Noone, Jane and I are lead across the open space between the meat wagon and the temporary buildings. I’ve checked out the shapes and faces of the goons bundling us along. Not one of them is a Dreek. At least that’s something to be grateful for.
‘It’s gonna be okay, Jake,’ Jane says to me. I can’t say I share her optimism right now, ‘Krillik won’t dare harm Noone. He carries the authority of The Powers.’
‘Fine,’ I say, ‘but how does that help us?’
As we get nearer to the temporary buildings I can see they’ve been set up as three separate units lying alongside each other. There are no windows in any of the units, but the heavy iron doors are open so I can see inside all three of them as we get nearer. They are what they look like, thick metal storage containers. In the middle of the floor of each container is a titanium cage, rectangular shaped, about two square yards footprint, floor to ceiling. Inside is a metal stool. The cage doors are open and the inside looks far from inviting, but I know that’s where we’re headed.
The Ninjas split us up. I get taken into the third of the three, Jane in the second and Noone in the first. The suit follows me in and steers me into the cage. Then he slams the cage door shut on me, snapping the lock tight and pocketing the key. He nods to the Ninjas and they skedaddle, closing the container door tightly behind them. I’m alone with the suit. The interior walls have been lined with a silver foil like material, and the ceiling has been fitted out with a bank of strip lights. The brightness is dazzling at first but I soon get used to it despite my eye still being not quite healed. There are a few chairs scattered around outside the cage, and a small desk pushed against the side, well away from the cage. Set up on this is a coffee machine with a jug of freshly brewed Joe, the only thing that smells good in the whole place.
‘Turn your back and put your hands against the bars,’ says the suit.
I do as I’m told. I feel him fiddling with the cuffs and moments later I’m rubbing my wrists hard to get the circulation going again, and glad to have those bastards off. He scrapes over a chair and sits down about a yard from the bars, cabaret style, his big feet splayed out and arms folded across the back of the chair. He looks at me for a while before he speaks.
‘Jake Redwood, Iraq war veteran, detective in the SOS, commendations for his work protecting society. Why did you suddenly become a cop killer?’
‘I’ve never killed a cop in my life,’ I say, sitting down opposite so I can eyeball him.
‘What about the traffic cop outside your girlfriend’s house? Then the other traffic cop on the slip road at Hunters? You put two slugs in his head. What’s your problem with traffic cops, Jake? You get a bad ticket or something?’
He’s a real smart ass.
‘Then you killed your boss Senator Keen. Why did you do that Jake?’
‘He gave me a shit pay rise,’ I say. Two can play the smart ass game.
‘I got a great pay rise,’ he comes straight back with, ‘…so, why did you put a bullet through my boss’s head?’
‘Collateral damage, I was aiming at you.’
‘You’re a real funny guy,’ he says, but his face has hardened and I see hate in his eyes. What he says next sends a chill of horror through my body, ‘Let’s see how smart your mouth is when General Riddell gets here.’
He scrapes back his chair, stands up and walks over to the small desk. He opens the drawer and pulls out a Taser gun then walks back and sits down waving the gun casually in the air so he knows I’ve had a good look at it.
‘What’s Riddell got to do with this?’
‘Well, since you popped off the head of the FBI the President has seen fit to put the bureau under the temporary command of the General. I think he figures the big G’s got a real incentive to sweat the agency to catch and fry the bastard that nearly blew his head off.’
‘Sounds like I’ll get a fair trial,’ I say. He’s not amused.
There’s a knock at the door.
‘What?’ shouts the suit over his shoulder, not taking his eyes off me for a second.
‘The General’s on his way,’ shouts the goon through the door, ‘He’ll be here in about five minutes.’
‘Thanks, now fuck off,’ shouts the suit. The suit looks at me and then at the Taser and says, ‘Gives me just enough time to have a little fun with a cop killer.’
‘No,’ I say to him gently and quietly, ‘You need to unlock this door and let me out.’
‘Yeah, right,’ he says, the smirk gone from his face.
He takes the keys from his pocket and walks over to the cage and unlocks it. He opens the door wide then steps aside as I walk out.
‘Now you need to go inside, sit on the stool and go to sleep,’ I whisper in his ear.
‘Yeah, right,’ he says again, and then does as he is told.
