He Fell To Earth
He came to earth on a beam of light in the middle of a thunder storm. Weathermen would remark on the strong lightning in the vicinity. It would be noted on their weather maps and tracked with their instruments as far as their knowledge would allow. But they would never know the truth of it.
They would never know that above the clouds and undetected by any means available to man at this time, the mothership of a fleet of twenty ships lowered itself and punched a hole in the storm cloud sending down the beam of light and it’s commander, Cregan.
He touched lightly down on the wet grass and bent down to touch it. He knew grass. Looking upward as the beam of light disappeared into the clouds he knew rain and he took a deepbreath of air. This was Earth. He knew of Earth although he’d never visited before. It was a planet much like Akronto. It was inhabited by humans and he also shared their genetic makeup. But that’s where the similarities ended. They had evolved in different directions.
A dog had detected his presence and began barking ferociously. From his own experience, where there were dogs there were men and he would need their help to carry out his mission. He carried no fear of men or dogs, or anything else to be found on Earth. He began walking toward the barking dog.
Anne Hendricks just finished lighting a candle when the power came back on. She decided to leave it burning just in case the electricity blinked again. She could hear Toby barking. Crazy dog, why he insisted in going out in the pouring rain she couldn’t imagine. He’d pawed at the door and whined until she gave in and let him out. She went to the back door and opened it calling out for Toby.
Cregan met the dog and held out his hand. He knew the dog. Toby whined and then began wagging his tail. He bowed his head and allowed the man to pet him. When he stood up he saw the lights from the farmhouse and with Toby as escort he went into the back garden. When the woman opened the door he stepped behind a shrub touching its leaves. He knew the shrub as a camellia. It would produce pure white blooms.
Toby went inside and was met by Anne with a bath towel she’d taken from the dryer.
"Stand still you silly dog. You’re soaked." She rubbed him down with the towel
While Anne tended to the wet dog Cregan approached the house. He walked around it oblivious to the pouring rain and laid his hand on the front door. He could sense the mechanisms that heated and cooled the dwelling. He could sense the electricity in the wallsand more…there was but one human inside; a female. He looked down at a small glowing button and pushed it. A melodious sound came from inside.
Anne tossed the towel in the direction of the washer and dryer and walked through the hall to the front room. Who could be calling at this time of night in the pouring rain? She looked out of the side windows but couldn’t see a car. Her house sat at the end of a long dirt road.
Toby was whining and pawing at the door. "Oh, you know who it is do you, friend of yours?" She opened the door as far as the chain lock would allow and peered out. Her front porch light was out but clearly it was a man standing there under the drip of the leaking porch roof.
"Hello, Anne Hendricks, I wonder if you might help me."
"Do I know you?" She squinted through the three inch opening.
"You do not know me but you will. My name is Cregan. Toby and I have met." He did not know her. Not until he could touch her would he know what she was.
"Well, um, what sort of help do you need? Do I need to call a wrecker or something; did your car break down?"
"No, I’m to find my brother."
"Your brother, does he live around here?"
"That I do not know."
"What’s his name?" Toby had his nose through the opening. "Toby get back."
"You do not need to fear me, Anne Hendricks, I mean you no harm. I only need your help."
She hesitated a moment because she was alone in the house. Her hand went to her cell phone in the right pocket of her sweater. "Just a minute." She closed the door and looked down at Toby who began whining again.
"All right, Toby, this is on you and I expect you to go into attack mode if the need arises." She opened the door.
"Come in out of the rain." When he came in she gasped. "Oh, my, were you at a costume party or something?"
He lookeddown at his streaming clothes. "I have not had time to acquire suitable clothing."
"Well…do you want to take off…um, the cape?" She thought he looked grand. Too bad his costume got wet.
He unhooked the fur trimmed cape he wore and handed it to her.
She almost dropped it. "It’s awfully heavy…I could hang it in the laundry room. It can drip there."
"Thank you, Anne Hendricks."
"Yes, well, it’s back here off the kitchen." She turned to see him following her down the hall to the kitchen. She hung the heavy wetcape on a sturdy hook and wiped her hands on her jeans.
"Would, uh, you like something to drink? I’ve got iced tea or I can make some coffee."
"Do you have water?"
"Water…yes." She filled his glass with water and ice from the door of her fridge and handed it to him. "Oh, would you like a towel to dry off with? You’re awfully wet."
From the laundry room she brought another towel out for him. "Cregan, you said your name was?"
He dried his head and his arms and face. "That is my name. I’m here to find my brother and I’ll need some help."
"What’s his name?"
"Thaine, though he may not be using that name now. It’s been a long time since he was sent here."
"I don’t recognize the name. Is he like a missing person, have you reported him?"
"He is missing." Her fear had left her quickly and he was glad of that. The language was coming to him as she spoke and some words took longer for him to translate. "He is not to be reported. He has done nothing wrong that I am aware of."
"I didn’t mean that he had. The police will help you find him."
"Police…no, I think not. You have means of finding someone here. Do you not?"
"I have a computer but if he’s changed his name then I don’t see how you’re going to find him unless you hire some private detective or something."
"Wherever he is, he will be considered different, a genius perhaps."
"I, um, don’t recognize your accent. Where are you from?"
He smiled, "a long way from here."
She smiled back. There was something about him…his eyes. A handsome man despite his odd choiceof costume. He had a regal bearing. He held himself well and he had her full attention.
"Please, sit down. Excuse the mess." She quickly cleared the table of her dinner dishes. The power had gone out while she was eating.
"I’d like to help you if I can but I really don’t know what I can do."
He sat at the table and Toby lay down beside of him.
"You can guide me in the right direction and I will take it from there." He absently scratched the dog’s ears.
"You’ve made a friend," she said.
"He is a creature of instinct and he knows I do not mean him any harm."
"Is there someone I can call for you? Do you know any of his friends?"
"I have not seen him in twenty years. I know little of his life here…only that he still exists."
"Twenty years, oh, my goodness. I’ve lived here for more than twenty years and I can tell you that there aren’t any geniuses around here. You know for a fact he’s here in Forest Acres?"
"No, I do not know where he is."
"So he could be anywhere in the world is that what you’re saying?"
"Anywhere on Earth."
"That’s a pretty large area to hunt for one man, you know."
"That is why I came to you. You find people."
"How did you know that?"
He shook his head slightly and touched the back of her hand lightly with three fingers.
