Authors: Dawn Gray
SPIRIT: FIRE STORM
By Dawn Gray
Edited by Melissa Ringsted
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The darkness was closing in, taking over the night sky, as I found myself standing on the dark green front lawn of an old brick church building. Most of the lights in the building were lit, giving the coming twilight an eerie feeling. I shivered as I glanced around.
The church was set atop a hill, looking over a small town, almost like the one where I had grown up in the mountains of northern Vermont. From where I stood I could see over the rooftops of the houses just one street below. Passed that were the lights of the town. The long covered bridge that crossed over the railroad tracks, which split the town, was down to my right and the body of water that the place was named after rippled its dark tentacles in the light of the moon.
I had no idea what I was doing there, or how I had come to be there to begin with, but as I breathed in the clear air, I picked up a hint of smoke. My black hair blended in with the bleakness that surrounded me. Suddenly, I noticed that everything I wore was black, right down to the socks. I shook my head, still completely unsure as to how I had woken up in a place believed to be over three hundred miles from the place I had fallen sleep.
It was then, as I stood becoming ever more concerned with my lack of memory, that the first explosion rocked the night. Stained glass burst from the building behind me, and instinctively I ducked down. Screams suddenly filled the quiet and I watched as parishioners scrambled out the doors of the building.
Struck by the sight of the brilliant bright orange and yellow flames that bellowed from the windows where only darkness had been before, I never saw the unruly crowd that came directly at me. Noise and movement filled my senses as the putrid smell of smoke filled my nose. The blinding light of the fire scarred my eyes while my limbs were frozen in place.
The first grasp I felt shook me from my hypnosis, as the hard grip on my bicep made my fingers tingle, but it was the strong arm that wrapped around my waist that shook me from my petrified state. I swung around to face the person behind me as I was pulled from, what looked like a herd of stampeding elephants, into the safety of the few trees that separated the law from the house just below.
His eyes were deep brown, reflecting the flames brilliantly as I stared down into them. His hair, just as dark as my own, fell down to touch his eyes in the front and seemed clean cut the rest of the way, giving the feeling of wanting to reach up and push the unruly locks back to get a better look. As it was, I couldn’t breath. His face was elegant, strong and purposeful, as if saving damsels in distress was something he did every night. I couldn’t help but want to caress the thin line of his lips as he looked down at me with scolding eyes.
Only slightly taller, his build was hard and muscular against my own, and I felt soft and pliable pressed so close. His strong arms had yet to let me go, and his eyes never wavered from mine. The cologne he wore seemed intoxicating as I suddenly breathed in deeply, aware of my surroundings and awkwardly aware of my savior.
“What are you doing here?” his masculine voice whispered, barely audible over the sound of the panicky crowd behind us, and I shook my head.
“I don’t even know where here is.” My heart quickened and I pressed my hands against his chest, pushing away from him. The moment I touched him, I could feel the heat coming from his body. “Let me go!”
His eyes turned from stern and commanding to slightly confused and dazed as his fingers wrapped around my wrist, taking my hands from his body. Suddenly, he backed away, seeming just as stunned as I, and he placed his hands on his hips as he looked up at the church. I turned cautiously, unsure of turning my back on the man who had saved me from a good trample and gasped at the sight of the flame-engulfed building.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked quietly, knowing my knight in shining armor could hear me quite clearly.
“Come on,” he whispered, placing a hand gently on my waist to push me in the direction the shrinking crowd was going. “We need to get away from here.”
I moved, my body on autopilot as my brain still struggled to comprehend all that had happened, and I began to descend the path to the road below. He stayed right behind me, his hand occasionally grazing against my back, or my bottom, just to let me know that he was there. Suddenly my fight or flight instincts kicked in and I stopped, mid-hill, and turned quickly to look at him. The stop was so sudden that the moment I turned I felt his arms circle my waist as he cushioned the blow, while he knocked into me, and into a tree.
I was pressed against the hard bark of the oak, my hands resting on his shoulders as his arms clamped around me. He sighed loudly in my ear as I felt him shake his head, back away and looked me straight in the eye with his eyebrows raised.
“I want to know where I am!” I demanded, and watched as his eyes glanced down on my lips. “And just who the hell you are!”
“Can we just get out of here, and I’ll explain everything?” he asked calmly.
“I’m not going anywhere with you! I don’t even know what the hell is going on here,” I responded, panic slowly creeping into my tone. I watched him sigh and close his eyes.
“Look lady, this isn’t the safest place to do this.”
“My name is not ‘lady’, its Samantha!” I snapped and pushed him away. He rubbed his forehead and followed me as I walked down the hill once again. Once more, I put on the brakes and felt my rescuer bump into me.
“You do that again, and I’m just going to knock you over!” he growled in my ear. When he noticed that I hadn’t even made a move to turn around, he glanced over at what I was looking at.
There, down at the bottom of the hill, five hundred feet into a cornfield was a circle of pressed corn stocks. In the middle, a large red Mack truck complete with flashing lights, sat.
