Christine M. Soltis




When a woman chooses to alter her natural fate, her daily path in search of adventure, love, danger or a little something in between, she risks the comedy and tragedy of life.  Woman is capable of multi-tasking in the physical and the mental sense.  The female mind is plagued with many rationale and reasons, motivated by differing factors.  Today’s woman has grown an even stronger sense of independence, leading her on journeys to find and add to her existing nature. 

But what if she never takes that journey and knows no risk?  Has she ever really lived at all?



Chapter 1


            The sun shines brightly and I shield my eyes from its onslaught.  The sight around me is pleasing despite the overzealous light.  Half a dozen near-naked men surround me.  Sweat glistens in tiny beats across their deeply defined chests and arms.  Every time they move to massage my body, their strong fingers squeezing and kneading my flesh, I sneak a peek of those finely constructed biceps flexing and tightening.  At the sight of this, I feel sudden heat flush through my nerves, a never-ending heat.  Everything around me feels so warm, so nice and so euphoric.  Life is great.  I must be in Utopia, or some sort of version of heaven.  This is every woman’s dream, isn’t it?          


And then I wake up...

My eyes flutter with confusion as I break away from the dream and am smothered by reality.  The white, square patterned ceiling above catches my sight, illuminating its dullness with exasperating clarity. 

Ugh.  What a buzz kill.

            That’s my first thought. 

            I am lame. 

            And that’s my second one.  

I rub my eyes as I continue to wake myself from this luscious dream.  My bare feet slump across the floor with slow, deliberate steps.  I feel like a robot, stumbling forward with stiffened movement. 

Is there a sudden, unnatural creaking in my joints?  I don’t remember feeling these aged feelings just a few years ago.  Or do I and did I just forget?  I continue on to do my duty, trying not to think of what today signifies. 

            But the bathroom certainly doesn’t become a place of solace.  Any hopes of curing my thoughts of age don’t seem to exist. 

The mirror could be called a woman’s best friend.  It’s always there when she needs it, through the good days and the bad.  It lets her know if she looks so awful that she should just stay in bed.  It also lets her know when she is just too beautiful for the rest of the world. 

            I stare at my grayish reflection with wonderment. 

On second thought, maybe the mirror is a woman’s greatest nightmare. 

The rectangular mirror in front of me is framed with an inch thick silver lining.  But that is not what makes my skin appear gray.  It is the natural lighting that shines, or rather glares through the window, reflecting off the whitish gray tiles around me. 

It is today that makes me look older. 

            I sigh again as I pull on my eyelids.  This reflection stares back at me.  The pulling continues and my face even appears elastic now. 

            As I look closer, in my mind, questions persist.

Were these wrinkles under my eyes before?  Were these fine lines stretching across my forehead just a few days ago?  Sure, they seem mild but were they there? 

I stop tugging on my eyes; remembering what mom used to say when I was young and made pouting faces.

            “Your face is going to stay that way!”

            It never did, but some superstitious thoughts stick in our minds and memories.

            I notice now that the cheeks of my thin face seem sunken in today.  My eyes and the surrounding skin appear tense and almost sleep deprived.  The gray glow of the tiles from the naturally unnatural light replaced my normally glowing reflection.  Maybe if I turn on the light, it won’t seem as if some old ghost were staring back at me. 

            There, that’s better.  One flip of the switch and the lighting changes my entire outlook.  I almost look as young as I did yesterday. 

Wait a minute. 

How did I look yesterday?

            I shake my head; fluffing my straight, shoulder length brown hair.  It is standing out in static, precarious directions and this fluffing only makes it worse.  I can’t help but laugh. 

            Finally, I stop playing in the mirror for just a moment to brush my teeth.  But my thoughts are distracted.  I can’t even look at myself right now.

            Today is not going to be a normal day. 

A normal day for me is carved with simplicity.  My day begins with waking up and having a light breakfast and coffee, arranging an outline or reading of reference materials while my food digests, thirty minutes or more of exercise, a shower and then settling into some comfortable clothes- preferably sweat pants.  It is then that I begin to write my next book.   

As it usually occurs in life, social events are no longer my forte.  I think almost all women become this way with age.  But now, I remember that it wasn’t always this way.  I used to go out.  I used to dance and sing karaoke and laugh out loud.  But now I’ve become what all women fear. 

Stagnant.  Boring.  Dull. 

            Just a few days ago, I swore that today, today is going to be different for me though.  Today, I am going to be different.

            Again now, I stare into the mirror, reflecting upon my reflection.  The persistent, powerful thought returns:

I have to develop the courage to unlock myself from the walls I have immured myself in. 

            This is going to be the hardest day.  Today, I have to act.  Today, I can make no excuses.  I have to escape the stagnant life of the box.  You would think I was partying my life away like other top celebrity names. 

Au contraire! 

            But, maybe I should be.  Maybe I am missing out on life.  Perhaps I ought to see what lives on the other side of life, the side of which I was once an active member. 

            I skip my morning jog and go straight to the shower.  Such a diversion from my natural plans would usually have me terribly anxious.  But time is short today and still, one question remains.

