Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Path to Eden I - Ellie

The white sky burst open, revealing the milky layer to be thick clouds, with a clear azure sky above. A large, burning thing descended. An eye with wings of flame, that’s how I’d describe it. It stared down at my with its rainbow-colored iris, a burning blue silhouette of a person seemed lodged within the pupil. I was compelled to gaze at it, transfixed, paralyzed. The eye felt like it was piercing my brain, probing me, trying to fish out something that I was sure was not there. Leave me alone, I whispered in my mind, hoping it’d just leave me alone. It didn’t. I felt something surge down my body, ripping it all apart, limb by limb. I felt the need to scream, but I had no mouth. I needed to run, but no legs would take me anywhere. The feeling was nauseating.

I woke up in my bed and instantly threw up on the floor. I glanced around – everything seemed normal. It was the middle of the night, my bag lay as I had left it in the evening. It was all a dream, I thought. I got up and glanced at my phone. It was five-thirty. Not much point going back to sleep, huh. I slipped on the same stuff I wore yesterday – a pair of tattered jeans and a khaki top. They were clean enough. I made my way to the bathroom, making sure that I wouldn’t wake up Angela. For some reason, I felt really weak. Every step towards down the corridor felt like an enormous chore, my feet dragged behind me. But still, I pressed on.

The light bulb flickered as I turned on the light in the bathroom. As it illuminated the mirror, I gasped. There was something wrong with my face. I couldn’t really tell what, but I had the feeling I was looking at a stranger. Even though everything seemed okay – my face was the right size and shape, the skin was also pretty much normal, if a bit pale, but that wasn’t strange. My hair was still long and brown, and my eyes were still green… Too green, somehow. That was it. There was something wrong with my eyes. I leaned in to look closer, but then my head spun again. I could feel the contents of my stomach run up my esophagus. They soon landed in the sink. My vision became a blur and for a moment I felt like I wasn’t in control of my body. I saw myself run out of the apartment and down the street to the monorail station, the streetlights speeding by, forming luminescent line against the pale sky.

When I was finally in control again, I threw up another batch. I was huddled in some corner, my hands were shaking. My whole body felt limp, I could barely stand. What the hell is happening?!

“Ellie?” a female voice called from behind. I turned around, my head pounding mercilessly. I first only saw a blur, but then everything came into focus. I saw a girl, she was probably just a bit older than me, though it was hard to tell due to her attire. Her black cloak with a big, furry hood was unzipped, and there barely anything else underneath. A tight black top that seemed to be little more than a corset with straps, an equally black ruffle mini-skirt, showcasing the stockings on her long legs. Her hair was a weird shade of blonde, a fiery shade, almost ginger but not quite, separated into an impressive pair of twintails. She stared at me with big blue, almond-shaped eyes, her face was covered in heavy make-up with her lips gleaming in the light, dyed crimson with lip-gloss. Black crosses dangled down her ears and from the choker on her neck. I had no idea how she knew my name. You don’t forget a presence like that.

“Do I know you?” I asked her. She stared at me for a second, the wide smile she’d had on her face fading. Seeing her so disappointed made me feel bad for her, even if she was a total stranger. She gave me a sad little smile and sighed.

“No wonder you can’t recognize me,” she said. Her voice seemed to match her appearance perfectly, despite sounding very normal, natural, which couldn’t be said about her clothes. “I guess I do look a bit different. I’m Candy. Ring any bells?”

I stared at her, doing my best to ignore the throbbing pain in my head and dig through my memories, in search of this poor soul. Candy… I guess it does sound a bit familiar? But I’m pretty positive I’ve never seen this person before in my life. “Uh… Sorry. I can’t really remember.”

“That’s alright,” she smiled and went up closer. “Well then, it’s good to meet you stranger. You need a hand there?”

I was about to tell her I was okay, but then I lost my balance and would have hit the ground pretty painfully if it weren’t for Candy. “Thanks. Guess I do need a hand.”

“Alright, where should I take you then?”

“Home,” I heaved. “It’s nearby. I’ll tell you where to go.”

