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George McCarthy

Second Coming

© 2015 George McCarthy All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the author.

ISBN: 978-1-4575-3970-1

This book is a work of fiction. Places, events, and situations in this book are purely fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Cover art designed and drawn by Megan Garmel McCarthy

C H A P T E R 1

At 12:30 am, Detective Sergeant Danny Warburton climbed into his Hyundai Santa Fe for the

25-minute drive home. It hadn’t been a particularly busy shift, but he’d had a short delay getting out of the bureau because he’d gone over some late paperwork. He continually told his detectives to get their reports to him prior to 11, but on the rare occasion when they did get them in late, he didn’t break balls. They were a good bunch. They might screw around sometimes, but when there was serious work to be done they never let him down.

Danny usually went to the department weight room after work, which was on the third floor of the building, but tonight he didn’t feel up to it. The combination of the 30-minute delay to get off work and the five hours he’d spent mowing the lawn and doing other yard chores before his shift were cause enough to skip the workout.

At 5’9”, 175 pounds, and 38 years old, he tried to keep himself in shape. His short, curly brown hair showed traces of grey at the temples and a patch on the right side over his forehead. He supposed that weight training and jogging every other day were his way of trying to hang onto his youth.

Danny looked over the cloth CD holder that slipped onto the visor and couldn’t decide who he wanted to listen to. He had several choices from Fiona Apple, Sade, and Norah Jones: he was a sucker for a sultry voice. He narrowed it down to the smooth jazz saxophone of Mindi Abair or the sweet voice of Corinne Bailey Rae. Mindi’s sax was what he usually needed after a long shift, but the last eight hours were not stressful. He popped in a Bailey Rae CD and began the short ride home.

The Santa Fe hit the Warburton driveway just before 1 am, and the operator headed for the dimly lit house. Danny was used to unlocking the door and easing in as quietly as possible. His wife of 13 years, Carmel, was asleep in the master bedroom. The girls, Kate and Sandy, shared a room on the second floor, and his son Jack, the youngest of the three, had his own room next to the girls. Danny looked in on Jack and then the girls.

Kate and Sandy were getting bigger and were cramped in one room. He looked at the posters and pictures of the current teen idols and boy bands that covered the walls and the clutter of furniture and thought for the tenth time that week that they needed a four-bedroom house. He could convert the basement into another bedroom, but Carmel was reluctant to have an 11-year-old on her own down there. He didn’t understand his wife’s argument, but he’d told Kate he would work on her mother. Maybe by the end of summer he could soften Carmel’s stance and then have the fall and winter to work on that project.

Danny liked doing construction-type projects and was good with his hands. He had learned a lot from his grandfather and uncles, who had all been in the construction business for years. He thought of it as relaxing, and the orderliness of it all, the measuring, cutting, drilling, and hammering, also appealed to him. Sometimes it seemed to him that the carpentry was the exact opposite of what he did for a living. He liked police work too, but wearing the badge brought on the responsibility of others and being a supervisor added to that responsibility, which occasionally became heavy.

He poured himself a glass of merlot, unwrapped a Hav-A-Tampa, and stepped onto the back deck. He kept the drinking down to one or two glasses of wine when he did indulge, he was all too aware of his problem with the bottle during his army years. On the flip side, he was nowhere near ready to give up his nightly cigar. Danny lit the cigar and inhaled deeply, knowing, as do all smokers, that this wasn’t good for him but enjoying it immensely. He settled into a deck chair and relished the early June night. The sky was clear, the half-moon was visible through the trees, and about a million stars were shining overhead.

He didn’t like a lot of things about working the 4 to midnight shift, such as being away from dinner with his family; getting called back to work a serious crime after one or two hours of sleep; and then following leads for the next 20 hours, to name a few. But his wine, cigar, and the solitude of the early morning hours were some of the perks.

Before he was done with half of the cigar, Danny had drained the glass of wine and knew that this was a two-glass night. Balancing the cigar on the ash tray, he stood and went inside to pour himself another glass. He returned to his seat with his refill and stared out into the night. As the wine’s warmth coursed through his body, he did what he did at least once a week during his time on the deck: he reflected on his life to this point.

He always thought that he’d had it pretty good. He was 38 years old and had been married to Carmel for 13 years. She was five years his junior and as hot as the day she said “I do.” Carmel had blessed him with three children. Katherine, the oldest at eleven, and Sandra, at nine, were his two beautiful princesses. Jack, who wasn’t planned, was six and the spitting image of his father.

He had been on the New Britain Police Department for 15 years, the last two in the Detective Bureau. He loved his assignment, and he had the greatest crew he could have hoped for. All in all, he was very happy with his life so far. Were there days that sucked? Sure there were, but they were nothing when you looked at the bigger picture.

He sat on his back deck with a wide grin on his face, as he always did when he thought of his family and his career. Then he noticed a bright spot in the sky that seemed to be right above his head. The flash of light was far away, and his attention was diverted to a movement in the back yard. A deer, perhaps? When he looked back toward the sky, he was surprised to see that the bright spot was a lot closer and was bright enough to make him squint. Danny stood in shock and watched as the light came even closer to his house. He felt like he couldn’t move as the light came closer and slowed to a hover over the deck.

