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Oct 23, 2020

Science Fiction

                                          

                        The Finding                                                         

                         John Meiners, Jr.

    Pamela Lawton welcomes and invites Samantha, Jesse, and Monroe in. They all have a seat in the den. Samantha and Jesse have now taken up residence in Community. Samantha has taken a leave of absence from her law office and Jesse from his agency. Both are fortunate to have associates they can trust. Samantha who writes science fiction hopes to be inspired. They have spent a peaceful, quiet two weeks in their new home, unlike their first trip to Community to investigate the killing of a hunter perpetrated by an alien who changes to a deer. The population in Community has a majority of aliens who escaped from Area 51 in 1959. Samantha remembers when Jesse Gunn and she first came to Community and his reluctance even to entertain the possibility of the alien story being true.  All that changed after he was shot with a tranquilizer.  Days later, someone tried to give him an injection as he slept.  He gave chase, caught the assailant resulting in the assailant, a Mr. Branson's, death. Jesse, nor anyone else is sure he didn't 'Change' that night. From a skeptic to a believer in two months. Pamela Lawton is a doctor, and Jesse is under her care and doing well. They sip wine, relax. Samantha is excited. Pamela Lawton who was 24 when they migrated to Louisiana told her she would share some stories.   

     Mrs. Lawton asks Jesse if he feels well and then turns to Samantha and asks, "I told you I had a story or two for you didn't I?"

     Samantha looks at her, and in fear of sounding like an excited school girl hides excitement and calmly says, "Yes, yes you did. I would love to hear one."

     Pamela Lawton with a look of melancholy begins. "I was 17 when scientists, my father being one, detected an asteroid heading toward our planet. My mother and father kept it from me. They didn't want to disrupt my studies. Mother was a doctor, and I was becoming one.   I became suspicious when they were talking, and I walked in. Suddenly they stopped talking. One day Mother took me aside, told me an asteroid was on a collision course with the planet, and there was nothing they could do. The planet had approximately three years left. Scientists around the planet were working to find a solution. Space travel was ahead of earth. We had traveled and explored a few planets and Earth, being one, was chosen. It was capable of sustaining our life. My father worked in the space travel agency, much like NASA. Secretly they were working on mass production of craft to travel to other worlds, but there was no time. Unfortunately the calculations were off. The asteroid blocked the sun, and the temperature dropped. Many people died, and those that were able to leave left in unfit craft. Some made it to close planets, barely able to sustain life... Mrs. Lawton takes a deep breath, clearly emotional. The number of survivors will never be known. Sorry, took me back... One would think after all this time." Samantha touches her hand and is answered with a smile. Mrs. Lawton continues, "Anyway I'm here. Along with 42 others. We made it." Mrs. Lawton looks affectionately at Monroe. "Your parents." Monroe has become emotional and in a trembling voice tells Mrs. Lawton, "Thank you."

     Jesse tells Pamela Lawton. "You may have kept your world alive. Something to be proud of."

     Samantha remembers the picture Monroe showed her of Oscar Flemings and her grandfather. Oscar Flemings was the man who led the aliens to Community. She entertains the thought that maybe she is part alien. She likes the idea and wonders what it would be like. She feels sure if she were, surely her grandfather would have told her and heard stories. There would be no reason to hide it. She finds the thought intriguing, but dismisses it. However, this is her opportunity to find out about the picture, and she asks, "Mrs. Lawton, Monroe showed me a picture of Oscar Flemings and my grandfather. I was wondering how they met."

     Pamela Lawton looks closely at Samantha, puzzled she turns to Monroe.

     "Her grandfather was Samuel Slade."

     For a moment a woman seldom at a loss for words,  has nothing to say, then asks, "Samuel Slade... Was your grandfather?"

     "Yes, Ma'am."

     Pamela Lawton takes a deep breath, and says, "You're right Jesse, I got Samuel Slade here and without him, You wouldn't have Samantha."

