You bring your own destiny, these people had said. I couldn’t have known my destiny or told anyone what it was yet these people had read mine as if it were a book. How had they known? No matter how carefully they could have researched my past, they could not have known most of what they did. Could they possibly be psychic? That would have been just as bizarre as what they claimed to be. But how else could they have known? I wasn’t a celebrity. My life hadn’t been in the tabloids. I wasn’t even popular enough to cause gossip in high school much less my later life. Unless, of course, you could be considered popular by virtue of the love (not!) of ex-husbands, their families and their children.

I was babbling to myself. I knew it. What they had told me and what they had shown me was proof of what they were but somehow it was too much of a stretch for my pragmatic mind. I wanted to believe they had slipped some sort of drug into my drink or hypnotized me as a lark for some of my friends who were waiting to laugh when I told them of my new discovery. But if it were a lark for my friends, why would they have cautioned me about maintaining a silence? Why would they have mentioned my credibility for the task they needed me to perform? Why, in God’s name, had I been chosen?

But they had told me why. I was single, currently unattached to anyone but my two high school age children and my Myna bird. I was respectable; a college graduate, owner of my own one-person business, yet quiet and able to change careers in mid-stride.

The changing careers part would be no problem for me. The business had long ago become less than my dream of life. It had served it’s purpose in allowing me to stay home and raise my children, to work evenings after the kids were in bed – or in recent years – after the sporting events and school plays had ended. I certainly wouldn’t mind a new focus for my life. And certainly, if what they said were true, my physical and mental health as well as that of my children depended on my buying into their story and working with them.

I had never believed in little green men. They had assured me I didn’t need to. Many were born a beautiful navy blue. Some were born other colors. There were more colors to who they were than hair colors of humans – or if they were to be believed – than human/alien mixes.

My hands were shaking as I reached into my purse, trying to find my car keys. I told myself that was proof of having been slipped drugs. I was lying to myself. These people (?) were as believable as my lack of keys. I heard the door open behind me and I whirled to face him, as afraid as any movie heroine could have been in the latest thriller.

He smiled gently at me.  “You forgot your jacket,” he held it out exuding non-violence, friendly co-existence. “You do not need to be frightened. By tomorrow, if you have decided against working with us, you will understand the necessity of silence on your part. You will not harm us, and even if you would, it is against our culture and our destinies, to be able to harm you.”

I felt as if I might go insane. I wanted to believe – and did believe – what he said and yet I was still afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of the unfamiliar that looked so like a human but who wasn’t. I was paralyzed with my fear. Yet, somewhere inside me I had to get the strength to lift my arm and take the jacket. They keys were in the pocket.

He stepped to me, reached down for my hand, lifted it and placed the jacket inside.  “Thank you for coming.” And then he was gone back into the house. I grabbed my keys and with trembling hands, unlocked the door, jumping inside as if pursued by a thousand furies and – just to keep things on an even keel – drove away in the same manner.

Slowly my heart stopped pounding, my hands stopped shaking and my need for speed lessened to allow me to become a law-abiding driver once more. Too bad my mind couldn’t slow down as well. For once, driving wasn’t calming me as it did after fights with the kids, the ex-husband and the bill collectors. And if my gas gauge was any indication, I wasn’t going to be driving long without stopping either voluntarily or involuntarily. I preferred voluntarily. Running out of gas is not one of my favorite life experiences. They would have known that had I asked them. The thought jarred me.

There was enough gas in this car to get me home. I couldn’t face people right now, not even just to pay for gasoline. Home seemed like a beacon of light, security and serenity. This was the same place from which I had happily departed three hours ago after disagreements with all three of the aforesaid groups currently alternating between making my life miserable and giving meaning to it. But there at home was that so-called career that I had denigrated just minutes ago; that dull, repetitive, mindless entering of data into the computer and then clicking on send to have it placed in the main home computer. While doing this, my mind could be washed free of all emotions and just become a machine typing – endlessly typing – meaningless figures which only the computer at the home office could separate and make into sense for those faceless clients of mine.

