Chapter 6



… “Of course,” Trenae said quietly, “when I thought that, it didn’t occur to me what his genitals might be like, or even if he had any.” She was a little embarrassed but felt it was important to add.

“Sure, you’re right,” Jenny said.

“I mean, I was like drugged. Yeah, I felt really good, but I also wasn’t thinking rationally, you know?”

“Yes, I think.”

Trenae eyed Jenny shyly. “Can you please not print that though, about my interest in…you know, being intimate, or--”

“Sure, no problem.” Jenny picked up her note pad and scribbled a few words. She looked back at Trenae. “I kind of know anyway, what people want or don’t want printed. Same stuff I wouldn’t want!”

Trenae smiled a little. “But anyway, I just remember that last thought, and only that thought. The next thing I knew, I was rudely awakened, by something very disturbing.”…




…“Hey, Finley, open that box up and see what you find in it. Take it to the Suburban, open it there.”

Trenae opened her eyes. Ha-Ta’s wall, splashed with orange-red sunlight shocked her mind. Who said those words? It sounded as from outside! Was she outside as well? No, of course not. Where had the night gone? Still on her right side, with the same blue blanket, she noticed Ra’am was gone. Then it occurred to her the voice sounded like Willson’s voice! What’s going on?

“Hee, hee, hee, she probably has some sort of key in that box, to something…”

Again a voice. The first time, it echoed like a partial dream. But now, proof set in; she had definitely heard people talking!

She pushed up, sitting on the bed and then turning left. Straight ahead stood Ra’am, standing straight and tall, his arms crossed over his chest. His determined stance appeared so regal and proud, his hair strands smoothly tied back behind his head in a thick-bundled ponytail. The black tee shirt and blue jeans still clothed his body.

He looked at her. “Do not be alarmed. It is merely Stiles and the other men, as well as Clark Willson.”

Tossing the blue blanket off her legs, Trenae stood up. She walked to Ra’am and stood next to him. She peered toward the viewing window, the khalon.

“Apparently, they found your box,” Ra’am said. “Willson believes there may be a key inside, to a cabin, safety deposit box, or vehicle, although they removed the vehicle you drove here. They are running out of options as to why you disappeared.”

“But…but we’re 1.8 miles away.” She looked up at him. “Or are we?”

“We are still 1.8 miles away. I have been monitoring the area where I acquired you yesterday, since I planned to recover the tree I downed. The proodat t’notat teesatkhepah can travel practically anywhere on earth, and give me a clear, instant view.”

She turned back to the screen. “There’s no key inside,” she said quietly, shaking her head. “There’s just things in there from my father, after he died. His ashes, his Marine Corps medallion, some letters. But no money and no keys.” An overwhelming sadness snaked through her body. “Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m being raped again,” she whispered. “Only this time, it’s much worse. It’s beyond personal…it’s my father.”

‘Raped’ made her recall. She looked down at her shirt, remembering the tucked-in wrinkles by her abdomen. Lifting her hands, she touched her fingertips over the shirt. How could she know, whether Ra’am’s calming touch presented a ruse, designed to cause an unconscious, sleeping state, so he could take advantage of her?

“I did as I promised, Trenae,” Ra’am said. “I did nothing to you, other than hold you close and give you negee’ah ragoo’a.”

His words spoke truth. Most of the wrinkles had remained in the front, taking into fact that Ra’am had carried her and she had moved around some since that time. She looked up at him. His height towered over her again, so high. “You…you can read my mind, can’t you?”

“I can, we have that technology. But no, I have not read your mind. It is simply your body language I find easy to decipher.”

Somehow, she couldn’t fully believe him. “I want to thank you, again,” she said, staring into his dark-lined face. “You were right. I did need you to hold me. I slept very good, although…although...” She blinked her eyes, trying to recall something from last night.  “I don’t remember a lot. Is that normal, with that calming touch you did?”

“Yes, it is. And, you are welcome. I am sure you will have no problem sleeping alone in your room tonight.”

Relief streamed through her body, from his words. But then, too, she felt a touch of sadness and rejection.

More voices and movement took place on the khalon; Trenae’s attention became diverted.

Ra’am lowered his left hand down and placed it by her right side. “Hold my hand, please. I am going to encircle us in hemoom prodoh again, and I want you to be supported.”

First she looked at his hand, and then up at his face. He appeared somewhat aloof and cold this morning. Why? Something she did or didn’t do? Regardless, she placed her hand in his hand. Warmth from his skin penetrated her hand, sidetracking the alarming feel of his taut, strong geed’aso.

“You’re definitely warm blooded?” She looked at his hand, and then up at his face.

“Yes,” he answered.

Ra’am jerked his koaksekhel arm, in one short stroke, out to the right. A large quantity of the clear, silvery substance appeared, still connected by a thin rope to the kaleidoscope opening on his koaksekhel. Then he thrust his right arm to the left. The remarkable hemoom prodoh raced in the same direction, surrounding them. In a camera flash, they now stood above ground, standing in the midst of Willson and his evil men.

The view stunned; Trenae crushed the alien’s hand with her fright. Yet his tendon fibers withstood her hand’s pressure remarkably. Both she and Ra’am now stood in the clearing area, near the burial site of her father’s box.

Willson, standing over to the left, looked down toward the trees at the bottom of the clearing, early morning sunlight dusting his apparel. Like times before, his clothing impressed exceedingly well, with a long black trench coat draping black dress pants, an ivory white shirt, and shiny, polished black shoes. His blond hair, displaying some slight brown highlights, sleeked back tightly and neatly against his head. As always, Willson looked imposing and handsome. Yet a sinister countenance shadowed his face.

Hands in his pockets, a haughty attitude, Willson appeared in charge and quite confident. He turned his head towards the quaking aspen tree, the white-barked tree that marked the grave for her father’s box. Following his line of sight, Trenae observed Stiles come into view. The man who owned her walked away from the cliff, holding a shovel.

She shot her gaze up the mountainside, to the right. But no one else was there.      

“Stiles, come here,” Willson said, in a loud whisper.

Stiles turned and began maneuvering himself through the trees and over the rocks, still carrying his shovel. He wore the same jacket as yesterday, though wearing different pants.

Once Stiles arrived, both men stood in front of the white tree. Trenae observed how the ground near the tree’s base had been torn apart, evidently with great vigor and hatred, now laying in large, jagged clumps.

“What is it?” Stiles asked quietly

They obviously didn’t want to make too much noise.

“I doubt very much she’s here,” Willson said. “It was 18 degrees last night. Far too cold, especially with the clothes she had on. I’m having Finley see if he can find some sort of car key, house key. There has to be a logical explanation for her disappearance. This is the place her aunt said it would be.”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, snickering. “You mean, after we forced it out of her?”

Trenae gasped and leaned against Ra’am. She covered her mouth with her other hand.

Willson stared at Stiles’ face. “You, you…?”

“Fuck yeah, Mr. Willson, how else do you think we got our answer? She was a tough one, I’ll tell you that. Real tough, unlike her niece.”

Willson paused, squinting at him, as though trying to decipher Stiles’ words and tone. “It’s my fault,” Willson said finally. “I never should have shown an interest in a stripper. You guys always said they have prior exposure, people might know her.”

“Yeah, but she wasn’t there that long, at Fontel’s,” Stiles said. “Few, if any people recognized her at your parties.”

Lifting his head proudly, Willson inhaled, exhaled, air whistling through his nose. His gaze scanned the area. “You always said they’re better fresh off the street, so no one knows them. That way, we can always make up a past.”

Stiles plunged the shovel into the ground, right where her father’s box had been buried. “True,” he said.

“She just wasn’t right. Your people never would have pursued this, if I hadn’t shown an interest.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Stiles said, yet holding the shovel. “She’s hot, just too goody- goody. A frigid whore, what’s the world coming to.”

Willson appeared to listen, though snickering tersely. Then he looked away again. “Nope,” Willson said, searching around, “there’s only one explanation for this. Someone has helped her. We need to check for any tire tracks, on the gravel road down there. I’ll have one of my cop friends in Grangeville give a look, tell him it’s a stolen car investigation. There’s just no other way she could have escaped.” He looked back at Stiles. “You three have checked up and down this mountain and the surrounding areas?”

“Yes, very thoroughly. We also used a helicopter, and Mr. Harman, the man who works for Spokane’s criminal investigation department. He brought his German Shepard, picked up some dog’s footprints and human trails here. But all scent trails showed she was in this general area. So, someone must have helped her. We’ll find them though. They couldn’t have gone too far. One of our connections will see her.”

“Good, great. But remember, my career is on the line here, and with my career, any possibilities your organization can expand and become far more lucrative. You understand me?”

“Yes, I do,” Stiles replied. “We’re a team now.”

“Good. Find her and do…whatever it is you need to do, to keep her quiet. I’m counting on you. I know you will come through.”

“She needs to be put out of her misery, Mr. Willson.”

Keeping his hands in his pockets, Willson gave Stiles a sideways glance. “Whatever it takes, I don’t care.”

Willson turned, changing direction and then charged toward Trenae and Ra’am. He rushed right through them.

“Huhh!” Trenae gasped, in sudden shock.

“Remember, they are not here,” Ra’am said.

Recovering, she noticed Stiles haphazardly shovel some of the dirt back into the mess they made, the mess that was once her father’s grave. How dare they! And poor Aunt Heather! She felt certain; they tortured and murdered her dear aunt. And poor, poor dad, who was always such a good man. His gravesite and ashes now destroyed and stolen. How could they be so monstrous?

Extreme rage enveloped her. “I wish they were dead! I wish you were dead, Stiles!” she shouted. “You hear me, you scumbag? You piece of shit!” The words surprised her, as they sprung forth effortlessly. Oh, how she wished Stiles could hear her! Yet, she knew better.

She glanced up at Ra’am. Though she had raised her voice, he remained calm and stoical. “You can help me, Ra’am. You must have the ability, to just…I don’t know, destroy them, kill them, get rid of them, don’t you?”

Ra’am turned his gaze away, staring at Stiles, and then looked back at her. “I know this will sound difficult, but you must forgive them.” His voice emanated stern resolution. “Not, of course, reunite with them, for your life is in grave danger. But let your anger and humiliation free. It is the right thing to do. But no, I will not destroy them.”

Trenae furrowed her brow and stared up at his face. Anger came, directed toward this powerful being, who without doubt could easily help. “Well, I guess that’s easy for you to say, but what about all the damage they’ve done, and worse, will do to others, other women like me…and men too? What about them?”

He locked eyes with her. “There is a better way. I can download the scene we just witnessed to the police or FBI’s computer systems,” he said. “They can determine what to do.” 

She turned away and watched Stiles with his shovel. Ra’am’s idea definitely sounded interesting, maybe even possible. But then, she thought about the high number of different nationalities and the many other apparent crime organizations she had witnessed over the months at Hegemony Hovel. Maybe she could verify the information to the police or FBI, or even testify in court. But Stiles, Finley, Traferro, and Willson were simply a few of countless others. Hence, someone else would administer revenge to whoever testified.

Yet the other women, the other girls- what would happen to them? She wanted to help them, she really did, yet she also realized that the same men, who would seek revenge, would also most likely keep and permanently imprison the women too. And for all she knew, maybe the women, who had left Willson’s ranch were fine!

Nonetheless, guilt marred her soul. Trenae couldn’t look back at Ra’am. “No, that wouldn’t work too,” she said quietly. “Somebody would probably have to testify, to verify it, and, I’m too much of a wuss, to do it. Maybe someone else could, but…” She looked up at him again. “Is it true, what they said, about the helicopter? Was it here too?”

“Yes, just moments ago, while you slept.”

She looked down at her watch. 8:38 am, though that time was an hour ahead, since she was now in Pacific Time zone. “It’s not that late,” she said, “although, I feel well rested.”

“That is good. You needed the sleep.”

In an instant, Ra’am removed the hemoom prodoh image. The strange substance vanished back into his koaksekhel. He squeezed her hand a little. She looked up at him. He gave her a brief smile. “We should leave this area,” he said. “Possibly a change of location will help you feel better. First, however, I need to take L.B. out of my room and bring him to the bathroom. Come with me.”

He released her hand and led the way toward his room.

Trenae began to saunter after him, hanging her head down. Pink slippers moved forward, backward. She felt grateful for having the slippers, though Ha-Ta’s floor wasn’t cold; it had pleasant warmth, albeit a strange and eerie surface texture.

