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The Madagascar Tree

Chapter Text

The next day they divided into three teams. Maureen and John were to set up the main weather station while Doctor Smith and Don installed a relay station several kilometers to the South, and Will and Judy would install a third relay station several kilometers to the West. Penny stayed at the Jupiter 2 with Robot.

Will and Judy were working on their station near a rocky outcropping. This was their assignment because John and Don had discovered a cave in the rocks they could use for cover in an emergency. It was vital that the stations were installed as soon as possible, but it was dangerous being this far from the ship. But the cave’s natural thermal insulation should protect them if the weather changed quickly.

John and Maureen had dropped supplies off by the cave, then took Will and Judy out to a slightly elevated area on the flat plain where the station was to be erected, two hundred meters away. Judy would help Will get the tower installed, then, as he was getting the components connected, she was to get the supplies in the cave. If all went well, none of it would be needed. John and Maureen would have their tower functioning, then they would pick up Don and Doctor Smith, who had no shelter, drop them off at the Jupiter 2, and get back in the Chariot to pick up Judy and Will and the whole thing would be done by dinner.

As Will dreamed, he remembered how hot he was. The temperature on the plain had climbed to forty seven degrees when they arrived at the location that morning. Perfect for working outside, but the sun was bright. He had started out wearing his parka, but after an hour lying on the sandy surface, the sun rising higher in the sky, he had taken his coat off. He was on his back, under the weather station.

“Could you hand me the C clamp, Judy?”

“Here you go,” she was kneeling next to him. She slid the clamp across the sand until he was able to grab it.

“Thanks.”

He had the mind for electronics, but she was there to help in any way she could. Doctor Smith had volunteered to go with him, but this planet was too dangerous. They needed Will out here, but they weren’t going to trust him with Doctor Smith. Besides, they knew Smith would be little help, and volunteered to go with Will because the boy couldn’t force him to work, and they needed to get this done as quickly as possible.

Judy wiped sweat from her face. “It’s nice for working,” She said, “But that sun is hot.”

“They always are,” Will joked. His upper body was under the weather station. Judy playfully punched him in the leg.

She took her coat off and drank from a canteen. “Will, here. You need water.”

“Just a sec.” She heard the clamp click then he started to slide out. She grabbed his ankles and pulled him from under the unit. He smiled up at her.

“Thanks Judy.” He sat and she handed him the canteen. He drank, then wiped sweat from his brow.

“Okay?” Judy asked. He was dirty and sweaty.

He smiled. “Yeah. You worried about me?”

“Always, Will.”

Then he was embarrassed. “Thanks Judy. But I’m good. I think about an hour maybe to stabilize the tower, then if I can get the feed, I’ll calibrate the sensors and we’re good to go.”

“Okay, well I’m going to get the supplies in the cave and get the synthetic logs set up in case we need to light the fire.” They had found the cave had a natural opening somewhere in the roof, so a fire in the main cavern would warm them, though it would only be necessary if temperatures dropped to subarctic levels. 

“But I think we’ll be done before anything can happen,” Will said.

“We might be, but it could be hours before Dad is back with the Chariot. We don’t want to drag sleeping bags and food supplies around in the middle of an ice storm or something.” She placed a hand on his arm. “I’ll be back in less than an hour.”

She stood and Will laid down and started to slide back under the weather station.

“Will,” Judy said.

“Yeah,” he looked up at her.

“Keep the radio in reach, Okay.”

“I will Judy.”

“And your parka.”

“Judy it’s like fifty degrees.”

“Come on Will, you know better than that.”

He smiled at her. “Okay. Thanks Judy.”

She turned and walked toward the rocky outcropping in the distance. Will slid back under the weather station, pulling his radio with him so he could reach it. Yeah, Judy might act like Mom, sometimes, he thought. But it’s kind of nice too. I like this dream. I hope it stays like this.

 

 

 

Dr. Gaston paused the video on the sleeping boy.

There were three women and four men in the room. Supposedly, it was a subcommittee of the National Security Agency. But it wasn’t. None of them had congressional approval, nor congressional oversight. They had no oversight whatsoever. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was not aware of the meeting. Nor was the President or any other elected official. The group had been buried within the machinations of government for so long no one even remembered their party affiliation nor their political ideology. They were beyond that.

Sometime after World War II, when the Soviet Union acquired nuclear weapons, a few heads of industry, along with some of their political friends, decided that continuity of government was dependent upon a few men and women who would not be influenced by the pesky entanglements of democracy. Profits must flow. So they appointed seven members to a committee. Two each from the legislative, executive, and judicial branch and one Intelligence Czar.

When it came to matters of National Security, nothing moved unless this committee gave it its stamp of approval.

Their nickname within government was UT. No one really remembered what it was supposed to mean, but everyone said it stood for Untouchable.

If there ever was a Deep State, they were it.

Dr. Gaston had been the Intelligence Czar for almost fifteen years. She knew where the bodies were buried.

“This is par for the course,” she said, addressing the others around the table. She looked back at the screen and the image of the sleeping boy.

“Normally his dreams are peaceful, like now,” The woman explained. “But his demons are lurking close, and three or four times a week he has one that causes the reaction you witnessed earlier.”

“Still not talking?” One of the women asked.

“No. He spoke those few words to me, and nothing since. So we know he can talk, he just refuses to.”

“But you called this meeting, so there must be a development.” This was one of the men who represented the Executive Branch. A former colonel in the Air Force, now a low level staffer in the Office of Science and Technology. For twenty years he had flown beneath the radar in a job that no one would notice. Everyone still called him Colonel.

