Hurriedly he left his apartment and entered his car, his senses still in tune with the creature. It was getting closer to its prey, he needed to hurry but his car is controlled by the electro-magnetic track it rides upon. It will not allow him to exceed the maximum speed regulated by the city’s Safety Commission. The sky thundered and the rain poured. He was just blocks away, but it had already entered the house. Not wanting to drop his disguise, he no longer had any choice. Positioning his right hand before the control box within the car’s dashboard he removed the restricting illusion of a human hand and arm, dispersing it into the ether in tiny ultraviolet lights. As it dissipated it revealed a dark green insect-like appendage with a shelled spiked femur, a spiked tibia jointed at the end, and a thin tarsus jutting out from the tibia. The tarsus radiated; aglow with some sort of self emanating energy and he fused it into the box. Letting go of the mental lock he had upon his foe, he concentrated on hacking into the car’s mechanics. There was a strained look upon his face for a few moments, and then relief as the speed of the car increased.
Seconds later he arrived at the house. Defusing his arm from the control box, he attempted to lock back in on the creature. It was in the child’s room, on the wall above the crib. Now there is sudden urgency and no time for secrecy. He completely removed the illusion of his human disguise, a million pieces of light swirling in the air and then vanishing. He was still as tall as the human illusion, about seven feet, but instead of two legs he had four segmented ones that supported a dark green metathorax with a lined white pulpous abdomen protruding out behind him. His prothorax extended up and erect from his metathorax at a ninety degree angle, at that point of connection two leathery wings sat folded upon his metathorax and a black belt with buttoned consoles, pouches, and gun holsters was fastened there as well. At the end of his prothorax was a neck-like segment supporting a triangular head with large shiny black compound eyes that encompassed much of the area upon it. Two small antennae jutted out from the area between the eyes and swirled about in the air, searching and detecting. Four legs reached out from the prothorax, arm-like, two on either side. The top two were large and as been described, the lower two were smaller versions and somewhat dainty. One of the larger ones held a small electronic device and the two smaller ones each held a small laser pistol within the grasp of the tarsus. He was dark green from the metathorax down, and his legs and antennae were as well, but his head and prothorax were a dark scarlet stenciled with a winding elaborate alien and somewhat tribal pattern in black lines.
Going to the back door, he placed the device’s sensor against the electronic door lock and punched in commands with the tarsus of his free upper-leg. The door clicked and opened with a swoosh, and he swiftly scuttled through the house, up the stairs, and into the child’s room. Its flesh was beige and it was hump shaped and moist with no visible appendages, eyes, or mouth. It was just a moving flesh hump about six feet long and nearly upon the crib. The pistol blast was swift and silent, aimed for the top front part of the hump, the brain. Stopping all forward movement, the creature slung two long purple rope-like tendrils, red branching vessels running through them, from somewhere underneath it. One wrapped about his neck, it was incredibly strong and was attempting to squeeze off his head. The other wrapped about a tarsus holding a pistol, forcing him to drop it. His mandibles gnawed about nervously and his wings extended up in instinctual alarm, but he stayed focused and fired two quick blasts into the creature’s brain with the second pistol. It emitted some sort of high pitched cry that overloaded his sensory waves, released the hold of its tendrils, and fell from the wall. It reeled in its tendrils in an abrupt moment, withered and twisted as its cry hit a climatic fever pitch and then instantly laid still and silent. The baby had awoken and was crying.
Cautiously he approached his still foe. Experience had taught him to kick them over to assure their death. Someone was coming down the hall, he must leave unseen and with the creature. The humans must not know of their existence. The baby was very upset and crying loudly. He kicked over the hump. Not dead. Tendrils shot out in a circular pattern from around an open orifice with fleshy flaps and tiny sharp fangs that guarded its entrance. The tendrils wrapped themselves swiftly about his body and it pulled itself up onto him, attaching and biting into his prothorax. The door knob turned. With advanced speed he opened the window and squeezed out onto the side of the house, his bottom legs digging into it in an attempt to find purchase. His wings spread and began flapping at an extreme rate of speed creating a loud humming sound, milliseconds later he flew from the house with the creature biting into him.
