Written by Danielle E. Pasqua
Copyright © August 28, 2018
I was on top of the glass dome for our Defense Center on an island known as “The Move.” It was there while I repaired the dents “The Official” had made since he plowed our invincible fortress with small asteroids. The motorized platform that I was on, which allowed me to maneuver around the circular roof top, gave me a clear view of Heirloom Island that lied straight ahead to the East, where the waking sunlight was reflected on the sea. The North wind wrapped itself around me and the thought of being anywhere in the cold right now was one thing I wanted to neglect.
“I believe I’ve fixed most of the holes in the dome,” I told my father while I put down the glass adhesive container that was invented on my planet.
“That’s good. I taught you well Noah,” my father complimented me as he supervised my task, “There are still some marks left in difficult places, but I will leave that for the rest of ‘The EXIT’ robots to fix for now.”
But my father had his binoculars with him as he made a 360° circumference in the skies around the island. I asked him what he was looking for.
“Two things,” my father answered and then explained,” I’m checking on the progress ‘The EXIT’ robots are making on Heirloom Island. I am also checking out for “The Officials’ return.”
“I’m sure the island must look beautiful now,” I said standing up because I had to stretch my legs,” After ‘The Official’s’ attack, the beings there must be relieved.”
“They are. Trust me,” my father agreed.
But our conversation was interrupted when my mother called from below,” Noah, someone broke into your room.”
“Who? And how? I asked, “And what did they take?”
“I don’t know who or how,” my mother answered,” I believed it was ‘The Invitation.’”
“’The Invitation?’” I asked.
Then we all looked down at the sea, where there was a boat with “The Official” and one of his team members. My sister Lacey was there, besides them while she laughed at me and held tight onto “The Invitation” in her left hand and had something silver in her right hand.
“Lacey is a liar,” I pouted,” I should’ve known better than to trust her.”
“You don’t know all the circumstances,” my father reminded me, “’The Official’ is clever than you believe.”
“Where are they taking it?” I asked.
“Probably to the North where his base lies,” my father guessed we watched “The Official’s” boat fade far into the ocean only to say, “As you know ‘The Invitation’ is a database for your stories. There’s something else I need to tell you.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Well, inside ‘The Invitation’ is ’The Lock’,” my father began to describe this hidden object,” If you open ‘The Invitation’ in half it reveals ‘The Lock.’ The only way to open ‘The Lock’ is with a key. “
“I bet Lacy was holding on to it,” I guessed.
“I had it concealed in my office, but somehow or something discovered it,” my father astonished at this burglary.
“What’s so important about ‘The Lock?’” I asked.
“Because when ‘The Lock’ is spread apart and mounted on a telescope it reveals a constellation only on the imaginary part of the spectrum. Such as your stories, Noah. That constellation is also called ‘The Lock.’”
“Why does he want it?” I asked.
“Because if you look closely at “The Lock” constellation you can see Xavier, Ian and your initials. It does not appear like its’ entitled name as many catalogued objects in the sky are,” my father explained,” If ‘The Lock’ inside ‘The Invitation’ meets ‘The Lock’ constellation at just the right angle, it can destroy you and your friends’ relationship, so they never existed at all.”
I remembered seeing an “N”, “X” and “I” shaped constellation in the sky above “The Bridge” last winter. Even the buildings at my father’s previous business High Tech Star Gateway Machinery had structures that reflected our initials. To my friends and I that was real.
“Why does he want to do that?” I asked.
“He wants to reign,” my father answered,” He wants to be the narrator, not you.”
“I don’t want that,” I cried as I thought how miles away, lied my previous neighborhood, where my friends still lived and a memory I held onto,” Are ‘The EXIT’ robots protecting my friends at our old house?”
“Yes, but you will have to pick your friends up,” my father spoke up as he started to move the motorized platform, so I could get onto the lift with him,” You will have to bring them with you. Without them there, ‘The Lock’s’ protection will perish.”
“Are you coming with us?” I asked as I stepped onto the glass elevator.
