Six years later…
Steve was seventeen years old, and Emily was twelve. Larry nor Martha haven’t made any changes to the house in six years, except for one thing, they turned their basement into a bedroom. That’s because Larry’s father, Frank got kicked out of the only retirement home in town. So, Larry took him in.
In the meantime, Steve was only four months away from graduating high school. So he decided to get a part-time job, although his father disapproved.
“Steve can’t get a job,” Larry said.
“Why not?” Martha asked.
“He can’t do the simplest things. Also, he needs to get a shave. That’s why Steve can’t a job. We have to dictate every aspect of Steve’s life, just so he can achieve mediocrity. But guess what, Steve doesn’t listen to us.”
“Steve is seventeen and he’ll be eighteen in a month. Stop treating him like a child.”
“I’ll stop treating him like a child as soon as he acts his age.”
“Steve is getting an after school job so he can save up for college. That’s pretty grown up, don’t you think?”
“But he won’t be able to keep a job.”
“How do you know that? Why don’t you give our son a chance?”
“Why do you treat Steve so harshly? You’re always yelling at Steve, intimidating him, and insulting him.”
“Well excuse me. When Steve goes out into the real world, everybody he’ll ever meet will treat him 10 times worse. I’m only preparing him for the real world.”
“Will you listen to yourself? You sound crazy.”
“Hey, that’s an insult to the mentally ill.”
“You’re right, it is. Anyway, you treat Steve rather harshly and you ignore Emily.
“I don’t ignore Emily.”
“When was the last time you talked to her?”
“You’re being foolish. I’m going to sleep.”
Meanwhile, Emily was already asleep. She had a dream where she saw a tall girl towering over her. The girl had long, strawberry blonde hair. She grabbed Emily by the shirt. When Emily woke up, she couldn’t remember the girl’s face.
The next night, Emily had a dream where she saw the tall girl again. She wore the same clothes in both dreams. The girl was pushing Emily around.
The next day, Emily told her friend, Jenny about the dream.
“Sounds like you’re dreaming about Carrie,” Jenny said.
“Make sense,” Emily said. “But why does she always pick on me? And how come I can never see her face in my dreams?”
“I don’t know and I don’t know. Pick on her back.”
“She’s not here today, is she?”
Later on that day, Steve landed a job stocking shelves at a local supermarket. His supervisor, John Wendell walked up to him and he said, “Steve, I would like to give you a tip. Not only do you need to do things fast around here, you need to do them right. If you can’t do both, you’ll never get anywhere in life. I’m not trying to make you feel bad, I’m trying to help you by being honest.”
Despite John’s harsh words, Steve tried his best to go about his day. But during his lunch break, Steve stormed into the lunch room, grabbed his lunch out of the refrigerator, and he slammed it to the table. All the while, a girl with long brown hair sat next to him. Shelly was the name that was on the name tag.
“Was John being an asshole?” Shelly asked.
“Yup,” Steve said.
“He’s an asshole to everybody.”
“He shouldn’t be able to get away with it.”
Steve looked at Shelly with curiosity in his eyes.
“Don’t we go to the same school?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, I’ve seen you around,” Shelly said. “Both you and my brother write for the school newspaper. My brother’s Michael.”
“Awesome. I like his short stories. I really liked his story about that kid who meets his future self.”
“Michael based one of his characters on a childhood friend of his. She became his girlfriend, but she moved away.”
“Anyway, I got to get back to work.”
Toward the end of Steve’s shift, a woman approached him.
“Excuse me,” the woman said. “I’m looking for John Wendell.”
“Sure, follow me,” Steve said as he brought the woman to John’s office. “I’m Steve, by the way.”
“Hi, I’m Angel. It’s nice to meet you.”
Steve knocked on John’s office door as soon as he and Angel arrived.
“Hey Jerk!” Steve said as he slowly opened the door. “Somebody actually wants to see you.” But John wasn’t there.
“He must have gone home early,” Steve said. “He’s in his office, like, 99% of the time.”
