My name's Karen Nielsen and I'm fifteen years old. I'm tall and I have short red hair and green eyes. I live in Seattle, Washington. It's a wonderful, green city and I love it. I live with my parents and my dog, Tex, in a yellow house with a lovely garden. Tex is a big brown dog and he's three years old. I have a lot of fun playing with him.
In my free time I like playing volleyball, going rock climbing and listening to music. I have a big music collection and I love listening to music with my friends. I also like reading science fiction books.
My story begins in August, a month before school started. My parents and I were having breakfast in the kitchen and we were watching the local news on the television.
Suddenly the newsreader said, «Alien Alert! Early this morning there was a report of an unidentified flying object near the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. Two tourists saw a UFO in the sky above them. They said it was gray and round. They also said it didn't make any noise. Later this morning a high school teacher saw the same UFO flying above her house. The Seattle Police are investigating.»
«Wow!» I said. «An alien spaceship here in Seattle! This is exciting!»
«Do you believe it?» asked my mom.
«Who knows? I don't think we're alone in this big universe,» said my dad. «The Earth is only a small planet, you know.»
I started thinking about aliens and went to the library to look at some books about UFOs.
That evening all the newspapers had «ALIEN ALERT!» on their front pages.
A month later I went back to high school. This is my second year at Washington High School and I like it a lot. When I finish school and university I want to become a chemist.
On the way to school I met my best friend and classmate, Barbara Reynolds. She is a tall, pretty girl. She lives near my house and we always walk to school together. She is Afro — American and one of the best students at our school. She wants to become a doctor. Basketball is her sport and she plays on the girls' basketball team. Like myself, she also enjoys listening to music.
«We have some new teachers this year,» said Barbara happily. «I hope they're all men and cute!»
«Me too. We need something new and interesting in our lives,» I said laughing.
Barbara and I like talking about boys and clothes; it is fun.
«Did you buy any new clothes for school?» she asked.
«I bought these new jeans and this black belt,» I said.
«The jeans look great with the pink T-shirt,» she told me. «I bought this new blue jacket and white trainers for the fall.»
«Did you hear about the news about that UFO near the Cascade Mountains last month?» I then asked.
«I was in California visiting my grandmother so I didn't hear much, but I read about it online,» said Barbara. «People see at least one every month in the United States, but no one has ever seen an alien.»
«Do you think they really exist?» I asked.
«I don't think we're alone in the universe,» she said. «But it's a mystery...»
We got to school at half past eight and went to our first class, science. There was a man of about thirty in the classroom.
«Hello, I'm Mr Kent, your new science teacher,» he said.
Barbara and I looked at him. He was tall and quite slim. He had blond hair and brown eyes. He was well-dressed and had a friendly face.
Then he looked at Barbara and asked, «And who are you?»
«My name's Barbara Reynolds.»
At that moment an airplane passed over our school and made a lot of noise. Everyone in class looked out of the window, but the sun was very bright in front of us and it hurt our eyes. We turned away from the window, but Mr Kent didn't. He looked directly at the airplane and at the sun. How strange, I thought, the sun doesn't hurt his eyes.
When the science lesson was over we went to the English lesson. The new teacher was a very thin man with black hair and green eyes. He had a small nose and a pale face.
«What a strange teacher!» I whispered to Barbara.
«Very strange!» she whispered.
The new teacher didn't smile and spoke slowly and coldly to the class.
«My name is Mr Wilkinson and I'm your new English teacher. I don't want any talking in class. This year we're going to study William Shakespeare and other great writers.»
«Ugh! How boring!» said two boys, who were sitting at the back of the class.
«Stop that now!» said Mr Wilkinson. «Now open your literature books at page five.»
His voice was strange: he sounded like, a robot.
Barbara touched my arm and whispered, «He's terrible! How are we going to survive this class?»
I looked at her and whispered back, «I have absolutely no idea.
A Strange New Teacher
Everyone at school had lunch at 12.30 in the cafeteria. I always had lunch with Barbara and Walter Andrews, a sixteen- year-old boy. He was tall and had dark brown hair and dark eyes, and I liked him. He was a quiet boy and didn't have many friends. His favorite subjects were math and science, and he liked computers a lot. His parents were divorced and he lived with his father and his cat, Tootsie. He was often lonely because he never saw his mother and his father was always at work. He loved Tootsie and spent a lot of time with her.