It was good to have someone to lean on. We were quiet for most of the walk. I couldn’t help but wonder, though. She wasn’t just a stranger who just happened to help out another stranger. This girl clearly knew me. I tried looking harder at her face, and while she did look more and more familiar the more I looked, I still drew a blank.

“Can we stop here for a second?” I asked as we reached an alley. I was starting to feel worse again. I felt like I’d need to throw up again soon.

“Sure thing,” she said as she let me go. I slid to the ground. “You okay?”

“Yes,” I said as I squatted, grabbing my head, trying to breathe properly. “Hey, you said you know me, right?”

“Well, I guess you could say I know you a bit,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we never got to talk much. It was mostly through Angela that I know you.”

“And how do you know Angela,” I looked at her. She went silent for a while, visibly pondering where to start what she was about to say.

“Well, I guess you don’t remember anything from it, huh,” she squatted beside me and looked me in the face. “Do you think you could try and recall something from ten years ago?”

Ten years ago… I thought. And in that instant, everything started spinning again. Another blow pierced my brain, just like in the dream. All was red, and I was falling. In the distance I heard Candy shout. Then there was nothing. I floated in a black abyss, silent and still. The last thought I remember was Great, I fainted. Knowing my luck I’ll wake up in five days.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Path to Eden I - Hope

It made no sense. Chance was right there, putting his shirt back on, his chest smooth, white and spotless. Not a single hole, not a stain of blood, even though yesterday night I saw him get punctured by real bullets. I saw him lose his balance as dark red splotches appeared on his bright red leather jacket. I saw my love die. And yet, here he was now. Unharmed, alive, my new fiancé. Though I couldn’t even get myself to celebrate the fact that he had popped the question. Words could not express how grateful I was that I hadn’t lost him after all, but I could still not calm down. There was the fact that Chance had gotten himself in some shady business, all for my sake. Then there were the gun wounds that seemingly healed themselves up. And then there was the vision we shared.

Chance’s shirt was still covered in blood, although the holes were gone and the stains were much smaller than I remembered. He put on his jacket and sat down next to me and turned his deep-set, dark brown eyes to me. His compassionate gaze would usually soothe me, no matter how bleak things would seem. Not this time, however. I put a hand on his cheek and stroked the scar above his left eye with my thumb. I gave the most genuine smile I could muster. But I could tell that wouldn’t work either. We both knew no looks, smiles, or kisses would save us from what we had to do. He grabbed my wrist and leaned in closer. His chinstrap beard tickled, but I soon stopped noticing it. The kiss we shared was long, deep, as if it was to be our last. Though it made me feel sad, in some strange way it reassured me that we would be okay. Once our lips parted, I brushed my fingers through his hair, through the prematurely white streak just above his forehead that stood out like a sore thumb against his regular dark brown shade.

“I think we need to find Angela now,” I said to him.

“Yeah,” he sighed. “I feel it too. We need to pay her a visit.”

“Do you have any clue as to what it is we’re supposed to do?”

“No.” He dropped his gaze to the floor. “But I don’t think anything’s going to be the same anymore.”

I knew that he was right. The thing we saw was out of this world, and whatever it was that we were supposed to do, things would be different for the whole world from now on. Surprisingly, a part of me was glad. And here I thought a medical career was what I really wanted.

“Let’s go see her then.” I grabbed his hand and stood up, pulling him up with me. “She was in the center of it all. Perhaps she knows something more.
Holding hands, never letting go, we made our way to the elevator. The warmth from his hand made me feel as if I was in another world, somehow suspended in an otherworldly moment, somewhere beyond time and space. The hum of the elevator seemed to be coming from miles away.

“Just so you know,” I said to Chance in a light tone. “No matter what happens, I hope you realize you’re not breaking off the engagement anytime soon. Even if aliens tell us marriage is wrong, I took a chance on Chance. Don’t you dare lose Hope.”

“I wouldn’t dare,” he chuckled and squeezed my hand tighter. I found myself feeling much better after that.