I walked through the door with relief in spite of my daughter glaring at me from the couch where she sat watching television with her brother. Obviously, she was still angry that I would not let her go out with the purple-haired boy and his nose ring. I wasn’t even willing to be reasonable about it after I learned that the purple hair would wash out in the shower and the nose ring was fake just for the evening’s outing. Any place whose normal attire was purple hair and a nose ring was no place I wanted my daughter to go and anyone willing to sport that style was no one I wanted my daughter to go anywhere with. She wasn’t feeling forgiving. Especially with her brother contentedly using the $10 bill he had won in his bet with her as a fan. She was learning that when big brothers were willing to put $10 on the line, they should be listened to.

“I’m going upstairs to work if you need me,” not that either of them cared or bothered to answer me. Two hours – three hours – sometime into the fourth hour, I was finally calm, rational. I lay on my bed and thought of what they had said.

If they were to be believed, sometime in the 17th century, a spacecraft from their world had come to ours just to observe. The group had been careful to stay away from actual human contact. They had come only to observe and learn of other species. It was one of their first treks. They had collected their data on as many of the species of our planet as possible and proceeded to attempt to leave. Their craft had crashed. Verbal contact took 25 years of earth time. Getting here had taken 100. Time had not been a problem for them since their species lived to be approximately 300 earth years. It only became a problem when a rescue ship was needed. They had landed in what was now modern day England. As time when on, it was obvious that they could not remain hiding forever and so plans had been made to camouflage themselves. Their general shape being similar to ours, and their technology significantly more advanced, they had proceeded to give themselves ‘plastic surgery’. A lovely idea which proved to have it’s drawbacks.

For one thing, their children were immediately protected from the general populace’s prejudices against witches and demons by a surgery to make them appear human. As a result, they began to look upon humans as beautiful in their eyes and worthy of mating. Their culture did not allow force of any kind against anything and so, when talk didn’t stop their offspring, marriage was allowed. The offspring were intelligent enough to realize that any children born of these unions would be in serious trouble if they came into this world blue or any other color not generally acceptable to the populace and that color included brown – which could be found in many different shades from tan to almost black – in the human species but which, for some reason unknown to the visitors, wasn’t acceptable to the smaller group of whites. Concerned about offspring, the group decided that the birth of all children born to these unions should be attended by one of their own as a physician. The human mothers could be given medication to ensure their sleepy state at the birth of the child so that the child could be immediately cared for by them. The human fathers could simply be told to stay out until after the birth. Simple and effective and very seldom needed. It seemed that – similar as our species were – there were enough differences that most couples were unable to have children at all and those who were seldom, if ever, brought a pregnancy to term. Babies brought to term had significant complications but their doctors had been able to work out the problems for those children in most cases.

By the time the rescue ship had arrived, many of those born to these unions had no idea they were not fully human. The group kept close track of who they were and what they were doing but felt that their human half or quarter or whatever, could not be trusted with the advanced technology of the visitors. Doctors continued to monitor the offspring and protect as needed without anyone’s knowledge.

The rescue ship found themselves in a dilemma. They wished to take the group with them but couldn’t very well let the human group know who they were or leave the potential offspring unprotected. Their species believed firmly that any time you deliberately harmed another creature, whether physically or emotionally, that harm caused you to become mentally unbalanced. The more often you did this, the worse your condition would become. I guess with humans, you eat too much, you get fat. For them, you do too many bad things, you get psycho. It’s possible the human race has the same problem but just hasn’t figured it out yet.

The situation was saved by several who pointed out that they would be dead by the time the 100 year return trek was completed and they might as well stay. Others in the group were fascinated by earth and wanted to stay and help. The group staying was large enough to track and protect potential offspring. Everyone was happy. Everyone remained happy until approximately 50 years after the rescue ship had headed towards home. By then, it had become apparent that the mixture of human and alien had more than just a superficial difference. Other physical and mental differences were now showing themselves.

They assured me that many of what we thought were cancers were, in fact, abnormal growth of the two mixtures. Furthermore, the offspring were not being trained as the alien culture would have trained them and human aggressiveness was causing serious mental illnesses in some of the progeny. The homebound space craft did a u-turn in space and came back to help fix things.

