Copyright © 2016 David Gallie
The remnants of my dream, whatever it might have been about, quickly faded as the shaft of early morning light fell on my bed and forced me to wake up. Laying there, trying to get my bearings, I noticed that my whole body seemed to be aching. It was a kind of dull, constant throbbing that seemed to come from the center of my bones and emanate outwards.
Pulling the duvet to the side, I swung my legs out of bed and padded to the small bathroom. The girl staring back at me in the mirror above the sink didn’t look as bad as she felt inside. My blonde hair, which reached way past my shoulders, could be doing with a good scrub, but there was something else that caught my attention.
My skin. As someone who has a phobia of the outside world, it wasn’t often that I left the house during the day, maybe only for an hour or two at most, and that was to see my father in the fields before returning straight back home. Yet, as I studied myself in the mirror, I noticed that my normally pale complexion was much darker than it had been the day before. Not too dark, like I had been sunburned.
I could see my own look of confusion in the mirror which only deepened when I caught site of my eyes. They were normally a dark green, but now, they were brighter, almost luminous in fact. More disconcerting than that they were moving. The intricate pattern surrounding the pupil was oscillating slowly the closer I looked.
I could feel a small ball of fear rising in my belly as I watched my own eyes shift and change under their new found brightness. Coupled with my darker skin tone, I was starting to get worried, but if anyone could help me make sense of it all it would be my father.
You would think I would go running to my mother first, but ever since I turned eighteen a few months ago she seemed to have drawn away from me. She rarely spoke to me except at meal times and I couldn’t help but feel like I had done something to offend her, but no one was saying what that was.
My father, Mike, on the other hand, has never changed. In fact, he’s kind of taken on the role of both parents and I found myself going to him more and more.
Heading back to my bedroom, I quickly slipped out of the shorts and t-shirt I liked to wear to bed, along with last night’s underwear and quickly got myself dressed. There was a sense of panic rising inside me as I glanced at my skin. It was still that same golden colour and I knew for certain that I had been pale as a milk bottle when I slipped into bed the night before.
Once I was dressed, and my hair braided, I headed downstairs to the front door. I could see my mother, Joan, briefly glance at me with disdain from the living room as I made my way down the hall and outside.
I lived on a small Wheat farm set in the heart of America. The air was always fresh and the sun seemed to shine more than it rained, which was one of the many reasons I choose to stay indoors most days. The heat was too much for me. I simply couldn’t handle it.
Mike always told me I was just like my mother in that sense, even though she had stated many times that she loved the sun, and would happily bathe in it all day if she didn’t have to work on the books for a lot of local companies. You see my father was the farmer but my mother was an accountant, and she had set up her own little business serving the local community while Mike busted his ass out on the fields.
The fresh air brushing against my skin actually felt nice this time as I rushed down the front steps of the porch, scanned the horizon, spotted Mike near the fence a few feet away from the barn, and ran to him.
‘Oh my god, you actually came out of the house,’ said Mike, giggling. I could see that youthful spark in his eyes even if his face was starting to show his age.
‘Dad, look at me,’ I said, trying to catch my breath.
I took a step back, twirled, thinking he would get to see how much my skin tone had changed.
‘Okay, you’re still as beautiful as you were yesterday when I saw,’ he said, the smile was gone and instead he was giving me a curious look.
‘Dad, come on. My body is changing, look at my eyes,’ and it was as I stared at him with my new found moving irises that I saw his gaze falter.
‘Umm, I don’t think this is the kind of conversation you want to be having with your father. Your mother is a woman, you should speak to her,’ he said, and I could tell he was deliberately trying to avoid the subject.
‘Oh come on, I haven’t left the house for three days and yet I look like I’ve spent a week on a Florida beach,’ I said, starting to get annoyed with him.
‘Yeah well, your skin tone is a little darker,’ he said, sighing.
It was then I noticed there was something a little different about my father’s demeanour. It was as like there was an invisible wall growing between us. A barrier where there hadn’t been one before.
That killed me inside. He was my last link to the outside world, and about the only person that seemed to give a damn about me. I needed to know what was happening to my body.
‘Take a good look at my eyes and tell me they’re not moving dad,’ I demanded this time.
I needed him to care enough to look, and he did, but when his eyes met mine, I could see his face fill with sadness.
‘Yeah, I can see that honey,’ he said, leaning against the fence and rubbing at his eyes.
‘Whats happening to me dad?’ I pleaded, feeling tears prick at my eyes as the panic rose up again.
‘Well, puberty does strange things to a girl…’
‘Oh please, don’t treat me like I’m stupid. Apart from the fact that I’m eighteen and long past puberty, I know for a fact most woman’s eyes don’t start moving like revolving doors when they do come of age,’ I cried, feeling more hurt than angry that he would try to brush me off like that.
I honestly thought out of all the people in my life he would be the one treat me like an adult. But it seemed even my father had his limits. I could hear the sound of crunching gravel behind me. When I turned to see my mother approach, her own expression was a picture of sadness.
‘Why don’t you just tell her,’ she said, her eyes immediately averting from my gaze and instead choosing the gravel she stood on as a better substitute than looking at her own daughter.
‘Tell me what, what is happening to me?’
‘Did you make the call?’ Asked Mike, I could see his eyes growing watery as he spoke to my mother. Those tear stained eyes of his were the closest to a chink in his armour I had ever seen.
‘I did, and I think we should take the time to explain to her what’s going on,’ said my mother, ignoring me and talking directly to my father.
‘I’m standing right here god damn it,’ I screamed, tears trickling from my eyes and rolling down my cheeks.
‘Helen, baby, I’m sorry I’ve been acting like such a bitch towards you this last year but there are some things you need to know about yourself,’ she said, moving closer to me like she wanted to hug me, but her arms remained by her sides as if I had some kind of disease she could be infected with.
‘You’re not human,’ blurted my dad, and I could feel my jaw drop as I turned to look at him.
‘What your father means, is that you might look human, but the truth is you don’t come from this world,’
I felt numb inside. The changes happening to my body were scary enough but to be told you’re not even human was like a knife to the heart. I could feel a fresh onslaught of tears as I stood there trying to figure out what the hell was happening. Was this just some kind of bad dream that I would wake up from?
Then, just as I was starting to convince myself that was indeed the case, I felt my mother, for the first time in a year, put her hand on my shoulder. It had been so long since I felt her touch that it felt almost alien.
‘I know this is all a shock, Helen. Trust me it’s something me and your father spent the last eighteen years hoping to avoid, but your body is obviously changing for a reason and we think it’s only fair that you know the truth.’ She said her eyes full of sorrow.
I let the cool air brush against my skin as it all sank in. At that point in time, I had never felt so alone and I just wanted to curl up into a ball and die. Then I felt my brow furrow as I recalled my father asking if my mother had made the call.
What call? And to whom?
‘Who did you call?’ I asked, turning to face my mother as I wiped my tears away.
She shot my father a nervous glance before returning her attention to me.
‘The organisation who asked us to look after you told us to notify them when you started to change. Their sending an agent to try and help you understand what’s going on,’ she said, taking a step back in case I got angry, which was a very rare occurrence.
‘Great, so now I’m just an asset. Something to be cared for until my owner returns?’ I cried, feeling more tears prick at my eyes but I would be damned if I let them escape this time.
‘Helen it’s not like that,’ said Mike, his voice low as if the nearby crows would somehow overhear his words and carry them to the next town, ‘when we were approached all those years ago, we had already been trying to have a baby. So when the two agents arrived at our door with you in their arms all we thought of was how much you would complete our family. We never saw you as different despite knowing that you were.’
‘So where am I from then?’ I asked, in fact, it was more of a demand.
‘We don’t know and back then the agents didn’t know either. But they did show us proof of the shuttle you arrived in,’ said my father his cheeks flushing red with guilt.
‘I can’t take any more of this,’ I said, storming back to the house. I felt angry, heartbroken and somehow empty as I slammed the front door and ran for my bedroom.
I spent the rest of the day alone in my bedroom. My emotions swung from one end of the spectrum to the other. Sometimes I would just burst into tears and then following them was a deep sense of anger.
I had always felt like an oddball through most of my life. I was awkward. I couldn’t handle being in crowds, more because of the noise than anything else. That wasn’t to say I didn’t like any of the other members of the human race, I really just never took the time to get to know them better than I should have.
That was something I was going to have to deal with when I moved on to college, which was now looking more like a distant dream. My whole world had begun to crash down around my ears from the moment I had opened my eyes. Those freaky green eyes which wouldn’t stop moving no matter how hard I willed them to.
My new, slightly darker skin tone, I could explain away, but not the eyes. They betrayed me, much like how I felt my parents had betrayed me. A few hours after locking myself in the room, my mother had knocked on the door to make sure I was okay. I barked back that I was fine and that was it.
Mike had stayed clear of me completely. He seemed to prefer the company of the crows as I watched him from my bedroom window while he fiddled with the tractor. Pretending to find things that needed adjusting which would eat up most of his day so he didn’t have to deal with the drama at home.
As my anger flitted to frustration, I sat down on the edge of the bed and tried to ignore the knot of nervousness in my stomach. My parents had said that someone was coming to see me. An agent, which to me, sounded ominous. But apparently, this agent would be able to help me.
I wondered if they would be able to stop my eyes from moving. Then at least I would be able to carry on with my life and not worry about the fact that I wasn’t even born on this planet.
As I tried to calm the swirling mass of thoughts in my head, I could feel my body relax until I was laying down on my side. I hadn’t realized I was so tired, because when I closed my eyes to stop them from stinging, I found myself drifting away.
I never remember my dreams, even though I wake up with that sense of knowing that I had them. It was the sound of muffled cries coming from across the hallway which made my eyes spring open.
I was still laying on my side, where I had originally fallen asleep, but a glance towards the bedroom window told me that I was well into the night. I could see the stars and the moon high above in the inky black sky.
Swinging my legs off the bed, I moved quietly to the bedroom door. Planting my ear to the worn, glossy wood, I listened for any other sounds. There was a moment of silence followed by something that sounded like a muzzled gunshot.
My heart jumped a notch and began to race as the sounds of heavy booted feet started towards my room. There were no discernible voices. Not my mother or my father, but there was someone out in the hallway and they were heading towards me.
As I took a few steps away from the door, panic starting to uncoil in my gut like a serpent, I tried to think of a way out of the room. The bedroom window was built against a flat wall with nothing but a large drop to the gravel below. I felt certain going that way would mean having to break a bone or five, and despite the fact I could be facing death from the intruders, I wasn’t quite willing to make the leap.
There was a rattle as the intruder tried the door handle. I watched, heart in my mouth, as they put their body weight against the door and tried to force it open. I opened my mouth, ready to scream, but I didn’t have to. The handle rattled one more time before there was the sound of a silenced shot and then a loud thud as whoever was on the receiving end hit the floor.
For a second or two, there was no other noise, and then again came the sound of another silenced shot followed by a second heavy thud that I felt through the floorboards.
What took me by surprise was the knock on my room door. It disarmed me because I expected anyone with a gun, and the willingness to use it, wouldn’t knock politely.
‘Everyn, are you in there?’ It was a man’s voice, deep, strong and authoritative.
‘Who are you?’ I shouted back, eventually finding the courage to use my voice.
‘I’m agent Jones, your parents called me because you need my help,’ he called back, his voice calm and unwavering.
‘I’m not a damn alien,’ I cried, but there was no real power behind my words and this agent Jones fellow seemed to recognize that.
‘I can assure you that you are very much alien. I know this is a lot to take in, but I was one of the agents who dropped you off at this house eighteen years ago when you were just a baby,’ he said.
What made me unlock the door were those last words. He was the one my parents had called to come for me. I had no idea what all the commotion outside the hallway had been about, but my need for answers meant I was willing to look.
As I unclipped the lock, the man on the other side turned the handle and gently pushed the door open as I stepped back. Almost immediately I could see the silenced pistol in his hand as he stood there in a smart black suit. His cropped brown hair sat atop a face that looked both caring and worn by age.
At his feet lay two men, who were very much dead. They were dressed in military camouflage gear. Their lifeless eyes stared up at him, while he smiled at me, which was disarming, to say the least. If it hadn’t been for the gun I would have easily mistaken him as some sort of salesman, you know the kind that once you open the door to them refuse to leave until you’ve signed your life away.
‘Who are they?’ I asked, pointing at the dead men, my jaw slack with horror.
‘They are part of the reason why I’m here to collect you Everyn,’ he said, tucking the gun back into the holster hidden by his suit jacket.
‘Why do you keep calling me that, my name is Helen?’ I growled and wondered if this man before me had ever dealt with a pissed off teenager before. Especially one who has spent most of her life on a farm.
‘That’s your name,’ he said, and I threw my hands up in disgust, realizing there was no point in arguing with him, ‘and I must say, you look absolutely stunning now. I can see how your eyes have changed. It must have been hard trying to hide those babies.’