She felt it immediately. Like an electric current and it was almost painful, a humming through her arm that spread over her whole body. She was unable to move or look away from his eyes.
He lifted his fingers and released her. His expression was one of interest.
Anne rubbed the back of her hand and noticed three red spots where his fingers had rested.
"Who are you?"
"I mean what are you, what did you just do to me?"
"I read you as you would read a book. I mean you no harm I only wanted to know you."
"No harm…that was…you didn’t answer my question." She looked down at her hand and the spots had disappeared.
He took a drink from the water glass. "If I told you, you would not believe me. You would call the authorities. People would think you are mad for believing such a thing. They would back away from you and pity you. If I told you."
"You’re crazy…I can’t believe I’ve let a mad man in my house. I’m going to ask you to leave now." She put her hand in her pocket and felt the phone.
"If you call them on that phone what will you tell them? Will you tell them that I know you as no other human will ever know you? The broken finger that’s crooked on your left hand. The knee that gives you problems because you fell and did not get a medical man to look at it. I can tell you your blood pressure is 115/70. Your heart is normal and healthy. You write short stories when you aren’t working for the insurance company. You’ve had your heart broken in romance twice. You like looking for missing heirs and hope that someday you will find one for you."
"Stop…stop, that’s enough. I don’t know how you…how you found out all this information about me. I’m telling you now that you are scaring me to death and I want you to leave…now."
He sighed and moved the glass on the table. "I will tell you who and what I am and I hope you will understand why you cannot reveal this information to anyone. I’ve only come for my brother and for no other reason. I am not here to do any harm to you or anyone else. Our father has died and it’s time he came home and tookhis rightful place. Our mother has dispatched me to find him.
"I am an Akrontonian from the planet Akronto. You will not know it; it is not of this galaxy. It is a planet much like yours, rich in natural resources to sustain life. We take only what we need to live from the elements. Unlike your people we have not tried to harness our planet’s energies for our own gain. We live in harmony and peace with our world. We have put our energies into bettering ourselves, our intellect and physical capabilities."
Anne had been listening to this with her mouth slightly open. "You’re serious. How did you get here?"
He searched for the right words. "In a ship."
"Spaceship? This is…" she shook her head, "I don’t suppose it was called the Enterprise was it?"
"I am not here to perform parlor games with you. I have told you the truth for unlike your kind, we do not lie. I realize it is beyond your imagination but I assure you it is the truth."
"Your kind, my kind…you’re not human are you?"
"I am. I share the same genetics as you."
"You’re not going to transform into some…beast from outer space?"
He frowned slightly, "No, I do not transform into anything. I am as you see me."
"You speak English on your planet do you?" She was still skeptical.
"I speak whatever I need to communicate. I have not visited your Earth before but long ago my ancestors did. There are very few places that can sustain life as we know it. That is why my brother was sent here."
"Why was he sent here?"
"He displeased my father. He is different and you will see this when he is found. My father sent him here to satisfy my mother who was very upset over his banishment."
Anne rested her face in her hands. He was right about one thing; if she called the police and told them there was an alien in her kitchen they’d think she was the crazy one. She found herself wanting to believe him. If he’d wanted to harm her he could have done so already. She looked across the table at his hand, at the neatly trimmed nails and remembered the current that ran though her when he touched her.
"What did you do to me with your fingers, how did-"
"A sense of touch. Our senses are developed way beyond your capabilities. To touch is to know. To hear or see or taste is to know."
"Twenty years is a long time, Cregan. He may not want to be found. Had you thought about that?"
She had accepted him and he was pleased.
She accepted him to a point. There was really no other explanation for him but still it was hard for her to get her mind around what he’d told her of himself. She felt vulnerable here in her isolated farmhouse with only Toby for company and he’d completely gone over to Cregan. The dog lay with his head on Cregan’s boot. She was not above believing he’d cast some sort of spell over her dog.
It was getting late and there was the question of what she was to do with him. She could take him into town and find a motel room for him but she guessed correctly that she’d have to pay for it. Upstairs were three bedrooms, two of which were unused. She still slept in the room she’d had as a child although she’d redecorated it some years ago.
She was assuming he’d need shelter for the night. She glanced up at him and his eyes were on her. It unnerved her.
"I suppose you’ll need a place to stay while you search for your brother."
He shifted in the chair. "Yes."
She took a deep breath. "I have, um, spare rooms upstairs…if…if you’d want to stay here or I can take you into town." She looked at his attire, "that might not be a good idea."
"I would be honored to be a guest in your house."
She smiled, "not sure how honored you’ll feel when you see the room." She thought she’d put him in her older brother’s room. He rarely came out to the country anymore but she kept his room ready. Her parent’s room was still as they’d left it.
He sensed herreluctance, her fear of him as a man. He couldn’t find the words to assure her she should not fear him. He sat quietly letting her find her way through her fears. He was careful that nothing in his manner of speech or the airs around him would suggest any sort of threat to her. He finished the glass of water. She had a well and he knew the water was pure and fresh. Given a minute he could have placed the source of the water deep in the aquifer that ran beneath her farm. But she was standing now and he stood too. She was going to lead him up the stairs to the room where he may sleep. He looked down and smiled at the dog. Toby was alert and wanting to know what was happening now.
"There’s a bathroom here," she opened the door at the end of the hallway, "and the bedroom his here. It’s my brother’s room but he doesn’t come very often."
"Thank you, you are very kind."
"Well, I’m going to load the dishwasher and then I’ll turn in for the night. If you need anything…just let me know. There are toiletries in the drawer in the vanity. I always keep spares…just in case."
"Rest easy through the night." He bowed slightly and she left him to find his way about the accommodations. Toby was torn between the two of them but he followed her back down the stairs.
Cregan walkedaround the room he’d been given and touched everything. He took in the photographs framed and hanging on the wall. Photographs of her brother’s sports teams. He pondered over them and then understood it was a sport, a play of sorts. As he ran his fingers over the furniture and the bed he began to know the man whose room he was to sleep in. He sensed the man would not be pleased that he was occupying his space. He touched the books left stacked on a shelf and he knew the books and the essence of what they contained. The books interested him. A window toward how life was lived here on Earth.
He took off his damp clothing and lay it out to dry over a chair.
