NOTE: I have a love of classic science fiction movies, good and bad. In general, there is an appeal to science fiction, story or film, created before we ever left the confines of our world and when we knew so little about the universe around us. The jungles of Venus or the ancient cities of Mars hold as much fascination to me as the scientific truths we’ve learned since that make these stories nothing more than fairy tales.
The greatest science fiction movie from this time, possibly the greatest science fiction movie ever, is The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s a first contact story that’s never been equaled and it’s a movie that, despite 60-plus years past, still holds up in almost every measure of a movie. But to me, it’s always been an incomplete story.
From the first time I remember watching the film, I always wondered what happened after. What happened to the people whose lives he Klaatu touched? What happened to the world after we found out we weren’t alone? What was the response of the alien races he represented?
In this story, I came up with my own answers to the questions. This is what happened in the decades that followed a first contact situation much like the one in The Day the Earth Stood Still.
And just so I can make this ripoff of a classic movie a multimedia experience, feel free to take a listen to this blatant ripoff of Bernard Herrmann’s theme to The Day The Earth Stood Still I did a few years back – Theme from Invaders from Beyond Space. (I play a theremin.)
Excerpt from Breaking My Silence by Billy Weatherby (1942 – 1967):
…I remember hearing someone shouting down the street. Then the sounds of voices spread coming through the open windows and doors, breaking the warmth of the spring day. Every radio came to life and there was a clamor of anxious voices mixed in with the static. One by one, anxious mothers called the other boys into their homes until it was just me, standing alone in the street. I had no idea what had happened, but I remember listening to the radio listening – to reports of bombing and of war.
This must be it, I thought. The Russians. It’s war.
In a way, I was right…
Miranda Malcolm ignored the soft beeping and the yellow light flashing on her vehicle’s console. At the moment, the voice on the other end of her phone conversation was all she was focused on.
“So, basically, you’re going to end up talking to every nutjob in the metro area?” the gruff, exasperated voice came through the vehicle’s speaker.
“Not every one,” Miranda replied. “I’m skipping the Bigfoot sighting and the Illuminati.”
There was a small steam of garbled curses Miranda had learned long ago to ignore.
“We don’t run a tabloid. Unlike other organizations, we still at least try to report real news. How about the U.N. resolution marking the anniversary? Or the Secretary General’s speech? Where are those stories?”
“I just sent in the revisions for both. Check your e-mail every once in a while before you start ranting.”
“I like to rant,” there was the sound of a clicking keyboard on the other end. “Fine. They’re here. But why go with the conspiracy nuts? If you want to chuck it all and go for ratings, why not go for naked celebrities instead?”
“Already got you covered boss. There’s a pic of Secretary Marcel in there and I believe she actually has the top button of her shirt unbuttoned. You can almost see her entire neck.”
“Fine. Whatever. Just make sure you’re done by Tuesday.”
Miranda smiled. She didn’t think it would be that easy to win him over.
“Oh? What’s going on Tuesday?”
She cut the connection in mid-obscenity and finally turned her attention to the yellow light. By then, it was raining; a soft rain splashing down on the windshield. She touched an icon on the steering column and a soft, artificial voice came through the speakers.
“From the National Weather Service: The current shower has been categorized as Code Yellow – mild contamination. The duration will be 20 to 30 minutes in this area and minimal decontamination is suggested.”
Code Yellow. It had been months since there had been anything as high as a Yellow. She pressed a couple of buttons on the console and turned the scrubbers for the vehicle’s air system on. She then pulled out of the parking area and headed on to her next stop.
Talking to the Silence conspiracy nuts wasn’t really something Miranda was looking forward to, but it would be an interesting fluff piece and probably the only article she would write about the Contact anniversary everyone would read.
During the past decade, the Silencer movement had grown. She never really paid them any attention until multimillionaire and restaurant tycoon Aaron Shrimp began putting his clout behind the idea of a government conspiracy surrounding the landing and the subsequent death of Kla’aven, the world’s first, and so far only, extraterrestrial visitor.
Many, like Shrimp, believed it was a cover up and Kla’aven was still alive and working with the government. Some believe the whole thing was a hoax. Supposedly the spaceship was created by the U.S. government to distract from the growing cold war. Others believed it was a ploy by the Russians to try and start an actual war.
Miranda laughed wryly. If it was meant to start a war, it worked. It took a decade, but it worked.
As Miranda moved away from the center of the old city, the rain began to fade. As she moved into the outskirts of old Dayton, away from the U.N. facilities, traffic became easier to navigate. About halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati was the Silence Institute. It was kind of the Mecca for conspiracy buffs. Funded in part by Shrimp, it was part museum and part “research” institute.
Over the past week, Miranda had spoken with the institute’s director, Dr. Vernon White, and finally convinced him she was out to do a serious article about the institute and the Silencers. She looked at the clock on the console – plenty of time to grab a bite before meeting with Dr. White.
As it turned out, the institute was an old warehouse and Dr. White’s doctorate was in theater. Still, he was a personable man and sounded very reasonable even when he got deep into the Silencer conspiracy.
Much of it Miranda had heard before or had come across when searching the web for background. The death of Billy Weatherby played a big part – assassination to keep him quiet – as did the disappearance and later reappearance of Patricia Weatherby – replaced by double and kept in hiding because of her relationship with Kla’aven.
Even the Silence – that terrifying space of ten minutes where everything in the world simply stopped and there was no sound to be heard – was thought to either be a mass hallucination brought about by solar radiation or the result of massive waves of energy used to scan every brain on the planet from a secret fleet of spaceships orbiting the Earth.
Dr. White talked about anomalous clock readings, mysterious scorch marks and other tale-tell signs after the Silence that pointed to something other than a demonstration of power.
Miranda listened and took notes and after three hours left a smiling Dr. White and the Silence Institute behind. She’d never admit it to Boss, but he was right – naked celebrities would have been a much better idea.
By the time Miranda made it home it was raining again. The report said the shower was completely clear this time and no precautions were needed. That was good. She felt like a little walk in the rain.
She parked her vehicle and took her things inside. Changing quickly, she walked out to the sidewalk and set out for a quick walk around the block. It was only sprinkling, but the cool moisture on a warm day felt good. As a child, a mere three decades earlier, this wouldn’t have been possible – at least not where she grew up. Contamination from the war was simply too bad.
But Mother Nature, along with help from man and his efforts to clean the air, water and ground, had done wonders. Some of the latest reports from the U.N. indicated that by the time another thirty years passed most of the contamination would be gone.
The rain stopped about halfway through her walk. The streets were dark and quiet. She loved the hustle and bustle of life around Dayton, but it was nice to have this retreat. She took her time getting back home.
Her evening routine was usually the same. After a quick meal, she usually spent a couple of hours catching up on work followed by an hour of reading. She rarely watched television and even more rarely went out.
After getting the framework of her story put together, she decided she needed a little more to it. Dr. White had given her a list of potential contacts – members and supporters of the institute. She’d also sent a request to talk to Aaron Shrimp, knowing it would be either ignored or rejected.
As she started going through the list, getting ready to e-mail a few likely candidates, she noticed her new messages. The subject showed it had come through a secure, non-governmental channel – possibly a law firm or some other private interest. Curious, she opened the message to find it contained instructions on how to access a secure account set up for her.
