A young man dies, but that is when his life really begins
Conquest of Chimera
Curtis Ray Jones
Genesis 11: 6
And the Lord said, Behold the people is one, and they have all one language: and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do…
It was 1:A.M..., the last 12 hour day of Kian West’s seven day shift. He only had one more mile to drive before he could go home and fall into bed. But home seemed a million miles away.
His eyelids sagged like concrete curtains. The fingers tips of his right hand were sliding off the bottom of his stirring wheel. His is left arm already lay limp and useless in his lap.
The cool breeze flowing into his open truck window was supposed to be chilling and invigorating but combed through his long brown hair like soothing fingers numbing his senses massaging his mind away from this world as if preparing it for another.
His head wobbled as his truck slowed drifting closer and closer to the shoulder. Finally his foot slipped off the accelerator. His body slumped. His eyes closed as his truck veered off the pavement.
If only he had managed to drive another twenty feet his truck would have rolled off the road and into a thick wall of springy saplings and come to harmless stop. Instead the truck jerked and shimmied on the loose gravel jolting him awake. He slammed his foot against the accelerator thinking it was the brake sending the truck roaring down a steep 80 foot ravine where it plowed into a stump tumbled onto to its’ side, up ended, slammed into the ground and rolled again. The impact slung the driver’s door open and flung him from the cab.
Mercifully his head bounced off the door frame, knocking him out cold just before he cart wheeled over the truck slammed head first into a massive oak at the bottom of the ravine. He never felt a thing. A split second later the truck slid around punched though the darkness and crushed his helpless body against the trees’ rough unyielding trunk then tumbled to the bottom of the ravine.
Kian’s time in this world was suddenly over. Two days would pass before anyone would find his body- just another statistic. But Kian West was not just another anything…
When he was only a one month old he did something impossible. Bound up like a tiny mummy in his blue baby blanket he experienced his first emotion –boredom. His eyes had just begun to focus clearly; unfortunately the white featureless ceiling was all he could see.
He tried to turn his head but his mother’s loving hands had wound the blanket so tight that rolling his eyes and breathing was the only motion he could manage. Paralyzed by love but determined to see anything new, he closed his eyes and reached out with his mind.
Suddenly he found himself looking down on snuggly swaddled baby lying in a crib; saw a blue oval shaped rug beneath the crib and saw a changing table by a window. Bright morning sunlight streaked through the window painting a golden square on the floor-his bedroom floor!
It was then he knew he did not need words in his head to know that he was floating above his body clinging to the ceiling like a balloon-that he didn’t need wings to fly or even a body!
He would be teenager before he heard the words astral projection. But the day he heard them and learned what they meant he would look back on this morning and think, “oh yeah, I did that when I was a baby, but do I really want do it again? Do I really want to go there? What sort of baby does that? What sort of person am I?”
Though he had spent most of his adult life trying to be just another guy struggling to make a dollar, passing himself off as normal, he always knew that he was not. However he also knew that whatever the future held for him that dwelling on his ‘specialness’ would only hinder him from making the most of the world he was born into. It was not like he could float out of his body at will nor do other supernatural stuff.
Now here he was in the last day of his life looking down on his bloody mangled corpse, seeing through the darkness as though it was broad daylight, floating on the air like a wisp of smoke and wishing he had least tried to explore his talent rather running from it, rather than fearing it was a curse.
