This chapter is called tolerated, joy. I’ll bet Otis is trying to make us see the hatred directed towards Eve as irrational prejudice. Maybe Eve and Jeb will stage a sit in at the cafeteria counter when they refuse to serve her. Wouldn’t that just light a fire under this whole mess.
I’ve got news for you Otis, it’s not the same. The humans don’t have some grudge against Eve because her skin is a different color or because she’s from the pacific isles. She’s got a freaking alien in her, piloting her around! It’s not the same!
It was true that I did not smell good.
That’s the very first sentence in this chapter. That’s not all uncommon for Otis’s writing style. Why not simply ‘I didn’t smell good.’ or ‘I began to hate the stink of myself.’ Why must you infer that someone made a statement and that it’s true? It’s like she takes a simple concept or phrase and tries to make it as convoluted as possible.
‘Hmm, she sees a picture. No, too easy. A picture came into her view. Closer but not quite there. An image of photographed quality, printed on glossy stock wandered into view as her head swiveled about the room in search of it. There we, go. It’s long enough that I forgot how it started.’
Eve is on her way to take a bath. You know, I normally gripe about how many novelists try to pad their boring story out with an endless action sequence, Dan Brown being one such offender. But right about now I could settle for a car chase that ends in an unexplained explosion or a fistfight with a shadowy agent. Really, even a plane flying over a cornfield armed with a machine gun.
“Afternoon, ladies,” Jeb said, touching his forehead as if it were the brim of a hat.
See Jeb is from a different era, when things weren’t like they are now. Men held doors and tipped their hats while children played innocent games in the streets and there wasn’t all this newfangled technology. You know, when women could vote but knew they shouldn’t lest they get beaten, racism was acceptable though socially frowned upon and an environmental impact statement was when you drilled for oil.
I know he’s just supposed to be super polite and all but I hate him. Here is the man who, if this were a different franchise, would be worshipping the aliens as gods. He’d be knocking out his fellow humans and leaving their unconscious bodies in the same room as eggs and then feeding the aliens cats when they burst out.
Eve bathes, she washes her clothes, but did she use a fabric softener? Did a stuffed bear encourage her to use a dryer sheet? Does she prefer Gain over Tide? I’m going to have to go onto a forum later and discuss, in great length, why I believe she’s more of an off brand soap user to sate my love of detail.
Ian sees her at the bathing area and apologizes for hurting her. Aw, isn’t that cute. Next he’ll be queuing up for one of the brain slugs. Eve is, of course, baffled by this. Apparently Jackie Otis guards certain memories, like ones about apologies, jealously.
Next they go get food. Eve remembers working on the field. Eve lives an exceptionally boring life while everyone hates her except the few ‘nice’, read: stupid, people.
So in a world where there are intergalactic traveling space aliens, space ships and presumably lasers of some sort, we have to watch an alien live as a human. And not as an interesting human like a bounty hunter or assassin or even a phone technician. No, an alien that goes and lives in a hippie commune where everyone does their part willingly and they’re all just a bunch of shining happy people. The most excitement she has is when she goes to sleep or to the bathroom.
It takes a special kind of writer, Otis is no longer to be referred to as an author, to take the interesting out of aliens with cool toys. It’d be like starting off with a ninja who leaves their clan and enters the fast paced world of medical coding. You know, deep down, that there should be action and poorly thought out quips but you’re just not getting it.
Eve works out a sleeping arrangement, Eve learns how to make bread, Eve frets about Jamie. Eve panics when, while kneading dough, Jeb leaves her alone with other women for a few minutes. That’s when, to the surprise of all, one of them slips a kitchen knife out of her apron and stabs Eve in the kidney. Doc rushes in but he’s far too late to save her, or so he says as she bleeds out on the floor.
Then she has another panic attack when she realizes Jeb isn’t carrying the gun around any more. He plays dumb and says the following.
“Beats me,” Jeb said; he lied as only a human could, smooth and guileless.
Yes, because aliens just haven’t figured out lying. Even if they, as a society, don’t approve of it there are still those who would do it. And even assuming that by some wild stretch of the imagination that they don’t know how, couldn’t they just use their host memories to learn?
It’d be like getting inside a car with a voice activated instructional computer. It’d be nearly impossible not to pick something up. ‘Hm, I wonder how I start this thing?’ ‘Greetings and welcome to the SatStar help and navigation system. It looks like you’re trying to start the car, would you like some help? Say yes for more information.’ ‘I found this key shaped thing under the sun visor, I wonder if it has something to do with this vehicle.’ ‘To begin, simply insert the key into the ignition then turn the key until it is parallel to the word start on the keyway of the ignition column. Once you hear the engine turn over, release the key.’ ‘Hey, it seems to fit in this little vent before me though it doesn’t do anything.’ ‘Um, might I suggest the ignition switch? It’s right in front of you…’ ‘Perhaps I need to eat the key.’ ‘Put the goddamned key in the ignition you freaking moron! Twelve year olds can do this!’ ‘I just don’t understand these things like a human would. It’s so baffling. Oh no! I’ve stabbed myself in the eye!’
Eve asks Jeb later why they’re friends, a question I’ve been asking for awhile now. Apparently he thinks she’s just the nicest gal he knows and it’s kind of special to have a ‘soul’ as a friend. Yes, especially when it took your niece’s life for Eve to have one. That’s exactly the kind of friend I want, one that wears the skin of someone I knew. I’m just waiting for Eve to start a collection of ears from her victims only to have Jeb call it charming.
Eve goes about a bunch of errands. Jeb says he’s trying to get everyone used to her by quoting the frog and boiling water parable. My take is that he’s trying to get everyone killed in such slow ways that they don’t notice.
On one of those errands she sees Ian and asks why he hasn’t killed her yet. Well, he never knew Jackie Otis and thinks he has an easier chance with an alien that hasn’t yet learned to turn down awkward advances. Or it’s because he thinks it would be cruel to kill another misfit.
““Beats me,” Jeb said; he lied as only a human could, smooth and guileless.”
Maybe if they lie, their alien god will smite them where they stand…? As something interesting to happen? Not that it would…that would require someone dying…
Mm, and I just thought I’d ask: I realized we were on chapter twenty four, here, and couldn’t quite figure out where this story is supposed to be going…I mean, I know the twilight books had a significant lack of plot…but I could figure out what was coming after a while…
My only guess is that Eve is supposed to go native, finally choosing a planet to call home. All after hooking up with Ian after Jared gets his comeuppance for being the only sane man in the monkey house.
Wow, it’s as if you’ve read ahead. That is amazing, well done sir.
i wonder what Otis’s papers were like in school. grading her essays must have been a chore.
BTW, awesome HypnoToad reference back there