It was, indeed, from a law firm she recognized and the security seal was verified. This wasn’t completely unusual. She’d been contacted a number of times by both governmental and U.N. personnel with sensitive information. But she was curious since nothing she was working on was that sensitive.
Miranda followed the instructions and logged into the account. There was one message waiting for her.
Ms. Malcolm. If at all possible, I would like to meet with you tomorrow. If you agree, simply hit the respond button below and instructions with the time and how to get to the meeting place will be provided.
– Danielle Davis
Miranda stared at the screen in surprise. Danielle Davis. Former U.S. delegate to the United Nations. The only U.S. delegate to ever be considered for the secretariat before she declined the nomination and stepped down from her position.
She met the since-reclusive Davis years ago, when she first stared covering the U.N. but had heard little about her since. There were rumors she was ill, but nothing solid. This was definitely unusual and exciting, even for a journalist as seasoned as Miranda.
Several second passed and Miranda realized she wasn’t breathing, so she took in a deep breath and clicked the reply button. Almost immediately, a series of instructions along with the time appeared. She would meet an escort at a nearby shopping center parking lot at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Davis’ location was secret and Miranda was instructed to bring no electronics with her – only pen and paper. She was also told not to reveal the meeting to anyone until after.
What could this possibly be about? She sat at her desk for hours wondering, looking up information on Davis and ignoring messages from Boss. Finally, around midnight, she decided to try and get some sleep. She sent a simple message to Boss – Working all day. Out of contact. Which meant she would be ignoring his hundred attempts at contacting her and the profanity-laden voice mails he would leave.
Sleep didn’t come easy, but eventually it came.
Excerpt from Breaking My Silence by Billy Weatherby (1942 – 1967):
Looking back, it’s hard to decide if we thought there was anything odd about Mr. Tailor at the time. He certainly was very formal in his speech and stiff in his mannerisms, but no more so than a hundred people one might pass by in a department store or clerk’s office. But I certainly don’t remember thinking he was odd. In fact, his demeanor was actually very calming. I remember that distinctly.
When he first appeared at my aunt’s house looking to rent her spare room, it was almost like he exuded a cloud of trust. Aunt Clara never asked for any references, which she’d never done before. And whenever he was around, there was such a smile on her face. Maybe it was some strange chemistry he had or maybe it was just the idle fantasy of my spinster aunt…
Miranda didn’t recognize the facility when she stepped out of the vehicle. The back windows were darkened during the roughly hour-and-a-half drive giving her no idea of where she was. The small building seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. She saw no buildings or other landmarks that might give her a clue.
The driver led her in the front door, past a guard station and down a short hall. It was obviously a medical facility of some kind. Military, possibly. Both the driver and the guard she passed had a definite military look about them.
At the end of the corridor, they came to a door that opened up to a cozy-looking sunroom. In a chair next to a small table Miranda saw Danielle Davis. Not the vibrant woman she remembered meeting a few years ago, but a small, shrunken, grayish shadow.
Though her body was obviously pale, her eyes still shown with energy and intelligence and they focused on Miranda like a laser when she stepped through the door.
“Ms. Malcolm,” came the dry, strained voice. “Please come in and have a seat.”
Miranda couldn’t take her eyes off the woman. Though obviously very ill, she still had a sly smile and relaxed demeanor. She watched Miranda like a hawk as she crossed the room and took her seat.
“Thank you Madam Ambassador. It’s a pleasure to meet you again, though I’m somewhat at a loss as to why I’m here.”
The elder woman chuckled slightly.
“I can imagine. Though you say we’ve met before?”
“Yes ma’am. Though I wouldn’t expect you to remember. It was several years ago at a reception for the new Secretary-General.”
Ambassador Davis closed her eyes for just a moment, then her smile widened.
“Ah, yes. I remember now. At the Peterson Manor. You were just starting you job as correspondent. I believe Mr. Jameson introduced us.”
Miranda sat in stunned silence for a moment.
“Perfect recall,” Ambassador Davis finally said. “Not as perfect now as it was even just a year ago. It takes some effort now, but it’s been a blessing usually,” her face darkened just a bit. “Though sometimes it’s been a curse.
“But, as you’re going to find out today, it serves as a very useful tool,” though her voice waivered a bit, the tone was upbeat, which Miranda found very comforting.
“I know you’re wondering why you’re here. All I can tell you is we’re going to have to figure it out during our conversation today.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
“That’s quite alright Ms. Malcolm. I apologize for being so cryptic about this whole affair, but you will come to understand. I’m going to tell you a story and, when I’m done, I will leave it up to you as to what to do with it.
“As it turns out, today is my last day on Earth. My cancer has spread to the point where I have only two options – a slow, agonizing death or a quick painless one. Well, I’ve chosen.”
“Madam Ambassador… I’m so sorry…” Davis cut Miranda off with a slight wave.
“No need to be sorry. I’m totally at ease with my lot in life. It’s been a good one and it’s coming to an end on my terms.
“Now, get out you pen and pad. There’s a lot to go through. Some of it you will already know, but humor me. There may be details that you find important.
“Are you ready? Good. Then we’ll start almost seventy years ago with a shining silver saucer-like spaceship setting down on the White House lawn…”
Excerpt from Breaking My Silence by Billy Weatherby (1942 – 1967):
In the month Mr. Taylor lived with us in my aunt’s house, it was almost as if he became part of the family. Almost every evening we’d sit around the kitchen table and eat supper together then listen to the radio. Though we asked what he did and why he was in Washington, he was always very cryptic. Both Auntie and Mom thought he was working on some kind of business deal, but I was convinced he was a government agent on some secret mission – maybe even something to do with the spaceman who was at large somewhere…
…though it wasn’t obvious to me at that age, it is now. Mom had been widowed during the war, when I was just a baby. Though she had seen a person or two from time to time while I was a child, she never got close to anyone. Not until Mr. Tailor.
Looking back, I don’t know that I’d call it a romance, but it was definitely a closeness. To this day, we’ve never talked about her relationship with Mr. Tailor. In fact, we’ve hardly talked about him at all. God knows I’ve wanted to, because she wasn’t the only one who grew close to him – the closest thing to a father I’ve ever had…
“I come to you in the spirit of peace. Peace to all of mankind and to every being on this world.”
The form was definitely human, though a helmet obscured his face. He moved slowly and cautiously from the opening that appeared in the side of the ship. Once clear, the portal disappeared and the figure walked forward, open hand out to his sides.
The figure was the focus of a tremendous amount of firepower. Men with rifles and pistols, tanks, machine guns. You name it, they had it. But the figure never waivered.
“I have come with a message for you all,” he said in a voice that sounded strangely amplified. Even the civilians looking on from well behind the line of artillery could hear him as if he were standing right next to them.
“I request a meeting with your leaders.”
A man in uniform took a step forward. He had no weapon save the power to unleash death with one word. He moved slowly toward the figure until there were only a couple of feet between them.
“I’m General Ellis,” he said in a low, gravelly voice. “Might I ask who you are?”
The figure smiled slightly.