But nothing could vanish the main thought in her mind. My own problems are bad enough, but now this too? How could I cause this? As she followed Ra’am, she struggled to distract her thoughts, take them away from the brutality Stiles committed. No, don’t see it, don’t think it! Besides, Aunt Heather could still be alive, only wounded, maybe in a hospital. No, that was doubtful, knowing Stiles. Yet I need to remain calm, levelheaded.

Ra’am opened the doorway and released L.B. from his room. The Golden Retriever dashed out, jumping and prancing, attempting to reach Trenae’s upper body.

“L.B., no, down!” Ra’am commanded. “Come!”

L.B. listened and followed Ra’am toward the bathroom cylinder. She followed them too, still struggling to change her thoughts, reroute her mindset. Ra’am seemed preoccupied with L.B., not noticing or even seeming to care about her troubles.

Once near the bathroom cylinder, she finally crushed the thoughts of Stiles and Aunt Heather, feeling now as though she didn’t know either person. She crossed her arms, leaned against the cylinder’s doorway, and found a question. “How can L.B, well, use this bathroom? I don’t get it.”

Evidently, her question needed no verbal explanation. As Trenae stood and watched, Ra’am led the frisky, playful dog onto the shower floor, while Ra’am himself backed out, yet motioned for L.B. to stay. Ra’am turned around and looked at her at the same time.

“Normally, I bring L.B. to the surface,” he said. “But this morning, my plans were thwarted. So, my alternative.” He glanced at L.B., and then looked back at her. “We will not bring any of the galeel khayeem with us, so if you have to use the bathroom, you should use it before we leave.”

“Okay,” she said weakly. She watched as L.B. finally found the gumption to lift his leg and urinate against the far wall of the shower area. Ra’am still looked the other way, apparently being polite. While L.B. finished, Ra’am explained to her how the shower’s wall and sides would automatically eliminate the liquid waste product on all surfaces and prepare for future use, using certain sanitizing kleeproodah systems.

Once L.B. hopped from the shower, Ra’am had all three of them exit the bathroom.

Ra’am told her to observe closely, while they both stood in the corridor. Her eyes staring, the greenhouse cylinder to the right of the bathroom regressed away from Ha-Ta, back into the soil behind it. The walls and doorway, which had bordered the entrance to the cylinder, immediately flowed like a uniform, liquid, light green metal, in equal directions and without breaking away into separate particles or clumps from the whole, soon forming a curved wall identical to the rest of Ha-Ta’s walls. Amazing.

“Last chance,” Ra’am said. He held out his hand toward the bathroom.

She looked up at him and then at the bathroom. Deciding to use it, Trenae walked toward the room and closed the liquid-like door once inside, with a similar button as the one in her room. She quickly used the toilet and washed her hands.

After she exited the bathroom, Ra’am asked her to stand by the curved wall opposite the bathroom’s doorway, next to him. The doorway to the bathroom cylinder then followed the same incredible smooth chain of events as the other cylinder room had experienced. A curved wall now replaced the bathroom doorway’s former existence.

“There is one thing I must get,” Ra’am said. “Wait here, I will be right back.” He darted into the last remaining galeel khayeh, the one with the greenhouse and storage room. L.B. happily galloped after him.

In a minute or less, the tall alien returned, holding a blanket similar to the ones he had given her. “This is for L.B. The last few times I traveled, he fell asleep on the floor next to my seat. This time, he will be comfortable.”

She gave him a quick smile.

And once again, the last cylinder followed the same steps as the other two, soon vanishing.

Ra’am led the way up the corridor, on Ha-Ta’s right side, passing by Trenae’s room and nearly reaching the eyzkher tagleet’s entrance. She followed him. But once he walked between the two rooms, he stopped. He turned and faced the small wall, separating the rooms.

“Now, I will show you the energy source supporting this entire Memadshakor. Are you ready?”

She looked up at him. “Sure, I guess.”

“Do not worry when the floor moves beneath you,” he said. “There is a layer, the layer with the many shapes, which will stay stationary near our position. Try not to move, however.”

A vertical line from ceiling to floor began appearing before them, growing in width, splitting the short wall into two sections. L.B. stood by Trenae’s side, wagging his tail. She looked down at him for a moment, but then eyed the wall. Before long, a straight shot view to the other side of Ha-Ta emerged, revealing the other corridor on the spacecraft’s left side. However, she could also see a strange, dark and silver glistening bar, maybe 10-12 inches in height, positioned about four feet or five from the floor. Actually, as the walls separated further, it became obvious that the bar was actually an elongated ellipse, with its ends connected to the walls on either side by long, thin hourglass-shaped dark and silvery masses, similar to the same material as the ellipse. The ellipse itself, obviously the ma’argahar looked like a small, dark flying saucer.

Her room and the eyzkher tagleet now appeared about five feet away from both her left and right sides, as did Ra’am’s room and the eating room. She glanced down, beneath the ma’argahar. The floor under the ma’argahar appeared just like the floor on the rest of Ha-Ta. She shot her gaze straight down to see that the floor nearby, yet not by her feet was indeed moving.  With a quick turn right and left, she noticed that both the front and back ends of Ha-Ta were stretching too, so that about 12 feet of space still lay between the walls of the curved hallway, regardless of the impending, sliding walls. The spacecraft had come alive, a stretching, molding entity!

“The ma’argahar is approximately 36 inches wide and 11 inches tall,” Ra’am said. “If you stare more closely, you can see a thin layer of blue light over the ma’argahar. This tells me it is functioning well.”

“It is…definitely amazing,” she said. Taking his advice, she studied the object better, and did indeed see a faint blue, lighted area, of possibly an inch in thickness, surround the ma’argahar’s exterior. “I do see the light, too, but mostly it looks like a big oval glob of dark liquid mercury, to me, with some more liquid mercury holding it in place.”

The walls stopped moving. Yet quickly afterwards, the two sides of Ha-Ta’s nucleus, the eating room and laboratory room on one side, and Trenae’s room and Ra’am’s room on the other side, began flowing back together, in unison.

Soon, it was finished, displaying the doorways, walls, and dimensions as before.

“Follow me now,” Ra’am said. “You can sit next to me in front of the shleetah maksheer.”

She obeyed his request and trailed behind him, walking toward the front of Ha-Ta, with L.B. following nearby. Once there, Ra’am unfolded the blanket, a blanket that appeared Native American, and laid it right behind the two seats in front of the shleetah maksheer. L.B. pushed his nose into the blanket, sniffing it for a while, and then just stood on it.

“He knows,” Ra’am said, giving L.B. a smile.

Trenae smiled, but then remembered Aunt Heather. How can I smile now? What’s wrong with me? 

Hardening her face, she looked at the two chairs. “Why are there two?” she asked. “You’re just one…here.” The two large chairs resembled rounded, smooth plastic seats from the 60’s or 70’s, made of the same silvery light green material as the rest of Ha-Ta. A 3- or 4-inch wide pillar, of the same material, arising up from the floor, supported both seats.

“Sit down first, in this chair on the right,” he said. “I will tell you.” He sat down in the other chair.

After she sat down, Ra’am began pressing buttons on the control panel, the shleetah maksheer, not answering at first. Watching his hands, she also noticed the edges of the entire panel flowed smoothly like the chair, starting at the outer sides of the khalon that existed directly above it, and coming together in front of both chairs. The edges formed almost the shape of a large half circle, except for a part directly in front of her seat, which formed a straight line. Nothing existed beneath the panel, except plenty of space for long ometvah legs, she assumed. The panel’s thickness from the top surface to the bottom surface probably only measured 2 or 3 inches, if that. This seemed especially unusual, considering all the lighted buttons on top. 

Two exact sides seemed to exist on the panel, apparently one side for each seat, although she couldn’t be too sure, with Ra’am’s arms in the way. Directly in front of both their seats, two mushroom-shaped objects, about 10-inches in height and made of the same substance as Ha-Ta, rose above the panel’s surface. Everywhere else, small buttons jutted from the surface in circular groups or lines, of varying polygonal shapes, like triangles or octagons, and varying colors. All the buttons appeared singular in shape and color, yet part of the whole board, not separate units, like everything else on Ha-Ta. In the control panel’s center, an elongated oval shape, possibly 12 inches long, stretched its greatest length to the left and right. Artistic, balanced somehow, the control panel emanated a futuristic, technologically advanced design.

Ra’am now raced his two hands over the control panel at an alarming rate of speed, typical to the amazing speed he displayed yesterday when capturing her in the clearing.

“How can you do that?” she asked.

“One question at a time,” he said, racing his hands, pressing some buttons.

Finished, he took hold of the thin mushroom-shaped object, with an oval top. Trenae guessed it must work the same as a yoke on an airplane, or some other steering mechanism.

“There are two seats, since normally, our military uses Memadshakoreem for war reconnaissance, logistics, and aggressive defensive or offensive military maneuvers,” he said. “Ha-Ta is fundamentally a war tool, Trenae. However, the eyzkher tagleet was added, for my benefit, for research. Usually, that room is used for other purposes.”

“Oh,” she said. “That always seems to be the way, you know, military having the most advanced stuff, at least here on earth.” She placed her arms on the chair’s sides and looked at him.

“Yes, on most other worlds as well.”

She looked down at the chair’s armrests. Both appeared about 8 inches wide. She lifted her arms and began feeling their texture with her fingertips, recalling how it felt last night, as she stood holding it, before cowering from Ra’am. No, erase that memory. 

Smooth and malleable, the seat was somehow tough beneath a few thin layers. However, it had softness, comfort, as she leaned back in it, though feeling dwarfed by its huge size. Leaning back, the seat moved easily, though with no sounds of moving parts. She leaned it sideways, turned it a bit. Without glancing at Ra’am, she looked below. Incredible, she thought, there are no separate parts, yet it feels like the seat and pillar move backwards, forwards, and can spin!

 “Yes,” Ra’am said. She sat up and looked at him. “Certain proodat t’notah systems do allow these seats to move freely, even being able to turn around numerous times and yet not break the attachment of seat and holding post.”

“Wow,” she said, awe-struck.

“And to answer your other question, both humans and ometvaheem have muscular and nervous systems that are similar, yet vary in specific ways. I will use your language to describe these details, as I did yesterday, since earth’s terms will sound more familiar to you. One variation is the different structures of ometvah muscles, which have thicker and more abundant thick and thin filaments in the measurement of one sarcomere on a muscle fiber.”

Uh-oh, she thought. I hope I can understand all this! 

“Also,” he said, “the proteins which make up the thick and thin filaments are slightly different. This thereby enables ometvah thick filaments to attach to more thin filaments at a greater rate and attach to larger amounts of what your scientists refer to as adenosine triphosphate molecules, ATP molecules, which provide needed fuel for the process, than in humans. ATP in our systems is therefore created quicker.”

            “I think, I remember about ATP, maybe,” she said. “Isn’t it some sort of cellular energy?”

“Yes, ATP provides fuel for cellular processes.” He pressed more shleetah maksheer buttons at a slower rate. “Numerous ometvah biochemical processes tend to be faster than humans. Yet, we can function at a similar rate as humans, as I am doing now. This is due to a special quality of our synapses, the junctions where a nerve cell meets another cell, which can release neurotransmitters at a steady or normal rate, but can also act much swifter.”

“Yes,” she said, “I remember about synapses.”

He looked at her. “Without overwhelming you with too many specific details, since there are quite a few biochemical variations from humans synapse function, I will tell you this- there are something called excitable cells, that are muscle cells and nerve cells or neurons, which can be stimulated to create a tiny electric current. In other words, information transmitted from our brains via our nerves to tell our muscles to move, as you probably know.  The refractory period of ometvah neuromuscular junctions, like humans, is a short period of recovery between contraction and relaxation of muscle cells. In humans, the refractory lasts only for .001 to .002 seconds, which in turn allows only 500-1000 impulses per second. However, in ometvaheem, the refractory period can last for only .00002 to .00004 seconds, allowing 25,000 to 50,000 impulses per second, depending on whether there is a chemical need, as in the brain commanding a sudden burst of speed to the muscles.”

“Wow,” she said. “Is that how you ran so fast, when you caught me, and how you broke that tree with your hands?”

“Yes, due to that, and my geed’aso as well. And so you can understand, this allows far more impulses to be produced, when necessary, thereby allowing far greater muscle and nerve speed. Our muscle and nerve tissues are also structurally stronger to handle the quicker impulses, as in stronger filaments. In addition, the motor units for our skeletal muscles have fewer fibers per single motor. And, we experience something your scientists call tetanus at a much different rate, thereby allowing our muscles to remain contracted for longer periods and without muscular trembling. Our cardiac and smooth muscle systems are structured slightly different, as well as our respiratory and hormonal systems, to accommodate for a quicker refractory period. This whole process is actually highly complicated, at least on a chemical and molecular level, and involves the balance between sodium and potassium ions or positive and negative charges outside the excitable cells. But, I do not want the burden you right now.”

