The Unblinking Eye is the fifty-fifth chapter of Zak Saturday's Immortal Love Life. It was first published on February 24, 2016.
Hiding in the Sahara, the biggest desert on the planet, sucks. It was too hot, too deserted, and so boring.
“How much longer is the solar panel recharge gonna talk?” I asked my parents.
“It’s not just the airship that needs a recharge, Zak,” Dad said. “Your mother and I thought we could all use a little peace and quiet.”
“Yeah, but isn’t that just running and hiding with a different name? When’s the last time we actually helped a cryptid?”
“Not much chance of that happening here, kiddo,” Mom said. “I’m pretty sure we’re the only living thing in about a 500-mile radius.”
“In coming,” Sarah said.
About fifty feet away, four big balls with robotic arms fell from the sky. They approached us.
We got our weapons ready. When they reached us, the top of each one opened up and we couldn’t believe who we saw.
“Agent Epsilon?” Dad asked.
“Francis,” I said.
They exited out of their machines.
“My people have a proposition for Kur,” Epsilon said. “We are in the right place to negotiate with Kur, are we not?”
“What do you think you know, Epsilon?” Mom said.
“Enough. Quite a show your son put on for the cameras in Manhattan. Did you think my people wouldn’t figure it all out? Our files are very thorough.”
Dad had his power glove ready. “If you came here for a fight . . .”
“Quite the opposite, Doctor Saturday,” Epsilon insisted. “My people want to recruit Zak. We can relocate your entire family. Isolate and protect you all from threats.”
“Isolate and protect, huh?” Mom said, not sounding convinced. “Tell me how that sounds different from a prison.”
“Oh, my people don’t see Zak as an enemy. The boy simply doesn’t know how to control his own emotions. The world already thinks he’s some kind of monster.”
Fiskerton, Komodo, and Sarah stood between me and him, guarding me because they didn’t believe he meant what he was saying.
“Perhaps if you put a little more into his personal grooming,” Francis said. “They would—ow!”
I hit him by slingshoting the claw at him.
“Thank you for shutting him up,” Sarah said.
But my parents weren’t happy that I did that. At least, they didn’t show it.
“What?” I said innocently. “I’ve got these clumsy monster hands. They’re hard to control sometimes.”
“Zak needs structure,” Epsilon said. “A predictable existence. That’s what we excel at. Francis here can teach him to control himself as well as his powers.”
“Francis?” I asked in disbelief. “You think Francis is gonna teach me something?”
“My people decided that you would respond better to someone your own age.”
“And you don’t think I can help him?” Sarah asked.
Sarah marched right up to him, but Mom held her back, because I sure wasn’t going to.
“We don’t even like each other,” I said.
“It’s true,” Francis agreed.
“Francis is a professional,” Epsilon said. “He’s smarter, more experienced, more level-headed than you. Liking one another doesn’t factor in.”
“It does to the extent that they could possibly kill each other,” Sarah said.
“Smarter than me?” I asked. “He couldn’t even beat jellyfish.”
“I’m with my son on this one, Epsilon,” Dad said. “Thanks for the offer, but your people haven’t given us much reason to trust them.”
“I respect that, Doctor Saturday,” he said.
He and Francis climbed back into their robots.
“But I can’t accept it.”
He extended his robotic arm toward me, grabbed me, and pulled me into the air toward him.
“Zak!” my parents and Sarah called.
Sarah had managed to grab onto me before they pulled me away. He tried to use one of his other arms to pull her off, but she wouldn’t budge.
“You’re not taking him from me,” she said.
Epsilon threw me at Francis and he caught me, but Sarah had slipped off.
“I just sterilized these arms,” Francis said. “Now the stink of ignorance is never going to wash off.”
“Here,” I said, grabbing the claw. “Let me get that spot for you.”
I hit the glass with it, but it bounced off.
“Maybe I’ll just get rid of the problem,” Francis said.
He dropped me toward the ground, but the other robot guys grabbed me before I could hit it, which I would’ve preferred.
A purple light spread through all of us, effected the robots, and it dropped me.
Fisk caught me.
“Ok,” Sarah said. “Don’t know how that happened again.”
I looked at her and noticed the diamond on her necklace was glowing.
“Everyone get clear,” Dad said.
