The Next Guardian

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. These characters are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

  

THE NEXT GUARDIAN

By Maria Elena Morgan

CHRISTINA McCLOUD -- A brunette with straight hair, cut down to the ear lobes with bangs. She is five foot seven inches tall, small frame, deep penetrating brown eyes with fair skin and freckles.

BENU -- A shoulder-length blond male, five foot eleven inches tall, medium frame, oval face , fair skinned with dreamy hazel eyes. A highly intelligent yet crafty individual who maintains control at all times.

 RALE -- A short-haired brunette male, five foot eleven inches tall, medium frame, square face, medium skin tone with brown penetrating eyes. A sensitive, intelligent individual whose resources are quite innovative.

 OREM -- A shoulder-length blond male, five foot eleven inches tall, medium frame, oval face, bronze skin tone with blue eyes. A powerful force to reckon with, yet sensitive to the needs of others.

 MIRT -- A short-haired brunette male, five foot eight inches tall, extra-large frame, square face, fair skin with brown eyes. A very secretive and devious individual who would do anything to keep his position.

 FALCON -- A tall, slender, male with soft tiger-colored plumage on top of his head and forehead surrounding his golden eyes. A very sensitive individual who cares for his species and others. A force to be reckoned with, if threatened.

 FALLON -- A tall, slender, female with bright red plumage on top of her head and forehead surround her dark brown eyes. A powerful woman in her own right, who cares for her species and others.

             I am a free-lance writer and currently living in Oregon. I have four years of college and have done quite well for myself. My home is octagonal in shape and window-filled walls create a powerful interior packed with panoramic views. It is within sight of Mt. Hood. Straight back from the angled entry, the Great Room is brightened by expansive windows and sliding glass doors to a huge wraparound deck. An impressive spiral staircase at the center of the floor plan lends even more character. The walk-through kitchen offers a handy pantry. A nice storage closet and a coat closet are located between the entry and the two-car garage. The main-floor bedroom is conveniently located near a full bath. The upper-floor master suite is a sanctuary, featuring lots of glass, a walk-in closet, a private bath and access to concealed storage rooms. I also have a daylight basement with an extra bedroom, a full bath, a laundry area and a large recreation room. The view is extraordinary.

            I am currently single but have had proposals throughout the years. I just haven’t found the right person, yet. I write for various magazines (UFO Universe; Body, Mind & Spirit; ESP; FATE; ANALOG, OMNI) and have had several novels published. I even won fifteen million dollars in a countrywide Lottery.

            Have you ever wished that you could take off in a UFO? Well I was alone when I saw one. I was up in Massachusetts and stayed in the Sussex Chalet on Winter Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. My room was on the second floor. I had been up in the area researching strange phenomena for a new book that I was planning to write.

            I had flown from Oregon to Boston International Airport and rented a car. I drove to Waltham to check out the recent sighting reports that had been circulating. Per local eyewitnesses UFOs had been sighted in Waltham, Fort Devens, Worcester, and Lowell, Massachusetts. The next reports were of sightings in Exeter, New Hampshire and near Pease Air Force Base (also in New Hampshire). I had reservations for one week at the Best Western Hearthside Motor Inn on Portsmouth Avenue in Exeter. I could drive to the other locations, easily enough. I decided that after I had checked into the hotel that I would go to the public library. I asked the librarian for help. She brought me copies of local newspapers; old copies of Look magazine and a book titled Incident at Exeter by John G. Fuller. I also looked at The Nature of Ball Lightning by Stanley Singer Plenum Press 1971; Aviation Week magazine, an article by Phil Klass.

            "My research found out that in the fall of 1965 a series of UFO sightings took place in Exeter. The sightings at Exeter began with a young man named Norman M. who was hitchhiking home to Exeter on Route 150 in the wee hours of September 3, 1965. At about two in the morning, near Kensington, New Hampshire an object that suddenly came out of the clear sky toward him startled him. He described it as about 90 feet in diameter, with bright, pulsating lights around what appeared to be a rim. It silently wobbled and floated toward him, and when it seemed about to hit him, he dropped to the ground on the shoulder of the road. The object then backed away, and he jumped up and ran to a nearby house and pounded on the door without results. He then ran out into the middle of the highway and flagged down a car. The middle-aged couple inside drives him to the Exeter Police Station. There he excitedly told his story to the officer on duty. The officer called in Patrolman Eugene B., who was out on patrol.

            The officer was amazed when he heard Norman's' story, because he had talked to a woman about an hour before who was pulled over on Route 101. She had reported that a large silent object with red flaring lights had followed her car all the way from Epping, a distance of twelve miles, until it had suddenly shot up into the sky at the place she had pulled off the road. The officer had not made a report of the incident because he had not believed the woman. At 3:00 a.m., the officer had become convinced that there was something worth investigating, so he took Norman back out to the spot on Route 150 where he had seen the object.

            There was an open field at the site, and a house and a horse corral. At first, they saw nothing, so they walked out into the field toward the corral. Suddenly, the horses began to stir and whinny and dogs began to bark. From behind two pine trees a bright, silent round object arose. It lit up the whole area with a brilliant red light. It moved toward them with a motion like a falling leaf. They retreated to the police car and the officer radioed in that he saw the object. The object hovered about fifty yards from them at an altitude of about a hundred feet. It was so bright that it was difficult to tell if there was a shape behind the lights, and the lights seemed to dim and then brighten in an odd pattern from left to right, then from right to left. It then began to move off toward Hampton with the same fluttering motion that it had shown previously. At that time, another policeman who had heard the first officer's report, David H., drove up. He, too, saw the object as it moved off toward Hampton and finally went out of sight. The object was then seen in Hampton, and was reported to Pease Air Force Base.

            This was just the first of the Exeter sightings. There were many more, and many, but not all, of them, seemed to occur near high-tension power lines. A theory surfaced that the UFOs were somehow drawing power from the lines, since some witnesses reported that this seemed to be the case.

            In the summer of 1966, a former electrical engineer for General Electric began to formulate a theory that the sightings were caused by 'ball lightning'. The gentleman wrote an article about the Exeter sightings that would be the first of many articles and books debunking UFOs. It became widely accepted as a good explanation for the Exeter sightings. So good, in fact, that you will barely see mention of Exeter in UFO lore these days."

            But is 'ball lightning' a good explanation for UFO sightings. There is a great deal of controversy over whether ball lightning exists at all. Many scientists think that ball lightning is just an afterimage of ordinary lightning seen after a normal lightning flash. Others say that it is an 'optical illusion' or that people have mistaken meteors for ball lightning. The only evidence that exists for ball lightning is 'anecdotal account' and not a lot of those. Anecdotal accounts are just witness accounts, the same type of evidence we have for UFOs.

            Reports indicate that observed 'ball lightning' can be white, yellow, orange, red, or blue. It is usually less then 50 cm in diameter, and it usually lasts only a few seconds. Witnesses report a strong smell of sulfur when it is nearby. Almost all reported appearances of ball lightning have followed an ordinary lightning strike and have occurred during a thunderstorm.

            None of this seems to fit the Exeter sightings. The sky was clear. There was no thunderstorm. The object seen was 90 feet in diameter and lasted quite some while, possible even long enough to follow a car 12 miles. In addition, the theory presented relies heavily on the high-tension power lines. Ball lightning is not associated with power lines, but with normal lightning.

            The Exeter object didn't stay in one place over a utility pole, it moved around quite a lot. It wasn't a soft green glow, but a brilliant red, brighter than a car's headlights. There is a type of corona discharge that causes a glow around high-tension power lines. It occurs when the air around those lines becomes highly ionized. However, the glow follows the cloud of ionized gases or air, and would not tend to move in a horizontal direction. Besides, it requires something to cause the cloud of ionized gases, and in the Exeter cases, there was no evidence of such a thing. Any other type of corona discharge from high-tension power lines would require a significant discharge of electricity from those lines, and the engineers at Exeter and Hampton Electric Company reported no unusual voltage losses recorded at the times of any of the sightings. Once again, there was no evidence of any cause for such a discharge and no evidence that such a discharge occurred.

            Whatever the Exeter objects may have been, the 'rational' explanation proposed by debunker rivals the extraterrestrial one in improbability. Brilliant red corona discharges from power lines are as rare as rabbit's teeth, if they occur at all, yet we are expected to believe that they occurred not once, but numerous times in and around Exeter within a short time. Where is the cause-and-effect? What conditions occurred to create these 'coronas' in the fall of 1965 in New Hampshire that have not been duplicated there since and have not been reported anywhere else? Perhaps the debunkers are less critical of their own 'explanations' than those of UFO 'believers'?

            Now Pease Air Force Base has since been closed, but it used to house top secret aircraft. This base was also put on alert during the 1975 Loring Air Force Base intrusions. UFOs have been spotted over this installation many times. Further research indicated that Loring Air Force Base in Maine had a rash of UFO sightings during 1975. The base, along with others, was put on "Security Option 3" and was told to prepare to "Defend against a helicopter assault". However, the UFOs were never identified as helicopters, and many witnesses said they looked like bright "stretched-football" crafts about the size of a car. Jets were scrambled to intercept the UFOs, but their attempts proved unsuccessful. This base has nuclear installations. Loring was closed September 30, 1994.

            I decided that I had done enough research and went to eat at II Capriccio, a local restaurant. I had called earlier in the day and had reservations for 7:00 p.m. I wanted to get some of the great seafood in the area. From start to finish, II Capriccio was a delight. Pan-roasted snapper was refreshingly light, bursting with flavor, served atop a potato tart and garnished with artichokes. I had them remove the artichokes. I did find out that the pasta was homemade. A light lemon mousse with candied rinds was a refreshing finish. It had been a difficult decision to eat here because of so many types of food offered in this area: Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Korean, French, Bolivian, Greek, Latin American, Guatemalan, Vietnamese, Barbecue and various American fare.

            On my second day, I wanted to check out some of the local sights. In the morning I went to 'The Mount Vernon of the North' otherwise known as the Gore Estate, built in 1806. I had also promised myself time at Prospect Hill Park. It was worth the trip, among the lush foliage was a huge rock but it was not the 'Boston Rock' which was said to be in the park. I would just have to keep looking. I walked on rolling lands, now lush and green. The trees were full and plentiful. It was a place to enjoy all nature had to offer. The next day, I decided that I would drive to each area and see if I could find any physical evidence of all of these sightings. So I turned in early and prepared to leave the next morning at 7:00 a.m. I got an early start.

            I traveled West on US-20 to I-95 North, then to SR-2 (Exit 29). I turned West SR-2 to SR-126, continued North on SR-126 until I reached SR-62. I then went Southwest on SR-62 to SR-2, which took me Northwest on SR-2 towards Leominster. I then found myself heading for Fort Devens. I was to interview a soldier who had an experience in the early hours of the morning. This soldier had been alone when it happened. I found his information fascinating. He didn't want to be identified.

            He said: "I saw a silver gray oval object with six rotating lights on the bottom of the object. No known conventional aircraft were in the area at the time. I even had time to check the area for other eyewitnesses but could see no one. I then looked to where I had seen the object. It was still coming towards me. I didn't run out of fear, but stood there watching it. The next memory I have is of waking up to an alarm clock and getting ready for work."

            Interesting, I thanked him for coming forward and asked: "Have your superiors had been notified?"

            He answered very sharply: "Are you kidding? My security clearance could be revoked for this. I plan to make the military a career. I'm not a fool."

            I then went West on SR-2 to I-90. I continued South on I-90 to SR-12 (Exit 1), which took me Southwest on SR-12 to Worcester.

            Worcester is a college town and I had interviews scheduled with a few students. I had asked them to meet me at Nantucket Seafood on Exchange Place, so we could discuss what had happened. I wanted the students to feel at ease and be able to answer what might be difficult questions. Again I received the same description from all three. It was a silver gray oval object with six rotating lights on the bottom of the object. The time of the student's sightings occurred only forty-five minutes from the soldier's sighting at Fort Devens. I thanked them, paid for the meal and left.

            I then went East on SR-9 to I-290. I continued Northeast on I-290 towards Marlborough to I-495 (Exit 26). This then took me Northeast on I-495 to US-3 (Exit 35) and then I continued northeast until I found SR-110. I then found myself in Lowell, Massachusetts. I got a room for the night at the Doubletree Hotel. I was just too tired to return to Waltham. I had already paid the bill back there, so I felt it was not necessary to return. I had everything in my rental car, anyway. I had arranged to meet some senior citizens at Old Worthen House on Worthen Street, the next morning. They gave me the same description as the Fort Devens, and Worcester sightings. 'It was a silver gray oval object with six rotating lights on the bottom of the object. The time of the sightings occurred only forty-five minutes from the Worcester sighting. They had been scared at the time and had not reported it to the local authorities.' Now it started to sound like a pattern was emerging. I needed some quiet time before going on to New Hampshire. I thanked them for their cooperation.

            It was still early in the day, so I went to Lowell National Historical Park on Kirk Street. I went to the Visitors Center first. It housed one of the city's original textile mill. Boott Mills Museum had an exhibit, which had an operating weave room of 88 power looms that captured my attention. It was intriguing. I then went back to the hotel and consolidated my notes. I had everything tied out and decided to leave later that night. I had gotten a good nap and was anxious to get to Exeter for the next phase of my research. I left about 11:00 p.m.

            The night was clear and the weather was a touch cool. I went Southeast on SR-38 to I-495. This took me past Lawrence, Massachusetts and then to I-95 North (Exit 56). I continued on and paid a toll on a small portion of this road. I got off at SR-101 and went northwest until I saw the turn off for SR-108. I kept on SR-108 for a few more miles, until I saw the turn off for SR-33. I was in an Easterly direction when I heard a strange humming sound. I turned off the car radio and rolled down the windows. Since there was no one else on this road, I stopped the car. I got out, leaving the driver's door open.

            Approximately ten feet away, in the sky, was an unusual looking object. My heart started racing, and I felt as if something was stuck in my throat. Was this the feeling of fear? I think it might be! I felt so scared that I just stood there and watched it come closer. As it came closer, I noticed that it was silver gray in color and oval shaped. Was this the same ship that all the people I had interviewed had seen? I also noticed that the humming sound had increased. It was then that I noticed a strange blue light surrounding me, coming from above. I felt a tingling sensation throughout my body and felt very light. I could feel myself floating upward towards an opening in the base of the ship. I felt my heart race again, as I entered the ship and the opening closed.

            Suddenly, there was a flash of bright light and I fell to my knees. I couldn't see anything. I knew that I was inside a ship. Who it belonged to, God only knows! My fear did not disappear. In fact, it had increased because all I saw now were big black spots. My ears were still ringing from that humming sound. So I couldn’t see or hear if anyone else was in the room. It was then that I felt something grab my arms to help me up. I screamed! Whatever it was it was cool and rubbery. There was a buzzing sound near my ears and my hearing returned back to normal. I felt what I could only describe as an itch inside my head, when I heard a quiet meek voice say: 'Do not be alarmed, you are safe. Your eyesight will be normal soon.'

            I thought I was going nuts! Here I am inside a strange place, ears/eyes not working right, feeling something rubbery and cool holding on to my arms, and then hearing voices. Wouldn't you think you're crazy too? The black spots were going away and my eyes were starting to focus.

            Whoa, these guys were strange looking! They were approximately 5 feet tall, pink to gray in color, four fingers to each hand, huge black eyes. Two more entered the room. It was then that I heard that quiet voice again. I didn't see any of them talking like we do. Yet I heard it clearly in my mind. I wondered if this was telepathy. It was then that I heard in my mind, a simple 'yes'. They escorted me down a hall to a smaller room. The walls looked like gray scales. The floor felt smooth. One of them had me sit down on a small pedestal and pointed a small strange looking device at my head. (It looked similar to a kid's wand with a pointed blue crystal on top, but it had hieroglyphs on the handle.)

            I heard buzzing in my ears and felt nauseous for a while. As it went away, I realized that I could not move. It was then that I heard the quiet voice in my head again: "Do not fear, this is for your protection. It is time to go back to the mother ship. This scout ship works quite well in this atmosphere and for short interplanetary flights."

            The acceleration was nothing like our spacecraft. Per an interview I had done with one of our space shuttle astronauts, this was very smooth. There were none of the g-forces the astronauts had warned me about. One of the aliens came in and with a wave of his hand; a view screen appeared on the wall in front of me. This enabled me to see that we were leaving the Earth's atmosphere. We were going at such an incredible speed. I couldn't believe that the gravitational pull was not affecting us. As if he had read my mind, the alien said: "It is too complicated to explain why your gravitational pull is not affecting us but maybe later you will understand why."

            How did he know what I was thinking? I was confused by his answer but decided to just wait and see. I was glad when he left. It hit me then, would I ever return to Earth? Would my friends and family wonder where I am? How would the car rental company feel about me leaving the car open and unattended on the middle of the highway? How would the police, explain it? My purse which had all my money, credit cards, keys, and so forth and all my notes were left in that car, damn! What about my hotel reservations in Exeter? This was very inconvenient.

            Oh, great now I had to go to the bathroom and no one was around. As soon as I had finished thinking this, one of the little guys came in. He had that wand with him and released me from being paralyzed. He pointed to another section of the room and a tube appeared. He said: "go in there," in a commanding tone.

            I didn't argue because I had to go bad. I didn't even care if he watched or not. All I knew was when you have to go—you go.

            As soon as I had entered the tube, a pedestal with a bowl came up. I just did my business there and got out. After I left the tube, it went back to wherever it had come from. It was then that I felt really tired and noticed on my watch that it was rather late. I had seen the ship around 3:00 a.m. and it was now 5:00 p.m. I wasn't hungry, which surprised me, but I felt really tired.

            He moved his hand over a light panel and another pedestal appeared. He told me again in a commanding tone to lie down and I would be all right.

            I don't know why but I felt compelled to do so. I did and it felt softer than it looked. The lights dimmed and I felt myself drift into a sound sleep. I don’t know how long I slept but the ship felt different. I automatically checked my watch but it had stopped working. The last time I remembered looking at it was before I went to sleep. Just then one of the aliens entered and told me to come with him.

            I saw him wave that wand again and the pedestal dissolved into the wall. He then took my hand and I heard this voice within my mind say: 'You need to stay with me, now. It is for your own good that you stay close. If you do not cooperate, there are other methods of taking you into the mother ship. I will talk to you and try to explain as we go along.' His hand felt cool and rubbery, but for some unexplained reason I felt calm.

            I just wondered what lay ahead. This was a totally different experience for me. I was scared just seeing this ship. I was running on adrenaline as it was. He escorted me to the room that the beam had brought me up to. From there we went down a ramp inside a much bigger ship. This new ship was huge! It felt very large.

            The air smelled strange as if something was missing. There were so many ships in here. I'd say at least 25,000. He had to pull my arm to get me to move. I was trying to absorb what I was seeing: the lighting was subdued—yellow light but foggy, there were various different styles of ships—cone shaped, crystalline, oval, circular, triangular, different size beings—3-, 4-, and 6-feet tall. It was just too much to see all at once and I was expected just to pass through.

            How rude! Who knows if I'll get to remember all this? How many of my own species have seen these sights? I wish some of our scientists and government types could see this. It would be fun to see their jaws drop! They keep telling the general public that it's all our imagination. I can tell you for a fact that it is not!

            He kept pulling my arm and said: 'My superiors want to see you. We must move on'.

