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Dec 18, 2020

Science Fiction

Beginning Again John Meiners, Jr. It's a week after Thanksgiving on a cold wet day in Community. The kind of day where the Avantans will not be going for a run but rather feeling sorry for those real deer enduring the weather. Samantha, Jesse, Pamela Lawton and Monroe are at Deer Run Lodge waiting for Bob Wallace. Pamela and Monroe have been borderline arguing about how much they can actually trust Bob. Monroe has spent his life dedicated to the protection of Community. What was once thought to be the perfect deer hunting community now seems anything but. Successfully through his sometimes harsh actions, Monroe has managed to make hunters feel unwelcome. Being Major of Community and able to support and pass ordinances unfavorable to hunters, his attitude and methods have paid off. Samantha feels Bob can be trusted and tells Monroe, "The risk of not letting the outside in, is you run the risk of not learning what the outside has to offer." Jesse adds, "Bob's the real deal. We've got nothing to go on. I've got a daddy or a mom that's an Osteoan, and there's another one out there willing to blow you up or set you on fire. If anybody can help, it's Bob." "We'll be cautious," Pamela assures Monroe. Samantha suggests, "Let Bob tell his story. He'll gain or lose our trust, and we'll go from there." There is a knock. Bob has arrived. Bob already knew who would be there and while polite greetings take place, Samantha notices the eye contact between Pamela and Bob lasts three times as long as all the rest of them combined. No surprise when you think they are seeing one another for the first time in 60 years since both escaped their dying planet. It's truly a surreal moment. They all sit and anticipate his story. Bob begins, " I attended a school in Avante named, let's call it Ecole." Bob smiles at Pamela and tells her the real name of the school in the Avantan language. To the others, the sound is partially inaudible. The sounds are not representative of any letters they can understand, but Pamela understands and smiles. Bob continues, "I was with a seven year old boy. His name was,"... Again sounds of Osteoan are partially heard not unlike Avantan... This is the first time hearing languages of her planet, and her eyes reflect the melancholy she feels . "I'll call him the boy. Both of us were from Osteo and being the older student, I was designated, at only eleven, the boy's 'watcher'. We would go to the River of Laivu. At times we traveled to the Springs of Uwlk. The clear spring water flowed silver up from silver rocks many times deeper than anything the boy or I had ever encountered. The boy was most at home there. I suppose I was too. We would change and dive. Though the depth we achieved was great, the flow of silver rock bubbles remained far below, a beautiful but unreachable sight. Fish and emerald green creatures swam in and out of the bubbles, deceptively small due to depth. Their true size remained unknown to us. We would pick catupus fruit on our travels there. They were abundant, and we colored our skin with their red oil, turning our bluish skin to lavender. I became very skilled, and in a crowd of Avantans, we were one with them. Then came the end times. I searched daily for ways to escape. In an effort to be ready, I gathered the Boy's possessions along with mine. As the end times approached, I saw in his possessions a letter from his mother. It read, ' If you need anything, see... " Bob smiles and says Pamela's name again, partially inaudible as before. "It had your address on it. I saw it as our ticket out. I learned about your family and your plans. I watched day after day, and we were ready when it was time. With my expertise at applying the red oil of the catuptus fruit to change our skin color, we boarded unnoticed in the chaos. The Boy and I were put in a room with twenty others. I believe the oldest were fifteen or sixteen. Being only twelve and an orphan, I was so overwhelmed. I had watched parents embrace and hold their children, hugging them one last time before being taken to the ship never to see them again. Most in the room were terrified but unaware of what was happening. I noticed three young children huddled in the corner, and saw a sleeve pushed up just enough to reveal one child's forearm. It was bluish. I quickly moved to them. They spoke only Osteoan unlike myself and the Boy. It was clear I now had three more children in my care. They were scared to death and probably didn't realize they would never see their parents again. All they knew was that they were in a strange place among strange people who were a different color, and who did not understand a word they said. I had no idea what the future held for any of us, or if we even had a future." While telling his story, Bob is in control but appears very emotional remembering their journey, and the