Trenae didn’t want the memory, not now. Yet she knew why it haunted.

She cringed, squeezing her eyes shut. But the memory forced itself anyway, in heightened details, putting her there again; darkness surrounded Trenae as she stood at the cliff’s edge, her hand shining the flashlight far below, at the stream racing around sharp rocks, sending faint gurgling sounds to her ears. In her other hand, she held the wine bottle. Her purse draped her shoulder. Maybe the fall would kill her, maybe not.

Her thoughts wrangling and wrestling, she finally changed her mind. Yet as she backed away from the edge, both spiked high heels of her boots slipped on crushed gravel. Her backside landed hard on flat rock, sending her belongings airborne. Nothing mattered now. Searching, grasping, her nails scraped, bled into stone, loose brush branches, anything. But it all failed. Her foot jolted painfully against a lower protruding boulder, on the cliff’s side, twisting, thrusting her outward, empty, free into the cold night air. She began to fall, headfirst, to her demise below.

The doorknob clicked.

Her eyelids sprung open; the memory scattered. Dark brown wood swept forward.

A female reporter entered the room.... 














                                                                Chapter 1



“I can do this,” she whispered. “I can finish this interview.”

Nerves rattling her fingers, Trenae looked down at the now crumpled piece of paper. She held the fluttering paper close to her face, a nearby street lamp offering a small parcel of light. “8-5-4-7”, she whispered again, “19th street north.”

She looked up. The same numbers, 8-5-4-7, hung near the front door of a light blue house with white trim. A long, straight cement walkway, about 50 feet in length, led to the home’s front porch. Trenae began stepping toward the house.

Several large trees, some with low, empty branches and others covered with large pine needle plumes, hovered ahead on her right and left sides. But regardless of their type, they harbored a dark, silent eeriness; they could be a place for someone to hide. Trying to ignore their doom, she stared directly ahead. Some relief arrived; the older, illuminated blue home, possessing a charming, white rail porch, beckoned her on, giving a bright, welcoming grin.

She dug for and found some nerve. She hurried her legs, cutting through the darkness from the trees. Disturbing chills surged through her body, as she hoped no one waited in secret, ready to pounce upon her and do what she had long feared they would do. Other thoughts, memories, helpfully distracted, though their presence gave little comfort: “Okay, Trenae,” said Claire Bartell, Editor-in-chief of The Examiner, Boise’s only newspaper, “this is the situation here. You see, we can’t print an article about some major slander against the Governor, or anyone really, unless you can supply us with police documentation, an FBI report, legal document, like a filed lawsuit against the Governor, as proof.” Warren Emter, Jenny’s editor, a heavyset man with a shimmering bald head, agreed: “Or we could face a major defamation lawsuit.” 

Some words jarred far less: “Happy before-hand birthday,” Jenny had remarked, after hearing Trenae’s 22nd Golden birthday was only two days away. A quick sigh of relief puffed through Trenae’s lips, as she continued her fast pace.

Yet the dark trees grew, expanding their powerful, sinister arms around the walkway, tightening their doom.

Think of other things. Quickly.

But Trenae hadn’t left quietly into the morning. No. Instead, she dropped the bomb: Jenny needed to know why Trenae was still alive, even after all she had been through. The answer? An alien had helped her. And lo and behold, Jenny hadn’t laughed! No. Rather, Trenae had been invited here, to do an interview exactly about her encounter with an alien. Not for a newspaper article, but for a book. The irony!

Luck in her pockets, Trenae soon reached the bottom step to the porch, unscathed. She quickly skipped up the white steps and arrived in the encircling comfort of soft orange light from a ceiling porch lamp. She lifted her fist, ready to knock, but then stopped herself, pausing to think. She turned around. No one slinked or crept from the dark. She turned back toward the door. Would this really work, instead of having a newspaper print the story? Was it worth the risk to come here? A newspaper article just seemed better. Yet too, as long as someone wrote it down and had it published, word would get around.

And fortunately, after doing a little bit of checking, Jenny appeared trustworthy.

Cold, nerve-clenched knuckles landed three soft taps on the wood. 

The door opened. “Oh, great! You’re here! Come in, Trenae,” Jenny said, her words grateful, excited. “Are you okay?” Jenny’s tone suddenly changed. “You look rather pale.”

Trenae stepped inside. Trying not to spoil the reporter’s cheerful mood with her own obvious fear, she gave a kind smile. “Well, I guess I’m all right now. We should be okay.”

Jenny swung the door close. “You worry a lot, about them still trying to get you, don’t you.”

“Yes, I do.”

With eager fingers, Jenny bolted both locks on the door. “We should be safe now, right?”

Trenae stared into her eyes. “I honestly don’t know, to tell you the truth. But I think so. They’re not here, now. They would’ve gotten me already, before I made it to your door. I guess that’s why I looked so worried…I think we’ll be okay. You want me to leave, though?”

Jenny walked in front of her. “Are you kidding? I never let my fear get in the way of a good story. Even though, I have to admit, this is a little unnerving.” Some fear did pale the reporter’s face. “But, unless they cut the phone line or something, we can always call the police. Or run to the neighbor’s house. There are houses on either side, you know.”

What happened to not being afraid of Governor Willson and his crime scene, like Jenny said at The Examiner? Oh well, this woman’s only human. “Yes, I know,” Trenae said, “I saw them.”

“So, take your jacket off.” Jenny smiled. “Relax. I think everything will be fine. Just lay it on that red chair behind you. I’ll be right back- got to check on that tea!”

Jenny hurried away, toward the kitchen.

Turning back, Trenae laid her black leather jacket on a comfy red sofa, positioned in the room’s corner, a tall lamp with a white, ruffled lampshade looming above. Then, she turned around.

Cozy, warm lighting greeted her, from lamps placed in various locations around the small living room. In front of her, on the room’s right side, a flight of Victorian era stairs led to a second floor. Turning left and back, she noticed double, side-by-side windows, facing the porch, bordered by light blue curtains. Thankfully, the curtains were shut. She turned forward again and saw a blue and white striped sofa. Not far from the sofa, near the kitchen entrance was a red sofa chair, matching the one now keeping her jacket. Both the striped sofa and coffee table rested upon a large red, blue, and tan Oriental rug.

With the room’s cream-colored walls and particular spectrum of warm hues, Trenae began feeling coaxed into a semi-relaxed state.

Jenny appeared, carrying a small oval tray with two white teacups and proceeded toward the coffee table. “Come on over,” she said, “don’t be shy.”

Trenae began stepping around and in front of the sofa, near the coffee table.

“Here, you can sit here,” Jenny said. She placed the tray on the table and began wiping crumbs off the sofa’s far left side, the side nearest the kitchen entrance. “Sorry, I always eat in front of the TV at night.”

“No, that’s okay.” Trenae smiled, her spirits lifting a little. “I don’t mind.”

Finished wiping, Jenny pointed to the clean area. “Go ahead, sit down. I’ll be right back. Left my recorder and note pad in the kitchen.” Jenny hurried away.

Lowering her body upon the requested spot, Trenae began thinking, feeling a little nervous. I’d better listen carefully, for any unusual sounds, from either outside or inside.

She stared at a wooden TV entertainment center, across the room, to keep her nervous mind occupied. A DVD-CD player? She saw one, with two matching large floor speakers boasting their presence on both the left and right side of the entertainment center.

Clomping footsteps diverted her attention. “Take a cup of tea,” Jenny said, entering again. “Go ahead. I just need to move this chair over.” The other red sofa chair received a good yank, dragging from near the kitchen entrance and being placed diagonally to Trenae’s left. “There, that’ll work.”

Trenae grasped one of the white cups, lifting it to her mouth, sipping the hot, fragrant liquid. “Gosh, this is pretty good.”

“Thanks, I try.” Jenny placed the tiny digital recorder, the same one she had at The Examiner on the coffee table. Its miniscule LCD screen displayed Tues, 2/20/07, 7:09 pm. She also placed down a similar note pad and pencil. Trenae suddenly remembered Jenny’s mention of her odd, atypical reporter quirk, at using both a recorder and note pad at the same time. And she remembered too, Jenny’s obsession with chronological order of details.

Bending forward, Jenny picked up the remaining white cup and took a sip of the chamomile tea. She looked at Trenae. “Trenae, if you don’t mind me saying, but, you really don’t seem the type to work at Fontel’s.”

“Is it that transparent?” Trenae placed her cup on the table.

Jenny smiled. “I suppose you could say that. I’ve interviewed some of those girls before, when there were some community protests going on about smut businesses in town, and you don’t fit the bill. Maybe one was like you, but not many.”

“What do you mean, exactly?”

“You seem kind of shy, introverted. Too sweet, not hardened. Know what I mean?”

Trenae looked down at her jean-covered legs and brought her hands together, rubbing them slightly. Then she slipped her fingers around the bottom edges of her black flannel top, adjusting it better, by her waist and hips, to relieve her chest area; her large breasts could often impede a comfortable position. There, that’s better. She reached forward, taking the cup of tea again.

“But you really look good, if you don’t mind me saying. You have such pretty blond hair, so wavy and long, and you’re attractive and look slim too.”

“Thank you,” Trenae said sweetly, giving Jenny a smile.

Trenae glanced at Jenny’s body. “But you look slim too.”

“Yeah, I suppose we’re both lucky that way.”

“Why? How much do you weigh?”

“I’m 5’8” tall,” Jenny answered, “and usually weigh about 112, depending.”

“Really?” Trenae felt surprised. “That seems a little skinny. I’m 5’5 1/2” and about 115.”

Jenny took another tea sip. While she did, Trenae secretly noticed Jenny’s thin, shoulder length red hair hung loosely and softly by her face, bringing out her deep blue eyes.

“Most days I just don’t find time to eat, running here and there with reporting, doing my book,” Jenny said. “But mostly, it’s genetics. My mom and dad, they’re both thin.”

Though white-skinned, Jenny had a healthy glow. But she did seem a little too skinny in her form-fitting yellow tee shirt and tight jeans, especially judging from the prominent boniness of Jenny’s hands, wrists, and elbows.

“Both my mom and dad are a little heavy,” Trenae said.

“I still think you look really good, though. And I’m gonna guess that was the main reason you got hired. Were you one of those really popular girls in High School?”

A disturbing memory sliced its way. Trenae looked down, just a moment. She eyed Jenny. “No, not really. Somewhat, in a bad way. I just slept with this one guy, just one time and--”

“You were a virgin?”

“Yeah, like my first time.” Trenae stared down. “And then all of a sudden after that, I was given this reputation as easy, a slut. I couldn’t believe it. I was 16 then. I just sort of withdrew from everyone and kept to myself. My grades went south. I had always been a good student, like straight A’s, but…Some of the things the guys said, even some of the girls too, was just so cruel. It was a big problem for me. I missed a lot of school days. That’s why I left school, later that year. I never graduated.” She stared in Jenny’s eyes. “Believe me, looks aren’t everything.”

“Darn, I’m really sorry. But, I still think you’re pretty. I would say good enough to be a model, if you ask me.”

“Really, you think so?”

“Yes, honestly.”

“Thanks, I could use the compliment,” Trenae said softly, her gaze lowering a little.

Jenny crossed her arms, being careful not to drop the small note pad. “But with that kind of negativity in High School, what made you go to Fontel’s House?”

Hoping the hot liquid would ease the troublesome nature of Jenny’s question, Trenae took another quick sip. A slight tremor fumbled her hand, as she placed the cup down. “My mother wanted me to take the job.”

“Wait a minute…your mother?”

“Yes, my mother.” Trenae’s voice softened again.

“My mother would kill me, literally, if I worked at a strip club!”

“Well,” Trenae began, “I was working at Stan’s Pharmacy, in Idaho City, where we lived. But my mom thought Fontel’s would help me come out of my shell, make us some good money. And as my brother would say, help me get over being such a big loser.” Jenny’s jaw dropped. “Actually, that’s what my mom always called me too. That, and the ‘B’ word. They both called me that. So, I figured I had--”

“I can’t believe this.”

Trenae gazed down at the Oriental rug, away from Jenny’s shocked stare. “Umm, my mom and brother are not very nice people.”

“Yeah, sounds so,” Jenny said gently.

“They’re the opposite of me. But my mom is also an atheist, a firm believer in evolution, and so her belief system is a little different than most people.”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” Jenny said, a serious tone edging her voice. “I’m pretty much an atheist too, someone who feels evolution is rather accurate. But I’m a good person.”

“Yes, you seem to be. But not my mom. Or my brother.” Trenae sighed, and then stared into Jenny’s eyes. “They’re evil, trust me. I went through many years of physical and emotional abuse, after my father died.”

“Really? When did your father die?”

At the mention of her father, Trenae felt a little better. But then she remembered his death. She took a deep breath and began explaining the sad details. Her father died of a massive heart attack in the summer, the summer before Trenae’s freshman year in high school. He was just 51. His death crushed Trenae mercilessly, since not only was he a kind, caring man, but his presence softened the blow from her mom’s coldness. And Darin too, treated her with more respect when her father was around. With Dad gone, her mom and Darin attacked Trenae, emotionally and physically, like never before.

Caring, attentive sparkles lighted Jenny’s eyes, encouraging Trenae to continue. She revealed how Dad often called her ‘Resi, my sweet, caring Resi’, and then gave Trenae a big hug. ‘Resi’ came from Trenae’s middle name, Resica, the namesake of picturesque falls gracing a park in eastern Pennsylvania. She explained further, after Jenny mentioned the names were pretty, that her mom wanted Renae, but her father wanted Tamara, and so they hit a compromise. And Lafayette was French, though her father held Swedish and Chippewa Indian heritage too.

Jenny’s gaze filled with concern. She asked Trenae if high school teachers or counselors, social services, or the police ever became involved, with the abuse Trenae encountered. Trenae then explained how the abuse worsened, but then turned for the better. Recalling ugly, pensive memories, sadness toning her voice, Trenae revealed how one evening before supper, when she was 16, her mother angrily stalked her around the kitchen, accusing Trenae of stealing money. Darin just stood by, watching silently, though Trenae knew he was actually responsible. Backed into a corner, Trenae tried to get away. But her mom was too quick, grabbing, pushing Trenae through the open basement door. Fortunately, the basement stairs flowed down five steps, then became a platform, and then turned another direction down more steps. Trenae merely crashed to the platform, but not without damage; her arm had caught an exposed nail, and her fall broke only by the cement wall butting the platform, causing further pounding, bruising injuries. In pain and shock, she looked up the stairs, at the doorway. Darin and her mom just stood there, quiet shadows, not saying a word.

Jenny gasped, but Trenae kept going.

Finally, her mom asked if she was all right. But not Darin. He remained the quiet, malevolent shadow. Yet eventually, Darin did help Trenae up the stairs, placing her in the car. Traveling to the hospital, Mom pleaded Trenae not to tell what really happened. And as typical, Trenae often being the sucker for people and their problems, Mom’s pleading words melted Trenae’s startled mind; she didn’t tell.

However, her forgiving behavior appeared to pay off. After observing Trenae’s injury, a gash needing 32 stitches, Mom and Darin avoided further physical abuse toward Trenae, until she left and lived at Willson’s mansion. But she figured their behavior stemmed from fear of arrest, not compassion. And since the injury happened during autumn, when she wore long sleeve shirts to school, no one else found out, hence preventing accusations by teachers or friends.

Even so, her mom and Darin’s emotional abuse did not end.

“Your brother, he really hurt you too?” Jenny asked.

“Yeah, Darin had punched and kicked me a few times…But worse, he had tried forcing himself on me a few times.” I can’t believe I just said that, Trenae thought.

Jenny covered her mouth. “You mean like, try to rape you?”

Sensing concern from Jenny, Trenae felt able to go on. “Yes. With all the stuff happening at school, and he had heard about it from some friends, he kept asking me. I said no, of course, every time. He tried to attack me once, but, I got away. He never really bothered me again, like that. It was…it was…terrible being around them.” Trenae gently shook her head, gazing down and grasping her hands together. She again remembered the fall, the terror, of being pushed down the stairs. An involuntary shudder rattled her body. Her arm hurt so much!

“You all right?” Jenny asked.

Trenae snapped her head up and smiled. “Yeah, sorry. I’m okay. Sorry I told that, about my brother. I guess I needed to tell someone.”

“No, no. It’s okay. But why on earth do you think they were so mean? What was going on?”

Taking a tea sip at the same time Jenny did, Trenae began her answer. After her father died, Trenae’s mom had trouble keeping a job. Mom should have moved them to Boise, to make things better, but she did not. So they were on and off welfare, food stamps, going to food banks, and so on. Trenae grew up poor. Though her father, a welder, didn’t make that much money, it was definitely financially better when he was alive.

Apparently, the stress from poor finances eventually crumbled her mom’s steadfastness. Mom always drank, but then she and Darin began smoking pot, and then doing harder drugs. They both tired to pressure Trenae to use some, but Trenae explained to Jenny, looking her directly in the eye, that she always feared drugs, for some reason. Trenae just kept to drinking alcohol, her mind comfort of choice. But she concluded that was the reason her mom and brother became mean, then meaner, even stronger and more aggressive, as the drugs settled within their brains, wrecking mental stability. Trenae just crouched and hid more, avoiding friends as well.

But toward the end of her 16th year, Trenae noticed more money landed in Mom and Darin’s hands. And the two seemed more positive, less critical of Trenae, though they both still behaved with malicious intent. Trenae wondered, since Darin, 20 then, merely worked at Wyatt’s Welding and Machine, in Boise, a rather low paying job. And her mom yet received some state help. Trenae’s only conclusion, though she had no proof - Darin and her mom were selling drugs.  

Trenae paused and formed a wondering stare. “Gosh, Jenny, this is really negative stuff I’m talking here. You must really think I’m some sort of lowlife now.” Trenae looked down at her hands.

She heard Jenny lean forward a bit. “Hey, no. We all have extra baggage we carry from the past. Everybody does. But your dad was a great person, right?”

Sunlight found a space between the clouds, so its light could shine through. Trenae lifted her head. “He had been in the Marine Corp, in Vietnam.”


“But, it changed him, for the better. He always used to tell Darin and I that he had seen enough death and destruction, that he just wanted to see peace and love now. He became a born-again Christian after he ended his time in Vietnam. He used to go to a Baptist church in Boise, quite a few Sundays. He took Darin and I, but my mom, of course…”

“Wouldn’t go, right?”

“Yeah, you got it. He could never change her. She would always throw the evolution stuff on my dad, and he could never give her a convincing enough response, I guess. He just kept telling her it was a matter of faith. But…” 

Jenny placed the note pad and pencil on her lap, leaned back in the red sofa, and crossed her arms. “Trenae, how on earth did those two ever get together? They seem totally different. Though I know opposites attract, but still.”

“Tell me about it. I used to ask my dad why he didn’t divorce Mom. He said it would break us up, cause us to struggle. My mom was so mean, to him and me. But my dad said she was street tough when he met her, but still rather sweet. Somehow, over time, the sweetness left. She became bitter, full of anger and hate. And, so…”

“Say, why don’t we change the subject. Come in the kitchen with me.”

Jenny arose from her chair, laid the note pad on the coffee table, and began walking away, encouraging Trenae to follow with a smile and quick head turn. Trenae did.

While doing so, it occurred to Trenae just how comfortable she felt with this person. Relaxation and sociability came hard for her around people. Yet somehow, Jenny had accomplished this a little. Not completely, but more so than most people. Had she found a new friend? Or was Jenny’s behavior merely a ruse, designed to deceive, for possibly this reporter’s background check had been cleverly fabricated?















                                                                 Chapter 2



Though dimly lit, the kitchen’s whiteness gave its own light. Trenae glanced toward the room’s picture window, on the left, facing the street, where she quickly, gratefully noticed the curtains drawn. However, the curtains appeared thin. Not good.

She grasped for distraction from her fear. She focused her eyes on several red roses in a vase on the table, next to the window, while Jenny dug through the refrigerator. After questioning Jenny, she received the answer that Jenny had bought the roses for herself, simply to add color to the room. Odd.

Trenae then asked about the cozy home and Jenny quickly explained she only rented, and that her landlord had done a nice job of revitalizing an early 1900’s home.

The conversation changed, as Jenny asked about Trenae’s first time on stage, at Fontel’s. Trenae wearily tugged back some memories, some prickly, unsettling memories, telling Jenny how a stripper and her boyfriend supplied words of encouragement, told Trenae to smile and appear confident, to eloquently ignore the high heels. And how Darin’s girlfriend, Sam, who worked at Fontel’s and had even persuaded the owner to hire Trenae, helped with dancing lessons. Time went by, and Trenae succeeded, at becoming a better dancer, at keeping herself in flawless slim, physical shape, at putting up with the occasional pinches or brazen tongue laps from rude, male customers, and at getting along with the other hardened, street-smart dancers. She even charmed a few men, making them regular customers, though she seldom, if ever met with any after work. That could be risky.  But after working there only from the middle of April to the end of May, Clark Willson showed up. And Trenae was glad, since she was nearly getting pressured to do lap dances.

And she hated the thought of doing lap dances.

Piling some items on the counter, Jenny quickly made a chicken salad sandwich and placed it on a paper plate. “Want one too?”

Trenae waited to answer, thinking. “Umm, no, but do you have any apples?”

Jenny turned and searched in the refrigerator again. She removed herself and set an apple in Trenae’s hand. Jenny then stared curiously. “Do your eyes have yellow in them? I know they’re hazel, but I--”

“Yes, you’re right,” Trenae said. “I know, different.”

“But pretty. You have pretty eyes.”

A little heat flushed Trenae’s cheeks. “Thanks,” she said, looking down.

“Hey, come on, let’s head back.” Jenny again led the way, carrying the plate. Walking, Jenny began explaining the details inspiring her to write a book about alien encounters. Her Cousin Neil, hunting in the woods with friends near Libby, Montana, had become separated from his friends and witnessed a possible UFO crash, soon viewing a few aliens, the dark-eyed, large-headed Grays.

Jenny positioned the plate on the coffee table and sat down. Trenae sat down too, taking a quick bite of her apple at the same time.

“What happened next?” Trenae asked.

“After he pissed himself or before?”

Trenae covered her mouth a second, giggling. “He did?”

“Well, that’s what he said!” Jenny’s eyes widened. “What do I know, I just report the news!”

Trenae giggled again. Maybe Jenny truly was a nice, trustworthy person. Albeit a determined, fact-seeking nice person.

“But yeah, Neil was really scared,” Jenny said. “It was darn remarkable, in that he slowly was able to back out of there, and get away. Very few do, from what I’ve researched so far about these aliens.”

Trenae wrapped one arm around her stomach. “Gosh, yeah. I know, pretty scary.”

“Yeah, it is. Very disturbing. But I’m sure you know.” Jenny gave a slight grin. “So, getting back to you.” Seeming relaxed, Jenny leaned back in her chair. “Trenae, why don’t you sit back too? You look a little uncomfortable.”

Some embarrassment flushed Trenae’s face again, as she realized nervousness must still mar her appearance, even after a few laughs. She leaned back too. “Sorry, I just never really feel comfortable around people.”

“I’m sure, after all you went through. But you’ll get over it. I have confidence in you.”

“Thanks, I hope.” She studied Jenny’s face a bit. “By the way, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Just the lucky 25…do I look 25?”

“No, I’d say…more like 20.”

“You’re too sweet. But thanks.”

Observing a few more things, Trenae felt curious. “How come you haven’t written anything, or used the mini recorder?”

“You haven’t gotten to the alien story yet!” Yet Jenny’s tone wasn’t condescending.

“I just thought, maybe this other information I’ve said, you were using it too, and--”

“I can use whatever you want me to. Or not use. It’s up to you. But I want you to feel comfortable. But if you want me to take notes, turn the recorder on now, I will.”

“It’s up to you.” Trenae took another bite of her apple. She needed some energy.

“Some people like to be recorded, some don’t- I just wait till I leave the interview, find a quiet spot, and madly write everything down, before I forget!”

Trenae grinned. “I guess both are fine,” she said, giving an ‘okay’ shrug, becoming serious. “I’ll let you know anything I don’t want you to print…I wouldn’t print or tell anyone about what my wonderful brother wanted, you know.”

Jenny scribbled something on the note pad. Then she looked up at Trenae and smiled. “Noted! It will not be printed.”

“Thanks, cause that’s really embarrassing.”

“More like disturbing, to me. And I didn’t think you wanted that printed anyway.” Jenny bit her sandwich. “Have you ever thought about getting some counseling, therapy?”

“Sort of, maybe one day.”

“I don’t have any brothers,” Jenny said, between chews. “Just one sister. She lives in California.”


“Getting back on track here.” Jenny moved forward, toward the coffee table, and turned on the recorder. “Interview with Trenae Lafayette, Governor Willson and alien account…Your friend Brianna brought you out to meet Willson, after she felt it was okay?”

“Yes. Like I told you today. We went together, outside, through the backdoor. This tall, muscular man with a suit and tie stood next to the passenger door of a limo, a beautiful, shiny, and very black limo. He just stood there, with the door open, not saying anything, and motioned me over. I could see a man inside, which was Willson. He called me over, but I definitely did not get in at first. I just walked to the door and looked inside. The first thing that hit me was how it smelled so new in there, that new car smell. You know?”

“Can’t say I do, seeing what I usually drive.”

Trenae smiled again.

“Sorry, go ahead.”

“I asked him what he wanted. And then he started with the charm, told me I looked very beautiful dancing, that I was a great, sexy dancer, the best dancer there, the prettiest, all that stuff.” Trenae gave Jenny a serious expression; she didn’t want any compliments on her behalf to distinguish the horror. “And then he asked me if I would like to go out to dinner with him. He explained who he was, one of the candidates running for Governor. And needless to say, I felt very impressed. My initial gut feeling wasn’t right, it felt strange. I mean, how could he be interested in me? But I figured he had to be someone you could trust and all. And besides, he just wanted to take me to dinner. So, I got in. I was just wearing jeans and a tee shirt, but he said he knew of a small, informal restaurant.”

Jenny laid the unfinished portion of her sandwich on the table. “You’re right, sounds slick.” She crossed her arms.

“But after I got in, something felt definitely wrong. The big man who had been holding the door open, a dangerous-looking man, turned out to be Stiles.”

“Oh my god.”

“Yeah, really. Clark told me to sit next to him, on his right side, my left. But then Stiles sat next to me too, on my right. I was sandwiched in.”

            “How big was the limo?”

            “Well, there were two seats, each facing each other, and a TV and small bar on one side. And of course the front seat, a third seat, where the driver was.”
            “Sounds like a six-seater to me.”

            “Yeah, maybe. Now that you mention it. Willson then introduced me to the two guys. Stiles of course, by me, and then across there was another man, a smaller guy than Stiles with brown hair and blue eyes. Actually, though, Willson introduced them by other names like Mr. Martin, for Stiles, and Mr. Sanders, for the other man, who I found out later they called John Traferro or Johnboy. Stupid, since I knew those Mr. names couldn’t be. But, I always felt I was hearing names that weren’t the real ones, with the other men, while I was at Willson’s.”

            “Hmm, interesting. And later you found out Stiles’ name?”

“Yes, right…But, anyway, after Willson introduced me, this brief moment came, though it seemed like forever, where I could see and feel all three of them giving me this really, really, chilling cold stare, like they could kill me with their eyes, look right through me. Either that or they wanted to rape me…but all I knew, I wanted to jump out of the car and escape.” Trenae began trembling a bit. She lifted her cup. “But it was too late, we were moving. I tried smiling, to loosen up the air. It either worked or they just had enough of staring me down, but Willson started talking to me. Stiles and Traferro just looked out the windows.”

            “What did Stiles look like?”

;;            Done with another sip, Trenae put both the cup and apple on the table. Her thirst and appetite had disappeared. “Like I said, tall, around 6 feet, like 6’4” or so. And muscular. I know that for sure, not only because of what happened with us later, but as he was sitting next to me, I could feel the solid firmness of his muscles. It’s too bad he was such a creep, because he was attractive, had a nice body, rather handsome too. Heck, so were Willson and Traferro. But Stiles had black hair and brown eyes.”


            “I would assume. I never asked, didn’t really care, not after the way he treated me.”

            “Traferro sounds Italian. Do you know how you spell it?”

            “No, but I do think he was Italian. But don’t be misled. Willson had a regular international smorgasbord at his estate.”


“Yeah, every nationality you could think of was there, different languages too. But what do I know, I was just the slave there.” Trenae smiled.

            “Actually, that’s not funny.”

            “I know, I know,” Trenae said shyly, quietly. So much for her attempt to lighten the air.

            “Seemed like a bunch of creeps, huh?”