When he’s inside and snoring gently I lock the door and throw the key to the back of the room. I go over and sit down at the small desk, pick up a paper cup and pour myself a cup of coffee. I take a sip and it’s hot and good. Moments later the door opens and General Terence Riddell steps into the room, alone, no Dreeks. He pulls the door closed behind him then turns round and looks straight at me.
‘Coffee?’ I say, holding up my cup, ‘It’s pretty good.’
He doesn’t move, just looks me up and down.
‘I see you’ve had special units made for us. Nice metallic screening,’ I say, waving my arm around the room in a grand gesture, ‘No expense spared.’
‘That’s to stop us being heard by your new buddies,’ he says, ‘Pour me a coffee.’
‘…still take it black?’
‘You know I do,’ he says.
I pour the coffee and he steps over to the desk and takes it from me. He sips cautiously then says, ‘You’re right, it’s good. It’s usually shit on this base.’
He sits on the chair opposite me, our backs against the wall of the container.
He takes another sip then says, ‘I didn’t think you’d inverted. I didn’t believe that shit for one moment.’
‘No,’ I say, ‘just hiding from you.’
‘Was that fun?’
‘Not really. I was buried so deep inside Jake Redwood he had control most of the time. I had to lie dormant while he stumbled around like a dumb ass from near disaster to near disaster…and it hurt like hell when I had to surface or you pulsed.’
I’ve missed you Jek,’ he says. I wonder if that’s true.
‘Really? You seem to want me dead.’
‘I do now. What do you expect?’ he says, matter of fact, no anger in his voice, ‘…a ten thousand year investment down the can because of you. You’ve been leaking our secrets back to your new best buddy Noone through that dumb female gofer of his, manipulating them both in this stupid charade…Jake Redwood, man of action, for fuck’s sake! Despite my efforts to block transmissions, Noone’s somehow been getting reports back to The Powers. The top guys at Grow are spitting blood. Why did you do that, Jek? Why did you blow the whistle on us?’
I take a long sip of coffee before I answer.
‘Because you got stupid, then got greedy.’
He ignores the insult and says, ‘What’s wrong with a little greed? The whole universe runs on it. Let’s face it, Jek, you’re not immune from it yourself. Why else did you sign up with me?’
‘Yeah, true, but that was for the original project, not for pumping out contaminated Zyg sperm and the torrent of shit that brought down on these poor bastards. You know you should have delayed the project and waited till clean sperm could be sent.’
‘You think these people could stop from annihilating themselves for the next forty years? I’ve wasted too much time already stopping these fucking apes from blowing themselves off the face of the planet…’
‘…and ruining all the precious assets,’ I cut in.
‘Yes, if you like, but isn’t that why we’re here?’
‘Yeah, that’s true too. But what you did was illegal and what you’re planning to do is a death sentence for all of us when we get back home.’
‘Only if they know the truth,’ he says, ‘…and there’ll be nobody left who knows what that is.’
‘I’d be left,’ I say, and he looks at me real funny, like the sin of sins was to betray him not the murder of six billion people.
‘You might not be,’ he says as he refills his coffee cup.
‘How did you find out about the Revelation spores?’
He looks at me and smiles, ‘You didn’t tell me, that’s for sure.’
‘Yeah, and if I had you’d have cleared all your guys off the planet and cracked open one of those vials without a second thought. All the deaths…blame it all on the dumbness of mankind. They created the fucking thing so they deserve what they get, eh? Grow would have loved that, bringing the project in decades ahead of schedule…and you would have earned a big fat bonus.’
‘Will earn,’ he says, a smile forming across his face.
I park that remark for now and ask again.
‘How did you find out about the Revelation spores?’
‘Take a guess,’ he says, sipping his coffee.
‘My pal next door would say to me, “you’re supposed to be a fucking detective, work it out,” so, here goes. Harvey tried to blackmail the President.’
‘Bingo!’ he shouts and we both laugh out loud.
‘I thought the dumb ass would try something like that. Go on,’ I say, ‘what’s the story?’