Anne lay in her bed with her ears on alert waiting for boards to creek. Waiting for the doorknob to turnon her locked bedroom door. Toby was oblivious to her fear and slept soundly on the foot of her bed. To be truthful he’d given her no reason for the fear it’s just that he was and he was in her house.
With one last downpour the storm gathered it’s self and moved on through the night leaving behind puddles and a misty morning. Cregan walked out of the house in clothing he’d found in her brother’s room. A pair of denim jeans and a cotton shirt. He fit his feet into unfamiliar leather loafers. He’d determinedher brother and he were of a same build. There were things in the drawers he did not know at first. Synthetic materials he was not acquainted with.
He looked out over the fields surrounding the house and upon closer inspection he determined they were fields of corn. Much more corn than she could possible use. There were things familiar and unfamiliar around him and he took them in one by one until he knew of the place where he had landed. The barn had once held animals but no more. The field where he’d landed had once been the home of horses. Horses he knew and he missed their warm companionship. It was a good house she lived in but the land around it was wanting.
Toby’s constant whining and nose bumps finally brought Anne out of her sleep. She’d lain awake half the night waiting for something that did not come. Now morning was here and it was time to face the reality of Cregan. The reality of what she’d let herself in for. She wrapped her robe about her and went down the stairs with Toby to let him out. Standing at the back door she saw him coming from the old horse paddock. The sight of him in Jamie’s clothes took her breath for a moment. He was a very attractive man…or whatever he was. Akrontonian?
She started the coffee pot and left the door open. The cool air felt good freshening the kitchen.
He came in the door and bowed slightly. "Good day to you, Anne Hendricks."
"Good morning. You can call me Anne. Did, um, you sleep?"
"I did. You must eat a lot of corn."
She smiled pulling out coffee cups. "Not that much. I’ve leased the fields to a neighbor. He plants corn."
"Does he eat it?"
"Oh, no, he sells it. I have a small vegetable patch out by the barn. Tomatoes, peppers and squash."
"I saw that. In my world we plant what we eat. If we do not plant we do not eat."
"Really, everybody has a garden?"
"Are you all farmers?"
"No, a garden is part of the household." He pulled out a chair and sat down.
"What do you do there?"
"Do? I am a soldier; commander of the Ornato Fleet. However that will change when I return." He sighed, "Not that I would wish it to."
A soldier…commander that she could believe. He had the bearing of someone who could command. "Why will it change?"
"I will assume the duties of my father." He looked up at her catching her with his blue gaze.
She blinked and looked back at the coffee she was pouring out. "Do you take milk or sugar?"
"What have you prepared?"
She sat a cup before him and he smelled it. "I know this drink." He sipped the coffee. "It is good."
"It’s necessary. I have to have coffee to start my day. I see you found Jamie’s clothes. Good thing they fit."
"He will not be pleased if you tell him about me."
"He wouldn’t believe me anyway." She noticed he wore some sort of medallion around his neck. "What’s that around your neck?"
He looked down and fingered the medallion. "It signifies who I am. It will mean nothing to you." It should mean more to him than it did. It was something he did not want.
"It’s nice, looks very old."
"It is very old." He felt the weight ofit around his neck.
She sat across from him with her cup. "So today we begin searching for your brother. Thaine…that’s a pretty name."
"It means beautiful boy in our language. He was but I do not know what he has become here on Earth."
She cooked him eggs and toast. He declined bacon. Over breakfast she learned something about his diet. She determined it was organic. He did eat meat, drink wine and an alcohol made from grains. His clothing was made from animal skins, cotton, silk or flax. Nothing artificial or manmade. He did not come from an industrialized society. It sounded almost medieval to her but then again he’d come from another galaxy in a space ship. Nothing medieval there.
"At a point in our history we were visited by another race. At first we thought they came in peace and we opened our thresholds to them. By the time they left we were already forming an army and building craft or our own. Our planet is smaller than Earth but rich in natural resources. We must protect it from those who have squandered their own."
"And that’s what you do as a soldier?"
"Yes, it is what I do."
"Are you married?"
He looked at her for a minute before answering. "I was mated at fifteen as is our way. It is not…not what you know as a marriage. We are mated for life. She oversees my house and the children. She sees to my needs."
"You have children. Boys or girls?"
"Two boys and one girl."
"I see, well, you must be very proud of them."
"Of the children, yes, they are strong and healthy."
After breakfast Anne went upstairs to bathe and dress for the day. She argued with herself a little regarding his marital state. Why should it matter to her? She brushed out her hair leaving it loose to fall in a wavy tangle around her shoulders. Not quite blond, not quite brown and she stared at herself in the mirror. The woman looking back with her large brown eyes and full lips didn’t like the fact that he belonged to another; that he might not find her attractive. She left her room angry with herself for having such thoughts.
While she’d been upstairs he roamed the living room becoming acquainted with the furnishings and the people who’d lived there in this house. Photographs and paintings; more books and in the dining room plates kept in a glassed cabinet. By the time she came downstairs he knew the house well.
For the rest of the morning she worked on her computer and by lunchtime she had several leads. Everything kept coming back to one John Thaine.
"What would you do with that information?" he asked.
"I’d go look him up. He’s only about fifty miles from here. We could be there in about an hour."
Cregan sat back in the chair he’d pulled up beside her. "I do not know the exact location where he landed but the age is right."
"He may have moved around. In twenty years he could have moved around a lot. You said he would be considered a genius. What better place to be on than on a college campus."
"Let us go there and see if this John Thaine is my brother."
"If he is, he shouldn’t be hard to find. He’s well known a Pulitzer Prize winner." Anne gathered up her handbag and led Cregan out to the garage.
He lay a hand on the back of the vehicle and shook his head. "Why?"
"Why? So we can get from one point to another. How do you travel?"
"By ship, by horse, by carriage."
"Very strange." Anne opened the door and reached for her seat belt. "You have to buckle yourself in." She backed out of the garage. "I find it very strange that you can travel from one galaxy to another and yet you go about on horseback."
"There is no need for anything else. If there was then we should have it. It is a different way of living, Anne."
"It sounds as though you live at a slower pace than we do here. Everybody is always in a hurry."
"A man who is in a hurry is one who has left it too late or he has too many masters."
She found out a little more about his people. They did not go to school, there was no such thing as a classroom. Children learned from their senses. The only thing that was taught was weaponry and only to the ones that needed it. The ones that went into the army.
"We are a peaceful people and we live in harmony with each other and our world."
"Not physically as you do here."