Normally I longed for someone to make and keep eye contact with me so at least I could tell they were serious, but this time, it was me who glanced away, feeling my cheeks flush red with embarrassment. I had heard similar compliments before, but only from my parents, so they didn’t really count. However, the same compliment from a complete stranger, with two dead bodies at his feet, was enough to make me blush.
‘They only started moving this morning,’ I murmured.
‘I can see your skin tone has changed too, must be something going on with your biology,’ he said, stepping over the body closest to him and putting his hand out for me to shake it, ‘As I said, I’m agent Jones, and I’m here to help you.’
Cautiously, I put out my hand. As his hand engulfed mine, I glanced down at the dead men. An alarming thought suddenly sprang to the front of my mind.
‘Where are my mother and father?’ I asked, my voice wavering a little as I suspected the news I was about to receive wasn’t going to be good.
I could see the expression on Jones’ face change as his smile faded.
‘I’m sorry Everyn, but I couldn’t get here in time to save them,’ he said, his voice dropping as he let go of my hand.
I could feel the blood in my veins freeze as my heart felt like it was shattering inside my chest. The two people who had loved and protected me for eighteen years of my life were gone. Sent to an early grave all because of me.
Tears pricked at my eyes and began roll down my cheeks. My body started to tremble and even the big agent standing next to me didn’t seem to know what to do.
‘I really am sorry, I did try to get here as quickly as I could,’ he said.
‘Why…why did they kill them? Why did they have to do that?’ I looked up at Jones, my eyes pleading with him for answers.
The big man adjusted his tie and cleared his throat as he tried to put the words together which would explain the reason why my parents were murdered.
‘Listen, we can’t hang around here for much longer. What I can tell you right now is that your parents died trying to stop these men from taking you away,’ his words sounded sincere, and although normally I had a habit of mistrusting everyone I came into contact with, he did seem to be genuine.
‘Can I see them?’ I asked, hoping to say goodbye in spirit if nothing else.
There was a brief look of shock on Jones’ face before he shook his head. He didn’t need to tell me what kind of condition they were in. That brief look that flashed across his worn face was enough to tell me I wouldn’t like what I saw.
‘I really don’t think that’s a good idea Everyn. You should try and remember them as they were,’ he said, stepping away from me and stretching his hand out for me to take it, ‘Please, we need to go. I’m here to keep you safe, but there will be more of them on the way once those two don’t check in.’
Sucking up the remaining tears, I gingerly grabbed hold of his hand and like a little kid I let him lead me out into the hallway, past the blood-stained walls, past the open door to my parents’ bedroom where I knew they had met their end, and out of the house.
The cool night air felt good as it brushed against my hot skin. Jones led me a few feet away from the front porch and over to where his black Mustang sat. I will admit that I had never been a car freak in any way, but this thing looked like it ate tarmac for breakfast.
Once I was in the passenger seat, Jones motioned for me to put my seatbelt on as he joined me in the front of the car. If he was worried about a fresh round of killers coming to kidnap me, it didn’t show on his face. In fact, he didn’t look like the type of guy that got worried about many things in life. Which was something I admired since I pretty much worried about everything. Although, most of the things I concerned myself with, such as not fitting in at school, suddenly seemed quite small in comparison to my new set of problems.
‘Hold on,’ he said, and with that, he started the car engine.
There was a mighty roar before it settled into a rhythmic purr. Then he threw it into gear and with a brief burst of gravel flying behind us, we were speeding down the driveway and out onto the country road which would lead us towards town.
As my parents’ farmland gave way to more fields, I could feel my heart rate begin to settle to something that felt more normal. Once I was comfortable enough, I turned to look at the big agent who had his eyes firmly on the road.
‘Why did you give me to my parents all those years ago? I’ve read lots of science fiction and watched just as much, I would have thought an alien baby would have had a pretty decent price tag on its head,’ I said, unsure if I would get much in the way of answers, but to my surprise he glanced at me briefly as if considering my question before answering.
‘The truth is, back then we had no real idea what we were dealing with when we found you. What we did know, was that none of us were equipped to handle a baby, alien or not, so it was suggested by my old mentor Agent Kline, that you be given to a couple who would raise you as their own. Of course, we remained in constant contact with your parents all through the years,’ he said, and I could see his normal granite façade soften a little as his mind went back all those years.
‘Why them? Why did you pick them to look after me?’
‘That’s an easy one. There was actually two reasons. We knew from their medical records that your father was sterile and incapable of helping your mother conceive, which was something she desperately wanted. Then there was the location of the farm itself. It was so far out of the way, that we felt confident no one would be able to track you there.’
Basically, they picked the weakest couple they could find in one of the remotest parts of the country, in the hope that this little alien baby would be kept safe and well.
‘Okay, but those guys back in the house found me,’ I said, feeling confident that he wouldn’t be able to get out of that one so easy.
‘Yeah, after eighteen years remember. These people haven’t stopped trying to find you since the day you arrived on Earth, and they won’t stop anytime soon,’ he said, his eyes dancing between me and the road ahead.
‘Okay, who are these people?’
‘They’re a special division of the CIA known as The Solars. They track and monitor every object entering and leaving the atmosphere. You, young lady, are their ultimate prize,’ explained Jones’ easing the powerful car round a sharp bend.
‘So, what part of the government do you work for?’ I asked, genuinely curious now more than anything.
‘Oh I don’t work for the government,’ he said, his smile returning.
I felt stunned that my government sponsored protector, was in fact, not a government employee at all, as he drew the car to a stop in the parking lot of the Little Shamrock motel. I rarely ventured into town with either one of my parents, but this place was a familiar site since it was one of the first buildings you would see before heading deeper into the town.
‘What do you mean you don’t work for the government,’ I asked, starting to feel a little nervous.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll explain in a few minutes. We need to get a room for the night before we head out in the morning,’
I quickly followed after him as climbed out of the car. If he was worried about keeping me close by, his body language suggested he wasn’t all that bothered. Although, I’m sure he must have realized just how scared and confused I was feeling inside.
There was a strong smell of disinfectant hanging in the air of the small office as we entered. It was like the owner had soaked the place in it to hide the fact that nothing had been cleaned over a year.
‘Hi there, you two looking for a room for the night?’ Asked Alice, the middle-aged woman chewing gum behind the reception desk.
‘Yes, we would please. Two separate beds if you have a room like that?’’ said Jones’ taking out his wallet.
In that brief moment, I was able to see his ID card and the first thing I noted was that the picture on the card was a bald man with a scar on his cheek. He looked nothing like the big man standing next to me, and yet to my amazement, when he handed the card over to the receptionist she glanced at it, shrugged, and then handed it back to him before accepting the small bundle of bills he held in his hand.
It looked like a lot of money for a single night in a rather sleazy looking motel, but from what I could tell Jones didn’t seem to be lacking money judging by the numerous bills still tucked into his wallet.
He smiled at me as he took the room key from Alice and slipped his wallet back into his pocket. There was a glint in his eye as he walked past me to head back out to the parking lot.
‘Let’s go,’ he said, studying the number on the key as I trailed behind him.
‘Okay, that doesn’t make any sense,’ I said.
‘What doesn’t?’ He asked, looking at me with a frown as we continued down the row of doors, towards the one we would be spending the evening in.
‘That ID card you handed her didn’t even have your picture on it,’ I said, feeling utterly confused.
‘Ah, I’ll explain all soon enough,’ he said, stopping at room twenty-three and sliding the key into the lock. Again he did something else inexplicable. He turned the key three times to the left before turning it to the right to unlock it. ‘After you,’ he said, pushing the door open and stepping aside for me to enter first.
The room itself was actually pretty decent. The beds had clean sheets, the air smelled relatively fresh compared to that of the office, and the lamps on the small night stands provided enough light for me to see but not too much to hurt my eyes. Light sensitivity was something I had neglected to tell anyone about. Over the course of the last six months, my eyes would become painful when the light was too bright.
I turned to watch Jones’ lock the door and again he turned the key three times to the left before turning the lock once to the right and then removing the key, which he dropped into his trouser pocket.
‘Alright, what the hell is going on. Who do you really work for if you’re not a government agent, and what’s with all the weird shit like carrying an ID card with someone else’s face on it and turning that damn lock so many times in the same direction.
The smile faded from his face, although his eyes did seem to dance with delight at my annoyance. He motioned for me to take a seat on the nearest bed as he slipped off his suit jacket, revealing a broad-shouldered frame and the holster that carried his gun.
‘You’re even prettier when you pout,’ he said.
‘Stop messing with me!’ I cried.
‘Look, calm down. I work for a private company called The Stargazer Foundation, or as we’re more affectionately called, The Goon Squad,’ there was not a single note of sarcasm or humour in his voice.
‘Why the Goon Squad?’
‘Because the foundation is owned by three of the largest crime families in America. All the money poured into the foundation comes from the sale of guns and narcotics plus other nefarious business practices, In the old days, a gangster was called a goon, and since I technically work for a crime syndicate that makes me, and all the other agents, goon’s.’ he said, his expression turning to stone which left me with no way to gauge if he was lying, although there was a part of me that could sense he was very serious.
This time, I took up the offer of the bed and let myself slump down with a frustrated sigh. In the space of a few hours I had learned I was an alien, had my parents killed by people looking to kidnap me, and now this man who claimed to be part of a criminal organization that was trying to protect me. My head was positively spinning and I didn’t know whether to feel worried or safe.
I looked up and watched as he took a seat on the opposite bed. His blue eyes staring directly at me. I could see he was trying to figure out what to say next before the words left his mouth, and I appreciated that. Not everyone took the time to think before they spoke.
‘I know this all seems like utter madness, but it can be explained and it will once we reach New York,’ he said.
I could feel my eyes shoot open with surprise. New York was a three hundred mile trip from where we currently were, and I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to travel that distance in a car with a man who pretty much admitted to being a criminal.
‘That’s hundreds of miles away. Why New York?’ I asked, this time, I kept my voice low since I suddenly had the feeling that we were being watched, which was unsettling, to say the least.
‘Because that’s where the foundation is based, and it’s where we can keep you safe from The Solars. Plus, when we get there, everything will become much clearer and you should be able to understand more about yourself,’ he said, again there was not a detectable trace of a lie in his voice, but his eyes kept averting from mine which made it hard to tell if he was being really truthful.
Then something hit me. It was like a bolt out of the blue, but as I cast my mind back to the way he locked the door I suddenly realized he had been here before. That wasn’t some random OCD thing he was doing with the lock, there was a reason behind it and I wanted to know what it was.
‘Why did you turn the lock three times before coming in and three times before coming out?’
I watched as he got to his feet, walked over to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a whiskey. He held the bottle out to me but I shook my head. I had never drunk alcohol in my life and never really had the urge to do so even at that point in my rather messed up life.
‘This motel is owned by the foundation. Each room has a special combination built into the lock which transmits a signal back to HQ. Right now, around forty people are watching monitors which cover this entire building. They’re essentially watching out for the bad guys approaching and should give us plenty of notice before they arrive. That’s if they figure out that you’re here,’ he said, sipping his drink and smacking his lips at the bitter taste.
‘Why is it always me? Why not because we’re here,’ I bemoaned, starting to feel like that was all I did.
‘Because you’re the one that came from another planet. I’m really just another regular Joe,’ he said, shrugging his shoulders as he sat down on the edge of the bed with his drink.
I could feel the sting of his words even if he hadn’t intended to offend me. It just hurt to be constantly reminded that I didn’t belong, and more to the point, as I thought about my situation, I realized that I might even have been sent to Earth because I wasn’t wanted in my own world either. Talk about someone giving you a massive hint to go away, by sending you god knows how many thousands of miles across the galaxy to a new planet.
‘If you’re a gangster, then surely you’re not the type of guy to believe in aliens and all that kind of stuff? That seems way too geeky for someone like you,’ I said, narrowing my eyes at him as I tried to figure out just how much he could be trusted.
‘Ah, actually everyone employed at the foundation has to believe in aliens, and we even have to take a lie detector test just to prove that we do. Although I will admit when agent Kline approached me to join the foundation I thought it was initially a joke until he showed me something that completely changed my life. From then I’ve been a believer,’ he said, taking another sip of his drink.
‘What did he show you?’ I was curious now.
‘You.’ Said Jones, gulping down the rest of his drink.
We took a bed each for the remaining hours leading up to dawn. I lay awake the entire time, watching and listening as the big man across from me snored his heart out. I was uncertain how I should feel about this stranger, who had by all accounts, had saved my life twice. Once as an infant and the other just a few hours ago from a state-sponsored group called The Solars.
It was all pretty mind numbing and it left me feeling like I was alone. Even as Jones slept under my watchful gaze, I couldn’t shake the notion that I was quickly becoming a bargaining chip. Something that would be valuable to possess for as long as I was still breathing.
That brought on another worry that had only just started to creep into my mind. If the government was after me, and they didn’t seem to have any problem killing the people who got in their way, then what were their plans for me?
