Chapter 13



After Trenae had removed her jacket and sat on the blue and white sofa, Jenny came in from the kitchen. This time, she brought a tray filled with a small colorful china teapot and two matching china teacups, different from the cups she used on their first visit. Jenny placed the tray on the coffee table. Once done, she walked over to the lamp table near the porch windows and returned with a paper.

“Is this Stiles?” Jenny asked, placing the paper in Trenae’s hands.

Trenae looked down at the photo on the paper. “Where did you get this?”

“From the local police. A cop I know, let me print it out. It’s from the FBI Most Wanted. Is it him?”

Bringing the photo closer to her face, Trenae studied the image carefully. The hair appeared different, but the face looked the same. She read the name. Her skin crawled. “Yeah, that’s him.” She looked up at Jenny. “So that’s his real name, huh?”

Jenny sat down in her red sofa chair. “If that’s him, then you definitely need to go to the FBI, Trenae, no doubt in my mind.”

As Jenny began filling the cups with tea, Trenae studied her face. “I will, eventually…You’re obviously curious, checking out my story.”

“Well, I’m a reporter, that’s what I do. And if we can find some hard evidence, and file a report with the FBI or honest police, then I can print the story.”

Trenae took a deep, staggered breath, crossed her arms near her lower stomach, on top of her knees, and leaned over a little. “Yeah, I know. But I’m still really scared.”

Jenny handed her a cup. “Here, for you. An Herbal tea blend.” Trenae carefully took the hot cup. “Don’t worry about it, for now. Just think about it, give it a few days. I’m sure they won’t find him soon anyway, so no hurry. We’ll just work on getting the rest of your story done, for now.”

The mini-recorder, note pad, and pencil already lay on the coffee table, obviously placed there before she showed up. Jenny turned on the recorder and picked up her note pad. “So, here we are again.” She looked at some previous notes. “We left off, with Ra’am interested in meeting a professor, right?”

“Yes. Dr. David Stein, a professor of paleontology. Ra’am searched the Internet and found out his office hours, when he would meet with students and others to discuss things. So it was a Thursday night, the 11th of January that he decided we should go.

“After we ate supper, I noticed my shirt was dirty, so I went to my room. While I was looking through my clothes, I noticed the rock from the earth’s core, on the floor by the wall. It suddenly hit me then, that this was the perfect opportunity to have someone, some scientist, examine it! So, I wrapped it in one of my shirts and stuffed it in this other purse I had, a much bigger one than the little one I took to the night club.”

“Yeah, I was gonna say.”

“Really. Fortunately, this purse was leather and black, or otherwise--”

“The rock was so heavy.”

“Oh, yeah! But I really wanted someone to see it, so…I hid it from Ra’am, didn’t let him see it or notice how my purse hung on my shoulders, but that was hard! I just had to know for sure that this rock was real.

“So anyway, I went back by Ra’am. L.B. was good that night, not too excited. Ra’am also said it was 48 degrees in Berkeley, so to wear my jacket. He also told me to wear jeans and those hiking boots I had, since we would be walking a bit. He wore a red tee shirt and black jeans, and looked kind of creepy, scary.”


“Just the way he looked, I guess. And on the way there, he told me he didn’t like Dr. Stein’s deception. Some of his temper came through.”

“He was that upset?”

“Well, I never knew for sure with him.” She became quiet a moment, thinking. “But he told me he just wanted to talk with Dr. Stein.

“I made sure I kept my purse on my lap, and just held it there, to not look suspicious. And eventually, we made it to the San Francisco area. I was surprised, since it was the same area, you know, by the Golden Gate Bridge where we were before--”

“Before you went to the earth’s core,” Jenny interrupted. “How ironic.”

“I know! But we didn’t go by the ocean or continental shelf. We went to Berkeley, just a little east of San Francisco. At first, Ra’am wanted to have us come up ground from this park, Tilden Park, which had plenty of open space, a golf course. We would’ve walked quite a few miles to the university, so I told him no, I couldn’t do it tonight.”

“Because of the rock?”

“Yes, exactly, though I didn’t tell him that, of course. So, he seemed a little disappointed at first, since he looked forward to walking around the area, especially too because we were early. But, instead, he found a suitable spot on the campus, away from too many people.”

“I’m just curious…do they have a winter there?”

“Actually, I wondered the same thing. Ra’am told me they don’t, that it stays around  the 50’ to 70’s all year round because of the ocean. But the leaves do change a little on the trees, but…it sounds nice, huh?”
            “Oh, I don’t know. I like the seasons.”

            She smiled at Jenny. “Well, we said good-bye to L.B. Ra’am hugged him. I told Ra’am that he seemed happy toward me and  L.B. tonight. But he said, well, see how you feel later, after I meet with the paleontologist.”

“Hmm. I’m more curious now.”

“So, we left Ha-Ta by some trees, in the northwestern area of the campus. Ra’am was very careful beforehand- to make sure no one was too close, nearby. And luckily, no one saw us come up ground.”

“Was he camouflaged?”

“Yes, definitely. He didn’t want to scare any students. However, he did plan on eventually showing his true self to the doc.

“We started on a walkway, headed toward this big science building called the Valley Life Sciences building. It was twilight, but plenty of lights around from the campus.” Trenae stared ahead, toward the TV wooden shelves, remembering. “It’s funny. Ra’am seemed to stand out, no matter where he went. There were a couple of really tall guys, like Ra’am, walking toward us. They kept staring and staring.” She looked back at Jenny. “Finally, when we got near them, they asked Ra’am if he was a basketball player, for the university’s team. He told them no, that he was just a scientist looking to talk to a professor. But they were nice. They told him if he ever wanted to switch gears, play basketball, he should.”

“Did they notice anything different about Ra’am, or looked intimidated…by him?”

 “Yes, they looked a little intimidated, and I don’t think they could figure what else was wrong, but they seemed to sense something.”


“And so we finally entered the building.” Trenae leaned back in the sofa, resting her arms in her lap, knowing a long tedious recount of events lay ahead. “All I could think about was regretting the dumb rock in my purse. It had become really heavy, and I couldn’t wait to put it down somewhere. We entered through this nice stairway…I remember thinking how impressive and large the science building was. Ra’am knew exactly where to go, to a lower level. We passed by dinosaur relics and displays, and finally we ended up near Dr. Stein’s lab room, his office that evening too. But we were early, like by 20 minutes. So, we sat in some nearby seats. I wanted to wander around, after I put my purse down, and look at the paleontology museum displays, out in the halls, but Ra’am told me no. He wanted me near him and ready to go, once Dr. Stein was finished.”

“Was Dr. Stein with someone?”

“Yes, apparently a student. Since the door was open, I could see them…looked like they were discussing some diagrams on a wall. Ra’am just sat still.”

“Calm before the storm, hey?”

She gave Jenny a crooked smile. “Yes, I guess you can say that about him. But finally, we went in.”…



…An ache in her stomach, her nerves frazzled, and the purse crushing down her shoulders, Trenae found it difficult to walk through the doorway, after the student left the room. Here was Dr. Stein, approaching them, a pillar of the academic community, an admired, respected, and probably extremely intelligent individual. Suddenly, she felt small, insignificant, out of place, and more than anything, worried. How would Ra’am treat this man?

“Hello,” Dr. Stein said, holding his hand out. “How can I help you?” 

Ra’am took his hand and shook it briefly.  “I am Ra’ammahkar, although you may call me Ra’am. And this is my friend Trenae.”

Done shaking Ra’am’s hand, the professor shook Trenae’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” she said. Dr. Stein’s eyes quickly secured her attention; bordered by black, bushy eyebrows and a thick-lens pair of glasses, they were small, dark, and beady, almost as intense as Ra’am’s. Damn, my hand is sweaty. He let her go.

“Are you two students of mine?” Dr. Stein asked. His voice and mannerisms seemed pleasant, though his eyes yet disturbed her. “I have so many in the lecture halls, I can never remember them all!”

“No, we are not,” Ra’am said. “But I am here to ask you some questions, since you are a paleontologist.”

Studying Dr. Stein some more, she noticed somehow he didn’t match his last name. He had the skin and facial features of a man from India.

“Yes, that is true, that’s me.” Dr. Stein smiled, affirming Ra’am’s statement.

Dr. Stein began leading them into the lab office, walking toward a desk on the left side of the room. He looked to be about 5’10” or 5’ 11’ tall, thick black hair covering his head. With his intense eyes and Ra’am’s combustible personality, Trenae quickly determined a difficult meeting lay ahead.

“Actually,” Dr. Stein said, walking, “my doctorate is in geology, but I have extensive experience in paleontology, especially in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras, in particular the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and the recent epochs of the Pliocene and Pleistocene.”

Ra’am crossed his arms and began looking around the room, still following Dr. Stein. “You also have experience with mastodons and mammoths?”

Dr. Stein neared his desk. “Yes, actually, I have done research with mammoths. Come over here, we can sit by my desk.”

Even though Dr. Stein smiled and appeared relaxed, Trenae noticed he kept track of Ra’am’s movements. She also noticed how he resembled a computer nerd more than a hands-on, dirt digging, fossil searching paleontologist, especially with his red and white stripped shirt, weighed down on top by a large pocket filled with pens, pencils, and a ruler or two. He also wore a goofy pair of khaki pants, which just didn’t seem to fit correctly. Disheveled, yet without doubt brilliant.

“Oh, and by the way young lady,” Dr. Stein said. “Could you please close the door? There will be some evening classes ending soon and this will keep the noise level low.”

“Yes, that’s no problem,” she said. First, though, she walked a few steps and laid her purse on the floor, near a chair by the professor’s desk. Phew, finally. She had a plan.

After walking over and closing the door, she began stepping back to Ra’am. She gazed around the room at the same time. Four tables with sinks and other apparatuses dwelled in the room, resembling chemistry or biology workstations. Upon each table’s surface, various tools and other items lay dormant, while some high stools bordered the tables’ perimeters. She lifted her gaze, looking beyond the tables. Two lofty, rectangular windows, each spaced apart slightly and framed at the top with Venetian blinds, took up most of the room’s outside wall. Like a compressed accordion, the blinds folded tightly at the windows’ top, framing in several tree branches faintly visible from outside, since the outside now grew darker.

“I would prefer to stand, if you do not mind,” Ra’am said. “Most chairs are a little too uncomfortable for me.”

Dr. Stein walked around his desk, to the other side, where his chair resided near a blackboard-covered wall. He stared curiously at Ra’am. “Yes, I can understand. You are very tall. How tall are you?”    

“Seven feet, two inches,” Ra’am answered. Unusual for Ra’am, he avoided eye contact with the professor and simply walked and looked around the room.

 From the blackboard’s bottom chalk holder, behind the professor’s desk, Dr. Stein picked up an eraser and began powdering off writing on the blackboard, seeming to ignore both of them for a moment, his back facing them. Trenae instantly felt uncomfortable, tired. She walked over to the chair in front of the professor’s desk and sat down. It felt good.

“There, now,” Dr. Stein said, turning around. The blackboard was empty. “What can I do for you two then? You can lean on one of those stools, if you like.”

Instead, Ra’am moved over to one to the chemistry tables closest to Dr. Stein’s desk and leaned his backside against it, facing the desk. His arms still crossed, he stared at the professor. Fortunately Ra’am’s jacket was still on. But Trenae felt warm. She quietly began removing her jacket, deciding to place it on the back of the chair.

“Thank you, but I will be fine here,” Ra’am said..

“Now then, what is your question?” 

“I am doing some research…and I need some substantial examples of evolution,” Ra’am stated. She felt amazed at how comfortable he appeared. Me, I’m a wreck.

“Research?” Dr. Stein asked. “What kind of research?”

“Actually, I am an astro-biologist studying life on this planet, and other planets.”

She quickly noticed Ra’am didn’t lie. But somehow, his words flew right over the professor.

“Interesting. You look quite young,” Dr. Stein said. “Then you have had training in evolution.”

“Yes, but I need you to refresh my memory. And bring me up to date, if you could.” Ra’am stared, his stare intense, into Dr. Stein’s eyes.

The professor squirmed and moved a little. More worry clenched Trenae.

“There are thousands of examples I could give,” Dr. Stein said. He stared back at Ra’am, though not as intensely. “I know some recent examples and some old standbys. One of my old favorites is the marsupials. Here we have a Superorder of different species, which have many species similar to placental animals. We have both extinct and extant marsupial mice, cats, lions, bear-like animals, shrews, squirrels, and others. There seems to have been both a convergent and parallel evolutionary process with these animals, beginning some 65 million years ago, especially with the dispersion of Pangaea. As you know, the marsupials started in the Americas, but eventually flourished in Australia as the competition between the marsupials and placentals proved to be too overwhelming for the marsupials in the Americas…save for the occasional opossum here and there.”

Continuing to stare, Ra’am seemed to listen closely, while Dr. Stein again appeared uncomfortable. The professor arose from his seat and strolled in front of his desk.

“I also find it very interesting,” said Dr. Stein, “how marsupials differ from placental animals. Marsupials are less intelligent and have restricted ability to produce loud vocal sounds. None of them produce cries of hunger or sounds of contentment when young.” He crossed his arms, like Ra’am. “Quite fascinating, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes, it is interesting,” Ra’am answered, still staring down at Dr. Stein.

The professor leaned against the front of his desk, resting his hands on the desk’s surface and tilting his head up slightly, to face Ra’am. “I also love to convince my students with the similarity between many different species having common genetic material. Like cytochrome c, for example, a protein found in many different animals and man. Based on one or two changes in nucleotide substitutions, we can work out a phylogenetic tree and show the evolution of fish and insects, on up to man. For instance, the nucleotide difference between man and monkey is only one, as with the horse and donkey. But the difference between man and tuna is 31 changes. You see the difference?”

“Yes, I do,” Ra’am answered. “Except for the fact you failed to mention that changing one nucleotide does not take into consideration the indispensable conserved amino acids of cytochrome c and how it developed from species to species. Just because one nucleotide varies, does not determine how cytochrome c evolved in other species, long before man or monkey.”

Confusion sprung forth across Dr. Stein’s face. “Hey, uh…hold on a minute. You want to explain that again? I’m a little tired. It’s been a long day.”

Ra’am stood up straight. “Yes, if I can show you on your chalk board.”

“Sure, sure, by all means, show me,” Dr. Stein said, leaving his desk.

As both beings walked over to the far end side of the blackboard, to the far right of Dr. Stein’s desk front, Trenae stood up from her chair. She walked toward them. Ra’am picked up a piece of chalk and leaned over somewhat, bending at his knees, almost near eye level of the professor. He began to write letters and numbers on the board.

“As you probably know,” Ra’am said, writing, “a monkey has threonine, where as a human has isoleucine, in the 67th position of cytochrome c. The four codons for threonine in their RNA coding are ACU, ACC, ACA, and ACG. And the codons for isoleucine are AUU, AUC, and AUA.”

The professor agreed with a brief “uh-huh” each time Ra’am wrote each codon and amino acid on the board.

“Now,” Ra’am said, “if the monkey had ACU, ACC, or ACA at the supposed time that his cytochrome c evolved into the human’s, or rather Australopithecus or some other primate close in the evolutionary ladder to Homo sapiens, then just one point mutation would have been needed to make the isoleucine amino acid. Or, in other words, a 1 in 4 chance, since there is adenine, guanine, cytocine and uracil in which to fill the proper spot.”

Dr. Stein continued to eyeball Ra’am’s writing. Ra’am looked at him, closely. “Do you understand?”

“Yes…I believe so,” Dr. Stein said.

“In other words, there is a 25% chance that threonine would form into isoleucine given those 3 codons for threonine. Or, a 75% chance that it would not form, which is a possible chance.”

“Yes, and especially given the millions of years of which primates evolved,” Dr. Stein said.

Ra’am gave him a sly smile. “However, if the threonine codon had been ACG at the supposed time of mutation, then two point mutations would have been needed to produce an isoleucine codon. Therefore, we are talking ¼ multiplied by ¼, or odds of 1/16 or 6.25%, since we must use the product of both for our answer.”

“Yes, yes, basic probability and statistics,” Dr. Stein said. “I understand.”

“Again, rather acceptable odds, except that natural selection would fight against two point mutations occurring at the same time. And also, 6.25% means that there was a 93.75% chance that the mutation would not occur.”

“Well,” said Dr. Stein, “I’m sure it occurred with the other 3 codons for threonine. It would have had to…happen that way, given the better odds.”

Dr. Stein yet stared at the blackboard. Ra’am grinned at him.

“Yes, you are probably right,” Ra’am said. “But you do not know for sure. And also, as I just said prior, natural selection would fight against it, only preserving a strong, whole gene, whereas a mutation would most likely be quickly weeded out, especially by the proof-reading mechanisms of DNA polymerase.”

“Of course, I’ve heard that,” Dr. Stein said. A little irritation or impatience tarnished his voice. “But we are talking about a point mutation here, which is how alleles are produced. And as you know, alleles are what give us the foundation of evolution, through slight, various changes in species over time.”

“Yes. I am aware…but here is my problem. The odds of one or two point mutations occurring are not impossible. But what about your phylogenetic tree for cytochrome c and the vast nucleotide changes between the earlier species? For instance, the nucleotide changes between a rattlesnake and a tuna are about 38 and between Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker's yeast and Candida albicans, another yeast, it is 41. Even between a rabbit and a kangaroo it is 7.”

“Yes, true, but again,” Dr. Stein said, “we’re talking over millions and millions of years of evolution. The odds are helped greatly by time.”

“Are they?” Ra’am began writing further mathematical equations on the blackboard. “Let us assume that we take a 1 in 4 stance for each point mutation at each nucleotide difference between the yeasts and between the snake and tuna. For the latter, it would be 1 chance in about 7.7x10 to the 22nd power, and for the 2 yeasts, it would be about 4.9x10 to the 24th power.”

Trenae stepped a little closer to the blackboard. Memories came rushing back from high school; she could see that Ra’am was using scientific notation.

“But Mr. Mahkar, look…with time, the odds improve. You must realize this. And how did you figure these numbers so quickly?”

“I did it in my head. But let me show you what happens when millions of years are computed into these equations.” Ra’am wrote further equations on the board. More irritation and confusion marred Dr. Stein’s face, his eyes watching the alien. Writing a long string of numbers into scientific notation, Ra’am appeared calm, yet a little over-bearing. “As you see, time will not help the chances,” Ra’am finally said.

The professor turned away from the blackboard and walked toward his desk. After placing the chalk down, Ra’am slowly followed Dr. Stein. Trenae followed them too.

“Look, I thought you wanted some proof of evolution,” Dr. Stein said. “You seem, instead, to be trying to disprove it.”

Ra’am stood in front of the professor’s desk, crossing his arms again. “No,” he said gently. “I still do want some proof, some proof that is quite indisputable.”

“Well, the marsupials then,” Dr. Stein said.

“No, something more.”

Dr. Stein sat in his chair behind the desk. He appeared tired and overwhelmed, resting his hands on the desk. “Another good example, I believe, is the Drosophila flies or the vinegar or fruit flies. Are you familiar with them?”

Ra’am returned to his original spot by the chemistry table and leaned against its edge. “Yes, I know of them.”

“Their life cycle is short, around 2 weeks, so we have been able to make many observations about variations within these species. Isolated Drosophila in Hawaii, which is, of course, cut off from other areas, look quite similar to their counterparts in other countries, yet…yet, they are unable to reproduce successfully with their counterparts in the other countries, often producing non-viable hybrids or no off spring at all. This is a PERFECT example of evolution right before our eyes. Because if they were still the same species, they would be able to reproduce successfully with the others.”

“All right,” said Ra’am. “There seems to have been major changes in their phonetic or micro-evolutionary process. But to me, that seems to be a variation among the same species. As there are lions and tigers, or various breeds of dogs, so there are various breeds of Drosophila.”

“Yes, BUT! The Drosophila cannot interbreed!” Dr. Stein said excitedly. “That classifies them more in terms of phyletic evolution, a new species forming.”

Ra’am walked away from the table and began pacing back and forth slowly in front of the professor’s desk. “But!” he said, similar to Dr. Stein’s tone, “they never developed into a morphologically different species. They never transformed into another insect or small fish or small reptile. They still remained Drosophila!”

“Well,” Dr. Stein said, laughing roughly to himself. He placed his hands behind his head and tilted his chair back against the wall. “Some scientists have found that the differentiation between humans and apes is not much different than the difference between the similar-looking Drosophila flies. Now the Drosophila may not look much different to us, but we can see the difference between apes and humans. Thus, slight allele variations over time can produce new species. That surely…is what happened between primates and man.”

Slowing his movement, Ra’am stared into the professor’s eyes. Only this time, his stare was more obvious and serious. Trenae sat back down in the chair by the desk front. She moved the chair slowly, quietly against the wall behind it. Just a matter of time before something explosive happened between these two male beings.

“Dr. Stein,” Ra’am said, pausing his steps. “Are you aware of the problems with cladistics, the process whereby paleoanthropologists select tooth and bone measurements of many different fossils, sometimes hundreds, and enter the data into computerized statistical analysis?”

“Yes, of course I’m aware of that.”

“Do you realize there have been problems with this, as in the growth process from fetal development to adulthood?”

“Yes, yes…”

Ra’am started pacing again, back and forth in front of the professor’s desk, only less intensely than before. “Apparently, paleoanthropologists have been using jaw, forehead, teeth, and skull measurements for awhile now, to determine where the primate Australopithecine and Homo sapiens occurs in the phylogenic tree. But, as one of these species grows into an adult from infancy, there is a cascade of molecular processes, propelled by certain genes, which shape and arrange the bones. However, these bone growths are affected and influenced by many environmental factors, like diet, weather, availability of food, climate, disease, the genetics of the parents--”

“Yes,” Dr. Stein said. “I know this, and genetic testing has shown that humans and chimpanzees share a close evolutionary past, where as gorillas and orangutans apparently evolved along a separate line and--”

“But…the cladistical analysis places orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees evolving along the same line, and humans evolving along a separate line!” Ra’am interrupted. “And then there have been even further cladistical analysis upon baboons, some other monkeys and apes, which show gorillas and chimpanzees evolved along one line, but humans and orangutans evolved along another!”

“Yes, yes, what is your point?” Dr. Stein asked, now perturbed.

Another sly grin curled Ra’am’s mouth, his steps yet leading him back and forth in front of the professor’s desk, pausing briefly now and then. “Rather inconsistent, would you not agree?”

Dr. Stein brought his arms down from behind his head and crossed them in front of his chest. He avoided Ra’am’s stare. “Not really. There is much promise of deciphering the skeletal developments of primates through Homeobox genes. As you are probably aware, those are the vertebrate DNA sequences, which control the shape of the fetal body, especially integrated sections of the skeleton, rather than individual bones…Like the Homeobox which controls the forearm and all fingers, except the thumb. A little evolutionary tweaking of these genes or their proteins could have easily transformed the hand and arm proportions of modern primates, or our ancestors. It is a great approach to the problem of a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. It would allow for a sudden origin of a species, or even be used in the punctuated equilibrium theory of evolution!”

Ra’am paused his steps. Slowly Dr. Stein raised his gaze. Trenae sensed discomfort from Dr. Stein, as the professor stared at Ra’am.

“That is an interesting theory,” Ra’am said, persisting in his stare. “However, it again conflicts with what I told you previously, about the mathematical impossibility of more than one point mutation occurring at a time!”

Trying to be secretive, she studied Dr. Stein’s face. Anger was growing within him.

“Mr. Mahkar, I am truly sensing that you are here more to argue with me about evolution, than you are looking for good examples! What exactly is your agenda, since you are not a student? I probably have legitimate students outside my door right now, waiting for homework help. If it is a discussion you’re looking for, I can direct you to several professors, available during the daytime.”

Ra’am removed his powerful gaze from the professor and began pacing once more. “I apologize…I simply want a convincing example, one I cannot find fault with. I am not trying to upset you, just question you.”

Though surprised by Ra’am’s apologetic and mild response, Trenae instantly worried it masked an explosive encounter laying ahead. Dr. Stein arose from his chair and walked around to the front of the desk.

Ra’am stopped his pacing and fastened his gaze on the professor.

“Look,” Dr. Stein said, “if you follow me to the wall over here, I can show you a print-out from the Internet…maybe it will help.”

While Ra’am followed the professor, Trenae stood up and followed them too. Dr. Stein led them pass her right, to a section of the side wall about halfway between the professor’s desk and the doorway. There, on a beige bulletin board cluttered various papers and notes.

“Apparently,” Dr. Stein said, reading one paper, “this experiment was done by Shikano, in 1990. He claims to have witnessed a morphological change, which you are so concerned with, in an unidentified bacterium when this particular bacterium was grown in the presence of a ciliate predator. The normal size of the individual bacteria was around 1.5 um rod. But after 8-10 weeks of growing with the ciliate predator, the bacterium grew to a 20 um long cells, and the cells had no cross walls.” Dr. Stein followed along the words with his fingertips. “And, and…and then here…” Shoot, she worried, he’s getting frustrated and nervous. “…talks about how filaments of this type have developed in chlorella too. Or here it mentions an experiment by Nakajima and Karihara, 1994, which showed how bacterium developed into a chain of bacterial cells in the presence of protozoal grazers. So you see, this is quite a good example of organisms undergoing morphological changes to accommodate their changing environments.”

Dr. Stein looked up into Ra’am’s face. “But I’m sure you can use the Internet and obtain further examples yourself.”

 “Actually, Dr. Stein, this is a good example,” Ra’am said, eyes glaring. “Yet unfortunately, I can puncture holes in it too. Is not this similar to a tree seed, blown onto the side of a rock strewn mountain, and somehow taking root and growing? It must accommodate to its environment, its roots may have to circle rocks, or dig deeper than normal. I have seen incidences of this myself. And again, yes, the bacterium did change their shape, but they did not become another species, like an amoeba or hydra.”

Anger darkened Dr. Stein’s face. “But the key is time! Time, millions of years, and various, slow changes, which produce new species! I thought you understood!”

“Oh, I understand all right,” Ra’am said. He smiled.

Leaving her and Ra’am, Dr. Stein walked to the chemistry table closest to the bulletin board, just about 5 feet behind Ra’am. He lifted a stool from the floor and placed it upside down on the table’s surface. And he did the same to another stool, and another. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude,” he said, “but I need to prepare the room for the janitor.”

Ra’am started removing his jacket. Trenae gaped in horror. No, Dr. Stein can see Ra’am’s koaksekhel then!

After completely removing his jacket, he handed it to her. She didn’t say a word, but communicated silently with worry and concern in her eyes, stepping over and placing the jacket on the back of her chair. Ra’am smiled a little, and then winked at her. Well, he never did that before. Her nerves yet frayed, nonetheless.

She looked at Dr. Stein. The professor appeared caught in the middle. On the one hand, he wanted Ra’am to leave and not talk anymore; yet on the other hand, she sensed he instinctively realized he shouldn’t provoke this large, intense person. His preoccupation with lifting the stools appeared an attempt to bore his visitors, influence them to leave. Yet Ra’am didn’t seem ready to go. His jacket off, his koaksekhel catching, reflecting light rays, he started following Dr. Stein around the table.

“Dr. Stein…I know you have probably heard these rebuttals before, but I need to know if geology or paleontology has turned over any new stones, so to speak, on the following. First of all, the problem with how a reptiles’ scales and leathery skin transformed into the extremely complex and intricate growth of feathers on a bird’s body. Of course, scientists may point to Archaeopteryx, but it arrived fully formed, showing no fossil record of any transitional forms. And secondly, why is it, when amphibians, the supposed predecessor to reptiles, transformed to reptiles, their waste product changed from urea to uric acid. But then, when reptiles supposedly transformed into mammals, the waste product changed back to urea. Now…does that not conflict with evolution producing ever advancing and more complex organisms? Why return to an elimination process already used and obviously found primitive?”

Placing the last stool on the table, Dr. Stein looked up at Ra’am. Both beings stood on opposite sides of the table, though Ra’am’s hands leaned on the table. Dr. Stein stared into the alien’s face.

“Yes, those are old arguments, Creationist argu…” Dr. Stein lowered his gaze toward Ra’am’s arm. Slowly he brought his stare back up. “What is that on your arm?”

Ra’am lifted his right arm, moving it around so the professor could view it better. “It is called a koaksekhel and functions primarily as a weapon, communication device, matter miniaturization or expansion processor, and computer system, all in one unit, worn by high ranking military leaders of my people.”

“Your people?” Dr. Stein asked suspiciously. “Who are your people?”

Ra’am didn’t answer, only reaching his arm across the table more, allowing Dr. Stein an even closer observation vantage. “And my people,” he said, “my species, have a highly vexing problem…for evolutionists. Nearly half of our births are not to females, nor even males, but to something we call almehneht. Almehneht are asexual, non-reproducing versions of my species, whose sole purpose is to transmit knowledge, religion, creativity, companionship, and service to others. Not only that, but more males are born of my people than females, which your evolutionary scientists would find quite baffling, as your scientists deem males ‘costly’. Whereas the majority of other animal species have only male and female where I am from, my species does not. It is, shall I say, an enigma.”

“I…I have never heard this before. Where did you say you were from?” Dr. Stein slowly turned from Ra’am, walking toward another table, the table closest to the door.

“But I am still puzzled,” Ra’am said, following the professor, “why, when scientific experiments exposed Drosophila flies to radiation to simulate possible evolutionary processes, over the flies’ short 2 week life cycle, it did cause mutations…it caused deformed organs, legs, wings…or legs growing from the head, or other monstrous occurrences. HOWEVER, it never…changed them into something else.”

“Yes, well…” Dr. Stein continued to lift stools and keep his distance. “You did not answer my question, of where you are from.”

Ra’am didn’t answer. Trenae inched herself back against the wall near the professor’s desk, inhaled a staggered breath, and tried to remain calm. Visions of campus police and security officers surrounding the building and shooting at Ra’am through the windows and doorway haunted her mind.

“And you know, there are other details which bother me,” Ra’am said. He followed Dr. Stein to another table, a table closer to the professor’s desk. “Why are there no turtle fossils that show partially developing shells, such as a small circular hard scale on their backs? Or any fossils, thousands and millions of years later, showing a larger area on the back, slowly demonstrating the transformation of a full turtle shell? And where are the many others, showing the gradual, evolutionary steps necessary to produce a true, modern turtle? NO!” Dr. Stein jumped a little. “Instead, turtles are found in the fossil record fully formed, with no intermediary steps. Why is that, Dr. Stein?”

The professor appeared to grow even more uncomfortable and nervous. “You know as well as I do, Mr. Mahkar,” Dr. Stein said, raising his voice slightly, “that the fossil record is incomplete. But there is hope that we will find more evidence. Digs are going on everyday around the world.”

Ra’am ignored his words. He walked over and stood near the professor’s desk, as Dr. Stein dealt with the stools and tables near the windows. “And then there is protein folding, Dr. Stein, which has your scientists puzzled- how an unfolded protein, with hundreds of millions of potential folded states to choose from, consistently finds the correct fold, within seconds to minutes.” Ra’am’s voice rumbled louder. “This process violates parsimony…things and procedures should be no more complicated than they have to be.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of parsimony.”

“And what of Michael Behe, and his irreducible complexity theory? How the extreme complexities of both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, and the many, many functions they perform, impede an evolutionary solution. Like the incredible intricacy of the steps involved in the making of AMP in the cells and all the intermediary chemical steps used to produce the final result. The intermediary steps have no other purpose, but to produce AMP! Then what were the steps’ original reason to evolve, if AMP did not even originally exist?

“Or the coagulation cascade,” Ra’am said, “which prevents a living organism from bleeding to death? It has over 25 molecular-chemical steps, all which must function completely together, or the organism either bleeds to death or has its entire blood system coagulate and gel. How could just one step of that process decide to have evolved, when all the steps were needed from the very, very IMMEDIATE beginning?

“Or the complexity of cilia? Or the bacterial flagellum, and how its parts resemble a rotary motor, with a paddle, a rotor, and a motor? They are both irreducibly complex. One component,” Ra’am said, bringing his hands together and breaking them apart suddenly, “gone, and the whole system collapses! How does Darwinian evolution, with its step by step process of evolving, account for this?”

“You know, I have had just about enough of your criticisms and irreducible complexity,” Dr. Stein said angrily. “You bring up old, old arguments, that…that I have heard before. You think I haven’t heard of Michael Behe and his ICT theory? Please! You are nothing more than…than a Christian fundamentalist, or…or a creationist! You should leave, now!”

Uh-oh. Trenae nervously clasped her hands together.

Ra’am hurried over to the table by the professor, to a surface free of stools. WHAM! His palms slammed hard, directly across from Dr. Stein. The professor jolted backwards, eyes all whites beneath his glasses. “WRONG, Dr. Stein. I am far, far worse than that. In fact, I am a neo-Darwinist’s worse nightmare! And…I am NOT leaving.” Ra’am’s face now practically touched Dr. Stein’s face, his body lurching across the table.

Dr. Stein began inching backwards. Trenae’s heart raced.

“Th- that’s it, I’m calling security,” Dr. Stein said. He began walking toward his desk.

Her breathing increased, her stomach fell to the floor. She expected Ra’am to grab the professor as he walked by. Instead, Ra’am backed away into a clear opening, between the chemistry tables, and silently commanded his koaksekhel to open.  Holding his right arm out, he made one quick, complete turn, as a wide, triangular blue light beamed out from the koaksekhel and touched every wall, floor and ceiling section of the room. Sounds trailed his motion; Venetian blinds dropped shut, the door clicked, and the lights flickered, yet remained lit.

She turned left, to see the professor. Now he was running. When he reached his desk, he leaned down and frantically grabbed something beneath its surface, repeatedly pressing it with his hand. He lifted his head. It didn’t respond. She suddenly felt compassion and concern for Dr. Stein, his face blanketing pale and odd breathing sounds wheezing from his mouth.

“Security is not going to come,” Ra’am said. He strolled confidently toward the professor’s desk. “I am sorry if I frightened you. I will try to remain calm from here forth.”

Dr. Stein straightened. His gaze rolled left, toward the windows. Of course. He had heard the noise while rushing to his desk, but could not observe the noise’s furry. I’m sure he saw that blue light, though.

“Wh- what is going on?” Dr. Stein asked. “Why are you doing this?”

Ra’am lifted his right arm, at an angle near his chest. The hemoom prodoh camouflage streamed from Ra’am’s skin, tunneling into his koaksekhel. A curious, yet frightened child, watching an unbelievable magic trick became Dr. Stein, his face etched with terror and wonder. Ra’am continued stepping closer.

“Who are you, really…and what do you want from me?” Dr. Stein asked, fear drenching his words.

Ra’am stopped and crossed his arms over his chest, standing tall, stoical before the desk. “I am an ometvah, from the planet Harkoav, in what you call the Andromeda galaxy.”

Dr. Stein began trembling. Nearly falling into his seat, he leaned over and held onto his desk.

Alarm wounded Trenae’s soul. She sped over and behind the desk, standing by him. “Dr. Stein, are you all right?” She picked up his hand, holding it warmly.

“We are not going to hurt you, David,” Ra’am said. He moved closer to the desk, uncrossing his arms.

Dr. Stein looked at Ra’am. He heard his first name, of course. Then he looked at her. “Why are you two doing this? I know he is not an alien. But just the fact that he’s deranged enough, to say it, scares me…” He glanced back at Ra’am. “You want money, I’ll give you--”

“No,” Trenae said. “No, Dr. Stein, we are not going to hurt you, or want your money.” She felt even more sadness for the man. Lifting the professor’s hand with both hands now, she slowly glanced from Ra’am to him. “Believe me, we don’t need it. But Ra’am is not lying. He IS an alien from another galaxy.”

Dr. Stein only stared in her face, ignoring Ra’am. “That is impossible. The Andromeda galaxy is millions of light years away.”

“Look at me carefully, Dr. Stein,” Ra’am said, placing his hands on the desk, lowering his face to about 12 inches from Dr. Stein’s eyes. “Have you ever seen features such as mine, on any human?”

“Cuhh!” Dr. Stein gasped, turning from Trenae. His eyes widened.

 Taking Dr. Stein’s free hand, Ra’am carefully placed the professor’s fingertips on his face. “You feel these blue tendons, just beneath my skin? They are called geed’aso, a physical characteristic of our males and almehneht, giving strength, speed, agility, and a form of exoskeleton protection.” He began pressing and stroking the professor’s fingertips on various areas of his face, and even his thick hair strands. “They are colored by a cupredoxin-type protein. And our muscles and bones are different too, having far greater agility, speed capabilities, and strength than human muscles and bones.”

The professor’s eyes widened even more beneath his glasses, with Ra’am persisting to have him feel his face. Trenae still gently held the professor’s other hand.

“And you see my eyes? Have you ever seen eyes like mine, with pitch-black irises, surrounded by dark aqua sclera? Or my hair? And what about my teeth?” Ra’am opened his mouth for a few seconds, and then closed it, yet smiled temporarily, so the professor could still get a good gander at his teeth. “Have you ever seen blue-tinted teeth?”

Appearing less frightened and instead more curious, Dr. Stein began to feel Ra’am’s facial skin on his own. Ra’am released the professor’s hand.

“Your flesh…it is so taut. Your muscles give, yet feel so strong.” Dr. Stein lowered his gazed and reached out to touch Ra’am’s hands and arms. Trenae released her hands too. “You have no hair on your arm. And…your fingernails…I have never seen fingernails like that before, most certainly not!” Dr. Stein even tried to pry off one of Ra’am’s nails.

“I assure you, Dr. Stein, I am not a fake. If you would like a demonstration of what I am capable, I can show you.”

Dr. Stein didn’t respond. He began touching, smoothing Ra’am’s koaksekhel. He paused on the raised inscriptions. “That looks like Hebrew…yes, it looks familiar.”

Ra’am carefully removed himself from Dr. Stein’s grasp, stood upright, and backed away from the desk. “We call it Ra’yonah, and yes, it is similar to Hebrew, yet differing too.”

Dr. Stein looked up into Ra’am’s face. “I do not feel as though any of this is happening. Am I hallucinating or dreaming?” He turned to Trenae.

Softly she touched the professor on his shoulder with one of her hands. “Dr. Stein, trust me, I know what you’re going through. I could not believe my eyes when I first saw him.”

“You’re…you’re not an alien too?” His voice was frazzled, child-like.

“No, I am not.” She smiled. “But I know how you feel. It’ll be all right, just be calm.” She gently patted his shoulder.

“Trenae, we do not have much time,” Ra’am said, his deep voice commanding. “Please bring Dr. Stein to the far end of the blackboard.”

Obeying him, she carefully coaxed the professor to walk with her. Ra’am tried to stay in pace with them. Great concern and sympathy possessed Trenae, stepping with him, beholding how a vibrant, brilliant doctor of paleontology had been reduced to a pathetic, trembling creature. When she had first observed Dr. Stein, she felt awestruck; she looked up to him. But now, she guided him. What a reversal!

She arrived with Dr. Stein, standing near Ra’am. Once by the desired blackboard section, Ra’am picked up a piece of chalk and began writing. She immediately recognized his design. He drew a double helix, as for DNA. And beside the double helix, he began to write mathematical equations. At first, they were a recognizable language. Yet next, he began to write numerals and various other inscriptions she had never seen before. She looked up at Dr. Stein. He stared in disbelief.

“When I first came to your planet,” Ra’am said, continuing to write, “and learned your theory of evolution, I quickly assumed your world even more backwards, primitive, or simply ignorant than I had originally assumed. After all, our technology was greatly advanced from yours, so it was an obvious assumption.

“However, I soon realized that for years now, especially in the 1930’s and 1940’s when those in the field of thermodynamics began to have doubt of this theory, there have been scientists amongst your planet who have questioned the validity of neo-Darwinism and the theory of evolution. And I also further learned, that in some parts of your world, evolution had been used as a tool to subdue the people into an atheistic mind frame. Like the discovery of Peking man in Chou-Kou-tien cave, near Peking, for instance. There is speculation that the skull and bone remains were falsified to show a transitional form of man, a Homo erectus. Later, though, evidence showed how both monkey and human parts were brought together, deceitfully, to accomplish this. And then, in 1941, the remains were removed because of imminent Japanese invasion. After this, the fossils were never recovered. Yet the Chinese communist government used this propaganda to destroy the belief in God and convert an entire population to a communist way of thinking.”

Dr. Stein looked up at Ra’am. “You believe in God?”

Ra’am turned and looked down at the professor, moving far too swiftly. Dr. Stein jolted a little. Trenae sensed Dr. Stein had witnessed his final display of proof, for he appeared more convinced.

“You find that hard to accept?” Ra’am asked.

Dr. Stein bowed his head down a little, cowering from Ra’am’s searing stare. Dr. Stein looked back at the blackboard.

Ra’am seemed vindicated and continued to write. “Of course, what I am saying you have probably heard many times before, as you said, from the creationists versus neo-Darwinist arguments. But, at least now I have your full attention and will not be wasting my breath.” He paused and gave Dr. Stein a fleeting smile. “I find it very interesting that in 1910-1912, a man named Charles Dawsen found some cranium, jaw, and other bone specimens in a gravel formation at Barkham Manor on Piltdown common, near Lewes, Sussex…on the British Isle. He brought the remains to a paleontologist at a nearby museum. The remains were quickly accepted by English scientists as authentic links between apes and early humans. Further research turned up samples of Neanderthal and Australopithecus at the same site around 1930.

“However,” Ra’am said, writing more numerals, “in 1926, the Piltdown gravels were found to be far less ancient than they were originally thought to be. And then in 1953-1954, an intensive research by scientists revealed that the whole Piltdown man remains were a hoax. The cranium specimen had been just a 600-year-old man. The jaw and most of the teeth had been those of an orangutan, and the original tooth discovered had been that of a chimpanzee. All the pieces had been put in the gravel, after deliberately being stained…some with chromium, others with acid iron sulfate solution. Neither chemical existed indigenous to the area.”

“Yes, yes,” Dr. Stein said solemnly. “I have heard of this before.”

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK! Dr. Stein shuddered; Trenae startled a little and shot her gaze up at Ra’am. The tall alien remained unfazed.

“A man is at the door,” Ra’am said, “with a uniform, a security officer uniform.”

Dr. Stein spun toward the door. “How can you know? The door has no windows!”

“Aerial microscopic robots, with imaging capabilities, which transfer their information to my koaksekhel. The koaksekhel is in turn connected to my brain.”

The professor looked back at Ra’am. “That’s incredible…What does he look like?”

“He has black hair, tan skin, and a large nose,” Ra’am said calmly.

“It’s Vic, one of the SPO’s. What…what should I do, say?”

“You must go see him.”

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK! “Dr. Stein, is everything okay?” said the faint, muffled voice from beyond the door.

“But…if he sees you?” Dr. Stein asked nervously. “What then?” He looked at Ra’am.

