This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
At certain times in our lives a rare wind blows across the fields of our minds that, like others before it, stirs leaves and rustles grasses. Only this breeze disturbs dust covering dormant memories thought buried beneath the weight of time’s passage. Stricken chords begin vibrations, opening barbs of echoes nagging at the consciousness. Singing to voices thought gone from previous incarnations, former lives and sequestered dreams.
As dust settles and the wind diminishes, illusions present themselves that everything appears the same as before. Except the eyes and their four accompanying cohorts are in a sense easily deceived fools, allowing self-absorbed egos to bask in their own vanities. Oblivious to the fact that evolution is an aching compulsion beckoning with greater urgency at every passing breath to let change occur naturally. While within, the subconscious relentlessly hammers away at logic’s walls with persistent scratches of intuition’s voice.
Calling out to the settling dust, that as the wind quiets, something has inexplicably changed.
And as the stirred leaf is returned to its former position, awakenings take root in the realization, beneath knowing’s furtive glances, that it can never be put back into the same state of cognizance as before.
Expelling the old self and inhaling the new is all part of the process, the rhythmicity of life, like the waves of the ocean stealing at the shore’s foundation of imposed truths.
In the Akashic Hall of Records I look up from the Tome, my mind inscribing astral light thoughts onto the blank pages set before me. “Why am I here?” I ask.
The Hathor guide moves behind me. “Sundering one’s self from the whole and from All That Is brings not truly understanding, not knowing Thyself.” He glances at my words. “You begin to understand this final Chakra lesson well. It is time for this teacher to leave, for there is no more I can show you.”
I have learned much from him, with so much left to learn. He vanishes as I finish writing. Even time itself, in the scheme of universal matters, becomes meaningless.
Yet enlightenment cannot be won without darkness and from that void comes the sacred knowledge that there is no going back, no retreating from awareness, for that surely leads on the path to madness. We have both inside, light and dark, awareness and ignorance. To deny one means to surrender to the other and that is one of the secrets in transcending this realm and in comprehending the existence of the others.
Still, somewhere on awareness’ wind comes the tongues of chaos humming an endless incantation, as surely as old people whisper and children laugh freely, that nothing, absolutely nothing, is as we remembered it.
Nor can it ever be as it once was.
That wind blew this morning as you chose to open this book.
July 7th, 2003, Seattle Sea Tac Airport
“The End is near, repent sinners. Set your spirit free, join Jehovah at the right hand of God.” The man dressed in black suit bellowed to the crowd of people, most of whom were simply trying to get either into the airport or were waiting for their rides out.
Unfortunately Roger had picked a spot to get out of his taxicab right next a Jehovah’s Witness man and two newly bald Hare Krishna dressed in their flowing robes, chanting in time to the rhythm of their tambourines, “join the pure love of God. Set your spirit free.” The two chanted louder, next the Jehovah’s Witness man thumping his bible loudly in a baritone voice, “ignore false prophets.”
The two being ex-WFC converts didn’t take well to the rude preacher stealing the show beside them with his boisterous Sunday morning at the pulpit voice and began to thump their tambourines even louder.
Roger Harrison helped unload the luggage from the back of the cab with his new wife Beth as the commotion broke loose with the man in black thumping one of the Hare Krishna over the head with his bible as the other put him in a headlock and shouted “find the love of God and yourself.” Prayer beads went flying in all directions as the Jehovah man grabbed one of the tambourines and slammed one of the Hare Krishna’s in the head.
Roger glanced at his watch; they didn’t have much time to make their plane, let alone watch the bizarre spectacle unfolding in front of him. Already security guards were running in from all directions adding to the ensuing melee. “Wow, don’t see that everyday,” Beth spurted.
An older, long-haired man, obviously a former love-child of the sixties with a faded, well worn peace-emblem tee-shirt shoved by Roger. “Peace Bro.” He gave Roger the two-fingered sign once common in the sixties. Roger caught the line ‘If I could turn myself inside out and set my spirit free’ playing from the man’s headset. U2, he thought, as he managed to squeeze into the terminal building. “I’ve got to help my brethren fight the fascist pigs in power, the times they are a changing.” He smiled and grabbed a fallen tambourine and belted one of the guards over the head.
“Oh, that they will be if we miss our flight. They’ll be changing me into the ranks of the newly divorced.” He hurried his new bride inside. “Yup,” he said, “I agree, don’t see that everyday.”
Set my spirit free.
Lyrics echoed in his head.
Seattle Airport area, 280,346,193 BC
Eddies of heat shimmered from the back of the triceratops standing on the plains. Snorting, he chewed down mouthfuls of grass. The green veldt here was only knee deep for as far as his sharp eyes could see. The edge of the forest stood nearby, close enough that if trouble ejected itself from the dark branches he had time to link up with the rest of his herd and join their protective circle. The others were just over a small rise, but the dominant alpha male had wandered off on his own.
The hunter shimmered into view. Waiting until the dizzying effects of teleporting subsided he checked his radar, before stalking to within firing range of the grazing triceratops. The wind direction changed.
