Alex had unfortunately been pulled down nineteen flights of stairs to get to the dark abyss he hated to visit. It was where all the cars were kept, and where his used to be kept. Now, if you’re wondering why his least favorite place was a parking lot, you will find out in a bit. He was watching Alecia search for something in the area. She folded her hair back into a giant bun, which he was surprised even worked with her amount of hair. The girl had looked around and found interesting places to insert the key. It was like she was searching for treasure, and the key beeped every time she neared the marked location. Next, she would insert the key. The sound finally peaked like the coda of a musical piece. Alex got excited. He wasn’t sure what Charles vehicle would look like after she found his vehicle. Maybe he would drive the equivalent of a sports car? The futuristic addition.
“I’m guessing you’re excited from that odd half smile on your face. I’m sure you know, but It’s not the vehicle that makes the man, Alex. I’m guessing you know that already sweetie.” Alecia laughed “I just have one or two more spots to go, and then we should see it pop up some where around here.” Alecia continued her search.
“It must be a pretty sweet ride right Alecia?” Alex inquired.
Alecia nodded her head. “Yes, darling. I think it matches him perfectly. It’s not what you imagine darling. It’s pretty much just an A to B vehicle. I bet you thought he drives something awesome didn’t you honey. You’re surely going to be so surprised Alex. It’s something you can’t imagine, but when you see it you’ll see what I mean! Now stop looking so pretty all the time. I can’t handle it honey.” Alecia joked
“I’ll be sitting down over here. Do you need me for anything?” Alex responded
“You’re so silly darling! I need you for a ton of reasons. I’ll be right back in a few minutes with a detailed list.” Alecia dusted off the back of her dress, and walked over to the far corner of the garage. She beeped as she walked. Occasionally, she would have to float to the ceiling, and perform different aerobic activities to get the ‘treasure’. She reminded him of Tomb Raiders main character Lara Croft. If you don’t know who she was, she was a treasure hunter, and fought dinosaurs while searching for treasure. Alecia seemed to fit the part well, and didn’t mind the perils of Charles torturous schemes. Honestly, she seemed to be being overly dramatic. The girl did a back flip onto the ramp rather than walking her way up the stairs. She would be great for the act.
Alex was no longer interested in watching her follow the bread crumbs. He stared off into space as one of those memories dawned on him. The ones you have when you got nothing to do that are the worst. It was one of those memories of him and his ex-wife, when they used to come here, and they always used to come here on the days she worked in the city. He hated this garage for that reason. It was that memory of him and Meghan sneaking her into this garage. She would bribe the guard with a burger in a bag. He would smile and wave her over, and Alex would wave back at the guard. She brought the food, and Alex brought the blankets. She only worked three blocks away at the time. They would eat in the car, and she would sleep on the way home. Finally, on one of her nights visiting they decided to stay here late for one of their ‘meetings’. She got down on her knees like a man and asked him if he would have a kid with her. She was silly at the time, and pulled out a lollypop and gave it to him. He couldn’t not say yes to her. He accepted the lollypop, and a year later they had a kid. It was a happy memory he thought, but then she left three years later. Now he wouldn’t walk in this garage even if there was a million-dollar lottery ticket hovering in front of a free Lamborghini. However, this was a chance to get back with Meghan, right? He might as well wait until this was over without getting sad about it. He looked over at Alecia who was climbing up a pole. She was a nimble girl.
“Are you having fun Alecia?” Alex asked
“I just need to insert this key into a few more holes and were ready to go darling!” Alecia replied. Her dress should have been dropping down, but it stayed glued to her body like it was a part of her. She touched a few more spots, and then she did a back flip off the pole onto the area by a Camry before the key beeped loudly, and she over dramatically slammed the key down onto the hood of the car. Her dress popped up into the air and fluttered in the wind. Her hair dropped out of her bun, and she flicked it as it perfectly draped down her back. To finish it off a chime sounded. She had found the treasure, and a vehicle started appearing behind her floating between the floors. It was huge. It was just floating in the abandoned floor that no one ever went to. Alex figured it was because it was the twentieth floor. No one ever wanted to walk all the way down there, or did Charles do something to make it like that? Anyway, it was odd vehicle, almost like a small earth with wings. He had to admit she was right about his vehicle. It fit Charles perfectly. Alecia was very satisfied with her work and jumped off the car and smiled.