He landed in a grove of trees close by. The ground was muddy with puddles of water from the days of constant rain, and his four bottom legs had a difficult time finding hold as he wrestled with the creature. It pulled its sucking maw deeper into his chest. He clasped the creature between the femur and tibia of his large upper legs, sinking the spikes into its flesh, and began cutting and chewing through the creature’s thick skin with his mandibles, feeding. His palps tore into it and he devoured sections of its body in an attempt to kill it as fast as possible. Within seconds the creature died and it fell from his body as its tendrils went limp. Wounded, thick white juice running from a sizable hole in him, he carried the hump to his car. He was not too worried about being seen now; the city died after dark, not a soul on the street as the humans cowed in their homes stricken with fear. He put the creature in the cargo hold of his car. Then he pressed a series of buttons on a console in his belt and a long line of ultraviolet light appeared directly before him. It opened up to form a large box of the same light and millions of tiny pieces of radiance flew out of it, swirling about in the air before him until they began to attach to each other and form the enormous, slightly pudgy, man disguise he had donned earlier. His natural body seemed to contort and bend into that interdimensional box and then it closed and phased out of sight. He was now this stubbly faced and thinning haired humongous man, clothed in plain slacks, a light sweater and rain jacket, with red blood spilling from a hole in his chest. He grabbed some rags from the cargo hold and pressed them into the wound, got into the car and raced toward his apartment building.
Once within the sanctity of his apartment, he bandaged the wound and changed his clothes. He relaxed into a leather recliner positioned before the patio door, and as he calmed he realized horribly that he had left a gun on the floor of the baby’s room. He must assume now that the police will use that as evidence in the babies’ kidnappings. If he were human he would curse aloud. His mind merely began to logically deduce how he would handle this latest misfortune. He will devour the creature’s remains at his next feeding cycle.
The rain cascaded off the awning like a waterfall. Underneath it, at a table on the patio of Café Calliope, Jim sipped from his cup of coffee and attempted a smile. Elizabeth, he had asked her name in the car, sat across from him with Chamomile tea. She did not return his grace.
“It had happened about five weeks ago. I put her to bed and gave her a kiss on the forehead. The next morning she was gone.” She had spoken with strength and without emotion.
“How old was she?”
“Two,” and suddenly a tear could not be forced back, and it rolled down her cheek.
Jim was trying to determine how much he actually cared about this woman and her trauma; after all he had just met her. Yes, she was attractive, but that didn’t mean he cared for her. He couldn’t decide, but somewhere in his chest a stirring occurred and he concluded that he would find out.
He reached across the table and softly smoothed the tear into her cheek with his fingers. “Hey, there’s nothing you can do.” It was an attempt to comfort from a person with no experience in such matters, and it didn’t work.
“Damn it! That’s what I’m trying to say. That I don’t buy that excuse, there is something I can do. I can find my baby!”
Jim tried to change the subject a little, “What’s her name?”
“He’s on Earth, and he doesn’t know.”
“How can he not know? Surely this is making the news feeds on Earth?”
“Because he is an ignorant asshole.”
“Oh I see,” Jim sat back in his chair.
Elizabeth thought she better elaborate. “We came here a month after we were married. Steven was a carpenter and, as you know, there was plenty of work here on Taneria once the settlements started mining the precious metals and ores. I mean, you know, the planet boomed. Towns grew into cities with businesses moving here needing factories and offices built, as well as restaurants and clubs. I mean, what, the population quadrupled in a matter of months?”
“Yeah, it’s been great. My business is making record sales as people build and remodel homes, and the night life was great here for awhile.”
“Well not long after we moved here our marriage began turning ugly. I found out he was cheating on me, and had been since we were dating. I tried to work it out with him, mainly because I was a couple months pregnant, but he couldn’t do it. Somehow knowing that I knew about his affairs collapsed his ego and hurt his pride so much that not only did he want to end the marriage; he also wanted to return to Earth. I could see it in his eyes, he was deeply ashamed. Not of what he had done, but that he had gotten caught. Our marriage, our baby, meant nothing to him. He left me for his wanton life and I have neither spoken to, nor heard from him, in over two and half years.”
“I see. Well, how do you suppose we find your daughter?” He scarcely believed his own words. He guessed that he was beginning to care for this woman, at least enough to help.
Elizabeth’s face lit up with excitement, “You’ll help? Oh that’s fantastic! Everybody else I have asked thought I was crazy for even suggesting such a thing.”