So he tells me. When Harvey drove the Humvee a safe enough distance from the laboratory back then in the Iraq desert he called in for the Chinook. He needed to be rescued. The platoon had been ambushed and he was the only survivor. The chopper arrived and hauled old Harvey’s ass back to the base. He played the war hero and made up a pile of shit about how they’d fought to the last man and he was lucky to have survived. He kept what he’d found to himself. He sensed there was a fortune to be made from the spores.
When a reconnaissance mission was sent back they found the rotting corpses of the grunts and a burnt out hole in the ground that was once the biochemical weapons site. No trace of me, of course, but as the fire in the laboratory had been so ferocious they assumed Aziz’s charred remains were mine. They hauled the burnt bones back home and gave Jake Dreyfuss a hero’s burial.
Harvey climbed the greasy pole in politics and made Senator. When he was put in charge of the SOS he was astute enough to figure out that something ‘not of this world’ was going down. Then the FBI caught a Torp who spilled the beans, Harvey had been telling the truth about this. Harvey was part of the interrogation team’s ethics supervision, fair play to all even invading murdering aliens being the American way. He got access to all the information gleaned from the Torp and worked out a plan. If the powers that be know there are aliens living down here that are real bad guys, then what if they threatened to release a killer spore for which there is no vaccine? What would the world pay to stop that happening? Harvey put together a cock and bull story and decided to take it to the President. A top secret meeting was called during which Harvey planned to break the bad news. Krillik, of course, as head of the Air Force was sat around the table when Harvey spun his yarn.
The story went like this. Harvey had been told there was to be an alien invasion. He had been secretly contacted by the mastermind behind the invasion, Harvey being the smartest guy on the planet to be the go-between. The bug-eyed monsters had gotten hold of a deadly spore and would release it into the atmosphere if the world did not stump up. He had been given plans to prove it and produced a data disk with all the good stuff he’d taken from the computer back in the laboratory in the desert. The aliens apparently like gold, dumb ass Harvey told the president, and were demanding $100 billion worth of it.
General Terence Riddell had sat in the room with the good and the great from the administration at the time and listened stony faced while Harvey lied through his teeth. The idea struck him that these people should forget what Harvey had told them, and Harvey should hand everything over to him, plans, the spores, the whole shooting match. This Harvey did, although he never knew why, just that he was now part of Krillik’s team and had to keep the secret. Krillik figured it was a good idea to have a go-between lined up in the administration. It might be useful sometime in the future. To welcome Harvey on board he gave him a little gift, the gift of life. To Harvey and Mrs. Keen, a baby girl. The pheromones from the Zyg made sure Harvey was kept in line without visions being planted in his head all the time. Harvey proved to be useful. He even transcribed all the plans stolen from the Iraqi laboratory onto a data seed for Krillik. These would be needed back home later as evidence, evidence that the spores were truly made by humankind themselves. It would be proof that man was the architect of his own annihilation, not Krillik.
‘So, where’s the vial?’ I ask when he’s finished his story.
‘In my pocket,’ he says.
‘A bit risky carrying it around like that,’ I say, ‘You might snap it by accident and kill yourself.’
‘Oh, I might,’ he says, ‘But I must confess it does give me a power rush knowing I’m carrying something so small around with me that’s so potent.’
He puts his hand into his uniform jacket breast pocket and pulls out the tiny glass vial half full of a greenish blue liquid. He holds it up to the light to study it, turning it slowly between his thumb and middle finger.
‘This little thing here can wipe out all the humans on the planet a billion times over, and it’d only take a few weeks…and all I have to do is press my thumbnail into the side of the glass.’
‘Then you’d be dead too,’ I say, looking at the vial.
‘But you wouldn’t, would you?’
I look at him and I then know why he really wants me dead. It’s not because I betrayed him and blew the whistle on what he was doing to the human species on the planet, it’s because I had survived infection from the Revelation spore. My blood was the raw material needed by humankind, the one thing on the planet missing in the production process for the vaccine.
‘You don’t have to die,’ he says to me, and I think he really means it. He is about to offer me a way out, a way to avoid being murdered by his Dreeks as soon as he gives the order or I step out of the room.
‘What’s the deal?’
He puts the vial back in his jacket breast pocket and stands up.