most painful part still lay ahead. They all sit speechless. Though they have so many questions, none feel the moment is right to interrupt. Monroe thinks of his father, Samantha, her grandfather, Samuel Slade. Jesse wonders if one of these children Bob spoke of could be a relation, and Pamela Lawton,... she experienced it. Pamela breathes deeply and utters, "You were there... with me." "Yes." "You were that boy.. . I was so impressed with how you cared for those boys... and the girl. I was aware and watched, wondering if someone older was needed to look after them. Once I remember the little girl ran crying toward me, only to run past me as if I didn't exit, straight into your arms. I was sure she was running to me. I watched as you soothed her, and her crying turned to a smile in moments. It was then I knew they were where they belonged... I thought you were lost... The others, did they survive?" "The Boy and myself only. The others, I was sure, were lost. The Boy and I were exploring in the woods. We didn't know the boys had followed us. I heard wolves howl, and the boys scream but couldn't get to them. I ran toward the sound then looked back and saw wolves running toward the Boy. I had to make the decision to save the others who were not in my sight or the Boy. The wolves were so close. I grabbed him, we made it to the bayou and swam away. And now... for the first time... I have hope that one or maybe all three of the boys survived, and I want to find out." Pamela is very moved seeing Bob almost in tears. It is evident he has been carrying the guilt of their loss with him all these years. Jesse wonders if he is related to one of the three lost boys. It can't be Bob, but it could be the Boy. Monroe asks, "After all these years, why are you contacting us now?" Pamela adds, "Yes, you always knew we were here." Bob looks at them for a moment then tells them, "From the beginning I felt we didn't belong. All of you were Avantans. We were Osteoans. The language and the color of our skin were so different. At twelve I thought it best we separate so we just kept going and made our own way, the Boy and I anyway. I thought the others lost. I have a son and a daughter who also seek to fit in as do their children. When I saw Jesse and heard of the little girl being saved, I suspected there may be other Osteoans who made it here. I want to know for sure." "The Boy, where is he?" Pamela asks, afraid of the answer. Bob sees the fear in her eyes and is torn. He like Monroe is very secretive especially when it comes to the Boy. Since he was twelve, Bob protected him, and now at 72 and the Boy 66, nothing has changed. He pauses not wanting to say but feels compelled. Pamela worried anxiously asks, "He's alive isn't he?" "Yes." "Where is he?" Pamela is very happy with the realization the son of her friend survived and reached Earth. The thought of meeting him is surreal. "We have an agreement." "An agreement?" "We promised one another to keep who we are and where we are, secret." "I see"... Bob sees the disappointment in her eyes. Bob has always remembered Pamela Lawton. Her kindness to him sixty years ago has not been forgotten, and he smiles and softly assures her, "I'll take you to see him if you like." Pamela though surprised, smiles and quickly replies, "Yes." "I'll call him and make arrangements." "What about your promise of secrecy?" "You saved his life... mine too. His name is Steffen. No need of secrets between us." Pamela Lawton and Bob share a moment, and it's as if there is no one else in the room. Samantha has only known Pamela for a short while. Samantha has seen her cry and perturbed a bit with Monroe, but she has never seen that spark in Pamela's eyes, until now. Samantha wonders if it's only her romantic imagination, but then she turns to Bob and sees his wonderful smile full of promise for what might come next. "Does he live close by?" Pamela asks. Bob, like Monroe, keeps secrets very well. Both are highly skilled in the art of secrecy, and Bob is reluctant to tell everyone where Steffen lives after keeping his secret for all these years. But all here in the room are trusted by Pamela Lawton, and that is good enough for him. Bob tells her, "Steffen lives in San Antonio... When are you free to go?" "Could we... go tomorrow?" "I'll call. See if he's going to be there." Bob takes out his phone and calls while all watch in anticipation. After many rings, Bob leaves a message. "Steffen, this is Bob. I'd like to come see you before Christmas. Maybe stay a couple of days if you're going to be around. I'm bringing someone special... Call me." Bob ends the call. "Thank you, Bob... I can't tell you what this means to me." "Sorry, I took so long." Monroe, Samantha and Jesse all feel they are third wheels intruding on the two. They have listened, not wanting to be the one to interrupt. Monroe thinks this might be the time to make his proposal. Pamela said Bob was a wealth of knowledge, and Monroe believes there is no doubt she is right. Bob suddenly is on the phone. "Steffen... Great... Been playing on a pretty good corner with Emil... Yeah, Jackson Square. Can't complain. You?... Can't tell you. It's a surprise... Okay, a person... Yeah, ... very special... Sounds wonderful... Thanks."