by Clyde Andrews
Part 1 and Part 2|
in issue 273.
Part 4 appears
in this issue.
|part 3 of 4|
“We can hide within you. You have plenty of space-”
“Hey, I thought you said I was intelligent!”
Mondaras flashed yellow. If Roy understood their light patterns, he’d swear Mondaras was laughing. “In your lungs, Roy.”
“But it will make you uncomfortable and short of breath. Even though we are ‘light’, we do, believe it or not, have some physical substance. I would imagine you’d be unable to have us within you for very long.”
“So long as I can get into the building, that’ll be all the time I need.”
Roy clunked the car into reverse. He took in a deep breath, realising he was going to see his Dad: his lying, no good, breaking all his promises Dad. His stomach felt queasy again as he backed the car up. He should be home with Mum, for he knew the ethereals were only using him to get into the building, and ultimately onto the probe. Once they had achieved that — well, time will tell, he supposed.
Roy, grinding the car into first gear, realised he had absolutely no idea where this so-called institute was. “Which way do I go?”
“We will guide you.”
“Somehow I knew you were going to say that.”
* * *
Over an hour later Roy pulled his car into a car park that looked for all intents and purposes just like any other. Somehow he was expecting guard dogs, security fences with razor wire, and burly blokes carrying menacing machine guns. This building looked like an office block and a normal looking office block at that: steel, glass, landscaped gardens, and neat. Roy felt cheated.
A sign in front of the building read: ‘Solaris Research and Launch Facility.’ Under that it read: John Edgars and Co. Incorporated. Roy swallowed hard.
“Are you all right?”
“Let’s just get this over and done with.”
Roy stepped out of the car, traversed the car park quickly and opened the front door of the building. He slipped inside as quietly as he could. He didn’t look back; he didn’t waste time. He just wanted to get this done.
He came to a long hallway, which had a reception desk at the far end. Just by him and to his left was a door. Roy tested the handle of the door. It turned. He didn’t need to look back to see if the ethereals were behind him; his shadow was cast strong against the door as he opened it. He snuck inside, noticing straight away it was a storage room. He didn’t need to turn on the light.
“You guys stay here, I’ll go check out who’s at reception first.”
The ethereals flashed green. Roy took that as a yes.
As Roy stepped out into the hallway and crept closer to reception — his back firmly to the wall — he spied a girl he recognised from when he had been in school. Hazel was her name. Yes, Hazel, and she was tending the reception desk.
Roy gasped. He stood silent and still, looking at her for a very long time. She was simply beautiful, just like he remembered. She had a beauty, a natural beauty he found attractive. He realised he was standing there staring, his mouth agape. He snapped himself out of it, remembering the reason for being here. Creeping back into the room where he had left the ethereals, Roy clung to the wall as if it were his lifeline. He knew he couldn’t go on. Not only that, he would be holed up in this utility room forever with a couple of aliens, too.
He’d made up his mind. He just couldn’t get past Hazel without stuffing it all up. He admitted to himself there and then that not only did he fancy her, but she would recognise him. The jig was up before it had even started.
“Why is your heart palpitating, Roy?” Mondaras asked in an off-handed manner. “Does it require something?”
Roy, remembering they could see into him, blushed, and not for the first time since meeting the ethereals, either. He reacted by saying, “None of your business... Let’s just concentrate on the matter at hand. I... I can handle m-myself.” He waved his hand in an off-handed manner, only thinking about how stupid he sounded as he justified a natural function of his body. His cheeks were now an intense red.
“As you wish,” Mondaras said. “But are you angered?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You’re displaying a crimson shade.”
“Oh, um, no,” Roy continued. “I’m — oh, gosh how do I explain human nature to an alien that isn’t even corporal?”
“Explain... then we all learn.”
“It’s normal for a male to... Um, I don’t think we have the time to go through human biology at this stage. We’d better get on with it.”
“You’re right, of course, Roy,” Mondaras’ body splashed a kaleidoscope of colours before returning to white. “If you say it’s normal, then we’re not concerned. Lead on, good friend.”
Roy had the proof right there and then that they could definitely see through anything. Which gave him an idea. “Say, can you see where my Dad is?”
“Yes, of course. As easily as we see anything else,” Mondaras said. “But don’t you think it’s time we got inside you — to get past that secretary your body reacts to.”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t remind me,” Roy said, looking up to heaven. “Okay, get on with it. What do I have to do?”
“Breathe in deep — we will enter you that way.”
Roy did so and, as he took in air, the alien light that was Mondaras and Escallosh travelled with it. Moments later Roy’s lungs were filled with the ethereals, leaving only a small amount of space left for him to continue breathing.
The first thing Roy noticed was the intense pressure from within himself. It felt exactly like he’d just dived into deep water and just as uncomfortable: his ears even popped.
“My God,” Roy gasped, doubling over straight away. “Now I know... how that chick... in the Alien movie must have... felt. This is... ahh, steady on... This damn well hurts... like hell.”
We are sorry, but we told you it would be difficult. We will try and make you as comfortable as possible, but I cannot tell how long you can carry us like this.
“Say, you’re... talking... to me... differently.”
Yes, we are communicating with you using mental sound. I think this is best. Otherwise to hear my voice out loud could jeopardise your efforts.
Roy staggered to the door, pushing on it. It opened with a crash and he fell over himself as the door swung open. Not only was his breathing shallow, his legs felt weak and he began to sweat. In fact everything was an effort all of a sudden. He could even feel his heart beat, which was probably squashed between his alien filled lungs. To any onlookers he’d look drunk or on drugs.
And just when I only had one glass to drink tonight too, he thought.
What was that, Roy?
It was clear the ethereals could pick up on his thoughts also; the communication working both ways.