“My name is Kla’aven. As is obvious, I am a visitor to your world. I have been sent by those worlds I represent with a message for your people. The people of Earth.
“I request to meet with the leaders of your world.”
General Ellis rubbed his chin while he considered Kla’aven’s request.
“That could pose some problems. Would you come with me so we can discuss the matter?” It sounded like a request, but everyone, including the alien, knew better.
“Very well. I will place myself in your hands for now General Ellis.”
“What do you mean he’s escaped?”
The President wasn’t one to let emotions get the better of him, but General Ellis saw the anger in his eyes as he looked over the men standing in front of him.
“How the hell could this… man have escaped surrounded by guards in one of the most secure facilities on the planet?”
“We don’t understand it either sir,” the General said sharply. “Mr. Thompson came to speak to him about an hour before we knew he was gone. When the steward went in with his midday meal he was just… gone. The men outside his doors and windows, the men all around the building, the people in the corridors – none of them saw anything.”
The President looked at his Chief-of-Staff Thompson, who nodded. He leaned back in his chair and placed his hands over his eyes. He’d gotten almost no sleep during the past three days and he knew many of the men in this room had had no sleep at all.
“We need to keep this quiet General,” the President finally said. “Nothing gets out unless it’s approved by me personally. Nothing! Is that understood?”
General Ellis came to attention.
“Yes sir. Understood.”
“Get our men out on the streets. Use the cover of a preparedness drill or anything that will explain why we have armed men all over Washington. Curfews, roadblocks, the works. I want him found before word of this leaks out.
“We also need to keep our eyes on the Russians. They’ve been raising holy hell since this happened. Like half the rest of the world, they’ve been demanding to meet him.
“God help us if they get their hands on him…”
The General turned and looked at the men behind him and then back at the President.
“We’ll find him, sir. We’ve already locked down the airport, trains and buses. Within fifteen minutes, there will be no way out of the city.”
It was a sunny afternoon as Patricia Weatherby walked along a sidewalk through the park. Though she’d only known her companion, Mr. Tailor, a few weeks, she felt more at ease with him than she’d ever felt with anyone – including her late husband.
Though she still knew almost nothing about him, it really didn’t seem to matter. He was kind and polite and had taken to Billy – helping him with his homework and spending time with him when work called her away. And he was so curious, about them and the world around him. In the short time she had known him, she had attended more lectures, visited more museums and libraries than she had in her entire life before. It was almost as if he were trying to learn everything he could about…
But that didn’t matter. His business was his and his presence just seemed to make everything… okay.
“You seem a bit distracted,” Mr. Tailor said. “Is something wrong?”
“Oh no,” Patricia said. “Just a little tired. I was just thinking I haven’t been out this much since I was much younger.”
“I’m sorry if it’s been taxing on you. If it’s too much trouble…”
“No. Don’t get me wrong. I’m enjoying it. Everything you’ve done has meant so much to Billy… and to me.”
“I’m pleased to hear that.”
As they walked, Mr. Tailor watched everyone around with intensity. Billy had met some friends and they began an impromptu baseball game. He and Patricia found a bench nearby and watched in silence for several minutes.
“Mrs. Weatherby…” Mr. Tailor began uncertainly. “Mrs. Weatherby… Patricia. I fear I have not been completely honest with you,” he looked down at his watch. “I’ve been keeping something important secret and the time has come where I can no longer keep that secret from you.”
As he spoke, the content look in Patricia’s face began to fade. She opened her mouth to speak just as the sound of a bat hitting a ball and excited yelling came from the field in front of them.
Then, everything went silent.
For a second, Patricia thought maybe she was just imagining it, but then she looked around. The kids were still running, though they too began to realize something was amiss. People in the park around them were looking startled, their mouths moving, but no sound came from them.
Again, she looked back to the field for Billy. He was standing there just as stunned as everyone else. He was staring straight ahead where Patricia noticed a just-hit ball standing in mid-air and the bat the batter flung away as he ran toward first hanging beside it.
She started to bolt up from her seat and run to Billy, but she felt a hand on her arm, and suddenly, she felt a wave of calm come over her again.
“I’m sorry Patricia.”
It was a voice. Mr. Tailor’s voice. She looked at him, but his mouth didn’t move.
“Yes, it’s me your hearing. You can hear me in your mind and I can hear you. Don’t be frightened. Everything is all right. This will only last a short time.”
“What’s happening,” she tried to speak, but there was no sound. Only the echo of her words in her own head.
“It’s a demonstration,” Mr. Tailor’s voice responded. “It is designed to get the attention of your world’s leaders without resorting to harm or violence. It is very important that I get their attention.”
“I think you know, Patricia. I think you’ve known for a while. I’ve felt it in your thoughts. I am Kla’aven.”
Her mind raced. She almost bolted from the bench, then she saw Billy, still standing out in the field looking around as if he were lost.
“Billy can’t see us right now, Patricia. I’ve blocked us from everyone’s attention so we could have this conversation.”
“What… What is it you want? What do you want from me?”
Mr. Tailor smiled slightly.
“There’s nothing I ask of you. When I came to Clara’s house, it was simply to look for refuge. But you, Billy and Clara have given me an important gift – your kindness. You’ve shown me the best of what humanity has to offer. I want to thank you for it.
“My mission here has always been one of peace, but it also came with the most serious of consequences. My people see a day when your world could become a threat. I’m here to try and prevent that from happening. I’m here to open a dialog with the people of your world.
“Unfortunately, your petty arguments have made such a dialog impossible. I confess, before I met you I was ready to leave this world, my mission a failure.”
“Now. After getting to know you. After seeing the fraction of the wonders of your history and culture I’ve seen, I’m more determined to try everything I can to save your world. To save you and Billy. Even if it means a desperate, last ditch effort such as this.”
“What do you mean save our world? What happens if you fail?” Fear gripped Patricia as the enormity of what was happening settled on her.
“If I fail, it will mean the end of your world. We will allow you to destroy yourselves, if that is your path. If you somehow survive this madness and attempt to move beyond your world…”
Patricia gasped soundlessly. She couldn’t believe his words. His threats.
“Billy…” she thought. She felt his hand take hers. This was the first time he had actually touched her. It felt like her senses were on fire.
“I pledge to do everything in my power to save Billy. To save you. And the rest of this world, but to do that, I must give something up. Something that has grown very important to me…”
She looked up at his face, into his eyes, and immediately she knew…
The room was packed with reporters, all of whom started shouting questions as the President entered the room and stepped to the podium. With the help of his aides, the shouts stopped and calm was restored.
“This will be brief and I will answer no questions. More information will be released as it becomes available.
“At approximately 2 a.m. today, the alien visitor Kla’aven, was shot and killed as he attempted to return to his ship. All attempts to stop him without resorting to deadly force failed.
“At the instant of his death, his ship became active and within seconds lifted into the air. All attempts to stop it using both ground-based and aerial assets failed and the craft left our atmosphere some two minutes later.
“This unfortunate occurrence is a direct result of actions taken by Kla’aven, hostile actions, on what is being called the Day of Silence. Though we don’t know his ultimate goal, we do know he and those he represents present a direct threat to the safety and security of every person on this world.
“This information, as well as other details that will be made public, has already been presented to the United Nations assembly, as well as world leaders including our allies, Russia and China.”