            It was really hard too, though. We walked straight for just a little bit more and then went through a triangular doorway. It felt different here. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood up. I also felt fear. It smelled strange too. The odor was floral. I don't know if he was projecting fear or if I actually felt it. We walked up and stood at a promenade. It was like looking down the escalator from the 4th floor of a shopping mall.

            I could look down and see others of his kind and other humans too. I wanted to see more, but he pulled me along. I felt disappointed because there was so much to see. The flow of people below was fantastic. It is similar to watching ants when they come out of their nest.

            We then walked through another hall and came to a spot that had three entranceways. He chose the one in the middle. These walls were gray and looked like scales. The floor was still smooth. The lighting was the same color as a bug light. It wasn't long before we stopped. The room we were in was out of sight. It was very bright with huge ceilings. A high backed chair, similar to old English royalty, was centered in the middle of the room. There were two entrances parallel with either corner of the back of the chair. A view screen was covering the entire left side of the room.

            We had rushed to get here? The individual I was supposed to meet wasn’t even here. How disappointing? It was then that I noticed a five-foot eleven inches tall, a medium frame, shoulder-length blond hair human enter the room. I was taken by his appearance. He was gorgeous! It struck me as odd though that he was here. He sat on the chair and had one of the others that had come in with him bring me a cushion to sit on.

            This man exuded power. He looked like the average human, fair-skinned with dreamy eyes but there was something hidden within those eyes. My guide introduced me to him and then he left. I thought it was rather abrupt.

            The leader motioned for me to sit. I did. I did notice that the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck had subsided. I was now feeling a little sick to my stomach. It was probably lack of food, but then again it could be basic fear. All sorts of questions were running through my mind: How did this human become leader? Did he use the little guys? How could he take me from Earth?

            Almost as if he sensed my apprehension, he motioned for another to come closer. I saw them adjust a device and place it in their ear. The new one then gave me one and motioned for me to do the same.

            The leader then spoke in a heavy Australian accent and to my amazement I understood what he said. 'I am called Benu, by my people. I am not of your world. Our worlds have traveled similar paths but we are different. By appearance though, we are similar. You are the first human female I have seen in quite some time. The person, who gave you this device, so you could understand our language, is called Rale.’

            Rale nodded his head.

            “He will be your guide for as long as you're with us. While you were asleep, our equipment and my helpers monitored your bodily functions. So we know that you need to nourish yourself, evacuate bodily functions at certain intervals, and cleanse yourself. I will have Rale take you to another area for that in just a moment. After you have refreshed yourself, he will bring you back here. I wish to talk to you about your world.”

            His voice sounded no different than ours, it registered emotion. It even sounded not unlike someone from Australia or Great Britain. The accents were very similar. This accent I heard coming from him, suited him. Yet there was something about his eyes.

            Rale looked about five foot eleven inches tall, a medium body frame, square face, short hair brunette, his skin tone was medium and he had brown eyes. He motioned for me to follow him. We went out one of the back entrances to the room.

            This part of the ship felt different. I felt a low resonating hum flow through me. It didn't seem as barren as the rest of the ship that I had just walked through.

            This section had smooth walls, not scaly looking like the rest. The lighting was a blue-white lighting. Crystalline tuning forks with bulbs generated the lights in the ceiling. We really didn't walk far from the huge room where Benu was. Rale then motioned for me to enter the room with a neon green symbol above the doorway.

            This symbol looked remarkably like old Chinese writing. Rale started explaining about the room we had just entered. 'This room has been set up for various species we've encountered. As you can see, we have viewing ports. The opening in the wall to your right is a universal food dispenser. By touching various keys you will be able to eat anything you desire.”

            I noticed that these keys looked similar to our microwave buttons but had strange symbols on them.

            “There are foods from many different species in there. Most of the food can be handled by your bodily functions. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them.”

            If I had questions, boy did I! I had so many I didn't know where to begin. First, though I had to get something to eat before I passed out. Since I didn't know what each symbol represented. I stood looking at them. I turned to him and said: "I don't know what these symbols mean. Could you find something to fit my needs?"

            Rale keyed something up for me. The dish was triangular, and sectioned. The appearance was not unlike baby food but what the heck. The bright orange tasted like sweet potatoes. The purple had a texture like ground beef and tasted the same. The bright yellow looked like cornmeal mush but tasted like corn. He then produced a liquid, which was a bright blue and felt cold. He also got himself a plate. His plate had some strange looking edibles on it. There was a purple item that looked like a big baked potato but with tentacles (still wiggling). There was a dark green item that looked like wiggling worms. He also had a beige item that looked like pudding. He got the same bright blue liquid. We went near the view ports where tables had been set up. These tables were coming out of the floor and would not move for anything. They looked like fine white marble with pedestals.

            As we got started on our meals, I felt comfortable enough to start asking my questions. Looking Rale straight in the eyes, I asked: "Why me? I'm just an ordinary person. "

            Rale answered (in a heavy Australian accent): "At the time of taking, you were alone and it suited our purposes."

            We continued with our meals and then I asked more questions. "Will I always need this translating device in my ear to understand what any of you are saying? Is there any way I can study your cultural history? Technologies? Transportation? Explore the ship? How long will it take to get to where we are going and when do we go back to see Benu?"

            As he answered each question, I noticed more beings were coming in to eat. There were a variety of species represented. I noticed a tall blue being with a snout nose, dark black eyes, and two antennae on the top of his head. He had on a yellow tunic with a brown belt with tools on it. I also saw more of the little pink-gray guys. They came in three at a time. Curious, everyone else was singular but those guys came in sets of three.

            How did these people live? Did they have feelings? Are they just workers? I knew that the pink-gray guys could use telepathy but could any of the others? Hopefully I would be getting answers to these questions.

            Rale suggested: “It’s time to leave.” He disposed of the plates with a wave of his hand. We walked back the same way we had come. To my surprise, Benu was still in there. He had Rale and the others leave while we talked some more.

            I thought this was strange. Was there something that he didn't want his people to hear? Was he going to do something he didn't want his people to see? I had to watch this one very carefully.

            He got off his English chair and asked me to walk with him to the view screen. He then moved his hand in the air, as if touching some hidden panel, and two chairs came up from the floor. They looked like the ends of plastic ice cream scoops.

            The impression I got, was he wanted to make me feel at ease. We sat in those chairs. A strange mist flowed down from the top, once she sat all the way back. It smelled of lavendar. The mist was starting to get into my eyes. I had to close them.

            Benu knew exactly what was happening and waited patiently. This was why he had these chairs come up. The mist was absorbed through the eyes and went directly to the brain. The lavender smelling mist had numerous properties: enhancement of memory and suggestibility. It even made the individual docile—easily led and managed—if given enough. The mist had been tested on human males during their evolutionary growth - Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, Homo Sapiens. This was the latest version of the mist. He hoped that it would live up to its design. He watched Christina very closely as her eyes started to close. He spoke gently and quietly, leaning forward for her to hear: “Christina, you will keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them. You will let the mist help you. It will help you to remember more clearly so you can answer my questions.”

            Christina’s breathing was slow. Her facial expression showed complete relaxation.

            “Remember the word: Xanthu. You will return to this state of being and obey whoever says that word. You will follow their instructions implicitly without any doubt or reservation. Now open your eyes and we will have our little talk.”

            We then discussed how long they had been visiting Earth. This was when she asked: "When do I get to go home?"

            He said: "Since mankind stepped out of the caves, we have visited Earth in various crucial time periods—your Iron Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age, and so forth. We have taken people from your world to visit ours. You are interested in our cultural history, transportation technologies, and exploring the ship?”

            Rale and I had discussed that alone in another room. How did he know this?

            “We have a program set up for any being that asks. This program is accessed during your sleep time. We have found that several different species respond better to learning new information during this time.”

            And what else happens came to mind. How many brains have you overloaded and made vegetables? Why haven’t I seen any of my own kind? I didn't trust this one.

            “After your sleep program, perhaps I'll let you explore the ship. Rale will be with you. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you.”

            That sounded ominous. The tone of his voice on the last remark was unsettling.

            “Now to answer your previous questions, you will be staying with us for a while.”

            I was disappointed. I guess it showed on my face, because he then asked me: "Is that a problem?"

            I explained: "I have scheduled a meeting with an old friend three days now. My research was planned for a three- month stay, but the friend was meeting me in Springfield, Massachusetts. I haven't seen Césare in years. I was looking forward to talking to him again. What would he think if I didn't show up?"

            Rale entered the room and was standing behind Christina's chair. She never heard him enter the room. At that moment, Rale interrupted and said (in a heavy Australian accent): "We will be landing in thirty minutes, Earth time. Benu looked at Rale.

            It was as if there was a private communication going on between them. Then he looked at Christina and said: “You can get a good view of the approach to our planet, Motrae, from here. Come around with me.”

            Taking her hand, helping her out of the chair, he walked her to the view port.

“I'll show you the nearest star system that your people have just discovered.”

            They had succeeded in diverting her attention.

            It was a chance of a lifetime! I've always believed that the universe was too big for just us. Now I had my chance to study with an alien race.

            The colors of their home world from space were quite similar to our pictures of Earth from space. The landmasses were shaped differently than ours, but the blue-green color for water was the same. I just couldn't believe that this huge ship was going to land on that planet.

            Benu left then and told Rale to stay with me. I felt no deceleration whatsoever. The planet just kept getting closer in the view screen, until it filled it completely. We then saw a clear blue sky. Looking out we flew over rocky terrain, plains, and there was a city in the distance.

            Rale explained in his heavy Australian accent: “The ship is too large to land in the city so we're landing at the nearest spaceport. This one is not as active, but you will see other craft and different species walking about.”

            After everything was shut down, Rale walked her out of the room. They went down a different corridor than before. It was darker and not as wide. He led the way and held her hand with her following behind. The pace was faster than any of her other walks with him. They went down a sharp incline and she almost fell. He apologized but as he helped her up he explained: "We need to hurry. You have a party to go to tonight. This party is so people from various learning institutes and governmental departments could meet you. They will be helping you so you may walk among us without causing mass panic.”

            The look on her face was surprise. How could I cause mass panic, she thought?

            “There isn't much time. I need to get you to your assigned quarters so you may freshen up and change clothes.”

            What he didn't tell her was that he had an important meeting to attend to before the party. They got off the ship. She was astounded by the sights, sounds, and smells, the hustle and bustle of a port, the voices of different species talking, and the smells of those species. There were whistles, clicks, hisses, and burps. The smells varied from sweet smelling, like roses or gardenias to foul, like cigar smoke or rotting garbage. There was a party tonight, so I could meet everyone that would be helping me?

            Now I wondered about this. Why a party so soon? This struck me as a 'zoo specimen' being paraded before the local species. The general populace didn't know anything about me. Who would be there? If it was the science and behavorial types, it would be like vets checking out the new animal. I had to be on my guard for this party. God only knows what will happen tonight!

            The city was out of sight. The buildings came in various styles and colors. There were triangular, oval, gnarled-bush shaped (which pulsated), and three-dimensional. The colors: bright purple, a mix of purple/yellow green, neon orange, bright red, silver metallic, buttercup yellow, and other blends. It was totally 'alien' but visually fascinating. The sidewalks were like our escalators, but smoother.

            There were hovercrafts of various shapes and sizes floating about. There were air cars of various shapes and sizes, too. Yet the air was pure, and did not smell of diesel or any other pollutant like our world. She hoped that she would get to explore the city while she was here. It also seemed that she was being rushed to their destination. She was taken to her quarters and told that this would be her residence until she decided to leave. She was surprised to hear that because she had received the impression that she was a prisoner or just a lab rat.

            The colors in the quarters were so relaxing and soothing. They would change automatically to deepen the mood. It was as if the room could sense what you were feeling, as if it were sentient. Rale left and promised that he would return later. Before he went down the hall, he had adjusted the outside door controls. She would not be able to leave the room, much less the building. He didn't like to do that but orders were orders.

            As Rale left for a meeting with Benu, he couldn't help but think why this act? Why do they always treat humans in such a fashion? He rather enjoyed the different species he had met. It was always fascinating to learn of other worlds and their beliefs, their culture, and so forth.

            He really liked Christina. He didn't have anyone on the home world. He had not found the right person. His job didn't really let him socialize much. He did enjoy the arts--especially music. He was quite good with creating paintings and sculptures. He was an only child and his parents had 'passed to a higher realm' a few years ago. He hoped that Benu wasn't going to hurt Christina. He quickened his pace. He was almost at the prearranged meeting place. It had been set up in a park eight blocks from where they had Christina quartered. Her building was also far enough away from the spaceport, should she manage to escape, that she would be recaptured before going off-world.

            Rale didn't know that Benu had also notified various individuals to look out for her, just in case she did get out of the building. Benu was sitting on a park bench when he arrived. There was some children playing with their hover boards but they were not too close. Rale walked up to Benu. Benu said (in a heavy Australian accent): “Sit down. Did you get her settled in?”

            Rale answered: “Yes, she's all settled in. Why do we have to do this? It's not right.”

            Benu replied: “As I have explained before, they are primitives. What they don't know won't hurt them. If we find the right one, the better it is for us. Just follow my orders or you will be removed from this case. I want you to gain her confidence. Stay with her at all times. Give her enough information for her questions but not enough for her to really find out anything. Make sure she attends that party tonight! You can go now!” He waved his hand to dismiss him before he could ask a question.

            Rale knew it was no further use to talk to him. He walked away. His face showed a little sadness over the situation. He had to take a deep breath and compose himself. He went through the park and walked a few blocks to his left. It took him into the middle of the city. His place was in the ziggurat style building, on the very top. Quite similar to the ancient temples found on Earth in Central America, only more modern.

            He placed his palm at the entrance of the building and it recognized him. The door opened. He used the elevation platform to get up to his room. It was a circular device that lifted once you were on it. It was automatic. It took him to the top and he stepped off. He walked to his right and stood in front of his place. He placed his palm on the control panel to the right of his door. The door opened. Inside was the smell of home. He had flowering plants, similar to the orchids on planet Earth, except they were five times as big. He had chosen modern comfortable furniture. There wasn't much but it was functional. The main color theme was blue, but it was subdued due to his present state of mind. He checked the house communicator for any messages. He had been gone for six months.

            This was a little view screen on the right wall, covering half of it. There were two messages waiting for him. Each had a different icon on the screen. He pressed the first one it was from a long time friend. The other icon he recognized as one from Benu. Before he sat down on a papa-san style chair, he touched the icon again.

            The chair had a metal framework but the cushion was blue. It felt like sitting on air. It also adjusted to body temperature and weight. Orem came on the view screen. A male with shoulder-length blond hair, an oval face and bronze skin tone appeared. His piercing blue eyes looked at him and you could feel his full attention.

            Rale said in a heavy Australian accent: "I just got back. It was good to hear from you."

            Orem replied in a German accent: "I wanted to make sure you were all right, since you had been apprehensive about this last trip. If there is anything you would like to discuss? I'm here."

            Rale looked at his friend, and then looked around almost as if to check if any one else was listening or watching. He then said: "Benu is up to his old tricks again. He's found a human from planet Earth as they call it. He has arranged one of his parties tonight. It's to test her! She doesn't really know what is going to happen. I'm a little worried about her safety. You know what he's done to the others. You were there for that and that was why you left. They didn't survive the tests!"

            Orem could see that his friend was indeed worried and said: "Keep me informed. I still have some connections. If you need me, you know how to get in touch. Try not to worry. This human may surprise all of you, winking his eye at him just before terminating the connection."

            The screen in Rale's apartment went black. He was curious about Orem's last statement: 'This human may surprise all of you!' What did he mean by that? He would have to ask him later. He got up and touched the icon from Benu. It was a voice message only, a reminder about tonight's party.

            A few minutes later, a scenic view came on. He had preprogrammed scenes from the home world to come on when the view screen was active. This one was of a waterfall on the other side of the continent. The sound that accompanied it made the individual feel as if they were standing right next to those falls. It also had the smell of the falls and surrounding vegetation. It permeated the air.

            Rale was hungry. He walked over to the kitchen and there was a machine, just like the one in the ship that dispensed food. When the machine made a loud ping sound, the food came out on a tray with utensils. The nice thing about these machines is no dishes. When one was done with the food, the dish and other utensils were placed on an octagon shape on the top of the counter and within minutes it would be broken down into their basic components. It would be recycled and used again.

            He decided to rest a little. He spoke out loud and told the room:" Let me rest for four hours, but make sure I'm up after that. I have to change clothes and leave for an appointment."

            The lights dimmed automatically and he settled in the papa-san style chair in the main front room. He took some deep breaths and slowly exhaled. He closed his eyes. He reached a deep meditative state and his whole body relaxed.

            Meanwhile Christina was checking out the room she was in. While she was looking around, the view screen on the right wall came on. It showed various buttons and pictures for what they stood for. She touched one that looked like it was for speaking. She pressed it for a second time. A voice came on, cold and metallic, speaking unintelligible. She exclaimed: "Wow!"

            The voice then switched to English. "How can this be happening? She asked it.

            The screen answered in a sexy male tone: "This is a sentient living area. We can talk to the occupants, feed and clothe them. We can also entertain them. We are equipped with a universal translator unit, so we may speak with any species. We were told of your arrival. All has been prepared for you. There are clothes in the back room that should fit you. We can also show you how to change the mood in each room."

            She was amazed. Surprise registered on her face. Little did she know that all of her facial expressions were being recorded and transmitted to Benu's house. They were keeping a record of her reactions and her movements. She was curious about the clothes but was feeling tired. She wanted to get some rest before tonight's party. She asked the screen: "How do I set a room up for sleep? I'm tired and need to rest. When will I know to get up for tonight's party?"

            The screen answered in a sexy male tone: "We have already set up the other room for your rest. We will lead you by turning the other lights off. A resting platform has been provided and the lighting is suitable. We already know what time your guest will come to get you for the party. We will awaken you in plenty of time to prepare."

            The lights turned off in the room she was in. A light came on ahead of her in the ceiling leading her into another room. She walked into the new area. This room was huge! There was a resting platform in the center. The light was directly above it. She couldn't make out the rest of the room it was too dark. She really didn't care right now. She was so tired. As she got nearer to the platform the lights dimmed even more. She then heard the sound of water flowing, not unlike waves crashing on the beach at home. She took off her shoes and climbed up on the resting platform, which was three feet off the floor. With the sounds of the ocean waves she was asleep within five minutes.

            There was no need for covers for the bed adjusted to the individual’s body temperature. It also monitored bodily functions and recorded any dreams from a circular pad in the middle of the headboard. This pad was directly above the individual's head and once asleep it moved forward for contact. The person to whom the device attached itself to did not feel it and all dreams were recorded.

            While she slept her mind was going over all the events that had brought her to this place: The interviews with people in Massachusetts, the actual sighting on the highway, the lifting of her body to the underside of the ship, the emotions displayed as well as the actual events. All of this was being recorded and transmitted to Benu's home. It would be displayed for all the department heads and government personnel before she arrived at the party.

            A melodic tone woke me and informed me of the time. A gown had been set out for me to wear. No one else was in here except me, so it was quite surprising to find that gown on the bed. I sleep rather light and would have heard if anyone had come in. I was somewhat puzzled how the gown got there. I got up, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and stretched. My mouth tasted awful. I spoke to the room: "Are there bathing facilities here?"

            The room still spoke in a sexy male tone: "If you will follow the lights, I will take you there. Everything is automated. Remove your clothing at the side entrance, step on the conveyor belt and you will be bathed. Near the end is an elimination station for removal of body wastes."

