Haulden in Roswell (UC, ADULT) (Complete)

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Post by Patroclus76 » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:00 am

I climbed back into bed with Jonathan, with all the attentive caution of a man getting up close and personal to a killer spider or a large, dangerous mammal. Unfortunately I was so fucking cold that as the sheets started to warm me I started to convulse. Although I tried to contain the violent attempts of my body to heat up, I kept shaking the bed (biting my tongue in the process) and before I could do anything, Jonathan’s bedside light was on, and my alien lover was staring, bleary eyed but evidently concerned, in my general direction.

‘Jamie man, what the fuck is wrong with you!’

I tried to reply but my teeth chattered violently and I shuddered again, like one of those mini quake machines they have in geology departments. At this Jonathan looked incredible concerned, I mean, given the fact he was some sort of galactic imposter in a skin suit grown in vitro!

‘Shit, are you having some sort of seizure?’ To my surprise he put his hand in my mouth, and lifted me up with his other. He seemed incredible strong.

‘I'mmm jusssst cc cc cold’ I stammered, the convulsions seeming to lessen, and then they would start again. He threw himself onto me, a curious move like he was shielding me, and he brought the duvet up and around me as well. He held me incredibly tightly, pressing my arms and legs to his. His body heat – always impressive – was astounding.

‘Where the fuck have you been, you’re freezing!’ He prized my eyelids back and looked at the top of each eye. I started to yield to him, my body responding. His warmth seemed literally to envelope me.

‘I went for a a pi piss’ I said, feeling suddenly incredibly, indescribably tired.

‘Where for fuck’s sake, in the park!’ he curved his head down behind mine, and kissed the top of my neck. It was an affectionate gesture, hardly one in keeping with an assassin, or was this just a complex charade? I shuddered again, biting my cheek. At that moment the bedroom door opened and the main light came on. Max was standing in the door in a pair of boxer shorts and an old T-shirt.

‘Hey guys, sorry –‘ he looked at Jononathan still pressing me close to him, half apologetically, as if he was intruding. He rubbed his eyes, his dark long hair thrown chaotically to one side, sleepy. Jonathan sat up, discretely keeping me covered with the duvet, and looked at Max intently. Looking at Max again, here, in my apartment, made me feel giddy. Drowsy Max.

‘He started having convulsions.’ Jonathan said quietly. At that Max seemed literally to appear next to me, as if he had flashed over the short distance from the door to the bed in a blur of movement. I was laying face up on the bed now, Jonathan half over me on one side, with Max kneeling on the other side, holding my hand and looking at me which such concern that I almost died on the fucking spot. I ought to get extremely cold more often!

‘Jamie, what is it? What’s wrong?’ I was still shivering but the great waves of convulsions had stopped. I stared at Max, unblinking, until my eyes watered and his outlined blurred. He put my hand to his mouth and kissed it, as if I was his maiden aunt or something.

‘You OK?’

‘I just got inc inc incredibly cold, I got out of bed and -‘ I looked over to Jonathan and I saw him looking at Max with a completely indecipherable expression on his face. God knows what he was thinking. In that instant I thought Jonathan looked both beautiful and yet rather sinister – and I felt that if I looked carefully at him I would see within him, his alien side, coiled up, ready to strike. I shivered violently again. I felt suddenly afraid. Shit what a way to introduced them! Would Max suspect him? Would he sense Jonathan was a skin?

‘I’m fine now, really – I think I’ll make a hot drink or something.’ Max smiled with relief, and then he looked up at Jonathan.

‘Hey, you must be this Max dude’ said Jonathan, in a careful voice, a sort of over prepared one, the sort you use for interviews or when making an anonymous threat over a telephone.

Max smiled slowly, guarded, as if he was pushing out with his feelings, scanning Jonathan. Seeing them together made me incredibly horny, polar opposites, dark and light, half shalloth and half Seeth.

‘And you must be Jonathan. Sorry about the intrusion, I heard Jamie call out and I am a light sleeper!’ Was he? Had I not just sat down besides him, sensing the rhythm of his breathing, possessing him while he slept, oblivious to anyone? He looked down and smiled at me, ‘and you had better get some rest because it's snowing again and no one is going anywhere tomorrow!’

I lay looking up at him, trying to see Wilcox in his face, the slightest trace or outline.

‘When did you get here?’ I asked as he replaced my hand by my side. My voice conveyed such an enormity of longing that Jonathan looked at me, suspiciously. Max’s body seemed lean and toned.

‘About an hour ago – I’ll get you a drink, Jamie, stay here with Jonathan.’

He walked away, backwards for a time. I put my hand to my face, catching Max’s smell on it, his curious burned, sandal wood smell, like autumn, like the wind in the trees, the white curl of wood smoke, the chill of incense. Jonathan sat watching him leave, his body tense.

As Max got to the door he stopped suddenly; abruptly. He was holding the door handle. He looked about him, as if he had heard a noise or caught a movement out of the corner of his eye.

‘What is it?’ asked Jonathan, standing up, naked, unassuming, as if he walked about naked all his life. Max was feeling for something, like a blind man feels for a key or a doorway set low into a wall. He then looked at Jonathan and at me. He stood back, resting on the back of his feet, bemused.

‘Nothing’ he said after a while. I knew exactly what that expression in his voice meant! Meanwhile I was trying to deploy one of my ‘I am utterly innocent’ expressions, devised by Liz Parker, actually.

‘Nothing’ Max said again, gathering himself together, ‘I just had a sort of flash, that’s all. I thought I saw another door – a big massive doorway!’ He smiled sheepishly. My heart went into an uneven beat cycle as if it was banging out an SOS in Morse.

‘A flash?’ I said, as if I had never heard the word.

‘Its ok, that was weird!’ he whispered, and then he seemed to forget it, leaving the room as if he has lived here, always.

For a while, Jonathan stood looking intently at the spot where Max had been standing, as if he was not sure he had actually gone or might come back at any moment. He seemed to be deep in thought, his expression again inscrutable. I apologised for waking everyone. Jonathan smiled, distractedly, and then walked out towards the kitchen.

`You can wear my shirt!’ I offered, but nudity evidently came naturally to Jonathan, either through the arrogance that came with a beautiful body, or the disinterest that came with being encumbered in a human form, not matter how desirable it was. He left me verging on a state of total panic. What the fuck! Didn’t Wilcox ‘remember’ Max having his weird flash, or was it too small a memory to retain after al those years? Or had the time-line already diverged too much? If that was the case then Wilcox’s memories were not going to be of much use! The future was indeterminate, contingent on what we did here, now – not predetermined? I felt hot now and panicky. I heard the kettle boil, and as always, the lights dimmed as it switched itself off. I thought I heard Max and Jonathan talking. I pictured them, Jonathan, lithely blonde and muscled’, Max, dark, watching, evaluating. Jonathan appeared with some hot coffee and sugar. He seemed quite instant about the sugar.

‘It's fucking snowing like crazy, this is so weird!’ he handed me a mug and sat next to me on his side of the bed, and then he said, eventually, half to himself:

‘He is not what I expected’

I tried to even out my breathing, blowing on the coffee.

‘What do you mean?’

Jonathan sat up, his pillows behind his neck, his arms around his raised knees. We looked like kids sitting under an apple tree or something.

‘He’s so young!’

I almost said something then. Jonathan had come back from a future wherein Max-Zan was an older, kingly figure, perhaps more in keeping with the man in my dreams. He would have seen Max-Zan on Antar, dark, majestic, years from now, trying to restore the wounds of years of war, and evidently failing.

‘He’s my age.’ I said innocently, hoping that this weird spinning feeling I had when I thought about the future would stop.

‘I guess..’ he said in a far off voice that sent goose pimples up my neck. Was he having second thoughts about killing or betraying his rightful King? What the fuck should I do? How could I warn Max without spilling the whole story? Spy or assassin? Wilcox ought to have come back with me. I drained my mug, put it under the bed as Jonathan turned the light off. The room slipped into instant darkness and for a moment I thought I was back in Grey’s library, only this time Wilcox-Max had exceeded himself, and taken the bed and Jonathan along for company. As I lay still, the last thing I heard, soft against the window, was the feathery whisper of snow falling thick and fast.

I had various dreams, but then again I always dream a lot. Once I used to keep a dream diary but it was so fucking weird that I was afraid it would fall into the wrong hands and get me put away, into the cell next to my mother! That night was no exception. I was in bed with a beautiful woman. She looked Spanish, dark, exotic, rather disconcertingly like a taller version of Liz Parker! She wanted me to have sex with her but I kept telling her I was gay and that we should play cards or watch television instead. But before I knew it she had peeled her clothes off and revealed an erotic, tight body, firm full breast and a neat wedge of pubic hair, like a neat dark triangle set deep between her legs. Before I could revive the card playing idea I was fucking away like mad, with her nipples in my mouth and her long hair over my face. It was astounding! I kept thinking how different women were, and how they smell more acidic than men?

Yet suddenly she began to change, in that bizarre, Ovidian way that people in dreams change. She changed into Max, which was so startling, because one minute I was kissing her, and sliding my cock deeply and evenly into her and then I felt Max’s tongue in my mouth and felt his stubble burning my face! And where my arms had felt a smooth, toned female body I now felt the hard quilted muscles of a man. Max eemed as surprised as I did! We both then said ‘Liz?’ together and then we both instinctively looked down. Before I could pull my cock out, it had already fused with Max’s, who evidently had been fucking me, probably as another Liz look alike, prior to my change! We were joined like Siamese twins. I looked at Max’s thick shaft, the way it joined into mine, and as I looked up over his naked, sweating torso I came!

I woke up, embarrassed to have sent jism all over the duvet at such an advanced age! The room was full of neon light, brilliant glares of sunshine magnified on snow. It barred low across the floor, without warmth. It seemed late, perhaps early afternoon. Disorientated, I elbow myself up looking for some tissues and then realise that someone, fully clothed, was sitting on the end of the bed. As my eyes focus I saw it was Jonathan and that he hadbeen crying or something. I also saw he was holding a gun and pointing it at my head.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 3:23 am

My powers of denial have always been impressive. I mean I had been in denial over my genius for years. And I was in denial over Max’s alien identity for all of four hours – from the time it took me to mince my way painfully from the hospital with a vial up my ass and get the slides of God boys blood under a microscope. I sat looking at Jonathan and the gun and trying to work out in what way this situation could be anything other than Jonathan holding a gun at me. Perhaps it was an elaborate joke? Perhaps I was dreaming – unfortunately Occam and his bastard Razor was once more shown to be exactly right: the simplest explanation was the most accurate.

Jonathan was a killer alien. Had he killed Max already? Was he just covering his tracks? Or was he going to start with me? While all this stuff was pouring through my head, I and Jonathan sat looking at each other as if we were in a play and were just about to be asked to rehearse the scene again. Why is it that very serious and real things always look and feel fake? Weird that. At least I has just had an erotic dream. In the face of death I was aware of my own semen drying and scabbing up on my stomach.

‘Jonathan what the fuck are you doing with a gun?’ This seemed a sort of natural place to start. I tried to capture Isabel’s tone when she had caught me smoking the other night, as if holding guns was a bad social habit best done outside or on street corners. He didn’t say anything, but kept looking at me.

‘Jamie I am so, so sorry about this! I mean, I was hoping that somehow we could avoid it and that you would allow Max to go forward with his idea to be made normal – its what he wants!’ he clicked something on the gun, the trigger, the fucking handle, god knows, I have never held one – but it sounded pretty terminal.

‘Jonathan, you cannot harm Max –‘ I said as if this was my last instruction on Earth.

‘I have no intention of harming him. I was sent here to kill you.’ He said this quietly as if he was just a tiny bit ashamed of it, as if he might be having second thoughts?

‘Me? What the fuck have I done? You mean you infiltrated your way into my affections?’ various plans were rushing through my head. How did they know Max would come to me? Jonathan looked upset. Even if he had resolved to go ahead and blow my head off he might still prove to be a bit flaky, it might take some time.

‘Max trusts you, you and Liz are the only people that Max will defer to and who can persuade him to keep away from DeMarr. So we have to kill you. On her own Liz is too unsure of the technicalities of the processes involved.’

‘DeMarr’’ Fucking hell! Was DeMarr in on this? I must have looked staggered but I scrambled to the offensive.

`You will never get Max to agree to this –‘ Fuck I wish so much that I had read the download. DeMarr – there had to be an explanation – DeMarr was not a killer! Visions of my supervisor rushed through my head: De Marr had to be innocent!

‘Jonathan, killing me will not change the future – there are others here who will stop you, others that returned from your future to resist you. They have been resisting you since 1999, you know this!’

Jonathan’s face changed visibly.

‘I know what you are Jonathan, and I know why you are doing this – but you are wrong – and Max is your King, and I though you were my fucking boyfriend!’

‘Who are you! I don’t nderstand how you know this!’ he stood up, shocked. I could see him trying desperately to get a handle on this. I could sense the fear that somehow Max had told me, that somehow his cover – and that of his masters – was already blown.

`Jamie, this isn’t easy for me! I enjoyed our time together, I really did, and the sex was great!’

`Cheers Jonathan, but it’s not exactly fucking easy for me either! Spare me and I will show you more secual technique than you can learn in two life times!'

‘Max is not my king, the Bone Hill Protocols abolished the monarchy!’ he said with some passion. They did? Fuck I should have read the bastard codex as well! I had no idea what he was talking about. Improvise! If I survived this I was planning to have serious words with Wilcox!

‘Only in its outward form!’ I said slowly, like someone trying to explain an abstract mathematical problem, or pull a massive rabbit kicking and screaming out of a very small hat. Jonathan frowned. I pressed on.

‘You know, of course, that many of the Shalloth, and the Seeth, were calling on Max to become King. Many of the Shalloth believed he would hold the Seeth to their word – many of the Antarians were calling openly for the restoration of Zan!’ Shit where was my cell phone. Where was Wilcox and Max! Jonathan was still totally thrown by these revelations, they clearly struck him as being plausible, but how much longer could I stall him. Was I pronouncing all these words correctly? Shalloth sounded ominously like shallot, which was a sort of onion. Did Jonathan look like a giant onion? All this pointless speculation bought me about three minutes of life.

‘Are you a shape shifter!’ he cried, moving defensively now, and waving the gun loosely about him. He walked towards the window, pensive, sweating. ‘Is that how you know all this? If the Seeth wish to restore the throne it is only to start again the tyranny that led to our enslavement! Zan and Yantra Parker must never have children! We shall sterilise Max first if we need to!’

‘Jonathan surely you do not wish the war to continue – it has raged long enough – and is Ki’vok any more trustworthy? He has reduced the Imperium to ruins!’

‘Ki’var.’ said Jonathan.

‘Yes, and him as well!’ Jonathan frowned and looked either puzzled or angry.

`Enough of this, for fuck’s sake Jamie!’ I could then see him visibly screw up his courage and almost close his eyes as he willed himself to shoot. I was completely paralysed. There was a slightly better chance that he might miss, in contrast to his point blank vantage point earlier at the end of the bed. I did not rate my chances very highlyI suddenly found myself wondering what it felt like to be shot. Was it going to be an intense burning sensation, would he maim me? Fuck, mind my face, Jonathan! At that moment, at the precise moment at which I expected to die, there was a brilliant white flash of light from the direction of the bedroom door and Jonathan swung his gun up, firing wildly above my head and hitting the cornicing above the bed head. There was an explosion of plaster, and Jonathan was thrown hard against the opposite wall by an invisible force, and there lay stunned or unconscious.

I leapt back, and scrambled upwards onto my feet – standing on the bed – stark naked, my hands on my head. A tall figure came bounding towards Jonathan and literally jumped on him, and then standing up, prodded him unceremoniously with a booted foot. The figure was in jeans and a denim shirt, with long hair thrown back across his shoulders. For a minute I thought it was Max, but I recognised the bear like turn of the shoulders, and as the figure turned I saw the sharp, handsome features of my very own Shark Boy, Michael!

The room was full of the sharp smell of gunshot, and an odd trail of smoke lay coiled in the middle of the room, curiously like cigar smoke. Michael, again transformed, his hair as long as Max, lighter somehow than I remembered it, looked at me with his striking, rather ironic eyes. ‘Hey, Jamie!’ he said this as if nothing had happened. He then did a typical Michael look, exquisite, priceless: his eyes darted away, and then looked back at me, frowning, his lips screwed up into a half smile, a half grimace. He was thinking of something to say.