“Then our meeting is over. You will have to convince him that everything is all right, and not allow him to observe me, although I will turn toward the blackboard. But it is ultimately up to you, what you want.” Ra’am leaned over, closer to the professor’s face. “But I am not afraid of him, nor you, so do not try anything you cannot back up, because you will both lose.” He straightened. “Go on, answer the door. It will unlock.” Blue light flashed.

Turning from both of them sheepishly, Dr. Stein scuttled toward the door. Trenae eyed him closely, looking up to Ra’am several times.

“Trenae, try to appear calm,” Ra’am said, the second time she looked at him. “The security guard will know.”

“Oh, okay, I will.” She turned her gaze toward Ra’am and the blackboard. She looked up, into his face. He appeared relaxed, confident, even giving her a soothing smile. This helped, though not by much, to alleviate the fear in her heart and mind.

A click echoed across the room. She turned. Dr. Stein had pried the door open. All sorts of horrible gun-shooting, police- raiding visions again filled her head.

Dr. Stein kept the door open to a minimum, talked to Vic a few minutes, and then eventually closed the door. Phew! Her fears quickly diminished.

Dr. Stein walked back toward the two of them. Maneuvering his way around the tables, she noticed he kept his head down, as if embarrassed or afraid. Nearing her and Ra’am, he slowed his pace, lifted his head, and gradually resumed his former stance.

“What was his concern?” Ra’am asked.

“He saw the blinds shut, incredibly fast. I told him they just broke, at the same time- a coincidence. At first, he didn’t believe me. He tried to see both of you, especially you, Ra’am. But I finally convinced him that we were studying difficult equations…I think he saw your writings on the blackboard. He finally left.”

“I am glad that you trust me, Dr. Stein, enough to have returned.”

Dr. Stein gave Ra’am a confused, docile expression. “For some reason, I don’t know why, but I DO trust you, although I feel totally insane for it.”

“Good,” Ra’am said.

He placed the chalk down and stared at Dr. Stein. “Let us continue then…like the former examples I gave showing deceptive practices amongst certain evolutionary scientists, there is one more I would like to describe- the story of botanist John Heslop Harrison. Approximately 80 years ago, he was granted permission to study the plant life on the small island of Rum in the Inner Hebrides. He found evidence of some rare plant species, butterflies, and beetles. But further investigation by another botanist, John Raven, showed that Harrison had transplanted the plant species there himself, as these plants were infected by a gnat that Raven himself had only seen in plants in his garden and one other spot in Britain. And the Rum plants Harrison supposedly discovered also had particles of quartz in them. Quartz was not indigenous to Rum. Yet this fraudulent event was kept hidden until 1999, probably for two reasons- to spare the botany profession any disrepute- and to not offend John Harrison, who was known to be dangerous when angry.”

Ra’am crossed his arms over his chest. “How many more deceptive practices have the people of earth been subjected to by their scientists, in the name of evolutionary proof? What can they believe as fact, and what can they assume is a lie?”

Dr. Stein crossed his arms too and lowered his head. “Most of the evidence we have, from our geology digs is accurate and honest,” he said. “Just because there are a few dishonest men, does not therefore make us all dishonest.”

“I am aware of that, David.” Ra’am uncrossed his arms and took held of the chalk piece with his right hand, placing his other hand on Dr. Stein’s shoulder. The professor looked up at him.

“How did you know my name is David?”

“I know much about you. And I am sorry, if I have startled you. But there is simply no easy way to expose a human being to intelligent life from other planets, when the majority of your government and social structure is antagonistic to the concept. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do. But…I’m not really here,” Dr. Stein said slowly. “I feel as though I’m high or in a daze. This just can’t be happening!”

“It is. I assure you.” Ra’am removed his hand from the professor’s shoulder. “I want to explain what I wrote. Are you familiar with Stanley Miller and his experiment?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“In 1953, he conducted an experiment in which he boiled water in a closed container and then added gases such as methane, ammonia, and hydrogen, along with electrostatic discharges from a spark chamber. The discharges caused the gas atoms to react, thereby creating organic compounds. The compounds were allowed to fall and cool. Five amino acids were formed- alanine, valine, leucine, glycine, and hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide can be condensed into adenine, a base in DNA. Additionally, aspartic acid was formed.”

“Yes. I am aware of this,” said Dr. Stein. “It was considered a success.”

“But it was not a success, for two reasons. One, there was no oxygen allowed in the experiment, because in the presence of oxygen, the amino acids could not form. It was therefore deduced that there was no oxygen in the primordial atmosphere. And the second reason, there were no proteins formed, or carbohydrates, or phospholipids, sugar, or DNA- nothing that could be considered a life form or part of a life form.”

“Yes, but again…small steps are needed,” Dr. Stein said gently. “The necessary components formed over millions of years.” He looked up at Ra’am.

Ra’am gave him a smile, revealing the blue-tinted teeth. “Are you still going to give me that tired line? You know better, David.” A serious expression returned to Ra’am’s face. “One amino acid could have formed hundreds and hundreds of miles from the other amino acid, in the primordial ocean. And who is to say the amino acids formed all at once? And what difference does it make, since the amino acids formed did not make a cell membrane or a cell nucleus…or a cytoplasm or Golgi apparatus or ribosomes. And all those organic molecules would have had to been present in exactly the same small spot in the vast primordial ocean, to form even one cell. Let me show you…the mathematical probability for this is close to impossible.”

Ra’am pointed to some of the equations, written in earth numerals. After going over the steps with Dr. Stein, the professor adjusted his glasses and stared at the equations intently.

“And let me explain something else to you- there is plenty of evidence showing oxygen was on the earth during the primordial period,” Ra’am said. He pointed to some other equations on the blackboard. “Through these equations, I can show you that the oxygen consumed by the oxidation of iron is far greater than the amount released by photosynthesis. This would create an unbalanced equation if there were an oxygen-free environment. The most ancient sedimentary rocks on earth, the banded iron formations are oxidized. And these were formed before photosynthesis and before the arrival of green plants.”

Through some further calculations, Ra’am showed the varying iron levels of meteor and moon rocks verses earth rocks. Trenae moved closer to the blackboard, positioning herself about a foot away from Dr. Stein and Ra’am, yet between them, so she had a good view of the board.

“Since all the planets, moons, and asteroid meteor fragments from this solar system were supposedly produced from the same matter, then the Fe2O3, FeO, and Fe levels should be relatively the same,” Ra’am said. “However, Fe2O3 is found on ancient earth rocks or old meteor falls. FeO and Fe are found only on moon rocks and meteors. Therefore, further proof of oxygen in the atmosphere of the primordial earth, and therefore it can be concluded that oxygen was present on the primordial earth, thus foiling Stanley Miller’s experiment’s hypothesis!”

Dr. Stein continued staring at the blackboard.

“I am sure another so-called old argument between the Creationists and neo-Darwinists is the 2nd law of thermodynamics,” Ra’am said.

“Oh, yes,” Dr. Stein said, his voice low, hypnotic. “I have heard this before.”

“Entropy, which increases with temperature, is the measure of filled microstates. Microstates are both the direction and speed of a molecule.”

“Yes, I know.”

“The 2nd law states entropy must increase in the universe, and also that the free energy of the universe must decrease. How, therefore, can complex molecules, like DNA form, when both these processes are stacked against them? DNA has large quantities of free energy, which must be reduced- it will want to decay if formed. On the other hand, a water molecule has little free energy and thus exists without much trouble. Life creates complex chemicals like DNA because of enzymes and intermediate steps, thereby counteracting the power of free energy and entropy.”

Dr. Stein took a deep, sighing breath. “Yes, yes, I know. What else must you torment me with?”

“You should be more positive, David. This will not take too much longer.” They both looked at each other. “Since natural selection is the force that supposedly drives Darwin’s theory of evolution, we must deal with this force. In the primordial ocean, if by some miracle or act of faith, the first cell evolved and contained all the necessary genetic material, like the A,C,G, or T bases, the introns and exons, the genes, the DNA itself and the chromosomes--”

“Yes, but you see,” Dr. Stein said, “all bacteria, plants, animals, and humans have the same 4 nucleotides of adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. And all the various proteins are synthesized from different combinations of the same main 20 amino acids. You have to admit, Mr. Mahkar, that…that shows, all living things on earth came from the same molecular substances originally!”

“You are implying that life arose from one source,” Ra’am said, still eyeing the professor. “And I agree. But, it is a matter of whether the source was random chemicals forming themselves or a intelligent designer using the same chemicals to form life! How would you account for the fact that I am comprised of the same basic chemicals or elements, and yet came from a galaxy 2.2 million light years away? And I did not evolve, I assure you.”

Moving his head away, down, Dr. Stein could not give an answer.

“Continuing,” Ra’am said, “…since natural selection produces the ‘survival of the fittest’ response in all living organisms, we can therefore conclude that natural selection will want to preserve the healthiest, fittest genetic material within the cell. And since it is through the genes located on the DNA that any new organ or protein is produced, it is therefore ultimately through the DNA. As I said previously, point mutations produce new alleles, possibly causing phenetic or microevolution…like a white or brown rabbit, or the differences in the Drosophila flies. But much more is needed for phyletic or macro-evolution. From a reptile to a bird, for example- new genetic instructions for new organs must emerge.”

 “And we can also add,” said Dr. Stein, “that crossing over during meiosis can create new alleles and new chromosomal combinations.”

“Which produces great variation among a species,” Ra’am said. “And can cause convergent evolution or microevolution, like in the Drosophila flies, as species must adapt to the ever changing environment. But the Drosophila never became another insect or animal.”

“So far,” Dr. Stein added.

Ra’am pointed to various locations on the DNA diagram he had drawn. “You see, one major problem your evolutionary scientists have failed to notice, is when a duplicate copy of a gene somehow evolves, what happens to the remaining gene? This would result in two different genes in the same locus. This would definitely cause a problem for the particular organism  unfortunate enough to have this occur!

“Here, in this case of meiosis…” Picking up the chalk again, Ra’am drew several ovals in a pyramid fashion on the blackboard. “Let us suppose that a gene is duplicated at a certain locus, a locus of some importance, like mRNA. Somehow, by a miracle, the new gene is found beneficial by natural selection. It then spreads throughout the entire population of this particular species, but since mRNA, which as you know helps to transfer DNA genetic code--”

“Oh, yes,” said Dr. Stein. “I’m aware.”

“…is important, it must remain in the species. But look- when we show meiosis reproduction, through the heterozygous population, see what happens.” Ra’am drew more numbers and symbols. “50% have both the new gene and mRNA, but 25% have only mRNA, which of course would produce an organism of this species which is at a competitive disadvantage to the others. And, unfortunately for this organism…the other 25% receives only the new gene and no mRNA. It therefore dies! Now what kind of evolving is this, if it begins to kill 25% of the off-spring? Natural selection is supposed to enhance reproduction and the quality of the off-spring, not destroy the process!”

“I…I would have to agree. But there are introns, random DNA. We have always felt they were free to evolve.”

“But are they?” Ra’am asked. “The mathematics does not permit it. And besides, DNA polymerase repairs any copying errors in the duplication of DNA.”

“But we are talking about random DNA, introns- they serve no purpose,” Dr. Stein said determinedly.

“Actually, some of your scientists have shown they DO serve a purpose. Experiments with single-cell photosynthetic organisms, known as cryptomonad, come in a great variety of sizes. The nucleus in each of these cells is proportional to the size of the cryptomonad. In small nuclei, there are less introns. In large nuclei, more introns.”

“I have not heard of this,” Dr. Stein said. “But I suppose I’ll investigate it.”

“And getting back to your belief in random DNA. The very first genes would have had to come from random DNA, since there were no genes or exons to be duplicated or crossed-over in meiosis. So, somehow, if by a miracle, DNA and genes arose, then random DNA would have to account for the formation of new genes. But since new genes encode proteins, we can examine some proteins, like hemoglobin or DNA polymerase. They are quite different in number of amino acids and the sequences. Yet when these proteins are compared in many different species, there are found to be conserved amino acids, or the critical amino acids necessary to have hemoglobin be hemoglobin or DNA polymerase be DNA polymerase.”

“Yes, they remain the same…I understand.”

“Well, many proteins contain a hundred or more amino acids. DNA polymerase contains over 1000 amino acids--”

“Ra’am?” Trenae asked. Both male beings turned to face her. She felt about 2 inches high.

“Yes, Trenae?”

“I really want to understand,” she said. “You’re saying, there are proteins which all life on earth share?”

“Yes,” said Ra’am. “And many of the amino acids are conserved, or are important. These are the ones that would have had to evolve, by themselves, with no help.” He turned back to the blackboard, periodically glancing at both Dr. Stein and Trenae. “Natural Selection will only preserve these amino acids once they are found to be useful. Assuming they are useful, the mathematical complications for these amino acids are then enormous.

“For example, let us assume there is a small protein or polypeptide chain that only contains 12 amino acids and is found in a human, a squirrel, and a certain plant. Now 7 of those particular amino acids, of the 12, are conserved. The other ones are insertions or deletions from the original protein. If just for example, the 7 are serine, tyrosine, cysteine, proline, alanine, glutamic acid and leucine…” Ra’am wrote each amino acid on the board. She and the professor watched carefully. “Now Dr. Stein is aware, Trenae, that each of these amino acids has a certain number of codons to represent itself. By the order of the amino acids I wrote, the number of possible codons for each would be 6, 2, 2, 4, 4, 2, and 6 respectively. DNA transfers its code to mRNA, then the ribosomes read each codon on the mRNA and produce a protein.” (1)

“Yes, so we have four total nucleotides,” Dr. Stein said. “A, T, G, and C for DNA. T changes to U in RNA, but still just four nucleotides.”

“Correct, Dr. Stein. So 3 nucleotides per codon, 4 possible nucleotides to choose from. That is 4x4x4 or 64. And 3 of those 64 codons are stop codons. But we will include them since they are necessary in the making of the gene.”

Then Ra’am began writing a mathematical equation. “So we have 6/64x2/64x4/64x2/64x6/64. Multiplied together, we have the odds of this example protein being formed through chance, and…” After performing some multiplication and division on the blackboard, he continued. “For this one example of 12 amino acids with 7 conserved, formed by chance, the probability is 1 in 95,443,718, which are not impossible odds, but very difficult odds. And the odds for proteins to form which have 100 or more amino acids would be even more difficult. In fact, they are impossible odds. Cytochrome c would be even more of a challenge. Even if billions of amino acids were able to form in the primordial waters, the chances of them becoming a complex strand of protein like cytochrome c are impossible.” (1)

“But that’s the key,” Dr. Stein said. “You are suggesting that the original amino acids formed from DNA. But what if they formed without DNA, just by random order?”

“I understand your suggestion, but look at the math.”

Ra’am showed Dr. Stein and Trenae some additional mathematical equations. She began to wonder, as Ra’am wrote the equations, why the professor persisted in proving evolution, since he had to realize Ra’am knew of his secretive Web site.

“I have not seen these symbols before,” Dr. Stein said. “Are they from your world, these equations?”

“Yes. We of course have forms of mathematical calculations unfamiliar to your planet. However, I will leave it on the board for you. You may show others.

“Continuing though,” Ra’am said, “the main problem with any mathematical odds predicting how proteins formed does not matter very much if the conditions on the early earth were unfavorable for life to form. And then too, there is the varying structure of proteins. Proteins are simply polypeptide chains or strings of amino acids joined together, and so the sequence of the amino acids, as well the nature of the R side-chains on the amino acids and whether the side-chains are polar, non-polar, etc., determines how the protein will fold. And again, out of the millions of possible folding positions available, a protein will fold its characteristic fold every time, and thereby establish its role and function as a protein. This just complicates matters even further!”

“Yes, I am aware…but what about frame shift mutations, to help explain the many different proteins and amino acids.”

“No, Dr. Stein. It does not help! A frame shift mutation, either a deletion or insertion of a nucleotide, could disrupt the whole sequence of a protein. It can change many amino acids and also add stop codons. This would mutate a gene beyond the limit which natural selection would find it viable and useful! Only a point mutation, with one nucleotide being substituted, and thus one amino acid being changed at one time, could possibly work. But some proteins need hundreds of new amino acids!”

“But you are using DNA again,” Dr. Stein said, “as if it formed first in the primordial waters.”

“But Dr. Stein…you asked about frame shift mutations. Those could only be possible unless DNA was already present.”

The professor appeared frustrated, annoyed.

“The sea tunicate, on your planet, is proposed to have been the organism possessing the precursor of the eye,” Ra’am said. “It has a lens, but does not have genes that encoded crystalline. Crystalline, as you are probably aware, is a protein in the eye, which refracts light. Since crystalline is found in all vertebrate eyes, we can assume it arose around 500 million years ago, according to paleontologists.”

“Yes, that sounds about right.”

“What does the math show for the probability of this protein arising through chance, even if it formed from introns or random DNA, and even allowed billions of years, or billions of tries?”

Writing again on the blackboard, Ra’am then showed both her and Dr. Stein how impossible were the odds, by eventually obtaining a probability of zero through many math equations. And next he showed them many additional examples of proteins arising through chance, with both complicated earth math and Harkoavian math, again revealing probabilities of zero or less than zero. More and more, Trenae became amazed at how much knowledge and intellectual abilities her alien friend held within his mind, beyond what she already learned from him in the past 2 ½ months. Impressive!

Finally, Ra’am finished. Placing the chalk down on the lower ledge of the blackboard, he swept the powder from his hands.

He looked down at the professor once again. “In conclusion, Dr. Stein, it is impossible for the first proteins to form in the primordial waters and it is also impossible, if by some miracle the proteins did form in the primordial waters, for new genes or proteins to form from existing ones. Hence, no life from the very beginning, and if life did form, no new organs, such as legs, shells, wings, gills, beaks, feathers, or fur, could form without new genes forming. Therefore, if any of your scientists still adhere to this theory, they do so entirely on faith. How ironic!”

“But what of meteors and the bacteria within them, falling to earth millions of years ago?” Dr. Stein asked.

“Yes, it could be possible for life to travel here from another planet, but that still does not explain how life originated in the first place in the universe, and it still would not account for the development of new organs in animals. Are you suggesting a new meteor came every thousand and millions of years, with new genetic material, to--?”

“No, stop!” Dr. Stein said, lifting his hand. Though he seemed angry and ready to speak something agitating, after glancing at Ra’am’s face, Dr. Stein instead merely lowered his hand and folded his arms across his chest. “I know what you mean,” he said softly.

“I suppose it is like the old earth adage- your evolutionary scientists see, but they do not look- they hear, but they do not listen. They have been so determined to find any other explanation except creation, they have been blind.”

“Okay…okay then,” Dr. Stein said. He gazed down. “But what about the dinosaurs?” He lifted his head. “The marsupials? The evidence for Pangaea, the one world continent? And the prehistoric plants and animals, like the mammoths, the saber tooth tiger, and on and on? And the legitimate fossils of Australopithecus, the Neanderthals, Homo erectus? They DO exist!”

Ra’am lowered his head and turned away from the blackboard, walking over to the nearest table. The professor followed him. Trenae did too.

“Mr. Mahkar, my question,” Dr. Stein said.

“Yes, I heard you,” Ra’am said, raising his head. “On my planet, we believe that prehistoric life forms are merely biological robots designed to maintain the environment at varying stages of a planet’s life. We had them too, just like earth. But unlike your world, we quickly determined that they did not evolve. Apparently, various stages of environmental processes require different pre-historic life forms, ultimately producing, through millions of years, an environment upon a planet suitable for intelligent life…and for what may occur in a planet’s future.”

“There are so many questions,” Dr. Stein said. He paused in his motion, standing stationary, not too far from Ra’am and Trenae.

“Yes, and I do not have all the answers for you,” Ra’am said, leaning against one of the tables. “But I can supply what I do know. And others on your planet are aware of what I know. They wrote books like ‘Evolution: A Theory In Crisis’, by Michael Denton. Or ‘Darwin’s Black Box,’ by Michael Behe, the one with ICT. Or ‘Evolution From Space,’ by Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. And ‘Information Theory and Molecular Biology,’ by Yockey. And then there is the information from Stu Pullen, who originally had a Web site, that exhibits many similar mathematical equations I showed you on the blackboard.

“Math…the purest form of reason in the universe,” Ra’am said. “We cannot escape its power, in the exact and explicit answers it gives. Did you know Kurt Godel, a famous mathematician on your planet who befriended Albert Einstein, could not believe in evolution?”

“Yes, well…no, that’s all right,” Dr. Stein said, raising his hand and looking at the floor. “You do not have to say any more. I understand your point.”

Ra’am leaned over to the professor’s eye level, capturing Dr. Stein’s attention. “And before you start to dismiss any of my written equations or spoken facts as foolish ramblings, there is one last detail I want to show you,” Ra’am said. “Come over here, between these tables. We need the room.” He looked at her. “You too, Trenae.”

Both she and Dr. Stein followed Ra’am to a wide area.

“Stand still, please,” said Ra’am. While they complied with his request, Ra’am lifted his arm and cast a gradual flow of hemoom prodoh to encircle all three of them.

Instantly, the scene from Harkoav appeared, the scene depicting the two ometvaheem and their ayeen meyard.

“Jesus Christ!” Dr. Stein said. “Is this your ship? Are you going to take me somewhere?”

“No, not today,” Ra’am answered. “This is not my spacecraft. This is a scene from a military university on Harkoav. I am about to show you the reason my governing officials had me come here.”

With the scene unfolding on the hemoom prodoh, Ra’am explained the details, describing the process by which the ayeen meyard functioned, exactly what the two ometvaheem were trying to accomplish, and the view they finally obtained of earth over 2 million years ago.

“That is impossible…to see light from a planet so far away, so dimly illuminated,” Dr. Stein said slowly. “The bright light from the sun would block any visible light reflecting from the earth!”

“There is that word, Ra’am,” Trenae said. She looked from both the professor’s face to Ra’am’s face.

“What, what did I say?” asked Dr. Stein.

“Why is what you can see, right before your eyes, considered impossible, but that which you cannot see, you label possible?” Ra’am asked. “See if you perceive the next few moments of scenes as impossible too.”

Turning from Ra’am, Dr. Stein focused on the prehistoric earth scene. Gradually, he began to witness what Trenae had seen on the mountainside during her fourth day with Ra’am. The wondrous and amazing image of the two mammoths appearing on earth millions of year ago slowly emerged. Words could not describe it, especially as she viewed it for a second time. She noticed the professor’s face alternate between awe and despair, sheer joy and dark confusion, a schizophrenic who could not decide what personality to acquire for the moment. He didn’t speak, but only observed.

And then finally, the scene finished. Ra’am absorbed the hemoom prodoh back into his koaksekhel. He focused his eyes on the professor’s face.

Yet Dr. Stein didn’t look at him. The professor slowly turned away and headed toward the front of his desk. Approaching the desk, he slumped down into the visitor’s seat Trenae had sat upon. Ra’am folded his arms and walked near the professor. Trenae followed him and she  eventually leaned against one of the tables.

“Then that’s it,” Dr. Stein said slowly, quietly. “The last nail in neo-Darwinism’s coffin.”

“No, not the last nail. There never were any nails. Evolution never existed,” Ra’am said. He sat on the professor’s desk, near the beleaguered, troubled man. “The author’s I mentioned earlier, especially the one on the Internet…they are not the only ones. There are more, especially one more in particular.”

Dr. Stein startled, twitching a bit. He slowly hiked his head up, viewing Ra’am.

“There is your site, David,” Ra’am said.

“I…I had a feeling…” Dr. Stein said, mildly surprised. “You…found my other…”

“Yes, there is a site, under another name, your false name, which describes in detail many faults with evolution- some of which I described today, others that I did not. Why, Dr. Stein, why are you doing this?  Why do you hide?”

Dr. Stein leaned over, resting his face in his hands, a figure in total dismay and discouragement.

Trenae instantly pitied him, as earlier, and walked in front of him and kneeled down. “Dr. Stein, are you all right?” she asked.

He lifted his head slightly and looked at her. Evidence of tear streams lighted his cheeks, though he struggled to hide them “No, I am not all right,” he said, his words muffled and depressed. “I have been given proof not only of aliens living elsewhere in the universe, but proof of the fallacy of evolution. My life’s pursuit…my life’s career…it is…”

“Dr. Stein,” Ra’am said. “You have not answered my question. Why do you hide?”

Quickly wiping his face, the professor shot up from the chair. Trenae stood up and backed away. Dr. Stein walked the few steps to Ra’am and then stared the tall alien directly in the eyes. “Because of my colleagues!” he said loudly. “And because of the creationists! Those darn creationists, who want nothing more than to remove science and evolution from our schools, and teach that the world is only 6000 years old! Hell, that the whole universe is only 6000 years old!”

“But why your colleagues?” asked Ra’am.

“Because they will brand me as a religious fanatic! They will destroy my career, my life’s work! And believe me, they are a powerful bunch, those scientists who believe in neo-Darwinism.

“But…but I know, as you do, that there are many faults in evolutionary theory. Especially when I started studying biochemistry and molecular biology- it all became apparent.” He turned, and glanced toward the windows. “That is why I didn’t trust the two of you at first, before I knew you were an alien. I thought…I thought maybe you were here to find me out, to pressure me to tell the truth. And I just couldn’t…I kept arguing my point, for evolution…since a part of me still wants it to be true.” He looked back in Ra’am’s eyes. “But what you have told me today, what you have shown me…I want to thank you, but I want to shout at you too! But mostly, more than anything else, I want to know more, much more, about you and your planet!”

“Do not worry,” Ra’am said. “I am not through with you yet. I will be back next Friday. I intend to take you somewhere.” Ra’am began walking toward the front of the desk.

“Wait, are you leaving already?”

Ra’am turned back. “Yes, we should leave now. But before we go, I want to tell you something,” he said, removing his jacket from Trenae’s chair. “You should have more respect for God’s first creation, whom you call Jesus Christ. You exclaimed his name earlier, when I showed you the ayeen meyard.”

“You know of him?” Dr. Stein asked excitedly.

“Yes, we know of him. Although the people of your world consider him to be a pious, mild-mannered being, who chose not to fight back when confronted by his murderous accusers, that is not the impression other worlds have been given. On Harkoav, we know he was given all knowledge of the universe, everything one could possibly fathom about mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics…or about molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, nuclear physics, nuclear fusion, and fission. Or quantum mechanics, quantum physics. He knows of every satellite moon, planet, star, solar system, and galaxy that was ever created. And he knows of the forces of nature, and dark matter, quintessence or dark energy, and many more properties of the universe, which we know of, but your world does not. And he knows properties of the universe we do not know. Ultimate knowledge and ultimate power was given to him. So next time, when you choose to use his name in a verbal exclamation,” Ra’am said, pulling both jacket’s sides together, “I would think twice. Try to have some respect.”

“Sure, I will,” Dr. Stein said. “You have a bible, from God?”

“Yes. I will tell you everything, next Friday.” Again, Ra’am headed for the door.

“But what do I do, with all the information you gave me? Who do I tell?”

Ra’am turned around. “Tell everyone, but tell the truth.”

“The truth?”

“Of course…Come, Trenae. Get your purse.”

Hopefully, she thought, this will work. There’s a good chance it won’t, especially if Ra’am helps me. She started to walk near the chair, where her purse lay on the floor. Her jacket still hung on the chair’s back.

“But wait,” Dr. Stein said.

She started lifting her heavy purse.

“I really don’t want you to go yet,” Dr. Stein said. “I think, I think it’s just hitting me now…that I have met a being from another planet! How many people can actually say that?”

“You are the third,” Ra’am said.

Now holding her purse, Trenae secretly loosened the flap cover of the purse so its contents no longer remained secure.

“The third?” Dr. Stein asked.

“Yes, I have two human friends, including Trenae. And now I have met you. You are the third.”

With slow, secret motion, she began lifting her jacket off the chair with one hand, while precariously holding the heavy purse with the other hand.

“But…can you stay longer, please?” Dr. Stein asked.

Ra’am didn’t answer him. Trenae watched from her eye’s corner as Ra’am lifted  his right arm and then raised the cuff of his right arm’s sleeve a little. Holding it open, the same blue light that materialized earlier and obstructed and controlled the room’s electrical and manual systems shone forth from his arm again. The jacket sleeve apparently didn’t disrupt the blue light, for it produced the same thin, triangular beam like before. Gradually, Ra’am formed a complete circle with the light, touching all corners and walls of the room. Thought he left the Venetian blinds closed, he appeared to resolve the other malfunctions he caused.

Another image caught her eye’s corner. Dr. Stein grabbed the front of his shirt after the blue light passed through him. “I didn’t feel anything!” he said, astonished.

“No, it will not hurt you. But at least everything is now as it was when I first came here. So long, Dr. Stein.” She sensed Ra’am glance down at her. “Are you ready?”

Well, this is as good a time as any. Lifting her jacket higher, as if beginning to put it on, she allowed the top contents of her purse to fall onto the chair and the floor. Good thing I put the rock at the bottom. “Oops, sorry!  I’ll pick it up.”

Dr. Stein hurried over and kneeled down. “Here, let me help you.”

While the professor lifted the purse items off the floor, she leaned over and picked up other items from the chair, making sure to face away from Ra’am.

“Do you need my help too?” Ra’am asked. His deep, powerful voice filled the room.

She turned and looked up at him. “No, that’s okay. You go ahead, I’ll be right there.”

“All right,” Ra’am said. “I will be right outside the door.”

She watched him from her eye’s corner, finally seeing him exit the room. YES! It worked!

“Here, young lady. I think that is everything.” Dr. Stein handed a hairbrush, comb, and a few pens to her. She took them. “Why are you with him?” he asked.

“He saved my life,” she said, looking at the professor. “And he continues to save my life.” With the items he handed to her, plus the items she herself picked up, Trenae formed a small pile on the chair’s surface. “And I guess he’s my friend now, too. But here-” She dove her hand to the purse’s bottom, unwrapped the shirt, and retrieved the heavy rock. She handed it to Dr. Stein. “Take this rock. Ra’am gave it to me. He doesn’t know I’m doing this, but I want to find out what this rock is. Please, can you?”

Dr. Stein wrapped his fingers around the rock. He nearly dropped it. “Gosh that’s heavy!”

“Shhh,” she said, putting a finger to her lips. “I have to go. See you next Friday. Please, find out what it is.”

Giving the confused professor a wide smile, she poked her arms through her jacket, lifted her purse from the chair, and then hurried out of the room…



…“And so you guys left?” Jenny asked. “Did anyone stop you or call the police?”

“No, we were lucky. Besides, I think Dr. Stein felt too impressed to complain, and I don’t think anyone else saw us. But, as we walked, I realized Ra’am probably saw me give that rock to Dr. Stein, with the micro robots…but, Ra’am didn’t say anything. I just held my breath, hoping he wouldn’t, but, like I said, he didn’t. I should have thought my plan out better.”

“Hey, you did what you could.”

She smiled at Jenny. “Yeah, I guess. Anyway, we made it back to Ha-Ta with no problems. L.B. was going mental, so happy to see us.” She smiled. “Ra’am hugged him.”

Jenny inhaled a deep breath. “Shit, Trenae.” She leaned snuggly back into her chair. “That’s some really, seriously heavy stuff you just told me. Is it all accurate, scientifically?”

“Yes, as far as I know. After all, we’re dealing with an incredibly advanced civilization. But just like Ra’am said, there are plenty of books and Internet sites to read and see. So…”

Jenny crossed her arms and leaned forward. “And what did you guys talk about, after you left?”

“Well, I asked Ra’am if he thought Dr. Stein would be there, next Friday. And he felt confident he would be.” Trenae rolled her eyes toward the ceiling, remembering. “Oh yeah, something else…that I thought was kinda’ cute, that brought me into Ra’am’s mind for a little, since he was usually so closed-off that way.” She looked at Jenny. “He said he wished he could be a comedian, not be so serious all the time.”

“He did mention about laughing, the best thing.”

“Yeah, true. I told Ra’am he was fine the way he was. But…he said it disturbed him a bit, that he always tended to scare others. And I was like, so? I told him he should be himself, be true to himself, because that’s all any of us can do. And…” Trenae sighed, pausing a moment. “Of course, he said I should do the same. And I guess it kinda did get to me, that I had given someone else advice I should be applying to myself. You know?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And I also told him we had some fun times together anyway, that we did laugh together. I think he felt a little better after that.”
















                                                                     Chapter 14



Walking from the bathroom, Trenae noticed Jenny return from the kitchen, holding two glasses of water and placing them on the coffee table. Trenae felt eager to resume their discussion. She hurried over and softly sat on the blue and white sofa.

“Not much to drink here tonight,” Jenny said, sitting in her red chair. “Sorry about that.”

“Oh, that’s okay. I just need something to drink as I talk. Does your mouth get dry too, when you talk a lot?”

“Well, being that I’m usually the listener, can’t say completely. But yeah, probably.”

Trenae rested her hands on her lap, touching her fingernails a little.

“So, what happened next, in Ra’am’s scheme of things?”

“Umm…let’s see…we talked some more that evening, mainly about all the things Ra’am knew of evolution and science and other things. I told him I wanted him to teach me more, as much as he could before he left. He said sure, no problem, or something like that. And we ate something, and then eventually, went to bed in our rooms.”

“Obviously he did, teach you, that is.”

“I guess you could say. And the next day, we traveled around Frank Church area for awhile, looking mostly for plant specimens. But we ended it earlier than usual. We had an early supper, and then Ra’am told me we were going to see Pastor Crenshaw.”

“No!” Shock covered Jenny’s face.

“Yes, really! He had decided to take up my suggestion, to talk to him, which is why he wanted to see Dr. Stein the night before, since we were seeing the pastor the next night. Ra’am had found both their office hours on the Internet and was able to plan the days that way.”

“Just to talk to the pastor?”

“Well, like I said, he had this idea or plan, and it involved Dr. Stein.”

“Dr. Stein and Pastor Crenshaw?”

“Yes, right.”

“Oh my gosh, this just gets better and better!”

Trenae smiled for a second. “Needless to say, I was really nervous that night. I hadn’t seen Pastor Crenshaw since…like 14, and he intimidated me then, so, I figured this would be hard. He was nice and all when he came to our home, after my father died. My mother wouldn’t talk to him really, but he did talk to Darin and I. So I knew he could be pleasant and nice, but mostly he was loud, blunt…” She looked at her nails again.

“I know, I remember during our interview. He was nice to me, but has a gravelly-like voice, sort of deep. Like Ra’am’s?”

Trenae lifted her head. “Sort of.”

“And didn’t he play football and wrestle in college?”

“Yes, that’s true too. But my father liked him a lot. He used to take Darin and I back, after the service, to talk with the pastor. So, we both knew him well. Darin never really liked him that much, though. I liked him, but like I said, he intimidated me.

“And so if you get the picture- here I was, going with my freakish-looking alien friend from another planet, no less, and about to visit this gruff pastor I hadn’t seen in many years, who my father really liked. And, for sure I’d  have to do most of the talking, at least up front, and I was really worried that Ra’am wouldn’t behave. And then Ra’am told me that he was not going to wear his camouflage, at all!”

“Why?” Jenny formed a curious smirk.

 “Because he felt it was important to be totally honest this time, especially entering a house of God. But, Ra’am told me he would try to act civilized, as much as possible.” Trenae  sighed. “Yet anyway, my stomach felt tighter than before the trip to Berkeley. But I knew Ra’am wanted to do this, and I wanted to help him. It was a very short trip, since we just went to Boise. I worried about Willson’s guys, but Ra’am told me I was completely safe with him.” She snickered. “We both rather doubted they would be at a church anyway!”

Jenny laughed. “True, true!”

“Ra’am found this area of pine trees, between the church's parking area and a bunch of newer-looking suburb homes. After finding a spot with few tree roots, we finally came above. L.B. seemed okay again to be left behind. And as soon as we came out of the wooded area, into the parking lot, I felt relieved to see just a pickup and a car. I figured it was just the pastor and his secretary who were there- and I was right, after we entered the building.

“We went in through the north entrance, since it was unlocked. You have to walk down this long hallway, pass the Sunday school rooms and kitchen. The place still looked the same, except the carpet was different. It used to be blue, and now it was a patterned purple color. But the walls and ceilings were still really high and white, with this nice wood trim by the corners. I always felt better, uplifted coming there- so bright and cheery. And the skylight in the hallway by the pastor’s office was still there, except…at night, when we came, it wasn’t so cheery.

“But we went to the end of the hallway and took a left to the pastor’s office, down another hall. His office was across from the sanctuary, down this other hall.”


“You know, where the sermons take place and all the people sit?”

“Oh sure, I know.”

“Once we turned the corner, I could immediately see Annie Johnson, the pastor’s secretary, still there too. She was standing at the pastor’s office doorway. She couldn’t see us at first, since she was facing the other way…



…The knot in Trenae’s stomach really twisted now. She turned and looked up at Ra’am. Fortunately he kept his jacket on. But the thick strands of his dark hair, pulled back against his head and secured tightly by his usual silver shfoferet yedet, reflected the light from the small, round lamps situated in uniform proximity along the high ceilings. Not only did his strange hair stand out blatantly, but so did the taut, blue tendons beneath his skin, especially by his cheekbones, nose, and chin, the tensest areas of his skin. And though exhibiting a unique, translucent beauty from the ceilings’ warm, bright lighting, Ra’am’s eyes, with their dark aqua sclera contrasting against the black of his irises, were terrifying too. His looked downright gothic and monstrous, unfit for the inside of a church.

Sighing a deep exhale, Trenae walked forward, leaving Ra’am to stand about 10 feet behind, beneath the darkened skylight window.

Mrs. Johnson turned. “May I help you?”

“Mrs. Johnson? Do you remember me? I’m Trenae, Trenae Lafayette.”

“Oh yes!” she said slowly, her voice high-pitched. Though she appeared older, Mrs. Johnson still looked the same; she had short white hair, a large, cushiony body, and wore a light-colored, flower patterned dress, the kind that had always been a tad too tight on her. She walked forward with outstretched arms, embracing Trenae.

The hug felt wonderful. But it made Trenae nearly cry. Dealing with the extreme stress of being in her father’s own church with an alien crippled and weakened. She melted into Mrs. Johnson’s arms for a short time.

Mrs. Johnson moved back from Trenae, holding her at arm’s length. “I haven’t seen you since your father died,” she said kindly. She looked deeply into Trenae’s eyes. “How are your mom and brother, Rudy and Darin?”

“They’re…they’re okay, I guess. I haven’t seen them in awhile.”

“And you?”

            Trenae smiled shyly. “I’m good too, I guess.” Trenae felt cold. Her hands were shaking.

Mrs. Johnson released her hands and searched Trenae’s face. “Are you planning on visiting our services, on Sunday?”

“Well, maybe. I’m here to talk to Pastor Crenshaw, me and my friend. We both are.”

After listening intently, Mrs. Johnson gazed forward, beyond Trenae and below the skylight. A draining bathtub filled with warm, happy bubbles, Mrs. Johnson’s expression quickly became a cold and empty receptacle. “Is that…your friend?” she asked, fear squeezing her words.

Trenae swallowed and turned around. She felt a little better; Ra’am was smiling and walking toward them.

“Hello, Mrs. Johnson,” he said, his deep voice encircling. He arrived. Standing behind Trenae, Ra’am held out his left hand around her left side, so he could reach Mrs. Johnson. Trenae turned back to see her.

Mrs. Johnson’s eyes darted back and forth, between the great height of Ra’am’s face and the strange appearance of his hand. Finally her gaze settled upon his hand, which he continued holding out for her. Too much time occurred between Ra’am’s friendly greeting and Mrs. Johnson’s response. Heat surged through Trenae’s body, watching Mrs. Johnson’s face turn ghostly white. I’ve never seen Mrs. Johnson so afraid.

But gradually, Mrs. Johnson came to her senses, forming a fragile smile and raising her hand. “And what is your name?” Her voice quavered.

“I am Ra’am, Ra’ammahkar.”

They shook hands briefly.

Casting a shadow, Pastor Crenshaw appeared at the doorway. Trenae shifted her gaze from Mrs. Johnson and looked at the pastor, giving him a smile. She felt light-headed.

“Well, Miss Lafayette. How are you?” Luckily Mrs. Johnson only stood around 5’2” tall, allowing Trenae a good view of the pastor.

“Fine, thank you,” Trenae said.

Mrs. Johnson turned toward the pastor. Trenae could see troubling fear covering her profile.

“Pastor Jeff,” Mrs. Johnson said. “I did as you asked, and entered the information on your computer.” Her voice squeaked high-pitched, short of breath. “If that’s everything, I will be leaving now.”

Pastor Crenshaw eyed Mrs. Johnson, running his gaze around her face. With a nonchalant, quick motion he glanced up at Ra’am. His eyes widened and blinked a few times. He looked back into Mrs. Johnson’s face. He appeared calm. “Yes, thank you Annie. You can leave. See you on Sunday then?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Johnson said. She turned, viewing Trenae again, and stared blankly.

She’s searching my face, Trenae thought, looking for an answer or a sign of trouble. I’ll just smile once more, try to reassure her. She did.

“Is everything all right?” Mrs. Johnson asked quietly.

“Yes, Mrs. Johnson. He’s…” Trenae looked up at Ra’am. He stood so confident and solid. Doesn’t anything faze the guy? “He’s my friend.” She looked at Pastor Crenshaw. “He’s just, well, different. And tall!”

“Yes, and that he is,” Pastor Crenshaw said, his voice gruff, straightforward. He stared up at Ra’am.

“Okay, bye all,” Mrs. Johnson said. Her lips trembled. “My coat’s over there.” Walking past Trenae and Pastor Crenshaw, she hurried toward the building’s east entrance.

Trenae shoved her hands into her jacket’s pockets and turned, watching Mrs. Johnson head for the double doors. The older woman, a woman she knew warmly from her past, would periodically look back, checking, nervously. Everything felt wrong; never had she felt like this in Grace Baptist Church.

“What can I do for you two?” Pastor Crenshaw asked.

Trenae turned back and looked at him. Pastor Crenshaw folded his large arms across his chest. Right away, she could sense and see a change in his attitude. He seemed distrustful, perplexed, and ready for a fight.

She took a quick gander around his body. Typical for his rugged, yet conforming personality, he wore a blue-gray suit jacket and tie, over a crisp, white buttoned shirt, though he wore rugged blue jeans below. His hair still had blond and brown highlights, but now some gray strands striped here and there. And just as she remembered from the past, Pastor Crenshaw’s square head and wide neck, a neck as wide as his jaw line, arose proudly from broad, wide shoulders. Even now his body resembled an athlete, albeit a stocky athlete.

Trenae stepped gingerly, drawing closer to him. “Do you think we could talk to you for awhile?” she asked sweetly. “Do you have the time now?”

Pastor’s blue, deep-set eyes gazed at her straight on, though he kept his head slanted up a little, prompting her to look up more to observe his eyes. He ignored Ra’am. “Sure, I have a few moments.” Then he looked up at Ra’am. “And who is your visitor?”

