Sam finished telling his story. Ray Calloway sat back on the old sofa in the older house. The man looked shattered, both physically and emotionally. All hope had gone from his eyes, all possibility for a true future taken, just like his child. Sam wished at that moment he had died in the explosion rather than have to tell this poor man his son was dead again.
Shaking, Ray slowly stood from the sofa, moving towards the kitchen, passing Sam on the way. He placed a trembling hand on the boys shoulder and thanked him for telling him the truth.
Sitting down on a hard backed chair, Sam watched the small television in the corner, listening to the wind and rain lash the building outside. A small mantelpiece arched over an unused fire. Glancing over the pictures strewn on top Sam saw a happy family. Husband, wife and beaming son. They all looked so peaceful. Looking again at the pictures, Sam felt something twinge within him, like a deep nagging thought pushing to burst through his conscious mind at any moment if only he could define it well enough.
Stepping towards the fireplace Sam looked over the pictures again. No. They must have been old, Jamie had been gone six years of course. But looking again Sam couldn’t deny it. The father in all the pictures had the deepest brown eyes, just like his son. But the man, the one he had been with for the past few hours, he had…
“We were so happy back then,” a voice announced from the doorway to the kitchen.
Sam spun around, his palms sweaty, as though he had been caught in the act of stealing something from the man. He stepped away from the fireplace, his wary attitude surprising the man.
“What’s wrong?” he asked quickly, stepping forwards. He held two steaming cups in his hands.
“N… Nothing,” Sam hurriedly said, his mind racing to keep up with the situation. He had left his weapon on the small sideboard beside the kitchen door, glancing at it now the man followed his gaze.
“Oh, don’t worry, I don’t even know how to use those things,” he said, trying to smile humorously.
Smiling back, Sam couldn’t help but concentrate on the shining green eyes staring back at him. Jamie had always said his father was a gun nut, he took him out deer hunting when he was only five to get him started early he had said.
“Jamie used to say he loved playing out on the creek bed in Summer with his friends. Aliens and marines and all that stuff,” Sam tested.
“Oh yeah, he would be out all day,” Ray replied to Sam’s fake memory, “he would only come back when his mother told him it was supper. Speaking of which, here’s a nice hot cuppa for you, should warm you up.”
Sam cautiously took the drink from the man, he couldn’t let his nerves show, not if this man wasn’t who he said he was.
“You know, you should stay here tonight. I’ll call the sheriff tomorrow and he can figure out what to do.”
Sam just nodded absently, where was the real Ray Calloway? He had to find him.
“Can I use your bathroom please?” he asked quickly, placing his cup down on the table.
“Sure, just upstairs, you can’t miss it.”
Sam sprang up the stairs, he had to be quick. The toilet was directly opposite the stairs, but he merely pulled the door too. There were three other rooms on this floor, two bedrooms and a small storage closet. The master bedroom was empty, but in the smaller room Sam found a sleeping Ray Calloway hidden under a blanket in the far corner.
Kneeling before him he gently shook the man, trying to awaken him but he didn’t even moan in his sleep.
“He won’t wake.”
The voice startled Sam, he hadn’t even heard the man coming. That meant he had to have been trained; well. And that meant he had a problem.
“Who are you?” he asked, the question pointless, he would never get a name.
“I take care of problems. Like the one you and your friend caused. I would have thought you’d be smarter. You should know how easy it is to track objects through slipspace.”
“You heard what they were doing to us, surely you have to care.”
“It is not my concern what has happened to you in the past, only what happens to you from now on.”
“I won’t leave,” Sam stated stubbornly, even as he tried to figure out any way to escape the situation.
“If you come with me now, I will let this man live. In the morning he will wake up with a headache on his couch none the wiser. If you refuse, well…”
He slipped a silenced pistol from a hidden holster on his back and sighted in upon the real Ray Calloway’s head.
“You can’t do this!” Sam spat at the man.
“Oh I don’t know. A boy crashes in a ship, threatens a man with a gun and then the person he is looking for is found dead the very next day. It seems like an open and shut case to me.”
“And what happens to me?” Sam asked slowly, hope dwindling before him.
“You were overwhelmed and took off into the night before finally releasing yourself off your troubles.”
“Suicide,” Sam said bluntly.
“Precisely. You can save a life tonight child, all you have to do is sacrifice your own.”
“I’m sorry, all I’ve been trained to do is take life.”
He sprang, the strength burst forth from his legs, years of tough physical training had given him extraordinary speed. He smashed the small bed before him forwards, violently knocking the gun out of the mans hand. Not stopping he used his shoulders to ram the bed forwards, crushing the intruder against the wall. He stooped quickly and snatched the weapon from the floor. Holding it against the back of the mattress he emptied the entire clip into the soft material. The red stain blossomed before Sam let the bed frame fall. The agent collapsed to the ground, his chest a patchwork of bullet holes and seeping red blood.
Dropping the gun to the ground, Sam returned to Jamie’s father. He would wake in a few hours, and then Sam would have to tell his story all over again.
Ray Calloway sat back on the sofa, clutching his wife to his chest. They sat together for the longest time before, finally turning to face the child across from them.
“They really did this to you? All of what you said is true?” he asked slowly.
“Every word Sir, the man in your upstairs bedroom should be proof enough of that.”
“Then our son, Jamie, he’s really…” he let the sentence hang before clutching his wife again. She hadn’t said anything since coming home to find her husband with a strange child. But now she looked towards Sam and smiled at him, her first true smile for six years.
“Thank you,” she nearly whispered, her eyes sore and bloodshot from the tears she had shed in such a short amount of time, “thank you for telling us what happened to our child.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t save him for you mamm, I, I tried begging him to reconsider, but he said it was the only way he could stop them and protect you.”
“It’s alright son, we don’t blame you,” Ray said slowly, reaching across to pat the child on his shoulder.
Sam slowly stood, walking back out towards the kitchen, picking up his pistol on his way out.
“Where are you going?” the man asked quickly, standing from his seat.
“I’ve done what your son asked of me Sir, now I have to leave.”
“Where are you going? Where does your family live? We can help you get there.”
“My family is dead Sir, I came from an orphanage and I am not going back there.”
“Well then where will you go? Please, let us help you, it is the least we can do.”
“I… I don’t know where I’m going to go.” Thinking on it now, Sam realised he hadn’t put much thought into what he would do after leaving. Now that realisation felt like a major omission on his part. How foolish could he have been, so short-sighted he had only seen what Jamie had asked him to do.
“Please, stay with us, for a while at least. You look like you’ve been through the wars. We won’t say anything about your past I swear.”
“But… but I, your son is dead because of me,” Sam stammered.
“Nonsense, those bastards killed him and the only reason we know the truth is because of you.”
“But, I would remind you of your son, you don’t want me here Sir.”
“Everyone deserves a home Sam, please, you could never replace Jamie but his memory lives on in you,” Melissa had risen from the sofa to stand beside her husband, “Stay here Sam.”
“Thank you,” he finally whispered.
It took many months to get used to normal life again, but Sam was thankful for every day he spent with these wonderful people. Six months after deciding to stay the official adoption papers were signed and Samuel Becker became Samuel Calloway.