The president paused slightly, looking around the room, well aware the eyes of the world were on him.
“This entire incident is regrettable. To meet someone from another world, representing a civilization out among the stars and then have it turn into such a violent and regrettable incident… I hope if we get the opportunity to meet these people again it will be under different circumstances.
“Just as it is with our neighbors here on Earth, we want nothing but peace with our neighbors among the heavens.
Miranda was writing furiously. Long ago she had created her own shorthand way of taking notes, all but unreadable to anyone else.
The ambassador had been right. The stories were familiar, but there was so much detail. So many little things she’d never heard before. She worked painfully to get every word, every detail and nuance down. So intent was she on her writing, that it was almost a minute before she noticed Davis was no longer speaking.
“Are you getting it all?”
“Yes ma’am,” she said, still writing. “I am. Though I wish I could be recording this, or that I had your memory.”
Miranda put down her pen and flexed her hands as she looked back over the pages and pages of notes. The sun had moved well across the sky. Had it been two hours? Three? It was hard to say. Though the ambassador seemed frail, her voice seemed to grow stronger, with more conviction the more she talked.
“Let’s take a brief break, shall we? Maybe a little refreshment for you? We’ve still got plenty of time and there’s a lot more of the story to be told.”
“Something to drink and a rest for my hand would be great.”
“I’m sorry you can’t record all of this. That was part of the agreement. Only a written record will be allowed.”
“Allowed? By who?”
Danielle Davis simply smiled.
Excerpt from Breaking My Silence by Billy Weatherby (1942 – 1967):
The first thing I heard was the sirens. Distant at first, then they seemed to be coming from everywhere. I’d been asleep, but had wakened at their sound. I ran down stairs and out on the porch to try and see what was going on.
Down the street, past the corner, I saw police and military vehicles rushing by. Despite the fact I was still in my pajamas, I ran to the corner. By the time I got there, I could hear the sound of planes flying overhead, invisible in the dark. Then there was gunfire – distant and sporadic – and even more sirens.
I stood there, not knowing what was going on, not knowing even what time it was, but I felt as if something very cold had gripped my heart. Tears came to my eyes and I started to run back home. Then I saw it.
The bright distant light moved slowly into the sky. There was the sound of planes again along with artillery fire and distant explosions. I knew it was the ship taking off and leaving our world and, somehow, I knew why.
I slowly walked back to Aunt Clara’s home in the dark, tears streaming down my face. I got back to the house I saw my mother silhouetted in the doorway. When a light finally shone on her face, I realized she’d already cried all her tears.
While the events of the previous night played, along with the President’s words, played out over and over on the radio and the pages of Extra editions all over the city, not a word was spoken of the events at Aunt Clara’s house.
Billy had tried to talk to his mom, but she just sat, staring vacantly into nothing. Aunt Clara led Billy away to the kitchen and then took Patricia up to her room. Patricia never revealed Mr. Tailor’s secret, but, somehow, both Billy and Clara knew, and they realized they’d always known since the day they met him.
Mr. Tailor left the home two days earlier, without a word, and never returned. His small suitcase of possessions still sat in his room, undisturbed. Billy though about going to the man’s room to see if there was anything left behind – any clue as to why any of this happened, but he could never get up the nerve.
It was around noon and Aunt Clara was just starting lunch when the first military vehicle pulled up in front of the house. Billy saw this from his window on the second floor and by the time he reached the front porch, along with Aunt Clara, the street was buzzing with soldiers and officers. A trio of men, two officers and a man in plain clothes approached Aunt Clara.
“Ma’am,” one of the officers touched his cap. “My name is General Ellis. I understand this man has been living at this residence for several weeks.”
The General showed them both a photo of a man who looked amazingly like Mr. Tailor. Clara said nothing, but her eyes widened when she saw the photo. Billy started to speak, but Clara pushed him behind her.
The General nodded to the plain clothed man who then made a motion and a group of uniformed men headed toward the house.
“Wait a minute,” Aunt Clara said trying to push past the General. “You can’t…”
Billy started to run to the front door, but was caught by the arm by one of the men in uniform.
“It’s okay ma’am,” the General said, gently placing a hand on Clara’s arm. “We know that man was here. We need to check out your home and ask you a few questions. Everything will be all right. This should be settled quickly.
“Is Mrs. Weatherby inside? Your sister?”
Clara nodded slowly.
“Upstairs, in her bedroom. But she’s not well.”
“That’s fine. We’ll take care of her. Colonel, why don’t you take these two back to headquarters and see that they’re comfortable? It’s almost lunchtime. Make sure they have something good to eat.”
Billy struggled a bit as the Colonel and another officer led them away from the house, but Aunt Clara took his hand and he followed. Just as they were climbing into a jeep to leave, Billy saw his mother, walking slowly out of the house with General Ellis and the plain clothed man on either side.
For two days they asked questions and for two days she answered them as best she could. Everyone was extremely polite. Her room was very comfortable. The food was very good and her clothes and other personal items had been brought to her from home. There was a female officer at her beck and call 24-hours a day, but there was also a ring of armed guards at a discrete distance around her all the time.
But for Patricia, the whole experience didn’t seem real. She was almost detached from herself. It was as if everything was on autopilot. She answered the questions put to her about Mr. Tailor as honestly and completely as she could, but there was so much she didn’t know. They referred to him as Kla’aven, which was a name he called himself once, but she didn’t know that man. The man she knew was only Kla’aven for a few, very brief moments.
She was kept informed about Billy and Clara and they answered every question she asked about her son and her sister. She couldn’t see them just yet, but soon. The General said word about their involvement with the alien had gotten out to the press and they would need to stay isolated for a while longer to let the furor die down.
Patricia was curious for a second when he mentioned an alien, then she remembered. Was Mr. Tailor really an alien? Or was that this Kla’aven they kept mentioning?
On the morning of the third day, Patricia woke up. She stared at the ceiling of her quarters and it was as if a fog lifted. It had been there for several days. Since the Silence… No. It was the day after. And now it was gone. Something was different. Something had changed since then…
She sat up in her bed, breathing rapidly, her heart pounding in her chest. She had to go. She had to get away from them all. It was too dangerous to stay here any more.
With a sense of determination she’d not felt in days, she got up out of her bed and began packing her things. She was sure they were watching her room, but it didn’t matter. They wouldn’t stop her.
Once she was dressed and her bags packed, she opened the door of her room and strolled out into the hallway. The guards, the people in the hall, no one paid her the slightest bit of attention, so she headed to the nearest exit.
As she was leaving the building she stopped. Billy was still in there somewhere. So was Clara. She needed to get them out as well. But something deep within her mind stopped her. She knew they would be okay. She also knew it was desperately important she get away. As far away as possible.
In an hour, she was out of Washington. In a day, she knew where to go. In a week, her new life had begun.
The touch of a hand shaking his shoulder and the sound of his name pulled Billy out of a dark, dreamless sleep. It took a few seconds, but he realized there was a shadowy figure standing over him, nudging his shoulder and whispering his name.
“Cadet Weatherby… Billy… You’re needed in the Commandant’s office.”
Billy realized it was the Commandant’s aide rousing him. It was still dark and he saw his roommates were still sleeping.
