Off With Their Heads, Part Five Of The Wonderland Series
Copyright 2017 by Robert Hill
Lupita Espinoza could hardly believe what Gebrihl had spoken into her mind. He described a place so perfect – perfect in every way for each and every individual – that all other dimensions could not compare.
It was paradise.
She took notice of the last rays of the sun glinting off the snowcaps of the Swiss Alps beyond her window view in the private train cabin while she rested her head against Bernie’s chest. In any other context it would have been the perfect romantic moment; a special moment that Lupita had always dreamed of having. There alone with Bernie, her white knight, cuddled next to him as the train rushed along through the alpine wilderness. It would have been perfect, except they were not completely alone, and the situation that placed them on the train was not an ideally romantic situation, either.
At least the private cabin kept them isolated from the other passengers on the train to some extent. Being accompanied by two extraterrestrials, despite their ability to make themselves invisible; it seemed a good decision to get a private cabin regardless the expense. Neither Lupita nor Bernie wanted to draw personal attention from their fellow travelers and have any sort of accidental detection of their otherworldly companions.
They were heading south to Venice to locate the nearest ‘contactee’. Although neither of them were certain how they would precisely locate ‘contactee #78’, a Miss Sofia Scarpacchio – seeing as they did not even have her specific address – this seemed like their only possible chance if they were to return to Antarctica. The plan was simple, Bernie had said to her. Find the ‘contactee’, call Raul on the sat phone in Antarctica so he could activate the Mirror Anomaly, and then jump back – hopefully without anyone there realizing that they had both teleported halfway across the globe and back.
Bernie was sleeping, a gentle snore sounding to the slight heave of his chest with each breath. Lupita was listening to Gebrihl and Mikihl describe that other dimension in the universe from where they had come and so desired to return. The dialogue between them was calm, almost monotone, as they included her in their telepathic conversation. Yet she could feel an intense urgency coming from them, as if it was a newfound desire. No, not quite urgency, she thought. More like excitement over the possibility of finally finding what had been lost to them thousands of years ago on this tiny blue planet upon which they had been marooned. And now it seemed that their chance had come, thanks to the accidental discovery of the Mirror Anomaly found beneath several layers of Antarctic ice and snow.
‘Yes, we are happy by the possibility of finally returning to our dimension,’ said Mikihl, overhearing her thoughts.
Wonderland, she then thought to herself.
What they were describing seemed like a wonderland to her with its possibilities to have whatever you wanted becoming your reality. Lupita started to believe that perhaps she really was as Bernie had so often called her – Alice. It was appropriate, also, it seemed to her, seeing as how this whole adventure had started one day a couple of months ago when Bernie Skarpinski showed his face in her bathroom mirror in place of her own reflection. And then it wasn’t too much longer after that she literally fell through her own mirror, just like Alice in Wonderland, ending up in Antarctica where Bernie had been there on the other side with the alien’s recently uncovered device humans called the Mirror Anomaly.
Then things got really interesting after that when she decided to use the Mirror Anomaly to create another mirror portal connection, allowing her to escape from Antarctica in order to avoid having to return to Corpus Christi, Texas, with her abusive boyfriend, Raul, while at the same time pursuing a misguided infatuation with yet another Mirror Anomaly ‘contactee’ in Rothenburg, Germany. That’s where she became trapped when she learned that ‘contactee’, a man named Johann, whom she had become quite enamored with, was actually married. Rothenburg was also where she met the martianos, who seemed to think she – Lupita Espinoza – could help them get back to their place in the universe. It was a good thing Bernie had decided to jump through the same mirror portal connection in search of her, or else she would have been at a total loss as to how she would be able to help them get back to their home.
And what about this home the aliens described?
The way Gebrihl and Mikihl talked it seem more illusion than real. It was a place that was different to everyone, but perfectly different, they had said. When she asked Gebrihl to explain, the best she could understand was that it was something like heaven itself.
