By this time, I was tired of alter-Earthling deception and traps. I looked over at Daisy. It felt like a century passed as we looked into each other’s eyes and let the weight of Mother’s imminent death sink into our souls.
“Oh Daisy,” I said. “I’m so sorry I started all of this.”
“No, I’m sorry. I should never have sat on your side of the couch or ruined your picture.”
“It’s Dad and Mom’s…couch. But I should never have colored with marker on your dresser.”
A tear rolled down Daze’s cheek. “I really don’t hate sharing a room with you, Kyle. I just wish you were nice sometimes, you know? Then, we could play games…like friends.”
“Oh, Daze…we are friends.”
“Now Mom will die and it’s all our fault.” Daisy sobbed.
While Daze and I said our apologies, a flurry of Kelp discussion, long-range scanner analyses, and planning continued on without my knowing it. I felt a tap on my shoulder as I finished promising Daisy I’d be the best big brother ever if given one more chance.
“You’ll get that chance, Kyle. We’ve located the biological warfare building.” Vander-Kelp said.
I turned to face him. “Really?”
“Oh, Vander-Kelp, Sir. Thank you!” Daze cried.
Vander-Kelp nodded. “Just in time, too, but I’ll spare you the details. Kyle, you will follow me. The two of us are joining a Kelp medic and security guard in our transport module.”
“Do you think we can save her, Sir?”
Vander-Kelp nodded. “It’s the water they want. We’ll give them some. After today, they won’t be able to get anymore.”
Vander-Kelp managed a grin. “Lockdown on Kelpsin. It’s all taken care of.” Then, he patted me on the back.
I followed Vander-Kelp through several long hallways and elevators. Then, we joined the medic and security guard in a large bubble-shaped pod. It was a tight fit, but we all squeezed in. Vander-Kelp smashed a button on the wall and yelled, “Send us down!”
It only took seconds. My body tingled, burned, tingled again, and then I stood at the front door of the alter-Earthling facility. We all stood facing a metal door that opened into a short mountain. The security guard took out a small cube and threw it at the metal door. I felt the impact of the shock wave of the small explosion before the impact of the sound reached my ears. I tried to put my hands up to protect my hearing, but I was too late.
Vander-Kelp stalked into the hole in the gigantic hillside first. The security guard went next. I followed him, and the medic was on my heels. We entered the facility and found ourselves in a long hallway.
Vander-Kelp turned to the medic, who had a particularly large, sloth-like nose. “Which way?”
The medic stuck his head out, closed his eyes and took a good long sniff. Then, he pointed right. Handy attribute to have in a pinch.
“This way.” Vander-Kelp hobbled-ran. I was right behind him. The medic, however, soon rushed passed us, sniffing, and led us through several winding hallways, a few double doors, and came to a stop in front a room completely encased in glass. The door popped open to welcome us.
“Not a moment too soon.” George said. He walked up to the medic, who towered well over him, and held up a laser-looking type gun. “Hand me the Glugenal Water, sloth.”
But, I didn’t have time to wait for his antics. My mother’s life overrode every other thought in my head. I darted forward to attack, but in the process I tripped over the medic’s foot and accidentally knocked the laser gun from George’s hand. Then I fell to the ground. The gun fired randomly burning a hole in the glass surround and then fell to the floor, bounced and landed right in front of me. I grabbed it up, in a heartbeat, and pointed it toward George. “Not until you let me save my Mother.”
George sniggered but held up his hands and took a step back. “Very well, Kyle. This way.”
The other alter-Earthlings in the room were not armed. Vander-Kelp and the security guard had brought their own laser guns. They got them out and held everyone up while George led me to the dome, holding my mother. He clicked a button raising the dome.
There my mother lay—just like Daisy—covered in blue powder. “Vander-Kelp, Sir. We’ve got to cure her of the powder as well as the Glugenal poison.”
The medic came to my side. “Here, Kyle.” He held out a package that looked a lot like a squeezable yogurt. “This is concentration 8.0.”
I grabbed the package, ripped off the tab and squirted the goop into my mother’s mouth. It oozed out a bit on both sides of her face. I turned back to the medic. “Now I need some regular water. 3.0?”