I had seen and read a lot of science fiction, most of which usually involved an alien being either tortured or dissected in some horrible way. Humans could be very barbaric when they found themselves dealing with something they didn’t understand. And that made me wonder if that was the kind of fate waiting for me.
Was agent Jones protecting me in the same way a company would protect a valuable asset? Was I nothing more than a commodity to the people he worked for?
As those thoughts played out in my mind I realized that there really wasn’t that many people I could trust. Two of them were already dead, which basically left me on my own because Jones didn’t seem like the type to want to hang around with an alien for any length of time.
Swinging my legs off the bed, I made my way to the room door. I felt certain I had been quiet enough not to wake him but as I glanced over my shoulder, I was surprised to see that he was bracing himself with his elbows, staring at me with those impenetrable blue eyes of his.
My face flush red with guilt as if I had been caught stealing.
‘Where were you going?’ he asked, no hint of accusation or anger in his voice.
‘I don’t want to end up on the operating table of some deranged government-sponsored scientist,’ I said, tears welling in my eyes as the fear and frustration rose up.
‘Do you really believe that I, or the foundation for that matter, would really let that happen?’ he asked, sighing as he sat up.
He checked his gun was still there and seemed grateful to feel its weight.
‘I don’t know what to think. I’m eighteen years old. I’ve been told I’m from another world and the only two people I’ve ever known are both dead because of me. I have no idea what you or your company plan to do to me and…’ then came the tears, ‘…and I feel so utterly alone and scared.’
Before I knew it, Jones was off the bed and wrapping his arms around me. The musky scent of his aftershave was comforting as he held me close while I blubbered like an idiot into his shoulder.
‘You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone as long as I’m still breathing,’ he said, his voice almost as low as a whisper.
‘I don’t understand why it has to be like this?’
‘None of us gets to pick our fate I’m afraid. We just have to work with the cards we’re handed,’ said Jones, pushing me away long enough to look at me with a smile.
I watched him, taking comfort in the way he held me, as he glanced over at the small clock on the wall. It was almost six a.m. and it was still dark outside. I remember I used to love waking up early to find the world was still shrouded in darkness. It had that creepy, ethereal feel to it which I kind of liked.
‘You ready to hit the road?’ he asked, checking to see if I had stopped crying.
I felt like an idiot for blubbering so much, but the whole situation just felt overwhelming and sometimes I had a hard time trying to keep myself together. You would think for a being from another planet I would be slightly more courageous.
‘Yeah, it’s a long drive to New York,’ I said, wiping away the remaining tears from eyes and moving for the door.
I watched as Jones grabbed his suit jacket and then headed over to the small dresser which was situated up against the wall. I hadn’t noticed it the previous night, but the top drawer of the dresser had a lock that required a key to open it. Jones seemed to know this and used the room key to unlock the drawer.
I could feel my jaw drop in awe as he pulled it open to reveal boxes of .45 ammunition stacked until the drawer was full. He quickly grabbed one of the boxes, slipped it into his trouser pocket and then locked it again before returning to me.
That little ritual of twisting the lock three times was performed again, probably signalling to someone in an office somewhere that we were on the move again and that they should stop surveying the motel.
‘Can I ask you something?’ I asked, stepping out into the cold morning air.
‘Sure, you’re going to ask anyway,’ he said with a chuckle.
‘What’s the point of carrying a card with someone else’s face on it? I mean even as fake ID’s go, it’s so obviously wrong,’ I half expected to be brushed off as he locked the door and headed for the main office with me trailing behind.
‘The person on the card doesn’t exist. The image is created by a computer which uses my stats, such as body weight, height, hair color and so on, to create the final picture which can then be scanned by a fellow goon to prove who I am,’ he said, without a single stutter.
‘Seriously? But that woman didn’t use any machine to check your card,’ I was seriously curious now.
‘Yeah, that’s because she has special contact lenses, just like mine. Their capable of scanning the cards and displaying all the information that is needed.’
My mind seemed to reel at the thought of these special contact lenses that could read a person’s information just by scanning a card with a computer generated image on it. How was that even possible?
‘Could I get a pair of those contacts?’ I asked, feeling certain the answer would be no.
‘You could, but I doubt they would work with your eyes,’ he said, killing my initial excitement.
Alice, the rather dour looking woman who gave us the room key the previous day, was already awake and standing behind the reception desk, watching another shitty game show on TV. I never understood why anyone could get so engrossed in something that was so utterly mind numbing.
‘Enjoy your stay?’ She asked, turning to face the pair of us.
As usual, Jones offered her a smile as he handed over the room key followed by that mysterious ID card with the computer generated image.
I watched intently as Alice held it up to her eyes, for only the briefest of moments, before handing it back to Jones. She looked like the kind of woman who took everything seriously. And I mean everything. If she knew how to smile then it was a function she hadn’t used in many years.
‘Thank you. Be well and come again,’ she said.
Jones offered her nothing more than a pleasant tilt of his head, as if he had been wearing a hat, and then headed for the parking lot. I followed after him, my mind still in awe at the little technological tricks he and his company seemed to have up their sleeve.
‘Just how big is the stargazer foundation?’ I asked as I climbed into the passenger seat of the Mustang.
‘We have businesses and safe houses all over the world. We actually have more money than the government founded goons looking for you, but that won’t stop them,’ he said, climbing behind the wheel of the muscle car and enjoying the roar of the engine as it burst to life.
In just a few short seconds we were peeling out of the parking lot and heading for the freeway which would lead us towards New York and this mysterious company that seemed to want to protect me.
‘I’m still trying to understand how a gangster ended up babysitting an alien. Don’t you find it kind of bizarre?’ I asked, feeling a strange throbbing sensation in my eyes. It had started early that morning and I initially thought it was due to lack of sleep, but as time moved on it seemed to be growing more prominent. It wasn’t painful, but I noticed my focus was shifting in and out when I tried to look at something for any length of time.
‘Not really. Everyone who works for the foundation is given their job because they believe. Regardless of what some of them have to do, that belief has to be there or the families won’t accept them, and trust me, the families don’t take kindly to outsiders,’ he said, as I squinted at him, ‘are you okay?’ I could see his expression change to one of worry as he glanced between me and the road.
‘Yeah, it’s my eyes. I feel like I’m having a hard time trying to focus for some reason.’
‘It’ll be the changing light most likely. Either that or you’re going through more changes,’ he said, his voice sincere but also a little distant.
Changes. Everything was changing and the last thing I needed was for more weird stuff to happen to my body. I already felt like a total outcast as it was, and I really didn’t need anything else to add to that feeling.
‘So, what’s going to happen once we get to this organization you work for?’ I half expected to be fed a lie. Something along the lines of you’ll be treated like a princess when the reality was I would most likely be treated like some infectious corpse that can still walk and talk.
‘Well, I’ll be honest, I don’t know the entire plan. And that’s by design not because no one will tell or no one knows,’ he said, glancing in the rear view. There were a few cars behind us, but it didn’t take long before they either signalled to turn off into a nearby town or just overtook us, since despite driving a muscle car, Jones wasn’t in the habit of flooring the gas pedal, which I thought was strange for a man who basically operated on the fringes of the law anyway.
‘By design? You mean like no one person knows everything kind of deal so that power is distributed equally?’ I asked, raising my eyebrows at him, and allowing myself a smile at how intelligent I sounded.
‘Basically. I know enough to know who and what I’m protecting, but the whys and wherefores are known by the higher ups. What I can tell you is that everyone who has been a part of making sure your safe thinks you’re the most amazing thing to ever walk the planet, so I wouldn’t be too worried about what will happen when you get there,’ I loved the way he made it sound like I would be treated like royalty. If he was trying to put me at ease, it was working, but only up to a point.
I might be naive with a lot of things, but I did have a general grasp on how the world worked, and I knew enough about the human race to know that they were prone to treating the unknown as something to be feared, and when humans got scared their reaction could vary from running away to trying to kill it.
The throbbing in my eyes became more intense as the drive grew longer. The freeway was still surprisingly empty. Jones remained fairly quiet for the most part, his concentration on the road ahead, although I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind.
I was about to ask him when my vision suddenly blurred, like the world around me was nothing more than a massive painting and all its colors were running together.
‘What’s happening to your eyes?’ Asked Jones, shooting me a worried glance, ‘they’ve turned pink.’
Startled, I glanced at my reflection in the side mirror. Sure enough, my once green iris’s had changed to a shockingly bright pink. The intricate pattern inside the colored circles was still moving, oscillating back and forth like a camera lens moving in and out until the focus was right. Except in my case, the focus never seemed to be right.
‘What’s happening to me!?’ I cried, more in shock than anything else.
As I watched myself speak in the mirror, the image it reflected back suddenly changed and then I was looking at the freeway as it was further back, by maybe about a mile or two. I knew this was the case because I could see the familiar red sign of the gas station we passed.
At first, the freeway was empty, but within seconds two black cars, similar to the Mustang that Jones was driving, came racing into view. Each car had at least four men packed inside them. I could see them all preparing their weapons as they got ready to shoot whatever they were chasing.
‘Are you alright?’ Asked Jones, a note of worry in his voice.
I had to put a hand over my eyes to block out the light. Fortunately, when I did that it also blocked out the remains of the image I had just seen. However, my adrenaline was already pumping, or whatever my body’s equivalent of that particular chemical was.
‘No, we have two cars coming up behind us,’ I said, cautiously removing my hand and allowing my eyes to readjust to the daylight. Thankfully the throbbing had stopped, and they didn’t even sting anymore.
Jones glanced in his rear view mirror and frowned. I couldn’t understand why at first until I looked over my shoulder and saw that the freeway behind us was empty. But still, I felt certain that what I had seen was real. There were two cars coming after us with fully armed men.
‘I don’t see anyone,’ he said, looking at me confused.
‘Trust me their coming,’ I said, glancing in the side mirror, noting that my eyes had returned to their usual luminous green, as I scanned the horizon.
For a few moments, I could see nothing but the empty lanes of the freeway. Then I could hear the roar of the engines loud and clear before they appeared in the side mirror.
‘There they are,’ I said, feeling my heart race in my chest.
Jones glanced in all three mirrors, this time, his confused expression returning to granite as he spotted the cars coming up behind us.
‘Whatever you do, don’t panic,’ he said, as he unholstered his pistol while holding on to the wheel with his other hand.
What a stupid thing to tell someone who has no way to defend themselves against a team of heavily armed men. Sure Jones had a gun, but there was just one of him and at least eight of them. How was he going to pull off this magic trick was something I wasn’t sure I wanted to see.
Then it was my turn to look confused as he leaned forward and pressed the power button for the radio. Or at least that’s what I thought it was until a loud, incessant beeping filled the cab.
‘What is that for?’ I asked, glancing over my shoulder just in time to see the passengers of both vehicles rolling down their windows and preparing to take aim at us.
‘A distress signal,’ said Jones.
Behind us, I could hear the sounds of gunfire. Instinctively, I made myself as small as possible, covering my head with my arms as if they would somehow stop a bullet. Glancing upwards at Jones I noticed that he didn’t seem too concerned. He still had his hand on the pistol, but there was no sign that he was worried about his own life or mine for that matter.
I couldn’t understand why at first until I heard the brief chink of lead bouncing off the car. Twisting myself so I could look behind, I did so just in time to witness a couple of bullets hit and then bounce off the glass of the rear windshield.
‘Every part of this car is bullet proof. It’ll take a rocket to even put a dent in it,’ he said, sounding way more confident than I personally felt at that moment. I knew his company, or foundation, or whatever the hell it was supposed to be invested a lot of money in their technology, but still, I wasn’t willing to bet on it with my life.
‘Shouldn’t you be firing back at them?’ I cried, feeling my legs begin to tremble with fear as my heart skipped upwards to an even faster pace.
‘No need to, they won’t be a problem in a few moments,’ he said, and that damn calmness in his voice was actually beginning to irritate me a little. Why couldn’t he be at least a little scared like I was?
I don’t know if it was morbid curiosity that made me look back again, but when I did, I could see something in the sky. It was small, disc-shaped object with two turrets hanging from its underside. I watched as it quickly made up lost ground until it was just behind the two pursuing cars.
I could feel my eyes widen in awe as I watched bright orange flashes erupted from those turrets hanging on its underside. The air filled with the sounds of screaming and metal and glass being blown to tiny pieces as the airborne vehicle continued its onslaught.
By the time the occupants of the second car realized they were under attack and re-aimed their weapons towards the sky, it was too late for the first car. Black smoke billowed from the hood as its shredded remains limped to a halt on the freeway. I felt certain it would be impossible for there to be any survivors after the sheer volume of damage.
I continued to watch in awe as bullets from the ground glanced off the airborne disc as it re-focused on the remaining car. As the drone opened fire, the driver put his foot down on the gas pedal, a look of sheer determination on his face as he came racing towards us.
