When a shooting star crashes just metres from his house, Isaac Avery meets a young lad, who nicknames himself Harry, who doesn't speak a word of English. As his mum, Elenore, investigates, Isaac takes Harry under his wing. How will Harry cope in school? Is Isaac right to be worried about him?
With guards from Riverhampton's Security Precint asking around about strange goings-on in the forest, Isaac's number one concern is keeping Harry safe. However, Isaac realises he needs more than one pair of hands, even if it means embroiling best friends Arlen and Ava in something dangerous.
After being shut out by Isaac and Arlen, Ava takes matters into her own hands and investigates Harry further. She realises her wildest theories may not be so wild after all. Isaac is faced with a new challenge to protect Harry, but the emotion weighs heavier than ever.
Emotions piling up, Isaac tries to make sense of his feelings towards Harry, and vice versa. Having heard nothing from Ava, he and Arlen launch a mission to rescue her, though it involves someone very close to home for Isaac.
Finding help in an unlikely source, Isaac learns more about who Harry may be, and with Ava's help, makes a difficult decision to ensure his safety going forward. However, when Arlen finds Harry experiencing a seizure, Isaac's world changes forever.
Shellshocked, Isaac begins to learn more about Harry as he and his friends are forced to team up with the precinct. When an impossible decision is given to Harry, will he be up to the challenge?
With Bella threatening the entire precinct, Harry is faced with his toughest decision yet - how far will he go to save Isaac? Meanwhile, when investigating a new arrival, Ava is kidnapped, leaving Arlen and Newton to put aside their differences. Can they work together to save her?
Bella's plan begins to come together as her army gathers and she manipulates Harry, putting his relationship with Isaac to its biggest test yet. Ava, Arlen and Newton are forced to work together with a surprising ally to save themselves and the precinct from the oncoming army.
1: Friend Written by MarthaJonesFan
Eagerly awaiting the return of Big Brother on TV, Isaac had just minutes to go. He and his mum loved watching it year-in, year-out, and it was undoubtedly his television highlight of the year.
As always, his mum Elenore sat on the comfiest seat in their reasonably-sized living room. She made their pretty simple house as luxurious as she could. Being a single mum was never going to be easy, but she made it work.
Isaac had lived in Riverhampton, California for his entire life. It was a pretty nice town, and he could easily have ended up somewhere worse, given his less than ideal start to life. Isaac was a foster child, and the kids at school made a pretty darn big deal out of it. After all, his mum was black and he was as white as a sheet. Riverhampton was mostly a liberal and progressive town, but people seemed to have a hard time understanding a modern family.
The adverts were dragging. Isaac’s excitement was ramping up. He glanced out of the window, keeping himself occupied. Their house was situated on the edge of a forest. In fact, the forest was basically his back garden. During the daytime, it seemed like the coolest place ever, and he had so many incredible childhood memories there. However, it felt different at night. It felt scary.
“Here we go,” his mum grabbed his attention, just as Isaac spotted something cool in the corner of his eye. It looked like a shooting star. It was so pretty – he had never seen a shooting star before. Isaac never usually believed in superstitious crap, but he couldn’t help making a wish. Just like always, Isaac wished for a boyfriend. He was approaching seventeen years old, and hadn’t ever had a relationship. Not even his first kiss. Everybody said there was no rush, but most people in his year group seemed to be coupled up. It was as if there were a countdown ticking away, and anyone not coupled up by the end would be single forever. His autism undoubtedly played a part in that, though. Social interaction wasn’t his forte outside his best friends.
“Did you see that?” Isaac questioned. His mum looked confused, too busy watching the television, “There was a shooting star.”
“That’s lovely darling,” she responded in her clear English accent. She had been living in the USA for longer than Isaac had been alive, but her accent always remained as thick as ever.
As she spoke, the shooting star continued across the sky, moving towards them rapidly. Its trajectory spiralled downwards. It looked as if it were about to land in the forest.
It landed. Fire engulfed a section of the forest just a few metres from Isaac’s house. This was too good to miss.
“Come on,” Isaac encouraged. He took his mum’s hand, pulling her out of her comfy armchair. Isaac was so intrigued. He had to take a look.
Rushing ahead while his mum followed, Isaac knew exactly where he was heading. He wasn’t stupid; he knew running into a blazing fire was dangerous, so he didn’t want to get too close. Isaac just wanted to see the shooting star up close if he could.
The trees stood up tall all over the forest. They clouded the moonshine, leaving only the fire to light Isaac’s way. He knew roughly where he was going anyway – the outskirts of the forest were as familiar as the back of his hand.
Directly ahead of him now was the fire, burning brightly and ferociously. However, it looked so pretty and extravagant. The wisps of fire looked so graceful – it was a stark contrast from how damaging it actually was.
“Isaac, hold up,” his mum kept safety on her mind, “It’s dangerous here.”
“I know, I just want to look,” Isaac responded. He could watch the fire raging and burning for hours. It was so fascinating.
“I think we’ve looked enough. Come on, there’s nothing here,” his mum encouraged. However, as she spoke, Isaac spotted something impossible. Something that should never have happened. A silhouette appeared out of the smoke. A human-shaped silhouette, its features obscured by the masses of smoke. Isaac watched in amazement as they approached them. Their pale skin came into view – the pale skin of a teenage boy. His dark, floppy hair was messed up and frayed. He wore nothing to cover his scorched skin. Isaac was in pure shock. How could anyone have survived that?
“Hello, I’m Isaac,” Isaac called out. No response came, but as the lad reached them, he collapsed. Isaac fretted. Who the hell was he?
“This is your room for now,” Isaac explained. His new friend stood in the almost empty spare room with a very lost expression on his face. It was as if he didn’t understand the society he had just arrived in. He woke up not long after he passed out thankfully, and Isaac’s mum was a nurse practitioner; it saved them an awkward hospital trip. That said, she was determined to bring him to the sheriff station the following morning, but Isaac was unconvinced. Things didn’t add up with him – he had emerged from a burning fire, where a shooting star landed, without even a scratch on his body?
The room had a couple of Isaac’s old posters in there – one of Harry Styles from a magazine, and another of Cody Simpson; both posters previously decorated his own room but he wasn’t willing to throw them out.
“Get comfortable,” Isaac suggested. He wasn’t sure the boy even spoke English. He had to dress him up in some of his own spare pyjamas, as if he had never seen them before. He was unlike anyone Isaac had seen before. The lad hadn’t mentioned his name still. In fact, he hadn’t said a single word.
“My name is Isaac,” Isaac reiterated, speaking clearly and simplifying his language as much as he could, “Do you understand?” Isaac nodded then shook his head. Surely that was a language everyone understood?
Isaac had achieved a result. They could communicate somehow.
“What is your name?” Isaac continued.
“Isaac,” he spoke.
“Isaac is my name,” Isaac pointed to himself, before gesturing forwards, “Yours?”
“Three-four-two,” he quietly responded.
Isaac was confused. That wasn’t a name. How could that be a name? Then Isaac realised. That must have been his name. 3-4-2. He said he’d understood after all.
“Harry” 3-4-2 added. Isaac was confused. Was his name actually Harry? Isaac spotted the Harry Styles poster in the corner of the room, with his first name written clearly in big font on the front. He was able to read.
“Do you like that?” Isaac queried, showing his thumbs up to help clarify.
“Like,” 3-4-2 replied, “I Harry.”
“What about a surname? I’m Isaac Avery,” Isaac considered.
“Cody,” Harry read once again from the posters. This time, the Cody Simpson one.
“Cody’s not a surname, but Simpson, that could work,” Isaac considered with a polite smile on his face, “Harry Simpson.”
“Harry Simpson. Like,” Harry smiled back. He was picking up some words, “Like Isaac.”
Isaac’s polite smile turned into a genuinely proud one. Harry was adorable, and they had definitely bonded. It wasn’t like Harry had anybody else. Isaac adored his naïve nature. He knew he could trust him.
Finally, Harry had gotten off to sleep. Isaac was wide awake, though. His mind was performing somersaults at a rapid rate. He was desperately trying to solve the mystery of who Harry was, but nothing was coming up. Everything that happened genuinely seemed to defy the logic in his brain.
“I’m off to bed,” mum said, pushing herself up off her armchair, “Tomorrow we need to take him to the sheriff.”
“Mom, no,” Isaac protested, “Something isn’t right with him.”
“And that’s exactly why we need to let the professionals do their job,” mum debated, much to Isaac’s frustration. He needed to get her to understand from his point of view.
“He couldn’t even dress himself, mom. He can speak about three words of English, all of which I taught him tonight. You can’t say this is remotely normal,” Isaac reasoned.
“What should we do then? What if we find out his parents have been looking for him?” mum considered.
“You could ask,” Isaac suggested, “If there’s anyone missing. If he has parents out there, they will have reported him by tomorrow, right?”
“I suppose,” mum realised. Isaac was slowly but surely persuading her, “I just don’t want you to get into trouble. I’m the adult, I’m supposed to protect you.”
Isaac understood. If Harry had a family out there, it would backfire on both of them, but what sort of family gives their child a name like 3-4-2? Isaac knew in his gut that they were doing the right thing.
“He’ll need to go to school, though,” mum noted. Darn. Isaac had almost forgotten about school, “I’ll call them first thing. If he’s staying here, he needs to go to school.”
Isaac couldn’t disagree. People would learn about Harry’s existence eventually, and they had to be as normal as possible.
It was a shame Isaac knew very little about normality.
Stepping out of his small but suitable red car, Isaac wasn’t looking forward to another week of school. Sophomore year so far had been chaotic; the level of homework had stepped up, and Isaac was barely on-the-ball.
Until this weekend, that was. Isaac had forgotten all about homework, and had spectacularly tumbled off the metaphorical ball. Harry had been a pretty major distraction, deviating from his usual Sunday routine. He didn’t regret it by any means, because Harry had become his priority, but it was a stress on his mind nonetheless. He had hoped Miss Savill would forget she set math homework.
Harry grabbed Isaac’s arm. He was wearing one of Isaac’s t-shirts – one that was a little too big, which was perfect for Harry’s height. He had a worried expression on his face. He was in an unfamiliar setting; a feeling of anxiety that Isaac was more familiar with than most.
“It’s okay, you’re with me all day,” Isaac comforted, “You and me.”
“Isaac Harry,” Harry said, perking up slightly. He took Isaac’s hand for comfort. Isaac smiled as butterflies began to populate his tummy. Harry gave him such a warm feeling. He was too adorable and innocent for a place like school.
“Hey fags,” the sound of a repugnant male voice yelled over. Isaac’s blood boiled. He didn’t even recognise the voice; it was a random student he didn’t even know. A simmering rage ran through Isaac’s body, but he chose to ignore it. Reacting got him nowhere. He just had to be grateful that Harry almost definitely couldn’t understand that.
“Hey Isaac,” a more familiar, pleasant voice called over. It was the friendly tone of Ava, who rushed over from the front entrance to see him. Her soft, auburn waves blustered in the gentle breeze, making her look like a movie star, in addition to the light sprinkling of make-up that complemented her rusty brown eyes.
Jogging behind her, as casually as ever, was Arlen – Isaac’s other best friend. Ava and Arlen were the only two people in the school Isaac particularly cared to speak to – otherwise, he preferred to mind his own business.
“Hey, who’s this?” Arlen smiled casually, looking towards Harry. As he spoke, Arlen pushed his hand through his floppy hair, as if he were trying to neaten it, though it landed in more-or-less the same place as before.
“Hey, this is Harry, my…” Isaac paused. He hadn’t thought of an explanation for who Harry was yet. He had to think fast, “Cousin. He’s from Sweden, so he doesn’t know much English, that’s why he’s here.”
“Oh, you’ve never mentioned him before. Hi Harry,” Ava smiled, before bouncing back off towards the front entrance. It was nice to know she was so trusting of what Isaac said. No further questions were asked.
“I’m Arlen, she’s Ava,” Arlen put a hand out for Harry to shake. Harry looked back blankly. Clearly, he had never seen a handshake before. An awkward silence ensued, before Harry cutely tapped Arlen’s hand. It was an attempt. Arlen nodded in a friendly manor, though his eyes spoke of his confusion. Regardless, he jogged back over to Ava.
“It’s okay, they’re my friends,” Isaac smiled gently. He gave a thumbs up signal. He was quickly realising that body language as key for making Harry understand.
“Like,” Harry smiled nervously.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be quite as difficult as Isaac worried.
Waiting patiently at the sheriff station, Elenore was keen to find out more about this so-called “Harry.” Isaac had taken a shine to him, such was his empathetic nature, but Elenore wasn’t sure. Isaac was right in saying something wasn’t right with Harry, but it wasn’t their responsibility. Ultimately, Elenore couldn’t stop a mother possibly reuniting with her child. She knew it would kill her to lose Isaac.
“Ms. Avery?” the Sheriff poked his head around the door.
“Please, call me Elenore,” she smiled politely, as if she were dealing with a patient at work. Elenore always had a good bedside manner – it was part of the job of nurse practitioner. She had a busy, crazy job, but it was always service with a smile in front of the patients. It was a transferable life skill, too.
Sheriff Herron led the way into his office. He was a tall man, slightly older than she was, and dashing in every way. He was charming and easy to talk to, which made this unusual job of going to the sheriff station that little bit easier.
“What can I help you with, Elenore?” he smiled, oozing with charm.
“I overheard my son saying he saw a kid in the forest earlier, naked, alone, and lost,” Elenore told a version of the truth, “I was wondering if there were any reports of missing kids.”
“Do you have a description please?” Sheriff Herron enquired, bringing a file to hand.
“Male, tall, late teens, dark hair,” Elenore explained, giving a vague description of Harry.
Sheriff Herron scanned up and down the file carefully, before reporting back, “Nope, nothing here. Do you want me to put an APB out?”
“No, I’m probably over-analysing,” Elenore politely declined, “Probably him and his imagination, as always.”
“Alright, we’ll keep an eye out just in case. Thank you Elenore,” Sheriff Herron smiled, getting out of his seat to escort Elenore out. Elenore wasn’t sure what to do next, but she expected Isaac may have been right the entire time.
Ensuring Harry took the empty seat to his left, Isaac felt on edge in math class. He was almost certain that Miss Savill was about to collect the homework in, so he sat with butterflies filling his stomach. Isaac was worried about how Harry would see him.
Arlen was sat to his right as always. He leaned in towards Isaac, obviously keen to probe further about his so-called cousin. Ava may have been satisfied with his explanation, but Arlen never looked so convinced.
“You’ve never mentioned a cousin,” Arlen enquired, as if he were making an accusation.
“Distant relative, he’s staying here while his parents are away for work,” Isaac lied. He knew he wasn’t the best liar, but the real explanation was far more complicated.
“Dude, you’re a shit liar, you said he was here to learn English,” Arlen caught him out, raising an eyebrow.
“Alright, I’m sorry. I’ll explain later,” Isaac gave in. Perhaps he could do with some extra help to solve the mystery?
“Okay class, I need three volunteers to the board please,” Miss Savill began the lesson as assertively as ever, “Harry, here’s your book, please keep it safe and tidy.”
Harry looked at the book in his usual state of confusion. Isaac understood why mum wanted him to go to school, but he couldn’t have been more out of his depth. He didn’t understand humanity enough. Maybe he wasn’t human?
No, that was too far-fetched, even for something as ridiculous as Harry’s situation.
Isaac demonstrated with the front cover of his own book. “Name,” Isaac illustrated, “Use the pen.” Isaac then showed Harry how to hold the pen. He hadn’t considered this being a problem.
Harry managed to write his name, and intriguingly, he spelt it perfectly.
With curiosity in his eyes, Harry looked at the board. Isaac had seen the terrifying trigonometry questions on there. He could use SOH CAH TOA to solve the right-angled triangle questions, but the sine and cosine rules were much less friendly.
Interestingly, Harry began writing, as if he couldn’t stop himself. Isaac kept watching, desperate to see the end result. Was he drawing something?
Pen down. Harry passed his book to Isaac, as if he were keen to show off what he had worked on. Isaac examined the book. All of the math questions done, within the space of a minute.
“Woah,” Isaac was amazed. He didn’t think – numbers were a universal language, and obviously Harry was damned smart. Maybe school wouldn’t be so tricky after all?
Showing Harry how to work his locker at lunchtime, Isaac was surprised at how just smoothly the day had gone. Miss Savill hadn’t collected the homework in, so he was given a reprieve on that front, and Harry had been finding the lessons okay. Obviously, his grasp of the English language was low, but he had no trouble grasping the dates in history, or technique in art.
“Like,” Harry smiled as Isaac slotted his ever-growing selection of books into his locker.
“You’re clever,” Isaac complimented, “I really wish we could talk.”