"You fight mentally?"
"It can do more damage than a bloody nose, Anne Hendricks, and sometimes can be deadly."
She couldn’t imagine it. "You never said why your brother was here other than your father had sent him here."
"He is not…perfect and our father suspected he was not of his seed."
"Is he your father’s son?"
"Yes. Extensive investigations have proved that he is. But of course he’d already been sent away. He would not step down from the position he’d taken."
Extensive investigations? Anne glanced at him but didn’t ask the question.
"How old was he when he was banished?"
"Oh my God, " she said quietly.
MIT in Cambridge is an extensive campus. Anne pulled into a visitor’s parking area and decided to hit the first building she came too. With Cregan at her side she went looking for Provost John Thaine.
John Thaine was found wandering at the edge of town when he was ten years old. He was picked up by the police in Springfield, West Virginia and taken to jail for failing to be in school. When it was determined that he was perhaps an orphan and all attempts to find his parents failed he was put in an orphanage. He did not do well there, he could not assimilate with the other children. A doctor on staff pronounced him mentally insane and he was put in a different home.
There in the hospital he was tested and retested and found to be schizophrenic. The orphanage refused to take him back. He remained in the asylum until he was fifteen years of age and then he went to live with Professor Rothman and his wife. The professor was a sometime member of the staff at the hospital. He recognized something in Thaine…genius.
With medication he was able to keep his hold on reality. Professor Rothman sent him to school and paid for his education.
John Thaine found a home in the halls of higher learning where other eccentrics often lived and worked. He was respected for his knowledge and upon graduation from MIT he became a professor there at the early age of 23. Since then his work had gained him a Pulitzer Prize in Physics. He dodged the spotlight whenever possible not wanting to draw attention to himself.
Thaine had full memory of where he’d come from and how he came to be on Earth. Part of this memory is what landed him in the insane asylum. Over the years he’d put that behind him and made the best of the life he had to live. He’d adapted to Earth’s humankind and their ways
He’d become agitated the night before and could not figure out the reason for it. He’d slept badly and did not rise until after ten o’clock. He found it hard to concentrate during his lecture at 1:00 and had finally called an end to it and walked off seeking the solitude of his office. He’d taken his medicine as always but instead of calming him he was moving from one thing to another without thought as to why. Why did he have the book open on his desk? He closed it and pushed it away. There was something pulling at him, at his mind and he fought it. Something different in the atmosphere…something.
While Anne was asking questions Cregan was mind searching for Thaine.
He didn’t raise his head from his hands when the knock came on his door. "What is it?" He asked wearily.
The door opened and Cregan stepped through. Thaine looked up immediately and recognized his brother. He slowly stood up and raised his hands in front of his chest.
Cregan came to him and lay his hands on Thaine’s. They stood in silence for some time with their hands touching.
Anne silently came in behind Cregan and leaned against the now closed door watching them and wondering.
Finally they broke apart and Thaine looked at the medallion and then into Cregan’s eyes. "A visit from the King himself…well."
"Not yet, not officially. Our mother waits for your return."
"She may wait." Thaine moved from behind his desk. He noticed Anne and nodded slightly in the manner of his brother. "Who is this you have with you?"
"Anne Hendricks. She led me to you."’
"Sorry for your trouble, Anne Hendricks." Thaine looked at her and smiled a little.
"Not a problem." She looked at Cregan who still starred at his brother. It was the word ‘king’ that hung in the air around her.
"I’ve come to take you home, Thaine, father is dead."
"You do not want me there. You on the throne with an idiot brother at your side. It is not a good look, Cregan. I find I like it here."
"You are no idiot, Thaine."
"I know what I am, I’ve been diagnosed and am being treated. I can function normally here. I am a teacher of empty minds. So much I could tell them but cannot. I teach them what they can grasp and what they can know within the confines of this planet."
"You have become an Earth-human."
"You find that disgusting don’t you. It is not so bad. Better I think in some ways."
"You’ve had a difficult time here."
"Yes, I have but I have learned much from it. I was ill at first until my body adapted to polluted air and water, tainted food and noise. Twenty years, Cregan."
"He is dead now."
"Yes, you said he was. Why would I want to go back now? I’m thirty years old…too late for anything that might matter. Nothing left but widows and carriers. I’ve met someone." He looked down and traced a pattern in the carpet with the toe of his shoe. "In the way of Earth-humans…I have feelings for her. She knows of my illness but not of my origins."
Anne felt a little sorry for Thaine. He’d made the best of it. She couldn’t imagine abandoning a child of ten to fend for himself not to mention he’d been left on a different planet. He looked remarkably like his brother, Cregan. There was a difference in the way he held himself, he was clean shaven and his hair was lighter in color and he’d acquired a southern accent.
"Cregan, I have not thought of myself as an Akrontonian for an awfully long time. There’s no one here for me to practice my little tricks with. You sensed what I went through when I tried to assert myself. It’s all put away now."
"Not all of it, you greeted me in the way of our kind."
"Because it was you. I didn’t rush over to Anne Hendricks and do the same now did I?"
"She is not of our kind, Thaine, and would not have expected it nor would I have expected it from you. You need to remember who you are and what you are. I came here to find you and to take you back. You do not have an option."
"That’s where you’re wrong, brother. For twenty years I did not have an option but now I do. I do not choose to go back with you. You can tell our mother I hardly remember her or the fight she did not put up when I was banished."
"She could not. You know that is the truth."
"I’ve learned different ways here. People do have a choice."
"That may be but you are not one of them. It is true you have been here for a long time and many of their ways and laws and traditions have affected you. You are a Prince among your people and they wait for your return. I cannot rule without you by my side. I need you, Thaine."
"In the time I knew you, you needed no one by your side. You walked alone in father’s shadow."
"It was not my choice nor is the duty that awaits me."
"First born son of the king…you never had a chance. I did and I’ve made what I could from it. Would you like to see where I live and how I live here? I’ll take you home with me."
"Very well." Cregan turned around to Anne. "You don’t have to stay. I can take it from here."
"Let her stay, you may need her. The invitation is extended to you, Anne Hendricks."
"Thank you, Thaine." Part of her wanted to leave before she became more involved with them and part of her wanted to stay. Her sympathies were with Thaine but she also could see Cregan’s dilemma. He was a king although it sounded like a reluctant one.
"If you don’t mind, Cregan."
"I don’t mind if you have the time."
