The House Guest
Blancher – Verntropa
Blancher Husken rested his feet upon his windowsill and allowed himself a deep breath out.
‘It’s over now, I no longer need to worry,’ he muttered to himself for what may have been the hundredth time that day, if for no other reason than to simply reassure himself.
The sun was warm and Blancher was relaxed. In fact, he was so relaxed he’d decided to take the afternoon off from his usual busy role as the Vice President of Verntropa.
He planted his gaze firmly outside his window, the many potted plants standing tall in the sunshine. The sky, at this very moment, was glowing a vibrant shade of plum purple, a colour that in Blancher’s opinion, presented quite a magical vibe over the region – something he knew his fellow Verntropans had taken quite a fancy to in recent times.
Blancher belonged to the Dafwons, one of the four societies in Verntropa. Dafwons liked to think they most resembled the humans from Earth except, of course, for the perfectly placed patch of orange fur on their chests and their cat-like tails. That, and they were quite a bit shorter than the average fully grown human.
Although he didn’t like to admit it, Blancher was now considered middle-aged. His body ached when he got out of bed each morning. He could no longer swim the whole perimeter of the vast lake and, worst of all, he needed to wear spectacles all the time.
Blancher stroked his long, straggly beard – also orange – and glanced to the clock hanging above the stove in his kitchen. His son, Swatch – now his only son – would be home from his education in just two short hours. Blancher wiped a tear from his eye as memories of Swatch’s older brother, Hatch, filled his mind.
With a clear schedule and nothing to do until Swatch came home, Blancher decided to pour himself a cup of tea. The last few months had been unusually stressful for him. He’d been the Vice President of Verntropa for over ten years now, but he’d never experienced anything quite like the events of the last three months.
‘It’s over now, I no longer need to worry,’ Blancher repeated to himself. ‘Not for another fifteen years, at least. And a lot can happen in fifteen years.’
Yes, for now he was going to enjoy the fruits of what had been accomplished. Blancher smiled to himself again, took a sip of his tea, and gazed over the mountains in the distance, each one a different shade of pastel yellow, a stark contrast to how they’d appeared not too long ago.
Blancher’s admiration of the Verntropan backdrop was interrupted by the sound of his front gate opening. He couldn’t see that side of his yard from where he was sitting, but he could hear the footsteps approaching his door. He took note of the time, double checked his cleared schedule, made sure his message bank was empty, and quickly determined that he was, as he assumed, not expecting any visitors that afternoon.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
The knocking sounded urgent, which made Blancher’s nerves return. Reluctantly putting his teacup down, he walked over to the door, wondering if it would be better to simply ignore the visitor and pretend he wasn’t home.
‘Oh, it’s you,’ Blancher said, as he opened the door to his unexpected house guest who walked straight inside, not even pretending to wait for an invitation.
‘What you did was wrong, Blancher,’ he said, his height towering over Blancher’s short frame.
‘It might be considered polite to greet me with a hello before storming into my home and verbally attacking me, don’t you think?’ Blancher said, not at all happy about this intrusion on his home.
‘You won’t get away with this forever,’ the house guest said.
‘I did what I had to do. You, out of everyone, should know that. Survival of the smartest, the bravest.’
‘Is Swatch here?’
‘No, he is at education.’
The guest nodded and continued, ‘So, you only care about us then, not them? Not even—’
‘He isn’t one of us. He never was. As much as you like to pretend he is,’ Blancher said.
The guest threw his arms up in protest before retreating to Blancher’s lounge, and taking a seat.
‘But why? Why banish him? We were so close! You were the one who brought him here to help. He could have helped us avoid it… avoid all this!’
The guest pointed outside, as he rested his dirty shoes upon Blancher’s coffee table, which only infuriated him more. Blancher was a firm believer of manners and thought that any house guest should wait to be invited to make themselves comfortable in someone else’s home. Especially this one.
‘Banish. Pfft. It’s such a serious word. I simply sent him back to Earth. To his home. This isn’t his home. His family need him. It was wrong of me to bring him here in the first place.’ Blancher sighed; he really should have pretended not to be home.
‘You can’t hide from this forever.’
‘I’m hiding from nothing,’ Blancher said and turned to face the window, not wanting to look at his guest any longer.
‘We saw her, you know.’
The knot in Blancher’s stomach returned. The very knot he thought had finally disappeared.
‘Who’s that?’ Blancher said, even though he already knew the answer.
Blancher ignored his shaking hands and took a sip of tea; he knew better than to respond.
‘She told us about the prophecy. He’s expecting another child, Blancher. And it is she who will return in fifteen years, whether you like it or not. And these skeletons you think you’ve buried so well? They will be uncovered.’
Blancher felt the knot tighten harder. The fear that had lingered since this all began rose inside him once more. Still, his guest continued.
‘Swatch will know exactly what you’ve done. Everyone will.’
The fear consuming Blancher began to transform. It turned into anger and then grew into a blinding, white-hot fury, and he could no longer control himself.
‘Get out. Get out of my home! You and your… accusations… your threats. They are not welcome here!’
Blancher rose to his feet and his guest scurried across to the front door.
‘Look. I’m just telling you what you need to hear, treat me only as a messenger.’
‘Get out. You… You will never be one of us. I’ll make sure of it.’
‘Blancher, surely there’s no need—’
‘Leave. My decision is final. Do not dare bother me again.’
And with that, Blancher pushed his guest outside, and slammed the door behind him.