This Devil Doesn’t Lie

man_baby

Clare flopped down on her bed with her arms spread wide and her legs dangling over the edge. A black cat jumped forward and curled up on the pillow, nearly blanketing Clare’s face. With a nudge, Clare pushed the shorthaired feline aside. “Hey, you, pillow-stealer!”

The cat blinked, yawned expansively, and then laid its head back on the pillow.

After slapping the light panel off, Clare nudged the cat to the side and wiggled contentedly under a thick blanket. “Ah, nothing like a well-deserved rest after a long, hard day’s work.” She closed her eyes, murmuring, “Nothing you’d know anything about.”

Only a faint moonlight shone through the window, illuminating the sharp edges of her dresser and a couple wall pictures. With the pleasant sensation of drifting into dreamland, Clare’s lips curled into a contented smile.

“Clare.”

Clare sat bolt upright. She knew she had heard a sound, her name, but who— She blinked and swallowed, her mouth half open. Peering over the sleeping cat, she braced herself. Nothing. She frowned. Her eyes scoured the darkened room as she tensed for the slightest noise. Silence. With a shake, she gripped the blanket and pulled it tight around her shoulders and lay back down.

It took a little time to release the tension in her body, but soon her muscles relaxed, and she felt a comforting drowsiness claiming her.

“Clare, I must speak with you.”

Shooting like a star across the room, Clare was in her robe and slippers before the cat could slip out the door. She swiped her Dustbuster off the dresser and held it firmly with both hands, aiming at the door. “Who are you?”

A long, weary sigh floated like a ghostly scent through the room.

Clare twirled like a ballet dancer, nearly falling off balance. “What the hell?”

“You’ve forgotten me? I’m affronted. Saddened, actually. I thought seeing me in person would forever sear me into your memory.”

Clare lowered the weapon as her formerly pink face blanched of all color. She slapped at the light panel, illuminating the room. “Damn you!”

“I certainly hope not. Unkind, Clare, very unkind!”

“Show yourself!”

Omega appeared in the center of the room. He stood, dressed like an ordinary Newearth human in loose fitting, black pants, a light blue sweater, and brown loafers. He lifted his arms and twirled like a model on a showcase runway. “Like it? The very epitome of ordinary. I’m trying to blend in, you see.”

Clare raised the Dustbuster again. “Why are you here?”

Omega snapped his fingers and the Dustbuster instantly rematerialized as a stuffed animal—a pink and purple giraffe. “Please, stop playing ridiculous games. I have very little time, and I have a score to settle with you.”

Clare stared at the stuffed animal, her eyes widening. She threw it against the wall and glared at Omega. “A score with me? I should be the one—”

“Yes, of course! You made it quite clear in the courtroom, before my nearest and dearest, what you thought of me. A devil you called me. You have no idea, Clare, really, no idea at all.”

Pressing her hands together, as if to hold them back from spontaneous combustion, Clare shook her head. “You play with us like toys.” She glanced at the stuffed animal that now lay forlornly in the corner.

Omega huffed. “Because you don’t understand, you lie about me. How human! I simply won’t stand for it any longer. Why do you hate me? Or rather, why do you think you hate me?”

Clare’s breathing rose and fell in shuddering gasps. “You—killed—my—parents! And then you wanted to analyze my suffering—”

“Lies, lies and more lies. I did nothing of the sort. On the contrary, I saved your life. Your parents died of poisoned stew, true, but to be quite honest, I don’t know who poisoned them. But I did realize that someone intended to wipe out your whole family, so I went out of my way to make certain that you were safe. I watched over you like a devoted father hen.” Omega paused, one eyebrow rising.”I’m not sure that works.” He shrugged. “Anyway, when I asked you questions, it was to get to the bottom of the mystery—to protect you.”

Clare stood rooted to the floor. A flush spread over her cheeks. “It can’t be. You never cared.”

“I always cared.”

“No!”

Omega stamped his foot. “I don’t have time for this! I have to leave soon, and I have a request to make.”

