IoM: Before the Kalends_Endé 5

MYA, THE REDHEAD, DEMANDED they picked up a guy named Brad, but it was risky for all of them to go get him. So Mya went to get him while the rest waited for her at the meeting point. Mya and Brad brought a trail of guards; Sophia could tell from miles away with her improved vision, something Thatcher forgot to mention. It came in handy, helping them hide while they watched Mya and Thatcher get caught.

Utopia wasn’t going to be their new world any time soon. Mya was the only one who knew how to get there. They all went back to their normal lives, like they never pretended to run away. Thatcher and Emma were able to say they were on a romantic getaway. Sophia told the truth partially. She said she got trapped in a cavern and had to travel until she found a way out.

Stigmo wasn’t happy. He wanted to know what really happened, but Sophia refused to tell him anything except that she had a plan to find all the runners. 

All Stigmo needed to do was trust her. After 140 days, Mya showed up at her door with Thatcher and Emma. Mya explained she escaped from the cell they kept her in and they all had to go back for Brad.

Mya revealed how she escaped. She kept saying how important it was to rescue Brad and claimed she would explain later when there was time. Sophia thought it was weird that they needed her help so badly to break into the facility they were keeping Brad. If Mya escaped from the facility and she knew where they kept Brad, why did they need her to stare through walls to figure out where he was?

Everything happened so fast. She battled hundreds of guards and not a single bullet grazed her. She took a few hits, but it didn’t hurt as much as it used to. Thatcher made more modifications that he wanted to admit. They managed to spring Brad and they began to run away again.

Then…

Then…

She can’t remember what happened after that.

… ? …

Now Sophia is sheathed in prickly rope. She can’t really tell what’s going on, because her eyes are heavily covered. She knows she’s bleeding, but she’s not losing a lot of blood. Something has zapped the energy from her. She doesn’t have the strength to weaponize her arms in order to bust free. She can hear women talking, but she can’t make out clearly what they’re saying. Her ears are humming, almost like she was picking up a faint heartbeat, but it’s not hers or anyone around her. It’s from the rope. Somehow the rope is alive. Where the hell is she? What the hell happened? Sophia has to get out of here…

… The Truth…

Sophia is lying in a pool of green gelatin. Her eyesight is tinted green. An unearthly creature looks down at her. It has a long, oval head, wide solid eyes with no irises or pupils, no nose, and weird looking, full lips. They remind Sophia of a violet petal- like one lip-sized violet flower pedal is on its face where human lips should be. Sophia was captured by the aliens, the ones Emma had frequently mentioned, but never described.

Sophia has gotten used to using her arms. All she had to do was think about using which arm with which weapon. She thinks it will be fun to use her laser cannon to bust out of this green pool of goop. She can’t move, and no matter how much she thinks about using her laser cannon, nothing happens. Escaping from the aliens is going to be challenging, but she always loves a good challenge.

Suddenly the goop begins to lower. She hears a whooshing sound. The green gelatin must be draining. Once the goop is gone she feels the nip of the air. She’s trembling from the shocking coolness of the air. She also doesn’t have any clothes on; that’s why she’s freezing. Wait, since Thatcher tweaked her, she hasn’t felt too hot or too cold. She’s always been the perfect temperature in any weather condition. She could sleep in a freezer without dying or getting frostbite.

Her skin begins to tickle from the sensation of something crawling all over her body. She laughs boisterously. Within seconds, the tickling stops and she’s fully clothed in a gray, form-fitting, one piece outfit. The outfit covers everything but her neck, face, and hair. Sophia’s never worn something so comfortable. It’s almost as if the outfit is a part of her. She stands up and stares the alien in the eye.

The alien has solid, golden brown eyes and wavy, long golden brown, leaf-like hair. Its skin is royal blue. Its lips, fingernails, and palms are a lighter, sky blue. It doesn’t have eyebrows. She wonders if it has teeth. Well, enough standing around. Sophia wants to fight and she’s curious to know what she’s up against.

She points her right arm at the alien, and waits for it to transform. Nothing happens… The alien smile with its lips closed.