“My name is Ra’am.” He moved closer to the pastor and held out his large hand.

Pastor Crenshaw eyed Ra’am boldly, precisely, taking the alien’s hand into his own, giving a strong, brusque handshake. “Nice to meet you, Ra’am. Ra’am means thunder in Hebrew.”

“Yes, I am aware.”

Hmm, the pastor’s not in as good shape physically as he used to be. Beneath his suit, under his white buttoned shirt, a rather large beer belly protruded, though he managed to hide it well. She noticed it somewhat accidentally, with his right arm raised, shaking Ra’am’s hand.

“That’s an impressive tattoo job you have there son,” Pastor Crenshaw said. He eyed Ra’am’s hands. Ever so slightly, the pastor’s demeanor released shock. “And your fingernails, interesting.” He looked up at Ra’am’s face. “Are those full-coverage contacts you’re wearing too?” Ending the handshake, the pastor laughed heartily. “Oh, I get it. This is a belated Halloween or New Year’s prank. Am I right?”

Ra’am smiled, though remained undeterred. “No, Pastor Crenshaw, you are not.”

“Well, son, how did you get your appearance?” Pastor’s brows fused together. “Oh…I apologize, do you have a medical condition of which I’m not familiar?”

 “I can explain everything,” Ra’am said. His arms hung loosely at his sides. “May we step into your office?

Pastor Crenshaw was hesitant, glancing from Trenae to Ra’am a moment. Yet he also appeared obligated, she sensed, as a man of God whose responsibility resided with former congregation members and potential new members.

“Yeah, sure,” Pastor Crenshaw finally said, reluctance in his voice. “Come in.”

He led the way into his office. Ra’am followed him closely.

Before Trenae entered too, she glanced down the hallway toward the east entrance. Mrs. Johnson yet stood there, wearing her coat now. She gave Trenae a smile and concerned expression; obviously, Mrs. Johnson lingered longer, worried, troubled by the strange, tall visitor. Trenae smiled and waved. Mrs. Johnson waved back.

Then, Mrs. Johnson left.

I sure hope she doesn’t call the police, Trenae worried.

Trenae turned to her far right. The double doors to the sanctuary, directly across the hall from the pastor’s office, were open, revealing the long, narrow pew seats, parallel to each other and in two distinct rows on either side of the large, cathedral room. She could also see the podium area before the pews, on her left or on the east side of the room, where the pastor always gave his talks. Clearly the pastor enjoyed this location, since his audience always had such a great view of him as he entered proudly, just a short walk from his office. He always ate it up, she remembered. Just to the left of the podium, from her angle, hung the large, beautiful white glass cross, with its lighted interior. It always existed so tranquil on the wall, behind the podium, reminding all of Jesus’ saving grace. Quiet, fond memories returned, from her visits with Dad and Darin.

Shoot! Don’t get lost in dreamland. Remembering the current situation, she turned around and entered the pastor’s office.

Pastor Crenshaw’s office looked the same. On the wall opposite the doorway and on the wall to the far right, behind the pastor’s desk, stood tall bookshelves, nearly as tall as the ceiling, covering the entirety of both walls. On the far left wall, a shorter row of bookshelves resided, with a comfortable rocking chair nearby. Regardless of location, all the bookshelves overflowed with rows and rows of varying sizes, colors, and ages of books.

In the center of the large room, a long, sturdy wooden table took up space, surrounded by a few wooden chairs here and there. Ra’am stood by the table, his back to Trenae. His head pointed downward at something in his hands. Entering further, she could see the pastor’s desk to the right, at the east end wall. The desk served primarily for housing computer hardware, as a monitor and CPU took up most of its available space.

Pastor Crenshaw stood to the desk’s left, from Trenae’s vantage point, and stared at Ra’am.

Concerned, she walked to Ra’am and stood by his right side. He was holding a Bible. He leafed through the pages, staring intently while doing so.

“Well, have a seat, have a seat,” Pastor said, approaching the table. “Make yourself comfortable.”

Ra’am stepped to his left, away from her, continuing to hold the book and view its pages. He walked around the table and pulled out a chair on the opposite side from her position. Trenae felt prompted to do the same; she pulled out a wooden chair and sat down, placing her purse on the floor. Pastor Crenshaw sat down likewise, in the chair closest to his desk, near her right.

Ra’am ignored the pastor. He kept his head lowered, continuing to leaf through the Bible.

 “You know, I miss your father, Trenae,” Pastor Crenshaw said, eyeing her. “We had some great talks together about military involvements. Your dad knew a great deal.”

“Yes, and he liked you a lot too,” she said, turning to him. “He loved coming here.”

Pastor Crenshaw flattened his hands and lightly smacked both palms on the table. “We miss him.”

Ra’am placed the Bible on the table and looked at the pastor. She turned, and watched Ra’am.

“Pastor Crenshaw,” Ra’am said. “I am searching for a servant of God to accompanying me on a brief voyage to the moon, at which time, due to the fact the moon will be between the sun and the earth, I would like both the servant of God and a scientist, a paleontologist to be exact, to stand with Trenae and I and view your glorious planet. It will be a symbolic, rather than a sightseeing visit, that I am hoping all beings participating will record and subsequently communicate to the rest of the earth. Would you be this servant of God, of which I am requesting?”

Trenae’s stomach dropped to her feet.

Raising his right eyebrow higher than his other eyebrow, Pastor Crenshaw leaned forward. “How’s that son? You wanna run that by me again?”

Trenae almost laughed, but her nervous body wouldn’t allow it.

Ra’am sat upright in his chair and folded his arms over his broad chest. He inhaled a deep breath. “Pastor Crenshaw, forgive me for being totally forthright, but I want to be truthful with you. I am not human. I am an ometvah, from the planet Harkoav, in what you refer to as the Andromeda galaxy. And I know you understood what I previously communicated. It is whether you are willing to believe it or not, at this juncture.”

In a quick, clandestine motion, Trenae glanced from one male being to the other. Pastor Crenshaw, his right eyebrow now getting even higher, seemed ready for a laughing fit. However, he looked at her instead. The moment felt awkward. “Trenae,” he said, “is this friend of yours on medication?”

She swallowed. She looked at Ra’am. Like last night, he appeared so soothingly calm; he looked beautiful. Inhaling slightly, she stared back at the pastor. “No…no, he’s definitely not on medication. He’s speaking the truth, Pastor Crenshaw. I’m sorry.”

“Please, Trenae. Call me Pastor Jeff. We’re old friends.” He looked at Ra’am again. “But you, I don’t know about you. Where does your family live, son? Do they know you’re here?”

“My family lives on Harkoav.” Ra’am didn’t miss a beat. “I will be seeing them again soon, in approximately two weeks. I am sensing you do not believe me. Would you like further proof?” He began removing his jacket.

No! This is happening too fast.

Pastor Crenshaw let out a forced, rough laugh. “What possible more proof could you give me?” He crossed his arms and sat back.

Once removing the jacket, Ra’am hung it on his chair’s back. Pastor Crenshaw gawked curiously at Ra’am’s koaksekhel. Then, his eyes scanned the alien’s arms, as Ra’am wore a black tee shirt. Fear envelope the pastor’s face, unusual for him.

Ra’am began sliding his right arm across the table, placing his arm nearly beneath the pastor’s face. He raised his left arm too, moving himself closer, and began rotating his left forearm slowly, from side to side, left to right. “Can you see now, that the blue lines you witness, are not tattoos? They move, as my muscles do. They are just beneath my skin.”

Pastor Crenshaw’s eyebrows lifted in unison, watching Ra’am.

“And this silver armband, my koaksekhel…have you ever observed anything like it?” Ra’am commanded the koaksekhel’s thin doorway to open. A small transparent image of Ha-Ta, approximately 6 inches in diameter, suddenly floated above the opening. “This is my spacecraft, or rather, an image of it. As you can observe, it has a large circular hallway, with an interior section dedicated to four distinct rooms. It is called a Memadshakor and can travel subterraneously. That is how we arrived here this evening.”

The image of Ha-Ta looked extremely, impossibly real, an actual tactile miniature, as she saw her first day with Ra’am. Nothing of earth’s present technology could possibly manufacture the image. Pastor Crenshaw attempted to touch it; he turned ghostly white, just like Mrs. Johnson, since his fingers fell through the image. She knew he couldn’t feel anything.

Pastor Crenshaw yanked his hand back.

A blue-gray swoosh cutting the air, Pastor Crenshaw whipped his wrist near his face. “Look at the time!” He looked at Ra’am. “Nice meeting you Ra’am.” He glanced at Trenae. She had never seen him like this. “Trenae,” he said tersely, giving a small nod. He launched up from his seat and hurried to his desk. Picking up a gray winter coat from the back of his desk’s chair, he turned around and faced both of them. “I apologize, but you two will have to leave now.”

“I am sorry, Jeff, but we cannot,” Ra’am said. “I, especially, cannot.”

Pastor Crenshaw walked forward a little, toward Ra’am. “Excuse me son, but are you threatening me? This is not a negotiation.”

Trenae felt her legs shaking. Great. She couldn’t watch and just looked down at the table. Her hands trembled too.

She heard Ra’am rise from his seat. “That is right,” Ra’am said, “there is no negotiation here. I wanted your permission, your accommodation, but I see you will not comply. Therefore, I will have to restrain you for a while. My time is limited here on earth, and so I do not have the luxury to go gallivanting around the earth, searching for another servant of God. You will have to do.”

She heard Pastor Crenshaw either cross his arms over his jacket or hold his jacket tighter. “Okay,” he said forcefully. “I’m calling the cops then.”

No longer could she look away. Lifting her head, Trenae saw the pastor dive toward the phone on his desk. Couldn’t Ra’am figure a better way to do this? Twice now, two nights in a row, she witnessed men rushing for their desks.

And just like last night, Ra’am took instant action. Out of her eye’s corner, she saw him make a swift motion. She turned to look up at him, just as he flung his right arm toward the desk, and then toward the door, at the room’s end. The same blue light appeared. The door slammed shut, hard. Trenae startled. The lights flickered.

She looked back at the pastor. Holding the phone to his ear in one hand, staring fearfully at Ra’am, he repeatedly pressed the receiver up and down with his other hand “You want to play games?” Pastor Crenshaw asked. “No problem.” He dug into a pocket of his coat and yanked out a small cellular phone, dropping the other phone to his desk. He began dialing the cellular phone. Shades of gray curtained across his face. Neither phone was going to work.

Ra’am started walking toward him. Now the pastor’s face became one of pure terror. Gone was the tough, ready-for-a-fight persona he had earlier. Little by little, the defeated pastor began moving behind Trenae, toward the door.

Pastor Crenshaw nearly ran, soon arriving at the door. Trenae stood up from her chair and turned to her left. Ra’am was just walking past her and toward the pastor, moving slowly, methodically.

Grabbing the doorknob, the pastor wiggled it hard, back and forth. It obviously wasn’t opening.

He dropped his gray coat, persisting to fumble the door knob, and stared at Ra’am.  Ra’am continued strolling toward him.

“This is impossible. There’s no lock on this door, and you weren’t even near it,” Pastor said, hysterical. He lowered his head, yet kept his eyes on Ra’am. “You’re a demon, aren’t you? Or you’re possessed.”

Pastor Crenshaw’s words and demeanor forced a violent chill through Trenae’s body.

“I am sure 1.6 billion Harkoavians would love to hear that,” Ra’am said. “Maybe I should call human beings demons, since your kind appears far more sinister and destructive than other alien beings.”

Trenae needed a better view, though rattled She stepped down toward the end of the table. Ra’am had stopped and now stood in front of the pastor. He rested his left hand on the wall and stared down at the confused, trembling human.

“There is no mention of alien species, from other planets, in the Bible,” Pastor Crenshaw said. He ceased wrestling with the doorknob and held his hand still, looking up at Ra’am.

“There is no mention of dinosaurs in your Bible as well. Are dinosaurs therefore demons likewise?”

“No…yes, maybe,” Pastor Crenshaw said. “Some believe that.”

Trenae moved a little closer. She saw Ra’am give the pastor a smile.

“Pastor Crenshaw, will you relax, please? I assure you, I will not harm you. And no, I am not a demon. I love the creator of the universe, just as you do, and try to serve Him, as I am able. Therefore…a house divided cannot stand.”

“Wh-where did you hear that?” Pastor Crenshaw asked.

“Was not Jesus also accused of being a demon, by the Pharisees? And what did he tell them?”

Pastor Crenshaw looked at Trenae, but then returned his stare to Ra’am’s face. “What you just said, more or less. How do you know our Bible, if you’re as you say, an alien?”

Removing his left hand from the wall, Ra’am pointed at his koaksekhel. “It is all stored here, your entire Bible. And I have read its’ entirety many times.” He turned away from the wall, walked over to the short bookcase, and kneeled down to view some of the books. “And earth’s Bible is not the only one, Pastor. Each planet with intelligent life has a bible, although each one has subtle and distinct variations. But ultimately, they speak the same truth. And each planet with intelligent life began its bible with a form of Hebrew.” Ra’am stood up and looked at the pastor. “That is why you recognized the definition of my name.”

Pastor Crenshaw walked away from the door, until he stood closer to Ra’am. “This is impossible, I hope you realize.”

“Yes, of course. It appears impossible because your interpretation of the Bible is flawed. Your perception of heaven and an imaginary hell are grossly distorted.” Ra’am crossed his arms.

Just like Dr. Stein’s reaction the night before, Pastor Crenshaw showed signs of mild delirium or mental breakdown, even physical exhaustion. He started to breath heavy, tremble more, and lower his head.

Ra’am uncrossed his arms and stepped over to him, taking the pastor’s right hand. “Here, please, sit down, before you fall down.” Leading the pastor, Ra’am politely helped him into the rocking chair. Then Ra’am walked past Trenae, gave her another quick wink, and eventually grabbed the nearest chair from the table. He brought the chair in front of the shaking pastor and sat down upon it.

Trenae noticed Pastor Crenshaw’s coat still on the floor. She quickly picked it up and placed it on the table. Then she eyed Ra’am and the pastor.

“Jeff, look at me,” Ra’am said gently, leaning over a little. Trembling, the pastor lifted his head. Trenae stepped over to Ra’am’s left side. “Before the universe or anything else was created by God, he created Yekomekhd. That is the name we know for Jesus, or God’s first creation, God’s son. Now we do not know precisely why your planet was chosen for his brief physical existence, but we do know that it was a perfect example of resurrection. What Jesus was trying to show, when he came back to life after several days in the death state, was what all of us can look forward to- a paradise universe, or, as we call it, Ensofyafah, where the dead will be resurrected and returned to a perfect, eternal state, upon the planets within this universe. Initially, of course, the dead will be resurrected upon their own planets…thereafter, we do not know where they will live, but--”

“Son, do you realize what you’re saying?” Pastor Crenshaw asked, huffing roughly and leaning over a little, locking his eyes on Ra’am. “This is blasphemy, blasphemy!”

Ra’am sat up straight. “No, I think it is blasphemy to teach that a God of love would torture his creations forever in a burning hell! Do you not know your own Bible explains that the dead are dead, and conscious of nothing at all? How then can they thereby suffer torment? Consider Ecclesiastes 9:5 or Ecclesiastes 9:10. Or Jeremiah 7:31, when God speaks- ‘they have built the high places of Topeth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire- something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.’ God did not ever consider this cruel idea!”

“We…we teach of Jesus’ saving grave, how he will prevent this,” Pastor said slowly, “if people simply believe in him.”

“But the damage is already done, to even suggest God could be so cruel! In Ecclesiastes 3:19, it says, ‘Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal.’ And in verse 20, it says, ‘All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.’ And I am sure you are familiar with Revelations 20: 13, 14.”

“Yes, I am,” Pastor Crenshaw said.

“In these verses, Hades, which is often referred to as hell, is thrown into a lake of fire. Now if hell was to be an eternal place of torment, why would it too be destroyed?”

“It is just a matter of interpretation. You have taken it out of context.”

Ra’am rested his forearms upon his knees, leaning over to the pastor’s eye level. “No, Jeff. The entire Bible must be taken as a whole, from the beginning to end. Do you realize the idea of hell actually began with other religions, like ancient Assyrian and Babylonia beliefs? They both believed in a nether world of horrors and torments, ruled by gods and demons of great power. There is also historical evidence of a fierce, burning hell in early Egyptian religion, as well as in early Buddhist religions and Etruscan religions. Etruscan beliefs were apparently absorbed and included by early Italian Catholic churches in ancient Rome, thereby fostering the torturous hell concept. ”

Ra’am began further explanations. Just as Trenae had heard it that time on the mountain side, Ra’am explained the differences and similarities of the words Gehenna, Valley of Hinnom, Hades, Sheohl, and even ge’enna.

Ra’am also explained the definition of soul, through some verses in the Bible, and even explained some additional information.

“In earth’s Hebrew,” Ra’am said, “the word nephesh means soul.”

“Yes, that it so,” Pastor said.

“The early Israelites on earth saw no dichotomy of the body and soul, and merely referred to every living being as a soul or nephesh, whether animal or intelligent being. Yes, God will capture and store our thoughts, memories, and personality at death. But when a being dies, the mind ceases to function. It is only later, when an intelligent being is resurrected, that those products of the mind will be reestablished with its original owner, original body, though a new, better body.”

Pastor Crenshaw leaned back into the rocking chair and placed his arms on the chair’s sides. Some color began returning to his face. “Now if I’m hearing this right, you’re saying there is no hell, no heaven, only a paradise universe. Is that right?”

“Partially. Correct, there is no hell. But, there is a heaven. However, it is only for a precise number of chosen few who will act as representatives for each planet of intelligent beings in this universe. The chosen few are prophets or faithful beings who once lived, but are now dead, transformed to spiritual beings. For earth, it will be 144,000 spiritual being representatives, and for my planet, Harkoav, it will be 100,000.”

“Hold on a minute,” Pastor Crenshaw said, leaning forward. “That’s not very many people, 144,000. Are you’re telling me, that all the times I’ve given funeral eulogies proclaiming how so and so went to heaven, since they were such a godly person, I…I was just blowing smoke?”

“Yes, most likely, unless that individual was one of the chosen few.”

Grabbing the rocking chair’s armrests, the pastor stood up. He walked a little, until he soon stood nearer to the table. He looked down at Ra’am. “You’re telling me, that all those children, those precious, precious children, that have died, and I was there, giving their bereaved parents a compassionate eulogy…that when I told the parents their son or daughter had gone to heaven, it was not true? Would YOU like to tell the parents of a child who died, that their child is simply…dead?”

“No, it is not like that,” Ra’am said. “There is no measurement of time during death. The next thing any of us will acknowledge, after we die, is our resurrection into Paradise, providing, of course, we are found acceptable by God for eternal life in Paradise. Therefore, simply explain, to the bereaved parents, that their child will feel no time. Time will not exist, and next they will be alive again.”

The pastor shoved his hand into his pockets and glanced down. Then he looked at Ra’am. “And what of those individuals who have been clinically dead, but then revived by the doctors? They talk of a beautiful bright light, or seeing their deceased relatives, or given information that is prophetic or simply impossible to know by any other means? What is THAT all about?”

“I cannot say for sure,” Ra’am answered, “since a dieing mind is vulnerable to many abnormal biochemical reactions. This phenomenon has happened to other Harkoavians, other aliens too. But, I will say this- possibly, these few individuals have merely seen the future, a form of time travel that God has allowed them. This would explain the presence of their relatives, since we will most likely be resurrected in the presence of those we know. But as far as being given special information, I cannot say why that occurred.”

“I can’t believe I’m listening to this!” Pastor Crenshaw said. “Sure, I don’t really have an open mind, you know, can’t teach an old dog new tricks…” He yanked a hand from his pant’s pocket and pointed a finger at Ra’am. “And believe me, THIS dog is old! And set in his ways!” He paused a little. “But what of all the beautiful descriptions of heaven, given to John?”

“Those descriptions were meant for the chosen few, such as Jesus’ disciples,” Ra’am said. “Think about it- heaven is described as a city, or a government. It makes sense, Pastor Crenshaw. Do not governing officials normally preside in a state’s or country’s main city? And Yekomekhd, or as you say, Jesus, will be the governor, president, king, residing too in this government or kingdom, which will rule the paradise universe. Heaven will be an unseen realm, populated by only spiritual beings, but the influence of this paradise kingdom will nonetheless be felt throughout the entire universe.”

“And there are other planets, besides yours and mine, that will have spiritual governing representatives?” Pastor Crenshaw asked.

“Yes. There is MR4, or Zelkor, in Andromeda galaxy, which will have 150,000 representatives, and DHZ6, or Protasa, again in my galaxy, having 200,000, as stated in their bible. And there are many others, like the planet Kaaz in what you know as the Triangulum galaxy, which will require 177,000 representatives, and I can go on.”

“No, that’s okay. Don’t wear yourself out,” Pastor Crenshaw said. Once more, he trembled. “Why…why would God create other intelligent beings, and not let us know?”

“A definite answer, I do not have, since there is little if any information about this in other planet’s sacred writings or bibles.  Maybe God simply loves to create. He will tell us some day, when we are ready. But all these other planets know of God’s first creation, Yekomekhd, Jesus. Our time now is a trial period, to live life without God’s direct rule through Yekomekhd, to see if we can all live in peace and harmony, like a paradise. But, we have failed. Would you agree?”

Pastor Crenshaw crossed his arms and stared at Ra’am. “No, it certainly hasn’t been a paradise for everyone.” He became silent a moment. “Jesus said, ‘My Kingdom is not of this earth.’ So, how will he therefore rule this planet?”

“Jesus also said, in Mathew 6:10, ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy WILL be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’”

“And what other proof from our Bible?”

“There is Revelation 5:10, ‘You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Or Psalm 37:11, ‘but the meek will inherit the earth and enjoy great peace,’ and verse 29 in the same chapter, ‘the righteous will inherit the earth and dwell in it forever.’ And of course, Mathew 5:5, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ 2 Peter 3:13 says, ‘but in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.’ Now this last verse obviously is speaking of a new heaven and new earth AFTER God’s first creation has established his rule over the universe, and all the malicious elements have been eliminated.”

Appearing drained and exhausted, Pastor Crenshaw stepped back to the rocking chair and plopped down. He looked at Ra’am. “Okay, fine. I will let you have the last word here, although I can see many holes in your theory, about the Kingdom. But there’s another thing that bugs me- God created man in his own image. Can you explain that?”

“Yes. Image means mind, or personality. We can never look like God, for God has no form.”

Ra’am picked up the Bible from the table. Using it as factual proof for the pastor, Ra’am began discussing and showing further details about God’s kingdom, citing more examples. He described what he knew of God’s existence, as lo t’khloom. And that God was ee-khomrey mehka’ad, behaving as a special form of anti-matter. He spoke too of other spiritual beings and their special importance as go-betweens for physical beings and spiritual beings, stating their names in Ra’yonah.

Continuing his explanation, Ra’am also stated how Harkoav knew of both good and bad spiritual beings, just as earth did. He talked too of physics, subatomic particles, and other astro-physical phenomena. He gave the names of other aspects of the spiritual realm, including heaven, again translating names in Ra’yonah, and even quoted scriptures from Harkoav’s bible explaining these different terms. Ra’am also explained the presence of Koavlek Kadeem and their role in the future, as extra planets for Ensofyafah. He also described how Harkoav experienced a prehistoric period, populated by huge animals, just like earth.

Trenae mostly listened, not speaking much, allowing her memory to become refreshed. But just as her legs began tiring and she went to grab a chair, Ra’am told her to stay by him instead. He stood up.

“Ultimately, Pastor Crenshaw…” Ra’am said. He stepped toward his jacket, lifting it from the chair by the table.

The pastor stood up too, slowly walking after Ra’am. “Yes?”

 Ra’am turned and looked down. “Ultimately, we cannot consider God without first considering the entire universe, for the two are inseparable.” Ra’am quickly painted a broad stroke around the pastor’s office with the blue koaksekhel light, grasping his jacket with the other hand. The door clicked an odd noise. He stared back at the pastor. “For why would God have created this magnificent universe, were it not for a purpose? All the billions of galaxies, trillions of stars, and even more numerous planets?  There is purpose for all of this. God would not have created it all, just to be destroyed some day, as everyone either dwells in heaven or in hell.

“Imagine the future, in a paradise universe, where all intelligent beings live forever…and consider travel at close to light speed, for those certain intelligent beings who have not acquired other means of space travel…What would it matter, if the traveler is gone for however many years, and his friends and relatives left behind wait even more years? They will still all be alive upon the traveler’s return! Time will be insignificant!” He began putting on his jacket.

“Yes, possibly, but,” Pastor Crenshaw said, crossing his arms, “there is one more thing I need to ask. What about the antichrist?”

Ra’am zippered his jacket. “Anti- generally meaning ‘opposite of’ in English. I will tell you what other intelligent life’s bibles reveal- toward the end days, when God’s first creation is close to acquiring his rule, there will be an increase in all that is evil. But, as the other bibles state, there cannot be only one individual who will supervise the whole process. This would be highly difficult, although not impossible. I would consider 1 John 2:18, in earth’s Bible, where it mentions that many antichrists have come, or 2 John, verse 7, which tells of many deceivers who do not believe in God’s first creation, and then calls these deceivers, collectively, a deceiver or antichrist.”

Done with his words, Ra’am walked toward the door. It opened easily. But Trenae couldn’t be shocked by that, not now. “I will wait for you out here,” Ra’am said, looking at her. “But please try to hurry. L.B. is probably frantic.” He left the room.

She never had a chance to remove her jacket. She walked over to her purse and picked it up from the floor, hearing Pastor Crenshaw put on his coat. His footsteps drew near her. He was there when she turned around.

“Trenae…how, how did…” he said tremulously. “…oh Lord, I’m still shaking!” With a troubled, child-like face, he held out trembling hands to show her.

“It’s all right Pastor Jeff, believe me,” she said, trying to sooth. “Ra’am is very intimidating on first exposure. But then, he gets easier to take.”

Pastor Crenshaw shoved his hands in his coat’s pockets and looked at her. “How on earth did you meet him?” His blue eyes now pierced with dogged determination.

“Well…I got into trouble, with some bad people.” She hung her head down. She lifted her head, staring into his eyes. “Things went real bad, after Dad died. My mother and Darin treated me terrible. And to make a long story short, it got to the point where I felt I had no choice but…to jump off this cliff.”

“No, Trenae,” he said softly, stunned.

 She sighed and gazed downward again. “And I was there, at the cliff, but couldn’t get the nerve. But as I was…as I was about to turn around and walk away,” she said, lifting her gaze, “I slipped and fell. I would have fallen to the bottom, and probably died, but Ra’am saved me.”

“He did?”

“Yes. And since I couldn’t go back, to my life, since the people I knew wanted me dead, I--”

“Wanted you dead?” Disbelief aged his face.

“They’re mob guys, and very dangerous.” She shrugged a little. “So, Ra’am let me stay with him, and I’ve been there ever since, about 3 months now. At least I’m still alive, for now, but after he leaves in 2 weeks, I don’t know…what will happen to me.”

“I’ll pray for you, Trenae.” He placed his hand on her shoulder for a moment.

“Thanks, umm…I hope it helps.”

“God answers prayers. Have faith.”

“I will.”

“And who is L.B.?”

“Oh, that’s Ra’am’s Golden Retriever.” She smiled quickly, but then became serious. “A man named Dod, a friend of his, gave the dog to Ra’am.”

“He has a dog and he has friends, besides you?”

“Yes, and now he knows you, and the paleontologist we met last night, so that’s 4 humans who have met him.”

“He really wants me to go with him to the moon, with the paleontologist?”

“Yes, that’s what he said…I think I better go find him. But it was really nice seeing you again. I’m just really sorry we met on such scary terms. But maybe next week, it will be more fun. Heck, I can’t wait! I mean, how many people can say they’ve been to the moon?”

“So he really has the capability?”

“Oh yes, we live in his spacecraft, and believe me, it can do amazing things!” Keeping eye contact with Pastor Crenshaw, she began passing by him.

“You live on it? Where?”

Trenae headed toward the door, yet looking at the pastor as he followed her. “Underground. It’s amazing!”

“That would certainly amaze me!”

She arrived at the doorway. Looking to her right and left, down both sides of the long hallway, Ra’am couldn’t be seen. “That’s funny,” she said. “Where did he go?” She turned around and looked at the pastor.

His eyes stared beyond her. “Look, over there.” He pointed across the hallway, in the sanctuary.

Following the pastor’s line of sight, Trenae found Ra’am. There, some distance away, Ra’am kneeled on his left knee before the white cross by the podium- a scene she would never forget. She began walking closer, across the hallway, into the sanctuary, and then past the pews. She could see that he held his hands together across the top of his right leg’s thigh, bent at the knee, his right foot flat on the floor. His elbows were bent outward, as though he had created a square shape with his arms near his chest’s front. His head hung low. Of course, she thought, another prayer stance for an ometvah.

She stopped about 3 feet away from him. “Ra’am? Are you okay?”

He didn’t answer.

“Ra’am, shouldn’t we go?” Confusion and worry rattled her.

“Trenae, come here.” She turned around. Pastor Crenshaw stood close by. “Maybe we should just leave him alone now,” he said softly. “He appears to be praying.”

“Yes, I know, but…” She heard Ra’am move. She turned back to see him.

Keeping his eyes on the cross, Ra’am stood up. “I am sorry,” he said, “so many have forgotten you.” He seemed as in a trance, not aware of his surroundings, but held his vision upon the cross.

After some silent moments, he turned and stared at Trenae and Pastor Crenshaw. “We should leave now. I apologize for not answering.” He stepped off the raised platform holding the podium. He gave Pastor a quick nod and began walking past Trenae.

She quietly followed Ra’am, Pastor Crenshaw walking with her.

Once out the sanctuary, Ra’am turned right, toward the eastside doors of the church, where Mrs. Johnson had exited. She and Pastor Crenshaw followed him.

They soon arrived at the double doors. Ra’am laid his hand on the doorknob and looked down at Pastor Crenshaw. “I know you have not come to terms, with what I have told you tonight, but try to picture this,” Ra’am said. “If Jesus were alive today, and met with me, I believe he would say this- ‘I do not care what part of the universe you are from…or what intelligent species you are…or what you have done in your past. I do not care, if you will now just love me and keep my commandments.’” Ra’am looked away a little, toward the floor. “It is the last part, keeping his commandments, which I struggle with.” He stared back at the pastor. “I am far from perfect, Pastor Crenshaw. Yes, I have the knowledge…I wish…I wish I was a better example of that knowledge.”

Pastor Crenshaw said nothing, simply staring back at Ra’am.

“I will be here next Friday, January 19th,” Ra’am said. “Please be here. You will not regret it.”

Finished speaking, Ra’am opened the doors and walked outside. Trenae followed him. She said one last good-bye to Pastor Crenshaw, and then the two of them walked away…
















                                                          Chapter 15



…Trenae sipped from her water and put the glass back down on the coffee table.

“So a week passed, before the 19th?” asked Jenny.

“Yes. We just spent the time like usual, searching for biological samples. And then, Friday evening came.”

“Rather exciting?”

Trenae smiled. “Oh yes, very exciting. Who do you know has been to the moon?”

“No one.”

Trenae laughed a little. “But anyway, after supper, we went to pick up Dr. Stein first. I wondered why him first, since Berkeley was a lot farther than Boise, but Ra’am suspected Dr. Stein would be far more agreeable with the situation than Pastor Crenshaw. So…he felt it would be better to have the professor on board, just to comfort Pastor with another human’s presence. And sure enough, when we went to pick up Dr. Stein, he was ready to go! He said he had deliberately kept students out of his office, telling them he was with someone already or was busy, so he would be free. He had his jacket on and was very excited.”

Jenny smiled.

“And so we walked out of the science building and eventually came to Ha-Ta’s ground entrance. Ra’am used the disk-elevator thing, and so all three of us went down together. As soon as we got down on Ha-Ta, L.B. tried to jump on Dr. Stein.” She smiled for a moment, looking at Jenny, but then became more serious. “But Dr. Stein barely noticed him, since he was all wide-eyed in disbelief at Ha-Ta’s interior. After explaining a few things to him, Ra’am told Dr. Stein to sit next to me, on the evesmol. And then we traveled back to Boise, to pick up the pastor.”

Trenae lifted her water glass, taking another quick drink. “It was weird. Dr. Stein asked me more than once if Ra’am and I were a couple.”

“Really,” Jenny said slowly. She crossed her legs and leaned forward. “Why did Ra’am have you sit by him?”

“I guess to have a human near him, so he felt better.”


“Yeah, so, anyway, Dr. Stein said it kind of quietly, so Ra’am wouldn’t hear. Dr. Stein told me he was divorced, for several years now, and didn’t have any kids. I think, well, he was attracted to me, cause he kept staring at my face. It kind of made me feel good, since most men would be gawking at my bod’ instead. I just sort of ignored it though- I thought he was just scared and nervous, because of the new experience and all and needed me to comfort him.

“But eventually, he couldn’t contain his obvious enthusiasm and asked Ra’am if he could sit by him, you know, in my usual seat. Ra’am said yes. Actually, I was relieved to not be by him anymore. They talked about the Memadshakor and science and all. Boring.”

Jenny smiled.

Trenae sighed. “Pastor Crenshaw was in his office, when we came into the church and no one else was there.”

“Really? I thought for sure, he’d call the cops or something.”

“Ya know, that’s what I thought too!” Trenae’s eyes widened. “I thought for sure he would have the cops, or a bunch of church people there. But no, it was…well, quiet in the church. Peaceful. Not like I expected. Pastor Crenshaw seemed kinda sad and calm. When Ra’am asked him if he was ready, he simply went to get his coat and left with us, not talking much. I tried sparking up a conversation with him though. Ra’am also introduced him to Dr. Stein, since he came with us in the church.

“And everything seemed okay, until we came back to Ha-Ta’s ground entrance. Pastor Crenshaw started to panic- breathing hard, looking sweaty- when he looked down the hole. Ra’am told Dr. Stein and I to go down first, to show him it was okay. And when we got down there, I looked up at them. Pastor was saying stuff about it being like hell and all, and then Ra’am would remind him there was no hell.”

“You could hear them? Weren’t you too far down?”

“No, actually, since that particular spot, even though it was by trees, enabled us to be closer to the surface. So, yes, I could hear them. So could Dr. Stein. Eventually, though, Pastor Crenshaw said he wasn’t going. But then Ra’am told him ‘no was not an option’ and quickly grabbed the pastor in a bear hug. He brought both of them down on the disk.”

“Oh no.”

“True, right. Pastor Crenshaw was still freaking out.”

“Ra’am hadn’t hurt him, right?”

 “No, no. It’s just that, well, Pastor was breathing hard as soon as he got down there. And then he grabbed his chest, near his heart. I right away started to panic, felt really sorry for him. But then…well, Ra’am…Ra’am was great.” Trenae smiled and looked away briefly. The memory soothed. “He immediately removed the pastor’s jacket and then placed his hands on Pastor’s heart area. Ra’am seemed really concerned, wanting to help.”

“Gave him that calming touch?”

“Yes. Almost instantly, Pastor started looking less frightened and began breathing less hard. It was incredible! Dr. Stein looked so amazed! And after he had calmed down, Ra’am told Pastor Crenshaw that one of the arteries by his heart was clogging with cholesterol plaque, along with some inflammation occurring. He then said he could cure this, easily. Ra’am told me to run and get some tse makh yerape, which I did. Ra’am gently sat Pastor down on the evesmol and told him to eat the leaves. And he did, after I assured him it would be fine.”

“Ra’am told him to eat them?” Surprise shook Jenny’s voice.

“Yes. Ra’am felt it was the quickest way, and they tasted like crispy, apple-flavored lettuce leaves, since I ate some too, just to reassure Pastor. And so, he did, after watching me.”

“Hmm, interesting. Tse makh yerape can both be eaten and placed on the skin.”

“Yes, true. But…gradually, everyone calmed down, even L.B., who came over by Pastor and me. And so Ra’am went back to the shleetah maksheer and we started moving. Pastor Crenshaw eventually ate all the leaves Ra’am gave him. Dr. Stein sat by Ra’am again, near the control panel.”

“Oh, so you sat by the pastor, to comfort him?”

“Yes, that’s right. I wanted to make sure he was all right, although I knew he must be. I just wanted to comfort him, be close by. I talked to him quietly.

“Ra’am told us after a bit, that we were heading for the continental slope, by the Farallon Islands again, near San Francisco.”

“I see,” Jenny said.

“Ra’am felt it would be best to enter the earth’s atmosphere from the Pacific Ocean, since there would be less aircrafts or boats, or any human occupied vehicle in that area. Also, less Air Traffic Control radar or other satellite tracking there- but that didn’t matter much, since he was making Ha-Ta invisible anyway and non-trackable by radar, so… Once we left the continental slope and entered the dark ocean, Ra’am did something that was really cool. He formed a window, khalonot hekef, around the entire interior perimeter wall of Ha-Ta.”

“What do you mean exactly?”

“Well, just that the wall behind the pastor and I, and everywhere else, except for the ceiling and the floor, was like a glass window to the outside! Ra’am still had his control panel visible and we still saw the seat we were on, but that whole curved wall…actually, looked like it didn’t exist!”

“You’re right. That is sweet!”

“It gave us a most excellent view of everything, yet felt really strange, as though we would fall out or be hit by passing objects. It was really incredible.

“Ra’am then explained how Ha-Ta would keep our interior gravity, air pressure, the composition of the interior atmosphere, the temperature…everything, completely under control. He explained to Pastor and Dr. Stein how they didn’t need to worry about G-forces or wearing a seat belt, because of Ha-Ta’s proodat t’notat meeshkal. And he even reassured Dr. Stein that no cosmic or solar radiation would get to us. Ha-Ta was just built and designed for space travel. And then he went into how a Memadshakor was extremely, nearly infinitely complex at the atomic level, yet functioned incredibly simple at a larger level.

“Boy, I’ll tell you Jenny. I never was in an airplane before, and except for that short trip we took from Manhattan to the Hudson River, air travel was a stranger to me!”

“I haven’t done it much too,” Jenny said. “Just local state travel, for The Examiner.”

“So, needless to say, it was very exciting…Well, once we left the Pacific Ocean, we headed west. Ra’am put Ha-Ta in computer navigation mode and began to talk more to Dr. Stein and Pastor. They talked about traveling through the different layers of the earth’s atmosphere, like the troposphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, ionosphere, etc. We were on the dark side of the earth and gaining altitude, while at the same time still heading west toward the sun. It was incredible, seeing the earth from so high, even in the dark. You could see some cities down below, from their lights!”

“Wow,” Jenny said dreamily. She leaned forward and rested her chin on her hands.

“Ra’am told us he had the taktselekh figure a route around all the satellites and other space junk, like pieces of old equipment from satellites and other stuff, up around the earth. But finally, we started to head into the sun. When you’re up in space, the sun’s rays are so intense when you see them. You’ve probably seen the Space Shuttle floating up there, with dark all around, but still getting the sun…you know, like on TV?”

“Oh sure. Who hasn’t?”

“Yeah, it’s like that. Except, when we headed toward the moon, we were headed exactly toward the sun as well. At first, it was excruciatingly bright, but then Ra’am immediately produced this darkening or block on the khalonot hekef, from the sun’s rays. We could see everything very well, but without the intense glare.

“It was amazing. Right after he did that, we all turned around and looked back at the earth. Dr. Stein could see the Soviet Union, under some clouds, and China too. We also could see Africa and Asia, the more we traveled away, and even some of Australia. It was so stunning and incredible!”

“I bet!”

“The earth, on its horizons, looked so pretty. It looked like a compressed rainbow, of black, purple, and different shades of blue.” Trenae’s gaze wandered away, away from Jenny’s face, remembering the thrilling scene. “And it’s true, what they say. The rest of the earth does look blue, mostly. And as we got farther away from it, and I looked back, it kind of reminded me of a fragile, blue Christmas bulb.” She looked back at Jenny. “So breakable. Not the tough, rock hard appearance it had when we were traveling to the earth’s core.”

“Wow, I bet.”

“Ra’am told us the moon was near its perigee, or closer position to earth, so we were about 230,000 miles from it. We were also traveling toward a new moon. Dr. Stein got all techno again, started asking how Ha-Ta could fly away from the earth’s gravitational pull and magnetosphere so easily, and, of course, Ra’am explained it all. Pastor and I just looked around and talked about the scenery. Those two…talking about science…” Trenae shook her head a little.


She looked at Jenny. Jenny appeared perceptive of something; it just wasn’t apparent what something.

“So,” Jenny said, “you were heading toward the moon. Could you see stars, or did you watch the earth fade into the distance?”

“No stars really. Maybe one or two real bright ones, since the sun’s brightness blocked them out. But we could see the earth well, watch it get smaller. We looked all around us. And also, at some point during the short trip, since it only took us about 20 minutes, Ra’am showed Pastor Crenshaw the mammoth scene from Harkoav. He was very impressed. He liked it a lot. In fact, the more we traveled, the more Pastor Crenshaw and Dr. Stein became like little boys at Disney Land or something. Me, I was pretty happy and spastic too!”

“I’m sure! I think I would be.”

She smiled at Jenny. “And so finally, the moon became absolutely huge!” Trenae’s voice filled with enthusiasm. “We finally neared it! We first started to descend toward the dark side of the moon, or the side pointing to the earth at that time. Ra’am told us that we would eventually land on Mare Frigoris, which means ‘sea of cold’, but first he wanted to show us the far side of the moon, since it was never visible to earth.”

“Really? I didn’t know that. Or maybe I was taught it once in school, but forgot.”

“Yeah, it’s really neat! The side we see, when we look at the moon, is always the same, because the moon rotates at nearly the same speed as its revolution around earth.”

“Then is it really turning?”

“Yes. Dr. Stein told me, the way to prove it, is to have someone stand as the earth, and not move. And then another person starts to walk around the earth person, but always faces that person. You will see, the one walking around does turn, just slowly!”

“Okay, I’ll take your word for it,” Jenny said. “So you headed for the far side?”

“Yes, that’s right. Ra’am had Ha-Ta descend first toward the moon’s north pole, flying ever closer to the surface until the moon no longer appeared rounded at the horizons, but instead flatter. It was so exciting! Since there’s no atmosphere on the moon, the sun just became a big, glowing white-orange sphere, against a black background, similar to when we traveled toward the moon. So cool! But before long, we could make out the lunar surface, a picture in stark contrasts, since sunlight brightened some area, others it did not, leaving unlighted areas really pitch black. The moon’s far side had a lot more craters and lacked many of these dark, smooth maria areas than the near side had.”

“Maria area?”

 “Yes, like Mare Frigoris, meaning like a dry sea bed area.”

“Oh, I see.” After Trenae spelled it, Jenny scribbled it down. “Go ahead.”