All this trekking back and forth had eaten up time and it was now close to the 20th century and many of the original group had died of old age.  They had continued to keep excellent records of who was who but the group was becoming quite large and almost unmanageable. As the degree of alien mixture at birth decreased, the likelihood of pregnancies coming to term had also increased. The baby boom in the 20th century put things completely out of control. Of course, the rest of humanity had gotten out of control as well. By now, the aliens on earth were terrified that humans would destroy the planet before they could escape. But they dared not leave the offspring unprotected lest they face mental illness of their own. Careful research allowed them to find ways of changing the DNA in the offspring back to complete human form, thereby bring them hope that they could soon fix all the problems and leave.

Secretly, they began taking human/alien mixes and operating. The operations themselves were successful but further side-effects came about. The humans, not having been told what was happening, were remembering alien ‘abductions’ with terror. (Surgeries had a way of causing pain even when done by an advanced technology). Not to mention many of them were being labeled nutcases and even committed to mental institutions. A change in plan had to be formulated. They could not deliberately cause harm to their human offspring.

Hence, they approached me. It seems that they and I had distant relatives in common. I was one whom they would need to ‘fix’ so as to avoid cancer or mental health problems. Considering that cancer had killed half my aunts, uncles and grandparents, I was willing to concede that point. I also knew that mental illness had reared it’s ugly head more than once in my family tree. So what did they want? They wanted to give me the operation with my consent. They hoped to avoid the terror of alien ‘abduction’ for me and allow me to become healthy. Then, if all went well, they wanted me to explain this to others, introduce them to the aliens as friends and convince them to volunteer for the surgery. Hopefully, before the rest of the human race blew up earth with them still on it.

Lying there on my bed, I was able to gain a measure of calm. Not only that but I realized more questions needed answers. During my first visit, they had demonstrated enough proof to let me know they were something really strange and to scare the  dickens out of me. It had scared the wits out of me was well. I hadn’t asked questions I needed them to answer.

I reached for the phone to call them and tell them I was coming over now – at 2 a.m. – for some real answers. Then I decided to ditch the phone and go straight to the mental telepathy thing they insisted they had.

“Okay, you creepy little alien guys, I’m coming over. I’ll be there in 15 minutes. Be ready for quiz time,” I thought. Then just to give them a sporting chance, I thought the sentence in a shout.

Fifteen minutes later, one of my so-called distant relatives answered the door with a smile just before I had a chance to ring the bell.
“Welcome back,” he greeted me, “we put the coffee on as soon as you let us know you were coming. Would you like to come in the kitchen and join us?”

I nodded a little dumbfounded. I hadn’t really wanted to believe that they knew I was coming. It left me tongue-tied. My relative was not bothering to hide his non-human qualities now that I knew who he really was and was quietly floating towards the kitchen. One of my questions returned to me.

“Stop,” I ordered.

He turned complacently and settled the two inches to the floor.

“No,” I instructed, ‘go back up again.”

He smiled and floated back up the two inches and waited for me. I knelt to run my hand all around the floor looking for devices magicians use to trick people. Failing to find any, I ran my hand under his feet. As I did so I felt the light whoosh of air that kept him above the floor and watched him move up a bit as my hand slid below and then move back down once I removed it.

“Can you teach me how to do that?” I asked.

He shook his head regretfully. “I’m sorry. It’s the differences in our biological structure that allow me to do this. While we teach our young, you would not be able to do this since you breath only through your nose while we breath throughout the pores in our skin.”

“You mean your whole body breathes?”

“In a sense, yes. While humans have lungs to circulate oxygen, our bodies use a method similar to your leaves. Oxygen is taken in through openings and pumped out through a matching opening similar to your in/out doors in restaurants.”

This seemed to make sense. But then again, he could have been explaining human anatomy and I wouldn’t have known the difference. My major in college had been business. I had avoided maths, sciences and any other intellectual pursuits whenever possible. The only thing about human anatomy that had interested me had come completely formed in the male of the species. Any studying done about their anatomy was more of a hands-on type of thing.

We continued to the kitchen where our previous meeting had been held. Sure enough, the gang was all there; a pot of coffee sitting in the place of honor at the center of the table. I had been assured earlier that it was decaf as I liked it.

“So, you all got my message,” I was trying to remain nonchalant to avoid allowing myself to become scared to death about people who knew even my thoughts.