            The lights in the ceiling were leading her from the resting platform to the left. She had not known that this was even there. She removed all of her clothing. Little did she know that they would be cleaned and placed on the resting platform by the time she came out on the other end.

            Her every move was still being recorded even in there. She had no idea this was being done. She stepped on the conveyor belt as instructed. The belt started moving once it felt the weight of the individual on it. It moved at a steady slow pace. Warm soapy water came from the ceiling and sprayed all over her body. She lathered up. She was moved then a little to the right and warm clear water rinsed the soap off. She was moved further to the right and warm forceful air dried her entire body. It held her there until her hair dried.

            She spoke to the room then: "How do I fix my hair? I didn't bring anything with me to do that."

            The room replied: "Step off the conveyor when your hair is completely dry. Take two steps forward toward the wall."

            Her hair was finally dry and she did as the room told her. A space on the wall appeared to turn into a mirror. Two little appendages came out and started fixing her hair. It felt like tiny little fingers going through her hair. It did not look like a brush or a comb, yet it came out perfect. A pleased look was on her face. As if it knew the job was done, the two appendages returned into the wall. She stepped back on the conveyor belt and was moved to the 'elimination station' where she relieved herself. It was a tube, just like on the spaceship. As soon as she entered it, a pedestal with a bowl came up. She did her business and felt air being sucked down. A blast of water and then air burst up to cleanse and dry her. She voiced: "Oooh!"

            Definitely a different experience, the water and air had caught her by surprise. She stepped out of the bathing area and walked back to the resting platform. She was amazed to find her clothes clean and folded on it. She figured she was in the bath for ten minutes, at the most.

            She asked the room: "How did my clothes get clean? Where did this gown come from?"

            The room replied: "There are little cleaners who take care of cleaning and other things. Why don't you try on the gown? There is no need to put your undergarments back on. The dress will accommodate for that. Your guest will be arriving shortly."

            She was surprised to hear that. The gown looked like a normal form-fitting scoop neck sleeveless dress lying on the resting platform. Yet there was something different about this gown. She noticed it as she pulled it on over her head. It adjusted to her body temperature. It was form fitting! It clung to every curve of her body. It felt as if it was alive, somehow. She actually felt as if she had panties on. It was weird! There was a matching pair of slippers, too. These were like one-inch pumps, very comfortable. They felt as if you were walking on air.

            She spoke to the room: "Is there any way I can see what this looks like?"

            The room answered: "Turn to your left, walk straight to the wall. It's forming now."

            She did as she was instructed and found a full length mirror. She exclaimed: "Wow!" She felt and looked great! She never had a dress that made her look this good before. It looked as if the dress was flowing around her body, almost like water swirling around her. The color was even an aquamarine---like the depths of the ocean. It didn't just drape like normal dresses.

            Just then a different melodic tone was heard, and an announcement from the room: "Your guest has arrived. He's entering now."

            She walked out to the front room. The door swished open and Rale walked in. The door closed automatically after he came in. They just stood there looking each other over. By the look on his face, the dress definitely caught him by surprise. He was dressed in a Nehru style jacket and trousers. It was the same fluid motion as her dress. The color matched hers too. How strange? She was feeling a little hungry.

            Rale said in a heavy Australian accent: "You look great! Do you need anything before we go?"

            Her eyes opened wide and she replied: "You don't look half-bad yourself! I could use something to eat. I'm hungry."

            All the apartments were set up exactly the same on his world, only the decorations and color were individual. He walked over to the kitchen area, where the food dispenser was. He dialed her drink. This should take care of you for a while. The glass was squared and held a pink liquid. It looked like strawberry quik. It tasted just like it, too. He joined her with a glass.

            When they were finished, he took the glasses back to the kitchen. She saw that he had put them on an octagon shape on the center of the counter. Within a minute the two glasses were gone they disappeared. "How did that happen?" she asked him.

            "A sensor on the octagon shape tells it something is there. The glasses are reduced to their molecular structure and absorbed. It will be used again. Are you ready to go?" she replied.

            "Am I all right as I am or do I need something else?" she asked him.

            "You are just fine as you are. If you'll come with me, I'll take you to the party in your honor." he replied. He took her arm and intertwined it with his. They walked toward the door and it opened for them. The door closed behind them and everything was shut down. They walked down the hall and to the right. This took them to the door leading outside of the building. They stepped onto the street and it was a warm starry night.

            The stars looked so different here than on Earth. It still took her breath away. They walked arm in arm down the street to the end of the block and turned left. Rale told her about the city as they traveled through it to get to their leader's home. He said: "The city was originally built around the turn of the century, Earth time --- 21st Century. All the conveniences you humans take for granted are standard here. We have many items that are not even found on your world: teleportation booths, air cars, conveyor walks, sentient living quarters, and an abundance of natural resources. We haven't had a war in centuries! We have even managed to explore and colonize several nearby galaxies: Andromeda Spiral, Triangulum Spiral, and the Milky Way (in Alpha Centauri, Omega Centauri, Proxima Centauri)."

            I had never imagined that they had gone so far in their space colonizations and explorations. We had just established a colony on Mars. The Moon colony had only been established for four years.

            The time had passed quickly. The night lights were different, almost like fireworks for the fourth of July.

            Rale told her: "You should expect various high level department heads at this party.”

            She had been right about the 'zoo thing'.

            “I will explain who heads what department. I won't leave your side.”

            The buildings that they had passed had been so beautiful. She saw pyramidal, spherical, ovoid, needle, and normal square shaped buildings. It was simply amazing. Even though they were all different, they fit together. They had walked nine city blocks, by Earth standard. She only saw a few others walking around. They stared at her and continued on their way. She noticed that some of the trees along the way, at least she thought they were trees, looked like ash trees on Earth. They were very white and tall. She could have walked anywhere in these shoes. Having Rale next to her was nice, too.

            Rale stopped and said: "We have arrived. If you look straight ahead, the triple domed house. That's Benu's house. I believe you call that style a geodesic dome?"

            She shook her head, yes. She took a deep breath and said: "Let's go!"

            They entered through the front door. It was nothing like she thought it would be. The place was very spacious and looked as if they had just entered a huge arboretum. It was a little humid though. It looked twice as big as the outside. There were lots of people there, but it didn't look crowded like a formal party on Earth.

            The people who were near the entrance stopped talking and just stared at her. The men all wore the same style Nehru jacket and trousers. Yet there were different colors and patterns. There was a neon orange one, a dark brown with a thin yellow pinstripe, and a black and white checkered one. The one that surprised her was a violet purple. Wow! It was strange to say the least. The color range was out of this world—every color imaginable. The women were in different style dresses. Some had wings, some had feathers and some had twinkling lights. There were long sleeved, short-sleeved, and sleeveless gowns. The color range was out of this world—every color imaginable. All the gowns were floor length.

            Rale led her to another section of the house. It was toward the right of the entrance. As they left you could hear the chatter pick up. There were quite a few people in here, too. Rale walked toward Benu and another man. She heard Benu call him Mirt.

            Rale whispered in her ear: "He's the head of the Extraterrestrial Studies Division for academic and government."

            Everyone was still staring at Christina again. It was unnerving to say the least. What she didn't know was that everyone had seen everything she had done since she was on planet. Benu saw Rale and motioned for him to come closer.

            It was then that Mirt turned around and said: "Yes, do join us. But I suggest that the four of us go to another section of the house for a more private chat first. You can meet everyone else later."

            Benu agreed. He led them through several rooms. Each was strange looking. One had a black and white motif, a swirl pattern; another had a blue and white striped motif. The furniture in each room was very hard to locate because they matched the color and the pattern of the rooms. They ended up in what looked like a trophy room. The hunter's green on the walls with the wood crown moldings separating it from the floor was just like what you would find on Earth in high society. There were paintings on the walls depicting various hunting methods. She only had a brief chance to glance at these because they were asking her to sit down on a papa-san style chair. She did. She had a few seconds to reflect on what had just happened. The rest of the party continued and didn't really act as if this was unusual.

            I thought it was kind of strange. A new person, who was told they were the main reason for the party, was leaving with three from the party and not being introduced to the others. We just don't do that sort of thing on Earth.

            Mirt sat directly across from her and kept eye contact, while Benu sat across from Rale. Rale sat next to her. Only the four of them were in this huge room. The lighting seemed dimmed. Mirt started the conversation by saying: "Xanthu!"

            Rale looked over at Benu with a questioning look. Benu motioned for him to be still. Christina closed her eyes and entered a state of deep relaxation.

            Mirt then said: "You will be able to hear my voice and my voice only. You will obey my commands without hesitation. We will talk in depth about your people and your life. Once we conclude our talk, you will return to your normal state of mind until I suggest 'preliminary tests' then you will return to this state of mind. You will then walk with us through the house, without any protest or objection to the medical facilities. Nod your head, if you understand?"

            She nodded her head.

            Rale couldn’t believe that Benu had already used the mist on her. It was the only thing that could have put her in this state of mind. It must have been done on board the ship.

            Benu then said to Mirt: "Once she starts talking, I want it broadcast throughout the house. They've seen every movement and emotion so far. Are you ready?"

            Rale was shocked to hear that. He had not realized that Christina's movements and emotions had been recorded.

            Mirt then said: "Christina, please give us some background of your life. Tell us who you are…"

            Benu then lifted his hand in the air as if activating hidden controls. The interview was broadcasting throughout the house.

            Christina opened her eyes and said: "I'm a free-lance writer and live in Sandy, Oregon."

            "What is a free-lance writer?"

            She answered: "A person who writes for different people for money."

            "Please continue…"

            She replied: "I live alone. I haven't found the right person yet to settle down with. I've made friends wherever I go. I socialize on occasion but prefer to stay home or out in nature. All m basic needs are met, so I can travel a lot. I won a lot of money."

            "Why don't you tell us about your people?"

            She thought for a little while and said: "My people still fight among themselves. We do come together in a crisis. I believe that is when we are at our best."

            "Can you compare the technologies you have with the ones you've seen here?"

            She replied: "From what I've had access to, your power sources, and general facilities are way in advance of our own. We're still using fossil fuels. I've noticed no poverty, no hungry or homeless people, as on my world. You've colonized more worlds than we have. Our space station is ten years old. We've only had our colony on the Moon for five years. Our colony on Mars is just starting."

            "I think we've heard enough for now. Thank you for answering our questions."

            Christina closed her eyes, shook her head, and reopened her eyes. Everyone was standing around them. When they first sat down, it had just been the four of them and now—the room was full. It was strange and unnerving. How could she have not noticed a crowd of people entering the room? Something was wrong here! She had a puzzled look on her face.

            Benu got up and said in a heavy Australian accent: "Thank you all for coming. The party is over."

            Everyone stood up and they shook her hand, thanking her for her speech. She was somewhat baffled because it seemed as if she had just arrived. She was not aware that she had made a speech. As they left, Mirt walked to her side and asked in a whisper so only she could hear: "Would you mind going through some preliminary tests? You seem disoriented, I might be able to help you out."

            She had no objections, besides she felt it would be done whether she approved or not. Her instincts were still screaming that something strange was going on here. What she didn't realize was that Mirt had used his subliminal techniques, which worked with the lavendar gas from the ship to place her in a deep hypnotic trance without her knowledge and pumped her of all the information he had needed. That was why the time passed so quickly and the entire house had seen it on a view screen in the main area.

            It was to show them just how primitive a human was and how advanced their own people were. It didn't work as well with the other human specimens. He had destroyed their minds perfecting this method and then disposed of the bodies after having done medical research on them.

            After everyone left, the three of them took her to yet another section of the house. This made her feel as if she was "phasing out" again. It's that feeling where you're doing something but don't know what. Almost like being on automatic, like someone else was pulling the strings.

            She had heard about this type of feeling when the normal human senses were pushed to its limits, when extrasensory perceptions (ESP) increased, or when hypnosis was introduced without the awareness of the individual. There were too many variables. At this point she really didn't know which was occurring, for the day’s events were not normal by any means. It’s not every day that you get an interplanetary ride from beings from another world. There were too many new things happening and her body and mind was finally realizing what had happened.

            They were all walking to the third dome in the rear of the house. This was where tests and special guests were housed. Benu led the way, while Mirt was to her left and Rale was to her right.

            She wanted to stop but she couldn't. It was as if she had no control of her own body. This has never happened before and it frightened her. She screamed on the inside. How could this be happening?

            She heard their conversation. They were talking about extrasensory perception (ESP), hypnosis, and mind control. It was as if she was listening from a great distance. It was still audible but not very loud. She only heard the four words mentioned but not the whole conversation. She thought that was strange. Was there some type of mind block?

            The area they arrived at was barren, no decorations on the walls, the color was an oyster white. On Earth she had never been tested for ESP or been hypnotized, and she rarely let herself get run down to where she didn't know what was happening. They stopped. She just stood there. It was as if she had been stopped in her place by some sort of shield. The others went to check specific equipment.

            There was a papa-san style chair in the middle of the room. It was isolated from everything else. There was a control panel to the left. A cabinet filled with strange looking items to the right. She was looking up at the ceiling when she felt Rale lift her up to lie down on what looked like a plastic bubble. She could now hear Mirt speaking very clearly, but she couldn't move. What had they done to her?

            Mirt was explaining to the other two: “This so-called plastic bubble is integrated with some of the most advanced equipment that is available and it would tell me what is happening in Christina’s mind.”

            Rale stood next to Benu behind the control panel. Mirt was making sure that Christina was in the chair properly. The chair molded to her body perfectly. Her head was in the right position, resting, and supported by the material of the chair. He placed a black dot on her temples and the middle of her forehead in the third eye region. He said: "It's all right to close your eyes now."

            She felt as if she was floating on air and just closed her eyes. It was just the right temperature, nice and warm. She heard the three of them talking but it seemed as if they were so far away. Yet she knew that they were only a few feet from her.

            Mirt backed away and walked back to the control panel, where Benu and Rale were waiting. Benu said in a heavy Australian accent: "Start the test now and make sure you record everything!"

            Mirt adjusted the diamond shaped controls on the panel, setting the right frequencies to bring her mind to an Theta rhythm. Rale just stood quietly and watched.

            I started seeing different star systems, nebula, and quasars. Everything seemed so vivid and real. I have never had this type of experience before. I then started to pick out individual planets in these star systems. Some were the third from their sun, others were the fourth from their sun. Each planet seemed to be able to sustain my life form. I stayed on each world for a very short time to notice the type of flora, fauna, and animal life that was on each planet.

            Suddenly I came back, as if I had been propelled back to where I started. What just happened? It was a dream, wasn't it? I just fell asleep during his tests, yet I felt exhausted. She barely heard Mirt explaining what had happened to Rale and Benu. It was hard to believe, but what she had thought to be a vivid dream had actually happened.

            Benu suggested: "You should spend the night here instead of going back to your quarters."

            Mirt agreed: "You should stay. I'm not certain if this episode will happen again."

            Turning to face Rale he said: "Stay with Christina. I don't want her left alone. Keep me informed if another episode occurs."

            Christina did not have the energy to get out of the chair much less walk to the sleeping chambers. Rale carried her to yet another section of the house. She rested her head against his shoulder and started falling asleep in his arms.

            Meanwhile Benu and Mirt were discussing the strategic implications of what had just happened. "We've tried this on several humans before and it has never worked. She showed no signs of having any ESP abilities when our scouts first located her. The lavendar mist worked quite well. She was totally oblivious to her surroundings. I feel that we could accomplish quite a lot with her. We should be able to develop her powers as far as they can go. We'll do some more tests tomorrow."

            Benu showed Mirt to a room. They retired for the night.

            She woke up the next morning and was surprised to see Rale there. He told her: "I stayed all night to see that you slept well."

            Benu came in then and showed her where to freshen up. Everything was automatic. As she walked to that area, Benu told Rale: "You can leave the room, I will be out in just a few minutes."

            Rale left and waited in the corridor. He hoped that Benu wouldn't try anything with Christina.

            Benu then told Christina: "I'll have Rale wait in the corridor outside your room. When you are finished just open the door and he will take you to the main section of the house for breakfast."

            He left then after looking her over completely. She felt that she had just been leered at. It was not a comfortable feeling. Christina was happy that he was gone. She slipped the dress off the shoulders and let it fall. The undergarment that it had made went with it. That still was strange to her that the dress could do that. It gave her the shivers.

            She stepped onto the conveyor belt, just like the one in the other place. It didn't take very long and it gave her the willies that it was exactly the same, nothing different. At the end of the lavatory were some fresh clothes, less formal than what she had worn the night before. There was a scoop neck short-sleeved jumpsuit. It was in a bright red. She climbed into it, feet first. It too made its own undergarments. Weird!

            This was not as form fitting but was comfortable. The aquamarine shoes that she had worn the night before were back on her feet. She gasped as they changed color to match what she had just put on. The gasp she made wasn't too loud but the door opened then.

            Rale came in. "Are you all right?” he asked.

            She replied: "Yes, it just surprised me when the shoes turned the same color as the jumpsuit. What do I do with the gown from last night?"

            He laughed and said: "Leave it. It will be cleaned and taken care of. Let's go. I bet you are ready for breakfast."

            She left with him. They took their time walking to the main section of the house. She got to see a few pictures hanging on the corridor walls.

            Rale said: "These pictures are of different natural areas on my world. They are quite similar to your National Park areas on your world. They are beautiful, aren't they?"

            She nodded as they walked along. They were starting to see color back on the walls now. It was a burnt orange color. It was different but it was also something soothing to look at. Maybe earthy was the right word that came to mind.

            She was noticing that this house was indeed larger than the best mansions she had seen on Earth. They were finally passing by some of the rooms that she had seen last night. They found themselves back in the arboretum section.

            Benu called: "Over here! I've set up breakfast down here."

            They walked over and went into a sunken area with trees and flowering plants. She had seen the arboretum last night but had not recalled a sunken area. She had only seen it briefly while passing to another area of the house. She found it actually quite lovely. There was also a little pond with water flowing down rocks. It was quite serene. A clear round table on a pedestal had been set up with normal looking high-backed chairs. The food consisted of various fruits and a few other items.

            Benu said: "Rale, take care of this list while handing it to him. I'll see you when it is completed. Christina and I are going to have breakfast alone."

            Rale looked at Christina and she looked at him. There was concern in both of their eyes. She had come to trust him. He left. She was still standing.

            "Christina, please sit here to my right." said Benu while he pulled the chair out for her and waited for her to sit. He pushed it closer to the little table.

            "I see puzzlement in your eyes. Let me explain what is here."

            Pointing to various items, he said: "This was made by the food synthesizer in shapes and forms you should recognize. We have a banana, an orange, a pomegranate, a star fruit, a mango, and a papaya. The round violet purple circular object is bread. The cool blue liquid is safe and should taste refreshing. Please eat!"

            She still hesitated before reaching for one. There was something about him that still made her feel uneasy in his presence. She picked out the banana to start with. The banana tasted normal enough and when she was done she went for some of the others. She was quite hungry. The fruits tasted exceptionally good this morning. It was like her taste buds relished every flavor.

            The glass the liquid was in was slender and elongated like a thin champagne glass. The cool blue liquid tasted slightly of blueberries and had bubbles in it, like a soda. She could actually feel it coursing through her body. It energized every cell in her body. It was exciting and different! She felt a tingling sensation all over.

