Not A Savior
They could see him walking with a swift foot up ahead, his silhouette as black as night against the unfathomable dark of the sky. Their every breath was ragged and painful, for they had been partly running and partly walking for hours, trying to escape the demolition that occurred in Elizabethtown. And every attempt to ask him to slow his pace or give them a moment's rest had been a pointless effort.
A swift intuition had already flashed itself upon Helen. She knew he was dreading something. These creatures, these creatures that were coming here in these massive machines were here to harm mankind. They were angry at him, that much was bleakly obvious in the oblivion of it all.
Before Helen or Jacob could mouth another plead for him to slow down and let them halt, he paused abruptly, like a battery that had gone dead, and he turned around. His cold, dark orbs observed them in the dark.
"Can we finally stop?" Jacob asked, irritably.
Klaatu replied not in words, but the actions that followed spoke for themselves. He began gathering things off the ground; twigs, branches, whatever he could retrieve. He knelt down and began tearing into the grass, wiping out a clearing so that it was only a dirt patch. He snatched a couple of good faggots and began rubbing them together so fast until it sounded like the working of a handsaw.
When the sparks brought flame to the pit, Helen and Jacob took their seats on the plush ground, sitting their satchels aside and searching for something to eat in the heaviest bag. Often, they glanced Klaatu with slight wariness, but he walked away, leaving them alone and finding better comfort on the edge of the hillside.
"Jacob," Helen whispered, opening the boy a can of ravioli, "you stay here with Max and finish eating. I'm going to have a word with Klaatu."
"About that machine, right Mom?" he asked.
"Just stay put."
The crickets whispered a gentle melody along the hillside that looked over a small pond accented with cattails and an open field that met a road somewhere down in the darkness.
The alien attempted to relax himself, inhaling through his nostrils and training his eyes on the sight of the moon and stars that gave mystery to the night. His mind wanted to run away with him to a dark and dangerous place, a place he felt he couldn't do anything about at the moment - but he retained that eagerness.
As he rested his mind, pushed aside his trouble, laid the horrors of the day aside to rest, he couldn't resist thinking about his own losses. It flashed through him in a sense of encumber that his home, the place he came from, was possibly lost to him for eternity. He was alone on this planet, barely relieved by the strange company he still had, left to face it all on his own. In a way, you might say that Klaatu had the weight of the whole world on his shoulders right now - maybe more than one world.
"You're thinking again." Helen had merged up to his right side, and he noted that her eyes were trained on the sky as well - not him - whilst her hands were tucked in the pockets of her jeans.
Klaatu remained unresponsive at first, turning away from the view of her and resting his eyes back on the night sky. At first, there was a social discomfort between them.
"I guess this may be the end of the world as we know it after all." Helen uttered, speaking to herself more than anything - yet she was hopeful to have his ears.
He could hear her sigh; it was rattled and shaky. They became silent and stood watching for a minute's time deriving, Helen fancied, a sort of comfort in each others company - for her at least.
"Is it hard knowing you may never get home?" she asked him. Perhaps coming right out and insisting that he begin explaining to her what was going on might have drove him away. So, she began the conversation on a subtle, sentimental scale.
"It is difficult to an extent." he replied solemnly.
She would've gladly asked him more about what he was feeling, about that tugging sensation that might have been plaguing him. But the effort might have been pointless anyway going by his silent, reluctant-to-open-up nature, and so she just began pouring out the questions. After all, weren't these his people who had come?
"But they're looking for you, aren't they? Why did you run away, other than the fact they almost killed us?"
Klaatu glanced her with an expressionless face, yet he was almost amused by this assumption of hers.
"Helen, these are not my people." he told her straight up. Might as well hit her with the facts now rather than lead her around in the dark.
"Then who are they? Klaatu, what's going on? You have to tell me."
An infinite instance of silence lapped between them and then came the great conclusion:
"They are like wolves in a sheep field. They're here to collect what they see as their property. They want this planet for one sole purpose: Resource…My overseers bargained with this race, their leaders: Should this mission fail, the Earth would fall into their rights. It would be theirs for the taking. But we knew this mission would not fail, or at least that was our assumption - you however changed my mind, and when I stopped the demolition of your species, I knew that I was taking a risk. It was only a matter of time before they came to take what they see as theirs…and now they're here. They will wipe every living thing out of existence with brute force, and they will spare you no empathy ... We have never lost a planet to them before. We've always been able to succeed, to save each dying world. But this time we- I've failed."
