Codename: TABASCO (M/M, ALL, TEEN) Ep 112 - 01/01/2007

The best couples in t.v. land are all here in original fiction about Max, Liz, Michael, Maria and the rest of the Roswell gang!
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Codename: TABASCO (M/M, ALL, TEEN) Ep 112 - 01/01/2007

Post by isndbreeze » 10/25/06 16:51

Codename: TABASCO
(The Awesome Background And Secret Chronicles Of Michael Guerin)

Episode 111

Things That Go Bump In The Night

(Into The Woods)


Frasier Woods. You remember Frasier Woods, don't you, Alex? I thought as much. I recall seeing several red marks on you after the, uh, camping trip. You tried to hide them, but…

“Those were mosquito bites.”

No, I know mosquito bites.

“Okay, so I pinched myself… several times… to make sure I was awake. Hey, I was watching the stars with Isabel! I wanted to be sure it wasn't just another dream. I guess, maybe, I got a little carried away.”

Yeah… SOMEBODY did. Do you always pinch yourself on the neck? Or, uh, under your shirt maybe… or anywhere else?

“She did not! I mean… I did not… not that I would ever tell you about it… if it ever did happen.”

Just checking. So getting back to my story.

“I think I'd like to hear more of their story, Guerin.”

Ask Isabel and Alex about it, Kyle.

(Isabel shook her head, and Kyle let out a melodramatic huff) “If you're gonna tease me and then leave out all the good parts, Guerin, I'm outta here!”

You're not going anywhere, Kyle. You still want to know about my secret past. Now where were we? Oh yeah! The incident in Frasier Woods. There was a lot of heat lightning in the sky, but some hikers saw this really bright white light that they suspected wasn't just heat lightning. The Sheriff was informed, and Milton, the owner of the UFO Museum before Brody Davis bought it, heard it on the police scanner. Milton was always listening in on the police radio, because he knew the Sheriff wasn't going to tell him about it if anything “alien-related” ever happened. Right away, Milton sensed that the bright light was important. So did Jim. Milton told Max, because Max was working for him in the museum, and Max told me and Isabel. We realized that we had to get there before either Jim or Milton did and find out what it was.

As luck would have it, our school was having a father-son campout in Frasier Woods that weekend, so Max and Isabel decided to go and take their dad… so they'd have an excuse, just in case Jim saw them and asked what they were doing there. Liz then decided to go camping, too… with her dad… because she was following Max; and Maria went, because, well, Liz wanted her to; and Alex went with his dad… to be near Isabel. It was all real cozy. Yeah, you smile, Alex, but don't tell me you weren't cozy! Mosquitoes, right! Mosquitoes with mighty big lips!

“Michael, are you calling me a blood-sucking parasite?”

No! No, no no, no no! I wasn't saying that, Isabel!

“Good! ‘Cause if you were…”

Um… as I was saying, there was this bright light and… and… I forgot what I was saying.

“Love bug bites.”

What, Alex?

“They were love bug bites.”

(Isabel grinned and snuggled closer to Alex, and Michael took a deep breath) Uh, yeah… whatever. The bright light. Frasier Woods. Um. Campout. Sheriff Valenti… Oh yeah! Jim closed off a 4-square-mile area of the forest near the Indian reservation, not far from the cave, and Milton knew for sure then that the sighting was serious. But Milton and the Sheriff weren't the only ones interested in the sighting. I had a visitor in the night… none other than River dog himself.

“Did you see it? Did any of you see it?”

See what?

“It was real.”

Would you quit talking in riddles? What was? The sighting? How do you know?

“I've seen it before.”


Sheriff Valenti also knew someone else who was probably going to be real interested… the FBI. And he did not want them to close the woods and keep him out, which they would do once they showed up. They would cheat him out of his opportunity to find out what it was himself. And they never shared their information with him. Of course, to be fair, he rarely shared his with them either. He never told them about me… or about his suspicions about Max and Isabel.

“Get Miller on the phone. Tell him to rush the search. I want every inch of that woods combed before Agent Stephens sends his feebee goons out there.”

Valenti was supposed to be camping out with Kyle, but he was actually coordinating the search with his cell phone from the campsite and acting like a guy with two dates who was trying to keep them both from seeing each other. He was suspicious of why Max and Isabel were really there, and he wanted to keep an eye on them, so he pretended he couldn't get cell phone reception where Kyle wanted to put their tent. Miraculously, the reception turned out to be great right next to Max and Isabel's tent.

I wasn't with them, of course… Hank wasn't exactly the camping type… or the fatherly type either for that matter. But River dog showed up at the trailer to get me when it was time.

During the night, Max and Isabel snuck out of their tent and set out to find the place where the sighting had occurred. Liz saw them and followed them. So did Sheriff Valenti. After a while, Liz wound up stumbling into Max and Isabel, and Max ordered her to go back. Fortunately, she refused. I'll tell you why I say “fortunately” in a minute. She said if it affected us, it mattered to her, too.

Next, Maria showed up, much to Isabel's distress.

“Oh, great. That's great. Why don't we just send out a flare?”

And then Liz heard barking in the distance… “Is that coyotes, Max?”

“Search dogs. Come on, we're close. Come on!”


Max and Isabel hurried off with Liz and Maria, but they soon realized that they weren't going to outrun the dogs. That's when Liz came up with her brilliant idea… and the reason I said it was fortunate that she didn't go back before when Max told her to.

“You guys just keep going. Maria and I'll stay here and just let them catch us.”

“Liz, no.”

“No, Max, it's all right. We'll just say that we got lost in the woods. This is too important. Keep going.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. The important thing is, you just find what you're looking for.”

“I will.”

“Alright. Go!”

“We're over here! Help! Come find us! Help us! We're over here! We're here! We're right here!”


Maria groaned… “My mom's gonna love this… really!”

