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The Girl From Space

Copyright © 2016 by Mkululi Nqabeni

Cover Design: Mkululi Nqabeni

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher below. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

Contact: Mkululi Nqabeni Tel: +27 73 525 5686

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MichaelKush1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Planet Earth: Yolanda Van Rooyen (22), NASA Intern & Amateur Astronaut.

We’re few hours away from reaching planet earth. A warm wave of excitement and relief flows within me. The past 2 weeks at The Black Hole had been a roller coaster ride, and I’m grateful we’re still alive. Our spacecraft suffered some damage back there. The loud growling sounds made by the engines, is a cause for concern. I hope we land on earth safe and sound.

 

Planet Gadju (500 billion light years away): Gabriel (23), Xapiens Warrior.

Tomorrow morning, all young Xapiens warriors at Planet Gadju will participate in a fighting tournament. The last man standing will be the leader of the Xapiens tribe and marry the daughter of the leader and elder. Out of all the 50 warriors participating, I do not think they view me as a threat. I am invisible, but I will show them what I am made of. They won’t see me coming. I’m sick and tired of being a commoner, I want more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

My name is Yolanda Van Rooyen, I’m an Afrikaner and I was born in South Africa. I was 3 months old when my parents moved to the United States of America in 1995. During the summer breaks, I visited my relatives back home and always had a blast with my cousins.

My parents never gave me a straight answer, why we emigrated from South Africa. As I grew older, I filled in the dots. They didn’t want to live in a country under the leadership of the governing political party, African National Congress. I don’t think they were racists, they just didn’t know any better.

I grew up in a sheltered environment, my parents gave me everything I demanded. As I grew older I became a greedy spoiled brat. I threw tantrums whenever they didn’t give me what I asked for. Harry Potter’s cousin, Dudley had nothing on me.

I enrolled for the Biological Science degree at University of Kent in the UK. After I graduated, my parents asked me to move back home. Apparently, a family friend who works at NASA, told them there was an intern opening and I should contact him.

My first 2 years at NASA was frustrating. I was reduced to being a skivvy. My senior colleagues ordered me around as they saw fit. I ran a lot of errands for them; groceries, taking their automobiles for repairs, fetching their kids from school etc.

I had no duties assigned to me, I felt I wasn’t challenged enough, but I had access to research labs on all departments which enabled me to initiate my own research called, “Dark Matters – End of Planet Earth.” Dark matter was evaporating at a rapid rate in the galaxy. In my findings, I discovered planet earth could be wiped out in a matter of weeks or months. I compiled my findings, outlined realistic solutions to reverse this looming disaster. And submitted it to my superiors. I thought they were going to take me seriously once they read my research, but they didn’t. I bypassed my superiors and sent the research findings higher up the ranks. I waited for 3 months but nothing came out of it.

I called my old friend from varsity, Anichka. I sent her the document and requested her feedback. The next day, I received an email from her. She told me her employer liked it and they’d like to work with me as a consultant. I agreed in principle via email. My brain never registered what I’ve done until I saw Anichka’s email domain address. Sheesh! My heart sank. She worked for the Russian Space Agency. I deleted all my sent email, inbox and recycle bin. I stormed out of my office and strolled out of the building as if nothing is wrong. I knew exactly the rules I had breached, but I didn’t mean to. They’d never believe me anyway. They’d send me straight to prison like Chelsea Manning.

By the time NSA and the CIA caught on. I was at a secret location in Russia. I was an international fugitive, my face appeared on all TV stations. Tears welled from eyes when I saw my parents’ interview. As my life flashed before my eyes, I realized I lived a selfish life and I had to redeem myself.

By a strange twist of fate, my predictions on the research came true. Wave of disasters erupted. The sun turned red for a few days. Then everyone dropped down on the ground, unconscious at the same time for a few hours. A week later, gravity disappeared. Everything and everyone flew up in the air. It may sound exciting, but it left everyone terrified.

Depressed and lonely in a foreign country took its toll on me. I wrote a letter to the United States President. I requested a presidential pardon from prosecution. In return, I offered to assist in preventing planet earth from being swallowed by the Black Hole.

The White House reviewed my research. The president provisionally accepted my proposal. I’d be granted pardon on condition, I deliver on my promise or I’ll be sent to prison without trial.

The Russian intelligence was not impressed with my decision. They didn’t want me to reveal their names to the US authorities. As I was escorted by the US military personnel to the Russian airport, rockets of missiles came out of nowhere and struck some of the SUVs in the convoy, but we managed to escape. Unfortunately a lot of our soldiers died.

At the White House, I met with the president, politicians and my former colleagues at NASA. I proposed we send Astronauts to the Black Hole and investigate. I also suggested we build a powerful nuclear-powered spacecraft. The spacecraft would be able to withstand radiation and rays from space. All astronauts declined the offer to travel to the Black Hole. Understandable, petrified they’d never make it there alive. I volunteered to go and I asked my old flame from High School, Charles to travel with me. He agreed.

The world’s negative perception of me changed overnight. Charles and I were dubbed the ‘Last Hope’ of the world. ‘The Black Hole 2018’ space mission had to be successful. Humanity depended on it, I depended on it. That was the only way I’d be able to redeem myself.  

 

Chapter 2

 

My name is Gabriel, I am a Xapien and I was born in Gadju. Like most children in the village, I never knew my parents and relatives. Some of the children had parents, but I never understood what happened to the rest of the elders. We lived happily together in a tribal village in the middle of the tropical forest. During the day, we hunted wild cows with our spears and brought them back to the village. Women gathered sticks, fruits, herbs as they gossiped, laughed and cried together while the children ran around the forest, playing games without any worry in the world.

Men and boys wore cowhide around their waist. Women and girls wore a larger piece of cowhide wrapped around their waist to the knees, their breasts were not covered.

Gadju has 2 seasons, the sunny and the raining season. Each season lasted for 6 nyanga (months). During the raining season, it rained heavily every night and day until the season ended. The sun during the sunny season shone brightly every day. The scorching heat would burn your skin if you are not resting under a shade during midday.

Our village was built by our great grandfathers, the huts were built with clay bricks. There is enough rooms for everyone to sleep.

I competed in a fighting tournament which took place in the battle ground, located in the middle of the forest. The winner will be the leader of the Xapiens tribe. The 50 warriors competing will fight against each other. Each warrior had 49 fights to complete during the course of the week. The best 25 warriors advanced to the next round until 2 warriors reached the final round. I fought against the toughest opponents with amazing skills. I progressed to the final and eventually won the tournament. Most importantly, I won the heart of the leader’s daughter, Pamela. Joshua was her real father, he was a fearless warrior leader of the Xapiens for many years. Legend is, he had killed more Hakas than any other leaders of the Xapiens. When he died in the battle against the Hakas, the tribe mourned for him for the rest of the raining season. Joshua’s trusted general, Leonard took orphaned Pamela under his wing as his daughter.

I became an overnight sensation around the village and enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed the privileges of no longer working during the day and my days of being a commoner were over. They served me food 3 times a day and enjoyed the taste of power. I had the authority to summon any warrior or elder in the council to my royal household. And they would nod repetitively and hang on to every word I said as if their lives depended on it.

  

Chapter 3

 

We’d been trying to reach NASA for the past hour and they hadn’t responded yet. I’m a bit concerned. I sighed. Then my eyes flitted through the windshield. I noticed objects flying up towards us.

‘Charles,’ I called him out.

I heard something shattering to pieces in the kitchen. It sounded like a cup because a glass or a plate sound different when they break. Seated on the swivel chair, I turned round and saw him rushing towards me at the workstation.

‘What’s wrong?’ He gasped.

‘Look.’ I pointed my right index finger through the windshield.

His eyes glanced through the windshield with a confused look on his face.

‘I don’t see anything.’

‘Don’t tell me you can’t see the planes flying towards us.’

‘Ah, yes, I see them,’ he said.

The speaker system emitted pinging sounds. Charles sat and we put on the headphones over our heads.

‘I hear voices, but I can’t make out what they’re saying.’

‘We can’t hear you,’ I shouted. He nodded in agreement.

‘Transmission must be scrambled or something,’ he shrugged.

‘This is the mission control center, identify yourself please?’ The voice interrupted.

We looked at each other with a smile on our faces and nodded. Then high-fived.

‘This is Yolanda and Charles, we are about an hour away,’ I replied.

‘Could you repeat your names please? What is the purpose of your visit to planet earth?’

A shadow of confusion crossed his face. ‘It’s us, Yolanda and Charles, we are coming back from the ‘Black Hole 2018’ space Mission,’ Charles replied.

I shook my head, bent then gripped my knees. I relapsed into silence, with my chin now sunken almost in-between my knees.

‘I’m sorry we cannot recognize you and your spacecraft,’ the voice revealed.

My heart thumped erratically as my eyes glared at my Yeezy sneakers while Charles was arguing with them.

‘We left 2 weeks ago on a space mission to The Black Hole. What do you mean you’re unable to recognize us?’

‘There is no one by the name of Yolanda and Charles working here. We haven’t launched a spacecraft to space in the last 100 years.’ the voice replied.

‘I don’t believe this.’ I took off the seat belt, got up and peered out the windshield. Then sat.

‘Calm down, I’ll handle this,’ He assured me.

‘What planet are you from and what is the name of your specie?’ The voice asked.

‘Fuck!’ I lost it. ‘Is this some kind of a joke?’

‘We are not extra-terrestrials, if that’s what you’re implying. We’re humans and astronauts, god damn it,’ he yelled.

Calm down, calm down—I repeat this mantra over in my head and took a deep breath, and tried to still the little bursts of anger within me.

‘We left 2 weeks ago, on the 21st March 2018 to the Black Hole,’ I added.

‘Did you just say 2018?’ The voice inquired.

‘Yes why?’

‘This is important, could you please repeat that.’ the voice said. ‘What year did you say you left planet earth?’

‘2 weeks ago, 21st March 2018,’ I replied.

‘Are you sure about that?’

‘YES, WE ARE SURE,’ we replied at the same time.

‘Alright, I will get back to you shortly.’

We removed the headphones from our heads and placed them on to the dashboard. Our eyes crossed and glared at each other in disbelief as we waited impatiently.

‘Something is wrong, I can feel it,’ I suspected. I felt tears slipping down my cheeks.

He took off the safety belt strapped around his waist, stood up and sauntered towards me. He wrapped his arms around my back as my face leaned against his irresistible six-pack abs.

I wrapped my arms around his waist, firm and I didn’t let go. I needed that, I needed to feel his solidity and his familiar warmth.

‘I hope this is just a minor mix-up. Everything is going to be alright’ he said.

I nodded, feeling a little bit reassured. I felt his right hand stroking my back gently. Then I felt his lips on my forehead.

My mind hovered a bit. The voice from the speaker system; how could he question us like that as if we’re are criminals or aliens? What the hell did he mean when he said, no spacecraft launched to space in the last 100 years? I slid out of my thoughts.

He held both sides of my face with his warm electric hands. And glared at me with his small, brown, hypnotic eyes as if he is going to reveal something about myself, I don’t know about.

‘How are you feeling now?’ he asked.

‘A little better.’ I forced a smile, I didn’t want him to worry about me more than the issue at hand.

‘That’s my girl.’

He walked away from me, sat and put on the seat belt.

‘Do you think this is a prank or something?’ I asked.

‘In these kind of situations, not a chance. He sounded serious to me.’

‘What if, a lot of things happened while we were in the Black Hole?’ I hypothesized.

‘Good or Catastrophic?’

‘Both.’

He shrugged. ‘I guess we have to wait and see but that’s unlikely.’

‘Maybe it’s nothing.’

‘Exactly, just think of all the great things you’d be doing as soon as we land.

‘Now you talking.’

The thought of my dog Spooky, my warm comfy bed at home, and mom’s famous exquisite hearty meals lightened up my mood. At 22 years of age, thoughts of moving out of my parent’s home and finding my own place never crossed my mind.

The sound of planes outside, interrupted my daydreaming. I slid out of it. Military planes and drones appeared out of nowhere, forming a formation around the spacecraft. I could see the pilots stretching their necks like nosy neighbors, staring intently at our spacecraft.

‘We’re unable to communicate with the subjects on the spacecraft,’ said the pilot.

‘Maybe it’s the frequency or transmission, try again,’ said the pilot from another plane.

‘Yolanda, Charles are you still there?’ The pilot asked.

‘Yes, yes we’re here.’ I replied with enthusiasm.

‘Please show your selves through the windshield and wave at us.’ He requested.

Charles took off the seat belt around his waist and stood up. I grabbed his left arm and pulled him down.

‘What are you doing?’ he asked.

‘Wait, what if they want to shoot us,’ I whispered.

He chuckled. ‘Why would they do that, we have nothing to hide.’

I adjusted my headphone on my ears and sighed. ‘Why should we show ourselves?’

‘It’s just procedure, we just need to confirm, if you’re really humans,’ the pilot replied.

My eyes flitted at Charles, he shrugged. I took off the headphones, put them on the dashboard and clicked on the ‘Cruise control’ button. Then we both stood up and waved at them. The pilots glared intensely and took photographs of us.

‘Now listen, please follow us. We will show you where to land in the desert,’ the pilot said from the speaker system. It would be safe to land there because we do not have the landing site to land your spacecraft of that magnitude,’ the pilot said.

We glanced at each other perplexed. Then sat and put on the seat belts.

‘Very strange,’ I whispered.

He nodded. ‘Indeed.’

The planes flew away from the spacecraft in a flash and disappeared down into the dark grey clouds. We turned the spacecraft around, flew down and followed the planes. I noticed something peculiar about the cities and towns we’ve passed along. I tried to squeeze out some memories that should tell me whether Florida or any place in America had always been quite like this. Even the ghettos or the projects don’t even come close to this sight. It looked like a war zone during the Second World War

‘Are you seeing what I’m seeing below?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, a lot of buildings,’ he said.

I shook my head then I glanced down again. ‘This is strange.’

‘What?’

‘On our way here, I couldn’t recognize a single city, every town or cities we’ve passed looks industrial and I haven’t seen a single house or neighborhood.’

He nodded in hesitation. He looked like he wasn’t sure how to respond to my observation. Oh yes, now I remember. In high school he’d struggle to read maps and was never good at geography. My eyes glanced below. The cities and towns looked disturbingly different. Every building had a huge chimney and charcoal black smoke came out from it. The way black smoke polluted the sky, I couldn’t tell whether it was day or night. From the cracks of the dark sky, flashes of light gleamed in small parts of the cities and towns.

‘I’m really curious what really happened here,’ I murmured.

‘We’re almost there, I think we will land on that spot.’ he interrupted and pointed through the windshield.

As the spacecraft was about to land, crazy thoughts raced through my mind. I felt butterflies running in my stomach. Memories of being the most wanted fugitive was still fresh in my mind.

The fear of being shot dead or sent to prison sent chills down my spine. I was petrified, what if the government renege on our deal and send me straight to prison.

‘I have a bad feeling.’ I said.

‘About what?’

‘The moment we land on the ground, I think we’d get a rude awakening.’

‘That’s fear talking. Relax we have done our part, as a matter of fact we are heroes. It is their turn to shower us with accolades.’

‘I hope so, I really do.’

‘Now, let’s land this beast,’ he commanded.

We clicked on numerous buttons on the dashboard. Then steered the spacecraft to the ground.

‘We’re home, this is the beginning for the rest of our lives’ he said.

I wish I was as upbeat as him but I was petrified of what awaited us beyond the spacecraft.

‘Whatever happens beyond this spacecraft, I will always love and protect you at all times.’

‘Promise?’ I asked in a low tone voice.

‘I promise, my love.’ I took off the seat belt, stood up and sat on his lap. I wrapped my arms around him and our lips locked.

            

Chapter 4

 

The morning after the inauguration, I strolled towards the battle ground with my servants around me. I witnessed my Xapiens warriors practicing with each other. The offensive warriors swung spears and swords vigorously with precision. The defensive warriors opposite them, shielded the attacks as if it was a real battle.

I nodded as I marched past them. Impressed with their dedication and commitment, but that was not good enough for me. I leaped on a huge a rock in the middle of the battle ground and got a better view.

The warriors were so focused and lost themselves in practice. I do not think they were aware, I was amongst them.

‘Son of Gadju.’ I roared with a voice of authority.

I heard my voice echoing around the forest and mountains repetitively until it died down. The warriors stopped, turned around abruptly to my direction and stared at me. Sweat oozed down their faces as they panted.

‘Son of Gadju, we are few weeks away from the raining season, I trust you, your wives and families have gathered enough food to last you until the sunny season return.’

The warriors roared wildly, gesturing and confirming they have stored their foods. They settled down. My eyes glanced around them. Judging by their facial expressions, they anticipated whatever I was about to say next. The intensity from their eyes showed me, they were ready to serve their new leader with their lives. Not even one warrior showed feelings of hatred, envy or jealousy towards me because Xapiens’ most important commandment is:

“Serve everyone around you, same way you would to you leader.”

I cleared my throat. ‘Many years ago during the second day of every raining season, an enemy comes to our land and destructs everything our forebears worked hard for. Xapien warriors went to battle with the Hakas right here in the battle ground.’ I pointed my right index finger down to the ground and to the crowd with intensity and confidence

‘This has to stop.’

The warriors roared intensely in agreement. Then lifted their swords, shields and spears high up in the air.

‘I have been told, our forebears fought against the Hakas without any success and the number of our people decreased every year. This time, things will be different, we will defeat them. I promise you victory for you and your family,’ I shouted.

I noticed some of the warriors nodded in hesitation, their eyes popped out as if they have seen a ghost. Maybe they were nervous because they had never fought against Hakas before.

‘Son of Gadju, go back to training,’ I commanded. The warriors dispersed then practiced.

  

Chapter 5

 

We held each other’s hands firmly as the spacecraft exit door opened slowly. I crossed my fingers as my heart fluttered with nervousness. He glanced at me in a macho manner, nodded as if he was a Zulu warrior or a gladiator like ‘Maximus Decimus Meridas’ prepared for anything beyond those gates under the Colosseum.

The moment the door opened, cameras flashes struck my eyes. I covered them as we strolled forward. We tried to figure out where to go next, but the commotion of television news crews, reporters and journalist made it hard for us to move. Overwhelmed and disorientated. I noticed Charles’s lips moving but I couldn’t hear him, the noise drowned his voice.

4 masked personnel wearing green quarantine uniform appeared out of nowhere. They grabbed our arms and escorted us towards a black bus without windows except a windshield. My mind went into overdrive as I tried to make sense of the hostile atmosphere. The only thing I kept hearing were stupid questions thrown at us.

‘Who are you?’

‘Why do you look like us?’

‘Are you aliens?’

‘Which planet are you from?’

‘Why are you on earth?’

‘Are you planning an invasion?’

They kept asking more dumb questions as they chased us until we stepped inside the bus.

My eyes glanced around the bus. The lighting inside was green, it looked like a mini chemistry lab. The quarantine personnel scribbled, leafed pages as they observed us. The bus engine switched on and moved.

‘They’re studying us like we’re some kind of rare species or something.’ I observed.

He covered his mouth with his hand, trying to hide the smug on his face.

‘I noticed, maybe it’s just procedure.’ he replied.

‘No, these are not NASA staff,’ I disagreed.

Charles shrugged ‘As I said, let’s wait and see what happens next,’

I nodded in agreement.

‘Have you noticed the air and humidity is different?’ he asked.

‘Yeah, that’s normal. We spent 2 weeks in space, it will take few days to adjust,’ I informed him.

‘It’s hot in here, aren’t you feeling the heat?’

‘Can you turn on the air conditioner,’ I requested.

The personnel went on their business, pretending they didn’t hear me.

‘Don’t mind them.’

The bus stopped, a moment later the door opened. Then the quarantine staff escorted us out of the bus towards an old warehouse.

‘Why do I get the feeling, no one knows us?’ I asked.

‘Don’t worry, I’m sure the White House will sort this out.’

We stepped inside the quarantine. I noticed more than 6 personnel charging towards us. 3 of them grabbed and pulled me towards the other room without saying anything. Before they closed the door, I saw the other 3 personnel pulling Charles to another room.

They ordered me to take my clothes off and take a bath. I took off my clothes reluctantly and strolled inside the bathroom and closed the door. I ran the shower too hot. Steam emanated from the windowless bathroom, fogging up the mirror. The smell of lavender soap filled the air.

Few minutes later, I got out of the shower, toweled myself dry and wrapped it around my breasts. As I got out of the bathroom, I saw a hospital bed and medical equipment and machines in the room.

‘Take off your towel and lie on the bed,’ the voice instructed from the speaker attached to the corner of the ceiling.

A creeping cold fear gripped my heart. I obeyed and lay on the bed. Two masked personnel came inside and as they were about to touch me.

‘Wait, I interrupted them. They paused and stared at me. ‘I’d like to be touched by women only, if you don’t mind.’

They looked at each other, shrugged and strolled out of the room. At that moment, my mind was running full tilt, spinning out scenarios, trying to make sense of all this madness. Do people really think we’re aliens? Before I could process all this, my thoughts were interrupted by the screeching sound of the door. 2 nurses walked inside. Their dresses were way too short for my liking. They looked like fake nurse dresses worn by actresses in blue movies and porno magazines.

They inspected and x-rayed my body from head to toe. Blood was drawn for further comprehensive medical tests. An hour later, I was escorted to a 5-room compound. It had a lounge, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. The room was fenced with a tinted glass wall. I knew exactly what those tinted glass walls were for. They looked like glass walls in the interrogation room at the police station in the movies. I couldn’t see through it, but I bet the quarantine staff were watching and observing. I glanced around the compartment, I noticed cameras installed at the corner of the ceiling in every room. I think Charles will walk inside any second from now or did they allocate him a different compartment?

 

The quarantine staff were not the only people monitoring Charles and Yolanda. The president’s right hand men kept tabs on them. One of the president’s men at the quarantine was the Defense minister, Scott Adams, 63, a war veteran with a grey styled short haircut with a well-built frame. He observed them through the tinted glass wall and listened to their conversations.

‘Do you think, they are aliens? A soldier next to Scott asked.

‘I don’t know, but they look human to me. Let’s wait for all tests to be concluded, then we will take it from there,’ he replied.

Scott felt a tap in his right shoulder. He turned around abruptly and shook his head.

‘Don’t sneak up on me like that ever again,’ he barked.

A wave of fear pulsed through the nurse’s face. ‘Sorry sir.’

‘What do you want?’

‘The tests results have been concluded,’ she said.

He snatched the document, scanned it briefly, leafing through its pages and paced towards the exit door. He stopped, turned round and pointed at the quarantine staff.

‘Keep them here until I come back, understood?’

Everyone nodded. ‘Yes, sir.’

He mumbled words under his breath as he stormed out of the door.

  

Chapter 6

 

I glanced around the battle ground as my warriors trained. I realized something was missing.

‘They are not ready,’ I murmured.

I gestured at one of my generals. The general sprinted towards me as if his life depended on it.

‘At your service, my leader,’ he huffed and puffed.’

‘How many soldiers do we have ready for combat?’

‘100 Wakas (thousand),’ he replied without maintaining eye contact.

‘Fair enough, dismissed.’

The general bowed, turned round and ran back towards the young warriors.

2 weeks before the raining season, I also participated in training at the battle ground. I had to teach them my system and battle formations. I trained the warriors and instilled a rigorous offensive formations from dawn till dusk. Unfortunately, we lost few warriors along the way.

During the evening at my royal household, I noticed my wife staring at me. Sadness was written all over her face and eyes.

‘What seems to be bothering you, my love?’ I asked in a concerned tone.’

‘I am scared Gabriel,’ she cried.

‘Why are you scared? I am here to protect you.’

‘I fear, I will never see you again,’ she revealed.

I understood what she meant. ‘I will return, do not worry.’

‘How do you know?’ She barked. ‘I do not want you to die like my father. Who will take care of me when you are gone?’ She grabbed my right hand and held it firmly as she pleaded.

‘I will be back for you my love, I promise,’ I replied.

She sighed. Then leaned her head against my curled hairy chest.

‘Back in the tournament, did you ever imagine I would win and be your husband?’ I asked.

‘No, I never heard or seen you before until the final game, when you battled against the Giant Savage,’ she confessed.

‘You are breaking my heart,’ I joked.

‘But I liked you before the fight, I could not imagine myself being the savage’s wife.’

‘For the rest of the evening, I will punish you for not knowing me before that day,’ I teased.

She blew off the candle. We giggled mischievously under the large warm cowhide.

            

‘Wake up, my love.’

I felt cold hands tapping my chest. My eyelids fluttered open, I sat up, dazed.

‘What is it now?’ I whimpered as I rubbed my eyes.

‘You have been summoned to the council by the elders,’ she said.

‘What do they want?’

‘I have no idea.’

I threw the cowhide to the other side then stood up.

‘I was starting to enjoy my sleep and …’ She cuts in before I could finish.

‘Enough with the complaining. Being a leader comes with responsibilities, get used to it,’ she barked.

‘I know that, but why are you at shouting me?’

‘Get up. I used to live under the elders council. When they summon you, go there immediately.’

I wrapped the hide around my waist and pinned it as I strolled towards the huts of the elders.

I stepped inside and bowed.

‘Greetings, my elders, I am at your service.’

One of the elders pointed at a flat rock and I sat on it. My eyes drifted toward the floor, then darted back and forth in obedience. I waited for them to say something, but nothing came out of their mouths. The elders glanced at each other as if they didn’t know what to say or who should speak first.

‘Gabriel, we are impressed with your preparations so far,’ one of the elders said.

I bowed again. ‘Thank you.’

‘However, we feel you are too overconfident,’ the elder continued.

‘And you are underestimating your enemy,’ the second elder added.

My mind stirred a bit. I shook my head in disbelief and stroked the beard on my chin.

‘I do not follow,’ I replied.

‘Most of our young warriors have never fought in the war against the Hakas including yourself.’ The third elder said.

‘We feel you should focus on defending our territory and not let them come near our village. We fear if they do, we will be killed,’ the fourth elder advised.

‘If we defend effectively, there is great chance the Xapiens tribe will survive for many generations,’ the first elder agreed.

I took a deep sighing breath, nodding reluctantly as I glanced at the elders’ faces.

‘I will do as you say,’ I replied.

The elders nodded as they smiled at each other

They are right about one thing though, I have never fought against the Hakas, but I know the art of war and rules of engagement in a battle. “Defending the territory” would be suicidal. Offense is the best form of defense. It worked for me during the fighting tournament.

‘I need clarity on something,’ I said.

‘Go ahead, young man.’

‘Who are the Hakas?’ I inquired. ‘My generals never told me anything about them?’ The elders stared down at the floor.

‘Did I say something offensive?’

‘I am afraid that is a forbidden question,’ first elder replied. He glanced at the elder next to him and nodded. Has old age caught up with them? Their response was not good enough.

‘I need to know my enemy before a battle,’ I argued.

‘Gabriel, you will meet your enemy in the battle ground and you will see them for yourself,’ the second elder said.

I swung my arms up in the air, overwhelmed, dazed and confused with his vague response.

‘What are you hiding from me?’ I questioned. ‘I need..’

‘You may leave now.’ The third elder interrupted before I could finish what I had to say.

‘But..’

‘Dismissed,’ third elder commanded.

I stood up. As I strolled towards my house, questions raced in my head.

‘Forbidden question?’

A piece of ice struck my ego and it finally sunk in on me. Being a leader will not be as easy as I thought it would be.

‘Let me focus on what I do best: fighting and leave the politics to the elders,’ I conceded.

During the course of the day, training drills at the battleground intensified. I watched and monitored my warriors’ movements and progress as a unit.

‘They are ready,’ I concluded. And I nodded with a smile on my face.

‘Son of Gadju,’ I shouted. The warriors stopped training, they turned around abruptly to my direction.

‘Your training is complete and I am impressed with your progress.’

‘For the next 2 days and nights, we will celebrate in your honor,’ I declared.

The warriors roared wildly, as they lifted swords, shields and spears high in the air, chanting my name on our way back to the village, ‘Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel.’

On the eve of the celebrations, women prepared sorghum beer and a feast. Almost everyone looked forward to the celebrations. My eyes glanced at the warriors seated around the fire. Most of them danced to the rhythmic sounds of the drums, but few looked deep in thought, looking distracted. I gave them a conspiratorial look. Are they jealous or trying to kill me? I shuddered at that thought. I shook the thoughts off my head. Then I realized it was the generals and warriors who fought against the Hakas and survived. Their faces were distorted with fear. They were forbidden to talk to me or anyone about what to expect against the Hakas. My thoughts were interrupted by a pat on my right shoulder. I turned round and saw the most beautiful woman in Gadju. She sat next to me in her royal chair while the elders sat on the other side. The children chased each other around the huts, chomping pieces of cooked meat.

The sorghum beer made gurgling sounds as the warriors gulped it. I stood up and strolled towards them when they sang warrior anthems. Separate physical fights erupted but we were able to break them before they spiraled out of control. I also sipped more beer as the night progressed. My first attempt to dance failed, I tripped, and fell to the ground. Laughter broke out. I experienced a dizzying moment of double vision. I glanced at Pamela. She shook her head and walked away. I shrugged.

‘More Beer.’ I tapped the ground 3 times with my right hand. 2 warriors grabbed my arms from each side and pulled me up.

‘Appreciated.’ I let out a belch.

The warriors strolled back and joined the rest of the drunken warriors by the fire, dancing to the loud rhythmic sounds of the drums. The loud music made me drunker than before, I don’t know why. That was the last thing I remember about that night. I was told the celebrations went on until dawn broke out, and by the time the sun exploded from the east, everyone was fast asleep.

  

Chapter 7

 

‘Dinner is served, we have roast beef, steamed vegetables and roast sweet potatoes on our plates, and it’s been a while since I had a home cooked meal.’

I heard his voice like he was speaking from a distance away.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘It’s time to eat,’ he said.

‘It smells divine.’ I just said that to impress him. I’m not really hungry. I picked up the bottled water from the table. I opened the cap, took a sip then resealed the bottle.

‘Honey, you have to eat something,’ he said.

‘I’m sorry, I have a lot on my mind.’

‘Eat something then, to keep your energy levels up.’ I glanced at the disgusting roast beef on his plate and I shook my head.

‘Eeuuww.’

‘What now?’

‘I think I’ll eat veggies, roast beef looks well done, and I hate that.’

He shrugged. ‘Fine by me.’

An hour later, we snuggled on the couch giggling and whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears.

‘Let’s see what’s on the telly,’ I suggested.

He shook his head. ‘Why can’t we just relax and catch up, TV can wait.’

‘I disagree, maybe we’d catch a nice romantic flick or something.’

He threw his arms in the air and sighed. I picked the remote from the table, clicked on the red power button. Then the television switched on. The evening news was on. The screen flickered. The breaking-news line at the bottom of the screen flashed and the words “Live Feed” pulsated in white at the bottom right of screen. I saw a footage of Charles and I harassed by the press. I took a deep sighing breath.

‘Turn the volume up,’ Charles commanded.

The reporter on the ground asked people what they thought about the visitors from space.

‘They are definitely aliens.’

‘I suspect they are humanoids.’

‘For all we know, they could be our relatives from another galaxy.’ They replied.

‘I don’t need this in my life,’ I cried.

‘I knew this TV thing was a bad idea,’ He muttered but I heard him.

Another breaking news headline flashed, a man who appeared important was about to be interviewed. At the bottom center of the screen, his name appeared. “John Williams, President United States of America.” A shadow of confusion crossed our faces.

‘What happened to President Washington?’ I snarled.

‘What the hell is going on and..’

‘Ssshh.’

‘If Yolanda and Charles are proven to be humans beyond reasonable doubt. They will be integrated to our beautiful country,’ President John Williams declared.

‘What if they are extra-terrestrials?’

‘Then I will have no choice but to send them back wherever they came from.’

‘Are you running for the next upcoming presidential elections?’

‘Definitely.’

‘What are your chances of winning this time?’

‘If the people still feel, I’m the right man to lead them, then I will win.’

‘Over the last 3 presidential elections, the number of voters have decreased to alarming levels. Any thoughts on that?’

‘I feel the elections have lost relevance over the past 15 years, because people feel their vote will make no difference. I disagree, every vote counts.’

‘Any last words?’

‘My fellow Appians, please vote for John Williams on the 7th June 9999. A man you can finally believe in.’

I jumped from the couch, stood up and stared at Charles.

‘What year is it?’ I screamed.

He covered his mouth with his hands in disbelief. ‘I don’t believe this.’

I paced towards the magazine rack at the corner of the lounge. I picked one and leafed through the pages. I threw it away and picked one magazine after another. I had a feeling of deadly helplessness. Then I took a deep sighing breath.

‘Well?’ he asked.

‘They all say 9999.’

‘Fuck!’

I threw all the magazines to the floor and covered my face with both hands.

‘That explains everything. That’s why nobody recognized us.’

‘People that knew us, died long time ago.’

‘If this is some kind of a prank, it’s working.’

I found myself in the grip of anger almost too great to contain. I clenched my fists. Then I banged the glass walls vigorously as I let out a scream so loud I almost couldn’t even hear it. ‘What the fuck is going on?’

He pulled me away from the wall. I pushed him away.

‘Calm down, you will hurt yourself,’ he said.

I felt sweat dripping down my face like raindrops flowing down the window as I gasped.

‘Help, she’s having a panic attack,’ he cried out for help then lifted and put me on the couch. The 2 quarantine personnel appeared out of nowhere carrying a storage tank with an oxygen mask attached to it. I experienced a dizzying moment of double vision as they placed the oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. I felt the beat of my heart beginning to slowdown. Moments later, a warm wave of relief flowed through my body.

‘I will give you a shot then you will be alright,’ the voice behind the mask said.

I felt a sharp needle slid into the vein on my arm. Almost in the same instant a blissful, healing warmth spread all through my body. A vivid memory flashed back to me. The moment felt like I was high from smoking marijuana, back in high school. Charles appeared from the bedroom with covers on his hands and covered me. He picked up the remote, clicked on the power button then television switched off.

‘How did we end up to the year 9999?’ I wondered. If this is really happening, how do we explain ourselves to the public, we are not extra-terrestrials? Is Planet Earth in the midst of an apocalypse or has global warming peaked? What really happened on Planet earth while we were at the Black Hole? ‘What happened 7980 years ago?

  

Chapter 8

 

The raining season begun. The tropical forest trees blew sideways as the heavy winds came from different directions. Even though it was midday, you would assume it was the evening. A horrifying lightning bolt split the sky and trees. Thunder rumbled, in an instant all the rain stored by the gods in heaven poured down. The elders, women and children were tucked under their warm hides inside the huts. Some were in deep sleep, others were wide awake: their bodies trembled as the thunderstorm went on.

My warriors and I stood outside. Rain-soaked and muddied in formation. My generals handed the warriors new swords, spears, knives and shields. I doubt they felt the rain sprinkling on their heads and faces.

Some of the elders and women who couldn’t sleep peered through their windows as we marched towards the forest. I lifted my sword up in the air. In a heartbeat, I felt a lightning bolt struck a tree behind me. The wind blew my long hair on my face and I pushed it back with my left hand

‘Son of Gadju,’ I shouted. ‘This is the day we have been waiting for. Let us go out there to fight and defend our land, heritage and most importantly, our people.’

The warriors roared intensively as the swords and spears tapped their shields at the same time repetitively.

‘We will kill all the Hakas,’ I declared arrogantly. I turned round abruptly, sprinted towards the battleground and the warriors followed me behind. The battleground was situated in the middle of the forest, oval-shaped and its size was equivalent to the size of 30 maize fields. I arrived first at the battleground, peering for any movements.

‘I hope my warriors adjust quickly when they fight on this slippery grass surface,’ I thought. My generals arrived, stood behind me, gasping for air. Moments later, my army and I waited in suspense, eyes fluttering on all directions. Ready for anything that came out of the forest. I turned around glanced at my generals behind.

‘Is there something you want to tell me before we fight?’ I asked them. Their eyes avoided mine and looked down at the muddy ground.

‘The Hakas are not like us at all,’ said the first general.

‘What do you mean?’ I asked in a low tone voice.

‘They are monsters, they will kill and eat us all’ said the second general.

A piece of ice struck my heart. Then I cleared my throat.

‘Eat us?’

The generals nodded at the same time.

‘The hunter becomes the hunted,’ said the third general.

For the first time in my life, I have never felt this feeling. A creeping chill gripped my heart.

‘Are… are you sure?’ I stuttered. The generals nodded.

At a heartbeat, the rain stopped and the wind calmed. My primitive instincts were sharp and I knew what the silence message meant; DANGER. Something bigger and more dangerous than us is looming. I shudder at that thought. I defeated 50 warriors to be where I am today and I will come out victorious from this, again.

I heard a tree branch snap from the other side of the forest.

‘Did you hear that?’ I asked.

One of the generals nodded. ‘Yes, my leader,’ he said. ‘They are coming.’

More tree branches cracked from different directions. I listened to each rustle and snap in the forest around. I sniffed the air for strange smells, but caught only the beautiful smell of nature after the rain. The crackling sounds stopped.

A loud horrifying shrill sounded. The warriors took a step back in shock. The sound was like a distorted insect-like screaming, in an assembly of cockroaches.

Thousands of gigantic figures appeared from the forest, charging towards us with speed and intensity.

‘XAPIENS, ATTACK,’ I shouted as loud as I could. Then I sprinted first towards the enemy.

  

Chapter 9

      

President, John Williams lay wide awake in bed. He threw a tennis ball to the ceiling, rebounded and caught it with both hands. His wife, the first lady Jessica Williams’s eyes were glued to the romance novel in her hands, as her back leaned against the headboard. The tennis ball slipped on John’s hands. Then bounced on to Jessica’s book and rolled to the floor.

‘Get a life, John,’ she barked at him.

John blushed then pushed the covers off and moved quickly out of bed towards her side.

‘Sorry honey I can’t sleep. Too much staff on my mind,’ he said.

‘Like what?’ she asked as she turned the pages of the novel, trying to find the last page she read before he interrupted her.

‘The upcoming presidential elections and the little situation of our visitors from space.’

‘The elections are taken care of. And the little situation will also be taken care of, as soon as we receive the test results.’

He picked the tennis ball from the floor and rushed back to bed. And continued throwing the tennis ball to the ceiling.

‘Do you think I am going to win this time?’

Her eyes rolled. She put the book on her lap and looked at him.

‘For the 100th time, the answer is yes,’ she replied.

He nodded and smiled. ‘Thank you my love, I knew I could count on you.’

‘Now switch off your bedside lamp and sleep,’ she insisted. ‘You have a long day ahead of you tomorrow.’

Jessica Williams, 51, perfectionist, feared. She is the woman behind the rise of her high school sweetheart, John Williams. It is rumored she has the final say and power to control the affairs of Appian. The citizens are aware of her shenanigans, exploits and allegations. It is rumored she eliminated all opposition candidates from running for the presidential elections.

The general population of Appian, no longer cared about the elections because of corruption, poverty and unemployment.

The next morning at the president’s office in the government building, Defense minister, Scott Adams and John Williams shook hands.

‘Have a seat, my friend and let’s get on with it,’ John said.

Scott opened his brown leather briefcase, pulled out documents and slid them on the table to John.

‘They are not extra-terrestrials,’ Scott revealed.

 John leafed through the pages. Then scanned the relevant contents.

‘Did they check everything?’ John asked.

‘Yes and they were verified by the independent health authorities.’ John stared at Scott for a moment then nodded.

‘How do I explain this to the public?’

‘That is not your problem. Let them explain themselves out there to the scavengers in the slums,’ he advised.

‘Scott, the elections are around the corner, I want the people of Appian to have a different and positive perception of me.’

‘I can organize a platform for them to explain themselves. A press conference or a television interview or something.’

‘Good idea.’ He slid the report on the table back to Scott. He stood up and strolled towards the liquor cabinet and opened it. He pulled out a 50-year old bourbon whiskey bottle and 2 whiskey glasses. He opened the bottle cap and the whiskey flowed for the rest of the day as they spoke about politics. 

                 

Leaned against the sofa, anxious and thinking about my upcoming TV interview. Charles went through the pages of a magazine by the magazine rack.

‘You have one hour to prepare for a media press conference this evening,’ the voice from the intercom speaker said.

‘It’s about damn time we set the record straight and get on with our lives,’ I said.

We stood up and strolled towards the bathroom. We freshened up and wore white silk sweater, pants and shoes provided.

On our way to the convention center, seated at the back passenger seat of an old black SUV. I peered through the car window. All the buildings were badly damaged, dirty, cream worn out window blinds breezed through the broken windows like flags. Garbage was scattered around the city. The sewage drain seemed like it was blocked. Water from under the drain overflowed on the road. Leaving an unbearable stink of feces in the air around the city. I closed the window.

‘It smells horrible in here.’ I covered my nose with my right hand. My eyes and the driver’s crossed through the car mirror.

‘You will get used to it,’ he said. ‘It is like this every day.

I ignored him and noticed Charles pointing his right index finger through the wind shield.

‘I think we are coming here, hey?’ he asked.

The driver nodded as he drove inside the convention center premises.

Few minutes later, standing behind the curtains, we waited to be called out. I peered through the curtains. The convention center seats was packed to capacity. A while later, John appeared and passed us without greeting. Then strolled to the stage, threw his arms up in the air and waved. Few people clapped, they frowned on his presence.

‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Let me introduce you to Miss Yolanda Van Rooyen and Mr Charles Roberts,’ she announced then pointed at the beige curtains behind her. The audience clapped as the curtains opened. As we sat, I noticed everyone in the crowd wore the same outfit as ours including the president, except the homeless people I saw on our way here. I whispered into his ear.

‘What’s with the white outfits?’

His eyes flitted to the audience then shrugged. ‘I noticed, white party maybe?’ he joked.

‘Thank you, settle down people and take your seats’ Becky requested.

‘President Williams, I know you get asked this question a lot but I have to ask you.’

‘Go ahead, Becky,’ John said with a smug on his face.

‘What are your chances of winning this year’s presidential elections?’

‘Well, I am feeling good and I think we are going to win this one.’

‘Four presidential candidates have dropped out of the race so far. Did you have anything to do with that?’

‘No way. Maybe they realized they did not stand a chance against a principled man of the people.’

‘Mr President, why are you running for the 3rd term knowingly well, it is illegal against our democratic constitution?’

‘The people of Appian chose me to run as a presidential candidate. I did not nominate myself.’

I read the mood amongst the audience and noticed they were not amused at all.

‘Are you saying anyone can run for the office?’

‘Yes, we are 6 months away from the presidential elections. Any citizen is allowed to run.’

As he was speaking, I also picked up he was not a popular man, and couldn’t connect with the audience.

‘Alright, let us give our president a last round of an applause,’ Becky said.

The only people who clapped was Becky, Charles and I. John blushed and stared down the floor in an awkward manner. Becky turned and looked at us.

‘Yolanda and Charles, start from the beginning and do not leave anything out,’ she said. Then crossed her legs. 

 

Chapter 10

 

A week later, there was a buzz around us. Apparently, we’re the talk of the town. The people believed our story and kind of felt sorry for us, coming back in an unfamiliar environment.

Our popularity grew astronomically, because the media dug and discovered archives about us. I have some of the copies with me. I swear this is weird and stranger than fiction. After our spacecraft launched to the Black Hole in 2019 and never returned, the president declared us dead. We were hailed as heroes. Buildings, schools, universities, museums, streets, statues were named after us. As the news spread fast, people got hold of our records and articles. Everyone wanted a piece of us. Invitations and bookings rang off the hook for speaking engagements and meet and greets. To our surprise, we amassed a lot of money along the way.

We decided to take a day off and strolled towards the vegetable market on the other side of the city.

‘I still can’t believe, we are living in the Y10k era,’ he said.

‘I have seen both Y2K and Y10K,’I bragged.

‘So have I, what’s up with you?’

‘Internet is dead. Who’d have thought?’

‘Good riddance, I never liked it anyway.’

‘Even porno?’

We burst out laughing.

 In a heartbeat, He knelt, produced a ring and looked up at me. Full of emotion like a lovesick puppy.

‘Yolanda Van Rooyen. I love you. I want to love, cherish, and protect you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?’

Tears oozed down my cheeks. Overwhelmed and lost for words.

I nodded. “Yeah… Yes.”

He let out a deep breath and slowly slid the ring on my finger. Since I was a little girl, I knew I’d find my prince but I expected more. Fireworks exploding up in the sky, a parade, something romantic and grand. He tried. Realistically, I wouldn’t exchange that moment for the world, it took my breath away. Bystanders nearby recognized us, I heard the cheering and clapping as we smooched passionately.

As we strolled further, we learned the gruesome truth. With the exception of North America, all the other continents sunk under the sea over 7500 years ago. United States of America is now called Appian. An overcrowded, scum-infested sewer. A brutal, dehumanizing hellhole you couldn’t dream up. Population is estimated at 500 000 and 2 million in Canada. All the states, cities and towns around the country were deserted except Appian. Appian used to be the state of New York, a couple of thousand years ago. 99.5% of the people were unemployed, homeless, and lived downtown in the slums. On a good day, they ate rodents and raw feces. The only people who worked were employed by the government and media companies only.

The economy crashed over 3 centuries ago, and never recovered. Mineral resources and agricultural fields were exhausted at alarming levels. A lot of children and adults died of starvation and food prices were way too high. Some government politicians had become very rich by looting Appian coffers. Bridges, sewage, buildings, roads, clean water, electricity infrastructure all needed repairs. There were many things wrong at the heart of Appian. The only people with cars were government employees and a small quantity of fuel was imported from Canada. Almost everything from food, clothes to construction material and supplies were imported from Canada. 2 children with torn and dirty shabby clothes on them sprinted past us, chasing a big rat, about the size of a cat. The nauseous sight of that hellhole brought back memories of wretched starving souls in Sudan.

‘This country has gone down the gutter,’ he said.

‘Cry our beloved America,’ I added.

He sighed. ‘I know, let’s go back to our quarters.’ 

            

Back at our new house, I jumped to bed, rolled, turned abruptly and looked at Charles. He sat on the edge of it.

‘What are we going to do with our lives?’ he asked.

‘Now that you’ve raised this issue. I’m not sure,’ I answered.

‘At least, things are looking up, people have accepted us and we can finally focus on our future.’

‘You know, I’ve never experienced this kind of poverty around me ever.’

‘It’s tragic.’

‘I think I should focus on my humanitarian projects for the time being.’

‘Why not, go for it.’

A sudden nostalgia flashed through me like a wave. Our time spent together at the Oblivion Island, inside the black hole. Even though we were on a dangerous mission and thrown to the island as a punishment by evil forces. We had memorable breathtaking moments.

He picked the remote, pointed it to the television, and switched it on.

President John Williams appeared, standing by the podium, announcing his campaign trail schedule. As he was escorted towards the convoy by his bodyguards, the crowd chanted his name.

‘I don’t trust him.’

‘Who? The president?’ he asked.

‘He looks dodgy.’

He shook his head then chuckled. ‘All politicians are dodgy.’

‘I don’t know him that well, but a head of state with integrity would never contemplate running for the 3rd term.’

He shrugged. ‘Fair enough, it’s a pity there are no opposition candidates.’

‘We’d been here for about a week, what do I know?’

‘Maybe you should run against him,’ he suggested.

‘You’ve got jokes hey, let’s go and prepare some dinner.’ 

 

Chapter 11

            

Within a month, I used part my windfall to fund my humanitarian projects. I employed thousands of unemployed citizens, to send food parcels, clothes and blankets around Appian especially to slum dwellers. I tried to employ as many people as I could, but was restricted by budget constraints. The more I traveled around Appian, the more I witnessed the suffering of the citizens without basic food, health services and shelter. I wrote a letter and sent a proposal to the government for funding but I never received a reply.

Later that evening, relaxed at the sofa in the lounge with a half-full glass of red wine. Thoughts raced through my mind about the current state of Appian, food crises, dilapidated infrastructure and high unemployment. Charles appeared in the lounge with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. He strolled towards me and sat next to me. He kissed me on the cheek.

‘Someone’s in a good mood.’

‘How was your day?’ he asked.

‘This country is fucked up, and the worst part is, the government doesn’t want to work with me.’

‘Calm down.’

‘I’m contemplating leaking these cables that prove no government funds were spent in the last 5 years.’

‘Now you’re threading on dangerous grounds,’ he scolded me. ‘Where did you get those files from?’

‘I know a lot of people in high places,’ I bragged.

‘I’m sure you remember what happened the last time you did something like this before.’

‘I know it’s wrong alright but…’ His gentle hands on my shoulders, interrupted me before I could finish my reply. ‘Aaahh, yeah, this is good.’

‘You’re so tense, just a take a deep breath and relax,’ he commanded and I nodded.

‘This beautiful massage won’t make me forget what’s on my mind. I’d like to have more information about the government’s current programs. And I have a bad feeling there aren’t any.’

‘Why don’t you organize a meeting with the president and discuss your issues with him.’

‘That’s a good idea.’

‘If you’re not satisfied, then run for office.’ I shrugged off his suggestion.

‘I’m dead serious, why not?’

‘Maybe…. Someday but for now I want to meet the president.’

