Copyright Fallon Sousa 2015
Dedicated to all the “Aliens” out there
Shakespir Edition License Notes: This free ebook may NOT be copied, distributed, reposted, reprinted and shared without permission of the author
It was a cold, bleak, December night in New York City, Christmas Eve, in fact. Yet, without any falter in their enthusiasm based on the weather, Maggie and Arthur Davidson were preparing for the holidays just as they did each year. Earlier that day, Maggie had gone to the grocery store and bought everything they had needed. She had picked up the turkey, the wine, and side dishes of cranberries, green beans, and her famous honey bread, which she planned to drown in melted butter, despite warnings from her doctor that she needed to watch her weight.
Their four-year-old son, Lionel, who was supposed to be asleep, appeared suddenly just as Maggie and Arthur were dragging boxes of Christmas decorations up from the basement.
“Why aren’t you asleep, Sweetie Pie?” Maggie asked her son. “You know that tomorrow is Christmas. Santa won’t bring you any presents unless you go to bed early like a good boy.” Maggie, a pudgy blonde woman of thirty-two, was still happy about Christmas, and happy to see her son, but she was just a little bit annoyed that he did not want to go to bed.
“But, I don’t wanna,” he said, tears building up in his eyes and snot running down his little button nose. His mother could sense a tantrum coming on. She realized that it would not be easy to get Lionel to go to bed, especially not when he was just so excited that it would be Christmas the next day.
“Come on, honey, just go to bed,” she told her son again, sensing for some strange reason that he needed to sleep and that he would be much safer upstairs. Just then, her husband, Arthur, entered the room.
“What’s the matter, Mags?” he asked. “Is our little pookie bear too wound up about the holidays to go to sleep? Did you tell him that Santa Claus only gives presents to the good little boys and girls?”
“Yes, I did already tell him that,” Maggie said, her patience slowly running out with every word that she spoke. She just had a feeling that Lionel belonged upstairs. Then, she got an idea.
“Well, Lionel,” she began. “What if Mr. Santa Claus gives you an extra present tomorrow for going upstairs to your room and sleeping in, oh, let’s say…the next ten minutes. How about that?” Maggie was smirking now, beginning to believe that her idea for getting her son to bed was working. Perhaps her parenting skills were finally improving. It had only taken her four years to get there.
“Okay, Mommy,” the boy said sincerely, his tears finally beginning to dry up from his big blue eyes, and his cute little pre-Christmas smile returning to his small round face. “I’ll get to bed in one minute, Mommy.”
Good boy, Lionel,” she said, smiling, just as Lionel ran up the stairs to his room, his tiny feet pounding much harder than one would expect of a forty-pound toddler.
Maggie turned to her husband. “See, Arthur, I think I am finally getting better at this,” she said, laughing.
Arthur laughed right back at her. “You sure are,” he said, “You sure are.”
“Now,” Maggie began. “Why don’t we get started on those Christmas decorations?” She asked him, hinting that there might be a little something more to her plan.
“That’s a great idea,” Arthur replied, not quite catching on to his wife’s full intentions. He got up and walked across the living room to where a cardboard box was lying by the door to the basement, just as he had left it earlier. They got out the Christmas tree, and, together, they picked up each ornament from the box and began placing them on the rough, broccoli-colored branches.
“Oh, Arthur, look at this one,” Maggie said, holding up a porcelain angel. It was entirely white except for the tiny little decals around the angel’s wings, which consisted of tiny red and green dots, placed symmetrically along the curve of each delicate little wing.
“Oh my God,” I’d forgotten about that one. It was my grandmother’s, right?” he asked, a puzzled expression forming on his tan face; his green eyes done injustice by the furrowing of his eyebrows. Maggie loved him so much. She hoped that he knew that.
“And, what about this one, Mags?” he chuckled, waving an ornament shaped like a beer bottle in front of her face. “I’ve had this since college.”
“Arthur, throw that old thing away!” Maggie replied teasingly. When she saw her husband’s face fall, she returned with much lighter remark. “I was just kidding, honey,” she added. “I know you love that thing.”
“You know I do.” Arthur was actually pretty serious when he said this.
“Besides,” Maggie added, smirking flirtatiously, “I have my own secret box of trinkets from when I was in college.”
“You do not,” he said, almost as if he weren’t so sure. Just to check, he looked over at his wife to check her expression and study it for clues as to whether or not she was hiding anything from him in regards to her life before they had met. Her face, especially when she burst out laughing at his stare, told him that she was not. He was right. He smiled.
“Arthur, honey, can we just, well, I don’t know, uh, finish this tree so we can find something better to do?” She winked at him this time.
Finally catching on to her sentiment, Arthur responded to Maggie’s subtle proposal. “Sounds great,” he said. “And I mean that when I say it.” She laughed, and they went back to decorating the Christmas tree. It was going to be a great holiday. Or so they thought. As Maggie, her brown eyes glistening in the light of the shiny holiday decorations, placed the last of her favorite blue snowflake ornaments on their sweet-smelling pine, her husband, whom their son had taken after when it came to his stubbornness, reached for the golden star topper. He was determined to put it on the tree by himself, despite the fact that he was only five foot six, and the tree was nine feet tall at the very least.
He climbed a worn-out blue ladder that had been sitting against the living room wall for this very purpose.
“Watch out,” Maggie said. “You could fall and break your leg or something.”
“I’ll be fine,” He replied. “Don’t you worry about me.” He truly believed that he could do anything. Well, just about anything, that was. He began to climb the ladder slowly, just in case, though he would never even dream of admitting so, his wife was right about the dangers of a combination of the ladder and himself. Just then, they heard a subtle knock at the door.
“I wonder who that is,” Maggie stated curiously, her eyebrows raising ever so slightly in response to the knock. The Davidsons were not expecting to receive any visitors until the following day, which, of course, happened to be Christmas. Maggie, her curiosity beginning to get the best of her, even if she was normally suspicious of any such occurrence, particularly so late at night, began walking towards the heavy wooden door, which was painted the same shade of red as the holly berries on the wreath that hung from it.
“Ah, darling, don’t bother,” Arthur replied, not feeling very up to having visitors of any kind, especially after the frank suggestions his wife had previously made about what the two of them might do when they were finished decorating their Christmas tree.
“We’re done with visitors today,” he continued. “They’re probably just carolers, and haven’t we heard enough music for today?” he questioned earnestly.
“We sure have heard plenty of music today,” Maggie added. And, to be quite honest, it was true. That very morning, before the clock had even struck seven, the couple had enjoyed an array of holiday tunes that had streamed from their beat-up old radio as they had cleaned their home and lit cinnamon-scented candles.
There was another knock at the door. “Should I get that after all?” Maggie asked, sounding disappointed at the thought of her night being interrupted by guests, even if it was often customary for guests to appear at various homes unannounced at that particular time of the year.
“Of course not,” said Arthur, laughing as he put his arms around Maggie’s broad waist, and pulled her closer to him, silencing her with a kiss.
Little did they know it was to be their last, for just at that moment, the door barged completely open, and, with what they then saw, their embrace ended. Maggie, who was not at all the type of person to expect the worst from any situation, let out a scream as she was stabbed through the chest with a strange device that more or less resembled a fencing sword, only made of a surprisingly sharp, clear rubber material unlike anything known to earth. The last thing she saw, as deep red blood poured from her wound and onto the recently polished floor, was something that she would never have dreamed of seeing in her worst nightmares; a robber.
At the sound of her scream, Arthur suddenly dropped the gold star on the ground, shattering it to pieces. He did not even have time to react to the loss of his beloved wife and soulmate; his Maggie. Nothing could have ever prepared him for the sight that now presented itself before his very eyes. He had never imagined in his entire life that anyone would ever want to rob him. After all, he was not a rich man, but a simple carpenter; the husband of a school-teacher.
Pieces of the broken star were now sticking straight into the leg of the eerie and strange man who was standing next to Arthur, holding the same weapon an arm’s length from his head. The man then penetrated deep into Arthur’s left eyeball with the sword, its unusual chemistry more powerful than anything known to Earth and to mankind. His life force drained from the socket, as the strange sword had penetrated his brain. Blood spilled over the floor and spattered the walls at high velocity. Both Arthur and Maggie were dead on contact with the wounds which this foreigner bestowed upon them.
Once they had assuredly reached their demise, the strange man, who was, in fact, quite pleased with himself in that he had just killed his targets without any sort of mercy for their fates as he granted them, took on his true form, which was even more frightening than the one which he had presented to the Davidsons as he murdered them in cold blood. In his flexible, clear armor, his electric white skin could have blended with the falling snow outside. His orange hair contrasted with that of his five-year-old daughter, whose wavy mane was a deep shade of royal purple. However, they, as all others who shared their genetic material, shared the same bright yellow eyes. Others from their home bore irises of other hues, many of which were equivocally eccentric and generally bizarre.
He was from an extraterrestrial planet called Zebda, where the primate beings were unable to feel emotions in such a way that the humans of Earth did. For centuries, the Zebdians had been desperate to acquire the Earthlings’ ability to perceive emotions, particularly the human emotion of love, which they knew to be the most powerful emotion of all that had ever existed.