“Well thanks, I guess.”

“But I do intend to teach you as much as I know. In time, however. Not all at once”

Trenae looked forward. The khalon displayed nothing, covered instead with the same green material as everything else, and therefore could not reveal any position or motion

“Are…we moving?” she asked.

“Yes, we are.”

“But, I don’t feel anything.”

He looked at her again. About 21/2 feet of space existed between her and Ra’am, from the distance of both their seats. “That is due to a Memadshakor’s ability to control inertia and gravity,” he said. “If you were in a car, a vehicle, traveling 65 miles per hour, and were stopped suddenly, your body would continue to travel at 65. You would hit the interior of the vehicle, unless, of course, you were wearing a seatbelt. A Memadshakor has a similar apparatus, like a seatbelt, yet far more complex. As long as the speed is not too excessive, the gravity proodat t’notah, or proodat t’notat meeshkal, can create the gravity needed to hold any body of matter, of almost any mass, especially those of the biological kind, against nearly all outside gravity forces.

“Other kleeproodah systems can create a series of invisible buffers, very similar to earth vehicle air bags, which further prevent any interior motion or acceleration of any interior matter. Imagine a seat belt and air bag everywhere within Ha-Ta, and imagine no sensation of motion, gravity forces. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to detect motion, since all motion within Ha-Ta is harnessed and impeded, and gravity forces, or G-forces, are greatly diminished. Inertia is controlled.”

Okay, that’s wonderful. From now on, I’ll try hard to listen, feel, and sense any form of motion, speed, or any other indicator proving our motion. But for the moment, remarkably, she couldn’t sense a thing.

She noticed Ra’am’s hand continued to hold the mushroom-yoke object. “Well, that’s good to know, about protection in here,” she said quietly. “But there’s something else I want to ask you.”

“Yes, what is it?”

“I notice, that sometimes, you use buttons or controls, to do things, like now. But then other times, you don’t. Why is that?”

Ra’am leaned back in his seat, releasing the control object. “Yes, I was using the keevonetah, or steering device, but now I am using my mind, directing the computer on my koaksekhel, which in turn, sends certain electromagnetic wave signals to the central computer on Ha-Ta., thereby initiating motion directions.”

“But why not use your mind all the time, and eliminate your hands?”

“Ah, of course. I see your dilemma.” He crossed his arms over his chest and looked at her. “You have used a personal computer before.”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then you know that input into the computer’s central processing unit must be done through the keyboard, yes?”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Your technology also has voice input to the central processing unit. Which would you prefer?”

“You mean…talk into a computer, not use the keyboard anymore?”


Trenae turned away for a moment, thinking. “Oh, I get it. To not use the keyboard, only your voice.” She looked back at him. “Then there wouldn’t be much fun. It would take away from any challenge or use of the hands.”

“Exactly. For many years, as our technology advanced more and more, and yet physically, we remained the same basic species, we realized that we could not cease from using our physical bodies. It is essential to who we are. So, from time to time, we must.”

Keeping her eyes on Ra’am, she leaned back in her seat likewise. She placed her arms on the armrests. “So, we’re moving now. You mean, underground?”

“Yes,” he said, staring into her eyes.

“Really?” She sat upright.

“Yes. Underground, and quite rapidly. We are descending now, to reach a distance of approximately 5-10 miles beneath the surface of the earth.”

“What? How…how exactly, I mean, does Ha-Ta travel though the ground?”

“It is quite simple, actually. The soil matter in front of Ha-Ta is being greatly reduced in size. This produces an immediate opening, as though a huge amount of soil matter has been removed directly in front of the nose. The nose of the vessel then enters this area quickly, and at the same time, the top, sides and bottom of Ha-Ta gradually increase the size of the soil particles back to normal, so that Ha-Ta is pushed forward delicately and vigilantly, yet paradoxically with great power and thrust, depending on the speed. Further proodat t’notah systems control gravity and mass during this process, preventing collapse from the new opening, from matter above, in the split second before Ha-Ta’s nose enters the opening. And this process can proceed slowly or it can proceed very, very quickly.”

“Umm, how quick are we going, right now?” she asked. But she didn’t really want to hear the answer.

“Ha-Ta will reach a speed of approximately 3,360 miles per hour in 10 seconds, as soon as the desired depth below the earth’s surface is reached. Then it will take us approximately 15 minutes to get between the Farallon Islands, a group of islands that are part of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. And we will be near the Golden Gate Bridge, approximately 5-6 miles from the bridge. I have studied some marine mammals there before, such as seals and sea lions, and some seabirds and other underwater sea life. I thought you would like to see the view.”

“The view?”

“Yes, of the Golden Gate Bridge. It appears from weather information, that it will be a clear morning for a good view. There is little, if any wind, so wave heights will be minimal.”

Turning backwards a moment, Trenae noticed L.B. lying on the blanket, just behind them, though not yet asleep. The lovable dog stared right up at her. She turned forward, so as not to agitate him into barking. She looked up at the ceiling, and then at the walls and the covered khalon. Her mind wondered about the incredible speed at which they traveled, below ground no less!

She looked back at Ra’am. He turned to see her.

“If we’re traveling so fast,” she asked, “and I’m, of course, no expert, but…what about sound waves and sonic boom? Won’t you cause an earthquake, or a volcanic explosion?”

“That is another good question. No, Ha-Ta will cause neither of these. This is due to a vacuum created by the miniaturization process, which also absorbs or counteracts the deleterious sound waves. In fact, your earth’s seismic wave detectors will not notice a thing. No one on earth knows where we are or what we are doing. What you have to remember, is the matter being miniaturized by this Memadshakor, has in effect, entered another dimension for a very short time, and then returns nearly instantly, with hardly a difference perceived. To the matter being miniaturized, its miniaturization never occurred.”

“But can you show me, where we are right now?” Nervousness grabbed her; she felt small and confused. Trust remained slight for the alien, weighed down further by all the new situations and technology thrown her way.

“Certainly,” Ra’am said. He leaned forward, focusing his eyes on a few buttons directly below the elongated oval shape, in the shleetah maksheer’s center. Immediately after he touched the buttons, a large globe, seeming to be earth, appeared above the elongated oval shape, floating about 4 or 5 inches above. Its diameter covered about 15 inches, displaying blue oceans and tiny, very realistic speckles of white cloud dustings and brown and green landmasses. The features and colorings appeared distant, as from a satellite photo. Similar to the 3D image she saw above Ra’am’s koaksekhel of Ha-Ta, the sphere was very realistic, as though an enormous giant, larger than the earth itself, had captured the planet earth, miniaturized it, and placed it before them. Amazing! Even a very thin layer of atmosphere seemed to float directly above the image.

“As you realize, your planet, earth,” he said. “Now watch, as the image will slowly converge toward the section we are currently beneath, of the United States. Then, a rapidly blinking red ellipse will appear, representing Ha-Ta. The image and red ellipse will show our exact location underground.”

Leaning forward, she watched carefully. The earth image appeared to change, grow in one area. What was once a satellite-type globe image soon became an upside down pyramid, displaying the combined states of Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and California on its curved bottom. Each state was outlined by a thin blue boundary, while mountains and other terrain markings could be seen too. The image continued magnifying, until the earth’s soil interior was seen, like transparent, yet dark seawater, displaying a red blinking oval object surging through. Ra’am then showed how he cold either move in closer to Ha-Ta’s location, or zoom out more, showing surface areas above their location, like markers for state lines, roads, and towns. A life-like map!

 “Is this image happening because of those micro robots?”

“Yes. Certain proodat t’notah send out a form of radar waves from every angle of this Memadshakor, a complete sphere of observation surrounding us. And along with previous information about earth, especially that which was taken at various levels by aerial proodat t’notah or proodat t’notat teesatkhepah, from several hundred feet to miles above the surface, all of this information is then interfaced together. And that is too, how we can travel so quickly and yet avoid collision with old underground mines, government installations, or other obstacles Ha-Ta’s computer deems necessary to avoid, especially installations that may contain biological life forms, which, as I told you yesterday, cannot be miniaturized.”

“And not to mention blown to pieces by the speed!”

Ra’am looked at her. “Yes, that is true.” He turned, facing the shleetah maksheer again. “All these numerous computations are completed in unison, at great speed, and so well in advance of any upcoming problems.”

A disturbing, amazing phenomenon forged into Trenae’s mind, while her eyes yet viewed the holographic image. Since the blinking red object traveled many miles below the surface, enormous pressure had to be exerted upon Ha-Ta’s top portion, from the millions of tons of matter above. “Hey, wait a minute,” she said, looking at him. “What about all the weight above us? Isn’t it crushing us?”

Again, Ra’am leaned back in his seat, exuding a relaxed, unconcerned manner, almost as though ridiculing her. “As I told you before,” he said, resting his arms on his seat’s armrests, “our technology has enabled us to have full control over the forces of the universe, including the powers of gravity and mass, in addition to the atomic and subatomic realms. You are very safe. Any matter miniaturized, as I mentioned earlier, temporarily enters another dimension. Therefore, to these soil molecules, we do not even exist.” He stared in her eyes. “Does that comfort you?”

“I guess so.” She leaned back in her seat, bringing her hands together and looking down at them, causing her hair to fall around her face. “Sorry, I’m, I just get, so--”

“Scared? You do not need to apologize.”

Trenae continued to stare at her hands, feeling like an idiot. Stiles’ cruel words haunted her again.

A question came. “I don’t get something though,” she said, lifting her head. “Why don’t you just fly above, in the air?”

Ra’am gave her a glance, but then looked back at the holographic map. “Another good question,” he said. “There are many reasons. Although I can produce an invisible shield over Ha-Ta, that can even stealthily hide Ha-Ta from your country’s Air Traffic Control radar systems or satellite imaging, there always seems to be so many other obstacles in the way- other aircraft, tall buildings, birds. And at much higher levels, numerous satellites. I prefer to travel subterranean.”

“I get it.” She looked down again. “You’re probably right.”

“Probably? No, absolutely.”

 She looked back at him, curious about his arrogant tone. He gave her a brief smile. A smile felt good, or any small gesture of friendliness he exhibited, simply because it washed away the fierceness, the dangerous formidability of his features and presence. For a moment.

She studied his face a bit. “Can I ask you something?”


“How old are you?”

He rested his arms again, keeping his eyes on her. “I am actually 25 Harkoat years, or rather, 25 Harkoavian years, as spoken in English. But that would not be the same as earth years. You see, our planet makes one revolution around our sun in approximately 393.6 Harkoavian days, or the equivalent to about 13.5 earth months, since our days are approximately 25 hours. And if you equate or compare our year to an earth year, then when I came here, I was 17 Harkoav years, or approximately 19 years, 1.5 months for earth. I have been here about 9 years, and so now I am 25 Harkoav years, or 28 years, 1.5 earth months for earth time. Of course, I did not figure in the exact amount of days and months for my true Harkoavian age, but this is a close estimate, just to give you some idea.”

“Wow. So, you’re 25 now, but were 17 when you came here?”


“But that’s only 8 years.”

Ra’am smiled slightly again. “That is because you did not take into account our 25 hour day and longer year. But, it is not important. Our time system is far different than your system, so there are many different variables.” He stared deeply into her eyes. “How old are you?”

“Twenty one,” she said quickly. “My birthday is at the end of February, February 22nd. So, that’s not too far away.” She turned away, as his eyes became too piercing. “But I don’t get something else. You said you were in a war before you came here.” She looked back at him. “But if you came here at 17?”

“Ometvaheem are considered mature at 15 Harkoav years, when they can join our military, which, in reality, is equivalent to 16 years, 10.5 months on earth. Not too far from 17 earth years, when most people of earth are considered on the sunrise of adulthood. Correct?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that, although many don’t act that way.” She turned, looking toward the control panel. “Gosh, look at me. I’ve really made a huge mess of my life, and I’m 21…and other’s lives as well.” Her last words trailed off, to a near whisper. She looked down at her hands again. Visions of Aunt Heather entered her mind once more. No, stop, go away!

“But sometimes,” Ra’am said, “life becomes tumultuous and abrasive for a reason, and that reason can not be seen at the moment, but is revealed later.”

Trenae lifted her head and looked in his eyes. “Sure, I guess you could say that,” she said softly.

“May I ask you something?”


“Why did you work at Fontel’s House, as a stripper?”