            “I told myself, as we were driving to the restaurant, that maybe these guys just had to have a very tough demeanor, since they worked for Willson and he was in politics and it was a competitive, ugly business…you know.” She again gave Jenny a serious look. “So that’s why they were like that, and I shouldn’t doubt it or worry. I mean, after all, I worked at a strip club and I was the one with the bad reputation!” Trenae gazed down and studied the lines on the sofa. “Maybe they thought I was on drugs or something, didn’t trust me. So, I reassured myself.” She lifted her head. “And Clark was being nice and sociable during the ride. But my first feelings were right, as I found out later.”

“I see.”

            “And we did go to this small restaurant. I don’t remember too much, since I was drinking a lot. Gosh, I don’t even remember what I ate. But I do remember Willson going over his idea about me moving to his ranch, working there…I don’t know…” Trenae shook her head, disgruntled. “Why I got so suckered in! I should of known. Working for him was one thing, but living there? What was I doing?”

            Jenny leaned forward slightly, still holding the note pad. “I know why you left, two reasons- like you said, you wanted to better your career situation, and probably most of all, you wanted to leave your mom and Darin. You were still living with them, right?”

            “Yeah, I was. I guess you’re right.” She looked in Jenny’s eyes. “But, I think more than anything, I had a Cinderella complex. You know, what they call it when you’re looking for someone to take care of you? Like someone to be your Prince, carry you away, be with you forever, that stuff?”

            “Yeah, a fairy tale.” Jenny gave a concerned look. “Doesn’t exist. Though I will say, I’m sure it’s the dream of every little girl, at least at some point.”

            “I know, and even though I was 21 then, I was still hoping for it.” Trenae sighed and gazed down.

            “As long as you’re not living it now,” Jenny said firmly.

            Her words made Trenae uncomfortable; she changed the subject. “Anyway, he brought me home that night to my mom’s house, in the limo. My mom and Darin, needless to say, were quite shocked. Loser Trenae, with the candidate for Governor of Idaho,” she said mockingly. “Rather impressive, I guess they thought. Yet in a way, they weren’t as shocked as I thought they would be. They still treated me the same, for the short time I still lived there.

“But like I told you, I agreed to Willson’s terms and moved out. Stiles and Traferro helped me, which was weird. One of them was always either talking with my mom or helping me, but never both by me at one time. Darin wasn’t there that day- he was working.”

            “Can I ask, how come you never got an apartment, even before Willson asked you to live with him?”

             More uncomfortable words. Trenae looked down. Then she gave more in-depth details, telling Jenny that Darin and her mom convinced her she was too stupid, didn’t make enough money, to ever get an apartment. Or her mom would say Trenae was needed in the house, to help with the cleaning. In reality, Trenae did all the regular cleaning anyway. She could never fight them, tell them she didn’t want their chores any longer. They were both just too mean and powerful.

Trenae lifted her head. “It was a losing battle. So, I was glad to get out of there, however I could. Whether by myself or through some ‘Knight in Shining Armor’ rescuing me. Besides”-she placed her hands on her lower shoulders- “can you imagine, me, a poor girl, a low life having the chance to work for a politician, a celebrity? That alone kept me going! It convinced me that this was a really good decision, even though Willson’s men were creeps.”

            “It seems to me you have it backwards,” Jenny said flatly. “They were the low lifes.”

            “Sure, in retrospect.” Trenae rested her hands on her lap. “But not then, not to me.”

             After taking a tea sip, Jenny penciled a few words down. “So, is Willson’s estate all they say it is?”

            “Yes, he’s rich. Has a huge, nice house. Ten bedrooms. Maids, lots of bathrooms, several guesthouses, besides the apartment I had over the garage, a four car garage at that. There were some other garages, and other farm type buildings. And his property bordered on both the Middle and North Fork of the Boise River. It’s like 1500 acres.”

“Damn.” Surprise lighted Jenny’s face.

“And his place was actually not too far from Idaho City. But the mansion house is really nice. It’s kind of a modern ranch style with a lot of rustic woodwork, wood siding and white siding, kind of combined, but nice. He had a lot of those stuffed dead animals on the walls too.”

“Gross, no thanks,” Jenny said, scowling. “And to think I thought he made all his money through the silverware factory his father left him. That and the stock market, real estate investments.”

            “Maybe he used all that up, then got involved with the mafia and organized crime, like for the drug business?” Trenae shrugged. “Who knows?”

            “I can’t even begin to say…So while you were working there, he started seeing a lot of you?”

            “Yeah, after work, on nights I didn’t do phone soliciting.” Trenae went on, explaining how a man named Mr. Finley, another of Willson’s goons, would typically walk up to her apartment, announcing that Willson had invited her to dinner. Or she would receive a phone call. Either way, she and Willson would then have dinner together, occasionally with Stiles too, and then Willson would either talk to her at the table for a while or give Trenae a little tour of his mansion. At first, she viewed the candidate part of him, the person all of the public viewed and liked, a charming, likable guy. And he talked about how he truly wanted to help Idaho, especially the poorer people of Idaho. He really seemed to care.

            “Yes, that’s the Clark Willson I know too,” Jenny said.

            “I guess.” Trenae nodded a little. “He acted Doctor Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, like struggling between good and evil. At least with my mom and Darin…there was no doubt, they’re evil. But not with Clark. Especially when he talked about Stark, you could really see his bad side sneak out.”

            “Sure, Mathew Stark, the candidate running against him. Nice guy.”

 “Willson really didn’t like Stark. But, anyway, the more he invited me to dinner, the more I felt closer to him. Eventually, he started asking me up to his room. And of course…one thing led to another, you know.”

            “Was he any good?”

            “What do you mean?” Trenae felt puzzled.

            “In bed. Don’t worry, I’ll never print it. Just curious, because you can tell a lot about a person by the way they make love. For instance, was he a caring lover or a selfish lover?”

            “Actually, to tell you the truth,” Trenae said slowly, thinking carefully, “he was…very mechanical, almost like he was following a manual. Or just trying me out. I, of course, was starting to fall in love with the guy each time we were together like that, but never felt it from him. And then, like I told you before, I found out he was seeing one of the other five girls there, Crystal. That’s when I packed my stuff and tried to leave in my car. But they stopped me at the gate.”


“Yeah, the creepy other guys there. One called Willson on a cell phone. I drove back to my apartment and waited. Then, when Willson showed up, he told me that they practiced some sort of free love relationship stuff at Hegemony Hovel.”

            “Hegemony Hovel?”

            Trenae snickered. “Some weird secret name he called his house. Stupid. But anyway, he said I could sleep with the other guys at the ranch and he slept with the other girls. And everyone was okay with it. And he told me I should stay, because, he claimed, after all, I came from an abusive family. I shouldn’t go back there.”

            “You told him about your mom?”

 “No, I didn’t. I never…never quite understood how he knew. I was too embarrassed to tell him. I think it was about then, I figured the men working for him had powerful connections. After I refused to have a threesome with Willson and he slapped me, everything just went downhill. I guess you could say that the cat was out of the bag.”

Jenny gasped quietly.

Trenae’s stomach knotted. She crossed both her arms by her waist, near the bottom of her black shirt.  “Willson raped me a few times, and then Traferro had his turn with me. And then the creep Stiles took over.” An involuntary shudder rippled through Trenae’s body. Jenny said nothing. “Stiles was…he was very harsh and frightening with me. I hated him. And he told me, just like Darin, that I was a loser, a wimp, a coward. That I was afraid of everything, because I never did all the sexual things he wanted or was not provocative enough, something like that. And because I wouldn’t snort their drugs. I was so scared.”

            “Did they use condoms? Were you worried about STD’s?”

            “Sometimes they did, sometimes not. But, yeah, I worried about getting something, some disease, but I’m okay now.” Trenae sighed and leaned forward, resting her arms on her knees.

            “I’m glad to hear that.”

            “Yeah, really.” She looked in Jenny’s face. “It wasn’t only me suffering, though. I talked to the other girls, when no one was around and it was safe, and found out they all seemed to have shaky backgrounds, just like me. They were getting forced to do things with the guys too.”

“Really? That’s terrible.”

Burrowing into deeper, horrifying details, Trenae enlightened how some of the girls were runaways, some abused, some drug users. Girls who had no real family, that nobody wanted. Girls who were mostly white, with blond or reddish brown hair. They all thought, like Trenae, that this was their opportunity to better themselves. And even though she and the other girls did get paid at first, weekly, though not much, Ted, the campaign chairman, or Mondo, another campaign or finance worker, began telling Willson’s men that Trenae and the girls did something wrong, inappropriate. Just some false statement, such as they used too much paper, stole items, or caused the computers to crash, things the girls knew they never did. Very suspicious accusations. Willson’s men then said the girls would have to do some extra work or favor to get their full paycheck. But unfortunately, cunningly, the supposed malfunctions the girls did added up far beyond their paycheck amounts. Therefore, Trenae and the other girls could never pay back the amount they owed, but could only keep doing extra work or favors, to make up the difference.

Trenae added that by then, she and most of the girls had seen the guns Willson’s men carried, though they faked concealment, hiding them haphazardly. And so, when Stiles ordered the girls to ‘entertain and make happy’ the important men at Willson’s parties, they had no choice but to do so. Especially too, as time went by, their family members became threatened as well, if the girls behaved noncompliant. There was no one to call, no way to escape.

“What about the Internet, leaving a message somewhere?” Jenny asked.

“No. Some of us thought about that, since we had to work on updating Willson’s campaign Web site. But we were just too afraid, for ourselves or our relatives. Just so scared.”

“Shit, that’s awful.” Jenny paused a bit. “What happened to Crystal and Willson?”

Trenae smiled a little and looked down, remembering the girl who became Willson’s next lover, after he discarded her. “Yeah, she thought she had him. Acted so stuck up, better than me, whenever she and Willson were near.” Sadness then weaved around Trenae’s heart. “But soon, Crystal was passed aside for another girl too, just like me. And before long, some of the girls started disappearing, leaving the ranch. When we asked, the men said those girls were doing something special for Willson’s campaign. Or that they did an extra special favor and then decided to leave.

 “And then some new girls,” Trenae continued, “just one or two though, would show up. Really frightening, since some of us secretly thought the other girls had been killed. How could we know for sure?”

            “Frightening, sure.”

“Especially, this one time, when I was in the kitchen with Stiles.” While making himself a sandwich, Trenae explained Stiles talked excessively, because Trenae believed he didn’t want her to hear the two men conversing in the living room, who both handled a machine gun, possibly a Russian gun. But Trenae did overhear some of their words. Shaking her head in disbelief, she told Jenny their words highlighted talk of purchasing weapons, most likely illegal weapons. “I could barely hear everything,” Trenae added, “but it was enough to convince me Willson had become involved in some very, very serious stuff. I was so frightened, so worried. I knew then- I’d just better do what they say and watch it.”

“Wow, unbelievable.” Concern lay in Jenny’s tone. “But being compliant didn’t help much, did it?”

            “Well, it did a little. I was only punched in the stomach once, by Stiles.”

“Once? Once is bad enough!”

            Trenae shrugged and gazed down. “And I was thrown around and slapped a few times. But some of the other girls received far worse.” She lifted her head. “One ended up needing a doctor and the hospital. But mostly, they tried not to hurt us or leave marks. I guess they didn’t want to ruin the merchandise for Willson’s visitors,” she said, forcing a disgusted smirk.

            “Couldn’t you girls tell some of those visitors at the party, about your problems?”

            “No, definitely no. We were threatened, remember? I was too scared. Whether the other girls did, well, I don’t know…But the worst thing that happened to me…was, was when I…became pregnant, by Stiles.”

            Jenny leaned forward, her eyes widening, her mouth dropping open. “No, really?” she asked softly.

            Deep sadness bled through Trenae. “I really don’t like to talk about this. I told Stiles…I was pregnant. I tried to hide it as long as I could, but he could see, I was different, sicker.” Trenae looked at her knees. “He went ballistic, told me I had ruined everything. I told him he was the father, I thought. I was quite sure though. He forced me to have an abortion, September 28th.” Raising her head, tears sneaked from Trenae’s eyes. “I , it was, a terrible...”

            Jenny placed a hand on Trenae’s knee. “Hey, don’t talk about it. Let’s just move on, okay?”

            But it was too late; the terrible memory prevailed. No! I don’t need anything spoiling this friendly interview. Trenae quickly wiped her eyes and nose, heaved in a deep breath, and smiled. “Okay, sorry,” she said, holding her head high.

            “No, no, don’t be ridiculous. You must be strong. You’re doing great, to have survived that nightmare.” 

            “You think so?”

            “Yes, I do,” Jenny said gently. “Do you want a tissue?”

            Trenae brushed away some remaining droplets by her eyes. “Yes, okay, but I’ll be all right.” Jenny retrieved a tissue from a box on the TV entertainment shelves and handed it to her. With gentle blots, Trenae pressed around her nose and eyes. “It just can get bottled up inside, and then when you talk about it…”

            “I know, it all comes flooding back. You want to stop now?”

            “No, I can go on.” Trenae sat up straight and sniffed her nose a little. “Remember I told you, how I went to the basement, to get Lucia the wine bottle under the stair well?”

“Yes, and then Stiles and Willson came down, along with those other jerks, and thought no one was down there, since you didn’t put on the stairway light.”

“Right,” Trenae said softly. “After Stiles talked about Nancy Willson’s murder, and then found out I was actually down in the basement, he stared at me, hate in his eyes, but then quietly let me go upstairs. And then I got in Mr. Chang’s car.”

“Yes, I remember. Mr. Chang, the nice man, your date for the night.”

“That’s right. While I sat there waiting for Mr. Chang, it started to occur to me, even more, like a ton of bricks dropping on me, that I had been sleeping with, or rather, being forced to have sex with, the murderer of Willson’s wife. I became completely overcome with terror, remembering how they laughed at Stiles’ details of the murder, how he beat Nancy with a bat, how he had choked her with a cord until her neck was bleeding…how there was blood everywhere.”

Jenny gasped. “That’s sick, awful.”

Crack! Whizzz! Loud noises shot from the kitchen. Trenae jolted, and swung her head left.

“Oh, sorry,” Jenny said, raising a hand. “Don’t worry about that. It’s just my dishwasher.”

Even so, Trenae’s heart landed in her throat. “Phew,” she said, touching near her chest, “that scared me.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry. You’re just not used to my house.” Jenny’s tone was sincere. “Are you sure you want to keep going?”

Determined resolve held Trenae captive. “Yes, sure, sorry, I’m fine.” Trying to relax, she sat back and exhaled a sigh. “Willson, like I said earlier, even seemed scared of Stiles as he described everything, while they were in the basement. The other guys, Traferro and Finley, seemed to thrive off listening to the gore, though they acted a little frightened of Stiles too. So I knew, without a doubt, sitting in Mr. Chang’s car, that I was dealing with some very evil people then, people capable of anything. I was…I can’t even describe the absolute terror I felt.

            “And then Willson came out and leaned on the car, made me put my window down. Chang wasn’t there yet, and then Willson told me, quietly, so no one heard, how I better not vanish. How I better dare not tell Mr. Chang about what I knew, because no matter what, they could find me. He said they could find me anywhere in the world. He said, ‘Yes, we have those kinds of connections. Powerful connections. After all’ he said, ‘I am going to win the election in a couple of weeks, and I can’t have any interference. You can understand, right Trenae?’ Yeah, sure, you bloodthirsty creep.

“Then he slapped the top of Chang’s car, not a hard slap, but it startled me. I remember really jumping in my seat. Then he walked inside the mansion. They never wanted anyone at the party to know something unusual was going on…so, they were very smooth, never made any sort of scene, anything seem unusual. But I knew they would get me,” Trenae said slowly, staring into Jenny’s alarmed, quiet face. “And I knew Stiles would do to me what he did to Nancy. I was shaking so hard then. I felt…I felt so light headed, gone. I knew I was going to die. I was so scared, Jenny. It’s so hard to even describe.”

            “Actually, I can’t even…I’m speechless, and that’s rare for me.”

            Yeah, you do appear pale, Trenae thought. Maybe I was wrong- you’re not that tough. “I just kept telling myself, I need to think, calm down.” She picked her words carefully, trying not to frighten Jenny; seeing people at ill ease disturbed Trenae. “I tried to relax, take deep breaths, figure something out. But the fear I felt…was so overwhelming. I couldn’t seem to control the shaking.

“And then I started to cry. No, great, Mr. Chang will see me like this, wonder what was wrong. I thought maybe I should tell him. But, no way, he could secretly be involved. Or I could get him involved and threaten his life too. Besides, what could he do anyway- tell the local police, drop me off at the police station? What, so they could just hand me over to Willson anyway, and then just have them beat me worse because I tried to run and told Chang, like Willson said not to?”

            “Yes, you’re right,” Jenny said. “That’s so terrible.”

“I know…I just needed to think harder. There just HAS to be something I can do to save my life. And soon, Mr. Chang came out. He was happy, seemed completely oblivious to anything bad going on. When he got in the car, he asked me if I was feeling better, since he thought I saw a ghost or something, after the basement. I told him I was okay and tried to smile, act calm…that was extremely hard to do.

“While he drove, he kept on talking to me, about where he worked, the things he did, stuff about his family. I can’t remember any details, because for the whole drive I kept thinking ‘what can I do, what can I do’…And then, finally, I came up with an idea. Not much of one, but something.”

            “What was it?”

“Mr. Chang decided to take us to Pine Cabin Inn, a little motel on route 21, not far from Idaho City, where I used to live.”

“Yeah, I know it. Has like 12 individual cabins, making up the whole place?”

“Yes, that’s the one…” Trenae went on to explain that she decided to steal Mr. Chang’s car, once he fell asleep, planning to sneak his keys. Then she would take her belongings and disappear quietly from the cabin. She realized it was a crime, but desperation had overridden lawful behavior.

Fortunately, once they walked into the cabin, Mr. Chang treated her kindly, not demanding a good time. He promptly asked it she was all right, observing Trenae’s tearful, despondent behavior, her attempt at steely composure having failed. He asked if he could help, if there was anything he could do. But Trenae told him the main thing she needed was sleep. So eventually, Mr. Chang left her alone. He lay down, on his own bed, since he rented a two bed cabin.

 Trenae pretended to sleep, and finally, when she heard Mr. Chang snoring, she slowly, quietly arose. Her clothes still on, she softly lifted her purse and jacket, putting her jacket on and then searching sleuth-like for his car keys. She ultimately found them in his pants pocket, on the floor.  Quietly carrying the keys to the front window, she opened the curtains just a crack, to view if any of Willson’s men were there. And at first, everything appeared okay.

“But then I noticed a car,” Trenae said, wringing her cold hands together, “that I sort of recognized, and I could even see someone in it.”

            “Willson’s men followed you!”

“Yes, exactly. As I figured they might. I started to panic more at first, but then I went into the bathroom at the opposite end of the cabin, kept the light off, and looked out that window, without touching the curtain.” Trenae squinted, and looked toward Jenny’s TV, remembering. “There were some trees, I could just barely see in the dark…but then too, I noticed some movement, to my right, a man, standing by a tree. I think I saw a gun too.”

“Another guy?”

Trenae nodded in agreement. “I felt, well, this is it. I’m trapped. For a while, I just stood there and cried, quietly. I knew soon, I would be dead.

“But then…it seemed like a series of miracles began to happen. The first was I looked for the man again, and he was gone. Now, I figured he could be to my left, around the corner, but I decided to take a chance anyway. I quickly opened the window, and climbed out. I was very quiet and closed the window afterwards, to cover my tracks. I felt sure at any moment I would get clobbered on the head or shot, but it didn’t happen. I figured the guy who left his post was a dead man, if I got away.

“And to make a long story short,” Trenae said, shaking her head in disbelief, “I was able to walk through the woods behind the cabin, down this hill, and make it to the highway, since the road curved around the motel.

“And then the second miracle happened.”

“Hmm.” Jenny appeared very curious.

“Immediately, I saw a tractor-trailer truck coming. All I did was raise my arm, and he stopped for me. I guess it was my outfit. I told him I needed to get near Grangeville, and fortunately, he was heading to Lewiston, so…after some turns, we eventually were heading north on 55, then north on 95.

            “But I didn’t trust the trucker very much.” Trenae paused a moment and took a quick tea sip. “He kept looking at me weird. But before we got to Grangeville, he stopped at this trucker gas station. He wanted to get something to eat, or whatever, and asked if I wanted to come with him. I said no, that someone who wanted to harm me could be around. So, I stayed in his truck…And then the third miracle happened.”

“A third miracle?” Jenny gave a half smile.

“Yeah.” Trenae remained serious. “Suddenly, this red sports car pulled up, not far from the truck, and this young guy, dressed in a tuxedo, jumped out of his car and quickly ran into the store. It didn’t look like he took the keys, so…well, I was desperate. I got out of the truck, saw that he left the car running and that no one was in there, and I jumped in the car. I was shaking real bad, but I made it away.”

“Wow, you stole a car,” Jenny said softly. “Did you want to head back to your mom’s?”

Using her left elbow as a prop on the sofa’s armrest, Trenae rested her face in her hand. Retelling this story exhausted both mentally and physically. But, she needed to go on.

            “To my mom’s, good question. I thought about it…” But Trenae’s thoughts had centered mostly on checking the rear view mirror, again and again. Yet no one followed her. No police, nothing. She told Jenny her mom’s house would prove a bad idea, Mom and Darin most likely laughing at her predicament, sending her back to Stiles and Willson, telling her Willson and his men would never say or do such a horrible deed. They would say Trenae’s stupid imagination materialized the conversation in the basement. “Besides”, she continued, “I still had concern for them. I didn’t want to see my mom and Darin dead too…so…”           

“Wow, I cannot imagine.” Jenny shook her head. “So why were you heading to Grangeville?”

            “Only one thing was left to do.” Trenae sighed. “Even with those three miracles occurring…I didn’t want to, but…I was too afraid to go to the police.” Especially now, Trenae told Jenny, that she had stolen a car. And no other authorities, no friends, no one else who could possibly protect her. She was alone. Even if she wanted to hide in New York, Montana, or somewhere else, she only had 20 or 30 dollars in her purse. In retrospect, she wished she had stolen some of the trucker’s money, but she didn’t know where it was. Her only saving grace- the car had a full tank of gas. 

“What kind of car?” Jenny asked.

            “A 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Really nice, new inside. And warm, good heater. At least I was comfortably, for the short time, that--”

            “What do you mean, where did you go?”

            Trenae inhaled a deep breath. “When my father was alive, he used to take Darin and I, never my mom, she would never come, to a place he found hunting one time. He called it River Cliffs. It was really nice. Dad always made sure we never got too close to the cliff’s edge, watched us good.” Removing her arm off the sofa, Trenae wrapped it around her stomach, closely, and stared down. “But anyway, it’s in Gospel Hump Wilderness and Nez Perce Forest, not far from Orogrande, a really small town.”

            “Oh yeah, heard of it. Not far from Grangeville, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.” Trenae looked up. “Anyway, it was not a place that was on the map or anything, but just a small area my father found. Rather hidden, but we weren’t the only ones who knew of it. Other people went there too. But it was so pretty, is so pretty…”

Using her hands to place details, Trenae explained how a gravel road, ending in a small circular turn-around, gave way to a grass covered trail, which began just at the circular turn-around’s right or south eastern border. They had to walk some distance on the trail until an old fallen tree and large boulder, on the left, signaled the turn up a pine covered hill. A quick climb up the pine hill brought them to the hill’s apex, a large, narrow clearing, possibly 200 feet in length and 20 feet wide, covered mostly on its ground by grass, stones, and sand. The clearing’s length ran both left and right, with the left side heading toward the gravel road, and the right side heading up a pine covered mountain. Trenae explained her dad, brother, and she never really traveled up the mountain, since their one time attempted excursion ended when a snowstorm began.

            But across the width of the clearing, from coming up exactly near the fallen tree and boulder, a stand of quaking aspen trees added white streaks of varying tint to the scenery, with their tree bark. When she walked beyond those trees, and through more pine trees and another clearing, a much smaller clearing, the cliff came into view.  Several large boulders lay in an area about 9 feet wide and about 4-5 feet from the cliff’s edge. Probably only enough to seat five people, Trenae explained, which is why the spot never made a good park look-out.

The cliff’s view was stunning. Straight across, another pine-covered hill appeared, with a steep, rock-faced granite mountain next to the hill, to the cliff’s right side. And from around and near the granite mountain forged a stream, cutting its flow between the cliff and the cliff’s mountain and hills, and between the hill across from the cliff. The stream gushed by rapidly over many small and large stones. 

 Trenae noticed Jenny waited on her every word, describing River Cliffs. Somehow, being sought after, the center of attention, felt reassuring. At least for the moment.

“And then the stream just sort of eventually, more to the left of the cliff, disappeared into the rest of the woods, on the far other side from the cliff,” Trenae said. “And if you listened really well, were really, really quiet, just sat there on the rocks, still, you could eventually hear a faraway waterfall. We never went to check it out, but…”

“Why do I get the feeling,” Jenny asked, taking another quick tea sip, “that you’re describing this for a bad reason?”

“Because you’re right. This is where I went, Jenny, that night. It was hard, believe me. Besides being an absolute wreck, and constantly checking for cars following me, I had to drive in the dark, which I’m not the best at, and on 95 north. Fortunately, I never saw any cars following me. And when I made it to Grangeville, I eventually got on 14, headed toward Orogrande. 14 was really hard to do at night, with all the twists and turns along the canyon there. And then I had to take a sports car on a gravel road, heading south.”

“You mean past Orogrande, heading toward Calendar?”

            “Yeah, you know? The roads aren’t the greatest there.”          

“I know.”        

“But I just kept making right turns, in the dark, and very, very fortunately, I finally made it to the gravel road’s end. I faintly saw the trail…the trail to River Cliffs.”

“So dark out, huh?”

“Yes. Somehow, I managed to drive the car down the narrow grass trail.  I just definitely did not want to get out and walk it. And there it was, the boulder and the fallen tree, still there, after all those years.

“But anyway, I parked there for a moment. My watch had like 5:30 am, but it was still quite dark. While I leaned over to see in the glove compartment, to get a flashlight, I felt something on the passenger seat, under a man’s jacket. I lifted the jacket and found a bottle of ‘97 Beringer 3rd Century Cabernet Franc, definitely rather expensive.”

“How much they go for?”

“Like $100 a bottle. I’m pretty good with wine, so…I was surprised, since I hadn’t seen it before, but, of course, in my condition.

“As I told you, I drink, it’s my escape. So, I eagerly looked for something, to remove the cork. Finally, I found a screwdriver in the glove compartment, and after some time, got the cork out. Some of the cork remained in the wine, and I spilled some wine. But, what did it matter. And then, I just kept drinking and drinking. I always liked red wine and I was thirsty a bit anyway. I needed to get really drunk, and I think it was like 20 proof, so, and I just kept thinking,”-Trenae forced a quick giggle- “that poor guy, drinking all his wine, and--”


“What, Jenny?”

“I’m sorry. Why did you have to get so drunk?”

“Because I was going to jump off the cliff.” I thought she already knew.

Jenny covered her mouth and widened her eyes.

“There was nothing left for me to do.” Trenae gazed down, avoiding Jenny’s shocked expression, and pressed her body into the comfortable sofa. “After about five minutes, I think, of drinking the wine, I finally came up with the courage to leave the car. I carried the wine and flashlight. And my purse, I guess, to identify me.” Jenny gasped again.  “All I wore was this tube-like emerald green dress, a dress that Willson had given me and wanted me to wear.” Trenae lifted her gaze, and used her hands for descriptions. “But it was really short, had slits in the front by my legs, and it was strapless, really skimpy. And I had on some black leather high heel boots, like 4 or 5 inches high, you know, spike heels?”


“Hard to walk on. I’m surprised I didn’t break them when I left the motel cabin and ran down that hill, to the road. And a thin black leather jacket on, cut short, to my waist. So, as you can tell, I was ready for a hike up the hill.” Trenae smiled a little.

Jenny smiled briefly, but didn’t laugh.

“The first thing I remember was how cold out. It had been a lot warmer near Boise. I coulda taken that guy’s jacket, but, no, not a good idea. And I knew that even though my watch had around 5:30, it was really around 4:30 in the morning, because of the time change.”

“True. You got that car around Grangeville, right?”

“Yes. My dad, Darin, and I always had to worry about that when we traveled up there. But it was still really dark.”

“You must have been so scared. I don’t like the dark, especially in the woods!”

“Well, don’t forget, I drunk all that wine. I was a little more relaxed. I just…went right up to the large clearing. And I got down on my hands and knees.”


Trenae looked at Jenny. Of course, she couldn’t know. “After my father died, his will stated he wanted us to have him cremated and then sprinkle his ashes around River Cliffs. And since my mother refused to come there--”

“Even after he died? Even though he wanted it?”