“No, I am going to leave that up to you,” my father explained as we took the elevator ride down,” You and your friends were experts in your adventures. Use ‘The Official’s’ base as a learning tool.”
“What if we can’t?” I asked as I jumped off the elevator, where my mother stood, “a beast” as she had called herself since she was close enough to be a dragon. A mirror lied ahead, so I got a good view of my father and I, both darker green than my mother, yet a family with no relationship to earth.
“Then I will come,” my father promised as the elevator doors closed behind us.
“Will we be alone?” I asked.
“No, an EXIT robot will fly you there,” my father promised as my mother and him led me down a staircase to the beach,” He will keep watch on both of you and your friends. He is programed to guide you to ‘The Invitation’ so you can retrieve it before ‘The Lock’ is opened.”
Then an EXIT robot ship or known as EXpress Interstellar Traveler ship hovered next to me along the shore of “The Move”. Its’ lights blinked to my racing heartbeat.
“But I’m not prepared,” I cried,” What about food and supplies?”
“Everything is there, Noah,” my mother promised me, as the lights on the ship dimmed its’ flickering and a hatch opened,” It is an emergency EXIT ship. One that we created in temperamental times such as this. That’s why we made sure that ‘The EXIT’ robot had ties to ‘The Invitation.’”
But I knew what was important, so I regained my confidence. I then climbed into the ship, buckled myself in as ‘The EXIT” robot shot straight to my former neighborhood, a cul-de-sac surrounded by miles of woods and a sky where all the celestial objects were oddly seen without interference. It was a fantasied place of the “Sound”, where both of my friends Xavier and Ian had started our adventures with “The Rock” the summer before. They waited for me as usual, always willing to help me, when I needed them to be.
“Now what’s wrong with ‘The Move?” Ian asked as he climbed into ‘The EXIT’ ship.
“Nothing,” I answered, and I told them where were headed.
“Why?” Xavier asked.
I gave my friends some background about “The Lock” just as “The EXIT” ship took off. They both didn’t speak, but I knew what they were thinking.
This was a life or death situation.
“The EXIT” ship gave us the best view of the Arctic from all angles, despite the eternal darkness of the season the North pole had presently resided in. Aurora in a multitude of colors painted the sky like a giant mural of cosmic light. Peaks of mountain ice rose above the misty clouds, while icebergs that glimmered like crystal rocks in the night floated on the silver seas, only to move along from the wind of the frigid polar cap.
Our hiding place was found in an abandoned cave. It was there in the ship where we layered ourselves with warm clothing, a coat, gloves, hat and boots. “The EXIT” robot waited for us outside as I handed my friends our emergency backpacks and grabbed our flashlights. We tracked our way through the snow in the bitter cold. With ‘The EXIT’ robot in the lead and my friends and I behind me, Xavier to my right and Ian to my left in our known triangular formation, we arrived at the valley where “The Official’s” base lied.
The name of “The Official’s” base was OWT or as spelled out below as Outer World Technologies. Xavier believed that the blinking neon sign was most likely stolen from my father, being he used that artwork for his cover up occupation, a car lot called “The Dealer.”
In the middle of this base lied a barren circular spaceport, that I believed “The Official” and his team only operated when it was safe to do so. Office buildings surrounded the launch pads and the windows were tinted so we couldn’t see in and just what “The Official’s” true intentions were. But “The EXIT” robot motioned for my friends and I to follow him to the whereabouts of “The Invitation” and “The Lock” that it harbored.
A maze led us to “The Official’s” observatory, as if he didn’t want it to be discovered, but that didn’t stop “The EXIT” robot’s automated direction to the entrance way, high above the Arctic blackened, yet shiny landscape. He was able to open the door with his robotic hands, with no struggle at all. I warned my friends that we were not to put any lights on. But somehow “The EXIT” robot’s energy gave us enough light so that we could see our way through.
