Disclaimer: Nothing you recognise is mine etc etc etc
I'm also not Australian so if there are any inaccuracies in this, I hope they don't spoil the story.
Madam, I'm Adam.
It had, once, been just an ordinary house, sitting among identical houses on an ordinary street. But, as more time went on and fewer people braved living in it, the more it was known as 'the old Newman house.'
A lot of houses had history, events that had occurred within their walls.
For some, that was a draw, morbid fascination and the like but this one seemed to hold onto what had happened more strongly. Even those who didn't know the story claimed they could feel something wrong. People who scoffed at ghost stories, the idea that walls could hold memories, echo past trauma back at new inhabitants, still registered that there was something wrong with the house, and so it stood unsold. Renters tried it out, but none stayed long and neighbours didn't try and stop them leaving. Even as time went by, and new neighbours came, those that hadn't been there when it happened, had never met Theresè, Mark and their boy, the story remained.
- Yeah, I remember them. Lived a few doors down, nice couple. She was a doctor, or a dentist, something like that. He worked in the city; not sure what he did, but he wore a suit, had a nice car, so must've been pretty hotshot, yeah? They'd only been here a few months when - you know. The boy? Can't say I ever spoke to him, not properly. Quiet sort. No, no trouble from any of them, total shock when it happened.
Did I see anything? No, nothing, I was at work. No, I haven't seen the boy since either, heard he totally disappeared. Hardly surprising, really…
The boy sat on the beach and gazed out to sea.
Something he'd done so many times before it was hardly remarkable, and he tried to hold onto that normality, cling to the fact that although his world had been shattered, the rest of it continued as if nothing had happened.
The sound of the waves was calming, something he'd known all his life.
He drew his legs in to his chest, arms lying across his knees, his chin resting on top, and stared at the blue, blue sea, stretching on forever.
There was nothing but the here and now. His past was gone, obliterated, nothing to go back to, and the future, it seemed, had evaporated along with it, to be replaced by this incomprehensible situation he now found himself in. It was too much to take in.
Just what had happened to his family, his home, would have been enough to reduce him to a state of shock, without being snatched out of there and inexplicably finding himself in the ocean, washing ashore on this Island that made no sense.
Life before hadn't always been easy, but compared to this, it had been a breeze.
So what now?
He didn't know, so he just sat and he stared.
- The Newman boy? Yes, he was a student here, transferred in a few months back. Bright kid, too. Good scores on his VCE assessments, his teachers had high hopes for him. Uni, good career, the lot. Such a shame what happened.
I beg your pardon?
How dare you come in here and accuse one of my students of something like that?
No, I do not believe what some people are saying. I don't know why he disappeared, but that doesn't mean a thing! There is no way that boy murdered his own parents!
Now get out, before I call the police!
Goddamn gutter press…
Would it be easier to take in without an alien spaceship being involved?
Would that make it more normal, if such a word could be applied to his situation?
Maybe, but then without the ship, he wouldn't have any answers at all.
Some of it, over time, he was figuring out for himself. That whatever it was that had happened to him, personally, the changes within him, had always been going to happen. He'd always been different, that was no surprise to learn; he'd felt that way all his life. Thought that some of it came from moving around so much, for Dad's job, never staying anywhere for long, never settling anywhere or fitting in. Mostly, it had never bothered him too much; he just got on with his life the best he could, trying to ignore the nagging feeling that something was missing.
But just as his life was reaching the point where he was starting to take control of it, making his own choices, learning who he was – or so he thought – this had happened. More than one thing, really, all at once, too much to take in, so he focused on himself, the things he'd learned he was capable of. Tested them, discovering his limits and pushing against them. Found after a while, that he could teleport - as the Ship called it, when it planted thoughts in his brain in a way that should be unnerving but was only half as strange as the rest of what his life had become - at will, could, if he chose, go back home.
Only he didn't have a home. Not anymore.
"Hey guys!" he called out, pushing open the back door.
"Adam, run!" his mother screamed, sounding almost nothing like his mother, her voice contorted with terror.
"Get out, run!"
Shock grabbed hold of him first, freezing him so that he had no chance of avoiding the masked man who appeared through the kitchen door like something from a horror film. The man punched him, a fist driven viciously into his gut that knocked the wind from him, leaving him defenseless as the man dragged him into the living room, throwing him down beside his parents. Both were already battered and bleeding, the marks from the blows inflicted upon them clear on their faces.
Stunned, Adam looked up at the three masked men who'd invaded his home, two bearing shotguns. What the hell was going on? A robbery?
He'd heard of home invasions by armed robbers, but here, in his family's home? They were nothing special in the neighbourhood, not poor, but not exactly rich either.
They had nothing to take that was worth this level of force, surely?
His father was attempting to say something to that effect to the men, explaining that he and his family wouldn't resist, there was no need for violence, that the men could take anything and go, just please, don't hurt his family.
"Well, that's up to you, ain't it? What you got?"
"We – we have some cash in the study, locked in the desk."
Mark exchanged a look with his wife.
"A few hundred dollars. The key's there, on the ring with my car keys"
Mark gestured to the bunch of keys the first man was holding. Adam recognised the keyring as the one he'd made for his Dad in art class, when he was nine.
"Okay, what else?"
The man threw the keys at one of his accomplices, the unarmed man, who went off to ransack Theresè and Mark's study.
"Um, I don't know. We don't keep a lot of valuables…"
The man stepped up to Mark, shoving the barrel of the shotgun closer to his face.
