—After Rom Spaceknight #1, December 1979
It’s classic meet-cute. He’s a seven-foot cyborg on
a quest to rid the galaxy of an ancient evil.
She’s a small-town girl on her way home from work.
She swerves to miss him. He wrenches her back onto
the freeway. Stands there statuesque in
silver wetsuit and thigh boots, engine-block chest and
boxy head, blank apart from two red headlamp eyes.
He shines a light on her and flies away.
Later that night, in front of the Bijou, The Creature
from Space on the marquee, he turns two guys to piles
of ash like chalk outlines. Everyone runs
but her. He flies her to the outskirts of town, tells her
about the war in space. How he signed up for the cyborg
army. How her high-school buddies are
shapeshifting sleeper agents hiding in plain sight.
The National Guard cuts in. He chucks around some tanks
and jeeps. Ignores the bouncing bullets and
the flicking of flames against his armour. Turns the Sherrif
and the local barber to ash, then flies away again, leaving
the survivors to tell the tale of his arrival. It’s
Roger Corman meets Ernst Lubitsch. It’s a hell of a first date.
This poem was first published in Strange Horizons on 31 January 2022.
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