Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Close Encounter Academy - The Pries Misadventures: Part Seven


Beneath a beaming afternoon sun, Isaac hugs his youngest son tightly.

"Goodbye, son," he says, with wobbling voice. "I know you and your sister will make me so proud."

He nods towards Juliette, who is standing across the lawn in the embrace of her mother Misty. 

She and Jean-Luc are still in their late teens. But, given that today is the day their elder sibling has inherited the Glowing Crown of Government Paranoia, they have chosen to claim their own inheritance earlier than expected. Together, the pair have packed their bags, and are headed to Oasis Springs to live with their uncle Lincoln - destined to one day become the caretakers of their father's childhood home.

It is not the first goodbye the family has experienced. Days earlier, Johan moved out to Willow Creek, having begun a career on the comedy circuit. Aspiring rock star Jamie elected to join him, hoping his big brother's budding connections in the the entertainment world might help his own career once he finishes high school. 

Only Anya, who has been bequeathed the current Pries homestead, intends to remain with her parents. After the artist and the nature-lover have headed off into the sunset, Isaac goes inside to help his eldest child make last-minute preparations for her own great journey.

Allow me to present, your chosen heiress - Genesis.

By the time the taxi to the train station is called, evening has fallen. As Issac waits with his daughter on the lawn, he cannot hide his concerns about her destination.

"Honey," he asks, "are you sure you want to go to Strangerville? What with all of the weird goings on, and the military and the government spying on everything - "

"I'm sure, Dad," Genesis replies, confidently - nodding towards the golden urn amongst her luggage. "Grandpa wanted to return to Strangerville one day. I'm going to take him there, and I'm going to solve whatever problem is plaguing it so it will be safe for everyone once again - human or alien. Then, I'm going to build a school - a Close Encounter Academy - to support the children of Sixam and the humans who bear them... to bring our two planets closer together in peace. And that is where Grandpa Erwin will be laid to rest. Do you think he would have liked that?"

"He'd have loved it," Isaac says proudly. "Good luck, darling. And be careful."


Genesis moves into a small house near Strangerville Plaza - one within easy reach of the local library, a soon-to-be favourite venue of hers. After setting up a shrine to her grandfather, she sets out on her mission to uncover the truth about this bizarre little backwater.

As she walks around the plaza, other colander-clad locals eager welcome her as one of their own - dropping titillating titbits about the secret lab on the hillside.

A soiree of snooping around the place inevitably follows.

With a dossier of evidence in the making, Genesis heads to the library the next day to investigate the archives.

The librarian is a charming young gentleman by the name of Hunter Spencer - a geeky bookworm who's all too eager to help Genesis with her research. As the pair leaf through stacks of literature and make small talk, it's obvious that's there's a spark between them.

The archives are also a hub for the conspiracy theorists. After meeting Genesis with initial concern and scepticism, they swiftly learn whose granddaughter she is, and practically throw evidence into her lap - keen to help the descendant of their long-time hero and spiritual leader.

But books can only take you so far. For the rest, Genesis needs bugs - which the Curio Shop gladly supply. Oddly, the military personnel and scientists of the town seem to think nothing of getting random hugs from a total stranger.

Her growing mountain of evidence becomes the exchange currency needed to get her a keycard - one that can access the lower, hidden levels of the lab. Here, Genesis uses her science skills to analyse spores she has gathered from the mysterious purple plants around town.

The results lead her to the Mother of all monstrosities.


Genesis knows that she can't take this perilous plant down alone. After developing a vaccine that keeps the townsfolk safe from its hypnotic virus, she starts to put together a courageous team of warriors who can help her defeat this evil once and for all.

And she knows exactly who she wants by her side.

As the family steps into the Mother's lair, Isaac can feel the anger rising inside him as he beholds the gigantic fatal flora.

"You're what made this town so dangerous," he hisses. "My father tried to warn everyone about you, and he was labelled a madman. He had to run away from here - the only home he had ever known - with me in his belly, just to keep me safe from the government agents you brought here. He never came back, but now I'm here, and I'm not alone."

"My daughter has planned your destruction. Her siblings are helping her. Those are my kids out there. They call you the Mother, do they? Well, I'm the Father - and my babies are going to finish you."

Isaac, Anya and Johan are all armed with guns filled with a special form of weed killer - one concocted by Genesis, one capable of melting the Mother's tendrils. Upon Genesis's command, they fire at will.