Anne drove them to Thaine’s house. He did not own an automobile and could not drive. The house was in an old money part of Cambridge. A tall narrow townhouse. Once there Thaine went to make tea and Cregan walked around his living room touching and seeing.
Anne asked, "Cregan, what’s wrong with Thaine?"
"His brain is divided. He is two different people inside of one. He sees things that are not there."
"That must have been traumatic for him to have been left here as a child."
"I’m sure it was. He has suffered much here. He spent five years in an insane asylum before someone could see through his delusions and get him the help he needed."
"You aren’t going to force him to go back with you are you?"
"Force? I cannot force him. He has to make that decision on his own."
"Why didn’t you tell me you were a king?" Sheasked moving around a chair.
"I am not your king. I would have meant nothing to you."
She looked up and locked eyes with him, "You might be wrong about that." She’d said it softly and now was embarrassed for speaking so to him. She walked to the window looking out on the street and wished she’d left when she had the chance. Yes, he was interesting, handsome and downright sexy without trying to be at all. But he was not for her he was married with children on a different planet for goodness sake.
"If you’re going to be all right here…I think I should leave," she said to him.
"Here we are, tea, the answer to everything." Thaine came in with a tray and set it on the coffee table.
Cregan’s eyes lingered on Anne for a bit longer and he moved to the sofa and sat down accepting a cup of tea from Thaine.
"Anne Hendricks, won’t you have a cup of tea."
"Yes, thank you." Anne was grateful to have something to do. She didn’t know where this thing came from that blew up in her all of a sudden. Cregan…she should leave. She knew she should leave.
Cregan kept his eyes averted from her. She disturbed him. Like an air movement in a closed room. He didn’t know where it came from. It bothered him because he couldn’t place it’s source. He didn’t want to think that he might be attracted to her. An Earth-human. He’d been with her all day, all morning sitting at her side catching her clean scent from time to time.
It was different here on Earth…it was different.
"I’ve called Elizabeth. She said she would come by when she gets off work. She teaches too, but not here at MIT. She’s a former pupil of mine. She accepts all my strangeness and still says she loves me. Amazing isn’t it?" Thaine took a drink from his cup.
"Thaine, this is not possible." Cregan said it softly and with some compassion for his brother.
"Why not? There is nothing to stop me…least of all you." Thaine waved a hand at Cregan. "I don’t suppose you’ve ever experienced anything like love. You’ve never ventured out of Akronto to see how it’s done anywhere else."
"I am aware. I am aware that here Earth-humans copulate like animals."
Anne’s eyes widened.
"Well, you should try it." Thaine looked him in the eye. "It is better, I’ll wager it is better. I was too young to have experienced the joining. I tried it here but it’s a one way thing. I much prefer the Earth-human way of having sex. Do you know they birth their own children? It’s the natural way of doing things. What happened to us ? Why did we move away from that?"
"I do not know." Cregan did not want to pursue the conversation regarding sex.
"You should show him, Anne Hendricks"
Anne put her cup down on the table. "Thank you for the tea, Thaine. I wish you luck." She smiled at him and meant it. "I need to go home. It’s a nice drive before rush hour hits." She rose fromthe chair and picked up her handbag from the table by the door.
Thaine followed her and stood in front of the door. "I apologize to you. I am sorry if I offended you."
"I’m not offended it’s just time for me to go."
"Wait for him, he’s going to need a ride."
"You’re not going with him are you?"
"No. He doesn’t need me to rule. I suspect our mother’s had an attack of conscience. I’ve forgotten much of life on Akronto. As you see I am happy here. I do not know what your relationship is with him but if you can help convince him."
"I don’t have a relationship with him. He appeared at my door last night."
"Really? Perhaps my powers of perception are failing me. My senses have grown dull from not using them as I can do. "
"You are mistaken." She looked down at her hands worrying the strap on her purse. "He’s married."
"He’s been mated, not married. I am familiar with what marriage is here on Earth and am contemplating taking that step with Elizabeth.
"I don’t understand the difference between mated and married."
He leaned against the door and smiled a little smile. "In order to keep order Akrontonians are mated at the age of 15. Mated for life. Love doesn’t enter into it, Anne Hendricks, it’s all about controlling lust."
"He has children, three of them."
"Good for him. He’s coming to look for us. Don’t go."
She nodded and put her handbag back on the table. "This is against my better judgment."
Thaine smiled and looked over her shoulder, "She’s decided to stay."
Anne turned around and looked at Cregan. "If you have no need of me, I’ll go."
He moistened his lips. "Stay."
There was a difference in the two brothers that she could sense. Perhaps it was because Thaine had been living on earth for twenty years. He seemed like anyone else she might meet except for his eyes.He had a different way of looking out of them. Despite his embarrassing reference to sex she like him. She liked how he’d come through a traumatic childhood and gone on to win a Pulitzer Prize. He was set for life here on Earth and he had a girlfriend. Why would he want to leave?
Thaine was glad she was going to stay. She would act as a buffer between him and Cregan. He respected his older brother. He’d conducted his life flawlessly. He’d done all the right things. He wondered what he might have done if his future hadn’t been arranged when he was born. He was a soldier and probably well suited to life in the military. It kept him away from home. Cregan was not a happy man. During their brief greeting he was able to look into Cregan and know him. In a wayhe pitied him but he would keep that sentiment hidden. As for Anne, he would look for the opportunity to touch her. There was something in the air around her and Cregan.
After Anne’s attempt to leave was foiled they settled back in the living room. Silence prevailed for awhile until Thaine asked if they would like to see his garden.
On the back of his townhouse was a small deck with an umbrella table and two chairs. Down a few steps was his postage stamp size garden but it had been landscaped. He had a fountain and some shrubs and a few blooming flowers. A birdfeeder in one corner was a popular place.
Cregan stood on the deck and looked around the garden before stepping down onto the bricked walk. "What do you grow that is useful?"
"I find it all useful, it pleases me. I like the sound of the fountain and the birds that visit. I like the scent of the leaves and plants. It’s useful to me because it’s calming and sometimes I need that."
Anne was amazed at what had been done with such a small space."Did you do this yourself?"
"I had help planting but I chose what is here."
A large strawberry pot held herbs. Anne pinched off a sprig of mint and smelled it. She handed it to Cregan. "Mint is useful."
Cregan smelled it and tasted it. He looked at Thaine."You have created your own little world here."