“What’s going on?” he asked blearily.
“Get dressed and report to the Commandant’s office. Five minutes.”
With that, the aide left. Billy climbed out of his bed and began getting dressed. The dark didn’t matter. He knew exactly where everything was and in four minutes, without a sound, he left his room and headed for the office.
As he stood outside the door, he heard two men talking in low voices inside. One was the Commandant. The other was familiar, but he couldn’t…
Within seconds, the door opened and the aide motioned for Billy to enter. The Commandant sat behind his desk and in another chair Billy saw the owner of the familiar voice. General Ellis!
Billy’s face hardened imperceptivity at the sight of the man. It had been more than four years since he’d last seen him – at Aunt Clara’s funeral – six months after his mother’s disappearance. This was the man who, one way or another, took away everyone he’s ever cared about. Everyone he’d ever loved.
General Ellis stood and faced Billy. The cadet stood at attention and stared coldly at the man.
“Cadet Weatherby, I have some news for you. We’ve located your mother. She’s alive and well and living in Oregon. Colonel Marks has been dispatched to return with her to Washington. She should be here by the end of the week.”
Billy said nothing, but he felt his stomach tighten.
“Did you hear that Cadet Weatherby?” It was the Commandant. “The General has brought you some good news.”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir,” Billy said mechanically. “Will that be all?”
A small wrinkle formed on General Ellis’ face. He glanced briefly at the Commandant.
“If you’d like, the Commandant would be more than happy to arrange a pass for you this weekend,” the General said. “We’d take you back to Washington so you could be reunited…”
“Thank you sir, but that will not be necessary,” Billy snapped. “We have extra drills scheduled for this weekend and I would be remiss in my duties if I were to leave my squad a man short.”
“Billy,” the Commandant said softly, “I’m sure everyone would understand…”
Billy turned to the Commandant.
“Will that be all sir?”
The man let out a sign and he looked to General Ellis.
“Yes Cadet. Return to your quarters and get some sleep.”
Billy saluted, turned and stepped into the hallway, leaving the two officers in silence.
“I’ve got to say, Madam Ambassador, this is all so detailed,” Miranda said during a break. “I’ve never heard any of this. It’s not in anything I’ve ever read. Even Billy’s book only mentions most of this in passing.
“How do you know all of this?”
Danielle Davis simply smiled. Though her spirit was still strong, it was growing obvious that the day’s activity had weakened her. It was late afternoon and Miranda had filled an entire notebook and started on a second.
“That will become clear shortly,” she replied. She looked out the glass enclosure at the evening sun and the flowerbeds just on the other side of the glass.
“I’d like to say I was going to miss the flowers,” she said wistfully, “but there won’t be any ‘me’ around to miss anything. I guess I should say I regret that I’ll no longer be able to enjoy them.”
Miranda stayed silent as Davis continued to look out the windows. There was nothing she could say. The enormity of what she knew was going to happen soon was almost overwhelming. As she’d learned to do long ago, she pushed down the rising emotion she felt. It would have to be dealt with later.
“I’m sorry,” Davis said, popping back into the moment. “Just a little woolgathering,”
“No. Certainly,” Miranda said. “If you’re too tired, we could do this later…”
The elder woman smiled.
“It really is now or never.
“Have you ever heard any of the rumors about Patricia Weatherby’s disappearance?”
“No ma’am, I haven’t. I’m afraid I never paid much attention to the different conspiracy theories until recently.”
“Ah, yes. Your meeting with Dr. White. He’s such a sweet man. You should go dancing with him sometime.”
Miranda was taken aback.
“You know him?”
“Of course. I got him his job. I was the one who got him connected to Aaron Shrimp. You might say I’m the mother of the Silence Institute.”
Miranda was speechless. The ambassador let out a raspy laugh.
“One of the first lessons I learned in my professional career is it’s sometimes best to hide the truth right out in the open disguised as a lie. This is a handy lesson for a journalist to learn.”
“Is this why you chose me to talk to?”
“It’s part of the reason. You have admirers among my colleagues and friends, but it wasn’t until you spoke to Dr. White that the decision was made. You impressed him with your professionalism, no matter how ridiculous the theories he presented to you.”
Miranda was silent. She studied Danielle Davis very closely, really for the first time since she’d entered the room. There definitely was something…
“How much of it was true? Of the things Dr. White told me?”
The Ambassador closed her eyes.
“We’re nearly at the end, but first, there was the war…”
Excerpt from Breaking My Silence by Billy Weatherby (1942 – 1967):
One of the funny things about the war – or what’s always been called the war – is that I’ve never talked to anyone who actually witnessed it. I guess that makes sense. The whole point of an atom bomb is to not leave any survivors. Still, you’d think there would be someone. I guess the government was just too good at containing the situation. All but the very first explosions were well off target and did little more than contaminate vast, empty areas…
My only contact with my mother after the day we were taken from my Aunt’s house came in the months following the war. I guess the military was keeping tabs on me somehow. She showed up one day along with this new husband, Colonel Marks, at the commune where I was living just outside Chicago.
At first, I was determined not to see her, but then I realized – given everything that had happened – this might be our last chance to actually talk about this enormous, incredible thing that had torn both of our lives apart…
“Sit down, son, and hear what your mother has to say.”
Billy glared at Avery Marks. He was standing across the table behind Patricia.
“You,” Billy pointed at the Colonel, “need to leave us alone to talk. And never, never call me ‘son’ again.”
Marks put his hand on Patricia’s shoulder. She turned in her chair and nodded and he left the room. As he walked out the door, he caught Billy’s eye. The younger man’s fire met the older man’s cold stare.
Billy just smiled.
Once they were alone, for a long time, neither spoke. Finally, Patricia broke the silence.
“I was so relieved when I found out you had left Washington before…”
“I’ve been out of Washington for a while. I was in California for a few months. All up and down the west coast in fact. I’ve spent some time in Las Vegas, Texas. Even down South working with the Civil Rights movement.”
His mother had never really let her emotions show. He’d seen her smile, laugh, cry, angry, happy, sad, but it was only on the surface. Only once in his life had he ever really seen her true, unfiltered emotions…
“I know,” she said frankly. “I’ve been… informed.”
“Your new husband, I guess,” he said bitterly. “Does he tell you everything? Every time I’m stoned or drunk? Every time I’ve had a lover? Every time I’ve barely had enough to eat or no place to sleep? Did they tell you about the time in Alabama when I was beaten so badly I couldn’t walk for a week? Did they tell you the bastards that did it killed one of the people in my group?”
Patricia sat silently, just staring at Billy. He stared back angrily at first, then he closed his eyes and sank back in his chair.
“You have every right to be angry with me…”
“You’re damn right I have every right to be angry with you!” His voice was louder than he planned and he stood halfway out of his chair. “You ABANDONED me! You left me and Aunt Clara! Once they finally released us both, I was afraid to leave the house because I thought someone had kidnapped you and they would be coming for me. The press was everywhere. We had to have guards on the house.”
Billy sat back down, but his anger wasn’t even close to abated.