Meanwhile, River dog and I arrived and were searching through the woods together, separately from Max and Isabel. And somewhere out there in the dark, Milton was running around with a metal detector looking for what he assumed was a fallen spaceship. In retrospect, I realize now that there was something odd about that weekend all along. Heat lightning in the sky… but Maria was complaining to Liz that she was freezing and that her aqua bra was turning to ice and her breasts felt like popsicles. What? Oh, nobody's going to care now, Maria! You were what… fifteen? I'll vouch that you don't need an aqua bra anymore!

See, the strange thing is… and besides, I like popsicles… there was heat lightning, but it was cold outside. I'm thinking maybe the heat lightning was caused by whatever made the signal… whatever made the bright light.

Unfortunately for everybody, Agent Stephens had already heard about the sighting, and he and a small group of his men were in the woods almost before we were. Almost… but not quite. River dog heard a noise and stopped me, holding up one hand…

“Listen!”

I don't hear anything.

“Listen.”

I listened again. All I heard was a tiny pop or snap… like a twig breaking far away.

“Probably just a squirrel… in the trees.”

River dog shook his head and pulled me down to the ground. Moments later, Agent Stephens and four of his goons walked by. They were being really quiet. But River dog heard them. As soon as they were past, River dog motioned to me…

“We have to find it… before they do.”

He was right; I knew he was right! But I had no idea how to keep Stephens' and his goons from finding it… or how to keep them from discovering Max and Isabel. I just knew I had to come up with something, and fast! That's when an idea came to me.

I told River dog my plan, and he agreed, cautiously. He always seemed to be cautious. I guess it was something a lifetime of experience had taught him. But he did agree, so we put my plan into play right away. I aimed the palm of my hand at the sky and made several quick flashes of light that should have been pretty obvious. Almost immediately, we heard twigs breaking, as Stephens and his men rushed back in our direction. Okay, Max and Isabel would be safe… for the moment. But Stephens and his men were headed in my direction now. Quickly, River dog hid us under a small bluff and covered the entrance with leaves and twigs. He did a good job. Even I wouldn't have seen us! And just in time, as Stephens and his men rushed into sight like bulls stampeding through a china shop, forgetting all about stealth in their haste. They stopped close to where we were. Too close, in my opinion. I was afraid to breathe for fear they would hear me. I could have reached out and touched Stephens' feet. River dog, for his part, appeared to be the epitome of calm. He just blended into the terrain under the bluff, quieter than a mouse. Are mice really quiet? I think that's a myth. Quieter than an… earthworm… a DEAD earthworm! He just seemed to disappear. It takes practice, I guess.

Next, I aimed my palm at a nearby cloud. I could see it through the twigs. After a moment, the cloud stopped moving and rain started to fall. Agent Stephens looked around and then looked up… as the rain fell on him.

“It's raining!”

“I see that,” one of the other agents said.

“But it's raining on me! Only on me!” Agent Stephens said calmly.

“Yes sir. Uh, may I suggest, respectfully, sir, that you move.”

Agent Stephens stepped to one side, but the rain stayed with him.

“Any more suggestions, Johnson?”

“No sir. Maybe move some more. It has to be a fluke, sir.”

Stephens moved again, then jumped, but the rain seemed to follow him.

“Johnson, come here.”

“Me, sir?”

“Do you see anyone else here named Johnson?”

“No, sir. I mean, yes, sir… I'm coming, sir!”

Johnson walked over and stood beside Stephens, and the rain fell on them both.

“Carver! You come over here, too.”

“Sir, maybe if I rushed and pushed you out from under the rain quickly…”

“Just come over here.”

“Yes, sir.”

Carver stood beside Stephens and Johnson, and the rain fell on all three men.

“Now I'm going to step this way, and the two of you stay here,” Stephens said. He stepped to one side, but the rain seemed to merely spread out over a broader area, falling on all three men. The two men who were not under the rain looked flustered and unsure what to do.

“I think it's this crazy weather, sir,” Agent Perez interjected, looking up at the sky. “The weatherman said something about an inversion in the area over the weekend.”

“Inversion? or invasion?”

“Sir, I don't think…”

“I do! This is not natural, Perez. But I am not going to die from a little rain… or let it stop me from my goal. Let's go.”

Stephens turned and started to walk away with Johnson and Carver, all three getting drenched, as Perez and Williams followed at a “safe” --and dry-- distance. But a moment later, there was a clap of thunder, and all five men found themselves suddenly under the downpour. Strangely, it seemed to be localized over them. They could see where it ended but even by walking in different directions, they could not seem to get out from under it. So they finally stopped trying.

“It's got to be right around here somewhere,” Stephens grumbled. “It can't be far away. Come on!”

As soon as Stephens and his men disappeared, I crawled out from under the bluff and helped River dog out.

“What do we do now? All I did was slow them down… and get them wet… and mad.”

River dog seemed to think. “If I had the power… I would summon the animals… the bears and the coyotes… to scare them out of the woods. But I do not have such powers.”

I knew what River dog was suggesting. He didn't have such powers, but I did. Or at least, he thought I did. I wasn't entirely sure of that myself. It's not like I had ever done it before. But how do you know if you don't try… so I concentrated. Nothing.

“It's not working. I can't do it. I can't talk to animals. You should've got Doctor Doolittle.”

“I don't know him. Concentrate, Michael… not with words… with thoughts. Think like a bear… like a coyote.”

“Easy for you to say…”

I sighed and concentrated. After several moments, I actually felt my mind touch another mind… and it didn't seem human. It was more… brutish. Well, maybe some humans. But no, this was different. This was… denser somehow… yet strong. I don't know how, but I knew it was a bear. I concentrated, trying to place a mental image of Stephens and his men into the bear's mind and a sense of danger. I repeated the effort several times and felt two more bears and four coyotes. Then I looked at River dog…

“What if I can't control them? What if they eat Stephens and his men then come after us… or Max and Isabel?”

River dog shrugged. “You're asking me? You're the one with the powers.”

“Powers, yes… but maybe no brains. I should have thought this out first.”

