#4 - The Watcher

Max is dying. No one wants to believe it, but he knows it's true. And as the end grows closer, he can only think of one thing: Who will protect Liz if he's not there?

Liz can't stand watching Max suffer. She's determined to find some way--any way--to save him. But the only way to help Max is to risk her own life. Is she willing to die for the one she loves?


Max is very sick with the akino, a rite of passage that his alien race must pass through at adolecense. If he doesn't connect to the collective consciousness, his body will die. The only way to save him is to find the communication crystals from their lost alien ship and have Max connect to the collective consciousness. With Ray Iburg's help, the teens learn that the crystals--and the ship--is in Clean Slate's underground compound.

Risking their lives, the teens disguise themselves as a guard from the Clean Slate compound to find out its secret location. Once they learn its location, Michael, Isabel, and Ray break into the Clean Slate compound to steal the crystals and save Max--but at a high cost: Ray is killed and Michael is captured.

Key Developments

  • The akino is introduced. This is a process that all of the aliens must go through at adolescence. It is extremely painful; the body withers to the point of death. Through the help of special crystals, a person going through an akino can make a connection to the collective consciousness, which stops the akino.

  • The collective consciousness is introduced. This is a community of aliens--both dead and alive--that exist in communion with one another. All the beings connected to the consciousness have the ability to physically connect to one another and share experiences and thoughts.

  • The teens discover the headquarters of the Project Clean Slate compound. After breaking in, they find the ship that crashed in 1947.

  • Ray Iburg is killed by guards while trying to escape from the underground compound of Project Clean Slate.

  • Michael is captured by Clean Slate.

  • Powers Introduced

    No new powers are introduced.


  • Alex and Isabel continue to date, but their relationship is strained. Alex can tell that Isabel's mind is somewhere else. Isabel, confused about her feelings, thinks she might have a romantic interest in Michael.

  • Liz and Max finally agree that it's better to be together and share what time they have, rather than remain apart out of fear. They have little time to enjoy themselves, however, as Max quickly becomes sick with the akino.

  • Maria gathers the courage to tell Michael that she loves him. Caught off guard, Michael doesn't know how to respond and says nothing. He is captured by Clean Slate before he can explain.

  • Quotes


    Fertilizer, that's what he would become. Something to help the flowers grow. Worm food.
    Can you say morbid? Max asked himself.
    Treating the akino like a science project helped make it feel like someting outside himself. Something clinical. Impersonal. He even called himself patient X in his notes. Patient X experienced blindness. Patient X experienced a sensation he described as a drumstick stabbing into his brain. Patient X's thoughts seem to be of the morbid variety. Patient X's skin was reported to bubble after being exposed to flame.
    That's what Liz had said. That his skin had bubbled. Patient X, Max corrected himself. A witness reported that Patient X's skin had bubbled.
    Max picked up the lighter again. It would be better to have a firsthand acount for the file. Firsthand. Ha! A pun. Patient X still had a sense of humor.
    Because Max or patient X or whoever didn't care that he was bubble boy. He didn't care that he and his mom were talking through a wall of plastic. He was having trouble caring about anything.
    Strangely, though, he did sort of care about the parent information files in his head. He would like somebody to remember that his mother could recite the whole turnip speech from Gone With the Wind. That seemed important.
    Strange how much information you stored up about your parents without noticing. Useless stuff. Dad says cardboard tastes better than pizza, eats by taking one bite from each thing on his plate in sequence so he ends up with exactly one bite of everything at the end, uses three heaping tablespoons of sugar in his cofee and prefers that no one commmet on it. And that was just a fragment of the information he'd collected in the dad file under food.
    Max had hundred of those mental files. Like the Mom's childhood file. Mom used to have an imagninary best friend named Solly, a real best friend named Annabelle, and a doll like the one Buffy had on Family Affair. Mrs. Beasely, that was the doll's name.
    And it felt important that he knew these fun facts about his parents. Or at least that somebody knew it. And that somebody would go on knowing it after they were...gone.

    Please email me at bobthejeep@yahoo.com to add your favorite quotes.