            Benu watched her reactions as she was drinking the liquid. He had seen surprise on her face and then a glow of energy emanated from her. It made her look more vibrant, more energized, and desirable. It was exactly what he thought would happen once she had consumed the liquid. He started a conversation then: "I have received favorable comments about last night. You made quite an impression with all the Department heads. Some are anxious to see you again and are willing to give you a tour of their respective departments. With the tests that were performed by Mirt yesterday evening, your visit with us will take a little longer."

            She had raised her eyebrows to that last comment.

            "You should feel honored that we want you to stay longer. We haven't seen someone with your abilities before. We could continue this situation as we have or we could arrange for a different type of stay. The choice is up to you." He said.

            Since she had a choice, she figured it would be easier to try and escape with the freedoms that she had been afforded rather than being locked up. She told him in a firm voice: "I would like to continue with things the way they are, if you please."

            Giving her a stern look, Benu replied: "As you wish, but I will be watching."

            She detested threats, especially those against her. She had to learn all she could while she was here. Maybe Rale could help her. She had to get him alone and make sure that they were not overheard.

            Just then Rale and Mirt entered. They both said simultaneously: "How about a tour of the surrounding area?"

            Benu said: "Take my air car. It is parked up on the third level of the house." She was surprised that he was letting her leave the house.

            It was amazing how the house knew when they were ready for takeoff. They just flew out. Her heart was in her throat when they flew straight up. She wasn't sure if the ceiling would open or not. Mirt was piloting the craft.

            Rale started explaining what was happening: "The controls are very easy. It's a combination of your primitive automobile and aircraft. It has a main view screen. A coordinate system tells the area, sector, coordinates, and altitude within the sector. A shield indicator displays the amount of energy available to the Shield Defense Envelope, and velocity which is a speed indicator, an altimeter that shows altitude in meters above planets' surface, and a transponder which is the same as an airborne radio beacon transceiver in your world.

            There is no gas pedal. You use a button to start it. It also has photon drives. As you can see this vehicle has more room than your primitive automobile. We utilize these air cars when traveling long distances. Our teleportation booths are used for short hops. We are now passing over our cultural center, if you'd like we could stop there later?"

            She told Rale: "I would like to see the cultural center."

            Mirt said: "We will go to my research center first. It is located outside of the city."

            She was curious about what was done at this research site. She guessed it was her writer’s instinct coming out, or was it self-preservation? The land was beautiful, rolling, and fertile. Rale answered any question she had and what he didn't know Mirt answered. She was looking out of the view ports. She pointed down to a red section of the field. Then she asked with a school girl's excitement in her voice: "What is that? What else are they growing down there? I see so many colors. Do the different colors represent something specific? How do they get the fields so full? Do you have workers, animals, or both to help cultivate the fields? Whoa, that looks like a geodesic dome. I've never seen one multicolored like that before. Depending on the angle, the colors shifted too. That looks sharp!" The questions were not answered, because they had reached their destination.

            It was the middle of the day when they arrived at the research center. It looked like three geodesic domes stacked on top of each other. Everyone greeted Mirt as they entered, it seemed appropriate.

            Mirt told Rale: "Show her around while I checked on a few things." Mirt left then.

            She loved the way these geodesic domes were set up. It was so spacious! They stood there for a little while after Mirt left. She looked straight up and almost fell. She wondered if they would go all the way up to the third dome. They had accomplished something that had not been done on Earth. No one yet had figured out how to stack geodesic domes. It was absolutely amazing.

            Rale took her hand and led her to the left of the entrance. On the walls, she noticed some abstract paintings. The wavy one had red broken circles that pulsated. The slanted one had three-dimensional diamond shapes which glowed. The square one had a three-dimensional star on the right-hand side. The corridors were curved.

            Rale explained: "We have several different projects going on right now. The panels you see at certain intervals on the walls activate a viewing window. We can see in but they cannot see us. If you would like, I can activate the next one?"

            She was curious about what was done in this research center, so she said: "Yes."

            He touched the panel and hit various symbols on the keypad. They wall disappeared and they saw: Technicians checking the reflexes of several different life forms. Some of them looked familiar. Then it dawned on her where she had seen them, it was on board the mother ship. She didn't see them at last night’s party. Wonder why? The dark brown furry one, with four arms, was in there. The one, which looked like a hot pink sea urchin, was there too. The yellow scaled, two stalk eyes, with two arms and webbed fingers were there too. From there they went to another area where they saw different environments contained in what looked like glass. They were actually controlling weather conditions.

            Rale said: "We call this terraforming. We have been doing this research for years to enable us to colonize uninhabitable planets."

            They then went to another room where they were using different light effects and sounds to bring about certain moods. This was where Rale left her, because of a message he had been given from a man who had left when they entered. Rale had motioned for one of the other workers to come over. They talked for a while.

            She walked around looking at strange objects. The room was quite large. There were various objects that caught her attention. She knew not to touch anything. Some of the control consoles were similar to what would be found at nuclear power plants. Others were similar to a recording studio. Yet there were others that were truly strange. They pulsated and looked liquid. She was about to touch one when a man came over and asked her in a melodic sounding voice: "Would you like to experience some of the moods we have been working on?"

            She didn't have a chance to answer. He held her by her upper right arm and was leading her to another section of the room. He touched the air, as if to contact a hidden control. There was a sound like water falling, crashing…then she saw another room. The only thing in the room was a 'clear plastic bean bag.' She thought that was rather odd. He helped her sit in the plastic bean bag. It molded to your body and helped you relax by adjusting to the individual body temperature. He placed a set of what looked like dots on her ear lobes.

            He said in a melodic toned voice: "These dots will register your physiological functions."

            She was emotionally keyed. It would be a different type of experience. She could not see him from where she was sitting. After he left, a wall came up. She just looked straight ahead and waited for something to happen. It did not take long for the light patterns to start. The patterns looked like the 'old 60's.' She had seen them at a retro 60's art show.

            With each pattern there was a different sound. They varied in tone and pitch. Some were high. Some were low. After a little while, she closed her eyes. The tones enabled her to see the patterns in her mind's eye. She then felt something touch her. She opened her eyes. She had blurry vision and waited for it to clear. It was then that she saw Rale. He smiled at her and helped her out. She didn't know what happened but was surprised to find out that the day had passed and most of the workers had gone home. The man who had helped her was no longer there. He told her: "Mirt is still working on another project in a different section of the research center."

            She had lost the sensation of time and felt tired. She also had a floating sensation that she could not shake. She was beginning to wonder what really had happened? Would she ever truly find out? She felt as if she was not totally there. Everything felt strange to her. She started walking toward the door and almost fell. Rale caught her. He looked into her eyes and asked: "Are you all right? What can I do to help? I've never seen that type of reaction before to the mood enhancer. It's quite harmless. Did something else happen here?”

            She raised her eyebrows and shrugged her head. She really didn't know what had happened.

            “I'll take you to Mirt's office. He's expecting to meet us there in ten minutes. I can get you something to drink that might help."

            He had his arm supporting her while they continued walking to Mirt's office. She felt genuine empathic feelings emanating from him. She could actually feel his feelings! This was strange! The feelings became more intense. Was it because of this physical contact? She stopped. He looked at her with a puzzled look on his face.

            She said: "I can feel what you are feeling right now. It's very intense. You are concerned about me. A little fear, perhaps? You are wondering what the machine might have done, aren't you? Your people don't really show their emotions much, do they?"

            He replied: "Yes, you are right on all. I also fear what they might do to you. I've seen the others and it wasn't nice. They didn't survive the tests. We don't let strangers see our emotions. We reserve that for family or very close friends. Do you still require my assistance? The office is not much further."

            In a shaky voice she replied: "I think I better try walking by myself. Those emotions were too intense.”

            They walked for a little way and the room was visible. The door swished open when they stood in front of it. She found a seat. These were high-backed executive chairs, very comfortable and supporting. It felt more normal than those bean bag or papa-san chairs. She was grateful to have the feel of something solid and sturdy. She was still trying to sort out what had just happened. He went over to the far wall and opened it up with a touch of his hand. It was similar to a bar at home. Various colored liquids were there with glasses. He poured her a tall cool blue one. As he handed it to her, he said: "This should recharge you."

            Her hand was shaking a little as she took it from him. She slowly brought it to her lips and drank. It had the same color as the one Benu gave her at breakfast, but no bubbles. She finished it and handed the glass back to Rale. He placed the empty glass on a small octagon shape in the open section of the wall. It was broken down into its molecular structure. Rale had just closed the wall and walked over to her, when the door swished open. It was Mirt. He looked at Rale and said: "Have a seat; I want the two of you to hear this. These are the results of the experiment. Let me begin by saying that congratulations are in order. You scored the highest of all the life forms that have been tested, so far. These tests are broken down to a level where nothing is overlooked. I won't go into exact details, but you show a high score in the adaptability range, very quick reflexes, and a high level of extrasensory perception (ESP), which incidentally is not characteristic for your species. That's all I can tell you without getting into the scientific jargon for the rest of the test. I would like to have you go through some special tests that have already been set up. If you consent now, we can get started immediately."

            She was somewhat surprised at the test results and yet this just made her wonder how far she might be able to go. This last test was loads of fun but the side effects were not. The other ones may be more so, hopefully with no side effects?

            "Can I have some time to think about this, please?" she asked.

            She was still trying to recover from the last test. Mirt hand signaled Rale to leave the room.

            He then said: "Of course, we will be right back." They both left. They went out in the corridor.

            She stood up to stretch and noticed that there was a circular window on the door. She could see them talking but could not hear what was being said. The door didn't open either. She saw Rale leaving the area.

            Mirt came back in and said: "I have to prepare you before we go to the testing area. Rale will be waiting for us in the next section of the building. It is a different environment for you. More alien than my world, and I don't want you to be shocked psychologically. It might impair the test results."

            She never agreed and was about to speak out when Mirt lowered the lights in the office. How did he do that? She didn't see him touch anything. Yet it was darker now. It didn't take long for her eyes to adjust. She was feeling back to normal. The blue liquid had restored her energy levels. She then saw him reach over to the left side of his desk. It looked like a panel of some sort. He touched the panel—the entire room started changing! All the office equipment was gone.

            They were outside. Mirt was within sight but quite a distance away, yet he was right next to her before the office changed. She smelled fresh clean air. She was standing in a jungle? What happened? How did she get here? How do they return?

            There were palm fronds all over and everything was huge. She was unnerved. She had to remain calm and survey her surroundings. It was then that she heard a piercing scream and looked behind her. Her sense of fear was working overtime, but she couldn't see what had made that noise. As she turned back though, she saw something flash by but she could not be sure. The next thing she knew, Mirt was only a few steps away. How did he get there so quietly? She didn't know he could move so fast—before he was a good three miles away. He was not even out of breath, as if he has run the distance. She was going to ask him what happened but he motioned for her to keep quiet.

            By the look in his eyes, he saw something and was scared. She didn't know what was going on but she knew it was strange. Mirt signaled her to approach him cautiously. He then said quietly almost a whisper: "Do not make any sudden moves. This is not what I had intended to do in order to prepare you for your tests. We need to see if we can locate that panel. We need it in order to return to my office. At this point I'm not sure if we can locate it, in time. If we stay in this area too long, there will be some molecular degeneration. Close your eyes!”

            She did.

            “I want you to concentrate on that panel, get a firm picture of it in your mind.”

            She had only seen that panel once, and it was from an angle. Yet she was able to visualize it easily. He saw that she was concentrating. It was then that he knew she had it in her sights.

            "Once you locate it, open your eyes and find it here."

            It took her a few minutes but she saw it on the third tree to their left. They headed straight for it. He very quickly pushed something. Suddenly, they were back in his office.

            Immediately upon their arrival, Rale came bursting through the door: "Are the two of you all right? The positronic ray went haywire. I couldn't reach you to tell you."

            Christina was totally exhausted and could barely stand up. Mirt's color was a little off and he looked tired, too. Yet Mirt suggested: "We should return to Benu's house now and finish the tests later."

            Rale went to the wall and opened it again. He then poured them some of the blue liquid to drink. This would bring their energy level back up for them to make it to the ship. Rale handed each of them a glass. They drank quickly. He took care of the empty glasses and closed the wall again. Mirt helped Christina out of the chair. They walked very slowly toward the door.

            Rale walked behind them, keeping an eye on each of them to insure that they would make it out of the building. They walked down the main corridor and made a right. They had to stop once, for Christina, before they made it to the main door. She leaned up against a wall for a little while before moving on. The energizing liquid was not working so well this time. Mirt had recovered but not Christina. This was puzzling since he had given her that same liquid before and it had done its job. The air car was but a short distance from the entrance. It was night already. She did not realize that so much time had gone by.

            Rale opened the car. He helped Christina up and got her harnessed into the nearest seat. Mirt sat in the one to her left. Rale closed the door and went up front to pilot the ship. Mirt turned to look at Christina and said: “Xanthu! I want you to close your eyes and listen to me very carefully.”

            She was having difficulty keeping them open any way. It sounded like a good idea, so she closed them.

            “You will remember in detail what happened today. I want you to sleep until I wake you up. You will hear my voice only. No other sounds will disturb you. You know you must obey! When I count to three you will be in a deep, deep sleep. One, two, three.”

            Meanwhile Mirt told Rale: "Use the teleportation transducer to get us to Benu's house."

            In seconds, the ship landed. As soon as the ship was shut down, Benu entered. Mirt and Rale explained to him what had happened. Mirt also explained that he used the control word: Xanthu to keep the information readily available.

            Benu said: "Take her into the house and put her in the medical laboratory. The same unit we used the last time will be sufficient."

            Rale unharnessed her and carried her into the house. The door opened as soon as he got in front of it. He rushed like the wind and brought her to the medical lab. It was no effort, but if she saw him do that she would not look at him the same way.

            The speed with which he had moved was just like their fictional character "The Flash." It was quite normal for his species. They only used it when the situation warranted it. They were very quiet in this mode, too.

            Benu continued giving instructions to Mirt as they headed for the front door: "Mirt, I want you to get her to tell you everything as it happened. Record her brainwaves and visual memories, so we can see exactly what did happen. Her brainwaves are compatible with our image enhancer unit. We should be able to get a clear picture. It is important that we find out what caused the positronic ray to malfunction. I want to know if it happened because of one of us or if it was an outside force. If it was an outside force, we need to find out if it was her powers or someone else's. When she wakes up, we will act as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. I will make sure that Rale gives her the bright green fluid to drink. Mirt, I want you to watch her reactions very closely."

            They entered the house. They used their speed capabilities to rush to the medical lab. Rale had already placed her in the special chair, and the three black dots were already taken care of, as before on her temples and between the eyes. He went to the control panel and brought down the larger view screen from the ceiling. Mirt adjusted the controls and said: "Christina, I want you to go back in time. Back to when you first entered my research center. Tell me when you get there."

            They watched as her memories went backwards. It was a flurry of pictures. She spoke then and said: "I'm there."

            Mirt spoke again: "I want you to recall everything in every detail from the moment you entered until the moment you got back into the air car."

            They watched as she entered the research center and recognized the aliens being tested. They saw her watch Mirt go off in one direction while Rale and her continued to another portion of the center. They saw Rale leave her with a technician in the mood enhancement testing area. They watched with interest as she participated in that test. It was unclear at this part and Mirt said: "Christina, concentrate. I need to see what happened during the mood enhancement tests."

            The picture was clearing…Love showed her with a fantasy lover. He was in a black tuxedo, dashing, and handsome. She was in a flowing scoop neck red dress. The music "Lady in Red" was playing in the background. They saw him dip her a few times, and stare deeply into her eyes. They were dancing under a moonlit sky. Fear showed her in a dark room. There was a piercing scream and a winged creature flew near her. She screamed, trying to push it away with her arms. Tears were streaming down her face. Her face showed terror, when the winged creature flew in her face. It looked small, and strong. The creature was the same as what Mirt had heard during their adventure. Hate showed her angrily yelling at Benu in the arboretum, in this house. Both Rale and Mirt looked to Benu, who offered no explanations. Joy showed her standing in front of a crowd of people receiving a huge paper reading: 'Pay to the order of $15 Million Dollars.' There were flashes from the crowd and they heard her saying: 'Thank you.' Happiness showed her drinking a pink liquid with Rale in the quarters she was first assigned to. Next was a scene where she was running away as if very frightened and the word DANGER kept popping up. Not watching where she was going, she fell through a hole in the ground and found herself falling… the screen went blank.

            Rale was watching her through this last section and noticed that she was breathing faster. He mentioned it to Mirt.

            Mirt spoke: “Christina, calm down, you are not falling. You are safe with friends. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale.”

            Rale saw that it was working.

            “Good. Now continue, what happened next?"

            The screen showed her opening her eyes and seeing Rale. He was helping her out of the chair from the mood enhancement tests. She seemed disoriented. They saw him put his arm around her to stop her from falling. They heard his concern for her. They glared at him when they heard him tell her about the others.

            Benu said in an amused tone: "He was just following orders to get closer to her."

            They saw him give her the cool blue liquid to restore her energy before Mirt entered the office. They watched as Mirt explained about the test results. They noticed that she had been watching them while they talked in the corridor. Surprise registered on their faces. They did not realize that she had been watching them.

            They saw Mirt come back in and explain to her what was about to happen. Then they saw the lights dimming in the office. They saw Mirt adjusting the side panel on his desk…there was a pale violet light coming from that panel.

            Mirt looked at Benu and said: "I saw no violet light."

            They watched as she saw the room changing…a swirling void of purple, black, and yellow. Then suddenly she saw Mirt quite a distance away. She noted her surroundings: saw the detail in the leaves, how big the trees were, the color of the ground…They heard the ear piercing scream and watched as she quickly turned to look behind her. It was still a flash of something that went by…The picture was not clear.

            Rale was watching Christina and noticed that her breathing quickened once more. He mentioned it to Mirt.

            Mirt spoke: “Christina, calm down, you are not in danger. You are safe with friends. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale.”

            Rale saw that it was working.

            “Good. Now continue, what happened next?”

            They watched as Mirt hand signaled her not to make any sudden moves. They heard him give her instructions to locate the panel. They watched as she closed her eyes and saw the vivid picture of the panel that she had seen in her mind. They watched as she opened her eyes and found the panel in the trunk of a tree. It was the third tree from their left. The swirling void of purple, black, and yellow appeared again. Then suddenly they were back in the office. Rale came bursting through the door asking if they were all right. He poured them some of the blue liquid to drink. He handed them the glasses. Mirt got closer on the screen–this was when Rale helped her out of the chair. They walked slowly to the door. They walked down the main corridor and made a right. Christina's vision clouded here–this was where she stopped and leaned up against the wall. She started moving again and the entrance was closer. She saw Rale opening the door. They saw his hand coming toward her. Rale came in to close view. She watched as he harnessed her into the chair. She slowly turned her head and saw Mirt to her left. She kept blinking, as if she was having difficulty keeping her eyes open. The screen went black–this had been when Mirt gave her the command to close her eyes. They left her to awaken naturally.

            While she was unconscious, they removed the black dots. Mirt had Rale carry her to the same room she had spent last night in. He carried her down the corridor to that room. He laid her on the sleeping platform. He removed her shoes. He caressed her cheek with his left hand. So far she had done so much better than the other humans that had been brought here. He was still a little worried about what they had in store for her. He quietly asked for a chair and the room provided one. He sat up against the far wall and watched her. Rale was tired, too. He slipped into a meditative state to energize his body. This was their way of taking a rest. They were still aware of their surroundings. Rale came back to full consciousness when Benu entered the room which was five hours later.

            Benu said in a cold tone: "I'll take over. I want you to follow this list. As soon as she awakens, we will be there. I suspect three hours before that happens. Now go!"