“There is a development,” Dr. Gaston replied. “He’s begun talking in his sleep.”

She picked up the remote and pressed a button. The live feed of Will was replaced by a recording of him. He was asleep, lying on his right side, facing the camera. The date stamp indicated it had occurred a week earlier. Dr Gaston pressed the play button and they could see the boy was restless. His legs kicked a couple times, he put his arms above his head, then he whispered something.

Dr. Gaston paused the recording, turned up the volume, played it again. “They never die,” the boy mumbled. But it was clear enough for them all to hear.

“They never die?” One of the women around the table said. “What does he mean?”

“Nothing,” Doctor Gaston replied. “Just the dreams of a traumatized boy who doesn’t know who he is. Unless there are more recordings.”

She picked up the remote again and the image changed to Will asleep in bed five nights earlier. When she pressed the play button this time he was more animated. Tossing and turning and mumbling continuously. When she turned up the volume, they heard him say, “It’s in the water. They can’t grow up. They can’t die.”

Gaston paused the recording, then went back to the live feed of Will who was once again sleeping peacefully.

“Still, this would mean nothing,” she said. “But I started putting the pieces together. After missing for four years, the boy returned to Earth through an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.”

“A what?” One of the men asked.

“A wormhole,” She explained. “Einstein and a Physicist named Nathan Rosen proposed that there could be wormholes, or tunnels, connecting two points of space time, allowing travel between these two points.

“We have never been able to prove the existence of wormholes, let alone figure out how to open one or...most importantly...how to keep one open long enough to send even a particle through it if we did manage to find one. But after almost a month, this one is still there. Still stable, just outside our atmosphere. And a space pod with a fourteen year old boy apparently traveled through it.

“Obviously advanced technology. Alien technology. Except, in the few words the boy spoke to me, he said humans built it. And when I suggested it was from the future, he said it was the opposite of that. The opposite of the future is...”

“The past,” one of the other women said. “I’m still not clear what you are proposing.”

“The other thing our Will Robinson said to me when I asked him where the container was from that he traveled in, was ‘the second star to the right. Straight on till morning."

“This is a quote from Peter Pan. Peter is telling Wendy where to find Never Never Land.”

“Where The Lost Boys live,” another of the men said. “Who never grow up.”

“Where they don’t age,” Dr. Gaston agreed. “Now, none of this might mean anything at all. The boy has had an experience that he can’t even begin to understand. He is all alone in the world. He has no idea who he is. He’s bound to have trauma and there is no way to know what reactions that will cause in him. He could hallucinate. He could fantasize. He could just make things up. Still, that doesn’t explain the physical evidence. The wormhole. The unit that he was contained in that kept him alive.

“And we have more,” she added after a pause.

“What more?” One of the other men asked.

“We have the death bed confession of one, Walter Wright Shoemacher.”

“Who?” One of the women asked.

“Walter Wright Shoemacher,” Dr. Gaston replied. She pressed the button on the remote and the image of an old man sitting at a desk covered with colored pencils and large sheets of white paper appeared. The man was staring into the camera, with hardly a smile. The papers on his desk were covered with drawings of some type, though in the photo it was hard to tell what they were.

“Mr. Shoemacher was an early illustrator of Science Fiction. Comic books, magazines, cinema posters in the golden age of Hollywood.” She pressed the remote and beautiful photos of otherworldly images flashed across the screen. There was a planet surrounded with colorful rings and gaseous formations. There were images of bizarre desert landscapes, wide oceans and brilliant, futuristic cities, complete with flying vehicles and shiny, silver buildings of various shapes and sizes. The planet was surrounded by six moons.

“They’re beautiful,” One of the women said.

“Mr. Shoemacher was born in eighteen eighty in Aurora Texas, and died in nineteen sixty seven in San Louis Obispo, California,” Dr. Gaston said. “When he was in his last days of life, he called his granddaughter, Margaret Snelling, to his room and asked everyone else to leave. And he told her a story. She kept the story to herself for many years, not really sure what to think, until she contacted her son in law, who was a government liaison in the Air Force. In nineteen seventy nine she told him the story. She had developed cancer and decided she didn’t want her grandfather’s story to die with her.

“The story was pushed up the line, then back down the line, then under a rug somewhere until it was forgotten. But I remembered it.”

“How did you know about it?” The Lieutenant asked.

“That’s what I do,” She answered. 

She pressed the button on the remote again, and an image of an old weathered newspaper article appeared. She zoomed until they could all read it. It was from the Dallas Morning News, dated April 19, 1897. The article described a UFO incident in which the craft struck a windmill and crashed on the property of a farmer. The article stated that a pilot, who seemed to be from another planet, had been in the ship and died in the crash and was buried at a local cemetery.

“I’ve heard of this,” One of the men at the table said. “It wasn’t Roswell material though.”

“No,” Dr. Gaston said. “It wasn’t. Maybe because it was fifty years earlier. The story goes, they ended up taking the remnants of the ship this pilot was in and dumping it down a well. Which tells me the craft was small.”

“You don’t think there’s something to this do you, Doctor?” One of the women asked.

“I don’t take anything lightly, but I never gave this much thought. I had watched a video of Mr. Shoemacher’s granddaughter, Margaret Snelling, reading his death bed confession seven or eight years ago, and I remembered it after watching Will Robinson talk in his sleep.” Gaston pressed the button on the remote and a video appeared of an elderly woman, sharply dressed, sitting at a table, holding a few sheets of faded notebook paper.