The Sacred Secret
Chapter 1 - Dirty Harry Comes Clean
It was Sunday night in Australia all along the eastern coast. In the southern
state of Victoria, almost at the very bottom of what American's sometimes term
'Down Under,' and the English, almost a hundred and seventy years before,
considered a suitable place for a village, Melbourne City sprawls at the head of
Port Phillip Bay. Once an outlying suburb of Melbourne, Camberwell is now well
regarded as an important part of the inner hub of residential and commercial
Riversdale Road is a thoroughfare leading away to the east, and along this
road can be found many beautiful streets and boulevards. One such is Silverglade;
a deceptively long road, and away down its length lies the address
Two-twenty-two A. The house that stands there is a two-story structure built in
1916 alongside a second block, Two-twenty-two B, now empty and
somewhat overgrown, yet still bearing signs of the tennis court that once, long
ago, saw many a lively match (and not only of tennis) between laughing women and
men, and the outdoor picnics and cocktail parties of a time, between the first
great war and the second world war, that has long vanished and become forgotten.
Outside, on the street, the one single striking feature of the property is
the vast tree that stands at the border of both blocks. It is a wonderful tree,
even observed after nightfall; its huge canopy seems to overwhelm even the
house, dominating the darkness with a deeper, tangible conglomeration of winding
branches and crowding foliage that block out the background of the stars.
Except for... well, except for the faintest glimmer that blinks very
occasionally...emanating from somewhere, somewhere...oh...somewhere deep within
the leaves where only inquisitive hands might push them away to
But of course, in this second story, there are other things to be noted, like
the faint glow of a desklamp that is shining from a window in the second story.
'Harry ?' Priscilla repeated the name, almost as if she needed to be sure
that she was indeed awake and aware, and not in some kind of fantastic dream
that would at any moment dissolve into the blur of other sleeping fantasies.
'Ruff!' replied the dog again. 'I said it might be. We don't have much time
now Miss Black. Best you get yourself downstairs and take care of Miss Bateleur.
I'll run along too and bark a lot. You know, the usual dog stuff. Maybe later
tonight when you're both in bed and I'm curled up in my basket here we can all
have a quiet chat together.'
Priscilla felt like slapping her own face. This was a dog, a very black,
little dog that had been given to her by concerned neighbours who had seen it
wandering around the area over several weeks without a home. Now, it was talking
'Well, I know that is a loose term for general consternation Miss Black, but
it does have other less suitable meanings,' said Harry, scratching at his neck
with a lazy hind paw.
'I didn't mean to swear, I'm just gob-smacked,' Priscilla managed to spit
out, 'I don't usually have conversations with dogs who have aliens inside them
and, why are you scratching? You had a bath just a few days a...'
'It's a dog thing, got to keep in practice. Look! I can even get around and
lick my...' Harry suddenly whined and, pricking up his ears, turned his head
toward the open doorway.
Faintly, a floorboard creaked, and moments later Rachael appeared. 'Oh there
you are dear and you've got your new little doggy...what's it called? Harry? And
he's here alone with you and you're just sitting at your desk writing away and
missing all the fun downstairs and all the news about Monique's parents and you
shouldn't just be on your own like this especially when we're having a family
thing together and your Dad and Granny and I want us all to celebrate because
this will be the last night that we can for a while now what with Dad going off
to Tasmania and my work beginning and all you young people off to school. Phew!'
Rachael finally ran out of breath.
'I know Mum, I was just bringing my diary up to date. Harry and me'll come
down right now, but Mum...' Priscilla left the sentence hanging in mid-air as
she closed the cover of her book.
'Yes Dear?' said Rachael, bending to give Harry a quick chuck under his chin.
'About praying. Do you really think it helps?'
Rachael seemed ready to give her usual frivolous answer when cornered on
subjects she was wary of, then, perhaps because they were alone, she took on an
uncharacteristic tone, saying, 'Sometimes it's the only thing left that does
help. You don't always get the result that you're praying for, but prayer isn't
just there to help fix a problem... It's there for you. It can get you through
times when you think you can't get by alone, and you're never alone when you
pray. You have something to hang on to that will give you a lift and refresh you
to get up and go on even when you think the worst. I know I really thought
Monique would never see her parents again, and that we would all need the
strength to face that fact, so I was praying...' Rachael halted abruptly, as if
she had suddenly caught herself opening up too much instead of playing the role
of the actress. 'Anyway dear, it all came right in the end, and lots of people
all over the world pray all the time, so there must be something to it...'
