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How would YOU react to this?
Friday finally came.
I got home from school to see my dad’s car packed to bursting point withcamping supplies. The pile on top reminded me of the Goofy Movie… only this car was newer.
I made sure they’d packed the duffel bag I’d put together the nightbefore, and got in the back seat. With my iPod in one hand and my astronomybook in the other, I was ready to endure the night. While I waited for them tofinish their last minute things, I did a mental review of my first week atschool. I thought mainly of Ryan. Fifth-period-English was now the highlight ofmy day. He had also been over at my house every afternoon since the bloodyincident on Tuesday. We did homework, cooked, cleaned, and generally putzedaround and enjoyed each other’s company.
Now I would be facing an entire day without him, until tomorrow night’sdance.
My parents got into the car, Mom talking up a storm, and Dad listening.
The drive only took about fifteen minutes. We didn’t go all the way up tothe summit of Pikes Peak, but stopped at a campground area about two-thirds ofthe way up the mountain.
I sat in the car and continued reading while Mom and Dad unpacked and setup. By the time I looked around, I could see two tents, a fire burningsurrounded by three lawn chairs, and some cooked burgers on a warm grill. Theparents were nowhere in sight.
You’d think they would at least tell me where they were going, maybe askme to come along. I like nature.
I got out of the car and into my tent. I unrolled my sleeping bag andorganized my things, then went out to fix myself a burger.
As I ate, the sky began to darken. I leaned back in my chair, tilting myhead so I could see the sky. One by one the stars came out, and soon the moonrose over the horizon as well, giving more light to the earth.
I was struck all at once by how fluidly every element of nature workedwith the rest. The sun, moon, and stars, the plants, animals, and insects;every piece was flawless in itself, and worked seamlessly with the others. I closedmy eyes and breathed in the cool mountain air.
“Wasn’t that bird amazing, honey? When it swooped out of the sky andsnatched up that fish, I couldn’t believe we’d actually witnessed it!”
I jumped when I heard Mom’s voice approaching the campsite.
I sat a little straighter, and when they came into view I said, “Hi.”
“Hi, isn’t it beautiful up here?” Mom said quickly.
“Night,” Dad mumbled, ducking into their tent.
He always was strong and silent.
“I’m tired too, that hike wore me out,” Mom said. “Don’t stay up too latedear.”
“Um, I won’t, night.”
I listened to them chat quietlywhile they got ready for bed. Soon their quiet voices were replaced by softeven breathing and I knew they were out.
I felt my phone buzz in my pocket, jarring me from my thoughts. It wasnice to know that I still had signal here. I pulled it out and saw that I’dreceived a text from Ryan.
“How’s the air up there?” he asked.
I smiled while I typed, “Thin, but I’m sure you knew that. It’s beautifulup here.”
A few minutes later I got another text from him that said, “I had afeeling you’d like it.”
I looked at the time before putting my phone back in my pocket; it wasnearly nine pm. I wrapped my arms around my chest. It was getting cool forSeptember. I sighed as the thought of Ryan’s arms to warm me came to mind.
I needed to get to sleep.
I stood and walked toward my tent. Then I stopped when a twig snappednearby. I turned to see a man standing in the shadows, calmly watching me.
His appearance made me nervous. Who was he? How long had he beenwatching, and why? I had some pepper spray in my backpack, but that was farinside my tent. If I went in there, I’d be trapped.
He held his hands up and said, “Please, do not be afraid. I am only hereto speak to you.”
I noticed then that he was dressed funny. He wore robes of a light shade,tied at the waist by a dark sash. I couldn’t identify the colors because of thedarkness. His feet were bare, as was the top of his head. His hair was light,and his face was lined. He took a cautious step forward.
“Don’t move,” I said boldly.
He stopped. “I need to speak to you,” he said calmly, his hands stillraised.
“You can talk to me from there. Tell me who you are and why you’re hereand I’ll decide if I want to listen.” Who was I kidding; I didn’t have a weaponto make threats with. I might be able to outrun him, but that would leave himwith my parents, and though it’d be something I’d joke about, I really didn’twant that either.
To my surprise, he quickly agreed.
