by Westcliff Writer

Chapter 21

Sol System | Earth | Heidgate

Sage slowly opened his eyes, the smell of dampness invading his nostrils. It was an offensive smell he quickly realised was coming from the dirty brown mattress he had slept on for the night… a mattress that used to be white. He pinched the bridge of his nose as a ripe headache came into focus.

"Jesus," he murmured, wincing with the pain. He looked around pulling himself up on to his elbows, before tossing the filthy flap of a sleeping bag off of his legs. Standing up and stretching, again wincing from a pounding head, he stepped over to the window of the laundrette and wondered why he was there. He opened the rotten door and peered outside revealing a still, cold, but crisp sunny day.

"Hey Adam, are you in…" He stopped mid-sentence and twisted his head round to look back inside the rusting room of old machines and dryers somehow knowing Adam wouldn't be here.

But why wouldn't he be? he thought, frowning. Closing the door back up he searched around the old building and found one of Adam's old coats and encased himself in it before walking back to the door of the old laundrette and stepping outside.

Heidgate was especially quiet today, with no trace of any activity usually found. But what time was it he wondered, noticing his cheap Casio watch was missing from his wrist, a wrist that also was void of any needle marks that were present once before.

"That's weird!" he mumbled, turning his arm in different directions to try and find evidence of his moderate drug habit. As he stepped out of the shelter of the old brick building a small winter sun pierced his eyes with a sharp bright light causing Sage to bring his hand up as a shield.

"Aaghhh, fucking hell that hurts!" he hissed, wondering why he had such a sore head. Had he been drinking? It didn't feel like he had. Now feeling fully awake Sage made his way along the dilapidated street towards an old house he remembered having friends stay in. On arrival he pushed open the door and made his way up the bare wooden staircase to the first floor and pushed open another door which looked like it had once been a family sitting room. Splayed out on the floor were the sleeping bags of three scruffy looking young men, perhaps in their late teens, 20 max.

"Hey Ryder, wake up!" Sage demanded, kicking the individual's ankles with his dirty white sneakers.

"Huh… wha-"

"You got any food in here, I'm starving." Sage asked, crouching down and ripping back the bag from Ryder. He immediately became more awake, and his eyes became wide.

"S-s-sage, is that you?"

"Are you high? Of course itsit's me, do you have any food or what?"

"Where the fuck have you been dude and what have you done to yourself?"

"Ryder, are you dreaming, it's me, Sage… a hungry Sage!"

"I know, I can see that now, it's just… fuck man where did you go, the guys were worried about you, and your face… your EYE!!"

Sage looked at his two other friends. "Yeah they look really worried about me, they haven't even woken up…look come on, we gotta go find food, unless you are actually gonna tell me you have some?"

"Uh no, but the bakery bin should be half full this morning on Broad street, its Thursday after all"

"Is it!" Sage said, wondering why he didn't know that.

The skinny boy with long curly dirty hair held out his hand and Sage pulled him up to a standing position and he brushed himself down. Bits of tobacco strands and ash began falling from his polyester rich track suit complete with dry food and semen stains leaving Sage to shake his head.

"You gotta get those clothes washed somehow, you leave those near a girl and she's gonna get pregnant with the amount of spunk stuck to you."

"What can I say, I'm always horny!" Ryder replied, trying to get the knots out of his greasy hair.

Now out on the street the boys made their way towards the small bakery that stood on the edge of Broad street and Heidgate. Each Thursday morning the bin was full of old cakes and disused bread and had become a staple for the homeless locals. Residents nearby had complained to the bakery and the council that it attracted all sorts of street urchins but the owner said it was his way of helping the homeless and never worried about the bin being emptied by poor kids with nowhere to live.

"So are you gonna tell me where you've been?" Ryder asked, still not having had an answer.

"Fuck me Ryder, I thought you were joking earlier, why do you keep asking?"

"Uh, maybe because no one has seen you since like four months ago?"

"Shut your shit up," Sage sniggered. I've been right here.

"Uh, shut your own shit up, you fucking well have not, ask the others."