... Bob's eyes turn to Pamela, and he says, "It's about an eight to nine hour trip. If we leave at nine in the morning, we'll be there tomorrow night. Stay two days?" Pamela happily agrees. Monroe now seizes the moment. "Bob, we've had some kidnappings within our community. Three to be exact. We think they're being used for experimentation purposes. I'd like to ask you to help us investigate." Jesse realizes Bob hasn't heard anything about the kidnappings. Bob strictly was happy at the thought that three Osteoans presumed lost may have survived. There is definitely attraction between Bob and Pamela, and he has found some peace, but with his knowledge, he will be invaluable in helping to find those responsible. Jesse also hopes that Bob may be able to lead him to his Osteoan relative. Bob answers, "Kidnappings for experiments?" Monroe says, "Yes." "If I can be of help, sure." "There was a fire. A house burned down close to Belle Rive. Jesse and I chased the man who started the fire to the river's bank. He sank his canoe and swam away, we believed." "Swam... away? You're saying he was a draakar? "It was Neville Dugat." "Dugat?... as in Thomas Dugat's son? " "I recognized him when he threw an accelerant at us." "How old was he?" "Young, maybe 30." "I believe Thomas Dugat is older, in his seventies, and his children are older than that. I can find out." "Could be his Grandson... So you'll help us in the investigation?" "Definitely. If what you say is true, we've got an Osteoan in the mix." Jesse adds, "And one in the mix is my relative." "It means at least one of the three made it, if not all, but they could be anywhere," Bob says. "We do know the ones here, whoever they are, will kill you in a heartbeat," Jesse tells him. Monroe says, "No one is safe in Community as long as they are out there." Bob nods, "I had no idea." Bob realizes after all this time staying away from Community, now at 72, he is becoming part of Community. Although his life has been good in New Orleans, when he looks at Pamela, remembering their shared past even though a lifetime ago, he feels happy to begin a new chapter. He came to Community hopefully to find that three Osteoans survived. That is all, but now there is the possibility of so much more. Monroe wanting to solidify Bob's help with the investigation offers, "Bob, you are welcome to stay here at Deer Run Lodge if you like. No charge." Bob replies, "Well, I appreciate it, and I'd be happy to but..." Pamela Lawton wonders, 'Does he have someone special in his life?' Monroe asks, "I can pay you. How much would you like?" "I have another person who depends on me." Pamela now believes her fears are valid, but her disappointment is short lived when she hears who is dependent on him. "Emil plays the guitar, and I sing in Jackson Square or on any corner we can find. We don't get much, don't expect much, but I was wondering... You have a dining room. We could play." "Are you good?" "Of course." "You play on the weekend... A couple of hundred each when you play?" "Okay." "And we keep why you're here to ourselves?" "Yes." He looks at Pamela, smiles and says, "I'll tell Emil I found someone special." Monroe shakes his hand and says, "We're all set then." "We'll get on it when you get back from San Antonio," Jesse says. Samantha tells Bob, "I'm sure Pamela will fill you in on all the details of the investigation thus far. "Yes, indeed." Pamela turns to Bob, "I'm looking forward to it. I think I'll go throw a few things together for tomorrow." Bob says, "I'll head out to. As a matter of fact, I'd like to follow you home. See where you live, make sure you get home safely." Pamela agrees, "That would be great. If you'd like a bite to eat, you could come in." "Sounds good. Thank you." Pamela realizes she hasn't invited the others and says to all, "Oh, would you like to come to?" Samantha quickly answers, "No thanks, I... I need to call my office in New Orleans." "Monroe?" Monroe says, "We'll do it another time." "We'll see you later." Bob tells them, "See you when we get back." Bob offers his arm to Pamela. As they walk out Pamela asks him, "You think it will be too cold on the Riverwalk?" "We can bundle up," Bob answers. Samantha, Jesse, and Monroe watch them go. As the door shuts, they hear Bob laugh and say, "I've got some good stories about the Riverwalk." They all looked at each other. A draakar and stories about the Riverwalk. One can only guess. Jesse says, "I don't think they've had anyone special for quite a while." Samantha smiles and says, "They do now." The End

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