            Eight hours after they had carried her to this room, she awoke. She was surprised to see Benu sitting in a chair across the room. She still didn't trust him. Where was Rale? She had come to trust him.

            He saw the puzzled looked on her face and said: "I sent Rale on some errands. Did you rest well?"

            She replied: "Yes, thank you. How did I get here? The last thing I remembered was sitting in the air car for a return trip."

            Benu replied: "Yes. All will be explained later. Shall we join the others?"

            She sat up and put her shoes back on. She walked toward the elimination station. She really didn't care if he waited or not. She had to use the bathroom. He moved to the front room. She looked behind her to see if he was still there before she went in. She was relieved that he left. She slipped the jumpsuit off her shoulders and it fell to her feet. It was still strange getting used to the automatic facilities around here.

            A cleaner was waiting around the corner and quickly grabbed at the jumpsuit, while she used the elimination station. She didn't expect that. It came back with a dark brown one. It held it for her until she was ready to take it. She quickly took it and put it on. Once again it made its own underwear. The shoes quickly changed color to match this scoop neck short-sleeved jumpsuit. She walked past the cleaner and out to the front room. This little moment had given her a chance to get in touch with her feelings. She felt a lot better than when they left Mirt's research center.

            Benu let her walk out of the room first. He walked by her side as they walked through the corridor to the front dome. They walked passed the burnt orange colored walls. It wasn't long before they were in the arboretum section. They walked over and went into a sunken area with trees and flowering plants. Rale and Mirt were already there. Drinks were on a platform floating in thin air. She had never seen this before. Her face showed surprise and Rale noticed this. He said: "It's just an anti-gravity unit. It comes in very handy when you don't need a formal table."

            Benu walked over and said: "Let's move to different surroundings." He raised his hand and looked like he was working a control of some sort in midair. She didn't see anything but the air.

            It was strange, then as if by magic there was a melodic sound. The next thing she knew they were in another room. This was more traditional, like a den but with a terrace off to the right. She started looking around the room and noticed some interesting artwork.

            Benu said: "My ancestors did all the art (paintings, sculptures, and holograms)."

            Mirt explained how each item had been prepared and why they were arranged in order of appearance. He told her: "We can visit the cultural center in the morning."

            As Benu handed out the drinks from the anti-gravity platform, she noticed that the liquids were different, cool blue, bright green, fiery red and bright yellow. The cool blue went to Mirt, she got the bright green, Rale got the fiery red, which left the bright yellow for Benu.

            She knew about the cool blue because that was what they had at Mirt's research center but the others were a mystery. Rale looked like he was uneasy. Benu started talking about Earth's ESP research.

            She started telling him: "Dr. Rhine and his Zener cards (the triangle, square, circle, star, and three (3) wavy line cards) - The Rhine Research Center is a non-profit research and education organization established to explore the unusual types of experiences that suggest capabilities as yet unrecognized in the domain of human personality, and to investigate those capabilities thoroughly by exact scientific methods. The Center is successor to the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory and carries forward that famed laboratory's research mission and educational programs.

            The Rhine Research Center strives to facilitate communication between parapsychology and other academic disciplines for which the understanding of parapsychological (or psi) experiences holds great relevance. It functions as an independent international center, coordinating efforts on the common objective of understanding human potential. It further seeks to help bridge gaps between the academic community and independent researchers, and between the general public and the research laboratory.

            Edgar Cayce - The Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) is a place which is dedicated to the research and notes of the American Prophet Edgar Cayce. He was considered the sleeping prophet, and his accuracy rate was 98 percent.

            The Farsight Institute - The Mission of The Farsight Institute. We exist to serve our nation, our planet, humanity, and ultimately, the universe and God. Remote viewing is a tool that we use to explore questions relating to consciousness and existence. The development of the science of consciousness is taught here. The Monroe Institute - Founded in 1985 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit research facility, educational center, and membership organization, the Institute operates on the premise that focused consciousness contains solutions to the questions of human existence and that first-person experiences in such states of consciousness provide something of value."

            Mirt interrupted once in a while with a few questions of his own.

            She was getting warm from her drink. It was cool to the lips but as it continued down it got hot. It tasted like homemade limeade but it didn't feel like it. She had walked over to the door leading out to the terrace. Rale came over.

            Mirt and Benu stood at the opposite side of the room looking at the artwork. Benu then turned to face Christina. She was barely listening to Benu's questions when she heard: "Christina, are you all right? You look a little flushed."

            She replied: "I’m just feeling hot."

            He then said: "I'd be glad to get you something else if you desire it. You could try one of the other drinks if you'd like."

            What had happened was she had completely finished that green liquid. She thought it would cool her off. She asked Rale: "Take me outside for some fresh air?"

            Rale looked somewhat startled but said: "I'd be glad to."

            As she stood up, she felt lightheaded. Rale was next to her and whispered: "Take it easy, don't move to quick. If you can make it out of this room, I can help you once we are out of their sight. I need to talk to you without them listening."

            She thought that Mirt suspected that something was wrong and was about to come over but she lied and said: "I'm fine, would still like to get some fresh air though."

            Rale and Christina made it out of the room. They closed the glass door leading to the open terrace. The air helped a little but she had a lot of questions.

            Rale said: "I can answer your questions, now. The green liquid you drank was a psychic enhancer. It hasn't taken its full effect yet. Most people feel hot after drinking it. We use it when an individual scores high in the psychic range of our testing. What happened to you earlier with Mirt was no accident! It was deliberately planned because of your high scores. They plan to see how far your abilities will take you. It can be quite dangerous if the testing is not handled properly. I think that Mirt is trying to rush these tests. I have worked with him almost all my life and I've never seen him go this far in so short a time period. Benu is not aware of the time involved or he would order him to slow down.

            Once we've established which psychic abilities—telekinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, astral projection, and psychometry—you have and their level of strength then we will help you to use them. You must not tell them anything that I have just told you. If you do, I would be sent away from here. We would never be able to see each other again. I really do care a lot about you, even though we have only known each other for forty days which is four years---Earth time. I will help you all I can. Later I will take you to see some of my friends who have the same philosophy as I do. We must get back now so they won't become suspicious."

            They walked back to the main living area. They found Benu and Mirt discussing today's events. Benu asked them to sit down while he adjusted the room to show them a video. She was going to ask how they made this video but Mirt was already explaining how it was made. It was as if he knew exactly what she was going to ask before she said it.

            Rale had told her earlier that Mirt and Benu didn't have any ESP abilities but that they were very adept at reading people's movements and expressions. The room went dark then and the video played. Her drink had taken its full effect. Mirt was explaining to Benu the circumstances of what they were all watching. Just before the video ended, she noticed a glowing white light. Everyone turned in her direction and had such a look of surprise on their faces.

            Mirt tried to touch her but could only touch the outer edge of the light. He left the room to get some testing equipment. Benu and Rale were watching her to see if anything else would happen. She didn't feel any different but the light was still there.

            Mirt came back and used his equipment to find out that it was a protective shield. He said: "You are the only one who can dissolve the shield. I know you are puzzled about how it originated but we will discover that later. Xanthu! Now you must listen to me to remove it. Your senses were alerted to danger by watching what had happened to you earlier and wanted to protect you so it wouldn't happen again. I want you to concentrate and listen to what I am about to say. You must allow yourself to relax. You are in no danger. No one here will harm you. Take a deep breath and slowly release it. With each breath you release, you will relax more and more. Close your eyes if it is easier for you to accomplish this. We will let you know when the shield is gone. Keep it up, the shield is weakening. All right the shield is down but I want you to remain in this relaxed state. When I count to five you will open your eyes. One, two, your waking up; three, four, your almost there; five, open your eyes." The glowing light was gone.

            She wasn't tired though. It seemed that her energy level was very high. She was shown to the same room she had earlier. Mirt then turned to Rale and said: "Take her to her room now. Benu and I still need to talk."

            Turning back to look at Christina he said: "Rale will stay with you, should you need anything."

            They watched as he walked her out of the room. They had been on the third dome. He had to take a walk down the corridor to the left. There was a lifting platform there, which went all the way down to the first dome. It was scary to her because it was not enclosed like the elevators at home. It was a safety issue. What would stop them from pushing her off? She knew that Rale would never do that but she wasn't so sure of Benu or Mirt. They might do it to test her?

            Rale spoke then: "It's all right. I won't let you fall. You'll get used to these after a while." It was fascinating to look down but scary all the same. He sensed that she was still scared so he wrapped his arms around her waist as she continued to look down.

            She said: "Thanks!" She figured it was about ten minutes later when they finally stopped at the bottom. They don't use watches or clocks like we do. Their sense of time is internal. It brought them down in the medical area. She didn't really care for this area. It was as if she sensed something had happened here but couldn't quite remember all of it. He walked her to her room. When they entered, she asked: "Could you stay? I'm not tired. Can we just sit and talk?"

            Rale came in and told the room: "We need a sitting area."

            They were standing in the front room when furniture appeared. It was furniture that she was familiar with, a loveseat and two easy chairs in a Southwestern pattern. She let out a little squeal of glee. He loved to see her smile. He could feel her happiness. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. His whole body turned red! A shocked look registered on her face. She had never suspected that he would turn red like that. They sat down on the loveseat.

            In a way I was glad that it was Rale and not someone else. At least I could talk with him. He would give me straight answers. While we were talking in my room, Rale told me about what had just taken place. I then asked him: "Has Mirt done something like this to me before."

            Rale replied: "Remember the party you went to when you first came here. She nodded her head. The four of us were in the room talking that was when he tried it. He gave you a posthypnotic suggestion so you would not remember any of what had happened. He had you answering all sorts of questions and everyone there stood around listening. That's why when you looked around everyone was there and thanked you for a wonderful speech. So far you have met only his high level intellectuals, friends and co-workers. If you feel up to it we can see some of my friends tonight?"

            While Rale had gone down the lifting platform with Christina, Benu and Mirt stayed to talk in the third level.

            Benu spoke first: “That was perfect! The control word 'Xanthu' still works. I never suspected that she could bring up a force shield like that. There is no doubt now that we need to take further action. You do know that it is by chance that we picked her up forty days ago. Grant you she's only been on the home world for four days but the trip home provided a lot of information. She never suspected so much time passed by while we had her in stasis on the ship. That was when we performed the majority of our tests—the psychological profile, the physical examinations--down to the genetic level, and the control programming. Their race has evolved but they are still ‘primitive and child-like.’ If we succeed in controlling her, we can do what we want with her people. We need to make sure that she remains under our control.”

            Mirt agreed.

            “So schedule more tests for tomorrow and keep a stricter profile on her.”

            They left together. They walked down the corridor to the left. They got onto the lifting platform. Once on the bottom level, they went to their separate ways.

            They waited until Rale knew Mirt and Benu had gone to their rooms. He checked the rooms and then came back for her. They then went out through an exit that she did not know existed. They went to the nearest teleportation booth. Rale pushed the necessary buttons. They ended up in another teleportation booth on the other side of the world. He told her: "We will be going to a meeting of an ancient order on my world. The order was tolerated by the present society, and not everyone belonged because there are specific requirements. These requirements were honesty, loyalty, courage, trustworthiness, and extrasensory perception. Any alien could join if they met those requirements."

            The meeting had already started when they arrived. The house where it was held was shaped differently from the other buildings she had seen since her arrival. It didn't have the vibrant colors. The man standing at the entrance passed a device next to them.

            Rale said: "They were looking for bugging devices. Sometimes Mirt or Benu will place one on someone to track him or her. They must not have detected any, because we were allowed entrance."

            They sat near the front. This had a feeling of a small nightclub set up for a private meeting. The seats were basic folding chair style, yet comfortable. The speaker, Rale whispered to Christina that his name was Orem, was talking about defensive psychic barriers, how to make them, and how to break them down. She paid special attention to this, because of what had happened earlier this evening.

            Orem said: "If an emergency or dangerous situation occurs your shield will go up automatically. If possible you should try to practice bringing up your defensive shield. Now I want you all to concentrate and visualize a shield forming around you. I will be walking through the audience checking everyone's shield. If you have any problems, I will help you."

            Rale's shield was already up and mine was starting to come up. Just as the speaker passed by, mine came up to full strength. He looked at Christina and said with a smile on his face and in a heavy German accent: "Your shield is the strongest that I have seen in a long time."

            He continued walking through the audience checking the other shields. When all the shields were checked, he told us how to remove them. He also told us how to make our shields invisible. The meeting covered a lot of information and lasted about two hours.

            As everyone got up to leave, Rale said: "You can talk to Orem after class. Everything has been arranged."

            We stayed in our seats until everyone was gone. He walked over to us. Orem was older than most of the others that I had met, but I sensed that his appearance was deceiving. He had a lot of wisdom and knowledge in the psychic phenomena area. He suggested that we go to his home to talk privately. The man that had searched us earlier followed behind us.

            Orem then told us: "Please ignore Bret, I'm used to him being there to protect me. So I don't notice him following us as much. Some people don't understand my philosophy and I have been attacked twice in my lifetime. My shield doesn't always work when I want it to, because of those previous attacks. We don't have much farther to go till we reach my home."

            The neighborhood we walked through was more like what I had expected to see. The buildings were quite similar to ours with vegetation in front of each. They were not as elaborate as the one's in the city area. It felt nice and homey. The other place felt strange and alien. This looked more like normal people housing. Basic needs were still being met without extravagant outer trappings. We actually walked by a local entertainment house.

            Rale explained: "Videodiscs are shown here. It is similar to your 'movie theaters' on your world. Our people also enjoyed each other's company. There are other gathering places." We passed by a park—there were trees, benches, and a solid path to take a walk through.

            I was excited about the possibilities of tonight's discussion. Here was a man who could teach me everything I wanted to know, about the powers I didn't know I had until I came to this world.

            Rale said: "We will have to be very careful that Mirt doesn't find out about you getting instructions from Orem. They have been rivals for years."

            Orem said: "I don't get to meet many of the alien visitors. I'm not in the public's eye any longer."

            Orem lived in an older section of the city. His house had more of his personality than any of the other houses that she had been in. The other's seemed cold, distant, and didn't show their owner's personality. Orem's house had warmth, color, vitality, and felt safe.

            Orem asked her: "Please stay in the living room." Bret and Rale went with him to another part of the house.

            As he was leaving, he said: "I have a few things I need to do before we have our discussion."

            Christina stood up and walked around. He actually had some landscaped paintings on the wall, a few holographic portraits, and a beautiful garden set up in the center. She didn't mind being left alone here. She enjoyed the feelings she was getting from this area. She watched them go to the right and out of sight.

            They walked down a small corridor and went into the kitchen area to talk. Orem didn't want to be away too long. It was impolite to his new guest, yet he waned to be informed of what already had been done to his guest.

            Meanwhile Rale told Orem: "Mirt uses tricks to hypnotize unsuspecting visitors that show high levels of psychic abilities. He has permission to have them tested on their trip to our planet without their knowledge. He does this to gain control of them and then work with them to heighten their abilities. This time they used the lavendar mist. The control word is Xanthu. She looked like she entered an altered state of consciousness and then obeyed their commands without hesitation. After he sets them at ease, they go to the research center. It is shown in a sightseeing tour of our world, so they don't realize that they are being manipulated. Some of the visitors don't survive those tests. Christina, the girl I brought with me tonight, has one of the highest levels ever seen in all the psychic tests that Mirt has administered. I don't want anything to happen to her like the others. I brought her here for her own protection and possibly ours. If her powers are as strong as the tests showed, Mirt might use her against us. I think we should get started immediately with the training."

            Christina was still in the garden when Orem and Rale came back with some liquid refreshment. She noticed that everyone had the blue liquid and remembered the energy boost that always accompanies it. They immediately started discussing some of Earth's first psychic schools. She was surprised to hear that back in ancient Greece and Egypt they had schools set up to teach the power of the mind. She asked Orem: "How do you know of ancient Greece and Egypt?"

            He replied: “When I was younger, I traveled extensively. There were a few planets that I visited on a regular basis. I have seen and learned quite a bit from your young world and the planet you call Mars. Since our race has the same physical characteristics as yours, we can visit your world without attracting too much attention. Once in a while, our ships are seen on your radar and tracked but for the most part we can arrive undetected. Have you ever heard the word 'Xanthu' before?"

            Christina immediately 'phased out.' Her eyes closed and there was a change in her breathing. It was slower. Orem walked around her and made little noises---clicks, whistles, a loud banging sound. Each sound was louder than the last but she did not awaken.

            Rale then said to Orem: "As soon as you said the word Xanthu, Christina phased out. It is that lavender gas that caused this. Every time they say that word, she phases out. She just sits there waiting. She doesn't move, just breathes slower. We need to remove it. I have heard that you can imitate anyone's voice perfectly. Now is the chance to use it. Once it has been done, we will continue with the conversation as if nothing happened."

            Orem then said in Mirt's voice: “Christina, I know you can hear me because of the key word I just told you. You will no longer phase out when you hear the word Xanthu. Your mind will not allow me to hypnotize or control you ever again. Your subconscious will know when I try to hypnotize you without your conscious mind knowing what I am doing.”

            He then said the same thing imitating Benu's voice. “When I count to three you will awaken. One, two, three!”

            They talked for quite a while. She had no sense of time but then Rale said: "We must get back to Benu's house before they wake up. We will be back later."

            They said good-bye and arranged a specific time to meet Orem for the next private session. We went to the nearest teleportation booth. It looked just like the British red telephone booths. Rale pushed the necessary buttons. They ended up in another teleportation booth on the other side of the world. The neighborhood they walked through was cold and artificial. It wasn't as nice as the one Orem had shown them earlier. It didn't feel right. There was barely any vegetation visible. All the walks were conveyors. So you could not take a nice walk, like the other area. The colors were very intense here. They conveyed power, control, and wealth. It wasn't long before they reached Benu's house and entered the same way they had left. Rale took her straight to her room. She wasn't tired at all. It was the next day. She had stayed awake all night talking to Orem!

            Rale said: "I think they're coming. It's a good thing we came back when we did."

            Just then Mirt entered and said in a German accent: "I arranged for you to go to the cultural center today. Rale will go with you. When you're finished I want you to meet me at the research center."

            Christina and Rale were curious about what was planned at the research center, because Mirt had not talked to Rale about setting any equipment up and normally he does.

            The cultural center was filled with children of various ages. Rale explained: “This is the time when our children come and study their history. They will see dances, art, and various social changes throughout our evolution.”

            As he walked her through the various sections of the cultural center, she noticed that these sections showed various scenes of their evolutionary ladder. It included clothing, differences in physical appearance, flora, fauna, any animals, tools, and so forth. Each one built up from the first. The children were able to touch some of the exhibits, just like ours do on field trips to museums. Then they went into a huge auditorium, where holograms were projected on the wall.

            “These are holograms we keep for everyone to enjoy. What we are about to see happened in the beginning of our civilization. In order to see the entire cycle of events you need to spend a week here studying these holograms. Mirt said that we have only today. If you would like I could bring you back when the next cycle comes around. If our time schedule doesn't permit the opportunity for the next cycle I could arrange for a private showing.”

            I told him: "We will just wait and see what comes up."

            The presentation was absolutely fascinating! By the time it had finished, it was late in the day. Rale had borrowed Benu's air car and it was waiting for them outside. The liftoff was uneventful. She enjoyed the view.