The people stood outside, their eyes fixed upwards, their jaws agape. Everyone gathered to admire the magical lightshow. We’d already seen enough of the lights through the window, so we didn’t care to stop and admire them again. We went straight for the monorail. When we got off, we didn’t really need to look very far. Outside the station we saw Angela walking around frantically, her face flushed, as if desperately searching for something. I felt a tug within me, and I could tell Chance felt the same. I guess we really were meant to find her.

“Angela!” Chance called and we ran towards her. At first she didn’t hear us, but after he called her a second time, she noticed us and ran up to us. She was out of breath. That moment, we all spontaneously went for a group hug. It was a pretty strange feeling. I could feel tears run down my cheeks. I didn’t know if I was so glad because I wanted to see her so badly, or because we were programmed to feel relieved when we found her. “We’ve found you. We’re here for you now.”

“Are you okay?” I asked as I broke away from her, still holding Chance’s hand. “You look really shaken.” As if you don’t have a reason to feel shaken yourself.

“It’s hard not to be,” her voice was shaking. She wiped a single tear from her cheek. “I have no idea what we’re doing, but it feels a bit reassuring that you guys are in this with me. I think we’re supposed to be waiting for someone now…”

“What do you mean?” Chance demanded.

“I… I have this feeling that… I can’t really explain it. But I think that whatever it was that’s bringing us together has a pretty firm grasp on what it’s doing. Now it makes me feel compelled to sit and wait. But I just can’t.” Her voice shook once again.

“What happened?” I asked her as I put a hand on her shoulder.

“I can’t find Ellie anywhere,” she said, doing her best to stay calm and collected. That’s right, I thought. Ellie was in part of that dream too. “I woke up this morning and she was just gone. I have no idea where she went…”

“Well that’s weird.” Chance’s brow furrowed as he said this. “She was there with us when we saw that eye thing in the dream, wasn’t she? Both Hope and I had this urge to find you. She should have it too, right? She had you around anyway.”

Angela looked at us both with a puzzled expression.

“I think what Chance meant to say is,” I said, “she’s bound to come looking for you as well, right sweetie?”

“Y-yeah,” Chance hesitated.

“Don’t lose hope, Angela,” I gave her another tight hug. “If we don’t find her, she’s bound to find you. Now, let’s all go look for her, alright?”

“Right,” Angela smiled and wiped her eye with the sleeve of her coat. “I’ve already checked the station and the park, but I didn’t see her. I was going to check the mall, but then I bumped into you.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I said. Logically, it seemed wiser to split up, in case Ellie showed up somewhere Angela missed. But I felt that we shouldn’t split up. I could tell the others felt it too, as they raised no objections.

The mall was bizarrely empty. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, considering the most interesting stuff was happening right outside the front door, yet I never could have anticipated to see something like this. The lanes between the shops, usually lined with people of all shapes and sizes with bags of clothing and groceries, were now vacant, and only a couple of individuals still trotted on the marble floor.

“Okay, so,” Chance turned to Angela. “You have any idea what places she likes to visit here?”

“Not a clue,” she said, exhaling quite a bit of air upwards, causing her bangs to dance erratically above her forehead for a second. “I don’t think she visits the stores. She rarely buys stuff, she mostly just comes over with her friends. So… the food court, I guess?”

“Okay,” I said. “It’s also pretty much in the middle of everything, so even if she’s not there, there’s a big chance, we’ll get to see her from there.”

As we walked towards our destination, we passed several people. They had confused look on their faces, glancing around the building, obviously shocked by the place being deserted. When we reached the food court, almost all the restaurants were closed, and the tables were all abandoned. Save for one. There were two bags laid on a table on the other end of the hall. Someone was sitting there, but we couldn’t see who – a fountain was in the way, obscuring the person from view. That didn’t stop Angela from running there so fast that she flipped over half a dozen chairs in the process. Chance went right after her, so I ran after him. When I saw Angela stop by the table, he shoulders suddenly slouched, the color draining from her face, I knew that I had been right in remaining skeptical. The person sitting by the table was an older gentleman. Tall and slender, with well-groomed blond hair and goatee, thin glasses, and a crooked smirk on his face that was quite handsome even now – the man was quite dashing, and yet, there was something a bit off about him.
“I’m sorry about this,” Angela heaved. “I thought my sister was here.”