"Ok so if I ain't been here then where have I been for this supposed four months?"

"I thought you could tell me!"

"Meh, stop chatting shit, and lay off the weed for a while."

"Ok then, wanna explain your eye for a start? You didn't have that four months ago, even you have to admit that."

"What's wrong with my eye?"

"Uh… its purple for a start!"

Sage stopped abruptly and looked at Ryder who also had to stop sharply. "What the fuck do you mean itsit's purple?"

"Like I say, it's purple! Where one is white, the other is purple. And your skin…"

"What about my skin?"

"It's… it's clean, no spots, no moles and that scar on your neck has gone. Not to mention your teeth are like white and the chip has gone… you know, that chip you had on your front left tooth?"

"Yeah I know the chip, so it's gone?"

Ryder chuckled but out of exasperation "Yes Sage, itsit's gone."

Sage frowned and grabbed Ryder's arm. "C'mon, I need a mirror, come with me to the petrol station and I can use the gents toilet there!"

"But what about the bread…"

It was too late, Sage was already on a brisk walk now up ahead. Ryder sighed and started to trot after him. "Sage, wait up!"

Sage barged into the small grubby restroom now breathing heavily and almost taking the door off its hinges. He marched towards the left of two sinks and closed his eyes, leaning his palms on the rim. He opened them slowly revealing not just the mirror in front of him but also his reflection that made him reel backwards, smashing into the wooden toilet stall behind him.

"What the fuck," he mouthed touching his face all over. He could see it was him in the reflection but he looked different… almost like he was staring at a brother he'd never seen before. Ryder was right, he looked fresh, bright and clean. His teeth were indeed pearly white and the eye… the fucking EYE!

He moved in for a closer look opening both of them wide, getting a good view of the purple ball that bestowed him. Ryder walked in moments later and came up behind him.


"And you say I have been missing for?"

"Four months give or take a few days."

"Did I say where I was going?"

"No, last time the other two guys saw you said you were going to see Adam and then that was it, you never came back."

"And Adam, where is he now, perhaps he could fill me in."

Ryder grinned. "Oh well, you see the rumour with him is that he's been kidnapped by aliens."


"Yeah I know, have you ever heard such bollocks."

"Don't tell me... the work of old man Fred, right?"

"I think so, but something is weird is going on because apparently his brother has shown up on the scene. Got a hand job apparently from Tasty Tina when he got to Heidgate and didn't last that long from all accounts."

"Meh, I don't think I did if I remember, she's got quite the hands. Anyway that is irrelevant, I gotta find Adam."

At the University Sam studied at, he, Brandon and his Geologist Professor stood round a microscope looking at the artefact Brandon had stolen from old man Fred's place.

"Well, its pure Vanadium alright." The professor remarked, picking it up again.

"But could it be made here?" Brandon asked, a little excited.

The professor scratched his chin. "Yes possibly, but for what purpose I don't know. For this much of the material to be collected, melted down and then be made into what looks like a glorified paperweight, I fail to see why so much effort would be put in to it."

"But it does do something… right Sam?"

The Professor looked up at both boys intrigued at Brandon's comment. "What do you mean it does do something?"

"We kinda worked out it is sensitive to light." Sam revealed.

"But the room is full of light and I see no notable changes to its structure," remarked the professor,

"The light needs to be intense, such as a flash bulb, do you have one?" Brandon asked.

"I have an inventory camera to classify various rocks… look, one moment and I'll get it, this sounds very unlikely though, it's just a piece of Vanadium."

The man started to walk off to a small utility room at the back of the classroom. "Professor Talbot, do you think it might be worth bringing in Professor Cowell, you know, just in case it's it come came from space?"

"Indeed, that would be a good choice of person."

Professor Cowell had just arrived looking rather flustered having heard Sam's description of the rock he had brought in to show Professor Talbot. Only it wasn't a rock, but somehow no one could agree on what to call it.

Cowell was a loud, camp and enthusiastic Meteorologist with a keen interest and belief in life outside the solar system.

