BEEP! BEEP” BEEP!
The alarms rang incessantly, as the lights within the carrier flashed green and red and green again. Crouched by the door, Anariya clutched the steel, pill-shaped shell to her chest. Everything within her screamed that this was a bad idea, but the failing engines and malfunctioning systems wailed louder. The green and red lights seized and were immediately replaced by a searing white. As her skin slowly dimmed from a fluorescent purple to a a soft green, Anariya didn’t need to glance at the thermostat to know they were breaking the earth’s atmosphere.
An object missed her head by about two inches as the carrier broke apart. Now or never. Anariya drew in a deep breath, kicked open the now brittle door, and flung herself out into the prickly heat. Rolled into a foetal position, her only focus was on protecting the shell as she plummeted through the sky right next to the disintegrating carrier. Once safely through the worst of it, she closed he eyes and exhaled.
Anariya hit the ground with a loud thud, forcing her body to uncoil and release the shell, which rolled a few inches away from her and came to rest at the foot of an oak tree. Slow breaths, she reminded herself. While she tried to get her body to adjust to the new planet, the wind rustled the trees and kicked up the dirt around her sore body. Revelling in the soothing relief it provided, Anariya let her body relax on the grass as it changed from a green similar to the shade of the leaves above her, to a caramel brown. She could barely feel the grass licking her skin as she thought about completing her mission. She could feel everything wrong on her insides, and knew her time was limited. It wouldn’t be long before help arrived, and she had no intention of dying on a planet that wasn’t home.
The shell vibrated next to her, and she rolled over to wave a hand over it. The top of the shell slid way to reveal glowing infant with creamy skin and hair almost as golden as the sun. Sighing, Anariya pondered what her next course of action would be. She was already doomed, but the child still had some hope. With no way to figure out the original drop off co-ordinates, Anariya prepared herself for a tasking duty of finding the right place to leave the child. Remembering her own time growing up on earth, she resolved to find somewhere safe. There wasn’t much she could do about whether or not she would stick out here like she did back home, but she could at the very least leave her somewhere she would be looked after.
Lea stretched, purred a little and rolled over to pull one furry pillow closer to her chest. Some would think it was ridiculous that someone could have a routine even in their sleep, but Mohammed found it quite fascinating. He’d tried to move the pillow once, but she’d held on tight from the depth of whatever dream world she was visiting. It was one of those moments when he’d found her strength more frightening than amusing. The sun sifted in through the wispy curtain and bathed her creamy skin in a delicious honey yellow glow. As he watched her, it seemed almost like she glittered where the light hit her.
Soon she would open her eyes reluctantly, one at a time, and groan and whine about how she had to get up and do a million things no one ever really asked her to do. And then he would pull her into a hug and ruffle her hair and tell her he loved the way she smelled of roasted almonds. Who would have imagined a routine such as this could be the one thing a person gets up for every day? He brushed a thumb lazily across her forehead and reflexively examined the thumb. An absence of the purple stain he’d tried to wipe off piqued his curiosity.
In the year they had dated, Lea had changed considerably. Little changes at first – purple locks of hair, paler skin – but then more visible ones that were a little more difficult to ignore began to creep up. Remembering the first time he noticed the purple patch on her arm made him shudder, and still brought goose pimples to the surface of his skin. And then the dreams she had started having…. The past couple of months had definitely been rough, which is why this break was necessary.
He brushed her hair aside to admire her face in full, and noticed the patch he’d just rubbed on had spread across the edge of her hairline and down the side of her face. This can’t be good
Lea fell noiselessly through the sky.
Only a moment ago she’d been on the edge of the cliff, staring down hundreds of feet past the sheer drop at the side of the mountain, and now her body tore through the updraft.
The psychic pulsing sound had lifted her in a shocking instant off her feet, out of her mind, and straight over the edge. As she fell, Lea curled her body up as tightly as she could and tried to shut her eyes. It was no longer of any use – of course, as she had come to suspect.