‘Shit!’ is all I could say. And then, despite himself, and despite his semi-heroic pose, he laughed suddenly, rubbing his nose with his hand.

`Shall we hug now?’

`Michael!’ I said. I was suddenly aware that I was naked.

`Jamie, you have a physique – when did that happen?’ At that stage I sat down on the bed, and half covered myself with the duvet.

‘Michael, that guy tried to kill me!’ He stood, chewing his nails, and then walked over and sat down heavily next to me.

‘Yeah, I noticed that – but isn’t he supposed to be your boyfriend?’ He said this with full-on Michael irony. I looked at him, my affection for this man suddenly knew no bounds.

‘Yeah, kind of? But Shit! He tried to shoot me!’ Michael looked like a fucking rock star. He looked incredibly well, as if a life on the road dodging bullets was exactly what the doctor had ordered! He looked so much larger than the last time I had seen him, holding Maria in Alex’s room just before what I now knew to be Liz’s bombshell about Tess. Fuck, were they a rock group now? Was that their cover – with Maria managing and song writing?

‘Its good to see you by the way!’ he said, falling back on the bed, exhausted.

‘Michael, can you hug me please! I am in shock, you might need tomake me warm tea with sugar.’

Seemingly reluctantly, he sat up, wincing when he saw me holding out my arms. I knew him too well though. I knew him as Max knew him, and I knew that beneath all that studded indifference he was as tactile as anyone. Embracing him, he smelled cold, as if he had only momentarily been outside, and I felt him grinning as he slapped my back. He let go and collapsed on the bed again.

‘I guess we ought to call the police or something, or tie him up?’ He was looking at me from the bed, a little twinkle of devilment in his eyes. `Do you think it was a crime of passion?’

`I guess we ought to’ I said, reluctantly, ignoring his last comment. Yet Jonathan held the key to a great deal of information I was rather eager to get my hands on. And I had just had a fucking narrow escape and so had Max!

‘We ought at least to remove the gun!’

We scrambled up and walked to where Jonathan lay curled up, fetal like, as if sleeping off a hangover.

`Where’s Max?’ Michael squatted down and prodded my EX-boyfriend as if he was a snake or something. Since I was standing, when he looked up he stared straight at my cock and balls.

‘He’s out with Kyle checking on the Feds and is meeting up with the rest of the gang. Jamie man, can you put some pants on or something, not that I am prudish or anything! And you got some sort of snail trail over your lower abs.’

`Oh sure, sorry Michael!’

`No problem.’ I searched for a pair of pants. To my horror the only ones I could find were my gift from Max! I slipped them on quickly, and put a shirt over me. I was then MORTIFIED to see that Michael was stripping Jonathan of his shirt and un-buckling his jeans.

`Michael, what the fuck!’ He was whistling to himself. It was like watching someone filleting a fish.

`Relax, he’s not my type.’

`What are you doing!

Michael looked up, but his eyes stopped on my pants. I thought I saw a brief deep flash of ancient recognition.

‘Tasteful pants, I used to have a pair like that – fucking expensive.’

`Yeah? What happened to them?’ I crouched down now and helped Michael paw Jonathan. It was like being in one of those European arty porn movies.

`Max took them, I think its when he first had his wicked, Kingly way with Liz and he wanted to impress her with his tightly whities!’

He returned to Jonathan, who was now showing a band of firm toned abs and a top side of his left buttock above his own (expensive) pant band. Michael turned him rather tastefully on his side so he could look at his lower back. I suddenly realised what Michael was looking for.

`Do you think he’s a skin?’ I asked pathetically.

`Drop the act, James. How long do you think I was standing outside the door for!’

`You heard everything?'

`Yeah man, everything!'

SHIT! My mouth went suddenly like the Sahara. I had fucked up big time. This fuck up was off the scale of galactic fuck ups. I had only been involved in this conspiracy for a number of days and I had already completely compromised Wilcox’s strategy. I don’t think I have ever felt so useless. In the event all I could say was:

`You cannot tell Max, Michael, please!’ I sounded – I was – desperate. Meanwhile Michael had found what he was looking for: a small flap of skin carefully disguised over an odd silver looking button. ‘A ha!’ he said, patting it back down. He then stood up.

`What shouldn’t I tell Max? That Jonathan is a skin? That you know more about Max than Max does, and more about Antar than any of us! That you are involved in a conspiracy in which people want you dead and Max sterilised! What the fuck is that about!' I half expected him to exterminate Jonathan on the spot, but Michael dressed him again and then sat him up against the wall like a doll.

`He’ll regain consciousness in a few hours, so you had better explain what the fuck is going on Jamie, and remember you owe me for saving your not so skinny butt!’

So I told Michael everything. It was the only way. One thing I had learned from my early Roswell years was that the more elaborate and intricate the lie, the more complex and dysfunctional the effort needed to maintain it: in the end it always fails. And I needed help. Badly. I told him everything, about Wilcox, about the downloads, and when I had finished I walked to my pillow and fetched out a small silver disc. I picked it up – odd how it was always warm – always slightly vibrating – as if what it contained was too much for it – and I gave it to Michael. He had said nothing to me throughout my monologue. I knew, instinctively, that he believed everything I had said. I felt then – as Max had often felt – the real power and beauty of Michael’s friendship. He held the disc and weighted it in his hand.

`That is Grey’s journal – it’s called the codex. Wilcox gave it to me to read last night, perhaps we should read it together?’ Michael frowned. He then ran his hands through his hair as if suddenly indecisive.

`You want me to read a life I have yet to live?’

`I want you to read a life you might not live at all.’ He nodded, slowly, aware of the enormity of what he was about to read.

‘This isn’t a hoax, Michael – ‘

`I know. How do you read it?’

`Wilcox said just hold it in your hand and think about it!’

Michael looked over at Jonathan. ‘Ok, Max and Kyle won’t be back until this evening with the women of our tribe, so let’s get to it. I am not much of a reader –‘

`Its not as long as Joyce’s Ulysses!’ I added. ‘I am not sure you read it like a book – but anyway.’

I sat with Michael Guerin on the floor of my bedroom and I held the disc tightly in my hand. We were like children having a séance. It would have been comical had it not been so deeply, deeply weird. I thought of what? Wilcox? Grey – knocking him over outside the institute, his voice on the phone. Nothing happened and then, just as Michael was about to say something, a grey-green screen opened up immediately in front of us, spectral, translucent, (I could still see through it) and then a text began to appear. It cascaded and shimmered from nowhere, but it was more than a text: it was like something on the inside of our minds, a voice, someone touching you. It was the sort of experience you get when, sitting in a planetarium, you are shocked at the depth of the illusion, as the lights dim and the stars wink out in the dusk. What you know to be roof becomes an open sky, and what I knew to be my room, my time - became something vast and different.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:44 pm

What did we see, and how long did we sit there, shoulder to shoulder on the floor? I do not know. I cannot explain. Three days later I was still trying to comprehend it to myself, in my head, let alone write it down in a journal. Words are deceptive things, they are approximations to infinity, and they convey little of the mystery we lived through. Perhaps we saw nothing, read nothing because what unfolded before us took part in our heads, both our heads, simultaneously.

I know this because at times throughout the rushing, unfolding codex, Michael and I talked together – my Michael – the guy sitting next to me in my bedroom – alongside but invisible to the other Michael, the one we were both watching and commenting on as if in a movie, but a movie you could walk around and touch things in, unseen like ghosts. And what things! And Grey – in some senses we were Grey, as if the codex narrated not just Grey’s words but his sentiments, his emotions, his whole life, and through his, the parallel lives of my friends, lives that were at the moment of becoming, or had already gone, never to return.

And Max. Seeing Max through Grey’s eyes, being along side him, naked on the terrace, boyish in his pajamas, holding his new born children in his arms, aging and changing into something enigmatic, I cannot explain what it felt like. Being Grey made me forget the nagging, selfish pain that I was not in the codex at all, not referenced or thought about anywhere in his narrative. Somehow I was Grey in the sense that there existed a deep sense of empathy between us. His love for his friends, and above all for Max, his devotion to his son and father, left me hollowed out, used up, as if I had lived his life in addition to my own, every waking moment.

And Michael? What did he see? I cannot even begin to imagine what he felt, what he experienced. This was more than simply seeing yourself; this was being alongside yourself in a series of three dimensional, deeply personal moments that had yet to happen! And seeing yourself as another saw you, an arrogant, difficult youth, protective and assertive, reckless and adorable! But he also saw himself as a man Grey grew to love and trust, witnessing that unfolding, exquisite moment when mistrust gives way to friendship, despair to hope. Michael seemed to settle down to this experience well enough. He laughed a great deal with me in the codex, and he swore a lot as well, (especially at his own wedding!). He tried to comfort Isabel when she wept in the garden, only to cry when she ran into Jesse’s arms! We lived in those few hours the compressed lifetime of others. Was it in real time? It could not have been.

But some of it was so intense that it took up years of emotion! The birth of the children was almost too much for both of us, (I think we actually clung to each other!), the weathered, brittle Seeth crying out their ancestral joy and then Max with Om, the tailed and cuticled youth who struck me as the most beautiful, abstract depiction of masculinity I had ever seen! Yet at the end, the end of the journal was definately too much. Grey needed Max to narrate for him because of his pain, and the tone and feel of the codex changed, Max was speaking and feeling for the final days. So intense was his recollection that when Grey died, when Max like an angel, took him to the threshold of this world to let him free, I could not speak or move for a very long time. Was this what Max was? A spirit, like a boy, splashing through the waves? Was he that powerful? Michael sobbed uncontrollably, like a child abandoned all over again, and I felt somehow he sobbed for Max, in some complex, intimate way, as much as for Grey.

And of course, very near the end of Grey’s life, we lived out my dream of Max as king, his final avatar, the reincarnation from boy, tongue tied adolescent, half alien, bandit, hunted criminal. Seeing my dream as an actual event both shocked and comforted me – as if there was some curious, deliberate overlap in the timelines, a omen of good, something that was meant to be. Seeing it had the most extraordinary effect on me: as I recognised the context taking form in the narrative, it was like hearing the emergent chords of a mighty orchestra, a vast, epic symphony, returning to an opening key or a defining musical phrase. I clutched Michael's arm and said `this is it!'

Max returns from Antar and a great summit of the Seeth, because Grey was dying. Michael tells him, an older, worn but startlingly handsome Michael. Max flies straight from the Orbital and, without rest, travels to Bone Hill House. It is a damp, golden day, deep into the autumn, (2017-18?), a vast panoramic of trees and sky, the great house majestic in its solitude, rooted into the landscape. Max walks in anguish, his cape wrapped against the chill. His eyes are his soul, worn on his face. Grey is sitting, waiting for him on the terrace. Away from him, near his study window, his son – Julian – is playing with a tall, gaunt alien. How long has Grey waited, and for what purpose? The whole scene is mysterious and chilling. I think of stars, far off, winking in infinity, long gone even as we see them, the ghosts of what might have been, a message written in a language we might not recognise. And again I hear Max say, quietly, as if in supplication, the single word illuvatar.

The codex finished and diminished back into my hand. The disc was cold now, and the soft whisper of voices within it silenced. We became aware that we were sitting in total darkness, the room cold about us. I also became aware that Jonathan had gone. Stumbling to the bed, my eyes stinging, I put the lamp on. The room sprang around me, and I saw Michael, hugging himself, like a guy coming down from a bad trip, his eyes tightly closed, rocking slowly backwards and forwards. I sat down next to him and took his shoulders in my arms.

`Michael it’s ok, say something, anything?’ He shook himself, and looked at me through blurred eyes, like a drunkard, his face swollen with tears.

`Jesus’ he said, in a half whisper, but a whisper laced with horror. `We have to live through that!’ he said. He leaned into me and we sat like that for another hour. As I said, words are deceptive things. We had exhausted them for a time.

It was 8.30 pm when he finally roused himself. ‘We had better get our shit together, Jamie: Max and the others might be back at any minute!’ The idea of seeing Max in the immediate aftermath of the codex was too much.

`Jonathan has gone’ I said, as if this would shake us both up. He looked at me and said while sniffing, `Yeah, weird that. I think I saw him go.'

`He would have proven useful to us, and he is a risk on the loose now, knowing what he knows.’

`I wonder how much he saw? Weird he didn’t try and shoot you while reading –‘ Michael stood up, a little wobbly, but seemingly recovered from his revelations.

`His heart was not really in it the first time – but’ I said, over-riding a typical Michael rebuttal, ‘I am glad you zapped him all the same!’ Michael walked into the kitchen and started making coffee.

`I have really fucked things up, Michael. Wilcox asked me to keep the two time lines separate, god knows what will happen now!’

`Don’t beat yourself up’ Michael either had a very idiosyncratic way of making coffee or he had never seen a bubble-pot before. He dismantled it as if it was some sort of bomb.

`Michael, give it here –‘

`Whatever. Look we just have to make sure that most of what we saw happens, somehow, and roughly in that order – including the babies.’

`And your marriage!’

Michael laughed with delight, `Fuck yeah – didn’t Maria look beautiful! When we do get married, Om boy is staying outside with Jim!’ we both laughed, as if we were reminiscing about an actual event.

`And the vicar’s expression!’

`Fuck he looked mortified! Especially when Om wanted to understand the meaning of kissing!’ Michael shook his head and then rubbed his eyes. The bubble pot, correctly installed, started to hiss and steam. I stood with Michael, our relationship bizarrely transformed, or was it restored. We went and sat down in the living room, half lit by the hob in the kitchen. I had a sudden, curious thrill at being on my own with Michael. I had a vivid recollection of being in his trailer bedroom with Liz's diary. He had been pissing himself laughing over my allegations of his gay love affair with Max! Somehow he had managed to keep a straight face. I started laughing.


`Nothing - '

`So what do we do, Jamie. What’s our plan?’

`I think we should go to Wilcox. There is no way that Max will now agree to go through with the genetic manipulation, so the immediate risk is surely over - they might try a direct approach. A virus can be injected into Max against his will. Which reminds me, I need to read through the download and also sort out Jonathan’s insinuation that DeMarr is involved in this!’

`We could always tell Max’ said Michael suddenly, as if he had not been listening to me. `We could show him the codex – it would literally show him what has to happen?’ Michael said this thoughtfully. `They could all see it – ‘

`But that is so risky Michael, and it might cause a time paradox – ‘

`A what?’ Michael always made my moments of genius seem like a bad smell.

`It might create unforeseen consequences in the time line that prevent the very things we are trying to bring about, like Heinsenberg’s Uncertainty Principle?’ He pulled one of his faces, the one he pulled when Maria told him to go and change his shirt.

`Don’t try and overwhelm me with science. Think about it – you know how stubborn he can be – and he has become depressed lately and fucking moody’

I frowned knowingly at Michael, as if he indeed knew all there was about being moody.

`He has been doubting himself and blaming himself. I hate it when he does that, he goes off into a quiet place where he thinks I can’t follow and fucking blames himself!’ Michael said this with real passion.

`I know.’ I said quietly, recalling, with a start, my first sight of Max in the snow, his dark, self-accusation, the brilliantr heat of my own revelation.

The bubble pot spluttered violently, ejecting a plume of steam and a beautiful smell of coffee into the cold room.

`You had better keep the codex safe Jamie, it might call for another use of your butt, man, remember!’

`What?’ I was lingering over my coffee cup, feeling my blood prick up in expectation for my caffeine hit.

`The vial? Max’s blood – your sterling service!’

`No fucking way! I’d rather stick in my arm!’

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Post by Patroclus76 » Thu Sep 21, 2006 4:35 am

Michael laughed and leaned back into the sofa. `Ok, ok, I thought you might enjoy it, that’s all!’

I drank my coffee slowly, like a true addict, savouring the moment. We were silent, thoughtful, both lost in the extraordinary complexity of our current predicament.

`Perhaps we should just go to see Grey now, immediately?’ said Michael eventually.

A similar thought had been taking shape in my mind as well. It was the evening of the 26th of January 2006. Max met Grey in late March, around the 24th or 25th. Would it matter going to Grey now, even before Liz was pregnant? It was the pregnancy that had driven them to Grey, inspired the whole curious use of Wyndham’s novel. Was any of this necessary now? I looked across at Michael, who was sitting with his eyes closed, as if he was nursing an intense headache.

`I don’t know Michael, how would we do it? What would be say?’ After a pause I added `Let’s leave it for a while, we’ll go and see Wilcox, see what he suggests? I have to tell him that you’ve read the codex – somehow I don’t think he is going to like that!’

