Authors: Lindsay Blanc
© Copyright 2015 by Lindsay Blanc - All rights reserved.
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(Can be read as a standalone book)
By: Lindsay Blanc
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Table of Contents,
This book’s Riddle
What is as big as you are and yet does not weigh anything?
Captivated by the Alien Lord
An Editorial by Lilian Marks.
Tonight I journeyed all the way to the west coast—Seattle to be exact, a city us New Yorkers snobbishly forget exist more often then we’d like to admit.
But I digress.
My first encounter with performance artist Lacey Dane was on a flyer outside a small café on Main Street. It had been taped to a light pole, “Missing Person” style. Normally I wouldn’t stop to read papers on light posts, but this flyer was more than that.
In fact, it wasn’t made of paper at all, but of some amalgam of metals and jewels. The thing glinted in whatever sunlight bled through the heavy bank of clouds. Someone had melded the compact piece to the wood itself, yet that shouldn’t have been possible.
The curves and cuts of every forced substance guided my eye from the top left corner of the piece to the bottom right, taking me on a chaotic journey in between that ended in an address, a date, and a name.
Marak burst through the heavy doors of their brand new conference room. It belonged to the first Kaharan settlement on Earth in eight hundred years. He let the heavy oak door slam behind him as he joined his colleague and old classmate at the center table.
“Glad to see you finally decided to come,” he said as his eyes followed Marak.
Marak sat down across from him, an apologetic grimace on his face. “No need for the sarcasm, Turen,” he said, going right for the map right in front of the both of them. He scanned the curves and jagged edges that represented the dynamic Alaskan country side they had managed to inhabit.
Turen ducked his head. “I’ve been sitting here twenty minutes. I think I’ve earned a little sarcasm.”
Marak let out a dry chuckle. “Twenty minutes isn’t even long enough for a human to finish a meal.”
Turen raised one of his bushy brows. “You have officially spent too much time in that city.”
Marak lifted his eyes from the map. “
has a name: Seattle, and you’ll need to learn these things if you want to be a convincing human.”
Turen rolled his eyes. “Who wants to be a convincing human?”
“We all do…if we want this settlement to survive.”
Turen glanced out the window on the back wall.
Marak followed his gaze, taking in the rolling, snow covered hills and the sun reflecting off of their glistening tops.
Turen shook his head. “It’s a long shot.”
Marak chuckled. “Is that another one you learned from your human girlfriend?”
Turen’s lips folded into an impish grin. “She isn’t my girlfriend, just the governor’s secretary…and I haven’t seen her since the commander came down and fixated him.”
Marak stifled a groan. “Don’t remind me. It’s been almost five weeks since he gave us this land, and I still don’t have a single idea for town hall.”
Turen grimaced. “Is it really that serious? Just use some Roman columns. The humans love those.”
Marak shook his head, staring intently at nothing in particular. “No. No, it’s gotta be more than that. I want something that will camouflage us, of course…but I also want something more. When the others are ready to settle, I want them to be reminded of home. I want them to adopt this place as their own. They have to. It’s the only chance we have at surviving.”
Turen nodded and then glanced at his watch. “Well that’s all the time we have for our
Marak shrugged as he stood up. “I have been surveying. There’s no one else around here. And you know about town hall.”
Turen frowned, nodding. “And I’m still working on a pipeline to get water in and out without it freezing in the process.” He paused, glancing back at the map. “It’s no wonder no one lives this far north.”
“Well, it looks like neither of us have made any progress,” Marak said, his hand on the door. “I doubt we even needed the full thirty minutes.”
Turen chuckled. “Are you kidding? I love waiting for you.”
Marak opened the door. “I hope you’re right.”
After another hour of staring at a blank grid of paper, Marak decided he could get nothing done in a place where the nearest real source of inspiration was a hundred miles away. So, he jumped into the jet Turen had modeled and had named Trump 2.0 after some American billionaire.
He flew it across the Alaskan border, over Canada and into Washington. He landed in a small airport for private flyers, showed the taxi his fake American ID, and retrieved the Volvo he had left there the last time he had made an impromptu urban excursion.
He frowned as he pulled his car into a parking garage and stepped out into the drizzles. He longed for the days of the Kaharan sun high in the sky, the breeze frigid but dry. He longed for a lot of things, but it was less than prudent to wish for things he knew he would never have again.
He raised an eyebrow at the city hall building. From across the street, and through the blanket of clouds, Malak could see the fifty micro-steps that led up to the glass doors, the mix of steel, glass, white brick, and stucco that made up the rest of the building, and the sharp corners and edges that grounded it in space. It looked more like a villain’s layer or a modern museum than the place where the mayor held office.
As he got closer, he noticed someone sitting on the top steps. Her lion’s mane of hair flowed down her shoulders and back. When he was within hearing distance, he saw that she was eating an ice cream cone…outside…in the rain.
“That’s an interesting choice for a snack.” He stood close enough to smell the soft scent of cigarette smoke emanating from her hair.
She glanced up at him: a flick of her eye, a snap of her head. It was so quick, Marak forgot she was human, only for a second. But then he saw her eyes. More gold than pupil, they practically glistened from the inside out.
“Ice cream is the best thing to happen to us since fire,” she said, her smokey voice wrapped in an accent he had never heard before.
Marak laughed at this. “I’ll have to disagree with you on that.”
A drop of it landed on one of the four rings on her right hand. She twisted her wrist and licked it off, expertly drawing her lips back to prevent the dark red lipstick from landing on the back of her hand. “Now, what could be better than ice cream?” A mischievous grin stretched across her face.
Marak raised an eyebrow. “The wheel?”
“You’re an architect, aren’t you?” She stood up.
Marak raised an eyebrow. “How could you know that?”