The last thing I saw of him was a cloud of red mist as the drones’ firepower laid waste to those inside. There was a loud crash as the bullet ridden vehicle skidded and then flipped, rolling along the freeway a few times before finally coming to rest on its roof in a mangled mess.
Jones reached out and pushed the button on the dashboard once again. A quick glance back told me the drone was finished and it quickly disappeared back the way it came.
‘We have lots of little toys like that,’ said Jones, smiling at my shocked expression.
If there had ever been any doubt in my mind that Jones, and the company he worked for, had what it took to protect me, it was quickly dispelled by that little display of firepower.
A simple push of a button and a little war machine would come and take care of the problem, although I felt horrible inside that so many men had just lost their lives, it was fairly evident it was us or them. So in that case, my horror was tempered with the fact that we at least survived.
‘How did you know they were coming?’ Asked Jones, his eyes fixed on the freeway as he slipped his gun back into its holster.
That was a very good question. I had no idea. All I could remember was my eyes throbbing and then my vision giving way to the site of them racing down the freeway after us.
‘I just saw them, like a picture put in front of me,’ I said, not entirely sure how to explain it.
‘I notice your eyes have returned to normal, do they feel better now?’
I had forgotten about my weird little orbs changing color, and a quick glance in the mirror made me feel better when I saw that they had returned to their original state of luminous green.
‘I can’t explain that,’ I said, feeling stupid for not understanding how my own body worked.
‘That’s okay, you’ll learn to figure things out as time goes on, that’s how we all learn,’ said Jones, glancing one last time at the carnage behind us, before his eyes returned to the road ahead.
It struck me as I watched him that I knew very little about this man who was protecting me. I wondered if he had a family or even siblings for that matter. I wanted to ask him, but I hesitated and instead turned to watch the countryside give way to a small town before that too gave way once again to more countryside.
I felt certain that we would have to pull over for a rest stop at some point. New York had to be at least another two hundred miles away, and even though the bulletproof Mustang we rode in was fast, I doubted it would take any longer than at least another three hours, maybe more, to cover that kind of ground.
‘So what’s the next question,’ asked Jones, his smile returning.
I was starting to like this guy. I would even go so far as to say that I felt comfortable around him, which was saying a lot.
We did indeed make a rest stop about an hour later. I was grateful to grab some fresh air and stretch my legs while Jones topped up the Mustangs gas tank in a small filling station called Enco’s. I had no idea if that was the name of a company or the person who owned the station.
Either way, I assumed that Jones had used the place before and felt comfortable enough to make the stop. I could see the hesitation on his face though as I got out of the car. I could tell he wanted me to stay inside, but at the same time, I think he knew what the answer would be to that.
The filling station seemed to be located in the middle of nowhere, perched just off the side of the road like an afterthought. An old man with a few slivers of grey hair stretching across the top of his bald head, watched us from the window of the store while Jones used the pump.
Under that old man’s gaze, I suddenly felt very self-conscious. I could feel his eyes scanning me up and down and I wasn’t sure if it was for sexual pleasure or if he had something else in mind.
‘Are you thirsty?’ Asked Jones, setting the pump back on its cradle before replacing the car’s fuel cap.
I hadn’t eaten or drank much in the last few hours and now that he asked, I realized that I certainly wouldn’t complain if I could get a soda. I related this fact to him, to which he motioned for me to get back in the car and wait for his return. I was a little bit annoyed at having to follow orders, but after how quickly those other guys had managed to track us down, I figured the car with its bulletproof exterior was the safest place to be.
Watching through the windshield, I could see Jones walking straight to the old man and uttering something, probably a question considering how quick he spoke. The old man simply shrugged his shoulders and swivelled his head from side to side, telling me that his answer was no.
This didn’t seem to cut it for Jones who promptly pulled out his pistol and levelled it at the old man’s head. The old man with the leering stare now looked terrified as he faced the barrel of the gun.
I could feel my own heartbeat begin to race as I watched the situation unfold. Was Jones, the stone-faced but relatively laid back gangster, really going to shoot a defenceless old man.
The answer to that came in the form of bright flash emanating from the barrel of his gun and then the old gas station owner staring at him with wide eyes as he slowly dropped to the floor dead.
My jaw dropped in shock and horror as Jones put his gun back in its holster, picked something up and then sauntered out of the store like it was just another day at the office.
Had I really just witness him kill someone in cold blood?
As he got closer to the car I could see he was holding two cans of sprite. As he climbed behind the wheel again, he handed me one of the cans which I took with a trembling hand. I couldn’t believe how casual he was about it all.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ He asked as if he couldn’t understand that I had just witnessed him blow a hole in someone’s head.
‘Umm, you just shot that old man dead,’ I said, fear rising in my voice.
‘Oh him, yeah I did. I’m sorry you had to see that,’ There wasn’t a single note of remorse in his voice. It was like shooting people was just an everyday occurrence he had to deal with.
I could feel my head shaking from side to side as I looked down at the cool can of soda in my hand. Disbelief was among the many things I was feeling at that moment, and I couldn’t bring myself to look up at him again. I appreciated that he was trying to keep me safe, but surely there was no need to kill that poor old man?
‘Why?’ That was the only word I could get out of my constricting throat.
Jones started the car and raced it back out onto the road, and within seconds we were heading in the direction of New York. He said nothing for a few moments, and I was about to ask him again when he decided he was ready to talk.
‘That man was Marvin Aldridge. Once upon a time he used to work for the foundation, but about a year ago, we noticed that some of our artefacts and data, which had been accumulated over many years and at great cost, were going missing. We finally found out that Marvin was stealing from the foundation and then selling on anything that was useful to fuel his gambling habit. As I’ve said before, the foundation might be built to help individuals like yourself, but the families that run it don’t take kindly to their stuff going walkies,’ he explained, again if he felt any kind of remorse I couldn’t pick up on it.
‘So rather than have him arrested, you just shot him,’ I asked, wide-eyed with fear and shock.
‘You can’t have someone arrested for stealing alien artefacts. The cops would just laugh at you, and besides, he took the bullet to the head for other reasons that I can’t explain right now, so please don’t hit me with more questions. Just understand that what I did, I had to, to make sure we both stay alive,’ and that was it for the rest of the journey.
The only noise to echo in the cab was the sound of me opening the can of soda because after seeing what I had, I needed something cool to distract me. Anything, but since the can of soda was all I had that would need to suffice.
We spent another two hours on the road before we finally reached New Jersey, and then another forty minutes from there found us in New York. In my head I expected the foundation’s headquarters to be some sort of seedy warehouse that the city had forgotten about.
But I should have known better. When we arrived at Stargazer plaza, I could feel my jaw drop once again. This time, it was in awe at the stunningly designed steel and glass building that towered above us. It only seemed to get bigger as I continued looking upwards while Jones navigated the Mustang down a narrow ramp which I assumed would lead to an underground parking area.
A steel shutter blocked the entrance before us until Jones pushed another button on the dashboard. There was no high-pitched beeping, this time, just a solitary flashing green light on the center console. A few seconds went by and then there was a rattle as the shutter began to rise upwards on its roller.
I loved how Jones and his employers made good use of the technology they had at their disposal. Something told me it was pretty low tech, although I wasn’t exactly a rocket scientist myself. Or maybe I was and that little power hadn’t been unlocked yet?
My stomach began to knot with nerves as Jones eased the Mustang into a space near what seemed to be the only elevator in the building. Two men, both dressed in black suits, stood sentinel next to the lift, watching us intently as we disembarked from the vehicle.
I kind of expected the black suit motif to be the main dress code for the people working in the building. I don’t know why they thought it was such a great color. Maybe it was just a manly thing because it did work well for Jones.
As we neared the elevator, the two men put up their hand’s palms forward to stop us from going any further. Jones reached into his pocket and produced his wallet and from that he slid the ID card with the computer generated face out and handed it over to the nearest guard.
The taller of the two men by maybe an inch or so took the card and studied it briefly before nodding his head and handing it back. Then they stepped aside without a single utterance as the elevator dinged and its doors slid open to reveal a well-lit carriage.
‘Those guys take their job very seriously,’ I said, affording myself a nervous laugh as I watched Jones put his wallet away.
‘Well, they have to. We have things stored in this building that the human race, military or otherwise, just isn’t ready to comprehend let alone understand their value,’ he said, smiling at me as he punched the button for the ground floor.
I could hear myself gulp as the elevator carriage jolted upwards and we were moving. I had no idea what was going to happen next and that frightened me more than knowing I was standing next to a man who was perfectly capable of putting a bullet in your head in the blink of an eye.
‘Are you nervous?’ Asked Jones, obviously, he heard me swallow hard.
‘Put yourself in my shoes. Wouldn’t you be nervous?’ I asked.
‘Oh hell yes, I’d be crapping myself,’ he said, not a wisp of a smile or anything else on his face that told me he was playing around.
‘Saying things like that isn’t exactly a confidence booster you know?’
‘I know, but there is nothing I can say that will put you at ease until you see everything for yourself. Hopefully, by that point, you will at least feel a little comfortable around me.’
‘I do feel comfortable around you, despite the whole shooting people dead thing,’ I said, trying to giggle out the seriousness of my accusation.
Jones looked down at me, both eyebrows raised in surprise. He genuinely wasn’t expecting me to say that, and to be fair, neither was I. But then again it wasn’t a lie either, so if the truth must be known then so be it.
‘That means a lot to me you know,’ he said, and for the first time since we started the journey from the motel, his voice softened until he almost sounded human.
‘Well, the truth is the truth, as my father used to say. No point in holding it in when it needs to be spoken,’ I said, my heart breaking a little as I thought about the man who had raised this alien child as his own.
‘Your father was a very wise man. And a very kind one too,’ said Jones, as the elevator slowed to a stop.
The air filled with the brief hum of electricity before the doors slid open and we spilled out into a narrow hallway. The wall directly before us was lined with glass panels which allowed anyone to look down into a brightly lit, cavernous room. Jones motioned for me to step forward so I could get a better look.
‘Down there is where we store everything we find, come on, there is something I want to show you before people want to meet you,’ he said and started off down the hallway towards an unmarked door.
I followed after him, the knots in my stomach becoming more aggressive, as he pushed through the door and we walked down the metal staircase which led to the storage room. From the higher position, I could see three large objects had been placed near the center of the room and each one was covered with a grey tarp to hide them from casual onlookers.
I wouldn’t have thought there would be many of them in a building full of goons as Jones liked to refer to them, but then again I supposed even the toughest of men had to play the cautious game.
‘What kind of stuff do you keep in here?’ I asked, becoming more curious about the three objects rather than the stacks upon stacks of wooden crates stamped with the word fragile.
‘Everything and anything to do with real alien contact. Pieces of clothing, skin and tissues samples if they were unlucky enough to survive by the time we get to them, and a few other things,’ said Jones, heading straight for the covered objects which just made the butterflies in my stomach flutter even more.
When we reached the second of the three objects he turned to face me, his expression unwavering as once again as he tried to prove that he was deadly serious. Something that I learned within first few minutes of meeting him.
‘This is where your journey really begins, Everyn,’ there was that damn name again.
‘Okay,’ I said, growing more nervous despite my brief annoyance with the use of that alien moniker.
‘I need you to understand that we might not be able to give you every answer to every question that you have, but we will try our best to fill in as much of the gaps as possible,’ he said, and I nodded in agreement, my eyes watching as his hand grabbed the front of the grey tarp and began to fold it back.
I could feel a sense of awe fill me as the tarp was removed to reveal a spaceship. Intricate in its design with neatly rounded edges. There was a lot of dents and heavy scratches along both sides of the craft and the roof of the cockpit seemed to be missing completely.
What really got my attention was the lettering near the front of the ship’s hull. Each letter seemed to have been painfully handcrafted with ornate corners. When I read each letter, in turn, I realized that it spelled the name Everyn. Realising that I was staring at the vessel which had brought me to Earth I could feel my legs become shaky.
Gingerly, I reached out to touch the craft. To connect with a part of me that I had never seen before until that day. The coldness of the metal against my skin was breathtaking. I let my fingers glide over it as Jones looked up towards the wall of glass high above us. When I followed his gaze I saw a large group of men, surprisingly not all dressed in black suits, some had actually opted for a slate grey, staring down at us.
Even though I was beginning to feel self-conscious again, I didn’t want to take my hand of the spaceship. I don’t know what I was hoping for. Maybe a burst of old, latent memories that might have been stored deep in the recesses of my brain since being sent packing from my home world.
Alas, that didn’t happen as I circled the ship and finally came to a stop in front of Jones. His smile had returned.
‘So this is how I got my name?’ I asked.
‘Yes. This is what you came to Earth in. We don’t know what happened to the roof of the cockpit, although our tech pros believe that since you were an infant, the onboard computer probably ejected it to let you breathe once it knew there was enough air outside for you,’ he said, his own gaze lingering on the little spaceship.
I didn’t really know what to think at that moment. I was standing in front of the proof that I really didn’t belong on this planet, but then again, it was highly possible I didn’t belong to the world I was sent from which would explain why I was here in the first place.