“What the hell is that?” I questioned and again heard the man behind me sigh.
His black leather jacket crackled, and a voice boomed from the collar. “Zander, what’s your position?”
“Midway down from ground zero,” he answered, speaking as if he were talking for my ears only. As he stepped around too look me in the eyes I could see the expression of worry in his face. “Captain, I think we may have a problem.”
“Get your ass here now, Zander, we’ll figure out your problem when you arrive!” The authoritative voice commanded.
“Now, Lieutenant!” The voice barked.
“Yes sir.” He sighed and rubbed his neck. “Come on, I think I can help you with some of your answers.”
Instead of pressing me on, he gently took my hand and guided me along the path, weaving in and out of the alarmed crowd that had gathered at the bottom. I wanted to run away, to get as far away from the scene as possible, but the warm tingle that I felt from the hand that wrapped around mine seemed to make any coherent thoughts disappear.
I stopped when I could barely see the spot in the cornfield and watched as it faded in and out of sight, as if it were a large television screen with bad reception. I shook my head as Zander leaned close to my ear.
“Come on, Sam, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” he whispered, his warm breath teasing my chilled skin. I nodded, it seemed the only thing I could do, and grasped the wrist of the hand that held mine tightly.
“Zander? Is that your first name or last?” I questioned, suddenly feeling the fear creeping up inside as we moved threw the stocks.
“First,” he replied; a smile in his voice, probably glad that I wasn’t yelling at him anymore. “Lieutenant Zander Smith.”
“Samantha Ricketts,” I replied, and watched as he paused and turned to look at me. I waited for him to say something, ‘nice to meet you’ or ‘how wonderful for you’ but he said nothing, just stared. “I’m afraid.”
“There’s nothing to worry about,” he soothed, his voice calming but at the same time full of fire. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
He reached out and pushed a disheveled strand of my hair out of my face. It seemed at that moment, from that small gesture, I knew that he really wouldn’t. I was safe with him. I nodded, unable to speak, and he turned, continuing towards the strange lights in the field.
We passed several men with machine guns, dressed in dark camouflaged suits with night vision goggles, before we stood before the door on the side of the large tractor-trailer. Zander took in a large breath and glanced back at me, his eyes full of worry, and then stepped up and opened the door.
The light that cascaded out of the interior had a reddish tint, but I could make out the various colors on the instrument panel that Zander’s body blocked from view. He turned and looked back at me, reaching out a warm hand. As I slipped my small fingers into his, I felt him give a gentle squeeze of reassurance.
Five men sat in different places in the cramped interior of the trailer, but as I moved up close behind him, I could feel all five sets of eyes upon me.
“What’s the meaning of this, Smith?” An older man with a salt and pepper mustache and unlit cigar growled out.
“The problem I mentioned, sir,” Zander spoke up, glancing at me.
“Well, spit it out!”
Zander motioned to a seat in the corner, which I took, and closed my eyes trying to block out the scenes of the engulfed building from my mind.
“This is Samantha Ricketts, she doesn’t know how she got here, she doesn’t know where here is, and she can see us.” He sighed. This last statement made my head snap up and my eyes fly open.
“Of course I can see you, what kind of bullshit is that!” I snapped. Zander took in a deep breath, apparently used to my sudden outbursts already. “You’re not exactly invisible!”
“She can see us?” the Captain whispered, and went on to check all of the panels before him. “How can that be?”
“I’m not sure, sir,” Zander replied and stepped back towards me. His hand brushed my leg and slowly my heart slowed, as I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing. “I couldn’t leave her. She had this look of confusion and she was standing in the middle of the lawn when the explosives went off.”
“Lady…” Another one of the five spoke up, this one had dark eyes and dark hair, but it was cropped closed to his head. I shook my head.
“My NAME is Samantha!” I shouted, panic filling me once again. Zander’s hand grasped mine as a look of shock spread across his face. “Seriously, the next person to call me lady is going to get laid out! Would you please, just tell me what is going on!”
“Ok.” The Captain sighed. “Could I ask one question first?”
“Sure, fire away!” I replied sarcastically. The man looked from my face, to the man beside me and down at our joined hands.
“How did you see this vehicle?” I closed my eyes, trying hard not to be a smart ass. Apparently seeing my struggle, he reworded his question. “What did you see when you looked down at this field?”
“A distorted picture, like a fuzzy television station. I could see everything clearly, but then it warped and faded a bit,” I whispered, trying to find the right words. With a sigh, I glanced up at him, then over at Zander, who gave me a slight smile. “What is this place?”
“It’s an experiment.” The one who had called me ‘lady’ spoke up. He turned in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “The dishes on top of the truck give off a signal, telling the minds of those in the surrounding area that what their mind sees isn’t there. Basically, the signal brainwashes people to ignore us completely.”
“Brainwashing?” I questioned, looking at him as if he were insane. “If you were brainwashing people, then why did I see you?”