Age regression. I always thought such a thing was fantasy. Something that happened in a TV show with magic or a Sci-Fi show with a convenient 'ion storm' and a futuristic mode of transport. I wasn't expecting it to happen in real life. Though, in a real world where an alien ship appears in orbit and sends down a landing pod to act as an "Embassy to Humanity" anything could be possible. The Alka's really did come in peace, and were willing to share technology with humanity. (The scientists say our understanding of medical science and technology which will allow us to achieve space travel has been advanced by about a hundred years.) But back to the point- age regression. I really didn't think it could happen- until now. I looked through the one way glass at the interview. The boy couldn't have been much older than ten, maybe eleven, with wavy black hair, intense blue eyes and a strong frame that showed you the raw physical strength the boy would grow up to have.

"I keep telling you," the kid insisted, "my name is James Fredrick Hardcastle. I am ninety-three years old. I am a World War Two veteran, seeing action in Europe. I live at 401 Sage Brush Drive, Little Stop Township, California. My yard backs out onto the Pacific Crest Trail and those damn hikers keep dropping their litter over my fence."

The story about James Fredrick Hardcastle checked out. There was such a person living at that address, who was ninety-three and who had served in the army during WW2, seeing action in Europe and liberating a concentration camp along the way. All that could have been gleamed from a phone book and by having a quick conversation with James Hardcastle under the pretext of a school report, but this is where things got interesting. The child claiming to be James Hardcastle had been found standing in a pile of adults clothes, with James Hardcastle's driving license, with, along with vital statistics, also gave his blood type. The kid been interviewed also had the same blood group- type O, Rh negative.

It is something that could have been shrugged off as coincidence- if it were not for the James Harcastle's old medical reports from his time in the army. I have contacts in the Department of Defense. I called in some favors and got them sent over. Listed under 'Distinguishing Features' was "Birthmark, splotchy red, shaped vaguely like the State of New York, left shoulder blade." The child now been interviewed had the same birthmark. Then there were the fingerprints. At the age of eighty, one James Fredrick Hardcastle had been arrested after getting into a fight with a Holocaust Denier. As someone who had liberated a concentration camp, Mr. Hardcastle had taken great offence to him and had punched the other guy in the jaw, knocking out three teeth. He had been arrested, fingerprinted but eventually released as the Neo-Nazi skin head hadn't wanted to press charges- or maybe it was because he didn't want to admit been knocked on his ass by someone four times his age and a hundred pounds lighter, I'm a little fuzzy on that detail. The point is- James Hardcastle's fingerprints and those of the child in out interrogation room match perfectly. Absolutely no margin of error.

"Is the secure location ready?" I asked my colleague.

"Yes sir. The other, um, persons involved are been moved there now," she responded.

"Good," I said and strode out the door and into the interrogation room.

"FBI, we are taking charge of this investigation," I said firmly to the interviewing detective, flashing my badge.

000

James Fredrick Hardcastle glanced around at the room he had been provided with. It was spacious, but a little bare. A desk and chair, double bed (a bit too big for him currently), wardrobe (empty) and a full length mirror. He flopped back on the bed and sighed. He had been questioned constantly for three days, ever since whatever it was happened.

As he told the local police and then the FBI, he had absolutely no idea what the hell had happened. He had entered the Alka embassy as a ninety three year old man, there was a flash of light (described to him by the FBI as the embassy shuttle returning to the mother ship), then there was a warm fuzzy feeling and next thing he knew, he was ten years old again- at least physically. Mentally he was still ninety three. James also new that there were eleven other people involved- six women (or was that girls now) and five other men (boys?) He hadn't seen much of them since- just quick sightings in the hallways between interview rooms. The guy in charge, a burly African-American man, told him that there would be a get together tomorrow and had promised to get fresh clothes.

Feeling frustrated, James sprang to his feet, but stopped when he realized what he had done. He grinned and then burst out laughing. He hadn't been able to spring to his feet in nearly fifty year. On impulse, he tried to jump onto the bed from the floor and he managed it.

"Oh wow, I forgotten how it felt to be this young," he laughed. He hopped of the bed and caught sight of himself in the mirror. It was the first time he had actually looked at himself since this whole thing had started. He stroked his face. He knew it, of course. It was his. Same deep blue eyes, same slightly dimpled chin and the strong jaw. His hair was jet black, a color he hadn't seen in forty years. He was wearing an oversized t-shirt and a pair of shorts and on impulse he took them off, examining himself in the mirror. He had the body of a child now. He stroked his midriff. The scar from when he had his appendix removed was gone. As was the bullet wound on his left shoulder- a memento of a sniper in some wood in Germany. His eyes traveled lower. Due to a surgery, he needed a bag to collect his urine, but it was gone. It hit him suddenly that his bladder was working fine now.

"What the hell happened to me?" he murmured.