As her relatives hose the monster down, Genesis hurls a potion into its beak... the final devastating blow.

As the Mother crumples up with a shuddering screech, Isaac, Anya and Johan break out in celebration, whilst Genesis, stood on the raised platform, towers over her slain foe proudly.

From this day forth, she will be known as the saviour of Strangerville.


Back at Genesis' house, after they've placed one of the Mother's torn-out tendrils beside Erwin's urn as a tribute, the famished fighters sit down to a dumpling dinner.

"You're a heroine, Gen," Johan says, smiling. "Not only did you destroy that thing and save the town, but the government agents are already leaving. Before we know it, aliens will be able to walk down the street undisguised, and no-one will bat an eyelid."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Genesis giggles. "Besides, I couldn't have defeated the Mother without your help."

"But you were the mastermind," Anya pipes up. "The commander. We were just the firing squad. You should be very proud of yourself."

Clearing his plate, Isaac rises, and pulls Genesis into a bear hug.

"I'm certainly proud of you," he whispers. "Anya and Johan too - and, well, all of your siblings, of course, but... your sister's right. You were the force behind what happened today. You brought Erwin home. You've made this place safe for Sixamians again. You're going to be remembered forever for what you've done. The name Pries isn't a cause of mockery any more. It's a badge of honour."

"Thanks, Dad."

"Well, now that the mystery of Strangerville is finally solved... have you given any thought to what you're going to do with the rest of your life? Apart from the Close Encounter Academy, of course."

Genesis grins.

"I have a couple of ideas."


As he locks up for the library for the night, Hunter turns his head as he hears the sound of someone clearing their throat. Seeing that Genesis is stood before him, he greets her with a humble bow, before taking her hands and drawing them up to his lips for a knightly kiss.

"Miss Pries," he says - part jokingly, part sincere. "It is a honour to be in the presence of our town's saviour."

Pulling her hands away timidly, Genesis laughs.

"Come on now, Hunter," she replies. "Anyone could have done what I did."

"Oh no they couldn't. Don't you underestimate yourself. But, I digress... what are you doing here?"

"I... I was hoping you could provide an answer to a question I have."

"I've just closed up. I won't be able to check the stacks until morning."

"That won't be necessary."

Reaching into her jacket, she produces a red rose, and offers it meekly.

"Hunter, you've been the best friend I've had ever since I arrived here, and we have so much in common. I was wondering if... if you'd like to go on a date with me?"

Hunter's eyes widen as he stares at Genesis, utterly flummoxed.

"Gen, you... you appear to be glowing. It's... it's sort of a - a pink colour..."

"I'll explain about that later. Please... tell me... would you like to go out with me?"

Taking the rose, Hunter steps towards her.

"Anything for the heroine of Strangerville."

As their lips touch in their first tender kiss, Hunter's breath is taken away, and Genesis swears she can feel fireworks running through her blood.


"Johan - I told you to wear a tuxedo!"

"It's at the dry cleaners! Besides, this is what I was wearing when we defeated the Mother."

"Yes, and it still stinks of weed killer!"

"What are you picking on me for? Jean-Luc has his tattoos showing!"

"What?! He better not do! Tell him to get that suit jacket back on, now! I'm not having any of you show your sister up, today of all days..."

Six months have passed. In the backyard of Genesis' humble home, Misty is rushing around like a headless chicken, fussing over her brood as she puts together the final touches on a very important celebration.

Today is her eldest daughter's wedding day.

As the family gather before the celebratory arch, Isaac walks Genesis down the aisle to her loving librarian bridegroom, and the couple recite their vows.

The reverent ceremony is followed by a family feast, complete with cake....

... and where Johan, always keen to flex his comedy muscles, makes a raucous, joke-riddled speech praising Hunter on his courage to start a family with his sister - especially given what exactly that entails for him. Hunter, now fully aware that the Pries clan are aliens, and having been briefed about their reproductive oddities in detail, breaks out in polite laughter that's far more nervous that his in-laws'.  

After they've all danced themselves to the point of near-exhaustion...

... Genesis bids a loving goodbye to her many relatives, and is finally left alone in peace and quiet with her new husband. As is tradition, he carries her over the threshold of their bedroom, stepping symbolically into their new life together.

For our heiress, the adventure is far from over.

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