She continued to prattle on to Priscilla, holding her hand all the way
downstairs, with Harry trotting behind, his head cocked to one side, red tongue
lolling out of his mouth; something akin to a grin on his sharp, black face.
Dinner was a rowdy affair with much laughter, music, lots of food and even a
glass of sparkling wine, which only ever happened on very special occasions.
'Have you ever had wine before?' asked Priscilla of Monique, as they both
sipped away in what they considered a genteel manner.
'My Father is a Frenchman, yes?'
'Oiu,' said Priscilla, setting her glass down on the linen tablecloth and
rubbing her nose. She was sure that she had read or heard something somewhere
about bubbles and noses and the connection between the two.
'And what do Frenchmen like to do?' said Monique, flashing a grin.
'Well, from what I know,' whispered Priscilla confidentially, giggling behind
her hand, 'chasing ladies seems to be their main aim. You know,' she began to
sing in a low voice, 'Thank heavens for little girls, for little girls...'
'...Get bigger every day!' Henry, overhearing, joined in, bawling out,
heavens for leetle girls, they grow up in the most delightful wayyy!'
In a moment of merriment, the others at the table joined in (even Louis, who
looked almost embarrassed) singing, 'Those little eyes so helpless and
appealing, one day will flash and send you crashing through the ceiling. Thank
Harry began to howl along and everybody dissolved into laughter.
'Anymore dessert anyone?' asked Granny Black of the others.
'I might just be able...' said Monique, but Priscilla nudged her leg under
the table. 'Er...that is...perhaps I have had enough Missus...oh Granny. No,
'Sure? Oh well, what about you Mathew? Another dollop? Umm, thought as much,
'What are you shoving me for Cilla?' asked Monique in a hushed aside.
'It's bedtime, we have to get up early for first day at school,' muttered
Priscilla, 'Besides the dog wants to talk to us.'
Monique's usual grin seemed to slide from her face. 'The dog? Harry?' she
whispered, while Henry was busy entertaining the adults with a display of
Gizzard's relatives on the computer.
'We have to go to bed now! You know, beddybyes times, nye-nyes, sleep time
for everyone! Harry and us have to do some fast talking!'
Monique seemed to act out the old-no hasty movements, no direct eye-contact,
backaway slowly-routine while still in her seat. 'Some wine!' she managed at
'This is serious!' hissed Priscilla. 'Take my lead,' she added under her
breath, as she stretched and made a fuss of yawning.
'Well you certainly took your time!' exclaimed Priscilla, who was in her
pyjamas, sitting up in bed, the glow of her desklamp illuminating the sceptical,
if somewhat sleepy, expression on Monique's face, where she too lay propped on
one arm against the pillows.
Harry pattered through the doorway, turned around to look back down the hall
toward Henry and Granny Black's rooms and seemingly satisfied, trotted in,
halting briefly to scratch, before neatly hopping into his cosy knitting-basket
bed and curling up.
'He certainly does not seem very talkative to me,' offered Monique, with a
knowing little swing of her head, as she began to re-arrange her pillows.
Priscilla sighed heavily, and it was one of those, I suppose you think you're
smart. Now Monique reckons I'm heading for ga-ga-land, and you're just going to
lie there doggo, you little mutt...
'What was that?' said Monique startled, interrupting her pillow plumping and
looking across at Priscilla.
'Don't "Psst me!" returned Priscilla, peevishly, staring at Harry
who still lay curled up in his basket.
came the firm, but muffled, reply.
Monique had the queer sensation that this strange voice was coming from
someone speaking with clenched teeth through a thick blanket. Tilting her head
like an inquisitive puppy, she managed, 'Oh come on now, you cannot be
'Yeah, right! As if we're both going to drift off when we've got a talking
dog...or whatever...hiding under a woolly rug at the end of our beds,' hissed
Priscilla, exasperatedly, as she turned off the bedlamp with a snap.
It seemed like several hours later, but was in fact only forty-five minutes,
before the rumblings of Amelia's sonorous snoozing rolled down the hall, filling
the open area beyond the girl's bedroom with the sound of distant ocean-combers.
