Starspire

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Epilogue

Epilogue

A few months later

Matt looked up as Tyson entered, carrying a backpack full of text books. “How was school, Ty?” he called. “Have fun at drama club?”

“It was creative writing group today. They said I had some great ideas.”

That, Matt could imagine. If he could put half the crazy things in his mind on paper, he’d have a memorable book on his hands. Tyson dropped his backpack in the entryway and ran up to his room.

A knock sounded at the door, and Matt rose to answer it. On their porch lay a package about the size of a comprehensive dictionary. Matt bent down and retrieved the package, wondering who might have sent it. It was nowhere near Christmas, no one had a birthday soon, and he didn’t think that either of them had bought anything online.

He sat down on the couch and studied the address. “Alec? Alec King…” Suddenly the realization hit him. “Dad, Tyson! You’ll want to come and see this.”

His dad joined him. “What is it, son? Is Tyson finally done with his painting?”

Matt shrugged. “Not that I know of. I think he’s up there writing now. Or reading one of those dozens of books you bought for him. Anyway, take a look at this. It’s a package from Alec King.”

“The pilot? Open it!”

“I want to wait for Tyson. I already called for him.”

Tyson appeared only seconds later on the stairs, wearing an artist’s smock, his fingers speckled with bright-colored paint.

“You called?’

Matt nodded. “We just got a package that we thought you’d like to see. Remember that pilot we told you about? It’s from him.”

Tyson grinned and bounded over to the sink to wash off the paint. “Go ahead and open it. I’ll just scrub my hands.”

Using his car keys, Matt opened the box, revealing a thick leather binder containing dozens of plastic sheets. On the front, a miniature tower that looked like a rook on a chessboard was traced in gold with the title right beneath. “Our Trip to the Tower” by Alec King.

Matt joined his dad on the couch and Neil turned to the first page. The first sleeve contained a long note in slightly shaky handwriting.

Dear Neil, Matt and Tyson,

I was scoping out that crazy house of Mad Meraj’s when I heard the voice. It told me that the Tower was going to dissolve and that I could take one thing with me. Naturally, I focused on my camera, and what do you know? A few minutes later I found myself in a field still clutching it. All the pictures were intact. I think you will agree that I captured some remarkable shots. Now, I can’t sell them, because nobody else would believe them, but I didn’t want them to go to waste. So, I figured I would put them together in an album and send them to you. After you left, I found ways to visit all of the lower floors of the Tower and have included shots of those as well. I even finally got around the whirlwind and visited a few of the upper floors you must have passed through. I thought the giant clock was especially picturesque.

Though it was an incredible place, I didn’t want to stay there forever, so thank you for following through and waking up Tyson. If you see Bahati, tell her thanks for me too. It was a truly remarkable flight, and you all were the best wingmen a man could ask for.

-Alec King-

With barely contained excitement, Matt flipped to the next page. “Hey, that’s the carnival!” Neil said, pointing to a picture. “That’s the new and improved nacho stand, the hall of mirrors tent, and even that crazy strength game we had to play.”

They leafed through a few more pages. “And that’s the candy jungle,” cried Matt. “He even has a picture of that flower you thought was white chocolate.”

They continued through as a family, pointing and laughing, recounting story after story as they moved through the book. It contained stunning shots of the hot air balloons, the pyramid in the jungle, and dozens of the incredible fantasy world with the whirlwind. The book ended with a series of shots showing the giant cuckoo clock from various angles, making it look much friendlier than they remembered it.

At last, they reached the final page, and reluctantly closed the binder. They all remained silent for a long minute, lost in thoughts.

“So, Matt, dad, that really did happen? That thing really wanted me to become a Starformer like him?”

“Yeah,” Matt said. “But we told him that we needed you more.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” said Tyson. “But I can’t help wonder sometimes what it would be like to be an alien floating around to all sorts of different worlds making stuff.”

“I wonder if that’s what Bahati’s doing right now,” his dad said. “I realize it seems like we’ve always tried to hold you back. We just wanted you to be safe. We’re so sorry. I think it’s time we all moved on. That’s why I’m going on a date tonight.”

Tyson’s eyes widened. “Whoa, is she hot?”

“Yep,” said his dad. “And I think she’ll be impressed when I show up in actual shining armor.”

They all shared a good laugh. “Sir Neil!” cried Tyson. “Too bad we don’t have a white car to be your steed.”

His dad nodded. “I really should look into that. With all the strange stuff that happened around you, Tyson, I’ve always been worried about actually bringing someone new into my life. I figured she wouldn’t understand, not to mention what happened to your mother. I just couldn’t risk it.”

They all nodded and Tyson’s eyes wandered towards the stairs. “So do you want to see the painting I’m working on? I’m just about to put on the finishing touches, so maybe you can be there to see me finish it.”

“Lead the way,” said Matt.

Tyson took the lead, and his family followed him into his bedroom, eager to see what Tyson had created next.

Somewhere in the Milky Way

Bahati stared down at the planet that she once called home. Her mentor floated beside her, also taking in the beauty of the planet below. Bahati’s body had taken on a transparent quality and sparkled with starlight.

“We must go, Bahati. There are things that you cannot learn here.”

Bahati felt herself darken. “Will I be able to return?”

“That will be your choice. When I am gone, you may travel the stars as you see fit.”

“May I ask you a difficult question?”

“Yes,” replied her mentor. “Those are often the questions most worth asking.”

Bahati floated towards the moon, gathering her thoughts.

“Will I ever see my father again? When I fully assume your form, is there some place that I can travel, some corner of the cosmos I can search to find him?”

The Starformer hovered in front of Bahati and fixed her with his emerald eyes. Bahati held her breath in anticipation of the answer.

“Bahati, there are more worlds in which to live than the one that meets your mortal eyes. Your father is not in this finite world. He has moved on to a much greater place. I have almost finished my work and will meet him there soon. If you do the same, you will also be granted the chance to see him again.”

Bahati nodded, feeling comforting warmth spreading throughout her body. “Thank you, great teacher. I will look forward to the day when I may follow you both.”

The ancient Starformer turned and gazed into the brilliant star field. “Now, young one, we must go. We must use the time wisely that I have left to give.”

Bahati gazed out at the dizzying array of lights, chasing the blackness with their brilliant warmth.

“Where are we going, master?”

“To the stars, Bahati. To the stars.”

THE END

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