[Oh, No! I have a French exam today and I didn’t study!]
I might be able to help. Do you know anyone who speaks French well?
[There’s the exchange student from France ... Madeleine.]
Like the book you read when you were seven?
[How did you know that? Oh, yeah, you know everything.]
When you see Madeleine at school this morning, introduce yourself. Hold me in your other hand.
Trust me ...
As soon as Emily arrived at school, she saw Madeleine talking to The Letter Girls. They immediately gave Emily the evil eye, several times over.
“What do you want, weirdo? Piss off,” snarled Heather, The Alpha Bitch of The Letter Girls.
“I just want to meet Madeleine,” Emily said as she reached into her pocket and grasped The Stone.
Madeleine immediately extended her right hand, and in that almost too movie star French-accented English said, “Bonjour, I am ’appy to meet you.” Emily shook it lightly and caught her breath as she felt a rush of energy from the hand in her pocket through to Madeleine and back again. Madeleine got a curious look on her face, as well.
“That was like touching someone who has walked on carpet. Very strange. Nice to meet you ... uh ... Emil-ee, correct?” said Madeleine.
Emily immediately replied casually, “C’est un plaisir de vous rencontrer, Madeleine. J’espère que vous appréciez votre tiome ici à notre lycée.”
Madeleine laughed almost too loud, “Oh, you speak French very well. With a Paris accent, in fact! Very good!”
Letter Girl Bitch #2 Kylie jumped in, “Piss off, Creep. Go back with the other Year Sevens.”
“Don’t be so harsh. She is ’armless,” said Madeleine, though she was obviously amongst her peers.
[What just happened? How did she know my name? How come I can suddenly speak French like I grew up in Paris? I don’t even have to think about it!]
You can assimilate any knowledge or skill from someone simply by making contact with them ... with a little help from moi, n’est-ce pas?
[So, when I take my French exam today, don’t you think Miss Williams will notice just a slight improvement? She’ll think I cheated.]
It is up to you to be judicious as to how much of your special talent you display.
[Dumb it down, you mean?]
You could put it that way.
The next day, Miss Williams stood at the front of the class handing back exams, “Jason ... C ... Emily ... A minus! This is quite a surprise, Emily. I guess you’ve been hitting the books. Keep up the good work.”
“Mercí, Mademoiselle Williams,” said Emily, trying to sound goofy.
Miss Williams continued, “Lidia ... you got a B ... Angus ...”
Vous êtes bienvenu, Emily.
[Hey, I’ve got lacrosse team tryouts right after school today. Can that little trick work for me being better at lacrosse, enough to get me on the team?]
Well, you will gain all of the skills, but I may have to channel a lot of your energy reserves to give you the speed and agility. That kind of muscle development usually takes overnight. You may be very tired and sore after.
[That’s OK ... just get me on the team!]
Directly after school, Emily stood in her gym clothes with the other girls waiting to try out for the girls’ lacrosse team. She had done lacrosse as an after school sport for a couple of years, but wasn’t all that confident. After all, the school lacrosse teams were State champions.
The coach came out and stood in front of the wannabes, followed by the remaining team members and someone special. “OK, girls, we’re looking for five players to replace the members of the team that graduated last year. Any girl in the school is eligible if they can cut the mustard, even newcomers. Members of the varsity team receive a school letter.”
As if Emily would ever want to identify with The Letter Girls, but she did want to make the varsity team.
The coach continued, “Now, we have a special guest today to watch the tryouts ... maybe she’ll inspire you all a bit ... an old girl from our school ... but not all that old ... and a member of the National Women’s Lacrosse Team, Gloria Swan.”
All of the girls applauded. Everyone knew about Gloria Swan, who went to the school around five years before.
Go up and shake her hand.
[Are you kidding? Look at the mob around her.]
You want to be on the team, don’t you?
Emily approached Gloria Swan and put her hand on The Stone in her pocket, but one of The Letter Girls on the varsity lacrosse team stepped in her way. “What do you want, you flat-chested little twat?”
“I’m tying out for the team,” Emily said. “I’m sorry if you have a problem with that.”
“You bet I do. What have you got in your pocket?” The girl grabbed at Emily’s hand in the pocket of her shorts. As she touched Emily’s wrist, the girl’s legs suddenly flipped out from under her and she went down hard on her butt. Everyone jumped back and laughed.
[Did you do that? Thanks]
While The Letter Girl seethed with embarrassment and tried unsuccessfully to regain her feet, Emily edged past and up to Gloria Swan. “Excuse me, Miss Swan? Miss Swan?”
“Gloria, please,” she said graciously, turning to Emily.
“I’ve been a big fan like forever,” gushed Emily, wondering how she could shake Gloria’s hand.
“Always happy to meet an athletic supporter ... that’s a locker room joke. You trying out today?”
Emily saw her opportunity slipping away, “Yeah, I am.”
“Well, good luck,” Gloria said, reaching down and taking Emily’s hand. This time, Emily was ready for the rush of energy. Gloria lightly furrowed her brow, as if trying to remember something. “Your name is Emily, right? I must know that from somewhere.”
Emily backed away, “I guess so. Thanks.”
