As promised, the camera is now back on Jimmy Burns. This picks up exactly where we last saw him: right after Aurie drops him off in his tiny backyard right after taking him to the edge of space. Given this will be a hundred pages on in the book, once finished, a short summary of events, masquerading as a police report, will get readers up to speed.
After that, we get to listen in to him as he tries to understand what happened to his life over the last 48 hours. Things will pick up fast after this as what is one thing in a tiny hamlet like Canso is a huge political crisis in Ottawa.
Walking into his house from the unlocked back door, Jimmy Burns paused in the main room, staring at his collection of model rockets and spaceships. I was in space, minutes ago. He glanced right at the mess of his bed. And had the best time just two nights ago…
There was a knock at the front door. Burns opened it.
“Officer Grady,” he smiled at the RCMP sergeant. “I’m not surprised.”
“Mister Burns? We have a lot of questions,” the officer said in a careful voice. “Will you come with me, please?”
Their first destination in the sergeant’s SUV was just back to the hospital. Doctor Crittenden and the Director were already in a small conference room. Grady pointed to a chair, took one himself, and let out a huge sigh.
“I met those two women two evenings ago,” he began. “They were kind enough, as visitors, to swing by the station and check in with me. Said they were going to Val’s for dinner.”
“Guess I have to add her to this of people to talk to,” Grady muttered.
“Anyway,” he continued, “it seems they were not exactly who they made themselves out to be. From my preliminary investigation, you are the one who knew them best. Care to start, Mister Burns?”
“The older is exactly who she claimed to be: Mrs. Colour Jansen from Maine, what’s now the Northern Federation,” he began. No reason to hold back now. “The younger? Demi-human General Princess Aurelia Hartmann, from the imperium, down south.”
“My God,” the admin guy breathed.
“Go on,” Grady said, taking notes.
Jimmy admitted to sleeping – not exactly – with Hartmann then moved on to what happened at the spaceport, making the point they checked in with Alvis, first thing. After his confusing description of the slaughter of the pirates, Crittenden took over, discussing what happened in the trauma room to seeing them off the next morning.
“Even after exchanging some messages with Miss Hartmann’s father,” the doctor shook his head, “I still cannot say for sure exactly what she was. Is. I’ve never heard of the like.”
“And that flying saucer?” the sergeant asked Burns.
“As a treat, Aurie, er, Miss Hartmann took us straight up, one hundred and fifty klicks.” He looked around the table. “It took seconds. Then she dropped me off at my house and left.”
“Left to go where? And, why was she here in the first place?” Grady demanded.
“She has an army somewhere in the Hudson River valley, so I guess there,” he confessed. “Why was she here? She told me she wanted to see the spaceport. And me.”
“You?” Crittenden asked. “You two seemed close but how in just a day…?”
“I have no idea,” Jimmy admitted. No one spoke for nearly half a minute.
“There are still things I, Halifax, and on up, are going to want to know,” Grady said, closing his notebook. “Your stories match what Ben told me about the pirates. I’ll talk to Val right after this; I’ll drop you off on the way there, Mister Burns.”
“However,” he said, leaning forward and grasping his hands together, “a powerful foreign national was in our country illegally. You did nothing to notify anyone about that. I would appreciate it if you confined yourself to your house, Mister Burns. Until I can get some direction from higher-ups.”
House arrest? I expected to be in jail.
“Of course, sir.”
As they stood, the officer turned to the two medical people.
“Patient privacy and all that,” he began, “but we’ll need a complete copy of everything you have on her.”
He waved at me before driving off, Jimmy thought as Grady left, so maybe I’m not in as much trouble as I thought. Inside, he immediately checked his cabinets and fridge to see how long before he had to get permission to go to the market. A plastic container in the fridge was new. A scrap of paper on the lid said “Leftovers! Love, CJ.” Nice of her. He closed the door and made a stop in the bathroom. Coming out, he paused at the foot of his bed. A little self-consciously, he picked up the sheets and smelled them. Just like her. He smiled and –
…lips back from her teeth, covered in blood…
And tossed them away. I’m getting one of those three beers now. On the couch, he finally tried to piece it all together.
“Aurie said she was coming back. She said to have my answer ready,” he said to the room. “But she’s a freakin’ princess. Not even human. And I can never unsee her against the pirates…”
“But she felt so good,” he admitted after another swig. “I was already suspecting something about her eyes but at the time was having too much fun.”
Looking about again, the room seemed just a little smaller. His eyes returned to his models. That ship of hers could be back tonight. Completely silent in the dark. And I could be on the other side of the world by morning. He remembered what she had first said: “the moon or Mars? The Belt?” Or off it. What kind of power do these people have?
“And Grady and Crittenden are right: why the hell did she want to see me? I thought it a cheesy pickup line but now…”