‘Yes, Lupita,’ Gebrihl spoke into her mind, his translucent, glowing form barely becoming visible to her in the dusk of the day. He was sitting across from her in the cabin, and although Mikihl remained unseen, she suspected he was sitting beside Gebrihl. ‘As humans understand it,’ he said, ‘ heaven would be a perfect description of from where we come. Picture in your mind the most ideal place in all of your world; that is what you would find in our dimension.’
‘You mean like a quiet middle-class neighborhood with perfect families and perfect lives?’ she said back to him through the use of her own mind.
In the past day since they had begun making their journey from Rothenburg, she had found that if she tried really hard she could communicate with the aliens in their fashion – by projecting her thoughts directly at them. It came as a shock to her that she could do this, but Gebrihl had not appeared astonished by this at all, merely stating to her that he had allowed his mind to be open to her, thus facilitating the connection.
‘If that is what you picture as your own state of perfection, then, yes,’ he replied. ‘Perfect families and perfect lives would be your reality within our dimension.’
‘Actually, I’m not sure what perfection would be for me,’ she said, glancing away from the translucent beings sitting across from her.
And that much was true. Nothing in Lupita’s life had been perfect, especially now.
She continued to look out at the mountains passing swiftly by, thinking on what Gebrihl spoke about to her through his telepathy. Perfect in her mind was certainly not Corpus Christi, Texas, where this whole misadventure began for her. And it certainly was not Antarctica where she had been stuck for a month, although it wasn’t too bad there during her brief stay. After all, that was where she had really gotten to know Bernie – and also realized, almost too late, that she cared for the cherub-faced geologist. She snuggled up closer to him, finding herself collapsing into the depths of his unzipped parka while he continued to sleep sitting up.
Perfection was not the urban tract neighborhood home she’d been forced to share with a long-time, abusive, alcoholic boyfriend. No, perfection was not a picture that included Raul, or the melodramas of the barrio, what with its street gangs and drugs and everyone either looking for a job or stuck in a perpetual state of dependence upon welfare and food stamps. The thought of brightly colored houses with perfect lawns and freshly painted white picket fences did seem like paradise to Lupita. Such places she only had seen in movies or occasionally when she found herself in parts of Corpus that were not her familiar neighborhoods, but rather mistaken turns while driving around in her beat up Buick trying to get her mind off of her problems at home. Such places, she imagined, had perfect little families – a husband, a wife, and plenty of well-behaved children. There would be a dog, too, and perhaps a cat that sat on the sill of a front window. And all the cars were new, bright, shiny, and parked neatly within their two-car garages that were not filled with endless piles of what could only be described as junk bought at flea markets. She glanced upwards at Bernie’s closed eyes and then pictured him standing in front of a nice little home with a freshly cut lawn, dressed in a plush sweater and smiling at her.
She wondered if Bernie could ever be a part of that perfection, should she one day find herself in the ahels’ place in the universe.
‘He could be,’ said Mikihl. ‘If you were to go to where we came from, even he would be a part of your perception of reality.’
Lupita thought on that for a moment. ‘But it wouldn’t be real,’ she then replied. ‘He wouldn’t really be there.’
‘What is real, Lupita Espinoza?’ Mikihl responded. ‘All reality is based upon perception, even in this dimension of the universe – if only to a lesser degree than in ours.’
She still couldn’t understand it.
There was a rumbling in her stomach. Lupita realized she had not eaten anything since boarding the train in Rothenburg.
‘I’m going to find the dinner cabin,’ she said, gently pulling herself away from Bernie so as not to disturb him.
‘I will go with you,’ said Gebrihl, moving to hover beside her.
She stopped and looked at him. ‘No, that’s okay. I can find it.’
Lupita crept out of their cabin, shutting the door with barely a click, and then she made her way along the narrow hall of the train. She passed into another car, this one less private with a center row dividing multiple passenger seats. The car was filled completely with people, some reading newspapers, while others did not read at all, either sleeping or conversing with other passengers.
She passed through the crowded car, entering into the next which was only half as full as the previous. As she walked along the aisle, she heard a door open behind her and glanced back noticing a couple of Asian businessmen stepping into the car.
