The kids had been in Alden's room, but now they were gone. Lieut felt a sense of dread building up in his stomach, but he couldn't let that form itself into panic. If Alden truly had powers that were beginning to emerge, then him running into the open world would be terribly dangerous for him and for others. He knew nothing of this world or how it worked. He had been remarkably isolated. While Lieut had initially been against Collin falling for a woman and bringing her family into their home, he had to admit it may have been the best thing to happen for the boy when he was small. To witness love. To build friendship. To understand the concept of a family.
This would be the worst time for him to be discovered. He wasn't prepared. He knew how to survive, but he didn't know how to interact.
They had to find them.
A door creaked down the hall from his office and he peeked to see what it was.
Delia pulled Alden out of the hall closet by the hand. Two longtime fears flickered to life in Lieut's mind: youthful lust, and the boy's discovery of their underground facilities before the planned reveal.
Lieut stood from his desk, picked up his phone to dial Collin, and eyed the mischievous pair.
"Where have the two of you been and what have you been up to?" Collin asked upon his arrival.
Delia had not let go of Alden's hand. She was still trembling, but her voice was strong when she said, "We should ask the same of the two of you, dad. Lu."
Collin furrowed his brow in slight confusion.
"You found the hideout," Lieut concluded aloud.
"What have you both been keeping from me?" Alden asked.
He was shaking, too. From anger. From fear. Delia squeezed his hand.
Collin plopped down in a deep chair.
"This is going to be a long night," he said, then eyed the boy. "First, you need to let go of my daughter. "My hand slipped. Sure. Delia, go and see your mother. You're grounded."
"No," she bit back. "Not until I know what you pulled us into."
He looked hurt. Part of him had always felt guilty for falling in love with a woman who had a child, neither of them deserving to have to live a life like he'd given them. They were happy, but they gave up the world for him.
She kept a firm hold on Alden's hand. It was like she was keeping him from fading, disappearing like a real ghost would. He felt like crying.
"Alden," Lieut spoke up and gestured for the sofa.
Alden and Delia both sat down on the sofa and the Lieutenant continued to stand.
"Collin and I used to be soldiers," he began. "We were charged with discovering, infiltrating, and tearing down facilities that had been experimenting on humans."
"You make it sound as if I was on the front lines with you," Collin interrupted. "I just patched up the men when they came back."
"Type of involvement doesn't matter anymore. Involvement is involvement. There are no qualifiers or degrees of taking part in travesty. Your conscience knows this as well as mine," the Lieutenant was working incredibly hard to maintain his calm.
He turned back to Alden, "They started to want us to bring back research, samples, anything at any cost. It seemed curiosity got the best of our employer, or maybe this had been his intention all along. My last mission went terribly awry. One of the men under my command demolished a village, searching for live specimen. That's where I found you, Alden. A tiny child, buried under the rubble. Breathing. I couldn't leave you there to die, but I couldn't turn you over either. That's why we both got out. And we hid you here."
He poured whiskey into a glass, then took a sip.
"I had always hoped that you would just be an ordinary boy who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Walking through a quiet village with your mother, unaware of the atrocities that were being committed in the unmarked buildings nearby. But, I planned for if you weren't. We planned to be able to help you if there was any evidence beyond your intelligence to tell us you had been a part of those experiments. And, here it shows its face right as you breach adulthood and we start to feel complacent."
Alden stood. He wrestled his hand from Delia's grip and went outside. He took in a deep breath. The air was heavy with moisture. Clouds covered any stars that were trying to make an appearance.
Steven limped towards him. He was an old dog, now. Alden sat on the ground beside him and patted his head.
He was a ghost. A monster. Any moment, the moon would show itself from beneath those clouds and reveal him as a werewolf. Or, maybe it was more fitting to call him a creation of Frankenstein.