The telescope was larger than I had imagined, erected in the middle of this steel construction. There were four sets of circular staircases. As I shined my flashlight on the top of each staircase, I witnessed four doors before the next set of stairs would continue. When we reached first set of stairs, written on each doorway in bold read “The Rock,” “The Lightning Rod,” “The Heirloom,” and “The Globe.” After the second set of stairs, there was written in the same font “The Ride,” “The Bridge,” “The Tour,” and “The Exit.” Then after the third set of stairs there was hi-lighted “The Invitation,” ‘The Official,” “The Drawing,” and “The Trip.” Finally, after the last set of stairs there was printed “The Dealer,” “The Homecoming,” “The Move” and “The Lock.”
“What’s going on here?’ Ian asked,” Why are all our adventures on the door?”
“It’s a warning,” I cried,” ‘The Official’ doesn’t want us to stop ‘The Lock’s’ destiny.”
Then a room that read “The Lock,” dissolved to read Outer World Technology Observatory Secret Operations.
“The EXIT” robot tried his best to open the door with his mechanical arm.
But we heard a snicker.
We then turned around and believed it was “The Official,” but it was Lacey.
The laugh on her face was unrecognizable to say the least.
Behind her was “The Official.”
“I see you fell into my trap,” ‘The Official’ snickered, “I’m glad I have all three of you here,” ‘Like your father said in the story ‘The Tour.’ ‘The three of you are special’.”
“How do you know?” I asked as I tried to distract “The Official’s” and my sister’s attention from “The EXIT” robot’s persistence to open the secret operation room.
“I read minds,” ‘The Official’ snapped as he started to play my recordings of all our escapades. Then he swayed my father’s stolen key in my face, and said,” You can’t stop me from opening ‘The Lock’ now.”
But “The EXIT “robot managed to pound down the door, the start of a harsh struggle. I knew I had to get the key from “The Official.” So I tackled him while I imagined the key as a football. My friends helped me along, Ian behind “The Official” and Xavier in the front. At last I was able to grab the priceless key from the slimy hands of “The Official.” We ran inside the secret operation room, while “The EXIT” robot soldered the door shut with a laser, and we felt a sigh of relief.
“How did they get in here so fast?” Ian asked
“Probably a hidden passageway,” I suggested,” That means we have to act fast.”
This secret operations room we were now a part of, was full of cameras that operated the features for this observatory. A large window across from the doorway gave a closer view of the telescope than I had below. As I walked to the window, I looked up and saw “The Invitation” attached to the lens. The only way I could see something so small on this grand star seeker, was because of “The Invitation’s” eminent glow. But for me to see “The Lock” I used my binoculars.
“How we supposed to get that?” Ian asked.
“There’s a ladder around the corner,” Xavier pointed out.
I remember my father showed me how to operate the motorize platform on “The Move” in case for some reason he wasn’t there. Now he wasn’t around, but the ladder was attached to the wall, so “The EXIT” robot heard my plea and took the initiation to maneuver the ladder. That way I would reach “The Invitation” before “The Lock” was twisted by a key if it ever fell into “The Official’s” hands again.
But I climbed the ladder, took small steps all the way, reminded myself not to look down and concentrate on my mission. Luckily there was a harness available, so my friends had helped strap me in. When I reached the top, I leaned over on the lens, careful to scratch any of the mirrors as I twisted “The Invitation” off with the unworldly strength of my three-fingered hands. I closed it shut so “The Lock” wasn’t visible.
I was glad when I got down the ladder safely. My friends took me out of the harness, as I held “The Invitation,” as if it was priceless, which it was, including “The Lock.”
Then I heard someone call my name,” Noah. Noah.”
Then I heard it again. I realized it was coming from beneath us.
My sister Lacey.
Then a section of the steel floor opened. Out climbed my sister.
“You’re a trader,” I said.
“I’m not a trader,” Lacey explained as she pulled on her green flesh, to let us know she was a mortal being,” The other Lacey is a robot.”
“Then why did he take you?” I asked.
