posted on 29-Jan-2002 10:41:28 PM
Title: A New Life
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Roswell characters
Couples: CC/UC l/m, l/k, m/m, alex/serena, ava/shawn, possibly k/I
Rating: pg13-R
Summary: Mostly Liz's POV. Spoilers up through CYN, picks up after Departure. The podsquad left for Antar along with Maria. Soon after everyone left Liz finds out she is pregnant along with a few other surprises!!

Chapter 1

Its been about four and a half years since Max, Isabel, Tess, Michael, and Maria left. Let’s go back to right after they left and I’ll tell you what happened. First off how’s this for harsh, they didn’t tell me they were leaving, I was so wrapped up in trying to find out the truth about what really happened to Alex, nobody believed me that it was alien related except Kyle. Anyway, Max came to me the night before they left and told me he loved me and one thing led to another and as a result I now have a beautiful three and a half year old daughter. I had no idea that he had gotten Tess pregnant; if I had I never would have given him the time of day. When I woke the next morning he was gone, and so was everyone else including Maria. Two days later I received a letter from Maria telling me that Tess was pregnant and that the baby couldn’t survive on Earth and that the pod squad had found a way home. She said that Michael asked her to go back with them. Needless to say she accepted, and I will never forgive her for not even having the decency to tell me. The only reason Kyle had found out was because they had asked for the Sheriff’s help tying up some loose ends.

Kyle, Shawn, and I became very close after they left. I found out I was pregnant about a month later. I was hysterical, so I called Kyle and asked him to come and get me. He climbed up to my balcony and found me lying dazed in my lounge chair. As soon as I saw him I started crying again and told him I was pregnant. He just held me and asked what I wanted to do and said he would stay with me no matter what. We just sat there for a while and I told him we had to get out of here, that I couldn’t stay. He asked where I wanted to go. I told him to give me a couple days to think about it. It was summer vacation by this time so we didn’t have to worry about school. I figured we could get our GED’s where ever we ended up. I wanted to go to a somewhat large city; somewhere we could easily blend in. Four days later I had made my decision while listening to the Counting Crows; the song Omaha was playing. So after doing some research on the city I decided why not? The city was pretty big about 500,000 people, a few colleges if I decided to go, plenty of job opportunities, it would be perfect. I had about $5,000 saved up and my parents had just bought me a new car. A brand new Jetta to be exact. It was midnight blue and fully loaded. I figured I could sell it when we got there if we needed extra money. Shawn decided to go with us and said he would help anyway he could. We decided to leave the next night. Kyle and I were going to take my car and Shawn was going to drive Kyle’s mustang. Kyle was going to pick Shawn up at 1:30 am and meet me in the alley way behind the Crashdown.

I had finished my packing and was in the middle of writing a note to my parents when I heard a noise on my balcony. I looked at my clock and it was only 1:05 it couldn’t be Kyle or Shawn, I got up to see what it was and got the shock of my life. Ava was about to tap on my window. I climbed out and noticed she wasn’t alone there was another girl with her. She was tall, about 5’8” and had light strawberry blonde hair that was pulled up into a high ponytail. There was something familiar about her. “Ava what are you doing here” I asked. “Liz, I have something that will make you very happy.” she says. “First off, this is Serena, Serena this is Liz.” We shake hands and exchange hellos. “This is about Alex” Serena says. My heart immediately starts pounding.

Chapter 2

My heart is pounding and my mind starts racing. “Liz.” Ava says, apparently noticing my shock. “Sorry, what is it?” I asked. “Alex is still alive!” Serena blurted out in an excited whisper. “How?” I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think… “If…uh…” I tried to talk. “Settle down, we’ll explain.” Serena said, trying to calm me. I managed to grab one of the million thoughts racing through my head and put it into words. “Can I see him?” I suddenly realized there were tears on my cheeks. In my mind, I could see Alex climbing up onto my balcony and calmly walking towards me. Wait…calmly, or weakly? My God! Was I really seeing Alex? Then I realized Ava and Serena were also looking at what I thought I was imagining. He reached out to hug me. “Hey,” he said, as if nothing much was up. I’m not sure if I leaped, or fell into his arms. I wanted to say so much, ask so much, but all I could do was cry. Then I got a little pissed. “Where the fuck have you been?” I said, as I looked at a blurry Alex. “Can we go somewhere to talk?” he said quietly. Okay, something’s wrong. He looked weak, and his voice sounded weak. Of course he WAS supposed to be dead, sooooo…. Still, I wanted to know. “Are you Okay?”

“I’m gonna be…so Ava tells me. Let’s go.” “Okay…wait! I can’t. Shawn and Kyle will be here in about 20 minutes. We’re leaving! Us three…well, all of us, if you want!” I let out an uncontrollable giggle. “Oh my god, I’ve missed you!! You can come with us! And you guys too. Nice to meet you, by the way…Serena was it?” Alex’s familiar blank stare told me I was rambling too fast. “Okay…slow down. I’ve missed you too. We obviously have a lot to tell each other. First of all, why are you leaving, how far, where exactly, and why the hell with Kyle and Shawn?” “Right….well, okay. So here it is. I’m pregnant with Max’s child because of a freaking one-night-stand. Then I try to find him the next day and I couldn’t find him or any of them for that matter. Out of the blue, 2 days later, I get a letter from Maria. It says that Tess is pregnant from Max, and the baby could not survive in the Earth’s atmosphere. All of them, Max, Tess, Isabel, and Michael were leaving. Michael wanted to take Maria, and she said yes. There was no time for her to even come to me and say goodbye.” “Pardon me, did you say she said her baby couldn’t survive here?” Ava interrupted. “Yeah…Oh my god! Is my baby gonna be alright? Max doesn’t even know I’m pregnant! Nobody does but Kyle, Shawn, and you guys, now.” “Yes, your baby will be alright, but that’s the point. So will her’s. Bullshit alert!” Ava said, rather angrily. “ What the hell is she up to? Something is not right.” Serena said with a sudden worried look on her face. “Should we try to contact Larek?” Ava asked. “Even if he knew something, we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it now anyway. They’re gone.” Serena responded. “She’s right. Let’s think about us, and what we’re doing now.” Alex said.

“So I get why your leaving, I think. Just the whole ‘hurt and want to get away’ kinda thing right?” “ That and the whole ‘not wanting to explain to my family and the rest of the town that I’m pregnant with an alien’s baby who has now abandoned his child and me to return to space so don’t freak out if anything weird comes out of me in about nine months’ kinda thing.” I said mockingly. He smiled. “Right…that too. “Well we’re coming with you okay? Serena, Ava and me.” “Oh good! Good, good! This will be great!” I said, hugging him again. Ava interrupted again, “Guys if we’re all going on a nifty little road trip to live somewhere else together, Shawn is gonna need to be told about everything…us being aliens and all. He’s not just going to think Alex is the most active corpse he’s ever seen! Is he trustworthy?” “Yes! Definitely!” I wasn’t 100% sure how he would take it, but I knew he was trustworthy. “And I don’t think he believes Maria just ran off somewhere anyway.” Alex turned the conversation again, “So where are we goin’ again?” “Omaha.” I told him matter-of-factly. “Omaha?” “Yes.” “Nebraska?!!” “Yep.” “Oh god, we’ll all be hicks within a year!!” Alex whined. “It’s not that bad! I read up about it. It’ll be perfect. Who’s gonna look for us there?” “Hicks.” He retorted. “Kyle will blend well, I suppose.” “Alex, that’s mean!” I laughed.

I was going to explain everything as slowly and gently as I could before Shawn and Kyle saw Alex, to soften their shock. But now that I look back at it, I guess nothing could’ve helped that. At that moment Shawn’s head popped over the top of the balcony ladder. “Hey! Are you ready…what’s going on?” I cringed. Alex turned around. “Hey!” he said. Shawn fell off the ladder. From the noise we gathered he hit Kyle on the way down. “Oooooowwww!” Kyle yelped. “Sweet mother of Mary!!” we heard Shawn’s muffled voice say from below. “Well, that part’s over.” I said with a sigh. I quickly grabbed my bags and came to the ladder. “You alright?” I asked. They both looked up at me. Shawn was trying to explain to Kyle what he thought he had seen. Kyle started to mutter random words like stupid, and psycho, and Buddha this, and Buddha that. Alex leaned over the balcony and said he was quite sorry. They both froze. “We’re leaving, all of us.” I said. By that time Ava and Serena had come to the ladder. “We’ll explain on the way.” Serena said. We all climbed down the ladder, and I put my stuff in the trunk. “Ava, you, Kyle, and Shawn ride in Kyle’s car. Me, Alex and Serena will ride in mine. Just follow me. If you want me to pull over for any reason, just…ya know, mind warp me or whatever.” “ Huh?” Shawn managed to burble. “We’ll explain, okay?” “Er..” he muttered. Kyle started to understand, knowing about the aliens and all. “We’ll drive until about 8:00 AM or so, and get breakfast then. Let’s go.” I was suddenly very revived. Determined….happy. I was going somewhere. I had Alex. I had my other friends. And apparently a new friend named Serena. I got in my car, put it in drive. “Here we go.” I thought to myself. In Kyle’s car, Shawn sat nervously next to Kyle. He kept glancing between Kyle and Ava. Kyle leaned over to Shawn. “Welcome to the ‘I know an alien’ club. We have T-shirts and everything!” he said as he put the car in drive realizing Liz’s taillights were fading in front of him. Shawn sat back, and sighed long and audibly. “Okey dokey.”

Chapter 3

Inside my car…we just turned onto US 70 east, and we’ll be going straight on this road for about a hundred miles or so. I can relax now. Here we go. “So, to get right back to it, how in the hell are you still alive, and whose ass must I kiss in order to thank them?” “That would be Serena’s.” said Alex with a grin. “You don’t have to kiss it, really. I’ll pass. A simple ‘you’re the coolest, and my new best friend’ would be enough.” “Serena?” “Ya?” “You’re the coolest, and my new best friend.” “I know. So, you wanna know what happened?” “Yes!” I said. “I’m going to say this as condensed as I can. I attended Las Cruces University. A guy I dated at one point happened to be Alex’s roommate. He started telling me of some of his weird behaviors, the places he kept going, and the things he kept doing.” “The fucking food he KEPT eating!” put in Alex. “Sorry, go on.” “Thank you, Alex. I kind of started spying things out. When I realized he was decoding the book, I tried to go into his mind to see why he was doing it. Well, I couldn’t get into his mind. It was so crowded with Tess’s thoughts. But what I did see was her heartlessness. Her absolute determination for what she was doing. I knew right then and there, she would stop at nothing, nothing would be too heartless! In other words, I knew this bitch was fucked up.”

“I got ahold of Ava in New York and told her I needed her help. I didn’t want to go and asked for Max’s help. Hell, he doesn’t even know I exist. You think he was gonna believe a total stranger who came up and said, “Hi. I’m an alien too, but not one of the evil ones, out to get you. By the way, your former wife, and good friend Tess is gonna kill Alex if she doesn’t stop using him as a fucking zombie decoder guy!” I needed someones help and it couldn’t be anybody who trusted Tess. To try and make a long story short, by the time Ava met up with me and we came to Roswell, Alex had been killed. We actually got there the evening of his death. We followed everyone to the morgue, again keeping our presence unknown. When I realized what you guys were doing, that Max was going to try to heal Alex, my mind started racing. I knew Tess wouldn’t let it happen. If she did, Alex would just tell everyone the truth and she would be screwed. She was going to do something…but what? I was lost. But, when Max came out of that van with a sad face, it hit me! My god, Max doesn’t even realize he’s capable of healing Alex! Neither does anybody else! Tess, that fucking mind-warping crazy bitch was going to just let him heal him, but mind warp him into thinking it didn’t work! You see, when an alien heals someone who has been dead like that, for that long, they are weak at first. Nearly motionless. Their heartbeat is barely there.”

“When everyone left, we went inside. Ava mind-warped the people there, while I healed him further and further until he could walk on his own. Once me and Alex were outside, Ava made the morgue crew or whatever, think this body that was gonna be cremated was Alex’s, and they prepared that body and put it in the casket. Man, we had to think fast. I’ve never been so freaked before. And luckily it was a “closed casket” funeral. They fucking buried somebody else. Yeah, Tess must’ve thought she was the shit. She knew without further attention, Alex would just die again. What a plan…but we fucked it up and she doesn’t even know it.”

“Oh…My…God! I…I can’t even…you…I LOVE YOU!” She really was one of my new best friends. “That was about what I said to her when she told me everything that happened.” Alex said from the back seat. “It sucked though…hiding out over the next few days after that. I knew I couldn’t just come right out and say I wasn’t really dead…not yet. But Serena did take my hand and let me talk to Isabel in her mind a few times. That was nice. It almost seemed real. I miss her so much.” “I missed you too ALEX!” I said rather jealously. “Well, I knew if I appeared to more than one person, you guys would know something was wrong. What shitty luck huh? I decided to just tell you guys I’m alive but had to keep it a secret from the rest of the town, and when I do, everybody’s gone but you.” “ Okay, you’re not making me feel real good here!” I said a little pissed off now. “I didn’t mean it that way, I missed you more than anyone, it just would have been nice for Isabel to know I was alive before she left.”

In Kyle’s car, by this time, Kyle had explained everything to Shawn, and Ava had explained everything else about Alex to Kyle and Shawn. “I need to sit down.” Shawn said weakly. “You’re in a car, silly!” Ava said giggling. She was enjoying this. Oh yeah, this was fun. “Don’t worry, as you start to lose your mind and your grip on reality, just do what I do.” Kyle said trying to sound helpful. “What’s that?” “Well, Buddha teaches that…” “Shut up Kyle! I really don’t think Buddha is gonna help the fact that I’m on a road trip with two aliens…” “Actually, six…sort of.” Ava said with a whispery voice. “Okay, what the fuck!” shouted Shawn, getting a little scared, but disguising it as anger. “Well, Kyle, Alex, and Liz have all been sort of …changed since every one of them has been healed by an alien. And if you count Liz’s baby, that’s six.” Ava giggled again as she saw Shawn’s face start to show signs of denial. “So if you really want to join this nifty club, I’ll stab you at the next rest stop, and Ava will heal you. Okey dokey?” Kyle said trying to look as serious as he could. He was starting to enjoy this too. “Are you guys just trying to pull some elaborate fucking prank on me or what, cause this is not funny!” Shawn said looking nervously back at Ava. “Alright, alright…we’ll stop teasing you now. It’s too easy to mess with people’s minds when they first meet an alien.” Ava reached forward and touched Shawn’s shirt. It changed from black to red instantly. “I thought you were done teasing me.” Shawn said. “I am, but red goes much better with that jacket.” And so was the welcoming of Shawn into the club. Little did he know what he was getting into. None of us knew. Aside from the confrontations to come when the pod squad would return in a few years, something else was brewing that made our unspoken anger and old grudges of little importance. Something evil.

Chapter 4

Tired. Happy, hungry, tired. That’s how I felt anyway. We stopped at a Village Inn in Clinton, Oklahoma. Coffee. Needed coffee. Okay. I was awake…for the moment. “What are you getting Shawn?” said Ava through half opened eyelids. “Why? You can’t decide?” “Never ate here before.” she said. “Oh. Um…probably chicken-fried steak and eggs.” “Yuk.” Ava’s head dropped down to look at the menu again. “It’s kind of nice to eat out, ya know?” said Alex, smiling. “Even if it is at Village Inn. I couldn’t really eat out in Roswell. Nobody here knows I was dead, or even who I am.” “Gee Alex, that’s not gonna draw attention to our table.” Serena said in a low voice. “I’m not thinking too clearly lately. Remind me to push Tess off of something very tall, next time I see her.”

Once our food was on the table, the conversation went here and there. Shawn changed the subject. “I’m curious now. What’s the living situation going to be like? It was going to be me, Liz and Kyle together, but…so what’s everybody’s thoughts on that?” “Good point. Hadn’t thought of that.” I said. “Probably three girls together, and three guys together, huh? Seems to make the most sense. Not too crowded. Not too much rent.” “Yeah, I guess,” said Shawn hesitantly. He glanced at Ava, just for a split second. I caught it though. Now that was interesting. Had there been a little flirting between these two on the drive here? Well, none of my business. My mind kept wandering. Back and forth from where exactly my life was going once I got there, to what I was going to do to Max and everybody else if they ever came back. “Does anybody know about us leaving, and where we’re going?” Alex asked. “Valenti.” I said. “But we obviously told him to tell no one. No one. He’s even going to throw them off track if they start to get an idea of where we went or why. I just want to get away from everyone and everything, besides you guys of course.” Kyle spoke up, “We should probably let my dad know about Alex and everything once we get to the hotel. It’s always good to have someone else who knows what’s going on.”

We got back on the road and kept driving for another few hours. I couldn’t go any further. Sleeeeeeeep. The food settled down and got comfy in my stomach, then told me to do the same. Oklahoma City. We stopped at a Super 8 that looked decent enough. We got two rooms. Three girls, three guys. Needless to say, there was not much socializing. We all collapsed pretty early, and slept long and good. The next morning we were back out on the road again by 9:00 am. We’d be in Omaha by that evening. Right on.

We pulled up to another hotel. We were there. Finally. Tomorrow we would all spend job-hunting, and apartment hunting. I felt so good. I didn’t just want to get away. I was doing it. I had done it! Fuck Roswell, fuck everybody! Fuck Max. Wait; been there, done that, one alien baby is enough. I know Alex had a right to be slightly upset with Tess, but I had dibs on killing that bitch! I’m pretty sure I could do it. I think. As for everyone else, if they ever came back, they would have to beg for my friendship back. They would have to earn it. Basic physical labor. Wash my car, buy me clothes, that sort of thing. Hehe. Find me first.

As the next few weeks went on, we all got jobs. Ava worked at a clothing store. I was a secretary at a small office down town. Serena worked at a Bath & Body Works, and stole cool stuff for us all the time. Cool. Alex played in bars and clubs, since it was the only thing he could do without an ID (a background check of any kind would reveal his recent death). I sang with him occasionally. We never made posters to advertise him though. Wouldn’t want his face to get famous. Kyle and Shawn were bringing in the most money. They both landed a job at the same car dealership. We were lucky enough, with some looking around, to find two apartments in the same building. Us girls were on the first floor, and the boys were on the third floor. Ha ha, more steps for them. Looking at our apartments from the outside, their apartment was two balconies up and one over to the left. But more often than not, we were all in one apartment, or all in the other. We had the whole “Friends” thing going on.

One night I was sitting on the couch talking with Ava, who was laying on the soft carpeted floor. Serena was cleaning up from our supper, and came to join us. I had some things weighing on my mind.
“So, how much do you guys know about…my baby, and…what I should expect? I mean, will it be like you? Human form, but different genetic makeup?” Serena was happy to converse about this. I’m assuming Ava just didn’t know as much about it as she did. “Well, from what I know, it should be a little shorter than most pregnancies. About six months. Other than that, I’m not exactly sure how different from a human pregnancy it will be. I believe it will be a little less painful though.” “Wow!” I said happily, “What more could I ask for? Not as much time carrying the baby around inside me, and it won’t give me that much trouble coming out!” A grin crept over my face as I began to think what she would look like. I had decided right there I wanted it to be a girl.
“Do we need to go to a hospital or what, when the time comes?” “I don’t think it would be a good idea, besides I can connect with the baby and make sure it’s doing alright.” “That works.” I said, somewhat relieved.

Life had gone by fairly normally for the next few months after that. I was getting more excited as I came closer to the end of my pregnancy. I was also a little scared, too. But that was normal…yeah, that was normal. Everyone gets a little nervous. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. But somehow, I felt that it wasn’t like this. There was a different kind of fear in me. I couldn’t place it. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t feel that anything was wrong with the baby, but rather…that it’s existence was unwelcome. It was really getting to me. I couldn’t shake it off. Who would not want this baby to come into being? Who even knows about this baby except for my friends?

Then something that would bring me to a point of fear I had never experienced before. One night, the guys came over and we had partied down, and all crashed in our living room. My sleep was restless though. I was having a horrible dream. Unspeakable terror had come over me in my dream, because something was getting closer to me. I didn’t know how close, but I knew that with every inch it gained my terror grew. It wanted something. I sat up so fast that it woke me up. Something….something took control of my mouth. “SHE MUST DIE!!” I screamed. I didn’t even know who I was talking about! I immediately got hysterical from the shear shock, and fear of having something uncontrollably forced out of my mouth! Everyone woke and asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t tell them, because I didn’t know. I had no idea what happened to me. They all tried to comfort me, and Alex and Kyle promised to stay awake until I fell asleep again. I didn’t fall back asleep that night.

Chapter 5

Two weeks after my dream. I’ve calmed down a bit. But I can still feel it. Well, you’ll find out more about that soon enough. Shawn lay on his bed in his room. Staring at the ceiling, he was pretending to be bored. Kyle and Alex knew better. “Shawn?” Alex yelled to him from the old brown recliner in the living room. “Yes?” he said. “Why don’t you just take her out?” Alex said, sounding a little sick of this routine. “What? I’m not sure what you mean. Take who where?” Kyle kicked his door open the rest of the way, just hard enough to startle him. “AVA!!” shouted Kyle. “Every night you sit here and try to think of some stupid-ass excuse to go down to the girls’ apartment. Then you and her end up staying up really late and talking, the whole time, pretending not to like each other. It’s PATHETIC!!!” There. Kyle had finally let it all out after Alex was brave enough to point it out. “Well…..what do you mean?” Shawn said, knowing they just hit the nail on the head. The funny thing is, I don’t think he even realized it until they pointed it out. Silly boy. Ava probably knew the whole time, and was waiting for him to do something. Poor girl.

Three loud thumps on the door woke me out of a daydream. I don’t even really recall what I was thinking about. “I got it!” shouted Ava running to the door. Gee, was she anticipating a visitor? Couldn’t be Shawn or anything. Wait, I guess it’s been almost twenty-two hours since he’s been here! Don’t make yourself a stranger, Shawn. Oh, and Ava is all prettied up. How surprising. She did look pretty good though since the first time I met her. She seems to have ditched that whole gothic thing. I guess ever since she disassociated herself from Rath and Lonnie, she didn’t really wanna be known as who she was. She looked like Tess, but prettier….and without the horns.

She opened the door and pretended to be surprised, as usual. “Hey, Shawn! What are you doing over here?” I’m too lazy, could someone bring me a toilet to vomit in? I guess I shouldn’t have been so harsh on them, even though I never really voiced it. They were cute together, and I was happy for both of them because it seemed like they just fit. What made me sick was the 3rd grade denial thing. You know, the ‘what are you talking about? Shawn? Yuck!’ sort of thing. Oh, well. Maybe I should go find a boyfriend. See, it’s only sickening if you’re not IN the relationship.

“Did you want to come in and talk or something?” Cause we haven’t done that in a while, I thought to myself. I think my pregnancy was making me a little moody. “Actually, I was wondering if you…I have, er, there’s this movie that kind of looks…well I think it would be nice if ….” Dear god!! “He wants to know if you’ll go to a movie, and probably some place to eat, if he’s feeling REALLY wild.” Shawn’s head immediately resembled an apple. Whoops. Maybe that was a little rude. I need to get this little problem under control. Damn alien pregnancies!! “At least that’s what I gathered from his attempt at a sentence…sorry.” Damn it!! There I go again! “Sorry Shawn, I don’t seem to be having as much trouble as you, deciding what to say.” DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!!! I can’t talk nice! My face was red now. They were both turned towards me, staring with a look that more than clearly said ‘Close your lips, and stop talking’. Ava turned towards Shawn. She smiled. “Whatever you were asking, I’d love to.” She said sweetly. That was enough for Shawn. He forgot his embarrassment and smiled back. “You can pick where we eat. I don’t really care.” He said. Ava grabbed her purse, and with that, they left.

