Noisy street sounds clamoring to be heard swirled around Polly. As she strolled this darkening stretch of 42nd Street, however, it was only Everett’s words that she heard.
“That’s ridiculous,” Polly said. “No, it’s worse than ridiculous. It’s pathetic. If the street people are all aliens, then — look around you, Everett — they’ve already infiltrated our world.”
"Well, sort of,” Everett replied. “But they’re different. They’re street people, don’t you see? They can’t take good care of themselves like you and me because they’re not really human, but parasites with a human shape. Grandma used to say that they really look like an earthworm or a slug. It is ridiculous, I agree, but you know how grandmothers are.”
“I’ve never met your grandmother, Everett. Although I’d like to.”
Polly, still holding her box of leftovers, descended into the depths of the subway with Everett trotting at her side.
“Where does your Grandmother live?”
“Oh she’s in a rest home now. In Albany. I’ll take you with me the next time I visit. I’m sure she’d love to meet you.”
Polly’s booted heels clacked against the littered tunnel. Everett’s voice echoed hollowly against graffiti-covered walls reeking of urine and cigarettes.
“How much further are we going? It’s really spooky down here.”
“Just a little more,” Polly said. “There’s someone special I want to check on. Tell me more about your grandmother’s theory. It’s an interesting story. Even if it is a bit far-fetched. What’s her name? I feel like I know her already.”
“Ellen. Her name is Ellen Dodge. People say that I look a lot like Grandma Dodge. We have the same slate-blue eyes and, before she got gray, her hair was sandy-blond like mine. There really isn’t much more to tell. Apparently the Sluggards have a way of wrapping around a victim and absorbing them to take over their human shape. Gross, huh? According to Grandma, this leaves them so weak, physically, that they must live the remainder of their new lives as bums and street people. She used to speculate, however, that the Sluggards were breeding new life forms down here in the subway tunnels. Funny, huh? Caretakers, she called them.”