»What do you think of our new teachers?" I asked Barbara and Walter.
«Well, I think Mr Kent is really cute. He's friendly too,» said Barbara.
«But did you see the way he looked at the airplane? The sun didn't hurt his eyes,» said Walter.
«Did you hear Mr Wilkinson's voice?» I asked. «He talks like a robot; his voice is so cold.»
«And he's unfriendly,» said Barbara.
«Hey, look over there. Look at what he's drinking!» whispered Walter. We all looked at Mr Wilkinson who was sitting by himself in a corner of the cafeteria. He had a strange lunch. There was a glass of green juice in front of him, and on the table there were some black pills. He put two of them into the glass and the green juice started to make bubbles. Then suddenly it changed color and became red. Mr Wilkinson took the glass and slowly drank the mysterious red juice.
We looked at each other nervously, but then started laughing.
«How can he drink that?» I said.
«Perhaps it's a new diet,» said Barbara, «and that's why he's so thin!»
«I don't think so,» Walter said.
«There's something strange about our English teacher,» I said.
The next morning during the English lesson Mr Wilkinson started asking us some personal questions.
«Andrews. Walter Andrews,» said Mr Wilkinson. «Tell me something about yourself.»
Walter was surprised because teachers didn't usually ask personal questions.
«Well, I like computers, and my hobby is astronomy,» he said.
«I have a small telescope and I like looking at the stars. I have a pet called Tootsie; she's a black and white cat.»
«Good! You have an interesting hobby. Thank you, Walter,» said Mr Wilkinson. He then asked other students about their life and hobbies.
«H mm,» I thought, «perhaps he wants to know more about us. How strange!» Then I looked at him carefully and I noticed something: his eyes were not green anymore. They were a different color today! I suddenly had an idea.
I put up my hand and asked, «May I go to the bathroom, please?»
«Yes, of course,» Mr Wilkinson answered.
As I walked towards the door I looked at his eyes again. I was right — they were blue! They looked like the sea. I was surprised and a little scared.
That afternoon I decided to go to Walter's house. He was sitting in front of his computer. He was very interested in aliens and life on other planets. There were posters of the solar system and the constellations on the wall of his room.
«Did you hear about the alien alert last month?» I asked.
«Yeah, in the Cascade Mountains, right near Seattle!» said Walter. «The news was exciting, but the police and the newspapers never tell us the truth. I'm sure there are UFOs and aliens in the universe.»
«What are you looking at now?» I asked.
«I'm on the Internet, on the International Space Club site,» he said excitedly. «Listen to this, Karen. Something very important is happening. A comet is passing through the Virgo constellation. When a comet and a constellation meet, aliens can travel to our planet! Everything is right for intergalactic voyages!»
«What are intergalactic voyages?» I asked.
«They're when you can travel from one galaxy to another,» Walter said. «They can take place only at special times, for example, when a constellation and a comet meet. Some people say aliens come to Earth to attack us. But I think they want to study us.»
«Wow, you know everything about space!» I said.
«I love space,» said Walter, smiling. «I want to become an astronaut. I want to go to another galaxy and perhaps meet aliens!»
«Wow! That's interesting and dangerous,» I said and started thinking. Suddenly I had an idea. «Perhaps Mr Wilkinson is… an alien!» I said slowly.
«What!» he cried, looking at me. «Oh, Karen, you read too many science fiction books! He's not an alien.»
«Well, his voice doesn't sound human, his eyes change color and he has a very strange lunch,» I said.
«What do you mean, his eyes change color?» he asked surprised. «Didn't you notice?» I said. «Yesterday they were green and today they were blue!»
«Are you sure?» he asked.
«Of course I'm sure,» I said excitedly. «Listen, Walter, there was a UFO sighting last month and Mr Wilkinson is a new teacher at Washington High. No one knows where he comes from! Perhaps he arrived on that UFO.»