“Actually, my wife and I are the only ones who got it,” my door-answering, distant relative informed me. “Telepathy only works between those who have been with the infant prior to his third month of life and between those who have genetic backgrounds that are similar.”

“You mean none of these guys can read my thoughts?” I was just as dumbfounded to realize they had limitations as I had been earlier to think they had none.

“That is correct,” the patriarch of the group answered.

“So, what do the newlyweds do? Do you only marry your own relatives or friends who were present at birth?”  Were these guys weird or what?

“No,” a smile on the patriarch’s face let me know he didn’t need to read my mind to know my thoughts. “It is possible to exchange what you would call DNA after marriage to allow the telepathy. Actually, it is crucial since we have no mouths to communicate as humans do. Body language must do during courting. Our young our quite capable of using it well to communicate.”

“Yeah. So are ours,” I agreed, thinking of my daughter and her boyfriends.   “So introduce yourselves again.  I think I was a little out of it earlier today.”

“Quite understandable,” the patriarch agreed. “the gentlemen standing with you is your great-great uncle, whom you may call James. I am the leader of our species on your planet. You may call me William. This is my wife, Mary.” he gestured to the woman at his side.   “The couple across the table are our physicians, Tim and Deanna.   The woman at the head of the table is your uncle James’ wife, Lana.  Lana and your uncle are the group’s scientists,”  he added by way of explanation.

Lana turned an oval shaped face, framed with blond hair and decorated by two enormous and beautiful blue eyes in my direction. “I am delighted you have returned. Your uncle and I have a son who should know his relatives. He has had none to talk with since coming here. It is most important he have someone to learn to communicate with if he is to be able to speak with other relatives when we return. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure,” I agreed hastily. I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed again. A brief baby visit could only make things better, I thought. I thought wrong.

The infant lying in the crib was a dark, navy blue that seemed to shine from within. Even though it had no mouth or nose, the look of the eyes as they searched my face were welcoming. And I learned that babies of all species can send out the ‘pick me up’ body language message. Once the initial shock at the baby’s color had past and even thought the rest of it wasn’t what I expected, I realized the child was beautiful. It’s eyes were enormous in its head, the navy blue gradually dimming to a gray and then white surrounding the darker blue of the eyes. It’s arms were only the length of what our arms would be if they stopped at the elbow. The arm ended in a three pronged shape which must have been their fingers. The child had no legs but had a body which rounded as ours does.

“Talk to him,” Lana encouraged me. “Not with your mouth,” she stopped me as I started to speak. “Use your mind. Look into his eyes and touch his face.  Then think.  He will hear you.  He has not yet learned to speak in return but you will know if he hears.”

Fascinated by this system, it didn’t occur to me to ask how I would know but I soon found out. You are a beautiful little thing. I don’t understand how or why I feel like that since you don’t look at all like my babies. Their color was more a pinkish, flesh tone. No where near as impressive as your color. The baby immediately stopped squirming with my first thought and focused on my face. His arms clasped my hand and he stared deeply into my eyes. When I stopped thinking, he squirmed again as if asking me to speak some more. I obliged him. For a good five minutes I explained to a captive audience all my confusion about what was happening today. He might not understand but he loved to hear me talk. It reminded me of my own when they were little. They had loved to hear me talk then, too. Had I known how much they would hate to hear me talk now, I would have lectured them on anything and everything I thought important until it was imprinted on their little minds while they still cared to hear me say it.
This telepathy thing was fascinating. I turned to look at Lana wondering if she could understand my thoughts as well. As I looked into her eyes, she nodded.

“So you’ve been listening to me talk to the baby?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she assured me, “that would be most impolite to listen in on other conversations. We only listen when spoken to.”

“Then how did you know I was speaking to you?” This whole thing was getting more confusing by the minute.

“You looked at me,” she sounded as confused as I felt, “so I knew that you needed to speak with me.”

“So your kind have to look at one another before you talk?”

“No,” I thought for a minute she was laughing at me. “How would we be able to talk to one another when we weren’t in the same room? We simply ask the other to open his mind. If he is willing, he does.”

Now I was losing it. If they had to ask first then how did anyone hear before asking? I looked at the baby to hide my confusion and calm myself. I guess babies of any species can be calming. I had forgotten I was talking to Lana and didn’t realize that she was listening with both her ears and her mind.