“Damn. Did someone force you to watch an episode of ‘Springer’ or something? I kind of expected a pissed off relative to come out and explain that he’d been sleeping with Ava’s dog.” Serena said, walking out of her bedroom. “Ava doesn’t have a dog.” I explained. Humor was not sitting well with me. “I’m sorry, I feel like shit.” Serena sat down on the couch. I smelled the familiar smell of our leather couch…the cookies that we made earlier…the faint smell of cologne from the person who owned this recliner before us. Okay, when all you can think about is the scent of your house, you need to get out of the freaking house! “Let’s go.” “Huh?” “Talk much? I said, let’s go!” “You did watch ‘Springer’ didn’t you.” “I mean GO somewhere. Have fun. Remember when we went somewhere that one time, and we had fun? I wanna do that.” “You want to go pick out baby stuff?” “Well, I don’t know what to buy, and I don’t wanna get, like, green and yellow stuff, ya know?” Serena smiled. “You wanna know what it is?” My face brightened a little. “You can tell?” “Yes. Easy. I can’t believe you didn’t know that. I just figured you didn’t want to know.” “Tell me, tell me, tell me!” I sat up in my chair. Serena leaned forward and touched my rounded stomach. I thought I would feel something weird, but I didn’t. She leaned back to the couch. She grinned. “WHAT? What is it?” I giggled. “Pink will be the color of choice at the mall. Congratulations.”

I finished my second slurpee as we looked over what we had bought. Busy people all around us, rushed about. Some of them more relaxed. I heard passing bits of conversation. ‘How weird,’ I thought. Nobody here had any idea that these two girls sitting on this bench in the middle of this mall, were looking over clothes that would be worn by yet another alien. An alien I was bringing into this world. Weird. “Alright, I’m tired. Let’s get home.” “You happy with everything you got?” Serena asked. “Yes. Yeah, everything is really cute…nice.” “Are you okay?” “Yeah, I’m…I’m just tired.”

We got home, and carried everything in. No. Please, no. I started to get this sinking feeling. I had only felt it once before. But I was sleeping then. “I know I’m awake, don’t I?” I said so quietly, I could hardly hear it. I had almost let it leave my mind. Damn it. “Close the door.” I said as I turned around to face Serena who was just walking in. “Yeah, just a sec.” “Close the DOOR!” I said with panic in my voice. “What! What is your deal?” she said slamming the door. “Lock it.” “I ALWAYS lock it. You know that. Liz, what is with you?” When she said that, it sent chills up my spine. Exactly. WHAT or WHO was with me? Something was with me. With my thoughts. I couldn’t put it into words. “Serena, I’m scared.” “Of WHAT!” “My dream. You remember my dream?” She stepped a little closer, looking into my face. I wasn’t looking into hers. I wasn’t looking at anything around me. I was searching my mind, and yet, I didn’t want to see what I saw in my dream before. I spoke up. “I feel something. I’m scared. It’s kind of like that feeling when you were little, and you were afraid there was a monster standing next to your bed, but your head is under the covers. You’re afraid to look, and you’re afraid to not look. You’re afraid to move, but if you don’t it will surely find you.” “Liz you’re scaring ME.” I closed my eyes. Mistake. For maybe less than a second, in the blackness of the back of my eyelids, I saw something. It was just a flash, but it burned into my mind. I saw something…hunched over. Skin black as charcoal, and a little wet. It was…a shadow…yet a physical being. No hair. It was small, maybe a foot shorter than me, and yet I knew that no distance was far enough away from it. It’s eyes pierced my body with a fear I had never known. I swear I heard it breathing as it faded from my mind. My eyes were still closed. What the hell? Serena is squeezing my wrists with both hands for some reason. I was afraid to look…afraid to not look. As I considered opening my eyes, I heard Serena muttering something. Chanting something. It took courage to lean closer to a face I wasn’t sure was Serena’s since my eyes were closed. It was definitely her voice….whispering…over and over….something. It slowly got louder, and I started to understand it. All strength left my legs and I fainted. “Sssshe must die….she must ….die…..”

Chapter 6

“Liz…Liz!” Serena was hunched over me with a concerned and scared face. Slowly I came to, and remembered what had happened. I don’t know if it was the fear that made me pass out, or something…else. Serena could see the fear on my face, plainly. “Liz, are you okay? I don’t know what happened! You were talking and then you closed your eyes. After that, all I remember is like….a darkness, or something coming over me. It was making me say something I didn’t want to say…” Serena burst into tears. “I’m sorry, Liz!” I tried to breath normal. “Serena, it’s okay. I’m alright. I know you couldn’t control yourself. That’s what happened to me when I had my dream.”

Serena looked up at me. “No Liz. I’m sorry for…you. I feel scared for you and what this means. Oh, I hope to God I didn’t see what I just saw! I saw something….I felt something evil. And…” she started to loose control of her tears again, “Liz, I felt what it wanted! What it’s after!!” I sat right up. “Serena, who is ‘she’? Who is it that it wants dead?!” Serena’s head plopped face down into the cushion of the couch. I heard muffled sniffs and whimpers. I put my trembling hand on her back to comfort her, but I felt inadequate. She barely lifted her head and looked at me from under her eyebrows. “It wants your baby…dead.”

A silver ’98 Honda Civic pulls into a parking garage in the heart of downtown Omaha. Shawn and Ava make their way down and into the streets of downtown. “Okay, since neither of us really know any of the restaurants around here, I guess we can just walk around until we find one. If that’s okay.” Shawn wanted to sound as laid back as possible. “Yeah, Shawn, whatever you wanna do, I told you…I’d love to.” Ava said, shyly looking down at her feet as they walked. Shawn made another attempt at something ‘random and laid back’ sounding. “Boy, this is beautiful isn’t it? Old brick buildings lit up from little shops, and restaurants. Big hotels and businesses.” “Strangely painted mannequins on the sidewalks.” Ava was staring at one such mannequin. “Huh?” Shawn turned to see what she was looking at. There was indeed a strangely painted human form on the sidewalk. They walked up to it and looked at it. It had instruments of many kinds and musical notes and faces of people painted all over it with a very glossy finish. “Hmm. Interesting.” Shawn said. “It’s really cool. Beautiful.” Shawn winced in his mind. Maybe that was a little too cheesy. He began to coach himself. ‘Okay remember, interesting, relaxed, cool….not cheesy romantic. Chicks don’t like that.’ He thought to himself. “You seem nervous, Shawn.” Ava smiled. “I’m not that intimidating am I?” Shawn felt a little stupid. “What do you mean?” “I just heard you whispering something to yourself about being cool and relaxed.” Ava smiled at him again. “Oh my god, did I say that out loud?” Shawn put his head down. He was so cute, Ava couldn’t take it. With no warning, none whatsoever, she put a finger under his chin, lifted his face and kissed his lips. They pulled away from eachother. Shawn was about as relaxed as he was going to get. He smiled back, never taking his gaze away from her eyes. He leaned forward and kissed her. Kissed her good. Shawn and Ava never did walk into a restaurant that night. They pretty much forgot about food and everything else. They took a long stroll through the large park by Gene Leahy Mall, and got on the Fairy Boat.

Up in apartment #312 (the boys place) Alex sat at his computer, searching the internet. Kyle walked in, sat down, and promptly started annoying him. “Whatcha doin’?” “Nothing, just searching…researching.” “Obviously! For what?” “Nothing.”
Kyle put his feet up on the desk, a little too close to the keyboard. “Well, you look pretty focused for ‘nothing’.” Alex leaned away from the computer and looked at Kyle. “I’m looking for a site that can help me get a new identity, you know, the works. Birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, the whole nine yards. I want to be able to go out more places, work, and drive legally. I feel alone right now.” He turned back to the computer. “I know a website that will make you want to be alone.” “Kyle, I’m serious. I’m busy.” “So, you’re telling me that the words ‘Britney Spears’ and ‘boobies’ in the same sentence, does nothing for you right now?” “Your sick, you know that?” “I’m human. More accurately, I’m a guy. Now I’m bored, so you just type ‘boobs’ into that search engine, or I’ll start fucking with your mind with all my Buddha quotes. You know, Buddha has taught me a lot over the last year and a half, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that you should type in ‘boobs’, not ‘boobies’, because you’ll get about two times the results!” “Fine! As soon as I’m done, the computer is all yours.” Alex turned and faced the computer. He stared at it for about 30 seconds. Silence. Alex looked at Kyle. “So you say ‘boobs’ gets the most results?” “Oh, by far!”

There was a knock at the door. Kyle wouldn’t peel his eyes away from the screen. “Come in!” he yelled. A little jiggle of the handle. A muffled voice came, “It’s locked.” “Alex, will you get that?” “Why me? You probably have this site memorized.” “Oh, I do, I do. But it’s still very dear to my heart. Now, be a good lad. Get the door!” The muffled voice came again. “It’s umm….still locked.” Alex got up and opened the door. Two of the most smiley people he’s ever seen stare at him. “Shawn, Ava, come in. Me and Kyle were just…” Alex lowered his voice to a whisper, “Kyle is kind of having some ‘special time’ on the internet, if you know what I mean. So, you know, we better leave him alone.” “Ah, thank you for that, I’ll just block that from memory.” Shawn said. He seemed in a good mood. “Ava and I are just gonna talk in my room. I trust our voices won’t disturb Kyle and his cyber sluts?” Shawn’s voice was loud enough… “Alex was lookin’ at ‘em too!” Kyle hollered from the bedroom. Alex turned a little red. “Wow, he must be high or something, I haven’t been in there all night! Especially after the noises.” Ava looked disgusted. “Noises?” KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. Alex went to answer the door again.

Serena and I walked in. “Hey, what’s up?” Alex said as we pushed passed him and sat on the couch. “Come…in.” he said. He shut the door. “Are you guys okay?” he asked. “Not really.” I said sharply.

Kyle came in, and we proceeded to tell what had happened, and reminded them of my dream. I described what I thought the ‘thing’ or ‘things’ looked like, what I felt; what happened to Serena. We had a good long talk that night. As I looked around the room for comfort, I saw only worried faces, confused and scared. But, I still found comfort just having these faces here to look at. I knew that they all would be with me through this. Whatever it led to. Which is more than I can say for a certain small group of people who will remain nameless…MAX, MICHAEL, ISABEL, MARIA…and I won’t even utter the name of the last one. We’ll just call her ‘demon-mindwarping-murderous-slut’. Anyway, we all just came to the conclusion that all we could do for the time being is stick together, be careful, and hang in there. Not much else we could do until we knew more about these ‘things’. Three weeks, and my child will be born. It WILL be born. I don’t care what I have to do. It will be born, and it will live.

Chapter 7

Kyle and I got into the car and headed for lunch. We had just completed our GED tests. Nothing much exciting or important had happened lately. Just trying to fall back into daily routines. “So how did you do?” Kyle asked. “Pretty good, I think.” I laid my head back on the headrest, staring at the car ceiling. I closed my eyes and listened to the motor. Relax. “I probably passed.” Kyle said, with a little less than confident tone. “I’m sure you did fine.” I smiled. “You’re a jock, but you’re smart.” My stomach made an audible cry for food. “Where are we eating?” “Arby’s alright with you?” he asked. I could already taste the roast beef ‘n’ cheddar sandwich. I could smell those blessed curly fries. Hungry. Definitely hungry. “Sure.”

We pulled up. A fuzzy crackling noise, and then the ‘cheerful’ teenager who sounded like the only thing keeping him from suicide was the promise of a free sandwich after work… “Wvlcvmv tv vrbvs cvn v tvkv yvvr vrdvr plvvsv?” Kyle frowned, looked at me, and looked back. “Huh?” he asked. “Vvrtvn vyuvvf hvgvvr?” replied the boy. “Kyle just tell the poor kid what you want.” Kyle grinned wildly at me. He turned the radio to static and turned it up. He cupped his hand over his mouth and began to order. I tried to contain my laughter. What a dork. The boy was now trying to repeat back the order. “Vkvy, thvt wvs v #twv wvth dvvt, vnd v #thrvv wvth v rvvt bvvr, vnd v smvll vrdvr vf jvlvpvnvv bvtvs, cvrrvct?” Kyle looked at me. “How the hell did he get that right?” “How the hell do you even know if he got it or not?” I asked, laughing my head off. He chuckled. “It sounded like what I said.” “$10.03, pvll fvrwvrd.” came the pathetic voice.

We had just picked up our scores and were headed home. “Hey, would you look at that? I passed.” He smirked. “Yeah, so did I. Cool.” Kyle raised one eyebrow. “Was there ever any doubt?” I smiled. We were a few minutes from home and my mind was wandering. I was thinking about my baby. What she would look like, what I would name her….how bad was this going to hurt. Oh god. Okay, time to let my mind wander somewhere else. Max. Man oh man, would I like to give him a good ass-whooping. He would let me, too. I’m a girl. I think I’ll join some kind of fighting class after the baby is born. Kickboxing. I’ll do kickboxing. And I just might have Ava and Serena help me develop my powers a little, considering I have no idea what or how much I’m capable of.

Grrrrrrrrr. Hmm. Arby’s wasn’t sitting too well in my stomach. “Could you kind of hurry and get home, so I can go lay down?” “Umm sure. Are you okay, Liz?” “Yes, I’m fine. My stomach just feels weird.” “Liz! Maybe it’s your uh…your umm….you..” “Kyle, I think I would know if it was labor! I just don’t feel good.” We pulled up, and got out of the car. Kyle said he would walk me to my apartment. When we opened the door I seemed to just barely notice Alex scooting quickly away from Serena on the couch. Serena stood up with a start, and said, “Hi guys! What’s up?” Her face seemed a little red. Alex pretended to read a magazine. “Hi.” I said slowly, eyeing Alex. “Um, we passed our tests.” Kyle said. “Great, you guys! I can make some cookies. Want some?” Okay Serena, you’re not very good at acting normal when you’re nervous, I thought to myself. You touching my Alex? He seems to have enjoyed whatever you were doing, judging by the immovable smile on his face as he’s looking at a ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ magazine.

“Ooooww!” A sharp pain cramped my stomach and my knees almost gave. Everyone practically jumped from where they were to where I was, and asked in unison if I was okay. “I don’t know! Ooooww! Ooouuch!!” Kyle spoke nervously, “Liz, did you just pee your pants?” “NO, ASSHOLE!!! MY FUCKING WATER JUST BROKE!!!” Serena looked at Kyle. “Please, tell me your are not that stupid. Do you think Liz would just pee her pants in front of all of us?!!” Kyle mumbled an apology, “Sorry, I…she got kinda snippy before when I thought she…her stomach…sorry.” Serena took control. “Okay, we’re not doing this at a hospital. I can take care of this in the bathroom. God, I wish Ava was here!” It came again. “Ooooouuch!! Oooh!” Serena started to walk me back to the bathroom. “One of you two try to get ahold of Ava on her cell. If there’s no answer, try Shawn’s.” Serena took me in, and shut the door. Alex looked at Kyle. “Don’t feel bad, I totally thought she pissed her pants, dude.”

I lay in the bathtub. Okay, I thought I would be a little scared, but when the moment is actually here, it just comes at you. Ready or not, deal with your fear. You always kinda picture it that you’ll have a moment to prepare yourself….yeah. No, it just comes and there you are saying, ‘Oh my god, here we go!’ Everything seemed distant, as if nothing existed right now but this white porcelain, cold bathtub, and the pain. These contradicting thoughts, like ‘Here comes the baby I’ve been imagining about, and loving,’ and ‘I love you kid, but why the hell are you doing this to me?’ and ‘Isn’t there another way? There’s gotta be another way!’ So many thoughts, and yet I can’t concentrate on any of them for more than a second. Millions of thoughts. Lots of pain. “I thought you said this wasn’t supposed to hurt as much as a normal birth!” I said through clenched teeth. “It doesn’t. Be thankful it was an alien that knocked you up. Now, remember, we’re in an apartment building with thin walls. So, try to be a little quiet so we don’t have to explain to the police why we don’t really want to take your baby to the hospital or have any legal papers proving that she exists!” “Fuck you! Sorry!! But this hurts! Can’t you, like, make the pain go away or something?” Serena seemed lost in thought for a second. “Yeah…well, a little.” She laid her right hand on my head and her left on my belly. I felt a warmth go through me. It did help a bit. There was a bang on the door. “Ava is on the way!” came Alex’s voice from the other side of the door. “Thanks,” she answered. I really don’t remember much after that. I remember some more pain. I remember hearing Ava’s voice. I remember the bathtub being filled with warm water. I remember concentrating on not screaming. I woke up. Ava told me to push. I did. About a half an hour of this same interesting conversation went on. She tells me to push, I tell her I am, she tells me to push, I tell her to fuck off, I apologize, etc.

Then I heard her cry. It was amazing. Another life; another human…well, human…thing, just came out of me! She’s breathing. She has her own lungs, her own brain, her own thoughts and desires. I cried. She was beautiful. Serena used the bath water and I think some of her powers to clean her up, ‘cause she was squeaky-clean. I held her for the first time. She was perfect. She looked like me…with Max’s eyes. She had thick, soft, dark hair. Absolutely beautiful. And the correct number of eyes and everything.

Kyle’s voice came through the door. “So, are you alright; is it over? Is it normal?” Ava answered him. “Yes, yes, and yes.” Ava took the baby, and Serena helped me clean up and put a robe on. One wonderful aspect of this: No ripping. No cutting. Just some pain. That, I was thankful for. Me and Ava and Serena came into the living room where I found Shawn, Kyle, and Alex all waiting anxiously to see the treasure I was holding. We talked. We drank coffee. We all stayed up late and cooed over Kaitlyn Michelle Parker.

Chapter 8

It was a few days after Katie was born. Everyone was at work except Alex and me. I was making a bottle when Alex walked in. “Hey” Alex said. “Hey… So what’s up with you and Serena?” I asked. “What are you talking about?” “Well, the other day when Kyle and I walked in, you and Serena looked like maybe you’d been kissing.” “Oh. Umm…that. You could tell?” I gave him the ‘duh’ look. “Well, gee Alex, let’s see: you scooted away from Serena the second we walked in, Serena stood up really fast and sounded unnaturally excited about making cookies…COOKIES! Also, you immediately picked up a Better Homes & Gardens magazine and tried to look deep in thought, not to mention the awkward silence…” “Okay, okay, GEEZ! I forget how much women pay attention to, you know, things.” He gave me a grin. “Alright, to be honest, I don’t know what happened. I was watching TV in the recliner, and she was reading a book on the couch. I was…” “Wait, why were you at our apartment in the first place?” “I don’t know. I guess…well Shawn was out with Ava, and Kyle was with you, and I was just bored. Anyway, I was watching TV and I suddenly realized I had been looking at her about every fifteen seconds until I was just staring at her. Well, she noticed after a while, and asked me what I was doing. That was kind of awkward, so I just shot out a question that was on my mind…

Alex’s POV….

“Why did you save me?” I asked. She looked at me funny. “What?” “Why did you save my life?” “Well I didn’t…I couldn’t just let you die!” “Yeah, but you didn’t even know me, AND you didn’t know if I was going to die. Why did you get a friend of yours to come all the way from New York and help you help me?” I seemed to have stumped her. “I…well, I knew something was up, and you…why are you asking me this?” she snapped. “You didn’t answer my question!” She looked back at her book. Her eyebrows went down. She put the book down. “Damn you.” “What, I just want to know!” “Why?” “Why?!! You saved my life! Actually, you gave it back! I never wondered why until now.” I got up and sat down next to her. She looked at me, then quickly looked away. “Why, Serena?” She took a deep breath and looked at me. My God, she was beautiful. I’ve always thought that, I guess, but I never admitted it to myself. “There was something just…telling me to. I don’t know. Alien instinct. ESP. … Her voice trailed off. I just felt a tension between us. I was finally taking notice of a desire in me to just be close with her. Kiss her. She felt it too because her head turned away from me as she blushed. She looked at me again. I hadn’t stopped looking at her. Then we just had one of those movie moments where you just know it’s time to kiss. Our faces got closer, slowly, and then I experienced the most wonderful kiss of my life! I was gone. I was on some other plain, like the third level of heaven, or…Antar or something.

“Then you guys came in!” he said with bitterness. “Sorry.” I muttered, caught up in the sweetness of the story. “Was it like with Isabel, or…” “No no, something totally different. Don’t get me wrong, Isabel was the world to me, but….Serena is like the universe to me. I think. I mean, I don’t know if she feels the same way, or if she just likes me. I haven’t really had a chance to talk to her about that yet. We’ve all just been excited over your baby and everything, I guess I’m just avoiding asking her because I’m scared she doesn’t feel the same way. But…if this isn’t love, then love doesn’t exist.”

There came an all too familiar cry from the other room. “Oh boy. Her majesty is calling.” I groaned. “It’s easy! Just find a different position and fall back asleep!” I whispered to myself through clenched teeth. “Gee Liz, grouchy?” Alex said wide-eyed. “Well, she was sleeping fine for like ten minutes and I was just gonna make a bottle and lay down myself!” “It’s 2:30 in the afternoon.” “Yes, I’m aware! Do you realize I haven’t got more than two or three hours of sleep in a row since I had her?” “Oh. Well, do you want me to comfort her majesty?” he offered. “No, that’s okay. I mean, I love her to pieces, but I just get overwhelmed sometimes.” Alex laughed. “What?” I asked. “It just struck me funny…she actually is royalty, you know.” I laughed. Alex raised an eyebrow. “Well, get your ass in there, chop chop!” “Oh. Right…the princess is calling.” I smirked. “Well, after you’re done feeding her, I’ll keep an eye on her, and you go nap.” “Oh Alex, you don’t have to.” “Look, I want to watch the kid, okay? She’s cute as a button, and I WILL be her favorite uncle!” he proclaimed.

I finished feeding Kaitlyn, and took her out to the living room with Alex. “We’ll be just fine. Take a couple of hours to nap.” “Thank you so much Alex, you sweetie.” I hugged him. “And good for you…you know, about Serena and everything. And don’t worry.” “What do you mean? Why?” “I don’t know how any girl could not feel the same way towards you when you give them the opportunity to. You’re a great guy.” He smiled. “Thanks.” I went into my bedroom and did something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of months. I picked up the phone and called my mom.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. “Hello?” my mom answered. My voice got caught in my throat. “Hello?” she said again. “Mom?” There was a silence. “LIZ?!” she gasped. “Yeah mom. It’s me.” “Liz, honey…” she started to cry, “what did I do wrong? Are you mad at me about something, cause we can fix it, honey.” I started to choke up. “Mom, no. No, it had absolutely nothing to do with you. Nothing. Just me. I love you, mom.” “Oh, I love you too sweetheart. I miss you. Where are you?” she asked. “Mom, I’m…I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you. But, I’m safe. I’m living with two other girls, Serena and Ava. They’re friends. Good friends.” “Are Kyle and Shawn with you? We’ve all been worried sick.” Well, that told me Jim was putting on a good act. What a guy. “Yeah, mom. Well, they’re living in the same apartment building, two floors above us, with….ummm, with eachother.” Whoa. That was close. Almost blew it there. “Well that makes me feel a little better, knowing you have some males looking after you…I think. But honey, why? Why did you go?” “I’ll probably explain it more later, mom, but all I can say is that I had several things happened to me that were…well, emotionally rattling. I had to get away. If I stayed in Roswell another day, I would have burst open at the seams! It was too much, with Alex dying, and Max and Maria and Michael and Isabel just….running off, and something else…” “What is going on with everybody?!! Why are all you kids running off everywhere? I don’t get it!” “Mom, I’ll explain, I really will, but I just wanted to hear your voice for now. I love you. I’ve got to go. Tell dad I love him too.” “Well, of course I will. Just tell me you’re being smart. Tell me you’re being safe…taking care of yourself.” Katie started crying. “I’ve got to go, mom. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.” “Is that a baby crying in the….” “What? Nope. No baby….the TV. Okay, bye, love you.” CLICK. I hung up fast. I took a deep breath and laid back. Alex seemed to be calming her down good enough. I drifted away.

Chapter 9

Six months flew by. So, I’ll bring you up to date. Alex had his talk with Serena and…..HURRAY! They are a cute little couple now. Shawn and Ava are still together. Closer than ever. They have that sickening puppy love thing going. Alex and Serena have that kind of cool, really close friend, type of relationship. Kyle. Kyle, Kyle, Kyle. Poor guy still doesn’t have anybody. It’s weird though, because he’s good looking enough. He could have somebody by now if he wanted to. I know he could. It’s like he’s waiting for something. My little Kaitlyn is doing fine. Nothing weird yet. She’s a very happy baby. Full of smiles and giggles, and a lot less crying. Thank GOD!! I have a job as a secretary at an elementary school, and have started taking some business classes at a community college. Kyle, for some reason, thought that it sounded like a good idea for him too. So, that’s what he’s taking.