Am I missing out on life? 

            I ponder this in the warm steam of the shower.  But the realization strikes me again.  Alert lashes at my body, chilling flesh colored bumps to rise on my warm, wet skin. 

I don’t live my life. 

A frown succeeds in overtaking my smile. 

I live only the lives and the adventures within my mind and within my stories.  Perhaps I am trapped in the fantastic fantasy of my mind. 

            With just a towel wrapped around me, I go to my huge closet, which is only half full.  My life mostly requires sweatpants after all.  After some time of searching aimlessly, I find a nice black dress suit.  Some people think money changes a person.  But writing was my avocation far before it became my profession.  Money has not changed me- except in one sense, that is. 

I used to be freer. 

I used to be able to go to the grocery store without being recognized.  Artists may yearn to be recognized early on in life but I can assure you that fame is not as easy as you may think it is.  Sometimes, I yearn to be able to go out and talk to people, total strangers even, about something other than writing. 


            After I dress in the sleek black suit top with a white dressy tank top and knee-length skirt with pantyhose, I pull on a pair of black boots I haven’t worn in a long time.  I walk over to the wide glass window in the living room.  Looking down, it seems like I am much higher in the sky than I feel like I am. 

As I look out, my mind starts to descend into another pattern of thoughts.  My singularity suddenly burdens me, knowing that I am truly alone in this world.  But as far as men are concerned, I am just waiting for the vibe.  I barely remember the vibe, but I can define it.  It is that strong electrical current that makes you sit on the edge of your seat while you’re talking to the ‘vibe bringer.’  Oh, and the way your heart flutters and lifts lightly during conversations of any subject with your object of desire.  Instead of beating, your heart seems to be sailing on a calm tide of water; swimming on an easy breeze, finding its way around without worry that there is no land near.  You actually feel this happiness, this jolly glee, no matter how long you have been in the relationship. 

Yup.  None of that for me.

There are certainly some things you can’t learn and experience strictly from books.

Now that I am all dressed up, I go look into that same mirror that made me look old and gray earlier.  I lean forward and apply the blackest mascara to my eyelashes.  I finish the mascara application, dust a little concealer on my face and then reach for my lip-gloss.  I check myself with a couple silly, seductive poses a few more times in the bedroom mirror.  Now, I am off to meet with my agent.

As I head outside, I keep in mind that today is going to be different.  Today really is going to be different.

Because today…I turn thirty.     


Please enjoy the excerpts below from other 2011 releases such as

Estranged Decisions and Final Moon!!!! 








Sarabel’s Back Path

(from Estranged Decisions, April 2011) 

                The gas tank’s needle flickered near empty.  To the left and right of the highway, empty fields wore hues of yellow-brown from the endless wild weeds.  Sarabel’s coffee cup matched her gas tank’s eager emptiness.  Her body was as full of liquid as the cacti that sporadically framed the road.  These distractions clouded her ability to enjoy the brisk wind that seared in through the windows, tempering the hot desert sun.

                Because she passed the highway signs so quickly, she scarcely recognized which one she was about to pull off in.  A green and white creaking highway sign advertised a town named Credence, creating her exit. 

                As she pulled into one of the small, non-corporate gas stations, she parked at the pump but hurriedly made a beeline for the restroom.  Since she learned long ago to mind her own business, she ignored the outside occupants until she overheard their words.

                “That’s her.”

                The words clicked into her head with an abnormal presentiment.  She hadn’t caught the tone and didn’t know if it was a man or woman who had spoken.  Slowly, deliberately, she turned her head to the right as she walked.  The wind whipped her hair from her face as she caught sight of them.  Suddenly, she noticed that the vast skyline was beginning its dark transition into night.  Mostly, she noticed this because the sky contrasted with the three bright, pale figures who stood propped up against a white car, watching her.  Two women, one man- in total, three renegades.  They looked like trouble.  The kind she didn’t want.  She looked towards her left just to see if they were staring elsewhere.  But she was the only one around.  A caustic snicker inadvertently trailed from her lips, quietly turning her fear into humor.  That is, until they spoke again. 

                “It’s about time she made it.”

                A bold, unfamiliar female tone followed her with the brevity of the dry, dead wind.  Those words alarmed her pulse into a singular race of more than multiple beats.  But she remained brave.  Mumbling to herself by note of their physical appearance, she joked off their strange words.

                “What supernatural tale are you from?  Vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches galore?  I’ve read them all,” she snickered.

                She walked without looking back, hoping they would disintegrate or something on their way back to some mothership.  She read enough science fiction to know that they were weird.  But she was too.  She blamed the entire situation on her imaginative paranoia. 

                Inside the decrepit restroom, she felt safe despite the lingering foul urine stench that accompanied these places.  However, she had gotten used to during this trip.  While inside her pungent safe haven, she only hoped the weirdos would have left by the time she came out.  Really, she liked to think they weren’t talking to her at all.

Despite her hopes, part of the tiny rebel club was still there when she exited.  She thought about a gun now.  But she didn’t have one.  Only pepper spray remained as her defense. 

