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The Colony


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“And so, as you have heard, the moon is an essential part of our place in the universe,” Professor Adam Reinher concluded, flipping to the last slide of his show. The giant, scarred surface of the moon filled the projector screen. “With its many differences and effects on Earth…” He chuckled. “I can imagine life would be very different without it.”

The lights of the auditorium flickered on, and Reinher could see the high school students yawning and shuffling about, anxious to leave this stuffy hall, even at the cost of returning to their classes.

He tried to control his sense of disappointment. They simply weren’t interested. None of the younger generation seemed to have any sort of particular interest in the moon, or any part of the science that was astronomy. The only time they got remotely excited was when he had mentioned the fact that if a giant meteor struck the moon hard enough, it could cleave it in halve and pelt the earth with state-sized chunks of rock.

He shook his head and shuffled his papers about as the students began to file out. Young people were so destructive these days. Even Evan, his own grandson, wasn’t content unless he had blasted apart at least a dozen buildings on his videogames before dinner.

“Uh, excuse me? Professor?”

Reinher turned and saw a girl, her sandy blond hair in two braids that fell past her shoulders, anxiously hovering near him. She seemed to be restraining herself with utmost difficulty from launching into a series of questions about his presentation.

Reinher appraised her silently. She didn’t particularly seem like the bookish type, she wore no glasses and her clothes were the height of fashion, but there was something about her that hinted at more intelligence than she let on.

He turned back to organizing his speech papers. “Did you have a question about the presentation?”

She moved forward so she was facing him, and twirled a braid around her finger. “Well, not exactly on your presentation, no.”

Reinher, frowning, turned to face her. “Then how exactly can I help you?”

In an instant, she lost all of her nervousness and looked him directly in the eye. “You know something about the moon, Professor. Something you conveniently glossed over in your slide show.”

Reinher stiffened, then unplugged his laptop and put it back in its case. “If it’s more information on the moon that you want,” he said, glancing over his shoulder at her. “Something I didn’t cover, you can go to a number of reputable sources. Books, websites, numerous articles…” He slung his laptop case over his shoulder. “It’s all in there.” He began to climb the stairs between the rows of seats toward the doors at the back of the auditorium.

The student hurried to keep up with him. “Yes, but the information I want isn’t going to be in any of those sources, is it?”

Reinher turned to face her suddenly, startling her. “What exactly can I help you with?”

Her eyes lip up, then hardened. “I want to know about the colony.”




*

*

*


Reinher tried hard to conceal his shock. “I – I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He turned and continued his climb up the flight of stairs.

The girl caught up with him again. “Professor Reinher,” she panted, grabbing his arm. “Please. I want to hear your side of the story.”

He glanced at her coolly. “What is your name? I don’t even know you.”

She pushed a stray wisp of hair out of her eyes. “Amanda Lovell.”

Reinher worked to keep his voice casual. “Relation to Jim Lovell?”

“He’s my grandfather,” she said, her eyes alight with eagerness. “And last week, while still recovering from the flu, he told me the strangest thing-”

“So Lovell talked, did he?” The words were out of Reinher’s mouth before he could stop them.

The girl’s eyes widened. “So it is true! There really is a-!”

“Shh!” Reinher hissed, looking around uneasily. “You can’t go shouting things like that, young lady.”

“But what is with all this secrecy?” she asked, following him up the rest of the stairs. “If you ask me, it’s a major scientific discovery, possibly the biggest of the twentieth century-”

“Look,” Reinher interjected, desperate to fix the mess that was brewing. “Did it ever occur to you that your grandfather might not have been entirely well when he told you that? Did it ever occur to you that maybe his brain was a little…confused?” He pushed open the doors to the auditorium and blended with the high school student traffic traveling down the hallways.

“If you’re trying to say that my grandfather might have been a little crazy,” Amanda said, elbowing people out of her way so that she could remain in step with him. “Then that’s what I thought at first as well. I asked him for names and such of other people who knew about it and did an internet search, but everyone was either dead or living abroad, all except for you of course.

“I must have searched every database NASA has on their website, but I couldn’t find any record of it. Then I stumbled across the fact that a Russian satellite photographed that side of the moon in 1959, and I realized that something major was going on.