Sophia cocks her arm back and jabs it forward to punch the alien, but it stops her punch by catching her fist in its grasp. The alien lets go of Sophia’s hand. Sophia wants to attempt to punch it again, but she isn’t an idiot. She knows when she’s outpowered. Currently, she’s no match for the alien.

“Please, ask any questions you like.” The alien says in a tranquil tone. No human could have a voice so sweet. 

It does have teeth. They are black teeth with lavender gums, which are creepy in Sophia’s book. Sophia doesn’t say anything.

“I’m Tayla, Sophia, and it’s quite nice to meet you. You are the first human I’ve ever met.”

How does it know her name? Is Tayla a guy’s name or girl’s name to the aliens? How does it know English?

“Well, since you have no questions I must inform you that you have your real arms. However, your vision and hearing are still heightened. We couldn’t remove the implants without causing brain damage, so you’re still bionic.You finally have real arms. It’s what you’ve always wanted.”

They de-weaponized her? Sure, she hated finding out that she was bionic, but since Thatcher made the modifications, she loved the power that she had. These aliens took that power away! How could they? They didn’t have that right. No one had the right to take what was a part of her her entire life.

“I want my arms back,” Sophia demands.

“Not until you know we are not a threat, and agree to help us.”

“What do you want to know?”

“The truth? What does Stigmo want with us?”

She shrugs her shoulders. If she knew that, she would use it against him to take him down.

“What did he send you to do once you came to Utopia?”

Sophia tells the truth, “To find the aliens, which you are one of, fight you to see how tough you are, and capture a human in order to figure out what you want with them. Then I would run back home and give him your location so he can annihilate your blue moon asses.”

Tayla walks around Sophia in a circle. “Who is Stigmo to you?”

Sophia wasn’t sure what Tayla was implying by that question. It’s not like Sophia was dating a machine. “That machine is nothing to me. He’s kind of like the devil. I sold my soul to him.”

“What does a machine want with humans?”

“What do aliens want with us?”

Tayla asks, “Machines with high tech AI know that humans are chaotic; they live systematically but very inefficient, destroying everything they are given. Don’t misinterpret me. Humans are beautiful. The way humanity exists gives each human a heart and a soul, which are the greatest motivators and greatly outweigh their inefficiency. A machine has no use for heart and soul.”

“Your point?”

A trail of purple mist floated in the air and hovered between Tayla and Sophia. The mist materialized into a huge wall of hundreds, maybe thousands, of pictures of human-like beings.  Some were slug-like, of the same form as the alien that stood face to face with Sophia, while others were bug-like. Surprisingly, some had human pigment but animal-like eyes. There were some that Sophia couldn’t even begin to explain. Right in front of Sophia was a picture of a human man. His eyes were purple-ish gray, his skin feverish yellow, and his veins extremely noticeable. The other pictures were similar to the human man. They all had purple-ish gray eyes, weird sickly skin, and their veins showed grotesquely.

“Do you know what all these people had in common?” Tayla asked.

“A disease?”

“Worse, the Zenty.”

All the pictures dissolved into purple mist. The mist condensed and moved closer to Sophia’s face. When the mist rematerialized into a picture, Sophia found herself staring at a piece of fruit that looked like a violet apple-slice with a strawberry-like texture. Instead of a green leafy top, it was hot pink. It looked tasty.

The fruit is sliced open in the image, and it’s peach colored insides are revealed; it has a core, like an apple, but with pebbly, green, pomegranate-like insides. The image zooms in on one of the green pebbles. Like under a microscope, the image is blown up, and Sophia can see a worm swimming around. Nevermind, the fruit doesn’t look tasty anymore.

“The Zappe is a delicious fruit, except you can’t eat the seeds. If you do, three to five days later a sack will form within the center of your brain, near the stem. A few more and a newborn Zenty will have complete control of your body. In fact, your consciousness will be killed by a toxin the Zenty secrete. They can live in the body anywhere from six months to a year, it depends on how well the Zenty bonds. Then the toxin the Zenty secreted to kill the consciousness kills the host. A few hours later the Zenty within dies as well.”

