Teri Gething settled back in her easy chair with a huge sigh. As she glanced out her window, the last of the construction workers drove away, leaving the tree branches along the earthen road dancing wildly in the sudden temporary wind.
"Finished – at last!" she said aloud to herself. She had begun to wonder if her plans would ever come to completion. The contractor had told her it would be completed no later than the end of May. Now late into August, she finally found herself sitting luxuriously in her leather easy chair in the living room of her very own mountain cabin - well, perhaps it was a bit more than a cabin. At 2400 square feet, it was more like her dream home - which was fine, since this was where she fully intended to live.
Her thoughts drifted suddenly back to her childhood friends in Maidstone, North Dakota - Joni and Sharon - how the three of them would sit around talking and fantasizing about their future dream homes, how they would be decorated, and whose would be the best. Everything had been planned to the most minute detail, including what their husbands would look like and what color schemes would be used in the dayrooms. Joni was to have a large flat in the upper Manhattan East Side and Sharon wanted an ocean front home in Malibu. But by contrast, Teri had wanted only a cabin in the mountains. She wondered what might have become of those girls as her thoughts reflected out into the deep green forest.
Dusk was beginning to descend on the small wooded valley. From her chair she could hear the murmuring of the creek that bordered her property which, along with the humming of the refrigerator, were all she could hear. Feeling a bit guilty, she knew that she should be in her office working rather than lounging in the recliner.
She closed her eyes trying to concentrate on the relaxing sound of the creek, but her mind kept returning to the things in her life that had to be dealt with. This had to work - she had to write again and it had to be sellable.
Five years earlier her novel 'Taylor's Way' rode the top of the New York Times best seller list for 12 weeks and made her an overnight sensation among readers of romance novels. Caught up the reverie of success, she did cable TV talk shows, bookstore autograph appearances, and even college lecture tours.
Having signed a five year, four novel contract, she had quickly found herself frantically struggling to match or even come close to the success of ‘Taylor's Way’ but her subsequent attempts at writing novels were dismal failures.
Following 'Taylor's Way' was, 'Strawberry Rain', a complete flop. After only three weeks on the bookstore shelves, it was discontinued by her publisher. The kindest words any of the literature critics had to say about the book was ".. a marginally entertaining story line" (that coming from Denis Wilcox-Stone, a man whom she was sleeping with at the time).
Success with all its embellishments vanished suddenly as though it had been just a pleasant dream fading in the morning light; a dream that left the awakened one desperately trying go back to sleep in hopes of returning. Friends vanished as quickly as they had arrived and her publisher began to put pressure on her to produce another "Taylor's Way".
Her third novel did only slightly better than the second. Soon the only thing left of her short lived success were her newly developed alcohol and cocaine habits. Living in New York did not help her either. Like a huge parasite, New York was a drain on all positive resources for a less than stellar performer.
Now her contract with Desmond Publishing was due to expire in April and her bank account had nearly dissolved. After using most of her remaining money to finance and furnish the new home, she was nearly broke. She was lucky to have found the editor's job with the local community newspaper in nearby Miller Falls. It was little more than a small-town weekly newsletter and paid a small pittance, but she was grateful for it nonetheless.
Building the 'cabin' was a calculated risk. She knew that she could not last much longer in New York City; that her creativity was stifled there. She was literally banking everything she owned that the cabin would provide her the peace and tranquillity she needed to write successfully again.
"Taylor's Way" had been written in a quiet house on the coast of Virginia and now, here in the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest, she hoped she could gain back the resourcefulness that had been lost.
She had moved to Seattle in January, not able to bear another New York City winter, and purchased the property in the North Cascades of Washington State for her home. She designed the house herself and oversaw each detail as though it were her own child being brought up.
And now, as she prepared to spend her first night in her new residence, she knew that somehow she could make things happen again. As she listened to the creek, she began to hear small details of it's meanderings. Occasionally a rock would tumble under the pressure of the rushing current and make a 'clunk' sound. She could even hear bushes rustling as the nocturnal creatures of the forest habitat began to make their way out of their burrows, dens and tree homes, anxiously starting their nightly routine of existence.
She drifted off to sleep thinking about Maidstone again, swimming in the Souris River during the summers of her youth - how she loved to spend the hot days there! How once Frank Davis and Derek Phelps caught her and Joni skinny-dipping, how they had watched her from behind the rocks and how they had....