“You will find a way,” River dog said, with much more confidence than I was feeling at the moment. It didn't take long for something to happen. As we stood there, we heard the greatest crashing and commotion, and moments later, Stephens and his gang ran by us, without slowing down or even seeing us. Close behind them were three angry bears and four coyotes. I guess if there was one bright spot for them, it was that they were no longer being rained on. Once they moved out of my sight, I couldn't keep the cloud over them anymore.

I looked at River dog and shook my head… “I don't know why I should be concerned for them. If they captured me or Max or Isabel, there's no telling what they would do to us. But I can't just let them get killed.”

“The agents? Or the bears?”

“Good point! Both I guess.”

River dog smiled. “You have the power, Michael. Remember?”

I nodded and concentrated, trying to get the pursuers to fall back a bit… for their own safety as much as that of Stephens and his men. Stephens' men had guns, and I was sure they would use them if they had to, though it wasn't clear how much effect their small weapons would have on a large bear… much less on three of them. Fortunately, the fleeing agents seemed to have figured that out for themselves. I would never have guessed that they could run so fast. But I also knew that they would be back. Stephens was nothing if not determined. He would definitely be back. But maybe not in time to find anything… if we hurried.

As we rushed to find the place of the sighting, River dog slipped and hurt his ankle. I healed it for him, but only after convincing myself that he couldn't heal it himself. I guess I was kind of hoping, you know. I mean, he came to the trailer to get me. He treated me like… You see, Hank was never… I mean… he could never be… But River dog… I could see him being my real dad… our real dad. He knew so much about us, and he could have been. He could've…

But he wasn't.

A short time later, River dog and I walked into a clearing, near the cave, and we found Max and Isabel.

“What are they doing here?”

They came on their own.

“Alright. This is where it will be.”

What are we looking for?


It was Isabel who found the answer… the alien symbol… the same one we had seen before in the cave. It was burned onto the ground. We turned off our flashlights and held out our palms, and it lit up with a light blue glow.

The white light, or whatever the hell that was, caused this, River dog?

“Yes. It's a sign. It was meant for you.”


I looked at it and nodded, understanding… Nasedo's here.

At that moment, Sheriff Valenti showed up and ordered us to step out of the way so he could see what was there, but Max used his powers to make the symbol disappear while I blocked his view. Valenti looked at the clean-swept sand then back at us…

“Something was here. What were you looking at?

Max just shrugged… “We've been lost for hours here. Thank you for finding us.”

I didn't know it at the time, but not far from where all this was taking place… not far from where Stephens and his men had been running from bears and coyotes, two people had been sitting together, so absorbed in each other that they hadn't noticed anything that was going on… Isabel and Alex.

”And then to the right of the Milky Way, that's Orion, Alex.”

“Oh, wow!”

“And see the north star?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, now look a little to your left… and a little further out… that small group of stars right there, that's the Cygnus Constellation. It's the furthest we can see from here.”

“It's amazing.”

“What is?”

“Staring at the stars with you. I mean, I used to look up there, and stars were just stars. One was just as good as the next one. Somehow with you… I mean… it's so wondrous, you know? I mean… each star is… is a mystery, you know, and so full of possibility. This is so much better than seeing a movie.”

“Thanks, Alex!”


“I'm so glad you came on this trip, Isabel! Without you… it would just be boring out here in the woods.”

End of Episode 111

tbc…

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Codename: TABASCO (M/M, ALL, TEEN) Ep 112 - 01/01/2007

Post by isndbreeze » 12/31/06 20:48

Codename: TABASCO
(The Awesome Background And Secret Chronicles Of Michael Guerin)

Episode 112

The Measures Of Dignity

(The Convention)


A week after the incident in Frasier Woods the ripples were still being felt in Roswell. Of course, a lot of those "ripples" were UFO freaks, who came running every time there was a flash of lightning thinking ET was landing. The last time a lunar eclipse was visible in Roswell, while we were still there, at least a dozen alien seekers showed up thinking that a huge mother ship was blocking out the moon. But the only invasion was the invasion of the pinheaded morons. If they had just thought to check and see if an eclipse was expected before phoning all their friends…

Hey! What's 500 feet long, has a total IQ of 6, and will never get sex? Give up? The line of pinheads waiting to get inside the UFO Center during a UFO convention.

The ironic thing was that the Frasier Woods incident was the real thing, not that those pinheads would ever know it. To them, everything in Roswell was alien related. They couldn't sort out what was real from what wasn't. Even Liz's doctored picture of a bloated alien baby doll fooled them! And you wonder why Amy did such a brisk business with her glow-in-the-dark blow up dolls?

I never told Jim the truth about the lights in Frasier Woods or about the mysterious symbol on the ground… the one Max erased… and he never asked about them again. I think he knew that I knew something, but he knew that I would never admit that I knew what he knew I knew. Um… you know what I mean, right? Jim seemed to understand that I wasn't ready to open up about some things yet. Sometimes his intuitiveness surprised me. But then he would turn around and surprise me again by trying to find out the answers on his own, behind my back. That caught me by surprise the first time he did it. Okay, maybe the first couple of times. But then I learned to expect it. After all, it was his job, I guess, to be in the know about whatever stuff was going on in Roswell. Now that I think about it, it must have driven him crazy back then trying to figure us out.

But like I said, it was a few days after the Frasier Woods incident, and the UFO convention was starting, the one they have every year in Roswell. Jim ordered his deputies to tell anyone who asked that the Frasier Woods sighting had just been dry lightning. That was his official response, but it wasn't what he believed. And there were others who didn't believe it either. One of them was sitting in Jim's chair when he walked back into his office… Everett Hubble.

Jim was unamused to find Hubble sitting in his chair, in his office, which had been locked.

How'd you get past the front desk? …You're not welcome here, Hub.

Oh, Junior, I expect more from you than dumb-ass, small-town threats. Well, just wanted to stop by. Regards to your dad. From what I hear, you're starting to come around to his way of thinking. See ya, Junior.


Hubble walked out the door with a smirk on his face. He had just come to let Jim know that he was wise to him. Jim got the hint. He also got the reference to his father's old obsession. And he was less than amused by the comparison.