Walter looked at me with his big, dark eyes and said, «Well, it's possible! He has got a very strange face and his voice is really cold. Perhaps he is an alien! And that's why he asked us those personal questions — he wants to study us.»
«Exactly!» I said. «But let's study him, too! We can follow him and see were hi lives.
A Sad Story
»Good morning!" Mr Kent said, smiling. «Today we're going to the lab to do some practical work.»
The lab was a big room with long tables, chairs and big cupboards. There were white mice in cages. When Mr Kent walked by their cages they all started running around and making a lot of noise.
«What's the matter?» laughed Mr Kent, speaking to the white mice. «Are you afraid of me? I won't eat you!»
Then he looked at the class and said, «Today's lesson is about worms. I'm going to give you some worms and you have to cut them in half. The two pieces can live and move by themselves. You'll see.»
I was not happy. I looked at my worm. It was long and green. I didn't want to cut it.
«Karen, are you afraid of your worm?» asked Mr Kent, smiling. «Give me your knife and I can help you.»
His arm touched mine and I got an electric shock — I jumped up from my chair.
«What's wrong Karen?» asked Mr Kent.
«Oh, nothing, nothing,» I said, trying to smile. He cut the worm and then walked to the next table to help other students.
I wrote a note to Walter and told him about the electric shock.
«Walter!» I whispered. He turned around and I gave him the note.
«Walter and Karen, what are you doing?» asked Mr Kent. «What do you have in your hand, Walter?»
His voice scared me. Walter and I were in big trouble with the teacher.
«Ah, n...nothing,» said Walter.
«Please pay attention!» said Mr Kent. «Next time you'll have to give me the note.»
«I'm sorry, Mr Kent,» said Walter.
When the science lesson was over Mr Kent called me to his desk. «Oh, no...,» I thought.
«I'm sorry I scared you during the lesson. Two years ago I had a bad car accident and lost my arm. My left arm is artificial — it's an electric arm. Sometimes it gives electric shocks.»
I was surprised and sorry.
At lunch I told Walter and Barbara about Mr Kent's electric arm. They were both surprised.
As we walked out of the cafeteria we saw Mr Wilkinson.
«Hello, Mr Wilkinson,» said Barbara.
«Oh, uh… hi,» he said, looking at us.
His eyes were green again, but I didn't say anything.
At half past three Walter and I ran out of the school and waited for Mr Wilkinson to walk by. We saw a lot of students and teachers, but we didn't see him. Finally we saw him walking down the street and we followed him silently. He lived near the school in a pretty white house. There was a small garden around it and a big tree near the front door.
He walked into his house and we went quietly to a window and looked inside. He put some books on the kitchen table and opened the refrigerator. He took out a bottle of the horrible green juice and put it on the table. Then he went upstairs.
«Oh, no,» said Walter, «he went upstairs.»
«No problem!» I said. «I can climb up this tree.»
«Are you sure?» asked Walter surprised.
«Of course,» I said laughing. «Don't forget, I go rock climbing.»
«Well, be careful, Karen,» said Walter.
I climbed up the tree and I could see Mr Wilkinson's bedroom.
«What's happening?» whispered Walter.
«He's in his bedroom and he's sitting in front of a mirror,» I whispered back. «His hands are on his hair… Oh, no!»
«What? Tell me!» asked Walter.
I continued looking into the house. Mr Wilkinson was now completely bald! I felt cold.
Suddenly I saw my face in Mr Wilkinson's mirror and he saw it too. He turned around and looked at me. I was terrified and didn't know what to do. I could not run away because I was at the top of a big tree.
But Mr Wilkinson didn't look angry; he looked sad. He walked over and opened the window.
«Karen! What are you doing up this tree?» he asked.
«Please climb down,» he said. «I want to talk to you.»
I climbed down the tree and Walter was waiting for me. He looked very worried.
«Come on, Karen, let's run away!» he said.
«No, Walter, we can't,» I said. «Mr Wilkinson wants to talk to us.»
Mr Wilkinson came out of his house and stood in the garden.
«You students think I'm strange,» he said quietly. «I can understand why.»
Walter and I were terrified.
«Let me tell you my story. Last year my doctor told me I was very ill. I had cancer.»
