Fallen Angels by Terence West

EXTRACT FOR
Fallen Angels

(Terence West)


CHAPTER ONE

Shades of brown and yellow painted the desolate landscape as the Great Pyramid rose magnificently from the Giza plateau. Two smaller pyramids on both sides guarded it. A large crowd had gathered in front of the massive stone paws of the sphinx.
The Sphinx, according to Egyptian mythology, was a creature of mythical proportions. It had the body of a lion with the head of a man. Towering above the crowd, the head shadowed them from the burning sun of the Egyptian desert. Excitement was thick in the air.
A tall brunette woman wearing a cotton t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts stood in front of the sphinx. She was speaking to several workers holding pry bars. She was beautiful, but not by popular standards. Her hair was long and curly with curves at the bottom rolling in toward her neck. Her eyes were a deep green which showed her intelligence, but also displayed her youthful excitement. She would turn thirty next year, but for now, she still enjoyed being in her twenties.
Trying to explain what she wanted the workers to do, she demonstrated the technique with her hands. The workers began to understand and went quickly to work. They slammed their pry bars into the edges of a massive stone door they had located in the front of the Sphinx and began to loosen it. The door was flush with the surrounding surface. It was a very large stone, close to ten feet tall and eight feet wide.
An older man emerged from one of the tents that stood near the Sphinx. He was close to six feet tall, but very overweight. He had a full gray beard matching his shoulder length hair. Adjusting his thick black-rimmed glasses, he looked down into the dig site and was mortified to see what was unfolding. Yelling at the top of his lungs, he tried to warn the men off. Knowing his pleas were going unheard, he mustered all his stamina and started to run toward the Sphinx.
The brunette woman heard his pleas, but ignored them. She had worked too hard and too long to be stopped, especially when she was this close. She barked commands at the workers, pushing them harder toward her goal.
The stout man made his way through the group. “Alex!” He pushed his way to the front. “Alex, you can’t do this.”
She turned and shot him an icy glance. “Freddie, I’m not going to stop now.” “You have to.” He pulled her away from the group. “Alex, I just got off the phone with the Egyptian Government and they’ve pulled the plug. They want us out.” Doctor Alex Robinson turned away from him. “Dammit. What happened?” Freddie placed his hand on her shoulder. “They called the Chicago Museum of Natural History and discovered you lied about your credentials.”
“I was wondering how long that story was going to hold water.” She turned to look at her workers. They had almost pried the stone loose. She smiled. “We have to finish, Freddie.”
“I can’t let you do that!” He was motioning emphatically. “The Egyptian Government is sending several military units down here to see that we are escorted out and turned over to them. They want our heads, Alex!”
“Then they’re going to have to drag me kicking and screaming out of here because I’m not going to quit. Not when I’m this close!” She turned and began to walk back to the Sphinx. “You can leave if you want, Freddie,” she smiled at him, “but I’m staying.”
Shaking his head, he followed her back to the Sphinx. The workers had pulled the stone about three inches out of the surface. Far enough so they could get a grip on it and begin to pull. Alex stood behind them watching in excitement.
Freddie took his place by her side. “What do you expect to find?”
She looked at him and shrugged. “I’m not sure. The carbon dating on this place proves that it predates the Pyramids and everything else built here. We’ve also used sonar equipment and discovered a large room hidden beneath the Sphinx. This stone obviously hides the entrance to that room. What we find there could validate all my work.”
“What work, Alex? You’ve been running around the world since you were eighteen looking for signs of extra-terrestrial involvement on our planet. What makes you think you’ll find it here in Egypt?”
“Many researchers have theorized that these incredible monuments were actually built by aliens.”
Freddie lowered his head. “I’ve funded your work since you started, but I had no idea you were going to take it this far. The Egyptian Government isn’t happy with us and they’re going to be here very soon.”
“I know, I know—”
She stopped as the mighty stone fell away from the door throwing up a huge cloud of dust. The workers scattered. As the dust began to clear, a lone figure stood in front of the doorway. It was Alex.
“Finally.” Stepping toward the door, she peered into a long, dark hallway. “Freddie,” she turned to look behind her. “Hand me a flashlight.”
Curiosity overwhelmed him. Reaching into a worn out tan bag slung over his shoulder, he removed two silver flashlights. Handing one to Alex, he flipped his on and followed her into the doorway. Looking behind them, they saw all the workers standing in a semicircle around the door.
“They think this place is cursed.”
“That’s absurd, Freddie. It’s been proven that none of the tombs have been cursed. Everyone who died has done so from ancient bacteria found inside them.”
Both looked at each other. Removing two filter masks from his bag, they quickly slipped them over their mouths. Stepping further into the hall, they found themselves standing in front of a large staircase.
“I wonder how far it goes down?”
Freddie shook his head. “What did the sonar show?” “We estimated it was about forty feet down.”
“Well, let’s find out.”
The two slowly made their way down the ancient staircase. Shining her light on the wall, Alex saw thousands of Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Freddie reached over and ran his hand across the wall. “What do they say?” Alex stepped near the wall and gave it a quick once-over. “I have no idea.” “Some researcher you are.” He let out a small nervous chuckle, trying to lighten the mood.
She smiled and began to make her way down the stairs again. Finally reaching the bottom, they found themselves confronted with another long hallway. At its end, they could see light filtering out onto the floor and walls. “Do you see that?” Alex asked anxiously. Freddie nodded. “What do you think it is?”
“I’m not sure, but I want to find out,” she replied.
The two quickened their pace as they proceeded. Stopping short, they found themselves confronted with a beam of bright light that crossed the hall in front of them. “Looks like a trap.”
Freddie examined the beam. “How ingenious. It seems rather like one of those laser alarm systems. When you break the beam, an alarm goes off.”
“But in our case, something bad happens.” Freddie nodded in agreement.
Alex stared at the beam and snapped her fingers. “I’ve got an idea!” Removing a small round compact from her back pocket she flipped it open revealing a mirror in the top. Snapping it in two, she dropped the bottom half. After pulling a piece of gum out of her mouth, she stuck it to the top of the mirror.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I saw this on an episode of ‘MacGyver’ once. I’m going to try and reflect the beam back into itself. All we have to do is decide which side the beam is emanating from.” The two examined both sides. “They look identical.”
“Well, you’ve got two choices and one of them is wrong.”
“That’s very reassuring, Freddie.” Looking at both ends, she decided to just pick one. “I’ve got a fifty-fifty chance. Here goes.” Moving to the right side, she readied herself. Counting to three, she quickly passed the mirror into the beam. Slowly moving it to the right, she attached it to the wall with the piece of gum. She let out a sigh of relief. Turning to Freddie, she motioned for him to keep moving.
The light appeared to grow brighter as they approached the end of the hall. Rounding the corner, they were confronted by a blinding white glare. Raising their hands to shield their eyes, they both pulled on their sunglasses.
“Oh my God,” Alex muttered nervously under her breath.
Moving into the room, they stared at the object in the center. “Alex...what is it?” Freddie was awestruck.
“It’s not Egyptian. That’s for sure.”
Stepping toward the object, they both tried to get a good look at it through the harsh light. It seemed to be a long cylinder with a glowing orb on top. It was standing upright thanks to four legs that extended down from its midsection. On the front of the device was an odd-shaped control panel. It was pentagon-shaped with what seemed to be a recessed handprint in the center.
Alex neared the panel to get a better look at it. Something about the handprint struck her as odd. “Look at this, Freddie.”
Freddie knelt down beside it. “It has four fingers just like a normal hand, but look at that! It has what appear to be two thumbs. One on each side.”
“Definitely not Egyptian,” Alex was transfixed on the device, “or human for that matter.” The two were startled by the sound of footsteps behind them. Twirling around, Alex found herself confronted by several armed guards. “Oh shit,” she muttered.
The guards shouted at them in a foreign language much too quickly for Freddie and Alex to understand. They motioned for the two to slowly step away from the object. Nodding to each other, Alex and Freddie raised their hands as the two guards escorted them out of the room at gunpoint.
Alex leaned over and whispered to Freddie. “We need to get out of here.” Simultaneously, they glanced over at the mirror Alex had attached to the wall. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Freddie nodded. “This will be very dangerous.” Alex agreed. “When I say so, run like hell.”
She let out a loud moan and doubled over. She leaned her left hand against the wall near the mirror and wrapped the other around her stomach. Freddie immediately moved to her side and laid a hand on her back. Turning back to the soldiers, he motioned frantically. “She’s sick! We need help!”
The soldiers looked at each other. “Sick,” they repeated in broken English. Alex looked up at Freddie. “Run!” Quickly snapping her arm across the mirror, the light beam shot across the hall. The two took off, breaking the beam. The soldiers began to take aim when several wooden spikes shot out of the wall impaling them. Alex watched in horror as they hung awkwardly from the spikes as their bodies twitched.
Alex and Freddie were almost to the top of the stairs when another soldier dashed out of the room, his machine gun blazing. Freddie screamed as a bullet ripped through his back dropping him instantly to his knees.
Alex reached the top of the stairs and flattened to the ground. “Freddie!”
Waving with his hand, he motioned for her to run. “Go! I can’t walk!” He moaned. “Save yourself!”
“No!”
“Do it!” he shouted.
She looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I’ll never forget you, Freddie!” Jumping to her feet, she ran out the doorway. Breaching the entrance, Alex was quickly blinded by the bright sun. She had inadvertently left her sunglasses inside the lower chamber. Taking several steps forward, she bumped into something.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to come with us.”
“Who...?” She trailed off in midsentence. Looking up, she was standing in front of a large man dressed in Air Force blue.
He grabbed Alex’s arm. Twisting it behind her back, he handcuffed her hands together. Guiding her toward his jeep, he forced her inside. Sitting on either side of her were two heavily armed soldiers in desert camouflage. The man in the US Air Force uniform climbed into the driver’s seat and cranked the ignition.