Ava stared at me. I stared at a bottle of purple nail polish. My eyebrows went down. I touched the bottle with my finger. “You’re thinking too hard. Don’t try to understand how it’s going to happen. Just think of the color you want it to be, and believe that’s what it will become. Focus on that color, and your alien genes should do the rest for you.” I let out a sigh. “This sucks.” Ava rolled her eyes. “Don’t get frustrated so easy! Just keep trying. And keep this in mind: The more you practice, the easier and more natural it will become.” I put my finger on the bottle again. I concentrated on baby blue. Come on…blue, blue, blue. The bottle felt like it started to vibrate just a little. It got warm. I didn’t look. My eyes were closed. And it’s a good thing they were, because the bottle fucking exploded all over the place. I felt nail polish hit my face. Ava burst out in a roar of laughter. “Good job!” she said. I thought she was being sarcastic til I opened my eyes. Baby blue nail polish was everywhere. “A little too much energy there, but you did it!” She started laughing again. Aside from the mess I had to clean up, this was getting kind of fun. “So this is gonna suck to clean up.” Ava gave me a blank stare. “Have you learned nothing today?” She turned and waved her hand over everything that was covered in nail polish and just made it disappear…except for what was on my shirt. “You make that go away.” She said. “You took it off of everything including my face, so why couldn’t you have just done my shirt?!” “You need to learn this.” I was just sick of this. I wanted to go to bed. But it was very interesting to learn at the same time. I gave in. “Okay. What do I do?” “It’s actually easier than changing colors. You just wave your hand over it and concentrate on the material of your shirt being totally clean and dry.” I didn’t even think about it too hard at all. I just did what she said. I waved my hand over my shirt and just knew it would be clean. Wow! It fucking worked. “Oh my god! I did it! Look, it’s clean!! I did it!” “I knew you could do that one.” “How?” “Because you were tired of trying so hard and I knew you would just relax and simply think about it being clean, without all the thoughts of how it’s possible clouding your mind.” My eyebrows raised. “Wow, you’re perceptive.” “Thanks.”

As the weeks went by, I got better and better at changing the color or basic structure of things. I also started to get better at blowing shit up. That seemed to come natural to me. Go figure. Once Kyle and Alex caught wind of what I was becoming capable of, they were a little anxious to learn it themselves. I mean, let’s face it. Every boy wants to be an “X-men”. As Serena and Ava began to work with Kyle and Alex, it became apparent that each one of us had certain things we were better at. I can change the color or molecular structure of things fairly easily now. Mind warping is really becoming my strong point. Kyle is getting better at the molecular structure of things as well, but his strong point seems to be that he can point his hand toward something and make it fly across the room, or make it explode, or implode without a trace. He has been getting to the point to where he can sometimes do it without even moving his hand. He is really stuck on himself now. He thinks he’s the shit. I have to admit, his powers do impress me. But the most amazing of us all, is Alex. I think because he has had the most alien genetics thrust into his body in order to heal him, actually bring him back to life. Once Serena started working with him “closely” he can do the molecular stuff a little better than all of us. But that is not even his strong point. He seems to be more in touch with the mental side of things. Maybe even the spiritual side. He can dreamwalk. He can sense things before they happen, kind of like a telepathy. It seems that he can only sense things before they happen when it will involve a lot of energy or emotion. It’s like he can feel the tension and emotion that will be felt when that moment comes. It’s weird.

We were all sitting in the living room and Katie was sleeping. “I know I’m beginning to sound redundant, but I am just feeling nifty!” Kyle said with a smile. “I mean, my god, it’s like I’m a fricking super hero or something!!” I looked at him. “Yes, I know Kyle. We’re all glad that you are the best at blowing shit up.” Shawn had obviously been watching all the things that were being learned and whatnot. “This is so weird. All my friends are becoming mutants.” Shawn said with a little jealousy in his tone. Kyle looked at him seriously, “Shawn, my offer still stands. I am your friend, and I would love to kill you if you want me to. Your girlfriend can heal you, and you can be an X-men too!” he joked. Shawn looked thoughtfully at the ceiling. I think he was actually considering it. “I think I’ll just stick to watching Kaitlyn during practice sessions. But it’s good to know that you’re there to stab me in the back, should I so desire.” “Hey, I’m your pal.” Alex sat up with a worried look on his face. “Did the phone just ring?” Serena looked at him. “No. You alright?” He leaned back. “I guess.” Kyle continued with his ludicrous plans. “You know, we could start like a mafia type deal. Just start selecting different people, stab them, heal them, and start setting up headquarters in major cities. We could…dare I say it? Rule the world.” I laughed. “You’re kinda starting to scare me, little boy.” Kyle frowned. “Little boy?” “Well, you sort of have that ‘little boy’ type of face, you know?” “No, I don’t know. Please indulge me.” I smiled. “I don’t know, it’s…I mean I’m not trying to insult you! I don’t mean it in a bad way, I meant you have a cute face.” Kyle didn’t respond. Okaaaay. Did I just make him uncomfortable?

The phone rang. No one wanted to reach for the phone since we had been getting so many telemarketing calls. Then it occurred to Kyle, who also was the closest to the phone, that it was 9:37 pm. He hit the speakerphone button. “Hello?” There was breathing on the other end for just a moment. “Kyle?” came the voice. “Dad?” Kyle sat up. We knew that if he was calling, it was to inform us of something important…good or bad. We all listened. “Why are you whispering, dad?” More breathing. “I….I’m a little scared, son.” “Dad, what’s wrong? What’s going on?” Pause. “I’m in our basement. I was looking for a tool, and I noticed a note sitting on my worktable. That scared me enough, because it meant someone had been in the house. But….” Kyle stood up and started to slowly pace back and forth. “I’m gonna read you what the note says, okay? The note says… ‘Do you know where she lives? You must write where she lives on the back of this paper. You will do this.’” Kyle sat back down. More silence. He continued, as Kyle was speechless. “I wanted to come down there and tell you in person, but decided not to, for two reasons. One: I think you needed to know this right away. And two: I have a sick feeling in my gut that if I did go down there, I would be followed. Kyle, I have a dark feeling…that someone is watching me right now… waiting for me to write on the back of this paper.” Kyle’s hands began to shake. “Dad, are you okay?” His voice quivered. “Kyle, I love you. I love everyone there, too. I think I have to go now.” My insides felt like they were trembling. I spoke up. “Jim, don’t hang up! Listen to me! You write down an address on the back of that paper, and you get out of there. Go to the airport, okay?” Kyle spoke again. “She’s right dad. If you have a bad feeling, then just write down any address and get away.” Jim’s voice came back. “I think…I think they can tell if I’m lying. I don’t know how. I just don’t feel like I should lie. I think that would be bad.” Mixed emotions of fear and anger against whatever was doing this coursed through me. “Then write down our real address and call us from the airport! Let us know what time you’ll be here! Okay?” It seemed that every time it was Valenti’s turn to speak, he was waiting to make sure nobody was listening…or looking. “But what if they follow…” Kyle interrupted him. “Then we’ll move to a different place! Just do it! And stay on the phone until you are out of the house.” “Yeah. Okay. I’ll do that. Hold on.” There was some shuffling noises, then what sounded like a pencil on paper. A little more noise, then silence. “Okay, I’m going up the stairs now.” We all sat motionless as we listened to the creaking of wooden stairs under his feet. It was like we were listening to a radio horror show. “Okay, got my keys. Wallet. I’m on my cell right now. Should I stay on while I’m driving?” His voice was shaking. It was really strange to be trying to comfort him. Usually, he was who we turned to when we were scared. Kyle answered him. “Just until you get in your car. Then you should probably concentrate on driving.” We heard a door open and shut. Then the click of a car handle. The car door shut surprisingly quiet. “I’m going to hang up now. I love you, all of you. I’ll call you when I’m boarding my plane.” The phone went dead. I looked at everyone in the room. They all had a cold, blank expression. “Start packing.”

Chapter 10

Jim’s ride to the airport was a blur. All he could think about was what in the hell it was that he felt back at his house. It was as if something was tapping into his mind, making him feel the fear, the presence, the evil intent. It felt like it was so close that it could have been in his front yard, under his porch, in his attic, in the basement there with him. Maybe it was watching him patiently from behind a half-opened storage room door. A shiver went up his spine. Somehow he knew just how evil and wrong it was. It was no Khivar. It was no Nicholas. It was not just some alien with a bitter memory against me. It seemed that it might be something altogether different. Something we had never encountered or even heard of before.

Jim tried to concentrate on the road. He felt a little peace begin to flow through his veins again as he got further away from his house. He almost didn’t realize how tense he was until he began to relax again. He arrived at the airport and got his ticket. Talk about packing light. He had his wallet, cell phone, and the clothes on his back. He sat down on one of the chairs to wait for his flight. It would leave in about an hour. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed.

It was crazy. We had no time to think. Everyone rushing around in the apartments, gathering stuff together as fast as we possibly could. Up in the guys’ apartment Shawn was losing his cool. “Hey! Has anyone seen my electric shaver?!” Kyle rushed passed him. “Can’t help you. Excuse me!” “ALEX!! Have you seen my electric shaver?!!” Alex was in his room frantically putting clothes in a duffle bag. “I’m sorry, I haven’t! Have you checked the drawer on the left in the bathroom?” “Yes! Twice!” Kyle rushed passed him again, and glanced down as he went by. “It’s in your bag dude.” Shawn looked down. It was sitting on the very top of his very open bag. “Damn it!! I can’t think!”

In our apartment, it wasn’t so much commotion as it was all of us just rushing around in silent thought. We didn’t even care what was whose. We just shoved everything in a bag, or plastic garbage sack, or a plastic grocery sack. I knew there was a reason I saved those things religiously. When a bag was full, it was thrown by the door. The night went on like this until we were all done and exhausted. We collapsed on the couches or recliners. The boys just started loading everything small into the cars. See, that’s what boys are for. Then the phone rang, about 12:30 am. I woke from my dose and picked it up without thinking. “Hullo?” “Liz?” I remembered the urgency of the situation we were currently in, and I sat up. “Yeah, Jim? Are you at the airport? Are you alright?” “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Fine. Listen, uh, my flight leaves in about an hour. It is scheduled to arrive in Omaha at around 5:30…I guess 6:30 am, your time. So, is someone gonna pick me up, or send a cab or something?” I was still waking up. “Uh….no, I’ll umm…me and Kyle can come get you.” That just came out of my mouth without me thinking. Me and Kyle…where did that come from? “Okay, just meet me by the baggage claim…although I don’t have any.” “Yeah. Sounds good. You sure you’re alright?” He sighed into the phone. “Yes, I’m alright. I’m fine.” When you’re in these kinds of situations, it tends to wake you up to the important things. “Jim?” “Yeah.” “I love you too.” He paused. “Thanks. I do care for you like a daughter. I’ll see you in the morning.” Click.

The boys finished up and crashed in our living room. All of us girls went and slept sideways on my bed. The alarm was set for 4:30 am. Oh god! The sun is smart enough to sleep later than that. In the morning Kyle and I would go to get Valenti, and Shawn would take Alex with him to go get a U-haul. We didn’t even know where we were hauling it to! Crazy. Oh well. I cleared my mind and sleep overtook me. I was slowly lured into my subconscious. Sleep.
BEEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEEP…I shut that awful noise off immediately so that it wouldn’t wake up Katie. That, and I hate that fucking noise. Note to self: Purchase radio alarm clock. Ava and Serena gave me those typical mumbling moans that meant, ‘Yeah, I’ll be up in just a second…’. I walked into the living room and leaned over Kyle who was in his jeans and T-shirt, sprawled out on the floor, with his head leaning on the couch. “Kyle.” I whispered. “Kyle. Wake up.” He rolled over and said something incoherent. “Kyle.” He half sat up, onto his elbows. “Huh?” “Hey. We have to leave here in about an hour.” “Then wake me up in a half an hour.” He rolled back over. I stood up and looked at him for just a moment. I waited for it. “Damn it! Now I can’t fall back asleep!” I smiled. “Good. Would you be a sweetheart and make Kaitlyn a bottle?” I didn’t wait for an answer, but turned and went to the bathroom to get ready. By the time I was ready and started to get Katie up, everyone else was up and about. They weren’t moving very fast, but they were up. Slowly conversation began to wander through the apartment as peoples’ thoughts began to catch up with their brains. Alex came out of the bathroom and found Shawn, Ava, and Serena were all sitting on the couch, ready for the day. “You know, I was thinking…” Alex began, “Do you think U-haul is going to rent a truck to a dead kid and an aspiring criminal?” Serena thought for a second. “He’s got a point. Me and Alex will go. Shawn, you and Ava can just stay here and wait for us all to get back. Sound good?” “Sure. I can catch up on some more sleep then.” Shawn said, rubbing his eyes. Ava leaned over and laid her head on his chest, promptly falling asleep. Shawn’s arm instinctively went around her, and his head hit the back of the couch…zzzzzzz. Alex was staring longingly at the one space left on the couch. “Serena, can I stay too?” he whined. “No sleepy for you, Muffin. You can pretend that you’re still sleeping here while we’re getting the U-haul. Does that help?” she said in a baby voice. Alex groaned as she grabbed his hand. “Come on.” And out the door they went.

I finished feeding Katie, and Kyle took her out to the car to get her all strapped into her car seat. I followed them shortly after. I was once again in a mode of moving and living on instinct. After being relaxed and mostly fulfilled, for the last few months, I was right back to square one. Fuck. Keep moving. Keep breathing. Keep a smile on my face and hope that certain death does not await me around the next corner. Welcome to my life. I got into the passenger seat of Kyle’s car. We drove in silence for a while. Katie went right back to sleep in her car seat. What a cutie. Traffic was pretty much nonexistent. Quiet. My fears knocked on the door of my thoughts. I tried to ignore them by concentrating on the things around me. I looked out the window at a black sky that would soon be light. A lifeless city that would soon be full of busy, crazy rushing about; the soothing sound of tires on a wet road. I felt so disconnected and separate from this world. Where am I going? Do I even care anymore? Fearful images wandered right into my mind, ignoring my distinct decision to not dwell on them. “Kyle…I’m so scared.” A tear pushed it’s way down my face. Kyle happened to say just the right thing at that moment. “I’m here.” He said, simply. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I guess I must have had a hidden fear in the back of my mind that, when the reality of the danger came to surface, my friends would vanish. I wouldn’t blame them if they did, and deep down I know they wouldn’t. But, it was nice to here him say it. I stared at him just appreciating and enjoying the fact that he was with me; not just in the car, but in my life. He reached over and held my hand in comfort. The thing I love about Kyle is that I know he truly cares.

We pulled into the airport and Katie was still sleeping. “I don’t really want to wake her up right now.” I said. “Okay. Do you want me to stay in here with her while you get my dad, or do you want me to get my dad?” I looked at the clock. “It’s 6:15. His plane doesn’t land for another fifteen minutes.” “Well, that’s not really an answer, now is it?” he smiled. “I’ll go in and meet your dad. You can wait with Kaitlyn in the car.” We sat in the car for a little while. Time seemed to move slowly. There was a tension in the car. I could sort of tell that Kyle was wanting to say something. He turned to face me. “Liz, I want to say something.” Am I good or what? “I feel kind of stupid, and I don’t want to get all mushy…but, I want to say something.” I kept looking at him. “Okay, what?” I said. “Well, what I want to say is I love you.” My heart took a flying leap into my throat. “Huh?” He started to fumble around. “I mean in a friendly way. I guess what I was trying to say is that you can be sure that I will always be here for you, as a friend, because I love you. So, you don’t have to be scared.” A mix of emotions filled me. Why was I feeling sad? Disappointed. It was like he slapped me when he said the words “in a friendly way.” What’s wrong with me? Was I actually hoping that he meant the other kind of love? My eyes had wandered to the parking lot in front of me. I turned towards him again. “Thank you, Kyle. That means a lot to me. I mean, you’ll never know how much…” My words trailed off, as did my eyes, avoiding contact with his. I almost felt annoyed with myself. If I really did want this friendship to be more, then how long have I felt this way without knowing it? And why wouldn’t I let myself realize it? Kyle looked at the clock. “You better go meet my dad. Are you okay? You look confused.” I blushed. “No, I’m good. I’ll be back in minute. Your dad is probably waiting.” I got out of the car, shut the door, and headed for the entrance.

Chapter 11

It was early, but all kinds of people were walking or jogging frantically to their planes or waiting for a friend to arrive…I found the baggage claim with no problems, and waited. The airport was drafty, like there was always a cool breeze coming from somewhere. Annoying. It was that time of year when you had to wear a jacket in the morning, and take it off in the afternoon…maybe even change from a sweater to a T-shirt. Someone grabbed my shoulder. “Hey,” came a familiar voice. I spun around. “Hey Jim! You scared the sh…crap out of me!” I blurted. He laughed. “I’m not your father Liz, if I scared the shit out of you, I scared the shit out of you.” I laughed in agreement. “Right…well, you did….scare the shit out of me.” He smiled. “Watch your mouth!” he joked, and then he hugged me. It was good to see him again. With him around, I always felt a little safer. “I’ve missed you!” I said. “I’ve missed you too. Is Kyle out in the car?” “Yeah. Actually, he’s waiting out there with Katie. She was still sleeping so we didn’t bring her in.” We headed towards the doors. “I can’t wait to finally see her.”

Kyle saw us walking towards the car and got out with a very awake Katie in his arms. “Dad!” Jim walked a little faster. After all, it had been a year. “Hey, son!” Kyle handed Katie ever so carefully to me, and hugged his dad. “How’ve you been Kyle? Doing alright?” Kyle frowned and looked at his dad thoughtfully. “Well, I was until…when was that? Oh! I remember. When you told us that some unknown, evil, possibly telepathic ‘thing’ that gave you a ‘dark’ feeling, wanted to know where we lived. Aside from that, the job is going well and I’m going to school. How have you been?” “Pretty good, son…up until about when I called you. Yeah, that ruined my night. I’m hungry. Is there a McDonald’s around?” We all got in the car, and I strapped Katie back in. I sat in back with Katie, Jim sat in the passenger seat, and Kyle drove. “She is a very beautiful girl, Liz.” Jim commented. “Thank you. I like her…when she’s happy.” Kyle and Jim laughed. “Hey, when she’s happy, I’m happy. When she’s miserable, I’m miserable.” Jim turned to look at me and Katie. “Oh, it gets better when they hit about…ten.” He teased. I gave a mock laugh. “Ha ha.” Kyle glanced in the rearview mirror, and I could see only his eyes and frowning eyebrows. “I have no idea where a McDonald’s is around this area of town. Do you?” “Actually, no. I’m sure if we just head down 30th we’ll find one. That’s a fairly main street.” We came to a set of stoplights and turned left onto 30th. The car was silent for a few minutes. Kyle sat up straight in his seat and peered intently through the windshield, as if it was uncontrollable. “Oh my God!” he said quietly. A chill ran up my spine. Jim turned towards Kyle. “Son, what is it?” Kyle’s eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “I see the golden arches.”

The man on the other side of the desk was looking at the T.V. screen. Serena rang the bell, as if he didn’t know she and Alex were standing right there. “Hi. We need a very large truck.” The man put up one index finger as if to say ‘one minute’. The sounds of a preacher were coming from the speakers of the television as the man listened intently. Alex noticed Serena’s hand move slightly toward the T.V. There was some static noise, and the T.V. went dead. “What the…!” Serena leaned forward and to the side…almost in front of the broken television. “Umm…yeah, hi. We need to give you some money, and you need to give us the keys to one of those big mover trucks. Okay?”
The man turned his sad face to hers. “The 700 Club was on…and my T.V. just stopped working. Now my whole fucking day is ruined. God damn it!!” Alex cocked his eyebrows. “Isn’t that a religious show?” The man turned to Alex. “Yes. Yes, it is.” His face calmed. He turned around and bent over, opening a drawer. Alex smiled at Serena. The man turned back around with some papers. “Fill these out. Just set them up here when you’re done and…well, you know how to ring the bell.” They went to a bench in the room and sat down together to fill them out. “For some reason, I find it very sexy when you get all assertive like that.” Alex whispered to Serena. “Calm down, muffin. I broke the T.V. of a freaked out religious weirdo.” “Yeah, but you made him pay attention to you. That’s so….sexy.” “No…you’re weird.” “Maybe it’s just that everything you do is sexy….yeah, that must be it.” Serena put down her pen and grabbed Alex’s cheeks, turning his face toward hers. “Muffin, I’m trying to fill out some forms. Enough with the foreplay.” She returned to her papers. Alex smiled. “See, there you go again.”

Kyle pulled the car into a parking spot right next to the moving truck that Serena and Alex brought back to the apartment. Shawn and Alex were already coming towards the truck with a couch. We got out of the car and everyone greeted Valenti with some relief on their faces. Kyle introduced Serena and Ava. To make a long story short, we spent that morning and early afternoon loading up the truck. Me and Kyle went over to talk to the landlord and let them know we were leaving. We didn’t get our deposit back. Everything taken care of, there was just one thing left to do…figure out where the hell we were moving to. We all stood in the parking lot by the side of the truck. Jim spoke. “I’m just gonna step out on a limb here, but I think maybe we should get out of town. Maybe out of state.” Shawn looked worried. “We’ll all have to find new jobs again if we do that. Can we handle that financially? I mean, we also need money for a deposit on two more apartments, and the first months rent…” Ava interrupted. “Shawn, you got a buck on you?” Shawn looked at her like she just asked the circumference of the sun. “What does that have to do with anything?” “Give me a dollar.” Shawn mumbled something to himself about women. He produced the dollar bill from his pocket and handed it to her. He turned back towards everyone else. “Well?” I spoke up. “I think we’ll be fine.” I said smiling as I watched Ava wave her hand over the bill. Shawn annoyingly noticed everyone smiling. He thought everyone was staring at him. “What!” Ava tapped him on the shoulder. “Got change for a hundred?” It sunk into his thick little mind what she had done. “Okay, how come you haven’t done that before?” “Because, it’s okay when it’s absolutely necessary. If we did it all the time, it would be just a little suspicious to the government if we had a mansion and worked at the mall.” Shawn nodded. “Right. So…if I just wanted a fairly cheap motorcycle that….” “No.” Ava said firmly. Alex laughed. “You know, Shawn would probably…” Alex just stopped talking. He stared straight ahead, but he wasn’t looking at the truck. Valenti walked towards Alex. “Alex?” Jim turned and looked at me. “Is Alex okay?” I mumbled, “I don’t know. Alex? Alex!” Alex’s face changed. It looked like he was in silent pain. Serena put her hand on his back. “Alex, look at me.” Alex snapped back into reality like someone in a coma waking up to realize the world around them. “We need to go. We need to go right now.” Valenti was confused. “What are you talking about? Did you see something? Is something nearby?” Alex looked at him, “No, but it will be. Very soon I think. Guys, we seriously need to go. We can figure it out on the way.” I looked at Jim. “I’ll explain later, but we should really listen to him.” He simply nodded and got into the U-haul. I threw my keys at Alex, and told him and Serena to take my car. Me, Kyle, and Katie of course jumped into Kyle’s car. Shawn and Ava were already pulling out of their parking spot to wait for everyone else to pull out and lead the way. We let Alex and Serena lead the way, trusting in his instinct. Shawn and Ava followed them, Valenti got behind them, and we were the last. We pulled out of the apartment and I began to feel that feeling that I had been trying and trying to forget for months. Fear. Worse than fear. Terror. Dark, evil presence. I closed my eyes, and opened them immediately. I thought, for just a split second, about what I saw the last time I closed my eyes when I had this feeling. And, I don’t know if I saw it again, or if I just vividly remembered it. I kept my eyes open. As we left, we passed by the landlord’s office. I happened to turn my head. The landlady was standing at the open door of the office. She appeared to be talking to a child. I couldn’t see the child’s face, because they had a jacket with a hood on, and the child’s back was towards me…then I noticed something strange. The kid who was talking to her wouldn’t look up at her…and…looked sort of hunched over. My eyes wandered to the landlady. Little rivers of fear ran through me as I looked out the back dash and realized the woman was not even attempting to look down at the kid. She looked zoned out. There was a hint of fear on her face. But it seemed that something wouldn’t let her look down. It can’t be. No, I’m sure that that kid is not…

Chapter 12

Seattle is wet, as everyone knows. Very wet. I’m going to skip forward quite a bit now, to almost the present. About a year from the present. Valenti went with us almost all the way to Seattle, and then said that he was going to return to Roswell. He didn’t want to know where we were moving to, exactly. He just had everybody’s cell numbers. So far, we have heard of no strange happenings or threats of any kind on Jim. Thank God. Thank Buddha. Thank all those holy guys. Once again, with fearful hesitation, our lives have (apparently) turned back to normal…whatever normal is. I’m just gonna tell you what my fear was about that strange child that seemed to have some kind of power over the landlady. As if there could be any other theory, besides a crippled boy scout selling cookies, who was so ugly, she couldn’t bare to look, ….I fear it was the strange creature that I saw in my head. That charcoal-black, moist-skinned, hunched thing. Probably the same thing that left Valenti the eerie note about our whereabouts. The same thing, I believe, that has been giving me fearful thoughts, making me think about things I don’t want to think about. The same thing that made me scream ‘She must die!’ and made Serena clench my wrists, muttering the same phrase.

