Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2016 by Parker Sheaffer
Year after year passed more quickly than they wished until one day they realized that they were tired of being constantly abroad. Having climbed Mount Olympus on a hot afternoon, they sat in the shade and rested.
"Andy," said Lucas, "I'm tired. I feel as if we have seen everything now. What would you think about returning home?"
Andy said, "I think it would be wonderful to go home. I was hoping that you would suggest it soon. The only question is, what home? We don't really have a house anywhere, do we?"
"Well, you're right about that. I was thinking about Boston. I knew that city several years ago and I grew to like it. We could be by the sea and also close to mountains. There is culture in Boston," Lucas said.
"That sounds nice. I believe they have universities there as well," Andy mused.
Boston was everything they hoped. Lucas let a nice brownstone in the Back Bay area so that they were near the Commons. They loved to take walks about town, visiting the historical monuments and savoring the briny air of the harbor.
Andy enrolled at Boston University and studied science and engineering.
He told Lucas, "It's a wonderful school and for the first time I am meeting young women there. I'm so glad that women are seeking higher educations these days. Honestly, I get weary of being with men all of the time. Ladies are a refreshing change, and you wouldn't believe how intelligent some of them are."
"That's good to hear, Andy. Have you met anyone special there yet?"
Andy reddened a bit and said, "I don't know, maybe. We will see."
The following winter Lucas said, "Andy, how would you like to do something special for the turn of the century?"
"What did you have in mind?" Andy asked.
"It's a momentous time, a grand time. I think we should go to New York and celebrate there. There will be magnificent parties and celebrations in the streets, from what I hear. It should be exciting."
"If it's going to be crowded, will we be able to find a hotel?" Andy asked.
"Actually, I've already reserved rooms. I did it back in the summer, just in case we decided to go. Today I sent a telegram confirming our reservation and received a reply, so we won't have to worry about that."
New York was teeming with an atmosphere of excitement as 1800 prepared to become 1900. A fresh snowfall made the city look a bit cleaner than when they were last there. They had a grand time and both drank quite a bit of wine and champagne to ring in the new century. The next morning they slept late and were enjoying a quiet dinner in their hotel room. Andy was quiet and thoughtful.
"You're a bit pensive today. Not recovered from last night's wine?" Lucas asked.
"Oh, I'm just thinking about things. You know, the new century and what it means for the whole world. Will it be a better place?"
"God willing, I suppose."
"Lucas, do you believe in God? We've never really talked about it, you know."
"Well Andy, I honestly don't know. I have to say that there may well be a creator for all this, but I've never seen any evidence to show that there is."
"You don't think there's some divine plan for us?"
"Look at it this way, imagine you are looking at a map of this city and you want to see yourself on it. You would be such a tiny speck that you probably wouldn't even show up. Now, imagine a map of the country and how small this city would look. Then think of a globe and your relationship to the entire planet, how insignificant you are. Then go even farther and imagine a map of the solar system. Our entire planet would be an invisible speck on that map and our sun is just one star in a galaxy of millions, perhaps billions, of stars and there are countless other galaxies out there, countless suns with planets around them. It seems inconceivable that there isn't life on some of them. Besides that, the universe is ancient and men have been around for a very short time, a blink of an eye really. There may be a purpose to all of this universe, but it seems egotistical to think that, in all this vastness of time and space, we are that purpose. We are just advanced animals, after all."
"Good Lord, I hadn't thought of it like that. Still, there could be a God. Maybe He made all those other planets too."
"There might very well be a God. I really hope so, Andy."
"Lucas, do you really think there are people on other planets?"
"I think it would be almost a certainty. I doubt that they would look like us, though."
"Mr. Wells doesn't think so either."
"Who's Mr. Wells?"
"H. G. Wells, the writer. You know, I picked up his book "The War of the Worlds" last month. He talks about men from Mars invading and attacking the Earth. He said they were monsters."
Lucas paused and stared out across the city. "Monsters from another planet," he thought aloud, "What if they were not demons, but people from another planet?"
It was an idea that had never occurred to him before, but it had to be true, it all made more sense. He had always tried to block those memories, but now he let them come sweeping back into his mind. The strange room, the lights, the tall creature with the big, black eyes and the thin mouth, the long, serpentine fingers. Lucas shuddered as he remembered the touch of their dry, rubbery skin on his bare flesh.
"Lucas, what's wrong? You're not sick, are you?"
"No," he whispered. "I'm not sick. I'm just remembering something awful. Listen, I need to tell you something that I've never told another soul. It's a secret that I've kept locked away, even from myself."
Andy listened in rapt fascination as Lucas revealed the beginning of his tale.
At the end Andy said, "Well, that would certainly make sense. I'm sure I believe in people from another planet more than I believe in demons. And who knows what sort of scientific wonders they must possess if they travel between stars."
"Then you don't think I'm crazy?"
"If I had not known you and seen how changeless you are then I might have raised an eyebrow and called you a liar, but I know you are telling the truth so I have to believe it because I believe in you."
"Thank you, son. It certainly makes me feel a lot better. I tried to put the thought of demons out of my head all these years, but I was secretly worried about it all along. Now I don't have to feel as if I'm somehow damned."
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