Two Aliens [Alien Kids, #2]

The growling grew louder and angrier. Francisco looked around for a rock or a stick, something to fight with. “Stay back!” he shouted. His voice came out in a screech. Another, higher voice answered, like an echo… except this echo was making fun of him.

“Stay back! Stay back!”

The growling stopped and was replaced by laughter. Out from the bushes stepped Katie Hirota, wearing an all-weather suit, boots, and dark glasses.

Katie was one of the few kids in the colony who was the same age as Francisco. They were friends, except when they were having an argument, which was often. She had straight black hair cut in a bowl around her narrow face. She was always laughing and joking about something, and sometimes it was even funny. She also liked to tease him, which didn’t help, though she was never mean about it.

“Stay back!” she repeated, still laughing. “Oh, you should have heard yourself.”

“It’s not funny,” Francisco snapped.

“It sure is.”

She held up her hand screen and tapped it. The sound of growling needle dogs filled the air.

Francisco shrugged. “Well, you got me,” he admitted. “Did you come outside just to scare me?”

“Is there a better reason?”

Francisco hadn’t planned to do anything besides go outside the fence. But Katie was making him angry. “I’m going to Vista Falls,” he blurted out.

Her eyes grew wide. She wasn’t kidding anymore.

“You can’t do that, it’s too dangerous.”

“I’ve been there a million times.”

“On field trips, you mean.”

“So? The path is wide, there’s no way you can get lost.”

“What about needle dogs? You were scared of a recording. What would you do if you saw a real one?”

“There are no needle dogs between here and Vista Falls.”

She shook her head. “You don’t know that. Your parents will kill you.”

“I don’t care,” Francisco snapped, “I’m going. Stay here if you’re scared.”

He started walking away.

“I’m not scared. Hey, wait up!” Katie jogged after him, but he wouldn’t stop. Finally, she caught up. “We stay on the trail, right? And we get back before supper?”

“Sure,” he replied, like he’d planned it all along.

Just then, a second arteta flew down and fluttered around Katie. This one was mainly purple and green.

“Hi, Rosie,” Katie greeted it. Then she reached into her pocket, took out a bit of cookie, and fed the arteta.

“Everybody has an arteta now,” Francisco grumbled. “But I was the first.”

“You were not,” Katie replied. “But it’s true there are a lot more now. My dad says they never saw them when the colony started. He says we shouldn’t feed them, that it’s bad for them.”

Francisco took out a crumb and offered it to Spot. “Every parent says that. They just don’t want us to have fun.”

Francisco and Katie kept walking and soon they were on the trail—and just like Francisco had said, it was wide and beaten down. The sun was shining on the blue and purple leaves of the forest. As they walked their pets flew about, sometimes getting ahead but always coming back.

The path climbed steadily, and the sun beat down.

“It’s hot,” Katie complained. “This stupid weather suit is supposed to keep you cool, isn’t it? Maybe we should turn back.”

Francisco thought he could hear the sound of the falls, and now he really wanted to see them. He took out his hand screen. “It’s not far,” he told Katie.

“You know, your parents can track you with that,” Katie replied.

He hadn’t thought of that. “So what?’ he replied. “I don’t care. They can’t bring us here without asking us, then keep us inside the fence our whole lives.” Francisco unclenched his fist—he hadn’t realized he was doing it in the first place. With a deep breath he said, “I want to see the falls. You can turn back if you want, but I’m going.”

He kept walking and once again, Katie had to run to catch up.

“Slow down, will you?” she panted.

He stopped and pointed in the distance. “Look,” he said, “You can see the falls from here.”

“Wow!” she exclaimed. “That’s amazing. Everything is in bloom.”

They stood there and took it all in. The trees and plants on the banks were a riot of color. Flowering vines climbed up the sides of the steep cliff, but most amazing was the water. As it fell, the spray caught the sunlight and reflected a bright rainbow.

“Come on,” Francisco tugged on Katie’s arm excitedly. “There’s a spot where you can get a better view!”

The path grew steeper, and they struggled up until it flattened out at the top. On the other side was a steep drop down to the pool of water at the bottom of the falls.

“Be careful!” Katie warned.

“I’m fine, don’t worry,” Francisco replied, but he took a step back from the edge.

“This was worth the trip,” Katie said. “Even if we get in trouble. Let’s eat!” she told him.


“Yeah, didn’t you bring lunch?”

“Uh, I left in kind of a hurry.”

“That’s okay, you can have some of mine.”

She sat on a rock among some orange grass and took out a little box.

He sat down next to her. “What’s that?” he asked.

She laughed. “Onigiri. Rice balls.” She held the box out. “Try one.”

Her arteta flew down and she brushed it away. “Not you, Rosie.”

Francisco plucked a rice ball out of the box and put it in his mouth.

“Hey, this is good.”

“I know,” she replied. “My parents keep making food from Earth. They say it’s important to remember where we’re from.”

Francisco nodded. “Mine too. We have empanadas every Friday night. It’s so old fashioned—twenty-first century style. But I like it. It feels special.”

Katie looked at the last onigiri. “My parents won’t say it, but I think they’re homesick.”

“Mine, too. I think it’s hard for them to be aliens.” His voice grew quiet. “Maybe we’ll go back to Earth someday, but I don’t really remember it. To me, this place feels like home.”

“Yeah, plus here we get to be the first humans doing something almost every day.”

Francisco looked at the crumbs that remained of their lunch. “That’s what my mom says.”

“Well, she’s right.”

“I just…” He stumbled over the words. “I left in a hurry…. I just think I should get home.” He paused. “I don’t want to worry my parents.”

“Okay,” Katie said, standing up and putting the little box back in her pocket. Then she took a step towards the cliff edge for one more look.

“Well,” she laughed. “We did it. We made it to Vista Falls!”

Francisco nodded. “I told you there was nothing to wor…”

He never finished the sentence because the two artetas chose that moment to fly into Katie’s face. She stumbled, tripped, and began to fall backwards.

“Frankie!” she shouted as she began to fall down the steep slope.

Francisco reached out and grabbed the sleeve of her suit.

“Hold on!” he shouted.

Ed. : The tale continues in Part 3, “Lost.”