“When we are quite young, we are taught to do what is similar to knocking at your house door. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to say that we call their mind’s phone number and they answer.”

I looked again at her and decided to try a really complex question just to see if she really was reading my mind. Why, if we are not genetically related, can you hear me and if you can, can you teach me how to do this so I can hear you and speak to you as well? That ought to give her pause.

She looked at me for some time. When I still sat waiting she spoke aloud. “I tried to reach your mind but you are not in tune. I don’t know if we can teach you. The reason that I can hear you is because I have married your uncle. Our consummation of marriage is different than yours in that ours does not create offspring but creates an entire family. With the consummation, we exchange genetic material which allows us to speak to and respond to one another’s relatives.”

Okay. She could hear me when I thought. This was too freaky. Even the baby couldn’t calm me now. I had to get out of here and sort through things once more. I looked at her and for a moment experienced a sense of panic. I had walked back into this house voluntarily. What an idiot I’d been. If they wanted to hold me prisoner, there was nothing I could do to stop them. My children would be left alone and would never know what happened to their mother.

I had again forgotten their powers and that looking at them indicated a wish to communicate. Lana quickly reassured me.
“We will not hold you hostage. It is true what we told you about not being able to harm others. Anytime we harm or frighten another, we cause that harm to be visited on us as well. It has taught us to be much more loving and forgiving than your species. No harm will come to you or your young. You are free to make whatever choices you wish.”

Her gentle reassurance calmed me some. I took a couple of deep breaths and decided I could face the gang as long as we were all here anyway. In the meantime, the baby had begun squirming and was desperately pressing its body against mine. His mother laughed.

She reached out with her human hand and the baby floated from my arms across the room to her. She lifted her shirt to reveal a naval that seemed all the more fantastic coming from what appeared to be a human body. This naval stretched out like a tube and attached itself to a much smaller tube emanating from the infants body. Instantly, the little one stopped squirming and lay back contentedly.

“He’s eating!” I exclaimed surprised by the fantastic method of passing nutrition to the alien young. Apparently, their species passed nutrition directly from the mother’s stomach to the infants. Certainly a neat trick. Mom digested the food and baby took in whatever he wanted of what she had eaten. That would have been helpful for me when the kids were little. It would have kept that son of mine from spitting carrots in my face. There were some things about this alien culture that were beginning to appeal to me.

It was nearly an hour later that I sat searching the faces of the group around the table. I had asked them to repeat their explanations and this time had been calm enough to ask intelligent questions instead of spending my time searching for the quickest escape route from the loony bin. I had even been able to satisfy my curiosity about how they had known all about what I thought and felt and what I would do under any circumstances. I couldn’t have explained it to anyone else but I got the general concept. Apparently, everything about me was encoded in my genetic material. While they couldn’t be absolutely positive about what human genetics had changed my make-up, they could make some eerily close guesses.

Things were clear to me now. Even more clear to me was a wish to know more and learn more about who I was and where I had come from. I wanted to know if I could learn how to do some of the things they had done. I wanted to know if somehow the human progeny had picked up on some of their powers without realizing it. Is that why some people were considered psychics? Was that how some mothers had such a close attachment to their young that they knew, even when the children were miles away, that the children needed them? What about those ‘believe it or not’ tales of people who could move things just with the power of their minds? Was it possible that all of these things were caused by humans with alien backgrounds accidentally tapping in to something they had never known existed? Like those armed forces commercials, I wanted to be all that I could be.

If it was humanly (?) possible, I wanted to learn how to float across a room. Just think of how little wear and tear my joints would get if I could do that. I wanted to learn how to communicate telepathically. I wanted to teach my children how to do that. I wanted to quit arguing with them about the availability – or lack thereof – of public pay phones when they were going to be late. I wanted to know who my ancestors were. I realized hanging up pictures might be a little much but was I green or blue? Could I possibly be pink if I wanted to? Could I change colors if I didn’t like the one nature had assigned to me like humans changed hair color?

