Chapter 3: … Mightier Than the Sword?

Chapter 3: … Mightier Than the Sword?

A Chapter by Reese P. Holmes

Nicole lifted a brow. “Pen? You expect me to believe that? That's gotta be the dumbest name I've ever heard.” The spaceman shrugged his shoulders. “You're one to talk, 'Nicole'.” For that he earned a punch in the shoulder. “Ow! Why must you feel the need to be so violent?” Nicole rolled her eyes and took him arm and arm. “Let's just get some food. I'm starving. So, where are we going exactly?” An EMT smiled, clearing his throat. “I'm sorry to interrupt your celebration, but you two aren't going anywhere just yet.” A stretcher had already been lined up and the EMT patted on it, looking at Pen. “With a head injury like that, I'm afraid I must insist.”

Pen began wiping at the drying blood on his head. “No! No. I just... I'm afraid of hospitals. I really don't want to go.” Nicole took his hand and smiled. “Excuse us just a second.” She led him away from earshot. “It's okay Spaceman.” She then leaned in and whispered “unless there's some sort of futuristic technology within you or like, you have weird space genes or something.” Pen's eyes squinted as he whispered back. “I'm not from the future! And I have no idea what 'space genes' are supposed to be.” Nicole set her hands on her hips. “Good then, it shouldn't be a problem. Go with the nice man.”

Pen twiddled his thumbs. “I can't.” Nicole watched curiously. “Okay, why not then?” Pen smiled sheepishly. “The truth? Promise not to tell anyone.” Nicole bit her lip and nodded. “Give me the whole truth.” The spaceman raised a brow and sighed. “I'm a fugitive.”

“A fugitive? What did you do?”

Pen furrowed his brow. “I'm actually not quite sure, but my captors were making me build weapons for the war. I stalled as long as I could until I made the Portable Interdimensional Teleportation Device device to aid in my escape.” Nicole looked up at him, horrified. “You mean you're a prisoner of war? Where are you from?” She imagined a fellow from some secret moon base. The spaceman took a step back in surprise at her concern. “Yes, you could say that. I'm from Holborgon. At least, that's where they were keeping me.”

The young woman stared blankly. “Where?” Pen's mouth gaped. “What do you mean 'where'? The mainland.” Nicole shrugged her shoulders emphatically. “That means nothing to me! Can you please explain?” Pen felt his heart leap. “I don't understand how you wouldn't know. Holborgon is our planet of origin. All people from the colonies know that. Something's not right here.” Nicole brushed her hair from her face. “I'll say. We're not a colony. Not that I know of. Are you sure you're not from the future?”

Pen glared. “You can't travel to the past. There's a very small chance you could theoretically travel to the future at a rate faster than we are right now, but it's dangerous and you'd never be able to come back. So, uh, where am I exactly then if not in New Holborgon?”

Nicole cracked up. “You're for real? I can't believe I'm having this conversation. You're in New York, United States, on the planet Earth in the Solar System in the Milky Way Galaxy. Any of that sound familiar?”

Pen frowned in all seriousness, rubbing his hands together in his nervousness, causing his wrist binds to clang together. “No, none of that sounds even remotely familiar. I guess then perhaps I need not worry about being a fugitive if I'm in an entirely different galaxy.”

Nicole couldn't stop herself from laughing, despite her concern. “I can't believe this! Are you seriously some sort of alien??”

“Well technically I suppose I am.” He stared at her with a new profound sense of fascination and she watched right back, doing her best not to collapse in laughter. The EMT walked up to the two. “Excuse me. Hi, I highly recommend you two get examined.”Nicole nodded slowly and firmly in agreement. “Yes, I think that would be good.” Pen looked to his new friend from another galaxy for assurance and she squeezed his shoulder, which visibly relaxed him and he nodded as well.

As soon as they arrived at the hospital in town they were separated. Pen had been strapped down to protect his head (against his wishes) and was wheeled into an immaculate room filled with machinery. “Excuse me, but isn't that technology a little rudimentary?” A tired lady with her hair tied in a loose brown ponytail shrugged halfheartedly. “It's top of the line, I assure you. Now don't blink.” Pen blinked. “Perhaps I've underestimated it. This is some sort of identifying technology, correct? Simple, but effective.”

