|Visitors and Voices
Author: Yva J PM
When Paul meets up with a girl named Jasmine, she teaches him and Scott that everyone can sing.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 4,232 - Reviews: 5 - Published: 01-15-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4013422
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This one shot was actually the original plot bunny for two other stories I later wrote with one of my original characters. The stories are, by no means, the same as this one, but they are sort of inspired by the basic premise here. This story was written ten years ago and it did win a fan award the year after it was put into a fanzine. So for that alone I am immensely proud of the story. Today, I would say it seems rushed and rather silly, but hey, it's ten years old and won something. How often does that happen?
If you like it let me know, if you don't well, better luck next story.
Visitors and Voices
A Starman story
By: Yva J.
Not intended to infringe on any previously held copyrights.
Paul Forrester walked alone in the darkness, his mind wandering and as he made his way, he heard music. This music grew louder with every step he took, but it didn't seem to matter, he needed to find a supermarket and buy food for that evening's dinner. His son, Scott waited at the hotel for him and he wanted to find what he needed and return before it became too late.
When he reached a corner, a young woman stood in rags, singing. Her voice was strong, and at her feet was a basket and a small tape recorder played the music, which accompanied her voice.
Paul looked in the basket at her feet; it was empty. This is sad, he thought to himself. Why is it that a person must live like this? He stood in the shadows as she finished the song. By this time a man approached her.
He was dressed in a suit and tie, and seemed to be in a big hurry. "Why don't you go home?" He addressed the woman as he kicked the recorder over. "No one wants to pay to hear you sing." He continued on his way.
The woman reached down by her feet and picked up the tape recorder. When she pushed the 'play' button, the tape made a strange noise and stopped. The music was gone. She wiped her hands over her eyes and sighed deeply. Her eyes glanced skyward. The stars were just beginning to peek out, as it got darker. "Now this is broken," she said softly as she picked up the basket and turned around. "Maybe he was right."
"Please, wait." Paul emerged from the shadows, which concealed him. "I listened." he said as he handed her a 5 dollar bill.
"Thank you," she accepted the money and put it in her pocket. When she looked up at him, she smiled.
"I'm Paul," he introduced himself. "You wouldn't happen to know where I can find a supermarket around here, would you?"
The girl felt a rumble in her stomach, "yes," She offered. "I haven't seen you around here, have I? You're new to the neighborhood, aren't you?"
Paul nodded, "Yes, my son and I are just passing through." He paused before asking, "What's your name?"
"I'm Jasmine." She led him further down the street.
"Do you sing for a living, Jasmine?" Paul asked.
"No, I sing to live." She answered, "I came here a few months ago. I figured it's either sing or become a call girl."
"A call girl? Who would you call?" Paul asked.
She looked at him strangely. "A prostitute." She said weakly. "Life on the streets isn't so great. Besides, I could never do that. There are diseases and so I figured I would try to make money doing what I love."
"How many songs do you know?" Paul asked.
"Many songs," she said. "I remember back in Omaha, my brother and I used to sing together. This was my main joy, to learn a new song, and harmonize with him." As they reached the end of the street, she changed the subject. "Well, here's the store." She stood in the shadows as Paul passed the night security guard and entered the store.
Jasmine laid the broken tape recorder on the ground and stood near the bushes, which were to the side of the store. Her voice, shaky at first, filled the star-filled sky.
"Calling occupants of interplanetary craft. We are your friends..." As she sang, her voice became stronger and stronger. "You've been observing our Earth and we'd like to make a contact with you."
By this time the security guard approached her with a stick in hand. "Get out of here, you vagrant." He called out to her. "You're scaring off the customers." The man came closer, and Jasmine stopped singing. She did not move, but rather stood unable to move. The man raised his stick to strike her, and she sank to her knees with her hands behind her neck. When the stick came down, it stopped in mid-air.
Jasmine looked up to see Paul's hand holding the stick. "I don't think she is scaring anyone," he said calmly, but one would question whether or not what you are doing is
The man looked at Paul, then at Jasmine, shrugged his shoulders and left. "If I see you here again, girl, I'll call the police." He said as he made his way back to the door.
Jasmine was still on her knees when a pair of hands rested on her shoulders. "Are you OK?" Paul asked as he took her hands and helped her to her feet.
