Previous: "Liberation"

Next: "Talk"

Series 1 Episode 5

Staring at the face of the blue-skinned being in front of her, Ava felt very sympathetic. It was unconscious, but the pipes and wires attached to its torso looked painful. It was so out of place. The human race disgusted her at times.

“How can it be an alien?” Newton was baffled.

“If that’s an alien, then Harry…” Elenore immediately thought, “Come on, we need to go, now.” Ava wasn’t hanging around any longer than necessary. They still had to get out of the building.

Elenore once again led the way. She kept them walking briskly as they made their way through the building.

Quickly, they hid. The standalone rooms surrounding a central area made for excellent hiding places. Two guards passed. This was too close for Ava’s comfort.

“Just here, come on,” Elenore dashed to the main door, trying to push the door handle open, “It’s locked."

It was true – the door simply wasn’t budging. Ava was getting more and more stressed.

“They must have a switch to open it,” Ava thought logically.

“They can open the outside gate from here,” Elenore added. Where was the control?

“Red button,” a voice shouted from behind. Ava saw a soldier there, but why was he helping them? That said, Ava didn’t have time to question him, nor did she want to. She whacked the red button to the lower left-hand side of the door and sure enough, it lodged open. They had their way out. Ava flashed a smile to the helpful guard and ran ahead, desperate to get as far away as possible.

The sunlight whacked Ava in the face, in the best possible way. Oh, how she had missed fresh air.

Now it was time to warn Isaac.

Anxiety through the roof.

Isaac couldn’t stand the unknown. Though he got why Elenore hadn’t updated him further – it wasn’t worth risking the mission to send him a text or give him a ring – he was desperate to know more. In ways, Isaac wished he hadn’t been so caught up with Harry, because it had pushed him uncomfortably far outside of his comfort zone, but at the same time, Isaac didn’t care. Harry was his world now.

“Dude, stop pacing,” Arlen moaned.

“I can’t,” Isaac hit back, “My mom is in there now, I can’t relax.”

“Scared,” Harry shared Isaac’s concern. At least Harry was in the comfort of their home, though Isaac was extremely aware that nowhere was safe now.

Immediately, Isaac sat himself next to Harry and rubbed his leg to soothe him. He had to make Harry feel comfortable. Harry leaned his head inwards, resting under Isaac’s chin.

“You two look intimate,” Arlen observed.

Isaac couldn’t deny it. Arlen still didn’t know about the kiss, after all. Not that Isaac had anything to hide.

“Oh my god, you actually are, aren’t you?” Arlen looked as if he had discovered the greatest piece of gossip ever.

“Shush, I don’t know what it is yet,” Isaac bushed. He hated being the centre of attention.

“I ship it,” Arlen smiled playfully, and almost proudly. Isaac had made Arlen well aware of his complete lack of dating success, so it felt good to give him a positive update for once.

The front door clicked open. Muffled voices could be heard downstairs.

“Who’s that? A burglar? One of the guards?” Arlen whispered, his brain jumping to conclusions immediately.

“Someone with a key,” Isaac replied logically. Nobody would have been able to open the front door without a key. That narrowed it down to two candidates – the two people he was most desperate to see.

Not able to control his excitement, Isaac rushed downstairs as if a fire had let rip in his bedroom, carefully making sure he didn’t trip and tumble downwards. Much to Isaac’s delight, Elenore was in the porch area, alongside Ava. She had done it.

“Mom!” Isaac exclaimed with both joy and relief. He hugged her tightly, like he hadn’t seen her in years. It certainly felt like that.

Isaac then turned his attention to Ava. She looked rough and tired. Stood to her side, confusingly, was Newton Sheppard, the popular kid from school. Quite why he had anything to do with this was beyond Isaac. Looks like they both had stuff to discuss.

“I’m sorry,” Isaac simply said. He knew he should have been way more open with Ava. It was his fault she got into this mess in the first place.

“It’s okay,” Ava pulled Isaac in closely, “We need to talk, though, all of us.”

Isaac couldn’t disagree. Everybody needed to be in the loop, at long last.