Her eyes traveled to the left now as she walked, focusing on the blonde rebel woman’s sculpted pale face.  The woman smiled graciously at her as she passed.  Sarabel did not smile back.  It wasn’t her style.  She turned away and kept walking. 

When she turned the corner to the gas pump, she found the dark-haired woman and blonde man standing by the front of her car, studying it.  They stepped back, tucking their arms behind them as she approached.  Their beady eyes looked her over.  They looked like a pretty boy version of roughnecks for sure.  And they were trying to box her in.  They seemed to want to trap her outside.  But she couldn’t just jump in her car and take off.  Without gas, she wouldn’t make it down the street. 

Pretending to ignore them despite the trembling fear that raged in her gut, she turned away from the two to slide her credit card in the payment slot.  Her eyes glanced over to the attendant’s window.  He scarcely paid attention.  She started pumping gas, looking away from and ignoring the staring troublemakers.  But she couldn’t escape their audio.  The female’s voice cut into her dry fear.

                “You have to go back home,” the woman said.

                Sarabel’s jaw dropped open, but she quickly pulled it shut.  She looked back at this dark clothed, pale stranger and blinked rapidly.

                “Excuse me?” Sarabel asked.

                A wind picked up, blowing tumbleweeds around the parking lot.  A worrisome thought enveloped her. 

Death.  A dry, isolated decaying valley of death surrounded her.  The last streaks of sunshine in the sky had disseminated.  The woman’s face just stared at her with those piercing dark eyes.  Was she threatening her?

                “You have to go back the way you came,” the woman said.

                Sarabel snorted, a mordant sound, “Whatever,” she said.

                The pump clinked its finished warning.  Sarabel put it back in place and screwed the cap on her tank.  She looked back up at the weirdos standing around the other side of her car and accidentally, nervously dropped her keys.  As she bent to pick them up, she watched the dried husk of a large spider roll across the dirt just like the tumbleweeds in the wind.

Death.  All of a sudden, the thought was recurring.  The desert.  Leaching and depreciating, life sucking desert.

                In the seconds between bending down to pick up her keys and standing straight again, the man had moved.  Now, he was standing by her driver’s side door.  Her wary, weary eyes watched him.  Boldly, she moved around him, opening the door to get in.  In seconds, the woman appeared beside him.  Sarabel hadn’t even seen her move.  Before she could get into her car, the feminine voice stopped her, speaking strangely again.

                “Sarabel.  Your life isn’t meant to go this way.  You must go home,” she said.

                Sarabel snorted.

                “You should not know my name.  My father must have put you up to this.  Maybe my mother too.  You don’t know anything about my life so just get out of my way.  Tell my parents I said hello,” she said.

                Reluctantly, without another word, the man and woman stepped back.  But as she pulled her door shut, the man stepped forward again and leaned down, stopping right in front of her eyes.  His dark eyes stared unblinking at her.

                “The road becomes rocky that way,” he warned.

                He nodded his head towards the dirt road.  Sarabel couldn’t stand to look at his face.  It was plastic pale, white-wax museum statue-like in appearance for sure.

                “I’ll take my chances,” she replied.

                Grinding her teeth together, she zoomed out of the gas station, screeching her tires behind her.

Now terribly unsettled, she realized she hadn’t had a chance to go inside and get more coffee. 

Why were there so many weirdos on the open road? 

She needed to find a hotel room soon.  She promised her family she wouldn’t drive late at night.  They were already worried when she had set off cross-country alone.  But the benefits of starting over, of having a new and better life were worth the troubles.  And she thought of the peaceful calm of the road, of the interesting towns she had passed- Lover, Speer, Midnight, Credence- there were always so many intriguing places to go, making her wonder of the secrets in each and every town.  Everything about the open road she loved.  Everything except the weirdos.

While deep in her thoughts, the road ahead turned from dirt to black asphalt in seconds.  Simultaneously, it became rocky.  Her car leapt left and right as she struggled with the steering wheel, trying to find a balance between the two sides.  The road ahead still looked like black asphalt but as she watched, it started to crumble upward and form into round, hard black boulders.  The further forward she drove, the more her car weaved dangerously back and forth.  Panic raced all avenues of adrenaline inside of her.

                “Oh no,” she whispered.

                The road kept changing, growing upward ahead of her like mountainous doom.  Her tires felt like they were veering off in opposite directions, disruptively jarring her body back and forth.  She thought her car might break apart from the pressure at any moment.  High tension coursed its way through her body.  She reduced her speed but it didn’t matter.  The ground ahead continued to grow into round, rocky boulders that threw her car off balance. 

                The unsettling jostling coursed a panicky rage inside of her.  Her mind couldn’t completely process the fact that her eyes told her the pathway ahead kept changing.  Unable to continue forward, she pulled her car off the road, half of it still lingering on the rocky pathway.  Her chest heaved up and down with harsh breaths.  Her pounding heart and lungs yearned for controlled breathing.

                “Calm down Sarabel,” she soothed.

                She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and rested her head against the seat, practicing her breathing to a state of calm. 

                “It’s okay,” she whispered.

                Tap, tap, tap!