Ever since the pulses had started in her mind the previous week, to her abject horror, Lea had discovered that she was changing again. This was nothing like when she noticed patches of her creamy skin being replaced by purple and blue glittery, almost scaly patches. In fact, she thought quite fondly of those patches now that she felt as if her body was waging war against her. Firstly, her eyelids no longer functioned properly. A more suitable way to put it would be to say her eyelids did something she was absolutely certain they weren’t supposed to do when she shut her eyes.
When she had heard the first pulse a month ago, Lea had fallen to her knees in the middle of her room, clutching her head in agony. When the wave passed and she closed her eyes however, she found that the insides of her eyelids – instead of shutting out light from the outside – now proffered vision of another kind altogether. No sooner had she closed her eyes that she found herself looking at the interior of what looked like an aircraft of some sort. She immediately opened her eyes and found herself back on the floor of her room, drawing in frantic shallow breaths.
More out of curiosity than any real, thoroughly processed thought, she closed her eyes again and immediately saw the interior of the aircraft again. It felt very foreign, but still so familiar for no reason Lea could wrap her head around. Heat built up within her gradually, until she cried out – more as an instinctive response than a reaction. As if in response to the screech she’d let out, the pulse had started building up from her feet, into her thighs… Up to her chest and….
“Babe, are you okay?” Mohammed continued to knock nervously on the bathroom door, the realization of his error in waking her up so frantically washing over him. The sound of water pouring into the sink hadn’t stopped, and he could still hear her splashing away. That at least gave him some rest, knowing she hadn’t hurt herself yet. But even that was bet against time. He shuddered at the memory of the last time he had walked in on her literally scrapping off the top layer of her forearm. He knocked again, more insistent this time. “Lea!”
She could barely hear him over the sound of the water pouring out of the two faucets she had opened, and the water splashing to the ceramic tiles from the overflowing sink. But even the muffled sound of his voice was enough to send a wave of guilt and fear through her. This was supposed to stop. She cussed and, without pause, dipped her head into the overflowing sink. The oxygen seeped through her nostrils like she was merely taking a walk. She stood there, hands holding on the edge of the sink, face buried in water, breathing in and out slowly.
She lifted her head slowly and stared at her reflection in the oval glamour mirror. The lights hit her skin, and her reflection glowed a dim purple in response. Instinctively, she rubbed the greyish section of her forehead slowly. No pain; just complete and utter disgust at the thought of what was happening to her. Having greyish-purple arms was fine, and could always be masked. Purple and green locs on her head could be attributed to having a bold sense of beauty. Having to walk down the road with a purple face however, would assuredly be a disaster of unbearable proportions. The anger that had bubbled beneath the fear rose to a volcanic high, and Lea found herself seething. Smash it.
The dirt beneath her feet seemed to resist harder every time she pounded against it as she tore through the thick forest. If she stopped to think about it, she would realize she was running on sinking sand. But, of course, Lea wasn’t thinking; which is understandable of anyone who is in genuine fear for their lives. She pushed herself harder, sweeping low, sturdy branches out of her way like she was merely swatting at flies.
“Can’t stop. Don’t stop.”
By the time she reached what was supposed to be a clearing, she was well past out of breath. Her chest lifted as she tried to drag in some air, and pulled her to the wet, rocky floor as it fell. Strength ran like fire whiskey through her veins, but all Lea could do was struggle to put one hand in front of the other as she dragged herself towards the one patch of light in the open field. All she could hear was static, and the brown dirt between her fingers was turning a bright shade of blue.
With one last, struggled sigh, Lea’s elbows gave way and her chest crashed into the rough dirt. She lay there, face down, letting all herself be swallowed by the nothingness she felt. The sky above her continued to glow with a myriad of colours, and the humming she’d initially thought was just in her head intensified. The hairs on the back of her neck tingled as the air around her changed from a cool breeze to an uncomfortable heat. Was the humming getting closer?