“Is that really me,” he wondered aloud unable to find a face on the poor shattered head he used to live in. “Yeah that’s Thelma West’s little boy, the only family she’s got-no, had! Oh Mom I’m sorry, should have spent last weekend with you, like you asked, huh! Should have seen this coming, maybe if I had reached out and grabbed it, learned how to use it, maybe I’d be alive right now. Still it doesn’t take a psychic to know too many hours and too little sleep is bound to end badly-moron! Was I trying to kill myself, well there lies your answer, crushed and broken on the ground.” He said as he eased down toward the bloody mess that used to be his body. “I guess I was. Running from reality is never a good thing, even if your reality simply can’t be real. Now what, I just float around these woods and scare the crap out of people. I don’t want to do that. I want to go Heaven. Okay God here I am, I messed up but I’m ready to take whatever you have for me, I guess…”
Silence, night was closing in, his light was fading. A new deeper darkness settled down, until he could no longer see his remains or anything else. Cloaked in blackness he drew back drifting up away from the horror, away from wreck away from the earth. It was time to go, but where? Nothingness suddenly claimed him sucked out of this world then spat him out…
Smooth coolness pressed against his face. Sweet floral fragrance tantalized his nostrils. Softness kissed his cheek. A moan escaped from the deepest part of his being. Pink light filtered through his eyelids. The darkness had lifted, or had he escaped it, had someone saved him from it? Was he alive-again!
The softness he felt pressing against his face, was now pressing against his chest, his arms his legs! He was alive, he was alive! He was lying face down beneath a sheet in a bed. Drawing his hands together, he pushed up, opened his eyes and saw white everywhere.
Rolling over as he surveyed his surroundings he saw that he was in a huge crescent shaped white room. Then he looked past the end of his bed and noticed that the room bowed out toward a huge curved window affording him an unobstructed view of a clear blue sky.
“This is not like any hospital I’ve ever seen,” he said as he slid out of bed and discovered he was wearing white pajama bottoms and nothing else. “But this has to be a hospital, what else could it be?”
He started to call out but changed his mind. He’d look around first. Someone had placed him here, who or why he did not know. All he did know was that he was back in his body and was uninjured and able to walk; he’d explore a bit, try and get a better feel for the place. They would come to him when they were ready to reveal themselves. No need to press the issue or his luck. Besides he wanted to stretch his legs, they felt funny-different somewhat.
The soles of his bare feet flattened against a cool smooth ceramic floor that curved up into slick dull white wall that rose about ten feet then curved up and over his head until it curved back down to become the huge picture window bowing out ten feet from the foot of his bed.
He looked for a door but saw none. Apparently he was trapped in curved capsule roughly three times the size of a school bus. He had never been in anything like this. Something strange had happened, even stranger than floating out of his dead body. But at least he wasn’t dead now, was he?
He looked down at his hands and did not recognize them. Holding them up to his face he searched in vain for some familiar detail, a scare, a callous or a hang nail. The hands were flawless sturdy and masculine but not his. Suddenly he wanted out. He walked to the window hoping to find some way to open it.
Seeing not the slightest crack or crevice in the glass he peered out and saw a scallop shaped balcony jutting out eight feet from the window like a pouting lower lip. It had no corners but curved gently up from the floor to form a chest high rounded railing resembling the front of a sled. Now he really wanted to get out. He reached out to touch the glass and to his utter amazement the moment his fingertips made contact they pushed right through. The transparent material was not glass but some sort of invisible film-something similar to the surface of a soap bubble. But this bubble did not burst when he touched it simply parted and slid over his fingers like elastic.
“Okay,” he said, “the window is the door,” He stepped forward feeling the membrane slide over his skin allowing a warm breeze to sweep over his half -dressed body, “and this place cannot be Earth”. He said stepping unto the balcony, having no idea what might happen next, but relieved to be outside.
Easing up to the railing he reached out and grasped its’ smooth curved surface then bent over looked down and saw nothing but a field of fluffy white cloud stretching to the horizon. How high up was he?
“Maybe this is heaven.” He said pressing his right hand to his face, and feeling nothing familiar beneath his fingertips. “Of course, new hands new face,” he jerked is arms up “new arms”, he said his voice quivering with disbelief, as the enormity of his situation began to settle in. He looked down and saw a body he had never seen before.
“How can this be?” The question was still hanging in his mind when he noticed an odd little cloud undulating against the distant blue. A weak smile lifted the corners of his lips as he assumed he was looking at a dove.