“Don’t worry about it, Angela,” he said to her. I glanced at Angela. She looked at him puzzled, her brown eyes narrowed. Then, suddenly, realization came and I saw her eyes widen again.

“You’re that guy from yesterday,” she exclaimed and pointed a finger at him. “Sergei, was it?”

“Indeed, that is my name,” he stood up and glanced at Chance and me. “I see that you’ve already gathered three, then.”

Three…? What do you mean?”

“Oh!” I suddenly shouted out, surprising even myself. Perhaps the pitch I used was too high – even Chance flinched. All eyes were now on me. “You were there too, weren’t you? In that white space, with us. You saw the eye too, didn’t you?”

A cat smile appeared on Sergei’s lips. “Yes. I too have witnessed the spectacle and I too felt the urge to find the Contact. I am one of you. Pardon my manners,” he suddenly broke off and went up to me, extending his hand. “My name is Sergei Volkov. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“Hope Beaumont,” I said as I shook his hand. It was very warm to the touch.

“I’m Chance,” said Chance as Sergei shook his hand. He didn’t seem too comfortable holding his hand. Chance had always been very trusting and open towards people. Seeing him intimidated like that sent a chill down my spine. Who even is this guy?

“I hate to interrupt your introductions,” Angela said, her voice carrying a hint of irritation. “But we really need to find my sister right now.”

“Maybe you’ve seen her?” I turned to Sergei. “She’s about sixteen, long brown hair, green eyes.”
“I’m afraid not. Not today, at least. But I’ll help you search for her, if you’d let me.”

“Sure,” Angela said. “I guess another pair of eyes will come in handy. So let’s go.”

“Hey, Angie,” Chance called as Angela turned on her heel and took a couple of steps away from us, Sergei following close after. He suddenly grabbed my hand as well. “And where are we going now?”

Angela turned to face Chance and dropped her gaze. She placed her hand on her chin, lost in thought.  She then lifted her head, an expression of desperation coming on to her face. “Well, we-we could check out the, um… Well, there’s some, uh, boutiques here, I guess.”

She was about to add some more options, but something startled her. Footsteps, quite a lot of them, from all around the mall. I glanced around – we were surrounded by men in suits.

“Angela Morgan,” one of the men stepped out of the circle, pulling something out of his pocket. It was some kind of badge. “Chance F. Donovan, Hope Beaumont, and Sergei Volkov – the four of you will follow us. We will take you to the seat of the Federal Government, so that you may fulfill your purpose as the Contact.”

“No!” Angela shouted. “I can’t go without Ellie!”

“Your sister is safe,” the man reassured her. “We found her this morning. She’s waiting for you on the plane.”

I could the relief come over Angela’s face. It made me smile, just a little. I turned to Chance, at the exact same moment he turned to face me. His smile was broad and warm, reassuring. Everything is going to be fine, I thought. We’re all in this together.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Path to Eden I - Michel

WARNING: The following chapter constains graphic descriptions of violence and sexual acts, which may be unsuitable for minors and triggering content for some. Proceed at your own discretion.

The meticulously crafted columns reached all the way to the firmament of the cathedral. As they reached the ceiling, they split into small branch-like formations. The overall impression was similar to that of sitting in a quiet forest, surrounded by these monumental beings much older and more dignified than anything we humans could ever hope to achieve. They were so tall that simply cocking my head to look at them was painful. The stained glass covered all the windows, bathing the gargantuan hall in splashes of multicolored light. This temple, with all the care and attention paid to little details, and the near century that was put into building it, not to mention all the money that went to it – all this was done to praise God in his everlasting love. How ironic then, that the Sagrada Familia cathedral had, contrary to its designer’s wishes, become nothing short of a tourist trap, and it had been that even before it had been finished.

I could feel a broad smile suddenly appear on my face as I sat on the bench, the people river flowing in a lazy current all around me. Which was more ironic – the fate of the cathedral, or the fact that I was praying in it? What does a heathen seek at a temple? Absolution for his sins? A short laugh came out of me, turning a couple of heads around, but those quickly forgot about that and returned to their businesses. Oh, the sins I had committed were plenty and they were despicable, but I never wished for any absolution. My sins were my own. They were my life and reason to be, and there was no God that could ever take that away from me.

