Bithot returns an offender to Earth under option twelve, and then notices Jane.
Bithot looked down on London. "We will leave him down there on the west side and maybe look up in Scotland for his replacement."
"We should go to Australia," Ekurb said. "I like the Australians."
"You complained because I wanted to visit America, now you are complaining again. It does not matter where they are from, does it, as long as they are right?"
"Yes, get your own way again."
"If it were my way we would be in America, would we not?"
"Looking for descendants of Martha."
"Just leave it, Ekurb, you better just leave it."
This was the first time Bithot had been to this part of Earth since 1940, just before he took over control of the Anolaid people, leaving Buffer in charge of the selections on Earth. Because of his experience, he was asked to return a young man Buffer selected. Buffer made a mistake in his judgement and the man turned out to be a womaniser and a petty thief. The man was creating problems on the island and after much discussion was to be returned under option twelve.
Bithot walked over to two of the transparent tubes and raised them to the vertical position. The option twelve returnee, who was suspended in a deep sleep, occupied one of the tubes. Bithot programmed the other tube as a changing booth and he inserted the 'young man' module into his fleshy pouch. He stepped inside ready for the transformation and then the transportation down to the streets of London. Bithot looked down to the alley where he was to appear. He noticed a small blue truck travelling towards the alley. Even though it was some distance away, it seemed to stand out as if it was glowing, but he knew it was only in his mind. He saw the RAF roundel on the front wing and thought that was why he picked it out. The last man he rescued on Earth, Roger, was in the RAF.
They arrived in the alley and Bithot acted the part of a concerned human, leading the man out into the main street. He went to a telephone box to call for an ambulance, but the man started to wander off so he returned to restrain him from walking into the road. It was then he spotted the ration truck approaching, and now he could see the driver. Even from a distance, he felt as if he knew her, there was something about her attracting him to her. As she got nearer, he concentrated all his thoughts towards her and caused her to look over at him. She would have passed by without even noticing, but he managed to influence her and she stopped when she saw him holding onto the man. She got out of the truck and walked onto the pavement.
"Are you all right?" she asked. "Can I be of any help?"
Bithot looked at her and could tell right away she was a descendant of his pet Martha. "You are the offspring of Marvin," he said.
"I beg your pardon."
"Sorry, sorry," Bithot said. "I thought you were someone else."
"Yeah, well I've heard that before."
"Look, I have just found this man wandering about and I need to call an ambulance, but he keeps wandering off. Could you just hold onto him while I make the call?"
"Not dangerous, is he?"
"No, of course, he is not."
Bithot used the telephone and then called to Jane. "The ambulance is on the way."
Jane nodded, but looked away for a few moments, feeling unnerved by the young man smiling and staring at her. When she looked back, Bithot was gone. "Shit. Where the hell?" She looked at her watch and gave a large sigh, knowing she would be in trouble because her deliveries were going to be late. "Great, how am I gonna explain this to the MT officer." Jane stood holding onto the man's arm as she waited for the ambulance. The man stood in a daze, just staring ahead and not attempting to move off while Jane held his arm as if a kind of contentment had filled him.
When the ambulance staff eventually arrived, they were baffled, but the condition was not unknown and had been reported a few times around the world. It was as if the man were suffering from a severe case of amnesia. He had no knowledge of anything, couldn't talk, and couldn't read or write. Instinct and reaction made his bodily movements, but not memory. His memory had been irreversibly wiped clean and he would need to be taught everything as if he were a baby.
Bithot looked at the screen on board the bullet-shaped craft, all the time watching Jane until the ambulance and the ration truck set off on their separate ways.
"You know you cannot have her," Ekurb said abruptly. "She is safe and she has a safe job. She is not in any peril, you can forget about her."
"I know, I know all that thank you, but I would like to watch her to see she is always safe. I owe it to my old pet Martha."
"You owe the human nothing. You saved her from death and permitted her a long and happy life on an island that was paradise to her. She also had offspring on the island so you can follow the bloodline there if you want to."
"Not the same, this one is special. I can feel a bond towards her."
Ekurb shook his head. "Why not just get a Smonjo pup like everyone else. You will probably never see the human again. We are not in charge here anymore."
"We are! Since when?"