They had been watching me expectantly and patiently while I sorted through my thoughts. I had my answer for them.
“I’ll help you but not your way,” I informed them. “I don’t want you to change my DNA and make it completely human. Your species is a part of mine. You are a part of my heritage and that of my children. You can do things that have tremendous value to me. If I could talk to my children even when they weren’t in the same building with me, do you realize how much more connected we would be? Don’t you realize that one of the major reasons the human race is on a fast track to destruction is that we aren’t connected with one another? I want connected! I’m pretty sure others will want that, too.”

“I don’t think you understand,” William, the Patriarch interrupted me. “We can’t heal your cancer difficulties or reconnect you with the mental health you need unless you become completely human.”

“Oh, yes, you can,” I insisted. “You have the technology. You’ve just never looked for it. You’ve been so busy trying to escape this planet that you haven’t looked at anything accept changing us back so you can leave in peace.”

“We thought it was in your best interests,” my Uncle James argued.

“Yeah. That’s great.” I wasn’t having any of it. “I’m sure you did but the human part of us likes to make our own choices and our own decisions. So some of these offspring will probably want the operation. I’ll talk to them and you can give it if they agree. The rest of us are going to want you to stick around a while and teach us about ourselves. Furthermore, we’re going to want you scientists to find a way to keep us genetically on track. I don’t want cancer or mental illness for either myself or my children but I don’t want to give up the part of me that is your species either.”

They might be a more intelligent species than humans but I had just given them a thought they had never entertained before. I could tell by the way they were glancing at one another that a furious discussion was going on around the table. I leaned back, sipped my coffee and patiently waited. If they couldn’t harm us or force us to do what we didn’t want to do, I had them over a barrel and they knew it.

The discussion stopped and the patriarch reluctantly spoke. “We will, of course, be willing to allow you to make this choice. We would prefer that you accept our way as being correct but if it is important to humans to study their heritage, than we will teach you as well as we know how. We ask that you consider changing your mind and allowing the operation. You can learn your heritage without the need for being able to perform our functions. Many of them will not be possible to you in any event.”

“No chance,” I shook my head emphatically. “I want my genetic heritage as well. Others may not agree. If they don’t want their’s, you can do it your way.”

I turned to the scientists, my uncle and his wife. “How long will it take to find a cure for the cancer and mental health problems?”

“You can only cure the mental health problems by a change in your behavior. You must not deliberately harm others,” Lana explained. “If you cannot learn this, the only way you can avoid mental illness is to change to complete human genetics.”

“I don’t know about that,” I disagreed. “We have plenty of nut case humans and I think we’re beginning to understand that we’re sticking junk in our minds and getting junk behavior back again. I don’t think returning to complete human is going to keep the head clear. I think we’re just going to have to learn your way.”

Uncle James nodded his agreement. “As for the cancer problems,” he continued, “that is a physical problem and will need to be resolved. I do not know how long it will take to find a way to stop this. Even if we do find a way, others will be born and we will need to stay to heal them as well.”

I was beginning to understand their reluctance. They were 100 earth years away from home. One-third of their lifetimes. They wanted to get home and they thought I was proposing to keep them here for good. I decided now was as good a time as any to quit harming others even if it was only upsetting them emotionally.

“Look,” I spoke soothingly, “we may be human and not nearly as advanced as your species but we aren’t stupid. You can teach us how to fix our cancers. We approach the doctors and scientists of the human/alien mixes first. You teach them what they need to know and we’ll take over from there. You do it my way and you might even get off this planet faster than with your method. They decide whether or not they want the surgery but in either case, whether they decide to be completely of human descent or remain a descendant of yours, we’ll be able to take care of things.”

Slowly smiles crossed the human faces of the aliens around the table. If we were quick learners, they could leave this planet in 10 or 15 years time instead of the half century they had been looking at. Relief was obvious.

“That is true,” the Patriarch agreed. “Our descendants on earth are mostly human but it is obvious from listening to you that they can have great insight and intelligence. Once we were able to learn the cause of the cancers, we could teach you.”

He glanced around the table. With my quick insight and intelligence, I realized that a mental vote was being taken.

The Patriarch turned to me and smiled. “We will do it your way.”

Darn straight you will, I thought. The humans triumph again. I was careful, while I thought it, though, to not look at anyone who might be able to read my mind. We humans are quick learners.


By C.J, Henderson

(This short story cannot be reprinted without the approval of the author)

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