Barcelona had been to my liking so far. I bade goodbye to Paris as if it were a former lover. I knew that in her heart of hearts she felt that I had overstayed my welcome, but could not bring herself to throw me out. So I threw myself out, to save us both further pain. Though I missed my city, this separation felt strangely… liberating. Barcelona was fresh and new, with surprises around every corner, each more beautiful than the last. She was like an adventurous, exciting paramour, and I got to savor every inch of her body inch by inch. Her streets were like the silky velvet of her thighs, with the striking buildings by Gaudi being new tattoos and birthmarks that she presented to me so eagerly.

There were streets that revealed much more than Gaudi’s architectonic endeavors. As a lady guards her most private areas to tease and entice the voyeur, the city will obscure its most treasured secrets with a veil of darkness. It was in a dark, dank corner that I have ripped a captivating from the ground. After a particularly daunting orchestra rehearsal I found myself… thirsting. For many things. A fellow flute-player recommended a certain place where he said I was sure to find something that would satiate me. And so I did. In a dark corner of a narrow street, I found a café of sorts. The heady perfume obscured what was most likely the stench of vomit, semen and other basic human excrements. Calling it a café was perhaps a wrong choice on my part, but I daren’t call it a whorehouse. I always treat my prey  with the utmost respect. My flowers, my angels, my Dulcinea, is how I would call them, for no matter how frightening their faces may have been, they knew very well how to use their charms.

But Dolors was different. I knew she wouldn’t escape me as soon as I laid my eyes on those legs long and slender as the columns in the Sagrada Familia, those large, innocent doe eyes hiding her much less innocent nature, her curvaceous frame further emphasized by the dress that embraced her robust hips and bust so tightly. She followed me to the apartment I was renting so eagerly. Who could blame her? I had enough money to afford her, and I knew I had my share of charms as well. I had always been told that I am devilishly handsome, and they say the middle age is the most flattering age for a man, so I have always attracted looks, even despite my missing eye. Not that anyone noticed it. I had my ways to hide it. Yes, I could tell she would gladly pay for what she thought she was about to receive herself. Oh, how wrong she was.

“Undress me,” she commanded me in Catalan. My smile broadened as I unlaced her dress and laid her secrets bare before me layer by layer, her body quaking with anticipation with my every touch, her skin burning up, as if nudging me ever so impatiently: hurry up. She couldn’t wait. She began undressing me while her dress was only halfway down. She then kissed me, bit me, and threw me to the bed. Saying I took her would be a bit inaccurate. She incited the passion, but the initiative would soon be mine. You could say we took each other in turn. Her incessant thrusts, my fierce pulls, our synchronized breaths – it was hard to believe she was a prostitute and that I had only hired her. Her passion was so authentic. So real, so pure, so… primal. She was on top of me as my excitement started reaching its peak, and I could see she could hardly handle her own pleasure. Now, do it, I said to myself. My hand reached below the pillow, my fingers slid down the sharp, smooth metal surface of the object. With one swift swing, I plunged the knife into my Dulcinea’s breast. She gasped, the blissful smile fading from her face, shifting into an expression of terror in its purest, most beautiful form. I struck her again, and again, the crimson river streaming down her firm breasts, splitting at their base, only for the two streams to come back together at her navel. At that moment, I had reached my peak. I sat up and kissed her in her trembling lips.

“Shh, my darling,” I whispered  into her ear in that beautiful, beautiful language of Catalonia. “It will all be over soon. I’m glad I could pleasure you in your final moments.” With one last tiny gasp, her body fell limp, its entire weight shifted to me, staining my body with the thick blood.

It was for this reason that Paris had enough of me. A little longer, and my little habit would have dug me an early grave. Even though my dear friend had  prepared for me a specialized nanobot colony, built specifically in order to leave no trace after such acts, I could not feel completely safe. Who knew how long I could stay in Barcelona like this.