“That is fine. My name is Faolan. Please, remain calm.”
“Why are you here, Faolan?”
“Please, may I approach?” he said.
I knew I was just getting drawn in, but I said, “Not too close.”
He slowly moved out from the shadows. When the moonlight hit his face Igasped.
His eyes were like mine.
“Now do you trust me?” he asked.
I couldn’t speak, but I wasn’t ready to trust him entirely. I knew thatthe color of our eyes could not be duplicated with contacts, so he was at leastbeing truthful about that.
“Please, Maelie,” he started.
“How do you know my name?”
“How did you know I have eyes like yours? Did the nurse tell you?” Isounded like my mom now.
“Maelie, calm down; no one told me, I already knew. Now please, have aseat.” He motioned toward the lawn chairs by the fire. I kept my eyes on him asI went to sit. My heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my throat. Whowas this man? And how did he know who I was?
When we were seated, he looked at me and said, “What I am about to tellyou is something you may not believe at first. I implore you to trust me.” Atleast he was well spoken.
I nodded, “Go on.”
“You are not a native of this world. You and I were both born on a planetcalled Netáe, located in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s aboutfive-thousand light years from Earth. The color of our eyes is caused by the atmosphereon Netáe. Are you following so far?”
I could tell that my eyes had glazed over at his words. My mouth wasopen, and I quickly closed it. “Why should I believe you?”
“Because I’m telling you the truth,” he said quickly. He sighed andrubbed his eyes with a hand. “They warned me you’d react this way, but I mustadmit I didn’t believe them.”
“Who? React what way? What are you talking about?”
“Your parents. They’re known for their stubbornness, and they warned meyou may have followed suite.”
“My parents? But they’re…” my voice trailed off as I turned to the tentwhere my adoptive mother and father were sleeping. “My parents?” I whisperedagain.
“Yes,” Faolan said. “Your father is the chief advisor to the King, andyour mother is the court physician. They are very well known on Netáe.” He waswatching me carefully to see how I’d react. “Would you like to see an image ofthem?”
“A picture of my parents? My realparents?”
“Not a picture exactly,” he said. “One moment.” He closed his eyes and Iwatched as a sphere of light appeared in the air between us. It looked like around television, with images playing on it. I saw two people, a man and awoman, dressed similarly to Faolan, but in robes of deeper colors. They were greetingpeople upon entering what looked like a council room. They were tall andslender. The man’s black hair was greying at the temples, but the woman’s wasas deep as night.
The people being greeted also had black hair, but their body types variedfrom short to tall, stout to thin, muscular to weak, just as we do on earth.How I was seeing this, I had no idea, but I stared for quite some time at thetwo he focused on as my parents. Then the light began to fade, and soon theimage was gone.
Faolan took a deep breath before continuing, “Your father’s name isLesan, and your mother’s is Maela. The tradition of naming a child for bothparents was obviously performed for you. Lucky for me, your earth parents likedthe name and kept it.”
I stared at the space where the image had been. If my birth parents werestill alive… “Why am I here then, instead of on… what was the name?”
“Netáe. And the answer is a simple one. Fifteen years ago a neighboringplanet declared war on us. We are generally a peaceful people, so we tried toreason with them. It soon became clear that they were not interested intreaties or compromises. Drastic measures had to be taken. We gathered thechildren of the leadership and sent them here with guardians. The guardians wereto watch over you until you were safely in the hands of a caring human family,then return to fight – which they all did. There are only five of you. A fewmonths ago, we finally prevailed over our enemies, and peace was restored. Itis time for you and the others to return home,” he paused, watching mecarefully “your families are anxious to see you again.”
I looked at the tent where my ‘earth’ parents were sleeping. They hadn’ttreated me like they cared in years, but I wondered how they’d react if I justup and left? Would they search for me? Would Mom cry? Would Dad say nice thingsabout me?
My phone buzzed, and I jumped again. It was another text from Ryan. Ryan!He was one of the five!
Wait… I shook my head to clear it. Why was I so ready to believe this?
“Because it is true.” I heardin my head.
