Chapter 5: A New Dawn

Chapter 5: A New Dawn

A Chapter by Reese P. Holmes

Charlie spent the rest of the outing being unusually quiet, yet the group was not worse for wear because of it. After consuming about half an entire large plain pizza by himself, the spaceman patted his rounded belly, sitting back contentedly. Most of the group found his blissful face to be quite amusing and chuckled quietly to themselves. Even Nicole eventually began to calm down. After having finished her cry, she couldn't help frequently yawning, and when Pen cleared a small portion of the table for his head and arms and began drifting into slumber, discussions began as to where they would go for the night.

Charlie enthusiastically offered, even going so far as to raise his hand, but fortunately for Nicole and Pen, Sarah laughed sweetly at him, her straight hair gliding back into her face no sooner than she swept it out of her eyes. “You're really going to make Nicole stay in your sweaty man cave? No, she can stay with me. I've got an extra bedroom because I'm between roommates, remember?”

Nicole's eyes widened optimistically. “It'll be a sleepover, kind of like old times! ... But what about Pen? He doesn't have anywhere to go.” Sarah combed her fingers through her hair as she contemplated the strange, unkempt man sleeping at the table with her hazel eyes. “Well, uh of course he can stay too, at least for the night.”

The group disbanded and the near unconscious alien was ushered to Sarah's car. Whereas Charlie's was red, old, loud, broken down and land bound, hers was green, new, quiet (much like her), functioning and flew. It even had a tasteful little kitten and flower decal on the left side rear window. The spaceman slept like a baby through the whole ride and Nicole nearly followed suit, but maintained wakefulness through pure leftover anxiety.

Once the ladies arrived, Nicole turned around from the shotgun seat and shook the alien's leg. “Hey, come on sleepy head. It's time to wake up.” Pen let out a lethargic groan, still quite fast asleep. Sarah got out of the car and opened his door. “Is he a heavy sleeper?” Nicole got out and stood beside her. “I have no idea. Nothing would surprise me about him at this rate.”

This earned a worried look from the shy blond. Nicole grabbed and held dear Sarah's hand while vigorously shaking her head. “No no no, nothing bad. It's just like, after tonight, well, I've found out he's quite a unique individual is all. Actually it's kind of more of a good thing than a bad thing.” Sarah's wide hazel eyes stared, unblinking. “You mean like, he's just kind of weird? But not creepy weird?” Nicole licked her upper wisdom tooth in reflection. “Yeah, actually. That's kind of exactly it.” Sarah snorted. “I wonder if he's ticklish.”

Nicole smirked mischievously. “I don't know. Hey Pen! Wake up or I'll tickle you!” This prompted no response, so she carried out her threat. “Tickle tickle!” Sarah shielded a titter behind her hand. “Okay, I don't think he's ticklish.” Pen slept on, unaware.

“Damn it!” Nicole switched from tickling to pinching, which caused the unconscious Pen to scratch himself with a little hum and the blond to frown disapprovingly, now with both hands covering her mouth. The black haired woman sighed in exasperation as she unbuckled him. “I guess we'll just have to carry him. Y'know, I'm exhausted too you jerk!”

“Are you quite sure he'll be alright? I mean, shouldn't we call an ambulance?” Sarah asked as she slung his top half into her bosom and heaved him from the armpits. Nicole frowned thoughtfully as she grabbed his legs and they began to carry him towards the building. “He's probably just exhausted. I think he's been through a bit more than I have, if you'll believe it.” Sarah lifted a brow, but changed the subject. “He's a lot heavier than I thought," she grunted. “He looks like he barely weighs anything!” Nicole huffed in agreement. “Yeah! Jeez, it's like he's carrying around weights in his pockets.”

They finally got Pen into the apartment and slung him onto the couch. Both young women rubbed aching arms, backs and shoulders before cracking up in laughter simultaneously. Nicole pointed at the sleeping figure as she collapsed into a recliner. “I can't believe he didn't wake up at all! It's just my luck.” Sarah's laughter faded and she patted her friend on the head in earnest. “Don't worry; you'll be fine. I'm here for you, and you've got a place to stay as long as you need one.” Nicole smiled, catching her breath. “Thanks.”

Sarah began to head for the closet to set up the spare bedroom, but Nicole reached out and grabbed her friend's delicate peach arm. “No, I'm just going to sleep on the recliner for tonight.” Sarah turned back to face her again. “Are you sure?”

“I'm sure. It's really comfortable anyway, and I'm so tired I could even sleep standing up.”

Nicole awoke from a dreamless sleep at around 11am in reaction to a horrible electronic buzzing. She peeked her eyes open as the incessant noise destroyed any hope of her returning to slumber. It was the entryway. Someone wanted to be let inside.

