Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Here’s part 7. Because I missed posting anything last Sunday, I will post the finale later today. Enjoy this penultimate part of the story!
‘Yes,’ she sighed. ‘My grandmother recorded everything I did, with one small exception. None of the footage she sent back – however she got it back – featured herself. As far as ESA were concerned, I figured out how to activate an alien substance and use it to get myself the hundred million miles from Barnard IV to Barnard’s Star. They interrogated me for weeks.’
She sucked hungrily on the cigarette. ‘The bitch. The fucking bitch.’
He looked at her with compassion but allowed her to carry on.
‘They didn’t believe me, especially when I said my grandmother was there. That’s when I knew that ESA were not involved in the attempts to kill her – the people I spoke to seemed genuinely shocked that she was she still alive. They had no records from her mission – they never received her report and assumed she could never get through. I didn’t believe them but later I was in no doubt they were telling the truth.’
‘So, they let you go?’
She nodded. ‘They let me go. My interrogator realised they were getting nothing, and I think he actually believed me when I said I had no memory of how I got inside the star. Of course they watched me. I’d go to bed at night and look outside the window and see unmarked vehicles on the other side of the road with dark figures inside. Come morning, they would be gone but another vehicle would appear with two other people inside.’ She shook her head. ‘That was until the day somebody broke into my apartment in Berlin and tried to kill me.’
‘And that’s when you went into hiding? I remember you being reported missing then.’
‘I’ve been here ever since – on the run from governments, corporate sponsors, whoever those people are. I’m convinced there’s more than one group after me. Government types who saw me inside the star don’t know how I survived because they don’t know anything about the stuff. I learnt that much from my time being interrogated by the ESA and I couldn’t tell them what I don’t know.’
‘Why would they want to kill you?’
‘They wouldn’t because if they did, what they thought I knew would disappear with my death. Foreign governments to stop me talking, uh, no? I’m not convinced that they really want me dead unless someone somewhere is motivated purely by spite.’
‘So who is acting against governments to kill you or your grandmother?’
‘It must be corporate sponsors – I have no other explanation. Patents are at stake here. I’m convinced that’s all there is to it. With me and my grandmother alive, there’s someone who knows their miracle invention they want to release on the world is actually technology from another star system. That’s all there is to it.’
‘That’s a lot of conclusions to jump to, Captain Reeves.’ By now he was starting to think she was as paranoid as her grandmother had become.
‘Perhaps, and of course I can’t prove it. You must think me insane?’
‘The thought had crossed my mind, I must admit. So what is this all about? Why have you called me here Surely not just to tell me what you think you believe and might have happened?’ The reporter hovered his pen over the notepad, waiting for something substantial to write.
‘Well, now we finally get down to the finer details.’ She stubbed her cigarette out. It seemed overly dramatic and he smiled to himself.
‘I brought some back through the wormhole with me.’
‘Some of that goo?’ He couldn’t disguise his shock.
‘The very same. There’s a box on the floor beneath our table.’ He moved to look but she stopped him. ‘No! We’re being watched.’ Her curtness startled him. ‘Where?’ he spluttered.
‘At the bar. A man and a woman. To the untrained eye they look like anyone else. They look dressed for a date but both have spent more time looking over here than at each other. I’ve seen plenty of first dates in this bar, and if they really didn’t like each other, one of them would have made their excuses by now leaving the other drinking alone. No, these two are amateurs and they’re not on a date.’ She leaned forward and gave him a michievous smile. ‘Here’s what we’re going to do…’