She shrugged. “I dunno. That grid pad in your hand…” She cocked her head to the side, thinking. “No. It’s the sweater.”
Marak furrowed his brow. “What is it about the sweater?”
She narrowed her eyes, examining him. “It’s too nice. You wouldn’t be coming here in a thing like that unless you were trying to building something, or tear it down.”
“Do I detect disdain?”
She bit her plump bottom lip, looking away in embarrassment. “Oh no! My liberal is showing.”
Marak raised both of his eyebrows. “So I’m a conservative, too?”
She took the last big bite of her cone, chomping down on it while she wiped her hands on a paper towel. “It’s the sweater,” she said, her voice dripping with humor.
Before Marak could think of anything remotely funny enough to retaliate with, she slipped something out of her leather messenger bag.
“Here,” she said.
He examined the piece of…well, he didn’t know what to call the six inch by six inch slab of metals, jewels, and cloth. He gazed at it, the piece daring him to decipher it. He wanted to ask her to explain, but by the time he looked up again, she had already reached the bottom of the stairs. She ran across the street.
The thought of following her did cross his mind, but by the time he had run his calculus, she had already disappeared all together. He glanced back at the piece of metal.
On the bottom right corner was an address, today’s date, and a name: Lacey Dane.
Lacey practically toppled over the edge of the toilet seat. She clutched the dirty porcelain with both hands and gaped at the undisturbed pool of water.
She had heaved out the entire contents of her dinner.
Better now than during.
She continued to shake afterward, a family of dry heaves following suit. Her body continued to tremble as she stood up and made her way to one of the rows of sinks and mirrors and stared at herself. Aside from the light film of sweat, she remained intact.
Her mane of curly, black hair had retained it shape and shine, her gold eyes looked as off-putting as ever, and she had managed to protect her satin dress from wrinkles and stains…but a nagging worry in the back of her mind still plagued her. It urged her to go back into that bathroom stall, where a prominent part of her wanted to stay for the rest of the evening.
She sucked in a deep breath, putting in a conscious effort to control the energy coursing through her body for the first time in years. Everything from the fluorescent light to the rush of the water kept her heart coursing in overdrive, preventing her from seeing anything clearly.
“Oh God.” She blinked about a million times, her hands clutching the sink. It was coming, but way too early. The energy set her lungs on fire. Her blood boiled, the thin, hot liquid slipping and sliding its way through her.
She bit her lip. She had a show to do. It couldn’t come now. She held on to herself as much as she possibly could, holding her breath, squeezing her eyes shut, anything but shouting out.
Sometimes she wondered if there were others like her out there. Sometimes she wished her parents hadn’t thrown her out of their home before she’d had a chance to find out for herself. Because then maybe she would know how to control herself. Because then she wouldn’t be alone.
A rush of anger flooded the energy. The anti-force soaked in that trembling feeling, like a bagel to coffee. She let out a deep breath and let her eyes flicker open. She glanced around her, looking for some massive destruction. When she confirmed that the bathroom wasn’t entirely annihilated, she let out another breath of relief. But then she got a good look at the sinks.
All the faucets had been bent and contorted.
With a huff, she flipped her hair and slipped out of the bathroom. Outside, her show was in full swing. Elites from all over the country wandered around, taking in her fusion art with a grain of salt and a glass of champagne.
She cleared her throat at the waiter who walked right by her. He stopped so that she could collect two glasses for herself. She shot back the contents of both of them and managed to drop them on his tray before he got too far away. With the fizz bubbling through her, she took her stance in the center of the floor.
With her frizzy head, her bright red satin dress, and her arm of jewelry, she was hard to miss. Before too long, the room of eighty or so people had all turned their attention to her. The tech guy turned down the lights, just enough so that the small stones imbedded into her gown glowed.
There hung a constellation of metal objects above her head, everything from scrap metal to cookware to old weapon parts to things, like phones and rings and car keys, people paid hundreds, or thousands, of dollars to get their hands on.
Across from her hung the Frick, her pride and joy, her “life’s work.” The massive amalgam of canvas, glistening metals, jewels and oil paint dominated the back wall of the gallery, the strong colors demanding attention.
She tipped her head back, hoping what she had stifled in the bathroom still hid somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind. She let her heartbeat pick up, willing the excitement and the anxiety to take control of her yet again.
The objects circled around her head. A draft tore through the room, facilitated by two massive fans on either side.
She continued to throw things around with her mind and let the wind take the credit. Phones and pots swung dangerously close to heads, beads rolled around the marble ground, but the knives—the knives were all hers.
She caught the barrel of a gun with her teeth, much to the crowd’s amazement. She walked around in a circle, the knives following her around. She reached behind her, her hands catching her fall just above her head, holding her body in a backbend. No sooner had she landed like this did a chord holding one of the daggers, sending the knife straight down toward her chest.
She wasn’t looking, but she could hear it through the amazed reaction of the crowd; she could feel it with the shifting energies of her body. At the last second, she flipped her legs over her head and reached for the dagger, grabbing it by its handle before the blade could hit the ground.
The quick gasp morphed into applause as she took her bow. The tech guy pulled the lights back up, and she got out of that room as soon as she possibly could. She stood outside in that chilly drizzle with her head turned up.
She held her Marlboro Black in between her first and second fingers, flipping open her lighter and setting the poison alight in one swift motion. She sucked in a breath of the cig and then a breath of the air, letting it all calm her nerves. She would go back in when she could hold a conversation without giving anything away. After three or four more puffs, she was starting to get a hold of herself.
After her last puff, she turned to head back inside.
The man from city hall stood at the top of the staircase, towering over her, his brilliant sapphire eyes glistening in the warm light and a smile stretched across his face. Her heart stopped. She couldn’t believe it.