Cheeseburger and Pizza
McKaren descended through the clouds into a rainstorm. We passed the headquarters buildings, veered left and hovered for a moment above Gramps’ workshop as the hidden opening above it slid open.
Once inside, Arn and I stepped out of McKaren and walked toward the shelves that held packaged food and bottled water.
“I know it’s only mid-afternoon,” I said, “but I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” Arn chimed in. “How did we get hungry when we weren’t working?”
“You two know where the food is. Help yourself. You’ll need the energy.”
We turned toward the sound of the voice to find that McKaren was once again a woman, actually a very attractive woman. She looked Asian, had long straight black hair, a flawless complexion and wore tightly woven black slacks and black jersey. She had to be no larger than a size three, two sizes smaller than me.
I wonder why Arn doesn’t seem to find her attractive.
Because he’s interested in you, Tammy.
“We’ll need the energy to laze around here?” Arn asked.
“I thought you two might want to eat, take a nap and then become better acquainted with the supplies stored in the storage facility,” McKaren answered.
I chose a packet labeled “cheeseburger” and helped Arn chose a packet labeled “pizza”.
“Trust me on this one, Arn. You’ll like it.”
I Love You
McKaren opened the pull-down bed.
“I’ll make myself scarce while you two rest.”
She walked around the corner and disappeared until later that evening.
Arn lay down on the bed and I lay next to him. A moment after I wrapped my arm around him, he also wrapped his arm around me. We weren’t cold. Even though Gramps’ workshop was cooler than outdoors, it was still warm.
“All you’ve seen, including McKaren and I, is a lot for you to grasp all at once, isn’t it Arn?”
“Yeah, it is. I’m still wondering if somehow I’m stuck in a dream. A beautiful woman, a flying car, a giant underground cave filled with supplies. This kind of stuff never happens on Hoth.”
“Hey. I’m here too,” I teased.
“Yeah. You’re the beautiful woman I’m talking about.”
“Do you only think of me as a beautiful woman?”
“Tammy, you are beautiful, but it’s more than that. You’re smart and you’re my friend.”
“Is that all?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Arn. That is the strangest thing to say. I’ve never told anyone that except Gramps, and now Gramps is either a car or an Asian woman.
“You’ve never loved a guy?”
“Nope, and I think loving you is a dangerous thing to do. McKaren says I’m leaving here in two years, but it sounds like you have to stay. I can’t leave you behind. If I have to, maybe it would be best for both of us if we didn’t get attached to each other.”
“I disagree. McKaren says we have two years together. Let’s make it the best two years of our lives.”
I rolled over and faced away from Arn.
“Did I say something wrong?” he asked after a few minutes.
“No. You said something right. You’re right, Arn. Let’s make it the best two years of our lives, even if we are stuck on Hoth.”
“Yeah we’re on Hoth, and we’ll still be spending our days on the surface, but we get to come here each night. Let’s don’t even think about two years from now.”
I rolled over again and put my arm around Arn. He turned my direction and we kissed. We kissed again.
“You’re wondering why we don’t do more than kiss, aren’t you?” I asked.
“Not really. I like exactly what we’re doing. This is the happiest day of my life. Why should I ask for more?”
“Thank you for understanding what I am unable to explain, Arn.”
We fell asleep in each other’s arms.
When we woke up, neither of us could figure out what time of day it was. McKaren was nowhere to be found. The clock on Gramps’ desk read nine o’clock. We weren’t sure if it was evening or morning, but guessed it must be evening, since neither of us ever slept more than six hours.
“McKaren suggested that we get better acquainted with the supplies stored next door,” I told Arn.
“Since she’s not here and there’s not much else to do, I guess we could. Did you see any books in there? Maybe I could find some books I haven’t read.”
“It’s a huge place with lots of supplies, so there may be books even though I didn’t notice any when we were in there earlier. Let’s look.”
We walked to the large door that led to the storage facility. I placed my hand on the door and it opened. We walked down the ramp into the facility and the lights turned on automatically, as before.
Arn stepped onto the device that had transported us around the facility on our previous visit.
“This is a huge place. We probably need this thing to get around.”
“Let’s walk Arn. It might be easier to find things if we’re walking instead of riding that machine.”
“Which way, Tammy?” Arn said as he stepped off the machine and walked toward me.
“Let’s go this way,” I said, turning left.
We walked along the ends of the long rows of shelves. We turned up several rows and found clothing, but no books.
“Didn’t the moving machine have a map of where everything is in here?” Arn asked.
“It did, but maybe we need to learn where things are, instead of depending on the map. I have a hunch. Let’s go to the corner ahead of us, then turn right.”
“We can barely see that far, but o.k.”
We walked what I would guess was several city blocks, found the corner of the facility and turned right, walking between shelves stacked with boxes of hats.
“Hats, hats and more hats, Tammy. We won’t remember where everything is if we spend all night walking through here.”