Trenae nodded. “Yes, even then. And Darin stayed with her too. I just went with my Aunt Heather, my father’s only living relative, his sister. You see, my mother has no sisters or brothers, and her father, my grandfather, had died. Her mother lived in New Hampshire. But both my father’s parents were dead. So, you can see, my Aunt Heather was the only one around. And she had no children. She lived with her husband in Spokane, but I just couldn’t...”

“You couldn’t ask her for help.”

Jenny’s words demanded a response. “I couldn’t,” Trenae said. “I couldn’t go to her house, involve her. I liked her too much.

“But anyway, instead of sprinkling my father’s ashes there, we put his ashes in this small, red and gold urn, and then gently placed it in a large metal cookie box, like 10-inch square, about 4 or 5 inches deep. We found it in the garage. I cleaned it out good. And then I put his favorite gold watch in the box, some letters and cards he loved, some written to me. And also his medallion from the Marine Corps.”

“Weren’t these things that your mom would have wanted?”

“I don’t know.” Trenae shrugged. “Go figure. But anyhow, I wrapped the box up really tight and secure with some plastic wrap and black electrical tape. And then, we left. We took the long drive up there. I was fine, happy, mainly because Aunt Heather kept talking to me and keeping the subjects light and cheery. She was always so nice to me. But when we arrived there, I lost it.” Trenae’s voice grew weary. “We found a small quaking aspen tree, away from some of the other ones.”

 “For a marker?”

 “Yes. It was near the large clearing’s edge, not far from the cliff. My aunt dug with a shovel, me with a garden tool. We finally laid the box in the ground. That’s when I started crying, rather inconsolably. I could barely push the dirt back on top. But Aunt Heather, well, she helped me handle it. Then we said a prayer, both spoke a few nice words. And then we left. I never came back there again, until…”

“Until that night, excuse me, that morning?”

“Yes, it doesn’t matter. Before we left, we put a large flat rock on top of the spot, by that tree, so we knew for sure. No cross or anything, since it would be too obvious. And sure enough, when I got there, the rock was still there.

“But, I noticed the quaking aspen had grown bigger. It had pushed into the rock a bit. I just removed the rock and started digging with my hands. I know this must seem odd, but I wanted to see something of my father before I died, something when things were so much better for me. You know?”

“Absolutely. I totally understand, Trenae.”

“But the more I dug the ground, the more it appeared that I couldn’t find the box, even with all the dirt dug out. My hands felt so cold, nearly frozen.”

“Any snow on the ground then?”

“From what I vaguely remember, yes, a little, I think. But I know the ground, the dirt, was so cold, and damp. And I, and I …just couldn’t go on.” Trenae sighed. “I started crying, shaking. And I really don’t remember too much after that, except that the next thing I knew, the edge of the cliff came near my feet. My father would’ve been so upset…I could still hear him say, ‘Resi, you’re too close, come back from there’. It was a new moon that night, so it was pretty dark. But the stars…the stars looked so comforting.

“Anyway, I pointed the flashlight down at the rocks in the stream below. Those rocks…they were sharp, deadly looking. Some big, some small. The light from the flashlight sparkled on the water, sort of just moving along, so peaceful, a peaceful place to die. I looked up at the sky again, too. It was such a clear night.”

Trenae leaned forward a bit, lowered her head, and held her hands in her lap. She felt a bit uncomfortable, maybe needing to use the bathroom. “I remember telling myself, that this can’t be happening to me. I mean, I was pretty and young, had a nice body.  Fontel’s wouldn’t have hired me, if it wasn’t true. But I guess my personality just kept getting in the way.” She lifted her head. “You know, what they all said about me. I guess it was true. Men want a woman who’s confident, with guts, with attitude. And me, I had none of that. I’m shy, insecure.”

“You can’t base your opinion of yourself on those scumbags with Willson, Trenae. Besides, I believe there’s someone for everyone. Don’t you think?”

“Yeah, maybe…But still, I wanted to jump, if only to end my suffering too, of the emotional pain, from the abortion, from my lousy life, my crummy personality. Yet the more I thought about jumping, the more I realized it might not be such a good idea. The cliff wasn’t that high.”

“How high?”

“Maybe 3 or 4 stories high. But those sharp rocks…I kept thinking, what if I jumped and just got wounded, and was still alive? Stiles could still come along and beat me to death anyway. Or some wild animals could get me.”

“Oh my God, how terrifying,” Jenny said slowly, quietly.

“I know, it was.  If I remember right, I thought some more, drank some more wine. I don’t remember too much more, but then finally, I decided NOT to jump. There had to be something else to do. But the bottom line was, well, I failed, again.” She stared in Jenny’s eyes. “Now this is a little foggy, due to my drunkenness and stress, but I just remember starting to step back away from the cliff…and, I fell!”
            “Your boots!”

“Yes, exactly. The next thing,” Trenae said, shaking her head, “I fell hard, on my butt. I fell on the edge first, see, and then quickly grasped for anything to hold, because I was slipping, fast. Very fast! My nails were grinding into the rocks, grasping rocks, dirt, I don’t know. But nothing worked. I couldn’t believe it. In those few split moments, that I didn’t want to jump, and then look, now I was falling anyway! And believe me, I didn’t see my life pass before my eyes. I just searched desperately for anything, anything that I could grab! But, there was nothing.”

Jenny stared, speechless.

“And then, I felt my left foot smash really hard into a jutting rock, from the cliff’s side, sending a horrible shock through my whole leg. It hurt really bad, and in a split second, I knew, it’s gonna get worse, much worse, the pain, when I hit the bottom.

“Hitting that rock did another wonderful thing too. It made me start to fall head first!”

“Hold on,” Jenny said. “You’re right here, in front of me…So?”

Trenae leaned closer. She shouldn’t have- her lower abdomen squeezed. “That’s because,”- her voice raised, then quieted- “something caught me.”


“It was, it was…” Trenae sat upright. “Jenny, I’m sorry, but could I use your bathroom first? I think all the tea is getting to me.”

Even though Jenny seemed disappointed, Trenae couldn’t wait another moment. She hoped Jenny didn’t think it was deliberate.

“Sure, right over there, to the right of the TV cabinet,” Jenny said, her face frozen in bewilderment. “Help yourself.”

As Jenny turned off the tape recorder, Trenae arose and walked to the bathroom.                                                       














                                                                             Chapter 3



Once in the bathroom, Trenae leaned against the door with her back and looked up at the ceiling, struggling with the great turmoil within. Her breathing rushed, her heart raced. Truly the last thing she needed was memories of Willson and Stiles’ evil treatment. Though when speaking them to Jenny she felt distant from their terror, now they settled in. Scenes and pictures flew around her mind, like a tornado, yet stopped their motion, periodically, to display a violent scene or episode from Hegemony Hovel. Especially prevalent were violent scenes when Stiles or Willson punched, raped, slapped, or committed other atrocious, humiliating acts against her. She could still see Stiles’ mean face looking down at her, violating her small body. And Willson’s devious, yet charming expression appeared, as he nonchalantly slapped her face. And she could even now feel the immense terror their vicious actions entombed her with, thrusting her brain into a state of denial, tricking her to believe that this was all happening to someone else, and she was just the innocent bystander, the observer, the nonchalant viewer of a violent movie. Her mind had tried desperately to protect her body.

Nevertheless she had to get a grip on these images and harness them down, place them in the far back corners of her mind now. She needed her consciousness fully functional and alert, because she had to remember other more important scenes.

Slowly Trenae calmed herself down with some gradual, deep breaths and visualizations of positive, pleasant memories.

She walked over to the toilet, just to the right of the sink.

            When finished, she stepped to the sink’s front and looked both in the mirror and around the small room. Wooden paneling, a white floor, red bath rugs, and bright blue towels colored the small room, decorations matching the rest of the house. Somehow, she concluded, they displayed the colors of Jenny’s personality; they had warmth, yet were bold.

            Could she have these colors? The warm part, yes. The bold? Well, she reasoned, that was yet to be determined.

            After finishing with her hands, Trenae studied her face closely. Yes, it was true. Her beauty was nearly perfect, model perfect, although she couldn’t accept it. The symmetry and proportions of her forehead, cheeks, nose, full lips, and chin were all delicate and feminine, yet completely complimentary. And her eyes were pretty and clear, with long brown eyelashes and a shape which gave them a permanently friendly, kind, and happy expression. Amazingly her own eyes could cheer her up, as they alleviated negative descriptions from Darin, her mom, or other people; the mirror could be her friend. If only her face, which appeared so special, full of life and esteem, could match her personality. Her personality felt more like an ugly, misbegotten troll. Even now.

            Regardless, now she needed to get back out there and finish the story. She dried her hands and headed out the door.

Jenny still sat in her red sofa chair, drinking tea. Trenae carefully walked between the sofa and coffee table and sat down where she had been before.

“Are you okay?” Jenny asked.

Trenae smiled and nodded. “Yes, I’m okay. Sorry about that. I just really had to go.”

“No, that’s no problem. I want you to be comfortable. But, getting back…” Jenny snatched up the recorder and turned it on. “You claim that something caught you. Something or someone?”

“Well, I felt it, something, wrap around my waist and shoulders, allowing me to fall more at first, like a bungee chord.” Trenae used her hands for descriptions. “And then pull me up, kind of hard, away from my fall. And then…gosh, it was a while ago. I just remember next being thrust into someone’s arms. I caught a fast glimpse of what was on me. But it was so dark, the thing just looked transparent. But, as I was being carried, it disappeared! I tried to see a face, of whoever carried me. The face…something looked wrong. And there was an odor, like copper, that wasn’t familiar. Then the next thing I knew, whoever held me was running, because I could see the trees move, feel the movement.”

“Where? Oh heck, sorry, just keep going.”

“No, it’s okay. I kind of have trouble remembering, because I was a bit drunk too. And then, after some distance through the woods and clearing, suddenly, it shocked me- I felt myself and whoever carried me, drop down, fast, into the ground! We were falling!”

Jenny’s jaw dropped.

 “And then, this bright green light surrounded me, as we landed, on the surface of wherever we were. And then I saw him, this…person, who was holding me. He looked straight into my face as he carried me. He only held me for a moment more, but I got a look. And I realized, as I looked at him, that he could not be human. No, he couldn’t.”

 “What do you mean? What DID he look like?”

“In few words, very strong, terrifying, powerful. His face looked human-shaped, in fact he looked rather Polynesian, you know, like Hawaiian?”

“Sure. They’re handsome people.”

“Or even Native American. Well, he certainly wasn’t ugly. He was actually rather beautiful, pleasant to the eyes. But fierce, very fierce-looking. And he had, well…these sections of short lines on his face and neck, like wires or stripes or something.”

“Really,” Jenny said slowly.

“Yes. The lines were thin, some a little thicker, and close together. Almost like a whole mass, but you could see each line. Mostly blue lines, dark blue or navy, some black, silvery, I guess depending on my view, the way the light hit them. But they were lines or stripes nonetheless…mostly near his cheeks, cheekbones and his forehead. Even around his eyes and mouth, his nose, jaw line other taut areas of his face. At first, I thought someone had taken a blue or black marker and drew short lines on his face. Or, I thought, ‘Oh, nice tattoos’- but as I looked closer, better, they were not tattoos, or even face paint. The lines…were beneath his skin, like veins, only darker. His skin was tan, maybe dark tan.”

“His skin wasn’t dark blue?”

“Well, mostly, but…areas of his skin, with fewer lines beneath, you could see the skin color. Just like veins show up beneath someone with tan skin, you could still see the tan skin color. But, he did have an overall dark blue tint, when seen from farther back, maybe…I don’t know. The thing that scared me the most, though, made me realize this was no normal person, was his eyes. The colored part of his eyes was black, but the whites were not white. They were some sort of silvery, dark aqua.

“And his hair, was black, but thick, like rope strands, maybe ¼- to ½- inch thick. And strange, like plastic or metal, unreal, and apparently long and pulled back, like in a pony tail. I could only see some of it above his forehead and sides of his head.”

“His ears, did he have ears, eyebrows?”

“Yes, both. His ears looked human, but his eyebrows and eyelashes were thick, short, black too, and with an odd clearness or transparency, maybe a silvery tint too. But there wasn’t any other hair on his face or neck, like a beard or something.”


“But then, he gently placed me on something. I just remember it was soft. He laid me on it, and as he was removing his arm from underneath my shoulders, I suddenly noticed that there was some sort of silver contraption, like a huge armband or splint thing, which covered from his wrist to almost his elbow, on his arm, his right arm.

“It was that point I started freaking out. He then started backing away, moving toward some seats. I noticed then too that he was very tall and appeared to be wearing regular clothes, you know, men’s clothes. I think, if I remember right, just jeans and a black tee shirt. But…he just couldn’t be human. And, more importantly, nor did his place. It looked like something I had never seen before. Futuristic, shiny, silvery light green. The walls were curved and rounded, not flat. It didn’t seem possible this sort of structure could be underground, not here. I then realized I had to be dreaming or hallucinating. This couldn’t be happening, you know?”


“All I knew from that point on- I had to get out of there. I remember my heart pounding like crazy. I sat up, shaking and trembling, and started moving on this, this sofa or seat thing, away from his direction. And then my vision started going blurry, so I could barely make out what was around. I remember hearing this sound, a familiar sound, but…then, he spoke. He said, ‘You may leave, if you wish’, something like that. His voice was deep, commanding…scary. The next thing I remember, this silver ladder thing suddenly appeared, in front of me, just a few feet from the seat. I tried standing up, the first time, and couldn’t. I fell back down on the seat a little. He asked me if I needed some assistance and started to come toward me! Well, I really started freaking. I mean, I’ll tell you, I MADE myself stand up, regardless of how bad it hurt!”

“From the fall?”

“Yes. All I know…I just forced myself up and then somehow climbed up that ladder. I had to get away from there. And it was so weird. That dirt hole up to the surface was surrounded by some luminescent type material, clear and silver.”

“Like the stuff that saved you?”

“Possibly. I just kept climbing to the top. I had to get out of there!” Trenae shook her head and glanced down. “And I don’t know how I did it, but I made it out. And I don’t remember too much else after that. The next thing I knew, I was waking up, in the driver’s seat of that car.”

“So at the time, what do you think it was?”

Trenae eyed Jenny closely. “Well, I remember waking up and feeling very cold. So I sat up, very slowly and looked around, to see if any of Willson’s men were there. But I was alone.

“I started up the car. The sun was up and I expected its rays to shine in my eyes and make me feel more nauseous and headachy, like usual after drinking. But I didn’t feel sick. I noticed it was around 9:00 in the morning, since I saw it on the car’s digital, but that meant it was like 8:00 Pacific. After I warmed up a bit, I strangely notice that my leg didn’t hurt at all. And my butt didn’t too. Then I looked at my fingers, and they were fine too, since I must have shredded them good grabbing the cliff.  I started to think it had all been a dream, a drunken hallucination. But then I noticed that my left boot heel was nearly broken off. And there were some dried bloodstains on my wrist and part of my leather sleeves. So, it didn’t make any sense, ya know?”


“Yeah, really. But then, everything kicked in about yesterday, and how they would hunt me down and kill me. I became very desperate. I realized- think quick and do something! I wanted to get away from that spot quickly, with all that weird crap that happened last night. And so, I decided, maybe it was best if I just went out on the roads, had some cops see me. Heck, I figured, I stole a car. The police must be looking for me, and if they see me, stop me. Maybe they can help me, right?”

“No, not if they’re involved.”

“I know, but…I backed out of there anyway. No one was around. And maybe I was just over-dramatizing a bit. But, I still felt very scared and quite tired. I drove, went up past Orogrande again and then west toward Grangeville. I was hungry and thirsty, and had to use the bathroom too. It was Sunday morning, so there wasn’t much traffic, fortunately. When I got to Grangeville, I stopped at a convenience store and got some gas, used the bathroom, washed the blood off me and bought some food. I had to walk very carefully because of that broken heel, try not to look too foolish, and all the while make sure I didn’t recognize anyone or get too close to anyone, but there weren’t many people there anyway.”

“You had some money? I thought you brought your purse up to the cliff? Didn’t you lose it in the fall?”

“You know, that was weird too.” She gave Jenny a perplexed look. “You would think it fell too, or got left behind, something like that. But it was in the car, in the morning too, just like me, and I don’t remember how. But not the wine bottle or flash light, so…”

“Yeah, weird.”

“Yeah. Like I told you a little earlier, I had about 20 or 30 dollars on me. Then I left the store and started heading north toward Lewiston, I guess on 95. And I waited and hoped for a cop car. I kept searching for anyone following me. But no one followed me and no cop cars were around. And I guess at that point, I remembered stolen cars weren’t pursued very aggressively by cops.

“So then, I started worrying, thinking- should I go to a police station, take my chances? Or, what else? Stiles would find me, he would, I just knew it.” Trenae glanced down, and touched her nails. “And it was eerie that no one found me yet. Maybe they were looking at my mom’s or something, some place they knew I would be. And I convinced myself they wouldn’t go to River Cliffs, since there was no shelter from the weather, no place to hide. So why would I go there? But if they had talked to my mom, and especially Darin, then they would know. I was sure my mom would tell them too.”

“Are you sure? That seems so mean.”

“Yeah, but if it was a choice between her life or mine, well…”

“I’m sorry, Trenae.”

“No, it’s okay.” She smiled a little at Jenny. “But, anyway, believe it or not, I decided the best place to be WAS at River Cliffs.”

“Hmm, me too, probably.”

“Yeah. I kept remembering how that guy, that being, whatever, had saved my life. Maybe he wasn’t real, but if he was, he was the best shot I had now. Plus, for some irritating reason, I just had to go back there and see if it was real, that I didn’t imagine everything I’d seen. And I knew, if I was wrong to go back there, and they found me, well then, they were going to find me eventually, anyway.”

Trenae stared into Jenny’s eyes and kept talking. “I don’t know if it was the light of day, but I felt a little bolder. Maybe I just came to the realization that I was going to die and have to accept it. I really didn’t have much to live for anyway.”

They both took tea sips again. While placing their cups down, Trenae noticed out of her eye’s corner that Jenny stared at her in a concerned, pitying manner.

“So, I went back there. I parked the car in the same spot like before, headed up the hill. And all along the way, I struggled to walk with my boots. The heel was really bad by now. So, finally, I took both boots off and walked in my pantyhose, carrying the boots, you know, although I put them down somewhere eventually. While I kept walking, I searched really well on the ground, especially in the clearing area. I looked closely on the ground for any sort of large hole, any evidence of one, to where that being lived. But, there were no holes.”


“And then I came upon my father’s burial spot. I leaned down on my knees and took away the stone. And boy was I shocked!”


“Because someone had dug there, with a shovel! I could see the big indent from it. Although they tried to cover it up, placing the rock on, I could still tell.”

“Oh my God, who?  Did someone tell Stiles?”

“That’s what I thought. I got up and started to turn around, in a circle, and frantically search the area for anyone. My heart just started racing so fast. I felt for sure they were close by. All sorts of adrenaline rushes hit me. I started shaking, feeling dizzy. It was awful, because I had to keep my wits at the same time, ya know?”

“Sure, absolutely.”

“I remember just feeling this was it, they’re here, I made a wrong move to come back. But, then I heard a noise. Like the noise of someone walking on dry leaves and pine needles.”

Jenny stared intently.

“I just knew someone was there. It came from down the hill, toward the gravel road, the beginning of the clearing. I turned to look, to my left. And down by some pine trees, the woods’ edge, I saw the same guy, that tall, scary guy, who saved me.”

As Trenae began describing that frightful day, her eyes could see and her mind could perceive the same vision of that moment, bringing her there again…



…She recognized him immediately, though he faced the trees. The strange, dark, rope-like hair, tied back behind his head, caught her eyes, as did his black jacket and blue jeans. When he neared a particularly statuesque tree, with few branches near its base but with other branches about six feet above the ground, and a trunk width of maybe 8-10 inches in diameter, the stranger grab the tree trunk with his hands. As she stared in incredulous and semi-conscious horror, the stranger effortlessly broke the pine trunk, with only his hands, about one foot above the tree’s base, from where it grew for many years in the protective soil. A loud and abrupt crackling-snap reverberated through the air, the tree trunk breaking in long shreds, with tree bark and other particles splintering in the air. He twisted the tree some, to tear the shreds, and then slid his hands toward the tree’s top, lifting the tree easily, gracefully. The giant plant began to fall toward the ground, yet he balanced it carefully, so that it fell gradually. The tree’s top branches, covered with dark green pine plumes, swept by the other treetops in its path, swooshing loudly, echoing throughout the rest of the woods.

But as the stranger turned around and followed the flow of the falling pine tree, his view led him up the incline of the clearing, directly toward a trembling young woman, dressed in a black leather jacket that partially covered a scanty, green dress.

Trenae gasped and covered her mouth with both hands. She could feel her body rattle even more, locking her eyes with the powerful being, who stood perfectly motionless though holding the heavy tree. Quickly she determined in her battered, tired mind that no one could do what this tall stranger just accomplished. No human, regardless of stature, could effortlessly break a tree as this being did, and then carry it like a feather, barely showing the slightest strain.

            Men’s voices, faint and distant, entered her ears.

Her knees began to shake uncontrollably. Her head became light as a balloon. Still covering her mouth and staring at the stranger, warm tears streamed down Trenae’s face, pouring onto her cold hands. She felt her knees turn to jelly. No! How could they betray me now? Yet she knew her body had lost. For hours her body had fought to keep going through lack of sleep, food, and water. And through impossible stress. And through the additional strain of excessive alcohol. Now her body could take no more. Realizing she was a sitting duck for this apparently dangerous stranger before her, due to her body’s lack of will and strength, she hoped within her mind for mercy. Mercy not only from this stranger, but also from Stiles and his evil accomplices, who most certainly treaded close by.

She collapsed toward the ground, her knees hitting the cold, damp soil, her blurry vision catching at the same time the tall stranger drop the tree. He felt horribly close, though probably 100 feet away. With extreme, inhuman intensity, the stranger exploded forward in her direction, a dark, swelling blur. Even before processing what was happening, she felt her body being lifted, carried. Maybe this is all a bad dream. She squeezed her eyes shut. This will all end, if I can make the world disappear. 

But it did not end. Her eyes yet sealed shut, she heard, she felt the stranger breathe and move as he carried her. It wasn’t long before she felt the uncomfortable sensation of her stomach left behind, held skyward, from a fall into the ground, just like last night. The stranger landed, hard, but she felt only a slight jolt. His arms cradled her like a soft pillow, with no harmful thuds entering her body.

He walked, carrying her. Her lower body soon lay upon his legs. He had sat down with her!

She kept her eyes squeezed shut, covering them with her hands. I can’t look, I can’t look!  “Please don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me,” she said, her voice desperate, breathless, rampaged by cries and trembles.

“They were coming.” The voice vibrated with power, so deep, masculine, and completely unafraid. “I had to get us both away from there.” 

Her shaking increased. She could barely keep her hands over her eyes. In her mouth teeth made a horrible clattering noise. Then she felt his arms tighten around her body more, pulling her closer to his torso. His body gave some warmth. A strange, faint coppery scent on his clothes, just like last night, wafted around him, as did a familiar odor of clean or new clothes, from fabric softener. Nothing made sense. “P-p-please, you’re not going to hurt me, are you?” The words rattled through her teeth.

“Did I not save your life this morning? You may remove your hands now. I promise, I will not hurt you.”

True. He could have let me die last night. But maybe he only saved me to commit unspeakable acts upon my live body! Yet he did allow me to leave last night too. Back and forth, her mind wrangled. Ultimately, though, she was the one who came back. Nevertheless she couldn’t trust him. But what choice did she have now?

 Trenae inched her shaking hands apart, curtaining them to the left and right sides of her face, allowing her eyes to see. Crash! Without looking through the lens of a drunken stupor, his features crushed like an avalanche.

“I will not hurt you,” he said.

Those lines move, when his mouth forms words. Her eyes widened, fear filling their view.

Now she knew. The clumps of short, dark blue lines, with some black or silvery streaks, were like visible muscles from beneath his skin. As she saw the last time, the lines seemed especially predominant near his chin, cheeks, nose, and forehead areas, running mostly vertical on his forehead, diagonally and horizontally on his nose, vertically and diagonally on his chin and cheekbones, with a strange sort of oval or circular pattern around his eyes. Some faint lines existed around his mouth too, though those lines were fainter.

Clumps of the visible blue muscles, especially around his neck profoundly emanated a sinewy and metallic-like fibrous strength. The blue muscles did not seem biological, but rather artificial, impossible. And dangerous. His chin and neck resembled the chin and neck of a muscular body builder or big professional wrestler, yet somehow with a stiffer, less fleshy, or fat layered appearance. Even his overall face structure chiseled strong and powerful. No, this isn’t good. He appeared invincible.

Trenae stared closely into his eyes. His eyes shocked like nothing else. Deep-set, small, slit-like orbs were nearly completely dark. Where was the white part? There was none. Dark, piercing eyes stared down into her eyes. Maybe the current lighting made the difference, since she felt certain there was color in them, albeit dark, silvery color on her last visit. Fortunately, though, his eyes had a pleasant shape, possessing a handsome, Oriental design, in perfect proportion and arrangement upon his face. Their beauty erased a tiny amount of her fear.

Whatever his problem, she could stare at him no longer. She sealed her eyes shut again, forcing the inner turbulence of her terrified body, her racing heart, her rapid, strained breathing to emphasize. Her pounding pulse fluttered against shaking palms and fingertips by her temples. Tears poured from her eyes. “What are you?” she cried. “Who are you?”

“I am Ra’ammahkar.” His deep voice thundered the air. “Although call me Ra’am. We need to decrease your respiratory rate, before you enter a state of shock.”

Instantly she opened her eyes. What did he mean? It suddenly occurred to her just how close she was to his body. HIS BODY! His weird, creepy body! Though he held her tightly, his embrace didn’t hurt. Her head rested snuggly against his upper left arm and left chest, while her back and legs lay across his legs. But she felt trapped and powerless.

Waves of dizziness and nauseousness raked through her. She noticed the being remove his right arm from underneath her back side. Slowly he moved his hand, a large, blue-streaked hand toward her stomach. Her stare glued to his every motion, her body experiencing internal hysteria at the same time. “What are you doing?” she asked, fear crushing her voice.

“I am simply going to lay my hand on your stomach. You will then feel a warm sensation, as I attempt to lower the rates of your respiratory, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems. A series of mild electrical nerve impulses will pass to your spine. I will be gentle. It will not hurt.”

“No, wait!” Trenae felt horror-stricken. She stared at his hand, and then up at his face. Then back at his hand again. He had halted the motion of his hand, keeping his hand still in the air. He was waiting.

“If I do not calm you down,” he said, “I think you will become unconscious. I do not believe you want that now, do you?”

What little composure Trenae had left crumbled. She started to cry, really cry. “Oh God, oh God,” she whispered through sobs, “I’ve been through so much. I’m so scared. This can’t be happening. This…can’t be…happening…” She closed her eyes again.

She moved her trembling hands from her temples, pressing them over her wet eyes, securing the chance of seeing any disturbing visions. As she did so, she felt Ra’am’s large hand press upon her green dress, above her stomach. He pressed his hand further, until he compressed the synthetic green fabric firmly upon her middle abdomen. A warm sensation, just as he had described suddenly emanated into her abdomen and toward her back.

Trenae slid her hands aside and opened her eyes. Lifting her head a little, to see over her breasts, she stared at his hand. I have to touch him. She took her left hand from her face and quickly felt the top of his hand.

“What is your name?” Ra’am’s deep voice came soothing, docile now.

My fear shows blatantly, judging from the change in his voice. “Trenae,” she said softly. The back of her throat hurt from crying.

Ra’am’s eyes glared at her with knife-like, frightening intensity. She couldn’t look at them. She kept her stare toward her stomach, at the same time feeling his hand with her fingertips. She noticed his hand’s shape resembled a man’s hand, though lacking any hair so characteristic of a man’s hand. His skin felt warm on the surface, like a human’s skin, but taut and thick. Beneath his skin lay many tough fibers, almost like wires, which she absolutely had never felt before. Most felt linear. But some thinner fibers crisscrossed the larger, linear fibers. Trenae wanted to scream, their creepy feel shocking her, but felt halted by an ever-increasing drug-like state. Her heart rate was gradually diminishing. So was her breathing and intense trembling. Even her mind started to clear, allowing her to make more sense of all the strange circumstances hitting her consciousness in one blow. A relaxed, soothing, and less fearful state came to lie within her.

Curiosity slowly emerged. She felt more able to speak. “What are those things, those blue wiry things, beneath your skin,” she asked slowly. Her mouth felt so weak. Yes, she definitely felt drugged. She focused her stare on his hand, still avoiding eye contact. 

“They are called geed’aso, a very strong collagen and metalloprotein tendon, which only the males of my species have in great abundance. Because geed’aso protrudes into our skin layer, they can be seen easily, even more so than veins.”