Well, the cat was finally out of the bag. Willson and his big mouth! No point in trying to hide it now. “It’s…” She looked down again. Ra’am’s scary dark eyes definitely needed to be avoided now. “It’s a long story, but basically, my mother…my mother, believe it or not, and my dumb brother and his girlfriend, who worked there, wanted me to do it, to gain more confidence, more poise, and more money, for them of course.”

“You could have said no.”

She looked at him. How dare he question her life! He knew nothing. “I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t be talking about this.” Her gaze drifted away, but then she looked at him again.

Ra’am didn’t speak right away. He quietly studied her face, searching. “They mistreated you, did they not? You would have gone to them for help, long before it came to this degree of severity, if you trusted them.” He paused, yet stared in her eyes, possible sadness edging his gaze. “And your father is gone.”

“Yeah, my father is gone. And he was good to me. If he were alive, today, none of this would have happened. My mother and brother are just really bad people, Ra’am.  What can I say?”

“Yes, badness. I am well acquainted. You see, I saw a lot of badness in war. Badness of others, and…badness of myself. That is why I left, chose to study science. I had seen enough death and violence. I wanted to see peace and beauty, the harmony of the universe.”

For a moment, Trenae stared at him, even smiling a little, even though he appeared stern and frightening now. “That’s funny,” she said, turning away.

“What is?”

“That’s nearly what my father said, about war.” She looked at him. “He used to tell Darin, my brother, and I, when we were young, that he had seen enough death and destruction, or violence, and just wanted to know peace and love now. He was in that Vietnam War, you know?”

“Yes, I know of that war.”

Strong desire to change the subject overtook her, as memories of her father and Aunt Heather, the two people in the whole world who ever truly cared for her, and their separate, yet equally horrible situations, overwhelmed. Switch, quick!  “Hey, I have a question for you. Why do you wear human clothes? Don’t you guys have your own, on Harkoav?”

“Are you referring to my black shirt, blue jeans, and my boots?” he asked, pointing or grabbing each item on his body.

Ra’am had a dry tone of specificity in his voice that combined with his deep, direct voice, sounded a little funny. “Yes,” she said. She smiled and giggled briefly, looking at him. He didn’t smile though, yet appeared calm.

“It was Dod’s idea, originally.” He rested his arms again on the chair’s sides. “My own clothes began to wear, as natural fibers do, since that is the material of choice used on Harkoav. Dod suggested that since I am often outside, on the earth’s surface, I should attempt to blend in, look normal. So, I could not disagree. Combined with camouflage hemoom prodoh over my skin and hair, I appear quite human.”

“Well, a really, really tall human.”

“I could have had my clothing supplies replenished many times from biannual visits by Harkoavian military members, but I chose not to. Dod keeps me well supplied. As I told you yesterday, we trade often. In fact, he will be here tomorrow. But, I do still have my military uniform. I will show it to you sometime.”

She thought for a moment. “Your people visit you still?”

“Yes. It is the only way they can know of my current research, and the only way I can know of my family and friends on Harkoav, and other news of Harkoav”

“Can’t you just, you know, transmit messages, like radio waves?”

“No. They would travel at light speed. The Andromeda galaxy, like I told you yesterday, is approximately 2.2 million light years away.”

“But can’t your nanosystems travel like Ha-Ta, you know, to transmit messages?”

“Not yet, but we are working on it.”

“Oh, well, that’s interesting. And so,” she began, struggling to gaze at his frightening face, “what about your blankets? Is that the same reason you have the blankets too, because your other ones wore out?”

“Yes, the same reason. I was supplied with Harkoav blankets, yet I prefer the ones Dod gave me.”

She smiled at him. He appeared pleased, yet turned away, facing forward.

For some reason, quiet then reigned between them. Trenae turned back and looked down at L.B. After that, she looked around, studying Ha-Ta’s interior, its walls, ceiling. Time past by.

Before long, she looked toward the control panel and noticed the holographic image had begun to focus and magnify the state of California, especially along the coast. Curious, she asked, “Where are we now?”

“I will help you see.”

Instantly after Ra’am spoke, the names of cities near the San Francisco Bay area illuminated on the holographic image, in small letters, all in the English language. The blinking red ellipse indicated their position somewhere between Berkeley and Oakland, California, almost under the San Francisco Bay.

“Why are all the names in English?”

“Simply for your understanding, and for the same reason that I use English scientific terms or measurements such as miles, feet, pounds, etc., so that you may comprehend. As I said earlier, your world’s form of weights and measurements are far different from my own. Your world’s measurements are more diverse than on our planet. Harkoav has only one planet-wide form of weights and measurements.”

“I understand. They’ve have been trying for years to make the U.S. turn to the metric system, but it’s been slow. You know, the metric system?”

A self-assured expression formed on his face. “Trust me, I know most of all your planet’s secrets- mathematical, scientific, political. At least, the information I can access through computers. Other information, I learn other ways.”

“Oh,” she said, turning back toward the image.

“We are now under the San Francisco Bay.” He leaned forward, quickly touching a few buttons. “Depending on the abundance and location of biological life forms, as well as the location of scuba divers, boats, other water craft, and any coast guard workers who would sight us, Ha-Ta’s taktselekh and proodat t’notat taktselekh system will determine the best area to enter the water.”

“So we’re under water now, too, and lots of soil and dirt?” That’s not a comforting thought.

“Yes,” he answered, continuing to work the control panel. “You still do not need to worry. We are completely safe.”

Instead of solid earth, the holographic image now changed to a transparent, large cube, displaying blue coloring for water body areas and green, tan, and brown colors for the landmasses, roads, and even some predominant large buildings. The blinking red ellipse traveled well under the ocean’s floor, in an area west of San Francisco and under the Pacific Ocean.

Then, the ellipse’s motion stopped. “I will display what is seen above, for your benefit,” Ra’am said.  “My koaksekhel has already given me all pertinent information. But, I know you are curious.”

The silvery light green material covering the khalon miraculously transformed into a clear image of the ocean’s floor above them, presenting bluish-green murky seawater settling above sandy, rocky ocean soil. She noticed many varying shapes and sizes of large rocks covered with thick algae and coral-like substances. Long vertical strands of seaweed, some with elongated leaves and others with straight strands, seemed to reach from the very bottom all the way to the water’s surface, all while waving delicately in the water. Although this image on the khalon now took prominence, the holographic image still remained in its original position.

“We are approximately 15 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. The computer systems have detected underwater scuba divers and numerous boats at the 5 mile distance I originally located.”

“Oh, sure, I understand. Where ever you think is best, I guess.” After speaking, Trenae felt silly, uncomfortable. Maybe sometimes, she shouldn’t say anything at all.

As the khalon displayed a complete 360-degree view of possible ocean floor entrances, it became more apparent that this was not a good location for a portal. Plant life grew abundantly, especially the tall, vertical brownish-green seaweeds, producing an underwater jungle, which Ra’am explained as kelp forests. Schools of silvery small fish that he labeled as jack mackerel, darted between the plants, while several colorful sea stars and anemones lay scattered among the rocks and seaweed of the ocean’s floor. Ra’am began explaining how abundant sea life resided near this ocean floor, due to the kelp forests and the warmth from ocean currents and balmy California coastal weather conditions.

He also explained they had neared oceanic waters encompassing both the Gulf of the Farallones Marine sanctuary and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Both were sanctuaries teeming with life. A further reminder of that truth, a sea lion, swimming near the surface, came into view. Ra’am directed one of the proodat t’notah systems to focus near the ocean’s surface. Sun light, just grazing across the top of the animal, produced a surrealistic image, an image combined with dark shadowy silhouettes and orange sun-splashed watery segments blurring together to create a sea lion in ghostly motion, a picture worth photographing.

“There are simply too many life forms present here,” he said. “I do not want to take the risk. Sometimes in this area, a sandy, smooth floor, away from life forms is available. But not now. Once in the water Ha-Ta will revert to a simpler form of travel, that of using water propulsion, which,” he said, looking at her, “I will let you know, is safe to all life.” He looked back at the control panel. “In any case, we will still have to enter through the continental slope precipice, just past the Farallon Islands. Hopefully, I will still be able to take us near the bridge.”

“The continental slope?”

“Here, let me show you.”

She looked forward, following his sight line. 

Ra’am lengthened the western side of the holographic cube, to encompass the Farallon Islands that laid about 30 miles from the shoreline. Still in three-dimensional form, the image showed San Francisco at the top portion of the cube, farthest away from her and Ra’am, and displayed the ocean’s floor, from the shore near the Golden Gate Bridge, gradually declining toward the islands. But then, just past the islands, the ocean floor plunged apparently hundred’s of feet, becoming a dangerous incline, similar to a steep mountainside. Though scarred in various locations by deep trenches, the incline seemed predominantly smooth, almost otherworldly.

The red blinking ellipse now neared a smooth, steep portion of the slope.

“This is the continental shelf.” He leaned across the control panel and touched the gradual slope that began at the shoreline and flowed to the islands. “And this is the continental slope, here,” he said, pointing to the steep area.

“Wow, you can touch that thing?”

“Sure, go ahead, if you wish. It is only lighted particles. It will not harm you.”

Doing as he suggested, Trenae leaned forward and slowly cut through the image with her fingers, like a blunt knife blade. “That’s cool,” she said, smiling. “I don’t feel anything.” She looked at Ra’am. “No radiation or anything?”

“No, you do not have to worry about any radiation on board a Memadshakor, as I told you yesterday.” He pressed a few more buttons. “Right now, I want you to see the actual ocean as we enter through the continental slope.”

Another image, an image of dark shaded particles and millions of tiny bright flashes of light in a centralized area in front of the particles, replaced the ocean’s depths on the khalon.

“What is this?”

“The scene that is directly in front of us, as we move.”

“Really? You’re kidding.” She leaned closer to the khalon. “I was wondering why you didn’t show it before.”

“Normally, the speed is too great for what the eye may visualize and decipher. But now, this will not last long, for we are about to…”

Darkness appeared on the khalon, and for the first time Trenae could hear a sound on Ha-Ta, a whirling, squishing sound, coming from the back of the spacecraft, where the cylinder rooms had their entrances. Even L.B. came alive with energy and stood up on his blanket.

“…enter the ocean,” Ra’am finished saying.

On the holographic image, the red blinking ellipse moved outside of the continental slope likewise.

“Is it because we’re so deep in the ocean, the darkness?” she asked.


Simultaneously, the lighting decreased in Ha-Ta’s interior, while several conic light beams appeared on Ha-Ta’s exterior, illuminating the dark waters, revealing a lifeless and dead arena of the ocean. The whole scene became reminiscent of a car traveling at night, in thick fog, with the headlights lighting the forward direction, and the dashboard, now the control panel, lighting the interior, producing a light show on the control panel similar to a small town at the bottom of a hill on Christmas evening.

“This is really interesting,” she said. “I have never been this deep in the ocean. Then again, who has? I’ve only seen it on TV.”

“I am glad you enjoy this.” Ra’am began piloting Ha-Ta in an upward direction. “We will head toward the beginning of the continental slope, as you see on the memadgeemel. A memadgeemel is the three dimensional image before you.”

“Memadgeemel, I see.” And he was right. The blinking red ellipse climbed toward the continental shelf. As they traveled closer and closer, the water became more lighted, sunbeams striking lines down through dark seawater.

She turned to see him. “Do you think there are any submarines, maybe?”

“That is another good question. But no, Ha-Ta’s taktselekh system would have detected them. There are usually none around these islands.”

Trenae thought for a moment, watching both the khalon and memadgeemel images. She looked back at him. “You’ve been all over this planet, haven’t you?”

“Yes. Since I have been here approximately nine years, it would be unusual to remain in one area, especially when there is so much to learn,” he said, giving a sideways glance. He returned his gaze to the control panel.

Looking at Ra’am, more questions entered her mind about his language, which sounded vaguely familiar, and of even of greater interest, about the words he spoke last night, of God and evolution. But maybe now wasn’t the time; they gradually drew closer to the islands and closer to the surface.

Soon, they entered the waters where tall seaweeds, schools of fish, sea urchins, anemones, and various rock formations, as seen earlier, became the main elements of the scenery. Except for the morning sun’s rays diving into the ocean, the water appeared mostly dark blue and green.

Ra’am explained they parked in an area devoid of scuba divers and surface boats, about six miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. However, they were more north west from San Francisco than he originally anticipated.

After stopping Ha-Ta, he arose from his seat.

He began to walk behind her seat, toward the right side of Ha-Ta. Trenae spun around and watched him. “Where are you going?”

L.B. also took an interest, springing up and following his master.