Thaine lifted his chin and looked at his brother. "It suits me. The garden, the house, my work and Elizabeth all feed my senses. I am at peace here as much as I can be anywhere."
"You have learned to control your…other impulses?"
"Somewhat…it’s the medication I take that keeps me balanced. I see my doctor regularly. He is well versed in my condition."
"Do you see, Cregan?"
"I’m afraid I do. I don’t want to leave you here. You must know that but I know if I take you away it will do more damage to you." He walked to the end of the brickwork and turned. "It should never have happened. Father…"
"No, it shouldn’t have but it did. In some ways he was a very heartless man. You lived with him much longer than I. Do you think you’ve come away from him without damage?"
Cregan didn’t answer him.
"Did you love him?"
"I respected him. More so as I grew older. After you were taken from us I was inclined to hate him but hate is self destructive. Mother never spoke to him again."
"She didn’t speak to him at all that I remember."
Thaine turned to Anne. "You must understand it was not a marriage. There was no love between them as there was between your parents. They were mated because they were both of royal blood."
"I can’t imagine spending my life with someone I did not love. Is it always that way with your people?"
"Not always, sometimes the mating works differently and love does develop between the two. Unfortunately that didn’t happen with our Cregan."
"She is satisfactory."
"How sad that sounds, brother."
"It is not for you to concern yourself with."
"No, of course it isn’t. How long were you planning on staying on Earth?"
"Only until I found you."
"What will you do now?"
"Return without you…unless you change your mind."
"Ha, don’t wait for that."
"There is no reason for us to remain here." Cregan looked over at Anne.
"I wanted you to meet Elizabeth. It’s important to me that you do." Thaine looked at his watch. "She should be here within the hour." He stepped toward the deck and looked at Anne. "Would you mind helping me to pick a bottle of wine? I thought we might have some wine and some crackers or something when Elizabeth arrives."
"Okay," Anne glanced at Cregan and he turned toward the fountain.
InsideThaine’s tiny kitchen he had a small wine cooler and asked her to choose. She picked a bottle and he opened it.
"I would like to…if you don’t mind…we have a way of knowing another person by touch."
"Oh, I’m already aware of that." She absently rubbed the back of her hand. "You want to touch me?"
"Yes, if I may." He took her hand and turned it over in his placing his fingers on her palm.
She felt a slight jolt and a humming through her arm and her body. He held her with his eyes. Before he released her he did something else.
She tried to pull away from him but couldn’t move. He’d touched her in places that were private. Only briefly but she was tingling when he released her hand.
"Did that feel good?"
She felt her face hot and flushed. "I…don’t understand."
"He didn’t do that to you did he." Thaine smiled and turned to his cabinet pulling out glasses. "You are not harmed, Anne Hendricks. It’s called joining and on Akronto when a man and a woman press their hands together they both feel good. It’s what passes for…sex. I don’t mean to embarrass you at all. I just thought you should know."
"That’s it? How do you reproduce?"
"Here on Earth you call them test tube babies. They’re planted in a carrier and she gives birth. A carrier is a woman who was not mated for whatever reason. She must agree to be a carrier, of course, and that’s the way it’s done."
"Oh, my goodness. That’s…oh."
"Yes, unbelievable isn’t it? You may as well have a taste test." He poured out a little wine in her glass. "I like you, Anne Hendricks. You think enough of yourself not to settle for just anything in order to have a mate. Like me, you’ve had a few ordeals to get through and you’ve landed on your feet." He poured out some wine for himself, "I salute you and wish you the best of luck."
"Thank you…I think."
Cregan had seated himself on the deck. Anne brought him a glass of wine.
"It’s not bad." She said and sat down at the little table with him.
He took a drink from the glass. "It’s good. What do you think of him…Thaine?"
"I like him. I admire what he’s been able to accomplish considering what he’s been through."
He rubbed his forehead. "It’s going to be difficult."
"You aren’t going to make him go?"
"No, but it will be difficult to explain when I get home."
Anne twisted her glass, "when will you go?"
"Soon." His eyes met hers for a moment and he looked out over the garden. "I thank you for helping me, Anne."
"It’s been very interesting. I’m glad I could."
They both turned at the voices inside the house. Thaine came out with a lovely woman by the hand. She was tall with long dark shining hair and a ready smile.
"This is Elizabeth. My brother Cregan and his friend Anne Hendricks."
Cregan stood up and bowed slightly. Anne shook her hand. "How nice to meet you."
"Very nice to meet you too and…Cregan. I didn’t know he had a brother."
"It’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other," Thaine said. "Why don’t we go back inside where there’s more room."
Cregan noticed how Thaine touched his Elizabeth. He held her hand and placed his hand in the small of her back when they walked into the house. Once inside they had their glasses refilled standing around in the kitchen. Elizabeth was at home here with him. He listened to their chatter back and forth and saw how he slipped an arm around her waist. Anne, too, was talking with her and Thaine. A warm and friendly atmosphere in the tiny room. Elizabeth asked him if he was a teacher also.
"No, I am a soldier," he answered. He felt out of place…a stranger in a strange land.
Anne noticed how quiet he was and steppedto his side. "Maybe we should start back, we’ve got an hour’s drive to get home."
"Oh, don’t go, I thought we might have dinner." Thaine protested.
"Yes, please stay. It will be fun,." Elizabeth added.
Anne looked up at Cregan. "Really, we can’t. I have a dog at home that needs his dinner."
The look he gave her was one of thanks. He wanted to leave.
"Maybe some other time," Anne said. "Thank you Thaine." Impulsively she gave him a little hug and one for Elizabeth too. "You’ll have to come and see me sometime…if you’d like to spend some time in the country."
"I’ll take you up on that," Thaine responded. He took Cregan’s hand palm up and looked into his eyes.
"Peace, I wish you peace, my brother, and strength."
"And for you, happiness." Cregan broke the connection and looked at Elizabeth. He smiled at her. "Good luck to you."
Anne buckled her seat belt and looked over at Cregan. "You were ready to go weren’t you."
"Thank you for sensing that."
"He’ll be all right, Cregan."
He was quiet and Anne left himalone. She began looking for a place to stop for dinner. She was starving not having eaten anything since breakfast and the wine didn’t help.
‘You must be hungry I know I am."
"What will we eat?"
"There’s a steak house across the highway." She pulled into a turning lane. "It’s beef."