The medic reached into his bag and pulled out three bottles of 3.0. His hand was big enough to hold all three. He ripped off the lids and poured them all over Ginger, washing off all the blue powder. “That’s certainly enough. I don’t want to destroy her from the shock of both chemical extremes.” He said.
“Medic, grab Ginger and take her back to the ship. We’ll deal with the rest.” Vander-Kelp said, still holding his laser gun toward all the remaining Deceivers.
“Yes, you must hurry, Kyle. Do as the man says.” George said. “Save poor mummy.”
“Be quiet!” I said. I held my laser gun up to George’s face. “Don’t say another word.”
George’s grin remained pasted on his face, but he nodded. He watched closely as the medic left with Ginger. His eyes darted about.
“Let’s get out of here, Vander-Kelp, Sir.” I said.
“You go, Kyle. I’ve got business here.”
I turned to face him. “But, Sir. There’s only one transport bubble pod.”
“And you, your mother, and the medic are the only three that will fit. Hurry and catch him. Hand the guard your gun on the way out. Quickly, now.”
I wanted to argue. But, I couldn’t. I wanted out. I wanted to go home.
I arched a brow and waved the gun in George’s face to remind him what I could do. Then, I backed slowly toward the security guard. I began to make the handoff, when George exploded into action. His movements were faster than a movie in fast forward.
He dove to the right, toward a control panel, hit a green button. I heard metal and gears click. I glanced behind me and saw a wall dropping down. It was moving fast and would soon trap us all in the laboratory.
“Get out of here!” Vander-Kelp yelled. “Now!”
I didn’t pause for encouragement or to see what else George could do in his fast-forward motion. I turned toward the exit and took off. The wall was dropping fast. I dove to get under it. Yet, as I dove, something caught my foot. I looked back—mid-fall—and saw George with his glowing cat-eyes grabbing my foot. I thought the wall would drop and smash his hand and my foot together. But a laser gunshot struck George’s wrist at the last possible moment. It severed his hand from his arm, allowing me to pull my foot to safety. The wall crashed down.
I breathed hard. I looked down and saw George’s hand still attached to my foot. I shrieked and pulled it off. Then, I took off, running down the hallways. But I didn’t know my way back.
“This way, Kyle.” The voice was familiar.
I saw the medic up ahead with Ginger still in his arms. He’d waited for me. I ran after him. Everything after that happened in a blur.
The medic and I managed to escape the facility, get inside the bubble transport, and return to the ship. Kelp voices and bodies were everywhere. The commotion and crowding on the ship was unnavigable.
“Wait here.” The medic said. He ran off through the crowd with my mother in his arms. The color still hadn’t returned to her skin.
“Kyle!” Then, there was Daisy by my side. “Kyle, where’s mom?” I couldn’t open my mouth. I merely pointed off through the crowds. Daisy looked where I pointed. “Kyle, where’s Vander-Kelp?”
I looked right at Daisy then. “He’s still on alter-Earth. He’s…Daze…He’s trapped with the Deceivers.”
A land Kelp came up behind Daisy. “We can’t worry about that now. The ship has to leave. Kelpsin lockdown will take place within the hour. This ship must be docked.”
“What does lockdown mean?” Daisy asked.
“It means Kelpsin will be surrounded by a permanent force-field. None of us will leave ever again—or for a good long time. But, at least no one will be able to sneak in either. All Kelps and our water will be safe.”
“But, what about us?” I asked. “What about my Mom and Daisy. We want to go home? What about Vander-Kelp and the security guard? Are you just going to leave them there on alter-Earth?”
The land Kelp frowned. “One thing we Kelps know better than any other people in all the galaxy is the importance of self-sacrifice. There are times when we can save one another without bloodshed. There are times when we save others—like you—though we normally keep to ourselves. We like to maintain peace and avoid conflict. However, there are also times when we must give our own lives to protect what is right and good. Vander-Kelp has seen many a battle. He has also kept much peace. He knew now was his time to do this. He has saved you both—and hopefully your mother as well. He has protected our right to peace and the Glugens from further exploitation. He has protected our water and our lives.”