“Maybe not, but I’m curious about something I remember from the map on the machine.”
“What was that?” Arn asked.
“The wall at the end of this next stack of shelves on the left.”
“It’s just a blank space on the wall.”
“Maybe,” I replied. “Let’s see.”
The Hidden Door
As we approached the end of the stack of shelves on the left, we could see that something was there.
What is it?
A large, ancient wooden door stood in the space where both Arn and I were certain only a blank wall had been when we had toured the facility just hours before. A very ancient script was written above the door.
“Do you see the door, Arn?”
“Of course I see it, but it wasn’t there earlier. What does that writing above the door say?”
“Hmmm…. It looks like some forgotten language. Let’s see if the door opens and what’s on the other side.”
Arn reached out, grasped the handle and pulled with all his might. The door did not open.
“Your turn, Tammy.”
I reached out, grabbed the handle and pulled. At first the door did not budge, but then it began to creak, as if it had not been opened in thousands of years. I continued to pull on the handle and gradually the door opened.
Inside we could see nothing. The light from the room in which we stood did not penetrate the darkness of whatever lay beyond the door. I tentatively stuck my arm into the room. Nothing happened. However, we could not see my arm.
“That’s so weird. Your arm disappeared. Can you still feel it attached to you?”
“I’m wiggling my fingers and they’re still attached. Apparently there’s some sort of an invisible curtain that keeps light out of there, some kind of a force field for light.”
“Maybe, but it’s creepy. How can we know what’s lurking in there?”
“Let’s go in Arn and find out.”
“Are you crazy? We don’t know what’s in there. Maybe it’s just a big hole and we’ll fall in. Aren’t you afraid of anything?”
“No. My parents and Gramps told me I was missing the fear gene. I find the unknown a challenge that must be explored. So far that’s worked out for me.”
Mom and Dad
“Parents? I thought your parents must be dead and I didn’t want to upset you by asking what had happened.”
“My dad died from a heart attack when I was twelve, but my mom is still alive, at least in the time I come from on earth. I guess I talk about Gramps because all of this seems to relate to Gramps. My mom is interested in her house and her lady friends. Gramps’ workshop and inventions have never interested her. She thinks he is just an old man with a lot of free time on his hands.
“Mom thinks I’m not very feminine. I’ve always been interested in cars, guns, machinery, Gramps’ inventions and danger. All that scares my mom, so I’ve never bothered to tell her about a lot of it. I guess you could say that we each have our own interests. She loves quilting. I love flying.”
“You know. Or maybe you don’t. Flying aircraft.”
“Did you own an airplane?”
“No. I worked in a program as a test pilot for experimental aircraft.”
“Your mom let you do that?”
“She never knew I did it. I didn’t want to worry her. I have another job. The pilot stuff was kind of a side job. Everything was hush-hush since the aircraft were experimental. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone anything about what I was doing.
“It worked out perfect. I went off to work, mom made her quilts and no one was the wiser. When I was gone overnight I told mom I was visiting friends who lived in the mountains where they couldn’t get phone service. I was never gone more than a day or two.”
“If your pilot job was a big secret, why are you telling me?”
“Why not? I totally trust you, plus this is another time. Everything I did there is totally irrelevant to Hoth. Well, almost everything.
“What do you mean, Tammy?”
“I noticed my piloting skills came in very handy when I was in control of McKaren. The flying version of McKaren, that is.”
“I couldn’t figure out how you controlled her. All I saw you do was hold on to the thing in front of you. You never turned anything or pushed anything. Actually, there wasn’t anything for you to turn or push.”
“McKaren is a very advanced craft, Arn. We communicate mentally. She becomes an extension of my body.”
“Can I learn how to pilot her?”
“You’re plenty smart enough. McKaren could teach you, Arn. Maybe she will. That will be up to her. Hmmm. Maybe she’ll do it after I zap out of Hoth. We’ll have to ask her when we see her later.”
Stepping Into the Darkness
I removed my invisible arm from the space beyond the doorway that stood before us. My arm appeared and felt normal. Whatever lay beyond the door didn’t eat arms.
“Come on Arn, let’s go in and see what’s in there,” I said, motioning toward the darkness that lay before us. Don’t be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid,” Arn stated indignantly. “I just think it might be a bad idea. That’s all.”
“If we weren’t meant to go in, we wouldn’t have found the door and it wouldn’t have opened.”
“Maybe, but remember that it wouldn’t open for me; only for you. Maybe only you can go in there.”
“Hold my hand, Arn. We’ll go in together. If we die, we die. But I don’t think we will. McKaren said we’ll be together here for two years, working in the fields each day. McKaren has to know this door is here, and what’s inside. If it was dangerous, she’d have warned us.”
We held hands and stepped through the doorway. We stepped into nothingness. The floor had disappeared. We could see absolutely nothing.
“Hold on!” Arn screamed as he grabbed me with both hands. “We’re falling.”