  

Chapter 12

 

Yolanda’s good deeds with her humanitarian efforts in Appian spread like wildfire. The citizens of Appian resonated with her sincere desire to improve their lives. News of her popularity reached the government corridors. The First lady, Jessica Williams was not impressed. She was seated on the edge of the bed in the bedroom, legs crossed with red silk night dress on and a half full glass of Sauvignon Blanc on her right hand as she stared at the television screen.

‘I really hate this alien girl, but I think we could use her for our benefit,’ she murmured. Then took a sip. President John Williams strolled inside the bedroom.

‘John, we have a problem.’

‘Honey, I am tired can we talk tomorrow?’

‘No, this cannot wait.’

‘Apparently, we have an opposition candidate.’

‘There were no other candidates running, last time I checked. Where did you get that from?’

‘I am talking about alien girl,’ she snapped. She needs to be neutralized.’

‘How many times do I have to say this? She is not a threat. She is running a charity organization for crying out loud.’

‘Never raise your voice at me like that,’ she warned. ‘She is not a threat now, but I heard rumors.’

‘What rumors?’

‘The citizens of Appian are whispering ideas into her ears to run for office.’

‘She seems like a naive school girl. I do not think she has political ambitions to run for office.’

‘Maybe you are right but we need her on our side,’ she added.

‘How?’

‘People listen to her. We could use her on our campaign trails and do all the dirty work for us.’

‘That is a brilliant idea,’ he exclaimed. ‘We could capitalize on her popularity, buzz and also win back voters we lost along the way.’

‘I am glad we are on the same page. We will discuss the details tomorrow,’ she said.’

President John Williams was a hard working politician since the days he was a mayor, 25 years ago but his meteoric rise to the top political ranks was facilitated by his shrewd, beautiful, and charming wife. His political contacts, experience and skills counted, but the right kind of wife, who wined and dined governors and senators behind closed bedroom doors, did the trick.

 

 Chapter 13

 

We were seated at the kitchen table, lost in the food on our plates as we dug in. Our white square-shaped ceramic plates were filled with greenish scrambled eggs seasoned with herbs, toasted slices of white bread, crispy bacon, fried diced mushrooms and a well-done banger.

I heard his feet tapping the floor under the table as he munched, and murmured a song under his breath. Our eyes crossed. He winked at me. I blushed. My eyes flitted away from his. Then I giggled.

‘I can’t wait for our wedding,’ I broke the silence.

‘Me too.’

‘You don’t sound enthusiastic about it?’

‘Trust me, I am.’

‘I’m sensing a ‘but’ coming….’

‘Don’t take this the wrong way honey. Don’t you think our wedding should be intimate and low-key?’

I pushed my plate away. ‘What?’ I shouted. ‘Are you having second thoughts about us?’

‘No, why you’d think that?’

‘I don’t know, you tell me?’

‘I feel, having a big wedding in a poverty stricken place like Appian would be very insensitive to the people.’

‘Charles, I hear you but I want this.’

‘How about we have your big wedding in Canada then?’

‘NO,’ I barked.

He sighed. ‘Have it your way then.’

‘Fine and I will.’ I rubbed it in his face.

As we stared angrily at each other. A knock on the door sounded. Our heads turned round and looked at the door.

‘I wonder who could that be, so early’ I said.

Charles sliced the banger into small pieces. I wasn’t moving either.

He shook his head, threw the fork and knife on the plate. He stood up and walked towards the door. He tilted the door knob and opened.

‘Good morning, I am messenger from the president’s household.’

‘Morning, how can I help you?’

‘They have sent me to give you this letter.’

The messenger handed the small white envelope to Charles. ‘Thanks.’

The messenger bowed slightly, turned around and walked away.

He closed the door and teared the opening of the envelope.

‘What does the letter say?’ I asked.

He gave me a cold look. He shook his head and his eyes glared at the contents of the letter as he walked towards the kitchen table.

‘It was the messenger from the president’s residence.’

‘I know that, what does the letter say?’

‘He brought this letter.’

I clenched my fists and banged the table. ‘What does the letter say?’

‘The president and the first lady have invited us for dinner tonight at their presidential residence.’

I nodded. ‘Very interesting.’

‘Do you want to go?’

‘Yeah, why wouldn’t I?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘I think this would be a perfect opportunity to get to know them.’

‘I’m not sure, I want to go there.’

I sorted and piled the plates on top of each other. I carried and put them on the sink.

‘Come on honey, it would be nice to go out, besides when was the last time we had a date night?’

‘Hmm, 2018.’

I smiled. ‘Exactly, that’s why we have to go out tonight and enjoy ourselves.’

He sighed and shrugged. ‘Why not.’

‘Fantastic, I’ll see you later, cheers.’

On my way to work, I thought of the invitation from the president and wondered. What do they want from us and why now? I guess there’s only one way to find out. Charles also came into my mind. He didn’t have much to do outside the house. Before we went to the Black Hole, he was a tutor and was on his way to become a full-time lecturer at the University of Astronomy. There were no schools for children living in the slums. He told me about his dream of opening a school and developing young children. He did have few ideas on how he’d implement his plans, but he didn’t want to use my money and fund his project. He said it didn’t feel right. 

                  

Later that evening, First lady Jessica Williams spread the white linen table cloth over the round-shaped dinner table with her maid.

‘Do not forget to bring in fresh flowers, these ones look dead,’ she commanded.

The maid bowed. ‘Yes, madam.’

‘Oh, how is the food coming along?’

‘Food is ready, madam.’

‘Excellent, I have to make sure everything is perfect and …..’

Before she could finish, she remembered something. She raced up the stairs towards the bedroom. She stormed inside the bedroom, opened the wardrobe, pulled out John’s black tuxedo suit and placed it on the edge of the bed. Car engines sounded outside the house.

‘Oh lord, I hope it is not our guests. Where the hell is my idiotic husband?’

She rushed down the stairs towards the door. John came in with his bodyguards. Her red face trembled as she glared at him.

‘Really… really John,’ she nagged. ‘Did you have to be this late? Our guests will be here any second from now.’

‘Apologies, I had a busy day with a lot of back to back meetings,’ he said in careless manner.

‘Why you are still standing there? Go take a shower and make it quick,’ she barked.

He grinned mischievously as he climbed the stairs.

 

We came out of the shower together, wet, naked, and giggling mischievously. A moment later, I opened the wardrobe saw the same old white silk sweater and pants.

‘Great,’ I muttered.

‘What is it, honey?’ he asked.

‘Who came up with this stupid idea?’

‘Huh?’

‘Why are we forced to wear the same bloody white costumes, same fuckin white sweater, pants and shoes every day?’

Charles burst out laughing as he tapped the wooden floor with his bare feet.

‘Well, it’s the law,’ he rubbed it in.

I shook my head as I pulled them out of the wardrobe.

Few minutes later, we arrived at the presidential residence. A servant escorted us towards the door. I looked at my wristwatch and nodded.

‘We’re are 5 minutes early,’ I whispered.

‘Cool, you look beautiful by the way,’ he said.

I shook my head as I chuckled. ‘Are you serious, right now? ‘I look like a clown on this. This white costume is hideous.’

 

‘John, they are here,’ Jessica shouted.

John rushed down the stairs towards her. ‘I am right behind you, my love.’

She opened the door and grinned.

‘Good evening and welcome to our residence,’ she said.

‘Thank you,’ we replied at the same time.

‘Come in and follow us,’ John said.

We strolled towards the lounge. It was a bit awkward for both of us. We were seated at the white leather couch and I didn’t know what to say.

John finally broke the ice. ‘How was your day, Charles and Yolanda?’

‘Great, thanks for asking,’ I replied.

‘Food will be served in few minutes time. In the meantime how about we catch up on everything.’ John escorted Charles towards his study. Jessica gave me a tour around the house.

 

As Charles walked inside John’s study, he noticed a lot of framed pictures on the wall. ‘Famous people, I presume?’ he asked.

John nodded. ‘Yes you could say that. They are mostly politicians and past presidents,’ he replied.

‘Impressive.’

‘I met a lot of influential people as I was climbing the political ranks many years ago.’ Charles looked around for something worthwhile, trying to make a conversation. He noticed a lot of documents piled up and untidily scattered on the desk.

‘You look like a man who takes his workload home, more often.’

John shrugged. ‘Tell me about it, as the president I have a lot of paperwork to sign off and I cannot do everything in the office.’

He opened the cabinet made from oak and picked up a bottle of whiskey. He put it on the desk with two glasses. Opened the mini-bar fridge, pulled out ice from the freezer, placed on the desk and closed the fridge.

‘What did you do before you went to space,’ he asked. Then he poured the whiskey on both glasses.

‘I was a tutor and researcher at the University of Astronomy.’

‘Impressive.’ He threw ice into the glasses like a dice and handed it to Charles. They lifted their glasses up in the air, ‘Cheers,’ they said. Then took a sip.

‘Mr President…’

John cuts in before he could continue. ‘Please call me, John.’

‘Alright, as you’re well aware, we just came from space and I haven’t followed your political career. Can you share your achievements as the president of Appian?’

‘Being voted as the president of Appian is an achievement itself. We are in progress of getting this country to its former glory. We are on track in creating a lot of employment for the people living in the slums. Lastly, we are rebuilding the economy through small companies owned by the people.

‘Bullshit, another political rhetoric,’ Charles thought. He nodded to everything John said. Pretending to be impressed and looked like he was enjoying the moment.

‘Tell me something, Charles,’ John said.

‘Yes, I’m listening.’

‘Have you ever thought of going into politics?’

‘Never,’ he replied. Then gulped the whiskey.

‘Under these current economic conditions, would you accept an opportunity like that, if it fell on your lap?’

‘Yes I would grab it with both hands,’ he replied.

‘That is good to hear. I think you will bring a fresh approach and solutions to my cabinet.’

‘Thank you, thank you Mr President, no… I mean John.’

‘I will keep in touch.’ He gave him a cold look and nodded to the fact he got him where he wanted.

 

We stood in the passageway staring at the paintings on the wall with glass of white wine in our hands.

‘How does it feel to be the first lady and what is your day like?’ I asked.

‘You have no idea how hectic it is. I have to attend gala dinners after gala dinners, charity events, entertain guests. And sometimes I act as an adviser to the president when the need arise.’

‘Wow, I envy you.’

‘It is not as glamorous as you think young lady, but it has its rewards.’

‘You must be the secret behind President John’s success,’ I inquired.

‘You could say that but that is our secret,’ she whispered. ‘Sometimes we need to kick and push our husbands to achieve a lot in life.’

‘I think I’ll follow your lead and do the same with mine as well.’

‘How old are you and Charles?’

‘I’m 22, he’s 23.’

‘You need to start now. If I never pushed John to work harder back in college, I swear we would still be living in the slums right now,’ she said. He has a playful personality and a procrastinator. He needs a little kick in the butt once in a while.’

‘I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.’

‘You seem like a lady who doesn’t like to be pushed around by their partner?’

‘Not exactly,’ I replied. Charles and I have an understanding. We never restrict each other. We allow each other space and part our happiness comes from that.’

‘I disagree. You have to nudge him in the right direction just like all wives of great men do,’ she objected.

‘Different strokes for different folks, I guess,’ I shrugged.

‘What was that?’

‘Oh, I said we’re different and I don’t have to push him. He knows what to do.’

‘I hear you now. I thought you were speaking an alien language, you learned from outer space.’

I can’t believe this dumb bitch just said that. I nodded and forced a smile. I took a deep breath as Jessica looked away to other paintings.

‘Which charity projects are you involved in?’ I asked.

‘A lot, too many to mention.’

‘That’s good, because a lot of Appian citizens are struggling to survive and no one seems to care.’

It seemed I hit where it hurt the most. She turned around abruptly and gave me a cold conspiratorial look.

‘How do you know that?’

‘Though my humanitarian projects. I’ve seen children die from starvation, lack of medical attention and no one seems to care,’ I threw another a shade.

‘How noble of you.’

I took another sip. As I was about to speak my mind, about her indifference to my poverty topic. John interrupted and shouted from the dining room.

‘Dinner is ready, come this side, ladies.’

As we strolled inside the dining room, John and Charles laughed so loud as if they’d known each other for a long time.

‘Settle down boys and let us eat,’ Jessica commanded subtly.

We sat down as the kitchen staff served the starters; mushroom soup.

‘Yolanda, how is your humanitarian project coming along?’ John asked.

‘Everything is going well so far, thanks for asking.’ I looked at Jessica in the opposite direction but her eyes looked down on her bowl.

‘I have heard nothing but great things about it. And it is unfortunate we were unable to assist you in funding.’

‘It’s alright, we’re doing quite well so far, but one year down the line. I think we will to close down.’

Few minutes later, kitchen staff walked inside the dining room and collected the empty bowls on the table, except Jessica’s. Her mushroom soup was untouched.

‘Take mine too, I never liked mushroom anyway. My system always rejects avocado and mushroom. I throw up after I eat them.’

A while later, the staff served the main course. Fillet steak served with vegetables on the side.

‘The steak tastes very good,’ Charles said.

‘Thank you, Charles,’ Jessica replied.

‘Yes, you have outdone yourself honey,’ John said.

John and Jessica gestured to each other silently as they shook and nodded their heads to each other.

‘Yolanda, would you be interested in joining my husband’s presidential campaign team?’ she asked.

‘That would be great in a perfect world,’ I replied as I sliced the steak. Charles nodded.

‘We would like you and Charles to head my husband’s presidential election campaign.’

‘Wow, this is a great opportunity my love, what do you think?’ he asked.

Yes it is, but why me?’

‘We feel you and your husband resonate with the general population and people love you so much,’ she answered.

My eyes darted at John, his eyes avoided mine and looked away.

‘How does John feel about this?’

John’s lips moved. As he was about to speak, Jessica interrupted.

‘We both discussed and agreed on it.

‘You both discussed and decided on it?’ I asked in a harsh tone.

Jessica shook her head. ‘Yes, why?’

‘What about the politicians or members of his cabinet? Don’t they have a say in all this?’

A wave of anger pulsed through her face. She’s not used to people questioning her, I could tell.

‘Do you want the job or not?’

I looked at my fiance and he gestured with a nod and a smile. I hate to disappoint him.

‘Why should we speak at these campaign trails on your behalf? The president is the one who should speak, not us.’

Jessica shook her head. I noticed her anger was about to burst.

‘If compensation is an issue, we will pay you a generous amount,’ John pleaded. I shook my head.

‘What my wife really means is, we will think about this and get back to you,’ Charles intervened.

‘Nope, there’s nothing to think about, Charles,’ I argued. ‘Something is not right here.’

Jessica picked a plate of food and threw it to the floor, shattering into pieces.

‘I have just had enough of this,’ she shouted. ‘We invited you to our warm home for dinner and you turn down a generous offer. Who do you think you are? GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.’

‘We didn’t mean to offend you ma’am but..’

She blacked out. ‘GET OUT.’

John covered his mouth with his right hand. The bodyguards manhandled us. Then escorted us out of the house as if we were gate crashers.

She slammed the door and walked back to the dining room.

 ‘Who the hell does she think she is,’ she shouted. ‘I could destroy her just like that, she doesn’t know who she is messing with.’

John shook his head. He picked up the wine glass from the dinner table and took a sip.

‘We really do not need this girl in my election campaign, she is just the talk of the country right now and as soon as the hype dies down, everyone will forget about her.’

‘No, John you still do not get it, do you?’ she objected. ‘The Appian public will not forget alien girl and his lovesick boyfriend anytime soon.’

He nodded as he gulped the wine. ‘Whatever you say honey, I am with you,’ he assured her of his support.

She nodded. ‘That is good to hear that from you. She sighed. I will teach that girl a lesson she will never forget.’

 

Chapter 14

 

We sat silently in the lounge. Our eyes stared at the blank television screen as if there was a program on.

‘I think I owe you an apology,’ I said.

‘You think?’

‘I know I embarrassed you, I’m sorry. But I’d never apologize for my feelings.’

‘Your behavior at the president’s house was appalling. You need to go back there and apologize.’

‘Hell no, I won’t do that, mister.’

‘What?’

‘You heard me. As a matter of fact I think you were right.’

‘About what?’

‘Running as a presidential candidate.’

‘Are you serious, right now?’

‘Yes I am. I want to run for the presidential office.’

Charles’s facial expression changed and glowed. ‘That’s my girl.’

‘Jessica and John tried to absorb me into their abyss, because they are threatened by my influence. At that moment, I had an epiphany. I’m ready to run for office.’

‘In spite of everything, I feel you should’ve been polite.’

He was right. ‘I know… I know Charles.’ I agreed. I leaned my head on his lap.

‘Maybe you’re right about Jessica. There was something off about her.’

‘It was a trap. We nearly fell into it.’

‘Maybe it was, what if there are repercussions to what you did?’

‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.’

‘Enough with the president and her conniving wife. Let’s go to the bedroom. We have a lot to talk about.’

‘Yes, we have a wedding to look forward to.’

‘Amongst other things, yeah.’

 

 

 

 

Chapter 15

 

The night before my wedding, my assistants and I put on finishing touches on the logistics.

It seemed like everyone in Appian, looked forward to my wedding. I thought of changing the venue at the city hall or a church in the eleventh hour, because I expected a lot of guests.

‘I need your suggestions, I ran out of ideas,’ I said.

‘How about we hold the wedding service at a deserted town nearby,’ the assistants added.

‘I agree because I heard rumors. The government officials are trying to stop the wedding, because it will divert attention away from President John’s election campaign,’ said the second assistant.

‘Typical of him and his wife,’ I murmured.

A knock at the door sounded and it opened. A messenger walked inside with a medium sized white envelope in his hand. He handed it to me with a pen.

‘Please sign here ma’am,’ he said as his index finger pointed at the bottom of the page. I signed and gave it back to him. I tore the envelope then read the contents of the letter.

‘Oh my god. Why all these things have to happen to me,’ I exclaimed.

My assistants moved closer to me with a concerned look on their faces.

‘What’s wrong?’ the assistant asked.

‘You were right all along,’ she said.

Charles heard her shout and dropped everything in the study and rushed to the lounge.

‘I heard you shout what’s going on? Are you alright?’ he asked.

‘The government has banned us from having the wedding in the city,’ I cried.

‘That’s impossible, let me see the letter,’ he exclaimed.

His eyes scanned the contents of the letter. Then tore it into shreds. And threw it up in the air. The shredded pieces of paper flew down in slow motion like they were white rose petals at a wedding.

‘This is no longer a red tape it’s personal, someone doesn’t want our wedding to happen. Now where are we going to find an alternative venue at this time?’ He asked.

‘Don’t despair honey. We’ll have the wedding at a nearby abandoned city or town. Right girls?’

He looked at the assistants for confirmation.

They nodded. ‘By 9 A.M. tomorrow, everything will be ready,’ the second assistant promised.

‘Stick to the decorations theme, I asked for.’ I commanded.

‘Yes, ma’am.’ The assistants nodded then rushed out of the house.

‘Phew, that was a close call,’ he said.

‘We’re not out of the woods yet.’

‘Have a little faith. Everything is going to be alright.’

‘Do you think Jessica and John are behind this?’

‘Of course, who else?’

‘Well, they don’t know us, because nothing and no one is going to stop my wedding tomorrow.’

‘That’s the spirit. Everything will go very well tomorrow,’ he said confidently.

 

 Chapter 16

 

Later that evening, Jessica was seated at the dining room. Murmuring a hymn under her breath as she moved her head sideways. She heard the door slam.

‘John is that you?’

‘Yes it is me,’ he replied.

‘Come to the dining room, your food is ready.’

John strolled inside and stood next to Jessica.

‘I am not hungry. I just want to go to sleep.’

‘Sit down and eat your food.’

John sat and put the briefcase on the floor next to his feet. ‘What are we having?’

‘I have made your favorite; lasagne and the finest bottle of champagne,’ she replied.

‘Champagne? What are we celebrating?’

‘Nothing special.’

‘You seem like you are in a good mood today?’

‘I feel great.’

‘Do you mind sharing?’ he asked. Then took a sip from the glass.

‘Let’s just say, I have put some people in their place today.’

He shook his head. ‘Let me guess, Yolanda and Charles?’

‘That is for me to know and for you to find out,’ she laughed.

‘What have they ever done to you? I thought you have forgotten all about that.’

‘All I heard is, they are not allowed to have their wedding in Appian. Apparently their wedding has been canceled.’

‘Are you behind it?’

Her eyes flitted away from his. Then gulped the champagne in her glass.

‘No, I have not done anything wrong.’

‘Anyway, it doesn’t matter because Charles and Yolanda’s wedding is going ahead as scheduled tomorrow morning.’

‘What?’

‘Yes.’

‘How?’

‘I have no idea?’

‘Where?’

‘At a nearby ghost town or something, but I am not sure which one?’

She stood up and stared at him. ‘Where did you hear that?’

‘It does not matter. Leave the young couple alone. They had a lot to deal with in the past few weeks.’

She stood up, then stormed out of the dining room while John looked on, laughing at her reaction. She picked up the phone in the lounge and dialed it. John heard her scream and shouting from the dining room but couldn’t hear what she was talking about. She slammed the phone against the wall and the only word John heard was ‘FUCK!’

  

Chapter 17

 

The next morning, the city buzzed about the wedding. The media dubbed it as the “Wedding of the century”. Appian citizens anticipated the fairy-tale wedding. Not only did they love and resonate with the couple from space. Yolanda and Charles were like telenovela stars. Their physical features looked perfect in; body, fine skin, foreign and beautiful English accents and their demeanor. They were aspirational.

The wedding was a perfect escape. An escape from the cold and harsh reality of their impoverished lives.

 

 

Chapter 18

 

Charles heard a knock from the door and it opened. The assistants walked in.

‘Good Morning, Charles,’ they said at the same time.

‘Morning ladies.’

‘Are you ready for your big day?’ they asked.

He nodded. ‘I think I am.’

Overwhelmed, they hugged him and squeezed. Feeling awkward, he tapped them on their backs reluctantly.

‘Easy there. It’s Okay, you can let go now.’

‘Is she awake yet?’

‘No not yet,’ he replied.

‘Can I make you some breakfast while we wait for her?’ One of the assistant asked.

Charles nodded as they strolled towards the kitchen.

‘Everything is ready to go, the decorations and logistics are all ready,’ the second assistant said.

‘All you have to do, is show up,’ the first assistant said.

‘You have no idea, how grateful we are,’ he said.

‘You are welcome sir.’

‘We have always wanted to coordinate a wedding like this. We have also realized our dream too.’

 

500 years ago, Westville, a town 30 miles from Appian, used to be one of the most flourishing and richest towns in Appian. It was one of the last towns to have natural resources reserves underground, like gas, oil, gold and coal. The town prospered until the last century when the government enforced the policy to co-own all land, real estate, businesses and corporations on a 50/50 deal. Which stipulated the co-owners to pay taxes on revenues and profits. This policy led to the collapse of the country’s economy. More than 60% of Appian’s workforce were left unemployed and by the year 9988, all of Westville population immigrated to Appian for a better life.

On the 5th April 9999, Westville was different, it was no longer a ghost town like it was a day earlier. The mild weather was a bonus. There were no little eddies of wind whistling and whirling dust into spirals. People flocked to Westville in droves as they pushed each trying to find the best seat and view in town. The wedding aisle was strategically placed in center at a crossroads. The streets were single lanes (I think) in each direction but still as wide as highways. . Westville was covered in white literally. All the dilapidated buildings within the block of the wedding venue were covered with large white sheets. It was unreal. The sheets that blocked the view from the windows was cut from inside the buildings, so that people could view the proceedings. The road and pavements were also covered with white sheets and the guest’s usual white outfits matched with the decor and theme. Some of the guests brought in home-made white flags and large baskets full of shredded pieces of white fabric; they looked like white rose petals. Every building window within a block was occupied as people sang, cried and waved their white flags.

  

Chapter 19

 

I stared at my reflection in the mirror and smiled.

‘This is it,’ I murmured. ‘The day I’ve dreamt of, all my life is here.’

My assistants appeared from behind. ‘You are so beautiful even our first lady would be jealous of you right now,’ the first assistant said.

‘The dress is perfect,’ the second assistant said.

‘Thank you, but I’m scared.’

‘Scared of what?’

‘I am afraid, they’re going to arrest me for breaching the national dress code.

‘It is a risk indeed, but do you want to wear the same old white shabby sweater and pants on your wedding day?’

I shook my head. ‘Hell no.’

A knock sounded from the door. ‘Is that you Charles?’ I asked.

‘Yeah it’s me.’

‘You know the groom is not supposed to see the bride before the wedding, right?’

‘I know all that and I don’t care. I’m coming in.’

The door opened. As he strolled inside. My relationship with Charles flashed before my eyes.

I remembered the first time I saw him 8 years ago at junior high, queuing at the admission office. My parents were busy filling in my application form. I felt a pat on my shoulder. I turned around abruptly and saw a nervous looking boy with glasses. He wore a black G-unit t-shirt and torn jeans and green sneakers. ‘Do you mind lending me you pen?’ Those were his first words.

Date nights, rock n roll and hip hop concerts attended together, break-ups and our reunion on the spacecraft to the Black Hole, and the rest is history.

As he walked towards me, Charles appeared like he was in a dream. Fog from different directions appeared and for a minute we looked like we were standing on the clouds. His white tailored Nehru suit fitted well in his chiseled frame.

My daydreaming was interrupted by snapping sounds. I slid out of it. It felt like I was in a hypnosis session. I saw his fingers snapping up in my face.

‘Hello, anyone home?’ he joked.

‘Yes I am,’ I said. ‘I thought we’ve lost you there for a minute.’

‘I’m nervous, that’s all.’

‘You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.’

‘Thank you, and you’re not so bad yourself.’ I didn’t want to inflate his ego.

‘That’s all you can say about my outfit, not bad?’ He shouted with a smile on his face. We burst out laughing.

‘Alright, you look good in that outfit, my love.’

‘Now that’s better, let’s go.’

‘FYR, the moment we step out of our house with our wedding outfits on. Just know we have committed a crime.’

‘I’m aware of that. I’m sure the authorities will understand, besides we’re still getting used to the Y10K constitution.’

I nodded with a smile. ‘That’s the Charles I know and fell in love with.’

The moment we stepped out of the house, neighbors cheered and clapped as we strolled towards the white 4-wheel carriage. The fake white and red roses placed around the carriage and the synthetic leather seats appeared so glamorous. 6 white mules, 2 in each row pulled the carriage with white ropes tied around their neck and mouth. Horses were extinct. I turned and looked at my assistants and nodded.

‘You have outdone yourself guys. Thank you.’

The assistants bowed at the same time. We waved back at our neighbors as we climbed on to the carriage. The road and pavement leading to wedding venue was packed. It seemed like everyone waited for us to pass through like it was a royal wedding.         

 

John and Jessica were seated on the couch in the lounge, staring at the television screen.

‘I cannot believe everyone is watching this circus of a wedding, including you John. You should be out there on your election campaign trails by now. Instead you are watching television like a lazy slum bastard.’

‘Could you please give me a break, it is a Saturday and I also deserve a break,’ he pleaded.

‘You lost your balls a long time ago. Sometimes I ask myself why I married you.’ She stormed out of the lounge. John heard her footsteps tapping as she raced up the stairs.

‘You cannot emotionally blackmail me, like you did when I was a young man,’ he turned round and continued watching the wedding without any care in the world.

 

Chapter 20

 

The crowd roared from the pavements and building windows as we passed through. We waved back with enthusiasm. My white wedding dress and gloves made me feel like a princess. As the carriage was 50 meters away from the venue, I felt like I was in a lucid dream.

Everything moved in slow motion. Hundreds of thousands of White rose petals fell from the dilapidated high-rise buildings, the road turned foggy. And the voices from the crowd sounded like they were far away. My stomach ached for a few seconds. ‘God, I hope it’s not a bug, not now,’ I thought. It felt unreal and surreal. The crowd closed the road after the carriage passed them. The carriage stopped next to the aisle in the center of the four-way road. Charles stepped out of the carriage first and stretched out his hand. Then helped me climb down the steps. And we strolled on the red carpet towards the priest. We glanced at each other. Then we stopped and stood in front of the priest.

Some of the viewers and guests were overwhelmed with emotion as the proceedings went on. Most were entertained and some cried tears of joys. After we finished reading our wedding vows, the priest closed the bible.

‘Charles and Yolanda, I pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride.’

He unveiled me and our lips locked. The guests clapped, roared, cried, chanted and waved the flags as the shredded pieces of white fabric fell from the sky like it was snow. His eyes turned red and eventually teary.

‘Don’t cry my love, I know exactly how you’re feeling,’ I cried.

He lifted me up and walked on the red carpet towards the carriage in his arms as the guests near the aisle clapped and waved at us. 

 

Chapter 21

        

The next morning, back to reality. We were seated on the couch in the lounge. My mind went into overdrive. Memories flashed back to me. I thought about how my life turned out, since we arrived back from space four months ago. I just wanted to know what really happened to planet earth. We only spent two weeks in the Black Hole, but when we returned, the year was 9999. How was it possible? Did Xotron, Xakes and Cleopatra have anything to do with this, when they fought in the Black Hole? I took a deep sighing breath. I guess I will never know. Charles strolled inside the lounge.

‘Morning, you early bird, are you alright?’ He asked.

‘Yes I am, it’s just I have a lot on my mind lately.’

‘Like what?’

‘I think we need to find jobs.’

‘…but you have a job?’

‘I’m talking about real jobs. Careers for both of us.’

‘You are serious about this, huh?’

‘Yes I am.’

‘I want to be part of projects that will inspire and have a great impact on people’s lives.’

‘Maybe you’re on to something there. Everything is messed up in this country. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the warmth from the citizens but I feel they deserve better.’

‘You’re absolutely right. The strange part is, we’re living in a post-apocalyptic era. And I thought I’d never live long to get to see this day, never.’

‘How about we move to Canada?’ I suggested.

‘The Yolanda I know, never runs away from a challenge.’

I sighed. ‘You’re right, forgive me, I’m not thinking straight?’

‘2 weeks ago, you declared you’re going to run in the presidential elections?’

‘Yes, I did,’ I chuckled.

‘How’s that coming along?’

I burst out with laughter. Then I tapped his shoulder.

‘I was angry, I wasn’t serious about it.’

‘Not serious?’ he exclaimed. ‘Just a while ago, you said we need to have ‘real’ jobs. What’s up with that?

‘I don’t know what to say.’

‘Why not, you’re smart, and the people love you.’

‘Stop playing with me. You know I’m very shy and scared of speaking in front of a crowd.’

Charles shrugged. ‘If you say so, but don’t underestimate the influence you have.’

‘Influence?’

‘I have seen how the neighbors talk about you. Slum dwellers worship you.’

I nodded. ‘Maybe you’re right. I’ll think about it.’

‘That’s a good start.’

‘Enough about me. When are you going to get a job?’

‘Where would I begin in this God forsaken place?’

‘You are the man of the house, think of something.

Charles nodded. ‘I have few ideas and I hope they work.’

As I was about to say something, a loud bang sounded from the front door. We jumped and stood up. We turned around abruptly in panic. Teargases were thrown inside the house through the window. We coughed uncontrollable as we tried to cover our nose and mouth and that is all I remember.

 

Heavily armed soldiers, wearing black uniform with gas mask over their faces broke the front door and stormed inside. They picked Charles and Yolanda from the floor and dragged them out of the house towards the convoy.

 

[*Chapter 22      *]

 

I heard people’s voices. They grew louder and louder. My eyes snapped open and glanced around the hall. Everyone chanted and cheered as 2 women with bruises and blood on their faces fought each other. I stood up. I tried to figure out where I was, but the loud noise and excruciating headache distracted me. I looked up at the windows. They were covered with metal bars. I realized I was detained.

The crowd dispersed after the other woman was knocked down to the floor. Prison guards and kitchen staff entered the hall with a large pots of food. I walked towards the injured woman. I pulled her up and shouted for help at the guards.

‘Guards, there’s an injured lady here. She needs medical attention immediately.’

The guards ignored me. The prisoners didn’t. ‘Shit,’I mumbled. I attracted attention to myself.

‘Who is this?’

‘I have never seen her before.’

I knew they were talking about me. I turned round slowly and saw 2 dirty, ugly, tough looking women wearing shabby clothes approaching towards me as they clenched their fists. I shook my head nervously.

‘Listen, I don’t want any trouble. I just wanted to help the lady on the floor, okay.’ They ignored me and walked closer like a pack of wolves. I clenched my fists. The first woman threw a punch towards my face. I dodged down and swung an upper cut punch blow to her face and swung another punch to her gut with my left fist. She dropped down to the floor. As I was about to kick her face. She lifted her hands, a gesture of surrender. The other woman took 2 steps back slowly. More women walked towards me and as I clenched my fists, someone interrupted.

‘Yolanda Roberts, you are summoned to appear in court for violation of the national dress code act,’ the prison guard announced.

Saved by the bell, I ran as fast as I could to the exit before my cell mates caught up with me. I followed the guard up the stairs and realized I was inside the court room. People gave a round of an applause as I entered and sat on the bench.

‘Order, silence in the court,’ Judge commanded. Charles strolled inside, a few seconds later and also sat on the bench. Our eyes crossed, we nodded at the same time signaling we are okay.

‘Charles and Yolanda Roberts, you are accused of breaching the national dress code act, how do you plead?’

I rolled my eyes and sighed. ‘Guilty, your honor.’

Charles shrugged. ‘Guilty, your honor.’

‘Yes you are,’ the judge barked at us. ‘During your wedding ceremony, almost everyone in Appian witnessed you two violate the law and apparently your fans loved it. And consequently they want to dress in any way they want. I was going to send you straight to prison, but I’ve heard a lot of positive things about you. I’m going to be lenient on both of you, because you seem to have absolutely no idea about our constitution. You are required to be updated as soon as possible, get the book. Court Dismissed.’

Charles jumped up and punched the air.

I took a deep breath. Then I ran towards him and fell into his arms and hugged.

‘That was a close call,’ I whispered.

‘I know.’

Our supporters cheered and clapped as we walked outside the court. We shook hands with a lot of people outside.

I had a moment of clarity.

The conversation I had with Charles about running for the presidential election, made a lot of sense. I glanced at the people outside the court, jumping for joy. I realized my husband was right. I am popular and I have a lot of influence in Appian.

‘Come closer people. I have an important announcement to make.’

Television crews, reporters and journalists charged towards me like a pride of hungry lions, pushing against each other’s microphone closer to my face.

I didn’t know which mic to speak on, they were too many.

‘We’d like to thank you for your overwhelming support on our wedding and our current situation. We really appreciate it.’ The crowd clapped briefly and one of the journalists interrupted.

‘You said you have an announcement to make?’ she shouted.

‘I’m officially running for president in the upcoming elections,’ I announced.

I could tell by their reactions, the public was thrown off-guard my announcement.

  

Chapter 23

 

A chill shivered down Jessica’s spine. Her body trembled and froze. The cup of tea on her hand dropped and shattered to pieces on the wooden floor.

John Williams’s bodyguards opened the door for him at his residence. He heard the sound of plates and glasses shattering inside. They rushed inside and charged inside. The bodyguards came back from the lounge.

‘All clear, you can come in, Mr President,’ the bodyguard said.

‘What was that?’ he asked.

‘It’s the first lady, I think she is angry.’

He sighed. ‘I thought we were under attack. Alright you can go, I will handle this.’

He strolled inside the lounge. Jessica gulped the white wine. Then poured another one on the glass. He looked around the lounge in disbelief, broken pieces of glasses, plates and mirrors all over the floor.

‘Jessica, what have you done?’ he shouted.

She belched. ‘What do you think?’

‘What is wrong with you?’

‘I should be asking you the same question.’

He shrugged. ‘What are you on about?

‘I am talking about your new opposition in the elections, dummy.’

‘Oh that.’

‘Yes that.’ she barked. ‘I told you from the start. We should have contained that alien bitch and you said she is not a threat.’

‘I will fix this.’

‘You have slipped John and now I am forced to take matters into my own hands.’

He chuckled. ‘I am the president of this country, because I worked hard to be where I am today. Don’t you dare undermine my efforts and achievements.’

‘Oh please, spare me with your sentimental bullshit. If it wasn’t for me, you would still be living in the slums like the rest of those scums.’

‘Oh really?’

‘Shut up.’ She snapped. She took a sip from the glass ‘We have a big issue at hand, what are you going to do about it, Mr big shot?’

‘I have this under control and do not shout me.’

‘Alright then Mr big shot. What is your plan?’ she whispered.

‘The same plan as always, eliminate the opposition.’

Jessica nodded. ‘I thought you were getting soft on me.’

‘I am not soft.’

‘You know what to do.’

 

Chapter 24

      

A week later, a wave of citizens started taking an interest in the affairs of the country.

My declaration to run for office, gave them a great deal of hope and courage to fight the current conditions of Appian.

No one knew why the opposition candidates dropped out of the presidential election race in the eleventh hour. As a result only 1% of Appian population turned up to vote. President John Williams was the only candidate running on the ballot. My supporters were worried, I’d quit running as a candidate, once the going got tough.

We were seated at the dining room. we scribbled, shuffled, leafed through papers amongst each other. Drafting my political manifesto and objectives.

‘It’s going to be a long year, I can feel it,’ I said.

‘This is going to be your year.’

I shrugged. ‘I just want the people to believe in themselves again that’s all.’

‘That’s good.’

‘If I manage to restore their dignity, a courage to believe in themselves and each other. We can overcome poverty and unemployment.’

Charles nodded. ‘That’s the spirit.’ He lifted his right hand in the air and I also lifted mine. Then high-fived.

‘First things first, we need take the advice of the judge, remember what he said.’

‘How can I forget?’

‘We need to study the laws and the constitution.’

‘I think we should hire law experts to simplify everything for us.’

‘You do that. I will travel around Appian to listen to the concerns of the citizens.’ Charles nodded as he wrote on the notepad.

‘We have a month and a half to prepare. We can’t do this alone, we need to have our own election campaign staff.’

A gentle knock on the door sounded. I stood up with enthusiasm and walked towards the door.

‘I’ll get that.’ I tilted the door knob and opened the door.

‘Who’s that Yolo?’ he asked.

I sighed. ‘What do you want?’

‘Good evening, Yolanda.’

‘What are you two doing here?’

‘Can we come in?’

‘Of course, come in.’

They nodded at the same time, then walked inside. Charles turned around abruptly and stood up.

‘Mr President and First lady, what a surprise, it’s a pleasure having you in our home.’

‘Thank you, Charles.’ Jessica said.

‘Have a seat guys, please.’

‘Thanks,’ John said.

‘What would you like, tea, coffee or snacks?’ I offered.

‘No, thanks we have just eaten,’ she replied.

I glanced at my husband and noticed how star-struck he was, having the president and first lady in his living room. My eyes darted at John then to Jessica. We were seated in an awkward position, they smiled at both of us. I wasn’t amused or phased.

‘I came here to apologize for my behavior when we had dinner at our residence a few weeks ago. I should not have acted that way at all especially since you were our guests of honor,’ Jessica said.

John nodded. ‘My wife regrets her actions on that night and it reflects badly on my part.’

Charles nodded, impressed with the apology, he turned and looked at me to accept her apology.

I shrugged. ‘Apology accepted. I’d also like to know. What are you really here for?’

‘Well, to seek your forgiveness and congratulate you on your brave decision to run for office,’ Jessica said.

‘Yes, congratulations,’ John added.

I bowed. ‘Appreciated.’

‘Our offer still stands about you and Charles joining my cabinet,’ John offered.

‘No thanks, but I have my own mandate now.’

‘Are you trying to take us on?’ Jessica blurted.

I shook my head. ‘Aha, I knew this was all an act.’

‘Can I give you few days to think this through?’

I shook my head. ‘My mind is made up.’

‘If you take our offer, you will be set for the rest of your lives,’ he added.

‘The citizens of Appian are suffering and living impoverished lives. I feel this is my time to uplift them and revive the country’s economy to prosperity.’

‘Are you saying you can do a better job than my husband?’ Jessica interrupted.

‘I think I can do better. The country can do better,’ I confessed.

‘Ahem, Yolanda do you realize who you’re going against with?’

‘I think I have an idea.’

‘Have you ever asked yourself? Why my political adversaries dropped out in the last two presidential elections?’ he asked.

‘You muscled them to quit.’ I replied.

‘Exactly,’ He exclaimed. ‘Why don’t you just be a good girl and do as you are told?’

John and Jessica stood up at the same time.

‘I respect your decision and thanks for your time,’ John said.

I rolled my eyes. ‘You’re welcome.’

I stood up and opened the door. They nodded, then exited. And I slammed it and walked towards Charles.

‘I’d appreciate it if my husband defended my honor.’

‘Yolo, you stood your ground. What is the problem?’ he asked.

‘They threatened me,’ I barked at him. They disrespected me in my own house.’

‘This may sound harsh, but you’re in politics. Get used to it and there may be more to come.’

‘They can bring it. I’m ready for them.’

‘I know you believe in yourself. You don’t have to convince me.’

‘Thanks my love. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I’ll try.’

Charles took a glance through the window. ‘The president and the first lady are still here.’ I strolled towards the window and peered like a nosy neighbor.

‘I’m sure they’re talking about us.’

 

Chapter 25

 

Seated at the auditorium in the government building, John held a brief session with his cabinet members.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you one thing. If we lose this election in June. You will lose your jobs and you will live in the slums. I do not think you would enjoy living in the slums like the rest of them do you?’

The tension and anxiety among the cabinet staff was evident. The staff shook their heads.

‘Very Well, what do you have for me, Scott?’

‘We have gathered Intel about this broad, Yolanda Roberts,’ Scott said.

‘What kind of Intel?’ John asked.

‘Damning evidence that could damage her reputation and force her to quit running.’

‘Impressive, Scott, I knew you would never let me down, tell me more.’

  

President John Williams was scheduled for an interview in the evening.

The Television studio, was always packed to full capacity as audiences came in droves to watch Becky’s TV Show, but not that night, president John Williams was a guest.

The attendance was embarrassingly small. The audience clapped as Becky appeared behind the beige curtains as she strolled towards the center of the stage.

‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Becky’s TV show, President John Williams is our guest tonight and he has something to share with us. A round of an applause for our president.’

John appeared behind the curtain, waved to the audience and only few clapped. He shook Becky’s hands and sat on the couch.

‘Mr President, how are you?’

‘I feel good, Thanks.’

‘The last time we spoke you were the only candidate running for office. And now there are two candidates. What are your chances of winning this time?’

‘I am positive I will win. I have the best campaign team.’

‘It seems Yolanda has captured the imagination of Appian?’

‘What you are talking about?’

‘Surely you have seen or heard about her great influence around Appian?’

‘What influence?’

‘Her humanitarian projects, popularity, her beautiful wedding and the trial?’

‘Oh yes, I may have heard about that.’

‘Does it bother you, she may win the elections?’

‘Not at all, Yolanda Roberts knows absolutely nothing about politics and she will be exposed for what she is.’

‘What do you mean Mr President?’

‘The real reason people are fascinated with her is, people do not know her really well. As soon as people discover what she did to this country. They will not see her with the same eyes.

‘Go on?’

‘Yolanda Roberts is an extra-terrestrial.’

‘I thought we are passed that. And where are you going with this?’

‘Both were last seen on earth in 2018 and they only came back now in 9999. Where were they in the past 7979 years?’

‘That is a very interesting observation.’

‘What kind of humans live for more than 7900 years? Where were they all this time?’

‘I do not know, but we need to bring Mrs Yolanda Roberts to the studio next time and ask her about these allegations.’

‘Bring her on. She will choke and finally admit.’

‘Do you have evidence to back up your claim?’

‘You do not need proof for that.’

‘Why?’

‘I will not answer that question. Just ask yourself, what were they doing for the past 7979 years?’

‘Do you think Appian is safe?’

‘Under my leadership, Yes.’

‘Do you think Appian will be safe under the leadership of Yolanda?’

‘Do people trust someone who has lived for more than 7900 years in another planet?’

‘I do not think so,’ Becky replied.

‘Exactly. People should open their eyes and vote for a man they know.’

‘Interesting.’

‘What if she wins the presidential elections? Then a great number of spaceships appear out of nowhere and decide to plant a colony in Appian?’

‘Those are serious allegations, Mr President.’

‘I do not care, I will do anything to protect my citizens.’ Becky turned and looked at the other camera on her left.

‘Well, you have heard it from the mule’s mouth, till we meet again.

 

A while later in the evening at the presidential residence in the lounge. Jessica and John partied and celebrated their small victory with a bottle of champagne.

‘You did well in that interview,’ she said.

‘Thank you, I would not have done it. If it wasn’t for you.’

Jessica nodded and chuckled. ‘Never forget that.’

‘I think we need to hit them again.’

‘No need to rush. There will be plenty of time for that.’

‘Do you think people believed what I said?’

‘Absolutely, you were great.’

‘I cannot afford to live in the slums.’

‘We will not. You see we need to strike again.’

‘I agree.’

‘Good, I see you are focused these days.’ She said in kinky voice.

‘Oh yeah, come here.’ She locked her red lipsticked lips on John’s dry and cracked-up lower lip. She snatched the champagne glass from his right hand and put it on the table. Suddenly she sprinted away from him and raced up the stairs giggling. John chased her like a lovesick boy.

‘As a president of this country, I demand you to come here.’

‘Catch me if you can, lover boy.’ They disappeared into their dark bedroom and giggled behind the closed bedroom door.

  

Chapter 26

 

Our eyes glared at the television screen without moving or saying anything to each other. The tension was so thick, if you walked in the room at that moment, you’d have felt it. I picked up the remote, switched the TV off. Then I threw it away.

‘Damn you, John,’ I yelled. ‘I’m back where I started.’

‘Calm down, it’s not the end of the world. We still a have a month to go.’

‘People are starting to believe what he’s saying.’

‘As I told you before, it’s the oldest trick in the book of politics. You have a chance of getting back at him too.’

‘How?’ I asked. ‘I could really use your input.’

He shrugged. ‘I think you should beat him at his own game and if you do it right. You’d have an edge over him.’

‘How?’

‘Find his weakness or dig some dirt on him.’

‘That’s not my style. I don’t want to send negative campaign messages.’

‘Well, you might as well quit now, because you can’t win playing fair.’

I shook my head. ‘I’m aware what politics are all about, but I will do it my way.’

‘That’s good for a start. What’s your strategy?’

‘I’ll have to do more positive campaign messages that will resonate with the people. He nodded.

‘That’s the spirit.’ He kissed me on the forehead and tried to kiss me on the lips. I pushed him away.

‘Not tonight. I have a headache and a million things on my mind.’

He threw his hands in the air and sighed. ‘This election has made you forget, you have a husband at home.’

‘What?’ I exclaimed. ‘I don’t believe this. I thought we had an understanding and had your full backing on this. What is the problem?’

‘I support you 100% but I have needs.’

I sighed. What is it with men and sex? ‘My love, I don’t want to argue or fight with you. I’m going to bed.’ I stood up and walked out of the lounge.

‘Where are you going?’ he asked. ‘We still have a lot to talk about.’

‘Whatever.’

I lay on the bed, eyes wide awake with a heavy heart. The commotion inside my head overwhelmed me. For a second, I contemplated withdrawing from running but I shook the idea out of my head. I took a deep breath and exhaled. I’ve been in far worse situations than this. I can’t quit now. I will continue doing my campaign trails around Appian until I win.

 

The next morning, Charles poured orange juice from the glass jar on two glasses in the kitchen table. Breakfast was ready. Yolanda wasn’t up yet. He leaned against the kitchen sink as he stared at the small television screen next to the microwave.

President John Williams’s TV interview was replayed on different channels.

‘That bastard will get what’s coming to him,’ he murmured.

 

I rubbed my eyes, feeling refreshed, and in a better state than I was last night. I scrolled inside the kitchen. ‘It smells nice up in here,’ I said.

‘Good Morning your highness. I’ve made your favorite breakfast,’ he said.

I nodded. ‘I can see that, my loyal servant.’ I sat on the white wooden chair, I picked up the orange juice glass then took a sip.

‘Breakfast is served. We have an omelet, bacon, mushrooms, bangers and french toast.’

‘Thanks, my love, you shouldn’t have.’

‘Listen, about last night…’

I cut in before he went further. ‘Don’t mention it, all is forgiven besides I’ve made up my mind.’

‘About?’

‘The presidential elections,’ I replied.

‘I will not quit. Anyway why is the telly off? I swear I heard it play on my way here.’ I stood up and picked the remote but Charles took it away from me.

‘What’s up with you?’ I asked. ‘Are we fighting over a remote now?’

‘I don’t want you to watch the television. Eat first,’ he commanded.

‘You know, I don’t even like watching television, I just want to see what’s on the news.’

‘You are the talk of Appian. Everyone is talking about the president’s interview last night.’ I grabbed his hand, snatched the remote away from him and clicked the power button.

I watched the media crucify me. They Sided with President John Williams’s unfounded allegations. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks.

‘Most of this is not true. Why do they have to take it there all the time? It’s not fair,’ I cried.

‘Come here, everything is going to be alright.’

He wrapped his arms around me, my head leaned against his chest.

‘I’m going to the lounge.’

‘What about your breakfast?’

‘I’ve lost my appetite.’

‘No, I can’t accept that. You have to eat to get your energy levels up.’

I sat on the couch, then switched on the television. ‘No, thanks, I want to see how the people of Appian react to this.’