Okay, so there were pinheaded morons, then there were the dangerous types, like the FBI guys, and then there was Everett Hubble. I wasn't sure yet which category he fell into. But with everybody acting like it was a full moon, I figured I might as well at least find out if the pinheads really knew anything. I shouldn't have wasted my time.

I've concluded, Mr. Guerin, that yes, these aliens do exist. Yes, they're among us today. And yes, they're brutal, dangerous killers and must be stopped at any cost.

Yep, that's what he said. Worse, Isabel overheard it. She pulled me aside and glared at me as though I had been collaborating with the enemy to wipe out my race or something. She said the convention was "psychologically damaging" and she wanted to leave. But then a character in an alien disguise walked up acting weird and saying, "Save me. Save me. I'm a human trapped in an alien body."

It turned out it was Max. Did I say there was a full moon? Isabel looked like she wanted to hurl. I actually felt sorry for her… a little bit. She said we'd just lost our last shred of dignity. Isabel thought even less of these alien conventions and self-proclaimed alien "experts" than I did, and that was saying something. But at least Maxie here seemed to be enjoying himself. He was even handing out flyers for Milton, the owner of the UFO Center. But I guess he had to; he worked for him. And that wasn't really a bad thing, actually, because it gave us an inside edge. There was a lot of stuff in there, and some of it, we thought, might help us find out where we were from… or about our people. Not all of it, of course. A lot of it was just freak show stuff for the pinheads to gawk at. For instance, Maria's mom was busy setting up this display that she called the "Alien Takedown."

I have to hand it to Liz, though. When the freaks would come into the CrashDown to eat, she would humor them… with a totally straight face.

Can I get you guys anything else?

I am Zinaplox from the planet Zedagon. I come to destroy humanity and return to my home planet.

Well, then, it's really great that you're starting out with a nice hearty breakfast.


Now see, that was cool. I don't think I could have said that with a straight face. I would have dumped the eggs over Zinaplox's pointy head… with a smile, of course. After all, you do have to be professional when you're dealing with customers. That's what sets me apart from Isabel. She wouldn't have smiled when she dumped the eggs on his head.

The UFO Convention was always a big groan for us, but this year's crowd wasn't entirely the usual convention year crowd. Well, the pinheads were the usual. But the sighting in Frasier Woods had brought out others this time. The media were there asking about the sighting. Even Jonathan Frakes showed up. Okay, he was invited. Milton wanted to get his handprints in cement; you know, like that place in Hollywood where they have all the stars' handprints. Frakes' handprints were going to be a first for the UFO center. Patrick Stewart and William Shatner were supposed to come, too. They had suites reserved at the Tumbleweed Motel, but they never showed up.

Then there were the FBI guys. They were trying to blend in with the crowd, wearing alien masks and the same freak-o-geek-o crap that the pinheads were wearing. But it wasn't hard to spot them. They stood out… like pit bulls in poodle hair cuts. Maybe it was because they were the ones who didn't pick their noses or snort when they laughed…

Maybe it was because they never laughed.

To be honest, I guess I have to admit that I was a little naïve about some things back then. I really did believe that some of these kooks in alien masks might know something. Big joke, huh! The ones I talked to were clueless eunuchs. But I figured that there had to be at least a few real experts out there in that whole big crowd, and Max would know who they were because he was working at the UFO center and had inside information. But when I asked him he said it was all only a big freak show. Then I overheard Milton trying to get that Hubble guy to host a discussion panel and telling Max that Hubble was probably one of the few humans who really had had direct contact with aliens. And I could tell that Hubble wasn't like the others. He had an air of… I don't know… self-importance… ego… or something. He did seem like he knew something. He wasn't a player, though. Maybe that's another reason I was intrigued by him, actually. It added to his mysterious… enigmatic… whatever.

Milton was clearly excited about this Hubble guy being there. And Milton was one person who did know who the experts were. But Hubble wasn't biting. I'm just passing through. Nice little souvenir shop you got going here, Miltie.

And Milton turned to Max imploringly…

Max, you want to do more? Get Hubble to do the roundtable. Disappeared almost thirty years ago, nobody's seen him since. The man's an enigma.

Okay, so now I knew who to keep an eye on. Everett Hubble. I couldn't care less whether he did Milton's roundtable or not, but I knew that sooner or later, this was the guy I was going to have to talk to. Sooner or later. But not now. For now, I would keep an eye on him and see if I could find out why he was in Roswell. He definitely wasn't the convention type. Outside, I saw Hubble lean against a car and look around like he was looking for something. I wondered what. Then I saw Valenti headed in Hubble's direction, and he didn't look like he was going to invite him to a tea party. I stepped out of sight in the shadows and watched, as Hubble looked up and spotted him…

Looking for someone, Jimmy?

What did you come back here for, Hubble?

Well, I've been tracking what's been going on around here for the last few months. The shooting in September at the CrashDown… What happened over there?

You got to my father when he was at his weakest, and you pushed him over the edge. Because of you, I had to have him committed.

Well, now you're giving me more credit than I deserve.


I guess I got caught up in what Hubble was saying and stepped out of the shadows for a moment. It was only for a nanosecond, and I jumped back quickly, but Hubble glanced my way. I don't think he saw me well… at least not well enough to know who I was, but he stopped talking and started to walk toward me. I needed a distraction. I didn't want him to know I was following him. Uh… Max… We're like bros, right? I mean… you wouldn't hurt your brother… your best friend in the world… would you?

…What do you mean, that depends!

…Okay, yeah, I know you could fix any damage you did, but I'd rather it didn't get done in the first place. I'm kind of attached to my bones the way they are. Come on, Max, it was a long time ago! Forgiving is divine and all that… Promise me!