Sophia didn’t understand why Tayla was telling her about this.

The image dissolves into purple mist again and then turns into new images. Sophia is looking at genetic codes. She recognizes one that is human; the one beside it is gorilla, the next one is wolf, the following one is owl, another is dolphin, then there are two completely foreign to her. The last is human-like, but not quite. The seven before the strange human-like one merge together, and as one they become a perfect match with the human-like one.

“What is this?”

“The one on the left is a model of human DNA spliced with wolf, owl, amalli and zonian DNAs. The one on the right is your genetic code,” Tayla says.

The image changes again, and one of her pops up, except her hair is uncared for with who knows how many naps, her skin has blemishes and she isn’t very clean. She’s also wearing a brown tunic. That isn’t her. She’s never worn a brown tunic in her entire life, not even before doomsday.

“What’s with the ugly photoshop?”

“This image is not doctored. This is the real Sophia James. She lives in a territory that belongs to our sister colony, which found her about 12 years ago wandering in the wilderness with her family, along with some other families. She was born without arms. She lived that way for five years, but when our sister colony found her, they gave her arms. Today she is healthy and happy.”

“No, that’s impossible. I grew up with arms… bionic arms…”

“Yes you did. Sophia, even though you have your own memories and think like an individual, you are a genetically engineered replica. Your instincts were engineered to fight; you were created to fight. All the humans in the dome cities are replicas of the real humans we have living among our colonies. When human bodies in the dome city mature, they are upgraded into bionics, and each is implanted with a Zenty. They have engineered you so that they can live longer in you and others like you.”

This alien has to be filled with lies. Sophia is real! She’s not a creature. She’s a real human being!

“I was created to fight?” Sophia asks.

Tayla nods.

Sophia’s anger explodes at the core of her heart. She can’t wait to start clobbering. Sophia leaps out of the shallow tub she was in, jumps off the it’s ledge and tackles Tayla to the ground. Tayla pushes Sophia; she flies a few feet into the air and then lands on her back behind the tub. Her landing didn’t hurt because the floor is like a cushy, plush rose petal. Sophia yells as she jumps back over the tub in a single bound. She grabs Tayla as she’s running away, leaping onto her back. She holds herself up by wrapping her legs around Tayla’s waist. She also has her in a headlock. In one swift move, she can snap Tayla’s neck and her spine in two.

“Give me reason not to kill you.”

Nervously Tayla says, “Stigmo told you that you were human. You feel human… And humans don’t kill in coldhearted blood. Your anger is with Stigmo, not me.”

Sophia releases Tayla from the head lock, jumping off her. 

A slot in the wall slides open and five aliens rush in. They are different colors from Tayla. Three are yellow with green eyes and hair. Two are bronze with silver eyes and hair. They point their arm length rods at Sophia as they surround her.

Sophia doesn’t even  have bionic arms anymore and it took her less than two minutes to get the drop on Tayla. Once Sophia figures out what the rods do, she can take these five down in ten minutes flat.

The tips of the rods open up like a Venus Fly Traps and out shoot wormy, octopus-like things the size of bullets. They latch onto Sophia in five places: her neck, right shoulder, stomach, the back of her left thigh, and her right shin. She begins to freeze in those places. As her vision tunnels, her wounds begin to sting with frostbite. She loses consciousness, collapsing to the ground.

:)(: Paart Fiv

Geocrys, aka Crys, is 10 earth years old. Since the date of his conception, he’s 11 years and one month old. He should be a fully mature male by now, but he’s different. He was conceived differently. He gestated in his mother’s womb longer than the average Zonian. Instead of appearing like a grown man, he looks like a tall, ten-year-old boy. His skin is soft and smooth. Geocrys’ cheeks are full, and his eyes are filled with childhood innocence. What a disappointment.

His parents, Alikah and Samses, don’t visit him much. He lives in the lower tunnels of the host, and he’s free to leave any time he wants, he just has to make sure the humans don’t see him. 