The Coach called for everyone’s attention, “First off, we’ll put the remaining members of the varsity team on defense of the goal and let the new girls try and get under their guard.”
As soon as Emily had shaken Gloria’s hand, she began to feel her body changing. It was like some kind of strange metamorphosis. She could actually feel her body changing physically to accommodate her new skills, like some werewolf in a horror movie, but hopefully not as obvious.
The new girls took the field. Emily proceeded to score several times against the more seasoned players, dodging, weaving, spinning and feinting, making bounce shots and through the leg shots. She also assisted some of the other girls for scoring shots, as well.
The Coach and Gloria Swan stood in awe of this tall, lanky Seventh Grader. The Coach shook his head and smiled, “This girl kind of reminds me of you at that age.”
Gloria was even more amazed, “No, she damn well reminds me of me now! You’ve got a rising lacrosse star there, Brian. I’d like to have her on the National team.”
When the teams swapped, the challengers still ended up with a better score than the varsity side, thanks to Emily.
It was no surprise when Emily made the lacrosse team, along with four other promising players.
Even The Letter Girls on the team had to admit Emily could cut the mustard, as the coach said. They begrudgingly welcomed her, but took great pains to remind Emily she still wasn’t A Letter Girl. Yet.
The EAU sergeant brought the boy into O-1’s office. “We found him accessing a secure ABACUS terminal again.”
“I needed to do my homework,” stated Sam as if it were bloody obvious.
“You have a computer in the quarters that is just …” His mother rarely got to finish a sentence.
“But it’s too slow! ABACUS is the fastest computer ever built. I’d be finished with my homework before I even started!”
“The most powerful computer on the planet was not constructed to help a 10 year-old genius do his homework. Sam, this is the third time this month you’ve caused a major breach in security and a major embarrassment to me.”
The sergeant felt obliged to defend him. “Really, Ma’am, he’s just a little …”
“No, Sergeant, it’s not your job to baby sit my son, even if this is supposed to be the most secure facility in the world. So, Sammy, what am I going to do with you?”
“I assume that is a rhetorical question, Mother.”
This is too much for the burly sergeant. “Now see here, lad, don’t speak to …”
“Don’t talk to me,” snapped Sam, turning on the massive soldier who towered over him. “You’re not my father. He’s dead. Unless I am sanctioned, you have no authority over me as a civilian on this base other than to escort me back to the civilian levels … silently. Article 12, Section 29.”
Sam turned back to his mother. “So, Mother, am I sanctioned? Is this now a Wet Op? Are you going to have me eliminated?”
“Thank you, Sergeant,” said O-1, saving the soldier any further humiliation at the hands of her brilliant son.
“Ma’am,” said the Sergeant as he offered a crisp salute, did a parade ground about face and left with his dignity in tatters.
“Sammy, please,” begged his mother. “These people work for me … with me … I want their respect and …”
“What about me? What do I get? The odd glimpse of my mother as she swans about in this colossal hole in the ground?
“This could be the most important colossal hole in the ground in the whole world, Sammy.”
“You seriously think we’re going to be invaded by aliens, Mother?”
“No, not like in the Hollywood sense, but they could disrupt our entire way of life if they crash our economies or cause an epidemic of alien influenza. We have to know as soon as they arrive, if not sooner.”
Sam and his mother had walked from her office to an enormous gallery that seemed to stretch on forever. It was lined with what looked like a cross between a museum and a junk-yard. Some of the pieces were enormous.
Sam suddenly realized he was somewhere he had never been. “What is this? Is this The Evidence Room? Way Cool, Mom! Is any of it real?”
His mother glanced around the room, as unimpressed as Sam was excited as he dashed around the exhibits. “No, none of it is real, at least as far as we know. We mainly set this up to impress visiting politicians. Over the past 65 years, as long as The Organization has been in existence, we have collected every scrap of material that was claimed to be alien.”
“Just went in and took stuff?”
“Yes, pretty much. I suppose that heavy handedness has added to the conspiracy theories like Area 51 and Project Bluebook over the years. We’re actually underneath Area 29. Most of this is fake; the rest are just bits that fell off of airplanes or satellites, that kind of thing.”
Sam approached a table covered in a number of crystals and rocks of various shapes and sizes. “Are these supposed to be alien, these rocks?”
“No, Sweetie. People claimed they could speak to aliens through them.”
“Like some New Age Hippy crystal set?”
“Hardy har har, very funny. No, some of those are very old, taken from the ruins of ancient temples.”
Sam picked up an egg shaped crystal and looked at it closely. Then he closed his eyes, extended his arms and said, “Oooooooh … Calling Luke Skywalker … Calling Darth Vader …”
Suddenly, Sam stopped talking and his eyes flew wide open. He stood perfectly still for almost a minute, then gently put the crystal back down on the table.
He quietly walked over to where his mother was reading an urgent document in an ‘Eyes Only’ folder that one of her minions had brought to her. She initialed the document and handed the folder back.
Sam quietly looked up. “I would like to go back to the living areas, Mother. Now.”
“That’s fine, Honey. I’m bushed. Let’s have dinner.”
As Sam and his mother left the Evidence Room, the crystal Sam had held gave a slight glimmer and went dark again. Two other crystals on the table gave a tiny glow and faded to black.