Summary of the past two and a half years is as follows: The pod squad has been gone for three and a half years. I finally told my parents about Katie when she was about 10 months old. They were upset that I kept it from them for so long and said I could’ve stayed with them and they would have helped. I talk to my parents once every month or so. Kyle has gone to visit his dad a few times; I go with him and take Katie with me so my parents can see her. Our visits were always short, never more than three or four days. My parents know that Max is Katie’s father. I told them I didn’t know where Max or any of the others are and that he left before I found out I was pregnant. My parents along with Jim are under strict instruction that if Max and the others ever return that they are not to be told of Katilyn or where we are. My parents and Jim still don’t know where we live. All they have for our address are PO Boxes that are a couple of towns away, and we only pick up that mail about once a month. So enough with the parents.

Kaitlyn Michelle Parker is now three years old, and she looks more and more like me everyday, but still with Max’s beautiful eyes. The weird thing is, her face looks like me, but every now and then, she will give me this look that just reminds me of Max so much. I don’t know if it’s my love for school that rubbed off, or alien genes, but she’s smart. Real smart. Sometimes, I get the feeling that she knows a lot more about what’s going on than I think she does. Oh, and there’s a problem…she calls Kyle ‘Uncle Daddy’ which just freaks strangers out who happen to be walking by. We’ve tried to correct her many times. She called him Uncle Kyle, since she could say the words, but then she noticed all the kids at her daycare had a “Daddy” who would come to get them. So, from that point forward, she decided he was “Uncle Daddy”.

Kyle is twenty-one. I’m twenty, but soon to be twenty-one in four months. Kyle and I transferred the credits that we could, and each got an associate’s business degree and are halfway done with our bachelor’s. Kyle’s mom was in a car accident about six or seven months ago, and was killed. She left everything she had to Kyle, including a $150,000 life insurance policy. Kyle took it hard, but not too hard. He only regretted never knowing her that well. Kyle came to me with the idea to open a restaurant of our own with the money he inherited, and wanted me to be his partner. I was quite flattered, and we got started right away. It is a LOT of work and money to open a restaurant. Everything from legal fees to heavy-duty kitchen equipment, ended up requiring a loan in addition to the money Kyle wanted to use. Shawn and Ava are living together. Kyle and Alex got a place together. Me, Serena, and Katie are in one place. But, most of the time, Serena spends the night with Alex, and Kyle spends the night with me. Oh, did I mention we’re together? Yeah. Me and Kyle. We had a talk after that night at the airport, and decided we both felt a pull towards each other. We’ll see where this goes. I feel like I’m in high school again…only with a daughter…and we kinda feel like a family.

Me and Kyle were in the building we had rented for our restaurant. It was down town; brick, with big picture windows in the front, similar to the Crashdown. But, this would be more of a restaurant than, like, a diner. It needed some remodeling, but that wasn’t too big of a problem. All the kitchen equipment had been installed already, and the tables and chairs had just been delivered. The big windows, which would normally reveal people walking from shop to shop only a few feet from the front of the building, were covered with large sheets of brown paper. We sat on two of the new chairs, in a very dim, very large room. We could faintly hear people talking and hailing taxis, and cars going by. We stared at the walls. “I’m thinking a really bright pink.” Kyle said. Sarcastically, I responded, “Yeah, that would really work well with our ‘brooding lounge’ theme.” We both laughed. “No, seriously. What color do you think would look good?” I asked. Kyle sat silent for a moment, and looked at the long, straight wall. “I think I want to give this place atmosphere, you know? Not just paint it a cool color, but maybe have a mural on the wall.” “Like the Crashdown?” I said with hesitation. “No, no. I mean a real moody picture, not something that looks like the 5th grade art class helped out. I think we should get an idea, and then hire an artist. Not a painter, mind you, an artist. Someone who can put some feeling into the wall.” “Hmm. Okay. Yeah. I think that would be a good idea, you know, like forcing this place to always have a certain mood.” Kyle looked at the long bar, which stretched from the entrance to the kitchen. “Yeah…but how can we make sure that the picture is something that everyone can relate to, or have an interest in, without being cliché?” I thought for moment or two. “So, you want it to be moody…and something everyone will be interested in looking at…and have atmosphere?” I asked. “Yes.” He said. “Okay, then why not have the whole wall painted as if it was a mirror reflecting all the people sitting at the tables and eating, or sitting and standing at the bar, drinking and talking.” Kyle turned and faced me with shock on his face. “You are brilliant.” I smiled and half closed my eyes as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close for a gentle, but surprisingly passionate kiss. I love it when he does that. Just out of the blue, he will effectively remind me that he can’t get enough of me. We continued to kiss, getting a little more disconnected from the world around us. I think he was about to lift me up onto the bar when Serena and Alex walked in. We stopped, and I heard Kyle groan in disappointment. “Hi, guys. I’m so glad you came in the room just now.” he said in an overly sarcastic tone. “Yeah. Well, Shawn and Ava will be here any minute, so just be glad Katie didn’t see mommy and ‘Uncle Daddy’ naked on the new bar.” said Serena, with a grin. Red faced, I replied, “I would never get naked on the bar!” Kyle looked at me as if to say ‘You wouldn’t?’ I replied with a reassuring wink that said ‘Of course I would.’

We all worked hard that night, positioning the chairs and tables where we wanted them, cleaning everything from the floor to ceiling, experimenting with different colors for the walls, besides the one that would have the mural. Everyone got tired one at a time and slowly my help disappeared until it was just me, Kyle, and Katie playing in the corner with her toys, struggling to stay awake. What a trooper. “So, are you about ready to go home?” Kyle complained. “I mean it’s eleven o’clock. Katie is about to fall asleep behind the bar.” “Well, I think I like this midnight blue for the rest of the walls, except for the kitchen, of course. That big window in the wall gives people a pretty good view of the kitchen. I think we’ll just stick with white walls back there.” I was on a roll. Kyle sighed at me, turned and picked up Katie, placing her on the bar. “Okay, Katie, look at mommy. Give her that face you give me when you don’t want to put your toys away. Tell her you want to go home.” Katie obeyed her uncle daddy, and gave me her best puppy face. “Momma, I wanna go home.” she whimpered. “Okay, baby. Kyle we have both of our cars here anyway, will you take her home? I wanna stay here for just a little while longer, rearrange some things.” He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Katie my lady. Mommy’s staying here.” he said. He gathered her toys into a bag, swooped her up, and they each kissed me goodnight. “Night, mommy.” Kaitlyn said in a tired squeaky voice. “Ni-night, baby. I love you.”

I must have been there for a half an hour after they left when I decided to take a break and found myself falling asleep with my head on the table. I woke up. “Oh boy, I better get home while I’m still awake enough to drive.” I thought to myself. I gathered my stuff, and turned all of the lights off. Maybe it was just my childhood fear of the dark or something, but I felt nervous as I reached for the handle of the back door that led into the alley, where my car was. I turned the knob and stopped, leaving the door shut. “Damn it, my keys.” I had left them on one of the tables. I turned and walked back into the dining area, not bothering with the lights. Then I realized that there was not much light in there at all, because the windows were covered with brown paper. There was just enough light to barely see the edges of a couple of tables nearest to the window. Something caught my eye on the table closest to the front door…ah, my keys. I walked over and promptly kicked one of the chairs with my foot. SCREECH! I started at the sound of the metal chair sliding across the polished wood floor. Taking a breath, I quickly grabbed my keys, turned around, and walked back to the door. It was open a crack. The dim light of the alley poured into the kitchen, placing dim shadows all over the room. Did I let that open a little? I thought I left it closed. Okay, just go to the car. Go to the car, now. “This is nice.” A voice came from the kitchen. I stopped, cold…frozen. The adrenalin running through me made my legs tingle, made them feel weak, or reluctant to move. “Um, hello? Who are you?” I quickly turned to face the kitchen and started backing up towards the door. A shadow stepped from the doorway of the kitchen, slowly. “Hi.” he said plainly. “Hi.” I replied, trying not to sound nervous. My hand felt for the doorknob behind me, and found it. “My name is Steve. I um…I…the door was open.” I swung the door open, shedding streetlight into the room. He had normal look to him. Like someone you would expect to see in the men’s section at a Yonkers or something. But, that didn’t calm my nerves. He stepped towards me. I saw that he had blonde hair, cut short, and was clean-shaven….nope, I still feel nervous. “Can I help you?” I asked as I stepped out into the alley. He took another step towards me. He was about five feet from me now. He could easily lunge forward and grab me in two seconds. I didn’t wait for him to answer. I let the door go and it began to shut as I ran for my car….forty feet, or so, away. I didn’t hear the door close. Instead, I heard the sound of it being pushed open again. I reached my car, and realized my keys were not in my coat pocket. Oh, god! “I’m just…uh…you’re opening a restaurant here, aren’t you?” he said as he walked calmly closer. “Yes.” I said, fumbling through my purse for my keys. I must have thrown them in here. “Well, I’m a chef, you see. I, uh…do you have an application?” I looked up. He was closing in on about twenty feet from me. “Why the hell are you showing up in a dark restaurant, through the back alley door, at midnight to apply?!” I asked with my nerves clearly showing now. This guy is seriously freaking me out. “Oh, I’m just a night owl, is all. You like owls? I saw an owl once.” Okay, definitely not your basic Yonkers shopper. He must shop at Bonkers. CLINK. I found my keys. “Why don’t you stop by in the morning, I really need to go to bed.” I unlocked my door, got in, shut it and locked it. Whew. As my shaking hands tried to put the key in the ignition, he approached my door, and leaned over, looking at me through my window. “I didn’t mean to scare you, it’s just that I’m a chef, you see? And I can’t sleep, is all.” His face went mean as I started the car. Then he smiled and gave me a wink. “Okay, well, kiss your daughter goodnight for me.” he said with smirk. I peeled out, and took off, reaching almost 50 mph by the end of the alley. I turned the corner, and sped off down the street.


[ edited 4 time(s), last at 22-Jul-2002 8:55:16 PM ]
posted on 10-May-2002 12:02:14 AM
Chapter 13

I paid no attention to the speed limit on my way home. I called Kyle on my cell phone. Needless to say, he was waiting on the porch of my house with the light on. (Me and Serena are renting a small three-bedroom house) He ran up to the door of my car when I pulled up, and hugged me when I got out. “Oh my god, Liz, are you okay? What happened exactly? All I could understand on the phone was that a freaked out guy came into the restaurant and then followed you out to your car!” I started walking to the door. “Let’s just get inside. I’ll tell you more. C’mon.” We went inside and, even though I knew there was no way the psycho could be there, I checked on Katie. All was well. I came back into the living room and sat down next to Kyle on the couch. He put one arm around me and gently rubbed my arm. He must have seen me start to glance at the front door. “I locked it. Relax. What happened?” I looked at Kyle with tears in my eyes. “Kyle, this is not good. He knows me. I don’t know how or why, but he was there for me.” Kyle’s face went from comforting, straight to worried. “What do you mean he knows you? Do you know him?” “No! I don’t! But, Kyle, he mentioned Katie. That’s what is freaking me out! Kyle, he must have known we were there, and then just waited for me to be alone. I don’t even know how he knew I was going to be alone! It’s like his timing was just perfect, you know? I mean, the door was only unlocked from the time you left until about midnight. It’s like it was set up!” Kyle looked at me funny. “How could that possibly be set up? The only way that could be set up is if something made me leave or made you stay…or both. Liz, come to think of it, I don’t even know why I didn’t lock the door behind me…or why it never occurred to me that it was dumb to leave you there alone. Those thoughts never crossed my mind! I was totally relaxed, and all I cared about was getting home! Liz…from my dad’s experience, and what happened to you and Serena, we know that this weird alien creature that’s been after you has some kind of mental or psychic control over people, right?” I started to cry uncontrollably from the fear. “Kyle, now that I look back on it, I don’t even know why I wanted to stay there late! I don’t think I even worked on anything…I just sat there…waiting, until I fell asleep. Then something woke me up.”

Shawn and Ava were asleep on their couch. Late night movie-a-thons were a common practice at their apartment. Shawn rolled over with a groan, and Ava’s head slipped off of his stomach and hit the couch cushion. She woke. “Shawn, sweetie…get up.” Shawn’s eyes blinked at the light of the TV. “What?” “It’s time for bed.” Shawn sighed. “You woke me up to tell me it’s time for bed?! Why can’t we just sleep on the couch?” “Because.” “Because, why?” Ava sat up and then stood up, looking down at Shawn. “Because, I slept on a freaking couch in the sewers of New York for years…I like our bed.” “Fine. You win.” Shawn got up grumbling, and they headed for the bedroom. BOOM. BOOM. A knock came on the door. “Who the hell is that? It’s after midnight!” Ava said with a growl. “If that is Kyle and Alex coming to take you to some club, they can just…” BOOM. BOOM. Shawn turned to Ava. “Head for bed. I’ll turn the partiers away.” Shawn walked over to the door and opened it. “Sorry guys, I can’t….uh, can I help you?” A tall blonde-haired man stood there, staring. “Hi.” he said plainly. “Hi. Do you need something?” The man looked at the ground and then back up. “Well, I’m a chef, you see?” Shawn frowned. “Great, well I’m not hiring.” The man chuckled and it sent an uncomfortable chill up Shawn’s spine. “That’s funny. It is really funny, is all. You see, that’s why I’m laughing. Do you know where Liz lives? Liz with the restaurant?” Shawn felt himself shivering. “Do you know Liz?” He smiled. “Well, I was trying to apply to be a chef at the restaurant. I’m like an owl, you know?” Ava felt a very eerie presence and began to walk up behind Shawn to see who was there. She could clearly tell from the fear in Shawn’s voice that it was not Kyle or Alex. “No, I don’t really know why you’re like an owl. I think you better leave.” The man stepped forward, almost to Shawn’s face. “I’m hungry. I would like to give Liz an application, you see?” At that moment, Ava stepped out from behind Shawn. The man looked at her and seemed to step back a little. He suddenly seemed nervous. “Hi…you’re strong. I just want to apply, you see? I need to know where Liz is.” Ava stepped forward and closed her eyes. The man began to shake. Ava spoke. “Leave.” Without another word, the man ran down the hallway and disappeared. Shawn slammed the door and locked it. “Who the hell was that guy? What did you do?” Ava opened her eyes. “All I could see was something dark…and small…in his mind.” Shawn looked at her. “Okaaaaay.” Ava picked up the phone. “We need to call Liz and Kyle.”

By 1:20 a.m., the whole gang was at me and Serena’s house. Kyle and I sat on the couch, while Alex and Serena sat on the loveseat, and Shawn and Ava sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. Alex spoke first. “I’m just going to say what nobody else wants to say. I think it’s safe to assume that it is not just bad dreams following Liz. Whatever that little black creature is, it’s real. I don’t know if it is disguising itself in the form of this Steve guy, or just controlling him. My guess would be that it is controlling this guy somehow. That’s my feeling, anyway. I think we are all fairly certain that this thing is what wrote the note to Valenti.” The room was silent, and then Alex spoke again. “And…we all know what it’s after.” A couple of us glanced towards Katie’s room. My voice quivered as I spoke. “So, here is what we know. It’s alien. It’s evil. It’s here. It has some very powerful capabilities with controlling peoples’ minds, and it’s after my daughter. Here’s what we don’t know. Why does it want Katie…” I couldn’t say it. “Why does it want her, and what are we going to do?”

Behind a large house, in the backyard, under a wooden deck, in dark shadow, two small, pitch-black, creatures stood. No more than a few feet tall. One was slightly larger in height and build than the other one. Shadows seemed to crowd around them, following them, in order to hide them. They liked the shadow, and the shadow liked them. Human-like and yet not, they stood hunched speaking nervously to each other. Clearly, English was not their native language. “So, it is settled, is it not? We cannot use this human, you see? We can’t. He is much too strong in his mind. It is haaaarrd to control himmm. When is being in front of one of the powerful ones, he won’t let us control him. No. He is too scaaaared.” The larger one nodded, and smiled, showing his jagged teeth. “Yes. I’m hungry. We can’t use him, is all, you see? Well, I’mmm thinking now. He can’t speak of us, no. He can’t go around. He’ll saaay things to people. We will make him gone, okay?” Two shadows crawled up the side of the house and disappeared into the window.

Upstairs Steve slept restlessly. He groaned. Suddenly, he sat up with a start. He could feel them near. He noticed that one particular corner of his room was dark. Too dark. The shadow moved towards him until he could make out two small figures standing next to his bed. He sat up. “No. I…I don’t want to kill her. Don’t make me do anything!! I don’t want to!” The smaller one spoke in a hushed, raspy voice. “Lay down, Steve.” Steve’s mouth closed uncontrollably, and he lay down trembling. “It’s okay. Weee are not to use you, now. You care too muchhh. You are done, you see? It’s okay.” Steve lay there, paralyzed. He could not move or speak. The larger creature crawled up on top of him. It gently placed it’s moist hand on Steve’s forehead. Steve began to tremble violently…suddenly, he coughed up a large amount of blood, and his body went limp. Neighbors didn’t hear a sound. Not one whimper.

Outside again, they stood in the back yard. “We will ssspeak to the commander. Hail him now.” They both closed their eyes and waited for a moment. A voice began to speak to them in their heads. “Is it finished?” “Nooo. No, he is too strong. His emotions get in our waaay. He is killed now. But, we cannot come to them dirrrectly, no. They have three very powerful ones with them, and two others whooo are quite strong, you see?” The voice came back angrily. “She must die!! She cannot be here to change our future, you see? If she comes to Antar, it will come to pass! As the prrrophecy says, she will be ruler, and she will destroy usss, you see?” The smaller one spoke. “What about our secret, I wonder? Is it made so we cannn look like humans? Much easier, it would be to get close to them. Easier to get closer toooo them. And more of us. Three or four of us is good, you know?” The voice came back. “Yes, we will send threeee more, and you can all beeee as humans, good then. But not for…about one human year. You mmmay return until thennn, or stay. You will choose, good? Yes. You choose.” The two creatures shivered with excitement. “Yess, we will return…please. We are hungry, you see? Nothing to eattt here, no. Nothing.” “Good, then. You will be sent to us. Before the morning you wwwill be with us.”

This part contains kinda heavy R light NC-17

Chapter 14

Kyle stood in the kitchen, staring blankly at the two eggs that were frying in the pan. “Is hard-yoked okay?” I sat on the couch watching random television. “Sure.” Kyle stepped out from the kitchen. “Because I kind of broke the yolk, and it’s…” I looked at him and smiled. “I like hard-yoked. That’s fine.” He smiled and turned back into the kitchen. Opening the oven, he pulled out a plate with some bacon on it. I heard him sigh. “I’m sorry, I forgot to turn the oven on warm. The bacon is cold.” “That’s okay.” I yelled from the living room. “I’ll nuke it.” he replied. We sat at the table and ate breakfast together. It was still pretty early, so Katie was asleep. She doesn’t usually wake up until 8:00 AM or so. A timid knock came on the door. I got up silently to answer it. There was not much small talk going on lately. I looked through the peephole to see Alex’s face. He looked fairly calm. That was a bit unusual, considering the things that had transpired within the past couple of days. I opened the door and let him in. “Hey, good morning. What’s up, Alex?” He glanced at Kyle. “Hey Kyle.” He turned to me. “Look, I know this will sound weird, but I had a dream last night. A very real dream, in which this Steve guy died…or he was killed actually.” I looked at him with wide eyes. “Killed?” “Yes. It seemed to be almost like a memory rather than a dream, so I looked in the obituaries today. Liz, a guy named Steve Malloy was found dead in his bed two days ago. Well, the paper said he died of unspecified natural causes, but in my dream, he was killed by…two small creatures.” He pulled out a small piece of folded light-gray paper from his pocket. “This is a picture of Steve Malloy from the newspaper.” He handed the paper to me. I looked at it. “Alex, this is him.” I suddenly felt a pity for the man. My mind started theorizing immediately. It seemed very likely now, that this man was being used by these creatures, and then was killed by them for some reason or another. He probably wasn’t crazy at all. “He talked kind of funny, like he was always unsure of what to say. Alex, do you think that these creatures were using him to get to me? And if so, why did they kill him?” Alex kept a straight calm face. “I don’t know, Liz. If they were using him, and they did kill him, that means one of two things: They are scared of you or all of us for some reason, because they are obviously not afraid to kill a human, but they are afraid to confront us themselves. Or, they are not afraid of us, but they are being very very careful about how they’re doing this. Either way, it means we have time. They are not going to rush into their next plan without taking some time to plan it.” Kyle got up from the table and threw in his two cents. “So, what good does time do us? Whether its tomorrow or a year from now, they still want to kill Katie, and probably all of us!” “Nobody is going to die.” Alex replied. “Have you talked to Serena about this?” I asked. “No. I got up this morning and found a note saying she would be back soon. I didn’t feel like waiting around, so I came over here.” Katie woke up and wandered out about that time. We stopped the conversation. I try to keep her as unaware of the danger as I can. Little kids can usually pick up on those things. If your’re talking in a worried voice, they get upset. “Hi, honey. What you doing up? Did we wake you up?” She rubbed her eyes. “Ya.” “Oh, I’m sorry baby. Come here.” I picked her up. “Kyle will make you some breakfast. What do you want?” “Cereal.” she said in a scratchy voice. Kyle was already in the kitchen getting her a bowl of cereal. I sat her on the booster-chair and Kyle put her bowl in front of her. She began picking the marshmallows out of the cereal and eating them. “Can we go to the park?” “Maybe later honey.”

Later that night, we all sat around the living room, wondering what Serena had to tell us. She had called me earlier that day and told me to have everybody meet at our house at 7:30 PM. She sounded anxious. The ironic thing was, she was the only one who hadn’t arrived yet. “Did she say that she would be here at 7:30 too?” Kyle said as he sat with his knee bouncing up and down rapidly. “Will you stop moving your knee like that, please?” I asked as nicely as I could. He looked down and noticed his knee, and he stopped. “Sorry, it’s just that we don’t even know where she is, and with everything that’s been happening, I’m just not in a real easy-going mood.” he said as his knee started bouncing again. I sighed, and decided not to point out his knee again. Alex stood up and started to pace, as if he just couldn’t decide where to sit back down. He looked at me. “So, she didn’t say where she was, what she was doing, or when she would be here?” “Well, technically, she told me when all of us should be here…I guess I just assumed that she would be here at the same time. But she left you a note, and she gave me a call, so why wouldn’t she call again to tell us if she was going to be late?” Shawn got up and went into the kitchen to help himself to a sandwich. “Ava, do you want a sandwich or something?” he yelled. “Oh, do they have any cold pizza?” There was the sound of bowls, bottles, and boxes being moved around…then a silence. “Liz?” he yelled, with a muffled voice. His head must have been actually in the fridge. “Yeah?” “Are any of these foil-wrapped things cold pizza?” I thought for a moment. “Yeah, that one next to the white plastic bowl.” “Damn it! I moved the white plastic bowl. I don’t remember where I moved it from!” Kyle looked towards the kitchen. “Top rack, towards the back, to the left.” Some more noise. “Got it.” Shawn came back with his sandwich (which he had already eaten half of) and Ava’s cold pizza (which he had taken a bite of).
The night passed on, and I decided that I was sick of cartoons, and Katie was going to bed. She whined a little, but she was more tired than she thought. She passed out rather quickly. “Does anybody want to play a game?” Shawn asked, trying to sound happy. “No.” Ava said, almost before he had finished asking the question. “God, where the hell is she? It’s almost ten o’clock. I need some fresh air.” She stood up and went to the front door. “I’ll join you.” I said, and got up to follow her. I grabbed the cordless phone on my way out. We stepped outside and closed the door. Ava sat on the porch swing, and I sat down next to her. There was a gentle, but chilly breeze pushing the light rain to the side a little. Every now and then, some lightning way off in the distance would light up the rain drops like a million pieces of glass, falling from the sky. A barely audible thunder would follow. This was quite relaxing; a nice way to ease my stress. One thing about Seattle that I’ve learned to love, is the rain. “You know, when we have a chance to stop worrying for more than a week or so, we’re going to go have some fun. Me, you, and Serena. We’re going to go out, and doing what normal 21 year old girls do.” Ava said as she looked straight ahead into the dark. “What do have in mind?” She leaned forward. “Oh, I don’t care, go shopping, go club hopping, get matching tattoos, pierce something…you know, basically give the finger to everything that represents responsibility.” “Alright, sounds fun. We’ll go shopping for a ‘clubbing’ outfit, stop at a tattoo and piercing place on our way to the club, and not even have a specific time to get home.” “Hey, can we take Kyle’s mustang, put the top down, and go like 90 mph, everywhere we go?” “You bet…all except for the 90 mph. I don’t want to die yet.” She sat back with a giggle. “Oh, you’re no fun. How can you enjoy life, unless you don’t give a fuck about it?” I laughed. “Wow. It feels good to laugh.” I smiled at her, as if to thank her for making me smile. We let the quiet envelope us for a while. Nothing to ease your pain like the sound of rain, a breeze on your face, the quiet creak of a porch swing, and a friend beside you. It was a strange thing to become best friends with someone who looked so much like the single most evil person I know.