“Isaac friend,” Harry added. A word Isaac hadn’t heard him use before. Progress. “Home.”
“We can’t go home yet, we have one more class,” Isaac responded.
“No. Talk,” Harry took Isaac’s hand and led him out of the corridor, and out of the school. He pointed at the car and signalled a driving motion with his hands.
“We’ll get into trouble for skipping class,” Isaac defended, always keeping his eye on the right thing to do. He preferred to play by the rules.
Harry nonetheless opened the passenger door and sat inside. Isaac knew he had to follow his lead. He needed some answers.
Isaac followed Harry’s directions for the duration of the journey. He had a very strong sense of direction, much like Isaac himself, though he was only communicating through hand gestures. Isaac had to pay extra special attention to his hand directions without taking his eye off the road – it was an art in itself.
They arrived at Harry’s destination: the scene of the fire. It had been put out overnight by the fire service, and it looked far less majestic as a result, but Isaac could still see the damage. The trees had scorch marks scattered across their branches, and that was only if they were still standing, as a pile of burnt down trees were scattered across the centre.
Harry immediately began attempting to shift some of the tree trunks, with little luck. He then tried clearing the pile of leaves decorating the ground that autumn. He was looking for something specific.
“What is it?” Isaac tried to be useful, looking around the forest ground himself, but there wasn’t much he felt he could do.
“Home,” Harry replied, acting frantically and emotionally.
Isaac didn’t know how to help. He felt useless and hated how he couldn’t communicate more effectively with Harry. He wanted to be the helping hand Harry obviously needed.
“Come on, there’s nothing here “Isaac gently encouraged. Harry swung round to react, almost hitting Isaac.
Isaac hadn’t seen him like that before. He looked angry, though that quickly dropped into a regretful, remorseful expression. Harry began to cry. Tears formed in his eyes, the sunlight reflecting off the droplets of water as they began to trickle gracefully down his perfect skin. Isaac knew he didn’t mean his reaction. He needed to learn a new word.
“It’s okay. I know you’re sorry,” Isaac comforted, drying Harry’s tears with his hand.
“Sorry,” Harry repeated, “Best friend.”
Isaac pulled him in for a hug. Harry was so precious, and needed all the looking after that Isaac could give, “Best friend.”
Torch lights shone. Dogs barked. People in a dark, military-style uniform surrounded them.
“Remain still,” and order was given. Isaac felt terrified, but this was nothing compared to what Harry must have been feeling. He had to get them out of there.
2: Protection Written by MarthaJonesFan
That was the only word Isaac could think of to describe the situation he and Harry had found themselves in.
The panic extended to Harry, too. He had an expression of pure terror in his eyes. He didn’t know what was happening, but Isaac knew it had to be related to Harry. It was too big a coincidence.
“I repeat, remain still,” the voice sounded again. The military-type guards weren’t moving, simply staring and pointing their torch lights. At least they weren’t pointing guns at them, though Isaac could tell they were armed – their uniform had gun holsters attached. He wasn’t even thinking of disobeying.
“No like,” Harry whispered, his voice quivering.
“Same,” Isaac calmed him down, taking his hand and gripping it tightly.
“Not here,” Harry mentioned. What did he mean? Harry had said a lot of stuff that made little sense to Isaac. He was an enigma; a mystery that Isaac was desperate to solve.
“It’s okay, they will let us go, they can’t do anything. We’re doing nothing wrong,” Isaac kept as calm as he possibly could to reassure Harry. He was reassuring himself too.
Two of the military guards approached. Isaac pushed Harry behind him, not letting go of his hand, protecting him in the only way he could.
“Isaac Avery, and this is Harry, he’s my brother,” Isaac lied. Anything to help get them out.
“He doesn’t look like your brother,” the other guard probed rudely.
“Watch your tone,” the first guard warned.
“I was adopted,” Isaac justified. He wasn’t lying that time either, his mum had the adoption records to prove it.
“Why are you here?” the first guard continued his interrogation.
“We live just there,” Isaac pointed at his house, just about visible among the tree tops, “We were just hanging out.”
“Head on home, you can’t be here,” the first guard replied.
Isaac breathed a sigh of relief, but somehow, he feared this was just the beginning.
the front door shut, Isaac breathed a sigh of relief. He had no idea who he had
just escaped from, but he knew he was glad to be away from them.
Harry panted. They had sprinted away after the guard gave his warning, not wanting to be near them for any longer than necessary. Isaac knew it had to be connected to Harry somehow – the circumstances around his appearance were so odd after all, it had to have received some attention.
Isaac led Harry upstairs into his own bedroom. Harry hadn’t been in there yet – he’d slept in the spare room the night before. Pushing the door open, Isaac watched as Harry looked on in amazement. Isaac took an immense level of pride in his room – he had decorated the walls with posters and pictures of everything he liked, the bed was made immaculately with cushions he had bought from Redbubble placed on top, and everything he owned was tidied away neatly on shelving units. The room was his space, so he ensured it was as personal to him as he could make it.
“Harry,” Harry gazed in awe at the biggest poster in the room. Of course, the subject was Harry Styles, directly opposite Isaac’s bed next to the door.
“You like him, huh?” Isaac smiled. He had definitely been drawn quite strongly to Harry Styles so far.
“Like,” Harry smiled back, touching Harry Styles’ hair on the picture. He then touched his own hair, as if he were investigating it. Like he hadn’t paid any attention to his cute, floppy, brunette barnet before. Isaac found it pretty adorable.
Isaac picked up his laptop from beside his bed and made himself comfortable. School was over, and it was time to relax. Besides, Harry needed a hobby, and Isaac’s top hobby was just one click away.
“Sit,” Isaac patted the space next to him on the bed, inviting Harry to join him instead of standing awkwardly by the door.
Harry climbed on top, leaning against the pillows, copying Isaac’s body shape expertly. He didn’t even seem familiar with the concept of a bed; he had slept in the spare room the night before, but Isaac hadn’t ever considered that something as basic as a bed might be new to him.
“What do you want to watch?” Isaac politely questioned, scrolling through some of his Netflix favourites. Doctor Who. Teen Wolf. One Day at a Time. Then he reached the perfect show, “You’ll love this.”
Isaac clicked open the first episode of Miranda, immediately seeing Miranda Hart’s titular character greeting the audience. Even if Harry didn’t understand the words, it was very visual. Surely even he would crack a smile at Miranda falling over in a gloriously clumsy fashion?
“Girl,” Harry identified. That was a word Isaac hadn’t heard him use before.
“That’s right. What am I?” Isaac pointed to himself.
“Boy,” Harry replied confidently. His observation skills were top notch too. He was very clever.
“Yeah,” Isaac smiled proudly. Harry was a very fast learner. Perhaps there was something he could do to enhance his communication further?
Arlen couldn’t deny it – he was pretty darn curious about this Harry kid. He had known Isaac since they were in kindergarten, and he was a terrible liar. Isaac never lied because he knew he was the worst liar around.
Parking his car outside Isaac’s beautifully scenic house, Arlen was ready to get some answers. Isaac had promised him the full story earlier, but Arlen was almost more interested in why he didn’t get the truth the first time around.
“Are we going in or what?” Ava impatiently queried. Arlen had told her they were hanging around Isaac’s house, just as they often did after school, but it was partly so his plan didn’t feel so unusual or forced. Ava didn’t know that, though. She was smart – smarter than all of them, not that she ever wanted to show it off. Before long, she would undoubtedly piece everything together herself, but Arlen wanted to make headway first. More than one voice could backfire.
“Right,” Arlen nodded awkwardly as he opened his car door. He looked around at the forest. Arlen was always in awe of the view from Isaac’s front door. The tall trees, the leaves whispering the secrets of the forest to each other, and… the military guard.
Huh? Why was there a military guard stood on the cusp of the forest? He was staring purposefully directly in their direction, too. Arlen tried to brush it off, opening the front door using the key Isaac had given him years back, pretending he hadn’t seen the guard at all.
“Hey Ms. Avery,” Arlen waved towards Isaac’s mum in the living room. It looked like she had just gotten home from work – she still had her white nurse practitioner coat on. Arlen loved how authoritative a white coat made someone, and it certainly suited somebody like Elenore.
“Hi you two, Isaac’s upstairs, I’ve not seen him yet,” Elenore explained.
“Alright, thanks,” Arlen smiled, remaining polite. He had known Elenore just as long as Isaac, and she had been more of a mum to him than his own for much of his life. He had the utmost respect for her raising Isaac on her own; Arlen had seen first-hand that it wasn’t always easy.
Upstairs, Arlen heard laughing coming from Isaac’s room. Two different laughs. Harry was there too. Arlen hadn’t heard him speak yet, but he saw him acing the maths questions in class. He clearly knew a thing or two.
“How’s it going?” Arlen led the way into Isaac’s bedroom, holding the door for Ava. Isaac and Harry were lying on the bed in front of the laptop, obviously recovering from their rapturous laughter.
“Oh, hey you guys,” Isaac greeted. He looked shocked to see them, as if they had interrupted something.
“Sorry, are you busy?” Arlen queried, not wanting to get in their way.
“No, not at all, the episode’s just finished,” Isaac perked up, “Come and sit.”
Arlen looked Harry in the eyes. He seemed so sweet and innocent. This made him all the more curious. What could have been so bad about this sweet kid that would make Isaac want to lie?
The evening passed quickly, and Isaac enjoyed having a good laugh. It felt awesome to have both of his friends meeting Harry properly, like they were a true team. Harry didn’t utter a word the entire time, but Isaac wouldn’t have expected him to. However, he definitely seemed comfortable and at ease with Ava and Arlen, and that meant a lot to Isaac.
“Didn’t Miss Savill have to explain it to you five times?” Ava laughed at Isaac’s expense.
“Hey, it was hard,” Isaac defended himself, as was in his nature.
“I know, dumbass, just pulling your leg,” Ava smiled playfully. She was used to Isaac not always understanding the joke, and it was why Isaac was so appreciative of his friends. Making new friends was hard because they didn’t know his quirks and oddities like Ava and Arlen did.
Harry was laughing along with the group, though Isaac wasn’t sure he knew what they were laughing at. Nevertheless, he was pleased that Harry was understanding social cues and making the effort.
Arlen prodded Isaac on the shoulder, signalling that he wanted a word. Isaac hadn’t forgotten their discussion at school earlier that day. In fact, it had been front and centre of his mind ever since, much like everything concerning Harry. Arlen wanted the full story, and honestly, Isaac wanted somebody else to confide in. Someone who wasn’t his mum, who had a greater sense of responsibility.
“He seems nice,” Arlen began, pulling the bedroom door to behind him. Ava was talking away to Harry, who couldn’t get a word in edgeways even if he wanted or was able to.
“He is. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Isaac replied, keen to sing Harry’s praises to an obviously doubtful Arlen.
“Who is he then?” Arlen wondered, almost impatiently.
“I don’t know,” Isaac responded honestly, “A shooting star crashed out there and he walked straight out from it like it was nothing.”
“He could be anyone,” a sceptical Arlen noted, “How do you know this isn’t an act?”
Isaac’s stomach turned. He hadn’t thought about it this way. Harry could be anyone, and there was no way to prove that he was genuine.
That said, Isaac thought about the look in Harry’s adorable green eyes. He had to be genuine. The sheer confusion at just about everything a typical human would know. He would need to be a darn good actor to keep that up for approaching twenty-four hours, especially as Isaac had barely left his side.
“You didn’t see him earlier, in the forest,” Isaac thought back, “We saw these guards, and the look on Harry’s face. He was horrified. It was completely unfiltered.”
“Wait, you saw them too?” Arlen mentioned.
“Yeah, they told us to go home,” Isaac replied. They must still have been in the forest when Arlen arrived.
The front door knocked three times.
Isaac’s heart jumped. He peeped out of the landing window curiously – they weren’t expecting visitors and rarely got any, postman aside. However, the same two guards who spoke to Isaac and Harry earlier were stood waiting outside the front door.
Now it was time to panic.
There was something cute and sweet about Harry, Ava thought. He laughed at just the right moments, but he never said a word. Apparently, he didn’t know much English, but he was acting like he understood. Perhaps he was simply good at reading expressions and the tone of her voice.
“Whereabouts are you from?” Ava queried, interested to learn more.
Harry stared back blankly, as if he had no clue how to answer her question.
Ava thought on her feet. She slipped her phone out of the back pocket of her tight-fitting jean shorts and searched for a picture of a baby. In another tab, she loaded the world map.
“Where…,” Ava showed the map to Harry, before switching tabs, “…were you born?”
Harry thought. His eyes drifted as if he were looking hard for the answer he wanted to give. He pointed outside the window.
“Here?” Ava guessed. She wasn’t getting any of the answers she was hoping for, “Not Sweden?”
A confident shake of Harry’s head followed. That only made Ava more befuddled.
“Can you show me?” Ava placed her hand gently on Harry’s. She wanted to do this independently, while Isaac and Arlen were whispering to each other. If they were going to keep secrets, they couldn’t be shocked at Ava doing the same.
Pulling the stiff front door open, Elenore was taken aback to see two reasonably young army grunts or guards on her doorstep. It wasn’t immediately clear who they worked for – there were no logos on their solid black combat gear.
“Hello ma’am, are you the owner of this property?” the guard on the left queried.
“May I say some identification please?” Elenore assertively queried. She had seen far too many drama shows where a murder would have been avoided by a simple ID check.
The left guard nodded to the right. Evidently, he was the one in charge. Elenore was taking mental notes on everything she saw in front of her, because it could come in useful, particularly if they weren’t who they said they were.
Both of them held up an identification card each in unison. Each card was labelled with the Riverhampton Security Precinct logo. Elenore knew the precinct – she drove past it on the way to work daily. She didn’t know much about it though; the precinct was quite the urban myth around town. One thing Elenore did know was that it was controlled by the council. She knew she could proceed.
“I am the owner, yes. How can I help you?” Elenore acted politely. She was doing her best to appear unphased, but she knew Harry was upstairs; the wonder-boy who appeared out of a crashed shooting star without a scratch or a scar on him. She couldn’t crack, but nevertheless, Elenore wanted every bit of information she could gather.
“It’s actually your sons we’d like to speak to, if you don’t mind,” the guard explained.
Elenore noted the plural in that sentence. Isaac couldn’t stop himself sometimes.
“Isaac!” she yelled upstairs, before turning her attention back to her visitors, “You’ll need to come in.” The smile on Elenore’s face was forced, but she knew she had to keep up the pretence that nothing was out of the ordinary. Besides, she was too far in now, and Isaac was in even deeper. He was always her top priority.
Keeping out of view at the top of the stairs, Isaac felt terrified. His mum had just called his name. He was sure the guards were there to ask about the shooting star, and specifically, Harry. He had to keep Harry away from them.
“You can’t hide away,” Arlen advised, looking Isaac directly in the eyes.
“I know,” Isaac averted his gaze, as he often did when talking, “But Harry…”
“He doesn’t need to know anything. Come on, we’ll both go down now,” Arlen encouraged gently. Isaac was pleased Arlen was able to think so clearly, because he knew he couldn’t do it himself.
Taking a large dose of oxygen to prepare and calm his anxious self, Isaac led the way down the stairs and into the living room. His mum was sat in her usual chair, though instead of her usual relaxed slouch, she was almost hanging off the edge. The guards were next to each other on the sofa, though Isaac could only see the backs of their heads from the doorway, owing to the layout of the room. The atmosphere in the room could be cut with a knife.
“Isaac, these men would like a quick chat, they say they saw you in the forest earlier,” Elenore explained.
“Yeah,” Isaac nodded, sitting himself on the pouffe next to his mum’s armchair.
“Is your brother here?” the first guard questioned.
“No, he’s out right now,” Isaac lied.
“Alright. This will have to do, for now,” the guard ominously said. Isaac’s mind wasn’t put to rest hearing those words, “How long were you in the forest for?”
“Not long,” Isaac replied truthfully, “Maybe ten or fifteen minutes?”
“Any reason for going out there?” the guard continued as his colleague remained silent.
“Hanging out, we always have,” Isaac continued. He wasn’t seeing the point of these basic questions. They were obviously avoiding the questions they really wanted answers for as they involved more specific information.
“Did you notice anything…unusual?” the guard continued his ambiguity.
“It looked like a fire had burnt down some of the trees,” Isaac mentioned. It would have appeared more suspicious if he didn’t mention the obvious.
“Anything else?” the guard probed further and further.
“Like what? If you need to know something specific, just say it, or I will be on the phone to your superiors within an instant,” Elenore intervened. Isaac was pleased she spoke up; having her and Arlen in the room with him was a comfort. That said, Arlen had mostly been on his phone. So much for the support.
