The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch.13: Reunited–extended

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.

“Miss Sanders…”

“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?”

He shrugs.

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.”



The Foreigner

The Foreigner ch. 12: Lonely

Ben is sitting on a fairly comfortable chair. Its sturdy metal frame is softened by structured cushions, strung together with boring gray fabric. The vibrations of the bullet train rumble beneath him. He wears a pair of old slacks and a long-sleeve flannel shirt. As the train emerges from the tunnel, its mechanical deceleration tugging on his gut, Benny turns to look at the scenery passing by–endless fields with sparce trees. A flutter of anticipation bubbles up, such that he hasn’t felt in years. Is he really going to see the creature again? Although the thing wrecked his life, he feels strangely attached to it.

During the trip, the hours seem to extend, laying themselves out in great lengths along the tracks. But as the destination finally approaches, the old man feels suddenly nervous. Fidgeting, he wishes briefly that the ride was not over. It also occurs to him to hop off and jump right back on the next one going home. But, looking at the desert landscape beyond the station’s wide windows, Ben remembers that he is very, very far from home. After waiting to retrieve his luggage from the rear compartment, he walks to the QuikDrivr cars, loading his luggage into one and greeting the driver. Once settled in, he figets with his pocket to pull out a large wallet, and removes the invitation, stuffed alongside his train ticket.

He gives the driver the address, reading off the invitation. The drive is not a long one, winding through the desert, the landscape mostly flat with mountains distant on the horizon. A promising sunset is creeping across the Western sky, painting a thin red haze across the horizon. They can see the facility a mile out, an ugly tan block surrounded by holo-fences.

“S’reused,” the driver says.

“Pardon?” Benny asks, clearing his throat nervously.

“Used to be NASA or sommin.”

“Huh.” Benny diverts his eyes. He breathes a sigh of relief as the silence continues and the car finally approaches the building.

“Name and Business.”

“I’m here with uh… what’s your name?”

“Benny… Benjamin Taggart,” he replies gruffly.

“Benjamin Taggart.”

“We need to see his face.”

Benny leans forward, peering at the security screen from around the passenger seat.

“Step out of the car, please, and bring your face up to the monitor,” the man on the screen says.

The rear door opens, Benny eases out of his seat, kicking his legs a bit, stiff from travel. He puts his face up to the monitor. The man on the other side looks at him for a moment. There is a flash of light.

“Alright, Mr. Taggart. Thank you. You are both cleared to enter.”

The broad streams of light barring their way retract slowly into the sides of the gate. The grounds, aside from a few prickly pears, are barren and composed of sand.

“Well, friend, this is where I leave you.” And before Benny can reply, the car pulls away, leaving him standing there with his luggage and his uncertainty.

The doors, which tower over Benny, open mechanically.

A face appears on the other side.

“Sir. Are you coming in?” It is the security man from the camera.

“Oh… aye. Sorry. I wasn’t sure if I should let me-self in!” The man raises an eyebrow as all 6 feet and 5 inches of Benny shuffles through with three suitcases: one rolling, one carried, and a smaller duffle bag under his arm.

Inside is a painfully bare room with a security desk–behind which sits a man who is reclining comfortably–another door, and a couple of uncomfortable-looking plastic chairs.

“You can put your things down,” the man beind the desk says. He leans forward, retrieving something out of sight, and plops a clip board loaded with a small stack of paper onto the desk’s surface.

“Here bud, fill this out. Sanders will be here in just a few.”

Just as he is finishing his paperwork, Benny looks up to see a young woman enter the room. She is dressed professionally, modern yet modest, with short brunette hair swept to one side.

“Hello Mr. Taggart,”–He stands to greet her–“My name is Jessick Sanders. We spoke on the phone.”

“Yes… uh… yes ma’am.”

“I’m so glad you are here! But ah… Before I bore you with all my thanks, why don’t I show you to your room?” she says with a smile, glancing at his weary face and his excessive luggage.

On through the other door, around a corner and down a corridor, Benny’s shoes click on cement floors, and his eyes adjust painfully to the white plaster walls and flourescent lights.

“They weren’t really going for ambiance when they built this place,” she says with a wink.

“Do yeh work here?”

“Oh… no. I’m a journalist. I’m here to make a film about you and… the creature.”

“So it is here?” His heart skips a beat.

“Yes, sir, and you will see it first thing in the morning. We don’t mean to make you wait but… you know there is a procedure for everything around here.”

He says nothing, but the most miniscule scowl settles into his face as they turn another corner, pass several plain doors, and finally stop at one.

