A new life
In 2054, three years old Ben was looking through the window of the observation deck of the twain's gondola that brought them to New Springfield on Earth West 1,217,756. He was riding with George and Agnes Abrahams, his adoptive parents, Sally Linsay, a friend of his parents and Shi-mi, the family cat.
Ben jumped up and down excitedly as he saw the town residents heading for the twain to welcome them. As soon as the gondola touched the ground, Ben ran for the undergrowth to look at a termite mound as his father welcomed the neighbors with coffee and his mother was discussing with Sally.
When Ben was done with the termites, he went back to Agnes who led him to their new neighbors.
The years passed by on New Springfield, the Abrahamses became friends with their neighbors and little Ben found a friend in Lydia Irwin one of the local kids, with whom he hung out often at the old Poulson place. In 2057, three years after his arrival, he went to see his mother, who was building something in the yard with Shi-mi, to show her his basket full of grapes.
But Agnes's attention seemed more attracted to the silver bracelet Ben was wearing on his right arm. When she asked to see it, Ben first hid is arm behind his back but gave up in front of her authority.
Agnes took the trinket and examined it. She talked to herself the whole time and even hold it so the cat could lick it. After a while, Ben asked who she was talking to but she replied that she was talking to herself. She then asked him if he got it at the cellar behind the old Poulson place and wanted to know who gave it to him.
Ben lied, saying that it was swap stuff but his mother didn't buy it and pressed him to tell the truth. He answered that it was beetle man who gave it to him and that Nikos said there were not doing anything wrong. Surprised, she asked what beetle man looked like but Ben couldn't give her a proper description, only saying that he looked funny.
Agnes didn't try to get more out of him and told him to go wash his face. The next day, Agnes left Ben with Lydia and Marina, Lydia's mother, while she went to inspect the cellar with Nikos and George where they discovered the existence of the silver beetles.
After his father came back from his inspection of the cellar, he asked to see Joshua Valienté, or Uncle Joshua as Ben called him, to investigate the extent of the beetles's actions. He came aboard a twain named the Shillelagh and stayed for over a week, getting ready to tour the world with Ben's father. Despite all the packing and the preparation their trip required, Joshua still made time for Ben and even the cat.
After Ben's father came back from his tour, he called the Navy so they could investigate properly what was happening to their world. The whole community was gathered next to the Irwins's main residence, everyone was grumpy and tired because of the shortening of the day. Ben, sitting next to his parents, didn't pay much attention to what was said during the meeting and was trying to work a wooden yoyo.
To Ben's surprise, as the militaries and the locals didn't seem to reach an agreement on what to do or what the beetles were doing, George stood up, saying he knew what they were building. Al Todd pointed at him saying that the trouble started the day the Abrahamses arrived and suggested they got a ride out of New Springfield on the Navy twain.
Ben, worried, asked his mother if Mr Todd meant what he said but she reassured him, saying that he was just upset and didn't mean any of it.
In the end, in 2059, it was decided the only way to prevent the silver beetles to spread across the Long Earth was to seal off Earth West 1,217,756 from the inside. Ben was left alone aboard the USS Brian Cowley, crying his heart out, as her mother was saying her goodbyes to his father, who would stay behind to supervise the operation.