“I think it’s time we should get going don’t you agree, Alex? I’ve been wanting to get in a vehicle with you for a while, and blast off on a mission. Yes, we are going to have so much fun, darling!” She started walking, and waving her arms excitedly as she headed towards the craft. “I think I will have to be your sidekick honey. I look beautiful in tights, and I think you would love seeing me in a pair of tight leggings, or even tighter spandex. I love spandex darling! I’ll have to ask the steward on the ship if we can get matching outfits. By the way, I think you’re going to love him. He’s not much of a talker. You might even think of him as a different type of Charles. They are very similar, but they are also very different. I think you will understand. He quite multi-talented, and might even cook for us before the day is over, or even create a costume or two. If he decides he likes you, you might even get to hear his voice!” Alecia enthused
Alex noticed the man she was talking about was waiting by the vehicle, as the ramp from the entrance slowly extended down to the ground. He stood there with one of his arms neatly folded over his chest. Alex first thought that Charles and Alecia had played a prank on him. It was like Charles was standing there, but then he noticed the man’s hair color. The man in the suit had blue hair, grey, sharp eyes, and two small extra arms folded on his waist. Charles didn’t have blue hair. Was it to help distinguish between the two? Alex then noticed he had two extra arms. Nope, the hair didn’t matter. There was an extra small set of hands right above his love handles placed akimbo. Alex’s jaw literally almost dropped off, and his eye lids opened. It was sincere surprise. He got over it a second later like he usually did. Compared to the rest of the day it was just a man with four arms. Was it really any more startling than any of the things that happened since this day started? He probably wouldn’t even be surprised if he saw Spiderman swoop down. But god he really did he look like Charles. He was sure this man was a clone. He decided it was better not to ask about it, and turned over to Alecia.
“Why doesn’t he like to talk, and what’s his name? Alex inquired.
“His name is Teddy because he’s like a teddy bear. I would marry that man if I could just to cuddle with him all day. We can have more than one spouse by the way, so we can improve our code. Did you know that? Unfortunately, that can’t ever happen. He’s more of an organic than I am. He’s seventy percent biology thirty percent technology. If you can’t tell, he’s just like Charles, and I think perhaps the better version. Anyway, race you to the cockpit!” Alecia lifted her arms and rekindled her odd dash to the vehicle.
Alex watched her run over with her innocent joy. It was strange since she could be such a deviant at times. He was reminded of what young children were like. Although sometimes they were nice, sweet and cute as hell, they would sometimes play pranks on you. Did his so-called trainer have to fit the bill of a five-year old? He couldn’t figure out what her maker did to her, but who was he to judge. He could barely get the cappuccino machine to work at the office. Finally, they arrived, and Alecia slid her arm down Teddy’s chest looking at Alex with astonishment. He didn’t know what she was thinking but could probably have guessed. It was something like oh my god he’s softer than I remember! He stepped up the stairs to the vehicle, and was greeted a gentle smile and a smooth hand shake. He really was very soft. He left go of the warm palm, and gave a head nod before he was led inside the ship.
“There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” Alecia elated ran into the grass yard that filled every corner of the ship. It was more of a little world than a space craft.
Alex walked off the ramp as it followed behind him. The entryway closed, and he followed Ted. He was immediately stunned by the bright light shining down on him. There were clouds floating on top of the dome. Did this place have its own atmosphere? It seemed like a little planet that Charles had all to himself - time keepers must do well in the future. There were a few floating screens that popped up as well when he walked in, with a female’s figure and voice welcoming him. It even knew his name was Alex and waved him towards the path. His handy tour guide Alecia ran back to him with her pearly whites shining and latched onto his wrist. He looked up one more time, and noticed what was beyond the sky. It was an odd site to see. Instead of seeing a trace of stars or even the moon you just saw fluorescent lights with a small, warming sun lingering in between the layers of clouds.