“That’s what killed Aunt Clara! The stress and the pressure. That’s what caused her heart attack. And what was to be done with me? Leave me with distant cousins who’d never met me? Only knew you or Aunt Clara from childhood? That didn’t work. So, as it turns out, that left my fate up to General Ellis.
“I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed those years in military school.”
Patricia’s stare remained calm. Billy remembered that calm from his childhood. She knew she could outlast him, even now a decade later. He knew it too. He slapped the table and sank back in his seat.
“I’m not going to apologize for what I did,” she finally said calmly. “I can’t tell you why I left, only that it was something that had to be done and I couldn’t take you or Clara with me.”
She turned slightly to look at the door Marks had walked out. Billy noticed and turned too.
“One day,” she said softly. “One day I can tell you. But not today.”
Billy paused. There was something in her voice. His anger was still there, but, from somewhere down deep, he felt a wave of calm he hadn’t felt since…
“We’ve never talked about Mr. Tailor.”
“I know,” his mother said softly.
“We haven’t spoken in years…”
“But you could have come to me at any time. Why didn’t you? You wouldn’t talk when he left. You wouldn’t talk the day he… When they…”
“You know why.”
Billy stared down at his hands. He spread his fingers out on the table. It was a while before he could say what he’d needed to say for so long.
“You know I loved him too,” he finally said quietly. “He was like a father to me. He was a father to me. It may have only been a few weeks, but he was all the father I ever had. That was the only time in my life I’ve ever really had a family – you, me, Mr. Tailor and Aunt Clara.”
“Kla’aven,” Patricia said in almost a whisper.
“No!” Some of the anger was back in Billy’s voice. “Mr. Tailor!
“The man who came to us wasn’t some kind of… alien. Something from some other world in some other galaxy or whatever! He was a person. He was real and good and he made our lives so much better.”
Billy’s voice was almost pleading.
“Why can’t you talk to me about him?”
Patricia stood up and walked slowly around the table. She stood beside Billy and placed a hand on his cheek. Billy really looked at her fir the first time since she’d walked into the room. This wasn’t his mother. It was like she was a shell of the woman who had been his mother. Her hair was gray. Her face was lined. But it was her eyes that spoke the most. Whatever spark had always been there was gone.
Almost instinctively, he drew away from her hand.
She stepped away from him.
“We’re leaving this afternoon and going back to Dayton. If you ever want to come home…”
His anger flared again.
“I haven’t had a home in a decade.”
“If you ever need me. Please…”
The Russian Premier looked across the table at the President. Two different countries. Two different ideologies. Two different languages. Two different generations. There were wide chasms to span, but both men knew they didn’t have a choice.
The meeting was unprecedented. There were no ambassadors, no negotiators, no bureaucrats. Not even a translator. They had been the two men who had said the words that led to the death of millions. They would have to be the two men whose words started the healing and brought the kind of peace the world had never known.
Far from being contentious, the meeting had been very calm. Both men knew they were in the room with the only other person in history who shared their pain and guilt.
“I see no reason to oppose this proposal,” the Premier said. His English was surprisingly good. “It will, of course, have to be approved by the Duma, but I believe it will pass with no problem.”
The President nodded.
“Yes. This will go before the Senate where I feel there will be no opposition.”
“Will the new United Nations facilities be ready in time? This should go into effect before the new year.”
“It will be tight,” the President said. “It may not be completely polished, but it will be functional. What about the facilities in Leningrad?”
“They will be ready.”
“Then I guess it’s all settled.”
Both men were silent for an uncomfortably long time.
“I guess we’ll both be in our graves by the time this treaty comes to its fruition,” the Premier said quietly.
“I suppose so.”
“But this isn’t for us,” the President finally said. “You and I don’t deserve the world we’re building today, do we?”
“I wonder if…” the President started.
“…if we’ll ever be forgiven?” the Premier finished after a pause. “I can never forgive myself. I could never ask it from anyone else.”
“I can only hope the United Nations can run our two countries, our whole world better than we have been able to,” the President finally said.
“I think they will. We know the stakes. We can destroy ourselves. We can allow ourselves to be destroyed from those outside our world, or we can choose to live.
“We’ve chosen for the world to live today. We won’t, you and I, not for long, but our children will have a future.”
“Yes they will,” the President said. A sad smile came across his face. “A bright future, once we’re out of the way.”
After a moment of silence, the Premier stood. The President followed.
“I, for one, look forward to the grave,” the Premier said. “It will take away the memories.”
The President stared solemnly at his counterpart and simply nodded his head. The Premier extended his hand.
“We shall not see each other again, I think.”
The President took the Premier’s hand.
“No. I think not.”
The Secretary-General of the United Nations stood in front of the monument. It was a simple stone column, reaching at an angle, narrowing as it rose, pointed to the universe beyond the Earth.
“…Today marks not only the dedication of this monument, but fifty years since the day we discovered we were not alone in the universe. It was a day that, for good and bad, changed our world forever.
“Today we remember the promise of peace and the threat of destruction. We remember the madness of our own petty arguments and the triumph of our new reality that arose from our darkest and most tragic hour.
“Ours is not a perfect world. We still have much to overcome, but we face those obstacles as one voice, as one people – the Human Race.
“We know there are those eyes our there, beyond our world who are watching. We know they have no expectation for us to rise above our baser nature. To not only survive, but to thrive. We know they have the power to bring everything we’ve accomplished to a swift and violent end.
“We went to the brink. We crossed over and, thankfully, we were able to come back from the darkness beyond – but not without a cost – a huge cost to us all.
“Let this monument serve to remind us where we have been and where we are going. Let this monument remind us of everything we’ve lost since that day and everything we’ve gained.
“But most importantly, let this monument remind us we chose to live! We will shout that message to the corners of the universe.
“WE CHOOSE TO LIVE!”
Danielle Davis applauded the Secretary-General’s words from her place on the dais behind him. A crowd of thousands stood in front of them, cheering at an almost deafening level. She knew that beyond the U.N. plaza, around the world, billions of eyes were glued to screens watching this event. Contact Day had always been an unofficial holiday, but today, around the world, it was made official.
After the ceremony, she made the rounds, shaking hands and speaking to the various dignitaries in attendance. Heads of state from around the world were crowded into the chamber, each trying to get their moment with the Secretary-General. Through the crowd she caught her old friend’s eye and grinned. His eyes rolled almost imperceptivity and he returned the smile.
Danielle was just about to make her way over to a corner where the U.S. President, Russian Premier and the British Prime Minister were deep in discussion, or possibly swapping off-color jokes – when an aide came up and touched her arm.
“You’re needed in the Secretary-General’s office.”
Danielle nodded and began weaving her way through the crowd. She saw the Secretary-General doing the same. Several minutes later, she arrived and found about a dozen other dignitaries standing in the atrium outside the main office. There was a low murmur as they all speculated about what might be happening.
She was making her way to the doors of the inner office when she saw the Secretary-General emerge with an aide at his side. The crowd began to grow quiet as all eyes turned to him.
“We have just received word that Patricia Weatherby has passed,” he said solemnly. “I have no details other than it happened earlier this morning and she died at her home of natural causes. It hasn’t gotten to the press yet and we have been asked to make the announcement to the public.”