The dinosaur’s acute sense of smell caught the unusual scent. He snorted at the figure, with strands of grass dangling from his mouth. It wasn’t anything he recognized, but the small being didn’t offer anything to fear. He was used to far bigger and deadlier foes. A bellow tore from him, just to let the intruder know who was master here.
Stopping his advance the hunter took a few steps to his right. Releasing his rifle from its magnetic attachment he aimed it at the dinosaur’s chest. The laser’s red blast seared heart, blood and bone into a mass of melted tissue. With a grunt the triceratops sank to its knees, shaking the ground with its several tons of mass. Convulsions shuddered through its body as the neurons kept firing and for a few moments the beast continued crunching its partly chewed grass before most fell from its mouth.
The hunter ran up to the dead creature, keeping one eye on his scanner, making sure the rest of the herd hadn’t caught his scent nor the odor of the triceratops’ blood staining the ground. Alert to the approach of the deadly carnosaurs probably about, he pulled out his laser scalpel and started cutting the prized head from the body. This big male was a valuable catch.
Even though the scalpel cauterized most of the cuts, blood’s dank aroma flooded the air, rising on waves of heat. It sang to the ones hungry for the taste of flesh. A shadow crossed the plains, followed by another and then several as the pterodactyls rose in flight. The hunter spied the carrion-eaters approaching, but knew they’d stay away for awhile. Already they’d begun the spiral watch above him but it was the others he feared, those he couldn’t fight off, those who would tear apart anything that came between them and their food.
The blare from his scanner alerted him. Three fast-moving objects, obviously blood’s calling alerting them to potential dinner. He looked up as the ground shook and the remaining herd of triceratops lifted their heads. A chorus of snorts tore into the air as the beasts thundered away.
Dust rose in a maddening cloud, obscuring the view of the approaching threats.
Severing the last of the tendons, the hunter shot a glance at the scanner, he had scant seconds. The three new intruders were approaching very fast. The chilling, shrill scream of the allosauri ripped across his steady nerves. This was going to be close. He didn’t trust Earth creatures: on several occasions they’d already proved to be smarter than he had expected. Tugging the head from the body, he set the controls. Severed head, and man pulsed with light as the ground danced to the rhythm of the three-toed hunters. Long teeth glittering in hungry delight as they screamed again.
The alien hunter and his trophy wavered, vanishing just as the first of the allosauri hit the rest of the carcass, nearly tumbling it over. Tearing of meat and crunching of bone reverberated as the three carnivores dined. Overhead the pterodactyls hovered, waiting for whatever remained.
February 4th, 1971, The Moon; Fra Mauro Crater
“One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”
The words of Neil Armstrong echoed through Edwin Mitchell’s mind as he stared up at the Earth rising over the horizon, the music of 2001: A Space Odyssey playing in his head.
Earth: continents, surrounded by the deep blue of the oceans cradled in billowy arms of clouds. He tried to spot the USA and, more importantly, the location of his hometown, where his wife and kids were probably staring back up at the moon. No markings existed to distinguish one country from another, nor to distinguish democracies from communistic societies. Land and mountains, ocean and clouds. Just one world spinning. Odd, he’d not really expected it to be like this.
Spinning, like so many of the other dots of light shining by the untold billions amid all this magnificence and the darkness of space, without the filter of sky and atmosphere. One spec, a mote revolving in a sea of infinity, all part of the cosmos. At peace with the universe. At one with itself.
At one with the universe; connected.
Edwin smiled. He’d never imagined it would be like this. No lines, no boundaries out here. Nothing like he’d been told, had read about in the books: light years of frozen emptiness separated by mere molecules and photons floating in vastness. This was different. Something no books, no professors could describe, and none could experience. He was only the sixth man to walk on the moon, blessed to have left Earth and view it from the outside in. Whole, suspended in the firmament of the heavens.
Tones of awe, like angels humming in reverence, filled his head. As the light of Earth flooded the plain he stood on, Ed gasped. Lights dancing, reflecting. Lights touching him as he grasped the rocks around him. Lights dancing? On the Moon?
He turned and stared into the heavens. Flashes of flares or rocket-fire, too small to be anything propelled, streaked off the moon’s surface into space. Heading in the direction of Earth.
“Ed, your vital signs are going offline. Ed, you’ve stopped breathing. CO levels are rising. Ed, you okay?”
“Yes, mission control, I’m fine. Did you register any unusual activity?”
“Nothing other than some of the seismic sensors indicating several tremors in the area.”
He counted the streaks heading away from the moon.
“Looks like about twelve peaks in activity, just beyond the Fra Mauro crater. Are you over the top yet?”
He counted the same number of lights. “Another couple of steps.”
He took a long breath and sighed, lost in crystalline reflections as he crested the crater.
“Ed? Everything okay? Your monitors are going nuts again.”
“Jeez.” No one, absolutely no one would believe this. He didn’t believe it himself. “Just admiring old Mother Earth,” he lied. “It’s not every day you get to see an Earthrise.”
