Another installment of my story.
Sunrise on Earth 3 the crew is moving about. A few minutes ago the girls had given up the inspection of the adjoining kitchen and went to find clothes. One Baxter sits across from Lester reading an old news paper, . Lester found There isn’t much to read around, a news paper and a few books. The other Baxter is with Salmon searching the land around the building.
“It says the First Nation is working with the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada in defense from Nazi Germany.”
“Those countries are on the food containers.”
Baxter folds the paper and hands it to Lester, “This paper is decades old, perhaps from their version of a world war. We’re going to travel, so we’ll find something more up to date. As for that food, is there anything fresh here?”
“No, just this canned and boxes stuff.” Lester tells Baxter as both head to the kitchen.
“What about can openers?”
“All the cans have screw top. They reuse most of their containers around here.”
The kitchen has a fair amount of empty cabinets with open fabric curtains. This is where the food in the dining room came from. Mostly ordinary kitchen gear fill the drawers and lower cabinets. A long umpowered refrigerator, a modular gas grill, and an odd oven with an stove top. It looks like four smoke stacks were attacked to the stove. There are two sinks in far sides of the kitchen. One large for general kitchen use while the other, near the entrance to the dining area, was small for hand washing.
Baxter reflects to himself. “The sun should be up, and this should be interesting.” He looks at the walls as if tracing something invisible. He ends his gaze at a tall thin closet. The door opens to a rope disappearing at top and bottom. “Watch the stove and tell me if anything changes.”
Baxter pulls the rope down and there is a loud metalic squeel from the roof.
“There is light from the this stove.”
“Good, move the hampers to let the light through.”
As Baxter opens the top of the light collector more light gets through and the stove top starts to heat up. “I’ll get something to cook. Can you get some water boiling? Hopefully Salmon and Baxter found an animal to eat out there.”
Lester puts a pot of water on the stove and plays around with the stove controls until it was heating the burner. The gas stove appears to have an array of quick release spickets for parts that are gone.
On Earth 2 Lester is driving the old van. In the passenger side Aaron is checking a monitor with a cigarette pack sized box wired in. The other two are diving Salmon’s SUV with the alien and leading a ride to Aaron’s shop.
“Good thing these things don’t have power.” Aaron examines every tiny detail. “The alien could have monitored the network through some unconventional methods.”
“I don’t know. I thought Baxter was reporting to a higher up, but he was closed about it. By the way, how did you get involved in this?”
“My sister was detained here.”
“Detained? We were on temporary lock down.”
“Really? She could go when she want?”
“Yeah, I’ve seen it.”
“A guy named Zachary get out even though a bear was scared off by a machine gun.”
“I don’t know where you got that information, but I talked to the guy after that.”
“You had video call, one that can’t be faked with human tech….. Oh, somebody might have cheated. Baxter had the tech to stun and capture a teleporting alien. What other technology did he have?”
Lester doesn’t know what to say. He can’t defend Baxter now after all he saw in the last two days. The seat belt feels tight as he realizes that he doesn’t know who anybody was working for now.
“You can look on the bright side.” Aaron says, even though he isn’t accustom to look on the bright side, but he doesn’t know what the next alien encounter will end with. “It’s your copy, the other Lester, that is stuck with two Baxters.”
Aaron was hoping to stumble on the caring-and-feeding-of-an-alien instruction file somewhere in this stuff. The visions in his dreams were of an alternate history Europe, and didn’t include aliens. He started wondering if his mother could help.
It is lunch on Earth 3. The food was moved back to the kitchen and the dining table was lined with hungry humans in chairs. Breakfast was hot plain or cinnamon cereal. Solman and Baxter were able to get a deer, thanks to Solman’s expert hunting and the silencer that Baxter had for his pistol. Enough of the roof funneled the sun’s light down that the strange stove could safely cook the deer meat. Baxter and Baxter took over the kitchen and prepared the food, barely talking to each other. One Baxter brings a large full platter to the table.
They eat and laugh. Brook and Lyn are more comfortable with each other and everybody has an alien joke.
Salmon is the first to bring the group back to serious conversation, “When to we leave and what do we do?”
One Baxter answers, although he was thinking about joining whatever group was the strongest. “We generally know where we are and the local countries. Even if the clothing we found here is okay, we still don’t know what languages or ethnicity of the locals.”
“We have the pictures of people in the news paper and on the boxes.” Lester replies hopefully.
“The paper is old and we don’t know it’s circulation numbers. And I don’t think you can tell the general color of people in the US by looking around a grocery store, so I guess the same goes here.” He looks around the table at people that were his employees the day before. Except for the other Baxter. Baxter sighs and was going to give an arbitrary direction. “We need to find an updated map.”
“Lyn and Brook”, the other Baxter continues, “you can use the devices to check for networks; these alien devices have a long range.”
A barely noticeable low rumble interrupted the conversation. The Baxter that was hunting earlier starts to stand up, “Salmon, I think that is just the solar collector, but how about we go for a look? The power collector might have started powering something.” The two head out of the house.
Lester puts one of the alien devices in front of him on the table. In the past he trusted Baxter to balance study of the alien artifact and keeping a necessary secret. It is hard to be mad at somebody that kept the best buffet he ever ate from then on an alien world he serves up a great deer lunch.
“Put out the kick stand on the side.” Lester pulls out a short tube and uses it to stand the device like a weird tripod.
“Brook or Lyn, which of you wants to give commands?”
After a few seconds of hesitation Lyn answers, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
“Good, I didn’t want any confusion. Can you say scan mode? In the alien language of course.”
“«scan mode»” Lyn repeats in the alien language. A holographic false color display covered most of the table, showing the cabin and about ten aches. A road starting at the cabin wonders south, broken by a railroad track. The locations of every person in the area is highlighted.
Lester stands, rocking between his toes and heals anxiously. “There is a lot hidden by the trees,” Lester mentions. “Is that a vehicle in a garage halfway to the train track?”
“Good eye,” Baxter comments. “As long as we get gone before the train brings in troops, or the jet returns, we should be able to get out of this area. Next nearest humans.” Baxter says and Lyn repeats. The hologram shifts over to the reveal a single guard by the alien artifact with a riffle. “Next nearest humans.” Baxter says again, and Lyn repeats.
“Why would we run?” Lester wants to know.
“Lets find out if they are hostile, then contact them. Lyn, can you repeat the last?” The display goes east, almost following the track for three miles, to a small hunting lodge. The jet sat outside the largest building as people went out to their vehicles. “We should carry some food to the vehicle in the shed and get out of here.”
“It might not run.”
“I have confidence that we can get it moving.”
On Earth 1 Aaron and Jet pull in front of a hotel in Great Lakes, IL. The rain pored in sheets.
“Okay, of all the places, I’m sure we won’t get tracked by the aliens to a Great Lake hotel.”
“Boot camp. I’ll except Dad’s insistent invitation to join the Navy.”
“You and the device will be safe in boot camp? Will you tell them about your sister becoming two people before vanishing in the secret lab in Canada?”
“I don’t know where my sister is.”
“Damn, your going to keep your parents in the dark about this?”
“Well damn, maybe after they tell me about the family curse handed down from at least the second world war. Take the van. Let’s keep in touch.” Aaron hops out of the van and heads to the hotel with his phone to his head. The device disguised and stowed in a bag with clothes and toiletries.
Jet switches seats and sets his GPS to his own home. He looks around the streets for secret agents then back into the van with all the hacking gear. It is time to head home. He has no idea what that alien part is, and he thinks Aaron doesn’t either.