"The One Left" by Hawon Koo
You wear a cap. I wear a tie. We stare at each other. I’m looking down, you’re looking up. I’m standing, you’re sitting, and there’s a briefcase in my hand.
Can you truly see? I cannot tell. Your eyes are on mine, your hands are in mine, but are you looking? Are you there?
The nurse is calling me, telling me things, things I only understand because it’s about you. She says you’re this, you know, and that, and that, and might become that. I understand, but it doesn’t make sense. It never makes sense.
The nurse has left. You’re still looking at me, and you don’t move.
I sit down. Your eyes follow. I put my briefcase on the ground. You don’t move at all. I hold your hand. You let me. We’re two.
But we’re not.
Do you see me? Can you see me? Do you know me? Can you know me? The doctor says maybe. My hope says yes. Your eyes say no. For now.
"The Peach" by Simon Darvell
When her hand rubbed against the peach’s furry skin, fear dropped into her stomach as though a trapdoor had been sprung.
They were edging up the queue, Ruben in front of her, tapping their passports faster and harder against his thigh.
He turned to her and tried to smile.
“What’s wrong, Federica? You’re pale.”
He kissed her clammy forehead. “No need to be. We tripled checked everything. We’re good.”
As he turned back, she shoved her hand back into her handbag, rifling past tampons, her purse and pocket mirror and back to the interloping fruit.
Twenty meters ahead, airport security officials were leading people away from the security zone. The unlucky few glanced back at the people in the queue, holiday makers and immigrants, monotone and anxious under the cameras and the barrels of semi-automatic weapons.
They could hear the drawl of a seated official.
“Almost there,” said Ruben.
“I have a peach.”
“In my bag.”
They stared at one another, Ruben stupefied, Federica fearful.
“I asked you so many times.”
“What do I do?”
“You’re always so vacant.”
“This is not the time for making a point. Should I tell someone?”
“Do what you want, like always.”
Ruben turned his back on her.
“I’m sick of repeating myself.”
The official sat up when she saw their expressions.
“Oh, for god sake,” said Federica, pushing past her fiancée. “Sorry, but I have a peach!” She held it aloft. There was an audible intake of air.
“Come with me, ma’am?” said an enormous man in black uniform and sunglasses.
“Is that man with you, ma’am?” he asked as he steered her away.
With a face like she’d bitten into the peach and found it rotten, she said, “Yes.”
"House Census" by Leah Baxter
Sprinkle salt on the threshold of each door and window. Or garlic powder. Or, hell, cilantro. It’s not an exact science. What would scare you off?
Having done that, wait. Wait awake three nights like the boy who didn’t know what fear was. If the temperature begins to flail and plummet then you, like the boy, may expect some company. It is crucial, however, that you, also like the boy, do not react to this.
You may feel some stirring in the air around your home, despite no air actually stirring in your home. Accept this as normal, and go back to your newspaper or your television. (In most cases, this will not result in harm to either your newspaper or your television.)
If you are patient, which you should be, because patience is virtuous and your soul must be pure, you will feel the stirring begin to localize around one part of your body. Most likely an orifice. Keep still.
Perhaps, meditate. Dimming your individuality will make the process less painful. Wait.
The waiting may seem interminable. This is because you have been partially separated from your physical body, and thus, being no longer spatiotemporally extended, you have a very limited sense of the passage of time. You may begin to acquaint yourself with your uninvited houseguest, or as you will perhaps soon prefer, “roommate.” It most likely means you no harm, which is good, because it will take over most of your duties as resident and housekeeper of the physical plane.
If the temperature does not fall, the air does not stir, and a period of interminable waiting does not ensue, then congratulations! Your home is not presently occupied by inscrutable intelligent entities you will never see. Keep up the good work!