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Untitled

by Anistasia Allread

fire_in_the_sky.jpg

Sample of a new project I'm working on.
Would like feedback

Mike looked up at the darkening sky. The sun had settled behind the western hills turning the expanse a brilliant red which was fading quickly. He started the quad and turned on the headlight before starting back to the barn.

His stomach reminded him that it was indeed late and that his mom’s hearty meal would be a warm, welcome treat. He was hoping for mashed potatoes and perhaps the rib eye steaks that he had pulled out of the freezer that morning.

A warm breeze buffeted him as he rode, inundating his nose with the smell of dry grass, the muskiness of the small river that ran through the property. The old bridge made up of creosote railroad ties was just ahead, dividing the back pasture from the front. The scent of blackberries now mingling with the other smells. Now being late July, the cattle had been moved to the back pasture for the past two months as the front pasture grew long and had been mowed down once and was, if the weather held, scheduled to be mowed and hayed again in another month. The resulting hay had been finally moved into the barn last week. Mike’s muscles were shrugging off the last bit of achiness from that yearly chore.

His brother John along with his best friends, Randy, Austin and even Sharlee spent almost a week, stacking bales onto the truck and then re stacking them into the barn. Sharlee did most of the driving, but She did her fair share of bucking bales. Each night after a long day, was spent with the lot of them soaking in the hot tub drinking beer to ease the tough work. Mike’s shoulders and back felt more tired than achy at this point. The hard work of ranching and farming was as good for his soul as it was for his body.

His mind ran down the check list of things still to be done after his momma’s dinner. He had to check on the chickens, making sure that they were secure in the hen house. He had to double check on the veg in the hoop house. Even though the summer had been a warm, dry one, the weather here was always uncertain. The tomatoes, eggplant and peppers grown in the hoop house were an insurance against anything happening to the crops exposed to the elements nearby. The chickens and veg were usually his sister, Lilly’s chore, but she had her hand full helping momma take care of his sick father. Thankfully his sister insisted on milking the goats. He didn’t like goats, but the milk they provided made for some great cheese which he did like.

He’d have to do his brother’s chores as well, John was out of town on an errand, so the hogs would have to be fed and the sheep looked in on. The hogs would have to be moved to their new paddock in the morning. The cattle would be moved in the morning as well. Mike and his family had decided to implement some new ranch ideas following the new permaculture way of doing things which meant moving the animals to new areas constantly. The hogs and sheep weekly, and the cattle daily.

The song of crickets and frogs suddenly fell silent. The head light on his quad sputtered and went out as did the engine. It couldn’t be a fuel issue, he had filled the tank this morning.

A bright light from the empty sky blinded him. Mike put his hand up to try and see through the glare, but it was too much. His mind went fuzzy, as he felt his body rise from his seat on the quad. Blackness overwhelmed him as he felt like he was floating into the heavens.

--o0o—

Kelly pulled her long blonde hair into a ponytail and swung her back pack onto her back. Class had gotten out late and she would have to cut through the arboretum to get to work on time. Psychology was an interesting class, but the instructor always ran late. After the second week of this, she began wearing her running shoes and gym clothes to class.

The red rays of the setting sun reflecting off the windows of the nearby buildings disappeared casting the world in to mostly shades of gray and black. Luckily, she knew the way through the arboretum by now, the trees started to become friends as she raced by their large trunks and outstretched branches. The Oaks and Acers would give way to an array of fruit trees. Two weeks ago, she was able to grab the last handful or two of cherries as she made her way through. A few of the early apples were just starting to come into season and she was looking forward to those as well as the plums and pears.

Her best friend, Gabriela was working tonight, so that would be a load off of her mind. Gabriela’s parents owned a popular Mexican restaurant and had gratefully given her a flexible job as a bartender. The tips were okay, but the flexible hours were fantastic. Gabriela’s mother, Maria, had become a surrogate since her mother was killed in an auto accident when she was a young girl leaving her father to try to raise three daughters. Fortunately, he was lucky enough to find a second wife who could help him give her and her sisters the love and attention that they had been deprived of.
The various scents of the tree’s leaves tickled her nose as her lungs worked to pull in oxygen. The leaf mold decaying around the trunks added an earthiness that she enjoyed. It reminded her of the times when her mother would take her and her sisters, Darbie and Shannon out hiking in the woods on summer break. Shannon was just a baby then, usually in a baby pack on her mother’s back or in a baby sling tied to her front. Kelly still found herself sometimes crying at the loss of her mother and even more so that her baby sister never got to know her.