“Kyle,” the land Kelp said. He took me by the shoulders and looked me right in the eyes. “Vander-Kelp stayed behind to destroy the Deceiver’s poison manufacturing. Surely you know saving Ginger was not enough. He had to keep alter-Earth from hurting other planets—like your earth. For his sacrifice, we will honor Vander-Kelp’s memory always.”
Silence. The entire pandemonium of Kelps in our immediate area ceased. All heard the land Kelp’s assessment. All heard his touching eulogy on behalf of Vander-Kelp. This silence was as much to listen as it was to honor Vander-Kelp.
I’d never cried before in all my life—that I’d let anyone see. I was a boy, after all. But, this time was the first time I didn’t feel like a sissy. I didn’t care who saw me cry. If ever there was a reason to cry, this was it. Tears gushed out of my eyes like a Niagara waterfall. My heart beat hard. I hurt. I hurt so badly. Yet, I felt numb at the same time. I shook my head to argue, but there was nothing more I could do.
Daisy put her arm around me. “They’re gonna take us home first, Kyle. Kelpsin is pretty close to the real Earth, after all. Come on. Let’s go see Mom.”
The land Kelp waved to Daisy, my Mom, and me from the bubble transport. We all waved back. I waved hardest of all. I wanted to cry again, but held it back. I was waving good-bye to the most horrific experience of my life. But, it had also been the most wonderful adventure. I’d learned so much.
The land Kelp smiled. Then, in the blink of an eye, a green light flashed and the bubble transport was gone.
I turned and hugged Ginger and Daisy. My Mom’s eyes were full of tears. The three of us grabbed each other’s hands and walked out of the forest, in our backyard, and up the hill to our house.
“Where’ve you all been?” Dad exclaimed. He ran toward us from the back of the house, down the hill. “I got some weird message on my phone that said you all were okay and I’d find you in the backyard…”
“Dad!” I yelled. It was so good to see him.
Dad ran down to us. His face was a contortion of emotion. I thought he might be glad as he was sort of smiling, but I sensed a bit of anger in the intensity in his eyes. “Kids, what were you thinking going after some spaceship crash? And Ginger, you said the government was looking for our kids and had information for us. But, then you disappeared too. What happened to everyone? I’ve been worried sick.”
Poor dad. He’d been at work when Daisy and I left in the spaceship. He’d been late to join mom at the government facility to find out about the crazy green Glugenal suit. Then, she’d been kidnapped by Greg. He looked disheveled and his face was covered with gruff.
I ran to him. I dropped my head, so he wouldn’t see my face. “It’s all my fault, Dad. I picked a fight with Daisy—because she was being very annoying—but, it’s really all my fault. I nearly got us all killed and put the whole galaxy in mortal danger. But…I think it’s safe again—for now.”
Dad grabbed my chin and made me look at him. “I’ve been so worried about all of you. But, I’m glad you’re all home safe.” I gave him a big hug. “Were there really aliens involved?” he asked. “That’s what your mother said.”
I smiled up at him. “Yes, there were real aliens.” But then, I frowned. “Some of them were really good, though, Dad. One of them…he…he…”
“That’s enough for now, Kyle.” My Mom interrupted. “More important than whom you met or how we escaped is what you learned. Tell, me, what did you learn?”
I looked over at Daisy. She had a look on her face that worried me. Is she about to stick her tongue out at me? Certainly not after all we’ve been through. Look away, Kyle, just look away. It’s not worth it…
“Kyle, what did you learn?” Dad said.
I turned away from Daze and sighed. “I learned that how I treat my sister is a lot more important than I thought.”
“Daisy, what did you learn?” Mom asked. “Come on now. Open up. You both have put me through…well, let’s just say you’d better have learned something little girl.”
Thank you! I thought for a second Ginger was only expecting me to learn something from all of this. Singular humility has never been a strength of mine—obviously. I don’t know how long I could have lasted.
I looked to Daze. She smiled at me. It was genuine, if a little mischievous. “Mom and Dad, I learned that Kyle is my friend.”
Well, maybe she didn’t ruin our lives after all.
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Hi! My name is Angela Tempest. I write fiction that entertains, takes you to another world, and fills your life with truth. I hope you’re enjoying Copy Cat Earth. If you love it, there’s more. Check out my author page to read my other stories!