The carrion-eating trilobites had deserted room 431. They hadn’t killed any of the people who had been in the room when the alarms went off, but once they escaped their tank they began nibbling on a tourist who had fallen and died in the panic. Once most of that body was eaten, the trilos scuttled out. Only two remained – Daphne, who was daintily gnawing on the few scraps of flesh on the tourist’s skeleton; and Reginald, who eyed her whistfully from afar through his segmented eyes.
“Daphne?” he said.
“Oh… Nothing,” Reginald said, his carapace reddening.
“Ok,” Daphne said, going back to eating.
Reginald gritted his mandibles and scuttled away. He had not gone far when he stopped, took a deep breath, and screwed up his courage again. He turned, and spoke clearly and with effort.
“Well, actually it isn’t nothing,” he said. “Daphne, would you like to go out with me for a coffee?”
“Reginald, that’s very sweet,” Daphne said, her antennae twitching sadly.
“But we’re extinct invertebrates from the distant past,” Daphne said. “We have no concept of courtship over coffee – or movies, or clubbing or any sort of evening out, really. Our mating rituals are simple and instinctive.”
“I know,” Reginald said. “But maybe… maybe we could be the first?”
“Oh, Reginald,” Daphne said. “I… I don’t know. Everything’s all over the place at the moment, what with being the subject of time travel experiments and then the alarms going off and what have you. Don’t you think we should leave it until a better time?”
“Will there be a better time?” Reginald asked.
“I… I just don’t know.”
Reginald’s antennae drooped.
“Besides,” Daphne said. “I’m not sure I trust the coffee in this place.”
She gestured with some legs to a coffee-spill in the corner of the room, which was surrounded by the corpses of three trilobites that had tried to drink it.
“Yes,” Reginald sighed. “Yes, I suppose you are right.”
Daphne went back to eating.
“I…” Reginald began. “Never mind.”
He scuttled out of the room and down the corridor. He wasn’t heading any direction in particular – just scuttling for the sake of scuttling. He passed scenes of carnage and chaos, skirted by fallen vending machines and people running. Here and there, there were pitched battles between schools of trilobites and stray humans. Elsewhere, a human sized trilobite armed with a blood-stained katana was chasing stray nuns.
Reginald sighed. He had no idea where he was. He ought to go back to his room. Daphne was… No it was never going to work out with Daphne. Perhaps just going back and being a friend to her was the…
A segment of wall swung open, and two humans emerged.
“Well, no sign of the idiot here,” said one, speaking in the language of the humans.
“Why are there so many secret passages?” the other said. “And why does… Oh, hello, little guy.”
Before he could flee, the human scooped Reginald up in its fleshy hand.
“Careful, those things are killers,” the other human said.
“I have seen no evidence of that,” said the human who held Reginald. “So far, anyway. And look, he’s lost… alone… I’ll take him with us.”
“No time. Come on, the ninjas may have got him.”
Reginald gasped as he was slipped into the human’s pocket.
“It just gets better, doesn’t it?” he said, bitterly. Though honestly, he was happy just to feel wanted.