I hold no rights over any copyrighted material. The characters Buffy, Jack, Archie, and the Torchwood team all belong to their original owners, namely the creators of Torchwood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alison and Seo are mine.
This is a truly good story. I know I'll probably get no readers, because it centers around original characters, but it really is a great story.
Also, it's really funny. For the most part.
Five points if you know what TV show Alison's talking about with the fingers touching together thing! 10 if you know the theme song.
(That show's from when I was about 4 years old, watching Fox's Fun House, and that was the show on right afterwards. I'm completely floored that I remember both the premise of the show and the theme song.)
"No, Olivia, don't!" called Wendy Jillington, as she struggled to get the six kids she was babysitting back under control.
It was her sister's three kids, ages 4 to 8, and each of them had been allowed to bring along a mate — which Wendy still couldn't quite believe her sister had actually done to her. Particularly since, apparently, none of the kids' mates actually got along with one another. Wendy, eventually, had to race over and separate Hank and Olivia, herself, before they came to blows.
"If you two don't shape up," Wendy warned them, "I'll make sure your mums—"
But that was the moment when every single one of the six kids spun around and ran off. Pushing and shoving at one another, scrambling to get somewhere as fast as they could. Wendy looked up, to discover they were all six running towards a strange man, who stood in the shade of a nearby tree. An oddly dressed man, wearing a hoodie sweat shirt, with the hood drawn up to obscure his face. He handed out sweets to the sea of children surrounding him.
Wendy marched over to him. "All right, that's enough," she told the children, trying to relieve them of their sweets. "Hand them back to the nice man. Your mum said no sugar before…"
That was when Wendy noticed the man's face.
As, without any rhyme or reason, every single child nearby vanished into thin air.
The problem wasn't that Alison's parents were suddenly rich.
It was that, for some reason, they believed this made them suddenly posh.
The news had come completely unexpectedly. One of their distant relatives, on Alison's mother's side, had been an insanely rich old American bachelor, who was planning to leave his fortune to his favorite dog. Then, after one night, when he'd started chatting up some attractive, dashing blond girl, who looked about 50 years younger than himself, he apparently had a sudden change of heart, and had altered his will. Selecting one of his relatives — seemingly at random — and leaving his entire fortune to her.
Later that night, he'd had a heart attack. And died.
Alison's mum had been the sole beneficiary of the old bachelor's entire fortune.
Which meant that Alison's parents had become extremely rich. Overnight. For no apparent reason other than pure dumb luck.
The next morning, they put their house up for sale. And moved to London.
"We are a respectable family, now," Alison's dad had explained to her, when they were house-hunting in London. "And a respectable, upper-class family requires a respectable, upper-class home."
"Dad," Alison reminded him, "you work in sewage management."
They bought a six bedroom house in Chelsea Park Gardens, complete with gabled windows and ivy lining the brickwork and potted trees outside the front door. It was more the kind of house you'd buy to impress someone than the kind you'd actually want to live in.
"And this room," Alison's mum explained, "is the movie theater room. And when you turn out the lights…" She did so, and pointed at the ceiling, where tiny pinprick light bulbs flickered. "See? They look like stars!"
"Wouldn't that be really annoying, if you're watching a movie?" Alison asked.
But no one paid much attention to her. Particularly not Alison's mum or dad. They were busily spending their newly gained money, trying to join country clubs and show off to the neighbors, trying to create a brand new life for themselves.
"Not for ourselves," Mum told Alison. "For you and David. Our children. We're giving you a future you never thought you could have."
"A future… as a snooty posh kid," Alison checked.
"Think of it as an opportunity," said Dad. "A chance to pursue whatever interest you like, and not need to worry, financially."
Alison nodded, slowly. Yeah. Sure she wouldn't.
Because, apparently, her parents now believed that it rained hundred pound notes on Sundays and, therefore, there was no point in saving anything for the future.
"David appreciates our spending policies," Mum pointed out. She smiled down at him, now surrounded by nice, shiny new toys. "Look at how happy he is."
"So… we're taking financial advice," Alison clarified, "from my five year old baby brother." She sighed. "Course. That makes perfect sense, Mum."
The thing her parents didn't seem to realize was — Alison didn't really want
money. Didn't want to be the posh kid at school with the new designer jackets and perfectly styled hair.
She wanted… oh, she didn't even know!
"Well, we can't buy it for you if you don't know what it is," Dad told her.
"It's not something you can buy, Dad," Alison replied.
It was… just… this feeling Alison got, when she was wandering around on the streets. Like… there had to be something more than this. Had to be something else to life other than money or 'high-society' or school or work or any of that!
She wanted the more. She wanted the purpose. A larger goal. A greater challenge.
Her parents certainly didn't understand that. At all.