“My young daughter,” he said, turning to the child, “Come with me, and test the antidote for coldness on this young foreigner.” He and his people had devised a plan to later extract this antidote; this cure, from the boy someday, when the time was right.
It was then, as he approached the stairs, that he noticed how his daughter had been watching the boy all this time. Having left his bed some time ago, he had unknowingly seen his parents killed, as these strangers had now come to realize. The tiny child was standing at the bottom of the stairs, his fragile hands clenching on to the cherry banister with all of his might, as if his life depended on it. It seemed as if the boy was under the illusionary assumption that the strange and ruthless man did not have the power to obliterate the young boy just as he had done to his mother and his father.
But, out of complete and utter fear of these strange monsters that now stood before him, the young boy, Lionel, the son of those just annihilated , had not spoken as of late. The boy ran up to his room, running quickly and ineptly with his inherent fright.
And, so, the foreigner and his daughter, whose was of nearly equal age to the boy, Lionel, and who also seemed to hold an unusual and rather curious interest in the young boy, went up and followed him to his tidy bedroom. They found the boy, who was still quite drowsy, as he had been asleep already when the commotion started, lying in a little oaken bed, a glass of water on his matching nightstand, and every single dirty sock placed in a mesh folding hamper the color of the sun.
“Stand back, please, young one,” he said to his daughter, while retrieving his most prized needle, which held the cure for such apathy with which all Zebdians were plagued. He then injected the little boy in his right arm with the black ink-like fluid that had taken years for Zebdian scientists to develop in response to their people’s desperation to find a means of understanding humans more fully, even if it meant acquiring their weaknesses, coupled with their equally potent desire for the ability to love the spouses with which they bore their offspring, as many Zebdians were known to kill each other after their mates became incapable of bearing any additional young, which he had in fact done, though he waited to obliterate his partner until after a year after she first failed to bear him another child, though, as she had been helpful to his political cause, the primary justification which he held for destroying her had been because she could not keep herself away from the stoic interests of much younger and even much more handsome, though, in fact, far less powerful, army men.
“If this works on the boy, it may work on us,” The man said somewhat indirectly to his daughter, but mostly to himself, as she was likely too young to comprehend some of the more complex evils of Zebda despite the future which she was destined to have as per her birthright as the eldest of his offspring.
“If it kills him, we will know not to use it,” He added with typical Zebdian social bluntness and obscurity. The strange man, like all others on Zebda, his home planet, was quite matter-of-fact and did not care about the young boy’s safety at all. For that matter, he really only cared about his own, and, it was not so much that he cared for his own safety, as the entire species to which he belonged were conceived with the incapability to express care in regards to any matter. Therefore, the true motive behind his reasoning was more so that he wanted his own safety. On Zebda, selfish want was not considered a true emotion, and it so happened to be all that the Zebdians ever knew, yet, it was exactly that. They knew it, but they could not feel it.
As the last of the pitch-black fluid flowed into Lionel’s young veins, he looked up, not knowing at all what to expect from these extraterrestrials. He then saw the unusual prettiness of the strange girl standing beside this evil being.
He looked into her yellow eyes, and they lit up. Right then, the minute she saw him looking at her, something was awoken in her and Lionel felt it too. Then, just as quickly as it had come, the young girl turned away and was resurrected from this state. Again, at once, her father’s coldness returned, and the light left her eyes. The strange man’s eyes then began to spin, and it put Lionel into a hypnotic trance so that he would forget all that he had seen.
The man and his daughter, wishing to return home to their own planet, willed themselves there, and, within moments, they were encased in a bright, neon green light, which surrounded their pale and slender bodies in the same way that a corpse would be encased in the coffin that separated its nonexistence with that of the living world. Back on their home planet of Zebda, the man and his daughter entered their center, called a Haklar, and the man returned to his throne, as he was the Armpha; the leader; of Zebda.
The Haklar was composed completely of a single element; the same element which composed the swords that Zebdians often used to murder those who stood in the way of their own personal successes. Through their study of Earth’s sciences, they had come to know that the element, called Yalmax by Zebdians, had a molecular mass of twenty-seven and was composed entirely of a peculiar mass of neutrons.
“Armpha, Blekrin,” a young scientist-soldier named Wumlok called out to the strange man. “Have you had any success on planet Earth in regards to our latest experiment?” He seemed as if he really wanted to know the answer to that question immediately.
“Yes, Wumlok, indeed I have found much great success in the matter of the Umblof Project. I suspect that, within the next decade or two, we will be capable of extracting the antidote for apathy from our host, who happens to be a young boy about the age of my Samakri. I believe, though I may stand corrected, that the boy’s name is Lionel. He is of a place in the United States portion of Earth, called New York City.”
“Perfect, Armpha Blekrin,” Wumlok replied. He seemed very much pleased, if that was at all possible for a Zebdian, with Blekrin’s progress on the Umblof Project. “I can hardly wait to bask in our success some time in the very near future,” he continued.
Eighteen-year-old Lionel Davidson had not been many things in his young life, but he had for sure always been an outcast. His past was hazy to him, but he remembered the gist of how it had been. He had been a carefree boy, playing and laughing and loving his parents, for most of his early life. He recalled faintly a time when his parents had taken him on a family vacation to DisneyLand, although he could not remember it all that well. The only thing he could still recall with clarity was a strawberry-flavored cotton candy that he had gotten from a small food booth at the theme park. He also remembered that he had to wait in line for a very long time in order to get the cotton candy. He could still smell its fruity sweetness, taste its goodness, and feel the sugar melting on his little tongue as his parents made a futile attempt at telling him that cotton candy was not a healthy thing to eat, especially when one was a growing little boy.
All of this happiness, however faint it might be to him now, had come to a sudden end shortly after Lionel, named after his Zodiac sign of Leo, made his fourth year. Sometime right before Christmas, he had gone off to bed and woke up waiting for his Christmas presents, only to find the NYPD hovering over the mutilated bodies of his parents instead. They had tried to keep him away from the crime scene, but to no avail. Besides, despite not remembering very much, amidst the haziness surrounding the event was a strange feeling that Lionel had seen his parents’ bodies before that instance.
The police had ruled the event of their deaths as a break in gone bad. However, there had appeared to be nothing stolen from the Davidsons’ quaint little house. Ever since, he had been bounced back and forth from foster home to foster home, never finding a real family in any of them. In fact, many of these surrogate families only tortured and abused, or, in the very best cases, neglected Lionel.
Of course, he did not find solace at his school, Sam White High, as he was treated as a senseless freak by the other students, despite his handsome appearance, which sported a muscular build, tall stature, and blue eyes that contrasted nicely with his thick black hair. Lionel trudged along the gravel parking lot in his ill-fitting sneakers, with the bottoms of his worn-out jeans all frayed and dirty. A few feet away, the most popular of all senior girls, Marcy Hellman, walked over to him, her high heels clicking as she walked, and her ruffled miniskirt swaying in the wind.
“What are you looking at, Freak?” she asked, her mouth turning into a snarl at the corners as she spoke.
“Leave me alone, Marcy. I’m not bothering you. I never try to bother anybody.” Lionel was quite tired of such bullies pestering him when he was just minding his own business, trying to “chill” as the popular kids would call it, and be left to the slight comfort of his own thoughts.
“Yeah,” said Marcy’s stocky blonde boyfriend, Scott, who everyone called ‘Scotch’ after his favorite beverage, which he drank in excess. “Maybe somebody should have left your parents alone, too,” he continued, taking a swig from a bottle of scotch that kept on swinging dangerously from his reddened hand.
Within seconds, Lionel’s fist pinned Scotch down to the floor, and, as he punched the boy repeatedly, he could see how Marcy’s blood boiled.
“That’s for what you said, and for being such a tool,” he said to the bleeding and bruised Scotch. Marcy helped Scotch up and they walked away, whispering about Lionel just as everyone else at Sam White High always did.
Angry, Lionel jumped into his beat-up black pickup and drove to the rundown apartment building on the corner of a bad neighborhood, where his current foster mother, Carla, lived with her cats, a few assorted babies of her own, and, of course, Lionel. He knew for sure that she did not love him like a son, but only kept him until his release from the system as a way to supplement her measly welfare check and take care of her own children and pets. Lionel barged through the hollow apartment door, going straight to his tiny six-by-eight bedroom, without even acknowledging Carla, who happened to be nursing one of her babies at the time.
Once inside, he glanced at the peeling flowered wallpaper, hideous orange carpets, and the pale ceiling which could cave in at any time. He threw his green backpack onto the unmade bed, and started on his history homework, but, as usual, gave up after a few minutes. What was the point? There were only a few more days of high school left, and he had been accepted into quite a few colleges, but he had planned to major in science, not history. Besides, he had later declined his acceptances to all of them because he was not able to find the means to pay the high tuition rates, and Carla certainly could not help him out, as she had very little of her own money, and would not be willing to share any of it. Instead, he fired up his mp3 player, jamming to the heavy metal that blasted from his headphones.
Lionel had always preferred the trance-like variety, as he often felt as if he were from another world altogether. When he listened to music, even if it was only for a few minutes, he felt as if, in the moment, all of his troubles had simply melted away. Surely, though, once the last note of a song fell from his ears and scattered into the darkness of his broken mind, all of the misery that he had attempted to avoid came hurling back at him, only it had multiplied at least three-fold.
