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The Antar Chronicles, Chapter 1: Put Your Hand in the Hand
Reply to Alex Parrish
Posted to the RoswellSlash mailing list June 23, 2004
TITLE: The Antar Chronicles
AUTHOR/E-MAIL: Alex Parrish < firstname.lastname@example.org >
ARCHIVE: Roswell Slash Archive
RATING: X-graphic sex and explicit language
SPOILERS: Sequel to "New Beginnings" found in Roswell Slash Archive -- won't make much sense unless you have read that first.
NOTES/SUMMARY: Picks up at the end of "New Beginnings" and takes the group all the way to Antar with a few detours along the way.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the original ROSWELL characters. They belong to Jason Katims, or to FOX or to UPN or to somebody else -- let them figure it out! Don't bother to sue -- I own nothing you'd want. No infringement intended -- it's just Slash folks...
FEEDBACK: Really, really appreciated
DEDICATION/ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Many, many thanks to tomw for his careful beta-reading and excellent suggestions.
Jim Valenti discreetly slipped his hand to his uniform breast-pocket and felt to see if it was still there in the pocket where he had placed it this morning, and every morning for the last 4 days since it arrived. It was.
When the plain post card came by U.S. Mail, he thought at first it was some kind of cruel joke, but he held onto it since he couldn't imagine who would or even could sent it to him. Of course he knew who the postcard was supposed to be from, but was it? Really? The carefully-made letters could certainly be those of a pre-teen trying very hard to be neat, and the postmark appeared to be a genuine British Columbia postmark, but was it really from Albert Stevens? Had the young mystic actually had a message from Kyle, or was this some kind of cruel wild-goose-chase?
The message itself was just as cryptic. It started with some very precise GPS coordinates and then said, in this order: Come alone. Say my full name and birth-date. Put your hand in the hand. K.
And in the corner, almost as an afterthought was printed -- Albert.
He had been carrying the postcard on his person for the last four days, asking himself, over and over again, whether this could be a genuine message from his son, or if it was a hoax, and if it was a hoax, then by whom? Who knew enough about what had become of his son and the 6 other young people to perpetrate such a real-looking hoax?
Then there was the message itself. GPS coordinates he could understand. He checked them on a highly-detailed map the very first evening, and they identified a place in the desert, outside of Roswell --they could be real. But what was the stuff about saying his son's full name and birth-date, and what the hell did "put your hand in the hand" mean? All he could think of was the Country/Gospel song, "Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the water...," Was he supposed to journey to a desolate part of the desert and then sing? He knew that there were some folks who weren't big fans of his band, the Kit-Shickers, but no one had dared to suggest that the desert was the best place for him to sing.
He lay awake on his bed asking and re-asking himself these questions for three nights now, and skated through the previous days with his speech and actions on 'autopilot' while his brain could think only of the postcard. He told himself that it had taken until the fourth day for him to decide to act upon the instructions, but the moment he recognized the thought, he realized it wasn't true. He had known from the moment he laid eyes on the hand-lettered text that he would follow the instructions exactly. It was never a matter of 'if,' only a question of 'when.' The postcard arrived on Saturday -- today was Tuesday -- and when he found himself alone in his department JEEP, he spoke out loud, "Today. This is it."
He signed out of the office just a little early, mentioning he had some errands to run -- not too early, that might attract someone's attention -- just a little early, little enough early to go unnoticed.
He had mentioned the postcard to no one, not even the parents of the other young-folks, after all, the postcard had explicitly said, "Come alone." Still, he chose an illogical and circuitous route out of Roswell just in case he was being followed. He chuckled to himself and spoke aloud again, "Jim, you're gettin' paranoid in your old age," at the same time he thought, "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're not being followed."
