Davy had invited Keith and Martin over to swim in the pond near his home, and on this hot summer day, the two boys had gladly accepted the invitation. Privately, Davy was hoping for the opportunity to tell his two friends about Jahv, the young alien boy that he and Niklas had rescued about a month ago. He'd had several opportunities to speak with and play with Jahv, but he suspected that the alien was getting a little bored and wanted to meet some new people.
It didn't quite happen as well as Davy had hoped. Since Jahv's dome tent was invisible, there was no way of knowing where the boy actually was unless he was outside of the tent. Davy didn't see him around, and although his green skin allowed him to blend in fairly well with the nearby trees, his shock of white hair was a dead giveaway most of the time.
Keith and Martin, hot and sweaty from their bike ride over to Davy's, wasted no time diving into the pond, Martin in his underwear, and Keith not even bothering with that much. Davy had taken off his shirt and shoes, but wasn't in the pond. He was looking for Jahv. Who turned up in the last place he had thought of to look. Apparently the alien could hold his breath for a lot longer than the average human, because he came up out of the pond right next to Keith, who was so startled by the sudden appearance of the strange being that, had he been capable of it, probably would have shot straight out of the water and run all the way back to shore across the surface of the pond.
As it was, Keith let loose a couple of expletives and fell back several steps, stumbling on the last one before recovering his balance.
About ten feet away, Martin was frozen in place, eyes as wide as saucers.
Davy was on the shore, having finally seen what was going on, and groaned. So much for preparation.
Keith was sputtering almost incoherently, and coughing up some pond water, but he did manage to get out, "Davy! What the -- " *sputter* *cough* "-- have you got in this pond!?"
Davy waded out to Keith and Jahv, gently side-stepping Martin, who hadn't budged since Jahv had risen to the surface. Davy suspected that if anyone so much as touched the younger boy, he'd probably let out a scream that would have been heard all the way back to Jahv's home planet, wherever that was. "Uh, Keith, Martin, this is a friend of mine. Jahv." said Davy, deciding to go for a direct introduction and let the questions fly after. "Jahv, this is Keith and Martin."
Jahv smiled politely. "Hello." he said. "Davy, is that little one you call Martin over there all right? He hasn't moved."
Keith had recovered from being startled, and at this point wanted answers. "Davy, what the heck IS this -- this -- what is he?"
"He's an alien." replied Davy.
Keith glared at Davy. "Okay, I guess I can't come up with any other explanation for why somebody with green skin, white hair, two antennae on his head, and oversized purple eyes would be standing in front of me, so let's try a different question. What's he doing in the pond?"
"Taking a bath." replied Jahv. "The plumbing broke down in my dome tent. I can fix it, but it'll take time."
"What's a dome-tent?" asked Keith. "For that matter, where is it!?"
"It's cloaked. Invisible. You can't see it." replied Jahv.
"Oh, of course." replied Keith. "Now, would somebody please wake me up?"
"He ran away from home." explained Davy.
"You're joking." said Keith.
"Well, technically, he beamed away from home, but it's the same principle." answered Davy. Keith just glared. Davy looked over at Martin. The boy hadn't moved. Davy wasn't sure he'd even blinked since Jahv had appeared. "Hey, Martin! Come on over here! He's friendly!"
"Yeah, don't have an accident over there or anything," remarked Keith. "For all we know, this guy would regard it as an act of war."
"Just how barbaric do you think I am?" huffed Jahv. "My people are peaceful explorers!"
Martin still didn't move. Finally Jahv waded over, slowly, and extended his hand. "I won't hurt you. I'm very pleased to meet you." Martin blinked, and looked at the green hand which only had three fingers and a thumb. "You've only got four fingers." he said timidly.
"Or you've got an extra." replied Jahv. "I suppose it depends on who you ask."
Very cautiously, Martin accepted the handshake. He felt a slight tingle go up his arm. "What was that?"
Jahv grinned. "Just a little telepathic greeting. Harmless."
Martin managed a weak smile. "Oh. Okay."
Davy and Keith had come over to the edge of the pond, and all four boys emerged. "Davy, how long have you had him here?"
"About a month." explained Davy. "He showed up when Niklas and I were out here swimming one day. He really does have a tent home here, and it really is invisible."
"And I really did run away from home." said Jahv.
"Why?" asked Keith.
"My parents never paid any attention to me. Never let me do stuff I wanted to do. Just hauled me all over the place where they needed to go."
Keith nodded. "I can relate. I sort of get the wrong kind of attention at home."
"So you live here at the pond all the time?" asked Martin.
"Yes, and that's something I wanted to talk about, Davy." said Jahv. "I hate to say it, but I have been getting a bit bored. I wish I could, even just once, see something more of your world than this. Like where you go when you're not at home or here at the pond."