What? Trenae found some courage. Slowly she lifted her gaze, staring into his eyes again, keeping her hand on his hand. “Then…then you’re not…human, are you?”

“No, I am not,” he said calmly.

His words left her rather unfazed, maybe due to his touch. Relaxation was growing more and more within her, even as Ra’am’s eyes unnerved fiercely. “Then…are you some sort of cyborg,” she asked softly, “a robot, a genetic experiment?”

“No, I am none of those.” He lowered his stare and looked down at his hand. “I am not from this planet, Trenae.” He stared back into her eyes. “I am an ometvah, from the planet Harkoav, in what your world calls the Andromeda galaxy.”

“No…that can’t be,” she said slowly. The sensation from his hand was beginning to feel very pleasant. “You speak English…you speak it well.”

Ra’am continued piercing her with his frightening eyes. She wanted to cringe, shut her fragile eyes, but could not.

“I have been here now for approximately nine earth years,” he said, “in many varied locations around the earth, underground, as you have witnessed. Although I learned your language within days upon my arrival, I have had even more experience with speaking it over the years.”

A barrage of disturbing, familiar voices blasted the air. Trenae jolted a little against Ra’am’s body, a scared doe. “Oh my God. No,” she said weakly. “They’re here! Are they, are they here, in this room? What are you doing?”

Ra’am removed his hand off her stomach. He carefully slid his right arm around her back again, gently lifting her up. Even with his hand gone from her stomach, she still felt remnants of that soothing sensation within her body. He turned around and gently placed her on the seat he had been sitting on, the same odd-feeling seat she had observed previously, during the last visit.

“There, on the display window, or khalon as we say,” Ra’am said. “That is what you hear.”

She turned and looked. He pointed toward an area of the room, to her left, that housed some sort of flat, half circle control panel with numerous lighted buttons and two small vertical, protruding objects. Two seats were before the control panel. The whole control panel was placed directly beneath what appeared as an actual window to the clearing above them. She could see the area where Ra’am had captured her.

Then she could see Stiles and Mr. Finley. Those evil men WERE at River Cliffs! Where had they parked their vehicles?

Trenae attempted to stand up. Her legs felt weak. Was it her haggard condition, or was it what Ra’am had just done with his hand, on her stomach? Either way, she began to fumble and fall back. As she positioned her hands to halt her fall, she felt Ra’am’s hands swoop down upon her shoulders, holding her. She looked up at him. He gently stood her back up. Without her boots on, he towered over her like a giant, compared to their last encounter. But the warmth and gentleness of his huge hands encompassing her small shoulders alleviated some fear.

“Come stand over here, just a short distance.” He released her shoulders and grasped both her hands in his hands, leading her a few feet more to her left. Her pantyhose-covered feet walked on a strange, bumpy floor.

Once he stopped, Ra’am released her left hand and put his right hand in his jacket’s pocket. He pulled out a folded paper. “Here,” he said, bringing the paper toward her face. His nails loomed closer. They’re black, different! “This is only a paper tissue from your planet, from a local grocery store. You may wipe your eyes.”

Trenae gingerly pinched the tissue with two fingers and stuttered, “Th-th-thank you.” Without his touch on her stomach, trembling began seizing her body again. She brought the tissue near her face, sniffing it secretly. It did have a familiar, earth-like scent.

With soft touches, she wiped her eyes and nose with one shuddering hand, while keeping a vigilant watch on Ra’am.

He let go of her right hand and began removing the black jacket he wore. Once off, he tossed the jacket in a straight shot onto the soft seat they had sat on, now behind her. Trenae turned, watching it whiz past her, but then turned back to keep her eye on him. She noticed that he was wearing the same silver armband he wore last night, on his right arm. She also noticed that his arms, exposed for view from near his shoulders right on down to his hand or arm band, due to the black tee shirt covering his upper body, did indeed have the same geed’aso running along parallel with powerful muscle segments. She observed too that his wrist and elbow joints seemed unusually large, and a little distorted in their structure.

Ra’am gently clutched her right hand. She cringed inside, even though his hand felt warm. Too much was happening at once. Slowly he pulled her until about six inches from his front body. Anxiously watching his every movement, she noticed his right arm, with the silver armband, move backwards a little and then plunge forward. At that same instant, a strange silvery yet clear substance began encircling them, about three feet from their bodies. She looked up, all around. From the very few inches above Ra’am’s head, all the way down to the floor, the substance surrounded them. It looked like the substance that had saved her life last night.

As the substance finished its encircling path and formed a giant bubble around them, it began changing, showing color.

“What is that?” Trenae asked frantically. She squeezed Ra’am’s hand a little. His hand’s interior felt like wires and thick rubber, immensely powerful. This can’t be. She looked up into his face.

Ra’am’s stare pierced through her eyes. “It is released through my koaksekhel, on my arm. It is called hemoom prodoh, and it is capable of nearly unlimited possibilities. Now, it is a viewing mechanism. Turn and see.”

Trenae turned around. Her heart crashed to the floor. There, just about 4 feet before her, stood Stiles and Mr. Finley!

She spun herself back around, whipping her free hand up and covering her face, attempting to protect herself. She squeezed Ra’am’s hand even harder and nuzzled closely against his body. “Oh my God,” she said, “You shouldn’t have done this! They want to kill me!”

His large hand gently cupped her chin, lifting her head up to see his face. “It is only an image, like a TV screen.” His deep voice resonated through her body. “We are not actually above the ground. We are still on the Memadshakor, below ground. Turn around and I will show you.”

Trembling and nervous, she turned, yet only her head. No, she determined, this is real! They talked, moved like real. And the trees, the ground, the rocks, and everything else looked absolutely real too! Even the soil by her feet appeared to have texture and dimension!

Ra’am lifted his right arm and made a quick movement. Instantly, the voices and images disappeared. Nothing remained from the scene. Nevertheless Trenae’s heart pounded again, pounded hard. Her breathing heaved rapidly.

“You see,” he said quietly. “The former image has vanished.” Without moving his arm, he brought the image back once more.

 Little by little, Trenae turned her entire body around. She pressed her right side against Ra’am’s body. She continued holding his hand. With fear, attentiveness, she allowed the words and actions of Willson’s men to singe her ears, burn her eyes.

Stiles stood next to Mr. Finley. Both men stared down at the flat rock covering her father’s small grave.

“Ya think she knows, that you had to dig that fucking spot?” Stiles asked in a loathsome, near whisper. They obviously didn’t want to be heard.

“Hey, I’m not perfect, okay?” Mr. Finley said, quietly too. “I was just looking to see if she’d been here, and maybe there’s some coins or bills in that box. What’s your problem?”

“My problem is, if Johnboy hadn’t stopped you, you woulda dug the whole gadamn thing and she would’ve seen for sure. Ya shoulda pushed more of the dirt back in, you retard.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mr. Finley said, waving his hand up in a sarcastic motion. He began walking to Trenae’s right, up toward the incline of the mountain.

Stiles stood alone. She quickly noticed that the man who had owned her, who had raped and abused her carried a handgun. A cold, dark, metallic, and very lethal-looking handgun.

“Where’s his b-b-bat?” she stammered. Ra’am said nothing.

As Stiles began kicking the sandy dirt and ground, keeping one of his hands in the ugly gray coat he wore and the other hand holding the malicious gun, Traferro came walking softly from behind Ra’am’s right. Trenae turned to get a better view.

Traferro spoke quietly too. “Hey Stiles, look what I found.”    

Stiles looked up. “Hey, Johnboy,” he whispered, “whata ya got?”

Instantly Trenae saw what Traferro had- her boots.

Traferro held the boots with glove covered hands, showing them to Stiles. Stiles appeared in charge of their sneaky and cruel operation. “You think she’s nearby?” Traferro asked, his voice hushed.

“Yeah, she’s gotta be, especially with her purse and keys in the car. Maybe she got spooked, from that freakin’ tree crashing. Something’s going on.”

Though Trenae felt lucky, hearing their conversation and yet not being visible, she wanted it all to end.

“Finley just went that way, up the hill,” Stiles said. He pointed past Ra’am’s right, and stared for a moment. Then Stiles curved his arm, making some gathering motions toward his body. Trenae followed his line of sight. Mr. Finley began walking back down the incline, between some trees. “Once Finley gets here, we’ll give him these, for Xavier and that damn dog. That cracked bottle and shirt Willson gave didn’t give much.”

“Didn’t he let it sniff her purse and the car seat?” 

Stiles turned and faced Traferro. “Yeah, but he wants something else she wore. Malcolm still has her purse, searching it and the Eclipse. Even with the dog, I think we should still branch out, each check a section. I’ll head back down by the Eclipse. She can’t be that far. You search down this clearing.” Stiles then thrust his gun-laden hand toward the same location that she had seen Ra’am earlier.

She looked to her left. Still on the ground lay the snapped pine tree, its broken, remnant trunk base protruding nearby.

“Good. I’m glad Finley’s taking the boots,” Traferro said. “I need my hands free.”

Trenae turned toward Traferro. She quickly noticed that he had a handgun too. She shuddered.

“I told you, Johnny-boy, we’re not using them.” Stiles again spoke quietly. “Unless we really need to. I’m sure once we see her, we can run her down. You can get those ‘ol legs going, can’t ya? Besides, she’s weak and clumsy, an idiot. We’ll have no problem, unless someone is helping her. Then, we have the guns.”

“Yeah, like you’re gonna be able to whack her anyway,” Traferro said boldly. Trenae shuddered more, her body shaking into Ra’am. She felt a confrontation brewing, since Stiles hated to be questioned.

“What exactly is that supposed to mean?” Stiles voice came louder, angrier.

“Oh, come on,” Traferro said, keeping his stare on Stiles face, holding his ground.  “You always kept her to yourself, hardly passed her around. You put her down, yet I doubt you mean it.”

Mr. Finley approached the two men.

Surprisingly, Stiles acted calm. “Look, she’s a white-trash loser, okay.” His voice was still hushed. He stared down and shook his head a little. “And to think I had that bitch nearly primed and ready for business, though it took long enough. What a waste, what a waste. A beautiful body with…I don’t know, not my kind of personality…gutless.” Stiles looked back at Traferro with a heartless glare. “I’ll have no problem killing her, believe me.”

Trenae’s stomach knotted in pain. She turned and looked straight up at Ra’am. “Please, can we please stop this now? I’ve…I’ve heard…”

No sooner had she finished speaking, and Ra’am raised his right arm again. The image disappeared, as she noticed from above his head. Even so, she slowly turned around to make sure. Stiles and the others were gone. Then she looked over to the viewing window above the control panel. Its image was gone as well. Only a light silvery green covered the viewing window, the same color as the rest of the underground abode.

She looked up at Ra’am again. He stared down at her. “I…I want to thank you, for saving my life,” she said softly. “Both now and last night.”

“Think nothing of it. When I realized you were here today, I made certain to stay in the area, just for when they came back. I knew the moment I saw them earlier, they meant to do someone harm. And I am sure the sound from the tree breaking drew them near again. Now, you are safe…But unfortunately, I cannot let you leave. You know too much.”

Ra’am walked away from Trenae’s left, in front of her, gently tugging her hand. He tugged her toward the farther continuation of the wide curved corridor they had been standing in. “Can you walk?” he asked.

She looked up at his dark, powerful face. “I think so.”

“Good, then follow me. There is someone I want you to meet.”

She obeyed him once more. What else could she do? But his words ‘I cannot let you leave now’ echoed ruthlessly through mind. Regardless, while walking with him, she made astute observations of all the surroundings. She searched feverishly for any sign of something dangerous or harmful, some weird contraption for alien experimentation or other form of torture. Like many others, she knew of alien abductions around the world. Who couldn’t these days? And now, here she was, with one of them! Or WAS he an alien, or something else? Her mind raced in a whirlwind to figure it all out.

They passed by a room, just to her left. Ra’am was moving a little fast, so she only had a glimpse. But the room appeared to have a table and some seats, made out of the same colored material as the walls, ceiling, and floor, and placed similarly to a booth in a diner or fast food restaurant. Adjacent to two walls in the room’s corner was a countertop, similar in shape to a boomerang.

But her attentive scanning of the room halted abruptly, as her steps moved a short distance past the room’s doorway. Ra’am now had them standing stationary in front of the next doorway down the curved corridor, directly to the right of the table room’s doorway. However, this new doorway was unopened, sealed shut with the same light green, silvery substance.

“This is my companion you are about to meet,” Ra’am said. “And I hope he is in a friendly mood, but I believe he will be.” Trenae stared up quietly at the tall being. But then, seeing motion, she looked down and forward. Ra’am’s blue-striped hand touched a flat, lighted oval object, just to the right of the doorway, about five feet from the floor.

Upon his touch of the button, the door rushed to her left, in the same manner that an automatic sliding glass door at any local supermarket would work, but with melting fluidity and rapid motion. And the sliding door didn’t enter into a compartment large enough to accommodate its size, as inside the wall to the doorway’s left. No, instead, it melded and BECAME the doorway wall to its left. It was as though the sliding door never existed.

Her gaze became transfixed upon the doorway’s strange phenomenon. Yet something else caught her sight, something large and golden that poked two claw-ridden rods into her upper thighs and lower abdomen. Trenae startled. She jolted her left arm up and forced her stare below.

“No no, L.B.!” Ra’am said. Trenae could not believe it. There, beneath her, was a dog, a golden, longhaired happy dog! His mouth was open, tongue panting.  

“A dog?” she asked. “He looks like a Golden Retriever. Is he?”

Ra’am didn’t pay attention to her words. Instead he knelt down and wrapped his arms around the rambunctious, friendly animal, moving the animal off Trenae. L.B. licked Ra’am’s face with great eagerness. “Hey, hey, you silly dog. Come on,” Ra’am said, between licks on his face and hands.

Quickly she realized that this dog’s bark was the familiar sound she had heard during her last visit here. She just wasn’t cognitive at the time, fear marring her judgment.

Watching them together, she also noticed a smile appear on Ra’am’s face, the first smile she had observed from the alien. But his teeth appeared light blue in color, ruining the moment a little. Also, several teeth appeared somewhat sharper and larger than a human’s teeth.

But Trenae pushed these negative revealments aside. She gradually knelt down next to L.B. and Ra’am. She smoothed her hand across the energetic dog’s soft fur. “Is he, from…?”

“Yes, a Golden Retriever from earth. He is a gift from a friend, who lives in Spokane, Washington.”

Though she wanted to ask more questions, L.B. gave Ra’am a paw, while asserting a low, friendly growl from his throat. “What am I going to do with you?” Ra’am told him, wrapping his arms around L.B. and giving the dog a close hug. As from a warm summer breeze, Trenae felt some of the sharp, stabbing ice crystals of fear and anxiety melt around her heart. For she knew, from many pets of her past when her father was alive, that an animal knew who loved them and responded in kind. An animal would not lie. If Ra’am truly loved this dog, could he be so bad?

Ra’am let go of L.B., appearing to have ended his session of reassuring hugs, pats and rubs on L.B.’s back and head. Ra’am stood up.

L.B. then turned at her. Since she continued kneeling, she was fortunate to receive a barrage of wet dog licks to her face as well. She felt the muscles of her face begin to unfreeze, like her heart, as she too could not refrain from smiling. Even a few quiet chuckles came from her voice.

Finally L.B. appeared to have had enough attention and began settling down into just a romping, tail-wagging dog.

“He is still young, only two years old,” Ra’am said. “His name, the letters L and B, stand for Lucky Boy. He was the runt of the litter and my friend believed L.B. would not survive. But, he did. I sometimes leave him in my room when I go up ground, depending on his mood. Most of the time, I take him with me. I could not today, due to those men and their German Shepard. But L.B. is a good dog. I have been…rather lonely. Without him, I do not know.”

Trenae looked up at Ra’am. His smile was gone. Instead, he appeared rather stoical, like before, and powerful. And large. And terrifying. “Come now with me and we will get some necessary items for you.” He stared through her with frightening eyes. “Would you like me to hold your hand?”

Somehow, with the way he looked at her, she prompted against it. She would struggle on her own now. “No, that’s okay. I’ll be all right.”

Ra’am nodded, without speaking, and began walking in another direction. L.B. followed him. She stood up and did as well.

She started feeling a little freer to speak with him. “Necessary items?”

Ra’am turned around briefly. “Yes, for your room. I have another sleeping room on this Memadshakor. The room you just viewed was my own. You will need blankets and a pillow.”

It then occurred to her that she had seen some blankets in that room, his room. Just for a fleeting moment, but the picture implanted her memory. Several colorful blankets, like the kind a Native American would make, like from the Nez Perce Indians, and some red and blue pillows, all lay on a small bed-like structure protruding from the wall, across from the doorway.

But that odd word. “Memad…sha…what? I’m sorry, I--”

“Memadshakor, the spacecraft we are now on.” Ra’am halted his movement and turned around. She looked up at him, but then glanced down, noticing him lift his right arm, the arm with the strange silver armband he called a koaksekhel. He held his arm horizontally and tilted it slightly sideways, in her direction, just at her eye level. She could see the armband clearly now.

Bright silver entered her eyes. The koaksekhel began its length just above Ra’am’s wrist and continued to two or three inches below his elbow, appearing to be molded out of one uniform material, yet taking on different shapes, heights, and textures throughout the armband’s length and width. Some apparent alien letters also covered the koaksekhels’s surface, in varying places. She studied it quickly, closely. From his wrist to the end near his elbow, a 21/2- to maybe 5-inch wide area, corresponding to the varying widths of his forearm, contained a ½ to 1- inch elevated area of various geometric shapes, tapering off to a slope at the wrist base, near the elbow, and along the sides. A little up from his wrist, a square border surrounded a small circular area, a circle with a kaleidoscope-type eye, with many crisscrossing swirling lines, meeting at one central point in the circle. Yeah, she thought, what he called hemoom prodoh, producing the all-encompassing viewer, shot forth from the circle.

Above the square border on the koaksekhel, heading toward his elbow, existed a long rectangular shape, having a very thin line down its length-wise center.  The very thin line abruptly opened, similar to two parallel sliding doors and with the same strange fluidity and odd melting-like or disappearing-like property as the door to Ra’am’s room. No moving parts or separate parts seemed to exist on anything she had seen so far. All matter anywhere on the Memadshakor appeared either to grow or shrink in size, yet come from just one main unit of matter. 

With the small doors opened, oval ½ inch buttons, a rectangular-shaped area, resembling a small viewing screen, and a thin, long line, near the inside of his forearm, all could be seen. All the items appeared fantastically advanced, and existed upon similar colored and textured material as the rest of the silver koaksekhel. The buttons had varying colors, placed in rows, with a strange fluid-like fluorescent liquid within them, yet again, did not appear as separate entities, but part of the koaksekhel’s whole.

The line near his inside forearm opened about a 1/8 of an inch.

Upon opening, an oval, three-dimensional color image materialized about two inches above its thin entry portal. “This is an image of Memadshakor, from above, right now,” Ra’am said.  “I removed the tekrah, or ceiling, so that you can observe within. Move closer, look inside.”

Trenae looked up at his face. Then, moving forward slightly, she gazed down at the image above his koaksekhel. She immediately witnessed a small, oval shaped vessel that looked so vivid, so tactile and real, so smooth, though only around 5 inches in diameter, that just couldn’t be holographic or three-dimensional. It was real! The oval shape had a central, circular area composed of four rooms, separated by cross hair walls. In the center of the cross hair, another smaller circle dwelled, dark in shade.

“Although this spacecraft is a Memadshakor, my personal name for it is Ha-Ta, or translated, The Cell. I call it this because of its similarity to a living cell, with a nucleus containing the most important and invaluable components, surrounded by areas of less importance, but indispensable nonetheless. The nucleus area is approximately 24 feet in diameter, where as the area which surrounds it, these wide hallways we are in, are 12 feet in width, making this interior approximately 48 feet diameter at its greatest width. You see,” Ra’am said, taking his other hand and pointing to an area next to the central circle, “we are here, right there.” The area he pointed to laid opposite the side of Ha-Ta where the control panel and viewing window resided. Thus, they stood near Ha-Ta’s back end, whereas the control panel lay in the front end.

How true were his words, as Trenae looked closer. For there they were, in tiny miniature, placed exactly as they now stood! And L.B. moved around in miniature, just as he did now, near her legs!  “Oh my gosh, it looks…it looks so real! How is that?”

“Molecular-sized aerial robotic systems, possessing viewing mechanisms, similar to digital cameras, although greatly advanced from earth’s technology. We call this particular system proodat t’notat teesatkhepah.  It responds at my command and produced this view.”

“And the colors,” she said, examining the image. “Everything is the same, like the light green color in here!” She looked up at Ra’am again. “Those molecular robots…is that how we could see Stiles and the others, above ground?”

“Yes. Proodat t’notat teesatkhepah transmit their information in the form of simple electro-magnetic radio waves to Ha-Ta’s main computation center, called a taktselekh, as well as to molecular, atomic, and subatomic computation or computer systems called proodat t’notat taktselekh in both Ha-Ta and my koaksekhel. All computer systems remain in constant contact to update all available information. Some of the proodat t’notat teesatkhepah also use a form of radar electromagnetic waves, that are generated forward, transferred back, and instantly deciphered by the robots, which then send the information to all the computer systems. But, I will explain more about this later.

“See, look here.” Trenae lowered her gaze. Ra’am pointed at a room directly opposite in position to his room. “This will be your room, here.”

If Ha-Ta’s ‘nucleus’ were a pie, cut in to four equal portions, Ra’am’s room and the room he presented to her existed in the bottom or back end portions. The two upper or front portions he had yet to explain and label.

But just as he began pointing at their position, her eyes scanned away a moment, noticing the size of Ra’am’s left forearm. His arm’s breadth surpassed her own thin forearm’s breadth by three or four times. An involuntary, secret shudder cascaded within her body. Though Trenae felt much better since L.B. had entered the scene, her trust diminished. Ra’am’s large arms, and his other examples of enormous strength, forced her to hope, upon all hopes, that this alien being would continue to be friendly and not turn on her. Because if he did, she was most certainly without any hope at all.

She looked up at him. “Why can’t I leave now?”

Ra’am darted his black stare into her eyes. “And why would you want to? It appears to me, that you are in great danger above ground.”

She swallowed, trying to be secretive. “But…but you said, I cannot leave now…why, why not?” Her voice came as nearly a whisper.

“Yes, I did. There is a slight chance your government will seek to silence or eclipse a human being who has made contact with an alien being. Are you familiar with this?”

“Well, yes, I think so.”

“You know too much now, and will learn even more. So, for your own protection and for my protection with continuing studies of your planet, it would be best if you stay here. I, however, do not need protection from any individual or group of individuals on your planet. I am far too powerful.” Trenae struggled to watch his eyes, yet did so anyway. “The koaksekhel itself, here on my arm, has enough power to produce a gradual chain reaction subatomic explosion to annihilate your entire planet, very effortlessly, although that is not my mission.” His expression became less severe. “But do not worry. I will provide you with food and clothing, bathroom facilities, heat, water, and everything else you need. All I ask in return is your help with my continuing studies, until I leave in approximately 21/2 to 3 earth months. As long as you are near me, Stiles and his men can never harm you.”

“S-s-studies?” she asked nervously.

“Yes, do not worry. The study of the earth’s biosphere, its plants, animals, microorganisms. Not you. You can simply assist me to locate and collect these species, that is all.”

“Oh.” She lowered her gaze again.

“So that is why you should acquaint yourself with Ha-Ta’s layout. Here, in this room,” he said, pointing to the upper right corner section room, “is my laboratory, or eyzkher tagleet. Opposite, is the eating room, a form of dining and kitchen facility, quite similar to those of earth. We call that room eyzkher mazon.”

That was the room, with the diner-like booth. “Oh…yes.”

“Over here, just before the eating room and near the long seat that we sat on initially, is the ceiling doorway, or delet tekrah, to the above ground. The long seat, which is on Ha-Ta’s left side, is called an evesmol.  In the front of this Memadshakor, is the control panel, or shleetah maksheer, where you viewed the men.  Above the shleetah maksheer is the khalon, as you have seen, produced by proodat t’notat khalon system.

“And to the right of the shleetah maksheer, there is another doorway, although now, underground, is rather useless. That doorway is called delet yahmon. And possibly you noticed, as we walked down here, there was a seat, similar to the one beneath the ceiling entrance, right opposite my room and against the outer wall, at a 45 degree angle from Ha-Ta’s center. There is another seat in the same position from your room. They are merely extra seating accommodations. Do you have any questions?”

Trenae looked even closer at the incredible, miraculous replication of the spacecraft. She did notice something that made her wonder. “Why is the area, this curved hallway, around the central rooms, so wide?”

“Ah yes. Good question. You see to your right, right here?” Ra’am turned toward the far curved wall on her right. She did the same. Three more separate doorways came into view, spaced apart from each other by about four or five feet, sealed with the same light green colored doors, similar too in size and texture as the door to Ra’am’s room.

 “Now look back on the koaksekhel image, in the same corresponding position,” he said.  She did as asked and saw three long, rounded-edged rectangular rooms placed side by side to each other, by their longest sides. They were outside the back perimeter edge of Ha-Ta, yet with entrances into Ha-Ta through their short-sided front ends. “This first bio-cylinder, or galeel khayeh,” he said, pointing to the a cylinder on the outside edge of the three, near Ha-Ta’s right side, “which is approximately 8 feet wide and 15 feet long, as are the other two, contains a greenhouse and a water holding tank. The greenhouse is entered first, while the water-holding tank is at the far end. And this next bio-cylinder,” he said, pointing correspondingly, “is actually similar to what you know as a bathroom and laundry room, when one first enters this cylinder. This cylinder also has a water tank at its back end.” He finally pointed to the last one, near Ha-Ta’s left side. “This cylinder contains a greenhouse, a storage room, and a small water-holding tank.”

“Where do you get the water from?” she asked, keeping her eyes on the image.

“From underground wells. Each tank has a built-in device capable of digging into the earth and securing water. This water is highly prized, since it is high in minerals needed for my species. You will find the water here to be quite hard, heavy with minerals.

“But the reason these cylinders are outside of Ha-Ta, is because a Memadshakor can be miniaturized. The cylinders have specific space available on board during travel in the universe, but once underground on a planet, they are removed. You see right here, here, and here also,” he said, pointing to the left side, right side, and back end, near where they now stood, of the curved hallway surrounding Ha-Ta’s middle. “These are the positions the cylinders will occupy when I return to Harkoav in the months ahead. But because of the potential possibility of ever needing to miniaturize Ha-Ta while I am above ground, due a particular circumstance, the cylinders must remain outside this vessel, since they contain biological life forms. Living matter cannot be miniaturized.”

She looked up at him. “What? Why is that?” Worry hit.

“Because living matter, or biological material, is far too complicated to ever miniaturize, at least now, at our current level of technology. Yet I doubt that will change, due to the incredibly complicated biochemical, bio-molecular interactions that occur every split second within the cellular dimensions.”

“Wait a minute…miniaturize?” Trenae asked softly. She continued staring at his face. “This spaceship, this Memadshakor? I’m no expert, but that sounds impossible.”

Ra’am quickly banished the image above his koaksekhel and lowered his arm. She glanced at his arm, but then looked back up at him. He flashed a light blue grin, staring down into her eyes. “Impossible? By whose standards?”

Dissolving his grin, he turned toward the greenhouse cylinder with the storage room. Then he looked back at her face. “Let us get you some necessary items. Come with me.”

Again, she obeyed his words.

When they stood before all three cylinder doorways, the doorway on the left quickly slid open, in the exact manner as the doorway of Ra’am’s room. A blanket of bright light fell from the open doorway. Trenae squinted, covering her eyes with her hands. Fortunately Ra’am didn’t see her do this. He faced forward and began entering the bright cylinder room.

She stepped into the cylinder, following him, and suddenly remembered her feet lacked footwear. She glanced down at her pantyhose-covered feet, her long, loose hair nearly blocking the view. She wondered why her feet didn’t feel cold. Shoot, and they’re right next to this strange, miniaturizing material. Could it be dangerous, full of radiation, or maybe some of those molecular robots? What if those molecular robots are in the air, and I breathed them in? What a great time to be without those boots!

“This, as I showed you previously, is one of the greenhouses,” Ra’am said. She looked up at him. He turned back.  “I observed you cover your eyes. Is the light too bright?”

Astonished. He hadn’t seen! “How could, how could you know?” she asked cautiously. “You were facing the other way.”  

“I have not explained everything yet. Underneath my koaksekhel, just below my skin and geed’aso, there is an organic-based artificial nerve fiber which travels up my arm, through my neck and connects with a portion of my brain similar to the corpus callosum in the human brain.”

“Corpus callosum?”