…Okay, well, you see, here's the thing, like I was saying, I needed a distraction, and I didn't have time to be choosy. Remember that before you kill me. I looked around, and Frakes was about to put his hands on that mold of cement you had mixed up so carefully to just the right consistency. I kind of… made it soupy. I figured… Frakes falls into cement… big distraction, right? But hey! He didn't fall in! His hands just sank to the bottom, so no biggie, right? No harm done? And it worked! Hubble looked at Milton, who was screaming hysterically at you and apologizing all over the place to Frakes, and I took advantage of the distraction and took off. He never saw me. Max! Max! Sit down, Max! Come on, it was a long time ago! Stop, Max! I'm your friend, remember? Your best friend! You can't… GAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I'll never get all that sand out of my pants! …Stop laughing! You're all sadists! All of you! Wait… what was that? Max? What was in that sand?! Is that a… Don't tell me that was the sand out of Alyyx's pail… the one that had the family of nettle crabs in it! God, Max! I can't take my pants off here in front of everyone! OWWW! GEEZ! OWWW! SHHEEEEEEZ! Wait a minute… I've got to go… take a swim… or something… AYYYYYYYY YI… YOUCH!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Five minutes later, I climbed out of the water, and Max grinned smugly…

"Did you get rid of your crabs, Michael? I'll have to promote the Golden Sea's newly discovered therapeutic values in our next intergalactic tourist ad! It'll be a great draw! You could give a testimonial!"

Oh, yeah! Yuk it up, Max! The rest of you sadists, too! And yes, they're gone, thank you. Sorry, Alyyx… We'll find you some more stinging nettle crabs. I did what I had to do, Max. I needed a distraction… fast. That's all. So I made one. It was nothing personal.

"And I want you to know you're forgiven, Michael."

Hmph! Yeah, well. I'm still itching. And stop laughing, you guys! It's really not that, snyxxx… it's not that, snyyxxx… Okay, not from my perspective, it's not. Sadists. So I'm forgiven now? So I can sit down and go on with my story and not worry about getting any more unwanted… crabs… or whatever? Okay, well…

OW! Wait a minute! I think I missed one! There it is. As I was saying… there was someone else who was back in town for the convention that year. Larry… and his girlfriend… what was her name? Jen, I think. You know, the two who were in the CrashDown the day Liz got shot who tried to convince Jim that Max had done something to her to heal her. Jen seemed upset this time, though. She spent the whole day over at the CrashDown talking to Liz and just drinking lots of coffee. Larry spent the day at the UFO center. He got himself penciled in on the list of speakers who claimed to have had direct contact with aliens. And when it was his turn to speak, I was there…

Okay, um… it happened right here… right in Roswell, New Mexico. September 17th. I was in the CrashDown Cafe. Now, that's right across the street. So I'm sitting there. Two guys come in. Boom! They start having an argument. Boom! A gun is pulled.

I knew where Larry was going with his story, and I couldn't let it happen, so I "accidentally" touched him on the chest and gave him a nasty itch like I did that time to that jock that was messing with Max. It pretty much ended his speech, but he looked like an idiot, scratching and stammering. What am I saying? He WAS an idiot!

Frakes chuckled and shook his head, and the "expert" basically accused Larry of making it all up, which irked Larry, and he started to get agitated. Then Frakes called for security and Milton suggested that Max help him take Larry down. It was classic!

You see why I hate UFO conventions! I did get rid of the troublesome Larry Trilling, though. Okay, Max and Milton threw him out… But outside the UFO Center, he found Everett Hubble, who apparently had been listening…

I believe you, kid. Tell me everything. Tell me about Max Evans. Tell me what you saw.

The fact that Larry was scratching as if he had… well… stinging nettle crabs all over… did not deter Hubbard at all. He listened to everything Larry said… for two hours… and believed it all. Hubbard then went back and tried to convince Jim that he was willing to lay all his cards on the table if Jim would do the same. He showed Jim some of the murder photos he had taken, with silver handprints on the victims.

Where'd you get these?

I know you've been investigating, but you're a weekend enthusiast. It's been full-time for me. Jimmy, your father may have made a mistake that night, pulled the trigger on the wrong man… but he wasn't crazy. You already know that, don't you? You knew that when I showed up here. It was in your eyes. All your father wanted to do was to help this world out. And they hung him on a cross for it. This isn't just some happy-go-lucky alien we're lookin' at. This is a killer, Jimmy. If you know something about it, it's our duty to team together now… do something. What about this kid, Max Evans? He have something to do with all this?

Maybe.


"What do you know about Max Evans, Jimmy?"

"You know what, Hub… I was over at the retirement home this morning, and I talked to Dad."

"You're evading the question, Junior."

"He said I shouldn't trust you."

"Did he now! And did he sound coherent to you?"

"Yeah. Well, pretty much… some of the time. Okay, not everything he says these days makes sense. But why would he tell me not to trust you?"

"You tell me."

"I'd like to. Alright. What's your important information, Hub? What do you know about that night… and these… victims in your pictures? How much I tell you depends on what you give me. I want to know the real story about what happened with Dad that night at the silo… in 1972."

Hubble proceeded to lay out a convoluted story of alien serial murders, omitting certain self-incriminating facts in the case that involved Jim's father and the dead drifter at the silo in 1972. But Jim mind was wandering as he listened…

Dad… try to focus. That night of the murder… at the silo… Hubble was there?

Whatever you do, don't trust him, Jimmy.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Back at the UFO Center, Amy was having her Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown… you know, like that old Rolling Stones song. She was on the phone with one of the wrestlers she had hired for that "Alien Takedown" exhibit she and Maria had set up.

You can't quit now. The Alien Takedown is in an hour! Ernie, you have nothing to be afraid of. Raging Ray is a puppy dog. Look, he's not really gonna do anything really rough. I realize you suffered a broken rib last year… Fine, two! I… did you not receive my gift basket? Look, Ernie, if you don't do this, I'm broke, okay? I'm out of business, okay? I… I have half my annual revenue tied up in this thing! Hello? Hello? Oh!