Each of the departmental JEEPs had a hand-held GPS device as part of the standard equipment, so locating the specified spot was not a problem, but he had to climb a small outcropping of rock to get to the exact spot. He reset and checked the GPS device twice before he was satisfied that he was at the exact place specified. "Here goes nothing," he muttered, then cleared his voice and spoke, as clearly and distinctly as he could. "Kyle James Valenti, April 18, 1985." He looked around to see if anything had happened or had changed -- first up, then down, and then all across the expanse of desert laid before him. Nothing. He shook is head, but then said, "what the hell..." He began, quietly to sing, "Put your hand in the hand.." His back was to the rock wall and he scanned from side-to-side looking for the slightest motion. He sang both verses and three refrains; he had looked it up to make sure he knew all of it. Still, nothing.
When he had finished the song and made three or four more scans of the terrain, he broke a smile, took off his cowboy hat and wiped his brow, put it back on and began to shake his head. "Valenti, you're a fool. You're a damned fool." He turned to make his way back down to the JEEP but out of the corner of his eye -- almost beyond his peripheral vision -- a glint of silver flashed for a second. He turned to face the rock wall which had been at his back the whole time, and there it was. It was the silver hand-print he had seen time-and-again, that his father had seen 50-some years ago, that his son had first seen on his girlfriend's body. It was the silver hand-print that always signaled the presence of the aliens. He laughed out loud -- a full belly-laugh. He laughed so hard that he nearly fell over. He laughed so hard that he had to wipe away tears from the corners of his eyes when he regained his composure. "Put your hand in the hand -- you damned fool! The Hand -- The Hand!"
He drew several deep breaths, and then stepped up to the rock wall and matched his right hand to the glowing print.
He had not known what to expect, but he surely hadn't expected what happened next. The earth around him shook as a section of the rock wall slid open as gracefully as a swan at dusk, revealing itself as a door. "Ho-LY Sh..." He caught himself mid-word and just stared.
Once his eyes became accustomed to the fact that there was now a door where there had previously been a rock, he took a deep breath and took a step into the blackness, but not before unsnapping the top of his holster. He didn't draw his revolver, but he wanted to be able to. He pause for a few moments to allow his eyes to adjust to the blackness and then edged a few more feet into the cave-like orifice.
Just then, he heard a familiar voice, "It's OK Dad; no one is here -- you're safe -- come on in." His mind reeled. Was his child actually here? Was it a trick? No way to find out except to enter further.
He stepped down into a small roundish room filled with objects and graffiti which he could not identify, except to be pretty sure it was all alien.
The voice continued; "Dad, this is a recording, I'm not really here -- and it won't enable you to interact with me -- but in a few moments, you will be able to see what I look like now. I wanted you to hear my voice first to put you at ease before you see my image. I know you read in my journal about the ways I have changed, but you have to trust, it is still me, Dad."
Then, with a very quiet buzzing sound, a beam of light descended from the ceiling, and he was looking at ... well, he guessed it was Kyle, but he looked nothing like the teenager who left Roswell not so long ago. He thought it looked like the scene in the first "Star Wars" movie with Princess Leah's image begging, "Help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi!" He could clearly see the image, but at the same time he could almost see through it. Unlike the Princess, this image was life-sized.
He saw a young man with snow-white hair which had been trimmed quite squarely on the front and the sides, but fell nearly to the shoulders in the back. The figure wore a floor-length white caftan with gold hieroglyphs down the front center. The nose, the chin, the ears, the brow, were those of his boy, his Kyle, and he reached into the image to try to touch it. The buzz was a little more insistent until he withdrew his hand from the nothingness he touched.
"I'm guessing that about now, you'll be trying to touch me. Sorry. Wish you could. Wish I could touch you too, but it's only a recorded image."
He then directed his gaze on his son's eyes, and found that he could not look away from them. They were at once beautiful and entrancing, and repulsive and frightening.
"I know," the figure blinked a couple of times. "The eyes. They're hard to look at, but you'll get used to them -- at least, I have."
Still, Jim Valenti stared at the eyes.
"Dad, there is a limited amount of time I can spend with you on this recording -- it had to be transmitted an unbelievably long distance, along with the instructions to the chamber on how to give you access. By the way, you can look around as much as you want while you are here today, but don't try to take anything out. There's not really much of interest here anyway, but the security system won't let you remove anything except one thing I'm sending you -- and do all your looking before you leave because you won't be able to get in again, at least until I send another authorization. The one I sent you was good for one visit only. It's just too dangerous for this site to become public -- not so much for us, but for you and the folks we trust there. I know you're wondering... this is the pod-chamber where the royal 4, Max, Isabel, Michael and Tess, matured for the 35 years between the '48 crash and their first appearance in Roswell."
