The Only Ones

The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer

Book: The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Aaron Starmer
down from the heavens. Reading them now, Martin found himself surprisingly engrossed. They were ancient tales, true, but they were also things to which he could relate.
    “Hate to spoil it for you, dude, but he comes back in three days, good as new.”
    Martin looked up from the book to see Chet standing in the doorway, holding one of the envelopes.
    “Old Testament,” Martin said, showing him the book.
    “That the one with the boat?”
    “It is,” Martin said, setting the book down.
    “So, you angling to be the new Kelvin Rice?”
    “I don’t think so,” Martin said. “Why do you say that?”
    “I dunno. Living in his house. Delivering doodles. Calling secret meetings.” Chet heaved his bulk down into a chair.
    “Kelvin was your leader?” Martin asked.
    “He liked to think he was. Hard to take your leader seriously when he insists on wearing a cloak and playing spin the bottle all the time.”
    “I’m not trying to be a leader,” Martin said. “I’m only looking for help.”
    A voice came from the doorway. “Martin’s a Spacer, that’s what he is.” Lane had entered the church, her own envelope in hand.
    “Oh man, a Spacer?” Chet said. “That’s what this is about?”
    “Hello, Lane,” Martin said carefully. “I’m delighted you could make it.”
    Lane sauntered across the room. Her outfit of all blackfrom two nights before had been replaced by a blue police uniform. On her head, she wore a madras bandana. She reclined on a sofa.
    “Why do you think he’s a Spacer?” Chet asked.
    “Did he give you the same drawings?” Lane took the notebook pages out of her envelope and tossed them on the table.
    “I gave everyone the same thing,” Martin said.
    “Expecting more people?” Chet asked.
    “One more,” Martin said.
    “And we’ll all wear moon boots, eat freeze-dried ice cream, and have a big Spacer party, is that right?” Lane said. “I don’t know why I bothered to leave the house.”
    “You came here because I wanted your help,” Martin said. “As for being a Spacer, I don’t know what that is.”
    “You think the answers are in the stars,” Lane said. “So you drew a friggin’ spaceship.”
    “I thought it was a popcorn popper,” Chet joked.
    In all the years of working on the machine, there had been plenty of times when Martin wanted to believe that it was a spacecraft. His father would never confirm or deny what it was meant to do, but he would often say, “There’s a different world for us than this one, Martin, and you’ll see it soon.”
    “Do you think it will work?” Martin asked Lane as he nudged the drawings to her side of the table.
    “Beats me,” she said. “I’m not a Spacer. Never will be.”
    “She’s a Vaporist, like me,” Chet said.
    Martin’s silence revealed his ignorance.
    “There are the Spacers, of course,” Chet explained. “And there are, or were, the Diggers. You know, kids who think everyone went underground. And the Parallelodorks, likeFelix. Believe in alternate dimensions and all that junk. There are the Reapers. Think we’re all dead and dancin’ the limbo or something. Then there are the Vaporists. Vaporists believe what they see. Everyone is gone, gone, gone. Vaporized.”
    “They’re definitely not on Venus, having a picnic and waiting for us,” Lane said.
    This didn’t deter Martin. He couldn’t ignore what he was feeling. “I believe we need this machine,” he told Lane. “I believe it more than anything.”
    Lane didn’t answer. Instead, she shoved the drawings back across the table.
    “Lane. Tell him what Nigel told you,” Chet blurted out.
    “What? No,” Lane said quickly.
    “That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?” Chet badgered her. “Didn’t Nigel tell you that someone was coming to town and it wasn’t gonna be Santa? You thought it’d be Kelvin, and you—”
    “Shut your mouth,” Lane snarled. “I never should have told you that.”
    “You understand how to build things, both of you

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