The air’s temperature suddenly warmed as she broke through the last of the Acers and into the orchard. Once across the orchard, she’d have to skirt the pond with a Japanese influence, she couldn’t rightfully call it a Japanese garden. Then across a gravel road and through the gate across a condo complex and to the restaurant. Even from here she could hear the frogs calling out to one another in that somewhat calming song of croaks.

Kelly tripped over a rock and sprawled across the meadow grass that had been cut long. The thick mat of the grass luckily cushioned her fall. As she was getting to her knees she noticed that the frogs had abruptly ended their recital. Was someone out here this late at night? She scanned the edges of the orchard and pond for moving shadows, but didn’t find any. She pulled a small mace canister from a strap pocket on her backpack. It was better to be safe and apologize than to be the victim.

A blazing bright light enveloped her. She hadn’t heard any helicopters nearby, and she couldn’t fathom a drone with that bright of a light. She raised her free hand to shield her eyes, but it involuntarily fell to her side as she felt her mind go fuzzy. Her heart began to race in a panic as she felt herself being lifted into the air. Her last thought was of fresh fruit from the orchard as blackness overcame her.

--o0o—

Mike took a sudden deep breath as if he had been underwater for a extended time longing for the surface. His mind reeled as if he had been drinking all night. The grass beneath him smelled different, and the additional aroma of fruit blossoms didn’t seem right. He tried to open his eyes but they felt extremely heavy. Instead he rolled over on to his back. Something wasn’t right. Many things weren’t right. His body felt alien, lighter than he remembered. The sounds of traffic were out of place. The nearest paved street to the ranch was nearly a mile away. Long grass tickled his nose. He moved his hand to push it away, but felt silky hair under his fingertips instead of grass.
The course feeling of grass and lumpy ground felt sharp against his skin. “Why am I naked.” He mumbled incoherently to any but himself. His voice sounded strange. This had to be the strangest hangover he had ever had. Even stranger was that he didn’t’ remember drinking.

His hand fell away from the hair and to his chest. “What the fuck!” He forced his eyes lids open even though they felt as if weighted by full feed sacks. The glow of city lights overpowered most of the stars that he was used to seeing at night. Mike pushed himself up feeling long hair fall around his bare shoulders and back and a strange weight pulled at his chest.

Mike looked down at the body of a naked woman. His hands flew to cup breasts. The breasts felt the soft delicate fingers cup them. Mike let out a bellow of shock, but what came out was a scream. A high-pitched scream.

Legs scrambled underneath the woman’s body, hands flailed as he fumbled to an upright position.
“Help!” he heard a high-pitched voice scream before realizing the voice was coming from his throat. “Oh my God, Oh my Lord, Oh my Lord.”
He whipped his head around scanning the area for clues of where he was, but long hair kept flying across his field of view, distracting him. Using his fingers, he managed to comb the hair out of his face, to cascade over his shoulders to caress the small of his back.

Mike almost threw his hands into the air as a flash of a memory of bright light consumed him. Another flash of a memory of his body drifting off the quad.

“Oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God, he began crying

“Miss?” a concerned voice called, Miss, are you all right?”

Mike spun around to see the shadow of a large man approaching. His shadow and those of strange trees back lit by city lights.

“Who are you?” Mike’s voice trembled in an octave he could hardly believe.

“Miss, I’m Campus Security.” The Shadow’s voice was soothing and calm.

*Miss?* Mikes brain was on overload. He looked from the shadow to the naked form of a woman below his neck. His knees gave way as he fought to wrap his brain around what was going on.
The shadow rushed forward “Miss, Campus Security, I’m here to help you. What happened? Where are your clothes? Did someone try to force themselves on you?” The questions seemed to be fired one atop the other. Everything was so confusing.

“Help me.” Mike wailed. “Something is wrong.” Something is very wrong.

“Are you hurt?” the officer inquired.

“I - - I don’t - - think – so.” Whose voice was this?” Mike’s brain screamed. Whose body is this?

The officer took off his shirt and wrapped it around Mike’s shoulders “What’s your name, Miss?”

“I – I’m not – sure.” Mike was afraid that he was losing his mind. What would the officer say or do if he said Mike? His eyes dropped from the officers down again to cleavage peeking out next to the buttons of the loaned shirt Long hair fell in a shroud blocking his peripheral vision.

“My name is Dante’. I’m going to take you to campus security. Are you sure you aren’t hurt?”

Mike shook his head and wondered as the long hair flowed back and forth. Mike glanced back at the orchard trees and to the spot where 'he' had regained consciousness.