She awoke quickly, startled by a sudden loud thump. The noise she just heard.... She rubbed her eyes and looked at her watch - 9:32pm. Outside it was pitch dark; a darkness that she was not used to seeing. Here, there were no streetlights or headlights, and at the moment, no lights on in her cabin - only the eerie blue glow emitting from the Mac PowerBook’s screensaver in her office.
A night chill had settled in the small valley and had found it's way into her house. She got up to close the patio door and paused to look out into the blackness. Suddenly, she felt frightened, a feeling that she had not bargained for. She drew the blinds and turned on some lights. 'This is ridiculous' she thought, 'a grown woman afraid of the dark'. But the fear was real alright and she could not shake it. She went into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of wine.
The last few weeks had been very difficult for her; driving back and forth from Seattle to oversee the final details of the house and moving all her belongings. She knew she had been under a lot of stress. She went into her office with her glass and sat down at the computer hoping to write something. She began by brainstorming words, ideas and sentences on-screen, continuing with the chapter she had been working on.
The noise again - this time she heard it loud and clear. It vibrated the house just slightly and was definitely not coming from the creek or the woods. The fear that had begun to subside, returned immediately in full force. She got up and walked reluctantly to the kitchen window. She thought that the sound came from underneath the house and from that window she could see the door leading down into the basement. Standing on her tip-toes and flicking on the outside light, she could see that the door was indeed ajar.
"Get a grip, Teri" she told herself aloud. "It can't be him!". She took a few deep breaths and tried to think for a minute. The worker had probably just left it open and the door was banging in the breeze. She breathed a sigh of relief after having come up with that explanation, but once again her relief was short lived.
This time she heard it even more clearly. It sounded like something hitting concrete and it was coming from the basement, directly below the living room. The only access to the basement was from the outside and through the door under the kitchen. "No Way!" she said to herself as her brave alter-ego tried to convince her to go outside and down into the basement to investigate the noise.
'There is absolutely no way I am going down there, no way at all'. Teri Gething, the tomboy in Maidstone would have done it -no problem. But Teri the woman, the victim of a rapist who had beaten and badly abused her, had somehow lost that sense of childish adventure and was not about to descend those stairs until daylight -and even then not without trepidation.
She went upstairs to the bedroom and took her Smith/Wesson 38 revolver out of the drawer and sitting on the bed, began to cry. She had not anticipated this darkness, this fear invading her new home. The house was supposed to be a sanctuary and not a place to make her feel the way she felt right now - terrified.
Could Travis Spencer have possibly found her all the way up here? She sat on the bed wondering for a moment and dismissed the idea. He was safely behind bars for at least 5 more years - 10 if the parole board was strict.
In the meantime, all the lights would stay on downstairs and she would stay in here, in the bedroom. She decided that she would lie down and try to go to sleep, something that seemed quite a tall order at the moment.
Several minutes went by and no more strange-noises-from-under-the-house. She decided to pick up a book she had been reading by J.A. Jance, and soon, much to her relief, found herself drifting off to sleep once again.
She awoke the next day, quite late and feeling amazingly refreshed. At least it seemed quite late but the house was so bright and cheery in the daytime that it was fully lit up by whatever outside light existed. The cathedral ceilings in the living room with the tall windows took full advantage of the morning light and she was surprised to see that it was only 6:45am.
As she rose and began fixing her coffee, she wondered how she had been able to sleep so well after hearing the upsetting noises coming from under her house. She decided that she must be getting better; that she just had a few bad moments.
Although she felt stronger with the daylight, she was not looking forward to the trip down into that basement. However, she knew she had to get it over with. She put on a bathrobe and slippers, grabbed her pistol, and walked out the back door.
The morning was crisp but not cold and the sun was pouring down through the pine-scented air, casting prismatic reflections off the stream, making it seem like nothing was wrong or ever had been. As she descended the stairs to the basement, she saw two squirrels playing and roughhousing around her patio and wished life could be that simple for her.
She stopped short of the door and gasped aloud. The basement door was shut tight. She knew, or at least thought she knew, that she had seen it ajar last evening from the kitchen window. Keeping her pistol in firing position, she eased open the basement door and walked in.
Everything looked and smelled like a brand new basement from a brand new house. It was one large empty room with bare concrete flooring. No monster jumped out and attacked her, but one thing was oddly out of place.