No, nothing was as he’d been taught. Oh, it was all there, the stars, the sun, the blackness of space, everything where it should be. Only it was different, as different as the plateau before him. A whole lifetime of teachings and beliefs blown aside by invisible winds, like dust before reality’s vision. He shook his head, scrambled back down the way he’d come and returned to his work of digging up moon rocks to take home. Was it possible? Did he really just see that?
Home, he thought, how funny. In some ways as he stared up into the heavens, he was home.
Sea Tac Airport Today
‘If I could turn myself inside out and set my spirit free’
The U2 song line stuck, stewing away in his head, too many times to be coincidence. As the shuffle outside began to die down, with the security guards resorting to Tasering and handcuffing the troublemakers.
Words, all words pulling at him, like spirit things. Echoing, so strange. His whole day had begun to have a feeling of surrealism. The scene outside didn’t help. He was supposed to be on his honeymoon.
Echoing winds, words.
Drifting, pulling him away.
Pooling like dew on grass, drip, dripping, flowing into a burbling stream. Consciousness.
To places, dimensions unknown.
His subconscious nagging at him, it’s sublime finger jabbing into his head. Roger shuffled forward joining the long queue in the ticket line. Why? Why here?
“What are you so nervous about?” Beth prodded him.
“Who says I’m nervous?” She broke him away from his musing.
“Because you always turn pale and squeeze your hands together, or mine.”
He yanked himself back to earth and realized he’d been gripping her hand so tight her wedding band had marked her finger. “Sorry.” All day he’d felt odd, like something wasn’t right. That commotion outside hadn’t helped ease his fears. The repeated chanting of voices? Haunting his memory like niggling tendrils of spirit things. Fuck, get out of my head, he swore to himself.
“I don’t get it. You’ve flown dozens of times on business. Or are you afraid of me? Don’t worry I don’t bite; although I do nibble rather fine. Remember the first time we kissed? I thought you were going to crush my fingers.”
“And the second and the third. You know I get nervous around women.” Yes, talk to Beth, it helped.
“Hey, I’m your wife now. It’s okay.”
He hugged her. A strange day threatened, that’s what it was. Be prepared for the most unexpected on those days, a colleague once told him. Easier said than done. It reminded him of a poster from his younger days, ‘It’s hard to remember your objective is to drain the swamp, when you’re up to your armpits in alligators.’
Roger frowned, the soft cry of a child caught his ears. “Do you hear that?” He cranked his head around, scanning the crowd.
“No, I don’t. Hear what?”
“Young girl, crying.” Roger spotted the young black girl standing by the candy counter about thirty feet away. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her. Everyone too busy rushing around trying to catch planes. He muttered. She was clutching a doll, tears streaming down her ebony face. “Keep our place, I’ll be right back.”
“You okay young lady,” he bent over and held out a Kleenex as he approached.
“Can’t find my mommy.” She started to cry harder.
“It’s okay, we’ll find her. Let’s go over here to security and I’ll buy you a candy bar while we page her.” He was careful not to touch her as they walked over to the counter. Even acts of kindness he knew could be wrongly construed. Best to be careful, didn’t want to be thrown in the clink on child molestation charges on his honeymoon.
A minute later, after the pager called out the lady’s name and the young girl had nearly finished the Mars bar, a rather frightened large black lady came running from across the crowded terminal. “My baby! One second she was by my side and the next she was gone.” She sobbed as she clutched the young girl. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” He walked back to join Beth in their lineup, which had moved only about three people closer to the front.
“You’re always helping kids. Why is that?”
“Don’t know. Something to do with having no dad as I grew up.”
“Only your mom to raise you. Must have brought out your feminine, sensitive side. Another reason why I love you.” She winked. “Just wait until I get you alone.”
“Is that a promise?”
Promises, promises of inevitable things. They were on their honeymoon, full of excitement for the new journey together as man and wife. But inside he sensed another journey unfolding, one he had dreamt about for days now. Unsettling dreams, that at first he’d put it down to his anticipation of getting married, his nervousness regarding the honeymoon trip, but feared it was much more. The incident earlier with U2 and the chanting Hare Krishna’s had unleashed something buried in his mind. He began to drift away again, some forgotten thread inside nagging at him. Pulling him on some pathway he’d never recall going down. Awakening.
Journeys on paths unbidden, a soul’s course, destiny undenied like the flashflood down desert canyons, every breath, every step sweeping him away. Thrust to the embrace of fate and futures scrawled into sacred rock. Knowing, the ache of knowing that things were unfolding in the universe all around him and there was nothing he could do. Roger sighed, this wasn’t going to be an ordinary honeymoon was it?
Intuitively he knew there was little he could do now, except watch it crash into him, into his orderly existence, wiping rationality aside like dust from bookshelves. But the bookshelf didn’t exist, and each dust speck was a world unto itself. Nor was the dusting rag just a rag but a curtain of time sweeping all before it, while only chaos talked, reeling in its own hosts. Inevitable things. Damn, it.
“We’re next, honey.”
He tensed, gripping her hand. “Ow, you’re crushing my hand again. What is wrong?”