`And you better read that fucking download when you get time, and find out about DeMarr!’ Michael leaned his head in my direction. He looked tired, drained. I wondered what he was thinking.

`Yeah, jesus I have been meaning to read that since DeMarr gave it to me. If he is involved in this mess, it has to be without his knowledge. I cannot believe he would willingly cooperate in this – ‘ I didn’t sound very sure.

`I bet you thought the same about Jonathan?’ Michael suggsted, quietly, adding to my doubts. I raised my eyebrows at him.

`Let’s go and see Wilcox, sound him out about a short cut to Grey, see what he thinks?’

`And you were saying that Wilcox is Max?’ Michael sounded almost afraid.

`He is Max from the future, sent back to protect himself.’ That sounded tautologous, even to me.

`So Wilcox in the codex was Max? Won’t he’ll feel a bit weird seeing me?’ Michael had already asked this several times. He was clearly having problems with it. I felt like adding `Not as weird as you seeing him!’ but thought better of it.

`Wilcox is a pragmatist I think. He must have known there was a risk of others seeing the codex when he gave it to me. He must also know that what we read need not happen again – it is not predetermined. What we have here is, in a sense, a version of the future. That is the dilemma we face. Can we change some of it without ruining all of it? And some I fear is already changed.’

Michael whistled to himself. `Shit! I didn’t seem to like Wilcox much, did I, not until he announced he knew who we all were – now I understand how he knew! I should have known!’ He ran his hands through his hair, and then, striking out on a different track,

`I didn’t understand the painting? Can you remember? The one Grey did not recognise? In the room with Liz and Max? April Ist ot 2nd, after the incident with Ki'var's head?'

Oddly, despite the bewildering detail of Grey’s life from 2006 until his death in 2018, I remembered the scene vividly. Max, Liz, Grey, coming together in a sense for the first time. It seemed at that stage, Grey was beginning to grasp the mystery that was Max,and the mystery of Antar's long involvement with Earth.

`I have no idea Michael, it's all a bit of a blur. I am sure, once I get the hang of it, that I can go back and re-read – re-live – bits of what we saw.’ My mind felt slow, drugged. There had been conversations between Seeth and Grey over paintings, several, and there had been several over the one Grey requested to see when he died. Michael had gone to fetch it, urgently, running through the great House. I looked at my friend and thought again how odd, perhaps how unwise, it had been for him to have seen so much of his future.

`There is a lot I don’t understand to be honest Michael. He thought the painting would change somehow, that it would warn him? A signal that Max was in danger?’ I recalled Grey's description, a cave on a high mountain. It had worried him from the start.

Michael lay with his head back. I could see his face in profile. Our shoulders were touching. Such casual intimacy with Michael always thrilled me. I recalled Max touching my face in the park, opening his soul to me, showing me his love for Liz but also his love for Michael. Yet did Michael know how much Max loved and relied on him? I had seen them argue in the past. Some of their fights had been bitter and intense. Sensing me looking, he opened one eye, bird like, swivelling it in my direction.

`Not changed’ he mused. `I think he kindda thought something would come through it?’

`Through it?’ I had no idea what he was talking about, but I felt shivers go down my spine. Something in the way he said it pricked my memory. He slapped my leg rather painfully.

`Oh Fuck I don’t know. And another thing – ‘ Michael was clearly on a roll. `Think about it - there will soon be two keys to the Granolith? The one from the future, brought back to operate it, and the one that is coming from Antar? Is that possible?’

He looked as if his head was about to explode. I felt guilty of having under-estimated him, again. Michael had always been like that though. You thought he was one thing, and then, whoosh, he was something else. I smiled.

`Fuck knows! Look, Michael, let me call Wilcox now – we need to have some plan before Max and the gang come back! Wilcox will have a plan! ’ My mind was racing. Wilcox would probably go fucking ballistic when I brought Michael along. But I was beginning to worry that things were seriously not going to plan, at least not our plan. Knowing that Wilcox aimed to force the conspirators to reveal the whereabouts of the Granolith, the revelation that two keys would exist, not one, seemed rather critical. Had he thought of that?

`It’s clear what our priorities have to be, Michael!’ I had lost my cell phone.

`It is?’ he replied, frowning.

`Max has to get Liz pregnant! And no later than February 16th!’

Michael nodded, shrugging. `I know that. But it’s not going to be easy. Ever since Tess, he’s been paranoid about unprotected sex. If he could have his way he’d put a rubber glove on his cock!’

`He would?’ I had evidently sounded too interested, too animated, since Michael pulled a face.

`Try not to perve too much over this, Jamie. The future of Antar evidently depends on it!’

`I’ll be discreet, I promise!’ An image, uncalled for, flashed into my mind of Max with a yellow washing-up glove on his massive cut cock. I found my cell phone down the back of the sofa, along with dried popcorn and the TV remote. I rang Bone Hill House again, without hesitation. After a while Grey picked up. Michael was leaning over, straining to hear.

`Stop breathing so loud!’ I whispered as Grey said `Yes?’ in his characteristically unfriendly, odd way, as if he was shocked to find he possessed a telephone at all or that anyone rang it.

`Ah, hello, I am sorry to bother you but can I speak with Wilcox?’

`Are you the young man from the store, again?’ The emphasis was on again, and Michael looked at me with his puzzled `what the fuck?’ look , the one he did so well and so often.

`Yes, yes it is. I need to check something with him. Is he there?’

`You do? Well I am afraid he is not here. He is out somewhere, I am not entirely sure where, have you a number?’

`You took it down the last time, he has it –‘

`Oh did I?’ he said, absent mindedly. Michael smiled, to himself, as if in memory of a man he had known and loved but not yet met. It was only then that I felt the complete strangeness of what was happening to us.

`Could you just ask him to call me?’

`I will indeed, I assume it is urgent?’

`Yes, well sort of, it’s personal. I mean, its about shopping – ‘ fuck I could no longer lie with the fluency of my vintage years. Michael winced and before I could attempt to dig myself out, he snatched the phone and switched it off.

`That was impressive Jamie, you’re losing your grip. That was about as effective as the soup story you gave to Max to hide you hair dye fuck up!’

`Damn Wilcox he is never there when you need him!’ I stood up and went to the window. Another cold night lay wrapped over the city, but there had been no fresh falls of snow since my return from the Library. There seemed to be more traffic. I found that comforting

`So what do we do?’ asked Michael.

`Go for a walk?’

`Yeah – I could so with some air after all this alternative future crap – come on! Will Wilcox ring us?’

`Sort of.’

I jumped up and went to fetch my coat. I needed some air as well, badly, I needed to put some normality around me, something I was used to, familiar buildings, the park in winter, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, my gym. I started embalming myself in Wilcox’s scarf. We turned to go and then we both saw it. It was pretty hard to miss to be honest. Coming through under the apartment door, streaming through the gap I usually covered with a coat to keep out the icy blast from the stairwells, was a brilliant shaft of light. It was so intense that it lit up the sitting room carpet and touched the far walls. It was intensely white and reminded me of a scene out of Close Encounters. I wondered whether Jonathan had turned up, with reinforcements, having solicited direct alien assistance!

`What the fuck!’ said Michael under his breath. Coming from a man who had seen what Michael had seen I took this to be a bad omen. An attack by the Skins? A mass FBI raid with loads of X-File torches?

`It can’t be Antarian related yet, surely! I mean its only January!’ I sounded hysterical. Was there anything else I could possibly do to fuck up the timeline? Despite having broken away from geekdom onto the lower rungs of Jockville, I was still useless at team games! Wilcox was probably desperately signalling for a substitution! (`Take him off!!’)

Michael assumed his ninja position, the one with his right hand raised, and his eyes intense and wide. The one that always gave me a stiffy. Before I could offer some pointless but genuine advice like `lets hide behind the sofa’ Michael had thrown the door open. The light momentarily blinded us.

I do have a learning curve. But it is so small as to be largely ineffective. For instance, you would think that having been snatched from my bathroom and dropped into a vast Gothic library, I would take the view that confronted me through my door with a certain degree of stoicism, even perhaps familiarity. But no. My mind wheeled off like a flock of seagulls, screaming. Michael went `Shit!’ while all I could do, in grim determination, was mutter `Wilcox!’ under my breath. No doubt Wilcox was behind this latest spectacular demonstration of the wanton manipulation of time and space.

The front door of my apartment usually opened onto a shabby corridor leading to the elevators and the stairs. The corridors were mustard (I think) and scuffed with wear. Now it opened into a wood. A huge wood of what appeared to be silver birch trees, white and caked in snow, their charcoaled bark rings staring at us like eyes. Moreover, a wood in broad, dazzling daylight. The snow was deep and massed in great cones and drifts, but through the fine latticed roof of branches there arched an almost spring sky. I strode purposefully through the doorway, with Michael complaining and yet following.

`This is Wilcox’s doing – he can’t just use a phone or make a personal visit! So Max like, in a way!’ The snow was incredibly deep between the trees, although in places it had blown clear before refreezing. Turning to look at my apartment door from the wood was incredibly strange. There was just a door in the middle of nowhere, with the sitting room dark inside it, still in early darkness, but around and above it trees and sky.

`Somehow I don’t think this is Narnia?’ said Michael, rubbing his hands together, ready for a fight. But I had already spotted behind a bar of evergreens, the wild flurry of Grey’s folly, a flurry of turrets and towers beneath the wide sky. It felt very early in the morning.

`No, we’re in the eastern part of the state. This is Bone Hill House, where Grey lives.’ I walked towards the House, with Michael stumbling after me.

`How do you know that? And when are we?’

The trees thinned. `Sort of now, I hope! Give or take a few hours.’ The ground levelled and the birch trees drew back from us. We found ourselves in a small stand of pine, sweet smelling, striking our faces, and passing through these we came across a ruined, abandoned swimming pool, half filled with thick ice impressed with leaves, like a child’s collage, a drawing of ruin. Before us rose the sheer wall of the great library window, mullioned like a monastery, inscrutable, ominous.

`Holy crap!’ said Michael. He must have recognised the place from the codex, with all the strange distorting emotions with which one recalls a premonition. He shivered. `Fuck this is so weird!’ he looked about him, frantically reconstructing some scene. `I am here playing cards with Seeth Sia Ova when the news arrives that Om is to be born! And how the fuck did we break into there!’ He pointed up to the thick greenish glass panes. He looked again at the dried pool. `Are you sure this is now? The pool looks wrong, we have been swimming, and the gardens are – ‘ He stopped, bemused. The way he said it made me feel almost afraid. Was this Wilcox’s doing? Or had another power taken us?

At that moment I spotted three people sitting with their backs to us, off under a sort of ruined pagoda, veined with creepers. Two were old, a man and a woman. One was young. The women, shorter, grey haired, was leaning her head on the old man’s shoulders, on the thick tweedy cut of what looked like an officers Great Coat. He had his arm around her, and they were talking softly, sharing something intimate. They looked like they had sat there forever; weathered into the landscape, like a statute, a sculpture. There was something infinitely touching about them, huddled together in the whiteness. The old man was Wilcox, of that there was no doubt. Next to him was Jonathan, there was no doubt about that, either, without a coat, and with his arms together as if cold or as if in supplication. He turned first to catch sight of us and looked down at the floor, an emblem of shame. Michael drew along side me and pointing, raised his eyes. He had motioned at Wilcox. I nodded.

Wilcox must have sensed us approaching because he turned, and the women lifted her head. I caught her profile as she looked at Wilcox, like someone preparing a surprise. Then she turned. At that moment my heart seemed to stop altogether. The world became intensely still. Michael, breathing in as he anticipated the strangeness of meeting Wilcox, cried out as well. The old women, her grey-white hair neatly taken up and away from her face, was Liz, Liz Parker. But Liz as she would look in sixty years time or so, old, worn, but incredibly wise, her face attentive and beautiful. She looked at me, a look of recognition, almost of relief. Yet when she saw Michael her face froze momentarily, as if surprised, and then a mask of her younger self appeared, the impish smile, the radiant eyes. And before Michael could struggle to attach some sort of meaning to this, to how it was possible, Liz was walking slowly towards us, he gloved hands reaching out to both of us. She glanced back at Wilcox who nodded gently, as if all had gone so far to plan. I noticed that she wore the same scarf as I did.

She stood before us both, sprightly, self-contained. She wore a thick coat and a sweater and looked quite small next to Michael, slightly eccentric. I mumbled something, inarticulate, random. But Michael was speechless, his eyes wide, his mouth slightly open. He stared at her as if she was a sort of mirage, another complex hallucination. He then looked at me for clarification. I shrugged.

`Liz?’ he asked eventually, quietly, a soft, almost scared voice I had not heard him use before.

`Hello Michael!’ she replied. Her voice had not really changed. Perhaps it had deepened, or perhaps it was emotional now, seeing Michael as he once had been, young, dramatic, his eyes expressive and demanding. Wilcox was walking up slowly, his boots crunching on the snow. Michael looked at him searchingly, surprised that he could not recognise him, surprised, perhaps even afraid of the whole situation now. I had never really seen Michael out of his depth. In a sense it was deeply touching.

`Its been a very long time since I saw you, Michael’ Liz whispered, taking his hand. I thought she sounded close to tears, but she smiled in that brave determined way Liz smiled in, and then she turned and took my hand. `And it has been even longer since I saw you, Jamie!’

`It has? At Alex’s funeral?’ I looked at her, amazed at her transformation.

`Not quite what I meant!’ I had not understood my peril.

`Me met at a conference in Paris in 2021, and then briefly in 2030 when you received the Nobel Prize for Bio-Chemistry jointly with a Japanese student of mine – but then you and I are off world a lot and keep missing!’

`Off world?’ I mouthed. I thought I might faint.

`Liz!’ Wilcox stood behind his wife and put his arms around her, `We really have to try and show some respect for Jamie’s sensitivities! He’s still struggling with his doctoral thesis!’

`Hey what happens to me!!’ spluttered Michael. He looked at Liz intensely and then, after a moment’s hesitation, they embraced. He pressed her head into his neck, as if she was frail and old. The look on his face was extraordinary, full of unlooked for, bewildering affection.

`Were we ever this young, Max?’ she said. Michael looked at Wilcox.

`Max? Is that really you?’

`Hello my brave First in Command!’ and Wilcox’s voice again betrayed just the faintest outline of Max’s, as if somehow it was trying to break through, to show itself.

`How come I don’t recognise you?’ Wilcox and Michael shook hands, an odd formal gesture, but they remained linked, their hands locked together. I had a curious image of Michael with his father. It came from nowhere and vanished.

`Because I have acquired the ability to shape shift. It’s easier to remain as Wilcox for the time being though, and for complex reasons I no longer look quite like Max.’ I looked at him curiously.

`Can I shape shift as well?’ asked Michael eagerly, in such a way that Liz smiled, no doubt remembering endless competitive arguments between them, fond memories of a life long gone?

`No, I am afraid it was an accident, or a coincidence, Michael. In travelling back in time I was exposed to some form of radiation that triggered the ability –‘ Wilcox looked at me and saw that I was watching Jonathan. Jonathan was shivering alone by himself, looking utterly wretched.

`I am not sure he really tried to kill me. Wilcox.’

Michael went to say something but Wilcox raised his eyes quizzically, `He is not sure either, and it was a close shave, but he did not do it, and he is genuinely sorry.’

`You’ve met him before, but you don’t remember, do you?’ put in Liz, looping her hand through Michael’s and Wilcox’s arms and walking with me to my miserable ex boyfriend.

`I have?’

`Yes – he was a student at Roswell, he was the guy who knocked the telescope over during our night time viewing of Rigil!’

`What! The Astronomy class?’

`That’s right!’ When Liz laughed and smiled her age fell effortlessly from her. `The evening after you bit Kyle in the arm!’

`But that Jonathan was some spotty geek!’

`So were you if I remember!’ put in Wilcox, pinching my arm. `At one stage you had tanned handprints down your neck!’

`Shit, you noticed!’

Michael laughed, a sign he was regaining his bearings. We had drawn alongside Jonathan who seemed so miserable and cold that I went up to him and embraced him. He seemed startled, and when I kissed his cheek he started to cry. I took my coat off and put it over his shoulders.
`Hey gangster boy!’ He smiled, weakly, and my heart melted. `No harm done!’ Michael did not look so forgiving.

