Gibber and Bajool
~ Chapter 2 ~
‘Gibber and Bajool’
Doctor Hudson clambered out of the van and Aiden followed, glancing suspiciously at an old tin door a few metres away.
“Come along boy,” Doctor Hudson cheered, “it’s all in here.” Aiden, just a step behind, was still wondering if he was going to wake up soon and realise this was just a weird dream.
They entered a plush reception area. There was no one in sight. Doctor Hudson strode towards a secure looking door.
“Hudson here!” he announced, into a small speaker. The door clicked and he turned to Aiden. “Remember, they look odd but they are intelligent and friendly – just be yourself.”
Aiden took a deep breath, braced himself and followed Doctor Hudson through the door.
Expecting to see a room with sophisticated equipment and lights flashing, he was surprised to find a plain, dull run-down room with no equipment, little furniture and two unusual creatures. He gave a nervous smile as their eyes met his. Doctor Hudson placed a hand on his shoulder and with a brief, polite, lowering of his head towards the beings, he motioned with his hand from one to the next.
“Bajool and Gibber, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Aiden Dempster.”
Bajool raised himself from a small wooden stool and nodded politely. He towered over everyone. Not sure what to do, Aiden returned the nod. Two small ears stuck out like handles on Bajool’s large head. His skin, smooth and grey, sprouted wisps of long, white hair. Although he was little more than skin and bone, he had the presence of royalty. Aiden couldn’t fathom how Bajool didn’t topple over with his overly large head perched on top of his matchstick-thin frame. The only clothing he wore was a large brown poncho that hung down to his knees. It appeared to be little more than an old sack. Aiden had imagined aliens to be short, like Gibber, but Bajool would have had to duck just to enter a room.
Without getting out of the beanbag, Gibber also bowed his head towards Aiden but did not speak. Aiden returned the gesture. He found himself immediately drawn to Gibber. The tension he had felt melted away. Gibber was odd looking, lounging on a red beanbag and slurping something from a large disposable drink cup resting on his big belly. He was like nothing Aiden could have imagined. He had a large mole-like head and was hairless, with a short snout. small pointy ears and big green eyes. His child-like head looked out of place on his squat leathery body.
“Aiden, it is a pleasure to meet you,” said Bajool.
Aiden had not given any consideration to how these beings might speak, but if he had thought about it he knew he would not have expected this. Bajool’s voice was smooth, with a powerful yet friendly tone. Aiden was captivated. Bajool’s grey eyes had clouds, which slowly swirled around like whirlpools. They reminded Aiden of his dog Misty’s eyes when she had lost her sight.
“Thanks,” said Aiden, not knowing how he should reply.
Raising a long gangly arm Bajool pointed to some chairs, “Please, sit.”
Sitting in an old outdoor plastic chair, Aiden noticed the room was not only plain but also badly lit and small. The floor had a cheap, stained grey carpet that did not look like it had seen a vacuum in years. It did not seem to be an appropriate setting in which to meet intelligent life from outer space.
He noticed Gibber looking at him intently, bending his head from left to right, his huge eyes blinking. It struck Aiden that Gibber may think humans looked strange.
“Would you like a milkshake?” Gibber asked Aiden in a high child-like voice, nothing like the sophisticated and powerful voice of Bajool.
“Ah, no thanks,” said Aiden quickly.
“I will have tea thank you Gibbergunah,” said Bajool.
“Just water, please,” Doctor Hudson replied.
None too elegantly, Gibber rolled out of the beanbag. The jade coloured, pleated garment that hung from his waist to his knees billowed as his stubby legs waddled to the door. Aiden quickly moved his feet so Gibber’s thick tail did not hit them.
“I haven’t told him much,” said Doctor Hudson to Bajool, “I thought that would be best left to you.”
“Thank you, Peter,” said Bajool, as he turned to Aiden. “You must have many questions. I will try to answer some of them now.” Aiden listened intently as Bajool spoke, marvelling at his voice. “You have rare gifts within you of which I suspect you are already aware. We wish to help you unlock those gifts.
“We come from distant planets in this galaxy – the Milky Way, as you call it. Gibbergunah comes from the planet Jundell and I from the planet Palana. We represent two of the seven planets that form the Galactic Alliance, which oversees this galaxy, ensuring peace and the sharing of knowledge. At the centre of our galaxy there were originally five blue-violet stars, each a thousand times bigger than your sun. Over the ages, four have imploded. Only one remains now - the Source.
“All stars produce solar winds that send waves of charged particles into space. Blue-violet stars, such as the Source, produce highly charged particles that travel to the ends of the galaxy. These particles are everywhere and for a few of us, interact with our genes to heighten certain abilities – powers, if you like.
“When the fourth blue-violet star imploded, a large concentration of solar winds soared throughout the galaxy. These winds reached Earth around fifteen years ago... eight months before you were born. They have interacted with your genes to release great gifts.”
