“What’s on the go?” Martha asked.
“I told you, I stopped time,” Angel said.
Martha ran back inside the house.
“Is this a time machine?” Martha asked, pointing to the room with the control panel.
“It’s called a reality engine,” Angel said.
Angel then told Martha the history the reality engine. Angel also told Martha about Oberon and how it had different countries. According to Angel, Martha and Monica were born in a country called Libertas.
“Thanks to a plot hole, the Libertas government finally found you and your sister,” Angel said. “I’ve been in charge of safekeeping this reality engine for a few years. But our government re-assigned me to another position. I want you to keep the reality engine safe.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Just don’t let anybody know about this machine. Not even your family.”
“What if I refuse?”
“I can’t make you do something you don’t want to do. But if you agree to it, you can use this machine to make sure your kids have bright futures.”
Martha looked around the living room.
“I think the living room would look nice if I paint it teal,” Martha said.
“Will you keep the reality engine safe?” Angel asked.
“Yes. But how am I going to convince Larry we should buy this house?”
“I have no idea. But you better think of something.”
“Okay. I have a question, why is it called a reality engine?”
“The ruler of the country of Kratos, Glacier named it that for some reason. She’s also a demigod.”
Angel went back inside the control room and she showed Martha how to use the reality engine.
“Those look like buttons on a DVD player,” Martha said.
“Exactly,” Angel said. “Just like a DVD, you can slow down time, rewind it, fast forward it and pause it. You see those lines on the small screen? Those are the different timelines.”
Angel spent the next half-an-hour explaining to Martha how to use the reality engine.
When Angel set the time back to normal, she and Martha quickly went outside of the reality engine control room and they closed the door before Larry noticed.
“Larry, I think we should buy this house,” Martha said.
“But we can’t afford it,” Larry said.
“We both work two jobs each. I’m also a teacher,” Martha said. “We can afford it.”
“But you’re pregnant. So you’ll go on maternity leave soon.”
“Larry, do you trust me?”
“Then let me worry about all of that.”
“Fine. We’ll take this house.”
Nine months later, Martha gave birth to her daughter, Emily. Larry, Martha, Steve and Emily lived normal lives. Throughout the years, nobody knew that Martha kept a huge secret. Monica, however, did not live a normal life. For years, she traveled the world with John, looking for the reality engine, unaware that Martha had it the whole time. In fact, at one point, John and Monica explored was the catacombs in Paris, France.
“I just thought of something,” Monica said. “We’ve traveled the world, looking for the reality engine.”
“What’s your point?” John asked.
“Has it ever occurred to anybody that maybe the Libertas government hid the reality engine in St. John’s?”
“Why would it be there?”
“Maybe my sister knows where it is, or maybe she’s hiding it. She is from Oberon as well.”
“That seems a bit too obvious.”
“Does it really?”
Larry and Martha were about to leave the house to celebrate their first anniversary. They left Monica to babysit Steve and Emily.
“Steve is upstairs playing video games,” Martha said. “Just leave him alone, he’ll go to bed around 12:00. But put Emily to bed by 10:30. Oh, and I ordered a pizza. The delivery guy should be here any minute.”
“It’s only 6:00,” Monica said. “Aren’t you two leaving a bit too early?”
“We got a whole night planned.”
“Actually, I do,” Larry said. “I have a few surprises for Martha.”
“Have fun,” Monica said.
“Don’t worry. We will.”
“So, where are we going?” Martha asked as she and Larry walked to the car.
“You’ll see,” Larry said.
Larry drove through Eric Street.
“Do you remember that house?” Larry asked, pointing to an old house with white siding.
“How can I not?” Martha asked. “It’s where I got drunk and fell into your lap. Are we going to drop in?”
“No. Just taking a trip down memory lane.”
Larry then drove to a local restaurant.
“We haven’t been here in years,” Martha said. This is where you proposed.”
“It wasn’t very romantic though,” Larry said. “I got on one knee. But I was so nervous. My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy.”
“I know. But you were so cute.”