Jim smiled. “Hey, I didn’t say you weren’t crazy. Hell, you most likely are. What I am saying is that I must be also. I want to help you if I can. So what’s your plan?”
Sipping from her tea, Elizabeth closed her eyes as she gathered her thoughts. “The night Clarissa was stolen the house was locked shut, every window, every door. The next morning there was one door unlocked. That is where we’ll begin, the cellar.”
“Yes, the door leading from the cellar to the kitchen. There is no door leading from the cellar to the outside.”
Jim was confused, “That makes no sense. How the hell did the abductor get into and out of your cellar without breaking the lock on the door, or even leaving the cellar windows unlocked?”
“Precisely my point, that gap in reason and logic is a clue. The police didn’t believe me; they assumed I must have forgotten to lock it. I didn’t forget, it was locked!” She didn’t shout that last statement, just sternly stressed it as factual.
“OK…” Jim was intrigued and allowed his mind to explore the possible reasons that would explain such an odd set of circumstances. He was, frankly, perplexed. He glanced at his watch and instantly stood up when he realized the time. “I have to get back to work; can I get in touch with you tonight to discuss this further?”
“Yes, why don’t you come over for dinner. That way I can show you the cellar.”
The grey night suffocated the last rays of sunlight, that only moments before had broken through the clouds. He raised his head from its resting place on his chest, were it had remained throughout the day. The city lights spoke to him, and he listened, cocking an ear in their direction. They buzz and click as electricity pushes into them, the flowing of energy pulsating as it travels throughout the grid. Opening the patio door, he stepped through and walked to stand at the far railing. He closed his eyes, concentrating on his senses.
The hum of electricity running through wires. The crash and clang of satellite signals crossing in the air and bouncing off buildings. Lethal gases and smoke blowing in the wind from engines cranking and contorting. The cars whining on their tracks as they transverse the rain soaked streets. Mouths munching nightly meals of beef, vegetable and bread. Throats gulping beer, wine, milk and juice. The smack of a fist hitting soft skin, shouts of physical and mental pain. Laughter, deep and hearty, rumbling with pleasure. Moans and grunts, slurpings and soft touches. The hum of human life came through loud and clear, but it wasn’t what he was looking for. He concentrated harder, trying to get through the surface, deeper into the bowels of the city.
Beneath the dirt; inside the soil, the clatter of tiny insects busy at work. The vibrations of snake and worm as they wind through their tunnels. And there, not too far down, buried not but a foot or two, it moved. He could feel it now, his senses locked on. It was as large as a monitor lizard, hungry with purpose, in search of its prey. He knows where it is, and has a good idea where it is going.
Long shards of glass shattered upon the roof. Echoing. Resounding through the halls of his thoughts. Long thin streams of water splashed upon the windshield as the vehicle glided smoothly along the pathway, passing lighted dwellings seated on vacant streets. Inside a man, tall and thick, his skin rough and his back straight, maneuvered his way to the city park, unafraid.
It is the era of the fallen sky, and it has the people of Galendein locked scared behind their doors. He remained unafraid, always. Courage motivating his body, fear feeding his soul, and strength holding his mind together. But he hears the glass break, the rain splashes in his vision, and the vehicle slides along the track in the street. He has located the dark spot. The place is deep within the woods of the park, and he raced through the empty night with frantic urgency. They challenged his accession with faint illusion of sight and sound, it was insignificant to him now, and they were not close enough yet. But every moment brought him nearer until the city lights faded and the dwellings were few and far between. Beautiful green trees and bush lined the road, he was in the park now and shards of glass crashed into his vehicle with tremendous force. Concentrating through the facade the glass splashed and became water. Leaving the car in a lot, he trudged through the mud and the bush underneath the large sheltering trees. He stopped before it; darkness rested upon its entrance and filled its belly. Pushing through the bushes and into the unholy den, sinister colorless energy moved though his hair, licked at his skin. It filled him, took his soul and crushed it, emptying its essence into the void, stealing his warmth. Dead babies hung from the trees.
He left with eyes burning cold. Back within his vehicle, he steered it along the winding track built within the pavement. The rain does not hinder his driving; he is well connected to the road. The vehicle is short and bulbous with tiny fins built into the back and front. He parked it in front of his apartment complex and went inside. He lived alone, the apartment sparsely furnished. It smelled of stale wood and mildew. Standing before the glass door to the balcony he looked out upon the quiet city below, the sun rising behind the clouds, and bowed his head.