"Think real closely, now. You don't get a second chance."
"I have some jewellery."
Theresè raised her hands, as if trying to ward off any harm to her husband.
"On my dressing table. My mother's rings, a few brooches. I don't know what they're worth, but-"
"That'll do. Fetch."
He gestured to the second man, who also disappeared.
"Nothing else, nothing hidden. Look, take anything you want, but we don't have some big secret stash-"
"Be sure you don't. Cos if there's anything here, we'll find it."
They'd already ransacked the living room; that much Adam could tell. Had his parents come home and disturbed them in the act? If they'd all been just a little later home, could all this have been avoided?
The unarmed man came back from the study, clutching a handful of dollars.
"Anything else?" the first man demanded.
His colleague shook his head.
"Bunch a books, nothing more."
"Search the rest of the house. Be thorough, but quick. We ain't got all day."
The man dumped the money on top of a pile of things – Adam saw his father's wallet there, his mother's purse, his own camera, a present from his grandmother before she'd died earlier that year - and went out again. Adam could hear crashing noises coming from upstairs as the intruders hunted through the house. What were they hoping to find? Gold bars piled up in a safe? The Mona Lisa?
Adam stared at the shotgun the man was holding, the muzzle pointed at his family. If he was quick, maybe he could grab it, wrestle it from the man and turn it on him.
But then what? Shoot him? He'd never fired a gun in his life, didn't know how, and up 'til now he'd never wanted to, hated violence. And as to whether he could go through with it, even to protect his parents…
The man caught him looking.
"Wanna try your luck, kid?"
Adam looked up at the eyes, partly hidden by the mask, of the man threatening his parents. They seemed amused at the idea of the long-haired, quiet teenager attacking him, secure in the fact that as long as he held the gun, he was in charge.
Adam didn't like that.
He could feel something tingling at the very edge of his senses, a kind of intuition he'd become accustomed to but never fully understood. The more he stared up at the man, the more the sensation grew within his mind, like something pushing its way out from within his brain, shouting at him to see something he'd missed. It made no sense, but Adam couldn't ignore it. This was more than just fear for his family, but what was it?
The man's attention had wandered away from Adam already, categorising him as no threat, more interested in the loot his accomplices had brought back.
Which wasn't much.
"This it?" he yelled, and Adam wondered how no-one outside the house had heard them; the house was detached, but no great distance from the neighbours yet they didn't seem to care about being overheard.
"I told you, we don't keep valuables in the house. You have the bank cards; that's all the money we have."
"Yeah, right. House like this? Car like that in the drive?"
"It's a company car! I don't own it!"
Mark's frustration was clear.
"Look, I don't know what you were expecting to find, but we're just a normal family, we don't have anything much worth taking!"
"All sentimental value, that it?"
The man eyed Theresè in a way that sent a shudder through Adam.
"I can see why. Wife like yours, I'd be 'sentimental' too."
Theresè returned his stare bravely, trying to mask her revulsion in the hope of protecting her family.
"Please, you have what you came for. Leave us alone."
There was no reply as the three men bagged up their finds in Adam's sports bag, then the leader raised his shotgun to cover them.
"Alright, we're done. Up, all of you."
The Newmans didn't move; Adam could sense the uncertainty radiating from his parents, a feeling he shared.
"I said get up! Do you want me to shoot you all?"
Exchanging glances, the family did as they were told.
"Get in the bedroom; we'll lock you in so you don't go getting any ideas about calling the cops, right?"
The buzzing in Adam's head was getting worse, rising to a crescendo that made it hard to think. He could feel the satisfaction, the superiority crashing around in the man's vile mind; he held the gun, he had the power. He could make them do what he wanted. Stupid little people, nothing to him, he could do anything, their lives were his…
Without any notion of how he knew, Adam realised with absolute certainty that this man meant to kill them all. The intruder already had it visualised in his head, the bloodied bodies of Adam and his parents lying slumped on the floor after he shot them, and before Adam had thought about what he was doing, he was hurling himself at the man, grabbing his hands and shoving the gun upwards just in time.
Diverted from its intended target, Mark, the shot blasted a hole in the ceiling, plaster raining down on the room.
Bellowing in anger at his missed kill, the man shoved Adam away, belting him in the shoulder with the shotgun and knocking him to the ground before he pumped and fired the gun again.
This time, it didn't miss.
The roar of the gun was deafening, but Adam could still hear his mother's screams as they murdered Mark right in front of her, the names of her husband and son the only things that were clear in the panicked mass of her mind.
Shock and absolute disbelief filled Adam's brain. This couldn't be happening; what of this was real? He could hear everything his mother was thinking, shards of sadistic thought were escaping from the minds of the intruders and lodging within his own. There was no way out of this, it was happening so fast, the man was pumping the shotgun again and Adam couldn't move, the other intruders were kicking him as he lay on the floor, unable to get up, to stop the man from shooting his mother the same as he'd shot his father. Adam knew he was yelling but he couldn't hear the sound of his own voice over the tumult of voices, both aloud and unspoken filling the room and his brain. Panic and horror flooded through him; there was no escape, these people had killed his parents, murdered them, in cold blood, for no reason and now the gun was turning his way, there was no way out, this was it, he was going to die…
There was a blinding flash of light, so bright it dazzled the three men standing in the Newmans' living room, seared into their brains, and when they could see again, the kid had gone, vanished.