Ra’am turned around, once standing near the area for the delet yahmon. “I am going to create a containment vessel with hemoom prodoh, so that we can rise to the surface.” He turned back, focusing his eyes on the curved wall. “Then we can have a great view.”

She was curious. “Does hemoom prodoh have proodat t’notah systems, those molecular and atomic robots?”

“Yes,” he answered, turning around, staring at her. He appeared pleased. “Hemoon prodoh has many proodat t’notah systems. Some perform miniaturization shields, others perform visualization, and so forth. There are many. But hemoom prodoh’s main system is proodat t’notat sheenoot, which is a system that allows instantaneous size increase or decrease in hemoom prodoh volume, as well as mass and shape.”

“Oh, I believe it,” she said excitedly, “after seeing what it’s done already.”

But Ra’am seemed unimpressed by her compliment. He stoically turned and faced the curved wall.

In an eye blink, the curved wall opened. A tall, rectangular doorway became visible, making Trenae uneasy. No evidence of a doorway existed beforehand! Twisting her seat around to retrieve a better look, she saw a definite thickness surrounded Ha-Ta that she previously had not even considered. For directly outside the doorway, a silver tunnel presented itself, with the length of a long hallway, similar to a rectangular submarine passageway, probably around 10-12 feet in length, 8 or more feet in height, and about 4 or 5 feet in width.

She stood up and walked closer. More amazingly, a wall existed at the tunnel’s end. Yet, it wasn’t metallic or solid. Instead, the wall consisted of only seawater, merely subsisting there. Silent, still, unmovable. The water wall’s eerie presence made her realize that from now on, as long as she stayed with this alien being, surprise after surprise would greet her. These surprises would be a hard adjustment, but they would continue to occur nonetheless.

Her jaw dropping, feeling aghast, Trenae continued to walk closer. Air flowing through her open mouth dried her tongue. Yet her awe couldn’t be contained.

“Follow me,” Ra’am said. He began stepping into the silver hallway. L.B. trailed him.

“This is…so amazing,” she said, entering the short hallway. “I had no idea Ha-Ta was so wide.” She looked up, down, and to her sides. The floor was smooth, except for a slight grainy feeling, more like fine sand than various geometric shapes. And the walls were smooth silver, as was the ceiling, with no noticeable seams. No light green silvery shades in this area.

“Yes,” he said.  “As I told you yesterday, a Memadshakor’s interior is approximately 48 feet in diameter, varying here and there. But a Memadshakor’s outer hull varies greatly in thickness, anywhere from approximately 9 feet, to as great as 19 or 20 feet.” He paused in his motion and speech, stopping in front of the water wall. He turned and looked down at her. “This spacecraft is far larger than it appears, as you will soon see.”

She looked up at the ceiling. “How tall is the ceiling?”

“Approximately 9 feet.”

Walking more past the silver walls, Trenae felt certain she could see some sort of movement to her left, on the wall.

She arrived in front of the water wall. Ra’am stood on her right, standing before the water too. Though wanting to inquire about the strange movement of the hallway’s wall, she instead directed her gaze ahead. Seawater appeared as though a sheet of glass held it back. Yet at the same time, there couldn’t be any glass, for the water shimmered and moved very slightly, like gelatin.

Eagerness erased some of her normal trepidation. “Can I touch the water?”

“Yes, you can. It will not hurt you.”

Scents of seawater filled her nose. She raised her hand, inching it closer, closer, touching. Icy cold wetness bit at Trenae’s skin, her fingertips pressing into the water wall. Even so, she carefully plunged most of her hand within the water, testing the wall’s immovability. The water wall remained the same.

“Trenae, you should stop now,” he said. She removed her hand. “Stand behind me, about three feet away, on the left.”

Backing away, she stood where he requested.

From a sideways angle at her position, she saw Ra’am’s right arm rise up until just a few inches from the water wall. Then, a clear, silvery snake of hemoom prodoh came forth from his koaksekhel’s opening, growing in size at its head, until the head appeared the size of a baseball. Plunge! The head shot into the wall of water. Before she could utter a word, the head of hemoom prodoh exploded in size, becoming an enormous sphere, maybe as large as a small elevator compartment, and hovered motionlessly, directly outside the water wall.

Breaking the snake-like connection existing between the large sphere and koaksekhel, with a quick thrust of his arm, Ra’am used the remnant attached to his koaksekhel as a sickle, piercing it in, dashing his arm around to form a large opening in the hemoom prodoh sphere. When he was finished, the hemoom prodoh remnant absorbed itself into the koaksekhel. It could no longer be detected.

Ra’am stood up, having knelt close to the floor while finishing the new entrance.

“Can I come closer now?” she asked.  L.B. began to sniff the sphere’s entrance.

“Almost. I must produce a floor.”

Holding his right arm near the sphere’s opening, further hemoom prodoh poured from his koaksekhel, in a coherent rope-like beam, filling the sphere’s bottom with the clear, silvery substance until leveling at the hallway’s floor surface.  Like solid glass the floor resembled. And as such, so did the rest of the sphere.

The sphere then began to lengthen, at both the top and bottom, until no longer a sphere, but an egg-shaped container, with longer sides or walls than the floor and ceiling, similar to a small goldfish tank. Trenae marveled silently over what Ra’am had created, appearing so quickly at the alien’s command. Not only would the new, clear vessel apparently transport them to the ocean’s surface, but how wonderfully it exposed the beauty of the underwater seascape.

L.B. charged forward into the hemoom prodoh container. Ra’am took a few steps, following L.B., but then turned back and held out his hand. “Come, Trenae.”

She looked up at him. His towering presence felt suffocating.

Regardless, Trenae stepped toward the entrance. Once there, she looked up at the clear container. She felt almost as though she was about to step into the water itself, with the clearness of the hemoom prodoh. Weird. The container’s ceiling still appeared curved, unlike the floor. Regrettably, she also noticed only an inch or two of thickness lay between the ocean water and the sphere’s interior. It felt more like she was about to enter a giant, wispy-cased bubble, which could no more hold back tons of water than a blanket of woven feathers could hold back a dam.

“Is this safe?” she asked quietly. “I mean, it looks, well--”

“Yes, you have to trust me.” Ra’am leaned forward, yet outstretching his hand, and gently engulfed her small right hand. Slowly, gently, he pulled her forward.

She stepped onto the clear floor of the container with her slipper-covered feet. She remembered her clothes. “Umm, what about these clothes I’m wearing. I look like, well, I’m still in my pajamas. What if someone sees me?”

He didn’t answer, only pulling her closer, bringing her to his left side, back against the container’s curved wall farthest from the entrance. L.B. began sniffing the floor, nearly approaching the container’s entrance. Yet Ra’am called him back. L.B. obeyed, moving closer to where they stood.

She looked back at Ha-Ta. Light green and silver brightness emanated from Ha-Ta’s hallway and interior, filling her eyes.

But then Ra’am instantly, simultaneously sealed both the container’s portal and Ha-Ta’s delet yahmon. Yet the silver color of the spacecraft’s exterior added some brightness. She noticed the delet yahmon’s ceiling, floor, and sides jutted outward somewhat, coming to a square end at the doorway, differing from the rest of Ha-Ta’s nearby exterior sides, which came to a point or an angle at its perimeter edges. Ha-Ta’s exterior surface seemed crystal-like, not entirely smooth, with small 3, 4, or more sided shaped polygonal surfaces placed next to each other, producing a structured, geometric texture. Even some strange, yet familiar lettering appeared in various areas.

Although wanting to scope out the design and structure of Ha-Ta further, her attention was instead diverted above, her body feeling the hemoom prodoh container ascend toward the ocean’s surface. She looked up.

She grasped Ra’am’s hand tighter and leaned back against the clear, curved wall.

“You look fine,” he said. She looked in his face. “No one will see your clothes. Our goal is not to be seen, only to look at the bridge.” He gazed into her eyes. Then Trenae shifted her eyes a little, noticing his head’s top was only a couple of inches from the container’s ceiling.

Another question entered her thoughts. “How are we moving?”

“I am controlling the koaksekhel with my brain, as before. And of course, it is sending the appropriate instructions to this hemoom prodoh underwater containment vessel. It is moving through several systems of proodat t’notah created propulsion mechanisms. You will not be able to see their propulsion, but you will observe our motion.”

Yes, she felt the movement, for sure now.

She also realized Ra’am yet held her hand. Though uncomfortable and nervous from this, her ravenous desire to behold the incredible spacecraft that had just transported the three of them smoothly underground became paramount in her mind. She brought her gaze close to the hemoom prodoh wall on her left, struggling to see through the water.

“What are you searching for?” Ra’am asked.

He must have felt the tug, as I turned left.

“I understand,” he said. “You want to see Ha-Ta. It is in front of us, as when I sealed the delet yahmon.”

 My bearings are confused- this thick, dark seawater! She looked up at Ra’am, while he yet held her hand. He looked straight ahead, pointing with his other arm. He began pulling her forward, walking with her. He let go of her hand. They only had to walk about four feet until they pressed up against the other side of the containment vessel.

“Now, can you see well?” he asked.

She looked carefully, holding her hands around her face. The water remained dimly lit, due to numerous kelp plants, but she got a good gander. Ha-Ta looked huge, and silver. Oval and disk-like. Enshrouded by long, fluttering kelp scarves, it was hard to determine the exact dimensions, especially given her increasing distance and angel of view, but Ha-Ta appeared 80- 100 feet long, 60 -70 feet wide, and maybe 20-30 feet in height. She wasn’t certain, but it definitely looked larger than her mom’s house. And it appeared very, very familiar. “It’s a flying saucer, Ra’am!” 

“Yes, it is unusually similar to a flying saucer. I know of your old movies and current UFO sightings. But I doubt none of the aforementioned are from Harkoav.”

Trenae kept looking. Floating gracefully above the rocky, sandy seaweed strewn bottom, Ha-Ta nevertheless appeared to propel some water near its sides, forcing kelp plants to jolt now and then, though no external holes or other apparatuses existed on Ha-Ta’s surface. Even more amazing, the delet yahmon’s exterior, square doorway had vanished, only a smooth, rounded surface remaining. So many questions needed answering.

But again, she was thwarted by other activity around her. “What’s up with all these seaweeds?” she asked. “I can barely see that good.”

“The kelp forests, as I told you already, many Macrocystis pyrifera, as your scientists would label these plants. They are important to the ecosystem here, for all living organisms, and grow rapidly and abundantly.”

“Oh, yes, I see,” she said quietly.

Sunrays jumped down from the ceiling of the hemoom prodoh containment vessel, hindering Ha-Ta’s view further, especially as the ocean floor darkened into a foreboding abyss. She felt amazed at how fast they had traveled. She turned away, and quickly looked up toward the ocean’s surface.

“Although there is little wind, and wave periods are long, the wave heights could splash upon us, as I must keep the containment vessel stationary to avoid rising, falling motion, both for your benefit and to avoid being more easily detected,” Ra’am said. “I will leave enough hemoom prodoh barrier to prevent excessive water from entering.” She saw him look down at her, from her eye’s corner. “But, you may still get wet.”

Trenae looked up at his face. He was smiling, ever so slightly. “I don’t mind getting wet, I guess,” she said. “But the water was pretty cold.”

Looking away from her, Ra’am focused his eyes on the containment vessel’s ceiling. He lifted his right arm, bringing the koaksekhel near the ceiling. In an instant, the ceiling created an opening, the size of a marble, but then enlarged rapidly, becoming about 31/2 feet in diameter in seconds, displaying the sky above the ocean. Someone had just removed the lid of a small-mouthed jar, she thought, equating the experience.

The opening arrived above a small barrier, a barrier consisting of that remaining portion of the containment vessel that lay above the water, about 2 or 3 feet in height from the agitated seawater. The opening also lowered itself, yet at the same time, the containment vessel raised its position higher in the water, for Ra’am’s head now poked above the containment vessel by about 12 inches and nearly 4 feet above the water. They finally had arrived at the water’s surface.

“Seeing as I am approximately two feet taller than you, let me lift you up.” Ra’am moved to the other side of the containment vessel, away from her.

Instantly, she felt her feet rise. “Oh my gosh.” She looked down. A half-section of the containment vessel’s floor, shaped like a half circle, rose up from the floor, though still remaining connected to the floor and curved side wall. It just expanded up, grew! L.B. began sniffing the growing section and even let out a bark.  “Whoa!” she said quickly, her balance fumbling.

Ra’am lunged and grasped both her hands, steadying her teetering body. “My apology, I should have warned you.”