"Meat, I can eat meat."
He let her guide him through the ordering process. They were brought bread and oil for dipping and he followed her lead.
"What are you thinking about? You’ve been so quiet." She had to ask him.
"Earth is not what I thought it would be. I thought it a polluted planet with warlike peoples driven by greed, lust and hate."
"I’m sure some of that is true. We have polluted the water and the air and the soil but we try to contain that and try and correct what past generations have done out of ignorance. There are wars going on right now in different parts of the world. They fight over land, religion, intolerance."
"These things do not touch Thaine. He lives in peace and harmony with his surroundings."
"Most of us do. We are a civilized people in this part of the world. That’s not to say that there isn’t crime because there is. It’s not perfect but it’s what we have and what we know."
"In my world we turned our energy into improving ourselves. Illness is practically nonexistent. If it does occur it is usually the result of an injury. There is little crime because we are all equal."
"But you’re a king. Do you think you’re on the same level as everyone else?"
"I think I am but of course I am not. The well being of our people will depend on me, on the decisions I make. It will fall on me to make the laws and uphold them. The protection of our planet…it is a heavy burden. Being king is not an enviable position."
"No, I wouldn’t think it would be."
"I had hoped Thaine would stand with me but I see that is not possible now."
"Is it lonely at the top?"
He looked at her for a moment trying to translate what she meant. "Yes."
Her hand was lying on the table with her fingers inches from his. She stretched her fingers out and lightly touched his fingers. He didn’t move nor did his eyes leave her even when the waiter arrived and placed their food on the table.
"You’d better eat. I’m not cooking when we get back to the house."
The smile in his eyes did not reach his lips. He ate his dinner in silence.
Anne thought about what Thaine had told her of Cregan. She got the idea that he wasn’t loved by his mate. She couldn’t imagine such a thing. How could you not…but she wouldn’t let herself go there. He would be leaving soon, he said. Other fragments of the day’s conversation ran through her mind. ‘Copulating like animals…that’s what passes for sex…mated for life’ and the way Thaine had spoken of love. He didn’t know…Cregan didn’t know. Thaine wanted him to know of that she was certain.
It didn’t concern her…it really didn’t. She kept telling herself that. He’d asked for help finding his brother and she’d led him right to him. Her responsibility was finished. Every time she glanced up at him he was looking back. What did he want from hernow? Did he want to know?
He wanted a lot from her but could not ask. Would not ask. It would be better if he did not. He knew it would change him and he didn’t know what that would mean for him. He did not want to become an Earth-human…not with what he had before him. He needed to remain strong and…pure. He was struggling with his desire to know and the sure knowledge that he would never be the same. He thought of Thaine and the easy way he had with his Elizabeth. The touching, the looks that passed between them. The easy way they talked with one another. Thaine of the same blood. It would be too easy for him to fall into Earth and it’s ways.
"Did you enjoy your meal?"
"Yes, my hunger for food is satisfied."
By the time they reached the farmhouse Cregan had decided what he must do. Toby greeted them excitedly and he spent some time with the dog while Anne prepared his dinner. Afterward he walked outside with Toby and to the scorched grass where he’d stepped down.
Inside Anne checked his cloak. She’d spread it over her freezer to dry and there were still a few damp places. She held it to her face and inhaled a different planet. It smelled slightly of herbs and wet fur, of horse and other things she couldn’t identify. She wished she had his powers. Straightening it out on the freezer once again she looked out of the back door. The sun was going down but she could see him with Toby beyond the barn walking along the edge of the paddock.
She ran upstairs to her brother’s room and found his clothes across the back of a chair. She picked up his tunic and inhaled deeply. Something of him would be there. His scent and again the presence of herbs, lavender and bergamot were strong. His pants were made of leather, soft to the touch. She put them back as she’d found them but still she fingered his tunic in the semi darkness of the room. Cregan…she closed her eyes.
He’d come back to change into his own clothes and found her standing in the room where he’d slept holding his tunic. She hadn’t heard him and he stood quietly in the door to see what she was about. But he knew and something turned over inside of him. He moved to her and she turned obviously embarrassed for having been found out. She dropped his tunic when he took her arms and flattened his hands against hers.
It nearly buckled her knees she leaned into him pulling her hands from his she put her arms around his neck and kissed him. He didn’t respond at first. She kissed him again and his lips moved against hers, his arms went around her back pressing her to him in a desire he couldn’t control.
It was going to happen and Anne had no desire to stop it. His touch had sent her nearly to the edge. She wanted to go there and take him with her. She wanted to make love to him. She kissed his face and his neckand ran her hands over his chest and around to his back tucking her fingers in the waistband of his jeans.
"You have to show me." He whispered against her ear.
She took him by the hand and led him to her room. There she kissed him again and guided his hands to her buttons and taught them how to remove her shirt and unhook her bra. She unbuttoned his shirt and he shrugged out of it. His senses took over, the feel of her against this bare chest, the scent of her hair. He could feel her heat for him.
She guided his hands to the button and zipper of her jeans and she stepped out of them. He fumbled with his own and sent them across the floor. Standing naked before each other she looked at him and he looked at her. She pulled him back onto her bed with her moving his hands to her breasts and then down until he could feel her need for him.
She guided him inside of her and instinct as old as time took over. His body responded to her thrust for thrust and he was awash in sensations. He thought he might burst with the sheer joy of it. When the climax came his eyes were wet. Where he’d never cried since he was a child tears formed and fell on her face.
Anne held him tightly and received his kiss. "Cregan, Cregan," she whispered his name against his lips. "I think I love you."
He buried his face in her neck. He could have said the same thing to her. He rolled off of her onto his back and lay there staring into the darkness of the room. Everything he’d ever been taught was a lie. He knew it now. He knew how it should be between a man and a woman. She lay her head on his chest and he weaved his hand into her hair. She rested her hand on his belly and before long he wanted her again…and again.
They slept off and on during the night but as it neared dawn he sat on the side of the bed.
"I have to go."
"No." she said it before she thought and covered her mouth with her hand. "I know you can’t stay here but…now."
"Yes, it is harder now. "
She rose on her knees and put her arms around his shoulders resting her head on his back."You are loved, Cregan."
He placed a hand on hers, "I know. I feel the same for you. You have taught me much about love. I will never forget it. But it is as I feared. It has changed me. I now question our ways and I will search our ancients to find out the why of it. I thought myself pure and of a higher form of life than the animals around me. The joining we practice will no longer be enough for me." He rose from the bed and turned and looked at her.