During the course of the day, Charles tried to cheer me up but I wasn’t in the mood. I spent more than 5 days at home in hiding, from the public eye. I failed to return messages, phone calls to my campaign staff. And I didn’t bother to honor my campaign trail speaking engagements for the week. I slept at the spare bedroom and I was not on speaking terms with Charles.

 

Chapter 27

 

Defense Minister, Scott Adams, President John Williams and first lady Jessica Williams were seated in the dining room at the president’s residence. They raised their champagne glasses in the air.

‘The job was well executed, well done, soldier,’ John complimented Scott.

‘You have done well, boys,’ she said. ‘It is a pity, we could have been friends with alien girl, but she chose to be my enemy.’

‘Do you think she will come back from this?’ John asked. Then took a sip from the glass.

‘No chance in hell. She is finished,’ Jessica replied.

‘Never underestimate your enemy ma’am,’ Scott warned.

‘Spoken like a true soldier,’ John said.

Jessica gulped the last drop from the champagne glass and stood up.

‘Gentlemen, before I leave you, I have one question?’

‘What do you want to know, my love?’

‘Is it true that alien girl has canceled all her scheduled election campaign trips?’

‘I heard she is hiding at her house, self-destructing,’ John replied.

‘The stories are all true ma’am,’ Scott replied. They burst out laughing their lungs out as Jessica clapped once.

‘Well, I am happy to hear that, good night, gents,’ she said.

‘Good night,’ they said at the same time. They looked on as she walked up the stairs and disappeared into the corridors.

‘Scott, what is the next plan?’

‘Nothing boss, we have to wait this out and see,’ Scott replied.

‘Wait for what?’

‘Wait for our enemy to make a move.’

‘NO, NO… he barked, paused, turned round to check if Jessica heard him shout then continued.

‘I want the people of Appian to hate and forget about her. I want her political fantasies to be shut down the ground.’ He clenched his left fist and banged it against the table.

Scott nodded. ‘If you put like that. I will try to dig up more dirt, but my staff says there is nothing else they can find against her.’

‘Even if you cannot find anything against our beloved Yolanda. Use the media to destroy her political aspirations,’ he commanded.

‘Yes, sir.’ Scott obeyed.

‘The people of Appian are starting to believe in me again and we cannot afford to mess this up.’

‘I agree. The broad was starting to become a problem….’

John interrupted him ‘And now the problem has been solved. All thanks to you, soldier.’ They raised their glasses in the air. ‘Cheers.’

 

Chapter 28

                  

I was awoken by a loud bang. I stood up from bed, stormed out of the bedroom. I realized no one was inside or knocking. I saw Charles through the window, walking out of the gate. I breathed a sigh of relief and stood in front of the mirror next to the front door. Flashbacks of my critics, ringed off the hook in my head like a broken record. I saw a stranger in the mirror. A dirty woman, feeling sorry for herself.

A moment flashed before my eyes. It was like déjàvu all over again. When I was on the run at a secret location in Russia. I remember the excruciating pain, all alone in a foreign country. I felt defeated and contemplated committing suicide during those dark hours.

I sighed and shook my head. I’ve broken a promise, I made to myself back in that lodge. I’d never, ever, feel sorry for myself ever again. I slid out of my misery instantly. My face lit up. I glared at my reflection. I barely recognized the person I saw in the mirror.

‘Gosh, I look like one of the ladies from the slums,’ I said to myself. I closed my eyelids and I took one long deep breath. Then I opened my eyelids.

‘I redeemed myself in space. I successfully prevented planet earth from being swallowed by the Black Hole. What the fuck is stopping me from being elected, as the next president of Appian,’ I asked herself.

A horrible smell filled the air. I sniffed my skin and armpits. My body odor made me cough, then I sneezed.

‘Oh my gosh,’ I exclaimed. ‘I need to take a shower, ASAP.’ I rushed straight to the bathroom.

Few minutes later, I spring-cleaned the house as I sang my favorite songs under my breath. Then I shuffled my feet towards the kitchen and prepared brunch. I heard the front door open and close.

‘Charles, Is that you?’ I shouted.

‘Yes, it’s me,’ he replied as he walked inside the kitchen.

‘Have a seat.’

He smiled and nodded. ‘Look who’s out of bed, today?’ he joked.

‘Good morning to you too, let’s eat.’

‘Hmm, it smells nice, I’m starving.’ He sat, picked up the fork, knife and dug in.

He ate his food so fast, as if he hadn’t eaten for days.

‘Go easy there Mister. You will choke yourself.’

‘I can’t help myself, it’s scrumptious,’ he munched.

‘Listen, I owe you an apology.’

‘You damn right.’

‘I feel like I’ve let you, my staff, and supporters down. I apologize for that.’

He nodded. He picked up the orange juice glass, took a sip and put it down.

‘Apology accepted. So what’s your next step?’

‘I will resume my schedule and I will not quit this time.’

‘That is good to hear, I’m proud of you.’

I sighed. ‘Judging by the negative press, polls and sentiments I’m getting. I think I have to start from scratch.’

‘People are not stupid, they will support you all the way.’

‘True and I still have less than a month to win them over.’

‘John and Jessica won’t know what hit them.’

‘I’m relieved you’re back to your senses. You’ve grabbed the bull by its horns and fighting back. I can see it in the depths of your eyes. They’re burning with determination and a desire to win.’

I blushed at his compliments. ‘I almost forgot, I have important calls I have to make. I’ll be right back.’

He shrugged. ‘Don’t be too long, this food is too good to go to waste.’

I picked up the phone and dialed Tracy’s number. The phone was picked up.

‘Hello,’ a female voice answered on the other end.

‘Tracy, it’s me Yolanda, first and foremost I apologize for the canceled campaign trail schedules and the inconvenience caused.’

‘All is forgiven ma’am. Does that mean we are back?’ Tracy asked.

‘We are back with vengeance. Let’s meet tomorrow morning,’ I replied and hanged up the phone.

                 

Scott Adams intercepted communication between Yolanda and Tracy. Saved the recording and sent the bad news to President John Williams. As soon as John heard the recorded message, he shook his head and sighed.

 

Chapter 29

                  

Later that evening, I was the main guest, standing behind the curtains at Becky’s Television show. The TV studio was packed to capacity. I peered through the curtains, I saw the audience chit-chatting with each other. It looked like they were anticipating the interview.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Becky’s TV show. We have a special guest tonight whom you all love and respect. Hold your hands together for the presidential candidate, Mrs Yolanda Roberts.’

I strolled towards Becky as I waved to the audience. The audience stood and gave a round of a long applause and sat.

‘Settle down people, thanks.’

‘Welcome to my show.’

‘Thanks, Becky.’

‘I understand you have an important announcement to make, but I have to ask you few questions first.’

‘No, problem, shoot.’

‘I had an interview with President John Williams the other day. Did you watch it?’

‘Yes I did.’

‘What did you think of the allegations he made against you?’

‘Shattering.’

‘So, they were all true?’

‘Not all of them.’ My heart pounded faster. I tried to conceal my nervousness and anxiety. I saw Charles among the audience in the first row. He gestured at me to calm down. I nodded and took a deep breath.

‘Are you and Charles extra-terrestrials?’

‘No, we’re human beings,’ I replied. Tests and your medical experts proved we are just like you?’

‘What about the allegations that you betrayed your country by selling state secrets to the enemy?’

‘It’s all true.’

‘Go on.’

‘I made a grave mistake by breaching state security because I was naïve, immature, compulsive and felt undermined by my male colleagues.’

‘Were you punished or sent to prison?’

‘Yes, I signed a plea bargain deal with the defense minister and the President. It stipulated I’ll be pardoned. If I successfully assist the government in preventing the Solar system and planet earth from being sucked into the Black Hole.’

‘We are aware of your heroic efforts with Charles, but you claimed the government will pardon you as soon as you complete the mission successfully, am I right?’

‘Yes, that’s correct.’

‘There are no records or proof that you returned from space after you left in 2018. As a matter of fact, you were both declared dead in Space. A lot of establishments, museums, universities, schools, buildings, roads were named after you, hundreds and thousand years later?’

My heart raced, lips moved but words couldn’t come out. I cleared my throat. I picked up the glass of water on the table. I took a sip and put it down.

‘As far as I’m concerned, we were in the Black hole for 2 weeks and I personally counted the days.’

‘For the past 7000 years, books, songs (Love in outer space is my favorite by the way) and poems were made about your trip to space. Legend is, you and Charles became the goddess and god of many galaxies. Why do you keep on insisting that you were in space for 2 weeks, are you hiding something?’

My heart rate doubled by more beats per minute. ‘I’m lost for words.’ I picked up the glass of water and took another sip.

‘It seems you are unable to answer my question, Yolanda?’

I shrugged, trying to compose myself. I put the glass back on the table.

‘Anyway, let’s move on to the next question. There is a rumor that you have canceled all your campaign trails, is it true?’

‘No, that’s not true.’

‘Did your absence in the public eye had anything to do with the allegations made by President John Williams?’

‘No, I was feeling under the weather, but now I’m alright.’

‘Fair enough, you said you had an announcement to make earlier.’

‘Yes, I hereby confirm I am still running for the presidential elections and I am going to win and become the president of Appian,’ I declared. The audience stood up, roaring and clapping.

‘Settle down, settle down, people.’ The audience sat and the noise levels decreased.

‘My second announcement is about our President John Williams and the first lady Jessica Williams.’ I pulled up a big sized and thick brown envelope from under my seat and handed it to Becky.

‘This looks interesting, what is it, Yolanda?’

Open it and see for yourself.’

She teared the opening and scanned the contents of the documents.

‘Is this all true?’ she asked.

‘Yes, it’s all true,’ I replied.

She shook her head. ‘Where did you get this document from?’

‘From my supporters inside the government buildings, fed up with the Williams administration.’

Becky looked at the camera and lifted the documents in the air.

‘What I have with me is evidence, proving President John Williams looted country’s funds and channeled them to bank accounts belonging to the first lady in Canada. Unfortunately, we are out of time. Yolanda thanks for coming by our studio.’

‘You welcome and thanks for having me here.’ I stood up and ran towards Charles. I jumped and fell into his arms as the audience clapped.

‘It went well like I told you. Well done,’ Charles said.

‘Thanks, I was nervous at first, but I didn’t panic.’

‘This interview is a game-changer. It will never be the same again for you.’

‘I hope so, there’s no turning back now.’

 

Chapter 30

 

The scandal of President Williams and the first lady’s embezzlement of government funds spread like fire around Appian overnight. The mood was tense at the president’s residence as John and Jessica sat silently in the lounge twiddling their thumbs. She turned and stared at John for a few seconds.

‘I thought you and Scott, had this in the bag?’ she confronted him.

John covered his face with his hands and sighed.

‘I am talking to you, John.’

‘Not now, I do not need this.’

‘When are we going to talk about it then, Mr President?’

‘Jessica, stop it,’ he shouted.

‘Do you realize the magnitude of the damage, alien girl has caused us?’

‘Yes I am and I will take care of it, tomorrow morning.’

‘You better move fast, otherwise we will lose everything.’ She stood up, ran up the stairs as tears spilled down her cheeks. She wiped them with the back of her right hand. He shook his head after he heard the slamming of the bedroom door. As he picked up the whiskey glass from the table, his hand trembled, few drops of the whiskey spilled on the floor. He gulped the whole triple at once, leaving the ice on the glass.

‘How can they trust her over me? After all I have done for this country. Is this the thanks I get?’ he asked himself.

His eyes turned red and tears filled his eyes then spilled down his cheeks.

‘I have to do something to turn this around and win the elections,’ he said.

His attempt to stand up failed. The whiskey spilled on the floor made him slip back to the couch on his back.

‘Oops, I guess this will be my bed for the night.’ He belched. Then slid into slumber.

  

Chapter 31

            

The more I traveled and canvassed, the more I witnessed the woeful plight of 99.5% Appian citizens. Even though my humanitarian efforts was a success in many towns, it wasn’t enough. It was unsustainable in the long run, but if I win the elections. I’d incorporate the project as a government program on a larger scale.

Charles worked diligently as he gathered data and frequently sent me research reports and trends on political, health and economic issues from Canada.

My first task was to convince the people from the slums. I had their best interests at heart. I hired a lot of political advisers and consulted with ex-presidents of Appian for guidance.

One day left, into the presidential elections. I understood the political dynamics of Appian and knew what my supporters needed from a leader. The people in the slums were broken, felt helpless and suffered the blows of the current political regime. They despised politicians and journalists because they used them for show and constantly offered promises they couldn’t keep. For some strange reason, they warmed up to me and my message.

I liaised with my staff and covered all bases. I pointed at my finger at Tracy.

‘How is John William’s election campaign, coming along?’ I asked.

‘His campaign schedule has been kept a secret. I do not have the statistics to measure our potential support base against his,’ Tracy replied.

‘This is going to be tougher than I thought.’

‘True, we have done our homework and I am confident we will win the elections.’

‘I have no doubt about winning, but what if he is trying to destroy us?’

Tracy shrugged. ‘I’ve heard rumors about President John Williams’s shenanigans.’

‘Please share with us.’

‘They say he forced his political opponents to back down by paying them off or by a coercive force.’

‘We all know those rumors, but I need those previous election results. We’ll leave no stone unturned.’

‘No, problem ma’am, I am right on it.’

‘Alright ladies and gents, as you all know, today is our last day at work. Let’s give it our best shot. Please confirm all the data and numbers for me, let’s go.’

The staff turned, strolled back towards their workstation. I observed their body languages and attitudes. I nodded. I was impressed with their high work rate, ethic and meeting challenging deadlines. I had a chat with some of them. This was more than a job to them. They were proud to be part of my movement.

Later that evening, Charles and I were seated at the dining room having dinner. My mind was miles away.

‘Honey, everything is going to be alright tomorrow. Let’s just hope for the best,’ he said.

‘I hope so but I’m feeling restless and nervous at the same time.’

‘You should be, because tomorrow is your big day.’

I sighed and smiled. ‘Yes it is, you always know how to cheer me up. When chips are down.’ I kissed my right palm and blew it towards his direction.

‘It is my duty as a husband to make you happy and put that smile, I’m seeing right now on your face.’

‘Well, you’re doing a good job, so far.’

He nodded. ‘You know what this moment reminds me of?’ he asked.

‘What?’

‘It feels like the time we were at the Oblivion Island inside the Black Hole.’

‘The beauty of the island was beyond comprehension.’

‘Yes it was beautiful.’

‘There was a moment when we wanted to stay there forever.’

‘Until you insisted we go back to earth. You’re such a spoilsport.’

He sighed. ‘You may be right. If I knew we’d be coming back to this post-apocalyptic earth. I wouldn’t have insisted on it.’

I nodded in agreement. ‘We were very happy in that Island. We’re happy now and that’s what matters.

‘Have you ever wondered, what really happened on earth while we were in space?’

‘I do wonder sometimes,’ I replied. Maybe while we were inside the Black Hole, each day that passed was equivalent to 500 or a thousand years or something on earth. I don’t want to get into much detail or I will go crazy.’

‘Why?’

‘The night before we left for space. We waved our loved ones, family and friends goodbye. We will never see them again, they’re dead,’ I cried.

‘True.’

‘I don’t even know where they were buried at. The most painful part is I never had time to grieve, because I thought this was a joke until reality hit home.’

‘I hope we’re not in a dream or in another realm.’

‘Impossible. Anyway I’d like to propose a toast,’ I said as I lifted the wine glass in the air. I felt tears welling down my cheeks, I wiped them with a back of my left hand.

‘We have worked hard to be where we are and there’s no turning back now. TO THE FUTURE.’

‘To the future.’

Our champagne glasses clinked to the toast. And we took a sip at the same time and put them back on to the table.

‘I hope everything will make sense one day,’ I said.

‘Let’s focus on the positives. If everything goes well, you’ll be elected as the president of the United States of America.’

I chuckled. ‘You mean, Appian?’

‘You know, what I mean.’

I picked up the champagne glass and gulped every drop. ‘I think it’s starting to sink in.’

‘You better start getting used to it, Madam President.’

‘I hear you and I will.’  

 

[*Chapter 32      *]

 

7th June 9999 was the presidential elections day. Appian citizens, privileged, government employees and slum dwellers arrived at voting stations in droves. They couldn’t afford not to vote. This time they were completely aware of their decision to vote and its significance.

As the day cruised, citizens cast their ballots peacefully. Reporters and TV news crews covered this monumental day as accurately as they could, down to the last detail. They also wondered about the whereabouts of President John Williams and the first lady. It seemed they kept a low-profile since their corruption, embezzlement and money-laundering scandal came out. No one could get hold of them for an interview. A cabinet member in the government building, claimed John is always locked inside his office, abdicating his duties to the ministers.

The elections went smoothly and the counting of the votes began at midnight. Security was tight as independent assessors observed the counting process.

  

Chapter 33

 

I tossed and turned restlessly in bed and couldn’t sleep. I’m tempted to wake him up, but he looks so peaceful his sleep. I turned, lay on my back and placed my hands behind my head. Then I looked at the ceiling.

‘Am I going to win tomorrow?’ I wondered. I guess only time will tell whether I win this election or not. As for those two idiots, I wonder what kind of stunts they’re going to pull next, wherever they are.’

30% of the overall votes were released the next morning. I had 48.5% votes and John was leading with 51.5%. My heart thumped erratically. My living room was overcrowded. I was with all my campaign staff. Our eyes were glued to the television screen. Some of the ladies appeared from the kitchen carrying large trays of sandwiches, snacks and drinks and placed them on the table.

Charles clapped. ‘Don’t worry honey, that’s nothing it means only 30% of the votes have been counted so far.’

‘Charles, your pep talk is not helping right now,’ I barked at him. ‘Stop patronizing me. I know what it means.’

‘Sorry, I was just trying to help.’

‘No, you’re not.’

He shrugged. Put his right arm over my right shoulder and kissed me on my left cheek.

‘By the time 80% of the votes have been counted. I’m sure you’ll be leading.’

‘I hope so.’

By Midday, 80% of the votes were counted, it was a tie at 50%-50%. The mood was tense as Appian waited in suspense for the final round results. The Independent assessors and observers made an announcement that the final results would be released at 6 P.M.

6 P.M. sounded like eternity. The suspense was killing me. I strolled around the house without a purpose. I stood by the rack, leafing through the pages of magazines and newspapers. Then threw them to the floor and glanced at the clock on the wall — 2 P.M.

‘Can it be 6PM already?’

A vivid memory flashed back. After I wrote a proposal letter to the president of the United States of America, requesting a presidential pardon. I waited for weeks and that episode nearly broke me. I couldn’t cope living in a foreign country without seeing family and friends. My thoughts were interrupted by my staff as they roared in response to something unimportant on the television. I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned round.

‘You seem far away in thoughts?’ Charles observed.

‘Nothing much, just reflecting.’

‘On?’

‘Who’d have thought, I’d be running for office?’

‘I was surprised too, but circumstances forced you to.’

‘I’m at a point of no return. I can’t withdraw my candidacy now.’

‘I’m glad your confidence has shot through the roof in the past 5 months.’

‘I really surprised myself, didn’t I?’

‘Don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s still a tough road ahead.’

‘I know, I know.’

I kissed him on his right cheek. He looked at his wristwatch.

‘Look at the time, it’s almost six, everyone come inside,’ he shouted as he picked the remote from the table and turned up the volume. The staff rushed towards the living room, pushing against each other for the best view.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, all votes have been counted,’ the electoral official said.

‘The presidential election results are as follows; John Williams has received 40% of the country’s vote and Yolanda Roberts has received 60% of the country’s vote.’

‘I hereby announce the next president of Appian is…. Yolanda Roberts.’

The campaign staff roared wildly as they ran towards us. Crazy thoughts raced through my mind as I danced, shouted and screamed on the couch. Louder cheers sounded from outside. We peered through the window. A crowd walked towards my house as they sang and chanted my name.

‘Let’s get out of the house and join the celebrations,’ Charles shouted.

‘Yes.’ Everyone shouted in agreement except me. I grabbed his arm and whispered into his ear. ‘I’m not sure, I want to go outside.’

He shook his head. ‘No way, look at the people outside. They are here for you. You did it, my love,’ he shouted then pushed me out of the house.

Wow, I’ve never seen so many people in one place. He lifted me with ease and I sat on his shoulders. I balanced, by holding his head. I feared I’d fall but Charles held my feet.

I had a better view than everyone on the ground. I waved at everyone as I glanced around the crowd. It was unreal. I wish we had smart phones. I wanted to capture this moment and cherish it for the rest of my life.

‘Unbelievable, Unflippinbelievable, this feels like our wedding day all over again,’ I shouted.

‘Yes, I know the feeling.’ He replied.

I saw Journalists and TV reporters maneuvering through the crowd towards my direction. Supporters grabbed my arm and pulled me down.

‘Charles, don’t let them take me away,’ I screamed.

Charles’s attempt to pull me back failed as the crowd lifted me up and down in the air. I felt like I was jumping in a trampoline. I warmed up to it as my body lay on their hands. I was like a leading singer of a rock band as they passed me around.

 

Charles couldn’t move a step further as he watched Yolanda disappearing into the crowd at a far distance.

‘Please bring her back,’ he shouted. His voice drowned in the sea of roaring voices. Her victory was bittersweet for him. He felt sad, because he knew when she is the president. They’d have less quality time together. Overwhelmed with joy. Tears rolled down his cheeks.

‘Goodbye my love,’ he cried. It stings like hell, but I have to let you go. The people of Appian need you more.’

His eyes watched on as the crowd passed her back towards him. He stared intently and studied her facial expression. Their eyes crossed. She waved at him and he waved back. The last time he saw that exact smile on her face, was at the Oblivion Island and on their wedding day. Citizens around Appian also celebrated the end of President John Williams’s regime. Slum dwellers celebrated by burning buildings in ghost towns, cheering while drinking cheap, toxic bootlegged spirits and liquor.

‘Finally, we will be out of the slums and live decent lives,’ a voice from the mob shouted and the crowd roared in response.

 

Chapter 34

 

Meanwhile at the Presidential residence, Jessica cried uncontrollable. Petrified, for the first time in her life she didn’t know what to do in times like these. John was on the other room in the study, seated as he indulged in his favorite whiskey.

This time he wasn’t enjoying its fine exquisite malt, rye, corn aroma and taste. It was for something dark, constantly running through his mind. In front of him, on the table was a revolver and a bullet next to it. He glared at it for few minutes without blinking or moving. He picked up the bottle, took a sip from it and put it back on the table. He picked up the gun and the bullet.

He opened the cylinder, inserted the bullet into one of the chambers, spun and closed it. ‘How about we play Russian roulette,’ he murmured. He corked and inserted it inside his mouth. Then pulled the trigger. “CLICK”

‘I’m still alive?’ he asked himself. He repeated the process. As he was about to pull the trigger, he heard Jessica scream in the living room. He opened the secret drawer under the table. He hid the gun under the documents and closed it. He stood up and stormed out of the study. As he walked towards the living room, he sang, cursed, and walked like a drunken buccaneer. He witnessed Jessica arguing with his bodyguards.

‘What the hell are you doing to my wife?’ he screamed.

He glanced around the living room and realized everyone was in the room, his wife, servants and bodyguards.

‘John, we have been ordered to vacate our residence with immediate effect,’ Jessica broke the news.

‘What? Where do they expect us to move, at such short notice?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know, but the bodyguards say they have been commanded to kick us out. And the newly elected president will move in within 24 hours.’

‘Mr and Mrs Williams, you have one hour to pack your belongings or we will remove you by force,’ said the bodyguard.

‘I am not going anywhere,’ John replied.

‘With due respect John, you are no longer our boss your time is up. I suggest you pack your bags and leave,’ he commanded.

Jessica shook her head. ‘Where do you expect us live? We have no place to go to, all our funds have been frozen and our assets have been seized by the state,’ she pleaded.

The bodyguard shrugged. ‘That is what I have been trying to tell you all along. You are not listening to me. Yolanda and Charles have offered their private house for you to live at for free,’ he revealed.

 

Chapter 35

                  

The constant loud bang on the door interrupted my well-deserved sleep.

‘Who could be so rude and knock on our door at this ungodly hour?’ Charles murmured as he switched on the side lamp. He stretched his arms in the air as he yawned. The loud knocks on the door sounded until he interrupted.

‘Alright, Alright, I’m coming,’ he barked. He stepped out of bed, tapped his hairy feet around the wooden floor, hoping to find his slippers without any success. He rubbed his eyes as he strolled to my side. He slid his feet on my pink fur slippers and walked towards the front door. I threw the covers away and followed him.

He unlocked and opened it. Heavily armed soldiers stormed inside the house. They wore black uniforms, helmets, bullet-proof vests over their sweaters and boots.

Charles sighed. ‘What do you want?’

‘Mr Roberts, we are the security team in the presidency. We came to escort madam president to her new residence,’ said a soldier who appeared to be the leader.

‘That was quick.’

‘We do not want to take any chances.’

‘What about the Williams,’ I asked. ‘I don’t wish to be in the same room with them ever.’

‘They are actually here with us, waiting to move in.’

I nodded. ‘That’s better, can you give us like an hour to pack our staff.’

The soldiers nodded, strolled outside the house and waited beside the door. As I threw my clothes to the suitcase, I noticed Charles standing beside me, doing nothing. I sighed.

‘Do you mind, helping out?’ I sighed.

‘Sorry, I’m just looking at you.’

I rolled my eyes. ‘Why?’

‘I’m proud of you.’

‘Thanks.’

‘As I told you earlier, I will be with you in every step of the way.’ He held my hands and kissed my forehead.

I grinned and nodded. ‘Appreciated, I have a strange feeling I will encounter a lot of enormous challenges. Profound than all of us can comprehend.’

‘Nah, there is no challenge you can’t solve.’

I shook my head. ‘Stop kissing my ass and let’s pack our clothes.’ He chuckled.             

 

2 hours later, John and Jessica moved in at their new residence. They frowned upon it. It was downgrade from what they were accustomed to.

‘John, what is this?’ she asked. ‘Is this where we are going to spend the rest of our lives at?’

John turned, stared at the chauffeur behind him. ‘Are you sure this is the right place?’

‘Yes sir. I have been instructed to relocate you to this house,’ said the chauffeur as he pulled out a folded piece of paper.

‘On whose orders? Give me that?’ The chauffeur handed him the note.

‘What does the note say?’ she asked.

‘It’s a list.’

‘Of what?’

‘Our monthly benefits and allowances.’

‘I take it this is our new residence.’

‘According to this piece of paper, yes.’

She shook her head. ‘Listen, put our luggage in the bedroom.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’ The chauffeur quickly moved his feet towards the bedroom with luggage in his hands.

‘Please tell me I am having a dream? If it is, I would love to wake up from it.’

‘You are not dreaming, it’s a nightmare.’

The chauffeur appeared from the bedroom. As he strolled towards the door. John called him.

‘Listen young man, I have a request,’ he said. ‘I need you to run a few errands for me around the city.’

‘The chauffeur grinned. ‘Sorry Sir, I cannot do that.’

‘Why?’ he barked. ‘Do you know who you talking to?’

‘I am no longer working for you.’

‘Listen here you scum from the slums. You do what my husband tells you to do or…’ The chauffeur cut in.

‘Or what?’ he asked. ‘You are going to fire me?’

She rushed towards him, lifted her right hand but John grabbed it before she could unleash it to the chauffeur’s face.

‘You ungrateful bastard. I should have fired you, when I had the chance.’

John pointed his right index finger at the door. ‘You can go now.’

The chauffeur nodded with a smile on his face. ‘Good riddance,’ he said under his breath as he exited.

John and Jessica glanced around the house down to the last detail. Reality finally hit home. They are all on their own. No bodyguards, maids, messengers and fame they used to feed from it.

‘Fate stings like hell. How could I not have seen this coming?’ John asked himself.

‘You stupid man,’ she shouted.

‘What did I do?’

‘I warned you about those two, especially alien girl.’

‘There is nothing we can do now.’

‘You should have sent them back to where they came from. Those two ungrateful bastards repossessed our presidency, livelihood and future prospects.’

  

Chapter 36

 

We strolled inside our new residence. Nothing was left to chance as we waited for the security team to clear the house. They searched every room, for any possible threats. Even though we’ve been there before, our eyes were dazzled by the beautiful spacious interior design, furniture and decor.

‘This is beautiful,’ he said.

‘Yes, it is.’ House staff, cleaners and cooks stood by the living room as we approached towards them.

‘Welcome to your new residence, madam President and Mr Roberts,’ the staff said at the same time.

‘Good Morning, that’s so sweet of you welcoming us so early in the morning, you shouldn’t have.’

The leader of the security team walked towards us and stood in front of me.

‘Madam President, everything is clear, you can move in and settle down.’

‘Thanks gentlemen, is there anything else?’

‘Oh yes, your bodyguards have arrived to protect you all at times.’

I nodded and looked at Charles. ‘Are you happy with this new living arrangement?’

‘Yeah, who wouldn’t?’

I nodded. ‘Alright, I think that’s all for now and if I need something, I’ll let you know.’ The heavily armed security team strolled out of the presidential residence.

‘Everyone else, just keep doing whatever job you were doing, you are dismissed.’

The staff scattered to different rooms of the house. Charles grinned.

‘Did I say something funny?’

‘No.’

‘Then what is it?’

‘I like this new side of you, taking charge of things.’

‘Get used to it. I’m the president now.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

We strolled around the house as we conversed.

‘Now I understand why you said. You couldn’t imagine yourself becoming a president in a million years.’

‘You have no idea,’ she said.

‘On our way to earth, I thought we’d live a peaceful life and start a beautiful family.’

‘Speaking of which, we never discussed having kids.’

‘I don’t think this is a good time to be talking about kids.’

‘Why?’

‘Can we please just enjoy this moment.’

He sighed and rolled his eyes. ‘Yes of course, the moment. How can I forget your moment?’

I noticed a spark and glow from the depths of his eyes when he spoke about kids. No way, not now, I’m still young. The thought of having kids terrified me. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 37

 

My eyes flipped open. They flitted around the bedroom interior design, I barely recognized and switched on the bedside lamp.

‘Oh yes I’m at our new house,’ I said. I turned and looked at the clock next to the lamp. It was 4 a.m. I sighed, tried to get back to sleep a few times without success. I tapped Charles on his chest.

‘Charles, wake up.’

He moaned, turned and opened his eyes. ‘What is it?’ he whispered.

‘I can’t sleep.’

‘Why are you waking me up then?’

‘I don’t know, I thought we could talk.’

‘About what?’

‘Kids.’

He switched on the bedside lamp, sat on his behind and leaned on the headboard. He had my full undivided attention.

‘I thought, you didn’t want talk about this.’

‘I don’t, it’s just I can’t run away from it forever.’

‘Alright, I’m listening.’

‘I’d like to have kids.’

‘That’s great, I’m sensing a ‘but’ coming?’

‘Yes, but in 3 to 5 years, maybe?’

He sighed. ‘I can’t say I’m happy with what you’re saying, but I appreciate your honesty.’

‘I feel we should have discussed this matter a few weeks or months earlier.’

‘I wanted to, but you were too preoccupied with your humanitarian projects.’

‘Next time, please feel free to raise any issue with me alright? We’re soul mates, remember that.’

‘I also have a concern.’

‘What is it?’

‘I don’t know what to do with my life, my qualifications and skills are obsolete in 9999.’

‘Do you need a job?’

‘Something like that.’

‘Don’t worry about that. I’m sure I can find you something suitable for you in my cabinet.’

‘You’re going to be accused of nepotism.’

‘That’s the least of my worries. I need to deliver everything I promised my supporters.’

‘You’re right, let’s go back to sleep. You have a big day ahead of you in few hours.

Few hours later, I felt warm rays of sunshine warming my face. I stretched my arms and yawned.

‘Charles wake up.’

‘What is it now?’ he whined.

I pointed my index finger through the window.

‘It’s the sun.’

He stepped out of the bed and strolled towards the balcony.

‘Wow, I never thought I’d see the sun ever again.’

Ever since, we came back to earth, the weather was always dark cloudy and raining. The sun never saw the time of the day. People said sunny days only came once or twice every 3 years. We smiled as the sun exploded from the east. Suddenly, the dark clouds covered the sun and Appian turned dark in an instant. We looked at each other in disbelief.

‘That was quick,’ said Charles.

‘I was starting to think it’s a good omen for me. A break of a new dawn in Appian, something like that.’

Charles shook his head as he glanced around the city.

From our luxurious presidential residence, we had a 180 degree view of Appian. We shook our heads witnessing what we already knew. Black smoke came out from almost all the dilapidated buildings and the stench was unbearable.

‘How did John and Jessica sleep at night, knowing what Appian is going through?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, by looking at this view, I feel miserable already.’

‘What can we do, we’re living in a post-apocalyptic era.’

‘I never thought I would say this, but the effects of global warming has led to this current predicament, we find ourselves in.’

‘True, I never thought I would live long enough to see it.’

‘Let’s go inside.’

As we strolled inside, a divine smell filled the air in the house.

‘Do you smell that?’ I asked.

‘No, I didn’t fart this time.’

I burst out in laughter. ‘No dummy, I’m talking about the smell of food downstairs.’

‘Cool, let’s go and take a look then.’

We rushed down the stairs as we giggled. The chef stood by the table.

‘Breakfast is served,’ said the chef. Then bowed.

‘Wow, it’s a buffet,’ Charles said.

‘Ssshh, settle down, thank you sir we’re starving,’ I said.

We sat down and dug in on our first meal at our new residence.

‘Hmm this is good, Chef, you have outdone yourself,’ Charles munched.

‘Oh, I almost forgot. What about lunch? Are you going to bring it at my office? How is it going to work? ’ I asked.

‘Don’t worry ma’am, catering will be provided at the government building,’ the chef responded.

2 hours later, I packed all my documents at the study and placed them inside the briefcase. A knock sounded from the door.

‘Come in,’ I said. The door opened and Charles stormed in.

‘Hurry up honey, you’ll be late.’

‘I’m ready to go, but where are my notepads and….’

He interrupted me. ‘You can’t be late on your first day.’

‘I heard you the first time.’ I picked up the briefcase and rushed towards the door, but Charles grabbed my arm.

‘Hey calm down, everything will be fine.’

I shook my head and sighed. ‘I hope so.’

‘That’s my girl, now go out there and show them what you’re made of.’

We strolled out of the study, towards the front door. He opened the door for me and 2 bodyguards stood right outside the door.

‘Guys, I’m ready, let’s go,’ I commanded. The bodyguards rushed towards me, surrounded and escorted me to the car. Wow, I could get used to this. I stepped inside, the bodyguard closed the door and rushed towards the car, behind mine.

‘Driver, go straight to the government headquarters,’ I commanded

‘Yes, madam president,’ the driver replied.

‘Great, I have to tie up some few loose ends.’

 

Chapter 38

 

Cabinet officials waited impatiently for the president at the headquarters. They didn’t know where they stood with the newly elected president. The fact they were John Williams’s cronies increased their odds of being out of favor with the new administration. Word spread around the building she has arrived and demands an urgent meeting at the auditorium within 30 minutes.

As we strolled inside the building with my bodyguards, a young tall lady with long brunette hair at the lobby stretched her right hand towards. Then we shook hands.

‘Good Morning, madam President. My name is Jody Alberts. I’m the chief of staff, I’m at your service,’ she said.

I nodded. ‘Show me the auditorium, please,’ I commanded. She bowed slightly.

‘Indeed, please follow me.’

Officials rushed to the auditorium with files on their hands. One of the officials who was not looking forward to the meeting was, Scott Adams. The loss of John Williams in the presidential elections devastated him. He had a lot riding on him staying in power. He was promised the president’s job after John retires, but fate had other plans.

I stepped inside the auditorium and strolled towards the podium. My eyes fluttered around the auditorium nervously. Seats were packed to capacity and all eyes glared at me.

‘Officials, please settle down, the president is about to speak,’ Jody announced. Noise levels decreased until it was quiet like a Roman Catholic Cathedral on a Tuesday afternoon.

‘Good day, ladies and gentlemen, you probably know me by now, I’ll be brief. There’s a great chance, you will not be in my cabinet after my inauguration. I thought of removing you all at once, but I believe there are few good ones left among bad apples. All officials and staff will have to re-apply for your positions and state why I should let you be in my cabinet.’

The officials roared like a group of rowdy English soccer fans. Some of the officials threw small pieces of paper at me. My attempts to dodge them failed as some hit me, bouncing off my head and body.

‘Calm down, people.’ Jody Shouted.

‘Why don’t you just fire us all at once,’ an official shouted.

‘You are humiliating us by saying we should re-apply.’

‘We are not boy scouts. We are politicians for crying out loud,’ another official barked.

I wasn’t fazed at all. I put my left and right index fingers into my mouth and made a loud whistling sound. The officials went back to their seats in an obedient manner.

‘I don’t care what you think and you will do as I say, ‘I shouted back at them.

‘The inauguration is in 3 days. I’ll need your applications by the end of the day.’

‘I need competent people in my cabinet. People who’d be able to assist me in executing service delivery projects in the next 4 years. Thank You.’

As Jody and I strolled towards the exit the officials chanted hateful words at me. I took a deep sighing breath.

‘Jody, show me my office, please?’

‘Alright, madam president, please follow me,’ she replied.

For some strange reason, I felt different when I addressed the officials. I didn’t care what they thought of me. Being elected as the president of Appian was not only a morale booster, my self-esteem shot up through the roof. The days of being undermined and overlooked for job promotions at NASA by my male colleagues and employers were over.

We stepped inside the office at the top floor. I nodded as my eyes darted at my new spacious executive office. The office furniture, cabinets, table and couch smelled brand new.

‘I like it.’

‘Fantastic, ma’am.’

I strolled towards the table and sat on the leather swivel chair. I turned the chair and gazed at the city views through the window. The workers outside, cleaning the windows waved at me. I nodded and I waved back at them with a smile.

‘I have to ask you something.’

‘Yes, madam president.’

‘Did John have a PA?’

‘Yes, it was Jessica. She was his PA and an iron lady in this building.’

‘Typical.’

‘I was the chief of staff by title, but I was never assigned any duties.’

‘You mean you were doing nothing while you received a salary?’

‘I am embarrassed to answer it. Yes, but I would like to prove myself to you.’

‘As I said in the auditorium, everyone will have to re-apply including yourself.’

She nodded. ‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Make sure everyone’s application reaches my office. You and I will process them and select my final list.’

Jody walked towards the door. The bodyguard opened it for her and exited. ‘Thank you,’ she said.

I reclined on the chair and took a deep breath. Lost in the moment, I swung the chair four time. I forgot the bodyguards were present but stopped when I noticed them staring at me. I blushed and looked away for a few seconds.

‘Come here you two, and call the other bodyguards outside.’

One of the bodyguards nodded, rushed outside the office and within few seconds 6 bodyguards strolled towards my desk.

‘I foresee a very challenging presidential term. I need you to protect me at all costs. Stay vigilant and always check your blind spots.’ I pointed at the window cleaners behind me. ‘For instance, what if they are assassins, did you think of that?’

‘They were cleared before they entered the building.’ Said the bodyguard and others nodded in agreement with him.

‘Did you also clear the lifting equipment they are using?’ she asked. ‘What if they have weapons hidden in that equipment?’ The bodyguards glanced at each other, shaking their heads in hesitation.

‘I thought so, maybe you should also re-apply, now go do your jobs.’ I barked. I picked up the phone and dialed a single digit.

‘Hello.’ A woman’s voice answered on the other end of the phone.

‘Jody, bring me the following documents,’ I said. ‘All the government projects planned and completed in the last 8 years, financial statements, salaries and I need those documents ASAP.’

‘I will bring them to you shortly.’

I dropped the phone. I caught the glimpse of the framed pictures of John and Jessica Williams on the desk and on the wall.

‘They have to go, it’s my office now,’ I murmured. The phone rang, I picked it up.

‘Yes, Jody?’

‘The Defense minister, Scott and finance and the finance Minister, Roger refuse to give me the documents you’ve asked for.’

I sighed. ‘Alright, I’ll take care of it.’ I dropped the phone and snapped my fingers. I gestured to the nearest bodyguard to come closer.

‘Go to the finance minister’s office, tell him I want to see him now.’

The bodyguard nodded and exited. Few minutes later, a knock on the door sounded and the bodyguards opened it. A man in his mid-50s walked inside. He had a big belly, black wet curly hair and wore glasses that made his eyes look small and thin like the ones, worn by geeks and dorks. The bodyguards gave him a quick frisk.

‘Why are you searching me,’ he said in a faint voice.

‘I have served under 4 presidents and their bodyguards never frisked me.’

‘Let him in,’ I said. Then he strolled towards the desk.

‘What can I do for you, madam president?’ he asked.

‘Why didn’t you give Jody the documents I asked for?’

‘I didn’t refuse,’ he replied. ‘I told her she must speak to Scott.’

‘Why?’

‘He is the gatekeeper. No government document goes out without his authorisation.’

I clenched my fists and banged them on the table at the same time.

‘WHAT?’      

‘Yes, that is how things work around here.’

‘I’m sure you are aware that the government is under new leadership now?’

‘Yes, I am aware of that Madam President, but you have to convince Scott that. He still thinks he is running the country and the intelligence agency.’

‘You can go, thanks.’ He nodded and exited the office.

‘Who does he think he is?’ I stood up and stormed out of the office with the bodyguards.

I stood in front of the door. I saw Scott Adam’s name written on it. His bodyguards stood in my way.

‘Open the door, I want to come in,’ I commanded.

‘I am sorry madam president we cannot let you in, Mr Adams instructed us….’

I interrupted his gibberish explanation. ‘Do you know who pays your salary?’ The bodyguards nodded.

‘Move them away,’ the bodyguards wrestled against each other until they cleared the way for me. Then I opened the door and stormed inside.

‘Madam President, I didn’t hear you knock,’ Scott said. He took a sip from the glass half-full of whiskey on the rocks.

‘Why you didn’t give Jody the documents, I asked for?’

‘Whiskey?’ he offered.

‘I’m not here to fuck around. Answer me damn it.’

‘It would be illegal if I hand you the documents now.’

‘Why?’

‘According to the constitution, you have to be inaugurated as the president of Appian to be granted anything you need to be able to run this country effectively. Until then, I can’t help you ma’am.’ He took another sip and smiled.

I took a deep breath then glared at him without blinking.

‘I’ve been dealing with people like you all my life, you don’t scare me.’

‘I’m just taking precautions. Who knows what you will do with these classified documents.’

I shook my head. ‘I see where you taking this, but it won’t work on me.’

‘The truth is the truth and you know what they say about it, it hurts.’

‘I’ll get you,’ I warned him. ‘As soon as the inauguration ends, you’ll follow your friend John Williams.’

‘Get out of my office, young girl, I have work to do,’ he snapped.

I pointed my finger at his face.

‘I’m not finished with you, old man.’ I turned around abruptly and stormed out of the office.

Back at my office, I took a deep breath and as I was about to settle down. A knock on the door sounded, then opened.

‘Madam President, the chef wishes to see you. Should I let him in?’

I shrugged. ‘Why not, let him in.’

The chef strolled towards her. Short, bald head, big eyes and a large frame.

‘Good day, Ma’am.’

‘How can I help you?’

‘It is almost lunch, what would you like to have?’

I glanced at my wristwatch and raised my eyebrows.

‘Sheesh, time flies, I’d like you to make me your best meals.’ The chef smiled, pulled out a pen and small notepad from the apron and scribbled on it.

‘I can do that,’ he turned round and strolled towards the door while Jody walked in with a batch of documents.

‘Let me guess, Scott has decided to give me the documents, I needed?’

‘No ma’am, these are job applications from the officials,’ she replied.

‘At least, they listened.’

‘Did Scott give you the documents?’

‘No he didn’t.’

I pulled out a random application, scanned the contents, leafed through the pages and threw them back to the table.

I sighed. ‘That would be all. I’ll call you if I need anything else.’

Few minutes later, the chef came inside pushing a trolley.

‘Let him through guys, I’m starving.’ The chef pushed the trolley towards my desk and stopped. I rubbed my hands.

‘What do we have here?’ I asked.

He picked up the plate of food covered with a small shiny dome-shaped lid and placed it in front of me.

‘I have made you, medium rare steak, broccoli, cauliflower and mashed sweet potatoes,’ the chef presented.

‘It looks and smells divine, thanks.’

An hour later, I went through the application forms. I shook my head as I went through them.

‘I don’t believe this,’ I exclaimed. ‘Most of these officials have been doing nothing, nada.’ I sighed and picked up the phone then dialed it.

‘Jody, I’m going home, I’ll see you first thing in the morning, we need to make sure the inauguration speech is perfect, cheers.’ The bodyguards created a formation around me as we strolled out of the building towards the car.

Charles lay on the couch turning over pages of a book, when I strolled inside the living room.

‘I’m home,’ I said.

He threw the book on the table and stood up.

‘Good evening.’

Our lips locked briefly and hugged. He took the briefcase from my hand and placed it next to the couch.

‘How was your first day, Mrs or Madam President?’ he asked.

‘Trust me, you don’t want to know.’

We sat on the couch. I took off my shoes. Then lifted my legs and put them on his lap. He gently rubbed my toes and feet.

‘Thanks, I needed that.’

‘You welcome.’

‘What did you do today?’ I asked.

‘Nothing, just read a book.’

‘As promised, I’ll deploy you in one of the departments shortly. Judging from what I witnessed today, 90%-95% of the officials are still loyal to John Williams and I could do with your support.’

‘I’m ready.’

‘I will take you in after the inauguration.’

‘Have you decided how will you juggle the workload as a president and your humanitarian projects?’

‘That’s a tough call. My first priority is making this country great again.’

‘Are you discontinuing the project?’

‘Not quite, maybe I’d incorporate it as part of the government initiative.’

 

Chapter 39

      

Jody and I went through documents and files stacked on the table. I slid the document to her.

‘Herein is the first draft of my speech. I need you to proofread it and get back to me by tomorrow afternoon.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’ She picked up the document, scanned the contents and put it next to her.

‘Before you go, I have something to tell you about the status of your application.’

She mumbled something under her breath but I couldn’t hear a thing.

‘You’re hired as both my Chief of staff and personal assistant.’

She jumped and stood up in shock. She threw the pages of my inauguration speech in the air. They scattered all over the place.

‘Thank you, Thank you, I thought you didn’t like me.’

I shook my head. ‘I don’t have time for chit chats. Fix up this mess you have created. I want my speech ready by tomorrow afternoon.’

She took a deep breath, knelt on the floor and picked up the pages.

‘It’s a pity not every official will be as lucky as you are.’

She smiled and continued picking up the documents. Then strolled out of the office.

I processed all the officials’ applications. Reviewed all their strengths. I was aware of incompetent officials who engaged in frivolous politicking. I threw their applications on the ‘Rejected’ tray.

Few hours later, Jody stepped inside, strolled towards my desk.

‘Hey Jody, are you winning?’

‘Yes, I have finished editing the inauguration speech.’

I smiled. ‘You lying, let me see.’ Jody slid the document on the table to me. I nodded as I went through it. ‘I’m impressed, this is good.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes, I have one more assignment for you tomorrow.’

‘Just say the word.’

I picked up the ‘Rejected’ tray on the left side of my desk. ‘You see this junk I’m handing in to you?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘It contains all the officials I don’t need in my cabinet.’

Jody sighed. ‘You mean to tell me. I should break the news to them?’

‘Yes dear, all 95% of them. We’ll deal with their replacements after the inauguration.’ She shook her head as she went through the file.

‘Do you have a problem with this task?’

‘No madam president, it’s just you have no idea how rude and mean the officials have been to me.’

‘Believe me when I say this. I understand what you’re going through, but this needs to be done by the end of business day tomorrow.’

She nodded hesitantly. ‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Let’s meet tomorrow then.’

                   

Jody’s heart raced faster than a normal heartbeat. She didn’t think she’d pull this one off because she was petrified of the officials.

‘Where do I start?’ she murmured.

She stormed into her office and threw the file to the desk. Her heartbeat danced as she felt nervous and excited at the same time. Excited, because she had been assigned a meaningful task and the officials would not threaten her to be fired by Scott or John.

Jody met with all the officials and broke the news.

Some accepted their fate, threw insults at her and others were in denial, thinking it was all a joke.

Out of all the 95% outgoing officials, one particular official was not on the list, Scott Adams.

 

 ‘I’ll call it a day.’ I murmured. I closed my briefcase, stood up and as we strolled towards the door, Jody stepped inside.

‘Hey Jody, I was about to leave, what’s up?’

‘Sorry madam president but this will not take long.’

‘No problem.’

‘I have informed all the officials on the list about their political futures.’

‘Well done, how did they take it?’

She sighed. ‘You have no idea. I also told them to clear their offices by tomorrow afternoon.’

‘Good girl, I’ll see you in the morning.’ We exited the office together.

By the time I arrived at the presidential residence. Charles had already gone to bed. I stepped inside the study, opened the briefcase, pulled out my inauguration speech document and sat. I went through it, down to the last detail for a few minutes. I sighed.

‘It’s unreal, this still feels like a dream I don’t wish to wake up from,’ I said as I yawned. I switched off the lamp and exited the study.