«Oh, how terrible! I'm really sorry,» I said.
«Yes, it was terrible. I had an operation and then chemotherapy. After the operation I lost my voice, so now I speak with a type of artificial voice. That's why my voice sounds strange. I lost all my hair from the chemotherapy, so now I wear a wig.»
«We didn't know...,» said Walter.
«Mr Wilkinson, we're very sorry about our terrible behavior,» said Walter.
«Yes, please forgive us,» I said.
«Oh, don't worry, I am getting better now which is good,» he said quietly.
«May I ask you a question?» Walter said.
«What's that green juice you drink at lunch?» Walter asked.
He smiled and said, «The green juice and the black pills are medicines.»
«But why do your eyes change color?» I asked.
«So, you saw that, did you? You kids see everything!» said Mr Wilkinson. «I wanted to do something different so I bought a pair of colored contact lenses. I thought a new look could make me feel better.»
«Did the contact lenses make you feel better?» I asked.
Mr Wilkinson looked at me and smiled. «A little, it was nice having something different for a day. But it's my job that is really making me feel better.»
«You like your job, don't you?» asked Walter.
«I love my job,» said Mr Wilkinson, smiling. «It's wonderful to work with young people like you.»
«Do you like Seattle?» I asked.
«Yes, I do,» said Mr Wilkinson. «It's a beautiful city with lots of parks and fun things to do. And I'm starting to make a few friends.»
«Good,» I said, smiling. «Welcome to the Emerald City!» We all laughed.
Who's in the Computer Room?
After leaving Mr Wilkinson's house, Walter and I talked about our visit. Both of us felt very sorry about our behavior.
«I think we learned a big lesson today,» said Walter. «Some people seem strange because they have problems — big problems. But they're people just like you and me, and they need our help and friendship.»
«I agree with you, Walter,» I said. «But we learned two important lessons today, thanks to Mr Wilkinson: we must help and understand others. And it's not nice to invade someone's privacy.»
I thought about Mr Kent and his artificial arm. He was another person with a big problem.
«Well, the mystery is solved,» I said. «Mr Wilkinson isn't an alien! He's a very nice teacher. We walked in silence for a few minutes. We were both thinking about Mr Wilkinson.
»Hey, do you want to get an ice cream now?" I finally asked Walter.
«Good idea!» Walter said. «Let's invite Barbara.»
«Yeah, let's,» I said. «It's almost five o'clock and basketball practice is over. I'll send her a text message.»
Thirty minutes later we met Barbara and we sat down by the sea and ate our three large ice creams.
«So, what's happening?» asked Barbara.
«We have a lot of news for you,» I said.
«Really? Well, don't make me wait. Tell me immediately!» said Barbara laughing.
We told her everything: the news about the comet, and the intergalactic voyages, and how we had the idea that Mr Wilkinson was an alien. We told her about what happened when we followed Mr Wilkinson home and the teacher's sad story.
Barbara listened carefully and she was very surprised.
«The poor man,» she said sadly. «What a terrible problem! And he's alone here in Seattle, isn't he? Karen, let's make him a delicious chocolate cake next weekend. My mom can help us. It'll be a welcome present.»
«Yes, let's do it on Sunday afternoon. Then we can take it to school on Monday,» I said. «He'll love it!»
«Well, girls, I'm not a good cook, but the chocolate cake sounds great,» said Walter.
«Now tell me more about intergalactic voyages,» said Barbara.
«Yes, please do,» I said. «Perhaps aliens will come to visit Earth.»
Walter told us a lot of interesting things about UFOs and aliens.
I suddenly noticed that it was getting dark. I tried to look at my watch but it wasn't on my arm.
«Oh, no!» I said. «Where's my watch?» Then I remembered. «I took it off in the gym at lunchtime. I'm sure I left it there near the showers after volleyball. I must go and get it now!»
«Don't worry, Karen, the janitor will find it and put it in a safe place. You can get it in the morning,» said Barbara.
«But that watch is really important to me: it was a present from my grandparents,» I said.
«But the school's closed at this time,» said Walter.
«No, it's not closed today because Mrs Wong is preparing some math tests for her classes,» I said.
«How do you know that?» asked Walter.