‘I’m about five or six days away from getting all my crew off this planet,’ he says, ‘We work together. Over the next few days we fabricate a disaster, tensions rising between nations, West against East. It escalates quickly into war. America threatens a nuclear attack. The East counters with threats that they have an agent on the US continent that has a deadly biological weapon, a doomsday bug. This will be release if the US attacks. A missile is fired and hits a city in the east, North Korea would be perfect. The Eastern bloc has no option but to fulfill its threat and the Revelation spores are released right here in Washington. You release the spores. You are the only survivor, the only person left alive on the planet. When it’s all over I can send my crew back to help prepare the way for the homesteaders. The project comes in well ahead of schedule and we become rich beyond belief. I’ll need a sample of your blood to take with me so we can make vaccine for the crew and the homesteaders.’
‘So why not just go off world and simply throw the vial on the ground before you step onto the shuttle portal?’
He shuffles a little uncomfortably from foot to foot, then looks at me and says, ‘We’d need you to keep an eye on things down here…the spores might mutate.’
‘I get it,’ I say, ‘if the spore mutates and overcomes any resistance my body has built up then the vaccine would be useless…and, of course, I’d be dead.’
‘It’s risk versus reward, Jek, and the reward is massive. It’s well worth the risk.’
‘Not if I’m dead it isn’t.’
‘Come on Jek…you’ve been lucky to get this far. You’re a dead man now anyway, stuck in this metal box surrounded by my people. This way you might get through this. Even better, you’ll come out the other side a wealthy man.’
‘…and what about Noone and the girl?’
‘Collateral damage,’ he says without a second thought.
‘Like the six billion other souls?’
He looks at me sideways and a smile forms on his lips, ‘You’ve grown fond of these apes. You actually like them, don’t you?’
‘I do,’ I say, ‘They’ve earned the right to exist as a species. That’s what The Powers will decide as soon as Noone makes the case for them. He’s got enough proof they’ve developed sufficiently to own their DNA copyright and be left alone. Grow won’t be permitted to harvest this planet. It won’t get a penny.’
‘But Noone and his little girl will be dead soon.’
He looks deep into my eyes and sees them darkening slightly.
‘Well I’ll be…It’s the girl, isn’t it…what’s her name, Jane. You’ve grown fond of her too. D’you think she’ll like you right back when she finds out you’re the one that’s been behind all this running around, the Jake Redwood charade, Jek, when she finds out you’ve been the one planting all the visions, including the ones in her own mind, and you’ve been using her to expose me?’
I look at him. He’s laughing at me. He thinks I’m weak, grown soft.
‘You were my right hand man, Jek. I’ve never worked with anyone tougher. But you’ve lost the plot. You’ve gone native. You’re no fucking use to me now.’
He turns his back on me and steps over to the door. He pushes it open a fraction and barks at one of his Dreeks, ‘Kill them. Kill them all.’
It’s my chance. Just as he steps down from the door I leap out of my chair and in a flash I’m on his back, biting into the back of his neck with my strong jaws. This is instinctively how I kill and at last I can follow my natural way. My teeth tear at his flesh and Krillik screams, thrashing at my head with his powerful arms. We tumble through the door and crash onto the floor of the hangar, locked together in a fight to the death. The area is surrounded by Dreeks, all armed with automatic weapons, but they can do nothing. They daren’t shoot for fear of hitting Krillik and daren’t intervene to pull me away from him. They can see my teeth are locked firmly onto the back of his neck. If they tore me away I would take half his spinal cord with me.
Krillik stabs at my eyes with his thumbs and I’m temporarily blinded, the stabbing strong pain almost causing me to lose my grip on his neck. He wriggles from underneath me and half turns so we’re entwined, his legs wrapping around mine. He’s incredibly strong, stronger than any human I’ve tangled with in the past. I tighten my grip on his neck with my teeth and start to taste his blood. He squeals with the new surge of pain and writhes underneath me. I can see he’s reaching for the gun on his waist belt. I grab his arm at the wrist and jerk it backwards with all my might. I hear it snap as the elbow joint cracks in two. This arm is useless to him now, but with his other hand he grabs me hard between my legs and squeezes. The pain is overwhelming and I haven’t got the strength to hold my grip on his neck. He twists from underneath me and pulls me onto my back on the ground. In a flash he’s on top of me, his hands wrapped tightly around my throat. I sense a Dreek moving forward, circling us slowly, waiting for the chance when it’ll be safe to come to Krillik’s aid. His grip is incredibly strong and I feel my eyes bulging. I can’t breathe. I fire punches at his head but he rides them. He knows he’s winning the battle and can feel my strength falling away. He starts to laugh in my face. The Dreek steps forward but Krillik snaps at him to stay back. He wants the pleasure of killing me all to himself.