He was able to see some detail of a device that had an aura about it which he assumed accounted for the glow. It was metallic and about as big as a refrigerator but thinner. Two metal protrusions were at the top and the bottom, and Danny instantly thought they were antennae. He was sure he was seeing a UFO and took a step back as the object came to a stop about a foot from the deck and ten feet from him. Blue and red lights were on either side of the UFO, and he could do nothing but stare into the aura of the device.

His breath was shallow, and he felt an electricity surround his body. The UFO split down the middle, and a set of double doors opened up, as blinding light hit him in the face. He felt a presence envelope him, and the next thing he knew he was under the UFO in some kind of bubble that afforded him oxygen and he was rocketing up toward space at an incredible speed.

Danny struggled to remain conscious as he left the earth’s atmosphere and headed toward the dark side of the moon. As he circled the moon, he saw a large object on the far side and mouthed the words that he would come to call the object in the following years: Mother Ship. Before he had another thought, the g-force became too much, and he passed out.

# # #

A low humming sound seemed to come from nearby and far away at the same time. This was the first thought that Danny had as he struggled to consciousness. At first he didn’t know where he was and believed he was in his own bed and couldn’t understand why he didn’t feel Carmel next to him. As his eyes focused and he came out of his haze, three bright lights flicked on over his head. He remembered the ride below the UFO, and he bolted upright. Danny looked around and saw that he was in a small room with grey curved walls. The only fixture was the bench where he had been sleeping. His cop instincts kicked in, and he immediately looked for clues for a way out. He noticed that the walls looked smooth, and he saw no crease or break that indicated a doorway. The air that he breathed tasted fresh, but no vents or other openings were visible for air circulation.

He knew that he was inside a UFO, specifically the large ship he saw on the dark side of the moon: the Mother Ship. Some of his friends used to give him a hard time for believing other intelligent life existed in the universe and not believing in a supreme being, but for Danny, aliens were a matter of odds. If the scientists were to be believed and the universe was endless and also expanding, then the odds that humans were the only intelligent life was not only arrogant but illogical. But to believe in a “God” that watched over humanity just did not wash with him. He had seen too much of man’s inhumanity to man as a cop, especially considering the state of the world today, what with starvation and oppression in third world countries, dictators who lived lavish lives as their people struggled to survive, and few cared when the elderly, infirm, and very young were victimized. No, if there were a being that cared for the people of the world, and he had the power to save the truly innocent, it would be only logical that he would intervene. But since no one has intervened, the only conclusion is that this Supreme Being does not exist. Danny was a diehard atheist, but given the circumstances he currently found himself, he hoped he was wrong, and whatever God was out there would save him from an alien anal probe.

As soon as he got up from the bench, it slid into the wall and disappeared. He watched the bench go into the wall, but as soon as it was gone, he saw no indication that it was ever there. He could see no seam where the bench was. He ran his hand over the space previously occupied by the bench but felt only the smooth wall. Danny felt his way around the room in hopes that he could determine the location of the door by touch, because his eyes saw nothing. The magic show that the bench put on dashed his hopes of locating the exit. Nonetheless, because he couldn’t think of anything else to do, he went to the wall and work his way around the room feeling for any abnormality. He started to move to his left and was about ten feet from where he began, when he heard a whoosh from his right and turned to see a doorway open up as a portion of the wall moved from the floor into the ceiling.

Danny went for his off duty weapon on his right hip and then heard himself mutter “shit”. He usually carried a Smith and Wesson 40 caliber in a pancake holster when he was off duty but it wasn’t there now. Back for her last birthday he had bought Carmel a bistro set for the back deck. It was a nice little set with two wicker chairs on swivel bases and a glass top table. The first time after he had bought the set, he went out to the back deck for his after work wine and cigar. His Smith was strapped on, and when he sat in the bistro chair, the bottom of the holster jammed against the arm of the chair and drove the grip of the gun into his side. Since that day, Danny always put the Smith in the lock box before pouring his wine. He knew this when he reached for the side arm, but it was instinct to fill his hand when he felt threatened.

All he could do was stare at the opening in the wall. He felt a presence about to enter the room and didn’t even realize that he was holding his breath.

C H A P T E R 2

Danny began breathing again with a deep inhale that filled his lungs, and then he took shallow and rapid gulps of air as adrenalin coursed through his body. He could only stare in astonishment as two robed beings entered the room. From the time he awoke, he’d known he was in some kind of alien craft, but to be in the presence of other beings that were not human and whose intentions were unknown was unnerving.

His first observation was that the aliens were quite tall. He estimated that both were about eight feet in height. At 5’9”, he was used to being a little shorter than most males of his species, but he felt particularly dwarfed by this pair. The robes were dark green but at times shimmered as the beings moved, which gave them a metallic air. Their faces, if they had any, were not visible, as were any other parts of their bodies.