I guess I should have been happy. That exhibit was not exactly kind to my species, whoever they were, I told myself. It was one of the big frauds that the UFO Convention perpetuated every year… one of the baser tourist gimmicks. Isabel would certainly be happy to find out it wasn't going to happen. Well, anyway, she would be happy if she knew. The UFO Center was not high on her list of entertainment places. She tried to ignore what went on there… and what didn't go on there. So Amy would lose a lot of money. It would be one less fraud perpetuated on the naïve public… and no skin off my nose, right?

Meanwhile, over at the CrashDown, it looked like the sympathy squad was convening. Jen had been drinking coffee and crying all day to Liz about how Larry had proposed to her and then had become so obsessed with all the alien stuff that he had no time to get married. Then Amy joined them with her woes about the Alien Takedown that wasn't. Maria and Liz were giving Jen and Amy comfort and moral support when Milton rushed in…

Amy! Where are you? The match is almost over!

What? Ernie showed up?


Amy rushed to the UFO Center and found a masked wrestler lying in the middle of the ring. He didn't appear to be moving, and Ray made some quip about him needing an ambulance.

Ernie! Oh, my God! Are you okay?

I took off the mask and grinned. "I'm just resting."

I guess Amy hadn't expected to find me there. I can't say I expected to find me there either, so how could she, right? It had been kind of a spontaneous decision.

Oh, you dear, dear, boy! Oh!

I tried to downplay it. I didn't want Maria to think I was getting soft or something. So I just said, It was easy money.

But the truth is, no amount of money could have made me do that. I mean, when Isabel found out… well, I didn't even want to think about that! I wasn't really sure myself why I did it. Then Maria pulled my face to hers and kissed me.

Mud.

What?

Mud. I'm thinking about mud.

Why do I even try?


It was true. I was thinking about mud. It was something I had suggested to Max to keep us from being so attracted to Maria and Liz… because we didn't think it was a good idea for us to be too attracted to them, considering who… or what… we are. The only trouble was, it wasn't working. At least, I knew it wasn't for me. And I could tell it wasn't for Max either… unless mud gave him that deer-in-the-headlights look every time Liz was around. I could say mud all day long and even try to picture it in my mind, and I still saw Maria. And she wasn't mud at all… definitely not mud! But I thought I had to try… for all the good it was doing. It really bothered her back then, but she teases me about it now. One time, several years after we were married, she gave me this picture of her, and it was just a picture of some mud. It was her little joke. Remember that, M'ria?

"Yeah, and I remember what you did. Michael touched the picture, and the mud disappeared, like magic, and my face appeared on the picture instead. He said that's what he really saw all the time. But he was too stubborn back then to admit it!"

True. But Maria was the one who performed the magic, not me. She bewitched me. I tried to see mud. I did. I just couldn't stop seeing her face. She was the magic all the time. When I realized that, that's when I finally found my real happiness.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sometimes, a lot of things are happening at the same time, and your emotions get taken on a roller coaster ride. This was one of those times. I guess while I was wrestling in the "Alien Takedown" exhibit, I kind of lost track momentarily of Hubble. I didn't know it, but while I was doing Amy a favor, Hubble was looking for Max. He found him in a back room of the UFO Center…

Evans! Milton said you wanted to talk to me about something.

Yeah, um, Shatner's a no-show.

Oh? Sorry to hear about that.

What do I have to do to convince you to… to do this panel, Mister Hubble?

Well, son, your tenacity has won me over.

Really?

I'm no Captain Kirk, but I'll give it my best shot.

Great! Thank you!

There's only one problem. My slides are back home. I'd go get em, but, uh, I busted a hose on my way up…

Then I'll drive you.

That's what I thought you'd say.


As I walked back out of the UFO Center, I saw Max and Hubble leaving together in Max's Jeep. It was too late to stop them, but I had a sixth-sense sort of reaction when I saw Larry standing nearby. Somehow, I just knew that he knew why they were leaving together. And I was determined he was going to tell me.

What the hell's going on? What's that guy doing with Max?

I don't know.

Tell me what he's doing with Max!


"How the hell do I know? Alright! Alright! Listen, he didn't tell me, okay? I don't know where they're going. Really! We just talked… about the shooting last year… in the café. He wanted to know what I saw, and he asked a lot of questions about Max. I can't tell you any more than that!"

I didn't know where Hubble was going with Max, but I had a good idea who might know. Jim was eating a late lunch at his desk when I climbed in through his office window.

"Don't you ever use doors, Michael?"

"I try not to. People see me when I use the door."

"Is that such a bad thing?"

"It could be. I prefer to be… elusive."

"Oh, yeah! The Avenger and all that!"

"Yeah, well… the fewer the people who know I'm here the better."

"So why are you here, Michael?"

"Why are you eating… broccoli?"

"I asked you first. Besides, there's other stuff on this tray besides broccoli."

"I needed to talk to you… about Hubble."

"Now you just spoiled my appetite."

"I thought the broccoli woulda done that."

"Doesn't Hank ever give you broccoli?"

"Hank's more of a hot dog and beer guy."

"Yeah but what does he give you?"

"Like I said…"

Jim frowned, and I shrugged.

"Hey, it's wet. Besides, I get the healthy stuff at school."

"I've gotta stop in and see Hank some time… soon! You should get juice and water. Coffee. Milk. And regular fruits and vegetables… even a little broccoli on occasion wouldn't hurt you, Michael."

"Me and broccoli have a pact. I don't eat it, and it doesn't eat me. So far it's been faithful to our pact, and I don't intend to be the one who breaks it first."

Jim looked at me and shook his head slowly, but he had a grin on his face. "You're hopeless! Okay, what did you want to know about Hubble?"

"What is he? I mean… is he really some big alien expert like he claims to be? And what does he want here in Roswell… from you? Why is he interested in Max? And where is he going with Max now?"

"All pretty good questions. Okay, let's see. Yes, he is a big alien expert. Yes, he is a bastard…"

"I didn't ask that."

