and orange juice and returned to the prawn's side to find he had just fallen asleep, his head slightly tilted to one side, his breathing deep.
Ana dimmed the lights and laid the food on the table. After picking up the bloody legwarmer from the ground and throwing it away wrapped in a plastic bag, she sat on the armchair next to the sofa, keeping quiet. The food was gone in the blink of an eye and all that was left was her and the alien. She knew she wouldn't be able to just go to her bedroom and sleep. Not with a prawn sitting on her couch.
So she stood watch by the prawn, making sure she was there when it woke up. It would not be enjoyable to have it roam freely around the house. Luckily her cell phone would ring in a short while and then someone would come over to take the alien away so she could finally go to bed and forget about the whole thing.
Almost half an hour passed and the room was still as silent but for the slow breathing of her dormant guest. And that chair was beginning to feel a bit too comfortable. She found the sound of air wheezing in and out of the alien's lungs rather soothing. It was slowly lulling her to sleep. Her eyelids began to feel heavy.