  

Chapter 40

 

Appian buzzed about the inauguration of the new president. Most of the citizens wanted me to address their concerns. Specifically their current living conditions and how I’d change them. Slum dwellers were interviewed by the media on the ground. Most of them gave their thumbs up and had confidence in me to provide them with food, shelter and jobs because I had proven that through my humanitarian efforts. Some of my biggest critics were former government officials. They felt I was too young and inexperienced to be a president.

Back at the president’s office, Jody, her PA and I were seated facing each other.

‘Is there anything we haven’t covered yet?’ I asked.

Jody glanced at her personal assistant, they shook their heads.

‘I think we are ready to go.’

‘I trust I won’t be sabotaged.’

‘Not a chance, the defense minister has assured me everything will go smoothly.’

I rolled my eyes and sighed. ‘As I told you, I’ll give him the benefit of a doubt. Time will tell whether I keep or fire him.’

Jody nodded. ‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘What about radio and TV coverage?’

‘More than 90% of the citizens will listen and watch the inauguration.’

‘I like the sound of that. I’d like to have a meeting with the officials.’

Jody glanced at her personal assistant. She opened her notepad and waited for me to speak.

‘I want the meeting within an hour at the auditorium.’ She scribbled down the message and glanced at Jody.

‘Did you get that?’ Jody asked. She nodded

‘Alright guys, I will see you in an hour’s time.’ They stood up, turned round and walked out of the office.

An hour later, I stepped inside the auditorium with my chief of staff. The noise level decreased. The officials having chit chats at the back didn’t see me coming in, but the sudden silence alerted them, then sat.

‘Good morning, as you can see around you. I had no choice but to let your former colleagues go. I need to see commitment and hard workers in my cabinet in order to realize my vision for this country in the next 4 years. I don’t care about your loyalty to my predecessor, but I demand you to be loyal to the citizens you serve and Appian. If you feel I’m too young, inexperienced, and doesn’t deserve to be the president of this country. I suggest you leave this auditorium right now.’

The officials glanced at each other. No one stood up.

‘Excellent, as you’re aware I will be inaugurated today. I’ll appreciate your support as I’d also outline my plans.’

Do you have any questions?’

I saw one hand in the air. I pointed at him.

‘Yes, Scott.’

‘As I told Jody, security will be tight during the inauguration. Nothing will disrupt the proceedings,’ Scott assured me.

‘Thank you, that’s good to hear. And lastly let’s meet tomorrow to finalize our implementation and how we’ll finance our projects. Meeting adjourned.’

The officials stood up, conversed with each other as they strolled out of the auditorium. I glanced around and observed the mood. I was right close behind them.

‘Jody, I forgot to ask.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Where is our parliament or a national assembly?’

Jody chuckled. ‘The auditorium is our parliament,’ she replied.

‘Oh.’

Journalists and TV news crew rushed inside auditorium with their equipment on their hands. Digital cameras were installed around the auditorium and network feeds were tested for broadcast. Hundreds of thousands of citizens stood outside the government building glaring at the large television screens attached to the building wall and buildings next to it. Different military bands paraded from the city to the government building as the crowd watched and cheered on the pavement. After the parade program ended, Scott Adams took the stand at the podium in the auditorium.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, I would like us to stand for the national anthem,’ He announced. Shoes shuffled as the officials stood and placed their right hand on the left side of their chests. He gestured to the orchestra band at the corner to start.

As the national anthem played, my heart felt heavier, overwhelmed with emotion. This should have been my finest moment, but the sounds of the national anthem brought back demons of the past. Thoughts of betraying my country flashed in front of my eyes. I thought going to space and successfully preventing the Black hole from swallowing planet earth would be my ultimate redemption, but deep down, I felt empty. United States of America and the rest of the world never saw me come back. I don’t think they truly forgave me.

The fire inside me, blazed with ambition to make a better life for all and make Appian great again. Thoughts of my future endeavors also flashed on my mind. Suddenly happiness crossed my face. After the national anthem finished playing, everyone at the auditorium, crowd outside the government building, TV and radio audience gave a passionate standing ovation as I walked towards the high court judge standing next to the podium. We shook hands and the delegates settled down. The judge gave me a conspiratorial look. I felt as if I’d done something wrong.

‘Yolanda Roberts, do you realize the magnitude and responsibility of running a country?’ the judge asked.

My heart fluttered with nervousness. I tasted bile creeping up my throat. Then I swallowed hard at it.

‘Yes.’

‘What?’

‘Yes, I’m aware, your honor.’

The judge nodded. ‘Raise you right hand,’ he commanded. As I lifted my right hand, my shoulders felt heavier. I was unable to lift my hand higher.

‘Yolanda Robertson, do you swear to serve the citizens of Appian equally regardless of their socioeconomic class?’

‘Yes, your honor.’

‘Do you swear to be transparent and fair in dealing with the crises of Appian?’

‘Yes, your honor, I promise.’

‘Do you swear to uphold the law and the constitution of Appian?’

‘Yes, your honor.’

‘Yolanda Roberts, you are officially inaugurated as the president of Appian,’ the judge declared.

My teary eyes glanced around the auditorium as the delegates gave a standing ovation. The moment felt unreal, everything moved in slow motion as the judges, Jody and Charles shook my hand. I waved at the cameras. Then stood behind the podium. I raised the microphone slightly to an acceptable level. I cleared my throat and sighed as the delegates took their seats.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an actress. I used to watch my favorite actresses give their award speeches on TV. Standing at that podium reminded me of that moment.

‘From the bottom of my heart. I’d like to thank you for trusting me to be your president. I humbly stand before you as a servant to serve your needs. Lastly, come join us outside the building as I deliver the state of the nation address. Basically I will outline my objectives and plans for the next 4 years, thank you.’

6 bodyguards entered the auditorium. They walked towards me and quickly escorted me to the exit.

TV host, Becky was on the ground with a cordless microphone on her right hand and a crowd behind her waving at the camera.

‘As you have all witnessed the inauguration of our new president Yolanda Roberts went very well. The question on everyone’s mind is, will she outline the same old recycled, political rhetoric or be her own woman and deliver practical and implementable plans?’

‘Only time will tell, I will see you this evening,’

Inside the elevator, I stared at the elevator door as it moved down.

‘I trust everything is going well?’ I asked.

Jody nodded. ‘Yes, madam president, the logistics went smoothly without any hiccups. Oh by the way your speech was beautiful, short and sweet.’

I turned. Glanced at her and smiled. ‘Thanks.’

The elevator pinged, the doors slid and opened. The noise level from outside the building increased as we strolled towards the podium at the gallery. The crowd chanted my name repetitively.

‘Last time I’ve seen so many people like this, was at my wedding day and my election victory,’ I whispered into Jody’s ear. I gestured to the crowd to keep quiet. I leaned on the podium as I waited for them to settle down. I gathered my thoughts. My eyes glanced at the crowd with a confident or an arrogant look on my face. If you didn’t know me, you’d swear I was a seasoned stateswoman. I tapped the microphone in front, with my index finger until I heard a knocking sound from the speakers. I opened my speech document.

‘My fellow Appians,’ I yelled. ‘As you’re aware Appian is at an all-time low. We are running out of food, water, and resources to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. My 5 main objectives are as follows.’

‘I will make sure every agricultural land is explored in our search for fertile grounds.’

‘We will invest in mining machinery to explore more natural resources on all closed mines.’

‘We will invest in the infrastructure of all buildings, electricity, hospitals, and schools.’

‘I promise that every citizen of Appian will be employed within 4 years through these projects mentioned above.’

‘Lastly and most importantly, the people living in the slums will be relocated to better housing facilities. And as soon as we roll out these projects, they’d be first in line for job opportunities.’

I closed the document, turned around abruptly and handed it to Jody. I glanced at the journalists in front of me.

‘I will take your questions.’ I pointed my finger at one of them.

‘You said you will stimulate the agricultural economy by exploring fertile grounds. That is impossible and a reckless promise.’

‘Why do you say that?’

‘The grounds of Appian have been barren for the past 150 years. What makes you special and think you are going to magically sow and grow flowers, fruits and vegetables?’

She caught me off-guard. I didn’t know what to say. I stuttered something under my breath until I thought of something clever or stupid.

‘Your previous leaders lied to you, and you believed everything they said,’ I replied defensively in a manner.

‘I am waiting for your answer, madam president.’

‘As I said, every ground will be explored. You have no proof every inch of land is infertile on all other ghost states. That’s impossible.’ I pointed at another journalist, far right from her.

‘What will you do with your predecessor, John Williams and the former first lady, are they going to prison?’

‘I’ve decided not to prosecute them, but we have seized their assets and millions of Appian dollars they’ve embezzled from the government coffers.’

I pointed at another journalist standing on the left side.

‘Madam President, don’t you think your plans are impossible?’ Even your predecessor couldn’t achieve them?’

‘They are not impossible. Secondly don’t ever compare me with John Williams ever again. That man never achieved anything in his 2 terms as a president, because he was lazy and took orders from his wife.’

‘Do we have the money to implement these projects?’

‘Honestly, not really,’ I confessed. ‘We’ll try to resell as much land as we can and raise most of our funds by selling our natural resources to the Canadians.’

‘I’ll take the last question.’ I pointed at Becky in front of me.

‘Do you think you have the experience to lead Appian to a prosperous future?’

‘Yes, I’m more than capable,’ I replied. Just watch, observe and compare my progress against the last 4 presidents.’

Jody appeared next to me. She held the closest microphone towards her mouth.

‘That would be all for the day, thank you very much,’ she concluded. The press personnel stood up, inserted their notepads, pens and voice recorders into their bags. The crowd whistled and cheered as I waved my hands at them.

    

Few minutes later, Jody was seated at her office going through a pile of documents on the desk. A knock on the door sounded and interrupted her concentration. Yolanda stepped inside and stood by the door.

‘Jody, I’m going home early today. Don’t forget those documents I asked for. I need them first thing tomorrow morning.’

She nodded. ‘No problem, madam president, I will see you tomorrow.’

The past 4 years had been hell on earth for Jody under the previous administration, because she was constantly bullied, undermined and ridiculed by her male colleagues. The past 3 days gave her a sense of hope for the future. She felt empowered and inspired by the current president’s compassionate and aggressive leadership style in a male dominated political environment.

 

Chapter 41

 

The next morning at the presidential residence, Charles and I were seated at the dining table, having breakfast. As he was chewing, our eyes crossed then I looked at my plate. Gosh, I hope he doesn’t say something while he’s got food in his mouth. He swallowed. He picked the orange juice glass. And took a sip while he glared at me with a concerned look on his face.

‘Are you okay?’ he asked. Then put the glass of orange juice on the table.

‘I think so.’

‘Eat your food, before it gets cold.’

‘Oh yes,’ I sighed. Then I picked up the fork, poked at the omelet, bacon and bangers. I shifted them around the plate, like a child playing with broccoli and cauliflower on his plate. Charles put down the fork and knife on the plate and looked at me.

‘What’s on your mind?’

‘I’m a bit worried about something.’ I shook my head, threw the fork on the table and looked at him.

‘I’m listening.’

‘One of the journalist asked me how am I are going to raise the funds to finance the projects I promised to deliver.’

‘I think you responded quiet well, I think you said something like you were going to sell land and mineral resources from the old mines?’

‘Yes, but I think it’s going to be harder than that.’

‘Why?’

‘I went through the government’s financial statements. We’re in the red.’

‘Really, I thought…’

‘You thought wrong,’ I Interrupted. ‘There’s no chance I’d be able to turn this around.’

He pushed his chair back, stood up, he walked towards me and placed both his hands on my shoulders. He massaged them slowly and gently.

‘Please don’t tell me you’re thinking of throwing in the towel, a day after your inauguration?’

‘It’s just, I don’t know what to do.’

‘Call for a meeting or something with your cabinet and discuss a way forward.’

My shoulder muscles relaxed a bit then I gently moved my neck in a 360 degree motion.

‘You have magic hands. I could get used to this.’

‘I try.’ He stopped then strolled back to his seat.

‘Thanks, my love. I will do as you suggested.’

‘Good, now eat your breakfast.’

‘Yes, Sir.’

‘This is your first official day as the president, make it worthwhile and a lot of Appian people depend on you.’

I nodded. ‘I know, I have to deliver. I cannot fail them now.’

‘Hurry up, you’re already late.’

‘No, I’m still early.’ He shook his head with a smile on his face.

‘Even your bodyguards know you’re late.’

I turned and looked at the bodyguards at the door. ‘Guys am I late?’

The bodyguard glanced at his wristwatch and nodded.

I picked up a glass of orange juice as I stood up then took a sip. And put it back on the table. I snapped my right fingers.

‘I nearly forgot, I’ve concluded the final list of the officials in my cabinet.’

‘That was quick.’

‘Yes, Jody helped me a lot with that.’

‘I haven’t seen your office. I’ll pay you a visit very soon.’

‘It doesn’t have to be soon. Why not today?’

‘I’ll come at my own time. Why are rushing me?’

‘I’ve included you in my cabinet.’

‘Who? Me?’

‘Yes, Charles you.’

‘Wow, when can I start and what is my job title?’

‘You can start today. I’m thinking of opening a new department. I’ll tell you all about it, later this evening.’

‘Finally, I can do something constructive with my life.’

‘Brace yourself.’

I walked towards him, smooched his greasy lips. Then I paused and looked at him mischievously. He was out of it, lost in the moment. He shook his head, then snapped out of it.

‘Brace myself for what?

‘Your next assignment, I’m a demanding boss.’

‘I look forward to the challenge, madam president.’

‘That’s good to hear.’ I winked at him, turned and walked towards the exit. I imagined his roving eyes scanning my legs and flat butt right now. As I was about to exit, I turned around slowly. I kissed my right palm and blew it towards him. He smiled and nodded.

On our way to the government building, I picked up the car phone and dialed.

‘Hello,’ a female voice answered on the other end.

‘Jody, please call in an urgent meeting now at the auditorium, I’m on my way,’ I commanded.

‘No problem, ma’am,’ she replied.

Few minutes later, I walked inside my office, placed the briefcase on the table and opened it. Picked up few files and placed them under my right arm and rushed towards the auditorium.

As I walked towards the podium, the officials stood up and gave a round of an applause. Thrown off guard with the gesture. My heart skipped as I glanced around the auditorium. I lifted my hand in the air and waved.

‘Thank you, have a seat please.’

I put the files on the podium while I waited for the officials settled.

‘Good morning my fellow colleagues, look around you. You’d be working very close with each other in the next 4 years.’

Senior officials shook hands with the new officials. They recognized most of the new officials. They used to be members of parliament before John Williams came to power. They all wore the required white, silk fitted sweater, pants and shoes.

‘We had 15 government departments before. Not only did they perform dismally, they failed to complete even a single project. I’ve decided to close them down and narrow them down to 3. These departments will make Appian prosperous.’

The officials mumbled under their breaths as they glanced at each with a confused look on their faces.

‘We’ll have the department of Defense, finance and the Economic growth & infrastructure. Every one of you will work under these departments.’ I saw a hand up in the air and I pointed at him.

‘Madam President, could you tell us more about the economic growth and infrastructure department?’

‘The E.G.I’ will be responsible for rebuilding the economy and the crippled infrastructure.’

‘The purpose of this meeting is to come up with ideas, which will help us raise funds and finance all our projects.’

Scott Adams lifted his hand up in the air and I pointed at him.

‘Yes Scott, What do you think?’

‘I think we should introduce a taxing system for all citizens.’

‘That’s impossible, during my travels around Appian, I witnessed a lot of our citizens dying of hunger and serious diseases, your suggestion doesn’t make sense.’

He shrugged and sat.

‘You mentioned something about mining exploration yesterday. I think that is where we should start,’ an official suggested.

‘Where is the finance minister, Roger,’ asked another official.

‘Yes, at least he could update us about how much funds we have in our coffers,’ said another official.’

Roger lifted his left hand, stood up.

I noticed him. ‘Please settle down, I think Roger has something to say,’ I shouted.

‘As some of you were well aware. I was a finance minister by title, I didn’t have access to the government financial statements and funds,’ Roger added.

‘Who had access to the funds then?’ asked an official.

‘The first lady,’ he replied. Chaos erupted as the officials threw small squashed pieces of paper and insults at him.

‘You are lying,’ shouted an official behind him.

‘They should have also thrown this fat bastard to the slums with Scott and the Williams. Why are you still here?’ shouted another official on the far right from him.

‘Stop behaving like school boys. Go back to your seats or I will throw you out,’ I barked at them. I turned and pointed at Roger.

‘Roger, you still haven’t answered the question. How much do we have in our coffers?’

He opened the file, went through the contents and looked at me.

‘We have a total of AP$25 Million funds left and our assets are valued at AP$50 Million,’ he replied.

‘Jeez, that’s peanuts,’ I murmured and sighed. ‘What about the land, it must be worth billions.’

He shook his head. ‘The land is worthless. There is no demand for it.’ The officials glanced at each other in astonishment.

‘What do you recommend?’ I asked.

He closed the file and sighed. ‘There is nothing we can do, Appian is bankrupt.’

‘I know that. As a finance minister you’d know how to allocate funds to projects on a shoe-string budget,’ I said.

‘I think we should use the money left to provide food for all citizens and hope for the best.’

‘Hope for the best?’

‘Yes, the funds will run out in a year or two after that. We are all doomed.’

‘What about food manufacturers?’

‘We have 2 left.’

‘I think we should subsidize these manufacturers to expand their capacity to produce more food,’ I suggested. I saw the officials nodding as they listened attentively.

Scott stood up.

‘I agree with you and that’s what we expect from you madam president, because you promised a lot of things to the people of Appian and now it is time to deliver.’

This man is annoying. ‘I know that Scott, that’s why we’re here. To come up with solutions as a team in my cabinet.’

A grey haired official at the back stood up.

‘Madam President, I am sure you have great ideas. We would appreciate your input on these tough issues we face as a country.’

‘As I said I will liaise with the food manufacturers.’

‘We need to know your practical implementation plan for Appian?’ the grey haired official asked. Then sat.

‘Yes,’ shouted another official. ‘How can we transform Appian with so little money we have left?’

The groaning sounds of officials made my body tremble. For the first time in my life. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to, but I froze. As my eyes fluttered at the officials. I felt a sharp pinging pain in my head. I saw Scott in double vision. He and his twin gave me an evil smile.

‘Jody, I feel dizzy,’ I whispered to her.

She picked the glass of water from the table and handed it to me. I gulped the glass in a matter of seconds and gasped. I couldn’t stand anymore, my knees felt weaker, my vision deteriorated to darkness.

‘Oh my God.’ I heard Jody screaming.

‘Call for help now.’

I felt people lifting me up. When my eyelids opened. I saw the officials in the auditorium in an upside down view. Then I descended to darkness.

 

The medical staff entered her office with their medical equipment on their hands. They put her on the couch. An oxygen mask was placed onto her face as they tried to resuscitate her.

My eyes fluttered opened. I took off the oxygen mask and looked around. I saw the medical people, officials and bodyguards staring down at me with a concerned look on their faces. I felt a needle slid into my arm. Almost in the same instant a blissful, healing warmth spread all through my body, but my head still hurt.

‘What’s up? Where am I? What happened?’ I asked.

‘Ma’am you were unconscious for a while,’ the medical assistant replied.

‘Really? Ouch, my head hurts.’

‘You fell and hit your head on the floor, but you will be alright.’

I pointed at the bodyguard. ‘Take me home, I want to go home.’

‘No problem, ma’am as soon as I finish, you are free to go,’ the doctor said.

I became panicky. ‘I want to go now, come help me up.’ The doctor and his personnel shook their heads. The bodyguards grabbed my arms. And pulled me from the couch until I could stand on my feet. I caught the glimpse of the doctor’s facial expression. I could tell he wanted to say something.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘Nothing ma’am,’ replied the doctor.

‘The way you staring at me, doesn’t sound like nothing.’

‘I feel you should take a rest.’

‘I agree with you, that’s why I’m going home.’

‘I need to do more tests on you?’

I shrugged. ‘Very well, you can do that at my residence.’

The doctor nodded as he put the stethoscope in his bag. Then we walked out of the office.

‘What about the parliament session,’ Jody asked.

I shook my head. ‘Postpone it to next week.’

She scribbled on her notepad.

‘Is that all, ma’am?’

‘Yes, I’ll see you next week. Enjoy your weekend.’

We stepped inside the elevator except Jody. She waved at me as the elevator door closed.  

 

Jody took a long deep sighing breath as she walked towards the auditorium.

‘I am really not looking forward to this, especially since Yolanda is not here,’ she said to herself.

Her heart pounded faster as she entered the auditorium. Some of the officials who noticed her presence gave her a mean stare.

‘Can I have your attention please?’ she yelled.

‘What do you want?’ a voice shouted.

‘Where is the president?’ shouted another official.

‘I told you she will crack under pressure,’ Scott said. They burst out in laughter.

‘The president has postponed this session to next week. She is not feeling well.’

‘This is the big league. What did she expect? Let’s get out of here,’ he said.

Everyone stood up and strolled towards the exit. Jody also rushed out towards her office, shaking her head.

‘Not a very good start for the president. This is also not a good start for me. This is going to be a long hard road.’

  

Chapter 42

 

Charles heard the sound of car engines outside and peered through the window.

‘What is she doing here so early?’ he wondered.

The front door opened wide. Yolanda and the bodyguards strolled inside and helped her to the couch in the lounge.

 

‘Alright guys, I’ve got it from here, you can go now,’ he said.

The bodyguards nodded and scattered around the house.

‘Doc, as I said on our way here. I think I’m fine,’ I said. The doctor shook his head as he opened his bag.

‘I heard you, but I have to make sure you are alright.’

‘What happened to her?’

‘She collapsed.’

‘What?’

‘I’m fine, I just need a little rest.’

‘That’s a good idea. Let us go to your bedroom.’

‘Why doc? I’m comfortable here?

‘You need to lie down as soon as possible.’

‘Listen to the doctor, honey.’

‘We will set up medical equipment in your bedroom. Hopefully we will finish running all the tests by tomorrow.’

I shrugged. ‘I guess you’re right.’

Charles pulled me up from the couch, lifted and fell on his arms.

‘Where is the bedroom?’ the doctor asked.

‘Upstairs.’

Moments later, the nurse and doctor installed, connected and plugged the medical equipment in the bedroom as Charles put me on the bed slowly and gently.

‘We have everything under control now, Charles.’

‘That’s great to hear doc.’

‘We will take it from here,’

‘Oh yes, bye my love.’ I waved at him as he walked out of the bedroom.

       

News of Yolanda’s collapse in parliament shocked Appian citizens and the only people who rejoiced were her enemies. John and Jessica’s eyes were glued to the television screen as they absorbed everything juicy about the story.

‘I told you,’ Jessica said.

‘Told me what?’ John asked.

‘If you had contained alien girl during the elections. She would have cracked, just like she has now.’

‘Could you please stop it and just move on.’

‘Move on? How can we move on, living like paupers in this filthy house and neighborhood?’

‘We should be grateful, she gave us her house. It could have been worse.’

‘Yeah, yeah you keep saying that. When are we getting out of this scum infested hell hole?’

‘As I told you before, I’m on it.’

‘Did you call Scott?’

‘Yes.’

‘And?’

‘He said he will find me a job in the building as soon as things settle down up there.’

‘Nothing will settle down there while she is still around. I think this is the right time to strike while she is down.’

‘There is something that hasn’t gotten through your thick head yet.’

‘What?’

‘I am not the president anymore and you are not the first lady. Stop it with the delusions.’

‘I know that, but I don’t want to accept it.’

‘I will take any job Scott offers me. Whether it’s cleaning the floors or washing clothes.’

‘Scott, wouldn’t do that to us.’

‘All I am saying is, I have no problem working under him.’ 

 

Chapter 43

 

A foreign voice interrupted his thoughts. He slid out of it.

‘Sorry to interrupt you?’ the doctor said.

‘No, it’s alright, how is she?’

‘She is fine, but she needs to rest for the whole weekend.’

He nodded. ‘I’ll make sure of that.’

‘Good, tell me something?’

‘Okay, sure.’

‘Has she been under any stress lately?’

‘No, not that I can think of except…..’

‘Except what?’

‘She could be suffering from fatigue and exhaustion.’

The doctor took out a pen from the pocket of his white jacket and scribbled on a notepad.

‘Interesting, what makes you say that?’

‘The past 4 months has been challenging for both of us, especially her….’ He sighed.

‘Yes, carry on.’

‘For 2 months, she traveled all over Appian busy with her humanitarian project. Then the next 2 months she did the same with her election campaign.’

‘I can imagine.’

‘Yeah, I think everything took its toll on her.’

‘I see.’ The doctor’s eyes were fixated on the notepad he scribbled on. Charles stretched his neck trying to see what he was writing, but couldn’t read his writing, it looked Arabic.

‘So what do you think, doc.’

‘I think she needs a break.’

‘As I promised you, I’ll make sure she’s in bed the whole weekend.’

‘You are not hearing me. She needs to take some time off longer than a weekend.’

‘How long are we talking about?’

‘A week or 2 or even a month.’

‘That woman is stubborn. She won’t listen to me and sure damn won’t listen to you.’

‘I told her that but she did not reply but overall she will be alright.’

2 nurses walked down the stairs with the medical equipment on their hands and Charles walked towards them.

‘Ladies shouldn’t carry heavy equipment like these. Let me help you with that.’

‘Thank you,’ said the nurse.

‘No problem.’ He stepped out of the door with the doctor and nurses towards the car.

The doctor opened the trunk of a dirty black rusty sedan.

‘Did you give her some pills?’ he asked.’

‘Yes, I placed them by the bedside lamp and there is also a prescription note.’

‘Fantastic, thanks for everything.’

‘You are welcome.’

He put his bag and equipment inside the trunk and closed it.

The nurses waved at him and stepped inside the car.

‘Bye guys.’

 

The sharp splitting and excruciating headache pain struck and disappeared within few seconds. ‘What is wrong with me,’ I murmured. Then a knock on the door sounded.

‘Come in,’ I said. The door opened slowly. Charles appeared and strolled towards me.

‘Good evening my love, how are you feeling?’ he kissed me on my forehead.

‘I could be better.’

‘Rest is what you need and I won’t let you get out of bed this weekend.’

‘The doctor suggested I should rest for 2 weeks. Can you believe it?’

‘Are you going to follow his advice?’

‘Hell no, besides that’s the least of my priorities.’

‘What’s on your mind?’

I shook my head. ‘I fucked up. I made a rookie mistake. I should have planned ahead for the parliament session.’

‘Was it really that bad?’

‘It was terrible and now the officials seem to have lost the little confidence they had of me.’

‘It was your first day, next week things will get better.’

‘I hope so, you should have seen the smug on Scott’s face.’

‘You have the weekend to think things through and plan ahead.’

‘Yes you right, my health is very important, I need to focus on it.’

‘Good, I wanted to ask you something, but it always slips my mind.’

‘What is it?’

‘Why did you retain Scott Adams in your cabinet?’

‘It was a strategic move. I will not go any further than that.’

‘Alright, just make sure he doesn’t turn everyone against you.’

‘Point taken.’

‘Have you eaten?’

I shook her hands as her eyes closed. ‘No, I’m not hungry.’

‘You have to eat something to get your energy levels up.’

‘I will eat later, okay?’ I snapped.

‘Easy there, I’ll step back.’

‘Sorry, didn’t mean to take out my frustrations out on you, it’s just….’

‘I understand,’ he interrupted. You don’t have to explain.’

He strolled towards the door and as he was about to touch the door knob. I called for him.

‘Charles, wait.’

‘What?’

‘Where are you going?’

‘I thought I should give you some space.’

I shook my head. ‘Don’t go, I need you.’

‘I know, but you need to rest. I’ll sleep in the other bedroom.’

He tilted the door knob, opened the door and walked out. Then closed it as if he was rushing to do something.

‘What’s up with him,’ I wondered.

My thoughts wandered to what happened earlier today at the auditorium. I thought I had everything under control. Until I asked for suggestions from the officials. They bombarded me with their own questions which threw me off-guard. I never had a panic attack before. What is happening to me?

‘Damn it.’ I punched the pillow next to me. I picked it up and threw it away.

‘At the end of the day, the buck stops with me. I’ll never abdicate my duties again and will only delegate if it is necessary.’ I said to myself.

 

Chapter 44

 

As I allowed myself a few spoonfuls of a hideous cereal in the dining room on a Monday morning. I heard whistling sounds behind me. He pulled the chair, then sat.

‘Good Morning.’

I looked at him and forced a smile. ‘Hey.’

‘I thought you’d take a week off?’

‘I changed my mind.’

‘Why aren’t you in bed?’

‘I feel good and I’m on my way to work.’

‘I see.’

Judging by his long deep sighing breath. I could tell, he didn’t have the energy to argue with me.

‘I take it you’re going to work with me?’

‘Yes, I’m ready.’

‘Charles, where were you the whole weekend?’

‘I was here, indoors.’

‘Really? It’s funny you never bothered to check up on me.’

‘I felt you needed space.’

‘I see.’

He rubbed his hands. ‘Anyway, I’m sure you had a lot of time to think about where you are going to deploy your sweet and gentle husband in the cabinet.’

I gave him a mean blank stare for a few seconds. I shook my head, picked up a glass of orange juice and took a sip.

‘Charles, let’s get one thing straight. As soon as you step your ugly feet in the government building. I am your boss not your wife, do you understand?’ I barked at him.

‘What’s with the attitude? I was just playing with you.’

‘Just making things clear.’ I pointed at the bodyguards. ‘Let’s go guys, I have a long day ahead.’

‘I take it Mr Roberts is also coming with us,’ asked the bodyguard.

I shrugged and as I was about to say something he interrupted me.

‘As a matter of fact, it’s my first day at work. Yes I’m coming with you.’

I stood up and walked out of the dining room and the bodyguards followed. Charles threw his arms in the air with a confused look on his face.

‘But I haven’t touched my food,’ He moaned. He threw the fork to the table, stood and stormed out of the dining room.

 

I was seated at my office. I picked the phone and dialed it.

‘Yes ma’am.’ Jody answered it the other end.

‘Jody, please come to my office,’ I commanded and slammed it.

I opened a random file, leafed through few pages, while Charles looked on. A knock on the door sounded. Then it opened. Jody appeared.

‘Good morning, how are you feeling?’

‘I’m feeling good.’

‘Great, we were all worried about you on Friday.’

‘As I said, I’m fine.’

‘What can I do for you ma’am?’

‘I’m quite sure you know my husband, Charles.’

I pointed at him as he stood up and shook hands.

‘Morning Mr Roberts.’

‘Morning Jody.’

‘Find him an office. He will be in the Economic Growth and Infrastructure department.’

‘No problem.’

‘One more thing, inform all the officials we’ll have a parliament session today at 1 P.M.’

‘I will do that, ma’am.’

‘Excellent, let’s meet again at eleven a.m. I want you to help me with few things, I don’t’ want to be caught off-guard today.’

‘I’m ready when you are,’ she said.  

 

As they strolled down the corridor, Jody felt her heart pounding faster, but couldn’t comprehend why. The last time she felt like that was when John Williams was the president; throwing his weight around the building. She felt a hand on her shoulder, her heart raced and slid out of her thoughts. Then turned and looked at Charles.

‘You look like you’re million miles away.’

‘I’m sorry I have a lot on my mind.’

‘It’s okay, I asked you what do you think of the president?’

‘Oh, she’s amazing and I enjoy working with her.’

‘I hope you’re not just saying that because she’s my wife?’

‘Not at all.’

‘I’m kidding, that is good to hear.’

Jody opened the door and they stepped inside.

‘Mr Roberts, this is your new office.’

He nodded. ‘I like it, call me Charles.’

She nodded and smiled.

 

Chapter 45

 

I stepped inside the auditorium, earlier than anyone. I was determined to put the memory of my bad start behind. The officials walked inside in droves, chitchatting with each other. I didn’t wait for them time to settle down.

‘Good afternoon, I think we should start now,’ I yelled.

The officials looked at each other in astonishment and some gave me a mean stare.

I pulled out a document, placed it on the podium, and glanced at the auditorium.

‘First of all, what happened on Friday was unfortunate and I promise it will never happen again.’

The officials turned and glanced at each other with a mischievous look on their faces.

‘From what we have discussed on Friday, I have made a decision on how we’ll raise funds for our projects. Firstly I will allocate AP$25 million to 2 projects.’

‘The first AP$12.5 million will be allocated on subsidizing the last 2 food factories we have left in Appian. The second AP$12.5 million will be allocated on refurbishing all the mining machines and equipment Appian has. Then exploration of mineral resources will commence immediately. That would be the first phase of the implementation plan of improving the lives of Appian citizens.’

I closed the document and handed it to Jody.

‘Are there any questions, suggestions or concerns?’ I asked.

Scott raised and few officials raised hands.

I rolled my eyes and sighed. ‘Just great,’ I murmured and pointed at him.

‘Yes Scott.’

‘I think the first AP$12.5 million allocated to food manufacturers is not a bad idea at all, but I disagree with the exploration project. That’s a complete waste of money.’ The officials grumbled and nodded, signaling they agree with him.

‘Please settle down and let the President reply,’ Jody yelled.

‘Scott, this is my vision for Appian. If you or anyone here doesn’t agree with it. You are welcome to hand in your letter of resignation by the end of the day.’

I pointed my index finger at Roger.

He stood up. ‘I feel we should not spend every cent at the treasury or else we will end up with nothing. We would be unable to pay salaries of government employees,’ Roger added.

‘Noted Roger, but I feel we should be aggressive in exploring this option and extract whatever ore we find. Then sell it to Canada.’

An official at the back raised his hand and I pointed at him.

‘Madam President, you mentioned this is your first phase of your implementation plan. What is your second phase?’

‘Phase 2 will be the financing of all government projects I promised.’

‘How sure are you, we will have the funds?’ he asked again.

‘If we don’t try. We will never know,’ I replied.

‘The best option we have is to explore and extract all gold, diamonds, platinum, crystals, chrome, chrome and even gasoline.’ The officials looked at each other and nodded in agreement with my vision. I glanced around the auditorium and noticed there were no hands up.

‘I take it you have no more questions for me,’ I pulled a piece of paper from my file.

‘I have decided to keep Scott Adams as the Defense Minister and Roger as the Finance Minister, please give them a round of an applause.’

I saw Scott breathing a sigh of relief. Then he punched the air as his cronies gave him a pat on his shoulders. Roger held his chest and sighed.

‘The minister of Economic Growth and Infrastructure will be Charles Roberts.’ He looked as shocked as everyone else. I’m sure he thought he’d be given an office job. Judging by the silence at the auditorium no one seemed pleased with the appointment. I couldn’t care less what everyone thought. I was glad the parliament session went well and my plans would be executed immediately by the EGI department.

‘Thank you, we will have another session next month,’ I concluded. Jody rushed to the podium and carried my documents as we walked towards the exit.

‘How did I do?’ I asked.

‘You were marvelous.’

‘I hope you are not just saying that, because I’m your boss?’

‘No, ma’am,’ she smiled.

‘I’m just playing with you. Anyway please tell Roger and Charles to come to my office.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘I also want you to be present.’ She nodded and we went our separate ways down to the passage towards our offices. I stepped inside the office, flung myself onto the executive couch. I stretched my arms then yawned. I dozed off.

A knock on the door woke me up. Jody, Charles and Roger walked inside.

‘Great.’ I murmured. I stood up from the comforts of the couch. And walked towards my desk.

‘Thanks for coming at such short notice, have a seat.’

‘How can we be at your service, ma’am?’ Roger asked.

‘We will start our program in few days and the two of you will work together and make them a success.’

‘No doubt, I’m ready for anything,’ Charles said.

‘Charles, I want you to set up a meeting with the factory owners, ASAP.’

He nodded as he scribbled on a notepad.

‘Roger, I understand all the mining companies closed down.’

‘Yes ma’am, I have been informed all our mining equipment and machinery is old and stored inside old buildings in Westville.’

‘I want you to show Charles where all the equipment is stored.’

‘What will I do with them?’ Charles asked.

‘Refurbishments, you will instruct your staff to hire people to fix them.’

‘I will administer the costs and salaries of the labor force. Do not worry I will be with you all the way,’ Roger assured him.

‘I think that would be all for now. Charles I need to speak with you,’ I concluded as I glared at my husband. Jody and Roger stood up, walked towards the door and exited.

‘What’s with the attitude?’ I yelled at him.

‘What are you talking about?’

‘I thought I made it clear to you. I’m not your wife at work.’

He rolled his eyes and sighed.

‘Believe me, I got that one loud and clear.’

‘Then what’s the problem?’

‘Why didn’t you tell me, I was going to be a minister?’

‘Which job would you like to have then, your majesty?’

He shook his head then stood up. ‘I thought I’d get a low-key job, not this…’

‘Not what..?’ I interrupted

‘People will accuse you of nepotism.’

‘Stop being petty and take it like a man.’

‘Why are you so cold?’

‘This is not home.’

‘I understand that but…’

‘But what?’

He sighed. ‘Never mind.’

‘Do you accept this ministerial position or not?’

He nodded. ‘Yes I do.’

‘Good, you will liaise with Roger about the budget of the refurbishments and wait for further instructions.’

‘Can I go now?’

‘Yes you can go.’

‘He strolled towards the door, opened it, exited then slammed it.

‘Grow up, you childish prick,’ I yelled. Then I threw a pen and it hit the door. ‘You have just spoiled my day, you ungrateful bastard.’

Anyway my parliament session was a success and it brought a smile on my face. Small things like that boosted my morale and my confidence shot through the roof. I never thought even in my wildest dream, I’d be the president of Appian. The best part of it all; my colleagues (including misogynists.) report to me.

My biggest challenge and hurdle was the current socioeconomic conditions of Appian. My mission was to transform Appian by any means necessary. I stood up, turned and peered my view through the window. I kept darting glances at Appian. I never saw a rubble; black smoke coming out of every building and coal factories and slums everywhere. I saw a beautiful future for Appian, with shiny high rise buildings, advanced infrastructure and technology. A country with enough food, water and employment for every citizen.

A familiar voice interrupted my thoughts.

‘Madam President, it’s time,’ said the bodyguard. He pointed at his wristwatch.

I looked at my wristwatch then looked through the window. It was dark. ‘Sheesh, time flies.’ I picked up my briefcase from the table and walked towards the door with a smile on my face.

‘I don’t feel like going home tonight.’

 

Chapter 46

 

For a couple of weeks, Charles and Yolanda were not on speaking terms and slept on separate bedrooms. One thing he looked forward to, was his new career and colleagues. He met with the owners of the food factories and informed them about the subsidy they’d receive. The next day he sent his subordinates to Westville, to collect all the mining equipment and bring it to Appian for refurbishments. He stepped inside Roger’s office and handed him report findings and recommendations.

‘Have a seat Charles,’ Roger said. Charles shrugged. Then pulled the chair and sat.

He opened the report, skimmed through the contents and threw it to the table.

‘It seems everything is in order. I will go through it tonight.’

‘Alright, what happens next?’ Charles asked.

‘I will give you feedback tomorrow and if I’m happy with it. I will forward it for recommendation and authorisation.’

‘To whom?’

‘Your boss, our boss,’ he said with a grin on his face. He stood up, opened the liquor cabinet.

‘Whiskey?’ he offered.

‘Please.’

He pulled out a bottle, opened it, and poured it on 2 glasses on the table. He closed it with a cap and placed it back to the cabinet.

‘I understand you used to be a tutor at a university in your previous life?’ he handed him the glass.

‘Once upon a time yes. It’s a pity universities are extinct.’ Charles shrugged as he received the glass of whiskey

‘At least you have a job.’

‘I guess you right,’ he took a sip and sighed.

‘I am right, you should count yourself extremely lucky to be employed in this God forsaken country.’

He nodded as he took another sip. ‘Sometimes I wonder, how did earth end up the way it is today?’

‘I don’t think that matters now.’

‘I guess you’re right.’

‘I have to admit the president seems to be on the right track.’

‘You think so?’

‘Of course, John Williams literary did nothing except embezzle state funds.’ He took a sip, looked at the glass, nodded and gulped it.

‘She is determined to turn this country around. I commend her for that.’

Roger nodded then put the glass on the table. ‘I couldn’t agree with you more.’

Charles picked the glass and gulped the rest of the whiskey and stood up.

‘Whe…Where are you going?’ he asked.

‘Home.’

‘Would you like another round of whiskey?’

‘I’m alright, thanks.’

‘No problem, we should do this more often.

‘Whiskey and touch base as ministers, definitely,’ he said with a wide grin. Then he exited. One bodyguard stood outside the door waiting for him.

‘Let’s go,’ he said. The bodyguard nodded as he walked next to Charles towards the elevator.

‘Is my wife still here?’

‘No sir, she left about 3 hours ago.’ He nodded then entered the elevator.

 

6 months down the line, Yolanda and Charles grew apart. It didn’t bother Yolanda the way it did to her husband because she was cold, distant and devoted to the cause like a zombie in an apocalypse. It was as if she forgot she had a husband. Every time they were in the dining table, her eyes were only fixated on the plate. When he tried to initiate a conversation, she ignored him. He also lost himself in his work as he applied himself diligently. He got to know his colleagues’ strength and it helped him maximize productivity in his department.

A knock on the door sounded.

‘Come in,’ he said.

The door opened. Jody walked inside.

‘Good morning, Mr Roberts.’

‘Morning Jody, what can I do for you?’

She slid a thick file on the table. He picked and opened it.

‘Roger and the president gave me instructions to hand you this document.

He shook his head. ‘What about the scheduled meeting with Yolanda this morning?’

‘She said I must tell you it is canceled.’

‘I don’t believe this.’

‘Basically they have approved the funding, it is all in there.’

His eyes skimmed through the contents. ‘I can see that.’

‘Is there anything else you need, sir?’

‘No, you can go now.’

‘Okay.’ She nodded, turned around and walked out of the office.

‘At least the funds are in my department now. I can start immediately,’ he murmured.

Almost all the government funds in the budget were directed at the EGI department and the other departments where last on the president’s priority list.

Later that day, he had a meeting with the owners of the food factories. The first owner was an Indian man, Salim Kithara and the second owner was Greek man named, Keith Koumantarakis. They looked different from the rest of the Appian population. They were affluent men without political affiliations. They had big bellies and a large frame, it was a rare sight considering 99.5% of the population suffered from malnutrition.

‘Gentlemen, welcome.’ They shook hands. ‘Have a seat.’

‘Thank you,’ they said at the same time.

‘I presume you have signed the Memorandum of Understanding?’

‘Yes I am happy with the conditions,’ Salim said.

‘We need you to deliver Food security and more employment for Appian citizens.’

‘We understand the terms of the subsidy grant and we will deliver,’ Keith assured him.

They pulled out the MOU documents from their briefcases and handed the documents to Charles. He scanned the contents of the documents and nodded.

‘Signed, sealed and delivered. I’m happy. The money will be wired to your account within 24 hours.’

They stood up, shook hands and strolled towards the door as they conversed.

‘This project means a lot not only for us, but for the country as well,’ Salim said.

‘I agree with you, but it is strange the previous president never thought of this,’ Keith agreed.

Charles shrugged and pointed at the owners and pulled a serious mean face.

‘I trust you will not disappoint me,’ he said.

They shook their heads. ‘Not a chance,’ Salim assured him. He stared at Keith and waited for a response. ‘No.’

The next day, Charles and his staff managed to compile a list of experienced candidates who used to work at the mines. Most of the ex-miners were traced. They lived in the slums and most of them passed away. News of the thousands of people employed in the mines and the food factories spread, as more citizens rushed to the site and tried their luck. Most of them were turned away, because the quota was reached. It didn’t damper their spirits instead it gave them hope.

The spotlight went back to the President. TV reporters interviewed a group of miners by the mine entrance.

‘How do you feel since it is your first day at your new job?’ Reporter asked.

‘Very, very happy.’

‘My vote for President Yolanda Roberts was not a waste of time after all.’

‘Yes, we would appreciate it if more of our people were employed. Life in the slums is devastatingly hard more than you could comprehend,’ another miner testified.

‘This proves how lazy John Williams was. Appian will be great again.’ The miners roared and chanted Yolanda’s name as they entered the mine elevator and closed it. The reporter moved the microphone close to her mouth and stared at the camera.

‘Well, it seems Appian has made a good choice by voting for Yolanda Roberts as a president. Within few months in office, she has delivered her promise to employ more people,’ she shouted as the crowd chanted behind her.

 

Chapter 47

 

Roger and I signed off some paperwork for staff salaries. While Jody waited for me.

‘Is everything in order?’ I asked.

‘Yes, ma’am,’ he replied.

‘Everything’s a go.’

As we stepped out of Roger’s office, colleagues at the corridor gave a round of an applause as we tried to manoeuvre towards my office.

‘What’s going on?’ I asked.

‘I think they are cheering for you, ma’am,’ she replied.

‘I know that, but why?’

‘Apparently hundreds and thousands of people were hired in the mines and the food factories.’

I shook my head. I stopped in the middle of the corridor. I gestured to everyone to settle down. I don’t think they heard me.

‘Shut up,’ I yelled. ‘I appreciate the gesture I really do, but why are you cheering for me instead of coming up with ideas and solutions. Which will help us raise a lot of funds for the second phase next year? I will never cheer for you when you are doing your job, you’re paid to do, now go back to your offices and work.’

The officials scattered in different directions as they made way for me to pass. Some of them smiled as they ducked to their offices.

‘I don’t believe this.’ My eyes and Jody’s crossed. ‘What?’

She shrugged then looked away. ‘I feel you were being harsh on them.’

‘Who asked you for your opinion?’

‘I apologize.’

‘Good, we haven’t reached even 1% of our targets yet people are celebrating. The real work starts during the 2 phase, we can’t afford to celebrate mediocrity.’

I stepped inside the elevator as I shook my head.

              

Red-faced Jody stood still, overwhelmed with emotions. She felt a gentle hand on her shoulder, she turned around abruptly and saw Charles.

‘Don’t take it to heart, she means well.’

‘It doesn’t feel like that.’ She couldn’t hold her emotions. Tears welled out in her eyes. She fell into his arms and leaned her face against his chest. Stuck in an awkward position, his arms were wide up in the air then tapped her back gently every few seconds. His eyes glanced around the empty corridor, checking if anyone sees them. Even though he didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t want to give his colleagues the wrong impression.

‘It will be all right.’

‘When someone yells at me, I just lose it.’

She pulled back, took a step back and wiped tears off her eyes with the back of her hand. ‘Thanks.’

She walked away from him towards her office. She opened the door, paused, turned and looked at Charles. He waved at her. She waved back then stepped inside. She closed the door and leaned on it.

‘What am I doing? He is a married man,’ she murmured as she shook her head.

  

Chapter 48

                  

A month later at an underground mine. Miners blasted and drilled through the rocks as they sang songs.

The morale was high, they exceeded drilling targets by locating few gold seams.

Suddenly, the miners felt the ground tremble. A tremor or an earthquake erupted.

They froze as their faces were distorted with terror. Horrifying crying sounded from miners on different levels. Some of them knelt and prayed for the big rocks not to crush them to death.

The tremor stopped within 2 minutes. A wave of fear pulsed through the miners’ faces as they glanced at each other, leaned against the rocks and waited. An emergency siren maddeningly sounded. Signaling the miners to exit the mines to the surface. The miners dropped their tools and rushed to the mine elevator as they pushed against each other.

 

Officials at the government building and the Appian also felt tremor and the aftereffects. Petrified and perplexed, Jody, bodyguards and I glanced at each other. The bodyguards rushed outside and checked for any possible threats.

‘What was that?’ I asked.

‘Earthquake, I think,’ Jody replied.

‘Do they occur often?’

‘No.’

I sighed as I stood up from the floor and walked towards Jody. ‘You can get out now,’ I said as I stared at Jody hiding under the table.

‘Alright.’ She crawled out reluctantly and stood up.

‘That was scary.’

‘Tell me about it.’

‘When was the last time an earthquake hit Appian?’

‘It’s my first time experiencing it.’

‘So you don’t know?’

‘Yes… but legend is….’ I interrupted her before she could finish.

‘Ah, stop it with the fairy tales.’

‘Wait! Let me finish.’

I folded my arms as I leaned on the desk. ‘You have my full undivided attention.’

‘My mom once told me the last time earthquake hit. All other continents sank under the sea.’

‘When?’

‘About 6000 years ago.’

‘Do you think North America will sink too?’

‘Why not?’

I sighed. ‘Jody, let’s get back to work.’

 

Chapter 49

 

As we were about to resume our meeting, a loud bang sounded from the door. Scott and Charles stormed inside the office. The bodyguards reacted by trying to block them from moving closer to me.

‘Go play somewhere, I’m not in the mood,’ Scott warned them.

‘Guys, let them come closer,’ I commanded. Then the bodyguards stepped aside.

He pointed at one of them in his face. ‘I will get you bastards.’

‘That was unnecessary though,’ Charles added.

‘What is going on guys?’ I asked.

‘The tremor or earthquake that hit Appian was not natural,’ Scott gasped.

‘What do you mean not natural?’

‘I have received Intel about it and I don’t think it’s looking good.’

‘I think we have to go there and check it out,’ Charles suggested.

‘Scott, Charles, what the fuck are you talking about?’ I barked.