She nodded shame covering her features.
"What was that you were singing when the man came?" He asked, "I heard some of it when I came out, but not all."
"It's a song I heard some years ago, it's called 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft'. It's one of my favorite songs," she offered. "I used to listen to a group called 'The Carpenters' and they did a rendition of this song. It kinda makes me believe that one day we'll have a contact with beings from another world." She smiled weakly, "I guess it's kinda stupid, huh?"
"I don't think so," Paul offered. "What else do you sing?"
"I sing the songs that have meaning to me." She picked up the cassette player and spoke again. "People don't like my music. I don't understand. Like the man that broke this; he has no idea that this is how I live. He has a home, and a family and doesn't have to scrape by for food. He probably has no idea that if I don't make enough money during the day, then I don't eat." She shook her head trying to be strong. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to unload my problems on you." She refused to cry, and instead offered him a weak smile.
"Then come with me," Paul offered. "I have to get back to the hotel so my son won't worry, but, I bought enough food, and we can share it with you."
"You don't have to," she began, "I don't want you to feel sorry for me." As much as she wanted to accept his offer, she realized how important it was to her to not have him pity her. But, she couldn't deny it that she wanted to remain in the company of this compassionate man.
"Well, come because you made it possible for us to not go to bed hungry tonight." Paul said smiling, "I feel sorry for the man who has no music in his heart. Where I come from, music is very special."
"I wish it was that way here," she said passionately. "Do you know something, when I was a little girl, my uncle told me a story. He used to work for NASA and told me that I was very lucky to live during this time because they were looking for alien contacts."
Paul tried to react casually, but he knew what was coming next. "Really?" Was all he could say.
"I was really afraid when he told me, but then he said that with the probe they sent up, there was music on a disc. It was like a giant gold CD. My parents thought it was insane to send a disc with music on it, but I used to ask my uncle what songs. He told me that we should share our music with those who want to hear it, and maybe through it, we'd find a way to communicate."
"You're really into outer space, aren't you?" Paul asked smiling.
"I guess so," said Jasmine, "I wanted to study Astronomy when I was younger, but had no aptitude for science. I heard that it was mostly Physics. But, I think it has to do with the fact that I have always been like my uncle. Right before I came here, my uncle stopped working for NASA and started working for some small governmental agency. " She paused, "Paul, do you believe that there is life on other planets?"
"Yes, I do." Was all he said.
"I do too," she continued to speak. "My uncle started working in Arizona for some government secret installation. He called one night and told my father that they had brought in a couple of aliens. My uncle was completely disgusted with the treatment of these beings by the government and quit his job there. He said that instead of running tests and treating them like oddities, they should have simply talked. He said that he looked into the eyes of one of them and felt pity for them. Then he said that he felt peace for the first time in his life. My father thought he was crazy for wanting to quit his job, but I felt proud of him." Paul saw her smiling. "I'd have done the same thing."
Paul remained silent as Jasmine continued to speak.
"After my uncle quit, I heard a rumor that the aliens escaped. I wish it were true. If a being from another world were to come up to me, I'd welcome him with open arms, not stick the military on him. What do you think?"
"I think people fear what they don't understand." Paul said simply. "What does your uncle do now?"
"He's gone into computers, I think, and does well with them. I haven't seen him in about 4 months. But, I think his lifelong dream of being an astronaut will never die. I think he is going to go back to NASA and work as a computer technician one day."
"If your uncle is doing so well, Jasmine, why are you scraping by for food? Paul couldn't help but ask.
A silent tear slid down her cheek. "I ran away because my parents wanted me to go to Law school and become a lawyer. They refused to pay for music school, or for me to become an astronaut. If I stayed at home, then I would have to do things their way. It sounds like a cop-out, but I can't go home and since I don't know where my uncle is, I can't go to him either."
Paul smiled, "I don't think you are making a cop-out. I think you have a pretty voice and I like to hear you sing." He noticed her look at the ground and as they reached the lit parking lot for the hotel, he noticed a slight blush color her cheeks.
"Thanks, Paul, it's nice of you to say. It's also nice to have someone listen. To so many people I'm a vagrant, and am stupid or on drugs, but the fact is, I'm neither of these things."