We stood around, five people in the white, silent courtyard that stood behind the great library at Bone Hill House. Wilcox looked at Michael. `I did not intend to involve you, Michael. But things have become rather complicated and we are running out of time. I need my old wing man! Jamie was right to show you the codex, although I am not sure what the consequences of this will be. I do not think it is a good idea – yet’ he looked at Liz, as if they had already had a disagreement about this, `to show it to the others or to Max.’

Liz looked at me intently, running her hair back behind her ears. `Have you discussed with Max the issues concerning genetic recoding? Have you told him it's a trick?’

`Not yet – I will today – when we get back. He’s been out all day, looking for the others.’

`Yes, I remember.’ Liz interrupted, `You’ll tell him this morning.’ She then looked at Michael in an odd, rather ominous way.

`Have you had time to look at the download yet, Jamie?’ There was an academic confidence to her, a sharpness that thrilled me. Liz would become all that she dreamed of becoming. I suddenly felt intensely happy. And so would I!

`Well no, I mean I’ve been rather busy!’ I sounded plaintive. Liz smiled an apology.

`Of course, sorry – I would like to have a look over it as well, though. We should meet somewhere – not Old Possums! I suspect it originates from the Boston clinic and the experiments Grey started on the children from Phoenix. Still, let’s make a date at some stage.’

`They weren’t FBI agents who took over the experiments from Grey, were they?’ Michael asked this, the details fresh in his mind from the codex.

`No’ Wilcox answered. `Oddly, the FBI and the Shalloth have been in league from the beginning. They have morphed into the same conspiracy with the same agenda and they are both now running out of time. Jonathan – ‘ Wilcox addressed my ex-lover kindly, as if they were the best of friends. It somehow brought a lump to my throat.

`Tell them about your conspiracy to stop Liz’s pregnancy.’
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Sun Oct 01, 2006 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:22 pm

Jonathan told us a story about a man called Henry Maitland, a future senator and attorney general, but a man who was at the moment impersonating the new director of the Human Genome Institute, a man called Davies. This was a man DeMarr disliked intensely, a man I had met once or twice. `Davies’ (Maitland) had created the download incident in order that the institute could lay claim to a scientific breakthrough, create a `splash’ in the press, and hopefully attract Max’s attention.

Maitland had been in Boston at the time of Grey’s experiments, either as Davies or as someone else, working with the FBI and the Shalloth together, and had copied the research findings – while adding refinements he had brought with him from the future. Knowing that DeMarr was my supervisor, and that I were a friend of Max’s with knowledge of their alieness (thanks to Jonathan), Davies made sure that DeMarr was involved in the break-in, convinced he would show the printout to me. (Poor DeMarr, innocently led like a lamb to the slaughter).

To make doubly sure that Max would take the bait, the tasty morsel of normality dangled in front of his beautiful, firm lips, Davies had made Max familiar with DeMarr's work by saturating Seattle with news of its famous award-winning Institute. Davies had played up DeMarr as a genius on DNA splicing at the expense of Grey, a subject that had led to Grey’s visit, his subsequent momentous collision with me, and an argument with Davies – the one DeMarr had overheard. It transpired that the idea to be `made human’ however, had been Max’s all along, (`he thought of it himself, out of his own sense of grief, over Alex, over Tess. And over his son by her.’ Liz had added this carefully, looking at Wilcox with great wisdom. Wilcox had nodded. `Guilt is a powerful thing, like love, or hatred.’ He spoke softly, about himself. `Max had longed to renounce his alien half, the monster within, almost from the moment he had known who he was, or what he was. Only for brief moment with Tess, did he seek to renounce his humanity. With her betrayal, he resumed his earlier desire, his desperate desire, to be human.’)

But the plans `Davies’ had devised had been hastily thought out, even rushed, as Maitland realised that they were fast approaching the Event Horizon. It appears that, soon after Grey’s visit, he had second thoughts. Partly about me, and my reliability in simply encouraging Max to meet DeMarr, but also about DeMarr as well. Davies overhead DeMarr apologising to Grey for appearing to take all the credit for their joint research work, and for all the publicity that linked DeMarr's name to the Institute. On hearing this, Davies realised that DeMarr would undoubtedly go to Grey with the download as well as me. Grey would recognise it immediately as his own, since all the original copies were kept at Bone Hill House. Grey was already suspicious of Davies. Grey’s reputation was such that he could still, even after all the innuendo of the Boston accident, get attention and cause problems with the staff at the institute where he had a large following.

Then Jonathan began to suspect that I knew he was a skin, and when he reported this Davies assumed – rightly – that I had already been compromised by contact with `Future Max’. At this point the plan fell apart. So Jonathan was instructed to kill me, and then along with Davies and his remaining accomplices, to kidnap Max and remove him to the Institute and sterilise him and get the matter sorted once and for all, before DeMarr had time to take the findings to Grey.

Jonathan stopped at this stage. The sun had come up and around the eastern wing of the great house and was beginning to visibly melt the snow. A thaw seemed to be setting in at last, creating a slight fog or mist across the ground.

`What about DeMarr?’ I asked, at this latest avalanche of information settled in my head.

`DeMarr is in serious danger’ said Wilcox. `He has already contacted Grey about the download, but was so over-excited Grey didn’t understand a word he was saying. Grey has agreed to drive – for me to drive – him to Seattle tomorrow, but I fear Davies will panic and try and silence DeMarr. And Max is in very grave danger indeed.’

All through this, Michael had been pacing about slightly, scuffing the snow, impatient to get into the fight, like some dangerously caged animal. It would not have surprised me if he had snarled. He turned to us ad said suddenly, dramatically.

`Ok, let's go after the bastards! We can keep Max and the rest holed up in Jamie’s apartment while we sort this out – how many skins are there now?’ he looked sharply at Jonathan.

`The apartment is not safe. Davies knows where Jamie lives, and so does the FBI. As for our conspirators, there is only one skin now, the former Antarian ambassador to Earth, known by the name Heleq Marva, but we have no idea what physical form she has acquired. Her original husk died in 2002 but she managed to acquire a new one. Apart from Maitland, there is a Valaen, a humoid with telepathic abilities, who is with Davies in Seattle. His abilities include some that you have already experienced with Tess –"

`Oh shit’ said Michael `mind warping?’

`Yes, but not as effective. He must be working with Davies or close to him. ’

`So where do we go if my apartment is not safe – haven’t you got backup? The other Seeth that came back with you?’ Michael looked intrigued, but I was sad to suddenly find I was moving. I rather liked my apartment. I had been looking forward to weeks holed up with my old friends, spooning soup into Max’s mouth and washing his socks and dealing with Liz’s morning sickness.

`We have backup. It is on its way. As for the apartment, I think we have a few days before Davies decides to strike. Jonathan has already informed him that Max, Michael and Liz have moved off, heading for Canada. As yet he doesn’t suspect Jonathan of having defected. You are going to have to head for a place called Wenatchee, it’s a town about 12 miles west of here. Go to a bookshop called The Classic Companion and ask for Brandon.’

`Brandon?’ Michael and I said together, as if we were either deaf or it was a stupid name.

`Yes, he will fix some accommodation for you.’ Wilcox seemed decisive.

`Wilcox that is not going to be easy! Accommodation is so expensive –` I can’t believe I said that, but I did. I can be so petty bourgeoisie at times like this, so typical of me to lower the tone from high adventure to money!

Michael rubbed my arm, `I can change dollar bills Jamie, money is no problem. You need never work again!’

`Oh yes he will, or no Nobel prize!’ Liz laughed. She pulled her collar up and stamped her feet. There was something of the librarian about her, the way she looked then, bookish, owl like in the blinding snow. She looked the sort of academic who set fire to their slippers and lost their glasses. `You had better go.’

`And with all due respect Wilcox, how am I going to get Max to do this? He – you – are not the easiest to get to follow my advise!’

`You and Jamie will work on him together, love him a little Michael. Stop going at him head on. Surprise him – me – you know how disarming you are when you go all touchy feely!’

`Yeah, ok, touchy feely. We can do that!’ Liz was laughing. I found it so hard to believe she was now old enough to be my grandmother! The sun felt oddly warm after the bitter cold of the last few days. It was cheering. The suddenly light made me feel hysterical. After the intense cold the air felt expansive, fresh. I turned to Wilcox.

`Why don’t we just go to Grey now? Just go to him and tell him what is happening? What difference would it make at this distance, late January as opposed to late March?’

`But Jamie, Max goes to Grey because of my abnormal pregnancy! I am not pregnant yet!’ Liz put her head down into her collar, pushing it up with her chin. It was a habit I had watched her do a thousand times at West Roswell.

`But it doesn’t have to be the same – so long as Seeth Sia Ova arrives when Liz is close to giving birth, the rest will follow?’

`You cannot be sure’ said Jonathan with sudden authority. `Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle comes into play, since time travel involves quantum fluctuations over immense periods. The variables are infinite. A small change, the slightest variation in what happens brings with it immense risks. The fact that we are here now is a huge risk. You have to keep to the original line as much as you can!’

I looked at Michael knowingly and smirked, and I mouthed Heinsenberg’s principle at him, having already mentioned it before, and he stuck his tongue out at me.

`Always listen to the Shalloth when they talk of time.’ Said Wilcox, shepherding us with some haste now, like a man trying to close a bar. `Right, back through the wardrobe door with you all –‘ he seemed remarkably light heartedly.

`What about the traitor skin?’ said Michael, unkindly.

`He’s going back with you –‘ said Liz brightly.

`What! Are you mad – he tried to blow Jamie boy’s face off!’

`Michael!’ I smiled to hear a familiar tone of controlled patience in Wilcox’s voice, as if he was training a difficult dog. A smile appeared quickly, fleetingly on Michael’s face as well.

`Jonathan is contrite. He has cooperated in a way that was quite unlooked for, and that will bring this whole thing to an end very soon.’

`He has?’ I looked at him suspiciously.

`He has revealed to us where the Granolith is.’ Wilcox said this quietly, softly. There was a hush. He said nothing more. He looked at Liz, and then at me, and then Wilcox turned slowly and looked up at the immensity of Bone Hill House and at the great library windows. I followed his eyes. I half expected to see something on the roof, a sort of ship, or a flag with an arrow saying `here’.

Michael, shielding his eyes, looked at Max and Liz. `The library?’
`The House, actually. Although the main operating portal is in the library!’
I felt a thrill of anticipation run down my spine.

`Oh my god, way to go Jonathan!’ gasped Michael, `Jamie will let you back into bed for that!’ and then he thought of something. `But you know there will soon be two keys to it, not one?’

`Of course.’ Said Wilcox, to Michael’s obvious irritation. `We are relying on that. The key that the conspirators stole and brought back with them is hidden; Davies will never willingly give it up. It is his passport out of here to escape or to try again. But we know that one is on its way to us, in K’ivar’s head, and we know exactly where it will be. On April 2nd, the ceremonial head jar will be on Grey’s desk, in the long chamber that will be his laboratory. Then we can activate it and destroy the Granolith – ‘

My head was spinning slightly. Wilcox had clearly no need now to force Davies – Maitland - to reveal where the Granolith was hidden – Jonathan had done that for him. But there were still two keys.

`If Davies finds out what Jonathan has told us, he will try and use his key first?’ I asked carefully.

`Yes, that is true. But at least we know where the Granolith is and can guard it – we also have the singular advantage of living in it’ Wilcox laughed to himself. `The old cunning bastard – K’ivar – what better way to disguise the Granolith! We were looking inside it all the time! A stroke of genius, really! The plans Seeth Sia Ova found in Eqbatana did not reveal where it was hidden, it revealed what it looked like!’ He shook himself, from some far off, future memory `Come on, we have to move!’
We walked back, in silence, but excited, elated almost. Michael seemed to be glowing. I found myself walking next to Liz, who put her arm around me maternally.

`Who is Maitland, what's his motive? Wilcox told me he is a local?' I looked at her expectantly.

`Yes. He is. I spent some time recently in Roswell, stupidly disguised of course, trying to avoid my mother and father, who died in 2033 and 2034 respectively, that was weird! I have been looking into some records that might reveal who Maitland is.’

`Roswell? That local!’ it had meant to be a joke, but it had not worked. Liz looked serious, sad. She had looked up at Wilcox who was joking with Michael.

`Yes. That local! He was born in 2000, and appears to have been adopted out of state. At the moment it is odd to think that he is about 5 or 6! A normal, happy child, evidently ambitious.’ I sensed her holding something back from me.

`Liz – I just don’t –‘ She smiled and pinched my cheek.

`I’ll tell you more. We’ll meet in Wenatchee and have a good gossip, but you concentrate on me here, now, young Liz Parker who wants children and who loves Max but feels her life is slipping by her! Help her as well! We are going to have a fantastic friendship Jamie, and we are going to see some extraordinary things, and we are going to start very soon indeed – in about an hour actually!’ I felt my eyes water, perhaps from exhaustion, perhaps from the bright warm sunlight that spoke of February and a spring that would change the world beyond recognition.

`And we will grow together because we love the same things Jamie, and the same man. Remember that!’ Was she being ironic? I felt tears prick in my eyes. She hugged me tightly, kissing my cheek. `We must have faith, Jamie’ she said, `that the universe will unfold as it should. He has more than enough love for both of us. No one loves him like we do, not even Grey, perhaps not even Michael – although.’ She looked up, musing `You can never be too sure!’ We approached the surreal sight of my apartment door, propped open in the wood, showing my living room now in daylight.

`Sorry about that’ said Wilcox slightly apologetically, `I got the times out of phase.’

`So we will arrive a long time after we left?’ put in Michael. He looked at me as wiped my face and tried to pull myself together.

`About twelve hours I am afraid! And you’ll have an argument with Max’ said Liz, trying not to laugh, `for not telling him you were going out!’

`Oh crap!’ We walked through the door and closed it. Almost immediately the light under the doorway went. I could not resist opening it and, to my relief, saw the shabby mustard yellow walls of the corridor. The woods were gone.

`Hold it, we have company!’ I whispered. In front of us, in the hallway, and in the sitting room were the Roswellians, sleeping as if at the beginning of an epic battle, pitched under make shift beds and covers. My heart flooded with happiness. Michael snorted slightly as he recognised Maria’s feet sticking out of a duvet. Jonathan took my hand and kissed it. He then turned and stopped. At his feet was a copy of the Seattle Times, dated 28th January 2006 (how could it be that date already?) with the bold headline `University Institute in Scientific Gene Breakthrough’ There was a picture of DeMarr looking scared senseless outside his apartment (he hated having his picture taken) and then a summary that the findings `were encouraging scientists to call for continued research immediately.’

`Fuck!’ I said, taking the paper off Jonathan. I showed it to Michael, who squinted in the bad light. As he rustled through the paper, the bedroom door opened slowly and there stood Max, in boxers, his hair in a ponytail, his body tense and defined, every muscle ready to discharge a defensive bolt of energy. He looked so staggeringly beautiful I just smiled idiotically as if he was beckoning me to come to bed. When he saw us, he relaxed but he looked at Michael and said

`Where the fuck have you been! I have been worried sick!’ He was angry. When Max was angry his voice became very quiet and measured and clipped, his eyes narrowed and seemed to grow darker. We all hung our heads slightly, like school children caught stealing sweets.

`I am really sorry Max, we just got carried away – I forgot to call in – I am really sorry!’ Max looked a bit taken aback by this, and then looked more suspicious than angry, a look I adored, because it brought back so many memories if me skulking about West Roswell High!

`You are?’ he looked at me then, as if I was responsible for Michael’s unusually compliant behavior. I was staring at Max’s pecs trying to look as if I was thinking about something else. Something abstract, like Pi.

`Hey, sure I am!’ said Michael. He seemed suddenly emotional, as if meeting Max now, in the current time, was the final straw. And then Michael did something that Max had clearly not anticipated. He threw his arms around him and kissed him on his neck and held him tightly for ages.

`Michael what’s wrong?’ he whispered this, as if Michael had really bad news.

`Max, I love you so much, so very, very much. You will never understand how much I love you! We’ll never fucking argue again!’ We stood in silence. Then I coughed politely.
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Sun Oct 01, 2006 9:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Wed Sep 27, 2006 7:12 am

Extract of Grey’s Journal Sequestered From the Published Codex of 2055 under 15/7 of the Freedom of Information Act.

January 28th, 2006.

I slept badly – on and off - through another night of intense chill. I have never seen weather like it. It makes a Boston January seem almost tropical. It has lifted the flagstones up on the terrace and broken panes of glass in the long conservatory. I have lit log fires where such fires can be lit for fear that the central heating – if such it can be called – will be overloaded if left on all night. Still the cold gets through. Like an invading army it seeps and rolls down the many stairwells and corridors, and the long fingers of chimneys. Thank god my wife is not alive!

