OCTOBER 5TH, 11:56 PM (10:56 PM MOUNTAIN TIME)
Finally. About time some ease and relaxation settled within both of them, especially for Evan’s sake.
Lang focused back on the TV screen. Tommy Boy was definitely a good movie choice. Sure, the characters were moving and speaking slower than normal, but having Evan laugh a few times here and there made the hull’s cruel attempt at disrupting reality become almost nonexistent at those moments.
Lang wanted to laugh too. But he couldn’t. His mind was just too cluttered.
Think. Think deeply.
At least there hadn’t been any of those horrible light flashes since 4 PM. Maybe it was over, finally. But they needed to escape this prison.
Think harder. There had to be some other way to get out of here. Think like a scientist. But no ingenious idea came.
Lang instead leaned back into the cushiony brown sofa and stared up at the carved marble ceiling. The fine geometric design, balanced and artistic in its construction made him remember. Please, Savior, forgive Evan and me for our sins. But please, please help us. And please guide us. Please give us courage, but more than anything, please have this—
“Dad. Colonel Stevens.”
“Lang. Are you all right?”
Lang let his abdominal muscles get some needed work and tug his body forward. Evan was right. Colonel Stevens was standing a few feet away. Major Ko was hovering near Evan on the other sofa, asking a few questions, and Captain Indalo was intermittently pointing his camcorder at both of them, as usual. And oddly, their slower words and movements were becoming even less noticeable than earlier. “Sorry, colonel. I was…I was just praying.”
“I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“No, no, it’s okay. So, did you talk to the general?”
Colonel Stevens slowly sat down to Lang’s right. “Yes. We had quite the long meeting.”
“Did Colonel Jennings’ tests on the Suburban find a way out for us?”
“Uh…no, not really.” Colonel Stevens hung his head down. Painful dread immediately sunk into Lang’s gut. “Colonel Jennings discovered that the speed of light within the air space surrounding your bodies is faster than here.”
“What?” Evan hopped off the sofa and stumbled closer. “She must have measured it wrong. This kid Freddy, I know. He’s weird but knows a lot about science and he’s told me many times the speed of light is the fastest speed of all. So she has to be wrong.”
That darn camcorder. Why did Captain Indalo have to point it at both of them now?
“I know, Evan,” Colonel Stevens said. “I couldn’t believe it too. But after reading her report, I see she verified each light experiment several times.”
Major Ko calmly grasped his hands together and walked closer, glancing at Evan, and then at Lang. “And I helped Colonel Stevens. I could not believe it myself. The speed of light should not increase, unless it is a relative matter, like viewing traveling light from a different perspective, more or less. Or it could even be a very clever illusion for all we know. But the light experiments were conducted accurately.”
“So, what does this mean for us?” Lang asked.
“It means…let me explain,” Colonel Stevens said. “The Suburban’s digital clock time is the same as your watch and Evan’s PSP. And all of us can see that you speak and move faster, and vice a versa when you watch us. And the Suburban is decreasing in size proportionally to you and Evan. And the main problem, of course, is you only sporadically show up on video, when the hull allows it, and the same for the Suburban.”
“All of this shows major differences exist between our two dimensions. Mainly, energy differences. So you two, and your Suburban, couldn’t possibly be in our dimension.” Colonel Stevens held his hands together on his lap and gave Lang sad, resolute eyes. “I’m sorry, Lang. Even if we could break open the hull, the energy differences between both our dimensions could kill us all.”
The dread in Lang’s gut suddenly erupted into an explosion of anger that bled into every part of his body. “So what do we do now?” He flung his hands up, nearly smacking Colonel Stevens in the face. “You’re telling us we’re locked in here for good? I thought you people were geniuses or something. This is the U.S. government we’re talking about, right?”
Evan stepped closer, his arms tightly crossed over his chest under the hull. “My dad’s right. You guys are supposed to be the best here.”
“And I assure you, we work with some of the smartest minds around. And we are doing our best.” Colonel Stevens swallowed, slowly. “But both of you. Please try to stay calm. And speak slower. I can barely understand you when you speak so fast.”
“Sorry,” Lang said, and his heart sank, remembering his prayer moments ago – he just needed to leave this in God’s hands.
“It’s all right,” Colonel Stevens said. “I understand how upset you are. But please. Listen to me. All hope is not lost. The general wants us to attempt communication with the aliens behind the hull, and see if they will reverse the process and release you two.”
Lang let out a disgusted sigh. “Wonderful. Aliens? You’re going to communicate with aliens? You know we’re Christians.”
“Yes, Lang, I know, as we discussed earlier. But unfortunately, from what you observed, that silver craft in the dark distance - this urges us to believe it must be alien involvement.” Colonel Stevens frowned, gazed down, but then gave Lang a serious stare. “Can you give me more details about it?”
Lang’s eyes drifted to the right, to the TV screen. Chris Farley’s character was wearing a coat far too small for him and singing a silly song. Lang felt a smile readying to form, but he stopped it. Instead a picture of darkness formed in his mind, total darkness, except for the slight orange glow of the hull on his arms and lower body, and the distant light of that silver object. He closed his eyes, and forced the memory to sharpen. “It’s a silver disk, like a flying saucer, and maybe about a mile away, or half mile, maybe less…I can’t tell how big it is.” He opened his eyes and started shaking.
“Are you all right?”
