Judy hugged Will. He was in bed and she was sitting beside him. Her room was across the hall.
“Here, only take one,” she said, pouring a pill out of the plastic capsule, then putting the capsule in his top drawer. He had asked for something to help him sleep. Tomorrow would be a long day for him. She handed him the pill, then the glass of water from the end table. He swallowed it, washing it down with the water, then she took the glass back and sat it down.
“You good?” She asked her brother.
“I miss them,” He answered. It had been almost a month.
“Me too, Will,” She said. “They said after the run, we will get to see them.”
“Yeah, for a few days. I wish you hadn’t stayed Judy.”
“I wouldn’t have done anything else. You know that.”
“I know. But I’m still sorry.”
“I miss them too, Will, but I’m not sorry. I will always watch out for you.”
“You’re never going to have your own life, then.”
“I don’t even know what that means, Will. My life is here with you and that’s where I want it to be until you have your own life too. Now get some sleep. Tomorrow you are going to do what they brought you here for. We’re going back home. And we thought that would never happen.” She kissed him on the cheek and got up and walked out the door, glancing at the guard standing in the hallway. She turned back and smiled at her brother, leaving his door open.
Home, the boy thought. Funny, they did see Earth as home still, even after three years. He opened the drawer again, took out the pill bottle, put two more pills in his hand, then swallowed them with the water. Now let’s see what happens, he thought. He closed his eyes.
The rain was coming down hard, the wind strong enough that fronds were blowing from the palm trees around the property above the house on the bluff, tumbling down toward the ocean below.
The boy walked out on the balcony. He held the rail and looked down to the churning waves, far beneath the cliff. A gust of wind blew him back, causing him to grip the rail tighter.
“Wow,” the voice was inside his head.
“I knew it was only a matter of time.”
“I kept seeing this,” Will said. “I didn’t know what it was.”
“I felt you,” his counterpart said. “I started to tell you once, but I didn’t want to help. I thought it might. But I wanted to see if you could do it on your own. Actually come to our world.”
“The pier, I didn’t understand how people walked on the water,” Will said, looking far below and across the wind-swept beach toward where the pier should be, now hidden in the storm.
“They don’t. It’s invisible. Well, practically invisible. If you are standing on it you can see an outline of the structure below the water line, if you know what you are looking for. We try to make ourselves a part of the environment as much as possible. Walking on the pier is like walking on the waves. There is an entire marine ecosystem around the pylons that’s incredible to observe. I will show you when the weather is better. If you come back.”
“Why wait?” Will asked. He felt the boy grin.
Thirty minutes later they were walking along the beach, the boy leaning into the wind to keep from being blown sideways, the sand stinging his skin. “Can you feel it?” He asked.
“Yes,” Will answered.
The boy had taken the tube all the way to the ground. Had the weather been nice, he would have taken the PFU. He was sure Will would love that. Maybe he would be back.
It was almost three in the morning, so getting out of the house hadn’t been a problem. Still, his family would think this was crazy. It just wasn’t the kind of thing their people did. They had built a world designed to protect themselves from the environment, and now here he was…they were…walking on an abandoned beach in the early morning hours in practically hurricane force winds.
“My father would love this,” Will said.
They were at the pier before Will noticed it. Everything had been completely dark. But now he felt the foundation change under his counterpart’s feet, from sand to whatever the dock was made of.
Lights began to come on overhead as they walked. There were no light poles. The boy felt his question and looked up into the falling rain toward the light. “They look like they are floating,” Will said.
“Do you know why?” The boy asked.
“Because they are floating.” Will felt the amusement.
“Maybe you do have a sense of humor,” Will said. “I’ve been calling your people Vulcans in my mind.”
“Spock was half human,” The boy replied. He felt Will’s surprise. “You were a fountain of information back when we were little,” the boy explained. “Contact’ was my favorite movie when we were four. You watched it with your family. I wanted to meet aliens so badly after that.”
“OK to go,” Will quoted in the boy’s mind. They smiled.