He shot rockets from the airship to Epsilon and Francis and we ran to the airship. When we got inside, we took off.
“I think we can put Epsilon’s people on our Groups to Avoid list,” Mom said.
“And take the Sahara off our Peace and Quiet list,” Dad added.
“This is what I’m talking about,” I said. “We can’t just run forever. Can’t we go find some cryptids to help out?”
“Zak, we all want to be doing our jobs,” Mom said. “But with everything that’s going on, I just—”
“It’s not about a job, Mom. I need to do some good. I need this, ok?”
My parents looked at each other and they both seemed to agree.
“Let me pull up the latest reported cryptid incidents,” Dad said.
“Yes,” I said.
I high-fived Fisk.
The latest cryptid incidents was in Istanbul, Turkey, so that’s where we went.
“Alright, here’s what we’ve got,” Mom said. “The Turkish government started work on a gas thermal power plant, but the project had to be stopped when an uninvited guest showed up.”
“A cryptid?” I guessed.
“The Lake Van Monster,” Dad said.
Fisk seemed uneasy about the ‘monster’ part.
“I’m sure it’s just a name, Fisk.”
“Dark rooms, deep drilled holes, lots of super heated water,” Mom said. “It’s no mystery what attracted the mon—”
Fiskerton stopped her.
“The, uh, creature to a geothermal plant.”
“How to get a twenty-ton cryptid back to a less populated area,” Dad said. “That, I’ll classify, is a mystery.”
We went inside the power plant.
Dad turned on the lights.
“The well sites our best bet,” Mom said. “This way.”
She led us down one direction until we heard something.
“Think it knows we’re here?” I asked.
The noise seemed to come from behind a double metal door in front of us. We walked up to it.
“Uh-oh,” Sarah said.
“What?” I asked.
Mom and Dad busted the door open. But we didn’t see the cryptid.
“I see where your son gets his lack of self-control,” Epsilon laughed.
He and the others launched their robotic arms at us, knocking Mom and Dad aside and grabbing us and taking us away. The others went one way while the one that had me went another way. And, unfortunately, that one was Francis. He was knocking me around.
“Oh, so sorry,” he told me sarcastically. “But I’ve got these clumsy mechanical hands. They’re hard to control sometimes.”
“Why are you going along with this?” I asked. “You don’t even want to train me.”
“It isn’t my choice. My father and our people have decided, and they know what’s best for both of us.”
“What are you, Dad’s little pet?”
“Better than Mommy’s little monster.”
I managed to grab the claw and slingshot it up. It wrapped around a pipe and pulled myself free. I landed on the ground and hid under a staircase.
“Trying to hide, Zak?” Francis said. “No matter where you are, I can find you.”
He moved around me, but didn’t notice me.
“I lost it,” he said, like he was talking to someone else other than me. “What’s going on up there?”
“Sorry for the delay,” a man’s voice responded on a receiver. “Snake Charm 1 lost it for a moment, but we’re back online. Kur should be . . . directly under you.”
He slammed down his robotic arm and it missed me by an inch.
I ran into another room, and there was water in it. And I happened to run into the cryptid we were looking for.
“So, I guess this is the well site,” I said.
The cryptid jumped near me and I moved out of the way.
Then I activated my powers. “Hey, look, I get it. I don’t like people chasing me either, but I’m here to help, ok?”
“Zak!” I heard Dad calling.
He and the rest of our family, plus Sarah, ran up to us.
“It’s ok, Dad,” I said. “I’ve already made a connection.”
“It’s not the monster that’s the problem.”
Just as he said that, Francis and a few of his people appeared, still in their robots.
They approached us, but the Van Monster knocked them away with his tail.
“I like him,” Sarah said.
We hid behind the pipes because she kept throwing them around. She was good.
“The fire escape hatch,” Dad said. “Go!”
We headed for it. When we got to the top, Fisk put the hatch on so they couldn’t follow us.
“There’s no way this was just another lucky guess,” Mom said. “They knew where to find us.”
“Snake Charm 1,” I said, remembering it. “They were talking about it on Francis’s radio. It sounded like it was some kind of satellite, like they figured out a way to track me.”
“They probably did,” Sarah said.
“Well, if that’s the case,” Dad said, then punched open one of the robots that the cryptid had thrown up here, and pulled out something. “Satellite receiver. Somehow, they are tracking you.”