"I threw it in for free. And, as for what he's looking for in Roswell… from me? That's what I'm trying to find out precisely myself. But the bottom line, when all else is said and done, is he's looking for you, Michael. Or someone like you… someone who doesn't have your scruples. Someone who is a killer, who has killed in the past, and who left only a handprint as evidence. As to why he's interested in Max… well, maybe you can tell me that. There's a lot you haven't told me about Max."

"It's not my place. Max is my friend. Just that. I wouldn't want to see any harm come to him. Where is Hubble now?"

"He said something about looking for Max… to talk to him privately. But he didn't say anything about going off anywhere with him."

"Why would he want to talk to Max?"

"I told you, he's an alien hunter… a very elusive one. He totally dropped out of sight for almost thirty years. Not a very sociable man, but a very good detective… of a sort. He's a bulldog for information. I guess he thinks Max has information… or… something."

"It's that something that's worrying me, Sheriff. Would Hubble hurt Max?"

Jim was quiet for several moments then slowly shook his head. "No… no, I don't think so. He's a bastard, but he's not dangerous… that I know of… not like that. You would do well to warn Max to stay away from Hubble, though, Michael. It's in Max's best interest… yours too… to avoid him. Hubble destroys reputations… and souls. His heart is blackened by obsession. He could cause both of you great problems, and he'd have no moral compunction or regrets about it afterwards. But he's not capable of murder… that I know of… I don't think."

"Why do you dislike him so much?"

"Michael, there's a lot I haven't told you… just as there's a lot you haven't told me. You know that my dad is still alive… in the retirement center…"

"Yeah."

"You know that people say that he was… obsessed… with aliens?"

"That's the rumor. It's not a secret."

"Yeah, well. It's true. He was obsessed. And so was Hubble. Hubble did something to Dad. To this day, I still don't know what it was. He did something that sent Dad over the edge. In one day, Dad went from being the sheriff of this town to being what he is now… incapable of even caring for himself. Hubble did that, and so help me God I'm going to find out what he did if it's the last thing I ever do. What Hubble wants from me is information to lead him to the real aliens, or at least to one alien, one who has killed. What I want is Hubble's head on a stick --figuratively speaking; or literally, if necessary-- when I finally find out what he did to Dad. It's a trade… of sorts."

"You would give him me then… to get what you want?"

"No. No, I don't intend to lower myself to his level, Michael. I gave him a little bit of general information, that's all. Nothing about you. It's called bait. I'm waiting to see if he takes the hook."

"What kind of 'general information?'"

"I might have mentioned the time that Max supposedly put out a grease fire with water… or some such stuff. And we discussed the shooting at the CrashDown. But Hubble brought that up himself. He already knew about it. I might have given him Larry's name, though; you know, that guy that insisted that Liz got shot. It was all just publicly available information from closed investigations that never came to anything. I was baiting Hubble with useless information… just to get him to talk about what happened between him and Dad in 1972… what he did that put Dad… where he is now."

"And what if he was dangling a baited hook, too, Sheriff? For you? And you swallowed it whole by giving him the information he wanted? A man like that gives nothing away for free. If he asked for information about Max, even if you don't see any relevance, I'm willing to bet that Hubble does… or thinks he does. And Max could be in trouble. What do you think Hubble, with his warped obsession, will do to Max if he thinks Max really is this dangerous killer alien he's looking for? Where are Hubble and Max now?"

Jim pushed his food away and picked up several pictures Hubble had given him and looked at them with a deeply troubled face. I remember thinking that, suddenly, Jim looked as though he thought he might have traded his soul for those pictures. There was a car in one of them… and a barely-visible license number on the car. Jim punched the number into his computer and took a deep breath.

"Well, now, how about that! The car's registered to Sheila Hubble. So Hubble does have a wife… or at least he did at one time. Dad was right. Michael, you may want to come with me. I have a bad feeling about this. I'm going to find Max, but I'll need to stop somewhere first to verify something… and to find out where Hubble might have gone with him. Otherwise, we may be wasting a lot of precious time searching in all the wrong places!"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The first stop Jim made was at the retirement home. I admit I was a bit baffled. I wondered what his father could possibly know about where Max and Hubble were. But something was telling me that Jim was onto something, so I didn't question it. Well, okay, I didn't question it MUCH.

"Why are we stopping here?"

"To see Dad."

"Do you really think this is the time for a social visit? Max's life may be in danger! We should be looking for Max!"

"Don't you think I know that, Michael? That's why we HAVE to stop here first. If ANYONE knows where Hubble would take Max… if he intended to do him harm… it would be Dad."

Inside the retirement home, we were quickly passed in to see Jim's dad. It was one of the good things about being the sheriff, I guess. You don't have to go through a lot of crap to get in to see someone. It's just "Yes, sir, Mister Valenti," or "Yes, sir, Sheriff." I remember thinking, just for a nanosecond, that if I weren't a superhero, I might not mind being the sheriff. Okay, it was a fleeting thought. Jim found his dad sitting in a chair staring out the window. He pulled a chair up beside his dad's and sat on it, backwards, resting his arms on the back of the chair as he straddled it.

"Hey, Dad! How ya doin'? I came to see ya. Twice in one week! Some kinda record, I guess, huh? I'm so sorry. I really am. I'm gonna try to make it up to ya… come by to see ya more often from now on. I'm sorting my priorities out. Priorities! You know how those are, right? Things that aren't so important start seeming like they are, and… things that… really are… get lost in the… stars… somewhere… out there. Wait a minute… I think there's something in my eye. Okay, I think I got it. Then reality throws cold water in your face and shows you the things that really matter. Dad, what I'm trying to say is… you're more important to me than a few extra hours a week investigating stuff that always could've waited till there was time. Hey! I brought a friend with me to see ya, Michael Guerin.

Hi!

The senior Mister Valenti seemed to see me but didn't say anything.

Dad, You were right. He had a wife. Hubble came to you, didn't he? He told you someone was trying to steal his car that night… and he found his wife dead. And she had a handprint on her, just like the one that you'd seen on that corpse in 1959. And he saw a man run away from the scene, a drifter. And he thought the drifter was the murderer. Two years after the murder, he came back, didn't he? And he found you. And he persuaded you… seduced you… and you helped him find that drifter. Isn't that right, Dad?