Aiden tried to comprehend that he was sitting across from an alien who was talking to him about powers. Words tumbled out, “That means there must be lots of others with these gifts as well?”
“Not many,” said Bajool, showing no concern at the interruption. “Only a few had the right genetic makeup for this to have affected them measurably.”
“But I don’t feel I have anything really special.”
“We will give you a glimpse of your powers soon,” said Bajool, his big round eyes twinkling with understanding.
“Does everyone on your planet have these powers?”
“No, they are rare - even on Palana. No one on Jundell, Gibbergunah’s planet, has powers. The closer a planet is to a blue-violet star the stronger the concentration of the highly charged particles, and for those with any natural powers, the more they will be activated. Earth is an outer planet in the galaxy, so the solar winds that reach here are usually weak. The death of a blue-violet star is a rare event. You are one of only a few on Earth to benefit from the death of this star.”
Bajool continued talking about the Alliance and the amazing properties and life cycles of blue-violet stars, while Aiden grappled with what he was sure was the most realistic dream he had ever had.
They turned as Gibber entered the room, his tail slamming into the door.
“There you are Gibbergunah,” said Bajool. A wave of happiness passed through Aiden as Gibber entered; he didn’t know why.
Gibber passed a glass of water to Doctor Hudson, tea to Bajool, and, to Aiden’s surprise handed him a milkshake. He accepted the milkshake carefully, staring cautiously at the three long but solid claw-like fingers.
“Thanks.” Aiden smiled.
“It is chocolate,” Gibber whispered gleefully before waddling back to the beanbag with his tail sweeping the floor dangerously behind him.
Bajool swallowed his cup of tea in a single gulp. “I must take some tea home,” he said admiring the cup. “Now, about these natural powers. We do not know the strength of your powers, or which ones you possess. We only know you have been born with abilities. We can do a number of simple tests now in the energy chamber.”
“I’m game,” said Aiden standing up.
“I take it that is yes?” said Bajool, also standing up.
“Sorry – I mean, yes!”
They left through the door that Gibber had used to get the drinks. A vast warehouse with rows of large steel drums against a far wall and one small solitary spaceship appeared before Aiden. It resembled a short, fat funnel with a dome on top; a ramp that doubled as a door faced them. There were no windows.
“Gibber and I will wait here; there isn’t enough room in the energy chamber for all of us,” said Doctor Hudson.
Aiden forgot to answer as he stood gazing at the spaceship. Bajool’s cloth-covered feet walked up the ramp soundlessly and Aiden hurried to catch up. He moved to the middle of the circular room and slowly turned around. I’m in a spaceship! On the right were three stools on a semicircular track on the floor. They didn’t look comfortable. In front of the track were control panels with lights and buttons. Overhead there was a plain panelled ceiling. The wall panel in front of Bajool made a swishing sound as it slid open, revealing a small room.
“This is the energy chamber.”
Two stools with a small table between them filled the room. Aiden sat on the stool across from Bajool, his eyes sweeping around the chamber in amazement. There was certainly not enough room for Doctor Hudson. The sliding doors swished closed.
Bajool smiled, flashing his small, white, rounded teeth. “Aiden, there are a number of natural powers you may have. This chamber will help detect some of them. It will expose you to a high concentration of charged particles, which will temporarily enhance your powers. When we leave the energy chamber your powers will return to their usual levels, although your actual abilities should be higher than before as your body will now have memory of them.”
“Why can’t it detect all powers?” asked Aiden, sitting on the edge of the stool.
“Most powers can only be realised after intense training. They involve being able to focus without distraction and to draw upon the energy within and around you.”
Aiden turned quickly as a padded bench top flipped down from the wall behind him.
“Please lie down. We need to clear your mind so you will be able to focus.”
He lay tensed on the well-padded bench with his pulse racing. After a long period of deep breathing, during which he had to focus on the rise and fall of his chest, Bajool placed his hand on Aiden’s forehead. His hand was soft and warm and Aiden could hear a faint, rhythmic beat. He could not detect where it was coming from. Bajool began to hum, and a strange calmness washed over him. He only stirred from his hypnotic-like trance at the sound of Bajool’s voice.
“You are ready.”
His body was totally relaxed. With some effort, he raised himself from the bench and back onto the stool. He had no idea how long he had been lying there.
Bajool reached into a small compartment, pulled out a rock the size of a fist and placed it on the table between them. “Tell me about the rock.”
The rock did not look remarkable. Aiden picked it up and turned it slowly in his hands. “It’s light... bronze coloured... with jagged edges,” he said holding it right up to his eyes. “It has a lot of small holes in it. It’s not from Earth, is it?”
“No, it is not.”
Not sure what this was proving, Aiden put the rock down. Bajool pressed a few buttons to his right and a circular device above Aiden’s head started to spin and hum.