“So, we continued to travel south across the far side, with Ra’am keeping us all informed as we traveled. We eventually arrived at the moon’s south pole. Unfortunately, our visit of the far side was over.” She frowned a little.

But Jenny’s eyes brightened; she seemed eager to hear more.

“So, Ha-Ta headed north on the near side,” Trenae said. “It was relieving, to finally be away from the sun’s glare. But, at the same time, it was far darker on the near side surface, except for some sunlight reflecting off earth’s surface, just like a full moon brightens our night sky.”

“I get it.”

Gleaming memories passed before Trenae’s eyes. “Everyone on Ha-Ta, except Ra’am, gushed in wonder at seeing the earth,” she said softly, “so far, so beautiful in the moon’s night sky.

“But Ra’am wasn’t finished with us yet.” Trenae then stated more details, explaining how Ra’am had Ha-Ta descend toward Mare Frigoris, in an area just northwest of the crater Plato. Ra’am produced powerful light beams, from Ha-Ta’s front, lighting large oval sections of the lunar surface. Then, like a falling, floating balloon, Ha-Ta landed. Trenae immediately noticed the landscape, a flat, smooth terrain, with powdery, gray soil, along with a few small hills and valleys visible within Ha-Ta’s lighted area.

“But,” Trenae said, “what I kept looking at, was the earth, in the sky. We had a perfect view.” She sighed. “Then, Ra’am said we were going outside.” Her eyes widened. “Everyone, including me, started freak-ing out! Dr. Stein kept saying that was impossible, without space suits. Ra’am said he agreed, that the temperature outside was like -245 degrees F, since we were out of the sun now. On the moon’s sunny side, it gets about 273 degrees F ABOVE zero!”

“That much difference?” Jenny asked curiously.

“Yes, because of no atmosphere.”

“Wow, that’s crazy.”

“I know, I know, really! But Ra’am reassured us that he could accomplish this without suits for us. He said he couldn’t control the gravity of the moon, although he said we would probably find interesting its lightening effects- but, he could control everything else.

“Ra’am said he would produce a hemoom prodoh dome, which would also go a few feet below the surface and completely connect to the other sides, so the dome was like a closed tube, allowing us to walk on the moon safely. He said he would accommodate for the moon’s vacuum and lack of adequate nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, water vapor and other gases, all in the right combo, that earth had. And he would heat the air and even have the hemoom prodoh dome prevent condensation and ice from forming on its interior. And finally, he would be able to disable, or render harmless, any radioactive particles, whether solar or cosmic or other, and make the lunar soil safe. Even destroy any possible harmful bacteria, viruses, or other substances, but he doubted there would be any.

“All three of us then watched as hemoom prodoh began to pour out of the top, sides and bottom of Ha-Ta’s right side and front.”

“The right side too?”

“Yes, because that’s where the delet yahmon was.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s true.”

“We could also hear this whooshing sound. Ra’am told us it was Ha-Ta regulating the vacuum of the moon’s surface area. And finally, the hemoom prodoh had constructed this terrarium-like capsule or bubble, which was about 100 feet long, 60 feet wide, and maybe 20 feet high, sort of oblong, and stretching out from Ha-Ta’s front, toward the earth, but still allowing us to enter it from the side entrance.”

“And then you guys went out? What was it like, to have so little gravity?”

Trenae noticed she had Jenny’s complete, undistracted attention, unlike previous exciting moments.

“Well, before we went out, Ra’am warned us that we could feel some uncomfortable sensations, but to not let them bother us, since all were reversible and we were only going to be  on the moon for a short time. He could just give any of us some tse makh yerape when we were done, if any of us felt uncomfortable. But he really thought we should experience the lower gravity, for the fun of it.”

“Uh-oh, but what were the symptoms?”

“Well, because our bodies are mostly fluids, and because our cardiovascular system usually fights against earth’s gravity, we could get some stuffy noses, or dizziness, or a queasy stomach, just minor things. Nothing bad.”

 “Could ruin the fun, though.”

“Actually, no. None of us really felt anything, so we had a blast! See, we only weigh 1/6 of our weight on earth- so, since I weigh about 115 lbs., I only weighed 19 pounds on the moon! And then since Dr. Stein was 170, he was about 28 lbs. and Pastor was about 225, so he weighed around 37! But the worst was for L.B., who was around 80, so he was just 13, and you know how hyper he could be! Ra’am was around 64 pounds, but still…Ra’am warned us we would probably hit the ceiling or sides of the hemoom prodoh, but not to worry, since it was flexible yet very strong.”

“Wow, that’s really, really cool,” Jenny said. “I’d probably be around your weight too. So, the hemoom prodoh shield was completely see-through?”

“Yes, so we could see very well everywhere.” Inhaling deeply, Trenae stared off toward the dark TV screen, remembering. “Oh, man, it was so incredible. The light was still on, from Ha-Ta, so we could see pretty good, but we wished we could’ve been in sunlight, to see out faraway more on the moon.

“We all either touched the lunar soil, since Ra’am said it had been rendered safe, or we jumped around, just like a bunch of astronauts. L.B. barked at us and tried to play.  It was a really great time. Dr. Stein and Pastor Crenshaw even checked out Ha-Ta, the part they could get near under the hemoom prodoh. They could see some Ra’yonah words and letters on the outside of Ha-Ta, and Ha-Ta’s varying crystal-like surface. They touched it, looked at it. Ra’am explained a lot of the letters, what the words meant too.

“But then finally, Ra’am told us to come stand near him. He stood near the far end of the hemoom prodoh dome and looked toward earth. He held my hand, to keep me steady, while the other two managed to keep their balance by either holding onto the dome’s sides or each other. We all looked up at Ra’am, at first, but then I looked toward Pastor Crenshaw and Dr. Stein…



…Dr. Stein turned to his right and stared at Pastor Crenshaw.  Ra’am remained silent for the moment, gazing toward the earth.

“A friend of mine has been telling me for years to purchase an acre parcel on the moon,” Dr. Stein said. “I never did it though, always thought it was silly. But now, I definitely will!”

“You’re kidding!” said Pastor Crenshaw. “That’s possible?”

“Yes, I kid you not. Some organization bought the real legal rights to all the planets, for real estate. I think it’s called the Lunar Embassy. It’s on the Internet.”

“I’ll have to check it out, being that I’ve been here now too!” Pastor Crenshaw said. He struggled to steady himself, while Dr. Stein placed his hand on Pastor’s shoulder. Both he and Dr. Stein laughed for a moment.

When they finished laughing, Ra’am looked at both men. “Actually,” Ra’am said. Trenae looked up at him. “As I told Pastor Crenshaw, I did not bring you here to observe the moon, as much as I brought you here to observe your planet, earth, and its place in the universe.”

L.B. started to jump up on Ra’am. Trenae leaned down to gently hold him, with her free left hand. Ra’am held her other hand tightly and attempted to pet L.B. and keep him near the moon’s surface.

Ra’am apparently ordered the lights on Ha-Ta to dim, for the scene around them suddenly grew very dark, except for the light from the earth. “Do you see your planet clearer now, in the sky?” Ra’am asked. He lifted his arm from L.B. and straightened his stance.

“We most certainly do, now that it’s darker,” Dr. Stein answered, glancing around himself and then looking toward the blue planet.

“Yes, Ra’am, this is the most magnificent event in my life,” Pastor Crenshaw said. “To not only view God’s earth, but also his moon.”

Trenae stood quietly, staring at the beautiful earth, holding Ra’am’s hand.

“I have a story to tell you,” Ra’am said. His deep voice vibrated differently; sounds within the dome were strangely hushed, without reverberation, like a padded acoustic or sound room. “When I was young, possibly the equivalent to a 3 year old human child, my mother would tell me a nighttime story about the great Meenhar Tovalah.”

“What is that?” Dr. Stein asked.

He and Pastor Crenshaw seemed to be struggling to stand steady, unconditioned to their new light weight, like Trenae. Yet, they both seemed curious and eager to listen.

“The nearest equivalent in terms of earth’s science is a worm hole, although it is not a worm hole,” Ra’am said. “My ancestors discovered a special subatomic particle called khelh lo neerh, which means invisible particle, or, it is sometimes called khelh lo zmarh, meaning God particle.  It was discovered thousands of years ago. Khelh lo neerh is a subatomic particle of the smallest order, related to the graviton in function, since it regulates gravitation within the universe. Yet it differs from the graviton too, since it also regulates time.”

“You mean, like a form of dark matter or dark energy?” Dr. Stein asked excitedly.

“Yes, similar, yet different from those. Khelh lo neerh unites all time frames within the universe onto the same plane of time. In other words, to this particle, large distances between bodies of matter do not exist. In fact, to khelh lo neerh, the universe is still a tiny particle.

“And where as light photons cause time distortion, the paths of khelh lo neerheem will not. Light particles travel another route within the universe. That is why when someone on earth looks to the sky, he or she sees every star or galaxy in the past. Yet, when an ometvah on Harkoav looks to the sky, right now, they see stars or galaxies, like the Milky Way, in the past likewise. But we have discovered that all planets with intelligent life are all on the same time frame, so light photons in space are not within our reality.”

“Amazing,” Dr. Stein said.

“Yes, it is,” said Ra’am. “That is how khelh lo neerh is significant. My ancestors determined that they could find the paths of these particles, since some start and end at certain points, and use these paths as a form of space travel from one planet to another, from one point to another. Nowadays, we use Memadshakoreem to find the precise mathematical wave moment, or regameesh, of khelh lo neerh that will enable the presence of khomron ravkoakh, an exotic subatomic matter. Although this is a very complicated and detailed process, all it basically means is that we can enlarge and travel through khelh lo neerh paths.

“But in the past, they built Meenhar Tovalah to accomplish this. It was a tremendous achievement. My ancestors considered it a gift from God, since it enabled ometvaheem to behave as God, being able to be everywhere at the same time and yet not distort time. Hence, the name khelh lo zmarh.”

“That is quite interesting,” Pastor Crenshaw said.

“Fascinating Ra’am, truly fascinating,” Dr. Stein said exuberantly.

“I agree,” said Ra’am. “However, that is not the significance of my story. My mother would describe to me, when a small child, how many hundreds of thousands of my ancestral ometvaheem accomplished great physical feats and suffered through extraordinary emotional and mental distress…to finally build and enable this amazing structure, situated just outside our solar system. Once completed, it allowed Harkoav to proceed with true universe travel and colonization. This was a story full of heroes, gallantry, and self sacrifice- a special tale, told not just to me, but to many Harkoavian children, like the nursery rhymes and fables told to earth children. The story made me feel triumphant and enchanted inside, and long for the future, when I would be an adult and accomplish such wonderful achievements.”

“So it was like the old medieval stories, like of knights and kings and dragons, since it was based on reality?” Trenae asked.

“Or like Santa Clause?” asked Dr. Stein.

Ra’am looked down at her and then at Dr. Stein. “Yes, in a way, similar to both. Yet I thought, as did many of my childhood friends, that it was purely factual, a true life tale.” He paused a moment, contending with L.B. She felt he stopped deliberately for some reason.

“What do you mean,” asked Pastor Crenshaw, “…you thought it was?”

“I thought, for a long time, as did other young ometvaheem, that it happened exactly as we were told,” Ra’am said. “However, as the years passed by, we learned it was a story consisting of many more details- and also, a story with many deleted parts. We had not been told the whole story.”

“What was left out?” she asked.

“The fact that a war had occurred over the Meenhar Tovalah’s construction, a war between the two territories involved in its formation and completion. And we found out too, that slaves had been used to build many of the materials for its construction, slaves who were not near the actual site in space, but who worked in atrocious conditions, in deep underground mines, on Harkoav or other planets within our solar system. And there was other corruption, there were other problems. But none of these were ever told to my friends and me.”

“When did you find out?” she asked. She looked up at him. Ra’am appeared even more handsome, more surreal than usual, basking in the light of the earth.

“When I was older, as a young adolescent, through our history archives at school,” Ra’am answered. “Many of my friends did the same. It was a bit enlightening for us, yet mostly it was frustrating and puzzling. We had to rethink our entire early childhood belief system, of our parents and those in authority over us. We had to wonder- what else had they hidden from us, in full details? We had to wonder…had our parents lied to us?”

Ra’am became silent. Trenae turned left. Pastor and Dr. Stein both gazed at Ra’am. But Ra’am didn’t return the favor; he stared straight ahead at the earth.

“No, I don’t think your parents lied to you,” Dr. Stein said. “You were a child. It was a bedtime story. They wanted you to be proud of your ancestors, and yet not overwhelm you with other frightening or confusing details.”

“Yeah, I would agree with Dr. Stein. Your mother was just giving you the bare minimal of details, just enough to give you an interesting story,” Pastor Crenshaw said. “Probably more for entertainment, I would believe. And education. At least you were given a basic foundation about the Meenhar Tovalah, so you would be familiar with it. Your knowledge could grow from that base. You could obtain more as the years went by, like you did.”

“Yes, exactly,” said Dr. Stein, looking at Pastor Crenshaw. Then he looked farther right,  to see Ra’am. “You were, after all, just a child! I am assuming here that ometvah children have a lesser degree of intellect than adults, like humans, is that correct?”

“Yes, that is correct,” Ra’am answered. He kept his eyes on the earth.

“Well then, you could only absorb so much information,” said Dr. Stein. “You were just a young child. How could you be expected to understand more?”

Ra’am smiled slightly. Calm and barely unbalanced from the weak gravity, he continued staring at the earth.

But Trenae noticed the pastor began appearing confused.

“I’m sorry, but what does any of this have to do with our planet, the earth?” Pastor Crenshaw asked.

“I am getting to that,” Ra’am said. “More than you realize.” He looked down at Dr. Stein. “Dr. Stein, what is your opinion of the account of Genesis?”

Dr. Stein appeared startled by Ra’am’s question. “You mean…all of Genesis, or just the beginning, about creation?”

“About creation, how all of this before us began,” Ra’am answered.

Dr. Stein looked up at the earth too. “I have read it. It does not appear accurate, from a scientific point of view, with the days, the amount of time spent on creating the earth, or for that matter, the universe. Or the oceans, plants, animals. The time frame is just off.”

“However, it does seem to fall into the right order, of which things were created first and so on,” Pastor said, looking at Dr. Stein.

“Oh yes, I would agree with that, especially when you look at other creation myths, like Greek Mythology,” Dr. Stein said. “But the time frame, a day for this, a day for that, just doesn’t, well, seems out of whack! With what we know, from the geological time frame.”

“I am sure,” Ra’am said, “that you have heard a day could mean a period of time. Not 24 hours, but years. Thousands, millions, or even billions of years. Not a literal day, as your world speaks of, but a day an eternal spiritual being would label to mean a period of time. For instance, when you say ‘in my father’s day,’ or ‘in my great grandmother’s day,’ you do not mean one day of their life, but a period of time when they lived. I would assume, this may be the actual meaning of ‘day’ used to describe time units in the creation account.”

“I have heard of this,” Pastor Crenshaw said. “But what does this have to do with your nighttime story?”

Ra’am turned and looked down at Pastor Crenshaw. However, his motion came far too fast, startling both Pastor and Dr. Stein. Having noticed it for some time now, though, Trenae remained unfazed. “Do you not understand?” Ra’am said. “The creation account in Genesis, the story was for the young child, the three year old, receiving a nighttime story. He could not understand adult or mature ideas, and so he was given a basic and simple story, something he could easily comprehend.

“But as this child became older and wiser, he realized that details were left out. Many details. Further explanations were omitted. And so, finally, he had to ask- was he lied to? Yet that could not be, since he also knew the Creator does not lie. There had to be another reasonable answer.”

Ra’am became quiet and returned his gaze toward the sun-lit earth. L.B stayed calm. Silence spread through the entire enclosed dome area; Ra’am apparently was waiting for a comment on his thoughts. But neither Dr. Stein nor Pastor Crenshaw opened their mouths.

“Wait a minute,” Trenae said. She stared down toward the moon’s gray, powdery surface and smiled. Puzzle pieces caught in the wind had fallen down, into place. “I think…the Genesis story is for all people and all ages, and, for all times! Because, when, when people first began, they could not have been so smart, or have all the knowledge we have now. I mean, the creation account was for all time periods, throughout our history. But as we became more knowledgeable as time went by, it looked more and more like a child’s story, something far too immature for our time period.” She lifted her head, just as Ra’am turned. He no longer looked at the earth, but smiled at her instead. “Am I right?” she asked.

Ra’am’s smile beamed wider. “Yes, exactly! I am proud of you, Trenae. You do understand.”

He squeezed her hand a little too. Feeling a bit funny at being the center of attention now, she looked down and smiled. “Thank you. I don’t know, it just hit me, what you were trying to say.”

L.B. became energetic and forced himself away from Ra’am’s side. He began to jump high, flipping, turning everywhere within the hemoom prodoh dome, barking now and then. Everyone laughed.

While L.B. passed over them like a flying dog-shaped kite, heading toward Ha-Ta, Ra’am released Trenae’s hand and carefully moved and stood before Pastor and Dr. Stein. Once before them, he took both their right hands and began to lead them backwards, slowly, toward the far north end of the dome. Trenae followed them.

“What are we looking at now?” asked Dr. Stein. Ra’am continued to pull them forward.

“A better view of the earth?” Pastor Crenshaw asked.

“Do you notice that the earth is in its full phase?” Ra’am asked. He ignored their questions.

“Because the moon is new,” said Dr. Stein.

“Yes,” Ra’am answered. He stopped and stared down at them. They stared back up at him. “I want the two of you to hold hands.” Ra’am released his grip from their hands and held their shoulders, steadying them in the moon’s light gravity.

“Why would you want us to do that?” Dr. Stein asked.

“It is symbolic,” Ra’am said. “Please.”

“Even though he’s a Jewish scientist?” Pastor Crenshaw said. “Sure, I’ll hold his hand.”

Trenae smiled.

“Ha ha, very funny, Mr. Christian Fundamentalist,” Dr. Stein said.

After they gave each other a few silly grimaces, Trenae watched, standing near Ra’am, as the two men joined hands. They stood carefully, maneuvering their stance to balance their light weight.

Ra’am appeared pleased, a slight smile warming his face. He turned around and faced the earth. “Your home planet is so beautiful, do you not agree?”

“Yes,” they both said in unison.

“And the cosmos is so incredibly glorious and extraordinary- the stars, the planets, all around us now. Even the surface of earth’s moon provides such evidence. But as I told Pastor Crenshaw last week, we cannot consider either the universe or God alone, for the two are one.

“Although we do not have all the answers on Harkoav, nor do the other planets with intelligent life, we know of some things. Dr. Stein, I will let Pastor Crenshaw fill in the other details I told him, about Ensofyafah and our other beliefs. However, I will simply tell you this. We believe the universe will be our eternal home. That is one of the reasons there are so many galaxies, with so many solar systems. Another possible reason…God may have allowed a random explosion of possibilities to occur, with galaxies and their contents, enabling greater numbers of viable planets capable of supporting intelligent life. The greater the number, the higher the probability of life-supporting solar systems.”

“But wouldn’t that contradict your antagonistic view point of evolution?” asked Dr. Stein.

“No, it would not, because the mathematics of evolution cannot change,” Ra’am answered. “If God uses random formation to achieve his desired results, then there must be a valid reason. But we cannot know every reason God works.

“Nevertheless, the reason I am having you both hold hands, as you are probably aware, is to symbolize how your world must join religion and science.” Turning, Ra’am looked down at the two men again. “Your religion’s theory of a heaven and hell, and your science’s theory of evolution, has confused the people of earth. There is a gap between the two theories, which cannot be bridged. If you believe as Harkoav does, however, unity can be reached.

“Do you know one of the reasons I became a scientist?” Ra’am asked.

“To confuse unsuspecting paleontologists of earth?” Dr. Stein asked, humor in his tone.

            Trenae laughed a little. Ra’am smiled, and looked down at the ground for a brief moment. Then he lifted his gaze and stared intently at both men. “I became a scientist, because I could look into the mind of God,” he said. “And it is a mind brilliant beyond limits we could ever fathom.” Ra’am glanced right, yet smiling. But nothing existed to look at on his right. She knew it was in his mind, a scene few could ever view.

            Ra’am looked down at both men. “So you see, when you study science, you are studying religion indirectly. Theologians, other religious leaders, and scientists of your planet, need to come together and compare their knowledge, especially their historical knowledge. For, did you realize, documentation of historical events, written in a clearly functional language, is one of the main attributes that distinguishes us from the lower life forms, the animals? And someday in the future, these historical documents, from all the intelligent life planets, will be used in a type of court proceeding by God, to provide proof, once and for all, of which existence is better- a life ruled by our own species, or a life ruled by God, through Yekomekhd.”

Dr. Stein seemed quite curious of the new name. Quietly, Pastor Crenshaw explained the name Yekomekhd, of whom it referred to and what significance the name held.  Ra’am appeared pleased, that Pastor tried to relate information he had learned from Ra’am.

“And now, you may release your hands,” Ra’am said. Both Pastor Crenshaw and Dr. Stein did so. They both seemed as in a trance.

 “But I want you to document this experience,” Ra’am said. “Record it into your history. Tell as many other humans as you can. Because I believe, if your world does not come together in science and religion, then your future is more uncertain than it should be.”

After Ra’am finished speaking, Dr. Stein and Pastor Crenshaw began comparing what Ra’am had told each of them. They also asked further questions from Ra’am.

Trenae listened to them awhile. Then, she tried reaching L.B. Due to his light weight, he obtained the greatest heights. Eventually, though, she took hold of the energetic dog and gently wrestled him to the ground and played with him. But she didn’t allow their fun together to distinguish her desire for the cosmic scenery. Every moment she could, she looked up, around, and down to observe a scene few if any had ever witnessed. Within, she felt privileged and important.

I’ll have to thank Ra’am even more, she thought, later on.

Time passed. Ra’am decided they needed to return to earth. Soon, she, Ra’am, and the others, along with L.B., entered Ha-Ta. After Ra’am sealed the delet yahmon and absorbed the hemoom prodoh dome into Ha-Ta, they headed toward earth.

Dr. Stein and Pastor Crenshaw spoke further to each other on the trip back, both sitting on the evesmol. She watched them from her normal seat, by Ra’am. Often, they would question Ra’am too. He tried to give the best answer he could, for many questions were more of a theological standpoint.

Allowing for earth’s rotation, Ra’am had Ha-Ta enter the earth’s atmosphere in nearly the identical way it had left. Dr. Stein became quite curious, wondering how Ha-Ta could enter the atmosphere without causing a fiery, burning enclosure to surround its exterior. But Ra’am simply explained that earth’s atmosphere was being miniaturized, just like underground travel, so in effect, the atmosphere did not even exist around Ha-Ta.

Once within the lower atmosphere, they soon entered the Pacific Ocean again. And then eventually, Ha-Ta traveled effortlessly through the subterranean earth.

Pastor Crenshaw arrived at his starting point first. She and Ra’am, along with Dr. Stein, but minus the rambunctious L.B., walked Pastor into his church. He appeared extremely grateful for the magical trip into outer space and the unbelievable tour of the moon. After everyone talked a few more minutes, Trenae discovered Pastor seemed far more open-minded than she had previously determined. Pastor looked up into Ra’am’s face, shaking his hand, and appeared pleased, even happy, to have met an alien.

Soon, they left Grace Baptist Church.

The trip to Berkeley went quickly for Trenae. Ra’am camouflaged himself first and then walked with Dr. Stein and her to the professor’s office. Fortunately, with the time nearly 9:00 pm, few people scuttled about within the science building. The walk and eventual entry into the professor’s office came without incident.

Just before she and Ra’am and were about to leave the professor’s office, Dr. Stein called out to her. He carried something, hurrying over to them. As soon as she saw it, her heart crashed to the floor.

“By the way, I had your rock checked out,” Dr. Stein said. The black, contorted object sat blatant, sly in both his hands. Oh great, what’s he doing! Heat rolled across her body; hotter and hotter her face grew, probably turning bright red. Though she couldn’t see Ra’am’s expression, since he towered above her on the right, she nevertheless could feel his silence. “Two geologists I know, the three of us, determined that it was unlike anything seen before,” Dr. Stein said. “It appeared to have suffered very, very great compression and pressure. Because of its mineral composition, and the pressure exerted upon it, we determined it could only have come from the earth’s core. But since that’s impossible, we all felt our opinion was inconclusive. In other words, it doesn’t make sense.”

Trenae smiled insincerely, and gave Dr. Stein a wide-eyed, sheepish expression. She kept rolling her gaze to the right, toward Ra’am, in the hopes the professor would secretly remember. No, not in front of Ra’am! Unfortunately, Dr. Stein seemed oblivious to her body language.

Frozen, she felt.

Ra’am continued his silence a little longer, but then inhaled a deep breath. “It was obtained from the earth’s core, Dr. Stein. I extracted it.” He spoke matter-of-factly, yet with sadness.

Dr. Stein seemed ready to have a heart attack. “There’s no way, no way!” he said. He clutched a hand on his hip and stared at Ra’am, looking absolutely comical. But Trenae couldn’t laugh. “Ha-Ta, it can travel…that, that deep? How were you not crushed to death?”

Ra’am then began explaining how Ha-Ta could accomplish such an incredible feat. Talking on for several minutes, both males touched and held the heavy rock. Trenae just stood quiet, trying to stay calm and decipher Ra’am’s demeanor, hoping he was calm too. But she really couldn’t tell.

Finally, Ra’am ended the conversation and stated they had to leave. Dr. Stein placed the rock in Ra’am’s hand and the tall, powerful alien began walking toward the door.

Trenae began turning, following Ra’am, but Dr. Stein quietly called her back. Ra’am continued walking out of the room. She turned around.

“I’m sorry, Trenae,” he said quietly, sincerely. Great, now it hits him. “In the excitement of everything, I completely forgot.” He leaned down closer to her. “Will this be all right, with Ra’am?”

No, she said in her mind, probably not. She gazed up at him with worried eyes. “I hope so. He’s, well, in spite of the good he tries, rather unpredictable.”

Dr. Stein glanced up for a second and then looked back at her. “He’s looking at us. You better leave.”

“Take care,” she said. “Don’t worry. I should be all right.”

She turned around. She walked toward Ra’am, looking up. Her powerful friend stared down at her with a touch of fire in his eyes. She instantly felt afraid.

They walked out of the science building and eventually onto the Berkeley campus. Ra’am barely spoke a word. She wanted to apologize to him, but trembled too much internally. When they finally approached their tree-hidden entrance to Ha-Ta, Ra’am began to speak a little, but didn’t mention the rock. He merely held it securely in his large hand.

After forming a hemoom prodoh disk, Ra’am gently took her hand and led her on down to Ha-Ta. She looked up at him a few times, but he mostly ignored her, not speaking, only holding her hand like he normally did. Hopefully, he’ll get over this quickly.

Once below, Ra’am told her to sit down. She walked to her seat and noticed that Ra’am instead headed toward the lab room. L.B. romped playful and energetic again, when she sat down, lifting his paw to her several times. She patted his head and gave him a few hugs.

Ra’am returned with his camouflage removed, sat in his seat, and programmed Ha-Ta to take them back to the three cylinders in Frank Church Wilderness. Again, he didn’t speak much, even ignoring her once more. She worried. Ra’am did look down at L.B. a few times, speaking quietly to his dog, patting his head a few times. But soon, L.B. fell asleep, curled up on the floor between the chairs.

Again, she wanted to apologize for what she had done, but couldn’t muster up the courage.

They arrived by the cylinders. Ra’am carefully backed Ha-Ta against the three galeel khayeem. He silently stood up. Right away, she assumed he had begun walking toward the eyzkher mazon or his room, with her eyes facing left.

A sudden swirling motion dizzied her head, forcing her head back into the seat. Swoosh! Wind rushed by her skin. Then she knew. Her chair had been twisted around to the right, tugging her along with it. Although uninjured, she startled. Frightening memories of pass abusive situations stabbed through her mind.

Ra’am was right before her, holding her seat with his hands, one hand clutching each armrest. Her eyes widened. Even though he hovered some inches away, his face felt terribly close, almost touching her face. He pierced brutally with his dark, frightening eyes, something he hadn’t done in awhile.

“Why?” he asked, anger steaming his voice.

 She slipped her arms by her sides, pushing, crouching down into her seat. Her heart raced in her chest, stifling her breaths, causing her breathing to quicken. Trembling overtook her body. Stunned, disoriented, her mind tried to rationalize it all.

“Why did you not trust me, after all I have done for you?” His deep voice thundered, his hot breath rushed toward her face.

Tears watered from her eyes. She pressed herself into the seat more, causing her body to slide down against the chair’s back, lowering her head more, though she kept her teary eyes locked on him. “I’m sorry Ra’am, I…I wanted to be sure,” she said, crying. “Please, you’re scaring me.”

“You could have asked me to verify it,” he said sternly.

Ra’am’s eyes began lowering, staring down toward her breasts. No, please. She quickly looked at her breasts too. Her red and pink striped long sleeve shirt tightened around her breasts, revealing them ruthlessly. Although the shirt’s neckline was normal, preventing any noticeable cleavage, the shirt did nothing to hide her breast’s size and fullness. With every deep and quick breath she took, her chest heaved up and down. And now, after she had positioned her arms nearly under her body in an attempt to back from Ra’am, she had exposed herself in a most vulnerable way. Paralyzed by fear, she couldn’t sit up.

His eyes lingered on her breasts for an eternity. That strange, familiar jabbing, aching pain shot through Trenae’s lower abdomen mercilessly. Ra’am just stared and stared; he wouldn’t stop.

After torturous moments of time, his stare raised to her eyes. A whip hit her soul; Ra’am’s eyes didn’t only burn with anger, they burned with passion. 

The powerful emotions slicing through Ra’am’s eyes devastated her. Tears still flowing, she shut her eyes. But, no! Where are my legs, where are his legs? Think, talk. “I’m sorry, okay? I won’t do it again,” she whispered. “I’ll ask you, from now on. Please, Ra’am…I won’t.”

Her eyes yet shut, she felt Ra’am yank his hands from the chair. Footsteps clunked away, with power and determination, to her right.

She opened her eyes. Slowly, quietly she lifted herself up higher in the chair. Ra’am was just turning the corner. Good, he’s leaving. Tense relief flowed through her. He appeared to head toward the eyzkher mazon or his room. Her panicked state began disappearing, little by little; her tearing eyes ceased, her heart quieted, the trembling nearly vanished. She looked down, off the chair. Fortunately, L.B. still lay sleeping, between the chairs. Probably hadn’t seen a thing, she reasoned. Lucky dog. 

Moving the chair back around to its original position, so it faced the control panel, she stood up. She walked toward her room and entered it. But once inside, Trenae realized she had to use the bathroom. She tiptoed stealthily, poking her head out of the room’s doorway, and checked both sides of the curved hallway. She didn’t see Ra’am; she hurried to the bathroom. It was empty. Ra’am was probably in his room. After using the toilet and wiping the tears from her face, she rushed back to her room and closed the door.

The warm cocoon under her covers provided little comfort. Trenae realized, with apprehension in her soul, that she and Ra’am were headed for a stalemate before he left. Of what type stalemate, she was not sure. But after his aggressive action tonight, no doubt existed in her mind that their parting would be painful, stressful, and highly complicated…    



… “After that, I cried myself to sleep. It was a bad ending to a wonderful night.”

“I’ll say,” Jenny said. “What was his problem, you think?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” she said softly. “I was confused. Ever since he rejected me after that insane core trip, and also because he said he wouldn’t be interested in me, since I was human--”

“Yeah, right. What about the cab in New York? And what about when he touched you and looked at you after the rainbow on Ha-Ta?”

Trenae suddenly felt embarrassed. “I know,” she said, staring down, “it didn’t make sense. And it really hit me that night, that he was leaving in a week or so. I was going to be alone again, or with someone, hopefully, who could protect me and help me. I decided I would have to talk to him about that in the morning, no matter how miserable he was to me.” She lifted her gaze. “It was my life, you know?”

“Yes, I totally understand.”

“But anyway, it’s late now,” Trenae said, checking her watch. “I should leave.”

“Sure, leave me hanging.” Jenny gave a half grin. “Can you come tomorrow night, same time?”

“Yeah, I can.”

“Good. I’m dieing to hear the conclusion. And what’s happening with you now.”

“I could tell you now, if--”

“No, no. Tell me tomorrow. Do you think we’ll wrap it up tomorrow?”

Trenae stood up and walked toward the door. She turned back toward Jenny. “Yes, I think so, believe it or not.”

Jenny laughed a little.

Not long after, Trenae headed down the walkway.


















                                                                      Chapter 16



Although originally planning a drive to Idaho City, to meet at least Trenae’s mother, Jenny’s plan didn’t work out. After searching and calling phone information both on the Internet and on the phone, Mrs. Lafayette’s phone number couldn’t be obtained. Even an e-mail address, if by some chance her mom and Darin had a ‘mouse in the house’ proved unobtainable. She considered driving to Idaho City, but with the pile of work she needed to accomplish and the uncertainty that either person would be available, Jenny cancelled that idea.

Only one possibility remained. If either Darin or Trenae’s mom worked locally, around Boise, she could visit them at their place of work. And after remembering the name of Darin’s workplace, she hit pay dirt. A quick call to Wyatt’s Welding and Machine confirmed that Trenae’s brother still worked there, present even today. Jenny wrote down the address and hustled out of The Examiner building. 

Her drive wouldn’t a long one, ironically, since Darin’s work place existed only a few blocks away. During the drive, she quickly went over, in her mind, her earlier accomplishments of the day. A call to the Governor’s office proved fruitless again. Once more, no one had the time for a news reporter, at least not through any voice messages left for callers. She did leave a voice message, however. Hopefully, someone would get back to her, possibly later today, possibly tomorrow.

Idling at a red light, she wondered if Darin would be taking a break soon. She quickly checked her watch. 10:20 am.

She thought about another phone call she made, one with good results. Clark Willson’s uncle, Ed Willson, the mayor of Melba, Idaho, granted her a phone interview or person-to-person visit. Though she only spoke to his wife, the call seemed promising, as Ed gave his wife instructions while on the phone. Apparently, both Ed and his wife had regrets about the Governor selling the family ranch. Nonetheless, Ed’s wife did inform Jenny that the ranch had been left to Clark, through his deceased father’s will, and there wasn’t a whole lot anyone could do about it now.

She shifted her thoughts and tried to concentrate on meeting with Darin.

However, taking the last few turns before 28th street, the street for Wyatt’s, she thought briefly about Trenae’s account last night. Even though Trenae gave convincing contradictory evidence of evolution, Jenny had fixed beliefs. For many years, she had thought about God and religion. But now, her mind was resolved, finalized. Practicing atheism was the only course she could travel. Others had tried to change her mind, but they were unsuccessful. This was who she was and this was how she believed. Besides, she concluded, prayer always bothered me. Every time she attempted to pray, it always felt merely like talking to herself. It never made sense!

Her thoughts suddenly shifted again. “Tuesday, the 27th of February already,” she said. “Where has this month gone?”

She continued the drive. The neighborhood became a combination of older homes and newer factory or business buildings. Yet many trees grew near the homes and most of the homes had fairly large yards.

Finally, she could see Wyatt’s come up ahead, on her right. Upon a spacious, winter-brown lawn, a large sign stating the building’s name was stuck in the ground with two metal poles. Jenny pulled into the driveway, leading to a parking area on the right side of the building. Quickly, she observed a large, white concrete building, about the size of a small factory, with a smaller brick and wood entrance located in the front, facing 28th street. She parked near the narrow walkway leading to the entrance.

The weather behaved unusually warm again today, around 60 degrees. Climbing out of her car, she welcomed the bright sun and warm air upon her face. She looked down at herself. Her short black skirt, red thin sweater shirt, and brown leather jacket looked wrinkle-free and presentable. With her purse looping her shoulders, she began walking straight ahead, toward the entrance. The thick, though flat heels of her platform shoes made her take each step with care, clicking, crunching her approach on the cement walkway. A nuisance, those heels.

Jenny neared the entrance. She reached and swung open the large glass door. Walking in, she noticed another door to her right. She entered that one as well and arrived in the lobby of Wyatt’s.

A long silver counter with blue trim lay ahead of her, about 20 feet away across blue carpet. Behind the counter stood a young woman and a tall, husky man.

“May I help you?” asked the woman.

Jenny walked to the desk and rested her arms on its surface. “Yes, you can. I’m here to see Darin Lafayette.” She made sure to speak directly, without compromise.

“I’ll go get him,” said the husky man. He looked at the woman. “She called me earlier…I think he’s about to take a break anyway.”  He walked to Jenny’s left, toward a white door.

“Can I ask you what this is for?” asked the woman. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here.”

“No, you probably haven’t. I need to talk with him about a former girlfriend.” Although it wasn’t a total lie, she had to say it. She didn’t want anyone else knowing her true intentions, for Trenae’s sake. And besides, she told the same thing to the husky man, over the phone.

“Oh, okay. You can have a seat, in one of those chairs,” the woman said. She pointed to Jenny’s right.

Jenny turned and saw a few blue chairs. “Oh…Okay, thanks.” She stepped over to one and sat down.

After probably no more than three minutes, the white door opened. A tall, approximately 6-foot tall, blond haired man emerged. He wore a neck to mid-thigh length navy apron. As he walked past the end of the desk, Jenny felt uncomfortable. It was his gait; he moved slowly, steadily, yet with extreme determination and pride. He also appeared very muscular. She stood up right away. And then she saw his eyes; his eyes were angry.

Not saying a word, he simply used his hand to motion her toward the door. She followed him, noticing the clothes under his apron. He wore jeans, a white tee shirt, and brown boots. A pair of safety glasses shrouded some of the blond and brown hair on his head. Observing his demeanor more, while they walked, she sensed a man better fitted for a prison cell than a machine shop.

They continued first through the lobby door, and then through the outside door.

Darin stepped off the cement walkway and onto the crisp, brown grass. He pulled a box of cigarettes and a lighter out of his jean pocket.

“What do you want?” he asked. He stuck a cigarette in his mouth and began to light it.

Jenny decided to go easy on the smart aleck remarks, with Darin’s eyes and face crackling an evil, indomitable attitude. It was tempting, though. “So,” she said, “that’s how you greet someone you never met?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he took an abrupt, tight puff of his cigarette and brought the smoking thing down at his lower right side. He glared at her. “I’m on my break. I have 10 minutes. What do you want?”

She smiled, staring at him. “Your sister was right about you.”

“My sister?” he asked, forming a perplexed, disgusted expression. “Tell her to come see me, if she needs something.”

“When was the last time you saw her?”

Taking another abrupt cigarette puff, he gave Jenny an evil smile. “Why, is she finally dead?” He snickered a little.

How dare he! She shot a mean look back at him. “Excuse me?” she asked forcefully. “How could you say that? She’s your sister!”

“Well she’s dead to me. She made her bed, when she went to work at the strip club. Why don’t you ask the Governor where she is? Last I heard, they were getting it on.”

Anger simmered within her, yet she determined to stay calm. “So it was never your mother’s idea for her to join? And your former girlfriend, who also worked at Fontel’s, didn’t help her out?”

Darin began edging closer to Jenny, his face now even more sinister than earlier. Without thinking, she slowly backed away.

“Do not bring my mother into this,” he said, his tone vicious. “While my mother struggled to support us, after my dad died, all my sister ever did was whine and complain, about her trivial problems. Always thinking of herself!” He pointed the cigarette toward Jenny’s face, like a weapon, and continued stepping toward her. “She’s nothing but a waste!”

“Oh, and your some sort of gift?”

“Yeah, that’s right. At least I finished High School and took up a vocational trade. She couldn’t even graduate!”

Jenny smiled. “Some vocational trade YOU took up.” She kept backing away from him. “Tell me, was it worth it, selling that stuff to kids?”

Darin stopped in his tracks and took another quick puff.  “Bitch, you’ve pissed me off once and last. I think you better leave, before I take this cigarette and give you some permanent scars!”

“Oh really?” Jenny felt her face flush with rage. “I’m sure your manager would love to hear how you talk to the customers!” She turned and started toward the glass door.

“Okay, fine,” he said calmly.

Something felt wrong. She stopped in her steps, turned back, and looked at him.

“But before you go, you should know two things.” He stepped toward her, slowly, pointing his cigarette at her face again. “One, you ain’t no customer. And two, you have no idea who you’re messing with in there. Just remember, you were warned.”

Using better judgment, Jenny discontinued her attempt for the door. Instead, she molded her anger into an invisible dagger and targeted it at Darin. She walked toward him, fearless. “You know, your sister was devastated by your father’s death. I would think you would understand that.”

“Yeah, so get over it already,” he said sarcastically.

“What, you think all people handle grief the same way?” She yanked down her purse from her shoulder and held it in one hand. This interview was getting no where, fast. “You need help, man,” she said, pointing her finger at him. “And I’m not talking therapy- I’m talking medication, from a psychiatrist. Both you AND your mother!” She began walking backwards, heading toward her car.

“What did she tell you about my mother?” Darin’s voice thundered.

Jenny jolted. She increased her backward pace.

“What has she been saying to you, about us?” He spoke in a low, maniacal tone. “Where is she, you tell me where she is!”

Adrenaline surges cut through Jenny’s body. Darin looked insane, continuing to approach her. His eyes showed no conscience at all.

“Stay away from me,” she said, “or I’ll call the police!”

Darin flung his cigarette on the ground with tremendous force. He seemed ready to lunge and grab her.

She turned and ran toward her car with all her might.


His voice shattered her ears. Loud. Raging. Holding her purse, her car keys jangling within it, she continued sprinting, making her only goal to get in the car. Even with her platform heels, she forced herself to keep going. She made a quick search; was anyone else nearby? Yet it was only the two of them, save for a  few parked cars. No windows were on the main part of Wyatt’s building, near where she ran. No one could help her. Darin’s footsteps echoed her own clanking, running steps, growing closer.

After what seemed like hours, Jenny grabbed the door handle, clicking the knob. She swung the door open and started diving inside. Yet Darin grabbed her leather jacket, by her shoulder. Her heart nearly stopped. She tugged the car door, slamming it close, forcing his grasp free from her shoulder. Quickly, she hit the door’s button, locking the doors.

She dug with shaking fingers for the car keys in her purse.

Darin knocked on the driver-side window with both fists, alternating his hits. In slow motion, Jenny lifted her head up and looked at his face.

He smiled and laughed hysterically. “What a dumb bimbo you are!” he said. “You really thought I’d rape you or something? Trust me, honey, you’re not good enough for me!” Though his voice muffled, coming through the car window, his words boomed inside the small car’s interior. 

He straightened and walked over to her left front tire, slamming it a hard kick. The whole car shook. Jenny stared at him. His smile vanished and he thrust a pointed finger at her window. She jumped back against her seat. “But don’t worry,” he said loudly, “there’s always someone else available.” An evil smile darkened his face. He started backing away, laughing.