Jim Hanlen didn’t like his job, but he didn’t hate it either. It was just so boring sometimes, waiting for customers to come in with their desires to remodel and build. There were a few hundred different kinds of tile, hundreds of shapes and sizes, and hundreds of colors and designs to choose from. Not a big time tile outlet, just a small department of a department store. When the customers did come in, they usually didn’t want his help. Most had already paid an interior decorator to come up with the exact size, shape and color. Yeah, he was bored out of his stinking mind. It paid well though, and at his young age of twenty-seven it was easy to spend it and have lots of fun. At least that was the case before the rains came, bringing gloom and depression to the people of Galendein, city of the province Alentone. The rains came fierce and unexpected to this usually sunny land. The endless rains, and with them the stalkers who stole babies and young children.
On the night of the first day of the rains, someone was believed to have entered through an open window in the living room. The Steltons first newborn was missing from her crib the next morning, not a sign of her anywhere. Baby Stelton was only the first. Every night from that day to this one, over two months later, a young child has been stolen. Each one as mysteriously as the first, no trace or sign of any sort ever left behind. Panic and fear had seized the people’s minds of this city, life went on naturally during the day, but at night the city died.
“Damn police, what are they good for?” Jim had his head resting upon his hand and his eyes had been staring into middle distance when he heard the young woman’s voice. He straightened up and focused, and saw her standing to his right at the end of the counter. Brown hair flowed over and around a fragile face. Violet lipstick colored flowery soft lips and a fading tan brightened smooth ambrosia skin. Her frame was thin and small, but her body was strong with round hips, soft robust thighs and ample breasts that had a charm all their own. She was wearing a light, beige rain jacket and tight blue slacks. Under her right arm was a folded umbrella and in her hands was a net pad, her brown eyes fixed squarely upon the screen, her brow wrinkled.
“She’s attractive…sexy,” thought Jim, “but…”
“I mean,” she said looking up in his direction, “what do we pay them for?” She did not expect the question to be answered, nor was it. “These abductions happen every night, without occurrence. It’s like these people can just walk into those houses and do whatever.” Her face had reddened and she had been angrily gesturing with her right hand.
“Well,” said Jim coolly, he had been thinking on this subject for quite some time, “that’s exactly why the police can’t stop it. No witnesses, fingerprints, signs of any kind. These children go to sleep at night and the next morning their gone, vanished. In a couple cases the parents were sleeping in the same room, or bed, with the children. They neither heard nor saw a thing. You can’t blame the police, this case is something supernatural, and they are merely human. You, nor I, could do any better.”
Brushing her long hair back with her hand, she looked Jim directly in his blue eyes, “I bet we could.”
The wild statement took Jim quite by surprise. Still he retorted, “Don’t you understand? There’s nothing to go on, no trail, no clues, not even a ransom, just missing children and fear. If you concentrate real hard you can even smell the stink of death that those children surely met.”
He had gotten to her. She stared through him with wide open eyes and was sucking on her lower lip. Jim slicked his medium length black hair back and folded his hands behind his head, sighing. Why had he become so bothered by this woman’s suggestions? Was it the tension and fear of this whole phenomenon pressing down on him, or was his pride bruised by the helplessness of the situation this whole city was in?
“I’m sorry,” she said after a moment. “It’s just that there has to be something someone can do to end these horrible crimes.” Tears welled in her eyes, and Jim sighed and came from behind the counter and put his arms around her shoulders in an attempt to console her. She relaxed, easing into him, and put her arms around his waist and her face into his chest and shoulder. She started crying and he knew that this wasn’t just something she was reading on the net pad or watching on the news, it had happened to someone she knew, maybe even to her. Sniffling, she raised her head from his shoulder and pulled away, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright; this must be a trying time for you.” She opened her mouth to speak, but he pressed a finger to her lips. “Listen. I get a break in ten minutes. Why don’t I buy you lunch to make up for my insensitive remarks, and we can talk about it.”
