My girl's left, but they did not come back right away. There was no set of twins waiting in the fathoms of space-time for their opportunity to spend time with me, like there had been every moment up until now.
"Where are Kare and Kair?" I asked Mariam and Mariel.
"You just saw them leave, didn't'cha?" Mariel asked.
"Yes, but why haven't they come back yet?" I asked.
"Jasper dear, they never come back right away. They only visit us 'bout once a month," Mariam explained kindly.
"They always come right back for me," I explained, getting depressed. "They're supposed to rescue me and bring me back to my own time. I thought we were just making a quick detour here and then we'd be on our way back to the present."
"When exactly is the present for you? You don't seem much older than us," Mariel said.
"I'm from the thirty-third century AD, approximately twenty-four and a half centuries in the future," I answered.
"How can you be from that far in the future if you're my grandson?" Mariam asked.
"I died in eighteen sixty-two, at the age of eighteen. I'll be eighteen forever," I answered.
"Ya said that before, that you're dead, but I don't really understand how that's possible," Mariel replied. "Dead people can't be pregnant with twins."
"Well I'm not really dead, but transforming from human to my kind is so painful it's like dying. We like to think that our human selves died on the date of our transformation and we were reborn into our second lives."
"And how's that work? The transformation?" Mariam asked.
"Mary, you can't possibly be considering this! He just said it was so painful that it was worse than death!" Mariel exclaimed.
"Well you're not the one expected to be dead in ten years, are ya?" Mariam retorted. "If his kind live forever, then it'd be worth the pain."
"I'm not gonna change you, because then you wouldn't be able to give birth to my mother and I wouldn't exist so that I wouldn't be able to go back in time to change you and you wouldn't be changed and then I would exist again. You see, it's a vicious cycle that I'm not gonna start," I explained.
"An' how exactly would one go 'bout transforming?" Mariam asked.
"Mary!" Mariel hissed.
"I'm not gonna tell you the specifics, but you have to be transformed by someone of my species. Normally we transform someone we want to marry, but if not, then the relationship is more like the parent-child relationship."
"Did your wife transform you?" Mariel asked.
"No, a woman named Maria did."
"Did she want you for a husband or for a son?" Mariam asked.
"At first she wanted me as a tool for vengeance, because her husband had been murdered. Then when I pleased her, it became more of a romance, but we never married. Eventually we split up, because we weren't meant to be together and she still loved her dead husband. Then I found Alice and I've been happy ever since."
"How long've you two been together?" Mariel asked.
"The vast majority of that time was with Alice. I was with Maria for less than a century."
"So is your first child already grown then?" Mariam asked.
"No, our children grow very slowly. Our oldest two are almost thirteen hundred years old, but they're 'bout the same maturity as fourteen year old humans. There's a little difference, because our kind are smarter and have the advantage of years, but then my kids aren't even close to going through puberty yet."
"Well fourteen year old humans wouldn't be going through puberty yet either," Mariam replied.
"Actually, puberty in humans kept occurring earlier and earlier. They had to modify their DNA to fix it. They've now got the age of puberty back up to twelve."
"What's DNA?" Mariel asked.
And at the same time, Mariam said, "That's awful! Just how low did it fall to?"
"DNA is a molecule inside us that stores the code that makes us; almost every aspect of us. Identical twins have the same code. If we change the code, we change ourselves, but it's very complicated. And it went down to five, but there was a big press to fix it as soon as it dropped to eight. It took a while and they still don't have it back to the proper age, although there's still some debate over just what the proper age is."
"Well it's seventeen of course!" Mariel exclaimed. "Everyone knows that."
"We both got our chests right on our seventeenth birthday this year," Mariam added, telling more than I ever wanted to know about my grandmother.
"Already in my time the age was sixteen, but a few girls developed earlier. I had a cousin who had a baby at sixteen and I had sex for the first time at sixteen."
"But you were just children!" Mariam exclaimed.
And at the same time, Mariel said, "That's disgusting."
"It was a major problem, because once children were having sex, they were having babies and no one was getting married. Then when they did become adults, they were over the having children thing and didn't want to marry. Then they'd grow old and suddenly want children, so only the children and the grandparents were having children and the adults wanted nothing to do with either. Society almost collapsed."
"How'd they fix it?"
"Well eventually it fixed itself, because all of the backwards people died without leaving children, so the messed up DNA wiped itself out. And the onset of puberty started going back up and they started putting the children on birth control, so that only adults could have children again. And they outlawed people over the age of one hundred fifty reproducing, so now you've got to get sterilized on your one hundred fiftieth birthday. Plus, the current fashion trend for adults includes a child on the hip. Fashion and culture can solve many of the world's problems."
"People are living to be that old?" Mariam asked.
"Mandatory sterilization? How barbaric," Mariel said.
"Yes, humans live far longer now than they used to. The increased lifespans would've caused a big problem with overcrowding the globe, but like I said, all of those people died without having children. The Earth was actually under populated for a time."
"I don't think I wanna be alive for all that," Mariam replied.
