I wrote this quite awhile back, but since I’ve decided to hold on to book 2, I wanted to share this chapter so I can introduce one of my favorite characters. This chapter is the first in which Carson’s new companion Squeak comes along. If you read it, there’s obviously going to somewhat of a spoiler alert, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows the general direction that the story is going toward. So it won’t really give that much away. Anyway, I hope you like her. She was inspired by a combination of Ducky from Land Before Time and my own pup, Mr. Baxter.
What the Hell?
Carson, is that you?
The morning after his first night in his new Pod residence, Carson wakes up in his bed overlooking the living area. Rolling over, his inner dialogue wishes him good morning.
Um…who else would it be? Stupid Brain. Can’t take you anywhere.
Yeah…dumb question Carson, my B. Anyway, so we’re on a freaking space plane. Thoughts?
I’m glad you asked. WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON?! IS THIS REAL? That was actually the first thing to cross my mind. But then I consider how much thought we’ve put into all of this, like that signal and whatnot. Then I think about how normal it probably all is. In fact, there are probably a gazillion other things out there in the universe right this very instant, thinking this very same thought, reading this same damn thing, all at the same time. And you and me would never know. Wanna know why? CAUSE THE UNIVERSE IS TOO. DAMN. BIG. Yeah. Them’s my thoughts.
Well smack me silly and tickle me Elmo! Well said my man! You’re probably right. This reality of ours is too big for us to try to think about. In other news, however, is a more pressing matter. What is our plan to reunite with our fair lady? We can’t stay up here forever.
Good point, Brain. You’re so wise. So, about that.
Well…what’s the plan?
OH! I assumed you understood that I was actually asking you that. That wasn’t a rhetorical question. Idiot.
Hey! Gimme a break here, I was letting you lead. I thought you were going for some sort of cinematic suspense. Sorry. But I don’t know, honestly. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I haven’t decided. I guess we should ask Xun. But what if the world’s gonna end? Would we want to go back?
I mean yeah. Jennifer’s there, after all. And we love her.
True. And that’s really the most important thing, isn’t it? Love.
It really is. Why else would we do all the crap we do in our lives? Do you think people WANT to work 40 hours a week at a job they pretend to like just so they can pay bills to sustain the life that they’re “supposed” to live? If it ain’t for love, I don’t know what is.
Man. Deep thoughts. Anyway, the important thing is that we need to get back to Jennifer. She’s seriously the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Deal?
ANYWAY!! Time to get up!
Sitting up in his bed, Carson rubs his eyes as he looks out of the small porthole on the wall at the side of his bed, seeing Earth floating millions of miles away. Seemingly out of nowhere, a strange, high-pitched female voice startles him.
“Looks peaceful, dunnit?
“What the hell?” Carson says, turning around to look at a light purple, grey spotted odd-looking creature in front of him. “What in the world are you?”
“I’m your partner!” The tiny four legged, elephant-shaped thing on his floor says.
“My partner? For what?” Carson asks. “You look like you just walked out of that old Nintendo game. What was it called…Q-Bert!” He adds, looking at the long, one-nostriled cylindrical nose it has protruding from its face.
“Oh, you know. Just stuff.” It says, clumsily hopping toward him. “They give us to you things to feel safe, you know? Like a friend. You’ll probably be here awhile.”
“Yeah! You know, the things that always come up here when they’re trying out a new species. They always bring some of you things up while they watch you. To get to know you and stuff.”
“Ummmmm…I see.” Carson replies, picking his feet up so the creature can walk underneath them to the porthole.
“Yep! So peaceful.” It squeaks, propping itself against the wall so it can look out at Earth.
Dumbfounded, yet slightly humored, Carson grins at the cute little thing struggling to look out the porthole.
“Here, let me help you.” He says, setting a pile of books that the Organization has provided underneath it.
“Thank you!” The creature says, excitedly.
“So do you have a name?” Carson asks, still grinning.
Turning its head to look back at him, still leaning against the wall, the creature bats its eyes at Carson before replying.
“No, I don’t think so. I think you can name me.” It squeaks.
“I’m sorry. This is absolutely hilarious.” Carson says, sitting on the bed. “Alright then, well are you a boy or a girl?” He asks.
“A girl, I think.” She replies.
“Great. Well, let’s see. You’re adorable. You’re colorful. You’ve got a high-pitched, squeaky voice. You’ve got four legs and a Q-Bert face. Hmm…” He says, searching for an appropriate name. “Tell you what, I have an idea. Run to the door.”
“The door?” The creature asks, turning around off the wall to face him.
“Yep. The door. Run to it.” Carson replies, pointing to the sliding door that’s about eight feet from the creature.
Swiveling to face the door, the creature begins to hop toward it in an overly exerted effort, sliding onto its face as its reaches its destination.
“Okay, that might have been the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Carson says, falling back onto his mattress laughing hysterically.
Regaining her footing and coming to, the creature hops over close to Carson’s feet.
“Did that make you happy? Yay! I think we will get along great.”
Sitting back up and hoisting her into his lap, Carson looks at the little creature’s big bubbly, blue eyes.
“Alright. You need a name. The hopping thing didn’t give me the idea I thought it would. So I’m going with my gut. How about Squeak?”
“Squeak?” The creature asks.
“Yeah! Squeak. It’s perfect. It personifies you. You have a squeaky voice and you’re freaking cute as a button. Squeak fits you perfectly.”
Looking up at him, Squeak smiles as her big bubbly eyes blink.
“Yeah, I think so too.” She says.
“Great!” Carson says, setting Squeak down and standing up. “Now, back to reality. Do I need like a leash for you or something?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Squeak says, hopping alongside him. “I think I’ll just follow you around.”