The aliens seemed to glide rather than walk to the center of the room, as Danny instinctively tried to put a wall to his back and moved to the farthest part of the room from the aliens. About the time he was assigned to the Detective Division, Danny was asked by the commander of the SWAT team, Captain Franti, to take over as supervisor of the Crisis Negotiating team. This was a dream come true for him, as being a crisis negotiator was one of the jobs he wanted since his first day on the department and relished in the intense training that ensued. It was this training that kicked in during the stress of the initial encounter with the aliens on the Mother Ship.

With no weapons, he thought his chances of overpowering the two aliens were thin at best. And besides, what would he do if he succeeded in escaping this room? Danny had no way of knowing how many more occupied the ship. Even if these were the only two, how would he get back to Earth? He didn’t think he’d find an instruction manual on how to drive this thing in the glove compartment. No, in this situation Danny believed that his best course of action would be to rely on his skills as a negotiator. Apparently Franti knew what he saw in the new Detective Sgt. as he excelled as a negotiator and was able to use that gift to talk people out of their current actions and believe that the alternative that he suggested was actually what was best for them, which was often the truth. He was good and had saved lives by using only words.

Danny began “Good evening. My name is Detective Sergeant Daniel Warburton, and I assume you wished to speak to me on some matter. I only deduce this based on the extravagant measures you have used in order to bring me here.”

The aliens appeared to face each other, but this was a guess on Danny’s part, as he could not see their faces. The negotiator gave it a few minutes, but no response seemed to be forthcoming from the space-bred Sequoias. He wondered if they didn’t understand what he was saying. He knew a little Spanish from his days working patrol division in New Britain, and he’d picked up some German from two years when he was stationed there in the Army. But he was only fluent in English, so they’d have to adapt.

He continued, “ Okay, you guys want something from me, and I want to go home and cuddle up with my naked wife and get some sleep before I have to go back to work at 4. But I have to tell you that I will not say anything about the Earth’s defenses against an alien invasion, mostly because I don’t know anything about that shit. I’ve been out of the military for 17 years. But even if I did know, I would rather die first than give you an advantage in a fight. And speaking of a fight, you two are in for a big one if you think you’re putting any kind of probe up my ass. Those are the ground rules, everything else is negotiable.”

Danny heard the response more in his head than through his ears as one of the aliens spoke. “Daniel, we do not believe you are in a position to negotiate. We have no desire to place anything in your rectum, and if we wanted to take over your planet, we would have done so thousands of years ago. But you are correct in your assessment that we want something from you. My partner and I are scientists on our planet and have traveled great distances to conduct an experiment on Earth. And you, Daniel, are the person we have chosen to take part in this experiment. But before we tell you any more, I must inform you that if this experiment produces negative results it may cause your planet to be isolated from the peaceful planets of this universe, which may mean extinction for your species.”

His bravado was shaken by the alien’s response. Foolishly he thought by taking the reins in the conversation he could gain some kind of advantage. But these two knew they held all the cards. They knew his name and probably knew all about his life, as they said he was “chosen” for their experiment, unless this choice was random, which he felt was not the case. This was the reason behind the hesitation in a response but he did gather his wits and said, “Ok, I admit that you seem to have the upper hand. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have nothing to negotiate. You yourself said that you want something from me, that you are scientists conducting an experiment. It doesn’t sound like you’re talking about a rat-in-a-maze type of experiment. It sounds like you are going to ask if I want to participate in this thing.”

“You are correct, Daniel, in assuming that we would like your cooperation in this endeavor. You are our first choice, but not our only choice. Time is short, if you wish to continue your defensive stance, we may have to reconsider our options here.”

The aliens hesitated, and even though there were no words between them, Danny got the impression that they were kibitzing. After a short time, he heard the alien voice in his head again. “We apologize Daniel, this has started out as an adversarial conversation, and that is not what we wanted. Believe us when we tell you that we mean you no harm, and we want to work together in this experiment. For that to happen, and although you have no reason to as we have taken you from your home and family, we would like for you to trust us.”

Danny used all his negotiating skills to assess what he had just heard. The aliens were giving indications that they were being truthful, but he based his observations on what his training taught him about reading humans, not some beings from space he knew nothing about. When it came right down to it, he always relied on his gut feeling. Finally he said, “Okay, we are all adults here, I think, anyway why don’t you guys lay it out for me? And as you say, I will have the choice to participate or not.”

“Thank you, Daniel,” one of the aliens responded and for the first time Danny thought that he did not know which alien had spoken to him.

He said, “You two gentlemen know my name and who knows what else about me. So if we are to start again in an air of mutual cooperation, I would like to know your names and understand which of you is actually speaking to me at any given time.”

“Daniel,” one of the aliens responded, “as you may have guessed, we communicate with you through a form of telepathy, and therefore you have no indicators as to which one of us is speaking. I believe that we can create a brief aura around us as we speak so that you can see which of us has communicated with you.”

“That sounds like it would work,” Danny said. “And do you have names?” A soft blue light glowed around the alien on the right, and Danny heard in his head, “In our language, our names would be unpronounceable to you, and we know of no known words that would translate our names into English.”

Danny said, “Ok, but it is my habit when I talk to people to use their first names. I find it breeds relaxation on both sides of the conversation, adds a sense of familiarity, and is just damned polite. So if you don’t mind, I would like to pick names for each of you.”

