Prose Header

The Eclipse

by Clyde Andrews

Part 3 appears
in this issue

“What, Dad?” Roy said, concern evident in his voice.

“The loading room, where the main body of the probe is kept — the sensitive stuff — well, that room is now under lockdown. I don’t think that even I could get in there now.”

“We’ve got to try, if nothing else.”

The ethereals white light bodies speckled dark tones, and the humming increased. “We can’t fail now. We must go home. Please,” Mondaras pleaded.

John looked from one to the other, before he rested his gaze on Roy. John said softly, “Okay. I’ll try — come on, let’s go.”

Roy smiled.

John clicked his fingers as a thought had just occurred to him. “Say — you’re going to have to do that ‘swallow the aliens’ trick again. I certainly won’t be able to explain them.”

“I don’t suppose there’s a better way, is there? From what happened last time I won’t be able to walk and talk at the same time. It was just too damn hard. Besides, Hazel already thinks I’m a drunken idiot.” Roy looked up into his dad’s eyes. “I think I blew any chance with her.”

“I’m sure she doesn’t — hang on, I can use this. I’ll say you’re my sick son visiting the institute. That’ll be plausible.” John said with enthusiasm. “Yeah, I can pull that off. You’re going to have to carry them, hopefully for the last time. I can see no other way.”

The ethereals flashed brightly, their tones far more joyous than only moments ago.

“See, the aliens seem to agree,” John added with a cheeky smile.

“Somehow I knew they would.”

Roy, from the corner of his eye, could see his Dad watch in awe as the ethereals took their place inside his lungs. Instantly Roy’s breathing became laboured and he was unable to stand fully upright.

Roy tried to walk unaided again, but found it difficult, especially so soon after the last time. Roy noticed his Dad suddenly looked uncomfortable, and rushed to his side, helping him to the loading room by holding onto him tight.

“Just concentrate on walking, Roy. Let me do all the talking.”

Ever so carefully Roy was led out of the office by his Dad. Together they proceeded down the hall, slowly but surely.

* * *

At the end of the third hallway Roy had had just about as much as he could tolerate.

“Nearly there,” John said in a soft reassuring tone. Roy noticed that his Dad had to support him more and more with each passing step. “Just past this next door. Then we’re in.”

This time, Roy was worse than before; he had no sensation below his waist. If it wasn’t for his father literally holding him up and dragging him along, he wouldn’t have known what he would have done or how he would have done it.

“This reminds me of the time I took your mother into hospital when she was in labour with you,” John said with a joviality Roy hadn’t heard from him in — well, in a year at least. Roy managed a quivering smile. But only just.

“I... miss you being... there for me. I need... help with... Mum... you know,” Roy said with difficulty. It hurt to say it, but he just had to let his Dad know how he felt. “I will be around from now on, I promise, Roy,” John said. “I did all this for you and your mother, you know. Even though I went about it all wrong. I should have told you everything.”

“That... would have... been better.”

“I know, and it will never happen again,” John said, his voice wavering. He added, “I don’t think I could have done all this without you though.”

“Thanks... I needed to... hear that.”

When they reached the door at the end of the passage, John leaned out to open it, focusing his efforts on both holding up Roy and reaching for the handle. He needn’t have bothered, for no sooner had he begun to do so than the door opened. Standing there was a uniformed man: plump, muscular, and looking rather unimpressed.

“Hank, is it?”

“Yes, Mr. Edgars, sir.”

“Just showing Roy, my son, the loading room,” John said. Roy noticed his Dad give Hank a blank stare, at the same time as he placed Roy against the wall as carefully as he could.

“You know the rules, sir. Heck, I bet you invented them. No entry after lockdown. To anyone... sir.”

“Can’t you see my son is sick? Well-”

“I surely can,” the guard said, deliberately interrupting.

“And can’t you see he really wants to see the loading room? Surely you can grant him this one wish.”

“What sort of security guard would I be, sir, if I let any Tom, Dick, or Harry pass? You wouldn’t have hired me if I couldn’t be trusted to do a proper job, now would you, sir?”

“Good point, Hank. And I understand completely-”

Again the guard interrupted, relishing the limited power he had over his boss at this particular point in time. “Then this’ll be easy.” He smirked, adding, “No entry to anyone. End of STORY!”

“That’s good, Hank,” John said as he turned to walk away. “But I don’t have time for this, Hank.”

“I’m doin’ my job, is all.”

“Get out of my way and that’s an order, Hank. Either that, or I’ll have you removed,” John stated.

“Then you’ll have to remove me by force,” Hank replied, folding his arms in defiance.

“I beg your pardon, what did you say to me?”

“You heard... sir.”

Roy observed that his Dad didn’t walk away. Instead he saw him pirouette on the spot and proceeded to try and land a right hook into the security guard’s face. The guard, trained and wary of such things, ducked just in time. John’s punch only found the air.

The next instant John charged at Hank, screaming as he made physical contact with the burly man. Both were now locked in a bear hug and tumbling around on the floor.

They twisted and turned, cursing and screaming for a few moments more before Hank finally managed to free himself from his boss’ clutches. John attempted another punch. Hank dodged it again and this time it was he who initiated the tackle. Both men hit the floor with a dull thud.

Roy didn’t know what to do, and he was certainly in no condition to help his Dad.