They kept walking down a cobblestone path in the center of the ship with Ted at the back of the pack. He had deigned it below himself to chase after Alecia, so she ended up taking the lead. The ship was round so everything kind of just appeared along the horizon along with Alecia’s verbose explanations. It was a pretty good bet that she would say everything you needed to know in the first sentence, but didn’t back down from lengthy explanations. Then the cabin appeared after they walked down the pebbled path. She only had one word for it, and that was home. There were trees planted all over in the background. None of them were much taller than a person.
They all arrived in front of the house, and Alecia let go of Alex before feeling her way around the plants that sat on the deck of the cabin.
“I was sure he kept his keys somewhere around here darling. Hold on for one moment.” Alecia said before she gave up on looking and slammed herself into the door. It opened, and she stumbled in somewhat gracefully letting Alex go before she fell on to the ground. Teddy was probably thinking to himself if you just waited I could off opened the door, Alecia! The man covered his face with three of his hands, and then waved Alex into the space. He maybe only knew Charles for an hour, but he could see Charles reacting the same way.
The houses design was just as old fashioned as the rest of the ship. It was polished wood covering every inch of the house. An exception to this was all the high-tech gear on the walls that Alex had never seen before, which included a hologram with an excessively complex console in the middle of the room. He immediately noticed some sound’s coming from somewhere else on the ship, but chalked it up to some odd technology that must have activated. Wait, maybe not. On second thought he was now sure he heard voices coming from out back. If there was one thing Alex didn’t doubt, it was his hearing. He was almost sure it was this sound of kids playing. He looked over at Alecia, and Teddy who were getting comfortable at a safe distance from each other on the couch. Alex decided to sit down on a chair in the middle of the space, and looked out the screen doors on the other side of the cabin. Now he was certain there was something outside.
Alecia noticed Alex looking out the screen doors, and wondered if he noticed. She couldn’t help but turn over, forgetting about the whole thing, and jumping on Teddy. She found herself caught by his metal arms before they plummeted onto the couch. The three had some work to do, and some things to talk about, but she didn’t care. Alex was staring out the window with Molly on the forefront of his mind. On the other hand, Alecia finally conquered Teddy and held him in her arms.
“He’s really quite soft, Alex. You wouldn’t believe what your missing out on, darling! I’ll hold him down and you lay on him.” She cackled and jumped on Teddy. The man’s face was turning red from either anger or embarrassment. “He’s made to be extra comfortable! I must insist you join us right this instant, darling. Oh, and I keep seeing you look outside sweetie. If your wondering what’s out there you can look, but I’m not sure you are going to like what you see. Now come here right this instant Teddy and surrender!” Alecia giggled, and Teddy finally had enough.
“Alecia, you must stop right now! I insist you stop right now!” Teddy hoarsely declared. He had the same British accent as Charles, but with much extra base.
Alex had enough of their playing and walked over to the screen doors. He looked outside seeing a few odd lights floating around. A few silhouettes of children were chasing after them. One of the lights seemed to turn into a dragon, and did a flip in the air before swooping down on the incoming pack. They all seemed to be having a blast when it charged. The dragon didn’t stay in the air for long as one of the children grabbed him and pulled it into their embrace. They giggled and looked over at the window. One of them even waved at him before they continued playing with their captive. He looked over at Alecia who was still struggling with Teddy on the couch.
“Teddy and Alecia, why are there kids outside?” Alex inquired.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t see them, darling. Well, I guess I will have to tell you about it now won’t I, or maybe Teddy could do it.” She glowered threateningly at Teddy, who sighed before nodding his head.
“As long as you let go of me Alecia.” Ted responded. He finally was free.