Lupita continued on passing through the next door and into the dining car. The layout of the dining car looked like a skinny restaurant, with tables and chairs lined against the windows, and a center aisle by which to navigate. Most of the tables were empty – an elderly couple sitting closest to where the service counter was located at the far end of the car, and a lone woman, young, with a backpack, her hair pulled into a ponytail. Lupita took a seat at a table closest to the door she had just come through, nestling up against the window and facing the counter where a lanky, middle-aged attendant was pouring two cups of coffee to be served to the elderly couple.
The door to the dining car opened. Lupita glanced away from the attendant and noticed it was the two Asian men that had followed behind her. They took seats across from one another at a table just one up from her own.
Lupita turned her gaze to the window, watching as the alpine trees and the outcroppings of mountainous rock blurred past her. The sun had dropped low enough to turn the sky to twilight. She glanced upward into the darkening sky, noticing after a moment the first star to show itself on a cloudless night high up in the Alps. She wondered if that star was where the ahel had originally come from. But then she grimaced, thinking that she honestly had no idea if they even came from a star located anywhere in this galaxy, seeing as they had described themselves as coming from another dimension.
She could smell the coffee the attendant had just delivered to the elderly couple. Her grimace turned sharp upon her face, realizing she was hungrier than she had thought, and she wondered why it was taking the attendant so long to get to her.
Lupita looked in his direction, noticing he was walking toward her with a menu in his hand, finally.
Then she also noticed that one of the Asian men, the one sitting to where he could face her if he looked beyond his companion’s shoulder, was, in fact, looking at her.
No, that couldn’t be. She was imagining it. All this talk of trouble about the mirror device and worry about what the government would do to her once they finally could ‘debrief’ Lupita regarding her knowledge of it was making her paranoid.
But then the Asian man smiled at her.
It wasn’t a friendly smile, either. More like, ‘I’ve got you in my sights and I’m gonna take your purse’ kind of smile, was what she made of it.
The attendant stopped at her table and said something in a language she did not quite understand but it sounded close to Spanish. Lupita tore her glance away from the Asian, realizing the attendant had startled her a bit, but also realizing in that instant that her heart was already pounding in her chest. She wished now that Gebrihl had come with her after all.
“How I serve you, signora?” said the attendant whose accent suggested he was Italian. He handed her the menu.
Lupita half-smiled at him as she took it, but her eyes were drawn back to the Asian man still staring at her, except now his smile had evaporated. He was just staring like his eyes were laser beams locked onto the target.
“Signora?” asked the attendant, sounding more impatient than puzzled by her delay.
“Disculpe mi. Uh, sorry.” She handed the menu back to the attendant, and bolted up from the table, turning quickly toward the door behind her.
She passed into the next car, walking quickly but finding it difficult as her legs began to turn to warm jelly. Lupita glanced over her shoulder, looking back toward the dining car door. She bumped into one of the seats along the aisle, waking a young man who bolted upright at the jostling he took.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, as she kept moving along the aisle.
Lupita reached the end of the passenger car, and passed into the more crowded one, but as she did so, she heard a disturbance behind her. Looking back she could see both of the Asian businessmen rushing quickly up the aisle toward her, one of them also bumping up against the young man Lupita had pushed up against. This caused a bit of a stir as the young man jumped out of his seat and began yelling at the Asian men as they continued on past him without so much as an apology.
She quickened her pace, finding her legs becoming as if they were mired in a swamp and her heart as if it was being sucked down the drain. Her hip caught against a woman reading a book in her seat along the aisle, but Lupita did not bother to say anything. All she could think of was getting back to the cabin, back to where it was safe.
Lupita passed through the crowded car, and into the car with the private cabins. The aisle was situated along one side of the train that had a row of windows lining it. It was growing darker outside and the hall had become lit above her. She stumbled against the carpeted hall as her feet became heavier with each second.
“Stop!” she heard a man call from behind her, but she kept going, reaching for the handle to the cabin.
Lupita opened the door, entered the cabin, spun about and shut it hard, turning the lock-latch on it.
