FanFic - Other
"Hide the Earth"
Part 1
by Sundari
Disclaimer: I own my will, and nothing else.
Summary: This is a text book example of what happens when a person reads far too much fan fiction far too late at night. One of the lines in this is stolen accidently from a different piece of fan fiction, so just choose your favorite sentence and attribute it to another author. This seems like the type of short story to need an explanation. All it really consists of are Max's thoughts returning to Earth. Of course, that's assuming one thing: He agreed the offer Nicholas put forth in 'Max in the City', Season 2. So Tess, Rath, Lonnie, and he all went back to their home planet. Tess dies, and Rath and Lonnie are not mentioned at all. Thank you and good night.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
I said yes. Once, long ago, in answer to a question that seemed overwhelming. Perhaps, if I had said no, everything would be different. Perhaps not. I pace within the ship, my footsteps ringing out against the unbreakable metal. I am alone. Would I be alone still if I had said no? These questions plague me, and I think they will haunt me even after my death. It it only fitting that I should suffer eternally, after causing so many others to suffer needlessly. I wonder now if the right answer was always clear to me, if I simply chose to ignore it until it was too late for any of us. I often wonder if that would make my decision any better. It's astonishing how much time one has to wonder when one is all alone. Doubts, worries, hallucinations; all have floated before my eyes in these past years. Five, I think. Or perhaps another millennia has come and gone, and left me. All this, I think, because I said yes.

Earth is beautiful. I am caught in orbit, watching the swirling white of the clouds as they spin over the seas. Why did we ever look to the skies for answers, when home lay around our feet? The dust that spanned a desert, the gritty rocks, defiant as they stand for so long against nature's way. These things, I tell myself, will be my return to home. To enjoy the soft grass curling in between my toes as I twirl beneath a thousand fireflies, my hands outstretched to keep me balanced. Then I realize that I may never return home, for these pleasures are forever lost to me. How ironic, that the idyllic picture that was for so long my strength, seems farthest away when it is almost achieved. Then I think of those who trusted me, like the dizzy children chasing fireflies that I dream of, and I remember how they were cut down by an enemy who cared no more for life than they did their souls. And then it comes to me, and I must wonder, did they even have souls? Or is that yet another invention unique to this ignorant planet below me? Do I still have a soul? When I was young, and one of my aunts had been killed in a crash, my mother told me that the souls of the dead were changed to butterflies, each beautiful in their own way. I believed her, for a time. If it is true, then I was turned to a butterfly long ago, for I have died a thousand deaths since I left this planet. Still, it is as lovely to me as it ever was, for I see it through the eyes of someone who has lost the race but is yet given the prize. Perhaps that is what makes it beautiful.

I know why the caged bird sings. I had read that, an eternity ago. Another sweet phrase with no true meaning that kept my tired mind awake. It was a lie. I know that now, for certain, the caged bird does not sing. They die. Slowly, I think, so that others can not tell, but a little more each day. I suppose, even now, that I could be wrong. Mayhap they do sing. Mayhap they see freedom through the bars on their prisons, and they sing the songs of the slaves from long ago. I could not say, for I know only the former to be true, and the walls of my cell were of my own making. I am not dead yet, though all the rest are. They sang, I am sure, hoping for freedom, hoping in me, and did not see that to trust in me was to drop the net over their own heads. If I call them back, will they sing for me again?

The ship must land soon. The filters are worn, and soon there will be no air left in the cabin. The military will worry, for I am unidentified. Things out of our control have always frightened us. It took me five years to see that nothing was truly in our control to begin with. A war, a planet, a people, were all so far beyond my reach. But I grasped at them anyhow, and only found myself falling as I missed. I take the helm and maneuver through the atmosphere, my worn hands skittering over the panels that direct the ship. It functions on crystals, I think. Honestly, I don't believe I ever cared. No, that's wrong. I cared once, in another life, a different place. Now, a milky stain covers my hand, an acid that was barely kept from taking my fingers, and a stain of a more permanent sort covers my heart. I do not know what color or texture it is, for death is an invisible stain. Why, when I so wish to be dead, am I the only one left alive? Why do I bother to land?