"But what do you really
want for your future, Alison?" Mum asked. "Career-wise. You'll be off at university in a year. You have to begin planning ahead."
"Well," Alison said, "I was
planning to live in a tent on the M4, selling gourds to passing motorists. But now that we've moved into Posh-town, London, I've completely changed my life goals and am now striving to become Prime Minister of Great Britain."
Mum gave her a stern look.
"That," Alison continued. "Or to work in sewage management. I honestly can't decide."
As always, it had begun because Seo had destroyed something. Again.
Buffy — no, Mom, she had to remember to call her that — was heading off to Cardiff, and she'd explained that, no, this time, Seo couldn't
come with her, absolutely not, under no circumstances whatsoever…
Which meant that either Mom was up to something insanely dangerous.
Or, more likely, she was feeling lonely, again, and had decided to engage in some very not PG 13 related activities with a certain immortal man whom not even the Powers that Be could kill for sleeping with her.
"Don't break anything, blow anything up, or destroy the world while I'm gone," Mom instructed, walking out the door.
Seo had been good.
For about 90 seconds.
Then she'd figured out that she could rewire the dishwasher, make it hook up to the mp3 player and the radio, and trick it into believing it was a holographic generator. Which was brilliant! And something she absolutely had to do!
Right until the dishwasher blew up.
So now, Seo was scrambling around on the internet, trying to work out how to recreate a dishwasher so it actually washed dishes, instead of producing holograms. And…
Wait, that wasn't dishwasher related. But… it wasn't good, either.
Extremely not good. And extremely not-being-solved. And extremely needing-someone-clever-to-fix-it.
Seo looked back at the dishwasher, biting her lower lip. Dishwasher? Saving disappearing kids? Dishwasher? Saving disappearing kids?
"Sorry, Mom," said Seo, as she raced out of the flat.
Alison dismissed the nanny.
That was a very nice way of putting it. What Alison had actually done was march up to the nanny, grab David out of her hands, and tell her to, "Get stuffed."
And promptly left.
She probably wouldn't have done it if she'd known anyone in London her own age. Or if her parents weren't being such gits about suddenly becoming rich overnight. But, as it was, the only person Alison knew or even really liked in the London area was her baby brother.
Pain in the neck he may be, but he was brilliant. Alison had to give him that.
So she borrowed the car, and took her little brother somewhere fun. They had all this money, anyways, why not spend it giving her kid-brother a day to remember?
She took him to the Chessington World of Adventures Resort.
Yes, she was going to get in trouble. Yes, Mum and Dad would be furious at her. But… honestly? Alison didn't really care, anymore.
Served them right for moving away from all her friends.
David was, as always, rambunctious and excitable and brilliant all at once. Racing around the park, eager to try out all the rides and see all the animals and — could they visit the petting zoo, please, Alison, please, please, please?
But the petting zoo was closed. Some… police investigation, apparently.
"Investigating what?" Alison asked one of the park employees.
The employee brushed her off with some vague mutterings about mysterious disappearances and it wasn't important and please move on, the petting zoo is closed. Which didn't exactly satisfy Alison. Disappearances? What sorts of disappearances? Who had disappeared, and why hadn't Alison heard anything about it?
"Don't you think that's odd, David?" Alison asked him.
David didn't seem all that interested in the oddness, though. He had decided that he wanted an ice-lolly, and had grabbed Alison up by the hand, trying to tug her along after him.
As Alison was led away, she overheard an American accented voice asking the employee some questions. Questions about the disappearances — what he'd seen, what had happened, what he knew. But the answers to these questions were swallowed up by the chatter of nearby people, and when Alison glanced over her shoulder, she only just caught a glimpse of someone about her age, with blond hair and brown eyes.
Before David tugged her around a corner.
And Alison could neither hear nor see anything else.
That was all right, though. Certainly all right. Let other people deal with this sort of thing. Alison was just dealing with her brother. And if her brother wanted an ice-lolly? Well, this was his day — he was entitled to one.
It still didn't stop Alison from feeling… twitchy. Odd. Disturbed. Even as she stood in the queue.
Why hadn't she heard about this?
What had happened?
"Alison!" David whined, when he noticed she wasn't paying attention to him, anymore. He tugged at her sleeve, and she realized she was next in the queue at the food trolley.
She stepped forward, giving the food-man an apologetic smile. "One ice-lolly, please," she said, handing over the money. She squinted at the different flavors. "Red one, I think."
The food-man sighed, and handed her over the lolly. "Thank you, please come again," he said, in a monotone voice that was less than enthusiastic.
Alison turned, stepping out of the queue. "All right, David. But you'd better eat this slowly, or you'll… get…"
Then realized… David had run off.
Alison groaned. "Where'd you run off to, this time, David?" she muttered.