“Don’t know.” I’ve done this dozens of times, this is my honeymoon. He reminded himself he was setting off on his honeymoon with Beth. They were heading for Hawaii and then on a free Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip he’d won in a company contest last year. He’d promised Bill, his buddy, that he’d also visit Sedona, Arizona. Land of the red rock, canyons and Hopi Indians as part of the package. He shook his head, still not sure why he’d let Bill talk him into going to Sedona, yet something about that name intrigued him. Like this moment, haunted him. What if he said no, I can’t do this. Won’t.
Maybe he should turn around. If he was smart, he would.
But destiny was a capricious child at best. Unruly and without definition, no boundaries. No knowing when it would call or where it would surface. Major moments that changed lifetimes and entire nations in the blink of an eye, when a shift of one single belief or thought pattern came without deliberation and totally unexpectedly.
“Yeah, just keep thinking I’ve forgotten something,” he lied. Trying to release her hand, his grip to the now. Damn it. Run.
He stared into her sweet, concerned face. The brown eyes he’d fallen instantly in love with. The petite nose, half-hidden by the cascade of brunette hair, and the twin dimples that erupted with each smile, framing the luscious lips he wanted more than anything to be kissing on a Hawaiian beach.
He shook his head, clearing it, grounding himself with deep breaths, back into his life. His dreams the last few nights had been filled with insights and the dull ache of knowing inevitable things were taking place. Hadn’t he read that the big events in one’s life are all preordained and in those moments, time slows to a crawl and eternity grips each syllable until half lights shutter away in strobe-lamp fashion. Or was it simply the fact that he was worried about flying, especially after the ISIS and all the constant hysteria induced by the government regarding retaliation. He stepped through the metal detector.
“Sorry, sir. Please go back and remove any coins and other metal objects.”
“Oh. Thought I already did that.” The Inevitability of too late to turn back. One path set, the others discarded. His heart pounded.
Beth went through while he did as the attendant instructed him, though a thorough check of his pockets confirmed that he didn’t have any metal on him. The lineup behind him was lengthening, other travelers as eager as he was to set off for their destination waiting patiently. He stepped back through the metal detector’s frame.
“Over here, sir. Spread your legs and raise your arms. Do you have any metal on your body?” The attendant scanned him with his wand.
“Not that I know of.” He wanted to add, “except for the metal plate in my skull,” but he figured anyone who had to stand there doing this job day after day wouldn’t have much of a sense of humor. The scene from the movie Spinal Tap came to mind, where the hip rock star with the spray-on leather pants and hefty package bulging from his crotch area is stopped at an airport scanner. Much to the macho dude’s chagrin, security discovers a concealed bierwurst sausage wrapped in tinfoil.
The detector went off around his midsection. “Must be my high-iron diet,” he joked.
“This is no laughing matter sir. Have you had any operations?”
“No, sir.” Roger leaned heavily on the “sir”. Sweat was breaking out on his forehead. “Never had an operation in my life.”
“Proceed to that room over there.” It was too late to run now.
“Ah, but … will I miss my flight?”
“Proceed to that room. You have not been cleared for boarding.”
“Roger, what’s going on here?” Beth stared, frowning, an eye twitching. She hated being singled out in a crow and he knew he was to blame.
“Don’t worry, babe. Something seems to be setting off the metal detectors. I can’t board until they check it out.” Crap, years later he was still antsy enough after the bombing of the World Trade Towers, and now this. The smirk of chaos commencing its numbing jumbled dance, taking control … the lines between his dreamworld and reality blurred. Had he already set something in place that would lead to change? The trouble with inevitable things and chaos is that there’s no secretary keeping notes, no Dictaphone to replay the events. Only hands-on experience and he’d never experienced anything deep or religious or wildly spiritual in his life. So where was all this coming from? And why couldn’t he shut up that voice in his head?
Three guards lounged in the small room, the two males casually snapped their gum. A rotund female guard sat in the corner reading the National Enquirer, scowl pinching her ruddy face. Dealing with her, he sensed, would be like taking sirloin from a pit-bull. It could be done but chances were you’d lose more blood and flesh than you’d gain.
“Hands up. Gotta run another scanner over you,” the first male ordered.
It beeped in the same area as before. “Ever have an operation, sir?” The second stared him in the eyes.
“Nope. And I’m a frequent flyer. Never had a problem with security.”
“Open your shirt, please.” The guard was still staring him down. He’d read that police and security personnel were trained to detect if a person was lying just by the way their eyes moved when he was asked a question. Roger stared straight back at the guard as he unbuttoned his shirt.
There, outlined just below his right ribcage, barely visible, was an irregular bulge. He turned white; I should have run, fucking inevitable things.
Roger ran his fingers over the area. It wasn’t hot to the touch, like he expected a tumor or blood clot to be, nor discolored, in fact it felt smooth, almost metallic. What was it? How’d it get there? Was he going to die? The visions of a woman he’d just seen on TV dying from some sort of viral infection, her body covered in massive sores. The doctors puzzled by this unknown affliction. “I … ah … can only say I’ve never seen this before.”