But no matter how loudly she shouted it in her mind, she stayed pinned to the ground. Lea had been out of breath several times before. She had attempted to run track in secondary school, for the love of the sport, but could only ever manage a short dash at a time before gasping for air – and that was on a good day. She’d experienced asthma-like attacks on several occasions, ad so she knew what it was like to feel her own body caving in on her, and the world slipping away; but never like this. Lea had never felt the pain in this intensity, and she definitely had never felt so alive at what she assumed was the brink of death.
The sound of glass breaking only made Mohammed more anxious. Swearing rather feverishly now, he squared up and rammed his right shoulder into the white oak wood door with a stronger determination. Perhaps he’d been slightly considerate of the damage deposit the first couple of times he’d tried it, or maybe the previous attacks had weakened the strike plate’s integrity. Either way, the door yielded and flung open to show it’s more than willing prisoner standing in front of a shattered mirror, surrounded by shards of glass, silent, and unfazed.
You should have let her sleep. He paused for a second contemplating what to do next. His body was still shaking a little from its repeated assault on the door, and he compelled himself to regain composure. Gingerly, he inched closer to the object of his affection careful to avoid stepping on the glass. He had no idea what he was going to say or do, he realised when he was just a breath’s length away from her. It didn’t help that he happened to notice a bluish purple line slowly creeping up her spine. If he needed any more proof that something seriously disturbing was going on with Lea, this was the stamp on the seal.
Mohammed closed the space between them, “Lea, now would be the time to tell me what’s happening. This is clearly not nothing anymore.” Nothing. Refusing to be ignored, he grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her around. “Lea!”.
She stared blankly at him for a few seconds, unsure how to respond. After all, how could she explain something she didn’t understand herself? All the times he’d gotten worked up over people teasing her on the road raced through her mind in an instant. How would he deal with all of this? How would she? It took all her strength to stay calm as grown men and children sang names as she walked down the street already. She needed to be away from him. Until she figured all of this out, at least.
Her heart was racing. He could feel it even as he gripped her shoulders. Sighing, he pulled her into a hug and stroked her hair. If there was one thing being with Lea had thought him, it was that words aren’t always needed. She needed to process whatever she was going to tell him in her head first, and he was learning to be okay with that. Mohammed held her there, in the bathroom, surrounded by shatter glass, until he felt her breathing steady and her eyelids flutter shut against his chest.
The force knocked him back a little, causing him to almost fall into the tub. “What was that?”, he managed to shout over the ringing in his ears. However, to Mohammed’s complete befuddlement, there was no one there to answer.
The wind around her limp body picked up, and the heat became a more furious kind of burning. She felt the ground beneath her shift, and then begin to vibrate slowly. The humming had stopped, but now there was a steady whirring ringing through her ears. Helplessness had become something Lea was all too familiar with in the past couple of hours. In fact, until a few minutes ago, she had thought there was no way her hope for survival could sink any lower. Yet, she had surprised herself by being completely immobile in an open field, surrounded by prickly grass, and slowly sinking into the dirt. Literally hitting a new low.
Her head rang with a pain that had become extremely familiar, but never less painful and she braced herself for the ensuing madness. It was the same flashes of images she didn’t understand – buildings made of a golden, reflective material tearing through the clouds of a pink sky, people in coats and masks peering down at something, bluish skin peeking through the nape of their coats, deep, endless darkness. The only thing that changed every time she had these migraines is how invasive the thoughts got. Each time, they felt more personal, less like thoughts and more like memories, taking control of her entire being. It was this feeling that had led her here, like instinct, convincing her this is where she needed to be.
It was this same feeling that urged her, even now, to try again and again to lift herself up off the ground, assured her she was safe. The whirring got louder and more annoying, the heat more intense, the air tighter. The external discomfort was nothing, however, compared to the internal battle Lea was fighting. Her mind was now looping back and forth, on the brink of madness, struggling to get a grip on reality. Trying to find a purchase on the seams of what she was now aware of.
Primarily, something was happening to her… Changing her. That much was clear.