She couldn't even remember when she'd fallen asleep or how long it took her-- Reality seeped into her brain and she nearly ejected from her seat to view the status of the odd man sleeping on the couch beside her. A small, gray, furry lump arose from her lap, revealing itself to be Sarah's cat Jackie as she stretched her little furry paws out onto the arm of the recliner. Nicole ruefully pet her back in attempts to placate her, but she hopped off with a little purr, heading towards the kitchenette.

Nicole half expected there to be no space man, as if the previous night were only a strange dream, but there he was, closed eyes adorning long lashes, cheeks freckled and stubbly, pink mouth small and slightly ajar, steadily breathing in and out. He looked human as anyone, in fact, more human than some, and yet from what he said the previous night, he was no Earthling, nor was he even from this galaxy, so how could it be? She just couldn't know. Did he actually say those things? Was she really attacked by some sort of space alien? Maybe her house was still there and this was just a sleepover. Maybe she accidentally consumed shrooms and this guy was just some weird homeless dude, or maybe it was all real and she had to somehow make a new life, starting today.

A semi-conscious and disheveled Sarah dressed in a modest pink night gown and bunny slippers, coffee in hand, shuffled past Nicole with a moan and over to the buzzer, roughly pressing the button and activating the video feed, answering with a subdued yet angry “what do you want?”

Charlie's voice could be heard, no mistaking it, replying in an apologetic tone. “I'm sorry; I had no idea you were still sleeping.” The cute little blond rolled her eyes very visibly. “What is it Charlie?”

He cleared his throat. “It's just, I brought you all some breakfast. Can I come up?” Without replying, Sarah hit the button to buzz him in and shuffled over to her dining table.

The three of them sat at the table together consuming bacon egg and cheese bagel sandwiches as they took time to awaken and gather their strength for the day. Nicole barely touched hers as she looked over at her new friend's sleeping figure while sipping at her fragrant black coffee.

Charlie took a gulp from his morning soda. “So, how are you feeling?” Nicole frowned. “Concerned, confused, angry, completely blown away, no pun intended. Stuff like that.” The redhead confirmed each emotion with a nod of his head. “Yeah, at least you weren't actually blown away.”

“That's not it though. It's more than that.” Nicole placed her cup down and laced her fingers, gazing down at them. Sarah tilted her head. “What is it? You can tell us.” Nicole shook her head. “No, I can't! You guys will think I'm crazy. Like, legit crazy.”

“We already think you're crazy," Charlie joked. Nicole's emerald eyes shot up at him, blazing. “I'm serious! It's really important and I don't know what to do about it. I don't even know what to think about it! I don't know what to do about anything anymore.” Sarah placed a comforting hand on Nicole's arm. “We're here for you no matter what it is, just like we've always been.” Charlie looked over at the sleeping figure over in the living space. “Come on, just tell us. You know we'd never judge you.”

Nicole brushed her hair back with her fingers and pulled it into a ponytail. “Trust me, this is just as beyond you guys as it is beyond me. It's really out of this world.” Charlie sucked on a ketchup drenched finger. “You're starting to sound like me with an outdated phrase like that.” Sarah set down her beverage. “Even if we can't actually do anything to help, we can still be supportive. Like Charlie said, we'd never judge you.”

Nicole got up and sat on the edge of the sleeping man's feet, her eyes wetting. “It's not so much about me. It has more to do with him. You wouldn't believe me even if I told you. Nor am I sure I should tell you. I don't know what to do.” Sarah walked over with Nicole's coffee and handed it to her before sitting on the floor beside her. “If you don't know what to do, then wait until it becomes more clear. For now, we'll just recuperate your strength.”
Charlie huffed and pouted. “Seriously, what's so great about this guy that you're going to keep his secret from us? Especially when it's bothering you so much.” Nicole heaved a sigh, the water from her eyes fading and her cheeks pinking. “Oh my god Charlie! It's not like that!”

“Really? Because you sure acted rather smitten over him when you thought he'd died, and now you're suddenly pretending he didn't, in fact, blow up your house! Which he did! I heard you say he did!” He looked at Nicole expectantly.

“Ew Charlie! What kind of girl do you think I am?!” Nicole's upper lip curled in disgust, deflating any sense of bravery in the redhead. “You're really taking things out of context you know! I can't explain why he blew up my house, but it did save my life, and possibly many others! But I really can't explain. I just can't!”

Sarah quickly ran over to her fridge and pretended a gasp. “Oh my, we're just about out of half-and-half. Charlie, would you mind fetching some for me?” She put on her most precious face, one she knew was dangerous to wield.

“Really?" Charlie started, a little too enthusiastic. He cleared his throat. “Oh, well I know how much you two like your coffee, so I'll just go do that then.” He rushed out of the door without so much as another glance.