A green aura formed around the alien on his left, and Danny heard, “That would be acceptable.”

He did not need any time to think about what he would call the aliens. He had been enamored with a comic strip some years back and was saddened when it was discontinued. He had several books of compilations from the strip and decided the two main characters would be his inspiration for the aliens’ monikers.

“You on the right I will call Calvin and the one who glows green will be known as Hobbes.” He sensed that neither of the aliens had ever seen that particular comic strip, which was probably a good thing.

Hobbes said, “Daniel, I believe that we have made good progress toward trusting each other in a very short time, but now we are at that point where we must discuss the reason we brought you onto our ship and present to you our proposal.”

“Ok, but if we are to do that here could you bring back the bench so I’ll have a place to sit down if I need to?”

Calvin said, “We will be going to a much more comfortable room. This room was only used for our initial contact. We did not know how you were going to react to this situation, and this room afforded little in the way to harm yourself.”

“Well, how did I do?”

Calvin responded “As we expected, but Hobbes and I were pleased you did not have your weapon strapped to your side.”

Danny chuckled as the door to the room opened rapidly into the ceiling and the three stepped out.

C H A P T E R 3

As Danny walked with the two beings down the hall that led from the room he was in, he couldn’t help but continue to think like a cop. He tried to get his bearings as to the size of the ship he was on and the location of the front and back. It wasn’t that he was thinking about an escape just the opposite. Even though he had been on the ship for a very short time, he liked Calvin and Hobbes, he was curious as to the experiment they wanted him to participate in, and, oddly enough, he trusted them.

Calvin led the trio, with Danny following and Hobbes bringing up the rear. As they continued along the hall which he noticed it was slightly curved. He also recalled, as he was hurtling toward the ship in the transporter, the basic shape of the ship was an immense oblong. He estimated there were maybe 50 or 60 floors, and that was taking into account the size of the floors to accommodate the aliens’ height. He thought it odd that they had been walking for over five minutes and had yet to encounter another alien. This may have been part of the experiment, but Danny did not think that was the case. Nothing concrete, it was just a feeling he had.

A short time later, Calvin turned to his right and another door slid into the ceiling. All three entered the new room, which was bigger and was furnished with chairs, tables, and a couch that looked to Danny like it would not disappear into the floor or walls.

Hobbes offered a seat to his guest and told him to make himself comfortable. Danny selected one that looked like a recliner, but when he sat down it seemed that the cushions enveloped him.

He could feel all the stress of the situation ebb from his pores.

“Holy shit, this is by far the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. Ok, if this experiment you have in mind doesn’t work out the way you want it, could I take this chair home as a consolation prize?”

Calvin and Hobbes both thought to themselves that with each passing moment, they liked Danny more and more.

“Daniel, we must begin to explain what we have in mind for you,” started Hobbes. “But we understand that the human body needs food and drink to sustain its energy levels. Therefore we have brought aboard water, wine, and what your people call Pepsi products.”

Danny replied, “Well, you guys did interrupt my wine and cigar time, but I should keep my head clear. So I’ll have a water, please.”

A thin shelf came out of the wall to Danny’s left and proceeded toward the center of the room. He observed that a bottle of water was on the end of the shelf. As it reached the center of the room it angled in his direction and then came to a stop directly in front of his chair. He plucked the bottle off the shelf, which then retreated the same way it had come and as it left the room, the wall appeared as it was.

Hobbes said, “Our processors have also replicated numerous types of your food. Later we can cease our discussions so that you may consume what you wish.”

“As tasty as you made that sound, I think I’ll stick with the water for now.” Danny didn’t know if the boys picked up on his sarcasm or not, but he decided to let it go for now.

Calvin began, “Daniel, it is time for us to, as your people say, lay our cards on the table. We want to start by telling you a short history of our race as a way of showing you our sincerity and so that you may further understand the motives for our actions. Our planet is millions of miles from Earth. Even with our advanced form of space travel, it still takes our ship over 1,000 of your years to reach Earth from our home. We evolved in somewhat the same way your people have, and still are. Early in our history, like the people of Earth, we battled among ourselves. But unlike Earthlings, we quickly learned that this was counter-productive and began working together for the advancement of every being on our planet. This allowed us to put our best minds to solving the problems we all faced and to use the technological advances to create ways to help instead of harm ourselves. Our space travel program took a giant leap forward, and soon we were contacting other intelligent beings throughout the universe. We found races in all different stages of evolution, and we decided to help those struggling to survive.”

Danny interrupted, “Are human beings struggling?”

“Yes, you are,” replied Calvin. “We believe that if your people continue on their current path, they will destroy themselves and, in the process, make this planet uninhabitable.”

Danny was shocked. He knew that mankind was in trouble, as it seemed that hardly anyone could get along, and he couldn’t remember a time when a war wasn’t going on in some part of the world. But he always believed that human beings would rise up from their violent ways and work as one, similar to how Calvin had described his people. He didn’t know what to say. He felt saddened and ashamed by this revelation.

