He traveled alone.
No planet was his home.
The vast reaches of space held no limits, for he was free. Completely free of
any encumbrances, free to go where he pleased, to do what pleased him most.
Nothing bound him nor restrained him in any way. He had chosen freedom after the
Separation, after knowing unification but nothing more.
The Other had chosen challenge. She desired to expose Her beingness to the diverse array of experiences the universe had to offer. She was an explorer. Her desire had been to know what it was to be separated, to be a fragment, to undergo unlimited physical lifetimes in order to understand the purpose of it all.
And in so doing, he had granted Her that desire, and had experienced separation in his own way. Yet he always knew that one day She would return to him. When She grew weary of the game, perhaps, or when the great cosmic clock had come full circle, the waves of time would pull the two drifting soul-halves together.
He didn't know what it was. Perhaps it was his own thought to beckon Her back, for he had waited an eternity. A nagging urgency prompted him to find Her. It was as though something deep within him knew when She was ready to join him again.
A stimulus from an unknown source began to prick at the inner core of his being. ”Go home,” It prompted.
"Where is home?" he asked. "I have no home. I travel the universes."
"Look within," said the Voice.
"Who are you?" he demanded. "And why should I listen to you? I am free.’"
"Yes, you are free," it said, "but what have you gained?"
He thought for a moment. "Nothing," he admitted. "I have gained nothing. But I am free!"
"Then if it has fulfilled you, go on as you were," the Voice told him. "You are free. It is your choice."
"What are you talking about?" he cried. But the Voice had left him. Now he was disturbed. Before, he had been free of any such feelings, but the Voice had spoken to him and left him with unanswered questions.
What had it meant when it talked of fulfillment? What was there to gain except a whole lot of complications and trouble? He had observed. He had watched many lives living on many planets in many galaxies. He had seen a whole lot of trouble and had wanted nothing to do with any of it.
He tried over and over to forget the intruding Voice. But now there was a growing ache from within. As it grew stronger and his thoughts began to stray, he realized it was Her. He missed Her. He began to remember what it had been like when they had been one, and his thoughts could focus on only one thing: It was time to find Her and go home.
Blake Dobbs sat on the end of his bed, near the window. A warm spring breeze rippled the maroon curtains as he gazed out into the night. The traffic from downtown was a constant blend of noise and a neighbor’s yapping dog made him wonder who was walking the streets. He longed to be out with his buddies, reveling in the cool night air with the delicious freedom of school being out.
Around his room were scattered half a dozen boxes, most of them empty. Frowning,
he reached for his guitar and pulled it onto his lap as he sat back against the
wall and began to pick out a tune.
Footsteps from the hallway stopped at his bedroom door. Dorothy Dobbs, clad in blue jeans and a sweatshirt, stood with her hands on her hips. Her dark brown hair was gathered up in a ponytail as her green eyes flashed. "Blake! You're supposed to be packing. The movers will be here first thing in the morning!"
Blake rubbed an eye and sighed. He was tall like his mother, but with light-colored hair that graced his shoulders. He wore a simple gold earring on his left lobe. "Mom, why do we have to move? I don't want to leave my friends."
"We've already discussed why," said his mother. "Now put down that guitar.’"
Blake groaned in protest, but leaned the guitar up against the window. "Nobody cares what I think anymore," he muttered as he stood up. "Just because Dad's friends are all moving, I don't see why we have to."
"Blake! Get packing," ordered Dorothy. "I don't have time to argue with you. I have to get Kelly's things together too." She left and Blake could hear his sister's voice whining from the other end of the house.
"She never has time to argue with me," Blake grumbled to himself as he started pulling things out from under his bed and tossing them haphazardly into the boxes. "In fact, she never has time to do anything with me anymore." Bitterly he tossed a dirty sock that was encased in a dust clod toward the door.
He didn't want to move to Colorado. He had spent all of his sixteen years in
this house -- in this city -- and now they were moving. Sure, lots of his
friends over the years had moved, many of them more than once. But this had been
so abrupt. Just last week his father had announced that the time had come and
they had to leave DeKalb. It was no longer safe, he had said. He remembered the
wild look of ecstasy in his mother's eyes when Dad had divulged that he had been
told where to go and that they were moving to a small town on the Western Slope
of the Rocky Mountains.
Blake knew it wouldn't have been so bad if Dad had received a work transfer like his friends' fathers did. But Dad didn't work for a company or a government agency that transferred their employees. Dad was a counselor for people who claimed they had been abducted by extraterrestrials. It was difficult enough trying to explain to your friends what your parents did for a living, but it was worse yet when they explained that the space people were telling them to move.
For most of his years Blake had never minded being the son of Manley and Dorothy Dobbs of the UFO Contact Center in DeKalb, Illinois. He had grown up with lots of different people around, most of them extremely nice, seemingly intelligent, who didn't seem abnormal or the least bit crazy. They were, for the most part, no different from so-called normal folks. Some, of course, had been more memorable than others. The years had been good and Blake had been content, outgoing and friendly. He was popular at school and had discovered early in his life that music was an important part of him.
He recalled the piano that his father cherished. It was stored in a small room
by itself and as a small boy Blake had been told many times that to touch it was
a "no no." Somehow that sacred instrument that never got used had drawn him with
a fascination until he would find opportunities to sneak into the forbidden room
to sit at it and run his tiny fingers over the polished wood. Once he was strong
enough to open the keyboard cover, he began toying with the ivory keys. His
mother would come rushing in to scold him. Yet he'd return again and again, and
one evening he played a song that he had picked out of his head. He was
surprised to look up and find both his parents gaping at
him in wonder.