Positioned around Isaac’s dining table with him, Harry, Arlen and Newton, Ava was ready to finally hear every detail of Harry’s story. The entire debacle at the precinct was eye-opening in so many ways, but mostly, it had given Ava some perspective. Harry wasn’t to blame for any of this, but they needed to find out the best way to help him.

“It started on Sunday night,” Isaac began, “I saw a shooting star crashed into the forest just out there, where the wreckage is now. Mom and I went outside to investigate. I guess I got a little nosey. That’s when we saw Harry. He walked out of the fire naked, confused and unscathed. He had no idea about anything going on around him.”

“Why didn’t you take him to the sheriff station?” Ava queried. It felt like the most logical thing to do.

“I’m not sure the sheriff knows anything more about boys walking out of a fire without a single burn mark than I do,” Isaac justified, “He also told me his name.”

“Three-four-two,” Harry added, following along.

“He picked Harry Simpson as his name from the posters in my room,” Isaac mentioned.

“The Harry Styles obsession never lets up,” Arlen smiled.

Things were starting to slot into place for Ava. The name fitted her alien theory, not that it was too much of a theory any longer.

“Do you know who he is?” Newton questioned.

“I don’t think even he knows who he is,” Isaac replied. That figured – Ava definitely understood where Isaac was coming from.

“We may have an idea on that,” Ava mentioned, hoping to break the news to Isaac as gently as she could.

“He’s an alien,” Newton blurred out senselessly.

“Huh? Where’s that come from?” Isaac looked befuddled.

“In the precinct, I saw one. All of us did. An alien. It looked a lot like us, but a bit different. Its skin was blue,” Ava recalled. Her heart broke to even think about the alien. It wasn’t fair.

“Harry doesn’t look like that, though. He looks human,” Isaac reasoned.

“It makes sense though, dude,” Arlen mentioned reasonably. He was often a voice of reason for Isaac, “It’s the only thing that’s made sense so far.”

“That means he’s not the only one,” Isaac replied.

“There must be more in there. Maybe others who have landed like Harry did over the years,” Ava thought aloud, “That’s why they’re sniffing around so much.”

“They know your name, Isaac,” Newton added.

“And we know they know you live here, too,” Ava noted.

“We’re not safe anywhere, I know that already, they were at the school earlier,” Isaac was getting stressed. Thankfully, Ava knew to handle him gently.

“I know, don’t worry,” she softened her voice, “But you’re very much unsafe here.”

“This is home, where else could we go?” Isaac questioned desperately, his eyes welling up. Ava noticed Harry rubbing his leg, as if to soothe him. She had never seen Isaac so close with anybody before. It broke her heart, especially knowing what she was about to suggest.

“I think maybe we need to think about somewhere else for Harry to stay,” Ava regretfully suggested.

“What? No, he belongs with me, he needs to stay with me,” Isaac immediately defended, his tears no longer hiding themselves.

“They know you, and me, and Newton,” Ava continued, turning to face Arlen, “But not you.”

“I was here when they interviewed Isaac,” Arlen reminded.

“Did they ever find out your name?” Ava queried urgently.

“Nope,” Arlen casually replied, before turning to Harry, “Look, you can stay with me. For what it’s worth, Ava’s right. Everything at Isaac’s needs to look as normal as possible while they’re watching.”

Harry looked at Isaac with the most worried expression Ava had ever seen. She hated everything about what they were having to do.

Isaac wanted to cry a river. He felt absolutely broken, after one of the most exhausting days of his life. It was like he had jumped in the deep end without knowing how to swim, and all he wanted was some alone time in his bedroom.

It felt like he had a huge mountain to climb, especially knowing that just a week ago, Isaac was living his normal, mundane life. No talk of aliens, or guards. Or love.

He firmly believed Harry needed him, but equally, he needed Harry. He gave him a feeling of comfort and acceptance that nobody had ever offered him before. Already, and Isaac knew it sounded dramatic, but he was struggling to remember what life was like before Harry.

“Hey,” he heard the soft voice of Ava behind his bedroom door.

“Hey, come in,” Isaac wiped the streams from his cheeks, not that it stopped more from following out.