“No, that’s okay.” Though wanting to look in his face, she looked below. L.B. moved about between Ra’am’s legs.

She gradually lifted her gaze above; now, she was at the surface, standing slightly higher than Ra’am. He stared directly up into her eyes, continuing to hold her hands. Illuminated by daylight, Ra’am’s dark, piercing eyes, his dark blue geed’aso forced Trenae to remember who truly stood before her. Only about 12 inches separated both their faces. She shivered a little.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“No, I’m okay,” she lied.

Ra’am let go of her hands. He pointed behind himself, yet kept his eyes on her. “Can you see the bridge, over there?”

Like a strong gush of wind, scents of salty seawater and cold moist air, sounds of lapping waves, and sights of beautiful Pacific Ocean scenery slammed into Trenae. She gazed in the direction he pointed. The morning sun hovered just above the eastern horizon, in the direction of the bridge, painting golden highlights on the faraway bridge, and to the bridge’s right, on buildings of San Francisco. Sun sparkled on crests of each ocean wave, exemplifying the water’s presence all around them. Although shocking her system with new sensations, having gone from the horror of Willson’s Idaho trampling to the interior of a spacecraft, and now, to the middle of the ocean next to California, she welcomed this shock regardless. She cupped her right hand over her brow, trying hard to see the bridge.

“Yes, I think so,” she answered. “I see two tower things, and the rest of it, the road way part, stringing across. It’s, it’s rather faint, don’t you think?”

He turned around, away from her. “Yes, but at least there is less fog than usual. We are fortunate it is so clear.”

Though waves pounded and splashed around the containment vessel, nearly soaking them with each hit, amazingly, the vessel did not budge. Indeed, it was more like a tall, secure, underground tower, attached to the ocean’s bottom. Another incredible surprise.

Ra’am kept his head turned. She looked at his head, noticing his thick, black rope strands, shimmering dully under morning light. She shivered again. He continued his stance, observing the bridge, apparently oblivious to her scanning eyes. Not clumps of many, many small hair strands, like thick braids or tassels of human hair, as she had anticipated and assumed, but his ½ inch diameter hair strands were more like long, black growths, malleable horns, with a slightly rough surface resembling thousands of hair, yet not being so. She swallowed. Her heart beat faster, yet she had to touch them. The sun-sparkled silver contraption, holding the hair strands as a ponytail, begged for touching likewise.

Her hand rose from below, sneaked forward. She kept her other hand shading her eyes. Move, touch the silver hair tie. At least I have a reason, if he asks. Bit by bit, her hand moved closer, closer to his hair. He shouldn’t mind, should he?

Swoosh! A black flash of motion, a whipping of air. A light squeeze on her wrist. Her eyes widened. Ra’am had spun around and captured her small wrist with his enormous hand. Impossible! Though his grasp didn’t hurt, the suddenness of his motion and closeness of his hand’s geed’aso shocked ruthlessly.

“I apologize,” he said quickly. She trembled and looked in his face. Sincerity, if she could call it that, molded his expression. “It is a reflex, from years of military training.” He continued to hold her wrist. “I could see you wanted to touch my hair.”

“Hair? Not…not hair,” she said, shaking her head slowly.

“No, not like human hair. But hair nonetheless. Just different, far less strands.”

She swallowed secretly. “Yes, but what holds it back, that’s silver?”

“It is called a shfoferet yedet, a metallic and kleeproodah material composed mostly of proodat t’notah na’ad, a kleeproodah system programmed to wrap and adhere automatically when placed by ometvah hair. Would you like to see it function?”

He still held her wrist. “Sure, but…can you let go of me, please?”

“Yes, of course.”

Ra’am released her wrist. He reached around, detaching the shfoferet yedet from his hair. His thick, shoulder-length hair strands soon dangled loosely by his neck. Holding it in his hand, the silver object became instantly straight, horizontal. It appeared about 12 or 14 inches long, ¾ inch wide, and about ¼ inch to 3/8 inch wide.

Turning his head slightly, and placing it near his hand-bunched hair strands, the shfoferet yedet leaped up, encircling and tightening around the strands. It’s like the thing’s alive. Creepy!

“Would you like to see something else,” he asked, staring into her eyes, “besides the bridge?”

She gazed toward the bridge again, a ghostly, thin gray structure, so distant from their position. Only sunlight gave it some color. Waves splashing and dancing around them entertained far more lively than the bridge. “I thought it was supposed to be gold or red or something,” she said, “It doesn’t look like that.”

Ra’am turned, looking at the bridge. “We are too far. It is a rust-orange color.”

Good, look that direction.

She needed time to think. Yes, Ra’am had been good to her so far, but he was much too quick and strong; her small, fragile body contrasted lethally. Was his abrupt, terrifying grasp an indicator of possible things to come? Turning left, she noticed a hilly shoreline north of the bridge. Her father had taught her to swim well. Could she dive in now, make an attempt? Even some boats floated closer than the shore. Of course, the waves were a bit rough. She could make it, maybe, just maybe. Yet, how to climb out? She looked at the containment vessel’s sides; the sides bent inward. And then she considered Ra’am’s incredible speed, strength, and technology, and his desire not to have her leave. Worse of all, she remembered how Ra’am had held her last night; it felt so good. No, what am I thinking? Look at him, she scolded in her brain, he’s not human! I need to escape! But how?

SPLASH! Gallons of cold water pummeled Trenae. L.B. started to bark.

“AHHH!” she yelled. “It’s freezing!”

She looked down. From soaking hair strands on down to her waist, salty seawater covered her clothes. Some had even entered her mouth. She lurched toward the side, spitting it out. The previous wrangling in her mind proved very wrong; though she had been cold before, since it felt like 50 degrees in the ocean air, now she felt frozen. I never could’ve jumped in, swam, and made it to the shore.

She turned back. Their eyes met. Ra’am smiled, exposing his blue teeth. “Are you all right? The ocean water hit me also, yet not as much.”

Trenae looked down again. No! My breasts! The thin yellow shirt, now soaking wet, carelessly revealed the outline of her nipples. She folded her arms across her chest area, embarrassed and suspicious. Was this the real reason he brought me here? “No, I’m not,” she said, keeping her head down. “Can we leave now, please?”

“Yes we can, Trenae.”

Ra’am then began the process. After lowering the step she stood upon, he sealed the top of the containment vessel and enabled a quick descent of their enclosed vessel through the ocean’s water. She leaned back against the opposite side of the vessel, keeping her arms crossed. Her hair dripped, her shirt sopped closely to her shivering body. She looked at the floor. Strangely, the water that had fallen onto the floor now started disappearing. Though she wanted to question Ra’am about the mysterious process, her mouth shivered, unable to speak. She lifted her head. Ra’am crossed his arms and leaned against the curved wall, as she did, and stared at her. 

She looked down. L.B., wet too, sniffed the floor.

“I have no extra clothes for you now, but when we get back to Idaho, I can give you some,” Ra’am said sternly, yet politely. She looked up at him. “You can change your clothes and wear a blanket, for now.”

He’s GOT to be kidding. He must be hiding his true feelings. She avoided his stare and gazed toward the underwater scenery. “That’s okay, I’ll be fine,” she said. “I can just put on the dress I have and leave these pants on. They’re not too wet.”

For some reason, anger then boiled within her. Was it because she shivered and felt cold, or was it because she hadn’t eaten yet? Whatever the reason, she developed a burst of assertiveness and aimed it at Ra’am. She stared back up at him. “What the heck do you like about that bridge anyway? We could barely see it?”

Not flinching in the least, Ra’am held his stance and stared at her. “I thought you would like to see one of the greatest construction achievements of your 20th century. But we could not get close enough. Afterwards, I was going to take us to Monterey Bay, and then to the location of the Sequoia National Forest.”

“Oh…well, I guess it didn’t work out…that way,” she said quietly. Her anger subsided a bit. “But the bridge was okay. I mostly liked the ocean, and, and I guess it was nice to be by California. I’ve never been here before.”

“Your thoughts needed to change. You have been through much lately.”

Trenae took a deep breath and sighed. “Yeah, you’re sure right about that.” She looked down, away from his powerful presence.

In a short time, they were back on Ha-Ta. She began walking toward her room, to change the wet shirt. Before completely walking away, Ra’am told her he would be moving Ha-Ta beneath the continental shelf, as before, yet she did not need to be seated during the motion.

She stepped in her room, sealing the door. With careful pinching grasps, she peeled off the wet, yellow top. In its place, she put on her strapless green dress, but still kept on the yellow matching pants. Done with the dress, she slid her arms through the black leather jacket’s sleeves- no way was she wearing this dress alone! The pants felt a little wet, but nothing like the wet top. Warmth permeated the air on Ha-Ta, so she assumed the pants would air-dry quickly.

Like L.B.’s presence in her room last night, the scent of seawater on her yellow pants comforted her, a constant reminder of earth, her planet, while on board this alien vessel.

After Trenae left her room and found Ra’am by the shleetah maksheer, he invited her to the eyzkher mazon, for something to eat. She followed him; they walked in and sat down. He behaved quiet, pensive, as though concentrating on his inner thoughts. He spoke only when offering her some food or water. Maybe he’s just upset with me, she wondered, especially the way I’d badmouthed the Golden Gate Bridge. But regardless of his state of mind, she decided to lay low and keep quiet likewise, eating his offerings of vegetarian food, like last night, and munching on more peanut butter and cracker sandwiches.

Once L.B. calmed down a bit, allowing Ra’am to place a plate of food before him on the floor, the rambunctious dog ate too.

Ra’am’s quietness grew even more disturbing than his formidable and scary presence. She took a drink from her cup of water and then placed it down, the water energizing, helping her to find some inner strength. She decided to break the silence. “So, Ra’am…”

He looked up at her, away from his plate of food. “Yes…Trenae?”

She took another quick drink, clearing her throat. “Your technology is pretty advanced. But like how much more than earth’s? You know, like in years or something?” Placing the cup down, she clasped her hands together, beneath the table, and waited for his answer, watching his face. Try not to appear intimidated, she told herself.

“At the current level of your world’s most advanced technology, you must imagine adding 5000 years to its current pace of advancement, and also add the considerably higher intelligence of my species,” Ra’am said. “Then, you will arrive at our present level of technology.” He looked back down at his food, picked up a piece of ketoomahgas, and placed it in his mouth. He lifted his gaze. Glaring eyes. She noticed he chewed slowly, only adding to a sudden change in his countenance; he seemed threatening, calculating.

 I should’ve attempted to swim away! Even so, she tried to hold her ground. “Of course, I’m no expert, but shouldn’t your world be more advanced, for 5000 years?” Right after speaking the words, she regretted saying the words.

Ra’am leaned forward on his arms, glaring even closer. “How is it that your planet has progressed so slowly with its technology? Should not YOUR world be more advanced after 5000 years?” His voice rumbled louder. “Our entire civilized history spans over 7000 years, but it took my planet only 2000 years to begin space exploration, even beyond the current level of earth’s technology. It took your world approximately 5900 years simply to fly in your atmosphere. We have been exploring the universe for the past 5000 years.” Finished, he pushed himself from the table with his huge arms and leaned back against his seat, sitting up tall and confident.

“But,” she said softly, “your world’s…” She swallowed.  “Your world’s years, they’re longer, remember?”

“Of course I know that!” He nearly yelled. “Maybe,” he said, speaking lower, “what you need is a further example of our capabilities.”

Ra’am stood up and walked over, standing next to her. “Are you finished eating?”

She looked up at him. “Yes, I am.”

“Good. Then come with me, back to the shleetah maksheer.”

Trenae felt her heart rate increase. But she stood up. Ra’am turned and started walking out of the room. She followed him.

 Walking some distance, she soon sat in her seat again, in front of the shleetah maksheer, Ra’am in his seat. L.B. followed and lay on his blanket.

“Now, I will impress you further,” Ra’am said.

His cold voice and mannerisms frightened her. “What? Look, Ra’am, I’m sorry if I insulted you. I was just curious, that’s all. You’re…you’re not going to do something dangerous, are--”

“Relax. I will not hurt you,” he said casually, pressing some of the lighted buttons. “How would you like to see the Indian Ocean? You have not been there, correct?”

“You’re right, I’ve never been there. How…how are we going…to?”

Ra’am shot a piercing gaze at her, moving his head far too quickly to the right. She jolted back a bit. “Watch,” he demanded.

Earth in a 3D holographic image appeared above the memadgeemel. Subterranean matter they began traveling through appeared on the khalon.