Near the middle of the floor, sat a block of concrete next to a rectangular hole that appeared to be the exact size of the block. Walking cautiously over to it, and peering into the opening, it looked as though the block had been cleanly cut and lifted from the concrete flooring. All she could see in the hole was earth, but it was not packed, it looked to be freshly dug.
She could think of no reason why a block would be cut out of the floor and she tried to remember if it had been there when she last was in the basement. The last time she was here, it was full of the contractor's tools and equipment. In any case, she intended to call the contractor immediately and find out if he knew anything about it. The noises she had heard last night.. certainly no one would have been cutting out a chunk of concrete from her foundation at night?
She paused and a chill swept down her spine for no reason at all. She suddenly felt as many of the characters in her novels felt at times - distinctively as though she were being watched.
She swung around and looked toward the door, just in time to catch a glimpse of something moving near the ground. Just a blink of the eye caused her to miss out on any specific detail other than that it was either a small creature or.... a foot. Once again, raising her gun to firing position, she headed back to the half open door. She twisted through the opening and pointed her gun out in front of her only to find that nothing was there. Out in the side yard the two furry squirrels continued to play.
'Oh great Teri, you're freaking out because a squirrel tried to sneak up on you'. She chuckled at herself, laughing for the first time in at least 24 hours. She put her gun down, closed the basement door, and headed up the stairs to start the day.
"Houses make noises, you just heard the house settling", Clemens Barnes blew cigar smoke discreetly from the side of his mouth, as though exhaling in that manner were going to spare her the foulness of the cigar in the closed room.
"Old houses make noise, newly built homes aren't supposed to do that" Teri replied.
Clem chuckled. "You've been living in big city apartments and condos too long, Teri. All houses settle, no matter what their age, newer houses 'specially, since they haven't yet become comfortable with their foundations. Remember, it's a lot quieter out here than you're used to and you'll hear every little thing."
She could not argue there, "Boy is it ever quiet! The MAC is making more noise than ever! How do my layouts look?"
"They look great, Ter, I really think you can handle this job on your own from here on out. Would you mind if I didn't help you next week? I'd really like to go fishing."
"Clem, you're retiring. You can stop helping anytime you want. I would like to think I could call on you though. You know these parts and the folks that live here a lot better than anyone."
"Hon, anytime you need anything at all, you just call ol' Clem. And I'll come runnin' no matter what time it is. I have to admit, I worry about you, a pretty young woman living all the way out in these parts by herself."
"I can take care of myself, Clem, thanks. If I survived 5 years in New York City, I can survive this place."
"Well, you got a point there! I better be gettin along, let you get finished"
"OK, Clem, and thanks again for everything, but I will be right behind you, I'll take the rest of the work home."
Clem packed up his few personal things, which amounted to just four bowling trophies and a plaque, and they left the County Hall together.
"Can I give you a lift home, Clem?" she offered.
"No thanks hon, I need the exercise." With that, he patted his belly and hobbled off toward his house which was just a small town block from the County Seat Building.
She watched him for a minute and thought about his offer to come help her if she encountered trouble. She just might take him up on that if she started hearing that noise from the basement again. She wondered if he could really be of any help to her, at the age of 67 with a bad leg, but it was nice to know that she had at least one person around who cared about her. She had only known him for a month, but they had become instant friends. ‘As soon as I'm settled’, she thought ‘I must have him over for dinner’.
Driving back to the cabin from Miller Falls, she started to question again that moving to this place was the right thing to do. Now she began to think that "TeriCrest" as she had christened it, might perhaps be a little too remote. Eight miles from Miller Falls and 3 of those miles were on a bumpy dirt road. She tried to brush those thoughts out of her mind but the truth was, she was a long way from anyone or anything. The nearest town of any size was Bennett, about 15 miles from Miller Falls.
As she drove her Cherokee along the dirt road, she waved to her closest neighbors, the Duvalls. Like most of the 20 or so residents who owned homes along her road, they were only summer residents. She wondered what she would feel like when Autumn arrived and her summer neighbors departed.
All those thoughts were swept away immediately as she pulled into her driveway. She nearly screeched to a halt as she saw the basement door along the side of the house - it was ajar again!
She sat fear-frozen in the Jeep for a moment trying to decide whether to get out, stay or drive back to town. If she drove back, she risked making a fool of herself, if she got out and went back to the basement...no. ..She started the engine again and threw the Cherokee into reverse.