His room is simple but comfortable with a bed, a desk, and a monitor screen.

“We have a little cafeteria set up,” she says. “You can eat with the rest of us. There is also a snack room and a bar, and I have finagled a little food fund for you.” He looks at her awkwardly.

“Oh uh… thanks. Thank you. Sorry, I’m… very far from my comfort zone here.” He manages a nervous laugh.

“I know. I told you I wouldn’t bore you with thanks, but … really… it means a lot to me–and the team–that you are willing to come out here. Um… we can discuss all the specifics in the morning, but I want to make sure you’re ok with being on camera.” She has the grace to look a little sheepish.

He frowns, then nods.

“Yes, eh… I remember we discussed tha’ and all. I understand… Bu’ do I really need to be on camera in my room?”

“Oh!” Her eyebrows shoot up under her bangs.

“No, sir, that is a touch screen.” She scoots past him and points at the icons.

“See, that one calls the front desk. This is a map of the facility–the areas you have access too, anyway–handy if you need food or the restroom. This one orders food, but you won’t need it tonight. I’ve already done that. They should bring it to you soon. Actually I can stay and make sure it gets here.”

There is an awkward silence. Benny is staring at the floor.

“Well, I’ll go ahead and leave you alone. But I’ll check on the food. Um… please call if you need anything. Oh–” she pulls a card from her pocket.

“Here is my number, and you have a cell phone there.” There is plastic black square roughly the size of a dime on the side table. With another awkward good-bye, Jessick leaves. The silence in the room is suddenly very noticeable. It feels bare and cold and foreign.

Benny sighs and doesn’t budge until his food arrives a few minutes later.

The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch. 11: Jessick’s Proposal

Hey Guys! I went on a little hiatus. I have been busy with work, studies, and starting another blog. I don’t want to give up on The Foreigner though! I am really excited about things to come in the story. This chapter is the first one I have written from scratch (the rest are from Nanowrimo ’13) but I think I needed a little refresher and some creative room to breath. Anyway, on vis ze story!


Jessick sits leaned back in her chair with one foot propped on the corner of the table. The other guys sit around the table in varying degrees of boredom. One of them is wearing a lab coat, another has the same coat draped over the back of his chair. One of the soldiers on security detail, Lankford, is wearing a casual uniform–a grey shirt with the facility’s emblem, black slacks, and black sneakers. Tails and a couple other people in relaxed business attire are there.

Standing across the room from Jessick is Ted Montgomery; impressively tall and broad-shouldered, with handsome chiseled features, hidden by a long, sparce mustache and a short beard. And next to Ted is Gerard.

“Well this project is going really well,” he says dryly, and suddenly slams his fist onto the table.

“We have no funding, absolutely no results from that creature, and we are not allowed to interact with it because of–” he adopts a mocking tone, “–animal rights activists!”

The room is silent.

“Does anyone have any suggestions?”

“I do,” Jessick says, taking her foot down and sitting up strait. Ted’s mustache twitches. Gerard looks nauseated and says, almost through gritted teeth,

“Yes, Miss Sanders?”

“We need to capture the public’s attention,” Jessick says, standing up.

“You’ve mentioned this before,” Gerard interrupts wearily.

“Yes, and, I have the perfect plan.” She pulls a shiny photograph out of her back pocket and hands it to Gerard.

“Have you seen that photo before?”

He looks at her incredulously. “No, it looks like a blury squid. What does this have to do with anything?”

“Well, that picture is so fuzzy because it was taken on a cell phone,” –several people snicker– “and that squid is your specimin.”

Suddenly everyone is interested in passing around the picture.

“Holy shit,” Tails says.

“Do you remember a story on the news a little over twenty years ago about some guy going crazy in Scotland?” Most people in the room shake their heads or look at her blankly. Lankford’s eyes widen, and he perks up.

“Yeah! The crazy guy with the…”

“The alien,” Jessick says with a smile. “This picture is from his living room. It’s the picture that started the whole catastrophe… everyone was blowing up over this alien discovery, and then he went crazy and everyone forgot about it.”

“What are you trying to say? That he deserves credit, or…”

“No, Gerard, I am saying we should reunite Benjamin Taggart with his findings.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

She shrugs.

“You want to sit around with no funding watching a squid that does nothing, or do you want to create the greatest story of our life time, capture the people’s interest, and get somewhere with this experiment?”

“Actually,” Ted perks up finally, “Your superiors gave us free reign with this project because they are also desperate to see something happen with this specimin. So if you really want to, you can try and argue, but–”

Gerard closes his eyes and pinches his nose.