Clare stared stone still and silent.

Omega stepped closer, his gaze boring into Clare’s. “Watch over Justine and the child. That silly idiot named her Aurora. How cliché. Like some Disney film. Oh well, I didn’t endow Max with the creative talent I offered Justine—poor fellow. In any case, I’ll soon be—how shall I say—indisposed for a time.”

Clare stepped forward. “But there’s trouble coming, something called Cosmos is on the loose—”

“Yes, I’ve heard. Unpleasant, but then biological life is always perilous. Ask the Bhuaci, they know.”

“But I can’t protect Justine or anyone, not against Cosmos.”

Omega laughed. “By the Divide! I never expected that. I want you to protect them from each other.”

“What?”

Omega looked up as if listening to an unseen alarm. “Time’s up. I must be going. Remember what I said. I saved you once, now save my family. After all, it’s only fair.”

In a blink of blinding light, Omega disappeared.

Clare found herself standing in the middle of a silent room. The cat meandered back onto the pillow and settled in for a contented slumber. Clare stumbled over to the edge of the bed. Her gaze slid to the multicolored giraffe in the corner. She snatched it off the floor. Tossing it on the bed, it landed peacefully next to the cat.  Clare shrugged. “Go ahead; you two sleep. I surely never will.”

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Save Our People From Despair

faye

Despair is an ugly thing. When my mother sent me away after the invasion—little did she dream of what she exiled me to—hopeless dread and futile guilt. With her hands, she pushed me away, yet with her heart, she clung to me.

“Come back when you can; save us if you can. But at least one Bhuac must survive. And it must be you!”

I did as she demanded. I took the transport on docking bay one-one-four and headed out into the universe and away from certain Bhuaci destruction. I was protected only by a gruff, Ingot merchant named Buford, who needed someone to blame when things went wrong, which, with his clumsy skills, they often did. I accepted every menial job: collating orders, checking the ship’s inventory, noticing when things went missing, and even tracking down a guilty thief once. I was a Bhuac of all-work-and-no-play and served in every role imaginable, servant, advisor, director, detective, even guard on occasion. Being a shape-shifter, I could cover my quaking insecurities with hulking forms and menacing fangs.

But I never played the part I longed to return to—Faye, a gentle, beloved daughter. Even as a friend I would have felt some satisfaction. But Buford was not interested in friends. He was interested in units, the more the better. Profit was his closest kin.

Then one day we headed toward a planet I had never been to, a rising star on the horizon, called Newearth. Buford told me its colorful history, the demise of Oldearth, the Luxonians’ protection, the Cresta invasion, the Inter-Alien Alliance Commission. Something in me stirred for the first time in uncounted cycles. I longed to visit this new horizon, but Buford changed his mind, and we veered toward the Divide and a greater profit margin.

I waited.

Then a new opportunity struck. A traveler boarded—a hidden figure who merely said that he was heading to Newearth. His name was Gabriel. He appeared human, as I did on most occasions, but I sensed he was Bhuaci, like me. Knowing our own planet’s desolation and our sister planet’s demise, I could understand his desire for secrecy.

Gabriel paid Buford well to take him to Newearth. My imagination stirred, dead hopes rekindled, but I could not break free of my employer. How could I? I had no one to turn to, nowhere to go.

As we approached Newearth, Gabriel tossed a satchel he always carried over his shoulder and offered Buford his final payment. Buford held out his datapad, tapping his foot. He had contacted a Cresta merchant who was to meet him on the other side of the planet. I stood by, watching, an unnamed grief wringing my soul. Then Gabriel surprised us both.

“Here, that should cover all costs.”

Buford glanced at the data-pad ready to pass it to me when his eyes widened, and he pulled it close and read it again. “What’s this? Trying to play some kind of game?”

Gabriel’s brows furrowed. “I never play games.”