People were always making fun of him for having dead parents, and he always defended them, yet he never knew who they had been. Just then, Lionel realized that even music could not keep his mind off of things at this point. Frustrated, he grabbed his light spring jacket, which, like his hair, was a deep ebony, from a green moon chair that sat in the mostly empty corner, appearing just as lonely ad Lionel was.
Lionel was done with this life. He had decided to leave this place for good. He did not care about school. He did not care about Carla, or about Marcy, or about Scotch. He did not care about anyone else in the entire universe. For the first time in Lionel’s life, the only one he really cared about was himself. He then craftily wormed himself past his bedroom, and, after getting through the grimy one-car garage, he snuck out of the decrepit apartment, walking away from the unpromising ghetto for what he thought would be forever, and towards Grand Central Station.
By the time he arrived, it was getting dark. At this point, Lionel had no idea what he’d been thinking when he left home. He had failed to think that, as would be the case, there would be no subway at that time. Lionel found a place to sit on the ashy ground of the empty station. He had never been so confused in his life. Just as he was beginning to lose every bit of hope that he had left, a strange looking girl of about twenty or so came seemingly out of nowhere. She was dressed normally, in grey skinny jeans and a black T-shirt. She had a lot of piercings, though, and her hair was dyed a weird shade of purple. Her skin was covered in so much makeup that it looked orange and she was wearing dark sunglasses. Yet, oddly, Lionel felt drawn to her. He was at a loss for words.
“I have been waiting many years for you to come here, Lionel,” she said suddenly.
“Who are you?” He asked, frightened. “How do you know my name? What is yours?”
“My name is Sama-ntha,” She struggled with the end of her name as if it brought piercing flames to her tongue. “We have met long ago, but you do not remember.”
Lionel did not know what to say. “Are you high?” He finally supplicated.
“I am not authorized to tell you how far up my location is, Lionel. “
“Whatever. Just get me out of here,” Lionel replied, not knowing this strange girl at all, yet feeling comfortable enough in her presence to go anywhere with her that she might want to go, even though he knew that could be a very dangerous thing to do.
The girl simply walked out of the subway station, beckoning for him to follow. He was hesitant, but he went anyway, trudging his feet along the cement lining the streets of New York City . They walked along for what seemed like forever. As they walked, they remained completely silent, and Lionel just took in the sights, sounds, and smells around him.
He could smell the tomato sauce drifting from his favorite Italian restaurant, and his mouth began to water so much that he could nearly taste his favorite pasta dish. He just had to have it that very second, or else he feared he would starve.
“Hey, Samantha,” he began, once again hesitant about what to do that would not upset or anger this strange girl. “Can we go in there? I’m kind of hungry. I haven’t really eaten all day, actually.”
“Fine,” the girl replied matter-of-factly. “But, we must not take more than a specific time which I have previously calculated and allotted for this purpose.” Man, she was one weird chick.
“And,” Lionel began. “How long might that be, pray tell?” He was just curious as to whether or not the girl would be at least somewhat reasonable in the amount of time that she had supposedly “allotted” for him to eat based on her “previous calculations.”
“I believe it is the equivalent of ten minutes here,” she said.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” He said to her. “How am I supposed to eat in ten minutes? Huh?”
“Eight point seventy-three minutes,” she answered him with exact precision.
“Okay, then,” he replied coolly, “Let’s get to that.” Lionel was not going to add any more commentary, lest it destroy his chances of eating at the restaurant.
They sat at the checkered table of the restaurant, with Lionel hoping that the waitress would bring them their food very soon. After a minute or two, his wishes were granted.
“Here you go,” the pretty and charming young woman who had red hair and soft blue eyes, said to Lionel, smiling with a mouth of pearly white teeth as she placed a platter of spaghetti and meatballs in front of his seat at the cramped table. He dug in greedily and ate the majority of his food with much haste. Then, just before he was able to finish, the girl said, “Let us go now. Immediately, please.”
Damn, Lionel thought. She’s one tough cookie if I’ve ever seen one. He was not so sure that he understood this girl’s logic. To top it all off, or, to put the icing on the cake, as some people would say, the girl dragged him into the eeriest house that he had ever seen in his life. It had to have been abandoned for years, but it seemed strangely familiar. The girl did not speak, only made automated hand gestures. As Lionel walked through the peeling red door, he tripped and fell over a knocked-down Christmas tree, which seemed odd for the time of year.
“Get up,” the girl demanded coldly. “Why are you just lying around like that? Have you gone insane?” Her voice seemed almost robotic with its blunt, monotonous sound. Lionel, beginning to fear the girl, obeyed.
“We need to eat now. It is the proper time.”
“All right, then,” Lionel mumbled. He did not even bother to remind her that they had just eaten roughly an hour prior to entering this strange house. The girl went into a kitchen, apparently the only functional room in the house, as the others were so dusty and ridden with rodents that they were completely unmanageable. Not that the occasional rat did not scurry along the kitchen floor as well, because it did.
She got a cheap frying pan out of the dusty oak cabinet and poured instant pancake mix from a yellow jug into it, then proceeded to turn on a hot plate. At least it looked like a hot plate anyway. This thing worked so fast that she only had to flip the single large pancake once before it was entirely cooked.
Lionel reluctantly took his place at the old table, sitting in a chair so rickety that he felt as though his legs were swinging. Silently, the girl used a knife to cut the pancake into two half-circles, placing each on a paper plate. To his surprise—and delight—she filled two styrofoam cups with chocolate milk. They ate silently, and also rather quickly, as there was not exactly very much to eat in the first place.
“Now we must sleep. You must sleep there,” she said, pointing to the floor. She did not even care that Lionel might be uncomfortable sleeping in such a place.
“Gee, thanks,” he muttered under his breath. This chick really was crazy, that is, if he had ever seen a crazy chick before. She was even more nuts than Marcy Hellman and, that said a lot.
“Nothing,” replied Lionel, wondering if Samantha had a cat’s hearing.
He dramatically threw himself down onto the floor and pretended to fall asleep instantly, although he knew it was not likely that he would sleep at all. Yet, strangely enough, he did. He began to dream of many people who were just as strange as the girl, and they hovered over his bloody body, holding weapons ominously above him as he screamed in pain. Even in his slumber, he could feel himself sweating.However, sometime mid-night, he heard the girl stirring in her own sleep, even from some distance away, in a small and partially caved-in bedroom, though it was not too far from the main entrance of the home
He snuck in and stood over the bed where she slept, watching her toss and turn aimlessly. She muttered in a strange language that was unintelligible to him, her mop of purple hair and its adjoining head thrusting against the faded blue pillow. With the light of a bed lamp shining on her face, he could see that she had washed off her makeup. Her skin was so white that it was somewhat electric, like the color of freshly fallen snow. All of a sudden, her eyes opened. She was awake. He gasped, seeing that they were bright yellow and staring right back at him.
It seemed like forever that they were staring into each others eyes. Lionel wondered if the girl was dangerous; if she would kill him. Those eyes—they were not even remotely human. She was not human. He then began to wonder: Was he? Why did he even think that. Of course Lionel was human. But one thing was certain. The girl was not, and she could be dangerous. In that moment, he was afraid for his life. What was going to happen? And, then, the girl’s eyes were shut and she was asleep once more.
Lionel crept back to his corner of the living room floor, sleepily dragging his feet along the faded green carpet. Within seconds, it seemed, he had fallen back into a deep slumber. Before he knew it, morning had arrived. He awoke to the smell of another pancake. It was only the second time and he was already growing tired of them. Of course, he would not ever say that to the girl. He walked into the kitchen, but the girl did not notice him. Then, something caught his eye. On the upper part of her left arm, was a tattoo of the word Samakri. It then occurred to him that that was probably her real name; the reason why she had stuttered over the one she had given him.
Seeing that Lionel was staring at her tattoo, Samakri quickly covered it up with her hand, pretending as if she were scratching an itch.
“Why do you wear sunglasses all the time?” Lionel inquired, wondering why she would do such a thing. It did not make sense to him at all.
“I am from a place where we are not so accustomed to sunlight.” Gee, that makes even more sense to me, Lionel thought.
“Where are you from, Samakri?” Lionel asked rather inquisitively, fiddling with a fake diamond stud that he wore on his right ear.
“Do not ever call me that!” She said, throwing him a dangerous glare.
“I need to know who you are,” he replied, beginning to sense that something was terribly wrong with the girl, who he now knew as Samakri.
“You are much less prepared for the truth than what you might imagine, Lionel. Trust me now, and you will thank me later.” If anything that Samakri had said or done before had freaked Lionel out, this was definitely the topper.
There was quite a long pause following the conversation. Samakri seemed to be staring out into the sky through the grimy window of the old kitchen. Lionel looked down at the red and white checkerboard tablecloth until the squares began to move and melt into one blob of fuzzy pink nothingness. An ant was crawling towards his clenched fists. He wished he could just crawl along like the ant, without a care. Then, he became angry. The ant did not deserve to be happier than he was; it was only a stupid little bug. And, so, he crushed it with his fist, much in the same way that society had crushed his will to live and succeed.
“Never hurt a creature of simple mind, for they hold truths which many of us only hope to understand,” she said, breaking the silence at last.