«I heard her talking to Miss Cruz this morning,» I said.
«You know everything!» said Barbara smiling. «OK then, we'll see you tomorrow morning.»
Walter also smiled and said, «Good luck!»
I ran to Washington High and the main door was open. I went in and started going to the gym, but something stopped me. I had a strange feeling, but I didn't know what it was. Something was pushing me upstairs. I was afraid because the school was dark and silent. I started going up the stairs to the first floor.
«Where am I going? The gym is downstairs. Why am I going upstairs?» I asked myself. My heart was beating faster and faster. Something was waiting for me at the top of the stairs — I knew it. But what was it? I wanted to run home but I could not do it. I had to find out.
When I got up to the third floor I saw a light on in the computer room. I went quietly to the door. Someone was working in front of a computer. It was Mr Kent! He was writing a long line of numbers and letters. Suddenly I saw the face of an alien on his computer screen! The alien had a green head and big red eyes. It didn't have a nose or any hair. Its mouth and ears were very small.
Then Mr Kent put both of his hands on his head. He closed his eyes and started pulling his hair. He was taking his hair and his face off! Suddenly Mr Kent had a green face like the alien on the screen. He was an alien!
I was terrified but I could not run away. He started talking to the alien on the screen.
«Klyreg is calling home. Klyreg here,» he said.
«ALTANK PILLEX, Klyreg. This is your leader speaking. How are things going?» said the alien on the screen with a strange voice.
«Everything is fine, Gortz, but I'm tired of this mask. Life as a human is difficult,» he said.
«Your work on Earth is very important,» said the alien. «You have to stay there until everything is finished. Did you choose the student who will come to Mitrax?»
«No, I'm going to choose one tomorrow,» said Mr Kent.
«What?» I thought. «He's going to take a student to another planet! This is terrible!»
«There's little time, Klyreg. You have to hurry. Remember, we'll meet you and the student at the old airfield behind the school on Friday night at 9.30 p.m. Don't be late! When the comet leaves the Virgo constellation at midnight the intergalactic doors close. And then we can't return to Mitrax for another six hundred years.»
«I know, Gortz. I won't be late,» said Mr Kent.
«Good, but how will you get the student? You can't touch him or her because you're electric.»
«I have a plan,» said Mr Kent. «On Friday evening there's a PTA meeting at school. There will be a lot of people here: teachers, parents and students. During the meeting I'll ask a student to come with me to the science lab. Then I'll spray him with my special X-5 spray. With the X-5 spray humans can't think anymore, they forget who they are — they can only obey. The student will follow me to the old airfield.»
«Everything on Mitrax is ready for the human,» said the alien. «We want to study him.»
«Good. ALTANK PILLEX, Gortz,» said Mr Kent to the alien. Then he wrote a long line of numbers and letters on the computer screen and it turned black. I went quickly and quietly down the stairs and ran out of the building.
I started running down the street and across the park. I could not stop thinking about the green head and the big red eyes of the alien. And I could not believe that Mr Kent was an alien and he was planning something terrible. What could I do to stop him? I had to talk to Walter and Barbara. I felt cold and my heart was beating fast. I wanted to get home as fast as possible.
When I arrived at school the next day I went to the gym to look for my watch. I could not find it near the showers so I went to ask the janitor.
«Hello, Mr Phillips,» I said, «did you find a watch near the showers yesterday?»
«Yes, I did,» said Mr Phillips. «Here it is!» He took my watch out of a box on his desk and smiled.
«Oh, that's great! Thanks a lot,» I said happily and ran to class.
At lunch Barbara, Walter and I sat together in the cafeteria. I had a lot of things to tell them.
«Well, guys, guess who's an alien?» I said.
«Oh no!» said Walter. «Not another alien, first it was Mr Wilkinson...»
«Is this a joke?» asked Barbara.
«No, listen to me, please!» I whispered excitedly. «Mr Kent is an alien!»
«WHAT!» cried Walter.
«No, he's not!» cried Barbara, who thought I was joking.
«Shh! Be quiet!» I said. Some of the other students turned around and looked at us.
«Let me tell you what happened last night.»