“Where am I being taken?” Alex asked.
“You are to be taken directly to the airport, where you will be shipped back to the States,” the driver answered. “For what reason?”
The man was silent. Putting the jeep in gear, he turned the car around and began to drive out of the desert.
***
Living in Las Vegas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Christina Anderson played with the ballpoint pen in her hand as she stared aimlessly off into space. Brushing an errant lock of blonde hair out of her blue eyes, she began to doodle in her notebook. Her bright red nail polish looked good with her black sweater, she thought.
The room had a bit of a musty smell mingled with the scents of perfume and cologne from the other students. She glanced around at the various objects dealing with history in the room. Her eyes caught on a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. She wondered how he managed not to fall out of the boat standing up like that.
“Are you with us, Christina?”
Snapping herself out of a daze, she sat up in her chair and stared at her third hour history teacher. “Yes, Mr. Matthews.”
“Then you can answer the question I just asked the class.” Nick Matthews hated teaching senior History. He remembered a time when the students brought the teachers apples instead of packing guns in their backpacks. He was a man in his fifties with gray hair and a neatly trimmed beard. The gray suit he wore was one he had owned for years, but he liked it.
“What was the question again?” Christina asked sheepishly.
“Can you tell me what the Magna Carta is?” He stared at her impatiently. “From the chapter you read last night in your history book!” He stepped closer to her.
She could feel all the eyes of her fellow students burning into her. Christina’s mind was frantic as she searched for the answer. She hadn’t read the assigned chapter last night, instead, opting to go hang out with a couple friends. She decided to make a guess. “The Magna Carta was—” She was cut off by the bell.
“Well, well, Ms. Anderson. Saved by the bell.” The kids started to gather up their notebooks and get up to go to the next class. “Before you leave, don’t forget to read chapters five and six tonight and finish the questions at the end of each chapter.”
Christina hurriedly began to pull her papers together and throw them into her bag. She rushed out of the room so as to avoid facing the wrath of Mr. Matthews. “Hold on there, Tina!” She spun around to see her friend Libby standing behind her.
“Oh, hey, Libby.” She was relieved to discover it wasn’t Mr. Matthews following her.
“Man, Matthews came down kind of hard on you in there.” Libby was the same age as Christina. She was close to the same height, but had short brown hair and brown eyes. “He is such an asshole sometimes.”
“Yeah, really.”
The two girls started to walk down the crowded hall toward their lockers. Libby was about a step behind Christina. She had stopped to admire one of the many boys she liked in school. Catching up quickly, she grabbed Christina’s arm. “How about we skip fourth period and get an early lunch?”
“I don’t know. This will be the third time we’ve missed English this week.” She fumbled with the combination on her locker. Opening the door, she lifted her backpack off and placed it in her locker. “All right. Let’s go.” Both girls checked themselves in her mirror, and then slammed the locker door closed.
The school was open campus, so it was generally known that if a student wanted to leave early or show up late, they could. It was a policy the school board was desperately trying to change. The two girls strode through the metal detectors in the lobby and out the front doors.
“Come on, we’ll take my car,” Libby began to walk in the direction of the parking lot.
“What are we gonna do if we get caught, Libby?” Christina had always been the good girl in school. She always tried to get good grades and had never missed a day of class until her senior year.
“We’ll be fine. We’ll just tell them we have senior priv this hour.” Libby, on the other hand, was known as many things in school, none of them good. “That always works for me.”
Arriving at the parking lot next to the school, they weaved their way through until they found Libby’s car. Both girls climbed into Libby’s red convertible Volkswagen Bug.
Immediately rolling down her window, Libby lit a cigarette she’d pulled out of her purse. “Want one, Tina?”
“No thanks.” She watched Libby take a long drag off the cigarette and slowly exhale the smoke. “How can you stand the smell of those things?”
“You get used to it.” Putting the car into gear, she pulled out of the parking lot. “Where do you want to go for lunch?”
“Wherever. You’re driving, and I’m not really that hungry.” Christina rolled down her window to try and get some fresh air. “Just somewhere we can talk.”
“I know just the place. Trust me.” With that, Libby piloted the car out into traffic and headed downtown.
The two didn’t talk on the way. Libby had turned up her car stereo and was dancing and singing along to her favorite song on the radio. Christina stared out the window at the many casinos they passed. The signs on the casinos advertised everything from a ninety-nine cent buffet to topless waitresses, obviously geared to pull in tourists.
Christina had only lived in Las Vegas for about a year now. She’d moved out here when her dad had taken an important government job. Prior to this, her father was a captain in the Air Force. She had never really asked many questions about his new job, mostly because she really didn’t care and didn’t want to be living in what she referred to as ‘the sin capitol of the world’. She missed living in Colorado. It had been a culture shock moving here. She was used to living in the mountains with all the trees and snow. Every time she looked at the Nevada landscape, she cringed. She hated the sagebrush and the one hundred and fifteen degree temperatures in the summer. Oh, well. In a couple months, I’ll be eighteen and graduated from school and I’ll finally leave this god-forsaken state.
“We’re here.” Libby pulled the car up to the curb and shut off the engine. Both girls got out of the car and into the dry heat of the Nevada summer. “Louigi’s Pizza Palace.”
“Louigi’s Pizza Palace? Why here?”
“I was in the mood for a slice of pie, and there’s a really cute waiter that works here.”
Christina sighed and followed Libby into the restaurant. It was decorated in what seemed to be a mobster motif of the late twenties. All the tables had red and white checkered tablecloths, and the room was dimly lit with green light fixtures that hung from the ceiling. Along the left wall were several booths, and at the very back, she could see the white tiled kitchen through the service window. Several ceiling fans whirred nosily above their heads. In the far corner, a group of men sat at a table laughing and drinking beer. They all turned to look at the two teenage girls as they entered.
“Come on, let’s get a booth.” Libby grabbed Christina’s hand and led her over to the first empty booth. Sitting down, Libby immediately grabbed a menu and began to look it over. “I’m in the mood for pepperoni, how about you?”
Christina nodded in response. She was feeling a little guilty for skipping class, and a little uncomfortable in this place. “Can I tell you something, Libby?”
Libby looked up from her menu just long enough to answer. “Yeah, sure. What is it, girlfriend?”
Christina began to fidget a little bit. She hadn’t wanted to say anything to anyone, but at the same time, she wanted to make sure she wasn’t losing her mind. She started off slowly. “I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“Well that’s not too uncommon,” Libby answered from behind her menu.
Grabbing the menu away from Libby, she set it on the table next to her. “I haven’t been sleeping well ever since I moved to this state.” She hesitated, “I’ve been having the worst nightmares.”
“Probably just the shock from moving here. I’ve heard of people dying when they move to a different state because it’s so different.” Libby’s voice was heavy with sarcasm.
“Get serious, Libby.” Christina was now regretting bringing up the subject. “I keep having the same recurring nightmare.”
Libby’s interest had now been piqued. “Tell me about it.”
Just thinking about the nightmare brought vivid flashes of it into her mind. Christina cringed. “Okay.” She composed herself. “They all start the same way. I’m lying in bed, then suddenly—”
“A gorgeous man walks into your room, right?” Libby began to snicker to herself. “Actually, that sounds more like one of my dreams.”
Christina just glared at her.
“I’m sorry.” Libby declared, unnerved by Christina’s stare.
“Anyway,” Christina paused momentarily to see if she would be interrupted again, “I’m lying in bed, then suddenly, I see a bright flash of blue light outside my bedroom window.” The small hairs on the back of her neck began to stand up. “Then I’m somewhere else.”
“Where?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen this place before. The walls seem to be made of some kind of metal, because they’re really shiny.”
“Do you remember anything else about the dream?”
Christina nodded. “There’s something else.” She felt her throat get tight. “It feels like a hospital because I always end up lying on some kind of table.” Libby moved her hand onto Christina’s. She could see that Christina was visibly shaking now.
“You don’t have to go on,” Libby comforted her.
“The worst part is always at the very end. I’m lying naked on the table and I can’t move. I can hear things moving around me, but I can’t turn my head to look. Even if I could, it’s very dark in the room and I can hardly see anything.” Christina bit her lip to try not to cry. “Then I feel something touch my leg and slowly move its way up my body.” Libby’s mouth was now agape as she listened to emotion fill Christina’s voice. “I don’t know what’s touching me, but I don’t like it. As it nears my chest, a very bright white light begins to shine in my eyes.” Christina stopped. It was the last part she always hated the worst. “I start to feel like I’m drifting off to sleep. My eyelids get heavy and I have a hard time keeping them open. But just before they close, I see this...this thing.” The tears began to roll down her face smearing her mascara into long, black streaks on her cheeks. “It’s not human, Libby. Just for a moment, I see it’s large head and it’s big black eyes!”
Libby was shocked at how traumatic this dream was to Christina. She searched for an explanation to ease her friend’s pain. “Maybe it is a person. You’re just seeing them through the glare of the bright light making their face shadowed, or—”
Christina cut her off. “No, that’s not it. Don’t you think I thought of that? I know what I see in my dreams sounds crazy, but that’s what happens!” She was crying heavily now. Lifting her hands up, she placed them over her face. Both girls sat there silently for what seemed an eternity until the waitress interrupted them.
“Is everything all right here, girls?”
Libby looked up. “Yeah. We’re just fine, and just leaving.” Standing, she reached down and put her hand on Christina’s shoulder. “Come on, girl. I’m gonna take you home.”
Christina looked at Libby and nodded.
The car ride home seemed to take forever. Libby had turned off the radio and the only sound they could hear was the tires riding on the pavement. They arrived at Christina’s house about ten minutes later. Christina’s house was a tall light blue three- story house. The yard was always freshly cut and the hedges neatly trimmed. It was in a nice neighborhood, but all the houses tended to look alike. All the yards had tall trees along the front and back of the property, but the browns of the Nevada desert were visible looming behind them. Her house was on the very edge of a new subdivision.