                Three taps against the window startled her already furious heart into an exasperated sprint. 

                “Aaahh!” she screeched.

                She looked up and gasped, her eyes staring directly into the face of the pale man from the gas station.  His face was separated from hers by only a thin piece of glass.  She noticed now that his skin seemed to have a translucent glow.  Her window was open just a few inches.  She dared not open it more.

                “Are you ready to go back on your path?” he asked.

                Sarabel masked the crippling fear in her body with anger.

                “What the hell do you want with me?  Just leave me alone!” Sarabel shrieked.

                The dark-haired woman appeared from behind him.  She craned her neck like a cobra, stretching her face out as she tried to see inside Sarabel’s vehicle.  The man moved back from the window at the same time, emulating the gracefulness of her movement but in a different direction.   

How did he know she was going to move without even looking at her?  What the hell were these people?  Lizards?  Birds?  Who knew?

Now was not the time to believe in the supernatural.  She was far too alone and vulnerable to allow them to spook her more.   

                “Go home Sarabel,” the woman said.

                Sarabel scrunched her face into a snarl and started up her car.

                “Go to hell,” she said.

                In a panicked rage, she screeched away from them and onto the road again.  The boulder road gripped her tires, making it hard to steer just like before.  She zigzagged against the empty road, then finally straightened the car out, determined to get away from these people. 

                From the spot where Sarabel’s car had just pulled out, the three figures from the gas station stood together in a small triangle.  Their language flowed in low, incoherent fast mumblings.  No human would ever be able to catch their communication.  Only one sentence came coherently at the end of their conversation.

                “She doesn’t know who she is,” the blonde whispered.

                The others looked at her before they all went back to their car.

                Sarabel maneuvered slowly along the road, dealing with the new road pattern as best as she could.  She had to find the highway soon.  Had she passed it with all of the distractions? 

Her eyes dared venture away from the road in search of signs for the life-filled highway.  A loud, groaning noise caused her to look back at the road.  Her eyes widened in surprise.  Now, instead of rising up, the ground was cratering below her.

                “Oh no, holy shit, oh no!” she screeched.

                 From the center of her vehicle, a dark rectangular hole began to carve itself into the road.  Slowly, it grew outward- equally opening up towards the left and the right as she drove.  At this rate, it would continue to grow until it swallowed her car. 

                “No!” she screeched.

The hole only grew wider.  She knew she could not veer off the ledges on either side of her tires or else the car would fall.  She could not even try to pull off the road this time.  The hole continued to grow wider and wider until her tires dangled precariously on the edge of the remaining roadway.  Fear and panic made tears stream down her eyes.

                “This isn’t supposed to happen!” she shouted.

                Her wheels were starting to lose their ledge, as the forward hole grew deeper.  Through frightened tears, she stopped the vehicle without looking behind her.  The hole no longer opened up.  Her car remained still while her panicked heart did cartwheels.  Her heavy breathing reminded her that she needed to calm down again.  Now that the car was stopped, she rested her head back again, waiting for the pulsating fear to extinguish its blaze inside of her.  She didn’t want to die.  Not like this.

                Before she could close her eyes to breathe, the same tapping noise touched against her window, scaring her into a shriek, a jump, and a gasp.  This time it was the blonde woman standing there.

                “Will you just leave me alone!” Sarabel shouted.

                The woman smiled, “You must go home,” she said.

                “Why are you doing this to me?” Sarabel shouted.

                “It is for your own good,” the woman replied.

                Behind her, Sarabel saw the others.  All of them smiled in their portentous way. 

                “You’re lying!” Sarabel shouted.

                She started the car and moved forward again, the wheels desperately gripping the grounding as it slowly disappeared beneath her. 

                “This isn’t real.  None of this is real,” she told herself.

                At that, she gunned the gas pedal, speeding forward.  But she didn’t get far.  Once the car propelled forward, the tires lurched against the sides one last unsettling time before she began to fall.  In and through the blackness the car fell downward, twisting her stomach worse than an amusement park ride.  Her screams deafened her ears to all other noise, even the swooshing of air as the car fell and fell and fell, never stopping to make impact.

                Moments later, she awakened behind the steering wheel, unaware of when she had lost consciousness.  She rubbed her eyes against the bright sunlight, squinting and searching the passenger seat for her sunglasses.  Desperately covering her eyes with the glasses, she looked out the windshield only to realize that she was not outside in the desert heat.  No, she was in a brightly illuminated room.  This didn’t make sense.  Then it started to come back to her.  It was nighttime.  And her car had fallen.   

Suddenly, Sarabel’s driver’s side door opened.  The blonde-haired woman from before stood there, holding her hand out in offering.  The arm was long and willowy, alien even, in the light.  But for some reason, Sarabel took it.  She felt calm in here.  She felt like she should obey now. 

The blonde helped her out of the seat and led her towards the light.  But she didn’t take her directly to it.  Instead, they stopped several feet away, just enough to feel the bright rays against their flesh.  Sarabel felt drawn in; she wanted to go even closer to it.  It felt so warm, so truthful, so good and so natural against her skin.  She wanted to move away from the woman, but instead held tightly to her hand.