Her eyes frantically scanning through the crowds of people, trying to work out where he'd run off to. And… yes, just there! That was him! By that man in the black hoodie, eating some marshmallow treat, looked like. A marshmallow treat… given to him by the man?
Brilliant David may be, but he was bone-stupid around strangers bearing sweets.
"David!" Alison shouted, racing towards him. "Get back here!"
A crowd of people passed between Alison and David. Alison pushed through them, very nearly dropping the lolly to the ground, as she did so.
"Didn't they teach you anything in nursery school," said Alison, as she emerged from the crowd, "about not… approaching…?"
She stopped. Stared.
Both the man… and David… had vanished.
Alison dropped the lolly to the ground. "David?"
"David!" Alison called.
She began searching, frantically. Looking behind rubbish bins, huge posters, plastic statues of animals, anywhere a little boy could hide. But… nothing. Nothing at all! He was just… gone!
"David!" Alison shouted, again.
"He can't hear you," came an American accented voice to her right.
Alison spun around, and… there, standing nearby, a pensive look on her face, was the blond girl Alison had seen, before. She was short, with straight blond hair, large brown eyes, and freckles dotted across her nose.
"What do you mean, he can't hear me?" asked Alison, as the girl darted past her, standing in the very spot David had once been, with the strange hoodie-wearing man. "Did he get kidnapped or something?" She spun on her heel, ready to rush for the exit. "I can cut them off! Make sure—"
The blond girl grabbed her hand and tugged her back. Gave her a placating smile. "I wouldn't bother," she said. "You won't find them."
"Why?" Alison demanded. "What…?"
"Because they're not on this planet, anymore," the girl explained. She wandered out a little ways, smacked her lips, thinking it all over. "Air tastes faintly of… ginger beer. Feels a bit static." She nodded. "Definitely a long range teleport beam."
Alison's jaw dropped open. "Oh, my God," she breathed. "You're mad."
"No, I'm Seo," the girl explained, spinning around to face Alison, again. "But it's not about who I
am. What I want to know is… who's the tallish man in the black hoodie who keeps kidnapping nursery school children?"
Alison wasn't sure what to say to this.
"You didn't actually see his face, did you?" asked Seo. She grinned, shook her head. "No, course you didn't. Or you'd know he wasn't human. And you'd be a jabbering wreck, like all the others."
"Wasn't human?" Alison said. Struggling to get this through her mind. "What do you mean, 'wasn't human'? You don't mean… he was… an…?"
Seo beamed at Alison.
"No," said Alison.
"Yep," said Seo. Then turned on her heels, and raced off into the distance.
Alison chased after her.
"Look, who are you?" Alison demanded, trying to keep up and avoid the oncoming crowds of people at the same time. "What's happened to David? What's going on here, and why are they able to hush it up?"
Seo stopped in her tracks. Glanced over her shoulder. "Hush it up?"
"Well… yeah," Alison said. She shrugged, uncomfortably. "It's just… this is an amusement park. If children start going missing, here, it should be all over the news. Everyone in London would be talking about it."
Seo thought this through, a spark appearing in her eyes. "You're good at this," she noted. She turned to Alison. "What's your name?"
"Alison," said Alison.
"Can I recruit you to be my unofficial Scooby for this investigation, Alison?" Seo asked her.
"Huh?" asked Alison.
"Brilliant," said Seo. She grabbed Alison by the hand, and tugged her along, through the crowds of people. "And the reason this hasn't been reported, yet, is because our black-hooded friend has been extremely clever. Moment before he teleports the kid away, he reveals his face to the parent or guardian nearby. Next thing you know — the children are gone, and the parent can't do anything except scream and sob."
Alison felt her head spinning.
"Easy to cover up," said Seo, "when the only witnesses have gone completely mad." She reflected. "Well, except for me and you, that is. We haven't gone mad."
"You sound mad to me," said Alison.
Seo stopped. Turned back to Alison. "You really don't believe me?"
Alison tugged her hand out of Seo's grip. Crossed her arms. "My brother has been kidnapped," she said. "By a man. A human man, in a black hoodie. Not an alien. Not some green-skinned, bug-eyed monster. A normal, evil man. Because aliens — real, honest-to-goodness, like-in-the-films aliens — don't exist."
"Then why are you following me?" Seo asked.
Alison opened her mouth to answer, but found… she didn't have one.
"I saw what happened," Seo told Alison. "I was across the way, watching, when your brother got taken. Whoever took him wasn't human, Alison. His fingers were wrinkly and gray. And there were six of them. Does that sound human to you?"
No. It… didn't.
"Why should I believe you?" Alison asked.
"Because you're clever enough to know I'm right," Seo replied. "Clever enough to know that — if David had gotten kidnapped in the conventional way — he would have screamed and kicked up a fuss. Even if the candy was laced with some sort of pacifying drug, it would never have had a chance to kick in. The only way this makes sense is if I'm telling you the truth."