His sister, Odelta, visits him occasionally, which is way more often than his parents. She looks like a Kwab. She has deep, black polished stone texture skin. The Kwab markings on her back are white, and her eyes and hair are baby blue. Currently she’s three earth years old, but five years old since conception. She’s about the size of a seven-year-old human girl.

Crys woke up with the intention of exploring the wastelands. He had planned all day yesterday, gathering what he needed and plotting how far in which direction he would go. His trip was delayed when Odelta arrived. She wanted him to show her how to fish. 

Odelta was among the few Zonians born with the ability to shape shift. She stood in human form before him. For her outer appearance, she chose olive skin, brown eyes and long, wavy dark brown hair. She looked like Crys’ sister now. She even resembled their mother’s human form. Crys’ skin tone is tan now that he’s older. He doesn’t understand why he got darker the older he got.

“C’mon, take me fishing!” Odelta begs.

“No, Alikah wouldn’t approve.”

“Who cares what Alikah thinks?”

“You should. Not only is she our leader, she is our mother.”

Odelta crosses her arms and huffs, “I’ll go by myself then.”

She can’t go fishing by herself. She doesn’t know her way around out there. She could get lost and then his mother would kill him for losing the future Alikah. 

It’s night time, and the odds of humans roaming around would be slim, but would the fish really be out and about either? Wait, that’s perfect! He’ll teach her how to fish. No fish will bite, and she’ll get bored. He’ll bring her home, and then head out to the wastelands. He agrees to take her to the river to fish.

He can feel the cocktail of emotions that Odelta has. She’s nervous, excited, and remorseful… Crys can tell she’s lying. She would never go fishing by herself, but just in case he’s wrong, one could never be too careful.                

… Down by the River…

Alikah says the river used to be a creek. They had to make it into a river to meet the needs of the growing population of humans. Crys would always join the ecological engineers when they gradually worked for three years to expand the creek into a river. He learned how the ecosystem of a river works and how different it is from a creek, as well as why it was so important to make the change for the humans. Crys likes science, but the field of science is for women, not men. Tayla, the genetic engineer who replicated and bred the fish for the river, is like a second mother to Crys. She would always listen to his stories of exploration during the project. Crys can’t prove it, but he likes to think he was the first to swim in the river after its completion. Tayla says he was the first,  so it must be true. Tayla also told him what certain fish like to eat. He likes to think her advice made him the expert fishermen he is today.  

Crys takes Odelta to a nearby hot spot for fishing. It’s close enough to the host that their mother can still sense Odelta. As he explains how to fish, Odelta gets distracted by gazing up at the stars. She’s easily distracted. His plan may not work as well as he thought it would.

“Oi’del’tay! Listen,” He says sternly.

Her focus jerks to him and she stares as he explains how to cast the baited line into the water. As he hands her the rod, a long, thin stick, she says, “I thought fishing would be… more… interesting than this. Can we go home?”

That was easy. He should have spoken slower and she would have gotten bored sooner.

“Yeah, just let me pack up,” He says.

Odelta didn’t say anything. She just went back to stargazing.

He cuts off the bait and throws it into the creek, then rolls it up to put back in his bag for use another time. He packed his stick rod in the bag along with his stone blade. He stood up, putting his bag strap on like a sash. He was ready to go, but he could no longer sense Odelta’s innocent, child-like happiness from stargazing. He spins in a slow circle, looking for his sister but doesn’t see her. He calls out for her, but she doesn’t respond. Alikah is going to behead him.

He can sense an innocence again; he figures it has to be her. He can also sense a father’s pride. He hears two pairs of footsteps come from the forest behind him. He turns around and sees Odelta holding a man’s hand.

Odelta is talking to the man and he is listening with a prideful smile.

“I’m little. My brother is big. He was teaching me to fish, but it was boring. I was supposed to wait for him, but I saw this shooting star and I wanted to be the one to find it when it fell. I lost it in the woods. Then I saw you. What are you doing out here?”

The man laughs, “I used to come here with a friend a lot when I was younger. We liked to skip rocks.”