Pamela sees Samantha is shocked and realizes Samantha's eagerness to learn more about the aliens, was not because she heard stories from her grandfather. It is apparent she's heard none, not from him anyway. He kept the fact he was an alien from her. "You didn't know, did you, Dear?"

     Samantha shakes her head. She is shocked, puzzled, happy, and flooded with emotions. Not the least being anger. She feels cheated by her grandfather... the knowledge, the stories... Why?

     Her expression is read by Mrs. Lawton, and she tells her. "There are those who came with us who chose to walk away and assimilate more fully. It was their choice. Don't judge them too harshly. They did it for family, security... a myriad of reasons."

     Monroe says, "Samantha, I wondered if you might have alien blood, but I didn't know. I'm sorry."

     "It's fine." Samantha looks at Pamela Lawton and adds, "Well, I'm in the right place now to find out all about it."

     Mrs. Lawton smiles, assures her, "Indeed you are."    

     Samantha's excitement about hearing stories turned out to be more than expected. Jesse looks at her with a hint of sympathy and uncertainty then smiles and thinks, 'what a couple we are. I may be becoming an alien, and she already is.'

     Pamela Lawton asks, "Would you like to hear about your Grandfather?"

     "I would."

     "Your Grandfather was nine when we arrived in Community."

     "And my grandmother?"

     "He met her in Mandeville. I believe when he was twenty-one."     

     Monroe's phone rings. He answers... "Hello." Attention is turned to him as the alarm spreads and builds on his face then lingers as he listens. For what seems an eternity, his face never changes. Finally he speaks, "You all right?...  I'll call Officer Jones. Tell him get out there." Monroe is off and on the phone again before they can ask anything. "Officer Jones two men threw Candy's fiancee', Simon, into a blue Cadillac SUV. Claire Boje' saw what happened...   She's all right. Where are you?...    Good...   Why don't you pick her up, and she'll show you where it happened... Let me know." As Monroe gets off the phone and before anyone can ask, 'What happened?', Monroe is on the phone again. "John?...    Monroe Cane, we had a kidnapping, dark blue Cadillac SUV. Set up a road block on Farm Road 33 coming out of Community and alert local police of the situation in Slidell, Mandeville, St. Francisville, everybody...    Right, dark blue Cadillac SUV. I owe you." Now off the phone he quickly tells them. "A woman named Claire Boje' saw two men throw Simon in a car after they shot him with a tranquillizer gun. She recognized Simon. We have to go." A wave goodbye to Pamela Lawton then Monroe, Samantha, and Jesse are speeding down the Shell Road. Jesse wonders if he used to race. Monroe takes phone out, calls,... "Where are you?...  She's with you?...  Good...  Gonna be dark soon, better begin finding...    Find that SUV." Monroe clicks phone off, takes a deep breath and worried, tells Jesse and Samantha, "God knows what they're doing. We gotta find him fast."

     Jesse tells Monroe, "They might be hiding out in a remote area, even have a lab set up. If we can get aliens to help, we can change and move fast, cover a lot of ground." 

     Samantha asks Monroe, "Do you think we are looking for someone from Community? Someone familiar with the area who could conduct experiments undetected."

     Monroe is on the phone and begins speaking almost as Samantha utters her last word. "Paul,... Monroe. Listen can you get the names of everyone who works in a medical facility in Community, Covington, La Combe, any facility close by especially if they have any connections to Community through relatives or property ownership... Addresses...                Yeah, I'll get back with you, tell you why." Monroe is off phone and tells Jesse and Samantha. "You're right. It's what we call 'Finding.' We cover an area. Officer Jones is alerting over a hundred as we speak. When it gets dark we'll begin. Hopefully we have leads." 

     They meet Officer Jones and Claire Boje' in an out of the way parking lot and plan the "Finding." It's one of four staging areas and Officer Jones will take three to four houses believed to be remote.

