“Come see, Dad,” Charlie said, running up to the front door when Isaac got home from work. “I found alien technology at a yard sale today.”
“Alien technology? Really?” Isaac asked.
“Come see,” Charlie said. “It was in the free box and mom said I could keep it.” He dragged Isaac into his room and pointed proudly at the manual egg beater sitting on top of a tower of books.
“That’s not alien technology,” Isaac said. “That’s an egg beater. It mixes eggs.”
“That’s silly. Who would make something that cool-looking for mixing up eggs?” Charlie asked.
“Didn’t Mom tell you what it is?” Isaac asked. “I know she’s seen egg beaters before.”
“She just laughed and said it looked like alien technology to her too.” Charlie frowned. “So it’s not made by aliens?” He looked disappointed.
“No, but it’s a nice egg beater. Maybe we can have scrambled eggs with dinner,” Isaac said. “Go see what your mom thinks.”
Charlie picked up the egg beater and turned the handle. The whisks spun around and around. “Okay. I like scrambled eggs. I’ll be right back.”
Isaac sat down on the floor to wait. He put the books back into the bookshelf. Charlie still wasn’t back. Isaac stretched out on the floor and looked at the ceiling. There were little cracks in the paint. They hadn’t painted the ceilings when they moved in, and the paint was old.
Would he need to scrape off the old paint before he could start painting? He’d need to ask at the hardware store. He could add it to his growing list of house repairs. It was nice to do work that he could look around and see when he was done.
He squinted at the cracks in the ceiling. He could almost see a face. There were the eyes, the nose, the mouth. It was smiling. Isaac smiled. It was almost like looking at clouds and trying to see what the shapes were.
He looked around the ceiling for a dragon shape. He could always find a dragon shape in the clouds. There, in the corner. It was a three legged dragon, with a very short tail, but it counted.
He saw movement from the corner of his eye and turned to look back at the face. Was it smiling a little wider? No, that’s silly. He watched it for a while and nothing happened.
Where was Charlie? Surely it didn’t take this long to ask a question. Maybe he forgot he said he was coming back. Isaac sighed. That meant standing up. He must be getting old, because that didn’t sound nice at all. Actually a nap sounded better, but there wasn’t time before dinner. Yes, he really must be getting old.
There was movement out of the corner of his eye again. He looked back at the center of the ceiling. The face looked the same, of course. Wait. Did it just wink at him? It did.
“Dad!” Charlie said. “Time for dinner. I made the scrambled eggs. My egg beater is really fun. Maybe we can have scrambled eggs again tomorrow. Mom said maybe. Do you think that means yes?”
“I don’t know, Charlie. I’ll be right there,” Isaac said. Charlie grinned and darted back out of the room.
Isaac looked back up at the ceiling. The crack wasn’t moving. Had he imagined it? “I’ll check back later,” he said. The face didn’t move. Isaac got up and left for dinner.
After dinner, while Charlie was taking a bath, Isaac came back in to check on the ceiling. He stretched out on the floor once again and looked up. The cracks in the ceiling looked different. It almost looked like there was a flower next to the face.
Was it a gesture of friendship? “Do you want to be friends?” Isaac asked. The crack smiled a little wider. “Are you stuck there? Do you need help?” Another flower seemed to draw itself next to the first.
“I’ll call someone and see what I can do,” Isaac said.
After he called Great-Aunt Bethyl, he gave Charlie permission to stay up late and watch a movie. Not long after the movie started, one of Great-Aunt Bethyl’s mysterious friends came to visit.
He looked up at the ceiling. “You have an alien stuck in your ceiling. I wonder how long he’s been there,” the man said.
“Uh, I don’t know,” Isaac said. “How did he get there?”
“Faulty alien technology, of course,” the man said. “He was probably trying to travel through our galaxy by riding a particle beam and got stuck here.”
“Aren’t particle beams weapons?” Isaac asked.
“Oh, anything can be weaponized,” the man said. “Even water.”
The man pulled a strange metallic purple gun out of the pocket of his suit and pointed it at the crack in the ceiling. “Stand back.”
“You aren’t going to hurt him, right? He seems friendly,” Isaac said.
“I’m just helping him get unstuck. Once he’s out of our galaxy, he should be able to hitch a ride home,” the man said. The crack smiled.
“Okay,” Isaac said. The man pulled the trigger. The room seemed slightly brighter for a moment. Then, the crack in the ceiling was gone.”
“Thank you,” Isaac said.
“You’re welcome,” the man said. Then he left.
Isaac looked up at the smooth, clear ceiling. Even the three legged dragon was gone. Was it the alien’s pet? Was it part of his luggage? Isaac was left with a lot of questions and very few answers.
Well, that wasn’t anything new. At least he could cross painting the ceiling off his list of chores. Charlie was watching the first Dinosaurs versus Pirates movie. Isaac left the room to join him.