“Please,” Lionel begged. “Tell me about yourself. You seem to know so much about me.”
“I can not tell you anything about myself or my past experiences,” she replied, and walked away. “Besides, I have somewhere to go.” Lionel wondered where Samakri could possibly be going that could be of any importance at such an inconvenient time.
Samakri went into the room where she was staying and locked the door. She had to report to her father now that she had Lionel with her. She marphed to her home planet, Zebda in an instant. The earthlings, she supposed, would call it teleportation, but that, like many things known to humans, was an inaccuracy. Within a billionth of a second, she was standing in the center of the haklar, facing the throne of chief armpha, Blekrin. Her father. The haklar was made completely of the element Yalmax, a transparent and highly flexible material with metallic properties. It may look like clear jam and feel like silicone, but when launched at high velocity, it could puncture any organ in the body, going straight through skin, muscle, and bone.
“Is our mission secure, daughter?” Blekrin asked.
“Yes, father. The young man, Lionel, is in my possession. When I have gained his trust, I will experiment on him so that I may analyze the effects of the drug Umblof on his ability to express emotion. Then I will calculate probable outcomes of use on our species based on the differences in our genetic composure. After that, I will destroy him so that our secrets will not be exposed to the earthlings.”
“Excellent, Samakri. But, whatever you do, you must not fall prey to the vices of humans, least of all those of corporeal significance.”
“You may cease any distress in relation to that matter. My sole loyalty is to Zebda and the success of our experiment. I must return to New York. Good Day.”
Within a mere matter of seconds, Samakri had marphed back to her room in the abandoned house, wondering if Lionel had any knowledge of her dark secrets. After all, she did not use the art of Jumvod to disguise herself as a human the way her father had instructed. Instead, she had gotten all caught up in using makeup and the body art of earthlings to make herself blend in. It seemed much more practical, as Jumvod would have required her to kill whomever she wished to impersonate and sacrifice their soul to the Zebdian experimenters. Samakri was lost in such thoughts when she heard Lionel knock on the door.
“Are you, okay, Sam?” he asked. “Is it okay for me to call you that?”
“I’m fine, and, yes, I suppose that ‘Sam’ is an acceptable term of address for me.”
“Good. What do you like to do for fun, Sam?”
“What is fun?”
“It’s sorta when someone does something that has nothing to do with their job or anything and they like it a lot, but sometimes, later, they wish they hadn’t gone through with it.”
“That sounds completely and utterly pointless,” she replied, looking rather confused as to why anyone would want to do anything of the sort. “Why on Earth, pardon the pun as your kind would say, would I wish to do such a thing?”
“Actually, it usually is, but I don’t really care until after it’s all over. Put on some nice clothes and a pair of high heels or something, because I am going to take you to a smashing club and let you feel the music,” Lionel responded with quite a bit of enthusiasm.
“How can you take me to a club. Is that not a blunt object which people use so that they may hit each other over the head and seriously maim or possibly kill them?” She seemed sincerely confused in such a manner that Lionel did not even know what he could possibly say to justify her complete lack of social skills.
“Wow, Sam. I guess you really don’t get out all that much.” That was about all he could come up with in response to her inept mannerisms and infinitely perplexing responses.
To Sam’s surprise, it did not take very long at to travel to this place which the Earthlings referred to as a “club.”. It was very hard to walk in the weird shoes with the sticks holding up the backs, though. Earthlings on the strange square portal, often referred to as a “television,” always called them “high heels” and Sam really did not see the point of such ridiculous fashion objects at all. Regardless of how much Lionel has talked about this place on the way there, nothing could have prepared her for what was inside. There were these strange lights in all different colors and lots of people were drinking beverages of all different colors that seemed to make them go completely insane. A girl about Sam’s age was on a platform singing. Lionel said her name was Loretta J. Apparently she did not have a last name like other earthlings. Strange. Samakri was fascinated by the music.
You were my hero, my bonafide
You were my savior, my shining knight
When life went wrong
You made it right
And then she came along,
I faced my fear
I was in need;
[_You disappeared _]
You are my poison, my cyanide
You are my evil, my afterlife
When I am lonely,
Alone I cry
Right from the beginning
Of my days living
[_You understood _]
What no one would
You were my hero, my bonafide
You were my savior, my shining knight
When life went wrong,
You made it right
But after what only seemed a day,
You began to slowly slip away
What I though would be addition
Confirmed my superstition
You are my weakness, my kryptonite
You are my ending, my null and void
When I am frozen
You close my eyes
After many a moon,
That fated June,
You walked away,
So far, too soon.
You were my hero, my bonafide
You were my savior, my shining knight,
When life went wrong,
You made it all right
You are my ego, my the one who lies
You are my secret, my mind’s desire,
[_When I am broken, _]
[_Alone I fight. _]
“That was a wonderful song,” Samakri told Lionel with as much sincerity as someone like her could produce. “It is such a shame that I do not understand anything whatsoever of what it was about.” How typical of someone as unusual as Samakri.
“You will someday.”
For a brief moment, Sam allowed Lionel’s eyes to meet hers. And, in that moment, she felt something, and it scared her, because Zebdians did not feel any human emotions. At the same time, Lionel watched as her yellow eyes turn blue for the tiniest fraction of a second, and then she looked away, her irises returning to their original shade.
“Let’s leave this place,” she said, showing a rather sudden lack of interest in the very thing with which she had just seemed, in fact, quite fascinated by.
“Okay,” Lionel replied, having no immediate desire to argue with someone as disagreeable as Sam.
Just then, the singer, Loretta J, came running out of the club. A crazed woman with dark hair and a red sweater was chasing her out of the back door. The overzealous fan was holding a gun and Loretta J was in tears. Before Lionel could react, Samakri ran out past them and grabbed the gun from the fan. She did not anticipate that Loretta would take it from her. The singer shot her crazy fan in the chest.The woman began to hemorrhage and lost consciousness. Loretta J was still in tears. A security guard spotted them and began to chase Loretta J. Without thinking, Sam grabbed her and pulled her into Lionel’s car. They began to drive off.
“Thank you so much for saving me, but who the hell are you?” asked the singer.
“Do not ask me any further questions. And, also, please get rid of that thing,” Sam said, reaching for Loretta’s loudly ringing smartphone, which she then proceeded to throw carelessly out of the window of the beat-up black pickup truck.
“Hey, what the hell are you doing,” Loretta J inquired, showing how upset she was at the thought of losing her cell phone. “My manager’s number is on there and I paid like five hundred bucks for that thing! It’s my baby!”
“You will not be needing it unless you plan on going to prison,” Samakri said in response to Loretta, though her facial expression suggested that she was, in fact, quite confused as to what a prison really was.
“Do you mind if I sing while you drive,” Loretta J asked Lionel meekly. It helps me with my anxiety,” she added, as if someone with as much anxiety as she claimed to have would be capable of the act that she had just committed.
“Go right ahead,” Lionel said. “I have pretty good focus.”
I live in the heart of a dreamer
and that’s all I want you to know
I was once a non-believer
and it just goes to show
I never give up
I never give in
I never let go
I always win
You haven’t seen the worst
I’ll hit you where it hurts
and I ain’t backing’ down
I’m a beast; you let me out
You’ll lose out on a lot
So look before it’s gone
I have a broken heart
but you’ll never wear my crown
I live in the heart of a dreamer
and I don’t want you to go
You’re a first-rate deceiver
but I’ll never be alone.
I never give up
I never give in
I never let go
I always win.
You don’t have a head start
no matter what you thought
I’ll hit you with my dart
You’ll see what I hath wrought
I never give up
I never give in
I never let go
I always win
“Impressive,” Lionel commented.
“Where I come from, we would say ‘owulg’ not ‘impressive.’ I think it means the same thing, however,” Samakri added randomly.
“You people are really weird,” Loretta J said.
“I am not weird. I am brilliant and resourceful,” Sam remarked. Lionel laughed to himself.
“Do not laugh at me, Lionel.”
Lionel was driving the weathered Ford pick-up for what seemed like forever, as Samakri instructed him to drive continuously in random directions. By then, they were probably in New Jersey, by the looks of things. Sam had insisted that she could drive, but Lionel was not going to take any chances when it came to the safety of a pop culture icon.
“I can drive. You do not need to,” the strange girl said matter-of-factly, just as they passed a decrepit farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Just before they drove too far away, Sam added, “Stop. We’re going there.” She used her arm to make exaggerative gestures toward the farmhouse.
Lionel beckoned for Sam and Loretta to get out of the car. As they waded through tall, overgrown grass and past rusty tractors lined up along a rotting wooded wall, Samakri surprised Lionel yet again; in a way which he could never have anticipated.
“We are in Albany, not New Jersey,” she said. Lionel felt a shiver run up his spine. Samakri knows what I’m thinking. When he looked up, he caught a wry grin form in the corner of her mouth. She had caught that too. Nothing was safe from her. Just then, he got an idea, just to see if it would work.
I hate that stupid bitch. I bet she’s from Mars or something and she’s probably a whore. She looks worse than someone from MTV with all that disgusting makeup on. I wonder if she’s really that much of a dog that she needs to cover her face.