Sarah, smirking, walked back over to the couch, which inspired a small smile to emit from Nicole. “Thanks Sarah. I can't believe Charlie sometimes, and right now I just can't deal with it. Honestly, I think I could tell you though, if you promise not to send Pen or myself to the looney bin. Sarah despaired. “No! No I would never. I'm here for you and my lips are sealed.”

Nicole left no detail out, explaining exactly what had happened, even going so far as to expose Pen's collar and claim the large silver writing pen from his hoodie pocket to show it to her. Sarah quietly listened, her face neutral the entire time. Once Nicole finished, she watched her friend for any sort of reaction she had expected. “Well?”

The blond cautiously wrapped her arms around her torso as though giving herself a hug. “You're right. Not about me thinking you're crazy. I know you too well. Just, it is an amazing story. Difficult to grasp.” Nicole winced at the word 'story'. “I experienced it and even I'm having my doubts. In a way it's too bad that 'chameleon flatworm' or whatever he called it exploded with the house. It might have made a great discovery for mankind if we could have caught and preserved it. After of course it fried many people and caused general mayhem.”

The tip of Sarah's mouth quirked. “Yeah, but no. That would be awful. We'd have to call the men in black, and I don't have their number. That being said, perhaps we should have the government investigating this?” Nicole looked over at her spaceman and then back at her with a grimace. “What?? No way! Who knows what they'd do to him!”

“True, but at the same time, considering the possibility he is some sort of alien or from the future or both, we don't know what he could do to us. He could have foreign germs that are infecting us this very moment or introduce us to a potentially damaging sort of technology. I mean, imagine if humans could teleport! Or what if maybe he really is from the future and is lying to us, or perhaps doesn't know he's from the future and is irreparably altering the past? Maybe there's some secret government that would know how to deal with this sort of thing better than we could. And let's not forget the very slim possibility he's pulled one over on you, not that I believe it, but we shouldn't completely rule it out either. Which is not me saying I'll turn him in or anything. Gosh, I just don't know.”

Nicole poked at Pen's shoulder with the PIT device before returning it to its place in his pocket. “I don't know either. Maybe leave it up to him to decide?” Sarah placed a timid hand on his head, brushing away his unruly hair with her fingers. “Yeah, I guess so.” A nervous little giggle escaped her lips. “His hair is so soft.” Nicole snorted, elbowing Sarah gently. “Sarah! You'll wake him.” Sarah's face turned confounded. “Hey, didn't he have a terrible cut on his head last night?” Nicole looked at his forehead as Sarah searched through his hair. “Yeah, he hurt his head so bad the doctor needed to stitch him up.”

Sarah's voice wavered. “Where was that cut again? I can't find it.” Nicole peered in closer, examining exactly where she believed it should have been, finding nothing but a pale scar with partially covered stitches in it. “No. That's impossible!”

The doorbell buzzed, giving both girls the startle of their lives. Sarah shrieked, jumping back and knocking over her lamp, causing the cat to run out of the room for fear of her life. Nicole stood up rod straight, holding her hand to her chest as if that were the only thing keeping her heart from escaping. Pen turned his head toward the back of the couch with a little lip smack, but otherwise remained asleep.

Charlie barged in through the front door and walked his short legs over to the girls, leaning on the back of the couch, bag of half-and-half and doughnuts in hand. “Someone was exiting so I just let myself in. What happened to the lamp?” Sarah snorted uncharacteristically, replacing its position. “I kind of knocked it over.” He seemed satisfied with that answer and continued. “I also got some treats fresh from the bakery I passed on my way to get half-and-half.” Sarah seemed confused for a moment but then confirmed, accepting the gift graciously.

Charlie became silent for a bit, formulating his words. “While I was out, I got a call. I don't know if you're ready yet, but whenever you like you can pick up belongings that survived the blast. It sounded promising, actually.”

Nicole gazed off into space, color draining from her cheeks as she sat down at the recliner. “I don't think I'm ready to go back there right now.” Sarah snapped into friend mode. “You don't have to! How about Charlie or I go? Maybe getting some of your stuff back will help cheer you up.” Relief washed over Nicole. “You know what? Both of you go. I'll watch Pen here; I've got to make a few calls anyway.” She yanked Charlie's phone from his pocket and he shrugged. “What, you don't trust me with your stuff?” Sarah whispered in his ear and a blush formed on his face. “Oh right, yeah having a girl around may be a good idea.”

Sarah leaned in close to Nicole, keeping a suspicious eye on the spaceman. “That is, as long as you feel okay being left alone with him.” Nicole scanned the sleeping figure and looked back at Sarah. “Of course.”

“That settles that I guess.” Sarah slid towards her bedroom, slippers squeaking. “So we'll do that then! We're taking my car by the way!”

Once left alone, the buzz of Pen's strange metal collar returned to the forefront of Nicole's mind. She moved his hooded shirt until she could see it once more and absorbed the little details. There were scribbles indented into it that looked similar to the PIT device, and she assumed this must be his native language.