My keys, my keys, where are they? She finally found them at her purse’s bottom. With shaking fingers, she fumbled, poked them into the ignition. Avoiding Darin’s face, she started the car, slammed it into reverse, and screeched tire rubber backing away. She could hear Darin persist in his ranting and devious laughter, yelling at times. He’s evil and insane, she thought. Why didn’t anyone from Wyatt’s come out and see what the disturbance was about? Why hadn’t those two people warned her about him?

Not giving Darin another glance, she drove to the end of Wyatt’s driveway. She waited for a passage in traffic and spun out onto 28th street.

Driving on the street, she realized her breathing came hard and erratic. She even trembled. No, I’m behaving more like Trenae than myself. She began to cry; she covered her mouth. This wasn’t the tough reporter image I’m suppose to maintain!

A convenience store appeared up ahead, on the right. Clicking on her turn signal, she pulled into the parking area and drove her car to a halt in one of the parking spaces before the building. Her trembling hands shook the steering wheel. Using shaking fingers, she wiped the tears from her eyes and face.

“Come on, Jenny,” she said. “This is not the way we act. Reporters, especially ones planning on going into TV, never…never get emotional.”

But her words didn’t work very well. Not being able to stop crying, she glanced around, to see if anyone watched her. No one cared.

Eventually, she harnessed some composure. She forced herself to breathe slowly, think rational thoughts.

She thought about going to the police. Yet the way Darin spoke, the words he used…maybe that wasn’t a good idea. What the heck did he mean by ‘there’s always someone else available’? A sweaty chill made her whole body shake. Was he involved with the same crime organization as Willson? Had she endangered Trenae’s life even more now?

Go back to The Examiner, that’s what to do. She could ask Warren, Claire, or Phil for advice on this predicament.

Her body slowly recovering from the horrid experience, she drove carefully along the streets, trying to avoid speeding, though she wanted to arrive there in an instant.

She parked her car and hurried into the lower level, rushing into an open elevator. On the way up, she decided Phil would be her best advocate now. She needed someone closer to her age.

Soon, Jenny dropped herself into her chair, next to Phil. She looked at him. He noticed her fear, in an instant.

A conversation ensued between them. Jenny talked at length about Darin and his demonic behavior. She also gave him as many up-to-date details about Trenae’s interview as she could. Phil seemed full of curiosity and concern. He suggested that she call the police. But then neither one, after giving the idea further consideration, felt it was a wise decision.

“I don’t know, Jen, this is your call,” Phil said, after Jenny became quiet. “If you have any idea at all that Darin could be involved in something with the Governor, and the police are involved too…I don’t know, man. Maybe you should wait, think of some other options. This is getting pretty damn weird.” He leaned on his knees, in his chair, moving his chair closer to her.

“I can’t remember feeling frightened like this, ever before,” she said. “If Trenae went through that all the time, I feel sorry for her. Here I was, believing she was making all this up, in an attempt to adjust with her father’s death. At least, the part about Governor Willson. As far as the alien story, I still don’t believe it, I think, or not completely- I’m not sure. I don’t know.” She shook her head, then focused on Phil. “But whatever she’s doing now, and however she got to that place, I hope things are better. Because after what she went through, she deserves something…much better.”

“And I agree,” Phil said. “But you know what?”


“I did a little research. Victims of rape or assault can go through PTSD.”

“What’s that? Sounds familiar.”

“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. There’re a bunch of symptoms, but one that caught my eye was hallucinations of the pass event. Now, I know she hasn’t been describing what Stiles did, or the others, in detail a lot, but maybe this alien thing is her way of coping.”

Jenny sighed. “Oh God, I don’t know. There’s a lot of information she knows.”

“Well let me ask you this- have you called Dr. Stein at Berkeley, or Pastor Crenshaw, confirmed their sides?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Do it now. I want to hear what they have to say.”

Leaning forward, closer to her desk, Jenny began what Phil suggested. She searched over the Internet for some time, as both she and Phil stayed quiet. Finally, she found both phone numbers. She dialed the first one, Dr. Stein’s number. Phil was right, she thought, waiting on the phone. More confirmation was needed. After a few rings, she got his voice mail. With no other choice at the moment, she left a brief message, detailing her name, phone number, and occupation as a reporter searching for some advice, without divulging information about Trenae. She hung up the phone.

“Hold on, Phil,” she said. “What about Dod Whiteclay? He knew Trenae.”

“That’s true, but it doesn’t mean he knew of an alien. Did he mention Ra’am?”

“No, but, I never talked that long.”

“Okay. Call Pastor Crenshaw, now. Maybe he’s available.”

Again, she did as Phil requested. But unfortunately, Jeff Crenshaw too was unavailable. Like with Dr. Stein, a voice message provided information instead of a real, live human. She left another detailed message, along with her name and phone number.

“It must be that time of day,” she said.

“Yeah, that’s true…What about that cliff place?”

“River Cliffs, her father’s place?”

“Yeah. Why don’t you ask Trenae to tell you how to get there, or bring you there?”

“I’m not going there, not after today,” she said, shaking her head. “Possibly after some authorities are involved and we go together, then I’ll go.”

“Hey, I understand,” Phil said. “But what about the rock, from inside the earth? Have her show you that!”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea!” She smiled. “I should have thought of that before. Or, maybe if Dr. Stein calls me back, I can ask him about it.”

“Just be careful.” He touched her left shoulder. “Okay?”

She smiled at him. But then, detecting a whiff of laser-printer toner from his hand, she remembered something. She sniffed his hand some more.

He removed his hand from her shoulder. “What, do I smell?”

She laughed at him. “No, of course not. Listen, I want to ask you. Aren’t there some big-shot guys coming tonight, to discuss some new printing technology, you know, downstairs?”

“Oh, yeah, I know what you’re talking about. Shark-Hadden Inc., their company reps are trying to sell us on printing machinery. Yeah, they’ll be here tonight. I don’t know what time exactly, you’d have to ask printing. From what I hear, there’ll be a lot of people here. Why?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just an idea. But you say the place will be packed?”

“Well, sort of. There’s going to be some other newspaper printing managers visiting too, like from Twin Falls, Caldwell, maybe Pocatello. So yeah, there will be a lot of people here…You’re not gonna do anything crazy, are you?”

“No, no. Just wondering.”

Phil looked at her suspiciously. She turned toward her computer’s monitor.

“Well, okay…” he said. “I see you’re not gonna tell me. Just please, promise me you’ll be careful.”

She looked at him. “No, no. It’s nothing like that,” she said, smiling. “I’ll be fine.”

After she finished speaking, Phil again asked her to be careful.

They both soon returned to their usual tasks.

But when her day finished, and Jenny began readying to leave, she realized the only thing accomplished in regards to Trenae’s story was an interview tomorrow morning, Wednesday, at 10:00 am, with Ed Willson. Yet, it was a start. The Governor’s office, Dr. Stein, and Pastor Crenshaw had not returned her calls. There was always tomorrow.

While she drove home, she had to wonder; how safe was she now? Had it been really worth it, visiting Darin Lafayette?

















                                                                     Chapter 17



Trenae looked at her watch. She pressed its light. 6:45, 15 minutes early. Oh well. Regardless, she walked up the stairs.

The door swept open, with a rush. Jenny held its doorknob, urgency in her eyes. After Trenae walked across the small porch and entered the house, Jenny told her not to remove her jacket.

“Why?” Trenae asked. “What’s going on?”

Jenny closed the door, bolted the locks, and walked in front of her. She stood there, just staring at Trenae, not speaking.

“What is it?” Trenae asked softly.

“May I give you a hug?”

Huh? She felt puzzled. However, with the concern and sincerity on Jenny’s face, she quickly felt comfortable with the idea. “Sure,” Trenae answered, giving a small shrug. “You can.”

Jenny approached her; large brushstrokes of green, pink, and white flowers came forward, from the colorful shirt beneath Jenny’s jacket. She wrapped her arms around Trenae. Feeling a little shocked, Trenae kept her eyes wide open, yet gently embraced Jenny’s back, giving a hug in return. She could feel the light, synthetic fabric of Jenny’s jacket on her fingertips. Why was she wearing a jacket? What was all this about?

Soon, Jenny backed away. Though she stared toward the floor, Jenny appeared on the verge of crying. “I know, I know,” she said. “You must be thinking, this is really out there.”

“No, it’s okay. You can hug me. But why did you?”

Jenny exhaled a sigh and looked at Trenae. “I wanted you to know, that we atheists, we’re not all bad.” A forced, yet broad and cheerful smile brightened Jenny’s face. “But hey, we should get going. I have an idea.”

Fear twisted through Trenae. “Why? We’re going somewhere? I shouldn’t go anywhere, really.”

“No, it’ll be okay,” Jenny said. She touched Trenae’s shoulder briefly. “I want us to go to the roof, of The Examiner building. That way, you can show me where the Andromeda galaxy is, after it gets dark enough.”

“But I can just show you that in your back yard.”

“I know, but a lot of people will be there tonight, since this printing meeting’s going on. We’ll be safe, trust me,” Jenny said. She lifted her purse off the blue and white sofa. “Besides, no one has bothered you here, and this is your fourth time visiting.”

“Yes, that’s true.” Trenae looked down, clasping her purse tightly. “But you can never tell, with Stiles and those guys. I would be really scared, if we go.” She looked at Jenny again.

Jenny appeared to swallow, while holding her belongings. “You would, really?”

“Yes, you know me. Couldn’t we just stay here?”

After inhaling a deep breath, Jenny turned to the right and exhaled through clenched teeth. “I saw your brother today.” She looked back at Trenae.

“What? No, Jenny, you didn’t! Did he hurt you?”

“Almost. And here I thought I was so tough. He scared the shit out of me.”

Trenae walked forward and touched Jenny’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, I should have warned you. But I never thought you’d believe me, how bad he really is, or want to check him out.”

Again, Jenny appeared to fight off tears. “No, it’s not your fault. But you see, I’m a little shook up now. I want to definitely hear the rest of your story, but just not here. Not tonight. Do you think…do you think, we could go? I know we would be safer there. Josh Sharwood, the security guy will be there tonight. Please?”

Trenae removed her hand from Jenny’s shoulder. Suddenly, troubled thoughts entered her mind. “Is your phone still working?”

Alarm widened Jenny’s eyes. She bolted, rushed into the kitchen, and checked her phone. Then, she quietly walked back. “Yes, it’s on.”

“Did anyone follow you here tonight, in a car or anything, or has anyone been spying around, in the front or back of your house?”

Now, Jenny looked frightened. “No, not that I noticed.”

“When did you drive your car last?”


“Just tell me.”

“I just got here, about 10 minutes ago.”

“Let’s go then, right now, before they can do anything.”

“What? Oh, you mean my car?”

“Yes. Did it drive okay, like the brakes and all?”

Jenny began leading Trenae around the furniture and to the left of the TV stand, through the laundry room and toward the back door. “Yeah, I had no trouble.”

“I’m surprised,” Trenae said. “Maybe they’re hoping you’ll lead me to them…Oh shoot!” She covered her mouth.

Jenny spun around. “What’s wrong?”

Her eyes wide open, staring at Jenny, Trenae took a finger and put it over her open lips, signaling quiet. Trenae then pointed forward, with her free hand, so they could both keep moving.

They both arrived outside. Jenny made sure to lock the back door. The sky was just getting dark, twilight, but fortunately, an outdoor light shone by the door. Jenny had turned it on.

“I wondered if they bugged your place, that’s why--”

“You wanted me to be quiet?” Jenny asked.

But Trenae didn’t answer. Instead, she just motioned Jenny toward the garage, just to the left of them. I shouldn’t have said anything, Trenae scolded herself silently. Not yet, anyway.

Trenae asked Jenny if everything appeared the same around the garage, as they both took a quick tour around the small blue building. Her answer was yes, that all seemed familiar and undisturbed. Once done, she had Jenny open the garage door that faced toward the alleyway just beyond the backyard. Again, it appeared untouched.

They stepped quietly toward Jenny’s red Accent, within the garage. Jenny opened the driver-side door. Then, she stopped and stood still, like a statue. “Shit, Trenae, I can’t do this. You have me too worried.”

Trenae noticed that everything seemed okay with the vehicle. The dome light came on as typical, while the door-ajar noise sounded normal as well. “Should we call a cab or something?” Trenae asked, standing by Jenny’s left. “You think it might explode, if you start it up?”

“Yeah, but wait…that doesn’t make any sense,” Jenny said. “Why would they want to kill me, since they don’t know what we talked about? Maybe I’m just getting paranoid here.”

A dark, eeriness permeated Jenny’s older garage. Although a single insignificant bulb glowed, stuck in a dangling socket from the ceiling, it produced little brightness.

“I’m sorry, maybe it’s just me,” Trenae said. “And because of my brother. Maybe you’re right, we’re acting paranoid.”


The noise came from the alleyway. It sounded like someone stepping on a twig. Trenae turned right, toward the short driveway from the garage, leading to a narrow gravel alley road. Due to the darkened alley road, and the garage’s dim light, she couldn’t see much. She looked back at Jenny; Jenny’s eyes still faced the sound. “Jenny, let’s get out of here,” she whispered. “I’m sure your car must be all right. You said it was 10 minutes ago?”

“Yeah.” Jenny turned to her. “Maybe it was less than that.”

Both girls locked eyes, as Trenae listened. Jenny listened too. A noise crunched again, like steps on dry leaves. Horror covered both their faces.

Not hesitating, Trenae ran around to the passenger door, opened it, and jumped in, trying hard to close the door softly. She looked to her left. Jenny was already sitting in front of the wheel. Quietly, Jenny closed her door too.

Breathing deeply, Jenny carefully poked the keys into the ignition. “Okay, I’m gonna start it.” She looked at Trenae. “We should be all right, you think?”

Trenae couldn’t speak, her heart racing and body trembling. She merely nodded in agreement.

After a few seconds of hesitation, Jenny pushed her hand forward, on the key, starting the car. Everything seemed fine. Slowly, she put the gears in reverse. Again, all appeared normal.

“Well, I’m out of here,” Jenny said, turning around and beginning to back out of the garage.

Trenae squeezed her eyes shut as the vehicle moved backwards. I can’t believe I’m taking this big a risk. Maybe I have truly become bolder. Even so, she felt like screaming, but tried to remain calm and listen closely; a rigged accelerator could still be possible.

But, nothing happened. With her eyes yet closed, she felt Jenny back the car to the driveway’s end and into the alleyway.

            “Oh, so that’s what it was!” Jenny said loudly.

Trenae sprung her eyelids open. “What, what?” she asked hysterically.

“Look, over there.” Jenny pointed ahead, in the beams of her car’s light. There, walking casually in front of them was a German Shepard, sniffing the ground. “It’s my neighbor’s dog. I should have known. But he usually runs around, since he’s jumpy. Must have been a slow night for him.”

Trenae giggled nervously.

They drove straight ahead, down the alleyway. Trenae looked to her right, at Jenny’s back yard. Since the back door light remained on, she could examine it carefully. No human beings appeared anywhere in sight. Nothing seemed to be occurring. Darin simply must have done a really good job scaring Jenny earlier today. He was good at that.

After coming to the alleyway’s end, they drove onto the main roads. Trenae asked Jenny, every now and then, if she noticed anything different or wrong with her car. But time after time, Jenny said everything seemed fine.

When Trenae wasn’t asking if the car seemed all right, they talked more about Darin and how he acted, what he said. Listening closely to Jenny’s scare at Wyatt’s, Trenae reassured that Darin’s maniacal, rude behavior sounded typical. It was then, that Jenny admitted the hug she had given Trenae earlier was really because she felt sympathy, sympathy for Trenae growing up around a brother so mean. Trenae sighed and thanked her. And quietly felt some comfort and happiness within.

As their conversations disguised the time, it didn’t seem like too much longer before The Examiner building came into view. And just a little longer after that, Jenny began parking her Accent. She parked the car in the back parking area, away from the building’s front and front parking garage.

They both exited the vehicle. Jenny began searching around the expansive parking area for a short time. When finished, she quickly dove into the back seat of her car, from the still open driver’s door, and pulled out a light blue blanket. She then told Trenae to hurry. They jogged away from the car, with Jenny carrying the blanket, and soon arrived inside the lower level of the building.

Jenny hurried them up to a large man behind the desk and introduced the man as Josh Sharwood. She then explained to Josh they needed to visit the top floor, to conduct an interview on the roof. Josh confirmed to Jenny that some printing company representatives had arrived, but would accomplish their demonstrations in the printing room, on the lower levels. After some further discussion, Jenny explained how some men could be after she and Trenae, asking Josh to please make certain no one went to the roof. Josh said he would watch carefully. And after making a few quick phone calls, he then gave them the go ahead to visit the roof.

Jenny led Trenae to the nearest elevator. On the way up, Jenny explained that the floor above her office, the seventh floor, was now used for storage. They would have to exit the elevator at the seventh floor and then take the stairs to the roof.

When they stepped off the elevator, the seventh floor harbored emptiness, just as Jenny described, save for some paint cans, ladders, and a few folded yellow tarps. Some office equipment, like desks, computer monitors, and old copy machines also occupied the floor, pushed up against the wall.

Jenny whisked away to the right, over to the stairs, just next to the elevator. They walked together into the stair well. Trenae looked down over the rail, between the other stairs, to the floor they began on far below.

“Hey, don’t do that girl,” Jenny said, tugging Trenae’s purse. “You’ll just get dizzy, have a fear of heights hit you.”

Trenae turned away and followed Jenny up the several rows of stairs to the top. Soon, they stood on the landing facing the roof’s door. Jenny flipped up a switch nearby. Then slowly, she turned the doorknob.

“Oh, man. It’s a good thing it’s warm tonight. I think it’s in the 50’s or 60’s,” Jenny said. She stepped onto the cement floor of the roof.

“It really has been a warm winter, right?” Trenae asked.

“No doubt there.” Jenny turned to see her.

Jenny then gave a short tour of the roof, a structure composed of attractive pinkish-brown bricks. Guessing the roof followed the 6th floor length and width, Jenny suggested either a 100 by 100 feet or 200 by 200 feet square dimension. At each corner, small, flat, rectangular lights, like at Trenae’s High School football field, brightened the roof’s floor, obviously turned on by Jenny’s flick of the switch. Fortunately, their light wasn’t too bright. Short exhaust vents ran parallel with the east side of the roof, on the floor, yet took up little space. Turning back, to the west, Trenae noticed the stair house cubicle they just exited, composed too of brick, took up some space on the roof. Mostly, though, the roof appeared expansive, with a 4-foot high protective edge barrier. Trenae laughed a little, as Jenny stated the barrier prevented any of her co-workers, in a drunken condition, from coming up top and tumbling off. In each of the roof’s four sides, seats were built into the barrier, though the seat’s back wasn’t as high as the barrier, allowing one to get a good, yet safe view while sitting.

Trenae looked around. To the north, left of the stair house doorway, mountains rose gracefully beyond low buildings, though their manifestations grew dimmer, due to a twilight sky. West and northwest, the rest of downtown Boise existed, with many taller buildings and other structures. The view east, across the roof, impressed her the most, as no buildings obstructed the line of sight, revealing just mere homes, small businesses and churches. Yet beyond those mere structures, into the ever-darkening eastern horizon, the view expanded all the way to low mountains, primarily to the northeast, displaying dots of light, like stars, probably illuminated homes or cars on roadways. The views were stunning.

Jenny led them toward the built-in seat on the roof’s west side, north of the stair house. After creasing the blanket into a thick folded rectangle and then laying it down, she asked Trenae to have a seat. Trenae did, relishing the warm, soft comfort of the blanket. In the mean time, Jenny sat down too and readied her belongings for the interview.

Trenae turned around, looking toward the diminishing sunset on the western horizon. She noticed the sky yet remained a little too light for a good gander at Andromeda. They would have to wait for later.

“Hey, can you hear it?” Jenny asked.

“Hear…hear what?” Trenae turned back, facing eastward. “What do you mean?”

“The sounds of Boise. The breeze here, the traffic below, cars honking now and then, the trains, the trucks. Can you?”

Trenae drew in a deep breath. Although only guessing, she believed this was Jenny’s attempt to change the subject; a person could find peace from their troubles, in distraction. She listened. Sounds of the city entered her ears. “It’s sort of peaceful,” she said. “Comforting. But I do hear it.”

“I like to come up here alone,” Jenny said. “Sometimes with Phil, the guy I work by. And, I just sit and listen. And look, especially at the mountains. I find it peaceful too…Anyway, lets start.” She looked at Trenae. “Are you okay to go?”

“Sure, I think s-s-so,” Trenae said, shivering. She held out her trembling hands. “You see, still shaking. But, I’ll have to live with it.”

Jenny held out her hands. Her hands trembled too, like Trenae’s. “We’re just a couple of shivering penguins tonight,” Jenny said.

They both laughed a little.

Trenae became serious. “Yeah, ever since I met Willson, I’ve been like this.” She looked at Jenny. “And now, with you meeting my brother, now you, also.”

“Probably. I’ll get over it, I hope.”

“But you think we’ll be okay,” Trenae asked, “that no one will bother us up here?”

“I believe so. Josh…I’m sure he’ll watch out for us. Well…we have light here, I have my pad and recorder, but nothing to eat or drink. We can always go to the vending machines, if you need something.”

“I’m okay, for now.”

“All right, then.” Jenny put the recorder on the seat, between them and turned it on. “So, we left off with Ra’am getting upset with you, about that rock.”

“Yes. And like I said, I went to bed. I kept the covers over me, so he wouldn’t see me cry, just in case he did spy on me. I fell asleep eventually. But in the morning, like around 6:00 or 7:00, Ra’am came to my door, and opened it.”

“What? Was that unusual?”

“Yes. He maybe did it once or twice before, so yeah, I was alarmed. But as soon as I saw his face, I knew he was calm, kinda sad. I was not afraid and sat up right away.”

“Were you wearing anything?”

“Oh, definitely. I never went anywhere in that place, besides the bathroom, without something on.”

“Did he watch you in the bathroom, with those micro-robots?”

“No, he promised me one time, when I questioned it, that he never would. It was a forbidden practice on Harkoav, to view females in their homes or private rooms, unless males were married to them. Very forbidden. Even intelligent alien females, especially if they resembled ometvreheem. So, I trusted him about the bathroom, but still doubted him- if he spied on me in my room.”

“Hmm, I see.”

“But anyway, after I sat up, Ra’am walked into the room. My light was on. He always looked so huge and frightening in my room. At first, he didn’t say anything and just looked at me. Maybe I asked him what was wrong, it’s hard to remember exactly. But then, he leaned over and took one of my hands in his hand. I was like, what is he doing? And then slowly, he brought my hand up near his mouth…”


“He kissed my hand. And then he held my hand with both his hands and looked at me.”

“What did it feel like, when he kissed your hand? You know, his lips, with the geed’aso?”

“His lips felt warm, soft, but I could still feel some of those tendon things. But mostly, his lips felt like a human’s, more or less. I was just shocked he kissed me! I stared at his face, waiting. And then he spoke. He told me he was very, very sorry for scaring me like he did, about the rock thing. He said I could have the rock back, that he was just keeping it for awhile. Then, he seemed like he couldn’t look at me anymore, turned his eyes away. After a little longer, he gently let go of my hand and left the room.”

“How did you feel, after he did this and left?”

“I was stunned, at first. I had told him it was okay, and I accepted his apology, but was so amazed he reached out to me like that. Not so much that he kissed my hand, but that he considered me worthy enough, on his same level, to do that. I mean, when he rejected me that other time, the core time, I felt more alien to him, than he was to me! So yeah, it was very surprising.”

“But how did it make you feel about him?”

Trenae gazed down, at her purse. “I felt something, I guess. It hit me more, that he was leaving soon. Yeah, it hurt. I was becoming very fond of him.” She looked at Jenny. “And it was even worse, later that day. After Ra’am left, I got up, put my clothes on. While we were in the eyzkher mazon, Ra’am detected Dod in the area.”

“But did you guys talk about why he kissed your hand?”

“No, I felt too intimidated. Besides, Ra’am talked about food or science stuff or something. I sensed he didn’t want to talk about it too.

“But when we finally picked up Dod, Ra’am invited him to eat with us. Dod told us both that he found some people who could take me in. The first was his elderly relatives living in the mountains of Montana somewhere. They were just an older couple, like in their 80’s, and Dod said, since they were so old, they didn’t have much to lose, by having me live with them. They were totally okay with it. And the second option, was Dod’s acquaintance, some young brave guy, single but with a girlfriend. He was into guns, living off the wild. He was totally okay with me living there too. He lived way up in Canada, by the Northwest Territories. Burrr, cold, I thought right away.” She wrapped her arms around her body and smiled at Jenny.

“No kidding. That’s what I would think!”

“But of the two options, I though the Canada guy would be better. I mean, what were the chances of Stiles trudging his ass up to Northwest Territories? He seemed to enjoy luxuries and conveniences too much.”

“True, I suppose,” Jenny said.

“Dod said he was working on the final plans for both places. He asked me which I liked better, and told me to think about it, just to be sure. He then said he would be back, about Wednesday the coming week. But it WAS the coming week, that Ra’am was leaving. So…”

“What was our alien boy’s reaction, to all of this?”

“Well, funny you mention,” Trenae said, looking to the east, thinking. “He didn’t seem too interested. He just sat there, listening quietly. He really didn’t say much. Mostly, Dod just looked at me and talked to me.”

Trenae looked at Jenny. “But later, after we ate, Dod and Ra’am went outside together for awhile. I stayed below, went to my room, played with L.B. I felt depressed. And I don’t remember much of the rest of the day, but I do remember the evening.”

“Why, what happened then?”

“Since I was still depressed, I felt like asking Ra’am some questions. Questions about me, some more about his planet. I felt if I asked anything inappropriate, what did it matter? I had nothing to lose, since he was leaving.”

“Just let it all hang out, right?”

Trenae chuckled a little. “Yeah, I guess.”

Jenny smiled. “So, this should be interesting!”

“Yes, it was.” She smiled too, and gazed toward the roof’s floor. “It was after supper, and we were both sitting across from each other, at the table. L.B. was asleep on the floor…



…Trenae looked up from her empty plate and across the table at Ra’am. He continued to chew, gazing downward. After a moment, he lifted his head and stared into her soul. She took a short, deep breath. She forced herself to look at him. “Can I ask you something?”

“Yes, Trenae. What is it?”

“Why do you think Clark Willson and Stiles didn’t like me? Am I pretty?”

Ra’am appeared taken back a bit by her question, blinking his eyes a little. Behavior he seldom, if ever, did. Yet he continued staring at her. “Possibly, because they do not actually like women.”

“You mean, like their homosexual or something? You do know what that is, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do. And I do not know, whether they are homosexual or whether they merely do not like human females. Their behavior sounds criminal and unusual, to me.” He placed his arms on the table, leaning closer to her. She gradually pressed back against her seat. “But I do know this,” he said. “You are very pretty. Whatever their reasons, it was not due to your physical appearance, I assure you.”

She looked down. “Thank you, Ra’am.” Damn, embarrassed. Time stood still for a moment.

Determination conquered her weakness. She lifted her head. Ra’am yet remained in the same position, looking at her. Like many times before, his dark eyes pierced her, made her vulnerable. But she persisted. “Are there homosexuals, on Harkoav?”

Ra’am moved back and sat up straight. “I see you are curious. We have not talked enough about this, have we?”

“Well, no. Not really. I mean, I don’t understand how there can be more almehneht and ometvaheem, than the ometvreheem. And actually, it doesn’t seem that big of a difference, between the number of males and females, so that the marriages have to be arranged. You say, for every one female, there’s like 2.25 almehneht born and 1.75 males born. That’s not really a big difference, is it?”

He placed his forearms on either side of his nearly empty plate. His koaksekhel glistened on his right forearm. “That is because you have not added zeros to the digits. For example, of every 1 million females, there will be available 1 million males to marry. Now, we have 1 million couples. Yet, that leaves 750,000 males without partners, and 2.25 million almehneht. Do you understand now, the scope of all this?”

She fidgeted a little. “Yeah, you’re right. I never thought of it that way.”

“That is why it is vitally important females do not socialize or mingle with unmarried males. For with our males, like I told you before, interest in mating is induced by only two methods. One, by viewing females on a daily basis. Or, two- by the males’ once a year ability to reproduce, called ta’are ekhsakar.”

“Ta’are ekhsakar?” she asked gently, curiously. “Is that what it’s called?”

Ra’am leaned forward again on the small table, drawing closer to her. His dark blue geed’aso lines highlighted his features. “Are you certain you want to hear this?”

“Well, why? What’s wrong?” Nervousness crept along her spine.

“Because after you hear the full story of our males, you may think they are monsters.”

She gave him a perplexed expression. She felt like swallowing, but held it back. “Really? But…I guess you can tell me, since you’re leaving. What difference would it make?”

Ra’am smiled, showing his blue teeth. Then he sat upright again, yet kept his forearms on the table. “All right. I was hoping to leave a good impression with you, but if you insist, then I will start from the beginning.”

She crossed her arms over her lower abdomen and tilted her head to the side a little, ready to listen.

He took a deep breath. “The first thing I will explain, is why our males are so much larger and stronger than our females, besides the biblical reason. From ancient times, the very beginning of our history, it has always been the male’s job to harvest the ketoomahgas from their tall trees, called etseem reeshon, on Harkoav. This was and is the staple food of Harkoav, providing most of the nutrients Harkoavians need. However, only males could jump and climb the initial tall height to reach the tree’s first branches, and then climb the incredible heights, heights as tall as Sequoia trees in California, to obtain the fruit. The fruit always grew most abundant near the tree’s tops. And often, some males would fall. But because of their geed’aso, they seldom were mortally injured. So as you can determine, the males were best suited to this job. They would provide all the ketoomahgas for the almehneht, females, and children in a community.

“It was the almehneht’s job to be the major intellect of the community, to keep order and religion within the community and mastermind protection. They would separate unmarried males from females and work at structuring the local government. This hierarchy proved extremely successful, as males were given the time to collect the food for the community, and also, due to the males’ great size and strength, protect the community from the large animals of ancient times.”

“Large animals?”

“Yes. Although we still have some today, there were many more back then. They resembled some of earth’s dinosaurs, in size. However, they had many more insect-like attributes and were far more dangerous. One particular breed, which is sill alive today, resembles a pterodactyl. It is called tseepor nora and is very dangerous. And you see, because ometvaheem reproduce more slowly than other species on Harkoav, due to the percentages of our three genders, our species was always at a disadvantage population-wise against other larger species, who reproduced more rapidly. Our numbers were smaller, during our early history. But again, due to our males’ size and strength, and our almehneht intelligence, we overcame this obstacle easily.”

“Gosh, that’s interesting,” she said. “I never thought about that aspect.”

“Yes,” he said. “Because our males, specifically unmarried males, devoted their time to food harvesting and protection of the community, the almehneht were able to advance very rapidly with intellectual pursuits. They, of course, quickly passed their information on to the rest of the community, as is their nature.

“Even when there were wars between two communities, because the unmarried males controlled this aspect also, most of the inner core of the community was left unharmed. Females, who for the most part raised and nurtured the children, gathered with the almehneht, children, and some married males, in safe quarters during war. These safe quarters were engineered by almehneht in each community, and were highly imaginative, advanced, and successful. Additionally, almehneht, by their nature, are generally peace loving. Because of this, a type of stalemate was reached and communities went to war less and less, as time went by, and instead, advances in technology, science, and all knowledge took central stage. This is why, Harkoav believes, that our species and civilization advanced so quickly, compared, for example, to humans or other intelligent species. It is our ability to understand and embrace the obvious differences between each gender of our species, and work with each gender’s abilities and shortcomings that brought us to our present technological state.”

“Except for 800 years ago?”

Ra’am smiled. “I did not say we were perfect. Of course, we have problems with disobedience and crime, like anywhere else. And after we entered our space age, we went to war more with other species, other alien planets. So, war returned to our society, occasionally.

“But yes,” he said, “that social experiment, 800 Harkoav years ago, proved what we always knew- that which has always worked best, should be left alone.”

“Yeah, true,” she said softly. “But getting back to males…and homosexuality.”

“Let me tell you this. Unmarried males make excellent soldiers. They have no family ties, no wife, or children to be concerned with. And no, there is no homosexuality on Harkoav. This is because unmarried males continue to be separated from females. Whereas both internal hormones and external visual cues trigger sexual desire in human males on a regular basis, for a male ometvah, the internal hormonal trigger, called evoog dam keenoz, occurs only once a year.”

“So without sexual desire, there’s no homosexuality?”

“Yes, exactly. Of course, internal hormonal cues can be instigated through constant exposure to a female. But without this exposure, a male’s sexual desire is virtually non-existent. A male on Harkoav, when not around females and not experiencing ta’are ekhsakar, is like a mature, productive, fearless, and assertive child, whose desires are typically innocent, yet whose emotions range from anger to love. However, his thoughts and actions dwell more in an intellectual, computer-like realm, which combined with fearlessness and assertiveness, makes him an excellent soldier. But at the same time, he knows right from wrong, and therefore typically obeys the laws of each state. Those who do not, are dealt with quickly and sent to prison planets.”

“And everyone goes to church, or whatever you call it there? Even the unmarried males?”

“Yes, most do. Unmarried male’s love is directed more toward the community and God, and how they can better serve both. This is the same for the almehneht as well. However, married males direct most of their love toward their wives, as they are exposed to a female continuously. They have affection for their children too.”

“So unmarried males experience love, just not of a sexual nature?”

“Yes, that is true. But again, most of their mind is used for intellectual and strategic pursuits.”

“Gosh, it seems unfair, that some can marry, and other males never do.”

Ra’am picked up both his plate and Trenae’s plate, stepped away and placed the plates on the counter behind him. He sat back down and rested both his enormous forearms on the table, supporting them at his elbows and clasping his hands together. “The best likeness I can imagine...” He paused, staring into her eyes. “Most people in your society are middle class or poorer lower classes, economic wise. But there are those few who are very wealthy. Now, the lower classes…they may think and wonder how life is like, when one is rich, but they know that is quite unobtainable for them. And so, they continue about their daily lives, their jobs, and yes, maybe sometimes wish for what they do not have, but do not continuously dwell upon it.”

“At least, not most,” she said. “Some might, especially, I’m guessing criminals.”

“Yes, that is true. Some might. But for the most part, the middle and lower classes adjust to their lives and accept them. Life without a family is admired by our males. They are free to pursue their careers, whether military or civilian, without any ties or obligations. A family is stressful, Trenae. A male must provide for and protect his children and wife, and thus his career opportunities are greatly limited. The community monitors his behavior closely as well, since he must remain peaceful and non-violent within his family, which is not his complete true nature. And socializing with his friends becomes limited.”

“Males have friends? Male or almehneht?’

“It can be both, but never females. Females can have friends who are female or almehneh, and almehneht are friends with other almehneh, or males and females. But males can never have female friends. It is forbidden, except between a male and female in marriage.”

She shuddered internally; they were friends. But she hid it. “Well, okay. So you’re saying, if I understand right, that ometvaheem can be violent?”

“Yes, they can.”

“But…so can human males. I mean, there’s all kinds on earth.” She felt a little bold, leaning on her forearms, drawing closer, and staring into his eyes.  “So, I don’t get it. Why did you say your males are monsters?”

“I am not finished yet.”

“Oh, sorry.” She backed away slightly.

“I wanted for you to have a basic understanding, for some of the reasons our genders differ. And there is more information concerning this. When a female child reaches 6 Harkoavian years, she is removed from her home and placed in a type of boarding school called a beetan sekhel ometvrehey.”

“Removed from her home? What would her mother think?”

“Do not worry, this is a procedure done for centuries, the same as children of earth accept going to school everyday. Now, they may not like it all the time, but it is a common, accepted practice. Mothers are allowed to visit daily and stay as long as they wish, even overnight when space is available. But this is for the best. Females are protected this way, from males at home or elsewhere. Beetan sekhel ometvrehey is a place run and populated by mostly females, with a few almehneht. There, young females are taught all knowledge on Harkoav, just as the males and almehneht are taught.”

She placed her hands on her hips, and tilted her head. “Wait a minute. Are you telling me there’s a possibility for incest in the home, and that’s why females are removed?”

“No, not exactly. Let me give you more details, before answering. As I have told you before, a husband and wife are instructed to make it their goal to have one or more female babies. Usually, this results in large families. However, there are families where the mother was fortunate and her first child born was a female. Sometimes, these families will not have further children, or if they do, the next children are only almehneht. In this case, the female may stay at home and be schooled by the mother. But this is not common, since a far better education is taught through the boarding schools.”

“Yeah, but can’t you guys just learn everything through koaksekhels or brain computers? Why have school at all?”

“True, a process similar to that was tried, thousands of years ago. But it was quickly determined that social skills were not taught successfully. And besides, as I have told you earlier, there is a general movement on Harkoav to lessen the dependency on technology. Trust me, technology can become old and worn after time.”

“That’s kinda funny.” She smiled and placed her hands on the table. “But you still haven’t explained…what’s so bad at home for them?”

 “All right, impatient one.” He clasped his hands together again and laid them on the table. “A few more details. Almehneht and males attend what is called asam sekhel starting at the age of 3. It is a school typical to earth schools, where a child attends daily, but comes home in the evening. There, besides being taught all knowledge, the males will have their behavior closely monitored. Violent behavior is intrinsic to males, so violence management, anger management, is taught right away to the young males. Males are taught to channel their violent tendencies into intellectual or physical pursuits.

“They are also taught to revere and understand females, that females are weaker and smaller than males, yet so important to our species. Instruction on females is usually very brief, though, as teachers have consideration for those males who will never marry. Almehneht are allowed to give advice and guidance to the males, since almehneht behavior is typically calm, intellectual, friendly, and passive. However, if certain males do not appear to be making progress at controlling their behavior or are unnecessarily cruel, then they are generally removed from the list of potential marriage mates. They are marked for scrutiny, as they could possibly participate in criminal or deviant behavior as adults. Either intensive behavioral guidance is given to these few, or certain forms of bioengineered plants, producing passive behavior, are fed to them.

“There was a time in our ancient history, when those males which were most aggressive and violent, won the selected female, as they overpowered the other males. But this proved dangerous and deadly to the females. And since females were fewer in number, this approach was quickly changed.”

Ra’am paused. She blinked her eyes, focusing better on his powerful, dark face.

“But continuing,” he said. “Regardless of behavior, when all males reach the age of 11 Harkoav years, they too must attend a boarding school, called beetan sekhel ometvey, leaving the almehneht behind. The almehneht will continue to attend the daily asam sekhel, until graduation, around the age of 15. This is true for males and females also, who complete their boarding schools at 15 Harkoavians years as well, when they are also considered adults. Our children are very smart, learn very quickly, compared to children of earth.”

“Oh, I see,” she said, with sarcastic tone and a smile.

Ra’am smiled back, fortunately. “But that is unimportant now for my explanation. The reason a male must be removed from the home at age 11, is because he is near the onset of ta’are ekhsakar. It will usually occur at approximately 13 years of age, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. But either way, it is an extremely dangerous period. The common symptoms of ta’are ekhsakar will be sporadic and not completely detectable in the maturing male, unlike the adult male. This subjects any female present to severe danger.”

 “Danger?” A rush of anxiety surged through her body. She crossed her arms. “Even, even his own mother?”

“Not in particular his own mother or sister, but all present in the home. It is just that females are smaller and weaker. Before ta’are ekhsakar, an adult male will experience an immense increase in temper and strength. Also, an increase in appetite, a loss of any compassion or kindness he exhibited, a preoccupation with sexual thoughts, a great desire to break, destroy, or fight with any animal, ometvah or inanimate object, and lastly and most importantly, an acne-like skin rash over his entire body. This last symptom will usually occur several days before the full-blown ta’are ekhsakar takes place.”

“You mean…it gets even worse?” Hot flashes ran up her back. Great, she thought.

“Yes. But for the young male, experiencing his first ta’are ekhsakar, some of these symptoms may be present, others may not. Even for adult males, who have experienced this once a year process many times, not all the symptoms may be present each time, although it is rare. But once the head leaders within the beetan sekhel ometvey, who are always male, have determined a young ometvah is about to experience ta’are ekhsakar, he is quickly removed to an asam emah facility.”

“What is that? It sounds like, like that…other place, for the almehneh and--”

“No, asam sekhel is the school. This is asam emah. It is a facility equipped with holding rooms, padded holding rooms, where one male is placed within one padded room. All males, adult or otherwise, who are not married or are married but whose wife does not want more children, must go there several days before their ta’are ekhsakar is due to occur. Actually, when the head leaders have discovered the approximate date of a male’s ta’are ekhsakar, it is promptly documented and registered within the local government computer systems. That way, every ta’are ekhsakar due to take place is very closely monitored. Any male, even after age 13, who does not show up at the local asam emah 3 or 4 days before his ta’are ekhsakar is to take place, is quickly found and arrested by our police system. A punishment can occur, with either a certain percentage of the male’s salary being subtracted, or, a repeat offender can be incarcerated on one of our prison planets.”

“Really? That bad?”

“Ta’are ekhsakar causes a male to become completely insane, extremely violent and dangerous.” Her eyes widened. “When ta’are ekhsakar is in full force, a male will roar, become full of rage. His skin will become hideous, as the acne-like rash forms in greater areas and in denser quantities. His eyes and face will become distorted, as someone in a continuous state of delirium or anger. And he will throw and thrash his body around the padded room, at an incredible rate of speed, as the pain he feels intensifies.”

“Pain?” she asked gently.

“Yes, it hurts. His every thought during the whole process, which usually lasts 3 days when in its apex or fullest effect, is to mate with a female. It is his only thought, along with escaping, at any cost, to find a female. But as this does not occur, the flood of evoog dam keenoz within the male’s body surges through his muscles, bones, and brain, causing a sharp, severe pain. The only release from this pain, is as I said.”

“Hurting himself?”

“Yes, and yelling or roaring. To walk in one of these facilities, as one or more males is experiencing ta’are ekhsakar, is to walk into a house of monsters.”

She looked down, resting her hands on the table, touching her fingernails. “It sounds to me like you guys go from being males to becoming werewolves or something.” She lifted her head. “Does that sound close?”

“Yes, it does. A good comparison.”

“And so, if males were left out in the community, when this takes place, they could kill someone or severely damage someone or something?”

“Yes again. That is it exactly.”

“And you have…you have…done this before?” she asked softly.

Ra’am crossed his arms over his chest. “Absolutely. Ever since I was 12. It happened earlier for me. But do not worry. It was a month before I met you, in September, that I last had mine, so I am all right.”

“Oh, I see…And it really hurts you?” she asked, her words gentle. She felt concern and compassion for him.

“It feels to me, like my muscles and bones are being cut by a knife continuously. A burning, stabbing pain.”

“Well, can’t they give you pain killers or something?”

