Sunday, 11 August 2019
Close Encounter Academy - The Pries Misadventures: Part Two
After a tip-off from Tyr and his network, Erwin applies for a job transfer to another lab based in Oasis Springs. The desert climate is ideal, since it's what he's got used to growing up in Strangerville, but over there, the locals don't ask questions and mind their own business.
The network also helps him find a new house in the town - and he is thrilled with the outcome. With both his wages and the low house prices, he's able to afford something far better than a trailer, and is now the owner of a spacious bungalow, with plenty of room for both him and his little one.
Still, moving house is always stressful - especially when it's done so suddenly and so quickly. After he arrives and gets settled in, Erwin tries to relax with a bath... but as he soaks in the warm water, his hands resting on his growing baby bump, a thousand worries cross his paranoid mind.
Could he have been followed? Is it just Tyr's network keeping an eye on him, or are there more sinister observers around?
Is having this baby going to be painful? Will he even survive?
And if he does... will he be a good father?
As it happens, Erwin doesn't have long to dwell on these latter topics. As he unpacks the last few boxes in the study, he is suddenly winded by a sharp, overwhelming pain in his stomach - and immediately, he knows the cause.
He's in labour.
He phones for a taxi and heads to the local hospital. The driver is concerned for him, but Erwin insists it's nothing more than a bad stomach bug as he anxiously tries to conceal his increasing pain.
Upon his arrival, the doctor takes one look at him, knows the score (this isn't the first time she's seen this, believe it or not) and asks that he be prepped for theatre right away, for what she delicately refers to as "an extraction procedure".
As he waddles down the hallway, clad in a thin gown, Erwin's deepening breaths are his way of desperately trying to relieve both his pain and his nerves.
He didn't ask for this. He's not ready. He's not sure if he'll be able to cope.
Lying down on the bed of the delivery machine, Erwin closes his eyes, feels the prick of the pain relief injection piercing his skin, and fades away on a blissful cloud.
Some time later, a sharp cry brings him back to Earth.
A nurse offers Erwin her hand, helping him up onto his still-unsteady feet as she ushers him towards a nearby bassinet: inviting him to come and meet his newborn son.
From the moment he first lays eyes on his unearthly, but utterly beautiful, baby boy, whose skin is as green as grass, Erwin knows he would do anything for him. He would even die for him. His heart floods with love like water being poured into a overfilling cup.
Tenderly, he reaches out with one fingertip to stroke the infant's cheek and the tip of his pointed ear, scarcely able to believe that he has given life to something so magnificent.
Cradling the boy closely to his chest, he introduces himself as his father, and tells the child what his name shall be.
Once he's back home in his own room, Isaac barely gets a moment's peace - his devoted father spoiling him with cuddles and kisses in between bottle feeds and diaper changes.
A week or so later, Tyr comes by to see how Erwin and his newborn are doing. Fatherhood is difficult for any man to adjust to, but as Tyr's own ancestors can testify, it's no doubt that little bit harder when your baby is from outer space, and you were the one who had to bear them. Not to mention, Erwin is raising his little one on his own.
Erwin is happy to see his friend again. Once Isaac is safely asleep in his crib, he cooks up some fish and chips for them both to eat, and they sit and chat over their meal. However, Erwin barely seems to touch his food, merely pushing it around his plate with his fork. This doesn't go unnoticed by his visitor.
"Is everything OK?" Tyr asks. "Are you worried about the baby?"
"Oh no - Isaac's fine," Erwin replies. "He couldn't be better. It's just... well... the thing is... I think I might be having another."
Tyr's eyebrows shoot up.
"Really? So soon?" he asks.
"I was abducted again a few days ago," he explains. "I went out to the telescope one evening to do a little stargazing. I saw that familiar bright light in the sky, and well... that was that."
"That doesn't necessarily mean you're pregnant again," Tyr adds reassuringly.
"Oh, I'm fairly certain I am," Erwin tells him. "I was putting Isaac to bed the other night, and my stomach started to glow and sparkle, like it did before."