Hobbes broke the silence by continuing where Calvin had left off. “We have traveled great distances in this universe helping those who we thought could be productive members of the coalition of planets that we had formed. This is why we are here, and the reason we have made contact with you, Daniel. But I must tell you now that if you fail in this experiment, there will not be a third chance. Calvin and I had to bring before the coalition council several months’ worth of evidence that we believed showed your people could one day be an asset to our interplanetary community. The council was close to rejecting our bid to conduct this experiment, but at the eleventh hour we convinced several of the members to vote our way. So you can see that a positive outcome is essential to Earth. Failure would mean total isolation from the planets of the coalition, which would almost certainly result in the extinction of your people.”

Again Danny was stunned into silence. His thoughts went directly to his family, specifically his children, as he tried to imagine the world that might exist for them and their children.

“We sense that our words have upset you and that this might be an appropriate time for you to be alone to gather your thoughts.”

He didn’t even know who had spoken to him, but looked up just in time to see the green aura around Hobbes fade away.

“No!” Danny nearly shouted, then more calmly, “No. I already have about a thousand questions, and a delay will only drive me crazy as I try to figure this thing out. Let’s push on. Tell me what I have to do.”

Calvin responded “It is not necessary for you to accept our proposal at this time. Listen to what we have to say. This is a vast undertaking, and you will, quite literally, carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

“Ok, I will try not to interrupt again. Please continue with the story of your planet.”

“In all our travels through the universe,” Calvin said, “we did not encounter any race that was more technologically advanced than our own. Over the years, we developed a fatherly type of role to most of the races that we choose to assist. We are a peaceful race, but we will defend ourselves if attacked as was the case over 2,000 of your years ago. Our planet and several of the stronger coalition planets were set upon by a fleet of ships from a race that we had never encountered before. They were close to our equals, and we suffered many losses before we were able to repel their armada. They tried to flee, but our ships gave chase and the decision from the defense ministry was that there would be no prisoners, and there were not.”

Hobbes continued, “Even in victory, we were not without casualties. To this day, we are unsure if our enemies introduced a chemical weapon into our atmosphere, or exposed us to a disease that was indigenous to their race. Either way, every being on our planet contracted a virus. This virus affected our outer shell, or what you would call skin. But our internal organs and our minds were unaffected. As you can imagine what would happen to your people if they were to lose their skin, it was similar with us. As many lives as we lost during the war, that number was doubled by the virus until our medical scientists were able to develop a synthetic covering for our bodies. This is the reason that we are wearing robes. The covering that was developed takes years to become symbiotic with the rest of our body. During that time, we cannot be exposed to any form of light. Calvin and I were not on our planet during the war. We were a thousand years away conducting another experiment. We were called home because of the crisis, but by the time we arrived, the enemy had already been vanquished. Despite our absence and late arrival, our atmosphere was still infected with the virus, and we also contracted the disease.”

Calvin said, “As you may have guessed, over the many centuries that our people have existed, our minds have developed to the point where we can do a great many things just with our thoughts. This has been instrumental in the healing process of our bodies as it melds with the synthetic covering. Daniel, you have only witnessed the use of our minds as a communication avenue with yourself, but what you may not have noticed is the fact that we do not use our legs to propel us around the ship. With the use of our minds we can transport our bodies anywhere we please. In fact, the transport pod that we used to bring you to the ship was completely controlled by me. These are but a few of the things we can do just by thought. It would take us days to explain all of the ways that we use our minds, but that is not relevant at this time.”

“Our people believe that, given the right circumstances and the chance to evolve naturally, most species can develop their minds as we have. You are aware that your people believe that you only use about 10 percent of your brains?” Calvin asked.

“Yes,” said Daniel.

“Actually, we have found that in general most earthlings use about 7 percent of their brain’s potential, you, Daniel, use 9 percent. But that is only part of the reason that you are here. All scientific experiments look to answer questions. Some are more general than others. The question that you would be attempting to answer, if you choose to participate, is this: is it possible for one man to convince an entire species to alter their self-destructive behavior as individuals and, on a philosophical level, how an entire species treats their own kind?”

Danny almost laughed. “If you expect me to be able to talk to every individual on Earth and get them to be civil to one another, then this endeavor is doomed before it even gets started. The simple logistics would be impossible, and the time it would take is more than I have. Not to mention, how would I get to the leaders of some of the hostile countries who mistrust any outsider, but most of all, Americans? I don’t see how…”

“Daniel, we have not finished giving you our entire proposal,” Hobbes interrupted. “We have thought of this, as well as many other problems you would run into, and we are willing to give you certain tools that would assist you in your goal. Even with these tools, your task will not be an easy one. You will encounter hardships, and you may feel that the cost to you personally may not be worth the end result. These are the things you must weigh before you agree to be a part of the experiment.”

One of his habits that he used to be unaware of was that he twisted his head slightly to the right when he was curious about something, quite similar to what many canines do under the same circumstances. Carmel had brought it to his attention and had poked fun at him. She called it his Sheena move, after their now-deceased family dog of many years who would do the same thing. Danny’s head made that gesture now when he said to Hobbs “Tools? What kind of tools?”