“Yes, sometimes, when a male is at the verge of permanently damaging himself or accidentally killing himself, male doctors at asam emah facilities will enter the room and try to place a form of tse makh yerape on his skin, to lessen his symptoms. But generally, our doctors have discovered it is best for ta’are ekhsakar to run its course, if mating does not occur, since it actually has beneficial properties for our males. It tends to cleanse the males’ system of toxic substances. And since he does not eat or sleep, taking only water at times, this further allows his system to cleanse itself. Fortunately, ta’are ekhsakar only occurs until a male is approximately 40 Harkoavian years. Yet during those years, between 13 to 40, he is in the peak of his health. Afterwards, his health slowly declines. So you see, it can be beneficial.”

“Gosh, I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head.

“Males are proud of their ta’are ekhsakar,” Ra’am said haughtily, sitting straighter in his seat. “In fact, the harsher the experience and the better one handles it, the more that male is regarded as superior, a leader. We males often look forward to it, and wonder how well we will handle it this time, or how crazy and dangerous we will become.”

“Sort of like how human men beat themselves up playing football, wrestling, or boxing?”


“I don’t get it- why don’t your doctors just drug you guys, cancel the whole thing?”

“Because, it has beneficial attributes to a males’ overall health.”

Trenae looked down again. “Yeah, you said,” she spoke quietly. She lifted her gaze. “But did it ever happen, where a male escaped for some reason, or never went to asam emah and they couldn’t find him, and hurt someone?”

“Yes, it has. And this is another reason females are safer at beetan sekhel ometvrehey. There was a time in our past, when neither asam emah existed nor the male and female boarding schools. Families and the community tried their best to control those in ta’are ekhsakar. But they failed many times. This concerned community leaders greatly, since there were always fewer females born than other genders. Unmarried males sometimes raped and killed females, as well as family members or others in the community. Without a loving bond formed by marriage, a male in ta’are ekhsakar will have no compassion for an unfamiliar female. And yes, even incestuous incidences have occurred because of this. Our world realized we had to establish control.”

“And so that’s how those female boarding schools help, by protecting them from loose males?” she asked.

“Correct. Beetan sekhel ometvrehey are structured to protect females, with few entrances and exits. And those doorways are well protected and observed. Curfews for the females, so they do not stay out late, are enforced. Often, males begin to experience ta’are ekhsakar in the evening, so you can understand that reasoning. And also, since the majority of all females tend to work or live in or near beetan sekhel ometvrehey, it is far easier to find an unreported or escaped male.”

“Since he would always go where the females are?”


“So if I’m right, it sounds like Harkoavians wouldn’t have problems with prostitution or porn.” Shoot, that was blunt of me.

“We do not, simply because sexuality is never spoken of or depicted in public, due to the high population of unmarried males. To do so, again, would cause trouble for those males.”

“Hmm,” she mumbled, looking down at the table. She glanced up at him. “But what about all those females, living all together in one place? Do they ever…become lesbian?”

“Although I have never heard of this happening, it could maybe occur. But it is unlikely. This is because, as soon as a female is considered sexually mature, approximately 14 or 15 years old, she is immediately considered for marriage. And, like I told you before, a lottery takes place, with the best available males, who are general 15 or older. Their age is important, since by 15, a male’s ta’are ekhsakar is generally better established, although it will change once he marries. And a female may turn down all available males in the lottery, if she chooses. Or, she may even disregard the lottery, and simply choose one of the available lottery males. She is given a choice, but generally must marry.”

“She has to marry?”

“Do not forget, that since there are fewer females, every available, healthy female should marry, to propagate our species. Nevertheless, sometimes a female may not be healthy, or simply does not want to marry. It can happen, but is rare. Most females, by the time they are mature, having spent very little time around males, are extremely interested in marrying one.”

“Oh, I see,” she said, with a quick smile. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

Ra’am uncrossed his arms and leaned down on the table, close to her, much closer than the previous time. “That is right,” he said slowly, staring deeply into her eyes.

She backed away ever so gradually, pushing herself into the seat, struggling not to appear obvious. But it was pointless; Ra’am began running his gaze up and down her body, as he had done last night, apparently taking advantage of her outward fear and vulnerability. Her heart began pounding hard. She felt confused. Come on, think of something to say! “S-so you said, you said that…that a male’s ta’are ekhsakar will change, after he marries?”

Ra’am secured his close position on the table, yet lifted his stare back into her eyes, searing her soul. She struggled to calm herself, secretly. “Yes, that is right. Before a male is chosen to marry, he must have recently had his ta’are ekhsakar, no more than a month previous. Preferably, within the past week. This is because at least 4 or 5 months should past, before his next ta’are ekhsakar.”

“But I thought you said it only happens once a year, and…” She paused, inhaling a deep breath. Her breathing felt labored. “And your years are 13 months, so…”

“As soon as a couple is married, they will, of course, be intimate.” Ra’am stared his black eyes even deeper into her soul. “You do know what I mean.”

She stared back, trying to appear unthreatened. “Yes, I think so, if human males and females have similar anatomy…to you guys.”

“We do, except conception occurs only once a year, as I have said. But the more a male has intimate, or sexual relations…” No! He said that word! Though he paused a little, he kept his stare piercing her eyes. “…then the sooner his body will sense the best time for ta’are ekhsakar to take place. Our females have cycles, like earth females, but they occur over two earth-month periods. So it could be within the next few weeks, or many months later. Hormones, biochemicals- it has much to do with those.”

“And then what?” she asked quietly.

“A male’s time for ta’are ekhsakar will be altered, to conform to his wife’s best opportunity to conceive. Also, a loving bond will be established, due to their intimacy. This is extremely important. Even though the husband will be in an altered mental state during ta’are ekhsakar, he will still be able to sense his great love for his wife. Without that love, as in past cases of rape during ta’are ekhsakar, the female is far more likely to be maimed or killed. And so, when the symptoms appear of his impending ta’are ekhsakar, the husband and wife will quickly go to benyeney hebroot, a separate, distant, section of the asam emah facility, where usually only almehneht will monitor the conception process.”

She crossed her arms and sighed a little loud, displaying her discomfort. “This is getting a little, well…”

“Frightening?” Ra’am backed away a bit.

Good, stay there. “No, just, well…”

“I can stop, if you want.”

But something within forced Trenae to know more. “No, that’s okay. But I’m kind of guessing there’s a problem here, with conception?”

“Yes, there is. It will reaffirm what I have said, that we can be monsters. The reason a husband and wife must come to benyeney hebroot, is to protect the wife from injury, or, in some rare cases, even death. Whereas childbirth is painful and traumatic for human females, it is conception that is equivalent, in this regard, with ometvehar. You can imagine, the fear, after a female, typically for the first time in her life, observes her husband begin ta’are ekhsakar. She sees his skin, his face, his emotions, change. He becomes tremendously frightening. And then she knows, having been taught in school, what will happen next. This is why, the whole process must be closely contained and monitored.”

The scenario ran ahead in her mind. “Wait a minute. I think…you’re saying, they’re going to have sex…in front of almehneht?”

“Yes. Usually one or more almehneht. They are physicians, almehneht physicians. However, if anything dangerous occurs, then one or more ometvah physicians may have to come, to remove the husband, since they will be the only ones capable of handling an ometvah in ta’are ekhsakar. An almehneh, even several, would be incapable of such strength.”

“Are their clothes off too, the husband and wife?” She formed a crooked smile and raised her eyebrows.

“Yes, it is best. The male, in his enraged, crazed state, will not think twice about modesty. But for the female, she will usually disrobe in a small room, and then wear a white sheet-like robe. There is a bed, in the room. The almehneht present will be very accommodating, practical, like doctors in a delivery room on earth. They do this all the time. It is their job.

“But then, the male will lift and hold the female, on the bed, and he will enter her and stay inside her, until the process is complete. His body releases another hormone, which will cause the female’s cervix to open gradually. Generally, this takes about 45 minutes. Then, once his body has sensed that conception has absolutely occurred, with no doubt, he will be finished. The whole process usually takes about an hour, but sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on the vitality of the female’s ovum or the male’s sperm.”

Something felt very wrong. “It hurts the female, doesn’t it,” she said.

“How would you know that?” he asked, appearing worried and serious.

“Well…I…” She looked down. Why did that painful memory have to be brought up now? “I had an abortion, back in September. I never told you. Stiles made me have one.” Out of her eye’s lower corners, she could see Ra’am bring his hands together. She kept talking. “It was maybe for the best, though, since I didn’t want a child with that psycho anyway. But yeah, it hurt, a LOT. The doctor had to open my cervix, vacuum inside, use that horrible curette.” A shudder made her shake. “It was horrible, especially thinking about what I had done, to the baby…I just force myself not to think about it anymore.”

She lifted her head a little and looked at him. Though concern molded his face, his hands wrung together tightly, fiercely. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

“Yes, but…” His eyes turned away, staring down at L.B. Slowly, he released his hands and placed them on the table, calm once more. He looked back at her. “I should finish explaining, so you know everything. This is why our females fear our males so much. Yes, it does hurt the female. And she may try to get away. But she cannot. This is another reason, our males are so much larger than our females. Yet while all this occurs, the female has one comfort from the male- negee’ah ragoo’a.”

“The calming touch?”

“That is right. You can see why it is so important. Not only does it relax the female, who as you may know, is very frightened, but it also alleviates pain.”

“Yeah, I remember. That time at the nightclub, when you touched me. It felt like my legs were paralyzed a bit.”

“Yes. But the calming touch will only work for a limited time and only alleviates some of the pain. It will flow automatically from a male’s hands, while he is in this state and near his wife. Yet, after approximately 45 minutes, the female’s body will develop a resistance to negee’ah ragoo’a. And then, if the male is not finished and the female’s cervix and uterus must remain open, she will be in excruciating pain.”

Trenae gasped, covering her mouth for a moment. “That sounds terrible.”

“It is. But after they are done, the husband will gradually return to normal. The almehneht physicians, who were present the entire time, will check to be certain the wife is all right. Usually, she is. Sometimes there is hemorrhagic bleeding, which is generally cured by tse makh yerape. But typically, the male is fine.”

“Of course,” she said, giving a quick cynical expression.

“But later, after the male is calm, usually after several hours, both husband and wife will celebrate, for it is certain that she is pregnant. The wife may still be weak, tired, and in pain. It is then, after seeing her condition and knowing what he had put her through, that the husband is usually kind, loving, and comforting to her.”

“You mean he has regrets, or feels bad?”

“Yes.” Ra’am looked deeply into her eyes again, his own eyes developing softness, becoming less traumatic to observe. “Because of this ferocious episode, the rest of the year, when ta’are ekhsakar does not take place, the husband will treat his wife kindly and preciously. It is part by nature, and part by desire to right a terrible wrong. He will help her with her pregnancy, around 5 earth months in gestation. The baby is born easily, with not much pain, unlike earth females. The baby is born small and at home, but is in safe hands, due to our females’ great maternal and gentle nature. And together, the husband and wife will enjoy their first child, for a peaceful 8 earth-months of time, before the next ta’are ekhsakar. This allows the baby ample time to nurse, like earth females, and grow rapidly, until the next pregnancy, if it occurs.

“And now, I know I said our males are like monsters, to our females. But it is said, by many in the universe, that there is no stronger loving bond between the opposite sex, than that of an ometvah husband and his wife. Once he realizes how special and precious his wife is, he will do anything within his power to protect her and make her life pleasant, and he will never leave her.”

Ra’am became quiet, although he smiled gently at Trenae.

She felt uncomfortable. “So, you mean, you guys either don’t want it at all, or…you can’t get enough of it?”

“Trenae, that is an awfully crude way to describe it.”

“I’m sorry.” She looked down.

“It is all right.”

“So,” she said, keeping her gaze down, touching her nails, “I guess you guys don’t have a problem with divorce.”

“It can happen, especially in the rare case of a male becoming physically abusive. And there is a severe punishment for the abusive male, sometimes even death. But because our males are so thoroughly investigated before they marry, as to their temperament and social history, it is usually prevented.”

She raised her head. “And abortion…never happens?”

“Every pregnancy is wanted greatly. However, complications can arise with a pregnancy. Sometimes, a miscarriage occurs. And sometimes, although very rarely, a doctor must end a pregnancy due to a life threatening disorder of the female. Since our females are fewer, the importance of her life far exceeds the value of the unborn fetus’ life.”

“Damn, this is so different, from earth.” Trying to avoid remembrance of her abortion, she allowed thousands of questions to race through her mind about Ra’am’s world and their social and reproductive structure. Yet she didn’t want to ask most of them. “Not to change the subject, but, do you have different races and countries on Harkoav, like earth has?”

“Actually, yes, there used to be different races, thousands of years ago, with varying degrees of skin color, body, and size differences among ometvaheem, depending upon their location in different communities, states, or continents on Harkoav. However, there have always been three distinct genders. But now, after many hundreds of years of interracial breeding, there is only one type of ometvah. It is because our technology, which enabled quick, free transportation throughout Harkoav that all countries became one. Not only does Harkoav have one world government, one race, and one language, but one solar system government likewise, which in turn, rules Harkoav. Of course, there are separate government branches, but--”

“But that’s why,” she said, “all of you resemble, have features like yours, of your face and skin?”

“Yes. There are slight differences, as you observed in the two ometvaheem who visited us recently, but many more similarities. It could happen to earth, too, as your technology advances and travel to all points around your planet will be instantaneous and free for all people. Of course, it may not occur, if certain human groups choose to stay with their own race. But on Harkoav, boundaries such as states and continents, have all become rather insignificant, like state boundaries in the United States. But…it is possible, here on earth, for people of all races, religions, languages, and ethnicities to intermingle and blend, become united. It simply takes time.”

“Wow, that sounds incredible, but you’re probably right.” She smiled, lowered her head and crossed her arms. “Unless, of course, we blow our planet up before that.”

“I do not believe God will allow that.”

“I hope you’re right.” She looked down at L.B. “I don’t know. On this planet, especially in this country, sometimes…it seems everyone is always trying to make males and females androgynous, the same.” Shaking her head a little, she looked back at him. “But you guys, you guys have learned to accept each others differences, and work with them.”

“True, but there is far greater difference between each of our genders, as well as population percentages.”

“But still, I don’t know.”

“Each planet of intelligent beings finds what is best for their social structure. Sometimes it is learned quickly. Other times, it may take years, thousands of years, of trial and error.”

“I guess we’re in that trial and error period.”

“And from what I hear,” he said, “of the unrest on Makhtah, we are not finished as well.”

A warmth and calmness covered Ra’am’s face, after he spoke, that allowed Trenae to gaze at him closely. Somehow, it felt he had removed a barrier between them. She could look into his eyes better than before, even gazing over his upper body, around his neck and shoulders, his arms, his hands, more easily, as though he welcomed her. She wondered again, as she had wondered when they first met, how he could constantly be exposed to her femininity and yet not be affected. But this was an old question. He had answered the question a long time back, during the first few days she had been with him. And he continued to answer it all along, by how he had treated her with respect, consideration, and freedom. She could always go to her room, for her own space and separation from him, whenever it was needed.

Only the taxicab incident tainted the answer. And the way he behaved last night, after their moon trip, troubled too.

Nevertheless, another question remained to be answered. And now, with his inviting demeanor, she had to ask it.

She inhaled deeply and stared into his eyes. “When…when the husband and wife…the rest of the year, not during ta’are ekhsakar…” This is going to be harder than I anticipated. Her vision went blurry; she looked away from his face.

“Yes, Trenae?”

She tried looking back, but it proved too difficult. Placing her hands on the table once more, she gazed at them instead and forced herself to continue. “When a husband and wife, on Harkoav, are intimate…”

Ra’am leaned down, moving himself across the table, closer to her. She could hear him, but didn’t look at him. “You mean,” he said, “when they have sexual intercourse?”

Trenae gasped a quick breath, so quiet. Slowly, she lifted her head. Her eyelids felt so weak. “I…I guess so.” She began blinking, yet couldn’t help it. Even so, she had to persist. “I mean, is it, do they…feel…”

“Pleasurable? Do they have orgasms?”

Her heart pounded harder. Yet she had to look in his eyes. “Yes,” she whispered.

Without warning, the welcoming demeanor on Ra’am’s face changed, turning dark and dangerous. She could now barely look at him. He began slinking his right hand forward, closer, closer. But then, he stopped. Keeping his hand still, he looked into her eyes, staring mercilessly with his black and turquoise gaze. “They do, Trenae,” he said slowly, deliberately, “and it is very, very pleasurable.” His eyes scanned down her face, toward her body.

Trenae’s composure and will power broke into a thousand pieces. Tears welled in the corners of her eyes. The instinct to run, escape, became overwhelming. “I don’t know…I don’t know, but…” she said. She gave him the sweetest, demure expression, disguising her tears, her weakness. “But I need to go to bed now…I mean, sorry, to my room.”

She forced herself up and moved to the right, yet avoided stepping on the resting L.B. “Nice talking with you,” she said, beginning to turn. She gave Ra’am one last glance. 

Yet as she did, her heart sank. For instead of Ra’am’s former piercing stare, his eyes expressed tender longing and desire, sadness, even loneliness. He doesn’t want me to leave.

But I have to go. Foolishness, it was, to become attached to him now. He’s leaving in a week or less!

Making herself depart from the eyzkher mazon, she walked toward the back of Ha-Ta, the galeel khayeem, and rounded Ha-Ta’s center, finally arriving in her room. There, she miraculously suppressed all the emotions troubling her mind, crushing them into powdery unconsciousness.  I’ll just make myself numb inside, she thought. These feelings will go away, they have to. She crawled into bed, her clothes still on, and pulled the covers over her head. Eventually, she ventured off into a dreamless, vacant sleep…

















                                                                     Chapter 18



…“That’s some intense stuff,” Jenny said, her eyes wide.

“Tell me about it.”

“So, how did you feel, after he told you all that?”

“I don’t know,” Trenae said slowly. “Like I said, I just made myself go numb, feel nothing. I was good at that, after Willson’s. But I did think about that ta’are ekhsakar stuff some more, in the morning.”

Warm, soothing breeze flew between them, from the west. Trenae turned around, placing her elbows and forearms on top of the brick barrier, resting her chin on her forearms. “Well, that was unexpected,” she said. Her eyes gazed straight ahead, toward Boise’s lighted city buildings.

“What was?” Jenny asked.

“That warm breeze. Did you feel it?”

“Yes, I think so.” Jenny turned around too, resting her arms on the ledge the same. “You were falling for him, weren’t you.”

Trenae turned right, to look at Jenny. “Hey, what about your chronological deal?”

Jenny grinned, resting her chin on her arms too. She lifted her head. “Okay, okay. I know. Do you want to keep going, tell me more?”

“Sure, I’m all right. Nervous, but all right.”

“No one has bothered us yet. But I have to admit, I keep looking toward the stairwell door.”

“Do you think we should sit over there on the east side, so we face it?”

Jenny turned around. Wanting to hear her answer clearly, Trenae turned back also. “I don’t know,” Jenny said. “I would rather be here, if that’s all right.”

“Yeah, I think we’re safe. We can keep going here.”

Jenny readied the recorder, note pad, and pencil again. “Good. So, you went to bed, got up the next day, right?”

“Yes. It was Sunday. I remember, after waking up, and walking by the control panel, how the sun was shining so brightly outside. And it had been very warm, for January, especially by our location. Actually, it had been all week. Do you remember?”

“I think so. January, near the end?”

“Yeah, like the week before too, when we visited Pastor Crenshaw in Boise, even then it was spring-like. And again, the day we picked up Pastor, when we went to the moon.”

“I see.”

“We were still in Frank Church Wilderness. Ra’am was sitting in his seat, at the shleetah maksheer. I slowly walked near him.”…



…Right after arising from bed, Trenae had thought intensely about everything Ra’am told her last night. It made her feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. But the moment Ra’am turned his seat, facing up at her, the discomforting feelings vanished. A wide smile brightened Ra’am’s face, revealing sections of protruding dark blue geed’aso. “I decided to leave my favorite animal for last,” he said.

“What? Why are you so happy?”

“We are going to visit the two grizzly bears today. They are still in their hibernating den, so it will be easy to apply hemoom prodoh upon them. It is a warm day, Trenae. I thought we could bring food along, maybe find a dry, snow-less area, and have a picnic.”

Cautiously watching the cheerful alien, she leaned over and slid into her usual seat. “A picnic? And you never told me your favorite earth animal was the grizzly.”

Ra’am turned his chair so she could see his front body. He glanced toward her feet and then looked in her face. “I see you have your hiking boots on. That is good. And you are wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt. You are dressed for hiking. All you need is your thin jacket, since the temperature is approximately 55.

“And here,” he said, lifting something from the floor, “as you can see, I have a back pack. I have packed some food and drink items. Dod gave me the back pack.”

“Of course he did,” she said sweetly. She took a gander at the large black and dark blue backpack. It appeared typical, something Dod would supply. Ra’am held it for a moment, and then placed it on the floor again.

She began rising from her seat. “I guess I’ll go get my jacket.”

“Yes, go ahead.”

She walked toward her room. With Ra’am’s pleasant mood and nearly child-like behavior, her mind could hardly focus. What’s up with this guy? She thought more about him than what she was doing, barely remembering putting on her thin brown jacket. The next thing she knew, she was putting her long, wavy blond hair in two ponytails. This seemed to be more comfortable than one ponytail, since her hair now touched the middle of her back and weighed more than ever. Mixed blessings it was, at having fast growing hair.                                                           

Finally, she returned and sat in her seat.

Ra’am was readying Ha-Ta for subterranean travel.

“Hey, where’s L.B.?” she asked, looking around.

“He is in the eyzkher mazon. I gave him some food. He will be here soon, I am sure.” Ra’am pressed a few more buttons on the shleetah maksheer. “We are moving now.”

“Oh, okay.”

A large 3-D image appeared above the memadgeemel, displaying the outside mountainous surroundings. Ra’am pointed his index finger at the image. “We are here right now, on McCalla Ridge, south of Chamberlain Creek. But here, above the Salmon River, Harrington Ridge, and Hamilton Creek, is our general target area. Actually,” he said, enlarging an area of the image, still pointing, “we will hike to right here, east of Bend Creek and along this mountain. And I have checked for any humans. There are none in our general area of travel.”

She focused closely on the area he indicated. A miniature world of mountains, trees, and streams, which, as always, appeared so real, lifted her dreary feelings to an enchanted, happier level.

“We are going to bring Ha-Ta as close to the bear’s location as we can, approximately 6000 feet elevation. From there, we can walk. The bears are in a small cave, which I suspect they created, beneath some underbrush on the mountain’s side.”

“Are we going to be safe? I mean, remember how careful we had to be with that black bear and mountain lion we captured?”

“Yes, I remember. We needed a great distance between us each time, approximately 50 yards, before we could release those animals from the hemoom prodoh encasement. Otherwise, we would have been confronted by an angry carnivore.”

Trenae smiled. “But the grizzly really is your favorite?”

“Yes, I admire their strength and size, as well as their great speed, which is incredible, given their large structure, for an earth animal. Their coloring, body shape, and fur are remarkable too. I suppose they are like very large dogs to me, although I realize they are not as friendly and cuddly as L.B.”

“That’s for sure!”

Ra’am kept the 3D image on the control panel, while also producing an image on the khalon. “That is where their hibernation den is, just beneath the roots of that small pine tree.”

She moved closer, eyeing the khalon. “Definitely on a hillside! Gosh, that slope is rather steep. Can we get to it all right?”

“I can. If you have trouble, we can consider our options.”

L.B. bounded into their presence. He began to sniff at the backpack on the floor. Ra’am picked it up again and placed it beneath the shleetah maksheer, by his feet. Trenae reached down to pet L.B.’s head. Fortunately, he seemed rather calm. Maybe he ate so much, it made him sluggish. Silly dog.

She lifted her arm and rested both hands on her lap. Thoughts from the back reaches of yesterday, especially last night, circled in her mind. She turned left, and looked at Ra’am. Immediately, he looked at her too.

“Can I ask you something?” she said.

“What is it?”

“Why don’t the females of your planet just get artificially inseminated, like people on earth can do? That way, she won’t have to suffer…that pain.”

Ra’am blinked a few times, and stared with dark, frightening eyes. She felt his mood change. “Sometimes, a female can request a procedure similar to this. However, the sperm from the male must be invasively removed, a type of painless surgery, before his ta’are ekhsakar takes place. During ta’are ekhsakar, it would be nearly impossible to obtain. But, this procedure is looked-down upon, much as a woman having a Cesarean section, only to a far greater degree.”

“You mean, it’s considered shameful to the female?”

“Yes, very much. As our unmarried males consider it honorable and courageous to endure their ta’are ekhsakar, in the same manner, so do married females, who endure conception from their husbands.”

“Like peer pressure in a way?”

“Yes, possibly.”

She gazed downward. That old lingering doubt, always there in her mind to chase her around, showed its ugly face. Coward, Trenae, it said; you could never endure such a traumatic experience.

“Is there something troubling you?”

His concern surprised. She lifted her head and looked at him. “No, I’m okay. But you know, there was something else, I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

“We will be at our location in a few seconds, but I will try to answer quickly.”

“I know you’ve told me a little, before, but…in Ensofyafah, who will be the ones to make it, to live again?”

 Ra’am paused a moment. “Those who understand peace. Those who treat others, as they would like to be treated. Beings, who before they died, practiced what God wanted from them, to achieve paradise-like conditions.”

She smiled a bit and nodded in agreement. “I understand.” Then her mood shifted, becoming serious. “Do you think…you’ll make it?”

“I do not know. All I can do is try. That is all any of us can do.” He touched some buttons on the control panel. “We are here. Are you very hungry, or can you wait till later to eat breakfast?”

“Actually, I’m not that hungry or thirsty. I’m fine.”

“All right then. We should leave.”

After lifting the backpack and coaxing L.B. to follow, Ra’am led her and L.B. onto the hemoom prodoh disk. Shortly, they were outside, above ground.

Beautiful mountains and wooded areas surrounded them. Trenae’s eyes scanned around briefly, drawing in the scenery. She also breathed in huge gulps of fresh, pine-filled air.

Ra’am began leading them to a narrow deer trail. He explained they were already at about 6400 feet elevation, and therefore did not have far to travel. The trail headed northeastwardly, up along a steep slope between pine trees. As they began to ascend the trail, she could see a river to her left, between the trees, far below them. Ra’am explained it was Bend Creek. She only captured quick glimpses, due to their motion and obstructed view, but could observe water sparkling with miniscule dots of light, the stream rushing along in the bright, clear sunny day. She looked up. Nary a cloud appeared in the sky, between the treetops. Both the day and scenery were breathtaking.

L.B. raced off into the nearby woods, while they walked. Nevertheless, the silly dog tried to remain close, appearing now and then, startling Trenae.

“You realize,” Ra’am said, walking ahead, “I could have gone to Alaska, Canada, or even Glacier National Park in Montana to find a good specimen of a grizzly bear.”

He turned around periodically to see her.

“Well, why didn’t you then?”

“I am troubled, as to why these two bears are so far south in Idaho. It is rather unusual. Combined with the fact those two hunters were searching for them, I am concerned. I really want to have them analyzed by the taktselekh system.”

“Oh, I see.”

What a good workout today, she thought. Her breathing and heart rate increased with each ascending step, as they climbed up the trail. Typically, Ra’am wasn’t showing the slightest problem with the hike. Even strenuous exertion, like mountain climbing, showed little strain in his body. He continued to lead the way.

A few quiet moments passed by.

Ra’am stopped moving.

“What’s wrong?” She drew closer to him.

“I want to check my koaksekhel.”

He removed his black jacket and the backpack, hanging both items on a nearby pine tree branch. Watching him from behind, she secretly scanned over his huge muscular body and powerful arms. No camouflage covered his skin, since no humans wondered nearby. His hair was held back by the silver shfoferet yedet, as he did everyday, and he wore a sapphire-colored tee shirt, tucked in jeans. Oddly, the shirt didn’t make the blue geed’aso in his arms appear more noticeably. Instead, it lessened their effect.

She walked near Ra’am’s left side and observed that the small door portal on the koaksekhel was open. He was pressing some buttons within the portal. “So what’s wrong?” she asked.

“I am receiving multiply signals, information that is not normal. This concerns me, since I am not certain whether the bears left their den or not.”

“What? They left? I thought they were hibernating.” Worry. No, stay calm.

“Yes, that is what confuses me…We should move forward. Maybe I can then--” Ra’am thrust himself over, grabbing the koaksekhel with his left hand. “Aaarrghhh!” he groaned, his thunderous voice shaking the woods.

“Ra’am, what’s wrong?” She grabbed his left arm with both hands. Never had she seen him like this.

“It is…my fault,” he said, between clenched teeth. His eyes shut tightly. He imbedded, raced his left fingers along the koaksekhel’s side seam, removing it quickly. “This morning, after I had taken a shower, I did not dry the area beneath the koaksekhel thoroughly. I arose later than normal for me. I was so interested in seeing the grizzly bears, I did not follow standard procedure.”

“Why, what can happen?”

L.B. began charging toward them.

Moaning a few more times, Ra’am finally held the shining, silver armband in his hands. She could see the koaksekhel’s underside, the side that always caressed his arm, as it lay open within both his hands. A silvery-clear substance, looking like a cross between a layer of gel or spongy material, shimmered in the sunlight.

“This is not good. Can you see how moist the meekpa bahmee appears?”

“You mean, that gel stuff?”

“Yes,” he said. “A micro-biological substance grown especially for koaksekhels, combined with certain proodat t’notah systems.”

He bent over, moaning again. Trenae stepped in front of him, near his right arm. Not hesitating, she took held of his large right forearm, as concern overrode her timidity. She studied his arm, observing an area of redness marked with scores of tiny, bloody pin pricks, just on his skin’s surface, above the geed’aso on his mid forearm. She gently skimmed her fingertips across his injured skin, blood wetting her touch. Ra’am’s steel-like strength, just below his skin, pushed up against her soft fingers.

“Excess moisture,” he said, “especially when causing what your scientists refer to as hypotonic osmosis, disrupts the chemical reaction necessary to keep synapse cation and anion flow with my khoot gotahey koaksekhel--”

“Khoot gotahey--”

“Yes. The koaksekhel nerve fiber within my arm. However, some moisture is needed, a perfect balance nonetheless, and if this balance is disrupted, proodat t’notah systems within the meekpa bahmee will work to achieve balance again. Yet, in the meantime, the meekpa bahmee will attempt other connections, via nerve sensors, with the khoot gotahey koaksekhel, piercing through skin and geed’aso to find other paths to the nerve.” He paused, grimaced, and inhaled deeply.

“If there were even larger quantities of moisture, water, the sensors would not work at all, not even making other nerve connection attempts until proper moisture balance is achieved. But even if the sensors do make other attempts, their paths are typically unsuccessful, not only because of geed’aso’s impenetrable structure, but because they must bio-create or establish new synapse connections. This causes much pain,” he said. “As you can observe, the numerous injuries.” She stared again at his arm, her fingertips yet smoothing and holding near his injury.

She looked up at his face. Still grasping his koaksekhel, Ra’am appeared relaxed and calm now, as she held his arm, touching him softly. Her touch apparently eased his pain. Yet somehow, it didn’t make sense. Before this moment, he never seemed like he wanted her touch. Actually, she expected him to pull his arm away, bolt from her affection now. But, he did not.  Usually he was the one who always took her hand or reached out to her physically, but only in a business-like, friendship manner, except for the taxicab time. Of course, I could just be skittish, she thought, recalling his abrupt reaction after the core trip. Had I ever really tried to touch him affectionately, since that time?

L.B. jumped up at Ra’am, nearly knocking the koaksekhel onto the rocky, wet soil below, drenched from melting snow.

“No, L.B.! Down, boy,” Ra’am said. L.B. whined a little at his master’s rough tone. Trenae released her hands from Ra’am’s arm and grabbed L.B., pulling him down.

“Normal perspiration is absorbed and contained, used for chemical reactions with the khoot gotahey koaksekhel synapse,” Ra’am said. “Any excess perspiration is eventually dismantled and evaporated.”

She looked up at him, holding L.B.’s collar. “I didn’t know.”

“But the moisture balance is too disruptive now. I am afraid I will have to leave the koaksekhel off, to allow both my arm and the meekpa bahmee to dry successfully.”

 “Shoot, that isn’t good,” she said, staring at his face.

Ra’am smiled. “Do not worry. I can still protect you. My ability is limited without the koaksekhel, but not by much. At least, not when it pertains to humans and their technology.” He lifted his jacket off the tree branch and began placing the koaksekhel within the soft, inner lining of the jacket. After wrapping the rest of the jacket around the silver armband, he removed the backpack from the tree. The entire wrapped combination was then inserted in the backpack, zippered closed, and placed on his back once more.

“Aren’t you gonna be cold?” she asked, holding energetic L.B. “Do you need me to help you with anything, besides L.B.?”

“No, I am fine. You know I handle the cold well. Besides, it is warm. I do not need it. You can allow L.B. to run.”

She released LB. Ra’am walked toward her on the narrow trail.

“Let me take the lead and hold your hand,” he said. “I can protect you better that way.” Gently encircling her right hand with his left hand, he pulled her upright.

His hand felt warmer than her hand, as always. But this time, she really didn’t want him to hold her hand. Sure, she had touched him as he moaned in pain, out of concern. Yet, should she have? And should she now allow him to hold her hand, when he was leaving in less than a week? Thinking about it hurt. Yet there was no other choice now. My safety will have to overshadow my wounded feelings.

Tugging her gently, carefully, he again led their ascent up the deer trail.

Her mind became active. “You know, Ra’am, I’m not worried about humans bothering me. You already checked that…” she said between breaths. “There were none. I’m worried…about the bears.”

Ra’am stopped in his steps. She looked up at him. He turned and looked down at her, anger, betrayal painting his face. “You are always safe when you are near me!” he said. But then he softened his harsh expression, obviously realizing his fearsome tone. “Have you ever been hurt before, by the other wild animals we encased?”

“No, not really.”

“Not really?”

“Well, okay.” She blinked a few times. “I wasn’t. But this animal is so large and dangerous.”

“Do not be afraid,” he said calmly. He turned and walked forward, continuing to hold her hand.

Yet she couldn’t stop thinking about the absence of his koaksekhel. Yes, true, I never got hurt by the animals before. But he always was wearing his koaksekhel. Her troubled mind needed distraction. Maybe some conversation would help. “Can you tell me…what you know about grizzly bears?”

 “They are large omnivorous animals,” he said, beginning to lead them between pine trees and some underbrush, the trail narrowing. “The scientific name your world has given them is Ursus arctos or Ursus horribiles. They will eat berries, nuts, root vegetables, grasses, insects like ants and moths, and carrion, which is a dead animal. They also enjoy eating whitebark pine seeds.” His lecture was typical, since he would often describe the details before they encountered their target animal. Like always, he wasn’t winded from their hike, speaking in a continuous stream of words.

“Oh, I get it,” she said. “And there’s a lot of those trees around, around these higher elevations.”

“Yes,” he said. “However, they generally hibernate at higher elevations. So, not only for the whitebark pine seeds, at this height. Grizzly bears can also be predatory, capturing salmon, small animals like ungulate mammal calves from deer or elk, and other smaller animals they can catch. Approximately 75% vegetable matter, 25% animal matter, similar to humans, except they eat their food raw.”

“Like you do.”

“Yes, but we eat far less animal food. Male bears in this area weigh about 300-800 pounds, whereas the grizzlies from the Kodiak islands near the Alaskan coast, where food is plentiful, can weigh up to 1500 pounds.”

The ground became increasing rocky as they ventured higher. More areas appeared covered by snow, while the tree population became less. Yet they still had to maneuver between the rough bark of pine trees on their trail. L.B. ran farther down below, searching for something.

“They can be very fast,” Ra’am said, “with bursts of speeds up to 30 or 35 miles per hour.”

“Shoot…that’s not good.”

“Yes. Bad for their prey, but good for the bears. And they are very strong animals. Also, they are known for their intelligence, by earth animal standards, yet can differ in their personality, much as we can, from one bear to the next. Some can be shy, some aggressive. Unpredictable.”

“Oh yeah…I can see…why you like them too.”

“Yes, I suppose. But the physiological attribute I find most fascinating, is a bear’s hibernation process. First, during the late summer or early fall, they will gain up to 40 pounds per week. Then, when the weather changes and their food supply lessens, they will burrow a den, usually under a large tree root, but also in an open area, along a mountainside, usually anywhere from 6500 feet to over 10,000 feet in elevation.”

“Oh…right. Hence…our climb.”

“Yes. The bears we are searching for are beneath a tree root, at approximately 7200 feet elevation on the mountainside. I find it amazing, that during hibernation, grizzly bears will not eat or drink, and they will not urinate or defecate. Their digestive and excretory systems will essentially shut down. However, poisonous wastes and by-products are broken down and reabsorbed. Urine is also reabsorbed through the bladder wall, where it is then processed into amino acids and protein.”

“Really? Damn, Ra’am…that is…amazing.”

“Yes, another reason I admire them so much. And grizzly bears, as well as black bears, do not lose the number of muscle or skeletal cells, or the size of their muscles or bones, during hibernation. In other words, grizzly bears do not lose any bone mass, and black bears only lose about 23% of their muscle strength during the 3 or 4 month period of hibernation. This is significant,” he said, ducking under a low branch near his head, yet continuing to hold her hand securely, “for NASA.”

“You’re kidding. Why?”

“During periods of confinement and weightlessness, human muscles lose approximately 90% of their strength. Additionally, the quantity of human muscle cells is reduced during this time. As you can determine, your world, with its present state of technology, would find bear hibernation processes highly valuable for long distance, low or nonexistent-gravity space travel. This, however, is not obviously something Harkoav needs to investigate. But it is still highly valuable information, nonetheless.”

“Yeah…that is…pretty interesting.”

Trying to maintain her footing on the muddy, rock-filled soil, a memory suddenly forced itself, something her father told her years ago when she was around 10. She shivered internally. “You know, Ra’am…I don’t want to mess…your enthusiasm…but…”

He looked back at her a moment. “My enthusiasm? About what?”

“About bears, grizzly bears.”

“I have a general idea of where they are. I am not certain, if they did leave the den, since I removed my koaksekhel, but you are safe.”

“I know, but…”


She looked up. He continued to glance back occasionally, seeming curious about her words.

“My father, had a friend…he went to Alaska, like where you said.”

“Kodiak Island?”

“Yeah, I think that’s it. Well, there were three…of them, three men. They got separated, and my father’s friend…was walking…through the woods…he saw some bear tracks, a dead deer…I think…and suddenly, out of like no where…he briefly, for like…a split second…saw a grizzly attacking him…He began to draw…his rifle…but never had time to fire.”

“Yes, like I said, they are very quick.”

“They later…found out, it was a mother bear.”

Trenae then explained, still between breaths, how the bear bit her father’s friend on his shoulder and then knocked him down. Once on the ground, the bear attacked his body. He was able to roll over, to protect his neck. Yet the bear bit and clawed at his buttocks, thighs, even biting his ankle in two, nearly killing him. But since he yelled and screamed, calling out to his friends, they found him and fired upon the bear. The bear got away, nevertheless.

“That is good,” Ra’am said.

“He ended up,” she said “with deep gashes on his face, arms, chest…butt, legs, a broken ankle…even a chunk of flesh missing, from his calf muscle. They were lucky, to get help soon…he should have died…he required surgery, tons of stitches…to fix everything…He lost a lot of blood…but miraculously lived.”

“Very fortunate, he was.”

“Yeah, so…that’s what we could be dealing with.”

“I am aware, Trenae, of all the capabilities for every animal we encounter. You should realize that. Yes, they are unpredictable. Your father’s friend should have carried pepper spray, instead of a firearm, although I doubt he would have had time. They are far too quick.

“But do not worry about these bears,” he said. “I believe, even if they have left their den, they will be lethargic and uninterested in the two of us. And soon, I can place my koaksekhel back on.”

“Well, okay. I’m just…worried.”

“I know. You are a scared little girl.”

She looked up at him. “Yeah, well…I’m not big and strong…like you!”

“I know,” Ra’am said gently, turning back and smiling. “I am sorry.” He started to look around, from left to right. “But I am concerned for L.B. Have you seen him?”

She looked left, down the mountainside. “Last I saw him…he was running down there,” she said, pointing.

“Without me near him, he could be injured by the bears. And there is little I could do then.”

Thinly populated woods, in a snow-covered area, came into view. Like a small plateau, the snowy area caused the trail to flatten, even taking their steps downward a bit. Sun light still shone brilliant and luminous, warming the air more than when they started their hike.

Having reached its lowest area, the trail began to ascend again. Now, a pine-filled area started appearing, similar to the woods they had just left. A narrow stream of rushing clear water abruptly crossed their path. Ra’am, as always, grasped her hand tightly and helped her cross the skinny stream. She turned to the right and noticed the small stream head down the mountain, apparently toward Bend or Hamilton Creek below. Ra’am explained the narrow stream probably resulted from melting snow higher up the mountain, due to the warmer weather.

At any rate, the beautiful scenery couldn’t quell her troubled thoughts. Gory, explicit details of what happened to her father’s friend began to grind around in Trenae’s head, as their walk continuing into the sparse woods. The more she tried not to visualize them, the more they came back and haunted her. She tried desperately to remember Ra’am’s strength, for it had been awhile since last witnessing an example. How he broke the tree, threw a boulder, raced up mountains, displayed his fighting techniques, in a martial arts-like demonstration- those memories she tried concentrating on. Yet could all this be enough to overcome a grizzly attack? Her hand sweated within Ra’am’s tight, warm grip.

Change the subject. “Ra’am?”

“Yes, Trenae?”

“I never told you…that I have a middle name, did I?”

The trail increased its narrowness. Ra’am could barely turn back to look at her now, though he tried. “No, you did not.”

 “This area,” she said loudly, making sure he heard, “with the streams…small water falls…reminded me.”

“Of what?”

“Resica Falls, in Pennsylvania…I was never there…but my father was…he told me, what it looks like…but that’s what he called me…wanted to name me…Resica.”

“That is very pretty, Trenae.”

“Thank you,” she said. He tightened the grip around her hand. A slight aching pain cut  through her lower abdomen as he did so. Great, why is that happening? Sudden fear in her soul couldn’t decide who to fear more, the grizzly or Ra’am. She tried to eye his face, but he still pointed forward. “Do you…have a nick name?” she asked.

“No, I do not.”

“What about Makhraham?”

“No, that is just the name given me as a child. My new name…you know the details.”

“Yes…when I first met Dod…I wanted him to take me away from you…I was so afraid of you.” Shoot. Will that upset him?

“Really?” he said. “I suppose I understand, however.”

Good, he’s calm. “Yeah…but, anyway…he told me, I would be all right…that you were not that bad…once someone got to know you…you were a good friend. He said you were…like the month of March…you came in like a lion…went out like a lamb.”

“He said that?” Ra’am voiced a small chuckle. “Dod, he can be funny.”

