“Are you aliens?”
“Aliens?” the humanoid asked, blinking, white eyes taking him in through single black irises.
“Extraterrestrials,” the medical doctor asked. “Beings from other planets.”
Doctor Markus Bringham Donahue looked up from his notes, once again startled by the complexity of the organism before him. Completely humanoid in appearance, it bore no indication of being something other than what modern day man had since evolved into. Save for the white of its eyes, the porcelain hue of its skin and the silver sheen of its hair, the creature—whom had not chosen to identify itself by name—looked no different than he would should he have chosen to adorn himself in costume apparel.
“What are you?” Doctor Donahue asked.
“What are we?” the creature frowned.
“Yes. What are you?”
“We are… us,” the humanoid said. “You.”
A shiver of unease ran along Donahue’s spine.
It’s all right, he thought, easing himself down from an elevated level of stress. It can’t hurt you. There’s armed guards all around us.
“You were brought into this government-sanctioned medical facility after you and several others of your kind were seen plummeting to earth,” Markus said, flipping through a briefly-summarized report the president of the United States had faxed to him. “You were described as, ‘Wraithlike creatures’ who ‘faded in and out of reality’ in what officials described as ‘mist.’”
“Your method of movement.”
White eyes blinked.
Doctor Donahue imagined the creature had been dumbstruck by his examination.
“Well?” the man asked, setting his hand on the table before him.
“What are you trying to ask?”
Once again, Markus Donahue swallowed a lump in his throat.
“Let’s start this way,” he said, reaching for a citizenship documentation page at his side. “What is your name?”
Donahue scribbled the name out.
“Onmariuno,” he said, repeating back what he’d just written. “Your last?”
“Your surname. What your family was called.”
“My name is Onamariuno,” the creature repeated, flexing the muscles in its shoulders. Donahue jumped in response. The humanoid smiled, white lips rising in what could have been described as a smirk. “We are very vain creatures, human. We choose our own names. Letting others choose them for us only furthers an individual’s ability to strip another’s of their identity.”
“No last name,” Donahue nodded. “When were you born?”
“Are you asking when I came into existence?”
“By human standards—July fourteenth, fourteen-forty-two.”
Stilling his hand, the doctor looked up.
“As sure as you are of whether or not the sun rises in the east,” Onamariuno said, setting its hands on the table.
“Are you male or female?”
“Mister Onamariuno,” Donahue began. “You were the only one brought into this medical facility. Tell me—where are your companions?”
“I know as much as you do, doctor.” Once again, the creature blinked. Aside from the interview, Donahue had managed to record the total number of blinks in a minute—four, one-fourth of the normal, human ratio.
“Tell me again—can you explain to me what you are?”
“I don’t understand your question.”
“Are you human?”
“I’ve already told you—no, I am not.”
“Can you explain to me what you are?”
“Can you explain to me what you are?” the creature repeated.
“That’s not funny.”
“I’m not trying to be.”
One of the guards grunted under his breath.
Onmariuno’s eyes flickered.
His fingers twitched.
A faint scattering of what appeared to be smoke began to rise off the humanoid’s hands.
“What are you doing?”
The creature blinked.
The smoke faded.
“Pardon me,” Onamariuno said. “This man startled me.”
“Eh?” the guard asked.
“Try to be quiet,” Donahue smiled. “I know you’ve been out with a cold.”
“Whatever,” the grunt mumbled, readjusting his rifle against his chest.
“You could get out of here so easily,” Donahue said, deciding to change tactics. “Why don’t you?”
“You know as well as I do that’s impossible, doctor.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because for me to be able to leave, I have to have an accessible way out of this room—and, after that, open air.” Onmariuno pursed his lips. “Smoke will not leave a room if there is not a chimney for it to escape through, no?”
“I suppose that’s right.”
“You know it’s right.”
Though Donahue was sure he’d catch a smirk out of the corner of his eye, he saw nothing more than a placid, mute expression. Shaking his head, he gestured the guards over to the table. They made sure to keep their distance.
“Will you speak with me again?” the doctor asked. “Later, perhaps, after I’ve gone over my notes?”
“I would be happy to,” Omnariuno said. He stepped forward, toward the guards who’d stood diligent by the door. “Doctor?”
“Will I be allowed to leave once I’ve spoken with you?”
“You will,” Donahue said. “I’ll make sure of it.”
With a curt nod, the humanoid extended its arms and allowed the guards to restrain him, though Donahue already knew that simple cuffs would do little to contain the creature should it want to escape.
Once the guards removed Omnariuno from the room, Donahue sighed, took a deep breath, then wrote one word at the bottom of the paper—wraith.