Update 5/28/15. Hey, apparently I am one of those writers who takes a 4 month hiatus. Sorry to anyone who has been keeping up, and thank you again for reading! There is a lot going on in life–building a career, possibly gearing up for a move, finding a home for an adorable stray cat–so Foreigner hit the back burner and stayed there for A WHILE. But things are calming down. I do still have a lot of new material to write, so I can’t make promises on how often I will post. However! I will see Foreigner through to the end (should I add something dramatic here? Such as mark my words! Or, So long as I live and breath!)
Nonetheless, here is an extended Chapter 13
Dark clouds zip along just above water, contrasted by the light grey overcast above. Thunder continues to boom from the distance, though there is no longer rain. Shivering, Benny wades back to the beach, where the news crews are standing scattered about. The videographers have shouldered their equipment while reporters chat–yelling at each other over the wind–their hands on their hips, the wind tugging at their coats. Then they see Benny emerging from the water. They look at him, dumbfounded. A few people ready their cameras. Soon they are all rushing toward him.
For a moment, there is a bizarre silence, as though he is watching them through a lens of his own. Then one reporter yells out,
“Mr. Taggart, what were you doing in the ocean?”
And, like the levee breaking, noise comes back to him, and he is bombarded.
“Do you admit it was a hoax?”
“Did you plan this from the beginning?”
“Where is the alien?”
He easily out-runs them, hopping in his vehicle, pools of seawater gathering in the leather seats. Kicking into drive, he heads back home, feeling dazed.
A confusing mix of images swarms in his brain: stars shining brilliantly, fish tanks, and the thrashing waves of the sea.
Benny wakes with a start. He is lying in an uncomfortable cot with ugly grey sheets, his hair matted around his face. The plain white walls glare at him.
“I know you are very anxious to see your creature, Mr. Taggart, but while the team is getting the cameras set up, I would like to do a little interview.”
He grumbles but nods.
Jessick pauses, eyeing him curiously. She taps her pen on the table.
“Actually, do you have any questions for me?”
He gives her a furtive glance, looking very out of place in his flannel long-sleeve shirt.
“Aye,” he grunts. “So ah… what is the goal here? Wha’ do they mean to do with the creature… I mean if it’s here and all?”
“Ben… sorry, Mr. Taggart… the creature is here. They found it in a fishing boat in Michigan.” She laughs, “And it… well it’s been on a long journey, just like you. But–” she pauses, searching for words. “To be perfectly candid, there isn’t a lot of money for research in the budget right now. Especially on some weird animal that people are claiming is… you know… an alien. So basically you are here…”
He scoffs and gives her a wry smile. “Fer sensationalism?”
Jessick gives a surprised, booming laugh, “Well, yes. But Benny, listen, I have ulterior motives to their ulterior motives. I…” she pauses, as though considering how much to divulge, “I have been obsessed with that picture since it was released twenty-two years ago. And suddenly I found myself here, at this facility, with that THING… and I honestly felt that you should be here, too.”
Benny rubs his forehead and runs a large hand through his thick grey hair.
“Call me Jessick.”
“Miss Jessick, all this will be very endearing, ya know, if I can actually see the damn thing.”
She chuckles. “Ok, just a couple of things to get out of the way first. You know that you will be on camera–“
“–So we don’t want you to feel pressured to act any certain way or to try and dramatize your feelings. Just be natural. As much as possible, we want you to pretend we aren’t there.”
“Ok, so, I meet the Creature, and then wha’?”
She gives him a blank stare, her eyes wide. “Ah… we’ll just see what happens.”
Now Benny gives a loud, booming laugh. “Oh, yeh migh’ be disappointed, Miss ah… Jessick. The creature in there? It’s only ever done wha’ it’s doin’ right now. It floats. Shimmers a bi’.”
A smirk. “We’ll just see, Benny. In the mean time, if you want to stay here, and not make me look like a fool, just… pretend you know something the research people don’t. And we’ll figure the rest out later.” She gives him a wink.
They enter two large industrial double-doors. Benny looks around. The room is spacious–almost the size of his house–and alarmingly empty with a large tinted window on one side and the giant water tank on the other.
“Where are all the cameras?”
“The cameras are discreet–” she points to two small devices, mounted on either side of the window, “-and the crew is on the other side of the window. We want you to feel like you have a little privacy.”
Benny walks to the tank. The slightest whizzing noise cues that the cameras are following him, zooming in, adjusting. There it is; glimmering, floating, its many silvery tentacles billowing around it, chaos turning to form, form becoming chaos again.
“There you are,” he whispers. He puts his hand up to the glass.
“Looks the same,” he says, turning briefly to the dark glass, to the cameras.
“I didn’t know how much I missed it. It wrecked my life, you know, but I still missed it. It draws yeh in, this thing.” He taps the glass affectionately.
Jessick glances at the glass.
“What do you remember about it from before?” she asks tentatively.
He scoffs. Giving her a significant look, he says, “Oh, she’s got secrets.” Touching the glass again, he whispers, “she’s got secrets.”
“Can I touch ‘er?” he asks.
“Is it a her?”
Someone is gesturing at Jessick. She hits her com.
“Is that safe? Can he do that?”
She turns to Benny. “Have you done that before?”
He almost laughs. “Aye. An’ I promise it don’ bite or nothin. But–” he pauses, and is again looking right at Jessick, “we have a special connection.”
Jessick looks at the window again, and Benny hears chatter from her com. Finally, she nods.
The tank is up against the wall where it reaches above Benny’s head, but there is a bench alongside it. Once standing here, it only comes to his chest and he can easily reach inside.
“Eh,” he says, indicating the smooth lid with his hand. There is no apparent opening. Stepping up, Jessick presses a button on the top, a little door slides open on the lid. After a nod, she moves away, giving him space.
Benny takes a moment to regard the creature; his one true great discovery; the phenomenon which changed his life and tore his family apart.
“Alright, lass, here we go,” he says.
Slowly, pulling his sleeve back, he reaches in and, feeling the strange slick tentacles, finds the bulbous body and lays his fingers there. Ah yes, the stars…
“Whoa! Sir!” A man with the security uniform, whose nametag reeds “Ross,” points at the one way they have been able to moniter the thing–thermal imaging.
“That thing has been flat green since we got it.” Now, as they look, the blues, greens, and yellows fluctuate.
“Damn,” says a researcher, “We need to get some neuro-mapping on that thing.”
“Well, we can’t neuro-map the Creature, because we don’t know if it has a brain.” An man in his forties with dark hair and a slightly dark complexion is standing next to Gerard and has an air of authority about him.
“Thanks for the recap, David,” Gerard sneers.
He clears his throat loudly, “However, what I was getting at is that we can neuro-map Benjamin.”