“Dad.” Evan sat down to Lang’s left. “Why are you shaking?”
“I’m all right, Evan, I’m all right. Just don’t like remembering that.” Lang inhaled deeply and concentrated on forcing the shaking to subside.
“But are there any other details you can tell us?” Colonel Stevens asked.
“No. That’s it. Everything I told you is all that was there. Except, I was floating, could have been slowly falling, into the dark, until I sensed something maybe pulling me toward the silver disk. It was…very disturbing, something I never want to experience again.”
“I see. And maybe pulling you toward it.” Colonel Stevens sighed quietly. “That’s unfortunate, you would never want to experience it again, since I was going to ask you if we could repeat Dr. Bohanek’s laser experiment.”
“No!” Evan popped up off the sofa and stomped over in front of Colonel Stevens. “You’re not putting me and my Dad through that again!”
Lang noticed DFRs by the stairs were taking on alert postures, and moving a little closer. “Evan. Calm down. Colonel Stevens is only trying to help. I don’t want to, but maybe it will help us find out more about these aliens.”
“Yeah, but Dad, I can’t take that again! It was horrible watching you disappear.”
“I know, for me too. But, who knows? I may not disappear this time. And instead maybe we’ll get some answers.” The DFRs were not moving any closer and Evan simply sighed and relaxed his agitated demeanor. Good. Lang stared into Colonel Stevens brown eyes, eyes that were sad yet held strength. “Could we at least have my parents and my brother visit us?”
“Lang, um…General Tauring highly advised against it. He felt it would be very risky, since we still aren’t sure about these aliens we’re dealing with. And he also felt it would be a bad idea for them to see you and Evan like this. Think about how…how disturbing it could be for them.”
“Then what about Major Eiken?” Evan asked. “Can he at least come see us? He already knows what we look like.”
“Actually, Evan, he is quite busy. And one of the things he’s doing is visiting with your grandparents, to explain that we will be helping you two. And Major Eiken is helping to bring the five other people here too. They will be here…” Colonel Stevens glanced at his wrist watch. “It’s 2305 hours military time, or 11:05 PM standard time, so they should arrive here sometime tomorrow afternoon.”
Sarcasm and disgust swept through Lang. No. Stop it. But he couldn’t. “To receive no help, other than communication attempts with these aliens?”
“Now, that’s not fair. Colonel Jennings is going to keep on trying to figure out all she can. And we will too. Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, we will get right to work. But there will be nurses available for both of you overnight, if there are any concerns or needs you may have. Do either of you find you’re getting tired yet?”
Evan shrugged. “No, not me. Not at all.”
“Same here,” Lang said dejectedly, upset with himself, upset with his crude behavior, and upset with the unraveling of any possible remedy for them.
Colonel Stevens drew closer to Lang and looked all around him. “But now, if you don’t mind…Major Ko?”
Major Ko approached. “Sir. You want us to check now?”
“Yes.” Colonel Stevens stood up, and Captain Indalo moved in, his camcorder closely focusing on Lang. “Lang, can you stand for us?”
“Sure.” Lang gradually slid to the sofa’s edge, the cushion’s larger spread a depressing reminder of his new, shorter height. He stood up and noticed something missing. “That’s weird. My knees often hurt after sitting for a while. But I don’t feel anything now.”
“That is interesting,” Colonel Stevens said. “I’ll make sure to note that. Now, just stand still for a moment. We want to check for any tubes, wires, or other barely visible devices that are providing life support assistance for each of you.”
“All right. Sure. But we certainly haven’t noticed anything.”
Their eyes were peeled and they pried carefully, searching everywhere around Lang’s body. Evan helped along with them. But nothing could be found. And that constant reminder, from the colonel’s ever present greater height – more of that miserable sinking feeling hit Lang. Why couldn’t he and Evan just watch the movie now and be left alone?
Without warning, a searing, yellow flash engulfed Lang. It felt like it snuck in sideways. He squeezed his eyes shut. “Not again!” He yelled it. No. Don’t. Evan. But Evan didn’t say anything except to let out a low moan.
Lang opened his eyes. The unusual sound of metallic objects clanging to the floor by his feet came at the same time. He looked down.
“Captain. Are you recording this?” Colonel Stevens’ voice was frantic and even slower than before.
“Yes! Got it, sir. And it happened at 2307 hours.”
“Dad! Dr. Bohanek’s scalpel and drill!”
Lang blinked a few times, trying to see around the flash spots in his vision, and kept his eyes on the floor. Evan was right. That scalpel. The cordless drill. Even the tiny drill bit. And there was more. “Dr. Mukherjee’s stethoscope, and the ultrasound gel? What the…what just happened?”
“Right after the light flash ended, they just fell out of your hull, by your thighs and stomach,” Evan said. “It was really weird.” He looked up and around, his breathing faster. “And…we’ve gotten shorter again…but our heads…and body parts are smaller, compared to everyone else’s.” He stared with fear in his eyes at Lang. “You’re about a foot shorter than Colonel Stevens now.”
Colonel Stevens bent down and drew closer to Lang. “Are you hurt, Lang? Are you in any pain?”
“No…no I’m not. It only causes some pain in our eyes, but no physical pain elsewhere. At least, not yet. You’re…you’re speaking slower than before.”
“I know. And your words are coming faster.” He slowly turned to the others. “Major. Get the measuring tape. And tell that nurse over there to bring some sterilized specimen bags.”