“Well you seem like a decent fellow, so I guess I can tell you some of the side missions of Charles.” Ted sat himself up on the couch and fixed his messy hair. “It only seems right that you know. Those children out there are near the end of their lives. Some of them down to their last seconds. We kind of hope to give them a few more days of joy before their lives end, so Charles started going to visit hospitals before he went out to find candidates. He figured it was something he could do for them. There is nothing else we can do except give them a few morphing toys and let them role play until there time here is up.” Teddy explained
“What do you mean those kids are all going to die? They can’t die with you two here. You’re from the future you two, did you forget? Just go out there and cure them.” Alex recommended
Alecia decided to answer this one. “There are a few things you need to know about time, Alex. The main thing is it’s incredibly hard to change sweetie. We wouldn’t look for candidates like you if we were able to change things as we saw fit. Did you notice that when we were in the office that Bart seemed frozen on the ground, darling? It has something to do with the laws of time. Something moving at a much faster pace can’t affect something moving at a slower rate. It’s an unfortunate law of time-scape. Time has built up a trail after a long time of repetition, and its hard to erase it with our limited technology. We’ve been doing these recruitments for years, but because of that trail the history of time has hardly ever been affected. We always thought that the effect would be huge when we first made the technology, but it’s never gotten us far. So, Charles decided to do something with what he could do, and you’re seeing it. He just wanted to make those kids happy for a little bit more time, so he opened this place for them. It’s quite old fashioned for that reason sweetie. Now the only thing we were able to do is give them access to time scape, and a second identity for a few extra days full of hope and love. If you want, you can go out and meet them darling. I think they would love to see you sweetie! It’s a priority that you let them enjoy it, and don’t dwell on their unfortunate circumstances. They are lucky to be here, and you must remember that. Now stop dawdling and go out and be the handsome father figure I know you can be.” Alecia finished and motioned Alex to head out.
“Wait, before I go out. Tell me what’s all this about having to change the future. You guy’s make it sound like it isn’t a paradise where you’re from.” Alex leaned onto the wall by the door.
“We can’t tell you, Alex.” Teddy chimed in “It would be against the rules of our codes. If Charles was here, he might be able to point you in the right direction, but he’s not. Now before we have our meeting I’m going to start this vehicle, so just take a few minutes with the kids won’t you, Alex. I have trouble talking to the young ones, and I feel so sad seeing them out there all by themselves. Unfortunately, I’m not the same as you. I can’t have a kid of my own, and those children don’t seem to like my vibe.” Teddy sighed. “Clones aren’t allowed to have kids.” he whispered
Alex watched Teddy walk off crestfallen, and Alecia pointed towards the door and smiled. He finally mustered his courage, and opened the screen door as the pack of children rushed at him like a tidal wave. He noticed the green hospital robes were draped on almost all the children besides one or two of them. They smiled with very bright teeth, and immediately grabbed onto his legs.
“You must be the sir knight Mr. Charles told us about.” One boy said.
“Yeah, you must be the man who’s going to go save the world from the monsters!” A little girl added
“Yay, destroy those monsters!” They cheered
Another kid walked up to him and pulled his suit. “Mr. Charles told us you would play with us for a few minutes. We promise we won’t take up too much of your time. Isn’t that right everyone?” The kid asked
“Yeah!” The group replied
“We’ll show you how to fight the Morphers! Those evil things must be destroyed!” The moved Alex forward towards the frightened toys that were scurrying into the distance.
“Lead us Mr. Knight!” “To the battle field!” They all laughed and dragged him along.
“Wait.” He asked. “Charles told you little fellows about me?” Why would they know about him? He thought, and stopped them from pushing him along.
“He said your one of the finest candidates he’s ever been able to select.” The girl replied
“Yeah, he says you’re going to beat up the monsters really good!” A boy’s voice entered his ear
“Yeah, he said your going to save us too, Alex!” another kid chimed in
“Wait, there they are. It’s the Morphers, Charge!” The girl waved them forward, and Alex was pulled by the crowd.”