I told them everything about last night. My friends were shocked but they believed me. They stopped eating their lunches.
«Do you remember the alien alert in August?» asked Walter. «All the newspapers were talking about it.»
«Yeah,» said Barbara, «some people saw a UFO near the Cascade Mountains!»
«Then Mr Kent is one of the aliens from the UFO!» said Walter. «Do you remember how he looked at the sun the first day of school? And how the mice in the cages were afraid of him? Wow!»
«Aliens scare me,» said Barbara. «A teacher who's an alien at our school...»
«I don't think aliens are bad,» said Walter. «They're just different.»
«Now listen,» I said, «other aliens are coming to the old airfield Friday night in their spaceship. They want to take Mr Kent and a student to their planet, Mitrax. They want to study humans.»
«A student!» cried Barbara. «That's one of us!»
«We have to stop him!» said Walter.
«Are the aliens coming this Friday?» asked Barbara.
«Yes, on the day of the PTA meeting,» I said. «And today is Thursday. We only have one day to do something.»
«I have an idea,» said Walter.
«What is it?» Barbara and I asked.
«We have to find the special X-5 spray and take it away from Mr Kent,» Walter said. «Without it he can't take the student.»
«Great idea!» said Barbara. «The spray is probably in the science lab or in his house.»
«This afternoon when he goes home we can look for the spray in the science lab,» said Walter. «But all the sprays and bottles are in locked cupboards, and we don't have the key.»
«Maybe my brother Matt can help us,» said Barbara. «He's a policeman and he has a special key that opens all doors.»
«Can we use it?» asked Walter.
«Well, I can't tell him our story because he'll never believe it,» said Barbara. «But sometimes he goes to work and leaves the special key in his room. I'll look for it and take it. Then I'll put it back.»
«Be careful, Barbara,» I said. «We don't want trouble with the police!»
We started laughing. It was time to go back to our afternoon classes: math and American history.
I was happy when school ended at half past three. Barbara and I went to her house and Walter stayed at the school library.
When we got to Barbara's house no one was home. We went to Matt's room and looked for the special key.
«I hope Matt didn't take the key with him,» said Barbara. She opened all the drawers and cupboards in his room and looked for it.
«Here it is!» she cried happily. «It was at the back of his desk drawer.»
«Oh, great! Now let's go back to school,» I said.
We went back to school quickly and called Walter, who was still studying in the library. It was almost five o'clock and there was no one in school. We went upstairs to the science lab. The door of the lab was open and someone was inside.
«Oh, no! It's Mr Philips, the janitor,» Walter whispered.
«Let's hide in the bathroom!» said Barbara. We hid in the bathroom for a few minutes. Then we heard Mr Phillips go downstairs.
«OK, now we can go to the lab,» said Walter.
We went inside the lab and looked around. There was a big sign on each cupboard that said, DANGER! TOXIC CHEMICALS INSIDE!
We opened the two big ones and looked at every bottle. There weren't any spray cans. Then we looked inside the smallest one and found a small black spray can. It didn't have a name.
«All the other bottles and cans have a name,» said Walter. «This must be Mr Kent's spray!» He took it out of the small cupboard and said, «It's very heavy.»
«Who wants to take it home?» I asked.
«Not me!» said Barbara. «My mother always looks around in my room.»
«Mine does too,» I said.
«Oh, I'll take it home,» said Walter. «A spray can from another planet… I can study it!»
«Don't spray yourself with it!» Barbara said laughing.
Walter, Barbara and I went home because we had a lot of homework to do. After dinner the phone rang and I answered it.
«Hi, Karen,» said Walter. «Can you come to my house? I have to talk to you.»
«It's eight o'clock and I'm doing my homework,» I said.
«Karen, please, this is important,» Walter said.
«Are you alright, Walter?» I asked. «You sound strange.»
«Please come, Karen. It's important.»
«OK, I'll be there in fifteen minutes,» I said. I quickly put on my jacket and ran downstairs to the living room. My mom was reading the newspaper and my dad was watching TV. Tex was sitting next to them.
«Mom, I'm taking Tex out for a walk.»
«At eight o'clock at night?» my mom asked, surprised.