“To fool you, Mom and Dad,” Lacey explained, her mouth quivered with fear,” To make them feel they couldn’t trust their children.”
“What? But how?”
“This morning while you were fixing the dome, I was in my room reading,” Lacey started her alibi,” The next thing I knew my hands were tied and ‘The Official’ was in my room with my robot twin. He said, ‘Lead me to ‘The Invitation’ and the key to open ‘The Lock.’’ He said if I didn’t he’d destroy “The Move.” Knowing our family’s life was at risk I obeyed his orders. ‘The Official’ said if I returned to “The Move’ and told our parents the truth about my kidnapping, he would take me again and leave me isolated in his base for life.”
“Why a robot version of you?” I asked.
“A twisted cover up. I wasn’t the one waving to you on the boat. I was held prison in the cabin,” Lacey answered but her eye was on the entrance, where “The Official,” his team and the Lacey robot were trying kick the door open,” Now we must get out of here. Come along with me down this tunnel. “
With no hesitation I let my friends follow Lacey first, since I knew I dragged them into this predicament. “The EXIT” robot followed behind us just “The Official” and his team knocked down the door. Lacey and “The EXIT” robot latched the ceiling panel closed in the tunnel and then we started our escape route, beneath what I considered a cold driven manufacturer of robots, both inside and out.
“How did you find out about this passageway?” I asked my sister.
“I was imprisoned in a room, underneath ‘The Official’s’ laboratory where he designed his robots,” Lacey said as she led the way through the dark tunnel, all of us with our flashlights pointed forward,” So I searched the walls for an opening. I knew that there had to be an escape route in an enormous base such as this since I discovered “The Move” had one.”
“How did you find that out?” I asked just as the tunnel began to rise like a steep hill, getting narrower by the moment.
“Because there was one beneath my room,” Lacey explained as we headed to the end of this underground path,” That’s what ‘The Official’ used to take me, that led out to the sea. And that’s what he did before when you thought you had defeated him last time on ‘The Move.’ He used an EXIT robot to spy upon the tunnels beneath the island.”
Soon the clues began to fit together of my sister’s abduction, where at the top of the tunnel I could see a streak of white light, so fine and clear, that I hoped would lead us to freedom and back to our ship. But I had to ask, “How did you know this was the tunnel that led to the observatory?”
“The Official’ and his team didn’t know, but I was hiding a tiny compass,” Lacey then pulled out a pebbled size compass out of her pocket, held it up in front of her flashlight so I could see it. She explained, “It allowed me to keep track of where “The Invitation” was. So, wherever the compass led me, I followed it.”
“Why is it so small? What happened?” I asked.
“It was an invention our mother was working on since our other devices were hand-sized. She called them ‘obvious to the enemy’ which was why they were destroyed on Heirloom Island,” Lacey explained when we stepped outside into the brisk Arctic air. She stood still and so did we as she searched around for ‘The Official.’ She continued, “Our mother had hoped it would ‘disguise our patents’ from ‘The Officials.’ She wanted me to keep one, in case of situations like this such as the emergency EXIT ship. “
Now as our first intended getaway had worked so far, next we were to find “The EXIT” ship and fly back to “The Move.” Somehow Lacey must’ve known our ship was hidden and I knew the only way she could’ve tracked it was with her tiny compass.
For some reason I had high expectations that the illumination I saw was the North star Polaris, somehow stretching its’ energy across space. But this radiance was only the blinding rotating security lights that blocked our planned escape route out of the base. I held on tight to the key and “The Invitation” in a way so that “The Lock” was concealed from my opponent’s view. Xavier was behind me on my right side and Ian behind on my left while Lacey stood beside me on my right and “The EXIT” robot to my left. The hope I had just dissipated into thin air as I faced the biggest threat in my life.
“The Official’ stopped us with his team and chuckled,” What are your plans now kids?”
The four of us didn’t say a word, just as frozen as the land that surrounded us.
“Don’t think you are going to make it to your ship,” The Official warned.