Her phone buzzing furiously and incessantly, Ava stopped in her tracks. Her hand was in the doorway, ready for Harry to lead her outside. Now she had to check what all the fuss was about. She had three new texts, all from Arlen.
“Why is he texting me? We’re in the same house,” Ava muttered under her breath.
“Isaac?” Harry wondered. That was the first time Ava had heard him speak. His accent sounded American, interestingly. His tone was protective and worried.
“No, Arlen,” Ava mentioned, opening the texts up.
“No time to explain, but get Harry out.”
“Come quietly downstairs and go out the back door.”
Panic filled Ava’s mind. What was the emergency? Why did she need to get Harry out? Was he in danger?
“Okay, don’t get scared, but we need to get out of here, quickly and quietly,” Ava explained, before realising that Harry likely didn’t understand a word she said, “We need to go,” Ava reiterated, gesturing to the door, “Quickly,” she demonstrated a running movement, “And quietly,” she lowered her voice and raised her finger to her lips.
Harry nodded. Success; he had processed the instructions. He clasped Ava’s hand tightly. It was like a symbol of support, yet also a cry for help. Together, they crept out of Isaac’s room and towards the staircase. Ava braced herself. She knew how creaky Isaac’s staircase could be. She was having flashbacks to getting a drink when she slept over with Arlen once before; every stair made a noise and Elenore got woken up at three in the morning.
Once again, Ava held her finger to her lip, so Harry knew it was vital to stay totally quiet. He nodded again just as Ava lowered herself down once step. So far, so good.
Slowly and cautiously, Ava continued down the stairs. Harry hadn’t let go of her hand for even a second, which was a relief; she always knew he was never more than a couple of steps behind.
“I’m sorry Isaac, I’m just trying to paint a picture of everything you saw,” Ava heard a male voice coming from the living room.
Ava paused. That noise could definitely be heard around the house. The voices stopped.
“Who was that?” the same voice questioned.
“Nobody, just the old house settling,” Arlen covered for them.
Ava’s heart was beating like crazy. Whatever this was, it sounded very serious.
Harry stepped on that same stair.
The voices in the living room stopped once again. Ava knew it was harder and harder to cover their tracks with each creak.
Well aware of the loud noises his staircase made, Isaac knew the creaking sounds were not a result of the house settling. The guards could tell, too, because two identical sounds came within seconds of each other, and the staircase was on the other side of the far living room wall.
Isaac had also spotted Arlen with his phone, as if he were anxiously waiting for a reply. Isaac put two and two together. Arlen was trying to get Harry out, but Harry was now in danger, possibly with Ava too. He had to keep talking.
“Trees looked like they had been chopped down,” Isaac recalled the vision of the forest post-shooting star, “Something had been there overnight because it wasn’t like that yesterday.”
“Did you hear anything last night?” the guard queried. Just as he spoke, Isaac spotted Ava and Harry reaching the ground floor and turning to head out the back. The hardest part was over, now Isaac could wrap it up.
“No, I’m sorry, we stayed in last night,” Isaac lied as best as he could, trying his hardest to keep eye contact.
“Okay, thank you for your time Isaac and Ms. Avery,” the guard stood up, his colleague following suit.
“I’ll show you out,” Elenore led them to the front door.
“Come on,” Arlen gestured for Isaac to follow him. They had to find Harry and Ava. Isaac jogged behind Arlen as they headed through the hallway, kitchen and then to the back door.
Much to Isaac’s delight, they hadn’t gone far and were just hidden out of sight next to the door. He pulled in Harry tightly for a hug.
“They’re gone, you’re safe,” Isaac smiled, hoping Harry would see his positive body language. Sure enough, Harry replied with a smile back.
“Thank you,” Isaac turned to Ava, appreciative that she managed to take care of Harry.
“Of course,” she half-smiled back, “But can someone please explain what the hell is going on?”
Arlen looked at Isaac blankly. Isaac wasn’t sure what to say. Ava was in too deep now.
3: Security Written by MarthaJonesFan
“Isaac,” a timid, nervous voice jolted Isaac awake. He had been fast asleep for… he wasn’t sure how long exactly, but from the lack of light penetrating the curtains, it wasn’t time to wake up yet.
Opening his eyes and struggling to focus on what was directly in front of him, Isaac tried to make out the silhouette in front of him. He could see the now-familiar mop of jet-black hair dangling down, a sight he had seen for the past three nights on the trot.
“Outside,” Harry’s cutely bossy voice said. Isaac knew what he wanted to do. The forest outside was empty at night – no guards were searching or watching, and it would have raised too much suspicion for them to cordon it off, meaning it was free game for them.
Isaac spun round to look at the clock on his bedside table. The bright red light glared 03:00 at him. It was the exact same precise time every single night.
Late night adventures aside, the past three days had been mostly smooth. Harry had settled in well at school and he was picking up new words really easily. Arlen had been a massive help, though they had both been avoiding Ava. Isaac wasn’t sure what to say to her, so he was choosing not to say anything at all for now, even if he knew it was a bad idea to keep putting it off.
Harry threw Isaac his dressing gown and picked up the pair of slippers he kept at the bottom of his wardrobe. Begrudgingly, Isaac sat up and slipped on the dressing gown over his short-sleeved pyjama top. Harry had noticed the routine quite quickly from previous nights, so was one step ahead of Isaac now. Besides, winter was approaching, and it was getting chilly outside, so he needed to keep warm.
Excitedly, Harry held Isaac’s hand as he pulled him out of the house and into the very familiar forest area where they first met. Isaac watched on as Harry basically picked up where he left off the night before. He rummaged through the chunks of destroyed tree chips, piles of leaves and mud that littered the carpet of the forest.
Isaac didn’t want Harry to lose hope, but they hadn’t found a single scrap of whatever he was looking for yet. Surely after a total that now stood at four nights, something would have shown up. That said, Isaac didn’t have the heart to burst Harry’s bubble.
“Isaac,” Harry called. He sounded excited, more than he usually did. Like a child receiving the Christmas present they desperately wanted.
Intrigued, Isaac approached. He’d found precisely nothing so far, so even the tiniest discovery could help piece various parts of the jigsaw together. Harry held up a tiny piece of what looked like a translucent brown plastic.
“What is that?” Isaac wondered in bewilderment.
Harry paused, not sure which words to use. Isaac had to help him out.
“Is it part of some sort of pod?” Isaac thought. Harry, wherever he came from, had to have arrived in something.
Harry nodded. Lucky guess.
“Come on, we can look at it more in the morning, let’s go to bed,” Isaac smiled, leading Harry inside. Maybe his questions were finally about to be answered?
One more day until the weekend. That was what Ava kept telling herself, anyway. Two whole days away from school, meaning she didn’t have to see her two so-called best friends ignoring her.
Ava wasn’t stupid – she knew why. They were hiding something; something to do with Harry, and Ava was determined to find out what.
Despite that, though, Ava couldn’t help feeling gutted. Arlen and Isaac were meant to be her friends. All three of them had been tight as anything for so many years. Being excluded from the Harry situation was pretty disappointing.
“Mind if I sit here?” came the cutely soft British tones of a young lad. Ava was sitting on the steps outside the school building, not really paying attention to her surroundings.
Looking up, Ava saw Newton Sheppard, from her chemistry class. She hadn’t spoken to him much – he often preferred to hang out with the “popular crowd,” but she had spent many a chemistry lesson admiring him from afar.
“Not at all,” Ava smiled politely, fixing her hair quickly. As Newton sat down, he fixed his hair too. It was pretty long – cascading just past his shoulders – and suited his slightly tanned skin and gorgeous maroon eyes.
“You look like you need a friend,” he mused.
“I’ve got a couple of vacancies,” Ava replied nervously, keeping the tone light.
“Not sure I can fill both but I guess I can try,” Newton chuckled. He seemed easy to be around, which was exactly what Ava needed – a positive distraction.
“Where are your other friends? You three never seem to be apart,” Newton observed.
“Long story,” Ava deflected. The whole story was too complicated for her to know where to begin. Not to mention how few details she was actually aware of.
“I’m not in a hurry, class doesn’t start for twenty minutes,” Newton persisted, not intrusively, but out of what seemed like genuine concern with a dash of intrigue.
Ava was trying to find the right way to explain what was a ridiculously messy situation to an outsider, but it wasn’t bringing much up.
“It’s the new kid, isn’t it?” Newton guessed.
“He’s lovely,” Ava basically confirmed his thoughts, thinking back to her chat with Harry. He trusted her. He wanted to show her something, out in the forest, but they never got the chance to go, “But stuff doesn’t add up, and it started when he arrived.”
“Why don’t you just ask them what’s going on?” Newton wondered, as if he were a guidance counsellor.
“You think I’ve not tried that?” Ava laughed; she knew if she didn’t laugh, she’d likely have cried.
“Well, have you got any better ideas? There’s no use wallowing here,” Newton reasoned.
“There is something,” Ava pondered, “Come on, let’s go.”
“Class starts in fifteen,” Newton reminded.
“Shame we both happen to be at the dentist at the same time,” Ava chuckled, standing up and holding her hand out to Newton, inviting him along.
Newton gazed back at it, as if he were considering whether this was a good idea or not. Ultimately, he grabbed Ava’s hand and flashed a cheeky, excitable smile.
Perhaps he was the only friend she needed after all.
Another tedious English lesson began. Isaac was already bored by just reading the lesson title – “Romeo and Juliet.” The story was a classic, but Isaac didn’t believe in soppy love stories like that. Mainly because he hadn’t even caught a whiff of one for himself yet.
Harry smiled over from the desk to his left. His cute face radiated in the intrusive sunlight beaming through the windows.
Perhaps Isaac wanted something a little less traditional.
“Have you seen Ava?” Arlen whispered indiscreetly from behind.
“Not since yesterday,” Isaac responded. Her desk, completing the four corners of a square behind Harry and on Arlen’s left, was unusually empty.
“Maybe she’s sick,” Arlen considered.
“Ava’s not had a sick day before. Ever,” Isaac mentioned. He’d had more than he could count, but Ava was always asking after him. The only days off she’d had were for funerals or unavoidable appointments, and even then, she would catch up on what she missed.
“I’ll text her,” Arlen cautiously positioned his phone under the table. Mr. Woods was notably strict when it came to phones out in class; he always confiscated them.
“Mr. Edison,” Mr. Woods spotted. He must have some Spidey-sense.
Arlen sighed a heavy sigh. He had never been caught out before. In fact, he was usually the ninja when it came to texting in class.
“I’ll look after that for today,” Mr. Woods smiled smugly as Arlen reluctantly handed his phone over, “You can retrieve it in detention tonight.”
Frustrated, Arlen’s head collapsed onto the desk. Isaac felt partially sorry for him, but it was a little funny, and he couldn’t deny it.
In the corner of his eye, Isaac noticed something highly concerning. Exactly the type of thing he thought he was safe from. Two guards from the security precinct. The same two guards from his front door. They were outside the window, approaching the front entrance. Immediately, Isaac’s protective instinct for Harry took over.
He had to keep him safe.
Though she had little idea what she was looking for, Ava was keen to find something, or anything, that would identify exactly why Harry pointed outside. He wasn’t the type to joke around; Ava wasn’t even sure he knew how to joke. There must have been a clue somewhere.
“Why are we here? I thought we were going somewhere, you know, fun,” Newton remarked.
“Get looking,” Ava ordered, ignoring the obvious connotations.
“Looking for what?” Newton queried, his face painting the perfect picture of genuine perplexity.
“I don’t know yet, just anything that’s out of the ordinary,” Ava explained.
“These trees don’t look ordinary,” Newton observed, “They’ve not been chopped down, they’ve been well and truly destroyed.” Ava examined the various chunks of tree scattered all around her. They were inconsistently shaped and sized, and cut very sloppily. No human would have done this. Then Ava remembered: the article she read.
“There was a fire in the forest the other night. I read it online. There were rumours a shooting star landed in the forest, but nobody commented to confirm or deny it,” Ava recalled, delving deep into her memories.
“You must have been really bored,” Newton jested.
“It was the night before we first met Harry,” Ava had a terrifying realisation.
“What does Harry have to do with a shooting star?” Newton was clearly getting more and more confused. There were so many details to keep up with.
“He pointed out here when I asked him where he was born,” Ava explained.
“Born? Yikes, that must have been one hell of a labour,” Newton joked. Ava opted to ignore him, focusing instead on piecing the jigsaw together.
“He knows no English, barely seems to understand basic concepts before they are explained to him,” Ava processed, thinking aloud while Newton continued browsing the ground, “And he arrives conveniently the day after a shooting star crashes next to Isaac’s house.”
Newton was hardly listening, but Ava didn’t care. She had to try and visualise the timeline of events for it to make sense to her, just like the detective she one day aspired to be.
“Maybe he’s an alien?” Ava theorised. She knew she sounded crazy, but it was the only logical answer she had so far.
“Do aliens wear rings?” Newton randomly questioned. Intrigued, Ava jogged over to him. Sure enough, he had found a ring. It was a pretty expensive-looking piece of jewellery. The material looked like real gold, decorated with diamonds all around the circumference. Unusually, it was slightly oversized for a typical finger, with sharp spikes facing a few millimetres inwards.
“This looks like some sort of torture,” Ava observed, seeing a latch stopping the spikes sinking further.
“Who the fuck would wear a ring like that?” a disgusted Newton wondered, before trying to get a laugh from it, “A masochistic alien.”
“Remain still,” a voice commanded loudly from behind Ava. A tingling sensation of fear trickled fiercely through her body. Cautiously, she spun around to where the voice was coming from.
Blocking the way between the edge of the forest and Isaac’s house were three of the guards she had seen interrogating Isaac just days before. All three had guns pointed at her and Newton, much to Ava’s absolute horror.
Her theories were right – something more was going on.
Moving anxiously through school to find a safe space, Isaac wasn’t having much luck. The corridors of school were filled with guards, as if every exit had been blocked.
As he pushed backwards and forward through the crowded corridors, Isaac made sure never to lose his grip on Harry’s hand. They needed to stay together, and if Harry got separated, he wouldn’t be able to fend for himself.
“What are they doing here?” Arlen queried, bringing up the rear.
“I don’t know, but it can’t be good. We can’t let them find Harry,” Isaac responded, determined to keep him out of view.
Harry himself had a variety of expressions displaying on the blank canvas that was his face. Fear, worry and confusion seemed to prevail through his eyes. Isaac sympathised, as he felt exactly the same.
Another exit blocked. The security precinct guards really had covered the building. Something serious must have gone down.
“Attention all students,” the voice of Principal Stewart sounded through the loudspeaker. Isaac stopped in his tracks; any information could be vital, “Please make your way to class for an important announcement.”
How irritatingly vague. There was nothing Isaac hated more than ambiguity.
“Scared,” Harry muttered. Isaac could hear the fear translate across his delicate, quivering voice. Isaac’s protective instinct had never been higher.
“Find somewhere to hide. I’ll cover for you,” Arlen offered.
“Thanks,” Isaac smiled. That lifted his load slightly. At least the teachers wouldn’t be desperately worrying where they were.
The corridors were beginning to empty as students filtered into class. The smell of canteen food lingered while crisp packets left by idiotic kids who couldn’t use trash cans littered the floors. Before it got truly empty, Isaac knew he had to make a move. He needed to make it as difficult to be followed as possible.
“Come on, up here,” he encouraged Harry, heading to the adjacent staircase.
Isaac had no idea where he was heading, but he knew wherever it was, it was going to be the safest place he could get.
It had to be, for Harry’s sake.
Complete darkness. That was all Ava could see around her. She had been blindfolded, which made her feel more uneasy than anything. Her greatest sense had been blocked, meaning she had next to no understanding of what was happening. Of course, she had tried to struggle, but she stood no chance against the hunky, burly guards.
In the absence of sight, Ava had paid extra attention to the rest of her senses. After all, it was important to remain calm, and every clue was vital.
Ava had definitely been moved, on two separate occasions – to and from a vehicle. She couldn’t ignore the loud rumbling of the road, and the fierceness of the vehicle’s engine. Now she had no idea where she was. The smell was fresh and clean, like a brand-new office block. There was even the distinct aroma of coffee sprinkled around. It felt oddly glamorous considering they had just been kidnapped.
Throughout the ordeal, Ava was certain she still had Newton by her side. Their mouths weren’t gagged or taped, so they could still communicate – it wasn’t like they could yell for help from the inside of a moving vehicle anyway.
“Ava, are you still there?” Newton called out. It sounded like he was talking right into her ear. He can’t have been far away.
“Yeah, it’s okay, I’m here,” Ava spoke softly. She needed to keep him calm, even if she was panicking on the inside.