Libby was the first to get out of the car. She walked around to the passenger side and reached in to help Christina out. Slowly, she guided her up the stairs to her front door. Christina dug her hand into the right pocket of her jeans and fished out a set of keys. Finding the front door key, she tried to push it into the lock, but her hands were still shaking badly. Libby took the keys from her and easily unlocked the door.
Stepping inside, Libby closed the door behind them. She had been in Christina’s house many times, but every time she saw it, she felt like a poor girl walking into a palace. Christina’s house was lavishly decorated. The floors were all a deep brown shade of hardwood. The furniture was cream colored and perfectly complimented the white interior walls of the house. Pictures of all shapes and sizes hung on the walls showing the many members of Christina’s family at various stages of their lives. The front wall of the house was a gigantic picture window with light white curtains that filtered the sunlight as it flowed in, giving the living room a kind of ethereal feel.
Taking a right into the hallway, Libby moved Christina past the master bedroom and up the stairs to the second floor where her bedroom was located. This floor was very similar to the first, except the wood floors had been replaced by a light colored carpet. Libby swiftly guided Christina into her bedroom.
Entering her room, she quickly sat Christina down on the edge of her king-size bed. “Stay here for a sec, okay, Tina? I’ll go get you a cold rag.”
She walked swiftly through the room, past hordes of stuffed animals that occupied every corner, and into Christina’s bathroom. Opening one of the cupboards on the left, she retrieved a small washcloth and quickly wetted it down with cold water in the sink. Walking back, she found Christina now lying down on her bed.
Handing the cold rag to Christina, she sat down on the edge of the bed next to her, “You okay, Tina?”
Christina shook her head. “I’m tired of the dreams, Libby. I don’t think I can handle them anymore.” She placed the cold rag over her eyes and lay back on the bed.
“Yes you can. You’re stronger than that.”
Christina shook her head in a mocking gesture. “Yeah right.”
Libby slid back onto the bed next to Christina. Looking up at the ceiling, she noticed for the first time a poster of Brad Pitt with his shirt off. “What do we have here?”
“What?” Christina asked innocently.
“The poster on your ceiling. Isn’t that Brad Pitt? No wonder you’re having bad dreams.” Libby began to giggle.
For the first time all day, Christina tuned to Libby and smiled. “Some people have no taste I guess.” The two girls laughed. It felt good.
“Sorry to run out on you, but I’ve got to get back to school. If I miss anthropology one more time, Mrs. Jenkins is going to fail me.” Libby sat up and turned around to face Christina. “Are you gonna be all right?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna be okay.”
Libby stood and headed for the door. She stopped just outside of it and turned around. “I’ll call you tonight to check on you, okay?”
“Okay.” Christina smiled at Libby.
Libby walked out the door, only to peek back in. “And by the way, I’ll bring over my poster of Ricky Martin. You’ll definitely have better dreams with him watching over you at night.” She snickered and left.
Christina lay on the bed for a long time, just allowing her mind to drift off into space. She tried not to think of anything as she held the cool damp rag to her face. The images from her dreams kept flashing in her mind no matter how hard she tried to keep them out. I have to do something to keep myself occupied.
Looking around her room, she decided to turn on her stereo and listen to some music. It always had a way of calming her down. Reaching over to her nightstand, she grabbed the remote and hit the power button, then the play button. The music rolled out of the speakers filling her mind with nothing but images of the band performing. Lying back on the bed, she slowly began to drift off to sleep. She knew she couldn’t face the dreams again, but she was so tired...
***
Christina’s mind was screaming. Her lungs and body felt as if they were on fire, but she forced herself to keep running. The crunch of the hard dirt under her feet was being drowned out by the sound of her heart pounding in her ears. The warm summer wind blew across her body giving her some relief from the hot sweat running down her face and chest. Her long blond hair was waving in the wind as she ran and her deep blue eyes were filled with terror. The night sky was empty and silent. The moon stared down unforgivingly, as if it knew what was about to happen.
Running hard across the desert, she spotted a highway in the distance. I need to get out of here. She couldn’t remember how she had gotten here, but she knew she hadn’t walked. Christina wore only a nightgown and she wasn’t prone to sleepwalking. She didn’t know why she was running, only that she was very scared, more scared than she had ever been in her life.
Just before she reached the highway, her bare foot caught on a rock knocking her sprawling to the ground. Her body hit hard against the pavement. She started to lift herself up, when she felt a trickle of blood drip down from her nose. She looked at her bare foot that had caught the rock. It had a jagged cut all the way across the top and was bleeding heavily. Wiping the blood away from her nose with her sleeve, she slowly turned to look behind her.
The landscape was barren except for a few jagged rocks and several patches of sagebrush. A few mounds of dirt filled her vision. She couldn’t help remembering how much these looked like the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert she had seen in her schoolbooks. Then she saw it. She felt as if all her nightmares had come to life. Slowly rising above one of the mounds, she saw an ominous glowing blue light.
Lifting herself off the ground, she forced herself to start running again. The cut on her foot was getting worse and the pavement was chewing up the soles of her feet. She turned to look behind her just in time to see the ball of light streak past her in the sky. Instantly stopping, she gasped as the ball of light hovered silently in front of her.
The light looked tiny when she had first seen it. Now with it not more than ten feet in front of her, she could see how enormous it actually was. It was slowly changing from a light blue to a crisp white, then back again. She could see it slowly rotate from left to right.
Her heart felt as if it was going to jump out of her chest, it was beating so hard. Trying to take in a deep breath, she lifted her arms in front of her in an effort to guard herself from the ball of light. Although no sound was coming from the object, Christina could feel an intense heat emanating from it.
Her eyes were trying to adjust to the blue light in front of her when it slowly began to brighten. A wave of fear washed over her. Her mind was telling her to run, but her body wasn’t responding. Quickly, she began to feel tired. Her muscles ached from the run through the desert. Her eyelids became heavy and finally shut. She felt her pulse slowing and it was becoming harder and harder to take a deep breath. It became too much. She gave up fighting. Her body crumpled to the ground, her head crashing onto the highway.
Christina’s mind was drifting on the edge of consciousness when she began to hear a voice inside her head. “You will not be harmed,” it asserted calmly. The voice sounded as if three distinctly different voices had said the same thing in unison, but she could tell this was only one voice. Calmness washed over her body as she finally succumbed to sleep. “You will not be harmed.”

Fallen Angels by Terence West

EXTRACT FOR
Fallen Angels

(Terence West)


CHAPTER ONE

Shades of brown and yellow painted the desolate landscape as the Great Pyramid rose magnificently from the Giza plateau. Two smaller pyramids on both sides guarded it. A large crowd had gathered in front of the massive stone paws of the sphinx.
The Sphinx, according to Egyptian mythology, was a creature of mythical proportions. It had the body of a lion with the head of a man. Towering above the crowd, the head shadowed them from the burning sun of the Egyptian desert. Excitement was thick in the air.
A tall brunette woman wearing a cotton t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts stood in front of the sphinx. She was speaking to several workers holding pry bars. She was beautiful, but not by popular standards. Her hair was long and curly with curves at the bottom rolling in toward her neck. Her eyes were a deep green which showed her intelligence, but also displayed her youthful excitement. She would turn thirty next year, but for now, she still enjoyed being in her twenties.
Trying to explain what she wanted the workers to do, she demonstrated the technique with her hands. The workers began to understand and went quickly to work. They slammed their pry bars into the edges of a massive stone door they had located in the front of the Sphinx and began to loosen it. The door was flush with the surrounding surface. It was a very large stone, close to ten feet tall and eight feet wide.
An older man emerged from one of the tents that stood near the Sphinx. He was close to six feet tall, but very overweight. He had a full gray beard matching his shoulder length hair. Adjusting his thick black-rimmed glasses, he looked down into the dig site and was mortified to see what was unfolding. Yelling at the top of his lungs, he tried to warn the men off. Knowing his pleas were going unheard, he mustered all his stamina and started to run toward the Sphinx.
The brunette woman heard his pleas, but ignored them. She had worked too hard and too long to be stopped, especially when she was this close. She barked commands at the workers, pushing them harder toward her goal.
The stout man made his way through the group. “Alex!” He pushed his way to the front. “Alex, you can’t do this.”
She turned and shot him an icy glance. “Freddie, I’m not going to stop now.” “You have to.” He pulled her away from the group. “Alex, I just got off the phone with the Egyptian Government and they’ve pulled the plug. They want us out.” Doctor Alex Robinson turned away from him. “Dammit. What happened?” Freddie placed his hand on her shoulder. “They called the Chicago Museum of Natural History and discovered you lied about your credentials.”
“I was wondering how long that story was going to hold water.” She turned to look at her workers. They had almost pried the stone loose. She smiled. “We have to finish, Freddie.”
“I can’t let you do that!” He was motioning emphatically. “The Egyptian Government is sending several military units down here to see that we are escorted out and turned over to them. They want our heads, Alex!”
“Then they’re going to have to drag me kicking and screaming out of here because I’m not going to quit. Not when I’m this close!” She turned and began to walk back to the Sphinx. “You can leave if you want, Freddie,” she smiled at him, “but I’m staying.”
Shaking his head, he followed her back to the Sphinx. The workers had pulled the stone about three inches out of the surface. Far enough so they could get a grip on it and begin to pull. Alex stood behind them watching in excitement.
Freddie took his place by her side. “What do you expect to find?”
She looked at him and shrugged. “I’m not sure. The carbon dating on this place proves that it predates the Pyramids and everything else built here. We’ve also used sonar equipment and discovered a large room hidden beneath the Sphinx. This stone obviously hides the entrance to that room. What we find there could validate all my work.”
