Women and Aliens month continues with “Down the Well” by Alaya Dawn Johnson.
Alaya is the author of speculative and historical fiction and has written six novels. Her stories have been featured in Asimov’s, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Welcome to Bordertown. She is also a recipient of the Cybils and Nebula awards.
“I enjoy watching children,” she said. “It comforts me to remember that I too was a child once, and one day they too will be old.”
Her shiny olive skin was firm, but even the best youth-treatments couldn’t hide the purple veins that snaked around her arms like cables. She appeared to be in well-preserved middle-age; only I and a few other agents knew the truth. Her eight remaining fingers were casually laced over a knobby walking stick that she carried for show. A particularly knowledgeable observer might have noted that the cherry-red wood was at once lighter and stronger than any known on Earth. Dr. Constance Roya was a scientist in the ancient sense, when that term implied at least as much of a reckless love for adventure as an appreciation of form and method and the furtherance of human knowledge.