When you’re relaxed, you tend to just let your mind wander. I don’t even really remember all the different little things that floated carelessly through my head. I closed my eyes, and I was suddenly 17, laying on my bed, listening to a compilation of melancholy love songs that Alex had burned for me. My parents had been out of town on a second honeymoon for the whole week, but would be home in the morning. I thought I heard a tap on my window. I looked up and saw Max peering through the window. Sluggishly, I got up and went to the window. I didn’t open it. “What?” I said through the glass. “Liz, I need to talk to you.” I gave him a sarcastic look. “You always need to talk to me. Oh. I’ll bet you’re here to apologize for being an asshole. Am I right?” His face didn’t change. I actually started to worry. My comments that would usually cut him to the heart, didn’t even make him flinch. He had something else…something big on his mind. “Can I please come in?” he asked. He didn’t even sound mean back to me. I rolled my eyes and opened the window. He stepped in and started walking around the room, trying to build up the courage to say something. “Liz, I’m…going to have to…” I sat down on the bed and just listened. He seemed genuinely concerned about something, and I figured he didn’t need any more remarks from me. “Liz, I don’t know how to say this. I…I guess I’ll just start with the only thing that is running through my head. I love you. I know you’re mad at me, you’ve seen me with Tess, and I’m sorry. But, I love you. I love you more than anyone has ever loved anything or anybody.” He came over and kneeled in front of me and grabbed my hands in his. “Max, I…” “Please, let me finish. I’m so sorry I screwed up. I’m so sorry for the way I’ve treated you the past few weeks. I’ve messed up and hurt the most precious girl in the world.” His eyes looked like they were filling with tears. My heart started beating fast. I began to feel his regret and my eyes started to water. “I love you so much. Please, forgive me. I know I don’t deserve it, but this is killing me to know how I’ve hurt you. I just need to know that you’re okay. I don’t want you to ever be sad about anything. No matter what happens to me, or anybody else, I want you to always be happy. To know that you are feeling good, is what makes me happy.” He put his head down as if he didn’t know what else to say. He squeezed my hands gently. I let go of his hands, and put my hands behind his head. He looked up at me. I pulled his head into my stomach and rubbed his back. “I love you too.” I whispered. His arms were wrapped around me. He lifted his head up, and gazed at me. A single tear fell down his cheek. I wiped it away with my thumb and left my hand on the side of his face. I leaned down to kiss him and my hair slid down both sides of his face. Our lips met with hesitation, as if to see how it felt first. I started to lean back to pull away, but he leaned forward. Our kissing turned passionate. His hands rubbed up my back and through my hair, caressing the back of my neck. As we kissed, I moved closer to the edge of the bed, spreading my legs to let him get closer to me. As I did, his hands went immediately down to the bottom of my back, playing with the waistband of my pants, and pulling my pelvis up against his stomach. My breathing became very audible and shaky. He moved his hands up the back of my shirt, feeling for my bra strap. He unclasped it, and moved both hands up to my shoulders, sliding the straps down. My shirt had inched its way up to just under my breasts. One hand came around the front to reach in between my cleavage and take my bra off, throwing it to the floor. Both hands were in front now, and he reached under my shirt, gently caressing my breasts as his hands passed them, moving up to lift my shirt over my head. We of course had to stop kissing for a moment, which was frustrating. It only made it more exciting when our lips met again. But first, I immediately reached down, grabbed the bottom of his T-shirt, and pulled it off. He stood up and leaned moved forward, forcing me to lay back on the bed, which he quickly got on himself. Holding his body just a few inches above mine, he looked into my eyes. I looked back into his eyes, and my face was telling him to please continue. He lowered himself down onto me, and we began kissing more passionately than ever. He sat up, kneeling over me, and quickly undid my jeans. I opened my legs so he could kneel between them. He bent down and kissed my stomach and breasts. Sitting up again, he grabbed my pants and underwear, and slid them both down my legs, and off. I was completely naked with Max half naked on top of me. I had to make it equal. I reached up to undo his pants, and pulled his pants and boxers down to his knees. Wow. He was ready. He took them the rest of the way off, and came back down on top of me. Hands, lips and tongues went everywhere. I could feel him almost entering me several times, and then pulling his pelvis away. He looked at me. “Are you sure?” he asked. I looked up at him. “Yes.” I said, almost with no hesitation. He began kissing my neck and he entered me. I cried out in a groan of pain and pleasure. I don’t know how long it went on, but it was absolute rapture. When we finished, he pulled me close and I laid my head on his chest. “You never slept with Kyle, did you?” he whispered. “No…I didn’t. I’m sorry I made you think that.”
The sound of the phone ringing brought me back to reality. I immediately picked it up. “Hello?” “Yeah, Liz? It’s Serena.” I sighed. “Serena, where the hell are you? Everybody here is worried to the point of absurdity.” “I’m sorry, but my plane was delayed…or actually, I missed my flight.” “Flight?!! Where the hell ARE you?” She hesitated. “I’m in Roswell, Liz. I’ll be home in the afternoon tomorrow, and I promise I’ll explain everything.”

Chapter 15

She hung up and I turned to Ava. “She’s in Roswell.” “Roswell?!” she gasped. “Fucking Roswell.” I replied. “Why? What the hell is she doing there?” I stood up. “I don’t know. She didn’t say. She’ll be home tomorrow afternoon…so she says.” Ava let out a frustrated sigh. “Let me guess. She didn’t really say what time exactly.” “Nope.” She rolled her eyes. “Let’s just not be here when she gets here. We’ll leave her a note saying to meet us at no place in particular, in a little while.” We went back inside and explained what we did know to everybody else. “Alex, you’re welcome to stay here if you want…so you’re not alone.” He nodded. Shawn and Ava left, and me, Kyle, and Alex all fell asleep in the living room. We were exhausted simply from worrying all day. Alex passed out in the recliner, Kyle was on the couch so I laid down on the love seat. My mind began to wander to Max again. God why am I thinking about him all of the sudden. He’s been gone for how long now and I haven’t thought about him but maybe on Katie’s birthday or something. After I found out he left I decided I would not let myself think about him or pine away, I would move forward with my life and make the best of it. I kinda regret sleeping with him but I don’t regret having Katie. She’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. She makes me so happy every time I look at her.

I woke up to my daughter shaking me, asking if she could watch cartoons and have some popcorn. “Honey, if you want to watch cartoons, just watch them. You know how to turn on the T.V.” She shook her head. “Uncle Daddy has the remote.” How sad. My child doesn’t know how to work the television without a remote. I looked over and saw the tip of the remote sticking out from under Kyle’s butt. “I’ll get the remote, honey. And no, you may not have popcorn for breakfast. Do you want some cereal?” “Popcorn.” she said. “No, you don’t eat popcorn for breakfast.” She stared blankly at me. “Can I have it for lunch?” I smiled at her cute persistence. “Sure.” She smiled. “Can I have lunch now?” After going back and forth for a while, she settled for some cereal, with no milk, which she ate with her hands like popcorn. Eh. To each his own. I watched her gaze at the cartoons for a while. What a strange kid. She always laughs at the wrong parts, like she’s trying to force herself to have a good time. Or, maybe she honestly thinks it’s really funny when Bugs Bunny eats a carrot. Uh oh. As soon as I hear the theme song for Dora the Explorer, it’s time to shut it off and take a bath. God, that show must be some of the regular programming in Hell. I clicked the TV off and took her in the bathroom to get myself ready and give her a bath, where she babbled incessantly. “Mommy, I had a bad dream.” A bit of panic struck me for a moment. ‘Please don’t say it was about small dark creatures.’ I thought to myself. “What was it about, baby?” She fiddled in the water with a small, blue, plastic starfish. Then she stopped. “A man made you bleed, mommy.” I tried to sound totally not worried. “Oh, he did, did he? How did he do that?” She looked up at me. “He put his hand on your tummy and it was bleeding. You were laying on the floor.” She giggled a little. “You had a funny dress on. It was green and shiny.” Oh my god. “Well, it was just a dream. Nobody will hurt me.” It was Max. It had to be. She had a dream about a man putting his hand on my bleeding stomach, and I had a green shiny dress…I was laying on the floor. She had to have seen Max healing me, and misinterpreted it. But how? Why? Did someone put that in her head, or was it just inside her. She is part alien. Who knows what her gifts are? After she was all ready for the day, I packed lunch, with some popcorn, and took her to the park. Kyle and Alex were still passed out. I just let them sleep.

When we got to the park it was about 10:30. Katie ran straight for the slide then to the merry go round where she insisted I push her for about 10 minutes. She bounced back and forth between all the park equipment until it was time for lunch. I swear she could play here all day and never get board. We ate lunch and then fed the extra popcorn to the ducks. By the time we left it was close to 1:00. Hopefully Serna would be home pretty quick. My goal was to let Katie wear herself out so she would take a good nap when Serena got home.

When we got home, Alex and Kyle were up, and Ava and Shawn were there. “Serena just called and said she was here in Seattle at the airport. She caught a cab, and should be half way here by now.” Ava said as we walked in. “Okay. I’m gonna put Katie down for a nap.” I picked her up and took her to her room. She didn’t argue. She had pretty much drained all of her energy. I don’t know how fast she fell asleep, but I never heard a sound from her room. We didn’t talk much as we waited for Serena to get there. I think Kyle even fell back asleep…hard to tell. He hasn’t moved. It looked like he hadn’t moved since he woke up. Just opened his eyes and decided he was comfy. Typical. As soon as Serena walked in, she started talking before we could start bitching. Either she didn’t have time to hear it, or she just didn’t want to. “Okay. This is what Larek had to say.” she said casually. We were all suddenly a little more attentive. “Wait. The only time I’ve heard the name Larek was when that crazy guy, Brody, held us hostage at the UFO center, and he kept claiming his name was Larek…is that who you’re talking about?” Shawn asked, looking a little confused. Serena looked at him with impatience. “Yes. Larek is someone from one of the planets in the V constellation who sometimes uses Brody’s body to communicate to us, and no, Brody doesn’t have a clue about it. He just blanks out for that period of time, and thinks he’s been abducted or something. Any other questions, or may I continue?” “By all means.” he said, now looking annoyed and confused. “Since Brody doesn’t know me, because I’ve only talked to him as Larek, I snuck into his house while he was sleeping and contacted Larek through him. That way there wouldn’t be a strange block of time that he couldn’t remember. It would just seem that he couldn’t remember what he dreamt.” She went on to explain that she talked to him as long as Larek could hold on to the unprepared body, and they set up an actual meeting, in which Larek could prepare the body and talk for an extended period of time. “So, when you were able to talk to him for a good amount of time, what did he say?” I asked. I was starting to feel a little hope. She had talked to someone who was important and powerful on another planet. Surely he would have some answers or be able to help us. She continued. “By the time we met for the second time, he had combed through every resource that he had, and he was able to get some information on who these creatures were. They are from a planet called Shandsayun. It’s a small planet. The name of their race is called Shandsues, by most races. Some call them Shandso. Just the fact that they were here was enough to alarm Larek. Being a very secluded race that keeps to themselves, it has to be something of great benefit or threat to their race, that would bring them here.” Kyle cut in. “Wait, wait, wait. So you’re saying that the reason they are after us is because, for some reason, killing Katie would either benefit them, or end a threat to their race?” “We don’t know. That’s just the first and only conclusion we’ve come to, so far. For whatever reason they’re here, it is something that is very important to them and involves them directly. They would never do something like this as a favor to someone else. They deal with their own interests, and that’s it. Now, that brings me to one last point. The only other thing he could tell me about them is this: Aside from their technology, which they only use when absolutely necessary, they are a very primitive and religious race. The entire planet lives by this ancient religion. They eat, sleep, and breathe it. They follow it to the T, and it’s never questioned. Everything they do, has to do with this religion. Not much is known about the religion itself, or even what it’s called, but many believe that it is why they stay out of communication with other races as much as they can. It’s believed that their religion has no laws against technology, but it has very specific laws about staying away from other races. If they can help it, they won’t deal with anybody else. If you seem to be a threat to them or their religion, they will deal with you before you even knew they had a problem with you. We just happen to be a little stronger and smarter than they thought we would be.” We all sat there, amazed. This was a lot bigger than any of us had imagined. These creatures, these Shandsues, were not just some race that had a passion for hunting other races, or simply liked to kill. The reason for their hunt was deep…possibly religious. They were doing something that they believed would profit, or protect their race. “Shit.” Shawn muttered. “Shit.” he managed to say again. Serena took a breath and continued. “Liz. He had a couple of other things to say.” I looked up at her. I knew it was going to be about Max, and maybe everyone else. “I asked him not to say anything about this to Max or anybody else. He said that it wouldn’t be a problem. He has no idea where Max or any of them are. Nobody does. There was a huge battle when they returned to Antar. Max and those who followed him eventually defeated Khivar, and took back control of Antar. A couple of weeks ago, Max appointed an advisor of his to take charge, and in secret, he and the others disappeared. All of them. Max, Michael, Isabel, Maria…” She stopped. The room was silent for a moment. I stared at her, waiting for her to continue. “And Tess?” I asked. “Her? She’s dead.” I just stared again, as did everyone else. “Holy shit! How…when did she…so, everybody is gone?” I blurted out. “Well, to answer your first two questions, she died in the battle that ensued when they got back, not more than a few months after they returned. The baby died before they even got back to Antar. And yes, the rest of them apparently left the planet or something, a couple of weeks ago. Nobody knows exactly where they went or why.” She took another big breath and seemed to relax a little, as if she had just gotten a 500 lb load off of her chest. “Okay, that’s all I know.” I sat there in total shock. This was a hell of a lot to take in. Tess, dead. Max and company, gone to who knows where. Holy shit! What the hell is happening to my life? Could it get any more un-normal? Serena spoke up again. “If it helps you any, Larek is looking further into this. He’s going to try and contact the Shandsues and try to find out exactly why they’re after Katie. He doesn’t expect much luck there, though. Like I said, they don’t deal with people unless it’s absolutely necessary. But, he is going to come here to Seattle, in a few weeks, and tell us everything he was able to find out in that time.” I leaned back on the couch and closed my eyes. Kyle put his arm around me and kissed my forehead. I sighed. “Tell me my life is going to be normal someday.”

Chapter 16 (revised)

Okay, I want a normal life, but right now I’d settle for a calm one. The name of the restaurant is The Underground…kind of symbolic of how I am, hidden, laying low. But right now, it is anything but hidden and laying low. Our opening night was busy as all get out, which was good, but I was a little overwhelmed. It’s been about two months since Serena came back with tidings from Larek. Kyle and me have had plenty to keep us busy, training all the cooks and wait staff, coming up with a menu, finding a good bartender…a lot of work. And now it had turned to chaos. But, overall, I was pleased. This was an awesome opening night! I guess all the work on the atmosphere had paid off. The place had a cool feel to it. Above the 35 ft. long bar, we had a couple of thin black railings. On these railings stood some small, thin pieces of metal that were cut into the shapes of men. These little metal men were bent into different positions and each were holding a small bare light bulb. Pretty cool idea, I thought. Behind the bar was a long mirror, 35 ft. to be exact. All the alcohol was set on a wooden back counter, in front of the mirror. The mural on the opposite wall turned out pretty awesome. A local artist named Chad Jordan did it for really cheap.

We were absolutely packed. I turned to Kyle who was frantically trying to keep the kitchen in order. I was taking a break from my backbreaking job of seating people. “Boy, if business keeps up like this, we’ll be out of the red in no time.” “Yeah. This is…interesting.” He said, not even looking up. Poor guy. I suppose I could take a little time to help him. I stepped back into the kitchen. “I’m sorry, what can I do to help?” I asked. “Uhh…go see if the shrimp appetizer is burnt yet. If it is, toss it and start the next attempt. If not, it goes to table #11.” The night went on pretty steady. After it slowed down a little, I went back up front to help seat people. I liked meeting my customers, or at least saying hello. I was crossing off some names on the seating list when I heard the door open. Without looking up, I asked, “How many?” “Just one, but I’m not here to eat. I need to talk to you.” I looked up to see Brody standing there with a smile on his face, but I was pretty sure that it was Larek smiling at me. Had to make absolutely sure though. “Brody?” I asked. “Nope.” he replied, still smiling. “Thought so. You know what, we’re kind of busy right now, can you wait a little bit?” His smile left. “Actually, no. I would but I don’t like “being here” any longer than necessary. It’s a little hard on Brody, if you follow me.” I left the seating to the normal hostess and led him upstairs to a small office. Once we were inside, I closed the door, sat down, and listened. He had a seat in front of me and began.

“I’m sorry that I took so long. I’ll try to explain this as quickly as I can. It took me a while to locate one of the leaders of the Shandsues.” My eyes widened and I interrupted. “You went to meet with them on their planet?!” He shifted in his seat. “No, I didn’t meet with them. I was spending weeks searching the minds of their people. Please don’t interrupt again. Once I found the mind of one of their higher ‘priests’, I began to cautiously search his memory. As it turns out, they have a prophecy…an old prophecy. All I know is that it is probably the most important or most feared prophecy in all of their ancient books. The prophecy says that the first born child of the one who brings peace to the five planets in the V constellation, will one day take the throne of Antar, and will make a decision that will mean the end of their planet and race and religion. They believe that Katie will one day take the throne of Antar and that her reign will mean the destruction of their planet.” He sat back in his chair and looked at me. “Okay…but, I’m not gonna go to Antar, and I’ll be damned if Katie ever does!” I said, beginning to feel even more frustrated. “So I’m being chased by some freaked out religious alien race, so that they can kill my daughter before she does something that she’s never really gonna do?!” He frowned at me and leaned forward again. “That’s about it in a nutshell. Now, it may interest you to know that there were only two of them here on Earth, and they’re gone now.” My heart lifted. “They’re gone? Did they figure out that they were wrong? Are they done?” “I don’t think so. They appeared to be formulating another way of getting to you that wouldn’t be as obvious or as hard. They were mentally controlling a man named Steve Malloy, but there was a problem. He would hesitate too much and he was hard to control. Unfortunately, I don’t know what they’re planning. It’s probably some way of getting to you more directly, and at the same time, more discreetly. I didn’t seem to be able to sense that they would be coming here anytime soon. I’ll let you know if and when I find out any thing else. I have to go.” With that, he got up to leave. “Wait!” I stood up. “Max and…everybody, are they…do you know if they’re here? Are they back?” He turned around to face me. “I honestly don’t know.” He hesitated. “But I don’t know where else they would go.” He disappeared out of the doorway and down the stairs.

As the months went by, the Underground got popular. We were doing well, and had already paid off all of our loan in only 8 months! That’s what they call being in the black. Being in the red is when most of your profit goes towards paying off loans and such. Alex and Shawn began working there with me and Kyle. I let a few people go to make room for them. Hehe. Ava and Serena are working at a clothing store. As of yet, they have turned down my offer to hire them. We’ve all been getting progressively nervous, not knowing exactly when the Shandso were going to return. We have of course been fine tuning our powers and trying to think of smart ways to stay ready. Katie hasn’t really shown any signs of having powers as of yet, aside from the fact that she is extremely smart. She has had some dreams about the Shandso, but I’ve told her they were just bad dreams…I don’t think she believes me. See? Smart. There is something about her. She just always seems to be one step ahead of the game, psychologically anyway. She always seems to know more than she lets on. I would say she has the vocabulary of a six year old, and the intellect of an eight year old. She’ll be four in two months.

It was late September. I was standing behind the bar, doing the books. Shawn sat at the bar facing me, sipping a Long Island Iced Tea. We had closed early that night and Kyle, Alex, Serena, and Ava had taken Katie to a carnival that was in town. She had seen it as we drove by it the day before and wouldn’t let it go. Besides, it was her first carnival. I just wish I could’ve gone with her. Shawn stared at his drink for a moment and then opened his mouth as if to say something, then looked back down at the drink. This went on for about two minutes. “What?” I asked. “Huh? Oh. Umm. Can I ask your advice on something?” “Sure. What?” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small white box. He opened it to reveal a beautiful one-karat princess-cut diamond ring. “Gee Shawn, I’m flattered, but I don’t think that Kyle and Ava would come to the wedding.” He laughed and cleared his throat. “How should I ask her? I mean, Ava is kind of a strange person. I don’t know what she would think was corny or what she would think was romantic. Plus, I’ve never asked anyone to marry me before.” I took another look at the ring. “I think she would be too overwhelmed with that ring. You better give it to me and get her something cheaper.” “I’m serious! What do I say? Where do I say it?” “Well, you know her better than I do. She seems to like you, so I’m sure whatever you say will be fine. Just make her feel really extra special right before you ask her. I’m so happy for you! I can’t believe you’re actually going to ask her! She’s gonna flip.” He smiled and put the box back in his pocket. “What about you and Kyle? Do you think he’ll ask you someday?” I didn’t answer right away and went back to doing the books. “Liz?” “Yeah.” “You okay?” I stopped. “You know, I think we’re actually growing apart. I don’t know what’s happening, but I don’t think it will ever get to that. I think that what we had was good, and I think we needed each other at the time, but I think that time is coming to an end. We’re not getting mad at each other, I mean we’re still getting along. I just think that our relationship is…” My voice trailed off and I continued with the books. “Oh. Wow, I didn’t realize.” Shawn said quietly. “Don’t say anything okay?” “Oh I won’t. You know I wouldn’t.” He got up and headed for the bathroom. “Boy, those Long Island Iced Teas go right through you.” He disappeared down the hallway to the bathroom and the room was very quiet.