“That’s not good,” Angel said. “John Wendell is a wanted man. He helped a patient at the Waterford Mental Hospital escape.”
Angel pulled out a photo from her purse.
“The patient’s name is Monica Bernard,” Angel said.
Monica Bernard, Steve’s aunt.
“Who are you?” Steve asked.
“I’m working undercover,” Angel said. “That’s all you need to know.”
While Steve was working, Larry had to deal with his father.
“Well, this living room looks pretty clean,” Frank said. “That can only mean one thing, Martha did it all.”
“Watch your mouth, Dad,” Larry said.
“I’m your father. You show me respect, Buddy Boy. And get a shave. You look like a terrorist.”
Frank told Larry to get a shave, even though Larry didn’t have a single strand a facial hair on him, while Frank had a long thick beard.”
“I’m 38 years old, Dad!” Larry said. “Quit telling me what to do!”
“What’s going on here?” Martha asked as she walked down the stairs.
“Your husband won’t listen to me,” Frank said
A knock on the door interrupted the conversation.
“I’ll get it,” Martha said. When Martha answered the door, she saw Monica, standing on the porch.
“Hello, Sis!” Monica said.
“Monica, what are you doing here?” Martha asked.
“I just want to talk. You put me in the mental hospital.”
“I had no choice. You needed help.”
Some time ago, Monica came over to Martha’s house for a visit.
“When are you and John getting married?” Martha asked.
“Will you stop asking me that?” Monica asked.
here’s a question, how have you’ve been able to afford to travel the
world for all of these years? Or those years. Whichever one is grammatically correct.”
“John’s into the stock market. Anyway, I have something to tell you. It turns out that I was right. Oberon is a real planet, and we’re from there. John is from there too. He told me years ago, and I’ve kept it a secret, ever since.”
“Why are you telling me this now?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’ve been feeling guilty.”
“Planet Oberon doesn’t exist and you still think it does. I had no choice.”
“That’s funny. Our mental hospitals will turn away people who are suicidal, but they’ll evaluate somebody who’s from another planet.”
Monica slowly walked toward Martha with a crazed look in her eyes.
“Larry, help me!” Martha yelled.”
“Well, excuse me, Princess,” Larry said. “It’s not my fault we live in a society where men can’t hit women under any circumstances.”
Monica had her hands on Martha’s throat. But before she could cause any injuries, Frank snuck up behind Monica and he knocked her out with a karate chop to the back of the head.
“Frank, you saved my life,” Martha said. “Thank you.”
Steve interrupted the conversation when he busted into the house.
“Mom! Dad!” Steve said. “Aunt Monica escaped from the mental hospital!”
Steve then noticed Monica on the floor.
“Uh, what happened?” Steve asked.
“I saved your parents’ lives,” Frank said. “Well, I’m moving out.”
“Are you sure?” Larry asked.
“Yes. You have kids of your own. It’s about you stop depending on me. I’ll be out of here in a couple of weeks. Anyway, I’m going for a walk.”
A short while later, Glacier contacted John through an intergalactic communicator. John was sitting in the living room of his apartment. He placed his communicator on the coffee table and it emitted a hologram of Glacier.
“How could you trust that woman?” John asked.
“According to our Intel, she or her sister knows where the reality engine is,” Glacier said.
“But she’s more occupied on petty revenge. I broke her out of the mental hospital to help us, and she tried to kill her sister. Now she’s back in the mental hospital.”
“In that case, we’ll have to wait for her to get out on her own. She’s our best chance we got to find the reality engine. Besides, you’ve known her for years and you still don’t trust her?”
“Not anymore, I don’t.”
“That’s fair. But why do you think you wanted her help for so many years?”
John didn’t answer.
“Is it because you like her?” Glacier asked.
“No,” John said. “We’re just friends.”
“Friends with benefits?”
“No! What’s with these personal questions?”
“I’m just curious. Anyway, I have another plan.”