Every weekend there is a line around the block, from 7 am to 3 am, for the local black magic doughnut explosion. People, most of whom drive into the city from the suburbs, waiting in line for doughnuts that are really no better then the ones at the Fred Meyer bakery. Save the gas, money, and time; there’s a Freddy’s in your neighborhood, and the doughnuts are a lot cheaper. Just buy a box of Coco Pebbles (or whatever sugar cereal floats your boat) and sprinkle some on top. Fry up some bacon and lay a couple slices on top of a maple bar; do it yourself and you can enjoy it fresh and hot. Yummers! Ah Americans and their bloated, self-indulgent, frivolous ways. The privileged elite, entitled to all the world has to offer no matter what the cost, and more. Always more.
The election of 2010, the house turned by the Tea Party Movement; overpaid white folks concerned that our government’s ‘out of control’ spending and resulting budget deficit increase will mean higher taxes for them and their privileged children in the future, and one less car in their garage. Oh the humanity! A deficit hole deepened already by an unnecessary invasion that further destabilized a region already upset with us for meddling in their affairs (to which I say to them: welcome to the cost of big business). A war, let’s face it, fought for the sake of our economy. Oil is the fuel of the economic engine, for us and the world. We had to protect our interest and guard against the possibility of losing some access to the substance that feeds our insatiable appetite for power and money.
Was this enough for the Wall Street Fat Cats? They sold stocks for equity that didn’t exist, loaned people money to buy houses with high mortgage rates that they would never be able to fully pay, and they defaulted. The market collapsed. But hey, this is a capitalist system, that’s how it goes. They failed, cheated and lied, made bad investments, fair enough, let them fall. Oh no, we can’t do that, all these over-paid middle class white people will suddenly be poor and have to rely on government subsidies and welfare programs to eat and function in American society. The very programs they abhor. The horror! The government has to do something, the government has to bail them out with money it doesn’t have. Whew! That was close! But that’s not enough to stop companies from laying off lower middle class workers. Unemployment rate rises.
What are we going to do? What a mess. Who has a plan? Not a critique of a plan, but a plan! Along comes a man in a position to present a plan that everyone will hear. He obtains the highest elected office and is in a position to put forth a series of ideas that will promote jobs, education, innovation, and progression. Is it a quick fix? Nothing worth doing, that will last, can be done quickly with immediate results, nothing done on such a grand scale anyway. Especially not when you go up against old money and old ways of thinking. It will take years to see results, but when they come they will be worth the wait. The country will be better, cleaner, brighter and a new less destructive age will be at hand.
It is not fast enough for wealthy, entitled Americans worried that they will be asked to help with the cost of sustaining growth and funding programs that help their fellow citizen, that grow their country. After all, that second car, third tv, surround sound system, yearly vacation, country club membership, new suit, new shoes don’t pay for themselves you know. It’s not fast enough for bitter working class people stuck in dark corners and looking to blame anyone they can except themselves. Blinding themselves to the events of the recent past it’s easy blame the current leaders in power, even if they have been in power for only a short time. Worried that they may be asked to be true patriots, and just tighten their belts and push on through for a better America tomorrow. We have to stem the tide now! Something must be done now! With results we can see today! We must elect politicians that will cut ‘costly’ programs that fund and protect education, clean air and water, fair trade and communication, welfare, health, oh and yeah, some of our excessive defense spending. Cutting domestic programs that account for only 1% of federal budget spending, that help keep the disenfranchised poor from rising up and protesting in the streets against the self-important, overpaid and self-entitled wealthy. Whoops. Oh and we cut police funding as well, so now there won’t be enough of them to protect you when the people that had funded heat, shelter and food suddenly don’t and take to rioting. Meanwhile our education suffers, our air and water become more polluted, our weather gets worse, and our ecosystem dissolves. Whoops, no funds for emergency programs. So instead of building for a better tomorrow, while sustaining a sense of equilibrium today, and eventually being able to reduce the deficit by growing our economy and raising some taxes for the overpaid, we dissolve into further, deeper, decay.
Oh yeah, the GOP? The GOP will do anything that is pro-wealthy, anti-liberal, against the opposing party, without compromise, just to be contrary, no matter whether it is logical or not. They will publicly and privately promote dissidence that is borderline traitorous as long as their party does not hold the presidency, capitalizing on any and every mistake made, pushing their agenda whether it destroys the fabric of our country or not.