But she focused her eyes on the 3D image. The red blinking ellipse began traveling down, straight down, toward the center of the earth. She lifted her stare up, toward the khalon. It displayed a bright central circle of light, surrounded by brown, gray, and black particles, spreading away from the circle, out to each four sides of the rectangular viewing window.

            At first sight, Trenae felt amazed. Yet soon, she became sickened. We’re becoming a living tomb, burrowing under billions of tons of matter! But as before, she felt no motion. Only the direction of the red blinking ellipse, through the holographic image, gave the proof.

            Terror took over her body. Heartbeats raced faster. Breaths increased. Her body trembled. How much more can I take? Sweat seeped from under her arms and tears developed in her eyes, with memories of science classes in high school scourging her brain; she remembered discussions of the inner core, outer core, and mantel of the earth, and how immensely hot they were, like the surface of the sun. And she remembered movies, pictures, and classes about volcanoes and hot lava. Rock and dirt not only would crush them, but hot molten lava too. No!

            She shot her gaze back at the khalon. Tiny red tinted particles now scattered outward too, away from the center light.

            She stared back at the 3D globe. With its see-though consistency, she could see their position move deeper and deeper into the earth. Layers could be seen, with several layers near the earth’s crust. Soon, the mantle, outer core, and inner core became discernible. Terrifyingly, the red blinking ellipse now traveled well within the mantle.

            Slowly, she turned toward Ra’am. “Ra’am, what…what are you doing?”

            He relaxed back in his seat and rested his arms on the chair’s sides, unconcern skinning his face. He turned her way. A fiery glare burned in his eyes. He’s insane, she thought. “We are now approximately 1800 miles from the earth’s surface and within the mantle, as you can see,” he said. “I am traveling straight through your planet.”

            “But it’s so…it’s so…hot.” Her words barely came out, as if a stranger spoke them. Her breathing increased even more.

She swore a gleeful sparkle shimmered in Ra’am’s eye, his stare yet burning. “It is now 5435.890 degrees Fahrenheit outside Ha-Ta,” he said, “and rising.”

            “What?” Stifled cries began shaking her voice. “That’s impossible…that’s impossible…that’s…”

Her voice trailed off to a whisper. She continued staring at Ra’am

            “There is that word again!” he said, anger twisting his expressions. “Stand up, feel the around the wall, ceiling, floor. Let me know if you can feel any heat!”

Now she did it. Trenae became dizzy. Why didn’t I jump into the ocean, why?

Turning down and right, Ra’am looked at the sleeping L.B. “Look, do you see him suffering?” he asked sternly.

            She turned and looked at the dog. He was fine. And true, she didn’t feel any heat. But she didn’t stand up.

Her eyes focused back toward the khalon, where the white star circle, surrounded by red and black particles, continued to scatter outward. Above the memadgeemal, the red blinking ellipse now zoomed into the outer core. Thumping, pounding beats pummeled Trenae’s inner chest. “You’re right, there’s no heat,” she said softly, tears in her eyes. “Please, can we go back? I’m sorry. I’m shaking again…I can’t take anymore.”

            Ra’am ignored her, pressing buttons on the control panel and watching the khalon.

“You frighten easily,” he said, after some time. “The temperature is now approximately 8357.0982 degrees Fahrenheit, and still rising, as we travel effortlessly into your planet’s outer core, a viscous iron alloy material that, amazingly, rotates, along with the inner core. A theory to your scientists, but fact for us, as Ha-Ta has detected this event. This is where 90% of your planet harbors its main magnetic strength.”

            Racing, turbulent thoughts forged, her mind struggling to find a logical explanation for this complete madness. “It’s all some…some sort of illusion, isn’t it? We should be melting and getting crushed…I don’t care how advanced you are!”

            “You want some evidence?” Ra’am spoke quickly. “You do not believe what your eyes perceive?”

            Trenae shot up from her seat, surprising herself. She raised her hands as high as she could, searching frantically for any sensation of heat. But again, none could be sensed. She looked down. L.B. awoke and poked his head up. She looked at Ra’am; he appeared so calm, yet so strange. He can’t be real!

            “Sit down now, Trenae,” he demanded.

            Her eyes watered more. Horrifying visions entered her mind, of being buried alive, writhing and screaming in excruciating pain, as scorching white-hot magma first crushed Ha-Ta and then proceeded to crush them. Billions and billions of tons of hot earth rock could smash them into oblivion. Yet, Ra’am didn’t care! She looked down at him. His eyes now pierced through her, his arms simply resting on his seat. So calm. Maybe he’s suicidal, even more suicidal than me!

She became desperate. “Please, Ra’am, take me back.”

Crying and shaking, her legs became rubber. She moved near Ra’am and submissively kneeled to the right of his seat. Quickly, gently, she placed both her trembling hands on his right hand. Ra’am turned his seat, facing it toward her seat and the delet yahmon. She let go of his hand. Her hands fell, landing on his right knee. With no other choice, she bowed her head down on his knee. Then she looked up at him. “Please,” she cried, “there is no way…there is no way we could be doing this. All the weight and heat out there! Please, Ra’am, I’ll do anything you want.” Again, she bowed down, placing her left cheek on his leg. She cried more, trembling and embracing his knee. Though his leg felt warm, stiff and sinewy geed’aso fibers pressed up from beneath his jeans, rippling her skin. But she didn’t care.

            “Trenae! Stop this and rise up. Sit back in your seat!”

            L.B. barked, yet kept his distance.

Slowly, Trenae lifted her head and looked at him. His eyes still pierced and threatened, yet also showed concern and sympathy around their edges. She still had a chance. “Please…I know what you want.” She wiped her eyes and nose with trembling fingers. But her intense fear made her braver. “You can have sex with me…you can, please. I won’t stop you. I don’t care…I don’t care…” Her words trailed off into soft, heaving cries.  She laid her face down on his knee again, moving herself closer to his body, on his thigh. With her arms caressing his thigh, she boldly rested the entire left side of her face on his leg, trying, hoping to subdue him.

Ra’am’s behavior had once again made her the shivering, sniffling blob of sorrow she had tried so hard to avoid.

            “Why do you continue to doubt me?” he asked. He didn’t touch or try to comfort her, making her even more fearful. “I saved your life! I do not want to hurt you!”

            She looked up from his leg. “But why? Why did you save my life? What do you want from me? To torment me, just like the people before you did?” 

            Ra’am leaned forward, grasping her hands from his leg. He arose, helping her to stand up with him. She watched him closely, his steps moving her until she backed down into her seat. He stood over her, staring down. “Look at you, crying again. All right, I will stop. But I will also retrieve a sample.” L.B. practically jogged in place with excitement now, his feet pattering the floor nearby. “Stay right here,” he told her. “I will be back.”

            Trenae turned and stared forward, at the khalon. The same terrifying design continued, a blinding white circle, surrounded by exploding black, brown, and red particles. But on the 3D image, the red blinking ellipse had stopped. And it had stopped in the middle of the earth’s inner core. Yes, they had stopped! But no! Not here! This couldn’t be happening! Her brain screamed and burned, yet found no relief.

            She turned again, finding Ra’am. He had opened the delet yahmon. “Oh my God!” she shrieked. “What…what are you doing?”

            Ra’am stood at the tunnel’s inside edge, still on the floor of Ha-Ta’s curved corridor, L.B. standing next to him. He showed no concern at all for the dog’s benefit, even as the far end of the silver tunnel presented a horrible scene. Although her view came at an angle, she could see it, some of it. She wanted to stand up, but shock paralyzed her. Venomous, heavy black matter weighted down directly outside Ha-Ta, at the end of the tunnel, just outside an invisible, transparent shield. Bright red particles sparkled by the shield. White light flashed in horizontal lines. The center of the earth behaved sadistically, violently.

            She turned her seat for a better view. She had to.

In speechless disbelief, she stared. Ra’am continued to show no concern for his dog. Without warning, the alien lifted his right arm up, back, and then thrust it forward. A long snake of hemoom prodoh bolted forth like lightening through the silver tunnel, bursting through the invisible shield at the tunnel’s end. Just at making contact with the outside black matter, the walls of the tunnel plunged inward, the doorway sealing shut.

Ra’am yanked hard. Miraculously, the hemoom prodoh snake slipped through Ha-Ta’s thick hull. At the snake’s end, an orange-sized clump of black matter appeared, completely encased in hemoom prodoh. Shock jangled Trenae’s body; Ha-Ta’s wall appeared as nothing had ever happened! Smooth and silvery light green as before, the wall showed no damage.

            Ra’am made a hard jerk, breaking the hemoom prodoh connection away from the black clump. The remainder hemoom prodoh snake rushed back into his koaksekhel. L.B. began to sniff at the strange object. It lay on the floor motionless, quiet, unnatural, directly between the now invisible delet yahmon and the opposite wall of the corridor. Not exactly a ball, but more like a jagged clump of dark clay, covered by a thick layer of clear and silvery protection. Black. Ominous.

            “No, L.B.,” Ra’am said. “Come here.”

L.B obeyed his master, walking closer to Ra’am, wagging his tail, looking up. Ra’am glanced back down at him and petted his head briefly.

Slowly lifting his head, Ra’am turned toward Trenae. “There,” he said calmly, motioning his hand toward the object, “there is your proof. It needs time to depressurize and diminish in heat. But you may come over and observe it, if you wish.”

            He walked away, L.B. following.

As in a trance, she realized Ra’am no longer stood by the delet yahmon, yet she couldn’t determine his current position. Her gaze was held hostage, the black clump hypnotizing, forcing her to stare unblinkingly at its presence on the floor. Evil. Motionless. But, the black clump was deceitful. It COULD move. Yes, it wanted to wobble over, reach forth with scorching black tentacles, and burn her. Yes, that’s what it wanted. She had to keep staring, its size growing larger, until a screaming, tentacle-laden black monster, moving closer, closer…

“Trenae.” No, that couldn’t be. Where am I?

            “Trenae!” Again her name was called out. She looked toward the voice. Someone held her chair on both sides, directly in front of her. Only faintly could she see a strange being. He looked blurry, distant. “Trenae,” the being said, “I have done damage. You cannot, you cannot sustain, handle…I am sorry.” The words sounded from afar.

Someone cupped her chin, gently. A hand touched her forehead, pressing it softly. Something licked her fingers. Huh? What was that? It felt wet and warm; her attention became alerted. Looking down at her hand, she felt the world, her body, spinning. After putting blurry images together, the view materialized; a Golden Retriever stood by her knees. How did a dog get here?

            Her body felt turned forward. In a faraway distance, she could see a bright, white tunnel, surrounded by edges of red and black pebbles, suddenly disappear behind a silvery light green wall. She felt her breathing and heart rate slow down, her body become more relaxed. Her lungs gasped an involuntary quick, deep breath.

Someone’s hand clutched her left hand. She looked down. A large hand covered by blue lines. Surprised, she looked to her left.

            “It is good we left. The temperature was approaching 10, 950 degrees Fahrenheit at the earth’s inner core. Although, we were never in any danger.”

Am I on drugs? His face materializing clearer and clearer, she remembered- no, no, I’m with Ra’am, the alien from Harkoav, and his dog, L.B, on his spacecraft Ha-Ta! This can’t be!

“You are receiving my calming touch again,” Ra’am said. “This voyage was too harsh for your injured mind. Foolish me, I should have known better.”

             Both her hands relaxed on the sides of the chair. Ra’am continued grasping her left hand. After a glance at his hand once more, Trenae laid her head back against her seat. She stared speechlessly at the 3D image, only able to observe nearby surroundings, and to listen.

            “We have almost arrived,” Ra’am said. “I had to travel 15,700 miles per hour, in the short time it took.”

Her eyes honed in on the red blinking ellipse. It blinked at the opposite end of the globe, a straight line from California, just near the earth’s surface.

She looked at him.

“Are you all right now?” he asked.

            Staring at him now, she could feel no fear. “Yes, I think…think so. I was hallucinating, I think.”

            He turned his head, and stared toward the control panel. She followed his line of sight. “We are here. We are approximately 4 miles beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean, near what is called the Wharton Basin.” The khalon opened again. A black scene appeared.

            Trenae gasped, startled.

            “No, Trenae, it is merely the deep ocean.”

            She looked at him again. His face showed concern and remorse. He motioned her to look toward the screen. “See, look! The light, from Ha-Ta!”

            Slowly turning her head forward, she watched the khalon. Conical beams of light shone through dark, thick transparent liquid. It was definitely not the earth’s core. But how had they traveled so quickly from one area to another? I’m so confused!

Instantly, she knew what she had to do- leave this spaceship.

            Trenae snatched her hand from beneath Ra’am’s grasp. He didn’t stop her. She stood up.