I fear for the library and my manuscripts. It was well below freezing in there at midnight the other night. I went down after hearing noises but found nothing (of course). No doubt the paranoid fantasies of a deluded man. I played with the thermometer and afterwards walked into my study – it is the only really warm room in the House. I am mad. I should leave this place and yet somehow it has already grown on me, a whim transformed into a necessity.

I dreamed of my father again, I think, in between my cold naps. He was walking through an empty silent street under a starless sky. Somehow it didn’t feel like he was on Earth, but somewhere else. The houses were dark and low, strange, like those seen in hot desert climates. He wanted to hold my hand but I refused. Later I dreamed of DeMarr, who was running after me down a long hallway – cold and tiled – like in a hospital – waving something urgently, a wad of paper. People were chasing him. When I awoke I saw great ferns and wheels of frost on the inside of the windowpanes and my waster glass had a rim of ice on the top. Strange, the first moments of awakening. What strange stuff dreams dredge up, from the dark seas of the soul – littering my mornings with driftwood, the transformed, sculptured memories of things long gone, half forgotten? Where do we go when we sleep, if we sleep at all? What do they mean?

My mouth was dry and my face numb. I sat up and saw my breath steam. So what do I do today? Where do I start? To put together the fragments of a broken life? I felt about 1,000 years old. I hate the self-pity that comes with age. I think of time a lot now, on my own, rattling about this place. I think of death as someone I know, walking up the long drive towards the house, a visitor, a young man in dark clothes, sub fusc, a small bag in his hand. As I hastily scribbled my dreams down in a note book, I remembered that I had agreed to see DeMarr tomorrow. I regretted it then, at the precise moment. I would find the drive irritating and I disliked Davies, the new director of the Institute, who patronised me and treated me like I was an old horse that needed shooting. DeMarr troubled me. I fear he is being manipulated in some way. He rang me yesterday and spoke in excited, inaudible clicks – he said he has something urgent to tell me. He also wanted me to meet his student, the one who knocked me over the other day – Relphs? So I agreed to go to Seattle. Better that DeMarr came to me.

While I was waiting for the water to run hot (a good half a hour at such distance from Wilcox’s boiler) I thought I heard people outside. It was a distinct sound. It was 6.10 am. I went to my window and looked down. My bedroom is at the back of the House, on the fourth floor of the Eastern Wing as it pulls away from the great central well of Bone Hill, dominated by the library. The light was poor, but the snow helped illuminate the central courtyard – long disused and sadly abandoned long before I arrived here. The views of the grounds were breathtaking. The sandstone façade of the Western wing was lined in snow, like a painting, while behind the house the pine covered hills rose white and serenely into the soft dove grey dawn. I heard something again, a soft laugh – I thought it sounded like a women.

I dressed quickly and, rather un-necessarily, removed a gun from my bedside cabinet. It had three bullets in the chamber. I am not one who boasts about possessing firearms, but sometimes these things are necessary. I am alone here, and Wilcox is frail and hard of hearing. There is nothing of any real value here, except my research. I did not fear a conventional break-in. I feared my so-called friends from the FBI. The house was incredibly cold. Walking towards the Library gallery – entered from the second floor – was like swimming through a cold ocean current. Why on earth did I buy this pile? What had I been thinking of! The gallery ran along three sides of the Library, close to the great bay windows. I walked softly towards them, the light improving all the time.

Squinting through the thick blue glass showed the distorted sunken well of a swimming pool, what had once been a rose garden, a line of firs and then rows upon rows of elegant birches. It was quiet again. This was worse than imaging people in the Library in the dead of night! Perhaps I am going senile, or mad. Will I soon imagine aliens like my father, abductions, and great beams of radiant light? As I turned to go I saw Wilcox sitting with a woman in what seemed to be an old Gazebo. I was rather startled to see he was sitting with his arm around her and that she had her head on his shoulder! I leaned back quickly, like a peeping tom.
I am not sure why I was startled. I liked Wilcox, and he had shown me a lot of consideration since I arrived. He was perfectly entitled to sit with a woman, even at such a god-forsaken hour in such temperatures.

Wilcox. Who was he? Wilcox had always rather intrigued me in way. I still had the sneaking, disconcerting suspicion that he knew me from somewhere else. Our first meeting had been very odd, odd indeed, very déjà vu! I had come to see Wilcox almost as a personification of the House itself! As if Bone Hill took on Wilcox’s form to communicate with me, like a computer icon or some form of avatar. Fanciful but somehow it fitted him. He and the House were one, in a sense. I supposed I had also toyed with the idea that Wilcox was a homosexual. I am not sure exactly how I had arrived at this theory, based, as it was on a series of half truths and prejudices on my behalf. He seemed secretive about himself and he had almost no friends. There had been a few curious phone calls of late from a young man that Wilcox evidently knew. I thought that odd. Moreover he was prone to vanishing every now and then, for no reason.

Once, when I had accidentally wandered into his room I found a photograph of three men and a woman, leaning against an old camper van in brilliant sunlight. They were beautiful, vibrant people. They smiled out knowingly at whoever was taking the picture, gestures of intimacy. It didn’t look an old photograph. The youths looked contemporary, tanned, and playful, in modern clothes and yet the picture was very old. It had cracked and yellowed in the frame, as if exposed to long summers and when I opened the back to see it more closely, I came across a message scrawled across it in pen `To Max from Jamie’ alongside what looked like a date March ‘37. The date made no sense to me. The camper van was too modern and so were the people – had they meant to put 73? Even that looked wrong. I wondered how Wilcox could have come to know such people. Was he holding the camera?

It had rather irritated me, to be honest, that he had not told me about his sexuality. I liked to think I was a man of the world – did he think I would be shocked or even fire him! Yet here he was with a woman! Typical of my speculations to be so groundless! I tried to get a closer look. She wasn’t young; I could see her grey hair. Perhaps it was his sister? Damn these wretched windows! I dared not look more earnestly for fear of being seen.

I left quickly and went up to the third floor where a long room ran the length of the house. It was a strange, odd shape that I had once intended to make into a laboratory. It had a long line of windows, two of which would not close. Snow had blown in across the floor and lay fluted, dune like, across into the fireplace. I oddly recalled my dream of deserts. Now I had a clear line of sight, but the angle was a little severe. It was bitterly cold here. I peered down and saw them. They were sitting almost completely below me. It was definitely Wilcox. He was whispering something to her and holding her hand. She laughed again and at that moment I felt a distinct trickle of fear down the length of my spine. The woman was Miss Clever, my old house keeper! Moreover, my old DEAD housekeeper! A woman I had seen buried before my very eyes after a short illness, not long after the death of my wife! I blinked, closed my eyes and then looked again. There was no doubt at all.

I stood rigid with cold. I obviously discounted the fact she was a ghost. I do not believe in such things. Had I been tricked? Had I stumbled on some sort of cheap criminal trick, the housekeeper and the `butler’ – but why and for what purpose? Wilcox had refused any financial help after her death and had seemed to genuinely miss her. I dipped my head around, aware that it was almost impossible for them to see me looking. It was then that I saw a young man, blonde, well built, next to Wilcox, on the other side to his former friend (and mistress?) I had not noticed him before because he was wearing only a white shirt and jeans. Miss Clever was holding his coat. Suddenly it seemed rather sinister, as if he was being punished. What in god’s name was going on! Ought I to call down? Ought this conspiracy – or whatever it was – to be exposed immediately?

As my mind raced through the possible explanations I saw two other people approaching through the trees, trespassing through the northern woods, both young men. One had long hair and seemed in his mid twenties, but it was hard to judge (my eye sight is poor) the other was a tall, fair haired youth with a ridiculous scarf wrapped around his neck – a scarf I had actually seen before somewhere – I think Miss Clever had knitted several for my late wife. I was utterly intrigued.

On reaching the courtyard the youths both paused and then, they walked towards Wilcox and Miss Clever. It was some sort of reunion. I could tell that from the body language. Miss Clever walked towards them. I leaned forward close to the frozen pane. The long haired youth seemed startled, unsure, even shocked. I am sure I recognised the other one. My mind raced and whirred. At that moment, they all looked straight up at me as if they had spied me watching! I threw myself flat against the wall. When I peeked down, they were looking at what appeared to be the library. I looked hard at the short haired boy. Yes! He was the student who had assaulted me outside the Genome Institute – DeMarr’s brilliant doctoral student, John or Jamie! The very one he had mentioned to me on the telephone! I breathed in and held my breath, before releasing it in one great plume of steam. I was utterly awake.
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:08 am

I have seen so many looks on Max’s face. In fact I have memorised many of them, drawn them, licked their outline off paper, even printed up digital pictures of them and put them under my pillow, but I am not sure I had ever seen this particular look! It was a soft, mystified look, like a charcoal sketch, improvised, all grain and implication.

`I love you as well, Michael.’ He said this softly, quizzically, as if it were a test. As if he did not have to say it. He then looked at me with such confusion that I almost laughed. Jonathan was behaving very strangely, and for one dreadful moment I thought he was going to kneel or something. Liz, calling from inside the bedroom, saved us further embarrassment.

`Jamie? Is that you!’ Michael flashed a complex look at me, full of information, warnings, and half explanations. I tried to get him to relax by telepathy. I shouted through,

`Yes it is!! And I hope you haven’t been doing anything sexual in my bed!’

Max’s face relaxed. Poor Jonathan still appeared on the brink of his own emotional breakdown. I took his hand and strode forward. As we pressed past Max, I traced a ring playfully around his nipple. He started, surprised, partly because my hands were cold, and partly because Jonathan was looking at me when I did it. Max folded his hands quickly, protectively over his chest in such a way that his triceps and rear biceps stood out, rune like. A coiled, black lock of hair fell over his face.

`Hey!’ he said very quietly, half playfully. He shrugged and looked at Jonathan with an expression that seemed to say `It’s ok, he does that from time to time’. His nipple had felt hard, the muscled pectoral smooth, warm.

`Meet Jonathan.’ I said to Liz, pulling him into the bedroom. Clothes were everywhere; shoes, and several candles were on the windowsills. Why are women far worse than men? Where do all these clothes come from? Liz, dark, diminutive, impish, sat up in the middle of the bed with a huge wide smile on her face. She hid her nakedness by wrapping the duvet around her, but her shoulders peeped out, brown, inviting.

`Jamie!’ she screamed this - and as I rushed towards her, I felt the curious faint trace of having done this before. But this was my Liz, the young women who would become the other Liz, grow into her, like a tree grows tall and expansive. She looked well, wide awake, possibly post coital. I looked at her closely, trying to see if there were any signs of rampant, excessive lovemaking. I thought of her with Max, their bodies pressed together, complementary, fused. We didn’t say anything for a while. She looked at me in a way that implied she knew what I was thinking. I start to blush. She then looked at Jonathan as if I was proposing to sell him.

`He’s rather cute Jamie!’ she narrowed her eyes, as if half recognising him.

`Hiya Liz. I have heard a lot about you’ he said carefully. He seemed reluctant to come into the room and hung back. Max was on the end of the bed, pulling a shirt on. As he lifted it up I saw his arms pits flash black and invitingly at me. What is it about men’s armpits that turned me to jelly? What was it about Max’s? Like a Spartan warrior, he started to comb his thick hair.

`So can we get some sleep?’ Michael asked generally. He had sauntered in, seemingly indifferent, but I had noticed he had avoided looking at Liz.

`Sure, we were just getting up!’ Liz wriggled to the end of the bed. `Jamie it’s so good to see you, we have so much to discuss! I have tried to keep up with your work you know, here and there, so exciting! ‘

`Liz,’ Michael yawned, `we’re exhausted! We have been out in the cold for hours.’

`Where have you been, exactly?’ Max asked this. He was having problem with some knots at the back of his head. He was still looking at Michael as if he had been body snatched or something.

`I’ll do that.’ I said, without thinking. Liz laughed and Max, frowning, submitted to me as I sat behind him. I crouched on the bed, trying to disguise a very painful hardon. I ran the vinyl teeth of the comb through his hair with slow strokes, like an artist. It was thick and heavy.

`We’ve been checking out this DeMarr dude’ added Jonathan suddenly. He was leaning against the door watching us all. I have no idea why he said this. Perhaps he felt we should cut to the chase and put aside all this human stuff. Fuck knows. I felt Max grew alert.

`Ouch! Jamie! Michael?’

`It was my idea, Max’ I interjected. `You asked me to check it out, the gene manipulation research?’

`It’s a hoax.’ said Jonathan again. Max looked at Liz helplessly as if I had told Jonathan everything. Liz was silent, thoughtful.

`At least that’s what my clever boyfriend thinks. Why do you want to know all this, incidentally? No one is telling me anything.’ Jonathan said this tartly in his slight mid western drawl. God, he was a better liar than I was. The implication that he had been on some wild, dangerous goose chase without an explanation fitted perfectly with his look of dejection and his exclusion. Max sighed. I could sense him literally thinking ` Thank fuck!’ I returned to the sheer divinity of using my fingers to ease the comb through his hair. I worried I might be visibly dribbling. Michael looked like he wanted to pick Jonathan up by his heels and shake him violently.

`It’s a long story, Jonathan! Max needs some help from Jamie, because as you know, Jamie is a boy genius!’ said Liz, winking at me. She had definitely had a good romp earlier. She was vibrant, glowing. She ought to have a large neon sign over her head saying `I have just been fucked by MAX’. She put out her hand to Jonathan.

`Hi, it’s good to meet you. I hope you are looking after Jamie?’ He stepped forward, like a courtier, and to my surprise kissed her hand.

`With considerable care’ answered Michael, with a trace of sarcasm as wide as the Puget Sound.

`Michael!’ I said, pulling a face.

`It's ok, I deserve it! No one trusts me! I am going to take a shower’

Jonathan left. I stopped combing Max’s mane. I wanted to plat it, or run my face through it, kiss the top of his head. Scream. Max waited until he could hear the sound of water hissing and then, leaned over to Michael who had taken his shoes off and was lying on the bed, his hands folded on his chest, like a sarcophagus.

`What is wrong with you?’ Max rubbed his arm. I loved this newfound tactility. It was a ridiculous turn on.

`I am just tired Maxwell, sorry - and they have been arguing all the time because Jamie wouldn’t tell him anything. God, it's worse than hearing you and Liz!’

`Liz and I never argue!’ Max growled, `well only in bed, and Liz usually wins.’

`Max!’ She smiled seductively and I thought, rather competitively, `Sorry Jamie’ she looked at me. `It must be difficult excluding your boyfriend, but we have to be especially careful now.’

I nodded.

`You think it’s a hoax?’ Max swung back to where I was still squatting, smelling my hands. Liz squirreled herself onto his arm and put her face between his and mine. We were intimate, like a mathematical symbol. Michael lifted his feet and put them over Max’s lap. I thought about suggesting that we should all undress and get under the duvet for a summit?

`Yeah - it’s a hoax. It has FBI written all over it. The newspapers are leaking it to try and flush you out. For some reason the Feds know that you hope to be made human.’

Max seemed bewildered by this. `How? And what about this DeMarr guy, you know him?’

`DeMarr’s been framed by someone called Davies, who works for the Feds. I think DeMarr’s innocent, but we have to make sure. We needed more time than we had today.’ I said this evasively.

`Davies is the guy who has just taken over the institute, right?’ put in Liz. `I thought it all seemed a bit too much like a coincidence! I don’t like the look of that man. I sense something,’

`And what about Grey?’ asked Max. Hearing Max speak his name sent goose bumps over me. I stammered something, unsure how to proceed. I felt that the entire future of both Earth and Antar rested on exactly how I answered, exactly how and in what way these two people came together.

`He’s complex’ improvised Michael, twitching his toes for effect. `He’s the big science dude, big cheese. DeMarr was his student.’

`Really? Ok, that makes sense. But Grey worked for the Feds’ Liz stifled a yawn, `Jesse told us about the labs in Boston, although he also told us we were to trust him if we had to?’

`He said that?’ I was momentarily confused. Then I recalled a brief memory of the codex in which Jesse and Grey helped free some of the children. A sudden clear image of a dark Latino man, putting a blanket over a child, flashed into my head. An implanted memory of a man I had never met. `What else did Jesse say?’

`Not much really, he said we should stay close to Grey, especially once he moved out of Boston. Keeping contact with Jesse has proved difficult since just before Christmas.’ Max sounded preoccupied, like the weight of the universe had landed on his shoulders.