Samakri pegged him off. He supposed that it was a universal signal for sure now. That explained why his Russian chemistry teacher had known it all too well. Oops. Lionel proceeded to trip over the root of an oak tree and fall flat on his face. Samakri laughed at him and that really pissed him off. But, why was he letting that weirdo get to him? He figured that he should not allow that to happen, but it would be really hard not to be annoyed by her if she could read his mind. Loretta started to sing again.
You’re sitting in a classroom
On that almost summer day;
You’re stuck in endless silence,
But the pain won’t slip away
Let your imagination run wild,
Let your dreams soar with mine;
Let your heart fly away tonight,
Let everything be alright
You’re standing in the corner
Of the street in the rain;
You’re the one still waiting
For the ride that never came
Let your imagination run wild,
Let your dreams soar with mine;
Let your heart fly away tonight
Let everything be alright
You’re lying in the silence
And you just can’t fall asleep;
You’re waiting and you’re wondering
If you’ll ever see a dream
Let your imagination run wild,
Let your dreams soar with mine;
Let your heart fly away tonight,
Let everything be alright
You’re trying and you’re crying,
And you feel like it’s in vain;
You’re hoping and you’re praying
For a better day
Let your imagination run wild,
Let your dreams soar with mine;
Let your heart fly away tonight,
Let everything be alright
Let everything be alright
There had to be a way to block her out. They walked along until they reached the craggy door of the farmhouse, with it’s brick-colored paint peeling around the edges, and thick blue-green moss coating what was left of the lock. Without hesitation, Sam pushed the door open and the Lionel followed.
“I removed her from existence. She was annoying and superfluous.”
“Yes. I cannot lie. I also cannot read your mind anymore, as I have broken the thought bond which connected us, that is, once I came to realize that your mind is filled with nonsense and disgusting cuss words.” Her voice suggested that she held quite a distasteful disposition with regards to Lionel’s thoughts, especially those which pertained to her.
“What the hell is a thought bond?” Lionel was super confused now. He really did not even want to know what a thought bond could be.
“That’s for me to know and for you never to find out.”
Lionel was now alone with a murderous girl who was presumably from a foreign planet that did not exactly seem normal to him and, to put it quite frankly—she was hot. It was probably okay to think it now that she could not read his mind any longer, at least, he hoped she could not read his mind. He would be really pissed off at her if she had lied to him. When she was not looking, he glanced over at her for just a moment, and saw her, really saw her, for the first time, with her pearly white skin, her flowing purple hair, those enduring yellow eyes, and that body. She was not human, but she was, however, suddenly beautiful to him, though he did not know exactly why he was beginning to feel that way.
Samakri left Lionel alone in the main room of the farmhouse for a few minutes to get them some ripe red apples that were growing on a tree by the back door leading to a dismal mudroom. The main room in itself was in dire need of repair. The grey-brown floorboards creaked under Lionel’s feet and they were covered with ash and dust, which also coated the cobweb-ridden furniture and choked the life out of the hideous green rug. Lionel was surprised, though, when Sam came back, mainly because she did not have any apples.
“Where the fuck is my food?” Lionel pressed. “I’m starving, and it’s the least you could do considering you brought me here without even telling me anything.”
“There’s a lot you need to know, Lionel,” Samakri said. “As you know, I’m not human. I have powers, like the ones you saw, but I also have weaknesses, too. People of Earth would call me an extraterrestrial; an alien, perhaps. I come from a planet called Zebda, where the people are like me. They look very different, and, also like me, they cannot feel human emotions. However, when my father, the Armpha, or ruler, of Zebda, killed your parents, it was because we needed you in order to experiment and find the cure for the apathy that ails us.”
“You’re dad killed my mom and dad!” Lionel bellowed. “I HATE YOU!”
“Let me finish,” Samakri replied. “My father, Blekrin, wants me to destroy you as well. He wants me to dismember you alive with a special sword made of Yalmax, the single element of our planet, then extract the cure from your flesh, blood, and bone so that we may learn to feel as humans do. However, I have come to know, when I looked into your eyes as a child, and when I look into your eyes now, that we have a connection. You make me feel something, and I know that you know, that this is true.”
Lionel gulped. He did know that he and Samakri had a connection, and that made him even more afraid of her than he could ever have been had he not felt that way about such an elusive young woman. But, how could he possibly admit this to the girl that had witnessed—even partaken in—the murder of his parents, causing him so much misery at the hands of so many neglectful foster families; so much torment at the hands of bullies who did not know what it was like to suffer the pain of true loneliness which Lionel had so often felt at their hands.
“You are silent; does that mean that you deny what I have said?” Samakri asked.
“That’s not what it means. It just means that I’m too afraid to say it.”
“Then that means that I’m too afraid to kill you as I have been instructed.”
“So, if you don’t want to kill me, then how exactly, are you going to fulfill your duties to this Zebda place where you say that you come from?” Lionel inquired. However, he was not entirely sure that he wanted to know the answer to his own question.
“There are two courses of action that could increase the chance that you will get out of this ordeal alive, Lionel.”
“What are they, Sam? Just tell me.”
“We could go to war, and hope that Earth wins, or we could call a truce; sign a treaty calling for peace between our home planets. However, there would be an inevitable catch to such a treaty.”
“And, this ‘catch’ would be…”
“The two planets would have to combine and become one, symbolically of course, and also become one race. This would likely be the result of our union.”
Lionel froze, not knowing what to say. Deep down, he was intrigued by Sam’s proposal, yet he was far more afraid to speak that thought than he had been to admit that he felt a connection. With that said, there was only one thing for him left to say.
“Well, then, I guess it’s war.”
“Very well,” Samakri responded calmly, with not a hint of disappointment in her voice, nor an indication that she would allow Zebda to lose for Lionel’s sake. In a way, Lionel was the one who was disappointed, and he was also aware of the fact that Sam would have no mercy on his kind, to say the very least. The otherworldly vixen pulled a strange device out of her handbag; something resembling a cell phone, only consisting of a much more advanced technology. She pressed a button, and it seemed to zap her with a jolt of electricity. Her entire body lit up in a strange green light, and, suddenly, a man appeared in the musty farmhouse parlor. He was as pale as Samakri, with the same yellow eyes, and orange hair. A chill ran down Lionel’s spine. It was Blekrin.
At that point, Lionel was completely speechless; he remained stuck in his own fear; consumed by it. Samakri turned to her father and said to him, “The earthling has declared war on Zebda, dearest father and Armpha.”
“Is that so?” he asked. “Well, in that case, let the fighting begin.” That was the last thing that Lionel remembered before he fainted.
The young man awoke in a strange place. He was in some kind of weird building. It was made of a strange material, or, rather, element. Yalmax, he thought. He was on Planet Zebda, and the war had begun. Just then, he noticed an army of what he assumed were Zebdian soldiers. They were charging towards him, their translucent Yalmax swords in hand; raised in favor of ending Lionel’s life. Then, he realized what horror actually befell him. The war was not waged as Zebda vs. Earth; it was waged Zebda vs. Lionel Davidson.
“Get him; get the traitor!” a teenaged soldier screamed at Lionel. The boy, who was at least a handful of years younger than Lionel himself, had the same skin and eyes as other Zebdians; with bright blue hair colored like the Atlantic Ocean. Then, Lionel noticed that some of the other soldiers did not have the same skin and eyes; they sported a pinkish or taupe dermis and eyes primary in color. That could only mean one thing. The boy was Samakri’s brother.
One of the other soldiers, presumably middle aged, called out to the boy. Apparently, his name was Nelvak, and he has seen only fourteen summers. For a moment, Lionel felt a strange sympathy for the boy; for Nelvak, until the child soldier walked up to him and jabbed him in the ribs with his sword in a way that would not kill him, but would set him straight. Then, Nelvak sneered cruelly at Lionel, and continued to spit in his face. Lastly, before moving on, he kicked Lionel in the head; leaving him on the cold ground with no one to aid his cause or his life.
Lionel than saw Samakri for the first time since he had awoken on Zebda. She was not in her steampunk earth gear, but was clad in a revealing two-piece armor, made of the sheerest Yalmax that was tinted the same shade of purple as her hair, with embellishments along the seams that matched her golden eyes. She glared at him with an animal-esque ferocity in her gaze; she held his stare for what seemed like eternity, and then she walked away.
There was nothing in the world, or, in this case, the universe, that Lionel Davidson wanted more than to be back home on Earth. He had known from the very beginning that he could not trust the girl, Samakri. But, yet he had been foolish enough to believe, even for just a few seconds, that he might have feelings for her. And, even more foolishly, for just as long, he had thought that she might feel the same way about him. Now, for certain, Lionel was aware that Samakri was even more evil than he ever could have imagined. If he had thought at any point that there was good left in her, he was dead wrong. Or, perhaps he was not.
“Are you comfortable her, on Zebda?” Sam asked, approaching him slowly, her pale and shapely legs swaying just the right way as she moved in his direction.
“Well, not exactly, Sam,” he retorted. “I mean, I thought I could trust you to help me and now I find out that you were involved in my parents’ murder and that you couldn’t even care less about what happens to me as long as Zebda overrules Earth and you get the cure. Is that what you were after all along, Samakri? Is that why you even killed Loretta J, who, I agree, was annoying, but who was innocent, and a lot more so than you or your brother could ever be?”