Ava’s blindfold was harshly yanked off. Her eyes adapted to the comparatively unforgiving lights. Sure enough, just as she thought, they were in an office room. However, despite its vast space, there was one sole desk – the one Ava was sat on one side of. Newton was to her left, and on the other side of the table was a woman in a smart, stylish suit.
“Where the hell are we?” Newton questioned, frantically looking around.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Please, have a drink,” the lady politely smiled, gesturing to the two paper cups of water on the table. She was in her late thirties, perhaps early forties. Her gorgeous long, dark curls were tied back into a perfect bun, and her light grey suit complemented her immaculate make-up.
“Where is this place?” Ava reiterated Newton’s question, ignoring the cup of water. Her heart was beating like crazy; it felt like it was about to burrow out of her chest.
“Somewhere safe,” the lady replied, “Providing you co-operate.” Ava felt a chill run down her spine at the end of that sentence. She knew she had to watch her mouth.
Ava took a gulp of the water. She needed all the strength she could get.
Slipping into last period just a few seconds late, Arlen knew he had a couple of tasks to complete. Not only did he need to provide an alibi for Isaac and Harry’s absence, but he was their eyes and ears. He was ready to relay every piece of information he could collect and send it straight to Isaac’s phone.
Arlen had forgotten.
His phone had been confiscated. He had no way of getting in touch.
Arlen’s mind was thinking at lightning speed. He looked rapidly around the classroom. Who could be trust?
“Hey, Alesha,” Arlen turned to his immediate right. He faced the gorgeous Alesha Hartley, the most beautiful girl in the year group. Her glistening hazel eyes twinkled as her auburn waves bounced on her shoulders. The sunlight from the windows behind him made her tanned skin become radiant. Arlen had been smitten for years, though he had barely said a word.
“Oh, hi,” Alesha awkwardly smiled back. Their only real encounter in the past had been in junior high, when a couple of idiots were picking on Arlen. Alesha was the only one to stand up for him. Ever since then, he knew he could trust her, even If she was very much part of the popular crowd.
“Can I borrow your phone please? I need to text my mom,” Arlen pretended.
“Err, sure,” Alesha seemed confused, but she handed the phone over. Evidently, she trusted him too.
Quickly, Arlen signed Alesha out of her Facebook account and into his own.
“Alright class, listen up,” Miss Savill addressed. Arlen kept the phone under the desk, as he often did, keeping it out of her view.
He was ready for operation ‘Get Harry Out.’
Isaac’s heart had never pumped so fast. He was absolutely terrified for the first time in his life. The stakes felt high, even though his knowledge of the situation was still lacking. One thing he was sure of was that it linked back to Harry – the security precinct guards weren’t hovering around the forest and asking about the shooting star out of pure coincidence.
Isaac and Harry were surrounded by pens, pencils and paper. They were hiding in the supply cupboard on the top floor, which was barely used even during a typical school day.
The worry had never been more vivid on Harry’s face. He was very expressive, which helped Isaac to understand his feelings when he couldn’t verbalise them. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a sight he enjoyed seeing.
“We’ll be okay, you got me,” Isaac reassured.
“Scared,” Harry timidly replied. Harry knew just as much as Isaac, and he hadn’t signed up for any of it. He was surely the victim of whatever was going on.
“I know, but it’s okay, we’re a team, aren’t we?” Isaac smiled, trying to keep himself composed. If he panicked, he knew Harry would too.
“Team,” Harry repeated, nodding. A tear slid down his cheek. Isaac had never seen him cry before; it broke his heart to see Harry so sad. He wiped it away for him, though Isaac felt teary himself too. It took a lot to make him cry – usually it was quite easy to disassociate himself, but that wasn’t possible in such an unusual and intense scenario.
They were huddled together closely, sat on the floor, as if they had to preserve heat. Harry rested his head on Isaac’s shoulder. It felt oddly intimate, considering they were supposed to be hiding, but Isaac could have stayed there forever. He was always at ease with Harry, even if his arrival had brought so much drama. His stomach felt different, some sort of sensation that he hadn’t experienced before. It felt pretty good.
“Nothing from Arlen yet,” Isaac sighed. They were going to be there for a long time yet.
Catching Isaac off guard, Harry leaned in and pressed his lips against his own; kissing him. Isaac felt butterflies gathering in his stomach. He dropped his phone to the floor as his hands locked with Harry’s. It was like time stood still for a moment, and all of their worries could go away.
Harry pulled away and smiled awkwardly. Isaac didn’t know what to say or how to feel. How did Harry even know how to kiss? Did he understand what it meant?
That said, Isaac couldn’t deny the basic fact of the kiss.
He absolutely loved it.
4: Liberation Written by MarthaJonesFan
First day of high school. Isaac had never been more nervous for anything. Junior high didn’t feel quite as daunting when he started there, perhaps because Isaac was less self-conscious when he was younger; his biggest priority was getting the toys he wanted.
Now he was a teenager. Fifteen years old, and very self-aware. Junior high was not always easy, but at least it had become familiar. Now Isaac had to adapt to a bunch of new surroundings, and worst of all, new people.
“Isaac!” he heard a familiar voice call as he entered through the gates of Riverhampton High. It was the friendly tones of Arlen, who jogged over alongside Ava. Thank god for some familiarity.
“You look terrified,” Ava smiled. She wasn’t wrong – Isaac had barely eaten because he was so sick with nerves.
In the corner of his eye, Isaac spotted something he wasn’t used to seeing quite so openly at school. A boy and a girl, undoubtedly a couple of years older than him, snogging each other’s faces off.
Often, Isaac found cute kisses to be heart-warming, but this was borderline grotesque. The sort of snogging that involved a round of tonsil tennis and only needed to happen behind closed doors.
“Where’s the dignity?” Ava rolled her eyes, obviously picking up on it too. It wasn’t exactly subtle or out-of-view.
Isaac couldn’t take it off his mind. He could never picture himself kissing someone like that so publicly, especially when it was two popular kids who seemed to care more about status than love. To each their own, Isaac guessed.
All he knew was that he would be waiting for the right person to share his first kiss with.
Isaac wasn’t quite sure how to process his feelings, and it was quite the cocktail. Confusion, worry, but it was mostly elation and he couldn’t conceal it. Harry was Isaac’s first kiss, and although the situation wasn’t quite as perfect as he dreamed, everything else was pretty darn flawless.
Sitting coyly next to him, Harry seemed to feel just as content. It felt so right, even if Isaac had a few questions to ask before he jumped to conclusions.
“Like,” Harry said, confirming his happiness.
“I liked it too,” Isaac smiled back, “How did you know what that was?”
“Miranda. Gary,” Harry answered. Suddenly, it all made sense. They had watched most of Miranda on Netflix now, and obviously Harry had learnt by watching Miranda’s love story with Gary unfold. It wasn’t far off the love story Isaac always wanted, either. Two people who were made for each other.
“Do you understand why people kiss?” Isaac questioned. He wasn’t sure Harry had any concept of love just yet.
“Like,” Harry replied naïvely.
“Love,” Isaac corrected, “Love is when you really like someone. Miranda loved Gary, and only Gary. Nobody else,” Isaac explained as clearly and concisely as he could, though words weren’t his strong point.
“Love,” Harry processed, “Love Isaac.” The accompanying smile was somehow both confident and shy at the same time. He knew what he was saying, and he meant it. Harry might not have known how to describe his feelings, but they were definitely genuine.
“I…,” Isaac went to reply, just as his phone buzzed, interrupting the moment unforgivingly. Annoyingly, Isaac knew it wasn’t something he could put off, either.
“They’re instating a curfew of seven o’clock after the recent forest fires, which they think were deliberate,” Isaac paraphrased Arlen’s series of excitable yet anxious Facebook messages, “That’s not even a good excuse,” he reacted.
“Fire,” Harry repeated what Isaac guessed was the only word he understood. Isaac really wished he had a better way to communicate, it was still the only real barrier between them, even if Harry had learnt so much in such a short period of time.
“We need to get home,” Isaac broke it down, before showing his trusty blue wristwatch, “by seven,” and he held seven fingers up.
Harry nodded. Success. Now they just had to wait for the all-clear.
The glare of the suited woman made Ava feel extremely uncomfortable. Though the office they were in felt pretty cosy and relaxed with the calming aroma of coffee gracefully filling Ava’s nose, the woman in front of her gave off an ice-cold vibe.
Though Ava was keeping a calm and collected exterior, Newton seemed to be struggling. He was visibly shaking and so far out of his comfort zone.
“What do you want to know?” Ava assertively wondered.
“Why don’t we start with why you were in the forest?” the lady smiled passive-aggressively.
“Our friend lives on the edge of the forest,” Ava sneered back. She could give it back just as easily.
“That would be Isaac Avery, who lives with his adopted mother Elenore,” the lady worryingly mentioned, “And his brother, who we have absolutely no record of.”
“Harry is Isaac’s brother?” Newton whispered in Ava’s ear, shocked.
“Something not ringing true, Miss Reilly?” the lady noted.
“Who the hell are you? Why are you stalking us? You can’t hold us here,” Ava argued. Now she wasn’t just defending herself, she was defending Isaac. Despite everything, he was still her best friend.
“All you have to do is start talking, Miss Reilly,” the woman bargained, “You’re not in trouble. All we need is the truth.”
“Just tell her,” Newton whispered. He was desperate to get out.
Fortunately, Ava was happy to sit pretty a little longer. She wasn’t selling her friends out, Harry included.
“I told you all I know,” Ava remained firm. Stubbornness was her key asset.
The lady sighed, “Take them in.” She clicked her fingers in the direction of the door and two muscly, scary-looking guards entered.
Newton looked horrified, but Ava felt safe. Whoever these people were, they needed her co-operation, so as long as Ava had more to give, her safety was guaranteed.
The all-clear had been given by Arlen and the school day had finished; Isaac was ready to go home.
The entire day had been a gigantic learning curve, just to tell him that nowhere was safe. However, he knew he could always find a way to protect Harry. Nobody else made him feel as warm and cosy inside as Harry did, and that was a feeling he would defend for as long as he could.
What felt so incredible about Harry was how he carried no judgements with him. Harry had no concept of how autism affected people, and to know Harry cared for him so much regardless was the most awesome feeling.
Isaac led the way to the main exit where he noticed Arlen waiting eagerly for them both. It was a comforting sight after the entire ordeal they had just experienced.
“Everything okay?” Arlen questioned.
“We can’t keep doing this. They’re not going to go away,” Isaac realised. He was exhausted, emotionally and physically. This could realistically go on for a long time.
“What can we do? If we don’t keep Harry hidden, they’ll take him. Experiment on him, or something,” Arlen guessed. Ultimately, none of them knew what they’d get from Harry, but it surely wasn’t going to be good.
“We need Ava,” Isaac concluded. She had the most logical brain out of everyone – surely she could think of something to unstick them.
“Can’t you call her?” Arlen queried.
“What happened to your phone? Didn’t you get it back?” Isaac queried. He avoided phone calls at all costs – his social anxiety went through the roof.
“School closed early, no time for detention, he’s kept it over the weekend,” Arlen groaned.
“Call on mine,” Isaac chucked his phone to Arlen, who caught it expertly. Arlen was used to making phone calls on Isaac’s behalf, so he called Ava’s number without further question.
“No answer,” he reported back, before tapping further on Isaac’s phone. His facial expression dropped to one of shock and concern, “You’d never believe where her phone is.”
Isaac took the phone back to see his Snapchat maps open. Terrifyingly, Ava’s Bitmoji was situated in the middle of Riverhampton Security Precinct.
“How can we get to her?” Isaac immediately asked.
“We can’t bring Harry,” Arlen immediately said, to which Isaac agreed. It was far too dangerous.
“Bad,” Harry uttered, showing his rough understanding of the situation.
“My mom,” Isaac realised, “She said she knows where it is. Her boss works with their staff, some sort of mutual agreement.”
Involving his mum any further was a last resort for Isaac, but he needed to help Ava, no doubt about it.
Feeling disgusted, Newton was pretty sure the cell he and Ava had been thrown in was worse than the typical jail cell he’d seen on television. It wasn’t like either of them had committed a crime, yet they were being treated worse than murderers.
The paint on the walls had mostly been scratched off; there was a tiny window which served as the only light source, and even then, it was behind bars; and the toilet was metal, and absolutely freezing.
At least they hadn’t been split up. Ava was still there with him, and she seemed to have a plan of some sort.
“Why aren’t you telling them everything?” Newton wondered, probing for some answers, “Is there stuff you’re not telling me?”
“No,” Ava quickly responded. She sounded frustrated, and with good reason too considering their situation, “It’s complicated, and they’re obviously listening to us.”
“Is that such a bad thing?” Newton pleased, “I want to go home. I’m hungry, tired and I need a shower. You don’t want to see me hangry.”
“Don’t you get it? It’s not all about you, it’s about a boy who’s caught up in something he doesn’t understand. He’s the victim,” Ava explained.
“You’ve changed your tune. Earlier he was the biggest problem in your life,” Newton was struggling to keep up.
“Being kidnapped kinda changes your perspective,” Ava reasoned. She had a point – they weren’t exactly in a normal, rational scenario. He gave up the argument, letting a few moments of awkward silence pass.
“My mom is going to be wondering where I am,” Newton sighed, changing the topic. He was reflecting on what he would likely have been doing at home on a regular day. It was almost four o’clock, so he would almost certainly be on his first video game of the evening. Oh, how he wished he could be playing Fortnite with Charlie, Jayden and anybody else they’d find online.
“They will find us. Someone will,” Ava reasoned. She sounded pretty sure of herself, much to Newton’s bafflement.
“You mean Isaac? How is he going to get in here?” Newton doubted. He only knew Isaac from being the shy kid at school, they hadn’t ever really spoken.
“Just you wait,” Ava nodded, convincing herself just as much as Newton. He wasn’t sure anybody would be coming to get them, but he had to keep positive. It was the only thing going for him.
Isaac’s mum worked in a building just down the road from the security precinct, and boy, it was taking Isaac a lot of restraint not to storm in immediately to break Ava out. He had to be calculated, because whoever was in charge of this operation was certainly no amateur.
The strongest memories Isaac had of the doctor’s office came from his sick days during primary school. His mum couldn’t afford to miss work, so she took him along to sit with plenty of toys, books, games and plenty of imagination to keep himself occupied for a day of work. They made up some of his favourite childhood memories.
“Hey Isaac, are you looking for your mom? She’s free at the moment,” Mrs. Richards explained. She was in her eighties and had been manning the reception desk of the surgery as long as Isaac could remember.
“Thank you, Mrs. Richards,” Isaac smiled politely. He approached the door labelled “Elenore Avery N.P.” and knocked twice.
“Come in,” Elenore greeted. Isaac poked his head around the door, “Oh hey sweetie, what do you want?”
“What makes you think I want something?” Isaac felt caught out. It wasn’t like she was wrong, but it made him feel guilty.
“You only ever visit me if you want something,” Elenore smiled with her tongue placed firmly in her cheek. His mum’s sarcasm was a rare breed – he actually understood it.
“Okay, we need a massive favour,” Isaac said as he took the patient’s chair next to her desk, while Harry and Arlen hovered by his side.
“Why do I get the feeling this is more than borrowing ten dollars?” Elenore sighed.
“Ava’s gone missing, we think she’s inside the security precinct,” Isaac explained.
“Wait, I know exactly where you’re going with this and it’s a huge no,” Elenore immediately decided.
“Mom, you can get in, we have to help her,” Isaac begged.
“I have no connection to that place, it’s Dr Asahd who deals with them, not me, “Elenore reasoned.
“And you’re the nurse practitioner at her office,” Arlen interjected, “Her second-in-command, if you like.”
Isaac watched as Elenore looked to be deep in thought. She was actually, begrudgingly, considering the plan. Isaac desperately needed her to be on board, for Ava’s sake.
Packed with nerves, Elenore was amazed that she had let Isaac talk her into this. Sure, Dr Asahd had a good business relationship with the precinct, but Elenore had also heard the rumours and mysteries. Nobody had ever been inside the compound to see it themselves. Some whispers, if anybody googled hard enough, have even suggested they are keeping aliens in there. Not that she believed that for a second.
Elenore bottled those fears up and buried them deep down. She had a job to do; a very important one too. Ava was at risk. Elenore had seen Ava grow up into a fine young woman, and she couldn’t help feeling responsible for her predicament. Perhaps if she had spoken to the police sooner, Harry would have been safely returned to wherever he came from and this entire mess would have been averted.
The front gate of the precinct was extremely tall – just as tall as the building inside. The tall mounds of barbed wire looked terrifying, as if they were looking down on Elenore. Her heart was pumping faster than ever as she pressed the button on the keypad next to the gate entrance. She was rehearsing what she needed to say over and over in her head.
