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Jason Fischer hardly paid attention to the fiery reds, yellows, and oranges of autumn that surrounded him as he drove home in his new red sports car (the government had just raised the pay of its Department of Secrets workers). He would never have the need for money again, so he decided to enjoy his last few days here and buy something big. His mind was racing, full of the regrets and what-ifs and general nervousness one gets the moment a plan is about to be executed.
What am I doing? Have I gone completely insane? I can't do this! I am not the kind of man who would even think about doing something as huge as this, he thought, chewing on his bottom lip, a sure sign that he was thinking very hard. It was a 'bad habit', as his wife kept telling him, and 'one of these days he was going to hurt himself.' This was not the time to think about things like that; he must stay focused on the task at hand.
These thoughts continued all the way to Jenkins Avenue, when he reminded himself that it was the best thing for his family: it was entirely up to him.
If I don't do this, it'll be all my fault that my family is dead. It doesn't matter what I think. I have to do this. And, sure enough, as he thought these words, his stomach churned with nerves and excitement. He felt that small euphoria from being sure of something and excited that it is up to him to get it done. Jason pulled into the driveway with this feeling in his stomach, walking full stride up the walk, past the beautiful oak tree decked out in its finest most colorful apparel for autumn. On a normal day Mr. Fischer would have reveled in the cool crisp autumn air and the trees letting it all out in response for the drab colorless winter that was fast approaching, but on this day the sight of such autumn splendor brought tears to his eyes. It hurt him to think that in just a matter of hours, such perfection and beauty would be gone forever, in one explosive moment. He was a man on a mission: nothing was going to stop him. He stepped through the door of his lavender house with the red shutters (his wife's idea, and he had never liked it, but he kept that to himself) and walked with determination up the blue carpeted stairs (to match the house) to his bedroom where his wife and daughter, Stacy, were trying on different outfits.
"Hello, dear," Jason said, "I have something to tell you."
"Not now Jason, the Johnstons are coming over to play cards later: I'm trying to pick what I'm going to wear"
"Sally, this is important. It's a matter of life and death. Literally," he replied.
"Oh, sometimes you can be so overdramatic," she countered, but she sat down on the bed, despite her words.
"Sally, this may come as a shock to you, but we're leaving. Tonight. And we're never coming back," he said. At the look on his wife's face he added, "But don't worry the Johnstons are coming with us. Nicholas and I have been planning for months. He and Adrienne are coming over tonight to play cards, but that is just our alibi. In reality, we are going to the office. You know the prototype I've been telling you about? Well, we are going to steal it. And we are going to leave this place forever."
Dumbstruck, it took Jason's naive wife a minute to digest the magnitude of what she had been told. "B-but..why?" she asked finally.
"I can't tell you that, I'm afraid. Maybe when we are away and everything is settled down, I will be able to explain better."
Before he could say any more the doorbell rang. The Johnstons were here "to play cards".
"Hello? Is anyone there?" called Adrienne Johnston Jason jumped down the stairs four at a time. Before his feet even hit the ground, he was leading Nicholas away to his workshop. Fighting his way through the clutter to the light switch, Jason turned on the single dangling bulb in the middle of the small room. He turned on the loudest machine in the room, so the two men were not overheard.
"Did you tell your wife?" asked Jason right away.
"Yes, all she knows is that we are leaving. I didn't tell her where, that would be too much, or why. Just like we planned," replied Nicholas, "Are you sure the prototype will work? It hasn't ever been tested. And will we be able to get into the compound? It should be heavily guarded."
Jason chuckled slightly, more out of irony than humor. "I had the same conversation with myself on my way home. We just have to do it. There's no other way. I bribed the eleven o'clock shift guard: Getting in should be a snap."
After Jason had properly reassured his friend, they left the small workshop, failing to notice the man squatting by the window in the top of the wall, just below the ceiling at ground level, listening to every word they said.
The group sat down at the glass-topped coffee table to play several games of cards before it was time to leave. The tension between the group made the air alive, almost electric, and the dread everyone was trying desperately to hide was so thick you could cut it with a butter knife. The silence was broken only by Stacy's coughing. It's funny how time works. When one doesn't want it to pass, it slips through your fingers like water, but when it is desired to pass, it remains dragging on seemingly forever. This case was no exception, and before they knew it, it was eleven. In a deep baritone the old grandfather clock in the parlor struck out the time for all to hear. The group stood up slowly and walked out to the car they would be driving in to the government building. The grim bunch made their way to the compound silently, staring out the windows into the uncaring blackness of the night. Jason, who was driving, pulled to a stop in front of a long fence with a sign on it saying in large red letters Government Property. Restricted Area. Authorized Personnel Only. The otherwise invisible sign was made perfectly clear by the headlights of the car, cutting through night to cast an eerie shadow across the ominous sign. Nicholas got out of the passenger seat and opened the trunk, pulling out a maul with a light-colored handle and a rough black head. He walked over to the gate, and, swinging the ax high over his head and down in a deadly arc towards the padlock on the fence, successfully removed the small hindrance in their plan. As they walked over to the prototype, a man stepped into their way. The headlights mingled with the darkness to create awful shadows on his face, causing it to look scarred and extremely threatening. What was most threatening of all was the gun he had pointed at the two men: Its barrel looked straight at their eyes, causing a reaction in their minds that no words could. They slowly backed away towards the car, breathing heavily, and getting in as he told them to and said, "Sorry to block your way to freedom, boys, but the lives of the rest of society are much more important to me then you and your wives'. I was listening in on your little conversation in the basement this afternoon." The two men's supervisor paused for a moment, interrupted by a word uttered by Jason that made his wife say, "Jason Fischer! Not in front of Stacy!"
"And I'm afraid that I can't let you escape in the prototype space shuttle. We need that to build more of its kind, to save the rest of our species. In case you had forgotten, there are more people on this planet than just the five of you!" After he was finished, Jason and Nicholas' boss closed the passenger side door and told them to drive off. But before he could finish his sentence, Nicholas opened the door suddenly, and hit the man in the stomach.
"Oh! Shit!"
He doubled over and Nicholas took advantage of this, punching him as he stood up. The gun clattered away, and Jason smashed it to bits with the maul. They ran past their ex-boss, who was lying on the wet asphalt (it had begun to rain) groaning. They climbed aboard the shuttle and, after a few minutes' experimentation with the strange controls they were off, breaking through the atmosphere and into the cold, black void of Space. It was some time before they were close enough to the new planet that they could see it clearly.
"It's beautiful. I can't wait to meet the people who live on such a peaceful planet. They, too, will surely be a peaceful people," Stacy exclaimed once she got a glimpse of the fast approaching blue sphere.
"Yes, this is why Jason and I picked this planet, because of its beauty and obvious serenity. According to the star charts, the planet is called Earth."