What the hell was going on here? He’d recently had a physical and his doctor hadn’t said anything about this. Surely he would have noticed it himself, in the shower this morning? Wouldn’t he?
“So you’re standing here trying to tell me you’ve never seen this before?”
“One more time, sir. Explain to me what that is.” The guard raised his voice.
“I … ah … can’t. I didn’t even know it was there.” Christ, what was this? Some kind of nightmare? The kind of things that happen only in Sci-Fi movies. The guard held the scanner directly over the lump. It began beeping madly.
“Well, I think you’re full of shit myself. I’ve seen some pretty inventive ways to smuggle things in and out of this country. Ever seen puppies with sown up stomachs, hiding coke? What do you think, Ernie? Dope?” He nodded to the other male.
“Hey, just relax, Burt. We can’t assume our mister ready to go on holidays here and relax on a Hawaiian beach sipping Mai Tais is up to something. Maybe he’s got some cancerous growth or worse…”
“Oh like the scene from the movie, which one?” He snapped his fingers.
“Alien. Where the baby bursts out from the guys chest.”
“Yeah, that’s the one.” He laughed ignoring the almost shivering Roger, as he kept glancing at the clock on the wall. Ernie turned back to him, all sign of joviality gone. “Nah, you know what I’m thinking? Dope.” He eyed him directly again.
The only dopes here were the Dumb and Dumber rejects from security guard school. These were people used to being in control, who enjoyed watching others squirm. This was too surreal, not really happening, like the sensations that had assaulted him as he waited in line, like the hallucinations of marijuana. Like he was floating over all of this and watching, like this was meant to happen, only he didn’t know why.
“Dope? How can that be dope, up there?”
“You tell us, sir. But we need to get you checked out. Maybe you’ve got some kind of explosives taped up inside you, behind some sort of fake skin. Stand behind the screen, remove all your clothing and put on the robe. Over reacting? Remember nine-eleven. I lost an uncle in that pile of rubble.”
“Do I look like a Muslim suicidal type of dude?”
“Don’t care, my job is to ensure the national security of this great nation of the US of A. No wacko is getting in or out past my shift. Prepare the lube Burt and if you give us any more static I’ll let Helga over there check you out.”
“Or maybe he’d like that,” the other laughed.
Roger’s ears turned hot. They were baiting him, trying to force him to lose his cool. They were not good people, they liked baiting, torturing others. His intuition was going off, just like at the lineup. He clenched his fists, had to stay calm or goodbye honeymoon, welcome jail cell.
He glanced down at the headlines on the paper Helga was reading, Man claims aliens impregnated him. Has seven-pound baby girl. He finished robing himself in the paper gown and stepped away from the screen. The snap of latex over fingers echoed. The next few minutes weren’t going to be quite the honeymoon experience he had planned.
In the Hallway, four humans, intent on killing her.
Her internal honed senses pulsed danger. Sherida opened her eyes and leaped from her bed. She didn’t have to glance at the clock to know it was 3:12 a.m.
Naked, no time to dress. Sherida dove across the pitch-black hotel room, grabbing her laser from its holster as a moment later the hotel room door burst open. She slid up against the dresser. The flash of light from the hallway behind them highlighted the intruders as they tried to shoulder their way in. Hushed bursts from handguns equipped with silencers thumped her bed; still warm from her body.
Someone reached for the light switch. With her mind she closed the door to the suite, trapping two of the men outside in the corridor. In the same instant she shot out the light. Her infra-red vision kicked in automatically, a precious advantage. Two more bursts from her laser pierced the door, forming twin smoking pinholes where she sensed the heat of the two men. Her mind’s senses registered their heats stopping and their life essences leave their bodies.
“Where?” He spun around and fired a bullet randomly into the darkness. Sherida didn’t utter a sound as the bullet grazed her shoulder.
“Shit. I can’t see shit! Behind...” were the last words of the other two inside the dark hotel room. Two more bursts of white intensity seared all life from them. They thumped to the floor.
Sherida stood, her senses scanning the area assuring her that there were no others on this floor, but they had backup. Six others were waiting outside, about to enter the hotel. Clean-up crew, waiting for a signal or no signal depending on what happened in her room. Time was of the essence. She moved around as if her surroundings were illuminated by daylight and not cast in blackness, thankful that she couldn’t see with her eyes the blood splattering the carpet and the bodies as she frisked them. No ID, no way of discovering where they came from or who had sent them. Someone wanted her dead. More important thing, someone knew she was on Earth. Sending this number of men after her wasn’t about some kind of local gangster clash.
This changed completely everything. If someone knew about her, maybe they knew about the others. She’d have to check and make sure her contacts were okay. Her circuits had already kicked in the seal the flesh wound. She closed her eyes and a dark casual pantsuit covered her. Noises where starting up in the hallway, she sensed the apartment to her left was empty and even though this took an emormous drain on her systems she willed herself thorough the wall and left via the next suite as the humans began to mill about staring at the two dead biker types littering the hallway.