This had to be a dream. He reached up and smacked his face with both hands. The pain was real enough.

“Miss have you taken anything recently?” the officer asked.

“Huh?”

“Have you taken any drugs in the past few hours? It won’t get you into trouble, I just need to know.”

“No.” He gently picked his way over the twig and leaf encrusted ground and through the trees.

Dante’s strong hands gently guided him as his mind churned, trying to make sense of what was going on.

Another flash of memory of the bright light caused him to flinch and squint his eyes.

“You okay, Miss?”

“Yes.” Mike shuddered. “I’m trying to remember what happened.” He shook his head as if to clear cobwebs and strange memories. “I can’t remember what happened.”

“It’s okay Miss. We are approaching the squad car.”

Mike looked up and nearly lost his balance, everything was out of proportion. The car looked too big in the yellow cast of the parking lot lights. The Shirtless officer seemed like a giant to his bewildered brain. it reminded Mike of the time he dislocated his shoulder. Sure it ached, but more pressing was his brain screaming that something wasn’t right.

The trunk of the car popped open and Dante’ pulled out a blanket. Mike felt like a little kid as this giant of a man wrapped it around his shoulders. “I’m sure we can find you something less…. Revealing back at the station. He pulled out a light jacket and pulled it on. “I’m sorry, Miss, but rules don’t allow me to let your ride in the front.”

Mike nodded his head in understanding as Dante’ opened the back door. Mike’s mind whirled as he had to climb into the car instead of sit down into it.

Dante’ to his credit kept conversation to small talk and didn’t press with any questions. The whole time, Mike found himself staring at dainty feminine hands with chipped dark red polish on the nails. He moved the fingers, as he studied them. They were definitely working on his accord. But they were just so diminutive.

“Here we are, Miss.” Dante’ parked and turned off the car. He opened the door and assisted Mike into a florescent lit station.

“Have a seat in here and I’ll see if I have some clothes for you.” He guided Mike into what looked like a conference room. “What size shoe do you wear?”

Mike glanced down at what looked like doll feet with the same color of polish chipping on the toenails. He looked back up at Dante’ and shrugged. “I don’t know.” There was that voice again. It sounded almost as if he had inhaled helium.

Dante’ looked down at his feet. “I’ll try my best. I’ll be right back.”

Mike made a quick scan of the room to see if there were any cameras or perhaps two way mirrors. He didn’t see any so this was indeed a conference room and not an interrogation room. Feeling a bit safer and more daring, He opened the blanket a little and looked down at the breasts on his chest. His hand reached up and touched a nipple and wondered at the strange sensation. His hand then moved down his abdomen to the, dare he say ‘his’? genitalia and found not the penis that he was born with but that of a woman’s.

Feeling very self-conscious, he jerked his hand back up to hold the blanket from the inside. It just felt too weird. Inside the blanket, he pinched himself hard. Pain would wake him up of he was dreaming, he thought. The pain was real enough, but he didn’t wake up.

A knock came from the open door and Dante’ stepped in. “I hope these will fit well enough. The Ladies room is just down the hall here.” He pointed.

“Thank you, Dante’” Mike stood and accepted the bundle of sweats. The strange sound of his voice startled him. He didn’t flinch, it just made his heart skip and flutter.

Mike paused before the door of the woman’s restroom. This was ‘No Man’s Land’. A woman’s sanctuary that men, just didn’t venture into, unless of course they were perverts.

Mike pushed open the door and was surprised that there wasn’t any pink. His mind always imagined that all women bathrooms were a pastel or mauve pink. This however was an off white. Sterile looking but not cold, either. The main difference that he spotted right away was that there were of course no urinals but instead several stalls.

Mike set the bundle of clothes on the counter and was startled by the reflection in the mirror. For a split second, he thought that the counter and mirror in the women’s bathroom had been raised, but a micro second later realized that he was staring out of the eyes of a petite, young woman.

The reflection of her, he just couldn’t call the reflection himself, showed a fairly pretty young lady in her mid-twenties with long blonde hair and eyes that could be described as green, or were they blue? His hand rose to the face and touched the cheeks and lips of the woman looking back at him.

“How did this happen?” the woman’s lips moved, but the words came out more of a whisper.

Mike neatly folded up the blanket and set it on the counter and realized that he needed to go to the bathroom. Part of him wanted to hold it until he had returned to his own body but the bladder will only wait for so long. He ventured into one of the stalls and was relieved to find the facilities clean. He sat down and relaxed the muscles. His face screwed as the release of urine felt very strange.