The bells above the door rang as it opened. I forgot to lock the door, but the closed sign was in the window and the lights were all dimmed. I didn’t look up from the books. “We’re closed.” Ahem. Someone cleared their throat. “I said we’re closed!” I said a little more irritated as I looked up. Max was standing just inside the door with Michael, Isabel, and Maria standing next to him and behind him. “Get out.” I said coldly, and quietly. I went right back to doing the books. “Liz, we need to talk.” Max said as he stepped forward a little. “I said get the FUCK out!” A flushing noise came from down the hallway and Shawn came out. He quickly noticed the current situation. “Oh shit.” he said, almost to himself. He glanced nervously at me. Max was standing a few feet closer to me than everyone else. I picked up the nearest shot glass and hurled it at his head. He ducked and it shattered against the mural on the opposite wall. “Liz, I’m serious.” “So am I!” I walked out from behind the bar and got up in his face. “Get the FUCK out of my restaurant, and take your friends with you!!” I began to try to push him towards the door, but he wouldn’t move. Oh yeah. He works out. I screamed in frustration. “Leave!” Without meaning to do it, the half full glass of Shawn’s drink exploded, and the pieces flew unnaturally far across the room. “Now look what you made me do!!” Max’s eyes went thin. I smiled at him, more of a smirk. “I have powers, you know. I have lots of things you don’t know about. And, I’d rather keep them to myself, so would you please leave?” Maria stepped forward a little. “Liz, listen to me…” I interrupted her. “You know what Maria, why don’t you just leave me a note on the bar and I’ll read it tomorrow. Seems to be how you communicate when its too “weird” of a situation to talk about.” “I thought it was the best thing to do. We all did.” I rolled my eyes as if to say how pathetic of an excuse that was. Just then, as if things weren’t awkward enough, the sound of the back door opening and the pitter-patter of Katie’s little feet, came down the hall. A three-foot-tall giant stuffed panda bear came waddling into the dining area, followed by Serena and Ava. Serena and Ava froze in silence. Katie was of course oblivious and walked right up to me. She set the panda bear down and peeked out from behind it. “Momma! Look what Uncle Daddy got me at the carnibal!” Max took a step back and his face went pale. I turned to my daughter. “Wow! What is it baby? It’s bigger than you!” She smiled and giggled. I saw Maria stare as it started to dawn on her that this was my daughter. “Uncle Daddy got a ring to land on a bottle three times…I think he was cheating. The ugly guy gave us this. It’s a panda bear and his name is Joe.” “That was very nice of Kyle, wasn’t it?” “Yeah.” She squeaked. Suddenly she noticed the people standing there next to me. Her eyes met Max’s eyes. I could see the look on his face. He knew this wasn’t some other guy’s baby. He was looking at his daughter. By this time, Isabel, Maria, and Michael all knew this was Max’s child. Her face was undeniably like his. The eyes. The expressions. Katie began to tremble and inch closer to me. “Mommy, he’ll make your stomach bleed. Let’s go.” She whispered very loudly. I looked at Max and he glanced at me. “No honey. He won’t ever hurt mommy. Never. He’s just leaving.” The back door swung open so fast that it made a cracking sound as it hit the wall of the hallway. Kyle and Alex came running up the hallway. They stopped for a moment, shocked, and then looked at me. Alex spoke as he caught his breath. “We need to leave. Now! They’re back. They’re coming and there are more of them, I can feel it.” Alex looked at Max and gave a strange expression that I did not understand. “I don’t have time to explain anything right now. We have to go!” Katie began to get hysterical. She clung to my leg and began screaming and crying. “Momma, the dark people are coming! I don’t wanna die! Don’t let them get me!” I picked her up and started running toward the back door. Shawn, Kyle, Alex, Ava, and Serena, followed me down the hallway and out the back door. Kyle, Alex, and Serena all jumped into Kyle’s car. Kyle hollered out. “Meet at your house!” They pulled away. I put Katie in her car seat and got in the car. Another car came into the back alley from the street and flew at a dangerous speed, catching up with Shawn and Ava who were just pulling out onto the street on the opposite end of the alley. I started my car as the car sped past me. I glanced up. It was Michael, Isabel, and Maria. Where’s Max? Just then the back door burst open and Max came running out. He got to my car, opened the door, and sat down next to me. I hit the gas pedal and sped off down the alley. He turned to me. “I’m coming with you.”

Chapter 17 (revised)

“You just walk into my life all of the sudden, and think I’ll be your friend?” I screamed. I wanted to punch him. I did. My arm flung wildly and happened to hit him in the ear…twice. “Ouch!! What’s the matter with you?” he growled. “I’ll tell you what’s the matter! And I’ll do it quick, ‘cause we’ll be at my house in about five minutes and you’ll get a longer explanation there. Katie, plug your ears.” Katie put her palms flat against the sides of her head, closed her eyes, and began to sing, “La la la la, la la la la…” My voice rose above hers. “First, you came to my house and fucked me. Then you left, along with all of my friends, without a word. Then, I met Serena and Ava, who brought Alex with them. You actually succeeded in healing Alex.” Max’s face was rigid. “What are you talking about?” he asked. I took a breath to cool the anger in me over what I was about to say. “Tess mind-warped you. She made you think it didn’t work. You guys left, and she knew he would die again without immediate attention and further healing. Luckily, Serena had followed Alex to Roswell and was watching him. She knew something wasn’t right.” Max cut in. “Are we almost to your house?” Oh, I was fuming. “Are you listening to me?! She killed him!! Tess killed Alex!!” Max’s face turned toward the window. “You know this, for sure?” he muttered. “Just talk to Serena. She’s the one who figured it out, her and Ava. They are the ones who healed him the rest of the way. I’m just sorry she’s dead, because I wanted to kill her myself if I ever got the chance.” Max didn’t interrupt after that. I continued. “I found out I was pregnant, and I had to get out of Roswell. Me, Kyle, and Shawn were all ready to leave when Ava and Serena showed up with Alex. We’ve just stuck together ever since. Oh, and about the dark people…some alien race called the Shandsayun thinks that my daughter is destined to overtake them someday, according to a religious prophecy, and they are intent on killing her, and probably the rest of us. So, that pretty much brings us to now, give or take a few million other things that have happened. Well, we’re here.” I couldn’t help but enjoy throwing all of this at him at once. I wanted him to feel as horrible as humanly possible, for as long as possible.

I got out of the car, and Kyle was already running out to help get Katie out of the car and bring her inside. We went inside and I glanced back to see Max getting out of the car, slowly, and he came towards the door. I slammed it behind me. A moment later Max came in. Everyone else was there. Everyone. The room was tense. Alex and Serena were holding hands on the couch. Shawn and Ava were sitting on the floor by the couch, his arm around her. Isabel, Michael, and Maria were standing against the wall, on the opposite side of the room, observing everyone. Kyle took Katie to her room and told her to play with her toys for a while. When he returned to the living room, I gave him a kiss, and hugged him. Yes, partly it was to show Max that I clearly didn’t need him, and partly because I needed Kyle. At least for the moment, I felt drawn to Kyle again. Isabel looked nervously at me, and then spoke. “Liz, why don’t I keep an eye on Katie while you guys talk?” I glared at her. “That’s alright, I think you should be in here.” I said. The conversation that followed was long and loud and tiresome, so I will review the more important parts of it.

“Wow, so Tess killed Alex. I can’t believe she would have done that!” Maria had been babbling for about ten minutes straight about Alex and Tess and the whole deal. Isabel seemed standoffish, like she wanted to hug him, but was so shocked and didn’t know what to think or how to feel. Alex’s face was almost expressionless. If he was feeling anything inside, he didn’t show it. Maria had stopped talking, so we started what needed to be started. Max spoke up. “Look, I know there is a lot to talk about. There is a lot of tension here, obviously, but there is also something more important than all of our problems between each other.” I clenched my jaw. “The only problem here is that you’re here. Yes, we have problems and concerns, but they are our own. We don’t need any of your help.” I looked slowly across the room at Isabel, Maria, Michael, and Max. “Any of you. You are not a part of my life anymore.” Anger was taking over and talking for me. I started to say things I wasn’t sure if I really meant. But I just let it fly. I thought I was over it all, that I had forgotten about it and put it behind me. Turns out it was just brewing beneath the surface all these years, waiting to be poured out on those who deserved to hear it. Maria started to open her mouth. “Maria, you’ve already said all I will ever need to hear from you. You said goodbye, well so did I. Sorry, I didn’t know your address or I would’ve sent a letter like you so thoughtfully did.” Max interjected. “Liz, I know this is hard, but the fact is you do need our help, and we are a part of your life! That’s my daughter in there, and her life is in danger!!” My face flushed red. “Excuse me? Your daughter? Are you implying that you are somehow her father? No Max, I’d say you qualify as nothing more than a sperm donor! Kyle has been her father! You are very much NOT a part of her life, and you don’t deserve to be!” I began to cry in anger. “She is the sweetest most beautiful child that ever existed, and she deserves better than you! She needs more than you could ever give her! What are you going to do? Kiss her and tell her you love her, and then disappear for a few years or maybe forever? She doesn’t need a father who has to make emergency trips to other planets because he got some alien bitch pregnant!” My tears turned back into pure anger. “How could you just come to me the night before you left, and tell me you love me? Was it just what you needed to say to get a good fuck before you took off? Anything to finally get in my pants? FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU MAX!” I found myself lunging at him, but Kyle grabbed me. I wanted him to feel physically what I had felt emotionally. But I couldn’t do that because it would involve ripping his heart out of his chest. I let out a scream as Kyle held me back that sounded like a woman giving her last effort to birth a child. And then suddenly, it was gone. Don’t get me wrong, I was still angry. I just felt like I had been carrying a 500 lb weight around for years, and I just through it on Max’s head. I was finally relieved of the anger brewing inside me. Like I said, it was still on the outside. I was still angry, but I felt so much better…and at the same time, uneasy. And just like that, I stopped talking. Kyle sat down and pulled me onto his lap. I laid my head on him as if to take a nap.

Max’s head hung down. He knew that I was carrying that around since he left and he was beginning to see how much it had hurt me. Maria stood silent, unsure of what to say. Michael and Isabel were stunned at my outburst, but said nothing. They didn’t want to be on the receiving end of my rage, nor did they want to antagonize it. Katie came wandering into the living room with a worried look on her face. I hadn’t even thought about how all this fighting was affecting her. She looked at Max with disturbing eyes, and looked at me. Here was this tiny little girl standing in the middle of us all, so innocent, so naïve, and yet this all centered around her. I think she was beginning to sense that. “Momma, are you okay? Is he hurting you?” She pointed at Max without looking at him. “No baby, it’s okay. I’m sorry, momma just got upset.” She stepped a little closer to me. “Are the dark people gonna hurt me?” Max leaned down. “No, they won’t hurt you. We won’t let them, okay?” She frowned at him. I stood up. “As I said before, we don’t need you.” I said as calmly as I could. Ava leaned forward and spoke. “Look, you guys should just leave. Liz has made that very clear, and this is her house!” Isabel stepped toward Max. “Fine, we’ll go, for now.” she said quietly. Max raised his voice. “I will not go! Not while my little girl is in danger!!” Kyle stood up from the couch, infuriated at Max’s persistence in claiming Katie as his daughter. “She may be your daughter, but you are NOT her father! You don’t know anything about her! What her favorite color is, what her favorite show is, what doll she has to sleep with every night!” Max was getting angry. “I could learn those things! Hell, why don’t I just connect with her right now and read her memories!” I pushed him back about a foot and yelled, “You cannot just microwave your relationship with her!! Don’t you dare touch her!” Everyone began to stand up and put in their own opinions about Max’s rights and Katie’s rights and my authority over it all. Our voices started escalating and faces began to get red. Everyone seemed to forget about the sweet little girl standing in the middle of all of us… that is until she made her presence known. Suddenly Katie screamed. Her eyes closed, her fists clenched, she screamed at the top of her lungs. Immediately, we all flew backward and away from her, up against the walls and fell to the floor. Absolutely confused and shaken by what had just happened, everyone slowly sat up. We looked to the middle of the room at Katie, who was standing, now quiet, looking at all of us. She was shaking with adrenalin and fear of what she just did. “I’m sorry momma, I didn’t mean to.” Then she burst into tears.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Jun-2002 8:28:15 PM ]
posted on 2-Jun-2002 8:29:34 PM
Chapter 18

I went over to my daughter, and knelt down to comfort her. “It’s okay, baby. Mommy is okay. Everybody is okay.” She sniffled and looked up at me. “Okay,” she said, her voice still shaky. As everyone else stood up, I looked around. Everyone looked a little shocked, but the outcasts looked nervous. Max appeared to be trembling. “We should go,” he said as he glanced at the rest of his friends. (I’m not quite ready to call them my friends just yet.) Without another word, they all left. It seemed strange for them to just leave like that, so quickly and quietly, after all that arguing. Then again, I did tell them leave, and my daughter just blew them up against the wall. “My! People come and go so quickly here!” Shawn exclaimed in a high-pitched voice, imitating Dorothy. The Wizard of Oz is Katie’s favorite movie, and he watches it a lot with her. I think me, Kyle, and Katie were the only ones who got the reference. Alex, Ava, Serena, just looked at him funny and decided not to ask. Katie giggled. “Well,” I said to her, “I think it’s time for bed, baby.” I tucked her into my bed. I didn’t want her by herself tonight.
“Well, that went well,” Ava said sarcastically. “No kidding,” Kyle answered. “Do you think they’ll come back tomorrow?” Serena asked. “I don’t know, I hope not. I can’t believe they even found us,” I said. “I’d like to know how they found us.”

The next day we woke in a daze, and the world outside seemed to be an audience that was waiting for part two. The places my life had taken me were unreal and I began to feel more and more not a part of this world. But the discomforting thing was if I’m not really a part of this world, what am I a part of? Certainly not a part of Max or his stupid race…(Katie of course I don’t consider to be HIS race.) Okay Liz, relax. I had to get focused. We were still in the middle of a crisis, and the outcasts would just have to take the backburner. It was 9:00 am. The restaurant doesn’t open until 4:00 pm. Alex and Kyle were making breakfast and the rest of us all sat on the couch. So many things on our minds…it was raining outside, of course, and I tried to listen to every little drop of rain hitting the ground and the roof and the windows. The front door was open and the storm window was up so that the wind blew in through the screen. “You wanna move again?” Kyle’s voice came from the kitchen. I didn’t answer, but I heard Alex talking quietly to him in response…I could just make out what he was saying. “It won’t do any good to move. The Shands are telepathic, spiritual. They will find us wherever we go, it will just delay it for a while. They need to be dealt with.” The kitchen returned to just the sound of eggs bubbling and spitting grease. Kyle spoke. “What do we do then? If they just need to be dealt with, then how do we deal with them?” “I guess…I guess we have two options,” Alex said, throwing a few pieces of bacon in the pan. “What option do we have besides fighting blindly and desperately for our…for Katie’s life?” “Well, we can figure out a way to try and show them and convince them that their reason for wanting to kill Katie is a false one. Try to show them that their prophecy is wrong, or at least that Katie is not the girl they want.” “And the other option would be…” The sound of bacon sizzled. “Kill them. Stay one step ahead of them, and when they least expect it, they’ll find us right behind them.” Kyle thought for a moment. “Unless that’s exactly what they do to us, first.”

The morning passed on and we talked and reflected on our options. We seemed to be leaning towards the second option. Even if we could find some proof that Katie would never be involved with their race, it would be nearly impossible to explain it to them rationally. One doesn’t strike up a conversation with a killer in the moment that they are trying to kill you and explain why they shouldn’t. Nor does one seek the killer out, knock on their door, and explain that you have some new revealing evidence of your own innocence. At the present the room fell quiet. I glanced up at the clock: 11:37 am. A chill crawled up my back. Katie! She hadn’t come out of the bedroom yet. I hadn’t heard any noises from in there. No one had checked on her since 8:30 this morning! I stood up and walked quickly from the couch to my bedroom door. Be there, please be there! I opened the door and sighed. Sound asleep. Maybe the release of her powers the night before, not to mention the late night carnival, took a lot of energy out of her. “Liz!” came Alex’s voice from the living room, “Something is not right.” I took another look at Katie and then ran into the living room. “What? What’s wrong?” Alex was staring towards the windows that faced the front yard. Rain on the roof…wind…silence. I couldn’t stand it. “Alex, what!” “I’m not sure,” he said, “I don’t feel immediate danger, I just feel uneasy. It’s strangely similar to the feeling I got when I first saw Max and everybody at the restaurant last night.” At the finish of that sentence he immediately walked to the front door and peered outside. “There’s a car outside. Someone is watching us. The rain on the windows of the car is making it too blurry to see who it is.” Out of the pitter patter of the rain came a sudden squeal of tires and a loud engine as the car peeled away. Alex turned to me. “That was their car. Max and everybody…they were watching us.” Serena sat up. She spoke in a whisper, “This is getting weird. I have been nothing but creeped out since what happened last night. They seem to be so pushy, so invading, like they’re just determined to get to know us all better.” Thoughts began to race through my mind. I reached out and grabbed the one thought that seemed to comfort me the most. I bit my lip. What would I say? How could I convince them to let me just…I couldn’t…so I won’t tell them. I had made my decision, but it would be kept to myself.

I didn’t have to work that night (one of the great things about owning your own restaurant) but everybody else did. Once everyone had left for work and the house was empty, I began to pack. I packed Katie a small suitcase and some toys, and packed the basics for myself. Katie played in the living room with a puzzle that she pretended not to know how to put together while I carried the cases out to the car and put them in the trunk. I came back inside. “You hungry, baby?” I asked. “Uh-huh,” she said, looking up from her puzzle. We went to the restaurant that night for dinner. I engaged in some casual small talk with Kyle, Alex, and Shawn. Had some laughs and ate some good food. I tried to act normal when I left, but I think Kyle could tell something was up, and maybe Alex too. I smiled and walked out the door.

I got Katie strapped in my car, got in and started the car. “We are going on a trip, just you and me, little lady.” She giggled and said nothing. I took a deep breath and took off. Most of the drive passed by me seconds it seemed. My mind was so preoccupied with where I was going and where I was coming from. I could hardly believe that I had just made such a rash decision like that. I just wanted to do something and made up my mind that I would just do it. I wasn’t leaving my cares behind, I was just taking them somewhere else where they weren’t so prominent. Katie and I had some fun times at the different hotels we stayed at on the way, but my mind was always on where I was going. I found my mind wandering toward Max and how I used to feel about him…and how he seemed like such a different person now. It’s like I never really knew him at all. I snapped out of my daydream just in time to notice the sign. ‘Welcome to Roswell’

Chapter 19

When I got to Roswell I decided to check into a hotel. I didn’t feel like staying with my parents. I had been gone for two and a half days. Everyone kept calling my cell phone. I haven’t answered it yet. I really don’t know what to tell everyone. I just felt like I had to get out of Seattle for a while. I just had this feeling telling me to get Katie and get the hell away. After we checked into the hotel I decided to go see my parents. It had been a few months since I’d seen them. I pulled up in front of the Crashdown. I always feel a little nervous before I see my parents. I took a deep breath and said a quick prayer that nothing strange would happen while we were here. I unbuckled Katie and we made our way to the doors. It was about 7:30, just after the supper rush, so there were only a few tables. My mom was standing at the front counter and looked up as we entered. “Liz! Oh my goodness what are you doing here?” My mom stepped out from behind the counter to meet us. “Gramma!” Katie shrieked and ran to hug her. “I just decided to get away for a few days,” I said casually. “Look at how big you’re getting!” my mom said to Katie. “I’m gonna be four in…how long again momma?” “About three and a half weeks.” I said. My mom picked her up and looked her in the face. “You are just beautiful.” Katie giggled shyly, and wiggled to get down. My mom put her down and she immediately ran to the kitchen to see my dad. My mom watched her and smiled, then turned to me. “Well, I’m so glad you came to see us!” I stepped toward her to hug her. “I’ve missed you mom. I’m doing good though. The restaurant is doing great. We’ve actually become one of the “hot spots” in town. We were rated #7 in the top ten bar/restaurants in the city.” “Wow, Liz! Guess you really learned your stuff from us, huh?” “Yeah and college.” Awkward silence… then Katie shrieked from the kitchen. “Grampa!” Apparently, she’d found him. “Hey, you! What are you doing here? Where’s your mom?” “She’s with gramma.” My dad came out with Katie on his shoulders. Katie laughed hysterically as my dad spun and pretended to lose his balance. He set her down. “Hi sweetheart.” I hugged my dad tight. “Hey, dad.” “What are you doing out here? You know we’ve missed you, and our little granddaughter.” “Yeah, we’ve missed you too. I just…wanted to get out of town for a while, you know?” My dad smiled. “Yeah. Well, hey, come on upstairs. We’ll get your room set up for you and Kate. Are you hungry? I can throw something on the grill for ya.” “Oh, supper would be nice, but I’m actually staying at a hotel, dad.” My mom gave me a look. “Nonsense, Liz! Why don’t you just stay here?” “Mom, I’ve already checked in at the Holiday Inn, on the edge of town.” I could see the disappointment in both of their faces. My dad walked behind the counter. “Well, what would you like, honey?” I sat down on a stool at the counter, and Katie sat on my mom’s lap next to me. “I’ll have a Will Smith and Saturn Rings. Katie, what do you want?” She licked her lips. “Chocolate milkshake.” “I mean to eat. What do you want to eat?” “French fries!!” I looked at my dad. “For her I guess it’s Space Fries and a Chocolate shake, dad.” “Coming up,” he said, and disappeared into the back.

I visited with my parents a while longer. Jim showed up to eat and I ended up talking with him for a little bit. About 9:00 we headed back to the hotel. Katie fell asleep in the car on the way back. We got back to our room and I laid her down and shut off all the lights except for the T.V. As I sat on the end of the bed in the light-blue darkness, I watched a muted television, mindlessly. My cell started to ring. I decided I’d better answer it. I took a deep breath. “Hello.” “Liz.” Kyle said. “Where the hell are you?” “Kyle, god I’m so sorry. I just freaked out and left.” “Why didn’t you tell us?” “I didn’t want anybody to know where I was going. I just felt like I had to get Katie out of there.” “Why didn’t you say anything? I would have come with you.” “We’re fine. Besides, who would be running the restaurant?” There was a silence. “Well, just tell me one more time that you’re fine. And don’t go too far from us, okay?” “Yes, I’m really fine. I’m in a safe place. And I’m not…too far.” “Okay, good…uh, Liz?” “Yeah.” “You sounded a little hesitant when you said your not too far away. You’re not like in another state or anything, right?” “Oh, I’m close to home.” Silence. I heard Kyle start to speak and then stop, like he was debating whether or not to interrogate me further. “Home, like… Seattle-home, right?” I bit my lip. “You’re in Roswell aren’t you!” “Your dad looks well. Oh, and he says hi.” “Liz!” Kyle fumed. “I can’t believe you would go so far from here, especially during a time like this! It would be wise to stick close together!” I lay backwards onto the bed. “I know, Kyle. I know. I’m sorry. I just…something inside me was telling me to just grab Katie and take her the hell away from that city. I can’t explain it.” Kyle sighed into the phone. “I didn’t mean to sound upset. I’m just concerned about you, Liz. I love you.” For some reason, those words sunk into me like a drug. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him lately, but to hear how he felt about me still gave my stomach butterflies. What was my problem? He really loved me, and I could feel that…but I couldn’t feel it back, lately. “Liz? Are you there?” I hesitated. “I love you too, Kyle. Look, I’ll talk to you later. I hope things are not too hectic there without me.” “No, we’re alright. The restaurant is doing fine. Oh, and we haven’t seen the dickheads since you left.” Somehow that didn’t comfort me. “Oh, yeah? So, you haven’t seen them? Have you even seen their car or anything?” “No. Nothing.” I heard a car door open and shut out in the parking lot. “Okay, well I’m gonna go. I’ll call you, alright?” “Okay. Tell Katie I said hi.” I was getting impatient as my fears grew. “Okay, okay! I have to go now. Bye.” I hung up the phone and ran to the window. Alright, I need to calm down. I’m just being paranoid. I didn’t see their car or anything. But something was still bugging me. They seemed to have disappeared about the same time I did. Of course I had no reason to think they had actually left Seattle just because my friends hadn’t seen them, right? I mean, that’s just letting my imagination get the better of me. Even if they did leave, why would they come…then it hit me. Where else would they go if they did leave? Who else do they know? OH! I have to stop thinking like this! I’m driving myself crazy. It never does any good to sit and worry about something that hasn’t even happened yet, unless you enjoy experiencing unnecessary fear and anxiety. I’ll deal with things as they come. There is a difference between planning for the future and worrying about the future. My grandma told me that once. As I encouraged myself, I fell into a nice sleep on the firm hotel mattress.