“This will not hurt - it will help boost your powers. Are you ready?”
“I guess so,” said Aiden, glancing up at the circular device that was now spinning faster and starting to light up. He closed his eyes as a warm glow from deep inside him slowly spread, pulsing through his body until it reached his fingers and toes. After a few seconds, Bajool gently touched him on the arm.
“How do you feel?”
Reluctantly Aiden pulled himself out of the experience and opened his eyes. His whole body was buzzing, and he had a heightened awareness of everything around him. “I feel... brilliant!”
“Let us begin. Tell me about the rock.”
Picking up the rock again, Aiden thought there was not much more he could say. He held it and almost instantly saw an image of Bajool holding the rock - only the rock was smooth and solid. Bajool tossed the rock high in the air. He raised his arm and a blast of light shot from his palm, engulfing the rock in a bright orange light. The light disappeared as quickly as it had come and Bajool caught the rock as it fell. The rock now had jagged edges and small holes in it.
He opened his eyes. He could not believe it. This was not a dream – it was real. He blurted out what he had seen.
“You have second sight,” said Bajool matter-of-factly. He placed the rock back in the compartment, pulled out a box with four holes in it and placed it on the table. “There are four compartments. One contains a chocolate and the other three contain beetles from Palana. If you place your hand in a compartment with a beetle in it, you will receive a nasty bite. I have not fed them for a few days. Select the chocolate!”
Aiden thought Bajool can’t be serious. A beetle will bite him if he gets it wrong! Does Doctor Hudson know what these tests involve! Cautiously Aiden bent over the box and peered in. He could see nothing in any of the holes but an impenetrable blackness. He looked up at Bajool, who stared expressionlessly back at him. Aiden took a deep breath and turned back to the box and closed his eyes. He placed his hand over each hole, one at a time trying to sense the chocolate, without any success. Not to be discouraged he tried again, this time trying to sense the beetles. Over the first two holes a twang of fear passed through him and on the third - nothing. Without checking the fourth, he placed his hand in the third hole and pulled out a chocolate.
“Good, you can sense danger,” said Bajool.
Aiden smiled. This was amazing.
As he ate the chocolate, Bajool took the box off the table and replaced it with a mouse lying on a wad of tissues. It was twitching. “What’s wrong with the mouse?” asked Bajool.
Aiden was not used to feeling sorry for a mouse, but he did for this one. He moved his hand slowly over to the mouse and picked it up. Closing his eyes, he saw an image of it scurrying along the warehouse floor. Next, he saw a football bouncing towards the mouse with Gibber bounding along behind it. He thought he saw a fleeting glimpse of the black cat, Shadow, off to the side, but then in horror, Aiden watched as Gibber lunged forward, trapping the ball while simultaneously and unknowingly stepping on the mouse. The images stopped. With his eyes still closed, he tried again to sense the mouse. His hands could feel the mouse’s shallow breathing so he concentrated on this. He thought he could sense blood swimming around inside. It felt like the mouse was close to death.
“Gibber trod on him,” Aiden blurted out. “And now he’s bleeding inside and struggling to breathe. Can you help?”
“Yes, Gibbergunah accidentally trod on him just before you arrived.” Bajool took the mouse from Aiden. He placed his hands over the mouse, bathing it in a faint yellow light. The minutes passed. Aiden studied Bajool’s kind, expressionless face. It was a picture of concentration. The mouse twitched, rolled over and slowly stood. The light from Bajool’s hands stopped. The mouse looked around nervously. Bajool carefully removed it from the table.
A thought hit Aiden. “Bajool, could you heal my brother Drew?”
“Sorry Aiden, Peter has informed me of his condition. I have limited healing powers and this far from the Source I can only deal with minor injuries. Healing is a rare power, but I believe you may be one of the few to have it. Perhaps stronger than my own.”
Aiden sat stunned. Could he heal Drew? Could this be the way he redeems himself – partially at least?
“Could you teach me to heal?”
“Yes, that and other powers. There are many powers we cannot detect today.”
Aiden remembered to breathe. His eyes glistened. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve. “What other powers are there?”
“You ask a lot of questions.”
“Do not be sorry; you will only learn by asking questions or by making mistakes. Asking a question is often the easier path. Those of us with trained powers are called magwans. There are very few magwans in the galaxy.
“As you saw with the rock, there is the ability to send pulses of energy. These can be small pulses, like the one you saw, or powerful ones, which can reduce an object to atoms. Some powers, such as energy pulses, are common to all magwans. Other common powers include creating illusions or energy shields, and then there is astral travel, telepathy, the power of thought transference, mind delving and truth telling. All magwans also have some level of sensing the past and danger. But the more complex powers like healing, and the many levels of sensing the future and present are gifted upon only a few magwans. Some magwans may have none of the higher powers whilst others can have several.”