Ava came and sat next to him on top of the bed, wrapping her arms tightly around his body in a cute hug, “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” Isaac accepted. He was well aware that she wasn’t at fault. After all, Ava’s first intention was always to help out.

“He won’t be far, and you can see him whenever you want,” Ava comforted.

“I guess school’s out of the question too,” Isaac pondered. It wasn’t any less risky than the house, after all.

“For now, it has to be. Until we can figure out what to do next,” Ava justified.

“What can we do, though? We’re just some kids. They’ve got an army, and they can’t be the only people who know about these aliens, or whatever they are. We have no chance,” Isaac sighed.

“We’ll find a way. All of us. We all care about Harry,” Ava mentioned, “None more than you.”

“I love him, Ava,” Isaac felt the teardrops accelerating. He was drained. His body only knew how to cry in that moment.

“I know,” Ava pulled him in, cradling him gently. Isaac felt a state, but he would never stop fighting. Anything for Harry.

No time was wasted on moving Harry out. Isaac was taken aback by how sudden it was, but it was a little like ripping a plaster off – best to get it over and done with so the pain wasn't prolonged.

Isaac was stood in the middle of Harry’s new bedroom. It was the loft of Arlen’s small but cosy home. His dad had agreed to let Harry stay for a short while thanks to Arlen’s expert skill of white lies; he was told that Harry was a Spanish exchange student. It certainly explained the broken English.

The room was sizeable enough. Harry had a bed and dresser of his own, not that he had any clothes other than those he’d borrowed from Isaac. The walls were bare, but a skylight made the room look far prettier than it would otherwise.

“Go home,” Harry said, sitting on the edge of his new bed. That wasn’t an order, it was a request. He wanted to go home. His home with Isaac.

“This is home now,” Isaac sat to Harry’s right, swallowing his tears so he could give Harry the best pep talk possible, “I will come and see you every day, I promise.”

“Outside. Forest,” Harry mentioned. Isaac could only assume he meant their forest searches each night.

“I’ll keep looking. What do you need? I want to help, but I need to know what I’m looking for,” Isaac sighed. Harry looked blankly back at him.

To pass the silence, Isaac took a couple of posters out of his tote bag. Bath already had blu-tack attached to all four corners of the posters, and a couple of extras to ensure they stay up. Isaac found the optimum wall space, directly opposite the bed, to display them.

“So you never lose who you are,” Isaac said as he stuck the two posters up one-by-one – one of Harry Styles and one of Cody Simpson. He then handed one final gift to Harry, “Keep this safe.”

He watched on as Harry examined the photo he had been given – a picture Isaac took of the two of them while messing around a couple of nights ago. Awestruck, Harry threw his arms around Isaac. Isaac reciprocated, never wanting to let go.

“Alright you two,” Ava greeted, standing in the doorway, “Time to go.”

Isaac’s stomach dropped. He looked at Harry so regretfully. He felt horrible.

“Take care,” Isaac said, keeping the tears back while his voice quivered.

“Love you,” Harry’s voice quivered too. He looked like a lonely puppy in a shop window. Isaac’s heart shattered into a million pieces.

“I love you too,” Isaac smiled, kissing him deeply and savouring just those few seconds their lips were touching – not long enough. Then, he stood up to leave. He felt sick with so many emotions.

“Ring,” Harry said, out of the blue.

“Huh?” Isaac stopped walking to the door and spun around, “Ring? Like, on the phone?”

“Oh my god,” Ava sounded worried, as if she’d had a huge moment of realisation.

“What? What am I missing?” Isaac queried, feeling out of the loop.

“Newton!” Ava yelled downstairs as the plodding footsteps of Newton jogged upwards.

“What’s the deal? Where’s the fire?” he casually wondered, stepping into the room, panting slightly.

“That ring you found, I forgot all about it, do you still have it?” Ava asked.

“Err,” Newton checked his pockets rapidly, “No,” he regretfully reported back.

“They took it,” Ava concluded, “The precinct. They must have it. It’s got to be Harry’s ring.”

“Calm down, I might have dropped it,” Newton suggested.