But no, that was not the reason I had come to the cathedral. I lived for my art. I gave those poor little souls a magnificent sendoff. For those who must die, will die, those who must live, will live, and those who kill, will kill. That has always been the order of things. Sooner or later, the prostitutes would be killed. I was a strong man, but not uncaring. I gave them the greatest pleasure before properly disposing of them. Some would call me a sinner, a criminal, a psychopath, a monster even. I call myself a human. For what is a monster but a human who’s cast off the shackles of society and rules brought on by a false God? If following the very call nature has given me is a blasphemy against that God, if it makes me a monster, so be it – I can be a monster, and I will regret none of it.

No. I had not come to the cathedral to be absolved of my sin. I had simply found myself lost. I daren’t say afraid, but it may be quite an apt statement, actually. Today, I saw a vision. I received a call from a higher power, one that I never imagined could exist. They had called me, I could still feel their pull in the cathedral. And yet, despite this overwhelmingly strong pull they had ingrained in me to find this Contact and do God-knows-what in the name of these eye-beings, my instinct to defy that pull was even stronger. So strong, that it made me brave the streets of Barcelona, crowded with people staring at the lights in the sky, to get to Sagrada Familia. To pray. And here I sit, in a church built to praise God and yet none would hail him here, an atheist begging for forgiveness, even though he does not regret his sin. How pitiful.

Having grown sick of my pathetic actions, I got up and rushed out of the church. I could not just sit there and wait for… What was I even waiting for? I knew I needed to find this Contact, so I did as my body told me. I let go, trying to embrace this new fate that I had been bestowed with. No sooner had I left the cathedral as two tall men in suits approached me.

“Mr. Desrosiers?” the taller one asked in a silky baritone. He was clearly an American, judging by how he’d butchered my name.

“Oh, so you have found me,” I grinned at them. They exchanged gazes and pulled out federal badges.
“On behalf of President Nguyen, we have come to escort you to your plane. You will fly to Washington to meet with the Contact.”

“Ah, finally,” I pretended to give out a sigh of relief. “The wait has been unbearable so far.”

They took me in to a very fancy, black, self-driving car. I tried to engage in small-talk with the two gentlemen, but they were not of the talkative sort. Thus the drive seemed very long and, dare I say, boring. The moment we reached a small, unmarked airport was one I welcomed with open arms. I got out of the car and lit a cigarette. I could see a single black speck fly across the sky that looked so unfamiliar to me because of all the lights. I could hardly comprehend how it was possible that all this was really happening, and yet I found that I was completely calm.

The plane finally arrived. The interior was simply exquisite with all its expensive furniture and well-placed lights. Two people were sitting at a table playing cards. One was a rather unattractive man about my age. His big blue eyes made his fat face look like that of a baby, especially coupled with that thin blond hair. But across of him sat a real gem, though a diamond still in the rough. A slender Asian beauty with silky black hair tied in a loose sideways ponytail. A woman in her thirties, her skin was fair and very smooth, from the looks of it. Her lips were full and inviting. Her breasts may have been small, but that didn’t make them any less firm and sensual. At least, that’s how they worked in my imagination. The sweater she was wearing was quite loose, though I often found that those who would choose to hide behind loose clothes turned out to be the wildest ones in bed.

The fat man got up and extended a stubby hand towards me. “Hi, I’m James. It’s nice to meet you.” His was from somewhere around London, from the sounds of it. I smiled. Of course he’s a Brit. You can tell from a distance.

“Michel,” I said as I returned the handshake. “Michel Desrosiers. It’s nice to meet you too. And you as well, Ms.” I turned to the Asian woman, extending my hand as if to hold her hand up to my lips and kiss it. She measured me with a mistrustful look and refrained from giving me her hand. She saw right through me.

“I’m Atsuko,” she said in a voice cold as ice.

