As the days passed, Martha and John took turns tending to the egg. The incubator did most of the work. They just ensured that nothing bad was happening.
“John, what happens when this thing hatches?”
“What do you mean?”
“It will be hungry, I guess. What will we feed it?”
John had not thought about this before. “I should run into town. What do you think it will eat?”
Martha pondered for a moment. “We had better play it safe: get vegetables, meat and some grains.”
“Okay.” John grabbed the truck keys and hurried outside. At the door he turned, “You’ll be all right here by yourself?”
Martha glanced at the egg, and then back at John. She smiled and nodded.
John got into the truck, rolling it onto the street.
Martha turned towards the incubator, getting a chance to study the egg. She absentmindedly ran her hands along the amber colored glass, tracing the patterns of the egg. She jumped back suddenly as it moved.
Her husband had told her that if it started hatching, she was to remove it from the incubator, helping it hatch if it seemed troubled.
A hairline crack formed on the surface of the shell. Quickly, Martha removed the egg from the incubator, wrapping it in a warm towel. The watched patiently as the hairline crack grew larger, until she saw a small nub appear through the shell. The beak of the thing inside the shell made the hole larger until its deep green chitinous head emerged, blinking two mirrored eyes at Martha. Upon seeing her, a new drive filled the creature hatching. Appendages began to help dismantle the egg until the shell fell to pieces around it.
Martha looked to see a chubby insectoid biped. The creature had two arms, two legs, a tail, and a hard chitin shell. It held its forelegs towards Martha, who was at first shocked. Then she realized: it wanted her to pick it up.
“Poor little thing, you must be hungry.”
She bounced it on her hip slightly. “You don’t look like you can handle solid food yet, little guy. I wonder what you can eat.”
She walked towards the kitchen. While passing, she saw her breast milk pump. After the accident, the doctors told her to use this to remove excess milk. She really disliked doing this. It reminded her of how she lost Solomon.
She looked from the pump to the little creature in her arms.
“You don’t look too harmful,” she said to him. “I suppose if you promise not to bite.”
She sat down on a chair in the living room, allowing her better access for feeding the hatchling creature. The creature was allowed to suckle to its heart’s content.
At least, Martha supposed it had a heart.
When it had finished its meal, she set it over her shoulder and massaged its back. Surprisingly, the shell of the creature was not as hard as it looked. Soon, it emitted a tiny burp. Martha cradled it, and rocked it, singing a song her mother had once sang to her.
While she rocked the creature, she noticed something she had overlooked before: it was male.
John got home about an hour later. He carried several grocery bags into the kitchen. “Honey, do you think I should cook the meat first?”
He walked into the living room, “Hon…”
She held her finger over her mouth, shushing him. “He’s asleep.”
“The egg baby.”
In her arms she held the creature, wrapped in a small blanket. John came closer to get a better look at it. Getting over the fact that it looked very strange, he noticed that it looked peaceful and docile. It passively sucked on its thumb as it slumbered.
“Oh, and it doesn’t eat solid food, at least, not yet.”
John looked at her confusedly for a moment until he realized what she meant. A look of morbid horror crept onto his face.
“Don’t worry, dear, it’s all right. I might as well be doing something with it, you know?”
He would have to allow himself to adjust to this concept.
As he adjusted, he ventured into the kitchen to put the groceries away.
“Where will he sleep tonight?”
“What do you mean? Out in the barn or in the coop?”
“I meant, will we bring out the crib for him?”
“Honey, I don’t…” his words were interrupted by a look of “please don’t question what I’m doing” from his wife.
The door to the nursery had been closed since John put the child’s car seat within. They stood outside the room, Martha with the creature in her arms. John slowly reached for the doorknob, clicking it open. The door fell open with a long creak. The light from the hallway cast shadows in the room, eerie shadows.
John walked into the room, flicking a light switch upwards, filling the room with light, illuminating several tiny plastic clowns hanging from around the light at the ceiling.
