HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 215

“Like I just woke up with the hangover of a lifetime,” Fatima replied. “Brutal aftertaste, too.”

“But did it work?” Angela said.

“Let’s find out,” Fatima said.

She stepped over to a desk and grabbed her sketchbook. Her pencil moved swiftly, madly across the paper, jerking this way and that. Angela peered over Fatima’s shoulder.

The creature resembled a human being only vaguely. Its eyes were hollow sockets, mouth a gaping hole rimmed with jagged teeth. Tentacles erupted from the skin here and there along its gangly, distorted body.

“See?” Fatima said, ripping the page from the book. “It’s all bullshit.”

“Maybe it takes a little while to kick in,” Angela said. “Keep trying.”

Fatima picked up the pencil again, this time producing a beast that was little more than a giant eyeball with a mouth like a lamprey eel. She thrust the page into Angela’s hands.

“Just one more time,” Angela said. “Please.”

“And then you’ll go?” Fatima asked.

“And then I’ll go,” Angela replied.

Fatima spent several minutes on this last drawing, almost in a trance. When she finally stopped, she looked down and her eyes widened. Angela stepped forward.

“What is it?” she asked.

Fatima turned the sketchbook around and Angela’s own face stared back at her, rendered in shades of grey.

“Damn, it didn’t work,” Angela said, then smirked.

Fatima laughed; a chuckle at first, but quickly swelling into a deep belly laugh. When she was done, she turned the sketchbook back around and just stared at it for a while. Then she flipped to a new page and started drawing again.

“Well, I can see you’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Angela said, “so I’ll just let myself out.”

Fatima didn’t reply, didn’t even seem to hear. Angela backed away slowly and slipped out the door. On her way down the stairs, she called Carey. He answered on the first ring.