Outside in the alleyway a deep breath of grounding energy washed over her and she closed her eyes. Using her omniscient vision she pictured herself staring down at herself and then pictured everything around her within the next couple of blocks. The buzz of human energy presented nothing of a problem. For now she was safe, other than the others after her, were entering the hotel. She tried to contact home-base but couldn’t, the link wasn’t working.
That had never happened since she’d joined the angels over twenty years ago. That was a secured, dimensional line, supposedly unbreakable. Which meant that also home-base didn’t know where she was or if she was okay.
She was cut off for now. Someone or something had interfered with her, her mission and it had nearly cost her life. She’d find out who it was. As for the other eleven? No way of contacting them.
Closing her eyes Sherida allowed her body to shimmer, shutting down all functions except biological repair and remote monitoring. She had to deplete the huge drain on her energies as she shifted into out of time sequence, becoming invisible.
Several hours later Zolnar shimmered into view on Union street in Seattle. The first wave had failed to eliminate all the angels, including the female one called Sherida. She was good, elusive, but not for long. He pressed a button and his reptilian image shimmered, then transformed into a middle-aged white male wearing an Armani suit. Now the inbred thrill of the hunt began, he wrinkled his nose. Disgusting how they still burned fossil fuels on this world. He coughed. No wonder they lived such a short time.
He stepped onto the sidewalk and bumped against a passerby, his stomach turning. Zagnet and double zagnet, such a revolting smell these flesh eaters gave off. His kind hadn’t done that for centuries, perfecting synthesizing proteins over thousands of years ago, although the prospect of eating meat and raw flesh again seemed suddenly appealing. Carnivoristic traits, an ancient reptilian desire, the hunt. He knew some of his kind still went on illegal hunts. He dialed in a number and felt the wash of chemicals into his system, settling his stomach instantly. Enough of that, once he achieved his goals, he could do whatever he desired, a little hunting trip now seemed like a delicious thought.
Zolnar checked his scanner. Some angels had proven very resourceful, they were well trained and difficult to kill. Although he knew the landing locations for all of them, a couple seemed not to rely on links to the homeworld. Each he knew were trained totally different depending on the continent and person they had to observe.
Odd, but only a matter of time before he tracked those down. A beep came in. Good. The one he was worried about the most in the area called Europe had been eliminated. “Good everything is proceeding just marvelously.”
Jet engines roared overhead as Roger sat down gingerly in the cab. The flight he and Beth were supposed to be on was taxiing down the run. What a lousy start to a honeymoon. The petroleum jelly gurgled again in his bowels.
“You okay?” His new wife sent him a sympathetic smile.
He stared into her sweet, concerned face as he frowned and gripped her hand. “I think so, but if our cabbie hangs too fast a right, he might have a rather unpleasant experience in the back of his cab. You’re probably wondering what the hell is going on, and just how well do I know this guy?”
Her brown eyes he’d fallen instantly in love with smiled back. Her nervous smile didn’t hide the dimples that erupted, framing luscious lips he wanted more than anything to be kissing on a sunset beach instead of clamping his butt cheeks together over every bump that threatened to expel even more of the gurgling mass brewing inside him. He’d already gone twice.
“It crossed my mind, but first we need to get you to the doctor. Let’s look at the bright side, handsome. We got lucky. You weren’t arrested as a terrorist.”
“Ah, thanks sweetheart, I think that dawned on those dimwits after I said I was leaving the country, not entering it. Only the problem is, I’m not sure what this is all about, or what this is inside me and until I get some answers to this, this … disaster,” he shook his head, “I might not be allowed back on an airplane. I can’t believe you’re taking this so cool on our honeymoon.” Roger squinted as pain shot up his insides over another dip in the road.
Beth smiled, her dimples showing. “I think it’ll make a great story for our kids. So what’s the verdict, are you going to be okay?” They hadn’t had time to talk until now.
“If I survive this taxi ride, after the rectal probing and two pounds of jelly.”
“Can’t say I’ve ever had the pleasure of a jelly enema.”
“Well, it wasn’t on my list of ten things I want to experience in this lifetime, nor to do on my honeymoon or put on my bucket list. It’s funny, I can’t feel anything and I wouldn’t even know it’s there, except when I touch it. On their x-rays the mass is solid, probably not organic as nothing shows through it, they suspected metal, lead perhaps. Whatever is it is a solid mass.”
“So what is …”
“Ah, geez!” The jelly kept oozing down, no matter how hard a deathgrip his rear end made on the seat.
“Leaking, are we?” Beth snickered.
“Not funny, Beth. They must have used half a tube of jelly on me. Don’t think I’m going to make it.” Roger shuffled as delicately as he could, clamping his butt cheeks together. “I’m sure as hell not going through this again. Not exactly the type of holiday penetration I expected. Cabbie, pull into that 7-11 quick.”
“Nice tush, hon.” Beth gave him a small pat on the rear as he yanked open the door, walking as fast as he calmly could for the restrooms. Audible gurgles could be heard in the cab.
Beth smiled as the cab driver stared up. “It’s our honeymoon, he’s very shy and nervous, a virgin actually.”