            Rale said: "I don't know what to expect at the research center, but be prepared for anything. Use what Orem has taught you and don't let your guard down. I know Mirt will try to separate us when we arrive, don't let that upset you. I will get back with you later. Be careful!"

            They got to the research center in a short period of time. Mirt was waiting for them. He sent Rale on an errand, just like he had forewarned her.

            Mirt took her to another section of the building that she had not seen before. They used the weird lifting platform. They went straight up to the third floor. She had a bad feeling about this. He had to use a retinal scanner to get in. The room was empty once again except for a papa-san style chair and a control panel off to the left. The chair was centered in the middle of the room. After they entered the room, the door automatically sealed. She stood looking at the door wondering how she was going to get out.

            Mirt held her by her left arm and led her to the chair in the center of the room. His grip on her arm was rather firm. She did not like it. She could not give away that they no longer had any control over her, so she had to wait it out. He picked up a little box from the control panel as they walked passed it to get to the chair. The room was lighted but there was no visible light fixture. She sat in the chair. He opened the box and placed the black dots on her temples and third eye region of her forehead. The chair was already adjusting to her body temperature. Once it did, a shape formed around her. He said: “These tests that I have prepared for you are unlike anything we have tried before. I can assure you that you will not be in any danger.”

            She thought: Yeah right! Like what I had witnessed on that videodisc. That was dangerous!

            “We will get started. A pyramid will form. It is quiet real and not an illusion. It will be totally enclosed with an invisible barrier. The pyramid will be suspended in mid-air for the duration of the tests. This room is soundproof and you will be in total darkness. This choker that I am placing around your neck is our only means of communication, through this you can speak to me. I have installed a listening device in the center of the pyramid, above your head. We will be able to watch you through a closed circuit video screen. You cannot see it from your seat in the pyramid. I'm going to leave now and in a few minutes you will feel a slight jolt. This means the pyramid is being lifted to the desired height for the tests."

            He left then.

            Christina could no longer see Mirt. She waited and watched the room darken then all she saw was the interior of the pyramid. The hieroglyphics were very clear, colorful, and similar to the ones found in the Great Pyramid in Egypt. She didn't feel the jolt Mirt was talking about but she had a sense of moving upward.

            Inside the pyramid there was room to walk around, but she could not get up. Something was stopping her from getting up. She could not see anything but could feel pressure when she pushed her hands straight up. She found herself using the relaxation techniques that she had learned from Orem. She had no sense of time and started feeling as if she was floating above the seat.

            The barrier was gone, somehow. Bright, vivid colors started appearing all around her. She then saw a tunnel. There was a bright white light at the end of it. She saw herself walking down this tunnel and opened the door at the end. The light was blinding but started to dim as she entered the doorway. She found herself on Earth in Springfield, Massachusetts. There were people around, yet no one noticed her. She started walking around noticing the buildings and their surrounding areas. It finally hit her—the buildings were artificial!

            They looked like wood but upon close inspection it was some type of plastic. She was beginning to wonder what had happened. She then decided to see if she could go home to Denver which was strange, since she lived in Oregon. Was this some future event?

            She looked behind her and there was the doorway that she had entered. She went back into the tunnel. Another door had the bright white light surrounding it. She went to that door and walked through. She found herself in a city that she had never seen before. The buildings shimmered and were very tall. She started walking towards what looked like a hotel. Inside the hotel were a large video screen and the announcer said: "Good evening, this is the seven o'clock news. This is Carl Wilson reporting to you live from Denver, Colorado; now to the local happenings in the area." The screen showed the street outside the hotel and then an aerial view.

            The Earth that she had known had changed drastically since she left. She then felt herself returning because she heard Mirt's voice. "Christina, do you see anything? Are you all right? We had no readings from inside the pyramid. All our equipment went blank."

            She came back slowly and half answered his questions. She didn't want to tell him what had happened. She needed to talk to Rale and Orem.

            Mirth then said: “I will end the tests for now until I a chance to recalibrate this equipment.”

            She felt the pyramid descending. Her energy level was still very low. Rale came in and released her from the seat. He noticed that she was totally exhausted and motioned for her to say nothing. He then removed the choker and helped her out. Rale gave Mirt the choker in the front room. Mirt was too busy checking his equipment.

            Christina’s color and outward appearance was already back to normal, so Mirt was not suspicious. The door opened when they were near it. Rale and Christina walked out. They walked to the lifting platform. Once they got on it, they went down. She still didn't feel centered. He held her around her waist. She felt a little safer with him. They reached the bottom and took a right to the front entrance. They walked out and headed straight for the air car. She almost collapsed before entering it. Rale helped her up and strapped her in. She had so much to tell Rale about what had happened and hoped that he could answer some of the questions that had come up.

            Once they were airborne, Rale asked: "What happened? Your energy level was very low when I came in to release you from that seat. Your skin was very white, I thought you would faint. It's a good thing your appearance improved before Mirt saw you." She explained.

            He then said: "We will see Orem tonight. This is too important to wait. I can't understand why Mirt's equipment went blank. Technically everything should have worked. Orem should be able to answer your questions and explain what happened. Let me initiate the teleportation transducer and we'll be at his place in a few seconds. I'll also disconnect the location device at the same time."

            Orem and Bret met them when they landed. The air car was concealed in an underground garage. They would not be able to trace where they had flown to nor where we had landed thanks to Rale's quick thinking. As they entered the house from the lower level, Orem picked up on her low energy level. He suggested: "Refresh yourselves."

            Bret went to the kitchen to prepare something, while they went into the garden area in his living room.

            Orem went to a mirrored section and touched a panel, inside was various colored liquids in the same shaped bottle. He poured them some of the blue and said: "This should increase your energy level. Now tell me how it became so low."

            Rale went first and explained about their activities today. Christina then finished explaining about what had happened at the research center. Orem listened carefully.

            By the time they had completely finished, Bret was back with dinner. Dinner here was quite recognizable. It looked and tasted like sliced turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, green peas and carrots, and biscuits. It tasted wonderful! The four of them enjoyed dinner. She watched each of them as they ate. They actually felt the texture, of each food and savored the feeling. It was a slight shifting of facial muscles, a twinkle in the eye, or a quiver on the lips that gave her that impression. It was quite interesting to watch. They ate in silence. After every one was done, Bret went to secure the house.

            Orem then explained: "I don’t want you to return to the research center. You can stay here with me. This is a very safe and secure place. From what you have told me, you had an out-of-body experience. The conditions that had been set up were ideal for this occurrence. Since the equipment went blank as you started this experiment, it meant that you actually teleported yourself back to Earth.

            Normally for an out-of-body experience just the spiritual essence travels and the physical body stays behind. Why no one saw you, it's because you had automatically initiated your protective shield. Very few people have had an experience such as this; they just don't have the capability. This means that you can travel anywhere in the universe as long as you have the coordinates. With each trip you take, you won't even need coordinates just thought. Your protective shield will enable you to breathe any atmosphere and shield you from anything that is harmful. With your permission since your energy levels are now quite high, I would like to try an experiment. I want you to use the relaxation techniques that I taught you and tell me when you see anything."

            He watched as she took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. He watched as she closed her eyes. It was then that he entered her mind. He saw that she was where she was supposed to be. He left and then said: "Good, now I want you to visualize us standing on either side of you. Well done, now I want you to open the door and walk through."

            Christina found herself back on Earth with Orem and Rale. We were in Canon City, Colorado! It is shadowed and sheltered by a close ring of mountains at the head of the Arkansas Valley, where the Arkansas River bursts from its canyon confines to begin a 1,900-mile open country run to the Mississippi. West of town is Royal Gorge canyon with a suspension bridge that spans the Arkansas River. Orem was fascinated by the area and said: "This is quite beautiful. No one is in our immediate area; let your protective shield drop. I want to enjoy your world for a little while before we go back to mine."

            It felt great to be back home and I've always liked Colorado.

            Orem wanted to see a sunset so they stayed until then. After the sunset, they were once again in an isolated area so no one could see them. "Now I want you to use the relaxation techniques you used earlier and tell me when you see anything."

            Once again he entered her mind. He saw that she was where she was supposed to be and left. He then said: "Good, now I want you to visualize us standing on either side of you. Well done, now I want you to open the door and walk through."

            It seemed like only a few seconds had passed. They were back on Motrae, Orem's and Rale's home planet. In fact, they were in the same place that they had been in at his house. Bret came in then and asked if they needed anything.

            Orem gracefully dismissed him and then told us: "Bret didn't notice anything different Christina, because time as you know it was temporarily displaced. What seemed like one complete day on Earth was but a few minutes on my world. Bret was still doing his security search. When he came in just a few seconds ago was when he had finished. So he had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary had happened. In my research, I have found that teleportation of this kind has no time barriers. Various young races have set the time barrier to fit their particular needs. This form of teleportation allows the traveler to choose any time, the past or the future. Let me show you to your rooms. Christina, try to get a good night's sleep. Rale sleep well, too."

            Looking back at Christina, he said: "We will be testing your abilities further, tomorrow."

            She was totally exhausted and was glad that they did not have to go far to their rooms. They each said goodnight and as soon as her body touched the bed she went to sleep. At least here she really felt safe and secure.

            The next day, Rale came in and woke her. She then found out that she had slept for most of the day. He said: "It's quite normal for the amount of energy that you used."

            They had a large lunch and met Orem in his lab, which was set up in the lower level of the house. He had set up several tests, none of which looked anything like Mirt's tests. She trusted Orem completely, so she was not alarmed by what she saw before her.

            Orem said: "I have set up various energy fields. It is to test your shield. I want to see just how quickly you can bring up your shield, how long your shield lasts, and the different types of environments that will stand up against your shield. If you are ready we can begin. Now Christina, relax and visualize your shield surrounding you. Good, it only took you one minute. Now go into the containment spheres."

            She walked up to one and just stepped right through it. Her shield let her penetrate those containment spheres. Her face showed amazement that she could do this. She had never been able to pass through solid objects like this. Wow! Rale watched with awe. He had never seen anyone do this.

            Orem said: "Good, continue and go to the next one. So far I see no breakdown of your shield, continue to the last sphere. All right teleport yourself from that sphere to where Rale is standing."

            Rale was at the opposite end of the room from where she was.

            Orem then said: "Good, keep your shield up until I tell you to remove it. I want the both of you to stay on the grounds. Periodically, I will be testing your shield for its strength as time passes."

            Rale and I left the lab and went outside. It was a warm, clear night. He started pointing out various star systems that he knew, explaining a little about each. She removed her shield so they could stand closer together. They really enjoyed each other's company. Suddenly, they kissed! She was surprised but not shocked. She did care for Rale. They had been together ever since she arrived on his world.

            It was a little strange because on Earth if a girl or a woman was kissed by surprise she might blush but Rale turned bright red. He said: "I'm sorry but I couldn't help myself. I've had feelings for you since I was first assigned to watch you. On my world men who show strong emotions turn bright red all over. It wears off in a few minutes."

            Just then Orem called: "Rale, Christina, please come in here. I have set up a few more tests. Now, Christina, I want to test the strength of your shield. I'm going to fire one of our photon powered hand weapons at you. If it should get through it will not harm you. It might tickle though. I want you to deflect it. Good, I can sense your shield is already up and it only took a second this time. That's a great improvement in time. It can save your life. All right here it goes."

            She was standing across the room from Orem and Rale and saw the ray coming towards her. Her instinct was to run but she stood there and it could not penetrate her shield. Luckily, no one else was harmed either, although it did vaporize one of Orem’s plants.

            Orem was surprised and said: "It didn't penetrate your shield at all. The others that have gone through this test had their shields penetrated at various degrees. I think it's best if you stay here with me until we can return you to your own world. This is for your own protection because Mirt and Benu will try to make you use your powers against your will for their devious purposes."

            Christina preferred to stay with Orem rather than with Benu and Mirt. Orem didn't do anymore tests that night. He suggested that she listen to some music in the garden. The music is not unlike our instrumental New Age music back home. Christina enjoyed his garden very much for its sense of peace and beauty.

            In the meantime Orem, Rale, and Bret stayed in the laboratory. Orem told them: "We have to keep Christina away from Mirt and Benu. With her capabilities there is no telling what they would do with her. I want the both of you to stage an accident in which we will let it be known that Christina dies without any evidence remaining to prove otherwise. Rale will then go back to Benu and Mirt, and tell them what happened.

            Looking directly at Rale, he said: “I will arrange some injuries so he will believe you. They will look quite real but you won't feel any pain.”

            Rale nodded in agreement. Bret came up behind Rale.

            Orem continued: "I can also implant temporary memories. This will help should Mirt or Benu use their interrogation techniques. The best place to stage this accident is between here and Benu's house in the unpopulated area. I can send Benu's air car ahead, which I have wired for remote control and have it explode. Bret will drive you to the exact spot."

            Orem placed his hands on either side of Rale's temples. He stared into his eyes. Orem was already planting the memory. He also removed the memory of Christina being alive and hiding here. Rale's face had gone pale. He was starting to collapse. Orem gently let him go. Bret was behind him. The two of them took Rale to the air car. Rale would regain consciousness at the accident site. He told Bret before he left the air car: "You can make the necessary preparations before I signal the distress command to Benu. I'll send the air car out now, so you two better get moving. I'll go and keep Christina company until I get your signal. Good luck!"

            Christina didn't hear Orem come in. The music just filled the whole area. It was unlike our sound systems on Earth. It's more melodic, exciting, active, and flows with whatever scenery you’re in.

            Orem said: "Each culture changes the music to fit them. I would love to listen to all the various types of music from your world again, to see how much it’s changed. Looking directly into her eyes, he then said: I've just sent Rale and Bret to make sure Mirt and Benu will not search for you. You can stay here as long as you like and then I'll help you in getting back to Earth. Tomorrow, if you want, we can visit some of our colonies."

            She was intrigued by the possibility of going to some of their colonies. Just then Christina heard a loud bell go off, and it drowned out the music they were listening to. This must be a warning device. Orem took her with him to his laboratory and he talked to Bret.

            Bret said: "Everything is all set. Rale is lying next to the wreckage. I've sent the distress signal to Mirt. He'll be right out to inspect the crash site. There is only a few pieces of the ship, just enough to identify it, in the vegetation. Rale is still unconscious. I think I'll stick around to see what happens. An air car is approaching and has just landed. Mirt and Benu are leaving the ship and going over to Rale. He just regained consciousness.

            Rale spoke first: "What happened? Where's Christina? We lost control. The car started going down. I couldn't stop it!"

            Bret was speaking softly into a small microphone so Orem could hear: “Rale is visibly shaking. He has a cut on his forehead, a couple of burns on his chest, left shoulder, and his left leg. It looks like they are questioning him. Rale is telling them what happened. I think they believe him. They're now checking him over for injuries and seem quite satisfied that he wasn't lying. I see them taking a closer look at the wreckage. They are heading back to their ship. Rale is trying to get up. He passed out. They looked at him, smiled, and then got into Mirt's air car. They should have taken Rale with them to help him with his injuries, but they left him to die. They're gone now. I'm going to get Rale. It seems that they didn't even care about getting Rale some medical attention. We'll be back in a few minutes."

            Bret picked Rale up and carried him to his hidden air car. He then drove back to Orem's house. Upon landing, Rale and Bret met them in the garden area for some liquid refreshment. There was a shocked look on his face when he saw Christina. The memory he had was so real for him. He never expected to see her alive again. He hugged her and lifted her up in the air. She squealed in joy. He put her back down. Orem walked up to him then and placed his hands on either side of his temples. He stared into his eyes. He removed the temporary memories and restored everything back to normal. Rale's injuries healed instantaneously.

            Christina's face showed puzzlement. She didn't know what had just happened. Bret then brought in the liquid refreshment. Everyone had the blue liquid. It was then that Orem gave Christina a complete explanation about what had happened and what it means to her. She was relieved to know that the injuries Rale had were all faked. Orem had done an excellent job. At last she wouldn't have to worry about Mirt or Benu trying to use her for her abilities.

            Looking straight at her, Orem said: "Now that the plan worked you will not be able to go anywhere near Mirt or Benu's jurisdiction. There are a lot of areas to see besides what they control. As I told you earlier there is always the space colonies, your abilities will protect you if you ever see them by accident. For tonight I think we should celebrate!"

            He turned to Bret and said: "I want you to make reservations at my favorite club for the four of us. I want the works!"

            Bret left then to make the arrangements. Rale left to change clothes for tonight. So that left Orem and Christina to talk some more before they got ready.

            Orem said: "I know there are a thousand questions just waiting to come out. Let me explain a little about our life here. One thousand years ago we were having problems much like your own people on your world—little wars, not enough natural resources to meet the needs of the population, so we had a contest the object was to get the problems solved. There were three of us who tied: Benu, Mirt, and myself. Since we all had good ideas, the world population decided that the three of us would share the responsibilities of governing this world. Power corrupts. Five hundred years later, I was removed from my office.

            Benu started experimenting on other species and arranged it to look like I had performed these experiments. It was proven later that I did not but it was too late for my job. He has most of the positions filled with people who he has control over. He can essentially do anything he wants. The world population has had their needs fulfilled, the economy has flourished, and colonies have been established so they look the other way at his little acts.

            People are now starting to pay more attention to his 'little acts' and they want it stopped. You could help us by talking to them. We have medical facilities to take care of problems like that now. The only problem we have is getting Benu and Mirt there. With your help we can now do that. Your abilities are remarkable! The ultimate decision will be yours. I will not force you."

            She really didn't know what to say. She felt stunned to hear this. This seemed pretty important. She wondered if she would be able to make the right decision.

            Orem then said: "Let's get ready for that celebration. If you will come with me, I'll show you where you can get ready."

            He took her to another room. She walked in and found several gowns on the sleeping platform. She was elated!

            "How did you get these? They are absolutely gorgeous!" she asked him.

            He replied with a big grin: "I have my methods. Pick one for tonight. The bathing facilities are to your left. Everything you need is there. When you're finished, please join us in the garden area."

            He left then. She slipped her jumpsuit off her shoulders and let it fall. One of the little cleaners came out and picked it up. The bathing facilities were exactly the same as in every place she had been in. This time when the little appendages came out to comb her hair, they placed little blue diamonds in her hair. It was not glued on; a strand of hair was twisted into it. It made them look like they were floating in her dark shoulder length hair. The appendages had combed her hair back and curled under. She still had a hard time getting used to the 'elimination station'. She stepped out and walked over to the bed. The tough part would be choosing one of those gowns. They all sparkled. There was an emerald green, a fiery red, a glittery black, and a teal blue gown. Each one felt like velvet inside and out. She had to try each one on. As she put the first one on, a full-length mirror formed near the sleeping platform. She said: "Thank you, room."

            The red one left the right shoulder bare and had a long sleeve on the left arm. The green one left an opening showing a little cleavage with short sleeves. The teal blue was sleeveless but billowed at the feet. The black one was high-neck, empire waist, long sleeved, and straight to the floor. Each one made her look great! She had a hard time choosing. She was in the black one. The diamonds in her hair looked perfect with this one. She found the little flat shoes again. They changed colors on her feet to match the gown. She was ready to leave. She walked down the corridor and made a left to the garden area. Orem and Rale were there. They were dressed in the perfect tuxedos. By the looks on their faces, they approved of her choice. Their eyes were wide opened and their mouths hung open.

            Rale walked over, gave her a kiss on the cheek and said: "Wow!"

            Orem came over and kissed her on her other cheek saying: "You look beautiful, my dear."

            He then said: "Ready to go?"