“Run, Roy! Get into the loading...”

Roy, exhausted, but angered by what he was witnessing, pulled himself away from the wall. He staggered to the door using the wall as support. His breathing now erratic.

“Run, Roy... I don’t know how much longer I-” John copped a punch fair in the stomach, having only just managed to get to his feet. He yelped as Hank set upon him yet again.

Roy pushed on the door and tried with all his might, all his remaining strength, and all of his willpower to pass through it. The lack of oxygen to his body was really taking its toll now.

Come on, Roy, we believe in you. You can do it. Just like your father says you can.

Roy picked up his pace, his legs now acting independently of the rest of his body, going in all directions possible. He looked stupid, but he didn’t care. He had to do this. His father needed him to do this. Eventually, once he gained momentum, he managed something that could be considered a brisk ‘walk’.

Roy stumbled into the loading room, fatigued and breathless, but happy. His reward for accomplishing this task, however, was to collapse onto the floor. He took a final gasp for air before the ethereals made their exit. This time he blacked out.

* * *

Waking with his remaining stomach contents next to him, he recoiled from both the sight and smell of it.

“Oh god, I hate that so much,” Roy said, pushing himself away and getting up off the floor.

“We’re glad you’re all right, Roy,” Mondaras said, positively shimmering with happy colours.

Just then John burst into the room, locking the door behind him. He looked frantic “Quick, get into the probe. We don’t have much time. It’s due for loading within the hour.” John gasped. “I, however, have a feeling Hank will free himself long before then.”

“What about Lapizious? Aren’t you going to wait for him before you get into the probe?” Roy questioned with genuine concern.

Mondaras and Escallosh conferred with each other briefly. Mondaras said, “We thought you understood.”

Roy looked at them, then at his father; John shrugged his shoulders. Roy returned his gaze to the ethereals. “NO, I don’t understand.”

“Lapizious won’t be coming with us.”

“What? Why? What’s happened? Mum, what’s happened to Mum?” Roy cried, turning as pale as stone.”

Roy felt his dad’s arm firmly around his shoulder, he was comforting him. “I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation.” He turned to the ethereals. “Everything will be okay, right?”

“Yes,” Escallosh said, gliding forward to meet Roy at close range. “Lapizious is a carer. He, therefore, is caring for your mother... Forever. He has become one with her and she is now walking the path to recovery with him.”

Roy couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and a lump began to form in his throat. “What did you say?”

“Lapizious and your mother are one. He is more skilled than we are at joining. No filling lung space with him, no, he has become one with her. Just like her blood is inseparable from her body, so too is Lapizious.”

“I-I don’t know what-” Roy couldn’t finish his sentence. He choked up and hid his face in his father’s chest. John too was affected by this news and he returned his son’s affection, hugging him tight.

“We shall go now. How can we ever repay you?” Mondaras interjected.

Roy saw his Dad look at the ethereals with watery eyes. “You already have.”

“I have to... go... and see her, Dad.”

John, looking down at Roy, nodded, then whispered, “You go, Roy. I’ll see to it the aliens — err, sorry, ethereals — are in the probe when it’s loaded. You go.”

“Again, we thank you,” Mondaras and Escallosh added together.

With that, the ethereals, in the same way they had entered Roy, swirled into the small hatch of the probe.

“Take my solar telescope so you can see the eclipse. Hazel knows where it is.”

“Mr. Edgars, sir. I think we have something to sort out,” Hank said as he strolled into the loading room, startling Roy.

“That we do, Hank. That we do,” John said. “You should get an immediate pay raise for doing your job above and beyond the call of duty.”


“Come, let’s talk about it.” Roy saw his Dad look down to him again. “Go, Roy, please.”

Roy let go of his father, took one final look at the probe, then left, saying, “See you soon, Dad.”

* * *

Roy, ever so tired from recent ordeals, drove as fast as was permissible back to his home. He was just so eager to see his Mum better he felt queasy, nervous even. Once there he burst into his house, only to be greeted by the heavenly sight of his mother making herself a cup of tea. As soon as they reached each other they both hugged. It was an embrace Roy had wanted to give his mother on so many occasions lately, but couldn’t because of her condition. He didn’t want to let go just in case this was all just a dream.

“Ow, you’re going to hurt me you know,” Roy’s Mum said softly. But to Roy it was said with such warmth, such compassion that he knew this wasn’t a dream. This was his Mum.

Roy tried to stop himself, but his emotions overcame him. He broke down in his mother’s arms. “Mum, I’m — oh, I’m just so happy you’re back with me and Dad.”

He felt the tears stream down his face as she pulled on his chin, making him look directly into her eyes. Her was touch so soft. “All thanks to you, Roy. I love you so much, darling.”

Roy couldn’t help himself, he wept like a little boy. “I... I love you... too.”

“Now, get some sleep. We can watch the eclipse together later on.”

“Lapizious has told you everything, hasn’t he?”

“It’s different from what you know from your experience. Lapizious is part of me, not just inside me,” she said, her brow furrowing. She smiled a smile both broad and welcoming. “But generally speaking, yes, that’s true. Now go to bed, mister.”

“Aye, aye, captain,” Roy said, saluting.

Copyright © 2007 by Clyde Andrews

Proceed to Challenge 274...

Home Page