“How do you intend to find this Benjamin character, and who is going to pay for him to stay here?” he asks without lifting his head.

Ted smiles at Jessick.

“You just let us take care of that. Funding will come from our end.”

The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch.10: The Facility

Hello! Welcome to my page! The Foreigner continues in 2015! Woo!


A dark shoe emerges from the sliding metal-fiber door. Jessick takes a moment to look around, her dark hair swooping over one side of her forehead, curling back over her ear, cupping the occipital ridge and ending above her neck. Her eyes shine green in the vibrant yellow light blasting through the glass ceiling. The station is not terribly busy. A few people push past her as she takes in the sights… locals probably, busying themselves with retrieving luggage and heading home. But Jessick is not from here. The paneled windows above her extend from the train tunnel and curve down like an awning, open the New Mexican air where a wall of heat waits to assault new visitors.

The station is painfully well-polished, a brand-new installment as part of a government program to keep people from panicking over the transportation crisis. The railing is clean and shiny with no scratches. A nearby wall displays a TV air-screen flashing between news clips, train notices, and routes. A couple standing at the adjacent display selects a location from the menu, and Jessick watches as the screen zooms out to the train map, highlighting the route with bullet points on the side listing their exits and change-overs. With the press of another button, it prints out a receipt-like-paper mapping their route. As Jessick leaves the shelter of the curved window overhead, rolling luggage in tow, she heaves the dry western air.

“Just a dry heat…” she mutters, rolling her eyes. “Indeed.”

There is no parking lot, but a waiting area with picnic tables. Other travelers are walking next door to an attached building with snacks, bathroom, and information. A narrow road, looking more like a wide, smooth sidewalk, ends in a loop in front of the arrivals. Drivers are lined up in little smart cars behind a blue sign with white letters saying, “passenger pick-up.”

Climbing in one of the cars, she tells the driver the neighborhood she is looking for, assuring her that she will have a map pulled up by the time they get there. The woman rolls her eyes and off they go, whirring like a toy car. Cozy in the back seat, Jessick flips the switch on a tiny plastic-looking cap on her pinky finger. A square blue light flicks on and Jessick feels that familiar buzz in her head. On a petite band around her wrist is a small black box. With another click of a button, a transparent screen blinks itself into existence in front of her. As she stares at the screen, it changes a couple of times; a blank screen, a search bar, a map.


Coffee is a dangerous companion for Jessick. Its aromatic steam and rich flavor could talk her into doing just about anything. Traversing through abandoned buildings where nameless heinous crimes would probably be performed on her? “Eh,” she would say, latte in hand, “It’ll be an adventure.” Following a suspicious character with two teeth, a bald head, and overalls into a creepy old warehouse? “Whatever, as long as I get some coffee and a good story out of it.”

Now, holding a fresh cuppa joe, Jessick waits in a painfully sterile bare-bones lobby. A man in military uniform reclines behind the security desk, full with glass walls. The security guard’s blank stare is wearing her down just as a man comes bustling through a plane white door, closing and locking it behind him. A blocky head is propped atop a tall, round body. Scruffy blond hair frames kind blue eyes and a comically square nose.

“How the hell did you get here? Who let you in?” he says with a smirk.

“Turns out I’m really important,” she says, putting a hand on her hip. They laugh and shake hands.

“Good to see you, Tails.”

“Likewise. So this Ted person was supposed to get you clearance?”

Jessick raises an eyebrow, “I would assume… but maybe something is holding him up. Anyway, I was told to be here.”

The man shrugs. “Let me get Gerard. He’s the one heading the research.”

“Tails” disappears for several moments, and Jessick is once again left to stand awkwardly with the security guard.

A stuffy man who would look at home in a cravat, but wears a simple button-up shirt and slacks, walks into the room and looks around, down his nose and through his thick glasses. His balding head comes to a shiny point above watery eyes that hold a condescending glare. His small mouth is puckered with indignation.

“What’s this?” he demands, huffing importantly, coming up to Jessick’s shoulder, “Where is Mr. Montgomery?”

“He’ll be here in a few days, sir,” Jessick says calmly, extending her hand, “My name is Jessick Sanders, and I’m actually directing the film.”

If possible, he tilts his head back yet further, as if subconsciously wishing to distance himself.


No, the Pope. “Yes sir, I worked with Ted before, and he actually wants me to have the reigns in this project. He will be here in a few days to supervise and offer advice.”

The man blinks once. Twice. “So you are supposed to be the one documenting this whole experiment?”

“Actually, Gerard,” Jessick says, becoming impatient, “I am not just here to sit behind a camera. I’m here to give your story an angle.”