She drove back out the dirt road and swung quickly into the Duvall's place; Madelaine and Mike were on the front porch sipping drinks, enjoying the afternoon. Unlike Teri's place, the Duvall residence was a real mountain cabin, much simpler, only three rooms. It was a classic Chalet style A-Frame, and the couple used it strictly for summer relaxation.
She had never really stopped to talk to them before and now she felt a little awkward doing so, but she needed help and needed to speak to someone. As she got out of the car, her anxiety must have showed plainly; they instantly got up and ran to her.
"What's wrong?" Madelaine asked.
"Are you ok?" Mike asked.
She paused, "Well..No I am not, may I sit down?"
"Sure.. of course," Madelaine ushered her into the small cabin.
"Would you care for a drink?" Mike smiled lightheartedly, "the specialty today is wine coolers."
"That sounds great. Please feel free to make it a triple!"
Mike grinned and began mixing the drink, and with Madelaine sitting on the worn sofa with her, Teri told them about the basement. She told them everything there was to tell, which wasn't that much, sparing her the details regarding Travis.
Earlier that day, she had placed a call to the Pennsylvania State Prison in Albion and asked for Travis. She was put through and as soon as he answered "Hello", the chill that went through her body told her all she needed to know. She hung up the phone without saying a word. At least she knew Travis was still behind bars; she didn't feel any pressing need to unload that particular part of her baggage on the Duvalls.
"... and just now I drove up and looked at the basement door; it was open again and I know I shut it! I remember doing that. That's when I just decided I should not go in.. and drove over here for help."
Madelain and Mike starred at each other for minute and Mike finally spoke quietly.
"There was something going on here too Teri", he said.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, uh, we have had a few things .. a few of those squares showing up here too. Only ours are in our side yard. They always appear at night and so far there have been 3 instances, all within a few nights and always in a different place. Each time, the old one is put back so cleanly that you can hardly tell it was ever removed. But it hasn't happened in several weeks and we thought it was just some kids playing around or something."
"Mike, what do you think is going on?" Madelain looked concerned.
"I don't know Mad, what do you say we go back to Teri's house with her and check it out".
The three of them left the Duvall cabin and piled into Teri's Cherokee. Teri drove and thought it was strange that both Madelain and Mike chose to sit in the back seat. Furthermore nothing was said during the short trip and she felt certain that the Duvall's probably thought she was looney. For some reason, she had the strange sense that Mike had made up the story about the squares in their yard.
She eased the Cherokee into the driveway, not wanting to park the car too close to the basement entrance. The three of them got out and as they began walking toward the stairs, Mike and Madelaine, walking on either side of her, took her arms into theirs. Teri felt grateful for their caring, although she was quite frightened and was not quite sure she trusted them. Somehow their grip was a little too firm.
They stood at the top of the stairs to the basement and looked down. Teri could hear someone moving inside and felt the sudden urge to run. But the Duvall’s grips tightened slightly on her arms.
As the source of the noise emerged from the partially open door, Teri could feel her stomach sink to the ground and her legs turn to Jell-O. What emerged from the basement defied and violated all her realities. It gazed at her with huge knowing eyes; a three foot humanoid with features that reminded her a bit of the troll dolls she used to play with as a girl. It had a slit for a mouth, a tiny nose and it wore a hooded robe of some kind; she knew immediately it was not of the Earth. She opened her mouth to scream. But nothing came out... except a weak shrill peep.
She looked to the people at her side for some sort of help or reassurance and then the screams did come - then they sounded like a hundred sirens! Madelaine and Mike were no longer there, at least not in human form. At her side, gripping her arms with bony fingers, were two more of the "troll" creatures.
When the screams started, the creatures that had once been the Duvalls let go and turned away covering their little slit-ears as did the creature at the bottom of the steps.
Panicked, but still coherent enough to seize the opportunity, Teri broke loose and ran to back to the Jeep. Getting in, the creatures got up to follow her. 'My screaming...' she thought and quickly sensing her advantage, laid on the horn. The creatures turned their backs and covered their ears once again.
She started the Jeep, backed up, and frantically drove away from her home once again. Tears streamed down her face as she sped back out the dusty road. She glanced to the Olsen's house as she drove by. Instead of the Olsen family on the front porch, a group of four more 'troll creatures' stood looking at her, beckoning her. She screamed and screamed inside the Jeep Cherokee as she drove a frenzied pace along the bumpy dirt road.