The bird was a welcome distraction until he realized it was growing larger that it was flying straight at him. Was it going to attack him? Doves, attack, he thought not. Its’ very presence, spoke of peace and tranquility. The way it moved was soothing, appealing even narcotic so much so he found he could not look away.
There was also something sweet and familiar about the creature. Warm memories began to flood his mind as it grew larger. But it began to look less and less like a bird, if not a bird then what?
Suddenly his body went slack. His eyes widened. His mouth dropped open. His mind struggled to accept the impossible image hovering before him; a winged women dressed in a flowing white gown was gracefully flapping toward him.
“How can you fly, what are you?” he asked as she glided closer and closer until she slid up close enough to the balcony to reach out and touch him. “Are you an angel?”
A gentle smile lifted her perfect delicate features as she glided over him and looked down. Her smile spread into a grin as he realized she was inspecting him.
“Hey lady what are you doing?” he asked feeling a bit embarrassed, “just because I don’t have a shirt doesn’t mean you have to gawk. He said as his face turned red.
She giggled, fluttered down behind him. He jerked around just as the fingers of her right hand gently racked across his shoulder blades.
“Fly.” She whispered into his left ear. Her breath smelled of jasmine, warm and soft as a summer breeze.
“You can speak!” He said as he spun around and found himself face to face with her as she fluttered just above to floor.
She tilted her head, letting her long golden hair spill across her right shoulder. “Fly.” Her voice was sweet and musical but also commanding.
“I don’t have wings. I cannot fly, wow you’re pretty.” He blushed as the last three words came out of him as easily as an exhalation.
“Pretty. Wow. Fly.” She said lifting her chin as her pale blue eyes rolled skyward.
He tried to step back but could not force himself to draw away from her. She drew closer, lowering her body but lifting her arms as she neared.
“What are you doing? He asked as he felt her hands glide around his bare torso around his ribs and up his back.
“Wings,” She said flatly as she slid her fingertips into his flesh, then quickly jerked them away just before his back slits opened and his wings instantly unfurled.
He stumbled back. She grasped his hands and pressed them to her bosom as she peered up at him with such tenderness, he could not help but relax, a little. “Fly,” she pleaded. “Wow?” She asked with disarming timidity, as she reacted to the shock on his face.
“What was that? What did you do?” Kian asked searching her delicate face and seeing a perfect blend of familiar details on a face that he had never seen before. “Who are you? What are you?”
He glanced over his right shoulder; saw his new wings jerked his face back towards hers, just as he wings collapsed back into their skin slits. “Can’t be, Am I dead? Yeah, that’s right I died.”
She just smiled at him, her soft eyes inexplicably penetrating yet comforting as a mother’s embrace.
“I know you, don’t I?”
She shook her head. A small delicate smile gently lifted features.
“I do. You are…who?”
Blinking her eyes she eased away from him. Her smile flattened as emotions clouded her face.
“You’re learning, aren’t you? Did you just get here too? Did you die too? All this is new to you isn’t it?” He reached back and forced himself to touch his right wing. “Well not all, you did know about my wings.” He said the word wings as if he were saying horns.
“New,” she asked. Sadness watered eyes.
The pitifulness in her voice squeezed his heart. “I know you, but I don’t.” He said again as he cupped her right cheek and wiped away a tear drop before it could roll down to her chin.
She laid her head against his hand as if it were a pillow. There was no doubt. She was drawn to him, so much so that he had watched her fly to him from who knows where, but why?
“You need me?” He asked her. “But you don’t know me.”
She drew closer to him as he spoke, until her head lay against his bare chest. Her warmth and the softness of her body against his drew his arms up and around her.
He started to speak but knew that was not what he really wanted to do. Apparently they both wanted the same thing. She lifted her face toward his as he bowed down and pulled her up. He pressed his lips against hers. Suddenly his lungs swelled with her breath. She was inside him. Then she inhaled drawing his breath deep into her body as they melted into each.