The dark-skinned cabbie stared in disbelief, “Wow, at his age, must have led a sheltered life.”
“Yeah, on of them Mormon type colonies I stole him away from.” She lied hoping he wouldn’t be long as the meter ticked away.
Cynthia snipped at her prize roses and squinted from under her sun hat. Neimann Marcus and worth every nickel on a hot day like today in the Everglades. The kids were playing down by the pond bordering the Okefenokee swamp. Several times she’d told them not to play down there in case an alligator came out of the muck, but she was simply glad to be alone.
Cynthia hated her kids and didn’t care much for being a housewife either. The price she had to pay to have her dreams come true. All this and Richard Downs, the best looking and richest lawyer in the state. She brushed her blonde hair back, remembering that tomorrow was her day at the beauty salon. Part of the deal of being with Richard was to keep herself, fifteen years his junior, impeccably groomed. He was thinking of throwing his hat into the ring for the governorship in the next election. She smiled. The governor’s mansion had an entire rose garden out back. One day, it would all be hers. But for now she was content with winning trophies for her roses. At least that gave her some harmony, away from the two screaming brats, Sally-Anne and Dempster. They were playing out back, although for the most part good kids, just it was on days like today when the nanny was off she’d simply wished the spoiled brats would get eaten by a pack of rabid dogs. At least that would shut them up. She took a swig of the Manhattan Ice Tea, heavy on the bourbon.
“It’s him, I hear him breathing,” Dempster said. He enjoyed nothing more than tormenting his younger sister.
“You’re trying to scare me. I’m gonna tell Mom.” Her beautiful dress was already smudged with dirt, but what the heck. She had several dozen others in the closet.
“See, that’s him. The muck monster glows green from the radioactive sludge he eats. The Navy dumped it here before we were born.”
“Dempster, I’m telling.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her closer to a large mangrove tree, edging forward.
“Stay here. I’ll check it out. Could be a big ol’ croc, but I don’t think so. I think it’s the Florida muck monster. If I scream, run for your life.”
Sally shivered. “Be careful. Mom said I can’t get dirty.”
“I know, dummy, that’s why I’m going ahead.” Dempster approached the tree. He pulled the squirt bottle of ketchup from his front pocket. “I hear something breathing, low and deadly. Arrgh, it’s got me. Run, Sally!” He filled his mouth with the ketchup and spun around grabbing at his throat. Red spewed from his lips, his tongue hanging out for effect.
Sally screamed, then screamed again as a taloned arm shot out from behind the tree and grabbed Dempster by the throat. His eyes rolled back as the creature crushed his windpipe. Blood gurgled past his lips, mixing with the runny ketchup. Unable to scream, his eyes bulged, the boy convulsed twice and hung limp. Ketchup bottle fell from lifeless fingers.
Sally stood in catatonia, urine soiling her new panties as the Dractarian pulled Dempster’s body behind the tree. Several obscene crunching sounds filled the air. She wanted to run but couldn’t, her feet refusing to respond as the creature stepped into plain view. Dempster’s intestines hung from its too-large mouth, stuck between long crooked teeth. Slime and other bits of Dempster drooled from its mouth. It chomped again and splattered her and her new dress with her brother’s blood and still-warm flesh. She opened her mouth to scream again. The creature swiped at her with its free hand, tearing the girl’s head, blonde curls and all, from her shoulders.
Cynthia continued pruning the roses she was so proud of, picturing the many awards she had won: they covered a whole wall in their living room. Her pride and joy. The screaming stopped as quickly as it had begun. Good. She couldn’t wait until next summer when the brats were old enough to be sent to summer school and she’d have the house to herself for the entire summer. She sipped at her drink, sweat beading on her forehead.
Tom yawned as he struggled into his office. Eleven a.m.! Far too early for a Monday morning. He buzzed his secretary for coffee and sank into the confines of his padded leather chair. “Oh.” He hid his head in his hands. “Too much coke or too much booze.”
It had been a good night. Maybe he should call his apartment and see if that hot brunette was still there. He punched the numbers on his phone but hung up. “Damn, was it Denise or Diane? Could go for round two with that one.” He smiled to himself as Melinda, his secretary, walked in.
“How’s the man-whore doing this afternoon?” she joked.
Melinda knew him too well; they’d been working together for nearly two years. He had tried to put the moves on her many times, until he discovered she was more into women. “Anytime you want to switch to one hundred percent real beef, let me know.”
“If I ever do, it won’t be with you. I choke on small bones. Wouldn’t want to get anything stuck between my teeth.”
“Still a crying shame. Nice toilet,” he muttered as she walked out of the room studying her rear. She always wore the tightest skirts. Except for the rings in her eyebrow and lip, he found her very appealing, but at least her sexual preference kept their relationship on a strictly business level. He’d picked up more chicks since she started working here. She was also not only good at her job but especially useful for finding out what women liked, particularly in bed. After all, who better to ask?
Sipping on his coffee he stared at his office walls: posters, photographs, sets of Tycomonster cards and other memorabilia, all successful marketing products he’d designed. A salesman, good at knowing what the public craved or thought they did, or making them desire certain products, all essential selling skills in this field.