"Buffer has been reprimanded for his mistake and has lost his status. Jarlut wanted me to take over the Earth operations and give Buffer the Anolaid people back. I was not sure it would be good for us and I told Jarlut I would let him know on our return."
"Great, and thank you very much for keeping me informed."
"I am sure now. I have decided to work with the humans again."
"That is the best news in the universe. No more smelly repugnant Anolaids. Thank the stars for the girl." Ekurb's eyes smiled. "Shall we set for Australia?"
"Set for where you like, Ekurb, I now feel content."
Bithot was skillful in his observations and soon found a more suitable replacement in Australia. He was pleased with the situation and knew he would now remain in control of Earth, as long as he made no mistakes with his own selections. The Australian surfing enthusiast lay sleeping in one of the transparent tubes. Bithot and his companion began to breathe the gas that would put them into a deep slumber for the duration of their trip back home.
* * * * *
After work, Friday night, Terry and I set off for East London. We turned into the street where Terry's parents lived, wearing our number one uniforms. I would have preferred to be in civilian clothes, but I knew Terry wanted to turn up at his house in his uniform so I wore mine as well to keep him happy.
We came to an off-licence near Terry's home and Terry went in while I remained outside with our travel bags. I was fascinated by the rows of small terraced houses, the valley roofs hidden from view, looking as if the houses were roofless. I smiled at Terry as he emerged from the off-licence with a box of Milk Tray chocolates for his mother.
I suddenly felt nervous as we approached Terry's house, wondering how his family would receive me. "I hope they like me," I said.
"What a strange thing to say." Terry gave a laugh. "Of course they'll like you, you silly girl."
I gave a light-hearted push on his shoulder. "Oy, don't be so cheeky, I'm older than you."
My fears soon disappeared when his mother welcomed me with a warmth I hadn't expected as if she had always known me. His father showed me the same hospitality, and it was a bonus that his brother with his wife, and two daughters were also there to greet us. I stood thinking what a wonderful family he had and wondered why he ever left them all to go into the air force. I took an interest in a framed coronation photograph on the wall, the three young brothers smiling as they stood to attention in their crepe paper suits.
"Any news from Australia?" Terry asked.
"Ian's doing well, got himself a big house by the beach, surprised he hasn't wrote to you." His mother replied. "Billy's thinking of going as well now. Might even go ourselves if it's that good."
Terry looked at his brother Billy.
"It's early days yet," his brother said. "Lots to consider first."
I was still studying the mounted photograph hanging on the wall, hardly taking in the conversation between Terry and his brother. I was almost startled when Terry spoke to me.
"That's me on the right," he said. "The one with the smartest paper suit."
"What a wonderful picture," I said.
"It's only a photo, we've got hundreds of them stuck in books. It sort of like, Dad's hobby."
"Talking of which," his father said. He walked across to the sideboard and took out his camera from the drawer. "We need a photo of you and Jane in your uniforms."
"Oh no, Mister Mansfield, I look silly."
"If you think you look silly, Jane, then you've been looking in the wrong mirror." Terry gently pulled me over to him and we stood in front of the fireplace while his father took the photograph, dazzling me slightly with his high-powered flashlight. "Well, Jane, are you and our Terry just friends, or are you courting?" I was caught out by the question and unsure what I should say. I knew what I would like to say, but I didn't want to make Terry feel uncomfortable about my feelings for him. I stood hesitant, but Terry answered the question.
"Jane's my girlfriend, Dad." I couldn't contain the huge grin that appeared across my mouth, a grin that lit up the whole of my face as I looked at Terry. The flashlight went off again.
"Marvellous," his father said. "That was a marvellous shot."
Billy and his family had to leave and they included me in their kisses and hugs as they left. Although it was just normal to them, I felt as if I were in heaven.
"Come on, Jane, let's go up the pub. I want you to meet my mate, Brian."
"You're not going drinking without something to eat," his mother said. "I'll make some salmon sandwiches." Terry looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. He looked at his watch. "All right, might be a bit early anyway."
"Do you want me to help you, Mrs Mansfield?"
"No, it's no bother, and you don't have to call me Mrs Mansfield. Call me Mum."
"Oh, okay, err," I hesitated. "Mum."
Terry's mother looked at me as if sensing the emotion as I showed a longing but also a fear of saying the word. "Come on then, Jane, perhaps I could do with some help."