The friends were back, very much in evidence you might say, scuttling eagerly around the floor, weaving dexterously between our feet. ‘How eager the friends are’, I remarked to myself, moving my foot in distaste as one of them came just a little bit too close for comfort. I didn’t really want one of them to touch off me – it was bad enough to have to look at them, and to hear the excited chittering noises that they make as they mill around the station concourse. We all recoil from human contact of course – we’ve all been bred that way, brought up that way. Our lifelong conditioning is to shrink back from any human contact, any form of intimacy. Not that the friends are by any means human! The friends have what’s called a Chimeric genome – in a way they can become partially human, although not in a very nice way. It’s hard to say what else could be there in the friends’ artificial genome. At times they somehow look like great gray carp swimming around at our feet; at other times I fancied that I could see a bit of pigeon in them, or maybe rat. At times they can even look like people you know, or people that have been in the news. There are intelligent, there is no doubt of that; they also have well-developed social skills. Some tell jokes without any punchlines, others make comments about the weather. Sometimes they would engage a light harmless banter like faded radio show presenters. At other times they mutter indistinctly, like someone who has lost track of what they’re saying, like someone who is wondering in their mind. The friends have rudimentary telepathic abilities which allow them to address us by name, feigning familiarity, which is at the same time both comforting and horrific. They’re psychic parasites really of course – they manage to get closer by telepathically massaging our minds, causing us to feel fond of them, and then they feed off our psychic energy. They prune us ceaselessly. They grow fat and lazy, swimming around us with impunity, moving in huge predatory shoals. ‘How fat and lazy the friends have grown’, I remark again. It’s obvious they have nothing to fear from us. If we had any sense we would fear them of course. But we don’t – we don’t have any sense. We don’t fear them, we tolerate them. We turn a blind eye to their nefarious activities. The only time we react is when they accidentally touch off us – something wakes us up from our sleep then – the startling but very transient awareness of something unimaginably horrific. A nightmare, perhaps – something we suddenly remember and then immediately forget again.