Sighing to calm her breathing, and thanking God she had made it, Lupita turned around to wake Bernie, but then she stopped, pressing herself back against the locked cabin door.
“Hello, Ms. Espinoza,” said a middle-aged white man with blonde hair, sitting in one of the seats from across Bernie – the latter being already quite awake. The blonde man had a rough accent. He also had a companion sitting beside him, perhaps slightly younger than Lupita. He was a lean man with jet black hair and deep blue eyes. The black haired companion kept his gaze on Bernie, despite Lupita’s sudden appearance. He also was holding a pistol in his hand, and it was pointed at her white knight as well. On the end of the pistol was a long tube that Lupita could only guess had to be a silencer.
“Please have a seat beside Dr. Skarpinski, dear,” said the blonde haired man. “We’re glad to finally make your acquaintance.”
Lupita edged over to the seat next to Bernie, unable to say a word. She glanced around wondering as to where Gebrihl and Mikihl had literally disappeared.
‘We are above you,’ Mikihl said into her mind.
Lupita shot her eyes to the ceiling, but then thought that might not be a good idea, and drew her eyes first toward the gun in the one man’s hand, and then at Bernie. He raised his brows and half smiled as he glanced back at the two men seated across from them, but other than that Bernie remained sitting upright with his hands on his lap.
Lupita could not see either of the ahel in the dim light of the cabin, but at least she knew they were there. [_ 'So, can you help us? That man has a -' _]
‘We know he has a weapon, ‘ said Gebrihl, ‘which is why we have not intervened. The possibility that Dr. Skarpinski could be injured or killed is too high. Patience, Lupita Espinoza.’
There was the sudden rattling of the cabin door handle.
Everyone, including the man with the gun, turned quickly to look at the door.
Then there was a rattling thud against the door, like someone had kicked it. The dark haired man with the gun stood up, and stepped back up against the window of the cabin, pointing his gun at the door.
Lupita felt a thud against the back of her head coming from someone, another passenger, banging on the wall from the adjacent cabin, annoyed by the commotion. She drew her feet up into her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs, wanting to be anywhere else but here, even back in Corpus with Raul. Bernie turned toward her and grabbed her into his arms from behind in a gesture of comfort, but also in protection to pull her as far away from the door as possible.
Someone kicked the door again and yelled something in a language she could not understand, but sounded like it could have been Chinese.
“Da!” said the blonde man, still seated as he watched Bernie and Lupita, his right hand buried within his suit jacket, possibly holding a gun.
The dark haired man fired his pistol straight at the door. Fragments of wood and plastic flew everywhere as the bullet pierced through it. Lupita gave out a scream as she leapt backwards, pressing into Bernie and shoving him up against the far wall of the cabin beside the window. There was a yell and then a thud from outside the door as if someone had fallen.
The dark haired man fired again; more fragments of the door scattered, pelting Lupita as she raised her arms to cover her face.
There was another hard thud, this time against the outside of the door, and it flew inward on its hinges.
The Asian businessman, who had been smiling at Lupita in the dining car, fell forward into the cabin, his body thumping against the floor between the cabin seats.
The other Asian man was lying in the hallway, only his laced business shoes showing through the open doorway of the cabin.
Lupita closed her eyes. She did not want to look anymore. She squeezed them shut as she pushed herself hard against Bernie.
All she could think about was being home, hiding in the bathroom, rolled up a ball in the corner like she had done so many times whenever Raul had threatened to beat her for whatever stupid reason he felt in his drunken anger. Then not at home, but far away. Far away someplace else in the universe with only Bernie – someplace where no one would ever hurt her and her white knight. She just wanted the two of them alone in a beautiful house with a white picket fence, and a two car garage with brand new vehicles, and Bernie wearing a sweater, and checking the mail…
Then the blonde haired man said something, a question, and then, “Nyet!” he yelled.
The muffled silencer of the pistol whispered to Lupita.
She opened her eyes.
The dark haired man was still standing up against the window, but his pistol was pointed at the middle-aged, blonde haired man. Lupita could smell the gunpowder in the air. It flooded her nostrils and permeated everything in the cabin. She could feel Bernie holding on to her from behind as if they were forever melted together.