High on the day’s agenda was the biggest project he was working on, marketing schemes for the new Galaxy Warriors movie series due next spring. His company had been awarded the contract with six figures being his share, plus a percentage. Should sit well in his bank account and keep him in coke and beautiful women for a while.
With another yawn he sorted through the mail Melinda had plopped on his desk. Mostly junk from wannabes proposing already-done crap. The first package contained a set of animal pictures. “Too cute.” He attached a standard response letter and set the package in Melinda’s outgoing mail slot. The next envelope contained photos of couples engaged in orgies. “Too racy.” He attached the same response letter but figured he’d keep the pictures for further perusal on nights when he alone. Which wasn’t many lately.
On went the morning until Melinda buzzed him. “Don’t forget you’ve got lunch at twelve at Manhattan’s.”
“Did I ever tell you for a lezbo chick you’re alright?”
“Did I ever tell you for a male pig, you’re absolutely disgusting?”
He cut off the mike before she could finish her ‘fuck you’ response. Tom grabbed his briefcase and the rest of the mail, which he could open before his client arrived, if he left now. He hadn’t eaten this morning, so lunch and a few coffees would go down well, not to mention a stiff shot of rye.
At the restaurant, sipping on his usual liquid lunch, he ripped open the last of his mail. He got a lot of samples and products issues from companies and people hoping he could make them rich. Most were a waste of his time, or already done. A heavy package containing several six-by-eight cards tore apart too easily. Some slipped out and fell to the floor.
“Damn,” he muttered, bending over to pick them up and waving to snag the waitress’s attention. He turned the card over and stared into the scene it represented. A hologram, unlike anything he’d ever seen. Crystal blue waves crashing on the beach before him. Cries of seagulls overhead. His toes curled into the grittiness of the hot sand. Hibiscus and Lei scents filled the air. Heat, blistering heat. He shielded his eyes. The stench of salt air and rotting seaweed assailed his nostrils. He wiped at sweat beading on his forehead, blinked and was pulled back into the restaurant.
“Jesus Christ,” he muttered and stared into the card again. The same vision filled his world, engulfed every sense in his body. He was on this beach!
“Excuse me, I haven’t got all day. We’re one short and I’m covering eight other tables. Hello!” the waitress barked, clad in a bikini and dinner tray.
Tom shook his head and set the card down. “In-frigging-credible. Tell me, what do you see in this picture?”
“Look, I don’t have time to screw around with a postcard of a beach...” The empty tray fell from her fingers fell from her hand as she staggered back.
“It pulled me in. Holy shit. I was there.” She blinked in disbelief.
“Hey, can a guy get a damn coffee in this place or what?” Someone from another table yelled.
“I’ll be right there.” She retrieved her tray, ignoring the yammering patron. “What was that?”
“Just a new laser 3D hologram I’m working on,” he lied, making up the first thing that came into his head. “What do you think?”
“Amazing. I was on that beach. That’s a surefire winner, mister.”
“Yeah, what I thought.” Tom searched the package for a letter. All it said was that he had ten days to view the product before responding, after which it would be offered to another agency. It was from a company he’d never heard of, Unearthly Creations, which in his line of work wasn’t too unusual: a lot of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants companies were out there. At the bottom was an email address: UnearthlyCreations@universe.com.
“This is good, frigging good.” Tom slapped fifty bucks on the table and yelled at the waitress, “There’ll be two gentlemen arriving to meet me in about ten minutes. Tell them I had a family emergency and I’ll get my secretary to reschedule for later this week. I left money on the table and a good tip. Thanks.”
He threw the photos into his briefcase and ran for the door, buzzing Melinda on his cell phone. “Melinda, cancel or reschedule any appointments I have this afternoon.”
“But you’re booked solid.”
“Cancel them. I need to deal with something that just got dumped in my lap. I’ll be at home on my computer.”
“This better be good, for all the shit I’m going to have to go through.”
“Honey, this is hot stuff, real hot.”
Leah Brown: This was an amazing read! I was hooked from the very first chapter, holding my breadth to see what would happen next. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the world Danielle has created is fascinating. If you love YA, you MUST read this book. Such a smart, brilliant debut novel. I loved it!
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
_JosephJacobson_: I don't understand why this has such low ratings. I really enjoyed it!I think that the whole idea behind the plot had something very special and that was something that I really enjoyed. It was new, unique. I think that some of the writing was a little strange in places but overall it made sense ...
PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...
marycombs14: This is a very interesting book - mostly because the heroine is quite charming and well rounded, and has very real issues to manage in her life. Most of all,. I loved the view inside of the life of a South Asian girl/woman, the emotional self-talk, the customs and preferences, the expectations a...
Prasino45: Hi! I happen to see your updated chapter on FF.NET!It happened to be about you coming onto Inkitt with this story! I've been a fan for a while! I'm a scqualphie writer myself. I ship them HARD! Love this story! I'm gonna do a reread as you said you changed some things! Glad we both made the switc...
Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."