The drifter?

And when you found him, you killed him. You killed an innocent man because of Hubble.

No.

Dad!

No!

Dad, tell me what happened out there, please.


It wasn't going to happen. I could see that. Jim's dad had some mental function still left, but it was emotionally locked away in some kind of deep recess of his mind. It was inaccessible. Maybe this was how he had survived all these years with whatever it was he had had to live with. I'm no Max. When it comes to healing, he can run circles around me. But Max wasn't here, and I had had some minor success healing small scrapes and stuff before… and River Dog's ankle. I touched Mister Valenti's temple with the tips of my fingers, and Jim looked at me…

"What are you doing, Michael?"

"I don't know. I might be able to help him… to open his mind… just a little. I can't heal whatever's wrong, but…"

Jim nodded. "Do it."

I took a deep breath and concentrated. I could feel Mister Valenti's emotions. I couldn't sort them out, though. They were like a train wreck, all piled up on top of each other. I concentrated on separating a few of the "wrecked cars." Then Mister Valenti turned his head and looked at me.

"You!"

I wasn't sure what to say. One part of me was terrified and just wanted to run away… but another part wanted to stay. The elder Valenti looked at his son, the sheriff…

"Jimmy!"

"Dad!"

He looked back at me again and then, oddly, seemed to relax. It wasn't what I had expected at all, and I was prepared for almost anything. He seemed to be collecting his thoughts, then he turned his head back toward Jim…

"Priorities, Jimmy… isn't that what you were talking about?"

"Yeah, Dad, it was."

"I think I… understand."

He looked at me and seemed to smile slightly, but his face was weathered with the grief of years…

"Thank you…"

"S'okay. I didn't do anything."

"I know. And thank you."

He did know. And I knew that he knew. I think he had come to terms with some things. He seemed oddly more at peace with himself than before, and he started to talk again… much more lucidly than in the past.

I did help Hubble. We tracked him. We were just going to get the truth. He told me he wouldn't hurt the man.

This hit Jim like a cannonball, and he recoiled, with a look of disbelief in his eyes.

Hubble shot him! Didn't he?! HE shot the drifter, not you!

Whatever you do, Jimmy, don't trust him.


"Dad, where would Hubble take someone to carry out his 'justice' if he thought they were the one he was looking for?"

The elder Valenti thought, but only for a moment. "Bitter Lake… by Pepper's Café. That's where Sheila was murdered. If he's onto someone, Jimmy…"

"Dad, I'm sorry, but we have to go! I think someone is in a lot more danger than I realized! I promise we'll come back to see you tomorrow, okay? I promise! Michael, let's go!

He might as well have saved his breath. I was already out the door and running.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Beautiful countryside, don't you think, Evans? Especially at sunset.

Yeah, it's pretty cool. So, Mr. Hubble, you said you were going to answer my questions.

Pull over to the side there. I want to show you something. You recognize it?

I've never been here. …Mr. Hubble, if we're gonna make Bitter Lake and back in time for the panel…


As we were racing to save Max, Hubble was talking Max up about what had happened to his wife, who had been going to break the news to Hubble that she was expecting a baby, the night she was killed in front of Pepper's café. He was convinced that Max was the one who had killed her, and he wanted Max to remember it vividly… before he killed him.

Four innocent people lost their lives startin' that day. My wife, my baby… that drifter, and, uh… and me. Dead man walking. That's what I felt all those years. Only thing kept me alive was you.

Me? But… but I don't know you.

I know you.


Hubble pulled out a handgun and aimed it at Max; that's what I saw as we drove up, and I jumped out of sheriff Valenti's car and yelled. Hubble was so obsessed with the thought of killing Max that he hadn't noticed us drive up, and when I yelled, it distracted him long enough for Max to knock the gun out of his hand. Jim quickly maneuvered his car so that the headlights would shine on the two of them; and Max, who was on the ground and struggling in the dirt with Hubble, used his power to push the gun out of Hubble's reach.

I knew it was you, you bastard! …Don't you see who he is? We have to stop him.

Drop it, Hub.

This son of a bitch is gonna die today, and nothing's gonna stop me, so go ahead! Unload every bullet in your chamber.

It only takes one.

Your father couldn't do it… and neither can you.


Suddenly, all the pieces came together. The elder Valenti had tried to keep Hubble from shooting the drifter but hadn't been able to bring himself to shoot Hubble to stop him. He had held out the belief that Hubble wouldn't do it until it was too late and he had done it. The elder Valenti felt responsible. The guilt consumed him. Hubble, on the other hand, apparently went his way after that, a free man, letting the elder Valenti take all the blame for the shooting. And in his condition, the elder Valenti had never set the record straight. Until now. I looked at my hands. I was no Max Evans. But maybe I had something… just enough something. And apparently, so did Jim…

There was a bang, and Hubble slumped to the ground. Jim turned to Max, apologizing for not having realized how dangerous Hubble was, but Max was angry that Jim had put him in danger.

Get outta here. The both of you. You were never here. Go on!

I urged Max to go with me. The guy was crazy, Max, alright? He didn't know what he was talking about.

I don't think he was crazy, Michael. I think the one we've been looking for has killed people… a lot of people.


As we left in Max's Jeep, we heard Jim placing a call for backup. This is Sheriff Valenti. I've been involved in a code 4. I got one man down. My 10-20 is the abandoned Peppers Café at Bitter Lake.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Jim was true to his word. The next day he went back to see his dad… and he asked me to go with him.

"Naw… I don't know, Sheriff. You need personal time with your dad. I'd be a fifth wheel."

"You're a lot of things, Michael, but a fifth wheel is not one of them. Come on! There'll be lots of days, God willing, for me to visit with Dad privately. I think this once, we've got something to tell him… together… you and me."

"We keep Max out of it."

Jim nodded. "Just you and me… and Dad."

"Okay."

End of Episode 112

tbc…

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