The blonde haired man, still seated, was staring up at the dark haired man. There was a look on his face like he was asking a question out of amazement. But he didn’t say a word as he slumped sideways toward the seat closest to the flung open cabin door and the dead Asian man lying beneath him.
The dark haired man turned quickly about, lowering the pistol, as he looked at Bernie and Lupita. “My name is Rabin,” he said. “Moshe Rabin of the Israeli secret service.”
Lupita could hardly comprehend what he said.
“You’re who?” asked Bernie, starting to loosen his grasp on Lupita, as he struggled to pull himself up from the seat.
There was the commotion of several voices outside the cabin, and it sounded as if other passengers had come into the hallway, noticing the situation that had occurred.
Suddenly there was a loud alarm blast, and a deafening screech. The entire train felt as if it was lurching forward, but then Lupita realized it was herself that was sliding off the seat along with Bernie. Both of them fell forward and Bernie collided with the man who called himself Rabin.
Lupita landed on the floor of the cabin on her stomach with her head just adjacent to that of the Asian man lying there. She looked into his dead eyes – those eyes which seemed to have remained locked onto her ever since she first noticed them back in the dining car.
She then realized that the train was not moving, and Lupita could hear several people from outside the cabin yelling and making a commotion of things, but no one had been brave enough to poke their head inside the cabin to see what was happening.
“I do not have time to explain,” she heard Rabin saying, but it sounded like he was struggling with someone.
Lupita jumped to her feet, turning to see Bernie pressed up against Rabin. Both men had their hands wrapped around Rabin’s pistol.
“Not … going … anywhere,” Bernie growled, surprising Lupita by what she saw and by the fierceness in his voice.
“I’m here to help,” said Rabin as both men continued to struggle with the gun.
Suddenly there was a blinding glow of light that bathed the room from above, and Lupita felt herself getting pulled off the floor by translucent arms and being shielded by Gebrihl from the ongoing struggle.
‘I have you.’
But then the gun went off, and Lupita heard a piercing cry that was tapped straight into her mind. She did not hear it with her ears at all.
Lupita and Gebrihl turned to look, but Lupita was terrified at what she might see. Her heart caught in her throat, trapped there and choking her to the point that she could not breathe.
Still pushed together up against the cabin wall were Bernie and Rabin, both men still clutching onto Rabin’s pistol. Mikihl was hovering close to them, his body glowing fiercely, yet the glow was starting to shimmer and waver, the light appearing as if it had been a calm morning pond that had been disturbed by the ripples of a stone piercing its surface.
Mikihl turned around to face Lupita and Gebrihl, and he appeared to glance down at the side of his torso just where Lupita would have thought his hip might be.
‘I have been injured,’ Mikihl said. It was with a tone that was calm, almost lackadaisical.
And then he stopped hovering just above the floor, his feet slowly touching upon the carpet. He stumbled back into the seats across from where Bernie and Rabin stood, both still clutching hard at the gun but otherwise not moving as they stared at Mikihl.
‘Brother,’ said Gebrihl, as he let go of Lupita, allowing her to gently step onto the floor, and he glided over to Mikihl.
“Give me the gun, dammit,” Bernie said, and he started struggling again with Rabin.
“You have to trust me.
“Stop!” Lupita yelled, lunging forward to also grab at the gun.
‘Everyone stop, please. Rabin is correct.’
Lupita stopped before her hand grabbed the pistol, as did Bernie and Rabin. Apparently Gebrihl had projected his thoughts into all of their minds.
‘Rabin is correct. We must trust him. Mikihl is injured, and we must hurry before it is too late.’
Bernie glared at Gebrihl. "But he's got a -"
‘We must trust him, Dr. Skarpinski.’
Bernie sighed, and then he let go of the pistol, backing away from Rabin.
“So now what? Just let him take over, just like that?”
“You have to trust me, Dr. Skarpinski,” said Rabin. “I’m here to help. Those men lying there are agents of Chinese intelligence, and the man I was with, he is with Russian intelligence. Everyone in the world is trying to find out all they can about what the Americans have discovered near Marble Point.”