There was a growing murmur around here and she heard the Secretary-General and his aides urging everyone to return to the plaza so the announcement could be made, but Danielle had tuned it all out.
She knew Patricia Weatherby, though not overly well. The woman was extremely reclusive, but had seemed to take an interest in Danielle’s career. She first met Patricia when she was part of a United Nations college program almost three decades earlier. Danielle had written a thesis about the positive, peaceful changes in international relations brought about by Kla’aven’s visit, the effect of the war and how the positive changes could continue to be fostered.
Patricia seemed quite interested in the thesis and Danielle was thrilled at the attention of someone so closely involved in the incident. For the next decade they continued to have occasional contact as Danielle worked her way through the U.S. diplomatic corps and into the United Nations, but with the death of Avery Marks, Patricia became more and more reclusive.
There had been rumors for some time that Patricia had been quite ill. Danielle sent her notes occasionally and even tried to visit a time or two, but was never successful. She remembered the elder woman as calm, never overly emotional – never mentioning any of the people or events from her past – only speaking about the future.
Danielle lagged behind the others. She watched the Secretary-General as he mounted the dais and made the brief announcement. A hush came over the crowd as they heard the news. The day of celebration now became a day of mourning.
Excerpt from Breaking My Silence by Billy Weatherby (1942 – 1967):
It’s been more than a decade since the day I lost everything I ever cared about. Some days I’m angry about it. Some days I’m sad. And some days I miss those days when I with my mother and Mr. Tailor so much all I can do is cry.
I find myself at times almost forgiving them both for leaving me, but something always stops me. I realize forgiveness isn’t about them, really, it’s about me. It’s about letting go of the pain, the loneliness of so many years.
I’m not there yet, but I do see reaching that place. Someday.
Danielle watched as Miranda wrote furiously, getting down every word, every detail. Once she had caught up, the reporter looked up.
“I’d never heard about the connection between you and Patricia Weatherby. It somehow seems… fitting… though.”
“Yes it does, doesn’t it?”
“I still don’t understand,” Miranda said, slightly hesitantly. “This is all fascinating information. So detailed and so much of it I’ve never seen anywhere, but I don’t understand the importance of it. I mean beyond its obvious historic interest.”
“Think about everything that’s happened in the past sixty years,” Danielle said. “We were warned about the path we were taking. We were told, one way or another, it would lead to our destruction if we didn’t change and we met those warnings with more of the same paranoia and force that were going to be our downfall.
“Those who tried to heed Kla’aven’s warnings were ignored and marginalized and the insanity between nations was ramped up until we finally went to war.
“Some people say it was really the war that changed everything, but they are missing one key piece of information that changes everything. One fact.
“This is the truth we are entrusting you with. The truth you must decide whether or not to reveal. Can you guess what it is?”
It was starting to make sense now, Miranda thought. The world had been at peace for decades. Poverty, hunger, illness were all slowly being brought under control. It was exactly the kind of course Kla’aven had indicated would lead to the survival of the human race. All done under the guidance of the United Nations and people like Danielle Davis…
No. There was more than that. Miranda’s eyes widened.
“He alive,” she finally said. “Kla’aven is alive.”
Danielle closed her eyes and smiled.
“I don’t understand. How?”
“The story was a cover up. The government never found him. When his ship took off, they couldn’t stop it and they had no clue as to whether or not he was on board. They knew his warning about the Earth’s fate would spread and cause panic, so they concocted the story of his death and played his presence here as a threat.
“They also made it seem that it was their actions – the death of Kla’aven and the rapid global military buildup that led to the war – that was forcing the aliens to stay away.”
Miranda could scarcely believe what she was hearing. This conspiracy was so absolute, so big it had changed the world. Ultimately for the better, but such a high price had been paid.
“How do you know all of this? How did they manage to keep such a secret?”
“Initially, only three people knew the truth – the President, General Ellis and…”
“…and Patricia Weatherby,” Miranda blurted, interrupting Danielle.
“Yes. Patricia. She had… a connection with Kla’aven. She knew the stories were false and eventually the military would find out she knew. So she disappeared.”
“But with Kla’aven gone, what stopped the others from carrying out their threat?”
Danielle was silent for a moment. Her smile faded a bit and, almost in an instant, the full weight of her condition showed on her face and in her demeanor once again. Weakness was beginning to show in her voice as she spoke.
“This is where some speculation comes in on my part, but it boils down to the fact that Kla’aven never left Earth. He’s been here ever since guiding us to where we are today.
“As to why, I can only speculate. I think it was his connection with Patricia and Billy Weatherby in part. I think in his time spent with them, and since, he found that the human race deserved to survive.”
“You’ve met him,” Miranda said. “You’ve worked with him.”
Again, a weak smile crossed her face.
“I’ve met him, yes, and in my own way I’ve played into his plans, but not by design.”
“Does he know you’re telling me this?”
“It was his idea. Think of it as sort of a barometer to test whether or not we’re ready to begin interacting with his people. You’re the first test. Should you decide to go public with this information, that will be the second.”
Miranda was stunned and suddenly very aware of the weight that had just been placed on her shoulders. The enormity of it was overwhelming.
“And now, Ms. Malcolm, I’m afraid it’s time for me to say goodbye,” Danielle said weakly. A man in an orderly uniform entered the room and stood behind her wheelchair.
“But there’s so much more I need to know…” Miranda began.
Danielle’s face was calm, but Miranda could see the pain and exhaustion in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, but that’s all I have time for. The sun has set on this day and it’s time for it to set on me. Thank you for your patience and good luck with whatever you decide.”
With that, she closed her eyes and the orderly began wheeling her out of the room.
“Someone will be along in a moment to take you home,” the orderly said as he left the room.
Miranda stared at the door for some time after Danielle Davis was wheeled away. There was so much. She knew she needed to get this all down on paper while it was still fresh, but she also knew every detail of the past several minutes was permanently etched into her mind.
She turned toward the window. The sky outside had grown dark hiding the lovely gardens beyond. As she sat and stared Miranda lost all sense of time. It was some time before she realized she wasn’t alone and noticed the reflection in the glass of someone standing in the door behind her.
“If I could have just a few more minutes…” she said as she turned to the figure. In an instance, she realized it wasn’t her driver.
“Good evening Ms. Malcolm,” the figure said. Though she’d never met the man before, Miranda knew in an instant who it was.
“Kla’aven,” she whispered.
“Yes. I am Kla’aven,” he said softly, calmly. “Or Mr. Tailor if you like.”
He walked into the room and took a chair facing her. If she hadn’t seen his picture so much in the past few days she might not have recognized him. He was dressed in contemporary casual clothing. His hair was a bit longer and in a more modern style. But his face hadn’t changed a bit. He didn’t look a moment older than the sixty-year-old photos she’d seen of him.
“I just wanted a moment to talk to you. There’s more information I think you need. And, again, feel free to use any of it as you see fit.”
The man radiated a calm. Miranda felt her racing heart begin to slow and her overwhelmed mind begin to clear.
“Ambassador Davis has told me so much already,” Miranda said. “I don’t know what else…”
“Danielle’s story goes only so far,” he said. “There are a few key things she does not know. No one does.”
Miranda swallowed, She sat up in her chair and opened her notebook.