            They intertwined arms and walked toward the front entrance of the house. Bret had already beat them there and opened the door for them. As they left Bret said: "The car is waiting outside. I will be out as soon as I secure the area."

            It had been a long time since two gentlemen had escorted Christina. It felt great! Orem walked over to the air car and opened it. Rale escorted Christina inside. Orem followed. Bret came in shortly thereafter. The door was secured. Rale, Christina, and Orem had already fastened their seatbelts. Bret went forward to the pilot's seat. Liftoff was a breeze.

            Orem told Christina: "Look to your right." He had made the entire right side opaque.

            She squealed with delight: "Oooooh, how beautiful!" She could see everything below. It was like looking at star lights in the night sky. All of them were in high spirits that night. She wondered what other sights were in store.

            Orem spoke then: "This is just the beginning. We will arrive shortly." It was as if he knew what she had been thinking.

            Orem's club was in another hemisphere than where he lived. The architecture was like I'd never seen before. It was absolutely fascinating! The tables were floating in mid-air. They were seated near the stage and had arrived in time for the floorshow. This was one that you wouldn't see on Earth. The music and costumes were absolutely terrific. The singers and the band's heads were three-dimensional and that would frighten most of the people on Earth.

            Christina enjoyed it immensely and the food was terrific. They had a variety of dishes: blue, brown, red, yellow, orange, purple, mauve, and electric green. Each color had a different taste and texture. It was nothing like she had ever eaten before. It was very late when they left but they enjoyed themselves.

            Bret flew them back to Orem's house. He took care of parking the air car, as the rest of them went into the house. They each went to their sleeping quarters. They all slept very well that night and woke mid-afternoon the next day. Bret prepared a large meal once everyone was awake. After they ate, they all went to the laboratory.

            Orem said: "Now if you're ready we can go to any of our space colonies. Are you ready?”

            She nodded that she was.

            “Now, I want you to use the relaxation techniques that you've learned and tell me when you see anything."

            He looked into her mind's eye and saw that she was where she was supposed to be. He then said: "Good, now I want you to visualize us standing near you. Well done, now I want you to open the door and walk through."

            They were on a planet where the sky was green and had a red sun. Everyone looked strange because of the light.

            Rale spoke then: “This is our colony on Teezer in the Andromeda Spiral. This colony has been established for two centuries. This planet was habitable when we first discovered it. We also found signs of a previous civilization but there was no one here. The cities were in excellent condition so we used them. Come, all we have to do is walk through this meadow, over that small hill straight ahead, and we'll be there.”

            They started walking toward the city. The temperature was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The air smelled sweet with flowers from the meadow. It was like a perfect spring day on Earth. She felt lighter than normal.

            Rale then said: "The gravity here is less than your Earth's. It's less than our planet's, too."

            How did he do that? She wondered if his species had telepathy, but kept this ability a secret as a means of protection. No matter, she just continued walking. The walk was quite refreshing and the initial view of the city was spectacular. The city looked like it was made of light and crystal. It looked quite fragile and yet it was very advanced technologically. She wondered what the original inhabitants looked like.

            Rale told them: "I have a permanent residence in this city." It was then that they saw other people walking about. The people here didn't react to their presence. It was as if they had been there all along. They went to the heart of the city to Rale's apartment. There was a chime at the door and he spoke his name, then the door opened automatically. The room was spotless and it looked brand new.

            Rale had told them: "I haven't been here for over one hundred years."

            There was a large window in the center of the living room, looking at the fountain that was in the center of the city. The furniture was different! It's difficult to explain because it was so alien. It was nothing like what she had seen on Motrae. They relaxed while Rale prepared a meal in the kitchen. They had all felt their energy levels dropping as they walked to the city. The food was different, too but quite tasty. The shapes were quite odd: triangular, helix twists, three-dimensional pyramids. The texture varied with the shapes, too. The guys shared one of the two bedrooms and she got a room by herself. They would begin to explore this planet tomorrow. They awoke to what sounded like birds chirping.

            Rale explained: "The sound is exactly like your birds on Earth but it is a furred four-legged animal on this world. They are quite friendly and many of the inhabitants here keep them as pets. We haven't found any life form that is hostile on this world. There are other cities that were left abandoned that are in excellent condition.

            We can take a teleportation tube to get to them. Most of the cities are interconnected. The social structure on this world permits anyone to come and go as they please. Everything is automatic and self-renewing. If you tire of this location and apartment, you can erase your entry code and go to another city. We haven't used all the cities or even filled up the ones that we have used.

            Christina, I think your abilities can help us discover who the previous occupants were and why they left. We could go to another city just ten kilometers north of here. No one has been interested in staying there, provided they could get in."

            They had a large meal before they left. The teleportation tube was just around the corner from Rale's apartment. He punched in the coordinates. They found themselves in front of huge golden doors. No one had been able to open these doors since this world was first colonized.

            Orem, Bret, Rale, and Christina inspected the doors, looking for anything that might help them get in. They tried pushing it, in the center, but it didn't move.

            Orem looked at her and said: "Christina, I want you to concentrate. Use those relaxation techniques that you've learned." He saw her face relax.

            "Good, now tell us what you see."

            She could hear herself say: "I see people inside the city. They’re humanoid but are bird-like. There's plumage on their head instead of hair but they have no wings. They cannot fly! It's a very peaceful society. They are technologically advanced. They are the ones who built this city and all the others. They have some abilities that I have telekinesis, telepathy, and psychometry. They used telekinesis to open these doors once before. They thought that this particular city could protect them from the comet's radiation that had killed most of their race. We might be able to find some of them still alive in there. I am going to try to open these doors."

            She concentrated very hard. They noticed a slight beading of moisture on her forehead. Suddenly, they heard creaking and the doors opened slowly. There was a wonderful fragrance that came through. It smelled like honeysuckle. There was no decay anywhere. This city was immaculate and was still functioning.

            She was walking inside. She didn't know where she was going but it was as if she was being drawn to the center of the city. She was oblivious to her surroundings. Once there, she touched some buttons on the statue and an underground entrance opened. Orem, Bret, and Rale had to run to keep up. They descended and everything was well lit. She continued to be drawn towards the center of this place. It was dark and damp. Vegetation hung from the ceiling. Every once in a while they would see green glowing items on the walls. They went through at least a meter of this tunnel before she found what was there.

            In front of her were two glass cases with a male and a female of the bird people as she called them for now. They had beaks for noses and feathers covered their faces except for the eyes and the mouth. They were humanoid. There was a panel of buttons to the left of these cases. She started touching them in sequential order and the cases started to glow. She had no idea how she had known which buttons to push.

            Everyone stood still and the place started humming. The cases then opened and the male came out first. She stepped back. It was not from fear but surprise. She never expected to be able to open those cases. God only knew how long they had been in them. He used his telepathy and told her his name was Falcon and that his life mate was Fallon. He suggested: "Let us go to the surface. It has been too long since I've seen and felt the warmth of the sun. I will explain what had happened then."

            He motioned that they follow him. They got out a different way than the way they had entered. They went behind the cases where he touched a hidden panel. He hummed a melody and it opened. Fallon stayed behind. Christina saw them look into each others eyes as if they were communicating silently. They then climbed the stairs up toward the city. They found themselves to the right of a marvelous water fountain. It had shifted to the left. Once everyone had gotten out, the fountain returned to its original position. Falcon's legs were a little rubbery. He had not used them for quite some time. Christina went next to him and put her arm around his waist. "Thank you for your assistance." She heard in her mind. She was amazed at how light he actually was.

            He said telepathically: "My home is down three blocks and to the right. It has the rainbow fish symbol hanging at the entrance. Your males are still following?"

            She replied vocally: "Yes, my friends are still behind us." Orem, Rale, and Bret were ten paces behind them. They were talking amongst themselves. They had never suspected that the original planet's inhabitants were still alive. This was a momentous occasion. The city was set up like an old European town, the only difference being the materials used for the buildings. As they walked, he picked up on her questions. She had only thought them.

            He said telepathically: "The material looked like sea shells crushed and applied like stucco. What is stucco?"

            She explained vocally: "Stucco is a material usually made of Portland cement, sand, and a small percentage of lime. It is applied in a plastic state to form a hard covering for exterior walls."

            He continued: "The crystal spires are our government and public centers. They are used for general meetings. A communication center for off-world contact, scientific endeavors, entertainment, and schooling is also in the crystalline buildings. Our private homes and shops are representative of the individuals that live in them. I know you have more questions and will finish once we reach my home."

            She replied vocally: "Thank you." She was still supporting him as he continued walking toward is home. They were almost there. She could now see the rainbow fish symbol hanging at the entrance. It was three houses away. His place had an iridescent glow to it. They now stood in front of his home. He hummed the same melody he had used down below. The door swished open. She expected it to smell old and musty but it wasn't. It was immaculate inside.

            They entered Falcon's home. He went to the kitchen for refreshments: "Please have a seat in the other room."

            We were quite surprised when he used his voice. Earlier, she had only sensed that they spoke telepathically. It was melodic and yet powerful. The tone was that of a perfect tenor. The chairs were egg-shaped with a cushion in the bottom. It sat on a small pedestal. Each of them sat in one. Christina couldn’t help but tuck her legs in. It was perfect! It swiveled!

            Rale, Orem, and Bret watched her with fascination. Falcon felt her joy radiating all the way to the kitchen. He sensed that she was different from the males. They were more guarded with their feelings. The chairs were recording their genetics. His wife would get the psychological profiles, later. This was standard procedure when meeting aliens. It was purely instinctual, since they were a peaceful race.

            Permanent behavior modifications could be made without them being aware of the procedure, if necessary. He then walked in with their drinks. They were all the same color—orange. The glasses were tall and round, like Tupperware but crystal clear. He gave the first glass to Christina. When he handed the second glass to Rale, she took a sip. It tasted like fresh squeezed peaches. It was fuzzy, just like biting into a fresh peach. When he handed the third glass to Orem, Rale took a sip. It tasted like a fruit from his home world. The taste was similar to the Earth juices—mixed pineapple and pear juice. Orem took a sip form his glass and tasted his favorite fruit. Bret did the same and tasted his favorite. Simultaneously, they asked: "How did you know our favorite fruit juice?"

            Each of them stared at each other. They colors were exactly the same, but each of them had tasted something different. Falcon smiled and said in his melodic tenor voice: "It's a natural fruit on our world that adheres to each individual's tastes. It is compatible for your species and ours. We give it to all of our visitors."

            Falcon's hand passed over a crystal ball in the center of the room. The room darkened and holographic pictures started forming. It showed how his people evolved to their present stage of life.

            He said: “Two centuries ago a comet passed between our sun and our world. This changed the color of the sky and carried a type of radiation that we haven't encountered before. It is safe now but when the change first occurred it was deadly. The young were the first to be affected and then the elderly. By the time we fixed this one city to survive, most of our race had died. We just have three hundred people left. Our society is peaceful and I think we can co-exist with your people. I also noticed that only one of you present have the abilities that we have.”

            Looking straight at Christina.

            “Although some of you have the abilities, but not so strong as that one individual. We want to thank you for releasing us. Now we can release our people from their protective sleep.”

            A beeping sound was heard during the holographic presentation. This was when Christina noticed a wrist device, funny how she didn't see that before, there was a slight glow emanating from it. He excused himself and went into the kitchen. It was his life mate. A small holographic image appeared above the diamond-shaped face. It spoke: "All of our people have been awakened. I'm sending them to their homes. We lost Auric. A failure of equipment, only bones remained. The funeral arrangements will be in the morning. Is it well with you? Are the visitors behaving?"

            He spoke softly: "They are still watching the holographic presentation. I've given them the orange liquid. They are sitting in the egg chairs. I activated the chairs when we entered. The female is more open. Shall I bring them to you?"

            The image spoke: "No, I'll be there shortly. If you can keep the males occupied, I'll test the female first." The holographic image disappeared. He walked back into the front room. The presentation had just finished.

            "Any questions?" he asked. All four of them were still amazed at what they had just seen. Christina spoke first: "On our world we have museums with paintings and sculptures—art work. Do you have any such places?"

            They heard a chirping sound. Falcon got up and went to the entrance of their home. He touched a panel on the let and could view whoever was on the other side of the door. He saw that it was his life mate, Fallon. Touching a yellow button on the panel, it opened the door. He greeted her with a hug, and whispered "perfect timing."

            He walked her to where Orem, Rale, Bret, and Christina were. Falcon said: "This is my life mate, Fallon."

            She wore an orange shirt with brown pants. It matched his outfit. Everyone exchanged greetings. She walked up to each one. When she got to Christina, Fallon said in a melodic soprano voice: "Please stay seated. My life mate tells me that you had a question about our cultural centers? I can take you to one now, if you would like?"

            Christina was elated. Orem and Rale suggested: "Go ahead, don't let us stop you. I'm sure that Falcon will find something for us here."

            Christina got out of her egg shaped chair. She walked over to Fallon. She had to look up. Fallon was a foot taller. Now Christina was not short by any means. She figured that Fallon was six foot seven inches tall, since she was five foot seven inches tall. This might be fun, she hasn't had any female companionship since she was brought to Motrae. She missed having a girlfriend to talk to. They walked out the main entrance. Fallon took her back to the open square with the fountain. She points up the hill to the tall crystal spiral and said in her melodic soprano voice: "We will be walking up there. I'm glad we have this time alone. I wish to thank you for releasing my life mate and me. After releasing the others, I saw on the records that we had been in stasis for 1,000 years. We are anxious to start normal lives again."

            They walked up the narrow roadway to the crystal spiral. The air was so fresh. It was exhilarating. There was a steady increase in the incline to get to the top. Christina was a little winded when she reach the top. She did enjoy the walk, though. Fallon suggested to Christina: "Catch your breath; we're almost to the entrance."

            It was two blocks away. Christina closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. Fallon saw this as a chance to use her skills. She was behind Christina and placed her hands on either side of face without touching. Fallon closed her eyes and little light waves passed from her hands to Christina's temples. The light waves were pink/white in color. Since Christina did not feel threatened, her shield did not come up. Christina's face went into a deeper state of relaxation. Fallon was able to pick up on her memories at a rapid pace. She had seen the removal from Earth to present time. It had only taken ten minutes. Fallon opened her eyes. She got up very quietly and walked to the left of where Christina was sitting. She said: "Are you ready to move on?"

            Christina opened her eyes and replied: "Yes, I feel much better now." The road had ended. They walked up a path that was surrounded by flowers. These were similar to hibiscus found only in Hawaii. They came in colors she had never seen before: electric blue, bright green, neon yellow and fiery orange. It was amazing. Once they reached the door, Fallon asked Christina: "Do you want to try and open the door?"

            Christina looked at her, smiled and said: "Sure."

            She didn't see any obvious handles. She didn't see any control panels around the door. So she hummed the melody that she heard Falcon use twice before. The door opened! The joy on Christina's face showed with a really big grin. They walked in. The inside was very misleading. It was huge! It was good that she wasn't alone. A person could get lost in here. There was a spiral staircase made of an iridescent material straight ahead. It was sparkling. She was becoming dizzy looking straight up to see how high it actually went. It looked like it went for miles. Fallon had to catch her before she hit the floor.

            "Wow!" said Christina.

            Fallon asked: "Are you all right? You did not injury yourself?"

            Christina replied: "I'm fine now. Thank you for catching me. Shall we get started?"

            Fallon took her to the right. They started walking around a circular corridor. The paintings were three-dimensional. Each one covered a separate topic. She saw landscapes, individual portraits, and imaginary scenes. They were very realistic. She had not realized that they had made it up to the third level already. She had felt no incline upward. Fallon had been observing her throughout the entire session. She said: "Tell me your feelings."

            They were standing in front of a blank frame. The weird thing was as she was thinking about this question, the interior of that one frame started forming a picture. It showed a picture of her home on Earth. It was a perfect scene, just as if she was standing outside on the driveway. It made her feel homesick. The feeling was so strong that tears started flowing down her cheeks. She spoke in a broken voice: "I miss my home, family, and friends."

            Fallon watched the raw emotions that were being displayed. From a pocket in her pants, she took out a small gray cloth and gave it to Christina. Christina dried her eyes and blew her nose. She couldn't stop crying. It developed into heavy sobs that racked her body. It was as if all her emotions were surfacing. Too many strange events had happened and it was as if she was finally releasing all these penned up emotions. She heard Fallon say: "Release all this, young one. You have been through a lot these past few months. Come let me comfort you."

            She held her arms stretched out. Christina walked over to her and snuggled, still crying very strongly. She closed her eyes and her body shook with huge sobs. Fallon held her trying to comfort her. While she had her in her arms, she went deeper into Christina’s mind. The pink/white light waves penetrated the back of Christina's head. Fallon closed her eyes and saw Christina's life on her home world. She saw Christina's birth into this lifetime and all the events leading up to her removal from her home world. The cycle was now complete. She had seen and felt all of her memories. She now had a good psychological profile on her.

            How young this species was, and how exploitable; they would have to be protected. It was then that she noticed that Christina's energy levels had dropped. She gently gave her a telepathic command: "Sleep!"

            Christina collapsed in her arms. Fallon made a high-pitched whistle. A flat antigravity platform came out of the wall. She very gently laid Christina down on the platform. It conformed to her body. She touched the panel controls on the side and had the platform go down to the main level to the administrator's office. She followed the platform. The door opened automatically. She went to the view screen and placed a call to Falcon.

            The wrist device on Falcon's arm beeped. Falcon had Orem, Rale, and Bret working on a child's game. He didn't let them know that it was a child's game. It was a test of intelligence and manual dexterity. They had to fit various shapes into an antigravity sphere as it spun around. He walked away from them back into the kitchen. A small holographic image of his life mate appeared. It spoke: "I have the complete psychological profile on the female. She is on a stasis platform. Her race is quite young and has not been approached by the Galactics yet. They still war against themselves. How are the males doing?"

            He spoke softly: "They are taking the standard children's games for intelligence and manual dexterity. When I'm done here, I plan on taking them outside to the fountain in the center of town. We will wait there for you. I will find out more about them while we wait. How long will the female be in stasis?"

            The holographic image spoke: "Two more hours. You should have no problems keeping them occupied for that time. From what I've seen we will have to be very cautious with their species. I will need to get each of them alone for a more in-depth profile."

            The image disappeared. He went back into the front room. He saw that they were nearing the end of the first test. From what was left of the pieces on the floor, they had done quite well. Each of them had their own sphere to work with. Orem was just putting his last piece. The sphere opened and became a flat platform with each piece in place. Under each piece was the word for each item. He now had to touch each piece and repeat the word. The device would record the pronunciation and record any stress levels. Rale had just completed his sphere. It opened and became a flat platform with each piece in place. Bret was only half way through his sphere. He had the drawings ready for the next test. The universal translator in the crystal on the pedestal was recording everything and the results could be called up on the view screen when ready. Their people had tested millions of species before the comet. They were a very wise race and an old one. It was one of the reasons for the tests.

            If a young race was found to be too violent, they were quarantined on their home world until they worked it out for themselves, or destroyed themselves. If a young race was exploited by an older race, the young race was protected. Ten minutes later all three males had finished. Orem and Rale were ready for a breath of fresh air. They were about to ask if they could go outside, when Falcon said: "One more test before we meet the females."