`Whatever Max, I think we can trust Grey, Jesse was right.’ Said Michael, starring at the ceiling. I looked over at him. I was rather shocked to see a bullet hole in the cornicing. No one seemed to have noticed it. Michael then sat up, his hair to one side, `In fact I think Grey may be the man we need.’

I looked at Michael in amazement. What the fuck was he doing?

`You do?’ Max sounded surprised. `But there is no scientific break through? No way we can pass as human?’

`No, there is no break through YET. The recoding produces a lethal virus. They planned to infect you and kill us all.’ Michael sighed, `Hence my emotional outburst. earlier.’ God everyone was a better liar than me! I felt almost personally affronted! I narrowed my eyes and Michael had the temerity to smirk at me.

`Shit’ Max put his head in his hands.

`Come on, Max,’ I lifted his face up with my hand, it sent a thrill through me, like touching a flame. `Michael is right; I think Grey might be able to help. It is possible that the hoax is in part based on genuine scientific research. If we work closely together, if we approach Grey in the right way, somehow, if we intrigue him - ‘ I had not the slightest idea where I was going with this. Michael came to my rescue.

`We think that Grey double crossed the Feds and that in retaliation, they blew up his laboratory and tried to frame him to discredit his work. He has no love for Davies, and the designer virus engineered to kill you - us - involves actual research work Davies stole from Grey.’

`Jesus - you have been busy!’ Liz said in frank amazement.

`But as Michael says, Grey is complex. We need to know more about Boston and what actually went on there. But on the old principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, Grey is our man.’

Max seemed thoughtful, perhaps even relieved. Did he know more about Boston than he was letting on? I tried to think back through the memories of the Codex, but they were already fading. Max and Grey in the lab at Bone Hill House, Max, boyish, a lollypop in his mouth: `what happened to the children from Phoenix, Julian: the children I cured?’ Was that a rhetorical question, to tease out of Grey the truth, or did Max not know?

`Shall we go to Grey then?’ he asked. I felt as if the key to a door, long rusted and stuck, had suddenly clicked into place. Both Michael and I went to speak at once, as if anxious to force it open. I stopped and allowed my new splendid partner in crime to speak for both of us.

`We rest up here with Jamie and Farmer Boy for a while, Jamie and I have to pay one more visit to DeMarr -‘

`We do? Oh yes, we do!’ I nodded.

`And then we head east again.’ Michael sounded triumphant, like an actor who had suddenly remembers his lines after an awkward moment of stage fright.

`East?’ Now it was Max and Liz who spoke together. I felt we were in an opera with a very complex libretto.

`Yeah, to a place called Wenatchee, its not far from where Grey lives in some rotting mansion. All very Boris Karloff. I’ll explain after I have had some sleep.’

`What exactly have you three been up to?’ Max sounded momentarily suspicious again, but there had been such a note of assurance, such a tone of clarity, in Michael’s voice that he could not really sustain it. I nodded again with great assurance. I felt like one of those toy dogs in the back of car windows.

`It's sort of good news - but we need sleep!’ I reiterated. Max frowned as if he was the subject of prank or scam. Liz said innocently. Through out our conversation she had been dressing, coyly but with a certain confidence. I found the odd flash of thigh and breast alluring. Several times she caught me looking and smiled. Max stood protectively, allowing her to hitch her pants on.

`You see, I knew Jamie would help us!’ she said from behind him. I caught sight of a curved female thigh.

`Hey Liz, which side of the bed did Max sleep on?’ I winked at her. She rolled her eyes and smiled. Max laughed and then in mock seriousness said to his wife `Don’t encourage him!’ Suddenly Isabel put her head round the door.

`Someone’s in the shower!’

`Jonathan is.’ I said, undoing my shoes. Unless I was very much mistaken I was sleeping with Michael.

`Well he’s not on the rota!’ she said sharply.

`What rota?’

`The one I worked out and stuck on the door! And he’s been in there too long as it is!’

`Is, lighten up - it's their apartment!’ Max took his sisters arm and escorted her out. Liz looked back at me and waved.

`Later!’ She gestured to Michael and pursed up her lips as if to say `hey go for it!’

`I saw that.’ he said.

When they had gone I hit Michael with a pillow. `What the fuck!’


`Bone Hill House, viruses? Shit Michael, what are you thinking!’

`I’m thinking we need to get moving! We’re a great team, Jamie! I mean I need to lead all the time, to stop you shutting down and doing that thing you do, when Max so much as breathes on you!’

`What thing!’

`The eye rolling, road kill `take me now’ look!’ he did a brilliant impersonation, so much so that I started to laugh even as I prepared to throw another pillow.

`Bastard! I do not.’

`It’s quite endearing, but try not to go green whenever Max and Liz have sex because they have sex a lot, although they think no one notices, but you know, with all the noise and the screaming and the `Max, Max, Max!’

I threw the pillow.

`We need to contact DeMarr and warn him somehow, I think the best thing to do is to invite him over -‘ I spoke quickly, in half whispers, ignoring his taunts.

`Are you fucking mad!’

`Listen, space cadet..’

`Boy, space boy!’

`Whatever. Think about it, Michael. I call DeMarr and say I have someone who wants to meet him and talk about his work - Davies, or whoever, will think that their plan is working after all - that I have done my bit. Brought Max and DeMarr together? It will buy us time. DeMarr can tell us about the download, and also - ` my mind thought back to the conversation with DeMarr outside Old Possums, and the implication that he knew more about Grey and the children than he was, at that moment, prepared to divulge. `he can tell us about Boston and then, then he might take us to Grey - ‘

Michael thought about this for a moment. `We can’t tell DeMarr who Max is, who any of us are! Wouldn’t he be inquisitive?’

`Sort of.’ Bemused more like it. DeMarr was terribly shy around people, especially young people. They rather frightened him.

`It’s a good idea, but it’s a risk. We need to get Skin man on board to report back and say that he didn’t need to kill you after all because you proved willing to lead Max to DeMarr, but the degree of mistrust between DeMarr and Davies might prove too strong now - ‘ Michael looked unsure.
`This is getting a bit out of hand.’

`Well? Come on, Michael. I need to protect DeMarr, Wilcox said he was in danger. We have to bring him in somehow!’

I was not sure how and exactly under what circumstances Michael and I had become partners. The codex? The sight of Wilcox pointing to the Granolith? Watching him kiss Max?

`Do it - I’ll speak with Jonathan,’. Michael got up and went to the bathroom. I heard him click the door open with his powers and I think I heard Jonathan swear. I took out my cell phone and speed dialed DeMarr. My heart was racing. I was suddenly aware that I was incredibly hungry.

`Come on, come on, answer!’ dreadful images of DeMarr lying dead in his apartment swirled in front of my eyes. Upside down in the bath, like the opening shot in Sunset Bou - suddenly, someone picked up.

I said `Hello?’

For a while there was no answer, and my heart froze. Then a voice I barely recognised said.

`Who is this?’

` Louis? Its Jamie, Jamie Relph?’

`Jamie! Oh my god, Jamie. Something dreadful has happened!'‘ I thought I could hear the sound of a bird in the background, a squawking noise, but it might have been DeMarr.

`Louis, I need you to come to my apartment urgently, right now, this minute. ‘ I thought that reiterated urgent enough, even for DeMarr.

Michael walked back in, with Jonathan behind him, wrapped in a towel. Michael put his thumb up.

`You have to meet a friend of mine, he needs your help really, really urgently -‘

`My dear boy, I would be delighted to meet your friend, but this is not the time - Grey is coming to see me, he has just rang me, he sounded very odd Jamie, very strange, even haunted!’ there were several clicks and a squawking noise. I felt myself beginning to panic.

`Really? Just now?’ I tried to remember the dates and the times. I was momentarily confused. Had Wilcox not implied that he was driving Grey to see DeMarr tomorrow? There was a silence. Had we lost another day?. And then I said, stupidly,

`I thought you were seeing Grey tomorrow?’ Michael did a theatrical arms wide `what the fuck!’ mime,

`Jamie! You’re not to supposed to fucking know!’ I scowled and looked at the wall, but DeMarr was too preoccupied to note my slip up. DeMarr’s voice momentarily broke up.

`I did, I did, I had arranged it but Grey said he couldn’t wait. He needed to see me urgently and that I was to stay at home and speak to no one until the meeting. He seemed very insistent, Jamie something is terribly wrong –I think Grey is in danger.’

Shit. So who wasn’t actually in danger! Michael was standing next to me, trying to listen in. His hair got into my eyes.

`Louis’ I willed him to say nothing more over the phone. `Come over to see me, now, immediately. Take a cab - ’

Michael started saying something, miming again, I looked at him as if he was having some sort of fit. Then I understood. `Oh Louis, don’t call a cab Louis, don’t call one with a phone, walk to the stand near the University, or flag one down? You understand?'

`As in wave one down in the road? Yes, ok. Ok Jamie my dear. Such excitement so soon in the semester! I will come straight away Jamie but I have to be at the Zoo for 2 pm.’

`Grey is meeting you at the Zoo?’ I looked puzzled. Michael was running his hands over his face vigorously as if to keep awake.

`Yes. Near the Simian Center, he was most insistent.’ DeMarr sounded frightened. Hearing his fear frightened me.

`Louis, hurry over now!’ my hands were shaking when I clicked the cell phone shut. I looked at Michael who puffed his cheeks as he breathed out deeply.

`Come on, get into bed - try the twenty minute power nap.’ How could he suggest that now! And then I realised that this was all second nature to Michael. This had been Michael’s life since the attempted massacre at their graduation. I went to say something but he said firmly `Sleep!’

We both lay together staring at the ceiling. I tried to clear my mind, to count, to think of trees or blue skies. I found I was thinking of Mrs Parker and her infamous bed tuck, the night, long ago, when the poor women thought that Michael and I were lovers. I started laughing.


My cell phone vibrated.

`Leave it.’

I obeyed, but it vibrated again. I sat up and took it out. The displayed number was Bone Hill House. I pressed answer.


It was Wilcox. I prodded Michael in the side.

`Wilcox! How conventional of you! Getting bored of folding time and space are we?’

`Jamie, something terrible has happened.’ Michael was pressing his ear to mine again. We clearly ought to get some sort of party line between us.


`I think Grey saw us this morning, I think he saw us in the court yard!’


`Is that Michael?’

`Yes – ‘

`Listen, Jamie.’ Wilcox sounded panicky. `He has taken the car and is driving to Seattle now, this minute.’

`Ok, ok. Look, he’s arranged to see DeMarr at the Zoo, at 2pm. We’ve just spoken with DeMarr.’ I felt close to hyperventilating. I looked around for a brown bag.

`What did he see, Wilcox? Did he say anything to you?’ Michael had snatched the phone off me.

`He said nothing. He said he had to go out on urgent business, but he was very strange with me, difficult even, cold. And he has been into my room. He has taken something.’

I took the phone back and scowled again at Michael.

`Say that again?’ Wilcox repeated himself.

`Taken what?’

There was a silence. I heard Wilcox breath deeply. `A photograph. One I brought back with me, stupidly. From the future.’

`What’s it of?’

`It’s a picture of Max, Michael and you with Isabel, taken by Liz in March of this year. We’re on our way to see Grey for the first time. Its got the camper van in it – you give it to me in 2037, you are leaving for Antar and you find it among your belongings.’ His voice trailed away.

Michael collapsed on the bed. `Fucking great!’

`What do we do?’ I sounded utterly desperate.

Wilcox did not answer.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Wed Oct 04, 2006 12:19 pm

New banner by the fiendishly gifted Shiesty23 following a discussion about how I visualised the library doors at Bone Hill House would look as the Granolith was activated - she conveyed my mood exactly!



(note to self: I will try and make sure I add dates to this journal because I am so far behind that the dates blur and fuse into each other, This is worse because the dates don’t mean anything anymore – and I am adding titles, whacky titles because I need to do that to stay sane at the moment!)

January 28th - Max and the Giant Rubber: Or Michael’s Plan.

I lay next to Michael, holding the cell phone in my out stretched hand. It was such an oddly relaxing posture; I felt I was sunbathing on a beach. Yet the pressure inside my head was so great I thought for a moment I would have an aneurysm. How could things get any worse? Stars wheeled overhead, entire civilisations were unmade and made and still we all lay silent. In the end Michael rolled over onto his front and took the phone out of my hand, like a child takes a pebble:

`Wilcox, we have to go to Grey now, all of us – it’s the only way.’

`But Liz isn’t pregnant! What do we tell him? Where would we start, Michael? And where is DeMarr now?’

`On his way here’ Michael had the good manners to cringe slightly, stressing the final word through a grimace. Wilcox swore.


`We had to protect him somehow!' Michael hastily filled him in regarding the plan to trick Davies into believing that his original plan was working – that DeMarr was arranging for Max to hand himself over to the institute voluntarily. When Michael confirmed that Jonathan had sealed the bluff, Wilcox’s voice appeared to relax slightly.

`Ok, that does buy some time – but what do we do about Grey? If Grey shows DeMarr the photograph he will recognise all of you by this afternoon! I have no idea what this has triggered in Grey’s mind – he might think we’re working for the Feds? All that we know is that the codex is now fictional, it is an account that might well not come to pass at all.’

`Wilcox – ‘ Michael sounded exasperated.

`All right, Michael, – you and Jamie go with DeMarr to the Zoo, I’ll meet you there secretively. Try and get there early, so we can have a sort of summit – something, something might have occurred to me by then.’ I gestured for the phone and Michael handed it back to me, meekly, before rolling onto his back and covering his face.

`Wilcox, what do you think Grey will do? ‘

`I have no idea. He must have seen the photograph some time ago, and he must have recognised you and Michael this morning and gone back to find it – typical of him to remember such a small detail. Is there any indication that Davies knows about this meeting?’

`I don’t think so – although we spoke with DeMarr on the phone, and Grey arranged to meet with DeMarr on an open line this morning – if they’re tapping the phone, Davies will know its the Zoo.’

`They will be tapping the phone.’ Said Wilcox grimly. There was another silence.

`Ok, we all meet at the Zoo, at 1.45 pm, leave DeMarr to see Grey and meet me near the café bar – I’ll recognise you. Davies can’t shape shift, so we know what he looks like if he shows. We have the Valaen and the Skin to worry about – they might all turn up.‘

`What will Davies do?’

`He might well try and kill Grey, or he might just leave him alone now and concentrate on Max. I don’t know, Jamie, I can’t be sure. We have to trust to Grey’s instincts now, his distrust of Davies.’ Hearing Wilcox say that was un-nerving. Had I failed to badly? As if sensing my reproach, Wilcox added softly

`Stay close to Max Jamie, he will find out things now, things he’ll find hard to bear.’

`But Grey is a good man, Wilcox, you said that – I saw that in the codex?’

`I know, but Grey is complex. In the codex, Grey completed a journey he had started when his wife died, I think. It was a journey of redemption, and Max was crucial to him, a confessor, a son, a father, even a lover in some way – but there is a darkness to Grey that might now still be present. He is ambitious, vain even about his work. Grey at the end of the codex, approaching death between Max and Michael, he is not the Grey you will meet today, just as Max is not yet me.’ He stopped, cryptically.

`Wilcox who is Davies, I mean, I know he is Maitland, the guy from the future, the future Attorney General, but Liz seemed to imply he was from Roswell..’ I saw Michael’s hand slip away from his eye. I was conscious he was listening acutely to the conversation.

`Jamie, this is something that Max must not know, at least not yet. Is Michael with you?’
`Yes he is!’ answered Michael, sitting up.

`Henry Maitland, who you know as Davies, is Max’s son by Tess.’

The look on Michael’s face was indescribable. He looked literally as if Tess was standing before him. Then he closed his eyes, shaking his head in disbelief. `Its like a fucking Greek tragedy!’

`It is.' agreed Wilcox's voice. `At this moment, Maitland is a happy child of around six, living in New York State. He will grow up to discover that his father is the near legendary hybrid, who deserted and abandoned him because he was a mere human. This sense of betrayal will fester within him for years. And it will be put to use by those with other, more ancient grievances. In future years, in the vast fastness of Eqbatana, Maitland will join this conspiracy out of hatred.' Wilcox sounded angry. `OK, look. Get some rest, then eat something and then get to the Zoo – when is DeMarr coming?’

`Any time now?’ but Wilcox had rung off.

Michael and I sat looking at each other in disbelief.

