Emh’uib extended an appendage (arm, it was called an arm) in greeting to their new co-inhabitor. “Hello,” they said.
“Greetings,” the co-inhabitor replied, copying the motion and grasping Emh’uib’s hand with digits that vibrated pleasantly.
“I am Emh’uib,” they said, “But you may call me Emmy. By what utterance would you deign to be named?” They released the vibrating hand. It was probably long enough.
“Zak-otlog,” was the reply. “Or, perhaps, Zak.”
Emh’uib waved their hair in approval. “And what pronouns do you prefer? I use they/them.”
Zak grew a bit fuzzy at the edges, clearly lost in thought. “God/sir.”
“Thus noted,” Emh’uib said, settling their hair. What a reasonable human. “The chamber to the planetary north will be sirs to do with as god will. Mine is to the south. These others, I understand we will share.”
Zak smiled widely, showing mandibles that were politely still. “Acceptable. I will proceed to arrange my chamber now.”
Emh’uib closed the front door with a thought as their co-inhabitor (room-friend? room-mate?) glided through the northern doorway. Emh’uib was pleased to see that this gliding motion was a fair match to their own. Blending in with the humans would be simpler than they thought.
* * * * *
Emh’uib was observing the green plant in the central room, wondering idly if it would look better in purple, when Zak appeared in the doorway.
“I go now to meet with my worshipers. …Em-ploy-ees,” god said.
“Well wishes on your journey,” Emh’uib said, trying to remember if humans opened additional eyes when their primary ones were irritated by dust. The plant had released particles into the air.
“I thank you,” Zak said, gliding toward the doorway to the balcony. “And I compliment you on the decorative organism.” The plant stretched blue leaves higher.
“Much politeness in return,” Emh’uib said.
Zak was gone from the balcony a moment later, clearly not bothering with cumbersome modes of transportation like so many humans.
Emh’uib extended a tentacle into the next room to retrieve their own chosen means of communicating with worshipers: the laptop. They felt pride in this detail of their human camouflage. They could absorb soul energy directly through the screen.
As they settled down in a nest of cushions and end tables warped to a comfortable shape, waves of pleasure caused the plant to send leaves winging out the balcony door in a flurry of sparkling reds. These swirled around the other plant oozing across the floor, the furry deck chair, and the crystal that had once been a bird. Emh’uib didn’t notice the shoe that had fallen from the balcony above, but her influence gave it a fine layer of scales nonetheless.
* * * * *
“See??” Ben whispered, kneeling to look through the balcony slats.
“What am I looking at?” Jake asked, face pressed to the floor. A red leaf fluttered past him, and he flinched back in horror.
“See that thing that looks like a fish? That’s my shoe. At least it was yesterday. These guys just moved in, and I tell you, I am concerned.”
“I need to do some research,” Jake declared, eyes wide. “I just… I have a lot of things to google right now.”
“You do that,” Ben said. “I’m gonna talk to the rabbi.”
“If you run into them in the halls,” Jake said suddenly, “Offer to help them out. Show them how the elevator works or something. If you can’t be invisible, be invaluable.”
“Screw that; I’m not gonna be here.” Ben got to his feet with quiet haste. “I don’t want to wake up with scales tomorrow.”
“Fair point. Come stay at my place, and we’ll figure out what to do. Maybe they’re just living their lives, and they’ll give your shoe back if you ask!”
“Or maybe they’re eating people, and we’re already in danger. C’mon.”
The doorbell in the apartment downstairs rang. Ben and Jake froze long enough to hear a greeting and a panicked shriek, then they bolted for the door.
Meanwhile, Emh’uib adjusted the delivery human’s fear to worship, gave him a business card with their email address, and shut the door to enjoy their new fish tank. They had yet to decide whether to fill it with frogs or souls, but there was plenty of time to decide.