By 28 April 2015 | Categories: news


By Johann Dannhauser

It touched down at the corner of Main and Second Street in down town Joburg. After a couple of seconds it determined the appropriate camouflage and changed. It had no concept of a past, where it came from, where it was going. It just knew when it was time to move to new feeding grounds and how to hunt. 

If anyone knew about the entity and studied it, the results would be interesting. A spore-like creature, traveling between the stars. It only knew The Hunger and The Change. The Change was a result of its hunter roots, where it would arrive at a certain location, quickly determine the best way to blend into the surroundings and then The Change. 

It became such a prolific and successful hunter, that it eventually killed off every animal on its own world. Due to the simple cell structure and strong survival instinct it headed for the stars - and succeeded. The Hunger would compel it to move to a new world, where The Change would allow it to feed. Simple and easy.

David was a normal Earthling. He held a steady job in downtown Jozi, earned a comfortable salary and was dating Nandi - a woman he adored and loved to bits. As he finished up his work he was daydreaming about the evening he had planned, which consisted mostly of spending some quality time with the lady of his dreams. He had it all planned out - meet at the bus stop at 19:00, take her for a nice dinner at an upmarket jazz club, some dancing may follow, who knows what more. He had some definite ideas in place. 

The biggest surprise would be the smallest thing, though. She always complained about his perceived lack of mastering the simple task of reading time. 

“Any normal couple,” she would sigh, “would have the man waiting for the woman. Why, in the name of all that is weird, must I be the only woman that has to wait for my man?” This complaint would normally go with a very sad tone of voice and stern look in the eye that would just melt poor old David. So tonight he would be punctual. He would, in fact, be early.

Fast forward to 18:45. David is at the bus stop, puffy chested and proud about his mastering of a life skill. Just think, he has managed to be on time. Even better, he is too early! This should buy him brownie points with the girl of his dreams for at least another two, maybe even three dates. He will be sure to remind her for at least a week or two. Maybe he can then be the sad voiced and stern eyed one, just so the light of his life can have a bit more sympathy for him when the roles are reversed again.

David frowned. Something feels slightly odd, but he just cannot put his finger on it. After puzzling over it for a minute or two, he decided it must be the feeling that people have when they arrive early for an appointment. It is the only thing that is different tonight, so that must be it. Just as he was congratulating himself on his keen powers of observation, he saw that the inside of the bus stop was a sickening pink. When did that happen? 

Nandi arrived at the bus stop at exactly 19:05, sure in the knowledge that David would be late. She was not disappointed. That man of hers, always late. Irritated she started to tap her left foot, while practicing the Crossing of the Arms and the Pursing of the Lips. Behind her, the bus stop gave a contented burp.

About the Author: According to Monty Python the most dangerous of animals is a clever sheep. Johann Dannhauser would be one of the slightly less dangerous ones - an imaginative engineer. During the day he slaves away as a chemical engineer whilst dreaming up dangerous things to write about at night. He got bullied into writing by his supportive wife and does the odd story, especially when NaNoWriMo happens. When he is not slaving or writing he likes to lose large quantities of golf balls and swimming with the fishes, but wearing scuba gear instead of concrete boots. When it comes to reading he enjoys Asimov, King and Pratchett. He dislikes sparkly vampires. 

About the competition. The first annual TechSmart Gigabyte "Call-to-Arms" Short Story Competition had a simple goal - tell a 700 word or less sci-fi story, with South Africa featuring. Read the winner here, or find our runner-ups here


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