Something small landed with a soft plomp on the end of Monique's bed and
began to progress up the coverlet alongside her legs. She flicked on her torch
to find Harry perched there staring at her, his red tongue peeping out from
between his teeth. 'Do stay calm Miss Bateleur. I think it best if we all gather
around so as not to make a lot of noise.'
Priscilla switched on her flashlight too, and masking it with her fingers,
scrambled out of bed and squeezed in beside Monique, so that Harry nestled in
the hollow between them.
'Well?' she said, impatiently, motioning to Monique to turn off her light,
and allowing only the faintest gleam to escape from her own, where it played
across the black furry face, 'C'mon, give!'
'This is no time to play ball Miss Black, besides, I haven't got it. However
I suppose you both have a few questions that you would like to ask me?'
'Aw, just a couple...of dozen,' said Priscilla, 'like who are you and how
come you can talk and O.K. you're not really a dog and is that you in the old
photos and what's Roswell got to do with anything and how come you're talking to
us in particular and what's that thing in the tree outside that can zap people
to Africa in a nanosecond and...'
'And you Miss Bateleur?' interrupted Harry. 'What is the matter? Cat got your
Monique gulped, still trying to cope with the situation. 'I...er...would like
to know where you come from...that is...er... if you please, Monsieur Harry.'
'You don't have to be so formal, Miss Bateleur, just my name will do,' said
'Very well,' (Priscilla always squirmed with pleasure when Monique pronounced
words like 'very' in her French accent) but of course you must call Priscilla
and me by our first names too. Er...what is your name?'
'Harry,' said Harry.
'That isn't your real name, I called you that,' said Priscilla.
'And I like it, besides if my name was Mixiedyplixitumblurperqueri...'
'Go on! It isn't?'
'No, but for a dog I sure got my teeth around that one no sweat. Anyway,
what's in a name? I think Shakespeare once wrote that...'
'Probably, O.K. it might be better if we don't know your real name and just
use Harry. Could get confusing otherwise,' agreed Priscilla.
'So where do you come from?' asked Monique, now accepting that she was
actually having a conversation with this furry little creature.
'That knitting basket over there, no, just kidding, you girls ever heard of
Priscilla raised her eyebrows, 'Like in that old film with Michael Keaton?'
'No, like in the star system Canis Major, the people of Earth don't name it
the Larger Dog system for nothing you know.'
'Is that where you really come from?' asked Monique, the whites of her eyes
showing and her mouth hanging open.
'Nope, but sort of out that way; Canis Minor, the Little Dog system is up
there too, but I used to hang out in the Gemini cluster. I come from...Wasat!'
'What's what?' whispered Priscilla in alarm, almost dropping the torch in her
haste to cover it.
'I did not hear anything,' hissed Monique, through fingers that were now
firmly wrapped over her mouth to stop it flopping open.
'You're not supposed to! He's the dog...or whatever...he's supposed to hear
better than we can!'
'Ladies, ladies, please! There is nothing to be alarmed about' said Harry,
lifting a paw for silence. 'I said Wasat...'
'Yeah, and we said...'
Harry gave what seemed to be a good rendition of a sigh, 'From the earth,
Wasat is a third magnitude white star with an eighth magnitude orange dwarf
companion. In that system lies a number of small orbiting planets...'
'One of them is where you come from?' said Priscilla.
'Next question,' said Harry, moving on.
Both the girls thought for a moment before Monique ventured, 'What were
those...those dummy bodies, left in our beds when we were out of them?'
Harry wagged his tail. 'I like to do this,' he said, turning briefly to watch
it moving, 'never fails to fascinate me...oh...where were we? Yes! They're
Blanks. Well Blanks to you, but to those who are meant to see them, they become
'Harry? What does that mean exactly?' asked Monique, allowing her mouth to
move between her fingers.
'It means that Blanks can be used in ways that suit the situation,
like...alright...like when you girls were away from here. If any of the family
had looked in, they would have seen images, Doubles of you asleep in your beds.'
'What about Roswell?' said Priscilla, her curiosity now probing deeper. 'I'm
talking about Roswell, back in the olden times.'
'There are two Roswells,' said Harry, ' the other one is also in North
America, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. But I suppose you want to know about
the New Mexico one, and what happened there in July, 1947.'
'You bet your little wagging tail we do,' said Priscilla, leaning forward
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