“I was testing you, Lionel. I did not kill the annoying singer girl. I marphed her here to Zebda, where she has become a slave in the art of exotic entertainment. She will be singing for the Zebdian army during their training to relax them and make them more efficient fighters.”
“You said that you removed her from existence, Sam. How do I know that you’re not lying now rather than back then?”
“I did remove her from existence, Lionel. Planes of existence are only pertinent to Earth. There is no such thing as existence on Zebda.”
“Are you really going to wage a war; pit our home planets against each other, just so that you won’t have to admit a loss for one time in your life, Sam?” Lionel questioned, looking down idly at the exquisite Yalmax floor tiles, which had been injected with strange phosphorescent dyes to make the colors appear to change as light struck the tiles.
“There is more to this war than you are currently able to imagine, Lionel. We have nothing against your kind. We need you for the cure. However, we do not have to kill you to get it. While I was attending Earth school, I learned of a process called cloning. According to the books that you have there, it has not been used on humans to date; only sheep. I have also acquired skills in the art of Earthen technology and have thus accessed your transcripts from the school you were attending. Through this acquisition, I have come to know that you excelled in science and mathematics. You also did a research project on cloning as part of your application to some impressive universities, all of which you declined to attend in the last minute because you had decided to run away.”
“Sam, you’re crazy. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know how the hell to clone someone, especially not myself. It was just a stupid project. And, even if I was as special as people used to think I might be one day, and, if I did actually know how to do what you’re asking me to do, I wouldn’t tell you how, anyway. It’s just not a good idea at all.”
“Would you rather go to war with Zebda and die so we may acquire the cure for apathy, then?” Sam looked eerily content with the idea of killing a person who she had so recently proclaimed a connection to. It made Lionel wonder if it she really was lying about Loretta.
“No, of course I wouldn’t rather go to war. But, what you don’t seem to realize, Sam, is that there haven’t been any human clones yet because the science is flawed. It has been predicted that humans who were cloned would be sickly; they would die before reaching maturity. And, yes, they do have to reach maturity. It isn’t possible in any way for you to clone me and end up with another me. You would be killing little me; the me not too far off from the me that you met all those years ago.”
Samakri froze when Lionel said that. She had not studied cloning enough to pick up on that bit of detail. Despite everything that she had previously said, Samakri was not going to be able to kill little Lionel. Yes, she could easily—perhaps—kill the Lionel that stood before her now; the one that had caused her so much anxiety and reluctance, but she could never lay a hand on the small, helpless, perfect boy whose eyes she had looked into for the first time fifteen years earlier on the day that she had helped Blekrin commit the most unspeakable crime against Maggie and Arthur Davidson, Lionel’s mother and father. She was officially in a deadlock.
Lionel did not know what to say either. He was now sensing Samakri’s weakness. Perhaps he had been wrong more than once; the first time when he underestimated her dangerousness, the second time when he underestimated her uncanny kindness. Lionel was not sure if he should defy his emotions and use this weakness against Sam, or take advantage of the opportunity to help her, and possibly win her heart. Either way, he was stumped.
Despite the fact that, for a while, Lionel had assumed that Samakri’s confusing behavior would benefit him in some way, that was not exactly how it turned out. Shortly after showing some sympathy for him, she sent her brother, Nelvak, to cart him off to the prison chambers. The boy was stronger and more skilled in the art of torture than any human his age. It became clear to Lionel, as his battered body was swept across the coarse Yalmax flooring that it would not be easy to rebel against the Zebdians and still survive. One thing that he took comfort in as he and Nelvak approached the prison chamber was that it was the same one where they kept Loretta J. Lionel could only imagine how scared the pop star was. And yet, she sang.
Once upon a time,
You were complete; my all;
And with every rhyme,
In love with you I’d fall
I asked for a star,
You gave me the moon;
I asked for your heart,
And you gave me the truth
And it wasn’t your fault,
You gave me your all;
And I never forgot,
How wrong I was
Once upon a time,
You were a charming prince;
I told you I was fine,
You sealed it with a kiss
I asked for a star,
You gave me the moon;
I asked for your heart,
You gave me the truth
And you couldn’t have thought,
That I wasn’t true;
And you couldn’t have fought
For me more than I for you
Once upon a time,
We flipped a sliver dime;
I said I’d call you mine,
As long as we lived
It wasn’t a crime,
I won’t pay a fine;
We’re frozen in time,
And there’ nothing to hide
I asked for a star,
You gave me the moon;
I felt so alive;
And it’s because of you
I asked for a star, heart, time, and the moon,
You gave me your heart and wonder and truth
Once upon a time
Nelvak, for a teenager, was not impressed and he shoved her against a wall, knocking her unconscious. So much for entertainment, Lionel thought. As angry as he was at Sam, she was the only one he wanted right now. He would rather endure worse torture at the hands of the otherworldly goddess rather than at the hands of Nelvak or an other Zebdian soldier. Yet, this made him even more angry at Samakri, because she was apparently such a coward that she would not actually harm Lionel herself.
He could hear her voice, even from far away.
“Have no mercy on the Earth boy,” she said. But she was lying. He could hear her thoughts now, as she once did his back in New York.
Please spare the young man, she thought. I love him with all of my being and all of my loyalty to Zebda has been in vain; nothing in comparison to what I now feel.
Was Samakri playing with him? He had thought that their minds were no longer intertwined, yet he could hear Sam’s thoughts as easily as she had heard his what seemed like so long ago but had only been a few short days. He wondered so deeply whether she truly loved Lionel or whether she had more control over him than he could have possibly imagined.
What you hear by me is the truth, Lionel. Wait and see.
With all that he had, Lionel wished that he could be with Samakri. No matter what her innermost thoughts suggested, he could not assume that she loved him back. All he could know for sure is that, most likely, he would never see his home again. As Lionel began to feel woozy and the Yalmax prison bars began to separate his heart from his mind, an aging guard with eyes a different shade of yellow and green hair that was turning the very color of Yalmax rather than graying, came up to the bars and let Lionel out of prison.
“Let’s go, foreigner. You’re going to show me how to make another one of you.”
“What if I can’t?” Lionel gulped, bile rising in the back of his throat.
“Then, you die,” he replied simply.
The guard then grabbed Lionel by the arm and threw him down to the ground in such a way that Lionel could feel the blood draining slowly from a gash on his leg. The Yalmax of the prison floor was even sharper and stiffer than any other form of the element on Zebda. Lionel was even more scared for his very life than he had ever been in the past. Just when he thought that the guard could not harm him any more than he already had, the man, who covertly appeared much more frail than he really was, took a large and completely transparent needle from the pocket of his Yalmax sheath, which had been dyed a deep black, likely a direct reflection of his dark personality, and jabbed Lionel’s arm without mercy.
A clear, icy liquid began flowing through Lionel Davidson’s veins, and it was much more potent than any of the other drugs that the Zebdians had used on him previously. While the first times that Lionel had been drugged, he had passed out completely and lost all awareness of his surroundings, this bad medicine simply left him completely frozen in a state of panic and terror. Wow, he thought. For creepy aliens who don’t know how to feel any emotion themselves, they certainly do know how to inflict the worst of human emotions in me.
Once again, all that Lionel could think about was Samakri, the beautiful and likable, yet venomous and volatile Zebdian girl. Now that he came to think of it, Lionel had known Samakri throughout his whole life, even when she was not on this planet, Earth. Sure, the first time, she was really there, on that fateful day just before Lionel’s fifth Christmas, when she had at least partially played a role in the death of Lionel’s parents, Maggie and Arthur.
Of course, Samakri had been there after that. She was there every time Scotch and his girlfriend, Marcy, had bullied him. She was there when Carla and all of his other foster parents had ignored him his whole life. Samakri had been there when Lionel was alone, in his room, listening to music, with no one to care what happened to him.
He could hear Sam now; her delicate white feet approaching his nearly lifeless body (wherever it was) and pushing the guard away. Good, Lionel thought. She can hear my thoughts. She will awaken me.
I will indeed, Samakri thought to Lionel. Within moments, Lionel could move his limbs again. He got up. His wounds were very terrifying to look at. He had bruises the color of Samakri’s lovely hair, though frankly not quite so lovely as that, peppered over his entire body. Deep, bloody, gashes uniformly lined his arms and legs. His head was pounding worse than it had with any migraine he’d gotten on Earth. Lionel’s vision was blurry; he could hardly see Sam’s beautiful face looking down upon him from where she was standing. That was the first time Lionel had realized just how tall Samakri was for a girl her age.
“How badly did Ranvoy injure you?” she asked, referring to the older guard with the temper and strength of a youthful firebrand.
“Pretty bad,” Lionel admitted. “I thought that guy was going to kill me. And, I thought you would never come back. Where’s Loretta?”
“I was attending to my duties, but I came here, to you, as soon as I realized the extent of what Ranvoy had done. The musical girl has been marphed back to your home planet, Earth, where she has forgotten her stay here. She will stand what is there called trial to see if she may be pardoned of what she has done to her sociopathic fan. Perhaps she will be permitted to sing for the humans once again.”