Odelta began jumping up and down, begging for the man to teach her how to do that.

“If it’s alright with your brother.”

Odelta stared at Crys with playful malice. He nodded, giving his permission. 

Then the man explained, step by step, how to skip rocks. Odelta excitedly listened to him. Together they searched for small, flat, smooth rocks. Crys was going to wait patiently until they were done, but Odelta insisted that he join in the fun. The man taught them how to hold the rock. Crys didn’t really pay attention, so when it came time to throw the rock and watch it skid across the surface of the river, Crys’ rock dropped straight down. Odelta’s rock skipped twice, but the man’s rock skipped about ten times, nearly making it to the other side.

Crys tells his sister it’s time to go. She yells no. Crys rolls his eyes as he sighs.

“Alikah will worry about you,” Crys says.

“That’s a unique name. Who is Alikah?”

“Mother,” Crys says while Odelta says, “Our Aunt.”

Crys changes his answer to Odelta’s, while she changes her answer to his original response.

The man is confused. “Which is it? Aunt or mother?”

Crys doesn’t know what to say. He not only feels his own fear, he can feel his sister’s too. It’s a little much to handle. The man begins to feel empathy for them, and Crys picks that up as well. Crys is used to being alone. Dealing with this much emotional baggage is a strain.

“Did you two run away from the dome city?”

What is a dome city? Crys and Odelta didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. They nodded their heads. They both felt a little relief. Crys says, “And we have to get back.”

“You’re both just kids. I’m not letting you go anywhere.”

…Family…

The man, Brad, took them home. Crys knew he was going to be in trouble now. His mother would banish him from the colony. He would have to live among the humans. Crys didn’t want to think about it. When the first chance to get away comes, he and Odelta are taking that chance.

“Home” is a simple house, made of wood. It has wooden flooring and furniture. There are four rooms. The main room for social gathering, a dining room, and two sleeping rooms.

Brad has shaggy, wavy black hair, dull blue eyes, and rough, pale flesh-tone skin. By fire light, Crys sees a resemblance between the two of them. Rather, Crys sort of looks like Brad.

Brad’s wearing a shirt and a pair of pants made of hemp. He isn’t wearing shoes. His feet are dirty and calloused, and look like he can walk on glass.

A woman with a swollen belly, wearing a hemp tunic, came out from the other room. She has pecan-colored brown hair and shea butter skin. Her eyes are a vibrant, brownish hazel. She has a gentle, elegant glow about her. Crys finds her very attractive even though she waddles with a weird pop-out, round belly.

“Honey, this is Crys and his little sister Odel,” Brad says as he walks over to her. He puts an arm around her, hugging her from the side.

“Crys and Odel, this is my honey, Chloe.”

Odelta sincerely asks, “Why is there a person in your belly?” Both her and Crys could sense a small being inside Chloe.

Brad and Chloe laughed. They thought Odelta was just being an adorable, normal little girl.

“We’re expecting our first child,” Brad says with a smile. 

Crys can sense Brad’s fatherly pride. That’s why he was so nice to Odelta, he’s preparing for his own offspring.

Brad whispers something in Chloe’s ear. She nods and subtlety whispers, “How weird.”

“What?” Crys asks, paranoid.

“I was just telling Chloe how your sister looks like my friend from a long time ago,” Brad answers.

“Her name was Emmy. Do you know an Emmy from back at the dome?” asks Chloe.

Emya sometimes calls the Alikah “Emmy” when they’re joking around during their visits with Crys. 

He declines by shaking his head, but Odelta says, “She’s my mommy!”

Crys doesn’t understand. What is she doing? 

While Brad and Chloe stare at each other puzzled, Crys mouths to his sister, ‘Why did you say that?’. 

Odelta shrugs her shoulders. She doesn’t know why. Likely excuse for a little girl. She acts more human than Zonian. That’s going to get her in trouble with Alikah.

Brad gave a description of what Emmy looked like, but Odelta shook her head, “Mommy doesn’t look like that. She’s much prettier.”

Crys sighed in relief. Thankfully, she didn’t give a description of what Alikah actually looked like, because that would be hard to explain.