"Must say this all sounds very exciting," he snorted happily making his way past the pupil's desks to where the others had assembled.

"Hi Professor, thanks for coming, so what do you make of it?" Sam asked.

Professor Cowell picked up the heavy item and studied it closely. "Hmm, well it is not a natural creation that much is certain." He stated, squinting his eyes.

"Why do you say that Bob?" Talbot asked.

"Well if my eyes do not deceive me I can just about make out some markings that could have only been put there by…"

"Humans?" Sam asked.

"I was going to say, intelligent beings. It's been under the scope yes?"

"Yes, I've had a look, its pure Vanadium." Talbot replied.

"Fascinating, well I think we need to get a closer look lads, don't you? But first, show me this light trick you boys did with it, I have a feeling if it does react we may need to look at doing some detailed tests with its composition"

Sam picked up the camera Professor Talbot had gotten from his utility room and aimed it at the small artefact. "Ok, stand back, here goes."

He clicked the shutter and a bright white light lit up the already naturally bright room, making them all blink. To the astonishment of Professors' Talbot and Cowell the lump of Vanadium once again started to glow a reflective, shimmering shade of purple, each second more intense.

"Well I'll be damned," Talbot muttered.

"Indeed," Professor Cowell agreed.

"So let's take stock here then, can we all agree that something like this could not be made on earth?" Brandon asked, smiling.

Professor Cowell scratched his head and frowned. "How many other people know about the existence of this item?"

"Just the people here," Sam replied, leaning back and folding his arms.

"Let's keep it that way. I have a feeling that whatever this is it will be of great interest to some people."

"Like who?" Brandon asked.

"Well the military for a start perhaps," Professor Talbot mused. Everyone looked up at him, each with concern.

In Heidgate Sage sat deep in thought munching on some dry bread in the old laundrette while being kept company by Ryder. Ryder meanwhile was trying to fire up an old Tilly lamp he had found in the bin of the local fishing tackle shop but couldn't seem to make it work.

"There's a reason that thing was in the trash!" Sage commented looking over slightly irritated at Ryder's futile attempts to get it going.

"Be good if I could make it work though, its freezing in here."

"Yeah," Sage replied, tearing off another chunk of bread into his mouth. "So when are you gonna let me fuck you?"

"I'm not, I like chicks as I keep reminding you, Sage!" Ryder replied, looking over at his friend with a look of scorn.

"So, itsit's not like you are getting any from them."

"How would you know, you've been missing for four months, I could have been getting loads."

Sage sniggered. "What looking like that? You could fry chips in your hair, your clothes have about a pint of dry spunk on them and you smell like last week's fish supper."

"Well gee thanks, if only I'd known!"

Both boys looked at each other seriously until grins started to form on both their faces culminating in chuckles.

"I feel strange," Sage commented out of the blue, pressing his temples with the palms of his hands.

"In what way?"

"Dunno, itsit's like the feeling you get after a heavy night of drink… I fellfeel like imI'm missing a huge gap in my life."

Ryder laughed. "Been on some heavy drugs have you?"

Sage remained serious and screwed up his face looking off into the distance. "ItsIt's like… ItsIt's like I've been somewhere but cantcan't think for the life of me where. I mean, you say I have been gone for four months right?"

"About that, yeah."

"Well where the fuck have I been, because I don't know. It seems like I've been here… it feels like I have never left Heidgate."

"Trust me Sage, me and the guys looked everywhere for you and nothing."

"And Adam too, that's worrying me. Like, where is he?"

Ryder shrugged. "When did you last see him?"

"that'sThat's just it, somehow it feels like I have just seen him recently, but another part of me feels like I haven't seen him for ages. It's all swirling round in my head… have I, haven't I, did I, Didn't I. That's what I mean when I say I feel strange."

"Perhaps you just need a good night's sleep to let your brain sort stuff out."

"But I don't feel tired."

"Perhaps you're over tired, that sometimes happens to me. I feel like dog tired but when I put my head down I just can't drift off."

"Hmm, maybe. So uh… will you sleep here, with me tonight?"