‘The possible cause of the tremor is…’

Scott was interrupted by a soldier whispering into his ear. Suddenly they ran outside the office. Charles and I followed them. Then the bodyguards followed us.

‘Don’t leave me hanging like this. Wait for me,’ I yelled.

A convoy of military cars lined up outside the government building. Scott, Charles and I stepped inside the camouflaged SUV. The soldiers handed us helmets and protective gear.

‘Where are we going Scott?’ I inquired.

‘The miners told us they found something.’

‘Found what?’

‘Something peculiar.’

‘Can you be more specific?’

‘According to my Intel, the miners thought they discovered a gold seam.’

‘Go on.’

‘As they drilled further a gold light radiated from the seam.’

‘Strange.’

‘That’s what I said.’

‘Do you think it could have been a volcano?’ Charles asked.

Scott shook his head as he put on the helmet over his head. ‘I don’t think so, but there is only one way to find out,’ he replied.

‘What makes them so sure, it could be the source of the tremor?’ I asked.

He shrugged. ‘I don’t know, but the mine supervisor called us to see for ourselves.’

‘I sure hope it’s something worthwhile.’

Charles rolled his eyes and sighed. ‘I’m pretty sure Scott knows a thing or two about following an Intel lead.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ I asked.

‘All I’m saying is, let’s wait and see.’

I shook my head, looked through the window. I wanted to scold Charles, but I didn’t want Scott to pick on the tension between us. The dirt road to the mine was long and bumpy. The highway was closed, it was badly damaged. Few minutes later, the convoy arrived at the mine. I saw hundreds of petrified miners running out of the elevators, scattering into different directions. 2 miners wearing dirty white oversized overalls waved as they ran towards the convoy. Soldiers blocked them before they could reach the SUVs.

‘Let us through to Scott. We spoke on the phone,’ they demanded.

Scott opened the car window and stretched his neck out. ‘Are you the mine supervisors?’

‘Yes,’ they replied at the same time.

‘Let them through,’ he commanded. The soldiers frisked them then stepped aside. Then the supervisors strolled towards the SUV while Scott, Charles and I stepped out of the vehicle.

‘We didn’t know what to do, except call the authorities,’ he gasped.

‘Yes, we thought we were going die down there,’ said the second supervisor.

‘Wait, tell us what happened?’ I asked.

‘We will tell you on the way, please follow us.’

We followed them towards the entrance, but we were unable to enter. Hundreds of miners pushed against each other out to the surface.

‘I think we should use another elevator few meters away from here. Stay here and make sure all the miners are safe. The second supervisor nodded, turned around abruptly. And shouted to the miners coming out of the elevator. ‘Hurry up, we still have a lot of our men down there.’

‘Sorry about that,’ the miner said as he pulled out keys from the pocket.

‘What are we facing here?’ Scott asked.

The supervisor inserted the key, tilted clockwise then anti-clockwise. The elevator gate opened and switched on the lights.

‘You can come in now,’ he said. They hesitated as they looked at each other.

‘What are you waiting for?’

Check if it’s safe,’ I commanded. The bodyguards stepped inside and glanced around.

‘It’s safe, I promise,’ he assured us. Then we stepped inside with the soldiers. The gate closed and moved down.

‘What is really down there?’ I asked again.

‘We thought it was a gold seam but….’

‘What?’

‘We drilled again then something strange happened.’

‘Spit it out please,’ I sighed as I leaned against the corner of the elevator.

‘My men were excited when they saw gold seam, but when it radiated and lit up the whole place. We knew something was wrong.’

‘What did you make of it?’ Charles asked.

The elevator stopped. We switched on the head gear lights and walked behind the supervisor.

‘As I was saying, when we drilled further the gold seam turned into a polished and refined gold.’

I interrupted. ‘Are we there yet?’

‘We are about 20 feet away.’

‘Good, this place looks very dangerous and creepy. We could get buried alive in here.’

The ground trembled for 2 seconds.

My heart thumped erratically. ‘Charles.’ I screamed, and jumped into his arms. Scott, bodyguards, and soldiers leaned against the rock wall. Trembling in fear as they gazed at the small crumbling stones rolling down from the roof to the floor.

The miner pointed at the ‘gold Seam.’

‘Here it is, every time we drilled onto the seam it moved and vibrated.’

‘Moved?’ I asked.

‘At first it vibrated. Then the ground trembled.’

‘We also felt it back in the city,’ Charles added.

‘You mean to tell me this shiny gold debris is the cause of the tremor?’ I asked.

The supervisor nodded as he moved closer, touched the seam. It vibrated and pinged for a few seconds.

‘What the hell is this?’ Scott exclaimed.

‘Maybe it’s treasure or ….,’

Charles interrupted. ‘Did you hear that?’ We turned and looked at him.

‘Hear what, Charles?’ Scott asked.

‘IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?’ shrill voices sounded from the background of the seam. Now I heard it. We jumped and stepped away from it.

‘What was that?’ asked the soldier at the back.

I turned and looked at the supervisor. ‘It must be the miners trapped down there, crying for help, right?’

He shook his head. ‘Impossible madam president. This is the last level of the mine. There is nothing below,’ he replied.

‘Then who are these people crying for help?’ Scott asked.

The supervisor shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’

‘CAN ANY ONE HEAR US?’ the voices sounded louder from the background.

I shook my head. Then lifted my hands and put them on top of my head.

‘This is spooky. I’m outta her. Scott this is your forte, handle this.’

I snapped my fingers and gestured to the bodyguards to leave.

On our way up the elevator, Scott gave strict instructions to the soldiers to guard the entrance to the mine and not let anyone near the seam.

‘Scott, make sure that thing is not a threat to Appian,’ I said.

‘I’ll make sure of that,’ he assured me.

‘I’m sure it’s nothing, but if it turns to be gold, then the miners will extract it and sell it.’

Scott nodded as the elevator stopped and the gates opened.

‘You know what to do Soldiers, get moving,’ he shouted.

After we stepped out of the elevator in the surface. The ground trembled harder than before. My bodyguards pushed me to the ground and covered me as the tremor continued. Everyone on the surface lay on the ground, covering their heads. A loud metallic explosive bang sounded from underground. As the sound got louder, I felt something moving underground. The tremor stopped and the dust in the air looked like a sandstorm. It was foggy, I couldn’t make out what’s going on. I only heard the coughs and sneezes.

‘Is everyone alright?’ Scott shouted.

‘Yeah I’m alright,’ Charles replied.

‘Get off me,’ I said. Then coughed. ‘I’m okay.’

As the dust cleared, Charles glared at something, but waited until he could see clearly. He rubbed his eyes then pointed at it.

‘Look,’ he exclaimed.

We turned round and looked. A vibrating gigantic shiny gold machine appeared from the ground. As a result the mine collapsed, big rocks fell on every level underground. There’s no chance the mine would ever be used again.

‘WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?’ I screamed.

‘It looks like a huge gold ring or an alien machine,’ Scott speculated.

The rest of the miners and soldiers on the ground regained consciousness and also noticed the glowing gigantic machine. It was 10 feet high, 5 feet wide, golden circular-shaped ring with a stairway which was supported by golden pillars underneath.

‘CAN YOU HEAR US? IS ANYONE OUT THERE?’ A man’s voice shouted from the machine. The miners ran away as fast as they could, leaving us behind.

‘I think it’s the same voice from underground,’ I said.

‘I think I know what this is,’ Charles said.

‘What is it?’ Scott asked as we looked at Charles.

‘It’s a passageway, wormhole or portal.’

‘Impossible, those things don’t exist in real life,’ I dismissed him.

‘The golden drones, Xakes, Xotron and Cleopatra back at the Black Hole? Do you still want to argue this is not a portal?’

‘Touche’

‘What is a portal and a wormhole?’ Scott asked with a confused look on his face.

‘You will see for yourself. Come let’s go up the stairway and hear them out.’ Scott followed him behind as we strolled towards the portal.

‘I feel we should destroy this thing, and get on with our peaceful lives,’ I yelled and hoped he would reason with me.

He shook his head. ‘Not a chance.’

I glanced at the bodyguards. ‘Stay here, I’m coming.’ I rushed up the stairway as my eyes glanced around me, checking for anything out of the ordinary.

A half-naked man with long blond curly hair appeared, on the other end of the portal with a sword and a shield in his hand and few men stood behind him.

‘Please tell me these are not aliens,’ Scott said.

‘I don’t know Scott,’ he replied. I looked through the portal and marveled at the beautiful wet tropical forest landscapes in the background.

‘I can see you, can you see me?’ He asked.

‘Yes we can see you,’ we replied at the same time.

The man smiled, turned round and looked at his men. Then looked back at us.

‘You have no idea, how many months I tried to reach anyone out there, but I never gave up hope.’

‘State your business,’ Scott demanded.

‘My what?’

‘Who are you, sir?’ I asked.

‘I am Gabriel, the leader of the Xapiens.’

‘What planet are you from?’ Charles asked.

‘Planet Gadju.’

We whispered into each other’s ears as we stared at him.

‘What do you think guys?’ Charles asked.

‘I say we destroy this portal and get on with our lives,’ I replied.

‘I agree with her Charles, this could be dangerous.’

He nodded as if he understood, but his thoughts were miles away.

‘I hear you, but let’s hear him out. That’s all I’m asking,’ he argued.

‘What is the name of your planet?’ Gabriel asked.

‘Planet earth.’

‘I have never heard of it.’

Charles nodded. ‘Wow,’ he said.

‘Gabriel, what is the purpose of your contact?’ Scott asked

‘My people and I would like to explore other planets.’

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘We would like to know how other people live, eat, communicate and more.’

‘There is nothing new to learn in this planet, try other ones.’

‘I’m afraid we can’t just let strangers into our planet without knowing their backgrounds.’

‘I understand, perhaps we have something in common,’ Gabriel said.

‘Like what?’ I asked.

‘I am not sure, but something we both need for our people and exchange it for mutual benefit.’

‘Fair enough but I don’t think you have what Appian needs,’ I said.

‘Try me.’

Is this guy for real?’ Scott whispered into my ear.

I shook my head and looked at Charles.

‘What do you think Charles?’

‘It’s your call, you’re the president,’ he shrugged.

Gabriel interrupted them. ‘You still have not told me what you need and you already know what we need.’

I shrugged. ‘Our economy has collapsed. My people are dying of starvation and we’ve ran out of natural resources.’

‘I think we can help you with that?’

Scott chuckled and shook his head. ‘Can you believe this bozo?’

‘How?’

Gabriel disappeared from the portal screen and reappeared with a huge shiny glittering gem about the same size as a soccer ball on his hands.

‘Are you talking about this?’ he asked. My lower jaw dropped. Then nodded in astonishment.

‘Oh my God, please tell me that is a diamond,’ I rubbed my hands.

‘I do not know. We have no name for it,’ Gabriel replied.

‘It looks like it,’ Scott added.

‘A girl’s best friend,’ Charles said.

The screen went blank. Then Gabriel reappeared holding different commodities repetitively, such as gold, crystals and other rare gems like he was doing a PowerPoint slide presentation.

‘Where did you get those minerals and gems?’

‘They are scattered everywhere, our children like to play with them, but otherwise we have no use for these kind of stones except steel and metal.’

‘Hypothetical speaking, if we allow you inside. What do you want in return?’ I asked.

‘As I said we are interested in learning about the people of planet earth and share ideas,’ he replied.

‘Synergies, huh?’ I said to myself and nodded.

‘I think you should let them in,’ Charles suggested.

‘I agree with him, besides think about the gold and diamonds we could extract from there,’ Scott added.

‘Gabriel, I will get back to you soon,’ I said.

‘Fair enough, we will wait for your response.’

The portal shut down after Gabriel pressed something on the other end.

Charles pointed at the screen and nodded. ‘My love, I think Gabriel’s offer is the solution to all your plans and Appian.’

‘What do we know about them? I can’t just let in strangers to our planet.’

‘Why not? John let you stay when you arrived from Space,’ Scott argued.

I gave him a mean stare.

He shrugged. ‘What? I am just stating facts here.’

A horrifying lightning bolt split the sky. Then an explosive sound of thunder made my heart pound faster. Heavy rain poured within few seconds. We ran as fast as we could, towards the convoy.

‘Scott, make sure the wormhole is heavily guarded and no one should come near it,’ I commanded.

‘Understood,’ he replied.

They stepped inside the vehicles except the soldiers with white raincoats on, standing by the portal.

  

Chapter 50

            

Back at the government building, Jody’s heart hammered as Yolanda stormed inside her office without knocking.

‘Tell everyone to meet me at the auditorium and organize a press conference, pronto.’

Jody stood up and nodded. ‘Yes, ma’am, I’m on it,’ she replied.

‘Thanks.’

 

As I strolled towards the auditorium, thoughts of the portal played back on my mind. The diamonds, gold stones and all those other valuable gems shown by Gabriel, is what I needed more than anything. All I had to do was press the green button on the portal. Let them in and collect all the minerals from the other side. I shook my head and sighed.

This is too good to be true, he never specified what they really needed, shelter or food, they could be aliens or a dangerous kind specie. I stepped inside the auditorium. I was the first to arrive. I stood by the podium and my mind drifted. The portal flashed again through my eyes, tipper trucks arriving from the other side with loads of minerals. Appian will be prosperous beyond measure. The accolades and the glory would be enormous. Hundreds of voices interrupted my thoughts. I snapped out of it. My eyes glanced around and realized the auditorium was filled to capacity.

‘I have something to tell you, please settle down,’ I said.

‘Please hear the president out, it is important,’ Scott barked and the noise levels decreased in an instant. Then everyone sat.

‘My fellow colleagues, Appian is faced with a dilemma and I need to know what you think about it. A portal surfaced from under the mine. People appeared from the other end of it. They wish to visit our planet. They claim they’re interested in our culture, and how we live and eat. In return they are offering us free mining rights to extract their planet of all the mineral resources. Firstly, I need your take on this. Then we put up a vote whether to allow them in or not.’

An official far-right stood up. ‘What is there to think about or discuss here, I say yes.’

‘I agree with him, this is a perfect opportunity,’ an official in front added.

Scott stood up and nodded. ‘I was there, that man showed us diamonds and gold larger than a soccer ball.’ The officials looked at each other with a wide grin on their faces.

I shook my head. ‘Don’t you think we should wait and find out who they are?’

The officials roared in protests and pointed fingers at her.

‘That is your job not ours.’

‘Let them in. Then we will decide for ourselves.’

‘Nothing seems to work right now, I think we should try them.’ The officials demanded. I shrugged and pointed at Jody.

‘Let’s vote, Jody count them.’ Jody stood up and walked towards the podium.

‘All those in favor of the Xapiens to enter earth through the portal, remain seated and all those against it, stand up.’

Officials glanced at each other while they remained seated. No one stood up.

I sighed and shook my head. ‘I will not let them in just yet. I have to consult with the general population of Appian.’ The officials roared in protest as they threw their arms in the air.

‘What is going on, madam president?’

‘The cabinet has spoken, let them in.’

‘We decide what is best for Appian and not the people.’

‘It seems you do not want the Xapiens to come in.’

‘Typical, women always want everything to revolve around them,’ officials shouted.

‘That is all for today.’ The officials rumbled as they strolled towards the exit.

Moments later, I stepped inside the office. TV media crews were inside.

‘Good day, I’ll be brief.’

‘We have found the cause of the quake. It was not an act of God. We discovered a portal on the mine and there are Xapiens people on the other end requesting to visit us. In return they offered us tons of mineral resources. I will take few questions, yes.’ I pointed at one of the journalist.

‘Will the miners be paid their salaries, since the mine has collapsed and closed down?’

‘Yes, they will be paid their salaries.’

‘Who are the Xapiens?’

‘All I know is, they look like us and talk the same language as us.’

‘What did they offer exactly?’

‘They showed us tons of gold, diamond and many other minerals.’

‘Do you trust them?’

‘Hell no.’

‘Why do you think so?’

‘I feel we should know what we get ourselves in to, before we allow strangers to our planet.’

‘What does your cabinet feel about this matter?’

‘We voted on it.’

‘What did they say?’

’99.9% said yes, we should let them in.’

‘What are you waiting for, then?’

‘I want to know how the Appians feel about this matter.’

‘What if they all agree with your cabinet?’

‘I’d have no choice but to let them in. That would be all for today, Thanks.’

The bodyguards escorted the media crew out of the office towards the elevator. Some of their attempts to ask more questions fell on deaf ears as they were pushed out.

‘What does your gut instinct tell you about the Xapiens?’

‘What if the Xapiens are here to terminate all of us?’

‘Close the door, this is going to be harder than I thought. I picked up the glass jar filled with water. I poured it on the glass and put it on the desk. I took a sip from it. One of the journalist asked me about my gut instinct on this matter. My flashed back 8 months earlier, when we were about to land on earth. I had a bad feeling, earth was not the same as we left it 2 weeks ago. I felt the exact feeling about the Xapiens. Part of me, wanted to give them a benefit of the doubt and let them in. On the other hand, I suspected they had sinister ulterior motives. I was stuck between a rock and another rock.

                  

Appian citizens never bothered to celebrate New Year’s Day. They felt all gloom and doom about their futures. There was no Y10K craze or fireworks celebrating the year 10,000. It had been 4 months since Appians voted in a referendum. 95% voted for the Xapiens to visit earth and 5% voted against it. Politicians, officials and the citizens’ patience was running thin.

 

Chapter 51

      

I was seated at my office, conflicted and in isolation. For the first time in my presidency I felt under pressure. The gossiping and opinions of my cabinet members never bothered me but the thought of the people revolting against my government, sent a chill down my spine. I don’t want an Appian spring or a civil war under my administration.

I sighed. ‘They could be here any moment from now, something doesn’t add up though,’ I murmured as I skimmed the contents of the report from the food factories.

A knock sounded from the door.

‘Come in.’ Jody walked in with Keith and Salim.

‘Good morning gentlemen.’ They nodded at the same time.

‘I hope the subsidy was enough to feed the Appians?’

Salim shook his head. ‘It was enough for the first 3 months but now..’

I interrupted him and pointed at them viciously.

‘No, No and No, I can’t afford any more bad news,’ I barked.

Salim and Keith looked down to the floor in shame like naughty boys at the principal’s office.

‘I am afraid we have bad news, madam president,’ Keith added.

I sighed. ‘What happened?’

‘We have ran out of funds,’ Salim revealed.

‘What?’ I screamed.

‘It was beyond my control,’ Keith said.

‘You have misused government funds and I will make sure you spend the rest of your miserable lives in prison,’ I snapped.

‘Can I explain, ma’am, please,’ Salim begged.

‘Explain what?’

‘We produced enough food items and supplies that would sustain Appian for the next 12 months, but the people from the slums have consumed greater quantities of the stock.’

‘We are afraid the food supplies will also run out within 3 months unless. We receive another cash injection.’

‘We have no more money left in our bank accounts. Appian is bankrupt. And I don’t know where I will get the money to pay the salaries of the officials and miners.’

‘We are sorry to hear that.’

‘You know what, I don’t care how you misspent the funds. Just get out of my office,’ I gestured by snapping my fingers to the bodyguards. The bodyguards grabbed Salim and Keith. They resisted as they were dragged towards the exit.

‘Madam President, this could work we just need more money,’ Keith pleaded.

‘You could have done more with the money I gave you. We have no more funds left,’ I yelled. The bodyguards threw them outside and slammed the door.

‘GREAT, JUST GREAT,’ I exclaimed. ‘7 months later, all my strategic objectives have gone up in smoke.’ I picked the glass jar, threw it against the wall, shattering into pieces.

‘Jody, tell Charles I want to see him now.’ Jody nodded and rushed out of the office.

‘My master plan relied on the success of these objectives. Now I have nothing but an egg on my face. This stupid portal is all I have to show for it,’ I said to myself.

‘You said you wanted to see me.’ Charles opened the door and strolled towards me.

‘Why didn’t you knock? Who said you should come in?’

He shook his head and sat. ‘What can I do for you?’

‘I haven’t asked your opinion about this portal issue.’

‘Well, you have never asked me about it.’

‘Now I’m asking.’

‘It’s fascinating.’

‘Why?’

‘Finally, extra-terrestrials have made contact with us.’

‘I rolled my eyes and sighed. ‘Should I let them in or not?’

‘Yes, let them in.’

‘I thought you’d support me on this.’

‘You’re on your own on this one.’

‘Anyway, why do you think so?’

‘They could be the solution to all your problems.’

‘Or the source of all my heartache.’

‘You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.’

‘I don’t believe that.’

‘I’m still trying to understand. Why you’re being difficult on this.’

I shook my head. The reason I called you is, I’d like you to head a task team.’

‘A task team?’

‘Yes for the Xapiens.’

‘I see you have changed your mind.’

I nodded. ‘I have no other option.’

‘When are you going to let them in?’

‘Tomorrow.’

He rubbed his hands. ‘I can’t wait, I have a feeling 10,000 is going to be a great year for everyone in Appian.’

‘I hope so,’ I said. ‘Since you have a background in astronomy, I need you to create a quarantine site area for the Xapiens.’

‘No problem,’ he replied.

‘That would be all.

‘Cheers,’ he said as he stood up, strolled towards the door and exited. Charles shared the good news with his colleagues then selected some of them into the Xapiens task team. Within few hours the news spread around Appian like wildfire.

 

Chapter 52

 

On my way home, I was seated in the presidential car. My mind went into overdrive. I’m left with one option. I thought of different scenarios on how the Xapiens could conduct themselves. If they pose a threat. I’ll send them to prison or escort them back to where they came from. As soon as I stepped inside, I went straight into bed.

A siren pinged louder inside my head. My eyes fluttered open then I realized it’s an alarm clock. Back to the world of the living. My arms stretched, then I yawned.

‘I’m not looking forward to this day,’ I murmured. Then I threw the covers to the edge of the bed. I rubbed my eyes as I climbed out of bed. I heard this fool shouting from downstairs.

‘Wake up.’

‘I’m up,’ I shouted back at him. I picked up the pillow from the bed then threw it against the door and sighed.

As I strolled down the stairs towards the dining room. I thought of calling in sick, but decided against it.

I hate growing up sometimes.

I saw him wiping the grease on his lips with a napkin, and picked the glass of orange juice. Then he took a sip.

‘It’s about time,’ he said.

‘Good Morning.’

‘Finally, the ice princess has awoken,’ he joked.

‘Not today,’ she said as I pulled the chair and sat.

‘How are you feeling?’

I shrugged. Then picked the orange juice jar and poured it to the glass.

‘I hardly slept.’

‘I can see that,’ he said. ‘What’s on your mind?’

‘The damn portal, what else?’

‘Oh that,’ he shook his head then took another sip and put the glass on the table.

‘Yes, that,’ I argued. ‘I can’t afford to make another blunder.’

‘You are being very childish right now, I thought we discussed this.’

‘What if…’

He interrupted me. ‘Stop it.’

‘I will be accountable if anything goes wrong.’

‘True, but the citizens and your cabinet have spoken.’

I nodded, gulped the orange juice then stood up and strolled towards the door.

‘I almost forgot.’

‘What?’ he asked.

‘We are not going to the office today.’

‘Of course.’

‘We have to scrutinize and find out everything we need to know about Xapiens.’

‘I agree. A quarantine site has been allocated for them by the way.’ He stood up and followed me towards the front door.

An hour later at the mine. Thousands of people gathered 20 meters away from the heavily guarded portal. The weather was consistently the same every day, dark cloudy. Soldiers were on high alert as they guarded it with automatic rifles on their hands. I also saw snipers and Special Forces behind huge rocks pointing bazookas and guns towards the portal. Scott stood right in front of the portal, glaring at the Xapiens on the other end.

As I strolled up the stairway towards the portal. I stopped, turned and glanced at the crowd.

‘I want you to listen to me very carefully,’ I shouted as I pointed at the cameras and the crowd. I’m only doing this, because it’s what you asked for and there’s no turning back from here.’

I took a deep breath, turned and climbed the stairway with Charles. I pressed the green button. Then we moved to the side next to Scott and waited. The portal vibrated for a few seconds. It made a pinging sound as it opened. The portal opened. I recognized my moment of destiny had arrived. 2 human figures holding each other’s hands walked through it. The shabby animal hides they wore, made them look like the people from the Palaeolithic age. The male looked very familiar, he was tall, had a chiseled dirty and sweaty body. His eyes were small, brown with long curly blond hair. The female had a short blonde hair, brown eyes, small frame and her bosoms were not covered. The female took a step back and hid behind him. Gabriel gazed around the crowd with a smile on his face then looked at Scott on his right side and nodded. Realistically, I expected to see a real extra-terrestrial emerge, something that looks like E.T not human figures.

He clenched his right hand and lifted it in the air.

‘Good day, my name is Gabriel. I am the leader of the Xapiens,’ he shouted.

Lower jaws dropped to the ground in shock and astonishment as everyone glared at the Xapiens, because they looked very familiar.

‘What the hell is going on here?’ Scott said as he turned round and stared at us with a suspicious look on his face. He turned again and looked at Gabriel and the woman with him. My heart sunk as I looked at Gabriel.

‘Why is everyone quiet?’ he asked. As I strolled towards him my body trembled. Confusion crossed my face. I pointed at the Xapien woman.

‘Who? Who are you?’ I asked because she looked very familiar to a woman I know very well. She took another step back and hid behind Gabriel.

‘Her name is Pamela,’ he answered for her. She is my wife and daughter of my predecessor.’

Scott stood in front of me and gave me a blank stare.

‘You and Charles had us all fooled,’ he shouted me.

My eyes looked down to the ground helplessly. I knew what he was talking about, but I didn’t know what’s going on or how it happened.

‘What are you talking about, Scott?’ I asked in a low tone voice.

‘Look at them and look at you and Charles,’ he shouted.

The crowd and officials looked at each other as they mumbled and nodded in agreement amongst each other.

‘The secret is out now,’ Scott barked.

‘You must be proud of yourself. You were aliens all along. You tricked us,’ voices from the officials shouted.

Charles and the soldiers tried to block the officials charging towards us. One of the official swung a heavy blow to Charles’s face, knocking him down the ground. The bodyguards also joined in as they pushed them back.

‘Can anyone tell me what is going on?’ Gabriel shouted with a loud terrifying voice of authority. Everyone stopped and stared at him. He spoke English but he had an accent.

I took a deep breath then walked towards Gabriel.

‘How many of your people are coming in?’

‘All of us, about 500, 000,’ he replied.

I nodded and sighed. ‘Tell them to come in,’ I said.

 

Powerless and livid, Scott looked like he wanted to speak his mind as he clenched his fists but held back. It was one of those rare occasions when a true story is even stranger than a fiction. Gabriel looked like Charles and Pamela looked like me, like we were a set of identical twins. The rest of the Xapiens walked through the portal to the shock of Appians. The Xapiens looked identical to every citizen in Appian. One of the older Xapiens looked like Scott.

I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed at his lookalike.

‘Can you explain that, Scott? I asked. ‘Does that also make you an alien?’

He looked shaken. He shook his head. Then looked away to one of the soldiers next to him.

‘Take them to the quarantine. I have to get to the bottom of this.’

Attention shifted from us to the Xapiens. The officials paced towards the convoy shaking their heads in dismay. An hour later, Scott pressed the red button. The portal closed. The snipers and Special Forces behind the rocks came out in hiding and assisted in escorting the Xapiens to the quarantine block. I gestured at Scott. As he strolled towards me, he gave me a conspiratorial look. I’m sure he thinks the Xapiens are my people and I’m behind all this.

‘Scott, I need the quarantine report in few days. I’ll decide the next step,’ I said.’

‘Decide what?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘The plan to extract minerals from the other side.’

‘Oh, I will give you the quarantine report as soon as possible.’

I nodded. I stepped inside the car with Charles.

                   

Scott watched on, as the convoy disappeared in the fog miles away. He looked at the warrior-like physiques of the Xapiens men and shook his head.

‘What if they are here to set a colony and murder us all?’ he murmured as he remembered how Yolanda was against the idea to open the portal in the first place.

He sighed. ‘Maybe she is as shocked as us or maybe it is all just an act,’ he thought. He stepped inside his SUV with few soldiers. Then opened the window and pointed at one of the soldiers on the ground.

‘Guard this portal with your lives, nothing must come in or out of that thing,’ he commanded. The soldiers nodded then formed a formation around it.

 

Chapter 53

 

Later that evening at the presidential residence, Charles and I were seated at the dining room, eating dinner.

‘I never expected that,’ he said as he took a sip of the red wine.

I shrugged as I chewed slowly, then swallowed. ‘What do you expect me to say?’ I asked.

‘Just trying to make a conversation,’ he replied.

I shook my head. Then I wiped the grease off my lips with a napkin.

‘I have bigger problems worry myself with.’

‘Care to share?’

‘Scott Adams and the rest of my cabinet.’

‘Why are you worried?’ he asked. ‘You did everything by the book.’

‘I’m not worried per se, but I have a hunch.’

‘I’m listening.’

‘I think they suspect I’m behind the portal and the Xapiens.’

He ached in laughter. ‘That’s ridiculous, what makes you think that?’

‘Think about it. We came from space, upon our arrival, they accuse us of being extra-terrestrials and some of them still think we are.’

‘Okay, go on.’

‘Gabriel and his wife look like us. How the hell do we explain this?’

‘They also look identical to everyone else in Appian, don’t worry,’ he consoled me.

I sighed. ‘Maybe I’m overreacting, but I still have a bad feeling they’re going to use that against me.’

‘Look on the bright side, you have allowed the Xapiens to earth and now it’s their turn to hold their end of their bargain.’

I nodded and smiled. ‘I almost forgot about that.’

‘Just focus on the positives.’

‘You’re right, as soon as I receive the report from Scott. I will take it from there.’

‘When are we going to enter their planet?’

‘Within 5 days.’

‘Great, I’m also interested in learning about what’s really out there.’

‘That makes the two of us.’

‘Isn’t it strange they look identical to everyone in Appian? How did this kind of thing happen?’

‘I nearly pissed my pants when Scott stared at me when Gabriel came out of the portal.’ We burst out laughing.

‘I trust he will keep an eye on them.’

‘What a time to be alive.’

‘Indeed,’ I said. Then took a sip from the glass of wine.

 

 Chapter 54

 

5 days later, the country waited in anticipation about the fate of the Xapiens. I gave strict instructions to the military medical personnel to perform every test on all the Xapiens and leave nothing to chance. My eyelids didn’t blink as my eyes glared at the door as if I was deep in thoughts. I was waiting for Scott or Jody to come in. I’m sure the bodyguards noticed, but I didn’t care. A knock on the door sounded. My heart rate ticked faster than usual.

‘Come inside,’ I said.

The door opened, Scott and Jody strolled inside towards my desk.

‘Would you like me to stay for the meeting, ma’am?’ Jody asked.

I nodded, then I pointed at the bodyguards.

‘Yes, you stay and they go.’

The bodyguards exited and closed the door.

‘Have a seat guys, what do you have for me?’

‘I have the lab results. All Xapiens were tested.’

Scott pulled out a thick document, thicker than the yellow pages from his brief case. Then slid it on the table to my side.

‘Did you find anything unusual?’ I asked as I went through the contents on the first page.

‘Nothing, they’re 100% humans. It’s all in there,’ he replied.

‘Fantastic,’ I exclaimed. ‘DNA, Blood types and vital organs are all there.’

Scott gave me that look again. ‘Where to from here?’

‘We integrate them with the general population. Then we start with the first phase.’

‘First phase?’ he asked suspiciously.

‘Yes, mineral extraction at Planet Gadju.’

‘Oh.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ she asked.

‘As the defense minister, I have to protect Appian at all cost.’

‘From what?’

‘Invasion from outer space.’

‘Do what needs to be done. It’s your job after all.’

‘Why are you so defensive?’

I don’t believe this. I sighed then stood up. ‘I’ve just had enough of your shit,’ I barked.

He threw his arms in the air and smiled, like he anticipated my reaction.

‘Are you hiding something that I should know about?’

‘GET OUT, THROW HIM OUT OF MY OFFICE,’ I exploded.

The bodyguards stormed inside the office. ‘Is there a problem, madam president?’ the bodyguard asked.

‘Yes, take this man out of my office,’ I commanded. They grabbed Scott like a common criminal, roughed him up as they dragged him out of the office.

I sighed. ‘Can you believe this guy?’

Jody shrugged. ‘He has always been like that.’

‘With so much grey hair, you’d assume he has brains.’

Jody chuckled, pushed the chair and stood up. ‘Is there anything else you need?’

‘I think we’re done. Tell Charles, I need to see him now.’ I pulled the chair, sat and continued reading the Xapiens lab report.

Few minutes later, the door opened. Charles walked towards my desk.

‘You wanted to see me?’

‘Don’t you knock no more?’

‘I’m an exception. I’m your husband.’

I smiled. ‘You’re lucky I’m in a good mood.’

‘What can I do for you?’

‘Have a seat and take a look at this.’ I pointed at the documents in front of him.

‘What is this?’ he asked. He sat, picked the document, skimmed through the contents.

‘Lab report of the Xapiens, they came back clean.’

‘I can see that.’

‘I called you to discuss our next move.’

‘Finally, mineral extraction.’

‘Before that, we have to integrate them with the citizens.’

He sighed. ‘When can we start?’

‘In few days.’

‘What’s with the delay?’

‘I’ve organized their own apparel.’

‘What? I thought you’d get rid of this ridiculous national dress code law.’

I ignored that. ‘They will have the same design as ours, but theirs will be maroon like the ones from Star Trek.’

He sighed. ‘You still don’t trust them?’

I shook my head. ‘It’s for identification purposes. Anyway, I want us to go to the quarantine block and tell them the good news.’

‘We better hurry up.’

‘Why?’

‘Roger has just told me our financial reserves have been exhausted.’

I covered my face with my hands and sighed. ‘How can I forget, let’s go.’

We stood up and rushed towards the door and exited.

  

Chapter 55

                  

As I stepped out of the vehicle, I spotted Gabriel a distance away. One of Xapiens saw us strolling towards them. He tapped Gabriel’s shoulder. He turned round and looked at me and smiled. He looked like the better version or an opposite of Charles, I don’t know. A hot wave flowed through me as I slurped my saliva for a few seconds. Now that was a savage. What a sexy beast. A combination of Brad Pitt in Troy, He-man and Conan. I stood in front of him and his clique.

‘Welcome to planet earth,’ I said.

Gabriel and the Xapiens cheered as they jumped in the air and hugged each other in celebrations. Some of the Xapiens tapped Gabriel on his shoulders and others shook his hand. I turned around abruptly. I pointed at the soldiers behind me and snapped my fingers.

‘You can bring it,’ I commanded.

Moments later, soldiers came back carrying thousands of huge brown packaged parcels and put them in front of them. The parcels cut their excitement short as they moved a few steps back.

‘What is this?’ Gabriel asked.

‘These are your new clothes you will wear on earth.’

‘Why?’

‘You need to have clothes. Right now you are naked.’

He shrugged. Then bent, tore the parcel and pulled out a silk maroon sweater.

‘Why our clothes are not the same color as yours?’

I blushed as I bent and opened one of the parcels. ‘No reason.’

He nodded. ‘To remind us, we are not from here. Is that right?’

‘I hope you understand.’ I pulled out few sweaters, pants and shoes. Then gave it to the Xapiens.

I noticed the Xapiens elders looking at Gabriel, shaking their heads in disagreement. He shrugged helplessly as he passed the parcels to the back and the rest of the Xapiens.

‘Gabriel, can we talk?’ I asked.

He nodded. We strolled away from the crowd and stopped a few meters away.

‘I’d like to ask you a few questions. If I come across as rude, forgive me.’

‘No problem.’

‘Is there anything you want to share with me?’

‘I do not understand.’

‘Some details you might have left out. Details that might jeopardize our mutual partnership?’

‘I have told everything you need to know about us.’

‘Are you sure?

‘Yes.’

‘Then why do you look like my husband? And why do I look like your wife?’

He chuckled. ‘I really do not know.’

‘Why don’t I believe you?’ I narrowed my eyes like a special agent trying to shake the truth out of a suspect in the interrogation room.

‘Yes, I admit we were as shocked as you are. Learning we have people that looked like us.’

‘One last thing.’

‘What is it?’ he asked.

‘I think you’re up to something and I will find out sooner or later.’

He shook his head. ‘We are here for one thing. To learn about planet earth and hopefully you will learn about our world and culture.’

‘Then why the rest of your people don’t look as happy as you’re to be here? My God, they look petrified like they are running away from something.’

He shook his head. Then looked away. ‘Why would we run away from a planet with plenty of food, shelter and treasure?’

‘I don’t know, you tell me?’

‘You have a wild imagination.’

‘My husband thinks so too.’

‘I guess your husband and I have a lot in common.’

‘On another issue,’ I changed the topic. ‘My mining team will travel to your planet in few days.’

‘Good.’

‘Is it safe?’

‘What?….what do you mean safe?’ he asked in an unusual tone.

‘Oxygen? Should we wear a protective gear to planet Gadju?’

He shook his head. ‘No, that would be unnecessary.’

‘What’s wrong? Your face looks pale?’ I interrogated him further.

‘Nothing, my people and I have not had enough time to rest,’ he replied. Then he wiped the sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand.

‘If you need anything, you are welcome to call me.’

He nodded. ‘Thank you for your hospitality, but if you do not mind I have to attend to my people.’

As we strolled back towards the crowd. There were moments I thought Gabriel was Charles. Judging by his current appearance, I could tell who was who. Charles is well-groomed with a calm demeanor, kind hearted, sensitive and a good listener. Gabriel was the opposite, his body odor stank like he never bathed in his life, arrogant and macho. I watched him disappear amongst his people with parcels in his hands.

I sighed. ‘At least we’re getting something out of all this.’

I snapped my fingers to the nearest soldier, gestured to him to come closer.

‘Make it clear, it is imperative they wear those outfits. Then take them to their living quarters,’ I commanded.

He nodded. ‘Yes, madam president,’ he replied.

The bodyguard opened the passenger door and I stepped inside.

I sighed. ‘God, they stink. At least the slum dwellers take a bath every day.’

‘Now that this situation is out of the way. My focus is to extract every valuable commodity and minerals from that planet,’ I thought. I smiled and looked at the bodyguards next to me. They nodded as if they knew what I was thinking about.

                              

Later that evening, the Xapiens community settled on their new living quarters in abandoned buildings. The rooms were equipped with a bedroom and basic bathroom and kitchen facilities. The next day, Roger and few members of parliament gave Gabriel and half of the Xapiens a tour around Appian. As they walked into the city center, their maroon apparel stood out and the citizens noticed.

The citizens moved to the pavement as they made a way for them to pass. The Xapiens glanced around them, sideways and up at the people staring them from the windows. He took a deep breath, lifted his right hand in the air and waved at the crowd. The rest of the Xapiens also waved at everyone in the city center. The crowd clapped, then walked towards them and shook hands.

Almost everyone in Appian came to the city center to meet their look-alike and conversed about their backgrounds and way of life.

A week later, the Xapiens felt at home as they familiarized themselves with the, law, culture and how to conduct themselves through their daily interactions with the citizens. The only people not caught up with the excitement of the visitors from space was Charles, Yolanda, Scott and the EGI staff. They were preoccupied with the mining project at her office.

  

Chapter 56

 

Charles slid the file on the table. I opened it and leaned back to the chair as I went through the contents in the first page.

‘That is the implementation plan for..’

‘Mineral extraction, yes, I know,’ I interrupted.

‘Actually, we have coined the word, ‘Space Mining’ with my EGI team.’

I rolled my eyes. ‘Space mining it is, carry on.’

‘We are ready to go, 50 tipper trucks and 15 bulldozers in good condition are on site.’

‘That’s good. How many tons does each truck carry?’

’About 40 to 50 tons max.’

I nodded. ‘I’m happy so far. Does anyone have objections and suggestions?’

Some of the staff shook their heads, some turned their heads checking if anyone has something to say.

‘Can you assure us of our safety on the other side?’ a voice asked from behind.

‘Gabriel assured me it is safe and I think you have nothing to worry about.’

‘Do you trust them?’

The voice sounded very familiar but couldn’t see who it was.

‘Scott, is that you?’ I asked. Jody pointed at the corner at the back.

‘Yes, it is me.’

She sighed. ‘This is the EGI department meeting. You are not supposed to be here.’

‘I have every right to be here,’ he added.

‘Please get out, before the bodyguards throw you out.’

‘I asked you 2 questions and I am not happy with your response.’

‘What do you want me to say?’

‘Anyway, my soldiers need to be deployed to that planet and guard our citizens.’

‘He has a point, I think we have overlooked the security item,’ Charles said.

‘Alright, do what you do best then,’ I gave in. ‘I trust you’re going to keep tabs on them. Same way you did on us when we returned from space and when I was running for office.’

He nodded with a smug on his face. ‘As you said, I will do what I do best.’

‘Charles, is there anything else we haven’t covered?’

‘I think we have basically covered everything except..’

‘Except what?’

‘Video cameras to shoot the landscapes.’

I shrugged. ‘Whatever. Tomorrow morning we take everything valuable from that planet and bring it back home. We’ll meet at the portal at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. They stood up and exited my office as I closed the file and sorted the scattered documents on the table.

‘Take all these chairs out of my office,’ I asked the bodyguards. Few minutes later, I stood up and strolled towards the beige leather couch. I sat, reclined and stared at the ceiling.

Ecstatic as I was at that moment about the mining project. I couldn’t shake the chilling feeling about the Xapiens. Even though everything checked out. There was something missing. ‘Maybe I didn’t ask the right questions?’ I murmured. I realized I had been harsh on them. Considering I had experienced the same treatment when I arrived from space. I shook my head.

‘Maybe I should give them a benefit of a doubt.’ A knock on the door sounded.

‘I’m busy,’ I shouted.

The door opened. Charles strolled inside.

‘I know you don’t want to see anyone right now, but you will love this.’

‘What do you want?’

‘Remember Becky?’

‘Ah, Becky, Becky, Becky.’

‘The lady with a TV show.’

‘Yes, how can I forget?’

‘Guess who she has invited to her show?’

‘Please don’t tell me it’s me? I’m not going there ever again.’

He chuckled. ‘No, they have invited Gabriel and his wife Pamela.’

‘Very interesting,’ I murmured. My thoughts wandered for a few seconds.

‘Are we going to watch it?’

‘Of course, this will give us some perspective.’

‘I agree.’

‘I don’t want to make the same mistake, John Williams made.’

‘Remind me again, what mistake was that?’

‘Turning the country against us and nearly succeeded.’

‘Jesus, how could I forget that?’

‘I will not interfere. I just hope the Xapiens get along with our citizens.’

‘Don’t worry about that. Roger told me the integration was a success.’

I nodded. ‘That is great news. Why wasn’t I told about this?’

‘I didn’t think it was important. Anyway the interview will air in 30 minutes.’

‘8 p.m. is still far away.’

‘Yes, it’s almost time.’

Confusion crossed my face as I looked at my wristwatch.

‘My God, time flies, let’s go home.’

The bodyguards opened the door for us. I don’t know when we made up, but I’m not complaining, he’s my husband after all. Married life is like being on a roller coaster journey without a destination. We whispered sweet nothings into each other’s ears. Then giggled softly as we strolled towards the elevator.

Back at our residence, I was seated on the couch in the lounge, eating pop corns.

‘The show is about to start, hurry up,’ I shouted.

Charles stormed in, with a bottle of champagne on the right hand and 2 glasses on the other hand.

‘Snacks and champagne, Check,’ he said. Then sat next to me.

 

 Chapter 57

            

The audience settled on their seats as some waved at the small drone cameras flying above them. The bright lights from the audience stand and cameras made it impossible for Gabriel and Pamela to see clearly.

‘Becky, if it is not a problem. Could you turn off some of the lights, I can’t see,’ Gabriel requested.

‘No problem,’ Becky replied. She turned around abruptly. Pointed at her assistant and whispered into his ear. The assistant nodded, he rushed backstage. Then few lights switched off and the lights dimmed to Gabriel’s satisfaction.

‘Welcome to another exciting episode of Becky’s TV show. Thanks for tuning in.’

She turned and looked at another camera in front of her.

‘Our guests today are none other than our visitors from outer space. Gabriel, the leader of the Xapiens clan and his wife Pamela.’

The audience clapped, then stopped few seconds later.

‘Gabriel, Pamela, welcome to planet earth and Becky’s TV show.’

‘Thank you and most importantly, the warm hospitality we received from the people is very humbling,’ he said.

Pamela nodded to every word he said.

‘Where do you come from?’ She asked.

‘From the great planet called Gadju.’

‘What made you come to our planet out of all the planets in the galaxy?’

‘Firstly, we were unaware there was planet earth. We wished to visit faraway lands, but we did not know where to start.’

‘So you built a portal?’

He shook his head. ‘What is that?’

‘The ring shaped machine you walked through.’

‘No, we did not know what it was and what was it used for.’

‘How did you discover it?’

‘The children were playing in the forest and stumbled on it by accident.’

‘Go on.’

‘They ran back to the village and told the elders. When we saw it, we thought it was Savimbi.’

‘What?’

‘Savimbi is a Xapiens god, we worship.’

‘Fair enough, what happened next?’

‘We heard men talking, singing and shouting from the other side through Savimbi. Then I pressed the red button.’

‘How did you know which buttons to press?’

‘I did not know, it was the only button there.’

‘What do you think of planet earth and its people?’

‘Beautiful and to be fair we have been treated exceptionally well by the citizens.’

‘Before you came here, did you know you had a twin?’

‘No, it was a shock to me and my people?’

‘What was the deal between you and our president Yolanda Roberts?’

‘It was plain and simple. We offered Appian our unlimited minerals. In return we will stay on earth.’

‘I thought I heard it was a short visit. Are you planning to stay permanently or for a few months?’

‘It depends on how the people of planet earth feel about us.’

‘So you want to stay here on a permanent basis?’

‘Yes.’

‘Why?’

‘We like it here.’

‘Gabriel, are you running away from something?’

He sighed. He picked a glass of water from the small wooden table, took a sip and put it back on the table.

‘No, why?’

‘I think you have a secret and I have a bad feeling we could also be in danger because of it.’

‘You have a wild imagination, Becky.’ He brushed off her allegations.

‘Maybe but you haven’t answered my question, are you hiding something?’

‘Like what?’

‘Why are you so defensive? I’m the interviewer, I ask the questions and you reply.’

He shrugged. ‘I do not have a secret.

‘Are you an alien?’

He forced a chuckle. ‘No.’

‘Why did you smile when I asked that question?’

‘If my people and I were aliens. You would all be dead by now.’

The audience murmured to each other in disbelief and others covered their mouths in astonishment.

‘Settle down guys,’ she said. ‘Gabriel, have you ever seen an alien before?’

He took a long deep sighing breath. ‘Yes.’

‘What does it look like?’

‘Like a reptile.’

‘Was it in your planet?’

‘No.’

‘Where was it, Gabby?’

He glanced at Pamela then to the audience, then back to Becky.

‘No more comments from me, I am leaving.’

‘You cannot leave in the middle of the show.’

‘We can do another show at another time,’ he said as he stood up then grabbed Pamela’s arm and pulled her up. Then rushed towards the backstage.

‘Did I hit a nerve, Gabby?’ she turned and looked at the camera.

‘That would be all for tonight. I hope Gabriel answered all the questions you were afraid to ask.

‘I don’t know about you, but something is not right about this. Something doesn’t feel right. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.’

‘What if the Xapiens are not what they claim to be?’

‘What if their sole purpose on earth is to set up a colony?’

‘What if Charles and our president were in contact with the Xapiens before they landed on earth?’

‘What if they are planning an invasion right under our noses?’

‘Is that all a coincidence?’

‘That would be all for tonight, catch me next week, same time and place. Good evening.’ The audience clapped.

            

Among the TV audience watching the show, Scott was seated on the edge of his bed with a smile on his face as TV show credits flashed on the screen.

‘You have outdone yourself Becky, Bravo,’ He said to himself.

He raised the half-full glass of bourbon whiskey in the air.

‘My time to strike will come.’ He gulped all of it at once then placed the empty glass next to the bedside lamp. Overwhelmed with the alcohol in his system. He flung his body to bed. ‘I’m coming for you young girl,’ he murmured then snored within seconds.

 

Charles gulped the last drop of champagne and put the glass on the table. He picked the remote, clicked the power button then the screen switched off.

‘Just when I thought everything would be a breeze from now, this happens,’ I said.

‘She shouldn’t have mentioned our names.’

‘Exactly, it was unnecessary.’ I took a sip from the champagne glass.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t take this to heart. Anyway I think this will blow over in few days.’

‘You think so?’

He nodded. ‘I thought the show went well.’

‘True.’

‘I don’t think he has anything to hide.’

I gulped the champagne in the glass. Then I put the glass on the table.

‘Maybe, but sooner or later they will reveal themselves.’

He shrugged. ‘As long they keep their end of the bargain, I’m good.’

‘That makes the two of us.’

‘Big day tomorrow.’

‘Yes and I’m looking forward to it. Those trucks better come back full of gold, diamonds worth gazillions of Appian dollars.’

‘I’ll make sure of it.’

‘Be careful, it could be a trap.’

‘Don’t worry, I’ll be alright.

Our wet lips smooched then paused. We stared deep into each other’s eyes.

‘I love you, Charles.’

‘I love you too my sunshine.’