                “Sarabel.  Do you remember what happened?” the woman asked.

                Sarabel peacefully looked at the woman and nodded, “Yes,” she said.

                “Well I want you to forget all of it and go home.  Go back home to see your family.  Sarabel, do you understand that?” she asked.

                The words seemed hypnotic, swimming into her ears like radio waves, glimmering like a slightly disrupted pond.  Sarabel knew she should agree.  In fact, some part of her began to believe it was true.  Maybe she should go home.

                “Yes,” Sarabel answered.

                The woman smiled.

                “You will go home now,” she said.

                And in an instant, Sarabel was sitting in her car on the dark road facing the opposite way she had come.  But she didn’t know why she was there.  Initially confused at her next plan, she sat there for a moment, wondering what had just happened.  All she knew was that she did not know where she was and she should go home. 

Sarabel started the car and pulled back onto the road, her mind clear of recent memories.  Once she came across a gas station, she pulled in to get coffee.  No one waited there for her this time, but with her memory wiped, she didn’t know someone had been there before.  However, once she stepped out of her car, she realized that this place looked vaguely familiar. 

                Sarabel filled up on coffee, realizing that at some point she had already gotten gas.  She realized she felt really, really tired. 

The gas station attendant looked her over, “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?” she asked.

A suspicious look danced over his face but quickly trickled away.  He smiled. 

“You just look like you could use some coffee,” he said.

His eyes grew dark and beady as she talked to him.  It was as if something foreign had entered his body.  Her defenses kicked in and she hurried out of the store.  On the way to her car, she realized there was something oddly familiar about him. 

Back in her car, she began to head home.  But she still didn’t even know where she was. 

                She drove the dark night, easily finding the highway.  The coffee tasted just as good as she expected.  After just a few sips, surprisingly, she became supremely energetic.

What time was it anyway?  She looked at the clock.  It was nearing ten in the evening. 

                She turned on the radio.  It was tuned to a news station.  The next words caught her by surprise.

                “Several reports of lights in the sky over New Mexico and Arizona for the past few days have turned out to be a hoax.  The roadway leading into Arizona is clear of those earlier reports.”

                Sarabel drew a long sip of her coffee before shutting off the radio.  She pulled off the next exit, making her way back on her path.  Suddenly, she remembered her original plan.  Somehow she had gotten herself turned around and was mistakenly heading home.  Long drives could often make the mind so weary. 

                She pulled into the town of Credence again, but, remembering the odd attendant, skipped the gas station.  The attendant saw her car and smiled from his window.  Sarabel drove on. 

Suddenly, she remembered the boulder rock road and the three odd people.  The memories continued as mere flashes that she had to put together.  Sarabel continued down this road and it did not grow, nor cave this time.  She looked left and right searching for answers to the surrounding oddities.  A vast, barren landed erupted outward for miles.  There was nothing here. 

Why would they have wanted her to turn back and go home?

                Suddenly, there was a flash in the sky, erupting like controlled lightning in a fat circle of light.  The light disappeared; the sky darkened again and something fell from the heavens.  Sarabel watched in awe, fear and confusion as a glowing, yellowish object fell and scattered to the ground, spreading out endless sparkles of yellow.  Amazed and curious, she stopped the car, pulling off to the right.  She got out and crossed the empty barren road towards the left.  She ran from the road into the landscape, oblivious to the dangers of nocturnal desert animals.  She ran and ran and ran across the field until she reached the glowing yellow-green colors.  Wet, egg-like sacs vibrated along the ground in front of her.  The gooey sacs sizzled and murmured with the stench of burning sulfur.  The liquid around the sacs began to slowly penetrate onto the ground, creating a neon pool of color.  She watched with her eyes open wide in horror, still not believing in the foreign entity that she was seeing. 

                Something jerked her by the arm, surprising her with the strong, abrupt grip that tore her away from the show.

                “I told you to go home!” she shouted.

                The blonde woman stood before her.  The man and other woman from before were behind her.  Their faces grew even sterner and they stood very quietly.  The blonde’s grip on Sarabel’s arm tightened and she closed her eyes.  When she opened them, they were terrifyingly big, round and dark, causing Sarabel to gasp at the strangeness.  Moments later, her eyes rolled normal, returning to the look of a natural human’s.  She looked behind Sarabel, her eyes focusing on the others.

                “There was a Lazizalin in the gas station.  He shifted.  Traded shapes.  He drugged her.  Something in the coffee brought back her memory,” she said.

                The man and woman behind her simultaneously snarled.  Sarabel wanted to ask, but she was terribly frightened by the still tight grip on her arm, the pale faces around her and the nest of eggs burying themselves beneath her.

                The blonde shook Sarabel’s arm and whispered solemnly, “You have no choice now.  I cannot erase your memory again.  They have identified you.”

                Sarbel’s eyes grew wide and even more terrified, “What does that mean?” she dared ask.

                “You must be one with us,” the blonde said.

                “No,” Sarabel whispered, “I don’t even know…what…you…are.”