And as I was thinking about my own situation I suddenly remembered the other two objects, covered by the same grey tarps. They both looked to be about the same size and that’s when I realized something.
‘I’m not the only one am I?’ I asked, feeling certain that under those covers were another two ships.
Jones smiled at me again and began to pull off the tarps revealing that I was indeed correct. Another two spaceships, exactly like my own were revealed. The name on the one to the left stated it belonged to Teralyn while the one on the right belonged to Arlyn.
‘You were the last of the three to crash here on Earth. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the first two ships, the occupants were already gone. We believe that they may have been raised as part of someone else’s family, but we can’t say for sure. When we spotted your vessel heading through the atmosphere, we did everything to make sure that we actually found you along with the ship,’ he said, a note of sadness in his voice as if he had somehow failed to do his job.
Inside I was a mass of different emotions. I felt elated at the possibility that I wasn’t the only one of my kind on Earth, but on the other hand, there was a very good possibility that they may not have survived.
‘So I might have a brother or sister out there somewhere?’ I asked, more to myself than the big man before me.
‘As I said, it’s possible, but there is no guarantee. We tried for years after we found you to re-trace our steps and see if we could track their whereabouts but so far we’ve had no luck,’
‘I would have thought that being unable to locate them would have meant you kept a tight rein on me,’ I said, starting to feel like an object rather than a living entity again.
‘Take a look up there, do any of those guys look like they would know how to look after an alien infant. Keep in mind, we knew even less about you back then than we do now, and we genuinely thought the best option was to place you in the care of a loving couple we could keep tabs on. And that we did for the last eighteen years. Every part of your parents’ farm was monitored day and night. When you went to school, one of our men would watch you. When you went to your friends birthday party at that little diner called Happy Jacks, we had a man there to keep an eye on you, you’ve never left our sight all through the years Everyn,’ he said, as I glanced up at the stunned faces looking down at us.
My mind was still reeling at the possibility of having siblings, even if it was a narrow one, after so many fruitless years of searching. There was still hope, but there was something that had been bugging me since Jones picked me up. I had tried to question him on it earlier and got a vague answer, but I thought now was a good time to try again.
‘Why are you guys so intent on saving me and finding the others? You said yourself, this place is basically run by a criminal organization, so what’s the catch? Why would a bunch of criminals, regardless of whether they believed in aliens or not, want to protect one at their own cost?’ I asked, and I could see Jones sigh a little as he thought how to word what he had to say.
‘Imagine if some of the most powerful people on this planet were the only ones with the privilege to communicate with an alien race. An alien race that might be willing to allow us to travel back and forth from their world. Imagine the kind of power these people would yield over the rest of the human race if they were the only ones capable of communicating with an advanced race of beings. We would be at their mercy, wouldn’t we?’
‘I guess so, but that still doesn’t explain the point of this place, unless it’s run by those powerful people you just mentioned,’ I said, narrowing my eyes at him as if my petite frame and weird eyes could somehow scare the natural born killer.
‘Not at all. The families that own this place are very powerful, but not that powerful. I’m talking about the next level up, such as those with unlimited government funding within the CIA. Could you imagine the irreparable harm that would be caused if these people were the first to make contact with another alien race?’
I was starting to get the gist of what he was meaning.
‘So this is all about a protective countermeasure?’ I asked, feeling all the eyes on me. I wasn’t sure if the people in the hallway above could hear us, but they certainly had no intention of leaving anytime soon by the looks of it.
‘Basically. Your living proof that an alien race exists. These ships are proof. The CIA knows you and they exist, but as long as we’re here they will never get them. Everyone in this building believes in aliens. We all know that there will come a point when your own people might come looking for you, and when they do, we want them to see the better side of human nature, so hopefully the families can keep running their businesses without fear of being wiped out by an angry alien race,’ explained Jones in the best way he could.
My whole body was starting to ache along with my head, which also felt a little fuzzy inside as if someone had stuck a finger in my brain and scrambled it a little.
‘Seems like a hell of a lot of effort to go through just to keep the status quo,’ I said, turning my back to the people watching as my self-consciousness grew more prominent.
‘Well, the controlling families are over twenty generations old. They like the status quo, and wouldn’t even mind sharing the planet with another race as long as their prepared to part with their money,’ said Jones, motioning towards the stairs.
‘Do I have to go up there?’ I asked, still keeping my back to the glass.
‘Well yes, there is a lot of people who have spent many years watching over you,’ he said.
I could feel the knots in my stomach tighten beyond the point that I felt I could control them. As I took a step back from the ships, I could feel my legs give way as the world quickly plummeted into darkness. The last thing I could remember was the sound of my own body hitting the floor with a not so gentle thud.
I woke with a throbbing headache which wasn’t helped by the bright overhead lights. Licking my parched lips, I was able to tell that I was lying in a bed, although I couldn’t tell if it was a hospital bed or not.
‘How are you feeling?’
When I looked to my left I could see Jones, stone-faced as always, sitting in a chair next to my bed.
‘What happened?’ I asked, recalling the darkness that engulfed me before I hit the floor.
‘You passed out,’ he said, sounding tired.
‘How long have I been out for?’ I managed to push myself up into a sitting position, ignoring the ache in my head.
‘About four hours, I didn’t realise how much it was all getting to you,’ he sounded almost apologetic as if he had done something wrong but the simple truth was I didn’t even know it had gotten to me so much.
‘I think it was just all those people staring at me. I’m not used to being watched like that. In person I mean.’
Jones got to his feet and adjusted his suit jacket, checking himself for creases.
‘I understand, but unfortunately, from this point onwards you’re going to have to get used to people. You are special after all.’
That last part stung. I didn’t want to be special. I just wanted to live my life without all of this nightmare attached to it. It seemed very unfair and I think Jones understood my frustration.
‘I don’t want to be special, I just want to be me,’ I muttered, and as I went to move I noticed there was a small circular Band-Aid in the crook of my arm. Frowning I turned to Jones, ‘Did you take blood from me?’
‘Don’t worry it’s standard company policy to check for poison when someone faints or otherwise falls ill while inside this building. And if it puts your mind at rest we couldn’t get blood out of you anyway,’ said Jones, cocking an eyebrow at me as if I should have an explanation for that.
‘Why not?’ I asked, just as puzzled.
‘The needle kept bending and breaking every time the doctor tried to put in your arm, so it would appear that you have a self-defence mechanism built into you,’ he said, taking another step towards the door.
‘Where are you going?’ I asked, pulling the bed sheets back to reveal my naked body and then quickly covering myself up in horror.
‘I need to go report in and inform the boss of your condition,’ he said, smirking as my face turned bright red.
‘Why…why the hell am I naked, and more importantly who stripped me?’ I demanded.
‘Standard company policy. All clothing is incinerated just in case it contains any contamination. And I stripped you, in private, with no one else watching. That’s a promise,’ he said, his smirk growing wider as my jaw dropped.
I felt stunned. This man who was basically my sworn protector had seen me in ways that even I didn’t know existed, and just to make me feel even more exposed and vulnerable, he had also stripped me naked.
‘You took everything off?’ I said, glancing under the covers to note that I had no underwear at all. I was as naked as the day I was born, or maybe that should be the day I was sent to earth.
‘Everything. But don’t worry I didn’t look…’ he opened the door and put one foot out in the hallway, ‘…for long,’ and with that the door closed behind him, leaving me to stare blankly at the door.
I felt embarrassed and angry. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had no clothes I would have chased him down and gave him a good piece of my mind. Although, I knew that even I, the special one, probably had to watch how far I pushed a man like Jones.
Although, I did suspect that I probably got away with pushing his buttons a lot more than anyone else ever did or had tried to. Glancing around the small room, I looked for something that would double as a gown, anything to at least stop me from feeling so exposed.
The bed sheets did nothing to make me feel better, and in fact, left me feeling like I was at the mercy of anyone who entered the room. Which was probably more or less the case. If someone decided they wanted to have a little play time with the only alien in the building, then as long as Jones wasn’t around there wasn’t a lot I could do to defend myself.
I think it was that thought of being at the mercy of someone else, that kick-started the small ball of fear in my stomach. I was still angry at being left naked in a strange bed in a strange room, but more than anything all I could think about was home, and how nice it would be to be back in my own room, out of the way of the rest of the world.
I was just starting to think of all the things I missed back home when there was a soft knock on the door and then it slowly creaked open. A woman with long black hair, roughly around the same age as Jones, poked her head into the room and offered me a smile before stepping inside. Her black rimmed glasses were sitting precariously on her face, but other than that she looked very much like a banker in her smart skirt and blouse.
‘Hi, sorry to bother you. I was asked to bring you some clothing,’ she said, laying down a beautiful black cocktail dress.
I have to admit, being raised on a farm, I was never one for wearing truly girly clothes. Dresses and skirts were foreign to me mainly because my mother banned me from wearing them at a young age. Her response when I asked why was simply that I was too much of a tomboy to realize that I was showing off more than my legs when I wore them.
‘Thank you, what’s your name?’ I asked, grateful for female company.
‘I’m Amanda, I’m pretty much the dogsbody in the building and the only other woman except for yourself,’ she said, offering me her hand which I was happy to shake.
I suspected that there would be other women in the building, and at least there was one that I could relate to, even if it was only on a gender level. I noticed that she seemed a little nervous, though, and then I realized that I, of course, was the alien. Other than Jones, who didn’t seem to be phased by anything, no one else had really come into contact with me.
‘Don’t worry, my eyes don’t shoot laser beams, well at least not that I know of anyway,’ I said, offering my best smile full of teeth I hoped still looked clean.
Amanda giggled and seemed to relax a little more in my company. I could tell that she was used to taking orders and not given much room to think for herself.
‘I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable, I can understand how it must have felt having all those eyes on you, I get that pretty much every day, except it’s because I’m pretty much the only woman in the building. By the way, your eyes are stunning,’ she said, and for the first time in my life, someone actually held my gaze without turning away after just a brief moment.
I think I was going to like this lady.
‘Thank you,’ I said, trying to ignore the fact that I was still naked under the covers. It was nice to get a compliment from another woman. I’ve generally found that men will compliment a woman on pretty much anything if it gives them an excuse to keep chatting her up, while a woman is more likely to be absolutely brutal in her opinion and honest too boot.
‘I hope you like black. It was all I could find in storage, if I get a chance to go shopping anytime soon, I can always pick you up something that’s more to your taste,’ she said, sounding apologetic.
I was just thankful that I had something I could wear, although I noted the lack of underwear, which was a little disconcerting. But hey, if a girl has to go commando once in a while, then so be it.
Amanda took a few steps away from me and turned her back so that I had some privacy to put the dress on. I must admit that I did like the way it hugged my figure without feeling too tight. If only I had a cocktail party to go to, it might have felt more like I was getting dressed for an occasion rather than so I could go kick Jones ass for leaving me in the buff.
‘I’m decent now,’ I said, fighting with my hair. I normally could braid my hair into a crown without the need for a mirror, but it would seem in the light of everything else that had happened in my life, that little ability had left me for the time being.
When Amanda saw that I was struggling, she stepped forward and offered to help. I was a little hesitant at first. Not because I didn’t like anyone else touching my hair, but more because she was taller than me, and for some reason, I always felt nervous keeping my back to someone that could look down on me. I don’t know if it was an inferiority complex or something else, but it’s how I had been for most of my life.
Eventually, I gave in and turned my back to her, so she could easily work with my long hair. My mother had refused point blank to let me have it cut, saying that it was far too beautiful to be wasted like that, so instead we met in the middle with the braided crown which helped to keep the hair away from my face. My mother always said I looked like an angel after she had finished it, whereas I was just glad to get it out of my face so I could eat without a mouthful of blonde hair.
‘It must feel pretty strange waking up one day and finding out you’re an alien huh?’ Said Amanda, her fingers working through my hair, undoing the original braid I had done myself so she could start again.
‘To be honest, I’m still convinced this is all a bad dream. At some moment, hopefully after I punch Jones, I will wake up back in my room on the farm,’ I said, feeling my anger rise again as I remembered being left alone naked.
‘Why do you want to punch Jones?’ Giggled Amanda, and I felt pretty sure that laugh belied the fact that she wouldn’t mind taking a pop at him herself.
‘Why? He left me here naked the son of a…’ I was close to cussing. I had been raised to never cuss, but that didn’t mean I hadn’t learned them from listening to my father as he tried to fix a broken fence.
‘Oh, that’s part of the company policy. If it makes you feel any better they did it to me too about a month after I started here. I felt dizzy and hot and collapsed and eventually woke up in this very room.’
‘Seriously? Doesn’t it bother you that one of your work colleagues has seen you at your most vulnerable?’ I asked, a little startled by her admission.
‘Well, yes. For about a week I felt like everyone was staring at me because they had seen me. I think it was about a month after that when one of the tech guys accidently zapped themselves and ended up stripped and in here too,’ she said, giggling again at the thought.