‘You piece of shit,’ he says as he presses hard on my wind pipe, ‘You fucking traitor.’
I thrash around with my hands but every blow is weak now, and Krillik brushes them aside unharmed. I grab at his clothes, running my hands down the jacket. My thumb snags in the hip pocket of his jacket and I push my hand deep inside it. The world is turning grey as my consciousness fades, but I have sufficient awareness to sense something in my hand. I know what it is and I gain strength from this knowledge. I writhe at the cloth and tear my hand free. Clutched in my fist is something that looks like a Maglite torch. With my last ounce of strength I swing the end round and hammer it hard against the side of Krillik’s skull. In a millisecond it flashes into life and starts to burrow into Krillik’s skull as thin green tendrils shoot from the opposite end, whipping around his body. Almost instantly these become a mass of long strands, so many that they start to totally envelop Krillik, wrapping themselves around his head and slithering across, around and inside every part of his body. I see the light of recognition, then horror in his eyes, and the face of victory turns immediately to one of sheer terror. He grabs at the portal that is deconstructing him before my eyes, pulling at the shaft that has attached itself immovably to his head. As he raises his arms to his head I punch his breast pocket hard and I hear the vial inside crack open.
Krillik knows it’s a lost cause. He knows in a few more seconds the fibers will have entered every part of his body and torn it apart, molecule by molecule. He knows in minutes he will be gone from this planet, and will probably never return, the code for his body transmitted to a portal site many light years away where Krillik will be reassembled again in every detail. His destination? The corporate offices of his employer, Grow, the receiving portal for Krillik’s personal life raft, the portable shuttle device.
All that is touched by the fibers will be recreated at the shuttle portal site there, including the broken vial in his pocket, and the greenish blue deadly liquid it contains. This evil substance will no more be a threat to Earth. The man-made Revelation spores will no longer be a problem with which mankind will have to contend. But somewhere light years away this unstoppable killer will be released on an unsuspecting race of beings, creatures that for millennia have plundered the universe seeding civilizations then destroying them for profit. For project Earth the one man-made thing these beings at Grow will harvest is a horrible disease that may well bring about their own extinction. It’s a kind of justice and I have no pity for them.
It’s easy for me to subdue the Dreeks. Their weak minds are no match for mine. I send them into the container where I was very recently their captive. When they are all inside I push the door closed and pull the outside door lock down hard. The next thing I do is tap my index finger to my right ear lobe. The seed reader runs out of my ear and forms around my finger, the data seed attached at the tip. I press the data seed away from the reader with my thumb and let it fall to the floor where I stamp on it hard. It disintegrates with a satisfying pop. The data seed reader has been recording everything that has happened to me since I was in the underground cell with Noone and Jane. I don’t want any record kept of what’s happened in the last few minutes.
It’s once again time for Jek to hide, and I bury myself deep inside the brain of Jake Redwood, the born leader, man of action. I walk over to the second container and swing open the door. Jane is sitting on a stool, locked inside the Titanium cage. She looks at me as if I’m an idiot.
She says, ‘You took your time. Get me out of here, Jek. My ass is going numb.’
I say, ‘Who the fuck’s Jek?’
At first it’s hard work convincing the powers that be at the United Nations assembly that this isn’t all a joke, but having the Dreeks is a clincher. It’s hard to argue that it’s all nonsense with a container full of live aliens as the evidence. All the Dreeks are kept alive and in a specially constructed high security unit. Each one is fitted with a metal dome to their skulls. This block any signal coming from their brains and prevents them planting any visions in their guards.