He shrugs, “What does it have to do with me? I will oversee my experiments, and you can film from all the angles you want.”

“I just want to make sure we have an understanding. Like I said, I don’t just want to film what’s going on. You see, you need to capture the people’s attention so that you can get more funding.”

Gerard’s eyes dart around the room, apparently searching for someone to share his incredulity.

“Let’s get you settled, Miss–ah–Sanders, and we can talk about details when Mr. Montgomery arrives,” he says finally, speaking too loudly, as if desperate to regain control of the conversation.

Considering it a moot point, Jessick agrees to be led to her room, unable to contain a little smirk on her face.

The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch.9: Jessick’s Country

Like a person, the countryside has all different faces and flavors. It can be the glory of the great Earth, with sparkling waters and rolling green hills. It can be daunting and mysterious with dead trees rising above you in the night, their jagged edges stabbing the dark sky.

In the morning it is quiet, like the most precious secret. The soft rays of the early sun brush feather strokes on the hovering mist, turning it from silver to gold as time seems to stand still. From a high perch, one can watch the mist rise in curtains, making the great ascension from their early morning grave to the white fluffy clouds in the heavens.

For Jessick, it is mostly simple and dirty. There was mud, the occasional waste of the animals, swarms of gnats and sticky sap from the trees. Her skin scuffed with dirt, her hair matted, the knees of her jeans green with grass stains. There is always that decision to make: should I keep my careful distance from the great wild, my hair clean and tame, my boots protecting me from the dirt, or should I just give into it and let it take me over? As a child there was no question: let’s dive in! She ran, she rolled, she skidded, she swam. Now, as well-composed adult, she preferred to only allow the great country just a step in her door, a breeze through her window. Even enjoying a day outside with a paintbrush in her hand, she wonders how, as a child, the mosquitos never bothered her. Perhaps there weren’t as many back then.

Bright green eyes greet the late-morning sun with a shine of their own. A faded tee-shirt hides a short, medium-sized frame. Old jeans that still fit just right show off her curvy figure, ending in frayed edges around her boots. She stands in the great outdoors, a broad field stretching across several acres. Several yards behind her is an old country home which is two and a half stories tall with a porch that wraps all the way around and has a built-in gazebo.

She drinks tea from a mason jar and sets it on a make-shift table: an old box. Her palet is a recycled piece of vynil from an abandoned, tattered grill cover, now holding pools of paint in blues, greens and browns, dashed by random streaks and swipes where she has pulled colors and mixed them together. The painting shows a countryside but not the one in front of her. Instead it depicts a field with a pond and a nearby line of trees; the beginning of a forest.

She smiles and takes another drink, lifting her brush to add some blue to the sky, making white whisps for clouds. With another brush, she adds a hawk flying high, searching for prey.

She steps back for a moment, using one small hand blotched with dry paint to sweep chocolate-brown locks of hair from her brow.

“Jessick!” An old man yells across the field, standing in the doorway, leaning on a cane, “you have a phone call!”

“Oh bother,” she says, tossing her brush on the vynil. With her old, clunky boots, she trots through the dry summer grass, entering the door open door into a clean, sunny, kitchen with wood floors and a large island. Her cell phone is on the island and she picks it up.


“Jessick. Hi. My name is Theo Montgomery and I have a proposition for you.”

“I’m listening,” she says, perking up an eyebrow.

“I don’t know if you remember, but we worked together years ago during the Reform.”

“Oh, Ted! I didn’t realize it was you. The Truth Behind the Movement was a great film to be involved in. What can I do for you?”

“Well, Jessick, I have another project. It is government-related, but small time. Well, small government… big project.”

“If you think it’s interesting, I’m in.” She reaches for a sip of tea and realizes she left it outside.

“Well, you might have not have as much creative freedom as I’m sure you’d prefer. But I think the project could use your insight. The location is–well not TOP secret, but an off-the-map research facility.”

At this point Jessick’s eyes and mouth are hanging wide open. Secret research. Government facility. She gets a hold of herself.

“Yes? And the subject of your film?”

“Well… it’s a complicated situation. They’re doing research on a recent discovery, but they want it documented professionally. Not just a bunch of amateur hand-held crap. You know, something tasteful. Something for the history videos. I can tell you more when we meet–that is, if you’re interested.”

“Ted, I can hardly define just how much interest I have right now. I tend to get a little overwhelming when I get excited, so let me stop talking before I embarrass myself.”

The man on the other side of the phone chuckles affectionately.

“Well, hell, when can we meet?”