After a few moments they relaxed away from each other, but only by inches. “Kian,” she whispered, “I am here.”
And in that moment he knew she came from him. He did not know how, much less why. He only knew this must be how Adam felt when God first presented Eve to him.
But he was not Adam. This place was not Eden and whoever whatever brought them here was not God! Still he knew she somehow came from him and was…he could hardly fathom the implications…was somehow, for some unknown reason she had been made for him.
“Someone is trying to play God.” He said, his eyes scouring her face for answers he already knew he would never find there.
He saw fear in her eyes as his voice rose with anger. “This is not right.”
She shrank away.
“No, little one” he pleaded, reaching out to her as he spoke, “I’m not angry with you. They did this to you too, apparently because of me. Yeah, that’s got to be it; they are trying to accommodate me.” He gently grasped her hands and drew her back to him. “No more like manipulate me,” he muttered under his breath. “Can you tell me where you came from, your name your past? I bet you have a lot more words now, am I right?”
Bending her head down as if she were letting her mouth fill up with words, she said nothing for a while then…
“I can take you there.” She finally said through a spreading smile. Clearly she was delighted by her new found vocabulary. “Thank you. You have given me words. I can talk.”
“Don’t thank me, little one,” He kissed her forehead, “but don’t thank them either. And we’re back to my question. You can take me there? Can you take me to them?”
She shook her head. “Them? I only remember the empty place where I awoke, the plateau.”
“Now there’s a new word.” He said as he led her to the window.
“You gave it to me. Can you give me a name too?”
“What, you, you have amnesia?”
“No I have no name.” She paused and peered out the window, “I have no past. I feel nothing beyond this morning, nothing beyond the plateau. All I feel is new.”
“Yeah that makes sense, makes me angry too. You are a person, not a product. I am so sorry. This is my fault. All this is about me and my weird childhood, should have dealt with my ability then, but I ran from it. You would not be in this mess if it weren’t for me.”
She blinked and turned toward him. “But if were not for you I would not be. That was the first thing I knew, that my beginning, my home was beyond the place of my waking, across the sky, here with you. I owe my existence to you.”
“You owe me nothing. They drew you from me and they forged the bond between us. I won’t hold you to it.”
“But that is all I have. Would you drive me away just to get back at them?”
“No, of course not, but this whole thing is so plastic. None of it is real.” He said as he looked down at his new hands and grunted. “I’m not even real. I am not myself anymore, just what they made.”
“Then I am just a dream, a fantasy.” She backed away, looking down at the floor as if she were ashamed.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then what are you saying. If all this is not real, nothing more than a dream, then wakeup and end me!”
“Of course you can’t, but would you if you could?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then the life you had before was better than this, better than me?”
He shook his head, “No, it was actually kind of empty-hollow as a tube and just as predictable, in one end and out the other, predictable but safe. Born live and die. Except I had a boat load of questions I dare not ask aloud.”
“Don’t you think you are much more likely to find your answers here than there?”
He looked up at her and grinned, “You know you’re pretty smart for a newborn. Thing is, I’m not sure I want to know the answers.”
“Whatever it is, it brought me into being and brought us together. That is a good thing. We must live where you are. The how and the why are matters for another day. And are they not questions you can finally ask out loud.”
“You got me there. Okay then one problem at a time. What would you like me to call you?”
“Wife,” she answered without hesitation.
“Are your sure? We did just meet.”
“No Kian, we did not just meet. You have been carrying me around inside of you your entire life; all the parts that make me who I am.”
“Well I’m not calling you daughter!”
She made a face, “no please don’t do that. This is new, something they made happen, but nothing we can escape or undo.”
“A new reality, then what do I call you?”
“Kia,” she said rearing back and fanning her wings out until they arched over her head.