`If we confront Grey now, we have to get Liz pregnant! Or there has to be the chance that she will be pregnant!' I sounded desperate.

`And how the fuck are we going to do that!’

`Well, Max has to take his pants down and get erect –‘

`Jamie!’ Michael threw a pillow, the one I had thrown earlier.

I swung down over the bed to pick it up. As I did so I saw the as yet unread download that DeMarr had hidden in coat number twelve, and something else, something long and shiny and knotted. It was enough to transform my mood. The sight sent an adolescent thrill through me! It was a sign, surely amid such desperation, a omen!

`Hey, Michael!


`Look! It’s a miracle!’

There was a moment when, against his better judgment; I sensed him resist the sound of my suppressed excitement. When he leaned over, I was triumphantly holding a used rubber in my hand!

`Shit, whose is that!’


`Jamie you perve! Put it down!’

`But it’s full of semen!’

`It’s a fucking rubber - that’s what its supposed to be full of! Flush it down the toilet and wash your hands or I tell Max!’

`But wait - we should use this somehow, freeze this! Or -’

`Why? You want to use it for lip gloss or put it in your diet coke or something?’ he looked truly disgusted.

`No! But look! There’s loads of it as well!’

Jamie! For fuck sake!’

My mind was racing through endless possibilities, and then suddenly, it hit me. `Michael!’ I half gasped, delirious with sudden excitement. `This is it! This is the chance we have been waiting for – we can get Liz pregnant by Max – without him necessarily knowing!’ OMG – I was a genius!

Michael looked like he was trying to clear phlegm from the back of his throat, and then, slowly, Michael began to see my scheme. Slowly, working through his disgust, his dark, intelligent eyes narrowed and his rather sexy lips tightened.

`You mean Liz can sort of –‘ he hesitated over the precise words - `Liz could inseminate herself?’

`Yes! Well, yes, sort of?’ It seemed suddenly improbable. I had a vision of Michael and I approaching Liz with Max’s used rubber, lovingly frozen, and a long narrow wooden spoon. My great stab of hope began to fade.

`She can’t exactly swallow it can she! Or fall on it? Do you know much about reproductive sex, Jamie?’ I ignored him.

`There must be a way. This is a gift, its likely that most of the semen has died, but then, it is super alien semen –‘

`Jamie, you are a fucking animal, did you know that – and its half alien, to be precise.’ He looked at it closely. `There is hell of a lot of jism in there though, I wonder if he takes anything, the bastard!’

`I am going to freeze it – we have to keep it – in case an opportunity arises – ‘

`What kind of opportunity! Jamie, come on – ‘ and then he paused, his mind thinking ahead –

`Unless we tell her everything?’


`Shit, Michael, we are in enough trouble as it is – but perhaps she could keep this secret – and confront Max with a fait accompli?’

`It’s a bit Tess like? Isn’t it?’

`Fuck no – the future of two planets rest on this child – these children – look, let me freeze it, we’ll talk with Wilcox.’

I slipped out of bed, pulled on a shirt and walked into the kitchen.

`Jamie, where are you going! For fuck sake don’t get caught with that!’

My apartment was like a disturbed anthill. I would not have recognised it at all had it not been for my (rather embarrassing) Mapplethorpe poster of a splendid pair of male buttocks sitting on a bull whip. Isabel, Maria and Kyle were cooking breakfast, with Liz chatting and washing up. Maria, who I knew least of all, was wearing a long tapering gown, very art deco, with beaded sleeves, and had her hair up in a great mass of strawberry blonde curls. She looked pale, paler than I remembered her, and thin. She turned as I came in, Max’s alien jism safely cupped in my hand. Isabel was standing in front of the fridge.

`Jamie!’ Maria squealed and made me jump.

`Hey Maria!’ her eyes were brilliant and wide, as if she was surprised to see me. She was wearing some make up, which made her look a bit Norma Desmondish, but in a good way.

`Sorry, I would have said hi earlier, but ‘

She hugged me, and I tried to return it without squishing Max’s rubber. `I know, you’ve been very busy!’

`I need to get to the fridge, Miss De Luca,’ I said, `Michael has sent me out with a juice.’ Liz started to laugh

`With? Or for?’ She pulled a face at Maria. Isabel, reading another newspaper with the headlines about DeMarr, looked up absentmindedly, noticing she was in the way.

`Hey, sorry Jamie,’ she moved aside for me and I opened the freezing compartment.

`Is this a phase you think, with Michael and you in the same bed, or should I worry?’ Maria pouted her lips expressively. Kyle tried (and failed) to flip an omelet into a pan. It sailed upwards and landed close to Liz, shattering into a thousands pieces.

`It’s a phase!’ The freezer compartment was virtually deserted except for a few stray peas. I switched up the dial and went to place Max’s definitive manhood in an ice-cube tray only to discover that my hand was EMPTY. Total hysteria kicked in.

`He wanted the bed more than me, really!’ I said, desperately trying to sound normal while scanning the floor.

`Yeah, sounds about right! You ok?’ Kyle scrapped his creation up and put it back in the saucepan hoping that Isabel would not see. As ever, she saw everything.

`Throw it away, Kyle’.

`Dirt is a form of godliness -‘


`Hold it!’ I took a fork and started dissecting Kyle’s cooking. There was a remote chance Max’s seed was in there. I lifted bits of it up and peered underneath.

`Jamie - it’s in bad enough shape as it is!’ Kyle stared expressionlessly at my random autopsy. I looked up and, to my horror, saw the crumpled dead skin of Max’s passion STUCK to Maria’s shoulder.


She smiled receptively. `Jamie?' She was watching Kyle breaking more eggs with the sort of voyeuristic horror that people watch road accidents.

`Let me hug you properly now.’ I threw my arms about her, retrieving the rubber with effort. I thought Liz noticed something, but Isabel, who started reading out from the newspaper, distracted her. I got back to the fridge.

`Strange place to keep your juice’ Liz said.

`Actually the freezer isn’t working!’ I stabbed the condom into the very back of the compartment `Sorry Max.’ I whispered. Jesus, I doubt I would survive the day at this rate. `OK, quick power nap with Michael’ I said, winking. Maria laughed.

`That’s all he does!’

As I turned to leave I was further panicked to see Jonathan asleep lengthways on the sofa, with Max sitting on the floor, resting his shoulders just below where skin boys arms were dangling. Max had his legs out in front of him, slightly arched like a bridge, his sneakers rooted. He was reading another newspaper, his long hair expressively over his face. He looked up at me as I took in their curious proximity, (deliberately not looking at his fly that was provocatively unbuttoned). He smiled, shyly. I felt a hot glow spread through me, as if my soul was blushing. I was surprised to see he was wearing glasses, small round ones. They utterly transformed him. They made him look like some hot, steamingly erotic associate professor! I think my mouth opened slightly - but the image of Michael’s impersonation of my road kill look made me close it quickly.

Max dangled his glasses with his hand as if to say `what do you think?' I nodded appreciatively. `Very intellectual!’

I walked purposefully towards the bedroom when suddenly I heard Liz make a sort of odd, rather urgent sound and say, `Max!’ I looked around and she was gesticulating wildly at him to follow me. She appeared to be pointing at her groin. It took the poor boy about a minute to translate the message by which time I was climbing in next to my personal bodyguard. As I turned I heard Max, stealth like, giving Michael a wide berth.
`Hey Jamie, hold it,’ He got down on his hands and knees and started looking under the bed.

`What’s a matter?’ I leaned up and looked at the top of his shoulders, his back, whale like, a sliver of skin showed above his belt.

`What have you lost? You want to read the download?’

`No, no - it's fine, I was looking for -‘ he brought his head up suddenly, close to mine, so close it made me jump. I think I squealed. His mouth was about an inch from mine. His hair brushed my face. I could smell his body heat and his eyes looked straight into mine. I felt all the air being pressed out of my lungs.

`Oh God, Max!’ I said, desperately, hopelessly in love.

`What? You think the glasses look stupid?’

`They look perfect - ‘ I looked at his lips, All I had to do was lean forward, hardly a movement, and brush mine against them, and to run my hand across his cheek. What would his lips feel like, what would they taste like? I could pretend it was an accident, a small eathquake in Seattle.

Michael, exasperated by this furtive crawling and whispering sat up theatrically,

`Jamie flushed it down the toilet!’ Max looked instantly embarrassed. I had to bite my lip to stop laughing and to concentrate on the pain and agony I would shower down on Michael later, to keep a straight face.

`Jamie, that was really insensitive - I mean - taking advantage of your bed..‘

`Max, relax! It's fine, we’re all adults!’ I said, as if I was impersonating someone (my mother?)

` It's bad for marine life, flushing it down the toilet.' said Michael. `I told him that. I said he should have swallowed it for the good of the planet!’

Max winced and I mouthed `Ignore him’.

`Go to sleep, Michael’ Max looked over me at his old friend. He had a beautiful, touching expression on his face.

`Chance would be a fine thing!’

Max whispered ` Have a good sleep, Jamie, we’ll have a council of war when you wake up, some food, and we’ll get our plans sorted.’ he paused.

For a moment I thought he was going to kiss me. I saw the thought take shape in his mind, I am sure of it, and then the moment passed, and he stood up, moving off like a giant cat. When he closed the door I sighed deeply and put my hands over my face. Then I turned over and pinched Michael’s butt really hard.
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Thu Oct 05, 2006 4:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:52 am

I slept deeply, dreamlessly, submerged in an utter oblivion of exhaustion. I was eventually awoken by Liz, sitting on the side of the bed, holding out a mug of coffee. She had been shaking me for some time, apparently. I felt sick and groggy and sat up with effort. There was a strange sound in the room. It took me a time to place it. A roar of water. It was pouring with rain.

`Good mid morning!’ Liz smiled, perky, attractive. I felt like someone had glued my eyes lids down. I peeled them open with effort. Michael had gone. There was a deep depression in the bed, Michael shaped, as if someone had drawn around him in his sleep.

`Jesus, Liz! I feel like shit!’ She laughed again, handing me my drink. My hand touched hers.

`It's your blood pressure. It drops dramatically when you sleep and you are out of your normal cycle. This will help, an extra strong caffeine hit! Coffee is the only thing that has kept us going over the years!’ I leaned up, like an invalid. The rain was lashing against the panes. It was good to hear it, after the silence of snow and ice; it spoke of hope and animation, of a change of pace.

`What time is it?’

`Just after 11.25 am.’

`Is it still January 28th?’ She looked at me quizzically, as if I was teasing her.

`Yes? And it’s still the same year! You’ve been asleep about three hours, and your friend is here, the great DeMarr! He is so funny!’ I felt a palpable sense of relief. I leaned back, looking at Liz’s face, the dark, intelligent eyes, the skin, smooth and healthy. I thought of her kissing Max, touching him, having no limits or restrictions to his body.

`Thank god, how is he? Is he wearing his Russian fur hat?’

`Yes, he is!’ That was a good sign. She brushed my hair from my eyes, a strange intimate gesture that took me by surprise. There was a vaguely awkward moment, when she looked down, away from me. She had looked on the verge of saying something, but there was only the animated silence of the rain.

`Has he met the gang?’ I asked, unsure why I was anxious. The image of her and Max, wrapped together, Liz’s lips brushing Max’s tight stomach, was so intense it seemed almost like a vision. `Max, please, let’s do this now – it doesn’t matter – I want your child!’

`You OK?’ She went to take the coffee off me.

`I’m fine, sorry.’ I looked about the bed, as if I was hearing an echo of their earlier lovemaking. `I can’t remember the last time I ate anything! Sorry, DeMarr – he’s met you all?’

`Yes, he is being charmed by Max and Kyle. I am a bit worried about Jonathan, though, he looks a bit out of his depth. How long have you known him?’ I felt the coffee beginning to get hold of my cardio-vascular system.

`Not long, a few weeks. He’ll be ok. I think he is a bit jealous of Max. He thinks we were lovers!’ As I said this I burned my mouth. Liz rolled her eyes.

`Were?’ she said, with a knowing look that cut straight through me. She drew her lips together tightly and frowned, in a half comical way.

`Liz I am not going to get in the way this time –‘

`Jamie! You never got in the way the last time! Only one person did that!’

`Yeah, I know.’ We did not speak her name. Odd that Tess stood between us all, an unacknowledged presence, a sort of curse. `I knew she was no good – I knew it!’ I thought of her son, bent on revenge.

`Yeah.’ Liz sounded thoughtful. `In some bizarre way so did Max. But, anyway. she’s gone now.’ She looked down and took my hand. `I am not sure you could ever get in the way, actually.’ then, changing the subject deftly, she said `Michael is anxious for us to get this meeting going.’ She stood up from the bed. `What have you done to him? He’s transformed! He usually hates it when Max wants a meeting, now he’s all eager and pulling at the reigns!’ As if summoned by his name, Michael appeared with Jonathan, both looking hideously refreshed.

`Liz we’re nearly ready, Max wants you, DeMarr is getting technical again.’

`Oh, ok! Come on, Jamie!’ she pulled my cheek a little too vigorously. My head wobbled. `Come on!’ As she left, Michael and Jonathan shut the door.

`Right, Jonathan has reported back to Davies –‘ Michael gestured to him to say something. The body language between these two seemed better. They appeared to have brokered a truce. Jonathan looked happier, more relaxed, and incredibly fit. He was wearing a tight striped shirt open at the neck and lose over his belt. I had a sudden, desperate urge for sex.

`He bought the argument about DeMarr coming to meet Max. He said nothing about Grey’s prospective visit to the zoo, so he might not know, or he might suspect me. He seemed strange, Davies; emotional. He thinks we can persuade Max to go to the institute soon for an examination. He is counting on it.’

`So how do we play this meeting? We need to get our stories straight?’ I asked this carefully, conscious of the complex task of managing DeMarr in front of the others, in a way that did not imply, that could not imply, we knew more than he did.

`That’s already sorted’ Michael smiled beautifully, but he scratched his eyebrow in a way I knew implied anxiety. I suppressed a smile.

`He thinks that we are a group of keen and enthusiastic biology students that you have brought together for study purposes! Further more, I have told him that we are supporters of Grey, who have long campaigned for the reopening of his research facilities in Boston, and that we are privy to certain facts about his experiments’ Michael tapped his bold, roman nose.

`Oh fuck! Did he believe you? And you’ve briefed everyone to play along?’ It seemed un-necessarily complex.

`Yes, given the amount of clicking he did, I'd say he believed everything. There were a few tense moments when he asked Max questions on genetics, but Liz covered well. And I have asked Maria to stop frightening him by implying that lab rats have rights. It’s going quite well. And yes, I told everyone about them being secret Grey fans. Relax. I am a professional! By the way he’s fucking crazy!’

`Michael! He’s just a little eccentric that’s all!’ It was the professional side of Michael I most worried about.

`Ok, let's get moving. We have to get DeMarr to the Zoo somehow, despite the fact it might shorten our discussions. We have to get him out of the room before we discuss anything alien related, obviously.’ I closed my eyes. I felt massively awake now. My heart was surging forward, like an engine being eased into gear.

` I mean, the more I think about this, Grey’s coming to Seattle, the more hope I have. It is an opportunity to suggest a meeting between us, using DeMarr as a go-between?’

Michael looked unsure. He looked at Jonathan, who shrugged, also uncertain.

`What are you thinking, Jamie?’ Michael sat on the end of the bed.

`Oh I don’t know – but look: Grey is coming to Seattle with a photograph, he is obviously going to show it to DeMarr, why else would he have taken it?. He will ask DeMarr if he knows these people, and DeMarr will answer in the affirmative.’ I smiled at Michael warmly, `In fact he will now say that we are secret supporters of his, who want to meet him?’ It sounded plausible to me, plausible enough to give me a sense that we had a handle on the latest temporal fuck up. Was this a plan?

`So we get DeMarr to arrange a meeting with us and Grey, because we need his help?’ Jonathan looked thoughtfully.

`Or he needs our help?’

`Doesn’t matter – we can see what DeMarr thinks on the way to the zoo, you said yourself Michael, why not go straight to Grey? This may be our chance. He is suspicious now, of Wilcox, but he trusts DeMarr, they go back a long way, he is intrigued by the photograph, but above all else, Grey is curious. Curiosity in a scientist is a very powerful instinct!’ Michael looked at me, keenly and attentively. He nodded with a beautiful alpha male smirk.

` I think you’re right, Jamie boy. Now we have to get enough information from DeMarr about the download and Grey, to encourage Maxwell to want to meet him, and to buy the plan that we move out of Seattle and head east to Wenatchee as soon as we can.’

