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Nov 06, 2020

Science Fiction

                             The Change

                                 by

                          John Meiners, Jr.

     It's ten o'clock in the morning, and Jesse is still asleep.  Last night was exhausting. Samantha feels great Simon was saved. Candy really was the one who saved him. Candy was with the other shape shifters out looking for Simon in an organized search effort called the Finding and  overheard Samantha tell Officer Jones that Jesse and Monroe were on the way to house four to look for Simon. Candy took off on her own at full speed which broke the rules of the Finding no doubt, but her fiancée Simon's life was at stake. Samantha relives the moment when Candy raced into the burning house to pull Simon out of the inferno then afterward witnessed her sitting with her love's head cradled in her lap as she stroked his head. It was a beautiful painting come to life, and Samantha becomes emotional at the thought. Last night she learned she's part alien and doesn't know what it all means. She's hurt that her grandfather kept it all from her, but her main concern now is Jesse. As he sleeps, she sips coffee keeping vigil. She will not wake him, but waits for him to wake up. Samantha is worried. After the trek back home late last night, exhaustion had hit them all, but it hit Jesse the worst. Samantha drove them home, and if memory serves, that was the first time. Jesse has always been her protector. He likes the role, and she smiles, for truth be known, she's quite fond of Jesse being her protector too. Now it seems the roles have reversed.

     She remembers Jesse saying, "I'm a bad ass cougar." She continues watching and waiting for Jesse to wake up.

     At Deer Run Lodge, Officer Jones sits with Monroe Cane in his office. Monroe is stiff and sore from the previous night's activities. Two to three mile runs and fighting with mountain lions is not part of Monroe's normal activity, and he's feeling it. Simon is safe, and that's a win, but there's a bad guy out there still on the loose.

     Monroe tells Officer Jones, "I saw him. Looked right at him, but there was so much smoke. He threw two accelerants. The first went flying over me toward Simon, and by the time I looked toward the man, he had thrown another. I saw him through that smoke. It wasn't clear, but I think it was Neville Dugat... I'm just not sure."

     "Neville Dugat, my God."

     "Yeah. Anyway he ran out. Jesse and I turned to Simon, and by then Candy had untied him. We put Simon through the window and got him away from the house. Jesse took off after the man. I followed, but it was too late. The Belle Rive was a hundred and fifty yards from the house, and he was gone when we reached the river. The Finding located footprints and the indentions of one canoe, no doubt meant only for him to escape. I'm sure if they should be discovered, the plan was to kill all witnesses even if some were their own."

     "Looks that way. I think there were three houses burning when Samantha and I first arrived. When it's known Simon was saved, he'll be in danger."

     "As well as the ones who saved him."

     Officer Jones nods in agreement. 

     Samantha watches Jesse. She contemplates calling a doctor, but then Jesse begins to stir. She jumps up, goes to him. "Jesse... Jesse? How do you feel?"

     "Good... Hungry. What time is it?"

     "Almost eleven."

     "You okay?"

     "I'm fine."

     "I crashed. How did we get home?"

     "I drove from Pamela Lawton's."

     "Everyone okay? Did Simon wake up?"

     "Not yet. They're watching him. His vitals are good."

     "Have you talked to Monroe today?"

     "He called. I said you were sleeping and told him we'd come over when you woke up. I wanted you to rest."

     Jesse sees the worry in her face and asks, "What's wrong?"

     Samantha is reluctant to say anything. She actually doesn't know where to start and even questions their move to Community. Last night really made her think.

     In her silence, Jesse's concern grows, "Talk to me."

     "Coming here to Community. Last night I was so worried."

     "I'm fine, really."

     Samantha upset says, "For now. What about tomorrow? All this was my idea. 'Let's go to Community and maybe get some inspiration for a story, about aliens.' I was only thinking of myself, my opportunity to write a book. Now people are shooting you with tranquillizers, trying to do experiments on you or kill you. Last night you were fighting with a mountain lion and was almost burned alive. The repercussions of our move..."

     "Wait, You're right. It was your idea to first come here, but we both came, and we both became involved. We both were asked to help. We were both asked to move here. You didn't decide. We both decided. Community is in need, and we have friends who need us."

     "I love you."

     "I know. I love you too... Don't worry, I'm a bad ass cougar."           

     "You told me that. Maybe that's what worries me."

     "You have nothing to feel guilty about"...

     Samantha nods and says, "Go get a shower, and we'll go see Monroe."

     Later on Jesse and Samantha drive toward Deer Run Lodge. They enjoy the peaceful atmosphere as they travel by numerous bayous while turtles sun themselves on banks and logs, and a soft breeze gently moves the leaves in trees. It was a far cry from last night when all hell broke loose. It's the first time back to Deer Run Lodge since they took up residence in Community. They go around back and park, check to see no one is watching, knock on the back door, and Monroe lets them in. They are surprised to find Pamela Lawton there. 

     Mrs. Lawton asks Jesse, "How do you feel?"

     "Tired. But okay."

     "Monroe told me you changed last night. Actually shape shifted."

     "I did."  