The next day I decided to go somewhere where I could think. I took Katie to the quarry and we swam for a little bit. We ate some lunch on a blanket and laid down to bathe in the hot sun. I kept myself from dozing so that I could make sure Katie was not going near the water without me being aware of it. After an uncertain amount of time, I thought that we should be getting back. I put my shorts on and just kept my bikini top on. I got Katie dressed and we gathered our things. We began to walk up around the rocks toward the car. I stopped short, just as my car came into view. There was a certain group of old friends getting out of a car that was parked next to mine. What the FUCK!! I started walking more quickly to my car. “Liz?” Maria’s voice came. I didn’t answer. I reached my car and put Katie inside. Before I could get in, Max and the rest reached me. Max spoke. “Liz! What are you doing here?” “Nothing, I’m leaving. Leave me the FUCK alone!” It was quiet as I glared at them. “I cannot believe that you have the audacity to show up here! What, are you following me?” Max looked offended. “No. No, we were just coming here to talk. This is where we always came.” I rolled my eyes. “Please, Max! You expect me to believe you just happened to drive all the way from Seattle to Roswell, just to talk at the quarry, and it had nothing to do with following me? I’m not that stupid!” He glanced down at the ground as if to search for what to say. “What do you mean?” Just then my cell phone rang. I ignored it. Michael stepped toward me. “Liz, I know this is weird…or awkward or whatever, but we should really talk.” My eyes bugged out as if to yell without talking. “What the hell is wrong with you? Didn’t we have this conversation already? I told you guys to leave me and my daughter alone.” Katie yelled from in the car, “Momma, your phone is for you.” She got out of the car and handed me my cell phone. I took it from her. “Hello?” Alex’s voice came from the other end. “Liz. I know you’re off relaxing and whatnot, but you should really get back here.” “Don’t worry, I was just about to head back, Alex.” Everyone standing there staring at me, suddenly looked at me curiously. “I just think we need to talk about what we are going to do with Max and everybody. I’m getting a weird vibe from them,” he said, sounding almost in a panic. “I know what you mean. I’m standing next to them right now. The crazy fuckers followed me all the way out here.” At that, Alex went silent. Max spoke. “Liz, who are you talking to?” I gave him the finger. “Alex are you there?” He spoke slowly. “What the hell do you mean you are standing next to them? I thought you were in Roswell!” I was beginning to feel a fear creep up my spine as I looked at this group of former friends staring back at me in silence. “I am in Roswell, Alex. Are you okay?” “No! Liz, I’m not sure who, but one of us is not okay! I’m in the living room right now, at your house in Seattle, wondering what I can say to make Max and everybody get off the porch! They’ve been standing on the porch for an hour. They haven’t rang the doorbell or knocked or anything!! They’re just staring through the windows!” I dropped my phone. Things around me started to fade in and out. “Liz, are you okay?” Max said, stepping forward to help steady me. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I just lost all strength. I would have fallen to my knees had Max not grabbed me. I heard Alex’s voice on the other end. “Liz! Liz! Hello?” Maria bent down and picked up the phone. “Um, hi. I’m Maria, Liz’s friend. I guess your name is Alex. Can you tell me what you just told her that made her almost pass out?” “Maria, it’s me. Alex. Remember? Best friend, died in a car wreck?” Maria lost it. “Oh my god, Alex?” She began to cry. Gasps of disbelief came from the rest of them. Maria spoke through her sobs. “Liz! Liz, tell me this is really Alex! Please!” She turned her attention back to the phone. “Alex?” “Maria, I don’t really have time to go into all the details, but yes, it’s me! Can you put Liz back on the phone?” “Well, I…I don’t think she can…” I managed to collect my thoughts and regain some temporary sanity. “Give me the phone, Maria!” I suddenly yelled. She handed it to me. “Alex, what’s going on? Are you sure it’s them out on the porch?” “Yes! They’re staring through the glass, I don’t know how much closer of a look I can get at them!” I began to breathe uncontrollably heavy as new wave of fear for Alex rung through me. “Alex, either one of us is crazy, or one of us needs to get the hell away!! Alex, I think you should leave the house! Get out of there! Are you by yourself?” I heard breathing. “Yeah. I’m alone. This is so weird, Liz. I didn’t sense anything! I couldn’t tell…” The sound of glass breaking came through the phone, and it went dead.

Chapter 20

“Alex! Alex!” I screamed into the phone. I started to panic again. They were all staring at me. I looked at them; I could feel my self beginning to hyperventilate. Oh my god, this isn’t happening! I got myself somewhat under control. My mind raced to figure out what to do. I dialed Shawn and Ava’s number. Shawn answered after two rings. “Hello.” “Shawn, let me talk to Ava.” “Okay, hang on just a minute.” “No, now! Alex is in trouble!” “What? Is he okay?” “I don’t know! Get Ava!” I heard him running through their apartment. Ava picked up the phone. “Liz, what’s wrong?” “You have to get to my house now! Alex is there and he said that our “old friends” were just standing on the porch for like an hour. I was talking to him and then I heard glass shatter and the line went dead.” “Oh my god! Okay, we’re leaving.” “Call Serena too. I’m heading back right now.”

I got off the phone and took a deep, relaxing breath. Everyone was still gawking at me, not sure what to think. I suppose they would be, if they are who they say they are. I had to find out if they were really real. “Katie, get back in the car and buckle up.” I turned to face them. “Okay, you’re gonna have to prove that you are who you say you are.” “What? Have you lost your mind?” Isabel asked sarcastically. I kept my face very straight and firm to let them know I wasn’t joking. “All of you are going to have to tell me something that no one else would know besides you and me. Max, go first.” “This is crazy! Why do you think we’re not ourselves?” Max said, confused. “I’ll explain in a second. Tell me something that is personal between me and you!” “Fine. I saved you at the Crashdown, and we found the orb in the desert together when you were getting all those flashes.” “What does this have to do with anything?” Michael cut in. “I’m not saying anything until all of you have answered. Michael, your turn.” “I...I, uh, stole your journal after we first met.” I looked at him and nodded my head. “Isabel.” “Ah…when Max was in New York with the dupes, I helped you reach out to help him.” “Maria.” “Can I say anything? I mean, if it is truly a secret between just you and me, it would be out in the open now.” “I don’t care, Maria.” She glanced at Max. “One night, in the wee hours of the morning, we met to discuss something…something from the year 2014.” That was plenty from her. I nodded at her. “Okay, I don’t have time to explain before we leave. Get in my car. You’re leaving your car here.” Everyone looked at each other and back at me. “Now!” I yelled. They moved towards my car to get in. Maria spoke in her usual half-panicked voice, “Where are we going? Why are you acting so weird?” I shut the car door after getting in. “Seattle. It’s a long story.” Max sat in the front passenger seat. Maria got in and put Katie on her lap. Michael and Isabel also squeezed into the back, and we were off.

I flew down the highway. “Hey Liz, you wanna slow down a bit?” Michael asked from the backseat. “No.” I said. “Fair enough,” he replied. I picked up my phone and called my mom and dad. I told them that a friend of mine was in a car accident back home. They understood and we said our goodbyes over the phone. I hung up and the car was silent for a minute or so. The silence never lasts long in my life. “So, we’re going to Seattle then?” Isabel said from the back. “Yeah,” I replied. Michael leaned forward, “Can you speak in more than one-word sentences?” “Sure,” I said casually. “Thanks.” He sat back. I thought for a moment. Where do I start? I started to let my guard down a little, now that I knew these were REALLY my old friends. The only reason I was so rude with them at the quarry was because I was convinced that they were psychos who had followed me all the way to Roswell and then tried to pretend it wasn’t weird. Now I understood their confusion at my outburst and my accusations of following me. The funny thing was, the real pod squad was here and they deserved to hear everything that I had yelled at the other pod squad, but I just didn’t have the energy or the will to go through all that again. I had passed that point now. I had gone through it already, and my emotions were spent. I just spent them on the wrong people. I could repeat what I said to the other pod squad, but the emotion wouldn’t be there. It would be pointless. Then it struck me. How strange…that outburst wasn’t so much for them to hear as it was for me to let out. It was more important that I let it out than it was that they heard it. All that anger was killing me inside, not them. I suppose I could have dealt with it at any time, even before they came back. Hmm. You live, you learn.

I went through it all…the story I mean. I started with the real story on Alex, and what that all involved. I told them about Serena, Ava, Alex, Shawn, Kyle, and me moving to Omaha. Then I went into everything I knew about the Shands and that whole problem. I talked about our restaurant and our move to Seattle. Then finally, I explained to them that there was a duplicate set of them, including Maria, in Seattle…and the last that I heard from Alex. Throughout my explanation, I avoided one little detail: who Katie’s father was. “So why are they after her and you guys anyways?” Max asked. “Yeah, I mean, what did you do to them?” Maria asked in wonder. I knew I would have to explain. “Well, Larek says that they have a prophecy. This prophecy says that a certain child will grow up to be a person of great power and authority and will ultimately annihilate their race…or at least be responsible for the annihilation of their race.” Max looked even further confused. “And why in the world do they think it will be Katie?” I stared at the road ahead of me. “You know, I have no idea.” There was a silence. Michael broke the awkward silence. “Liz, there’s something you’re not telling us.” “Yep. There sure is, and I’m not sure if I want to say it right now. It’s a long drive to Seattle,” I thought to myself. Then I bit the bullet. “The prophecy says that the child responsible will be a child of the King of Antar.” I knew that was all I needed to say, and it would hit them in a second. Maria started, “Yeah, but Katie’s not from…” her voice trailed off as the truth crept into everyone’s minds. All at once, the whole car got it. We had some long talks and some long silences on the rest of the way back. Mostly it was me and Max talking and asking questions, calmly. Every once in a while, usually during the silences, Max would just stare at his daughter. I could see the hurt on his face. Pain for what he did to me, and pain for not being there for his daughter…especially in the midst of all this trauma. She was at the most crucial period in her life, as a little girl, and as the alien threat she is accused of being, and he hadn’t been there. It tore him up inside. I knew, looking at his face, that this was punishment enough. He didn’t need to hear all the things I had yelled out before. The simple truth of what he did was more than he could handle. At night, when we were driving, and everyone was asleep, I’m almost sure I could hear him cry to himself, but his face was turned towards the window. The yellow lines in the road were all I could really see. I was staring at the road, and every now and then, up at the stars. I felt Max grab my right hand and he held it tight. I looked at him and he had tears in his eyes. “Liz, I’m so sorry. I am so sorry.”

posted on 3-Jun-2002 12:46:17 AM
Chapter 21

Alex lay on the floor with his head leaning up against the wall. Max, Isabel, Michael, and Maria stood above him, staring down. Pieces of glass were lying all over the place. Slowly and painfully, Alex regained consciousness. He looked up at them and remembered what happened. A bitter expression poured over his face. He tried to move, but Max quickly put a hand out towards him and his body went numb for about ten seconds. He happened to glance down and notice blood on his shirt. He couldn’t remember how it had happened. He had passed out by some supernatural means as soon as the glass broke. He was cut in a few places…nothing bad. As the numbness faded Isabel stepped forward. She knelt down on one knee, right in front of him and leaned into his face. “Nobody else home? Damn. I’ll bet this wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t alone. Where did everybody go?” She said with feigned empathy. “Isabel…” Alex hesitated. “You’re not Isabel. I know your not…but who the hell are you?” She smiled at him. “But I am Isabel. I just don’t like you any more.” Alex shivered as he watched a darkness flash through her eyes. “You are not Isabel. I can feel it. I don’t know why I couldn’t tell before, but I can feel it in me now. You’re not her!” The smile left her face. “You can feel it inside now because I let you feel it! You wouldn’t be able to feel anything inside if we didn’t want you to. We are better prepared this time.” She stood up and stepped back. Alex looked agitated and confused. “Well if you could keep me from knowing that you’re not my friends, then why would you let me know now?” Michael burst out into an evil laughter that made Alex close his eyes in fear. “Let me think…I bet you know the answer to this one! Why would we let you know something that you shouldn’t know? Hmm. Maybe because you’re as good as dead. Dead people don’t tell secrets,” he sneered. Alex sat up slowly. “I’ve been dead once. Don’t fuck with me.” At this Max chuckled. “People get so bold before they die. It’s kind of funny. They don’t see how pathetic they look.” They all started laughing and gloating at that remark. Alex couldn’t stand it. He knew this would cost him dearly, but it just needed to be done. While they were all laughing he knew they were feeling too confident. They were off guard, just for a few seconds. He wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do. He didn’t have time to think. He closed his eyes and concentrated all of his anger on them. Their laughter turned to echoes and all sound faded except the sound of his heart beating. Thump Thump Thump THUMP THUMP. His anger turned to rage…his rage turned to energy. He heard a noise like something bursting into flame. Immediately the laughter stopped and he heard screaming. He opened his eyes to see Maria writhing on the floor, in flames. The rest of them just stared in disbelief. For the moment they were horrified at this…and they backed away from her. Frozen with fear, they simply watched her burn. She screamed and writhed, and then stopped. The flames went out. Her body was a charred carcass. For a few seconds that seemed like eternity, the room stood still and silent while smoke rose from the lifeless body. Alex sat there, leaning against the wall, motionless. Then, without warning, a small dark creature burst out of the middle of the body and ran screaming across the room. It jumped through the living room window, and it’s voice faded into the shadows of the evening. Alex’s stomach squirmed with fear as he realized his situation. He stood up slowly. They turned to face him and Michael walked toward him. Alex had absolutely nothing to lose at this point. He was either going to try to hit them again and run, or stay and have a nice pre-death beating. He preferred to hit them with everything he could and get the hell out of there. Alex glared at Michael, trying not to show any fear. “I said…don’t…fuck with me!” he said through gritted teeth. Michael simply smiled at him and then his hand pinned Alex’s neck against the wall, faster than he could react. Michael squeezed and painful chills ran down Alex’s body. He wasn’t choking him; he was releasing something in him. Alex reached out and grabbed Michael’s head with both hands as he struggled for breath. Michael began to growl in pain, and then he yelled. Alex’s arms dropped to his sides, numb and lifeless. Michael released his throat, grabbed him by the shirt with one arm, and through him into the wall on the other side of the room, cracking the plaster. Alex bounced off of the wall and fell to the floor with a painful thud. He groaned, and tried to sit up, which was harder than he thought without being able to use his arms. This time Max came up to Alex. “Sshhh,” he said, putting his finger to his lips, “You could wake up the neighbors.” Max kicked him in the side of the head, and he was unable to protect himself. He fell on his side and moaned. Max knelt down in front of him, grabbed him and sat him up against the wall, like he had been before. Max’s expression contorted and a darkness came over his face. “When we kill Kaitlyn, you sure as hell won’t be there to try and stop us. It’s time for this to be over,” he growled. Alex looked into his face and laughed. “Damn right it’s time for this to be over. Try not to wake the neighbors.” As the feeling came back into Alex’s arms, he lunged forward with unexpected force, and tackled Max to the ground, landing on top of him. He put his hands on the middle of Max’s torso where he had seen the creature come out of Maria’s body. He closed his eyes, and in his mind, he saw the head of the creature inside. With a cry, he released all of his powers through his hands and into the creature’s head. Max screamed in pain and his voice sounded otherworldly. His body then went limp, and Alex felt the life fade out of the creature inside as its head was internally burned. He had killed this one.

Alex stood up with much effort, and breathing heavily, exhausted, he stared at Michael and Isabel. He was completely expressionless. His mind was blank and he was completely void of energy. He had given everything he had, and now he felt he didn’t even have the energy to run. Michael and Isabel looked livid. It was strange. They looked like Michael and Isabel, but as their rage overcame them, they looked different. They looked evil. Alex knew he was going to die. It didn’t scare him so much now. He just accepted it. He had done everything he could, and now it was over. As Michael and Isabel moved toward him, he smiled. He felt peaceful. At first he thought that he felt peaceful about death…but then, he began to feel it was something else. Not quite peace, but rather relief. Michael and Isabel began to reach their hands towards him. Suddenly, the door burst open. Startled, Alex expected to see the creature that had been inside Maria earlier. Ava and Serena stood in the doorway. Isabel and Michael suddenly felt vulnerable. Not sure whether to lunge at Alex, or to attack the other two, or run, they hesitated too long. Ava and Serena both put their hands out, and a burst of light followed. Michael and Isabel flew back, landing near the kitchen doorway. After that, they didn’t hesitate in making their decision to run. They got up and ran through the kitchen, and out of the side door. Ava and Serena didn’t bother following them. They walked over to Alex. Serena put her arms around him, and he practically leaned on her for support. “Alex, are you okay?” “Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired. Kind of had my hands full.” Ava looked around the room. “I can see that. You killed two of them?” Alex looked at her. “No. The one in Max’s body is dead. The one that was in Maria’s body came out of her, and ran away.” Serena walked Alex to the couch and sat him down. She looked at Ava. “We better call Liz.”

It felt like I had been driving for eternity. It had actually been about 16 hours. About an hour after we had left, I got a call from Serena. Alex was okay. I couldn’t believe that those creatures were somehow able to get clones of Max and everybody to use as host bodies. And the freakier part was that they were actually inside the bodies this time, instead of just controlling them mentally. I had explained all of this to everyone in the car after I got off of the phone. It was now about 12:20 pm, the day after we left Roswell. I had driven through the night. I was dozing at the wheel. Max looked at me. “Do you want me to drive?” he asked. “No. I want to drive. I don’t trust you.” I snapped back. “Liz, you’re falling asleep,” he said a little nervously. “You’re right. It’s about another 16 or 17 hours before we hit Seattle. I’ll stop at the next hotel. I’ll sleep until about 9:00 tonight, and we’ll take off again.” We pulled into the parking lot of the next one we saw, which happened to be Comfort Inn. We checked in and went up to our rooms. Max, Michael, Isabel, and Maria stayed in the same room. Of course, me and Katie were in another. I was just about to lay down. A knock came on my door. I knew who it was. I opened the door and gave him my best ‘I’m too tired to talk to you’ look. “Liz, can we talk?” he asked. “Max, I’m too tired. I need to get some sleep and we need to get back on the road. I’m driving for another 17 hours tonight. Alex almost died last night, and I want to be with my friends again as soon as possible.” He nodded his head. “I know, I just…it‘ll just take a moment.” I motioned for him to come in. We sat on the bed. Katie was taking a nap up towards the head of the bed. “She’s beautiful. She’s all you,” he said, glancing at Katie. “Thanks,” I replied, not looking him in the eyes. “Um, Liz this is…” he stopped and looked down, as if to search for words. “Well, there is no way to say this, so I guess I’ll just try my best. Look, I know that “sorry” is not enough. I know that words are not enough. When I was riding in the car, listening to you talk about everything that had happened, and looking at Kaitlyn, I didn’t know how to deal with it. And the reason I didn’t know how to deal with it was because there simply is no way to fix it. There is nothing I can say…nothing I can do.” He stopped again, not sure of what else to say. “You’re right, Max. There is nothing you can say, or do, to fix what you did to me. Nothing will fix the psychological damage of Katie being without her father. She’s kind of accepted Kyle as her dad, but she knows, Max. She knows he’s not her dad and it just makes her wonder. She’s smart, Max. She understands a lot more than you think she does, and I think that somewhere down inside, she feels like maybe she wasn’t good enough to have a dad or something.” I started to cry a little, but quickly composed myself. “Liz, I don’t know what to do. It’s killing me inside to know that no matter how much I wish there was something I could do, there isn’t! I mean, sure, I could give you the rest of my life, give Katie the rest of my life, but I can never, ever give you the last four and a half years! That fact…that is what’s ripping me up inside. So I’ve come to give you the only thing I can give you. I will do whatever you want me to. If you want me to give you and Katie the rest of my life, I will. If you want me to get the hell out of your life, I will. If you want me to go jump off of a cliff, I’ll think about it.” He smiled. I laughed a little at this, then thought about it seriously for a moment, and tucked it away for future contemplation. “The only reason I might hesitate to do away with myself is the thought of not being able to be there for you ever again, you know, in case you would ever change your mind.” I laughed again, and he smiled. Then my face went back to serious. “Max, I appreciate your effort to make me understand how you feel. But I don’t think you’ll ever understand how I feel. I know that you know that, but my point is that you’re right. We will never be able to fix this. And right now is too soon for me to decide if I want you out of my life, or if I want you to be my friend, or…whatever.” He nodded his head and got up quietly, heading for the door. “Sleep good,” he said, and he left the room.

posted on 22-Jul-2002 8:50:35 PM
Chapter 22

That night I woke up at about 8:30 pm. I was hyperventilating again. In my dreams I had forgotten about the call that told me Alex was okay. For a few seconds after I woke up I was terrified for him. Then I remembered that he was okay…for the time being. I was still anxious to get back. I got up and got ready. I didn’t wake Katie up until I was almost ready to walk out of the room. Me and Katie went to the others’ room and knocked. They had been ready to go for a while and were just waiting for me to knock. We checked out and hit the road. I tried to drive the whole way, but I couldn’t. After about 10 hours I decided I would trust Isabel to drive. I started to pass out in the passenger seat when a thought came to me. I turned and looked at everybody else. “How did Tess die?” I asked, out of the blue. Isabel glanced at me with a weird look and looked back at the road. Max’s voice came from the back. “What do you mean? I thought you said that you had already heard that she died in the battle on Antar.” “Yeah, I did. I just wondered if she…you know, how she died. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. I was just wondering because nobody has really mentioned anything specific about it.” Max let out a sigh and began. “The battle was long and hard. It went on for nearly a year, and it had started only days after we arrived. We were winning and gaining better positions all the time, for about the first three or four months. Then it got bad. Khivar had held back most of his forces until we thought the victory was ours, and then he released them. He came on strong with his hardest blow when we were least expecting it. It hurt us. When that attack came on, it came with such force and surprise that Khivar and his people were able to reach our main base. We were told by our guards and base security to get out. We had a place in the lower level for emergency escapes. It’s a secret chamber with three ground ships that go into underground tunnels. Each ship goes in a different direction to unspecified locations. Even I was never told where they go. That way, if we were followed, they would have no idea what they could be walking into. They could be following us right into a secret ambush, and that’s if they ever found the chamber, which nobody ever has. And it gets much more complicated than that, but I won’t go into it all. Tess and I were running for the chamber which had only one entrance, and that was through a door that was not only hidden, but could only be opened by my voice. Anyway we were running and she was right next to me. I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure she was keeping up. Finally, we came to the door, and I turned to tell her to go in first. She was gone. I knew I had just seen her right behind me maybe ten seconds before reaching the door. I panicked. I ran across the large hall we had just came through, and turned a corner that led to the main floor of the base. I saw her almost two hundred feet away, running back. I yelled out her name, but she just turned another corner and disappeared. I couldn’t think of why she would run back. It was like she had forgotten something important, though I don’t know what could have been more important than her own safety. I started to run after her and then there came an explosion that shook the floor. The explosion came from the hallway she had just turned and ran down moments before. I wasn’t sure if she was dead, alive, dying…I had to go and try to save her if I could. I was halfway to the hallway where the explosion had come from when she came running back out towards me, badly burned and half stumbling. I called out to her again, but she didn’t seem to see me. I think she was almost unconscious from the blast. I began to run to her when Khivar’s men came out of the hallway behind her and shot her down. They shot her over and over. I don’t know why they did that. I was frozen with shock and terror, keep in mind I didn’t know what she was guilty of, but I knew at that point that she was gone and I needed to go. I made it to the chamber.” Max didn’t say a word for the rest of the trip. He just stared out the window for a few hours and later fell asleep. Nobody else talked for the rest of the trip. It was kind of a mood killer. Not that the atmosphere in the car was that of a party beforehand, but a story like that kind of makes for a quiet trip.

Chapter 23

We got back to Seattle at 5:00 pm, approximately, and headed straight for my house. Though everyone was not happy to see Max and the gang again, even when they understood that it wasn’t the same ones that had been there before, I let them stay at my house for the time being. Considering what had happened to Alex, I just wanted more protection around Katie. Now I knew that Max & Co. were not out of their minds after all, and were just plain and simply jerks. So, I decided that the extra protection of four jerks was better than none at all. When we first arrived at my home, nobody was there. The broken window was the first thing I noticed when we pulled up. We all walked towards the house and went inside. It looked like Serena and Ava had pretty much straightened up everything except the window. Well, as of yet, I didn’t exactly mention to them that I had powers, so…here goes. “Have a seat on the couch.” I said to them as they came in behind me. When they had sat down I lifted my hand towards the glass on the floor and then towards the window. The glass lifted into the air and moved to the broken window. Each piece slowly moved into place and melded together perfectly. Good thing my house is about 60 feet away from the nearest house, with lots of trees around. Max, Michael, Isabel, and Maria watched with eyes wide and mouths open. It was fun to show them my powers since I don’t get to show them to people very often…well really never, besides my close friends who are already associated with the whole alien thing. Maria managed to speak. “What the hell? Liz, you have powers?” she said, with wonder. “I do.” I replied, simply. Max stood up and examined the window. “Pretty good! Oh, you missed a crack.” For a moment I started to look at the window to see, but then realized he was obviously joking. I laughed…and then remembered I didn’t like him very much. I stopped laughing and went towards my bedroom. “If you guys are hungry there’s food in the cupboards and the fridge, but I expect you to buy your own food starting tomorrow. I’m going to bed.” I grabbed Katie and walked towards my room. “Bye!” Katie squeaked, and waved her hand to them as we went around the corner. Katie and I laid on my bed and went to sleep. I was absolutely exhausted. Katie fell asleep right away and I dozed off shortly after her.