“Even then, I wasn’t sure, but yesterday our teachers told us that you, Adam Reinher, were coming here to give a presentation on the moon. I knew I had to ask you about it, and if you wouldn’t have known what I was talking about, I would know that my grandpa was crazy and would give up.”

Reinher, trying hard to control his rising panic said, “Well, I must say Ms. Lovell that I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Enjoy the rest of your day; I have another meeting to attend.”

“Professor Reinher.” She wasn’t giving up. “I know my grandpa wasn’t crazy. And I know that you know exactly what I’m talking about. You heard it; you heard my grandpa say it when they arrived on the U.S.S Iwo Jima after the Apollo 13 splashdown in the South Pacific, please, Professor,” she continued as he made to walk out of the doors of the school. “Please. I just want to know.”

Reinher glanced at her, one hand grasping the door handle. He sighed at the look of set determination on her face. He knew she would follow him, even if it meant skipping school. But he couldn’t let anyone know…

“Okay, listen,” he told her, voice low. “I can’t promise I’ll tell you everything, but seeing as you’re Lovell’s granddaughter, I guess I could clear up a few…er, questions you might have about something he said.”

Amanda beamed. “Thank you, Professor! Here,” she ripped a piece of paper out of one of her notebooks and scrawled a hasty address on it. “Here’s the address to one of the coffee houses around here. Meet me there at around four. I knew it was real!” She turned, and dashed off toward her class just as the bell rang.

Reinher stood at the doors of the school in the now empty foyer, wrinkled hand clenched tightly around the piece of notebook paper. He wondered what on Earth he had gotten himself into.




*

*

*

The coffee shop was crowded and noisy, two things Reinher hated. Young business men sat at tables talking on their phones and pounding into their laptops, while simultaneously trying to eat muffins and drink cappuccinos.

He glanced at his watch nervously. He didn’t know why he was here. He could have just as easily left; pretend none of this had ever happened. But he knew that if their positions were reversed, he would be just as eager as Amanda was to learn about something that for centuries was considered impossible.

Anyways, Reinher thought to himself brushing crumbs off the table. They can’t blame this one on me. Lovell talked first. Let them come after him instead.

“Professor!”

Reinher turned to see Amanda making her way toward him, trying to balance two coffees and a stack of notebooks in her hands at the same time. She sat down at the table, and handed him his drink while the rainbow of notebooks slid over the scratched surface.

“I know you don’t like coffee,” she said, shaking her hair free of the braids and pocketing the elastics. “My grandpa said you never kept in on your ship because you hated the smell of it.”

Reinher was examining one of the notebooks. “What is all this?” The pages were filled with Amanda’s untidy scrawl.

She reached over and pulled the notebook out of his grip. “All my information,” she said, flipping lovingly through the pages. “When my grandpa started telling me about it, I had to write everything down. These are all his words in this blue notebook here.” She held it up so he could see the cover. “The rest of the notebooks are filled with the stuff I managed to find online. The names of the other people onboard the ship, where they live, what happened to them. Everything.”
She pulled a green notebook toward her and flipped open the cover. The first page was blank. It was a new notebook. “So, Professor, let’s start with the splashdown in 1970-”
“Wait,” Reinher interrupted, eyes widening in alarm. “You can’t write this down! What’s the matter with you? If word ever got out…” He let the sentence trail off ominously.
Amanda frowned in confusion. “But that’s the point,” she said, tentatively taking a sip of her piping coffee. “The world has the right to know about it. Do you realize how much news stations and papers across the world would pay for this information?”
Reinher frowned. “So this is about money, is it then?”
Amanda waved her hand impatiently. “Of course not!” she said derisively. “This is about letting the world know that we are not alone!”
Reinher closed his eyes and massaged the bridge of his nose. “Alright, alright. But my name remains anonymous. Do you understand me? None of this can be pinned back to me.”
Amanda waved her hand again. “Obviously. Don’t worry about any of that. After this, we never would have met each other.”
“Wait.” Reinher felt foolish for continuing on with his secrecy, but he had to know. “Why do you need an interview from me? I thought your grandfather told you everything?”
Amanda picked at her fingernails. “Well, not exactly. He only told me about the colony, and about telling it to the crew of the Iwo Jima. Once he’d realized what he said, he refused to tell me anymore. There are still some major questions that need to be answered in order for this to be a credible discovery.”
Reinher sighed, making up his mind. Amanda was right. They couldn’t keep this from the world anymore. It was shocking that it had stayed hidden for so long already. “I suppose you want to know what exactly the colony is, don’t you?”
Amanda nodded eagerly.
Reinher sipped his drink, looking thoughtful. “As you probably know, I was the commanding officer of the Iwo Jima in 1970 when Apollo 13 splashed down in the South Pacific. When the astronauts came aboard, Jim Lovell was in a considerable state. The ravings that were coming out of his mouth! He talked to the first mate, who laughed and sent him to me.
“I asked Lovell what he saw.

