There’s a worm in my apple……………..

I lay by the waters’ edge, idly watching the former continue with the landbridge, contemplating Planet’s words; **Sarita has joined with me.** Did this mean that she would become part of Planet’s lifecycle, and that she would be reborn, to know me again? Could I access her personality even now, melded with Planet?

I opened my consciousness wide, flooding my senses with Planet’s accumulated millenia of experiences and knowledge, and probed. There she was!! I eagerly projected **Sarita, it is Little Hatchling**. Planet’s soothing presence intruded. **Little One, it is not Sarita’s personality you are experiencing, but your own memory of her. See, I will show you**

Planet withdrew, and suddenly I felt utterly, achingly alone. I searched my mind, and there she was, my Sarita, almost my first living, sentient contact after my birth. I had always known her, her every mood, and she mine. Was this then what she meant when she had said that death was but a stepping stone on a journey, and that we all lived on? For the aliens, was this ongoing life in memories only?

As I pondered this wisdom, I recalled…….


It was early in my training, and Sarita wanted to use me to better the psi-defenses of the Peacekeeprs. The scientists and engineers had been working away at their theories and formulae, and wanted to conduct a live test. They had developed a new psi armor, and were not sure that it would work. Sarita had volunteered me to come and show them my psi-powers, to see how effective their neural shielding really was.

She coached me intensely. **Little Hatchling, you must be careful. If you are too strong you will kill the subjects, or at least cripple them psychically, so you must be aware of me at all times. When I signal thus** – and here she projected a piercing psychic whistle into my consciousness, causing me to visibly wince - **I want you to stop immediately**.

I telepathed assent.

**Also,** she continued, **some of these scientist have led a sheltered life, and have never encountered a Mindworm live, so let them get to know you little by little. You can have quite an overpowering personality, you know**. If I had ribs, I am sure that I would have received a dig from Sarita.

The scientists and technicians were ready, with their equipment developed and installed. Some were going to be wearing the specially adapted helmets, with sensory protectors and mind visors. Others would be testing a hand held psi-blanket generator that theoretically would block any psi–energy attack. The date was fixed, and Commissioner Lal himself was going to be present to watch the proceedings. I had met him several times during my training.

We approached the test laboratory, with the VIPs already present and sitting at their places. The test subjects were scattered around, trying to ensure that one’s protection field did not impinge on the other. I was by Sarita’s side as we approached down the corridor.

The guard opened the door and motioned for us to enter.

I leaped on to Sarita’s shoulders and neck, and covered her head, just leaving room between my tendrils for her to see her way into the room. The scientists and technicians shrieked in panic as the apparition appeared, a human body with a mindworm head. They scuttled behind chairs, and hid under the tables, cowering in terror.

Commissioner Lal roared with laughter. “Gentlemen, gentlemen,” he gasped, “so this is your psi-defence. Wooden chairs and Plastisteel tables. We spent all our defense budget this year on that”

I felt Sarita’s shoulders shaking with mirth as I disengaged from her head and neck and dropped to the floor. Her thoughts entered my mind; **Good one, Little Hatchling. I didn’t know you had a sense of humor**


I loved the maglev tubes. Being able to relax and be whisked at barely subsonic speed between bases, and sense through Sarita’s eyes the myriad colors and sights of Planet go flashing by always gave me a thrill.

I recalled fondly the time we went to UN Headquarters Base, or ‘The Little Apple’ as Sarita called it, explaining that as a child she had grown up on old Earth in New York, where her parents had been assigned to the UN Agency, and how it had as its nickname “The Big Apple”.

We sat in the tube, and I was getting from Sarita’s mental projections a strong sensation of speed, and wind whipping past as we journeyed.

I moved the bulk of my mass forwards, and let my tendrils stream out behind be, as though I was leaning into a strong wind, and maintained that pose for a few minutes. People around us started looking curiously at us, pointing and talking about us.

Sarita telepathed me a wink, and joined in the fun.

“He really does feel the wind”, she said to incredulous stares. “For him there is no shell of the carriage between us and the magtube and he really is hurtling along the magline at over a thousand clicks per hour.”

I sensed her inward mirth and joined in. She mussed my streaming tendrils with her hand. How I loved it when she did that.

Thus began the myth among the aliens that we mindworms were impervious to silksteel


Then there was the time that she decided I smelled, and needed washing.

I was in her quarters, and we had been doing psi concentration exercises. She suddenly said aloud “Gosh, Little Hatchling, you stink.” The neural vibes reached me, and I recoiled a little. Sarita was displeased with me? What had I done? I am me, and this is how I am.

She sensed my confusion, and projected calm reassurance to me **No, no. You have done nothing wrong. I still care for you, but your coils are giving off a stench, and I think that I need to fill a bath with water and wash you**

I winced, and flashed panic **No. You don’t understand. Your alien treated water will kill me. I am from the fungus and need fungal spores in abundance or else I will get sick. Rain and swamp is good, even our ocean can support my kind, as it does the great Isles of the Deep. But not your water.**

**That’s okay,** she retorted, **I’ll get some fungal gin and pour it into the bathtub.**

Her reference to fungal gin puzzled me. I did not understand the inference.

Sarita rose, and went to a cupboard, and removed two bottles of Morgan Distilleries’ finest fungal gin. As she returned to the couch, she telepathed **You are right Little Hatchling. It would be wrong of me to change nature’s way of cleansing you. I’ll drink the gin instead and put on a vidcom of an old earth movie. You can meld minds and learn a little more about our alien ways**.

We sat there in companionable silence, and I was enjoying the movie through her mind projections.

The movie, through Sarita’s eyes and ears, began to lose focus and the soundtrack became dissonant. Thinking that her vidcom unit was malfunctioning I telepathed a query to her. I recoiled in anxiety. Her mind was a jumble of images and fragments, her thought patterns running riot through long forgotten memories and the recall of long past experiences. She was a schoolgirl in New York…..there she was leaping out of her rover to confront me….. riding her first bicycle.

Each sip of her fungal gin introduced more chaos into her mind, until finally the glass slipped from her fingers and she sagged back on the couch, comatosely drunk.

I gingerly probed her mindwave patterns. She was deeply asleep. I was puzzled. I knew that the aliens slept in special rooms in their habitats, on couches that accommodated the length of their bodies. This was not one of them. I explored her apartment, and found the room, with the bed. Moving back, I exerted my meager physical strength and manhandled (wormtentacled?, I thought amusedly) Sarita to her bedroom and on to her bed.

I left her there, and stood guard in her lounge all night.

I was dozing in the morning when she appeared. She ruffled my tendrils with her hand, and entered my consciousness **I really hung one on last night, Little Hatchling. Thanks for taking care of me**


I lay by the ocean’s side with a great void in my consciousness. Never again would I feel that presence enter my sensory field. Never again would her mind open to me and mine to her. We would play no more practical jokes on her kind. Never again would I thrill to the touch of her hand ruffling my tendrils with love and affection.


Memories were all I had.