Isaac wasn’t sure what was going on, but it felt like a major breakthrough, for both them and Harry.

Though Arlen knew he was a pretty skilled liar, he was pretty shocked that he had managed to get this one past his dad. Usually, his dad was the only one who saw through his white lies and casual bullshit, but this one had worked a treat thus far.

“Thinking about breakfast, should I nip to the gas station and get something nice in before the shops close? The Spanish are known for their excellent food,” Robin fussed.

“Dad, calm down, he’ll eat anything,” Arlen almost wished his lie wasn’t so convincing.

“I thought these exchange students could usually speak good English,” Robin continued. He could talk and talk and talk, leaving Arlen little chance to get a word in edgeways usually.

“He started quite late,” Arlen continued the lie. It hadn’t gotten to the point of a tangled web yet, like all lies eventually did, which meant he could continue ensuring Harry had all the protection he needed.

A thunderous stampede sounded from the stairs as Ava, Newton and Isaac rushed down one after the other.

“We got a lead, stay here,” Ava commanded before racing out of the door before Arlen could ask questions. Though he understood that he had to keep a lower profile to keep Harry safe, it was gutting to be left out of the action.

“Your friends not staying?” Robin questioned, commenting on the events.

“They’ve got somewhere to be,” Arlen vaguely answered. It wasn’t untrue, for a change.

“Why don’t you head out with Harry? There’s still an hour before the curfew,” Robin suggested.

“It’s okay, thanks,” Arlen smiled, politely declining. Going outside was simply too risky for Harry now. At least his dad worked weekdays, meaning he’d never notice Harry not going to school. It wouldn’t be easy, but Arlen knew he could pull this off.

Sprinting back to the forest, Newton was desperate to find the ring he picked up earlier. Frustratingly, though he had been racking his brain as much as possible, he had no recollection of what had happened to it. Everything at the precinct happened so fast, most of it was a blur and it could easily have fallen out in a struggle.

Perhaps it slipped out of his pocket?

Perhaps it was stolen?

Newton simply didn’t know, but he was certainly hoping he’d find it lying on the ground exactly where he last remembered seeing it.

He, Ava and Isaac all reached the edge of the forest together, just a couple of minutes away from Arlen’s place. There weren’t any guards in sight, much to Newton’s relief – he’d had more than his fair share of those in the past twenty-four hours.

“We were stood here,” Newton recalled, placing him in the exact spot he was in before.

“Okay, if you dropped it, it can’t have bounced far,” Isaac immediately began examining the surrounding ground, which was littered with the golden autumn leaves that satisfyingly crunched below their shoes.

Newton joined the search. It was small, so could easily have buried itself under a leaf, but nothing was showing no matter how thorough he was being.

“Stop right there,” a voice came from behind. Newton shuddered. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who that was.

Sure enough, as he turned around, he spotted one of the guards. The guard who helped them get out of the precinct earlier that day.

“What are you doing back here? Have you got a death wish?” he continued. He looked young, not that Newton could see much with the helmet shadowing much of his face.

“He’s one of the guards who interviewed me,” Isaac whispered.

“Why did you help us escape?” Ava queried.

“You didn’t deserve to be there,” the guard replied flippantly.

“No, it’s more than that. You don’t agree with it,” Ava continued. Newton was impressed – Ava never missed a trick. It was kind of hot.

“There’s nothing I can do, and there’s definitely nothing you can do. I just help those caught in the crossfire,” the guard explained.

“Then help us again,” Isaac begged, “We can make a change. We can save him.”

“They’ll take him, you know. Your new friend,” the guard continued, “Like they took the ring you found.”

Newton sighed. They were too late – the ring was undoubtedly shrouded away in the precinct now.

“Then please, help us out. He’s vulnerable and no matter what, he’s still a person,” Ava debated.

“I could lose my job,” the guard mentioned.

“And that would be bad?” Newton couldn’t restrain himself – it sounded ludicrous and quite frankly pathetic.

“I’ve got bills to pay, student debt still piled up, I need a job,” he hit back.

“We understand,” Isaac sympathised, “Look, maybe we can talk more later. Somewhere neutral and public, but you need to get us the ring.”