Jim finally tore his eyes from his son and scanned the chamber. He saw nothing that he recognized.
"I'd better get right to the point before I run out of time. The reason this message is so short, is that I used the sub-space conduit to send you a physical object. I can't explain this technically to you, but, just compare it to the internet and imagine that the object takes up enormous amounts of bandwidth and only a little is left for the message. This technology is fairly new, even for the Antarians, so maybe it will get better, but for now, that's the way it is. There is a low shelf behind you and to your right where you will find another journal. I always hated journaling, but now I can't seem to break the habit thanks to Liz. Anyway, you can read the journal to find out what has happened to us since we left Earth, and you can share it with the other parents ONLY. I guess I don't need to tell you how important it is to keep it among yourselves -- you already know that -- and, Dad, I trust you. Damn! I'm almost out of time. Look, Dad, I'm still not good at saying these things, but I want you to know that I love you, Dad, and I miss you so much it hurts-- physically, sometimes. I don't know when I will get an opportunity to send a communication again, but I will do it as soon as I can, I promise. Take care of yourself -- someday I hope we can find a way to be together again, until then, 'bye, Dad. I love you."
The image receded into a beam of light and then flickered out leaving Jim feeling very alone in this mysterious chamber. He walked around the chamber, taking-in as much as he could, but, as Kyle had said, there wasn't really very much here that he could identify or understand. After a few minutes, he walked directly over to the journal and picked it up, took a last gaze around, and headed decisively out the door. Once he was out in the brilliant sun, the door glided shut and disappeared, along with the hand, in the time it took his eyes to adjust to the brilliant sunlight. The journal in his hands was the only tangible proof that this had not been a hallucination or a dream brought about by intense desire to see his child again. No, this was no dream, he had another journal in his hand, and he scrambled down the rock and double-timed it to his JEEP. With the journal safely on the seat next to him, but hidden under a jacket he pulled from the back to keep it from any snooping eyes he might encounter, he pointed the JEEP to Roswell, and his little house. He contemplated using his bubble-light and traveling at top-speed, but thought better of it and took it as a leisurely trip, in spite of his rapid pounding heartbeat. Thankfully, there was no traffic, no interruptions, and no one around when he pulled the JEEP into the drive and entered the house.
He passed by the door on the way to the kitchen -- the door he hadn't opened quite so often in the last few months, and he decided today, just for a few moments, it would be OK. It was the door to his son's room. It was not a shrine, no matter what anyone said. If it was a shrine, he wouldn't allow it to be changed, would he? He had, himself, moved all the graduation presents to the bed, from the dining room table where they had lay in wait for 10 months after the graduation ceremony from which his son never returned, and he, himself, carefully placed all Kyle's belongings where he thought Kyle might, when they were shipped to him from Canada six months ago. He had, himself, placed the "Book of Remembrance" from his father's funeral amid the gifts and laid the flower cards on Kyle's desk so that Kyle could at least know something about his Grandfather's funeral four months ago, and see how many people still remembered and cared about the former sheriff. If it was a shrine, he never would have allowed those changes, would he? So it's clear that Kyle's room is not a shrine. He just hadn't needed the room. That's what he told himself. If he wanted to use the extra space to relax for a few minutes, every now and again, and if he happened to reminisce a little about his son while he did it, well, who was to say it wasn't healthy? To hell with 'em.
As soon as his eyes accustomed to the curtain-shrouded darkness, he looked around. Once he was satisfied that everything was in place, he quietly closed the door and moved on past as he had, day by day, as often as he could. He placed the journal on the kitchen table, sat in a chair directly in front of it and just stared at it for nearly a quarter of an hour. Finally, he rose and got himself a beer, sat back down, and opened the cover.
Continue to Chapter 2
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