After half an hour, however, our thoughts seemed to be going around in circles. It was Chunk who, suddenly, was enlightened:

– …What if they have been mentally manipulated?

– How?

Chunk spun in his seat, seized his laptop and typed like mad.

– Hang on, I’ll show you what I found on the Internet the other day…

After a few moments, here is what appeared on the screen, from memory:

(…) The man was 19 or 20 years old when this happened. He does not remember how he knew of the job interview, but he went to an office in Toronto. “They told me I would have to go to Philadelphia for this interview. I don’t know how I got there.” After leaving the airport, he was driven to New Jersey. There were no apparent papers, no discussion about the job, no salary mentioned and nothing about schedules or location. At the centre of the building was a room. He looked inside. He saw a steel door which looked like the kind of door one would find on a spaceship. He does not remember how he got home. He does not know for how long he was gone. He feels there are major gaps in his memories and that it may have all happened in one day. (…)

Chunk patted the screen.

– And there’s testimonies like that in spades.

For a moment I thought my friend was laughing at me.

– You really think aliens did this? I thought you didn’t take those theories seriously…

– I’m not talking about cloning, hybrid beings or creatures in people costumes. That kind of stuff belongs in the books you read. I’m talking about experiments done on human beings. And really, nothing says aliens are doing it, after all.

I thought about what I had just read for a while and – I think – I slowly nodded. I stood up, suddenly floored by exhaustion and I fell onto my friend’s bed.

– Experiments… It’s possible, Chunk. It’s not any crazier than anything else at least. But to what end? And how?

Chunk looked at me with a glance that, suddenly, I found strange, then he shrugged, probably overwhelmed by the question.

I closed my eyes, trying with all my might to imagine what could have happened. Until lunchtime everything was fine in my family. They were, so to speak, normally strange. Something must have happened that afternoon. Something that would have affected all three of them, while they were each leading their lives: my father was at his office (he’s an architect), my mother was out shopping and Julie was at the recreation centre with one of her friends and her parents.

In my head, nothing made sense. I opened my eyes and sat up. Chunk had his back turned to me and, surprisingly, had resumed his video game.

– Chunk? I called

But he didn’t seem to have heard me.

(Go to PART 10)


All rights reserved
(C) 2015-16 Jérémie Cassiopée

Illustration: Marzena Pereida Piwowar

Translation from the original French: Emilie Watson-Couture and the author.

Do you like Harry Potter, Oksa Pollock or Bobby Pendragon? "In the Shadows, Down By the Bookshop" is just as good, but radically different! Give it a go, and you won't be disappointed!

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