We looked at each other knowingly. For a moment we shared a loving image of Max at his most stubborn; silent, dark, heels dug in. Michael smiled.

`Exactly! I so love slapping him out of those moods!’

Jonathan, clearly a pragmatist, added quietly `Don’t rush things, let us see what comes out of our meeting with DeMarr. Remember Liz isn’t even pregnant, and it was the pregnancy that drove her and Max to Grey in the first place?’

There was a silence. A gust of wind hit the front of the apartment block, rattling the windows.

`Jamie and I are working on something.’ Michael pulled a face. We were?

`Good’ Jonathan said, `But let us see how the time-line flows, it may yet lead us to where we want to go. The more we improvise the more paradoxes we create.’ Michael nodded respectfully.

`Ok Yoda.’

I stopped Michael just as he was opening the door.

`Michael – how much does Max know about Grey and the Boston experiments, I mean, what has Jesse told him so far?’

`Not much, Jesse told us that Grey would be important if things went wrong – but he didn’t elaborate. He also communicated with Max that Grey was buying Bone Hill House, but I am not sure how much attention Max gave it. We talk with Jesse very infrequently, partly because of the risk, but also because it upsets Isabel. We were supposed to be in touch with him last week, but the scare with the Feds intervened. ’

`But should we –‘

`Come on’ Jonathan opened the bedroom door for us. `We have little time.’

I found the living room transformed into a cross between a seminar and a sit-in. Persisting in their weird habit of never actually sitting on a chair, most of the gang were on the floor, with the exception of DeMarr, who was sitting near the breakfast bar on a stool, looking distastefully at his pictures in the papers. When I appeared he made a sort of half scream.

`My dear boy! Jamie, I never knew, I never knew that you enjoyed the company of such delightful people!’ I clambered over various bodies, and hugged him. I was incredibly happy to see him.

`Oh and I have a new parrot.’ he added.

`I think I heard it.’

`I’ve called her Herodutus II’ beemed my supervisor, which made the parrot sound like a missile.

Max sat wedged between Maria and Liz, Maria with her head on his shoulder. Kyle had discovered an Indian tabla and was tapping it appreciatively. Jonathan had taken up a position near the door. Isabel was sitting, cross-legged, her hair in a ponytail, doing what appeared to be a form of meditation, or stretching. Michael was handing out bits of paper.

`What’s this?’ Isabel took a few off him and passed them around.

`The agenda’ Max put on his glasses carefully, self consciously, with Liz teasing.

`Liz!’ he said plaintively.

When my copy got to me it had two headings: `Un-reserved: Open’ and `Reserved: Closed’ Under Un-reserved, it had the following Report by DeMarr on Grey’s experiments in Boston. DeMarr’s report on the download theft. Questions and Answers. DeMarr to Zoo. The Reserved section was ominously blank.

I felt the sudden urge for a joint, and judging by Jonathan’s knee movements so did he. I made a rolling gesture with my hands, and Jonathan smiled sheepishly. I then noticed Isabel’s censorious gaze and put my hands in my pocket.

`Ok, the Grey Appreciation and Activist Society is in session’ Michael coughed.

`GAAS?’ queried Maria.

`Don’t start Maria,’ he looked apologetically at DeMarr. `We narrowly avoided a schism last year over the name of our organisation.’ I gestured to DeMarr to put the paper down.

Max asked DeMarr about Grey. He seemed indecisive for a moment. `I feel obliged to be cautious. Mr. Evans. How much do you really know about this?’

`Well, my sister’s ex-husband, Jesse Ramirez, was Grey’s lawyer when the government revoked his license and tried to discredit his work. He also helped Grey buy Bone Hill House. We know something of his work in Boston –‘ Max’s voice trailed off. He looked at me for help. I had an ominous feeling, a sort of shiver in the back of my mind. I thought of Wilcox’s comment on the phone earlier, about Max finding out things he might not be able to bear?. I smiled at him bravely, and without thinking, I made a kissing gesture with my lips. He frowned beautfully, and Liz, who caught sight of it, burst out laughing


I tried to concentrate. I looked at DeMarr.

`We know that Grey was working on genetic manipulation, and that he was working on live subjects. We also know that at some stage, around 2002, the FBI took over the management of Grey’s facilities and embargoed the findings. Jesse helped Grey smuggle out his archives.’ I spoke carefully, as if under oath. At no stage must it appear that I knew more than DeMarr. Michael looked tense, like he was trying not to belch in public.

`It was a terrible scandal.’ DeMarr said this to himself, quietly. `I had been collaborating with Grey for some time on using retro-viruses to recombine DNA in mice.’ Maria moaned. `The results were promising but the viruses were too random, there was no principle of conservation at all and we needed a more related species to work on. Then suddenly, a Children’s Health Foundation, in Phoenix, Arizona, approached Professor Grey. Four children, two girls and two boys had been miraculously cured of cancer a short time previously –‘

I watched Max’s face change. I watched all the faces in the room change. I tried to think back to the codex again – surely they knew the connection, if not in detail? But to my horror I realised that, for the first time, Max was being made aware of the complex chain of causality that already linked him to Grey. What had, in the original Codex, been partially revealed by Jesse, was now being told brutally by DeMarr.

`Phoenix?’ Max asked this almost in fear, quietly. His body language spoke of memory, of his own inability to forget. `Had their cancers returned?’ I saw Liz take his hand instinctively, and Maria, Michael, Kyle, Isabel all looked intently at Max.

`No. They were referred because they had all developed special powers, extraordinary abilities. Their parents wanted them cured of this.’ Max closed his eyes. I looked at Michael helplessly. He shrugged at me, as if reading my thoughts. DeMarr, oblivious, pressed on.

`On examining them, Grey discovered that their DNA was different, that it had been altered in some subtle way. It also appeared to contain non-human material, as if two different but closely related species had produced the children. Grey believed it possible that the altered DNA could be re-coded back to the human genome, but at this stage the Feds turned up, with a group of international scientists. They proceeded to clone the children’s DNA and crossbreed the genetic material, an entirely illegal practice, to produce –‘

`Why?’ I could not help interrupting. It was of course a rhetorical question. It distracted me from the sight of Max’s pain.

`The Feds had a secret protocol, that later Grey discovered, they already knew that the children contained alien DNA’,

There was feigned surprise. `And they intended to breed a pure phenotype of the alien. That was their plan – to `back-breed’ the hybrids.’

`And Grey went along with this?’ Max asked this, his voice barely a whisper.

`For a time, he believed he could control the experiments, and retain the direction of the project as a whole. Moreover, as you will not know, Grey’s father, an influential man, believed he had been abducted and experimented on by aliens, and so Grey felt a sort of personal connection with this. Grey had committed his father, believing he was insane. The revelation that alien DNA existed deeply affected him.’

`So what happened?’ Kyle asked this, his blue eyes keenly on DeMarr.

`Donor women had the embryos implanted into them, but the `back-bred’ foetuses showed rapid, abnormal cellar growth almost immediately'

Max was holding his hands across his face. He looked like he was going to be sick. `And they developed greater powers than their `parent’ children, even while still in the womb. The pregnant women were moved to depleted uranium cells, where they gave birth to their children in less than four weeks. The children continued to grow rapidly, and they started to overpower the guards. In the end the government destroyed them.’

`All of them?’ Max asked, as if he was alone with DeMarr, as if we had all gone and he was sitting in a dark confessional, his arms folded tightly.

`Except the original four children, which Jesse and Grey smuggled out, with a lot of the data sets. Indeed Grey managed to cure them of their powers, proof that his hybridity technique worked and their powers removed. He believed he could save the new born `babies’ as well, and wanted to negotiate with them, but the Feds had to use surprise because the children were telepathic – so they blew up the complex without warning, killing a large number of innocent people.‘

`Oh my god!’ Liz sounded incredulous. ` It's like something out of Wyndham!’

There was a silence. A brief finger of sunlight broke through the low grey clouds over downtown Seattle, striking the floor at Max’s feet. It seemed a curious portent. Max lay curled in on himself as if he had been physically struck.

`Out of what, Liz?’ asked Isabel.

`Wyndham. A British writer, John Wyndham. He wrote a book called the Midwich Cuckoos.’

DeMarr smiled grimly, there was a trace of anger in his face that I have never seen before.

`That is what Grey called them, the cross-bred babies, the Midwich Cuckoos.’

At that stage Max stood up and walked blindly to the bathroom.
Last edited by Patroclus76 on Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Patroclus76 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:27 am


Extract from Grey's Diaries sequestered under 15/7

28th January 2006.

I had walked back to my room carefully, deliberately, like a man walking away from a dangerous animal. I telephoned DeMarr and told him I would meet him alone at Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle, in the Ape house, at 2pm. DeMarr liked apes and animals, they would relax him. I then returned to the library where for some curious reason I checked my data sets. To my relief, they were all still sealed in the cabinets. I looked about the vast reefs of books to calm myself, like a miser inspecting his horde of knowledge.

I had never seen such an atmospheric place, so vast and somehow so changeable. Sometimes the library seemed unimaginably large, so much so that it was impossible to fit it into my mental image of the House itself. At other times it appeared to shrink to a well panelled, inviting, vault of a room, self-effacing, cosy. This morning, under the brittle light of a thaw, it seemed infinite and alien. The windows and their spanning arches reminded me of the Codrington Library at Oxford, England, but on an altogether impossible scale. My breath steamed. I noticed in the top corner of the main window an old pigeon nest.

I turned to leave. In front of me were the vast double doors to the main hall, made of hardwood but oddly colored, as if caste in metal. They stood about twenty feet high and about eight feet across, set into a an ornate, embossed cartouche that mixed Georgian neo-Greek with rococo swirls and pendants. It had been designed as an approximate copy of Rodin’s tribute on a monumental arch – the Gates to Hell - but it seemed inspired by something more than a play on Dante. Each panel showed powerful, distorted figures, invariably against a dark and sinister background. Above the entire doorway, centred in an alcove between the two great slabs of wood, crouched a marbled figurine of a man looking down, his hand to his chin in thought. The Thinker! My wife had joked that it was a depiction of me, looking over my domain! I smiled. We had also joked that the entrance to the library – to a place of knowledge – should have been likened to Hell? The industrial timber merchant, whose wealth had gone into building Bone Hill, clearly had a curious sense of irony! A Faustian bargain, knowledge and death? Looking up anxiously at The Thinker, the old jokes seemed less humorous that morning. The figure was actually of quite a young man. He wore a cape thrown back against powerful shoulders, and he seemed to be crying down at me, in anger or in pain, a warning? I pushed them open. Sometimes they were stiff and hard, sometimes they moved easily and without effort. Sometimes I imagined they whispered to me.

Odd the things we do not notice. As I walked through them I realised for the first time the curious architectural quirk that the doors opened outward, despite the fact that the door panels on the outside of the library – the ones you would see as you approached from the hall – were relatively plain. It was as if the library was the entrance to the House, and not vice-versa. Had the doors been accidentally built facing the wrong way? Then I had the altogether absurd idea that they had been the other way around – I felt convinced of it. Indeed I had a memory of standing outside in the hall pointing to the figure and telling my wife that it was supposed to be a representation of Dante himself. I shivered and, embarrassed by my sudden susceptibilities walked briskly to confront Wilcox.

Wilcox was making breakfast when I arrived in the kitchen. It was by far the warmest place in Bone Hill House, and big enough to garrison a small army. Wilcox looked much the same, slightly paler perhaps, and he wore his great coat over his working clothes. He nodded as I walked in and gestured to the papers. I stood looking at him, while he poured us both a coffee – so much so he looked up at me, slightly puzzled.

`Wilcox –‘ I said, `I have to ask you something, something which will sound rather strange.’

I tried to sound firm, but there was no visible reaction. I was very nearly tempted to say `Look here, I have just seen you with a dead house keeper and three young men, would you care to explain?’ but instead I said

`I had the oddest feeling this morning, that someone had turned around the library doors?’

I thought he looked vaguely relieved. Did he know he had been seen?

`Are you serious?’ he handed me my coffee. I realised, as I took the cup from his old weather worn hand, how desperately unhappy and betrayed I would feel if it turned out that Wilcox was deceiving me.

`Yes, I am. I am sure I used to admire the statue of Dante. The Thinker, from the hallway, from outside.’

`He looked at me carefully, suspecting a joke. We had, from time to time, played practical tricks on each other, especially during the summer.

`Well I rarely go in there, Julian, so I can’t say I would have notice but I would think it unlikely.’ He smiled in his friendly way that oddly reminded me of my father.

`I suppose so, although stranger things have happened.’ I said ominously. This time he looked at me rather sharply from under his bushy eyebrows.

`And what does that mean?’

I ignored him and opened some letters.

`Wilcox I have to take the car to Seattle in about five minutes – I have an important meeting.’

`Seattle! What time is your meeting – we had better check if the roads are clear.’

`I shall drive, you can stay here.’ I said this rather bluntly.

`Of course, but mind your speed!’ I could see that my insistence on going alone had taken him aback. I remembered the first time I had met Wilcox, standing on the driveway. Miss Clever had been with him. There had been a bizarre incident in which it appeared that he had no first name, or not one he could remember. I so wanted to trust him – but what could it all mean?

I looked at him clinically. He was not the sort of man the FBI worked with. I knew that sort now, intimately; they were callous, over educated bullyboys. Wilcox was, despite his apparent looks and station in life, incredibly cultured and kind. DeMarr was always the test for me. DeMarr was so surreal, so odd, and so incongruous as a leading scientist that most people treated him like an idiot. Wilcox treated him with warmth and humor and DeMarr’s respect for him was obvious. Could I have been deceived? And if so, why? If Wilcox was working for Davies against me, why wait so long? Why act now?

I dressed in tweeds against the cold, and I wore a thick rich paisley scarf my wife had bought me from India. It was made from Kashmiri silk. Before I went to the garages to get the Rolls, I made a quick detour to Wilcox’s rooms, not far from my study on the ground floor, with doors leading into the gardens. They were simply, tastefully furnished. I hated this break of faith between us but I was determined to retrieve the photograph I had spied a few years earlier. Somehow, a detail had stirred in my mind when looking down into the courtyard. I tried not to root about but for a moment Wilcox loomed so large in my mind that I felt obsessed, like a detective. At one level the room was anonymous, at another, crammed with incidental detail. There was a translation of Ovid’s poems by the British poet laureate, Ted Hughes on his bedside table. There were several small bottles of Tabasco sauce lined up on the dresser. Drugs? To my surprise, they contained Tabasco sauce. On a bureau by the French doors was a single note pad, ringed, with several scribbled words on it:

procreation no later than 18th February – if not what is the plan?
Davies is Tess’s son. What is his motive?

The latter was ringed several times in pencil. So he knew Davies. But to list his name implied he was watching him not working for him? I felt a sense of relief but also one of deepening mystery. I looked up and caught sight of the photograph. It was the only ornamentation in the room, on a shelf devoid of books. I looked at it carefully in the brilliant white light. It was as I remembered it.

I removed the back and took it from the frame. It was quite brittle, and well faded except for where the wood had shaded the photographic paper from the light. Holding it close to my eyes I could make out `To Max from Jamie March ‘37’ written in some sort of silver pen. My heart was racing. I would not hear Wilcox if he came in on me suddenly. I trusted to his routine to keep him engaged until mid morning. I removed a small pair of reading glasses and scrutinised the images.

I was mildly surprised to see that one of the young men was Jamie, DeMarr’s graduate student, another was the long haired youth, both who I had spied this morning. The third youth was dark haired, tanned, almost Hispanic looking, sharply good looking, with his arms folded powerfully across his chest. Jamie has his arms folded too, in apparent mockery, because the young man was half turned, smiling shyly. The woman in the picture was tall, blonde, Nordic looking, and very attractive.

The color was badly leached, but it seemed either late spring or early summer. It was old, but how old? March ’37 had to be wrong for the simple fact of Jamie and his friend! They were as I had seen them this morning. An error? I pictured Wilcox taking the photograph, getting them to pose, talking and laughing. But when? The woman seemed to be reluctant to smile – were they his children? I went to put the print back. As I did so, I noticed that on the back, just below Jamie’s handwriting was a very faint computer date line, with the print number. I screwed up my eyes, trying to see it. It was barely legible. Yet with effort I made it out.

22nd March 2006.

I felt a curious chill. I had in my hand a photograph that had not yet been taken.

I placed the print in my pocket and left the open frame on the bed.