            “Where are you going?” he asked.

            She ignored him. Only L.B. received a glance from her eyes. Walking across his blanket, the dog stood up and got in her way. Yet she maneuvered around him and continued away from the alien, toward the delet tekrah and the long evesmol seat.

            “Trenae, what are you doing?”

She heard his voice, but couldn’t acknowledge it. Her eyes kept toward the evesmol.

Walking a little farther, she looked up at the ceiling. Yeah, I’m beneath it now.

“Can you tell me what is wrong?” Ra’am asked.

Removing her stare from the ceiling, she focused her eyes up and at Ra’am. He was standing now, his arms near his sides, confusion covering his face.

She glared at him. “I want to get out…now. Not later, not tomorrow, but right now! YOU HEAR ME, YOU SCUMBAG?” Her voice rattled within both her head and the spacecraft, surprising her. Yet she kept her glare on him, giving her best ‘don’t mess with me’ look. “YOU OPEN IT NOW!” she yelled again. She moved toward the evesmol, staring at Ra’am, and then effortlessly stepped upon the seat. Her feet stomped all over the dark blue blanket they both shared last night.

She turned from him and touched the walls near the seat, and then reached her hands toward the ceiling. She stared back at him, though her search continued. “LET ME OUT, ALIEN!” Loud words hissed through clenched teeth. “I’M NOT KIDDING!”

            She again turned back toward the wall and ceiling. From her eye’s corner, she saw Ra’am approach, slowly. L.B. made short, loud barks.

“I cannot let you leave here,” Ra’am said calmly. “You would be instantly crushed to death by the weight of the water, not to mention the extreme cold. You are not thinking properly. Just let me take hold of you again, calm you down.”

When finally near, Ra’am brought out his left hand toward her.

            Trenae couldn’t control herself. She clenched her teeth again. She turned fully around and looked briefly at Ra’am’s hand. Swiftly she swung her right arm back, created a fist, and flung it at his hand. An instant vision appeared, of her and Darin as children: she was attempting to punch Darin, to stop his constant name-calling and harassment. Her fist hit Darin on the shoulder. She remembered the fury of the moment. But she also remembered the sorrow afterwards, at hurting another human being. A part of her soul died, when others felt pain.

            The vision disappeared as her fist failed to work. “You cannot hurt me,” Ra’am said.  He had caught her fist, held it solid.

She lurched backwards, toward the wall, leaving her caught fist behind. “You stay away from me!  Stay…AWAY!” Though grappling, wrestling to free her hand, Ra’am’s hand clutched immovable, part of a stone statue. Her breaths wheezed harder, harder. She looked in his face, found his eyes; his eyes displayed concern, yet showed relentless, massive power and control, as did the rest of his demeanor. I’m going about this all wrong! Yet her anger and fear had taken over. I have to keep trying, she thought.

            “It didn’t…it didn’t,” she said.

            “It didn’t what?” he asked.

            She started crying again. So what, keep going! “It didn’t seem to bother you…that we could’ve been crushed to death by boiling hot lava, did it? But nooo! Now you’re worried about water?” Her voice became a loud whisper, her throat constricting from sobbing. “Well, I don’t care, okay? And don’t use that stupid calming touch on me again! I don’t need it! I WANT to be upset!”

With Ra’am still holding her fist, she began slowly sinking to the evesmol’s surface. She closed her tearful eyes. “I hate you! You hear me? I want to be upset! And I hate you, I hate you…” Her voice trailed off again. L.B. barked a few times.

            Ra’am let go of her hand. Trenae yanked her hand back and forced her back against the curved wall. Once sitting against it, she tugged her knees into her chest and curled up into a ball, wrapping her arms around her knees, fighting against the resistance of her black leather jacket’s tight fit. The dark blue blanket lay beneath her. Maybe I could be invisible now. She rested her forehead on her knees and wrapped her arms around her head. My crying, and Ra’am, needs to disappear!

            Through half covered ears, she heard Ra’am sit down on the other end of the evesmol, the end closest to the control panel. She heard him talk quietly to L.B., telling the dog to sit and stay still. She heard L.B. licking his master and pattering his paws on the floor, apparently struggling to be a good dog. It’s amazing what someone can hear when they try to disappear.

            “Trenae, I am sorry,” Ra’am said. “I am very sorry that I frightened you. You were right, I was trying to impress you. I suppose…anger contained me too, that you did not trust me nor believe me. But I want only to help you, not hurt you. The whole purpose and intention of this trip was to get your mind off your recent past, never to cause more damage. Believe me…please. But I must understand, you do not trust me, and act accordingly.” His last words nearly whispered. Yet she didn’t dare lift her head. She only listened. “Trenae, can you look at me, please?”

            The tone of his very last words captured her feelings, as they came soft, pleadingly, even with his deep, encompassing voice. She broke. She lifted her head and looked at him. Now Ra’am appeared so benign, holding L.B.’s head in his lap, his soft strokes pressing L.B.’s fur. Even more curiously, possible loneliness, sadness melted Ra’am’s fierce face.

             She kept her legs wrapped tight. He continued looking at her.

            “Do you really hate me?” he asked.

What a question. She felt curious, shocked. Thinking for a moment, she turned her head to the right and looked down at Ha-Ta’s wide, curved corridor. Why should he care if I hate him? Her heart suddenly went out to him, but she quickly swiped it back. Reason with your mind here, not your heart!

She turned back to him. “No.” She scanned his face and body, while wiping her eyes and nose. “I don’t…hate you. You’re just, different. And you look so, so frightening and strong. And you’re too smart. And I can’t trust you, maybe because I haven’t known you that long. But I really, truly appreciate that you saved my life. But I just can’t understand why. I mean, why me? I’m not worth anything, unless you have another motive. And that’s what I keep thinking…that you want me, just to experiment on me, because, you’re an alien and that’s pretty much what you guys do.”

“No, I do not want to experiment on you,” he said. “And I will not hurt you. It is only as I told you before- you cannot leave. You are much safer here with me. I simply need some help with my final research, in Idaho and other areas, of plant and animal life. You can help me, that is all.”

She sniffed her nose quietly and wiped her eyes again. “Safer with you? I’m gonna have a heart attack, if you do something like this again!”

“No,” he said quickly, “I will not, not again. Once more, I apologize.”

His eyes began to pierce through her, like before. She looked down at her knees; her knees hurt. Slowly, she let them unbend and slide away from her body, until her feet stretched out to the seat’s edge, discovering the seat’s width seemed much wider than a twin bed, like the bed in her room. Her arms remained crossed below her breasts, on her abdomen, her stare gazing downward.

“Are you all right?” he asked.  “You had me worried.”                                                  

L.B. walked over and sniffed her slippers. Trenae looked up and smiled at the dog. But she quickly dissolved her smile. She looked back at Ra’am. “You have to realize that I have had some really, really terrible and horrible last few days,” she said. “I’m exhausted and definitely not myself. And to deal with you too…and your ship, space ship? It’s really hard!”

“I understand, I do.” He brought his right hand out to L.B. The dog walked back to his master. Once he had L.B. and caressed his head, Ra’am turned back toward her, giving a pensive, warm expression. Suddenly, she found that hidden beneath his frightening, disturbing geed’aso, his black eyes, and his thick hair strands emerged a human, a man, a handsome man. One simply had to look past the alien features, and find the person inside. But it proved very difficult.

“Do you want me to hold you again?” he asked, staring at her.

What were his words? She heard them, yet could only stare at his face, in a spell. Time passed slowly. “Yes,” she finally said, softly.

He gave L.B. one final pat on the head. L.B. slumped to the floor and lay down.

Ra’am stood up. She watched him. He towered over her, a black skyscraper, approaching her feet and looking down. She stared up at his face, observing him move downward, toward her. He knelt down on the seat, carefully placing his right arm behind her back. Trenae leaned forward a little to allow him. As he came nearer, the right side of his head, all his black hair strands, came within inches of her face. She breathed in deeply, trying to obtain his scent. Coppery, pleasant. He scooped his left arm under her knees. He lifted her up. She was next to his body once more.

After just a moment, Ra’am sat back down on the evesmol, the bed they shared last night. He held her so she sat upon his lap. She couldn’t look at him, but instead buried her face against his black shirt. In lingering motion, she began wrapping her arms over his body, placing one hand near his left shoulder, her other arm around his lower back. Though her jacket impeded movement again, she embraced him anyway.

Again, she felt it; that sharp pain cut within, by her stomach, hurting yet feeling pleasant at the same time. She whimpered and took a deep breath.

“Are you all right?” Ra’am asked, his voice rumbling through her body, like last night.

“No,” she whispered. She closed her eyes and lay against him. “When I’m near you, I get a stabbing pain in my stomach. Why?”

“I do not know.”

A light touch from his powerful hand warmed, pressed against her stomach. She opened her eyes. She took her hand from his shoulder and placed it upon his hand, on her stomach. She looked down at their hands together. Her body trembled.

“What is wrong, Trenae? Do you want me to use the calming touch?”

Gradually, she lifted her gaze up, toward his face. She couldn’t see his eyes; he stared down at their hands touching together.

But then Ra’am lifted his head. He gazed steadily into her eyes. Her heart pounded harder. But she didn’t care. Through half-shut eyes, Trenae studied his face, his features. It was difficult. Nevertheless, she quietly, stealthily persevered and learned something; Ra’am’s eyes resembled black and dark aqua stones, chiseled with perfection and beauty as narrow slits. Yet how could they be, at the same time, so powerful and frightening? And though his nose and mouth, the rest of his face, had almost perfect form too, the blue tendons that poked their way through, from beneath his skin, in the same manner transformed his handsome lines and shapes into formidable, terrible sections of flesh.

Human, yet alien.         

“Yes, or no?” he asked, gently persistence.

I forgot his question. Forgetting too, where they were, where they sat together. She knew only of him. “What?” she asked, in a daze. “Oh…sorry.”

It happened; Trenae felt both their eyes lock in a steady, overwhelming stare. Another shot of that strange pain seized her abdomen, at the same time affecting her heart, disrupting, skipping beats.

Ra’am broke their locked stare. Behaving shyly, he slowly turned away and looked down at their hands. Even though she felt frightened, compassion and concern entered her mind, for her captor’s inhibited behavior, forcing her to act. “Oh Ra’am baby, I could make you feel so good,” she murmured. “Just let me, okay?” She softly lifted her hand from his hand and placed it on his stomach, then his chest, slowly gliding her hand upwards, towards his shoulder, feeling him gently, intensely the entire way. His abdomen and chest felt inundated with solid, ridged, tendon-laced muscles.

Still, Ra’am wouldn’t look at her.

Removing her other hand from his back, she then carefully placed it around the back of his neck. With both hands in place, she drew her body up more, closed her eyes, and gently placed her lips on his neck, kissing him there. As one part of her struggled to rationalize this crazed behavior, the other part drove her forward, compelling her to kiss his neck first in one area, then another area, and another. Her mind became impaled with confusion, yet she couldn’t cease her actions. With her lips tasting his coppery scent, touching the steel-like fibers beneath his skin, Ra’am at the same time removed his hand from her stomach. He began embracing her, tightly.

Suddenly terror surged through Trenae’s body. What have I started again? She felt him stroke his hands over her back, at the same time pressing his hands firmer, beginning to hold her closer, closer. Her pulse raced faster and faster. Trying not to show her terror, she continued to kiss him on the neck, drawing herself even nearer to him.

But little by little, Ra’am began loosening his grip around her body.

Before completely releasing his embrace, he gave her one last tight, warm hug. She stopped kissing him, puzzled by his new behavior. She moved her head away from his neck, fell back into his arms a bit, and looked up into his face. He stared directly into her eyes, yet appeared distraught, austere.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, her eyes half-open. She felt so confused.

He quickly, yet gently lifted her up off his lap, turned, and placed her on the seat, so she sat alone.

L.B. sprung from the floor, walked over, and begged for attention from her. Trenae rested her hands on L.B.’s furry head.

Ra’am sat down next to her. “We should return, to Idaho, Gospel Hump Wilderness,” he said. “There are many things I must do.”

She looked in his face. “But…wait a minute. What just happened here?”

Ra’am looked down, but soon raised his head and stared back in her eyes. Strict determination covered his face. “I want to help you. But, we are different. Two different species. It is…not…”

He stood up. After a moment, he began to back away from her, toward the control panel. His eye contact became sporadic and confused, staring at her for a second, then glancing at the floor or to either side of himself. “At lo nakhon, at lo havat nokhree,” he said softly. “Toeh, toeh. At lo nakhon.”…