Nothing more happened along the highway back to Miller Falls, which was good for Teri; she needed the time to collect her thoughts and re-assemble her realities.
The total unreality of what she had just seen only began to sink in as she pulled into the outskirts of town. Even for Miller Falls, the town seemed unusually quiet. It was nearly 5:00pm, but it was still summer and usually there was at least a few families in the park. Not even a car stirred on the road and she felt, once again, that she was being observed.
Clem was sitting his front porch as she pulled the Cherokee into his driveway. He stood on the porch smoking a cigar and smiling at her. At least he was human and not one of those creatures, or was he? Well, she had to talk to him regardless.
"Hi Teri," He said matter-of-factly.
"Clem.. I've got something incredible to tell you"
"I know," he smiled "I've been waiting for you"
She gasped. "Cl.. Clem are one of them too" she asked in a broken, squeaky voice.
"No hon, I am as human as you" He placed his arm gently on her shoulder, "But guess I have some explaining to do, don't I?"
He led her into his tiny 3 room house. The house smelled of stale cigar smoke, old cooking odors and dust, but Teri did not mind. Clem seemed to know what was going on and furthermore, he gave her a sense of security that she desperately needed at the moment.
"Sit down Ter, can I get you a drink?"
"Yes.. please do" she remembered that she never even took a sip of the drink that Mike had made for her earlier.
He poured wine into a full sized drinking glass, figuring that she would need the extra portion to get through his story. Handing it to her, he began.
"Teri, I feel bad that you had to see them and get so upset, you are just absolutely pale as a ghost. But I guess I need to start by letting you know that they are harmless. I have been living with them for almost 10 years now and they have become like family to me. I understand how you feel; I can still remember the first time I saw them. Are you ok? This is going to be a very strange story." Clem paused for a moment, watching her gulping at the wine.
"Ok.. well I don't know about that - no I am not ok. I'm terrified and confused. But after what I've seen, I doubt if anything will seem strange, Clem. But one thing I want to know, how do you know I saw them and what happened before I drove up?".
"You'll understand that when I finish”
He paused for a moment and then began “First, as you may have guesed, they are not from around here. In fact, they're not of this Earth. The ‘beings’ you saw are from a planet called Eterium which is unknown to Earth astronomers but somewhat known among UFOlogists. The star Zeta Reticulli, about 1.2 billion light years from our Sun, has a planetary system of several planets. Eterium is the second planet, a warm climate, with weather far warmer than what we're used to here on Earth.
"There's a neighboring planet, Datrinia, the third planet in the system, known to Earth's UFOlogists as Zeta Reticulli 3. The Datrinians are know to us as the "Greys". If you have been following UFO abduction stories, you have undoubtedly seen artist sketches of the Greys; they are small grey creatures with huge eyes and gaunt features.
"The Datrinians or 'Greys' are a very old race and have long passed the height of their civilization. The height of their society occurred many eons ago, sometime around our Neanderthal times. Nowdays, they are in a state of physical and social decline, you see, they're loosing the ability to reproduce.
"The frequency of alien abduction stories is no mere National Enquirer fodder. The greys are frantic to find a solution to their breeding problem and so over past century or so they've been increasing their use of Earth people and other less advanced species as lab specimens. The greys aren't particularly cruel - in fact some of the elders are actually somewhat benevolent toward their abductees, but they are generally callous toward their captives and the Greys know they must engineer a solution to their problem or perish."
"The Eterians, known to UFOlogists as the 'Blues' are here to protect us from abuse by the Greys" Clem paused to let Teri absorb the information.
"Are these Blues more powerful then the Greys?" Teri asked after a moment, not really able to think of anything else to say even though she was stunned by the story and full of questions.
"Yes, they are far more powerful and a much younger, vital race. You see, they are related to us".
"Related! Those horrid looking trolls! How can that be?", Teri could not believe her ears, taking an extra large swig of wine.
Clem chuckled. "As I said before, the height of the Datrinian race was during our Neanderthal era. At that time, the Greys were the most technologically and physically advanced species in this part of the galaxy. They were unchallenged wherever they went so as a result they we able to take all the liberties they wanted. For many years, the Greys transported early humanoids by the thousands from Earth to their neighboring planet Eterium, which was at that time was uninhabited. They used our Neanderthal ancestors as slaves on that planet for mining and farming operations since the climate was far too extreme for the Greys to inhabit.