 Claire tells them, "Simon fought back while they put him in the car. He's a big man, and the tranquillizer hadn't worked yet. I'm sure they didn't see me, and no mistake, it was Simon they were after." 

 As plans reach conclusion, aliens, some changed, some not, filter in from the surrounding trees' edge. As dusk descends, the deer numbers grow and eyes glow from the dark of the woods before they walk into what is left of the light. Samantha is taken back when the glow is not a deer, but a mountain lion. She looks at Jesse, and he smiles like a child on Christmas morning. The numbers are deemed sufficient to begin, and Jesse is taken back to his Army days. This is not a hit and miss, 'let's go find someone.' It is organized not unlike platoons with officers, sergeants and the rest. Orders are given, and they move out, quickly and silently. If anything of interest is found, orders are, 'No action until backup arrives.' Six communication scouts move out while Monroe, Samantha, and Jesse bring up the rear. The route they are on has four houses, believed abandoned.   

   Thirty minutes later the first house searched was judged inhabitable only by the area's wildlife. Little time was spent there, and all moved on to the second house. It at least had doors. Monroe, Samantha, and Jesse stand at the tree line and observe. Jesse who was trained in combat, takes advantage of the great vantage point and scans the trees for movement. There may not be snipers, but there could be scouts watching. Jesse believes he sees movement. He points, gestures for quiet. They watch, see nothing then continue watching remaining still. Finding nothing, the finding begins to move out. Moments later, as the last disappear into the trees, a mountain lion is seen coming down the tree and takes off.

    Jesse says, "I've got to go after him."

    Monroe tells him, "You can't."

    Almost simultaneously Samantha chimes in, "No, Jesse."

    "I'll be okay. I love you." Jesse runs off following the mountain lion.

     Samantha yells, "Jesse." She looks at Monroe and frantically, says, "You've have to go with him."

     "Can you catch up to the finding?" Monroe is conflicted whether to go after Jesse and leave Samantha.

     "Yes, Go! Go!"

     Monroe nods and realizes the mountain lion and Jesse were heading in the direction of house four close to Belle Rive. He quickly tells her, "Tell Officer Jones to go to house four. Monroe and Jesse are going to house four." Off they both go. Monroe after Jesse and a mountain lion while Samantha sprints to catch the finding. Monroe changes and is sure he will be able to catch Jesse, but as he runs, he thinks of Jesse, his alien situation and wonders, feels unsure, but runs on.

     Samantha runs and wishes her alien blood was enough to change her to a fleet footed deer, but as she huffs and puffs, she knows it's not going to happen, not now anyway. She picks up her pace.

     Monroe is older than Jesse, but if Jesse runs as a man and Monroe as a mountain lion, even though older, he should have caught him by now.

At least caught a glimpse of him.

     Meanwhile the finding led by Officer Jones is closing in on the area of house three. The pace slows, but a designated few, with military precision steam ahead. 

     Samantha trips once or twice but is undeterred. House three is a little over two miles away, and she's happy she ran in a few 3.2 mile Fun Runs although "Fun" is an oxymoron. Samantha fights to stay on their trail. They are spread out moving silently, and though they travel quickly, luckily it isn't at full speed. The only thing she is sure of is, she's going in the right direction.

     Monroe arrives at house four but sees nothing. He looks cautiously and sees a figure peering through the window. He's not sure if it's Jesse. Cautiously and silently he studies the figure. No movement is seen. He changes positions moving closer but remains cloaked among the trees. He moves again searching for a better vantage point, while staying silent, but startles a bird, maybe two, into screeching through the otherwise quiet night. Suddenly he crouches down, as a figure turns whose eyes shine piercing the night. Monroe knows that glow. He's seen it many times. Others no doubt have seen it when he turned his gaze toward them. The figure finally turns back toward the window. Suddenly the figure moves back from the window, quickly runs, and crashes through the window. Monroe must move with urgency. The figure he realizes must be Jesse. Monroe is less than 50 yards from the now open window and reaches it in seconds. He discovers Simon tied up, and Jesse fighting to keep a mountain lion at bay. Monroe jumps through the window as a man throws an accelerant into the room which immediately bursts into flames. The same man then runs quickly spreading flames throughout the rest of the house. The mountain lion runs out after the man, not to catch him, but to escape the flames. Monroe and Jesse turn from the flames and see  Candy undoing the straps which bind Simon to the gurney. They rush to help as smoke and flames engulf the room. They all spill out the window, coughing.  Candy, Jesse, and Monroe try to clear their heads as they drag Simon away from the burning inferno then fall to the ground.