I sat on the couch next to Atsuko and kept smiling as I watched them play war. I later joined them. Though James seemed like a dumb oaf who wouldn’t shut up, I would be lying if I said his conversations weren’t entertaining to me. Well, I thought, looks like this adventure may not be such a bad idea after all.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Path to Eden I - Candy

The lights in the sky woke me up. I lay on the hard surface of the roof, his lean body sprawled next to mine, naked, unaware of the magnificent spectacle I had just witnessed. I have encountered angels, my dear companion. And they have chosen me. I stood up and put on my cloak. Though it did little to shield my bare thighs from the chilly wind, I wasn’t bothered by it. Entranced with the glittering orbs, I paid little attention to my earthly body. I always knew I was part of something bigger.

I scanned the surface of the roof in search of my clothes. They didn’t fly very far away, which was pretty disappointing. Usually nights like this ended with me having to go home with nothing but my cloak on. I got dressed and did my hair up in twin tails, as I usually did. Not wanting to wake up the man with me, I just lay a kiss on his cheek and placed the ribbon he untied from my skirt yesterday in his hand, as a little gift. His face wasn’t nearly as cute as I remembered, but who cares? Everything has changed now.

The stairs leading down into the building were littered with all sorts of junk and quite a number of people. Some alone, some in couples, others yet in larger chaotic bundles of a non-descript shape. How beautiful it was to see such pure love and freedom. People free of their inhibitions, intoxicated by the raw sensuality of a party, letting loose, giving in to their most basic carnal desires. Absolutely marvelous. That reminded me of something I had to do, however. I entered the elevator. It was occupied, but I could still fit. I pushed the panel, ordering the elevator to reach the ground floor. I put on my glasses and as I waited for the OS to boot up, I glanced at the couple sprawled on the ground. Either of them could be male or female, it didn’t really matter. They were both topless, cuddled in a tight embrace, the tattoos mapped on their bare bodies blending into one another, as if they had been sown together from birth. In that little split second, I was wishing I could be another part of that perfect unity.

And then the glass OS UI showed up in front of my eyes. My message box was overflowing with people expressing their eagerness to  see me, or their shock at all the lights in the sky. I asked the glass to clear it all for me, as I didn’t have too much time. I needed to notify everybody that I wouldn’t be available tonight, or ever, for that matter, but that they shouldn’t worry. Your dear Candy is going places, the ending of the message read. Send, I thought, and the glass obeyed, sending the message to all the recipients.

The cool air hit me again when I exited the building. I covered my head with the large, furry hood my cloak came equipped with, but the real problem were the legs. Stockings were not the best idea at this time of day and at this time of year. My heart was still racing, though, and I really couldn’t care less about the cold at that point.

For all these years, all I had to go with were some hazy memories. Shady glimpses of a long hallway, strange lights, and lots of pain. I often forgot about all that and thought that it was all just a bad dream. That aliens didn’t exist. But my body knew. They changed it. And they did that for a reason that I might soon find out. And the most incredible thing about that vision last night? I saw her again. Angela. My hero. The one who drove us all out of that hellish place, who made it possible for me to survive all the hell I had to go through later on. I knew that wherever we were all going, we were following her lead, and that was enough for me to feel perfectly fine with that. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to find out what all this Contact business was about. So I made haste and made my way to where my gut was telling me to go.

I got on the monorail. The train was deserted and the city looked pretty bizarre in this light. The pale sky dotted with white orbs in the background made it look as if the whole city had a halo above its firmament, as if it had transcended into a higher being itself. I got off at the completely empty station. There wasn’t a soul to be seen in the pristine hall, shimmering like glitter after the night staff had polished every last tile. There was no soul save for one, I noticed. A girl was squatting in the corner, coughing a very nasty cough. She looked a tad younger than me. A high school student, perhaps? Her brown hair was done in two very nice and thick braids. Concerned, I walked up to her. She turned around, startled, and stared at me. At first glance I thought that I had found Angela. Her face was almost identical, if too young for how old Angela should be today. Then there were the eyes – instead of Angela’s deep brown, I was met with a forest green. After a moment of silence and an awkward stare-off, I knew who I was looking at.

“Ellie?” I asked. The girl put down the arm she was covering the lower part of her face with. She was very pale, with big shadows below her eyes. She stared at me with a puzzled expression, for what seemed like an eternity. Then, at last, her voice, weak and trembling, reached me.

“Do I know you?”