“You want to be named after a car, oh after me I get it. Still, that’s better than Composite, which is what you are.” He said as he stepped back to better admire her beauty.
“They, these makers, my makers, must have complete access to your mind. But then you are a sender.”
“A what,” he asked.
“That word just popped into my head.”
“And it means I send?” Kian nodded his head, “Send what, my thoughts my memories, my experiences, my location on Earth. They must have been tracking me, monitoring me since birth.”
Kia lowered her wings until they disappeared behind her, “Apparently.”
“Well then, what do we do with that?”
“Forget it. We can nothing about it anyway. Kian I just want to live, explore learn and be with you. I love you. I cannot help that. I simply do!”
“You were designed to love me,” He said, unconsciously backing away from her.
“It doesn’t matter Kian. It is deeper than that. Don’t you think? I feel what I feel. I want what I want. I want you. I want this world. Its’ mystery beckons me. Do you not want to know what lies beneath the clouds? ”
“I want you safe Kia. That is enough for me. You’re the one thing I want I never had back on Earth.”
“We were given wings Kian not just each other. I know they want us to fly. But you don’t want to cooperate, do you? You had rather die here just to spite them. That is foolish. ”
“Maybe, but for the rest of my life every choice I make will be choices they set up for me to make. I, we are just gold fish in a bowl, their bowl.”
“But we don’t know how big that bowl is Kian. Besides it doesn’t matter. We are here. We go from where we grow. I am brand new and even I now that.”
“You’re not new Kia you are just as old as I am, I just didn’t know you were there-inside me, but they did. But you’re right. Moving is forward is flying downward. There must be a whole world down there beneath the clouds. But first,” he looked down at his bare chest.
“But first we explore your room,” she said as turned her attention toward the wall, “surely they have more for us than each other.”
Kian laughed, “Well, that’s one way to put it.”
“I’m getting hungry and this silly gown is getting in my way.” She said as wound up her gown up to her knees and walked to the back of the room.
“The window is not just a window,” Kian said as he stepped up beside her.
“And the wall is not just a wall,” she murmured, as she pressed the fingertips of her right hand against the walls smooth ceramic surface and watched a chest high six foot by six foot section of it vanish.
“Now how did they know you were looking for clothes,” Kian said, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he reached into their newly discovered closet and pulled out a tan leather tunic and pants. “These are not clothes these are costumes. Soft though,” he mused as remove the outfit from it wooden rack.
“I get pants too,” Kia said as she pulled a much smaller outfit from the opposite end of the closet.
“Leather,” Kian said as much to himself as to her, “Must be pretty rustic down there. They want us to blend in.”
Kia was hardly listening. She had already focused all her attention on the bottom of the closet where she spotted a pair of small leather boots, “Not exactly delicate footwear.”
“Rough terrain,” Kian said not trying to hide the apprehension in his voice.
“But we can fly,” said Kia, holding her tunic by the wings holes in its back.
“I’m guessing there’s a lot of dense forest down there.”
“Trees and grass covered hills you think,” Kia said, dropping her gown without giving him the slightest warning.
Kian jerked his face away as he covered his eyes, “What are doing?” he yelled.
She looked at, her face a perfect question mark, “trying on my news clothes, what are you doing?”
“Girl put some clothes on, really. You maybe new born but you aren’t a little baby.”
“No I’m not but apparently you are. I said I was your wife. Why do you hide your face?”
“Just get dressed, I’m sorry. This is all new to me, okay; please don’t get your feelings hurt.”
“No” she said wriggling into her pull over tunic as she talked. “But I don’t understand, does my nakedness offend you. We are married, husband.”
“Well not formally, and I’m just not used to this.”
“But you held me, kissed me. You do want me, don’t you? You do love me don’t you?”
“Oh yes,” he said lowering his hand and slowly looking toward her. “Oh boy, you are so cute,” he said as she drew up beside him wearing nothing but her thigh length leather tunic.
“Then love me husband.”
