“Here are your papers, and your keys.” The real estate agent smiled happily at Mary Lou. “I am so glad you found a nice home that you like, while fitting it into your budget.”
Driving away, she shrugged her shoulders. Another buyer for the house, and perhaps another mysterious disappearance; it was not her concern. Her job was to keep the house occupied. Where her payment for each sale came from was unknown to her. She just knew that for the past twenty-four months, when the housing market collapsed and the original owners disappeared, she had an open contract appear on her desk whenever the house emptied.
Mary Lou, meanwhile, self-consciously glanced around the yard and up the street. No one was in sight, so she gave a happy jig and skipped up the sidewalk. She had bought the house fully equipped; the previous owners had left everything except their clothing. This was not uncommon; many sneaking away from debts were known to flee quickly. Opening the door, she smiled. It was as lovely as she remembered. Flicking the switch, she verified the lights were on. A quick tour by the kitchen sink verified the water company had received the word about the turn-on of that utility, as well.
Ordering a pizza delivery, Mary Lou began unpacking the things she had brought with her. A first-time homeowner, she did not have much to sort through. Perhaps that was the best part of the buying process, she mused dreamily. Everything was in its place, with just a few things of her own to add to the mix.
She was unsure what had led her to this home, but was extremely glad to be in residence.
After the pizza arrived, she sat down on the couch to watch the hockey game. Yet another thing that had surprised her, the Dish network was paid ahead for another two years, with complete game packages for every sport! The events of the day, a full tummy, and an uninspiring game between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings added to an urge to nap, and soon her eyes closed, as she sighed happily.
A gentle nudge to her dream had Mary Lou sitting up straight. A light was beaming from the floorboards, and a shadowy figure wavered in and out of the shimmer. “Mary Lou, are you awake now?” asked a voice.
Nodding assent, Mary Lou glanced around to be certain she was awake.
Nervously, she asked the form, “Is there something I can do to help you?” With a deep sigh, the form started moving towards her, although she sensed no malice in its actions.
“Do you recall any sort of odd feeling when you found this house, Mary Lou?” came the question. Again, she nodded confirmation. “Mary Lou, it is because we believe you are the one who can help us all,” the form continued. “My name is Tingra, and I, with my brothers and sisters, are trapped on your Earth. We want to go home. Will you help us?”
Sadly, Tingra outlined the story of their mighty ship, which had crashed and embedded itself deep in the ground below where the house stood. The people were able to escape, but had no means to get back to their own solar system. Even with their long life span and their attempts to advance the space program across the world, things were progressing too slowly for them. The elders, such as Tingra, were anxious to go home. Those who had been born among the people of Earth were not interested in leaving; they felt they were at home. He finished by telling Mary Lou of the different people who had come to live at this house, but had refused to help, and were sent away to equivalent housing while a cooperative person was found.
Mary Lou had never regarded herself as extraordinary, and asked Tingra what was needed. Tingra explained that the house had the ability to transport all those wishing to leave to their home planet, but they needed a person who believed with every fiber of his or her soul that it was the right thing to do. That person would provide the key to the transfer, driving the powerful ship/house to its destination. “I understand,” Mary Lou said, “but how do I get back to Earth?”
Tingra turned away, and then faced her once more. “Mary Lou,” he said, “We do not know. We cannot make any promises or even speculate, because we must also totally believe that what we are doing is the right thing. If you cannot accept that we do not know, and believe that whatever happens is meant to be, you cannot help us. This I can promise, though, I am here to protect you. I will give my life before I allow anything to harm you.”
Mary Lou thought a moment and then replied, “Tingra, I have no family. I haven’t gotten a cat or dog yet because I knew I would be moving. My job, though a good one, can be replaced. I believe you and your people deserve to be home. I will be honored to help you.”
Glowing more brightly, Tingra smiled. “Thank you, Mary Lou. We are ready to go now. You may stay where you are for the journey; please hold this key, though, and no matter what, do not let it go. You will see many strange things, for we cannot project any form other than our natural one once we are underway.”
Mary Lou accepted the key and said a short prayer for a safe journey. To her surprise, Tingra joined her in prayer. “We also recognize a deity,” he confirmed. An unsettling feeling surrounded her as the house began to lift into the air. Through windows and doors came others like Tingra, calling greetings as they met one another for the first time in years. Outside on the street remained his kin, born of Earth and committed to Earth. “Be brave,” he told them, “and remember us.” Then the house shot up and away from the Earth, leaving the atmosphere so quickly that it was unbelievable. A UFO Satellite circling the Earth picked it up for a millisecond; ground crews around the world shook it off as a glitch, since whatever caused it was leaving, not arriving.
“I regret,” said Tingra, “that you are not able to see our journey. Space is spectacular, but we are anxious to get home.”
“Thank you,” said Mary Lou. “Tell me, when do you anticipate arrival?”
“Our best estimate is ten more minutes,” Tingra replied, “although it has been some years since we last encountered space travel, and we are unsure of our reception. The house has been designed to look like the ship that we lost.” Hesitating, he added, “Mary Lou, you will be our receiver. Sound impulses will come through you. Do not be afraid when it happens; I am with you. I will give my life before I allow anything to harm you. ” Smiling, Mary Lou nodded understanding. To this point, nothing had occurred to cause her concern.
At that moment, she felt a tightening in her chest. “Tingra,” she called softly. Tingra took her hand to reassure her. Then Mary Lou began talking. “Welcome back, Tingra and clan. You have been gone many years and we have missed you. It is good to have you home.” Clutching the key frantically, Mary Lou began shaking. “It is strange being a radio,” she told Tingra.
“Continue, my good friend, to be strong. It is almost over, ” Tingra reassured Mary Lou. To his home planet, Tingra explained the situation, ending by asking if there was a way to return Mary Lou to her home. A hesitant silence and then a confirmation was received, with instructions to land first. The house gently settled on a landing pad and shut itself down.
A throng of shimmering beings cheered outside. When Tingra stepped outside the door, the cheers turned into a roar as people dropped to one knee, sobbing softly in relief of the party arriving home. “Please,” Tingra urged, “stand back up. We are here, and we are free.”
One man stepped forward and bowed. “Your majesty,” he began, “we felt we would never see you again. However, we never lost hope, and now we are glad that we waited for your return. What would you have us to about the kind person who accompanied you to our world?”
“Zephia,” responded Tingra, “we must see her home. She was willing to give up everything to see that we arrived safely, and we can do no less for her.”
Zephia smiled and held up three diagrams. Bidding Mary Lou to look, he explained how each ship worked. “The ship you choose,” he continued, “will become your home. Where you go, it will take you. It will protect you from harm, and even return you here someday, if that is your wish.” Having made a selection, Mary Lou received a number of hugs from the beings she had helped bring home. Last was King Tingra, who took her aside from the others.
“Mary Lou,” he explained, “part of my soul is returning with you. If anything ever threatens you, I will be there to protect you. I would give my life to keep you from harm. Go peacefully, keep your faith, and if you should ever decide to return, hold the key. It will guide you.” Another hug, and Mary Lou was on her way in the new ship she had chosen. Silently, it arrived in the dark of night and settled in. Resting before the stat of day, Mary Lou awakened to a pounding at the door.
Glancing outside, she saw the real estate agent. Had it really been less than a day? Opening the door, she smiled and said “Good morning.”
The agent looked curiously at her and asked how the home had been changed so quickly from its appearance the day before. Smiling, Mary Lou answered, “Oh, I had some friends stop by and give me a hand with the changes. They’re great friends – they would even give their life to protect me!”
An original story by the author on 10-15-10