‘Ah, Karma right?’ I said, allowing myself to smile.
‘Oh yes. That particular technician had been hitting on me for weeks and nothing I did ever seem to deter him, so when his little accident happened all I had to say was that I had seen him naked and I was not interested. He never hit on me again after that,’ there was a wickedness to the way she told the story and I really couldn’t blame her for enjoying it. Not that I ever had guys hitting on me constantly, but I was well aware of their stares whenever the odd occasion arrived where I would go out with my mother and into town.
‘How come you found yourself working here anyway?’ I asked, curious as to why an obviously intelligent woman was working in a place dominated by male gangsters.
‘Ah, my father worked here for years. I was struggling to pick up a job after I left college, so he managed to get me in here as a receptionist, gofer-type person,’ she said and her voice seemed to falter.
‘Does your father still work here?’
‘No, he left a couple of years back to open his own gas station. Said he had enough of this life and wanted an easier time.’
As the words left her mouth my mind immediately went to the dead gas station clerk I had seen Jones shoot. A man who had been accused of stealing and selling priceless alien artefacts from this very building. What boggled my mind was why she had decided to stay knowing the stigma that her father had left her. That must have been awful to deal with and as much as I wanted to tell her what I saw, I figured she was already hurting enough, and it wouldn’t take long before she learned the news of her father’s death on her own once the police made it public.
‘How come you stick it out here, if your job is as menial as it sounds?’ My curiosity was definitely getting the better of me now.
‘Because, unlike my father I actually do believe in life beyond Earth. I never expected that one day I would actually meet an alien, and I do apologise if you hate being called that, but I figured if I stuck it out then I might be more privy to what the higher ups know in time. All the stuff about space and life in it fascinates me,’ there was a childlike glee in her voice as she spoke which told me she was genuine. Genuine in the sense that she loved the job because it kept her close to the one thing that probably shed a little light in her life.
Who was I to destroy that?
I couldn’t if I wanted to. It just wasn’t in my nature. But I’m pretty sure Jones wouldn’t have a problem with that.
I could feel her tug at my hair one last time before taking a step back to admire her work. She had been way faster than I expected.
‘All done,’ she said, a sense of pride in her voice.
‘Good, now let’s go get Jones,’ I said, my determination and anger rising back up now that I was free. I realised that I had no shoes, but I wasn’t going to complain. I had a perfectly good set of bare feet that I planned to launch up his ass, one at a time.
‘Wait, I don’t think you’re supposed to leave here without anyone,’ cried Amanda as I reached for the door handle.
I could feel a wicked smile grow on my face.
‘But I’m not. I have you with me,’ and with that, I was out in the hallway and turning left, the same direction I had seen him go.
I could hear Amanda hurriedly catch up with me, her breathing a little faster as she finally reached my side.
‘Everyn, I don’t think this is a good idea,’ she complained but my attention was on the double doors a few feet away from me.
I could see a small sign that stated it was the cafeteria and as I barged through the doors, I noted at least a dozen men munching on their food at various tables. They all turned to face me and Amanda in wide-eyed disbelief as if they had never seen a woman before.
Of course, it took only a few seconds, as I scanned the sea of faces, for that granite look I knew was unique only to Jones, to realize they were staring because they had a flustered looking woman trying to catch up with a wandering alien.
‘Everyn, please, we should go back to the infirmary and wait for Jones,’ cried Amanda, her cheeks flushed red.
‘No, I’m want to know where that asshole is so I can give him a good kick,’ I said, stamping my foot like I was a spoiled child. A couple of the men in the room oohed and ahhed at my suggestion of violence before I turned, noticed another set of doors and continued towards them.
As we spilled back out into the hallway, there was a large number on the wall to my right that stated we were on floor fifteen. It was then I realized I had no idea where Jones might have gone from this point onwards. Did he go up, or did he go down?
I remembered him saying that he had to report in and if you have to report to anyone you usually go to the top of the building. Glancing further down I could see the metal doors of the elevator, which was our ticket upwards. I could also see the startled looks of a few people stepping out of their offices as they spotted us.
Amanda’s cheeks were almost crimson by the time we reached the gleaming metal doors of the elevator. I pushed the call button only for it to beep and then blink red as if I had just broken the damn thing.
‘You can’t use the elevator without an ID card,’ said Amanda, looking worried.
I looked up at the poor woman, a smile growing on my face.
‘You have an ID card,’ I said, and immediately she began to shake her head.
Was I pushing her too far? Probably, but I wanted to get to Jones and I would by any means necessary.
‘Everyn, I’m sorry but I would lose my job if I let you on that elevator,’ she said, her eyes pleading with me to stop.
‘You’re not letting me on it. You’re taking me on a ride up,’ I said, knowing that there was no real difference to what she meant, but secretly I hoped rephrasing it would be enough to convince her to use the card.
‘Alright, I suppose I can always find another job,’ she bemoaned, unclipping the ID card from the waistband of her skirt and placing the image over the scanner under the call button.
There was a soft beep this time and the call button began to flash green. Realizing the thing might be on a timer, I quickly pushed it and stepped back long enough for the doors to open before beckoning Amanda to join me inside. Once she was in I pushed the last button on the top row, which was floor 75. That was about as high as anyone would want to work I thought.
Amanda still looked worried as the elevator softly jolted upwards and began moving. In the excitement to get inside, I hadn’t realized that the carriage was made entirely of glass which allowed us to look out at the city.
Well, I should say it allowed Amanda to look out, once I realized just how high up we were I quickly back peddled towards the doors, my eyes beginning to gently throb once again as we crept past each floor.
‘Yeah, I’m well aware of the irony of a being from space who is scared of heights,’ I said bitterly, closing my eyes.
Thankfully the ride up didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Amanda’s gaze lingered on me, my back planted firmly against the cold metal of the elevator doors. There was something about her that seemed out of place.
Not necessarily in a bad way, but there was definitely something there that seemed to leave a gap in her persona. Either that or my terrified and angry mind was just too confused and looking for something to fixate on.
There was a loud ding as the elevator came to a stop and the doors slid open, taking me by surprise as I let out a little yelp before spilling backwards into the hallway and landing on the carpeted floor.
Almost immediately two pairs of highly polished shoes appeared next to me as Amanda stepped out of the elevator. Her face looked ashen as I glanced at her and upwards towards the stern looking faces of the two men towering over me. Neither one of them looked like they smiled much, if at all.
‘Hi, lovely day isn’t it?’ I said, offering my best smile and trying to giggle away my nerves.
‘You should not have brought her up here,’ said the man with darker skin. He was looking at Amanda as he stretched out a hand for me to take hold.
As nervous as I was, I decided to take the offer of his help. His meaty fist practically engulfed mine as he hauled me up onto my feet.
‘Actually, I forced her to bring me here, where is Jones?’ I said, quickly pulling my dress back down and adjusting the straps so there was no accidental slippage.
The big man looked at me curiously, probably wondering how a petite girl such as myself could force anyone to do anything, but hey I could be a feisty little witch when I wanted to be, even if the people I was taking a tantrum with all seemed to be bigger than me.
‘Everyn, you were supposed to wait in the infirmary until Mr. Jones collected you,’ he said, his partner remaining silent but nodding in agreement anyway.
‘Does everyone in this building know my name?’ I asked, looking at Amanda since I felt certain she would be more willing to give me a straight answer than the two men.
‘Afraid so,’ she sighed, probably resigning herself to the fact she may not have a job within the next few minutes.
‘Look I just want to put my foot up Jones ass, oops I mean talk to him,’ I said, biting back my anger now that I was on steady ground again.
The two guards snickered at each other before returning their attention to me, and that just pissed me off. What made it worse was that my eyes were throbbing like all hell again, and as I glared at the man with dark skin the world vanished for a few seconds.
Instead, of seeing the two men and Amanda, what I saw was the dark skinned man working patiently on a porcelain doll, delicately restoring it back to its natural beauty. Behind him sat rows of similar dolls on a collection of shelves, all meticulously restored to their original beauty.
When my vision returned to the present I could see that both men had taken a few steps backwards, and even Amanda seemed to have moved a little bit away from me, although the look on her face was more of fascination than fear, unlike the two men.
‘What?’ I asked her, puzzled.
‘Um, your eyes Everyn, they’ve gone bright pink,’ she said, pointing at them like I was somehow able to see them.
I had completely forgotten about the color change, although in my defence that was only the second time I had such an episode, and despite that, I turned my glare back on the darker skinned man, now that I had some more ammunition.
‘Let us pass or I’ll tell everyone in the building that you like to play with porcelain dolls,’ I growled and instantly the big man’s cheeks flushed red as his partner turned to look at him in surprise.
‘You wouldn’t do that,’ he stammered, taking a step back as I moved forward, glancing over his shoulders I could see a set of doors, made of dark oak, which I assumed lead to the office of the big boss.
‘Oh you bet your ass I would, if you don’t get out of our way,’ I felt bad that I was dragging Amanda along with me, but for some reason I felt better knowing that she was by my side, even if it was her job to look after me while Jones was away reporting.
His partner was too busy laughing, as he stepped aside to let us through. The dark skinned man looked embarrassed as he too grudgingly stepped aside.
Amanda quickly followed behind me as I pushed past the two men and shoved open the doors to reveal a large, plush office. Oil paintings of people I didn’t recognize adorned the walls. The carpet was much softer and the massive desk only seemed to occupy a small portion of the space.
Seething, my eyes fell on Jones who was sitting at the front of the desk. He looked surprised as he got to his feet and watched me storm towards him.
‘Everyn, what are you doing here?’ He asked.
‘Looking for you, you asshole,’ I cried, punching him as hard as I could in the arm since it was the only part of him I could get a proper swing at.
He grimaced and immediately clutched at his arm as I prepared for another swing.
‘Why are you so angry?’ He seemed to genuinely not understand that it just wasn’t right to leave a girl naked in a strange bed, in a strange building, full with strange people.
‘You left me naked!’ I shouted, swinging at him again, but this time he stepped back out of reach and I hit nothing but thin air.
‘But it was only until Amanda brought you something to wear,’ he cried.
‘Yeah, gee thanks, a cocktail dress, which by the way, isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing to wear when you don’t have any underwear,’ I yelled, but I could already feel my anger was starting to dissipate as I saw the look of confusion on his face.
‘I’m sorry, I completely forgot about the underwear, Amanda would you please go…’
And then the anger came back once again.
‘Ah hell no, you’re not sending her out to buy me underwear. That’s something a woman does for herself, and guess what, you’re going to take me, right now!’ I demanded I would have taken another swing at him but he was too far away and I was starting to feel tired.
‘And shoes,’ whispered Amanda, reminding me that I was still barefoot.
‘Yeah, and shoes too!’ I cried, watching Jones grimace under my wrath was pretty fun but then he turned on Amanda, which only made matters worse.
‘Why are you even here? You aren’t supposed to be up this high remember. You were only supposed to take her clothes and then leave,’ he shouted at her.
‘Leave her alone. She’s not the one that left me alone and naked in the first place,’ I shouted.
‘May I interject,’ came the voice of a much older man.
Both me and Jones were about to continue our rant when we both turned to see the older man sitting behind the desk. His hair was a mop of finely cut grey, his face tanned but still cracked with age.
‘Sorry Mr. Tanner,’ said Jones, realizing he was in the presence of his boss.
‘That’s quite alright, and you my dear come forward so I can see you better,’ he said, motioning with his hand for me to step closer.
Feeling my anger fade, and instead a little bit of nervousness appearing in its place, I took a couple of steps closer to the desk, noting that he had all sorts of photos and paperwork spread out before him.
Other than Amanda, he was the only other person who I had come into contact with in recent days that actually had the stamina to look into my eyes for longer than three seconds.
‘My, you have grown into a beautiful young lady,’ he said, a soft smile crossing his lips.
I could tell by the way he spoke and his fluid body language that this man had been in power for quite some time. I was a little confused because I expected to see three families all sharing an office, and then it came to me that they each had their criminal empire to run so it made sense to have one person manage this particular show for them.
Standing there under his gaze, I shifted nervously as if I was under some kind of physical inspection. Although, I supposed in a sense that I was, but I couldn’t help feel like he was taking in more than just my youthful good looks.
‘Those eyes of yours are something else, when did they start moving?’
‘A couple of days ago now. They also change color, if you want to piss me off I’ll be happy to show you,’ I said, and I could hear Amanda snicker behind me drawing a dirty look from Jones in the process.
The old man laughed as he sat back down in his leather chair, which had just as many cracks on its surface as his face did. In saying that the chair was probably just as old as him now that I thought about it.
‘Ah no, I’ve been on the receiving end of a woman’s wrath many times in my life and that’s not something I want to experience again,’ if it hadn’t been for the fact that he worked for and probably was a gangster himself, I would have felt like the old man was a gentle old soul. But I was pretty certain he had done things in his life that would make my skin crawl if I thought about them for too long. ‘How are you feeling otherwise?’