“No running from this one,” Mom said. “As long as that satellite’s active, they’ll be able to find us anywhere on the planet.”
“Are we going to outer space?” I asked hopefully.
Fisk seemed just as hopeful.
“Don’t get excited, boys,” Mom said. “Neither the airship nor the griffin is capable of space flight.”
“Maybe not, but you guys are good at that kind of stuff,” Sarah said. “Can’t you upgrade those enough so that you can fly them in outer space?”
“Actually, there might be a way,” Dad said. “But it’ll take both your mother and me to pull it off.”
“Wait. Just the two of us?” Mom asked. “And what are the boys doing in the mean time, hanging out, playing a little Parcheesi in a kabob shop?”
Fiskerton seemed to like that idea.
“Sarcasm,” I told him.
He looked disappointed.
“If they know we’re coming, I don’t think we’ll have a chance,” Dad said.
“So we keep the eye in the sky focused on us while you guys try to take it out?” I asked.
“Something like that.”
“We can do that.”
“Play it safe,” Mom said. “You wanna keep as much distance as possible between you and Epsilon.”
“I have a way to do that,” Sarah said.
“What?” I asked.
“Well, you choose between two choices: one, I can summon us some mini-motor bikes that we can ride, or two, something . . . special.”
“What’s the special thing?”
“Choose it and find out. But you can’t change your mind if you don’t like it.”
I thought about it for a moment. I would like to ride a motor bike, but I’m curious to find out what the special thing was.
I looked at Fisk. He considered it himself, and held up two fingers.
I looked back at Sarah. “Is the special fast?”
She nodded. “Faster than a motor bike.”
I thought about it again. “Ok. Then we’ll choose the special.”
She smiled. “I’m glad you chose that one. Now, try not to freak out.”
I was confused by why I would freak out. But she took a few steps back, then activated her powers. She transformed into a six-foot-tall black and white canine.
“A wolf?” I asked.
A werewolf, she corrected, talking to us telepathically.
“I thought werewolves stood on two legs, not four.”
This is a different kind of werewolf.
“Apparently. And that’s faster than a motor bike?”
Yes. It’s even faster than a cheetah. Believe me, I know. Well, a cheetah that doesn’t have super speed.
“But I thought cheetahs were the fastest land animal on earth.”
They are. But if werewolves weren’t myths, they would be faster. Now can we go already?
“Wait. We’re riding on your back?”
Got a problem with that?
I shook my head. “No.”
Fisk, Komodo, and I climbed onto her.
“Just pick a straight line, and don’t stop running until we get back,” Mom said.
“Absolutely,” I said. “All except the part you missed where we go back and help the Lake Van cryptid.”
“I told you, Mom, I need this. I’m not leaving until it’s done.”
Yeah, Sarah agreed. Plus, it helped protect him.
“Zak, I’m . . .”
“We’ll be fine, Mom,” I assured her. “Go.”
They did and so did we.
Hold on tight, if you can, Sarah said.
I grabbed onto her fur, which was weird to think since she was my girlfriend after all, but her fur was soft.
Francis, Epsilon, and their people looked a little frightened when they saw her.
“Hey, Francis,” I called. “I’d challenge you to a race, but I’m guessing Daddy doesn’t let you play outdoors.”
Nice, Sarah said.
“Thank you,” I replied.
She ran toward them really fast, jumped on a couple of them, and ran off.
They, of course, followed.
It was so cool to ride on Sarah as a werewolf. I couldn’t think of anything better. She maneuvered around cars with elegant grace, and I’m pretty sure the people were frightened to see her as well. She ran inside a parking garage, all the way up to the roof, which turned out to be a mistake.
“They’ve got us blocked,” I said.
Sarah growled at them, which sounded really scary.
I looked around.
“Hey, Sarah,” I said. “Do you think you can jump down onto a train track below us?”
She snorted. In my sleep.
“Then let’s do it.”
We held on and she jumped, landing without a stumble. They tried to follow, but the train stopped them. For now.
“Let’s go help the Lake Van creature now,” I said.
Ok, Sarah said.
Fiskerton disagreed though.
“It’s what we came here to do,” I told him. “I told you, I need this.”
He made a hand gesture.