“State your name and intention,” a voice spoke through the attached speaker. It was a cold voice, with absolutely no emotion seeping through.
“Elenore Avery, nurse practitioner for Dr Asahd,” Elenore spoke as confidently as she could.
A moment of silence passed.
The gate buzzed. The door opened a few centimetres. Elenore entered with caution and proceeded to the building itself, just a few metres in front.
As she walked, Elenore sent Isaac a text: “I’m in.” She didn’t want to look too suspicious, so she promised Isaac that updates would be kept to the minimum and that he should focus on his homework to get it over and done with. He, Arlen and especially Harry were safer at home.
“Welcome Ms. Avery,” a guard greeted at the main door, “I wasn’t sure if anyone had been called yet, but I’m pleased you’re here. Where is Dr Asahd?”
“Busy on a callout, she asked me to cover, I assume that’s not a problem,” Elenore kept up the professional, polite chit-chat.
“Not at all,” the guard smiled as he escorted her inside the building. It was dimly lit inside, just like a warehouse, and equally vast in size too. Staircases and standalone rooms filled the vast, rectangular space, with not a window in sight. The place had a strong buzz of efficiency, with numerous guards walking back and forth as if they had places to be.
She passed a series of rooms as the guard escorted her through the compound. Every door she passed was shut, giving her no further indication about what was going on inside this place.
The trail continued for a couple more minutes, down an ominous staircase. They were headed into what terrifyingly looked like a series of jail cells.
Elenore felt increasingly uneasy. She needed to find Ava and get out as soon as possible.
Losing her gauge on time, Ava had no idea how long she and Newton had been locked up for by now. She was still certain that Isaac and Arlen would be onto her, even if she wanted to kill them for leaving her in the dark.
“I need to pee,” Newton groaned, staring at the freezing cold metal object vaguely resembling a toilet.
“I’ll turn away,” Ava sighed. The entire situation was far from ideal. They didn’t even give them separate private toilets. That said, she was definitely pleased she still had Newton by her side.
The lock rattled. The door swung open. Immediately, Ava felt terrified, and totally unsure of what was coming next. Much to Ava’s shock, a guard chauffeured Elenore into the room.
“Time for your medical,” the guard announced, leaving Elenore to it.
“Come on,” Elenore immediately said as soon as the coast was clear, “Both of you. We need to go now before anyone gets suspicious.”
This was music to Ava’s ears. She knew Isaac would have noticed her absence.
“I need to pee,” Newton restated impatiently.
“Do you want to get out or not?” Ava reminded him of the situation at hand. Newton sighed, knowing she was right. His bladder could definitely wait.
Checking the coast was clear, Elenore led the way out of the cell. Her plan seemed to involve them sneaking their way out – a risky idea. Ava felt terrified. So much could go wrong.
“Hey, there’s a fire exit here,” Newton wandered the opposite way, pressing the metal bar to open it.
“No!” Ava called out, knowing it would be bugged. It was too late, though. The door didn’t open, and an alarm had been set off. It rang loudly and intrusively, and the dim lights turned red.
“Back in,” Ava ordered, taking control of the situation.
“In there? No way,” Newton resisted.
“They’re all coming down here now, that is our only hiding place,” Ava reasoned.
“She’s right,” Elenore agreed. Ava led the way into the cell as Newton dithered. He was confused and cornered. Ava nodded – she needed to prove she was sure of what she was doing.
Newton finally rushed inside and Ava pulled the door to, carefully not letting it shut and lock entirely. Sure enough, guards filtered down to inspect the fire exit, passing the cell without question.
“Now,” Ava ordered, knowing this was their chance to escape with as few guards by the front door as possible. She slowly opened the door and slid out silently. Safe in the knowledge Elenore and Newton were following, Ava crept behind the soldiers as quickly and quietly as possible. They were out of the guards’ view, but not for long. Ava continued up the staircase and safely up to the empty main level.
“This way,” Elenore sped ahead. She had seen the way to go, so Ava trusted her. As they rapidly walked, Ava kept an eye out for any guards who might see them.
They passed an open door leading into one of the side rooms. Ava couldn’t help looking in as she passed. She noticed it was a surprisingly well-lit room, with white walls and flooring. It looked like a hospital room, with a bed in the middle, and what looked like a patient on top. Ava couldn’t help being nosey.
“Ava,” Newton hissed, still impatient to escape. Ava was too intrigued to not investigate further, though. She continued into the room, looking at the patient on the bed. It didn’t take long for Ava to notice how they were distinctly not human. Their skin was a gentle shade of blue, though the body was still very much humanoid. She saw only three fingers on each hand, with nothing to cover its naked body beyond some basic white underwear. Moving closer, she saw its face. It looked very similar to a human’s, though without a single spot or blemish tainting their flawless skin. It had long, dark hair flowing down towards its waist. Wires were plugged into its body, ruining the otherwise peaceful sight.
It looked so real.
“What is that?” Newton queried, as he and Elenore followed her inside, staring in shock.
Ava wasn’t sure what to think. Her logical brain told her it was a costume, but she knew it can’t have been. It had to be real.
“It’s an alien,” Ava identified.
5: Alien Written by MarthaJonesFan
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.
6: Talk Written by MarthaJonesFan
Isaac wasn’t sure how to look Harry in the eye. His brain was struggling to formulate any words.
Harry had spoken a full sentence. Until now, he had used one, or maybe two words at a time. There was no way he could jump ahead to full sentences and fluency that quickly.
It wasn’t like normality had been a feature of Isaac’s life since Harry’s arrival, but he was beginning to adapt to his new normal. He had a new routine, with a new special person, and now it was all change again.
“What?” Isaac stuttered, breaking the silence.
“Thanks,” Harry smiled his typical cute smile, “You found the ring.”
“You’re talking. Fluent English. How?” Isaac questioned. Harry shrugged. He still seemed to be just as in the dark as before.
“Do you remember anything?” Isaac wondered. Perhaps the ring had triggered a memory or two? It wasn’t impossible if it had helped him to speak.
“I remember crashing,” Harry answered, “Then I saw you and your mom.”
“What do you remember about the ring?” Ava interjected.
“I don’t know, Harry looked to be in despair, “I just knew I needed it. I’m sorry, I can’t remember much.” He sat back down on the bed, defeated. Isaac sat next to him.
“It’s okay. We’re all here for you,” Isaac consoled, “And we will get to the bottom of this.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry apologised again, “I feel like I’ve made things worse.”
Isaac still felt protective. He was still the same ball of nerves, worry and confusion as before. Isaac gently rubbed his thigh, as he always did. He had to prove to Harry that he was always by his side.
There were so many questions being thrown at him, and Harry desperately wished he could answer them all. However, he just couldn’t. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t delve back any further than his first meeting with Isaac.
On one hand, that didn’t bother him too much. After all, nobody mattered more to him than Isaac, and this was the life he had started to live.
On the other, he hated not being able to think back any further. There were things Isaac needed to know, and quite honestly, Harry wanted to know them too.
Besides, Harry’s head was confused enough already. Suddenly, it was filled with so many words, and he knew exactly how to use each and every one of them perfectly. His head felt so busy.
Isaac had asked for a little bit of privacy between the two of them, so they had headed up to the attic for a chat. Harry understood that Isaac was more than a little bewildered.
“I just need to ask,” Isaac began as they sat on the edge of Harry’s bed next to each other, “Are you still you?”
“I’m still me,” Harry replied as sincerely as he could, “We watched Miranda together, you showed me how to take selfies, and earlier today, I kissed you.”
Isaac’s eyes began to well up. It was Harry’s least favourite sight – it always broke his heart. Isaac was so strong, and Harry just wanted him to be happy. He was Harry’s rock, and when the rock started to crumble, so did Harry.
Gently, Harry wiped the tears from Isaac’s cheeks. He wanted to look out for Isaac in the same way Isaac had looked out for him.
“It’s funny,” Isaac smiled from behind the teary and emotional expression on his face, “All I wanted was to be able to talk to you, you know, properly. Have a conversation.”
“I wish I could tell you more,” Harry sighed. He was beating himself up inside.
“I’m just glad you’re okay. I can’t lose you,” Isaac admitted.
“Me neither,” Harry smiled. It felt so good to be able to shower Isaac with the praise he had received, “I love you.”
“It’s so good to hear you say those words,” Isaac beamed, “I love you too.” Isaac leaned in to kiss Harry. His lips had never felt so good. Harry would fight to defend that feeling forever.
In the corner of his eye, Harry spotted a light blast by the skylight. It looked like a shooting star.
“Did you see that?” Harry questioned, wondering if Isaac had spotted it too. It was a matter of urgency.
“Yeah,” Isaac replied, sceptically, “That looked like…,” he paused, considering his wording, “…someone new arriving.”
There were so many theories spinning round and round in Ava’s mind, but she couldn’t find a plausible enough explanation for what she had just seen.
Perhaps the ring wasn’t just Harry’s so-called “lifeforce,” but it helped him with language? Surely not, a tiny ring like that could never have had that much power. That said, Ava was starting to question just about everything she knew and believed in.
Either that, or Harry had played them the whole time. Though Ava’s heart told her he wouldn’t and couldn’t have done that, her head couldn’t let it go as an option.
“What a con,” Newton vented as soon as Isaac and Harry left Arlen’s bedroom.
“Shut it, dumbass,” Arlen leapt to Harry’s defence.
“You think all that was genuine?” Newton scoffed, “He’s played you all. This alien shit is a load of bollocks.”
“You saw one with your own eyes,” Ava reminded, not wanting to get too involved in their squabbling.
“Have you heard of prosthetics?” Newton rebutted. Ava wasn’t in the mood to argue back. All she could think about was her one-on-one chat with Harry at Isaac’s house. He had such a childlike innocence to him. He still did.
“Look into his eyes. Have a conversation with him. Then you’ll see the pure innocence of Harry,” Arlen wasn’t letting up. The more she listened in, the more Ava agreed. It was time to speak up.
“He’s right,” she said, facing Newton, “You don’t know him like we do. He’s as naïve as they come. He’s not some mastermind con artist.”
Ava jumped as she saw a burst of light fire past the bedroom window. Immediately, a rush of realisation fled through her body.
“A shooting star,” she realised.
The attic steps sounded as a rumble of footsteps made their way nearer and nearer. Isaac burst into the room with Harry tagging along behind.
“Did you see that?” Isaac questioned.
“Yes, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Ava wondered.
“That we need to get there right now?” Isaac smiled devilishly, “Hell yeah.”
The trail of smoke from the new crash site was easy for Isaac to follow. Though it was dark outside, the smoke was easy enough to see, much like the reflections of the flames in the distance.
They were making their way to the school, a place Isaac was hoping he wouldn’t need to see again for a couple of days. It was weird to think it was only earlier that day when he and Harry were hiding in that building from the guards. A few hours since Harry first kissed him. So much had happened.
“Round the back,” Ava noticed as they reached the school grounds.
“It’s quicker to go through,” Newton suggested, “The changing room door is never locked.”
Once again, the group sprinted through the school. The corridors were depressingly empty; school at night was an eerie and rather unsettling place. Isaac had never done so much running, either. Somehow, he didn’t feel that tired, as he knew he had places to be, but he still had his tote bag with his inhaler and a bottle of water handy.
Much to Isaac’s relief, Newton was right – the outside door in the boys’ changing rooms was open. Isaac wouldn’t have known himself – he was the least sporty person going.
Immediately as they reached the field, the wreckage was clear. The centre of the school field had been near-enough obliterated, and even the nearby bleachers had caught fire.
“Can you see anyone?” Isaac asked Harry. Maybe he’d meet one of his own kind?
“No,” Harry responded, keeping his eyes focused on the wreckage.
“Maybe it was a false alarm?” Arlen optimistically wondered.
“It would be a little coincidental,” Ava mentioned, “Did you not see the massive burst of energy coming from Harry? Someone had to notice that.”
“Get down on the ground,” the authoritative voice of a guard yelled as several of them flooded the perimeter. Isaac obeyed, wanting as little trouble as possible.
“We’ve got incoming,” another guard yelled. Isaac glanced up, his chin resting on the patchy grass that tickled his neck. He saw a familiar sight – a figure emerged from the smoke. It was a girl, aged similarly to Isaac, naked and unscathed. Exactly like Harry.
Amazingly, right in front of Isaac’s eyes, clothing materialised over her body. Dark, tight-fitting trousers and a black leather jacket to match her straight, jet-black hair.
“I demand to speak to whoever’s in charge,” she ordered.
“That would be me,” the first guard replied confidently. He was the guard that had led the interview with Isaac earlier that week.
Without further chat, the girl pulled out a futuristic-looking gun and shot him ruthlessly. His body disintegrated on the spot. Isaac couldn’t believe his eyes. His heart started beating rapidly out of his chest. He felt scared.
Other guards went to advance, but she did the exact same to them. Isaac was frozen to the spot.
“Everybody else, clear the building,” she ordered.
“Take them back,” one guard said as Isaac was hauled up. Though he felt horrified, Isaac was pleased he was, for now, safe, and so were the others.
Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to be so close to where the action was.
Terrified to have ended up back inside the security precinct, Ava felt uncomfortable. All five of them had been given a room to sleep in – three bunk beds in a line, but one wasn’t in use; Isaac and Harry were cuddling up in the same one.
On the top bunk above Arlen, the bed was cosier than Ava would have expected, but she still couldn’t sleep. They weren’t locked in, and technically weren’t prisoners, but it felt like they were, especially with that woman on the loose. She was horrifying – if Harry’s species were like that, Ava was much less keen to meet them.
“Ava?” Newton whispered from the top of the adjacent bunk bed.
“Hey,” Ava responded.
“Did I wake you?” Newton queried. He seemed exhausted, much like Ava herself.
“No, I’ve not slept,” Ava confessed.
“Me neither,” Newton replied, “I can’t stop thinking about earlier. When is this going to stop?”
“I don’t know, but we can’t give up now,” Ava encouraged, “We’re in too deep.”
“I don’t know who’s in the right,” Newton confessed, “The guards, or her.”
“Maybe neither of them,” Ava considered.
“So what? We sit on the fence?” Newton didn’t seem any less confused.
“We play it by ear,” Ava advised, “Keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything. We still basically know nothing about what’s going on.”
Not knowing was Ava’s biggest hate. If she knew the facts, she could start thinking about a plan, but there were too many variables to succeed.
Eyes drifting open, Harry watched as Isaac woke up. He looked so elegant and peaceful when he slept. He had spent much of the night quietly watching him. Somehow, Harry had been lucky enough to land himself with someone as amazing as Isaac, and it made him so unbelievably happy.
“Is it morning?” Isaac slurred. Harry already knew he didn’t cope with mornings well, so a gentle approach was best.
“I don’t know, check your phone,” Harry suggested. He didn’t have a phone of his own yet, but he really wanted one. He could finally take his own selfies of him and Isaac together.
“They’ve not taken our phones?” Isaac pondered as he almost blinded himself with the bright phone screen in the dark room, "Half seven.”
“The door isn’t locked either, I saw Arlen try it earlier,” Harry responded.
“Have you slept? Has anyone other than me slept?” Isaac queried.
“No, and I don’t think so,” Harry replied, “I couldn’t, I can’t calm down.”
“So much to adapt to, huh?” Isaac related. They really did understand each other on the same wavelength. It filled Harry with joy to know he had someone else who understood him in the world.
“There’s so much going on, so many words in my mind, it’s so crowded,” Harry described in the best way he could, “Is this what your minds are like? How do you cope?”
“Welcome to my world,” Isaac smiled knowingly, “I don’t know how to answer your question. I’m not exactly like everyone else.”
“Neither am I,” Harry responded. They were both outcasts in their own separate ways.
“My social skills aren’t great,” Isaac opened up, “I’m awkward, I don’t always know what to say, and I guess I like my own company.”
“Sorry, I’ve kinda gotten in your way,” Harry felt bad. He would hate for Isaac to feel uncomfortable because of him.
“Not at all,” Isaac quickly corrected, “My autism isn’t getting in our way. Besides, I signed up to this the minute I laid eyes on you. You’re my responsibility.”
“I shouldn’t have to be,” Harry mentioned. He didn’t want to be dependent on Isaac. They should have been able to rely on each other.
The door opened. Two guards filtered into the cell.
“Rise and shine,” one guard said, “Breakfast this way.”
Isaac shrugged. None of them knew what was going on, so Harry had to assume they were going along with whatever was happening.
The traffic in the morning along Riverhampton town centre was always quite congested, but Elenore had never seen anything quite like this. Cars were piled up the whole way along, and the street was weirdly empty for a Saturday morning; not even a single elderly person on the hunt for the morning paper.