Larry and Martha went into the restaurant and they ordered the buffet. The song, I Turn to You Know, by Christina Aguilera came on the radio while Larry and Martha ate.
“Our wedding song,” Martha said.
“Yup,” Larry said.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just kind of wish we didn’t have to wait until after the kids were born before we got married.”
“Well, we both had kids to take care of, while we went to college and university. We couldn’t afford a wedding, and I didn’t want to get married at city hall. Not to mention that we bought a house. Besides, I’m glad our kids got to go to our wedding. Speaking of which, it’s too bad you didn’t get a hotel room. We could get drunk together without worrying about the kids killing each other.”
“Who says I didn’t?”
Martha’s face lit up like a lantern.
“Want to pay the bill and go now?” Martha asked.
Larry and Martha paid the bill, got into the car, and they headed to the hotel.
Larry and Martha had a lot to say while they were in the restaurant. But the car ride was very quiet. It was like they’ve run out of things to talk about.
“Do you still watch CNN?” Martha asked.
“Yes,” Larry said. “Why?”
“Just making conversation. What about Fox News?”
“Not really. Fox news is a biased conservative news organization. And this is coming from a conservative.”
“You don’t think CNN is biased?”
“Not as bad as Fox News. I wouldn’t be surprised if people accused Fox News of being a fake news organization someday.”
“Do you think people will accuse CNN of being a fake news organization?”
Once again, silence filled the car. Both Larry and Martha felt that the silence was both peaceful and awkward at the same time. During the silence, Martha thought about how she never told her family that she has hidden a piece of alien technology in her house for the past seven years. Actually, Martha has been carrying that guilt for the past six years. Somehow, though, Martha managed to suppress that guilt. Because Larry and Martha celebrated their first anniversary, that guilt resurfaced.
Eventually, Larry chuckled.
“Who would be stupid enough to write a fake news story?” Larry asked.
“I have no idea,” Martha asked. “Anonymous bloggers?”
Meanwhile, somewhere on Oberon, there was a tower. Inside the tower, on the top floor, Glacier and Clarence sat in a dark office, watching various news broadcasts from Earth. The office was as dark as a movie theater.
“It’s working, Clarence,” Glacier said. “For many years, we’ve filled Earth’s news with half-truths and whole lies, which influenced these Earthlings to create their ideologies. Earth has fought in two world wars because of these ideologies. So, it’s just a matter of time before World War 3 breaks out. When that war ends, Earth will be so weak; it will be easy to take it over. Want to know why?”
“Because they won’t have the weapons or the soldiers to fight us,” Clarence said.
“Why are we trying to take over Earth, when we haven’t even taken over Oberon yet?”
“Why focus on just one planet at a time?”
“Because we can’t work too efficiently if we spread ourselves too thin. Otherwise, we would have taken over Oberon by now.”
“Well, once we get a hold of the reality engine, we can take over the universe easily.”
“Then why bother with your current plan to take over Earth?”
“It’s a backup plan.”
“What’s our backup plan for taking over Oberon?”
“My God, why do you ask so many questions?”
“Why are your plans so convoluted? Why do you always find a reason to freak out at me almost every single day? For somebody named Glacier, you are so hot-headed.”
“No, I’m fucking not!”
Glacier’s words echoed throughout her office.
“You were saying?” Clarence asked.
“Shut-up,” Glacier said in a soft voice.
“I just thought of something, if the reality engine is on Earth, are we still going to wait for World War 3 to break out before we go take it.”
“Okay, but wouldn’t that put the reality engine in danger?”
“Damn. You’re right. Change of plans then. I’ll send my troops to Earth now, just in case the reality engine is there.”
Back on Earth, Larry and Martha arrived at the hotel. As soon as Larry and Martha checked in, they headed to their room.
Larry and Martha’s hotel room had a king-sized bed, a 52-by-92-inch TV, a desk, a mini-fridge, and a bathroom with a hot tub. The room was also very spacious as well.
“Why don’t you relax, while I slip into something more comfortable?” Martha asked.