Daughter of Canada’s richest man vanished while
playing on private Florida beach.
So the headlines had screamed that day twelve years ago. Now, retired police detective Rob o’ Suilleabhain and P.I. Mike Matthews, also retired, were revisiting the scene. For years they had examined and re-examined every bit of evidence to see if they had mossed anything. That evidence was scarce, mostly the statements of the few who had noticed the little girl playing at the edge of the water. Hannah Aliza Johnstone was a graceful, cheerful child, a joy to behold. All that the evidence had ever told them was that one moment she was there, and the next she had disappeared. No footprints anywhere, except the ones she had made as she approached that one point on the shore, then nothing. Not one single sight or sound of her. No bits of hair, or clothing, no scattered shells and stones from the collection she had been making.
“I still feel that we missed something,” Rob said, “but I’m damned if I can figure out what. It’s as though she just disappeared into thin air. And that is impossible!” he scowled at the sand beneath his feet.
“I know. I feel the same. I’ve thought and thought about it, and nothing come to mind. How could anyone....” Mike stopped suddenly, staring ahead toward where the child had disappeared. He had been looking at that spot as he walked, and now he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“What?” Rob said, following Mike’s gaze. Then he stared, mouth agape. They had both stopped moving, frozen in disbelief. Right there, the spot that was impressed indelibly on both minds, stood a young woman. “Who’s that, and where’d she come from?” he asked. After a brief pause, both men started walking toward her. She looked at them, took a hesitant step forward, and stopped, looking confused and wary.
When they were closer, Rob said “Hello, young lady. Are you all right?”
She looked from one to the other, then said “I think so. I...I feel strange. I should know this place, but.....” her voice trailed off, and she shook her head. Rob and Mike slowly walked closer, until they were within touching distance. Neither tried to touch her, though. They could see the confusion and fear in her eyes.
“What is you name?” Mike asked softly.
“I...I’m....Hannah Aliza Johnstone?” her voice rose in a question, and she looked at them, almost pleading with them to confirm this for her.
“All right, Miss” Rob said. “What can you tell us about yourself? How did you get here? There are no footsteps in the sand leading to where you are standing, and you seemed to appear out of nowhere. Since that has to be impossible, there must be another explanation.”
“I was....I was playing in the waves, picking up pretty shells and stones, and I saw a big bubble on the water. It made me think of The Wizard of Oz. You know, when Glenda appears.” She looked startled, and murmured “where did that come from?”
“Yes, there was a child who did that, twelve years ago.” Mike said. “What else do you remember?”
“Nothing, after the big bubble came. I was in it, and there were two people there, a man and a woman. But they weren’t human. They looked human, but more....more....like, all angles, not rounded. I remember being terrified, and then she touched me, and I felt calm, and went to sleep. When I woke up, I was in a beautiful house. There was a lovely garden outside, and other children, boys and girls, all about my age. They were all colours, some of them children of the people who had taken me - and, I guess, the others.
“We were well cared for, well fed, and had regular classes, and we all grew up. Then they said we would go back to our world, and share the knowledge we had with those who could use it best. But I don’t know what knowledge I have, or who to give it to.” She shook her head, and her shoulders slumped in dejection. “Do you know? And what about my family? I know I have a father and mother somewhere. I do, don’t I?” She looked anxiously from one to the other.
“Yes, you have parents, who have never given up hope of getting you back. We will take you to them, and report your return to the government authorities. They will come and talk to you, and maybe they can figure out who you should talk to.” They all headed back along the beach to the car park. An hour later, they were at the Johnstone estate, and had witnessed the incredulous, joyful, reunion. Then an RCMP Lieutenant, and agents from the FBI and CIA arrived, and the questions started.
In the end, Hannah realized that she had a great deal of medical information. Treatments for things that were at that point untreatable. Like curing all kinds of cancer, and ending arthritis, and almost anything humans are prone to. Suddenly she wanted to sing. Everything came back to her - her life before she was taken, the life with the aliens, all of it. She knew the names of the other human children, and what each one had been given.
“I know,” she cried. “I know it all. Robert Barnside, nuclear physics, way beyond what earth scientists know. Shelly Martin, cloning and stem cell research to cure birth defects in the first days and weeks after conception. All of it, everything, and everyone. They are benevolent, and want only the best for us.”
They all stared at her. Her Mom and Dad, Rob and Mike, the FBI and CIA agents, staring and silent. Then a large, clear, iridescent bubble materialized in the middle of the room and settled on the floor. Then it was gone, and a man and woman stood there. She was tall, blond and angular, he was shorter, dark and just as angular. They were both smiling.
“We are from the Andromeda Galaxy. We travel the universe, and when we find a planet where they are in the first stages of space travel, we explore the place. Whenever we find things that they are unable to fix, we borrow some of their brightest children, and teach them all that we can. That way, when they finally are capable of leaving their home system, they will be cured of all diseases. And all mental aberrations that cause so much hatred and suffering, are gone. The universe is big, and we are its guardians. We are making sure that there will be no strife, anywhere. We have a long way to go yet, but with the help of those we have taught, the task gets smaller. Welcome to the Universe.”
There was a stunned silence, then an outburst of questions and comments. Androsynna and Zyromeda answered the questions for a while, then at last suggested that all the world leaders be called together. They could then explain to everyone at the same time, and see that the returned children were placed where their knowledge could be best used.
In time, after many different seminars all around the world, that new knowledge was being put to use. Humanity at last became one, with everyone working toward the same goals. And starships were being built so that the more mature Earthlings could take their first large steps outward. In time, the Universe would be theirs, shared with the other intelligences they had not yet met.