He stood then bent. Before I realized what he was up to. He lifted me and I was on his arms.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked in a sexy voice.

We giggled as we climbed the stairs, murmuring kinky sweet nothings on each other’s ears.

 

[*Chapter 58      *]

                  

The trucks and bulldozers stopped by the portal as Scott glanced at his wristwatch every few seconds then he strolled around the portal.

‘Where the hell are they? He asked Jody.

‘They will be here any moment from now,’ she replied.

‘Whatever, what kind of example they’re setting?’

She Shrugged then noticed a cloud of dust 1 mile away and pointed at it.

‘They are here,’ she shouted.

Scott raised his hands in the air and looked at the sky.

‘Finally.’

The convoy stopped behind the portal, she and the bodyguards stepped out then rushed towards the podium.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, let us give a round of an applause to the president of Appian, Yolanda Roberts,’ Jody announced and handed the cordless microphone to her.

 

‘Thanks Jody.’ I took a deep breath, paused then glanced around my cabinet officials seated in front.

‘Good morning, this is the first day for the rest of our lives. Our men are going to the land of the Xapiens and will bring us wealth to Appian. What does that mean? Everyone will be employed. There will be enough food for everyone and all the slum dwellers will live in decent houses. Good luck to our men and don’t come back empty handed, you hear me,’ I shouted.

‘We all know the defense minister Scott Adams. His soldiers will guard and escort our men to planet Gadju. Let me do the honors and open this. I climbed up the stairway and saw the red and green buttons.

‘Are you ready?’ I asked at the top of my voice.

‘Yes,’ the crowd replied at the same time. I pressed the green button.

Ocean waves sounded, fresh wind breezed in as the portal opened. The crowd marveled at the wet tropical forest landscapes on the other end. Charles climbed onto the passenger seat of the first truck in line. Then waved at the crowd. The trucks and bulldozers drove inside the portal followed by 2 military trucks with soldiers seated inside, on the bonnet and at the back. I pressed the red button then the portal closed.

‘That’s all folks, we’ll let you know how everything went, thank you.’

One of the journalist raised her hand and I pointed at her.

‘When can we expect them back?’ she asked.

‘I’m not sure, but I will inform you as soon as I hear anything.’

‘Madam President, ma’am, madam President,’ the journalists shouted for her attention.

‘Sorry, I can’t take any more questions.’

Scott whispered into her ear. ‘Gabriel would like to speak to you.’

I shook my head. ‘I’m not sure I want to speak to him, but tell him to come.’

He raised his right hand, pointed at one of the soldiers and gestured him to bring Gabriel.

‘One last thing.’

‘What’s that?’ he asked.

‘Make sure nothing comes in or out of this portal without my permission,’ I commanded.

‘Understood.’

Gabriel appeared and stood in front of me.

‘Good Morning,’ he greeted.

‘Yes, Gabriel, how can I help you?’

‘I need to speak to you alone and ….’

‘This is the president you’re talking to, you cannot just tell her what to do,’ Scott interrupted.

‘I’m also a leader in my planet. I know how the rules of hierarchy work. Do not test me.’ They glanced at each without blinking. Then Scott moved toward him and leaned his forehead against Gabriel’s. I maneuvered in-between and managed to separate them.

‘Stop it you two,’ I said. ‘Can’t you see people are watching you making fools of yourselves?’ Gabriel and Scott glanced around and noticed people were watching them.

‘Gabriel, I’m on my way to the office, let’s talk in the car.’

‘I would appreciate that.’

I pointed at one of the bodyguards. ‘We can go now.’

They pushed Gabriel away. ‘No, he’s with me,’ I objected.

‘Thank you,’ he said as we rushed towards the car.

I glanced at him and noticed he looked uncomfortable.

‘Welcome to planet earth. This is how things are done on this side, there’s no privacy.’

He nodded with a smile. ‘I will get used to it.’

The bodyguards opened the passenger door. We stepped inside as the bodyguards pushed the crowd away from the vehicle.

‘It must be challenging being the leader of planet earth?’

‘You have no idea, but you get used to it.’

‘You seem to be enjoying it?’

‘Of course, I have to take the good with the bad. I’m sure you also have challenges in your planet.’

‘Yes, more than you can comprehend.’

‘It can’t be as bad as our situation here.’

‘All I know is we both care about our people. And as leaders we’d do whatever is necessary to protect them from danger and harm.’

‘That is why I wanted to talk to you.’

‘Oh yes, how can I help you?’

‘It’s about the interview last night.’

I tried to interrupt him. ‘Wait, I can explain.’

‘No you wait,’ he insisted.

I shrugged. ‘I’m listening.’

‘I was under the impression it was going to be ‘a get to know each other’ session but it turned out to be an ambush on me and my people.’

‘That’s how it is with these TV shows. They speculate without evidence.’

‘Did you put her up to this?’

‘No way, she tricked you.’

‘How?’

‘Her show is for entertainment only. You should have met with me and I’d have organized something. Not some trashy show who feed off people’s misery.’

He sighed. ‘Are we still welcome on earth?’ he asked.

‘Of course, how can you ask that question?’

‘Apologies, I think I’m overreacting.’

‘Don’t worry about it.’

He nodded. ‘Thanks.’

‘Tell me about the great planet Gadju.’

‘What do you want to know?

‘What is your typical day like?’

‘We hunt, mine, train and fight.’

‘Alright, but you said gold and diamonds are worthless to you. What’s the point of mining?’

‘We only extract metal, steel, to make pots, knives, shields, swords and spears.’

‘Oh, how did you get elected as leader? Tell me about the process?’

He shook his head and smiled. ‘We do not have democracy like you have here and I don’t know what to call it.’

I giggled. ‘Please continue.’

‘A week after a Xapien leader dies. The strongest warriors participate in a fighting tournament.’

‘Wow.’

‘The last man standing will be the winner and take the crown.’

‘What do you eat?’

‘Everything, just like you do.’

‘We are the same after all.’

‘Indeed.’

‘For thousands and thousands of years, we searched for sign of life from outer space without any success.’

‘Really?’

‘It took months and years to arrive at other planets. It was a fruitless exercise, but this portal changes things.’

He pointed through the side of the car window.

‘This is where I stay. Please stop here,’ he requested.

The bodyguard seated next to him interrupted the conversation.

‘Madam President we cannot just stop, it’s not safe out there.’

I shook my head. ‘Did I ask you for your opinion?’

‘No, ma’am. Apologies.’

‘Tell the driver to stop,’ I commanded.

He nodded as he tapped the driver’s shoulder then whispered into his ear. The driver nodded. He picked the car phone attached on the dashboard, then spoke softly. Few seconds later the convoy stopped.

‘Scott filled me in about your new living arrangements. Have they been treating you well?’

‘Yes, very well,’ he replied.

‘I’m glad to hear that.’

He opened the door as he was about to step out. He turned and stared at the bodyguard.

‘If a commoner like you interrupted my conversations in Gadju. You would have been guilty of treason and …’

‘Gabriel, it’s okay. I’ll handle him,’ I interrupted him.

‘Thanks for your hospitality. We like it here, earth is a perfect place for us.’

‘My pleasure, have a great evening.’

He turned, stepped out of the vehicle. He closed the door then waved at us.

I giggled as I watched Gabriel through the back windshield waving at us.

‘What a fellow. He’s a handful isn’t he?’ I said.

The bodyguards burst out laughing. ‘You heard him Fred, you would have been guilty of being too forward,’ the driver joked.

Fred blushed and pretended he was reading something important in the newspaper.

‘This will serve him right, it’s enough now, settle down guys.’

Back at my office, a knock on the door sounded.

‘Come in.’

Jody appeared and strolled towards my desk.

‘Here are the documents you asked for.’ She put the files on the table and slid them to my side.

‘Thanks.’

‘Anything else you need?’

‘Oh yes, I nearly forgot, come have a seat.’

She pulled the chair, sat and pulled out a black pen from her file.

‘What do you need?’ she asked.

‘I need to know where can we sell or exchange our minerals in Canada.’

‘I think I have an idea where to start looking,’ she replied as she scribbled on a notepad.

‘If things go accordingly, the funds would help us rebuild this country to be great again as I remember it.’

‘Noted, anything else?’

‘That would be all for now.’

  

Chapter 59

                  

Charles’s eyes fluttered around the woods at planet Gadju, through the windshield and windows on the sides. He didn’t know where they were going, but the trucks moved through the woods. The drivers enjoyed the fresh and clean sea breeze, as their left arms leaned through the window.

‘STOP, STOP,’ he shouted.

The screeching of brakes sounded like the trucks haven’t been serviced in years. He pointed through the windshield.

‘Do you see that?’ he asked.

‘See what, Sir?’

‘There, look at the rocks,’ he shouted with a smile on his face. The driver stretched his neck and glared at the direction of Charles’s finger.

‘Yes, I see them.’

‘Do you see anything peculiar about them?’

‘No, they look all the same to me.’

Charles sighed as he opened the door and jumped to the ground on small dry sticks. Crackling sounds of the sticks made the birds on the trees fly away high up the sky.

‘Is everything alright, Mr Roberts?’ A voice from behind asked.

He turned and saw 2 soldiers with rifles on their hands.

‘Yeah gentlemen, I’m fine but I think I saw something peculiar. Come with me.’ The soldiers nodded and strolled towards the hill full of rocks, 30 meters away. The bulldozer and truck drivers jumped out of the ground, glancing and shrugging at each other. As they walked closer to the rocks, they gleamed for a few seconds.

He turned and pointed to the truck driver standing in front of the truck.

‘I told you these are not rocks, this is gold,’ he shouted then turned and ran towards the hill. The soldiers ran after him.

‘Mr Roberts wait, they could be dangerous.’ Their warning fell on deaf ears. He picked up one of the 10 pound gold rocks scattered around the hill. The soldiers picked the diamonds and other gems, glanced at them and nodded at each other.

Charles pointed at the drivers and waved at them.

‘Bring the trucks and load them up now.’ The drivers rushed back to the trucks with enthusiasm and drove towards the hill. 

 

Chapter 60

 

The more the Xapiens and earthlings interacted, the more they bonded. The earthlings invited their lookalikes for lunch, dinner and sleep overs and shared their backgrounds, hopes and dreams. Throughout the interactions, Gabriel and the Xapiens learned humans’ hopes and dreams revolved around material possessions. They couldn’t comprehend that kind of belief because they believed, there is more to life than that.

They also realized they didn’t have to do much of the talking. Humans were not good listeners as they went on and on about their issues, Xapiens considered frivolous and stupid. The Xapiens maintained eye contact as their look-alikes talked. Their eyelids never blinked as they glared and listened to their look-alikes as if their lives depended on it. It was the same with the Xapien kids, they were not as playful as their look-alikes. They looked like they were on a mission. Human kids don’t seem to know one another or cared about the Xapiens kids, but they interacted regardless, in that clumsy way typical kids would on the playground, sometimes being nice, impolite or even rough. The human kids screamed with excitement as they pulled them to the playground to ride on the seesaws and forced them to glide the sliding boards. The Xapiens kids looked at each other and shook their heads.

Later that evening, Gabriel, Pamela and their 2 children, Sarah and Emmanuel were seated on the lounge eating salad with their hands.

‘Kids, how was your day?’ he asked.

‘It was okay, but the humans cannot play our games,’ Sarah replied.

‘Yes, they forced us to play their stupid games,’ Emmanuel added.

Gabriel and Pamela burst out laughing. ‘You will be okay,’ Gabriel said then tapped him on the shoulder.

‘Are you enjoying your new home on earth?’ Pamela asked.

Emmanuel nodded then Pamela turned and looked at Sarah for a response.

‘What about you, sweetheart?’

‘It is very nice and better than at Gadju,’ she replied.

‘I am tired of running away,’ Emmanuel added. ‘We are safe here, right Father and mother?’ Gabriel nodded, sighed and looked at Pamela.

‘Yes, my children, I hope so too,’ he replied.

An hour later after Emmanuel and Sarah went to sleep. Gabriel and Pamela were on the lounge seated on the couch.

‘Do you think humans will ever chase us out of here?’ Pamela asked with a concerned look on her face.

‘Not a chance.’

‘Why are you so sure?’

‘We offered them something they always needed. It was a fair trade’

She shrugged. ‘If you say so.’

‘As long as Yolanda Roberts is their leader. We are not going anywhere?’

‘I trust you,’ she said.

‘It is strange how they refused to let us in, until we showed them our minerals.’

‘As you said, it was a fair trade and we had no use of it.’

‘I am tired, let us go and lie down.’

‘That is a good idea my king.’

They stood up and strolled towards the bedroom.

‘I think we should reveal our gifts to the people of Appian,’ Gabriel said.

‘Do you think that is a wise thing to do?’ she asked.

‘It is necessary, I want them to depend on us.’

‘How?’

‘Even if the minerals run out in Gadju. They will depend on our gifts.’

‘Good idea,’ she said as she closed the bedroom door.

 

Chapter 61

            

The alarm clock blasted and interrupted my beautiful dream. My eyelids fluttered open. I sat up as I rubbed my eyes. Then I clicked on the snooze button and smiled.

‘What a dream,’ I murmured. I turned, looked at Charles side and shook my head.

‘Charles, where are you? It’s been 2 days since you left,’ I muttered.

2 hours later at my office, my eyes glanced at the dilapidated buildings through the windows. Black smoke covered the sky and some days, I couldn’t tell whether it is day or night. I smiled as I envisioned how beautiful the city and the country will look like. By the time my presidency terms ends.

‘Let me stop there,’ I sighed. ‘I should not count my chickens before they hatch.’ There was a knock on the door.

‘Come in,’ I said. Jody rushed inside, picked the remote and clicked the red power button.

‘Ma’am, you have to see this,’ she insisted.

‘What is it, Jody?’ Jody pointed at the screen and I looked at it.

‘Breaking News’ flashed on the bottom of the screen. The words LIVE FEED pulsated in white at the bottom left of the screen. Then a TV newsman holding a microphone appeared.

‘It has come to our attention that our guests from space have not only brought us wealth to our planet, they also possess extraordinary gifts. Yes, the Xapiens have psychic and healing powers. We are going live to one of our correspondents on the ground around Appian.’

The TV screen flashed and a correspondent appeared.

‘All hospitals and clinics are empty. I repeat, all hospitals and clinics are empty, because all the patients’ illnesses and diseases have been cured.’ the correspondent announced.

‘What is going on here?’ I asked.

Jody shrugged. ‘I am not sure, ma’am.’

‘What is Gabriel up to?’ I murmured as I shook my head.

Testimonials from cured patients poured in. Many of them claimed their wounds and excruciating pains disappeared after the Xapiens touched them. Patients with terminal illnesses, paralyzed limbs and broken spinal cords claimed they were cured and their limbs are functioning well. News spread around the Appian as the slum dwellers came into the Xapiens living quarters in droves to be healed.

I picked the remote and switched it off. I threw the remote to the couch, picked up the phone and dialed it.

‘Yes,’ a deep male voice answered on the other end.

‘Scott, are you watching this?’ I asked.

‘Yes, I am,’ he replied.

‘Has Gabriel gone too far with this?’

‘Nah, I don’t think so,’

I scratched my head and sighed.

‘Have you found anything suspicious about them?’

‘Besides the fact, they look identical to us. There is nothing to report on.’

‘Damn it,’ I murmured.

‘I thought you liked those sons of bitches?’

‘Watch your mouth, don’t forget who you talking to,’ I warned and slammed the phone.

‘Madam President, if I may ask. You seem like you don’t trust the Xapiens?’

I shrugged and leaned on the chair.

‘Maybe, I’m just being cautious, that’s all.’

‘Of what?’ she asked.

‘What’s with the 21 questions?’

‘Sorry ma’am, it’s just..’

‘What?’ I interrupted.

‘There is a Xapiens guy I like.’

Jody’s confession roused my curiosity.

‘Come, come have a seat.’ I pointed at the bodyguards. ‘Please give us a moment.’ Jody pulled the chair and sat as the bodyguards exited.

‘Are you telling me, you’re seeing a Xapien?’ I asked.

She nodded. ‘Yes, I am.’

‘Tell me more and don’t leave anything out.’ I asked in a girl-ish way, like I was in high school with my friends, gossiping about boys.

She gave me a strange stare. I think she saw another side to her employer, a warm and compassionate… let me stop there.

She took a deep breath and smiled. ‘I am seeing this Xapien guy. He looks identical to my ex-boyfriend.’

‘Wow, how long have you been seeing him?’

‘2 weeks and I think I am falling in love with him.’

‘That’s so sweet. How’s he like? And is he treating you well?’

‘He is sweet, gentle and a complete opposite to my ex.’

I slurped my saliva and swallowed. ‘Have you done it yet?’ I asked in a mischievous tone.

She blushed, her eyes rolled then nodded.

‘How was it… with you know…? An alien?’ We burst out laughing.

She shook her head. ‘I never kiss and tell.’

‘Come on,’ I begged. ‘You can’t leave me hanging, just like that.’

She shrugged. ‘Honestly, ma’am…’

I interrupted ‘Call me Yolanda, from now on, alright?’

She nodded. ‘I feel, he is too good to be true.’

‘Really? I think I should also get myself a Xapien guy,’ I joked.

‘It’s like he gets me, and satisfies all my needs consistently.’

‘Isn’t that a good thing?’

She shrugged. ‘Maybe, but typically, men are not that consistent. As soon as things get comfortable in a relationship. They always fall back to their selfish ways.’

‘You are too fussy. I think he’s perfect.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah, if he is treating you like the way you say he is. I think I should be more trusting and see them for what they truly are.’

She sighed. ‘There is something I need to share.’

‘What is it?’

‘Every time he sleeps over at my house…’ she paused then sighed.

‘Go on.’

‘His strange and peculiar behavior terrifies me.’

‘Strange and peculiar, how?’

‘He sleep walks.’

I rolled my eyes. ‘Sleepwalking is not uncommon, Jody.’

‘He wakes up at exactly 01:35 A.M. wears his clothes, leaves the house and comes back a few days later without an explanation.’

‘Did you try to stop him?’

‘I tried. He kept on walking out of the house like a zombie, his eyes opened wide and never blinked.’

‘Did you confront him about this?’

‘Numerous times, his response is so casual and claims he doesn’t remember.’

I shook my head. ‘That is Strange.’

‘Every time he sleepwalks out of my house. I no longer bother to stop or wake him up.’

‘What do you do then?’

‘Nothing, I just follow, watch him unlock the door and disappear into the darkness. Then I lock my door.’

‘Maybe Xapiens are sleepwalkers or they don’t like sleeping that much.’

‘I don’t know. All I know is I love him.’

‘I’m happy for you, but it’s only been 2 weeks you’ve been together. Just take it one step at a time.’

She nodded and looked at the wristwatch. ‘Look at the time, can we do this at another time. I have some staff to do.’

‘Sure, do what you have to do and don’t forget the list I asked for.’

‘I’m on it, you will get it first thing tomorrow morning,’ she assured me. She stood up then gently pushed the chair back and walked out of the office.

As the bodyguards strolled inside, my heart stirred with excitement. When Jody and I conversed about her boyfriend. I felt like a young girl again. I tried to squeeze out some child hood memory that should remind me whether I had moments like these at junior high or high school or varsity. I shook my head. Nah, never. I never had a friend nor a confidant to talk or relate to, until I spoke to Jody. I realized, I’ve missed out on a lot of things as a teenager. The gossiping, having fun with the girls, and dating. Maybe I was too uptight and aloof.’

The phone ring interrupted my thoughts. I snapped out of it and picked up the phone.

‘What is it?’

‘The portal is vibrating and making those pinging sounds again,’ Scott said.

‘Finally, they’re back,’ I exclaimed. ‘The suspense nearly killed me.’

‘Should I let them in?’

‘Hell no, I’m coming now, wait for me.’ I dropped the phone, stood up rushed towards the door.

‘Let’s go, destiny awaits.’

Few minutes later, we arrived at the mine and noticed Scott standing next to the portal through the window. As I strolled towards the portal, I also noticed there were no officials or journalists present this time.

I nodded. ‘Very impressive,’ I murmured.

‘How long has the portal pinged?’ I asked as we climbed the stairway.

‘For about an hour?’ he replied.

I nodded. ‘Let’s do this.’ I clicked the green button without hesitating and moved to the side with Scott. The pinging sound stopped, ocean waves sounded as the portal opened.

‘It’s them,’ one of the voices shouted. The soldiers waved at us on the other side. I whispered to the bodyguard next to me.

‘Can you see what the trucks are carrying from here?’

The bodyguard stretched his neck, glanced through the other side. He turned, looked at me and shook his head. The trucks and bulldozers entered the portal and crossed over to earth. Loud cheers and clapping sounded from the soldiers as everyone noticed every truck was gleaming at the back.

‘Can you see now?’

The bodyguard nodded. ‘Yes.’

‘Scott, stop the trucks,’ I commanded.

‘Can’t we wait until all the trucks crossed over?’

‘NO,’ I barked. ‘Do it now.’

He shook his head.

What are you waiting for, now?’

His lips made whistling sounds. ‘Stop the trucks, soldier,’ he commanded. Two soldiers stood in front of the truck and gestured it to stop. The screeching sounds of the brake system increased as the trucks stopped. 5 trucks already crossed over so far and I couldn’t wait any longer.

‘Bring me the ladder, I want to see the minerals,’ I demanded.

A moment later, 2 soldiers placed the ladder against the rear of the tipper truck.

‘Hold the ladder, I’m climbing now.’ I took 3 steps, then the ladder shifted about 3 inches to my right. My heart pounded faster.

‘If I fall from this ladder, you are all fired, hold it tight,’ I barked. I climbed slowly and eventually reached the top and jumped inside the tipper.

‘WOW, IMPOSSIBLE,’ I whispered like I just found the El Eldorado and didn’t want any other treasure hunters to hear me or claim it, except me.

The sight of humongous gold, diamonds, crystals and emeralds overwhelmed my heart as it thumped erratically and my breathing pace increased. I picked up a shiny diamond rock about the size of my fist with both hands. It was love at first sight, like I gave birth to it. I wanted to protect it at all cost like I was Frodo. It captured me like it did to Gollum.

For a moment, everything went out of the window as my attempts to put the diamond rock into my small pockets failed. I snapped out of it quickly when I heard a voice from the ground.

‘Madam President, are you alright?’

The rock slipped and fell. I took a deep breath and composed myself.

‘Yes, I am, I’m coming down in a second,’ I replied. Then I clenched my fists and punched the air. I climbed down the ladder slower than I climbed it.

‘Don’t you dare, let me fall.’ I noticed Scott shaking his head and whispered to his general, they burst out laughing. As both my feet touched the ground. I gave instructions to the driver.

‘Go straight to the government building and park the trucks at the underground parking lot.’ The driver nodded ‘Yes, ma’am,’ he replied.

As more trucks move passed me, I glanced at them intently.

‘Where is that husband of mine?’ I murmured as I glanced at other trucks behind. I saw a hand waving out of the window. My heart skipped in excitement. I nearly chanted his name but composed myself. After the last truck drove through the portal, Scott pressed the red button then it closed. The last truck stopped, Charles stepped out. I ran towards him, jumped and fell on his arms.

‘Where have you been?’ I asked.

‘We thought the loading of the minerals was going to be easy, but it took longer than we thought,’ he replied.

‘The past 2 days felt like a year without you.’

‘Don’t worry, I’m here now.’

I didn’t realize all eyes were fixated on us.

‘I think it’s time to go home now.’

‘Alright.’

I overheard Scott’s voice say ‘I don’t think a president should behave like this in public.’

Then the fool next to him replied ‘I agree with you sir, John Williams would have never behaved inappropriately in public.’ I couldn’t care less.

The presidential convoy was right behind the tipper trucks as we drove towards the city.

I looked at him in a way I never have before and smiled.

‘How is it at planet Gadju?’

‘Heavenly, it was like a paradise, the woods was like one big botanical garden. The exotic fruits were so exquisite, the scenery was breathtakingly incomprehensible and unreal.’

‘You seem to have enjoyed yourself without me.’

‘I did, the sun shone so bright. I wished it was here in Appian and did I mention the beautiful sunsets?’

‘I’m jealous already.’

‘I know.’ He tapped my thigh gently.

‘Was it hard to find the gems and minerals?’

‘Not at all,’ he replied. They were literally scattered everywhere around the hills inside the forest.’

‘That’s good to hear, do you think there is more left?’

‘Yes, I think we should send more trucks and bulldozers to planet Gadju every week.’

I nodded as I pulled out a pen from my pocket and scribbled on a notepad.

‘They kept their end of the bargain,’ I said.

‘Who?’

‘The Xapiens, who else?’

‘Oh yeah, they sure did.’

‘I was wrong about them,’ I admitted.

He nodded. ‘They’re just bored tourists interested in learning about other worlds.’

‘I know that and I hate to be wrong.’

‘As I hiked the beautiful mountains and hills of planet Gadju during the evenings. I could not help feeling a twinge of panic.’

‘Why? Did you see something or creatures back there?’

‘No,’ he sighed. How can I put this? It was like something did not add up.’

‘I’m not following you.’

‘Honey, that planet is beyond amazing, anyone in Appian would kill to live there.’

‘What’s your point?’

‘Don’t you think we have overlooked something about the Xapiens?’

‘Trust me I have explored this issue on all different angles and they checked out.’

‘What if the answer is staring right at our faces and we can’t see it? We still don’t know their true intentions?’

I sighed as I stared at him. Is he slow or something. Why is he asking these questions, 4 months later?’ I wondered.

‘Let’s go back to your story when you were hiking on the mountains.’

‘Don’t you think the gold, diamond rocks and all these other gems came way too easy?’

‘I think it was a fair trade and you said it yourself, it’s a win-win.’

‘What if the commodities they offered us was a strategy, a bait, a dangle of a carrot?’

‘Charles, I have never seen you like this. Are you alright?’

‘I’ve never been better. If their beautiful paradise, planet Gadju was so perfect. Why did they leave it and settled in comfortably in a fucked-up, post-apocalyptic planet called earth?’

I nodded and pretended to agree with him.

‘You may be right, I’ll talk to Scott to look into it.’

‘Good idea but I could be wrong.’

I shrugged. ‘Or you could be right.’

‘Just find out whether they are running away from something or they are here to get something?’

I nodded. ‘Enough with the conspiracies. Have you eaten?’

‘Yeah, I had something on my way here.’

‘We will have something at the office, Jody prepared something for us.’

‘Great, what about the storage facilities for the commodities?’

‘I will tell you all about it at the office.’

  

Chapter 62

                  

2 years later, money poured and circulated in Appian. Economic transformation was evident as the construction of all the buildings, railway roads, highways, housing, power plants, and sewage systems infrastructure was underway.

100% of the Appian population (Skilled and unskilled) were employed on a full-time basis. The unskilled slum dwellers were allocated their own subsidized housing and employed by the Waste Management sector as cleaners of roads and sewage systems. Agricultural lands were in the process of rehabilitation. A million tons of fertilizers was scattered on the fields around Appian. The Xapiens accepted an offer to work at clinics and hospitals. In return, they were paid a monthly stipend. Trucks and bulldozers to planet Gadju increased to 200 and 50 respectively. Diamonds, gold, emeralds, crystals and other precious minerals reserves were estimated to be around AP$20 billion.

  

Chapter 63

 

Jody’s eyelids fluttered open into almost complete darkness when the alarm clock blasted at 01:30 A.M. She pressed the snooze button, turned and looked at Jimmy’s side. She realized he was snoring.

She took a deep breath as she lay on her back and waited. Her thoughts drifted to her unconfirmed friendship with Yolanda. She remembered how she nearly resigned and hanged on to her job, hoping Yolanda would win the elections. Her perseverance payed off as she also kept her in the cabinet. Even though her boss was a demanding freak, she enjoyed working under her. Her favorite highlight was when she asked about her boyfriend Jimmy. Her thoughts were interrupted by Jimmy throwing covers over her face and jumped out of bed. She pretended she was asleep as she opened her eyelids a little bit and looked at the clock, time was 01:34 A.M. He switched on the light. He put on the maroon sweater, pants and shoes. Then he stared at the mirror attached on the bedroom wall. She lifted the covers enough for my eyes to see him. She saw his back, then she lifted the covers again enough to see his reflection in the mirror. The man she saw on the mirror sent a chill down her spine. She couldn’t recognize him. His eyes were so cold, the creases on his forehead appeared. He instantly turned and gazed at her. He walked towards her side. ‘Oh my god, I think he saw me,’ she thought as she covered herself. Her heart beat icily and snored louder.

‘He knows I’m awake, god what am I going to do,’ she thought. As Jimmy glared at her, a strange shrill sounded from downstairs. He turned and walked towards the window. He slid the curtains to the left, opened the window and gazed down at something. Then nodded twice in a slow motion, like he understood the message sent to him. He turned and exited the bedroom.

She breathed a sigh of relief. She jumped out of bed and walked slowly towards the window while her eyes stared at the bedroom door. Her heart skipped and body froze when the door slammed downstairs.

‘What the hell is going on?’ she whispered. She slowly peered down through the window. A crowd of people walking down the road in silence. She saw Jimmy strolling and disappearing into the crowd wearing familiar outfits.

‘These are the Xapiens,’ she exclaimed. ‘What are they doing at this time of the night? And why are they walking like that?’ As the Xapiens strolled like soldiers in a march or a parade, their heads tilted back as they looked up at the sky at the direction of the moon.

‘I have to get to the bottom of this.’ She slid her feet on white sleepers on the side of bed and rushed out of the bedroom with only a white night dress on. She opened the main door of the apartment, stretched her head out and looked to the right then to the left. She saw the Xapiens disappearing to the left corner, one block away. She sighed as she stepped out then closed the door. She rushed down the road towards them. When she was few meters behind them, she hid behind garbage cans.

She accidental leaned on the can. The lid fell down the road making loud noise as it rolled towards the Xapiens like a wheel.

‘Shit!’ she murmured as her heart sunk. The Xapiens stopped, turned around abruptly and looked back at the same time like robots. Their eyes scanned everywhere, but saw no one in sight. She hoped her body lay low enough not to be seen. A moment later, footsteps sounded as they walked away. She breathed a sigh of relief. ‘That was close,’ she whispered. As she glanced up, Jimmy appeared out of nowhere and gave her a terrifying stare.

‘JIMMY, NOOOOOOO,’ she screamed.

The Xapiens stopped again, turned and looked at Jimmy. Gabriel pointed his right index finger at the lady amongst the crowd. The lady looked identical to Jody. He gestured to her to come to him. As she strolled towards him, they made a way for her and stood next to him. Eyes shifted back to Jimmy as he handed her the white sleepers and the white night dress. Jimmy and Gabriel nodded at her in a way she understood.

They walked back into their places, tilted back their heads and stared at the moon in the sky and walked towards it.

 

 Chapter 64

                  

The next morning, Roger and I went through the numbers of the budget.

‘Wow, this is impressive.’

‘What?’

‘We have enough funds to cover everything on the budget.’

‘That’s good.’

‘I have to admit, I doubted you when we ran out of funds and allowed the Xapiens in here.’

‘In life you have to take risks, you win some and you lose some.’

‘I’ll remember that.’

‘Let’s get back to the budget.’

He nodded. ‘Of course.’

‘How many food factories do we have?’

‘5.’

‘We need to build more, and we also need to build another power plant.’

‘I don’t think building another power plant would be feasible.’

I pointed through the window. ‘Roger look at the city, look at the smoke coming out of every building.’

He nodded. ‘I see it ma’am but,’

‘We need to generate enough electricity for everyone.’

‘Where are we going get the manpower and engineers to build it?’

‘We will import them from Canada.’

‘I don’t know, but we will see.’

I shook my head. ‘Where is Jody?’ I asked.

He shrugged. ‘I have no idea.’

I picked up the phone, dialed it and a voice answered it on the other end.

‘Jody, you are supposed to be present in this meeting, taking minutes, what’s wrong with you?’ I slammed the phone. ‘I don’t believe this, where were we?’

A knock sounded on the door and Jody walked inside.

‘I am sorry ma’am, I overslept. It won’t happen again.’

‘Your voice sounds different. Someone had a hell of a night. Why didn’t I get an invite?’ I teased her. As she walked towards us, the high-heel shoes made it difficult for her to walk. She tried to balance herself.

‘I’ve seen you wearing stilettos before and you looked comfortable in them. What’s wrong today? Are you still drunk?’

‘No, ma’am, they are new.’

‘Take them off and wear the ones you’re comfortable in.’

She took them off and slid them under the chair with the back of her heel.

‘As I was saying, I don’t want to see a single building generating its electricity through coal, I also want to see trees on every block, a lot of trees’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘I want smart towns and cities that would eventually make Appian a smart country.’

I noticed Jody staring at me, looking clueless like an intern on her first day.

‘Where is your pen and notepad? Jody why aren’t you taking down the minutes?’

‘Jody, what’s wrong?’ Roger asked.

‘Yeah, this is unlike you, what is going on?’

She stuttered as her lips moved but words never came out of her mouth.

‘Go home and come back tomorrow.’

She nodded. Then she picked her shoes under the chair and stood up. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. She turned and walked towards the door and exited.

‘Do you think she’s drunk or high on drugs?’ I asked.

‘I don’t think so, her pupils looked normal to me. She didn’t smell of alcohol.’

‘She looked like a mess. Anyway back to work.’

He interrupted. ‘Madam President, don’t forget we have a cabinet meeting in 10 minutes.’

‘Damn it. I completely forgot about that. Jody was supposed to remind me.’

‘Well, let’s go.’

As we were about to enter the auditorium, I saw Charles running towards us with a briefcase in his right hand.

‘We’re all late today,’ I joked. He shrugged as we strolled inside.

As we stepped inside, I felt her cold shiver, I sensed a peculiar feeling.

‘Something is wrong,’ I murmured. My eyes glanced around the auditorium and sensed tension. Perplexed to this feeling, the morale and mood of the officials seemed off. How is that possible? Appian’s economy is flourishing to dizzy heights? I shrugged it off and sat.

‘Maybe I’m imagining things,’ I thought. I pulled out a file from the briefcase, stood up then strolled towards the podium and put the file on the podium.

‘Good Morning ladies and gentlemen, this is a summary of the progress we have made in the past 2 years since our success in planet Gadju.’

Scott stood up and interrupted my speech.

‘I would like to put up a vote for the impeachment of President Yolanda Roberts.’

‘Scott, what are you doing?’ I barked. ‘What are you on about?’

‘I said, I would like to put up a vote for your impeachment?’

I shook my head. ‘On what grounds?’

‘Conspiracy to assist the Xapiens to invade Appian.’

‘This is ludicrous.’

‘Can we put the vote in motion, madam President?’ he asked.

‘No, could you please let me continue.’

‘Madam President or should I call you Yolanda? This is a pressing matter, I would not have raised it if it was not important.’

I shook my head. ‘I will humor you. Appian is a democratic country after all.’

‘Thank you.’

‘But first, I will put up a vote to decide whether to continue or dismiss this impeachment vote,’ I argued.

‘Fair enough, let’s do it,’ Scott accepted.

‘All those who think the impeachment vote should be dismissed, raise your hands,’ I asked.’ Few hands were raised. I counted the vote then scribbled the number on piece of paper.

‘All those who think the impeachment vote should be put in motion, raise your hands.’ I shook my head as I counted. Then scribbled down the number on a piece of paper.

I sighed. ‘95% voted in favor of the impeachment vote to be put in motion and 5% voted against it.

Scott strolled towards the podium then stood next to me with his usual smug on his face. I thought of ways to stall or disrupt the proceedings. Nothing came to mind. Dumbstruck by this bombshell, my body trembled and froze in the big stage. I felt powerless.

‘Members of parliament, I hereby put a motion to impeach President Yolanda Roberts. We all know she and her husband came out of nowhere and claimed they are from planet earth. Then few months later, she is elected as the President of Appian. I observed her as she struggled to raise funds for the government and out of nowhere. We stumbled upon a man-made portal that allowed the Xapiens to cross over this side. They offered us a windfall and in return they wished to visit Appian as tourists. They never mentioned when they would leave or go back home. They look comfortable in here and apparently they also have super powers. They have blinded us with the windfall. I have it on authority, the Xapiens are planning an invasion in Appian. They have already set a colony right under our noses and I think they have secretly captured Appian.’

He pointed at me ‘This is the woman that brought them here. Let’s vote,’ he commanded.

As Scott was talking. My mind flashed back and realized Charles was right about how I overlooked certain things about the Xapiens and I knew this day would come. I could have won against the impeachment vote if they accused me of being an alien, but the ‘Conspiracy to assist Xapiens’ accusation is hard to defend. ‘They could be right, maybe I have put Appian in great danger because of my selfish ambitions,’ I thought.

‘All those in favor of the impeachment of President Yolanda Roberts, raise your hands,’ he commanded. Almost all the hands were lifted in the air. My eyes glanced at all my colleagues whom I thought had my back, voting against me. I shook my head and looked down to the floor. The writing was on the wall.

‘All those against the impeachment of the president, raise your hands.’

Only Charles and Roger raised their hands. Officials burst out laughing.

‘Settle down, Mrs Yolanda Roberts is officially impeached as the president of Appian by 98% vote against 2%.’

I had an almost overwhelming temptation to shout a string of filthy words at the top of my voice. I found myself in the grip of anger almost too great to contain. I could feel the blaze flickering. My eyes turned red and teary as I ran towards the exit.

‘Take me home, take me home,’ I shouted to the bodyguards, they nodded.

I heard footsteps approaching behind me.

‘Madam President, is it all true?’ It was the media chasing me. The bodyguards picked up their pace as we managed to step inside the car before the press could catch up with us with their questions. As my car moved out of the government building, news crews surrounded and blocked the way. Cameras flashed repetitively, questions after questions followed as some banged their fists against the bullet-proof windows. The soldiers on sight pushed them away and cleared a way for the car. My thoughts ran wild as I felt my life crumbling into pieces. I plunged as low as I could ever in my life.

I experienced a profound moment of déjàvu. Every time I was overwhelmed by my problems and challenges. I felt like running to a place where no one could find me.

 

 Chapter 65

I heard Charles stepping inside the house. I heard his voice. He spoke with the kitchen staff downstairs.

Footsteps creaked on the stairs as he moved closer to the bedroom. I heard a knock on the door.

‘Who’s that?’ I asked.

‘It’s me honey, can I come in?’

‘What do you want?’

‘I just wanted to check if you’re alright.’

‘Go away,’ I cried.

‘Are you alright?’ he asked. Then sat on the edge of the bed.’

I lay in a fetal position facing the window.

‘After all I’ve done for this country. This is the thanks I get,’ I whimpered.

He stroked my shoulder repetitively. ‘I can’t imagine the grief you’re feeling, but just know I’m here for you,’ he said.

I nodded. ‘I never saw it coming. Scott ambushed me, was that even legal?’

‘I’ll admit, the vote also caught me by surprise.’

I shook my head. ‘I will not appeal or fight it, maybe this is a sign.’

‘A sign for what?’

‘A sign for me to move on with my life,’ I replied.

‘Then I will resign too,’ he said in an angry tone.

‘Are you nuts? If you resign, they’d kick us out of this house.’

‘Oh, I didn’t think about that.’

‘Besides, you enjoy working on this ‘Space Mining’ project.’

He nodded. ‘You are right, but I have more bad news.’

‘What is it?’

‘Scott Adams will act as a caretaker until a new president is elected.’

‘Typical, I hope he burns in hell. I should have fired him when I had the chance.’

‘He has already moved in your office.’

‘That…son of a gun,’ I exclaimed. ‘My leather chair hasn’t even gone cold yet.’

‘Forget about him and his conniving ways, look at the bright side.’

‘Of what?’

‘The economy and infrastructure of Appian was built under your administration. That is your legacy and no one can take that away from you.’

‘True, from now on I will focus on positive things in my life, like you.’

‘He smiled. ‘Come here.’ Our lips locked then continued our chats.

‘Where is the remote,’ he asked as he stood up and glanced around the bedroom.

‘Come here and cheer me, big boy,’ I said in a sexy voice.

‘Oh yes, here it is by the bedside lamp.’

‘You are such a tease. Why do you need the remote for?’

He shrugged. Then pointed it towards the TV screen attached on the wall and the screen switched on.

‘8 p.m. news,’ he replied and sat on the edge of the bed.

I sighed and rolled my eyes. ‘Here we go again.’

A newsman appeared and a breaking news alert flashed on the bottom of the screen.

‘Good evening, this is Walter Jenkins, President Yolanda Roberts has been impeached for gross violation of the constitution and breaching national security. According to the Caretaker President Scott Adams, Mrs Yolanda Adams has confessed to assisting the Xapiens in a conspiracy to invade Appian.’

‘He is our guest tonight, Mr Adams, welcome to the 8 p.m. news.’

‘Thanks Walter, for having me here.’

‘Why did you let our beloved president go?’

‘I had no powers to do that. Members of parliament voted her out.’

‘You mentioned earlier that she has confessed to work with the ‘enemy?’

‘Yes, she did.’

‘Those are serious allegations. We spoke to most of the cabinet members and they said she never confessed anything to you?’

‘Who are those officials?’

‘I am afraid I cannot mention their names.’

‘They must be her disgruntled supporters.’

‘What will happen to the Xapiens now?’

‘Simple, they will be deported back to their planet.’

Walter shook his head as he flipped a page of a document on the table.

‘Are you aware the Xapiens literally saved Appian from extinction?’

‘I don’t care about that. I also love my country in my own way. I will defend it to the end.’

‘I have it on good authority that you have elected yourself as the president.’

‘No, no, I am the caretaker until the next presidential elections.’

‘Are you aware that if we deport the Xapiens back to their planet. They will no longer allow us to extract their commodities?’

‘Yes, I am aware.’

‘I think we need them more than they need us.’

‘Who? The Xapiens?

‘Yes, I just hope there will be no devastating consequences to your actions.’

He shook his head. ‘I don’t think so.’

‘Mr Adams, thanks for your time, any last words?’

He pointed his left index finger to the camera. ‘Gabriel & Xapiens, as the President of Appian. I hereby demand you to leave Appian with immediate effect. You are no longer welcome in our planet,’ he declared.

My lower jaw dropped as I turned and looked at Charles. ‘What is Scott up to?’

‘I don’t know, whatever it is, I don’t think I want to know.’

‘Do you think they will react?’

‘Who?’

‘Gabriel and the Xapiens.’

‘I think they will. How? I really don’t know.’

‘I kind of feel sorry for them.’

‘Same here, maybe it’s for the best.’

I shook my head. ‘Only time will tell.’

‘Enough with politics, have you thought about what will do with your life in the future?’

‘My mind is spinning, I can’t think straight right now.’

‘I understand, lie down and rest, you deserve it.’

‘Aren’t you joining me?’

‘Oh, I thought you needed space tonight.’

I shook my head. ‘Out of all this madness going on. You are the only person keeping me sane.’

‘That’s sweet of you to say, thank you.’ He slid under the covers, his warm body leaned against mine. Then we cuddled. His attempt to rub his cold feet against mine failed.

‘Your feet are cold,’ I exclaimed. He blushed, shrugged then whispered his famous sexy one liners into my ear.

I burst out laughing. ‘You’re crazy and that’s why I love you.’

‘I love you too.’

‘In times like these, I wish we had islands in Appian to escape to.’

‘Planet Gadju also had beautiful small islands around it, but it was creepy.’

‘Maybe we should go there some day once everything checks out about that mystery planet.’

He nodded. ‘I can’t wait.’

 

 Chapter 67

 

The alarm clock sounded louder on my ears than before. I slid out of my sleep in an instant. I clicked on the snooze button then rubbed my eyes.

‘I hate this alarm,’ I confessed to myself. ‘I feel like smashing it against the wall.’ I yawned then stretched my arms wide in the air.

When I woke up on that dull, grey day. There was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to warn me or suggest. Strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over Appian.

I turned and looked on his side of the bed.

‘Strange, he never wakes up early.’ My eyes darted at the closed bathroom door and assumed he is in there.

‘I want to use the bathroom, are you there? Maybe he’s dropping a hard big one.’ I chuckled.

‘Drink water every day. Constipation ain’t no joke. I jumped out of bed and shuffled my feet towards the bathroom. I opened the door and glanced around. His towels were dry. The toothpaste was not squeezed from the top or the middle. The toilet seat was left down and the bathtub was clean. He wasn’t there.

I shook my head. ‘That’s unlike him, maybe he’s in the dining room,’ I said as I strolled back to the bedroom. I picked up the phone next to the bedside lamp and pressed a single digit. The phone usually rang once or twice, but this time it rang until someone picked it few seconds later.

‘Gloria, is Charles down there?’ I asked. ‘Why aren’t you answering me, is he there or not?’

I heard someone breathing heavily on the other end. Huffing and puffing repetitively.

I looked at it then tapped it thrice on the speaker with my index finger.

‘Can you hear me now?’

The heavy breathing continued on the other end. Then it hanged up.

‘Did she just hang up on me?’ I slammed the phone and rushed out of the bedroom. I raced down the stairway without minding my steps and I nearly tripped. My eyes scanned the kitchen, lounge and the dining room and no one was present.

‘Who picked up the kitchen phone then?’ I murmured. On a typical day, round about that time. 6 kitchen staff should have been busy preparing breakfast. Cutlery, plates, cups, orange juice glasses and fresh flowers should have been decked on the table. The bodyguards should have been present, inspecting the food. The front door made a screeching sound as it opened. I turned around abruptly. Then I paced towards it to give the staff a piece of my mind. A man dressed as a bodyguard and a lady dressed in a kitchen staff uniform walked inside. I’ve never seen them before.

‘Good Morning Madam,’ they greeted me at the same time.

‘Who the hell are you?’ I asked in a rude tone.

‘We have been assigned to work here by President Scott Adams,’ he replied.

‘Where’s my staff and bodyguards? I want them back,’ I demanded.

They stared down to the floor in an obedient manner.

‘Madam, President, Scott Adams is using your staff at his house,’ she said.

I took a long deep sighing breath. It finally registered in my head. I’m no longer the president. I can no longer receive the benefits I was accustomed to.

‘Oh, I see,’ I murmured.

‘To us, you will always be our president,’ he revealed.

‘You have done a lot for Appian in a short space of time. Only a fool wouldn’t see that,’ she said.

I nodded. ‘Thank you. Have you seen my husband on your way in?’

They shook their heads.

‘He must be at the office, I’m going upstairs..’

The maid interrupted. ‘Would you like anything for breakfast?’

As much as I was starving. I didn’t have the energy to teach her how I liked my coffee, omelet and my favorite meals.

‘A cup of tea would be fine for now,’ I replied.

She nodded. Then rushed to the kitchen.

‘Is there anything you need from me,’ he asked.

I shook my head. ‘Nope, just guard the house.’

He nodded then strolled as his eyes glanced around the house.

As I shuffled towards the study, the impeachment vote flashed back on my mind.

‘Damn you, Scott, I’ll get you too.’

I picked the phone, dialed it. ‘Hello,’ a voice answered on the other end.

‘Roger, is Charles at his office?’

‘I’m not sure, but he was not present at the breakfast meeting with the cabinet officials.’

‘Maybe he’s at his office busy with Space Mining projects.’

‘No, he is not. I wanted to run and confirm some numbers with him. There was no one there.’

‘That’s strange, he cannot disappear just like that.’

‘Maybe he’s around the city doing some errands.’

‘I hope you’re right.’

‘If he doesn’t come back by midnight. I would also worry.’

A knock came from the door. ‘Cheers, Roger,’ I said and dropped the phone.

The housekeeper came inside carrying a silver tray with white ceramic cup, teapot, teabags and sugar container.

‘Come in.’

The tray trembled as the teapot and cup hit against each other.

‘Relax, put it here.’ I pointed in front of me. She put the tray on the desk.

‘Is there anything else you need, madam?’      

‘No, just close the door on your way out.’

She nodded. ‘Alright ma’am.’

As the day progressed, I called Jody and Roger every few minutes to check on Charles’s whereabouts. I dismissed the terrifying feeling inside me as paranoia.

‘Maybe he’s out there running errands and checking on one of the projects, he is working on,’ I thought.

Maybe I had too much time on my hands. Going to the government building and beg for any job from Scott, crossed my mind. ‘Hell no,’ I thought. I couldn’t imagine myself working under Scott and taking orders from him. Being elected as the president not only lifted my self-esteem and confidence. It gave me a purpose to live and serve the people of Appian. At that moment it hit me. I had been through a lot, survived and triumphed against all odds.

I thought of continuing my humanitarian projects or something similar but I gave up on the idea after I realized, slum dwellers lives have transformed for the better in the past 2 years.

‘I have outgrown this. I need to try out new things,’ I said to myself. I took a deep breath. Then picked a teabag and put it inside the cup. 1 teaspoon of sugar into the cup and poured hot water from the teapot, then stirred it anti-clockwise.

I remember how Charles used to moan about not spending enough time together during the presidential elections and as a president. I shook my head as I took a sip.

‘Maybe I should take it easy and focus on my marriage.’ I nodded. I pushed the chair back, stood up and walked out of the study.

I stepped inside the kitchen and found my new housekeeper wiping the stove with a small white towel.

‘Hi, you forgot to tell me your name.’

The housekeeper jumped, turned around abruptly and touched her chest.