"The Neanderthals did not remain a 'lower' species for long on Eterium. They evolved at an incredibly rapid pace there, quickly developing a lower profile and incredible mental abilities. They immediately evolved into a race that speaks and listens with their minds, and thus the small mouths and ears. They also developed the uncanny ability to change physical shape at will; they can appear as almost anything. Even the Greys could never do this although they still do possess extraordinary telepathic powers.
"It wasn't long before the Eterians were strong enough to challenge the Greys and break free. During those centuries when the Eterians were establishing themselves in the galaxy, there was a lot of Earth visitation going on. Much of our mythology and religion sprung from appearances made by Eterians in various shapes and forms during their early days of Freedom.
"The parting of the Red Sea, the Tower of Babel, and even Jesus can be explained by visitations from the Eterians"
Teri gasped. "You mean Jesus was an Eterian?"
"Yes, as was John the Baptist, Moses and many others. The Eterians have a great love for shape-changing and role playing, and in those days, they just didn't realize what they were creating here on Earth."
Teri now wondered about the squirrels she had seen that morning but let Clem go on.
"Once they realized just how serious the Earth people were taking these visitations, they ceased those activities and used their powers to alter shape only in rare occasions. For a long time they simply stayed away from the Earth, but as soon as the Grey's abduction practices began to get out of hand, the Eterians started establishing secret colonies on our planet to help protect us. You're living in the middle of one of them."
Clem took a deep breath, then was silent. Teri could think of nothing to say although a million things were going through her head. Never in her life had her sense of realities and beliefs been so overturned as it had now. She began to weep silently. Clem sensing her distress, moved to the couch and held her hand, allowing her tears to flow.
"I know this is a lot to take in all at once" he went on, "I'm sorry Teri, there was no easy way to tell you.“ He paused for a moment and then went on. "The Eterians established this colony about 10 years ago, but they only live here during the warm months. Their bodies can't tolerate our Northern winters, so for the winter, they go a settlement in the the Outback of Australia which is their main colony here on Earth. There they will stay until spring. Believe me Teri, we are fortunate to have them here. And you certainly must be able to see why they must remain secretive. Think of the upheaval that would take place if Christians of the world found out that Jesus was really an alien! It would threaten the very fabric of our society; that's why the Eterians must walk the Earth under the guise of Humans." He paused again. "Are you ok?"
"I suppose as much as can be expected"
After several moments of silence, Teri began to formulate some questions, "Are you and I the only humans in this area?"
"No, not quite. There are now 10 of us, 11 if you decide to stay. They need humans here to run the place during the cold months. And in return, well.. let's just say there are some side benefits."
He pointed his index finger at her now empty glass, and without touching it, the glass rose in air and glided to the path of his moving finger, floating across the room and settling down gently in the kitchen sink.
Teri was awestruck. "You did that?"
"Yep.. No mirrors or strings, simple levitation. Something they've been doing for thousands of years. And they will teach us what we are able to learn. Now will you stay?"
"Well.. this is all quite ...... alot to get used to. But yes, I think I will if it's ok."
"OK? Yes it's very much ok. They chose you."
"I was chosen?", Teri looked puzzled.
"Yes, when you first came to look at your lot do you remember how you felt?"
"Yes! I instantly fell in love with the place! Do you mean to tell me that I liked the place because they planted that thought?" She laughed, starting them both laughing.
"Yes, you might say that....oh Teri.. it's so good to see you laughing. I know you would have liked the place anyway, but they just wanted to make sure."
"But why me?"
"A number of reasons. For one, you have an open mind, they knew that right away. You're intelligent and more importantly, you're a writer. I think they have the hope that you can reach people in a subtle way through your writing and help slowly chip away at the myths they've created here and bring Earth's people back to reality. The Eterians feel very guilty about deceiving the unsuspecting, gullible Earth people the way they did. Consequently, they feel that they have a debt to pay. Of course, it won't be singly in your hands, since that is obviously a huge project and may take centuries, but you can at least begin to help. Besides, it's not easy to get people to come live up here once they know the truth."
"You mean others have found out and.. not liked it?"
"Aren't you and the Eterians worried about being discovered?"
"The government already knows they're here and that there is a band of humans supporting them. They stay out of our affairs simply because we are operating in secret which is just what they want - it is in their best interest. And anyone who cares to go public with the information.. well let's just say, people tend not to believe it."