“You can take notes if you like, but I don’t think you will need to. This will be brief.”
Miranda nodded and set down her pen.
“As Danielle told you, the story of my death was a cover-up by the U.S. government, but it was not of their doing. As I’m sure you know, I can manipulate certain aspects of the universe around us. It’s vastly too complex for me to explain, but what your people refer to as the Silence is an example.
“I planted the idea of the cover-up in the appropriate minds. I needed a way to stay here on Earth, but I needed it to be a way where no one would suspect I’d never left. My death seemed to be the easiest way to accomplish that.”
“But the president and General Ellis. They knew…”
“They knew I wasn’t dead. But they firmly believed I was aboard my ship when it left. The artillery and planes were their attempt to prevent me from leaving.”
“So you’ve been here the whole time?”
Kla’aven smile slightly.
“More or less. My people and I are able to come and go undetected. I’ve found reason to return to my home a few times over the past sixty years.”
“Your people? They’re here?”
“At the moment, I am the only one here on Earth. There have been others, yes, as their presence has been necessary.
“You see, over tens of thousands of years we’ve come across a number of other worlds who rose to the point where they might conceivably, one day, join the community of those of us who have made the stars our home.
“Unfortunately, many do not survive the violent adolescence your world found itself in when I first visited. Most who do are ready for us when we decide to make contact. However, when I arrived, we didn’t fully understand the impact it would have.
“Had we left you alone, there was a good chance you would have taken the course so many other worlds had taken and you would have destroyed yourselves. But we thought by showing ourselves to you, it would spark a change in your world. A change that would lead you on a path to one day join us.
“What we didn’t realize at the time was our revealing ourselves to you put your world on the very path we feared. This was unique in all our experience and we felt, I felt, it was our responsibility to try and correct our mistake.”
Kla’aven paused to give Miranda a chance to process what he’d told her. After a moment, she spoke.
“So you’ve been behind the scenes. Guiding us.”
“After a fashion. Sometimes it was merely a matter of reinforcing a path you were already inclined toward. The move toward solving the problem of hunger and disease for instance. These are basic to the nature of all beings, so it only took the most subtle influence. Establishing your United Nations as the world’s governing force and de-emphasizing your move toward space travel, that was much more difficult and required quite a bit of… influence.”
Miranda considered this. What he said made a lot of sense. In the days before he arrived, the United Nations was in its infancy. His arrival made it much more relevant, but it was really the war that brought it to its prominence as a world government.
“Your influence,” she said cautiously. “Did that include the war? We should never have survived. After the first few bombs exploded, the rest just failed. Or they exploded off target, away from populated areas.”
Kla’aven was silent for a moment, his gaze fixed on Miranda. The slight smile and calm look never left his face.
“Have you ever been to Washington D.C. Ms. Malcolm? Or New York?”
“Of course not,” she said quickly. “Those places won’t be livable for… for hundreds of years.”
“Do you know where the other bombs fell? Have you ever met anyone who witnessed the bombs exploding? Who escaped any of the decimated cities after the war? Have you seen photos of the ruins such as those taken in the aftermath of your bombings of Japan in your second world war?
Miranda closed her eyes and was shaking her head slowly. There were images swimming in her mind. It was almost painful as things began to clear.
“The war never happened,” she suddenly said with surprise. “You! You planted it in our minds. Every person on Earth!”
“Had we not intervened, the war would have been real. Your two dominant powers, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were days, if not hours, away from destroying all life on Earth.
“It took thousands of our people and hundreds of our ships orbiting your world to plant the memory, but it saved your people.”
“Dr. White at the Silence Institute,” Miranda said suddenly. “He said something like that.”
“Yes,” Kla’aven said. “As Ambassador Davis said – sometimes the truth is a good cover for a lie.”
“But this is so huge. Such a massive lie. If it were to be revealed…”
“We hope to someday soon meet your people again in peace. If we are to do that, then they need to know the truth. The whole truth. Do you think they are ready?”
Miranda considered that. Just in her lifetime the opinion of Kla’aven and his contact with Earth had changed so much. She was a generation removed from “the war” and even further removed from the Silence. But had the world changed enough?
“I don’t know,” she said honestly.
They both sat quietly for a moment.
“I put no pressure on you about if, when or how you decided to reveal what you’ve learned today. I only ask that you not reveal anything until you are sure. That you tell absolutely no one if you decide not to reveal what you’ve been told.”
“I understand,” she said. “I already run the risk of being locked away if I tell what I know.”
“You may find a more receptive audience that you think,” Kla’aven said.
“Now, I think it’s time to get you home, Ms. Malcolm.”
As he started to stand, Miranda, almost without thinking, reached a hand out and touched his arm gently. His eyes widened and he looked down at her hand.
“Before I go I wondered if you might answer a couple of more questions – personal questions. Not for public record. They’re just things… things I need to know.”
Kla’aven sat back down in the chair and his eyes met hers.
“Very well,” he said a bit more formally. “If I can.”
Miranda swallowed. For the first time she was actually nervous about the answers she might get.
“About the Weatherby’s – Billy and Patricia. You were close to them both. Did you ever see them after… after the day everyone thought you died.”
Kla’aven was silent for a moment. His face never changed except for the look in his eyes…
“I never saw Billy again. But Patricia… Yes, I saw her once and I attended her funeral, though no one saw me.”
“Do you know how Billy really died? Was it the government?”
This time a shadow did cross Kla’aven’s face. He hesitated before he answered.
“Of everything that happened, what happened to Billy was the most tragic. Like his mother, after some time he became immune to most of my influence. I tried to calm his pain and his fear, but I couldn’t. At least not enough to let his mind gain control of itself.
“In his last year he fell into a spiral of depression and he took his own life by a drug overdose.
“No matter what good eventually comes of this entire situation, this is the one thing I, and all my people, will never be able to forgive ourselves of.”
Miranda let him sit in silence for a moment before she continued.
“You said you saw Patricia one other time. Tell me about it.”
“After Billy’s death I went to her and I offered to take her away. To take her to my home world. It would be a way for her to escape some of the pain I had brought to her. But she refused. She still had ties to this world she wasn’t willing to surrender.”
“Her husband,” Miranda said. “He didn’t die until years later.”
“Not her husband,” Kla’aven said. “Her daughter. Our daughter. Danielle Davis.”
Miranda’s head spun. She realized it had been right in front of her the whole time but she couldn’t see it.
“She never knew,” Miranda said.
“No,” Kla’aven said softly. “Not until tonight.”
“Now, if you will forgive me, Ms. Malcolm, I really must be going,” he said, once again rising from his chair. “You might like to know I am leaving Earth tonight, for a while at least. I am leaving with my daughter.”
Miranda stood too and a smile came across her face.
“Thank you Kla’aven,” she said. “Thank you for everything.”
Kla’aven nodded and turned and walked from the room. Within seconds, the driver walked in and motioned for Miranda to follow.
So much was swirling around in her head. The world had fundamentally changed today, at least for her. Now, it was up to her to decide if the world was ready to face this change.
As she settled into the back seat of the car, she tried to get her thoughts in order. She needed to hear that little voice inside her head that would give her some idea of what decision she should make.
There was only silence.
©2015 Joseph R Gurner
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.