«Yeah, I'm tired of studying,» I said. «I really need to take a walk and get some fresh air. I'll be back by nine o'clock.»
«Some fresh air is good for you, Karen,» said my dad. «It's a nice evening.»
«See you later!» I said.
Tex and I walked down the street and crossed the park quickly. What did Walter want at this time? I wanted to find out. It was a warm evening and there was a full moon in the sky.
A Big Decision
Walter was waiting for me at the front door of his beautiful house.
«Hi Karen!» he said. «You can leave Tex outside in the garden. Tootsie doesn't like dogs.»
«I know, and Tex doesn't like cats either,» I said laughing.
Walter was home alone and we went to his room and sat down.
«Karen, I have some news for you,» he said.
«News? What news?» I asked.
«I want to go to Mitrax with Mr Kent,» said Walter.
«WHAT!» I cried. «Are you joking?»
«No, I'm not joking, Karen,» he said. «This is a great opportunity for me. You know I want to become an astronaut. A trip on a spaceship to another galaxy is wonderful! I can see Mitrax and the aliens who live there. I can study them and see how they live and what they eat. I can find out things that aren't written in books. This is a great scientific adventure and I'm lucky I can go! How many people have the opportunity to go to and explore another planet?»
Walter was happy and excited.
«But… aren't you afraid of aliens?» I asked. «What will they do to you?»
«I don't think Mr Kent and the other aliens want to hurt me,» said Walter. «They just want to study me because I'm a human. I think I can trust them.»
«When will you return to Earth?» I asked.
«I don't know,» he said, «but I want to return to see you.»
«Are you going to tell your dad?» I asked.
«He's away on business for a few days,» said Walter. «I'm going to write him a letter and explain everything.»
We talked for a long time and I began to understand Walter's decision.
«I'll never see you again,» I said and started crying.
He took my hand and said, «Please don't cry, Karen. I'll come back and tell you amazing things.» We were silent for a few minutes.
«Please don't tell anyone except Barbara about my decision,» said Walter.
«I won't, it's our secret,» I said.
«Here, take my school ring. When you look at it, think of me,» he said giving it to me.
«I'll always think of you,» I said quietly. I put his ring on my finger.
«Listen, Karen,» said Walter, «we have to make a plan for tomorrow evening. When Mr Kent takes the student to the science lab he won't find his spray. So the student will run away and he will return to his spaceship with no one. He can't miss his spaceship because it will leave without him. I'll wait for him in the science lab tomorrow evening and I'll tell him my decision.»
«Good luck, Walter,» I said.
Walter looked at Tootsie and said, «Can you look after Tootsie when I go away?»
«Well, there's Tex… but I can look after your cat,» I said. «I've got a big garden.»
«Thanks a lot, Karen,» said Walter.
When I got home it was late and I immediately went upstairs to bed, but I couldn't sleep.
On Friday morning I met Barbara and we walked to school together. I told her about Walter's decision. She stopped in the middle of the street and almost started crying.
Then she saw his school ring on my finger. She smiled and said, «He likes you a lot.»
At the end of the school day Walter, Barbara and I went for an ice cream. We sat around a small round table and ate our ice cream quietly.
«This is the last time we can have ice cream together,» said Barbara sadly.
The PTA meeting started at seven o'clock. First, the parents visited our classrooms and talked to some of our teachers. At eight o'clock there was a big meeting in the gym with the principal. She was explaining about all the plans for the school over the next year. At about a quarter past eight Mr Kent got up from his chair and went to see Barbara's family. He whispered something to them and then to Barbara. She was his choice. She got up and followed him. She wasn't worried because she knew Walter was waiting in the science lab.
They left the gym and went upstairs. I decided to follow them.
«Karen, where are you going?» whispered my dad.
«Oh, I'm just going to the science lab for a minute».
The Old Airfield
When I got to the science lab I slowly opened the door and looked inside. Barbara was standing near the table.
Mr Kent took out his key and opened the small cupboard, but he could not find his X-5 spray.
«Oh, no!» he said angrily. «Where is it?»
I heard Walter say, «What are you looking for, Mr Kent?»
«Walter, what are you doing here?» asked Mr Kent surprised.