"But can't your people do something to stop them?"
"No Helen. The bargain was made. It was agreed. Now this world is theirs for the taking."
"Klaatu, are you telling me that you were not only trying to save the Earth from us, but from them as well?"
"Then what are we supposed to do then, sit back and accept a grim fate? How are we going to stand against them?" She was growing hysterical. "Klaatu, please! This doesn't make sense, I don't understand!"
He appeared unmoved by her words, and it was becoming clear that he had no answer. Helen's eyes were burning with hot tears that began to roll uncontrollably down her cheeks.
"Klaatu," she wept, "why the hell does it have to be this way? There has to be something you can do."
He glanced her. It wasn't easily noticed in his steely face, but there was evidence of an overwhelming exhaustion that dampened him.
"Won't you say something?" she begged. "Don't you have anything to give me here…something other than this painful silence?"
"Helen," he spoke at length, "I know what it is you seek from me, and I cannot give it to you."
"Wh-" she stammered, "what? What do you mean?"
"I cannot be a savior for your people, nor can I fill the empty void in your own life for the sake of you and your son."
"Forgive me, Helen. I desire to be alone in my thoughts."
He trailed away from her, leaving her with wet eyes, a cold shiver, and standing like a fool on the hillside.
She sat contemplating things in the grass. She could find nothing to bring against this man's - alien's - reasoning. If there was ever any hint of gentle eroticism she had for him, he had ensured himself to kill it before it blossomed into something. She liked him in a sense, his protectiveness, his intriguing perplex being. He had fascinated her from the beginning. And now he deemed himself full of habitual skepticism. He would not bend, he would not give hope. Damn him! Damn him!
She had succumbed to doubt herself.
There was a touch to her shoulder - it was only as soft as the night breeze - but she jumped at the slightest touch of his fingertips. It was Jacob standing behind her, looking worried and petrified by his step-mother's state. She was the only thing he had in this world to depend on, the closest thing to a mother's unconditional love. If he were to lose her to the same unsubstantial virtue of which she had lost Klaatu, where would he turn to? Who would he have then? - No one, that's what. She had to dry her eyes, get a hold of herself, be strong for him.
If Klaatu wasn't willing to protect and give them hope, she would.
By the following morning, Helen had filled herself with a strong-willed determination. She was readying herself to set out to find Barnhardt by taking the roads she thought she knew until she would happen upon his home.
She and Jacob completed their packing and as she strung her backpack over her shoulder, she cast her sight upon Klaatu who sat still and silent in the grass away from them.
"You're welcome to come along if you want, unless you find it more necessary to wait here and let them find you." She sniffled hard, her nose burning. "But Jacob and I are leaving. We're going to find the Professor one way or another."
Klaatu kept silent for a length of time, and she was hopeful that he'd stand up and go along, maybe rekindle his own assurance along the road.
"I will accompany you to the house." he said at last. "But I will part with you afterwards."
"Why?" Jacob demanded. "Why do you have to part?"
"It is for my own good and yours, young Jacob." the alien replied stiffly.
"That's not fair." the boy uttered. Helen rested her hand on his shoulder and when he glanced her, she shook her head as if saying 'Now is not the time.'
"Klaatu," she began, "can I ask you something?"
The alien nodded once, awaiting her to say whatever it was she wanted to ask.
"Do you ever get scared?"
He studied her: The general appearance of this woman was of one who is weary, her long dark hair loose, unkempt, her smooth skin no longer loved, her face moderately stained with dirt. The scarf about her neck blackened by mud, the laces of her shoes slowly unraveling, the thin sweater and the dark jeans hugging her thin frame tattered. But her eyes! Ah! They were still bright like the northern star on a late winter's night.
The question diluted his self-assurance, his own confident proclaiming of himself. It stunned him in an odd fashion - even as simple as it was - and she observed this almost concededly. How could he reply so that it made sense? What was the tangible emotion that struck fear from a human's standpoint? It was true that he himself boasted an instinctive fear; as of right now he was fearful of these new invaders and what they would do. But what did Helen think fear was to him? Knowing the extraordinary differences between them, Klaatu doubted it was the same.
To Be Continued.