It’s not that she felt hopeless. She wasn’t even scared. Not really, anyway. It was the waiting that made this so hard.

Brad came back in. He wasn’t smiling. He hadn’t done so for a while now.

“I keep saying, the gene is usually carried by the father. And your dad has it."

They had been through this argument a dozen times in the last week, when Julia’s cancer had settled into the final stages. She’d been sitting in this bed ever since.

For the last century, humans had been mixing with the Visitors, seeing it as an opportunity to enter the new golden age of the human race. Just because her dad had a little alien in him, and was therefore able to come back, didn’t mean Julia did. The recessive alien gene was like a lottery, a morbid gamble: undetectable until after death. They called it the ‘Life Gene’.

“I’m not going to say goodbye,” Julia stated quietly. She took another kleenex from the nearly empty box.

Brad nodded slowly. What more was there to say?

He took her hand in his, and together they waited.

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