            He touched the platforms and they returned to their spherical shapes. He adjusted a panel to the left of the view screen and the spheres returned to their storage area. The storage area was an opening under the panel, as soon as the spheres entered it closed. The view screen turned on and there was a three-way partition. Falcon said: "Each of you has a third of the screen. You will be shown pictures. You will describe your feelings that go with that picture in your own language. Take as many words as you need, from one to ten. It doesn't matter as long as you voice those feelings before the next picture comes up. You will not be shown the same pictures at the same time. You have one hour to accomplish this. The object is to get through as many of the 600 pictures as you can. As soon as you are finished, we will meet the females at the fountain at the center of our city. The three of them moved closer to the view screen. Little pedestal seats came up and they each sat down. "Begin now!" said Falcon.

            He watched as they voiced their answers. Orem seemed faster than Rale, yet he was older by physical standards. Rale was faster than Bret. The two seemed to be about the same age physically. It took them the complete time period to complete this test. When the test was over Falcon asked: "If anyone needs to use the elimination facilities it is in the back room to your left."

            Rale went first. Orem told Falcon: "Do you give everyone these test?"

            Falcon replied: "Yes, we do. It's our way of finding out more about the alien species we meet. If they are not willing to take them, we have other methods. It is necessary for our survival."

            Rale came back then and Orem left for the back room. Rale then spoke to Falcon: "Is Christina all right? How long before we meet them?"

            Falcon replied: "It will be one hour before they meet us at the fountain. I detect concern in your voice. How long have you known her?"

            Rale replied: "It has been two years by her time standards. I don't believe she realizes that much time has passed by. By my world's standards it's been six months. I don't like to see people mistreated for any reason."

            Orem came back then. They walked toward the door. Falcon went to the left and touched a button on the control panel. They all walked out and the door closed behind them. They walked up the roadway back to the center of the city. It took them thirty minutes to get back to the center. They took a seat on the edge of the fountain. The air felt exhilarating. It had been many years since he was able to stand out in the open and just breathe. It was then tat Falcon asked: "Are the four of you from the same planet?"

            Orem then said: "Christina is from the planet Earth in the Milky Way star system. We are from Motrae, which is quite near here. Most of us do not have those abilities that your people and Christina share. If you will let us, we can help you revive the rest of your race. Our people have inhabited your cities, although not every one of them. Those cities are not overcrowded. I think if you want to share one we can co-exist. Our people here are peaceful also and it would be wise to exchange knowledge between our two races. If you would permit, I can be your spokesman between my race and yours."

            Falcon replied: “It will not be necessary to revive them. My life mate has already seen to that. I have a few questions before I decide on your kind offer. I need you to explain more about your culture and history. Was your history as violent as Christina's people?” Rale and Orem looked at each other, wondering how he knew that. There had been no open discussion of cultural histories.

            Falcon said: "Soon it will be time for the females to have their young." Just then Fallon came with Christina. Christina had a smile on her face. She felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from her shoulders. Rale was relieved to see her. Fallon took each male to a section of the city that they desired to see. She did get a psychological profile on each of them. It was decided that these males were safe. Although from what she had learned from their memories, their species were to be watched very closely. If necessary, their planet would be quarantined.

            They had the run of the city and explored everything. Rale and Christina went to the museums and art/music centers, while Orem and Bret went to see the medical facilities and diplomatic centers.

            Rale said: "I think this is exactly what Orem needs right now. It will put his abilities to good use and help him later when he returns to our world. We could learn so much and help these people from being exploited. I don't want to see Mirt or Benu use them! They might be able to show us how to enhance our abilities so we can communicate more effectively.

            Once we've learned as much as we can about them, before the formal talks begin, the easier it will be for us to work together effectively. Who knows we might be able to find others like them on different worlds. They must have colonized other planets. They are so much older than our race."

            The next few months were very busy for Orem and Christina. She learned a lot from Falcon and his people. He seemed very interested about Earth and seemed to think that the human race had a long way to go before they were considered mature enough to join the Universal Council.

            This council patrolled the universe making sure each race had the opportunity to grow by themselves and with no interference from higher life forms. It also kept the peace in the universe. They then got ready for their group discussions. They had several of these a day. This made for long days but they were well worth it, for all the knowledge they acquired and exchanged.

            Tomorrow would be a big day because the formal meetings would begin with the colonists and Falcon's people. Christina couldn't sleep so Fallon they talked about the differences of how her people gave birth and how the children were brought up. The way each species brought up their children was the same, but the birthing was quite different. The time passed quickly and Christina had to change clothes for the talks.

            Christina's energy level was quite high, even though she had spent all night talking to Fallon. The talks went very well and an agreement was reached that benefited both races. This city, which was called Nester, was to remain exclusively to Falcon's people. Children would be encouraged to learn both ways of life. This way they would benefit early in life from both cultures. In the future, they would probably live together in the other cities that were now uninhabited on this world.

            Time went by so quickly that it was hard to believe that Fallon's son would be three years old tomorrow. It seemed like only yesterday that he had hatched from the egg that Fallon had laid. Their children grew at the same rate that the children on Motrae grew. Its just time is counted differently on Christina's world and theirs. For example, a person 1,095 years old on Motrae, and a person 3,000 years old on Teezer looks like a three-year-old Earth child. Our people live to be 150 years old, whereas the bird-people live to be 56,655 years old, and the inhabitants of Motrae live to be 54,750 years old. It's no wonder that each race is so far advanced.

            Orem and Christina talked last night. She decided that it was time she went home to Earth. She said good-bye to everyone and was given a special medallion by Falcon. He said: "This is for communication. If you should need us, we will come. If we need to talk to you, we will call you. It will emit a red light first, then you will receive a slight vibration next you will hear us speaking to you. It will get through to me or Orem from the Milky Way."

            Orem let me say good-bye to Rale privately. It was hard to do because we had come to know and depend on each other for such a long time. I was hoping that Rale would return to Earth with me, but was sadly disappointed.

            When we were finally alone, Orem then said: "Now Christina, I want you to use the relaxation techniques that you've learned."

            He saw that she was where she needed to be.

            "Good, now visualize the exact time you want to return to your world keeping in mind that 25 years have passed since you've been there. You can return shortly after our people first picked you up but not before. You will not forget any of what you have done or learned while you were with us, but it will save you from explanations to friends and family on your world. Whenever you are ready just visualize yourself somewhere on your world. Good-bye and keep in touch!"

            It seemed as if she had just finished talking to Orem and suddenly found herself on SR-33 in New Hampshire. This was where all this started so long ago. A car was approaching her on the highway. The driver noticed that she was all alone with had a dazed look on her face. He asked: "Miss, are you okay? How did you get here? Can I drive you into town?"

            She looked at him and replied: "I think so. I can't remember how I got here. A ride into town would be nice, thank you."

            He helped her to the right side of the car, opened the door, and after she climbed in shut the door. While she fastened her seat belt he walked around and got into the driver's side. He put on his seat belt and drove into town. He drove to the Exeter police station. He parked the car in the parking lot. They both walked in through the front entrance. He explained to the desk sergeant: "I just found this woman wandering on SR-33. She looks dazed. I saw no identification. Maybe you could help her?" The driver left then.

            Christina just stood there. She wasn't quite sure of her surroundings at this point. She definitely wasn't sure of the date. The desk sergeant noticed that her coloring was off. She did indeed look disoriented. He then saw that her body started shaking. He called for Sergeant Isner. Sergeant Isner was a veteran police officer in his late thirties. He had handled many unusual cases.

            He said: "Miss please sit on a chair, behind you against the wall. I've just paged Sergeant Isner. He will be out shortly."

            Christina looked behind her and saw the chairs. She sat down. It was then that her body started shaking again. She couldn't stop it. Tears were starting to fall from her eyes. Three minutes later Sergeant Isner showed up to the front desk. The desk sergeant filled him in. Sergeant Isner walked over to Christina and saw that she was in shock. Her skin tone was definitely pale, she looked distraught, and she was crying. He looked at her and said: “Miss, could you tell me what happened?”

            Christina replied: "I'm not sure. The last I remember was driving on SR-33 in a rental car when I saw a bright blue/white light. The car is nowhere, my purse and other belongings were in there. I'm scared. I can't stop crying or shaking. I found myself on SR-33 and a car approached me and offered me a ride into town."

            He handed her a tissue. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose. He replied: "If you will come with me, maybe we can find out exactly what happened."

            She stood up and walked with him to his desk. It was in an open area to the right of the front desk; his was the four from the left. He got out the necessary papers and started asking questions: "Your full legal name."

            She replied: "Christina McCloud"

            "Your current address?"

            She replied: "3022 Berry Lane, Sandy, Oregon."

            "What is today's date?"

            She replied: "8 May 1999"

            "Miss, are you sure?"

            She replied: "Yes, Sergeant. Today is 8 May 1999."

            He made a note the actual date was 15 May 1999. This woman was missing a week. He signaled for a female officer to come over. Officer Snyder came over. She was six feet tall, approximately 165 pounds, green eyes, short red hair in a ponytail. Sergeant Isner told Miss McCloud: "Ma'am would you go with Officer Snyder. She will fingerprint you. It's normal procedures."

            The policewoman could tell that she was in shock too. She took her time with her. They made it to the back room and she got out the fingerprinting kit. She asked Miss McCloud: "Height?"

            She replied: "5' 7"

            "Weight?"

            She replied: "125"

            "You have brown eyes and brown hair?"

            She replied: "Yes."

            Officer Snyder wrote all of this down on the fingerprint card. She opened up the inkpad and started with the right hand first. She took each finger and placed them on the inkpad. She then placed them with a slight roll from left to right on the form.

            Meanwhile Sergeant Isner went back to see Captain Winslow. He knocked on the door, when he heard "Enter" he went in. "Sir, I have an unusual case here. A motorist just brought in a female Caucasian with no I.D. He said that he found her wandering on SR-33. She thinks today is 8 May 1999. She looks like she still in shock, slight body tremors, pale complexion, and emotionally distraught. I have Officer Snyder taking her fingerprints now. Wasn't there an abandoned car found on SR-33 a week ago?"

            Captain Winslow said: "When Officer Snyder is finished bring her back to see me. We'll handle this. Run an immediate FBI check to make sure she is not with the Witness Protection Program. Check with property on that. This is going to be an interesting afternoon."

            Sergeant Isner said: "You can say that again, sir." He left.

            Officer Snyder had finished the fingerprints. She gave Miss McCloud some cream to remove the remainder of the fingerprint ink. She then asked: "Do you need to go to the Ladies Room?"

            Miss McCloud replied: "Yes, then I can wash my hands better."

            Officer Snyder took the fingerprints back to Sergeant Isner's desk. She then took Miss McCloud to the Ladies Room. She stayed in the room until she was finished. Miss McCloud washed her hands and then used the toilet. She washed her hands again and splashed cold water on her face. She then walked out with Officer Snyder behind her. They went back to Sergeant Isner's desk. Sergeant Isner picked up the fingerprint card and took them over to the fax machine to send to the FBI. Officer Snyder stayed with Miss McCloud while they waited for Sergeant Isner to return.

            Sergeant Isner looked over to his desk and walked over. He told Officer Snyder: "Please escort Miss McCloud back to Captain Winslow's office. He's expecting you."

            Captain Winslow was looking over the preliminary report that Sergeant Isner had started. He had planned on asking the same questions to see if Miss McCloud would change her answers. It was then that he heard a knock on the door. It was Officer Snyder with Miss McCloud.

            "Enter!" he said. Officer Snyder opened the door and let Miss McCloud in.

            Captain Winslow got up and asked Miss McCloud in a deep baritone voice: "Please take a seat. Officer Snyder please stay in the office while I talk with Miss McCloud. Now what seems to be the problem, ma'am?"

            Miss McCloud spoke: "I'm not quite sure. I remember driving my rental car on SR-33 and now I'm on SR-33 but no car. All my belongings, purse, etc. was in that car. When I told Sergeant Isner today's date he looked at me strange."

            Captain Winslow then asked: "And what is today's date, ma'am?"

            Miss McCloud replied: "8 May 1999."

            Captain Winslow then said: "I'm sorry but you're not correct. Today is 15 May 1999. I can show you today's newspaper. I can show you on the computer terminal, too. You seem to have lost a week. Can you tell me what you remember? Try and start at the beginning and we'll take it from there."

            Miss McCloud was visibly shaken by his statement: "I had come up here for an interview with a possible 'experiencer'—a soldier stationed at Fort Devens. I flow into Logan International Airport on the 3rd of May. I spent the first night in Waltham. I got a rental car on the morning of the 4th and drove down to Fort Devens.

            After my interview with the soldier, I went to Worcester to interview four local college students. I believed that they had seen the same craft that that soldier saw, only it was later in the day. From there I went to Lowell and got a room at the Doubletree Hotel. I had an interview set up with some senior citizens at Old Worthen House. I spent a couple of days here checking out the local sights and research in the public library. I believed that they had sighted the same craft as the soldier, and the college students. I had tied everything out and decided to leave late that night. I left at 11:00 p.m. It was a clear night.

            I made it to SR-33, was going in an Easterly direction when I heard a strange humming sound. I turned off the car radio and rolled down the windows. Since there was no one else on this road, I stopped the car. I got out, leaving the driver's door open. The clock on the car said it was 1:25 in the morning. I quickly looked at my watch and it read 1:25 a.m. 8 May 1999. Approximately ten feet away, in the sky was an unusual looking object."

            Captain Winslow then asked: "Could you draw me a picture of this object?"

            Miss McCloud replied in a shaky voice: "I think so."

            He handed her a pencil and a pad of legal-sized paper. She started drawing an oval shaped object with six rotating lights on the bottom. She handed it back to Captain Winslow. Her hands were shaking.

            He said: "Please continue…"

            Miss McCloud said: "The humming sound increased as the object got closer. It was emiting a strange blue light. I felt a tingling sensation throughout my body and felt very light."

            Both police officers noticed her body starting to shake then. Captain Winslow noticed that her eyes were tearing. He handed her a tissue. She wiped her eyes.

            Captain Winslow then asked: "What is the next thing you remember?"

            Miss McCloud replied: "I found myself walking on SR-33. A car was coming toward me. The driver asked me if I needed a ride tot own. He was nice enough to bring me here."

            Captain Winslow then asked: "I need to step out of my office for the moment to check on some reports. Is there anything I can get for you?"

            Miss McCloud replied: "A coke would be nice, thank you."

            Before Captain Winslow left he told Officer Snyder: "Please stay with Miss McCloud. I will be back shortly."

            Captain Winslow found Sergeant Isner. The FBI didn't have anything on her. Property did have a purse and luggage from an abandoned rental car found on SR-33 one week ago today. Captain Winslow told Sergeant Isner: "Go down to Property and sign out those items that was found on that abandoned car. Bring it to m office."

       Sergeant Isner left for Property. Corporal Wine was manning Property tonight.

            "Hey there, Jim. I need to sign out Exhibit 4008, the stuff that was found in that abandoned car on SR-33. We think we have the owner in the Captain's office right now. This is a strange one too." said Sergeant Isner.

            Captain Winslow also checked the reports filed for last Saturday. He found that there had been a few phone calls that had come in about 'some strange craft' sighted in the night sky. The pieces of this puzzle were starting to fit. He bought a coke from the vending machine and took it back to his office. He opened the door and handed the coke to Officer Snyder to give to Miss McCloud. "Ma'am, I'm going to have Sergeant Isner bring up a few items we found in an abandoned car on SR-33 a week ago today. I want you to see if you can identify those items." said Captain Winslow.

            "Of course, I would be glad too." replied Miss McCloud.

            Within five minutes Sergeant Isner came in with two suitcases and a black shoulder bag. As soon as Christina saw those she said: "Those are mine!"

            Captain Winslow checked the address on the luggage tags with the address on the report. They matched. He then opened up the purse and took out the wallet. He found the driver's license, checked the photo and the address. It was indeed Miss McCloud's property. He then said: "I have positive identification that these are your belongings. If you would sign this form, handing her the form with a pen. I can release this to you. I think you should be checked out by our local physician to make sure you're all right."

            He finished the report, had Sergeant Isner sign it, he signed it as a 'suspicious event'. He then had Miss McCloud sign it. She had Captain Winslow call the local doctor. He came over in ten minutes. Officer Snyder stayed in the office while the doctor did his preliminary assessment.

            When the doctor had completed his assessment, he told Officer Snyder to let the Captain back in. He told him: "Captain Winslow. I can tell you that Miss McCloud is indeed, in a state of shock. Her vital signs are erratic, it's indicative of trauma. She should rest for a couple of days before going anywhere. I would like to take her to the local hospital for a more complete examination and some tests."

            She was tired but didn't feel that she had to go to the hospital. She asked Captain Winslow: "Is there anything else that you need me to sign?"

            He replied: "No ma'am. I think it would be wise for you to let the doctor do his tests, though."

            They could all hear the fear in her voice as she said: "Right now all I want to do is go back home. If you need me later, you have my home address and phone number. If I can get a ride to the airport, I'll be heading home."

            She got up. Captain Winslow gave her a copy of the report and had Sergeant Isner escort her to the airport. He walked her out of the office and carried her luggage. They walked out the front door and turned left into the parking lot for his cruiser. He put her luggage in the trunk and had her sit in the back seat. She made it just in time for the next flight back to Oregon. The ride to the airport was quiet, neither of them felt like talking. Once they got there, he walked her to the airline counter. He tipped is hat and said: "I hope everything goes well for you, ma'am. Have a safe journey."

            She said: "Thank you for your assistance, Sergeant Isner." He left and went back to town. She was relieved that this was now all behind her. She still had her memories returning of what happened. The medallion around her neck that Falcon had given her was proof too. She slept for most of the flight. She was awake for the landing. She got her luggage in record time. She walked out of the airport and hailed a cab. The cab drove her home.

            It was good to see the house again. She paid the driver and walked to the front door with her luggage. The alarm system was still on. She had to put the security codes in and then open her door with the key. Once inside she reactivated the alarm system. Everything looked just like she left it. She left the luggage just inside the front door. She walked to the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator door, she noticed that the milk had gone bad. She would have to throw that away. Everything else was still good. She decided that she didn't want anything just yet. She poured the milk down the kitchen sink. She then went back to the living room and picked up her suitcases and carried them upstairs. She checked through everything, nothing was missing. She then got on her computer and sent a note to the car rental company with a credit card payment for an additional week. She then sent out emails to her family and friends saying that she had returned home. She then started typing her report from the interviews she had in the New England area. She was thinking that maybe she would write a book using the information that had been gotten from the witnesses and her own experiences. She started with a preliminary outline and continued from there. She took a break at 10:00 p.m. She decided that she was hungry after all. She took out a TV dinner from the freezer.

            While she was waiting, she turned on the TV and caught the local news. Things were pretty much normal, nothing major happening. Her microwave dinged and she went to get her dinner. She brought it back into the living room and started flipping through cable channels. She stayed on the Discovery channel. A report of UFO sightings was on, it caught her interest. It mentioned the recent sightings in the New England area. She was quite surprised that it was already on the air.

            After that show went off, there was a special on the Paranormal. It covered telepathy, telekinesis, and time distortions. It was fascinating! She wondered if there were any local study groups. She would check into that later. It was already 1:00 a.m. she was going to bed. She cleaned up in the kitchen, shut off the lights, and then went upstairs. She saved everything on the computer and shut it down. She went to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, combed her hair and went to bed.

 

 

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alienfriend7
Novel / Novella
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writing alienfriend7
science-fiction, action adventure, supernatural for ages 4 to adult.
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Synopsis
Have you ever seen a UFO? What would you do if you were taken away by one? See what happens to an investigative reporter when she is made 'the Next Guardian'.
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