"Come with me." Paul led the way to the room. When they reached the room, Paul tapped on the closed door. "Scott, open the door it's me."
The door swung open and Scott poked his head outside. "Hey, Dad, you took long enough."
Paul nodded, "Yes, I know, I'm sorry if I made you worry."
Jasmine stood shyly by the door running her hands down the front of her blouse. As she watched the two of them talk, a silent tear slid down her cheek. She wiped it away wishing that she had that same closeness with her family that the two of them seemed to share.
Paul turned and gently took her arm. "Scott, this is Jasmine. She showed me the way to the store."
Scott's eyes took in the guest in their room. The first thing he noticed was how shabbily she was dressed. Finally, he spoke. "Hi."
She returned his greeting. She remained by the door, but Paul pulled a chair and turned to her. "Jasmine, please, sit down," he offered.
She did as he instructed and sat down while Paul explained to Scott how they had come to meet.
"So, you sing?" Scott asked. When he received a confirming nod, he spoke again. "I can't carry a tune in a bucket."
Paul looked questionably at his son and got the 'I'll explain later' look.
Jasmine objected, "Everyone can sing." She said.
"OK, I'll agree with you on that, but let's just say no one would pay to hear me sing." Scott said sheepishly.
"Let me try something," Jasmine offered reaching for the tape player. When she looked at it, she remembered it had been broken. Finally, she began to sing a song by Allison Krause acapella. "Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart. Love you when we're together, love you when we're apart..."
Paul sat down on the corner of the bed and watched as the young woman sang. The words struck him because they demonstrated the love he felt for Scott's mother.
When she was finished, Scott spoke up, "I don't think I could sing that well."
"You never know until you try. I'll sing with you." She said. They sang the line together and then she spoke again. "OK, now you try it alone."
Scott did as he was told and when he was finished, his smile could have lit the sky. "I can't believe that was actually me."
Jasmine smiled at the expression of the happy teenager. "Now, you try, Paul."
This time Paul blushed and Scott laughed. "Come on, Dad, you can sing. I've heard you, in the shower." Within seconds, he had dodged the pillow Paul had thrown at him.
"I have to fix the food," Paul groped for an excuse.
"Come on Paul, you did say that where you're from, music is very important." Jasmine said.
"OK," he sang the line. When he had finished, he turned around without a word and went to prepare the food.
As the three of them ate the food, Jasmine felt much better. Being in the company of people like Paul and Scott made a difference to her. But, as they finished eating, Jasmine knew that soon she would have to leave.
As she was grabbing for her tape player, Paul spoke to her, "thank you for joining us this evening, Jasmine. That song reminded me of how much I love Scott's mother."
"I'm glad," Jasmine said, and the player was forgotten. "You also encouraged me, Paul. But, at the same time, tonight reminded me of something I thought I'd forgotten about." She opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.
"Wait, Jasmine, what is it?" Paul asked softly almost afraid of what the answer was going to be.
"This thing that happened in Arizona, what my uncle told me." She said, "I think I must now go find him, and ask him if he had heard anything. The whole story reminds me of why I sing. I want to remind people of who we are, and no matter where we come from, we're here now. Does that make any sense?"
"Yes, it makes a lot of sense," Paul offered. I really want to tell her that she doesn't need to worry about the events at Peagrum, but I'd never know where to begin, and once I do, I could never end until she knows the truth about us, he thought sadly. Scott would no doubt fail to understand why I told her.
"Ever since I was a small child, I have wondered what it would be like to talk to someone like that; someone different. I guess because I've always felt different."
"But, each person is different," Paul objected. "One doesn't have to be from another planet to look and feel different."
She smiled, "You have a point." When Scott poked his head out into the hallway, she continued, "I better go now." Although, she had no real home to go to, she knew that the two of them would no doubt want to be alone. She walked slowly down the hall and out the door leading outside.
Paul and Scott went back into the room. "Scott, there's something unusual about her."
Scott nodded, "Yeah, I felt it too."
"She knows about what happened to us a Peagrum." Paul said.
"There's no way, this was probably kept secret from everyone."
"I know, but her uncle worked there, and quit, and he told her about what went on there." Paul said.