“Yes, the corpus callosum acts as bridge between the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere of the brain. In our brains, we have found a way to access this information bridge and allow computer system information to enter both hemispheres and be accessed.”

A wave of queasiness grabbed Trenae’s center. She closed up both sides of her leather jacket together, and then crossed her arms over her stomach, just below her breasts. She definitely didn’t feel well. She looked to her right, at the wall of the cylinder, displaying the same silvery light green as the rest of Ha-Ta, and longed to lean up against it with her right shoulder. But no, wait, what about those molecular robot things!

She looked to her left. Five exact, neat shelves of numerous plants extended from a wall, beginning farther down from Ra’am and proceeding toward the doorway until about two feet from the doorway. The plants appeared to be rooted in soil depth of three or four inches, as was the depth of each shelf. Any shelf below another shelf appeared to be lighted by the shelf above it, yet by no apparent light bulb or other light fixture. The light just glowed from the walls, ceilings, or shelves, the same as it was doing in the greenhouse. She looked up and saw white, all-encompassing brightness merely emanating from the ceiling. It didn’t make sense!

“I can receive any information from both the koaksekhel and Ha-Ta’s computer systems,” Ra’am said. She looked up at his face again. “Any information that is of an immediate urgency, as security scanning of the interior and exterior of this spacecraft, is received instantly. That is how I saw your movement.” She squinted again, and then looked back at the lighted walls. “The light comes from subatomic photon particles which are emitted from proodat t’notat orah system. I will now lessen the light, since it is too bright for you.”

At the exact moment Ra’am said his words, the room’s lighting decreased. However, its effect didn’t agree with Trenae’s weary body. A tiger sneaking up and attacking its prey, dizziness and light-headedness assaulted her. She began to tilt to the left, falling over toward the floor, falling over toward an unsuspecting L.B. just entering the room. Oh no, I’ll land on the poor dog! What’s wrong with me?

            She didn’t continue to fall. Ra’am lunged forward and caught her.

Both his large hands gently yet firmly grasped her shoulders, and straightened her against the wall. She looked at his face, but couldn’t see straight. His face shuffled in motion, floundering choppy, blurry, as though she had just finished spinning around in a tight circle. A new wave of fear and helplessness entrapped her body, her thoughts struggling frantically to understand all that was now occurring.

“You are still not well.” Ra’am’s deep, commanding voice surrounded her, making things worse. “I believe it is stress and lack of food and water. Do you think you can walk, or should I carry you?”

Tears again watered in her tired eyes. Her nose began leaking. She hung her head down in fear, shame, and fatigue, gingerly lifting a hand and wiping her nose.

“Trenae, can you hear me?”

“No…I don’t know…please, what’s wrong with me?” she whispered, her head still down. Her legs wobbled, getting weaker, weaker.

The moment Trenae felt her legs ready to collapse, similar to earlier in the clearing, Ra’am released her shoulders and swooped down, one of his arms wrapping under her knees and the other arm sliding around her upper back. He lifted, and then carried her toward the doorway. She wondered about such behavior, beginning to assume different reasons for why he seemed so caring. Any ulterior motives? What is he planning to do next with me? Yet all she could quickly determine was that she couldn’t remember the last time someone had treated her so considerately.

Just before he was about to carry her through the greenhouse cylinder’s doorway, the doorway widened, like liquid metal, accommodating both of them easily. He carried her out of the lighted room. She tried hard to keep her eyes open, within his arms, to watch everything he did, might do.

Though she could see his face and neck closely once more, seeing his blue geed’aso muscles, she instead tried to look around at Ha-Ta. But it was difficult through blurry vision. But she persisted.

The edge where the light green ceiling and walls touched one another was bordered by ribbon-like layers, five or six of them all together. The layers gave the edge a rounded appearance, instead of the typical sharp 90-degree angle found on most wall-ceiling angles.

“L.B, come along,” Ra’am said, turning around briefly, just as she searched for more Ha-Ta details. “I will give you something to eat too.”

She listened closely, noticing Ra’am’s shoes didn’t produce a sharp, crisp clang as he walked on Ha-Ta’s surface, as would be typical of a metal surface. His shoes instead produced a sound more characteristic of walking on sand, or a malleable, thick surface, like plastic, forming a low, clucking thud or squish noise. Yet did his shoes cause this sound or did the floor cause this sound? Actually, the noises sounded muffled, as in a cushioned sound room.

She tried to glance down and observe the floor, while he carried her through the curved corridor, passing her new room and the laboratory room. But the floor was just too far away now and she was just too dizzy. Maybe later she could determine the floor’s composition and appearance.

“I hope you will like what I have,” Ra’am said. “I think I have some food Dod gave me. The food should still be fresh.”

Trenae heard his words, and felt mildly grateful, but couldn’t fully appreciate or understand what they meant. She mostly struggled and worried over her dizziness and weakness, and her tearing eyes. Her breaths huffed shallow, and the back of her throat hurt again. She smelled the air, with each inhaled breath. Air on Ha-Ta had a strange, ionized sort of odor.

All of it, everything, weakened her even more. She suddenly felt an incredible desire to embrace Ra’am. So desperately did she need a hug! Yet instinctively, it felt wrong. He’s not…human.

She could only take some comfort in his arms holding her, his grasp gentle, though secure. And their bodies near. But it was creepy, too. But she had no choice. But she needed comfort. No, I’m going crazy.

She tried to relax.

Her gaze sleeked right, viewing the control panel and the khalon again. And then Ra’am turned, passing the evesmol. He seemed to have taken a farther route than necessary. Why was that? Then he turned again, entering the eating room, the eyzkher mazon.

Ra’am gradually, carefully placed her sitting on the first seat, the seat closest to the doorway. He made sure her legs were comfortable beneath the table, his soft touch placing them supportively. Then his palms pressed her shoulders, gently pushing her against the back of the seat.

“Can you sit up all right?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so,” she said weakly. She looked in his frightening face. “Why are you helping me?”

“Here, put your hands on the table, for support.” Ra’am lifted her hands from off the seat and placed them, palms down, on the table’s surface. With unnerving surprise, she noticed his fingernails again, this time with a better view. They were black, thick, and covered with six or more arrow-like ridges, ridges starting at his nails’ base and then pointing in the direction of their forward growth. Yet the nail’s tips weren’t pointy, but smooth and rounded, like human nail tips kept quite short. She shivered.

“Are you cold?” he asked, releasing her hands.

He moved away and sat down on the seat just across the table from her location. Trenae wiped her eyes. She could see clearly now into his incisive, powerful face, observing again his blue-lined geed’aso muscles. The view came far too close for comfort. As Ra’am placed his hands on the table, he then laid one hand on top of the other, with his forearms jutting out from either side, the koaksekhel not seeming to impede his folded arms. Sparkles of light reflected from his koaksekhel, from the room’s lighting. Though the eating room’s light shone brighter than the curved corridor, it was less bright, thankfully, than the greenhouse.

Trenae couldn’t keep looking at his intense, frightening eyes or his strange, dark fingernails. She looked down at her own hands on the table. Her trembling hands appeared so cold and pale. “I- I don’t know,” she finally answered. “I don’t think so.”

Movement stirred. She lifted her gaze a little. Ra’am was slowly gliding his right hand across the table. He placed his hand on both her hands. Oh my God, she screamed inside, HE’S NOT HUMAN! HE’S NOT HUMAN AND I’M HERE, ALONE WITH HIM! The words echoed violently in her head, banging back and forth, his hand’s view impaling into her mind. Blue, sinewy geed’aso and black, ridged nails could be seen viciously perfect now. She counted five fingers, a thumb and other fingers like a human’s hand. More light-headedness filled her mind. Her eyes widened in terror.

“You do feel cold. I will increase the heat in here. You are shaking. You are a scared little rabbit.” Ra’am slid his other hand over. He gently grasped both her hands now, in both his hands, and slowly pulled them nearer his side of the table, closer to his body. Trenae’s heart raced. He squeezed them softly, his hand's warmth penetrating her skin. “Trenae, look at me,” he commanded.

Slowly she lifted her head up and looked into his face.

“You must gain control over your mind now. I exist, and you must accept that. If you do not, you will continue to teeter on the verge of shock or nervous system deterioration.” He leaned his dark face closer to her. “Repeat after me, Ra’am exists!”

What? What is this? Her mind felt numb, her vision blurry. Her eyes gradually strayed from his frightening stare, looking away.

“Trenae!” he said firmly, squeezing her hands again, only this time harder. She suddenly felt a small taste of his unbelievable strength. It forced her to look back at him. She had to comply. “You must say this,” he demanded. “Ra’am exists!”

Overwhelmed, tears flowed from her eyes again. But, quietly, Trenae forced herself to speak anyway. “Ra’am exists, he exists,” she said softly. She bowed her head down, spilling her long, blond wavy hair around her arms and on the table. She began to cry even more.

Ra’am gently released her hands. She heard him move his hands back, away. Then she saw him bring forth, out of the corner of her right teary eye, several white papery objects in his left hand, gliding his hand across the table, near her hands. She looked at the objects. They were napkins.

“Here, use these to dry your eyes and nose,” he said. “Like the other one I gave you, it is just from a local store.” Trenae weakly picked up the napkins and blotted around her face. “Try taking deep, slow breaths. Tell yourself to relax. But most of all, you must keep telling yourself that I do exist. Eventually, your mind will catch up to what your eyes know as the truth. I have seen this before. It is not your fault. It is your world’s fault for not preparing you.”

 She looked up at him. He gave her an empty glance. Right afterwards, he rose up from the seat and then stood motionless near the table. “I will prepare us something to eat. Please, try to relax.”

As Ra’am walked over a short distance to the boomerang-shaped counter, Trenae tried what he requested. She took some deep breaths. She tried to relax and convince herself that he existed. Then she watched what he was doing. He was removing some food items from a few small closets above the counter top, so similar to the counter tops and closets of a regular human’s kitchen. However, the doors to these closets slid open and disappeared just like other doors on Ha-Ta.

L.B. bumped up from under the table, startling her a bit, poking his happy head by her right hand. “L.B., are you a sight for sore eyes,” she said quietly. She caressed his furry head and muzzle, petting him kindly, fervently, as someone who had just found a long, lost pet. When she brought her face closer to him, a wet tongue lapped her face. You’re my only connection to the human world above, she thought. How ironic, a dog. But the reassurance L.B. delivered was only fleeting and fake, for as soon as she looked at any of the material on Ha-Ta or looked at Ra’am, that reassurance scampered away.     

Ra’am returned. He placed upon the table a plate of food and a white tumbler of water. Watching him place the items, she noticed again the table possessed the same silvery light green color. Both the plate and tumbler, though, appeared to be white plastic, from earth. The plate contained many slices of dark orange fruit-looking pieces, cut in long slices, similar to a cantaloupe cut length-wise, yet had the overall shape of a butternut squash.

 “Do you feel any better?” Ra’am asked, sitting down.

She looked at him again, only this time with a sense of reality. So, he exists, get used to it. Besides, he hasn’t hurt you so far. “Yes, a little,” she said. “I felt very dizzy and light-headed back there, in the greenhouse. When you lowered the lighting…I don’t know, it did…something.”

“No, it was not the light. You are under too much stress. The light only worsened your condition. When was the last time you ate?”

The time. What was the time? Trenae lifted her left wrist. Pushing back her leather jacket sleeve, she looked at her watch’s digital clock face. It was almost 4:30, which meant it was almost 3:30 Pacific Time, since her watch continued to run on Mountain Time. “I ate around 9:00 this morning, Pacific Time. It’s been awhile.” She looked at his face. “Those molecular robots, are they dangerous? Because, that’s another reason, I felt d-dizzy. I was worried, about stepping on them, without shoes. Or breathing them, or anything else in here. Radiation, or anything?”

“No, there is nothing that can harm you.” Ra’am leaned back in his seat and placed his hands on the table, sitting tall and majestic.

Certainly no shrinking violet, this guy. He appeared, at least on the outside, to be her total opposite, similar to Stiles and Willson. But then again, he wasn’t human. Who could she compare him to or use as a gauge to measure him by?

 “The molecular machines or robots, or proodat t’notah, or systems of them, like proodat t’notat taktselekh, are part of a larger whole, and work together as a unit on a Memadshakor,” Ra’am said. “They have no use for any organic body of matter, since their whole purpose is to operate together, just like a large rock, although teeming with billions and billions of individual molecules, has no interest in interacting with your hand. It they are inhaled accidentally, they normally will leave the body or simply decompose harmlessly into natural elements your system will use or discard. You see, our technology is extremely complex, yet functions very simply. It is based on what your world refers to as nanotechnology and atomic computing.”

“Nanotechnology, atomic computing?” Trenae concentrated carefully to pronounce the words correctly. She desperately needed to cooperate with this being and not appear ignorant.

“Yes. Nanotechnology, or kleeproodah as we call it, a system of machines the size of an ohtah ha-kootsah and ohtev, meaning molecule and atom. The machines’ components are even atomic parts, that you know as the neutron, proton, electron, and other subatomic particles, which work separately or together as a whole unit, depending on the circumstances. The kleeproodah uses separate systems of molecular-sized machines, with varying names beginning with proodat t’notat, for varying tasks, like one system for miniaturization, one for life support, etc. But, though having separate or contiguous systems, a Memadshakor still functions as a whole unit. Our form of atomic computing is the proodat t’notat taktselekh and central taktselekh. Are you familiar with nanosystems?”

“I…yes, I remember. In school. Yes.”

“The origin of our present technology began when we mastered total control over the atom and the forces of the universe.”

She studied his face curiously. “Forces of the universe?”

“Yes, what earth’s physicists now refer to as the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity, or understanding how large bodies of matter function verses how atomic structure functions. Your physicists struggle with uniting these forces, in particular with string theory, and their struggle recalls the time, thousands of our years ago, when we first united these forces together ourselves. It is not because earth’s physicists are looking in the wrong direction, they just need more time, especially in the realm of subatomic particles and these particles’ interactions.” He laid his arms on the table, leaning forward more and staring directly into her face. “You see, many subatomic particles or energy do have mass, because they contain other particles or energy quantities, which also contain other particles and properties, such as other dimensional realms, varying shapes, and so forth. Your physicists believe there are approximately 300 subatomic particles, yet there are many more.”

Ra’am looked down at the food and then back at her. “First I want you to drink some water, since you may be dehydrating. After drinking, you need to eat some of this fruit. It is from my planet, and is called ketoomahgas. It is very nutritious, high in amino acids and calcium, and other nutrients. Sweet too. I think you will like it. It will help you now.”

Oh, great. Now I have to eat his food? I’ll be poisoned, probably, she worried. “No, that’s okay, really. Don’t you have some other food, like you said?”

Ra’am stared a steely, overpowering glare into her eyes. “Trenae, you are going to have to trust me. I am an astro-biologist, as well as a scientist of other fields, and have studied your biosphere and geosphere extensively. I have studied human beings extensively. This will not hurt you. Dod has had some plenty of times, and is only healthier for it.”

“Dod?” she asked softly.

“Yes, Dod Whiteclay, my friend in Spokane, Washington. I have known him now for seven earth years. You will meet him soon. We trade often. But now, I want to help you. Besides,” he said, smiling, leaning down even closer to her face, “you have already received and absorbed some of Harkoav’s plant life and it has not hurt you. In fact, it has healed you.”

“What?” Trenae wiped some last tears from her eyes to see him better. “What plant life?”

He continued to lean close to her. “After you left, early this morning, I walked down the hill to see if you were all right. You were asleep in the car. I laid several leaves of tse makh yerape on your leg, on top of your panty hose. Tse makh yerape will then slowly break apart into its various biological molecular components, or individual molecular machines, proodat t’notah, and enter your blood stream.

“The whole system of machines in tse makh yerape is called proodat t’notat khayeh,” he continued. “Certain biochemicals are emitted during injuries or disease, such as inflammation, immune processes, and other signs of cellular destruction, which tse makh yerape instantly discovers and administers to. Then it immediately accelerates equilibrium and normalcy to the affected area, by greatly accelerating and enhancing your own system’s healing process.” His words came fast, his stare more intense. “It even destroys and breaks down waste products which could cause swelling, like excess blood or other fluids. Tse makh yerape is a genetically engineered combination of both biological and atomic computerization, a form of biological nanotechnology, which be assured, when it has finished its task, merely breaks down into various biological waste products that your blood and excretory system can easily eliminate.”

“Oh my gosh, that’s so…so much…to know,” Trenae said, placing her right hand just above her heart. Her palm touched bare skin.

No, my low neck line! Slowly, covertly she began pulling her leather jacket’s sides together. Ra’am’s eyes glanced down, watching her movement. Then, without flinching, he raised his glare, piercing her with his eyes. She swallowed. “Oh my gosh, I…I was wondering, what happened.” Again she swallowed. Why is he so close to my face now? The closeness of his penetrating stare, maybe less than 15 inches away, and the magnified view of his blue geed'aso lines, made her forget other problems. Was that his plan? Divert, divert his attention! “But, thank you. I guess you’re right, if that worked, and I’m okay, I guess, I guess…”

Ra’am backed away, assuming his former sitting position, his hands on the table and his back against the seat. “Then, you will eat some, correct?”

Did any other choice exist? With careful scrutiny, she looked down and picked up one of the pieces of foreign fruit. Its texture and thickness felt similar to a slice of cantaloupe. She slowly brought it up to her mouth, and then hesitated, holding it, yet not parting her lips.

“Trenae, please, give it a try. It will not hurt you. I assure you. And you will probably enjoy it.”

Okay, so, what have I got to lose anyway? Heck, I almost committed suicide, just last night. What does it matter? Finished rationalizing, she opened her mouth and took a small bite.

“Do you like it?” he asked.

She chewed the small mouth full, releasing a sweet flavor. “Yeah, it is…” She lifted her head and looked in Ra’am’s face. “Sweet, like a honey coated piece of cantaloupe or strawberry and, and maybe some apple. It is good.”

“Eat as much as you want. And drink some water.” Ra’am likewise took a piece of the fruit and put it in his mouth. But then he stood up. He walked over to the counter again, removed a large white bowl, and lowered it down to the floor. L.B. hurried over to the bowl and started devouring the bowl’s contents.

“Good L.B., good boy,” Ra’am said, patting L.B.’s back in a manner similar to how any human would.

Carefully lifting the cup to her lips, Trenae took a sip of the water. It tasted like the good, irony well water she used to drink at Aunt Heather’s farm, before her aunt and uncle moved to the city. And she WAS thirsty, probably from experiencing the hard breathing, fear, and near shock that had barraged her body. She quietly gulped down nearly the whole cup.

 Ra’am walked back to the table. He sat down across from her again, upright and tall as before. “While you are eating and drinking, I want you to feel free to ask me any questions. I know you must have many.” As he stared now, his dark, piercing eyes penetrated right through her, seeming to reveal a being not conscious or alive. Unnerving, to say the least.

She tried not to make eye contact, but did what he requested. “Your technology, is there anymore I should know?”

He leaned forward and placed his forearms on the table, only this time straightforward from his body, so that both his hands were on either side of the plate, close to her body. He clinched his fingers into loose fists. She looked down. She simply continued to eat, keeping her gaze away from his eyes, though she made sure to listen carefully.

“A Memadshakor, along with most other Harkoav technology, relies ultimately on total mastery of the atom and its subatomic particles, as I said earlier, as well as Harkoav’s form of nanotechnology and atomic computerization,” Ra’am said.  “Our atomic computerization, similar to earth’s quantum computerization, though far more advanced, uses subatomic particles to process binary code and other codes nearly at infinite times per unit of time due to enormous speeds.

“But probably more amazing, to a human being, is our capability to shrink matter. Actually, not matter as a whole, but we have the ability to reduce the distance between electron clouds and the nucleus of an atom, and yet not destroy these individual particles in the process or disrupt the covalent, ionic, or other bonds, with which the electron of an atom may share with other atoms, to form molecules. Again, I continue to use terms as your world refers to them. And though we may initially disrupt electron shells, subshells, and orbitals, in particular the finely tuned mathematically ratios and quantized integers between these electron placements, we can yet return the electrons to their original realm of placement when miniaturization is complete, generally creating no harm within non-biological matter, even with the presence of free electrons in matter or magnetized matter. Electron orbital direction is not disrupted as well. In addition, we can control both the wave and particle aspects of electrons, and other subatomic particles, allowing further manipulation within the atomic realm. You see, Trenae, there is a large amount of empty space between the average nucleus and the many shells and orbitals of which the electrons occupy.”

“Oh, yes. I remember, in school.” She continued looking down.

“What your scientists are not yet aware is that this space or distance can be manipulated, by controlling the precise subatomic field particle which regulates electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and other forces within the atom. Even when the electron is very close to the nucleus or within the nucleus, this does not present a problem in miniaturization of matter.”

He then paused for a moment.

Trenae swallowed another mouthful and lifted her gaze. Ra’am’s eyes yet stared empty daggers. Disturbing. She looked down, taking another slice of ketoomahgas, which actually did taste quite good, and put it in her mouth, hoping he would just continue talking and not harm her. 

“The energy released by this miniaturization process is then stored in the central energy containment cell on this Memadshakor,” Ra’am continued. “Any harmful radioactive subatomic particles given off during the miniaturization process are rendered neutral by certain atomic proodat t’notah systems. In fact, any form of radiation that comes in contact with a Memadshakor, is rendered harmless. Do you remember the dark circular object in the center of all four rooms?”

She looked at him, chewing politely, and spoke between chews. “Yes, I do. I wanted to ask you, what it was.”

“It is called a ma’argahar, and is the central energy containment cell. Within it lies the central taktselekh as well. The ma’argahar can also produce its own energy through a form of cold fusion, but not at the moment. It is just receiving energy, receiving energy right now, as we sit here. Since we are stationary, the outside of Ha-Ta is keeping the soil in a constant state of miniaturization, a precise miniaturization process that involves a slight oscillation between fully miniaturized and partially miniaturized states, to keep energy levels constant. But if Ha-Ta was to leave this position and travel underground, then the total mass and volume of the soil area we are now occupying would return to its exact pre-miniaturized state.” Ra’am drew his arms back and folded them on the table, near his body. “However, it disturbs me greatly that any living organism or organic matter which abides in the soil, and achieves contact with Ha-Ta during the miniaturization process, will be destroyed. That is why I try to keep Ha-Ta at the deepest underground level possible, and yet have a reasonable length for the delet tekrah’s tunnel.”

“Oh, that’s interesting.”

“Yes. The ma’argahar uses the stored energy for life support systems, and for the various kleeproodah systems to continue self-replication of more proodat t’notah.”


“Yes. Especially needed are those which help eliminate what your scientists call thermal noise, or any disturbance on the atomic and molecular level causing agitation of electrons, thereby interfering with the whole kleeproodah system.”

Mesmerized a little, she looked at him closely. “Wow, this is incredible. Is that how you got here, because of the nanosystems, or kleeproodah rather, and the…the ma’ar--”

“Ma’argahar. Do not worry. I will teach you better pronunciation, before I leave. But yes, all I have said. Additionally, the ma’argahar produces a form of propulsion through space using matter/anti-matter, or particle/anti-particle energy.”

“At the speed of light?”

Surprisingly Ra’am gave an unexpected warm smile. His blue tinted teeth disturbed her, though. “No, light speed is useless. Yes, Ha-Ta can travel close to that speed in vast space, but it causes distortions in time if done over great distances. The Andromeda galaxy is approximately 2.2 million light years away. If that distance were traveled at light speed, we would both not be sitting here right now. I would be long dead and gone.

“No, instead, we travel in a process similar to wormholes, but by using a subatomic particle we call khelh lo neerh. Khelh lo neerh, a particle similar to the graviton, allows travel through other space dimensions without distorting time. Its position and precise mathematical wave moment must be found and accessed, thereby allowing large matter to exist during the same time as subatomic matter, a very esoteric process using a special form of subatomic matter to accommodate a spacecraft in the same realm as subatomic matter. Then, space travel is instantaneous, even interstellar or intergalactic space travel, and far less dangerous than attempting to travel by other means.”

“Some of this sounds familiar,” Trenae said softly, “like I’ve heard it before. But I’m not sure.”  Obviously, this guy knows a LOT. Just keep him busy with questions and maybe everything will be okay.

“Yes. In summation, our technology is the mastery and control of space-time and dimensions, gravity, matter, and the properties of matter.”

“Oh, well, that’s good,” she said. Yeah, sure alien, whatever you say. She picked up another piece of the ketoomahgas and took a bite. After eating many pieces of the odd fruit, her body felt less anxious, for some reason. She looked at him.

“I am sure you must have more questions,” Ra’am said, his voice deep, direct. He stared into her eyes again.

Those dark, penetrating eyes. Could he be scanning my brain with those eyes? Keep him busy. “Uh, yes, I do. Your…your eyes.” She quickly swallowed a chewed mouthful. “Why are they so dark, like dark aqua blue, or something?”

“The same reason my geed’aso is a bluish tint. You see, the mineral/collagen matrix which forms geed’aso tendons have a rather high concentration of what your scientists refer to as a cupredoxin-type protein, simply meaning a copper-containing protein. It is this protein, along with some other metalloproteins, that give ometvah geed’aso a bluish or dark tint. Some portions of geed’aso will even appear clear, depending on the location and amount of the cupredoxin-type protein. We call the cupredoxin-type protein besarnekhet.

“The whites of human eyes,” he continued, “called sclera, are composed of random tightly inter-twined collagen fibers, which produce an opaque or white color, instead of the orderly structure of collagen fibers in the cornea, which appears clear. My sclera is composed of collagen also, but of a similar type as my geed’aso, so ometvah sclera have the same mineral/collagen matrix, with the high concentration of copper and other metalloproteins, giving the dark aqua blue color, as well as far greater strength than human sclera. There is also a different form of the triple helix structure of ometvah collagen, verses the human form. But these are the main reasons for the color, in both geed’aso and sclera.”

“And your teeth as well?”

“Yes, the enamel of my teeth also contains the same collagen, in a different form again, but with the same color producing minerals. I have been fascinated by both the differences and similarities between our two species.”

“So,” she said, reaching for the last piece of ketoomahgas, “so…Oh, do you want this last piece?”

“No, it is for you. I do not really want any now. I was only hoping to encourage you to eat. But, you were saying?”

Taking a small bite, she only chewed on one side of her mouth. “Yes, well, how about your bones then?”

“Ah, my bones, of course. Quite different from human bones. Much stronger. There are several reasons male ometvah are so much stronger, but the main reason is due to the difference in gravity on Harkoav. How much do you weigh?”

Trenae shrugged a little. “Oh, I guess about 115 pounds.”

“On Harkoav, you would weigh 172.5 pounds. The gravity on my planet is 1.5 times greater than earth, with the same earth density. I normally weigh 567.75 pounds on Harkoav, although of course we do not use your weight system on our planet to determine a body’s gravity pull. But here I weigh approximately 378.5 pounds.”

She gave Ra’am a searching gaze, looking up and down his upper body, of what was visible above the table. To her surprise, he seemed a little unnerved by her behavior, although all she really wanted to do was take a good gander at his large frame. His eyes darted away, toward the doorway, blinking quickly, behavior she had not seen prior. “Wow, you really are big,” she said gently. “How tall are you?”

“1.023 omom, in our measurements, or 7 feet, 2 inches, in U.S. measurements.” Ra’am looked back at her, with intensity. His apparent momentary jitteriness was a false facade. Or was it? His dark eyes stared mercilessly. “Actually, males of my species can be even taller, some 71/2 feet tall. But all is relative. On Harkoav, tall is normal, at least for males and our almehneht. Our females are much smaller, approximately 5 1/2 feet tall, like your height.”

“Oh, I see,” she said.

“The reason our males can grow so tall with the greater gravity, is due to our bone structure and tendon, cartilage, and ligament design. Whereas human bones are composed of approximately 65% calcium phosphate salts and approximately 35% protein collagen matrix, ometvah bones have more of a 50/50 combination of these two. Now this could seem to imply that our bones are weaker, but it is the opposite. Instead of only collagen, the protein matrix we have is a combination of keratin, a protein found in hair, wool, nails, horns and hoofs in earth’s biosphere, and collagen, with the addition of other metalloproteins, to form an incredibly tough and strong bone, along with bone minerals like calcium and phosphorous, capable of easily supporting the greater gravity on Harkoav, yet capable also of withstanding hard falls. This particular keratin/collagen mixture we call besarheven, differing from besarnekhet.

“In combination with geed’aso…the geed’aso tendons which are visible just under my skin are only the main anchors of smaller and thinner striated- and mesh-like geed’aso, forming a highly tightened protection layer. An ometvah’s geed’aso functions in many ways as an exoskeleton, similar to earth’s insects and other species with exoskeletons, even protecting our circulatory system, which traverses the geed’aso.”