“What work, Alex? You’ve been running around the world since you were eighteen looking for signs of extra-terrestrial involvement on our planet. What makes you think you’ll find it here in Egypt?”
“Many researchers have theorized that these incredible monuments were actually built by aliens.”
Freddie lowered his head. “I’ve funded your work since you started, but I had no idea you were going to take it this far. The Egyptian Government isn’t happy with us and they’re going to be here very soon.”
“I know, I know—”
She stopped as the mighty stone fell away from the door throwing up a huge cloud of dust. The workers scattered. As the dust began to clear, a lone figure stood in front of the doorway. It was Alex.
“Finally.” Stepping toward the door, she peered into a long, dark hallway. “Freddie,” she turned to look behind her. “Hand me a flashlight.”
Curiosity overwhelmed him. Reaching into a worn out tan bag slung over his shoulder, he removed two silver flashlights. Handing one to Alex, he flipped his on and followed her into the doorway. Looking behind them, they saw all the workers standing in a semicircle around the door.
“They think this place is cursed.”
“That’s absurd, Freddie. It’s been proven that none of the tombs have been cursed. Everyone who died has done so from ancient bacteria found inside them.”
Both looked at each other. Removing two filter masks from his bag, they quickly slipped them over their mouths. Stepping further into the hall, they found themselves standing in front of a large staircase.
“I wonder how far it goes down?”
Freddie shook his head. “What did the sonar show?” “We estimated it was about forty feet down.”
“Well, let’s find out.”
The two slowly made their way down the ancient staircase. Shining her light on the wall, Alex saw thousands of Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Freddie reached over and ran his hand across the wall. “What do they say?” Alex stepped near the wall and gave it a quick once-over. “I have no idea.” “Some researcher you are.” He let out a small nervous chuckle, trying to lighten the mood.
She smiled and began to make her way down the stairs again. Finally reaching the bottom, they found themselves confronted with another long hallway. At its end, they could see light filtering out onto the floor and walls. “Do you see that?” Alex asked anxiously. Freddie nodded. “What do you think it is?”
“I’m not sure, but I want to find out,” she replied.
The two quickened their pace as they proceeded. Stopping short, they found themselves confronted with a beam of bright light that crossed the hall in front of them. “Looks like a trap.”
Freddie examined the beam. “How ingenious. It seems rather like one of those laser alarm systems. When you break the beam, an alarm goes off.”
“But in our case, something bad happens.” Freddie nodded in agreement.
Alex stared at the beam and snapped her fingers. “I’ve got an idea!” Removing a small round compact from her back pocket she flipped it open revealing a mirror in the top. Snapping it in two, she dropped the bottom half. After pulling a piece of gum out of her mouth, she stuck it to the top of the mirror.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I saw this on an episode of ‘MacGyver’ once. I’m going to try and reflect the beam back into itself. All we have to do is decide which side the beam is emanating from.” The two examined both sides. “They look identical.”
“Well, you’ve got two choices and one of them is wrong.”
“That’s very reassuring, Freddie.” Looking at both ends, she decided to just pick one. “I’ve got a fifty-fifty chance. Here goes.” Moving to the right side, she readied herself. Counting to three, she quickly passed the mirror into the beam. Slowly moving it to the right, she attached it to the wall with the piece of gum. She let out a sigh of relief. Turning to Freddie, she motioned for him to keep moving.
The light appeared to grow brighter as they approached the end of the hall. Rounding the corner, they were confronted by a blinding white glare. Raising their hands to shield their eyes, they both pulled on their sunglasses.
“Oh my God,” Alex muttered nervously under her breath.
Moving into the room, they stared at the object in the center. “Alex...what is it?” Freddie was awestruck.
“It’s not Egyptian. That’s for sure.”
Stepping toward the object, they both tried to get a good look at it through the harsh light. It seemed to be a long cylinder with a glowing orb on top. It was standing upright thanks to four legs that extended down from its midsection. On the front of the device was an odd-shaped control panel. It was pentagon-shaped with what seemed to be a recessed handprint in the center.
Alex neared the panel to get a better look at it. Something about the handprint struck her as odd. “Look at this, Freddie.”
Freddie knelt down beside it. “It has four fingers just like a normal hand, but look at that! It has what appear to be two thumbs. One on each side.”
“Definitely not Egyptian,” Alex was transfixed on the device, “or human for that matter.” The two were startled by the sound of footsteps behind them. Twirling around, Alex found herself confronted by several armed guards. “Oh shit,” she muttered.
The guards shouted at them in a foreign language much too quickly for Freddie and Alex to understand. They motioned for the two to slowly step away from the object. Nodding to each other, Alex and Freddie raised their hands as the two guards escorted them out of the room at gunpoint.
Alex leaned over and whispered to Freddie. “We need to get out of here.” Simultaneously, they glanced over at the mirror Alex had attached to the wall. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Freddie nodded. “This will be very dangerous.” Alex agreed. “When I say so, run like hell.”
She let out a loud moan and doubled over. She leaned her left hand against the wall near the mirror and wrapped the other around her stomach. Freddie immediately moved to her side and laid a hand on her back. Turning back to the soldiers, he motioned frantically. “She’s sick! We need help!”
The soldiers looked at each other. “Sick,” they repeated in broken English. Alex looked up at Freddie. “Run!” Quickly snapping her arm across the mirror, the light beam shot across the hall. The two took off, breaking the beam. The soldiers began to take aim when several wooden spikes shot out of the wall impaling them. Alex watched in horror as they hung awkwardly from the spikes as their bodies twitched.
Alex and Freddie were almost to the top of the stairs when another soldier dashed out of the room, his machine gun blazing. Freddie screamed as a bullet ripped through his back dropping him instantly to his knees.
Alex reached the top of the stairs and flattened to the ground. “Freddie!”
Waving with his hand, he motioned for her to run. “Go! I can’t walk!” He moaned. “Save yourself!”
“No!”
“Do it!” he shouted.
She looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I’ll never forget you, Freddie!” Jumping to her feet, she ran out the doorway. Breaching the entrance, Alex was quickly blinded by the bright sun. She had inadvertently left her sunglasses inside the lower chamber. Taking several steps forward, she bumped into something.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to come with us.”
“Who...?” She trailed off in midsentence. Looking up, she was standing in front of a large man dressed in Air Force blue.
He grabbed Alex’s arm. Twisting it behind her back, he handcuffed her hands together. Guiding her toward his jeep, he forced her inside. Sitting on either side of her were two heavily armed soldiers in desert camouflage. The man in the US Air Force uniform climbed into the driver’s seat and cranked the ignition.
“Where am I being taken?” Alex asked.
“You are to be taken directly to the airport, where you will be shipped back to the States,” the driver answered. “For what reason?”
The man was silent. Putting the jeep in gear, he turned the car around and began to drive out of the desert.
***
Living in Las Vegas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Christina Anderson played with the ballpoint pen in her hand as she stared aimlessly off into space. Brushing an errant lock of blonde hair out of her blue eyes, she began to doodle in her notebook. Her bright red nail polish looked good with her black sweater, she thought.
The room had a bit of a musty smell mingled with the scents of perfume and cologne from the other students. She glanced around at the various objects dealing with history in the room. Her eyes caught on a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. She wondered how he managed not to fall out of the boat standing up like that.
“Are you with us, Christina?”
Snapping herself out of a daze, she sat up in her chair and stared at her third hour history teacher. “Yes, Mr. Matthews.”
“Then you can answer the question I just asked the class.” Nick Matthews hated teaching senior History. He remembered a time when the students brought the teachers apples instead of packing guns in their backpacks. He was a man in his fifties with gray hair and a neatly trimmed beard. The gray suit he wore was one he had owned for years, but he liked it.
“What was the question again?” Christina asked sheepishly.
“Can you tell me what the Magna Carta is?” He stared at her impatiently. “From the chapter you read last night in your history book!” He stepped closer to her.
She could feel all the eyes of her fellow students burning into her. Christina’s mind was frantic as she searched for the answer. She hadn’t read the assigned chapter last night, instead, opting to go hang out with a couple friends. She decided to make a guess. “The Magna Carta was—” She was cut off by the bell.
“Well, well, Ms. Anderson. Saved by the bell.” The kids started to gather up their notebooks and get up to go to the next class. “Before you leave, don’t forget to read chapters five and six tonight and finish the questions at the end of each chapter.”
Christina hurriedly began to pull her papers together and throw them into her bag. She rushed out of the room so as to avoid facing the wrath of Mr. Matthews. “Hold on there, Tina!” She spun around to see her friend Libby standing behind her.
“Oh, hey, Libby.” She was relieved to discover it wasn’t Mr. Matthews following her.
“Man, Matthews came down kind of hard on you in there.” Libby was the same age as Christina. She was close to the same height, but had short brown hair and brown eyes. “He is such an asshole sometimes.”
“Yeah, really.”
The two girls started to walk down the crowded hall toward their lockers. Libby was about a step behind Christina. She had stopped to admire one of the many boys she liked in school. Catching up quickly, she grabbed Christina’s arm. “How about we skip fourth period and get an early lunch?”
“I don’t know. This will be the third time we’ve missed English this week.” She fumbled with the combination on her locker. Opening the door, she lifted her backpack off and placed it in her locker. “All right. Let’s go.” Both girls checked themselves in her mirror, and then slammed the locker door closed.
The school was open campus, so it was generally known that if a student wanted to leave early or show up late, they could. It was a policy the school board was desperately trying to change. The two girls strode through the metal detectors in the lobby and out the front doors.
“Come on, we’ll take my car,” Libby began to walk in the direction of the parking lot.
“What are we gonna do if we get caught, Libby?” Christina had always been the good girl in school. She always tried to get good grades and had never missed a day of class until her senior year.