     "What do you remember about last night? When you changed?"

     Jesse answers, "It's hard to explain. I knew I needed to catch the mountain lion, and it just happened. Nothing I really did or was conscience of."

     Samantha and Jesse both see the worry in her eyes. Samantha wonders 'What now?' She has been in a constant state of fear and worry for two days straight now, not to mention the other days that occurred sporadically. She's a lawyer and a tough woman but longs for some glimmer of positive hopeful news. She is weary and asks, "What is this about?" Samantha wants full disclosure so to speak. She's concerned about Jesse and does not want to be in the dark. 

     Pamela Lawton asks Samantha, "Did you see Jesse?"

     "When he had changed? No, by the time I arrived, he was back to himself."  

     Pamela Lawton shows them a picture. "Monroe drew this picture of you, Jesse. This is what you changed into."

     "That's me? I didn't change to a cougar? What the hell is that?"

     "It's looks like part drakar and part mountain lion."

     "What is a drakar?" Samantha asks.

     "They lived on our planet." 

     "They migrated here from Area 51 with you?"

     "No, no. Not as far as I know." Pamela Lawton quickly explains, "I'm not saying they are here. There is a similarity, but most likely that is as far as it goes."

     Jesse chimes in, "But it's possible? You said, 'as far as I know."

     "It is possible. The drakars looked like us with the exception of the change."        

     Samantha looks at the drawing, takes a deep breath and asks, "What does this mean?"

     Pamela answers, "Only that it is something to rule out. I'll look at Jesse's blood and see if there is anything I missed, but I don't think there is. The similarity is a coincidence, but if someone from my planet is here, they are part of those we need to find."

     Samantha of course is concerned primarily about the effects of all this on Jesse and asks, "So this doesn't change Jesse's prognosis?"

     "No toxic agent was found in Jesse's blood, and that hasn't changed. However, to be honest, I am concerned with Jesse's change. I was expecting the doesonear drug he was given to dissipate. No one witnessed the first change. Was the change complete, partial? What animal Monroe described from last night was part mountain lion with some characteristics of a drakar. Was that change more complete or less then the first?"

     "Could I be in the process of becoming more of a mountain lion or a drakar?" Jesse asks.

     "Either is possible," answers Mrs. Lawton.

     Samantha asks, "What is the treatment?" 

     "We remove all doesonear, and any other aggressive agent from his blood."

     Samantha is relieved hearing about removing drugs from Jesse's blood so Jesse can be himself again and asks, "Then Jesse would never change again?"

     Jesse, with the thought of losing his protective mountain lion status, is not pleased. He is surprised at his feelings.

     Samantha is concerned about the treatment, "Is it safe?"

     Pamela Lawton assures Samantha it is safe and would put an end to the changing, but there is another scenario that may be in play. Pamela tells them and says, "I'd like to have another look at your blood, Jesse, and I'll tell you why. The fact you changed into what Monroe described in his picture causes me to think perhaps the doesonear and other agents are responsible, due to the presence of alien blood." 

     "In me?" Jesse is surprised.

     "Yes."

     Monroe chimes in, "Mrs. Lawton and I talked about this before you both arrived. It's possible a drakar not known to be present on the migration to Louisiana made the trip. Also there may be others who were disenchanted with the migration or wanted to leave Community to immerse themselves into the human world such as your Grandfather, Samuel Slade, Samantha. We will try to account for those who left Community out of the original number and see what we come up with. Jesse, if you give us a family tree or any information about your relatives, we'll see if any match up."

     Jesse seems to perk up at the idea of being part alien. "I'll do it."

     Pamela joins in, "I will look into journals and notes in my possession which might furnish more information."

     "These drakar, did they live among you? Were they enemies, friends?" Jesse is curious.

     Samantha asks, "Were they not allowed to come with you?"

     "The drakar were neither better nor worse than us. No one was excluded from our escape, but some were more fortunate. They lived in Osteo across the great sea of Vuage, and there were few in our city. In school, I was lucky enough to have an Osteoan as a friend. We were close. Our people were never at odds, but our beliefs were very different."

     Samantha says, "You and your friend were familiar with one another's change, and that's why you recognized Monroe's drawing. No one here in Community ever saw an Osteoan?"

     "To my knowledge, I am the only one. Now... I'm not sure."

     The writer in Samantha is enthralled with the story even though she is concerned about Jesse's possible new identity while Jesse is interested in learning more about the possibility of his having alien blood. Monroe is interested but wants to find out more about the man who escaped last night. Monroe has already talked to Candy this morning warning her of more danger. She understands the ones responsible for kidnapping Simon will kill him if they get the chance. Thus far Simon remains asleep, not unusual due to his ordeal last night. Of course, Officer Jones is there with a few others keeping an eye out. Monroe waits. He would never rain on Pamela Lawton's parade. She does like to tell stories. Someone of her stature is deserving of respect besides he has to admit these stories have caught his attention. He's never heard them, and he listens intently.

     Jesse asks, "Were they lavender?"

     Pamela Lawton laughs and tells him. "I would say... seafoam."