Whatever it was that kept moving her between space never let her stay in the same place for more time than she could gather her thoughts, but the visions were definitely more solid now. The glimpses of the buildings. The aircraft. She’d been there, experienced those things. Every time she closed her eyes, her vision opened up to the interior of that strange but familiar aircraft. Could that be what was pulling her? Could the explanations for what was happening to her be waiting there?
The loud whirring had settled into a vibrating hum around her. If she didn’t feel like all the air was being dragged out of her body, she would have found it a little bit comforting. Resigned to her inability move, she closed her eyes again and found herself staring at what she could only identify as a large steel pill. The ground beneath her vibrated, and the air was still. As she inched closer and closer to the object, she felt more at ease, thanks in large part to the fact that she was breathing again. She couldn’t quite explain how, as she didn’t actually feel any air flowing through her nostrils, but she didn’t feel like she was suffocating anymore.
As she extended a hand towards the body of the pill, a part of it slid open, let out a small bridge, and a shadowy figure eclipsed the dull green light the space emitted. It wasn’t fear that kept Lea rooted to the spot where she stood, but uncertainty. Approaching a steel pill in the middle of nowhere was a big enough gamble on its own, but now that there were… people? It was definitely time to reevaluate her decisions. She couldn’t, however, shake the strong urge to approach. She felt the same pull that had brought her to the hill, even now. She hadn’t even noticed the area around her had gone dark, and that the light she was squinting through was illumination from her skin.
Whoever the figure at the door was, she was very tall; that much Lea could make out. As the figure descended the bridge, she could see a little more clearly. The parts of her skin that weren’t covered by the cloak he wore were exactly the same colour Lea’s body was becoming. A mix of blue and purple, glittery, and not very opaque with the crossing of grey and purple veins all over. Its face was covered with a cowl, but nothing could hide those shocking yellow eyes.
Suddenly, the figure looked up unto the sky and stretched its huge glittery hands outwards – almost as if to catch something falling. Lea shook her head, trying to understand what was going on, and blinked. Like magic, she found herself free-falling through the sky again, feeling the wind rush past her even as the Earth pulled her closer and closer, as she tumbled downwards through the sky.
In spite of better self-counsel, she looked downwards in a bid to gauge how far the drop was and perhaps brace herself for impact. What she saw instead was something huge – THE PILL! – sitting down there on the forest floor. And standing right beside the ship was the strange, tall being she had witnessed emerge barely minutes ago, with arms outstretched towards the sky – towards her.
Lea screamed for the first time since she started falling and closed her eyes, willing for her body to do the thing she had hated for as long as it had started. But eyes opened, or closed, all she saw was the same thing. The outstretched and inhumanly long arms waiting to catch her from the sky.
For the second time that evening, Lea lost her capacity to draw in air when the being plucked her out of the air and held her cradled to its luminous chest. The vibrations had stopped, she noticed, and there was no feeling to the skin she was held against – neither hot nor cold – but there was an eerie sort of peace, a quiet she hadn’t experienced in a long time.
Calm washed over her. A tingle ran up her spine, and across her limbs. Just before everything went black, Lea heard a crackling unearthly voice at the back of her head. It was a whisper in a language she had never heard before, but one she somehow understood intuitively.
“There, there, little one. You’re safe now.”
Hey guys!! Happy Halloween!
Would you believe it took me a year to write this?!?!? LOL. I started working on it last year for Halloween, and just couldn’t finish it. That was when I had Deola do the makeup and the amazing Anny Robert was wonderful enough to take these amazing pictures and work his magic on them (and me!).
Honestly, I still don’t feel like the story is completely ready. I’ll probably go back and change a whole lot later. But, it’s been a year FFS! I gave myself an ultimatum – put it up or delete it – and here we are.
I’d like to know what you think so do share your thoughts. I’m not a sci-fi writer, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to dabble in. How’d I do? Should I keep going? Teeeeeellll meeeeeeh!!!!