“We’ll be fine. We’ll just tell them we have senior priv this hour.” Libby, on the other hand, was known as many things in school, none of them good. “That always works for me.”
Arriving at the parking lot next to the school, they weaved their way through until they found Libby’s car. Both girls climbed into Libby’s red convertible Volkswagen Bug.
Immediately rolling down her window, Libby lit a cigarette she’d pulled out of her purse. “Want one, Tina?”
“No thanks.” She watched Libby take a long drag off the cigarette and slowly exhale the smoke. “How can you stand the smell of those things?”
“You get used to it.” Putting the car into gear, she pulled out of the parking lot. “Where do you want to go for lunch?”
“Wherever. You’re driving, and I’m not really that hungry.” Christina rolled down her window to try and get some fresh air. “Just somewhere we can talk.”
“I know just the place. Trust me.” With that, Libby piloted the car out into traffic and headed downtown.
The two didn’t talk on the way. Libby had turned up her car stereo and was dancing and singing along to her favorite song on the radio. Christina stared out the window at the many casinos they passed. The signs on the casinos advertised everything from a ninety-nine cent buffet to topless waitresses, obviously geared to pull in tourists.
Christina had only lived in Las Vegas for about a year now. She’d moved out here when her dad had taken an important government job. Prior to this, her father was a captain in the Air Force. She had never really asked many questions about his new job, mostly because she really didn’t care and didn’t want to be living in what she referred to as ‘the sin capitol of the world’. She missed living in Colorado. It had been a culture shock moving here. She was used to living in the mountains with all the trees and snow. Every time she looked at the Nevada landscape, she cringed. She hated the sagebrush and the one hundred and fifteen degree temperatures in the summer. Oh, well. In a couple months, I’ll be eighteen and graduated from school and I’ll finally leave this god-forsaken state.
“We’re here.” Libby pulled the car up to the curb and shut off the engine. Both girls got out of the car and into the dry heat of the Nevada summer. “Louigi’s Pizza Palace.”
“Louigi’s Pizza Palace? Why here?”
“I was in the mood for a slice of pie, and there’s a really cute waiter that works here.”
Christina sighed and followed Libby into the restaurant. It was decorated in what seemed to be a mobster motif of the late twenties. All the tables had red and white checkered tablecloths, and the room was dimly lit with green light fixtures that hung from the ceiling. Along the left wall were several booths, and at the very back, she could see the white tiled kitchen through the service window. Several ceiling fans whirred nosily above their heads. In the far corner, a group of men sat at a table laughing and drinking beer. They all turned to look at the two teenage girls as they entered.
“Come on, let’s get a booth.” Libby grabbed Christina’s hand and led her over to the first empty booth. Sitting down, Libby immediately grabbed a menu and began to look it over. “I’m in the mood for pepperoni, how about you?”
Christina nodded in response. She was feeling a little guilty for skipping class, and a little uncomfortable in this place. “Can I tell you something, Libby?”
Libby looked up from her menu just long enough to answer. “Yeah, sure. What is it, girlfriend?”
Christina began to fidget a little bit. She hadn’t wanted to say anything to anyone, but at the same time, she wanted to make sure she wasn’t losing her mind. She started off slowly. “I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“Well that’s not too uncommon,” Libby answered from behind her menu.
Grabbing the menu away from Libby, she set it on the table next to her. “I haven’t been sleeping well ever since I moved to this state.” She hesitated, “I’ve been having the worst nightmares.”
“Probably just the shock from moving here. I’ve heard of people dying when they move to a different state because it’s so different.” Libby’s voice was heavy with sarcasm.
“Get serious, Libby.” Christina was now regretting bringing up the subject. “I keep having the same recurring nightmare.”
Libby’s interest had now been piqued. “Tell me about it.”
Just thinking about the nightmare brought vivid flashes of it into her mind. Christina cringed. “Okay.” She composed herself. “They all start the same way. I’m lying in bed, then suddenly—”
“A gorgeous man walks into your room, right?” Libby began to snicker to herself. “Actually, that sounds more like one of my dreams.”
Christina just glared at her.
“I’m sorry.” Libby declared, unnerved by Christina’s stare.
“Anyway,” Christina paused momentarily to see if she would be interrupted again, “I’m lying in bed, then suddenly, I see a bright flash of blue light outside my bedroom window.” The small hairs on the back of her neck began to stand up. “Then I’m somewhere else.”
“Where?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen this place before. The walls seem to be made of some kind of metal, because they’re really shiny.”
“Do you remember anything else about the dream?”
Christina nodded. “There’s something else.” She felt her throat get tight. “It feels like a hospital because I always end up lying on some kind of table.” Libby moved her hand onto Christina’s. She could see that Christina was visibly shaking now.
“You don’t have to go on,” Libby comforted her.
“The worst part is always at the very end. I’m lying naked on the table and I can’t move. I can hear things moving around me, but I can’t turn my head to look. Even if I could, it’s very dark in the room and I can hardly see anything.” Christina bit her lip to try not to cry. “Then I feel something touch my leg and slowly move its way up my body.” Libby’s mouth was now agape as she listened to emotion fill Christina’s voice. “I don’t know what’s touching me, but I don’t like it. As it nears my chest, a very bright white light begins to shine in my eyes.” Christina stopped. It was the last part she always hated the worst. “I start to feel like I’m drifting off to sleep. My eyelids get heavy and I have a hard time keeping them open. But just before they close, I see this...this thing.” The tears began to roll down her face smearing her mascara into long, black streaks on her cheeks. “It’s not human, Libby. Just for a moment, I see it’s large head and it’s big black eyes!”
Libby was shocked at how traumatic this dream was to Christina. She searched for an explanation to ease her friend’s pain. “Maybe it is a person. You’re just seeing them through the glare of the bright light making their face shadowed, or—”
Christina cut her off. “No, that’s not it. Don’t you think I thought of that? I know what I see in my dreams sounds crazy, but that’s what happens!” She was crying heavily now. Lifting her hands up, she placed them over her face. Both girls sat there silently for what seemed an eternity until the waitress interrupted them.
“Is everything all right here, girls?”
Libby looked up. “Yeah. We’re just fine, and just leaving.” Standing, she reached down and put her hand on Christina’s shoulder. “Come on, girl. I’m gonna take you home.”
Christina looked at Libby and nodded.
The car ride home seemed to take forever. Libby had turned off the radio and the only sound they could hear was the tires riding on the pavement. They arrived at Christina’s house about ten minutes later. Christina’s house was a tall light blue three- story house. The yard was always freshly cut and the hedges neatly trimmed. It was in a nice neighborhood, but all the houses tended to look alike. All the yards had tall trees along the front and back of the property, but the browns of the Nevada desert were visible looming behind them. Her house was on the very edge of a new subdivision.
Libby was the first to get out of the car. She walked around to the passenger side and reached in to help Christina out. Slowly, she guided her up the stairs to her front door. Christina dug her hand into the right pocket of her jeans and fished out a set of keys. Finding the front door key, she tried to push it into the lock, but her hands were still shaking badly. Libby took the keys from her and easily unlocked the door.
Stepping inside, Libby closed the door behind them. She had been in Christina’s house many times, but every time she saw it, she felt like a poor girl walking into a palace. Christina’s house was lavishly decorated. The floors were all a deep brown shade of hardwood. The furniture was cream colored and perfectly complimented the white interior walls of the house. Pictures of all shapes and sizes hung on the walls showing the many members of Christina’s family at various stages of their lives. The front wall of the house was a gigantic picture window with light white curtains that filtered the sunlight as it flowed in, giving the living room a kind of ethereal feel.
Taking a right into the hallway, Libby moved Christina past the master bedroom and up the stairs to the second floor where her bedroom was located. This floor was very similar to the first, except the wood floors had been replaced by a light colored carpet. Libby swiftly guided Christina into her bedroom.
Entering her room, she quickly sat Christina down on the edge of her king-size bed. “Stay here for a sec, okay, Tina? I’ll go get you a cold rag.”
She walked swiftly through the room, past hordes of stuffed animals that occupied every corner, and into Christina’s bathroom. Opening one of the cupboards on the left, she retrieved a small washcloth and quickly wetted it down with cold water in the sink. Walking back, she found Christina now lying down on her bed.
Handing the cold rag to Christina, she sat down on the edge of the bed next to her, “You okay, Tina?”
Christina shook her head. “I’m tired of the dreams, Libby. I don’t think I can handle them anymore.” She placed the cold rag over her eyes and lay back on the bed.
“Yes you can. You’re stronger than that.”
Christina shook her head in a mocking gesture. “Yeah right.”
Libby slid back onto the bed next to Christina. Looking up at the ceiling, she noticed for the first time a poster of Brad Pitt with his shirt off. “What do we have here?”
“What?” Christina asked innocently.
“The poster on your ceiling. Isn’t that Brad Pitt? No wonder you’re having bad dreams.” Libby began to giggle.
For the first time all day, Christina tuned to Libby and smiled. “Some people have no taste I guess.” The two girls laughed. It felt good.
“Sorry to run out on you, but I’ve got to get back to school. If I miss anthropology one more time, Mrs. Jenkins is going to fail me.” Libby sat up and turned around to face Christina. “Are you gonna be all right?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna be okay.”
Libby stood and headed for the door. She stopped just outside of it and turned around. “I’ll call you tonight to check on you, okay?”
“Okay.” Christina smiled at Libby.
Libby walked out the door, only to peek back in. “And by the way, I’ll bring over my poster of Ricky Martin. You’ll definitely have better dreams with him watching over you at night.” She snickered and left.
Christina lay on the bed for a long time, just allowing her mind to drift off into space. She tried not to think of anything as she held the cool damp rag to her face. The images from her dreams kept flashing in her mind no matter how hard she tried to keep them out. I have to do something to keep myself occupied.