                The blonde woman muttered unintelligibly and with rapid speech to the others behind them.  Obeying her command, the others walked away together.  The blonde turned to Sarabel now, looking into her eyes.

                “You are not a human,” she said.

Sarabel gasped.

“No, I don’t know what you’re talking about at all,” she whispered, shaking her head, unbelieving. 

The blonde tightened her grip on her arm and continued.

“You did not know that because your identity was transmitted TBF- To Be Forgotten- in order to mask you living in the world with humans.  You were never to know the truth.  That’s why we tried to send you home.  Any other person would have driven past this land- they would not have dared leave their car to see what came from the sky.  But you did.  And we tried to prevent that.  We don’t always know who came from the vessel and who was planted to live peacefully on earth.  We lost track long ago in our first wars with the Lazizalin, the most brutal alien tribe in existence.  They breached us and stole our tracking.  They are technological innovators and invaders, while our kind prefers the old fashioned way.  We try to remain peaceful and integrate with humankind in order to gain and share knowledge and information.  The Lazizalin’s prefer to conquer.  They activate their hidden humans while we try to let ours live a normal life in peace.  They want all of us exposed so that we can no longer secretly help the humans gain an intelligible advantage over conquering tribes.  You had the chance to be normal like them, Sarabel.  But you’ve lost it now,” she said, “I’m sorry.”

                A fury of emotion pillaged through Sarabel then.  Tears fluttered through her eyelashes.

                “No!  That’s not true!  It’s just not true!  What about my parents?” Sarabel asked.

                “They are one with us as well.  But you mustn’t tell them that.  Let them live the life you can no longer have,” she said.

                “No!” Sarabel shouted, “It isn’t true!”

                In an instant, Sarabel’s clothing changed into a protective, dark suit just like the ones the others wore.  Before Sarabel could process the change, the other woman and man were upon them again.  The man held out his hand in introduction.

                “I am Qlerite,” he said, the sound rolling off his tongue with an advanced Spanish-like accent, “We are of the Marazins.”

                He placed his fingers on her temples.  A buzzing pulse shot through her head, rolling her eyes back and widening them.  Once he removed his hands, her eyes returned to normal.  He stepped back and the dark-haired woman stood in front of Sarabel now.  Words rolled quickly from her tongue in another language, but Sarabel suddenly understood them.

                “I am Neferte,” she said.

                She held out her hand.  Sarabel took it.  Now the blonde came into the picture again.

                “Amorphine,” she said.

                She shook her hand as well.  The sky exploded into a fat lightning-like pulse again.  All of them looked up, watching the sky darken just before the same yellow-green droppings burst forth.  Amorphine looked back at Sarabel.  Sarabel met her gaze.

                “You wanted a change,” she commented.

                Sarabel said nothing.

                “You have a new life now,” Amorphine continued, “We must protect these eggs until the first rainfall so that they may assimilate with the natural earth.  We are an organic species, while the Lazizalins are oftentimes synthetically composed.  These eggs will grow furtively on their own.  These are new soldiers.  They come differently than you and I.  Because we too once thought we were human before the Lazizalins exposed us.  We were once just human people with families and love.  That’s why we tried to stop you from this fate.  But the Lazizalins will always want to ruin the peace we try to instill.  They want to ruin our lives one by one.  They thrive on war.  And we must stop them before more of us are forced to suffer.”

                Sarabel began to think about it.  Minutes ago, she might have cried.  But suddenly, she felt as if a lost part of her was suddenly filled.  She felt whole again and as if she didn’t have to search the world for some missing piece.  In fact, she no longer felt terrified either.  Now, she felt as if she knew what to do. 

Centuries of her real history passed into her mind.  It was a different history, one that had been displaced all her life but now, was reawakened.

                Qlerite moved towards her, and her perception of him changed.  He was no longer frightening to her.  Now, his face was closer to a beautiful stone-like carving than that of a frighteningly unnatural foe.

                “We are at war.  Are you ready?” he asked.

                Sarabel nodded her head.  Surprisingly, she was more ready than she had ever been before.


Created September 20, 2009





Final Moon

(Preface + Chapter 1)






            The perfect sphere of a moon hung low and bright.  A white ray emanated forward, illuminating crimson splashes on a young boy’s pale, porcelain cheeks.  Thinner streaks of blood darkened as it dried, while thicker spots dripped from his small, delicate mouth.  Every movement smeared the putrid liquid more until it spread along the edges of his lips in simulation of a thrill-seeking clown. 

This animated, blood-painted image quietly screamed of injustice beneath dark, wild and bloodshot eyes.  All signs of his physical being were entranced, bewitched and accursed by the full moon.

            Deep, adrenaline filled breaths caused the small boy’s chest to heave up and down.  As he growled, his body rumbled and vibrated with each thunderous breath.

Abruptly, the boy stood from his hunting crouch and snarled even louder into the air, disrupting the natural waves of the world.  The sound rippled through his chest, causing nocturnal animals to stop with fright.  The boy’s eyes darted wildly across the woods.  His ears honed in on even the minutest sounds of the senses.  Noises betrayed those senses, as he struggled to ascertain the distance in which the sounds haunted his ears. 