"I don't believe it," he sighs, nervously. "I've only just had Isaac, and now I'm going to have another. I mean, I could deal with the idea of having another alien baby someday, sure, but... not now. It's way too soon."
"I guess they're striking whilst the iron is hot."
"Can you do me a favour?"
"Sure. What do you need?"
"Give me a quick scan while you're here, huh? Make sure everything's all right in there."
Placing his fingertips to his temples, Tyr complies with this request. A pause follows, and Erwin notices his guest's eyes are widening in surprise.
"What's wrong?" he asks rapidly, panicking. "Is the baby OK? Is it healthy?"
"Yes, yes - everything's fine," Tyr insists. "Look, you're doing great with Isaac - I'm sure you'll be able to cope with what's to come. Besides, the network is always watching you. We'll help you out however we can, OK?"
As Erwin nods, Tyr excuses himself, says goodnight, and leaves.
The weeks fly by, and before Erwin knows it, Isaac is up on his little feet, toddling about. He also develops the ability to disguise his alien features, taking on a more human appearance: his look clearly influenced by his father, the only parent he's ever known.
As the child stumbles, Erwin, laughing, picks him up and cuddles him - wincing slightly as he bends down, his large baby bump putting increasing pressure on his back. As he showered earlier that day, catching his reflection in the bathroom mirror, Erwin couldn't help but feel that he'd got even bigger than he was before... but perhaps that's just his paranoia talking.
The once-stylish living room is slowly sliding towards a playroom ambience - with toys and toddler furniture scattered everywhere as a result of Erwin's growing family.
Although, it's become the perfect place for Erwin to teach Isaac valuable skills. Talking and conversation are practised through the sharing of conspiracy theories.
"Isaac... if we see a black van parked outside listening to all our conversations, who sent it over?"
"Very good. And do we trust the Government?"
"That's my boy!"
It's not just Isaac that's learning things. Erwin is still working hard at the science lab to provide for his new little relations. To get promotions, he has to keep building up his skills. Every so often, he sets Isaac down with a tablet so he can catch up on his own reading...
... as well as working on his rocket in the backyard once his son is safely in Slumberland.
Thankfully, Isaac being able to disguise himself means Erwin can safely leave him in the care of a nanny, Mr. Whitaker, whilst he's working in the lab - bringing an extremely temporary break in his parental leave, wherein he hopes he can quickly earn one more promotion.
Isaac is hesitant around the stranger at first, but soon begins to anticipate his visits - proudly showing him his tablet at any given opportunity.
"What are you watching there, kiddo?" Mr. Whitaker asks. "Aliens?"
Beaming, he points to himself.
"Sure you are, little guy."
Watcher bless them - they have such wonderful imaginations at that age.
One evening, after a long shift, Erwin comes home, pays Mr. Whitaker, and anticipates a relaxing night in front of the TV. However, a sharp, familiar pang in his belly dashes his hopes of having peace and quiet tonight. Or indeed, for a very long time.
Whilst he's in hospital, recovering after the delivery, Erwin thinks back to the night of Tyr's visit, and realises why his friend hesitated before he answered his question.
Erwin's new arrivals consist of one son, Lincoln (whose name was chosen due to this headcanon / fan theory I have going on at the moment), and two daughters, Miranda and Cassiopeia (or "Cassie" for short).
Given their resemblance to Isaac, Erwin can't help but wonder if they're full-blood siblings.
(I checked the family tree. Turns out they are!)
Moving his computer and bookcases into his bedroom, Erwin sacrifices his study - redecorating it in order to create a second nursery for his daughters. Lincoln, meanwhile, will become Isaac's little roommate.
Due to the proximity of the triplets' births to Isaac's, Erwin soon finds himself a single father to four active, rambunctious little toddlers - with no chance of child support or assistance with their upbringing from their extra-terrestrial mot... fath... other parent. And when they're in their human disguises, you can tell with just one look who their Earthling daddy is.
(Hang in there, buddy. You've got this.)