"Huh? This is the same Sage who doesn't need anyone and says he can look after himself?"

"I can look after myself, I just want some company tonight."

"I can if you want, but keep your fucking hands to yourself ok, I'm not into your kinda shit."

"Fine!" Sage responded sulkily.

Back on board the Selsha Adam was standing at a large computer terminal being given a 3D presentation of what his procedure was going to involve. His expressions were turning from expectation to worry then fascination and back to worry again as Relshek commentated.

"So is this going to hurt?" Adam asked, squeezing his left arm after seeing a computer generated needle just puncture a cross-section of an arm.

Relshek chuckled. "Oh no Adam, you will be rendered unconscious, but you will be weak for many hours afterwards."


"Yes, we plan to extract quite a lot of blood to achieve the best chance of success. We will then need to incubate the extracted genes."

"I don't think I want to know anymore. What if I die?"

Relshek cupped a worried looking Adam, stroking his thumb on his face. "I will be leading the procedure and I promise you, you will not die."

"So uh, so when do we begin?"

"I wontwon't lie to you Adam, I am now under growing pressure from the high council to begin as soon as possible but I don't want to push you."

"Do it… just do it as soon as you can, I don't want this hanging over me any longer."

"If you are sure then we can begin tomorrow."

"I am Christian, I just want to get on with my life with Castro and put this behind me."

"Very well, just to advise you I am having the last of my team brought up to the ship very soon and all of the equipment I need should now be in the holding bay. Go enjoy some time with Castro and I will collect you when the time is near."

"Pffft, now you make it sound like death row!"


Adam smiled. "Forget it… now how do I get out of here and back to my Castro?"

Relshek pressed on an intercom terminal and shortly after a young Puritan walked into the Medical bay and stood just inside the door.

"Will you please direct Adam back to deck seventeen and on to his quarters please?" he called. The puritan gently bowed and Relshek gestured Adam to walk over to him.

Adam jumped onto his and Castro's bed in their quarters and lay next to his boyfriend.

"What are you doing?" he asked, seeing Castro was holding a white flexi pad in his hands.

"Just looking up things that interest me," Castro replied, lowering the device down on to his bare legs.

"Oh yeah, and what sort of things interest you then?"

"I was reading about our ancestors. Did you know that thousands of years ago we didn't have to wear these masks?"

"Yes Christian told me, but you know… I don't think I could imagine your people ever not wearing them."

"I guess. Hmm, they are kind of stuffy though."

"I'll bet."

"So tell me about your world."

"Earth? Well it's blue from a distance whereas your planet looks purple and green. Earth is one of eight planetplanets in our system but unlike you we don't live on any of the others."

"Why not?"

"Uh, well because we don't have the technology that you do yet and besides none of them have air to breathe."

"Oh. So what about your people, are they nice?"

Adam laughed loudly. "No Castro, humans are not nice, they are selfish people and the world is trapped in a cocktail of greed, nonsense religions and corruption. It's no place for a pure soul like you."

"But you're nice, right?"

Adam sighed. "You know babe, yes I like to think I am, and I guess I was wrong to say all us humans are nasty. In fact individually you could probably pick out some really nice people who would be kind to you, much like your people, but for a life form looking down on our world as a collective force? Well let's just say I think they would be horrified."

Castro looked up at Adam for a moment, his face serious. "But you are forgetting something, Adam."

"What's that?"

"No matter how bad you think your species are, how many others apart from yours is about to save an entire planet and its species from extinction. I believe that when more worlds are discovered and more life forms start being able to travel the stars, I would like to think that maybe one day your planet will not be remembered for the bad things it's done, but instead for the selfless act one person made to save millions more."

"That's a really cool thing to say baby, thanks. And yeah, I would like to think that in the end us humans will be known as the good guys too."

"Yes, I believe that will be the case one day. So shall we get some rest.rest?"

Adam dimmed the lights and kissed Castro on the head. "Yeah we better; something tells me I'm in for a rough day tomorrow."

"I'll be there, don't worry." Castro replied, leaving a smile etched on Adam's face.

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