“But it’s too much, by half or more. We agreed on twenty-five and this here’s near fifty. You’re Interventionist, aren’t you? Trying to catch me out! Well, it can’t be done, I’m an honest—”

Gabriel waved Buford’s concerns away. “Nothing of the sort. It’s just that I plan on taking your hired help with me. She’ll be quite useful on Newearth, and you’ll find another—”

“Not one as good! By the Divide, I’m not letting her go. She’s going with me to—”

Gabriel faced me and bid me come closer. I was in my favorite fairy-like form, lithe with large, almond eyes and shining, golden hair. I stepped nearer, hardly daring to breathe. Gabriel smiled down at me and clasped my hand. “You’re one of our own. So few of us left.” He turned to Buford. “If you don’t release her, I’ll charge you with enslaving a Bhuaci against her will. I happen to know someone on the Inter-Alien Alliance Com—”

“Take her, then! Good riddance. I only hired her for pity’s sake. She’s so timid and all. You’ll find that out.” He looked slyly out of the corner of his eyes. “And when you tire of her, send her back. I’m too soft, I know, but I’d hate to see her come to ruin on some dirty street.”

With a nod, Gabriel led me toward the debarkation tube. I had nothing to carry with me, so I accepted his direction and started away. I only looked back once. Buford had turned away.

When we arrived on the Newearth Main Street, I was overwhelmed by the bright, bustling energy all around. This was like no planet I had ever seen before. I thought my heart would burst with excitement. Gabriel continued to hold my hand as we scurried across the street and up to a tall building with large, gleaming windows.

I stared up at the brilliant structure set against the blazing, blue sky. “Where are we going?”

“Home. Temporary of course, but it will do until you become accustomed to your new role.”

My gaze dropped from the building to Gabriel’s face. “My role?”

Gabriel bent down at my side. “The one your mother assigned you—savior of Bhuaci.” As the sun beat down upon his golden head, a light shone in my eyes. I could barely see him, but I never forgot his words. “I’m your mother’s friend and your friend too. Your family sent me. I’ve been searching all these years. Now, finally, you will save our people from despair.”

My eyes filled with tears. I had a friend, a home, and a mission, too. But who would save me from despair?

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Hope’s Embrace: A Bhuaci Poem

bhuachiwomanpoem

Sisters—linking arms amid the crashing seas-breeze waves—laughing as we fell,

For we knew no fear in our homeland—there we did happily dwell.

Hope ever sprouted,

Love never doubted.

When invaders destroyed our youth and ships to far stars were sent,

Still, our hearts beat true to love—to our faith’s content.

You on board, shivering and afraid,

Me, left behind to protect the homeworld, where I stayed.

Long years passed and messages did tell of new homes fair,

I wish I’d been with you and every adventure shared.

But my content was in knowing you were free,

For enduring great danger here, never safe were we.

Strange silence then ensued and fearful the cause we pursued.

No words can describe the loss—an entire planet laid waste.

Only dead rocks floating in space—a home—myriad dreams erased.

So sister now, only memory serves to fill the aching void,

Where once we played and with our lives enjoyed.

But somber truth teaches—even in heavy loss we endure,

To strengthen that which is beyond any mortal cure.

My daughter now I send—to far distant stars to seek,

Our salvation in a future none yet can hope to speak.

My child, cling fast to the dream that held us in its sway,

The joys and laughter that brighten youth’s holy, every-day.

For there is no salvation found apart from the dreams that dwell,

Safely in the hearts of those who know how to love so well.