“Well, that’s good, I guess,” Lionel replied. He was sincerely glad that the pop star, Loretta J, had been sent back home to New York, where she would hopefully be able to go back to her career, that is, if she did not face charges for killing her would be assassin.
“I hope that you do not feel too bad. And, I also hope that you may find the means to forgive me for what I have allowed to be done to you, perhaps at least in some time that will pass. Just a heads up, by the way, time passes in a sequence slightly different here on Zebda than it does on Earth, at least as far as I know. When I first witnessed the murder, and also when I traveled to Earth of late to retrieve you, I progressed one year in age chronologically. It is my experience that when one travels to Earth from Zebda, this happens. It does not occur when relocating from Earth to Zebda.”
“What are you saying?”
“What I’m saying,” Sam continued, “Is that you have not aged a year yet, and, while you remain here, you will age normally, but, once you return to Earth, you will be nineteen instead of eighteen. I turned five when I first went to New York all those years ago, so I was one year older than you. When I marphed the second time, I turned twenty. However, I have marphed two more times since then in order to communicate with my father, which makes me now twenty two years of age, at least according to Earth years and laws of aging.”
“Oh, I see. That’s no big deal, Sam. I’m miserable anyway. It’s not like I care if I lose a couple of years. I’ll still have a full life once I’m away from this place.”
Samakri seemed rather amused by this remark that Lionel made. A friendlier-than-usual grin formed on her perfect, smooth lips, and she flipped her purple mane in a seductive, yet conspicuous manner. It made Lionel want her even more than ever. Then, just as quickly as Sam’s extraterrestial-style attempt at flirting had passed, so did her friendly nature.
“Samakri!” boomed the voice of her father, Armpha Blekrin. “Daughter! I demand you to report to me at once! Please end your frivolous and revolting conversation with the Earth boy at once or you will lose your marphing privileges!”
“Sorry, Lionel,” the gorgeous alien said. “I really, really, really need my ability to transport myself between planets in every galaxy across space. It’s kind of my job. So, maybe, talk to you another time? Hopefully soon?”
“Sure,” Lionel replied, all too eager to see Samakri and speak with her again some time in the near future, despite the fact that a part of her—the part of her that was loyal to Zebda and to Blekrin—clearly wanted Lionel to meet his untimely demise. He was becoming even more of a tool than Scotch.
Lionel spent what seemed like many dreadful and wasted days on Zebda, in and out of sleep, tossing and turning; no one to comfort him or pay any attention to him or his needs whatsoever. After what would have been nearly a week, at least in Earth years, Lionel awoke fully; the effects of the highly potent drug completely worn off.
It was peculiar; strange, really; the way that things worked on planet Zebda. He found himself that day in the Zebdian version of what most earthlings would call a hospital, only, of course, everything there was made out of Yalmax. Lionel was beginning to truly despise the element; he thought of it as “the element of torture” and “the element of death.”
Later that day, after Lionel was released from the hospital, he was sent back to prison, but, this time, to a much safer and more sanitary part of the prison. He had a bed to lay on, made of a soft liquified Yalmax. Maybe he did not hate it so much after all. Especially not after what happened next.
Lionel was almost asleep by that time. He was just dozing off when he realized that Sam had come to see him. She had snuck in against her father’s wishes, presumably. He looked up and could not believe what he saw. Samakri looked even more beautiful than she ever had before. She was dressed quite scantily in an exotic-looking Yalmax chemise, which pressed tightly against her skin, showing the lines and curves of her form.
He looked directly into her eyes, staring into them like doors to her soul, for what seemed like eternity. Her eyes turned blue. He walked closer to her and took her face into his hands; kissing her. She did not fight him. He let go of her face, moving his hands down the rest of her perfect white body.
He lifted her strange gown off over her head, revealing her bare beauty, then he took off his own garments. She still did not protest. He kissed her again, their forms sliding down against the wall of the prison cell. He went inside of her, and then, something strange happened. Her perfect skin darkened; her hair turned from purple to flaming red.
Samakri was human.
The last thing that Lionel and even Samakri would have expected as an outcome of their encounter was that Samakri would become human. Yes, she was a beautiful human; just as much as she had been a beautiful alien. But, how could she possibly explain what had happened to Blekrin. If he came to know, he would surely kill the both of them, or, at the very least, Lionel. However, as Zebdian Armpha, he would also surely know without being told. So, they devised a plan.
“First,” Samakri told Lionel when she became aware of the situation, “You will return to Earth; no questions asked, and you will do so in secret, lest my father know what is going on.” For the first time since Lionel had met her, Samakri appeared to be feeling true emotion. After all, she was human now; she was different, of course.
“How can I leave you now, Sam?” he asked her, hoping sincerely that they would not be forced to part ways so soon, though a little voice in the back of his head; his conscience, perhaps, was telling him that this just might be the case.
“I do not know,” she said. “I do not know.” Silence. “Then,” she continued, fighting back tears as best as she could, “I will tell Blekrin that I have changed form in order to disguise myself. Hopefully, I will soon be able to join you on your home planet of Earth, though that is not completely certain as we stand here today.”
Lionel was trying to come up with the courage to ask Samakri a question that he had been holding back for quite some time; a question that she would only be able to answer truthfully now that she was human. Yet, for some reason, he was more afraid to ask this question of her than he would have been to ask it to a complete stranger. He wanted to send it to her by way of thought bond, but then he remembered that she could not read his mind anymore.
“Before I go,” he began. “I mean, before you send me back to Earth…”
“Yes?” Sam asked him. “Please continue.
“I would like to ask you a question.”
“Go on,” she said. “Ask me.”
“Do you love me?” Lionel asked Samakri, feeling the words flow from his tongue like a mixture of fire and ice. He would understand if she did not love him back. After all, she had only yesterday been inhuman; frightening.
“I do,” she said.
Lionel prepared himself for the inevitable. Samakri marphed him back to Earth. One minute, they were together; Lionel surrounded by an orb of eerie green light; the next, he was completely alone back on Earth. Back where he had started.
He looked around the room and realized that it was his room, back at Carla’s house. It was the ugly carpets, the ugly wallpaper, the broken furniture and the ghetto peeping from beyond the windows. It was home, and yet it wasn’t really home anymore.
Then, Lionel took a look at himself in his dresser mirror. He looked a little different then he remembered. And then he saw; his blue eyes were turning a strange shade of dark purple, similar to the color of Samakri’s hair. Then he took a good look at his own hair. It was still mostly black, but the roots were growing in neon green.
Lionel was truly afraid now. He walked away from the mirror and stood in the light. His skin had become pale; as white as a blanket of snow studded with pearls where Lionel’s freckles used to be. He was panicking. He knew what was happening to him, but he did not want to think it. His mind had changed too.
He could hear Carla coming home with her kids, and, suddenly, like a flash of lightning had entered Lionel’s mind, he could hear them. He could hear everything. He could hear their thoughts; everything that they had ever said, did, wanted; all rushing through his mind like a tornado through Kansas. And, then, he just knew the truth.
He, Lionel Davidson, was a Zebdian.
He was an alien.
No, this can’t be, Lionel thought. This cannot be happening. I can’t be one of them; not after she finally became human. Not when we finally had a chance. Lionel Davidson was perplexed beyond a shadow of a doubt, and he also knew for certain that he was no longer human. Samakri was human. It seemed now as if nothing would allow them to be together.
“Lionel, is that you?” he heard Carla, his foster mother, call out in a tone of both joy and fear, which was, however, somewhat diluted by the cries of her youngest child, a baby girl named Lily or Lana or something of the sort. “Are you home? Where have you been all this time? Are you hurt?” She was knocking on the door now. Perhaps she had cared for Lionel all along. A lump rose in his throat. Had he worried her?
“Yes, it’s me,” he began, hesitant at the thought that she might discover him in his current state. “You can’t come in though; I’m getting dressed.” He figured that Carla might assume that he had company and back off. It worked.
“Well, I don’t want to bother you if you’re, uh, busy in there. I’m going to be heading back out with the kids, so if you don’t mind, it would be nice if you could get dinner started while we’re out.” So long as he could conceal his changing form, he would be all set; eager to help after all of the trouble that he had apparently caused.
Once Carla and her babies were safely driving out of the parking lot, Lionel threw together a mix of chicken, carrots, and potatoes, dumping the concoction into a slow cooker. Then, when he was sure that they had gone far enough, he grabbed a black hoodie and pulled it over himself, grabbing his car keys hastily and exiting the apartment.
Lionel chose a multifunctional tattoo and tanning parlor called “Sun and Sin” a few blocks away from the apartment building where he, Carla, and her kids resided. Nervously, he walked in through the dirty glass door and approached a bald-headed muscle-man in his mid-thirties who stood behind a rusty metal counter lined with displays of gold-plated jewelry.
“How may I help you, kid?” the man asked grudgingly. He seemed none-too-pleased about providing services to a kid who might be underage or looking for trouble.
“I need a medium tan, non-prescription blue contact lenses, and a black dye-job,” Lionel asked him anxiously.
“Gee, kid,” the man started, giving Lionel a once over for the first time, and looking a little spooked, “You say that like you’re making an order at McDonalds.” The guy really did not seem to have any sense of humor whatsoever.