‘Well apart from the cold air brushing against my bare ass, not as uncomfortable as I did when your employee here left me naked in a strange room,’ I said, nodding towards Jones without turning to face him.
‘Ah yes, I do apologize for that. Because of what we do here, we have to be very wary of contaminates, so we take the route of safety first and get rid of all clothing in the event someone falls ill, or faints in your case,’ he said, trying to get old granite face out of trouble, but I was still annoyed none the less, ‘as for the clothing, as you can see we don’t have a large collection of ladies in this building so finding female clothes on short notice is quite difficult, and I do apologise for the lack of underwear, it’s not our intention to make you feel exposed or uncomfortable.’
‘Okay, I guess I don’t have much of a choice anyway,’ I said with a resigned sigh.
I could see a brief burst of sadness cross the old man’s face as if I reminded him of someone long past. Then again, maybe I did, he looked to be almost double the age of my father so it was possible he had lost a child at some point in his life, although as I understood it, gangsters weren’t exactly the settling down types. I could be wrong about that, though.
‘I understand these last few days must have been much like riding a roller coaster for you,’ he said, sifting through the paperwork in front of him, his finger landing on an old color washed photo of something I couldn’t make out from where I was standing.
I’ve never actually been on a roller coaster. Never been inside an amusement park if the truth be told. But I got what he was trying to say, and of course, it had been a strange journey. Waking up one morning to find out you’re an alien, and you’re now being hunted by government forces, and therefore end up in the protective custody of an organization that hoped to expand its criminal empire beyond earth or at least keep things the way they are should my relatives decided to come looking for me.
‘It’s been a strange one, I’ll admit that,’ I said, as Tanner lifted the photo and held it out for me to take.
‘I assume Mr. Jones has shown you the spacecraft you arrived in, along with the others?’ Asked Tanner, as I took the photo and studied it.
At first, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, but as my eyes focused I noticed the grainy photo was actually of two men standing near a damaged spaceship. My ship to be exact since I could make out the name on the front of the hull. One of the men was holding a baby wrapped in a white blanket, smiling for whoever took the picture while a second man, much older and grumpier looking, was studying the vehicle.
‘That’s you. The day we found you,’ said Tanner and I could sense Jones shifting uncomfortably nearby.
‘You really were there when I landed,’ I said, looking a little shocked as I turned towards Jones.
‘Well, I wouldn’t lie to you about something like that,’ he said, shrugging his shoulders, his cheeks going a little redder as the spotlight landed on him.
‘Who’s the other guy?’ I asked, pointing at him on the photograph.
‘That’s my old mentor Mr. Kline,’ said Jones, and I could see sadness cloud his eyes as he spoke his name.
‘Where is he now?’ I asked, curious more than anything. But as the words left my mouth both Jones and Tanner shared a slightly anxious look.
‘Mr. Kline is no longer with us. He had some issues which meant he had to take early retirement,’ said Tanner and I looked at Jones with shock.
‘You shot your own mentor?’ I asked in disbelief.
Jones looked alarmed at my accusation and quickly shook his head, while Tanner chuckled to himself.
‘No, no, about a year after we picked you up, he developed lung cancer. He managed to fight it into remission, but his health was never the same afterwards, so he decided it was best to leave,’ said Jones.
I couldn’t have felt anymore relieved if I wanted to. I hated it when I learned of someone being killed. It always made me feel horrible inside, which is why I never touched my father’s guns despite being offered many times to go target shooting with him.
No sir, this girl is very much a hippie in that respect. No guns, knives or anything deadly for me, that was how I rolled. Then a thought suddenly occurred to me, and I realized that Tanner might be able to answer one of the most important questions on my mind.
‘What planet am I from?’ It sounded so weird saying that out loud and I swear to god if he says Venus I will choke his wrinkled old neck, hippie or not.
‘That’s a very good question and to be honest we have no idea. Back then our technology wasn’t very advanced. We could trace your trajectory from the landing point which took us way beyond our own galaxy, but after that, the trail goes cold. And obviously you know that you were one of three similar beings to land here, and again it seems as if all three of you came from the same point of origin,’ said Tanner, searching through his paperwork again as I handed back the photo.
‘Why do you think we were sent here?’ I was curious to know the answer to this one, I figured there had to be a reason.
Tanner leaned back in his chair, eyebrows arched as he gazed into my eyes again.
‘That’s a very good question we’ve all been pondering since your arrival. The theory we have right now is that because each ship was just big enough transport an infant in stasis, it’s possible that you were sent from a mothership in distress, possibly under attack by other forces we don’t know about. Or an alternative to that theory, but more or less the same is that your home world was no longer safe for you and your siblings to be on and your family sent the three of you away in the hope that you would survive. Again these are just theories and could be very far from reality.’
I frowned as I listened to his explanation and theories. They did seem possible but I would like to think that I was more than just a survivor sent out to space in a last-ditch effort to save my race from dying off completely.
‘I thought we might have been part of some sort of exploration team. You know sent here to study life on earth and report back,’ I said.
‘That’s highly unlikely, considering you arrived as infants. I do have another theory, though, involving this…,’ he handed me a black and white aerial photograph, and studying the image I could see a black square set in the desert, it couldn’t have been any bigger than the room I was standing in, and on it were three moulds in the shape of a human body, but each mould looked like it was holding hands, ‘one of our drones snapped that picture in the Sahara desert about a month before you arrived. We did try to retrieve it but back then our resources were way more limited and The Solars beat us to it. Do you have any idea what it might be?’
I shrugged my shoulders, handing him the picture again and watching as he slipped it into a brown folder after briefly studying it himself.
‘It looks like it’s been moulded for three bodies to lie in and hold hands,’ I said, stating what I thought.
‘Exactly, and my theory is that it’s possible that object might be an organic system for you and your siblings to send a signal back home that you’re okay,’ said Tanner, studying my face and making me feel self-conscious enough that I found myself peeling strands of hair back behind my ears.
I thought about his theory and realized that it could certainly be possible. What I couldn’t understand was how me, and the other two who may or may not be alive, would know where to find the object and use it. If we were sent to Earth as babies, then surely our parents in their infinite wisdom must have realized that we would have grown to accept the surroundings we had been brought up in, since we learned nothing about our real race or culture from them.
‘What do you think of that theory Everyn?’ Asked the old man, even Jones was watching me intently and I could feel Amanda’s eyes burning the back of my head as they all waited for an answer.
‘Well it’s possible, but how would the people that sent us here know that we would be able to find it in the first place. I never paid much attention at school, but I do know that the Sahara desert is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, even for an alien like me,’ I said, trying to find the right way to express my confusion.
Tanner leaned back in his chair, nodding like a wise old man. He seemed to be mulling something over before he finally broke the silence between us.
‘I have been pondering this too. But now that I see you in front of me again after eighteen years away, I can see that you not only have grown into an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, but you’re also changing. For example your eyes and your skin tone, which is darker than it should be if you were one of us. Then there is the little psychic episode you had out on the road with Jones. I would hazard a guess and say that your parents, or whoever it was that sent you here, knew that your biology would change. That you would eventually grow into what you are naturally regardless of the environment you’re surrounded with. And if that is the case, there is nothing to say that in time, your biology alone might manifest the location of the object either through your dreams, visions or some other way.’
I had to admit, I had never thought about it that way. The changes my body was going through felt more like an allergic reaction to my situation rather than something that was supposed to happen naturally. Even as I thought about what he said I could feel my wrists, ankles and the very top of my forehead begin to sting, forcing me to yelp in the suddenness of the pain.
‘What’s wrong?’ Asked Jones, our hostility suddenly put to the side for the moment, as he rushed over to me.
‘My skin is burning,’ I cried, and I wasn’t lying as the stinging sensation quickly gave way to one of burning.
I have no idea how long the pain lasted for. I could feel tears drip from my eyes as I looked at my wrists. They were glowing, like a light that was ready to call it quits. A strange, interlocking pattern like diamonds joined together, started to appear around my wrists and when I looked down at my feet I could see something similar happening around my ankles except the pattern was more like interlocking circles. Each pattern looked like it was etched into my skin, and lighter and lighter in color making it stand out even more.
The tears wouldn’t stop coming as Jones put his arms around me and brought me close to him. As the intricate tattoo’s revealed themselves, the burning sensation slowly faded to be replaced with a dull ache.
‘What’s happening to me?’ I sobbed into Jones suit jacket.
‘I’ll hazard a guess and say that those patterns aren’t there just to make you look prettier. I do believe they will have significance in the days to come,’ said Tanner, raising an eyebrow at Jones, as if he was wrong to be holding me, ‘Mr. Jones, I don’t think it would be such a good idea for young Everyn to stay in this building.’
Jones finally released me from his bear-like grip and I tried to dab away the remaining tears in my eyes as he turned to face Tanner.
‘But sir, I thought this was the safest place for her?’ asked Jones, frowning with confusion.
‘I have a place set deep in the California heartland. There is a large detail of armed guards plus you, who will be able to keep her safe,’ said Tanner, as Amanda put her arm around my shoulders and offered me a handkerchief which I gratefully accepted, ‘and of course it would be unkind of me to put a young lady in the company of such men alone, so I think Amanda should go to.’
The last part seemed to catch Jones off guard. I could see both the anger and the fear on his face as he quickly moved to Tanner.
‘Sir, do you really think that’s a good idea?’ Jones growled, for the first time being insubordinate to his boss, but Tanner simply waved him away.
‘Mr. Jones, I understand your anxieties, but please let the past be the past. We have much more pressing matters to deal with and Everyn needs female company,’ the last word to escape from Tanner’s mouth had a sharp emphasis on it, although spoken softly, was used with enough force to remind Jones who was the boss.
I could see the man with the granite face sag in defeat as he took a step back from the desk. I smiled at Amanda, glad that she would be joining us, but I didn’t understand why we had to leave.
‘Why are we moving again?’ I asked.
‘Because your body is changing, and none of us know what those changes might involve or what they’ll even look like, so if you spend a few days at my home, it will give you a chance to adjust and hopefully prepare for those changes well out of the way of the Solars or anyone else for that matter,’ said Tanner, rising to his feet and meeting us on the other side of his desk.
‘Sir, when do you want us to leave?’ Asked Jones, checking his pistol was loaded and ready before putting it back in its holster. I noted that myself and Amanda were the only ones without a weapon.
‘Shouldn’t we get a weapon each?’ I asked, hoping that Amanda would get one since I had no intention of touching a gun.
‘You don’t need a weapon,’ barked Jones, and I could see he was annoyed. I figured from that point onwards it was probably best not to ask for anything else, even the underwear I so desperately wanted.
‘I’ll tell the pilot to fuel up the chopper and prepare for take-off within the next, say, half hour. That should give you plenty of time to get from here to the airfield,’ said Tanner motioning for us to start walking.
Once we reached the elevator Tanner made it clear he was no longer taking questions and once we were inside the elevator I quickly planted myself against the doors as Jones and Amanda stood side by side like an unhappily married couple, against the glass.
‘Was she that scared on the way up?’ Asked Jones, turning to face Amanda.
‘Yeah, I was damn it,’ I growled at the pair of them as they both smirked at me.
The small airfield was located maybe about a forty minute drive just outside of the city limits and I’m pretty sure no one would know of its existence if it wasn’t for the sleek, black chopper sitting on the helipad.
Amanda sat quietly in the back of the Mustang, listening to it roar, as Jones remained behind the wheel and I took the passenger seat. I wasn’t all that great at travelling, but as long as I was in the front seat of the car I felt fine, although I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the flight in a helicopter.
‘Have you ever flown before, I mean other than how you got here?’ Asked Jones, easing the Mustang through the narrow gated entrance and turning right towards the helipad.
I shook my head, my stomaching knotting as we drew closer to the powerful looking vehicle.
‘Look down at your feet once you’re on board, at least for the first ten minutes of the journey, that should stop you from feeling dizzy,’ he explained, and I was pleasantly surprised to receive some nice advice from him.
Once the mustang was level with the chopper, Jones killed the engine and started to climb out with me and Amanda following quickly after him. As soon as the pilot saw us heading in his direction he started the engine and I watched as the rotors slowly turned at first and then quickly sped up until they were moving at a breakneck speed.
Jones waited until Amanda was on first, then he motioned for me to climb aboard before he took his place in the passenger seat at the front of the cockpit. No words were exchanged as the pilot quietly guided the chopper upwards, then we were banking left and zooming through the sky at a speed I had never experienced before.
We were about an hour into the journey when I spotted the black shape on the horizon. At first, I felt certain it was just a bird, probably wondering what we were doing on its territory, but as it got closer I could make out the rounded shape of its cockpit.
‘We’ve got company,’ I shouted over the drone of the rotors.
Jones glanced sharply to his right and out the window next to me. It took him a few seconds longer to pick out the shape but when he did, I could see his eyebrows cock in surprise.