It doesn’t take long before a co-ordinated plan is put together to deal with the rest of the aliens, and any possible further invasion threat. The data seed Jane took from the Torp traffic cop has the location of every shuttle portal on the planet. Within two days we attack these sites swiftly and with devastating force, killing any Dreeks or Torps remaining near the portals in the process. With the portals destroyed the aliens will have to travel to the Earth in conventional space craft and run all the risks of landing them through a barrage from a well armed and hostile human force. It’s unlikely there will be any attack this way, though. Grow is a commercial enterprise, if in fact it still exists after the arrival of Krillik and the Revelation spores on their doorstep. There’s no money to be made in waging interplanetary wars. Grow will probably look at the cultivation of the Earth for homesteaders as a failed project and a financial write off.
There is one shuttle portal that remains untouched. It’s located in Melville, Long Island. We decide to keep that one safe so it can be used by us to make contact with The Powers. Noone agrees to be our advocate. He is asked to make the case that the human species is civilized, sophisticated, advanced and free, a species in their own right and should remain so. The message to get across to them is that the human race will actively repel any species that attempts to plunder the planet Earth for financial or any other gain, or attempt to colonies the planet, or pollute the planet with genetic or any other material that is in any way harmful to mankind. He is also asked to advocate that the principle of a corporate entity owning the intellectual rights to a living, humanlike species conscious of its existence should be treated as abhorrent in any civilized society where so ever in the universe.
The world’s most distinguished universities put together evidence of the greatest achievements of mankind. At the top of the list is the Declaration of Human Rights by the US and the UN. Then the works of all the great artists, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Monet, Xu Lin, Van Gogh, Mater and thousands of others; the music of Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Al-Kuwaity, Verdi, and all the great classical artists, then jazz, country, blues, and contemporary artists; the great works of literature; Shakespeare, Faulkner, Joyce, Lu Xun, Premchand, Nabacov, Orwell and thousands of others. The work of the greatest film makers, architects, philosophers, doctors, engineers, scientists, educators, their achievements all carefully selected and put onto data seeds.
Examples of the natural world on Earth and its diversity are added, encyclopaediae crammed with data about the flora and fauna of the planet, and all the great natural creation on land and under the sea.
The great books of all the religions are added; Judaism and Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and the religions of Africa and native America.
Finally, examples of the military might of mankind are added, from small arms to the devastating potential of the world’s nuclear arsenals, and other weapons of mass destruction, all a warning to anyone out there that thinks the human race is an easy target.
Noone will make the case that not only is the human species on Earth unique in its creativity, but it is about to undergo a renaissance. The one remaining portal will be studied by the world’s top scientists. Its secrets will be uncovered and put to work for mankind. In no time at all humans will have developed revolutionary transportation methods across and beyond the planet. A new age of travel will develop, with humans themselves colonizing other worlds. The rapid development of nano technology will solve many other problems that blight the species; materials and resource scarcity, disease, pollution, sourcing of clean energy, and many other medical and social issues.
Noone is confident beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will convince The Powers that the human species on Earth is unique, endlessly creative, benign if not attacked, and should be left to continue to develop as a force for good in the universe.
The new method of identifying Zygs is refined into hand held devices, and it doesn’t take long to weed out the remaining Zygs and fry them. With no more Zyg sperm being fogged the problem of these little suckers gradually fades away. The SOS is disbanded, no longer needed, so I’m back on the streets as a humble detective. The powers that be want me to take up some high ranking job in administration, but I say no. The pay’s fantastic but I can’t see myself flying a desk for the rest of my life. I like it on the streets where the real folks are.
So I’m back in Polk ready to start a day shift when I get a call. It’s from Jane Krieff. I haven’t seen her in months, not since this whole mess ended. She tells me her work with the UN is finally finished. Noone is ready to return to wherever the fuck he came from and do I want to come to Melville to say my goodbyes?
Noone did some pretty mean things to me but somewhere deep inside my head I know it was for my own good. So I say yes to Jane and agree to meet her at the Marriott in Melville the next day.
I travel up on another of those beautiful bright sunny days, not a cloud in the sky and everything I see just knocks me out. I live on an amazing planet. I arrive at the hotel and park up. There’s Jane standing in the sunlight just outside the hotel doors. She looks stunning. I’d forgotten what a beautiful alien…what a beautiful woman she is. I walk over and she pecks me on the cheek then gives me a smile that could start a fire.