The nurse sighed as though half asleep and took his hand, placing his finger into the scanner. “I'm glad you like it. Don't blink.” She took a picture of his eye and keyed in a few things. He winced as the computer searched for his identity, holding his breath. The monitor beeped with the error message “Identity not on file. Create new?”

The lady squinted her hazel eyes at the computer and then looked questioningly at Pen. “Ah, let's try that one more time.” Pen reluctantly placed his finger into the device once more and watched again, hoping for and then obtaining the same results. He breathed a sigh of relief. The lady loosed her hair and tied it back up again. “Ah, erm, are you not on file?”

Pen smiled and nodded, relaxing his body against the cot. The nurse rose a brow. “Okay, since you're not on file, you must fill out a form. We're going to have to make a file for you.” The escapee frowned. “A file? How does that work?” She held up a finger. “One moment. I'll go get the form and then I'll help you with any questions.”

As he waited, the doctor, an elderly gentleman with squinted eyes and short slicked salt and pepper hair came in. “Hi, you can call me Doctor Pendleton. I'll be giving you a checkup to make sure you don't have any serious injuries.” The doctor began to look him over, inserting a mini flashlight in each eye. “What's your name?” Pen tried to shake his head, but it was still strapped in place. “I guess it's Pen now.”

Pendleton raised a brow with a little smirk. “Pen? I used to be called that in high school. What was your name before?” The patient bit his lip, trying to keep himself calm. He felt claustrophobic strapped to that little bed.

“You used to be called Pen too? See! And Nicole thought it was a weird name.” The doctor crossed his arms expectantly, so he stopped stalling. “Ah, before? I'm really not sure. It's just not coming to me.” The doctor frowned. “Do you have a history of memory problems?” His patient shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno. I usually don't remember what I had for breakfast. Or what I'm about to have for dinner.”

Pendleton began a series of other little tests, likely to check for any other blatant injuries. “Ah-huh. So, could you remember your name before you hit your head?” The escapee seemed unsure. “I don't know.”

“Alright. So I noticed you are shackled. Why is that?” The doctor inspected his wrists and began to treat the raw skin underneath, which caused the Spaceman to inhale sharply. “I don't remember much. I don't want to talk about it.”

“Okay, but you do realize I'm only here to help you, right? I need to know as much as you can tell me.” The doctor's kind face smiled in a trustworthy fashion, forcing Pen to squirm in discomfort from more than his stinging treatment. “I... remember being held against my will.”

“How long have these been on you?” The doctor examined them closely, careful not to damage delicate skin. The escapee frowned, his face despairing. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out for a long time. Doctor Pendleton waited patiently with the look of a concerned parent on his face, only pausing to push up his spectacles and then returning to his calm watch.

Pen's voice shuddered, the smallest whisper. “A long time, but I can't remember anything.”

“Did you escape?”

“Part of me did.”

A sort of quiet moment came after. The doctor seemed moved by his display of emotion, granting him a moment of respectful pity. “And that, on your neck. I've never seen anything like it.” The escaped prisoner startled as though returning from a deep thought. “Oh! Ah... It's part of my binds. I don't think you'll be able to open it.” Pendleton dragged his finger across the collar. “It feels like it's made of metal. And what's that static?”

The tired nurse returned with a digital pen and a computerized pad containing the form. Doctor Pendleton grinned at her kindly. “Jenna, did you manage to I.D. him?” She puckered her lips, looking at Pen with a barely hidden suspicious glance. “No, he's not on the system.”

“Oh, well that's no good. He doesn't seem to remember who he is.” Pen shifted in his bed. “Is it a really bad thing?” The doctor turned to him with a reassuring smile. “It'll be okay. We'll figure something out, put you in the system, submit a few forms, and then time will tell.”

“Nicole Serrano?”

Nicole raised her green eyes to glance at the nurse who came into her room. “Yes?” This was the same nurse she'd seen before, a rather plump Hispanic woman with brilliant red lips and long black hair tied back into a bun. “You've got a clean bill of health! I'm going to discharge you shortly. You've just got to sign this.” The nurse provided Nicole with a digital pad full of disclaimers and discharge information and she quickly read it then provided her signature. The nurse took her form. “Oh and, by the way, the man you came in with is staying in room 302. He can have visitors but he's still under observation.”