Trenae felt curious. “You mean…the blue lines which I see, or can…feel, in your skin…there’s more attached to them? I can’t see--”

“No, you would not see all them, although they can be felt. Much as only larger veins can be seen on humans, instead of smaller veins, capillaries.”

“Yes,” she said softly, “I did feel them, I think, when I…when I felt your hand, and…”

“Not only do some geed’aso tendons attach to our skin, even protruding into layers of our skin, but geed’aso actually covers all the muscles in both striated- and mesh- like fashion, attaching to our bone for further support. But what I have been trying to explain, is that the combination of besarheven and geed’aso supports and protects our bodies well, from both our planet’s gravity and from accidental falls.”

She glanced over his face. “That’s really…really interesting.” She spoke half-meaning her words. Weariness started to expand within Trenae, from his detailed, scientific definitions and descriptions. Though he seemed to mean well and obviously wasn’t hesitant about sharing his knowledge, it became far more than she could handle at the moment.

“Ra’am?” she said quietly.

“Yes, Trenae? I am over loading you with information, am I not?”

Darn, he does seem to have good discerning abilities.  Or maybe he really does read minds, like in all those movies or shows about alien encounters. “Yes, you are,” she said softly, sweetly. “It is great stuff you’re telling me, but I…I’m rather tired.”  She glanced up at his eyes, but then looked down at her hands on the table and the empty plate.

“Say no more. I understand. As a scientist, I am always seeking truth. And sometimes, there is no simple way to explain such truth. Yet right now, I am hungry and you must still be hungry too. I am glad you ate all the ketoomahgas.”

She looked at his face. Ra’am darted a glance at the plate, then at her, and finally stood up, walking away from the table a little. He eyed L.B. The dog was licking his bowl clean. “And I see you are still hungry too.” L.B. raised his head and wagged his tail, panting. Like earlier, Ra’am smiled at him. “All right, I am sure there is more.” Ra’am turned and faced the counter.

If he would just smile more, I could relax better around him. Maybe it would make him more approachable. Or, maybe not. This whole experience was speeding by way too fast for her weary body.

Leaning back against the seat, Trenae began to look around, at L.B., at the ceiling, walls, floor. And then at Ra’am, far, far up at Ra’am. Besides being awed by his tall stature again, she also took note of his peculiar hair. Black, thick ropes, with blunt-cut ends. A thin, silvery instrument held his hair back, as a ponytail. Good, something else to ask him.

Her eyes became redirected, as the silver hair instrument reflected the light. She looked up. Light shone from the ceiling, even though no actual, detectable source of light could be observed. The ceiling simply shone brighter than the walls and floor, like the greenhouse room.

She looked back at Ra’am’s large frame. And why would he wear a black tee shirt, jeans- definitely clothes of a human being? Another good question. The shirt tucked loosely into the jeans, giving a good view of his body. Hanging threateningly off his broad, square shoulders, the black shirt revealed shoulders quite a bit wider than his hips, emphasizing to a great degree his obvious masculinity. She scrutinized carefully, observing what resembled shoulder blades under the upper part of his shirt, though the shoulder blade’s shape appeared different- larger, wider, and more defined than a human male’s. His buttocks and thighs appeared similar to a human male, yet his thighs seemed wider, thicker, though it was hard to know for certain from under his jeans. But overall, his legs appeared as though designed to withstand tremendous weight and pressure. Yes, his shape was human-like, but in a form of frightening exaggeration, though not without balance or proportion.

His back made him look even more powerful and formidable than his front.

A terrible thought quickly surfaced. Ra’am could see me gawking at him! Trying to appear nonchalant, she moved her gaze away, searching for something else to view. Her eyes focused down, toward the table. Strangely, Trenae thought for sure movement occurred on the table, from the table’s material itself. She lowered her head, little by little, until the table was only six or so inches from her eyes. There! Right at that spot. I saw movement!  The movement came as the snail’s pace motion of the minute hand on a watch face. It happened, but so sneakily. She stared and waited again.

Instead an empty white plate took the view. She lifted her head. Ra’am had sat down again. A white plate of food rested in the table’s center, between them. And he had placed an empty white plate in front of himself. “Did you see motion?” he asked. “Sometimes, it is possible.”

“Yes…I thought, I was seeing things. Can you really?”

“Yes, if you have good eyes. You must understand, like I told you previously, Ha-Ta is extremely complicated, on the atomic and molecular level, in ways that sometimes I am not fully aware, since I am not an engineer of Memadshakoreem.  However, I am completely capable of initiating any repair sequences. Yet…” He looked at L.B. “You see my dog, that wonderful and lovable Golden Retriever?”

She too looked at L.B., a dog busy eating again. Ra’am must have delivered more food to him while she had studied the table. She then stared back at the powerful alien. “Yes, I see him.”

“He sees, hears, breathes, feels. He eats, he sleeps, he barks, moves, wags his tail.” Ra’am used his hands for descriptive purposes, much as a human would. “And he can show affection and emotion. And of course, he urinates and defecates. Not a high number of actual possibilities. Nor is the number high for all the organs within L.B., which accomplish these physical movements and biological functions.” He stared fixedly at her. “And the same is similar for Ha-Ta, which can move through matter, whether a planet’s interior, exterior, or hydrosphere. And can travel through the universe. It uses miniaturization, matter/anti-matter, and khelh lo neerh particle path travel. It uses the ma’argahar for energy, in the form of stored energy from matter miniaturization or cold fusion energy. As I explained earlier, the energy is used for life support systems, artificial gravity in outer space, atomic computerization and the major functions of the kleeproodah. A Memadshakor can change its shape to accommodate its specific form of travel, and can be miniaturized. Do you see, do you follow…a small number of macro-possibilities?”

“Yes, I do, I think,” she answered cautiously.

“I believe you understand,” Ra’am said, forming an assured expression, similar to a human. “However, on the micro or molecular level, L.B. has millions, billions of intricate functions and parts, such as the many components of the cell- what your scientists call DNA, RNA, or the many globular proteins and their specific enzyme and non-enzyme functions. Or the many intricate steps involved with the blood’s coagulation cascade, which prevents L.B. from bleeding to death if wounded, or the many molecular, chemical steps involved in the immune system response to antigens and pathogens. There are thousands and thousands of complicated biochemical and molecular steps involved in so many of the processes, which produce just an apparently simple function. Like the incredible complicated steps of vision, for example. It takes great intelligence and years of study to master and learn all these complicated biological steps.

 “And such is the same for a Memadshakor, on a micro level, which has trillions of functions and parts, on the molecular and atomic scale, and thousands of layers and sections of proodat t’notah systems. Yet, they work together on Ha-Ta, in unison, like L.B.’s body, to perform even the most simplest and basic of maneuvers. Do you understand my point, Trenae?”

Actually, she did. But her explanation would use far less complicated words. “Yes.” She smiled a little. “You mean, that on the large scale, we function simply. But on the microscopic scale, we are very complicated. Am I right?”

Ra’am sat himself upright, resting his hands together on the table. He looked down at her, his countenance milder, even pleased, a slight smile molding his face. “Yes, well done, Trenae.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly. She looked down. Though feeling proud of his compliment, her vacillating trust denied its worth. Why, oh why, is he helping me? He never gave an answer to that question. And I can’t ask it again, for fear of the truth. Instead, she looked at the plate of food, tried to stay relaxed, and searched for questions. She found one. “What kinds of food are these?

“These brown items are from your world,” Ra’am said, pointing to the food. “They are almonds I grew here in one of the greenhouses.”

“Oh, yeah, you’re right. Sorry.” Stupid me. She lifted her head, to see his reaction.

“No, do not be sorry. You do not know what to expect.” He continued to point at the various food items.  “And these are more ketoomahgas, and here are some small carrot hybrids I produced in one of my greenhouses. These green items are called yarakmak, a vegetable from Harkoav that grows similar to celery, yet with different flavor and consistency. Dod tells me it is a cross between celery, carrot, and apple, but much juicier than celery, more like watermelon and apple in consistency. Here, try one.” He picked up a piece of the yarakmak, a vegetable resembling a stick-shaped slice of cucumber. It had green, juicy flesh and small seeds, and a darker green skin on one side. Slowly he brought it over and above her plate, waiting for her to take it.

Yet Trenae hesitated. The strange blue and tan tint of his skin, the dark blue color of his geed’aso lines! No!  Even more troublesome, were the strangeness of his black nails. She looked up at him. 

He gave a sly grin. “You are afraid, I may contaminate you. But I prepared the ketoomahgas you ate already. I assure you, I am clean.”

Ah ha! He CAN’T read my mind. It’s the nails and your weird blueness, dude!

Nevertheless she took the vegetable. Again, she couldn’t argue with him. Taking a bite, another question entered her thoughts. “Are your nails that color, because of that collagen- keratin protein in your body?”

“Yes, you mean besarheven. Our nails are many times stronger than human nails. You may feel my nails, if you wish.” Ra’am placed his left hand next to the right side of her plate.

Trenae placed the yarakmak piece down on her plate. She looked up at his eyes. His eyes challenged, pressured her, against her better judgment. Once more, she had to comply.

She sleeked her right hand forward and placed her small, still trembling fingertips on two of his dark nails. She began to feel them gently. They felt hard and smooth, like the deer antler from her father’s hunting days, yet also bumpy, from the arrow-shaped ridges flowing to the flat tip of each nail. She felt up and down over the five or six ridges on each nail, feeling the bumps, the texture. That is, until she caught herself lingering too long. A wave of heated redness suddenly tinged her face. But the warmth from his fingers felt so magnetic, warming her own cold fingertips, preventing her from stopping directly.

She lifted her gaze, to see his face. Oh, no. His eyes, his eyes were opened only slightly, as though feeling something very pleasurable. A debilitating, jolting shock rippled through her body, her mind quickly realizing she was in more danger than she thought. And she was alone with him. Sure, L.B. lived here too, but what could he do? Trying not to show her shock, Trenae forced herself to remain calm. She gently removed her hands and placed them under the table.

Another question thankfully arose in her terrified mind.

“You only eat…vegetables. No animals or meat?” Her will clamped itself in place; her voice came unwavering, calm. She looked up at him, and then down at the plate; she was surprised. Ra’am didn’t seem disturbed by her recognition of his momentary weakness, a worse sign than observing his eyes sensing pleasure.

Of course, he’s an alien. It could mean anything! But somehow, her first gut impulse felt more accurate. 

Ra’am removed both his arms and placed them beneath the table too. Good, keep your distance.

“Yes, we are primarily vegetable eaters, vegetarians,” he said, his voice calmer and less direct.

His eyes stared through her, yet in a more caring and compassionate manner. Could she produce this milder behavior, just from touching his hand? Maybe he was simply happy someone was here. He did mention loneliness.

“But,” he said, “do you notice something else these foods have in common?”

She studied the almonds, ketoomahgas, carrots, and yarakmak. All had different colors. And all were plant foods. “I don’t know. What is it?”

Ra’am folded his arms across his lower chest, his koaksekhel not seeming to interfere. His piercing stare returned. “Oh, come on, Trenae. Look again.”

Okay, I’ll look again. “Umm, well…” All the food items glistened with moisture or natural dryness, appearing crispy fresh. “Everything is raw, not cooked?” She looked up.

He gave her a brief smile. “Yes, that is right. On Harkoav, we do not cook our food. All food is eaten raw, in its natural state, as it was intended. This keeps our people very healthy, and strong.”

“But…but do you eat meat like that too?”

Unfolding his arms, Ra’am began serving some of the vegetable items, placing them on both his plate and her plate. “We seldom eat animal flesh, but when we do, yes, we eat it raw. However, many of the animals on our planet are more similar to large insects, with flesh similar in consistency to fish and other sea life here on earth.”

“Big insects? Gosh, that’s scary.”

“We are careful, yet used to them. It is normal for us.” He finished doling out the food items. “Please, go ahead. Try some. If you do not like everything, or do not find it filling, let me know. I have a box of saltine crackers and a jar of peanut butter.”

“From Dod?”

“Yes, that is correct.” 

Once more, Trenae did as asked and proceeded to eat an almond. Then she sampled some more yarakmak, which also did not taste too bad, and then some carrots and more ketoomahgas. She glanced at the alien now and again. Ra’am sat quietly, chewing his food. He ate his food politely, like a human, chewing with a closed mouth and avoiding enormous bites or mouthfuls. Either his planet had similar manners, or his friend Dod had taught him well. But she had no desire to question that now. Rather, she tried enjoying the calm solitude between them and continued eating the raw food.

L.B. poked his head from under the table, rudely interrupting her solitude. “L.B., what is it?” she asked. He began licking her hand.

“He obviously likes you,” Ra’am said. “And as you know…an animal will not lie.”

What? That’s eerie. Trenae felt undone within. But she skillfully avoided flinching or showing the slightest emotion. All the years of practice, hiding emotions from Mom and Darin, came in handy, sometimes, when needed. She just continued to pet L.B. and smile.

Ra’am leaned forward a little. She could see his motion from her eye’s corner. “Trenae, I must ask you. You seem like a nice woman. Why were you with men like Stiles and his associates?”

She looked at him and began to mouth her answer, but couldn’t complete it. L.B. nudged up against her legs and arms again with his muzzle.

“L.B.,” Ra’am said, his tone calm. But the dog wouldn’t listen. L.B. continued to nudge her. “L.B.! L.B., come here now!” Ra’am’s voice imparted firmer, though not mean-spirited, yet a little louder than usual. Nevertheless, she noticed his voice sounded even more commanding and frightening with its volume raised.

But it worked. L.B. obeyed and backed away from her. Wagging his tail profusely, he hopped over to Ra’am. Ra’am gently petted his dog’s head. “Sit, L.B., sit!” L.B. obeyed and sat down. The friendly dog presented his paw. “You are a silly dog. I do not want your paw now. Lay down, L.B., and stay!” After a few low whimpers and friendly growls, L.B. finally managed to slump to the floor.

Trenae felt impressed. “You have him trained pretty well.”

Ra’am spun his head in her direction, far too fast. She blinked her eyes. She instantly recalled how he had zoomed toward her, like a lightning streak, after he had dropped the tree.

“I apologize,” he said. “Sometimes I forget, I must move slower around humans. You are not accustomed to an ometvah’s speed. I will try not to do that again, unless you ask me to.”

“No, that’s okay.” She tried to sound calm. “You just surprised me a bit, that’s all.” His concern was nice, but his quick motion nonetheless reminded her of his pronounced physical superiority to humans.

Ra’am placed his hands under the table again and sat upright. He stared at her. “But my question. Can you give me an answer?”

“About Stiles?” she asked.


She looked down and folded her arms on the table, just below her plate. “Well, I was working at a night club.” Don’t mention the stripper part! “And one night, well, this guy named Clark Willson told my friend, that he wanted to meet me.”

“The man running for Governor of Idaho?”

 She looked up. “How did you know?”

“I have access to all your world’s computers, via the Internet or other means. And of course, there is always your planet’s television communications…and Dod.”

“Yes, you’re right.” She made a quick smile and looked down again. “But anyway, Willson told me he had a better job offer for me, working for him. And I kind of thought that he liked me too. But basically, the bottom line was, I got tricked. I moved there, in one of his apartments, and they did have me do some office work, computer work, phones. But then things changed, got really bad. And then finally, that night, last night, when you saved me from the cliff, they knew I had overheard a very bad thing, that Stiles and the others had done. I knew they would have to kill me and so I tried to get away. But…but I knew it was useless. That’s why I took that car and came here. I was, I was, well…”

“You were going to jump?”

Trenae lifted her head. Ra’am’s eyes discerned fervently now, his keen perception and intelligence drawing her into his mind. She felt like crying. But she just took a deep breath- I have to act tougher. “Yes, I just didn’t know what else to do. I changed my mind, though. I started to walk away.” She couldn’t lie “But I slipped. And then the next thing I knew, you caught me.” Her eyes released kindness, and pleaded mercy. “I am very grateful. Thank you, again.”

“I had no choice. I would have rather prevented the fall altogether, but knew you would be too afraid of me, just as you are now, if I arrived sooner. I could have startled you and caused you to slip. But as it turned out, you fell anyway.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“And I would have caught you sooner, as you fell, but had to wait for just the right moment, so that you would not sustain further injuries, from the position of my capture.”

“Really?” She glanced at him a second. “But thank you, anyway. I appreciate it.” She lifted more food off her plate, looking down, away from his piercing eyes.

“Why did you not seek help from the police, or your family?”

“My family, Ra’am, does not want me,” she said, munching a carrot. “And the police around here, well, some are involved with the mafia or organized crime that Willson knows. I thought about going to them, today, but I realized, that Stiles would find me anyway. And I thought about police in other states, but I didn’t have the money to travel that far. And even if my family wanted to help me, there's nothing they could do against those people. I would just get everyone killed.”

She saw Ra’am pick up his empty plate and place it to his far right side of the table. After that, he folded his arms on the table, parallel to his chest. She looked up. He slid his massive, folded arms forward, the koaksekhel shimmering, positioning himself lower and closer to her again. “What exactly did you do in the night club?” he asked.

Odd, dark geed’aso lines, in blatant triangular, oblong, or circular brush strokes. Strange thick hair strands. And creepy, nearly completely black, stabbing orbs. All his scary features forced their way into Trenae’s eyes. Lightheadedness seized her again. She slowly pressed her back against the seat, sitting up tall and straight, holding that position with her hands. “Trust me, you don’t want to know,” she said quietly. “You don’t need to know.”

But Ra’am sat up straighter himself, leaning over even closer to her. Though handsome, his beauty couldn’t distract from his frightening alien features. She felt her heart skip a beat, and a chill run up her spine, leaving her even more lightheaded than seconds ago. “I will not judge you,” Ra’am said. “I just need to know what I am getting involved with here, since I intend to protect you from these men, at least until I leave earth in a few months.”

Tears welled in her tired eyes again. She truly just needed to curl up in a ball somewhere and fall asleep. Then, maybe, all of this would end. But for now, she blinked her eyes several times and tried to control her tears. “Please, please, I’d rather not say. It brings back bad memories for me.”

Ra’am stared quietly and directly for a moment. “That is all right. You can tell me when you feel better, and trust me more.” He removed his arms from the table and sat back against his seat. “Would you like some of the crackers and peanut butter now?”

She blinked her eyes and smiled briefly. “Yes, that would be okay.”

The tall, powerful being stood up, removed the three plates from the table, and walked by the countertop. She waited for his back to turn. With trembling fingers, she wiped her eyes and nose with the napkin he had given her earlier. So what if he sees. At least he didn’t make me tell about Fontel’s.

Once finished with wiping her face, Trenae looked down on the floor and noticed L.B. curled up in a ball, sleeping. She wished that could be her right now, if only in a normal and cozy place, a safe place. Yet reality was unforgiving. No safe place existed for her now.

Ra’am stepped back, this time with a package of saltine crackers and a plastic jar of a supermarket brand peanut butter. He placed them in front of her, along with a small plastic knife and a small white plastic plate. “One more thing,” he said, turning and stepping to the countertop again. Then he arrived back with a white pitcher and another white plastic tumbler. He placed the tumbler near his seat and the pitcher near the table’s center.

“If you need more water, since Dod always tells me peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth, there you have it.” He sat down.

“Yes, that’s true,” she said, smiling. “Thank you. Did you ever try any?”

“Peanut butter? No, I never eat any food that is cooked. It is just our way on Harkoav, a long tradition.”

“Oh.” She opened the peanut butter and began to spread some of the smooth substance on a few crackers.

Ra’am poured water in his cup. “Are you warmer now?”

“Yes, thank you. I am.” Did he raise the temperature?  She really did feel warmer.

“Is there anything else you need?” he asked.

Trenae knew exactly what she needed. Sleep. She took a small bite of her peanut butter-cracker sandwich. “Yes, actually,” she said, between chewing, “I am very tired. You said…you said I could have a room?”

“Yes, absolutely. As soon as you are finished, we will acquire blankets and pillows. Is there anything else I can help you with, any questions?”

Hands yet slightly tremulous, she gracefully maneuvered the knife and crackers, trying to disguise her continuing discomfort. “Yes, there is one question.” She glanced up at him, but then looked down. “When I asked you about your height, you mentioned something about an almeh...something.”

“Almehneh,” he answered rapidly. “Yes. We do not have only two sexes or genders. We have a third.”

“A third?” She glanced at him quickly.

“Of every child born to a female, approximately 40%-47% is born as almehneh, 35%-40% ometvah or male, and only 13%-25% ometvehar.  Ometvehar, or ometvreheem in plural, is what we call our females. Of course, these are averages. Generally, in other words, nearly half of all births are almehneh. Almehneht is plural for almehneh. Or, put more simply, of every 1 female birth, approximately 1.5- 3 male births and 2- 3.8 almehneh births occur. The average is 1 female to 1.75 males, 2.25 almehneht. Almehneht are asexual, cannot reproduce. They have no hair on their heads.”

“They’re bald?”

“Yes, they are bald. They have features which appear both male and female, yet no sexual organs. However, they have two excretory passages, one urinary, one fecal.”

After eating the entire peanut butter cracker sandwich, Trenae felt more energetic. She crossed her arms and laid them on the table, looking up intently at Ra’am. This new information sounded fascinating. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this. Really?”

“Yes. Our almehneht possess some geed’aso in their bodies, of a type with less metalloproteins and copper, more of a light blue, clear, and silver color.  Almehneht grow to approximately 6-61/2 feet tall. They are stronger than ometvreheem, but not as strong and physically capable as an ometvaheem. Almehneht are essentially non-violent and make excellent religious leaders, diplomats and peacemakers, scientists, mathematicians, as well as artists and government leaders. There minds and souls are not hampered needlessly by the stress of reproduction, family life, and sexuality, and all its negative attributes. Therefore, they are highly intelligent. They are the true brains of our species. Their concentration abilities are excellent.”

“That’s really amazing. So…your females are smaller, but fewer. Then how does that work out for reproduction?” she asked gently.

“That is a very good question. Unfortunately, many males do not ever marry. Our governing powers on Harkoav encourage every married couple to have at least one female child. Sometimes that is only two children, with one lucky female born out of the two. Sometimes, it is six, like from my family. I have one sister, the rest are almehneht and ometvaheem. Ometvaheem is plural for ometvah.

“From a very early age, plans are put in place to have the female eventually married. Only the preeminent ometvaheem are ever considered for marriage to these females. These ometvaheem must be healthy, physically strong, intelligent, have a nearly perfect reputation and career path, with no evidence of past or present criminal behavior. These attributes are so important not only for the female’s safety, but to assure the high quality of the gene pool in reproduction. This method has worked wonderfully on our planet, producing low crime and population rates, and a highly productive and intelligent work force.”

A questioning, skeptical thought hit her. “Yeah, but what happens to the males who don’t marry?”

“Those who do not marry, must avoid females. You see, on my planet, females must be kept separate from males, except the males they are married to. Ometvreheem are allowed outside their homes, in very specific areas where females usually work, such as teaching institutions for females where the teachers are females or almehneht, health care facilities where the doctors and other health attendants are female or almehneht, and other social or work related fields where there are no males, just female and almehneht. Males are left to work and interact in institutions and facilities where there are only males and almehneht, such as military bases.”

“But why?”

“I am almost done.” Ra’am paused, a brief smile lighting his face. “Our males are blessed in that they can only reproduce, or allow conception to occur, one time during the Harkoav year. And as long as unmarried males are kept separated from females the rest of the year, their interest to reproduce is removed. In fact, they become more like an almehneh than a male, generally happy and content to go about their daily life’s routine with never a concern for the opposite sex. However, if males are allowed to observe females on a regular basis, well, then…this whole process…is disturbed.”

Why did he slow his last words?

Like a tidal wave crashing at leisure, Trenae gradually knew why. Even so, she had to behave calmly, coolly, methodically- ask the right questions. “What about you? Were you chosen?”

“Normally three to six ometvaheem are chosen for any one lottery for a female. All have the necessary attributes I described earlier. Therefore, their attributes are similar in quality and quantity. So, a number is drawn, and the winner receives the female. However, sometimes the female may decide.”

“But, were you chosen?” she asked quietly.

Ra’am lowered his gaze slightly, looking toward the floor. “Yes, I was one of five chosen, to marry. But, I declined. A male has that option.”

“Declined?” Her tone was soft. “Whatever for?”

“There was a war at the time.” He looked directly in her eyes, though a certain dimness marred his gaze. “One of the alien races we had befriended in Kadoorey Baheer, the Andromeda galaxy, developed a conflict with Harkoav, over a mineral mine on one of our planets. I already had some military training, and so I chose to help my world overcome this new enemy and forfeit my marriage arrangement. It was for the best, because I rose quickly in our military ranks, and was soon able to lead a thousand soldiers, who were mostly males, few almehneht, as is typical of our armies. We had many victories. Because of my soldiers and these victories, Harkoav won the war. I was decorated as a hero for my world, similar to what your country does, and allowed special privileges. The special privilege I chose was to serve Harkoav as a pioneer scientist, primarily as an astro-biologist, to study planetary biospheres and geospheres. And so, here I am.”

“But the female you were supposed to marry…”

“She was beautiful, there is no doubt.” Ra’am looked down. “But, her personality…she was too proud, arrogant.” He then stared into Trenae’s eyes. “She did not seem gentle or caring, not someone who would make a good mother or wife. Unfortunately, females are not generally screened as well as the males they marry, since they are so few.

“But typically, ometvreheem are of a very feminine nature, different in personality from ometvaheem. They are much weaker physically, and softer, smaller, more capable of handling newborn children. And they have long, soft hair, with numerous hair strands, similar to yours, yet differing in color, usually dark colored.”

Ra’am gazed steadily and searchingly, up and down, all around, at Trenae’s long, wavy hair. She shuddered a little, though tried to keep it secret. Judging from his expression, she knew he was aware this made her uncomfortable. But, he didn’t seem to care.

Think quick. “So, umm, can you try again, with the lottery, to marry?”

Ra’am gazed into her eyes again. “Yes, I may, as long as I maintain the same integrity in all qualifications. However, it is harder as time goes by, because each new year, there are younger males available. Younger males are considered far more valuable. The qualifying counsels who choose the males, must acquire the most virile and youngest available. Females and males are married young, to take into account the unlikely possibility of conceiving a female. Time span is limited.”

A very uncomfortable realization bled into Trenae’s mind. It seemed inevitable, that at some point, she would have to fight off Ra’am’s sexual advances. She just felt it coming. So, what did he normally expect from Harkoav females? If he expected a female stronger and more durable than her, then she was in trouble. He would probably be too rough and maybe kill her. But if Harkoav females had a physique similar to hers, she at least stood a fighting chance of surviving. Maybe.

“Can I ask you something else?”

“Yes, by all means, go ahead.”

“Are the females on Harkoav, physically stronger than me, or about the same?” No, wait. Don’t answer. Shoot, he might take this the wrong way. But it was too late.

Ra’am leaned forward. She froze. Backing away now would be far too obvious. “They are stronger than you, but not by very much,” he said. “Possibly only three or four times stronger, which come to think of it, actually is rather strong…compared to you.”

Trenae swallowed, in secret, yet kept her ground. As Ra’am stared into her eyes with his black eyes, she stared back. Her heart began beating harder, faster. She felt dizzy again. And she HAD eaten. “There’s…there is…”

“Yes?” Ra’am slowly gazed below her neck and then back into her eyes.

A strange, stabbing pain shot through her lower abdomen. It added even more discomfort to her racing heart and dizziness, making her weak and breathless too. She swallowed again. She looked into his eyes. “There’s something I need to know. If…if you’re not supposed to be around females, then…what about me?”

Ra’am slid his left hand across the table, his behavior seeming deliberate, and slowly took hold of the fingers on her right hand, one at a time. Her weary eyes widened a little, glancing from the alien’s face down to his hand. Soon his entire, large grasp embraced around her small, frail hand. Ra’am’s hand felt so warm. His blood surely did not circulate cold. He began slinking his hand toward her wrist and lower forearm, until she could no longer see her hand anymore. Only his hand remained; her hand was gone! But she could feel her hand, beneath the warmth and strength of his palm.

He showed not the slightest unease, judging from his body language. He began to wrap his fingers around her lower forearm, over her jacket sleeve. No, please, don’t do this. She looked in his face. Her body trembled again. He looked down at her arm, but then gazed into her eyes. If his emotions truly resembled a human’s feelings, then she was in trouble; Ra’am’s eyes burned with intensity, passion, and something else, something she couldn’t determine precisely. Whatever his intention, she suddenly didn’t feel as afraid anymore, only very weak and small. Her trembling subsided a little.

Ra’am held her lower forearm for a moment. Then he began to slide his hand down, then over her wrist, her jacket’s leather fabric crumpling a little with his hand’s motion. Soon he simply grasped her hand gently, firmly, yet gazing into her frightened eyes. “You are so afraid of me. But no, you do not need to worry. You are a human, I am an ometvah. We are two different species.”