‘Sorry, I didn’t see you there. My name is Melissa.’

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.’

‘I am alright.’

‘I’d like us to make something special for my husband for dinner.’

She nodded. ‘Whatever you need, just say the word.’

I smiled. ‘I think you and I are going to get along just fine.’

As the afternoon progressed, Melissa and I grinded it out in the kitchen as if our lives depended on it. By the time we finished cooking. We spoke like we’ve known each other for a long time.

Melissa rubbed her hands. ‘Everything is done, ma’am.’

‘No, please call me Yolanda.’

She nodded. ‘Cutlery, flowers, candles, food and wine have been decked on the dining room.’

‘Well done, I’m going to take a shower and hopefully he’d be back by then.’

‘I’m sure he will definitely appreciate this.’

‘I know.’ I rushed up the stairs and ran towards the bedroom.

An hour later, I was seated at the dining room sipping a glass of white wine. Then I looked at my wristwatch intently every few seconds.

‘Where are you?’ I whispered to myself. Few hours later, I called Roger, Jody and Charles’ office. Their phones kept ringing without reply. Then I called the government building security. They informed me, Charles never checked in today.

Melissa walked inside the dining room and stood next to me.

‘Ma’am, it’s almost 9 P.M.’

‘So?’

‘I was wondering if I could serve you dinner.’

‘Why do you want to do that? Do you see my husband here?’ I snapped.

‘I’m sorry, It’s just I’m supposed to be at home by 8 p.m.’

‘You can go. Tell the bodyguard or the driver to take you home.’

I saw her face turning red as she turned and rushed out of the dining room.

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘Charles, is starting to piss me off.’ I gulped down the wine.

I heard the front door slam. I shrugged. ‘I guess I deserve that,’ I said apologetically.

I stood up and walked out of the dining room. I stopped and stared at the front door and waited for it to open. I had a double vision, another front door appeared. ‘I think I’m drunk,’ I said.

 

 Chapter 68

 

By the time the alarm clock blasted the next morning. My eyes were wide awake staring at the ceiling. I hardly slept.

I turned and clicked on the snooze button. A knock came from the door.

‘Come in.’

The door knob tilted and opened. My eyes turned and glanced at the door. Melissa stepped inside, dressed in well-ironed uniform.

‘Good Morning, ma’am.’

‘Morning Melisa,’ I replied.

‘About last night..’

I interrupted her before she could finish. ‘It’s me who is supposed to apologize, I’m sorry for snapping at you last night.’

‘It’s alright, I am okay.’

‘Thanks,’ she said.

‘Charles didn’t come home last night.’

‘Strange.’

‘Very irresponsible for a married man.’

‘At least he is safe now.’

‘Safe, where?’

‘He is downstairs at the dining room, eating last night’s dinner.’

I threw the covers to the floor and jumped out of bed. As I slid my feet into my sleepers, she smiled at me as she picked up the covers and put them back on the bed. I rushed out of the bedroom and I don’t remember racing down the stairway.

I stormed inside the dining room, pulled a chair and sat next to him. I clenched my fists then banged them on the table.

‘Charles, where have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you?’ I shouted.

He turned, looked at me and shrugged. He took a sip of the orange juice.

‘I asked you a question?’

‘Please do not shout at me?’ he said.

‘Why didn’t you come home last night?’ I asked.

‘I’m here now.’

‘I prepared a dinner for us last night.’

Melissa showed it to me, I enjoyed it.’

‘When was that?’

‘About an hour ago.’

‘You ate last night’s food and now you’re eating all this now.’

‘What is wrong with that?’

‘You going to catch a heart attack.’

Melissa walked inside with another plate full of crispy bacon. She put it in front of him and took all the empty plates and strolled towards the door. ‘You have outdone yourself, thanks Melissa.’

‘You are welcome, Mr Roberts.’

I shook my head. ‘You still haven’t answered my question.’

‘What question?’

‘Where were you last, night?’

‘Working.’ He replied in a casual way.

‘You are lying, I called at the office and they said you never checked in’ I shouted.

‘I was at work alright,’ he insisted.

I sighed and shook my head. As I glared at him, I noticed another side of him, I’d never seen before. He was a good listener and always apologized when he’d done something wrong until that moment. He was distant and indifferent to my concerns and questions as he continued munching the food piled up in front of him.

‘Maybe he’s seeing someone else or maybe he’s not the man I thought he was,’ I thought. I pushed the chair back, stood up and stared at him.

‘Sometimes you can be very stupid,’ I barked at him as I strolled towards the exit.

‘Do not take your frustrations out on me,’ he shouted back.

‘FUCK YOU.’

I heard him bang the table with his fists

‘Someone needs to teach you a lesson about respect, sooner or later.’

‘Whatever.’

 

Chapter 69

 

I jumped and flung on my bed and my body bounced comfortably.

‘What a dick,’ I said. I picked the remote, clicked on the power button. The TV screen switched on. Scott Adams appeared. I sighed and threw the remote by my feet.

‘What is Scott up to now?’ I murmured as I glared at the screen.

‘Good Morning my fellow Appians. I have just received disturbing information about the Xapiens.’ We have intercepted intelligence, they do not want leave and are planning to fight back. This is a national security matter. Stay away from the Xapiens. Gabriel, the portal will be opened from now, please go back home and leave us in peace.’

Journalists lifted their hands in the air. He pointed at one of them.

‘Are the Xapiens really a threat to us?’

‘Yes they are, but I cannot reveal the details just stay away from them.’ He pointed at another journalist at the back.

‘Do you have proof of these allegations?’

‘Yes, but I can’t reveal them, no more questions thanks.’

‘Mr President, Mr President,’ they shouted for his attention, but ignored them as he walked out of the room.

I couldn’t believe how irresponsible Scott had been recently. I thought of confronting him about the Xapiens issue and his irrational behavior, but decided against it.

‘He is the president after all. No one can overrule his decisions,’ I said.

 

Chapter 70

 

Meanwhile at the Xapiens living quarters, Gabriel was seated at the lounge with the Xapiens elders. Their eyes glared at the TV screen without blinking, showing no emotion nor a reaction to President Scott Adam’s state of emergency announcement.

‘We know what we have do, right?’ Gabriel asked.

The elders nodded three times slowly in obedience while their eyes were fixated on the television screen.

‘Tell everyone, it’s time.’

The elders stood up at the same time, marched out the door like they were robots.

Pamela came out of the bedroom and sat next to him.

‘I also know what to do. I will not let you down my king,’ she said.

He nodded. ‘It is sad we have to end our agreement with the earthlings like this. They left us no choice.’

  

Chapter 71

                  

24 hours later, Scott deployed his soldiers around Appian to check if there aren’t any Xapiens left. The soldiers raided the Xapiens living quarters. Their maroon outfits was found dumped on the ground, piled up outside the buildings like dirty laundry waiting to be thrown into the washing machine.

Scott, was seated at his new office, signing off documents and handing each and one of them to Jody. The phone ranged and he picked it.

‘What is it?’ he asked as he clicked on the voice speaker button then put the phone down.

‘Mr President, we have searched everywhere and left no stone unturned.’

‘Did you find them?’

‘No, it seems they heard you loud and clear.’

‘Good job, soldier.’

‘The only thing they left behind were their maroon sweaters and pants.’

‘Hilarious.’

‘We will await for any further instructions from you.’

He shook his head. ‘Call off the search, soldier and close that damn portal.’

‘Yes sir.’

He hanged up then looked at his bodyguard. ‘That was easy, I thought they would resist.’

A knock came from the door. Roger walked in.

‘Who said you must come in?’ he asked.

He shrugged. ‘I’m sorry about that.’

‘Go back outside, knock and wait for my call.’

He rolled his eyes as he exited and closed the door. A knock sounded from the door.

‘COME IN.’

‘Roger, for the past 3 years, Yolanda never allocated a budget for the military department except of course the salaries.’

‘That is correct,’ he said.

How much are you going to allocate to my department for this financial year?’

‘It depends on what you need. Do you have a list of artillery and other military equipment you need?’ he asked.

He shook his head. ‘Nope, but I need a lot of ammo, rifles, choppers, bombers, tanks, military planes, surveillance and advanced Intel equipment.’ Roger scribbled on his notepad as he nodded to everything he said.

‘Got it. I will liaise with one of the generals and soldiers and confirm specifications of the weapons you need.’

‘Good boy, you can leave now,’ he commanded.

 

Chapter 72

            

I lay on my back in bed, staring at the ceiling intently as if it would give me all the answers I needed. Charles’s recent erratic behavior left a lot to be desired. His cold and demanding attitude has also affected our intimacy. His sex performance was below par. It was like it was his first time making love. Even after he takes a shower, the unbearable smell of his body odor overwhelmed me. I had my suspicions. Is he seeing another woman? The past 2 weeks, he went to bed early and when I woke up in the morning, he’s gone. He wasn’t someone who did things impulsively. He was methodical and considerate.

‘I’ll get to the bottom of this.’

I set the alarm clock at 4 A.M. and when it rang the next morning, he was gone. The next evening, I set the alarm clock again at 2 A.M. and when it rang, I looked at his side, Gone.

The next evening, I drifted in and out of shallow and restless sleep. I tried by all means not to fall asleep. I drank over 5 cups of strong black coffee and ‘Stay Awake’ pills.

By midnight, my eyelids closed for few minutes. Then snapped out of it and glanced at his side of the bed.

I sighed and nodded. ‘Thank heavens, he’s still here,’ I whispered. The gale rattled the window. As I was about to slip into another round of restless slumber. My eyelids fluttered open into almost complete darkness. I felt the heavy weight of cold covers on my face. I heard him jump out of bed, footsteps strolling towards the wardrobe. I removed the covers from my face slowly and took a glance at him. He sat by the edge of the bed, fully dressed and slid his feet on the shoes. He stood up, opened the door, walked out and closed it without making a sound. I took one deep breath and threw the covers to the left side of the bed. As I was about to switch on the bedside lamp, I decided against it. I opened the wardrobe, pulled out a camouflage jacket and wore it over my nightdress. A weird and strange ping sounded from outside the house.

‘What the hell was that?’ I whispered.

My heart thumped erratically as I strolled towards the window. Then I peered through the narrow slats in the blinds. It took a moment for the scene to register in my sleepy brain.

A crowd of people standing by the porch and inside the yard glared intently at my bedroom window. I felt hollowness in the pit of my stomach. In an instant, crazy thoughts of paranoia raced through my mind

‘Holy shit, they saw me.’ I rushed and jumped to bed, and hid under the covers.

‘What is going? Is he part of a cult or something?’ My heart pounded faster as I heard the front door downstairs open then closed.

I jumped out of bed, peered at the window. I saw him outside joining the crowd wearing white outfits. I watched them stroll out of the yard and disappear in the dark. I shook my head.

‘I have to get to the bottom of this, but I’m scared to go out in the dark.’

I sighed as I slid my feet on my shoes. I rushed out of the bedroom and as I walked down the stairway, I saw the bodyguard on the couch fast asleep. His mouth was wide open, snoring like a drunken man at a bar. I opened the front door gently. I stepped out and closed it without making a sound. I ran as fast as I could, and finally caught on them. Gasping, my breath steamed in the night chilly air. I rubbed my pale fingers together. I breathed on them to try and rub warmth into them.

They marched like a column of the North Korean army. Row after row, cold solid-looking men, woman and children with expression less faces. I noticed they stopped in every second or third house. The ping would shrill then someone stepped out from their house and join in the crowd. The pinging sounded familiar.

‘It’s the same sound as the portal,’ I whispered. Then thousands and thousands joined the crowd as I followed them patiently. I was 50 meters behind them, hiding behind trash cans and corners of buildings and houses.

My mind flashed back to the conversation I had with Jody about her Xapiens boyfriend, Jimmy. She recalled how Jimmy disappeared every night at 01:35 A.M. but never knew where he went.

‘I need to have a word with Jody first thing tomorrow,’ I whispered.

Few minutes later, the crowd tilted back their heads and looked at the dark sky at the same time.

‘Creepy, what are they looking at?’ I whispered.

A bright sizzling cream-ish moon appeared from the sky. The moonlight shone bright as day. I looked up, smiled and marveled at the sight of this rare phenomenon.

They glared at the moon as if they were anxious to catch a glimpse of something, or a sound or signal coming from the moon. It was humongous and looked so closer. It felt like I was in the spacecraft again. The crowd stared at it intently, as if they were communicating with something from outer space or their lives depended on it.

2 hours later, they stopped. Then the moon disappeared quicker than it appeared. The crowd snapped out of their sleepwalking. They shook hands with each other, conversed and walked back as if nothing had happened.

‘Oh, they coming this way.’ As I tried to run, I realized my shoes made too much noise. I tried to take them off, but the concrete was too cold. Instead I hid behind a huge garbage container on the corner of the building. One of the first people who passed was Charles. I glared at him. He appeared like his usual self, laughing and chatting. I waited and waited. I watched them scatter to different directions. I waited until all the roads were cleared. I glanced on all sides. Then came out from my hideout. I retraced my path then strolled back home without anyone noticing my presence. I opened the front door and saw the bodyguard walking down the stairs.

‘I am so sorry ma’am, I fell asleep,’ he said.

‘It’s alright, I couldn’t sleep and needed some fresh air.’

He nodded. ‘But it’s not the safe outside, next time I’ll walk with you.’

I shrugged. ‘Good night.’

I breathed a sigh of relief as I strolled up the stairs then entered the bedroom.

‘I think I have too much time on my hands,’ I said. I took off the camouflage jacket and threw it on the floor. I slid under the covers and covered myself. I rubbed my hands, and my feet rubbed against each other.

My troubled thoughts drifted to the events which transpired earlier in downtown.

‘Where was Jimmy heading to every midnight?’

‘Did my husband go to the same place downtown with Jimmy?’

‘Why were they walking like zombies and staring at the moon?’

‘Is there a connection between the Xapiens and my husband?’

I sighed. ‘I feel like the answer is staring right at my face,’ I said to myself.

‘The Xapiens left 2 weeks right? How is it possible my husband, neighbors and former colleagues behave like the Xapiens while they are wearing their white outfits?’

‘Oh my God,’ I exclaimed. ‘What if this was their master plan all along? What if the Xapiens never left? Who saw them exit the portal? What if they kill us all in Appian and replace us?

JESUS! I pray and hope I’m wrong.’

 

 

Chapter 73

 

Few hours later at midday, I walked inside the government building entrance towards the security team.

‘Good Morning gentlemen?’

Two men stood in front of her. ‘Morning ma’am,’ they replied at the same time.

‘Why are you blocking my way?’

‘We have been instructed not to let you in the building.’

‘I’m not here to cause any trouble. Please let me in,’ I begged.

I felt a hand on my right shoulder. I turned around abruptly and looked.

‘Let her in, gents,’ he said.

It was Charles or Gabriel, I wasn’t sure anymore. My body trembled as he held my left hand. Then he kissed me on the cheek. The guards shook their heads, but let us pass through reluctantly. He pointed towards the elevator, 10 meters away as it was about to close.

‘Hold the elevator,’ he shouted.

One of the staff pressed a button. The elevator door reopened. The people inside the lift smiled when I stepped inside the elevator. They shook my hand as the elevator door was closing. Somehow my presence uplifted their spirit. I forced a smile until I shook all their hands. My eyes glanced at his frame and limbs for anything peculiar. I couldn’t spot anything unusual. Then I looked at his head. The last time I saw Gabriel, he had long dirty, curly blond hair. Charles had well-trimmed short blond hair.

‘He could have also cut his hair short and made it look like Charles’s hairstyle,’ I thought. I shook my head hesitantly. I wanted to confront him about what I saw last night, but he was busy chatting. By the time the elevator passed the 25th floor, we were the only one left. Our eyes crossed.

‘Please hold me,’ I requested.

He nodded. ‘Are you alright?’ he asked as he put the briefcase on the floor then wrapped his arms around me. We hugged. My face leaned against his chest. I sniffed his chest and neck. I sensed irregularities on his scent. Charles never had a body odor like the man in front of me. I had a flashback. I remember the first time I met and spoke with Gabriel 3 years ago. He had the same odor as the man next to me. My skin crawled at his proximity. Even though my heart pounded icily. I remained calm and tried not to give anything away.

He kissed me on the forehead.

‘Easy, we’ll do all that home,’ I said.

The elevator bell rang on the 30th Floor at the EGI department. We stepped out and strolled towards his office.

‘Where were you last night?’ I asked.

‘What?’ he exclaimed as he waved at his colleagues in the open office.

‘When I woke up this morning. You were not there. Where were you?’

‘I had a project to attend to.’

‘Which project?’

‘Can we ever have a normal conversation without it disintegrating into an argument?’

‘Why are you so defensive?’

‘No one questions me like that ever. Do you understand?’ he said.

I noticed his pupils dilating. His eyes turned black, then grey and went back to its normal size within a second.

My heart stirred as I took a step back. ‘Who the fuck are you?’ I shouted.

I think everyone in the floor heard me shout. I saw them staring at us.

He shook his head in disbelief.

‘I can’t believe you just did that,’ he whispered. Then forced a smile.

‘I want answers, that’s why I’m here,’ I said.

Don’t talk to me like that?’

‘Or what?’

‘Trust me, you don’t want to know,’ he said. He paced away from me. I followed him to his office.

‘I’m still talking to you Mister,’ I shouted as we stepped inside his office.

My body froze as the door slammed behind me.

I didn’t realize he was behind the door. I felt his hands grip my neck up against the door. I choked helplessly as my feet hanged inches away from the floor. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. I tried to free myself, clenching my fists, and swung soft punches on his face. Then I scratched his face with my long nails. He wrung my neck and just as I was to pass out. He let go. I felt my body hit against the floor.

He bent and pointed at me. ‘Stop disrespecting me and let me do what I have to do,’ he shouted.

I coughed as I lay helplessly on the floor. I stared at him as I tried to catch my breath.

‘I know you’re Gabriel and I’ll expose you for who you are?’ I gasped.

He burst out laughing. ‘After all I have done for you, this is what I get? This is what my people get?’ he shouted. He clenched his right fist and banged it against the door.

‘What are you talking about?’ I asked. Then I crawled and leaned on the wall.

‘We had a simple deal and you just couldn’t stick to it. It’s a pity it had to end this way.’

Scott kicked the door and stormed inside the office. He turned abruptly to his right and saw me on the floor weeping helplessly. I crawled towards him, stood up and hid behind his legs. Then I pointed at Gabriel.

‘He choked me, he tried to kill me,’ I cried.

‘What the hell is going on here Charles? Is that true? I never figured you as a wife beater’ Scott asked.

He shook his head.

‘She is lying. she demanded I employ her in my department. I refused. Then she threw a fit.’

Scott turned and looked at me.

‘Yolanda, why are you here?’ he asked with a low compassionate tone. ‘I thought you have accepted your fate.’

‘I have Scott, but something is wrong,’ I shouted.

‘What are you talking about?’

I pointed at Gabriel without fear.

‘This is not my husband.’

He shook his head. ‘What makes you say that?’

‘Did the Xapiens leave?’ I asked.

‘Hell yeah.’ He replied boastfully.

‘Has anyone seen them leave? Has anyone seen them exit the portal?’

Scott turned around, glanced at his soldiers behind him. They shook their heads and others shrugged implying they never saw them leave.

‘God damn it, one of you go out there and confirm,’ he commanded.

‘This man standing before us is not Charles. This is Gabriel the Xapien.’

He blushed as he took a step back and shook his head.

‘Why are you lying?’

‘Now it makes sense.’

‘You believe me, Scott?’ I gasped. ‘Where is Charles?’

He took another step back towards the desk.

‘What are you talking about? I am your husband.’

Scott snapped his fingers. Then the soldiers walked slowly towards him.

‘Why are your pupils dilated?’ Scott asked.

Sweat dripped from his face in an unusual way. He wiped it with his hand but more came out of his forehead.

‘There is nothing wrong with them.’ He glanced at Scott and the soldiers approaching towards him like a pack of wolves. He took a big deep breath, then stared at us without fear. Then his eyes turned black. He turned around abruptly and sprinted towards the window and jumped. His flung and his body hit the window, shattering into pieces. Strong winds blew inside, papers and documents also flew outside and scattered in the office.

We rushed towards the window and watched him flying down towards the ground.

As his body was about to hit the hard tared road from the 30th floor. He landed softly on his feet. He bent, his hands touched the ground like nothing happened. He stood up, looked up and pointed at us. Then he sprinted away.

Scott put his hands on his head. ‘THOSE SUMMABITCHES ARE STILL HERE.’

‘They’ve murdered my husband. Oh Charles my love. What have they done to you?’ I cried uncontrollably. Grief, loss, and despair all swelled in my heart. I felt a choking sense of desperation and anger.

‘Let’s go and get them,’ he commanded. His bodyguards and soldiers stormed out of the office.

I saw a photo frame of us on the desk, picked it up and stared at it.

‘How will I live without you in this godforsaken hell hole?’ I kissed it and put it back on the desk and exited. After I closed the door, I saw Jody down the passage next to the elevator.

I waved at her. She didn’t notice me. ‘Jody,’ I called her out.

She turned and saw me waving and rushing towards her. She turned around then pressed the elevator button repetitively. The elevator door opened and she stepped inside.

‘You were right about Jimmy. Please hold the elevator for me?’ I shouted.

The elevator door closed. ‘I don’t believe this. She is avoiding me,’ I exclaimed.

‘Judging by her strange behavior lately. I think she has been captured too.’ I tapped my forehead with my index finger, thinking of my next move.

‘I don’t think my house is safe anymore, they’d capture me anytime.’

I saw Roger talking to a colleague. Then strolled towards him.

‘Morning Roger.’

‘Hey, you look like a train wreck. I heard what happened. Are you alright?’

I nodded. ‘I think they got Jody too.’

‘What? Who got them?’

‘The Xapiens and they could catch you too.’

‘Really?’

Yeah, when was the last time you saw your Xapien twin?’

‘About 2-3 weeks ago, before they left, why?’

‘Stay away from him.’

‘Is there something you are not telling me?’

‘He will kill you. Take your outfit and replace you.’

‘That is horrible. Does that mean Scott was right about them being aliens?’

I shook my head. ‘I’m not sure, but I think he’s right about the invasion.’

Roger covered his mouth with his right hand. ‘I never saw that one coming.’

‘That makes the two of us.’

Orange lights flashed from the ceiling on every floor in the building and a siren blasted.

‘Attention, this your president, Scott Adams. Evacuate the building with immediate effect. Go home, lock your doors and be safe,’ he announced from the speakers attached on the top corner on every floor.

‘Roger, it was great catching up with you, but I have to go to Scott’s office.’

‘No problem, be safe.’

  

Chapter 74

 

I tapped the door with my knuckles. I opened it and strolled inside. The defense department staff were all seated. They turned and stared at me like I was an outsider.

‘If you are here to argue with me, get out,’ Scott barked.

‘You and I are in the same team.’

He nodded. ‘You mean a winning team. Have a seat.’

‘We have a serious situation on our hands. My men on the ground tell me they found all the Xapiens clothes piled up all over Appian. We assumed they went back home without confirming it. The Xapiens never left Appian. I need an army to capture these bastards before they could get us all.’

‘Do you have an idea where we could locate them?’ a soldier from the back asked.

‘Search everywhere.’

‘I think they have captured almost all the Appian population. I think it would be impossible to figure out who’s who,’ I added.

‘Your point is?’ Scott asked.

‘I know a place where they gather every night. We’ll capture them on that spot.’

He nodded. ‘Interesting, tell us more.’

In the next hour, I shared everything I knew about our enemy and my interactions with Gabriel.

 

Chapter 75

 

As my bodyguard opened the car door for me outside the government building parking. I shook my head. I looked at him.

‘Jeff, I’ll take a walk home,’ I said.

‘Impossible, ma’am. I could get fired for this.’

‘Don’t worry, I’ll be alright, it’s an order.’

He shook his head.

‘Don’t follow me.’ I waved at him as he drove down the road.

As I strolled on the pavement in the city, I realized people were busy minding their own business. They didn’t notice me.

5 minutes deep in the center of the city, everything looked normal until I noticed a peculiar reflection of myself through the window. The reflection moved but I didn’t. Puzzled, I looked close. I realized it wasn’t my reflection but Pamela’s, staring at me from across the road. My heart shrunk. I turned around abruptly and glanced across the street. No one was there, but I could sense someone was watching me.

‘She’s here, what am I going to do?’ I panicked as my eyes flitted to different directions.

I stepped inside a random restaurant. It had ‘Mike’s Diner’ sign on the door.

‘Mingling with the civilians wouldn’t be a bad idea, besides I think I’ll be safe here,’ I whispered as I opened and closed the door. As I strolled inside, I realized it was full. My eyes scanned around until I noticed an old man waving at me signalling there’s space available next to him. I shook my head, paused, glanced around for another empty seat, but couldn’t find one. Then I finally walked towards him seated at the far corner of the diner.

‘Good day Madam President,’ he said as he stood up and pointed at an empty seat in front of him.

He was a man of perhaps sixty, frail, his long combed hair was almost white.

‘Thank you.’ I sat, looked at him and forced a smile.

The man looked different in many ways. He didn’t have his white sweater and pants on him. My eyes sized him up for a second. He wore shabby long brown torn jacket and a red worn out sweater underneath. The navy cotton finger-less gloves on his hands seemed important to him as he kept looking at them every few seconds. He had an overstaffed brown briefcase stuffed with a lot of paper or documents next to him. Oddly, his face and head were clean and well-shaven. Our eyes crossed.

‘You look very familiar,’ I broke the ice.

He nodded. ‘We met a couple years back in the slums.’

I snapped my fingers and pointed at him. ‘Yes, I do remember you.’

‘I thought everyone from the slums should have been allocated proper housing facilities and jobs by now?’

‘They all gone and are living the life. My family and friends are living well now. Thanks to you,’ he said. Then he picked a white cup of black coffee and took a sip.

I smiled and shook my head. ‘Don’t you also want a better life for yourself?’

He shook his head then and put the cup on the table. ‘I don’t want anything to do with those Xapien scums.’

‘Hmm strong words, why is that?’

‘Don’t tell me you haven’t seen what they have done to our people?’

I shook my head, pretending I was clueless but interested in what he had to say.

‘I’m no longer the president anymore.’

‘Look around you and the city, they are everywhere.’

‘Who…?’

A woman’s cry behind me interrupted our conversation. I turned around and tapped her on the shoulder.

‘Are you alright, ma’am?’ I asked.’

She turned and recognized me at first glance. She was about in her mid-40s, with big friendly eyes, brunette hair and a large frame.

She shook her head as she wiped the tears with a handkerchief.

‘Madam President, I didn’t recognize you there,’ she said.

‘Why are you crying?’

She pointed at the kids, two boys seated opposite her. ‘It’s them.’

‘Have they been naughty? You know kids will always be kids.’

My attempts to cheer her up didn’t work, instead it made the situation worse. She cried louder and uncontrollably.

‘Look at them, they no longer talk, eat, laugh or play outside the house anymore. They keep staring at walls and the ceiling for hours.’

I glanced at the boys and noticed the fierceness in their eyes as they stared blankly at their mother without feeling sorry for her.

‘Hello boys,’ I said.

Their eyes darted at me and waved at the same time like robots. They put their hands back on the table and their eyes shifted back at their mother.

‘I know my children very well. These are not my children.’

I shook my head in disbelief. I understood what she meant, but I didn’t have the guts to tell her the gruesome truth.

‘I’m sorry to hear that, you take care.’

I glanced around the restaurant for anything unusual until I noticed a couple. They were seated opposite my table staring at each other oddly, motionless without saying anything to each. They looked like mannequins. I turned around to face my friend. He wasn’t there. He disappeared.

‘Where did he disappear to?’

I shrugged. Then I gestured to the waitresses. They passed my table with dirty plates piled up. I wasn’t sure whether they ignored me on purpose. I felt like a ghost desperately trying to communicate with the living.

I turned and glanced through the window. I saw Gabriel and Pamela passing by.

‘I’m toast,’ I whispered. Then bent on the floor as I glared at them walking towards the restaurant entrance. I looked for a place to hide or an exit. Then I crawled from under the table quickly and dashed towards the kitchen. I hope no one saw me. I saw the kitchen door. I wanted to run as fast as I could, but I was curious.

I turned and peered at the diner from the kitchen without getting noticed. As Gabriel and Pamela entered the diner, almost everyone stood and stared at him. The only person seated was the woman with 2 boys.

‘What is going on?’ she cried.

Gabriel stood beside her table and stared at her.

‘Put her out of her misery,’ he commanded.

A Xapien woman identical to her, came inside and walked towards them.

‘I thought we were friends. Please don’t’ hurt me,’ she begged for her life.

Her look-alike sat next to her. She put her hands over the lady’s head. Her body shook, as if she was convulsing. Dark grey smoke came out of the Xapien woman’s mouth and entered into the lady’s mouth. Her pupils dilated until they turned black then turned grey and her eyelids closed. She removed her hands and let go. The lady’s head hit against the table. The Xapien woman stood up. She looked at Gabriel and nodded.

‘Come here boys. Give your mama a big hug,’ he said.

The boys shuffled their feet and jumped into her arms.

‘Find her,’ he shouted.

Sheesh! I knew he was talking about me. I ran and hid inside the deep freezer full of packaged frozen mixed vegetables. I closed the door over my head.

I heard the tramping footsteps storming inside the kitchen and rushing out the back kitchen door. Then I heard Gabriel and Pamela speak and stood next to the deep freezer.

‘Don’t worry my love, we will find Yolanda for you.’

‘You promise?’

‘Yes, planet earth will be all ours very soon,’ he said.

‘We cannot afford to go back to Gadju now.’

‘We have a lot of work to do, let’s go.’

I waited for a few minutes until I was sure no Xapiens were at the Diner. I opened the deep freezer door slowly and I stepped out.

I walked like I was walking on egg shells, as I constantly looked on all sides. I opened the kitchen door leading to the diner and looked around. My heart pounded faster as I saw the middle-aged woman’s body lying helplessly on the table.

‘Is she dead?’ I whispered to myself.

I rushed towards her and put 2 fingers on the side of her neck, checking her pulse. I breathed a sigh of belief.

‘Thank heavens, she’s alive,’ I murmured.

Deep voices sounded from outside the restaurant. I bent and hid under the table. My body trembled as I heard them enter the diner. They approached towards the table.

‘Where are we talking this one?’ the 1st man asked.

‘Same place as others,’ second man replied.

‘Can you believe it? Planet earth is our colony now?’ 3rd man said.

‘It still feels like a dream,’ the 1st man replied.

‘Hold her hands and we will hold her legs.’

I had a glimpse of her face, upside down, her brunette wig fell off and bald head showed. That was the last time I saw her. Then the four Xapien men hoisted her up by legs and arms, and carried her out of the diner like a sack.

‘Phew, that was close,’ I gasped. ‘What if I follow them and find out where they are taking her?’ I shook my head. ‘Nope, I’ll stay here.’

I was as good as trapped. I could go no farther and couldn’t return the way that I had come. I crawled towards the door. I switched the sign on the door from ‘OPEN’ to ‘CLOSED’. I drew the drapes tightly shut at all the diner windows to prevent the Xapiens from seeing inside if they should come prowling around here again.

I glanced under the tables as I strolled towards the kitchen. I closed the kitchen door at the back, engaged the regular lock, the dead-bolt lock, and the brass safety chain. I glanced around. Then turned and walked towards the cupboard. I pushed and moved it by the door.

The daylight faded.

‘That’s better, I think I’ll be safe here for the night.’ An alien moan came up out of my gut. I chuckled. I pulled a plate, a fork and knife from the sink and rinsed them. Then I put them on the table. I saw green salad on the side, Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, diced spinach, red onion and salmon. I glanced on the other side and strolled towards it.

‘I think I’ll have junk food tonight.’

I opened the oven and took out the lasagne tray and served it. I opened the fridge, pulled out a can of Appian Cola then closed the fridge. I nodded as I took mouthfuls of lasagne like I haven’t eaten for days. Then I washed it down with the cola. I belched and felt warm gas emitting from my nose. ‘I haven’t eaten this much food since I was a teenager,’ I munched.

The fact that, the middle aged woman was alive when I checked her pulse. I’m hopeful my husband might be alive.

I had a flashback. After I leaked the ‘Dark Matters’ document to the Russian intelligence. I contemplated committing suicide, because I dishonored my country. If I was a Samurai warrior. I’d have done the honorable thing. I forgave and redeemed myself, and went to on become the President of Appian. The Xapiens situation clouded my judgment. I overlooked their ulterior motives. I made an error and paid dearly for it. I was impeached. I’m proud of myself for redeeming myself at the Black Hole, and took a risk by allowing the Xapiens to our planet and the decision paid off immensely for us. The commodities transformed Appian’s Infrastructure, economy and most importantly it changed almost everyone’s lives.

If I was to have any hope of saving my fellow Appians. I had to keep moving, keep fighting as long and hard as possible like Spartacus. Grief blanketed my heart and pain crossed my face like I was suffering from a bipolar disorder. ‘I let monsters into our land, because of greed and I’m paying dearly for it,’ I thought. I got up before the big wave of my regrets could hit me fully, staggered to the switch and turned off the light. I didn’t need the blankets, because the temperature in the kitchen was warm enough. I curled up in a fetal position right under the table.

  

Chapter 76

 

Hundreds of thousands of tramping footsteps sounded and interrupted my sleep. I jumped up and hit my head against the table. My eyelids opened into complete darkness.

‘Where am I? Oh yes.’

I gasped as I stood up and strolled out the kitchen door leading to the diner. I opened slowly and glanced. The diner was quiet. I shuffled my feet in the diner until I hit my knee against the corner of the wooden chair.

‘Ouch,’ I exclaimed. ‘I can’t switch on the lights. They’ll know I’m here.’

I opened the curtain with my index finger enough for my right eye to see. The Xapiens walked at a higher pace on the road. I looked at my wristwatch: 01:37 A.M. I remembered my tip-off to Scott Adams and his defense and military staff

‘I hope they kill all of you motherfuckers,’ I murmured.

My eyes followed them until they were a block away. Then she I saw a convoy of military vehicles and artillery. Camouflaged Hummers and SUVs, tanks moving towards the diner. The diner was situated at the corner of a crossroad and the convoy turned right and followed the Xapiens. As the convoy drew closer, 2 military helicopters and a bomber hovering above the high rise buildings appeared from the sky. The bright lights from the helicopters shone over their faces as they covered their eyes with their hands. The Xapiens stopped, turned around without panicking. They faced and walked towards the convoy. Military convoy advanced towards the enemy slowly. They drew their weapons, cocking sounded, crouched and waited for the advancing Xapiens.

‘STOP RIGHT THERE OR WE WILL SHOOT.’

‘I WANT YOU TO LISTEN VERY CAREFULLY. THIS IS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. WE WILL LEAD YOU TO THE PORTAL OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS,’ Scott shouted from one of the helicopters. I think the warning fell on deaf ears as they continued moving towards the convoy.

‘FIRE, FIRE,’ he commanded.

 

Chapter 77

 

The bombers flew over the center of the Xapiens and dropped 2 bombs. The air was filled with the sound of screaming as the bombs landed and exploded on them.

‘I don’t think anyone survived that,’ I said.

As the smoke cleared, hundreds of thousands of Xapiens lifeless bodies twitched, and stiffened. Their limbs moved jerkily on the hard concrete tarred road, piled up against each other. As Pamela’s battered and bruised head lay against Gabriel’s chest, their fatal wounds healed in an instant. Their bellies contracted and expanded as their eyelids twitched, opened and didn’t blink for a minute. Gabriel stood up, grabbed her hand then pulled her up. He turned around abruptly. His eyes glanced at the bodies of his people. He took a long deep sighing breath.

‘SON OF GADJU, RISE,’ he shouted.

The Xapiens rose from the dead. They stood up, then faced Gabriel as they created lines and rows formation.

My lower jaw dropped. ‘What the hell just happened?’

‘They are mutant aliens,’ a soldier shouted on the ground.

They rushed towards the Xapiens as the cocktail of bullets discharged. Soldiers fired blasts from the tanks, sub-machine guns and rifles. Xapiens sprinted towards the soldiers and convoy, dodging bullets with ease. Xapiens on the front line lifted the camouflaged Hummer up in the air. They threw it up, flung down and crashed on top of the military truck with a machine gun. The gas tank leaked. The gas liquid flowed down to the roof of the truck and down the windows. Bullets from behind hit the truck. Sparks flew up until they combined with the gas liquid. Raging fire erupted. Then both vehicles exploded. The truck shot up in the air and crashed down, blazing with flames and black smoke. Xapiens dominated the battle as many lifeless bodies of soldiers lay on the road. Their necks were wrung. They also lifted tanks and as they were about to throw them upside down, it ejected some kind of projectile, or missile. It shot up the sky jetting directly at the helicopters. They swooped and tilted as the missile missed the helicopters and struck a building not far from it. It was a war zone like some contested third-world killing field.

 

Chapter 78

 

Windows shattered at the diner from the effects of the explosions. The concussive wave of the explosion blew me off my feet and dropped me down hard. I stood motionless, dumbfounded and dazzled by the flashes of light. I felt like a cartoon character after being hit by a hammer in the head. I think stars or birds flew over my head. I think I screamed, but I couldn’t hear my own voice. For a second nothing made sense. I hid under the table as I covered my ears.

‘I can’t stay here and do nothing.’

I climbed out of the window, stood by the street lights and observed the pandemonium.

Bullets from the helicopters flew and sputtered on the Xapiens bodies but it seemed they distracted them. Gabriel pointed at Pamela. Then pointed at the helicopters. It seemed he gestured to her to attack them.

She nodded then sprinted towards the building. She jumped and crawled up the building wall using her hands and feet as if she had something sticky under them like Cat woman or Spider man. As she reached the top of the building, she glanced at all directions searching for the helicopters.

She sprinted towards the helicopter. Then jumped from the roof, flung towards it and clenched on the landing skids. The pilot lost control. The helicopter swerved as it spiraled down towards the ground. Then it crashed on to the convoy and exploded. When the helicopter exploded, the force of the blast’s sudden inertial shift slammed and killed several of our soldiers into the sides of the military vans and building walls. All the military trucks caught fire. Most of the soldiers couldn’t match up to the strengths of the Xapiens as their rifles were taken from them and eventually killed.

‘Retreat Soldiers, Retreat.’ Scott commanded from the helicopter.

 

Chapter 79

 

The pilot sent out a distress signal. A few seconds later, he shook his head as he turned and looked back at Scott.

‘I am afraid the general has been killed and I have been told. We are outnumbered.’

Scott sighed. ‘Let’s get out of here,’ he commanded.

The pilot nodded. ‘Yes sir,’ he said as he pressed a surrender distress call button. Then a loud siren from the helicopter sounded. Few soldiers looked up and ran for their lives. Army tanks and vehicles withdrew as the Xapiens chased them.

The helicopter turned and as it flew higher. Scott noticed someone familiar, standing in the middle of a crossroad.

‘Wait, wait,’ he shouted.

‘What is the problem, sir?’ the pilot asked.

‘Isn’t that Yolanda?’

The pilot looked down and shook his head. ‘I really can’t tell from here.’

‘It’s her alright. It looks like she needs our help. Fly down and go get her,’ he commanded.

He shook his head. ‘I don’t think it’s safe to go down there, Mr President.’

‘Do as I tell you now,’ he shouted.

The pilot jumped up in fright from his seat. He flicked a row of switches as he adjusted the lever. Then shifted the cyclic stick down. The chopper turned and flew down. The helicopter landed at the center of the crossroad as it blew Yolanda’s long hair back. Scott witnessed the destruction the Xapiens have caused. He shook his head, turned and looked at her.

‘Yolanda, hurry up,’ he waved at her.

She ran as fast like she had never before towards the helicopter. As she was about to step onto the helicopter. She glanced behind and saw the Xapiens about 100 meters away. Running towards the helicopter at a high speed faster than Usain Bolt.

‘Holy Shit, they are coming.’

Scott stretched out his arm. Pulled and lifted her up with ease like a small dumbbell.

‘Go, go, go, they are almost here,’ he shouted. The chopper shuddered and airborne. As the helicopter flew higher at about 20 feet. Jimmy jumped up like he had springs underneath his feet and gripped on the left landing skid. 2 Xapiens men followed as they also jumped and gripped on Jimmy’s feet. Yolanda’s heart pounded. She glared down at the Xapiens hanging from the helicopter and each other as if they were performing acrobatic feats in a circus. The helicopter shook as it struggled to fly higher.

‘Fly higher, God damn it,’ Scott raised his voice over the rising thrumming of the chopper

‘I can’t fly higher, they are trying to pull it down.’

As the helicopter was 100 feet up, the Xapiens hanging on both sides of the landing skids shook the helicopter. It spun spirally twice, losing control on its way down, but the experienced pilot managed to steer it and flew higher.

‘Desperate times calls for desperate measures.’

Scott pulled out a piece and a magazine from his waist. He slid the magazine into the handle of the gun and cocked it. He slid the helicopter door open. He pointed the gun down while his left hand gripped on the safety belt. He aimed for the forehead. Then pulled the trigger without warning. He shot 2 of them on the forehead. Their bodies flew down faster than a rocket and crashed on the road. Blood splattered as their twitching disfigured limbs lay helplessly on the road. Pamela jumped inside the helicopter on Yolanda’s side. Yolanda screamed. She swung her elbows and knees, trying to escape. Pamela’s strength was too great. She caught her and threw a punch on her face. Then she drove a fist into her stomach, knocking the lights out of her. Lifting her head by a handful of hair. Pamela forced her to look him in the eyes. Yolanda couldn’t escape. 2 Xapiens men also stepped inside. Scott pointed the gun on them and pulled the triggered.

The Xapiens reflexes were faster than the speed of a moving bullet. They dodged them effortlessly until the cartridge was empty.

Scott’s lookalike head-butted him, knocking him down unconsciously. He fell on Yolanda’s lap.

‘Scott wake up,’ she shouted then looked at Pamela.

‘What have we done to deserve this?’

Pamela head-butted her. Stars exploded and blew her straight into darkness. She tapped on the pilot’s shoulder. He turned and looked at her. She sensed his fear, smelt his sweat dripping down his face and neck as his body trembled.

‘Fly down and land to the spot where you fetched her,’ she commanded.

The pilot nodded as she spoke. ‘Yes ma’am,’ he replied in a low tone voice. As the pilot steered the helicopter down. Pamela and Scott’s lookalike lifted them and made Yolanda and Scott sit up straight. Pamela held Yolanda’s face with both hands on the cheeks and so did Scott’s lookalike. They opened their mouths as grey smoke came out from Pamela and Scott’s look-alike’s mouth and entered Yolanda’s and Scott’s mouth. After they finished, they took one long deep breath, looked at each and nodded in agreement. The pilot watched in confusion, not certain if what had happened was truly extraordinary or had a reasonable explanation. As the helicopter landed on the road the Xapiens had already gathered. She stepped out of the helicopter then glanced at everyone.

‘Mission Complete,’ she declared.

They clapped and chanted with fists high in the air. One of the Xapiens warrior next to Gabriel asked him a question.

‘What should we do with them?’

‘Throw them where everyone is,’ he commanded.

Pamela tapped him from behind. He turned and smiled at her then hugged.

Moments later, the elders walked towards him and warriors made a way for them.

‘Gabriel,’ they shouted. The crowd settled down and Gabriel turned and looked at the elders standing beside him.

‘You have proven us wrong. We thought you were a self-involved warrior who only cared about the glory. You have shown us the true spirit of a warrior. You really care about your people,’ the 1st elder said. Gabriel bowed with humility.

‘Even though you lost the battle against the Hakas. You brought us victory against Humans,’ the 2 elder said.

‘You have saved the Xapiens tribe from extinction and now we can live peacefully on planet earth,’ the 3rd elder added. The Xapiens clapped and chanted his name as he bowed to the elders. Then he waved around the crowd.

‘All I care about is the safety of my people and now our people will live on, generation after generation for thousands of years. From now on, planet earth is our new home, given to us by our god, Savimbi. One more thing, in times like these, I miss my home brewed sorghum beer back at Gadju but it doesn’t matter.’ He clenched his right fist then lifted it up in the air vigorously.

‘Let us celebrate our victory.’

Everyone chanted his name including his wife and the elders. ‘Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel.’

He glanced around and noticed how happy and grateful his people are to him. His mind flashed back to the battle at planet Gadju. Even though he won the battle against humans, the loss against the Hakas crushed him to the depths of his soul. He didn’t only lose his army, half of the Xapiens population were massacred. His elders never told him about the history of the Hakas, where do they come from or live. And why do they have to fight them on the first day of every raining season. He also wondered whether he would ever see or fight them again.

‘I guess I will never know the answer to that,’ he murmured.

As the evening progressed, Xapiens overindulged in whiskey, spirits, vodkas and rums as their celebrated. Dancing and singing to the rhythmic sounds of the beating drums and music blasting from speakers. Their famous celebrations carried on until dawn. As the Xapiens were fast asleep, the city was different in the morning like it was a ghost town.

Retail shops and supermarkets were still closed. There was no commotion in the train and bus stations as there was not a single person visible on the streets of Appian.

 

Chapter 80

 

‘Yolanda wake up, wake up.’ The voice sounded and repeated in my head. My eyelids opened and I saw Gabriel’s face. I experienced a dizzying moment of double vision.

‘Get away from me, you imposter,’ I shouted. I jumped and stood up. Then I stepped away from him. I didn’t know where I was. There were a lot of people in that place. It looked like a prison, warehouse or hall. A bench just wide enough to sit on ran round the wall, broken only by the door.

‘Calm down, you’re safe.’

I rubbed my eyes glancing around and saw familiar faces.

‘Jody? Charles?’

Jody and Charles nodded at the same time with a smile.

‘Where am I?’ I asked.

Charles walked towards me. I took 2 steps back. I looked at the clothes he wore, glanced around the hall and shook my head.

‘Why do we have maroon clothes on us?’ I asked.

‘We are in prison, in case you haven’t caught on,’ Scott said.

I turned and looked at him. He was seated 20 meters away from me, with a broken nose. My mind flashed back to the last moment I remembered.

‘Oh yeah, I was in the helicopter,’ I thought.

‘How are you doing,’ Charles asked.

Suddenly a warm wave of relief flowed through me. I rushed towards him, jumped and fell on his arms.

‘Oh Charles, I’m glad you are alive, I thought you were dead.’

‘I’m alright.’

I turned and hugged Jody. ‘Did you follow them?’ I asked.

‘Yes, they caught me,’ she replied.

‘I also followed them and made sure they didn’t see me.’

‘We should be grateful they didn’t kill us. It could have been worse,’ Charles said.

Almost everyone in the hall nodded in agreement.

‘By the time I discovered who they really were. It was too late,’ I said.

‘I wish I didn’t come down and saved you. I would have gathered more soldiers. We could have won and defeated these bastards,’ Scott confessed.

‘I disagree with you. I saw them kill almost every soldier on the ground with ease and the army tanks and bombers didn’t do any damage at all,’ I said.

‘I agree with you ma’am. They were too powerful, very agile and aggressive,’ a soldier said.

‘I think they are mutant aliens,’ another soldier said.

‘What makes you say that?’

‘When the bombers dropped bombs over them. We thought we had killed them,’ he replied.

Scott interrupted him. ‘Yes, I thought so too.’

‘Then what happened,’ Charles asked.

‘Their wounds closed and healed instantly.

‘Astonishing, then we have a bigger problem on our hands.’

‘Forget it, we can’t defeat those things. I saw one of them climb a building with their bare hands and jumped on to the helicopter. It was a massacre,’ the soldier added.

‘What if we escape and attack them while they are asleep,’ he suggested.

Scott chuckled. ‘Attack them with what? We couldn’t defeat them with our heavy artillery.’

‘Impossible, I doubt the Xapiens ever sleep,’ Jody added.

‘Do you think there is a weapon effective against them,’ I asked.

Scott shook his head. ‘I don’t think so,’ he replied.

‘You are the president, you are supposed to have the solutions,’ Jody threw a shade at him.

He shook his head and stared at her. ‘Look who grew some balls overnight. You are just a mere PA. What do you know about the Xapiens and laws of engagement?’ he asked in a snobbish manner.

She chuckled. ‘It’s funny you asked that, because I was going to ask you the same question. Why your army lost a battle to an enemy who didn’t have weapons.’

I winked at her, endorsing her for standing up against the bully.

‘I think we should wait and see.’

‘Wait for what?’ The hall murmured in disagreement. Then uncontrollable exclamations of rage broke out from half the people in the room

‘Please calm down folks, and hear her out before you throw insults,’ Charles intervened.

‘We have to look at the big picture and try to figure out our adversary’s end game. Let’s wait for Gabriel and hear what he’s planning to do with us. Is he going to kill us? Are we going to be slaves? Or are they’re going to throw us out to planet Gadju?’

The crowd nodded in agreement amongst each other.

‘Who died and made you President. The last time I checked, I’m still the president,’ Scott said.

I ignored him and glanced around the hall.

‘What do you think guys, any suggestions?’

‘We have lost a battle, but we haven’t lost the war,’ Roger said. ‘I think we should wait and see and plan our strategy around that.’

I sensed the mood and tension in the room. I realized not everyone understood what I proposed and tried to clarify it.