Alison said nothing for a long moment.
"Yes," she said, at last. Then sighed. "All right, yes, I believe you! Just please don't make this any more X-files than it needs to be."
Seo frowned, confused — clearly missing the reference. Then pretended she'd understood it, and gestured for Alison to follow her, as she raced off, again.
"I've been looking into this all day," Seo called back at her. "Or… not all day. More like… the last forty minutes. You don't happen to know how to fix a dishwasher, do you?"
They zipped around a corner, then stopped in front of a large plastic-looking amusement park display. A series of oversized, plastic animal sculptures that kids could climb on, get their pictures taken with, etc.
"It's got to be around here," Seo told Alison. "I'm positive. This is the triangulation point between everywhere that kids have been taken. The center of the circle."
"What has to be here?" asked Alison. She put her hand up to her head, trying to think past the mental block in her mind that kept telling her this had to all be rubbish. Or a bad dream. "No, wait. Center point." She looked up into the sky, squinting. "Do they have some… invisible space ship parked up there?"
Seo looked up, too. "I don't know," she admitted. "That's an interesting thought." She shot Alison a grin. "Actually, what I think's hidden around here is the teleport feed." She bent down, patting down the plastic animals, as if feeling for some kind of hidden catch or switch.
"Teleport feed," Alison deadpanned.
"Whoever that man in the hoodie is," said Seo, switching to another animal, "he used a long range teleport to get past the atmosphere. Probably designed to hook onto some signal embedded in the sweets. And a teleport like that needs…" She grinned, as her hand stopped, and her eyes lit up. "Aha!" she cried, and pounded her fist down on the side of the plastic elephant's head.
The front of the elephant's trunk opened up, and Alison just barely caught the futuristic piece of alien tech that dropped out.
The metal, beneath her fingertips, felt unlike anything she'd ever felt before. The language scrolling across the display completely alien. Every part of the device screaming 'other world' at her.
"Oh, God," she whispered. "It's all true." Then, overriding the fear and horror and concern over her brother… a feeling of sudden excitement inside her, rushing through her. "Aliens! Outer space! It's all true!"
Seo grabbed up the teleportation feed from Alison, studying it. She dug out a bobby pin from her pocket, and began prying off bits of casing.
"Are… are you
… an alien?" Alison asked her.
Seo didn't bother looking up. "No; I'm an American."
Alison felt a little disappointed. "Oh."
"My father's an alien, though," Seo continued, squinting at some wires beneath the casing. "So, if you're asking whether you should rush me to the hospital if I get stabbed or shot or blown up, the answer is… no. Or I'll probably be dissected."
"Your father…?" Alison felt a sudden rush of excitement. "So… you have special powers, right? Like… if you touch your fingers together, time stands still, until you clap and it all goes back to normal, again?"
Seo glanced up from her examination. "Touch your fingers together? Is that a real thing?"
Alison fidgeted. "It… was… in a TV show," she offered.
Seo reflected. Then shook her head. "Well, I can't do that," she said, turning back to her work. "My main superpower is the ability to kill immortal, evil, 12th dimensional Hell Goddesses. Supposedly." She shrugged. "I've never tried it, myself."
Alison nodded, slowly. Taking this all in.
"What's wrong with your dishwasher?" Alison asked.
Seo paused. "What?"
"You… asked if I knew how to fix a dishwasher," Alison explained. "So… what's wrong with it?"
Seo cringed. "It blew up," she admitted. Her eyes fixed, intently, on the teleport feed. "All right, I
blew it up. But it was an accident." One red light pulsed on the machine, in a steady, rhythmic throbbing. "I was trying to work out how to fix it, when I heard about some rumor regarding disappearing kids in a theme park, and… well…"
"Came here to investigate," Alison said. Because, apparently, 17-year-olds with alien fathers just… did things like that.
The red light on the teleport feed stopped blinking.
Then, all the lights blinked back on, and the teleport feed began humming in Seo's hands. Seo gave a large grin, as the different colored lights danced across her pale skin. "Ha! There you are!"
Seo grabbed up a large red wire, and yanked it out of the device.
It clunked. Then went dead in Seo's hands.
Alison stared. "What did you do that for?" she demanded. "I thought we were going to teleport ourselves onto—"
"Whoever kidnapped those kids," Seo explained, calmly, "just teleported back here. I want to find him. I disabled the feed so he'd be trapped, unable to teleport to the space ship."
That made sense.
"And then… you can re-enable it, later," Alison hypothesized, "to get us to this alien ship thing?"
Seo didn't answer. Just spun on her heel, and pointed in a random direction. "That way," she decided. Then, with a grin and a skip, raced off. "Come on!"