Yorgfluth, my alien co-worker, was getting bigger. I didn't know if it was bloat, or fat, or what. If I didn't know for sure that he was male, I would have thought him pregnant.
He seemed to be having trouble eating and his energy was going down. "He must be sick," I thought. "That's got to be it."
"Yorgfluth, you're not yourself lately," I began.
He looked at me blankly. "Then who am I?"
A snappy retort with absolutely no humor behind it. He was serious. This Xorxxian operated on a very concrete level, living nowhere but in the very logical, very orderly here and now. To him, the future was only what could be logically deduced from the proven of the present. He was a nice guy, but dull and plodding.
"I mean you look like you're not feeling well," I said. "Maybe you should see a doctor."
"All is as it should be," he replied, turning back to his work.
Was he in denial of some grave condition? Or maybe that bulge around his middle--growing fast--meant he really was pregnant. So many uncertainties, working with aliens. Alien races were all very different; there were probably five dozen types of aliens around these days, but Yorgfluth was the only Xorxxian I had ever seen.
He didn't come to work the next morning. Or the next, or the next. He was gone ten days. My supervisor knew nothing of what was going on, either, except that Yorgfluth had told him that he would be away for a couple of weeks.
I tried calling his quarters, but no answer. The hospital didn't have him, either. Nobody knew where he was.
Then one morning I was walking down the street. A large truck was about to pass me in the curb lane, when a young kid suddenly ran out in front of it. As the truck swerved to avoid the kid and plunged directly for me, I felt strong hands pluck me from its path. The truck plowed into the building front behind where I had been standing.
Shaking, I watched the truck driver, unhurt, climb down from the wrecked cab. He was also visibly shaking. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
I turned to thank my rescuer. Yorgfluth!
Yorgfluth? I thought. Not dull, plodding Yorgfluth. He couldn't be that quick, nor that foresighted! But it was him, unmistakeably.
With an extra pair of arms. He now had two full sets of arms.
"I metamorphosed," he said.
"But, but. . ." I yammered.
"It's okay! I feel great!" he said. And he sounded it. There was a lightness there that I'd never heard before.
"Thank God you saw that I was going to get hit by that truck," I said.
"Yes, you see," he replied, "Metamorphosis gives us many gifts. Not only the arms, but many other new attributes, including a sense of premonition. You might say, to paraphrase you humans, 'To be four-armed is to be forewarned.'"
And, apparently, to also have a twisted sense of humor.
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