We knew that our happiness wouldn’t last. How could it? As far as the creatures on this planet knew, Aksel and I were fugitives who had escaped captivity and kidnapped an innocent alien child. Half-alien, anyway. They were bound to hunt us down sooner or later.
“We need a safer place to hide,” said Aksel.
I nodded. He was right. Though the quarry had been our safe haven all these years, it was far too large and too easy to find. That’s when I remembered. “I know just the place,” I said. “I mean, we’ll have to explore it just to be sure. But it just may work.”
That afternoon, we set off on a hike through the mountains, keeping a wary eye out for scouts or aircraft that may be searching for runaway earthlings. After several hours in the scorching heat, we reached the entrance of the mysterious cavern I’d come across long ago.
Aksel studied the boarded-over entrance with a dubious look. “Too bad we don’t have any flashlights,” he said. We ducked inside, then held hands and crept forward into the blackness. Chaplin, as usual, made no sound, but padded along close to our heels. After awhile, the darkness lessened, and the cavern was bathed in the soft, familiar glow of phosphorescent rocks.
Suddenly, Meiying came to an abrupt stop. “Look!” she cried, pointing. “It’s the sun and the moon! It’s the place, like the ghost lady said!”
Sure enough, hanging on the stone wall were metal sculptures of the sun and the moon, both flecked with rust. I don’t know why – I mean, the ghost lady hadn’t exactly said what we’d find in this place, but I felt a surge of hope. “We need to keep looking,” I said. “This way!” I had spotted a flight of stairs, and led my family down into a large room. High above our heads, a hole in the cavern ceiling revealed a starry patch of night sky.
Aksel sucked in his breath sharply and grabbed my arm. I turned, and there it was. A spaceship. Exactly like the one Arvid had been flying the night he abducted me.
Aksel and I let out whoops of glee. The girls bounced up and down, shrieking with excitement. We had a ship! The Jin-Arild family was going home!
I wanted nothing more than for us to cram inside and get the heck outta there. But Aksel reminded me that we first had to go back to the quarry and gather supplies. “We need food and water for the journey,” he said.
“And we can’t leave Lucille,” said Meiying.
So, with great reluctance, we left our miracle ship behind and trudged back to the quarry. We stuffed as much food as possible into flimsy, homemade backpacks, and gathered a few pails and jugs full of water. At last, we spread out our bedrolls and prepared to spend one last night in our quarry home.
I wish that we hadn’t. I wish that we had chosen to flee that night, to return to the hidden cavern with our supplies. But exhaustion won. And so, when the aliens came that night, they found us.