I lie to myself. I say such things as, Everything will be all right, and, It was one mistake. They are lies of comfort, but deep within myself, somewhere, I know that they are true. As I land behind the same rock outcropping that held me as a child, I know that one mistake can lead to a ending, and that eventually it will be all right. Because I see that eventually I will no longer care at all, and right and wrong will cease to exist. It has not happened yet, though I thought it would. I waited for it, night after night, hoping that apathy would greet me in my dreams and stay with me. I thought sometimes that I did not care, but then another died and I began to hurt just as before. It was akin to a person that thinks they are insane. They can not truly be insane, of course, or they would not have the sensibility to think it. But what sane person would believe otherwise about themselves? When I asked them such things, they only stared at me. They did not understand. I do not wish to understand, and so I lie to myself still.

The desert is cold. And empty. At one time I would have thought it appropriate for a return such as this, for death leaves the body cold and empty. But death is something else. For with the chill of the body comes the warmth of the blood that leaves it. You can feel no such warmth when it churns beneath the skin. The wind blows back my hair as I build up the rock around the ship, running my hand over it to cloak the alien device. My hair is long now, almost to my shoulders, and I keep the top up and back so I can see. It does not help, for now that I can see I do not wish to. The desert is dark, and I think perhaps that is the color of my butterfly. I have covered the ship with rock, and watch with dry amusement as the army jets cruise slowly overhead, searching for things that do not belong. I want to raise my arms and shout that I am what they search for, I am what does not belong. I have felt that way since I was born, but now it is not because I am an alien. It is because I am no longer a human. And as I realize that, I shiver. It is only because the desert is cold.

My feet are bare. The sand does not cut them, for the calluses are too thick for rock to penetrate. My arms are bare, too, and I am left in worn black pants and the very top of an elaborate royal robe. The noble designs are gone, and the sleeves have shredded over time. The part that flowed past my waist was torn off by the guards that tried to catch me. It had been a nice robe. For an execution, it was a fine affair. Everyone was dressed so beautifully, it almost seemed like a wedding. The sorrow on their faces was so sincere, I would have been fooled. I would have been, if not for the tensing of every nerve on my body. I didn't think I would run. I wanted to die, but my body refused. As I walk toward the road, I realize it has always refused. The night sky guided me when I was young, led me in my quests, showed me my directions. I do not need it any longer, for it is only my memories that lead me to the highway. I think my foot is bleeding.

There's a car driving down the road. Maybe I am finally ambivalent, for I find myself uncaring that I am in a place I longed to be for five hard years, but then I remember that is impossible, for if I was truly indifferent I would not think of it. The car is slowing down as it approaches me, and I can see by the moonlight that the car is official. I think briefly of my scarred body, my unwashed hair, the torn clothes I wear, but I can not even bring my hands up to straighten my shirt, if you could call it that. The tinted window rolls down and I stop walking, because if I do not they'll only follow me. Sheriff Valenti peers out from the other side of the car, his unneeded sunglasses in his left hand. I knew him, many lifetimes past, and he was a good man. A kind man, who fate did not seem to like. But fate hates us all. "What are you doing out so late at night, sir?" he asks in a brusque and distant tone, and I am suddenly aware that he does not know me. It makes sense, in a way, because I am no longer me, but I am still surprised. His hair has grayed, and his open face holds a few more lines, words written in the book of his life.

"Walking," I reply, for it is the truth and I have no other answer. But like all that I say, it is half a lie. I am dreaming, I am dying, I am closing my eyes. My voice is hoarse, and cracked, like that of a man that has been too long without water, but it has been many words since I have used it. My voice, like my mind, has grown tired of speaking. I suppose my heart is the only piece of me left with a voice. If only I could still hear what it says.

I knew he was a kind man. He opens the door that leads to an empty chair, offering, "Get in. I'll give you a ride. It's too late at night to be walking out here." I am grateful, I think, as I slide onto the soft material and close the door with the smooth handle. It has been so long since I have felt anything. "Where are you headed?" he wonders in a quick, uncaring sort of way. I know he does care, but I am not glad of that as I would have been. There was a fairytale, once upon a time, with a happy ending. I am the fairytale after the end has gone, and there is no happily ever after left to us.

"Roswell," I tell him, for it is as much my destination as any. I do not ask myself where I am truly headed, for I know the answer lies in the stain of death and the midnight blackness of the sky. He nods, and sets down his glasses that he may steer with both hands. I am thankful that he is silent, for I have been surrounded by silence so long. Each noise is an elation, the drone of engine and the static of the radio, but I feel nothing and know that such feelings are wrong. What is it that you are supposed to feel when you suddenly see that you try to find a home that exists no longer? I rest my head against the window, as the car driving down the road tries to take me home.