Nicole smiled worriedly at 'observation'. “Thanks.” She got ready and headed over to her new friend. What did she mean by observation? I hope he's okay. Maybe he had weird space genes after all. She found the room with little trouble and peeked her head in. Much to her dismay there was a police officer there and she was questioning the poor fool who accidentally blew up her house. He simply sat there on the bed like a deer caught in headlights.

The officer quickly looked over her notes before looking at her suspect. “Okay, I think that's all for now. If anything changes, you've got my card, so give me a call." Nicole released her held breath in a relieved sigh. Apparently he wasn't getting arrested, at least for now. The officer wrote on a pad of paper and handed it to the alien. "Here is an order that you register with Immigration. You should apply for asylum and you'd better do so as soon as possible, otherwise you could end up in jail or deported. I believe your case can be expedited; here's the business card of a friend of mine, Antonio Rodriguez. Schedule an appointment with him.”

The poor spaceman looked awfully confused, but he nodded anyway. As Nicole inched closer, she noticed he had stitches adorning his hairline and a hospital gown rather than the tattered prisoner's robes. A set of street clothes was folded in his lap, ready to be changed into. The officer turned to face Nicole. She had brown eyes and tawny skin with a beautifully maintained smile. Her hair was chemically processed, curling in a well behaved way around her oval head. “Hello. Did you come to visit him?” Nicole rubbed her arm and fixed her own hair self consciously. “Yes. I wanted to see if he's okay.”

The officer bade she sat at the only chair in the room, and she did so, careful to be as graceful as her exhausted body would allow. As she got a closer look at Pen, she also noticed his wrist shackles were no longer there and instead his wrists were bound in bandages, but his collar was still there and buzzing softly in the otherwise quiet room. The officer pointed at Pen. “So do you know his name? Where he comes from?” Nicole shifted in her seat. The officer wouldn't believe what really happened. Luckily, that's not the question she was asked. “He told me his name is Pen. I have no idea where he comes from. I just met him tonight, after he'd hit his head.” She looked at the alien to see if she'd done well but he didn't acknowledge either way. The officer looked from one to the other, clearing her throat. "What was he doing in your house? I heard you had a gun to his head?"

Pen chuckled at this, prompting the officer to give him a queer look. He wiped the smile off of his face and looked down at the clothing he'd been given. Nicole suppressed the urge to roll her eyes at him and instead focused on her wording. "He somehow got into my house with a head injury. He seemed very confused, but I was scared, since it was night and I was otherwise alone. I didn't know him, but he turned out to be very friendly."

The cop chewed on her lip, seeming perplexed. "One more question; do you know why your house blew up?"

Nicole didn't have to be dishonest; she had no idea. "No. It was some sort of accident. Pen saved my life by getting me out before it happened, and miraculously he turned up fine too." The officer hummed quietly, mediating between sympathy and professionalism. "Do you have someplace to stay tonight?"

Nicole sucked on her cheeks. "Uhhh, probably. I have friends. And I'll make sure Pen stays out of trouble too." Pen's eyebrows lifted and he smiled hopefully. Nicole smiled back. I did say I needed a pet earlier. Mom always told me to be careful what I ask for.

"How can I reach you?" The officer prepared to input information into her database. Nicole shook her head. "I'm not connected, but I'm sure my friend Charlie will know where I'm staying." Nicole cited his address, cell, and email.

The officer finished her typing and returned her computer to her pocket. “Thank you for your time. Both of you, stay in town. Pen? Stay out of trouble okay? If you have any questions or any revelations, give me a call.” Pen nodded and flashed the officer's business card as if confirming and with a tilt of her hat, the police officer was gone. Nicole sighed. “I thought you were in trouble or something.”

Pen shook his head. “Nope. Just need to get asylum. I guess it means your country will protect me.” Nicole couldn't help but laugh about the idea of the United States protecting a space alien from other space aliens.

© 2014 Reese P. Holmes

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Author's Note

Reese P. Holmes
This part is a bit of a lull in the action, granting the characters time to get to know one another and therefore giving you some time to get to know them. Let me know what you think of the pacing, descriptions, characters and so forth. Again, as usual, feel free to be very honest. This is a rough draft.

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Added on January 20, 2014
Last Updated on January 20, 2014
Tags: Singularity Effect, War, Aliens, Teleportation, Space travel, Adventure, Action