Lupita stared at him, confused. "But how did they -"
“We don’t have time to discuss the intelligence capabilities of the world’s various countries, Miss Espinoza,” Rabin said, staring with those dark blue eyes deep into her as if he were looking through to her very soul. “We cannot stay on this train. The authorities will surely detain us by the time we reach Venice. And if they do not, then there are certain to be more agents of the Russians and the Chinese waiting for us when we arrive.”
“So what now?” Bernie said, still looking at Rabin with suspicion.
“Come with me, all of you, if you want to live.”
Personal Message from the Author: “Thank you for reading “Off With Their Heads, Part Five of the Wonderland Series”. I hope there is something of value you discovered within it, but more importantly, within yourself. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to leave a review at your favorite online retailer.
If you missed them, check out the very popular episodes of The Wonderland Series:
Lupita Espinoza was a forty year old, single mom who often wished of being anywhere in the world other than Corpus Christi. But when a geologist in Antarctica appears in her bathroom mirror, Lupita begins a journey that will take her to places never dreamt possible. “The Wonderland Series”, is a multi-part science fiction romance where the girl gets the guy, the aliens, and her place in the universe.
A Mirror Darkly, Part One of The Wonderland Series
The Looking Glass, Part Two of The Wonderland Series
Late For Tea, Part Three of The Wonderland Series
Queen of Hearts, Part Four of The Wonderland Series
Also, by the author:
ONE SECOND BEFORE AWAKENING, a full length novel by Robert Hill.
ONE SECOND BEFORE AWAKENING is a fantasy/adventure novel which takes place within a compilation of the various surreal subjects and scenes depicted by the great 20th century master, Salvador Dali. It is a world populated by space elephants, drawer people, amorphous cannibals, and the mysterious flower-headed Fates – the very witnesses of past, present, and future. When Drew Anthony finds himself stepping into the midst of a painting come to life, a painting rendered by Salvador Dali, the first thing he wants to do is to find his way out, not end up journeying across a spectacular world peopled by the magical and the terrifying. His odyssey ends up changing the destiny of a beautiful woman, altering the philosophy of the people within this bizarre, painted dimension, and transforming himself from just an average man from an ordinary world into a transformational messiah trapped in a surreal place.
Non-Fiction Book Titles:
THE ART OF MOTIVATION, Motivation From A Martial Arts Perspective
Want to get motivated and stay motivated? Learn how to have a positive mindset while transforming your dreams into reality? Visualize your goals and achieve success? Through “The Art of Motivation” you will find insight and tips on how to stay motivated and how to better achieve what you want in life. Written from a martial arts perspective by Robert Hill, a martial arts training academy Black Belt instructor, “The Art of Motivation” is an excellent resource on how to find your purpose in life, set goals, get motivated, stay motivated, and turn your dreams into reality.
The Last Moment Loop –
Leonard & Molly –
The Part to No Genesis –
The Lie –
Saturday Night Meat Market –
Caught In The Moment –
I, Sancho, Part One of the Lost In La Mancha Series –
Robert lives deep in the heart of Texas where he teaches martial arts and writes in his spare time. He is a former military paramedic, former criminal investigator and private detective. He has had various poems and short stories previously published in small press literary magazines, but most notably in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, and most recently with Anotherealm.com. He is published in both fiction and non-fiction categories.
Lupita Espinoza was a forty year old, single mom who often wished of being anywhere in the world other than Corpus Christi. But when a geologist in Antarctica appears in her bathroom mirror, Lupita begins a journey that will take her to places never dreamt possible. Off With Their Heads is Part Five of the multi-part series "The Wonderland", a science fiction romance where the girl gets the guy, the aliens, and her place in the universe. In the fifth part, Lupita and Bernie are on a train headed to Venice, looking for a chance to get back to Antarctica. But spies are on to them. What will happen as they attempt to make their way back while also attempting to help their extraterrestrial companions. Lupita may discover that what she has become involved in could very well jeopardize the one thing she has always wanted ... love.