There they were. The two people in Sunset Valley who had been as much a part of my life as my friends. Their voices were familiar to me, their way of speaking was imprinted in my mind. Now I had faces to add to them, and frankly it didn’t make me feel any better.
“What’s going on here?” I asked, twisting my hands in my lap. “Who are you?”
“This is Je–” the male tried to say, but the woman stopped him.
“You can call us Professor Redding and Doctor Redding.” She gave the guy a glare then looked back at me.
“Which is which?” I asked.
“I am Doctor Redding,” she replied, lifting her chin, her voice practically dripping with arrogance. “And this is my brother, Professor Redding.”
Professor Redding cringed slightly back. “It’s s-so good to m-meet you when y-you’re awake,” he stammered, offering his hand.
I just stared at his hand, then back up at him. “Awake? Wait, does that mean…?” I stood up, putting my hands on my hips. “So this cramped little room is Lab C? You guys–you’re the ones who examined me all those years ago?”
“You have an excellent memory,” Dr. Redding said.
I took in a deep breath, rubbing my temples. “Well, now that we’re face to face can you please explain to me why you guys have been stalking me?”
“I w-wouldn’t call it stalking,” Prof. Redding muttered.
“You call me every month, wanting me to run a little favor for you,” I pointed out. “And when I first got here you guys called me a few times.”
“Ah,” Professor said, giving me an apologetic look. “Er, uh, the thing is, my sister, Je–“
“PROFESSOR!” Dr. Redding snapped. She grabbed his shoulder and yanked him aside. “Stop calling me by my name!”
Professor frowned then looked down. “Sorry. Um, Doctor.”
“J. Redding,” I said, folding my arms and raising one eyebrow. Dr. Redding gave me a rather nasty glare. “And you?” I turned to her brother.
He looked at his sister who threw up her hands. “You can call him K. If you’re going to be so demanding.”
“J. and K.” I said then tried not to smirk. “I don’t think you’re even making that up.”
“Mr. Danevbie,” Kay said, moving a bit closer to me. “I know th-this sounds w-weird, but I th-think… I mean, w-we think that you’d be the perfect v-volunteer.”
I pulled away from him, breathing heavily. “Volunteer for what?” I asked, my eyes darting back and forth. “On the phone you said something about… babies?”
“We had to lie to get you here,” Jay said. “But please hear us out. When we examined you, it was for a specific reason. And it is why we would like to offer you this opportunity now. Your body reacted well with the drugs we gave you.”
“What?” My head snapped up and I looked at her, then at him, then back at her. “WHAT?!”
“No need to yell, Mr. Danevbie, we are right here,” Jay said.
I buried my face in my hands, trying to remember those awful days so long ago. The headaches, the dizziness, the fear. “You… you put the drugs in my food? Why?”
“We needed to see how this stuff reacted to people who did not know they had it in them,” she said simply. “To people who had no idea it was connected to anything at all.” Then she gave a half-shrug. “Plus we had our eye on you for a while.”
“How could you do that?! That is completely illegal. You guys are going to jail!”
“Mr. D-Danevbie, p-please just l-listen to us!” Kay stammered, reaching for my arm. “I th-think you w-will be quite happy and–and understand wh-what… why we are d-doing this!” Then he rubbed the back of his head, something he had done a lot already. It was a wonder he wasn’t going bald. “At least, I think you will. I th-think you’ll w-want to be part of this.”
“At least listen to our story,” Jay said, her voice a bit softer than usual.
I stepped back and sank back down into the chair. “I’ll bite,” I said. “I doubt you’ll let me outside this place until you do anyway.”
Jay looked quite relieved. “Thank you.” She folded her hands together and took in a few deep breaths. “How well do you know history? I don’t mean ancient history or anything, but the more recent history. About places like Pleasantview and Strangetown?”
This question was so odd that I couldn’t say anything for almost a full minute, but by that point Jay was talking again as she paced around the room.
“Our old world, gone now. Pushed down for the future. Understandable, at least I think it is. However after the old worlds were gone, so were some important things.”
Then Kay stepped forward. “I think w-we should talk about our p-parents before we t-talk about th-that,” he said then turned to face me. He opened and closed his mouth several times, then pulled a piece of candy out of his pocket. “S-sweets help c-calm my nerves.” He quickly popped the candy into his mouth and sucked on it for a moment. When he spoke, he hardly stammered at all.
“Our parents are from the old world. They lived in Strangetown. B-but then they discovered time travel, and came here. Their machine broke down and they were un… unable to go back, but they didn’t care. They liked it here, they made a new life here, and they settled d-down and had us.”
I looked up at him, unable to believe this. “Time travel,” I said slowly. “That exists now, but the people who do time travel are unable to live in any time period but their own.”
“I know!” Kay held up his hands. “But our p-parents did it a different way, an old way. That isn’t the point. They told us stories of the old w-world and–and–“
“You want to go there?” I asked, brow furrowing slightly as I tried to figure out what this had to do with me. Before I could ask, he started speaking.
“T-time machines don’t go there,” Kay said, shoulders drooping.
“We’ve tried,” Jay added. “Time machines are fickle. They’ll take us to the ancient past, or to the future. Places that I have no interest in!”
Kay rolled his eyes slightly and I wondered if he had the same feelings about it as his sister. “So, um, what does this have to do with me?” I asked.
“Just listen!” Jay held up her finger. “Our parents told us about how things were, and how much better this world is. However they were a bit thick about it and frankly, despite their high IQ, they were too blind to see one important detail. One big detail that puts a gulf between our history and our present.”
I looked at her then back at Kay, wondering what this was. Obviously they were waiting for me so I finally asked, “And that is?”