They were still above the sand, the surf maybe twenty meters ahead. Now Will could see the frames of businesses along the pier, though everything was still dark. But as they passed the buildings, lights came on above the doors, illuminating restaurants, bars, and shops as they walked by. Will thought much of it wasn’t really different than earth, except that all the walls seemed to be made of glass, and were completely see-through once the lights came on.
“It isn’t much different. But you’ve made everything different, for me.”
“I forgot we were using the same mind,” Will said.
Now they were over the water. Lights appeared below them as they walked, illuminating the ocean under the waves. “It’s incredible,” Will said, as they looked down. There were fish that he had never seen before, most of them small, but occasionally he would see a long, dark shadow at a lower depth. “Sharks?” Will asked.
“Not quite. At the end of the pier there is more illumination, let’s see if we can get a view of it, then you tell me what it is.”
The boy was soaked now, and was walking directly in to the wind. He stepped closer to the edge of the pier, then reached out as if he was gripping the air, but a rail appeared as his hand got closer, and the boy grasped it. It had seemed invisible too, until a heat source was near.
“You guys have cool toys,” Will said in the boy’s mind.
They used the rail to steady as they walked to the end of the pier. The sea beneath became illuminated all around, and Will knew they were at the end. The boy was gripping the rail with both hands, the wind was hitting him hard, the rain coming in sideways, stinging his skin more than before, now that he was facing in to it. Far out in the ocean they saw lightening.
The boy let go of the rail, lifting his hands toward the wind and rain, and called out loudly against the storm.
“Are you scared?” Will asked him in his mind.
“Wonderfully so,” The boy answered aloud.
They stood looking out to sea, then the boy said, “here it comes.” They were looking down toward the ocean when Will saw the long, dark shadow. It was growing closer, coming out of the depths. Then it leaped out of the water, no further than two meters in front of them. It had to be four meters long. It had skin with lines running through it, almost as if someone had put it together like a jig saw puzzle. Then Will realized it was naturally armored. It had a wide mouth that looked almost unhinged when it leapt from the water, but there were no teeth showing. It rose almost three meters above the waves, looked at the boy on the pier, then splashed back in to the ocean and slid beneath the depths.
“A Dunkleosteus!” Will cried out, making the boy cry out with him. It unsettled Will’s counterpart slightly. He was surprised that Will was able to cause a physical reaction in him.
“Yes,” he answered, mentally. “We have many animals that are not extinct here, that you believe are in your world. Many of them have just not been seen in centuries. And when they were, they became the sea monsters of your legends.”
They stood watching the storm for a while, then Will said, “I’ve been having a dream. It’s like the dream I had of the beach. It’s recurring, but always a little different. But with the beach, I was trying to get there for comfort. Because my family was there waiting. But this dream is different. It’s about a city on some planet I’ve never been to. And I get the feeling it’s in a galaxy no one has ever discovered. It’s in the future, and my sisters are in it every time. We’re older. Sometimes in our twenties and thirties. I think last time even older. But it’s not comforting. It’s...different. I don’t know. There is a sense of adventure every time. And Danger. But I’m not afraid. Have you felt this dream?”
“No,” the boy answered in his mind. “I don’t know this dream. But…I’ve felt your other dream.”
Will didn’t answer, but he knew where it was going, so after a while he said, “What will they do now?”
There was a pause as the boys looked out at the sea, watching the lightening. Then the boy said, “They have planned this for a thousand years. They cannot stop because I failed them.”
“Can anything be done?” Will asked.
“You know. You know what your dream means.”
Will sighed. They both felt it. “I tried to pretend it was over for us, but I knew it wasn’t,” he said, sadly.
“Of course you did. There is only one way this could end. You set the path in motion when you gave yourself up to them.”
“Yes,” Will said. “But I gave us both up. I put us both on the same path.”
“We were on the same path from the day we were born, Will. Neither of us had a choice.”
They watched the storm a while longer. Then Will said, “If I do this, no one will understand. Maybe there’s another way.”
The boy didn’t respond.
“My sisters will never forgive me. And Judy…Judy will hate me forever,” Will said.
The only answer was the rush of the wind and the pounding of the hard rain.