Looking around her room, she decided to turn on her stereo and listen to some music. It always had a way of calming her down. Reaching over to her nightstand, she grabbed the remote and hit the power button, then the play button. The music rolled out of the speakers filling her mind with nothing but images of the band performing. Lying back on the bed, she slowly began to drift off to sleep. She knew she couldn’t face the dreams again, but she was so tired...
***
Christina’s mind was screaming. Her lungs and body felt as if they were on fire, but she forced herself to keep running. The crunch of the hard dirt under her feet was being drowned out by the sound of her heart pounding in her ears. The warm summer wind blew across her body giving her some relief from the hot sweat running down her face and chest. Her long blond hair was waving in the wind as she ran and her deep blue eyes were filled with terror. The night sky was empty and silent. The moon stared down unforgivingly, as if it knew what was about to happen.
Running hard across the desert, she spotted a highway in the distance. I need to get out of here. She couldn’t remember how she had gotten here, but she knew she hadn’t walked. Christina wore only a nightgown and she wasn’t prone to sleepwalking. She didn’t know why she was running, only that she was very scared, more scared than she had ever been in her life.
Just before she reached the highway, her bare foot caught on a rock knocking her sprawling to the ground. Her body hit hard against the pavement. She started to lift herself up, when she felt a trickle of blood drip down from her nose. She looked at her bare foot that had caught the rock. It had a jagged cut all the way across the top and was bleeding heavily. Wiping the blood away from her nose with her sleeve, she slowly turned to look behind her.
The landscape was barren except for a few jagged rocks and several patches of sagebrush. A few mounds of dirt filled her vision. She couldn’t help remembering how much these looked like the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert she had seen in her schoolbooks. Then she saw it. She felt as if all her nightmares had come to life. Slowly rising above one of the mounds, she saw an ominous glowing blue light.
Lifting herself off the ground, she forced herself to start running again. The cut on her foot was getting worse and the pavement was chewing up the soles of her feet. She turned to look behind her just in time to see the ball of light streak past her in the sky. Instantly stopping, she gasped as the ball of light hovered silently in front of her.
The light looked tiny when she had first seen it. Now with it not more than ten feet in front of her, she could see how enormous it actually was. It was slowly changing from a light blue to a crisp white, then back again. She could see it slowly rotate from left to right.
Her heart felt as if it was going to jump out of her chest, it was beating so hard. Trying to take in a deep breath, she lifted her arms in front of her in an effort to guard herself from the ball of light. Although no sound was coming from the object, Christina could feel an intense heat emanating from it.
Her eyes were trying to adjust to the blue light in front of her when it slowly began to brighten. A wave of fear washed over her. Her mind was telling her to run, but her body wasn’t responding. Quickly, she began to feel tired. Her muscles ached from the run through the desert. Her eyelids became heavy and finally shut. She felt her pulse slowing and it was becoming harder and harder to take a deep breath. It became too much. She gave up fighting. Her body crumpled to the ground, her head crashing onto the highway.
Christina’s mind was drifting on the edge of consciousness when she began to hear a voice inside her head. “You will not be harmed,” it asserted calmly. The voice sounded as if three distinctly different voices had said the same thing in unison, but she could tell this was only one voice. Calmness washed over her body as she finally succumbed to sleep. “You will not be harmed.”

EXTRACT FOR
Fallen Angels

(Terence West)


CHAPTER ONE

Shades of brown and yellow painted the desolate landscape as the Great Pyramid rose magnificently from the Giza plateau. Two smaller pyramids on both sides guarded it. A large crowd had gathered in front of the massive stone paws of the sphinx.
The Sphinx, according to Egyptian mythology, was a creature of mythical proportions. It had the body of a lion with the head of a man. Towering above the crowd, the head shadowed them from the burning sun of the Egyptian desert. Excitement was thick in the air.
A tall brunette woman wearing a cotton t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts stood in front of the sphinx. She was speaking to several workers holding pry bars. She was beautiful, but not by popular standards. Her hair was long and curly with curves at the bottom rolling in toward her neck. Her eyes were a deep green which showed her intelligence, but also displayed her youthful excitement. She would turn thirty next year, but for now, she still enjoyed being in her twenties.
Trying to explain what she wanted the workers to do, she demonstrated the technique with her hands. The workers began to understand and went quickly to work. They slammed their pry bars into the edges of a massive stone door they had located in the front of the Sphinx and began to loosen it. The door was flush with the surrounding surface. It was a very large stone, close to ten feet tall and eight feet wide.
An older man emerged from one of the tents that stood near the Sphinx. He was close to six feet tall, but very overweight. He had a full gray beard matching his shoulder length hair. Adjusting his thick black-rimmed glasses, he looked down into the dig site and was mortified to see what was unfolding. Yelling at the top of his lungs, he tried to warn the men off. Knowing his pleas were going unheard, he mustered all his stamina and started to run toward the Sphinx.
The brunette woman heard his pleas, but ignored them. She had worked too hard and too long to be stopped, especially when she was this close. She barked commands at the workers, pushing them harder toward her goal.
The stout man made his way through the group. “Alex!” He pushed his way to the front. “Alex, you can’t do this.”
She turned and shot him an icy glance. “Freddie, I’m not going to stop now.” “You have to.” He pulled her away from the group. “Alex, I just got off the phone with the Egyptian Government and they’ve pulled the plug. They want us out.” Doctor Alex Robinson turned away from him. “Dammit. What happened?” Freddie placed his hand on her shoulder. “They called the Chicago Museum of Natural History and discovered you lied about your credentials.”
“I was wondering how long that story was going to hold water.” She turned to look at her workers. They had almost pried the stone loose. She smiled. “We have to finish, Freddie.”
“I can’t let you do that!” He was motioning emphatically. “The Egyptian Government is sending several military units down here to see that we are escorted out and turned over to them. They want our heads, Alex!”
“Then they’re going to have to drag me kicking and screaming out of here because I’m not going to quit. Not when I’m this close!” She turned and began to walk back to the Sphinx. “You can leave if you want, Freddie,” she smiled at him, “but I’m staying.”
Shaking his head, he followed her back to the Sphinx. The workers had pulled the stone about three inches out of the surface. Far enough so they could get a grip on it and begin to pull. Alex stood behind them watching in excitement.
Freddie took his place by her side. “What do you expect to find?”
She looked at him and shrugged. “I’m not sure. The carbon dating on this place proves that it predates the Pyramids and everything else built here. We’ve also used sonar equipment and discovered a large room hidden beneath the Sphinx. This stone obviously hides the entrance to that room. What we find there could validate all my work.”
“What work, Alex? You’ve been running around the world since you were eighteen looking for signs of extra-terrestrial involvement on our planet. What makes you think you’ll find it here in Egypt?”
“Many researchers have theorized that these incredible monuments were actually built by aliens.”
Freddie lowered his head. “I’ve funded your work since you started, but I had no idea you were going to take it this far. The Egyptian Government isn’t happy with us and they’re going to be here very soon.”
“I know, I know—”
She stopped as the mighty stone fell away from the door throwing up a huge cloud of dust. The workers scattered. As the dust began to clear, a lone figure stood in front of the doorway. It was Alex.
“Finally.” Stepping toward the door, she peered into a long, dark hallway. “Freddie,” she turned to look behind her. “Hand me a flashlight.”
Curiosity overwhelmed him. Reaching into a worn out tan bag slung over his shoulder, he removed two silver flashlights. Handing one to Alex, he flipped his on and followed her into the doorway. Looking behind them, they saw all the workers standing in a semicircle around the door.
“They think this place is cursed.”
“That’s absurd, Freddie. It’s been proven that none of the tombs have been cursed. Everyone who died has done so from ancient bacteria found inside them.”
Both looked at each other. Removing two filter masks from his bag, they quickly slipped them over their mouths. Stepping further into the hall, they found themselves standing in front of a large staircase.
“I wonder how far it goes down?”
Freddie shook his head. “What did the sonar show?” “We estimated it was about forty feet down.”
“Well, let’s find out.”
The two slowly made their way down the ancient staircase. Shining her light on the wall, Alex saw thousands of Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Freddie reached over and ran his hand across the wall. “What do they say?” Alex stepped near the wall and gave it a quick once-over. “I have no idea.” “Some researcher you are.” He let out a small nervous chuckle, trying to lighten the mood.
She smiled and began to make her way down the stairs again. Finally reaching the bottom, they found themselves confronted with another long hallway. At its end, they could see light filtering out onto the floor and walls. “Do you see that?” Alex asked anxiously. Freddie nodded. “What do you think it is?”
“I’m not sure, but I want to find out,” she replied.
The two quickened their pace as they proceeded. Stopping short, they found themselves confronted with a beam of bright light that crossed the hall in front of them. “Looks like a trap.”
Freddie examined the beam. “How ingenious. It seems rather like one of those laser alarm systems. When you break the beam, an alarm goes off.”
“But in our case, something bad happens.” Freddie nodded in agreement.
Alex stared at the beam and snapped her fingers. “I’ve got an idea!” Removing a small round compact from her back pocket she flipped it open revealing a mirror in the top. Snapping it in two, she dropped the bottom half. After pulling a piece of gum out of her mouth, she stuck it to the top of the mirror.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I saw this on an episode of ‘MacGyver’ once. I’m going to try and reflect the beam back into itself. All we have to do is decide which side the beam is emanating from.” The two examined both sides. “They look identical.”
“Well, you’ve got two choices and one of them is wrong.”
“That’s very reassuring, Freddie.” Looking at both ends, she decided to just pick one. “I’ve got a fifty-fifty chance. Here goes.” Moving to the right side, she readied herself. Counting to three, she quickly passed the mirror into the beam. Slowly moving it to the right, she attached it to the wall with the piece of gum. She let out a sigh of relief. Turning to Freddie, she motioned for him to keep moving.