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Lugg the Mighty and the Oskilth Civil War

planet-581239__340

*Cresta: A techno-organic race from the planet Crestar with long, soft bodies, tentacles, and large, watery eyes. They speak in a synthesized voice, and their large “brain sack” lays hidden behind a spiral shell. They wear breathing helms when not on their own water-based planet.Cresta Research Laboratory for Advanced Security

*Ingot: A cyborg race from the planet Ingilium that wears bulky techno-organic armor and breather helms built directly into their bodies.

~~~

Lugg leans over a tray of medical-type instruments.

A fellow Cresta lumbers over and taps him with a tentacle.

“Lugg? Lugg!”

“Oh? Yes. Can I help you?”

“It’s time to eat. You coming?”

“Already?”

“Yes, Lugg. Please, you’ll wither away to nothing if you keep working like this.”

“Heh, heh… I doubt that. But, well… I guess you’re right. Here, let me just—”

“Put it down Lugg, or I’ll be forced to call for help.”

“Yes, yes. I’m coming…”

Lugg and his companion shuffle down a long grey tunnel on cushioned flipper-like feet, their tentacles sway at their sides.

A large well-stocked pool behind a thick glass wall swirls with murky sea vegetation and swimming creatures.

Three other Crestas flip their heads out of the water and grin down at the two.

“Come in and feast a while.”

Lugg’s companion climbs up a ladder and leans over the pool, his eyes glowing in anticipation. He darts a glance back at Lugg.

“Aren’t you coming?”

Lugg stares at a fish swimming in the murky depths; he heaves a sigh and turns around.

“Hey! Come back! You’ll die if you don’t eat.”

Lugg lumbers away.

~~~

A huge Ingot lays slumped on the laboratory floor. Lugg holds a flexible disk in his tentacle, aimed at the Ingot. His Cresta companion stares at him through, wide, amazed eyes.

“I never knew you had it in you, Lugg. For such a pacifist, that was quite a move. I thought he’d wreck the place.”

“Don’t be silly. I’m always prepared for invaders. I’ve been working on this weapon for years.”

“You? Create a weapon? I thought you were working on a new breathing mask. You can’t even eat meat. Your vegetables are served cold—on a plate for darkness sake—and far from their natural environment.”

Lugg holds up the disk and grins, though his eyes remain soft and serious.

“This is the most effective weapon ever created. When this Ingot awakes, he’ll feel weak for hours, and all aggression will have left his body. He won’t want to fight.”

“You have altered his—”

“Brain activity. He’ll be useless as a fighter for months, even years, and he certainly won’t come here again. If we use this weapon judiciously, neither will any others. All wars will end.”

“How? I mean; I’m stunned. When did you discover that this…this thing worked?”

“Right after I tried it on myself.”

~~~

Universal Reports:

OSKILTH WAR AT AN END

The island of Oskilth has finally been subdued through the use of the Mighty Lugg Stinger. Unfortunately, the Taser’s mind-altering abilities affected so many active Cresta soldiers that the Crestar governing body, Ingal, has decreed that the Mighty Lugg Stinger is too dangerous to remain in existence.

The scientist behind the mighty invention was ordered to destroy it, but apparently, he and the Tasor have both disappeared…

~~~

A young Cresta enters a small, dim, hole-in-the-wall laboratory.

“Lugg? Sir? Are you here?”

“Lugg shuffles forward from a dark corner and meets the youth.”

“Hmmm? Can I help you?”

“Oh, hi, sir. I live down the hall. My mother sent me over to give this to you. It’s cold sea-pie. We heard that it’s something you like. She just wants to thank you.”

Lugg’s large, luminous, green eyes gleam in the dim light. “Me? Why?”

“Well, my brother was slated for the next trip to Oskilth. He’s of age and was set to fight—”

“Ah, yes. So many were sent over….”

“Well, now, since the war is over, he’s being sent to Cresta Labs for adaptive technologies…something to do with making better breathing masks.”

“Honorable service. I’m happy for him.”

“Anyway, mother’s real glad, and I am too. Maybe things will be different when I am of age.”

“I hope so. But you know…I’m not really here.”

“Yes of course. Mother figured it out, but she’ll keep your secret safe. Do you have the Mighty Lugg Stinger still?

“It was stolen.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“Don’t be. Sometimes things need to be stolen.”

“Really? I never…. Well, I better go. Mother said to tell you that she’s sorry you have to leave.”

“It was a small price to pay.”

“Enjoy the pie. Bye.”