They all ended up on the grass a few minutes later. Alex was covered with the stuff, and a few of the kids had put him at the bottom of a dogpile. They cheered their captain and victory. Alex smiled as their little voices sounded like a euphony to him. He really enjoyed this moment, and couldn’t help asking a few of the kids about their background. One of them that stood out to him was Amanda, and her little blue dress. She looked like Alice from Alice in wonderland, and had the blonde hair and pigtails to match. She was about eight years old and too smart for her age. The other one that stood out was Sammy. He was good at math, and knew how to skirt himself out of a difficult situation. They were the only two wearing regular clothes. He figured he should at least be able to help them out, right?
When they were playing the ship had already taken off and sailed in the sky heading downtown to a hot point where the minutemen were collected by the ‘summoners’. Alex wasn’t aware of the summoners yet. He would soon have to go out and slay the enemy, but couldn’t get enough of this silly, kiddy energy.
The battle would go on for the children. A few of the morph toys transformed into fairies and swooped down onto the pile. The kids left a second later chasing after a flock of wolves. Those morphing toys were really something else. He also hoped they would win their battles after this minute was up. The few with the bald heads looked like they were having the most fun. He was going to have to kick some serious ass for these children. He grabbed one of the kids and lifted him onto his shoulders.
“Dragon knight ready for duty!” The child screamed. He flailed his arms at a fighter jet that approached before the kid swung at it and it plummeted to the floor and burst out into clay like flames. It was part of the show. Alex joined in on the fun and fought of some morphed Ogres and evil dwarfs. He almost felt like he got younger being with this group. They arrived at their location after a few minutes had passed, and he sat himself down by one of the small pine trees surrounding the periphery.
Alecia watched him from the porch, and noticed Alex’s solemn, pondering expression. She walked over to him, and rubbed his back and tried to console him. “Aren’t you glad you got to spend some time with them, darling. I’m very glad they had someone like you to watch over them. Teddy isn’t very good with kids” She added
Alex looked at her, and pointed over to the kids who were running into the curved horizon. “You know a few of them weren’t wearing hospital robes. Isn’t that odd? They didn’t even look sick. Couldn’t we at least save them somehow Alecia?” He asked.
“You’re so sweet, Alex! However, the sands of time aren’t easy to change, and those two your talking about probably walked down the wrong block, darling. They are either about to be crashed into, or something worse. I wouldn’t want you to worry about that when there is nothing you can do, Alex. You just have to accept that.” She rubbed his shoulders.
“You’re the one who told me to play with them. What’s the deal Alecia? Tell me what I need to hear.” He sighed before knocking her arms off his shoulders.
“Ugh Alex. I’ll tell you something ambiguous. It’s the best I can do with my current code. If you complete the final mission, I might just be able to help you save a few of them, at your own peril, but only a few.” Alecia conceded
“Really! Thank you so much, Alecia. I’ll try my best for the kids.” Alex replied
The vehicle landed soundlessly seconds later. The kids ran over one more time to chase after the knight in shining armor. Alex looked a lot like that man in his second identity. It was his suit. It shined like it was a veritable armor. He finally let them tackle him one more time before Ted came over. The kids ran off as soon as they saw him. They acted frightened and dashed off.
“I told you kids didn’t like me Alex.” Teddy sighed
“You’re lucky you don’t have to get to know them. They’re a great bunch of kids. Also, you have four arms Ted.” Alex honestly responded
“I guess you’re right. I thought it was because of the presence I gave off or something. I’ll remember that It’s probably the arms, Alex. I’ll try and get the toys to explain that to them later. Now Alex, we only have a few minutes to get ready. Come into the cabin. You did enough for them.”
The trio sat back down in front of the hologram, and started their briefing. Though they weren’t the only ones setting up right now, as the spectators were also beginning to pile into the bleachers. You’ll find out about them soon enough. Now It was clear to Alex that they were the red dot in the projection, and the mission plan was straight forward. The ship had landed them down by Wall street, and lots of flashing orange lights were surrounding them on the monitor. It was the most populated area on the map, full of minuteman, so it was a no brainer for Ted to drive them there. He had Alex repeat the plan back to him a few times until he was sure that he was ready to begin. Get in, kill one hundred, and get out. On a few of the stands in the city, the spectators were also ready for the show, and neatly bickered amongst themselves about the new series of contestants.