The light appeared to grow brighter as they approached the end of the hall. Rounding the corner, they were confronted by a blinding white glare. Raising their hands to shield their eyes, they both pulled on their sunglasses.
“Oh my God,” Alex muttered nervously under her breath.
Moving into the room, they stared at the object in the center. “Alex...what is it?” Freddie was awestruck.
“It’s not Egyptian. That’s for sure.”
Stepping toward the object, they both tried to get a good look at it through the harsh light. It seemed to be a long cylinder with a glowing orb on top. It was standing upright thanks to four legs that extended down from its midsection. On the front of the device was an odd-shaped control panel. It was pentagon-shaped with what seemed to be a recessed handprint in the center.
Alex neared the panel to get a better look at it. Something about the handprint struck her as odd. “Look at this, Freddie.”
Freddie knelt down beside it. “It has four fingers just like a normal hand, but look at that! It has what appear to be two thumbs. One on each side.”
“Definitely not Egyptian,” Alex was transfixed on the device, “or human for that matter.” The two were startled by the sound of footsteps behind them. Twirling around, Alex found herself confronted by several armed guards. “Oh shit,” she muttered.
The guards shouted at them in a foreign language much too quickly for Freddie and Alex to understand. They motioned for the two to slowly step away from the object. Nodding to each other, Alex and Freddie raised their hands as the two guards escorted them out of the room at gunpoint.
Alex leaned over and whispered to Freddie. “We need to get out of here.” Simultaneously, they glanced over at the mirror Alex had attached to the wall. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Freddie nodded. “This will be very dangerous.” Alex agreed. “When I say so, run like hell.”
She let out a loud moan and doubled over. She leaned her left hand against the wall near the mirror and wrapped the other around her stomach. Freddie immediately moved to her side and laid a hand on her back. Turning back to the soldiers, he motioned frantically. “She’s sick! We need help!”
The soldiers looked at each other. “Sick,” they repeated in broken English. Alex looked up at Freddie. “Run!” Quickly snapping her arm across the mirror, the light beam shot across the hall. The two took off, breaking the beam. The soldiers began to take aim when several wooden spikes shot out of the wall impaling them. Alex watched in horror as they hung awkwardly from the spikes as their bodies twitched.
Alex and Freddie were almost to the top of the stairs when another soldier dashed out of the room, his machine gun blazing. Freddie screamed as a bullet ripped through his back dropping him instantly to his knees.
Alex reached the top of the stairs and flattened to the ground. “Freddie!”
Waving with his hand, he motioned for her to run. “Go! I can’t walk!” He moaned. “Save yourself!”
“No!”
“Do it!” he shouted.
She looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I’ll never forget you, Freddie!” Jumping to her feet, she ran out the doorway. Breaching the entrance, Alex was quickly blinded by the bright sun. She had inadvertently left her sunglasses inside the lower chamber. Taking several steps forward, she bumped into something.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to come with us.”
“Who...?” She trailed off in midsentence. Looking up, she was standing in front of a large man dressed in Air Force blue.
He grabbed Alex’s arm. Twisting it behind her back, he handcuffed her hands together. Guiding her toward his jeep, he forced her inside. Sitting on either side of her were two heavily armed soldiers in desert camouflage. The man in the US Air Force uniform climbed into the driver’s seat and cranked the ignition.
“Where am I being taken?” Alex asked.
“You are to be taken directly to the airport, where you will be shipped back to the States,” the driver answered. “For what reason?”
The man was silent. Putting the jeep in gear, he turned the car around and began to drive out of the desert.
***
Living in Las Vegas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Christina Anderson played with the ballpoint pen in her hand as she stared aimlessly off into space. Brushing an errant lock of blonde hair out of her blue eyes, she began to doodle in her notebook. Her bright red nail polish looked good with her black sweater, she thought.
The room had a bit of a musty smell mingled with the scents of perfume and cologne from the other students. She glanced around at the various objects dealing with history in the room. Her eyes caught on a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. She wondered how he managed not to fall out of the boat standing up like that.
“Are you with us, Christina?”
Snapping herself out of a daze, she sat up in her chair and stared at her third hour history teacher. “Yes, Mr. Matthews.”
“Then you can answer the question I just asked the class.” Nick Matthews hated teaching senior History. He remembered a time when the students brought the teachers apples instead of packing guns in their backpacks. He was a man in his fifties with gray hair and a neatly trimmed beard. The gray suit he wore was one he had owned for years, but he liked it.
“What was the question again?” Christina asked sheepishly.
“Can you tell me what the Magna Carta is?” He stared at her impatiently. “From the chapter you read last night in your history book!” He stepped closer to her.
She could feel all the eyes of her fellow students burning into her. Christina’s mind was frantic as she searched for the answer. She hadn’t read the assigned chapter last night, instead, opting to go hang out with a couple friends. She decided to make a guess. “The Magna Carta was—” She was cut off by the bell.
“Well, well, Ms. Anderson. Saved by the bell.” The kids started to gather up their notebooks and get up to go to the next class. “Before you leave, don’t forget to read chapters five and six tonight and finish the questions at the end of each chapter.”
Christina hurriedly began to pull her papers together and throw them into her bag. She rushed out of the room so as to avoid facing the wrath of Mr. Matthews. “Hold on there, Tina!” She spun around to see her friend Libby standing behind her.
“Oh, hey, Libby.” She was relieved to discover it wasn’t Mr. Matthews following her.
“Man, Matthews came down kind of hard on you in there.” Libby was the same age as Christina. She was close to the same height, but had short brown hair and brown eyes. “He is such an asshole sometimes.”
“Yeah, really.”
The two girls started to walk down the crowded hall toward their lockers. Libby was about a step behind Christina. She had stopped to admire one of the many boys she liked in school. Catching up quickly, she grabbed Christina’s arm. “How about we skip fourth period and get an early lunch?”
“I don’t know. This will be the third time we’ve missed English this week.” She fumbled with the combination on her locker. Opening the door, she lifted her backpack off and placed it in her locker. “All right. Let’s go.” Both girls checked themselves in her mirror, and then slammed the locker door closed.
The school was open campus, so it was generally known that if a student wanted to leave early or show up late, they could. It was a policy the school board was desperately trying to change. The two girls strode through the metal detectors in the lobby and out the front doors.
“Come on, we’ll take my car,” Libby began to walk in the direction of the parking lot.
“What are we gonna do if we get caught, Libby?” Christina had always been the good girl in school. She always tried to get good grades and had never missed a day of class until her senior year.
“We’ll be fine. We’ll just tell them we have senior priv this hour.” Libby, on the other hand, was known as many things in school, none of them good. “That always works for me.”
Arriving at the parking lot next to the school, they weaved their way through until they found Libby’s car. Both girls climbed into Libby’s red convertible Volkswagen Bug.
Immediately rolling down her window, Libby lit a cigarette she’d pulled out of her purse. “Want one, Tina?”
“No thanks.” She watched Libby take a long drag off the cigarette and slowly exhale the smoke. “How can you stand the smell of those things?”
“You get used to it.” Putting the car into gear, she pulled out of the parking lot. “Where do you want to go for lunch?”
“Wherever. You’re driving, and I’m not really that hungry.” Christina rolled down her window to try and get some fresh air. “Just somewhere we can talk.”
“I know just the place. Trust me.” With that, Libby piloted the car out into traffic and headed downtown.
The two didn’t talk on the way. Libby had turned up her car stereo and was dancing and singing along to her favorite song on the radio. Christina stared out the window at the many casinos they passed. The signs on the casinos advertised everything from a ninety-nine cent buffet to topless waitresses, obviously geared to pull in tourists.
Christina had only lived in Las Vegas for about a year now. She’d moved out here when her dad had taken an important government job. Prior to this, her father was a captain in the Air Force. She had never really asked many questions about his new job, mostly because she really didn’t care and didn’t want to be living in what she referred to as ‘the sin capitol of the world’. She missed living in Colorado. It had been a culture shock moving here. She was used to living in the mountains with all the trees and snow. Every time she looked at the Nevada landscape, she cringed. She hated the sagebrush and the one hundred and fifteen degree temperatures in the summer. Oh, well. In a couple months, I’ll be eighteen and graduated from school and I’ll finally leave this god-forsaken state.
“We’re here.” Libby pulled the car up to the curb and shut off the engine. Both girls got out of the car and into the dry heat of the Nevada summer. “Louigi’s Pizza Palace.”
“Louigi’s Pizza Palace? Why here?”
“I was in the mood for a slice of pie, and there’s a really cute waiter that works here.”
Christina sighed and followed Libby into the restaurant. It was decorated in what seemed to be a mobster motif of the late twenties. All the tables had red and white checkered tablecloths, and the room was dimly lit with green light fixtures that hung from the ceiling. Along the left wall were several booths, and at the very back, she could see the white tiled kitchen through the service window. Several ceiling fans whirred nosily above their heads. In the far corner, a group of men sat at a table laughing and drinking beer. They all turned to look at the two teenage girls as they entered.
“Come on, let’s get a booth.” Libby grabbed Christina’s hand and led her over to the first empty booth. Sitting down, Libby immediately grabbed a menu and began to look it over. “I’m in the mood for pepperoni, how about you?”
Christina nodded in response. She was feeling a little guilty for skipping class, and a little uncomfortable in this place. “Can I tell you something, Libby?”
Libby looked up from her menu just long enough to answer. “Yeah, sure. What is it, girlfriend?”
Christina began to fidget a little bit. She hadn’t wanted to say anything to anyone, but at the same time, she wanted to make sure she wasn’t losing her mind. She started off slowly. “I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“Well that’s not too uncommon,” Libby answered from behind her menu.