"Well that won't happen until long after your times, even if you both live to be a hundred. Just don't tell anyone, because I don't wanna mess up the time-line. I'd love to warn humanity and solve the world's problems before they begin, but we can't mess up what will be or it'll never happen. So you've gotta promise me you won't tell."
"We won't tell, I promise," Mariam replied.
"Promise," Mariel added.
"Now, don't you two have some laundry that needs doing?" I asked, remembering that they had been down at the water washing clothes when they rescued me. "I can come with you and help."
They agreed and so the three of us set off to wash some clothes. With my help, the laundry was done in a matter of minutes, so I carried the wash back to the homestead and helped the twins hang it up on the clothesline that ran between the house and the barn. After that they went to work on their other chores and I butchered the dead cow for them. It was nice to be back on a farm, doing the things I had not done since I was a boy, but mostly I just missed my girls.
A couple days passed, during which I occupied myself with chores around the homestead, before my twins came back. Mariel, Mariam, and Monroe were all surprised to see them back so soon, but I was wondering why it had taken them so long to return.
"Daddy!" Kair and Kare shouted, jumping into my arms the moment Mariam and Mariel pulled them out of the wormhole.
"Where've you two been? I've been worried sick wondering just how long I was gonna have to wait here for you to come back for me!" I said squeezing the girls to me and sending them my love and gratitude.
"Oh, sorry," Kair said.
"We thought you knew that you've gotta stay here until you find our hosts," Kare said.
"Well why didn't we just go straight to that time?" I asked.
"We could've, but then you would've never chosen them. And if you choose the wrong hosts, we'll get stuck in time during the parasitism, because our hosts will fall into wormholes, just like you did. Then we'll die before being able to rescue you," Kair answered.
"So I've gotta stay?" I asked, resigning myself to my fate. I wanted to get back to my wife and children, but I did not want to risk my twins' lives.
"Yes," Kare replied.
"Um, what's a host?" Mariam asked.
"It's nothing really, just part of the pregnancy," I answered, trying to be vague and emotionally urging her to drop it.
"Is that how men get pregnant?" Mariel asked, not dropping it.
"Yes, that's part of it."
"And how does that work?" Mariam asked, her curiosity insatiable.
"It's complicated," I said hoping that they still might drop it, but when they did not, I continued. "Our kind can't get pregnant the normal way. We can try for centuries, millennia even, and not have a baby. We have to be pared with a human for each baby, because we don't have any blood of our own. Everyday we transfer small amounts of blood from the human to the developing baby, but the human survives and lives a perfectly normal life. We call the human the host."
"Is it like leaching?" Mariel asked.
"Yes, but we don't use leaches anymore. We have more sanitary means of withdrawing blood without harming people. In fact, it's used in medicine all of the time."
"That doesn't sound so bad, but if you're pregnant, why haven't you found a host already?" Mariam asked.
"Well I'm not very pregnant and the hosts are only needed after a certain time. Right now the babies and growing off of the animal blood I drink. If they don't get human blood, and not through me, but transfused straight to them, then they'll die and I'll miscarry."
"So how long do you have until that time? I love those girls and I'll give my blood to save them if I hafta," Mariam said.
"I've got another twenty years before then."
"Twenty years? You're gonna be pregnant for twenty years?" Mariel asked.
"The entire process takes two hundred years. I'm only eighty years in and they don't need the blood until the half-way point."
"Wow! I wonder what Bethany'll say when she hears you've been pregnant for eighty years already… She was complaining 'bout the nine months it took to make Monty," Mariel said.
"You can't tell her. You can't tell anyone; you promised."
"Okay, but eighty years? And we hafta keep it to ourselves?" Mariel asked.
"Yes, you most certainly do have to keep it to yourselves. No one can know what you know, because it's against the laws of my kind to tell humans our secrets. If this gets out, our police would come and kill you and everyone else who knows," I warned, just now realizing that the Volturi were still very much a threat in this time. Sure I had wanted to protect the secret before, but with this realization, that mission just became a lot more urgent. If I could go back in time, I would have found a way to avoid their questions to keep them safe. I suddenly found myself wishing I was back in my wormhole and I never thought I would wish for that.
"But you'd protect us," Mariam insisted.
"I'd try, but there are lots of them and only one of me. They'd over power me and kill us all."
"We won't say a word, just like we promised," Mariam replied.
"I won't tell neither, but if you've got another twenty years before you hafta find this host, then what're you so worried about?" Mariel asked.
"I just wanted to get home to my own time already. I miss my other four kids and my wife. I don't even know how long it's been since I've been gone."
"Mommy said you left her for fifteen years," Kare said, speaking up for the first time in several minutes.
"Fifteen years? I have to wait here for fifteen years to find your hosts?"
"Yes," Kair answered.
"Why can't you just tell me and I grab them and we run them through the wormhole back to the present? I know there's no air in there, but they can hold their breaths and I'll run super quickly."
"One of them isn't born yet. Besides, you told us not to listen to you and to leave you back with Nana Mariam," Kare insisted.
"I'm beginning to dislike my future self."
Author's Note: The hybrids will be coming for a visit next chapter! There is a new hybrid on the way, because someone forgot to take his birthcontrol…
In other news: today is my 30th birthday! I would like reviews for my birthday this year!