"I don't see how that could possibly work." said Davy, reluctantly. He wished he could take his alien friend around.
"You don't exactly blend in." said Keith.
Martin was suddenly thinking, though, no longer as afraid as he had been. This Jahv was a pretty neat kid, he had decided, and he wanted to help. "It might be possible," he said.
"How?" asked Keith very skeptically.
Martin was still thinking. "Okay, first we'd have to hide those antennae. Could we hide them under a cap?"
Jahv recoiled. "These are very delicate. They're what I hear with. They might get crushed."
Martin considered that one. "Okay, how about this. we cut a couple of holes in a cap for them to stick out. And people think they're part of the cap."
Davy raised his eyebrows. "That could work, but what about the rest of him?"
Martin thought some more before answering. "We could paint his face a regular color, and give him dark glasses to hide his eyes. If he keeps his hands in his pockets or something, no one will notice those."
"What about the white hair?" asked Keith, still skeptical, although Jahv was grinning widely. "And where do you suggest taking him?"
Martin shrugged. "What about the Mall? It's big, enclosed, and it'll be busy. He can look at all sorts of stores."
"You're crazy!" protested Keith. "You want to take an alien to a mall full of people?"
"A mall full of people that'll be paying attention to their shopping and not to four kids on summer break." said Davy. "Not even one whose only apparent peculiarities are white hair and a weird cap. I think Martin's got a good idea."
"I think you're both nuts." said Keith.
"Does that mean you don't want to tag along?" said Martin, a little sadly.
"You kidding?" said Keith. "I wouldn't miss this for anything. Besides, if you three get into trouble, somebody's gotta get you out of it."
The four youngsters carefully made their way to Davy's treehouse. Among other stuff stashed up there was some Halloween make-up paint. Most of it was pretty brightly colored, but some careful mixing resulted in a color that looked fairly normal. There was also an old cap that Martin carefully cut a couple of holes into. Jahv donned the cap. "Ouch." remarked the alien. "That sort of pinches, but I guess it'll be okay."
Keith went through a few boxes and came up with a pair of sunglasses. He handed them to Jahv. "How am I supposed to keep these on my head?" asked Jahv.
"They fit over your -- uh, ohhh..." Davy suddenly remembered that Jahv's antennae were his ears. The boy didn't have ears on the sides of his head for the sunglasses to fit over. "Keith, there should be an elastic strap in that box. Try to find it, okay?"
Keith brought the strap over just as Davy finished painting Jahv's face and neck. "I hope you don't sweat too much." said Davy. "If your face starts to run, we could have a real problem."
"Sweat?" asked Jahv. "Oh. My people can control that. I'll just remember not to."
Davy used the strap on the sunglasses, to wrap them around Jahv's head. He brushed the boy's hair over the strap and the sides of the glasses, so no one could tell that they weren't placed over ears. Jahv's hair was incredibly light, almost feathery to the touch. There was an old mirror in one corner of the treehouse, which Martin brought over. "See how you look." he said. Jahv grinned widely. "I'm a human! Let's go to the Mall!"
Shortly after, with Jahv dressed in an oversized sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers -- and hanging tightly onto Davy while riding on the back of Davy's bike, the four friends set out for the local Mall. Jahv had also brought along his seemingly bottomless backpack. The boys parked their bikes, and Jahv studied the huge building that comprised the Mall. "Big." he commented. "Primitive, but big."
The foursome entered, and Davy asked what Jahv wanted to see first.
"Everything!" the alien said.
Close by was a large bookstore, and Jahv seemed fascinated by the place, so the four boys headed into the store. The first thing Jahv did was to pick up a novelization of the recent Star Wars movie. He fanned through the pages at an impossible speed. "I think I've heard of some of these races," he commented. Then he picked up a Star Trek book and fanned through it the same way. "And I know I've heard of some of these. Under different names, of course. I'm amazed that you've heard of them on this planet."
"Talk about your final frontier," remarked Davy, not entirely believing what he was seeing.
"Yeah, in a galaxy far, far away." added Martin.
"Wonder if he knows he's reading fiction?" questioned Keith. The boy looked around, concerned. Jahv's antics were attracting a bit of attention, especially from a couple of store employees who probably thought Jahv was playing with the books and mishandling them. Jahv was still racing through the science-fiction books, and his reactions varied anywhere from astonishment that some races that he apparently knew of had somehow become known on this world, to outright amusement at what some other writers described alien life as being. Finally, Jahv let out a burst of laughter that was way too loud for a bookstore. "They call that alien life? I know a couple of worlds where they call it breakfast!"
That was enough for Keith. He glared at Davy and Martin, and motioned towards the exit. Then he walked over to Jahv and said quietly, "I think we should find another store."
Jahv looked up. "Huh? Why?"