From that time on, Blake had been permitted to not only play his Aunt Jo's piano, but they sent him to a private music teacher for lessons. Blake's love for music had mushroomed and he was now not only first-chair trumpet in the high school band, but a strong member of the jazz band with his electric guitar, and he even gave his own private guitar lessons to junior high kids.
Blake had often wondered what had been so special about Aunt Jo's piano. Aunt Jo had been Dad's younger sister who had toured as a concert pianist. Dad said he used to go on tour with her, and that they had been very close until Aunt Jo went away.
"Where did she go?" Blake once asked his parents.
Then Mom and Dad would glance at one another with that look that said, "Should we tell him?" But they never did. Blake knew they were keeping the truth from him. It was perfectly clear that there was some mystery with regard to Aunt Jo's disappearance.
Blake's guess was that poor Aunt Jo was locked away in some insane asylum somewhere. They had told him that she had suffered a mental breakdown and had to be committed. But he didn't understand why his father never visited her, if he cared as much as he said. Obviously the piano was evidence of the high regard he held for this beautiful and talented aunt whose photograph was displayed on the piano. Blake often thought of her and wondered what she had been like.
When he was ten years old, Blake's sister was born. He remembered that his mother had suffered a lot during the pregnancy. His parents hadn't been that young when Blake was born. To have another child ten years later had been unexpected, and then all the more troubling due to the fact that Kelly had been born with Downs Syndrome. She was mentally retarded and, although not severe, she required a lot of attention, which changed things considerably in the Dobbses' household.
It seemed that suddenly all the time his parents had spent on Blake now went to Kelly. His mother, in particular, became devoted to the little girl and she stopped helping Manley at the UFO Contact Center. This meant that his father had to spend more time at the center, and in the last couple of years the increase in people seeking help had grown so that it seemed as if Manley was never home.
At first Blake had been resentful of his baby sister getting all the attention. If it hadn't been for his music, all that anger might have resulted in damaging his self-image. Fortunately, a close friend of his dad's, a psychiatrist friend, had seen that Blake was unhappy and had befriended him. Barbara Wetzel had been a family friend for years and helped Blake through his crisis months, steering him more toward his music and encouraging him to express his feelings.
Eventually he found solace in activities at school and discovered that he was a naturally likable person and enjoyed socializing. This was why the sudden move away from everything he enjoyed was so difficult. He was stable and secure, yet now his parents wanted to uproot him and plant him upon foreign soil. It wasn't fair.
Blake looked out the window into the night as he pushed a box full of guitar magazines toward the corner. Tree branches and city lights prevented him from viewing the starry sky. He often watched the sky, looking for unusual lights. He believed in UFOs, of course. The family used to go on sky watches out in the country at night and sometimes Mom or Dad would point out a strange moving light. Mom told him of the time before she met Dad, when she and a friend had been driving through Nebraska at night and had seen a UFO. She said the aliens on board had stopped her and taken her on their ship. Dad had been present at the hypnotic regression in which she recalled being examined and attended by strange-looking beings with large heads and big slanted eyes.
The story had always intrigued Blake and he had no reason to doubt his mother's story. The fact that there were spaceships from beyond and extraterrestrials among the people on Earth was as natural to him as anything he had been taught in school. Yet there were many who remained in denial. Some of the kids at school tried to make fun of him and his parents' work. Most people he met were fairly open-minded and had experienced a UFO sighting at the very least. But the disbelievers could be cruel and even hostile.
Blake had gotten into some fights over the years, particularly with two brothers who came from a strict religious family and claimed that the ships carried agents of the devil and that anyone who sympathized with ETs was in league with Satan and would go straight to hell. Blake had no reason to think there were evil aliens flying around. If so, why hadn’t they taken control of Earth long ago?
Blake longed to have his own encounter with someone from space, yet he'd never tell that to any of his friends. He had his own beliefs, but he kept them to himself. As long as he wasn't considered too weird, his friends accepted him. He found that avoiding the topic was in his favor, and yet deep inside he longed to see and experience something as fantastic as his parents. Dad often hinted that he, too, had experienced some extraordinary events, but he never discussed these with Blake. When asked, Manley would dismiss the question with a wink and a change of subject. Even Barbara Wetzel seemed to be in on some wonderful secret she shared with his parents.
"Blake, are you making any progress in there?" It was Dad this time who stood at the doorway. Manley Dobbs was almost completely bald at sixty-one. Despite his age, he was remarkably fit and had lost some pounds, thanks to a change in diet and lifestyle after meeting his wife. He wore dark slacks and a blue sweater as he stood looking around the room.
"I dunno," grumbled Blake.
"Better get those posters off the wall," said Manley.
His dad came into the room and sat down on the bed. "I realize you're not happy about this move."
Blake shrugged and continued packing.
"You're sixteen now," continued Manley. "I think it's time for you to know a few things. After all, you're almost a man."
Blake scrunched up his face. "Dad, spare me. I know everything there is to know about the birds and bees."
Manley laughed and slapped his knee. "I don't doubt that," he said. "But I'm not talking about where babies come from. Son, your mother and I have talked, and we've decided the time has come to disclose some things we think you should know."
"What kind of things?" Blake's curiosity piqued.
Manley rubbed his chin. "About our family, for one," he said. Then he stood up to leave. "But not tonight."
"Then ... when?"
"Tomorrow, when we're driving to Colorado," Manley said with a sly smile as he walked out of the room.
Blake stared after him, puzzled. Why did he have the feeling that come tomorrow, things were never going to be the same?
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