“Never mind. — Shh, I’m... nearly at... the reception... desk,” he wheezed.
Roy walked the best he could up to reception, colliding with absolutely everything. Hazel, disturbed by the commotion, looked up as soon as the glass doors slid open and Roy entered the room.
“Roy! What are you doing here?” Hazel cried, dashing away from behind the desk and running over to him.
“Hi... Hazel,” Roy gasped, utterly exhausted from the short walk.
“My god, what’s happened to you, Roy?”
“Nothin’ I-I... ahh!”
Hazel jumped then grabbed Roy by the shoulder. “Here come and sit down,” she said, guiding him to a plush looking sofa that sat nestled between two indoor palm trees.
“No, no. I... need to see... my... Dad. Quick! I can’t hold out... much... longer with... this.”
Hazel looked puzzled but did as Roy instructed. She went back to her desk and picked up the phone. “Can I speak to Mr. Edgars please?” A moment of silence. “Sure... It’s his son here to see him. I think it’s urgent.”
“Well?” Roy slurred.
“He’s coming,” Hazel said, looking concerned all of a sudden. “Are you sure you’re all right? You’re sweating like a race horse, Roy, and you’re as white as a sheet, too.”
“I’m... fine... couldn’t be... better,” Roy said, his eyes clenched closed and his face screwed up.
“Look, you’re obviously in-”
Before Hazel could even add another thought to her words, John Edgars stepped into reception from a back entrance.
“Roy! Bloody hell, what the hell’s the matter with you? Where’s your mother? You’re not drunk again!? That’s all I need.”
“Dad... I-I-I need to see... you.”
So much for that impression you wanted to give him. Mondaras’ thoughts reverberated around his mind and Roy winced.
Breathing heavily and worried about whether or not he could continue holding the aliens in his lungs, Roy did manage to notice his Dad standing there looking dumbfounded.
“Com’on quick, come with me into my office,” John added, lifting his son from the sofa. “Hazel, thanks for your assistance, you can return to work now.”
“Yes, Mr. Edgars, sir.” She took one final look at Roy before returning to her duties.
Roy noticed, in the pain induced haze, that she gave him a look that consisted of battering eyelashes and a quirky smile. He smiled, as difficult as it was to do so.
* * *
Roy noticed his Dad slam his office door once they were in his office. He knew he was upset, but what confirmed it was the way his Dad plonked him roughly on the first available office chair, saying in a gruff voice, “What the hell are you playing at, boy?”
You can’t reveal us yet. You need to talk to your father. He is the key. You are the key. Working together is the only way we can return home, free from this place.
“He won’t understand... He’s too... pig-headed.”
“I beg your pardon. At least have the decency to give me a proper coherent answer. Is that too much to ask?”
“I want to... know what you... do here, Dad. It’s... important.”
“What?” John said, looking surprised.
“Why... didn’t you tell... me what you... do?”
“You never gave me a chance, Roy... So I made up anything. I didn’t think you cared. You’ve come all this way for nothing.”
Roy mustered up all his strength, for he had to tell his father what he knew. “I know that... you’re... working on a... probe. It’ll be launched soon. There is something I need... you to... know. I have to get to the probe. I have to send some... friends home.”
“My god, son. You’re not only drunk out of your mind, you’re doped up on drugs too,” John spat.
“You’re... such a... bastard.”
“That’s the only thing you’ve said to me that makes sense. Now go home, Roy. I’ll get someone to drive you,” John said picking up the phone. “We’ll talk about this later.”
“See... I-I... told you he’d never... understand.”
Breathe out, it is premature, but we must show ourselves to him. He does not believe you.
Roy’s face contorted. His arms and legs began flailing as he tried with every last ounce of strength to expel the ethereals. John looked on in horror, dropping the phone before he could even press the first number.
Roy gagged, and his father rushed to his side. Helpless to do anything but try and comfort his son. “What’s happening to you?” he screamed.
Roy, as he pushed out every molecule of air from his lungs and the ethereals began to flow from his open mouth, threw up over his father’s swish looking office carpet. Once they were out, he slumped back in the chair, exhausted, relieved, and saturated from perspiration, his hair plastered to his forehead.
His father could only stare wide-eyed at the two phantoms shimmering in front of him projecting an eerie luminosity that splashed his office walls.
Roy said in a hoarse voice, “See, Dad. I’m not drunk.”
Roy saw his Dad turn slowly toward him. “I think you’d better tell me everything. Right from the beginning.”
* * *
Roy and the ethereals put all their cards on the table, which Roy enjoyed. Not only was he talking with his father, his father was listening to him as well.
“It’s been so long since we’ve talked like this,” John said.
“Since Mum had the accident a year ago, I think.”
“And that’s been about how long we’ve — I’ve been preparing for this launch,” John conceded. “Being the boss, I do my own hours. I think I let that get a little out of control. Oh, Roy, I should have been there for you more... but-”
“I think we’ve both been pig-headed,” Roy admitted, standing up and dusting off his jeans in preparation to leave the office and get on with getting the ethereals home.
“I’m so relieved you... oh gosh, Dad, I’m just so happy you do care for us.”
“Of course I do, Roy.”
“I... hate to admit it, but I thought you didn’t care,” Roy said quietly, as if ashamed. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“Roy, don’t apologise. I have been at fault too. Like you said: we’ve both been pig-headed. It should be me that apologises to you, after all, I thought you were drunk or something. I should have given you the benefit of the doubt.”
Roy, seizing the opportunity, embraced his Dad with a tight embrace. Roy was pleased his Dad returned it.
Mondaras flashed yellow. “See, the bond between you is more than you know. Just like I said.”
“There’s something else you should know before we go to the loading room,” John added.
Copyright © 2007 by Clyde Andrews