“How do we know we can trust this guy?” Newton said to Isaac and Ava. He didn’t lower his voice on purpose – he needed the guard to know he wasn’t in their circle of trust just yet – but equally he needed to make sure Ava and Isaac were aware too.

“You don’t,” the guard responded, “But we’re all in this together. If you want to put a stop to this, you’ll realise we need each other.” It was the best answer Newton could have asked for, really.

“Starbucks in town, seven o’clock,” Ava suggested.

“Fuck the curfew,” Newton smiled. He felt rebellious, and he loved every moment of it.

Arlen felt bored. Quickly, he was starting to realise that he shouldn’t ever consider a career in babysitting. Harry had picked a show to watch on Netflix on Arlen’s TV, so they were currently on their third Miranda episode of the evening. Harry had seen them all already with Isaac, so was laughing at the gags before they even arrived. Arlen found it pretty adorable, especially considering how taking care of Harry was a little like looking after a child anyway.

It wasn’t that Arlen wasn’t enjoying the show or the company, but he did feel like a spare part on the team. A little useless, even, despite having one of the most important jobs.

“Love,” Harry commented as Miranda and her love interest Gary shared yet another awkward encounter.

“Like you and Isaac, right?” Arlen added, trying to engage with Harry as much as he could.

“Love Isaac,” Harry responded confidently.

A moment of silence passed. Arlen wanted to find out more about Harry. He must have likes and dislikes, but how could he ask in a way Harry could understand? His phrasing was important.

“Are you liking school?” Arlen queried.

“Like. Confusing,” Harry replied with two separate points. That was the longest word Arlen had heard him use so far.

“It’s hard. Miss Savill is pretty scary too, right?” Arlen smiled playfully.

“Scary,” Harry laughed. Arlen had gotten Harry into gossiping, and he was loving it.

“Miss Isaac,” Harry said, his mood sinking back down.

“I know, but it’s okay, I promise,” Arlen soothed. He couldn’t console Harry the way Isaac did, but he was doing his best, even if he felt inadequate and ultimately helpless.

Within a split second, Harry began shaking. Fast. Sudden. The speed accelerated as he convulsed faster, and faster, and faster.

“Harry!” Arlen exclaimed, unsure of exactly what to do. Quickly, Arlen thought back to the first aid training day all sophomores were forced into at school on the second day back. He migrated Harry’s body into the recovery position, though it wasn’t doing anything to help.

“Ring. Ring. Ring,” Harry kept repeating. Over and over. Arlen was helpless.

The ambience of Starbucks was greatly at odds with Isaac’s mood. His mind was erratic, his train of thought was confused and he couldn’t focus.

Comparatively, Ava and Newton looked relaxed and shockingly comfortable. Isaac wasn’t sure how, but perhaps they were keeping it together for his sake?

The door opened. Isaac’s untouched tea vibrated slightly. The guard had arrived, wearing casual clothing instead of his uniform this time. Without the helmet, he was able to show off his well-styled auburn hair and pretty cute face with neatly trimmed stubble. He looked a lot less intimidating without the uniform.

“I got it,” he said, pulling up a chair to the table, “But they’re going to notice before long, it was under maximum security.”

“Thank you,” Isaac smiled genuinely and gratefully.

“I switched CCTV off so they won’t know it was me, but don’t be surprised if they come knocking at your door,” he warned.

“It’s okay, he’s safe elsewhere,” Isaac reassured.

“Nowhere is safe, don’t forget that,” the guard guided, “Look, we don’t know how, but the ring helps them out. It’s like it’s their lifeforce.”

“How can a ring like that be an entire person’s lifeforce?” Ava questioned. Isaac could practically hear the cogs spinning in her logical brain, trying desperately to figure it out.

“We don’t know. It’s definitely alien, but none of us can get it to work on us. All of the subjects have one,” the guard detailed.

“Subjects?” Newton picked up on the dodgy wording, “That’s sick.”

“I know, I’m sorry. That’s what they’re called, we don’t have a name for this race,” the guard continued.