Elenore had had to call Dr Asahd to let her know she would be late. It wasn’t often she worked on a Saturday, but with an ever-growing waiting list and the chance for overtime, Elenore couldn’t turn it down. However, she had a full day of appointments, but at least her patients were likely to be stuck in the same traffic as she was.
Suddenly, the tranquil street filled with panic as a swarm of people began running back out of town, abandoning their cars and scarpering.
Elenore felt concerned. Their faces looked genuinely petrified, as if they were running for their lives. Elenore had to get a glimpse of what was ahead, but she couldn’t see anything.
Shockingly, Elenore saw why people were running. A flash of light shot across the street, hitting a man. His body disintegrated into dust on the spot, in front of Elenore’s eyes.
The panic whacked Elenore in the chest. More shots were being fired, ruthlessly killing people as she saw a woman wearing all-black and holding a gun through the car windows in front. Leaving the car would be far more dangerous than staying inside, so Elenore had to hide. Carefully, she clambered into the back of the car and laid on the floor. She pulled the picnic blanket over her, shrouding her from view.
With no doubt in her mind, Elenore knew who to call for help.
Isaac was surprised at just how big a range of breakfast options were being offered in the precinct. The canteen was stocked like a café, with options for cereal, toast, or a full breakfast, or all three if desired. Politely, Isaac asked the guard on duty for tea and toast – his mum’s Britishness rubbing off on him.
Harry had ordered the same – it was what he was used to at home. His experience of food wasn’t very broad yet, after all. Together, they sat at one of the canteen tables, adjacent to each other. One-by-one, the others joined them. Each and every one of them looked shattered – Isaac really was the only one who looked like he managed any sleep.
“This is pretty glamorous for a prison,” Arlen commented.
“It’s not a prison,” Ava replied, “Trust me, the cells are a lot worse.”
“So…why are we here?” Newton thought, “If we can leave at any time, why don’t we?”
“Because we’d like your help,” a lady came and sat at the head of the table. She was dressed very smartly, in a posh, grey suit, with her tight curls tied into a perfect bun on top of her head.
“It’s you,” Ava reacted.
“Hello again Ms. Reilly, Mr. Sheppard,” she spoke professionally, “I’m sorry for the trouble before. I see some new faces have joined you. I assume you must be Isaac Avery,” she stared directly at Isaac.
“Yeah, how do you know my name?” Isaac wondered.
“We’ve been watching,” she answered ominously, “And we’ve not met yet.” She faced Arlen.
“Arlen Edison,” he introduced.
“Thank you for your co-operation, Mr. Edison,” she smiled without losing the professional boundary she was keeping so well.
“What about me?” Harry interjected, not wanting to be left out.
“3-4-2, we were hoping you would find your way here soon,” she said. Isaac was confused – how did she know Harry’s real name?
“My name is Harry,” Harry reminded, not rudely but firmly.
“Of course. Don’t worry, you’re not going to be harmed here,” she assured, much to Isaac’s relief.
“What help do you need?” Isaac questioned.
“You saw another arrival last night. We need all hands on deck, because this is just the first,” the woman informed, “Harry was the advance guard, testing the waters to check they would land safely. We think he was literally born in the sky, in flight, which is why he looks human. He was designed to blend in.”
Isaac was trying to keep fully focused on her words, because what she was saying was imperative.
“I’m a weapon?” Harry was also trying to process everything. Isaac couldn’t imagine just how confused he must have been, learning so much about himself.
“Not as such, but more are coming and they will definitely have weapons,” she continued.
“How do you know?” a sceptical Ava queried.
“Because it’s happened before,” she informed, “I don’t know the full story, it’s classified beyond me, but the being you saw, Ms. Reilly, and the others here, they were stranded here fifty years ago.”
“What happened?” Arlen questioned.
“Slaughter,” she responded simply. A shiver travelled through Isaac’s body. Having seen the weapon the lady the previous night was holding, he fully believed slaughter was on the cards again, “We can’t fight. We need to negotiate and find out what they want. It’s why we need you, Harry. It’s why we desperately needed you and your ring.”
“Me?” Harry unassumingly said.
“No way,” Isaac defended. They couldn’t put all of that pressure on Harry.
“Take some time to think, but we need to negotiate as soon as possible, and they may be more willing to talk to someone of their own species,” she reasoned, before standing up ready for two guards to escort her out.
Isaac felt sick. He had a horrible feeling in his stomach. He was worried for Harry – he didn’t ask for any of this, but he might have no other choice.
This was the last thing Harry needed. As if his mind wasn’t enough of a mess already, he now had to consider whether he should talk to the scary woman from the night before, who was apparently of the same species as him, who wasn’t afraid of using a gun.
Harry knew that going along with this plan would put himself in danger, but that along wasn’t the worst bit. If Harry got himself killed, it would also affect Isaac. He wouldn’t want to put him through any of that, and the thought of them being apart terrified Harry.
He had spent five minutes pacing up and down the bedroom they had spent the night In, trying not just to consider the plan, but also the revelations about who he really was. No wonder he couldn’t remember anything else – he didn’t exist a week ago.
“Hey, room for a little one?” Isaac knocked twice on the door. Isaac was the one person Harry had any interest in talking to.
“Sure,” Harry sat down on the bed. As always, Isaac sat next to him. Through it all, they were a team.
“I knew it was too much,” Isaac despairingly commented.
“My head wants to explode,” Harry sighed.
“Listen,” Isaac looked as if he were going to give a pep talk, "You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You’re Harry Simpson, and no matter where you’re from, or how old you are, you’re your own person. You have free choice, and I will back you on whatever.”
Darn. It was a pretty great pep talk. Harry nodded in response, taking it in. Isaac had certainly managed to make things clearer for him.
“I’ll do it,” Harry decided, “But I want you nearby.”
“Duh, you’re not shaking me off that easily,” Isaac chuckled. It warmed Harry’s heart. He was too lucky. He kissed Isaac to show his gratitude, though he could easily have stayed there forever.
Now it was time for action.
It didn’t take long for reports to come in about a woman causing chaos and killing people in Riverhampton town centre, but Isaac still felt uneasy. He had insisted on coming along to the scene, but he couldn’t stand directly by Harry’s side the entire time; Harry had to do this on his own.
Instead, Isaac was hiding around the corner of an alleyway at the end of town. Alongside him was the suited woman, whose name he still didn’t know, and two guards. More guards had circulated around the eerily empty town. It was as secure as they could make it without giving the game away, but Harry was still too exposed for Isaac’s liking. He just had to trust in the plan, and in Harry’s instincts.
Harry had Isaac’s phone on an open call in his pocket so they could hear everything said. At least they weren’t completely in the dark.
Isaac peered around the corner. He could see Harry walking ahead. He was approaching her, not far from the alleyway.
“I was wondering how long it would take for our paths to cross, 3-4-2,” she began, the phone successfully capturing her speech.
“Who are you?” Harry interrogated.
“This is who I am,” she responded. Isaac watched on as her form shifted slightly. Her skin switched from a succulent tanned beige colour to a magical sea blue. She looked really pretty to Isaac’s eyes – a vision of beauty.
“What are you?” Harry wondered.
“We,” she corrected, “We’re the same, 3-4-2.”
“Okay, so what’s your name?” Harry queried.
“1-3-9,” she replied, “But you can call me Bella, Harry.” She shifted back to human form.
“Can we go somewhere to talk? I don’t know what you want, but there has to be a better solution than this,” Harry reasoned. Isaac was impressed at how good he was with words.
“It’s too late, they’re on their way, we need this planet,” she explained.
“Why? What about our home?” Harry continued.
“Our home was lost, we need a new planet,” Bella continued.
“Then we need to talk with them here. We can come to an agreement. There’s no need for more death,” Harry continued.
Bella looked around, as if she were examining the area. Inspecting for a trap.
“You’re not alone,” she deduced.
“No, but we’re all here to help, I promise,” Harry reassured.
“You’re on their side,” she said. Isaac’s heart dropped. Bella had cottoned on, “Those who fought us before. They took our kind and experimented on us.”
“I’m sorry, but this time it’s different. Me and my friends will make sure,” Harry continued, not giving up. Isaac was so proud of him.
“The others had low expectations of you. Our little experiment,” Bella seemed furious, speaking through gritted teeth, “But I thought you could be our perfect insider. It seems you’re disposable after all.” She held the gun to Harry’s forehead.
“No!” Isaac yelled, rushing out of the alleyway before he could think again. Protecting Harry was his number one reflex.
As he did so, a rumble sounded from above. Looking up, Isaac saw another shooting star whoosh across the sky. And another. And another. In fact, there were so many that he couldn’t count them all. Harry ran towards Isaac as the shooting stars provided the perfect distraction.
“Watch your kind arrive as you and your lover die,” Bella rotated to face them both. Side-by-side, Isaac knew he and Harry shared the same primary feeling.
7: Protection Written by MarthaJonesFan
Half an hour had passed, and Elenore could still hear voices, including the spine-tingling voice of that horrid, murderous creature of a woman. Isaac wasn’t answering his phone, which only made her more nervous. Whatever was going on surely had to be linked to the precinct, and therefore to Isaac, which made her feel sick with worry.
A confrontation had been ongoing outside, just behind the car by the sounds of it, and unfortunately just out of the view of the rear-view mirror – that was all Elenore could use to see. One voice had to be the woman, but the other was an unknown male.
Rumbles sounded above the town. Elenore watched out of the window opposite, spotting numerous shooting stars swish past in the sky, spiralling downwards. The car shook as the impacts vibrated across town. She wasn’t safe there. She had to get out.
Cautiously, Elenore opened the car door behind her. If she were quiet enough, she would be able to get away without that mad woman noticing a thing.
The quiet click of the door seemed to go unnoticed. Phew. This was her chance. Elenore looked around to see the woman’s back to her. She made eye contact with the two young boys she was facing. Isaac and Harry.
Without a second thought, Elenore’s protective instinct took over. She slowly moved up behind her, and without holding back, thumped her around the head. The woman collapsed harshly to the ground, and Elenore picked up the gun in case she wasn’t entirely unconscious.
“You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, young man,” Elenore said to a relieved Isaac.
Spellbound by the aesthetic of the side rooms in the precinct, Arlen was impressed by the tour Jenkins was giving him, Ava and Newton. The rooms were so clean and spotless, and their pod-like shape was incredible. He loved seeing the futuristic design inside the precinct.
“This is the same one as before,” Ava noticed, looking at the alien patient on the hospital-style bed in the centre. The alien was male, with long, dark, wavy hair flowing down to his waist. The colour of his skin was a lush shade of blue, and he looked so peaceful.
“He hasn’t aged a day in fifty years,” Jenkins explained, “Some think that’s just the alien form, and the human disguise ages like the rest of us, but we’ve never known for sure.”
“So Harry might never age?” Arlen wondered.
“Perhaps not, but Harry is a different case. He’s an experiment. He was born in flight. The rules might be different,” Jenkins responded.
“He’s less than a week old,” Newton interjected, still processing everything they had learnt about who Harry was, “Why does he look sixteen? He and Isaac…is that even legal?” Arlen rolled his eyes. He wasn’t sure why Newton hadn’t left to go home, as he seemed to have little interest in helping Harry, preferring to ask inappropriate questions. However, Arlen didn’t want to argue. He had done enough of that already.
“Harry was made to blend into his surroundings,” Jenkins answered, “Biologically, physically and mentally, he’s a sixteen-year-old male. Don’t worry.”
“I can’t get this out of my head,” Ava said with a notable quiver in her voice, “If Harry was meant as a short-term experiment, are we sure he still has a regular lifespan?”
“He’s like us, no? Surely his lifespan’s normal,” Arlen thought logically, and Ava understood it. If he were physically and biologically a teenage boy, surely that means he’ll share their expected lifespan?
“I’m just asking, we need to know. For Isaac’s sake,” Ava reminded.
“True, Arlen accepted. Isaac remained his number one priority. If he and Ava had to carry a burden for him, then so be it.
“Their lifespan is controlled by the ring, and we’ve seen nothing to suggest that the ring Harry’s wearing is any different to the rings of anybody else,” Jenkins explained.
Arlen breathed a sigh of relief. He’d had such a culture shock, processing all this new information. He needed a flow chart if he were to ever understand it properly.
“New arrivals,” another guard popped his head in.
“Wanna come? We’re down on men,” Jenkins suggested.
At last – Arlen could finally get in on the action.
Though he felt relieved to be alive, Isaac felt mortified by his mum’s reaction. She looked absolutely horrified by the situation he had found himself in. He was equally horrified that she was so close to Bella and her attack. He could have lost his mum so easily.
“Who the hell was that?” Elenore questioned.
“One of Harry’s race,” Isaac replied, “She’s dangerous, we were trying to help.”
“You did a great job of that,” Elenore sarcastically hit back, “You had a gun to your head, Isaac. I had to see my son held at gunpoint.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry apologised. His face was crushed. He felt responsible.
“It’s not your fault,” Isaac assured, “You were pushed into this. I said it was a bad idea.”
“Damn right,” Elenore agreed, “I know you want to protect him, Isaac, but you need to protect yourself too. I don’t want to wake up to a call from the morgue.”
“You won’t, I promise,” Isaac nodded as a tear slipped down his cheek. He felt bad for putting his mum in such a situation, because imagining her reaction upon seeing his dead body broke his heart.
“I’ll make sure of it,” Harry smiled, putting his arm around Harry protectively.
“Err,” Elenore was taken aback. She hadn’t heard Harry talk properly until now.
“Long story,” Isaac smiled.
“Excuse me, I hate to interrupt this cute little family reunion,” the grey-suited lady began, “But we need to get her back to the precinct as soon as possible.”
“Go,” Elenore encouraged Isaac to go with them, “But take care.”
“I will. Promise,” Isaac smiled. It was a much-needed reality check. He had to find the balance between looking after Harry and looking after his family.
Watching from behind the one-way mirror, Harry could barely stand to look at Bella. She was sat at a table in the precinct’s interview room, her hands cuffed on top of the table. She could have been there for him, but her words were cruel and nasty. She made him feel disposable, when Isaac had made sure he knew he was anything but.
The grey-suited lady was sat directly opposite her, with a guard positioned at either end of the room. Meanwhile, Harry had Isaac next to him, just as he always did.
“You smashed it out there, you know,” Isaac encouraged, just before the interview began.
“But it didn’t work,” Harry was down on himself.
“Sometimes it’s not about succeeding,” Isaac tried to be uplifting, “It’s about trying. That’s all you can do in times like this.” Harry smiled. He wasn’t wrong.
“Interview commencing at 10:17,” the lady began interviewing, “For the benefit of the tape, please state your name.”
“1-3-9,” Bella replied.
“Alias Bella,” the lady added, “Please name your species.”
“This is ridiculous,” Bella laughed, “There’s a load of us out there now and you’re talking to me. You don’t know how badly you’re losing.”
“Answer the question,” the lady prompted firmly.
“We are the Mirash,” she answered.
“Why did you come here?” the lady queried.
“For a planet to live on,” Bella answered, “And for revenge.” Harry shuddered. The idea of a full-scale war between the Mirash and the humans was horrible, and he knew he’d be caught between two sides.
“Work with us. Call your people off and there will be no more bloodshed,” the lady reasoned.
“Let the Mirashi people you’re holding go free, and then we can talk,” Bella reasoned.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” the lady resisted. Harry sighed. All she had to do was agree and this crisis could be averted.
“Why can’t they just get along?” Harry whispered aloud.
“There’s so much history, I guess,” Isaac replied, “Both sides are in the wrong, and neither is willing to forgive.”
“Oh, I think it is possible,” Bella smugly replied, “If you don’t want your precious precinct to go up in flames.”
Bella pointed at the ring on her finger. A faint ticking sound began counting down.
“Stop it,” the woman commanded. Harry watched as her face turned to pure panic.
“Let them go, then we’ll talk again,” Bella smiled arrogantly.
“She won’t blow it up, surely?” Isaac thought.
“She doesn’t care about anyone else. She’ll do it,” Harry replied. Everything he had seen from her so far had been ruthless and emotionless. She would kill herself and innocent people to win the war if she had to.
Arriving at the original crash site near Isaac’s house, where Harry arrived, Ava was scared of what to expect. Another arrival had landed, and she had low expectations after the debacle the night before. What’s more, Jenkins was the only guard to spare. A trainee and three untrained teenagers against someone who was bound to be carrying a gun. She didn’t fancy their chances.
“Put these on,” Jenkins instructed, giving them a bulletproof jacket each.
“Did you see the gun that woman had?” Newton reminded, “That vaporised their skins, a jacket’s not going to stop it.”
“Don’t wear it then,” Jenkins hit back. Ava couldn’t help but giggle. Though she and Newton got along, he was an idiot at times and it was amusing to see the piss being taken out of him.