Calvin began “Daniel, here is our entire proposal for you. We have the power to enhance your brain to the effect that you will be using about 35 percent of its potential. This will allow you to heal the sick and dying. You will not be able to control the minds of other humans, but you will be able to sway them to a certain way of thinking. You will also be able to restore their innocence. All creatures throughout the universe are born innocent. It is only through the teachings of their elders as they grow and the experiences of life that create those humans that perpetuate inhumane acts on their fellow man. Daniel, we have studied you long enough to know that you are an atheist and don’t believe that humans have souls, but there is a phrase in your language, to “cleanse someone’s soul.” This phrase best describes the process of restoring innocence. Our hypothesis is that if you use these tools correctly, you can plant a seed in every individual of peace and love for every other living entity on this planet.”

“There is, what you would call a catch,” Hobbes said. “The only way you can use these powers that we’d give you is to be in direct contact with the individual you intend to affect.”

Danny was still frustrated as he said, “Don’t get me wrong, the tools that you’d give me would be incredible assets, and, in theory, this experiment just might work, but touching each person in the entire world is still a daunting task. Even if I touched a person for one minute, there are over six billion people on Earth. I would need a calculator to figure out if I had enough years left in my life to get to everyone.”

“If you touched one person for one minute for ten hours each day, and if you did this every day for 20 years, that would equal less than five million people,” Calvin responded.

“See what I mean? Even if I could do this for 60 years, I just don’t have enough time, and you did that calculation in your head, didn‘t you?”

Hobbes tried to calm Danny down. “Yes Daniel, time is a factor, as well as logistics, and any number of difficulties that will present themselves as you embark on your journey. But we did not choose you because we believe you would not be able to find a way to save your people or would give up once you start. We told you that you were not our only candidate, but both of us believe you are the best person for this task.”

He didn’t know if it was the steady and even tone of Hobbes’ voice, or what he heard in his head and thought of as his voice, or if these guys were fucking with his head. But in either case, he felt his anxiety ebb.

“How long were you two watching me?”


“That’s a little creepy. Just my luck I have to hook up with a couple of intergalactic stalkers.”

“Daniel, our pre-experiment observations were necc…”

“Hobbes, chill out, I was kidding with you.” Danny asked with a more serious tone in his voice, “But why did you choose me over the other candidates?”

Hobbes said, “We both felt that, of all the candidates, you possessed the right blend of honesty, common sense, and compassion. Coupled with the fact that we know you are an atheist and, therefore are unencumbered by the complications that religion can bring, and you have an uncanny ability to know what is important in life. You are wise beyond your years, and you are your people’s best chance for survival.” Hobbes’ “voice” actually conveyed emotion on the last sentence. “That is incredibly flattering. Are you sure you have the right guy?” “And your sense of humor serves you well,” said Calvin.

Danny nodded his head slightly as he said, “Ok, let’s do this then. I’ve lost track of time, and if my wife wakes up in the morning and I’m not there, she is going to freak. If she goes out to the deck, she’ll find a half-smoked cigar. And I thought I saw my wine glass fall before your transport sucked me into the twilight zone. Carmel sees that, and she will call a half dozen of my cop buddies and then I will have to explain things before I’m ready to. How long have I been up here?”

The blue aura appeared and Danny heard, “It is 3 am, according to the clock in your living room, Daniel.”

“And how long will it take to have this brain surgery that you have planned for me?” asked Danny.

Calvin said, “No surgery, as you know it, will be performed on your brain. We will use a procedure that involves a piece of equipment that you might find similar to what doctors on Earth call an MRI machine. After one hour in this device, we will monitor you for a short time and then answer any further questions you might have. My estimate is that you will be back in your home by 6 am.”

“That should work. Carmel usually gets up at about 6:30 or 7 am to get the kids ready and take them to school. Cutting it close, but we do have some leeway.”

Hobbes turned toward the wall where the door had been and said, “Then let us precede, Daniel, if you would, follow me please.”

He got up from the most comfortable chair in the universe and instantly felt a slight pang of sadness. Danny couldn’t get a grip on this feeling, it was as if he missed the chair already and the chair missed him. Strange chair, he thought.

The door appeared in the wall once more and slid into the ceiling. All three entered the hall again, and Danny followed Hobbes as he took a left. It was then that Danny remembered a question he’d wanted to ask before they left the briefing room.

He started “I forgot to ask, but how would this second chance work? Once this thing gets going, it doesn’t seem like a do-over is feasible.”

From behind him, Calvin responded, “Daniel, neither one of us said anything about a second chance. You are correct that it would not be possible. How did you come to believe there would be a second chance?”

“Hobbes said that we wouldn’t get a third chance, so I guess I assumed that I would have two tries at this. Sorry for assuming, you guys must have someone else in mind in the event that I fail.”

Hobbes said, “Daniel, I apologize if I gave you the wrong impression, but you are your planet’s second chance. We were not going to bring this up, but it appears there is no avoiding an explanation at this point. When we told you that Calvin and I were away from our planet when our people came under attack, we said we were conducting another experiment. That experiment was here on Earth. Your people’s first chance was over 2,000 years ago.” “Jesus Christ!” Danny blurted.

With some surprise, Calvin said, “Yes Daniel, that was his name.”