But his kill was over for the night. 

            The moon moved into the backdrop of a still dark sky, which was slowly lightening, threatening to lose its beauty of light to the shrieking sky of dawn.  And slowly, he began to normalize.  The young boy grew calm.  His body smoothed out as he steadied himself straight.  His inquisitive face peered at the moon one last time.

The darkness slowly left his eyes and his oversensitive senses evened out.  His body fell from its stiffened position.  Deliberate relaxation sifted through his bones.  Once again, he was nearly as normal as any other human boy.

            His human side instantly felt panicked now and disoriented in the dark.  Slowly and with dread, he looked down at his hands, simultaneously raising them from his sides.  Streaks of blood shimmered in the remaining moonlight, dancing threatening alert into his every movement. 

He became cognizant of the sticky sensation encrusted across his lips and brushed the back of his hand across his mouth.  Thick, dark red liquid stared back at him.  Anxious fear trickled into his body, traveling quickly through his bones.  His heart beat in rapid succession, racing his pulse with a new adrenaline.  A dreadful fear released itself into his system.  As he looked around him, he wondered…


What had he killed this time?




Chapter 1


1952 East Indies


            Kerosene lamps creaked with their owners’ movement through the deep jade hues of the jungle.  Night was beginning to fall into the edges of their world, casting blinding shadows across their eager onward path.  Flashlights seared the night on all sides, these dim lights offering a mere glimpse of the surrounding wild green grass.  Soldiers cut at the grass, clearing a path into a desolate destination.  Behind them, cameramen dashed forward with dreary gray film, hoping to capture any image of importance.  Tired, hungry and worn soldiers continued forward despite the desperate darkness that clung to all edges of the twilight.

            But not all of those involved in this group were trained, resilient soldiers.  Dr. Kita, a wealthy archaeologist from Hungary, led this expedition through the swampy jungle.  His alleged interests lay in finding the lost Merak tribe of Java.  But his determination to pulse forward seemed more like a death wish than a recovery mission.  Still, the men pushed forward despite their weariness.  After all, the pay was good for such a deep mission.

            With miles of hiking through dangerous and treacherous pathways, many opted for silence as preservation of energy.  Without voices to occupy the audible sound of space, the only noises around them were those of the rustling, creaking lamps, the path of grass being cut, the sounds of heavy breathing and a few scarce crickets chirping their repetitive nightly songs. 

After many hours into the hike, Dr. Kita’s exhilaration was no match for his body’s weariness.  He knew the others would need rest as well.  He stopped along the side of a clearing and pulled a canteen from his belt.  Before taking a drink, he looked around at those who had stopped in tune to his movement. 

Dr. Kita’s eyes circled the crowd, trying to figure out what was on their minds.  Whispers at the back of the crowd caught his attention.  Some of the men gossiped and whispered about talk of cannibalism in the area.  He caught a glimpse of the tension and fear in some of the soldiers’ eyes.  Tensions ran high, fevering their minds and worrying their eyes.  If only they knew of the real threat in these parts. 

Something about Dr. Kita’s expression seemed to quiet them.  Perhaps it was the darkness, his weariness, or maybe the haunting duplicity in his eyes.  Either way, all eyes turned to look at him.  Dr. Kita nodded. 

“We’ll stop here and rest for a few.  Take ten,” he muttered.

Dr. Kita turned towards his favored soldier Lt. Jack Wagner.  Wagner was one of the best survivors, hunters and soldiers ever known.  His medals and awards superceded even those of his superiors despite the fact that he was half their age.  Dr. Kita had chosen this crew very carefully.  But none were as important as Wagner. 

Before Dr. Kita could speak, a light flashed out suddenly, catching his eye, seeming to focus directly on him.  The crew he paid to film this expedition honed in, watching from behind a false lens.  Initially, it worried him to allow such indiscretion here.  But if they encountered what he expected to, the camera would carry on his work. 

Dr. Kita felt a bit of guilt creep in. 

Should he have gone into detail of these dangers?  Sure, he had warned the others that this could be a life or death mission but he hadn’t told them everything. 

If only…

He realized he should have told them.  But now, it was just too late.  Dr. Kita shook the guilt away, remembering the human condition.  For all men, there was a price that could be paid. 

He turned uneasily to Wagner.  However, before he began to speak, he glanced at the camera again and formed his words into a whisper.  Some part of him hoped no one else would know the truth.  His attention went back to Wagner.

“Have you checked…how are the rations?” he asked. 

Wagner looked uneasily at the camera and then down at his boot, trying to kick off some of the mud layered thick across the bottom.  He looked into Dr. Kita’s wrinkled, dark face and shook his head.  His eyes moved back to his boot before answering with a hint of shame in his voice.

“Only enough left for about half the men,” he whispered.

Dr. Kita looked away from the younger man, blankly staring off into the jungle.  He shook his head and then turned to look at the group, suddenly taking note of their lethargy.  Dr. Kita scratched his head and turned back to Wagner.

“I don’t understand how this could happen.  We came very well prepared.  How could we be running out of food already?” he asked.