I looked up at Faolan, who was smiling sheepishly. “I’m sorry,” he said.“I couldn’t resist.”
“Did you do that?” I asked inshock.
He nodded, “I did. Thisis something else unique to our race. You see, we are descended from the humanswho lived here on earth during the Grecian Empire. A man named Atalo lived in Athens.Through his work, he discovered a way to enhance the human mind. I’m sure youknow that humans actively use only ten percent of their brain power. Atalofound a means to break that barrier. He did it for himself and his wife andchildren. When people found out what he was doing, they accused him of manythings; stealing power from the Gods, using tricks from the devil, and being amagician, just to name a few. He was reviled, stoned, ridiculed…. He needed anew place to live, not among these humans. He took his family into thewilderness, and searched the galaxy for a new home. He found an empty planet,much like Earth, and settled there. He called the place Netáe.We are his posterity.”
Wow. That was a lot to take in.
“So how did you…”
“I’m sure you’ve heard of Telepathy – the ability to communicate withyour mind. We also have the powers of Telekinesis, and Teleportation, allthrough our mental abilities. Some are more gifted than others, of course. Justas some humans are better writers or speakers, so we each have our strengthsand weaknesses.”
“So, I can do that too?” I asked.
“Of course. Would you like to try?” At first I thought he was kidding,but he looked completely serious.
“H-how do I do it?” I stammered.
“Just think of doing it. It should come naturally to you,” he assured me.
I had no idea what he was talking about.
“You did it!” He shouted.
“You did it! See? It’s that easy!”
“What do you mean, I did it. I wasn’t trying to do anything!”
“Ah, then it will be easier for you than I thought,” he smiled. “Eitherway, Maelie, we have caught up long enough. I need to tell you the reason I amhere, and then I must go.”
“What’s the reason?” I asked.
“I am visiting you because you have been chosen to gather the childrentogether for their return home. You must find the other four, and bring them tothe top of Pikes Peak. We will agree on a set day and time for this, so that Iand my associates can be here to meet you, and show you the way.”
“I have to – why me?”
The King and his council have been observing each of you, and they feelthat you possess the leadership qualities needed to convince the others. Theyalso knew that you were the least likely to give up once you’d committed to thecause.”
Ah, there it was; the stubbornness again.
“I was sent to convince you, and I’m afraid I may not have been the bestchoice for that.” He looked so pitiful then, like he’d failed at his purpose inlife.
“What do I tell my parents? I mean my earth parents,” I asked.
“We recommend telling them the truth. Everything I’ve told you here.”
“And that’s supposed to be enough? Are you so far evolved that you thinkan adopted child means less to someone than a birth child does?” I couldn’t saythis was true for me, but I was thinking of Ryan at this point. “What if we’drather stay here with our human parents than go back to Netáe?”
Faolan’s face fell at this. “I’m afraid we cannot force any of you tocome back, except for the Prince. He has a responsibility to keep, but the restof you may stay if you so choose.”
This was getting ridiculous. The Prince? And I’m the daughter of a royaladvisor and a court physician? How was I supposed to find these kids anyway? Iwasn’t about to tell him I already knew who one was. I chided myself inwardlyfor feeling proud that I was nearly halfway there.
My phone buzzed again in my hand and I realized I hadn’t read the textfrom Ryan; now there were two.
“Are you awake?”
“I know it’s late, but can I call you?”
What? Why now?
“Look, Faolan, can I have some time to think about this? It’s kind of abig deal, ya know?”
He chuckled like a grandfather would. “Of course; I will return tomorrowevening around this time. I will answer any questions you have then.” He stood,and walked back into the shadows before turning to face me. “Goodnight Maelie,”he said.
Then he closed his eyes, and light began to gather around him. It waslike watching Star Trek – the light surrounded him, then formed a sort of tubeabove him where he disappeared into the sky.
Woah. This was real.
If that guy was real, then that meant I had a responsibility to theothers.
I sat staring into the sky for a long time. If I’d had any doubt abouthis validity as an alien, it was gone now. But that meant that I was an alientoo…
And so was Ryan.
The third text said, “Are you alright? It never takes you this long toreply…?”What would I tell him?