“You traveled here, just the two of you, all the way from the dome city?” Chloe asks with suspicion.

Crys nods and Odelta says, “Yes,” with a smile.

“How did you two escape the guards?”

“We took the tunnels out,” Odelta says quite honestly.

Yeah right… There’s no way. These kids are lying, Crys heard Chloe say without moving her lips. That’s impossible… Crys takes a deep breath, exhaling in order to calm himself down. 

“Brad will pick up extra bedding for you from Lola and Pavel. You two can sleep in the nursery,” Chloe says.

While Brad went to get the bedding, Chloe made Crys and Odelta tea over the fire. Crys pulled  the kettle from the fire because Chloe was having a hard time. She managed to spoon the tea into cups for the two children. 

“This will help you sleep,” She huffs, leaning back in a chair that slightly reclines. She rubs her bulging stomach and sighs, trying to unwind.

Crys takes one sip of tea, and the bitter, musky, brisk taste danced on his taste buds with delight. Finally, a beverage he likes to drink. He had a hard time enjoying it, however; his sister’s disgust for the drink overpowered his pleasure. He could barely stomach the last drop.

When Chloe asks if they want more, they clearly and politely say, “No, thank you,” in unison.

Chloe asks what the dome city is like. She says she didn’t get a chance to find out years ago. She has her eyes closed with her head leaning back, waiting to listen about a place Crys had never even heard of himself. Crys and Odelta look at each other. She mouths to him, ‘Tell her something!’

‘What exactly?’ he mouths in kind.

Odelta winces her face and shrugs her shoulders from frustration.

A loud barking from outside the door startles Crys and Odelta. They had never heard such an animal, if that’s what it was. Its vocal cords have a different pitch from that of humans. Crys and Odelta can feel the difference in pitch through the vibration of the sound waves brushing the surface of their skin.

Chloe sighs heavily, opening her eyes as she lifts her head. She attempts to get up, but is overtaken by exhaustion. 

“Could you open the door for Fortune?” Chloe asks Crys. That dumb dog! Brad needs to build a doggy door for it. 

Crys heard Chloe’s thoughts again!

Crys gets up off the floor and cautiously approaches the door. Odelta is afraid, but Chloe is impatient. She isn’t intimidated by the animal. Crys figures he has nothing to fear. He fights off Odelta’s emotions and opens the door with courage.

A canine animal, which stands on all fours slightly above Crys’ waistline, comes charging inside. The golden animal has dusty, charcoal coloring on its back and face, covering it like a mask. It wags its tail excitedly. It raises its upper body and rests its front paws on Crys shoulders, licking his cheeks. The animal has a strong, sweaty, dingy odor that is a little repulsive but tolerable. Crys understood now: this animal, this dog, is Fortune. Chloe wasn’t actually talking about wealth or property. She was referring to the dog named Fortune.

A dog named Fortune?

 “Is this a German Shepherd?” Crys asks Chloe.

“It’s a dog that mysteriously appeared one day. Who needs to know what it is other than it’s a dog?” Chloe huffs.

Crys rubs Fortune’s fur along the growth pattern. Fortune seems to like the attention Crys is giving… it…

Fortune stops licking Crys’ face and barks at him, growling. Fortune is offended that Crys called her an it. Crys is sorry. Fortune resumes licking his face. He can sense what Fortune feels and can translate those feelings into an awareness of knowledge. It’s not exactly like coherently reading her mind.

Odelta blurts, “It’s just like a ryfflar!”

Fortune directs her attention to Odelta and gets territorial. Fortune sees Odelta as a threat to her home or as another animal. The dog can sense Odelta’s dominance, and her deceit in pretending to be something she’s not.

Odelta is no longer afraid of Fortune, because she knows she would win against the animal in a battle. She’s twenty times stronger, ten times faster, and she’s spotted all of Fortune’s weak spots. The only way to gain control over the dog is to show Fortune that Odelta is the Alpha female.  