‘When I suggested we wait. It doesn’t mean we have given up. It means we’re waiting for them to make a move, then we’ll make ours,’ I clarified. The mood lightened up in the hall. Then everyone went on their way and conversed with each other.

‘In the meantime, I will ask one of the Xapiens guards standing outside the hall for food and water.’

The crowd made a way for me as Charles and I strolled towards the door.

‘It’s good seeing you back to your old self again,’ he said.

I chuckled. ‘Scott wasn’t taking charge at all. I had to step up.’

He shook his head. ‘What a chump.’

‘Turning the helicopter around and saving me was noble of him.’

He shrugged. ‘Seeing you this confident gives me hope. We’ll get through this.’

‘I hope so too.’

Even though I convinced almost everyone to be patient. I wasn’t sure what to do. When the time comes. Are we going to hide from the Xapiens once we break out from prison? Are we going to submit to them as slaves? Are we going to fight them head on? I also wondered whether my people will accept my final decision and follow through.

I sighed as I clenched my right fist and banged the door.

‘What do you want?’ a voice asked from outside the hall.

‘It’s me Yolanda Roberts. Can you please open the door?’

‘We are not allowed to open the door. Say what you have to say,’ he said.

I shook my head. ‘I’d like to meet your leader. I need to talk to him.’

‘Alright,’ he said.

 

Chapter 81

At the presidential residence, Gabriel lay on his belly, half naked on the queen-sized bed, making moaning sounds.

‘You are doing it the way I like it, my love,’ he whispered.

Pamela rubbed his back gently, but firmly with herbal massage oil.

‘I knew you would like this,’ she said in low tone seductive voice.

‘I have never felt happy until this moment,’ he confessed.

‘You should, you deserve it.’

A knock came from the door. ‘Enter,’ he said.

A young female servant came inside and stood next to Pamela.

‘What can we do for you, young lady?’ she asked.

She bowed. ‘Yolanda would like to meet with you, my king,’ she said.

‘Thank you, you can go,’ he said. She turned and rushed out of the door.

‘No, you will not see that woman.’

‘Let me hear her out.’

‘Why do you keep on insisting on seeing her?’

‘It was Scott Adams who wanted us out of here not her. She has been nothing but good to us.’

‘She shook her head. Then stopped rubbing his back. ‘Did you sleep with her?’

‘What?’

‘You heard me the first time. Did you fuck her while you stayed at her house?’

‘No my love, I didn’t even touch her.’

‘Good. Don’t go to her then. Besides we have a lot of things to worry about.’

‘Such as?’

‘The future of the Xapiens tribe. What will you do with the humans? Should we kill them or send them to Gadju and meet our “friends”?’

‘I will decide that, not you. Do you understand?’ he barked.

Her heart skipped as she took few steps back.

‘Alright, do what you want. I was just trying to help.’

‘Don’t.’

‘Stick to your job of being a good wife, you are not my elder.’

She nodded. ‘Yes my king.’

 

Chapter 82

 

Back at the halls downtown. We were seated on the hard concrete floor. I whispered into his ear.

‘Maroon looks good on you.’

He chuckled. ‘How ironic, you designed them?’

She shrugged. ‘I’m just glad you are alive.’

‘I’m relieved we are all alive.’

‘The moment I realized it was Gabriel in the house. I ran away as fast as I could.

‘I hope you didn’t do, what you aren’t supposed to.’

‘Like?’

‘Sex?’

‘Hell no, I knew he was not you within the few minutes.’

‘That’s good to hear.’

I sighed. ‘That was close. I couldn’t bring myself and confess this to him. It would crush him,’ I thought.

‘You seem distant, what’s on your mind?’

‘Oh, nothing,’ I replied. ‘I wonder whether Gabriel is coming or not.’

‘He’ll come, don’t worry.’

The hall door made loud screeching sounds as it opened.

2 Xapiens men walked inside first, glanced around the hall. Then Gabriel stepped inside and strolled towards the crowd.

‘Where is Yolanda, is she in this hall or the other ones?’ I just want to have a word with her.’

As Gabriel strolled inside the hall, people cowered against the wall.

‘Go back home, go back home,’ they chanted.

I walked towards him and stared at him intently. I gestured they settle down by lifting my hands. The chanting stopped within few seconds.

Gabriel nodded. ‘I always knew you were a great leader but I cannot say the same thing about Scott Adams.’

‘Thank you for coming.’

‘You are welcome. Can we talk outside and touch base?’ he proposed.

‘I prefer we talk here in front of everyone,’ I argued.

He shrugged. ‘Suit yourself. Here I am, what do you want to talk about?’

‘You lied to us. You said you were tourists,’ I confronted him.

‘I never lied to you. I swear I did not,’ he replied.

‘Then why are we here in prison?’

He sighed. ‘We spent 3 years on earth together peacefully. Don’t blame me. He pointed at Scott. He is the reason for all this misunderstanding and chaos.’

‘Is there a possibility we could work this out?’ I asked.

‘He shook his head. ‘No, we cannot go back now or make peace with each other.’

I turned, glanced on everyone’s facial expression behind me. They looked defeated. At that moment. I knew we were at the Xapiens mercy, but I didn’t show fear. I turned back and glared at him.

‘What are you planning to do with us? Kill us?’ I asked.

He shook his head. ‘The elders thought that would be a good idea, but I have other plans for you.’

‘Spit it out.’

‘Appian is empty and boring right now. We miss you already.’

‘Can you get to the point?’

He shrugged. ‘I want you all to be under me and my people. You will be foot soldiers.’

I nodded. ‘That’s reasonable.’

‘You will not be paid with money, but food to keep you alive until you die.’

‘That’s not fair. We accepted you on earth with kindness and this is how you repay us?’

He shook his head. ‘I will tell you what is not fair,’ he shouted. ‘We handed you all our mineral resources which transformed Appian into a great place. And now that your stomachs are full, you break our agreement. When you no longer needed us. You gave us warnings to go back to Gadju.’

My eyes turned red and teary with the realization. He is right. I regretted the day I retained Scott Adams in my cabinet. Not only is he the reason for my impeachment. He is also responsible we are held as captives.

‘We apologize for every pain we have caused to your people.’

He shook his head. ‘I am afraid, it’s too late for that now.’ He snapped his fingers to his entourage. They turned and strolled towards the door.

‘Before you go, I have a question for you,’ Charles shouted.

‘Good Morning Charles. I almost did not see you there.’

‘What are you running away from at planet Gadju?’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Why did you run away from your planet?’

He shook his head. ‘You will never understand.’

‘Here on earth we never run away from our problems. We face them, unlike your people?’

Gabriel’s face boiled. ‘Did your wife tell you what we used to do in the bedroom while she thought I was you?’ he bragged as he swung his waist.

‘You bastard,’ he shouted as he charged towards Gabriel with a burst of anger, but the Xapiens men stopped and pushed him back before he could come near him.

Gabriel kissed his right palm and blew it towards me.

‘Let’s go warriors, I’m done here.’ They exited. The men locked the hall with huge locks and stood by the door.

I covered my face with my hands in shame. Now my business was out there in the open. I didn’t mind or cared what other people thought of me. I didn’t wish to see Charles’s face at that moment. I felt a hand touching me. I removed my hands from my face and looked. It was Jody.

‘Everything is going to be alright. Almost everyone had the same dilemma. They fooled all us all,’ she said.

I stretched and wrapped my arms around Jody and squeezed tightly.

‘Oh Jody, I don’t know what to do,’ I cried as I leaned my face against the soft comforts of her small bosoms.

‘It’s alright, let it go,’ she tapped my back gently.

I poured my heart out. The people in the hall co-grieved with me as if we were in a funeral. I felt someone tapping my shoulder. I turned around abruptly and saw Charles.

My lips moved, trying to explain but no words came out from my mouth.

‘It’s alright, I understand,’ he whispered into my ear.

Our arms wrapped around each other as we cuddled affectionately as if no one else was around.

‘Wait, I have something to say,’ I whispered.

‘Now?’

‘Yes to everyone.’ I wiped tears from my eyes with the back of my right hand.

There was no way in hell, I’d be a foot soldier. I tasted power at the top and I planned on staying there. Fear got hold of me, captured and entombed me. I felt fighting and dying would be better than to submit as foot soldiers. Facing the dark depths of Xapiens imagination was out of the picture.

‘Can I have your attention please,’ I shouted. Everyone turned their heads and moved closer to me.

‘We all heard what Gabriel said, right?’ They replied by nodding.

‘That bastard just threatened all of us. We have to fight back, because this is not the end of Appian, this is just the beginning. We tragically lost a lot of soldiers last night. I assure you nothing bad will happen to you, your friends and family, because we will survive. And live to see another day.’ Everyone in the Hall roared as they clapped.

‘I’m sure they have a soft spot, a weakness, a kryptonite or something. And we have to find out what is it and use it against them.’

Charles whispered into my ear. ‘I’m not sure, but I think their weakness is back at planet Gadju.’

‘I hear you, but what is it?’ I said. ‘We are running out of time.’

 

Chapter 83

 

It was the first day of the raining season at Planet Gadju. Heavy rains fell hard day and night without any sign of slowing down. Heavy winds blew aggressively from all directions. The cracking of tree branches sounded like fireworks. The animal kingdom went into hibernation. The sky was so dark without the stars, it felt like there was no other planet outside Gadju.

Suddenly the sky flashed and turned blue. It flickered back to dark. Then turned blue again like nightclub lights. The ground vibrated and shook, as if there was something humungous about to come out from underground. Wild roaring engines sounded from the sky. A small blue light gleamed in the sky. The light grew bigger as it flew down. The blue flying object turned into a silver gigantic saucer with small windows and landed on the battleground. The engines switched off, then the door opened.

Terrifying shrieking sounds came from inside the spacecraft like it was full of giant cockroaches crawling and eating in a trash dump.

The figures stepped out and strolled down the stairway of the spacecraft like they knew their way around: they were reptilian aliens. The color of their skin was dark grey. A hideous silk colorless jelly liquid oozed from their bald head and faces. Their physique was similar to humans, they had 2 arms and legs and walked normal except they had long tails that touched the ground. Their heads were oval-shaped like a rugby ball, eyes were big, round and black. Their huge sharp teeth made it difficult for their mouths to close. A thick and sticky saliva dripped from their teeth like they were starving. Hakas stepped out of the spacecraft. The males went and stood on the right side and females stood to the left side until everyone was out of the spacecraft. They faced each other as they created a formation, a line and rows, side by side. The male Hakas had a big and lean frame, and females had a small frame with small breasts. The male and female Hakas on the first and second rows were not randomly placed on those positions; they were the strongest. The females in the front row strolled towards males in the first row. As they approached closer, males breathed heavily and more saliva came out of their mouths. They sniffed the males’ necks and faces, searching for a suitable mating partner. Some females couldn’t find them on the first row, they passed to the second and so on. The second and third row did the same until every Haka had its mating partner. The females sat and lay on the wet muddy ground, then opened their legs at the same time. Male Hakas lay between the female hakas legs. The mating session started slowly then gained momentum. Thrusting with a wild chilling passion, grinding, penetrating. Their buttocks worked hard like a machine, pumping without thought or tenderness. It was like an orgy festival. Their moaning sounded like they were screaming like a chattering of a hoard of insects. Their thrusts were hard and quick, they came within 20 seconds. The mating rounds continued until the break of dawn. The males went into deep sleep for 3 days and nights on the battle ground as the heavy rainfall sputtered on them.

When they woke up 3 days later. They discovered their mating partners have given birth to new born Hakas. They grew up quickly from breastfeeding. They were waist-high in height, but needed specific protein nutrients to be fully grown Hakas. The males shrieked from a distance and the mothers put the newborns down to the ground and made their first walk. The mothers pushed them towards their fathers. They dragged and shuffled their feet in hesitation towards the males. They glanced back at their mothers repetitively until they stood next to their fathers.

The proud dad look crossed on the male hakas’ faces as they strolled inside the woods. They conversed in shrieks and cryptic language. Their pace increased, they ran and disappeared into the woods. The female Hakas turned around, went back inside the spaceship and waited for their partners and fully grown children.

Daylight faded slowly. Hakas and the new borns hunted and hunted without any sign, scent, and footprint trail of its prey. The newborns grew weaker. Then dropped to the ground, gasping and shrieking in pain for food. Some of the new borns couldn’t go on. They lay helplessly on the wet and muddy ground. Some of the impatient Hakas left their newborns behind. Some tried to pull them up, but they were too frail to walk a step further. They died. Their hearts were filled with grief and sorrow. Hakas cried uncontrollably. They knelt and picked them and rushed back to the spaceship.

Some of the Hakas carried on stubbornly and searched around planet Gadju, but found nothing. The female Hakas felt something was wrong with their newborns. They rushed out of the spaceship and saw bodies of their babies lay helplessly on their father’s hands. They ran towards them, grabbed their new borns and inserted teats on their mouths in an attempt to resuscitate them. Some of them woke up from unconsciousness and others didn’t make it. They carried them back to the spaceship, making horrifying screaming sounds while the males remained outside.

The second group of the Hakas arrived carrying dead new borns and entered the spaceship, but were chased out because of their failure to provide. Powerless, shattered and overwhelmed with feelings of grief. One of the last male Hakas came out of the spaceship, shrieking louder than anyone else like he was about to say something in a shrieking language.

‘I know where the Gadjus are,’ he shouted.

They turned around abruptly and stared at him blankly.

‘Where are they?’ a voice asked amongst them.

‘There is a chance they are hiding in planet earth?’

‘Where is that?’

‘Far away.’

‘How do you know all this?’

‘My father works at a breeding lab, he once told me.’

‘What are we waiting for? Let’s go and feed our newborns.’

‘Wait, we are not allowed to go there.’

‘Why? Our new borns are dying we need to save them.’

‘We are foot soldiers. We are not allowed to pass through the portal except the ones working at the breeding lab.’

‘I do not have time for this. Show us where this portal is.’

‘I cannot reveal that detail. Our queen Djiouf has to approve our journey.’

‘Who is Djiouf? Time is running out let’s go,’ they shouted as they grabbed the Haka, pulling and forcing him to walk with them.

 

 Chapter 84

As Gabriel lay his head on Pamela’s lap, his eyes gazed at the ceiling intently. He crossed his feet over the arm of the sofa.

‘How was your meeting?’ she asked.

He shrugged. It was alright,’ he replied.

‘What happened?’

‘I think they have accepted their fate.’

‘That is good to hear, but you look worried.’

‘You know me too well my love.’

‘What is it?’

‘I have a bad feeling, something is wrong,’ he revealed.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I think we are in danger.’

‘From what or who?’

‘I don’t know, it’s just a feeling.’

‘Humans are locked up and can’t pose any danger to us.’

He jumped up from the sofa and stared at Pamela. She stared back at him and noticed the fear from the depths of his eyes.

‘It is not the humans. I am talking about the Hakas.’

Her heart pounded faster. Then put her right hand on the chest.

‘That’s impossible, unless they find the portal and walk through it.

He shook his head and sighed like he knew from within, his fate was sealed. The Xapiens hearing was so sharp they could sense an enemy looming far away.

‘Did you hear that?’ she asked.

‘Yes I did, I hope it is not what I think it is.’

A VIVID HORRIFYING & TRAGIC MEMORY FLASHED BACK TO GABRIEL.

The warriors roared wildly as they charged towards the hideous, 2 legged creatures, and 2 meters tall. They appeared naked, their silky grey skin was covered in color less sticky jelly like substance. They had a human-like frame, 2 hands and 2 legs and feet but their heads and faces looked like they were reptilian aliens. Their teeth were similar to a shark in the sea.

The Hakas and the Xapiens army collided at the center of the battleground like 2 bulls. Swords and spears thrust deep into the flesh of the Hakas with precision. As the swords and spears were pulled out, they were covered in a green and glowing liquid.

It was the Hakas’ blood and some dropped down dead in an instant and some carried on.

Gabriel ducked and blocked the sharp claws of his enemy with his shield. Then he heard a horrifying scream from one of his warrior. A scream that would haunt him for the rest of his life. He glanced helplessly around him, witnessing the Hakas ripping his warriors’ necks, flesh, and limbs from their bodies. Their sharp teeth devoured the human flesh as if they hadn’t eaten in months. Their favorite parts were organs in the stomach, the intestines, liver, kidneys, lungs and the heart.

‘What kind of Bloody Savages are these?’ he shouted as he fought with all his might.

‘I will not die like this and suffer the same fate as my warriors.’

The Hakas broke the formation of the Xapiens’ offensive formation as they killed more warriors. Petrified and disorientated, the warriors’ fighting skills went outside the window, they scattered to different directions. Young warriors cowardly sprinted out of the battleground. Thousands of newborns Hakas chased and pounced on the young warriors, ripping their flash out and killing them instantly. Some fed on their prey, some played and wrestled with each other.

Gabriel noticed no one covered him on the sides and behind him. His generals were nowhere in sight, but charged forward anyway. He swung heavy blows to his enemies and struck them down to the ground mercilessly.

‘Offense, Son of Gadju, Offense,’ He shouted as his sword decapitated his enemy. The green bloody head rolled like a soccer ball on the ground. Most of the warriors heard him, but they struggled to stick to the strategy. They were outnumbered, defensive and fighting for their lives.

The Hakas noticed Gabriel was the strongest warrior amongst the Xapiens. They avoided him and went for the easy kills. This gave him a breathing space and time to think on his feet about his current predicament. A short distance away, he noticed and glared at one of the Hakas who stood still. His arms were crossed. He stood out from the rest because he was almost 3 meters tall, bigger frame than the rest of his species. And his eyes glanced around as he nodded. Gabriel shook his head in disbelief. ‘He must be their leader,’ he said to himself.

‘You cannot just stand there, fold your arms and not fight,’ he shouted. Then he pointed his sword to him. ‘Only weak men do that. Then again you are not a man. You are an animal.’

The Haka leader made a loud shrieking sound. All the Hakas stopped fighting, turned around and looked at him. The Hakas shifted to the sides as they opened a way that led to their leader. The Haka leader waved at him and pointed to the ground, signaling him to come and stand next to him.

Gabriel sprinted towards him, jumped, and pulled out a knife from his waist as he flung in the air and swung it and slashed his enemy’s chest. His sharp knife couldn’t penetrate the flesh on his chest. It merely pricked him. The Haka leader couldn’t feel a thing as Gabriel threw punches. Then paused, gasping for air.

‘We are a peaceful nation, why are we fighting in the first place?’ Gabriel asked. ‘Is it about the land or territory? I have never seen you here before, what is your problem?’

The Haka leader shook his head.

‘Shut up, Gadju. You’re nothing but a snack,’ said the leader in a deep auto-tuned voice.

‘I am not a Gadju, I AM Ga…’ Gabriel was interrupted before he could finish his name. The Haka leader slapped him with a back of his left hand. Gabriel flung up in the air helplessly then crashed down the dark muddy hill. He fell unconscious as his body rolled down and stopped next to the river. A small landslide rolled down the hill and covered his body in an instant and some of it slid over him to the river.

‘Go finish him off,’ he commanded. ‘He talks too much.’

The young Hakas dashed down the hill. Their eyelids fluttered around with enthusiasm, but they couldn’t find him nor trace his scent even though one of them stood on top of his body next to the river.

When they couldn’t find him, they sprinted back to the surface and feasted.

The color of the grass on the battleground was red, as more than 99, 000 warriors perished, limbs and lifeless bodies scattered all over the ground. It was a bloody massacre. The rest of the newborn Hakas joined in to the party as they devoured the body organs as if it was their favorite food. Less than a thousand Xapien warriors left, retreated from the battleground and ran for their lives cutting deep into the woods landscape. It seemed the young Hakas haven’t had enough, they chased the Xapiens warriors down the forest. Cries of sorrow and agony was heard from deep in the woods as the sound echoed in the mountains and everyone in the village heard them.

 

An hour later, Gabriel screamed. ‘Aaaaaaargghh.’

3-feet underground. He struggled to get up from the hard and heavy mud on top of him. He pushed his right hand out. Then his left hand pushed out. For the next 30 minutes, he struggled to push himself and finally dug himself out.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he stood and looked around.

‘Now where are my weapons?’ he murmured as his knees dropped to the ground and dunked his hands onto the mud until he found his sword and shield. As he climbed uphill, he noticed there was no sound coming from the battleground.

‘Very strange,’ he whispered.

In a heartbeat, a humungous spaceship with green lights on its base flew higher as its engine sounded like a vacuum but more gentle. As the spaceship stopped in the air, it almost covered the sky and the Gadju forest was lit up in blue and suddenly it disappeared out of thin air. Gabriel waved at it.

‘Where are you going, come back.’ he shouted. ‘What was that?’ he shook his head. He reached the surface of the battleground. His sword and shield dropped to the ground when his eyes witnessed the sight of the carnage. His knees dropped to the ground, tears welled down his cheeks. His mind flashed back to the last thing he remembered.

‘I remember standing in front of that fool.’ He stood up, threaded lightly in between their lifeless bodies in respect of his fallen warriors.

‘Why did they not also take my life?’ he shouted his lungs out. A picture of his wife, flashed across his eyes.

‘Pamela,’ he whispered.

He sprinted out of the battleground as he entered the forest, jumping over cut down trees and rivers. He heard ululating sounds from his village. His heart shrunk because he knew what it meant. As he arrived in his village, he witnessed everyone rolling on the ground, mourning the loss of their loved ones. The mourners were not aware of his presence as he walked towards his royal house. He entered his house. He saw his wife buried under the cowhides, crying uncontrollably. He tapped her on the back gently.

‘Pamela,’ he whispered.

She turned around and jumped. She threw the cowhides to the sides and looked up.

‘Ooh, Gabriel,’ she shouted. Then wrapped her arms around him.

‘I told you, I will come back.’

‘I know, but I thought I would never you see you again.’

She took the cowhides and covered themselves. Gabriel usually slept not more than 3 hours, but this time, he went in a deep slumber for the whole night.

‘I will not let you take me alive, you filthy creatures,’ Gabriel murmured under his breath.

‘My love, are you alright?’ He recognized Pamela’s voice in his dream and slid out of it. His eyelids fluttered opened

‘Calm down, It was just a dream,’ she assured him.

His right hand wiped the sweat off his face. Then stood up and stretched his arms as he yawned.

‘Are you starving?’ she asked. ‘I can make you a delicious sorghum porridge.’

‘I would appreciate that my love,’ he replied.

‘Go outside and I will call you when everything is ready’

As he strolled out of his house, he noticed one of his generals waving at him. They shook hands and hugged. He looked exhausted and disorientated as his eyes glanced all over the place guarding the royal house.

I sighed. ‘Son of Gadju, what really happened there at the battleground?’

‘The last time I saw you was when that filthy creature hit you and rolled downhill and when those things followed you. I thought they would finish you off.’

‘Go on, I am all ears.’

‘One the generals instructed us to retreat because we were obviously fighting a losing battle.’

‘I think I would have done the same thing,’ Gabriel said.

‘Our problem was not that they were stronger than us. The problem was we did not know who our enemy was.’

‘Carry on.’

‘On our way back, the hakas chased us and most of our warriors were killed not far from here and they proceeded to the village.’

‘How could the warriors lead those filthy creatures to our people?’

‘I know, but everything happened so fast. They killed almost half of our tribe.’

‘What have I done to my people?’

‘My leader, I do not think you should be hard on yourself.’

‘Why?’

‘Even if you fought till the end. I think we would have suffered the same fate.’

‘You know, when I woke up buried underground, I asked myself why I did not die on the battleground with my warriors.’

‘Something tells me they were going to wipe us all out. Until we heard a loud musical sound similar to a horn. They stopped and headed back towards the direction of the sound up north.’

‘How many of our people have we lost?’

‘A lot, but I will confirm everything before dusk breaks.’

‘I would appreciate that.’ The general tapped his shoulder and pointed his index finger towards the royal house.

‘I think your wife needs you.’ Gabriel turned around and saw Pamela standing by the door waving at him.

‘I am glad you are alive and well, I will see you later.’

‘I am also relieved you are alive, my king.’

 

Later that evening, the Xapiens tribe gathered around the big fire as Gabriel stood next to it facing everyone.

‘It is with great tragedy that we have lost many of our people and I am very angry I was not warned about the Hakas’ capabilities. If we do not stop this carnage in the next 2 to 3 rainy seasons, I am afraid the Xapiens will be extinct!’

One of the elders stood as he sighed. ‘Since the beginning of time, the Hakas came into Gadju and feasted on the Xapiens.’

‘WHY?’ Gabriel asked.

‘That is a mystery, I wish I knew.’

The second elder stood up and bowed slightly. ‘Our forebear, ‘JukuJuku’ is said to have fought the Hakas for 35 raining seasons. No other Xapiens warrior leader ever survived more than 2.’

‘He must have been a great fighter to survive that long?’ Gabriel said.

‘Legend is, he was not from a Xapiens tribe,’ he said. ‘They say he came from a planet far away from ours and the Hakas feared him.’

‘Did he live until old age?’ he asked.

‘His generals murdered him and his family in their sleep.’

‘There is nothing else we can do except wait for our turn to be slaughtered by these filthy creatures. What have we done to deserve this? When is this going to end? Gabriel glanced around and waited for someone to add something. Instead they stared back at him helplessly. Lost for words, he looked up at the gleaming stars on the black sky. Tears dripped down on his face like raindrops flowing down the window.

 

Chapter 85

 

 The Hakas smelt blood of the Xapiens as they walked through the portal.

‘They are here, I can feel it.’

They clenched their fists, sharp claws came out of their knuckles. They charged and sprinted towards the city with determination and vengeance. The female Hakas carried their newborns on their backs as they followed and strolled the wormhole. They couldn’t afford not to feed the newborns the protein they need. They’d be deformed for life.

An elder standing on top of a building saw them from a mile away as thousands of them sprinted towards the city.

‘The Hakas are here. Run for your lives,’ he shouted.

All the Xapiens in Appian heard the distress call. They dropped everything and ran to their hideouts. Their fighting skills they showed during the battle with the military was useless. They couldn’t match the Hakas. The fastest Haka pounced on to a Xapiens woman’s back. It slit her throat, killing her instantly. Blood splattered on the road as it slashed her belly open and inserted his hand. He pulled out the intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs and heart and devoured them. The hakas pounced on more Xapiens in the city center. These starving beasts proceeded as if they were feasting on seven courses with no hope of another meal. The emergency siren sounded as the pandemonium continued.

 

Chapter 86

 

A siren sounded outside. We rushed towards the window and peered. I saw the Xapiens guards running away.

‘What the hell is going on out there?’ I asked.

‘The city is under attack. The last time the siren sounded was 50 years ago during the civil war,’ Scott replied.

‘They must free us, so we can also fight,’ I said.

‘Judging by the look of things, the Xapiens seem to be running away from something.’

‘Really?’

Scott nodded. ‘Come take a look here.’

I moved closer and took a peek. Xapien women and men with a petrified look on their faces sprinted down the road with their children.

‘Very strange,’ I said.

‘Maybe they are fighting each other,’ Jody added.

‘Or maybe they are under attack, from whatever they ran away from at planet Gadju,’ Charles said.

 

Chapter 87

 

Watching from the window of the bedroom at the presidential residence. Gabriel shook his head as he witnessed his people slaughtered in the city. Tears welled from his eyes, overwhelmed with emotions. Pamela lay on her back in bed as she sobbed quietly.

‘Don’t blame yourself, there is nothing you could have done,’ she tried to console him.

‘I could have closed and destroyed the portal.’

‘I have an idea,’ she said.

‘What is it?’

‘Let Yolanda and her people free.’

‘Why?’

‘They would be decoys. The Hakas will eat them instead of us, while we hide in one of the ghost towns forever.’

He nodded. ‘It could work.’

He stormed out of the bedroom and slammed the door. Pamela jumped out of bed and locked the door.

Few hours later, the male hakas brought the harvested human organs to their partners.

The female Hakas fed their newborns and there was enough for everyone including the mothers.

As the newborns ate, they grew inches and inches higher until they reached the same height as their fathers. Muscles developed on their limbs, claws showed, then grew to its full size. The male and female Hakas nodded then shrieked louder in celebration. Everyone in Appian heard the horrifying sound. The females and new borns stomachs growled as they charged towards the city center.

 

 Chapter 88

 

‘What was that creepy sound?’ I asked. Confusion crossed on our faces.

‘I have never heard that sound before,’ Scott said.

‘It sounded like insects,’ Jody said.

‘Yeah more like roaches or those hideous insects,’ I said.

The chains on the hall doors and locks sounded. The door unlocked and opened. Gabriel stormed inside, gasping, sweat dripping from his face. His lips moved but couldn’t utter a single word.

‘Gabriel, what is going on outside?’ Scott asked.

‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost,’ I said.

‘I don’t have time to explain everything I came to tell you. You are all free. You can free everyone else on the other halls,’ he gasped. Then threw a bunch of keys to the soldiers.

The crowd cheered as they stormed out of the hall and unlocked all the halls down the road.

Scott grabbed Gabriel’s arm as he tried to run away.

‘Not so fast pow. You have a lot of explaining to do,’ he said.

‘Yes, we need answers now,’ I said.

He nodded. ‘What do you want to know?’ he asked.

‘I thought we were going to be your ‘foot soldiers. What changed your mind?’ I inquired.

‘They found us.’

‘Who?’

‘The Hakas.’

‘Gabriel, who are the Hakas and why are they after you?’

‘They are reptilian aliens.’

‘FUCK! I don’t believe this. I have to go and gather all the soldiers left,’ Scott said as he ran out of the hall.

‘Please tell me you are joking,’ I screamed at him.

He shook his head. ‘Every year they come at Gadju to kill us and harvest the insides of my people.’

‘Are you saying they’re going kill and eat us all?’ Charles shouted at him.

He nodded.

‘Do you see the damage you have caused?’

His eyes turned red and teary as he knelt on the floor.

‘Get up, please,’ I commanded.

‘Help us kill them all. I promise, we will go back to Gadju in peace,’ he proposed.

I shook my head. ‘My fingers have been burnt too many times.’

‘Yes, we can’t help you sir, excuse me.’

Charles pushed Gabriel to the side, then we walked towards the door.

‘We saved your people. Our minerals made Appian prosper and this is the thanks we get?’

I turned and looked at him. ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. Help yourself and your people.’

‘They are coming.’ he shook his head and sprinted out of the hall.

As Jody, Charles and I strolled out of the hall. We saw a hideous beast eating the insides of a dead Xapien man rapidly, pulling it apart, sucking, tearing, rending. I froze to the sight and before I could think.

I felt a crushing pain bolt through over me. I was knocked off my feet by something with the force of a tackling line-backer or a hooker in rugby.

 3 Hakas appeared out of nowhere and pounced on them vigorously. As they lay unconscious on the ground, the Hakas sniffed them from head to their feet. Their thick sticky saliva’s dripped on to their faces and clothes. The more Hakas sniffed them, the more they sneezed uncontrollably. It appeared something deterred them from harvesting organs of earthlings. Instead they growled and barked at them. Then ran away.

Army tanks, helicopters with shooters, bombers pointed at the Hakas and discharged. The Hakas managed to dodge the missiles but couldn’t escape the cocktail of bullets penetrating their skin. Unlike the Xapiens, their wounds didn’t close and heal. Scott tapped one of the helicopter shooter’s shoulder and nodded.

‘Well done, Soldier,’ he shouted. ‘Let’s kill them all. We are back.’

More hakas were blasted and blown away by bombs.

 

Chapter 89

 

I snapped out of unconsciousness. Missiles and projectiles flew over me and bomb strikes sounded louder. I glanced at Charles and Jody on the ground.

‘Eeuuww, what is that horrible smell,’ I said. Then turned and knelt in between them. I placed my index fingers on the side of their necks and nodded.

‘Thank God, they are alive.’

I tapped on their chests repetitively. ‘Wake up guys, I can’t do this alone.’ Jody’s eyelids opened, then Charles’s eyelids fluttered open.

‘What happened?’ Jody asked.

‘I don’t know. I woke up stinking like I was dipped in a sewage drain,’ I replied.

‘I think we were attacked by the aliens,’ he added.

‘Then why didn’t they eat us?’ Jody asked.

I shrugged. ‘Maybe we’re not their favorite snack.’

I grabbed their hands and pulled them up and ran. It’s still a matter of wonder how these beasts were able to slay Xapiens with ease and not us?

 

 

 

 

 Chapter 90

 

Appian roads and streets were painted red and green with the blood of the Xapiens and Hakas respectively. The Xapiens population decreased at the same rapid rate as the Hakas. The carnage continued until dusk broke out. Gabriel’s life flashed before his eyes. Flashbacks of the battle with the Hakas played on his mind. Witnessing his people and warriors slaughtered for no apparent reason.

He stood in the middle of the crossroad in surrender, as 3 Hakas charged towards him 100 meters away. He lifted his hands in the air and sighed.

‘Why are these beasts feeding on my people?’ he asked. There are so many tasty animals at forest Gadju, why us?’ he asked himself. He didn’t care anymore with the realization. No matter where they hide, the Hakas will find them.

As the Hakas were about to pounce on him, a loud shrieking siren sounded from the sky. The ground vibrated until a gigantic saucer appeared from above. Orange and white lights on the side of the roads turned blue as the spaceship landed on the playground.

 

 Chapter 91

 

‘What the hell was that?’ Charles asked.

‘Now that was an alien spaceship,’ I said.

‘What is it doing here?’ Jody asked.

We shrugged in confusion as we witnessed All the Hakas and Xapiens in Appian stopped what they were doing, stood still and froze. Then they turned around at the same time. And faced towards the playground.

My lower jaw dropped as we watched from an apartment window in the city center.

‘Please tell me, I didn’t imagine that?’ Jody asked.

‘No, we all saw it,’ Charles replied.

They walked, stopped and turned like they were robots or zombies,’ I said.

‘Let’s go down on the ground and find out what’s really happening down there,’ he suggested.

My heart pounded. I grabbed his hand and pulled him back.

‘Please don’t go, I don’t want to lose you again, we are safe here.’

‘She is right Charles. We can see all the action from here.’

He pulled away and stormed out of the door.

‘Come back you idiot. Why men never listen?’ I barked.

Another loud shrieking sounded from the spaceship. A foreign cryptic voice shouted. The voice sounded like it was saying

‘Bleeep, bleeep, bleeep, bleeep.’

The Hakas and Xapiens formed a random formation in lines and rows as they strolled towards the spacecraft. Their eyelids never blinked as if they were sleep walking. Humans around the city came out of their hideouts and stood on the pavements and watched them walking towards the playground and followed them. Jody looked at me.

‘Do you notice anything familiar?’ I asked.

She nodded and smiled. ‘Yeah, the Xapiens were in this zombie mode, when I followed them.’

‘They look like they have been programmed,’ a voice interrupted from behind.

We turned and looked back, it was Charles. ‘Welcome back, did you find what you were looking for,’ I asked in a sarcastic tone. He shook his head.

‘They caught me before I could uncover what they were up to,’ Jody said.

‘Yes Jody, you’ve already told me that.’

‘Where were they heading to?’

‘The moon.’

‘The moon?’

‘Yes, they stared at it for about 2 hours.’

‘That doesn’t make sense,’ he said.

‘Maybe their spaceship was stationed at the moon.’

Jody sighed. ‘I’m glad this is almost over.’

‘I’ll believe that when that humongous saucer disappears into outer space forever.’

‘Yolanda, Charles and Jody,’ a voice said from behind. They turned and saw Scott with the soldiers.

‘Good evening Scott,’ she said.

‘It looks like we are winning,’ he bragged. He pointed through the window.

‘Look at them they have surrendered.’

We looked at each other and burst out laughing.

‘That’s good Scott, well done,’ I said.

‘Can I talk to you somewhere please,’ he requested.

I shrugged. ‘No problem, we strolled out of the apartment and stood on the corridor.

‘Look, I did a lot of introspection while we were locked up in that hall. I realized I underestimated your leadership skills and bribed the cabinet to impeach you.’

I shook my head, but I was not surprised. ‘I know.’

‘For that, I apologize.’

‘It’s water under the bridge, apology accepted.’

‘If you want to be the president again. Just say the word.’

‘Nah, I’m way past that, it’s your job now.’

He breathed a sigh of relief. ‘The Xapiens almost had us there.’

I nodded. ‘That was very close, but I still have a lot of unanswered questions. No matter how random the universe could seem at times. This was no random event. No chance in hell.’

He shrugged. ‘All I know is, I’m glad those alien beasts came in and saved the day. Jesus did you see how ugly they are.’

As the last row of Xapiens and Hakas entered the spaceship. The engines switched on but the entrance door didn’t close.

 

‘What did we miss?’ I asked as we strolled inside with Scott.

‘The saucer is about to take off, but the door hasn’t closed yet,’ Charles said.

‘YOLANDA ROBERTS, ENTER THE SPACESHIP NOW,’ an automated female sounded from the saucer.

My heart thumped erratically. I felt my knees going weak. The last time I felt like that. I was forced to participate in a beauty pageant at high school by my teachers and parents.

Scott put his hand on my shoulder.

‘I will not allow them to take you. My men will make sure of it.’

Charles and Jody hugged me at the same time.

‘Don’t go there,’ she said.

‘They will kill you,’ Charles said.

‘She is not going anywhere,’ Scott added.

‘YOLANDA ROBERTS, ENTER THE SPACESHIP NOW,’ the automated female announced again.

A creeping cold fear gripped my heart. ‘I don’t think they will leave without me,’ I sobbed.

‘They came without you. Why do they want to take you with them?’ she asked.

‘Scott, please tell them to open the way for me. I am going inside that ship,’ I demanded.

‘Are you crazy,’ Charles cried.

‘Are you sure about this?’ Scott asked.

I nodded. ‘Yes, I’m willing to sacrifice myself for Appian.’

‘Make a way for her,’ Scott demanded.

The soldiers made a way for me as I walked out of the apartment. Everyone accompanied me out of the building towards the playground. Then rushed towards the spacecraft leaving them behind me. I didn’t want to look back. I couldn’t bear to look at Charles’s face. I had to do it.

I became aware that I’d been changed that day, irrevocably transformed into someone I no longer recognized. I grew up from the person I used to be.

‘This is the last time I’m putting myself in predicaments like these. If I survive this, I will always put my husband first and hopefully start a family later on,’ I said.

I passed more bodies on my way to the entrance of the spacecraft. I felt nauseous every time I took a glance at them. I nodded to the people on the pavement waving at me. Overwhelmed with emotions, I wondered whether I will ever see them again. I took the first steps up the stairway and noticed 2 figures wearing yellow quarantine clothing standing by the door.

‘There is no turning back now,’ I murmured.

I greeted by nodding at the masked quarantine personnel. Then they nodded back. I stepped inside the spaceship and felt the door close behind me.

I waited for them as they clicked on the keyboard of a huge computer next to the entrance and murmured an alien language to each other. They switched off the computer. Then escorted me to a corridor which was divided into 2 passages.

The left passage had a ‘Compartments’ sign on it and the right passage had a ‘Breeding lab’ sign on it. One of them pointed at the breeding lab passage. My eyes darted at the interior; floor, wall and ceiling. I noticed small drones and CCTV cameras following me. The hideous smell of the shining marble floors, reminded me of the smell inside the hospital or my doctor’s office. It used to make me throw up, but strangely I didn’t. I heard the men or aliens behind me breathing through the pipes. Their heavy inhaling and exhaling sounded like death is coming. On the left side of the wall, a white door appeared out of nowhere and had a name ‘Djiouf’ displayed on it. The personnel pointed at the door, signaling I enter. They turned and walked away without saying a word.

‘Aren’t you going to walk in with me? I didn’t even get your names.’ I shrugged. I looked at the name displayed. ‘Who is Djiouf?’ I guess there’s only one way to find out. I tilted the door knob anti-clockwise, opened and entered. It was another corridor, it had a black shiny floor, walls, and over 30-something flat screen TVs on both sides of the wall. The corridor was narrower than the previous one. I saw the white door 50 meters away. As I strolled towards it, the Flat screen TVs switched on. Footage of myself appeared on all the screens. The footage showed my days as an intern at NASA, the documents I leaked to the Russians, the ups and downs of my trip to the Black hole and private moments with Charles at the Oblivion Island. The footage showed my journeys, triumphs and challenges. My face turned pale as I watched on.

‘Am I dead?’

‘Is this heaven?’

‘Most of these moments were private. How did they get hold of this?’ I said. There is no chance there were cameras there.’

The last Flat screen TV showed me leaving Charles behind on my way to the saucer. I saw his facial expression. I didn’t want to watch it all. My eyes turned red and teary as I stood by the door. I felt the same feeling he felt when he disappeared. God, he was distraught with grief. I took a long deep sighing breath. Then I wiped the tears with the back of my right hand. I clenched my right fist and knocked on the door 3 times.

 

Chapter 92

 

‘You can come in now,’ a female voice said from inside.

When I stepped inside. I didn’t notice anything peculiar until I closed the door. Then turned round. My lower jaw dropped as my heart sank. I took steps back until I hit my back against the door. My body trembled reacting to the horrific sight in front of me. I tried to run away, I turned around but the door disappeared.

‘Let me out,’ I shouted. Then I banged the concrete wall with my fists repetitively.

‘Calm down, there is nothing to be afraid of,’ she said.

I stopped and turned around slowly as I covered my face with hands.

‘Forgive me, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.’

‘It is alright, I have always been like this for the past 45 000 years.’

‘What?’ I exclaimed and removed my hands and looked at her.

Her long silk black hair reached her waist, it looked glamorous as if she went to a hair salon every day. She had a long thin white pale face. Her radiating small brown twinkling eyes looked so innocent like the eyes of a sheltered child which was never allowed to play outside the house with other kids until she went to university. She was full-bosomed and her flat stomach and muscles on her arms made her look like she was a gym rat.

‘How can she have a great body like that without working out?’ I thought.

Her upper body was perfect. She had a long silky disgusting crocodile/dragon spiral-shaped tail. More than 1000 thin transparent cords were inserted into the pores of her tail. A white liquid substance came out of it to the mouths of thousands of babies’ mouths. They sucked from a nipple made from rubber, hanging half an inch from the babies’ mouths. The babies looked like they were not older than a week old.

‘Anyway it’s a pleasure finally meeting you.’

I nodded in hesitation. ‘Thank you.’

‘You are well known around the galaxy. Xotron told me all about you.’

‘Wow, you know Xotron. It’s a small world indeed.’

‘Why are standing so far away, come closer.’

I sighed as I walked towards her. ‘You must be Djiouf.’

‘Yes I am and I am willing to answer any question you might have.’

‘Why did you ask for me, out of all the people in Appian?’ I inquired.

‘You are the leader of Appian. Besides that’s the least I could do after my children nearly took over your planet,’ she revealed.

At that moment, I felt like Djiouf was luring me to a dangerous trap. The slithering tail reminded me of lifestyles of Anacondas on the National geographic channel. Is she going to strangle, swallow me or feed me to the alien babies?

‘Come closer, we have a lot to talk about.’

I strolled and stood in front of her. ‘I don’t know where to start.’

‘I have all the time in the world.’

‘Why do you look like this?’

‘I was born this way.’

‘Really?’

‘I am half-Xapien and half-alien.’

‘That sounds hectic.’

’45 000 years ago during the mating season. My father couldn’t find a matching mating partner. Instead he forced himself on my mother.’

‘Did you grow up here in the ship?’

‘No, in Gadju.’

‘It must have been tough on you?’

‘You have no idea. My mother was banished from the village after I was born.’

‘How did you end up in this ship?’

‘When I was 3, the aliens found my mother’s hideout in the forest. They killed and harvested her organs.’

‘What did they do with you?’

‘They couldn’t eat me. I was half-alien. Instead they took me to the ship and raised me there. My guardians said I was too special and precious and I became a queen.’

‘Who are the Xapiens? Where do they really come from?’

‘From planet earth.’

‘You got to be kidding me, right?’

‘Where do you think they come from then?’

‘From a parallel universe, where else?’

Djiouf shook her head. ‘As the Reptilian alien population increased at an alarming rate. Food became scarcer around the galaxy.’

I nodded. ‘Go on.’

‘We built a portal,’ she revealed. ‘It was our only gateway to earth where we could enter and exit without detection for the past 20 000 years.’

‘You said Xapiens came from earth. How?’

‘We snatched them from children wards in hospitals on earth.’

‘You stole our babies and sent them to planet Gadju to be harvested?’

‘Something like that, but not quite.’

‘I can’t believe what I’m hearing,’ I exclaimed.

‘We cloned every new born baby to feed my babies.’

‘Cloning! That’s just wrong on so many levels.’

‘Be grateful. It could have been worse. We could have abducted every human on earth for harvesting.’

  The End

 

Greetings and thank you for reading. This is my first novel, and I truly hope you’ve enjoyed it. As a new author, I’m especially interested in getting your feedback, learning what you liked and didn’t about my writing style.

Let’s chat: WhatsApp: +27735255686

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MichaelKush1

 

My home language is Xhosa, Zulu is my second and English is my 3rd language, I still can’t believe I managed to write and finish this book within 11 months. I read a lot of non-fiction books each week but I’ve been frustrated by not finding good fiction books to read. I decided to write my own favorite book. I got to know some of my favorite authors because their novels were made into films. The idea of writing this novel was inspired by TV series and films, I liked such as; Oblivion (2013) Face Off (1997) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Outer Limits (1995-2002), The Matrix (1999) and V (2009-2011)

  

 

Look out for book 2 (1+1 Series) on the Last Quarter of 2017

AI VS MERGENTS

By

Michael Kush

Appian University

Faculty of Philosophy

Professor –––––––––

First draft of ___________________________

 

Excerpts

To say we live in one universe is not the best way of conveying it. A better way would be to describe our existence as billions and billions of little universes. For example, our human bodies contain trillions of these universes, all connected and constantly interacting with each other. These universes are called energy and there is no difference between the term “energy” and the term “universe”.

The same energy that makes us, makes every plant, every rock, every star, every galaxy, everything.

1+1=2 or 1, 1, 2 is the ONLY intelligence that the universe has. It is everything. After all, what else can it have other than where it is now and where it was before? Out of this simple principle comes time, matter, consciousness and ultimately our humanity. It is a magnificent expression of growing energy.

The principle is completely immutable. It encompasses everything. It cannot be changed or altered. It is everywhere, within each of us, constantly creating and recreating us in its own image. Energy=Universe=God.

1+1=2 (or 1, 1, 2) is the answer to life, the universe and everything because it literally represents the foundation of life, the universe and everything. Our lives are completely and entirely made up of this equation and if we can understand its simplicity, we can reach outward to the layers of infinite dimensions that grow out of it. So:

1 Represents your past (the accumulated external knowledge, yin)

1 Represents your present (the internal appreciation of experience, yang)

2 Represents your future (the growth that arises from the two)

 

Here’s the magic: If 1 represents the past, 1 represents the present and 2 represents your future, then the creation of more universes (in other words, the creation of more energy or the creation of a whole lot more 1,1,2’s) is the creation of time. Thanks to the Second Dimensional Law of Infinity, time is infinite. You have all the time in the universe to grow yourself to reach your intention. Exactly the same goes for space. By creating new energies you are literally creating space for which you can grow. Energy / universe / time / space are all exactly the same thing and grow out of oneness, through the Garden of Infinite Unity, into our reality which we experience as “time”. You are constantly creating in the fourth dimension. That’s how you are able to continue to exist as a conscious being. All you need to learn to do is start making more efficient choices. As you make these choices, or intentions, energies will be created that will start the process of re-creating your being to allow you to reach it.


The Girl From Space

The story is about an amateur astronaut, Yolanda, and a Xapien warrior, Gabriel whose paths collide in a mysterious portal as both try to survive the devastation of mass extinction of human race and Xapiens respectively. Yolanda Roberts returns from a successful space mission ‘Black Hole 2018’. The moment the spacecraft lands on earth, she discovers all continents have sunk under the sea except North America and the year is 9999 (Y10K). No one recognises her and is suspected to be a dangerous extra-terrestrial. She fights tirelessly to clear her name. Her humanitarian efforts increases her popularity from the slum dwellers and the masses encourage her to run for the presidency in the general elections. Her political opponent tries to damage her reputation by spreading rumours; she is an alien on a mission to set a colony on earth. After a hard fought battle, she is elected to be the president of Appian. Her first 100 days in office start on a wrong note and realises all her policies have failed. A seismic earthquake erupts and sends a wave of panic around the country. When it subsided, the miners discover a portal buried underground and realise it is the cause. The portal vibrates until it people’s faces appear on the other end. The military and Yolanda rush to the scene. They introduce themselves as the Xapiens. They request to visit planet earth as tourists and are interested in learning about new planets and cultures. In addition they show and offer their unlimited mineral wealth, oil, gas, gold, diamonds, emeralds at Planet Gadju. Sceptical, Yolanda is overruled by her cabinet and citizens in parliament and referendum respectively. “I’m caught between a rock and another rock, the offer is too good to be true. We could use their mineral wealth to transform Appian, but who are the Xapiens and what is their real purpose of their visit on planet earth?” No one predicted the events that unfolded next.

  • ISBN: 9781370148813
  • Author: Mkululi Nqabeni
  • Published: 2016-07-25 11:50:25
  • Words: 80001
The Girl From Space The Girl From Space