“He babbled on about how the malfunction on the spacecraft shut them down, and they had to swing around the far side of the moon to use its gravity to propel them back toward Earth.”

Amanda nodded impatiently, her hand flying across the page.

Reinher leaned forward. “Jim Lovell told me that when he went around to the far side of the moon, he and his fellow astronauts saw something amazing. In one of the deepest craters of the moon, lay several chrome buildings. Huge, massive structures that make the Empire State Building look like a cardboard cutout.

“Astonished, they focused the onboard telescope down at the little city and saw something even more amazing. There were people walking between the buildings; no spacesuits, no oxygen masks, nothing. Such strange people, Lovell told me. They looked nothing like those big-headed green skinned aliens cartoonists are fond of drawing.

“Lovell said that these people were the most beautiful things he had ever seen. He said they were tall, each one at least over six feet, some even seven or more, with willowy white hair and navy eyes. He described them as ‘angels without wings’.”

Reinher sipped his drink, which had cooled considerably, and settled back in his chair. “Of course, when I heard all this, I wasn’t inclined to believe it. In 1959 a Russian satellite had went around the far side of the moon, sending pictures of what it looked like. There was nothing there.”

Amanda looked up from her notebook. “So they obviously messed with the pictures. Faked them.”

Reinher nodded. “They had to. As we were sailing back toward the United States, a helicopter landed and several men in suits got out. They said they were with the US government.”

Amanda’s eyes widened. “They knew about it?”

Reinher laughed. “Of course they knew.”

“But then why didn’t they tell anyone about it?” she asked, perplexed. “It would have ended the debate over whether or not there were extraterrestrials once and for all.”

“They government never told anyone about it,” he said in a low voice. “Because they were told not to.”

“You mean they had contact?”

“Of course,” Reinher said. “They explained to us that the colony had contacted them in 1940, right in the middle of World War II. The people of the colony told our government that they knew our planet had existed, right on the other side of their own, and they wanted to contact us and see what we were like.

“The people who received the message were beside themselves. They had finally gotten proof that there were other organic creatures living in our solar system. But the colony did not want everyone on Earth knowing about them. They were very smart. They knew that people would panic, crews from Earth would be sent out, and their peace would forever be disrupted.”

Amanda’s pen looked like it was going to explode with excitement. “How did the aliens keep our government from telling? Did they threaten an invasion?”

Reinher laughed. “They wanted peace, Amanda. They wished no conflict. They knew we were going to find out about them sooner or later, so they made the first move.”

Amanda frowned. “Then how did they keep us quiet?”

Reinher leaned forward. “They gave us technology. The people of the colony were massively advanced. They had things we couldn’t even begin to comprehend. They showed us how to work their technologies; their computers, their space equipment, their micro chips, their health procedures. Every year they show us something new, and in return, we hold their silence.”

“And they just told you this?” She looked at him intently. “They just released confidential information to civilians?”

Reinher shrugged. “We had questions. And they knew the only way to keep us quiet was to answer those questions.”


Amanda didn’t say anything for a long while. “All this time,” she said amazedly. “We wondered what was out there. We wondered if there were aliens, if they were intelligent, if they would contact us. We’ve searched for light years, never knowing that the answers to all our questions lay on the far side of the moon.”

Reinher considered her. “One last thing,” he said, leaning in and lowering his voice. “The government told us something else the people of the colony had said.”

Amanda leaned forward eagerly.

Reinher’s eyes shone with a mixture of fear and excitement. “They told us we were not the only other worldly civilization they had contacted. There is a lot more out there. And who knows? Maybe, when we’re looking out into space with our little telescopes, there’s someone much more powerful looking back.”



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dana12345678 said...
Oct. 27, 2008 at 4:12 pm:
this is an amazing story! perfect descriptions and very entertaining to read! keep up the good work. (:
 
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