"You're attracting a bit too much attention there, Speedy." said Keith.
Jahv looked around and saw the two store employees, and a couple of customers, glaring at him. "Oops. Sorry. I kind of get like that around books." Jahv put the book down and he and Keith left the store.
They would have stopped in a music store, but some sort of heavy metal was blasting from within, and it made Jahv wince and his antennae twitch. They headed away. "Please tell me something was wrong with the equipment in there." said Jahv.
"Uhh, not really." said Davy, but he didn't blame Jahv for his reaction. He didn't like that racket too much, either.
Jahv just shook his head.
The group found a toy store next and wandered in. The first thing Jahv noticed was a display and demonstration model for a video game system. "A simulator!" he said.
"A what?" asked Keith.
"This!" said Jahv, grabbing the control and pressing the start button. The game was a flight attack game, and seconds later, Jahv had racked up a considerable score. Then the game shut down as its demonstration timer expired. "Hey!" snapped Jahv.
Davy looked at Keith. "Arcade?" Keith nodded. "Arcade. No one will notice him in there, and I've got a few bucks on me for tokens."
Before they got to the arcade, though, they passed a pet store. Martin liked looking at the tiny puppies and kittens, so the group agreed to go in.
Jahv looked around. "What is this place? A miniature wildlife park?"
"No, it's a pet store." replied Davy.
"Pet store?" asked Jahv.
"Don't you people have pets?" asked Keith quietly. "You know, little animals that you keep around for companionship, or just for the heck of it?"
Jahv shook his head. The pet store always kept at least one puppy and one kitten out in the open for customers to view and carefully handle. The rest of the store's animals were in caged enclosures towards the back of the store. Martin had headed back there, and was cuddling a tiny kitten. A large white puppy was sniffing around customers' feet. Then Jahv approached. The puppy came over, and stopped in its tracks. It huffed a few times, and looked terrified. Then it threw its head back and howled. That noise set off every animal in the store, and the kitten Martin was holding squirmed to get free.
"Time to go, I think!" urged Keith, practically dragging Jahv out of the store while Davy retrieved a confused Martin. Once outside the store and on the way to the arcade, Keith remarked to Jahv, "You ever think of changing your deodorant or something?"
"My what?" asked Jahv, confused.
"Actually, it probably was his scent that scared those animals." suggested Davy. "Jahv, have you had any problems with wildlife near the pond?" Davy knew that there wasn't anything really big out there, but rabbits and raccoons had been seen at times, and plenty of birds.
Jahv shook his head. "I've seen a few small animals, but they run from me."
"That's nothing unusual." said Keith. "Most wild animals avoid people."
"Which is probably why we didn't figure this out until now." said Davy. "Jahv probably smells really strange to animals, and they don't like it."
"So much for bringing my dog by to meet Jahv." said Martin, a little sadly.
"I wouldn't." advised Davy.
The group reached the arcade. Jahv looked decidedly enthusiastic, Martin less so. The younger boy really wasn't very good at video games and he didn't like them very much, and he certainly didn't like all the noise coming from the place. But he knew he was safe with his friends. Keith went off and brought back a large handful of tokens for the video games, and Jahv had located a game similar to the one he had played in the toy store. Minutes later, he had racked up a score far higher than any achieved. Martin and Davy were watching the game, but Keith was still looking around every so often.
Jahv's playing of the game had attracted a few onlookers, but the oversized sweatshirt he was wearing hid his odd hands. As far as anyone knew, Keith hoped, this was just a regular kid who was really good at video games.
Then trouble walked into the arcade.
Keith cringed. Three older teenagers, one of them smoking, all of them looking and acting tough, surveyed the room, making sure that some attention was being paid to them. Keith swore under his breath. "Hey, guys -- serious trouble."
Davy and Martin looked up. Martin went pale. Davy remarked, "You know those guys?"
"I know OF them." said Keith. "They think they're some kind of local gang. They're just troublemakers, but they are serious troublemakers. They've been causing grief at this mall for weeks, but they always manage to duck out before security can get to them."
"They're also coming this way." said Davy.
"Yeah, I was afraid of that. They can't stand anybody getting more attention than them." said Keith.
"Well, looky here." snarled one of the teenagers. "Hey, Bruno, this little punk's managed to triple your best score!"
"What?!" roared the one named Bruno. "Hey, punk! Yeah, you with the shades and the stupid cap! Don't you know that's my game?"
Jahv turned. "I'm sorry. I didn't know it was your property."
Keith groaned. Jahv was trying to be honest, but he knew how that comment would be interpreted.
"A little wise-ass, huh!?" growled Bruno. "Okay, guys, get him out of here!" Pushing Keith, Martin, and Davy aside before any of them could react, although Martin had already backed off quite a bit, the two toughs that Bruno was ordering around picked up Jahv and carried him out of the arcade. There was a large fountain just outside of the arcade, and the two teens threw Jahv into it, and proceeded to laugh following the splash.
