Joe and Katie burst through the front door of the police station, nearly knocking over a short, heavyset, older woman holding a potted fern.
“Ah, watch it you two! Where’s the fire?”
“Oh, sorry, we didn’t see you there.”
“And there’s no fire.”
“I didn’t mean it literally, young lady.”
The woman put the plant down carefully and picked up a silver watering can from the floor. She walked in measured, patient steps to the next pot, a cactus sitting about five feet further down the hall. The two intruders could only follow her. Katie’s patience burned short.
“We need to talk to a couple of cops, right now.”
“Oh yeah? Why’s that? Did you see a crime?”
“Well, no, but…”
“Then why do you need to see a cop?”
“It’s a matter of life and death.”
The woman gave a bored look at Katie, and continued her watering.
“It always is.”
“Officer Martin, it is really critical that we talk to, um, what were their names Joe?”
“Eli and Walt.”
“First names, huh? They you’re buddies?”
“Ma’am, officer, please. It really is very important. Are they on duty right now? Please.”
The officer looked at Joe, and grumbled.
“Yeah, they’re still out there. Their shift doesn’t end for a couple hours yet, so they should be on patrol somewhere right now.”
“Can you call them? Please, I have to talk to them.”
“What is this about?”
Joe looked at Katie, who started blurting the last thing she should have.
“It’s about an alie…”
“It’s about an al-earlier visit they paid to my house. I have some new info to tell them about the case.”
The stout woman sighed, unimpressed, but walked back around a partition to sit at what was likely her desk. Joe leaned in to Katie.
“Sorry to interrupt you, but I don’t think that two people screaming about aliens at three in the morning will bring about the kind of help we need.”
She shrugged an acceptance, and they both looked to the officer who now held a small black radio receiver in her hand.
“Eli, Walt, you guys copy? 10-4.”
The room was silent.
“Eli, Walt, copy. 10-4.”
“I don’t know, they’re not in their car. Maybe they’re investigating something. Why don’t you guys go home and try again later today. It can’t be that important.”
“It really is.”
“I’m sure, but they ain’t responding. So, rather than stay here getting in my way, you really need to get out of here.”
The two looked at one another, but neither could formulate anything additional to say to the policewoman. They turned to head out the front, but in the process were nearly knocked down by a pair just coming through.
“Whoa, sorry there. Oh, hiya Joe. What are you doing here?”
Eli held a cup of coffee in each hand and walked to Officer Martin’s desk, settling one there. Walt stood before the pair, awaiting an answer.
A red-haired soldier stepped inside the door of the building and addressed the Major.
“Sir, the plane should be landing in about thirty minutes. Should we begin to assemble for departure?”
Erke looked at the man, shocked that a variety of human came colored so similar to him. Even though it was only his hair, the alien still wondered if some sort of cross-breeding had been at work in his design.
“Fine Sergeant, thank you. We’ll get ready to leave.”
The messenger glanced at Erke, who continued staring his way. He turned on his heels and exited the facility, suddenly sweating.
“Men, we’re going to take the wagon out to BRW. Four of you will accompany me and our visitor-friend here in the back, while another two of you will sit up front. The rest of you will stay here with the ship. We will be heading out to meet the plane and transfer the pr…er, Erke to the arriving group.”
Erke watched the men stir, and his uneasiness began to swell. The reality of his situation was abundantly clear, and he felt he needed to try something to alter the path that seemed imminent.
The military man held a clipboard before his eyes and didn’t look up from it to reply.
“This planet has, um, laws right?”
The major gave the board to a smaller man to his right, and looked straight into the pale white eyes to answer.
“Of course. Well, our nation does. Can’t really vouch for the whole of the planet, naturally.”
Erke struggled to grasp this concept, but stumbled forward anyway.
“Sure, naturally. So, aren’t there laws in place that would, um, prevent you from taking me somewhere? Against my will?”
“Well, we have the right to detain people, or whoever, that may be dangerous to the population at large.”
“But I’m not dangerous. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“You might, though.”
“I…guess you can say that. However, anyone could be dangerous. You might be, yourself.”
The Major started to answer, but stopped himself. Instead, he just exhaled deeply and crossed his arms.
“Erke, we have laws in place to do what we’re doing. I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to trust me.”
There were plenty of things Erke trusted, but this man was not anywhere on that list. He thought about his home planet and the laws in place as he understood them. Surely, on Shifka, they couldn’t do this. Could they?
Erke had heard complaints about those that enforced the law, and how they took liberties from time to time with how and when to apply it. At one point, he had assumed his world wouldn’t allow such activity anymore. However, eventually, he accepted that those concerns must be coming from some very real events.
The Major and his troops prepped the ambulance for the trip. Erke watched, and considered the oppression of his planet’s past. His mind drifted back to his childhood, and the hero that he so admired. He closed his eyes and remembered Elonjea.