“What?” The confusion in Danny’s voice was apparent. “Whose name? What are you talking about?”

“Jesus Christ. That was the name of the subject of our first experiment on Earth.” Calvin explained.

The trio stopped their progress down the corridor as the only human there stood in shock for a few moments. Then his mind raced, and he tried to remember all he knew about the story of Christ. Even though he was an atheist now, that wasn’t always the case. He’d been raised a Catholic. As he thought of what he knew about Jesus Christ and coupled it with the new information from the aliens, the experiment story made more sense than if the man was the son of God. As Christ had used the powers he was given, people thought they witnessed miracles. Before this moment, Danny believed there may have been a person named Jesus Christ. But Danny also believed that his actions and “miracles” were embellished as the accounts were relayed orally from village to village and over time. But he never did believe that the man was the son of God. Danny figured he got that one half right. He also began to realize some of the hardships Christ must have had to overcome, and it gave him some insight about what he would also have to endure.

Hobbes moved forward again, and Danny followed. “Daniel, we gave Jesus the same information about the experiment as we did you. What he did with the powers we gave him and the tactics he used were his choice, as they will be yours. Christ did not start out by presenting himself as a religious being but the people he surrounded himself with and the public’s interpretation of his actions evolved and seemed to take on a life of its own. Christ did nothing to dispel these assumptions and eventually decided that this was the right tactic to accomplish his task.”

Danny said, “Ok, two things. First, I know that scientific experiments have rules and procedures about interfering, but couldn’t you at least have saved him from being crucified? And second, so what, you guys are over 2,000 years old?”

Calvin’s “voice” sounded grief-stricken inside Danny’s head. “Hobbes and I have spoken about this many times. Daniel, we were not here when Christ was executed. We had already been ordered by the council to return to our planet because of the war. That being said, to this day we do not know what we would have done. Interfering would have made the experiment null and void. But Christ’s death would end the experiment anyway. We also argued among ourselves about why we wouldn’t interfere, and why we might have observed the reaction of the world to the death of the son of God, as they believed him to be. Maybe what he had done to that point would have been enough to change the course of mankind. In the end, Hobbes and I agree that we don’t know what we would have done, as we never got the chance to be put in that situation.” “I understand,” Danny said.

“And yes, Daniel, we are both over 2,000 of your years in age. Early in our history, our people had a life span of between three and four hundred years. That number rose quickly after we began to develop our minds, and our scientists believe it is the single greatest factor for the increase of our life span.”

All three walked in silence for another 20 yards before they came to another nondescript section of the wall at which Hobbes turned to the right, and the usual happened, a section of the wall swooshed into the ceiling, and Danny was shown a third room in the ship.

He had never had the occasion to have an MRI, but he had seen pictures of them and had seen some in TV shows and movies that he had watched and the machine in the middle of the room closely resembled what he had seen. The alien machine was prone, and Danny believed he would have to lie down in it. It was fully enclosed, and he did not see any glass or way to see out of it. He had heard that it was quite common for people to feel claustrophobic in an MRI machine, which he did not believe were enclosed. He was not claustrophobic by nature but the thought of being cooped up in that thing for an hour began to make him a little nervous.

“There is no need to be apprehensive, Daniel,” Hobbes said. “You will not be conscious during the procedure.”

He watched as the near end of the capsule opened up like a coffin. Another shelf, like the one that had brought him his water, but wider, slid out of the machine about six feet. Calvin gestured for Danny to move toward the machine and said, “Climb up onto the shelf with your head toward the opening.”

Danny did as he was told and as soon as he had finished, the shelf retracted into the capsule portion of the machine. Seconds later, Danny saw the capsule door at his feet close and thought, this has been one big hoax but instead of putting a probe up my ass, they put me inside a suppository. His last thought was, but I don’t want to know who or what the suppository is for. He felt all the air being sucked out of the capsule, and his world went black.

C H A P T E R 4

Danny regained consciousness back in the most comfortable chair in the universe. He felt like he was waking from the longest and most restful sleep he’d ever had. Danny felt slightly

groggy, but only for a few seconds, and then he was fully alert. The first thing he noticed, something he believed was a result of the brain enhancement, was that his senses were definitely heightened. He noticed tiny flaws on the walls of the room, he heard a low hum which he knew were the engines of the big ship that he had not heard before. And the chair felt even more incredible than when he first sat in it, if that was possible. In fact, he thought he’d better get out of the chair before he got a chubby. He saw Calvin and Hobbes standing about ten feet from the chair, staring at him. “What are you two goons looking at?”

“Daniel, how are you feeling? Are you all right?” No blue or green aura appeared. He knew it was Calvin who had spoken to him.

“Well, I feel great. I never did have the best eyesight, but I was able to get by without glasses. Now I can see things with incredible clarity.”

Hobbes said, “Remember, Daniel, that you now have the power to heal. Your subconscious mind has been mending everything about your body that wasn’t functioning at its peak performance. Some you will notice, such as your eyesight and some you will not as in the case of your elevated cholesterol.”

“Whatever is happening, this is incredible. Is this how everyone will feel after I touch them?” Daniel asked.