Lugg watches the youth lumber away. He stares at the pie, grins, and then lumbers back to his worktable. He lays the pie down next to a new, very different looking weapon.

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Horizon Line

Human Remnant living on Lux: Year 34 after leaving OldEarth

Ooohh, feeling kinda ancient today… If I close my eyes, I can almost smell oranges, honeysuckle, and Kendra’s perfume…

“Hey, Doctor Mike.”

I have to block the glare from my eyes to see the silhouette of a young man standing before me.

“Hmmm? Peter?”

“Thought I might find you out here.”

“Step into the shade; I can hardly see you. Sun’s so blasted bright.”

“You’re not wearing your sunshields.”

“I’m sorta old for those things. Feel like a kid trying to look cool.”

“May I sit?”

I glance at the cave-like hollow I have nestled from the sweeping branches of the mammoth tree and grin.

“Sure, the shade’s for everyone. You know, this tree is nearly twenty thousand years old.”

“Pretty impressive.”

“About the only thing around here that makes me feel young, except every dang Luxonian alive.”

“That why you like this spot?”

“Yeah, and the fact that few people like to hang out under the Luxonian sun, except Luxonians, and they don’t usually sit on the ground under a spreading Niomi Tree.”

He’s shifting around, eyes darting. He’s got something to say but….

“What’s on your mind, Peter? You didn’t come all the way out here to spend time with an old man—”

“You’re not the only one getting old!”

Uh oh, his face just contorted into bitter ridges of rage, not something I’d expect from his usual cool, collected personality.

“Okay, let it out. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. That’s the problem. Mom and Dad always hoped I’d make it back to Earth someday but that’s not—”

“Resettlement will happen. Just give it time.”

He’s on his feet again. Hmm, I didn’t think there was room to pace like a raging bull in here. Guess I was wrong.

“Time has passed! We’ve been stuck on this planet for almost forty years. How long is it going to take before the Luxonian Judges deem us fit to return?”

“You’ve got to remember, a lot went wrong at the end. The entire Luxonian population carries vivid, grievous memories of those days. They don’t want the whole cycle start over again.”

“Who are they to decide my fate? I belong on my native planet. It’s my right!”

“Slow down, boy. Listen to me; Mark and Jackie were two of the greatest human beings I ever knew, but they also had a blind spot when it came to humanity. They refused to see our dark side.”

Now he’s staring at me like I’m a traitor. Can’t be helped.

“Like Luxonians don’t have a dark side!”

“We all do. But we don’t like to face it. You know all the old stories, but I rarely talked about my old friend and colleague, Doctor Peterson.”

“You mentioned him.”

“Yeah, but I never mentioned that he fell into madness before the end.”

Flinging his body to the ground, poor guy’s covering his eyes with his hands. He is so human. Refreshing after so many years of perfect Luxonian self-control.

“You’re not helping. I want to get back. It’s…I don’t know, a calling, a need.”

“You will. I firmly believe that. I wish I could go with you…but that’s not gonna happen.”

“You could—”

“Heck, Peter, I’m seventy…something. Luxonian years mess with my timeline. My life has been full to the brim, and I’m not complaining, but I know when my horizon line is drawing close. I won’t live to see Newearth. But you will.”

“When?”

“When the time is right. Now stop grumbling and help an old man to his feet. I’ve got something to show you.”

Groan. Maybe I’m closer to eighty….

“Where’re we going?”

“I’ve got a surprise. Cerulean’s been helping me.”

“What?”