“They called you a monster too, remember? That’s what people do when they’re scared of something they don’t understand. Well, maybe just because something’s powerful, doesn’t mean it’s evil. Not all monsters are dangerous, ok?”
You’re right, Sarah agreed.
“Let’s just go, ok?”
Off we went.
We headed back to the well site room. Sarah decided to stay in werewolf form just in case.
Fiskerton and Komodo were unsure.
“Guys, it’s fine,” I said, approaching the water. “She’s only a monster by name.”
She came out of the water and growled. I grabbed the claw and activated my powers.
“That’s it, girl,” I said. “We’re gonna get you somewhere safe.”
“How did I know I’d find you here?” Francis said, appearing behind us.
“Gee, good question,” I said sarcastically. “Maybe because you’ve got a satellite tracking my every move.”
He exited out of his robot. “Actually, we don’t. Someone destroyed it seventeen minutes ago.”
I smiled at the triumph of my parents. “Weird. I wonder who could’ve done that?”
“Yes, yes, yes, very amusing,” Francis said. “But I didn’t need a satellite to track you. It’s just like the files say, you have no self-control.”
Sarah growled and took a step toward him.
I held her back. “Easy, Sarah.” I turned back to Francis. “You think I’m the one with control issues? Have you ever done anything that wasn’t on Daddy’s orders? You’re not his kid, you’re his yes man.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said defensively. “The pressure, the training, the drills? You just sit comfortably while Mommy makes you breakfast and Daddy helps you pick which uniform shirt you’re going to wear today.”
“Ok. A: I made my own breakfast this morning. That’s right, waffles. And B: my parents let me make up my own mind.”
“They also let you make mistakes, like coming back here when it was so achingly predictable.”
The cryptid was getting angry at him, and so was Sarah. I used my powers to hold the cryptid back, and myself to hold back Sarah.
“It’s ok,” I said. “Just give me a second.”
“Look at you,” Francis said. “You carelessly walk around with powers that can go nuclear at any moment. You’re just a monster-loving-time-bomb waiting to explode.”
“Better than being a daddy’s boy robot. ‘Yes, Father. No, Father. Right away, Father. Whatever you say, Father.’”
“He isn’t my father!”
That left us speechless.
“Did you . . .” I tried, but faltered.
Francis sighed. “Epsilon and I are the latest in the line of cereal clones. Our people found their perfect agent one-hundred years ago and they’ve been repeating him ever since. One day, I’ll get to be the Epsilon and I’ll have a Francis of my own and then I can teach him to live up to a hundred years worth of high expectations.”
“Francis,” I said sympathetically.
“I don’t want your pity,” he said. “Like Epsilon said, personal feelings don’t factor into it. This is who I was made to be.”
Sarah changed back to her normal self.
“That doesn’t mean you have to be that way,” she said, a tear tracing down her face.
“Francis, I’m in route to your location with containment team B,” Epsilon said from the radio in Francis’s robot. “Hold the prisoner until we arrive. Do you copy?”
He sighed and walked back to it.
“Do you really want to spend the next ten years with me in some hidden training camp?” I asked him.
“I’d rather eat my own foot,” he replied.
“Well, that sounds like personal feelings to me. Look, they can tell us what they think we are: monster, clone, whatever. But they can’t tell us what we have to be.”
The cryptid bumped me with her nose. I patted her.
“Huh. It seems to like you,” Francis said.
“Ah, she doesn’t care about labels,” I said. “She just knows I’m trying to help get her some place safe.”
“You should probably get going then.”
That surprised me.
“I guess it’s a good thing we hate each other so much, huh?” he said.
“I hope I never see you again too, Francis,” I said, and held out my hand to him.
He shook it.
Sarah gave him a kiss on the cheek and we left with the cryptid.
“I can tell you were jealous about that kiss I gave him,” Sarah said.
“Nah. I knew it was sympathetic,” I replied. “It was, right?”
She smiled. “Of course it was.”
She gave me a kiss on the lips.
We reunited with my parents and relocated the cryptid to a small human population lake.
“Go on,” I told her. “No one’s gonna bother you.”
She swam away.
“Good day for the monsters?” Mom asked me.
“No,” I said. “Great day for the monsters.”
This was a little cute chapter. And when I first heard Francis say that in the episode, I was so shocked. Wait until the end of the next chapter. It's going to be interesting.
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