I wanted to run. But I my legs were too numb. I believed they had morphed back to being human.
“Give me “The Invitation,” ‘The Official’ demanded as he struck my hand with his fist.
But I struggled back and forth, shifting “The Invitation” in four different directions as if I was trying to stop “The Official” from scoring his goal. But I knew I was no match for this relentless foe from my home planet. So I put it behind me, hoped that Xavier or Ian would sense my signal, without having to speak, but neither of them understood and I believed they were just as terrified as I was.
“I’ll hold onto it for you,” my sister said, just as I turned around to toss “The Invitation” to her and the key to “The Lock.” “The Official” stopped his fight, only when I realized it was the Lacey robot that took both “The Invitation” and the key not my flesh and blood sister, who was shoved to the side by the Lacey robot. The Lacey robot handed “The Invitation” to her master, “The Official.”
The “Official” clenched ‘The Invitation” and the key in his hands, just as a clever smile crossed his face, and he ran along with his team and the Lacey robot towards another tunnel, opposite to where we had emerged before. My sister said it was a short cut to the observatory. But just as our opponents started to enter the tunnel, a beam of red light traveled from the sky and surrounded the determined enemies.
“The Official” was angry.
Yet his eyes were glazed in fear.
My father’s long-term project flew overhead. A large triangular ship with two smaller triangular thrusters at the back.
But this time there was another ship connected to it, long and cylinder shaped.
The ship landed, and the hatch opened.
EXIT ships hovered above.
This time my father stepped out and said to ‘The Official,’ “You are under arrest. Including your team. You will be a prisoner in my nation on our planet.”
“The Official” threw “The Invitation,” but I caught before it fell to the ground. The key was still attached to the “The Lock.” I twisted “The Lock” shut and folded “The Invitation” in half.
Along with the EXIT robots, ‘The Official,” his team and all his robots were escorted inside the cylinder attachment of the long-term project.
“Are we flying to our planet?’ I asked as I strapped myself in my assigned seat.
“Part way. “
“When did you get that idea for a prisoner’s ship?”
“It’s fairly new,” my father answered as he prepared for take-off,” We designed it to get a suspect such as him and his team.”
We flew up in the air, above the once functioning base. It was now abandoned and dead, maybe someday to be discovered by explorers, who would explain to the world, that the earth was not alone in the universe.
My sister sat beside me. I mentioned to her, “Your twin is going to prison.”
“That twin is someone I don’t want to be ever,” Lacey cried, but she wasn’t sad. She only sighed with happiness,” It pays to be good. The universe has no room for villains like “The Official.’”
Just as the long-term project entered the porthole, the top of the triangle that separated Heirloom Island from the “Sound” where I thought I lived took us to the direction of our planet. My father explained that when we reached the edge of the Milky Way, the prisoner’s ship would detach. ‘The Official’ and his team would be escorted back to our planet by a fleet of EXIT ships.
“Is ‘The Official’ going to return?” I asked just as we reached interstellar space.
“No,” my father answered,” He will stay in prison for a long time.”
“Could he ever appeal his decision?” I asked,” And when would that be?”
“We don’t know,” my father tried not to twist the truth, but only complimented me, “You are one step closer to being ‘The Dealer’.”
“Can I start now?’ I asked knowing “The Dealer” was my father’s job, as he recycled parts from planets to make vessels to sail across the universe.
“First you must graduate high school and then we will send you off.”
“That long?” I asked.
“To you it may be,” my father admitted, but only said,” To a parent it will fly by.”
Then we reached the end of the Milky Way, where the prisoner ship was released. It then coasted to the Andromeda galaxy, just a speck of silver light.
My father turned the ship around. The cosmos passed by us like raging fire.
“Is ‘The Lock’ constellation my imagination?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“I guess I’ll see it when I’m dreaming.”
“Your own illusion Noah.”
I didn’t want to admit to it that I had survived.
These stories all narrated by a reptile being such as me.
Maybe it was my own fiction after all.