“Boy, don’t you know the meaning of the word—surprise?”

~~~

We just entered my inner sanctum. Okay, it’s my hobby room. I stride (hobble?) over to my worktable strewn with various plans, stand tall (let an old man dream) and spread my arms wide.

“Now listen. When I pass on, I want you to unveil this on the day they lay me in the ground. On Newearth.”

I wave the holographic image into the room. It’s every bit as gorgeous as the idea I carried around in my head for so long.

“Surprised?”

Judging by the wide eyes, dropped jaw, and shaking hands, I guess my surprise had the desired effect.

“Doctor Mike! By the Eternal, when? How?”

“I told Cerulean some time back that I had an idea for the first settlement on Newearth. He was kind enough to humor me.  I’m not a holographic specialist, but he has a few friends, and we worked on this model for a looong time…. It’s been a labor of love.”

“It’s terrific! Everything looks perfect to scale. It’s got hospitals, schools, a business district…even a hilltop— What’s that?”

“It’s idea, a sort of dream really, an Inter-Alien Alliance where humanity would have our Capitol and aliens could come and petition for representation on Earth.”

“It kinda looks like a church.”

“Well, it’s supposed to represent something bigger than us…something nearly supernatural. You can hardly understand how sheltered humanity was from the greater universe. I suppose we still are. We’ll never be done discovering how much we don’t know.”

“But—”

“It’s not a place of worship, but a place to remember and act like beings with vision…beings who still have a lot to learn.”

“I’m…I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say that you’ll do as I ask. Bury me there, in Newearth soil, and unveil this plan. Cerulean’s been working with the Supreme Judges and they’re close…very close. In fact, I believe that your son will be born there.”

“Huh! If I ever have a son. No woman will have me.”

“That little Miss Violet has eyes for you.”

“She has eyes for every male this side of the Luxonian Divide.”

“Then there’s that shy Rose…she’s a sweet thing.”

“She’s not interested in—”

“Listen, Peter, you’re going to have to do some of the heavy lifting here. I’m an old man; I can’t do everything. Here’s your first settlement. Name it whatever you wish, just bury me there and get yourself a wife so you can bring your son to the top of that hill and tell him about me… Okay?”

Tears course down my cheeks, but I don’t care. I’m an old man. And old men do foolish things, dream visions and ask for the impossible…after all…our horizon line draws near.

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

Rain from a Cloudless Sky

Breathe. In…out….

Savor the sensation.

Oh, God, how do humans stand it? So many sensations all at once. The warm sun on the face, the chill breeze as it rolls over the skin, the sound of laughter, the scent of… What is that? Fried chicken? Yes, that’s what Father called it. Fried chicken. Hmmm.    

I wish Father hadn’t left. I know what he thinks; I depend on him too much. But being here alone… It’s strange. Humanity is strange. Heck, the whole dang planet is strange.

Better get used to it. Life’s profession and all.

Breathe.

Okay, Jacob, you can’t see me, but I’m watching you. I’m a Luxonian Guardian now, and I’m going to stick to you like… glue? Humans come up with the oddest expressions!

Uh, ho. No… You’re not supposed to be doing that…

~~~

“Ma?”

“Jacob?”

“I’m here, Ma. I just wanted to see you.”

“Oh, Jacob. You’re not supposed to. Go, on. I’ll be all right. Go home…”

“You’re not all right. You’re sick. I want to help.”

Silence.

“No one can help me now, honey. I can’t lie to a smart boy like you. You gotta accept. Go home.”

“Not without you… without Pa… Janie…”

“Don’t! I wish I could… God, the pain—”

“Ma!”

Shuffling feet. A clucking tongue…

“Hmmm, huh! Come on, boy. Your mother needs rest. Let her go. You’ll do her no good here.”

“But Ma!”

~~~

Breathe.

I can feel tears aching to free themselves from behind my eyes. God, how do they stand it? I suffered when my mother passed, but it was different. Our suffering is different. Too many sensations here. My head aches, my stomach’s churning with bile, I feel shivery…

Yeah, Father… I remember what you said. Light beings are different. It’s not so painful for us. I have to relax, accept. Their suffering informs them. It’s part of them.

Breath. In. Out.

Father, I wish you’d stayed.

Uh, oh…. Jacob? What’re you doing now? A letter? Well, that’s good…I hope.