“They’re watching Kia. And I won’t put on a show for them.”
“Again you punish me to get back at them. They have already seen everything.”
“They haven’t seen that!”
“Then it will never happen?”
“I didn’t say that Kia.”
“Yes you did. They will always be there. They will always watch. And we don’t even know what they are. They may not even be human. They probably could not care less what we do. No more they we care about what ants do in their ant hill. We cannot live like this. Kian I told you. I want to live.” Even though he heard anger in her voice she drew closer reaching out to him as she neared. How could he not succumb?
Afterwards, he awoke on the bed. Her tiny frame gentled nestled on his right arm. A gleaming fan of golden hair covered her face. He smoothed it away and kissed her cheek.
“Kia,” he whispered, “Wake up.”
She grunted and rolled off his arm and promptly fell back to sleep.
He shrugged and rolled of the bed, stepping on his pajamas, “Shows’ over guys,” he said glaring at the ceiling as he pulled up his pants then snatched up her gown from the floor and gently spread over her petite beautifully toned body.
“Shower, shower, I want a shower, and a cup of coffee, and a doughnut, and maybe a couple eggs, bacon, toast and butter, real butter. Putting in an order here, I know your listening.” Striding away from the bed he approached the wall and reached out as if he were reaching for a door knob. An eight foot by four foot opening appeared. He stepped through it and found he was standing at bathroom sink, replete with a typical mirrored medicine cabinet.
A tall handsome heavily muscled stranger stared back at him. “There you are. Okay, okay, it is an improvement. “At least you let me keep my hair.” He said racking his thick fingers though his long brown locks.
Scanning the rest of the ten foot by ten foot room he found the bathroom was just that a bathroom, nothing fancy. It was functional and plain, just your run of the mill bathroom complete with curtain enclosed shower, soap, shampoo, toilet paper towels, razor and wash clothes under the sink, two toothbrushes and toothpaste on the counter and toilet facing the door, which was now bare wall again.
He assumed he would he would find a similarly simple kitchen, after his shower. That is exactly what he found a short time later.
The sweet smell of coffee and bacon soon filled their room. Kia breathed in its fragrant aroma batted her eyes and sucked a deep invigorating breath. Rising up from the bed she smiled when she noticed the gown that Kian had covered her body in. She pulled it to her neck and slid out bed and headed for the large curved opened that led to fully furnished twelve foot by twelve foot kitchen and dining area.
Silently padding up behind him she whispered in his ear, “You know I have never eaten, but I am so hungry.”
“So hungry you willing to try anything even my cooking, huh?”
He turned to kiss her but turned away suddenly.
“What is wrong?”
He scratched his freshly shaved chin. “Your breath, it’s ah not great. Tell you what go freshen up and I’ll finish breakfast.”
“Oh. I can do that. I’m sorry,” her eyes wondered about.
“It’s right next door Kia, just walk up to the wall and reach out.”
Blushing she eased out of the kitchen.
A short time later she returned looking like a Native American princess, clad in leather from foot to wrist. He was already seated at the table situated at the center of the kitchen.
“With a set up like this,” he said as she took her seat directly across from, “they must not want us to leave. I mean we have everything we need.”
She sighed, “You’re going to take my appetite. I thought we had settled this. I love being with you, but not as a bird in a cage. They are just giving us choices.”
“And every choice has a consequence. What if we leave and they lock the door behind us, what then?”
“Simple, we make a new home, our own home down there. Least it would our home we made with our own hands, not a prison they made with our fears.”
“You mean my fears, my fears for you.”
“Hush, I am hungry and tired of arguing.”
“Fine we leave,” he hesitated, “first thing in the morning.”
Kia rolled her eyes at him, “You think I’ll change my mind by then.”
“Maybe Kia, why rush it. Besides I haven’t flown yet, I need the practice.”
She shrugged a reluctant approval, “That is true, very well husband, Kian. We wait.”