“Speaking of names,” Isaac thought, “What’s yours? I never asked.”

“Jenkins,” he answered, “Trainee.”

“Wait, you said it’s their lifeforce,” Ava interjected, “What about Harry? He doesn’t have his and he’s been fine.”

“They can survive roughly a week without it,” Jenkins continued, “Give or take. When did he arrive again?”

“Sunday night,” Isaac replied. It was two days before a full week had elapsed, thankfully.

“Assuming it takes the full week, and that he lost the ring when he landed and not before,” Jenkins ominously mentioned.

“Wait, so he could be at risk now?” Ava figured out, thinking aloud.

Grabbing the ring, Isaac sprung to action. He wasn’t hanging around when Harry was in danger. He sprinted out of the café, ready to deliver the ring to Harry at long last.

He wasn’t taking any chances.

Running was never Isaac’s strong point. He hated sports at school and he was asthmatic, which meant he could only manage short stretches of running without using his inhaler. Nevertheless, he was powering on through, inhaler in hand for easy access, because Harry needed him more.

Isaac entering Arlen’s house wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Robin, seeing as he had a key anyway and came and went quite freely, much like Arlen did at Isaac’s. However, as he reached the front door, Isaac had to slow the pace down momentarily. He didn’t want to look like there was an emergency situation, because for all Robin knew, Harry had nothing to do with Isaac.

“Hi Mr. Edison,” Isaac greeted politely as he entered the house.

“Hey Isaac, Arlen’s upstairs,” Robin informed. Isaac nodded and jogged up to Arlen’s bedroom. Immediately, he could hear something was up.

“Ring. Ring. Ring,” he heard Harry’s voice repeating, his usual innocent tone replaced with a struggling, hoarse voice. Isaac looked into Arlen’s room and saw Harry violently convulsing as Arlen tended to his side, keeping him in the recovery position.

“Harry!” Isaac yelled, rushing towards him with complete panic taking over.

“He just started shaking out of nowhere,” Arlen explained.

“It’s okay, come on,” Isaac said, sliding the ring onto Harry’s ring finger.

“Dude, it’s hardly the time,” Arlen commented, obviously and understandably confused at what Isaac was doing.

Pressing his thumb on the slider, Isaac watched as the spikes dug inwards to Harry’s skin. Blood trickled down the sides, sending a shiver through Isaac’s spine.

“I’m sorry,” Isaac apologised.

Harry stopped shaking. He was completely still – scarily so. Isaac looked on worriedly, as did Arlen; they were both as in-the-dark as each other.

“Is he okay?” Newton wondered as he and Ava arrived, keeping their distance in the doorway.

Harry bolted upright, sitting on the edge of Arlen’s bed. He looked a little vacant, but his eyes were open and staring directly ahead. The room fell completely silent – all of them were desperate to see what happened next.

“Harry?” Isaac questioned, testing if anyone was home. Suddenly, Isaac felt a shockwave vibrate through the room, propelling him backwards against the far wall. A low-pitched buzz radiated across, like a pulse transmitted from Harry. Isaac landed against Newton, with all four of them landing in a clump on the floor.

Isaac tried to stand up, but he needed to watch his balance. His head was pounding.

“Everyone okay?” Arlen checked, his speech sounding slow and slurred.

“Yeah,” Isaac, Ava and Newton all repeated almost in unison.

“Me too,” came a fifth voice. The recognisable voice of Harry. Isaac hadn’t ever heard him say that before. In fact, he hadn’t used a proper sentence at all, and certainly no pronouns.

Harry looked okay, his eyes much less vacant and he was able to focus on Isaac.

“What the hell was that?” Isaac questioned, approaching Harry.

“I don’t know, I’m sorry,” Harry apologetically replied.

Isaac was stunned to the silence. Harry spoke in an actual, fluent sentence. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t Harry.

“Who are you? What’s happened to you?” Isaac terrifyingly interrogated.

“I’m Harry,” he replied, “Isaac, are you okay?” Harry smiled his familiar innocent grin. His mannerisms hadn’t changed, but something clearly had.

This was a new start for them all.

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Next: "Talk"

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