“No,” Calvin responded. “You are feeling the effects of your advanced brain function, and you will not be able to pass that on to the people you touch. That is not to say that they will not feel anything. Those that you touch will feel both physical and psychological changes. They will experience a sense of peace and happiness.”

“I’m going to like this job,” said Danny.

“Daniel,” Calvin said a little sternly, “do not forget that we have cautioned you that this will not be without difficult times. Think about what Christ must have gone through. And the best laid plans often do not proceed as they should. Remember, Christ did not set out to have religion be the central focus of his experiment, but that part grew rapidly and quite possibly out of his control. Any method that you use to accomplish your task will be entirely your decision, but we advise that you maintain control of your actions and those you surround yourself with. With today’s mass media, internet, and TV broadcasts that reach all corners of the globe, you should have an easier time than Christ did in presenting yourself. But those same tools could also cause you trouble. Any mistake that you make will be magnified, as you will be scrutinized by the news, talk show hosts, and any number of websites that will give a voice to any and every one.”

Danny was silent for a moment. Then he said, “I do understand that this will be difficult, but I will not be in this alone. I have many friends and relatives and have already begun to think of who I want to help me and be my advisors. Also, there is my wife. Carmel complements me perfectly. If she agrees, I will have her at my side as my chief advisor. I am trying to grasp the enormity of what I have to do and although I don’t have a plan in mind, I suspect whatever tack that I take, I will attempt to keep things slow at first. Kinda get my feet wet before I dive into the deep end. I do have a few questions before I go home. How will you contact me? Will I have to come back to the ship? Can I contact you?”

“Daniel, we have given you all that we can. Our Ministry of Science oversees all the experiments that are conducted, and if Calvin or I gave you any further powers or information, that would be overstepping our boundaries. You will not be coming back to the ship, and we cannot leave the ship, due to our physical conditions. Through your enhanced brain function, you will be able to hear us as you do now, but we would only make contact with you in the event of a dire emergency. The success or failure of this venture rests solely on your shoulders.”

“That’s too bad. I believe that in the short time we’ve had together, we started to form some kind of bond. But I do understand you can’t do everything for me. Is this it, then? Are you sending me back now?”

“Yes Daniel, in a moment we will bring you back to the transport pod and set you back down on your deck. As of right now, everyone in your home is still sleeping. The return trip will not take long, and your landing should not disturb your wife and children.”

Danny nodded, and the three proceeded to the wall, which revealed a doorway that did its usual disappearing act into the ceiling. Back into the hall, which Danny didn’t know if it was the same hall or not, but they traveled a longer distance than they had before. When Hobbes stopped and another doorway opened, Danny saw what could only be an elevator compartment. The three entered, and Danny discovered that he was not mistaken, as he felt the compartment descend. No buttons or floor indicators were on the wall, so he did not know how far they fell. But he got the feeling they were going quite fast and went down many levels.

When the compartment came to a stop and the door opened, it led directly into a huge area that he believed to be a docking station. The transport that had brought him to the ship hovered nearby as both Calvin and Hobbes angled toward it, and Danny followed.

As they reached the transport, Hobbes turned to him and said, “The first phase of the experiment is complete. The next phases are in your hands, Daniel. As is your people’s custom, we wish you luck. Are you ready for the return trip by way of our transport?”

Danny said, “I’ve been on this ride before, and at least I know what to expect. Thank you for your hospitality. I wish I could shake your hands, as is also our custom, but I know your medical condition doesn’t allow for that. And if there is a chance we will be able to converse once more, instead of saying goodbye I’ll leave it with, until we meet again.”

“I think I can speak for Hobbes when I say we would both enjoy your company, if the future will allow. But for now, the transport awaits.”

The transport rose to a height of about 7 feet off the floor, and its passenger took a position under it. Within seconds he was again enveloped in the bubble, and as he looked down he saw lines develop on the floor below him. The floor split into two large doors and one section slid rapidly to his right into the floor as the other section did the same to his left, he was looking at the surface of the moon. He glanced up and only caught a glimpse of the two tall robed figures before the transport accelerated out of the bay door and began its half circle path around the moon.

“Do you still believe it was wise to withhold information from Daniel?” Calvin asked of Hobbes.

“Yes. When we told Jesus that his altered brain functions would cause his life span to increase by several hundred years, he though himself to be invincible. This caused him to disregard the threats on his life, not to take them seriously. Imagine where Earth would be today if he’d been more cautious and was not crucified. We changed the conditions of the experiment to evoke a different outcome. Let us hope it will be enough.”

The two robed figures turned and headed for the elevators as the bay door turned back into part of the floor.

# # #

Danny was determined to remain conscious this time and did well as the transport rocketed around the moon, but he felt himself slipping as he picked up speed when the transport straightened out. He wasn’t sure if he went out for a couple of seconds, but he did feel the transport begin to slow down, and he was fully awake when his alien taxi entered Earth’s atmosphere. A few short minutes later, the craft was hovering above the familiar back deck. The bubble disappeared, and Danny fell the last two feet onto the deck. Being fit and athletic, he should have easily landed on both feet and remained erect. But his left foot came down on the overturned wine glass, and he had no choice but to finish this trip on his ass.

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