The city still exists. That's a ridiculous thought, and I know it, but I can not control my thoughts. It is a simple comment, just a fact, based on the lights that I see shining on the horizon.. Light is an interesting thing, when you think of how everything we see is a mere reflection of something else, and it is how it reflects that changes how we see it. It makes you wary of what you believe is right in front of you. Valenti is watching me, but I am not worried. He will not recognize me, for I am not the same person. I am simply wearing the skin of a person who died in a war. I am the child of a ruse believed, the casualty of a war without a cause. I am the caged bird that dies day by day. My hands lie flat on my knees, pockmarked and trampled as a battle field. You can see the tendons in them clearly, and the muscles on my arms are more defined. I am hard, for they say that war makes one a man. It has not done that. All that war has made me is less of a man than I never was. Another simple lie that I had believed, consumed by a complex truth that I had fought hard against. The lights grow brighter as we pass by the first few, and my body wants to shield my eyes from the bright glare. My palms stay flat along my knees, and for the first time I have refused my body its commands. Perhaps now I have control over something, even if it is only myself. And above and around us, the city still exists.

He keeps driving. The Sheriff. Up empty streets and turning quiet corners as though he has a destination other than the one I gave. I take a moment to wonder if he is delivering me to the police, the government, to experiment on me. Then I must take a moment to wonder if I will resist. I no longer fear the government, and their weapons of pain. Pain such as their's is only skin deep, and I have suffered flames from the fires of hell. Then he turns down a different street, and I find myself recognizing it. It is strange to know a place that has never seen you before, I think, for this town has yet to meet me. Why is he taking this road, I wonder, then I let the subject slip from my mind because it is not important. I have to wonder, though, because I believe that if I stop wondering I will die. Fall off my perch to the ground, the climax of an existence in vain. Death no longer scares me, though I pretend it does. I have told myself both so many times I can not remember which is the lie. He stops in front of a dark building in a sea of dark buildings, for it is late. I did not think he knew me. "Here you are, son," he tells me in the same quick, uncaring voice. But I know he does care. He called me son. Others have called me son, have called me many names that should have meant everything but meant nothing at all. I did not think he knew me, but his eyes saw past my lies. I wonder what reflection of light he has seen that shows me as I once was. I wish that I could see the same. He says nothing else as I climb slowly out of the official car, for I have not been fast in my movements for many months now. When I have closed the metal door with the black handle he nods to me. I was a man that would have understood him once, and known why he nods. That man has died, and I no longer see the message in his blue eyes. But I also nod, and he accepts what the light reflects. It must not show him my confusion. Then he has done his part, and he keeps driving.

My mind and body are silent. I can not hear my heart, though it may scream. I wonder what the building will tell me, with its large dark windows that taunt me with the memories they have seen. Barefoot and silent I tread past the windows that know me, that see me because they do not accept images, but only reflect them away. There is a ladder, and my body knows the ladder, and my mind knows that it is a ladder, and my heart knows that the path is one of light and love. This is a good thing, I know, and I wonder what light and love feel like. They are a fairytale thing, and the story ended long ago. I reach the top of the ladder, and I am lost from the path in a memory the windows do not know. Of a young man dying, telling his companion that he will survive to find the one who loves him. Will she love what you've become, the companion asks. It does not matter, I suppose, for that man died anyhow. I am not him. I wish it, sometimes, though. I wish to know these airy things of life that he once understood so well. I have tread the path now, and stand straight on a balcony. There is another window, but it glows with light from inside. I wonder if that is what love is like, light glowing from inside. There is a girl inside. I remember that girl. It is wrong to know a girl that has never met you. It is wrong to trick her with your face. If I had said no, I wonder, would she know me? She turns, now, and her gaze finds mine through the glowing window. I see her mouth fall in astonishment, and I can read her emotions in her dark brown eyes. Hesitancy, and doubt. Those are things I understand, even now. Then the glowing window is open and the girl is on the balcony. She runs her hand across my stubbled cheek, and I wonder if she would love who that young man has become. Who I've become. Then her eyes glow like the window behind her, and she presses her lips against mine, lips softer than the grass that I wished so hard for once, long ago. And I realize suddenly that the home I thought was dead is with her, and that I have no butterfly because my soul is still within. And that she loves who I have become. Then I know love, and I am left with nothing left to wonder. But I know now that my only truth is one I can no longer understand. And I fear that if I stop wondering I will die. The caged bird dies day by day, but I can finally see why it sings. And I can hear my heart, though my mind and body are forever silent.

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