"Do you regret it?"
"No. I struggled with it and decided to leave before…but I didn’t. I do not regret you. Thaine was right. I envy him and I can say those words to you and to no one else." He moved to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "There is something…you carry my seed. You are not mated and I think it will cause problems for you. Go to Thaine."
Anne shook her head slightly, "I don’t understand."
"You will bear my child."
Anne trembled for a moment and he pulled her against him. "How do you know it may not be so?"
"I know it is so."
"There isn’t anyone who’d bother about it except my brother. I don’t see him that often. It frightens me a little but you must know, Cregan, that I will love it."
"I do not doubt that, Anne Hendricks." He kissed the top of her head.
"I don’t want you to go."
"I must or they will come to find me. There was some discussion about me coming alone but I insisted. I’m glad I did."
Anne put on her robe and followed him into Jamie’s room to dress. "Is that a uniform of your army?"
He smiled, "Yes, a commander’s uniform."
"I think you look magnificent. You will be a good king, Cregan, you are compassionate and just. I saw that in the way you dealt with Thaine. Your people will love you."
He raised a brow, "I’m not sure I want their love. I require their respect."
"Will I ever see you again?" She held her breath.
He took her face in his hands. "I wish it could be different, Anne, I won’t be back on Earth again. It won’t be possible for me to travel from our planet. " He kissed her. "I won’t forget you."
She bit her lip and felt hereyes beginning to fill.
"The sun is up. I will say goodbye to Toby. Please keep him inside for awhile."
She nodded unable to speak. Downstairs she brought his cloak from the utility room and he fitted it around his shoulders. One last kiss and he left her kitchen and went out into the paddock. She watched from the back door window. It looked as though a blinding ray of sunshine had found him and he was gone.
Four months later Anne was in Cambridge to have an ultrasound done. She was indeed pregnant. Noneof the horror stories of morning sickness had come true for her. The insurance company where she worked on a contract basis had not questioned her condition. Her brother had been down to the farm once since Cregan and she’d told him she was pregnant.
Instead of ranting and raving at her he’d gathered her in his arms and hugged her and said he’d be there for her if she needed him. He’d asked who the father was and she didn’t tell him. She didn’t tell anyone who the father was only that it was someone they didn’t know. Sometimes she hugged herself hardly believing it had all happened.
While she was in Cambridge she decided to go and see Thaine. Cregan had told her to go to him and she wasn’t actually going to him, rather she just wanted to see him. She wanted him to know he was going to be an uncle. She pulled up in front of his townhouse and rang the door bell.
Thaine was upstairs in his bedroom and he moved the curtain slightly to see who was at the door. He’d been having some problems since Elizabeth had left him.
Anne was about to leave when the door opened a little. "Anne."
He was in some disarray with his hair uncombed, pajama pants and a tee shirt. "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you."
"Come in, please."
She came in and looked at him. "Are you ill?"
He shook his head no.
"Well, I don’t mean to disturb you I was just in Cambridge for an ultrasound. I thought I’d drop by with some news."
"Elizabeth…Elizabeth left me. I made a mistake. I should never have told her."
"I’m sorry, Thaine."
"I thought she would understand. I thought if we were to be married she should know. She thinks I’m crazy like everyone else."
"We know that isn’t true, don’t we."
"Part of me is." He turned away and picked up a blanket from the sofa holding it in his arms.
"How long…I mean, when did she leave?"
"A month ago…I think. I don’t know…I’ve lost track of time. Did Cregan go back?"
"Yes, the day after we left here."
"That’s too bad, I might have gone with him now."
"How long have you been like this? Are you working?"
"I haven’t been able to."
"I’m forgetting my manners would you like a drink?"
"Why don’t you let me make some tea." Anne put down her bag and shrugged out of her coat. Her pregnancy wasn’t that noticeable yet unless you knew. She wore a gray shift overa knit top.
He sat down at the kitchen table while she found the kettle and filled it. "I don’t know if you’re up for this, Thaine, but you’re going to be an uncle."
It didn’t register with him. He looked at her frowning.
"I’m going to have Cregan’s child."
His eyes widened. "Cregan…and you?"
"Yes. I’ve just come from the hospital. I’m going to have a son."
"That’s wonderful. Does he know?"
"He knew before he left. I don’t know how but he did. Everything is going well with the baby and I’m healthy so there shouldn’t be any problems."
"I’m glad that you and he…he needed to know. He won’t be back, you know. He won’t be able to leave Akronto now that he’s king."
"I know, he told me. You told Elizabeth you were from Akronto?"
"I did, yes, I did. She thinks it’s part of my illness and it was more than she could handle. I wasn’t expecting her to react as she did."
"If you aren’t working right now, why don’t you come out to the country with me for awhile. It might do you good to get away."
"You don’t need me and my problems on top of Cregan’s baby."
"You’re very wrong there, Thaine. I do need you. This little baby is going to need you too."
Anne made his tea and set a cup before him. He’d been quietly thinking. He caught her hand.
" I’m going to ask you something and you don’t have to answer right away. You will need to think about it. But it seems to me that the only sensible thing for both of us is to be married. The child will need a name since you are not mated. You and I know things that others will never know or accept. I do believe that Cregan would approve. He would not want you left on your own to bring up his child. I do realize, of course, that I am half crazy. I don’t know if you can accept that and live with it. I take medication and am not a threat to you or to anyone else. I find you very attractive, Anne Hendricks."
Anne laughed a little, "If that isn’t the…no one has ever asked me to marry them before. I find you attractive too, Thaine. I will think about it…seriously, I will. If this child is born with Cregan’s abilities it might be easier to explain if you were down as his father."
"I will take that responsibility whether you decide to marry me or not."
"Come out to the farm with me?"
"I will come out to the farm with you."
Thaine stayed with her for a month and during that time they became well acquainted. Anne finally accepted his proposal of marriage and they were married quietly in the chapel of her parent’s church. Thaine went back to work, spending his weekdays in Cambridge and Anne would pick him up on Friday afternoon and bring him out to the farm.
Thaine fell in love with Anne. She was someone he could be himself around. She understood him and knew all there was to know about his past and his origins. Anne liked Thaine from the first time she met him and that feeling had deepened into love. He would be father to Cregan’s child.