“Sounds like a plan. You sure do think a lot!” Carson says, laughing. “Let’s go find Xun. I need to figure out when I’m going back.”
Descending the stairs from his unit’s bedroom, Carson sets out to find his abductor. By now he’s become somewhat familiar with the ship, but still hasn’t been able to get his bearings on where exactly everything is located.
Crossing one of the catwalks, Carson and Squeak walk past several strange looking aliens. It’s obvious that the ship is a melting pot of different species, most of which are bipedal and at least somewhat humanoid. Its clear that life evolves in an almost infinite number of ways, made obvious by the sheer diversity of creatures on the ship.
Continuing along the inner walkway, Squeak hops happily behind Carson.
“So where are we going?” She asks, shooing a colorful butterflee off the railing with her trunk.
“I told you, to find Xun! I’m thinking he’s back in the Observatory.” Carson replies, hastening his pace.
Struggling to keep up, Squeak begins to pant.
“Slow down, please! I’m little, remember?”
“Okay, okay. Sorry.” Carson laughs, picking her up. “C’mon. This’ll be easier.”
“Yeah, I think so too!” Squeak says.
Making their way to the Observatory, the pair finds Xun standing by the window looking out at Earth. Hearing them enter the room, he turns to face them.
“Greetings, Carson. I see you’ve acquainted yourself with your companion.” He says, smiling at Squeak.
“Yeah, seems like I have.” He says, setting the tiny creature down.
“What exactly am I supposed to do with this thing?” He asks, nodding his head toward her.
“We provide them to visitors who display a need for emotional attachment.” Xun says. “As you become exposed to the various species in the universe, you will realize that psychological makeup differs significantly from civilization to civilization. Some require emotional companionship, and your species falls into that category. So, occasionally we provide creatures such as yours here to fulfill that requirement. It isn’t something we always do, but anything that help fulfill your instincts is good in our eyes.”
“I see…” Carson says, sitting down on the long bench in front of him. “So basically you’re saying you’ve given me a pet?”
“Precisely.” Xun says with a smile.
“Gotcha. So anyway, what have you learned about us so far? Any Earth-shattering developments?” He asks, thinking back to Brody’s pun in his apartment.
“None so far.” Xun replies with a slight frown. “We have been observing your current state of affairs from here. As I told you before, we generally attempt to contact the leaders of a civilization when we begin our induction process, but your situation is rather….unique. It seems that the carefully crafted structure of your society has broken, now that your world believes they have only a small time left to live. It has proved difficult for my team to identify leaders among your people amidst the chaos.”
Grimacing, Carson pats Squeak on the head as she curls into a ball to take a nap““.
“Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. Things kind of crumbled when Yuri spilled the beans on the whole timeline thing.”
“Tell me what happened, my friend. This is quite an alarming situation to which we’ve been introduced.”
Shaking his head, Carson has a gloomy look spread over his face.
“Man, I don’t even know where to start. Like, I’m pretty sure our entire history has been riddled with fights. It’s like our species wants so badly to be good, but we’re our own worst enemy and we keep letting monsters make all the rules. But as far as this stupid asteroid goes, we found it a few months back. We don’t have any sort of super advanced technology or anything like I’m sure your Organization does, so we had to give it our best guess in terms of predicting its behavior. So they told everyone we had like thirty something years until it’s gonna hit. Plenty of time to find a solution, right?”
Nodding his head with an expression of concern, Xun seems genuinely sad after hearing Caron explain the world’s recent events.
“Anyway,” Carson goes on, “the people who you would consider our ‘leaders’ started building a ship. They were going to divert the rock away from the planet to save us. Well, sure enough, one of our species ’bad apples’ decided that he could use the asteroid to solve an energy crises that we have. So he wanted to deflect it just far enough to where it would get caught in our planet’s orbit. His plan was to send ships out to mine the thing. Which actually, now that I think about it, isn’t all that bad. Cause we really need help with that. Only he blew up the ship our leaders were building, and killed a bunch of people to replace it with one of his own.”
“That sounds pretty bad,” Xun says, shaking his head.
“And I’m not even done.” Carson says. ‘If all that weren’t enough, turns out that our ‘leaders’ had been lying to us. The ‘bad apple’ I told you about found out that realistically, we only have about three years until impact. Closer to two now, now that time’s gone by. So when he found that out, he lost it. He told the whole world, and now you see what you see.”
Looking toward the ground, Xun rubs the back of his neck.
“Right?” Carson says. “Like what else can you say? But this is why I hate that you’re seeing us just now. You’re seeing us at our worst. It’s not really a fair time to judge, you know?”
“Well let me ask you this, my friend. What was it like before all of this?”
Softly laughing, Carson looks up, trying to find an answer.
“Before? Well…truthfully it wasn’t all that different. We’ve had a lot of wars throughout our entire existence. And don’t get me wrong, I’m no historian or anything, but I’ve never really, really, understood the point of most of them. There we’re some that mattered, though, you know? Like ones where people we’re just fed up with how awful they were being treated to the point that they took up arms and literally risked their lives. But for the most part, the bulk of us just want to get along and enjoy life. It’s the bad apples that end up causing the ruckus man. I wish I had a better answer, because I know I’m sort of speaking on behalf of my entire planet here, but I guess it is what it is. We really do have a lot of potential though, Xun. I promise.”
Patting him on the knee as he stands up, Xun smiles at Carson.
“You know, Carson, I am glad to have met you. I believe you will fit in quite nicely with our Organization.”
Looking up at Carson, Squeak shakes after getting up from the nap she’d been taking.
“I think so too!” She says.
“Well I hope this works out, my man.” Carson says to Xun, holding his fist out.
“As do I, my friend.” Xun says, bumping Carson’s fist with a smile.