Odelta tips toe over to Fortune, and the dog’s growl grows deeper the closer that she gets. Chloe is yelling at Fortune to calm down and be nice, but Fortune is ignoring her command. As Fortune jolts forward to bite Odelta’s reaching arm, she grips Fortune’s neck before the dog’s teeth can touch her flesh. Fortune whimpers from the deep tissue pain caused by Odelta’s clinch. Odelta releases her neck and Fortune hangs her head, putting her tail in between her legs as she runs to Chloe’s feet.

Chloe pets Fortune with her bare foot to prevent herself from bending over.

 “She’s not normally like this,” Chloe apologizes.

Brad walks in with bundles of bedding beneath each arm. He uses his foot to close the door. Fortune jolts to her feet, wagging her tail and rushing to greet Brad. She puts her paws against his chest and hangs her tongue out panting. If she could reach his face to lick it she would, but she can’t. Brad commands Fortune to get down and she does. She paces around him in a circle as he walks further into the house, over to Chloe. He sets the bedding down beside Chloe’s chair, one stacked on top of the other and crouches as he lies a hand on her bulbous stomach. He stares into Chloe’s eyes and says, “I love you.”

Chloe blushes happily. She says, “I love you too,” as she runs her fingers through his hair. Brad rises as he picks the bedding up.

“C’mon kids, let’s get ready for bed,” He walks to the right and into the nursery.

Fortune, Crys, and Odelta join Brad in the nursery.

The room is larger than the gathering room. In the corner is a weird, rectangular box with thin sides, leaving huge gaps between each strip of wood. The frame of the rectangular box has legs like a chair on each of the four corners, keeping it off the ground. Next to that weird box is a chair, but it has boat shaped legs. Crys didn’t understand the purpose of making a chair like that. He knew it couldn’t hold study when someone sat in it. It would rock back and forth. Crys asks what the chair is and why it’s made the way.

“That’s a rocking chair. You haven’t seen one before?” Brad responds, retorting with a question.

Crys shook his head. Odelta quickly blurts out, “I’ve seen one… In a picture.” Her words were filled with pride and absolute certainty… Crys could tell she told the truth.

“You two don’t spend much time together do you?” Brad asks.

Crys and Odelta didn’t say anything. How could he possibly know that?

“I’ve noticed the two of you enjoy spending time together. Most siblings tease each other constantly, but the two of you praise each other… I’m not used to seeing that.”

“We don’t see each other often,” Odelta adds.

Crys sighs. Why doesn’t she tell the truth? They both come from the spacecraft in the middle of Utopia and their people rule over the Earth.

“Why is that?”

“He doesn’t live with us. He lives-,” Crys interrupts his sister before she can say anything else.

“I live in a special area. They do that with some of us. My family is only allowed to visit occasionally.” 

Crys hopes his answer is truthful enough for Odelta to stay quiet, but vague enough to keep their secret. Brad whips out a bundle of bedding and it flares out as he lowers it onto the ground. 

“That’s awful,” he says, as he does the same to the other bundle of bedding and sets it beside the first one. 

“Family is meant to be together.”

Brad takes the top layer of the bedding and folds it back on each set. 

“Climb in.”

Odelta eagerly takes the blue one. She lies down as Brad covers her with the top layer. 

Brad laughs faintly, “I got the pink one for you.”

“I’m not old enough for pink yet.” Odelta says.

Only mature adults wear pink. She left it for her brother out of respect. He is of age, even though he may not look it.

Crys says the pink one will do and climbs in without complaining.

“Would you both like to hear a story before you go to sleep?”

Odelta blurts, “Yes!”

Crys didn’t say anything. He just lied still in his place.

“Okay, I’ll take that as a yes.” Brad clears his throat. “Long ago, when the trees were plenty and the blue sky was vast…”

Brad began to tell a story about a boy and a girl that lived on their own in the forest. A terrible, unspeakable evil came and took their parents away. The boy and the girl had to go on a quest to find the lost stone of truth. When they found the stone, it would be able to conquer the evil and vanquish it. Odelta listened attentively while Crys drifted off to sleep.  


*Edited by Aly Fry

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