I woke up to Maria whispering my name. “Liz. Liz.” “Hmm?” “Ava just called and said everyone will be here about 9:45 pm.” “Okay. I’ll be out in a few minutes.” I rolled over to look at my alarm clock. It said 8:49 pm. I yawned and got up and went into my bathroom to take a quick shower. I got dressed in a white tank top and a pair of jeans and put on a little make up. I checked on Katie and she was still sleeping. My clock now said 9:39. I went to the kitchen to look for something to eat. “God, I really don’t have anything to left to eat after Max and Michael raided my cupboards,” I thought to myself. I need to go shopping. I should have called Kyle and had him bring me something from the restaurant. I continued looking through my cupboards when I heard the front door open. I made my way to the living room. Kyle, Ava, & Shawn walked in. “Hey,” I said. Kyle nodded at me and they all glanced at every one else. I gave Kyle a kiss and hugged him. “I missed you,” he said. “I missed you too. I love you,” I said. He handed me a takeout box. “Thank you! I’m starving,” I said, putting it into the microwave. I ate in the kitchen while Shawn, Ava, and Kyle talked with me. The others waited in the living room in silence. About the time I was done eating, Alex and Serena walked in and came to the kitchen. They didn’t stop to visit with Max & Co. Alex was still a little creeped out by the site of them. Finally, we all gathered in the living room to discuss what needed to be discussed. “Max, here is the deal,” I began. “I’ll admit it. We need your help. We need some good planning and good protection to keep my daughter safe. The rest of us would like to avoid death as well, but Katie’s protection comes first.” They all agreed at this. Max responded quietly, “You know I’ll do anything for you or her, Liz. I just…I don’t want to leave after I stay with her for a while, and I don’t want that to be a problem. Until we get this thing taken care of, I’ll be around her a lot. She is my daughter, and I’m bound to grow attached to her. Liz, she’ll probably start to like me too. I don’t want to leave her after just becoming acquainted with her; not just for my own sake, but hers too.” Kyle looked at me as if to say, ‘Well, what do you think?’ I glanced back at him. “Well, maybe you don’t have to be involved with her directly. Maybe you can just be close, nearby. Be around to protect her, but not actually spend time with her.” That hurt him. I could see it in his face. “Liz, I know that I don’t deserve anything from you, and you deserve way more than I could ever give you, but I’m begging you to not shut me out of her life if I’m going to be around her now. If you don’t want me to be in her life or yours, I understand, but I would rather leave now before I grow to love her.” I tried not to lose my temper, but…oops! “Oh! So let me get this straight. You have sex with me, leave the planet, and I’m left to raise a child without her father. Then you come back four and a half years later and tell me that the only way you will help save her life is if I agree to let you into our lives for good? Oh, that’s classic! Your daughter that you unwittingly abandoned is in danger of losing her life and the ONLY WAY you will agree to help protect her is if I agree to just forgive you of all past sins?! You know, Max, you are absolutely, without a doubt, the MOST selfish, heartless alien I’ve ever known!!” His face turned red, but not with anger. He knew that he was being unreasonable, given the circumstances. “I’m sorry, but I’m not just saying this for my sake, Liz! She could become attached to me too. Then, when it’s all over, you would force me to leave her. What will that do to her?” Everyone started to leave the room to let me and Max have our little discussion. Nobody else really had a problem with anybody else. I was a little mad at Michael and Isabel for not telling me, but I was mostly mad at Maria and especially Max. “What will it do to her to have a mom who is miserable because she is forced to see someone she hates all the time? And what if you do stick around and get to know her? I don’t trust that you wouldn’t leave us again! How could either of us ever trust you? She wouldn’t miss you that bad anyway. About as much as a second grader misses their first grade teacher.” “I’m not saying you would have to let me be her father, or even let me see her a couple of times a week! As long as I could just see her every now and then. You know, just often enough so that she wouldn’t forget me. All grudges aside, she is my daughter!” “All grudges aside? Excuse me? Who the hell said all previous grudges were now null and void? I happen to have a sizable list of grudges against you, and I’m not ready to put them aside!” We were both standing and we were pretty close to each other’s faces. Max turned and sat back down on the couch and put his head in his hands. I sat down next to him. “Max, I used to love you, but you’ve done some things to me that are going to take a long time to heal. I don’t want to promise you that you can be a part of my life and Katie’s. Surely you can understand that!” He nodded his head without lifting it up. I patted him on the back as ‘friendly’ as I could. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. “Liz, I’m going to help protect her no matter what. No matter what the consequences are. I’m obviously not going to just stand by while she is in danger. I just thought that I could kind of use it as an excuse for you to let me be Katie’s father or friend. I’m sorry. It was very wrong of me to use this situation to try and manipulate you to accept me into your life. Even if you want me to leave the same day that the Shands are taken care of, I’ll protect her still. God knows I deserve any pain I may get from the whole situation.” I wanted to say something more, something to comfort him. I sat there silent. I’m so used to just being polite in these kinds of situations. I would normally just say something like, “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” but he deserved it. He deserved it all. He deserved to have to protect her at all costs. He deserved to leave afterward. He deserved the pain. But did Katie? Of course not. Could I really take away her only chance of ever knowing her father? Was that even my decision to make?

Chapter 24

Katie stood in the hallway peeking around the corner into the living room. Max and I were sitting on the couch, oblivious to her presence. Everyone else was in the kitchen or in the dining room. “Okay. I guess I just need to concentrate on the situation at hand. For now, I’m just going to forget that I’m her dad. I’ll protect her anyway I know how.” Max said, with a resolute voice. “Thank you. I…I really appreciate the help.” I replied. I stood and walked into the kitchen to talk with everyone else. Max stayed hunched on the couch by himself, thinking. The faint voices from the other rooms didn’t seem to interest him or distract him. He was deep in thought. He realized what needed to be done and decided to do it, no matter what. He would now dedicate all of his thoughts toward one thing and one thing only: Kaitlyn Michelle Parker would live a long life. She would live if it meant his own death. While he was sitting there, thinking, becoming more and more determined about his decision, one thing did manage to distract him and break his thoughts. He suddenly realized that a little girl was staring at him from around the corner of a dark hallway. He wondered how long she had been there. He smiled at her. He couldn’t tell if she smiled back; only her eyes were visible. A moment or two passed, and slowly she stepped out from behind the corner and smiled. Max lifted his hand and waved as if to say ‘hello’. She waved back. She hesitated and then walked right up to him. “Hey. What are you doing up?” he asked her. “I woke up.” she said. “Oh. Are you hungry? I’ll bet your mommy could make you something. Everybody is in the kitchen. You wanna go say hi to everyone else?” She shook her head. “You don’t?” He looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Are you my daddy?” she asked suddenly. Max smiled and looked at the floor, then back up at her. “I’m your friend, and I’m your mom’s friend.” “That’s nice. Are you my dad?” she said, looking him right in the face. “On the couch with my mom, you said you were my daddy.” “No. I was talking about someone else,” he said, but he wouldn’t look her in the face. She gave him a strange look. “Nope. You’re lying because you won’t look at my eyes,” she said plainly. Max was flabbergasted at her ability to read people. It seemed that she could just look at a person and know what they were thinking, or hear a person talk and know what they really wanted to say. She knows when people are lying. She knows what people are thinking just by looking at their face. Realizing this, Max stopped trying to argue with her. He just sat back on the couch and looked up at the ceiling. “You won’t let anybody hurt me, will you?” she asked. He looked at her right in the eyes. “No. Nobody will hurt you.” She looked at him carefully, and then smiled again and went into the kitchen. Max looked back up at the ceiling and gathered his thoughts again.

None of us noticed her walking into the kitchen. “Wow, so like, what kind of food do you serve there?” Maria asked. She was totally amazed that Kyle and I had our own restaurant, and that it was popular. “Well, we really have a pretty good variety of food. We have anything from burgers, to seafood, to steaks and some fancier stuff, too.” “That’s really cool, Liz. I’m glad that’s working out for you,” Isabel said, sincerely. A momentary silence hung in the air, waiting to be broken. My unseen daughter took the initiative. “Mommy, Max is lying. He won’t say he’s my daddy, but I heard him tell you he was. Why would he lie? He hasn’t lied about anything else. Doesn’t he like me?” Having said what was honestly on her mind, she just looked at me. Everyone was silent and looked at her and then me. “Of course he likes you, sweetie. I just don’t want… Let’s go to your room.” I walked out of the kitchen, taking Katie with me. As I passed through the living room, I looked at Max and motioned for him to follow. He got up and went with us to Katie’s room. I laid her down on the bed and tucked her in. Max waited at the doorway, not sure of what I wanted him to do. Katie leaned over to look past me at Max. “Goodnight daddy!” she said. Then she looked back at me and smiled. Her eyes were telling me that she was sorry for calling him daddy, since nobody seemed to want her to, but she knew the truth. She almost seemed a little excited. I glanced at Max over my shoulder. He was smitten. He smiled at her happily when she called him daddy. I think Max and I were both a little surprised at how quickly she just accepted him. I motioned for Max to sit at the side of the bed with me. He came over and sat down on my right, and we both looked at her as she gazed at both of us with hope in her eyes. “Baby, I’m not gonna lie to you. I know you already believe Max is your daddy, and I would have a hell of a time convincing you otherwise. Yes, he is your dad…but he’s been gone for a very long time, and I’m not sure he can stay very long.” She stopped smiling. “Why?” “Well, it’s…he’s…” I didn’t know what to say. Max interrupted. “It’s because I have a job and it’s very far away. I would rather be here with you, but I don’t have a choice about my job. I make lots of important decisions and I have to be there to make those decisions.” “Well, can you quit?” “Maybe…it kind of depends on someone else’s decision.” He glanced at me. I didn’t look at him, but saw him out of the corner of my eye. “You can’t quit? Someone else has to say you can quit?” “Yep, that’s kind of how it works. I actually want to quit, but I’m waiting for this person to tell me if that’s okay.” I didn’t want to hear any longer about how this was my decision. I could be happy, she could be miserable. She could be happy, I could be miserable. “For right now, we need to just accept that he will probably be leaving in a little while.” Her lips began to tremble as she whimpered, “Okay.” “Honey, don’t be sad. It’s not your fault.” She didn’t say anything, but began to cry very quietly. Max felt that I needed to comfort her, not him. He had already let her begin to like him. He needed to stay away. The less he saw of her, the less painful his departure. I kissed her on the head and cheek, and hugged her. Over my shoulder, she saw Max getting up to leave. “Don’t leave!” She cried. Max stopped. He turned around to look at her. Only the nightlight was on, and it’s dim shine reflected off of the tears in Max’s eyes. He stood there for a moment, in thought. With a quick decision, he walked over to the bed. He leaned down to hug her and she sat up into his arms. “If you’re my daddy then don’t leave.” She whimpered. He pulled her away from himself and looked her in the eyes. He knew that she would know he was not lying if he looked her in the face. “I love you. I want to be with you, okay, but I don’t know if I can be. I’m gonna make sure nobody can hurt you, and then I might have to go. But don’t forget that I love you.” He kissed her forehead and with that, he stood quickly and left the room before he started to cry. Katie watched him leave and kept crying quietly, occasionally whimpering and sniffling to catch her breath. It was more than I could handle. I leaned toward her and held her. She held me and we cried. If my daughter’s heart was breaking, my heart was breaking. Simple as that. After a while, she laid back onto her pillow and calmed down. I sat on her bed beside her, and stroked my fingers through her hair until she fell asleep. When she finally did, I crept out of the room and went up to my room. I didn’t stop to say goodnight to anyone. I walked into my room and laid on my bed immediately. I closed my eyes, and every time I saw Katie’s face in my mind, I cried.

Chapter 25

I woke late the next morning. I didn’t need to be to work until 3:00 pm. I got up and headed to the kitchen. Katie was up. Maria had fixed her a bowl of cereal, and was eating one herself. I decided to do the same. We all three sat and ate our breakfasts. Everyone else was either still sleeping or out and about. Hard to tell who was coming and who was going. My house was now officially a zoo. Sure, some of them could stay at Shawn and Ava’s, or Alex and Kyle’s, but they hadn’t said that anyone could come to stay at their places. I wasn’t going to bug them about it either. Alex, Kyle, Shawn, and Ava were over here all the time anyway. Sometimes I wonder if their places have been rented out to other people. I sort of like it with nine other people around me and my daughter, constantly. I feel safer than I have in a long time. I heard feet shuffling in the living room. Shawn and Ava were heading for the door. It was 10:40 am. “Where are you going?” I asked. “We’re just going shopping and then out to lunch. You wanna come? You’re welcome to.” Ava said, as Shawn opened the door for her. “No, that’s alright. I was just curious. Lately, I just want to know where my friends are,” I said, and smiled. She nodded and they left. Maria gave me a nervous look when I turned my attention back to the table. She looked like she was about to say something, but then she looked down at her cereal. “What?” I said. “Huh? Oh. I was gonna say…umm, nothing. I, I forgot.” She continued eating for a moment, and then stood up and took her bowl to the sink.

Shawn and Ava were sitting on the grass in a park, eating. A half crumpled paper bag was on the ground in between them. Ava finished her deli sandwich. She looked at Shawn, who hadn’t taken more than a few bites of his sandwich. “Not hungry?” she asked. “Oh, no. Not really, I guess.” he replied, seemingly in a daydream. “That’s weird…for you, I mean. Normally a meal this size is an afternoon snack. Not to criticize you or anything, but you can normally pack it away.” She was trying to get him to look at her by leaning in front of him. “Yeah.” he said, absently. “Shawn, are you okay?” He seemed to break from his trance-like state. He looked at her face now. “I’m sorry. I guess my mind was wandering.” She leaned over and kissed him, long and slow. “Well, pay attention to me.” she demanded. “I was. I was just thinking about you. I guess that’s kind of silly when you’re sitting right next to me.” “Yeah.” Ava said with sarcasm. “I love you.” Shawn said. “I love you, too.” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder. For a moment they just sat there, listening to the park. Shawn took a deep breath, and gave it his best shot. “Ava, I’ve been thinking a lot about…we’ve known each other for a long time…” he took another deep breath. He started over. “I love you, and I’ve been thinking about where I’ll be in ten years. I imagined different scenarios, you know, different possibilities. The thing is, every one of them scared me.” At this, she looked at him intently. “Is something wrong?” she asked him. “No! No, actually everything is great. It’s…the best it’s ever been. But that’s what scares me. Things change. People change. Life changes. And my life is great right now, but I wouldn’t mind it changing, for the most part. There’s just one thing that I don’t want to change, and it scares me to think that it ever would.” He paused for dramatic effect. “In every future that I imagined for myself, it worried me to think that you might not be there.” Suddenly, Ava tackled Shawn to the ground. He fell on his back and she sat on his stomach, straddling him. “What the hell?” he said, laughing. He looked up at her face against the background of nothing but blue sky. She leaned down and kissed him until he forgot what he had been trying to ask her. When she pulled away, she looked down at him. “I will never leave you. Never. In fact, you would have to try really hard to get rid of me.” Shawn remembered what was on his mind. “Then marry me. Just marry me, and we’ll always be together.” He reached around her thigh into his pocket and pulled out a beautiful ring. “I’ve been trying to ask you this for a long time. I’ve had this ring for two months, but things have been kind of crazy and I wasn’t sure how to ask you.” Tears filled her eyes. No one had ever treated her as good as Shawn. No one had ever loved as much as Shawn, and she had never loved anyone as much as she loved Shawn. “Yes. Okay, yes. I love you so much.” She laughed out of pure happiness and they kissed and kissed.

They drove home (my house) to tell everyone. On the way home she just kept looking at Shawn and then her ring. “I can’t wait to show Liz and Serena my ring!” she said excitedly. Shawn didn’t tell her that I had already seen it.

Katie was playing in her room. Alex and Kyle had gone to run some errands. Max and Company were in the living room. Serena and I were in my bedroom talking while I was getting ready for work. I needed to leave within the next hour and a half, but I was getting ready now because I had nothing else to do. Things were a little different now between Max and I, not much, but a little. We talked more often and less hostile. However, we still spent most of our time on the opposite ends of the house. “I should come with you.” Serena said to me as I was putting my shoes on. “I’m fine, Serena. Yes, I’ve been a little scared since the whole thing with Alex, but he did kill at least one of them. We have Max and Co. downstairs, and I really think that they need to be here to protect Katie. You don’t need to come with me. I’ll only be alone for about an hour while I prep the kitchen.” “I don’t care, you shouldn’t be alone!” she said, firmly. “Fine, come with me. You can help me I suppose.” We heard the door open and slam shut downstairs. “Liz! Serena! Come here!” came Ava’s voice from below.

We came downstairs to see Shawn and Ava standing in the living room, smiling, while Max and everybody looked at them with some excitement. “What’s going on?” I asked as I came down the stairs, but when I saw Ava’s face I knew exactly what had happened. “We’re getting married!” she practically shouted, shooting her hand out towards me and Serena to show us the ring. It did look very beautiful on her. “I can’t believe it!” Serena said. “Wow, I didn’t know you guys were that serious.” Isabel said, examining the ring. Everyone exchanged the proper compliments and congratulations and thanks.

Serena and I headed to the restaurant to get things ready for opening. We got everything ready just fine, with no “abnormal trouble”. I really think Serena is just being a little paranoid, or over protective. I suppose it’s nice to know she cares. The place was packed, as usual. Lots of business people, rich people, and people who just wanted to be where it was happening. Kyle wasn’t there that night. He deserved a few nights off. Shawn and Alex needed some days off too, but I was only giving one of them days off at a time. The place usually clears out pretty quick around 10:30 or 11:00. Shawn is closing with me tonight. Alex dropped him off when he picked Serena up. The night went pretty fast. All of the waitress’s had left and the last of kitchen crew was just leaving. I was almost ready to go. Shawn was making a drink at the bar and asked if I wanted one. It’s great even though me, Kyle, and Alex now have alien genes we can still have a drink without it affecting us. But if we drink more than one or two drinks we start to feel weird. So we don’t drink that often. I finished up and sat down at the bar with Shawn and we talked a little bit about different places to have the wedding. He wanted everything absolutely perfect for Ava. We finished our drinks and were heading back into the kitchen to go out the back door. I opened the door halfway and turned to ask Shawn to shut off the lights in the kitchen. The door burst open so hard that it knocked me into Shawn and we both fell to the ground. Michael and Isabel walked in and stood over both of us. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was not the real Michael and Isabel. Michael knelt by Shawn and Isabel knelt by me. They bent down and put their foreheads on our foreheads. We both just lay there, stricken with numbness and fear. A nauseating pain went through my mind and Shawn’s. As soon as it started, it was over. They stood and walked out the door, disappearing into the alley. For a moment, we just laid there. Not sure what just happened or what to do, we slowly stood up. We walked out the door, leaving the lights on, and got into the car. As I started the car, we looked at each other. I put it into drive and headed home.

Chapter 26

The whole world seemed quiet. Shawn and I sat quietly in the car, saying nothing as we passed cars, buildings, and people. I couldn’t think. “Shawn? Did you turn the lights off, or did we just…leave with…do you remember?” I asked, feeling very disoriented. “No, I’m sure we should just get to the…house. I can’t, um, what time is it?” he asked, trying to read the digital clock in the car. “We’re almost home, I’m sure. Did something weird happen right before we left? My mind seems so…blank.” I said. Shawn stared straight ahead at the road and did not answer my question. He didn’t even look like he had heard me. I thought nothing of it, and soon forgot that I had even asked him anything. My brain was playing tricks on me or something. Had I even said anything since we left the restaurant? What did…did I really say anything out loud? Did Shawn speak, or was I just remembering something he had said the day before? Was it still the same day? It had to be. We closed down the restaurant, shut the lights off, locked the door, and started driving home. We are still driving home. We are going home. I sat for a while staring out the windshield. My house suddenly appeared through the trees, and I sat up. Something in me was very anxious to be inside that house…my house. Shawn turned to me. “There it is. There’s the house. See?” he said. We pulled up to the house and parked. Shawn turned the car off. Silence. We both sat there, looking at the house. We weren’t hesitating, we were thinking. We were…at least I think we were talking to each other without really saying anything. It was like we were both synchronizing our minds…or something. But, at the same time, I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t let myself know what I was thinking about. “Let’s go.”

At the front door we stood for a moment. For some reason, I knocked. The thought that this was my house struggled towards the front of my mind from somewhere in the way back. Realization hit me and I took out my keys, unlocked the door, and opened it. Just as I did, Max was coming towards the door to answer it. “Oh. I thought I heard someone knock. Did you knock?” Max said, looking at us strangely. “Oh…um, oh. Hello. No, we just…nope. I didn’t knock. Did you?” I asked with confusion on my face. Max looked at me funny and smiled. He laughed. “Me? No, no, I was ‘inside’. You need to get some sleep, I think.” He shook his head and turned to go back to bed. “Goodnight guys.” he said, his voice trailing off into half-sleep as he laid back down on the couch. Isabel was passed out on the loveseat. We stood there with the door still open behind us. “Were you gonna come inside and shut the door?” Max asked. Saying nothing, we shut the door and started to walk through the living room. “Liz? Do you mind if I take Kate to get ice cream or something tomorrow?” I stopped and turned around. “You can’t. She won’t be here.” That just came out of my mouth…huh. I turned and walked out of the living room. Max didn’t say anything, but rolled over and went to sleep. Shawn did not follow me. He sat in a recliner, opposite of Max, and stared. As I went into the kitchen, I thought about where everyone was tonight. Michael and Maria were at Kyle and Alex’s, as were Kyle and Alex. Isabel on the loveseat, Max on the couch. Serena was in her room. Ava was at her and Shawn’s. Okay. At the moment I just needed to know where everyone was. Something caught my eye. One of my larger chef-knives lay in the sink. Perfectly clean. I picked it up and examined it. Hmm. Someone used my knife and rinsed it off and put it in the sink. I don’t know why this fascinated me. Suddenly the phone rang. Shawn answered the phone in the living room before it rang a second time. He spoke softly. “Hello? Hi, Alex. No, everything’s fine. Yeah, I’m keeping an eye on everything. Max is right here in front of me. No, he’s sleeping. Katie? Liz is checking on her right now…Alex, calm down! Yes, it’s…it’s fine. We’re fine! Look, I’ll call you if anything at all happens. Yes, I…uh huh…yeah, I’ll call you if I hear so much as a twig snap outside the window. Okay. Yep. Okay, bye.” He hung up the phone and looked at me as I stood in the doorway to the living room. He smiled. I walked passed him and towards Katie’s room. My mind was so completely blank. Couldn’t think about anything but where I was, and who I was. I couldn’t think of why…anything. Katie’s door was opened halfway, and I slipped in quietly. She was sleeping on her back, with a stuffed bunny at her side. I sat down on the bed next to her. She was so cute. Everything is fine. I’m okay. I looked at the knife in my hand, again. So clean.

Shawn sat calmly and quietly in the recliner. He stared at Max, who had just moved around a little bit…he was trying to get comfortable. He rolled over, facing Shawn. He moaned a couple times…still asleep. His eyes fluttered open. Seemingly startled, he noticed Shawn. “Shawn? What are you doing?” he asked. “I’m fine, I’m just keeping an eye on…things. Liz is just checking on Katie.” He stared back at Shawn for a moment. “You seem to be keeping an eye on me. You’re kind of creeping me out.” Shawn said nothing.

I sat staring at her face and her neck. So soft. I felt the skin on her neck. I spoke softly to myself. “Kaitlyn. Your sleeping aren’t you? Momma loves you. You’re so cute, and so soft.” I looked at the knife. It looked really pretty with the moonlight on it. Shiny silvery metal. Metal against her peach skin. So soft, so clean. Moonlit, silvery metal…soft, moonlit, peach skin. I held the beautiful blade against her neck to see the pretty contrast of colors. It was breathtaking. Red. Silvery metal, moonlit peach, and red would look very pretty. Beautiful, deep, blood-red.