Ra’am stopped, turned around, and looked down at her. His fingers began to press and move against her right hand, touching closely. She avoided his face, watching his large, blue-lined hand press, caress her hand, deliberately, coercively, as the time in the taxicab. She lifted her gaze. Although his hand behaved aggressive, his face didn’t show it. He smiled kindly. Maybe I’m just misinterpreting his behavior. Even so, fear enveloped Trenae. She heaved gentle, fast breaths, even more than from their hike.

“Would you like to call me that,” he asked, “as a nick name?”

She swallowed, trying to ease her dry throat. “You mean, call you March?”

“Yes, you may.”

“I guess. It would only be for a short while, since you’re leaving soon.” Though afraid, she suddenly felt sad too. She lowered her head, trying to hide her inner feelings.

Ra’am loosened his hand’s grip, yet still clung to her right hand.

“Yes, that is true,” he said.

She looked up. He was just turning forward. But she caught a glimpse of his face. Sadness frowned his demeanor too.

“I believe the grizzlies’ den is up ahead, maybe higher,” he said. “We still need to climb some elevation. Are you all right?” He began leading her forward.

“I’m okay, but a little hungry.”

“We will stop soon.”

The trail became more and more diminished, with Ra’am leading her onward. Apparently, the deer didn’t travel this far up the mountainside. The air even breathed thinner. More snow, moist soil, and numerous dried, discarded pine needles and cones, and some occasional dried leaves, littered the ground. A few birds could be heard singing their short, melodic tunes here and there throughout the pine trees surrounding them. Trenae listened carefully, trying to walk softly. L.B. had come into view again, romping through the trees below them. Between the sounds of the birds, L.B.’s antics, and their own walking noises, crunching and sloshing wilderness debris, she tried hard to hear any odd, sudden sounds.

Her ears prevailed; from below, farther down the mountain, breaking, crackling dry branches sounded. She jolted. “Did you hear that?” she asked.

“Yes. Any number of animals in the area could have produced that noise.” He continued to climb and lead her along, untroubled by her nervousness.

“Can we let go of our hands? My hand is really sweating.”

“Sure,” he answered, releasing her hand. “But stay near me.”

Somehow, it felt better simply to be near Ra’am, than to have him hold her sweaty hand. Her hand could slow him down or cause her to slip away!

They maintained their walk upward. Although the ascension became less steep than earlier, the trail waxed horizontal more, proceeding in a line across the mountain parallel with Bend Creek far below them. Or at least that’s what she figured. Due to the distance, Trenae could no longer see the creek, or which direction it lay. She looked up. They were still traveling northeastwardly.

After traveling through sparse woods and open areas, like before, they came upon a large clump of pines, uncharacteristically grouped together in a tight knot.

Ra’am stopped, just to the pine clump’s east side. “The den is in there. I could be wrong, without my koaksekhel, but it appears to be the proper elevation and design to attract the hibernation and den instinct of a bear.”

“I hope you’re wrong,” she said, shaking. She walked backwards a bit and held her distance about two yards from him.

Ra’am swung around, far to humanly fast. He lunged forward and grasped her right hand. “I cannot protect you if you move away,” he said, though not angry. “I will have to hold your hand again, for now.”

His inhuman motion shook her even more. But, she felt safer too.

Gently, he pulled her into the thick pine trees. She reluctantly allowed it. Once within the pine cover, Ra’am told her to stay put, by one of the trees.

She watched closely, observing him walk ahead, quietly. Well, she figured, at least I can rest a bit. Her noisy, rapid breathing lessened. That was good, since Ra’am’s backpack made a low thud with each careful step he took. She needed to hear the surroundings. Fortunately, besides Ra’am’s footsteps, her breathing was the only other sound penetrating the nearby air.

Pattering footsteps drew closer. She turned toward the sound.

L.B. suddenly arrived, nudging her legs, trying to jump up and lick her. She dropped down to his height and began petting and caressing his head and upper body, struggling to hold him quiet and near her. L.B.’s foot-stomping prancing was the last thing Ra’am needed now, as he approached the bears’ den. But her ploy worked; a sucker for affection and attention, L.B. soon calmed down.

Still holding L.B., she looked up, down the path Ra’am took. Shock hit. Ra’am wasn’t in view anymore! That’s great. He tells me to be near him, and now he’s gone! She embraced L.B. closer to her body, for both their comfort, at the same time searching all around, trying to observe any unusual motion. But for the time, everything looked tranquil. And no unusual sounds.

Movement stirred. She looked forward, in its direction. Ra’am was rushing back. It felt like he had been gone for hours. Relief poured down her body.

“I have found their den,” he said, once near. “But they are not in it.”

She gently released L.B. and shot up. “No way! They’re supposed to be hibernating!”

“I was hoping to have this done by now, an easy task. Hemoom prodoh would have covered them quickly and easily as they slept.” He gazed to his right and became quiet.

“So, what do we do now?”

Ra’am didn’t answer. Then, he turned and looked down at her. “We should find an open area, at a higher elevation, and stop. There, I can put on my koaksekhel. I am suspecting something is wrong with the bears, possibly a hunter interfering and leaving poisoned bait to draw them out, into an opening, so they can thereby shoot them.”

“They do that? Isn’t that illegal?”

“It depends- for grizzlies, yes…The bears could be anywhere. However, their tracks did appear to lead down the mountain. The warm temperatures and melting snow could have awakened the bears. They may merely be at lower elevations now, searching for fresh water and various vegetation to cleanse their kidneys. Or maybe some winter kill to eat. Once my koaksekhel is on, we can determine what to do.”

“Okay, if that’s what you think,” she said, gently shrugging in agreement.

“And I am holding your hand again,” he said, his large left hand gracefully capturing her right hand. At the same time, he walked around and past her, tugging her gently. She turned and followed him, thankful to leave the frightening, dark stand of pine trees behind.

L.B. began running ahead of them, while Ra’am led the way.

Ra’am turned left, up the mountain. A long, wide clearing existed ahead, covered by masses of melting, slushy snow. Trenae felt a little wetness penetrated her boots with each step she took. Also with each step, she noticed the slope of the incline increase. Though her breathing picked up, like before, when they talked about her father and grizzlies, she realized her aerobic conditioning was far better than when first meeting Ra’am, a tribute to their daily hikes together.

More rocks appeared under her feet with each inclining step too, while, when she looked around, the number of trees to the right and left sides of the clearing diminished slightly. But she maintained her footing with ease, thanks to Ra’am’s hand grasp.

L.B. ran to their right, up the mountain, his nose searching the ground.

After covering some distance, Ra’am began to search, on his left. She followed his line of sight and saw a flat, snow-less clearing between some pine trees. Curiosity then emerged. She turned back to see where they had been. A lengthy stream of footsteps imprinted the wet snow. Roughly calculating, she figured they had traveled about 100- 150 feet up the long, wide treeless expanse. Quite a hike!

Just as they turned left toward the snow-less clearing, Trenae caught sight of a few mountain goats farther up the treeless expanse. She quickly told Ra’am. And sure enough, just as they both suspected, L.B. went galloping up the mountain, after the innocent, unsuspecting mountain inhabitants.

“Were you afraid, when I left you alone?” Ra’am asked, walking with her.

She looked up at him, struggling to capture her breath. “Yes…I was…Why?”

He stopped. They now stood in the snow-less clearing. He turned, and looked down at her. “I apologize,” he said. “I did what I thought was best.”

“I know…you did. You always…do.” She gave a smile between breaths. Then she leaned over and placed her hands on her knees for a moment, trying to slow her breathing.

When she looked up, she saw a large rock on the right side of the clearing, where the clearing’s edge began to ascend up the mountainside. Ra’am walked over to it. He removed his backpack.

“Hey…can I…eat something?” she asked. “I’m starving.” She followed him to the rock and stood behind him, her back facing the clearing’s other side, toward the mountain’s decline. Actually, glancing around, she noticed they stood on a sort of flat oasis, of the steep mountainside.

Ra’am placed the backpack on the rock and kneeled down to unzip it. At the same time, he turned and looked up at her. “No, not right now,” he said. “The scent may attract the bears. I need my koaksekhel on first.”

He stood up, faced toward her, and then sat down on the rock, holding the backpack. “I believe this will be easier, since I can use my knees for support as I put it on.”

“Can I help you?” she asked. “Do you want me to do something?”

He smiled at her. “No, I can do it.”

Trenae heard noise. She looked up. L.B. ran through the trees, far up the slope ahead of her. She smiled and laughed a little. Ra’am turned back, seizing a glance too. Then he turned forward and looked up at her. They said nothing to each other, simply laughing a little.

Keeping his eyes on her, Ra’am carefully, progressively pulled his koaksekhel from the backpack. She stared at him for a moment, but then concentrated her attention back on the crazy Golden Retriever, in the  faraway evergreen scenery. Hearing him bark occasionally, she wondered just how close he had come to the wild goats.

Her ears became flooded and confused by two sounds. Sure, L.B. was barking, but a second sound, a thundering noise, increased, felt closer, louder. She quickly looked at Ra’am.

For a brief moment, she captured an intense, wide-eyed expression on Ra’am’s face, his gaze staring to her right, beyond her back. But it was only a camera flash. Distant thunderclaps became powerful pounding, roaring sounds, like a tractor-trailer truck crashing toward her back.

Ra’am launched off the rock, in her direction. 

She felt herself tugged, thrown to the ground. Moist soil and small stones shoved themselves into the right side of her mouth. Paralyzed by the impact, she wanted to cry out from pain, as injuries throbbed her front body and face, but couldn’t. WHIP! SNAP, SPLATTER! Horrible sounds! Red droplets sprinkled near her eyes. A large red glob landed several inches from her face. Sounds of two large clumps falling hard, to the ground, jolted her ears. Their vibration impact slammed through her body.

Confusion shocked her. Trenae’s first impulse was to rise up slowly. But next, right away, she thought of Ra’am. She had to see him. Doing a push-up, she lifted her body and turned left. With one swift movement, she rolled onto her rear end and sat up. Pain tormented, but she could only think of him. “RA’AM!” she shrieked. Where is he? Her vision was blurry, disoriented.

Yet soon, Ra’am’s image registered within her eyes and mind.

Ra’am straightened himself, with his back toward her and his right arm drenched in blood. A huge semi-circle of redness covered most of the right side of his blue tee shirt, on his torso. He looked toward his right, at a large tan and brown lump of fur, blood, and shredded innards lying near a tree. But then he turned and looked at her.

“Trenae!” He ran over and knelt down near her. “Are you all right?” he asked, touching and searching over both her arms with his left hand. Done with her arms, he caressed her face. “Does your face hurt?” 

She saw true concern, with his face so close. His eyes were wide open. “What…happened?” she asked slowly, her mind numb.

“You are bleeding, by your mouth and forehead,” he said. “Show me where your face hit the ground.”

He released her face. Slowly, she turned around, twisting her back a bit. Blood soiled the ground everywhere. Yet she knew it wasn’t all her blood. Using her right hand, she pointed to the ground where she believed her face landed.

He leaned downward, studying the small area. “There are no large rocks, just small pebbles,” he said. “Are you able to stand?”

“I think so.”

“I only want to touch you with my left hand.”

She stared at his right arm. “Yeah, I know,” she said, nearly crying. “It’s covered in blood. Are you okay?”

“Take both your hands, hold my hand,” he said, not answering, placing his hand out. She quickly grasped him with both her hands. He carefully lifted her up.

Pain made itself known in several areas of Trenae’s body. “Oh shoot, I’m hurt. My…my ankle is twisted, I think. And…and,” she said, crying a little.

“Yes, what is it?” he asked quickly, concerned.

She looked up at him. She released his hand, attempting to stand on her own. “My breasts hurt. I fell on them. Why did you force me down?”

Not hesitating, Ra’am began unzipping her jacket. He appeared in a hurry, interested in examining her condition. Once unzipped, he began to open both sides of the jacket.

No way buddy, she thought. Though her breasts probably needed to be checked, she grasped both sides of her jacket and pulled them closed, resisting Ra’am’s intent. She looked up at him. “I don’t think you can do anything for them. Besides, I have a bra on,” she said. “They’re probably just bruised.”

“Yes, all right,” he said, lowering his hands. “I will give you some tse makh yerape soon.”

“That will help,” she said softly. She looked up at him. Ra’am’s eyes were sad. “Tell me please,” she asked, “are you okay? Are you injured?”

“Never mind me. Can you walk? Let me help you.” He held out his left hand again and she took hold of it. He proceeded walking forward, gingerly leading her toward the snow covered clearing incline they had previously climbed.

Her right ankle ached in pain. “Ow,” she said, bending over a little.

“Do you want me to carry you?” he asked. He stopped walking.

With light touches, she tested it again, lifting and then placing her weight upon the injured ankle several times, all while holding Ra’am’s hand. Yes, it hurt, but she could still move. “I can walk, with your help. Where are we going?”

“I need the snow, to wash my arm. I must place the koaksekhel back on, right away.” He led her forward again, taking care for her injured ankle. “I will then use my jacket to dry the area. We need to know where the other grizzly is, now. I do not want to kill another one.”

Alarm jabbed her soul. “What? You killed it?” She stared up at him.

“Yes. I was certain I could protect you, without harming the bears. I was wrong.”

“Then the blood, on your arm…you’re okay?”

“Yes, I am fine. She was coming right at you, for your head and neck. I had to act quickly, decisively. I had no choice. Sorry I toppled you like that. There was no time.”

“No, believe me, you did the right thing,” she said, feeling very relieved. “I told you they were dangerous.”

“Yes, I understand.”

Ra’am brought them into the clearing. He quickly, yet cautiously led Trenae to the nearest tree by the clearing’s entrance, commanding her to hold on. She did. Ra’am then lunged over, not far from her, and grabbed large chunks of wet snow. He began cleaning blood off his right arm, and then his other arm, his hands, and other parts of his shirt and body, of which he could.

“Trenae, do you see or hear L.B. anywhere?” he asked, appearing finished. He began standing erect.

She looked around and listened. “No, I don’t see or hear him.”

Ra’am ignored her answer, walking over and taking both her hands from the tree. Eyeing his body quickly, not one injury could she observe on either of his arms. He leaned over and wrapped his arms around her back and behind her legs, picking her up. “Sorry, but I need to hurry,” he said, glancing in her face. She felt surprised. His gaze turned away and looked straight ahead, toward the rock and backpack.

In a moment, they were by the rock again. Lifting the backpack with one of his hands, while still holding her securely with the other, he gently sat her on the rock. “Can you hold the back pack for me?” he asked, his words coming fast.

“Yes, sure. Go ahead, hurry.”

He placed the backpack on her lap and meticulously, yet hurriedly, removed the rest of the jacket-wrapped koaksekhel.

“You’re damn lucky it wasn’t completely removed,” she said, “or halfway on your arm, when the bear attacked.”

“Yes, you are right.” He unwrapped the koaksekhel and lifted it. After quickly checking the meekpa bahmee, he placed it over his right arm.

“Is it damaged?” she asked. “Did we step on it or did it hit something?”

“I will know shortly, but its proodat t’notah systems are generally exceptionally durable.” Ra’am placed it on. He looked into Trenae’s face, from his kneeling position on the ground in front of her. “It is good, dry. L.B. is far up the mountain, behind you. And the other bear, the adolescent cub, is not far from us, down the mountain. We do not have much time.”

He stood up.

“What are you doing now?” she asked.

He glanced left, at the apparent dead bear parts. Then he looked down at her. “I need…I need to evaporate the remains.”

Something felt wrong. A distraught expression covered his face that she had never seen before. “Can I help?” she asked.

“No, wait here.”

Ra’am began walking toward a large, brown, bloodied fur lump. Estimating, she figured it lay 20 feet away. How that part of the bear, apparently the largest part of the bear, got from where she stood, in front of the rock, to over there, boggled her mind.

Just as he arrived near the furry, bloody lump, the thing began to twitch and shake, as if still alive. Yet Ra’am showed no fear or disgust. He slowly kneeled down on his feet, near its side. Blood trickled, then pooled around Ra’am’s feet. Though mostly observing his back side, she did, however, have a partial view of his left profile. She noticed he lowered his head. His hair strands, tied back by the silver band, could not conceal what he did next; he brought his left hand near his lower forehead, seeming to hide his face.

Although she wasn’t sure, given the distance between them, she thought Ra’am also trembled a little. Wow, unusual. She remembered his words earlier, about the grizzly bear being his favorite animal. Did he really like the animal that much?

She placed the backpack on the ground and slowly arose from the rock. Her ankle still ached, but she forced herself to walk regardless, watching for small rocks and pinecones on the ground, hobbling her way across the blood stained, mountain soil and debris.

She stood near Ra’am. He remained on the ground, kneeling. Now she could see clearly, the extent of Ra’am’s violent, horrible blood bath. The bear’s head was gone. Looking beyond Ra’am and the huge, shuddering carcass, she saw a long trail of blood, sprinkled by small bits of hair and flesh, maybe 30 feet away, ultimately leading to the bear’s head. Creepily, the bear’s mouth extended open, laying on its side, blood and its tongue pouring onto the soil, making the head a mishmash of brown and dark red. Her stomach hurt. No! Turn, look back!

Ra’am continued leaning over, toward the ground. Her eyes caught movement. Near his feet, the grotesque, twitching brown lump pumped blood at the neck, in a rhythmic manner, as from a yet beating heart, while a bloody, white and gray small stump, 3 or 4 inches in diameter, protruded angrily from where the head should be. Not a better view.

Dizziness hit, besides nauseousness, and tremendous awe. “How could you do this?” she asked, focusing on Ra’am’s nearly hidden face

“I did not…mean it to happen.” His voice came timid, inaudible.

 “No, I mean, how could you physically do it?”

He kept his head down. “Both my arms, went…one, like a sharp sickle, the other, like a battering log, punching. It was fast.”

She started leaning down, to comfort him, but then stopped; Ra’am stood up. She looked up at his face. His expression continued to baffle her. He even seemed embarrassed. “I must bring the head over,” he said. “This beautiful creature does not deserve to die like this.”

He walked toward the bear’s head. Taking a few steps to follow him, she studied the bear some more. Powerful described the yet twitching, blood-pumping body. Huge legs. Enormous paws, with long, black claws. Disturbing more so, she noticed a bloodied puncture hole on the bear’s right side, apparently its shoulder. White and red broken bone and bone particles protruded from the deep hole. A completely destroyed mess was the bear.

But most alarming of all was the incredible physical capability this alien being possessed, to have done such damage. For a long time, most of the 21/2 months she had spent living with him, Trenae unwittingly attributed the majority of his power, adroitness, and physical abilities to the koaksekhel. Now, however, she knew otherwise. A chill snaked through her body.

She walked on. Blood was everywhere. Even when she looked up, blood, as well as small and large lumps of fur covered flesh, covered nearby tree branches. A blood trail led to the bear’s head. Her steps became even more tedious, her step trying to avoid the blood trail, blood pools, or an object that could injure her ankle further, all at the same time.

However, she never completed her small trek; Ra’am reverently lifted the bear’s large head with both his hands and began walking back to the bear’s body.

Walking past her, his eyes stared emotionless. “You did not need to follow me,” he said. “You should sit down.”

“But,” she said, turning, “but I wanted to make sure…that…”

Ra’am neared the bear’s body. His back faced Trenae. Slowly, he kneeled down. She began hobbling back to him.

She arrived. She observed the bear’s head near its neck, where it belonged. The scene, of both the loving, caring placement of the bear’s head and Ra’am’s sorrowful behavior, as he leaned over holding his face once more touched her heart. She lowered her knees down, being careful of her injured ankle, and positioned herself to the bear’s right. Ra’am kneeled near the bear’s head. Her ankle hurt, but she didn’t care.

Ra’am removed one hand from his forehead, placing it on his knees. But at the same time, he seemed to cover his eyes more with his right hand, lowering the hand so only his knuckles and fingers could be viewed, but not his eyes.

“Ra’am, are you okay?” she asked softly.

He didn’t answer, but only mumbled something inaudible. Yet she could decipher some of his words- “But to never welcome another day, to witness your star’s morning light…and…”

“Ra’am, please, are you all right?” she asked again, nearly whispering.

“I could never let anything happen to you. I had no choice,” he said. “Her mouth was open, she was about to bite your neck and head.”

She noticed Ra’am’s hand trembled. Like the trembling seen earlier, when he first knelt by the bear, this was very unusual for him.

“I know, thank you,” she said quietly. “You saved my life again.”

He didn’t respond. Silence.

Trenae placed both her hands on her right knee and rubbed them together gently. She was getting colder. “I don’t mean to seem insensitive, but it’s only a bear, Ra’am. I know you really like them, but, they are very dangerous.”

“Dangerous to humans, not to me,” he said. “This never should have happened.” He continued to keep his face hidden. “I never should have allowed myself to place the koaksekhel on, without thorough drying.” Anger tainted his words. “A mistake like I made today, could cost hundreds of lives in a battle. Foolish, foolish of me!”

“Is that why you’re upset? I won’t tell anyone, they’ll never know.”

“No, that is not why.”

“Then, what is it? We can find another bear…if you--”

“No, you do not understand,” he said. Ra’am lifted his head and removed his right hand from his forehead. No, she thought. From both corners of his eyes, a stream of clear liquid flowed down his geed’aso lined cheeks. He placed his hand on his knee. “You do not understand.”

“Oh my God…you’re crying,” she said, shocked.

He quickly brushed off the streams of liquid with his right hand. Yet, he continued staring at her.

“I…I didn’t know you cried,” she said gently. She brought her right hand toward his face, even allowing one of her knees to drop to the bloody ground for balance. Again, she didn’t care. And she didn’t hesitate. She grazed Ra’am’s face with her fingertips, first feeling the area around his left eye, and then lightly touching other areas of his facial skin where she remembered seeing the thin streams. Yes, the areas felt moist, wet. But she didn’t need to check further; tears suddenly poured freely from the side corners of Ra’am’s eyes. He blinked his eyes, hoping to stop them. Her heart broke for him, noticing he tried desperately to stare stoically, emotionlessly into her eyes. His eyes wanted to appear powerful, in control, like always, but the tears denied him this.

“Oh, Ra’am,” Trenae said, tears forming in her own eyes. She bravely lifted her other hand and caressed Ra’am’s right cheek. Carefully, tenderly, she stroked his face. “I’m sorry,” she said. Her eyes kept on him, her head tilting a little, while she yet touched his face.

Ra’am encircled his hands around her wrists and forearms, holding her softly, her fingertips still touching his skin. Though she expected him to take her arms away, he didn’t. Their tearful, sad eyes locked together, as both their affectionate behaviors continued.

Yet she realized something, breaking the moment a little. “You really are trembling. I thought…your muscles didn’t shake,” she said, her words breaking between light, crying sobs. She tried to smile; a fragile smile came. Tears flowing down her cheeks, she knew he could see them. But she didn’t care. Her body trembled too, like Ra’am.

An intense desire to embrace Ra’am tightly seized Trenae. But she abstained.

“When we are sad or upset…we can cry and shake, like humans do,” he said. Though his eyes cried, his voice didn’t show it. He stared into her eyes, tears still streaming brazenly down his face.

Trenae couldn’t remove her compassionate gaze from his stare. For a moment, their souls connected and flowed, from her eyes to his eyes, from his eyes to her eyes. She felt at one with him.

Ra’am tightened the grip on both her arms. Concern and urgency marred his handsome face. “We have to stand up,” he said quickly. “The other grizzly bear is near.”

She removed her hands from his face. In turn, Ra’am released his grip from her forearms, yet took hold of both her hands. He helped her up.

From up the mountain, behind Ra’am, a ruffling of leaves, pine needles, and underbrush sounded. She turned right and saw a golden dog rush through the trees. “It’s L.B.!” she said.

Ra’am turned his head. L.B. made a beeline for the dead bear and ended up near Ra’am’s right, by his blood-covered boots. The curious dog sniffed and pawed at the bear’s head. Ra’am turned back and stared down at Trenae. He still grasped her hands. “L.B. is very fortunate,” he said. “But now, I hope he will be again.”

“Huh? What do you mean?” 

He didn’t answer.

Ra’am scuttled her away from the dead bear and closer to the large rock, where their backpack lay on the ground. Then, he drew her close to his body. She placed her hands on his lower stomach, on his blue shirt. Right away, scents and feels of blood reeked around him. Dark, red wetness made her hands feel colder.

“L.B.! Come here boy!” Ra’am called out, his tone low. She turned back, to her left, seeing L.B. Without too much hesitation, L.B. bounded over. “Stay, L.B., stay!” Ra’am said. “Trenae, can you hold him?”

Obeying his words, she slinked down Ra’am’s front, turning to her left, until L.B.’s collar came in reach. But just the moment she grabbed the collar, L.B. jerked his head back, directly toward the ascending mountainside and to the left of the dead bear. She followed his sight line. There, speeding at them like a shooting cannon ball, charged another grizzly bear. Though a little smaller, it charged fearless, blindly nonetheless.

Trenae squeezed her eyes shut and clung with all her might to L.B.’s collar. At the same second, she heard Ra’am encircled them with hemoom prodoh.

Thundering sounds. Then, other sounds. “RAAAACCCCSHH! THUD!” 

She opened her eyes. The bear’s head hit first, followed by a hard impact of his back against the immovable, clear shield. His head dove to the ground, the rest of his enormous weight squashing on top. Yet the bear quickly rolled over and stood up again, apparently unhurt and unfinished. L.B. barked and growled at the savage animal.

Backing away a little, the bear then began clawing the ground, tearing up bloodied, wet soil and forest debris. He growled and woofed at them. He readied himself, and then charged again. SLAM!

Terror overcame her. She screamed. Her threshold for trauma had been reached; she squeezed her eyes shut again and clenched her fragile body into a shivering statue.

Ra’am’s hands caressed her shoulders. He began tugging her up, lifting her to a standing position. She didn’t fight him. Once she stood, Ra’am turned her, placing her front body next to his body. His strong then arms wrapped around her back, pulling her close, very close. At first, it didn’t register. She continued to keep hers eyes sealed shut.

SLAM! THUD! Another hit came against the immovable hemoom prodoh sphere, and a crash to the ground afterwards. The bear was relentless.

She opened her eyes. Her face was turned left. L.B. started barking again, filling the sphere with a sound far too great in volume for its small space.

And then it occurred to Trenae; her body pressed against Ra’am. With her shorter height, her face laid by his lower chest and upper abdomen. His powerful heart thumped so near.

Every breath she took, she felt her body heave against his body. Even though her face felt damp from blood on his shirt, and the blood’s iron scent reeked strongly, it didn’t matter. And even though the scrapes by her mouth and forehead stung from being pressed and dampened with the bear’s blood, and her injured breasts throbbed, she forced the pain away. Ra’am now protected her from the fear she was experiencing. His large hands rubbed her back gently, firmly.

And then she realized where her own arms lay; they lay at her sides. Little by little, she moved them up, brushing her fingertips along the sides of Ra’am’s thighs, his hips, his torso, as she did so.

“WAAAARRRSSSSK!” the bear roared. SLAM! Hearing the bear fall to the ground, Trenae let out a quick yelp. Emotions raced around her mind and body like wild wind now. She thrust her arms up and tried wrapping them around Ra’am’s back, pulling herself even closer to his warm, strong body. However, with his wide girth, around his abdomen, her arms came to rest more near the outer sides of his back. Nevertheless, without a second thought, she started to run her hands up and down her strong friend’s body, as he likewise was doing to her. That sharp, aching pain cut through her body like never before.

“Trenae, are you all right?” Ra’am spoke loudly, yet calmly.  She could hear him, though it was difficult with L.B.’s barking and growling, and the noise from the bear. Ra’am still stroked his hands over her back. It felt so good. She couldn’t answer. Her only thoughts lay in touching and holding him. Time and place began to disappear.

“This bear…is nearly 3 years old,” Ra’am said, his tone slow, deep. “Uncommon, but possible.” His voice sounded so far, far away. Was he talking to her? “Something, has agitated these bears. Their strength and power, for animals just ending hibernation, is uncommon.”

She kept on hugging and caressing his body. Yet she snapped out of her intense pleasure for a moment, turning around to see the bear. The animal persisted to attack them. L.B. occasionally slammed into both her and Ra’am’s legs, with his jumps up, his barks at the bear. Each animal seemed to irritate the other.

She turned her head back against Ra’am, pressing her face against his powerful stomach muscles, his lower chest. Blood on his shirt no longer existed in her mind. In slow, soft motion, she glided her hands first down near his lower back, almost on his buttocks, and then brought them up, gently and deliberately. At the same time, Ra’am stroked his hands on her back, although he politely kept them on her upper back.

“Trenae,” he said, “please, tell me. Are you all right?” 

That disturbing memory came again; she remembered their intimate moment after the core trip, and Ra’am's troubling, antagonistic behavior. Maybe I need to back off a bit.

She removed her hands from his back and instead placed them on his abdomen. She began pushing away from him. No! Fear sliced through her body; this time, she wasn’t going anywhere. Ra’am locked his grip around her body. He wasn’t letting her go. Severe stabs of that throbbing, aching, yet pleasurable pain plunged ruthlessly into her lower body. Trenae moaned and closed her eyes. There’s no choice now, she realized. Remember, in the New York taxi. There’s nothing you can do. With trepidation, yet intense pleasure, she wrapped her arms around him again, pulling her body close.

“Trenae, talk to me,” he said deeply, enticingly. He ignored her attempt to push away from him. His grip grew tighter and tighter around her small body. Is he attempting to hold me closer, or seductively force me to answer him? One of his hands continued to stroke her back and his other strong arm sealed their embrace.

Her breathing became weak and shallow. “Mmm, I don’t know,” she said, her voice breathless. She felt even more faint and dizzy than before. Keeping her eyes shut, she clung tighter to his body.

“I am going to transport the bear to a different location, preferably north of Selway River, near Big Rock Mountain,” he said. “It appears unpopulated there.”

Ra’am began loosening his grip on her body, removing both his arms from her back. She felt him do something with his koaksekhel. Becoming curious, she turned around, to her left. Besides, she reasoned, without his arms persuading their embrace, it was best.

But once almost around, her back against Ra’am’s front, the bear lunged again. Only this time, she could view its eyes clearly. They were yellow, with dark, emotionless pupils, seeming full of evil intent. It was a bear gone crazy.

She let out quick squeal and spun around, resting her hands and face on Ra’am’s body.

“Trenae, wait, turn around,” he said quickly. “I want you to observe this.”

Hearing the kind urgency in his voice, she complied, turning.

Her attention focused on his koaksekhel at first, just at her eye level, avoiding the bear. Yet her gaze became distracted, forced toward an area of bending and swirling air outside the hemoom prodoh sphere, just to her left, the bear’s right. She watched more closely and could see it wasn’t swirling air, but instead a bending and twisting of dimension, since objects beyond the twisting phenomenon, in the far distance, were distorted. Objects were shortened, extended, or taken apart in sections, like looking through a large chunk of clear glass. In seconds, the phenomenon took on the shape of a small, horizontal tornado, maybe only 4 feet in length, with the vortex pointing toward the snow clearing, on the left, and the mouth of the small tornado facing the bear, on the right.

The bear behaved disoriented and frightened, its fur being pulled toward the phenomenon, much as a magnet tugs on iron shavings. And then, magically, after a flash of bright light, the bear vanished.

“What the hell was that?” she asked, startled.

“It is rather experimental for our technology,” he said. “I would never use it on humans.”

“Is the bear okay?”

“Yes. I will show you. It was simply a smaller, different version of Meenhar Tovalah, and can be used to transport cargo and animals minor distances. Minor, in universe terms. See, obverse.” He lowered his right arm a little. The thin doorway on the koaksekhel opened, an image appearing above the doorway.

Trenae wanted to caress his right forearm, hold him kindly, yet she resisted. Never should she be too pushy or assertive with this dangerous being.

In the image, the bear materialized, his frazzled, disoriented body lumbering through snow and pine covered mountainous terrain similar to their location. She watched closely. A hand touched her left shoulder. She shivered, then quickly knew it was Ra’am, and tried relaxing. Ra’am’s large, warm hand began moving, sliding from the top edge of her small shoulder down her arm, to her elbow, smoothing the material of her jacket. He then began gliding his hand up her arm, halting his movement midway, wrapping his fingers around her upper arm. His behavior moved quiet, shy, as though not wanting to make his conduct obvious. That aching abdomen pain cut inside her again. His apparent sweet shyness along with that pain made Trenae’s eyes water and her breaths pass rapidly. The image of the bear and his troubles faded from her mind.

“Trenae,” he asked, “are you sure…you are all right?”

She closed her eyes. Ra’am began stroking her arm once more, pausing briefly to grasp her upper arm and pull her close to him. No, I’m not all right. Give me a break, and you’re the cause! But she had to answer. “I feel, a little dizzy and weak. I guess all this excitement, from the bear.”

Darn. Those weren’t the words I really wanted to say! What’s happening here?

But her concerns dissipated. Ra’am removed his hand from her and touched a few buttons on his koaksekhel. She opened her eyes. Their hemoom prodoh sphere dissolved and darted itself back into the koaksekhel’s opening, dizzying to observe.

With it gone, L.B. sprinted off toward the dead grizzly bear. Ra’am carefully stepped sideways from behind her, yet at the same time grasping her right hand into his left hand.

She looked up at him. Their eyes met. “Can you walk with me?” he asked.

“Yes, I think.”

“We still need to take care of the bear.”

Carefully leading her limping gait, Ra’am brought them to the bear remains. He stood before the now motionless carcass, not saying a word. She looked up at him, but then looked down. L.B. growled, sniffed, and pawed at the dead animal.

“I want to say a prayer,” Ra’am said, breaking his silence. “To ask God for forgiveness and to guide us away from misfortune in the future.”

She looked up at him again. His eyes were closed. Leaning her head down, she did the same. Peacefully, admiringly, she listened, as Ra’am recited a poetic-like prayer in his native Ra’yonah language.

When finished, Ra’am asked her to step back about three feet from where they stood. He held her hand until she reached the required distance. He called L.B. to his side. Once L.B. came near, Ra’am shot hemoom prodoh forth from his koaksekhel. The clear substance zoomed over and around, encasing the entire bear.

In a split second, the bear disappeared without a trace. No smell, no smoke or fire, nothing. Even blood surrounding the bear had vanished…



…“Ra’am told me it was some sort of atomic, molecular disintegration.”

“Weird,” Jenny said.

“Yeah, exactly. I think after that, Ra’am let go of my hand, after he checked to see if I was all right--”

“Were you all right?”

“Yeah, my ankle hurt a little. The other pains were still there, but I had other thoughts,  and couldn’t think about the pain.”

“What do you mean?” Jenny asked with a smile.

“Well, after Ra’am let go of me and picked up the back pack, he asked if I wanted to eat now. I was like, thinking, are you insane? I mean, food was the farthest thing from my mind then! He said okay, we could wait. He was still concerned about the bear’s behavior, although he didn’t detect the presence of any chemicals or poisons in their systems.”

“Was he still upset, about the bear that he killed?”

“Maybe, not really. He didn’t seem to be. But I couldn’t forget…his reaction.”

“You mean because he cried?”

“Yes, it hit me hard,” Trenae said quietly, looking down. She lifted her head and looked straight ahead, toward the dark, eastern horizon of Boise. She looked back at Jenny. “Before he put the back pack on, he took his blue shirt off and put it on the ground, next to his jacket. He used his koaksekhel to put hemoom prodoh on the two clothing things, and then the blood disappeared from them, just like the blood on the ground by the dead bear.”


 “He even quickly used it on my jacket and shirt, since some blood got on me too, you know, when I was on the ground and when I leaned against him…even my face, hands, and hair. It felt weird, on my skin, but didn’t hurt, just sort of tugged or tickled. Nothing bad. And then afterwards, he put just his shirt on, held his jacket. I think I told him again I was sorry about the bear, something like that. But he seemed more interested in walking up the mountain, behind the rock he sat on. He said there was a dead mountain goat he wanted to check out. We weren’t sure if L.B. had done it or not. So, he took my hand again.”

Trenae stopped talking and looked down. The next moments would be difficult.

“And…what happened?”

Lifting her head, she turned left, toward Jenny. Jenny smiled. But then she saw Trenae’s troubled expressions. A serious demeanor covered Jenny. 

“What’s the matter, Trenae?”

Trenae forced a brief smile. “Can we speak off the record?”

Jenny picked up the recorder and turned it off. Her face remained serious. “Absolutely,” she said. “Is there something bothering you?”

“Yes. I think…I mean, I feel comfortable with you, enough to tell you this. No one else knows, except for me. Can I share it with you, you think?”

Jenny leaned closer. “Yes, sure. Like last night, what you told me. No problem. ”

“Well…you know, Ra’am and I weren’t close that much, except when he held my hand or lifted me.”

“Yes, that’s what you said.”

“You see, except for that first night, when he held me…nothing was like the embrace he gave me when the bear attacked. You see, after he took my hand again and we started walking up the mountain, I told him to let go. I could walk all right then anyway. But the real reason…I wanted to see if that achy feeling I got, was from him or me.”

“You mean that stabbing pain in your abdomen?”

 “Yes. I had to know for sure, no doubt. And as he walked away, and I thought about everything we just went through…and how this was the fourth time he helped me, saved my life, things got, well…” Trenae looked down. Emotions she felt that day came pouring back, making her relive the moment. Her eyes watered a bit, but she inhaled a deep breath, making them stop. “I felt that feeling. Just like I knew, all along.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I saw him cry, for the bear, it was as though I had seen inside him a little. Yeah, I had always known he was basically a good alien being, though with a dark side, but this…” She looked at Jenny. “I guess you could say, I had seen how his heart truly was. And so, when I thought of him, I felt that ache again. Then I realized…it was me all along, every time. I was in love with him.”

Jenny smiled softly. “I knew it,” she whispered.

Trenae smiled too. But then she looked down and became solemn. “And I don’t mean a flighty infatuation, or some lustful thing, because of his looks, strength, or his body. I mean, this was really strong, honest love. No one had ever cared so much for me, done so much for me. And yet, it was the worse thing that could happen to me!”

“Worse? How?”

She looked at Jenny with widened, intense eyes. “Because he was an alien! He wasn’t human, and, and, he had that horrible ta’are ekhsakar, and was unpredictable, with a temper, and he was brutally strong. Who on earth could have done what he did to that bear?”

“No one.”

“I know! And yes, I was female, and he was male, but we weren’t the same! We were…two different species! But…I was in love with him. Madly in love. And suddenly, as I followed him, I started to get very weak. There was a battle going on inside.”

“A battle?”

“Yeah, a battle between my heart and my mind” She looked down. “Corny, I know, but…My mind said no, are you crazy? He’s an alien! He’s from another planet! But my heart, didn’t care. It wanted him more than anything, whether he was leaving earth or not, whether he was alien or not, whatever. My heart had to have him.

“And so I struggled within, as we walked up the mountain. Then at one point, Ra’am told me to wait by this tree, because the animal he detected was nearby. He just wanted to make sure everything was all right, or something like that. I can’t remember right, because I was so upset.

“But anyway, while he was gone, I held onto the tree. The battle was really bad now. But finally…well, I started crying. I remember grabbing my hair ties, throwing them down, cause my head hurt so much, from the crying, from everything. Then I held the tree tightly, because I was starting to fall…I felt like such a fool.”

“You were that bad?”

“Yeah, my legs were shaking. You see, my heart had won. I couldn’t fight it anymore…Unfortunately, Ra’am saw me. I heard him, before I saw him, since he was running down between the trees. I looked up at him…



… “Trenae, are you hurt?”

Embarrassed, that’s what. She hung her head down, next to the tree, and wiped her eyes. “No, I’m okay.” She spoke between soft cries, her voice quavering.

Ra’am leaned over, placed his hand on her upper back, and looked into her nearly hidden face. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” But her hands trembled noticeably on the tree.

“Then what is wrong?” His eyes were penetrating, inquisitive.

Looking away from him, up the hill, she inhaled a great deep breath and pulled herself up, straightening. “There’s something I need to tell you,” she said emotionlessly.

“There is a broken log lying on its side, up the mountain a ways,” he said. “We can talk there.”

Ra’am gently plucked her hands from the tree and softly pushed her backwards, into his right arm. She could feel his koaksekhel against her back, while his left forearm scooped under her knees and lifted her off the ground. She closed her eyes. They were traveling up. After some seconds, she felt Ra’am placed her on a log, so she was sitting. Then she heard him remove his backpack, place them down on the ground behind them, and finally sit down, on her right.

Trenae opened her eyes and turned to see him. Surprise struck at first, since they were nearly at the same eye level, unusual considering their height difference. Gazing down and feeling with her fingers, she noticed the dry, branchless fallen pine tree they sat upon flared up near her end, as she sat closer to the tree’s base or root system. Ra’am, in contrast was sitting lower than her, since the tree tapered to a narrower trunk closer to its end. She sat with her feet flat on the ground and her knees slightly bent, while Ra’am, with his tall stature, looked rather awkward, his jean-covered knees bent upright quite a bit.

Yet that was all unimportant now. She ignored the scenery and struggled to calm down, to muster enough courage and explain what was screaming in her heart.

Ra’am stared intently at her. His hands loosely grasped his knees. “Trenae, what do you need to tell me?” he asked. “Is it from the bear, are you still frightened?”

She shook her head slowly, staring into his eyes. “No…that’s not it.” Inhaling a deep breath, she tried flowing the fresh pine air through her entire body. Relax, relax. But it was hard. His eyes stared so dark. “I’m…just going to say it quick, or else I’ll never say it.”

Trenae kept her stare locked on his eyes, knowing if she looked away, her courage would fade. She readied herself, and then let it go. “Ra’am, I’ve fallen madly in love with you, and, I know you’re an ometvah, and I’m a human, and…and I know…” She yet forced her stare into his eyes. Ra’am’s eyes burned intensely, but she had to keep looking. Her own eyes started tearing. “…I know…you’re leaving soon, but, I can’t…help this.” She shook her head gently. “And I know I’m human, and you’re ometvah, but…I love you so much…”

That was all she could take. Closing her eyes, she allowed her head to fall forward, catching in her hands. She covered her eyes with both hands. “Oh God, oh God, what have I done, what have I done…” Her words trailed off, soft cries filling her voice.

Defeated. Vulnerable. She could only wonder what would happen next. Although she really didn’t feel embarrassed now, she did feel like the foolish, loser low-life Mom and Darin had always called her. Nothing she did ever seemed right.

Her body began trembling. Wetness from tears soaked her fingers, her hands yet covering her face.

But then a gentle touch grasped her fingers. She opened her eyes. Ra’am had began prying her hands free, continuing until her face was unbound.