     Jesse strains to his feet, "I'm going after him."

     A nod of acknowledgement is all Monroe can muster as Jesse stumbles, gains his balance and is off.

     Monroe and Candy tend to Simon. His breathing seems normal. Candy cradles Simon stroking his head. Monroe tells her, "I'd better go help Jesse."

     Candy looks shocked, says, "That was Jesse?"

     "Yes,... I know..." Monroe tells her, understanding her surprise. "Better go." Monroe is off.

     Candy takes a deep breath, kisses Simon, hugs him and cries, happy and relieved he's safe.

     Officer Jones and Samantha see house four burning. Some of the finding was sent around the perimeter to prevent escape, though by the size of the blaze in the distance all are gone or dead. Officer Jones as well as Samantha have a sinking feeling as they scan the area brightly lit by the fire. By now Jesse and Monroe should be there. They continue slowly  edging toward the inferno keeping out of sight. It's unknown who they might encounter. Ten minutes later Samantha notices smaller fires. She tries to put the thought that they could be bodies out of her mind. Once at the house she is horrified. They are bodies, and each is burned beyond recognition. 

     Officer Jones tells Samantha, "Nothing says one of these bodies is Jesse... or Monroe."

     Samantha nods with fear written on her face. They walk toward the other side of the house, and a voice calls out, 'Jones, Jones.' Candy sits with Simon's head in her lap. They run to her.

     Officer Jones alarmed asks, "Simon?" 

     Candy nods, "I believe he's fine."

     "Have you seen Jesse and Monroe?" Samantha is worried.

     "They were here. We carried Simon out. Jesse went after someone, and Monroe followed."

     "So they got away from the fire?"

     Candy nods, answers, "They ran off in that direction." 

     "Belle Rive." Officer Jones looks toward river. 

     "Yes."

     Simon starts to stir, coughs. They all look and smile. Samantha smiles and tells Candy, "He's going to be fine." Candy nods, tries not to worry. 

     Samantha hopes Jesse will walk up any minute and put a stop to the unbearable ache she feels. Her gaze rests in the direction of the Belle Rive. Officer Jones consoles her. Samantha turns and looks at Candy as she strokes Simon's cheek. Samantha knows all too well how she feels. Simon is taken along with Candy to the hospital for observation and as she leaves tells Samantha, "Jesse will be back soon." Samantha watches as they leave. 

     Jesse walks up unseen, says, "Samantha." She turns and flings her arms around him. Monroe stands by.

     Monroe tells Officer Jones. "He got away."

     "You and Jesse okay?"

     "Good." Monroe shakes his head at the site of the burned rubble and says, "Wish I got a better look at him. Find them, they'll kill everyone, even their own."

     Officer Jones asks, "Alien?"

     "A man when I saw him."

     Samantha says, "Well, Simon is safe."

     "He sure is, and Candy saved him. Jesse and I had our hands full. She got those straps off, and if she hadn't, we all may have died in the fire."

     Officer Jones calls to all in the findings, speaks one word. "Disperse."

     Samantha takes Jesse's hand. "Let's go home." A weary Jesse, nods.

     Officer Jones quietly asks Monroe, "Jesse changed?"

     "Changed into something," Monroe says softly. 

     They along with all the findings filter back into the trees and the darkness of night then begin their trek home.    

                             The End         

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