     "Seafoam?"

     "Yes, light blue, green, hint of teal and aqua..."

     Samantha says, "Jesse, my bedroom is painted seafoam."

     Monroe feels he's listening to a conversation in a Home Depot paint department but chimes in, "My office is seafoam." Monroe's phone buzzes. "Hello"... Sudden alarm is apparent. "Don't let him out of your sight."...      "He what?"...       "Get him to the cafeteria; keep me posted." Monroe says, "Neville Dugat paid a visit to Memorial.  Let's go."

     They wave going out the door.

     Samantha turns to Pamela Lawton, "Hope they can stay out of trouble."

     "Without a woman to keep them in line?... Hope springs eternal."

     They smile, take a deep breath, and the awkward silence that could follow, didn't. Pamela Lawton asks, "Would you like to hear about my friend?"

     "Of course."

     "Well, we were both becoming physicians. We were very close."

     "Roommates?"

     "Yes."

     "Why didn't she leave with you?"

     "School was five years earlier. We kept in contact for awhile, but then we married, and as the years increased, our contact decreased." 

     "I understand, it's happened to me." 

     "Toward the end we did reconnect. I begged her to leave with us. She was married, had a child, a small boy of five. He was in school in Avante, my home. I remember the conversation as if it was yesterday... For almost a year, she had desperately tried to get him back home. Our world was being destroyed, and they wanted to all be together in the end... Transportation became hectic, and there was little to no travel. I told her to send the boy to me, and I would see that he left with us. We cried on the phone... I remember she said if she knew he could go on living, it would make her dying so much easier. She promised, saying something often said here that she would move heaven and earth to get him to me, but... She didn't. Communications failed throughout my world, and we never spoke again."

     Samantha shakes head, tears filling her eyes. "That must have been so hard."

     Pamela Lawton can only nod.

     "Would it be possible? The boy, what is his name?"

     "His name? In their language... I couldn't pronounce it, and he didn't get one here because he never made it here... It's as if he never existed... It's as if my planet never existed."...

     Sadness fills the room with the memories of her world, the loves lost, all the heartbreak. All these memories rushed through Pamela unimpeded when she spoke of them with Samantha. Samantha moves to Pamela and comforts her. Samantha cries with her and can't help but feel flattered Pamela Lawton shared such intimate stories with her. It's obvious this story is not a usual topic of discussion.        

     Monroe and Jesse pull into the parking lot and get out while keeping distance from one another. Monroe waves at Officer Jones and goes over to the table where Neville Dugat is sitting. Neville knows who Monroe is. Monroe recognizes Neville but pretends he doesn't know him. Jesse enters but sits at a different table remaining anonymous.

     Officer Jones introduces Monroe, "This is Neville Dugat. Mr. Dugat, this is Monroe Cane. Mr. Dugat was interested in buying the house on the Belle Rive that burned last night. He would like to know what happened?"

     "As would we, Mr. Dugat... as would we. I'm sure Officer Jones told you we came on the scene after the house had burned completely to the ground. We know Simon Rolette was kidnapped, and we believe he was in the house when it was set on fire. Somehow he managed to get out. He was given some sort of sleeping pill. Must have been strong, but the doctors say he'll be up soon. Should be an interesting story. I'm sorry about your house, Mr. Dugat, but you'll find another."

     "I will, Mr. Cane. I'm just happy that man is okay."

     "Oh, he is. Rest assured we'll find out who is responsible."

     Neville Dugat nods, "I hope so."

     They all shake hands. Jesse gets a good look at Neville as he leaves and sees him get into a silver Mercedes. He writes down the license number then hurries to give the number to Officer Jones. Jones calls another officer to initiate a tail. Jesse inquires if any of the hospital staff called in sick, and it's confirmed the doctors, nurses, and even janitorial staff are who they say they are. Jesse doesn't remember Neville Dugat, but Monroe is certain it was Dugat he saw last night. It was Neville he saw trying to kill Simon so he couldn't talk,  and no doubt Neville still wants Simon gone. They succeeded in making Dugat believe he wasn't seen last night. Now they must succeed in protecting Simon. A loud explosion is heard, and all three jump up. Security runs in from outside, and all in the cafeteria are told to quickly evacuate the building. Suddenly Officer Jones receives a call.

A nurse delivered a bouquet of flowers to Simon's room. Candy and the officer guarding Simon were suspicious of the delivery, and the officer threw the flowers into a vacant room two doors down then had everyone vacate the area. A few minutes later the flowers exploded. No one was hurt, but the room was totaled. Sirens are heard in the distance.

     Jesse smiles, says, "Here's the story. Simon and Candy died in the explosion. Dugat will believe it, and we keep it that way."

     "Officer Jones adds, "We'll watch him day and night."

     Monroe nods, "We'll be there when he slips up."  

                                The End    

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1 comment

Yuk Yuk
04:42 Nov 12, 2020

Good morning. I'm from the critique circle. There would be a big difference if you showed the emotion, you were portraying. For example, worry was a dominant emotion, but you just said she was worried, you're only telling, not showing.

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