Immediately, a shot fired right over Ava’s head. She ducked in time, but it smacked into the tree behind, smoke immediately filtering out of the impact.
“They’re here,” Ava commented. More shots fired, one of them hitting the car, splintering the windscreen. They had no easy way out.
“Take cover,” Jenkins commanded, “We need a visual.”
Ava crawled to the nearest tree. It was just about big enough to conceal her. She carefully peered round the side. Arlen was doing the same a couple of trees along. He looked just as nervous as she felt.
“Oh come on, I could do with a little target practice,” a male voice goaded. Ava managed to spot him; he was young, like the others Ava had seen, and very good looking. He was also walking in the direction of Isaac’s house. Closer to her.
He fell out of view. Ava couldn’t see him, and she didn’t want to try and get a glimpse in case she compromised her cover.
A gap of silence followed. Ava could hear her breath, and it made her anxious. The tension could be cut with a knife.
She caught eyes with Arlen, who was watching her already with eyes opened wide. It looked like he was trying to say something without talking, and it didn’t look promising. Ava cautiously turned around. There he was: the man.
“Which way to the security precinct?” he whispered directly into her ear as Ava felt the tip of the gun press up against the side of her head.
“Not far, a couple of minutes that way,” Ava pointed, her hand shaking as much as her voice.
“Show me,” he said, pushing her along. Ava felt horrified, but she shook her head to Arlen. She didn’t want him to intervene or follow her. It could get them all killed.
Panic levels were off the scale in the precinct. Isaac felt useless as guards rushed back and forth, and whispers were kept firmly out of his ears. He didn’t enjoy not being in-the-know, especially after they were specifically asked along to help.
“What’s going on?” Harry wondered.
“They’re considering her offer, I guess,” Isaac presumed. Ultimately, he had no idea, but that’s certainly what he would be doing in this situation. Especially when they didn’t know how long until the bomb was set to detonate, “Unless she’s bluffing.”
“I don’t think she’s the type to bluff,” Harry mentioned.
“Me neither,” Isaac sighed. He spotted the side room doors being opened. Isaac couldn’t help himself being nosey, so he went to check the one immediately in front of where he was stood. Sure enough, the guards were helping the patient up from the operating table. The wires were being pulled out of his chest, and he was waking up. They were going ahead with the deal.
“I wonder if he’s peaceful,” Harry thought. Isaac loved his black-and-white outlook on the world. Things were either good or bad – if only the world were so simple.
“Let’s go see,” Isaac suggested. He couldn’t help being curious. The situation of fifty years before was still an enigma to him – maybe this was his chance to find out more?
Isaac made eye contact with the Mirashi man as he stepped inside the pod. He looked extremely attractive – like a blue version of Isaac’s dream guy.
“What’s your name?” Isaac wondered.
“2-0-8,” he replied, “Taylor.”
“Hey Taylor, I’m Isaac, and this is Harry,” Isaac politely introduced himself.
“You’re one of my kind,” Taylor immediately identified Harry.
“Technically,” Harry sheepishly responded.
“Oh my god, you’re…,” Taylor seemed starstruck, as if he had met a celebrity, “You’re the experiment.”
“How do you know about me?” Harry seemed shocked. Isaac was too – this guy had been on Earth for fifty years, how could he possibly know of Harry, who was technically six days old?
“They started working on you during the battle. They said you’d be the perfect insider. Are we back? The Mirash?” Taylor wondered.
“Yeah, but they’re playing hard ball,” Isaac replied.
Taylor looked concerned, but Isaac was pleased – at least the Mirash weren’t all bad after all.
“Mr. Avery and Mr. Simpson, you’re needed this way,” a guard called from the doorway. Isaac was intrigued – there must have been a development.
Going out of his mind, Newton was amazed at just how amateurishly Arlen had acted. He saw Ava being abducted and still didn’t act on it. He could have thought on the spot to save her – that’s what Newton would have done, for sure.
Newton couldn’t deny that he felt protective over Ava, and he got the feeling she was the same back. In fact, Ava was the only one who really cared about him at all. Isaac and Harry were so focused on each other, and Arlen had already made his opinion pretty damn clear.
“What the heck, dude?” Newton vented.
“I did all I could,” Arlen defended himself. He was so stubborn.
“You stood and watched,” Newton wasn’t backing down.
“What would you have done, big man? Go ahead and tell me,” Arlen raised his voice, just as Jenkins stood between the two of them.
“I would have protected her,” Newton yelled.
“He had a gun to her head; you don’t think he would have used it on you? On her?” Arlen reasoned, “Besides, Ava can look after herself better than any of us could.”
“I know,” Newton sighed, calming down. He slumped onto the ground against the nearest tree stump, “I’m worried.”
“Same,” Arlen collapsed next to him, “But we know they’re going to the precinct. The most secure place in town. She’ll be okay, and we can follow them.”
A moment of silence followed while Newton considered Arlen’s stance. Ultimately, they wanted the same thing – they wanted their friends to be safe.
“You’re not such a douche,” Newton muttered. It was his unique way of apologising.
“You are,” Arlen laughed, “But that’s not such a bad thing.”
Newton laughed. It seemed they had found some common ground of sorts.
Now they had to get Ava back.
Back behind the one-way mirror, Harry was feeling worried yet weirdly optimistic about what the grey-suited lady was going to say to Bella. They had seen the guards beginning to release the Mirashi people, but the precinct wasn’t as innocent as they pretended to be. Both sides had the ability to be ruthless.
“We accept your offer,” the lady said, “Now carry out your part of the plan.”
Sure enough, Bella pressed the button on her ring. Subsequently, the ticking sound ceased. They were safe, for now, much to Harry’s relief. That said, Bella still looked extremely comfortable. Far too smug.
“Now give me Harry,” Bella demanded. Harry’s stomach dropped. Why did she want him? To finish what she had tried to start in town?
“No,” Isaac muttered. He was in a state of disbelief.
“We’ve been more than reasonable,” the lady tried to decline.
“And you’ve proven you will listen to me. Give me my experiment back,” Bella demanded.
The lady looked directly towards Harry. Though she couldn’t see him through the one-way mirror, Harry knew she was considering the deal. She stood up to leave the interview room, and seconds later, she joined them on the other side of the mirror in the room next door.
“No way,” Isaac said immediately. They shared the same initial gut reaction. It was a horrific thought.
“It’s this, or we all go up in smoke,” the lady reminded, “She turned that bomb off, but it’s not gone, she could reactivate it at any time. Harry, we would keep surveillance on you at all times.”
Harry understood what she meant. He had to take one for the team. He had to protect Isaac.
“Okay,” Harry agreed.
“What? No,” Isaac still couldn’t accept the plan. They had the same intention of protecting each other, but different ways of going about it. Harry had to help him understand.
“This is me, looking out for you,” Harry reassured, “Come and rescue me.” A tear fell from his left eye. He felt nervous and scared, even if it was the right thing to do.
“You bet I will,” Isaac nodded, convincing himself. He didn’t just have one tear; he had an entire waterfall gushing down his face. Harry let go of his hand and smiled at him one final time, before heading next door to Bella. He tried wiping away the trail the teardrop left behind, but it only multiplied as more and more began to fall.
Harry begrudgingly entered the interview room, putting on a front as best as he could.
“This is it. Your last request, then you leave my friends alone,” Harry requested.
“Deal,” Bella held her hand out for a handshake. Harry obliged, firmly shaking her hand.
Still handcuffed to the table, Bella managed to press the button on her ring. In an instant, they were gone. The ring had teleported them away. Away from the precinct. Away from safety. Away from Isaac.
“What? Where are we?” Harry wondered, observing around him. They were on top of a hill overlooking Riverhampton. The night sky made the view look serene and pretty. If only the residents really knew what was really going on.
“Just outside town,” Bella replied, “Meeting some friends.”
Harry noticed a swarm of people making their way towards them, climbing the hill. Bella had an army at her command, and Harry had become a part of it.
Ava didn’t attempt to struggle. She knew it would be useless when the gun her captor was holding would kill her in an instant anyway.
“They have soldiers too, you know,” Ava informed as he pushed her through the eerily quiet and dark town centre, “They’ll shoot on sight.”
“Just like your soldier friend in the woods? I’ll believe it when I see it. Humans are cowards,” the man ranted.
“We can help you find your people, I promise,” Ava tried to reason as best as she could.
“I know where they are. They’re in the precinct, and you will help me get them out,” he decided. Ava was amazed at his temerity. He had a very high expectation of what he could achieve with her – unrealistically so.
They reached the precinct after what felt like an hour of walking, though Ava guessed it couldn't have been more than ten minutes. Surprisingly, the front gate was open. The man pushed her straight through it, moving closer to the front door. As they approached, a series of guards filtered outside and surrounded both Ava and the man.
“Put your weapon down,” one guard commanded. The man held firm, keeping it pressed against Ava’s head.
“Ava!” cried the voice of Isaac from the doorway. She caught the look of horror in his eyes. It broke her heart.
“Move away or I’ll shoot her,” he threatened.
“No!” came Arlen’s voice from behind. Ava looked around to see both Arlen and Newton running across the compound towards her.
The man pointed his gun in their direction, but that didn’t deter them. Ava watched as his finger pressed down on the trigger. Ava’s heart sunk as the spark of electricity fired towards the boys. She couldn’t bear to watch.
8: Loyalty Written by MarthaJonesFan
“Is the pod ready?” Bella questioned. The final preparations were being made, and finally they were ready to test their experiment. It had been a long journey to get to this point, but they had actually done it. The perfect insider.
“Yes ma’am,” the engineer responded, “On your command.”
Bella pressed her hand on the pod, ready to be launched out of the Mirashi spacecraft. She saw the cutesy green eyes and floppy hair of a teenage boy. A human teenage boy.
“Is he a true Mirashi?” the engineer questioned, “I’ve always wondered, because he looks human.”
“That depends on how well he serves us,” Bella responded. Though she believed in this experiment, named 3-4-2, he was purposely programmed with free will. He was a living and breathing specimen, so she had to hope and pray he was a loyal one.
“Are you sure he shouldn’t be wearing the ring?” the engineer wondered. Bella didn’t even know his name, but he was serving his purpose well.
“You heard what they said. If he’s conscious for the descent, he could end up shell-shocked. Fifty years of work would amount to nothing,” Bella justified, “The ring is in the pod with him. He’ll find it as soon as he lands, and when he puts it on, we'll know it’s safe to join him. Once his feet are firmly under the table.”
Bella kissed the pod; a signal of her high hopes and expectations.
“Commence descent,” she commanded.
“Yes ma’am,” the engineer said, typing away at the computer. He slammed the giant blue button adjacent to the pod and it slipped out of its holder, down to the planet below.
Bella smiled gleefully. The plan had begun, but they still had a long way to go.
gun had fired. Ava didn’t know where to look. The terrifying blast of
electricity was on collision course with Arlen and Newton. Her heart
stopped, and time suddenly seemed to freeze entirely.
The grip on her arm had been released, but escaping was far from Ava’s top priority now. She had to be sure her friends were okay. Isaac was stunned just like she was.
Suddenly, much to Ava’s disbelief, the bolt fired back in the direction they came. Ava dashed sideways as the bolt slammed into the man like a boomerang. In front of Ava’s eyes, he disintegrated into a small pile of dust.
Gobsmacked, Ava looked back over to the boys. Arlen was holding his phone in mid-air – the screen had reflected the blast like a mirror.
Not wasting a single second, Ava ran over to them and wrapped her arms tightly around the two out-of-breath lads. Isaac joined them too, all four of them enjoying the sweet sense of relief.
“That was amazing,” Ava gushed.
“It was Newton’s idea,” Arlen graciously admitted.
“You had a pretty good aim,” Newton complimented.
“Okay, we really are in a crisis, you’re both getting along,” Ava smiled. She glanced round at a lonely-looking Isaac.
“Where’s your partner in crime?” she casually queried.
“I don’t know,” Isaac worriedly replied, his eyes fixated on the ground, “Bella took him, I don’t know where they went, she teleported.”
“Come on, let’s go inside,” Ava consoled, “Time to brainstorm.”
As the crowd gathered at the top of the hill, Harry quickly began to realise that Bella was their leader. Everyone circled around them; a crowd of one hundred or so, all facing Harry.
Harry used the term “people” loosely, of course, because they were all-but-confirmed to be Mirashi. Sure, they were technically his people, but Harry had no association with them. That said, it was best to keep that to himself. It was time to make like Miranda and do some acting.
“Thank you all for joining,” Bella began, her voice carrying over the chit-chat of the Mirashi people as they waited, “As you can see, we’re finally reunited with our insider. This is 3-4-2.”
Harry watched on as every one of the Mirashi people made eye contact with him. He turned around, completing a full circle, observing their gawping faces. He felt like an artefact in a museum. It was uncomfortable.
“We have a one-up on the precinct, now we have an army to infiltrate and conquer, and 3-4-2 will lead us straight in,” Bella explained.
Huh? This was news to Harry. He hadn’t been told his new purpose, though it was clear Bella needed him for a reason.
“They won’t go down without a fight,” Harry warned.
“We have weapons beyond their abilities, and they know that,” Bella responded, “Wipe out the precinct and this can be our home, they are the only people in-the-know.”
Harry gulped. Despite her deal, that almost definitely included his friends.
“You will help us, won’t you?” Bella spoke quietly to Harry on his own, “We wouldn’t want you to be a traitor, after all.”
“Of course,” Harry nodded. He had to go along with it, because anything else would get him killed.
“You need to get back inside, lower security, and we’re in,” Bella informed. Harry nodded, but little did Bella know that his mind was ticking away at the best way to get him and his friends to safety.
That said, Harry still felt the guilt rising inside him. He shouldn’t have even pretended to be on Bella’s side. Isaac would be so disappointed in him.
Emotions absolutely wrecked, Isaac had moved past the dwelling stage of Harry’s kidnap and was now more determined than ever to rescue him. There was one huge problem, though: none of them had any knowledge of where he would be. Bella had taken him via teleport, an ability that Harry didn’t seem to have on his own ring; they may not even have been on the planet.
Ava, Arlen and Newton were stood alongside Isaac – his back-up both physically and emotionally – facing the grey-suited lady and Jenkins. They all had a similar objective – save Harry and stop the Mirashi plan. However, Isaac expected each side had very different ways of doing so, especially knowing the history of the precinct.
“We can disperse guards all over Riverhampton, someone is bound to get lucky,” the lady suggested.
“Which is exactly what they will expect you to do,” Ava hit back, “Leave the precinct unguarded so they can storm in easily. We must outthink them, because they knew you would fall for Bella’s threat and release the imprisoned Mirashi people. They’ve seen your hand and are using it against you.”
“What do you suggest, Ms. Reilly? We’re on the verge of war, there are few options left,” the lady debated.
“Something less morally complicated than your usual fare,” Ava sniped.
“We could trace his phone,” Arlen brought the conversation back on topic.
“He doesn’t have one,” Isaac responded, defeated. He really wished he’d pushed for Harry to get even a basic phone so they could communicate in an emergency.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Ava replied as her phone buzzed. She showed Isaac a text she had received… from himself.
“I’m okay,” Isaac read the text aloud, “But I didn’t send that? How could I?”
Isaac was baffled. He had been stood in front of Ava the entire time; he simply could not have sent that text.
Isaac remembered. He felt his jean pockets – his phone wasn’t in either of
them. He had given it to Harry in town and never retrieved it back.
“Can you track that?” Isaac felt the adrenaline running through his veins. He had a chance to track Harry down.
“Yes. Jenkins, would you mind?” the lady requested.
“Sure, pass the phone here,” Jenkins asked. Ava handed her phone over. Isaac was buzzing with a cocktail of nerves and excitement, but he felt optimistic. He wasn’t playing nice any longer.
With Bella and the Mirashi people dispersed, Harry was putting his plan into action. He sat down at the highest spot he could, enjoying the soft, ticklish feel of the grass against his legs. It was strange, Harry thought, that he knew exactly what grass was, but this was the first time he’d ever felt it against his skin. He knew very little about how the Mirash ring worked and what its true capabilities were, but he couldn’t deny how much he appreciated the help it had given him with language.
also prayed that the text he had sent to Ava would be enough for them to
track him. Thank goodness Isaac hadn’t asked for his phone back. If the text
had been read as soon as Harry sent it, they would have been on their way.
It made Harry feel sick to think he was helping Bella in even the tiniest way. He wanted to be loud and proud about his true alliance, but it was for his own safety. He needed everybody to think he was on their side.
“Harry!” the delightfully familiar voice of Isaac excitedly called over as he carefully stepped his way up the hill. He threw his arms around Harry, almost landing on him in his elation.