“Oh…okay,” she whispered breathlessly.

She waited for him to let go of her hand, but he did not. Instead he began to increase the pressure around her hand, squeezing it gently, and then softly releasing the pressure, gliding his fingertips across the top and palm of her hand

“Your hands are so small and soft.” His voice came ardent, low, nearly inaudible.

Trenae could feel her heart racing within her chest. Dizzier, more lightheaded. She could no longer look at Ra’am or her hand. Where is all this going? Her will to fight was dissolving. Maybe begging’s an option now. She closed her eyes and lowered her head a little bit. “Ra’am,” she nearly whispered, “I don’t feel very well. My heart is beating so fast and I feel faint.” She drew in a quick breath, to calm herself. “I’m having trouble breathing too. Can you tell me…what’s wrong with me?”

             Her eyes yet closed, she felt Ra’am take hold of her other hand too. No! Still, she couldn’t look at him.

“Trenae, open your eyes.” She had to obey. She looked at him. Her body shook lightly. Expecting to see the same intense, passionate expression on Ra’am’s face, he instead now appeared concerned. “We need to get blankets, some pillows, some clothes. And you probably need to use the bathroom, maybe take a shower. Come, I will help you stand up.”

Ra’am maneuvered his tall legs from under the table, still holding on to her hands, and then slowly stood up, helping her to rise at the same time. She wanted to look up at him, but couldn’t. Her vision blurred again, staring at the floor. Because of this, she decided to let Ra’am guide her. There really wasn’t another option. Already she was wobbling on her legs, nearly falling, trying to stand and walk.

“You are right. You do need help.” Ra’am let go of her left hand and wrapped his right arm, the arm with the koaksekhel, around her right shoulder and upper arm. He gently pressed her body against his right side. She could barely keep her eyes open now. Why was he doing this? “Trenae, put your arm around my waist. It will give you support.”

She hiked her head up quickly, looking at him, causing her balance to spin even more. “Why, why don’t you just carry me?” No, no! Why did I say that?  He’s taking me to that room, with the bed in it! What have I done? She slowly gazed toward the floor, leaning against him. He in turn held her closer.

“No, I want you to try walking,” Ra’am said firmly. “I need to see if you can support yourself.” Phew! He wants me to walk. “Hold on tight, and I will lead us, being very certain not to walk on your feet. Some slippers are here, that Dod mistakenly packed with other items.”

She obeyed his words, lifting her trembling left arm and placing it around his lower back.

He began to lead them from the room. Right away, she noticed not only the great breadth and size of Ra’am’s lower back, but felt the thick, wiry muscles of his back. She swore his back had steel fibers supporting it. Was he a cyborg, an android, and lied? With each forward motion of his leg, she could feel his hard tendon-covered muscles press against her arm.

Even more disturbing, the top of her head only reached to about his underarm, while her left shoulder’s height measured only near his waist. His size was alarming. 

They continued out of the eyzkher mazon and down the wide curved corridor, toward and past the cylinder doorways, traveling onward to the opposite, or right side of the spacecraft. She looked down, observing Ra’am’s feet. He was wearing common tan work boots, apparently from earth. His shoe size looked enormous. But even with his great weight and tremendous height, his large booted-feet maneuvered carefully around her pantyhose-covered toes. The tall, powerful being didn’t talk while they stepped together, making Trenae feel more nervous and fearful. The constant fluctuation of emotions, between feeling comfort with this strange being, and then next feeling incredible terror of him weakened her cruelly. Breathe in slowly, she told herself, breathe out slowly.

And keep focused and alert, even though he’s so close!

Their walk continuing, Ra’am’s powerful arm snuggly, yet gently, embraced her against him. She struggled with this, simultaneously using her arm around his back to push away from him. Yet it soon became a losing battle. After some exhausting minutes, Trenae merely allowed her body to sink peacefully against him; it wasn’t so bad. Her mind sought reassurance in the fact he obviously didn’t want to hurt her. Scents from both the clean odor of his shirt and the lingering coppery fragrance of his skin entered her senses, from his body so close. Somehow, their fragrances relaxed and intoxicated. She breathed them in deeply with every inhaled breath and slowly felt calmer. Even so, she yet continuously sought to flee from him, if only in her mind. The walk to the room, traveling around the long circular corridor, took forever.

Once they made it to the room’s entrance, Ra’am removed his right arm from around her shoulder and stepped in front of her. She released her arm too. L.B. bounded into the room with them.

“Can you stand up on your own now?” Ra’am asked.

Her legs felt less wobbly, more stable and secure. She looked up, way up, at his face, and spoke slowly, “I think so.”

“Well, nonetheless, I want you to sit down on the bed, behind you.”

Trenae turned to look, but again suddenly lost her balance. Ra’am lunged, cupping her shoulders and supporting her. Like earlier.

In gradual steps, Ra’am walked her over to the bed, a bed protruding from the wall opposite the doorway, and gently lowered her to its soft surface. He sat down next to her, on her right, about a foot away. She began touching the bed with her hands, ignoring him. She looked at the bed’s surface. Just like the rest of Ha-Ta, it harbored the same color as the walls, floors, and ceilings. However, its texture felt different, softer, and similar to the evesmol.

She heard and felt Ra’am move. He surprised her. He suddenly knelt before her, placing his hands on his knees. “I will be right back. Stay seated, and I will get you what you need. All right?”

Taut, tan skin, over hundreds of dark blue geed’aso lines traversing his cheekbones, forehead, nose, and chin, especially his neck and arms, would not stop shocking. “Yes, okay,” she said, her words weak and quiet. 

Ra’am stood up and left the room. L.B. followed.

Feeling both disturbed and a little curious, Trenae began looking around the small room. It was empty, and had a curved-triangular shape. All it contained was the bed she sat upon and two orange-colored lighted wall buttons. One button was near the doorway, while the other button was above the bed, on the wall. Are they some sort of light switch controls? To her left, she noticed that the room’s corner had a rounded forward bulge from ceiling to floor. Probably from the ma’argahar, she concluded. The corners, where both the walls met the ceiling and the walls met the floor, were bordered by six 2- or 3- inch layers, with three on the wall and three on the floor or ceiling, similar to the layers in the curved corridor around the central rooms.

She looked at the floor. It appeared solid, except contained various, assorted patterns of different geometric solid shapes that protruded a little. Triangles, squares, stars, six-sided stars and other odd, symmetrical shapes.  Funny, she thought, I hadn’t noticed them while walking here. She looked out the doorway and observed them too on the corridor’s floor. They were the same light silvery green as everything else on Ha-Ta. But then, she remembered feeling something while walking, like soft, miniature sand dunes sinking, crushing beneath her feet. Obviously it was those geometric shapes. What are they?                

L.B. bounded back into the room again. Not hesitating, he galloped right up to Trenae and licked her hands. Then, he sat down on the floor and presented a paw.

“L.B., lay down.”  She looked up, by the doorway. Ra’am had returned.

Instead of listening, the silly dog turned and jumped up several times around Ra’am’s tall legs. In his arms, Ra’am carried three neatly folded blankets and two pillows, along with several clothing items. He carefully maneuvered around L.B. and approached the bed, laying the items down, next to Trenae’s left side.

Finally, after some time, L.B. listened and plopped down near the doorway.

Trenae watched, as Ra’am began to pick up the clothing items and hand them to her. In her hands he placed a light yellow jogging suit. On the suit’s long sleeve top was a cute picture of cartoon characters playing softball. The material of the jogging suit felt thin and cottony, her fingertips pressing several layers together.

 “Dod gave me some extra large shirts and other clothes one time, but accidentally included some of his wife’s clothing along with the bundle.” Ra’am handed her a pair of soft pink slippers. The slippers were plush, but not ridiculously so, and had white rubber traction soles and soft, elastic bands for the ankle area. “These slippers were mistakenly placed with the other clothes.”

Soon he finished laying the clothes and slippers in her arms.

Trenae placed the entire bundle to her right, close to the edge of the bed. She turned to her left and gingerly began looking through the pillows and blankets, separating each one. One pillow had pine green coloring, another deep blue. Neither had pillowcases. They seemed to be just large, soft, throw pillows. The blankets each had various widths of tan, orange, and red stripes, with dark blue trim and dark blue designs, similar to Native American patterns. Each blanket looked identical to the other blanket, and each blanket felt soft and plush.

She looked up at Ra’am. He was standing in front of her. “Are these from the Nez Perce Indians?”

“No. These are extra blankets Dod bought for me from a nation wide discount store. I assume he preferred these blankets to the others.”

“Oh,” she said. His dry wit felt a little funny. She wanted to smile, but couldn’t.

“I think you will be quite comfortable with them. Lay one down on the bed. The others you can use as covers.”

Ra’am then lowered himself. He kneeled in front of her, like earlier.

Trenae quickly panicked. This didn’t feel right. Further increasing her panic, Ra’am placed one of his hands gently on her right knee. And her knee was only covered by panty hose. She shuddered inside, but kept it well hidden. She looked into his eyes. 

“I believe…you will not be able to sleep here alone tonight,” Ra’am said slowly. “You will be too frightened.” Though his face radiated sincerity and concern, fire and passion oozed forth from his eyes, without mercy. Not good. His warm hand remained stationary, secured in place on her knee. “I want to suggest, that you sleep next to me tonight. I will merely hold you close, next to me, that is all.”

Trenae’s breaths began flowing hard and fast, air darting across her opened lips. Her chest was heaving. She worried he could see. Think, think! Again she turned her head to the right, to see the clothes. She picked them up. “These, these are really n-n-nice, don’t you think?” Damn, why do I have to stutter now? She couldn’t look at him and felt paralyzed with fear. But she tried, even so, not to let him notice.

In lingering motion, his fingertips sliding their warm touch, Ra’am removed his hand from her knee. He rose up, gently taking hold of the clothes in her hands at the same time. She hiked her head up, looking into his face. He turned and placed the clothes on top of the blankets, on her left.

Ra’am kneeled again. She looked at him, before her. He stared into her eyes and took both her hands, caressing them softly. His face burned her mind once more. His frightening geed’aso and hair strands, covering a large, powerful face, head, and neck, and his dark scary eyes reminded her again and again that he couldn’t possibly come from earth.  She also noticed, creepily, that it didn’t seem like he had skin at all, and all the blue geed’aso lines were exposed to the air, like muscles exposed on a skinned-alive human. She wanted to scream. But she couldn’t back away.

“Can you give me an answer?” he asked, his voice tenacious.

Tears once again formed in her eyes. No longer could she disguise the crushing, breath-squeezing feelings her body now experienced. She closed her eyes. “Ra’am, please…no, I can’t,” she said softly. She lowered her head, keeping her eyes shut. “I can’t, please.”

“It is all right.” His deep voice echoed through her body, a pleasant, calming vibration. “Open your eyes. I am not upset. I only want to help you.”

Lifting her head a little, she opened her eyes. Ra’am let go of her hands and stood up. She watched closely, tilting her head back gently, keeping her eyes on him.

He stared down at her. “The offer still stands, if you cannot sleep in here alone.” He looked to his right, at the floor. She followed his line of sight. L.B. had curled up in a ball on the floor, right next to the wall that encased the ma’argahar. “It appears L.B. is happy here. He often sleeps by the ma’argahar. It produces a mild humming sound, so sleep inducing. He can keep you company.”

Ra’am turned and walked over to the large, oval lighted button, by the doorway, similar in size to a small-flattened egg. From the button’s position on the curved wall, it occurred to Trenae how all the rooms followed the central, circular form of the ma’argahar, Ha-Ta’s ‘nucleus’. “This opens and closes the doorway,” he said, pointing to the button. “And the orah near your bed adjusts the light level in this room. And it is the same for the bathroom, which if you need to use, feel free.”

Finished with his words, Ra’am walked back into the room a little more and stared down at her. He didn’t speak. Great, just when he’s about to leave, he’s back. Come on, think of something. Trenae placed her hands on her lap, grasping them together, and stared up at him. “So, I guess my mother was right.”

A curious expression weaved through his face, so human-like. “Right about what?”

“About evolution. That we evolved. You know, I mean, how else could you be here?”

Ra’am crossed his arms over his broad chest and stood straight and tall. “Oh, really, you evolved?”

“Well, yes,” she said, scrunching her brows, perplexed. “How else would you be here. Or me?”

“I was created, Trenae.” He continued his determined stance.

“Created?” She swallowed. “By…by who?” Trembling rattled her body slightly.

“By God.” Releasing his arms, hanging them loosely by his sides, Ra’am began to turn around and leave the room.

He paused in his steps and looked back at her. “Remember, if you have any problems, find me. I should be in one of the rooms.” He stared at her, intensity in his gaze. “And one more thing before I leave. Not only did I not evolve, but evolution…is not possible. I will see you in the morning.”

He walked away…



…Trenae looked at her watch. Right on 10:05 pm. “Oh no! I have to leave. I told the taxi to pick me up at ten. I know we’re not done, but…”

Jenny turned off the recorder and placed it, along with the pad and pencil, down on the coffee table. She stood up from her red sofa chair. “No, that’s okay, if you have to leave.”

Trenae stood up and began walking toward the front window. “I’m sorry.” She glanced back at Jenny. “I usually don’t stay up very late anyway.”

“Me too. Not a biggy, though.”

Trenae looked out the large double pane window, to the right of the front door. She looked beyond the trees, finally securing sight of a vehicle. Sure enough, the same taxicab that had dropped her off earlier waited by the curb.

“I’m still not done, with telling you everything,” Trenae said, turning around. Startling Trenae, Jenny was standing almost right behind her. “Is there another day you want to see me?” 

Jenny smiled. She rolled her eyes upwards, quiet a moment. “How ‘bout Saturday, at 10:30 in the morning?” She looked back at Trenae. “Does that sound okay?”

“You don’t have anything before that, some earlier day?”

“No, actually, I’m scheduled to speak with this older woman Wednesday and Thursday night, about her alien experiences. And I don’t have weekend reporting duty, so I’m free Saturday. Do you think that will work for you?”

 “Sure, that will be all right. I can be here.” Trenae walked over to the red sofa chair by the door and lifted her jacket up, putting it on.

“I suppose we made it through this interview with nary a mobster chopping the phone wires or sneaking in through back doors and windows,” Jenny said, her tone friendly.

Trenae looked at her. Jenny smiled warmly and crossed her arms. Trenae smiled a little and took held of the doorknob.

“Well, see you Saturday,” Jenny said. “Okay?”

“Yes, thank you. Bye now.”

After skipping down the porch’s steps and passing the dark, frightening trees, Trenae fled toward the door of the taxicab.
















                                                                Chapter 4



 “Great, what have I gotten myself into now?” Jenny said.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror, though her thoughts centered around the interview last night. The thin, gold necklace, pouring over the top portion of her maroon turtleneck, somehow disappeared within the floppy collar. Maybe it was time for that other long sleeve shirt.

Turning around, she reached for the black, velvety long sleeve shirt on her bed. She lifted it up and gave it a once over. “This will just have to go with the pants,” she said, placing the shirt against her dark purple dressy pants, appropriate for work. She simply didn’t feel like freezing in the office again, like yesterday with the skirt and blouse.

Once trading the turtleneck for the black long sleeve replacement, Jenny went about getting the other myriad of tasks finished, her normal routine every morning before work.

            Yet constantly on her mind, during the whole morning ritual was the interview with Trenae Lafayette last night. In some ways, the former stripper’s story did not hold water. Some strange details, details that Jenny simply hadn’t researched or heard of before, didn’t wash. True, accounts of human-like aliens visiting the earth existed. Often referred to as ‘Nordics’, these beings generally behaved peaceably, harmlessly, and exhibited variations in skin color, hair color, and stature, with some even being very tall. But none had the strange geed’aso, like Trenae’s alien. And she had certainly never heard of an alien denouncing evolution. Evidently, a huge barrel of untouched peculiarities in the ‘abducted by aliens’ world still needed to be discovered, which she alone must now define and uncover, if only from one frightened woman, Trenae. Quite a task.

            Once dressed, Jenny finished everything necessary for her workday, especially fixing a lunch, and then locked the front door. She headed toward the laundry room, passing the TV cabinet while walking through the door. The TV was off. A quick walk through the small laundry room led her to the back door. After stepping outside, she hurried to the garage behind the house. Her red Hyundai Accent waited quietly for someone to drive it.

Finally behind the wheel, she backed out of the garage toward the gravel alleyway. She headed off to work.

            The Examiner’s building soon came into view. Jenny parked her car on the lower level of the nearby public parking structure. After crossing the street, she walked inside the double glass doors and headed toward the elevator. Josh Sharwood, at his usual post behind the security desk, stood by a few women receptionists, some of whom she didn’t recognize. Josh smiled at her, his face full and strong as ever. Still doing all that weight lifting? He gave her a nonchalant wave, she waving likewise, while she hurried past him and onto the opened elevator.

She checked her watch. Nearly 8:00 am.

The elevator’s door soon opened on the sixth floor, displaying the expanse of the entire newsroom.

            “Hey, Jen,” Phil said, from behind the newsroom front desk. “Seen any little green men lately?”

 Phil’s devilish grin chiseled his fair-skinned face. Even his eyes appeared mischievous beneath the thick lens of his eyeglasses. Tara, her wavy brown hair framing her face, stood next to him, smiling too. Clearly the two of them were in cahoots together.

But, she would deal with one miscreant at a time. “Yeah, Phil, and now I’m coming to take you to him!” Jenny increased her pace toward the desk. Once there, she rushed behind the polished obstacle and grabbed Phil by the ear.

            “Help, help!” he said playfully. “I’m being attacked by the leader of those aliens, the ones…the ones who tug people’s ears!”

            Tara laughed, watching Jenny tug Phil away from the front desk.

After walking several feet, leading Phil toward each of their office cubicle, Jenny felt more compassionate, having given him enough punishment, and finally released his ear.

            “See you two later,” Tara called out to them. “I’m at the front desk for a while, Claire’s orders. Some big shot’s coming in.”

            Jenny stopped in her tracks and turned around. Phil did the same. “Really, who is it?” Jenny asked.

            “I don’t know,” Tara answered. “I wasn’t told.”

            “Any government people?’

            Tara shrugged and gave Jenny a sideways glance. “Got me. I don’t know. You should ask Claire, I think.”

            “I will. Thanks, Tara.”

            Turning, Jenny walked away, with Phil following.

She led them toward the north side of the news floor, passing by a now empty lunchroom on the north, while approaching their office cubicle across the hall from the lunchroom.

Phil LaCarta felt more and more of a good friend, mainly because of his close desk proximity. The Examiner’s new office cubicles had an interesting design, combining two smaller desk areas, with a short wall between each desk, into one large cubicle. So, just a swivel chair roll away, by a few feet, and both she and Phil arrived in each other’s company.

 Lately Jenny had exposed many of her plans and doings at home to Phil, especially since she started her book. Yet she couldn’t feel attracted to him, not really. His younger age, 23, and his tall, thin stature just didn’t honestly appeal that much. But she sure loved to make Phil the target of her shenanigans, even though he would retaliate himself, making her the target of his antics likewise. Because they liked each other on a humorous and playful plane, for now, it made work so much more enjoyable for her. Hopefully, Phil too.

            After she and Phil had hung their coats on the nearby hooks in the cubicle’s two corners, Jenny sat down on her chair, placing her purse on the floor. Phil sat on his own swivel chair, wheeling over to meet with her.     

“So, any spooky aliens come visiting?” Phil asked, using kooky hand motions and a funny face.
            “I’ll slap you!”

            “Ooo, office abuse. You’re in trouble now.”

            Jenny smiled at him and leaned back, though quickly rolling the chair over to turn on her monitor and computer tower, and then rolling back. “But really,” she said, “I had an unusual experience last night.”

            Phil leaned forward, keeping his hands in his lap and wheeling his chair even closer. He seemed all ears. “Go ahead, I’m listening,” he said quietly. They had to keep it low, with others close by. 

            “Remember that girl who came in yesterday, about Governor Willson?”

            “Well, sort of. I was out a lot. I heard some of the details from Warren. So, what’s up?”

            “Get this. She claims, that Willson and some mafia guys he’s involved with, basically held her prisoner, before Willson was elected, and had her turning tricks for Willson’s parties.”

            “No way!” he exclaimed softly.

            “Hold on, it gets worse. And then she overheard about the murder, get it, the MUR-DER, of Willson’s wife, Nancy.”

            Phil snapped back, upright in his seat. “No WAY!” he said loudly. “Oh come on, Willson?” He sneaked a sideways glance toward the lunchroom, looked at her, and lowered his voice. “The clean cut, brushes his teeth every day for the camera, holds lots of, you know, those little guys…those…”

            Jenny loved to see Phil get flustered. She could always tell, because he forgot words. She laughed at him a little, and then helped him out. “Children and babies?”

            “Yeah, yeah, that’s the ones!” he said, slapping his thigh quietly. “I mean, come on. That’s really far fetched. She died in a car crash! It’s been confirmed! He’s the governor, for God’s sake. And he really does seem like a good guy, at least to me. Why didn’t she opt for a couple of those Senators or Representatives? Heck, you never see or hear much about them. But Willson, he’s got constant exposure!” He leaned down, closer to her. “Anyway, what else did she say?”

            Positioning her chair directly in front of Phil, Jenny stretched her legs out straight, to the left of his chair, and crossed her feet. “Well, the best part, is that these mafia guys then want to kill her, right? And I asked her, like how can you still be here if they wanted you dead? I asked her after Claire and Warren had left. And then, she tells me that she had help. And…guess who from?”

            Phil crossed his arms and smiled. “An alien,” he said, matter-of-factly.

            “Yeah, you got it,” she said, smiling. “So I, of course, asked her to come over last night. And it was interesting and all, but her story doesn’t follow the path of many of the other abductees I’ve read on the Internet and in books. It’s somewhat, well, different.”

            “Jenny, I told you, I warned you, that you would meet all kinds of freaks if you went ahead with this. You’re way braver than me on this.”

            “Yeah, I know you did, you did. But, hey, my choice. I’m interviewing a 45-year-old woman this week too. But anyway, you see, most of the alien accounts are either about those ‘Grays’, you know, the typical big-headed, bug-eyed gray guys, or about these kind of reptilian-like aliens. Now, both these species, I suppose you call them, are pretty bad to humans. Ya know, mutilations, weird experimentation, all that. Both kinds are usually labeled as ‘Dracos’ or ‘Draconians’.

“But,” she continued, “then there are the other kinds. They usually appear more human-like, some having like blond hair and fair skin, or different colored skin or hair color. Those in the know about this stuff  label them as ‘Nordics’ or ‘Evadamics’ or ‘Evas’, and they’re usually just the opposite of those ‘Dracos’, usually being friendly and tolerant to us earthlings. I think this former stripper’s alien is one of the Nordics.”

“Oh wonderful. A former stripper too! Now that just makes all of this so much more believable.”

“Very funny.” She smiled. “But anyway, until I was rudely interrupted, I figured he’s one of the Nordics.”

“I can’t believe they actually categorize these things, these aliens!”

“Yeah, I know, but they do. But anyway, then I find out he’s supposedly from the Andromeda galaxy. Most of aliens I’ve read about come from our galaxy. I haven’t come across that one yet. OR, the fact that he has these weird blue tendons running just beneath his skin, which acts as an exoskeleton and makes him apparently very strong. And then there’s the oddity that they have three sexes, a neutral one too.” Jenny leaned closer to Phil. “But the strangest thing she told me, and this was just before she left, was that this alien guy believes in God, and claims evolution is impossible.”

Phil squinted, adjusting his glasses at the same time. He appeared just as perplexed as she. “Well, the God part is believable, but not the evolution part. Now that’s definitely a new one on me as well, knowing all the great times I’ve had interviewing the nutcases who were abducted…by, well, you know, our little friends.”

Jenny laughed quietly. Phil had a ridiculous expression on his face. She recalled the times they both had encounters with individuals who walked right up to the news floor and demanded interviews, usually about aliens and other strange occurrences. Some seemed believable, while others you couldn’t trust for a second.

“I mean, who knows?” he asked. “Maybe her aliens are idiots.”

“No, I doubt that. From what she told me, this alien guy seems quite smart. She’s recounted a ton of information. Obviously, he taught her a lot. I don’t think she learned it all herself, although…you never know. You think?”

“Got me!”

“Maybe, see,” Jenny said, looking at the computer’s monitor briefly, “after her dad died, she and her aunt had his ashes buried at this place in the Nez Perce Forest. And her dad was religious. So, one of my guesses is that maybe this is some sort of post-delusional trauma from her dad’s death that she’s going through. Something like that, anyway. Who knows?”

“Yeah, Jen, really.”

Jenny pulled her legs back and sat up in her chair, yet still faced Phil. “Well, I’ll listen to her another time. She’s supposed to come on Saturday. I feel kind of sorry for her too. She apparently suffered emotional and physical abuse from her mom and brother. That part I definitely believe, since she’s really shy and awkward, kind of immature. Really scared too. And even though she’s very pretty…” Jenny touched her cheek, thinking a moment. “Maybe I should check out Fontel’s, see if she really worked there.”

“She worked at Fontel’s? Heck, I could tell you if she worked there.”

“Phil, you stinker!”

“Hey, I’m a guy. What can I say? When was she there last?”

“Uh, let’s see. End of May, maybe beginning of June, 2006’. I’ll have to check.”

“May or June? I don’t know…I don’t think I was there then”

“Yeah, right. You’re probably there every night.”

“What, me? Jen, how could you say that?” Although he tried to appear innocent, it wasn’t working.

Jenny crossed her arms and gave him a crooked smile. “Yeahhh, right…but, anyway.” She looked down for a moment, but then lifted her gaze. “Say, have you ever heard about Willson’s parties, the big ones he used to throw?”

Phil developed a curious, thoughtful look. “I think so. I can check, if you want. One of my friends used to cater for Willson’s ranch. I can find out. BUT...” His eyes widened.


“I will tell you this. Willson’s ranch, well, it’s for sale. Just put on the market a couple of days ago. Somebody told me. You should check that out,” he said, nodding his head.

Jenny glanced to her left, at the lunchroom, contemplating his suggestion. She looked back at him. “Yeah, probably. Thanks.”

“No problemo. Anytime.”

“And if you can, find out about those parties, from your friend. Maybe a little detective work will solve this. Who knows?”

“Yeah, I will. We’ll see.”

“And I’ll just continue to charm and act friendly to this girl, get her to open up.”

“Sure, that should work.”

After a few more brief conversations about each other’s assignments and tasks for the day, Jenny became embroiled and focused in her work. Phil too.

















                                                                      Chapter 5


Trenae stood by Jenny’s front door. What a difference the daytime sun and bright blue sky made compared to her last visit, during the dark of night. Positive, happy breezes floated over the entire city of Boise, this Saturday, February 24th. Unseasonably mild temperatures and lack of precipitation helped too, but mostly the sun delivered the good tidings. But she would have come snow, rain, or shine.

She lifted her wrist. The watch beneath her leather jacket displayed 10:20. She was a little early. Regardless she would have to knock on the door. After all, where else could she go now? The taxi had left.

Lifting her right fist, she tapped on the door. An immediate response didn’t happen, like the last time, on Tuesday night. She tried again, this time with a harder rap. Footsteps pounding down stairs came from within the house. Then, the door opened.

“Oh…sorry,” Jenny said, between winded breaths.  

“No, that’s okay,” Trenae said sweetly. “I’m a little early anyway.”

Jenny opened the door wider. “No problem. Come on in, take your jacket off. I need to find my recorder and pad. Won’t take too long.”

Complying, Trenae stepped inside, removed her black leather jacket, and placed it once more on the nearby red sofa chair, near the door. Jenny ran back upstairs.

With Jenny gone, Trenae felt it best to walk over to the blue and white sofa and sit down. But once seated, she heard Jenny’s footsteps rumble down the stairs again.

Soon, Jenny plopped down into the same red sofa chair as the last time. The familiar mini recorder and note pad was ready to go. She turned the recorder on and gave a brief description of the interview.

“There’s something I want to ask you, before I forget,” Jenny said.

“What is that?”

“Well, you mentioned that the alien guy, Ra’am, had a bathroom. And you used it, right?”

“Yes, I did.”

“I am just dieing to hear about it. A bathroom…from another planet, you know?”

“I know what you mean. I was wondering the same thing.” Trenae smiled a little, though sensing disbelief from Jenny. “That night, after he left me alone in the room, I did manage to get to the bathroom cylinder, one of those galeel khayeh. I didn’t take a shower or anything, but I did use the toilet. The first thing I noticed, right away, was white everywhere, instead of that green color. And then, I noticed it appeared somewhat similar to any bathroom here on earth.”