“Does anyone have all the powers?”
“There was a magwan a long time ago, called Raglan, who was said to be the greatest magwan in the history of the galaxy. He was a master of all powers. It takes many years of training to become a magwan - even when you do have the right genes. It is a journey. A journey I would like to take you on.”
“Brilliant!” Aiden spluttered.
“We shall stop now and talk to Peter,” said Bajool, pressing a few more buttons. The device above Aiden’s head slowly stopped spinning and disappeared. The sliding doors opened and Aiden took one more look around the room, taking it all in, before he followed Bajool out.
Doctor Hudson and Gibber hurried out of a small office and met them at the base of the ramp. “I thought you were never going to come out. How did he go?” asked Doctor Hudson.
“He went well,” said Bajool.
Aiden glanced down at his Personal Digital Companion. It was now two-thirty. Had he been in the chamber that long?
“You must be hungry, Aiden,” said Doctor Hudson. “I have a pie and a soft drink for you.”
“Thanks,” said Aiden, taking them both, only now feeling his stomach growling for food.
As Aiden made short work of the pie and the drink, he noticed Gibber’s football just a few metres away.
“Come on in, Aiden, we need to talk about your future,” said Doctor Hudson.
They strolled to the office and sat down at an old kitchen table. The office turned out to be more of a tearoom with a kitchenette and magazines on the table.
“Aiden,” started Bajool, “as I explained, the energy chamber gives you just a glimpse of the powers you have. It does not show all of the powers or even the true extent of them. To do this we need to be closer to the Source.”
“Bajool tells me,” interrupted Doctor Hudson, “that you have some talents... can you imagine what it would be like to train with Bajool to develop these?”
“That would be awesome,” said Aiden.
“It would necessitate fulltime training and involve an eight month commitment – you would be compensated of course,” Doctor Hudson continued.
“You would pay me to do this?” said Aiden, thinking he must have misheard.
“Yes and quite well. It is important that Earth develops close ties with the Alliance. The governments of the west have combined their efforts on this. The medical and technological opportunities are enormous. The testing and development of your powers will lead to new understandings of what it means to be human... though there is one catch,” Doctor Hudson confessed. “It will mean leaving Earth and travelling towards the Source.”
“Oh,” said Aiden, his euphoria evaporating. “Is there anyway we can do it here?” he said pleadingly, looking from Doctor Hudson to Bajool.
“No,” said Bajool apologetically. “We need to move closer to the Source.”
“I thought you would be jumping for joy,” said Doctor Hudson dramatically, waving his arms, “travelling in a spaceship, visiting new planets, exploring new powers. If you’re worried about your school work, don’t! We can arrange for lessons while you train.”
“It’s not the school work, it’s my brother - he’s sick and I don’t think I can leave him.”
“Hmm... of course... I should have realised... I have contacts,” muttered Doctor Hudson. “I will see if there is anything we can do to help your brother - I cannot promise anything. But at the very least I can ensure he has access to the best specialists.”
Aiden’s spirits lifted. “Thanks, thanks a lot.”
“Aiden,” said Doctor Hudson firmly, looking directly into Aiden’s eyes, “while I will do everything within my power to help your brother I cannot guarantee any cure. I need you to consider this once in a lifetime opportunity and let us know on Monday. I would be there as your guardian with another doctor, and there will be three other fifteen year olds as well. So you won’t be alone. Eight months will go faster than you think.”
Aiden recalled the presence he felt last night watching him from space. It wasn’t just coincidence. The threat was real, he was sure of it. He was also sure Bajool and Gibber meant him no harm. But what else was out there?
“I do want to do it,” he said, looking from Doctor Hudson to both Bajool and Gibber, “but Drew needs me. I can’t just leave him.”
“Aiden,” said Bajool capturing Aiden’s complete attention, “You must make your own decisions. We each have a journey we must make. You need to determine if this is part of your journey.”
“Do come,” Gibber begged, his big green eyes and long lashes looking imploringly at Aiden.
“We had best be going lad,” said Doctor Hudson, looking at his watch.
Aiden said his goodbyes and dragged himself back to the van. He sat silent and confused for most of the trip back home. Doctor Hudson spent the time talking about the wonders of space, how fulfilling the experience would be to travel deep into space and learn from Bajool. Aiden at least knew what Doctor Hudson thought he should do. But the more he thought about it the harder it was to make a decision. Eight months was a long time to be away and there was no guarantee when he returned that he could heal Drew. If he returned, he reminded himself, thinking about the presence that he was sure lay lurking out there in space.
“I’ll come in and speak with your Aunt,” said Doctor Hudson.
“Thanks,” said Aiden, relieved he would not have to do this alone. He did not know how he could explain today to Aunt Del and Drew. They would think he was mad.
* * *