~~~

Dear Uncle Matthew,

I appreciate your offer, but I realize now—it’d be wrong. I can’t help you. First baby Jane, then Pa, and now Ma. I can’t do this. The trip west was supposed to give us a new chance…but now… I’m alone. I don’t care anymore. California might be everything you say, but it doesn’t matter…not to me.

Someone could’ve helped us. But no one did. Only one old lady gave Ma a place to die. And afterward, she told me to find my own place. She has troubles enough.

Life’s too hard—

Jacob

~~~

Sniffling. A sharp click.

“Jacob?”

A chair falls over. Scurrying footsteps.

“Who the—? Where’d you come from? The door was locked!”

“Stop, Jacob. I know you can’t understand but don’t do it. It’s not over. You’re not over. You’re only fifteen—”

“Don’t move. I’ll shoot, swear to God I will.”

“If you shoot, I’ll just return later. Listen, Jacob, my name’s Cerulean. I’m from another world… I can’t explain, but I’ve been sent here to…how do I say…to watch over you…”

“An angel?”

Thud.

“Get off your knees, Jacob. No, not an angel. A being—not so different from you. I’m from Lux, another planet. But, listen— Here, sit down. Are you going to faint?”

“No. Maybe….”

“Breathe. Take a deep breath. It always helps me.”

“Yeah…I feel a little better. So you’re—”

“A friend. Now, put that gun away. Better yet. Let me have it.”

“What’ll you do with it?”

“That old lady who helped you—She’s has been robbed three times this year; she might appreciate it.”

“You’ll give it to her?”

“She’ll find it. I’ll make sure of that.”

“And me?”

“California isn’t so bad. You’re a smart boy. Your uncle has a shop you might like. He’s a doctor of sorts. You’d learn a lot.”

“It won’t make any difference.”

“Listen, Jacob, if you stay alive…you’ll make a difference. You’ll save someone’s life, many lives.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t…not unless you’re willing to try.”

~~~

“You did well, son. Don’t be afraid, you did the right thing. The Supreme Council has absolved you from your interference, But you know, there will be consequences…down the road.”

“But wasn’t it worth it?”

“Certainly. Part of being a Guardian involves risk. Personally, I find humanity worth a great deal of risk. They’re surprising…the way they think…the way they love.”

“They’re not so different from us, are they?”

“No. But beware.”

“What?”

“They’re unpredictable. Like rain from a cloudless sky. Remember to breathe. In…out….”

~~~

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

J. R. R. Tolkien

In my mind, J. R. R. Tolkien is a heroic figure. He understood that the greatness of humanity lies within each of us through our faithfulness to our daily mission. He was a Catholic, the son of a Catholic convert, and an ardent believer in God. It was under his influence that C.S. Lewis embraced the reality of Christianity.  While a young man, he formed a club with some close friends, and despite the small size of the group, they had some very big aspirations.  They believed that they had a mission to change the world, to make it a better place.  As for many people during World War I, (and later World War II) this vision was put to test when several of Tolkien’s friends died. They were not able to live out their noble aspirations. But in a letter, Tolkien was reminded of their ardent dreams, and he was encouraged to go forward—to fulfill his own potential. He did. An ordinary man in so many ways, yet his faithfulness to his family, to his wife and children, his students, his friends, and his stories reach us today.

After I had read most of his major works and become astonished at his incredible insight and clarity, I decided to read more about him so I could better understand his background and his mindset. In one book (J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter), I read about one of his typical days where his bicycle broke down and he was late for dinner while a stack of papers waited at home to be corrected. I was nearly pulling my hair out thinking about the fact that he could have been home writing great literature.  But then, (after I became more reasonable), I realized it was because he knew how to fix a bicycle, cared about being home for dinner, made it to meetings, and corrected innumerable papers that he was the kind of man who could write so faithfully about the human heart and the reality of suffering as well as the idiosyncratic silliness of common human interactions.

Tolkien, like many of his characters, could not predict the future, but he was engaged in humanity’s struggle to overcome evil, nevertheless.  May I today aspire to the same noble faithfulness of a simple Hobbit—and an honest writer.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00