"OK..I think I see."
"That's my girl, now there is one thing they need from you. You know what that is don't you?"
"Yes.... I think I do" She was not sure why she knew -- but she did. She just assumed that if these beings were so powerful that they could change shapes, they could certainly communicate without her knowing it. She reached around and unlatched her necklace, taking it off and handing it to Clem.
Clem smiled "They will be very pleased. This part that looked like a beautiful stone to you is really a vital part of their interstellar transport system. The lot you built your house on was formerly sort of 'repair station' for their craft and that part got somehow left behind. That is why the 'excavations' in your basement. Of course you know that now don't you?"
"Yes I do know now, funny isn't it? I didn't know it last night when I was hearing those noises, but I knew when you asked.
"They knew about where it was and tried hard to recover it but they finally figured out you had it. I think you'd better be the one to give it back to them." Clem placed the stone back in her hand. "They're waiting out back"
Teri paused, "That's how you knew everything ahead of time! What should I say?"
"Don't worry, you don't have to say anything, they can read your thoughts and they already know everything about you"
"No need to be embarrased, they are quite non-judgmental" Clem took her by the hand and lead her out the kitchen door into his small back yard. The sun had gone down but Clem's outdoor floodlight revealed about 20 hooded Eterians all looking at her, smiling at her with their huge knowing eyes.
The two of them stood on the door stoop and Clem motioned her forward. She walked down the steps into the yard among them. One of the Eterians stepped forward and Teri knew right away that it was a leader.
"No Teri, I am called an 'elder'. We do not have leaders as you think of them" it told her without it's mouth moving, reading her thought and answering her.
"I'm so sorry I screamed" she said as she recognized the 'Duvalls' in the crowd.
"You were frightened" answered 'Mike' without moving his mouth. "We're very sorry that we frightened you".
"I.. uh.. think this belongs to you," Teri said as she handed the elder the necklace with the stone in it. "I'm sorry.. it was so beautiful that I made a necklace out of it. I hope it isn't damaged."
"No .. it can't be damaged, thank you." The elder handed the stone to another Eterian and all of the sudden they all gathered around to look at it.
Then Teri's head seemed to be filled with voices, saying things like "thank you", "welcome", and "hello". The Elder turned back to her, opened it's thin arms and without hesitation, Teri and the alien embraced.
Teri stared out the window over the massive Manhattan skyline. From the 45th floor of the reception office of Desmond Publishing, she looked west toward the Hudson River and industrial New Jersey. Even under the veil of February snow, the city looked squalid and used-up. After living in the Northwest mountains, she knew she could never come to live here again.
"Teri, good to see you again, sorry to keep you waiting", Ben Delrand burst out of his office. "Please come in!" They shook hands and Teri followed him into his office.
"Please have a seat.. would you like some coffee?" he asked.
"No Ben, thanks."
He held up the CD, her manuscript, "Teri, we absolutely love it! This was really a surprise, when did you start writing Sci-Fi? I mean this is really good stuff, alien colonies and all. This will grab a whole new audience and maybe some of your old too!"
She smiled, "Well let's just say, I needed a change of style".
"And you don't have a problem running under a new pen name?"
"No I think with the drastic change, I’ll need to start over."
"Good! I've taken the liberty of drawing up another 3 year contract for you. "Summer Guests' will be published under the name of Sara Davies as you requested."
"Great", she took the contract, "I’ll have my attorney look it over and hopefully we'll be right back in business. In fact, I have a meeting with her in 20 minutes so I'd better get going."
"Ok Teri, good to see you again, and ... congratulations!
With that he showed her out and they shook hands again.
Down on the street the noise seemed deafening. The newly fallen snow had caused traffic to worsen on the already busy 35th Street.
As usual with not a cab in sight, she thought to herself. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on a cab.
Within 60 seconds and her eyes still closed, a cab pulled up and honked.
"52nd and Lexington," she said climbing in the cab.
The cabby started the meter, took off and was silent for a few minutes, then finally said, "you know lady, that was really weird. I didn't really know that you wanted a ride and I wasn't even goin' down this street! I guess I must be physic or sumpin, eh?"
"You just might be at that," Teri looked out the window and smiled.Story Blook HomeTags: Fiction, Short Fiction, Blook Fiction, Online Fiction, Short Stories, Short Story, Fiction Blook, Blook