“So, you can help me then?” Lionel asked, wondering if the man was going to turn him down. “Uh…”
“Sure I can,” he said, “As long as you show me an I.D.” Lionel knew that the man wasn’t joking about this and would probably get him into trouble with the law if he didn’t get his card out. Lionel handed the man his battered driver’s license over the counter, trying not to contaminate himself with rust and germs. “All set to go,” said the man.
Lionel was relieved. An few hours later, freshly tanned, dark-haired, and blue-eyed, at least for the time being, he was on his way back home to Carla’s apartment. As he walked in, the gloominess of the sullen place was lightened by the smell of freshly roasted food. When Carla and her kids walked in just a few short minutes after Lionel got home, he thanked his lucky stars that he did not get caught. If anyone back here on Earth learned a single secret of Zebda, it would surely mean their death. In fact, Lionel was not yet certain that he would remain alive for long after escaping from planet Zebda. Samakri would only be able to keep their secret for so long before Blekrin would wonder what had happened, as he would soon become suspicious of Samakri’s inability to appear alien, or, on Zebda, “normal.”
“Is something bothering you,” Carla asked, sounding more concerned than she normally would have. “You know, you can tell me. You don’t need to keep everything a secret from me all the time. It’s okay to be honest. We’re family.”
Lionel could not believe what he had just heard. Carla, a woman who had seldom cared for anyone, or, at least, according to what Lionel’s assumptions were, was here, telling him that they were a family. For the first time in his life, he knew that it was true. Or, at least, it could be true if he wanted it to be true; if he allowed it to happen. However, he could not stop thinking about Samakri. Was she safe? Would they ever see each other again? He did not know.
That night, Lionel dreamed of Samakri. He dreamed that he was back on planet Zebda. The evil Nelvak was torturing him nearly to death, a Yalmax whip slapping hard against his bleeding and burning flesh. And, then, he saw her. She was a Zebdian again, with her magenta tresses flowing against her back, down over her full chest and past her tiny waist. Her yellow eyes were glowing with friendliness and human love, which she expressed by pulling her brother off of Lionel. She then smiled at him and took his hand in hers, and they walked out of the Haklar and marphed to Earth where they both became human and lived happily ever after.
Lionel was more than disappointed when he awoke at 3:14 A.M., his muscular body sweating profusely against his plaid flannel bedsheets. It had been only a dream. Lionel sighed. He wanted more than anything to see Samakri again; to be with her again. Just then, one of Carla’s little ones, a boy of three named George, walked into Lionel’s room.
“Li’nel,” he mumbled, toying with his little hands. “I ‘ad a bad dream,” he added, looking wide-eyed and apparently quite frightened.
Yeah, kid, well, join the club, he thought. But that was not what he said to the young child. “What’s the matter, Georgie? What did you dream about?”
“I dreamed that a pretty girl with purple hair came to our house and she took you away from us and brought you somewhere else and me and mommy never saw you ever, ever, again.”
A chill ran up Lionel’s spine. Could the little boy, George, really have dreamed of Samakri as well? Was it possible that they still had a thought bond? Could Sam connect with Lionel while he was still on Earth? He wanted to know. It isn’t possible, though, he thought. Samakri can’t connect with me anymore because she’s human now. But, could Lionel connect with her?
“Li’nel,” the boy said again, sucking his itty-bitty thumb and drenching it in spit. Gross, Lionel thought. “Can you get me something’ to eat. I’m h’ngry.”
“Sure,” Lionel replied, although he did not really want to get up for the day just yet. “What do you want me to make you?”
“Pancakes, pwease,” George said, smiling his award-winning and innocent smile up at Lionel.
“Okay, sure thing,” Lionel grumbled. They pattered along into the kitchen, hopefully not waking up Carla or her other children. As Lionel flicked on the light switch on the wall adjacent to the refrigerator, George screamed very suddenly.
Lionel turned to face him. “What’s the problem now?” He suddenly felt as though he did not really care if the boy had a problem any longer. Uh, Oh, he thought. I’m losing my emotions like one of them. He turned to face the boy once again.
“You don’t look normal, Li’nel,” he said. You have green hair and purple eyes,” he said, stuttering. “It’s the same c’ler as that girl’s hair,” he added, becoming even more scared than before. “Are you dying?” the boy asked, concerned.
“No,” Lionel replied, realizing in that moment that what was now happening to him was much worse than dying could ever be. He needed to get to Zebda as soon as possible. But, who would get him there. Lionel looked at the boy, his eyes beginning to spin.
“You will not remember any of this,” he said, his voice and spiraled irises entrancing the boy; locking him under his spell. “You will go back to sleep and not ask me for food, or anything else, for that matter, ever again.” Lionel had the boy so entranced that he feared that he might also be under a spell-at his own hand.
Once the boy, George, was safely away from the kitchen, presumably nestled up back in his tiny toddler bed, Lionel charged over to the countertop, where a large yellow phonebook rested on top of a stack of old, assorted newspapers and magazines. He scanned through the pages with lightning speed, until he reached the page he was looking for.
The top margin read, “Psychics.” Lionel was not entirely sure if a psychic could help him locate Samakri. Scanning to the bottom of the page, he spotted an ad that read, “Psychics, Witches, and Healers: Serving All of Your Daily Supernatural Needs.” It was not what Lionel originally had in mind, but it was definitely worth a try.
Lionel dialed the number into Carla’s grimy cordless phone, each button leaving a loud beep in its trail, which was dangerous for Lionel. It could wake up the others. An eerie-sounding voice answered the phone. A woman.
“I’ve been waiting for you to call looking for her. What’s her name again? Samakri?” Lionel was too stunned to speak, but all he could do was reply with a simple “Yes.”
Lionel awaited the mysterious psychic woman in a strange room filled with the smoke of incense and the aroma of herbal tea. Most of the other clients were superstitious old ladies and gothic teenagers with black and red clothing. Many of them looked at Lionel rather suspiciously because he seemed so out of place. It made him feel rather uncomfortable, and his strange appearance must have scared the bejeezes out of most of them, regardless of how badass or old and wise they thought they were.
After about two hours of waiting somewhat impatiently, pacing back and forth in the eerie waiting room, a woman with silver hair and colorful beads around her neck came out from behind a bright blue oriental curtain. She shimmied past a table full of skulls that Lionel sincerely hoped were not real, her long and flowing skirt swishing against the dark wood. She glanced over at Lionel and their eyes met; the woman staring right into Lionel’s. That kind of pissed him off because he now felt the need to reserve eye-gazing for Samakri.
“Lionel,” the strange woman said. “The time has come for us to meet.” Her green eyes glistened with mischief and adventure, perhaps even a tiny hint of danger. Lionel was rather hesitant to go behind the curtain with the woman, but her followed her cautiously, glancing back at the table full of skulls now and then and hoping that his own would not soon join the collection. When he was finally behind the curtain, he never looked back.
“Can I tell you a secret?” the woman asked of Lionel as he sat at a small table, before he even had the chance to ask her anything that he might have wanted to know.
“Sure,” he replied, carefully trying not to offend the woman.
“I am not a real psychic,” she answered quite bluntly, the shimmer leaving her eyes, at least according to Lionel’s perception.
Lionel was confused. “If you’re not a real psychic,” he began, “Then how do you know about Sam? How did you know my name?” He was beginning to wonder if the woman was not even more sinister than she had originally expected. Lionel bit his lip hard, and it started to bleed. He licked the blood off quickly, not wanting the unnamed woman to know that he was nervous to be there with her.
“Ah,” the woman said, pouring herself a cup of tea and also placing one in front of where Lionel sat, his chair shaking with him. He refused the tea. “Your strange lady friend came to see me a few nights ago. It was the most peculiar thing I’ve ever seen in my life. She looked like one of us, but she claimed to be from a place called Zebda, allegedly another planet. I wouldn’t doubt it, either,” she added, gently sipping at her tea. “She showed up in a cloud of eerie green light and everything. She said that she could not bear to be without you and that her father gave the two of you his blessing.”
Lionel was completely in awe. “Are you sure?” he asked the creepy old lady. “Does she know that I’m an alien now even though she is human?” He was certain that if Samakri and Blekrin did know this, they would no longer approve of such a match.
“I know everything,” a young woman’s voice said. Lionel turned around, not really aware of what-or who-he might expect to see when he did so.
It was Samakri. She was there. They could be together at last.
Lionel and Samakri walked out of the back entrance hand-in-hand. Then, they jumped into Lionel’s pickup truck.
“Canada here we come,” Lionel said to Sam. His hair was completely green now.
Samakri turned on the radio. Loretta J’s latest hit was playing on full blast.
Sometimes you feel like leaving,
Cause nothing good comes easy;
Sometimes you stop believing,
Cause nothing good comes easy
But good things in life aren’t free,
Cause nothing good comes easy
Life doesn’t always make sense,
That doesn’t mean it’s pretend
Another night without sleep,
But yet you dare to dream;
Another day in the rink,
Fight through the clouds like lightning
When just right isn’t perfect,
Or forever long enough;
Just keep moving forward,
Remember faith, hope, love
And when you feel like leaving,
Remember life’s not easy;
And when you stop believing,
Try to look and see,
That nothing good comes easy.
Lionel and Samakri didn’t know it yet, but Loretta J was very on spot. It wasn’t going to be easy. But it would be worth it.