“Yeah, well…I felt surprised but, I figured it wouldn’t be too different, after considering that we’re basically the same body type. When I first walked in, you could see a type of sink and toilet on the left- they were somehow connected, sort of spiral, like a spiral staircase, with a central bar from ceiling to floor connecting both the sink to the toilet, only the toilet was lower, like a step down and around.” Trenae used her hands as times before, to place objects in her description. “Their material seemed to be the same similar stuff like the rest of Ha-Ta, just a different color.

“And on the right wall, there was a white, small seat jutting out of this mirror wall. The mirror just seemed to be part of the wall, not separate.”

“Hmm, a mirror.”

“Yes. But the really neat thing, was the sink had this small, strange, white tower, sort of like a canopy, except made of the same stuff like everything else, that allowed you to put your hands under it, kind of like a flattened out teepee with one side removed, so--”

“Don’t tell me. When you put your hands under it, the water turned on, right?”

More disbelief emanated from Jenny. Trenae ignored it. She had to. “Actually, yes, that’s true. There weren’t any faucets, if that’s what you mean.”

“Well, at least we’ve caught up to their technology in one way!” Jenny smiled briefly.  “You know those bathrooms, with the faucets that go on automatically?”

“Yeah, I know,” Trenae said, smiling too, “at mall or convenience store bathrooms. They never give you enough water, ya know?”

“Really! Did Ra’am’s?”

“Yes, fortunately, it did. The toilet didn’t have water in it, though. It had a very similar set up, seat and all, like our toilets, although it had no toilet seat or lid you could lift up. It was just very wide, a large oval, and had soft cushioning around the perimeter. But when you used it, something in the basin just absorb or removed the contents. There was no visible drain hole. It was weird…”

“Hmm, interesting.”

“Actually, the garbage receptacle, called a peshokh lo n’rah- there was one in the eyzkher mazon, eyzkher tagleet, and bathroom or other cylinder rooms, would do the same, only disappearing garbage, instead of water. Ra’am said there were certain kleeproodah systems which took both water and garbage, other biological refuse, and used what it could from these things for more energy in the ma’argahar, or else just broke the stuff down and evaporated it, made it disappear. The same with the sink and shower, although both had a drain hole, where the drain water collected underneath, some container system, and got taken care of.”

“Interesting,” Jenny said. Then she asked for spelling of peshokh lo n’rah and wrote down the new word.

“But, the bathroom,” Trenae continued. “In the corner of the bathroom, next to the seat thing, was this triangular shaped shower area, very similar to a regular shower. Water came out of a white object, in the far corner, similar in shape to the sink, and up high, like our showers. When I touched this orah button nearby, running my fingers around it in a circular motion, the white shower object could lengthen, grow, widen, whatever you wanted, to get more water on you.”


“Yeah, true. Another orah button controlled these two sliding doors to come out of both sides of the walls, on each corner end, like two curtains, although it didn’t touch the ceiling, so you could see someone’s head in the shower, if they’re tall, like an ometvah. The doors could either be transparent, or solid, depending on how you touched the button. But it was the same stuff as the other doors, with that melding, disappearing quality.”

“So, you had some fun in there, sort of playing around with the controls?”

Jenny appeared skeptical and amused, but Trenae felt serious. That moment alone in the alien’s bathroom was not funny. “No, I didn’t. I just felt worried, so I had to check things a bit, make sure nothing was really dangerous or, I don’t know...”

“Oh, I see, I’m sorry. So, go ahead.”

“Well, next to the shower, on the other side, not by the seat, there appeared to be a small oval doorway, because it looked depressed inward, though it was white like the rest of the bathroom. Once the door opened, you could put your clothes in, to get both washed and dried in one container, done in a minute or two. Cool, huh?”

“That is cool…Speaking of cool, was the water in the sink heated?”

“I didn’t dare use the shower that night. I just used the toilet thing and then washed my hands, in that sink. But yes, the water actually felt warm, perfect, not too cold, not too hot.”

“And one more curious question,” Jenny said, with a smile. “Was there any toilet paper?”

 “That’s a good question!” Trenae smiled too, briefly. “And yes, there was one roll in there, on that seat by the mirrored wall. Ra’am told me it was for me, courtesy of Dod again. I asked him that before I used the bathroom, when he sat by the control panel. He told me the details about the peshokh lo n’rah then, and about the shower, the washer-dryer thing, other bathroom details.”

“Oh. I was gonna say, you did seem to be telling details you hadn’t learned yet. So, after you used the bathroom, you went to bed?”

“Yes. I changed my clothes, took off that uncomfortable dress…” Trenae looked closely in Jenny’s face. “You know, I still remember, how I had a deep red impression above my breasts from that dress’s elastic, from wearing it so long. You know?”

“Ouch! Sure.”

“Yeah, tell me about it. But anyway, I put my clothes on the floor, in a corner of my room.”

“Hey, I just thought of something.” Jenny developed a curious expression. “What about your purse?”

“Well, remember, I never took it with me, when I left that car. And then they found it.”

“Oh yeah, I’m sorry. I remember, those jerks found it and mentioned it, when Ra’am showed you that encircling screen thing.”

“Yes, that’s right. So anyway, I was still very, very concerned about Ra’am, like he was going to try something on me.”

“Like…rape or molest?” Jenny asked softly.

“Yes, exactly.” She stared at Jenny closely again. “Concerned is not the word. I was terrified of him, even thought he hadn’t hurt me yet, and L.B. liked him. It’s just that…well, everything felt so new, bizarre and weird. Scary. So when I put on the jogging suit, I made sure that I tucked in the shirt part, into the pants, in such a way that all the wrinkles were in the front, and flat and wrinkle-less in the back, so I could tell if someone messed with me, without me knowing, like during the night. Do you know what I mean?”

“Yes, good idea. Where did you come up with that one?”

“When I used to work at the pharmacy, in Idaho City, sometimes I was invited to these parties. And quite a few times, I would get so drunk, I wasn’t sure if some of the guys took advantage of me. So, since it was hard for me to control my drinking, I just did that trick, before I got really wasted. It seemed to work, I guess. My shirt was always tucked in the same, so no one ever did anything, then, anyway...”

Jenny gave a strange, skeptical glance. Again, Trenae felt mistrusted. Maybe she shouldn’t have mentioned the true extent of her drinking problem.

“Well, so,” Jenny said, her tone a little condescending, “did you fall asleep, feel comfortable finally?”

Even so, Trenae had to tell this, regardless of Jenny’s skepticism. “I did, but first some other things happened.” Similar to before, at the last interview, she fell into the scenes of her memories…



…When Trenae came back to her new room, L.B. continued to sleep in the corner, although no longer in a curled ball. Instead, he lay on his stomach, with his head resting upon his front paws. After she had placed her clothes in the corner, she tiptoed over to the Golden Retriever and quietly knelt down besides him. So desperately did she need to touch an earth being now. More importantly, though she didn’t want to admit it to herself, she needed to prove to herself that L.B. truly was a dog, from earth, and not some strange cyborg or abnormal, freakish genetic mutation. Or worse. Since Ra’am wasn’t nearby, she could take full advantage of the moment, to positively affirm or deny her uncomfortable contentions without his influence.

She grazed her fingertips across his long, wavy fur, first starting near L.B.’s neck, and then down toward his back. Then she placed her whole hand on his fur, and stroked him carefully, delicately. His breathing seemed normal. She gently laid her ear against one side of his chest and listened for his heartbeat. This again, sounded as normal as she could remember, from the years long ago when she had a dog. She began to caress and squeeze L.B.’s body parts, like his legs and shoulders. These too seemed normal, both in their warm body temperature and in their consistency and form. All her senses undeniably pointed toward a true, real earthling animal. Everything seemed reasonable.  

L.B. finally succumbed to her gentle, yet prying touches. He awoke and eagerly looked at her face, licking her hands. At that moment, Trenae realized what a handsome dog was L.B., and how friendly and loving likewise. She embraced him around the neck and shoulders, hugging him for a moment. “I don’t know what I’d do without you now,” she said quietly, tears welling in her eyes. Her eyes felt sore and unusual from crying so much. Yet it wasn’t entirely unusual. Many times in the past months the same had occurred.

“Come here, boy,” she whispered, not wanting Ra’am to hear. She stood up and stepped toward the bed. “Come on, come on, over here.”  If he could just lay on the floor, by my bed.

The playful dog responded to her requests, leaping up, wagging his tail, and hopping over to her. Trenae sat on the bed and held his head in her hands, petting and hugging him further.

Shoot, she thought. I didn’t make my bed yet! Standing up, she turned and lifted the blankets and pillows. “Stay, now you stay there, while I do this.” She looked down at his cute face. Remarkably, L.B. listened. He sat on the floor.

She laid one of the blankets down, as Ra’am had suggested, and neatly laid the other two on top, for the covers. While laying down the blankets, she noticed the bed appeared much longer than any twin size or even queen size mattress on earth, probably due to the average great height of an ometvah. However, its width appeared only a little wider than a twin bed.

L.B. sat patiently, watching her, his mouth open, tongue panting, so typical of a domestic canine.

After she had placed the pillows on the bed, at the end closest to the ma’argahar wall and within sight of the doorway, she carefully climbed into bed. L.B. continued to sit there, tongue panting, giving an occasional paw to her. Lifting her hand up, near the wall, she touched the orah button near the bed, lowering the amount of light in the room. She petted L.B.’s head a few more times and the rascally dog finally decided to lie down. Slowly, quietly, so as not to disturb him, she wobbled herself to the edge of the bed and looked down below at him. He was lying on the floor in the same manner as when she had checked his body earlier; he appeared to be falling asleep.

 Trenae realized she felt cold. She was trembling, too. Actually, her body began rattling like an earthquake. Take deep breaths, relax, she told herself. But in the horrifying emptiness and solitude of the moment, when she realized all people had to face their problems and demons of the day straight on, as it was the end of the day and the time when night and darkness surrounded the body and mind, she couldn’t control the shaking. Even her teeth clattered together. She closed her eyes and tried to think of positive, humorous scenes or events. But the coldness of her body would not allow it. She tried to curl tightly into a ball, releasing her hand from the bed’s side, near L.B. Later on, she hoped to place her hand on L.B.’s back, as he slept soundly. But for now, she moved closer to the wall, wrapping the blankets tightly around her body.

Finally, with the blankets coiling as a cocoon, Trenae felt warmer. Her shaking decreased. Yet just as her teeth started clattering less, the enormous magnitude of her situation and the eerie location of where she lay resting slammed into her consciousness instead. She lay on a bed, on an alien ship, surrounded by micro-robots, with no way to escape! And worse, a giant, frightening alien being, who seemed to have ulterior motives on his mind, could arrive in her room at any moment! Relax, relax…please. Breathe deeply, stay calm. Staying calm is the only way to manage this, she repeated in her mind.

Miraculously, she finally felt sleep approaching. The anxiety of her mind could not compete with the tiredness of her body. Sleep would have to arrive soon to her weary body. Yet before she fell asleep, she wondered about Ra’am’s statement, that God had created him. Was it some sort of sick joke, or just some devious way to deceive her? It was her last conscious thought.    


“STOP! Help me!” Trenae yelled. She snapped upright, sitting. A violent, terrifying dream jolted her awake. Her heart pounded, her breathing puffed shallow and difficult. Was she having a heart attack? She threw the covers off and sat on the side of the bed. L.B. was gone.

She stood up. The horrible memories of the dream would not leave her alone, only complicating her physical problems. In her dream, Stiles and Willson, even Traferro and Finley, were burying her alive, in a deep hole. But worst of all, Ra’am had arrived too, up above, his tall presence suddenly darting out of no where. He joined, laughed with, and helped the men throw massive clumps of dirt on top of her head and body. The dirt felt so heavy, stinging, slamming her skin painfully as it fell. She could see the dirt fall all around her, piling up the hole, reaching her shoulders, her neck, then her head. No escape, just like the alien dungeon that now trapped her!

I have to get out of here, climb to the surface, right away! The risks from Stiles simply didn’t seem as dangerous as the risks from the unknown, on this spacecraft.      

She walked to the doorway. Something seemed different; the light was dimmer than earlier, when she had gone to bed, making the rounded, curved corridor appear even more sinister than earlier. Her body shaking again, Trenae clasped her yellow shirt, just over her heart, and tried to slow her breathing, relax her crazed heart. But her heart raced faster than the night before, racing like wild. She staggered in the direction toward the control panel, carefully edging her way past the dark and eerie laboratory room.

But as she shortened the distance between herself and the control panel, she could see a welcoming scene of the earth above, on the khalon. A view of the night sky, speckled by stars, brightened ever so slightly by an orange-pink glow as from a possible nearby town, loomed high above an open area, a field. The scene welcomed, reassured. But then a horrifying thought occurred- she wasn’t by River Cliffs! She knew that area, she knew it well. And this open field was far too broad to be the clearing before the cliff. Where am I now?

Once arriving, she rested one of her arms on a chair in front of the control panel. She continued clasping her shirt, trying to breathe normally, finally tapering her heart rate a little. But it looked so dark on the spacecraft, save for the light of the control panel, the shleetah maksheer, with its hundreds of lights illuminating some brightness. Their strange-patterned glow reminded again of her foreign, alien location. She leaned over, exhausted, shaking. Though she hoped to find a button opening the delet tekrah, the ceiling doorway, far too many buttons occupied the panel. One small touch of the wrong control button, and I’ll a start some type of nuclear explosion!

“No, no, what am I doing here,” she whispered. “Oh God, please help me.”

Yet she really wanted to scream, scream like a deranged lunatic. She lifted her head, taking a glance at the khalon again. Then she hung her head down and continued clasping her shirt.

“Trenae, are you all right?”

That voice! She startled and jerked upright. She turned left, from whence the voice came, by the evesmol.

Ha-Ta’s lighting suddenly became brighter. Now she could see clearly. Ra’am had been lying on that seat, with some blankets. He should have been in his room!

Ra’am stood up from the evesmol and started walking toward her, still wearing the black shirt and blue jeans he had on earlier. His thick hair strands hung loosely around his head, at shoulder length, obviously not tied back, making him appear even more daunting and formidable than before.

Without even thinking, Trenae started backing away, toward the curved wall to her right.

“You are not all right, are you?” Ra’am said. His low, thundering words broke the air. “But, we will solve this now.” He continued walking toward her, taking slow, deliberate steps.

His words wounded menacingly. Continuing to move backwards, Trenae’s back found the wall. Trapped. She removed her hand from her shirt and placed both palms on the strange, malleable surface of Ha-Ta, by her sides. “Please, just leave me alone,” she said weakly. “I can’t, I can’t …” Though tears tried to flow, having cried so much, their source was dry. Her eyes hurt, yet she watched Ra’am with an eagle’s stare.

“You can’t what?” he asked defiantly, his voice threatening. “You do not know what you need, a woman of your fragility. Did you truly believe you could make it through the night alone?”

“I had L.B. Where is he? Where did you p-p-put him?” She locked her eyes on his every motion. Her trust for him evaporated.

“L.B. is fine. Sometimes I must keep him in my room, if he is uncontrollable or energetic, as he was later this night. Yes, he did sleep by you, but then he left. He could not comfort your negative thoughts, though you believed he could.” Inch by inch, foot by foot, Ra’am drew forward, devouring the distance between them.

“No, I didn’t,” she mumbled. “Please, can I leave?”
            “Now? In the night? Are you this suicidal?”

“But…but we’re not by the cliff. I…I don’t even know, wh-where we are. Where are we?”

“1.8 miles away from the location I acquired you. We traveled, when I first held you earlier today, to my current location.”

“What?” she whispered. No! She hadn’t felt any motion!

“I never stay in one area for long,” he said, still walking toward her, closer, closer. “My parameters cover a 40 mile radius, in particular the Tolo Lake area.”

“No…you…” she said weakly. Unfortunately, her tears had found a passage; thin liquid streams poured down her face. She trembled more. “No, this can’t be, it can’t…”

He arrived. Ra’am now towered over her, several feet away. He lowered himself, balancing himself on bended knees. Right away, she noticed his boots were gone. His feet were covered in socks, yet seemed human-like.

“Trenae, look at me.” She looked into his black eyes. “You need to sleep with me tonight, just for tonight, to adjust to the new environment. I will hold you close, and calm your heart and breathing rate. I will not hurt you.”

She brought her hands to her mouth, covering her lips. Rapid gusts of air whizzed between her fingers. She could barely speak. Fortunately, Ra’am looked less frightening right now. She removed her hands a little. “I’m, I’m not…w-w-worried about you hurting me.”

“Then what is wrong?” His expression demanded an answer.

“I can’t, I can’t s-s-say.”

“Then I will carry you to my bed.”

What? Shock cut through Trenae. She had to do something. Images of Stiles and Willson, and what they had done to her repeatedly, came rushing back from her memories. If this guy has what I think he has between his legs, then maybe a good kick will stop him! She took a deep breath, and without considering any consequences, exploded her right foot forward, toward his supposed genitals. There, take that!

Swack! Not even in an eye blink, Ra’am seized her leg, just above the ankle. She hadn’t even see his motion! His large, powerful hand now completely engulfed her lower calf.

“Did you honestly think you could overpower me?” he demanded, his deep voice angered.

Now she did it. It became her final undoing. Her heart raced even more, Ra’am’s grip causing her pulse to thump against his hand. She had defied him. And the incredible speed of this being shocked her mind; he was truly invincible. She couldn’t fight him anymore.

Defeated, she covered her face with her hands and began crumbling at the knees, weakened by fear. “I’m so scared, I’m so scared.” Ra’am released his hand, finger by finger from her leg. “No, no, this can’t, this can’t be,” she mumbled through her hands. She began to sink down, her shirt rubbing against the wall behind her, lifting it a little. But it didn’t matter now.

Trenae felt the inevitable. After raising himself from the floor, Ra’am slid his right arm, the arm with the powerful and lethal koaksekhel, around the back of her waist. She felt its odd, metallic surface press against her skin, from under her shirt. His other arm wrapped around the back of her thighs. He lifted her effortlessly.

He began walking with her, holding her securely, yet gently, his grasp not hurting.

With her hands still covering her face, Trenae became forced to rest her hands and face on his shoulder. But this quickly became uncomfortable. She removed her hands from her face and reluctantly, yet out of necessity, placed each hand on his shoulders, then laying her face on his right shoulder. She could feel the great broadness of his shoulders, and his thick hair strands brushed against her head. She could feel the wire-like power of his tendons and muscles cutting against her, with his motion, his every step. Even though he had yet showed no desire to inflict injury upon her, while carrying her toward the evesmol, she realized her life now lay completely in his hands.

“I’m so scared, I’m so scared,” she said, keeping her eyes closed, holding on to him. “Please, Ra’am, please.” His strange body and scent reminded her again and again that he was not human.

Ra’am didn’t respond to her frightened words.

Although with her eyes shut she couldn’t see their direction, she soon felt him stop. He must be right in front of the evesmol! Expecting him to place her down, she instead felt him hold her tighter. He lifted her up a little, and then brought her down. She opened her eyes. Immediately Trenae could see he was lying her down on the bed with him, at the same time not releasing her. Time slowed down.

And then, she was on his bed, her head just above a pillow and his left forearm. His other arm secured around her waist and stomach area. He supported himself upright, using his left arm and elbow as a right-angled brace. 

Trenae darted her frightened eyes toward his face, his face so close now. “Please, I can’t do this,” she said, trembling. “Don’t do this, please don’t do this, please, please Ra’am, don’t do this…” Her breath ran out. Her voice became a faint whisper. 

Ra’am removed his right hand from her waist and gently began stroking her hair, by her head’s left side. Staring into the alien’s dark, dagger-like eyes, she lifted her trembling hand and touched his right hand, while in motion stroking her. But then she removed her hand, bringing it back down, realizing she may upset him again.

“I assure you,” he said calmly, continuing to stroke her hair, “I will not hurt you.”

“I know.” She swallowed. “I know…you will not hurt me. That’s not wh-what I’m worried about. You have to know what I mean.” Her voice pleaded for an answer.

He casually gazed his eyes downward, away from her face, toward her breasts and waist, ignoring her question. Trenae felt her mind leave her body, just as it happened many times with Willson and Stiles. No longer was she a participant, but an observer.

“No, tell me,” Ra’am said passionately. “Tell me what you mean.” He looked back into her eyes.

All her individual terror reactions crashed together. As she felt herself floating, flying away, she unfortunately developed an uncontrollable desire to burry her face into Ra’am’s chest and embrace him madly. But this would only intensify his apparent passion and desire for her! Yet maybe it would help him to be easier on her. Yet then his self-control, if any existed, would be gone, and maybe her self control as well! Remember, he’s not human, he’s not human!

Answer his question, Trenae. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Her mind displayed herself rattling against Ra’am’s body, from a distance.  “Stiles...and, and some of those, of those oth- other guys…” She opened her eyes. She had to make him understand. “They ra-raped me, repeatedly, and hurt me, m-many times, made me d-do things…please…I can’t, I’m so scared, please, please…” Her voice trailed off into silence.

Though fragile as a wounded lamb, she watched him closely, from both her eye’s view and her outer body view. Ra’am eyes quickly became sharp, fierce-looking slits, as he removed his hand from her hair. She noticed his right hand form into a taut, clenched fist. No, he’s going to punch me! She squeezed her eyes shut.

A warm hand pressed gently on her stomach. She opened her eyes. Eerily, his expression appeared as before, calm yet ardent. Then why did he make a fist? She quietly panicked within.

After a moment, Ra’am lifted his hand from her stomach, placed it near the right pocket of his jeans, and reached within, pulling out a folded tissue. He brought the tissue toward her face and began wiping, blotting the tears away, very gently, around her eyes and cheeks. Again, she closed her eyes. Though his action caused her to relax more, she struggled internally just the same, trying to determine what would come next.

He finished. She looked at him again. He had laid his hand on his right side, the tissue gone. “Trenae, I told you before, in your room. I only wanted to hold you close tonight, and apply negee’ah ragoo’a, so your heart and breathing rates can decrease.”

“Apply, wh-what?” she asked. Her mind had returned to her body completely now, forcing her racing heart, rapid breathing, and rattling body to register brutally.

“Negee’ah ragoo’a, the calming touch, which I touched your abdomen with earlier today, when I first brought you here.” His deep voice, his face so close- those dark lines, those dark eyes, those odd hair strands, like black snakes falling by his face! “At least you will be able to sleep. And no, I will not remove your clothes. Is that all right?”

Trenae searched his face for emotion, wiping her eyes with her shaking fingers. Passion remained, but he also had, though she could not pin point it exactly, a gentle honesty and patience that maybe, just maybe, she could grasp hold of somehow. There, in that part of Ra’am’s demeanor, she would be safe. She inhaled and stammered, “I…I guess s-s-so.”

“I do not smell offensive to you, do I?” Humor and curiosity colored his words.

Though wanting to smile, her tired face wouldn’t allow it. Heck, she could barely speak, especially with her body still rattling. “No…not, not at all.”

“Then I will cover us now,” he said.

Ra’am reached his arm behind his back, to where the crumpled up blanket must lay. No, wait! That powerful koaksekhel is still on his arm! The thought of having it next to her all night felt very unnerving. “Can I ask you s-s-something, th-though?”

“Yes, Trenae?” He stared into her eyes.

 She took a shallow, staggered breath. “Can you take that koaksekhel off now?”


Ra’am placed his right arm directly against the wall by the bed. The koaksekhel’s underside could be seen- a thin, silver, elastic or mesh-like material, with several solid bands spaced equal distances apart. Nonetheless, like everything else on Ha-Ta, it appeared as one unit, with no seams or joints, only differing in texture or shape. So weird. 

Trenae watched. The wall itself grew outward, a large, living amoeba, and swiftly enveloped the koaksekhel on the alien’s arm. Right afterwards, it split the koaksekhel length-wise, from the viewed underneath area, and yanked it off Ra’am’s arm, into the wall. It was gone. She quickly noticed that his arm’s skin and muscles just below the koaksekhel did not appear any different to the condition of his left arm.

“No way,” she said. “How did that happen?”

“Shhh,” he said.

He didn’t answer me! Not good.

Ra’am grasped the blanket behind him again. A dark blue thick blanket, the kind normally used as a bedspread comforter on earth, came closer, closer. It looked so warm, so comforting.

But as he pulled it nearer to the bed’s open edge, she panicked again. “No, no.” She thrust her palms up. “Please, I can’t.”

“Trenae, what is it now?” he asked softly. He held the blanket motionless, just above both of them.

She struggled to speak normally, though still trembling. “You have to realize, how hard this is for me. That you are an alien, and I never thought you existed before and now…I am…I am lying so close to one…do you understand?” She surprised herself, her words flowing clearly, without a stammer. For it was her last ditch effort for mercy and understanding.

“I understand. But now, I am tired of negotiating with you. This situation is now under my control. I know what will help you.” He continued wrapping the blanket over both of them.

Trenae covered her eyes again with her hands. “No…no,” she whispered to herself.

“Please, it will be all right. Just trust me.” He completed placing the blanket snuggly around her back. He brought his right arm under the blanket, and gently, slowly wrapped his arm around the middle of her back, softly prying his hand between her waist and the bed, only her thin shirt separating their skin from touching. He had her secured. She felt close to fainting.

Grasping her tighter, Ra’am gently moved her closer. Her fear increased. The strange pain or sensation Trenae had felt earlier stabbed her stomach again. She whimpered helplessly from the pain, persisting to cover her face with trembling hands. He continued bringing her closer, closer, until her face pressed lightly against his upper chest. His left arm, the arm that had been under her head, he now used too, embracing around her body. She became absolutely at his mercy, his honesty as well.

With her hands still covering her face, she felt it difficult to breathe. But if I move my hands, where will I put them? “Ra’am?” she asked. She slid her hands apart and looked toward his face. His hand began stroking over her back, up and down. It felt comforting, reassuring. Nevertheless, she continued to tremble.  

“I know you are scared.” His deep voice vibrated within her body. “You have been shaking for so long. Try to relax. Hold on to me. I promise, I will not do anything but hold you close. Shut your eyes, go to sleep.” Ra’am inhaled and sighed deeply, a sigh of someone grateful, content, his chest expanding against her, behavior much like a human being.

His words, his last words, inflected so tenderly, patiently. Somehow, they soothed Trenae into submission. Placing aside her fear, she glided her trembling palms from near her face to over his chest, moving upwards, sideways along the shirt covering his skin, placing one hand on his upper left shoulder and her other hand over the right side of his body. While she did so, a warm sensation, like earlier, when he first held her, flowed from Ra’am’s hand, his hand yet softly stroking up and down over her back. The warm sensation penetrated inside her rib cage and then flowed to her spinal cord, where it caused a light tingle. Amazingly, the sensation did just as before, quickly reducing the rate of her racing heart, her rapid breathing, her shaking body.

But the sensation frightened her just the same, forcing her to do the only thing she could now; she embraced Ra’am tighter. She could feel her legs press against the coarse jean material covering his legs. She shuddered for a moment, to think how incredibly near their two bodies were. Yet it didn’t matter. She snuggled her face sideways against the shirt over his chest and hugged his solid, sinewy body with all the strength she could find. Though his body was inundated with tough geed’aso fibers, and had a faint coppery scent, his body also felt warm, even slightly pliable. She could hear his heart beating now, pounding similar to a human’s heart, but with a slower, slight metallic clang.    

As Ra’am embraced her, gently stroked her back, Trenae suddenly realized she needed him so desperately, for so many reasons. All the fear, pain, sorrow, betrayal, loneliness, and rejection that people had inflicted upon her in the past year, needed to be erased from her mind, released from her soul. This was the first time in so long she had actually felt comfort.  Even though, as she hugged him tightly, she knew the intimate contact might entice him further; she could feel her breasts press against his chest. Nevertheless she could no longer control her desire. The need for someone to care for her and hold her very, very close, weighed utmost against anything else. Ra’am did know what she needed.

But even though she hugged him tightly, Ra’am held her to the same degree as when he first pulled her near. Only cautiously and gently did he press her against his strong body, continuing to glide his hand along her back, allowing the negee’ah ragoo’a to flow welcomingly into her exhausted body. He was keeping his word.

Slowly, quietly Trenae felt herself dive into a relaxed and peaceful state, her thoughts focusing only on positive, docile scenes and ideas. For some reason, she could no longer fear him nor loathe him. Her breathing slowed and calmed, her body became warm and still. And as she began flying toward a sleeping condition, floating, drifting, and finally entering a dream-like trance, the last thought she had before entering her dreams, without any internal fight or trepidation, was how wonderful it would feel if Ra’am did make love to her now, with the care, gentleness, and passion his touch and emotions exhibited. It would feel so good…so good…

















                                                           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.”

<;span style='mso-tab-count:1'>            “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 human 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.”…