Wagner shook his head but offered no answer.  The coldness of Dr. Kita’s voice shook him alert.

“Well then…cut the rations in half.”

Wagner shook his head with shock.  He abruptly stared into the face of the older man, studying him. 

“No.  I can’t do that,” he said, his voice rising, “Sir, the men are beyond exhausted.  Now you want to cut their rations?  Sir, with all due respect, this is not what I signed up for.  I can’t do that to these men.”

Wagner’s bold face continued to stare into his new opponent’s eyes.  But Dr. Kita didn’t waver.  His dark eyes gleaned with cold indifference.

“Just do it!” he shouted.

Wagner shook his head and, in a hastened huff, hurried past Dr. Kita.  Muttering to himself in an agitated manner, Dr. Kita turned away from the group.

“Eight days on Java and no sight, no clue of it.  It’s as if it doesn’t really even exist,” he said.

Dr. Kita moved his head from left to right as if searching for something.  Suddenly, he clapped his hands together as if awaking himself from a dream.

            “All right!  Let’s move out!  We should be getting close!  Let’s go!” he shouted.

            Mild grumbles circulated through the crowd, but the group gathered themselves and shifted forward.  With the lanterns creaking as constant conversation, they continued through the growing darkness that ate away all visibility.

The camera crew marched in between soldiers as if they were there just to protect them.  With the camera, the anxious young men panned the scene from left to right as they walked, searching for an active interruption of the monotony.  But nothing unordinary stirred in the swampy jungle in which they toiled. 

Time passed with the natural dullness of the night hike.  But just seconds before they thought to shut the cameras down, excitement erupted through the crowd like an audible set of dominos.  Jumbled and frightened voices rose ahead of the group.  The cameramen jolted forward just in time to capture blurred images of the soldiers, who had stopped in their tracks.  The camera searched desperately through the mixed medley of voices for the source of excitement.  Some of the men further ahead shrieked in terror.  But only a few louder voices could be deciphered amongst the frightened fury. 

            “It’s a dead body!” one shrieked.

            “What’s left of it…” someone muttered.

            “It smells awful, so foul!” one shouted.

            “What on earth happened to it?” another shouted.

            The men covered their noses with the backs of their arms.  Others turned away, repulsed and gagging at the sight.  The cameramen continued to push past the men, catching glimpses of partially covered faces, the backs of arms, shoulders and more as they pulsed forward, seeking the excitement source.  Once they reached the front of the line, the camera lens zoomed in on the dead body lying there.

At least what was left of it. 

The entire husk of the body looked ground into pieces like raw hamburger.  Dried blood painted most of it, caking over slight bits of remaining flesh.  Whole pieces of intact flesh were unordinary additions to the corpse.  The skull was nearly crushed in half as if a bullet had gone through the back of his head.  The slight clothing on the local tribesman was mere remnants, just as rippled and mangled as his flesh.

From above, the cameramen filmed Dr. Kita kneeling next to the body, pointing down at him from behind and capturing just him and the body in the frame.  Dr. Kita was oblivious to the filming, entranced by the piece of evidence in front of him.  He whispered to himself as though astounded by the visual.

            “Ripped completely to shreds,” he said.

The cameraman zoomed in on the body more, cutting Dr. Kita out of the shot for closer examination.  The face of the body was slightly blurry in the frame, yet obviously and frighteningly clawed beyond recognition.  The victim’s shirt was ripped all the way off his chest, displaying matching endless vertical claw marks like the ones that had destroyed the face.  Flies buzzed over the body, breaking free and hissing obnoxious sounds, while making their way around the crowd of voyeurs. 

Chuck, the main cameraman, shrieked in excitement at the onset of action and discovery.

“Holy shit!”

Next to him, his partner Morty grew excited too.

“Now that’s award-winning footage,” Morty said.

But Dr. Kita’s excitement was merely internal and came mixed with fright.  This was the first clue to that which he sought.  The voices around him were near non-existent in comparison to the drumbeat in his head.  Now, a choice had to be made.  And it was a hard one at that.

Above him, the cameramen continued to film the body.  Dr. Kita pulled a rubber glove from his pocket, snapping it across his fingers.  Gently, he turned the nearly decapitated head to the side.  Large bite marks were hidden near the back of the neck.  Dr. Kita looked closer.  Based on the rate of decay, the body had been there for several weeks at most.  Dr. Kita let go of the head and took off the glove.  He shook his head in disbelief.  Wagner watched him intently, knowing there was more.  Men behind him voraciously whispered.

The cameramen strayed from the body.  They swung the camera behind them, searching for reactions from the expedition.  Most of the men were wide-eyed and fidgeting nervously.  Many stayed away from the body, glimpsing it from afar and not daring to come closer. 

A shaky, accented voice spoke up, the trembling sound not nearly as powerful of a realization as his words.

“It’s cursed.  This place is cursed,” he said.

Dr. Kita turned and looked around then, staring blankly at the men.  His mind remained in another place.  He looked up at the sky with wonder.

“It is too dark now to continue,” he said, “We’ll make camp here.”



Copyright © 2011


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