“Hey, I’ve missed you,” Harry smiled, enjoying the warm hug they were sharing.
“Are you okay? Did they hurt you?” Isaac desperately quizzed just as Jenkins followed him up the hill.
“I’m fine, I got away for a couple of minutes. We need to stop them, they want to wipe out the precinct,” Harry revealed. He was telling Isaac the truth, but as far as Bella knew, he was playing them for fools.
on, we need to get back,” Jenkins reminded, having followed Isaac up. Bella’s
plan was being put into motion, but Harry was desperately trying to figure out
an alternative of his own.
Spotting Ava slouched on the floor in the corner of the room, Newton figured she might need to vent. She had been part of a pretty terrifying experience, so she was bound to need a moment or two to process it. A non-invasive familiar face might not be such a bad thing for her to have.
Newton was finding it hard to believe they had only spoken properly for the first time the day before. So much had happened in that time and they had been by each other’s side throughout it all. Somehow, Newton found it strange to imagine a time before he had Ava to scold him, or console him, or often both at the same time.
“A penny for them?” Newton sat down next to her.
“You don’t know what you’re unleashing,” Ava replied half-jokingly, “What have we gotten in to? You’re only here because of me. It’s such a mess. I’m so sorry.”
“Shut up, I could have left at any time. Except when we got locked up, obviously,” Newton brought a sprinkling of light into his response. Ava raised a slight smile – a win given the circumstances.
“Thanks for the moral support,” Ava smiled.
“Any time,” Newton replied, “Besides, I can’t let you get kidnapped on your own. That’s our shared activity.” Ava raised an eyebrow, trying her best to conceal her laughter.
“For what it’s worth,” Newton began a surprising and rare serious statement, "I don’t know Isaac like you do, and I’ve still not spoken to Harry, but that doesn’t matter. I know what’s right and what’s wrong, and this is so wrong.”
“Thanks,” Ava placed her hand on his knee. Newton enjoyed the comforting feel it brought. Ava soothed his emotions better than anybody else could.
Newton gently placed his hand on top of Ava’s. They had each other’s backs through anything, and Newton truly believed that.
He also couldn’t ignore the strong feeling of butterflies taking over his stomach. He knew what that meant, and he wasn’t willing to avoid those feelings.
Racing back into the precinct, Isaac knew the worst was about to begin. Sure, Harry was safe, but it wouldn’t have taken a genius to figure out where they had taken him. Sure, the precinct was the most secure place around, but it was the most obvious too.
“Quick, seal the doors,” Isaac yelled as he and Harry safely passed into the sparse central area of the precinct.
“Woah dude, where’s the fire?” Arlen was confused.
“They’re coming here, Harry escaped but they’ll know where he is now,” Isaac explained.
“Then we take him elsewhere,” Arlen logically reasoned.
“This place has guards, they can’t get in,” Isaac justified. It was the most secure place in town.
“Dude, she teleported him out of here, nowhere is safe,” Arlen reminded, “Look, get him as far away from here as possible. We’ve got the precinct covered.”
“Have you? How?” Isaac didn’t understand how they apparently had it under control from an oncoming army.
“No, it was a clever line, just go,” Arlen clarified, gesturing in the direction of the door.
Though he still felt on edge, it made sense to Isaac. Arlen’s suggestions were based on gut instinct, and he had a better gut instinct than anyone else Isaac knew.
“Where are we going?” a concerned Harry wondered as Isaac ushered him back out of the precinct.
“Home,” Isaac answered. It was the only place he knew well enough to find an effective hiding place.
The night was drawing in, and Harry really felt the spookiness of living right alongside the forest. Every tiny sound that came from that direction put Harry on edge. Every snap, crackle or pop that was likely just the result of the wind made him anxious. Isaac seemed to be blocking it out as he led Harry up to the front door. He was envious of Isaac’s focus.
Harry could hardly cope with himself anyway. He knew what he had told Bella, and they were expecting him to get them inside the precinct. That was the plan he had thought out – get them inside and try to double-cross them. However, now he wasn’t even at the precinct. He couldn’t enact any part of the plan. Now he felt like was double-crossing his friends instead.
Inside the house, Isaac locked the door and led Harry directly upstairs, into Harry’s bedroom. It had only been one night since he moved out of that room and into Arlen’s house, but it still felt like home to him. Isaac opened the wardrobe, checking it out for size.
“This will do, come on in,” Isaac grabbed Harry’s hand.
“Wait,” Harry nervously replied. He had to come clean. Maybe Isaac would hate him, but he couldn’t keep a secret any longer.
“What’s up?” Isaac could instantly sense the mood. Together, they sat down on the edge of the bed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do,” Harry stammered as he spoke, feeling a runaway tear slipping down the slope of his cheek.
“What is it? Tell me, we can fix it, like we always do,” Isaac caressed his knee, performing his usual comforting routine.
“I told Bella I’d help her out and let them in. They thought I was on their side. I had to stop them killing me. I’m so sorry, Isaac,” Harry explained. He couldn’t bear to look Isaac in the eye.
“It’s okay,” Isaac immediately said, still gently strolling his knee, "You did what you had to do to survive. I’d have done the same.”
“What about Arlen and the others? They’re not safe,” Harry couldn’t stop picturing what sort of situation they’d be in. Outnumbered by the Mirash and in grave danger.
“They’ll be okay, they’re ready for an attack,” Isaac calmed him down, wiping away the streams of tears from his cheek. It felt just as special as the moment they first met, “I’ll always stand by you, for as long as we have each other.”
like that,” Harry started to perk up a little bit, “I love you.”
“I love you too, doofus,” Isaac teased. Harry couldn’t believe how understanding Isaac was being, but he was so relieved.
“Hey, 3-4-2, I know you’re in there, traitor,” Bella’s soul-destroying voice barked from outside.
“In the wardrobe. Now,” Isaac whispered.
“Come out, or I’m coming in,” Bella yelled again. Harry did his best to ignore, but his heart was beating so fast. He was terrified.
Isaac pulled the wardrobe door shut. They were intimately close to each other, with only the gap between and either side of the double doors providing speckles of moonlight. All they had to do was keep quiet.
“Any news from Isaac?” Ava approached Arlen, who was nervously watching the CCTV cameras ready for the attack he knew was coming. Isaac was right – the Mirash would know Harry had gone to the precinct, but it was the perfect trap now he wasn’t there.
“He’s taken Harry home, they’ll be safer there, but we’ve got incoming at any moment,” Arlen warned.
“We need an advantage, something that gives us the upper hand,” Newton considered.
“Any ideas? Because I’m sorry, but I’ve got nothing,” Ava admitted.
“We’re screwed,” Arlen sighed. He was hoping Ava might have had a brainwave, because she was usually so good at plans. Equally, he knew he was useless at logical thinking on his own.
“No, we’re not,” Newton was surprisingly adamant, “Come on, they’re all wearing rings. They must have an off-switch or cheat code.”
“They do,” a male voice came from behind. Arlen spun around to see someone who looked familiar, but he couldn’t quite figure why. However, it wasn’t every day he saw a man with silky black hair that trickled down his back as low as his waist.
“It’s you,” Ava identified, “We saw you in the pod.”
“You were blue,” Arlen found himself saying before he could stop himself. That was why he recognised him – he was the Mirashi man lying in the pod. One of the victims of the precinct’s experiments.
“I want to help, please,” he asked, “Sorry, my name is Taylor.”
“How can we trust you?” Arlen was quick to ask. He didn’t want to take risks.
“I’m ashamed of my people. The others here have scarpered, but I’m still here to stop them. They’re a small faction of our kind, and I want to use the kill switch,” Taylor reasoned.
Arlen was convinced. His gut didn’t give him any worrying signs, especially considering he was wearing a ring of his own too.
“They’re coming,” Arlen noticed on the screen. A small group had appeared outside each of the doors. A rush of adrenaline shot through his body, enough to overcome the pure fear that bubbled down underneath.
Isaac’s experience of fright and terror had certainly expanded in the past week, but none of that compared to his current state of mind. He could hear the thumping of his heart, accelerating in speed like a race car. He felt Harry’s breath against his skin. Other than that, pure silence. That was good news, but Isaac was well aware Bella had the ability to teleport using her ring. She could appear directly outside of the wardrobe without a sound being made.
Creak. The noisy step on the staircase sounded. She was inside. Harry looked up to Isaac – the fear had never been so evident in his eyes. Isaac wished he could console him, but he had absolutely no way of doing so when he was just as scared himself.
The faint noises grew louder and louder as Bella reached the top of the stairs.
WHAM! She knocked a door open. Thankfully, it wasn’t the door to Harry’s room, but there were only four rooms on the top floor – she would reach them before long.
WHAM! Another door. Even closer this time. It sounded like it came from next door – Isaac’s bedroom. Harry clasped Isaac’s hand as tight as he could.
“I’ll find you both,” she taunted. Isaac gulped. His mouth was so uncomfortably dry. He could barely stand to look through the gap in between the doors.
WHAM! Harry’s bedroom door was kicked open and crashed against the bed. Bella’s shoes slammed against the laminate flooring. She was just outside the wardrobe. Isaac felt a tear escape down his cheek. They were toast.
The door swung open. Bella had found them. Isaac looked directly into her eyes. He saw the determination staring him back. She was ruthless.
“Nice try, traitor,” she smiled. The gun fired. Isaac looked away, but never lost grip of Harry’s hand.
Stepping into the centre of the main operations room, Ava was apprehensive about the plan. Would it work? Potentially. Could it backfire? Absolutely.
Ava, Newton and Arlen formed a triangle in the middle, back-to-back so every angle was covered. Jenkins had just released the door security, unleashing the Mirash unto the precinct.
Her left hand grabbing Arlen and her right hand grabbing Newton, Ava wasn’t letting them go down without a fight. They had each other above all else.
“Positions,” a guard called out. Ava caught eyes with the grey-suited lady, hiding well out of view behind the guards. After all she had done to keep this tension going with the imprisonment of the Mirash from fifty years before, she certainly didn’t seem to be up to facing the consequences.
The Mirash filtered in, gathering in a circle around the trio. Ava saw their collection of faces. All of them looked human, but she was well aware by now that it was a simple disguise.
“Gather the humans,” one woman commanded. Bella wasn’t in sight, so she must have been the second-in-command.
“Drop your weapons,” Arlen tried to take charge instead.
“I don’t think so,” she replied. She primed her weapon directly in Ava’s direction.
“I do,” Ava smirked. Her attitude shifted as the neon blue light on the gun powered off, as if it had run out of battery. The lights went out in every gun around the room, the guns looking like little more than props.
“What have you done?” she cried out, examining the ring. Ava felt confident suddenly. They had the upper hand.
“Taken back control,” Taylor pushed through into the circle. Ava watched as the Mirash all bowed down, shocked and stunned by his arrival. He was their leader.
Blinking frantically, Harry wasn’t sure if his plan worked. In his hand was Isaac’s phone, having just reflected the blast back at Bella. How had the blast not killed her?
Isaac was still tightly gripping his free left hand. They were both okay, but not out of the woods yet.
“You missed,” Bella grinned smugly.
“I think you were the one who fired the shot,” Harry hit back. He stepped out of the wardrobe and faced Bella eye-to-eye. He was fed up of Bella antagonising him, “You made one big mistake, Bella. You made me real. You let me build relationships, and I won’t let you break promises and hurt my friends.”
Harry looked down at the ring on his finger. It powered down, as if it had been switched off. Bella’s gun did the same thing. She was defenceless.
“You haven’t got it in you,” Bella almost looked scared of him.
“No, I don’t,” Harry responded, taking Isaac’s hand back and pulling him forward to stand by his side, “That’s what makes us so different from you.”
“You’re still a Mirashi traitor,” Bella was fuming. Even now, she couldn’t see what was so bad about her plan.
“We want the same thing, Bella,” Harry reasoned, “But I haven’t murdered anyone.”
“You’ve lost,” Isaac grinned, backing him up.
“I have an army,” Bella continued to back herself, trying to wriggle out of her tight spot.
“You have a herd of sheep,” Harry debated, “Who are too scared to go against you.”
“I can still kill you without a gun,” Bella foundered. She was desperately searching for a way to get herself back on top.
“Not on my watch,” another voice interjected, just as a frying pan whacked her around the head. Bella collapsed to the floor with a loud thump. Stood behind her was Elenore, holding the weapon in question, “I’m making a habit of this.”
Harry felt so relieved. He had finally stood up to her, and it felt amazing. He pulled Isaac in for a supportive hug. They had survived, and they did it together.
Returning to the precinct after the soldiers had picked up Bella and restrained her, Isaac was so pleased to see Ava, Arlen and even Newton again, without even a scratch on their skin. He couldn’t wait to tell them just how awesome Harry had been. He had broken the hold that Bella had over him and finally proved his independence away from his original purpose. Isaac had never felt prouder of him.
It appeared everything was all good at the precinct, too. Arlen was right – they did have it all under control after all. Somehow, five teenagers had just saved the precinct, and quite possibly, the entire world.
“Is it over?” Arlen wondered, jogging over to see them.
“I don’t know,” Isaac replied truthfully. It wasn’t like Bella was dead, she could have one more trick up her sleeve, “But I think we won the battle. Where are the rest of them? Did they come?”
“We had a special weapon,” Ava answered, “Taylor ran the kill switch for the rings. He’s transporting them back to their ship now, reactivating the rings on the other end.”
Isaac caught Harry’s eye as his relief turned into disappointment.
“Me too?” Harry worriedly queried.
“That’s up to you,” Taylor interrupted, “You’re Mirashi, even if you look human. You are welcome to come back with us.”
“They won’t accept me,” Harry thought aloud. Isaac was terrified by his words – surely he wasn’t actually considering this? He couldn’t just leave, after everything they went through together.
“Bella doesn’t represent our kind, there are more of us out there, every one of us looking for a new planet," Taylor explained, “We’re obviously not ready for a new society yet and I feel ashamed. A lot can change in fifty years.”
“This doesn’t represent us either,” Ava mentioned as the entire group saw Jenkins escorting the grey-suited lady off the premises, wearing handcuffs.
“Sure, some of us are idiots,” Arlen added, shooting a cheeky smirk to Newton, “But not everybody. Not most people.”
“I know. You four have served your kind well,” Taylor smiled.
“Five,” Harry corrected, “It’s five. Thank you for the offer, Taylor, but my home is here. I was born in the sky, and I belong with my friends.”
“Then please, keep in touch,” Taylor pointed at Harry’s newly reactivated ring, “If you need help, please call me.”
Isaac breathed a sigh of relief, wrapping his arm around Harry and pulling him in closer, their foreheads touching in a cute, intimate moment.
The last one left, Taylor disappeared. The precinct now felt pretty empty. The adventure was over.
“What now?” Ava chuckled, “We have school on Monday.”
Isaac sighed, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care much. He had Harry for good, and all he wanted to do was celebrate.
Sunday night had arrived. A full week had passed since Harry’s arrival, and Isaac was lying on the sofa in front of the latest Big Brother episode cuddling up with Harry. He hadn’t let go of him all day, and he never wanted to again. It was the best feeling ever to know there was no threat left and Harry was officially there to stay.
Much of their Sunday had been spent relocating Harry back into his original room, at Isaac’s house. Finally, it was safe for him to move back home. Elenore had officially adopted him too, thanks to the precinct producing adoption papers for him. Harry Simpson was now a legal, living person. No more secrets.
“I’m closing the curtains,” Elenore stated, “Because I’m not having any shooting stars interrupting our viewing tonight.”
“Hey, I said I’m sorry,” Harry laughed.
“You’re better than any Big Brother episode,” Isaac defended.
“Lucky Harry, you’d never say that to me,” Elenore teased, “I hope I don’t need to lay down ground rules for what’s acceptable under my roof.”
“Mom, please don’t go there,” Isaac groaned. He wasn’t ready to hear her lay down the law for kissing in the house, or even worse, for sex. They had only known each other a week after all.
“I’m saying nothing,” Elenore backed off, concealing a jokey smile.
“Thank you,” Harry smiled at her, “I know I’m not family, I shouldn’t be here.”
“I’ll hear no more of that,” Elenore corrected, “You’re just as much a part of this family as everyone else in the room. No more silliness.”
Isaac looked at Harry’s face. He was overcome with happiness. The past week had been an adventure, but all of Harry’s self-discovery revelations were laced with bad news. Finally, he had a place to belong.
As the Big Brother recap began, Isaac kept his head lying under Harry’s chin. He felt more comfortable being himself than ever. He had love, acceptance and care from the people closest to him. All the while, Harry had his hand on Isaac’s knee. He rubbed it gently, his fingers intertwining as he massaged Isaac’s skin.
Isaac had everything he ever wanted.