I kept watching, as the newcomer got closer, it was a much bigger vehicle, armed with turrets on either side and instead of the sleek black paint like the chopper I was riding in, this one had that familiar military camouflage look about it.
‘Shit, this isn’t good,’ said Amanda, her face whiter than a sheet as she followed my gaze.
I could see Jones take out his gun as if it was somehow going to do any good that high in the air with the wind blowing. His accuracy was good, but I doubted it was that good.
The enemy chopper had a guy near its center bay, holding on to the thing while gripping a machine gun. I had just begun to wonder how long he would wait before he opened fire, when within seconds of that thought entering my mind, I could see the bright flashes of hot lead racing towards us.
I screamed as bullets punctured the metal just a few inches away from my leg. Amanda quickly joined in as puncture wounds started to appear everywhere.
‘If they hit the tank, were gone,’ shouted the pilot to Jones, who was already unclipping his seatbelt and climbing over into the back with me. Pulling the door open and gripping the back of the pilots’ seat, he took aim with his pistol.
I seriously doubted there was a hope in hell he would land a shot let alone do any damage with it. Where the hell where the foundation’s lethal little gadgets when we needed them?
But Jones was determined if nothing else. As the next hail of bullets came rushing towards us, he took aim at the pilot of the other helicopter, steadied himself and then opened fire.
I could feel my jaw slacken as the bullet punctured the windshield and there was a brief explosion of red mist before the pilot slumped forward, sending the enemy chopper into a tailspin and the guy manning the machine gun flying from the side. I could feel my stomach churn as I watched the poor man scream all the way to the ground below.
But I had another problem. One that had taken me completely by surprise.
A strange numbness started to spread from my side, and my hands instinctively went to the spot where I thought it started. Almost immediately I could feel something wet. When I brought my hands back for inspection, I noted that they were soaked with a purplish kind of fluid.
That wasn’t my blood, was it?
If it was then I was in serious trouble as I quickly put my hands back to stem the flow.
‘That’ll teach them,’ said Jones proudly, flashing me a smile before seeing the fear in my eyes, ‘What’s wrong?’
I nodded towards my side, trying my best not to let the fear get the better of me, as I slowly began to realise that I had been shot during the last barrage of bullets. I just hadn’t felt any pain because of the adrenaline.
Without saying anything, Jones dropped to his knees in front of me and gently peeled my hands out of the way so he could get a better look. I was quietly praying that he would pop back up with that all winning smile of his and tell me it was nothing more than a scratch.
Instead, he gave me a grave look as he too noticed the purple fluid on his hands. I was pretty certain in all the years living on Earth that my blood had never been that color. But whatever was happening to my body had obviously changed that.
‘We need to get you some medical attention honey,’ he said, then he turned and tapped the pilot on the shoulder asking him to find the next safe residence with a doctor.
I had no idea what that meant, but given my rising panic and fear of dying, the simple mentioning of a doctor was all I needed to agree to whatever he was thinking. Amanda quickly unbuckled her belt and like Jones before she dropped to her knees and studied my wound. I was too afraid to look myself, but if they wanted a gory eyeful then who was I to deny them their pleasure.
Amanda didn’t look as worried as Jones did, and when she turned away from my wound she quickly started ripping the hem of her skirt, until she had about a two-inch wide band of fabric in her hands and ragged looking mini-skirt at the end.
‘Try and relax Everyn, I’m going to use this as a tourniquet to try and stop the blood loss,’ she said, and with a nod from me she began to tie the strip of grey fabric around my midsection, pulling it tight to the point where I felt like I was being squeezed hard. ‘Try not to panic, think of anything that makes you feel happy and comfortable. Panic will cause your heart to speed up and you will lose more blood in the process.’
For a woman who was basically the office dogsbody, Amanda seemed to be full of talents I would have never have given a thought to. I tried to thank her as she took her seat again and held on to my hand, which I squeezed in appreciation since I couldn’t find the words.
She smiled back at me and repeated her mantra not to panic, which was easier said than done. I glanced up at Jones, who had been talking to the pilot. He was turning to face us as I looked up.
‘Okay, we’re going to land in a small town called Endersville. The foundation has assets there that can help us, and you,’ he said, looking directly at me, ‘You must be really hurt, your eyes are changing color again.’
I looked at him surprised, and then at Amanda for confirmation of this fact. She nodded again after taking a few moments to study them.
‘He’s right, they’ve turned blue now,’ she said, awe on her face at my weird little color changing orbs.
Wonderful, I had a new color to add to my collection.
I can vaguely remember feeling the chopper start its decent towards the ground. By the time we were close to Endersville my whole body felt numb. I still couldn’t feel any pain, but the blood was flowing despite Amanda’s best efforts to slow it down.
My vision drifted like a lazy ocean ripple in front of me until everything just seemed to slide away. Once again I was falling into that infinite darkness, just like I had done when I fainted back at the foundation building. Great, I’d be seriously pissed with Jones if I wake up naked again.
If I wake up at all.
‘Jones she’s slipping,’ I could hear Amanda’s worried voice before the blackness finally engulfed me completely.
I have no idea how long I was unconscious for, but I could smell the scent of bourbon in the air as my eye’s slowly opened. When my vision finally cleared, I was staring up at the twirling fan of a hotel room.
Then as the world became clearer and I realized I was alone, or at least I thought I was alone, a thought suddenly popped into my head. Finding the use of my hands once again, I quickly patted my body, expecting to feel nothing but skin. Instead, I felt relief wash over me as my fingertips touched the soft fabric of the cocktail dress.
‘Oh hey, you’re awake,’ I could hear Jones before his face was finally looking down on me, granite hard and just as emotionless.
‘Where are we?’ I asked, trying to decide how much pain I would be in if I tried to sit up.
‘We’re in the guest room of Uncle Joe’s, it’s a small bar we own in this town,’ he said, his voice a little apologetic, and I could smell alcohol on his breath.
I was almost tempted to ask for some of whatever he was drinking, but I doubted he would even give me a sniff from the glass let alone a sip. Besides, I’m pretty sure me and booze don’t go well together, I don’t know why I know that it’s just a feeling.
‘Did the doctor fix me?’ I asked, praying the answer would be yes.
Jones giggled at me and shook his head as if I had just asked him the dumbest question ever.
‘Honey, we didn’t even need to get the doc. By the time we got you in here your wound had healed all on its own.’
Frowning, I felt for the part of the dress that was ripped and when I located it I could feel nothing but flesh under my fingertips. It was then I decided to sit up and try and take in the rest of the room. I had been laying on the couch, and directly across from that was a bed on which Amanda was lying fast asleep, or at least that’s what I first thought.
‘How long has she been sleeping for?’ I asked, curious how she could nod off in such a tense time of our lives.
‘Oh, she fainted when she removed your tourniquet and saw your wound had healed. That’s how I knew a doctor wasn’t needed,’ he chuckled to himself and took another sip of his drink which was indeed a large one even for him.
‘Oh,’ was all I could say as I tried to push myself further up and quickly put my hand on a wet patch. When I brought it up to my face for inspection I saw that familiar purple liquid and quickly noted with a glance down that I had soaked the rather moth-eaten couch, so I don’t think it was any great loss. When do we leave again then?’
‘Well, that’s going to be a bit of a problem. It turns out the chopper took more than a few hits to its fuselage, so its flying days are pretty much over. I’ve been in touch with HQ but no one can seem to get hold of Tanner, which is really odd. He very rarely leaves his desk during the day.’ Said Jones, gulping down the rest of his drink.
I could tell by the look on his face that something else was going on with him. Something was bothering him and he just hadn’t said it yet. I expected it was probably having to chaperone me and a woman he clearly had a history with, although I doubted it was the good kind of history.
‘What’s eating at you?’ I asked, as I swung my legs off the couch and found my feet touching the dirty carpet wasn’t such a bad experience.
‘All communications from the foundation out to the rest of the gang are secure. And by secure I mean even the CIA hasn’t been able to crack the encryption we use, so what I can’t understand is how The Solars were able to find us in the sky,’ he said, sipping gingerly at his drink.
I had to think about what he was saying. I didn’t know much about the technology The Stargazer Foundation used, but I took him at his word if he said it was unbreakable then I had no reason to doubt it was. But that being said, I could tell there was an underlying accusation in his tone of voice. He wasn’t insinuating that someone eavesdropped on the communications. In a roundabout way, he was telling me he suspected someone was passing the information along from inside the building.
‘Who?’ I asked, knowing what he was getting at.
I watched as his head tilted towards the bed but his voice spoke a different name.
‘Tanner. I think the old man has got sick of working for the families and decided to go for early retirement,’ he said, again nodding towards Amanda who seemed to be still unconscious.
I glanced over at the poor woman. She had shown me nothing but kindness since she met me. I found it difficult to believe such a sweet natured woman would be one of the few out to get me.
‘Do you really think it would be Tanner, though?’ I asked, hoping to persuade him that he might be wrong.
‘Well, how else did they know about our little excursion, Everyn?’
That was a damn fine question, and I wish I had an answer for all our sakes, but my mind was drawing a blank. I could feel my belly rumble as I glanced over at the bed again to see the older woman stir and then rub at her eyes.
‘It’s okay, he thinks I’m the one that gave the information away,’ said Amanda, pushing herself up onto her elbows and blinking the sleep from her eyes.
‘Well, you’re the only one that would have good reason to do such a thing,’ growled Jones, and I could see his free hand twitch as if it was pulling the trigger of a gun.
‘And what good reason would that be Mr. Jones? Yes, everyone knows my father turned out to be a thief, but hey working in the company of criminals tends to make a person do what they think is best for themselves. I stayed in my job so that I could prove to everyone that I wasn’t like him. I wasn’t a thief, I wasn’t just out to get something for myself,’ she cried at him, and I could see the hurt in her eyes.
I knew that look better than anyone and I could tell there was no play acting going on here. She was speaking from the heart and that’s the best place to come from when you’re telling the truth.
‘Then who the hell else could it be, if it wasn’t you. Because no matter what, someone is feeding these people details and sooner rather than later they are going to outnumber us by a factor of ten. There is only so much I can do with one gun,’ yelled Jones, making it clear he was frustrated more than anything else.
I sat on the couch, feeling much like a small child watching her parents argue, hands clasped in front of me and trying to ignore the rumbling in my belly.
‘Your first answer was probably the best,’ retorted Amanda, anger all over her face.
‘Tanner? You really think a man who has given his entire life to the foundation would happily give away its most powerful asset?’ countered Jones and that stung me the hardest.
I could feel my heart sink as the pair continued their argument. I wasn’t a person with thoughts and feelings anymore, I was nothing more than an asset. Something that had value, but just not that much value to be counted along with the rest of the human race.
‘Well, either way, I’m sure as hell, not the one you’re looking for, and if it is Tanner then we have a much bigger set of problems because no matter where we go the foundation is going to find us,’ Amanda’s cheeks were now bright red with anger.
I already felt like excess baggage and if that kind old man was actually the reason why these two people could end up losing their lives, then I thought it was best that I should no longer be around them.
It was time to grow up and strike out on my own. Of course, I knew Jones wasn’t going to let me simply walk away. I would need to wait until they were both sleeping before I could make my move.
‘You know what, let’s all just take a chill and spend the night here. Maybe by morning our heads will be clearer and we can find a solution to this problem,’ said Jones, downing the last of his drink before slipping off his suit jacket.
As the night wore on, I opted to keep the couch and Jones begrudgingly accepted the fact he would need to sleep next to Amanda, who didn’t seem all that thrilled by his company either.
I must have lain awake for hours, listening to them breath and in Jones case, snore. Once I felt certain that they were out cold, I grabbed Amanda’s shoes. They were a size bigger than my own feet, but still comfortable enough for me to walk in. If I ever saw her again I would apologize for stealing them, but with a little luck that would be a long time coming.
The room door led out into a narrow hallway which had another door leading to the outside. I prayed it wasn’t alarmed as I pushed down on the metal bar and made my way out into the cold night air.
Glancing back towards the room, I realised that this was for the best. I was going to have to strike out on my own and see if I could find out the truth of my origins without dragging everyone else down with me.
Quietly, I closed the door behind me and started walking.
The only question I needed to ask myself was; where am I going to go?
As I headed into the night, I realised that the best and only place for me to go was back to the farm. The one place where I felt like I had belonged.
You can make excuses for your skin tone changing but you can’t hide the fact that your irises won’t stop moving. This is something Helen realizes when she wakes up one morning to find that her body has started changing, slowly transforming her form a normal eighteen year old to something far more exotic. Not long after her body starts to change, Helen learns the truth: She’s not from this world. However, she also learns that a particularly nasty group of people known as The Solars are hunting her. Fortunately she has help in the form of Mr Jones. Mr Jones is an agent for the Stargazer Foundation. A private company owned by three of America’s largest crime families. In a bid to protect Helen from The Solars, Jones must take her to New York, where she can learn the truth about her past, and what her future might hold. But will they make it to their destination alive?