The crib sat in the middle of the room. John removed the objects temporarily being stored within the crib and set them aside. He attempted to pick up the crib, managing to successfully drag it into his and Martha’s bedroom.
Once everything was resituated, Martha set the creature into the crib, tucking it into the sheets. She looked up to her husband, “There,” she whispered, “like an angel.”
“Like a shiny, green buggy alien,” joked John, who received a light slap from his wife.
“He’s a beautiful creature. You just have to look for it.”
“I can see it, don’t worry. He is kind of cute. What shall we call him?”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“I know, let’s call him Solomon.”
“That is a horrible idea, John. Horrible.” Tears formed at her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Honey, it was stupid. I’m really sorry.”
“I know you didn’t mean it John. I really do. It’s just so hard sometimes. I keep getting reminded of him.”
“It’s hard for both of us, Honey. We just need to move along, keep going forward.”
Martha was silent for a moment.
“I have an idea, John. Let’s name him Marvin, Marvin Michael Drost.”
“That’s a wonderful name, Honey.”
“I’ll see if I can get him christened. I’m sure it will be no problem.”
“That might not be a wonderful idea, Honey, as he is a strange creature. We don’t even know if he’s sentient. Also, it might raise some questions and bring around some nosey people, wondering about our bug child. I don’t think we want to announce to the whole world just yet that we have this creature.”
Martha processed this for a moment. “You’re right, John. Let’s make sure he’s intelligent before we start the college fund.”
“Either way, he still is adorable.”
The next morning, John worked in the fields. When he came home for supper, he saw Martha working the sewing machine. She was altering some baby clothes. Marvin sat on the floor, playing with a ball of yarn. He wore a diaper.
“Honey, what are you doing?”
“I’m fixing these clothes for Marvin. I don’t want him running around naked all the time.”
“There, Marvin, come here.” She held a shirt up to the creature. Marvin looked up at her, blinking his mirror-like eyes.
She wiggled the shirt in front of him. He raised his arms in the air, allowing her to slide the shirt over his body. She fastened a few buttons, then lightly pinched Marvin on his cheek equivalent.
“That fits him nicely.”
“One of my many talents,” she said, winking.
“I knew I married you for a reason.” He leaned over and kissed her.
Marvin crawled to his leg, then began making a squeaking noise as he raised his arms upward.
“He wants you to pick him up, John.”
John bent down and lifted the chubby bug. “You’re not so heavy, Marvin,” he said, surprised at how light the boy was.
Marvin stared into his eyes. Big mirrors stared at John. John stared back at John through the reflection in Marvin’s eyes. The image was occasionally disrupted by Marvin blinking.
John started thinking. He did not know from where Marvin came. Just the same, he did not know what exactly Marvin was. He had notions that Marvin was some space alien, which reminded him of the Superman comic featuring the origin of Superman: a small spacecraft lands on a farm. A farmer and his wife take on the child as their own, and he grows up to be a superhero.
John wondered if Marvin would grow up to be a superhero. He wondered even if Marvin had the intelligence level higher than the animals on the farm.
He held Marvin up to his face. “Are you going to be a superhero when you grow up, Marvin?” This caused Martha to have a confused look on her face. She had not read comic books when she was younger.
“Marvin Michael Drost,” said John in a mock announcer voice, “do you swear to defend and uphold the ideals of the American way, to protect the innocent, to punish the guilty, and to promote freedom from sea to shining sea? Do you swear to do your best to maintain peace and prosperity with the powers that you have been granted by our yellow sun?”
“John, what are you saying?”
John was back to reality. “Sorry, Honey, got carried away. Have I ever told you about Superman?”
She shook her head.
His answer was stifled as Marvin’s hands pressed against both sides of his face. Marvin gently turned John’s face so that they were staring at each other.
The big mirrored eyes closed solemnly. Marvin nodded his head in reverence.
If this had not convinced John that Marvin was moderately intelligent, what happened next would certainly have:
Marvin embraced John squeaking something that sounded all too much like the word “daddy.”
“Honey,” John said.
“We had better get that college fund after all.”