"Does she know it was us? You didn't tell her anything weird, did you?" Scott asked.
Paul shook his head. "She did most of the talking. Jasmine is very idealistic, Scott. As we walked, she spoke about what happened with Voyager and then Peagrum."
"It could be a trap, remember Angela?" Scott asked referring to the mentally ill woman who pretended to be Jenny Hayden.
"Yes, I remember, but I don't think that Jasmine is like Angela. She is very concerned for us. It seems that all her energy is focused on finding the answer to what became of us after Building 11."
"Well, maybe you can tell her something," Scott offered, "She left her tape player here." Scott said as he handed his father the small player. Paul sat it on the table and put on his jacket. "But, Dad, don't tell her everything, this is too weird."
"Trust me, Scott." He paused, "I'll be back soon." He picked up the player and left the room.
By this time, it was really late, and when he reached the spot where he had found her earlier, there was no one around. He continued walking and soon reached a park. He remembered the park when Jasmine had shown him the way to the store. He turned around and saw a big group of trees. In the center of the trees, on a bench, was Jasmine.
"Jasmine," he called out.
She looked up, "Paul, what are you doing here?"
"You left it in our room, so I brought it back," he offered sitting down next to her. The dim light cast a shadow on her face, and he saw the tears streaming down her cheeks. He reached over and brushed them away. "Are you OK?" He asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
She shook her head, "The player is broken, and now I have to return to my parents. I can't live like this, I think you've known from the start." She looked at the ground and Paul realized that what he saw was a very frightened girl behind the golden voice and idealism. She rubbed her eyes.
Paul reached into his pocket and retrieved his sphere; he realized that at this moment she needed to know. Maybe in knowing, she'd be able to let it go, and find the courage to make her life her own. "I'm going to answer at least one of your questions," He said gently concentrating on the sphere. Within seconds the cassette player was repaired. When the sphere returned to its natural state, Paul returned it to his pocket.
Upon seeing the blue light emitting from Paul's hand, she backed away from him. Paul handed the cassette player back to her when he was finished. When he saw her wide eyes, he spoke. "Don't be afraid, I mean you no harm."
"Who are you?" Her words came out in a whisper.
"I am who you spoke of when you told me about your uncle's job in Arizona. The aliens were me, and my son." He paused, "Jasmine, you must understand that our anonymity is very important, so I'm asking you not to mention this to anyone. We were captured by a man named George Fox, and were locked up at a place called Building 11. But, we escaped because a friend was there when we needed him."
"That's why you believed me when I told you what my uncle said. You were so quiet throughout the whole conversation." Jasmine said.
He nodded, "I'm really touched that you were so concerned for us during this time. You didn't even know us, and then tonight when you told me about this, I was surprised that you chose to tell a stranger."
She shrugged as he continued to speak. "Don't give up your dream of making music. Perhaps, one day your family will understand and accept the choices you make. Regardless of what they say, always remember that you are a special young woman, and you possess a great deal of talent."
"Me?" Jasmine's eyes brimmed with unshed tears.
Paul nodded again.
"Is all of this why you asked me about the song, 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft'?" She asked softly.
"Yes. But, now I must go." Paul said. "Scott is waiting for me."
"Paul, remember what I said when we were walking to the hotel earlier?" Jasmine asked.
"Yes, I remember."
She stood in front of him and wrapped her arms around him in an embrace. Paul hugged her as well.
"I want to thank you for teaching us about your world of music." Paul released her and put his hands on her shoulders. "But, Jasmine, please do return home. In time, your family will have to accept your dreams as they are. If they don't, find another way to live, life on the road isn't fun, it's dangerous."
She nodded numbly, "I'm afraid, Paul."
"I know you are," he said softly. He stood up, "keep singing Jasmine, someday someone will stop and listen. With a voice like you have, it would be impossible not to notice."
She watched him as he stood up and called out, "Good-bye, Paul." Seconds later, she began to sing to his retreating back. The song, "All I Have To Do Is Dream" suddenly filled the star-filled sky.
Paul smiled as the words to the all too familiar song were heard. He began to sing along with Jasmine as he left the park. With each step he took, her voice faded and by the time he reached the spot where he had met her, his voice was the only one he could hear.