"Ohhh, not good." said Keith. "So much for the make-up."
"We need to get out of here, right now!" urged Davy.
"I think maybe we can." said Keith. "Those three idiots are still laughing themselves stupid. Let's go."
The boys didn't get far. They grabbed Martin and were trying to work their way past the three bullies, when Bruno spotted them. "Where d'ya think YOU'RE going?! You were with that little freak, so you're gonna get the same as him! Or worse!"
One of the punks pushed Martin down, and clearly Davy and Keith were next, when an impossibly loud voice roared and echoed from outside the arcade. "YOU LEAVE MY FRIENDS ALONE!"
All heads turned towards the entrance of the arcade. Standing there, dripping wet, the make-up and the cap gone, his eyes actually glowing a brilliant bright blue, was a thoroughly furious Jahv.
"What the -- ?!" one of the bullies started to say, but in that instant, Jahv raised his right arm, and, incredibly, a bolt of lightning shot from his fingertips. It soared into the video game Jahv had been playing, which the three toughs were still standing closest to. The game's screen shattered, and sparks and smoke flew from the machine.
"Jeez!" exclaimed Keith, ducking out of the way and out of the arcade, with Davy and Martin close behind. "Remind me never to make him mad at me!"
Even Jahv looked surprised at what had happened. "That was -- too much. That wasn't what I wanted to have happen."
"Worry about it later!" said Keith. "We need to get out of here, and right now!"
"I may have something that can help." said Jahv, reaching into his backpack and pulling out a device that was about the size of a large flashlight, but looked more like the handle to a Star Wars lightsaber. "This is a personal cloaking device. I can expand the field of it somewhat. Stay close to me, and they shouldn't be able to see any of us."
Jahv activated the device. To the other boys, it didn't seem as if much had happened. The air seemed to shimmer a bit, but that was all. But clearly something had happened, based on the expressions on everybody else's faces. "Hey!" yelled one of the punks. "Where'd those little punks go?"
"I don't think that matters", said the owner of the arcade, bringing down the metal gate that closed the arcade to the rest of the mall. "You three punks have been causing me grief for weeks. Now you blew up one of my machines. Security's on its way, you're not going anywhere this time, and I intend to have you arrested."
"We didn't blow up your machine! It was that weirdo kid that shot lightning at us!" snarled Bruno.
"I don't see any kids." said the arcade owner. "Certainly not one that could do something as ridiculous as that. Anybody else see any kids?"
The other patrons of the arcade, who had also suffered at the hands of these three teen punks, all shook their heads.
Jahv, Davy, Martin, and Keith left the mall, trying not to laugh, just as the mall's security forces arrived.
Minutes later, the boys were on their bikes, Jahv trying to keep his head tucked into the collar of the sweatshirt and still hang onto Davy. Keith had wrapped his shirt around Jahv's head somewhat to try to conceal the antennae without hurting Jahv, and without making it look like there was an accident victim riding on the back of Davy's bike.
They returned to the pond, where Jahv entered his dome tent -- and to Keith and Martin it looked like he had vanished into thin air for a few moments -- and returned with lemonade and candy bars for everyone. He'd also, as was customary for him, dispensed with any clothing. As hot and tired and the other three boys were from a somewhat faster bike ride than before, Davy, Martin, and Keith were pretty well down to their underwear.
"I hope we're not going to get into trouble over this." said Davy.
Keith, previously the most concerned about that, shook his head. "Nah. I know the arcade owner. He's been wanting a reason to get rid of those punks ever since they started causing trouble. He just got it. Besides, who'd believe the truth?"
"Speaking of which," said Davy, looking at Jahv, "you never said you could -- shoot lightning!"
Jahv actually looked a little shaken. "I didn't mean to! All that was supposed to happen was a minor static discharge. All it was supposed to do was get those three bad guys to back off a bit. I didn't intend to blow up the machine!"
"Then what went wrong?" asked Martin.
"Well, I think I know." said Jahv. "Now that I've had time to think about it. Is everything on this world run by electricity?"
"Pretty much, yeah." said Davy. "Everything mechanical, anyway."
Jahv nodded. "That's it, then. There must be much more electricity at use on this world than there is on mine."
"Well, so much for your first outing into the outside world." remarked Keith.
"Yeah." said Jahv. "Can we do it again tomorrow?"
The three boys looked at Jahv, stunned beyond words. Finally it was Keith who spoke. "I don't THINK so!" he yelled, tackling Jahv right into the pond with a mighty splash. Davy and Martin dove in immediately after. And there they spent the remainder of the afternoon, diving and splashing water, with no one around to intrude.