Kay’s eyes widened and she leaned in close. “Mr. Danevbie, there is something from our old world that is not in this world. Something important. Something big. Something so huge, so essential, so eminent, so–so–so crucial to unlocking the biggest mysteries of the universe and give us the most fantastic developments and leaps in technology, more than you could ever imagine!”
I felt my breath catch in my chest and I rose to my feet, staring wide-eyed up at her, actually caught up in her excitement and passion.
“……….” I waited, not sure I heard right but the look on her face seemed to indicate otherwise. I took a few steps forward then turned around, trying to comprehend what had just been said. Very slowly I said, “You… can’t… be… serious.”
“What?” Jay demanded. “Of course I’m serious!”
“Mr. Danevbie? Are you all right?”
“Yes, Mr. Danevbie, aliens.”
“AAAAAHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! ALIENS! ALIENS!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
“I fail to see what is so funny,” Jay said flatly. “Please stop la–“
“AHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! ALIENS? AHAHAHAHAHAHA! ALIENS! AHAHAHAHAHA! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH”
“J-Jay, wh-why is he l-laughing so hard?” Kay stammered. “I d-don’t under-understand…”
“Mr. Danevbie,” Jay hissed out. “I would appreci–“
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! AAAALLLLIENS! AHAHAHA! ALIENS! ALIENS! HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AAAAHAHAHAHAH!!!”
“Mr. Danevbie, please STOP!”
“Hehehehehehehe…” My sides were hurting and I could hardly breathe, finally I was able to calm down a bit. “Heeheheeehehehe… aliens… ahahaha… aliens.” I knew if I looked at Jay I would lose it again so I covered my eyes, still giggling. “Wow, wow. Seriously.”
“Yes!” Jay growled. “Why is that so difficult to believe?”
I clutched at my face, trying not to fall into laughing again. “Okay, okay. So Lab C studies…?” I couldn’t bring myself to say it. It was too much.
“Lab C used to belong to the medical studies,” Jay said coolly. “Then Lab E expanded and Lab C was going to be destroyed. I convinced the Landgraabs to let my brother and I keep the name Lab C and we moved into this room to pursue our own line of studies.”
“Which are aliens,” I snorted out, clutching my face to stop from busting up. “Aliens.”
“Why d-do you seem s-so amused?” Kay asked, looking a bit miserable from my reaction.
I covered my mouth again, holding back the giggles. How could I explain to them what they were to me for so long? Shadows, a big mystery, something to even be terrified of. They admitted to giving me the drugs, something that could get them sent to jail! But… aliens? How was I supposed to tell them it was like they just put on clown noses and started riding unicycles while juggling herrings?
Jay took hold of my arm and pushed me back towards my chair. “Look, Mr. Danevbie, there has been substantial evidence than aliens used to visit our world. Our parents told us that in Strangetown it was a very common occurrence and that aliens even lived there!”
It was so difficult not to start laughing again…. “Go on,” I mumbled from behind my hand.
“All my life I have wanted to meet them,” Jay sighed, looking quite blissful. “My brother has as well. Our parents would tell us about aliens and even had some pictures. They told us everything, but never saw the facts. These higher beings… capable of space travel and more! Imagine how intelligent they are, how amazing it would be to just meet one!”
“W-we’ve d-dreamed of this since before we c-could walk!” Kay added, taking hold of his sister’s sleeve.
“But… why?” I asked then a small giggle escaped my lips. I quickly covered my mouth again.
“They are so much more advanced than us!” Jay said, giving me a wide-eyed look. “Imagine what they could give us, if only they’d come back!”
“Come back?” I asked, tilting my head.
“Aliens used to visit our world all the time,” Jay said. “At least, they would take a few lucky people up in their spaceships. And sometimes they would leave some here. But when the old world was torn down for our new world… they stopped. Aliens stopped visiting us.”
“M-my sister and I have t-tried to figure out why they s-stopped!” Kay half-wailed. “There have b-been three things w-we discovered. I m-mean, that is to say, three links b-between us and them.”
I looked between them. “What are those?”
“One!” Jay exclaimed, holding up one finger. “The most obvious! The old world. Things are different now, but can that really be the reason our visitors from another universe have stopped visiting us?” She spread our hands out. “This is something we can’t change, since the time machines don’t work how I want them to work.”
“The second link between aliens and us are telescopes.” She looked down at the one nearest to her. “People would only get abducted if they were looking through these things but now…” She put a hand on it and sighed, looking as though she would cry. I couldn’t imagine she’d ever so anything so emotional as that. “We have used every telescope known to man. We have taken them apart and put them back together. We’ve made our own, we’ve done everything imaginable with these things.”
“Hours w-we have spent l-looking through them!” Kay added. “All night, many n-nights a we–week. B-but nothing.”
Now they were both staring blankly again and I was beginning to get a very bad feeling. All the humor from this situation dissipated and I wanted to run away as far as possible. There was one more link, and with the way they were looking at me I was too scared to ask but finally I couldn’t take it anymore.
“And the third?” I whispered.
Jay raised her eyebrows and smirked. “The third is the one thing left to us to explore. It is something that… perhaps is not so much a link but an answer. For it was not something that brought the aliens to us… but rather, what they gave us.”
“What did they give us? I thought they didn’t give us anything?” I asked, feeling sick to my stomach.
“Oh but they did, my dear,” Jay said, her smirk spreading into a grin. “Something we need volunteers for. Something we needed people to react positively to that drug we tested on you. Something I believe you will gladly and most happily agree to help us out with. Something that is no longer with us now that the aliens are gone, but something we think holds the key to all this and might even help us contact them, or bring them back!”
“And w-what’s that?” I stammered, pressing my hands against my chest.
“That, Mr. Danevbie, would be male pregnancy.”