A novel by
Eric H. Bowen
For suggestions to improve realism in the portrayal of police work, the members of the "officer dot com" forums, especially "Rick Shaw," "CCCSD," and "Ratatatat."
The following account was originally written strictly for internal distribution. Rather as a lark, I requested permission for a special communication. To my great surprise it was granted, with the proviso that everything be handled on a strictly unofficial basis. Accordingly names, dates, and places have been changed to safeguard classified material on the one hand and to protect those who are so obviously ridden with guilt on the other. By way of compensation I have included additional material in this edition which may help you to better understand our world and our interactions with yours.
You will note many events which occurred at times or in places where I was not present to observe directly. In reconstructing those events I rely upon material gleaned from other observers or, in some cases, from the interrogation of prisoners. This latter source of information is notoriously unreliable and I utilize it with a great deal of trepidation. I urge you to take such accounts with rather a large grain of salt.
I would also encourage you not to rely too strongly upon my little asides and observations. While I do believe they have validity, my own understanding is still very far from perfect. There are many underlying details which remain secret, even to me. If you do wish to have truly reliable information as regards the spiritual realm, I would encourage you to turn to the sixty-six official communications which we have made over the past four millennia which are available in a conveniently compiled format...better known as your Bible.
Chapter 1: Introduction
There are good days and there are bad days. But for every day, at least this far, there has been a letter. Sometimes short and sweet, sometimes long and detailed. From a good day:
Dear Michael: You rode a bicycle today, all by yourself! That's wonderful!
From a not-so-good day:
Dear Michael: You can blame me for calling your mom's attention to you in the store. You know better than to try and sneak candy like that! It's stealing! What's worse, it gives the other side another piece of evidence to use against you. I can only plead childish innocence for so long before it starts to ring hollow, even to me!
From another pretty good day:
Dear Michael: I hope that you had a blast at Astroworld! You and your dad rode five roller coasters! I hope you don't mind but Ariel and I reached through and copied your lunch in Western Junction. Just for a taste, you know! The barbeque sandwich wasn't bad but I personally preferred that stuffed baked potato your Dad ordered. I know it's a long shot but someday I'd like the chance to visit that park with you.
From another not-so-good day seven years later:
Dear Michael: So Astroworld closed today, forever. I thought perhaps it might be sold to some other company, but it's being torn down and demolished. Sic transit gloria.
And, from a really bad day a couple of years before that:
Dear Michael: I don't exactly know how to say this to you….
While there is a pair of eyes on every one of you every single minute, it may not always be exactly the same pair of eyes. We do like to take the occasional break, after all...talk with friends, relax, sing a bit, recharge batteries...but then it's back out to the Border. We have a pitch staked out there which is close enough for a good view but far enough back to keep from sparking any confrontations with the enemy...well, for the most part. And so it was that I returned to find Dawn in an uncharacteristically quiet mood, watching Michael through the portal as he slept. A quill was in her right hand and she was tapping it nervously. "Writer's block?" I ventured.
"No, I'm finished," she absently replied.
I haven't been a Counselor for nearly a thousand years for nothing. "Dawn, we've been best friends since before there was a before," I said. "It's not like you to be this quiet."
"The big day?"
"Do you know when it's going to be?
"Ariel, I don't want to know. I want to be as surprised as he is."
"Then what's the problem?"
"It's just...we're so different!"
"Sometimes that can be a very good thing!"
"But what is he going to think? I mean, when he knows?
I laughed, and transitioned into something closer to what you might call Full Dress Uniform. It's impressive. "Dawn, I understand that humans tend to be very positively affected when they meet us for the first time. I doubt that you have anything to worry about!"
"Ariel, please! Yes, I know how to put on a show! But what happens when the show's over? What happens when he gets to know me, for who I am...not just what I am?" There was a pause, and then she asked, "Do you think he'll like me?"
I chose my words carefully. "Well, if he doesn't, I think he needs more help than this Counselor knows how to offer."
"I wish I knew."
A brief silence; then she added, "Fifteen minutes."
"I just wish that I could cross into his world for just fifteen minutes. Not to do anything 'special', not really. Just to get to know him, and give him a chance to know me."
"Oh, nothing 'special'?" I replied skeptically. "You want to break protocol, cross the Border, possibly touch off a major interdimensional incident...for a spot of tea and a chitchat?"
"I know, I know," she sighed.
"I do admire your spirit. But we both know you wouldn't be satisfied with fifteen minutes. Next there would be fifteen more, then an hour, then a night, then pretty soon you'd be living there. Just wait. You'll meet him soon enough."
"Yes. You're right."
I turned away, thinking my work was done. Then I heard her mutter, "Even so...it'd be a nice start."
I still can't say exactly when it all started. But, if I had to lay a wager...I'd choose that very moment.