We chit-chat harmless nonsense for a while, neither of us wanting to go back there, back to the meat of our time together chasing and being chased by Krillik and his crew. It’s better to always look forward in my opinion. She’s moved on and so have I.
Noone appears through the front door of the hotel. He’s pleased to see me again and we sort of embrace awkwardly like friends that are really strangers do. He looks old, tired and a little nervous, but then again I get nervous too before a long flight. Noone has FBI bodyguards everywhere he goes now and he’s with two goons dressed in black suits. They all have discrete ear pieces and are constantly whispering into radios hidden in their lapels, making sure the big man is safe on their watch. A stretched Limo slides round the corner. A flunky opens the door we all pile in.
Ten minutes later we’re waved through the gates of a high security unit on the outskirts of Melville. The place was just scrubland up till the portal site was identified. Now it’s ringed with high walls, a battery of ground to air intercept missiles stationed outside, and more security than Fort Knox.
The Limo drops us off at the portal, a glass walled circular disc about ten yards wide. It looks as if it’s the green for the eighteenth hole of a well kept golf course, short, green immaculate looking grass. I know it’s not. I know when someone steps onto that circle and walks to the middle the grass will grow at an amazing speed. In seconds the person or object will be covered with long green tendrils that will analyze the subject then deconstruct it, and then transmit its structure at the speed of light to a place somewhere out there. Far out in the universe is a corresponding machine that will receive the code and build and exact replica, precise to the last atom. If the subject was living it will somehow jump start it to life, complete with all thoughts and memories, a perfect recreation of the original.
Noone stands by the edge of the disc, ready to start his journey. He has asked for his leaving to be a low profile event. He knows all the world’s leaders in person now, the good and the great, but he only wants two people there to see him off when he steps onto the portal, me and Jane.
Noone is revered across the globe as the savior of mankind and is quite the celebrity now. He’s credited with saving the human species from annihilation at the hands of Krillik and the Revelation spore. I was there, I know, but I can’t remember that much about it. Mankind has put all its hopes into Noone successfully pleading the case with The Powers for the Earth to be left alone. I think he’ll succeed. He’s a very clever old guy.
Before he leaves he embraces Jane as if she was a daughter he was never going to see again. She’s crying as they move apart, something I never thought she was capable of. He gives me another of those awkward man-hugs, and I feel embarrassed.
Just before he steps onto the portal he looks at me and says, ‘Why don’t you follow me, Jek? Why don’t you come home?’
I think about what he says. Then I think about the drive to Melville that morning, the beautiful sunshine, the greens and reds of the woodlands I drove through, the sun dappled streams, the breeze through the trees with its warm, sweet air. I think about the music station I listened to, my buddies back home and the game on Monday nights we all watch together, and the beers and banter we enjoy.
I think about my simple life among these wonderful people and I give him my answer, ‘Who the fuck’s Jek?’
It’s late, too late to drive back to Polk so I’ve booked in at the Marriott in Melville. Jane and I have had dinner together, and it was wonderful. Over dessert I asked her about religion and reminded her that she’d never answered my question about God. She said she had. I recalled exactly what she’d said, ‘Oh, It exists alright, but not in the way you guys think.’
‘So,’ I say, ‘in what form does It exist?’
She gives me that sideways look that tells me she thinks I’m an idiot.
‘You’re supposed to be a detective,’ she says, ‘Work it out.’
When we’re walking back to our rooms I think I have. We stop at her door and I turn to her and say, ‘I figure this. To be able to know that there might be a creator you have to be created. There is only one thing that creates living entities that can think, and that’s human DNA. So the It must be human DNA.’
She smiles up at me as she opens the door to her room but doesn’t respond to what I’ve said. Instead she asks, ‘Are you coming in?’
‘Call yourself a detective, you dumb ass!’
She puts her arms around my neck. In moments we’re kissing, deep, passionate, long kisses, those that have been building up inside us since we first met in the Sheriff’s office in Polk all that time ago. As she eases me into her room I feel her gently tap on my right ear lobe.
‘What?’ I say in surprise.
‘I’m just checking you don’t have a seed reader. I don’t want you recording what we’re gonna be doing to each other all night, Jek, then blowing the whistle on us to your buddies back home.’
As we tumble onto the bed I say for the second time that day, ‘Who the fuck’s Jek?’