Once through with that unique and almost horrifying experience, Mike washed up and pulled on some gray sweatpants. He slid out of the officer’s loaned shirt and folded it neatly on the blanket.

Mike grabbed the sweatshirt but paused to look at the body that he seemed to be inhabiting then slid the sweatshirt over his head, pulled the bottom over the breasts then realized that the long blonde hair was trapped. As he’d seen women do so often, so he grabbed the hair at the scalp and pulled its length out from under the sweatshirt. The fleece fabric brushing against the bare breasts was a very interesting sensation.

Mike slipped tiny feet into hospital style socks with rubber tread on the bottom to prevent slipping. Mike looked in the mirror and shook his head. The blonde looking back shook hers identically.

“What the hell.” The woman in the mirror muttered. “Everyone is going to think I’m crazy.”

Mike blew out a deep breath and slipped back out of the bathroom.

“Better?” Dante’ inquired as Mike handed him the neatly folded blanket and shirt.

“Yes, thank you.” Mike smiled. “Better?” his brain reeled, “Better? Being back in his own body on the ranch would be better. This? He was in some strange woman’s body not knowing who she was, where he was or how he had gotten here.

“Sorry about the socks. I couldn’t find any shoes small enough. Can I get you some coffee? Tea?” Dante’ laid a huge hand gently on her back and guided her back to the room that she had first been shown.

“Tea?” Mike wanted coffee, but it was getting late. He hoped that this woman liked tea.

“Jules, could you bring this young lady some tea?” Dante’ invited Mike to sit and took a seat opposite. “Can you remember your name?”

*It’s Mike.* The rancher stated sarcastically in his brain. Instead, he shook his head. “I don’t remember anything except waking up out there, scared.”

“Do you remember how you got there?” Dante’ inquired.

Mike shook his head. Blonde hair falling forward obscuring his peripheral vision on one side. “I don’t even know where that was.”

“Maybe this will help.” Dante’ pulled a piece of paper from a folder and slid it forward. “I believe this is you. Does it ring any bells?”

Mike looked at a picture of the woman he had seen in the mirror. A picture of what he looked like. The long blonde hair had been loosely curled and one side pulled back, the curls falling over the opposite shoulder. A boisterous, lovely, friendly smile and eyes that were lit with mirth.

MISSING:
Kelly Rose Robinson was written below the photo
Last seen: Tuesday July 10th.
Reward for any information of here whereabouts.

“This is me?” Mike looked up from the paper. “How long have I been missing?”

“Do you know what day this is?” Dante’ asked.

“No.” In his head, *I wouldn’t ask if I knew.*

“It’s Monday.” Dante’ informed Mike. “You have been missing for six days.”

*Six days!* Mike found himself breathing heavily.

“Tea.” Jules, a middle-aged woman entered with a cup of steaming liquid.

“Thank you.” Mike took the hot mug from her.

“I know this is a sensitive subject, but did anyone do anything to you?” Dante’ asked. “You know, sexual? Drugs?”

“I really don’t believe so.” Mike blew on the tea and took a sip. *Kelly Rose Robinson is a tea drinker.* he decided. “Six days? Really? I feel like I just woke up after passing out. Are you sure it’s been six days?”

Dante’ looked hard at Kelly then down at the file in front of him and then back. “This isn’t some kind of prank is it?”

Mike set the tea down and turned the handle to face five o’clock then straightened the tea bag tag to fall at three o’clock. “Dante’” Mike folded his hands on the table in front of him and looked the officer in the eye. “I’m pretty freaked out here. I know I’m not sobbing in hysterics, but I am freaking out inside. I just woke up out in a strange place not knowing who I am, where I am or anything. I didn’t even know my name until you showed me this.” Mike pushed the MISSING poster back to him. I’m scared, and I just want to find something familiar.” Mike took a deep breath. “I assume I have parents. Have they been notified?”

Dante’ took a deep breath and nodded as he let it out. “Your dad and step-mom are on their way. But before they can take you home, you’ll need to get checked out by the hospital. If this is amnesia, then they will want to run some tests and see what’s going on.”

*What’s going on is that I was abducted by fucking aliens, but no one will believe that.* Mike’s brain screamed. *They’ll lock me up in some psych ward and throw away the key.*

“Dante’?” Mike made this strange voice soft and innocent. “Can you tell me where I am? What city am I in?”

“Nothing is familiar?” Dante’ questioned. “You don’t remember anything?”

*I remember trying to get into dinner after a hard day’s work and then a bright light!* his brain screamed. Instead, Kelly shook her head again.



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