Grabbing the menu away from Libby, she set it on the table next to her. “I haven’t been sleeping well ever since I moved to this state.” She hesitated, “I’ve been having the worst nightmares.”
“Probably just the shock from moving here. I’ve heard of people dying when they move to a different state because it’s so different.” Libby’s voice was heavy with sarcasm.
“Get serious, Libby.” Christina was now regretting bringing up the subject. “I keep having the same recurring nightmare.”
Libby’s interest had now been piqued. “Tell me about it.”
Just thinking about the nightmare brought vivid flashes of it into her mind. Christina cringed. “Okay.” She composed herself. “They all start the same way. I’m lying in bed, then suddenly—”
“A gorgeous man walks into your room, right?” Libby began to snicker to herself. “Actually, that sounds more like one of my dreams.”
Christina just glared at her.
“I’m sorry.” Libby declared, unnerved by Christina’s stare.
“Anyway,” Christina paused momentarily to see if she would be interrupted again, “I’m lying in bed, then suddenly, I see a bright flash of blue light outside my bedroom window.” The small hairs on the back of her neck began to stand up. “Then I’m somewhere else.”
“Where?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen this place before. The walls seem to be made of some kind of metal, because they’re really shiny.”
“Do you remember anything else about the dream?”
Christina nodded. “There’s something else.” She felt her throat get tight. “It feels like a hospital because I always end up lying on some kind of table.” Libby moved her hand onto Christina’s. She could see that Christina was visibly shaking now.
“You don’t have to go on,” Libby comforted her.
“The worst part is always at the very end. I’m lying naked on the table and I can’t move. I can hear things moving around me, but I can’t turn my head to look. Even if I could, it’s very dark in the room and I can hardly see anything.” Christina bit her lip to try not to cry. “Then I feel something touch my leg and slowly move its way up my body.” Libby’s mouth was now agape as she listened to emotion fill Christina’s voice. “I don’t know what’s touching me, but I don’t like it. As it nears my chest, a very bright white light begins to shine in my eyes.” Christina stopped. It was the last part she always hated the worst. “I start to feel like I’m drifting off to sleep. My eyelids get heavy and I have a hard time keeping them open. But just before they close, I see this...this thing.” The tears began to roll down her face smearing her mascara into long, black streaks on her cheeks. “It’s not human, Libby. Just for a moment, I see it’s large head and it’s big black eyes!”
Libby was shocked at how traumatic this dream was to Christina. She searched for an explanation to ease her friend’s pain. “Maybe it is a person. You’re just seeing them through the glare of the bright light making their face shadowed, or—”
Christina cut her off. “No, that’s not it. Don’t you think I thought of that? I know what I see in my dreams sounds crazy, but that’s what happens!” She was crying heavily now. Lifting her hands up, she placed them over her face. Both girls sat there silently for what seemed an eternity until the waitress interrupted them.
“Is everything all right here, girls?”
Libby looked up. “Yeah. We’re just fine, and just leaving.” Standing, she reached down and put her hand on Christina’s shoulder. “Come on, girl. I’m gonna take you home.”
Christina looked at Libby and nodded.
The car ride home seemed to take forever. Libby had turned off the radio and the only sound they could hear was the tires riding on the pavement. They arrived at Christina’s house about ten minutes later. Christina’s house was a tall light blue three- story house. The yard was always freshly cut and the hedges neatly trimmed. It was in a nice neighborhood, but all the houses tended to look alike. All the yards had tall trees along the front and back of the property, but the browns of the Nevada desert were visible looming behind them. Her house was on the very edge of a new subdivision.
Libby was the first to get out of the car. She walked around to the passenger side and reached in to help Christina out. Slowly, she guided her up the stairs to her front door. Christina dug her hand into the right pocket of her jeans and fished out a set of keys. Finding the front door key, she tried to push it into the lock, but her hands were still shaking badly. Libby took the keys from her and easily unlocked the door.
Stepping inside, Libby closed the door behind them. She had been in Christina’s house many times, but every time she saw it, she felt like a poor girl walking into a palace. Christina’s house was lavishly decorated. The floors were all a deep brown shade of hardwood. The furniture was cream colored and perfectly complimented the white interior walls of the house. Pictures of all shapes and sizes hung on the walls showing the many members of Christina’s family at various stages of their lives. The front wall of the house was a gigantic picture window with light white curtains that filtered the sunlight as it flowed in, giving the living room a kind of ethereal feel.
Taking a right into the hallway, Libby moved Christina past the master bedroom and up the stairs to the second floor where her bedroom was located. This floor was very similar to the first, except the wood floors had been replaced by a light colored carpet. Libby swiftly guided Christina into her bedroom.
Entering her room, she quickly sat Christina down on the edge of her king-size bed. “Stay here for a sec, okay, Tina? I’ll go get you a cold rag.”
She walked swiftly through the room, past hordes of stuffed animals that occupied every corner, and into Christina’s bathroom. Opening one of the cupboards on the left, she retrieved a small washcloth and quickly wetted it down with cold water in the sink. Walking back, she found Christina now lying down on her bed.
Handing the cold rag to Christina, she sat down on the edge of the bed next to her, “You okay, Tina?”
Christina shook her head. “I’m tired of the dreams, Libby. I don’t think I can handle them anymore.” She placed the cold rag over her eyes and lay back on the bed.
“Yes you can. You’re stronger than that.”
Christina shook her head in a mocking gesture. “Yeah right.”
Libby slid back onto the bed next to Christina. Looking up at the ceiling, she noticed for the first time a poster of Brad Pitt with his shirt off. “What do we have here?”
“What?” Christina asked innocently.
“The poster on your ceiling. Isn’t that Brad Pitt? No wonder you’re having bad dreams.” Libby began to giggle.
For the first time all day, Christina tuned to Libby and smiled. “Some people have no taste I guess.” The two girls laughed. It felt good.
“Sorry to run out on you, but I’ve got to get back to school. If I miss anthropology one more time, Mrs. Jenkins is going to fail me.” Libby sat up and turned around to face Christina. “Are you gonna be all right?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna be okay.”
Libby stood and headed for the door. She stopped just outside of it and turned around. “I’ll call you tonight to check on you, okay?”
“Okay.” Christina smiled at Libby.
Libby walked out the door, only to peek back in. “And by the way, I’ll bring over my poster of Ricky Martin. You’ll definitely have better dreams with him watching over you at night.” She snickered and left.
Christina lay on the bed for a long time, just allowing her mind to drift off into space. She tried not to think of anything as she held the cool damp rag to her face. The images from her dreams kept flashing in her mind no matter how hard she tried to keep them out. I have to do something to keep myself occupied.
Looking around her room, she decided to turn on her stereo and listen to some music. It always had a way of calming her down. Reaching over to her nightstand, she grabbed the remote and hit the power button, then the play button. The music rolled out of the speakers filling her mind with nothing but images of the band performing. Lying back on the bed, she slowly began to drift off to sleep. She knew she couldn’t face the dreams again, but she was so tired...
***
Christina’s mind was screaming. Her lungs and body felt as if they were on fire, but she forced herself to keep running. The crunch of the hard dirt under her feet was being drowned out by the sound of her heart pounding in her ears. The warm summer wind blew across her body giving her some relief from the hot sweat running down her face and chest. Her long blond hair was waving in the wind as she ran and her deep blue eyes were filled with terror. The night sky was empty and silent. The moon stared down unforgivingly, as if it knew what was about to happen.
Running hard across the desert, she spotted a highway in the distance. I need to get out of here. She couldn’t remember how she had gotten here, but she knew she hadn’t walked. Christina wore only a nightgown and she wasn’t prone to sleepwalking. She didn’t know why she was running, only that she was very scared, more scared than she had ever been in her life.
Just before she reached the highway, her bare foot caught on a rock knocking her sprawling to the ground. Her body hit hard against the pavement. She started to lift herself up, when she felt a trickle of blood drip down from her nose. She looked at her bare foot that had caught the rock. It had a jagged cut all the way across the top and was bleeding heavily. Wiping the blood away from her nose with her sleeve, she slowly turned to look behind her.
The landscape was barren except for a few jagged rocks and several patches of sagebrush. A few mounds of dirt filled her vision. She couldn’t help remembering how much these looked like the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert she had seen in her schoolbooks. Then she saw it. She felt as if all her nightmares had come to life. Slowly rising above one of the mounds, she saw an ominous glowing blue light.
Lifting herself off the ground, she forced herself to start running again. The cut on her foot was getting worse and the pavement was chewing up the soles of her feet. She turned to look behind her just in time to see the ball of light streak past her in the sky. Instantly stopping, she gasped as the ball of light hovered silently in front of her.
The light looked tiny when she had first seen it. Now with it not more than ten feet in front of her, she could see how enormous it actually was. It was slowly changing from a light blue to a crisp white, then back again. She could see it slowly rotate from left to right.
Her heart felt as if it was going to jump out of her chest, it was beating so hard. Trying to take in a deep breath, she lifted her arms in front of her in an effort to guard herself from the ball of light. Although no sound was coming from the object, Christina could feel an intense heat emanating from it.
Her eyes were trying to adjust to the blue light in front of her when it slowly began to brighten. A wave of fear washed over her. Her mind was telling her to run, but her body wasn’t responding. Quickly, she began to feel tired. Her muscles ached from the run through the desert. Her eyelids became heavy and finally shut. She felt her pulse slowing and it was becoming harder and harder to take a deep breath. It became too much. She gave up fighting. Her body crumpled to the ground, her head crashing onto the highway.
Christina’s mind was drifting on the edge of consciousness when she began to hear a voice inside her head. “You will not be harmed,” it asserted calmly. The voice sounded as if three distinctly different voices had said the same thing in unison, but she could tell this was only one voice. Calmness washed over her body as she finally succumbed to sleep. “You will not be harmed.”