He caressed her hands before her, just to her right. She sniffed her nose a little. He released one hand and grabbed his jacket from the backpack’s interior, on the ground, and raised the jacket’s inner, softer portion toward her face. She looked into his gaze. Ra’am then blotted around her eyes, cheeks, and nose with soft touches, drying her aching skin. When finished, he placed the jacket on the ground and grasped her hands with both his hands once more. He stretched his legs out straight and turned them slightly, facing her.

They stared at each other. Trenae hoped there was something Ra’am could say to heal her pain.

“Are we so different?” he asked. He looked down at her hands. “Do we not both have hands, fingers?” Then he gazed back into her eyes, waiting for a response.

“Yes,” she said softly.

“And we both have feet and legs, do we not?” he said, smiling. But she couldn’t smile. She stared into his eyes and didn’t answer.

Ra’am began to feel her hands. A chill rippled through her body. “And we have arms, a torso, head, a similar body. And we are very intelligent,” he said.  “Yes, my hair is different, but we both have something covering our heads.”

Her apprehension melted a little. She smiled, blinking her eyes a few times. “I know, it’s true,” she said.

“And we both like animals. We both like L.B., right?”

She smiled again. “Yes, that’s true too.”

“And we both have thoughts, emotions, feelings,” he said. His smiling face slowly changed, sculpting a passionate, dangerous intensity. Yet she persisted to look in his eyes. “And we both have eyes to see our worlds, true?”

“Yes.” Her answer barely breathed.

Ra’am released a hand from her hands, lifting it near her face. Once near, he grazed her eyebrow with his fingertip, starting near the inner corner of her eyes and gliding over the entire length of one eyebrow. And then he touched her other eyebrow, touching in the same manner. “And we both have eyebrows, yes?”

She smiled again from his touch. “Yes,” she said. Without thinking, she took one of her hands away and wiped her noise. She slowly lowered her hand back, looking down at the same time.

But Ra’am caught her attention, his hand nearing her face again. She watched him. He touched her between her eyes, softly gliding his fingertip down to the tip of her nose. She closed her eyes. “We both have a nose too,” he said. “Have to smell things.”

She smiled.

His touch left her nose. She opened her eyes. Thinking he would hold her hands again, startle gently nudged when he didn’t. Instead he grasped her left forearm, near her elbow, over her thin jacket. Ra’am then began gliding his clutch up her arm. It felt too good. Watching his hand, briefly, her sight caught his other hand, his left hand, clutch her right arm and begin the same upward movement. Both his hands were inching their way toward her shoulders. Maybe what he always furtively wanted, the times he caressed my arms.

She directed her gaze back into his eyes. But she quickly regretted doing so. Ra’am’s dark eyes alarmed now, glaring like burning knives, stabbing ruthlessly into every possible secret region of her inner self. Was it extreme passion, or something else? She froze in place, hypnotized by his gaze. Her heart pounded, her breathing panted silently.

“And we both…have two lips,” Ra’am said, his voice magnetic, infused with passion.  Slowly his brutal gaze stared down to her lips and then rose up and continued their vicious assault into her eyes. Unusual for him, Ra’am was now breathing hard too, like she was.

Trenae’s rapid, quiet breathing had stolen her mind, her body so close to fainting. She nervously forced a quick swallow and looked at him through pleading, half-open eyes. “Please,” she whispered, “can you help me…please?” Tears watered her vision.

Her eyes barely open, she felt Ra’am skim his left hand up her right arm, to her shoulder, and then onto her neck, beneath her hair. He gradually smoothed his fingers through her soft hair, to the back of her head, taking hold of her head.  Her silent, rapid breathing increased like crazy now. He tenderly began pressing her head toward his face. Her eyes closing a little more, from the power of his touch, she could see his mouth draw closer to her lips. In the same moment, she felt his other hand slide up her left arm and then onto her back, mercilessly  pulling, pressing her closer too.

Her lips felt dry. She licked them unconsciously. She wanted to run, to get away from what was happening, but knew this was her mind. Her heart begged her to stay, yet was terrified nonetheless. “No, please,” she whispered. It was her one last attempt at a remedy. She closed her eyes.

Both his hands pulling, forcing her closer, Ra’am pressed his mouth against her lips. At first, this didn’t register in her mind. He started moving his head a little, causing his mouth to press firmer, wetter, tighter against her lips, and his hand weaved through her long hair, on the back of her head, forcing her head and lips closer and closer against him. No, this can’t be. He’s kissing me! Disbelief, shock overwhelmed and paralyzed Trenae.

But nothing was stopping Ra’am. No, no, please, she spoke weakly, inaudibly, feeling his right hand move down her back to under her jacket. At the same time he mouthed her lips more and more fervently, giving short sweet kisses, then giving longer, closer, tenser kisses, twisting his mouth softly. He slid his hand under her shirt, undeterred by her fear. Suddenly his warm skin touched her skin. She shivered. His hand moved gently up her back, alternately pressing her body closer to him or lightly touching her back’s soft, tender skin. Tremendous volts of that aching pain struck relentlessly in her abdomen, sending her heart racing and her breathing gone wild. She moaned helplessly.

Knowing she could never stop Ra’am’s embrace and his forceful, tender kisses, Trenae did the only thing left. She carefully lifted her weakened arms from between their lower bodies and cupped her hands on his broad, powerful shoulders, softly gliding her hands over, under his thick hair strands, then around, wrapping behind the back of his large neck. She could feel the taut, powerful wires, his tendons against her fingertips; this frightened, but released uncontrollable desire. She found new strength. Practically digging her fingers into his skin, she grabbed him tightly and made him surround her lips even stronger. Her mouth hurt, but she didn’t care. Severe, crippling passion now surged through her body.

It made her crazy. As their mouths kissed tighter, wetness pressing, soaking their lips, she boldly slipped her tongue between her lips, trying desperately to push her tongue into his mouth. Yet Ra’am wouldn’t let her. His right hand slid from her back and down to her bottom. There he gently grab a handful of her rear. Trenae could sense him lifting her, using his hands behind her head and rear as holding areas.

Before she knew it, the cold ground lay beneath her jacket-covered back, pine needles, pebbles gently pushing up against her. But Ra’am gallantly supported her head with his left hand, while his other hand gradually slinked from under her rear to the side of her left thigh. He gave short, forceful, wet kisses and encircled his hand under and around her thigh. With gentle, direct power, he then moved her thigh far to the left. Oh my God, he’s spread my legs! But my pants are on, she reassured herself.

And just as she feared, yet so intensely desired, Ra’am positioned himself between her legs. She felt his back and neck arch, allowing their mouths still to connect, his tall presence accommodating to her smaller body. He started to press and move against her, sliding his right hand under her back again. Both his arms began tightening their grip, embracing her closely and forcing both their mouths wetter, closer together. Somehow Ra’am was able to hold his weight up with his arms too, so that he didn’t crush her fragile body. He was so much larger than her!

And then he did what Trenae had encouraged him to render. She felt his tongue slowly slip between his lips and enter her mouth. Pressing her head against him more, Ra’am then plunged his tongue deep into her mouth, feeling, touching her tongue and every area he could with hot wetness. Remarkably he didn’t taste that much different from a man, save for a slight coppery tinge that she completely ignored. In truth everything he was doing felt human-like.

His body moved in a gentle rhythmic motion between her legs and he tongued her mouth fervently. She went even wilder with desire. She grabbed behind his neck or on his shoulders, by the sides of his face, or around his back, and each time forced him deeper into her mouth and closer to her body. She wanted to wrap her legs around his back, sealing him tightly, and press and move her silken, inner body against him, but feared this was too forward. She could only work on, devour his mouth. Uncontrollable moans flowed from her voice, Ra’am moaning too at times. Her heart, with love bursting its seams, desired to jump from her chest into Ra’am’s chest, where it would remain forever, never again a part of her body.      

Regrettably she sensed they were both having trouble catching their breath. Ra’am gently plucked his mouth from her lips. She opened her eyes a little. His eyes were closed, seeming caught in the same weakening passion she felt. This made her feel good, but confused. He became motionless for some time, but then lowered his head to the right side of her neck and started kissing her neck’s soft skin, allowing her head to fall backwards, leaving her neck in an open, vulnerable position.

After pleasuring her neck for some time, he removed his right hand from her back and quickly grasped her left thigh. His fingers tightened around her thigh, readying for his further need. In a rather rough motion, he thrust her thigh up and backwards, toward her abdomen, creating even a wider opening between her legs.

Trenae whimpered and held onto his shoulders. Fainting weighed on her forehead. “Ra’am, what is happening?” she murmured breathlessly. “I’m so light-headed.”

He released his hand from her thigh, sliding it under her back again, and ceased the motion of his body. Gently interrupting kisses on her neck, he lifted her head back up.

She opened her eyes halfway. Ra’am stared with narrow eyes like her, still overwhelmed with intense, pleasurable feelings, just as she was. Their faces were so close.

“Are you all right?” he asked deeply, smoothly. The warmth of his breath felt so good, tickling and comforting her skin.

Nevertheless she felt vulnerable. “Yes, but…you…you wouldn’t hurt me, would you baby?” she whispered.

From his chest pressing against her, she could feel Ra’am’s breathing increase. His dark eyes opened a little more into a frightening stare, and his arms encircled and tightened their grip around her defenseless body. She could feel his koaksekhel press against her back. “No,” he said defiantly, “although, I could crush you tightly, if I wanted to.” Passion enveloped his demeanor, his eyes searching up and down her face and body. Somehow she knew he wasn’t serious with those words, yet it made her far more vulnerable.

Her breathing labored and her head felt balloon light. But it didn’t matter. “I don’t care,” she whispered, “I would rather die in your arms, than anywhere else.” She stared in his eyes. She truly meant those words.

 In slow, steady motion, he lowered his mouth to her lips, continuing to hold her very close. She closed her eyes. He gave a powerful, wet kiss on her moist lips. Then he raised his head again. She opened her eyes. He stared into her gaze. “Trenae, I did not mean it like that. I could never, ever hurt you.”

Breaths expanded, lessened so quickly in her weakened body. “Then make love to me…now…before you leave earth.” She stared at his lips and used her sweetest, pleading voice. “Please, baby, please do it.” She looked into his gaze

His eyes darkened.

Ra’am dove his mouth onto her lips, forcing his tongue deep into her mouth, going wild with his hands, moving and pressing them around her back with great frenzy, driving her mouth harder and harder against his. He thrust his groin between her legs, grinding against her back and forth; even through her pants she felt his rock hard arousal, similar to a man. Fear imparted its terrifying presence within her, from Ra’am’s aggressive lovemaking, but Trenae grabbed his body with intense fervor, digging her fingers into his back and shoulders, pulling him closer. She used her own tongue to feel and caress his tongue, wetting him back eagerly.

Ra’am slowed his intense motion between her legs, though still tonguing her mouth relentlessly. She felt his right hand rush under her shirt, beneath her jacket. But then he slowly inched his hand up, toward her breasts, his koaksekhel grazing her skin a little; but she didn’t care. After what seemed like hours, he gently glided his warm hands over her bra, caressing and feeling her breasts tenderly, lingeringly. Though they still hurt a little from the fall, again, she didn’t care. His kind touch felt so wonderful and soothing. Trenae whimpered from the pleasure and continued licking, caressing his tongue with her tongue. Ra’am moaned and breathed heavier and heavier, his hand fondling, cupping her breasts. This in turn brought greater enjoyment within her. Feeling so, so good she wondered if it was all a dream.

For some reason Ra’am started lessening his passionate behavior. He brought his hand down from her breasts, taking his hand from under her shirt. He ceased moving against her, becoming still. After removing his tongue and giving short, wet kisses alone on her lips, he stopped kissing her mouth and moved his face away. She opened her eyes. He kissed her right cheek several times, very gently. Bewilderment set in, as she could not explain his actions. She wanted him to remove her clothes, remove his clothes, lovingly molest her body again and again.

He lifted his head and looked into her eyes.

“Ra’am, please, baby,” she pleaded, “please make love to me.”

His eyes glanced at her lips, then back into her eyes. “No, Trenae. I cannot.”

“What?” she asked weakly. “Why? Please don’t say no.”

He kissed her left cheek, holding her warmly, firmly.

She felt desperate. “Please…just fuck me, baby. Please, come on.”

Instantly after saying the words, she regretted them. Ra’am searched into her eyes, his stare troubled, intense. But then he leaned down and kissed her lips. He lifted his head. “No, Resica, I cannot,” he said quietly.

That word, that name. “What?” she whispered. “Just…please, don’t leave me like this.”

“I want you to stand up now,” he said.

He started backing away. She tightened her arms around his neck and shoulders. “No! Please don’t.”

Though she still embraced his upper body, Ra’am wrapped his arms securely around her back and rear and gradually stood up with her anyway.

“Stand up, Trenae,” he commanded.

Ra’am slowly released his arms from her back, allowing her to slide down the front of his body. But she instead buried her face into his upper chest and clung to his strong shoulders. With one of his hands, Ra’am gently began rubbing her back. His touch felt so comforting. She closed her eyes. Embarrassment and worry heated her mind. Why had I been so assertive?

Ra’am tenderly pried her arms from his shoulders with one hand. She gave in. What else could she do? His other arm carefully allowed her to slide to the ground. Once she felt her feet on the soil, she looked up at him. Urgency showed in his expression. “Please…just stand there. Do not move,” he said. His voice, brimming in solemnity, made her stand motionless.

Ra’am placed his hands on her shoulders and began lowering himself to the ground, all while staring into her eyes. She stared back, very confused. What is this? His hands slid along the sides of her arms, almost to her wrists. Finally, she was looking down at him. When he stopped on the ground, he knelt on one knee, his other leg bent upright.

He slid his hands down more, taking hold of her fingers. He caressed her small fingers and gazed up into her eyes. Then he lowered his head completely, as though bowing to her. For what seemed like an eternity, he kept that position. He lifted his face again, staring into her eyes. Trenae felt even more puzzled by his behavior. Searching his face for some explanation, she could only see kindness and desperation, and true purpose.

“Trenae Resica Lafayette,” he said. “Will you marry me?”

The words punctured like an arrow. “What? What…do you mean? You’re leaving. How, how…where would we live?”

She stared into his eyes; they appeared as never before, weak, helpless, the eyes of a child lost. Her heart made its presence know again, pounding hard within her chest.

“I do not care…I don’t care,” he said. “I just know, I have to be with you.”

“But I’m a human, and you’re an ometvah. How could we get married?”

Ra’am closed his eyes and bowed his head down, gripping her hands tighter. More confusion slammed her mind.

He raised his head. She could see tears wetting his eyes. “I am madly in love with you too, Trenae. And I know, we are so different, but we are so similar. I would never hurt you, and I would never allow my ta’are ekhsakar to come near you. It would be all right, we would be all right…just please…marry me. I know…I cannot go on without you.”

“But…but…” Her eyes began tearing.

Ra’am closed his eyes. “Please…please, say yes,” he said softly. “Please…But, it is up to you.”

A thin tear stream flowed from one of his eyes. Her heart broke. Uncontrollable sobs erupted from her mouth. Slipping her hands from his warm grip, she covered her mouth, trying to hide her sobbing.

Ra’am allowed his hands to fall by his sides and both his knees to collapse to the ground. Her own knees become weak. After wiping her eyes, she sunk toward the ground, resting her hands on Ra’am’s shoulders, lowering herself gradually to the earth. Scenes from the past months, with Ra’am, swept through her mind, a river a photographs. The time he rescued her from the cliff, the way he held her close their first night together, how he kept her safe from Willson and Stiles, the other times he protected her and stood up for her, and their countless times together in the Idaho wilderness, finding and collecting plant and animal specimens were all before her now. Something beautiful had been developing between them all along. And now it was confirmed, there was no doubt.

Her knees nestled on the pine needle ground. She searched all over Ra’am’s distraught face, paining her; he still kept his eyes shut. She drew close to him. She kissed his left cheek. But his eyes yet remained closed. Gliding from there, she delivered soft kisses on the closed lid of his left eye, a silky, rippled skin, similar and different to a human’s eyelid. Her heart still breaking from his sad behavior, she placed her lips on his other closed eye, softly kissing him there too. Still, his eyes shut. Then, she kissed his lips, her hands gently caressing his face. His body was trembling again.

Ra’am opened his eyes. She felt their souls connect.

Only one answer existed that she could give him. “Yes, Ra’am. I will marry you. I cannot live without you…I can’t. I don’t know how…know when, when you were to leave, and I…” Her words ended; tears and abandoned sobs prevented them from continuing.

Ra’am placed his finger on her lips. “Shhh, don’t speak,” he said. He wrapped both his arms around her, hugging her so close. Trenae laid her face on his shoulder and shut her eyes. Her tears moistened his shirt. “I love you so much,” he said. “I can take such good care of you.”

Keeping her eyes closed, she hugged Ra’am closer. Soothing, comforting relief flowed within her, discovering her love was not a one-way occurrence, but a definite mutual yearning and devotion between both of them. “Oh Ra’am,” she said.

He tenderly stroked her back with one hand, his other hand gripping her tightly.

They continued to embrace. From between the trees, she heard L.B.’s thumping, happy paw steps approach. After a few seconds, L.B. was licking both their faces. He also started pawing Ra’am’s right shoulder.

“Hey, you silly dog,” Ra’am said. “You hurt me!”

She backed away, Ra’am in turn loosening his grip on her. He took her hands and courteously guided her upright, standing. Though L.B. now nudged and bumped her legs, she couldn’t keep her eyes off Ra’am. She stared up into his face.

“I am bringing Ha-Ta here, right now,” he said. His gaze intensified. “I do not know how much longer I can wait.”

She wiped her eyes, to see him clearer. “Wait for what?”

Ra’am glanced away for a moment, but then brought back a searing, frightening aura. Some alarm and yearning wrapped around her, a prickly, yet comforting blanket. “For you,” he said, staring direct in her eyes. He let go of her hand and slid his hand under her jacket and beneath her shirt. Warm skin touched her skin, his hand gliding around her back and waist, pulling her next to him. Trenae closed her eyes…

















                                                                    Chapter 19



            …“Ha-Ta finally arrived. Ra’am programmed his koaksekhel, and it traveled under ground to near our location. He hugged me like that, with his arm on me, for a while more, but then he tried to remain a little distant from me.”

“Because he had to wait to marry you?”

“Yes, I think. After we got L.B. and went in Ha-Ta, we just sat in our seats and Ra’am had us leave the area.”

“Do you think I can turn my recorder back on, to keep this on record?”

“Yeah, sure. It’s okay now.”

Jenny pressed the record button and placed it between them again. “Where were you two going?”

“Believe it or not, to see Pastor Crenshaw. He was the only pastor, or like Ra’am said, a servant of God, who we both knew, so…”

“To marry you guys?”

“Yes. I know, I know, it sounds insane,” Trenae said, lifting both her legs and bringing her knees to her chest. She wrapped her arms around them. She looked at Jenny.

“What on earth was going through your mind then? Did you start to think you made a mistake, by saying yes?”

“Actually, the thought did enter my mind, but I was so in love with him, I didn’t care. I knew I was taking a huge risk, since I had no idea how he would be after we married, but it was even a worse risk if I stayed behind, on earth.”

“Well, that’s true. He planned on taking you to Harkoav, the Andromeda galaxy?”

“He told me about a planet, called Penakh Ayef, a .99 planet which Harkoav was studying and so were other alien beings. Together, they were establishing colonies or settlements there, and the two ometvaheem who had visited around Christmas, told Ra’am that was his next assignment, from Harkoav’s military. He was to study there what he did on earth. Both Ra’am and I, since I was his helper already, could work there.”

“Had he asked Harkoav authorities, if he could marry you?”

“He had posed the question, and it was approved, but it wasn’t definite, since he never knew what would become of us. And then we started talking about what our relatives and friends would think, if we married. With me, it of course didn’t matter, since my family was, well, you know, hated me…or gone, and I had few friends. So, but with his family, he was concerned. But, he didn’t care, he said. All he knew was, he wanted me.”

“That’s sweet.”

Trenae glanced down at her jean-covered knees. “Yeah, but it made me nervous. Actually, I was extremely nervous. I couldn’t begin to imagine meeting his family. But then Ra’am started talking about genetics, how there could be a problem with some Harkoav authorities, like scientists, genealogists, or other population experts, with our marriage. Then he told me too, that he thought we shouldn’t have children. He was not certain what would happen with our combined genetics and--”

“He could prevent it, just by staying away during his ta’are ekhsakar?”

“Yes, that’s true. But anyway, he told me that male ometvah carry both X and Y chromosomes, like human males. And also, their females carry X chromosomes. But male ometvah have a certain hormone, called lefzahet ha shenoohey patoo’akh.”

“Say again?” Jenny asked comically.

Smiling a little, Trenae released her knees, allowing herself to sit normally, and gave the correct spelling. Jenny wrote it down. “This is kinda complicated, so bare with me. And maybe I should give you all the spellings at the end. Anyway, it’s that hormone which causes an ometvehar’s cervix to open. However, it also kills most X chromosome sperm, since ometvaheem Y sperm are hardier and larger, unlike human Y sperm, and that lefzahet stuff has a more acidic nature.  So, the majority of the ometvah sperm are Y’s that make it to the female’s egg or ovum.

“But see, less males will form than almehneht. An XY combination egg, since the female’s eggs will always be an X chromosome, which is added to a Y sperm, will then start a sort of fight, after some time.”

“A fight?”

“Yes. See, once an XY combo develops more into an embryo, two hormones start to battle. One is a neutralizing hormone, called shenoohey pra’ot stamee, and the other is a masculine hormone, called shenoohey pra’ot zakhar.  Usually, the neutralizing hormone wins, by having a greater concentration or amount, just a little more often than the masculine one.

“So…once the female’s body detects the neutral winner, her body sort of bathes the embryo, at a stage of its early development when it’s in the uterus, with an anti-masculine hormone called molkh shenoohey zakhar. This initiates the embryo to form an asexual fetus, an almehneh, by not allowing any sexual organs to form. But later, the female’s body will also release a hormone called protagedeel, if I remember right.” Trenae tried not to sound too smart, although she could remember everything easily. “Protagedeel will help form some geed’aso in the almehneh fetus, by awakening the almehneh fetus’ own geed’aso producing gland.

“But, if the male hormone wins, in the battle, then--”

“With the XY?” Jenny asked quickly.

 “Yes. So, if the male hormone, shenoohey pra’ot zahkar wins, the female’s body will detect this. Her body will bathe this XY fetus in protagedeel, a large amount, that initiates the fetus to form into a male. Once this happens, the male fetus will develop geed’aso and other male physical features on its own, with no further help from the female.”

“What about if two XX’s form?”

“If two XX’s form, from an X sperm making it to the female’s X ovum, then the same anti-masculine hormone is excreted on the fetus, molkh shenoohey zakhar, as on the almehneh fetus. This prevents little if any geed’aso from forming, since females have undetectable amounts, and initiates the embryo to develop female glands, which keep the female smaller and weaker than almehneht or ometvaheem, once a female is born and matures.”

“Shit, that’s a ton of science stuff again,” Jenny said. “I’m curious, though- is this anything like with us, humans?”

“Well, yes and no. Yes, we just deal with X and Y chromosomes, to form either female or male, but no, too…because, when XY or XX forms in a human female, they don’t require the same help from the mother’s hormones, to initiate which gender should develop. In fact, XX unions just form naturally to become females, with not much hormonal help at all, in humans. So, this was a big reminder to me, how different ometvaheem and humans are. And believe me, there are many more ometvah hormonal, biochemical steps, a lot of them labeled with letters and numbers, since there were so many, to get things developing in the fetus and the mother’s uterus,  but…Ra’am told me, it’s just too complicated now.”

“Hell, you don’t have to tell me!”

Trenae smiled. “And see, the reason there’s fewer females, is because less XX zygotes are formed. Most of the time, it’s almehneht that are formed. Ra’am said an ometvehar will always know what her baby is, by the foods she craves. With males, she eats more and needs more protein foods. With almehneht and females, she eats differently.”

Trenae then gave Jenny all the complicated spellings.

“But,” Trenae said, “what he was really trying to tell me- what our children might be like, if we decided to conceive a child. Probably mostly males, some females, but the males would never be like him, since I have no protagedeel to initiate the production of geed’aso and other ometvah masculine traits, like their stronger bones. We would start another species, something neither one of us wanted to do.”

“So, you were okay with no children?”

Lifting her head, Trenae looked straight ahead. She took a deep, cleansing breath. “Yeah, I guess so. I would love to somehow…sort of replace the baby I lost…you know, from…”

“No, don’t mention it,” Jenny said quickly.

Trenae sighed. “Our marriage was going to be one of love for each other, not a means to procreate.” She lowered her head. “It was odd, yes. But then again, who really wants to bring children into this universe, just to have them live in imperfect conditions?”

“That’s for sure. I must agree.”

She looked at Jenny. They both smiled at each other. After a brief pause, Trenae looked down and continued. “Anyway, we showed up at the pastor’s church. It was about 9:30 or 10:00 in the morning, I’m not sure, but Ra’am disguised himself, camouflaged himself. I changed my clothes, to look more presentable. And then we walked in the church. We left L.B. on Ha-Ta. We found the pastor with a group of people, near the sanctuary and his office, talking. But as soon as he saw us, he excused himself from the people and brought us in his office. He seemed very concerned that we were there. After he closed the door, Ra’am and I talked with him.”…



…Pastor Crenshaw directed them to his desk. Ra’am politely pulled up two chairs, from the table, and both he and Trenae sat in front of the desk, the pastor sitting behind it.

“I’m surprised to see you, Ra’am, especially with how you look,” the pastor said. “What is that exactly, covering you, so those blue geed’aso and your eyes look human?”

“It is simply a special layer of hemoom prodoh,” Ra’am said. “I thought it was best, considering all the vehicles in the church’s parking lot. Many people would be present.”

“Yes. Our main service is at 11:00, but we have Sunday school classes an hour or half hour before, depending. I was just talking with some of the teachers.”

“But since you closed the door, I will remove the hemoom prodoh now,” Ra’am said. Lifting his right arm, showing his koaksekhel, Ra’am explained and displayed to Pastor Crenshaw the process by which he removed the camouflage covering on his skin. Ra’am now sat his normal, blue-tinged self. The pastor seemed amazed, for a bit, but then became stoic.

 “So, what can I do for you two?” he asked.

“There is something important I want to ask of you,” Ra’am answered, taking the lead for Trenae and him. “But first, I am curious- have you told anyone, about our trip to the moon?”

Pastor Crenshaw glanced down, appearing as someone placed under the microscope. He lifted his head and stared at Ra’am. “Not really, Ra’am. It was only two days ago. I have been rather busy, but, in fact, to tell you the truth…I have tried to forget our experience. I’m not trying to be insulting, but I just can’t come to terms with you, and your beliefs, and still conduct my services at the church. I find it very conflicting. I was up all night struggling with it.”

 “I understand,” Ra’am said. “I should have known better, to believe only two humans could change the mind set of an entire planet. More is needed.”

Trenae felt surprised at Ra’am’s response.

Pastor crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat. “Are you saying we lack the capabilities?”

“No, only that there is too much threat of retaliation from other humans, when an idea is presented which is contrary to the norm. Your behavior is not unusual- even other intelligent species would behave the same. But you still have much time ahead, to at least try.”

             Pastor Crenshaw gave both of them a puzzled, steely gaze. “Why are you two really here?”

Ra’am didn’t hesitate. “We both want you to marry us, Trenae and me.”

Pastor jolted in apparent disbelief. “Trenae and you?” He uncrossed his arms, grabbed the edge of his desk, and pulled himself forward. “Why?”

“We are both very much in love with each other,” Ra’am said, his words quiet.

Pastor Crenshaw looked at her. “Trenae, is this true?”

“Yes, Ra’am is telling the truth.” She pushed sincerity toward the pastor.

“How can you do this, Trenae?” asked Pastor Crenshaw. “What would your father think?”

“My father?” she asked weakly. “I don’t know, but…I know I love Ra’am, like I have never loved anyone.”

“Could you possibly be feeling gratitude, for all he has done for you?”

Ra’am turned and looked down at her, sitting on her left. The pastor stared at her too. Great, they’re both staring at me. I’m on the spot. She glanced down at her legs for a moment, and then raised her eyes and stared back at Pastor Crenshaw. Tears began wetting her eyes again. “No, that’s not it,” she said. “I am madly in love with him. I know he’s not human, but if I let him go, the one person in this whole universe who ever treated me this good, who loves me too…would that be right?”

Pastor shot his gaze toward Ra’am. “And you love her?”

She looked at Ra’am. He gazed tenderly at her. “Words cannot describe how much I love her.”

She smiled. But in her mind, she wondered and hoped that he truly meant those words.

“Ra’am, excuse me for being blunt,” Pastor said, “but as a scientist, you must be aware of the biological or genetic complications your marriage would bring. Bacteria, viruses, or diseases both your bodies could invade on each other.”

“I have spent extensive time and research on this,” Ra’am answered. “Our bodies are compatible and will not harm each other.”

Since they had always just studied animals and plants, when had Ra’am found the time? But Pastor Crenshaw moved forward, distracting her questioning thoughts.

 “What about genetics, then? What exactly would your children be?”

Her heart sank from the pastor’s words.

“I have considered this, and we will not have children,” Ra’am said. “I will make certain. But in order for us to be intimate and to be together, forever, Harkoav laws require that we must be married.”

“How can you be intimate, and not have kids?” Pastor Crenshaw seemed to be getting agitated.

“Our males can conceive only once a year, and we know the time. It is simply a matter of avoiding Trenae during this time. An easy solution.”

            Shaking his head, Pastor Crenshaw stood up. He began walking to his right, toward the tall bookshelves. He turned and looked back at them. “This is insane, you realize,” he said. “I have spent countless, countless hours, thinking and rethinking over how you could exist, how you brought me to the moon. My whole belief system has been turned on its head, and now, just when I start recovering, you throw this one on me?”

“We’re sorry, Pastor Jeff, but we had no one else to go to,” Trenae said. “You’re the only person of God we both know.”

“I’m sure you can find someone else. I…I just can’t do this. I’m sorry.” Pastor Crenshaw began stepping past Ra’am.

Ra’am thrust his hand out, taking hold of the pastor’s forearm. “Please, Pastor Crenshaw, we need you.”

True sincerity shone from Ra’am. But on the pastor’s face, only disgust and angst existed. “I’m sorry, again,” Pastor Crenshaw said, “but you have the wrong person.”

Ra’am wouldn’t release his arm. “Please, I promise, if you marry us, I will witness to your planet myself, and tell them all that I know.”

“Can you please release my arm?”

Ra’am promptly did so, though desperate.

“Look, you two,” Pastor said.  He placed both his hands in his tan pants pockets and faced toward them. “I’m not trying to be unkind, but it’s just that my principles, both as a pastor and a human being, will be severely compromised. And your desire to witness to our world, Ra’am, is a noble idea, but one earth is not ready for. It doesn’t impress me, nor will it impress others. I am sorry, again, but I have to leave now. I think you two can find the door. You can stay for awhile and talk here, if you wish.” He started away.

Ra’am turned forward, toward the pastor’s desk, and started breathing heavily. Yet he appeared peaceful and upset, not aggressive.

After seeing Ra’am’s behavior and watching Pastor walk away, Trenae sprung up and rushed after him. “Wait, Pastor, listen,” she said, arriving near him. Unfortunately, her tired eyes seeped tears again. “I just know, that there have been very few people who really loved me in this world. One was my father, who died when I was only 14, and the other was his sister…my, my Aunt Heather, and now she’s dead too. And you know, if I don’t marry Ra’am and stay here on earth, then those mafia guys, they’ll kill me too. But it’s more than that…I know Ra’am is good, deep inside. I think you know too.” She wiped her eyes and nose and stared in his face.

Pastor Crenshaw sighed deeply, eyeing her. “Fine. Look, I need to speak with some people. I will think about what you said, but I believe I’m treading in dangerous waters here.” He turned and walked away, toward the door. A few seconds later, he left the room. The door shut. They were alone.

She walked back to Ra’am. He was leaning over, his elbow on his knees and his head down. She moved her chair closer to him and sat down. “Ra’am, what’s wrong?” she asked softly.

He lifted his head and looked at her. “I do not feel so well. I am sorry, Trenae, but if we do not marry, I cannot be with you.” His eye glistened again, tears welling, nearly streaming down.

“Oh no…March baby, you’re crying again. Please don’t.” She stood up and wrapped her arms around him.

Ra’am tenderly grasped her hips, sitting her on his lap. She allowed one of her arms to drape his shoulders, her other hand resting on her knees. She could see his face clearly now. 

“We could find someone else, like the pastor said,” Trenae whispered.

“Yes, we could, but there is little time, before I must leave. And I do not know how another human will react.”

“But we can try. Maybe…maybe there’s a servant of God, on your planet, who will marry us.”

“No, that will not work, since I cannot legally be with you or take you back with me, without marrying you first. It is our law.”

“Well then, we’ll have to find someone else. That’s what we should do, right?”

He removed his tender gaze from her and looked straight ahead. He became silent.

After some moments, he spoke. “Like I said, there is little time now.”

“I’m sure we can, we can look on the Internet, to find someone. There must be someone more opened minded.”

He looked back at her. “Yes, but are they true servants of God? There are charlatans everywhere. At least you know of Pastor Crenshaw, and his attributes. And I know some of his personality as well.”

She wanted to say that that doesn’t matter, but his behavior cut her will.

Moving her arm aside, she leaned her head on Ra’am’s right shoulder, grasping his other shoulder with her hand. She embraced him tightly and closed her eyes. The possible dream of their life and future together began to crumble. Somehow, she wondered if Pastor Crenshaw’s refusal was a sign that their unusual union shouldn’t take place.

Ra’am slipped his arms around her and began stroking her back softly. She sensed that he was upset and yet tearful, like she was.

They remained in this position for some time, quiet, not moving from each other. Neither one said a word. If time could only freeze their closeness, allow their short togetherness to last forever. But she knew that was impossible.

Noise broke their silence; then she heard the door close. She lifted her head and looked across the room. Pastor Crenshaw stood by the closed door, his hand on the doorknob. His stance appeared to have been relaxing in the room for some time, possibly watching them. He crossed toward them, passing the long wooden table in the center of the room.

Trenae removed her arms from Ra’am and he in turn released her. She stood up in front of the pastor’s desk. Ra’am remained seated, but turned to view the pastor.

Eventually, Pastor Crenshaw stood about 5 feet away from Ra’am’s right.  Trenae stepped a little closer to the pastor. She looked in his face.

Pastor appeared solemn, his hands grasped together near his waist. “After I left you two, I started to recall our time together.” He looked toward the floor and smiled. “That trip to the moon, is something I’ll never forget. It was very special.” He lifted his head and glanced back and forth at both of them. “Yes, I did try to block if out, but if God didn’t want me to witness the moon and all I saw, then why did I? Like you said, God and the universe are one. I never thought of Him that way.

“But more important, at my doctor’s visit yesterday, he was amazed at the very low cholesterol and triglycerides levels in my blood- even my blood pressure was incredibly low for me. My heart sounded great. They want to do some further checking, to see if any arteries are still clogged, but it seems like they’re not. In short, my doc said it was a miracle. He couldn’t understand how quickly I improved. I just saw him the beginning of January, and I was in terrible shape, as you know, with hypertension, arteriosclerosis, irregular heart beat, high cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation…but now, to all intents and purposes, it’s gone.”

“It was no miracle, Jeff,” Ra’am said. “Simply our bio-genetically engineered plant which healed your ailments.”

“But…what I want to say, is that I owe you one. I know you saved my life. I could have died, when I had that chest pain. But you cared. And, although I may be committing a sin, to marry both of you, it can’t be worse then having you two fornicate, since it is obvious just how much you’re in love. Yes, I did see you two together now.”

“Then you will marry us?” Ra’am asked.

Pastor Crenshaw looked at him. “Yes, son, I will.”

A grand smile sleeked across Trenae’s face. She wiped her eyes. Still beaming, she turned to view Ra’am. He stood up.

“But if you don’t mind,” Pastor Crenshaw said, “I would like to perform the ceremony right here, in my office. I just feel more comfortable with that, than in the sanctuary. Besides, there are people everywhere in the church who may wonder and question, to our detriment.”

“I understand,” Ra’am said.

The pastor walked past Ra’am to the tall bookshelf and picked up a book. Right away, Trenae figured it was a Bible. He walked back toward them and stood at the front of his desk, between them. She moved so she faced the pastor and stood to Ra’am’s right side.

Pastor Crenshaw drew a deep, nervous breath. “May God forgive me.” He held the Bible in his hands and gazed toward the floor, a pensive expression coloring his face.

“May God forgive us all,” Ra’am said quietly, “since none of us know if this is right, but can only follow our hearts.” Trenae gazed up at Ra’am. He stared toward the floor, just like Pastor Crenshaw. But soon, he lifted his head.

Pastor Crenshaw looked at them, while holding the Bible. “Okay, standing where you two are is fine.”

Ra’am wrapped his arm around Trenae and drew her closer to his body. She shuddered a little, knowing there was no turning back now. But at the same time, she had to proceed.

“Pastor Crenshaw, I need to record our ceremony, for Harkoavian records,” Ra’am said. “Can you state your name, the name of this church, and its location in the United States?”

“Do I need to look in any certain direction or position, for the camera?” He smiled a little. So did Trenae.

“No, that is not necessary.”

“Okay…My name is Pastor Jeff Crenshaw. This is the Grace Baptist Church, in Boise, Idaho.”

Following those words, Pastor Crenshaw gave a brief introduction about the marriage ceremony. Then he opened the Bible and read a few verses. When finished, he laid the book on his desk and told Ra’am and Trenae to hold hands. Ra’am lifted his arm from her shoulder and gently wrapped his fingers around her small hand.

“Do you, Ra’am, take Trenae to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward?” Pastor’s words coiled around Trenae’s heart. But this had to be.

“Yes, I do.” Ra’am’s tone came serious, yet joyful.

“Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish her for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health?”

“Yes, I most certainly do.” Ra’am squeezed her hand tenderly.

“And forsaking all others, will you remain only unto her, for as long as you both shall live?”

“Yes, I do.”

Pastor Crenshaw then looked at Trenae. “Do you, Trenae, take Ra’am to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward?”

“Yes, Pastor Jeff, I do.” Damn, no. Tears began flooding her weary, happy eyes.

“Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish him for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health?”

“Yes, I do.” She squeezed Ra’am’s hand.

“And forsaking all others, will you remain only unto him, for as long as you both shall live?”

Emotions, many different emotions, crashed together in her mind’s pit. She drew in lung fills of old book scented air, harboring in the room, and tried to relax. “Yes, I will.” 

Pastor Crenshaw looked back up at Ra’am. “Do you have a set of rings, Ra’am?”

“No, I do not, but I have something else. It is our traditional marriage ornament, which the female wears on her ankle and the male wears on his wrist. However, if you do not mind, I need to speak a short oration, a traditional part of our marriages, before I place it on Trenae.”

“That is fine, Ra’am.”

Ra’am slipped his free left hand into his right upper front jeans pocket and carefully pulled out two thin, silver chains, about 1/16th inch in width and about 9 or 10 inches in length, both of which she had never seen before.

Wonder hit her. “Where did you get those?” she asked.

“I keep them in my pants pockets, everyday. I have never told you before. They were for my marriage, on Harkoav, that never took place. My military commander allowed me to keep them.”

“Oh, I see,” she said.

Ra’am took her other hand, even though he still held the two chains, and turned her body so she faced him. “I was always hoping I could use them for us,” he said, a warm smile gracing his face. Gazing through tear droplets, she smiled at him too.

Ra’am lowered himself to the floor, similar to when he gave his marriage proposal, except that now he kneeled on both knees. He gently raised the bottom of her jean pant, on her right leg, and cuffed it up. He lowered her sock until most of her upper ankle was showing. Both she and Pastor Crenshaw watched in wonderment.

She could feel Ra’am wrap the small, light anklet around her ankle and then secure it. Though a little tight, it also felt remarkable comfortable. Ra’am raised his upper body slightly, continuing to remain on his knees, and placed a similar silver chain, though lengthier, around his left wrist.

When he had it secured, he lowered his body down again. At the same time, he took hold of her right ankle, until he surprisingly rested the side of his face upon her shoe. He held this position for a moment, maybe 30 seconds, though it seemed like an hour. Oh my gosh, what is he doing now? This is rather embarrassing. But soon he raised himself up again, though still kneeling, and placed his hands on his knees. He looked up.

“Trenae,” he said, “it is a true honor to be in your presence, and an even greater honor to be permitted to form a bond, a marriage with you. For you are a feminine being, a life giver, the one who holds the key for future generations to come. Although we will not have children, if you were ometvehar, I would say…it is through your unselfish and loving abilities, that many new children come into life and are raised primarily by you. You are therefore deemed the highest honor and respect, because although you are weaker, smaller, and dependent on us, the male beings, to protect and govern your life, we bow, I bow, to your glory and radiance, your inner beauty and love, because without you, new generations would not continue.”

He bowed before her, placing his hands on her ankle again, and holding himself close to her foot. Once more, he lingered in that position.

He finally lifted himself and stood upright again. “It is because females on Harkoav are the minority, in many ways, that we bestow this respectful oration during the marriage ceremony. I, of course, changed it some, since our circumstance is unique, but important nonetheless.”

“Different, but well done, Ra’am,” the pastor said. “I liked it.”

“Thank you,” Ra’am said. He bowed toward Pastor Crenshaw.

She gazed lovingly into Ra’am’s face.

“Well, normally we have a ring exchange, but since you are through, I’ll finish the ceremony here,” Pastor said, lifting the Bible again. “By the power vested in me, by the State of Idaho, I now pronounce you…husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”

Trenae stared into Ra’am’s eyes. He leaned over and caressed her face, drawing closer, his mouth finding her lips. She felt no embarrassment, only bewilderment and happiness. After a short, affectionate kiss, he stood upright again.

“Congratulations, you two, you’re married!”

She rejoiced, outwardly, but began feeling drained within. Her crashed emotions couldn’t decide.

All three spoke a few more words, of minor interest, until the pastor informed them he would be leaving soon, to prepare himself and others for the Sunday service.

But before leaving, Pastor looked at them. “Where are you two going now?”

“We are leaving earth,” Ra’am said. “I must return to Harkoav. It has been a long time since I have seen my relatives and friends.”

“Trenae will meet them too?”

“Yes. But then, we will return to earth.”

Confusion furrowed Pastor’s brows. “Return? Haven’t you seen enough yet?” 

Trenae quickly wondered too what Ra’am meant.

“I am keeping my promise, to you,” he told the pastor.

“Your promise?”

“Yes. I said I would witness to earth, of what I know about God, if you married us.”

“Oh yes, I’m sorry. I remember,” Pastor said. “But I didn’t think you were really  serious.”

“I am,” Ra’am said firmly

“And maybe,” Pastor said, humbled, “I will be able to tell people what you told and showed me.”

“That would be helpful, Pastor Crenshaw.”…