«Are you looking for your X-5 spray, Klyreg?» asked Walter calmly.
«How… how do you know my name and about the spray?» asked Mr Kent nervously.
«We know everything about you,» said Barbara.
«Yes, we know who you are and why you're here,» I said. I walked into the lab and closed the door.
Mr Kent was very surprised and looked inside the small cupboard again.
«We know about your plan and I want to go to Mitrax with you,» said Walter, looking at Mr Kent in the eyes. «Leave Barbara here and take me with you. You can study me. I'm not afraid, I know you won't hurt me.»
«You want to come to Mitrax with me?» asked Mr Kent, who was shocked.
«Yes, I do!» said Walter. «I want to find out about life on other planets.»
«That's a very brave decision,» said Mr Kent. «Mitrax is in another galaxy and it's very different to Earth. Are you sure?»
«Yes, I'm sure,» said Walter. «It will be a great experience.»
«Mr Kent, can I ask you what Mitrax is like?» I asked. I wanted to know something about where Walter was going.
«Yes, Karen, you can,» he answered. «Mitrax is a small planet, about half the size of Earth. There are no buildings and we all live in spaceships. Our technology is much more advanced, Walter will have a lot of fun discovering all the new things.»
It sounded interesting. I looked at my watch and said sadly, «It's almost nine o'clock. You're going to miss your spaceship. Goodbye Walter and good luck.»
«One day I'll come back!» said Walter looking at me.
Mr Kent walked towards the door and Walter followed him.
«Yes, goodbye and good luck, Walter,» said Barbara.
Mr Kent looked at us and smiled. I thought about the green face and the red eyes under the mask — I could not believe what was happening.
«You humans are… interesting,» said Mr Kent. «Walter, let's go, we have to get to the airfield before half past nine.» Then they ran down the stairs and left the school.
I looked at Barbara and said, «Let's follow them! We can see the spaceship and perhaps a few aliens!»
«Yeah, let's go!» said Barbara.
There was no one at the old airfield. The spaceship was there, but the lights were off. It was gray and round. Mr Kent and Walter were standing in front of it. Suddenly the lights came on and a door opened.
A tall alien came to the door. He said something to Mr Kent in a strange language and then another strange voice said, «The spaceship is leaving in one minute.»
Walter turned around and said, «Goodbye, Karen. Goodbye Barbara.»
«Have fun on Mitrax!» I said laughing and crying at the same time.
Walter and Mr Kent went inside the spaceship and the door closed suddenly. The spaceship lights turned on and it immediately went up into the night sky silently. Barbara and I watched it until it disappeared.
Then we went back to the meeting at school. Barbara went to sit with her parents and I went to sit with mine.
«Is everything alright, Karen?» my mom asked.
«Of course!» I said.
«This is a very interesting meeting,» said my dad. «When it's over we're invited to coffee and cake in the cafeteria.»
«Oh, OK,» I said, but I wasn't interested: I was thinking about Walter, Mr Kent, the spaceship and Mitrax.
Barbara looked at me and smiled. She was the only one who could understand how I felt that evening.
Six months later...
The day after the PTA meeting Barbara and I told everyone the truth about Mr Kent and Walter. The news was on the front pages of every American and foreign newspaper. There were hundreds of articles about the UFO, Mr Kent, Walter and Mitrax. Journalists came to our school and interviewed us. They took pictures of us and the old airfield. TV stations from all over the world also came to film Washington High School. The news was on television for weeks.
Then things slowly started to get back to normal. At school we now have a new science teacher. Her name is Miss Lundberg, and I don't think she's an alien… but who knows!
Mr Wilkinson is feeling better and he often smiles and laughs. He's starting to eat a big lunch in the cafeteria like everyone else. We all like his English class because he is an excellent teacher. He'll be our English teacher next year too.
Tootsie now lives with us and she's happy. She and Tex fought a lot in the beginning but now they're friends and they play together.
Barbara and I often talk about Walter, Mr Kent, the spaceship and our great adventure. Some evenings I sit in the garden, look at Walter's ring and look up at the sky. I think of him on Mitrax.
«Good night, Walter, wherever you are. I hope to see you soon.»