A thought struck her. “How does he know English??” Her heart skipped a beat. Had he been playing her for a fool after all? No, it just wasn't likely. Last night, he had a head injury, and now it was gone. That just doesn't happen, even in the best of circumstances, unless you have some sort of space DNA or something. Still, there was no way she could explain, and that was terribly unsettling. There was only one person who could, and she refused to wait for answers.
“Pen.” She lifted his eyelid and looked into his unconscious chocolate eye before watching the lid droop back closed. This process repeated several times with no success, so she got up, grabbed a glass of water and dripped it on his forehead. “Yeeah!” He shot off of the couch and fell to the floor in an inglorious heap, eyes wide and searching in confusion.

She just couldn't help but giggle at his overreaction, despite potentially being quite angry with him. “Pen! How do you know English?!”
He looked up at her cross face from the floor, mouth open. “What?” She repeated more slowly this time. “Pen? I don't get it. How could you know English if you're not from Earth?”
He attempted to stand, but being weak in the knees, only collapsed, this time into Nicole's arms, smiling brightly. “I learned it from you of course, and Charlie and the hospital staff and your friends. Charlie isn't one of your friends, right?” Nicole shrugged him back onto the couch. “How could you have learned English from me?”

Pen settled onto the couch, face twisted as though he were about to sneeze. “I'm psychic. And I'm guessing you're not.” Nicole sniffed. “No one is psychic. It doesn't exist. It's just a hoax.”
Pen's expressive eyebrows rose about as high as they could go. “Curiouser and curiouser! Oh but I must disagree with you on that. Psychic ability does in fact, exist. You see, among my kind, we all have a sort of communal consciousness. Really low level, actually. But when my kind isn't born psychic it's considered a disability.”

Nicole glowered. “Wait, are you calling me and the rest of the human race disabled??”
Pen smirked. “Not if you and I aren't the same race.” The two sat in silence, staring at one another out of curiosity. Nicole scratched her nose. “Wait, if you can really read my mind, then what am I thinking right now?”

Pen looked upwards, seeming to process something in his head. “You're overwhelmed. Angry, insecure. And a little bit excited.”
Nicole pushed her hand against Pen's face. “Ew! Stop that! Just, ew!” Muffled, Pen replied “stop what”? Nicole let go and started picking at her long nails in irritation. “Just tell me the words I'm thinking!”

“I," he furrowed his brows, “have no idea.” She scoffed at him. “You're not really psychic.” Pen cocked his head. “I am! I told you, it's low level. I catch emotions and intentions more than words. That's quite frankly a gift I prefer not having, personally.” Nicole's face dropped. “So you really can't prove it then.”

“Well, now then I didn't say I couldn't prove it. I can understand just about any language. Can you speak cat?” Nicole snorted, amused. “No, no one can.”

“I can. I can speak to Jackie if she speaks to me first, that is if I can mimic her language, which I'm pretty sure is a cinch.” Nicole's eyes widened. “Are you for real?”

“Yeah, let me show you.” Pen crawled over to Jackie the cat, who hissed at him. He turned his head and blinked slowly as he looked away from her. She came up to him and sniffed, then rubbed herself onto him. He stood up and walked over to the cat food with her and fed her, and then she ate heartily.

Nicole walked over. “What did she say?” Pen smiled in triumph, raising a finger in the air. “First it was, 'hey you're freaking me out', then I said 'sorry', then she asked to smell me and I let her, then she asked for her food so I asked where her food was and she said she'd show me and then said thanks and-- boy am I tired.” He returned to his place on the couch and closed his eyes. “Very tired. And hungry. But more tired.”
“But that doesn't prove anything. Jackie's always hungry... Wait, how did you know her name?”
He yawned and raised a dismissing hand at her. “Because, it was what you call her. She knows that. It's her name, of course she knows it.”
Nicole's mouth unhinged. “Ah, of course. Right. Er, does she like her name?” Pen shrugged. “I never asked, but I've got the feeling she's pretty neutral about it.” He yawned again and closed his eyes, drifting while still sitting up. “Not done healing, can't stay up much longer. Very energy intensive.”
Nicole brushed his wild hair out of his eyes. “How did that big cut on your forehead heal so quickly?” His eyes remained closed, and Nicole became nearly convinced he'd simply fallen asleep on her, but then he licked his lips. “Nanomachines. Guess you don't have those either? That's why I'm exhausted. They're energy intensive while in repair mode.”
“Oh. No, no I don't have those in me. Go back to sleep then. Sorry I woke you.” Nicole silently gaped at him.
“Okay," he murmured half there already. Even if this was all some sort of hoax, it certainly was at least an entertaining one. She wanted so badly to believe in him that it hurt.

© 2014 Reese P. Holmes

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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